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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.

Chronicle AM: Feds Warn on Marijuana Health Risks, Philly Drug Test Backlog, More... (8/30/19)

Federal officials issue a warning on marijuana for teens and pregnant women, the Philadelphia DA deals with a drug sample testing crisis, Colombian FARC dissidents pick up their guns again, and more.

A Dutch cannabis cafe. A pilot program to begin in 2021 will see legal suppliers for the shops in 10 cities. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Federal Officials Issue Warning on Marijuana for Teens, Pregnant Women. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned jointly Thursday against marijuana use by adolescents and pregnant women. Azar, a former pharmaceutical company executive, called marijuana "a dangerous drug," while Adams warned that "this isn't your mother's marijuana" because of higher THC levels.

Oklahoma Poll Shows State Not Ready to Support Legalization. State voters approved medical marijuana last year, but a new poll suggests legalization may be a bridge too far. A new SoonerPoll found that 59% opposed legalization for non-medical use, with 50.5% strongly opposed.

Law Enforcement

Philadelphia Drug Sample Testing Backlog Means DA Will Prosecute Fewer Low-Level Cases. Faced with a backlog of thousands of untested drug samples, District Attorney Larry Krasner's office has announced an "emergency protocol" to suspend the automatic testing of new samples for low-level drug cases. That means the number of low-level drug cases the DA's office prosecutes each year should be reduced because without testing to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a white powder is actually a controlled substance, prosecutors have no case.

International

Colombia FARC Dissidents Take Up Arms Again. Three years after an historic peace agreement between the leftist guerrillas of the FARC and the Colombian state, dissident FARC leaders announced Thursday that they were rejoining the path of armed struggle. Saying the rightist government of President Ivan Duque has betrayed the accord, the dissidents led by Ivan Marquez (Luciano Marin) said they were ready for a "new stage of fighting." They cited the murders of more than a hundred former FARC members and labor activists, as well as the government's failure to provide sustainable development assistance to areas formerly under their control. "The state has not fulfilled its most important obligation, which is to guarantee the life of its citizens and especially avoid assassinations for political reasons," Marquez. Marquez said his group would work with the ELN, another leftist guerrilla army. The number of dissidents affiliated with Marquez is estimated at around 2-3,000. The civil war with the FARC that began in 1964 left more than 220,000 people dead.

Ten Dutch Cities Will Participate in Legal Marijuana Supply Pilot Program. Beginning in 2021, cannabis cafes in 10 Dutch cities will be supplied with legally grown marijuana under a pilot program aimed at solving the country's "back door problem," where marijuana is allowed to be sold but there is no legal source of supply. The ten cities selected for the program are Arnhem, Almere, Breda, Groningen, Heerlen, Hellevoetsluis, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Tilburg and Zaanstad. In those towns, all cannabis cafes must obtain their supply from legally regulated growers. That's why bigger cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam opted out: They have large numbers of cannabis cafes and authorities worry problems could arise if they all abandoned their illicit suppliers simultaneously.

Chronicle AM: Houston Narc Charged With Murder in Bogus Drug Raid, DEA Moves on Pot Research, More... (8/26/19)

The DEA finally moves on expanding marijuana research opportunites, a former Houston cop who led a lethal bogus drug raid is charged with murder, a Florida poll shows strong support for marijuana legalization, and more.

The DEA is finally moving to expand researchers' ability to grow their own marijuana. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Federal Government to Expand List of Marijuana Research Growers. The DEA said Monday it would move to expand the number of growers allowed to grow marijuana for research purposes. The move comes three years after DEA began accepting applications from researchers, but it had yet to act on any of them, and weeks after researchers filed court papers asking a judge to force the DEA to process their applications.

Florida Poll Has Two-Thirds Support for Legalization. A new poll by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates has support for marijuana legalization at 67% among likely Florida voters. Only 29% opposed legalization. The poll comes as two legalization initiative campaigns seek to position themselves to appear on the 2020 ballot.

New Jersey Governor Vetoes Pot Expungement Bill. Gov. Phil Murphy (D), a proponent of marijuana legalization, has vetoed a bill that would have allowed people with small-time pot convictions to get their records expunged. Murphy said the expungement process in the bill was too cumbersome and he wanted it to be easier. "Nobody that I know -- certainly not me -- is opposed to automatic expungement. That's something we would all like to be able to flip a switch and you're expunged," Murphy said earlier this year.

Law Enforcement

Former Houston Cop Who Led Deadly Bogus Drug Raid Charged with Murder. Prosecutors have charged the former Houston police officer who led a February raid that left two innocent homeowners dead and five officers injured has been charged with murder after authorities said he lied to obtain a search warrant for the raid. Gerald Goines, a 35-year veteran, faces two murder counts in the deaths of Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle. A second former officer, Steven Bryant, is charged with tampering with evidence. Gaines falsely told a judge an informant had purchased heroin at the home and that the man selling drugs was armed so he could obtain a no-knock warrant. Police found no heroin at the home; only personal use amounts of marijuana and cocaine.

International

Mexican Bishop Calls for Dialogue Between Government and Armed Groups, Including Drug Cartels. A bishop in the country's opium farming heartland is urging the federal government to hold talks with armed groups, including drug cartels, saying that many in the drug business now can't make ends meet and are "seeking an exit." Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoze of Chilpancingo-Chilapa (Guerrero state) commented after Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero said last week that the government was in talks with armed groups such as so-called community police and self-defense militias, but not the cartels. "If the government wants to dialogue with these criminal groups and, above all, wants to talk with these community police forces, I think that's good," Bishop Rangel said. "To get peace you have to dialogue, even with Satan, with whomever it might be to get peace. But they have this point of view that we don't want to talk because they break the law. At least you have to listen to them." Rangel added that the opium economy had collapsed because of the rise of fentanyl and now some cartel leaders "no longer want to fight because it doesn't make sense. What are they fighting over? … Now, nothing."

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