Health officials & DEA in touch about cannabis rescheduling (Newsletter: January 16, 2024)

Ramaswamy on marijuana & psychedelics; Congressman’s “angry” legalization speech; IN psilocybin; NCAA cannabis changes; AR ballot; RI sales; ME decrim

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra said his department is in touch with the Drug Enforcement Administration about its pending marijuana rescheduling recommendation.

  • “We put it all out there for them. We continue to offer them any follow up, technical information if they have any questions.”

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is pledging to legalize Schedule I drugs such as marijuana and psychedelics for military veterans with PTSD and provide access through the Department of Veterans Affairs as an alternative to fentanyl.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) delivered a self-described “angry” House floor speech about the failure of federal marijuana reform efforts to advance—but said it’s “not too late” to still get something done this year.

An Indiana Republican senator filed a bill to create a state fund to support research on the benefits of psilocybin in treating military veterans and first responders with PTSD, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and other conditions. Its first hearing is on Wednesday.

NCAA’s Division I Council formally advanced a proposal to remove marijuana from the banned substances list and drug testing program for student athletes, with a final vote expected in June.

The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation reported that marijuana retailers set a new monthly sales record in December—capping off more than $100 million in cannabis purchases in 2023.

Arkansas activists filed a ballot initiative to expand medical cannabis access by allowing homegrow and removing the specific list of qualifying conditions. It would also trigger recreational marijuana legalization after federal reform.

The Maine legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee is set to hold a hearing on a bill to decriminalize drugs on Wednesday.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning “narco-criminal violence” in Ecuador.

A federal judge denied the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by an ayahuasca church.

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) tweeted, “The fentanyl crisis isn’t just a law enforcement problem—it’s a mental health problem, & we must face it head-on instead of repeating the failures of the War on Drugs.”

Delaware Democratic congressional candidate Sarah McBride, who is a state senator, discussed concerns about localities that opt out of allowing legal marijuana sales.

/ STATES

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) cited marijuana legalization as one of the top accomplishments of his first year in office.

Idaho’s attorney general argued in a U.S. Supreme Court brief that the federal government cannot use the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act “to override in the emergency room state laws about abortion any more than it can use it to override state law on organ transplants or marijuana use.”

A Kansas representative said he is not optimistic his medical cannabis legalization bill will advance this session.

A South Carolina representative will speak at a cannabis rally at the Statehouse on Wednesday.

A Washington State senator filed a bill to increase penalties for people who rob marijuana dispensaries.

A Kentucky representative spoke about her noncommercial marijuana legalization bill.

Vermont regulators provided lawmakers with an update on the size of the cannabis market.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Development held a hearing on draft rules for distributing money from the Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund.

New York and New Jersey regulators made social media posts connecting their cannabis legalization implementation work to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

California officials published a brochure on the state’s cannabis inspection program.

Alaska’s Advisory Task Force on Recreational Marijuana Legalization will meet on Tuesday.


Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

The Brooklyn, New York district attorney’s office said it will no longer prosecute weight-based marijuana possession cases.

Montgomery County, Maryland law enforcement officials say that restrictions on past marijuana use by police applicants are hurting recruitment.

The Riverside County, California sheriff is being sued for allegedly illegally raiding a cannabis growing operation.

/ INTERNATIONAL

German state interior ministers issued a report expressing concerns about marijuana legalization.

Malta’s government formed a committee to consider issues related to the synthetic cannabinoid HHC.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study “shows that the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects of…a full-spectrum cannabis extract are enhanced relative to that of CBD alone, highlighting the potential therapeutic efficacy…for the treatment of neuropathologies such as autism spectrum disorder and related neuropathologies.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

Dr. Drew Pinsky said that marijuana has negative effects but not as much as alcohol does.

/ BUSINESS

The Cannabist Company Holdings Inc. has a new CEO and president.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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