Massachusetts, Canada, California’s FPPC: Your Weekly Cannabis Briefing

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1. Dallas City Council, according to CBSDFW.com, Dallas city will conform with Dallas County takes to permit a “cite-and-release” marijuana policy as of its vote on April 12. New policy means people may be ticketed if they are caught with less than 4 ounces.

If cited and they are over 17, they will provide a thumbprint and appear in court as for a traffic ticket. The council considers this a vote to reduce jail time for nonviolent offenders and time spent by officers improving their response to other emergencies.

 

2. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions leads the news once again with a memo dated April 5 issued to the states’ attorneys general. According to BusinessINsider.com, The memo reports his formation of a task force to evaluate marijuana policy as a part of a review of crime reduction and public safety.

The task force focus will be ways the feds can effectively combat illegal immigration and violent crime. However, subcommittees will review current policies, including the Cole Memorandum, “in the areas of charging, sentencing and marijuana to ensure consistency with the department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime.”

Sessions wants the task force report by July 27.

 

3. US Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) will likely be named Drug Czar to head President Trump’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). His position on marijuana legislation is not clear. Opinion is that he is not a prohibitionist even though he may not be pro-legislation.

The Hill.com reports that Marino will more likely commit to a focus on the opioid addiction problem, a favorite concern of the candidate Trump and Marino’s previous work in Congress. His will likely concentrate on street drugs as a contributor to crime, and that would coincide with Session’s targets.

 

4. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will offer a plan to legalize possession and use of marijuana nationwide to Parliament on April 13. Newsweek advises that the Provinces will determine policies for distribution and sale, but Parliament will set up the national standards.

U.S. Rep, Earl Blumenauer (OR), a member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus noting Canada’s size and shared border, said, “It would shift the center of gravity” in the debate on expansion of legalization here. Canada’s stock exchange already sees American cannabis industry interests heading their way since they cannot seek public trading in the U.S.

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5. The U.S. House of Representatives moved to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule 3 drug on April 6th. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Darren Soto (D-FL) would move cannabis to the same class as anabolic steroids, making it easier for medical patients and researchers to secure marijuana.

 

6. Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper signed SB171-178 into law on April 6 to allow medical marijuana use on the part of criminal defendants awaiting trial or requiring abstinence as a condition of bond.

 

7. Massachusetts continues to wrestle with its own legislation permitting medical marijuana according to the New Hampshire Gazette. Continuing attempts to modify its administration are delaying its implementation, and it’s the medical marijuana community that is suffering.

Among the problems, the cities worry that permitting medical dispensaries will open the gate to recreational use stores. The current law says that, once recreational use is legalized, medical marijuana dispensaries can sell recreational products without additional licensing. That concerns city councils enough to delay permits without further clarification.

 

8. Oregon’s House of Representatives passed a bill (53-5) on April 10 that would protect marijuana buyers from penalties under federal law. It would specifically prohibit sellers from keeping customer information, this in the face of threats to prosecute from the U.S. Attorney General’s office. Sellers could collect information that customers volunteer for mailing lists on sales and product information, but the seller would be prohibited from providing the data to a third party.

 

9. The U.S. Transportation Security Authority asserts that it remains illegal to fly with marijuana even between states that have legalized use. Still, the T.S.A. is not screening for marijuana, preoccupied as it is with terroristic threats. If they discover marijuana during routine screening, they notify local police to handle it.

If you look at records, both the T.S.A. and the local police handle discovery very gingerly, often ignoring it or offering the passenger the chance to trash it to avoid penalty.

 

10. 44 U.S. Representatives, led by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-R), are pushing a bill to prohibit the federal Justice Department from messing in medical marijuana states. On April 10, he officially appealed to the chairs of the Committees for Commerce, Justice, and Science to include language in the next budget:

“None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used to enforce federal prohibitions involving the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes that are permitted by the laws of the state, the District of Columbia, or U.S. territory where the act was committed, or to prevent states, the District of Columbia, or U.S. territories from implementing their own laws that permit the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes.”

420net.com reports that Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action have threatened to connect every sponsoring member with campaign contributions from marijuana industry, saying that the industry special interests owned the members.

 

11. California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has ruled that SAM Action, Inc., the political opposition to pro-marijuana legislation, violated rules by failing to name those especial interests who contributed more than $50,000 to the Smart Approaches to Marijuana attempts to defeat Proposition 64.

The group claimed the violations were an oversight, but agreed to the $6,000 in levied fines. SAM’s failure to report as required is hypocritical coming from the group that has threatened to reveal ties between pro-legislation politicos and cannabis industry interests.

 

12. Maine narrowly passed its LD764, a bill to keep medical marijuana patients from being dropped from organ transplant waiting lists.

Members of the Health and Human Services Committee took advantage of house rules so they could secure the necessary absentee votes to pass the bill in the face of resistance led by doctors who fear contamination or organs from fungal infections and depleted immune systems.