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Chronicle AM: SD MMJ initiative Qualifies for Ballot, New Zealand Pill Testing Study, More... (12/20/19)

South Dakota voters will get to decide on okaying medical marijuana next year, Chicago legal sales are set to begin January 1, New Zealand's government pays for a pill-testing study, and more.

Chicago legal marijuana sales will begin January 1, despite concerns over diversity. (Creative Commons)
Trump Administration Moves to Deny Asylum Over Misdemeanor Marijuana Offenses. As part of its crackdown on immigration, the Trump administration has proposed changing immigration policy to prevent people convicted of various misdemeanor and felony offenses from claiming asylum in the US. That would include any marijuana offense except for a first offense involving possession of less than 30 grams. The proposal is open to public comment through January 21.

New Mexico Poll Show Very Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new poll from Change Research has support for marijuana legalization in the Land of Enchantment at a whopping 73%. This just a month ahead of a legislative special session where the governor is expected to back a legalization bill.

Vermont House Speaker Says Majority of Lawmakers Back Legalizing Marijuana Sales. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) said Thursday that there is enough support in her chamber to pass a marijuana sales legalization bill this year. But Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D) has said the legislation isn't a priority in his chamber. On Thursday, he said the Senate is in "wait and see mode" on what changes the House may make.

Chicago City Council Rejects Delay; Legal Marijuana Sales Will Begin January 1. At a contentious meeting Wednesday night, the city council rejected a bid to delay marijuana sales until July 1. The move came a day after a council committee approved the delay, citing complaints that minorities were losing out on ownership of city marijuana businesses. Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) opposed the delay, saying diversity could be addressed without delaying the sales rollout.

Medical Marijuana

South Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative Qualifies for November 2020 Ballot. For the third time, state voters will have the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana via the ballot box. Secretary of State Steve Barnett (R) announced Thursday that a medical marijuana initiative, Initiated Measure 26, has qualified to appear on the November 2020 ballot. The measure is supported by New Approach South Dakota and the Marijuana Policy Project.

International

New Zealand Government Will Fund Pill-Testing Study. The New Zealand government has funded a study to research pill-testing at music festivals, marking the first time such a study will have been done in the country. Under current law, festival promoters can be charged for allowing recreational drug use at their events, but authorities have at times turned a blind eye to the harm reduction practice and the national police approve of the study. It will be conducted by a criminology team from the Victoria University of Wellington.

Chronicle AM: New Pot Polls Look Good, Pot Initiative Action, Dutch Push for Legal Ecstasy, More... (12/17/19)

Protections for state-level marijuana legalization programs gets stripped from a federal funding bill, two new polls have strong national support for legalization, a Dutch political party is pushing for the legalization of Ecstasy and soft drugs, and more.

As the year comes to an end, there's a lot of action on the state-level marijuana legalization front. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Majority of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization, Two More Polls Show. Two new polls show solid majorities for marijuana legalization. A Fox News poll has 63% supporting legalizing "the recreational use of marijuana at the national level," while a Marist/NPR/PBS poll had 62% saying legalizing marijuana is "a good idea." That's in line with most polls in recent years.

House-Passed Marijuana Amendments Stripped from Congressional Spending Bills. A number of marijuana-related provisions, including one that would have provided protection for tribal and state-legal recreational marijuana, have been stripped from large-scale spending legislation after negotiations with the Senate. Negotiators did agree to keep a long-running rider that protects state-level medical marijuana programs.

Kentucky Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed. State Rep. Cluster Howard (D-Jackson) has pre-filed a bill to legalize marijuana and use tax revenues to fund the state's retirement system. All license and wholesale tax revenues would go either to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (75%) or the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (25%). The bill would legalize the possession of up to an ounce by adults and set up a system of state-regulated cultivation, processing, testing, and sales.

Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative Falls Short on Signatures. The Regulate Florida campaign to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the 2020 ballot has fallen short. On Monday, the campaign conceded that it would not make a January 1 deadline for handing in signatures. A second legalization initiative, sponsored by Make It Legal Florida, is still alive.

New Jersey Legislature Approves 2020 Marijuana Legalization Referendum. Large majorities of lawmakers on Monday approved a proposed ballot question on whether to legalize marijuana. That means voters will decide the issue in November 2020. They also approved a bill to expunge records for low-level drug offenses.

North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative Approved for Signature Gathering. Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) on Monday approved the Legalize ND marijuana legalization initiative for signature gathering. Now, the group needs 13,500 valid voter signatures by July 6 to get the measure on the 2020 ballot. It would allow any person over the age of 21 to use, possess, and transport up to two ounces of prepared marijuana, but it would ban home growing of the plant.

Oklahoma Marijuana Legalization Initiative Filed. Sooner State activists have filed a marijuana legalization initiative, State Question 806, that would legalize the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana, as well as set up a system of state-regulated and -taxed sales. Organizers have until September 4 to come up with 178,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the 2020 ballot.

International

Dutch Coalition Party to Push for Legalizing Ecstasy, Soft Drugs The D66 Party, a member of the governing coalition, is moving to legalize soft drugs and Ecstasy in a bid to reduce drug crime and health harms. The party is asking Dutch celebrities to support a national manifesto on which it is working. Current drug policy is failing and "no longer tenable", according to the D66. "We have to face the reality: people use drugs in the Netherlands. It is important that we not label these people as criminals, but focus on providing information," the party said. "In the manifesto we opt for a regulated drug market, such as regulation of ecstasy. Only in this way can we minimize health risks and tackle drug crime."

Chronicle AM: MLB Drug Testing Accord, US Charges Former Mexican Top Cop for Cartel Bribes, More... (12/12/19)

Major League Baseball and its players' union have reached a drug testing agreement, Wisconsin's GOP Senate leader kills a medical marijuana bill, and more.

Major League Baseball players will no longer be tested for marijuana, but now will be tested for opioids. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Kansas Residents Want Marijuana Legalization, Poll Finds. The annual Kansas Speaks survey, conducted by Fort Hayes State University, finds that 63% of respondents either "strongly support" or "somewhat support" legalizing and taxing marijuana for adult use. Only 26% "somewhat oppose" or "strongly oppose" it. The state doesn't even have legal medical marijuana yet.

Medical Marijuana

Wisconsin GOP Senate Leader Snuffs Out GOP Medical Marijuana Bill. Republicans Rep. Mary Felzowski and Sen. Kathy Bernier tried Wednesday to get a medical marijuana bill moving, only to be shot down by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald once again rejected the bill, saying he personally opposed and that he didn't think it would pass the GOP-controlled Senate.

Drug Testing

Major League Baseball, Players Union Agree on Drug Testing Policy. Major League Baseball and the players' union have agreed on a new drug testing policy that will add opioid testing for major leaguers and will not punish either minor or major league players for marijuana use. The move comes five months after the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs from an opioid overdose.

International

US Charges Former Mexican Top Cop with Taking Sinaloa Cartel Bribes. The US has charged former Mexican federal police overseer Genaro Garcia Luna with taking millions of dollars in bribes from Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel. He was arrested Monday in Texas after being indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn on three counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy and one count of making false statements for helping the cartel operate "with impunity" in Mexico. Garcia Luna served as Mexico's secretary of public security from 2006 to 2012 and has been living in the United States since 2012. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and the maximum of a life sentence.

Chronicle AM: CBS News Pot Poll, MA Senate Kills Car Seizure Provision in Anti-Vaping Bill, More... (11/21/19)

There's another national pot poll showing a strong majority for legalization, an Arizona poll shows majority support, too; the ONDCP announces some opioid crisis spending initiatives, and more.

"Got any untaxed vaping products in there, son?" (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

CBS News Poll Hits Record High in Support for Marijuana Legalization. A new CBS News poll has support for marijuana legalization at 65%, an all-time high for the CBS poll and in line with other recent polling. Now, even a majority (56%) of Republicans favor it and even among Americans over 65 legalization has more support than opposition.

Arizona Poll Has a Majority for Marijuana Legalization. A new poll from OH Predictive Insights has support for marijuana legalization among registered voters at 54%, with only 33% opposed. The poll comes as at least two different legalization initiative campaigns are vying to get on the 2020 ballot. A 2016 legalization initiative was narrowly defeated.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

ONDCP Announces More Than $4 Million in Grants for Local Programs Combating the Opioid Crisis. Today, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll announced $4.5 million in grants to help local programs counter the effects of the opioid crisis in their communities. ONDCP, the University of Baltimore, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collaboratively selected 14 programs in areas of the United States to receive “Combating Opioid Overdose through Community-Level Intervention (COOCLI)” grants. The projects, which will be overseen by the University of Baltimore, will employ a range of approaches such as identifying individuals most at risk of overdosing, supporting medication-assisted treatment in jails, collaborating with public safety agencies, and connecting high-risk pregnant and postpartum women and their children to opioid use disorder care coordination services.

Vaping

Massachusetts Senate Strips Vehicle Seizure Provision from Vaping Bill. The state Senate on Wednesday amended a bill banning flavored tobacco and taxing e-cigarettes to remove a provision that would have allowed the police to seize the vehicle of anyone driving with untaxed vaping products in the car. State law allows the seizure of vehicles in which untaxed cigarettes and tobacco products are found (!). This bill would have extended that provision to vaping products, but was removed on a 39-0 vote after lawmakers raised concerns about proportionality. 

Chronicle AM: New Pew Pot Poll, New AZ Pot Initiative, MI Retail Pot Sales Could Start Soon, More... (11/14/19)

A new Pew pot poll holds few surprises, a second Arizona marijuana legalization initiative is rolled out, a second Florida marijuana legalization initiative passes a key threshold, and more.

Marijuana Policy

Pew Poll: Two-Thirds Support Marijuana Legalization. A new Pew poll finds that two-thirds of Americans say the use of marijuana should be legal, continuing a steady increase in support over the past decade. At the same time, the number of American adults who oppose legalization has declined from 52% in 2010 to 32% now.

Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative Rolled Out. The Arizona Cannabis Chamber of Commerce rolled out its marijuana legalization initiative, the Small Business Liberty Act, Wednesday. The measure would allow for 230 retail outlets for marijuana sales, a hundred more than current exist as medical marijuana dispensaries. The measure also legalizes possession of up to an ounce for personal use and would impose an excise tax of no more than 16%. Players in the state's medical marijuana industry have already filed their own initiative, the Smart and Safe Act. That initiative would limit marijuana retail outlets to about 170 and reserve most licenses for those who already have medical marijuana retail licenses.

Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative Passes Signature Milestone. The marijuana legalization initiative sponsored by Make It Legal Florida, which is backed by the state's biggest medical marijuana companies, has officially collected more than 77,000 verified voter signatures, triggering a review of its language by the state Supreme Court. The group said Wednesday it has already gathered nearly 390,000 raw signatures; it needs 766,200 valid voter signatures by February 1 to qualify for the 2020 ballot. A second legalization initiative sponsored by Regulate Florida reached the threshold in August.

Michigan Legal Recreational Pot Sales Could Begin as Early as December 1. In a surprise move, the state's Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced Wednesday that medical marijuana businesses, including growers and processors, can transfer half their inventory to the recreational market as of December 1, provided they have received a recreational license from the state. But buds for the recreational market may not be available then as the state works to ensure that the medicinal market supply is not disrupted. Edibles and other products should be available, though.

Chronicle AM: Senate Extends Protections for State MMJ Programs, PA Pot Poll, More... (11/1/19)

New South Wales ponders drug decriminalization, the Senate extends protections for state medical marijuana programs, and more.

Ice (methamphetamine). Australia's New South Wales is pondering drug decriminalization as it looks at meth use. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

Pennsylvania Poll Has Strong Support for Legalization, Less for State-Run Stores. A new Franklin & Marshall College poll has support for marijuana legalization at 58%, but 40% are much less likely to support it if pot would be sold in state liquor stores.

Medical Marijuana

Senate Approves Bill Protecting Medical Marijuana States from Federal Intervention. The Senate on Thursday approved a "minibus" appropriations bill covering several agencies that extends a provision protecting state medical marijuana programs from federal interference. The House has passed a version of the bill with even broader protections for all state marijuana programs, so the question now is whether the House language will be adopted in the final bill.

International

Australia's New South Wales Ponders Drug Decriminalization. The New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry into Ice (methamphetamine) will release its recommendations next week, but there are already indications that the commission will lean in the direction of harm reduction approaches, as well as drug decriminalization. The commission will reportedly also recommend pill testing at a fixed site and possibly music festivals and expanding the use of safe injection sites.

Chronicle AM: The Lancet Comes Out Hard for Drug Decriminalization, Kansas City Weed Brouhaha, More... (10/24/19)

A Kansas City city council meeting over marijuana decriminalization gets heated, a Florida poll shows good numbers for marijuana legalization, The Lancet comes out swinging on drug decriminalization, and more.

Hydrocodone. The DEA is tightening rules for opioid manufacturers. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Florida Poll Has Strong Majority for Legalization. A new poll from the Public Opinion Research Lab has support for marijuana legalization at 64%, including 54% of Republicans. The poll comes as two different legalization initiatives are vying to get on the 2020 ballot. One of them is a constitutional amendment, which requires 60% of the vote to be approved.

Kansas City Brouhaha Over Municipal Marijuana Reform. Things got heated at the Kansas City, Missouri, city council meeting Wednesday night as a council committee unanimously passed a measure that would wipe out a municipal violation for anyone caught with 35 grams or less of marijuana after 180 days. But the proposal was originally to decriminalize up to 100 grams and was altered considerably and passed without a second public hearing, angering dozens of residents who had shown up to support the original effort. The measure goes to the full council next week.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

DEA Unveils New Rule on Opioid Manufacturers After Criticism. A proposed rule published Wednesday would even further restrict opioid manufacturing. The agency sets quotas each year for how many opioid medications manufacturers can produce in the US. The proposed new rule would require that appropriate quota reductions be made after estimating the potential for pills to be sold illegally.

International

Britain's Leading Medical Journal Comes Out for Drug Decriminalization. Medical journal The Lancet has come out hard for drug decriminalization in a special drugs issue released Wednesday. The medical profession must fight for the rights of drug users and offer them "solidarity and protection from the worst excesses of populist politics," according to an editorial introducing the issue. The editorial noted that "policies that might improve the lives of people with health problems relating to drug use are not seen as substantial vote winners."

Chronicle AM: Support for MJ Legalization Steady at 2/3, Chicago Psychedelic Resolution, More... (10/23/19)

Support for marijuana legalization holds steady at 66% in the latest Gallup poll, the Chicago city council approves a resolution on natural psychedelics, British MPs call for drug decriminalization, and more.

Support for marijuana legalization remains high, but has leveled off in this new Gallup poll.
Marijuana Policy

Gallup Poll Has Support for Legalization Steady at Two-Thirds. A new Gallup poll has support for marijuana legalization nationwide at 66%, unchanged from last year. This marks the first time in several years that support has not increased. Support for legalization has more than doubled since 2000, and had increased each year since 2013 until plateauing last year at 66%.

Medical Marijuana

Kansas Lawmakers Discuss Legalizing Medical Marijuana. Legislators met in Topeka Wednesday to discuss how to advance medical marijuana in the state. The hearing is in front of the Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs and was scheduled to go all day long. Past efforts in the legislature have gone nowhere.

Connecticut Lawmakers Approve New Qualifying Conditions. The General Assembly's Regulations Review Committee voted Tuesday to add five qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use by adults, including Tourette syndrome and intractable neuropathic pain. The legislators also approved medical marijuana as a treatment for patients under age 18 with those same two conditions. The regulations now go to the Secretary of State's office, which will post them online, making them final.

Rhode Island Governor Files Lawsuit to Block Lawmakers from Regulating Medical Cannabis, Hemp. Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) has filed a lawsuit against the General Assembly arguing that lawmakers unconstitutionally awarded themselves new powers to regulate the industry earlier this year. In the state budget, the Assembly mandated that it approve all new marijuana regulations. That's what Raimondo is objecting to.

Psychedelics

Chicago City Council Approves Resolution on Psychedelics. The city council last Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution expressing support for research on the potential use of psychoactive plants and pledging support for adult use of the substances. The measure is only a resolution -- not an ordinance -- and is thus only advisory, but aldermen may propose a future ordinance to decriminalize such plants.

Drug Treatment

New York Activists Decry Delay in Addiction Treatment Bill. Demonstrators rallied outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) New York City office Tuesday to demand that he sign a bill that would expand low-income New Yorkers' access to drug treatment. The bill passed the legislature in June. Protestors held signs saying "Governor, while you wait, New Yorkers die." The bill would remove prior authorization requirements for people on Medicaid seeking medication-assisted treatment, which has shown to be effective at preventing overdose.

International

British MPs Say UK Should Consider Decriminalizing Drugs. Members of Parliament's Health and Social Care Committee said Tuesday that the government should investigate decriminalizing drug possession in a bid to reduce the rising number of overdose deaths. The committee found that UK drug policy was "clearly failing," that the level of such deaths was an "emergency," and that a "radical new approach" to drug policy was needed.

Chronicle AM: Philly Safe Injection Site Wins Legal Victory, Pot Companies Call for Descheduling, More... (10/3/19)

A federal judge hands a preliminary legal victory to proponents of a Philadelphia safe injection site, hundreds of marijuana industry figures call on Congress to deschedule marijuana as a means of grappling with the vaping crisis, and more.

At the InSite safe injection site in Vancouver. Could a similar facility be coming to Philadelphia? (vch.ca)
Marijuana Policy

Hundreds of Marijuana Companies Sign Letter Calling for Descheduling to Prevent Vaping Injuries. Some 800 marijuana industry executives have signed onto a letter to Congress calling on that body to deschedule marijuana as a means of reducing the risks of vaping black market marijuana products. The letter was delivered to Congress Thursday.

Massachusetts Sued Over Marijuana Vaping, E-Cig Ban. The Vapor Technology Association, a national vaping industry trade organization, has filed suit in federal court seeking to block the state's recently instituted four-month ban on sales of marijuana vapes as well as e-cigarettes. Massachusetts last month became the first state to ban the sale of marijuana and tobacco vaping products.

Drug Policy

Majority of Americans Support Decriminalizing All Drugs, Poll Finds. A new poll from the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute finds a majority support decriminalizing all drugs. The poll of 1,700 adults found that 55% would rather treat drug offenses as infractions than as criminal offenses, with 44% opposed. Among Democrats, 69% favored decriminalization; among independents, 54%; among Republicans only 40%.

Harm Reduction

Federal Judge Rules Proposed Philadelphia Safe Injection Site Doesn't Violate Federal Law. US District Judge Gerald McHugh ruled Wednesday that a nonprofit group's plan to open a safe injection site in Philadelphia does not violate federal law. The judge ruled that the "crack house" provision of the Controlled Substances Act does not apply to the group's bid to assist opioid users. "No credible argument can be made that facilities such as safe injection sites were within the contemplation of Congress" when that body wrote the law in 1986 or amended it in 2003, McHugh wrote. "I cannot conclude that Safehouse [the safe injection site] has, as a significant purpose, the objective of facilitating drug use. Safehouse plans to make a place available for the purposes of reducing the harm of drug use, administering medical care, encouraging drug treatment and connecting participants with social services."

Chronicle AM: Mexico Marijuana Legalization Bill, US-China Exchange Fentanal Complaints, More... (9/4/19)

Half of Arizonans area ready to legalize marijuana, a Mexican senator files a marijuana legalization bill, US and China officials trade fentanyl complaints, more.

A marijuana legalization bill has been filed in Mexico as a Supreme Court deadline looms. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Arizona Poll Has 50% for Legalization. A new OH Predictive Insights poll has 50% in favor and 40% opposed, with 10% undecided. The poll comes as organizers of a 2020 legalization initiative campaign seek to qualify for the ballot. The support level is not enough to be comfortable, but greater than a narrowly defeated 2016 initiative ever had.

Foreign Policy

China Says Only "Limited" Cooperation with US on Fentanyl. Responding to complaints from Washington that it is not doing enough to stop the export of fentanyl from illicit labs there, China responded Tuesday by saying it and the United States have only "limited" cooperation on stopping fentanyl smuggling. Liu Yuejin, Vice Commissioner of the China National Narcotics Control Commission, told a news conference that China was cracking down on illicit fentanyl production: "The National Narcotics Control report states that looking at cases, counternarcotics law enforcement departments from China and the United States have for many years maintained a good cooperative relationship," Liu said. "But cooperation on investigating and prosecuting fentanyl-related substances is extremely limited." Since 2012, Liu said the US has only provided "clues" on six fentanyl smuggling cases to the Chinese government, with only three of those resulting in arrests. Liu also denied that China is the source of most fentanyl smuggled into the US.

International

Mexican Senator Files Marijuana Legalization Bill as Supreme Court Deadline Looms. Sen Julio Menchaca Salazar, a member of the ruling MORENA Party, filed a bill to legalize marijuana on Tuesday. The move comes only a month ahead of a deadline imposed by the country's Supreme Court to end marijuana prohibition. The measure also addresses hemp and medical marijuana. The bill comes as the Senate continues with a series of events designed to foster dialogue about how to legalize marijuana. The Supreme Court ruled last year that the existing ban on personal use and cultivation is unconstitutional and gave the congress until next month to remedy the country's drug laws.

Drug War Issues

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