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Federal And State Officials Collaborate On Marijuana Standardization Proposals At National Conference




Vermont Democratic and Progressive lawmakers filed a new bill this week to decriminalize drug possession—a policy they hope will serve as a harm reduction tool that can also help to address racial disparities in enforcement.

Reps. Logan Nicoll (D) and Selene Colburn (P) introduced the legislation, which would make possession and distribution of low levels of currently illicit drugs punishable by a $50 fine, without the threat of jail time. People could have the fee waived by completing a health screening that would be facilitated through a new treatment referral system.

The bill would amend state statute on drug possession and distribution to make it so people would face the civil penalty if the amount of the drug in question is under a “benchmark personal use” threshold that would be determined by a new Drug Use Standards Advisory Board.

That board would be comprised of “experts in the fields of general and behavioral health care, substance use disorder treatment, and drug user communities,” according to the text of the bill.

The proposal would further remove criminal penalties for sharing small amounts of currently illicit drugs without compensation.

Already, 40 initial cosponsors have signed up to support the proposal—nearly one-third of the Vermont House. Colburn told Marijuana Moment in an interview on Tuesday that she wants to see the legislature engage with this issue in a way that lawmakers in other states have—like nearby Maine, where the House approved a decriminalization bill last year.

The legislator said that she’s been “talking with a lot of frontline folks, a lot of people with lived experience, and the vast majority of those folks will share that justice system involvement has been a hurdle and a barrier in their recovery, or even just their access to life saving medication or to harm reduction tools.”

“We try to be really clear in talking about this bill that that the vast majority of people who are drug users are not people who are struggling with substance use disorder,” Colburn said. “So this is definitely a civil liberties issue as well. But for folks who [do have substance misuse disorders], the the impacts of criminalization have caused, and continue to cause, so much harm.”

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

A recent report presented to the Vermont legislature by the Council of State Governments’s Justice Center also underscores the need for reform, the lawmaker said.

It found that black people are more than six times as likely to be incarcerated in Vermont compared to white people. They are also about three-to-four times more likely to be arrested over drug offenses despite comparable rates of use among races. In drug felony cases, black people were about 14 times more likely to be defendants than white people.

Dave Silberman, Addison County’s high bailiff and a pro bono drug reform advocate, told Marijuana Moment that the bill’s introduction with such a significant number of lawmakers signed on signals a shift in how elected officials are approaching drug issues.

“Whether or not this decriminalization bill passes, I think it’s really important that we are having a conversation in the legislature about decriminalization as a harm reduction tool and as a tool for reducing the racial disparities we see in policing and jails in Vermont, which are truly truly horrible,” he said.

“We just need to take a more holistically harm reductionist view of our drug problem in Vermont in order to save lives and keep people alive—and not jail them because the jail thing isn’t working,” Silberman said. “In fact, we see that when people go into jail with opioid use disorder, they come out of jail, they’re far more likely to die of an overdose than if they never went in to begin with.”

Colburn and Nicoll filed similar decriminalization legislation last year, but it did not advance. The hope is that, because there’s been broader, less partisan consensus that criminalizing people over drugs is the wrong approach, legislative leaders will agree to at least hold hearings on the reform proposal in the coming weeks.

Also this year, Colburn will be working to advance a separate bill to authorize overdose prevention sites in the state—a policy that advocates say would provide another critical harm reduction tool. And while she would like to see her broader decriminalization proposal enacted, the lawmaker also noted that there’s significant bipartisan interest in a separate reform measure to defelonize convictions for certain drug offenses by making them misdemeanors instead.

The new decriminalization bill also has the backing of the national Drug Policy Alliance, as well as other advocacy groups like the Vermont ACLU.

“Historically, substance use has been treated as a crime rather than a chronic disease, and Vermont’s laws have employed a traditional punitive criminal justice model that has shown to be a failure at improving public health and reducing criminality that is sometimes associated with substance use,” the findings section of the bill says.

“Pursuing a decriminalization model for personal use amounts of regulated drugs would allow Vermont to redirect money and resources from prosecution and incarceration toward prevention, harm reduction strategies, and treatment affording better outcomes for all Vermonters,” it says.

A separate bill to remove criminal penalties around plant- and fungi-based substances such as psilocybin, mescaline, ibogaine and DMT was also introduced last year by Rep. Brian Cina (P/D) and is still alive for the two-year legislative session.

Outside of Vermont, bills to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms and more widely reduce penalties for non-violent drug offenses have been pre-filed for the 2022 session in neighboring New Hampshire.

These States Could Legalize Marijuana Or Psychedelics In 2022

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Several state marijuana legalization initiatives could make November ballot




Around a half-dozen marijuana legalization referendums could reach state ballots in November, with advocates confident they can repeat the clean sweep of victories voters delivered two years ago.

“I would expect all the initiatives to win,” said Matt Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington DC.

Efforts are underway to place recreational marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballot in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

In Maryland, lawmakers are expected to approve legislation to place an adult-use measure on the ballot.

A map showing potential cannabis initiatives for 2022.

Adult-use legalization advocates in Florida are turning to 2024, after encountering several hurdles, including a state Supreme Court ruling that struck down proposed ballot language.

In Idaho and Florida, activists are seeking to place medical cannabis legalization referendums on the ballot.

Wyoming activists didn’t collect enough signatures before the ballot deadline, so they are now targeting 2024.

Clean sweep in 2020

Marijuana referendums swept to victory in 2020, with voters approving new recreational markets in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota as well as new medical programs in Mississippi and South Dakota.

State supreme courts, however, later overturned South Dakota’s recreational market and Mississippi’s medical program.

The 2020 ballot-box sweep reflected strong public support for legalization across the country – most notably in more conservative “red states.”

Two-thirds of Americans support adult-use marijuana legalization, according to polls, although the number is lower in many conservative states.

Schweich said he would expect a similar clean sweep in 2022 – for the referendums that can qualify for the ballot.

“I don’t think there’s any risky endeavors on this list,” he said. “If it were a recreational (referendum) in Utah – that would be risky.”

The biggest challenge is on the front end rather than at polling stations, advocates said.

“The challenge has been not only collecting signatures but being able to get into contact with enough people during a pandemic,” said Jax James, NORML’s state policy manager, who is closely tracking the initiatives nationwide.

Cannabis businesses can take an active role, she said.

“I encourage businesses to reach out to the campaigns to see if they can be a signing location,” she said.

Schweich said another challenge is funding the referendum drives.

“Some of these signature drives are expensive,” he said. “I think there is a false sense out there that these ballot initiatives are going to fund themselves.

“That’s not true at all.”

He said philanthropists are less inclined to donate to referendums these days because they see a now-large industry that has evolved over time.

Legal challenges

The other issue that has confronted the industry is legal challenges by anti-marijuana officials – sometimes after voters have cast their ballots.

State supreme courts shot down a medical cannabis referendum in Nebraska and a recreational measure in South Dakota, both based on an alleged violation of a single-subject rule.

Nebraska’s was killed before the 2020 election, but the lawsuit and the decision in South Dakota came after voters had approved the measure with a vote of 54%.

In Mississippi, the state Supreme Court voided a voter-approved medical marijuana measure based on an outdated congressional districting formula.

Schweich characterized the rulings in Nebraska and South Dakota as “deeply flawed.”

“We are acutely aware of what happened in Nebraska and South Dakota, so we’re more cautious than ever when it comes to drafting these initiatives.”

He said advocates were “very aware” of the single-subject rule before, “but we didn’t see these courts as bending over backwards to issue very political decisions to satiate their desire to deprive voters” of their say.

What really vexes Schweich is that the South Dakota Supreme Court didn’t issue its ruling until seven months after oral arguments – and well after the start of 2022 referendum drives.

With that decision so delayed, advocates launched an adult-use referendum they believed would be “bulletproof,” legalizing personal possession while falling short of calling for a regulated commercial market.

“It turns out that (based on the Supreme Court ruling) we could have run a more liberal referendum,” Schweich said.

Below is a snapshot of potential ballot measures, although South Dakota’s adult-use initiative isn’t noted because it doesn’t include a commercial market:

Recreational marijuana initiatives


Initiative: Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2022 (Arkansas True Grass)

Key details: The constitutional amendment calls for an unlimited license market.

The initiative calls for a three-year residency requirement.

Two types of licenses would be issued: one for cultivation, transport and sale; another for cultivation, processing, transport and sale.

An 8% state excise tax would be levied, along with a 5% local sales tax.

A second group, Responsible Growth Arkansas, said in November 2021 that it plans to have a signature drive for an adult-use legalization measure. The text of the initiative isn’t yet available.


Initiative: Not yet announced.

Key details: House Speaker Adrienne Jones said in July 2021 that she intends to pass a bill that refers recreational marijuana legalization to voters.


Initiative: Missouri Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative (Fair Access).

Key details: The constitutional amendment proposed by Fair Access would allow an unlimited number of recreational marijuana business licenses to be issued.

A 7.5% tax would be imposed on retail sales.

North Dakota

Possible initiatives: To Tax and Regulate Cannabis Like Alcohol and Tobacco (Legalize ND)

Key details: Legalize ND said in 2021 it would collect signatures for an initiative to legalize adult-use marijuana and establish a retail market.

The group’s website recently indicated the effort was on hold because of COVID-19.


Initiative: Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative (Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol)

Key details: The coalition last week submitted what it hopes are enough additional signatures to refer the initiative to the state Legislature for consideration.

Lawmakers would have four months to pass the measure as is.

If not, the coalition would need to collect another round of signature to get the referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot.

A state Cannabis Control Division would be created to regulate the industry and issue licenses. The referendum calls for a social equity and jobs program.


Initiatives: The Oklahoma Marijuana Regulation and Right to Use Act filed by the Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action (State Question 819), and the Adult-use Marijuana Regulation Act, backed by the Washington DC-based New Approach political action committee (State Question 820)

Key details: Both call for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to regulate an adult-use industry.

SQ 819 would enable MMJ dispensaries to begin to sell adult-use products 60 days after passage of the act.

Both referendums would impose a 15% excise tax on adult-use sales.

SQ 819 would be an amendment to the state’s Constitution and already has been challenged in court; SQ 820 would be a new law.

Medical marijuana initiatives


Initiative: Idaho Medical Marijuana Act of 2022. (Kind Idaho)

Key details: The Department of Health and Welfare would be required to issue rules within 120 days after the effective date of the act. Cities and counties would be allowed to impose “reasonable zoning ordinances” for medical marijuana facilities.


Initiative: Nebraska Medical Cannabis Regulation Act

Key details: A medical cannabis commission under the state Liquor Control Commission would regulate a commercial market. Regulators would begin issuing permits by Oct. 1, 2023.

Jeff Smith can be reached at

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Cannabis banking sponsor vows to ‘get that darn thing passed’ (Newsletter: January 18, 2022)




MS Senate passes medical marijuana; DE legal cannabis bill filed; New OH legalization signatures; MO GOP psychedelics bill

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The Mississippi Senate voted to legalize medical cannabis despite Gov. Tate Reeves’s (R) veto threat over patient possession limits he thinks are too high. The measure now heads to the House.

Marijuana Moment’s latest analysis looks at the large number of states that are poised to legalize cannabis—and potentially psychedelics—in 2022. Between ballot initiatives and bills in legislatures, advocates see a lot of targets for advancement this year.

Ohio activists say they are “confident” they’ve collected enough signatures to force lawmakers to consider a marijuana legalization measure.  An earlier submission was deemed insufficient but they’ve now turned in nearly 30,000 more signatures.

Delaware lawmakers introduced a newly revised marijuana legalization bill that includes key changes to equity provisions meant to help ensure it gets the supermajority level of support needed to pass.

A Missouri Republican representative filed a bill to allow patients with debilitating, life-threatening or terminal illnesses to use psychedelics like MDMA, DMT, ibogaine, LSD, mescaline, peyote and psilocybin under the state’s right-to-try law.


The U.S. Sentencing Commission published a report on recidivism by people released from prison after serving time for drug trafficking convictions.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) tweeted, “The criminalization of cannabis has resulted in discrimination and injustice. Moreover, it has destroyed countless Black and Brown lives. It’s long past time for the federal government to catch up and move our country forward by leading on cannabis reform.”

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) tweeted about a study showing cannabinoids can protect cells from COVID, saying, “As if we needed another reason to legalize it.”

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) spoke about growing Republican support for marijuana reform.

Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA) tweeted, “January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month. With cases of human trafficking linked to illegal marijuana cultivation sites rising in our community, it is critical we put an end to this modern-day slavery.”

Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Gillian Battino tweeted. “When I am in the Senate, I will fight to legalize recreational marijuana. We can invest tax revenues in communities torn apart by the war on drugs, farmers can diversify with sustainable practices, and patients will have the access they require.”

Texas Democratic congressional candidate Arthur DIxon tweeted, “Rich white business owners profit $100+ Billions Dollars from the cannabis industry every year while here in Texas thousands of black and brown kids get thrown into prison for possessing a few grams… We have to do better! It’s time to legalize marijuana! 🪴”

Kentucky Democratic congressional candidate William Compton tweeted, “One thing I would want to do in congress is make sure Marijuana is legalized nationwide. A majority of people support it! It’s a no brainer.”


Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam touted his signing a marijuana legalization bill in his final State of the Commonwealth speech,

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) pardoned more people for marijuana and drug convictions.

California’s attorney general continued to criticize local officials’ slowness to clear marijuana convictions as required by a law he authored.

South Carolina’s Senate majority leader said it’s “time to have the debate” on a long-pending medical cannabis bill, and the House minority leader said it should have been done a long time ago.

The chairman of the Louisiana legislature’s Medical Marijuana Commission said it’s time to expand the medical cannabis program “in every direction.”

Florida Democratic lawmakers held a press conference to promote marijuana legalization bills.

Kansas House Democrats tweeted, “Kansas is 1 of 4 states where marijuana remains fully illegal. It’s 2021. This is unacceptable.”

A Missouri Republican representative discussed plans to file a marijuana legalization bill.

Maine regulators proposed medical cannabis rules changes.

New York regulators proposed emergency hemp rules.

Nevada regulators are conducting a survey to collect demographic data on the cannabis industry.

Illinois officials are hiring reviewers for grant applications for the marijuana revenue-funded  Restore, Reinvest, and Renew grant program.

Pennsylvania regulators tweeted about eggs from hemp-fed chickens, saying, “Eating hemp eggs will not get you high, but you will be filled with a healthier egg.”

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.


Denver, Colorado officials sent guidance on marijuana hospitality and unlicensed consumption businesses.


Costa Rican lawmakers sent President Carlos Alvarado a medical cannabis and hemp bill.

Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said his government will introduce a medical cannabis bill ahead of the next election.

The French Assembly debated a marijuana legalization bill.

UK members of Parliament sent a letter asking London’s mayor to rescind a plan to reduce marijuana arrests.


A study concluded that “consumers are interested in and are using [medical cannabis products] for dermatologic indications, most commonly for inflammatory skin disorders.”

A study demonstrated that “treatment with three infusions of ketamine was well tolerated in patients with alcohol use disorder and was associated with more days of abstinence from alcohol at 6-month follow-up.”


The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s senior vice president for public policy joined the board of the Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation.

Supernova Women organized a rally at the California Capitol calling for tax and regulatory relief for marijuana businesses.


Eaze opened its first dispensary storefronts.

Vangst completed a $19 million Series B funding round.

Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. completed an organizational restructuring.

Canopy Growth USA is being sued over claims that its website violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by being inaccessible to visually impaired and blind customers.

Leafly has a new senior vice president of engineering.


Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert joked about a study showing cannabinoids can protect cells from COVID,

The Onion joked about rising COVID vaccine appointments in Quebec, Canada after officials made the shots mandatory to access marijuana and liquor stores.

Make sure to subscribe to get Marijuana Moment’s daily dispatch in your inbox.

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis/Side Pocket Images.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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Kansas Medical Marijuana Hearings Cancelled After Senate GOP Leader Reroutes House-Passed Bill




A top federal drug official says the “train has left the station” on psychedelics.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Nora Volkow said people are going to keep using substances such as psilocybin—especially as the reform movement expands and there’s increased attention being drawn to the potential therapeutic benefits—and so researchers and regulators will need to keep up.

The comments came at a psychedelics workshop Volkow’s agency cohosted with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) last week.

The NIDA official said that, to an extent, it’s been overwhelming to address new drug trends in the psychedelics space. But at the same time, she sees “an incredible opportunity to also modify the way that we are doing things.”

“What is it that the [National Institutes of Health] can do to help accelerate research in this field so that we can truly understand what are the potentials, and ultimately the application, of interventions that are bought based on psychedelic drugs?” Volkow said.

The director separately told Marijuana Moment on Friday in an emailed statement that part of the challenge for the agency and researchers is the fact that psychedelics are strictly prohibited as Schedule I drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

“Researchers must obtain a Schedule I registration which, unlike obtaining registrations for Schedule II substances (which include fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine), is administratively challenging and time consuming,” she said. “This process may deter some scientists from conducting research on Schedule I drugs.”

“In response to concerns from researchers, NIDA is involved in interagency discussions to facilitate research on Schedule I substances,” Volkow said, adding that the agency is “pleased” the Drug Enforcement Administration recently announced plans to significantly increase the quota of certain psychedelic drugs to be produced for use in research.

“It will also be important to streamline the process of obtaining Schedule I registrations to further the science on these substances, including examining their therapeutic potential,” she said.

At Thursday’s event, the official talked about how recent, federally funded surveys showed that fewer college-aged adults are drinking alcohol and are instead opting for psychedelics and marijuana. She discussed the findings in an earlier interview with Marijuana Moment as well.

Don’t miss out on the @NIDAnews, @NIAAAnews, & @NIMHgov-sponsored virtual Workshop on Psychedelics as Therapeutics: Gaps, Challenges, and Opportunities, Jan. 12‒13, 2022. Learn more and register:

— NIDAnews (@NIDAnews) January 10, 2022

“Let’s learn from history,” she said. “Let’s see what we have learned from the marijuana experience.”

While studies have found that marijuana use among young people has generally remained stable or decreased amid the legalization movement, there has been an increase in cannabis consumption among adults, she said. And “this is likely to happen [with psychedelics] as more and more attention is placed on these psychedelic drugs.”

“I think, to a certain extent, with all the attention that the psychedelic drugs have attracted, the train has left the station and that people are going to start to use it,” Volkow said. “People are going to start to use it whether [the Food and Drug Administration] approves or not.

There are numerous states and localities where psychedelics reform is being explored and pursued both legislatively and through ballot initiative processes.

On Wednesday—during the first part of the two-day federal event that saw nearly 4,000 registrants across 21 time zones—NIMH Director Joshua Gordon stressed that his agency has “been supporting research on psychedelics for some time.”

Tune in today and tomorrow for the @NIH workshop on Psychedelics as Therapeutics, which will examine findings on psychoplastogens for treating depression, post-traumatic stress, and substance and alcohol use disorders.

— Joshua A. Gordon (@NIMHDirector) January 12, 2022

“We can think of NIMH’s interests in studying psychedelics both in terms of proving that they work and also in terms of demonstrating the mechanism by which they work,” he said. “NIMH has a range of different funding opportunity announcements and other expressions that are priorities aimed at a mechanistic focus and mechanistic approach to drug development.”

Meanwhile, Volkow also made connections between psychedelics and the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. She said, for example, that survey data showing increased use of psychedelics “may be a way that people are using to try to escape” the situation.

But she also drew a metaphor, saying that just as how the pandemic “forced” federal health officials to accelerate the development and approval of COVID-19 vaccines because of the “urgency of the situation,” one could argue that “actually there is an urgency to bring treatments [such as emerging psychedelic medicines] for people that are suffering from severe mental illness which can be devastating.”

But as Volkow has pointed out, the Schedule I classification of these substances under federal law inhibits such research and development.

The official has also repeatedly highlighted and criticized the racial disparities in drug criminalization enforcement overall.

Delaware Lawmakers File New Marijuana Legalization Bill With Key Equity Revisions

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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