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Drug war reparations?; New Houston decrim policy; Iowa medical cannabis poll
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3 THINGS TO KNOW

The Congressional Cannabis Caucus officially kicks off Thursday with a press conference that will be live-streamed on the web at 2 PM ET.

The initial co-chairs are: Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK) and Jared Polis (D-CO).
ACTION ALERT: Tell Your Rep to Join the Cannabis Caucus in Congress

A Massachusetts state senator who supported the voter-approved legal marijuana ballot measure has been picked to lead the new Committee on Marijuana Policy, which will craft legislation to tweak and implement the law. An ardent anti-cannabis senator who had vied for the top spot has instead been relegated to vice chairman status.
Houston and Harris County, Texas officials are announcing a new quasi-decriminalization policy that allows people caught with four ounces or less of marijuana to avoid arrests and criminal records in exchange for taking a drug education class.
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FEDERAL

In yesterday's Marijuana Moment I reported that Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) introduced legislation to examine the racially discriminatory impact of the war on drugs. I've since gotten my hands on a copy of the bill (still not on Congress.gov)...

The legislation would create a commission to, among other things, examine whether the federal government should "offer a formal apology on behalf of the people of the United States to the African-American victims of the 'War on Drugs' and their descendants" and whether "any form of compensation to the victims of the 'War on Drugs' and their descendants is warranted."

See more details in my exclusive report for MassRoots.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure undoing a federal regulation that limits the use of drug testing of unemployment insurance applicants to only certain occupations (determined by the Department of Labor to be those with public safety concerns like airline pilots, railroad workers or jobs involving firearms).

If signed by the president, the measure would make it so that states can drug test certain unemployment insurance applicants regardless of the job they held. The White House issued a statement in support last week.

STATES

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) says he's willing to support a limited CBD medical cannabis bill that's moving through the legislature.

Separately, lawmakers officially filed broader bills to legalize medical cannabis and to refer the question to voters on the ballot.
The New York Assembly voted 95-38 to pass legislation allowing the sealing of records of people arrested for possessing marijuana in public view.
The Vermont Senate voted unanimously to approve legislation adding new medical cannabis qualifying conditions and doubling the number of dispensaries in the state.

Separately, the state's Human Rights Commission found that the Department of Public Safety illegally discriminated against a patient in the medical marijuana application process by forcing him to register for "severe physical pain" when he really wanted to use cannabis for PTSD, anxiety and depression.
The Virginia House Criminal Law Subcommittee defeated a bill to expand the state's existing CBD medical cannabis law.
Democratic lawmakers in North Dakota are raising concerns over pending legislation that would severely scale back the medical cannabis ballot measure that voters approved in November.
The California Senate Rules Committee voted to recommend the nomination of the governor's nominee to head the state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation.
The New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill to study legalizing marijuana by a vote of 18-1.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on an outright  marijuana legalization bill next week. Bills to add new qualifying conditions in the state's existing medical cannabis law will also be heard.
Members of the South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee will hold an informal meeting to discuss pending medical cannabis legislation on Thursday.
Rhode Island senators introduced legislation to create a commission to study legalizing marijuana.

A separate new bill would require that 50% of fines collected under the state's marijuana decriminalization law be earmarked for youth substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.
Wyoming activists failed to get enough signatures to qualify a medical cannabis measure for the ballot.
Advocates in Arizona are filing a proposed marijuana legalization ballot initiative.
Montana medical marijuana providers facing federal charges have asked a judge to toss the case, citing a Congressionally-approved rider that prevents the Justice Department from prosecuting people operating in compliance with state policies. The feds say the defendants broke state law, however.
Oregon regulators are urging doctors to conduct full patient evaluations before issuing medical marijuana recommendations.
A number of marijuana law reform bills are pending in the California legislature.
A Nevada regulator predicts that potentially high taxes on recreational marijuana will influence patients to stay enrolled in the state's medical cannabis program.
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LOCAL

The Shelby County, Tennessee County Commission voted to endorse a statewide medical cannabis bill.
The San Francisco, California Board of Supervisors is considering legislation to create a separate regulatory department to oversee the city's marijuana industry.
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INTERNATIONAL

The Kenya Senate Committee on Health is reviewing a proposal to legalize marijuana for medical and industrial uses.
Jamaica regulators have given their first initial approvals to marijuana growers and processors.
Israel's ambassador to Sweden proudly tweeted an article about how his country is leading innovation in medical cannabis.

ADVOCACY

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and a coalition of more than 100 other organizations came out in opposition to the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch, citing among other things his ruling in favor of a police officer who used what turned out to be lethal force by tasing a man fleeing a marijuana arrest.

SCIENCE

A research review finds that "there is a valid rationale to propose the use of cannabinoid compounds in the pharmacological management of ALS patients" but that most studies done to date were conducted on non-human animals. "Cannabinoids indeed are able to delay ALS progression and prolong survival," the author says.

OPINION & ANALYSIS

A new poll finds that 80% in Iowa support medical cannabis, though only 39% back full marijuana legalization.
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board is urging Florida lawmakers to expand the number of licensed medical marijuana producers.
A Texas state representative published an op-ed arguing for a marijuana decriminalization bill he introduced:
  • "Right now, Texas is spending $734 million every year on enforcement, not to mention the time and attention of police, prosecutors, and courts that could all be better spent dealing with other issues. On top of that, the current punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Arrestees — mostly young people — are being saddled with permanent criminal records that can make them almost unemployable later. They also face driver’s license suspensions, housing and student financial aid denials, and immigration consequences over this pettiest of petty crimes."
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