2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana: The Ultimate Guide

With support for marijuana legalization stronger than ever before, the issue of cannabis reform is slated to become a prominent issue in the 2020 presidential election.

Donald Trump, seeking a second term as President of the United States, is expected to earn the Republican party’s nomination. Trump has yet to take any notable actions related to marijuana, neither positive or negative, since taking office.

On the Democrat side, an abundance of declared primary candidates will battle in the primaries for their party’s nomination. Among Democratic voters, marijuana legalization has become a mainstream stance and politicians vying for their support have responded. So far, nearly every single declared Democratic presidential candidate has come out in support of either completely legalizing marijuana at the federal level, or descheduling it and leaving it up to the states.

Make informed choices by reviewing each candidate’s stance on marijuana legalization. Through the interactive tools below, you can quickly and easily sift through each candidate’s position on cannabis reform and any comments they’ve made about the issue. Click around the interactive graphic below to review each 2020 presidential candidate’s legislative support, public statements, and even tweets related to cannabis. Through the interactive timeline, you can click-and-drag and pinch-in and pinch-out zoom to discover when each candidate first made a pro-marijuana statement, first backed cannabis reform legislation, and any time there was a major development in their cannabis stance. Want to cut to the chase? A cannabis “temperature gauge” offers a quick-glance view of how strongly each candidate champions marijuana.

From now until the 2020 presidential election, this article will serve as home base for 2020 presidential candidates and their stance on federal marijuana policy. It will be regularly updated to reflect changes as presidential hopefuls enter and drop out of the race, as well as to document any shifts or major updates in cannabis views.

Read the entire article here


Helping Underscore a Longstanding Tenet of SMPL – Cannabis Policy is a Public Health Issue Rather than a Criminal Justice One

It’s time for drug policy reform – in America and across the globe

America’s “war on drugs” has failed. We need more policies that treat drug abuse as a public health issue

Earlier this month, a Philadelphia judge rejected federal objections to the opening of what will be the nation’s first legal overdose prevention site—paving the way for other jurisdictions to bring this lifesaving tool to their communities. Overdose prevention sites are facilities where people can use drugs under medical supervision by staff who can immediately address and reverse any overdoses that occur. While the U.S. Department of Justice has claimed that these sites are illegal under federal drug laws, the opinion concludes that a public health response — and operating a facility such as this —  is not in contravention of federal law. This is a landmark ruling in the U.S., but not internationally where 118 safe consumption sites operate in 12 countries, with plans to also open them in Mexico and Ireland. It’s well past time for cities across the U.S. to follow suit and embrace harm reduction practices, not simply in regard to this issue, but also more generally in the criminal justice arena.

Nearly 50 years after the United States declared a “war on drugs” there is ample evidence today that a criminal justice and punitive response to drug use has failed. Meanwhile, countries like Portugal and Switzerland have embraced public health approaches to reducing the harms associated with drug use for decades, with proven success. Switzerland was the first country to open an overdose prevention site over 30 years ago, saving countless lives and without recording a single fatal overdose. Indeed, since the 1990s, the number of opioid-related deaths has fallen by more than 60%.  Portugal decriminalized the personal use of all drugs in 2001, and since then, overdose deaths have decreased by more than 80%. As a group of U.S. prosecutors learned during a recent trip to Portugal, decriminalization worked in large part because it helped reduce the stigma of drug use and replaced a justice system response with a public health starting point.

It is time for all nations to follow this lead and embrace a new global vision for drug policy based on principles of harm reduction and respect of fundamental human rights, including the right to health care. Harm reduction is a public health philosophy that posits governments can more effectively and humanely address substance use by aiming efforts at reducing the negative consequences of drug use. These strategies include needle exchanges and overdose prevention sites, where people can use drugs under the supervision of individuals trained to reverse overdoses.

Some elected prosecutors are already leading this charge and implementing reforms that recognize the ineffectiveness of criminalizing drug use and the need for a paradigm shift. Seattle District Attorney Dan Satterberg has stopped charging virtually all personal possession cases of small amounts of drugs; San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon is wiping out over 9.000 past marijuana convictions; Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby recently decriminalized marijuana possession and is similarly working to expunge past marijuana convictions; and Chittenden County, Vermont State’s Attorney Sarah George has stopped prosecuting possession of the opioid treatment buprenorphine and has called for the opening of a supervised consumption site.

Before more lives are lost to jails or overdose deaths, leaders should follow the example of these pioneers and other countries around the world. Criminalizing and incarcerating people for drug-related offenses not only hasn’t worked but has led to additional harms to communities: an explosion in incarceration that fractured families and disparately impacted communities of color, the spread of infectious diseases and thousands of drug-related overdoses. We know now that most people who use drugs do not develop a substance use disorder, but for those who do, treatment is far more effective than jail. Harsh approaches don’t reduce drug supply or use. They simply drive people who use drugs into the margins of society. Further, overly punitive strategies that focus on prohibition are enormously expensive and take vital resources away from efforts that reduce overdoses and limit the spread of diseases. Criminalizing people who use drugs doesn’t just fail to make people safer and healthier, it makes them sicker and more likely to overdose in the shadows.

This shift from punishment to harm reduction requires a fundamental change in attitudes around drug use and the nature of addiction. From criminalizing people who sell drugs to fund their addiction, to jailing people who relapse during court-mandated treatment, the idea of drug use as a moral failing is deeply embedded in too many of our justice system policies. True change will require us to end our counterproductive use of criminal penalties for people who use drugs, stop demonizing them, and instead treat them as individuals deserving of compassion and care.

Global leaders, researchers and health care providers have already done the critical work of showing that harm reduction combined with the decriminalization of drug use and possession works in communities around the world.  If the U.S. seeks to joins other countries that have successfully implemented harm reduction strategies, its justice system must do its part to catch up and stop inflicting further harms. It’s time for leaders at all levels of government to affirm – through both words and action – that people who use drugs deserve dignity and respect, not isolation, jailing and death.

Read the whole article at salon.com


Bernie Sanders unveils plan to legalize marijuana, invest tax revenue in minority businesses

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders released a comprehensive plan late Thursday afternoon to legalize marijuana, begin a process to expunge old pot-related convictions and take steps to shape the emerging legal sales industry.

The proposal dropped, winkingly, at precisely 4:20 PM ET.
Sanders, a longtime proponent of marijuana legalization, would also ban tobacco companies from getting into the increasingly lucrative business, while creating a $20 billion grant program — using tax revenue from marijuana sales — to provide new capital to minority entrepreneurs.
Decades of harsh laws and sentencing requirements have “disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans,” Sanders said in a statement. “When we’re in the White House, we’re going to end the greed and corruption of the big corporations and make sure that Americans hit hardest by the war on drugs will be the first to benefit from legalization.”
Sanders unveiled the blueprint ahead of his appearance Saturday at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College, an HBCU in South Carolina. The proposal takes a number of specific steps to address the disproportionately destructive impact federal drug policy has had on the African American community. The capital grant program will be would be administered through the Minority Business Development Agency.
As part of the plan, Sanders would create a federal clemency board to deal with past marijuana-related convictions, similar to a panel established in California. That body would instruct state and federal authorities to review all applicable cases to determine if a new or vacated sentence is required. It would also give prosecutors one year to appeal any decision, after which those convictions would be immediately vacated or expunged.
The 2020 Democratic candidates broadly agree on the need to reverse or roll back current drug laws. Decriminalizing possession and reducing sentencing guidelines, at the least, are popular among many of the leading primary contenders. But there is some disagreement over the scope of the reforms being suggested.
Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have said they would effectively legalize marijuana by executive action, with Sanders pledging to do it in his first 100 days in office. Their Senate colleague Cory Booker has been a leading reform advocate and his Marijuana Justice Bill counts Sanders, Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Michael Bennet among its co-sponsors.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg supports decriminalizing the possession of all drugs including marijuana, and said Wednesday during a visit to a marijuana dispensary in Nevada that past marijuana convictions should be expunged. Former Vice President Joe Biden does not back full legalization, saying he would leave that decision to the states. He would downgrade marijuana’s federal classification, to schedule II, which is the same as cocaine.
At Sanders’ rally this past weekend in Queens, the first after he returned to the campaign following a heart attack, he teased a plan to free prisoners convicted of certain drug-related crimes.
“We are going to end the horrifically destructive war on drugs and legalize marijuana,” Sanders said, tying the cause to a broader criminal and racial justice message. “And we are going to end the disgrace of 400,000 people right now locked behind bars because they are too poor to afford cash bail.”
In seeking to prevent major corporations from seizing on wider scale legalization, Sanders plans to incentive marijuana growers and distributors who choose to start non-profit or community co-op businesses that would benefit local economies. Existing companies that sell tobacco and cigarettes, along with those “that have created cancer-causing products or (are) guilty of deceptive marketing” would be locked out of the market, according to the Sanders plan.
At an event in Iowa in September, the Vermont independent promised that he was going to shift the bounty of marijuana sales from big corporations to the people who have been most heavily impacted by current, or only recently reversed, drug laws.
“I go to Nevada, and there are these big billboards, I don’t know if you’ve seen, and it says buy this or that brand of marijuana, have you seen this? They are advertising hemp,” Sanders said. “And I’m thinking that there are people in jail for doing exactly what these large corporations are doing, selling marijuana.”

American Bar Association Urges Congress To Let States Set Their Own Marijuana Policies

 

The American Bar Association (ABA) adopted a resolution on Monday that calls on Congress to allow states to set their own marijuana policies and recommends rescheduling or descheduling cannabis under federal law.

Members of the ABA House of Delegates approved the measure at the organization’s annual meeting in San Francisco and, according to the ABA Journal, it was broadly supported—passing “without audible opposition”—even after proponents waived their time to speak.

Though ABA specified that it was not taking a position on marijuana legalization generally, it recognized that conflicting federal and state cannabis policies are untenable and have created complications for cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state law. That includes a lack of access to financial services that lead such companies to operate on a largely cash basis, making them targets for crime.

The resolution states that ABA “urges Congress to enact legislation to exempt from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) any production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana carried out in compliance with state laws.”

ABA, an association established in 1878 that now touts 411,000 members, also wants Congress to “enact legislation to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act,” which could involve placing it in a less restrictive category or removing it from the list of federally controlled substances altogether.

Finally, the resolution recommends that Congress pass legislation to “encourage scientific research into the efficacy, dose, routes of administration, or side effects of commonly used and commercially available cannabis products in the United States.”

A report attached to the measure provides context on state-level legalization efforts, the history of federal prohibition and the “resulting regulatory quagmire.”

“There is an obvious tension between marijuana’s Schedule I status – which prohibits marijuana in virtually all circumstances—and state regulatory reforms—which increasingly authorize marijuana for at least some purposes,” ABA wrote. “While state and federal law often diverge—on everything from environmental to workplace laws—marijuana policy is the only area where the states regulate and tax conduct the federal government nearly universally prohibits.”

The temporary protections that lawmakers have been able to secure for medical cannabis states and guidance memos from the Justice Department are not enough to relieve the regulatory tension produced by federal prohibition, ABA argued. While the House approved a budget rider that would extend protections to adult-use programs, it’s not clear how that will fare in the Senate—and even if it passes, it must be annually renewed, creating uncertainty.

More fundamentally, however, because the spending riders operate only as a restraint on Justice Department action, they have not prevented other parties from using federal law against state-compliant marijuana businesses and users.

ABA listed various problems that these businesses face under the current regulatory framework: a lack of access to banking services, “unusually high federal taxes,” no federal protection for their trademarks and an increased number of private lawsuits.

“No one should be satisfied with the regulatory quagmire that has resulted from the unresolved tension between state reforms and federal law.”

The report goes on to describe how its recommendations would help resolve some of these issues.

Passing legislation such as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act would mean “marijuana businesses could obtain banking and legal services, deduct their reasonable business expenses when computing their federal tax liability, obtain federal protection for their trademarks, avoid civil RICO liability, and so on.”

What’s more, Congress could attach provisions to such legislation that would establish a basic federal framework for state cannabis programs by “incentivizing states to adopt and maintain careful controls on marijuana activities,” including age restrictions for adult-use programs.

But creating an exemption for legal cannabis states under the CSA wouldn’t fix all of the problems that federal prohibition is created, which is why ABA also made a scheduling recommendation.

It said that knowledge about marijuana’s risks and benefits has evolved in the years since the drug was placed in Schedule I of the CSA and that it no longer made sense to schedule cannabis in the same category as substances that are decidedly more dangerous. Loosening federal restrictions by rescheduling it could help, but “Congress could even choose to remove marijuana from the CSA altogether, in the same way it exempted alcoholic beverages and tobacco from the statute’s coverage in the first instance,” ABA wrote.

The final part of the resolution discusses the need to support research into cannabis. One area that could be quickly improved is in the sourcing of research-grade marijuana. ABA noted that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced in 2016 that it is accepting applications for additional cannabis manufacturers, which could bolster research, for example. Coincidentally, ABA’s resolution on the topic was approved exactly three years after DEA made that announcement, which the agency still has yet to act on.

The measure “urges Congress to actively support scientific research on marijuana,” ABA wrote. “As greater scientific knowledge of the benefits and harms of marijuana develops, Congress and the states can work together to ensure that the benefits of marijuana can be realized while the harms of the drug are properly addressed. Encouraging careful scientific study of marijuana will be beneficial regardless of the direction of marijuana law reform in the future.”

“You can’t do massive blind studies because everyone who does it is afraid they’ll get prosecuted,” Stephen Saltzburg, who moved the resolution, told ABA Journal. “We should have that research. We ought not to have states and [the federal government] flying blind.”

read the original by: at www.marijuanamoment.net


Politics Top FDA Official Slams Federal Drug Scheduling System For Blocking CBD Research

 

The federal drug scheduling system inhibited research into CBD that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now scrambling to conduct following the legalization of hemp and its derivatives, a top agency official said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the National Industrial Hemp Council’s 2019 Hemp Business Summit, FDA Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy Lowell Schiller gave an extensive overview of the agency’s role in regulating cannabis products, repeatedly stressing that FDA is “excited” about cannabidiol’s potential.

That said, Schiller said FDA retains regulatory authority over hemp-derived products and it remains illegal to introduce CBD in the food supply or as dietary supplements unless the agency develops alternative rules, which it is actively exploring. Because CBD exists as an FDA-approved epilepsy drug, Epidiolex, creating a regulatory framework is more complicated.

He also talked about other potential medical benefits of CBD and how the federal ban on hemp and its compounds, which was lifted under a provision of the 2018 Farm Bill that President Donald Trump signed in December, restricted research.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD, but we’re excited about the possibility that new therapeutic uses of CBD might be demonstrated to be safe and effective,” Schiller said, according to his remarks as prepared for delivery. “The last thing we want to do is to discourage that research, and potentially stunt our knowledge of potential uses of CBD. So we need to be thoughtful in our approach.”

“One thing we realized very early on in evaluating these questions is that there was still far too much we didn’t know about CBD, and about the implications of putting CBD in foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics,” he said. “This is part of the legacy of almost all CBD being a Schedule I controlled substance until late last year.”

“It was difficult to research, and it hasn’t been studied nearly as much as we would like.”

Schiller said that more studies are needed to determine potential risks associated with consuming large quantities of CBD, interactions with other drugs, using the substance while pregnant and long-term consumption. Resolving those questions will “help to inform our path forward.”

That’s why, he said, FDA is “focusing on a different CBD: Collect Better Data.”

“We want to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to support informed and efficient decision making. If there are data or studies that are relevant to the safety of particular uses of CBD, we want to see them. And if there are gaps in our knowledge, we want to understand how big those gaps are and what can be done—by us and by others—to start filling them.”

The federal drug scheduling system inhibited research into CBD that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now scrambling to conduct following the legalization of hemp and its derivatives, a top agency official said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the National Industrial Hemp Council’s 2019 Hemp Business Summit, FDA Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy Lowell Schiller gave an extensive overview of the agency’s role in regulating cannabis products, repeatedly stressing that FDA is “excited” about cannabidiol’s potential.

That said, Schiller said FDA retains regulatory authority over hemp-derived products and it remains illegal to introduce CBD in the food supply or as dietary supplements unless the agency develops alternative rules, which it is actively exploring. Because CBD exists as an FDA-approved epilepsy drug, Epidiolex, creating a regulatory framework is more complicated.

He also talked about other potential medical benefits of CBD and how the federal ban on hemp and its compounds, which was lifted under a provision of the 2018 Farm Bill that President Donald Trump signed in December, restricted research.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD, but we’re excited about the possibility that new therapeutic uses of CBD might be demonstrated to be safe and effective,” Schiller said, according to his remarks as prepared for delivery. “The last thing we want to do is to discourage that research, and potentially stunt our knowledge of potential uses of CBD. So we need to be thoughtful in our approach.”

“One thing we realized very early on in evaluating these questions is that there was still far too much we didn’t know about CBD, and about the implications of putting CBD in foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics,” he said. “This is part of the legacy of almost all CBD being a Schedule I controlled substance until late last year.”

“It was difficult to research, and it hasn’t been studied nearly as much as we would like.”

Schiller said that more studies are needed to determine potential risks associated with consuming large quantities of CBD, interactions with other drugs, using the substance while pregnant and long-term consumption. Resolving those questions will “help to inform our path forward.”

That’s why, he said, FDA is “focusing on a different CBD: Collect Better Data.”

“We want to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to support informed and efficient decision making. If there are data or studies that are relevant to the safety of particular uses of CBD, we want to see them. And if there are gaps in our knowledge, we want to understand how big those gaps are and what can be done—by us and by others—to start filling them.”

Those gaps in knowledge are partially due to the federal drug scheduling system, which has faced bipartisan criticism for hampering research initiatives. The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledged in April that continuing to classify drugs like marijuana as Schedule I makes it “very difficult” to research.

But as FDA works to make up for lost time, it has pledged to engage in a transparent rulemaking process that takes into account what Congress and industry stakeholders have called for—namely a regulatory scheme under which hemp and CBD can be lawfully marketed without excessive interference.

FDA said it is speeding up its process to develop regulations and that it plans to release a report on its progress in the fall.

“In closing, I want to reiterate how excited we are about the potential uses of CBD and other hemp and hemp-derived products,” Schiller said. “The hemp industry has come an incredible distance in an incredibly short period of time. And in some cases, the enthusiasm and the commercial appeal have outpaced the scientific research. The science needs to catch up.”

He also told the hemp crowd that as FDA works on its end, “we need your help.”

“As this industry matures, it needs to start taking on more responsibilities—for the safety of consumers, and for the future development of an industry that can meet the same requirements as apply to other industries we regulate,” he said. “We look forward to working together as this industry continues to mature.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach also spoke at the hemp conference on Tuesday.

read the original by: at www.marijuanamoment.net


Illinois becomes the latest state to legalize marijuana, these states may follow

Illinois became the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the regulatory bill legislators passed at the end of May. Legal recreational marijuana sales will begin in Illinois on January 1, 2020.

While many other states have legalized marijuana through voter referendums that can leave details to be agreed upon after the fact, Illinois became the first state in the country to legalize through the legislative process.

“We did something that no other state in the nation has been able to do,” Pritzker cheered at the signing ceremony.

Other states looking to replicate the bipartisan legalization bill Illinois was able to pass haven’t been as successful, leaving many wondering what state might become the 12th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana.

During Yahoo Finance’s The Business of Cannabis special earlier in June, CEOs from the leading marijuana companies, including Canopy Growth (CGC), Curaleaf (CURLF) and Chicago-based Cresco Labs weighed in on that question with differing opinions.

Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton and Acreage Holdings (ACRGF) CEO Kevin Murphy agreed that New York would be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana, while Curaleaf CEO Joe Lusardi and Cresco Labs CEO Charlie Bachtell argued New Jersey would be next to change state law.

“The electorate is going to go to the ballot box and continue to vote for cannabis laws,” Lusardi said. “It’s going to get more popular every single month and I suspect we’ll have more medical states, more recreational states in 2020 and the pressure will mount on the federal government to address this issue.”

Setbacks to legalization in New York

In the weeks that followed their comments, New York legislators pushing for legalization through the legislative process suffered many setbacks despite having support from Governor Andrew Cuomo on the issue. New York state legislators failed to agree on where the $1.7 billion in estimated annual recreational marijuana sales would be directed and opted to pass a bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana instead.

Proponents of marijuana reform in New York have defended the decision to abandon legalization efforts in favor of decriminalization as less of a failure as much as it is a step in the right direction.

“Six years I’ve been trying to get it done. We got it done, and it’s a great step forward,” Cuomo said, referring to decriminalization. Efforts to re-introduce legalization plans could resume with the next legislative session.

Cuomo pointed to the failure of politicians in New Jersey to legalize marijuana back in May as a reason for stalled progress in New York.

Legislators in New Jersey resigned to let voters decide the fate of legalizing recreational marijuana through a November 2020 referendum vote.

Read the full article at: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/illinois-becomes-the-latest-state-to-legalize-marijuana-these-states-may-follow-205113128.html


US House OKs provision protecting state-legal cannabis industries

U.S. congressional amendments to protect state-legal marijuana businesses are gaining unprecedented traction.  For the first time, an amendment to protect medical marijuana businesses from Justice Department interference recently was included in a spending bill.  And the full House on Thursday passed by a 267-165 vote a broader amendment to protect all state-legal MJ businesses, including adult-use companies. The amendment is part of the fiscal year 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill.  Looking ahead, it’s unclear whether the provision will receive support in the Senate.
MJBizDaily takeaway: For the time being anyway, it appears that federal marijuana reform will occur incrementally, with small gains that reflect a gradual shift in favor of legalization on Capitol Hill.

State-legal Cannabis program protections advance to the full US House

Read full article at: Marijuana Business Daily

A key legislative panel advanced an amendment to the full House for consideration that would protect all state-legal cannabis programs from interference by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The U.S. House Rules Committee cleared the amendment for a full House vote as it passed the fiscal year 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill by an 8-4 margin late Tuesday.

The spending bill also includes a provision that would prohibit the Justice Department from using funds to go after state-legal medical cannabis businesses.

The amendment to protect the lawful adult-use industry as well as MMJ programs was submitted by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, and Tom McClintock, a California Republican.

A Blumenauer amendment that would prevent the Justice Department from cracking down on Veterans Affairs doctors who recommend medical cannabis in lawful states also is heading to the full House for a vote.

Spending bill provisions offer protections for only a year, however.

Industry officials are lobbying for longer-lasting protections for state-legal marijuana programs, such as through the STATES Act.


Senate reverses decision on inhaling medical marijuana

Original article by Mark Ballard at TheAdvocate.com

With an amendment, the Senate Monday reversed its opposition to allowing patients to inhale medical marijuana.

Senators voted 21-14 Saturday to strike inhalation, then killed the bill. On Monday the Senate included inhaling then advanced the legislation on a vote of 31-7.

St. Martin Parish Republican Sen. Fred Mills brought House Bill 358 back up Monday and added language that dosage could only be taken using a metered dose inhaler.

“You’re not smoking at all, it’s just a puff of the medication,” Mills said. “It’s just the delivery form of the concentration of the medicine.”

Medical marijuana patients take their doses orally. Inhaling allows the medicine to hit the system faster, he said.

Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said when the program to allow the use of marijuana products for medicinal purposes a few years ago, promises were made that patients wouldn’t be allowed to inhale marijuana. The products are used to combat pain and seizures.

Mills’ amendment was approved on a 30-7 vote.

House Bill 358 by Baton Rouge Democratic Rep. Ted James would have let therapeutic cannabis patients use an inhaler, like asthma patients use. The House overwhelmingly had agreed to the inhalation proposal.

The original language in HB358 was not tight, but the amendments added enough restrictions, said Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles. “This is not inhaling raw marijuana,” he said.

Medicinal-grade pot isn’t yet available to patients. Regulatory disagreements slowed getting the product to shelves, with estimates it could be available later this month.

Voting to allow inhaling medical marijuana (31): President Alario and Sens. Allain, Barrow, Bishop, Boudreaux, Carter, Chabert, Colomb, Cortez, Donahue, Erdey, Gatti, Hensgens, Hewitt, Johns, LaFleur, Lambert, Luneau, Martiny, Mills, Morrell, Morrish, Peacock, Peterson, Price, Riser, G. Smith, J. Smith, Tarver, Ward and White.

Voting against HB358 (7): Sens Appel, Claitor, Fannin, Long, Milkovich, Thompson and Walsworth.

Not Voting (1): Sen Mizell

Read the full article at: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/legislature/article_788064ac-8643-11e9-9f4e-8f54e3043bf2.html


Lawmakers back legislation to legalize hemp, regulate CBD products in Louisiana

Original article by Sam Karlin at TheAdvocate.com

 

Louisiana lawmakers have agreed to legalize the growth of hemp and allow the sale of some CBD products, sending two pieces of legislation to the governor’s desk that would lay out a highly-regulated program in line with the federal farm bill.

State Rep. Clay Schexnayder’s House Bill 491, which was heavily rewritten in the Senate, won final approval from the House Monday. The bill lays out a tightly-regulated program for growing hemp, with oversight from the state Agriculture Department.

Another bill by Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, would exempt hemp grown in line with federal regulations from the legal definition of marijuana and defines the drug. House Bill 138 is headed to the governor’s desk.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has voiced support for allowing and regulating the growth of hemp.

Hemp comes from the same species of plant, Cannabis Sativa, as marijuana. Unlike marijuana, however, hemp does not have enough THC to get users high. Instead, it is used in a wide range of industrial products, textiles, fuels and other products. Producers also extract Cannabidiol, or CBD, from hemp, infusing the chemical with oils, tinctures, lotions, food products and others.

Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain would have broad regulatory powers over the hemp program, creating rules, handling permits and destroying crops that don’t meet THC thresholds. Strain has said the program will be tightly-regulated and in line with federal rules.

Supporters have touted the legislation as a potential boon to Louisiana farmers.

“When our farmers are having a down year, they’ll be able to grow a crop that will be successful,” Schexnayder said in a recent hearing on the bill.

The sale of CBD products has spread in Louisiana in recent years, but in a legal gray area. State agencies have disagreed on whether CBD products, which don’t get users high, are legally distinguishable from marijuana. Supporters have said CBD has health benefits, and while the products have become increasingly available to consumers, some state agencies have cracked down on their sale.

Sales of CBD products have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months, culminating in the high-profile arrest of a CBD seller in Lafayette last month.

Connick’s bill distinguishes CBD and marijuana, and Schexnayder’s bill lays out a list of regulations for selling CBD products. The products would be regulated by the Louisiana Department of Health and Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control under the bill.

Schexnayder’s bill was rewritten multiple times in the Senate.

The 2018 federal farm bill laid out a process for states to grow hemp, and Louisiana is expected to submit a plan to the USDA by November if the governor signs off on the proposal.

The legislation bans selling CBD in beverages unless the Food and Drug Administration approves of it as a food additive, and also prohibits CBD products marketed as dietary supplements. CBD products would have to come from hemp grown under a state program outlined by either the 2014 or 2018 farm bill and meet certain labeling requirements.

Penalties for processing or selling CBD products that don’t meet the requirements in the rule would take effect Jan. 1, 2020. Currently, CBD products are sold throughout Louisiana despite some state officials, including Strain, dubbing them illegal.

Read the full article at: https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/legislature/article_8a8ea0e8-8646-11e9-a7e8-2343d72c48f5.html


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