After election, marijuana advocates look to next states for legalization

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Law-abiding marijuana enthusiasts could find themselves in a predicament following voter approval of a recreational cannabis initiative in Missouri.

Though it soon will become legal for adults to possess and ingest cannabis, it could take a few months before they can legally buy it.

Maryland residents will have to wait even longer — until the middle of next year — before a voter approved recreational marijuana measure can take effect.

With the addition of Maryland and Missouri, 21 states have legalized recreational marijuana for adults over the past decade — even though it remains illegal under federal law.

Marijuana advocates are pressing forward with similar efforts elsewhere, undeterred by defeats in the general election in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Keep reading at bendbulletin.com

Marijuana Laws in All 50 States: Is Weed Legal Where You Live?

Voter referendums in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota this Election Day address whether recreational marijuana should be legal, as it is in 19 other states and Washington, DC. If all five measures pass, adult-use cannabis will be allowed in nearly half the US. 

In October, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order pardoning all federal convictions for simple marijuana possession. 

“There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing or educational opportunities as a result,” Biden said in a statement encouraging governors to make similar moves. 

Here’s what to know about marijuana legalization in the US, including which states have passed laws, what’s happening on the federal level and how Americans feel about legalizing pot. 

For more on marijuana, find out about the cannabis company sued for not making customers high enough and check out the hottest new pot gadgets.

Keep reading at CNet

Medical marijuana patients get good news, but producers fret over Pa.’s final law

Patients will get safer products and better service at dispensaries, health officials say, but growers and processors predict production headaches and delays – and possibly higher prices – from the final version of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law, approved Thursday.

The final law was a long time coming, with patients, growers/processors and dispensaries governed by temporary rules ever since Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana six years ago and products became available to patients in early 2018.

One of the best pieces of news for patients is a requirement that medical marijuana dispensaries must have a pharmacist available either on-site or remotely during all business hours.

Officials in the state health department, which regulates medical marijuana, said patients have complained of not being able to get answers to questions about things including what product is best for them, and the appropriate dose. Department officials also worried patients would rely on non-medical staff.

Read more at pennlive.com

GOP caucus ties cannabis to violence 

The Republican Study Committee—which represents nearly three out of four House GOP lawmakers—released a “Family Policy Agenda” that opposes legalization of marijuana and attempts to link it to suicide and violence. Some members spoke out against their own group’s agenda when approached by Marijuana Moment.

The Colombian Chamber of Representatives First Committee approved a marijuana legalization bill. The action comes as new President Gustavo Petro is broadly calling for an end to the war on drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration admitted in a new video that “racial, ethnic and class prejudice” led to drug criminalization and the agency’s own founding.

  • “What had been a medical condition became deviant or criminal. This shift led to a wave of laws against heroin, marijuana and cocaine.”

Keep reading at Marijuana Moment

Voters In Five States To Decide On Legalizing Weed This November

This November, voters in five states—Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota—will decide on whether they want to legalize adult-use marijuana. 

Currently, 19 states, comprising 44 percent of the U.S. population, have legal adult-use marijuana markets. If voters in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota approve adult-use, about half of the U.S. population will reside in a jurisdiction where the possession and use of cannabis are legal for adults.

Because recent polling shows that most of these measures enjoy majority support from the public, experts are predicting a successful outcome at the ballot box for all aforementioned states, regardless of their being “red” or “blue.” 

Read more at Forbes

Lawmakers ask Parson to add marijuana legalization to special session

A bipartisan group of lawmakers and activists are calling for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to include marijuana legalization on the agenda of the legislature’s upcoming special session.

The group also announced the launch of a campaign aimed at defeating a marijuana legalization constitutional amendment set to appear on the November ballot.

The legislature is set to return to the Capitol on Sept. 14 to debate a $700 million tax cut plan laid out by the governor.

“Rather than settle for an ill-suited and monopolistic program shoehorned into our (state) constitution, the Missouri General Assembly has an unique opportunity to consider legislation that would legalize cannabis in a truly free market fashion,” said state Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon.

Read more at Columbia Missourian

Malaysia mulling legalising cannabis, kratom for medical purposes: Thai public health minister

BANGKOK – Malaysia is considering legalising cannabis and kratom for medical use, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday.

He made the remark after a discussion with Malaysia’s ambassador to Thailand, Jojie Samuel, on the issue at the Public Health Ministry in Nonthaburi province.

The discussion is considered a preparation to welcome Malaysia’s health minister who will participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Thailand of ministers responsible for health.

Anutin said Thailand and Malaysia have studied and exchanged knowledge about the two herbs so far. He added that Malaysia is studying its laws to legalise cannabis.

“If Malaysia announces cannabis legalisation for medical use, it will be the second Asian country to remove cannabis from the narcotics list,” he said.

Read more at asianews.network

States With Legalized Cannabis Have Fewer Synthetic Cannabinoid Poisonings

Each year, U.S. Poison Control Centers receive hundreds of calls related to synthetic cannabinoid poisonings. 

These drugs — with names like Spice, K2, and Mr. Nice Guy — can cause severeTrusted Source, life threatening health effects such as agitation, confusion, psychosis, and seizures.

Overall, synthetic cannabinoid exposures have dropped in recent years, Poison Control data shows — falling from a high of 7,792 in 2015 to 984 in 2021. That number continued to decline in 2022, with 313 cannabinoid exposures as of July 31.

Some researchers have attributed this decline, at least among adolescents, to increased federal regulation of these compounds, which has reduced their availability.

But a new analysis, published online on August 8 in Clinical Toxicology, suggests that the drop in synthetic cannabinoid poisonings may be due, in part, to the legalization of recreational cannabis in various states, which provides the option for many people to legally buy safer cannabis products, depending on where they live.

Read more at Healthline

First pot, then magic mushrooms? Decriminalization is spreading

As cannabis legalization spreads across the globe, another mind-altering drug is trying to follow in its tracks: magic mushrooms.

Denver voted in May to decriminalize the fungus that contains psilocybin, a psychedelic compound popularized by ’60s counterculture. Oakland, California followed Denver’s lead a few weeks later and Oregon is trying to get a similar measure on the ballot for 2020.

Advocates say mushrooms have untapped medical potential that could be as big as cannabis, particularly for treating depression and addiction. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted “breakthrough therapy” status in October to Compass Pathways Ltd. to test the drug for treatment-resistant depression, expediting the development process. The London-based company says it’s now proceeding with a large-scale clinical trial in Europe and North America.

Read more at BNN Bloomberg

FDA Head Wants New Regulations for Kratom and CBD

The head of the Food and Drug Administration says his agency will need new authority from Congress to regulate both kratom and cannabidiol (CBD), two natural substances used by millions of Americans to self-treat their pain and other medical conditions.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf testified on Thursday before a House Appropriations subcommittee, where he was asked why the agency was slow in developing new regulations for CBD and why it remained opposed to the use of kratom. Califf said new regulatory pathways were needed for both substances because they fall between the cracks of existing law that gives the FDA broad authority to regulate food and drugs.

“I don’t think the current authority we have, on the food side and the drug side, necessarily gives us what we need to have to get the right pathway to move us forward. We’re going to have to come up with something new. I’m very committed to doing that,” said Califf.

Read more at Pain News Network

Top Federal Drug Official Pressed On Marijuana, Kratom And Drug Decriminalization At Congressional Hearing

Several congressional lawmakers pressed a top federal drug official on Wednesday about their concerns over marijuana legalization, though they seemed to signal that they view the reform as inevitable.

Members of the House Appropriations subcommittee for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies directed several cannabis questions at National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow. Lawmakers also talked about the therapeutic potential of kratom, as well as broader drug decriminalization issues.

Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) broadly asked Volkow about any “problems” she’s focused on with respect to cannabis legalization. But while he signaled he’s opposed to the reform, the congressman also said the “horse is already out of the barn probably” as more states adopt legalization and Congress moves to end federal prohibition.

Keep reading at Marijuana Moment

Democratic lawmakers call for recreational marijuana legalization

Democratic lawmakers want to legalize marijuana, and they’re urging Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature to do it now.

Thus far, Democrats have proposed at least 10 marijuana-related bills in the 2022 Legislative Session. At least one measure would outright legalize marijuana (HB 467), while another would decriminalize the drug and other addictive substances.

All will face an uphill battle in Tallahassee.

“A bill legalizing marijuana has never been heard in the Florida House,” Democratic Rep. Yvonne Hinson said at a Thursday news conference. “That needs to change this year. States are legalizing cannabis all over the nation, and Florida is falling behind.”

States including New York, Virginia and New Mexico legalized recreational marijuana in 2021 via voter initiatives. Meanwhile, three states — Arizona, Montana and New Jersey — OK’d recreational marijuana use in 2020 via legislation.

Get the full story at the Fernandina Observer.

Marijuana is legal in Virginia but not on college campuses, causing confusion over what’s allowed

Marijuana is legal in the state of Virginia now, but the drug is still banned on college campuses. This added wrinkle has caused confusion over whether students and employees can possess it, where they can carry it or consume it, and whose rules they might be breaking by doing so.

When the General Assembly passed the law this year, it included several caveats. The user must be 21 years old, marijuana can’t be consumed in public, and possessing more than an ounce is illegal.

Colleges added or reminded students of another rule: Bringing the drug onto campus violates their anti-drug policies. While there is no statewide policy, many colleges in Virginia independently came to the conclusion that they couldn’t allow marijuana without risking the loss of federal funding for failing to comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.

Keep reading at Richmond.com.

Amazon Is Lobbying the U.S. to Legalize Weed

Amazon is ramping up its pro-weed campaign, announcing on Tuesday that it is actively lobbying for legislative reforms aimed at decriminalization and reaffirming its commitment to not screening job applicants for cannabis.

Beth Galetti, Amazon’s senior vice president of human resources, declared in a blog post the company’s support for two pieces of legislation aimed at decriminalizing cannabis nationwide. The move comes amid expanding legalization at the state level, with 36 states allowing some level of public access to cannabis and 18 states plus Washington, DC, legalizing recreational adult use.

The first is the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act), introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, which would remove cannabis from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, effectively decriminalizing it at the federal level.

Keep reading at Gizmodo.

N.J. has dismissed 88K weed cases under new marijuana law

ew Jersey has vacated or dismissed tens of thousands of marijuana convictions as the state continues to work out the details of its new legal cannabis market.

The state Judiciary has dealt with 88,000 cases so far, it announced Monday evening. These are the first wave of an estimated 360,000 identified that qualify for expungement.

Cases that have been vacated or dismissed still need to be expunged. That’s the step that ultimately clears a person’s record. That phase will come in the next few months, according to the judiciary.

A state Supreme Court order issued earlier this month laid out a process for vacating, expunging and dismissing certain marijuana offenses from people’s records. These include selling less than one ounce of marijuana and possession, as well as related crimes like possession of drug paraphernalia, being under the influence, failing to turn over marijuana or being or possessing marijuana while in vehicle.

Read the full story at NJ.com.

St. Louis CBD retailer ‘blacklisted’ by credit card company, lawsuit claims

A St. Louis-based CBD retailer is fighting credit card company Visa in court, alleging the business has been unfairly blacklisted, according to a lawsuit that moved forward in federal court this week.

The suit was first brought in 2018 by MNG 2005 Inc., parent company of CBD Kratom, which has 40 retail stores across the U.S., including 14 in St. Louis.

The company claims that in March 2018 it contracted with JPMorgan Chase Bank to process credit card payments for online orders, but the company got a warning from a Visa contractor, G2 Web Services, that CBD Kratom was added to a “blacklist” because it was engaging in illegal activity and was part of a law enforcement investigation.

Chase in response shut down the retailer’s account on May 1, 2018, and withheld $66,500 in payments from customers, the suit claims.

Read more at St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Sen. Scutari, author of N.J. legal weed proposal, talks possible legalization Tuesday at public forum

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari is author of the adult-use, recreational marijuana legalization bill that never made it to the Senate for a full vote. You know by now New Jersey cannabis legalization is Public Question 1 (on the other side of the ballot if you haven’t voted yet).

If the ballot question passes — which seems likely considering most New Jersey voters support legalization according to several polls — Scutari’s bill will be used as a framework to draft enabling legislation.

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Scutari will join NJ Cannabis Insider reporter Justin Zaremba for a discussion about what the future of cannabis in the state may look like after Nov. 3. The half-hour program, which starts at 1 p.m., will be streamed live on NJ.com’s Facebook page.

Scutari told NJ Cannabis Insider recently he is reviewing with the state Assembly the legislation he drafted that would regulate and tax weed and end arrests for possession.

Keep reading at NJ.com

How you can help 6 state legalization campaigns right now

In the final two-week run-up to Election Day on Nov. 3, legalization efforts in six states are looking for a final push to win over undecided voters.

Here’s how you can help.

Arizona

Prop. 207, adult-use legalization, is gaining support among Arizona voters as Election Day nears. In a mid-October poll, 56% of contacted voters approved of Prop. 207, while 36% opposed and 7% were undecided.

To move those undecideds into the approval category, the Smart and Safe Arizona campaign can use your help.

Mississippi

Mississippi’s Medical Marijuana 2020 campaign has a tough challenge: Convince residents to vote for Initiative 65 (the real legalization measure) and not Initiative 65A (the fake measure).

Every dime makes a difference! Donate here.

New Arizona Polls Show Narrow Support for Legalization

Arizona voters will likely support cannabis legalization during November’s General Election as a new Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network poll found 45.6 percent back the reforms with 34.2 percent opposed, AZ Central reports.

The poll comes about one month out from the election.

The poll did find 19.2 percent of respondents were still undecided – a large enough cohort to defeat the initiative. In 2016, Arizona voters narrowly rejected the reforms 52-48 percent.

The poll found 59 percent of Democrats support Proposition 207, with 20 percent opposed and 21 percent undecided. Just 30 percent of Republicans said they supported the reforms, with 50 percent opposed and 20 percent undecided.

A separate poll by Smart and Safe Arizona – the campaign behind the initiative – released last week found 50 percent support and 34 percent opposed, according to the report.

Keep reading

Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf, Lt. Gov. Fetterman Again Urge Lawmakers To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman are once again urging lawmakers to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous disruptions to the economy and with the additional federal aid stagnating in Congress, we need to do everything we can right here in Harrisburg right now to help ourselves to recover from this pandemic,” Wolf said.

“Legalizing cannabis is serious policy for serious times. I put this challenge out against to the legislature,” Fetterman said. “We’re talking about generating billions in long-term revenue for Pennsylvania, we’re talking about generating tens of thousands of jobs.”

Pennsylvania’s Republican-led Assembly has previously opposed the legalization. They said a bill would need to work its way through the Senate Committee Process to be vetted.

Read more at CBS