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National Polling Shows Strong Bipartisan Support for Legalization

Asbury Park, NJ: Nearly two-thirds of US adults, including 54 percent of Republicans, support 'the national legalization of marijuana," according to polling data compiled and released this week by Rasmussen Reports.

Overall, 62 percent of respondents expressed support for legalization – a percentage that is consistent with prior national polls. Only 23 percent of respondents voiced opposition to legalizing cannabis. Last week, national polling data provided by Gallup reported that 68 percent of Americans endorse making the use of marijuana legal.

Similar to previous surveys, Rasmussen reported that 50 percent of US adults acknowledged having personally tried cannabis.

Commenting on the latest polling data, NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: 'Voters' support legalizing marijuana regardless of political party affiliation. At a time when politics remain acutely polarized, elected officials ought to come together in a bipartisan manner to repeal the failed policy of cannabis prohibition. It is one of the few policy reforms that voters on the right and on the left can all agree upon."

Report: Legal Cannabis Among Nation's Most Valuable Crops

Seattle, WA: Cannabis cultivated in 20202 for the state-legal adult-use market possessed a wholesale harvest value of more than $6 billion, ranking it among the nation's most valuable crops, according to an analysis.

Nationwide, state-legal cannabis ranks fifth among America's most valuable crops – trailing only corn, soybeans, hay, and wheat. In five states – Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon – cannabis grown for the adult-use market is the 'single most valuable crop."

Last year, 11 states licensed commercial marijuana growers to produce cannabis for the adult-use retail market. In those states, over 13,000 state-licensed farmers produced over 2,200 metric tons of cannabis, Leafly calculated.

'With US state cannabis prices ranging from about $500 to $3,000 per wholesale pound, you're looking at a crop worth $6.175 billion per year," the authors of the report estimated. 'As measured against US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, the value of America's legal cannabis crop ranks fifth nationwide, ahead of cotton."

Authors concluded: 'By refusing to recognize cannabis crops and cannabis farmers, the USDA ignores a fact that exists in plain sight: Cannabis is now a major agricultural commodity that supports thousands of American farmers, farm families, and farm communities."

Full text of the report, 'Leafly Cannabis Harvest Report 2021," is available online.

CRS Report: President Lacks Constitutional Authority to End Cannabis Prohibition by Executive Order

Washington, DC: Congressional lawmakers, not the President, possess the authority to declassify cannabis from the US Controlled Substances Act – thereby repealing federal marijuana prohibition, affirms a newly issued report by the Congressional Research Service.

The report indicates that the President does not possess unilateral authority to amend drug policies – stating: 'The CSA does not provide a direct role for the President in the classification of controlled substances, nor does Article II of the Constitution grant the President power in this area. ... Thus, it does not appear that the President could directly deschedule or reschedule marijuana by executive order."

However, the President can engage in various activities that can influence federal marijuana policies and their enforcement – such as directing the Department of Justice 'to exercise its discretion not to prosecute some or all marijuana-related offenses." Last month, Senators Corey Booker and Elizabeth Warren drafted a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to 'initiate the process to decriminalize cannabis." The Office has not yet provided a response.

The President also possesses the discretion to issue mass pardons and/or to provide general amnesty to a class of people, such as those with criminal records for federal marijuana violations. Earlier this year, dozens of members of Congress signed on to a letter calling for the President to 'issue a general pardon to all former, federal, non-violent cannabis offenders in the United States."

By contrast, on the explicit issue of changing the status of a controlled substance or the punishment for controlled substances offenses, 'Congress unquestionably holds the power to amend the CSA to reschedule or deschedule a controlled substance or change applicable penalties." Several pieces of legislation to do so are currently pending in Congress. Last year, members of the House of Representatives voted in favor of one such bill, The MORE Act, to remove marijuana from the CSA. That language was never taken up by the US Senate.

Commenting on the report, NORML's Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: 'NORML has long argued that the President can set the tone for the national political discussion surrounding marijuana, but that the office lacks the unilateral authority to repeal marijuana prohibition via the stroke of a pen. That authority primarily lies with the 535 members of Congress and sweeping federal changes will likely only occur when a majority of members from both chambers advance legislation to the President's desk. That is why constituents need to continue to pressure their members of Congress to advance this issue and to support legislative efforts to end the federal criminalization of cannabis."

Full text of the CRS report – 'Does the President Have the Power to Legalize Marijuana?" – is online. NORML's memorandum, 'Federal Marijuana Prohibition Can Only Be Repealed by Descheduling, Not Rescheduling, Cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act," appears online.

Analysis: Grey Market Delta-8 Products Frequently Mislabeled

Tustin, CA: The percentages of cannabinoids advertised on the labels of grey market delta-8 THC products is typically inaccurate, according to an analysis of products by an independent testing laboratory.

Of the 51 products analyzed, 77 percent possessed less delta-8 THC than advertised. Three-quarters of the products also contained higher levels of THC than permitted by federal law. Dozens of assessments of the potency and quality of unregulated, over-the-counter CBD products have revealed similar discrepancies.

Although delta-8 THC appears organically in cannabis, it is only produced in minute amounts. By contrast, the elevated quantities of delta-8 THC found in grey market products is the result of a chemical synthesis during which manufacturers convert CBD to delta-8 THC. Manufacturers engaged in synthetizing delta-8 THC are not regulated and may use potentially dangerous household products to facilitate this process.

Statements issued by the US Drug Enforcement Agency in the Federal Register in 2020 indicated that delta-8 THC products are federally illegal because they contain 'synthetically derived" cannabinoids. The substance is also among those explicitly identified as a Schedule I drug by the DEA. In recent months, lawmakers in several states have also taken steps to prohibit the manufacture and sale of such products.

Last month, NORML issued a report on delta-8 THC and other novel, synthetically derived cannabinoids that cautioned consumers to avoid these unregulated products because they are untested and may contain impurities.

Full text of NORML's report, 'NORML's Guide to Delta-8 THC and Other Novel Cannabinoids," appears online.

Federal Housing Authority to Continue to Take Punitive Actions Against Marijuana Consumers

Washington, DC: A representative with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) affirmed this week that the agency will continue to discriminate against those who use cannabis, including those who do so in compliance with state and local laws.

In a letter addressed to Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, the agency says that it will continue to enforce policies that involve the 'termination of the tenancy of any household" in instances where a tenant is found to have engaged in the use of a controlled substance while on the premises - 'including [the use of] state legalized medical marijuana."

Because cannabis remains classified under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance, 'HUD prohibits the admission of users of marijuana to HUD assisted housing, including those who use medical marijuana," the letter reads.

Representative Norton had contacted the agency in May, requesting that it 'use executive discretion to not enforce rules against marijuana use in federally assisted housing" in jurisdictions where cannabis use is state-regulated. 'Individuals living in federally assisted housing should not be denied admission, or face eviction, for using a legal product," her letter opined.

Representative Norton has long advocated for changes in HUD policies with respect to state-legal marijuana use and she is the sponsor of HR 3212: The Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act of 2021. Similar bills spearheaded by Rep. Holmes-Norton have failed to garner significant legislative support in past sessions of Congress.

NORML's Political Director Justin Strekal strongly criticized the federal agency's decision. 'It is a travesty that the Administration would prioritize process over people when it comes to the issue of fair housing. No one should be evicted or denied public housing simply because they use cannabis responsibly in private. With tens of millions of patients - many of them veterans - now using medical cannabis in compliance with state laws, federal actions must be taken to accommodate and reflect this reality."

A copy of the HUD letter is available online.

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