U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar Calls for Federal Legalization, Montana and Arkansas Launch Adult-Use Ballot Initiatives: Week in Review

This week, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar called on the federal government to take the lead in legalizing cannabis, saying that legal differences between states are exacerbating economic inequality. Elsewhere, groups in Montana and Arkansas are leading efforts to place adult-use initiatives on the states’ 2020 ballots.

Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.

  • Federal: Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar called on the federal government to take the lead in legalizing marijuana nationwide, warning that legal differences between states are exacerbating economic inequality. The progressive Minnesota representative told BET that the federal government—which has long considered marijuana a medically unnecessary, illegal drug on par with heroin and cocaine—should strive to ensure consistency between states on the issue. Read more
  • A coalition of national organizations will work together to advocate for cannabis reform with a focus on racial justice in the cannabis industry. The newly formed Marijuana Justice Coalition comprises the ACLU, the Center for American Progress, the Drug Policy Alliance, Human Rights Watch and other organizations committed to advancing social equity in the private and public spheres. Read more
  • Hawaii: Hawaii’s legislative session ended May 2, and lawmakers sent several cannabis-related bills to Gov. David Ige, including a decriminalization measure and legislation that would ease restrictions on the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries. Ige declined to sign the decriminalization bill, but he didn’t veto it—allowing the bill effectively to become law. An adult-use legalization measure ultimately stalled this year. Read more
  • Montana: A recreational marijuana ballot initiative has been submitted to state election officials for the 2020 ballot. The Marijuana Regulation Act, or Ballot Issue No. 5, as it is currently titled with the Secretary of State’s Office, would legalize recreational marijuana use, establish the state’s duties in facilitating the industry and establish tax revenue policies. Read more
  • Ohio: An Akron company’s marijuana breathalyzer is nearly ready for field testing. With medical marijuana now legal in Ohio, and as Illinois is about to become the eleventh state to legalize recreational marijuana, some people are arguing there’s a growing need for a product to help police measure the level of impairment during a traffic stop. Read more
  • New Mexico: In late June, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham established the Cannabis Legalization Working Group. Its 20 members are tasked with looking into the possibility of legalizing marijuana in New Mexico. Read more
  • Iowa: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office released guidance Monday on the state’s hemp and CBD laws. Miller clarified that CBD products are illegal unless part of the state’s medical program. Read more
  • Nevada: A Nevada regulator said during ongoing testimony in a cannabis licensing case that it would have been a mistake if the state failed to properly instill a voter mandate into a licensing process for retail marijuana businesses. Department of Taxation employee Kara Cronkhite said differences between a state statute based off Question 2—the legalization of recreational marijuana that voters affirmed in 2016—and an administrative code based off the statute might have caused confusion for license applicants. Read more
  • Arkansas: The Drug Policy Education Group plans to begin gathering signatures soon to try and put a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana on the ballot in Arkansas next year. The organization has submitted a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow licensed dispensaries to sell marijuana for recreational use. Read more
  • Canada: Canadian regulators placed a hold on more than 5,000 kg of cannabis grown by CannTrust after an audit found that the company had been cultivating plants in five unlicensed grow rooms at its Pelham, Ontario, facility. The unpermitted cultivation took place between October 2018 and March 2019, when CannTrust had several business license applications pending with Health Canada. Read more

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