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After local officials decline to investigate Oregon marijuana operation, feds step in

Cannabist - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 16:53
Federal officials are investigating a marijuana processing facility in Oregon after an explosion there injured a man who was previously convicted in a money laundering operation linked to pot-trafficking.

Michigan marijuana "kingpin" gets 13 years in federal prison

Cannabist - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 15:27
A man described as the "kingpin" behind a marijuana operation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in federal prison.

Michigan issues emergency medical marijuana rules

Cannabist - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 15:02
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder issued emergency rules regulating medical marijuana businesses, less than two weeks before the state begins accepting license applications under a new regulatory system.

How the Supreme Court case on sports betting is related to marijuana legalization

Cannabist - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 00:53
In the justices' comments and questions about New Jersey's voter-approved law allowing sports betting, most touched on the same states’ rights theme.

Nevada gambling leaders grapple with future of cannabis in casinos

Cannabist - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 20:50
Nevada's Gaming Policy Committee is wrestling with how the state's casinos might deal with the cannabis business while not running afoul of federal law.

AG Jeff Sessions May Be Just a Few Days From Declaring War on the Legal Marijuana Industry

The Joint Blog - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 18:20

By Sean Williams, Motley Fool

When it comes to the fastest-growing industries in the United States, legal marijuana is certainly in the discussion, if not at the top of the list. According to Marijuana Business Daily’s latest report, “Marijuana Business Factbook 2017,” U.S. legal weed sales are expected to increase 30% this year and 45% in 2018, and to quadruple between 2016 and 2021 to $17 billion. That type of growth is a big reason why marijuana stocks have doubled or tripled in value over the trailing year.

But it’s not just sales growth that’s been impressive — it’s the shift that underlies cannabis’s expansion. An October-released Gallup poll showed that an all-time record 64% of respondents now want to see pot legalized nationally. This is up from just 25% in 1995, the year before California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis for compassionate-use patients. Even stronger favorability is seen with medical cannabis. A survey conducted by the independent Quinnipiac University this April showed that an overwhelming 94% support legalizing medical pot, compared to just 5% who oppose the idea.

Sessions loathes the marijuana industry but has been kept at bay

But not everyone is on board with the expansion of cannabis in the United States. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just might be the most ardent opponent of marijuana in the country. Having previously said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions has argued on numerous occasions that marijuana use isn’t a viable substitute for opioids and that pot use correlates with increased crime rates. He has also leaned on the fact that marijuana is still a schedule I drug at the federal level, meaning that it has no recognized medical benefits and is wholly illegal, just like heroin and LSD.

However, medical and recreational pot businesses have taken solace in the fact that both the Cole Memo and Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment have thus far protected their right to operate in the 29 states that have legalized medical cannabis and eight states that voted to green-light recreational weed.

The Cole Memo, named after former Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who served under Barack Obama, outlines a series of “rules” that states have to follow in order for the federal government to maintain a hands-off approach. These rules include ensuring that minors don’t gain access to pot, that drivers under the influence of cannabis are dealt with harshly, and that cannabis grown within a state stays within that state.

Meanwhile, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which was introduced in 2014 and has been included in every budget proposal since, disallows the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute marijuana businesses operating in the aforementioned 29 states.

But these protections may soon disappear, allowing Sessions to officially declare war on the U.S. pot industry.

Is this the end of the green rush in the U.S.?

In September, Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown by lifting the debt ceiling and passing a budget extension through Dec. 8, 2017. However, talks to formulate a new budget, or at least another extension, haven’t gone well in recent weeks. In just four days, the deadline could be hit without a new budget, leading to a government shutdown.

But there’s even more at stake for the marijuana industry.

Back in September, the House Rules Committee blocked a vote on the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (this is the same as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment), which would provide protections for pot businesses against federal prosecution. Keeping this amendment out of the House GOP’s budget proposal is bad news, but it’s certainly not the end of the world for the industry. As long as the Senate includes the amendment in its budget proposal, the pot industry would still be protected. Yet, as noted, the Senate and House, as well as Democrats and Republicans, aren’t seeing eye to eye. If Dec. 8 passes without a deal, or if the Senate introduces a budget proposal that also excludes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, Sessions would be free to wage war on the marijuana industry and begin prosecuting companies. In other words, he could use federal dollars to go after marijuana businesses.
Furthermore, Sessions recently announced that the Justice Department would halt the practice of guidance memos and is reviewing the Obama administration’s guidance memos, including the Cole Memo, to see if the administration overstepped its bounds.

While it’s tough to tell exactly how Sessions would approach reinstituting federal law, the assumption is that he would first tackle the largest offenders (i.e., the largest marijuana grow farms). This would suggest that smaller grow farms and dispensaries would possibly be off the radar for some time, but it would be a crushing defeat for big business and investors who’ve taken a chance on marijuana stocks.

In other words, let the nail-biting begin for U.S.-based pot companies and marijuana-stock investors.

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After Years of Delay, Medical Marijuana Sales Begin in Maryland

The Joint Blog - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 23:01
Maryland began the sale of medical marijuana on Friday, ending years of delays.

Dozens of people stood outside a licensed dispensary, Potomac Holistics, where owners began making sales soon after receiving their first shipment Friday afternoon, according to the Associated Press. William Askinazi, one of the owners, said people who work at the store were euphoric that the day had finally arrived.

“You can tell there’s a buzz, and we’re excited for so many reasons,” Askinazi said. “We’re giving care to people who need it.”

A long line of people cheered late Friday as sales began.

Denise Broyhill was among the first in the door to buy marijuana tablets. She said she was upbeat and relieved after years of delays by authorities in making medical marijuana available in the state. A resident of the state capital city of Annapolis, Broyhill also said she hoped for good results managing the pain from a neurological condition.

“I’m very excited to try it and relieved to get through the whole process after waiting so long,” Broyhill said. “It’s been a longtime, but I’m looking to have some good pain management.”

Maryland approved its first medical marijuana law in 2013. But the effort stalled because it required academic medical centers to run the programs, and none stepped forward. The law was changed in 2014 to allow doctors certified by a state medical cannabis commission to recommend marijuana for patients with debilitating, chronic and severe illnesses.

While the initial rollout was initially expected to be limited due to available supply, Askinazi said he expected to see between 600 and 1,000 patients over the next three days.

Patrick Allison, of Annapolis, was also among the first in line. He said he suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that causes inflammation of the spinal joints that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort.

“It’s about time,” Allison said. “I live in chronic pain. You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m about an eight right now on a scale of one to 10, head to toe. The only thing that works for me is marijuana.”

David Johnson, of Frederick, said he was relieved that he could now have access to medical marijuana to ease pain from nerve damage. He said he’s tired of driving in pain to pharmacies in search of opioids.

“It’s been a nightmare,” he said. “This is a godsend.”

Medical marijuana will be available for any condition that is severe in which other medical treatments have been ineffective, and if the symptoms “reasonably can be expected to be relieved” by marijuana. Patients with a chronic or debilitating medical condition that causes severe appetite loss, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe muscle spasms also can have access, as well as people with glaucoma or post-traumatic stress disorder.

“In Maryland, there are very liberal qualifying conditions,” Askinazi said.

Even further, Maryland will allow not only physicians but nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists and nurse midwives to certify patients as eligible to receive marijuana. People authorized to recommend the use of medical marijuana will be able to do so for patients from other states who travel to Maryland.

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Trump hands Health and Human Services to Big Pharma

The Leaf Online - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 09:14

Candidate Trump promised to legalize medical marijuana and “drain the swamp.” Subsequently he appointed a bevy of executives of Goldman Sachs executives to his administration and an anti-marijuana fanatic as Attorney General, betraying the trust of his constituents. Dealing drugs has been very profitable for Pharma — as well as a major factor behind the […]

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Obama Back to Consuming Marijuana, Claims New Book

The Joint Blog - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 07:03
According to a new book by author Ed Klein, former editor-in-chief of the New York Times, former-President Barack Obama is once again consuming marijuana on a regular basis.

According to Klein’s new book All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump, a friend of Obama told him that “Barack sees himself as sort of a hipster ex-president, a cool guy… He wants to go back in terms of fashion and style to his pot-smoking days as a member of the Choom Gang at the Punahou School in Hawaii.” The “Choom Gang” is a reference to a group of friends Obama smoked cannabis with in college. Obama admitted to previously using cannabis in his memoir Dreams From My Father (2005).

According to Klein’s book, Obama has made a decided effort to not lead a “resistance” against President Trump. Instead, the book claims, the former president spends much of his time; “playing video games, chatting on the phone with celebrity pals, smoking marijuana and popping cannabis-infused gummy bears.”

The supposed friend of Obama told Klein that “He gets the weed from friends who visit him.. I was told he keeps a small stash in his bedroom. He has rolling papers and hasn’t forgotten how to roll a joint. Sometimes he’ll smoke in his bedroom, and sometimes in the backyard. But mostly he does it when he’s traveling.”

Apparently, however, Obama has been shifting to edibles; “At one point, he became so concerned about people smelling pot around Kalorama that he asked friends to get him some edible stuff,” the friend told Klein. “They got him brownies, cookies, and gummy bears infused with THC.”

Klein is not only the previous editor-in-chief of the New York Times, he’s a former editor for Newsweek.

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Study: State Medical Cannabis Laws Significantly Reduce Alcohol Sales

The Joint Blog - Sat, 12/02/2017 - 06:06
States that have legalized medical cannabis have seen a 15% drop in alcohol sales on average, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University.

For the study, researchers used data “on purchases of alcoholic beverages in grocery, convenience, drug, or mass distribution stores in US counties for 2006-2015 to study the link between medical marijuana laws and alcohol consumption and focus on settling the debate between the substitutability or complementarity between marijuana and alcohol.” To do this they exploited the differences in the timing of the of marijuana laws among states and find that these two substances are substitutes.

“Counties located in MML states reduced monthly alcohol sales by 15 percent”, states the study’s abstract. “Our findings are robust to border counties analysis, a placebo effective dates for MMLs in the treated states, and falsification tests using sales of pens and pencils.”

The full study, published by SSRN, can be found by clicking here.

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Marijuana Sales Becomes Legal in California Next Month

The Joint Blog - Sat, 12/02/2017 - 02:41
We’re now just a month away from marijuana distribution becoming legal in California.

During the November, 2016 elections California voters approved an initiative (Proposition 64) to legalize marijuana for everyone 21 and older,. The portion of the initiative that allows for the start of marijuana distribution officially takes effect the beginning of next month, on January 1st. Under the new law, those 21 and older will be allowed to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana from a license marijuana retail outlet. However, at this point it’s unknown how many outlets will actually be open coming the new year.

“I know this sounds crazy, but we’re looking forward to Jan. 1,” says Lori Ajax, head of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. “This is what we’ve been waiting for, what we’ve been training for,” she said. “It’s time.”

Ajax expects the Bureau’s online application system to be open in December, with temporary licenses being e-mailed to retailers before the new year. The licenses will become valid on January 1st, the first day of legal sales.

California is one of eight states across the U.S. that has legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.

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Study: Cannabis May Help Treat Acute Kidney Injury

The Joint Blog - Sat, 12/02/2017 - 00:51
Activation of the body’s CB2 receptors – something done naturally through the consumption of cannabis – may help treat acute kidney injury, according to a new study published by the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

“Ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) is a common cause of acute kidney injury (AKI), which is an increasing problem in the clinic and has been associated with increased rates of mortality”, states the study’s abstract. “Currently, therapies to treat AKI are not available, so identification of new targets which, upon diagnosis of AKI, can be modulated to ameliorate renal damage is essential.” In this study, “a novel cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) agonist, SMM-295 [meant to mimic the effects of natural cannabinoids], was designed, synthesized, and tested in vitro and in silico. In vivo testing of the CB2 agonist was performed using a mouse model of bilateral IRI, which is a common model to mimic human AKI.”

“Histological damage assessment 48 hours after reperfusion demonstrated reduced tubular damage in the presence of SMM-295”, claim researchers. “This was consistent with the reduced plasma markers of renal dysfunction, i.e., creatinine and NGAL, in SMM-295 treated mice. Mechanistically, kidneys treated with SMM-295 were shown to have elevated activation of Akt with reduced TUNEL-positive cells compared to vehicle-treated kidney following IRI.”

The study concludes by stating; “These data suggests that selective CB2 receptor activation could be a potential therapeutic target in the treatment for AKI.”

The full study, conducted by researchers at the University of Mississippi and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, can be found by clicking here.

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Study: Alcohol Sales Fall Following Cannabis Legalization

NORML Blog - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 20:18

Sales of alcoholic beverages decline following the enactment of medical marijuana access laws, according to a working paper authored by a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University.

Authors evaluated the relationship between medical marijuana laws and retail alcohol sales for more than 2,000 US counties for the years 2006 to 2015. Alcohol sales trends in medical cannabis states were compared to sales trends in states where cannabis remained illegal. Researchers determined that counties located in medical cannabis states, on average, experienced a reduction in monthly alcohol sales of 15 percent.

Researchers concluded: “We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes. … States legalizing medical marijuana use experience significant decreases in the aggregate sale of alcohol, beer and wine. Moreover, the effects are not short-lived, with significant reductions observed up to 24 months after the passage of the law.”

Consumer trend data from California reports that those with legal access to cannabis frequently reduce their alcohol intake. A 2016 analysis of beer sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington reported that retail sales “collectively underperformed” in the years following the enactment of adult use marijuana regulation.

Full text of the study, “Helping settle the marijuana and alcohol debate: Evidence from scanner data,” appears online here.

Federal protection for medical marijuana ends in a week

The Leaf Online - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 15:26

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment is set to expire on December 8. This critical federal appropriations amendment prohibits the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. Drug Policy Action has a URL for you to tell your elected representatives to renew the measure. For patients and caregivers using some form of […]

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Republic of Georgia Decriminalizes Cannabis After Court Rules Criminalization to be Unconstitutional

The Joint Blog - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 04:35
The Republic of Georgia’s constitutional court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to criminally prosecute someone for consuming cannabis.

“Cannabis consumption has been decriminalized today,” says attorney Iago Khvichia, who represents the political party Girchi. “It will soon be decided whether [consumption] will be legalized”. The ruling doesn’t, however, effect the distribution of cannabis.

The ruling comes from a case brought forth by Givi Shanidze, a Georgia citizen who has been charged with several cannabis consumption offenses; Shanidze’s case was an attempt to have these charges cleared from his criminal record.

The ruling from the court comes several months after a July 14th ruling which found that the cultivation of up to 151 grams of cannabis for personal use isn’t a criminal offense.

The court’s ruling now heads to Georgia’s Parliament to be finalized into law.

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Wisconsin Governor Signs Hemp Legalization Bill Into Law

The Joint Blog - Fri, 12/01/2017 - 03:00
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has signed an industrial hemp legalization bill into law.

The legislation, introduced by Republican Representative Jesse Kremer, was passed unanimously by the Wisconsin House of Representatives and Senate, before being signed into law Thursday by Governor Walker. Under the proposed farmers who receive a license from the state would be legally authorized to cultivate and produce hemp. Hemp would be defined as having 0.3% or less tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis and in small amounts in hemp plants. Farmers with a prior drug conviction would not be eligible to receive a hemp license.

With Governor Walker’s signature, Wisconsin has joined the over 30 states that have legalized hemp on the state level, despite it remaining illegal federally.

According to congressional research, the United States imports roughly half a billion dollars in hemp from other countries (primarily Canada and China) while retaining the illegality of its cultivation amongst its own farmers. The same research estimates the hemp market to consist of over 25,000 various products.

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Minnesota Adds Autism and Obstructive Sleep Apnea as Qualifying Medical Cannabis Conditions

The Joint Blog - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 22:31
Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger announced today that the state will be adding autism spectrum disorders and obstructive sleep apnea as new qualifying conditions for the state’s medical cannabis program.

“Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence,” said Commissioner Ehlinger. “However, there is increasing evidence for potential benefits of medical cannabis for those with severe autism and obstructive sleep apnea.”

This year, as in years past, the Minnesota Department of Health used a formal petitioning process to solicit public input on potential qualifying conditions. Throughout June and July, Minnesotans were invited to submit petitions to add qualifying conditions. The process included public comments, a citizens’ review panel and a set of research summaries for each condition prepared by Minnesota Department of Health staff. Petitioners put forward a total of 10 conditions for consideration this year, including anxiety disorders, autism, cortico-basal degeneration, dementia, endogenous cannabinoid deficiency syndrome, liver disease, nausea, obstructive sleep apnea, Parkinson’s disease and peripheral neuropathy. There were also petitions to add cannabis delivery methods including infused edibles and vaporizing or smoking cannabis flowers. Unfortunately these requests were not approved.

Autism spectrum disorder, which was approved, is characterized by sustained social impairments in communication and interactions, and repetitive behaviors, interests or activities. Patients certified for the program because of autism must meet the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th edition) for autism.  The health department’s autism research brief (PDF) found a growing body of research indicating that the human body’s endocannabinoid system may play a role in autism symptoms. In support of adding autism, the review panel report (PDF) noted the lack of effective drug treatments, the potentially severe side effects of current drug treatments and anecdotal evidence of Minnesota children with autism already receiving benefits from medical cannabis taken for other qualifying conditions.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder involving repeated episodes of reduced airflow caused by a complete or partial collapse of the upper airway during sleep. Patients certified for the program because of obstructive sleep apnea must meet published diagnostic criteria for the condition, including interpretation of a formal sleep study.  Over time, sleep apnea can result in long-term health effects such as hypertension and cardiovascular problems, reduced cognitive function, decreased mood and quality of life, impaired performance at work and while driving, and even premature death. The review panel and the health department’s research brief (PDF) identified some scientific evidence of effectiveness of cannabis treatments. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a very effective treatment already in use, but people with the condition often struggle to stick with that therapy.

Under current state rules, patients certified to have autism or obstructive sleep apnea will be newly eligible to enroll in the program on July 1, 2018 and receive medical cannabis from the state’s two medical cannabis manufacturers beginning Aug. 1, 2018. As with the program’s other qualifying conditions, patients will need advance certification from a Minnesota health care provider. More information on the program’s certification process is available from the Office of Medical Cannabis.

When the 2014 Minnesota Legislature authorized the creation of a medical cannabis program, the law included a set of nine medical conditions that would qualify a person to receive medical cannabis. State rules also direct the commissioner of health to consider the possible addition of other qualifying conditions and delivery methods. The list of current qualifying conditions includes:

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Glaucoma
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year
  • Intractable pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders (effective July 1, 2018)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (effective July 1, 2018)

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CN BC: Federal Government Releases Draft Cannabis Legislation

MAP - Hemp - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 08:00
The Valley Voice, 30 Nov 2017 - The Liberal government has released its draft legislation for Bill C-45, known in shorthand as the 'Cannabis Act' for legalizing marijuana. And according to Kootenay Outdoor Producers Cooperative co-founder Todd Veri, it's better than just good news for small producers - it's everything they'd hoped for. "Our big concern was that they wouldn't allow outdoor growing or that they'd make life impossible for the co-operative model," says Veri. "Based on the report the government put together last year, we believed the government was going to go in the right direction but might need a nudge from us. It seems they took into account our documentation - we had five or six points we wanted to address and they addressed them all in the draft legislation."

Hey, California! Got A Marijuana Record? Want It Cleared? L.A., Saturday, Dec. 2

Toke Signals - Wed, 11/29/2017 - 23:34

Saturday: Free Expungement Fair in Los Angeles for People Clearing or Reducing Marijuana Records   Thanks to CA Legalization Initiative, Thousands Have Already Taken Advantage of Expungement Provisions, but Tens of Thousands More Could Still Benefit On Saturday, December 2, there will be an expungement fair in Los Angeles for people who are looking to […]

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Bipartisan Letter To Congressional Leadership Urges Continued Protections For Medical Marijuana Programs

NORML Blog - Wed, 11/29/2017 - 20:24

Today, sixty-six members of Congress representing both Republicans and Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Ryan, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Pelosi, and Leader Schumer urging them to maintain the federal protections for the 46 states that have implemented some form of medical cannabis programs throughout the country.

This comes on the same day the Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference to discuss America’s opioid epidemic and made disparaging comments about marijuana.

“We’re working on that very hard right now,” Sessions said on Wednesday. “We had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length. It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental and we should not give encouragement in any way to it. And it represents a federal violation which is in the law and is subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges that we face.”

From Rep. Rohrabacher’s press release:

Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) spearheaded a letter, signed by 64 other members of the House of Representatives, urging House and Senate leadership to ensure the inclusion of medical marijuana protections in any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond December 8, 2017. The provision, previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr,” and now “Rohrabacher-Blumenauer,” bars the Department of Justice from using appropriated funds to prosecute individuals who are acting in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana laws. The provision was first signed into law in December 2014 as part of a larger spending package, and has been in force ever since.

Reps Rohrabacher and Blumenauer are both co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

In September, President Donald Trump reached an agreement with Congressional leadership to enact a three-month continuing resolution that maintains present federal spending levels and priorities through December 8, 2017, which included the amendment that was passed in the previous session of Congress.

Congressional leadership must reauthorize this language as part of the forthcoming budget in order for the provisions to stay in effect. In July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered identical language before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved it. However, House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) has refused to allow House members to vote on similar language. The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled.

It is imperative that the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment remain the law of the land and AG Sessions not be given the green-light to enact a crackdown. Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers and urge them to speak out about the need to protect the 2 million registered medical marijuana patients throughout the country.

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