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Chronicle AM: Sessions Hints at Marijuana Enforcement Changes, ND Legalization Init Filed, More... (11/29/17)

The attorney general hints at changes in federal marijuana enforcement policy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren challenges Trump's HHS nominee on medical marijuana and opioids, North Dakota activists file a legalization initiative, and more.

The attorney general is making news on both the marijuana and the opioid fronts. (senate.gov)
Marijuana Policy

Sessions Hints at Changes in Federal Marijuana Enforcement. At a press conference Wednesday on new measures to address opioid use, Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled that the Justice Department's laissez-faire approach to marijuana in states where it is legal may soon be changing. Justice is looking "very hard right now" at the Cole memo, an Obama-era guidance to federal prosecutors that told them to generally make enforcement a low priority in legalization or medical states, Sessions said. "We had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length. It's my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental, and we should not give encouragement in any way to it, and it represents a federal violation, which is in the law and it's subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges we face," he said. "We'll be working our way through to a rational policy. But I don't want to suggest in any way that this department believes that marijuana is harmless and people should not avoid it."

Connecticut Gubernatorial Candidates Support Legalization. In the first debate of the 2018 gubernatorial campaign Tuesday night, several candidates said they supported marijuana legalization, a step current Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) has been unwilling to take. "Yes, I will sign a bill to legalize it,'' said Democrat Dan Drew. "There are an awful lot of people who use cannabis for a variety of reasons… wouldn't it be better if we control the process on the front end, if we were able to regulate it?" Another Democrat, former consumer protection commissioner Jonathan Harris also said he supports marijuana legalization. Only Republican candidate Prasad Srinivasan quailed at the prospect, saying he had concerns about public safety and public health.

North Dakota Activists File Legalization Initiative. Grand Forks resident David Own delivered a proposed petition to begin an initiative campaign to legalize marijuana to the secretary of state's office on Tuesday. The petition calls for the "full legalization" of marijuana and expungement of records for any crime that would be legalized by the measure. If approved for signature gathering, the initiative will need some 13,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

San Francisco Approves Legal Marijuana Regs; Sales to Begin January 5. The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve regulations for recreational marijuana sales and set January 5 as the date when legal sales could begin. Supervisors voted for a 600-feet buffer between stores and schools -- much less than what some members of the Chinese immigrant community had lobbied for -- and rejected provisions that would have let neighborhoods limit the number of pot shops or ban them outright.

Medical Marijuana

Elizabeth Warren Wants Marijuana Answers From Trump Health Nominee. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has sent a letter to Alex Azar, President Trump's nominee to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggesting the administration study how marijuana legalization could reduce opioid addiction and overdose deaths. The letter also asks Azar to answer questions about what he would do to study marijuana as an alternative to opioids, whether he is committed to implementing evidence-based policies, and what steps he would take to "improve our knowledge of the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana when used for medical purposes."

Iowa Announces First and Only License for Medical Marijuana Manufacturer. The Department of Public Health announced Tuesday it will issue a CBD manufacturing license to MedPharm Iowa. That is the first license to grow marijuana and create CBD products in the state and the only one that will be issued.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

DEA to Open First New Field Office in 20 Years to Fight Epidemic. At a press conference Wednesday addressing the opioid crisis, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DEA will open a new field office in Louisville, its first new field office in two decades. Sessions also announced new federal grants totaling $12 million to fund anti-heroin task forces and said that all 94 US attorneys across the country would name officials to coordinate opioid enforcement operations in their areas.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this web site. 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.)

Chronicle AM: Canada MJ Bill Passes House, HI Cops Want MedMJ Patients' Guns, More... (11/28/17)

In a national first, Honolulu cops are proactively targeting medical marijuana patients to demand they turn in any firearms, Canada marijuana legalization takes a big step forward, Philadelphia begins paying out for its dirty, corrupt narcs, and more.

Medical Marijuana

Honolulu Police Tell Medical Marijuana Patients to Surrender Their Guns. The Honolulu Police Department has sent letters to medical marijuana patients in the area ordering them to "voluntarily surrender" their firearms because they use marijuana. The letters give patients 30 days to give their guns and ammo to the Honolulu Police. While federal law prohibits acknowledged marijuana users from owning firearms, this is believed to be the first instance of local law enforcement proactively seeking out patients and ordering them to surrender their weapons.

Indiana Governor Orders Stores to Pull CBD Oil From Shelves. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) has given stores 60 days to remove CBD cannabis oil products from their shelves after state Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) delivered an opinion that such substances are illegal under state and federal law. The only exception is for people with epilepsy who are on a state registry.

Law Enforcement

Philadelphia Begins Paying Out for Narcotics Agents' Misconduct. The city of Philadelphia has begun settling more than 300 lawsuits filed against members of a narcotics squad accused of a pattern of rampant misconduct lasting years. The city has already paid more than $2 million to settle 75 cases after courts began throwing out convictions in tainted cases three years ago. The city could pay up to an additional $8 million to resolve pending complaints. Five of the six officers involved were found not guilty of criminal charges last year, but that hasn't stopped the settlements from occurring.

International

Canada House of Commons Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill. The House of Commons voted 200 to 82 Monday night to approve the Liberal government's marijuana legalization bill, C-45. The bill now goes to the Senate, where opponents could try to derail it. Stay tuned.

British Parliament Drug Policy Group Calls for Safe Injection Sites. The Drugs, Alcohol and Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group has issued a report calling for the establishment of drug consumption rooms. The report charges that existing prohibitionist policies are failing communities and society's most vulnerable and suggests that London could learn a lesson from Dublin and Glasgow, where such facilities have been approved.

The Duterte Cancer Spreads to Malaysia. Malaysian Member of Parliament Bung Moktar Radin has embraced Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's murderous crackdown on drug users and sellers and urged his own country to emulate it. "I am very serious about this. Just shoot them, like they do in the Philippines," he said, praising the Philippines approach. "Why can't we do this? Jail addicts without trial and shoot dealers. What is the problem (in doing this)?"

Action Alerts, #GivingTuesday, Issue 1000, Remembering Rep. Hinchey

I hope that those of you who mark Thanksgiving had a good holiday. I'm writing today with some time-sensitive action alerts for those of us in the US, with some updates related to our organization, and some observations on recent news.

1. Medical Marijuana Is Under Threat: As you may have read on our web site and from other sources, medical marijuana in the US is facing its greatest threat in years. Since late 2014, legislation currently known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, a clause of the "Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies" (CJS) budget, has protected medical marijuana providers, by forbidding the US Dept. of Justice from spending taxpayer funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

Unfortunately, like other laws related to the budget, the amendment needs to be reauthorized by Congress each year to stay in effect. And while it's passed in the Senate already, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives prevented the well-supported bipartisan measure from getting a vote. This situation means that the fate of the amendment, and perhaps of medical marijuana itself, will be decided by a House-Senate "conference committee" charged with reconciling the two chambers' CJS bills. If that fails to happen, there's no telling what the Jeff Sessions Justice Department under the Trump administration will do.

Our request is for you to call your US Representative's office in Washington, DC and ask them to support medical marijuana by insisting the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment be included in the final version of the Commerce Justice Science appropriations bill. You can reach your rep's office through the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Please email us at [email protected] to let us know, especially if the office tells you anything about what your congressman plans to do. I also hope you'll fill our our write-to-Congress form on this issue here– that will enable us to let you know if you're in a state or district represented on the conference committee.

There is likely to a Continuing Resolution on the budget by Friday, December 8th, when the current resolution expires. Please take action on this before then.

2. We Still Need Your Help to Stop the Philippines Drug War Bloodbath: Last week I emailed and posted about S. 1055, the "Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act of 2017," which would impose human rights conditions on law enforcement assistance to the Philippines, while funding good programs there that provide alternatives to the drug war. This week Pres. Duterte signaled that he plans to ramp up his drug war killing campaign again.

President Trump has contributed to the slaughter, first by praising Duterte's anti-drug campaign two times while the killings continued, and then through his silence or near-silence on the matter at the ASEAN Summit earlier this month. That means Congress needs to take action. Please write to Congress in support of S. 1055, and when you're done please ask your two US Senators to pass the bill, and your US Representative to support companion legislation in the House.

We especially need your help if your Representative is on the House Appropriations Committee, or if either of your Senators is on the Senate Appropriations Committee. We need your help triply more even than that, if you live in Tennessee, or in Rep. Ed Royce's Congressional district in the LA/Orange County area.

Here again we are asking you to act before December 8th before the new budget resolution gets done. And please check out our sign-on statement and press coverage to see what else we're doing about this.

3. #GivingTuesday: This Tuesday, November 28th, is #GivingTuesday, a global campaign by many individuals and organizations to encourage giving to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. I hope you will take the opportunity to support our organization and other good causes you believe in.

I'm going to be honest and say that it has gotten harder to raise money for this kind of work, despite the great progress that we're making. We could use your help. If you've given in the past but not lately, or if you've been thinking of starting to support us financially, maybe #GivingTuesday will be the day! Our About page and other pages it links to have lots more information on our programs to help you decide.

The online donation forms for our 501(c)(3) nonprofit, DRCNet Foundation, and our 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit Drug Reform Coordination Network, support making donations by credit card or PayPal; and you can make a donation on a one-time basis, or for a recurring donation monthly, quarterly or annually. Our mailing address to donate that way instead is P.O. Box 9853, Washington, DC 20016. You can find info on donating stocks in the donations section of our About page.

4. Issue 1000 of the Drug War Chronicle newsletter: You may have noticed that the latest issue of our Drug War Chronicle newsletter, sent out Wednesday, was #998. In less than two weeks we are publishing issue #1000!

If you're a Chronicle regular, please help us mark the occasion by sending a testimonial about how you use the newsletter to further reform. And be sure to check your email or our web site for Phil Smith' review of what's changed during the 20 years since the Chronicle was launched.

Donations to DRCNet Foundation, as linked above, can support the Chronicle, or our other educational and non-lobbying programs.

5. Remembering Maurice Hinchey: The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment that I wrote about above, which protects medical marijuana, originally was called the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment. It was named after its first lead Democratic sponsor, Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York state. We were saddened to read news of his passing at age 79.

Another issue Rep. Hinchey worked on was one we played a role in for many years, repealing a provision of the Higher Education Act passed in 1998 that delays or denies financial aid for college to students because of drug convictions. Thanks in part to Rep. Hinchey's support, the law got scaled back in 2006, and legislation to further scale it back passed the House in 2010.

Rep. Hinchey spoke at a press conference we organized outside the US Capitol in May 2002, and at other events for the issue, along with all his other good work. We've missed him in Congress since he retired in 2013, and he will be even more missed now, by us and many others.

ALERT: Medical Marijuana Is Under Threat -- Tell Congress to Act!

For the first time in years, there's a chance that the federal budget law which has protected medical marijuana won't get reauthorized. That would give Jeff Sessions' Justice Department a legal green light they haven't had since 2014 to go after medical marijuana providers and undermine state laws. Please tell Congress to act now to stop this from happening.

Chronicle AM: Bush AG Criticizes Sessions' War on Weed, Scary AZ Pot Poll, More... (11/22/17)

Former GOP Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has no use for Jeff Sessions' would-be war on weed, a new poll has disheartening findings for Arizona legalizers, the Detroit city council wants to undo the will of the voters on medical marijuana dispensaries, and more.

Marijuana Policy

GW Bush Attorney General Says Sessions' War on Weed is a Waste of Time. "With respect to everything else going on in the US, this is pretty low priority," Alberto Gonzales, a Republican who was attorney general under President George W. Bush, told Newsweek, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' desire to prosecute marijuana businesses in states where it is legal. "To prosecute an act that is otherwise lawful under state law, one could make the argument [that] as a matter of policy, we've got other priorities we ought to be spending our resources on."

Arizona Poll Has Bad News for Legalizers, But… A new statewide poll from OH Predictive Strategies has support for legalization at only 35%, with 48% opposed. The poll was an automated phone survey of 600 state residents. Those polls send calls only to people with landline phones, which could skew the results because older people are more likely to have landlines. Arizona's 2016 legalization initiative lost, but garnered a respectable 48.68% of the vote. A group called Safer Arizona is already out gathering signatures for its legalization initiative aimed at the 2018 ballot.

Medical Marijuana

Florida Lawsuit Filed Over Medical Marijuana Implementation. A Miami-Dade nursery and a man suffering from epilepsy have sued the administration of Gov. Rick Scott (R) over the slow implementation of the state's medical marijuana law. The nursery wants a judge to order the Health Department to hand out new licenses for treatment centers, while the patient said the department is blocking patients from getting access to their medicine.

Detroit City Council Wants to Undo Will of Voters on Dispensaries. The city council is asking the city's legal department to challenge two voter-approved medical marijuana ordinances that ease rules on dispensaries in the city. The voters acted in November after the council passed an ordinance last March that made it more difficult for dispensaries to operate. The council approved a resolution on a 7-1 vote asking the legal department to challenge the results in court.

International

Indian Bill to Legalize Marijuana Heads to Parliament. A private member's bill to legalize marijuana will be introduced in parliament during this year's winter session. The bill is sponsored by MP Dharamyira Gandhi, who has long supported the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana.

Chronicle AM: US Bombs Taliban Drug Hubs, MI Campaign Turns in Signatures, More... (11/20/17)

Michigan could vote to legalize marijuana next November, Wyoming moves to definitively criminalize marijuana edibles and infusions, the US bombs Taliban heroin production facilities in Afghanistan, and more.

The US wages war on the opium poppy in Afghanistan in a bid to blunt Taliban finances. (UNODC)
Marijuana Policy

House Republicans Block Bill to Address Marijuana Banking Issues. House Republicans have blocked an attempt by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) to consider a bill that would prevent the federal government from punishing banks that do business with marijuana companies. Republicans in the House Banking Committee shot it down because they said it wasn't relevant to the issue under consideration, stress tests for banks.

Michigan Marijuana Legalization Campaign Turns in 360,000 Signatures to Place Issue on 2018 Ballot. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in more than 360,000 signatures Monday today calling for its marijuana legalization initiative to be placed on Michigan's November 2018 ballot. The initiative needs 252,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. The campaign says it has already vetted many of its signatures, so it should qualify by a comfortable margin, but stay tuned.

Wyoming Moves to Crack Down on Marijuana Edibles, Infused Liquids. Seeking to address a lacuna in the state's marijuana laws, the legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee voted last Thursday to advance two bills that would specifically criminalize marijuana edibles and products infused with marijuana. State courts have declared themselves unable to prosecute people for possessing edibles or infused products because current law does not specifically address them.

Medical Marijuana

Guam Medical Marijuana Regulations Being Drafted. Hearings have been set for the legislature's Rules Committee early next month in a bid to get medical marijuana regulations in final form before Christmas. A public hearing is set for December 5, with the final draft to be marked up in committee on December 14.

Foreign Policy

US Launches Airstrikes in First Operation Targeting Afghan Opium. The US launched its first counternarcotics military offensive of the Trump era this past weekend with air strikes aimed at "Taliban narcotics production facilities" in restive Helmand province. "We hit the labs where they turn poppy into heroin. We hit their storage facilities where they keep their final product, where they stockpile their money and their command and control. Our estimates indicate that more than $200 million from this illegal economy was going into the pockets of the Taliban," General John Nicholson, commander of US troops and NATO's Resolute Support military mission, said at a Monday news conference in Kabul. Afghanistan accounts for about 90% of global opium production and produced a record crop this year.

International

Peru President Signs Medical Marijuana Bill into Law. President Pedro Kuczynski has signed into law a bill legalizing marijuana and its derivatives, such as CBD cannabis oil, to be used in the treatment of specified diseases, including Parkinson's Disease, cancer, and epilepsy. Peru now joins Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico in having medical marijuana laws, while Uruguay has legalized it for any adults.

Chronicle AM: First Marijuana Overdose Death Reports are Bogus, Canada Legalization Plans, More... (11/17/17)

The reports of the first marijuana overdose death are unscientific hype, Canada's provinces try varying paths toward dealing with legal marijuana, and more.

Canada's provinces are taking varying approaches to looming marijuana legalization.
Marijuana Policy

First Marijuana Overdose Death? Not So Fast. A case report about a Colorado infant who died after being exposed to marijuana generated numerous headlines about "the first marijuana overdose death" this week, but those headlines misstated the findings. "We are absolutely not saying that marijuana killed that child," St. Luke's University Director of Medical Toxicology Thomas Nappe, an author of the report, told the Washington Post. Instead, said Nappe, the doctors in the case noted the presence of marijuana in the child's system and warned the medical community that it may be worth studying whether there is a relationship between the presence of marijuana and the child's cause of death, myocarditis.

Medical Marijuana

Michigan Announces New Fees for Medical Marijuana Businesses. The state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs announced Friday that medical marijuana businesses must pay a $6,000 one-time application fee to the state. That's in addition to any municipal fees, which could run as high as $5,000. The fee announcement comes as the state attempts to overhaul its medical marijuana regulations, with "emergency" regulations set to be issued next month.

International

Alberta Will Allow Marijuana Sales in Private Shops and on Government Web Site. The provincial government filed a bill Thursday to deal with looming pot legalization. The bill would allow marijuana to be sold online on a government web site as well as through privately-operated stores. The bill also sets a minimum age of 18 for marijuana consumption. If passed, the proposals would go into effect on July 1, 2018, when marijuana becomes legal in Canada.

Quebec Bill Would Bar Home Marijuana Cultivation, Set Government Sales Monopoly. The provincial government's draft marijuana legislation, filed Thursday, would see marijuana sold only by a series of province-owned pot shops and a government web site. The measure also bars home cultivation and attempts to crack down on marijuana-impaired driving.

Medical Marijuana Update

A leading Kentucky politican creates a panel to draft a medical marijuana bill, New York approves medical marijuana for PTSD, Montana released new proposed rules for the industry, and more.

Arizona

On Monday, the state was sued over patient fees. A Phoenix attorney has asked the state Court of Appeals to force health officials to cut the $150 fee patients need to get a state-issued permit to use medical marijuana. Attorney Sean Berberian said the fee is illegally high, is far more than needed to finance the administration of the medical marijuana law, and is designed to divert patients away from applying to use medical marijuana.

Kentucky

On Wednesday, the secretary of state formed a panel to write a medical marijuana bill. Secretary of State Alison Grimes (D) said that she is putting together a panel to write a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. The panel will include doctors, nurses, military veterans, medical marijuana advocates, and law enforcement. The aim is to have a bill ready for the 2018 legislative session.

Montana

On Thursday, the state released new proposed rules for the medical marijuana industry. The state Health Department Thursday released a pack of of proposed rules for the medical marijuana industry, which will be the subject of a public hearing later this month. The rules cover regulation of areas such as employment, product testing and tracking, security, and fees.

New York

Last Saturday, the state approved medical marijuana for PTSD. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law Saturday a bill that adds PTSD to the state's list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. "Our veterans risked their lives in order to defend the ideals and principles that this nation was founded upon," Cuomo said in a signing statement, "and it is our duty to do everything we can to support them when they return home. PTSD is a serious problem facing our state, and now we have one more tool available to alleviate suffering."

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Chronicle AM: GA County Pays Big Time for School Drug Raid, Afghan Opium Crop Up, More... (11/16/17)

California gets ready for legal marijuana, Michigan gets ready to put a legalization initiative on the ballot, a Georgia county pays bigtime for a raid on school students, Afghan opium production nearly doubles, and more.

In Afghan fields, the poppies grow... and grow and grow... (UNODC)
Marijuana Policy

California Announces Emergency Licensing Regs for Legal Marijuana Commerce. The state's three marijuana licensing authorities announced Thursday that they have posted online proposed emergency licensing regulations for the era of legal marijuana commerce beginning January 1. The Bureau of Cannabis Control regulations are available here; the Department of Food and Agriculture regulations are available here; and the Department of Public Health regulations are available here.

Michigan Initiative Campaign Has Signatures, Needs to Pay for Them. The campaign to put a legalization initiative on the November 2018 ballot said Wednesday it had gathered more than 360,000 raw signatures, well more than the 252,000 required by law, but that it needed to raise $30,000 to pay off a signature-collection firm before it can turn in the signatures. The campaign said it expected to be able to hand in signatures before Thanksgiving.

San Francisco Won't Be Ready for Legal Pot Sales on January 1. Oh, irony of ironies, the city that was ground zero for the marijuana reform movement won't be ready to allow marijuana sales on January 1, when legal sales begin statewide. In a Tuesday meeting, the Board of Supervisors failed to agree on regulations governing sales, postponing further discussion of the rules until November 28, and virtually ensuring that rules will not be in place by January 1.

Medical Marijuana

Kentucky Secretary of State Forms Panel to Write Medical Marijuana Bill. Secretary of State Alison Grimes (D) said Wednesday that she is putting together a panel to write a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. The panel will include doctors, nurses, military veterans, medical marijuana advocates, and law enforcement. The aim is to have a bill ready for the 2018 legislative session.

Montana Released New Proposed Rules for Medical Marijuana Industry. The state Health Department Thursday released a pack of of proposed rules for the medical marijuana industry, which will be the subject of a public hearing later this month. The rules cover regulation of areas such as employment, product testing and tracking, security, and fees.

Drug Testing

Department of Transportation Adds Opioids to Truck Driver Drug Testing Panel. The DOT issued a final rule Monday that will expand its drug testing panel for DOT-regulated industries to include hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone. The agency said the move was "a direct effort to enhance safety, prevent opioid abuse and combat the nation's growing opioid epidemic." The rule goes into effect on January 1.

Law Enforcement

Georgia County to Pay $3 Million to Students in School-Wide Drug Search. Worth County, Georgia, has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit brought on behalf of students who were subjected to a school-wide lockdown during a drug sweep in April. Each Worth County High School Student will receive between $1,000 and $6,000, with the higher amounts going to students who suffered more invasive violations. "This settlement is a victory for the hundreds of Worth County students whose constitutional rights were violated," Mark Begnaud, an attorney for one of the students, told UPI.

International

Afghan Opium Output Nearly Doubled This Year. Opium production in Afghanistan hit a record level of nearly 10,000 tons this year, up 87% from last year. The area under poppy cultivation also increased, up 63% over last year. The figures are coming from the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. "It is high time for the international community and Afghanistan to reprioritize drug control, and to acknowledge that every nation has a shared responsibility for this global problem," UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in a statement.

Chronicle AM: NH Panel Votes Down Legalization Bill, Kratom Battle Heats Up, More... (11/15/17)

Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidates get behind legal weed, a New Hampshire House committee doesn't, Arizona gets sued over high medical marijuana permit fees, the kratom wars heat up, and more.

Kratom -- advocates call it a boon, the FDA and DEA call it a bane. (Wikimedia)
Marijuana Policy

Michigan Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Support Marijuana Legalization. Four leading Democratic contenders for the gubernatorial nomination are supporting marijuana legalization, and so is one little-known Republican candidate. "We've seen other states do it wrong. In Michigan, we've got a chance to do it right," said former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday night in a candidate forum hosted by MI Legalize. That is the group behind the legalization initiative campaign set to hand in signatures next week. Other Democratic contenders including Abdul El-Sayed and Bill Cobb are also embracing legalization. Republican front runner Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has been an ardent foe of medical marijuana, has so far avoided commenting on legalization.

New Hampshire House Committee Rejects Marijuana Legalization Bill. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to kill House Bill 656, which would have legalized marijuana, after members expressed concerns about conflicts with federal law and the desirability of legalizing it in a state in the throes of an opioid crisis. But despite the committee vote, the bill is not necessarily dead: In recent years, the full House has repeatedly overturned the committee's recommendations and passed marijuana reform bills.

Vermont Marijuana Task Force Has Second Meeting. Gov. Phil Scott's Marijuana Advisory Commission met for the second time Wednesday, concentrating on the impact of legalization on highway safety. The commission heard a report from Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson. "When you have increased use of marijuana or legalization of marijuana, you're gonna see more fatalities on your roadways. I think the data does support that, and I know there are different views on that, but I would feel comfortable taking that to a jury and trying to convince them of that," said Anderson. The commission must finalize its recommendations by January 15.

Medical Marijuana

Arizona Sued Over Patient Fees. A Phoenix attorney has asked the state Court of Appeals to force health officials to cut the $150 fee patients need to get a state-issued permit to use medical marijuana. Attorney Sean Berberian said the fee is illegally high, is far more than needed to finance the administration of the medical marijuana law, and is designed to divert patients away from applying to use medical marijuana.

Kratom

FDA Issues Warning on Kratom, Advocates Reject It. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a public health advisory on kratom Tuesday, saying the herb was linked to 36 deaths and calling its use as an opioid substitute "extremely concerning." But on Wednesday, the American Kratom Association pushed back, calling on the FDA to rescind the advisory because it relied on "discredited, incomplete, and mischaracterized scientific claims." The DEA moved to emergency ban kratom a year ago, but backed down in the face of loud opposition. The FDA alert could suggest that efforts to crackdown could be coming soon.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this web site. 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.)

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