AR lawsuit could get cannabis on ballot (Newsletter: August 8, 2022) | Big Indy News
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AR lawsuit could get cannabis on ballot (Newsletter: August 8, 2022)

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Congressman talks expungements as banking add-on; Lawmakers want another US marijuana prisoner freed from Russia; Fed cannabis breath tests; IL regs

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Arkansas marijuana activists filed a lawsuit before the state Supreme Court, seeking to secure ballot access for their proposed legalization initiative that was rejected by the Board of Election Commissioners despite having enough signatures from voters.

Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA) spoke to Marijuana Moment about cannabis reform momentum in Congress and how his new expungements bill could be an “adjunct” to a broad package of reforms that bipartisan leaders are crafting that includes banking and other issues.

As U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner’s Russian cannabis sentence generates international outrage, bipartisan lawmakers led by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) sent a letter urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to give similar “wrongfully detained” status to another American who is imprisoned in that country for medical marijuana.

  • “Although he may not carry the notoriety of a celebrity WNBA athlete, we believe it is essential the Biden Administration work to bring Mr. Fogel safely home to his family.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is looking for a contractor to help carry out a study measuring how the concentration of cannabis compounds on consumers’ breath decreases over time after use.

An Illinois representative is planning to file legislation to consolidate the state’s marijuana regulations under a single new commission, rather than the hodgepodge of agencies that oversee the cannabis market now.

/ FEDERAL

President Joe Biden said he is “working hard” to free American basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to prison in Russia for cannabis vapes, and that he’s “hopeful” she will be released.

The Senate confirmed new members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) tweeted, “Brittney Griner’s 9 year sentence for possession of cannabis is just as absurd as classifying cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted, “Brittney is a political prisoner. Her sentence for having less than *1 gram* of cannabis oil is unimaginably cruel and outrageous. Also a reminder that cannabis inexplicably remains a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S. and millions have been locked up for nonviolent drug charges.”

Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) criticized Vice President Kamala Harris for expressing concern about American basketball player Brittney Griner’s Russian cannabis sentence when she herself oversaw marijuana cases as a prosecutor and the Biden administration is not taking significant steps to free domestic prisoners.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed a bill allowing medical cannabis patients under the age of 18 to have up to four designated caregivers.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) pardoned more people for marijuana and other offenses.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) tweeted, “Illinois, take a look at what we’ve accomplished these past four years:… 🍃 Legalized adult-use cannabis… And we’re just getting started.” Separately, the lieutenant governor tweeted, “Four years ago,  @JBPritzker and I promised to legalize adult-use cannabis and expunge cannabis-related records. Four years later, our efforts on building a more equitable Illinois are coming to fruition.”

Nebraska Democratic gubernatorial candidate Carol Blood, currently a state senator, tweeted that the state’s “watered down hemp bill is ineffective.”

Texas Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Susan Hays accused the incumbent of being slow to embrace medical cannabis.

A California senator spoke about his bill to legalize psychedelics possession.

A Virginia senator participated in a ribbon cutting at a new medical cannabis dispensary.

Washington, D.C. officials are launching a Joint Cannabis Task Force to conduct inspections of unlicensed marijuana businesses.

Montana regulators filed proposed rules changes on the marijuana waste management process.

Connecticut regulators are being sued by a company that was denied a marijuana cultivation license.

The Oregon Task Force on Cannabis-Derived Intoxicants and Illegal Cannabis Production’s Water and Natural Resources Subcommittee met.

Ohio regulators will consider medical cannabis rules on Monday.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 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.

/ LOCAL

New York City’s mayor tweeted, “I am proud of the work NYC’s overdose prevention centers are doing. Since opening, they have saved lives and connected people with basic necessities and social services. All New Yorkers deserve access to safe health care and treatment. And we’re leading the way with these sites.”

Denver, Colorado voters will see a measure on the November ballot to increase recreational marijuana sales taxes and use the revenue to fund out-of-school learning stipends.

The Harker Heights, Texas City Council voted to place a marijuana decriminalization initiative on the November ballot rather than immediately enacting the reform.

The Medford, Oregon City Council declined to place a measure on the ballot to ban psilocybin services businesses.

The Detroit, Michigan City Council voted to place a measure on the November ballot to revise recreational marijuana business rules.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Russia’s foreign minister said the country is “ready to discuss” a prisoner swap involving American basketball player Britteny Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in prison for possessing cannabis vapes.

Belize’s minister of new growth industries said that a decision to delay a referendum on cannabis legalization had to do with the cost of carrying out the election, rather than concerns about banking as previously reported.

Canadian licensed marijuana businesses destroyed 468 tons of unsold, unpackaged dried cannabis in 2021.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study suggested that ” CBD can reduce anxiety severity and has an adequate safety profile in young people with treatment-resistant anxiety disorders.”

A study suggested that “CBD may protect against sepsis-induced inflammation and subsequent arrhythmias.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Racine Journal Times editorial board is calling on Wisconsin lawmakers to legalize marijuana.

The Star-Ledger editorial board said it would be repeating the mistakes of the drug war to crack down on unlicensed marijuana sellers with harsh criminal penalties.

Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen authored an op-ed about the need to go beyond marijuana social equity programs to restore communities damaged by the war on drugs.

The executive vice president of prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana authored an op-ed criticizing a new Senate bill to allow cannabis advertisements on TV and radio.

/ BUSINESS

Canopy Growth Corporation reported quarterly net revenue of C$110.1 million and a net loss of C$2.1 billion.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the federal government made him take drug tests after he smoked marijuana on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

Missouri dispensaries sold more than $33 million worth of medical cannabis in July.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.



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Nevada Marijuana Regulators Announce Lotteries For State’s First Consumption Lounge Licenses

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Nevada marijuana regulators announced on Wednesday that they will be holding lotteries at the end of the month to select 20 independent cannabis consumption lounge licensees, half of which will be reserved for social equity applicants.

The state Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) said it will conduct “two drawings via a random number selector” on November 30 to determine which businesses will be the first to receive approval for independent consumption lounge licenses.

“The CCB anticipates the first lounges to be licensed and able to open during the first half of 2023,” a notice says.

Regulators said earlier this month that they received about 100 applications for the new license type during a 10-day application window in October.

These developments come more than a year after Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed a bill from Assemblyman Steve Yeager (D) legalizing consumption lounges.

Current retailers are able to apply for a separate license category to build lounges into their existing operations, and they are not subject to a competitive selection process. The lotteries are for independent lounge licenses for businesses that want to enter into a contract with a retailer to purchase and prepare ready-to-consume marijuana products for resale at brand new facilities.

CCB approved regulations for marijuana lounges over the summer. The law could also allow businesses that couple cannabis with yoga, serve infused food, offer THC-aided massage therapy or incorporate marijuana in other ways.

The governor touted Nevada’s lounge law in a 4/20 op-ed for Marijuana Moment this year, writing: “The idea isn’t new, but no one is doing it like we are in Nevada.”

“While most of the consumption lounges in other states don’t offer food, beverages or other entertainment options,” he said, “Nevada’s lounges will be a one-stop entertainment shop to create jobs, grow the industry and boost our economy.”

Under the board-approved rules, consumption must be hidden from public view. Smoking and vaping must take place in a separate room of the lounge or be prohibited entirely. Single-use or ready-to-consume cannabis products can’t be brought off-site. And businesses must provide water to every guest free of charge.

The lounges will also be cannabis-only. No alcohol, tobacco or nicotine products can be sold.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 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.

Other safety-related regulations require lounges to establish plans to limit cannabis-impaired driving and minimize workers’ exposure to secondhand smoke. Guns are prohibited, surveillance is required and procedures must be in place to reduce and respond to potentially violent or harassing behavior.

Single-use cannabis products are limited to no more than 3.5 grams of usable cannabis under the regulations, with “extracted inhalable cannabis products” (such as vaping or dabbing products) limited to 300 milligrams of THC. All single-use products with more than 1 gram of usable cannabis, and all extracted inhalables, must carry written potency warnings.

Individual servings of ready-to-consume edible products are capped at 10 milligrams THC, a fairly standard amount in states that have legalized cannabis for adult use.

Topicals, meanwhile, are limited to 400 milligrams of THC. Transdermal patches and all other cannabis products can have no more than 100 milligrams THC and must carry a written warning if they have more than 10 milligrams.

Marijuana sales totaled just under $1 billion in Nevada in the 2022 Fiscal Year, generating more than $152 million in cannabis tax revenue, officials reported this month. Most of the proceeds are going toward funding schools.

The hope is that the cannabis lounge option will further stimulate sales when those services launch.

Sisolak has committed to promoting equity and justice in the state’s marijuana law. In 2020, for example, he pardoned more than 15,000 people who were convicted for low-level cannabis possession. That action was made possible under a resolution the governor introduced that was unanimously approved by the state’s Board of Pardons Commissioners.

Meanwhile, a Nevada judge ruled last month that the Board of Pharmacy’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance violates the state Constitution and that the agency “exceeded its authority” by making that designation.

The ACLU of Nevada filed a lawsuit earlier this year, alleging that despite voter-approved legalization police have continued to make marijuana-related arrests because the Board of Pharmacy has refused to remove cannabis from its controlled substances list.

That has effectively created a legal “loophole” that the civil rights group says conflicts with long-standing constitutional protections for medical marijuana patients.

Separately, in August 2021, a former Las Vegas police officer who sued after facing termination for testing positive for marijuana scored a significant procedural victory, with a district judge denying the department’s request for summary judgement and agreeing that state statute protects employees’ lawful use of cannabis outside of work.

Iowa Regulators Recommend Marijuana Task Force Be Formed To Explore Federal Exemption For State’s Medical Program



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Iowa Regulators Recommend Marijuana Task Force Be Formed To Explore Federal Exemption For State’s Medical Program

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An Iowa regulatory board has voted to recommend that the legislature create a legal task force to explore seeking an exemption protecting the state’s limited medical cannabis program from federal interference.

At a meeting of the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board last week, activist Carl Olsen proposed the task force, which he said should bring legal experts together to “carefully review the state, federal and international drug laws to come up with an application for an exception” under federal statutes.

Olsen has long been pushing the state to submit such an application, and the legislature did pass a bill in 2020 that required the state to seek the protections. But following months of delay, the advocate filed a lawsuit against the governor last year to compel the state to move forward with the application, and one state department did subsequently take steps to reach out to federal agencies about the process.

Board member Robert Shreck said at last week’s meeting that Olsen “thinks that the state can obtain an exemption from the restrictions on cannabis and, as far as I can tell from reading what he’s done, and he’s been very persistent about this, I think he’s correct.”

“This is the pathway to proceed to do this,” he said. “It’s been done half-heartedly by some parts of our government…at least, it hasn’t gone forward and been successful. But I would whole-heartedly support Carl’s recommendation. And I would propose that the board make that recommendation.”

Owen Parker, bureau chief the Medical Cannabidiol Board at the Iowa Department of Public Health, made a motion to vote on including Olsen’s task force recommendation in the board’s annual report to the legislature, and it passed unanimously.

It’s another modest win for Olsen, whose earlier lawsuit against the governor generated headlines and seemed to motivate the public health department to send letters about a cannabis law exception to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Education.

In 2020, DEA rejected a request for an exemption that was submitted by Olsen himself, but he has been hopeful that the result would be different with the state formally involved.

DEA regulations stipulate that the agency’s administrator “may grant an exemption in his discretion, but in no case shall he/she be required to grant an exception to any person which is otherwise required by law or the regulations.”

Relatedly, the Hawaii legislature adopted a resolution last year seeking an exemption from DEA stipulating that the state is permitted to run its medical cannabis program without federal interference.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 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.

Back in Iowa, the board separately voted to recommend to the legislature that it passes legislation to exempt medical cannabis products from the state sales tax and decouple cannabis taxes from a federal code known as 280E that precludes businesses from making tax deductions if they sell a Schedule I controlled substance like marijuana.

At the beginning of the year, Iowa Democratic senators released the text of a joint resolution to put the question of cannabis legalization before voters on the state’s ballot, but that did not ultimately advance.

Sens. Joe Bolkcom (D), Janet Petersen (D) and Sarah Trone Garriott (D), who first unveiled their marijuana reform plan last year, had said that inaction on the issue in the GOP-controlled legislature meant they needed to pursue the alternative route to end prohibition.

A bill to decriminalize cannabis possession did clear an Iowa Senate subcommittee early last year, but it also stalled. Another Senate panel separately approved a bill to reduce medical cannabis patient registration costs last year.

Irish Lawmaker Files Bill To Legalize Marijuana Possession For Adults, Draws Early Criticism From Top Government Official

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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Irish Lawmaker Files Bill To Legalize Marijuana Possession For Adults, Draws Early Criticism From Top Government Official

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An Irish lawmaker has filed a bill to legalize marijuana possession nationwide for adults 18 and older—but a top government official has already raised concerns about the reform proposal.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny introduced the long-anticipated legislation on Thursday. It would legalize possession of up to seven grams of cannabis and 2.5 grams of marijuana resin for personal adult use.

The bill is currently before the Dáil Éireann, the lower chamber of Ireland’s legislature. It’s not clear if lawmakers from competing parties will work to advance it, but the the sponsor said that he expects the body to have a “wider debate” on cannabis reform “next year.”

“The bill itself is quite moderate. It’s amending existing legislation that dates back 42 years ago—and 42 years ago was a very, very long time,” Kenny said on the floor. “We need a different narrative in relation to drug reform, because criminalizing people for small possessions of any drug, particularly cannabis, is a complete waste of time and it’s a waste of resources.”

Watch Kenny discuss the marijuana legalization bill, starting around 4:15:00 into the video below:

While the sponsor has sought to distinguish the bill as decriminalization, rather than legalization, the bill itself says that possession of up to seven grams of marijuana by adults “shall be lawful,” even if there wouldn’t be a commercial market.

“I think there’s a groundswell of opinion, not only in Ireland, but across the world, for something very different—a different narrative and a different status quo, because the status quo at the moment doesn’t work,” he said.

Medical cannabis is legal in Ireland, but patients must be individually approved by the Health Ministry and there’s been some criticism of delays with the government’s rollout of the program, according to Volteface.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who serves as the head of Ireland’s government, has already signaled that he may represent a barrier to advancing the modest reform, warning about the consequences of “glamorizing” marijuana use ahead of the bill’s introduction.

The former health minister said that he’s “not necessarily” in favor of legalizing low-level possession and suggested that he considered the seven gram limit arbitrary, as The Independent reported. He also said “there are real concerns within the health community and the medical community about what cannabis can do to young people.”

“I will examine it and we will look at data and we’ll take advice from a number of disciplines—be it policing, be it health,” Martin said. “And certainly, I would prefer a system that decriminalizes in the sense that were there to help people with challenges with harmful substances such as cannabis.”

In an op-ed about his bill, Kenny pointed to a growing international movement to reform marijuana policies.

“There is precedent for Ireland to legislate for the decriminalization of cannabis for personal use,” he wrote. “Across the world countries are recognizing that prohibition of cannabis has not worked, it has only enriched and emboldened the black market.”

Indeed, marijuana reform efforts have picked up within governments of several European countries in recent years.

Germany’s Federal Cabinet recently approved a plan to legalize marijuana nationwide. But officials said that its fate ultimately rests in whether international and European policy allows the country to move ahead.

Over the summer, top officials from Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands held a first-of-its-kind meeting to discuss plans and challenges associated with recreational marijuana legalization.

Malta became the first country in the European Union to legalize marijuana late last year.

A novel international survey that was released in April found majority support for legalization in several key European countries.

Congressional Researchers Provide Options To Allow Safe Drug Consumption Sites, Including Marijuana-Style Budget Amendment

Image element courtesy of Ron Cogswell.



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