Virginia has become the first southern state to legalize marijuana. On Wednesday, the state’s Democratic-controlled Legislature voted to approve Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed amendments to a legalization bill. One such change was to legalize marijuana possession beginning July 1, 2020, rather than the initial date of Jan. 1, 2024. Though the bill will allow adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, retail sales of cannabis will not begin until 2024. The legislation will also permit each household to grow no more than four marijuana plants beginning July 1. Public cannabis use will be prohibited. “The time has come for our state to legalize marijuana,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said ahead of Wednesday’s vote.
Santa Fe, NM – With the New Mexico Legislature approving social justice-centered cannabis legalization during the special session today, Emily Kaltenbach, Senior Director for Resident States and New Mexico for the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement: “New Mexicans are finally able to exhale. After many years of hard work, another whirlwind legislative session, and input from stakeholders throughout the state, social justice-centered cannabis legalization is on its way to the Governor’s desk, where she has already agreed to sign. We thank the Governor and our legislative allies for not taking ‘no’ for an answer and stopping at nothing until we were able to get justice for New Mexico communities—particularly Hispanic/Latinx, Black, Native and Indigenous—that have been immensely harmed by cannabis prohibition.
On Tuesday night, New York went from being the marijuana arrest capital of the world to passing one of the most progressive legalized cannabis laws in the country. Update: Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill on Wednesday morning [more details below]. As expected, the State Assembly and the State Senate both overwhelmingly passed the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act, which permits adults 21 and over to purchase marijuana and grow the plant in their home. The legislation's two main sponsors, Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator Liz Krueger, had fought for the bill's passage for more than seven years. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had repeatedly tried to impose his own legalization plan on the legislation, agreed to sign the MRTA last week, as he continues to govern amid multiple scandals and investigations.
For decades, many people have been subjected to criminal prosecution for the possession of marijuana. Some people that are impacted by this end up going to prison with people that have serious criminal backgrounds, which I find quite frightening and unjust, wondering if there will ever be a law that can tackle these unfortunate circumstances. Then along came the MORE Act. On Friday, The House of Representatives voted to pass the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Engagement (MORE) Act, an H.R. 3884 bipartisan legislation set to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
A United Nations panel has voted to remove medical cannabis from a list of dangerous drugs. In the Wednesday vote, the Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted on several World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations related to cannabis. Among them was a recommendation that the drug be stricken from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The list currently puts cannabis alongside drugs like heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. While the vote will not have any immediate or binding effect on international cannabis laws, it will open doors for reforms that use such international agreements as guidelines, according to The New York Times.
Shortly after the election, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to members that outlined legislative priorities for the waning days of the 116th Congress. One of them is the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. Hoyer indicated that the bill may come up for a vote in early December. A legislative victory, albeit in just one house, would complement decisions by voters who legalized marijuana in five states earlier this month. MORE reflects realities on the ground: Marijuana is now mainstream, on a par with alcohol and tobacco.
When New Jersey State Senator Ronald Rice roadblocked legislation to legalize adult use of marijuana in the ‘Garden State’ last year he cited a litany of long debunked theories and specious assertions like legalization will inundate minority communities with “marijuana bodegas.” The stance of Rice, an African American, helped stall efforts by New Jersey’s Governor and civil rights organizations to end racial inequities related to marijuana laws, like pot possession arrest rates for blacks being much higher than arrests for whites despite similar usage rates among the races. Ending documented racism in enforcement of marijuana laws is a key impetus for efforts nationwide to end the prohibition on pot. That prohibition is rooted in federal legislation initially approved in 1937.
The Office of the District Attorney for Los Angeles County (population: 10 million) has announced that it will be dismissing an estimated 66,000 marijuana convictions. Some 53,000 people are anticipated to have their records expunged. Nearly 60,000 of the cases under review are marijuana-related felony convictions, some of which date back to the 1960s.
Evanston aldermen on Monday approved directing all sales tax revenue collected from recreational marijuana purchases to a fund that will establish a local reparations program. Officials say the program will help the city’s black population stay in Evanston while also providing training for jobs and other benefits. “We can implement funding to directly invest in black Evanston,” said Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, who proposed the reparations bill.
The Trump administration is sounding the alarm against vaping products as health officials scramble to determine why some consumers are suddenly becoming sick from them. But while the administration’s pending bans on flavored e-cigarettes will no doubt influence the legal nicotine marketplace, they will have virtually no impact on the counterfeit cannabis vaping products associated with the recent outbreak of serious lung illnesses. Why? Because nicotine is a federally regulated product, and several licensed large-scale corporations operate in this space.
A coalition of more than 100 civil rights groups—including ACLU, NAACP, National Education Association and National Organization for Women—released a criminal justice reform platform for the 2020 elections on Thursday that calls for the legalization of marijuana and supports the “dismantling” of the criminalization of other drugs. As part of the document’s plank on ending the war on drugs, the organizations said states should “legalize marijuana through a racial justice framework that focuses on access, equity, and repairing the damage of prohibition” and the federal government should end cannabis prohibition and “implement marijuana reform through a racial justice lens.”
Teenagers are less likely to use cannabis in places where the drug has been legalised, a new study suggests. Researchers at Montana State University looked at health surveys of US high school pupils between 1993 and 2017. While overall use among US youth went up, the likelihood of teen use declined by nearly 10% in states where recreational use was legalised. Some 33 states have legalised medical cannabis, while 10 states have also legalised recreational use. Cannabis use remains illegal in all states for people under the age of 18.
Banks and credit unions have been accepting significantly more marijuana businesses in 2019, according to new federal data. At the end of the last quarter of 2018, there were 438 banks and 113 credit unions actively servicing cannabis businesses. By March 2019, those numbers grew to 493 and 140, respectively. That data comes from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which tracks financial services for the marijuana industry by analyzing suspicious activity reports, or SARs, that institutions file in accordance with cannabis banking guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2014.
On Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5, cannabis advocates around the world participated in the Global Marijuana March as the event enters its 21st year. Also known as the Million Marijuana March, the first march was ignited in New York City in 1999 and has evolved into an annual rally usually held the first Saturday in May in different cities all over the globe. Toronto currently sees the largest turnout of marijuana marchers in North America. The event is complete with vendors, concerts and a number of high profile speakers. Attendees come decked out in cannabis-inspired costumes with colorful protest signs in hand. The initial purpose of the Marijuana March was to serve as a protest against the continued criminalization of marijuana and for people to be able to use cannabis without fear of imprisonment or other unfair legal sanctions.
Legalization of adult social use marijuana only began in 2012, yet it’s already a multi-billion dollar industry. As 2018 came to a close, a handful of large business deals point to the industry’s possible future. Legalization is inevitable. The shape it’s taking is still being determined. It’s like a boxing match, with cannabis culture in one corner and corporate capitalism in the other. It all depends on who can go the distance.