Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring Invites Lawmakers to Cannabis Summit

Now that Democrats have won control of both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly, cannabis is back in the conversation. Democrat lawmakers have already formed the Virginia Cannabis Caucus and some have already announced plans to file legalization proposals in the legislative session that begins in January. But Democrats face an uphill battle as they work to turn those bills into laws. And it’s Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring who’s stepping up to take a leading role in shifting Virginia politics toward meaningful marijuana reform.

On December 11, Attorney General Herring will host the 2019 Virginia Cannabis Summit. The summit will feature panel presentations and discussions with researchers who study cannabis and policy experts from states with legalized or decriminalized marijuana. Herring wants Virginia lawmakers to attend, in hopes the summit can elevate the upcoming debates on cannabis reform bills. Herring wants Virginia to move toward fully legal adult use, and the summit is about ensuring policymakers have real knowledge and experience shaping their decisions.

What’s on the Agenda for Herring’s Cannabis Summit?

Attorney General Herring’s invitation to the 2019 Virginia Cannabis Summit says the event will consist of four panels of experts from around the country. The panels will

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Massachusetts Lawmakers Ban Flavored Tobacco and Vaping Products

After months of grappling with how best to address the health costs of vaping, Massachusetts lawmakers have opted to ban the sweet (and minty) stuff. On Thursday, members of the state’s House of Representatives voted to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco and vape products. The vote was handed down shortly before the members of Congress broke for the holidays. 

And that’s not all. The vaping products that remain legal will be subject to a whopping 75 excise tax. 

The vote marks the first time such a statewide prohibition has been enacted in the United States, although San Francisco lawmakers banned the sale of all vaping products earlier this year. Other states have enacted temporary bans on certain products, as in the case of Oregon, where a prohibition was overturned by the courts that would have blocked the sale of flavored cannabis vaping products.

The legislation will now go to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker, who has already established himself as an advocate for limiting access to vaping. In October, he enacted an emergency four-month ban on all vaping products in a move that was deemed outside his authority by a judge. The decision was handed over to Massachusetts’

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Ontario Working Toward Open Market for Cannabis: Ford

Premier Doug Ford says his government is still working toward its commitment to an open cannabis retail system, and more stores will be opening in the new year.

The Progressive Conservative government had initially said there would be no cap on the number of retail pot shops after cannabis was legalized.

But a supply shortage prompted the Tories to move to a lottery system, capping the initial number of pot retail licences to just 25, and later holding a second lottery for 42 more.

– Read the entire article at Toronto Sun.

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Not Many North Dakotans Are Applying To Have Their Cannabis Offenses Pardoned

A new North Dakota program to expunge the records of low-level cannabis offenders has seen few takers so far, leading state officials wondering how to better get the word out. Under the program, offenders with convictions for minor marijuana crimes can receive a pardon and have their records cleared if they refrain from further unlawful behavior for five years.

The policy change was spearheaded by Republican Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem as a way to ease the collateral damage caused by convictions for minor drug crimes, such as problems obtaining employment, housing, and educational benefits. The action was supported by fellow Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, who said that the change could help “address our state’s workforce shortage and grow the economy.”

Stenehjem has estimated that up to 175,000 North Dakotans convicted of minor crimes committed over several decades are eligible for the pardon program and could have their criminal records cleared. But in the months since the program was launched in July, less than three dozen people have applied.

“I’m rather surprised that so few people have applied,” said Stenehjem, who is also one of five members of the state’s pardon advisory board. “We will look at ways to get word out.”

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New Mexico Could Expand Medical Marijuana Program To Include Dogs

Pot for pooches? It could happen in New Mexico, where activists are lobbying to expand the state’s medical marijuana program to cover ailing dogs. 

The Associated Press is reporting that the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board will take up a pair of petitions at its meeting next month to expand the qualifying medical conditions for medical cannabis. One petition is conventional: it calls for the program to extend to people with attention deficit disorder.

But the other one is where things get a bit more exotic. Citing veterinary studies in support of cannabis use for animals suffering from seizures, the petition calls for the state’s medical marijuana program to apply to dogs with epilepsy. 

The New Mexico Department of Health withheld the names of petition sponsors, according to the Associated Press.

Potential Problems With The Petition

It is unclear which studies the petitioner cited advocating for cannabis for canines. The American Veterinary Medical Association has said that “although cannabinoids such as CBD appear to hold therapeutic promise in areas such as the treatment of epilepsy and the management of pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, the available scientific evidence pertaining to their use in animals is currently limited.”


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Robert Crumb’s Stoner Art Worth up to a Quarter Million Dollars Goes to Auction

Robert Crumb’s original “Stoned Agin!” artwork is going up for bid for the first time ever in Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comic Art Auction Nov. 21-24 in Dallas, Texas. Crumb’s groundbreaking release of the first issue of Zap Comix in 1967, predating the premiere issue of High Times, included illustrated instructions informing readers how to hold in a hit and general tips about smoking pot more efficiently. From then on, Crumb more or less led the hippie comic book movement, defying all previously-held standards of censorship in mainstream comic books.

Crumb’s psychedelic legacy introduced the world to foul-mouthed cartoon characters such as Mr. Natural, the Keep On Truckin’ men, Mr. Snoid, Flakey Foont, and Fritz the Cat—which was released as an R-rated animated film and sequel. Crumb published Zap Comix, Head Comix, Your Hytone Comix, Weirdo Magazine, Mystic Funnies and dozens of other quirky titles over the years, almost always with a psychedelic theme. He also drew Big Brother and the Holding Company’s cover of Cheap Thrills for Janis Joplin and countless other contributions.

Robert Crumb’s Original Artwork

Crumb’s artwork “Stoned Agin!” [sic] depicts the various stages of the effects of cannabis—from being a little bit high to inner nirvana. The artwork original was

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The First Class of Winners of the Clio Cannabis Awards

Last night was a historic moment. In its 60th year of existence, the Clio Awards recognized a new category: cannabis.

The Clios were established in 1959 as a way to honor and celebrate the creative and artistic prowess of the advertising and marketing industries. Since its first year, the Clio Awards have considered submissions from a variety of industries, including fashion, sports, beauty, music, and health. This was the first year that the institution accepted submissions from agencies and businesses in the cannabis space.

In order to uphold the legacy for greatness that the Clios had maintained for 60 years, they partnered with High Times, a long-established voice in the scene, to present the inaugural Clio Cannabis Awards. To those intimately acquainted with either (or both) the cannabis space or advertising industry, this seemed like the perfect match. The Clios and High Times are two brands with the reputation of being at the forefront of their respective fields; it stands to reason that the two should merge for the joint venture of honoring innovation and creativity in advertising and marketing within the nascent legal cannabis space.

The Clio Cannabis Awards were held the evening of November 20th at NeueHouse Hollywood,

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House Judiciary Committee Approves Historic MORE Act

A cannabis legalization bill just got farther in the legislation process than any other such bill since prohibition. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act a.k.a. the MORE Act has passed the House judiciary committee by a vote of 24 to 10. If it is not claimed by another committee for review, HR 3884 will go onto to a floor vote in the House of Representatives.

“Thousands of individuals — overwhelmingly people of color — have been subjected, by the federal government, to unjust prison sentences for marijuana offenses,” said House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler, who has been one of the bill’s primary architects. “This needs to stop.”

“For the first time, a Congressional committee has approved far-reaching legislation to not just put an end to federal marijuana prohibition, but to address the countless harms our prohibitionist policies have wrought, notable on communities of color and other marginalized groups,” said NORML executive director Erik Altieri in a press release.

The MORE Act vs The SAFE Banking Act

Congress has fielded criticism for its first attempt at regulating cannabis, the SAFE Banking Act. Many marijuana activists noted that legislation was built around protecting financial institutions that work with cannabis companies

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New Study: Cannabis May Reduce Illicit Opioid Use For Those With Chronic Pain

How does cannabis use influence the use of illicit opioids to manage pain? That’s the question at the heart of a just-published study in a special issue of “PLOS Medicine” that focuses on substance use, misuse and dependence. For medical researchers, caregivers and patients, the need for an alternative to opioid painkillers is an urgent one. Opioid-related deaths are still on the rise across the United States and Canada, fueled by the emergence of synthetic opioids like fentanyl and a trend of over-prescribing pharmaceutical opioids. And the role cannabis might play in reducing opioid dependence and abuse is still little-understood.

But the new “PLOS Medicine” study, “Frequency of cannabis and illicit opioid use among people who use drugs and report chronic pain,” provides an important perspective on the question by researching individual-level data—something many current studies lack. Following more than 1,100 individuals over a 30-month period, researchers aimed to investigate associations between how often people with chronic pain use cannabis and how often they turn to illicit opioids. And what they found could change the way we look at cannabis and the opioid epidemic in dramatic ways.

Daily Cannabis Use Significantly Lowers Odds of Daily Illicit Opioid Use

Doctors over-prescribing

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