New Model Ordinances Envisioned to Promote Small Businesses and Inclusivity


This week, the Minority Cannabis Business Association unveiled their Municipal Ordinance model on how localities can administer new business licenses in a fashion that promote minority entrepreneurs and ensure that the emerging industry will not be dominated by a flood on new investors who have not been harmed by the consequences of prohibition.

As states continue dialing back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were most negatively impacted by our oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied as best as possible and be given the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. With states beginning to define this new industry, the newly created licensing bodies should prioritize ease of access to the market for consumers and those who were previously targeted by anti-marijuana laws, in addition to supporting small businesses and diversity over corporate greed.

“The Model Ordinance is a statement from the communities we represent to the local lawmakers, regulators, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders who are building our nation’s cannabis industry one town at time–social equity is not only possible, it should be the industry standard moving forward. Our work gives those actors the tools they need to make equity a present reality in our industry rather than a lost opportunity,” said Khurshid Khoja, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee.

Communities of color have disproportionately suffered for decades because of our racist enforcement of marijuana laws and that must be addressed in the age of legalization through policies such as these equity programs and expungement of previous charges. Historically, African-Americans are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rates of whites, yet both ethnicities consume marijuana at roughly the same rates.

Specifically, the American Civil Liberties Union report The War on Marijuana In Black and White (2013) concluded: “[O]n average, a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates. Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural, wealthy and poor, and with large and small Black populations. Indeed, in over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 people in which at least 2% of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.”

“With this ordinance urban centers across the country will be able to access the economic opportunities created by equity programs and we look forward to supporting that work across the country,” Jason Ortiz, Co-chair of the MCBA Policy Committee and Vice President of MCBA said of their new model ordinance.

You can find the MCBA Model Ordinance to share with your local lawmakers HERE.

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Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization is Closer than Ever


After months of negotiation, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and state lawmakers have reached a deal on what will be included in upcoming legislation to legalize the adult-use and retail sale of marijuana in the Garden State.

Some highlights include expedited expungement for past misdemeanor marijuana convictions, a three-percent tax to be collected by or paid to municipalities wherever retail stores exist, and provisions to incentivize socio-economic, racial, and gender equity in the state’s cannabis industry.

Though this is a monumental step towards expanding personal freedoms for New Jerseyans, the fight is not over. The bill, yet to be released, still needs to garner enough support in the New Jersey state legislature in order to get to Governor Murphy’s desk. We need urgent action from New Jersey residents to make adult-use cannabis legalization a reality in the Garden State.

New Jersey ranks second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color — who are arrested in New Jersey for violating marijuana possession laws at approximately three times the rate of whites — financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, and engenders disrespect for the law.

It’s time for New Jersey to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of its residents by joining the 10 states (and Washington DC) that have passed sensible marijuana reform.

Click here to send an urgent letter to your state legislators in support of adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey.

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New York Legislature Signals Support for Marijuana Legalization


In news that bodes well for the future of cannabis legalization in the state of New York, both chambers of the state legislature have included legalization language in their annual budget proposals.

Both budget proposals also address the expedited expungement of certain marijuana-related convictions, implementing social equity programs in the state’s growing marijuana industry, and diverting tax money earned through the legal cannabis industry to benefit communities that have borne the brunt of the most brutal aspects of marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs in New York.

Though Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal does not allow for the personal cultivation of marijuana plants, the NY General Assembly’s budget proposal does promote home cultivation upon the legalization of adult-use and retail sale of cannabis in the state.

If home cultivation is included in final legislation and is signed into law by the governor, New York would help reinvigorate legislative support for the practice, which has waned considerably in other east coast states that are exploring legalizing cannabis for adult-use.

Though it remains to be seen if the Empire State will legalize cannabis for adult-use in 2019, we cannot let up in our fight for the personal freedoms of New Yorkers. As always, we need your help to make sensible marijuana reform a reality in New York.

Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers in support of cannabis legalization in New York.

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Alaska’s On-Site Marijuana Consumption Rules Finalized


Welcome to Alaska sign on the Yukon Highway (Richard Martin/Flickr)

Alaska lawmakers and regulators have signed off on new regulations explicitly permitting adults to consume cannabis at specially licensed retailers.

Under the new rules, which take effect April 11, licensed cannabis retailers may apply with state regulators for an additional “on-site consumption endorsement.” Local governments may challenge the applications in certain instances, or initiate a municipal vote to limit on site activities.

It is anticipated that the initial on-site consumption areas may be approved by this summer.

While some local municipalities — such as Denver, Colorado and West Hollywood, California — already regulate on-site consumption sites, Alaska is the first adult use jurisdiction to establish such regulations statewide.

“When these rules go into effect, Alaska will be the first state to finalize and approve statewide rules for on-site consumption. We expect more to follow suit in the not too distant future,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “Allowing social consumption is sensible from a business perspective, particularly for states with large amounts of tourists who otherwise have no place to legally consume, but it also has an important social justice component.”

“By preventing retail outlets and other venues from being licensed and regulated for social consumption, many patients will have to chose between effective cannabis treatment for their ailments or being thrown out of public housing,” Altieri continued, “This causes the civil liberties that come with marijuana legalization to still being kept at arms length from low-income individuals and members of other marginalized communities.”

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Florida Lawmakers Vote to Restore Patients’ Right to Smoke Medical Cannabis


On March 13, members of the Florida state House of Representatives voted 101 to 11 to approve legislation (Senate Bill 182) to re-legalize the inhalation of herbal cannabis formulations for medical purposes.

The bill was unanimously approved by the state Senate last week, and will now be transmitted to Governor Ron DeSantis.

Seventy-one percent of Floridians voted in 2016 to amend the state’s constitution to allow for the use of medical marijuana. These provisions explicitly protected the rights of patients to access herbal cannabis and placed no restrictions with regard to how they chose to consume it.

But after the fact, lawmakers and former Governor Rick Scott, who now represents Florida as a member of the U.S. Senate, quickly moved to ban the practice legislatively.

By contrast, newly elected Gov. DeSantis asked the legislature to change the law.

Under this proposal, patients would be permitted to possess up to four ounces of herbal cannabis. Patients under 18 will only be allowed to access herbal medical cannabis if they are terminally ill and receive approval by two doctors.

NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or restrict patients’ access to whole plant herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms do not benefit from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects.

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Bipartisan Bill Filed in Congress to Protect Employment Rights


The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act (HR 1687) is bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Don Young (R-AK) to explicitly bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely because of their status as a cannabis consumer, or due to testing positive for marijuana use on a workplace drug test.

Enacted in 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program made it a condition for employment that all civilian employees at executive branch agencies be prohibited from using federally illegal substances on or off duty.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 31 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 46 states have some form of medical marijuana law; however, it remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal employees can be denied employment or terminated due to testing positive for marijuana metabolites, even if their use is in compliance with state law.

This conflict between state and federal laws limits treatment options and federal employment opportunities, particularly impacting veterans who comprise approximately one-third of the federal workforce and whose medical cannabis use to treat chronic pain and PTSD has been found to be double the rate of the general public.

A recent American Legion poll found that one in five veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition.

“For our veterans’, cannabis has been shown to address chronic pain and PTSD, often replacing addictive and harmful opioids. At the same time, the federal government is the largest employer of our veterans’ community. This conflict, between medical care and maintaining employment, needs to be resolved,” said Congressman Crist. “For federal employees complying with state cannabis law, they shouldn’t have to choose between a proven treatment and their job.”

“I’m pleased to join Representative Crist in introducing this legislation today. I truly believe that this Congress we will see real reform of our nation’s cannabis laws – reform based on a states’ right approach,” said Congressman Don Young. “This bill would protect federal workers, including veterans, from discrimination should they be participating in activities compliant with state-level cannabis laws on their personal time. The last thing we need is to drive talented workers away from these employment opportunities.  As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus I remain committed to promoting this bill as well as other legislation to protect individuals and reform our federal cannabis laws.”

“The discriminatory practice of pre-employment drug testing for cannabis disproportionately hurts the ability for veterans and medical patients to achieve economic security and a feeling of self-worth,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “In order to protect the individual liberties of would-be employees and best position the federal government to attract top talent, the harmful ‘Green Box’ must be destroyed. The bipartisan nature of this effort and the bill’s sponsors underscore the absurdity of the status quo and we appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Charlie Crist and Don Young.”

Changes in the legal status of marijuana at the state level have not negatively impacted workplace safety. In fact, a pair of studies from 2016 find that the legalization of medical marijuana access is associated with greater workforce participation and with fewer workplace absences. Most recently, the National Academies of Sciences just-released marijuana and health report found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

Send a message to your Representative in support of this legislation now!

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Microdosing Psychedelics “Could Be Beneficial,” Study Suggests


Microdosing — ingesting very small doses of psychedelic drugs — has emerged as a popular pastime among Silicon Valley types and harried executives on both coasts, who have claimed anecdotally that it boosts creativity and helps them function more effectively.

Now, for the first time, comes some hard scientific evidence that microdosing really can be beneficial. In a new, peer-reviewed study in the journal Chemical Neuroscience, researchers at the University of California — Davis fed small doses of the psychedelics to lab rats and found that microdosing can have positive impacts on mental health.

“This is the first time anyone has demonstrated in animals that psychedelic microdosing might actually have some beneficial effects, particularly for depression or anxiety,” David Olson, assistant professor in the UC Davis departments of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, who led the research team said in a press release.

In the study, the researchers used the powerful hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which they said was appropriate because its “molecular structure is embedded within the structures of popular microdosing drugs such as LSD and psilocybin.” Every three days for three weeks, hey gave the rats one-tenth of the dose that would bring on a psychedelic trip. At the end of the three weeks, researchers found that the animals overcame their “fear response” in a test measuring anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and also seemed to be less immobile in a test measuring antidepressant effects.

“Prior to our study, essentially nothing was known about the effects of psychedelic microdosing on animal behaviors,” Olson said. “Our study demonstrates that psychedelics can produce beneficial behavioral effects without drastically altering perception, which is a critical step towards producing viable medicines inspired by these compounds.”

In other words, you don’t have to trip to get the benefits of psychedelics.

It wasn’t all good news, though. Researchers found some potential problems: Male rats who microdosed showed significant increases in body weight, while females showed signs of neuronal atrophy.

“It’s exciting, but the potentially adverse changes in neuronal structure and metabolism that we observe emphasize the need for additional studies,” Olson said. The changes in female neuronal structure were particularly puzzling, he said, because those changes did not occur when female rats took larger doses. That could suggest that acute hallucinogenic doses and repeated microdoses produced different biochemical and structural phenotypes, he said.

The study suggests there is indeed a biochemical basis for some of the positive effects of microdosing reported in less scientifically rigorous studies of humans, such as the study by Canadian researchers who found microdosers scored higher on measures of mental health and well-being.

“We found that microdosers scored higher on measures of wisdom, open-mindedness and creativity,” reported researchers Thomas Anderson of the University of Toronto and Rotem Petranker of York University. “Microdosers also scored lower on measures of dysfunctional attitudes and negative emotionality, which is very promising.”

That study recruited microdosers from Reddit communities, but did not include trials with placebos, so more research to validate the results is needed, the researchers conceded.

“As promising as they seem, we don’t know whether microdosing actually caused any of these differences,” they reported. “Maybe people with better mental health were more likely to experiment with microdosing, or perhaps there is some unknown cause that made people both more likely to microdose and to be creative.”

But this month’s UC-Davis rat study strongly suggests that it is the microdosing — and not other variables — that accounts for the difference.


This article was produced by Drug Reporter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.organd was first published here.

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The Veterans Equal Access Act Has Been Reintroduced in Congress


WASHINGTON, DC — In the House, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a founder and co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has reintroduced H.R. 1647, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which expands medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans.

Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of this bill would lift this prohibition.

“For too long, our veterans have been denied access to highly effective medical marijuana treatment for conditions like chronic pain and PTSD,” Rep. Blumenauer said at the time of the bill’s introduction.

“Medical marijuana has shown proven benefits for treating these conditions denying our veterans access to them is shameful. This simple bill would align veterans VA treatment with their very popular state laws, usually approved by the voters. This legislation would guarantee our veterans fair and equal treatment, along with the ability to consult with their own physician on all treatment options. It’s past time we provide them with the care they need and deserve,” Blumenauer added.

In the 114th Congress, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

A recently released poll conducted by The American Legion showed that nearly 1 in 4 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.

Our veterans deserve the option to legally access a botanical product that is objectively safer than the litany of pharmaceutical drugs it could replace.

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of the Veterans Equal Access Act

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Over 25 Percent of House Members Sign On to Marijuana Banking Act


WASHINGTON, DC — More than one-quarter of US House members have signed on to newly introduced legislation to facilitate greater access to banking for state-licensed cannabis operators.

The 2019 version of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was iintroduced last Thursday and now has 113 co-sponsors — the most ever for a marijuana law reform bill.

Under federal law, banks and other financial institutions are discouraged from entering into relationships with marijuana-specific businesses. This has led to the industry operating on a largely ‘cash-only’ basis.

Last month, members of the US House, Consumer Protection and Financial Institution Subcommittee heard testimony in favor of federal banking reform.

NORML submitted testimony to the Committee, opining: “In short, no industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions and it is self-evident that this industry, and those consumers that are served by it, will remain severely hampered without better access to credit and financing. Ultimately, Congress must amend federal policy so that these growing numbers of state-compliant businesses, and those millions of Americans who patronize them, are no longer subject to policies that needlessly place them in harm’s way.”

The SAFE Banking Act is one of several marijuana-related bills introduced in Congress in recent days.

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Potency of Commercially Marketed CBD Products Often Mislabeled


(file photo)

NEW YORK, NY — Independent testing of a random sampling of commercially marketed CBD-infused products finds that their potency is frequently mislabeled, according to a NBC 4 New York I-Team investigative report.

Investigators purchased CBD-infused products online and at local convenience stores and submitted the products to third-party independent testing. They reported, “Less than half the samples that were tested actually had the stated amount of THC inside the product.” Some products contained no CBD at all.

Other products tested positive for elevated levels of lead and pesticides.

While CBD products manufactured as part of state-specific cannabis access programs are subject to lab testing, commercially available products are entirely unregulated.

The NBC New York findings are consistent with those of prior reports — such as those herehereherehereherehere, and here — which similarly determined that many commercially available CBD-infused products are of variable potency and may contain adulterants.

In February, a separate investigation conducted by KCTV Channel 5 (CBS) in St. Louis reported that none of the CBD-infused products they purchased over the counter at local retailers contained the amount of CBD listed on their labels.

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