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Ohio Marijuana Activists Turn In More Signatures For Legalization Initiative After Temporary Setback

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Advocates scored a significant number of marijuana reform victories in state legislatures in 2021, but they’re hopeful they can get even more accomplished in the new year.

In states across the country, activists are already in the process of qualifying cannabis legalization and other drug policy reform measures for November 2022 ballots as lawmakers separately work to advance reform bills.

“I am optimistic 2022 will break the record for the most cannabis legalization laws enacted in a single year—a record that was set just last year,” Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment. “Several states also appear poised to enact compassionate medical cannabis laws.”

And the reform movement is poised to make gains beyond just cannabis this year, with several proposals to legalize or decriminalize psychedelics and other drugs also gaining momentum.

Here’s a rundown of which states are most likely to enact broad cannabis or psychedelics reform in 2022: 

Arkansas

There are three campaigns working to give voters a say in whether Arkansas should legalize marijuana in 2022.

The most recent one to throw their hat in the ring was Arkansans for Marijuana Reform, which filed their reform initiative with the state in November.

Also last year, a former Arkansas lawmaker announced a campaign that also intends to put cannabis legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot. Eddie Armstrong, a Democrat who previously served as minority leader in the state House of Representatives before leaving office in 2019, is chairing the newly formed advocacy group Responsible Growth Arkansas.

A separate group of activists with Arkansas True Grass is already in the signature gathering process for a 2022 ballot initiative that would create a system of regulated sales for adults 21 and older, allowing them to purchase up to four ounces of cannabis and grow up to 12 plants for personal use.

Both True Grass and Arkansans for Marijuana Reform attempted to place marijuana legalization initiatives on the 2020 ballot, but both campaigns were derailed by the coronavirus pandemic and failed to collect enough signatures by the deadline.

California

There are two potential routes to legalizing psychedelics possession in California: a legislative approach being spearheaded by Sen. Scott Wiener (D) and a ballot campaign to place the issue of psilocybin legalization before voters in November.

The senator put a pause on that proposal last year after it cleared the Senate and started to advance through the Assembly, and he’s used the extra time to build up support for the reform and ensure that it’s something that could pass the full legislature.

Wiener recently told Marijuana Moment that he feels there’s a “50/50” chance that his psychedelics reform bill will advance this session.

Meanwhile, California activists are separately pursuing psychedelics reform at the ballot, with Decriminalize California collecting signatures for a 2022 initiative to legalize psilocybin mushrooms in the state.

Colorado

Colorado voters could have the chance next year to vote on legalizing possession and personal cultivation of psychedelics, and creating a system of licensed businesses to produce psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine and mescaline for supervised use at “healing centers.”

A national advocacy group recently filed two separate psychedelics reform initiatives for Colorado’s 2022 ballot, both of which are titled the Natural Medicine Healing Act.

The first would legalize the possession, cultivation and an array of entheogenic substances, as well as establish a regulatory model for psychedelics therapy. The other is a similar, but somewhat more dialed-back proposal that would initially legalize psilocybin and psilocin alone for personal adult use while also allowing for their sale and administration in a therapeutic setting.

This filing comes more than two years after Denver became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. Various activists, including those involved in the 2019 campaign, have signaled interest in building upon the reform.

Delaware

A legislative effort to legalize marijuana for adult use in Delaware died for the 2021 session following disagreements among lawmakers over social equity funding. But that effort could be revived in the new year, with national advocates listing the state as a top target to enact legalization next.

Rep. Edward Osienski (D) said he’s spent the past few months revising his proposal to build more support and secure a vote, and he recently filed a new version of the bill.

Gov. John Carney (D) is another obstacle, however, calling legalization a “bad idea” last year as the reform push was underway. He’s also declined to say what he would do if legislators put a marijuana commerce bill on his desk.

Hawaii

A Hawaii bill to legalize recreational marijuana that cleared the Senate last year is still alive for the 2022 session, and it’s possible that the legislature will move to take it up again.

House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Nakashima (D) is largely responsible for the bill not being enacted last year, as he said he thinks the state should focus on improving its existing medical cannabis system before advancing adult-use legalization and declined to take action on the Senate-approved proposal. Gov. David Ige (D), who has also opposed certain cannabis reforms in the past, is another potential obstacle to passage.

But, because legalization has already cleared one full chamber of the legislature, the state is one to watch in 2022.

Idaho

In Idaho, activists with one campaign are moving forward with plans to put medical cannabis legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot, while another set of advocates have decided to suspend a campaign to legalize possession due to complications resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

While the Personal Adult Marijuana Decriminalization Act (PAMDA) was cleared by Idaho officials for signature gathering in July, campaign spokesperson Russ Belville of Legalize the Idaho Way, Inc. told Marijuana Moment that “navigating a ballot initiative through a second wave of COVID has been trying, especially [for] a new type of marijuana initiative that simply depenalizes import of legal out-of-state purchases.”

“Therefore, in the interest of public safety, we’ve decided to suspend our active ballot initiative campaign for PAMDA,” he said. “However, we are continuing the concept of PAMDA in negotiations with Idaho legislators and political leaders with the goal of a bill for the next legislative session. Should our legislative efforts run aground and this pandemic eventually subside, we’ll resume a PAMDA ballot initiative campaign for 2024.”

A separate campaign, Kind Idaho, remains in the process of collecting signatures for a medical marijuana legalization initiative. A representative recently told Marijuana Moment that they have gathered about 10 percent of the required signatures to make the ballot and face an April 29 deadline to collect about 54,000 more signatures.

If things don’t work out for the campaign in 2022, activists will be looking ahead to future election cycles if the November election “doesn’t present us with the legislators necessary to move it forward through the legislative process,” Kind Idaho’s Joe Evans said.

“Mind you, we aren’t giving up the ghost on getting the initiative on the ballot this year,” he said. “It can still be done with the right combination of funding and volunteer support.”

Kansas

A medical cannabis bill that passed the House last year is still alive and poised for action in the Senate in 2022.

Kansas Democratic leaders want to go further, however, and recently announced new proposals to let voters decide on legalizing medical and adult-use marijuana in the state.

“It’s time to give voters their opportunity to have their say and let the legislature know how they feel,” House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (D) said this month. If approved in the legislature and then by voters in November, the laws would take effect in July 2023.

Gov. Laura Kelly (D), for her part, supports medical cannabis. She previously pushed a separate proposal that would legalize medical cannabis and use the resulting revenue to support Medicaid expansion.

Kentucky

A Republican-led bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky landed in the state legislature this month. The measure is an update to lead sponsor Rep. Jason Nemes’s (R) past legalization efforts and includes a number of conservative-minded adjustments aimed at wining broad support among lawmakers, including leaders of his own party who control the legislative agenda.

Nemes filed a medical legalization bill in 2020 that soundly passed the House but later died in the Senate without a vote amid the early part of the coronavirus pandemic. He reintroduced the legislation for the 2021 session, but it did not advance. In recent months, Nemes has working to build support for a new, scaled-back version of the bill for 2022 and in October said he was confident it could pass if only legislative leaders have the “courage” to allow a vote on it.

Gov. Andy Beshear (D) supports medical cannabis, and Democratic leaders in the legislature said the issue would be a top priority for this year.

Maryland

Late last month, a top Maryland lawmaker pre-filed a bill to put marijuana legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot.

The legislation, which seeks to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, has been designated House Bill 1, signaling that it will be prioritized.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D) has been working to get the legislature in a good position to advance the reform quickly, announcing the formation of a cannabis workgroup last summer and stating that lawmakers “will pass legislation early” in 2022 to refer the question of legalization to voters.

Senate President Bill Ferguson (D), meanwhile, said in July that the reform is “beyond past due” in the state— but he seemed reluctant to embrace a referendum process and instead wants to pass a bill to end cannabis prohibition sooner than next November.

Michigan

There are efforts underway in Michigan to get statewide psychedelics and marijuana reform enacted this year, both legislatively and through the ballot.

Several Michigan cities have passed resolutions to decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics in the past couple years—most recently in Grand Rapids and Detroit. Building on those reforms, a pair of state senators introduced a bill in September to legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of various plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin (D), would amend state statute to exempt people from criminal penalties for such activities so long as they are not “receiving money or other valuable consideration for the entheogenic plant or fungus.”

As such, commercial production and sales would not be legalized under the measure. The legislation does clarify, however, that people can charge a “reasonable fee for counseling, spiritual guidance, or a related service that is provided in conjunction with the use of an entheogenic plant or fungus under the guidance and supervision of an individual providing the service.”

But the most likely route to broad reform might be through the ballot, with activists are planning to introduce a separate statewide psychedelics reform initiative that they hope to place before voters this November.

Minnesota

The year 2021 saw a bill to legalize marijuana in Minnesota move through a dozen House committees and then get approval by the full chamber, but it subsequently stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate. Lawmakers are ready to take up the reform fight again in 2022.

While the House-passed measure is still alive for 2022 in the two-year session, it’s unclear if new Senate leadership will be more amenable to advancing a policy change than prior leaders were.

Gov. Tim Walz (D), who signed legislation in May to allow patients to access smokable cannabis products, previously called on lawmakers to pursue adult-use legalization as a means to boost the economy and promote racial justice. In 2019 he directed state agencies to prepare to implement reform in anticipation of legalization eventually passing.

Mississippi

Mississippi lawmakers are moving ahead with a proposal to legalize medical cannabis in the state, though they’ve faced some resistance about certain provisions by Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

The main objection from the governor concerns the daily purchase limits for patients, which he says are too high. He’s signaled that he would veto the bill if the purchase limit isn’t reduced, but a key state senator suggested last month that they would have the votes to override that action if it’s taken.

But Sen. Brice Wiggins (R), chairman of the Judiciary Committee Division A who is also running for a seat in Congress, says the people of Mississippi spoke loud and clear when they voted to approve a medical cannabis legalization initiative last year, and lawmakers have a duty to deliver on the reform after the state Supreme Court invalidated it for procedural reasons.

Lawmakers have already made several concessions to the governor as they’ve continued negotiations on legislation to replace the voter-approved ballot measure, and advocates hoped everything would be resolved in time for Reeves to convene a special session to pass it this year, as he suggested he’d do. But as the goal post continued to be pushed back, it became clear that legislators would need to tackle the reform in the 2022 session.

House and Senate leaders announced in September that they had come to an agreement on the reform, yet the governor came back with several objections, forcing legislators to go back and make some compromises. Even after they did that, Reeves held firm on what leadership says are “unreasonable demands.”

The Senate has already approved the new bill, just days into the new session, and now it heads to the House.

Missouri

There are currently two separate campaigns working to get legalization initiatives on the Missouri’s 2022 ballot, in addition to legislative proposals to enact the reform.

Legal Missouri 2022 kicked off its campaign last month, with plans to deploy hundreds of signature gatherers at major cities throughout the state.

“We are pushing full steam ahead with both paid and volunteer signature collection efforts and look forward to Missourians voting on adult use legalization this fall,” campaign manager John Payne told Marijuana Moment. He added they’ve hired a signature gathering firm that they worked

Payne previously worked with the group New Approach Missouri to successfully get a medical cannabis initiative passed by voters in 2018.

A separate campaign, Fair Access Missouri, is separately exploring multiple citizen initiatives with the hopes of getting at least one on the ballot this year. Three of the four would create a system of legalized cannabis sales for adults 21 and older, while another would simply amend the state’s existing medical marijuana program.

Meanwhile, Rep. Shamed Dogan (R) recently filed a joint resolution to place a constitutional amendment on marijuana legalization on the 2022 ballot. He introduced a similar proposal last year, but it did not advance.

There are some advocates who want to see the legislature take the lead on establishing a regulated marijuana market, but others remain skeptical that will actually happen in the state’s GOP-controlled House and Senate.

Nebraska

Nebraska activists are fed up with the GOP-controlled legislature blocking efforts to enact marijuana reform, and so they’re making another push to put medical cannabis legalization on the 2022 ballot.

Advocates unveiled the language of a pair of initiatives that, together, would protect qualified patients from legal consequences for cannabis and regulate businesses that produce, distribute and sell marijuana products to those patients.

Each of the ballot measures will need 87,000 signatures of support from registered voters by July to qualify for the 2022 ballot.

“We are confident we will get the signatures to qualify for the ballot because we have successfully done this before, during a pandemic,” Sen. Anna Wishart (D) told Marijuana Moment, referring to a 2020 campaign when Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana qualified its prior cannabis measure for the ballot—only to be thwarted by the state Supreme Court.

“We collected close to 200,000 signatures in 2020, well over the necessary 122,000, only to be kicked off the ballot by the Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision,” she said. “We learned from the Supreme Court challenge and brought language this time that we believe will withstand any opposition.”

Wishart said that polling conducted two years ago showed that more than 70 percent of voters across political lines back the policy change.

“I know how strongly this is supported because I drove across the state to collect signatures in 2020 to some of the most rural areas of the country and I was met with support,” the senator said. “I collected signatures of cowboys and cowgirls, for example, at a cattle sale.”

“What this will mean for the state is that Nebraskans will be treated like patients and no longer like criminals,” she said. “This is an issue about medical freedom and human dignity and it is long overdue that we join the rest of the country in legalizing medical cannabis.”

New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s House of Representatives kicked off the 2022 session by approving a bill to legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 and older. It now heads to the Senate, where cannabis reforms have had a tougher time advancing in the past.

But there are other pending proposals from lawmakers to enact broad legalization, including three to place constitutional amendments on the ballot for voters to decide on the reform in November.

It would take a supermajority 60 percent vote in both chambers to advance any of the proposed constitutional amendments. But while that may be a tall task in the GOP-controlled legislature, if they’re successful, it would enable lawmakers to avoid a likely veto on statutory reform legislation from anti-legalization Gov. Chris Sununu (R).

Should legislators approve placing a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis on the ballot, 67 percent of voters would then have to vote in favor for it to be enacted. Recent polling indicates that residents are ready for the reform, with three in four New Hampshirites favoring legalization.

North Carolina

A proposal to legalize medical cannabis in North Carolina advanced through three Senate committees last year, and advocates are optimistic that the reform could be taken up again in the new year.

Under the proposal, patients would be allowed to access cannabis if they have a “debilitating medical condition” such as cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Patients could possess up to one and a half ounces of marijuana, but home cultivation would not be permitted.

North Carolina’s House majority whip said last month that he’s in favor of the reform but has not done a vote count to see how much support it has in his chamber.

A majority of North Carolina adults support legalizing marijuana for recreational use—and three in four say it should be legal for medical purposes—according to a poll released last year.

North Dakota

Marijuana legalization could come to North Dakota either through an act of the legislature or the ballot this year.

The state House approved a reform bill to put legalization on the ballot in 2022 last year, but the full Senate rejected it.

Meanwhile, advocates with two separate campaigns are pushing for separate legalization referendums.

David Owen, chairman of Legalize ND, told Marijuana Moment that the group is “still working with stakeholders and partners to determine the best pathway forward but are confident that news will come soon.”

“We are determined to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota but are still exploring options for what the best path is especially given the SD Supreme Court decision,” he said, referring to a state Supreme Court ruling late last year in neighboring South Dakota that determined a voter-approved marijuana legalization initiative was invalid on procedural grounds.

Another group called the North Dakota Cannabis Caucus has separately working to put marijuana reform on the ballot.

There’s a chance the group could get enough signatures under the state’s timeline to put the reform on the June primary ballot, but Dustin Peyer, the chief petitioner, told Marijuana Moment it’s “not likely.” Instead, the probable plan is to turn in signatures by July to get on the November ballot.

Peyer said the group is “currently looking to build a new petition that will take less signatures and change the medical program directly.”

“Ultimately the constitutional right to grow cannabis on private property is our goal and this petition will continue forward,” he said. “We have a growing base of local business support that we are very grateful for. However, the current monopolized market created by a super majority of prohibitionist Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike is leading to many issues in the program.”

Ohio

Activists and lawmakers in Ohio are hoping to get reform enacted in 2022.

Last month, Ohio advocates submitted to the state what they said were enough signatures for an initiative to force lawmakers to take up the issue of legalization. But the secretary of state’s office said this month that there weren’t enough valid signatures, so the campaign collected more and turned in the new submissions this week.

The measure that legislators would be required to consider would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and they could also have up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals could grow up to six plants for personal use, with a maximum 12 plants per household.

Separately, a legalization bill that was the first of its kind to be introduced in the Ohio legislature last year would legalize the possession, sale and cultivation of cannabis by adults. It’s being championed by Reps. Casey Weinstein (D) and Terrence Upchurch (D).

A pair of Ohio Republican lawmakers similarly filed a bill to legalize marijuana in the state in December. Reps. Jamie Callender (R) and Ron Ferguson (R) first announced their plan to push the legislative reform proposal in October and circulated a co-sponsorship memo to build support for the measure.

There are also additional local reform efforts underway in Ohio for 2022.

After voters in seven cities approved ballot measures to decriminalize marijuana possession during last November’s election—which builds on a slew of previous local reforms in the state—campaigns are now looking to enact decriminalization in Marietta, Rushville, Rutland, Shawnee, McArthur and Laurelville.

Ohio marijuana activists already successfully proved that they turned in enough valid signatures to put a local decriminalization initiative before Kent voters after having missed the 2021 ballot due to a verification error on the part of county officials.

“It is the local [decriminalization initiatives] that have pushed the state to act,” Don Keeney of NORML Appalachia of Ohio told Marijuana Moment. “We are looking forward to adding as many local municipalities as time permits. We are gearing up for another good run at it. Solid change starts at the local grassroots level.”

Oklahoma

There are currently two campaigns working to put marijuana legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot, as well as a separate initiative to rework Oklahoma’s existing medical cannabis program.

The latest campaign is being supported by the national New Approach PAC, which has been behind a number of successful state-level reform initiatives. A separate group of local activists, Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, also filed initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana and remodel the state’s medical cannabis program in October.

Oklahoma activists had previously attempted to qualify a legalization measure for the 2020 ballot. They filed a petition to legalize cannabis for adult use in December 2019, but signature gathering fell short due in part to procedural delays and the coronavirus pandemic.

Rhode Island

A deal on a marijuana legalization bill in Rhode Island appears imminent, with key lawmakers recently saying the legislation should be introduced in the coming days following months of negotiations between the House, Senate and governor’s office.

The Senate already approved legalization legislation last year.

Many issues have been resolved over the course of negotiations, but the question of who should be in charge of regulating the program—an existing agency or a newly created body—has been a sticking point.

“The House and Senate intend to soon have a draft of legislation ready, which will serve as a framework to begin a robust public hearing process,” House Speaker Joseph Sherkarchi (D) said. “We may not be the first state to legalize marijuana, but our goal is to do it in a way that is best for all of Rhode Islanders.”

South Carolina

South Carolina lawmakers are positioned to advance a medical marijuana legalization bill that’s being championed by Sen. Tom Davis (R).

The senator told WMBF News this month that he’s “optimistic about this bill being approved by both chambers of the legislature and sent to Governor McMaster before we adjourn in May.”

“I’ve done a pretty good canvassing of my colleagues in the state Senate,” he said. “I’m confident that I have a majority of senators in favor of this bill.”

Davis previously said that he’s received assurances from a top Senate leader that his measure will be taken up as the first order of business at the beginning of this year.

The senator said that he “had hoped it would be debated and voted on before we adjourned in May” after clearing the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in March. But that didn’t pan out after another lawmaker placed a hold on the legislation.

The senator’s legislation as filed last year would allow patients with qualifying conditions to possess and purchase up to two ounces of cannabis every two weeks.

South Dakota

In a setback for activists late last year, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that a voter-approved 2020 marijuana legalization initiative was invalid on procedural grounds. But advocates are now pursuing a two-track plan to enact the reform this year.

In the legislature, a cannabis reform bill has been formally recommended by a leadership panel for the upcoming session. Activists with South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) will also continue collecting signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative—though they hope to work with lawmakers to advance reform legislatively ahead of this year’s election.

A Marijuana Interim Study Committee made the formal recommendation for the legislature to take up legalization following a series of hearings. The recommendation was agreed to late last year by the legislature’s Executive Board, which is led by the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore.

Voters also approved a separate statutory medical cannabis ballot measure in 2020, and that wasn’t challenged in the courts and took effect in July.

Washington, D.C.

Lawmakers and advocates in Washington, D.C. are ready and eager to proceed with legalizing marijuana sales as soon as a congressional appropriations rider is lifted.

For years, the District has been prohibited from using its local tax dollars to enact the reform despite voters approving an initiative to legalize possession, personal cultivation and gifting in 2014. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a spending package that removes that rider, despite the Biden administration proposing to keep it in its own budget request, and now advocates are waiting to see whether the policy is ultimately stripped in the final bill for fiscal year 2022.

Local lawmakers held a joint hearing in November on a pair of bills to authorize the legal sale of recreational marijuana and significantly expand the existing medical cannabis program in the nation’s capital.

One bill sponsored by Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) would “require a regulatory scheme to license the cultivation, production, and retail sale of cannabis in the District.”

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), who represents the District in Congress, said in November that she is “closer than ever” to removing the blockade on cannabis commerce in her district.

Meanwhile, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said in April that local officials are prepared to move forward with implementing a legal system of recreational marijuana sales in the nation’s capital just as soon as they can get over the final “hurdle” of congressional interference.

Washington State

Activists are preparing to introduce a ballot initiative to broadly decriminalize drugs in 2022, similar to what neighboring Oregon voters passed in 2020.

Christina Blocker of Commit to Change WA told Marijuana Moment that the campaign is “energized by the support that we have received across the state of Washington,” adding that “2022 is the year where we will have the opportunity to end the War on Drugs and its impacts on our families, our neighbors, and our communities.”

The group was formerly known as Treatment First WA and, in 2020, attempted to qualify a decriminalization measure for that year’s state ballot. That initiative would have made unlawful possession of any drug a civil infraction, referred people found with drugs to a services assessment and funded a massive expansion of outreach and recovery programs.

When the pandemic interrupted the signature gathering effort for that measure, organizers shifted their focus to the legislature. After months of delay, a bill that was largely based on the earlier initiative was introduced but eventually died after clearing one House committee.

State lawmakers did reduce Washington’s criminal penalty for drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor last year, but that was in response to the state Supreme Court invalidating the state’s decades-old felony law, which temporarily left no valid law on the books against simple possession.

While more progressive Democrats urged against reinstating criminal penalties of ay kind, the legislature ultimately adopted the misdemeanor charge along with plans to create a statewide suite of treatment and recovery services. The law, widely seen by advocates as a half-step toward meaningful reform, took effect in May with Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) signature.

Separately, a pair of state lawmakers recently introduced legislation that would legalize what the bill calls “supported psilocybin experiences” by adults 21 and older.

Wyoming

Wyoming activists recently said that they’ve made solid progress in collecting signatures for a pair of ballot initiatives to decriminalize marijuana possession and legalize medical cannabis, but they didn’t get enough to make the 2022 ballot deadline and will be aiming for 2024 while simultaneously pushing the legislature to advance reform even sooner.

Weather conditions, the ongoing pandemic and late approval for their petitions by state officials made the prospect of putting legalization and decriminalization before voters this year especially challenging.

Now, in addition to continuing to collect signatures for a 2024 initiative, activists will be pushing lawmakers to file new bills that contain the language of the ballot measures.

A bill to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use in Wyoming advanced out of a House committee in March, but it did not move further in the legislature by the end of the session.

Activists say the stage is set for an active year for drug policy reform.

While it’s unclear how many of these bills and ballot proposals will ultimately advance and become enacted, there’s a sense of optimism that the reform movement will expand rapidly in 2022. And advocates are pleased to see the range of policy reforms that are being pursued.

“As we look ahead to 2022, we have many opportunities to expand America’s access to medical cannabis and regulated cannabis markets,” Jax James, who was recently hired as NORML’s state policy director, told Marijuana Moment. “NORML is tracking hundreds of bills that have already been filed as well as ballot initiatives across the country. We look forward to another year of important reforms passing in many states.”

“No matter what state you reside in, registering to vote, engaging in the primary election, the political convention cycle and the general election are integral to further advancement,” she said.

Polls Funded By Marijuana Prohibitionist Group Show Big Support For Legalization Policies It Lobbies Against

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After One Year As President, Biden’s Marijuana Promises Remain Unfulfilled

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Thursday marks the end of President Joe Biden’s first year in office—and, by and large, his campaign promises on marijuana policy have so far gone unfilled. And while certain federal agencies have taken some positive reform steps, the administration managed to stir controversy over some outwardly hostile actions with respect to cannabis policy.

Contrary to Biden’s campaign pledges, cannabis has not been federally decriminalized, people remain in federal prison over non-violent marijuana offenses and the plant has yet to be rescheduled under the Controlled Substances Act. Of the cannabis promises that Biden made while running for president, just one has been met so far: the government has continued to let states implement marijuana reform mostly without federal intervention, though ongoing lack of clarity from the administration has caused continuing complications for the industry and consumers.

In one of the more notable positive developments to come out of the Oval Office, however, Biden did sign an infrastructure bill last year that contains language meant to help promote marijuana research.

While there were numerous successes on the reform front in 2021 those mostly came at the state level, and advocates feel disappointed by the overall White House inaction—especially considering that it was promised to voters ahead of the 2020 election.

It’s not just that there were no meaningful reform actions in Biden’s first year, either. It’s that some of the few actions he did take on marijuana—proposing in his budget to keep blocking Washington, D.C. from legalizing cannabis sales and punishing White House staff who were honest about past marijuana use—were setbacks in the movement.

Biden himself hasn’t made a substantive public comment about cannabis policy since entering the Oval Office, beside making a quick, dismissive comment to a reporter who asked about clemency for current prisoners. Vice President Kamala Harris, for her part, said last year that the Biden administration isn’t focused on following through on its marijuana reform pledges because it’s too overwhelmed with responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Biden Administration’s failure to live up to campaign statements and, in the case of including a rider preventing D.C. from regulating cannabis in his budget proposal, even backsliding on cannabis is extremely disappointing,” Morgan Fox, the newly installed political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “This inaction on modest cannabis policy reforms over the past year is inexcusable and is a betrayal of the people that put the president in office.”

“The president has an opportunity with cannabis to show initiative and leadership on an issue that enjoys broad bipartisan support,” he said. “Continued inaction on this issue will have negative consequences for his party this year and in 2024.”

Here’s a rundown of what has happened with marijuana and broader drug policy under the Biden administration in its first year: 

Promise Made, Promises Not Kept

When he was running for president, Biden frustrated advocates by declining to embrace broad marijuana legalization like most of his Democratic primary opponents did at the time. But they were at least encouraged that he voiced support for more modest reforms like federal decriminalization, legalizing medical cannabis, rescheduling and expungements.

“We should decriminalize marijuana,” he said during a town hall event in October 2020, adding, “I don’t believe anybody should be going to jail for drug use.”

He reiterated the pledge in numerous interviews, debates and tweets, as well as in a campaign ad.

But despite having the authority to unilaterally issue a mass pardon for people with federal cannabis convictions—as advocates and lawmakers have repeatedly pressed him to do—Biden has only ceremonially pardoned turkeys around Thanksgiving since taking office.

Following that ceremony, The New York Post’s Steven Nelson pressed the president on cannabis clemency, asking him if there were plans to pardon “any people in addition to turkeys.” Biden jokingly replied, “you need a pardon?” and didn’t respond to a follow-up question about marijuana prisoners.

The White House has been asked about the issue several times now, but while Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently said that the president has “every intention of using his clemency power” and is “looking at” relief for non-violent drug offenders, no meaningful action has been taken.

While on the campaign trail, Biden also came out in favor of moving marijuana from Schedule I to II under the federal Controlled Substances Act—an incremental move that wouldn’t legalize the plant but could make it easier for researchers to study its risks and benefits.

Psaki said in April that Biden’s clemency promise for people with federal marijuana convictions and said that process would start with modestly rescheduling cannabis. But even if rescheduling could help people with cannabis records (experts say it would not), the administration has so far taken no real steps to accomplish that reform.

While experts say it may not be possible for a president to unilaterally remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, he could encourage agencies like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Justice Department to initiate the rescheduling process.

The lack of clemency action is especially disappointing to advocates who have been lobbying the White House to do something on this issue.

Biden has received about a dozen letters from lawmakers, advocates, celebrities and people impacted by criminalization to do something about the people who remain behind federal bars over cannabis. After months of inaction, some members of Congress like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have even sent follow-up letters demanding a response.

A recently published Congressional Research Service (CRS) report affirmed that the president has it within his power to grant mass pardons for cannabis offenses. It also said that the administration can move to federally legalize cannabis without waiting for lawmakers to act.

To his credit, Biden has so far kept his campaign pledge to continue to let states legalize and regulate marijuana without federal intervention. But advocates had hoped that he would at least push for the reinstatement of Obama-era Justice Department guidance to prosecutors that generally urged them not to interfere with state laws but which President Donald Trump’s first attorney general rescinded.

Without that guidance or any other concrete reform steps, banking challenges and risks remain in the cannabis industry, marijuana businesses are unable to receive tax credits like other legal industries and other hardships resulting from the federal-state policy conflict remain intact for consumers and patients. In effect, Biden has maintained the status quo of uncertainty that has been in place during the Trump administration and last half of the Obama administration.

Reform Setbacks

Early in 2021, the Biden administration came under fire after it was reported that it had terminated or otherwise punished dozens of staffers who admitted to prior marijuana use as part of their background check process.

Psaki previously attempted to minimize the fallout, without much success, and her office also stressed that nobody was fired for “marijuana usage from years ago,” nor has anyone been terminated “due to casual or infrequent use during the prior 12 months.”  However, she’s consistently declined to speak to the extent to which staff have been suspended or placed in a remote work program because they were honest about their history with marijuana on the federal background check form.

As part of his fiscal year 2022 budget proposal, Biden included a rider that would continue to block Washington, D.C. from using its own tax dollars to legalize adult-use marijuana sales, declining to recommend that existing language barring such activity be eliminated. Democratic lawmakers have moved forward with removing that rider anyways

After receiving a letter from a congresswoman concerning executive discretion for cannabis consumers, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said it is required to continue denying federally assisted housing to people who use marijuana, even if they’re acting in compliance with state law.

The federal government has generally taken a hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement in states that have chosen to legalize the plant, but it was reported late last year that a federal agency raided a small, home cannabis garden of a medical cannabis patient living on Indian territory in New Mexico. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) raid occurred in September.

Biden’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said last year that it continues to oppose a bill that would require it to conduct clinical trials into the therapeutic potential of marijuana for military veterans. A House committee advanced the legislation in any case. A VA representative told lawmakers that the department is “already dedicating resources and research expertise to study the effects of cannabis on conditions affecting veterans.”

“President Biden has made little progress in supporting drug reform laws at the federal level and in some instances, has even taken us further back,” Maritza Perez, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment.

On broader drug issues, she added that the administration backed a broad scheduling policy for fentanyl-related substances that “will have a devastating impact on the criminal legal system and set a horrific precedent for drug scheduling moving forward.”

“Moreover, President Biden has failed to embrace marijuana legalization even though he claims to support decriminalization of the substance,” Perez said. “As long as marijuana remains on the CSA, people will continue to be policed, arrested, and imprisoned for marijuana activity. This is deeply problematic particularly because this president made bold promises around criminal justice reform and racial justice for which he has not delivered.”

Federal Actions On Marijuana

There were some positive developments in drug policy reform that came out of federal agencies and the White House last year.

Biden signed a massive infrastructure bill in November that includes provisions aimed at allowing researchers to study the actual marijuana that consumers are purchasing from state-legal dispensaries instead of having to use only government-grown cannabis. The legislation also encourages states that have enacted legalization laws to educate people about impaired driving.

In his 2022 budget, Biden proposed continuing a spending bill provision that’s been annually renewed by Congress since 2014 to prevent the use of Justice Department funds to interfere in state medical cannabis programs. That was the first time a president has moved to keep that rider.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) under Biden has also moved on several occasions to greatly increase legal production quotas for illegal Schedule I drugs like psilocybin, MDMA and DMT.

And several years after first announcing that it would take steps to break the federal marijuana manufacturing monopoly for research, it has finally issued new licenses outside of the University of Mississippi.

Meanwhile, DEA has given hemp businesses that sell delta-8 THC products a boost, with representatives making comments recently signaling that, at the federal level at least, it’s not a controlled substance at this time.

Employment policies related to marijuana have also been shifting within federal agencies under Biden, despite the controversy of his administration’s cannabis-related firings.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said in a memo distributed to agencies last year that admitting to past marijuana use should not automatically disqualify people from being employed in the federal government.

More recently, the director of national intelligence (DNI) said federal employers shouldn’t outright reject security clearance applicants over past use and should use discretion when it comes to those with cannabis investments in their stock portfolios.

FBI quietly updated its hiring policies last year to make it so candidates are only automatically disqualified from joining the agency if they admit to having used marijuana within one year of applying. However, it later revised the policy again to add a stipulation that applicants are ineligible if they’ve used cannabis more than 24 times after turning 18.

In September, The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) proposed a change to the federal drug scheduling system that it hopes will streamline research into Schedule I controlled substances including marijuana and psychedelics such as psilocybin. DEA and NIDA later said that they supports the plan.

While the Biden administration has yet to take a position on policy proposals to authorize safe consumption facilities and a related court challenge against them that are carried over from the Trump administration, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) put out a pair of requests for applications last month for an effort that will provide funding for efforts to investigate how that and other harm reduction policies could help address the drug crisis.

After requesting permission from the White House to conduct the survey of about 20,000 hemp farmers, The U.S.Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service announced in August that the forms are being finalized to be filled out via mail or online.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meanwhile, still hasn’t gotten around to issuing regulations for hemp-derived cannabidiol products, but it announced last year that it plans to use Reddit and other “novel” data sources to gain a better understanding of public health issues surrounding use of CBD and other “emerging” cannabis derivatives like delta-8 THC.

Federal, state and local officials convened for a national conference this month where members discussed and advanced proposals to establish standards for marijuana products that could later be formally adopted into a federal handbook overseen by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

While Biden hasn’t granted mass clemency for people with marijuana convictions, his administration did take a first step toward granting presidential relief to hundreds of people on home confinement for federal drug convictions last year, with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) asking eligible individuals to get the process started by filing out clemency applications.

Biden Nominees On Drug Policy

Several of Biden’s pick to lead key agencies have unique drug policy backgrounds. And some of those choices who’ve since been confirmed have been applauded by advocates.

Activists initially weren’t sure what to make of Attorney General Merrick Garland when he was nominated because of his limited record, but they were relieved during his confirmation proceedings to hear that he wasn’t preparing a crackdown on legal cannabis states.

While he’s yet to reinstitute the Obama era guidance offering some level of protection for states that have legalized, he has said on several occasions that DOJ resources shouldn’t be spent going after people operating in compliance with state cannabis laws.

He also hasn’t acted on calls from lawmakers to use his own authority to swiftly end federal cannabis prohibition.

ONDCP Director Rahul Gupta worked as a consultant to Holistic Industries, a multi-state cannabis operator, for nine months in 2020. Prior to his confirmation, Gupta had already caught the attention of reform advocates given his record overseeing the implementation of West Virginia’s medical marijuana program as state health commissioner and chair of a key advisory board. He’s also publicly recognized both the therapeutic and economic potential of cannabis reform.

It was another relief to advocates that the president didn’t pick former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), a cofounder of anti-legalization organization Smart Approaches To Marijuana (SAM), for the drug czar job, even after he personally lobbied for the nomination.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta (no relation to Rahul) was also repeatedly pressed on her drug policy views during her confirmation process, particularly where she stands on broad decriminalization. Advocates expressed frustration that she denied having endorsed decriminalization during the hearings despite having done so in past roles at reform organizations.

Former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was picked to lead HHS, and it was welcome news for advocates because he has a considerable record supporting cannabis reform and working to protect California’s legal program from federal interference.

For example, Becerra was one of 21 state attorneys general who sent a letter to congressional leaders in 2019 expressing support for a bipartisan bill to protect state-legal cannabis programs against federal intervention.

In October, Becerra also signaled that the administration would not block the establishment safe injection sites where people could use illicit drugs in a medically supervised environment as a means of curtailing the overdose epidemic—but it will ultimately be up to the Justice Department to follow through.

As California’s attorney general, Becerra joined counterparts from other states in signing onto an amicus brief supporting a group’s case to set up a harm reduction center. After making supportive remarks about the facilities as HHS secretary, however, a department spokesperson clarified that “HHS does not have a position on supervised consumption sites.”

Biden’s nominee for FDA commissioner has acknowledged the potential medical benefits of marijuana. Robert Califf, who previously served a short stint as the FDA head under the Obama administration, also said that he actually prescribed a cannabinoid drug as a doctor. He’s yet to be confirmed, however.

Tom Vilsack, Biden’s nominee to run USDA who has since been confirmed, gave final approval to a federal rule laying out regulations for the hemp industry in March 2021. He’s widely considered an ally of the hemp industry.

The head of DEA who Biden selected previously described a New Jersey medical marijuana bill as “workable” while serving at the state’s attorney general. Although the former top state prosecutor, Anne Milgram, doesn’t appear to have publicly detailed her personal views on cannabis reform, the limited comments she made over a decade ago signal that, at the very least, she’s open to allowing states to enact their own marijuana policies despite federal prohibition.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently said that that freeing up banks to work with state-legal marijuana businesses would “of course” make the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) job of collecting taxes easier. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) said this month that he’s confident that Biden would support his cannabis banking bill if it arrived on his desk in part because of the conversations he’s had with Yellen about the issue.

Adewale Adeyemo, who Biden picked for the role of Treasury deputy secretary, said in February 2021 that he would look into the possibility of updating 2014 Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) guidance on marijuana banking.

Isabel Guzman, who was picked and confirmed to lead the federal Small Business Administration (SBA), told senators last year that she would examine marijuana businesses’ inability to receive aid that is available to companies in other industries. She also promised last year to “explore” ways the agency could change its policy on prohibiting people with certain criminal convictions—including over marijuana—from accessing federal business loans and other services.

It’s also worth noting that the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Nora Volkow, has repeatedly made comments on the need for a drug decriminalization model while Biden has been in office, though her tenure predates this presidency.

What To Expect From Biden In 2022

Advocates aren’t necessarily holding their breath for a 2022 marijuana reform push from the White House, but they certainly plan to continue to put pressure on the Biden administration in the new year and see opportunities for at least incremental reform.

With respect to federal agencies and their various heads, it seems the infrastructure is in place to continue to advance incremental policy changes that are less punitive and more science-centered with respect to cannabis, psychedelics and broader drug reform.

Toi Hutchinson, former senior advisor on cannabis to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and current CEO and president of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment that it is unfortunate that states have so far lacked “guidance or participation from the federal government” on the cannabis reform front.

“States are left to develop and impose their own testing, health and safety rules. Banks are afraid of violating criminal law by serving licensed operators,” she said. “Individuals in one state compete for state licenses to produce and sell cannabis on an industrial scale, where they face arrest, prosecution, and jail in a neighboring state to even possess a single gram of the same substance.”

“Democrats, including President Biden when he was on the campaign trail, have been clear in their support for cannabis reform, and voters listened,” she said. “Whether it’s full legalization in 2022, or simply the ability for cannabis businesses to get a bank or get tax relief, we expect to see cannabis reform because that is exactly what we were told.”

New York Will Generate More Than $1.25 Billion In Marijuana Revenue Over Next Six Years, Governor’s Budget Estimates

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2022 brings new markets, opportunities for California marijuana firms

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More than a dozen California cities are opening new recreational cannabis licensing opportunities this year, either by embracing the legal marijuana industry for the first time or by increasing the number of available business permits.

Several other cities, meanwhile, are laying the groundwork for new markets down the road by drafting and/or developing cannabis ordinances.

The rollout of new adult-use markets and business opportunities come as cities across the state are eager to bring in additional tax revenue after the pandemic and other factors depleted public coffers.

The ongoing shift is a welcome sign for the state’s struggling marijuana sector, which remains forbidden in the vast majority of California cities and, at the same time, must compete against a thriving illicit market.

Map showing where California cities are looking to expand marijuana markets“Expanding doors is critical if we expect the legal cannabis market to survive,” said Harry Kazazian, chair and CEO of 22Red, a marijuana brand based in Pasadena.

“Communities that shut out legal retail stores will be serviced by the underground market.”

According to Hirsh Jain, founder of Los Angeles-based cannabis consultancy Ananda Strategy, only 115 of the state’s 482 cities, or roughly 24%, have a licensed dispensary open today.

But that is starting to change.

Retail expansion across the state

The retail expansion is far and wide, from urban centers in San Diego and San Jose to small towns such as Madera in the Central Valley and Oxnard along the Southern California coast.

Madera, about 25 miles north of Fresno, is issuing its first eight retail licenses, including two designated for social equity applicants.

The agricultural town, which hadn’t disclosed application timelines as of press time, also is offering unlimited permits for vertically integrated operators, an emerging shift among city and county governments in California.

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Hemet, a midsized town in Riverside County that’s struggled to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-09, has foregone licensing caps altogether and is instead relying on zoning allowances to dictate the number of retail outlets.

“This represents cities moving away from this limited-license framework,” Jain said.

Elliot Lewis, CEO of Long Beach-based Catalyst Cannabis Co., welcomes the competition.

In October, the retailer was approved for a storefront in neighboring East Hemet, in unincorporated Riverside County.

“Without good, legal, safe access, the industry is drowning,” said Lewis, who expects to open the location in March. “It needs retail outlets.”

National City, bordering San Diego to the south, approved several licenses in November.

Applicants in National City may apply for retail, cultivation, distribution, manufacturing and transportation permits, ushering in a new era of commercial activity.

Retail applicants are required to operate at least one other marijuana business on the property, according to the ordinance, and must limit the retail portion to no more than 40% of square footage.

National City plans to start accepting applications this quarter, with a few notable caveats: Officials plan to favor local ownership, and at least one of the six licenses will be set aside for a consumption lounge operator.

Second thoughts

San Diego, an underserved market considering its large population, is among several California cities with established commercial cannabis programs looking to expand.

The state’s second-largest city, with nearly 1.4 million residents, appears poised to lift several of its zoning restrictions, including narrowing a 1,000-foot buffer between marijuana businesses and parks, libraries, places of worship and playgrounds.

The constraints, critics contend, are a major reason why the city has opened only 25 dispensaries, despite approving 36 in 2014.

If those restrictions are eased, which could come within the next month or so, retail licenses could expand nearly 40%, according to The San Diego Union Tribune.

Those municipalities looking to expand existing programs also include the Silicon Valley hub of San Jose.

The Northern California city of a million residents has only 16 dispensaries.

The San Jose City Council is weighing a policy overhaul to boost retail and delivery locations to 42 while eliminating several zoning restrictions and easing others.

The tech mecca is also looking to create new business opportunities for social equity applicants.

Tracy, about 55 miles northeast of San Jose, plans to issue seven retail permits for a total of 11 after its City Council approved an expansion in November.

Only 10 applicants have advanced to the final-review stage, however, with four on the verge of approval.

The process has been lengthy. Tracy hasn’t accepted applications since October 2020 but stated on its website it might consider reopening an application window in “late 2022 or early 2023.”

Merced started accepting applications Jan. 10 for an additional storefront license, bringing the Central Valley town’s total to five.

The deadline to apply is Jan. 31.

Hanford, about 35 miles south of Fresno, is adding one retail location.

According to the city’s website, the cap of two stores and two non-storefront retailers has been met.

The city also is accepting applications for cultivation, manufacturing, lab testing, distribution and micro-business permits – all uncapped – on a continuous basis.

Oxnard, located along the coast in Ventura County, issued six additional retail licenses last year with three dedicated to local equity applicants.

The agricultural town – perhaps best known for hosting the Dallas Cowboys’ summer training camp, which draws thousands of fans every year – is expected to have 16 dispensaries open by year’s end.

Looking ahead, several other cities are in the process of drafting and/or developing cannabis ordinances, including Monterey, Riverside, Lodi, Delano and Visalia.

Numbers don’t add up

The lack of retail outlets, particularly compared to the number of licensed cultivators, has depressed California’s marijuana economy, according to Tom Adams, CEO and principal analyst of L.A. research firm, Global Go Analytics.

“The struggles the California legal cannabis market is undergoing, particularly the meltdown in wholesale flower prices in 2021, is largely due to the fact that local jurisdictions have licensed 10 times as many cultivation operations as retail storefronts – some 7,500 versus about 750,” he said.

Most agricultural products (think almonds or oranges) have the opposite ratio, in which retailers outnumber suppliers by a wide margin.

“Certainly, the number of cultivators is going to shrink from attrition,” Adams said, “but hopefully all these local moves to allow more storefronts also balance out the supply chain in a positive direction.”

Chris Casacchia can be reached at ccasacchia@hotmail.com.

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MS House approves medical cannabis bill (Newsletter: January 20, 2022)

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Bipartisan lawmakers push DEA on medical psychedelic access; Austin puts marijuana decrim on ballot; KS psilocybin bill; FBI cannabis license scrutiny

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A bipartisan group of members of Congress led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) sent a letter demanding that the Drug Enforcement Administration allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution.



Louisiana Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Chambers smoked a marijuana blunt in a new campaign ad that focuses on the harms of criminalization. He says he’ll back cannabis expungements and banking bills if elected to Congress.



The Austin, Texas City Council passed an ordinance referring a marijuana decriminalization proposal to the May ballot. Advocates had wanted lawmakers to adopt the measure on their own, but are confident it’ll be approved by voters.



A Kansas representative filed a bill to legalize possession and home cultivation of psilocybin.



Newly surfaced testimony suggests Federal Bureau of Investigation scrutiny of Missouri’s medical marijuana licensing process may be ongoing, with a businessman saying he talked about the governor, a mayor and other officials with federal agents.



/ FEDERAL



The Department of Defense Consolidated Adjudications Facility is taking a more aggressive stance in some adjudications of marijuana-related security clearance denials.



The U.S. attorney for Vermont said there are “potential matters involving marijuana that we would potentially consider prosecuting” but “as a general matter, that is not an area that’s on the top of our priority list.”



Staff for Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) defended his purchase of stock in Tilray, Inc. just days before the House voted to approve a federal marijuana legalization bill.



Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) tweeted, “[email protected] gets it. Glad to have my fellow #Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair as a cosponsor of my bipartisan #HOPEAct. By redressing the consequences of the War on Drugs and reigniting the American Dream, this important bill gives Congress the chance to #passprogress.”



Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) congratulated a Massachusetts cannabis regulator on her anniversary of taking the job.



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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed legislation to decriminalize syringes and otherwise expand access to syringe access programs.



Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said a medical cannabis bill is getting “better” with each revision that comes out. Meanwhile, the agriculture and commerce commissioner said he is taking steps to prepare for his department’s role in implementing a medical marijuana law if one is enacted.



New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) spoke about the job-creating and tax revenue-generating potential of the legal cannabis industry in her State of the State speech.



Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried, currently the agriculture commissioner, tweeted, “As governor, I’ll legalize marijuana.”



The Maine legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will consider bills on marijuana home delivery, edibles production and plant tracking on Wednesday.



A black Delaware representative who removed his name from a marijuana legalization bill last year after social equity provisions were stripped out says a new version of the legislation addresses his concerns and is ​​”the best one, the most complete bill that I’ve seen.”



Pennsylvania regulators readopted medical cannabis regulations.



Michigan’s top marijuana regulator said he thinks “we’re reaching a period of stabilization in the market.”



The Iowa Department of Human Rights’s Justice Advisory Board noted racial disparities in marijuana enforcement and said it will monitor legalization outcomes in other states.



A Massachusetts marijuana regulator authored an op-ed arguing for a crackdown on impaired driving.



Oklahoma regulators delayed the launch of a new medical cannabis licensing portal.



Arizona officials are accepting grant applications for funding for marijuana research.



Florida’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday.





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The DeKalb County, Georgia Commission considered a proposal to end pre-employment drug screening for marijuana, but it was blocked from advancing.



Birmingham, Alabama’s mayor reacted to criticism of his local reform advocacy from a former lawmaker by tweeting, “I will not be lectured on the rights and wrongs of pardoning people for marijuana possession by Former State Sen. Phil Williams whose major ‘accomplishments’ include voting to lower unemployment benefits, protect racist monuments, and build more prisons.”



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Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration is reportedly planning to propose removing marijuana from the list of controlled drugs on Wednesday.



The Bahamian minister of agriculture, marine resources and Family Island affairs said the Family Islands would be an ideal location to grow the cannabis industry.



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A study concluded that “medicinal cannabis may increase [quality of life] for advanced [cholangiocarcinoma] patients.”



A study’s results “support potential synergy between psychedelics and meditation.”



/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS



The Pima County, Arizona Democratic Party called a Louisiana Democratic Senate candidate’s advertisement in which he smokes marijuana on camera an “important campaign ad.”



/ BUSINESS



MedMen’s former CEO spoke about his departure from the company in his first interview since leaving.



Columbia Care Inc. has a new CFO.



A New York judge began a hearing on whether a lawsuit against Acreage Holdings and other defendants over a disputed medical cannabis license can proceed.



Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he and Mel Brooks were “both born 69 days after 4/20.”



/ CULTURE



Wiz Khalifa is partnering with Cresco Labs on a distribution deal for his Khalifa Kush cannabis brand in California.

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