House Members Explore Federal Action
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 Vol. 6, No. 45  -- July 12, 2019 --   Edited by Dr. Lloyd Covens, DBA
House Testimony Sets Tone for Possible Federal MJ Fixes
 The July  10th hearing before a House Judiciary sub-committee (Crime, Terrorism & Homeland Security) heard a chorus of support for ending federal prohibition against cannabis, even while hearing divergent views of how best to get there.  Above, Baltimore state's attorney Marilyn Mosby asked the committee members to consider a federal decrim plan so that she would face less pushback from local law enforement.  Beginning last January, Mosby determined her office would stop prosecuting low-level  MJ possession, but was met with resistance from local cops.   “The test of time has provided us with ample data that there is little public safety value related to the current enforcement of marijuana laws,” Mosby said in her testimony. “The data indicates that the disparate enforcement of marijuana laws and overall drug laws not only intensifies already existing racial disparities in the criminal justice system, but exacerbates distrust among communities and law enforcement without increasing overall public safety.”  

Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told the committee, “The use of marijuana should be viewed instead as an issue of personal choice and public health,”  and he is exploring a national bill which may offer cannabis some relief from federal illegality.   

Dr. Malik Burnett, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health physician,  testified that “the state of cannabis policy today is best described as a tale of two Americas...In one America there are men and women--most of them wealthy, white and well connected-- who are starting cannabis companies, creating jobs and amassing significant personal wealth, and generating billions in tax dollars for the states which sanction cannabis programs.   In the other America, there are men and women, most of them poor, people of color, who are arrested and suffer the collateral consequences associated with criminal conviction," Malik stated.   Other witnesses testified in favor of the STATES act (which protects state-legal programs from any federal interference), while others said that STATES did not address the need to also include pathways to social justice mitigation stemming from the harsh impact on persons of color in communities  targeted by the 'War on Drugs.'  One leading federal plan, authored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) combines a federal decriminalization with specific expungement processes for low level drug offenders.

Coinciding with the hearing,  the American Civil Liberties Union said it will help spearhead a coalition to address federal law changes to deal with social justice issues and the prosecution of poor people and marijuana.  Other coalition members joining ACLU will be  Human Rights Watch, The Immigrants Legal Resource Center, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Center for American Progress. "For the first time in a generation, members of Congress engaged in a candid conversation that acknowledged the failures of marijuana prohibition in the United States, how this policy has adversely impacted tens of millions of Americans, and how it must be reformed at the federal level,"  said NORML's political director Justin Strekel. 
On June 25, 2019, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) issued a  letter urging Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless to take action by addressing the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the regulation of hemp-derived CBD. Specifically, Senator Wyden requested that FDA issue guidance announcing a formal enforcement discretion policy by August 1, 2019 and, pending publication of a permanent final rule, issue an interim final rule that ensures a regulatory pathway for lawful use of CBD as a food additive and as a dietary ingredient in dietary supplements.
Billionaire entertainer/music producer Jay-Z--aka Mr Beyoncé Knowles--is becoming the "Chief Brand Strategist for California MJ retailer, Caliva.    Beyond creation of original MJ products, Shawn Carter(above) will also be involved with social justice advancement, working with recently jailed offenders, and other communities impacted by the "War on Drugs."  "Caliva's expertise and ethos makes them the best partner...we want to create something amazing, have fun in the process, do good things and bring people along the way," said Jay-Z.  With product sold through 250 Calie MMJ retailers, Caliva raised $75Mil earlier this year to expand operations.  Some of that new investment came from Hall-of-Fame quarterback Joe Montana, who bought a stake through the Liquid 2 Ventures fund.  Both Caliva and Jay-Z are expected to visit the NCIA national cannabis show, which runs June 22-24 in San Jose.
CANNABIS NewsBriefs...

Hawaii's governor David Ige  split the difference this week,  allowing a cannabis decriminalization bill to become law, even while he vetoed a second bill to effectively stop a new commercial industrial hemp program.  While currently a misdeamenor,  starting Jan., 2020, the possession of up to three grams of cannabis will become a minor infraction, with a maximum fine of $130, and no negative criminal record.  The governor, no friend of cannabis reform, let the bill become law without his signature, thereby making Hawaii the 26th state to decrim, following by weeks a similar move to decrim in North Dakota.  The Hawaii bill also supports quick expungement procedures for removing prior criminal records for amounts also under three grams.

Ohio-based Green Growth Brands continues its aggressive expansion plans, this time acquiring Moxie, a major California  grower and product maker.  In an all-stock, $310Mil. deal, Green Growth gains access through Moxie to more than 500 Calie retailers, with major shelf-space for its innovative extracts.  Also in the deal are manufacturing and distribution  assets which Moxie holds in Pennsylvania, Nevada and pending for Michigan.

Medical software designer and data aggregator VALIDCARE has rolled out its first version of "CBD+me," a consumer-fed information system to track all aspects of CBD user outcomes.  Working with CBD and cannabis product makers, CBD+me will open the door for collecting massive databases which could ultimately be (anonymously) shared with regulators, policy-makers and healthcare providers.  The company said its goal included "aggregating reliable CBD+me processes to help consumers and cannabis -based businesses advance the science and safety of  CBD products, and to improve the well-being  of CBD consumers through reliable and robust data collection.

New research findings, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs
, concluded that many RMJ customers are purchasing in their legal states to self-medicate, and cope with personal conditions like anxiety/stress, sleep issues and mild to moderate pain.  Researchers said that the  "de facto medical use of cannabis for symptom relief was common among adult-use dispensary customers and the majority reported that cannabis decreased their medication use." The authors of the study cited other studies that found access to medical cannabis typically requires a doctor's referral, and registration in a state database, which become barriers for people who lack health insurance or worry that cannabis use-- even with doctor's permission-- could cause employment problems.   They concluded some people who might qualify for medical marijuana are choosing to simply purchase from adult use dispensaries, if they have the option.   In many states--Colorado, Nevada and Oregon, the number of medical cards fell dramatically as RMJ became available.  "This study helps dispel an important myth that cannabis is largely used for recreational purposes," wrote Dr. Stephen Dahmer, chief medical officer for New York-based Vireo Health, Inc., which operates MMJ dispensaries. "Instead, it demonstrates what we know to be true -- most Americans use cannabis to address a wide array of health and wellness issues. One of the many advantages of adult-use markets is that they offer consumers safe access to cannabis to help alleviate non-debilitating and life-threatening medical conditions," said Dahmer.

Link-of-the-Week--  Just six months ago industry leaders were laughing at the idea of see consumer sales of CBD breaking out at gas stations and mini-marts.  But now the massive rollout of CBD to major chains and retailers has moved Denver Westword MJ editor Thomas Mitchell to ask, "How Far Should We Let CBD Go?"  Get his answer at

Hawaii Guv Decrim Yes, Hemp No
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