Lawmakers and advocates discuss cannabis legalization bill ahead of House vote

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and several other leading advocates for marijuana reform took part in a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss cannabis policy ahead of a planned House of Representatives vote on a comprehensive legalization bill.

The senator was joined by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Kassandra Frederique for the conversation, which was organized by The Appeal and NowThis.

The main topic at hand was the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, a bill that would federally deschedule cannabis and promote restorative justice. House leadership recently announced that the legislation would be getting a floor vote next week.

Watch the lawmakers and advocates discuss marijuana reform and the MORE Act below:

Booker is an original cosponsor of the Senate version of the legislation, which was introduced by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), now Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate. Blumenauer, meanwhile, is the architect of a step-by-step blueprint to federal legalization and a leading champion of marijuana reform in Congress.

“I am just really excited about this historic vote that’s about to happen on the MORE Act and really looking forward to seeing and hearing about the House’s momentum that I think could carry us into a Congress if we should take back control of the Senate in this election,” Booker said.

There have been some reports that Democratic support for holding a vote on the MORE Act at this time has waned somewhat, with certain members reportedly voicing concern that passing the bill amid the coronavirus pandemic could be bad optics. But so far there’s been no indication from leadership that the legislation is being pulled.

Blumenauer agreed that “the momentum is building” around marijuana reform in Congress and argued that it only serves to benefit lawmakers to get on board.

“Members of Congress who take a bolder stand are rewarded. Nobody’s losing an election over this. There’s blowback if they aren’t being heard,” he said. “The dawn has settled, and I think the momentum has swelled. I think we’re going to see not just a strong vote in the House, but I think there’s a chance that this is going to move through the Senate, with the leadership of Senator Booker.”

Pressley said that “the war on drugs has criminalized addiction and substance use disorders in a way that has devastated our communities.”

“The thing is this hurt, this harm, was not naturally occurring. These were policy choices,” she said. “For generations, we have had a first row seat to the firsthand grave consequences of this. Now we must be as precise in legislating healing and justice as those policies were inflicting hurt and harm.”

Democrats won’t be the only ones voting in favor of the reform, as three GOP members so far have gone on the record saying they will be “ayes” when it comes to the floor. The latest to say as much, Rep. Don Young (R-AK), said he’s “confident” it will pass the chamber.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the sole GOP cosponsor on the bill, said earlier this month that he would be voting “yes” on the MORE Act, though he expressed criticism about a provision that would impose a federal excise tax on marijuana sales to be reinvested in communities most impacted by the drug war, calling them “reparations.”

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) also said “I intend to vote yes on the bill” in a recent interview with Politico. “With respect to timing, I do find it ironic that the only small businesses the Democrats seem to be worried about is cannabis shops, but I would support this bill whenever it is brought to a vote,” he said.

McClintock, along with Gaetz, voted for the MORE Act when it was marked up by the Judiciary Committee last year.

If the House approves the bill, there will still be an open question about whether the Republican-controlled Senate would follow suit. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a strong advocate for hemp, but he’s maintained steadfast opposition to broader marijuana reform. That said, he did hold closed-door meetings with industry representatives last year.

McConnell’s office on Monday sent a press release highlighting some apparent Democratic discontent with plans to hold a vote on the MORE Act.

It’s possible the House action could spur the Senate to take up the STATES Act, however. That bipartisan bill is sponsored by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Gardner could use that legislative win as he trails behind former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in his reelection race. And to Gaetz’s point, President Trump has expressed support for the proposal.

The vote on the MORE Act will not be the first time the House has taken up cannabis reform on the floor this Congress.

The chamber approved a coronavirus relief package in May that includes provisions to protect banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators. It also approved the standalone Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act last year.

Last week, a House committee approved a bill designed to promote cannabis research, in part by allowing scientists to access marijuana from state-legal dispensaries.

Advocates were disappointed after lawmakers declined to include marijuana legalization as part of a recent policing reform bill the House passed. Several legislators made the case that it was an appropriate vehicle for the policy change, as ending cannabis criminalization would minimize police interactions.

Featured image by Craig At The Capitol/Shutterstock


This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.

The post Lawmakers and advocates discuss cannabis legalization bill ahead of House vote appeared first on Weedmaps News.

Thursday, January 16, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, January 16, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Congressional Hearing Exposes Marijuana Research Limitations Imposed By Federal Law (Marijuana Moment)

// New California-based marijuana strains drew a line around the block in Baltimore. Could more be coming (Baltimore Sun)

// Lawmakers Consider Ending Residency Requirement for Marijuana Workers (Denver Westword)


These headlines are brought to you by Green Worx Consults, a company specializing in project management, workflow mapping and design, and Lean & 6 Sigma process. If you could use help making your business better at business, get in touch with Green Worx Consults.


// Michigan pot shops sold $10 million worth of marijuana in first 6 weeks of legal weed (Detroit Free Press)

// Colorado Finally Files Bill to Protect Weed-Smoking Employees (Merry Jane)

// With a new CEO High Times looks to open dispensaries (Digiday)

// Vermont Governor Seems Open To Legalizing Marijuana Sales (Marijuana Moment)

// New Mexico Governor Calls For Marijuana Legalization In 2020 (Forbes)

// Curaleaf Upsizes Loan Facility To $300 Million Makes Progress in Utah (Green Market Report)

// 16% of cannabis vaping illnesses tied to store purchases CDC says (Marijuana Business Daily)


Check out our other projects:
Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement.
Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Reizigerin/Flickr

Friday, April 24, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, April 24, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// California offers marijuana firms tax-related help to cope with COVID-19 fallout (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Point-of-Sale Data Indicates Plummeting North American Marijuana Sales on 4/20 ‘Holiday’ (Nasdaq (Motley Fool))

// Congress considers allowing COVID-19 relief for cannabis companies (Leafly)


These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 165,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to Curaleaf.com to learn more about this very cool company!


// 24 Million Americans Will Spend Stimulus Check on Weed or Booze, Survey Says (Merry Jane)

// Marijuana Business Daily launches virtual event series for MJ execs (Marijuana Business Daily)

// DEA Marijuana Scheduling Lawsuit Will Be Appealed To Supreme Court Following Dismissal (Marijuana Moment)

// NFL Marijuana Policy Key Factor in Gronk Coming Out of Retirement (Heavy.com)

// New Jersey Voters Set To Approve Marijuana Legalization Referendum, Poll Shows (Marijuana Moment)

// Brazil approves first medical cannabis product under 2019 regulations (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Cannabis executives participate in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (Marijuana Business Daily)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Peter Kaminski/Flickr

Friday, April 24, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, April 24, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// California offers marijuana firms tax-related help to cope with COVID-19 fallout (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Point-of-Sale Data Indicates Plummeting North American Marijuana Sales on 4/20 ‘Holiday’ (Nasdaq (Motley Fool))

// Congress considers allowing COVID-19 relief for cannabis companies (Leafly)


These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 165,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to Curaleaf.com to learn more about this very cool company!


// 24 Million Americans Will Spend Stimulus Check on Weed or Booze, Survey Says (Merry Jane)

// Marijuana Business Daily launches virtual event series for MJ execs (Marijuana Business Daily)

// DEA Marijuana Scheduling Lawsuit Will Be Appealed To Supreme Court Following Dismissal (Marijuana Moment)

// NFL Marijuana Policy Key Factor in Gronk Coming Out of Retirement (Heavy.com)

// New Jersey Voters Set To Approve Marijuana Legalization Referendum, Poll Shows (Marijuana Moment)

// Brazil approves first medical cannabis product under 2019 regulations (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Cannabis executives participate in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (Marijuana Business Daily)


Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Peter Kaminski/Flickr

Senators Want Marijuana Businesses To Qualify For Federal Coronavirus Relief Programs

A coalition of 10 lawmakers sent a letter to the body’s leadership on Wednesday, asking that they include language in the next coronavirus stimulus package that would allow marijuana businesses to access federal relief dollars just as companies in other industries can.

Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) led the sign-on letter, which states that the cannabis industry deserves equal access to aid through two programs under the federal Small Business Administration (SBA): the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Access to this relief “will allow these small businesses to keep their workers on payroll and prevent further job losses that are devastating the economy,” the senators wrote. “The coronavirus crisis demands relief for all workers and businesses, no matter the sector.”

As it stands, SBA specifically prohibits marijuana businesses — as well as those that work “indirectly” with the industry, such as law and accounting firms — from receiving financial assistance amid the pandemic.

This letter comes days after a coalition of House members, led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), made a similar request to extend access to the cannabis sector in an upcoming COVID-19 relief bill.

The Senate passed its third phase of coronavirus legislation on Tuesday and, as was the case with prior rounds, cannabis businesses were left out. Advocates are now targeting an upcoming package.

“Workers at state-legal cannabis small businesses are no different from workers at any other small business—they show up to work every day, perform their duties, and most importantly, work to provide for their families,” the senators wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the new letter. “This lack of access to SBA assistance for cannabis small businesses will undoubtedly lead to unnecessary layoffs, reduced hours, pay cuts, and furloughs for the workers who need support the most.”

“The COVID-19 outbreak is no time to permit outdated federal policy to stand in the way of the reality that state-legal cannabis small businesses are sources of economic growth and financial stability for thousands of workers and families,” the letter, which was also signed by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Michale Bennet (D-CO), states.

Rosen led a separate letter earlier this month asking Appropriations Committee leaders to give marijuana companies SBA access in upcoming annual spending legislation. Eleven senators signed on to that.

“Given the nature of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that every American small business has the capacity to protect the health and economic wellbeing of their community and workforce,” she and colleagues wrote in the latest letter. “Therefore, we ask Senate Leadership to include in any future relief package provisions to allow state-legal cannabis small businesses and the small businesses who work with this industry to access the critical SBA support they need during these challenging and unprecedented times.”

In a letter to state treasurers that was delivered earlier this month, a coalition of marijuana industry associations urged the officials to pressure their congressional delegations to include SBA access for cannabis firms in future coronavirus legislation. They also want the states to explore providing separate loan and lending programs for the market.

Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) also asked leadership last week to make it so that business owners with prior convictions, including for simple marijuana possession, aren’t disqualified from SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) recently sent a letter asking a congressman from his state to take up the issue with his colleagues and ensure SBA access for the cannabis industry.

These requests demonstrate a growing desire to normalize the marijuana industry at the federal level. At the state level, cannabis businesses are already an established part of society, widely deemed essential services that can continue to operate during the pandemic.

Lawmakers are also making a different kind of COVID-related cannabis push concerning veterans access to marijuana. In a letter led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) last week, members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation urged the head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to allow its doctors to issue verbal recommendations for medical cannabis amid the pandemic.

Featured image by Kewei Hu/Shutterstock


This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.

The post Senators Want Marijuana Businesses To Qualify For Federal Coronavirus Relief Programs appeared first on Weedmaps News.

Thursday, January 16, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, January 16, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Congressional Hearing Exposes Marijuana Research Limitations Imposed By Federal Law (Marijuana Moment)

// New California-based marijuana strains drew a line around the block in Baltimore. Could more be coming (Baltimore Sun)

// Lawmakers Consider Ending Residency Requirement for Marijuana Workers (Denver Westword)


These headlines are brought to you by Green Worx Consults, a company specializing in project management, workflow mapping and design, and Lean & 6 Sigma process. If you could use help making your business better at business, get in touch with Green Worx Consults.


// Michigan pot shops sold $10 million worth of marijuana in first 6 weeks of legal weed (Detroit Free Press)

// Colorado Finally Files Bill to Protect Weed-Smoking Employees (Merry Jane)

// With a new CEO High Times looks to open dispensaries (Digiday)

// Vermont Governor Seems Open To Legalizing Marijuana Sales (Marijuana Moment)

// New Mexico Governor Calls For Marijuana Legalization In 2020 (Forbes)

// Curaleaf Upsizes Loan Facility To $300 Million Makes Progress in Utah (Green Market Report)

// 16% of cannabis vaping illnesses tied to store purchases CDC says (Marijuana Business Daily)


Check out our other projects:
Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement.
Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Reizigerin/Flickr