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Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
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- Tue, 20 Nov 2018 04:20:21 PST

Senate Majority Leader: Farm Bill Will Lift Federal Hemp Ban

Washington, DC: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reaffirmed on Friday that provisions lifting the federal prohibition of hemp will be included in the engrossed language of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill). The must-pass legislation is currently being debated by leadership in conference committee.

"If there's a Farm Bill, it'll be in there. I guarantee that," McConnell told reporters. He added: "I don't want to overstate this - I don't know if it's going to be the next tobacco or not - but I do think it has a lot of potential. And as all of you already know, in terms of food and medicine but also car parts. I mean, it's an extraordinary plant."

The hemp-specific provisions, which Sen. McConnell included in the Senate version of the bill, amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: 'Conforming changes to controlled substances act.')

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, permitting states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.

Lawmakers are seeking to finalize and pass the 2018 farm legislation prior to year's end.

Study: CBD-Rich Cannabis Mitigates Symptoms In Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Jerusalem, Israel: The daily administration of CBD-dominant cannabis extracts is associated with improved outcomes in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and severe behavioral problems, according to clinical data published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Israeli researchers assessed the efficacy of whole-plant cannabis extracts in a cohort of children with ASD. Participants were administered extracts containing a 20 to 1 ratio of CBD to THC for periods of 7 to 13 months.

Patients demonstrated "overall improvement in behavior, anxiety, and communication" following daily cannabis dosing. Just over half of the participants either reduced or ceased taking prescription medications during the trial period.

Authors concluded: "Following the cannabis treatment, behavioral outbreaks were much improved or very much improved in 61% of patients. … [T]he results of the current study render worthwhile further exploration of this treatment avenue in controlled studies."

Full text of the study, "Cannabidiol-rich cannabis in children with autism spectrum disorder and severe behavioral problems – A retrospective feasibility study," appears the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Incoming House Rules Chairman Pledges To Allow Floor Votes On Marijuana-Related Amendments

Washington, DC: Representative. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts) says that he will permit federal lawmakers to debate and vote on marijuana-related amendments when he assumes control of the House Rules Committee in 2019.

"Unlike my predecessor, I'm not going to block amendments for marijuana," he said. "Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind."

Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Colin Allred. Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. His actions single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms -- such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

"Representative Pete Sessions was the single greatest impediment in the US House to the passage of common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures," NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. "We look forward to working with Rep. McGovern and the other incoming Committee Chairs to enact a number of significant, NORML-endorsed policy changes in the 116th Congress."

Representative McGovern indicated that he would prioritize legislative measures that limit federal interference in legal marijuana states, expand medical cannabis access for veterans, and amend federal banking restrictions on the legal cannabis industry.

"This just seems like common-sense stuff," McGovern said. "Especially on the issue of medical marijuana -- people who are opposed to that are just on the wrong side of public opinion, overwhelmingly. It'd be nice if, every once in a while, Congress acted in a way that people wanted. I know that may seem like a radical idea, but come on."

Study: Adult Use Marijuana Laws Associated With Reduced Use Of Opioids

San Diego, CA: The enactment of state laws regulating the use of marijuana by adults is associated with a reduction in the use of schedule III opioid drugs among Medicaid enrollees, according to data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Investigators with the University of California, San Diego assessed the relationship between recreational marijuana access laws and opioid utilization among Medicaid enrollees.

Authors reported: "We found no evidence to support the concern that recreational marijuana legalization increased opioid prescriptions received by Medicaid enrollees. Instead, there was some evidence in some model specifications that the legalization might be associated with reduction in Schedule III opioids in states that implemented legalization in 2015."

By contrast, researchers did not identify an association between adult use access laws and the decreased use of schedule II opioids.

A prior study by the same authors reported that medical cannabis access laws were associated with a significant reduction in schedule III opioid prescriptions among Medicaid enrollees, but that the laws were not associated with any changes in the prescription use of schedule II opiate drugs. Authors speculated that this result may be because physicians are more reticent to recommend medical cannabis options to these patients.

The study's results are consistent with those of several others finding that legal cannabis access is associated with reduced levels of opioid use, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality.

Full text of the study, "Recreational marijuana legalization and prescription opioids received by Medicaid enrollees," appears in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. NORML's fact-sheet, "Relationship between marijuana and opioids," is online.

Illinois: Taxing Adult Marijuana Sales Would Yield $525 Million In Annual Revenue

La Grange, IL: Regulating the adult use and sale of marijuana to adults would yield an estimated $525 million dollars in new annual revenue, according to an economic analysis published by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.

Authors estimate that regulating marijuana would reallocate $18.4 million annually in law enforcement costs, while creating over 23,000 new jobs, and raising significant tax revenue.

"Legalizing, regulating, and taxing recreational marijuana would reduce costs to taxpayers, spur economic activity, create jobs, and shrink the black market," authors conclude. "While new tax revenues would be modest and would not solve Illinois' fiscal issues, they would improve the state's budget situation and credit rating outlook, fund investments in critical infrastructure and public education, and reduce criminal justice costs."

They add: "The benefits of legalization outweigh the social costs. While some legislators and constituents are concerned that legalizing recreational marijuana would increase consumption of other illicit drugs, increase motor vehicle crashes, and reduce workplace productivity, there is no evidence to support these claims."

Speaking with reporters last week, Governor-elect JB Pritzker pledged to move forward with adult use marijuana legalization "nearly right away," and also promised to consider taking action to vacate the arrest records of those previously convicted of certain marijuana-related offenses. During his campaign, Pritzker said, "In the name of criminal justice reform, consumer safety, and increased state revenue, Illinois needs a governor who is ready to legalize marijuana." He replaces Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Full text of the study, "The Financial Impact of Legalizing Marijuana in Illinois," is online.

Michigan: Gov-Elect Considering Using Clemency Powers To Free Those Incarcerated For Marijuana-Related Convictions

Lansing, MI: Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer (D) says that she will pursue executive action to free those incarcerated for certain marijuana-related violations and to expunge the records of those with past convictions.

Whitmer, who endorsed Michigan's adult use legalization initiative, defeated Republican candidate Bill Schuette. The initiative becomes law ten days after the midterm election results are certified.

"For conduct that would now we considered legal, no one should bear a lifetime record," Whitmer said at a news conference. "We will start taking a look at that and taking actions early next year."

Several other states -- including California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, and Rhode Island -- have enacted expungement laws following the passage of either marijuana decriminalization or legalization.

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