WeedLife News Network

Hot off the press cannabis, marijuana, cbd and hemp news from around the world on the WeedLife News Network.

Now they're blaming drugs for America's massacre problem

Anything other than guns.

In the ongoing effort to talk about anything except controlling guns in response to our country’s ongoing massacre problem, the public intellectuals of the American Right have descended to watch-out-for-the-hopheads levels that are beneath even those plumbed by Joe and Frank on the old Dragnet show, and those guys had a case where a hophead literally buried his head in the ground.

As usual, the primary sewage treatment plant for this stuff is the Fox News prime time lineup. Laura Ingraham blames legalized Mary Jane for seducing god-fearing young men into opening fire on schools and parades. From Vanity Fair:

“Why aren’t people in general not talking more about the pot-psychosis–violent-behavior connection?” Ingraham asked.

“What we find in studies [is that] it’s very clear that the use of the high-potency marijuana is strongly associated with the development of psychosis,” Kamer claimed. He added that his “colleagues in Colorado, where they’re sounding the alarm because that was one of the first states to legalize—it’s practically a daily occurrence that kids come into the emergency rooms in florid, cannabis-induced psychosis.”

Tucker Carlson is on the Killer Weed program, too, but also has joined Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Crazyville) in pinning the blame on SSRIs and similar drugs. Carlson also would like you to know that your mother and the other women in your life are probably to blame for why you’re standing on a rooftop with your AR-15, sizing up your targets. From Newsweek: "They are numbed by the endless psychotropic drugs that are handed out in every school in the country by crackpots posing as counselors," he went on "And of course, they are angry, they know that their lives will not be better than their parents', they will be worse. That is all but guaranteed, they know that. They are not that stupid," Carlson said.

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Democrats send letter to Biden, urging him to legalize weed

The letter asks the Biden Administration to use its authority for two purposes: to deschedule cannabis and to clear the names of all individuals convicted of non-violent cannabis offenses.

As marijuana faces federal legalization, Democrats are asking President Biden to step up and deschedule the drug.

The Hill reports that a group of senators sent the Biden Administration a letter this past Wednesday. It was signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and more.

The letter asks the Biden Administration to use its authority for two purposes: to deschedule cannabis and to clear the names of all individuals convicted of non-violent cannabis offenses. The letter highlights the medical benefits of the drug and features a recommendation by the World Health Organization to reclassify the drug and remove it from the more “restrictive classification under international drug treaties.” It also puts an emphasis on the effect that cannabis criminalization has had on communities of color.

“We ask that the Biden Administration act quickly to rectify this decade long injustice harming individuals, especially Black and Brown communities,” the letter reads.

The letter is a follow-up to the previous correspondence that occurred between Democratic senators and the Biden Administration, an exchange that was called “extraordinarily disappointing” and that was only “half a page.” Apparently, the administration is concerned over cannabis’ safety and the fact that it hasn’t been studies that deem it a safe and effective treatment for any condition.

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U.S. Army turns to hemp for sniper uniforms

New suits expected to help snipers “remain undetected within close proximity of the enemy forces.”

Members of the U.S. armed forces can’t use hemp, even in products as innocuous as shampoo, but army snipers could someday be covered in the wonder fibre if a request for information (RFI) exploring its suitability for uniforms pans out.

Released in late June, the RFI notes the army if offering a contract opportunity for fiber, yarn and thread mills to submit information on fabrics that could potentially be used for sniper uniforms.

Specifically, the request relates to 22-kilogram count, three-ply jute or hemp yarn or twine in a natural colour, with the current demand being 365,760 metres.

“Interest is specifically in a yarn/twine/thread used to break up the sniper’s outline made from jute, hemp or similar natural fiber,” reads the RFI, which has been issued “solely for information-gathering and planning purposes” and “does not constitute a formal solicitation for proposals and will not directly lead to any contract awards.”

The idea behind the fibre hunt is to support the operational clothing for the Improved Ghillie System, suits that are lighter and more breathable than currently issued, but reportedly not always used, Flame Resistant Ghillie System.

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Joe Biden gets handwritten letter from Brittney Griner on 4th of July — here’s what it says

 

“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.”

Brittney Griner hand wrote a letter to President Biden, which was delivered to the White House on the 4th of July. The WNBA superstar told the president that she fears she’ll be detained in Russia indefinitely and pleaded for him not to forget about her and other Americans detained in Russian. (Benzinga)

Griner faces a 10-year sentence in a Russian penal colony if convicted of the alleged crime of having cannabis oil in her suitcase when she was detained in Moscow on February 17, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Three excerpts of Griner’s letter to Biden were made public, while the rest is being kept private, according to a statement released by a communications company representing the Griner family and reported by CNN.

“(As) I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” wrote Griner.

“On the 4th of July, our family normally honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father who is a Vietnam War Veteran. It hurts thinking about how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means something completely different to me this year.

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Will Germany’s move to legalize weed inspire the rest of Europe?

Germany might legalize marijuana within two years. The decision could shake up Europe’s relationship with the drug.

Germany is primed to become the largest country in Europe to legalize marijuana. It’s a decision that carries some weight considering that they have the largest economy on the continent. The Guardian spoke with several experts, who provided their predictions of what could happen and its impact on the world.

“There will be a domino effect, for sure,” said Justin Haucap, director of the Dusseldorf Institute for Competition Economics.

“European countries that have a much bigger problem with illegal cannabis use, like France, are watching very closely what Germany is doing at the moment.”

Experts predict Germany will make a lot of money once cannabis is legalized. The country has an estimated demand of 400 tonnes of cannabis per year. This could mean Germany could earn about 4.7 billion Euros a year through taxes alone while saving significant chunks of money due to the country no longer wasting resources on the prosecution of cannabis consumers.

If Germany legalized cannabis and began to sell and trade the product like any other good, it would violate the UN 1961 single convention on narcotic drugs. While initially the country would likely have to work around that ruling, some predict that Germany’s legalization would prompt the UN to change it entirely.

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Canadian cannabis giant Tilray offers U.S. workers coverage for abortion-related costs

Updated health care benefits will cover transportation expenses for employees and their covered family members.

U.S.-based employees of Tilray Brands will receive coverage should they seek an abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court of the United States overturning five-decades-long protections to access legal abortions.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, the company will cover travel and accommodation expenses, as well as provide paid time off, for those who must travel out of state for the procedure.

‘Health and safety of our employees, patients and consumers is our top priority’

“At Tilray Brands, the health and safety of our employees, patients and consumers is our top priority,” Tilray CEO Irwin Simon noted in a tweet June 28.

“We are updating our health care benefits for all Tilray U.S. employees to include transportation expenses for employees and their covered family members to receive access to the reproductive care they need and choose,” Simon wrote.

The tweet attracted a wide range of commentary, including some support.

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Opposition fury at Albanian government plan to legalize medical cannabis

The Albanian government has put a draft law on legalising medical cannabis up for public consultation, sparking an angry reaction from opposition politicians. 

The news was announced shortly after the latest World Drug Report 2022 from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed that Albania is one of the top countries worldwide for cannabis cultivation and distribution. 

This is despite well publicised efforts by the Albanian government to eradicate its cultivation, notably with the large-scale operation at Lazarat – dubbed Europe’s ‘marijuana mountain’ back in 2014, shortly before Albania secured EU candidate status. However, reports since then indicate that drug cultivation has been rising. The country also lies on the Balkan route for transportation of heroin to Europe. 

According to the draft law, licences will be issued to cultivate a maximum of 150 hectares. Further conditions are also planned, including that the licence holder have a background in cultivating medicinal plants, and 51% of assets in a company that grows products or byproducts of cannabis in an OECD country. Companies must also have capital of ALL100mn (aound €840,000). 

Applicants will be scrutinised by the National Agency for Control and Monitoring of Cannabis Plant Cultivation and Processing.

However, Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha slammed the poposal, saying it would be an “immense support” for crime around the world and a “black dot” on Albania, reported Euronews Albania. 

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Pennsylvania bill gives medical cannabis patients DUI protection

A Pennsylvania bill approved last week by a legislative committee would protect registered medical cannabis patients from prosecution under the state’s zero-tolerance policy for THC.

Pennsylvania medical cannabis patients would receive some protection from being convicted for driving under the influence if a bill making its way through the state legislature is passed and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf. The measure, Senate Bill 167, was approved last week by the Senate Transportation Committee with a vote of 13-0.

If approved, the legislation sponsored by state Senator Camera Bartolotta would eliminate Pennsylvania’s zero-tolerance policy for THC, which has been used without proof of impairment to penalize drivers who are registered medicinal cannabis patients.

“Senate Bill 167 is critically needed to protect the medical cannabis community as the penalties for a controlled substance significantly escalate,” Bartolotta told the Transportation Committee before last week’s vote.

Pennsylvania has more than 700,000 registered patients who have qualified to use medicinal cannabis since the medical marijuana program launched in 2018. However, the state’s zero-tolerance drug law puts patients at risk, whether they are under the influence of cannabis or not.

“Under current law, medical cannabis patients can be arrested, prosecuted, and convicted – even if they’re not impaired,” said Bartolotta.

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Cannabis ads might soon be on TV and radio — here’s why

TV and radio stations operate under FCC licenses and federal law, which categorizes cannabis as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical value and high abuse potential.

The House Appropriations Committee recently passed a bill with a provision that would block the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from penalizing broadcasters for advertising cannabis products in states with legal marijuana markets, reported Media Post. (Benzinga)

At the moment, most TV and radio stations in states where cannabis is legal do not accept ads from marijuana companies. Cable channels, the Internet, social media platforms, billboards, satellite and print do accept weed-related advertisements. Why is that?

TV and radio stations operate under FCC licenses and federal law, which categorizes cannabis as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical value and high abuse potential, in the same category as heroin although the two substances are incomparable.

For that reason, local TV broadcasters could risk losing their license or being charged with a crime if they violate federal law. And to think that cannabis advertising is estimated to total $18.5 billion in 2022.

The 2023 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill that was advanced by the committee Friday contains the following language:

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8 marijuana laws so strange, you have to read them to believe them

In Maine, edibles are taxed at a higher rate because the state subjects them to a meal tax. Who knew gummy bears counted as lunch?

Marijuana laws are changing more rapidly than ever as individual states navigate their paths towards (or away from) legalization. Thirty-eight states have legalized marijuana to some degree, which is a heap more than just a few years ago. While this may be great news for cannabis activists and enthusiasts, “legalization” means something different to some degree in just about every state.

With marijuana legalization occurring on a state level rather than a federal level, there is room for all sorts of variations in cannabis law. While many laws make sense for each particular state, some jump out as a little bizarre. Some laws are just flat out strange. Here is a list of 8 crazy marijuana laws you can’t help but laugh at, even though they are very much real.

1. Michigan uses an outdated marijuana spelling

When the state of Michigan legalized marijuana, they took a historical (and very outdated) approach. The state refers to marijuana as “marihuana,” which is a term both old and, as we have previously reported, problematic. The reasoning is rooted in Michigan history, according to michigan.gov.

“Michigan’s history primarily starts from the spelling that was chosen for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.”

2. D.C. embraces the gift of giving

In Washington D.C., recreational marijuana is legal, but the operation of a marijuana dispensary is illegal. Several years ago, entrepreneurs found crafty ways of selling weed at speakeasy style retail stores. From clothing sales with weed attached to gym memberships that come with marijuana in their workout programs, more and more storefronts have popped up. The fascinating part is these are not  just makeshift shops. There are all sorts of “not quite dispensaries” all over D.C. with permanent storefronts that do not hide what they sell. This all makes it clear that The District is in on the joke and the loophole in the law, and doesn’t seem much to mind.

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Son of TikTok star 'Mama Tot' was selling marijuana before he was fatally shot: Police

"We found out a lot of stuff we just didn't know," TikTok star Ophelia Nichols, known to her followers as Mama Tot, said of her late son Randon Lee after he was fatally shot

Police in Prichard, Alabama, are sharing more details after the son of Ophelia Nichols — known on TikTok as Mama Tot — was shot and killed at a local gas station.

Prichard Detective Jason Hadaway said in a press conference, captured by Fox10 News, on Monday that the victim, Randon Lee, and the suspect approached the gas pumps at the same time.

One suspect — who was in a black car — then got inside of Lee's car, and one shot was fired shortly after, according to Hadaway, who added that the suspect then exited Lee's vehicle, got back into the black car and left.

In an attempt to "escape" the gunman, Lee pulled out of the gas station, crossed Saint Stephens Road and went to another station, where he stopped, Hadaway said. EMS was then alerted and attempted to perform life-saving measures; however, Lee died. He was 18 years old.

Hadaway added that Lee "was selling narcotics" to two people.

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Supreme Court takes on abortion, guns, prayer in school—But not weed

An emboldened, conservative Supreme Court has churned out a torrent of seismic decisions in the last week.

The United States Supreme Court last week declined to take up a pair of cases that challenged a state’s decision to not include medical cannabis in its workers’ compensation program.

Given all of the seismic activity in the high court as of late, you are forgiven if you missed that.

From abortion to guns to prayer in school, the emboldened, conservative Supreme Court has taken on seemingly every hot button issue but cannabis, issuing a series of decisions that are poised to reshape American life and deepen the country’s polarization.

No decision rendered by the court in the last week—or perhaps in the last 50 years—has inflamed passions and divided the nation more than Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to an abortion.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court’s conservative justices effectively handed abortion policy back to the states. The result was swift, with outright abortion bans taking effect immediately in a handful of states: South Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Alabama. A number of other states with their own highly restrictive abortion laws also were triggered by the ruling.

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How will cannabis legalization factor into an uncertain Texas election cycle?

Depending on how you perceive the past few months, Texas may be heading towards a minor liberal reform, or the conservatives could be doubling down on its dominance.

The past few months, ranging from gun tragedies to legal decisions to special elections, highlight a busy and somewhat unclear Texas political landscape heading into November. (Benzinga)

The recent back-and-forth momentum leaves most sources uncertain where Texas will stand post-Election Day. However, many appear firm on two points:

Texans are frustrated, and most support legalizing cannabis.

Much messing with Texas

No matter the outcome this Fall, Texas will remain an overwhelmingly conservative-held Congress. The state has deep GOP ties, with Republican Presidential nominees taking the state in every election since 1980.

Still, with frustrations running high across the board, changes of some kind could be on the horizon.

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The uncertain state of cannabis rights for Native Americans

There is no single answer or solution for how to improve the current state of cannabis in indigenous Sovereign nations because the issue is complicated, and opinions and challenges vary from tribe to tribe throughout the land.

Many lawmakers continue to say marijuana policy should be left up to individual states. Often, they then proceed to either oppose federal marijuana legalization, or deflect back to their opinion that it is a state issue. With more states legalizing marijuana, it may seem that slowly but surely the United States might fully legalize marijuana with or without federal legislation. This logic, however, overlooks a major group of people: Native Americans. 

Cannabis and its tricky legality among indigenous people and their sovereign nations continues to be a topic so unresolved that the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs launched a hearing called “Cannabis In Indian Country,” which had a listening session recently.

While this committee may spark some necessary dialogue and highlight major issues on the subject, there is not one universal opinion or solution. This is because nearly every Tribal Nation has its own unique views and challenges when it comes to marijuana legalization. 

A sovereign nation, by definition, should have supreme authority over how it runs, but history has shown this is not always the case with Native American Nations, and this includes marijuana laws. While many rules and governance can not be infringed upon by the federal government “Under US law, however, Congress has the authority to legislate on tribal issues. Thus, in the context of marijuana legalization efforts in Indian Country, federal laws may affect legalization implementation,” according to the CDC.

Federally recognized Native American tribes, of which there are well over 500, are often caught in limbo when it comes to marijuana legalization.

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Bill Maher: 'It seems fair racial minorities jump the line for weed franchises'

“The drug war has been a horrendous instrument of prejudice and punishment for racial minorities.”

Long-time talk show host and cannabis retail partner Bill Maher told his Real Time with Bill Maher audience last week that he gets why some people think those affected by the War on Drug should have first dibs on weed retail licences.

Maher made the comments during the “New Rule” segment on Friday, which focused on how key it is to have a lawyer who fights for client wants and needs.

To illustrate the value of such representation, he kicked off the segment with the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp defamation trial example before segueing into why he believes Democrats are losing ground to Republicans, including citing the flip of a Texas district from blue to red, the Latinx term and student loan relief.

During the segment, Maher, 66, noted that Bernie Sanders (at about 4:42 in clip below) promised during his 2020 run to become the Democratic nominee for president that he would legalize cannabis on his first day as president. Beyond that, the idea would be to have those who suffered most from the drug war be first up to receive retail licences.

“And you know what? I can’t argue with that instinct. The drug war has been a horrendous instrument of prejudice and punishment for racial minorities, so it seems fair that they jump the line for weed franchises the way Indians (Native Americans) did for casinos,” Maher told his studio audience.

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UN report dramatizes uptick in global cannabis use

In their latest report on the topic, the UN equates cocaine and heroin with cannabis use and creates boogeymen around every corner of the end of Prohibition.

The UN has just issued a report about cannabis that will no doubt in the near future look as alarmist as it is dated. Namely, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has issued its annual world drug report.

Here are the high level takeaways—which are hard to read with a straight face.

Legalizing cannabis appears to increase regular use of the drug. No kidding. When someone can buy something legitimately rather than risking criminalization via black market purchases, chances are that they will buy more of it. That said, even the UNODC had to admit that the prevalence of cannabis use among teenagers “has not changed much.” In fact, legalization (in Canada and the U.S.) not to mention the semi-legit markets in places like Holland, have not suddenly seen an uptick in use by underage individuals.The Pandemic (unsurprisingly) also increased usage. The world has just gone through an unprecedented shock the likes of which had not been seen in a century. It is no surprise that the use of a drug that lowers anxiety and alleviates many kinds of mental stress and illness might increase.Cannabis is “getting stronger” with regards to THC content. This is a bugbear. Yes, there are some strains available in the new commoditized market that might have a higher level of THC than outdoor guerrilla grown skunk by hippies back in the day. There are also widely used strains of cannabis with deliberately lower levels of THC. This is another aged spectre of prohibition that long ago outlived its shelf life.Both cocaine production and U.S.-based opioid deaths hit new records. This may be true, but it has little to do with cannabis legalization or use. In fact, the association in the UNODC report is what is alarming. Cannabis is increasingly being seen in legitimate medical circles as a gateway drug off of other, more harmful substances. Not a gateway to them.“The proportion of people with psychiatric disorders and suicides associated with regular cannabis use has increased.” Don’t let this kind of anti-cannabis propaganda scare you, even if it is emanating from the UN. There is no link between mental illness, much less suicides from regular cannabis use. In fact, for many people suffering from both physical and psychiatric disorders, like depression and PTSD, cannabis use considerably relieves the stressors that lead to self-destructive behavior.

The most recent study to examine such issues, emanating from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last year had to concede that they could not “establish that cannabis use caused the increased suicidality we observed in this study,” and that “these associations warrant further research.” The same study also noted that cannabis use by adults more than doubled in the United States between 2008 and 2019—precisely the years that normalization became a multi-state campaign politically.

It is also worth noting that one of the most recent studies about cannabis and PTSD, which includes episodes of depression leading to suicide, found that cannabis use dramatically decreased PTSD symptoms to the point that many patients no longer met the diagnostic criteria for the condition.

Veterans are perhaps the population most at risk for suicide, even in the best of times. According to most national estimates, there are 22 veteran suicides a day in the U.S. Deployed veterans serving in either Iraq or Afghanistan had a suicide risk 41% higher than the average population. Even more intriguingly, non-deployed veterans had a 61% greater risk of committing suicide than the average person.

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Missouri cop trying to help duck and ducklings cross busy highway busts driver for pot

Man in a skunky-smelling car pulled up right behind cruiser parked on side of roadway

A Missouri driver is likely questioning his decision to pull up behind a parked cruiser after a cop sniffed out a suspiciously skunky smell coming from his vehicle and busted him for illegal cannabis.

While on patrol earlier this month, an officer with the Smithville Police Department (SPD) spied a mama duck and her ducklings trying to cross Highway 169, according to a police statement.

Presumably wanting to serve and protect, the officer activated the patrol car lights to slow any traffic and allow time for the family to complete its treacherous trek.

However, the duck apparently changed her mind. While parked on the side of the highway to make sure the duck family made it back into the adjacent tree line, a vehicle pulled over behind the officer, SPD reports.

A short video clip posted by police shows the officer approaching the duck family in his vehicle as they safely make their way to the trees and out of harm’s way.

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SAFE Banking Act dropped from China competition bill

A bill to allow financial services to businesses in the legal cannabis industry was dropped from a China competition bill after passing in the House of Representatives but failing to gain the approval of Senate negotiators.

Federal legislation that would permit financial institutions to provide banking services to legal cannabis businesses has been dropped from a bill designed to foster competition with China, marking the sixth time the cannabis banking provisions have failed to gain the approval of the U.S. Senate after being passed by the House of Representatives.

Known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, the legislation would have permitted banks and other financial institutions to serve companies in the legal cannabis industry. Under current regulations, providing traditional banking services such as loans and payroll, checking and deposit accounts is tightly regulated by the federal government, resulting in few financial institutions agreeing to work with marijuana businesses. Critics note that the current policy forces cannabis companies to operate primarily in cash, leaving the businesses vulnerable to crime.

The SAFE Banking Act was first introduced in Congress by Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado in 2013. Since then, the House of Representatives has passed the bill six times as either a standalone bill or attached to other legislation. But the measure has failed to gain the approval of the Senate.

Most recently, the House approved provisions of the SAFE Banking Act in February as part of the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength Act of 2022 (America COMPETES Act), a bill to support U.S. manufacturing and improve competitiveness with China. But on Thursday, Punchbowl News reported that the cannabis banking provisions have been dropped from the latest version of the COMPETES Act, which is currently in conference committee with House and Senate lawmakers. The report noted that the SAFE Act language had been dropped at the insistence of Republican negotiators.

“In the wake of the Senate’s inaction, people continue to be killed, businesses continue to be robbed, and employees and business owners in the cannabis industry continue to be excluded from the financial system,” Perlmutter, the lead sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, said in a statement quoted by The Hill.

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Democrats are looking for a weed deal

As this Congress enters its final months, lawmakers warm to the idea of cannabis banking “plus.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer doesn’t have the votes to pass a sweeping marijuana decriminalization bill — despite repeatedly touting his support for ending federal prohibition.

That realization is leading Senate Democrats to look for a compromise on weed.

In interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers, staffers, advocates and lobbyists, all agreed that in recent weeks the tone has changed on Capitol Hill. Senators previously opposed to anything but a major marijuana decriminalization bill are slowly warming to another option: adding provisions to a broadly supported bill that would allow financial institutions to offer banking services to the cannabis industry, called the SAFE Banking Act.

The change in approach is driven in part by the fact that the clock is ticking on Democratic control of Congress — experts say the House will likely flip in November, and the Senate could join it. Despite the often-bipartisan nature of cannabis legislation, it does not enjoy strong support from GOP leadership in either chamber. So lawmakers involved in weed policy are looking more seriously at what they can accomplish in the last six months of this Congress.

“There’s a greater sense of urgency,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who has been trying to shepherd cannabis legislation through Congress for decades.

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U.S. Supreme Court rejects cases seeking workers’ comp for medical cannabis

The Supreme Court declined to hear two cases challenging Minnesota’s denial of workers’ compensation for medical pot used to treat work-related injuries.

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday denied petitions to hear two cases challenging Minnesota’s refusal to allow coverage for medical cannabis through the state’s workers’ compensation program. In both cases, workers sought a review of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision finding that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) supersedes state law, resulting in a denial of coverage for medicinal cannabis for the employees’ work-related injuries.

The Supreme Court invited the U.S. Department of Justice to file a brief in the case before making a decision. In its response, the Justice Department agreed with the Minnesota court that the CSA does preempt state law. But attorneys with the Justice Department also argued that the states have not adequately addressed the issue of federal preeminence and urged the Supreme Court to reserve judgment on evolving law.

The case was not the first time a state court had ruled on workers’ compensation coverage for medical pot. In 2014, the New Mexico Court of Appeals approved the reimbursement of claims for medicinal cannabis for work-related injuries. But rulings on similar cases in Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Minnesota have not been consistent. Courts in New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey found that state law was not in conflict with the CSA and authorized workers’ compensation claims for medical cannabis. But in Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, judges have ruled that federal law takes precedence.

Is the SCOTUS decision bad news?

Attorney Anne Davis, the co-founder of Bennabis Health, a company specializing in affordable medical cannabis access for patients, says that the Supreme Court’s decision to decline to hear the cases is not necessarily a negative outcome for patients.

“While I would’ve loved a decision by the federal government mandating that cannabis is in fact a covered benefit, [the court] deferring to the states could be good in the grand scheme of the industry,” Davis writes in an email to High Times. “The more that the Supreme Court defers to states’ rights, I think the more it helps our growing industry. If the federal government takes the hands-off approach and leaves it to states’ rights, that allows the cannabis industry to grow and expand.”

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