U.S. House Of Representatives Approves Cannabis Banking Reform In Larger COVID-19 Relief Package

Lawmakers voted 208-199 (23 not voting) in favor of coronavirus “HEROES” relief package

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: On Friday evening (5/15/20) lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives passed additional coronavirus relief legislation to provide continued economic and government support to the country. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act includes the language of the SAFE Banking Act, which would prevent federal financial regulators from punishing financial institutions that provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, cannabis businesses across the country have been deemed essential and continue to operate. However, many of these businesses still lack access to the same financial services that are granted to every other industry in the United States. Because it is possible that coronavirus can be transmitted on currency — placing private industry and government workers at risk when handling large amounts of cash — allowing the cannabis industry to access banking services is now more crucial than ever. This policy change would also ensure that small and minority-owned businesses can access the financial assistance designed for them in many state programs.

The HEROES Act, which includes provisions to allow banks and financial institutions to provide services to the cannabis industry without fear of criminal prosecution, will now head to the Senate for consideration. In September 2019, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the SAFE Banking Act, but the legislation has since stalled in the Senate.

Statement from Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project:
“I’m encouraged that the House recognizes the urgency of this issue and has taken this strong and necessary position. We thank Chairwoman Maxine Waters and Rep. Ed Perlmutter for their leadership on the issue.

“Continuing to exclude the cannabis industry from accessing basic and essential financial services during this time will result in more harm than good. Not only will it make the country’s economic recovery that much harder, but the provisions intended to help minority-owned businesses would continue to be absent within the industry.”

Statement from Don Murphy, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project:
“In light of the public health and public safety benefits of this specific change in policy, the Senate has good reason to pass this language into law. This is a change in policy that the banks are asking for even more than the cannabis companies. We urge the Senate Banking Committee to adopt the SAFE Banking provisions to ensure financial institutions can provide basic banking services to businesses that are compliant with state law.”

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Connecticut House Appropriations Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill

CONNECTICUT: The Joint Committee on Appropriations approved a bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana for adults in Connecticut on Thursday, potentially setting it up for floor consideration before the end of this year’s legislative session.

regulate marijuanaHB 5394, which was introduced by the committee, would task the commissioners of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Consumer Protection and Revenue Services with developing regulations for possession and retail sales of marijuana for adults 21 and older. More details will be added to the bill as it moves forward over the coming weeks.

“This committee vote reiterates what most Connecticut residents already know: it is time to make marijuana legal for adults,” said Becky Dansky, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The discussions that have taken place in the legislature this year have provided more than enough information to effectively move forward with legalization. Connecticut should stop punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol, and it has an opportunity to regulate marijuana before it starts losing tax revenue to other states in the region that have already started this process.”

There are nine states that have made marijuana legal for adults, as well as the District of Columbia. Neighboring Massachusetts is in the process of implementing its regulated marijuana market, and in nearby New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has made legalizing and regulating marijuana a priority this year.

poll conducted by Sacred Heart University in October 2017 showed that 71% of Connecticut residents support regulating and taxing marijuana for adults.

 

NY Department Of Health Proposes Regulations That Would Expand Medical Marijuana Program

NEW YORK: The Department of Health just announced the issuance of new proposed regulations that would make changes to the state’s medical marijuana program to improve access. Among other things, they would reduce some of the onerous security requirements for registered organizations, shorten the length of the medical marijuana course certifying practitioners must take from four hours to two, and allow additional types of medical marijuana products to be sold.

New York’s medical marijuana program has been criticized by the Marijuana Policy Project and patient advocates as unnecessarily restrictive, and initial patient registration numbers were very low compared to other state medical marijuana programs. The Department of Health has made several changes to the program since it issued a report in August 2016, including adding chronic pain as a qualifying condition and allowing registered nurses and physician’s assistants to recommended medical marijuana.

The proposed regulatory changes can be viewed here.

Lawmakers have also been working to improve the medical marijuana program this session. In June, the Legislature passed a bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a qualifying condition. Gov. Andrew Cuomo must still sign the bill in order for it to become law.

Medical Marijuana Amendment Could Be On 2016 Ohio Ballot

OHIO: A Washington D.C.-based organization wants to put a medical marijuana amendment on Ohio’s November ballot.

Marijuana Policy Project, founded in 1995, plans to propose a constitutional amendment that would create a medical marijuana system similar to those states that have already legalized medical marijuana.

The group has led several successful marijuana advocacy efforts in Michigan, Montana and Arizona. The organization also works with state legislatures to improve medical marijuana laws.

“It’s really about time,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for MPP. “We just can’t wait any longer.”

Paul Finds Unlikely Support From Marijuana Advocates

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA :Among the top contributors to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign are the usual suspects — a financial management firm, a real estate developer, a manufacturer of hand tools.

But Paul also is getting significant support from an unlikely source for a conservative Republican — the marijuana industry.

The Marijuana Policy Project gave Paul’s campaign $5,000 — the legal limit that a political committee can give a candidate, according to campaign finance records.

The National Cannabis Industry Association gave $5,000. Its executive director and federal lobbyist added another $2,000, according to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan group that tracks campaign spending.

Big Marijuana Is Coming — And Even Legalization Supporters Are Worried

OHIO: Last month, Ohioans rejected a very unusual marijuana legalization proposal. Beyond legalizing pot, the ballot initiative would have given campaign donors direct rights to the state’s 10 pot farms as an explicit gift for their support. It was, even legalization advocates argued, a flagrant display of would-be members of the pot industry trying to cash in on a movement motivated primarily by social justice issues.

But while Ohio’s measure was rare in its blatant cash grab, some legalization backers are increasingly concerned that something like Ohio’s initiative will become standard — and the interests of the pot industry, which will grow more and more as legalization spreads, will take priority over the public’s best interests.

Dan Riffle, the former director of federal policy at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a legalization advocacy group, recently told me that these concerns pushed him to leave MPP. In a revealing interview, he said that “the industry is taking over the movement.”

Pro-Marijuana Group Rereleases Republicans’ Ratings Before Debate in Colorado

COLORADO: At a Republican presidential debate hosted in Colorado, one issue is destined to come up: pot.

Colorado’s experiment with legalized marijuana remains a hot topic as the next election approaches, and for many Republicans, the subject requires a balancing act between wanting to protect individual and state rights without seeming to condone people getting high.

In that spirit, the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group for the legal marijuana industry, has dusted off its scorecard of where the candidates stand on the issue.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is expected to get the most cheers from the legalization crowd, as he gets an A-minus grade from the group because of his calls to decriminalize recreational use and his desire for states to decide their own marijuana laws.

U.S. Marijuana Arrests Up Despite Changing Views: Pro-Pot Group

Despite an increasing number of Americans who do not view marijuana use as a crime, pot arrests across the United States increased last year for the first time since 2009, proponents of the drug’s legalization said on Monday.

Citing the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report released on Monday, the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project said 700,993 arrests were made for pot-related offenses during 2014, up from 693,058 the year before.

More than 88 percent of the marijuana arrests were for possession, and not for trafficking or other offenses, group spokesman Mason Tvert said in a statement.

“These numbers refute the myth that nobody actually gets arrested for using marijuana,” Tvert said. “It’s hard to imagine why more people were arrested for marijuana possession when fewer people than ever believe it should be a crime.”

Who’s Legalizing Marijuana In U.S.?

By Brianna Gurciullo, Karen Mawdsley and Katie Campbell, News21

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Advocacy groups have poured millions of dollars into legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana in states across the country.

One of the most powerful and influential groups — Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project – was behind successful recreational measures in Alaska and Colorado, two of four states that now allow recreational use. MPP organizers hope to replicate those efforts in five other states during the 2016 elections, an undertaking they say will — if successful — prove significant for the effort to end marijuana prohibition.

One of them, Arizona, is a state that conservative icon Barry Goldwater called home. It frequently makes national headlines for controversial measures on immigration and gay rights.

Voters passed the state’s medical marijuana program by the barest of margins in 2010.

Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers

The Marijuana Policy Project’s list of the Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers is intended to identify individuals who have used marijuana and achieved high levels of success or influence. It was created using the criteria employed by Out Magazine to produce its “Power 50” list of LGBT Americans, including “power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and a person’s media profile.”

To qualify for MPP’s list, individuals must (1) be alive, (2) be a U.S. citizen, and (3) have consumed marijuana at least once in their life according to either their own account or that of a legitimate source. They do not need to currently consume marijuana or support marijuana policy reform.

1. President Barack Obama

“When I was a kid, I inhaled. Frequently. That was the point.”

Source: NBC News

Photo: WhiteHouse.gov


2016hopefuls2. 2016 Presidential Hopefuls

At least eight of the 23 major-party presidential hopefuls have consumed marijuana, and only six say they have not. The other nine — Joe Biden, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb —  do not appear to have ever publicly said whether they have consumed marijuana.

Source: See below

Photos: Official government and campaign portraits


Former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL)

“I drank alcohol, and I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover. It was pretty common.”

Source: Boston Globe


Former Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI)

“In 1999, then-Warwick Mayor Lincoln D. Chafee won accolades for his honesty in acknowledging he used marijuana and cocaine as a 1970s student at Brown University.”

Source: Providence Journal


Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)

Cruz spokesperson: “When [Cruz] was a teenager, he foolishly experimented with marijuana. It was a mistake, and he’s never tried it since.”

Source: Daily Mail


Former Gov. George Pataki (NY)

“Mr. Pataki, in his first campaign for governor, admitted to the use of marijuana in his youth.”

Source: The New York Times


Sen. Rand Paul (KY)

“Let’s just say I wasn’t a choir boy when I was in college and that I can recognize that kids make mistakes, and I can say that I made mistakes when I was a kid.” [In response to a question about whether he ever consumed marijuana. Also, one of his college friends said, “Randy smoked pot.”]

Source: The Hill


Sen. Marco Rubio (FL)

“If I tell you that I haven’t, you won’t believe me. And if I tell you that I did, then kids will look up to me and say, ‘Well, I can smoke marijuana because look how he made it. He did alright so I guess I can do it too.’”

Source: Slate


Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT)

“I smoked marijuana twice — didn’t quite work for me. It’s not my thing, but it is the thing of a whole lot of people.”

Source: Yahoo News


Former Sen. Rick Santorum (PA)

“Well, yeah, I admitted you know, back when I was running for the Senate, that when I was in college that I smoked pot and that was something that I did when I was in college.”

Source: The Daily Caller


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