Michigan's former GOP House Speaker pleads guilty to marijuana bribery, a natural psychedelic legalization bill is filed in Uruguay, and more.
Indiana Democrat Forces Marijuana Legalization Vote: GOP Lawmakers Defeat It. After years of being unable to get the Republican-dominated state legislature to consider marijuana legalization, one Democratic lawmaker came up with a creative way to get the issue heard. Rep. Justin Moed filed an amendment to Senate Bill 20, which addresses rules for businesses that sell alcohol and hemp products, that would strike language defining hemp as cannabis containing no more than 0.3 percent THC. By removing that language, the bill would have effectively legalized marijuana, with the regulations for hemp applying to any cannabis product. That amendment was defeated, but not before six Republican representatives joined Democrats in supporting it, demonstrating a hint of bipartisan support for legalization.
Former Michigan GOP House Speaker Pleads Guilty to Taking Bribes from Marijuana Company. Former Republican House Speaker Rick Johnson was one of four people who pleaded guilty Wednesday to bribery in a case where a medical marijuana company seeking a license paid him more than $110,000 to ensure it got its license. The other three defendants were the owner of the company and two lobbyists working with yet another company. Johnson, who left the speakership in 2004, was chairman of the state marijuana licensing board at the time the scheme occurred.
Cleveland Mayor Plans to Expunge Thousands of Marijuana Arrest, Conviction Records. Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb (D) announced Tuesday that the city will move forward with sealing thousands of marijuana records. The move comes after a state law allowing municipalities to process mass relief took effect. The mayor said there would be about 4,000 marijuana expungements for Cleveland citizens. Mayor Bibb sought to implement a mass marijuana clemency last year, only to be told by state officials that local officials did not have that authority. So he then worked with legislators to pass that state bill.
China Blames US for American Fentanyl Problem; Supports Mexico Against GOP Threats. In response to a letter from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador seeking Chinese help in quelling the illicit fentanyl trade, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson placed the blame for the fentanyl crisis squarely on the US. "The root cause of the overdose lies in the US itself. The problem is completely 'made in USA, '"the foreign ministry's Mao Ning said at a press briefing Thursday. "The US needs to face up to its own problems, take more substantial measures to strengthen domestic regulation and reduce demand. It cannot relapse into the illness of 'letting others take the pill when it is sick,' she added.
In his letter, Lopez Obrador falsely claimed that the drug is produced in China and only transits through Mexico, but US officials and independent observers say precursor chemicals are sent from China to Mexico, where the fentanyl is then produced in underground laboratories. And that gave China an opening to deny a role in the crisis.
"There is no such thing as illegal trafficking of fentanyl between China and Mexico," Mao said. "We two countries have a smooth channel of counternarcotics cooperation, and the competent authorities of the two countries maintain sound communication. China has not been notified by Mexico on the seizure of scheduled fentanyl precursors from China," she added.
Mao rebuked the US for threats by GOP lawmakers to unleash military force against Mexican cartels in Mexico, but also called on Mexico to step up its anti-drug efforts. "China firmly supports Mexico in defending independence and autonomy and opposing foreign interference and calls on the elevant country to stop hegemonic practices against Mexico. At the same time, we hope the Mexican side will also take stronger counternarcotics actions," Mao said.
Uruguay Natural Psychedelic Legalization Bill Filed. Led by Sen. Juan Sartori, the National Party is getting behind a bill that would legalize natural psychedelics for therapeutic use under a psychiatrist's supervisions. The substances that would be legalized include psilocybin, psilocin, ibogaine, and DMT. The National Party, a center-right formation, is the current governing party in Uruguay.