Congresswoman Barbara Lee Applauds Passage of Amendment to Protect State, Territory, and Tribal Cannabis Programs

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, today applauded the passage of the Blumenauer, McClintock, Holmes Norton, Lee amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science Department funding bill. The measure, which would prevent the Department of Justice from using its funds to impede the implementation of cannabis programs in states, territories, and tribes, passed in a 254-163 vote. 

“For far too long, our federal cannabis policies have been rooted in our discriminatory past and have continued inflicting harm on communities of color. As the public’s views toward cannabis have evolved, Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our policies follow suit and move toward restorative justice,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “I’m proud to have worked alongside Reps. Blumenauer, McClintock, and Holmes Norton on this crucial amendment to protect the progress states, tribes, and territories have made toward ending the discriminatory war on drugs.”

“The American people are demanding a change to our outdated cannabis laws and I am glad to see my colleagues heeding their calls,” said Rep. Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “As we work to ultimately end the senseless prohibition of cannabis and the failed war on drugs, these amendments will help ensure the protection of legal state, territory and tribal cannabis programs.”

US Senate: Leading Marijuana Prohibitionist Out As Judiciary Committee Chair

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: One of the US Senate’s leading marijuana prohibitionists, Iowa Republican Charles Grassley, will not be heading the Judiciary Committee in the 116th Congress.

Representative Grassley announced on Friday that he is stepping down as leader of the Committee. As Chair, Grassley refused to hold any hearings or votes on marijuana-related legislation, including bipartisan legislative efforts like the STATES Act. Virtually all Senate legislation specific to marijuana policy must pass through the Judiciary Committee.

Representative Grassley received a D- grade on NORML’s 2018 Congressional Scorecard.

Next in line to Chair the Committee is Republican Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who received a C grade from NORML.

Representative Grassley’s decision to step down follows the retirement of House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and the failed re-election bid of House Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX) – both of whom also used their leadership powers to stifle any legislative debate on marijuana policy.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

Canada: Far Fewer Young People Using Cannabis

CANADA:  Cannabis use among Canadian adolescents has declined significantly in recent years, and fewer teens say that it is easy to obtain, according to data published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

Investigators at the University of Waterloo in Ontario assessed teen marijuana use trends for the years 2004 to 2015. Researchers reported that adolescent use fell nearly 50 percent between the years 2008/2009 and 2014/2015. The percentage of teens who acknowledged that accessing cannabis “would be easy” fell nearly 40 percent between 2006/2007 and 2014/2015.

“Overall, cannabis use among Canadian youth appears to have peaked around 2008/09, with substantial declines over the past decade,” they concluded.

Adolescent marijuana use rates in the United States have followed a similar decline over the better part of the past two decades.

The researchers published separate data in January finding that few Canadians who consume cannabis meet criteria for problematic use.

Earlier this month, Canada legalized the use and sale of cannabis to those age 18 and older.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Trends in cannabis use over time among Canadian youth: 2004-2014,” appears in Preventive Medicine. NORML’s fact-sheet, “Marijuana regulation and teens use rates,” appears online.

 

Senate Passes Farm Bill, Which Includes Senator McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today the Senate passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill), which takes serious steps to ensure the future of American agriculture. A conference committee made up with members from both chambers will now reconcile the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill.

The Senate Farm Bill strengthens the safety measures that directly help commodity producers as they confront low prices and the constant threat of natural disasters. It also seizes on a number of opportunities to invest in the future of American agriculture and rural communities. It contains a provision – championed by Senator McConnell — that would empower farmers to begin cultivating industrial hemp, a crop that could play a key role in the economic future of Kentucky and the nation. It also focuses on expanding rural broadband and water infrastructure and continuing the fight against the opioid epidemic is devastating rural America.

“As the proud senior Senator from the Commonwealth of Kentucky who has served on the Agriculture Committee since my first day in the Senate, I know exactly how important this legislation is to agricultural communities. From soybeans and corn to hay and tobacco to poultry and livestock, Kentucky agriculture encompasses a multi-billion-dollar industry that supports thousands and thousands of good jobs in nearly every corner of the Commonwealth,” Senator McConnell said. “Kentuckians know as well as anyone just how important American agriculture is — and we understand as well as anyone all the unique challenges that it faces. That is why I proudly supported this bill, which will bolster programs supporting our producers.”

“Today’s passage of the Senate version of the Farm Bill takes farm families here in Kentucky and across the country one step closer to the certainty they need to survive such a tough agricultural economy,” said Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney. “I would like to thank Senator McConnell on his extensive efforts to move forward the single most important piece of legislation affecting agriculture and rural communities. He continually works to help an industry that is so crucial to every citizen in this country, as well as our neighbors across the world who depend heavily on the success of the American farmer.”

The Senate Farm Bill also includes Senator McConnell’s measure (The Hemp Farming Act of 2018) to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. It also gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

“Last year alone, Kentucky hemp recorded more than $16 million in product sales through the state pilot program I previously secured, demonstrating that hemp holds great potential for the future of Kentucky agriculture,” Senator McConnell added. “For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp. Although it was a foundational part of Kentucky’s heritage and today you can buy hemp products at stores across the country, most American farmers have been barred from planting it in their fields. I have heard from many Kentucky farmers who agree it’s time to remove the federal hurdles and give our state the opportunity to seize its full potential and once again become the national leader for hemp production. That is why I strongly advocated for this measure to be included in the Farm Bill, which will finally and fully legalize industrial hemp.”

“For farmers across America, there is no piece of legislation more important than the Farm Bill,” saidKentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. “I am particularly excited to see that the full text of Leader McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018 made it into this bipartisan bill. This Farm Bill will allow state departments of agriculture, like Kentucky’s, to unleash the full economic potential of industrial hemp pilot programs. I applaud Leader McConnell for his tireless advocacy for Kentucky farmers.”

In collaboration with agriculture leaders in Kentucky and throughout the nation, Senator McConnell utilized his position as Senate Majority Leader to secure language in the 2014 Farm Bill to authorize hemp research pilot programs. He built on that success with federal legislation to ensure that hemp produced from the pilot program could be transported, processed, and marketed. Under the guidance of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and his predecessor, now-U.S. Representative James Comer (KY-1), these programs have allowed Kentucky farmers to both research the plant and to demonstrate its potential. Representative Comer is leading the effort on this issue in the House of Representatives.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott Signs H. 511 Legalizing Marijuana For Adult Use

VERMONT:  On January 22nd, 2018 Governor Phil Scott signed H. 511, An act relating to eliminating penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older, into law.

Read his full message to the General Assembly below:

“Today, with mixed emotions, I have signed H. 511.

“As I said when I vetoed S. 22 in May, I personally believe that what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.  In this context, it is very important to understand what H. 511 does and does not do.

“While this legislation decriminalizes, for adults 21 and older, personal possession of no more than 1 ounce, and cultivation of two mature plants on their private property, marijuana remains a controlled substance in Vermont and its sale is prohibited.  Also, consumption of marijuana in public places is prohibited.  Consumption of marijuana by operators and passengers in a motor vehicle is prohibited.  Schools, employers, municipalities and landlords are also empowered to adopt policies and ordinances further restricting the cultivation and use.

“In addition, when we negotiated a compromise prior to the veto session in June, I insisted the legislation also include:

  • Stronger criminal and civil penalties for selling to or enabling the consumption of marijuana by someone under 21;
  • Criminal penalties for using marijuana in a motor vehicle with a child present;
  • Criminal penalties for using or growing marijuana at facilities serving children.
  • Clear legal liability of the consequences of making marijuana available to minors.
  • Strict penalties for possession of marijuana by those convicted of felony sale of marijuana, selling a regulated drug to minors, or on school grounds;
  • Stronger penalties and fines for open containers in a motor vehicle; and
  • Marijuana in excess of the permitted limit remains contraband and subject to seizure and forfeiture.

“H. 511 included these additional protections.

“My S.22 veto message also plainly expressed my reservations about a commercial system which depends on profit motive and market driven demand for its growth.  I look forward to the Marijuana Advisory Commission addressing the need to develop comprehensive education, prevention and highway safety strategies. To be very direct:  There must be comprehensive and convincing plans completed in these areas before I will begin to consider the wisdom of implementing a commercial “tax and regulate” system for an adult marijuana market. It is important for the General Assembly to know that – until we have a workable plan to address each of these concerns – I will veto any additional effort along these lines, which manages to reach my desk.

“More importantly, as I noted in my State of the State address, I ask the General Assembly to now turn its efforts to addressing more significant issues faced by Vermonters in their daily lives.”

Click here to view the letter sent to the General Assembly.

Mailing Marijuana: Officials Report Spike In Pot-Laden Packages

ILLINOIS: Since recreational use of the marijuana became legal in several states, authorities report a major jump in the number of pot-filled packages being sent through the mail.

Mailing marijuana is a federal crime – even if it originates from a state where the drug is legal. Marijuana by mail has nothing to do with Illinois medical marijuana, which started Monday.

This is the story of illegal marijuana delivered to the doorstep, and experts said most of the marijuana stashed inside mail goes undetected.

The U.S. Postal service handles more than 155 billion pieces of mail a year and more than a billion of that in Chicago. Forty thousand pounds of pot were seized nationwide from the mail last year.

Barbara Boxer and Dean Heller Back Federal Legalization Of Medical Marijuana In States That Allow It

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The CARERS Act, which would make the federal ban on marijuana inapplicable to people who comply with state laws allowing medical use of the plant, has attracted a couple of interesting cosponsors since it was introduced last week. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) signed on last Wednesday, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) joined him yesterday. Both represent states with medical marijuana laws.

Heller, who was known as a moderate when he served as a state legislator and Nevada’s secretary of state, moved right when he represented Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District, then moved left when he ran for the Senate in 2012. Announcing his support for the CARERS Act, he hit themes with appeal on the left and the right. “The time has come for the federal government to stop impeding the doctor-patient relationship in states that have decided their own medical marijuana policies,” he said.

“This bipartisan legislation puts Americans who are suffering first by allowing Nevada’s medical marijuana patients, providers, and businesses that are in compliance with state law to no longer be in violation of federal law and vulnerable to federal prosecution.”

Jamaica Mulls Legal Marijuana (No, It’s Not Already Legal)

JAMAICA:  This tourist mecca may soon be known as the Colorado of the Caribbean.

Given the ready availability of “ganja” as the locals call it, many outsiders assume marijuana is already legal in Jamaica, but it’s not … yet.

Encouraged by legalized marijuana in Colorado, Washington state and Uruguay — the first country to legalize and regulate the weed — Jamaican farmers and some politicians want to capitalize on what already is a homegrown industry with an international brand.

Dreadlocked Rastafarians and farmers gathered in downtown Kingston in April to launch Jamaica’s Ganja Future Growers and Producers Association. The only thing missing was the smoke. They listened to speakers from Jamaica, the United States and Canada about the benefits of the drug and the need to get on the bandwagon for the marijuana industry.