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GOP Snipes at Dems Over Looming House Legal Pot Vote, Congressional Report on Hemispheric Drug War, More (12/2/20)

Republicans seek to make political hay out of the looming House vote on marijuana legalization, a New Mexico criminal justice reform coalition gears up to push for pot legalization there, and more.

A vote on marijuana legalization looms in the House. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Congressional Republicans Use MORE Act Vote to Snipe at Democrats. GOP lawmakers are trying to score political points by attacking House Democrats for holding a vote this week on a marijuana legalization bill, the MORE Act (HR 3884). In a seemingly coordinated campaign, GOP members attacked the Democrats for taking up the MORE ACT before additional coronavirus relief is passed. Here's a representative tweet from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): "This week, your House Democrat majority is tackling the tough issues by holding a vote on legalizing pot and banning tiger ownership. Nothing for small businesses. Nothing for re-opening schools. Nothing on battling the pandemic. Just cannabis and cats."

New Mexico Criminal Justice Reform Coalition Gears Up to Press for Marijuana Legalization. Advocates for marijuana legalization have formed a criminal justice reform coalition, New Mexico Safe, to push for marijuana legalization. The group presented information to state lawmakers Tuesday night ahead of next year's legislative session, which begins next month. "This priority is one that obviously generates revenue and reinvest some of those dollars back into the public health system and back into communities that have been most harmed by substance use disorder," said Emily Katzenbach of the Drug Policy Alliance, which is a member of the coalition.

Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Adds Two More Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana. The state Department of Health has added sickle cell disease and chronic vocal or motor tic disorder to the state's list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. The change will go into effect in August 2021. An effort to an anxiety as a qualifying condition was denied but will be revisited next year. The state currently allows medical marijuana for 15 qualifying conditions.

Foreign Policy

US Congressional Commission Report Calls for Overhaul of War on Drugs in Latin America. The congressional Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission is calling for a "smarter" approach to hemispheric drug policy in a bipartisan report to be released later this week. The current approach has not stopped drug smuggling or reduced high rates of violence and corruption in the region, the report says. "An increasingly complex threat requires a more agile, adaptive long-term strategy," the report says, stressing that the COVID pandemic has only increased the problem. "The pandemic has exacerbated conditions that are worsening our ongoing opioid crisis, such as lack of adequate treatment, economic distress, and social isolation," said the report. It also noted that some anti-drug policies, such as forced coca eradication and the targeting of "drug kingpins" have had harmful and counterproductive consequences.

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