Republican Congressman Reintroduces Bill To Move Cannabis to Schedule III

As many advocates are pushing for decriminalization and completely descheduling cannabis at the federal level, one Republican congressman is pushing to simply downgrade cannabis from schedule I to schedule III, which would allow for research to move forward at a faster pace and provide several other perks.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Florida) reintroduced a bill as H.R. 610 or the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act on Jan. 27, about four years after filing a similar bill previously, along with seven other bills, according to a press release

The bill would direct the Attorney General of the United States to amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to move cannabis from schedule I to schedule III of the Act—within 60 days of the bill’s enactment.

The bill doesn’t go as far as others that would end the federal prohibition of cannabis via decriminalization or other routes. However, the bill would protect federal employees who consume cannabis, as only Schedule I or II substances are prohibited. It would also free cannabis businesses affected by Tax Code 280E, and make research a lot more feasible.

Rep. Steube filed a similar bill on Sept. 12, 2019, the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act of 2019, which would also downgrade cannabis from schedule 1 to allow for more possibilities in research.

“As marijuana is legalized for medical and recreational use across the United States, it is important that we study the effects of the substance and the potential impacts it can have on various populations,” Congressman Steube said in 2019. “By rescheduling marijuana from a schedule I controlled substance to a schedule III controlled substance, the opportunities for research and study are drastically expanded. With this rescheduling, researchers can now access federal funds to research this substance and determine its medical value.”

The congressman acknowledged that research on cannabis is currently hampered under current conditions.

“We hear every day about the positive health benefits of marijuana. Whether it’s young children with seizure disorders, or veterans suffering from chronic pain, it is clear that there are medical benefits to marijuana and I think it’s time we remove the bureaucratic red tape that prevents us from thoroughly studying this substance,” continued Steube.

The discordant nature of state cannabis laws versus federal law makes such a bill a step, albeit rather small, in the right direction.

President Joe Biden directed an administrative review into the possibilities of rescheduling cannabis under the CSA. 

Rep. Steube’s other bills which were announced at the same time as the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act include one that would strip Disney of copyright protections and specifically target what he calls “big tech” and “woke” organizations, per the announcement. 

“The Republican majority in the 118th Congress is working to make our government accountable to the people,” said Rep. Steube. “I am reintroducing eight bills that will remove special privileges for Big Tech and woke organizations, cut taxes for Americans and prevent their money from being spent on cruel dog testing, and hold our government accountable while improving efficiency!” 

Rep. Streube also takes a controversial stance on other matters such as transgender rights, and pushed to allow guns in airports and add mandatory-minimum sentences for drug trafficking. His 2017 bill would have pushed for stricter sentences for the sale, manufacture, and delivery of cannabis and other drugs. 

On Jan. 27 the bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be determined by the Speaker.

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GOP Lawmaker in Indiana Pushes Legalization Proposals

A Republican lawmaker in Indiana is putting his weight behind a pair of bills that would bring legal marijuana to the Hoosier State.

GOP state Sen. Jon Ford “recently signed on to support two bills this legislative session related to cannabis and its possible future use in the state,” according to local news station WTWO/WAWV, with the legislator saying “he wants to begin to have these discussions … due to the area he represents being on the border with Illinois, where recreational marijuana is legal.”

Ford indicated that he was driven to support the measures after conversations with members of law enforcement, who said that the discrepancy between Indiana and other bordering states has led to confusion.

“It’s hard for law enforcement to understand where we are on the issue, so I really wanted to support the bill so we can have that discussion,” Ford told WTWO/WAWV.

Ford authored the two bills with a pair of Democratic lawmakers.

Senate Bill 336 would establish “a procedure for the lawful production and sale of cannabis in Indiana.”

Senate Bill 377, meanwhile, would establish the following: 

“Permits the use of cannabis by: (1) a person at least 21 years of age; and (2) a person with a serious medical condition as determined by the person’s physician. Establishes the adult use cannabis excise tax, and requires a retailer to transfer the tax to the department of state revenue for deposit in the state general fund. Exempts veterans from payment of the sales tax on medical or adult use cannabis. Establishes a cannabis program to permit the cultivation, processing, testing, transportation, and sale of cannabis by holders of a valid permit. Establishes the Indiana Cannabis Commission (ICC) as a state agency to oversee, implement, and enforce the program, and establishes the ICC advisory committee to review the effectiveness of the program. Requires that permit holders take steps to prevent diversion of cannabis to unauthorized persons. Requires that cannabis and cannabis products be properly labeled, placed in child resistant packaging, and tested by an independent testing laboratory before being made available for purchase. Prohibits packaging cannabis in a manner that is appealing to children. Authorizes research on cannabis in accordance with rules set forth by the ICC. Establishes a procedure for the expungement of a cannabis related conviction if the act constituting the conviction becomes legal. Makes conforming amendments.”

It is probably a long-shot for either bill to become law this year, however. 

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, has said previously that he isn’t keen on the state legalizing marijuana before the federal government. 

“The law that needs to change is the federal law,” Holcomb said in 2021. “It is illegal right now for recreational use, for medicinal use. There are states that have ignored that law. I will not ignore any law whether I agree with it or disagree with it or disagree with it so that’s the law that needs to change.”

But last year, after President Joe Biden announced that he would issue pardons to all individuals with federal cannabis convictions, Holcomb said that Indiana would not be following the White House’s lead.

“The president should work with Congress, not around them, to discuss changes to the law federally, especially if he is requesting governors to overturn the work local prosecutors have done by simply enforcing the law,” Holcomb said at the time. “Until these federal law changes occur, I can’t in good conscience consider issuing blanket pardons for all such offenders.”

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New Hampshire Governor Dismisses Legalization Bill’s Chances

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire are gearing up for another effort to legalize marijuana, but the state’s governor doesn’t think they will succeed.

The latest cannabis bill being floated in the New Hampshire legislature has support from members of both parties, and the proposal was considered at a hearing in the state House Commerce Committee on Wednesday, according to New Hampshire Public Radio

Republicans have control over the New Hampshire state government, holding majorities in both the state Senate and state House of Representatives. 

The state’s governor, Chris Sununu, is also a Republican. 

As was the case last year, when another marijuana legalization was considered, the proposal has exposed a divide within the New Hampshire GOP. 

While the House of Representatives has “repeatedly backed plans to legalize cannabis,” according to New Hampshire Public Radio, the Republican-led state Senate has not been on board. 

Sununu, meanwhile, represents another obstacle to the bill. 

“I’ve always said now’s not the time. Every state does it very different. I’ve always wanted to see what works and what doesn’t,” Sununu said in a gubernatorial debate last year. “There may be a way to do it but given that we are facing an opioid crisis, given that we still don’t know what works with other states, it could be inevitable, I get it, but you got to be patient about how you do it and the steps that are best for New Hampshire.”

On Wednesday, Sununu’s office was dismissive of the latest legalization’s bill’s prospects.

“It’s failed in the Senate repeatedly, in both Republican-held years and Democrat-held years,” the governor’s office said, as quoted by New Hampshire Public Radio. “With teen drug use and overdoses on the rise, it is not anticipated that the legislature will see this as a time to ignore the data and move it forward.”

Sununu has backed other cannabis-related reforms, however. 

According to the Associated Press, “Sununu signed legislation decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, expanding access to medical marijuana and creating a system for annulling old convictions for marijuana possession,” but “a bill to legalize recreational use has never reached his desk.”

“Governor Sununu has done more on the issues surrounding marijuana reform than any other governor in New Hampshire history,” Sununu spokesperson Ben Vihstadt told the AP.

The legislation was announced last month by two of the senior members of the state House of Representatives: House Majority Leader Jason Osborne and House Democratic Leader Matt Wilhelm.

“The House has long stood united in finding a pathway to getting this done for Granite Staters,” Osborne said at the time. “With any luck, the Senate will come around to supporting the will of the vast majority of New Hampshire citizens.”

On Wednesday, Osborne stumped for the bill before the House Commerce Committee.

“What you are looking at is a result of a number of months of work by an entire coalition of groups and advocates, everything from the business side to the consumer side, the civil rights side to the economic liberty side, as well as the recovery community and people concerned about child safety,” Osborne said at the hearing, as quoted by the Associated Press. “It’s about time we get something done.”

The Associated Press reports that “a coalition that includes both the ACLU of New Hampshire and the conservative group Americans for Prosperity is backing a bipartisan bill to legalize the drug, regulate and tax retail operations and allow it to be grown at home,” and that most of the revenue generated from marijuana sales “would go toward reducing the state’s pension liability, with some going to substance abuse prevention programs and other groups.”

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Ohio Lawmakers File Medical Cannabis Revamp Bill

Two Republican state lawmakers in Ohio have introduced a bill to revamp the state’s medical marijuana laws that would create a new state agency to oversee the program and allow more patients to use cannabis medicinally. The measure, Senate Bill 9, was introduced by state Senators Steve Huffman and Kirk Schuring on January 11 and on Tuesday was referred to a legislative committee for consideration. The bill is similar to another proposal from the last legislative session, Senate Bill 261, that failed to gain approval in the Ohio House of Representatives after passing in the Senate in December 2021. 

Both pieces of legislation attempt to update Ohio’s medical marijuana law, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in 2016. Under the new bill, a new state agency, the Division of Marijuana Control, would be created as part of the Ohio Department of Commerce to regulate the state’s medical marijuana program. The legislation also creates a 13-member commission responsible for oversight of the new agency and the medical program. Under current law, the state’s medical marijuana program is overseen by the Ohio Department of Commerce, the State Medical Board of Ohio and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. 

“What we’ve found is that many of the growers want to expand and grow more,” Huffman said in a statement quoted by local media. “There’s more growers, there’s more demand. They put an application into the Department of Commerce, and it sits there for 18 months, two years. Hopefully this takes the bureaucracy out of this and streamlines things and make it a better-functioning industry.”

Ohio Bill Adds New Qualifying Conditions

Senate Bill 9 would also add autism spectrum disorder, arthritis, migraines, chronic muscle spasms and opioid use disorder to the state’s list of medical conditions that qualify a patient to use cannabis medicinally. Currently, the list of qualifying conditions includes more than two dozen serious medical conditions including cancer, chronic pain, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD and terminal illnesses.

The measure also allows medical marijuana use by patients who have other debilitating medical conditions that can be treated with medicinal cannabis, as determined by their physician. The earlier bill had a similar provision, allowing patients to use medical cannabis if a doctor decides that “the patient’s symptoms may reasonably be expected to be relieved from medical marijuana.”

In a committee hearing on Senate Bill 9 held on Tuesday, Huffman and Schuring told their colleagues that many medical marijuana patients in Ohio are crossing state lines to obtain cannabis from neighboring states with more liberal marijuana laws. As of Januray 1, ore than half of the more than 320,000 patients who have registered in the history of Ohio’s medical marijuana program, only about 164,000 had an active doctor’s recommendation and patient registration, according to information from state regulators.

“The largest dispenser for Ohioans is in Michigan,” Huffman said in testimony Tuesday. “We need to turn that around, and make it more friendly, so people come here and they have a safe, viable product.”

Senate Bill 261 also would have allowed the state’s licensed medical marijuana cultivators to expand their growing operations. Although the provisions to increase the square footage of allowable cultivation space are not included in the new bill, Huffman said he is open to amending the legislation to add the increased growing area.

“In my discussions with Sen. Schuring, we felt this would be a positive move and positive change for the industry,” Huffman said. “At the same time hopefully members of the House will be comfortable with it.”

Recreational Marijuana Proposal Under Consideration

Ohio lawmakers are also considering a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Frank LaRose reintroduced the proposal, which would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and levy a 10% tax on commercial cannabis products. Activists had hoped the measure would appear on the ballot for the November midterm election, but legal challenges caused delays that led to an agreement with state officials to revisit the issue this year. If the state legislature does not approve the measure within four months, the Coalition To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group spearheading the legalization effort, can collect signatures to put the proposal before the voters in the fall.

Despite the adult-use cannabis legalization bill, Huffman, who is a physician, said that he is still interested in improving the state’s medical marijuana program. If recreational marijuana is legalized, he said it would create an environment without “much of a medical marijuana industry.”

“This bill, to me, is not so much about the ballot initiative, but to make the industry as best as we can,” Huffman said.

Trent Woloveck, the chief strategy officer of Jushi, a vertically integrated, multistate cannabis operator that last week opened Beyond Hello Cincinnati, the company’s first medical marijuana dispensary in Ohio, called on state lawmakers to approve Senate Bill 9 in a statement to High Times.

“If passed, SB 9 will make safe, tested medical cannabis products accessible to more Ohioans by expanding qualifying conditions, authorizing additional administration forms and codifying mechanisms to allow responsible, incremental industry growth,” said Woloveck. “Ultimately, the changes proposed in SB 9 will facilitate a stable supply chain, reduce product prices and generally benefit Ohio patients.”

Senate Bill 9 has been referred to the Senate General Government Committee for consideration. At a hearing on Tuesday, the Republican chair of the panel, Senator Michael Rulli, said that the committee would move quickly on the bill.

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Rep. Pete Sessions Compares Weed Industry to Slavery

Republican U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) faces universal backlash from officials and NORML leadership after making “shameful” remarks comparing the cannabis industry with slavery at a House Oversight Committee hearing on November 15 in Washington, D.C.

The Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee gathered for the hearing to discuss developments in state cannabis laws and bipartisan cannabis reform at the federal level. 

Specifically, the issues discussed involved pardoning people charged with possession and the difference between a pardon and an expungement regarding cannabis-related crimes. The topic of the day was supposed to be civil liberties, but Rep. Sessions managed to liken the cannabis industry to slavery.

“The product is being marketed. The product is being sold. The product has been advocated by people who were in it to make money,” Rep. Sessions said at the meeting. “Slavery made money also and was a terrible circumstance that this country and the world went through for many, many years.”

1819 News reports that the committee meeting—full of city, state, and federal officials—did not receive Rep. Sessions’ comments well.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin spoke out after hearing Rep. Sessions’ “offensive” comments earlier at the hearing. Woodfin spoke to the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee to join the conversation about pardon and expungements. But he couldn’t let Rep. Sessions’ comments slide.

“Words matter,” Woodfin said with conviction following Rep. Sessions’ remarks. “While I’m on record, I would just like to say to you directly, your committee members, that putting cannabis and slavery in the same category is patently offensive and flagrant.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) backed up Mayor Woodfin’s comments about the “peculiar analogy.”

“I think we can all disavow that, and we apologize that the lectern was used for that purpose at some moment today,” Raskin said.

The Cannabis Industry Reacts

The cannabis industry also took note of the careless remarks. “Today a sitting member of Congress equated the regulated cannabis industry with slavery,” NORML Political Director Morgan Fox tweeted. “Shameful. Texas, when are you going to send Pete Sessions packing?”

Politico called Rep. Sessions “Washington’s most powerful anti-pot official” in 2018. His storied history with fighting cannabis reform goes back a long way. Also, it’s not the first time Rep. Pete Sessions made questionable comments about cannabis, calling people in the business “merchants of addiction.”

“Marijuana is an addictive product, and the merchants of addiction make it that way,” Rep. Sessions said in 2018. “They make it to where our people, our young people, become addicted to marijuana and keep going.” Rep. Pete Session also linked traffic deaths with cannabis reform, blaming high-THC products.

Rep. Sessions’ comments linking the cannabis industry with slavery is especially ironic because there’s another thing people have likened to “modern slavery”: The U.S. prison system. The ACLU regularly reports that despite roughly equal usage rates—Black people are 3.73 times more likely than white people to be arrested for cannabis. The ACLU also reports that the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude—includes a loophole for prisoners who can be forced to work and are still forced to work. 

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GOP Group Warns Weed Legalization Leads to ‘Violent Crime’ and ‘Suicide’

Republican Study Committee (RSC)—a 156-member GOP House caucus—unveiled the Family Policy Agenda that outlines 14 family-focused principles including the dangers of drugs section, which is entirely about cannabis legalization and how it leads to violent crime and suicide. The overarching goal of the agenda is to “restore the American family.”

Of the 14 principles, 80 legislative recommendations are provided to achieve the GOP caucus’s goals to align with those principles. But the dangers of drug section zeroed in on cannabis—not other drugs like synthetic opioids which the CDC said accounted for over three-quarters of drug overdose deaths last year.

“Marijuana remains a federally scheduled controlled substance, but that has not stopped more and more states and localities from legalizing it under their own laws,” the Family Policy Agenda reads in the “Protecting Children from Dangers of Drugs” section. “This has led to an explosion of marijuana use among children, which is having a hugely negative impact on their health.”

The agenda continues, “Congress should not legalize marijuana, while also taking steps to constrain this new industry’s ability to harm children. At the very least, Congress should direct the CDC to gather data and conduct studies on the health impacts of THC use during childhood and early adolescence with a special focus on deaths by suicide and those involved in violent crime to provide Congress and the public with further information about these dangers.”

What’s the solution to the dangers of pot? Ridding America of candy-flavored drugs, the agenda says, just ahead of Halloween season when trick-or-treaters are out and about.

“In addition, Congress should pass the Protecting Kids from Candy-Flavored Drugs Act, introduced 3 by RSC Chairman and Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN), which would increase criminal penalties for anyone who manufactures or distributes drugs that are disguised as candy,” the agenda reads.

The RSC, led by Chairman Banks, released an announcement about the agenda as a whole.

“The Biden presidency has failed America’s families,” Chairman Banks wrote in a September 29 press release. “Over the past two years, families have lost savings, flexibility, and control over childrearing to increasingly hostile and far left ideologues. Republicans need to position themselves as the party of families. Next Congress we need to focus on reforming the tax code to create more families, passing pro-life legislation, protecting parents’ pocketbooks, and giving them back control over their kids’ education.

“All these policies are popular and proven, and we’ve seen the difference parents can make on election day. If Republicans can contrast our efforts with Democrats’ record of intrusion and control then I think parents will play a pivotal role in 2022 and 2024.”

The RSC’s Family Policy Agenda is supported by groups like SBA Pro-Life America and CatholicVote.

Not everyone agrees with the RSC’s particular section on cannabis. For instance, Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Brian Mast (R-FL) voted affirmatively for the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, Marijuana Moment reports.

Others are doing quite the opposite and following the agenda to stop candy-flavored cannabis.

For instance last August, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and 24 other GOP members introduced a bill that would ramp up criminal penalties for the production and sale of Schedule I drugs—including cannabis—in the form of candy and beverages they believe are marketed to minors. Under that law, people federally prosecuted for selling cannabis products in the shape or flavor of candy to a minor could face up to 10 years in prison for the first offense, with up to 20 more years for second and subsequent offenses.

Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have been re-introducing similar legislation for years, however.

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Republican Congressmen Push for Environmental Impact Study on Cannabis

Congressmen Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO) touted statistics from several studies, one of which were over ten years old, in an attempt to portray cannabis as an environmentally unfriendly plant, framing their argument around increasing competition for energy and the high amounts of electricity and water cannabis plants use compared to other agricultural crops.

“The demand for prioritizing electricity uses and for increased energy efficiency is a growing concern for the American public,” the letter said. “It is essential that the nation understand the burden marijuana cultivation puts on the electrical grid and the environment.”

The letter contained many troubling statistics, some of which appeared to be based on outdated growing technology. For instance, it is said in the letter that a four-plant module uses as much electricity as 29 refrigerators, which does not quite add up when you consider a household refrigerator uses anywhere from 100-250 watts of electricity (according to a cursory Google search) and most commercial growers use 1000 watt high-pressure sodium lights if they have not already switched to the newer LED models that use about 300 watts. Not to mention, some growers place upwards of 10 plants under a light, so that information is a bit arbitrary in the first place.

The letter also espoused that “annual cannabis cultivation electricity demand will grow 65% during the next decade.” However, this does not take into account that if marijuana were legalized on a federal level and interstate cannabis trade were opened, many cannabis companies would opt to move from an indoor grow model to an outdoor grow model.

The letter, addressed to the respective heads of the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the Energy Information Administration, can be found here. The congressmen asked for responses to the following questions by November 30:

  • How does current marijuana legalization impact state energy consumption and emission levels?
  • How would federal legalization of marijuana affect national energy consumption and emission levels?
  • What is the anticipated growth of energy usage and emissions from the marijuana industry?
  • How will growing energy demands from the marijuana industry affect the reliability of our electric grid?
  • What impact do illegal marijuana growing operations have on the country’s water supply?
  • What harms do illegal marijuana growers’ use of various fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides pose to wildlife, habitats, and humans in the United States?

A recent study published in early 2021 found that cannabis still uses a small amount of water relative to other agricultural crops, and that with proper planning and policy cannabis does not have to be a strain on the environment even when grown at mass scale. The study made the following policy recommendations to ensure cannabis legalization does not result in an added strain on the environment:

  1. Land use: as cannabis has traditionally been grown in environmentally-sensitive areas, planning could minimize negative environmental impacts linked to cannabis expansion.
  2. Water use: cannabis is often grown in areas where managing the timing and location of water extraction is crucial for the environment.
  3. Pesticide use: human exposure pathways for pesticide residues on cannabis are unique, as they may be inhaled at high temperatures or ingested. It is thus essential that pesticide controls go beyond those of normal agriculture.
  4. Energy use: incentivizing best practices could reduce energy footprints of indoor and mixed-light cannabis cultivation.
  5. Air pollution: prioritizing science-based best practices could reduce air pollution and air quality impacts.

More details on these policy recommendations can be found at the full study here.

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Republican Mitch McConnell Slams Biden for Commuting Drug Offenders

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the United States Senate, issued a sharp rebuke last week of the Biden administration’s decision to commute the sentences of dozens of individuals incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses.

In remarks made on the Senate floor last Wednesday, McConnell bemoaned what he described as a “crime spree” in his home state of Kentucky and elsewhere in the country, which he attributed to “President Biden’s failure to secure our borders.”

“We need officials at all levels to back the blue, crack down on crime, and reestablish law and order,” McConnell said. “But the Biden Administration gives us the opposite.”

McConnell’s comments came a day after the White House announced that the president would be using his clemency powers for the first time by commuting the sentences of 75 individuals currently serving time for nonviolent drug offenses and issuing three full pardons.

The action came as part of what the Biden administration dubbed “Second Chance Month” during April.

“America is a nation of laws and second chances, redemption, and rehabilitation,” Biden said in a statement announcing the action. “Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, faith leaders, civil rights advocates, and law enforcement leaders agree that our criminal justice system can and should reflect these core values that enable safer and stronger communities. During Second Chance Month, I am using my authority under the Constitution to uphold those values by pardoning and commuting the sentences of fellow Americans.”

“Today, I am pardoning three people who have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back and contribute to their communities,” he continued. “I am also commuting the sentences of 75 people who are serving long sentences for non-violent drug offenses, many of whom have been serving on home confinement during the COVID-pandemic—and many of whom would have received a lower sentence if they were charged with the same offense today, thanks to the bipartisan First Step Act.”

In his floor remarks, McConnell criticized the administration for the commutations and pardons.

“Just yesterday, the President issued a giant catalog of pardons and commutations, cutting sentence after sentence, particularly for convicted drug criminals,” McConnell said. “They never miss an opportunity to send the wrong signal. And until federal, state, and local Democrats get with the program, innocent people in Louisville and across the country will continue to suffer.”

Among the three individuals to receive a pardon is Betty Jo Bogans of Houston. Bogans, 51, “was convicted in 1998 of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine in the Southern District of Texas after attempting to transport drugs for her boyfriend and his accomplice, neither of whom were detained or arrested,” according to the White House. 

“At the time of her conviction, Ms. Bogans was a single mother with no prior record, who accepted responsibility for her limited role in the offense,” the White House explained. “Because of the harsh penalties in place at the time, she was convicted, Ms. Bogan received a seven-year sentence. In the nearly two decades since her release from custody, Ms. Bogans has held consistent employment, even while undergoing treatment for cancer, and has focused on raising her son.”

Dexter Jackson, a 52-year-old from Athens, Georgia, also received a pardon stemming from a 2002 conviction “for using his business to facilitate the distribution of marijuana in the Northern District of Georgia.”

“Mr. Jackson was not personally involved in trafficking marijuana, but allowed marijuana distributors to use his pool hall to facilitate drug transactions,” the White House said. “He accepted full responsibility for his actions at the time he was charged and pled guilty. Since his release from custody, Mr. Jackson has converted his business into a cell-phone repair service and hired local high school students through a program that seeks to provide young adults with work experience. Mr. Jackson has also worked to build and renovate homes in a community that lacks quality affordable housing.”

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Friend of Cannabis, Senate Hopeful Thomas McDermott?

Is US Senate candidate Thomas McDermott Jr. a friend of cannabis? In honour of 4/20 yesterday, the politician released a new video ad with him smoking cannabis. Thomas McDermott is the Democratic contender who will face Republican Senator Todd Young on November 8th. The 56-year-old has been vocal about legalizing cannabis. However, this is the […]

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Marijuana Bills Stall in Virginia’s GOP-Controlled House

Efforts to tweak Virginia’s cannabis laws have reached an impasse in the state’s general assembly, with a senior Republican lawmaker saying last week that the clock is ticking for legislators to get something done before the session ends.

As reported by the Associated Press, Terry Kilgore, the majority leader in Virginia’s House of Delegates, said last week that he does not expect the House to vote on its own measures before the Tuesday deadline for each chamber to complete work on its own legislation.

“We want to get it right. There’s a lot of regulation, enforcement… so there’s just a lot of questions, and you’re running out of time,” Kilgore said last Wednesday, as quoted by the AP.

Kilgore’s Republican colleague, House Speaker Todd Gilbert, was more blunt in his assessment of the situation.

The whole space is a bit of a mess right now,” Gilbert told the AP.

Virginia became the first state in the south last year to legalize recreational marijuana for adults—but that came at a time when the Commonwealth had a Democratic governor and the party controlled the general assembly.

Now, a year later, the state is led by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, while the GOP controls the House of Delegates. Democrats continue to hold the majority in the state Senate.

Virginia’s Cannabis Laws Have Been a Focus for Months

Youngkin said last month before taking office that he “will not seek to overturn the law on personal possession,” but he expressed concerns over the impending commercialization of pot in Virginia, which is not scheduled to begin until 2024.

“When it comes to commercialization, I think there is a lot of work to be done. I’m not against it, but there’s a lot of work to be done,” Youngkin told Virginia Business. “There are some nonstarters, including the forced unionization that’s in the current bill. There have been concerns expressed by law enforcement in how the gap in the laws can actually be enforced. Finally, there’s a real need to make sure that we aren’t promoting an anti-competitive industry. I do understand that there are preferences to make sure that all participants in the industry are qualified to do the industry well.”

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that Republicans there “filed at least eight bills that call for amendments to the law that legalized adult possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and laid the groundwork for retail sales to begin in 2024.”

The GOP lawmakers “drafted bills that would move up the start date for retail sales and get rid of a provision that would give licensing preference to people who’ve been convicted of marijuana crimes,” per the AP.

But now with Virginia’s General Assembly at the halfway point of the current session, time is running out for Republicans and Democrats to strike a deal.

The AP reported Thursday that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle “have expressed support for moving up the date for retail sales to try to prevent growth in the illicit market,” but that “the two sides do not agree on how to reinvest tax revenues from marijuana sales or on social equity provisions that would give advantages in the licensing process for marijuana businesses to people and communities that have been hurt by old marijuana laws.”

The legislation that was signed into law last year by then-Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam “called for 30% of tax revenues to go the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, which would funnel the money to predominantly minority communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs,” according to the AP, which noted that a bill offered up this year by the Republican leader in the state Senate would have directed that money instead to the state’s general fund, but the proposal was nixed by Democrats in the chamber.

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