2020

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Bipartisan Policy Center Recommends Safe Injection Sites, Marijuana Busts Declined Last Year, More... (10/2/20)

The House includes marijuana banking language in its latest COVID relief bill, pot busts declined last year, an Arizona poll is looking good for marijuana legalization there, and more.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signs a pack of marijuana business bills. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

After Climbing Three Years in a Row, US Marijuana Arrests Fell by 18% Last Year. According to the just-released FBI Uniform Crime Report 2019, there were some 545,600 marijuana arrests in the US last year, 92% of them for simple possession. That's an 18% decline from 2018. Marijuana arrests peaked at nearly 873,000 in 2007.

House Democrats Include Marijuana Safe Harbor in Latest COVID Relief Bill. The House is including language to allow financial services for the marijuana industry in its latest $2.2 trillion COVID relief bill. It does so by including the text of the SAFE Banking Act (HR 1595) within the relief bill. No word yet on how the Republican-led Senate will respond.

Arizona Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization Initiative. A new statewide poll of likely voters has support for the Prop 207 legalization initiative at 57%, with 38% opposed. The numbers are basically unchanged from the same poll in August, which had 57% in favor, with 37% opposed.

California Governor Signs Four Bills Affecting Marijuana Industry. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has signed into law four bills relating to the marijuana industry. Assembly Bill 1458 eases requirements for edibles manufacturers, Assembly Bill 1525 lets the state or local governments share financial information with the consent of marijuana licensees, Senate Bill 67 establishes marijuana appellations, and Senate Bill 1244 clarifies that marijuana labs may tests samples provided by law enforcement in a bid to reduce illicit cultivation.

Colorado Governor Mass Pardons People Busted for Marijuana Possession. Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Thursday signed an executive order pardoning people convicted of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana prior to legalization. "We are finally cleaning up some of the inequities of the past by pardoning 2,732 convictions for Coloradans who simply had an ounce of marijuana or less. It's ridiculous how being written up for smoking a joint in the 1970's has followed some Coloradans throughout their lives and gotten in the way of their success," Polis said. "Today we are taking this step toward creating a more just system and breaking down barriers to help transform people's lives as well as coming to terms with one aspect of the past, failed policy of marijuana prohibition."

Harm Reduction

Bipartisan Policy Center Report: Use Federal Money for Syringe Exchange Programs. The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report Wednesday looking at how federal money is being used to combat the opioid epidemic. The report recommended states do more to combat rising overdose deaths, including adding more syringe exchange programs to help reduce overdose deaths and disease transmission. "(Syringe exchange services) don't increase drug use, but rather facilitate entry into treatment as well as access to naloxone, which, as you know, is a lifesaving antidote for an opioid overdose," BPC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anand Parekh said.

VT Governor Hints Could Veto Marijuana Sales Bill, NY Governor Calls for Arrest of Street Drug Users, More... (10/1/20)

New Jersey's governor gets behing the marijuana legalization initiative, the Department of Health and Human Services wants to impose hair drug testing on federal employees, the New Zealand marijuana legalization referendum is facing headwinds, and more.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has found a new reason to vote a marijuana sales bill after his old reasons were addressed. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

New Jersey Governor Joins Marijuana Legalization Campaign. In an email from the Democratic State Committee Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) called for marijuana to be legalized as a social justice matter. "In fact, Black residents are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than White residents," Murphy said. "Legalization would right those wrongs while also spurring massive economic development opportunities, job creation and new tax revenue." Polls show strong support for the measure, but concerns about confusing ballot design and about voting in general in this election are spurring backers to push aggressively in the final weeks.

Vermont Governor Says He Could Veto Marijuana Sales Bill, Cites Racial Justice Objections. Gov. Phil Scott (R) signaled Tuesday that he could veto the bill legalizing marijuana sales, saying he was concerned the bill did not adequately address racial equity issues. Scott had previously raised concerns about impaired driving, local control, and taxation, but after those were addressed in the current legislation, he has found a new issue to be concerned about. "In terms of the pot bill, I haven't made up my mind about that. I have received a lot of groups -- racial equity groups -- that are asking me to veto it," Scott said during a gubernatorial debate. "I was leaning towards letting it go, but I'm really questioning that at this point. I want to hear and listen from them."

Drug Policy

New York Governor Calls for Arrest of Public Drug Users, Raising Hackles Among Harm Reductionists. During a Tuesday press conference in Manhattan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said police should arrest people injecting drugs on city streets. "The police have to do their jobs, and they have to arrest people who deserve to be arrested," Cuomo said Tuesday. "If somebody is openly injecting drugs on a city street, they should be arrested." The remarks came as Cuomo introduced a five-point plan to stabilize the city, which was short on details. The remarks raised concern about harm reductionists, with the Legal Action Center's Tracie Gardner, a former Cuomo staffer, calling it "a step backwards." She added that "We're supposed to be the leader in responding to people who use drugs. This is not leadership."

Drug Testing

HHS Considering Hair Samples for Federal Employee Drug Testing. The Department of Health and Human Services is considering adding hair testing for federal employees, saying that "hair testing potentially offers several benefits when compared to urine, including directly observed collections, ease of transport and storage, increased specimen stability, and a longer window of drug detection. The department believes these benefits justify pursuing hair testing in federal workplace programs," it said in a Federal Register notice open for comment through November 9. The proposed changes would see hair testing used for pre-employment and random drug testing, but not for "reasonable suspicion" testing.

International

New Zealand Marijuana Legalization Vote Looks to Be a Squeaker. The country is voting on a referendum to legalize marijuana on October 17, and the latest polling suggests a very tight race. 1 News Colmar Brunton polls had the referendum at 43% last November, 40% in June, and 35% now. But another poll conducted by Horizon Research should support and opposition dead even at 49.5% each. Dozens of national political figures including former Prime Minister Helen Clark are now mobilizing in support of the referendum, which is non-binding, but which, if passed, would open the way to a parliamentary vote.

Montana's Marijuana Legalization Campaign Is Set for a Big October Push [FEATURE]

Come November, Big Sky Country could be among the latest places to free the weed. As is the case in Arizona, New Jersey, and South Dakota, marijuana legalization is on the ballot in Montana this year.

Moving to Montana soon? (Gmark1/Creative Commons)
In Montana, though, people will be voting on not one but two complementary initiatives. I-190 would legalize marijuana, while CI-118 would amend the state constitution to allow for the age of majority -- set at 18 -- to be raised for marijuana as it is for alcohol.

I-190 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and over and allow for the home cultivation of up to four plants and four seedlings. It would also designate the state Department of Revenue to regulate marijuana commerce from cultivation to retail sale. The initiative sets a retail tax of 20 percent on marijuana and marijuana-infused products.

And that's become a selling point for legalization: It can help fund state spending with the budget stressed by the coronavirus pandemic. A September report from the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research found that tax revenues from legal marijuana sales would generate between $43 million and $52 million a year in the first five years after legalization.

"Following in the footsteps of eleven other states, Montana voters have the opportunity to legalize recreational marijuana for people over the age of 21 by passing both CI-118 and I-190," said the Public Lands Coalition, which wants to see revenues from marijuana support projects like Habitat Montana, working to ease access to landlocked public lands. "The Montana effort to legalize marijuana differs from other states, though. Roughly 50 percent of the revenue generated from recreational marijuana sales would support state public lands by funding efforts like Habitat Montana. These funds are critical in order to maintain abundant wildlife populations and ensure our outdoor economy continues to thrive."

"Our research has always shown that a majority of Montanans support legalization, and now voters will have the opportunity to enact that policy, which will create jobs and generate new revenue for our state," said Pepper Petersen, a spokesperson for New Approach Montana, which organized the effort, said. "It also means that law enforcement will stop wasting time and resources arresting adults for personal marijuana possession, and instead focus on real crime."

There is no recent polling to back up Petersen's claims, but a pair of older polls suggest he could be onto something. A February University of Montana Big Sky poll had marijuana legalization winning 54 percent to 37 percent. That was up from a March 2019 Big Sky poll that had support at 51 percent.

That's not an especially comfortable lead for a ballot initiative, since organized opposition later in the campaign can eat away at support. And in September, organized opposition emerged in the form of Wrong for Montana. Led by Billings businessman Steve Zabawa, a persistent foe of marijuana reforms, the group is also supported by the Montana Family Foundation and the Montana Contractors Association.

Zabawa said he planned a billboard and digital media campaign. "Our message will be well-received, it'll be shared, and it'll be taken from family to family," he said. "I believe that, at the end of the day, the legalization issue will go away in the state of Montana."

Wrong for America has reported $78,000 in donations and has already spent $61,000, leaving a paltry $17,000 to campaign with. New Approach Montana, on the other hand, has raised nearly $4.8 million dollars and still has $300,000 cash to play with. And nearly half that $4.8 million has been spent for a late campaign TV ad blitz set to begin hitting the airwaves this month.

The campaign's coffers were filled largely by the national New Approach PAC, which supports various drug reform efforts around the country and has kicked in nearly $2 million and the North Fund, which has donated nearly $3 million. A somewhat mysterious entity whose funders remain unknown, it has also donated big bucks to a campaign for DC statehood and an effort to expand Medicaid in Missouri.

All that money and all those TV ads -- and the prospect of all that marijuana tax revenue -- should help New Approach Montana get over the finish line come November 3. But it will be nail-biting time until all the votes are counted.

AZ Poll Has Legalization Init in Dead Heat, Psychedelic Group Releases Handbook for Organizers, More... (9/29/20)

The battle over medical marijuana in Mississippi is heating up, a proposed 2022 Oklahoma marijuana legalization initiative has to go back to the drawing board, and more.

There's now a field manual for people who want to challenge psychedelic criminalization at the local level. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Arizona Poll Has Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Dead Heat. A new poll from OH Predictive Insights has the state's voters evenly split on support for the Prop 207 marijuana legalization initiative, with 46% in favor and 45% opposed and 9% undecided. That's down from a 62%-32% lead in the same poll in July. The shift is being driven by older voters, rural residents, Republicans and independents, the pollster said.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Proposed 2022 Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The state Supreme Court on Monday struck a petition that would have put marijuana legalization on the 2022 ballot. The court held that the wording on the petition was misleading and lacked sufficient detail. There is plenty of time to try again, though.

Medical Marijuana

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Initiative Hearings Coming. The state secretary of state's office will host the first of five public hearings about the medical marijuana initiative on the November ballot, Initiative Measure 65, and its legislatively sponsored alternative, Alternative Measure 65A, on Wednesday in Oxford. The hearings will feature presentations from speakers both for and against Initiative Measure No. 65 and Alternative Measure No. 65A. All public hearings will be conducted in accordance with all state guidelines regarding COVID-19.

Medical Groups Urge Mississippi Voters to Reject Medical Marijuana Initiative. The Mississippi State Medical Association and the American Medical Association released a memo this week calling on voters to reject the medical marijuana initiative, saying the ballot is inherently confusing. They also accused petitioners of being driven by a desire for profit.

Psychedelics

National Psychedelics Reform Group Releases Handbook on Enacting Decriminalization Locally. Decriminalize Nature, a national psychedelic reform group, has released guidelines for advocates who want to pursue local policy changes that challenge the criminalization of psychedelics. The group has led successful campaigns to deprioritize natural psychedelics in cities such as Denver, Oakland, and Washington, DC, among others.The organizer's handbook includes fact sheets, press release templates and sample educational emails to send to local lawmakers.

Biden Campaign Scorns Trump Demand for Pre-Debate Drug Test, NE MedMJ Advocates File for 2022, More... (9/28/20)

Medical marijuana via telemedicine could be coming soon to New Jersey, medical marijuana via the ballot box could be coming to Nebraska in 2022, and more.

Trump claims with no evidence that Biden must be on performance-enhancing drugs. (Creative Commons)
Medical Marijuana

Nebraska Medical Marijuana Advocates Submit Language for 2022 Ballot. After the state Supreme Court deprived voters of a chance to choose to legalize medical marijuana this year, the group behind the effort, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, on Monday submitted petition language aimed at getting the issue on the 2022 ballot. Five Supreme Court judges ruled that the 2020 initiative, which had already qualified for the ballot, unconstitutionally dealt with more than one subject. The new language keeps it simple: "Persons in the State of Nebraska shall have the right to cannabis in all its forms for medical purposes," is all it says.

New Jersey Legislature Approves Medical Marijuana Telemedicine Bill. The Assembly last Thursday approved A-1635/S-619, which would allow health care practitioners to remotely authorize the use of medical marijuana via telemedicine. The bill had already passed the Senate and now goes to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy (D).

Drug Testing

Biden Campaign Scorns Trump Demand for Candidate Drug Test. Suggesting without any evidence that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden uses performance-enhancing drugs, President Trump on Sunday demanded be subjected to a drug test before Tuesday's presidential debate. The Biden campaign was having none of it, responding thusly: "Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it. We'd expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn't make a plan to stop COVID-19," the campaign said in a press release.

International

Mexico Bar Massacre Leaves 11 Dead. Armed gunmen killed 11 people Sunday in a bar in Jaral del Progreso, Guanajuato. The state has become the scene of recurring violence in recent months as the rival Santa Rosa de Lima gang and the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel vie for control of the state. Two months ago, 24 people were killed a drug rehab center in the city of Guanajuato, one of the worst mass slayings since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office pledging to reduce record levels of violence.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this website. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

OR Dems Endorse Drug Reform Inits, CA East Bay County Ends Drug Possession Prosecutions, More... (9/24/20)

The Drug Policy Alliance on the Breonna Taylor non-indictments, Oregon Democrats go all in for drug decriminalization and therapeutic psilocybin initiatives, and more.

If you get arrested for drug possession in Contra Costa County, CA, prosecutors will not file charges against you. (CC)
Drug Policy

Oregon Democratic Party Endorses Legal Psilocybin Therapy and Drug Decriminalization Ballot Measures. The state Democratic Party officially endorsed two statewide drug reform initiatives Wednesday. The party is getting behind both Measure 110, which would decriminalize drug possession, and Measure 109, the therapeutic psilocybin initiative.

Law Enforcement

Drug Policy Alliance Statement on Release of Grand Jury’s Findings in Breonna Taylor Killing by Louisville Police. In response to the release of the grand jury’s findings -- only indicting one of the three officers on a charge of "wanton endangerment" -- in the horrific killing of Breonna Taylor by Louisville Police in what was a baseless no-knock warrant in a drug investigation, Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement: "Breonna Taylor should be alive today, but instead, the systems we have in place -- as a result of the drug war -- failed her. And they robbed her of the bright future she was just beginning. Had it not been for the drug war -- which provides the military-grade equipment to local police departments through military weapons transfer and earmarked federal funds -- Breonna would be alive today. And had it not been for the drug war that incentivizes drug arrests with said federal resources, the police likely would have never gone to her home to begin with. While this decision is upsetting and certainly doesn’t go far enough, it does not change the fact that as long as the drug war remains, people of color will continue to have a bounty on their heads. They will continue to be gunned down in their beds, or held down until they can’t breathe with an officer’s knee on their necks. And worse, those responsible for their deaths will use drugs -- or alleged drug involvement -- as a cover for their merciless actions. This isn't an isolated incident. These aren't 'a few bad cops.' It is a system that has been created through the parasitic relationship between policing, the drug war and racism. And until we completely terminate those connections, we are simply adding fuel to the fire and no court or jury will be able to stop the police violence that ensues."

California East Bay County to Stop Prosecutions for Drug Possession, Other Nonviolent Misdemeanors. Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announced Thursday that her office will no longer file charges against most people arrested for small-time drug possession and other nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. The county had not been pursuing such charges under a pilot program in effect since early this year. Now that policy has been made permanent. The county says the move will divert low-level recreational users out of the criminal justice system and into the health care system with the goals of both reducing the strain in the courts and on law enforcement.

The Drug Policy Alliance is a funder of StoptheDrugWar.org.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this website. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Will New Jersey Be the Next State to Legalize Weed? [FEATURE]

New Jersey looks set to be the next state to legalize marijuana. It's on the ballot come election day, the polls are looking good, and while it's not the only state with marijuana legalization on the ballot, the others -- Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota -- are all out West, and the Garden State should beat them by a few hours.

The New Jersey legalization initiative, Public Question 1, would amend the state constitution to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and its cultivation, processing, and retail sale. It also designates the existing Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), which currently handles medical marijuana, to regulate all legal marijuana commerce. Retail marijuana sales would be subject to the state sales tax of 6.625%, but any other states sales taxes would be prohibited. The initiative authorizes the legislature to let local governments add a 2% local sales tax.

It also leaves it up to the legislature and the CRC to address unresolved issues. Those include whether and how home cultivation would be allowed, how much weed people could possess, and detailed retail regulations.

If the measure passes, New Jersey will be not only the first to legalize it this election day, it will also be the first Mid-Atlantic state to do so, and the first to legalize it via a legislatively-initiated voter referendum. Of the 11 states (and the District of Columbia) that have so far legalized marijuana, nine did it through citizen-based ballot initiatives, while in the other two, Illinois and Vermont, the legislatures passed legalization bills.

But even though Gov. Phil Murphy (D) campaigned on marijuana legalization in 2017 and vowed to get it passed in 100 days, legislative infighting, opposition within the Legislative Black Caucus, and bickering over revenues blocked the legislature from ever getting it done. As a last resort, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) and marijuana reform champion Sen. Nick Scutari (D) filed the resolution giving the voters the final decision. It passed with overwhelming Democratic support over strong Republican opposition last December.

And the polls have consistently shown it winning in November.An April Monmouth University poll of registered voters had the measure winning 61% of the vote, while a July Brach Eichler Cannabis Poll of likely voters had support at 67.6%. An August Brach Eichler Cannabis Poll had support at 66%, a barely noticeable decline and still a number to warm the hearts of legalization supporters.

That latter poll also had a large majority (74%) saying the state should make sure that racial equity issues are addressed, while another large majority, 71%, wanted tax revenues to be used for drug awareness and education. More than half (55%) wanted to see higher marijuana taxes.

"The [poll] shows that as we get closer to the November election, public awareness and support for the legalization of adult cannabis use is steady or growing," John D. Fanburg, co-chair of the Cannabis Law Practice at Brach Eichler, said in a press release accompanying the poll. "Additionally, we can see that voters are recognizing the importance of addressing the social justice impact of disproportional enforcement and arrests against New Jersey's minority population."

For Ken Wolski, RN, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana -- New Jersey (CMM-NJ), supporting the initiative is a no-brainer. Wolski and CMM-NJ are part of a broader coalition, NJ CAN 2020, that is working with Head Count's Cannabis Voter Project to end marijuana prohibition in the Garden State. Other coalition members include the ACLU-New Jersey, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, the Latino Action Network, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, and the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association.

"Legalizing marijuana is the best way to get the right medicine to the most people," Wolski told the Chronicle in an email exchange. "Legalization will make it much easier for adults to take advantage of the tremendous therapeutic potential of cannabis. No longer will adults need a specific diagnosis and multiple visits to physicians to obtain cannabis. Adults in New Jersey will be able to purchase cannabis over the counter, like they purchase aspirin now. NJ currently has some of the most expensive medical cannabis in the country, but increased competition will bring down those prices. Home grow should also come into play. Easily available marijuana will improve public health," he said.

Wolski is counseling reefer revolutionaries who don't think the measure goes far enough to think again. There will be opportunities to further shape what legalization looks like down the road, he said.

"Unfortunately, some marijuana reform advocates oppose the amendment because it does not address their specific concerns about guaranteeing home cultivation, ensuring that ex-felons can participate in the new legal industry, ensuring reparations for individuals and communities harmed by the war on marijuana, etc.," he explained.

"To those who say the question does not go far enough, I point out that the CRC must follow the regulatory process, which ensures input from the people of the state," Wolski continued. "The CRC will hold public hearings before they draft the regulations, then there will be a Public Comment period before they adopt the regulations. This will be the time to make opinions about home grow, social equity, affordable licenses, etc. known. The entire process will be transparent. If some of our demands are not met in the first go-round, we can immediately file to amend the regulations. The very first step is to give whole-hearted support for the ballot question, without which, there will be no reform of marijuana laws in New Jersey for the foreseeable future."

And he'll be fighting for home cultivation, he said.

"We anticipate arguments in civil and criminal courts that the amendment does, in fact, allow home cultivation," Wolski explained. "We plan to work with the CRC in the development of regulations to ensure that home cultivation is part of legal cannabis in New Jersey. At the same time, we will continue to work with legislators for a bill to specifically allow New Jersey medical marijuana program patients and caregivers to grow a limited supply of cannabis for their medical needs."

But first, the measure needs to win.

"If the ballot question fails, the war on marijuana will be business as usual, and we will be that much further away from home cultivation, legalization, expungement, social justice, etc.," Wolski warned. "The first step is victory in November that we can build on. We encourage New Jersey residents to join us in our efforts to pass this ballot question."

SD Marijuana Poll Has Good News, UC Berkeley to Open Psychedelic Research Center, More... (9/22/20)

A Texas judge has temporarily lifted a ban on smokable hemp, the Ann Arbor city council approves a resolution effectively decriminalizing plant-based psychedelics, and more.

Marijuana legalization and medical marijuana initiatives are polling well. If they can win in South Dakota... (CC)
Marijuana Policy

South Dakota Opposition Group's Polling Shows Voter Support for Marijuana Legalization Initiatives. A poll commissioned by a group opposing the state's marijuana legalization initiative, Constitutional Amendment A, and medical marijuana initiative, Initiated Measure 26, finds both leading by a sizeable margin. The survey found that 70% supported the medical marijuana initiative and 60% supported the legalization initiative.

Hemp

Texas Judge Lifts Ban on Smokable Hemp Until 2021. A Texas judge has granted a temporary injunction barring the state from enforcing a ban on smokable hemp products until a challenge from the industry can be heard on court. The ban was written into legislation legalizing hemp in the state, but four hemp producers challenged it in court. Last week, Travis County Judge Lora Livingston found that the plaintiffs "have demonstrated a probable right to relief," Livingston granted the injunction, which will be in effect until the issue is litigated in February.

Psychedelics

New Psychedelics Research and Education Center Launched at UC Berkeley As Reform Movement Grows. The University of California at Berkeley will launch a new center dedicated to psychedelics research and education, the school announced Monday. Researchers will study psychedelics to "investigate cognition, perception and emotion and their biological bases in the human brain," according to a press release. At the same time, the new entity will be putting resources toward informing the public about "this rapidly advancing field of research." Johns Hopkins University opened a similar center last year.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, City Council Approves Psychedelic Decriminalization Resolution. The city council voted Monday night to approve a resolution effectively decriminalizing plant-based psychedelics (or entheogens). The resolution passed unanimously.

AZ Poll Has MJ Init With Bare Majority, White House Releases Annual Drug Certification List, More... (9/16/20)

A new poll has the Arizona marijuana legalization initiative at 51%, the natural psychedelic decriminalization movement comes to Ann Arbor, and more.

President Trump released the annual certification of other countries' compliance with US drug policies on Wednesday. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

Arizona Poll Has Marijuana Legalization Initiative with Bare Majority. A new Monmouth University poll has the Prop 207 marijuana legalization initiative winning the support of 51% of registered voters, with 41% opposed, 6% undecided, and 3% who said they would not vote on the issue. That is an uncomfortably close margin, but at this late stage also a hopeful one. Traditionally an initiative campaign hopes to begin a campaign with 60% support, expecting to lose some voters as election day approaches and details of the initiative get debated.

Foreign Policy

White Houses Releases Annual Presidential Determination on Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries for Fiscal Year 2021. In an annual exercise in which the US grades other countries' compliance with US drug policy objectives, President Trump on Wednesday named 20 countries as "major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries." They are: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Although Venezuela is not a drug producing country, Trump named "the Venezuelan dictator, Nicholas Maduro" as "the most complicit kingpin in the Hemisphere." He also called on Colombia to "move forward with aerial spraying" of coca crops and Peru "to resume eradication operations in the country"s high yield coca producing regions, including the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers." He also warned Mexico that it must step up anti-drug operations if it wants to avoid being considered a country that "failed demonstrably to uphold its international drug control commitments."

Psychedelics

Ann Arbor, Michigan, City Council to Take Up Natural Psychedelic Lowest Priority Ordinance. The Ann Arbor city council will take up a ordinance that would make enforcement of laws against plant- and fungi-based psychedelic drugs the lowest law enforcement priority next Monday. Those drugs include psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, ayahuasca, mescaline, ibogaine and others. The move is being pushed by an activist group, Decriminalize Ann Arbor.

International

Brazil Fast-Tracks Legislation to Legalize Cultivation of Hemp, Medical Marijuana. The Brazilian legislature is moving a bill that would legalize the cultivation of medical marijuana and hemp. While efforts have been underway since 2015 to revise the country's marijuana laws, this new version of the legislation calls for cultivation, processing, research, storage, transportation, production, industrialization, commercialization, import and export of medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp be legalized.

VT House Passes Marijuana Expungement, House Methamphetamine Emergency Bill Filed, More... (9/14/20)

Montana's marijuana legalizers are now facing organized opposition, House members have filed a law enforcement-supported meth bill, and more.

Bills seeking to declare a national methamphetamine emergency have been filed in both the House and Senate. (DEA.gov)
Marijuana Policy

Montana Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Draw Organized Opposition. The Initiative 190 marijuana legalization initiative and its companion Constitutional Initiative 118 have finally drawn organized opposition. A group calling itself Wrong for Montana formed last week to focus on the "societal ills" of the substance, and the Montana Contractors Association, a builders' group, which opposes the initiatives, said it would help finance the group's efforts.

Vermont House Votes to Approve Marijuana Expungements by Wide Margin. The House last Friday voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill that would automatically expunge thousands of low-level marijuana convictions and double the amount of marijuana that people can grow and possess. The moves were included in a miscellaneous Judiciary Committee bill that still needs final action this week before heading to the Senate, which passed a similar bill in May.

Methamphetamine

New Bipartisan House Bill Would Declare Meth an Emerging Drug Menace. Following in the steps of the Senate, where Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) filed an identical bill last month, a bipartisan handful of House members last Friday filed the Methamphetamine Response Act, a bill that would declare methamphetamine an emerging drug threat and would require the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to develop, implement and make public a national plan to prevent methamphetamine addiction and overdoses from becoming a crisis. The bill would require the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP—the drug czar's office) "to develop, implement, and make public, within 90 days of enactment, a national emerging threats response plan that is specific to methamphetamine." The bill is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, HIDTA Director’s Association, The Sergeant’s Benevolent Association, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), and The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), and the National Criminal Justice Association.

Drug War Issues

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