the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development Committee will meet. HB 491 is the only bill on the agenda.

URGENT: This morning (Tuesday) 05.21.19, at 10a CST in Room C of the Senate, the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development Committee will meet.  HB 491 is the only bill on the agenda.
Supporters, Friends and Allies- 
We need your assistance on one of the most important Cannabis-related bills of the 2019 LA Legislative Session, HB 491.  We’ve come to you before on this bill and your responsive effort absolutely made the difference.  So we return to ask more of you, the difference-makers.  Please call any or all of these few people ( or send them an email and state: Hello, I am _________ (your name).  I am a Louisiana resident or I live in __________ (town or parish).  I am calling/emailing to ask for your support of HB 491.  Keep it short and sweet.
Keep it SMPL!  There’s only seven (7) of them!  We got this.  If you only have time for one, buzz the Chairman and let ’em know we’re here and we’re watching closely.
Chairman Francis Thompson: [email protected] and 318.878.9408.
Power to the people!

Louisiana House of Representatives passed the first hemp bill of the 2019 legislative session on Tuesday.

Far from a perfect bill, Representative Clay Schexnayder’s HB 491 sets up a hemp growing program under the Louisiana Department of Agriculture that would take advantage of the US Congress’ passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that laid the foundation for nationwide trade in industrial hemp.  Hemp, the name for a low THC (0.3% or less) cultivar of the otherwise identical plant species to “marijuana” goes by the scientific name, Cannabis sativa.  Hemp is an excellent source of food, fiber, oil and medicine including the cannabinoid, cannabidiol or CBD.  Schexnayder’s bill was designed by Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain’s office in close association with the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association or LSA.  Predictably then, it did not allow for cannabidiol until today and even in its significantly improved and amended form, does not allow CBD infusion into food or drinks, it does not allow for inhalation which is absolutely necessary as a delivery method for certain diseases requiring rapid titration or uptake into the body, it prohibits anyone with a felony conviction in the last ten (10) years from participating in the program and it places retail stores selling CBD under the jurisdiction of the state Alcohol and Tobacco Control or ATC among other changes.  It is worth nothing that the bill advancing in the Texas legislature right now (HB 1325) does allow for the infusion of food and drink and medicines with CBD.  Forty two (42) other states have already taken action to seize on the changes Congress made to hemp’s new status at the federal level.  SMPL’s membership is the #1 catalyst for positive changes to our state’s backward drug laws and the best chance our citizens and patients have to beat back the LSA’s efforts to insert itself into the doctor-patient relationship.  As one of the states top few most powerful lobbying groups, the LSA inserts itself into far-ranging policy discussions and manifests control over things it ought not have any say in – including hemp farming or the use of CBD.  Please contact your state Senators and ask them to oppose HB 491 unless it is at least amended to allow for CBD in food, drink and for inhalation.  Right now, law enforcement via the LSA is having more influence over this medicine than we the people, the patients and the health care professionals of our state.  Roll up your sleeves, reach out and Just Say No to the Sheriff’s control of our health care decisions!

Congratulations to patients in Arkansas!

Medical marijuana sales there are expected to begin this Sunday, May 12, 2019.  Arkansas voters approved therapeutic Cannabis on November 8, 2016.  Louisiana’s legislature approved of the modern therapeutic Cannabis program by passage of SB 143 in the summer of 2015 and signature of then Governor Bobby Jindal on June 29, 2015.  So it looks like Arkansas is going to beat Louisiana to implementation by at least a full year.


Read the full article at:

HB 568 by Dustin Miller passed out of the House Health and Welfare Committee on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – A simmering feud between one of Louisiana’s medical marijuana growers and the program’s regulator has spilled into the Legislature. Lawmakers are considering reworking oversight of therapeutic cannabis to end disagreements that have slowed release to patients.

Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain and Louisiana State University’s grower GB Sciences aired ongoing disputes Tuesday in the House health committee.

The hearing was contentious, with the two sides trading accusations. It wrapped up with lawmakers voting 6-4 for a proposal to strip Strain’s agriculture department of regulatory authority and give that oversight job to the health department.

The measure by Rep. Dustin Miller moves to the House floor.

Miller, an Opelousas Democrat, is frustrated that four years have passed since lawmakers created the framework for dispensing therapeutic cannabis and marijuana still hasn’t reached patients.

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Schexnayder proposes legislation to produce industrial hemp in Louisiana

Representative Clay Schexnayder (District 81) is proposing legislation for the 2019 session that creates an opportunity for Louisiana farmers to produce industrial hemp, as authorized in the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) approved by Congress.

Under this state legislation, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry would be the regulatory agency responsible for this initiative, and developing the regulations for the production and sale of industrial hemp and industrial hemp products, according to a news release from Schexnayder’s office. All regulations will require approval by the USDA prior to implementation.

Based on the recently passed Farm Bill, industrial hemp is defined as cannabis with a THC level below 0.3% and has been removed from the Schedule I list of controlled substances. If this legislation is approved, industrial hemp would be an additional commodity available for the state’s agricultural producers, further expanding Louisiana’s agricultural market opportunities, according to the release.

“Industrial hemp is an alternative specialty high-value crop with the potential to create new industries and enhance economic development for Louisiana,” says Rep. Clay Schexnayder. “The importance of agriculture in Louisiana increases the need to provide both opportunities to introduce first time producers to agriculture and allow existing producers the opportunity to diversify their farming interests for economic stability options. ”

Representative Clay Schexnayder (District 81)(Photo courtesy: La. House of Representatives website)

The release states, as of 2018, more than 33 states had enacted legislation authorizing the production of industrial hemp, or research initiatives under the 2014 Farm Bill, and reauthorization of and expansion of the federal approval for agricultural producers to grow industrial hemp will likely expand states participating in industrial hemp programs across the country.

“Industrial hemp would be a welcomed crop for Louisiana Producers to diversify their harvest.” Says Ronnie Anderson, Louisiana Farm Bureau President.

Schexnayder and other interested legislators and legislative staff have been meeting with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, law enforcement representatives, the LSU Agricultural Center and producers from across the state to formulate language that meets the federal requirements and maintains strong regulatory oversight, according to Representative Clay Schexnayder’s press release.

“Throughout the history of America, industrial hemp has played a vital role in agriculture. Reintroduction of this commodity will provide new opportunities, especially for our small to mid-size farmers,” said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.

Louisiana’s climate creates challenges for producers of all commodities. Whether rain, drought, insects or disease, all will be unique factors that need to be addressed. This legislation will authorize the agricultural arms of the state’s land-grant institutions to conduct research on industrial hemp to aid producers and create value added opportunities.

LSU Vice President for Agriculture, Bill Richardson commented, “The AgCenter’s crop scientists can develop and test industrial hemp varieties that are tolerant to Louisiana conditions and provide high fiber and oilseed for processing.”

Read the orignal article at:

Industrial hemp bill could be introduced in the Louisiana legislature this spring

BATON ROUGE, La. – (KNOE) The Louisiana legislative session doesn’t start until April 6th but already there’s talk of a bill to legalize industrial Hemp. Hemp is a cousin to marijuana but you can’t get “high” off hemp.

A workshop on industrial hemp in New Orleans. | Photo: KNOE

Industrial hemp is part of the Cannabis plant species that is grown specifically for industrial uses, like fiber, plastics, asphalt, and even clothing. Hemp is not a mind-altering drug.

“We think there are some opportunities with our farmers to grow industrial hemp. It cannot have above .3 percent THC in it. So we have some farmers we talked to are very interested,” said Dr. Bill Richardson, Vice President of Agriculture for LSU.

But growing hemp is illegal in Louisiana. You harvest hemp from the stalk. So a law legalizing it would have to pass the legislature for it to be an option for producers.

“It’s going to be a big process of education where we in agriculture, not just the urban legislators but everybody watching this process, what industrial hemp does for the citizens and farmers of Louisiana,” said Joe Mapes, Legislative Specialist with Louisiana Farm Bureau.

Joe Mapes with Louisiana Farm Bureau has been researching the possibility of industrial hemp as a rotation crop for Louisiana farmers. Recently, at the American Farm Bureau convention in New Orleans, a workshop on industrial hemp had a standing room only crowd. But he admits it will an uphill battle.

“We’ve got some social issues attached with it. That’s what we’re going to have to pass first. Could have a law if things go well,” said Mapes.

But the first hurdle to jump would be getting the bill through agriculture committee. Senator Francis Thompson of Delhi is the chairman of the Senate agriculture committee. He says at this time he couldn’t support such a bill.

“We gotta make sure that it’s not something that would cause our kids to be involved like marijuana for recreation use and I’m afraid that something of the interests from out of state may not have our best interest in mind,” said Senator Francis Thompson of Delhi.

Lawmaker predicts legislative hearings on state’s troubled medical marijuana program

The state legislator who sponsored the 2015 bill creating the state’s star-crossed medical marijuana program expects lawmakers will call public hearings when they convene next month if there’s no resolution to the escalating dispute between the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the LSU AgCenter over the suitability of LSU’s grow partner.

Sen. Fred Mills, R-New Iberia, says it’s frustrating that nearly four years after lawmakers legalized medical marijuana there’s still no product on the shelves of the 10 pharmacies licensed to provide relief to patients around the state suffering from chronic illness.

“There is going to have to be some public hearings to let the public know what the status of everything is,” Mills says. “I think the committee chairs are going to call everybody to the table to tell us what the heck is going on. If between now and April 8 they cannot get this worked out, we’re going to have to get much more involved.”

The Southern University Ag Center and the LSU AgCenter are the only two licensed growers in the state under the law, yet neither has been able to bring a product to market.

Southern’s delays stem from problems it has had with its private grow partner. That firm has since been bought out by a new group of investors and the program appears to be back on track.

LSU’s program, however, which had planned to have medical marijuana available by the beginning of the year, is now embroiled in controversy with LDAF over suitability issues with its grow partner, GB Sciences.

The university says LDAF is placing unfair regulatory burdens on GB Sciences, while LDAF says the company has refused to make available certain information necessary to determine its suitability.

LSU counters the firm was vetted during a public procurement process and has met all the state’s requirements.

Mills says he’s been trying to get to the bottom of what’s behind all the bad blood, which culminated earlier this month when LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain accused LSU and GB Sciences of breaking the law by moving plant material into a part of its Industriplex growth facility before signing a Memorandum of Understanding. LSU says it will not sign the MOU because it is beyond the scope of the law.

“I’ve told all sides they’ve got to sit in a big conference room with every lawyer available and iron this thing out,” Mills says. “It’s not that hard. We’re not the first state to market. This is not a pioneering piece of agriculture. Why is it taking us so long to reinvent the wheel?”

Gov. John Bel Edwards declines to get involved in the dispute at this point, saying through a spokesperson that the issue falls under the purview of the commissioner of agriculture.

Read the full article on Business Report

New Bill Would End Federal War on Marijuana

February 8th, 2017 by Tom Angell

A bipartisan group of seven Republicans and six Democrats filed new Congressional legislation that would protect people who are acting in compliance with state marijuana laws from federal prosecution and punishment.

Titled the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017,” the bill adds a new provision to the Controlled Substances Act that reads:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.”

In a lengthy floor speech announcing the bill, chief sponsor Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) argued that the legislation falls in line with the principles of limited government and states’ rights that so many in his party profess to value:

“My bill would then make sure that Federal law is aligned with the States’ and the people in those States’ desires so that the residents and businesses wouldn’t have to worry about Federal prosecution. For those few States that have thus far maintained a policy of strict prohibition, my bill would change nothing. I think that this is a reasonable compromise that places the primary responsibility of police powers back in the States and the local communities that are most directly affected.”

“I happen to believe that the Federal Government shouldn’t be locking up anyone for making a decision of what he or she should privately consume, whether that person is rich or poor, and we should never be giving people the excuse, especially Federal authorities, that they have a right to stop people or intrude into their lives in order to prevent them and prevent others from smoking a weed, consuming something they personally want to consume.”

Rohrabacher, who ardently supported Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign and was reportedly considered as a possible secretary of state nominee, cited the new president’s pledges to respect state marijuana laws.

The California congressman then gave a bit of a history lesson, likening current federal policy impeding state laws to the British monarchy that U.S. founding fathers rebelled against, and comparing marijuana criminalization to the earlier failed prohibition of alcohol.

Turning one marijuana stereotype on its head, he decried the federal government’s “paranoia” regarding the truth about marijuana as evidenced by the DEA’s longstanding efforts to block research on its medical benefits.

And referencing the increasingly contentious debate about health care reform, Rohrabacher said:

“Remember, as we discuss people’s health care, Republicans over and over again say: You shouldn’t get in between a doctor and his patient. We believe in the doctor-patient relationship. That is true for medical marijuana as well. Do we believe in these principles?”

The new bill is the fourth piece of marijuana reform legislation to be introduced in the 115th Congress.

It is is identical to a bill Rohrabacher and others filed in the last Congress, which ended up garnering 20 co-sponsors but did not receive a hearing or a vote.

 Source:  MassRoots

Trump’s Cabinet on Cannabis

February 3rd, 2017 by Tom Angell

Most MassRoots readers probably already know that President Trump pledged on the campaign trail that he would respect state marijuana laws. You probably also know that Trump’s nominee to head the Justice Department has a long history of speaking out against legalization.

But where do other incoming top Trump administration officials stand on cannabis? We’ve compiled everything you need to know right here.

Just in case you haven’t followed all the latest news from Capitol Hill, let’s start with attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama: Last year Sessions said “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and repeatedly criticized the Obama administration’s approach of generally respecting the right of states to set their own cannabis policies. Since being nominated as attorney general, however, he has been much more guarded in response to questions about how the federal government should react to local policies.

During a confirmation hearing, Sessions called existing guidelines on how states can avoid interference “valuable,” but indicated that compliance probably isn’t being tracked as closely as it should be, saying he wouldn’t commit to never enforcing federal law. In answers to follow-up written questions, he said he would “review and evaluate those policies, including the original justifications for the memorandum, as well as any relevant data and how circumstances may have changed or how they may change in the future.”

About a week and a half before the inauguration, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that even if Sessions personally disagreed with the president on respecting state laws, “When you come into a Trump administration, it’s the Trump agenda that you are implementing, not your own. And I think that Senator Sessions is well aware of that.”

Vice President Mike Pence, while serving as a member of the U.S. House, voted six times against amendments to prevent the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin said in response to a written question from a senator that banking and tax concerns facing marijuana businesses are “a very important issue,” committing to “work with Congress and the President to determine which provisions of the current tax code should be retained, revised or eliminated to ensure that all individuals and businesses compete on a level playing field.”

At his confirmation hearing, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly conceded that prohibition enforcement will never completely eliminate the consumption of drugs. However, he added that in his view there is no such thing as “nonviolent” drug use because proceeds go into supporting a criminal market where violence is often used to settle disputes. While serving in a past military role, Kelly regularly testified before Congress that legalization in U.S. states made it harder for him to get cooperation from other countries in the international drug war. But he has also expressed openness to medical cannabis.

David Shulkin, who Trump nominated to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, also seems somewhat open to increasing military veterans’ access to medical marijuana, writing in a letter last year that he “wholeheartedly agree[s] that VA should do all it can to foster open communication between Veterans and their VA providers, including discussion about participation in state marijuana programs.”

But Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, is certainly not a fan of medical cannabis or of letting states set their own laws on the issue. As Oklahoma attorney general, he’s currently involved in a lawsuit over a proposed medical marijuana ballot measure. In a filing last month he argued that state cannabis laws are preempted by federal prohibition. “[The Oklahoma initiative] requires State officials to conspire…to violate federal drug laws by issuing licenses that will break federal law if certain preconditions are met, and to arguably share in the profits for breaking federal law by taxing the sale of marijuana,” he wrote. Alarmingly, Pruitt called the Obama approach to state cannabis laws “tenuous,” adding, “the prior [Bush] presidential administration vigorously enforced the law…and the incoming presidential administration may take the same course.” Pruitt previously sued neighboring Colorado over its legalization law in a case that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, during his confirmation hearing, took a verbal beating from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for refusing to criticize the deadly drug war in the Philippines.

Energy secretary nominee Rick Perry, a former Texas governor and presidential candidate, personally opposes legalization but has repeatedly spoken out in favor of the right of states to set their own cannabis laws without federal interference.

Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Trump’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, has voted in favor of several U.S. House amendments on marijuana, including ones to prevent the Justice Department from spending money to interfere with state medical cannabis or full legalization laws.

Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Trump’s pick to lead the Department of the Interior, voted for the state medical marijuana amendments but against the full legalization ones.

Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), the nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, voted against both the medical marijuana and full legalization protections for states.

Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate, has given mixed signals on marijuana, endorsing its medical benefits but also saying that recreational use can cause flashbacks.

Trump hasn’t officially nominated someone to lead the Food and Drug Administration yet, but two people floated in the press as possible picks are seen as favorable to cannabis law reform: Jim O’Neill was once a board member for a legalization organization, and Balaji Srinivasan tweeted about the racially disparate impact of marijuana law enforcement.

All told, the Trump team is very much a mixed bag when it comes to cannabis policy, and the views of some department and agency heads will be more important than others when it comes to determining the federal government’s approach to marijuana. But what matters most at the end of the day is whether the president sees it as politically important enough to follow through on his campaign pledge to respect state laws, or if he would allow the Justice Department to undermine those promises in line with the views of a less-friendly attorney general. Stay tuned.


Source:  MassRoots

First Look at New Marijuana Bills in Congress


Two new bills to reform federal marijuana laws were just introduced in Congress, and MassRoots has an exclusive first look at the proposals.

Both sponsored by Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA), H.R. 714 and H.R. 715 would reschedule cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The first bill, also known as the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act (LUMA), would simply move cannabis from its status under Schedule I — the most restrictive drug category under federal law — to Schedule II. It would also ensure that provisions of the CSA would not “prohibit or otherwise restrict” state-authorized use, possession, transportation, production and distribution of medical marijuana.

The second bill, the Compassionate Access Act, is broader in scope, and is cosponsored by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). It also reschedules marijuana but doesn’t mandate a move to Schedule II specifically, leaving the door open for cannabis to be placed even lower in the CSA.

The bill also excludes cannabidiol (CBD) from the federal definition of marijuana, specifying that it is not to be treated as a controlled substance. Like LUMA, the legislation includes protections for state-authorized medical marijuana activities, but it adds further language covering parents or guardians of minors who are authorized patients and also has a provision covering marijuana testing labs.

Additionally, the legislation requires the Department of Justice to move authority for access to research-grade cannabis “to an agency of the Executive Branch that is not focused on researching the addictive properties of substances.” That’s a thinly-veiled dig at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which currently has such authority but has been repeatedly criticized for favoring studies on marijuana’s potential harms instead of its medical benefits.

The bill specifies that research done in accordance with state laws can be taken into account for future rescheduling decisions even if those studies did not use cannabis from federally-approved sources.

Both of Griffith’s new bills use the federally-loaded word “prescription” to qualify the type of state-legal medical marijuana activities that are protected, but define the term to mean “an instruction written by a medical physician in accordance with applicable State law,” indicating that current medical cannabis recommendations in accordance with state programs would likely qualify.

“There are countless reports of marijuana’s medicinal benefits in treating conditions including cancer, epilepsy and glaucoma,” Griffith said in a statement. “It is time to research this further, and, where legal, to allow real doctors and real pharmacists to prescribe or dispense marijuana for legitimate medical reasons for real patients.”

Blumenauer added, “For too long our federal marijuana policies have failed the American people. It’s past time for a change. The Compassionate Access Act will bring us closer to making sure federal law does not get in the way of doctors, researchers and business owners working to provide safer access to patients.”

Neither bill has yet been scheduled for a hearing or a vote.

These are the second and third pieces of marijuana legislation introduced so far in the new 115th Congress. The first was a proposal from Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), in partnership with Blumenauer and a handful of other members, to protect properties and assets from being seized by the federal government just because they are involved with state-legal medical cannabis activities.

Many more marijuana bills are expected to be introduced on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks, and we’ll be here to keep you informed as details emerge.

 Source:  MassRoots

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