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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 17 Nov 2020 04:20:21 PST

House Leadership Pledges MORE Act Vote in December

Washington, DC: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has indicated that members will vote on legislation descheduling marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act in December. Members of Congress were initially scheduled to vote on the measure, The Marijuana, Opportunities, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act in September, but it was postponed because of ongoing negotiations between the House and Senate over a COVID economic stimulus package.

"The House committing to hold this vote this year on the MORE Act will send a clear message that the time is now to end the failed and cruel policy of marijuana criminalization," said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. "Americans have spoken loudly and clearly at the ballot box time and time again over the last 24 years that they are supportive of marijuana policy reform and the public deserves to know where their lawmakers stand."

Representative Hoyer provided a 'Dear Colleague' letter to members outlining priorities for the final weeks of the 116th Congress. He wrote, "[I]n December, ... the House will vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses that have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for credit and loans, and accessing opportunities that make it possible to get ahead in our economy."

Currently, the MORE Act has 118 cosponsors. The MORE Act removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act -- thus providing individual states with the authority to be the primary arbiters of cannabis policy and eliminating the existing conflict between state-level marijuana legalization policies and federal law.

The MORE Act would also make several other important changes to federal marijuana policy. For example, it permits physicians affiliated with the Veterans Administration for the first time to make medical cannabis recommendations to qualifying veterans who reside in legal states, and it incentivizes states to move ahead with expungement policies that will end the stigma and lost opportunities suffered by those with past, low-level cannabis convictions. The MORE Act also allows the Small Business Administration to support entrepreneurs and businesses as they seek to gain a foothold in this emerging industry.

In a separate 'Dear Colleague' letter issued by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), the duo wrote: "The recent success of cannabis reform in states around the country should give us a new sense of urgency to ensure Congress catches up with the American people. ... As we head into the lame-duck session, we must remember the promise we made to the American people to pass the MORE Act."

National polling finds that majorities of Democrat voters and Republican voters support the Act's passage.

Tell Your Lawmakers to VOTE YES on the MORE Act

Gallup: Record Percentage of Americans Say "Marijuana Should Be Made Legal"

Washington, DC: Nearly seven-in-ten Americans support legalizing the possession and use of marijuana by adults, according to nationwide polling data compiled and reported this week by Gallup.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents endorse legalization -- the highest percentage of support ever reported in a national Gallup poll. In 1969, when Gallup first began surveying the question, only twelve percent of Americans backed marijuana legalization. In 1996, when California voters became the first state in the nation to legalize cannabis for medical use, 25 percent of Americans said that marijuana should be legal for those ages 21 and older. Since 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for adults, public support for legalization has risen nationally some 20 percentage points. Legalization has enjoyed majority support among Americans since 2013.

According to Gallup, adult-use legalization holds majority support among Americans in every age group, including those ages 65 and older (55 percent). By contrast, only 48 percent of Republicans endorsed legalization, a dip in support from past years. Eighty-three percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Independents say that "marijuana should be made legal."

The poll results were released just days after voters in four states: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota overwhelmingly decided in favor of statewide ballot measures legalizing the adult use and retail sale of the plant, yet the survey was conducted prior to the election.

"There is no buyer's remorse on the part of the American people. In the era of state-level legalization, voters' support for this issue has grown rapidly -- an indication that these policy changes have been successful and are comporting with voters' desires and expectations." NORML's Executive Director Erik Altieri said. "Today, voters of every age and in virtually every region of the country agree that marijuana should be legal. We have a mandate from the American people and we intend to make sure that elected officials abide by it."

Clinical Trial: Hemp-Derived Products Containing THC Levels Below Federal Standards Trigger Positive Drug Test Results

Boston, MA: The daily ingestion of hemp-derived CBD products containing trace levels of THC can trigger a positive drug test result for marijuana, according to clinical trial data published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

A team of researchers affiliated with Harvard Medical School assessed the toxicological screens of 14 subjects who consumed hemp-derived CBD products daily over a four-week period. The CBD products were lab-tested and contained THC levels below federal standards (no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis.)

At the end of the trial period, 50 percent of the subjects tested positive for the presence of the carboxy-THC metabolite on a urinary drug screen.

Authors concluded: "[T]hese findings have important public health implications. It is often assumed individuals using hemp-derived products will test negative for THC. Current results indicate this may not be true, especially if assays are more sensitive than advertised, underscoring the potential for adverse consequences, including loss of employment and legal or treatment ramifications, despite the legality of hemp-derived products."

The ingestion of CBD products absent any presence of THC will not trigger a positive drug test result because CBD is not converted into carboxy-THC following metabolization.

Currently, the US Navy bans servicemembers from using CBD products out of concern that doing so may expose them to trace levels of THC.

Full text of the study, "Urinary tetrahydrocannabinol after 4 weeks of a full-spectrum, high-cannabidiol treatment in an open-label clinical trial," appears in JAMA Psychiatry.

Case Reports: CBD Skin Cream Mitigates Chronic Back Pain

San Diego, CA: The use of a hemp-derived CBD cream is associated with analgesic effects in subjects with chronic back pain, according to case reports published in the Journal of Opioid Management.

A team of investigators affiliated with the University of California, San Diego, and Louisiana State University's School of Medicine reported on the use of a commercially available, transdermal formulation of CBD (Baskin Essentials Body Wellness Cream) in two subjects with chronic back pain. Both subjects reported experiencing "significant symptom and pain relief" in the afflicted areas in the hours immediately following their use of the cream. Pain relief was reported for a period of between eight- and ten-hours following CBD application.

Researchers concluded: "This case series suggests that CBD may have antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects on opioid-naive patients with neuropathic and radicular pain. ... [W]e believe further investigation is warranted to see if these products have a role in the treatment of acute and chronic pain."

Data published last year by researchers affiliated with the University of Louisville reported that chronic pain patients who consumed CBD-rich soft-gel caps over an eight-week period experienced less pain, improved sleep, and reduced their intake of opioids.

Full text of the study, "Cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment of acute and chronic back pain: A case series and literature review," appears in the Journal of Opioid Management.

New Zealand: Voters Narrowly Reject Marijuana Legalization Referendum

Wellington, New Zealand: Voters narrowly rejected a nationwide referendum that sought legalize the possession and use of cannabis by those age 20 or older.

Just under 49 percent of voters supported the measure, while 51 percent of voters decided 'no' on the binding referendum. Although New Zealanders voted on the measure in mid-October during their general election, the final vote tally was only officially announced late last week.

Newly re-elected Prime Minister Jacinda Ardem recently acknowledged that she had voted in favor of the measure. She had refused to provide her personal opinion on the referendum prior to the election. The PM says that she will not pursue similar legislation legislatively, stating, "New Zelanders have made up their own minds" against legalization.

The referendum, which was endorsed by NORML New Zealand, would have mandated lawmakers to establish rules and regulations permitting the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products.

Chris Fowlie, a spokesperson for New Zealand NORML, expressed hope that lawmakers will nonetheless advance some type of marijuana law reforms. "[W]ith such a close vote, we will need compromise and consensus," he said. "[T]here must still be reforms, just not this Bill in that form."

Under New Zealand law, the adult use of marijuana is criminalized, punishable by up to three months in jail.

California: Dozens of Cities Vote in Favor of Municipal Initiatives Licensing Marijuana Retailers

Sacramento, CA: Voters in dozens of cities and counties throughout the state approved municipal measures on election day licensing marijuana-related businesses in their localities.

Although California law legalizes retail cannabis production and sales, localities can enact municipal measures banning commercial activities. According to a 2020 economic study, an estimated 75 percent of California cities and counties have imposed local bans – depriving the state of significant revenue.

Overall, voters decided on 38 measures in 36 cities or counties. Most of the measures were passed by voters. ""It's great to see California voters continuing to see the benefits of legal cannabis businesses in their cities and counties," said Ellen Komp, Deputy Director of California NORML. "Legal businesses bring in sales taxes, payroll taxes, jobs, and economic stimulus while reducing crime and providing safe, tested products to consumers."

According to data provided by California NORML, there have been over 200 ballot measures addressing cannabis in local elections in the past decade; some 90 percent of them have passed.

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