Industry and Activists Call On Western Governors to Explore Cannabis Interstate Commerce

A group representing cannabis businesses and activists is calling on the governors of four western states to explore receiving federal approval for interstate trade in cannabis, a move that could help set the stage for the eventual national legalization of cannabis. 

In a letter posted online, the Alliance for Sensible Markets called on the governors of California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington to seek guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice on how the government would react if two or more states with legal medical or adult-use marijuana decided to regulate cannabis trade across their state lines. The letter notes that federal legalization of cannabis, which at this point seems inevitable, will present an economic opportunity to cannabis-producing states in the West.

“When the federal government legalizes cannabis, the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that producers across our four states will have non-discriminatory access to every legal adult-use and medical market in the country,” the letter reads. “That will be worth billions of dollars per year to our states’ economies, increasing state revenues and spurring investment, expansion, business formation, and jobs and could, if it happens soon, save thousands of small farms and businesses from extinction.”

The Alliance for Sensible Markets is a Portland, Oregon-based coalition of cannabis activists and producers including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Washington Sun and Craft Growers Association, the Weed for Warriors Project, and the Colorado Cannabis Manufacturers Association. Formed last year, the organization has two primary goals to achieve interstate cannabis commerce.

First, the group is working to bring two or more states with legal marijuana together to join in an interstate compact outlining the parameters for legal cannabis commerce between them. Secondly, a path to federal approval of the plan would have to be drafted and set into motion.

Interstate Commerce to Set the Stage for a National Cannabis Industry

Paired with a federal policy that would permit state-legal cannabis businesses to operate without interference, interstate cannabis commerce could be a more politically viable path to many of the goals of full legalization. Adam Smith, the founder and president of the Alliance for Sensible Markets, believes that interstate commerce in cannabis can connect consumers in newly legal markets with western cannabis producers, who have recently seen wholesale prices plummet.

“Thousands of small farms and businesses across the Pacific Northwest, in communities that have depended on the economics of cannabis for generations, face economic catastrophe as they choke on a glut of some of the world’s best and most efficiently produced cannabis,” Smith wrote in an email to High Times. “This is not an oversupply problem, it’s a market access problem. Meanwhile, millions of patients and consumers in legal states where cannabis is expensive and environmentally costly to grow will be stuck in illicit markets for years, and thousands of potential retail, distribution, delivery and other businesses will be stuck on the sidelines waiting for a steady but limited and overpriced supply chain to emerge in their states.”

The group maintains that the current system of regulated cannabis trade, with each state that has legalized marijuana operating its own contained market of production, manufacturing, distribution and sales, is unsustainable. By seeking guidance from the federal government now instead of waiting for national legalization, the coalition hopes to create a more sustainable cannabis industry that better serves the needs of all stakeholders.

“We believe that the simple act of asking the question will significantly advance the national conversation around the future of legal cannabis, and that positive guidance from DOJ will spur changes beneficial to both producer and consumer states, as well as to patients, consumers, public safety, social equity, small businesses and environmental sustainability in any legal or medical states that choose to regulate and engage in commerce in advance of federal legalization,” the letter concludes.

Smith says that California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, four states that were early pioneers in the cannabis legalization movement, are uniquely positioned to help shape national policy with federal regulators.

“Federal Legalization will open markets, but waiting for the federal government to ‘fix’ cannabis has never been a winning strategy,” Smith explained. “It has always been the states taking the lead on reform. Positive DOJ guidance will open the path to a more rational, just, and sustainable industry now, in states that choose to participate in commerce.”

The Alliance for Sensible Markets is currently encouraging additional cannabis consumers, businesses, and other interested parties to sign the letter and plan to deliver it to the four western governors next month.

The post Industry and Activists Call On Western Governors to Explore Cannabis Interstate Commerce appeared first on High Times.

Recreational Cannabis Law in Washington, D.C. May Soon Be Operational

Congress may be on the verge of removing a crucial impediment that has kept Washington, D.C. from implementing the recreational marijuana law it passed years ago.

The appropriations bill introduced by Democrats in the United States Senate on Monday evening did not contain the so-called “Harris Rider” that has prevented the District of Columbia from enjoying legal weed, despite voters there passing a legalization proposal all the way back in 2014.

Written by Republican Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland, “the budget rider written by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) has prevented D.C. from commercializing the drug and has been added into every appropriations bill since [it was passed by D.C. voters],” the Washington Post explained, noting that Congress “has oversight over all D.C. laws.” 

The appropriations bills, unveiled by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, were greeted warmly by legalization advocates. 

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser likewise approved of the move.

“The Senate appropriations bill is a critical step in recognizing that in a democracy, D.C. residents should be governed by D.C. values,” Bowser’s office said in a statement, as quoted by NBC Washington. “As we continue on the path to D.C. statehood, I want to thank Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Senator Patrick Leahy, our good friend and Subcommittee Chair, Senator Chris Van Hollen, and, of course, our champion on the Hill, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, for recognizing and advancing the will of D.C. voters. We urge Congress to pass a final spending bill that similarly removes all anti-Home Rule riders, allowing D.C. to spend our local funds as we see fit.”

Pro-marijuana activist Adam Eidinger told the station that it has “been a seven-year struggle to get to this point, to remove this rider, and Democrats have been helpful.”

“We have to move forward, and the Congress helped us last night—actually did something for D.C. last night,” Eidinger said.

Republicans, however, were less than enthused. In a statement, Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby cited the removal of the rider as a source of the GOP’s opposition.

“Chairman Leahy’s decision to unilaterally unveil partisan spending bills is a significant step in the wrong direction. This one-sided process has resulted in bills that spend in excess of the Democrats’ own budget resolution and fail to give equal consideration to our nation’s defense. Their bills are filled with poison pills and problematic authorizing provisions, and they remove important legacy riders on topics like terrorism, abortion, and immigration that for years have enjoyed broad support on both sides of the aisle,” Shelby said.

Leahy said that the robust legislative package makes “important investments in our nation’s infrastructure, our environment, and the middle class, including historic increases to promote affordable housing, educate our nation’s children, combat climate change, and improve healthcare.” 

The presence of the Harris Rider has “created a pot paradox in which it’s fine to possess it but not to buy it or sell it—in turn allowing gray-market sellers to continue proliferating while preventing D.C. from benefiting from the tax revenue boost that comes with regulating recreational sales,” the Washington Post said.

The move by Leahy is the latest sign that Democrats on Capitol Hill are ready to embrace legalization. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this year that Democrats are eager to pursue such legislation, and he pointed to the changing attitudes toward pot as a factor.

“In 2018, I was the first member of the Democratic leadership to come out in support of ending the federal prohibition. I’m sure you ask, “Well what changed?” Well, my thinking evolved. When a few of the early states—Oregon and Colorado—wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. Drug use would go up. Everything bad would happen,” Schumer told Politico. “The legalization of states worked out remarkably well. They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy.”

The post Recreational Cannabis Law in Washington, D.C. May Soon Be Operational appeared first on High Times.

Seattle City Council Passes Measure to Decriminalize Psychedelics

The Seattle City Council voted in favor of a resolution last week to support the decriminalization of magic mushrooms and other natural psychedelics. With the resolution, city leaders called on Seattle police to make arresting and prosecuting people for use or possession of naturally occurring entheogenic substances such as psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca and other psychedelics “among Seattle’s lowest law enforcement priorities.”  

“It is a long overdue conversation to decriminalize these non-addictive natural substances,” council member Andrew Lewis said at the city council’s meeting on October 4. “Our law enforcement officials certainly have more important things to do than arrest people for possession of entheogens, and this resolution affirms that.”

Under the resolution, which is non-binding and serves only as a recommendation, the city council requests that the Seattle Police Department “formally codify and adopt policies that protect” those who cultivate psychedelics “for use in religious, spiritual, healing, or personal growth practices and those who share entheogens with others, without financial or other consideration, for their mutual use in such practices.”

Under current SPD policy, officers do not detain or arrest individuals solely for possession of controlled substances. Those who cultivate or sell entheogenic or psychedelic substances, however, are subject to arrest and prosecution.

Council Notes Spiritual Uses of Psychedelics

At a virtual meeting of the city council, members noted that psychedelic compounds are often used for religious or spiritual purposes. The resolution does not cover synthetic psychedelic drugs such as LSD or ketamine, and excludes the entheogenic cactus peyote, which is embroiled in controversy because of its limited native habitat and significance as a sacramental plant for members of the Native American Church.

“These nonaddictive natural substances have real potential in clinical and therapeutic settings to make a really significant difference in people’s lives,” said Lewis. “This resolution really sets the stage as the first significant action in the state of Washington to move this policy forward.”

Lewis also told reporters that there is “a huge demonstrated potential for these substances to provide cutting-edge treatments for substance abuse, recovery from brain injuries and other issues. I want to make sure we’re following the science in our policies around regulating these substances.”

The strategy for Seattle’s resolution to decriminalize psychedelics is similar to the approach that led to cannabis reform in Seattle and eventually statewide. In 2003, the city’s voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 75, an ordinance which made the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority for Seattle police.

In 2012, Washington became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana with the passage of Initiative 502, which was passed with the approval of more than 55% of the state’s voters. Washington voters had previously decriminalized the medicinal use of cannabis in 1998 with the passage of Initiative 692, which garnered 59% of the vote.

Council Chooses Psychedelics Decriminalization Resolution Over Ordinance

The city council approved the resolution supporting the decriminalization of psychedelics by a unanimous vote at last week’s meeting, but not before debating other potential avenues to achieve the same goal. Council member Kshama Sawant noted that the non-binding resolution carries less weight than a proposed psychedelics decriminalization city ordinance that was drafted three months ago.

“To decriminalize psychedelics in fact rather than just in rhetoric would require an ordinance,” Sawant said. “It is this city council not the police department that has the authority to pass such an ordinance,” adding that “I am a little confused by this resolution because it is a resolution and not an ordinance, and why this resolution is being passed when there is an ordinance from my office, and it has been available for months.”

“I fail to see what the plausible reasons are for councilmembers who claim to support this issue to let an ordinance which takes concrete action sit in the city’s computers unintroduced, and instead push a resolution which only has the power to make requests,” said Sawant.

Council member Lisa Herbold, the chair of the public safety committee, noted that state lawmakers would likely engage in a “robust discussion about enforcement around possession of drugs” during the next legislative session. In February, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state’s felony drug law was unconstitutional, effectively decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs. In April, however, lawmakers passed new legislation to make low-level drug possession a misdemeanor until at least 2023.

Tatiana Quintana, co-director of Decrim Nature Seattle, a group that has been working to decriminalize psychedelics in the city for more than a year, said that an ordinance is the ultimate goal.

“In terms of strategy, [Lewis] was very supportive of an ordinance, but it kind of played out that a resolution would be a really great way to build support for an ordinance,” Quintana said. “I actually do think that the slower process of a resolution building not only awareness but support for a future ordinance is pretty smart. It’s a pretty smart way to go about things.”

The post Seattle City Council Passes Measure to Decriminalize Psychedelics appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Felons Can Now Get Cannabis Licenses in Washington State

Felons will no longer be automatically barred from getting a cannabis license in Washington State, beginning next Saturday on October 2. Several updates to the rule now allow some people with serious felonies to obtain cannabis licenses, on a case-by-case basis.

That’s thanks to a new rule set by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board that will go into effect shortly. Anyone who obtains a license must first pass an obligatory background check, but now, a felony on a record won’t necessarily be an automatic disqualifier.

Serious felony convictions within the past 10 years, however, will still trigger deeper scrutiny of a person’s application. But the rules no longer bar people with felonies from receiving a license. 

The protocol for less serious felonies also was updated. Specifically, one Class C felony on a record won’t automatically bar their license application. In addition, if someone has fewer than three misdemeanor convictions in the past three years, that won’t be enough to prompt a deeper review. 

Failure to report an old misdemeanor from juvenile court won’t count against applicants anymore, either.

With a strong focus on social equity in recent years, the rule change is being celebrated by cannabis business people because it allows people who were arrested at disproportionate rates to enter the legal industry.

“I think it’s great what the state is doing in terms of allowing people who have issues in the past, to be able to qualify,” Tran Du, co-owner of Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis in Seattle, told KOMO News.

The idea behind the rule change is that people who were arrested at disproportionate rates for cannabis shouldn’t be barred from participating in the industry, now that it’s legal.

“We wanted to bring parity in the disproportionality that we saw from the leftover of the war on drugs and that Black people were being arrested and brown people were being arrested disproportionately,” said Representative Melanie Morgan (D-Parkland) who is also chair of the state Social Equity on Cannabis Task Force.

Morgan stressed the need to get the state’s priorities in line. “The bottom line is bringing parity to the industry and making sure that Black and brown people have equal access to this industry in ownership,” she said.

Why Allow Felons?

Disparities in arrest rates of people of color are evident in numerous states, and Washington state is no different.

A study conducted by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, entitled “240,000 Marijuana Arrests Costs, Consequences, and Racial Disparities of Possession Arrests in Washington, 1986‐2010,” found that although African Americans and Latinx people consume marijuana at lower rates than whites, African Americans were arrested for marijuana crimes at 2.9 times the rate of whites in the state. Latinos were arrested at 1.6 times the rate of whites.

The burden of a felony can prevent some people from participating in the cannabis industry. As an example, High Times highlighted the case of Katree Darriel Saunders, who was barred from Nevada’s industry over a pot charge. As a one-time employee in the Nevada medical space, served four months in federal prison over a probation violation after choosing cannabis over opioids to treat trauma and injuries. That choice has burdened Saunders for over a decade, largely preventing her from participating in the industry despite years of experience, success and an otherwise spotless record. 

Other routes into the cannabis industry are available, depending on what state you live in. Several states that have legalized marijuana also offer opportunities for convicts to expunge their records.

The post Felons Can Now Get Cannabis Licenses in Washington State appeared first on High Times.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Advocates Float New Strategy To Pass Marijuana Legalization In Senate With Democratic Support In Question (Marijuana Moment)

// Montana House Revives Bill To Implement Marijuana Legalization After First Defeating It (Marijuana Moment (Daily Montanan))

// Drug Possession To Be A Misdemeanor- For Now- Under Washington State Bill Headed To Governor’s Desk (Marijuana Moment)


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// These states could still legalize recreational or medical cannabis in 2021 (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Pennsylvania Marijuana Poll Shows Highest-Ever Support For Legalization (Marijuana Moment)

// Harborside Q4 Net Revenue Increases 11% to $12.6 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Auxly Revenue Keeps Rising But Losses Remain (Green Market Report)

// After hitting record numbers during the pandemic’s peak new medical marijuana patients are surging again in Florida (Yahoo News (South Florida Sun-Sentinel))

// Peoples-Stokes hosts Buffalo marijuana expungement clinic (WGRZ 2 NBC)

// New York’s Native American communities eye recreational cannabis (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.

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Thursday, April 15, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, April 15, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Schumer Says It’s Time To End Federal Cannabis Prohibition (Gothamist)

// California Bill To Legalize Possession Of Psychedelics Clears Second Senate Committee (Marijuana Moment)

// Wisconsin Governor ‘Tired’ Of Marijuana Revenue Going To Illinois Next Door (Marijuana Moment)


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// Sixth Minnesota House Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill On Its Path To The Floor (Marijuana Moment)

// Swap the crop? New York hemp farmers eager to grow marijuana

// Jushi Buying Dalitso Facility For $22 Million (My Journal Courier (AP)) (Green Market Report)

// Valens Q1 Revenue Increases 25% Sequentially to C$20 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Alabama Medical Marijuana Bill Moves Closer To Floor Vote With House Committee Action (Marijuana Moment)

// Neighbor states give Illinois $10 million in cannabis taxes every month (Leafly)

// With State Law Against Drug Possession Overturned Washington Governor Frees 15 People From Prison (Marijuana Moment)

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.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Judiciary Committee Passes Recreational Marijuana (CT News Junkie)

// California Senators Approve Bill To Legalize Possession Of Psychedelics Like LSD, MDMA, And Psilocybin (Marijuana Moment)

// Gov. Lujan Grisham to sign regular session bills before special session bills (KOB 4 News)


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// Biden Is Too Busy To Decriminalize Marijuana, Harris Says (Marijuana Moment)

// Slang Revenues Rise In Fourth Quarter, But Drop Overall In 2020 (Green Market Report)

// 4Front Q4 Revenue Increases 90% to $17 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Organigram Buys Edibles Manufacturer for $22 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Mexico Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances In Senate For Second Day In A Row (Marijuana Moment)

// Workers at Rhode Island medical cannabis dispensary vote to unionize (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Washington Lawmakers Hear Drug Decrim Bill After Supreme Court Strikes Down Prohibition (Marijuana Moment)

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.

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Wednesday March 17, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, March 16, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Connecticut House Speaker Says ‘Optimism Abounds’ As Marijuana Legalization Negotiations Proceed (Marijuana Moment)

// Legalizing Marijuana Has Been A ‘Uniformly Positive’ Move In Washington State Governor Says (Marijuana Moment)

// Oregon Governor Appoints Panel To Implement Historic Legal Psilocybin Therapy Measure (Marijuana Moment)


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// California awards $15 million more in cannabis social equity grants (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Ann Arbor to put $476K in new marijuana revenue to social equity programs (Michigan Live)

// Majority Of Florida Voters Back Marijuana Legalization And Oppose THC Limits, New Poll Finds (Marijuana Moment)

// Columbia Care Beats On Revenue, Misses On Earnings (Green Market Report)

// Village Farms Cannabis Sales Grow 2% Sequentially to $17.3 Million in Q4 (New Cannabis Ventures)

// It’s completely legal, but still the hemp industry has trouble finding banks – here’s why (Columbus Dispatch)

// State’s first on-site consumption cannabis bar set to open (KFVS 12 CBS)

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.

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