Schumer discusses cannabis plans at 4/20 event in Capitol (Newsletter: April 21, 2023)

MN House legalization vote scheduled; WI GOP medical cannabis plan; NY Senate cannabis committee; NC psychedelics; Afroman suit; Brands embrace 4/20

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other members of Congress detailed their plans for marijuana reform at a 4/20 event inside the U.S. Capitol. Additionally, Schumer filed a motion to bring a veterans cannabis research bill to the floor next week.

The Minnesota House of Representatives will vote on Monday on a marijuana legalization bill that has cleared 15 panels in the chamber this session. The sponsor of companion legislation in the Senate said a floor vote in that body is expected soon as well.

The New York Senate formed a new Subcommittee on Cannabis.

Wisconsin’s Assembly speaker announced that Republican lawmakers have been meeting to craft a medical cannabis bill—but Democrats are skeptical of the plan, speculating that it will be overly restrictive on patients.

North Carolina lawmakers filed a bill to create a $5 million grant program to support research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA and to create a Breakthrough Therapies Research Advisory Board to oversee the effort.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Ohio chapter filed an amicus brief defending hip hop artist Afroman from a lawsuit brought by police who are upset he used footage of their marijuana raid on his home in a music video.

Members of Congress, state lawmakers, other elected officials and government agencies marked the marijuana holiday 4/20 with a series of posts pledging to support reform and reminding consumers of current laws.

Brands, celebrities and organizations used the cannabis holiday 4/20 as a marketing opportunity again this year.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Last Prisoner Project, Cannabis Voter Project and Ben & Jerry’s launched new campaigns to encourage President Joe Biden and state governors to grant relief to people who are behind bars or have criminal records for cannabis.

/ FEDERAL

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre joked that she didn’t know what 4/20 is when a reporter wished her a “happy 4/20” at the start of a briefing.

Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Anne Milgram is reportedly being investigated by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General for potentially improperly awarding millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to hire past associates.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said his panel will hold a hearing on cannabis banking legislation, but that criminal justice reform components it will presumably be paired with for floor action would need to go through the Judiciary Committee separately.

Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) spoke at a 4/20 event organized by prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

The House bill to facilitate state marijuana expungements got three new cosponsors for a total of four.

The House bill to undo the 280E tax penalty on marijuana businesses got two new cosponsors for a total of seven.

/ STATES

Ohio’s Senate president said that if he has “anything to say about it, we’re not going to vote on recreational marijuana.”

The Florida Senate Fiscal Policy Committee amended a hemp product regulation bill to match a House companion by removing THC caps and a ban on synthetic derived cannabinoids.

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on House-passed marijuana legalization and other cannabis reform bills.

Tennessee’s House Republican Caucus vice chair was found guilty of sexually harassing at least one legislative intern by an ethics subcommittee, with one victim claiming he offered to give her cannabis gummies to see her tattoos and piercings.

North Carolina representatives filed a bill to officially designate April 20 as “420 Day” and require the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services to pardon 20 percent of inmates convicted of simple marijuana possession every year.

An Alaska representative discussed his bill to remove marijuana convictions from public records as well as from some state background checks.

A Virginia delegate tweeted, “Cannabis is legal in VA but we don’t yet have a legal market because of Republican opposition. We need to ensure that any legalization framework is structured to benefit small businesses & communities most harmed by prohibition, not just big corporations.”

New York regulators are accepting public comments on proposed cannabis research rules.

Connecticut regulators are putting additional cannabis business licensing lotteries on hold.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority began accepting applications for its Cannabis Equity Grant Program.

The Colorado Department of Transportation gave marijuana edibles to volunteers as part of a workshop to train police on the observable signs and symptoms of impairment.

Virginia regulators hosted a town hall meeting about cannabis laws.

California regulators launched a newsletter about cannabis issues.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 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

Austin, Texas’s police chief spoke about marijuana enforcement policies.

The Missoula County, Montana Planning Board approved zoning regulations for marijuana growers and retailers.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Finland’s Parliament will consider a citizen’s initiative to legalize marijuana after it cleared the required  50,000 signature mark on 4/20.

German officials amended a frequently asked questions page to clarify that the government intends for the first part of its marijuana legalization plan to “come into force in 2023 if possible” rather than in 2024.

The Canadian Veterans Affairs Subcommittee heard testimony on the benefits of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.

Argentina’s minister of science, technology and innovation highlighted a medical cannabis research project.

A UK member of Parliament is pushing the government to ease barriers to medical cannabis access.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “cannabis products with lower THC/CBD ratios were found to reduce anxiety and disturbed sleep for cancer survivors.”

A study concluded that “de facto decriminalization may be a promising strategy to reduce exposure to the carceral system, an established risk factor for overdose and other drug-related sequalae and driver of racial disparities in the US.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

Marijuana Moment’s Kyle Jaeger discussed the prospects for cannabis reform on WNYC’s The Takeaway.

The National Cannabis Industry Association laid off staff on the eve of 4/20.

The San Antonio Police Officers’ Association’s political action committee is campaigning against a local ballot measure to decriminalize marijuana, restrict enforcement of abortion laws and make other reforms.

Prohibitionist organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana published a report claiming that “as the nation reels from an overdose and addiction crisis, a new report released today shows that commercialized marijuana products are making the situation much worse.”

The New Hampshire Union Leader editorial board is urging lawmakers to reject marijuana legalization.

/ BUSINESS

Simplifya is teaming up with insurance carriers and brokers servicing the cannabis industry to launch a new effort called the Risk Mitigation Alliance.

Dutchie’s point-of-sale platform for marijuana dispensaries was down for part of 4/20.

/ CULTURE

Woody Harrelson met with members of Congress to discuss cannabis and restorative agriculture.

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