Centers For Disease Control: Initial State Findings Point To Clinical Similarities In Illnesses Among People Who Use E-cigarettes Or “Vape”

No single product linked to all cases of lung disease

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Initial findings from the investigation into serious lung illnesses associated with e-cigarette products point to clinical similarities among those affected. Patients report similar exposures, symptoms and clinical findings and these align with the CDC health advisory released last week. While many of the patients, but not all, reported recent use of THC-containing products, some reported using both THC- and nicotine-containing products. A smaller group reported using nicotine only.

No evidence of infectious diseases has been identified in these patients, therefore lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure. However, it is too early to pinpoint a single product or substance common to all cases, according to authors of articles published today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We are committed to finding out what is making people sick,” said Robert R. Redfield, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “All available information is being carefully analyzed, and these initial findings are helping us narrow the focus of our investigation and get us closer to the answers needed to save lives.”

CDC, FDA, and state partners are combining information about e-cigarette exposures, results from FDA testing of product samples, and clinical testing results to identify a cause or causes of these illnesses.

“The FDA appreciates the continued collaboration between our federal and state public health partners to get to the bottom of these distressing incidents and gather more information about any products or substances used. We are leaving no stone unturned in following any potential leads and we’re committed to taking appropriate actions as the facts emerge,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. “Our laboratory is working closely with our federal and state partners to identify the products or substances that may be causing the illnesses and have received more than 120 samples from the states so far. The FDA is analyzing these for a broad range of chemicals but no one substance, including Vitamin E acetate, has been identified in all of the samples tested. Importantly, identifying any compounds present in the samples will be one piece of the puzzle but won’t necessarily answer questions about causality, which makes our ongoing work critical.”

CDC launched a multi-state investigation into the lung illnesses on August 1, 2019, and has worked closely since then with FDA, states and other public health partners, and clinicians to determine the cause. As of today, more than 25 states have reported possible cases of lung illnesses associated with use of e-cigarette products (e.g., devices, liquids, refill pods, and cartridges).

At least two deaths have been reported to CDC. Additional cases of lung illness are being investigated to determine whether they are linked to e-cigarette use and have similar clinical features. This includes looking back for older cases based on CDC’s case definition. States are in the process of classifying possible cases, and this information will be reported next week.

What CDC is doing

CDC has created an incident command structure to respond to these illnesses and is working with FDA and states to investigate whether the illnesses may be linked to specific devices, ingredients, or contaminants in the devices, or substances associated with e-cigarette product use. On August 30, 2019, states were asked to submit data to CDC about lung illnesses associated with e-cigarette product use, as well as information about the types of e-cigarette products used. CDC is currently receiving data from affected states and will share updates as more information becomes available.

What health care providers can do

CDC encourages clinicians to immediately report possible cases of e-cigarette-associated lung disease to their local or state health department for further investigation. If e-cigarette product use is suspected as a possible cause for a patient’s lung disease, a detailed history of the substances used, the sources, and the devices used should be obtained, as outlined in the HAN (Health Alert Network), and efforts should be made to determine if any remaining product, devices, and liquids are available for testing.

What the public can do

While this investigation is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products. People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever) and promptly seek medical attention for any health concerns. Regardless of the ongoing investigation, people who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. E-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.

If you are concerned about your health after using an e-cigarette product, contact your health care provider, or you can also call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Health care providers also can contact their local poison control center.

CDC and FDA encourage the public to submit detailed reports of any unexpected health or product issues related to tobacco or e-cigarette products to the FDA via the online Safety Reporting Portalexternal icon.

The reports released today in CDC’s MMWR include “Severe Pulmonary Disease Associated with Electronic-Cigarette-Product Use – Interim Guidance” by CDC authors and “Notes from the Field: An outbreak of e-cigarette associated acute lipoid pneumonia — North Carolina, July–August, 2019,” from North Carolina cliniciansThe New England Journal of Medicine today released “Preliminary Report: Pulmonary disease associated with e-cigarette use, Illinois and Wisconsin,” with authors from the two states and CDC co-authors.

More information about the investigation is available on the CDC website.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces 2019 Hemp For Victory Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) introduced H.R. 3652, the Hemp for Victory Act which lays the foundation for the emerging hemp industry in a manner that incentivizes family farmers and small businesses, protects against corporate monopolies, and studies the benefits of hemp cultivation and hemp-based products while ensuring safe agricultural practices, and environmental and labor considerations.

“The hemp industry is poised to grow rapidly, having a billion dollar impact on the U.S. economy and creating thousands of jobs. Hemp-based materials have the potential to transform industries from health care to domestic manufacturing to affordable, sustainable housing construction, and more. Studies have shown it can play a role in helping remove toxins from our environment and prevent soil erosion, as well as provide alternatives to single-use plastics, which pollute our lands and ocean,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “My bill will lay the foundation for how we can optimize the hemp industry’s potential and ensure this opportunity benefits family farms and small businesses across America — from Hawai‘i to Kentucky and beyond.”

“Congresswoman Gabbard’s commitment to re-energizing the American farmer and delivering on the economic and planetary healing promise of the versatile, valuable hemp plant is exactly what our nation needs, and the time is now to support her bold efforts,” said Joy Beckerman, a board member with the Hemp Industries Association.

“We commend Congresswoman Gabbard for her leadership on introducing the Hemp For Victory Act,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “The fledgling hemp industry can create thousands of farming and manufacturing jobs but needs research and the same support given to other crops which the bill helps provide.”

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Background: H.R. 3652, the Hemp for Victory Act of 2019, named after the World War II-era effort to revitalize the U.S. hemp industry, broadly addresses many aspects of the re-emerging U.S. hemp industry. The legislation’s objective is to build and encourage a national hemp industry, but to ensure that is done correctly, meaning that there are proper labor, consumer, and health standards; investment incentives; safe agricultural practices; environmental considerations; and more. At its core, the bill is aimed at providing opportunities for small businesses, family farms, indigenous populations, and veterans to participate in and prosper from this industry.

The bill will engage the expertise of several U.S. agencies, as well as land-grant universities, in order to lay the foundations of and generate the demand necessary for our hemp industry to ensure domestic economic potential is met across several sectors. Recognizing the potential for this commodity to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry, the bill directs the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Defense, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, and Small Business Administration to conduct research and develop studies on the uses and benefits of hemp. This includes preservation and rehabilitation of our environment through toxic site cleanup and soil erosion control, sustainable and affordable housing, nutritional benefits to our children in school lunches and healthcare benefits to our veterans, alternatives to single-use plastics to reduce our ecological footprint, and the creation of thousands of jobs, among so many more.

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was an original cosponsor of H.R. 3530, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, a stand-alone bill in the 115th Congress which would have reclassified hemp as an agricultural crop. She supported H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 — more broadly referred to as “the Farm Bill” — which passed both the House and Senate with strong bipartisan majorities and was signed into law. Among its many provisions, the bill legalized the production of industrial hemp and put its regulation under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rep. Gabbard supports empowering local farmers and expanding their opportunities. She also joined a bipartisan amicus brief asking the Court to recognize and uphold the Congressional intent of prior legislation that allowed states to grow, cultivate, and research industrial hemp under specific conditions.

Senators Harris, Nadler Introduce Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Legislation

MJLegal

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, one of the most comprehensive marijuana reform bills ever introduced in the U.S. Congress.

“Times have changed — marijuana should not be a crime,” said Sen. Harris. “We need to start regulating marijuana, and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives. As marijuana becomes legal across the country, we must make sure everyone — especially communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs — has a real opportunity to participate in this growing industry. I am thrilled to work with Chairman Nadler on this timely and important step toward racial and economic justice.”

“Despite the legalization of marijuana in states across the country, those with criminal convictions for marijuana still face second class citizenship. Their vote, access to education, employment, and housing are all negatively impacted,” said Chairman Nadler. “Racially motivated enforcement of marijuana laws has disproportionally impacted communities of color. It’s past time to right this wrong nationwide and work to view marijuana use as an issue of personal choice and public health, not criminal behavior. I’m proud to sponsor the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, remove the needless burden of marijuana convictions on so many Americans, and invest in communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs.”

“I am encouraged by Senator Harris’ Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act,” said Wanda James, CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary, Denver, CO, and the first African American woman to own a marijuana dispensary in Colorado. “Her focus and dedication to ending the generational damage done by mass incarceration due to federal cannabis prohibition is what is needed from our leadership. I am also excited about her emphasis in providing a path to ownership and wealth creation in communities that have been the most affected by this failed and racist drug war. It is time to change this history.”

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act aims to correct the historical injustices of failed drug policies that have disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income communities by requiring resentencing and expungement of prior convictions. This will create new opportunities for individuals as they work to advance their careers, education, and overall quality of life. Immigrants will also benefit from the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, as they will no longer be subject to deportation or citizenship denial based on even a minor marijuana offense. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act also ensures that all benefits in the law are available to juvenile offenders.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act:

  • Decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level by removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act. This applies retroactively to prior and pending convictions, and enables states to set their own policy.
  • Requires federal courts to expunge prior convictions, allows prior offenders to request expungement, and requires courts, on motion, to conduct re-sentencing hearings for those still under supervision.
  • Authorizes the assessment of a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund, which includes three grant programs:
    • The Community Reinvestment Grant Program: Provides services to the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring, and substance use treatment.
    • The Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program: Provides funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
    • The Equitable Licensing Grant Program: Provides funds for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
  • Opens up Small Business Administration funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
  • Provides non-discrimination protections for marijuana use or possession, and for prior convictions for a marijuana offense:
    • Prohibits the denial of any federal public benefit (including housing) based on the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense.
    • Provides that the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense, will have no adverse impact under the immigration laws.
  • Requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure people of color and those who are economically disadvantaged are participating in the industry.

Along with Harris and Nadler, co-sponsors of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act include U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR); and U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Hakeem S. Jeffries (D-NY), Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Steve Cohen (D-TN), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Theodore E. Deutch (D-FL), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Debra A. Haaland (D-NM), Ro Khanna (D-CA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act has the support of a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups, including: the Drug Policy Alliance, Center for American Progress, 4thMVMT, ACLU, California Minority Alliance, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Human Rights Watch, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Sentencing Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, UndocuBlack Network, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

“The disproportionate rates of marijuana arrests and incarceration faced by low-income communities and communities of color only scratch the surface of the devastation that prohibition has caused,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy coordinator for Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana convictions have disrupted people’s lives — from one’s ability to secure or maintain employment, housing, funds for education, a valid driver’s license to the ability to keep one’s kids or remain in this country for noncitizens. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act ends prohibition in a way that centers communities most impacted by criminalization with reform that is as comprehensive as the decades of harm inflicted.”

“America’s black and brown communities have paid the heaviest price for this country’s drug war. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act marks an unprecedented step toward repairing this harm and represents the responsible way to move forward on marijuana policy,” said Ed Chung, Vice President of Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress. “We look forward to working with Congress to swiftly pass this bill.”

“At a point in time when simultaneously one person could have their life ruined in New York for the exact same action that makes someone in California a millionaire, now more than ever we must end the federal prohibition of marijuana,” said Justin StrekalPolitical Director for NORML. “The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act embodies the need to legalize cannabis and restore the rights of those who have suffered under the cruel and failed policy of criminalization.”

“Marijuana legalization is imperative if we are to move closer to true criminal justice reform, racial equality, and economic justice,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, Deputy Director of the Washington Legislative Office at the ACLU. “Too many communities of color have been disproportionately targeted and over-policed as a result of the war on drugs. We support this comprehensive bicameral legislation that aims to not only chart a more equitable path forward, but also repair some of the harm caused by the punitive marijuana laws of the past.

“We thank Senator Harris and Chairman Nadler for introducing the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “To successfully mitigate the damage of a biased criminal justice system, we need legislation that directly addresses the racial and economic disparities caused by marijuana criminalization. As an anti-poverty organization, we applaud the bill’s promotion of equal access to economic opportunities in the marijuana industry, support for community reinvestment strategies, and provisions ensuring that people with marijuana convictions no longer face the collateral consequences of a criminal record. By doing all this, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act would be an important first step to repairing the harm to communities of color and low-income communities from decades of discriminatory drug law enforcement and mass incarceration policies.”

For bill text, click here. 

 

Women Grow 2019 Leadership Summit In Washington, D.C. Is June 7-8, 2019

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Celebrating its sixth year “connecting, educating and empowering” leaders in the cannabis and hemp industry, Women Grow, LLCis bringing one of the year’s most highly anticipated events to the East Coast!   Washington, D.C. will play host to the Women Grow 2019 Leadership Summit at the scenic Washington Court Hotel on June 7-8, 2019. Inspired by the influx of women-power in Congress and a desire to take the message of legalization directly to Capitol Hill, this year’s summit is poised to be the largest woman-focused cannabis industry event of its kind in the world.

The Women Grow 2019 Leadership Summit will offer fresh takes on signature components, along with new experiences that stimulate and engage women at every level of business and in their careers.  Curated TED-style “Lightning Talks,” intimate “fireside chats,”multi-tracked breakout sessions and hands-on workshops will be led by industry  innovators, and for the first time, women leaders outside of the business of cannabis and hemp.  Attendees are invited to unite with a community of women (and men) from across North America and around the world at morning wellness sessions, networking reception and a vibrant on-site expo featuring various businesses across the industry – inviting women-owned or led businesses to display their products and services.

 

Washington, D. C. in June offers an accessible backdrop for personalized exploration beyond Summit.  Part of the excitement of bringing Summit to the area is that attendees will get an unique view of the city that Women Grow Chairwoman of the Board and newly tapped Chief Executive Officer Dr. Chanda Macias calls home.  “It is such an honor to welcome thousands of women to our nation’s capital at such a pivotal point in our history,” said Dr. Macias who also is the owner of the leading medical marijuana dispensary in the area, National Holistic Healing Center. “We are in the midst of a great shift of women representation in business, which speaks to the work and tenacity of the women leading the cannabis and hemp industry.”

Speaking on her appointment as CEO, Dr. Macias added, “I was honored last year to be named chairwoman of the board of managers and I’m incredibly humbled to be named CEO this year as we continue to carry on the company’s mission to lift and inspire the next generation of leaders.”

In an effort to open the summit experience to as many as possible, early-bird admission tickets are priced at $249.99 to April 26th, with regular priced tickets at $349.99 until June 1st  and late registration is $420. Summit will be held at The Washington Court Hotel located at 525 Jersey Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. just steps away from Capitol Hill and the National Mall. To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.wgsummit.com.

Report: Retail Cannabis Tax Revenues Surpass $1 Billion In 2018

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: State and local excise tax collections on retail adult-use cannabis sales surpassed $1 billion in 2018 — a 57 percent increase over 2017 levels, according to data compiled by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Annual excise tax revenues on adult-use cannabis sales ($1.04 billion) rivaled those for all forms of alcohol $(1.16 billion), the group reported. State-specific sales taxes on retail cannabis purchases also yielded an addition $300 million in revenue in 2018.

Authors of the report estimated that cannabis-specific taxes would raise an estimated $11.9 billion annually if the product were legally available at retailers nationwide.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at: (202) 483-5500. Full text of the report is available online.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher Tweets His Support For Hemp Border Wall

Tweets President Trump, Steve Bannon & Erik Prince: “A Hemp-Based Concrete Border Wall is a Win for USA”

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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ​​In a Tweet posted from his official Twitter account, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher urged President Trump to read and consider a plan created by the cannabis community for a southern border wall constructed from a hemp-based material, known as Hemp concrete. The plan also includes national cannabis legalization with a 3% federal tax that would fully fund the border wall, as well as a program to employ US Veterans in its construction.

“A HEMP-BASED CONCRETE BORDER WALL (is) a win for USA security & taxpayers, farmers, veterans & environmentalists. Bold thinking!” Rohrabacher said in his Tweet, which he directed to President Trump, as well as Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Blackwater founder Erik Prince. He added, “See @bud_trader white paper,” pointing the President and his staff to a white paper published by a cannabis social media site BudTrader.com.

Rohrabacher’s statement comes in the wake of news that Bannon and Prince, along with other key Republican operatives, are developing plans to build a Hempcrete wall along the U.S./Mexico border, but are still seeking private funding for the project, according to POLITICO.

“According to Congressman Rohrabacher, he spoke to Steve Bannon and he is going to read the Hemp Wall white paper that BudTrader and the Cannabis/Hemp Community wrote,” says BudTrader.com CEO Brad McLaughlin, who originally proposed the hemp wall concept to Congressman Rohrabacher in April of 2018. McLaughlin’s proposal calls for federal legalization of cannabis (including for veterans and government workers) and a 3% federal tax on cannabis sales to fund the wall.

BudTrader was in the news recently for offering Free Cannabis to federal employees during the government shutdown as first reported by The Hill. In the wake of The Hill story, BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin has been calling for Federal Employees to have safe access to cannabis, which is currently prohibited. “Federal Employees should have safe and legal access to medical cannabis. I can’t think of one reason why they shouldn’t”.

McLaughlin formally submitted his Hemp Wall White Paper to then Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in September 2018 after a three day trip to Washington D.C. with the Congressman, where he was advocating for the Farm Bill and Cannabis Legalization on the federal level. He met members of congress and President Trump.

The full Research Paper can be found here: Use Industrial Hemp Materials to Build a U.S./Mexico Border Wall Funded by: The Cannabis Industry/Federal Cannabis Tax

Senators Wyden, Merkley Urge FDA To Update Regulations To Ensure US Producers & Consumers Have Access To CBD, Other Hemp Products

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update federal regulations governing the use of certain hemp-derived ingredients in food, beverages or dietary supplements.

Congress legalized the production and sale of industrial hemp and hemp derivatives, including hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), when it passed Wyden and Merkley’s Hemp Farming Act as a provision included in the 2018 Farm Bill. Outdated regulations, however, limit producers from taking full advantage of the industrial hemp market by, for example, prohibiting food products containing CBD from being sold across state lines.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Wyden and Merkley requested the FDA update its regulations and give U.S. producers more flexibility in the production, consumption, and sale of hemp products.

“Farmers in Oregon and nationwide are poised to make real economic gains for their communities once these regulations are updated,” Wyden and Merkley wrote. “We will be closely engaged in the ongoing implementation of our legislation, as it was Congress’ intent to ensure that both U.S producers and consumers have access to a full range of hemp-derived products, including hemp-derived cannabinoids.”

As the FDA is operating with limited staff due to the Trump shutdown, Wyden and Merkley requested a response and answer to the following questions within 30 calendar days of the government reopening.

  1. What steps are the agency advancing to clarify to the public the authority the agency has in the production and marketing of hemp, specifically Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives?
  2. What lawful pathways are currently available for those who seek approval to introduce Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives as a food, beverages or dietary supplement, including into interstate commerce?
  3. Are there circumstances in which Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives may be permitted as a food, beverages or dietary supplement by the agency?
  4. Will the agency consider issuing a regulation, or pursing a process, that would allow Cannabis sativa L. and its derivatives in food, beverages or dietary supplements that cross state lines?

A full copy of the letter can be found here.

Iowa Senator Quashes Floor Debate On Marijuana STATES Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) on Tuesday blocked lawmakers from considering an amendment on the floor of the US Senate that sought to permanently remove the threat of federal intervention in states that regulate marijuana sales.

The amendment, offered by Colorado Republican Cory Gardner, was largely identical to Senate Bill 3032: The STATES Act, which creates an exemption under federal law for those jurisdictions that legally regulate marijuana production and retail sales. Senator Gardner has stated that he has the votes to pass the measure on the floor, and that the President would sign the bill into law. To date, however, the measure has yet to receive either a debate or a vote by members of the Senate.

Senator Grassley, who has previously bottled S. 3032 in committee, quashed Sen. Gardner’s effort to attach the language to broader sentencing reform bill, The First Step Act. Senator Grassley called the amendment a “backdoor to legalization,” and said that its intent was “inappropriate to consider in the context of a criminal justice reform bill.”

Senate members eventually passed The First Step Act. House members followed suit on Thursday. The measure now awaits action from the President.

As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Grassley has refused to permit votes on any Senate bills pertaining to marijuana law reform. However, in November, he announced that he would be stepping down as Committee Chair.


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

Senate Majority Leader: Farm Bill Will Lift Federal Hemp Ban

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reaffirmed on Friday that provisions lifting the federal prohibition of hemp will be included in the engrossed language of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill). The must-pass legislation is currently being debated by leadership in conference committee.

“If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there. I guarantee that,” McConnell told reporters. He added: “I don’t want to overstate this – I don’t know if it’s going to be the next tobacco or not – but I do think it has a lot of potential. And as all of you already know, in terms of food and medicine but also car parts. I mean, it’s an extraordinary plant.”

The hemp-specific provisions, which Sen. McConnell included in the Senate version of the bill, amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’)

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, permitting states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.

Lawmakers are seeking to finalize and pass the 2018 farm legislation prior to year’s end.


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

 

Gallup: Two In Three Americans Endorse Marijuana Legalization

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Sixty-six percent of Americans believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to nationwide polling data compiled by Gallup. The total marks an increase in support of almost 30 percent since 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize adult marijuana use, and is the highest level of support ever reported by the polling firm.

Majorities of Republicans (53 percent), Independents (71 percent) and Democrats (75 percent) back legalization. Among those age 18 to 34, 78 percent support legalizing marijuana. Fifty–nine percent of those over the age of 55 similarly back legalization – more than three-times the level of support expressed by older Americans in the year 2000.

The Gallup poll comes just days after a new Pew Research Center survey reported 62 percent nationwide support for legalization – the highest total ever recorded by that firm.

“It is time for lawmakers of both parties to acknowledge the data-driven and political realities of legalization,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in a press release. “It is time to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and implement common-sense, evidence-based regulations governing cannabis’ personal use and licensed production by responsible adults.”


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