The five best U.S. senators on marijuana policy

With the 2018 election almost upon us, I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about why Congress has never passed a bill legalizing marijuana.

Despite overwhelming public support for both medical marijuana and regulating it like alcohol, our government has been incredibly slow to turn that into policy.

There are many reasons for this, but 535 of the biggest reasons are the members of Congress themselves — debates in the legislative branch aren’t just abstract concepts, but conversations between real people with their own beliefs and priorities. I started this series with the five best U.S. House Reps on marijuana policy, and followed that up with the five worst House members. This week, I’m turning my attention to the Senate, and once again I’ll lead with the best. My team at 4Front and I looked at senators’ voting records, public statements, committee positions, and other factors to see who ranks as the top champions of reform in the legislature’s upper house.

Despite having fewer members to choose from, narrowing down the top five leaders in reform was even harder in the Senate than in the House. This is because there are far more than five champions in the Senate, with multiple strong champions on both sides of the aisle. In NORML’s 2016 Congressional Scorecard, 38 Senators got a B or higher. The CARERS Act of 2015, which would have legalized medical marijuana, got up to 19 sponsors. The STATES Act of 2018, which would allow states to legalize marijuana for adults, currently has 10 sponsors.

After putting this list together, I did notice one major trend: Jeff Merkley, first elected in 2008, is the most senior senator in our top five. Since he is only the 44th most senior senator overall, this reflects the generational nature of marijuana reform. Politicians who just got elected did so at a time when marijuana legalization outpolls most candidates, while those who entered public service decades ago came of age when supporting legalization was taboo. Some candidates have updated their views, but sometimes they hold onto their prohibitionist beliefs until they’re voted out of office.

Another trend that sticks out is that, while this remains a largely bipartisan issue, it has become one that Democrats with national aspirations now must embrace in order to be viable in a Democratic primary. Between those who made the list and the honorable mentions, it includes most of the Democratic Senators largely considered front runners for the 2020 party nomination. Even former prosecutor Kamala Harris (D-CA) who didn’t quite make the cut has recently embraced legalization in her rhetoric. As Republicans like Cory Gardner from states with legal cannabis have started coming around on legalization, supporting prohibition has become an untenable position for anyone seeking elected office as a Democrat, a notable shift in the party’s dynamics over the past few years.

1: Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Senator Booker was first elected in a 2013 special election, and then won a campaign for a full term in 2014. As a member of the Judiciary Committee he quickly became a champion of marijuana policy reform, either introducing or sponsoring nearly all of the major reform bills considered by the Senate.

In 2015, he was one of three senators to introduce the CARERS Act to legalize medical marijuana (he also re-introduced it this Congress). In 2017, he introduced his own Marijuana Justice Act to end federal marijuana prohibition and provide incentives for states to legalize, going further than other bills by attempting to correct some of the worst injustices of marijuana prohibition. And he’s one of the 10 Senators who are sponsoring the STATES Act, which is the main bipartisan vehicle for legalizing marijuana under the Trump Administration.

Booker’s term is not over until 2020, but it is unclear whether he will seek re-election since he is commonly discussed as a contender for the Democratic nomination for President. Whether he remains in the Senate or seeks the Presidency, it’s clear that Booker will run on a platform that includes marijuana legalization.

2: Cory Gardner (R-CO)

Senator Gardner and Senator Booker have a lot in common: they were elected to their first full terms in 2014, they’re both named Cory, and they’re leading their parties on marijuana reform. However, they approach the issue from very different perspectives. Booker strongly believes in marijuana legalization, with a focus on the racial and social injustices of prohibition.

Gardner actually opposed marijuana legalization when it was being considered by Colorado voters in 2012, but after it was passed and implemented, he decided it was his responsibility to protect the will of his constituents from federal intervention. After Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he was revoking the Cole Memo, Gardner led a blockade of DOJ nominees that ended with President Trump agreeing to support reform. To follow up on this commitment, Senator Gardner teamed with Senator Warren to introduce the STATES Act, which would let states make their own marijuana policies.

Gardner is not up for re-election until 2020. Being from a purple state like Colorado that has trended blue in recent years, Gardner could hardly afford to be seen as anti-legalization in a state with that continues to lead the nation on cannabis. His transformation on this issue may have been less about a change of heart and more about protecting his electoral future. Whatever the reason, we are thankful for his recent work and advocacy on this issue.

3: Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Senator Warren was first elected in 2012, and spoke in favor of the medical marijuana ballot initiative that was also being voted on in Massachusetts that year. The initiative passed, and Warren became a leader on medical marijuana policy in the Senate, advocating for cannabis as a way to help combat the opioid overdose crisis.

And while she did not publicly endorse Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana initiative approved in 2016 (although she claimed to have done so after the fact), she did vote in favor of it. Since then, she has also led on legalizing marijuana for all adults, most notably as the lead Democratic sponsor of the STATES Act.

Warren is up for re-election this year, and faces a Republican opponent who has fought against marijuana reform in the state legislature. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like we need to worry about losing this champion in 2018, since polls show her with a 26-point lead. But Warren might not finish that term, as she is also discussed as a contender for the 2020 presidential race.

4: Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

As mentioned above, Merkley is the most senior senator who made it into our top five. He has been able to use this seniority, as well as his position as a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, to fight for major changes to U.S. marijuana policy.

He’s led the fight for his namesake Merkley Amendment, which would have blocked federal regulators from going after banks for working with marijuana businesses. While it has passed in committee multiple times, unfortunately the amendment has not yet made it into law. He also is a leader on the Daines/Merkley Amendment, which would allow doctors within the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana in states where it is legal. No wonder NORML gave him an A.

Senator Merkley is not up for re-election until 2020.

5: Rand Paul (R-KY)

Senator Paul, first elected in 2010, is the second-most senior member of our top five. Despite representing conservative Kentucky, which doesn’t even allow for the medical use of cannabis, Paul has a strong libertarian streak and has advocated for reform since long before it was popular.

He’s following in the footsteps of his father Ron Paul, who for many years was the only Republican member of the House to sponsor marijuana reform legislation.  Rand Paul was the lead Republican on the CARERS Act, and is now one of five Republicans sponsoring the STATES Act. Like Senator Gardner, Senator Paul’s party identification is particularly important while Republicans control both the Senate and the presidency.

Senator Paul is not up for re-election until 2020.

Honorable mentions

The lawmakers above deserve recognition as the five best in the Senate, but there are many others who have also done great work to advance the cause of marijuana legalization. We can’t list them all, but here are a few quick highlights:

  • Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
    • Senator Sanders is the only member to receive an A+ gradefrom NORML, and his advocacy during the 2016 presidential primary demonstrated the issue’s popularity among Democrats.
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
    • Senator Leahy is the most senior member of the entire Senate, ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, and a member of the Judiciary Committee.
  • Steve Daines (R-MT)
    • Senator Daines serves on the Appropriations Committee, and is the lead Republican sponsor of the Daines/Merkley amendment.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
    • Another potential Democratic Party 2020 nominee, Senator Gillibrand was the original sponsor of the CARERS Act with Senators Booker and Paul, and also joined as a sponsor of Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act.
  • Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
    • To be clear, the current Senate Minority Leader has not traditionally been a friend of marijuana reform. But he had a major change of heart this year, introducing the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act to legalize marijuana at the federal level. A party leader introducing reform legislation earns a place on this list despite his past transgressions on this issue. Your move Mitch McConnell…

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Cannabis jobs in Canada: What are they, and how do I get one?

Recreational marijuana legalization may have happened Oct. 17, but job postings for the cannabis industry— and interest in them— is still blooming. According to an August report from job site Indeed, openings from the cannabis industry have more than tripled since last July, and searches for terms like cannabis, marijuana, and dispensary have more than quadrupled.

‘A candidate market’ for jobs

Jennifer Ellis, human resources manager at medical marijuana company Cronos Group, told HuffPost Canada “it’s really a candidate market as opposed to an employer market.”

It’s unclear how many jobs will be created and what the skills shortage will be now that marijuana is legal. But Ellis said though she’s received a lot of resumes for jobs at Cronos, it’s been difficult to find candidates with cannabis experience because it’s such a new industry.

But many skills in other fields are transferable, such as horticulture or working in a greenhouse.

Quality assurance for a food manufacturer would also give a job-seeker transferable skills, she said, because that type of work is also done under strict regulations set by Health Canada.

“It’s a lot more challenging for employers right now,” she said.

Ellis recommends putting a high-level summary on resumes or writing strong cover letters so employers can see what transferable skills candidates have.

A company in Toronto is hiring part-time workers to smoke marijuana, but most jobs don’t necessarily involve cannabis consumption.

Many of the administrative jobs are typical of any emerging or rapidly growing industry, such as marketing or sales. But of course, production jobs are aplenty.

Professionals in the cannabis industry say the main jobs in demand (as echoed by the Indeed report), are for workers to grow marijuana and for others to sell it.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance workers for cannabis companies can be hard to find, as they need to not only be able to work with growers, but also follow proper procedure, fill out paperwork, and operate under a government framework.

Alison McMahon is the co-founder of Cannabis At Work, an organization with a website for jobs in the cannabis industry, and provides training to workplaces on how to deal with marijuana.

McMahon said the highest volume of jobs she sees is in quality assurance for licensed cannabis producers, who need to be able to work under a combination of government regulations.


The number two spot in the Indeed report, budtenders are retail workers at private dispensaries or Crown corporations, depending on the province.

Growing, cultivation, and production

As more licensed medical marijuana producers shift into the business of growing recreational pot— not to mention the new entrants to the business— the demand for growers, preferably with experience, is rising.

“In terms of demand, where there’s a shortage of talent, then we’re talking more on the cultivation side, especially more senior growers who do actually have experience within the regulated framework,” McMahon said.

Marketing and sales

Marketing and sales are a key role for companies in the cannabis industry. After legalization, they’ll need to be able to get their names and products out to larger retailers and bigger brands— a shift from working with smaller dispensaries or head shops.

Sasha Kadey is the chief marketing officer at Greenlane, a distributor that supplies products like bongs and vaporizers to smoke shops and dispensaries. He told HuffPost Canada that cannabis culture and the way consumers make purchasing decisions “doesn’t exactly resemble anything else out there.”

“Understanding how that 20 per cent of consumers that consume 80 per cent of the cannabis make their purchasing decisions and develop an affinity for a particular brand, can be pretty hard to understand if you’re not familiar with the culture, because it’s a little unique,” he said.

Kadey said there’s a lot of people out there who have a lot of marijuana product knowledge and many people with conventional business experience, but “not a huge, easily accessible population of people who have both.”

“The sort of sought-after skills— that are actually quite hard to find in the right combination— are people who have the traditional business acumen and experience, but can couple that with sort of intricate knowledge of cannabis culture and the way cannabis consumers make their purchasing decisions.”

The ideal candidate

McMahon told HuffPost Canada that finding someone with the right traits to work in the field can sometimes be more challenging than finding the right credentials. She said the perfect candidate is entrepreneurial and can work in an environment that’s constantly changing.

“It’s an incredibly fast-paced industry..even if you think you’ve been in some other industry that’s fast-paced, this sector is really, really, really demanding in terms of people’s time, but also just the pace at which they can work.”

Ellis said she’s also looking for people with a long-term commitment to a company.

“You want people to have the right attitude and come in because they want to see how the industry’s going to evolve, not just someone who necessarily comes in for a paycheque,” she said.

“Because it is such an exciting time, you want those people who are passionate about it, and who believe in it. It’s really important to the product as well.”

There’s a ton of opportunities to learn new things, and to kind of make your own little specialty area in terms of skill set within the industry. Alison McMahon, Cannabis At Work

McMahon said because cannabis is “one of the most prominent growth sectors over the next number of years,” working in the field is “an opportunity to get it still kind of early in the game.”

“It’s a really interesting way to take whatever your skill set is and transfer that into a new industry where it is very exciting,” she said.

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Mexico may be next to legalize cannabis: incoming FM

Mexico “absolutely” could follow Canada’s lead in legalizing marijuana as a way to reduce violence generated by a war on drugs that “doesn’t work,” its incoming foreign minister said Tuesday.

Marcelo Ebrard, who will become foreign minister when Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office December 1, said he discussed Ottawa’s experience Monday with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Asked whether Mexico might follow Canada’s example, Ebrard told reporters, “Sure, absolutely.”

“We think it is a very interesting option in the short term for Mexico,” he said. “We think there are two options: the Canadian model or the Uruguay model.”

“It doesn’t make sense to have a law forbidding the possession or production of cannabis and we have 9,000 people in jail for that, we have a huge amount of violence in the country,” Ebrard said.

“You spend a huge amount of money (on policing), you cause suffering for a lot of people and it doesn’t make sense.”

Prohibition, he added, “doesn’t work, you have the cannabis anyway.”

Canada legalized cannabis on October 17, becoming the first major economy to do so. Uruguay legalized recreational use of the drug in 2013.

Mexico has long been a major supplier of marijuana and other illegal drugs to the US market, spawning powerful drug cartels and violent struggles for control of drug routes.

Since 2006, when the government deployed the army to fight the cartels, more than 200,000 people have been murdered, including a record 28,702 last year.

Another 37,000 people are reported missing.

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Canada: Want future job security? Take a college course on cannabis

Canada is legalizing recreational cannabis for adult use on October 17, so now would be the time to take a college course on cannabis.

With Canadian cannabis businesses offering sky-high wages in exchange for expertise, many are now looking for a reliable way to break into the industry. Prospective cannabis industry workers—and the businesses doing the hiring themselves—are now looking for academia to provide that bridge. Canada is preparing to officially legalize recreational cannabis for adult use on October 17. With the cannabis industry booming, businesses have begun teaming up with universities to expedite the implementation of college and university cannabis courses.

The cannabis company Sunniva, one of Canada’s licensed producers under the newly legal recreational cannabis legislation, has already partnered with Okanagan College in British Columbia.

The college recently created an advisory board in order to consult with legal cannabis companies like Sunniva directly, as to better inform their courses that train students to work in the cannabis industry. The courses offered to students range from programs on investment and trading, business, to cultivation and more.

While courses are often developed with governmental input, the cannabis industry is simply moving too fast. And as a new industry, cannabis businesses themselves are more experienced and can offer practical guidance. As thousands of new job opportunities crop up as a result of legalization, colleges need a way to keep up with the industry.

Cannabis companies are partnering with colleges1 Want Future Job Security? Take a College Course on Cannabis

This also stands to benefit both students who are looking for work within the cannabis industry and businesses that are seeking professionals to hire. As the CEO of Sunniva, Dr. Tony Holler, says in the Financial Post, cannabis businesses are currently forced to hire and train inexperienced employees themselves, which is both expensive and time-consuming.

Durham College in Ontario is also already offering a two-day course for business graduates to learn about medical cannabis, and this fall is rolling out a new specialization program in partnership with a subsidiary of Emblem Corp, a Canadian licensed cannabis producer. This program includes six courses, some of which require students to be at least 19 years old.

The Ontario college has also partnered with software company Ample Organics Inc, lab testing company Molecular Science Corp, recruitment company Cannabis at Work, and the publication CannaInvestor Magazine.

Niagara College is also now offering its own graduate certificate program for students who want to learn cannabis production, which was designed with the help of multiple licensed producers.

While this type of arrangement between cannabis companies and colleges is novel, so is the cannabis industry itself and the university courses needed to help it thrive.

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Border Patrol agents prepare for legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada

Recreational marijuana will be legal in Canada starting Oct. 17.

Border Patrol agents say they are ready for heavier traffic, which can impact anyone going to Canada.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Chief Officer Aaron Bowen warns anyone that may try to sneak weed back into the U.S. will face anything from a fine to a zero-tolerance policy.

“A smell is obviously going to alert an officer and probably going to get you a secondary exam because we want to make sure the actual marijuana isn’t in the vehicle,” Bowen says.

Medical marijuana will also be seized at the border.

Anyone who gets caught could be arrested and fined $500.

Agents urge people planning to use marijuana in Canada to spend the night or have a designated driver.

Weedcraft Inc. Is A Tycoon Simulator For Future Ganjapreneurs

Expect to play it in early 2019.

The cannabis industry is experiencing an all-time high when it comes to growth and acceptance for the plant that powers their business. Grassroots legalization efforts are happening all across the country, while surging stocks for cannabis companies, like Tilray, have reminded investors of the dotcom boom. Even politicians have turned heel, joining the Green Rush however they can.

Now you too can participate (from the comforts of your computer) thanks to a tycoon game-parody called Weedcraft Inc. Published by Devolver Digital, the game allows players the typical mechanics and systems found in a tycoon game, but wrapped in the specificity found in starting a marijuana business. Instead of a free-for-all sandbox experience, Weedcraft Inc. will follow a loose narrative, as players explore different vignettes of the cannabis start-up enterprise.

According to Alexander, the game will change based on the state and situation players find themselves in depending on the vignette. You can also play the game with varying degrees of morality and legality; bribing cops or building false storefronts to hide your cannabis farms is totally allowed. The line the game developers won’t cross? You won’t see any kids smoking weed on screen. The style in which you play the game will also affect whatever bonuses and abilities you’ll acquire.

“There are certain perks you can only get if you’re super shady,” Alexander said. “There are certain perks you can only get if you’re decent.”

“Right now, it’s like the end of Prohibition meets the Gold Rush,” Scott Alexander, the game’s main writer, told Polygon. “The federal illegality combined with the state-by-state legalization has created a financial morass and just a weird, interesting place. And we thought, ‘Well, that’s a tycoon game waiting to happen.’”

“Playing fully decent is like getting a cultural victory in Civilization,” he added. “[It’s like,] ‘Can I play the whole game without fucking anyone over?’”

According to Devolver Digital co-founder Mike Wilson, you can expect Weedcraft Inc. to debut in early 2019.

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Medical marijuana businesses given deadline to get licensed with state

LANSING, Mich. — The deadline for medical marijuana businesses to get a license from the state has changed, again.

Businesses now have until October 31 to get a license or face legal action from police or the state attorney general’s office.

This is the fourth time this year officials have changed the deadline.

Officials with the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs are trying to force businesses into a licensed system.

Last month, state officials tried to force nearly 100 medical marijuana businesses to close because they hadn’t submitted paperwork by the previous deadline of September 15.

In November, voters will decide whether or not recreational marijuana should be legal for adults in Michigan.

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Boston inches forward with recreational marijuana permits

Every two weeks, at meetings of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, marijuana officials display a map showing how many completed applications for recreational pot business licenses have been submitted from each county in the state.

Conspicuously lagging behind: Suffolk County, home to Boston — which, unlike most cities in the state that haven’t banned such companies, has yet to issue a local permit to a recreational marijuana operator.

Now, those numbers are poised to grow. Officials in the administration of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh told the Globe last week that the city will negotiate its first so-called “host community agreements” with marijuana companies in the first two weeks of October.

Those contracts are required in order to win a state license from the commission, so Walsh’s signature on one would allow that company to move forward at the state level. The deals typically call for payments from the company to the municipality and spell out other conditions, such as the facility’s hours of operation.

City Hall officials declined to put a timeline on when pot shops might open in Boston, however, saying it depends on when the state issues final licenses to applicants from the city. They also declined to make Walsh or other city leaders available for an on-the-record interview.

The officials also gave new details on how they would apply the city’s zoning rules, which require a half-mile buffer between licensed marijuana facilities. In several neighborhoods, two applicants are vying for permission to open in the same area, raising the question of how the city would choose between them.

The officials said those decisions will be made by the office of Alexis Tkachuk, the city’s director of emerging industries, in collaboration with the city’s transportation, planning, and legal departments.

Officials will consider a number of variables: which company applied first, the reaction of neighbors to each proposal, traffic impacts, how the proposal fits within the city’s development and planning schemes, and whether the company is eligible for state programs boosting entrepreneurs from communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

Those variables, however, will not be weighted, and applicants won’t be assigned a score. Instead, officials will simply judge the “totality” of each application.

That behind-closed-doors process is unlikely to placate advocates and some city councilors, who have called on the city to enact more robust mandates favoring companies owned by minorities and local residents over wealthy out-of-state investors.

Shanel Lindsay, an attorney, businesswoman, and the cofounder of Equitable Opportunities Now, a group pushing for equity in the cannabis industry, slammed the city’s “opaque” process. She said the failure to create an objective standard and make decisions in public opens the door to bias and favoritism, and is likely to favor already-wealthy white operators who can afford to hire sophisticated lawyers and former city officials to grease the wheels.

“This is exactly what we were worried about,” Lindsay said. “It’s really vague and subjective. There’s no clear standard, no community collaboration, no transparency, and no clear acknowledgment of the necessity to make equity a prevailing favor in their decisions.”

City officials noted that every applicant must hold a public hearing and address neighborhood concerns. They also said they would consider waiving the half-mile buffer for applicants that qualify for the state commission’s equity programs, explaining that such entrepreneurs might apply later, after prime properties are taken and buffer zones have been drawn around facilities whose owners moved faster. The process for seeking such an accommodation is unclear, though.

Officials further stressed that Boston, unlike other municipalities, hasn’t categorically zoned marijuana businesses out of residential areas or off of main streets. They also pledged not to impose onerous conditions on or demand large payments from marijuana operators, saying the city’s host community agreements would mostly be focused on addressing concerns raised by neighbors — for example, agreeing not to install benches and picnic tables where people might hang out and smoke weed.

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US gov’t approve importation of pot drug for tremor study

SAN DIEGO — In a rare move, the US government has approved the importation of marijuana extracts from Canada for a clinical trial, highlighting a new avenue for American researchers who have long had trouble obtaining the drug for medical studies.

The University of California San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research announced Tuesday the Drug Enforcement Administration has OK’d its plans to import capsules containing two key cannabis compounds — CBD and THC — from British Columbia-based Tilray Inc . to study their effectiveness in treating tremors that afflict millions of people, especially those over 65.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and researchers aren’t allowed to simply obtain it through providers licensed under state law. The US has a program for supplying it for research through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, with cannabis grown by the University of Mississippi, but scientists have long complained about the difficulty of obtaining it, as well as the quality and limited variety of the pot available.

The University of California San Diego researchers spent years planning and seeking approval for their study from the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration. Paul Armentano, deputy director of the marijuana law reform organization NORML, said that illustrated how badly American researchers need alternative sources for cannabis.

“It’s very telling that you have researchers in the U.S. willing to exert the patience and go through the regulatory hurdles to make this happen at the same time the United States has its own domestic supply source,” Armentano said.

Medical marijuana is federally legal in Canada, and the country will allow recreational sale and use beginning next month.

Marijuana compounds have been imported for clinical trials before, including by Britain-based GW Pharmaceuticals, which won approval this year to sell its purified CBD capsule, Epidiolex, to treat severe forms of epilepsy — the first cannabis drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. While GW Pharmaceuticals developed that drug in-house before bringing it to the US for testing, Tilray, which recently became the first marijuana company to complete an initial public stock offering in the US, said it can work with researchers to develop the cannabis formulations they hope to study.

“It’s a really big milestone for Tilray and also just for the whole industry,” said Catherine Jacobson, Tilray’s director of clinical research. “Researchers in the U.S. have really been limited to doing research using dried flower. We have been able to prove to the FDA that we can manufacture investigational study drugs containing cannabinoids that meet their standards.”

Neither the FDA nor the DEA had immediate details on how often the agencies have approved the import or use of foreign-made cannabis drugs in research, but DEA spokeswoman Katherine Pfaff says: “It is done. There are definitely situations where, when there’s no source in the U.S., a registrant can import a cannabis-derived drug from another country.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse usually provides marijuana as bulk flower or joints to be vaporized or smoked.
NIDA, which does intend to expand how much marijuana the University of Mississippi grows for research, does not yet provide marijuana compounds in capsules, said Don Stanford, assistant director of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the university.

Researchers say it’s tough to measure the dose someone receives when they inhale pot. Dr. Fatta Nahab, a neurologist at the University of California San Diego Health’s Movement Disorder Center, is the principal investigator on the tremor study. He said he worried that the seniors he expected to recruit as participants wouldn’t want to inhale marijuana, and the researchers have spent the past two years on paperwork and regulatory hurdles to obtain the capsules.

There is no specific drug to treat essential tremor, a shaking condition. Unlike Parkinson’s disease, which causes shaking when someone is not moving, people with essential tremors shake when they are, making everyday activities like writing, drinking and speaking difficult. The condition afflicts 10 million people nationally and millions more across the globe, according to the International Essential Tremor Foundation.

Many patients try to control the shaking by repurposing other drugs, such as blood pressure medicine, with limited success.

“There is a huge need to come up with something,” Nahab said.

Nahab said he started looking into whether marijuana could be used to treat essential tremor after two patients showed sudden improvement after smoking pot or consuming CBD purchased online.

The FDA application outlined the drug formula — a 20:1 ratio of CBD to THC, to minimize any high study participants might feel — as well as its purity, toxicity, shelf life and other details. They also had to get safety approvals from the university and present their plans to a California research advisory panel.

The university is still recruiting patients and hopes to have 16 to 20 enrolled. Researchers monitor the tremors with a device placed on the wrist and will record changes in the severity of the shaking, among other things.

Tilray is providing the drug and limited financial support but said it will have no role in reviewing the study’s results.

“Essential tremor is ten times more common than Parkinson’s and yet nobody really knows about essential tremor,” Nahab said. “That we’re finally getting to a potential therapeutic option in an area that is untapped is a big deal.”

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Is psilocybin next for drug reformers after cannabis legalization?

Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), a U.S. Senate candidate, delivered fired up comments about marijuana, Botham Jean’s killing by police and the racially discriminatory drug war.

Activists in Denver, Colorado and Oregon took steps this month toward qualifying ballot measures allowing psilocybin use.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who has a history of saying mean-spirited and inaccurate things about people who use cannabis, took a dig at marijuana consumers in an unrelated comment about fighting back against climate change.

  • “We either do nothing and smoke marijuana because it’s legalized, or we put our shoulder to the plow and do everything we can.”


The Trump administration is organizing a drug policy event outside of this month’s United Nations General Assembly, according to leaked documents.

The Department of Justice convened a meeting in Denver for U.S. attorneys to discuss marijuana policy.

Congresswoman Mia Love (R-UT) said she’s undecided on the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure, while her Democratic challenger supports it.

Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and his Democratic opponent are taking differing positions on rescheduling marijuana.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) discussed marijuana policy while sampling CBD-infused beer.

The U.S. Senate bill to encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs to study medical cannabis got one new cosponsor, for a total of five.

The U.S. House bill to protect federal employees from getting fired for state-legal marijuana use got two new cosponsors, for a total of three.


Here’s an advance look at the details of New Jersey’s soon-to-be-filed marijuana legalization billGov. Phil Murphy (D) supports a higher tax rate than is proposed in the bill, but said he’s “not ruling anything out.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) spoke about his support for expanding marijuana research.

Utah’s lieutenant governor asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to remove a medical cannabis initiative from the state’s ballot.

California’s treasurer tweeted, “We’re exploring a public cannabis bank so biz don’t have to operate purely in cash. Carrying around thousands of dollars paints a target on legal biz & increases violence in communities. Until DC takes action, CA will lead on legalized cannabis.”

Missouri appeals court affirmed a judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit that one medical cannabis campaign filed seeking to remove a competing measure from the ballot.

Here’s a look at where Minnesota gubernatorial candidates stand on legalizing marijuana.

Illinois Democratic attorney general candidate Kwame Raoul said he supports legalizing marijuana but wants to regulate edibles.

Alaska regulators certified changes to rules on marijuana advertising and promotions.

Massachusetts regulators will consider granting marijuana retail, cultivation and manufacturing licenses on Thursday.

Here’s a look at where New York is on the path to legalizing marijuana.


Manhattan’s district attorney spoke at a marijuana industry event, saying he wants cannabis entrepreneurs to “be successful and legal.”

The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma City Council adopted ordinances regulating medical cannabis businesses.


The South African government and lawmakers reacted to a court ruling overturning the prohibition on using and growing marijuana for personal use.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the death sentence of a man convicted of selling medical cannabis oil should be reviewed.


A study “demonstrated rapid and durable improvement in social anxiety symptoms in autistic adults following MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.”

A majority of participants in a trial on CBD’s effects on severe epilepsy are seeing improvement in seizures.


A poll found that Maryland residents support legalizing marijuana, 62% – 33%.


Aurora Cannabis Inc. addressed reports that it is in talks with the Coca-Cola Company about making CBD beverages together.


Actress Kristen Bell said she likes to vaporize marijuana and watch 60 Minutes.

Comedian Chelsea Handler tweeted, “Coca-Cola is supposedly considering cannabis-infused drinks. Just a reminder: there are still people in prison because of marijuana. Let’s address that first.”

Maine restaurant Charlotte Grill thinks it’s more “humane” to blow marijuana smoke into a box of lobsters before boiling them to death.

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