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President Joe Biden has tapped Anne Milgram, a former state attorney general and longtime criminal justice advocate, to head the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
In 2009, as the state attorney general of New Jersey, Milgram was quoted as saying that a plan there to legalize medical marijuana was “workable.”
But those comments came more than a decade ago, and it was unclear Tuesday what her current stance is on marijuana policy and reform.
Although voters approved a referendum to legalize adult use of cannabis back in November, lawmakers’ efforts to draft the enabling legislation often went up in smoke. Until recently, the governor’s office and legislative leaders couldn’t decide how to address underage possession and use of cannabis. Now, lawmakers agree that minors should be subject to a three-tiered warning system in lieu of hefty fines.
The Issue of Licensing
Probably the most important takeaway from our conversation with Morgan Fox is that the corruption issue “is a direct result of arbitrary license caps, either at the state or local level.”
“Limiting the number of licenses creates competition in the application process instead of in the market where it belongs, and usually ends up either favoring applicants with more financial resources or creating an environment that is ripe for public corruption,” he explained.
The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) announced on Monday that it will hold a tri-state conference in December to highlight the importance of promoting social equity as the governors of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York set out to coordinate regional marijuana legalization plans.
Kansas City, Missouri-based Dama Financial, which provides financial services to the cannabis industry, has been lobbying for the SAFE Banking Act, which would enable banks to serve state-legal cannabis businesses without fear of federal punishment.
Multistate medical marijuana giants Curaleaf ($400,000) and Surterra ($240,000) trail only the Cannabis Trade Federation ($482,500) in spending on lobbying, according to data published by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics at OpenSecrets.org.
Across the United States, states are taking a new look at marijuana, with an unprecedented number of legislatures considering bills in 2019 to allow licensed sales or at least approve of medical use. But under federal law, cannabis remains illegal from sea to shining sea.
Eventually, the nation may reach a tipping point, when change at the federal level becomes inevitable.
“I don't think that we've ever been in a better place,” said Morgan Fox, the media relations director for the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), a trade advocacy group.
The new year marks the start of the 116th Congress, as well as the launch of numerous state legislative sessions.As lawmakers return to work at the state and federal levels, elected officials and advocates for social justice and marijuana reform alike are plotting their cannabis legislation goals.
WeedMaps News contacted some of the leading legislative changemakers to ask what's on their agenda for 2019.
New Jersey isn’t trailblazing when it comes to legalizing adult-use cannabis, and that could end up being a blessing for the state.
While Gov. Phil Murphy didn’t carry out his previously stated plans to legalize by the end of 2018, the Legislature is close to passing a comprehensive bill that would permit adult cannabis use and strictly regulate its commercial production and sale.
AND SO A few more dominoes fall. Michigan voted to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, while Utah and Missouri legalized it for medical use, according to projections made late Tuesday night. (A recreational measure in North Dakota failed, though medical cannabis remains legal there.) They join 31 other states that have already gone the medical route, and nine others that have gone fully recreational.
Proponents of legalizing marijuana descended on the U.S. Capitol in droves Wednesday, saying that their efforts are moving toward success.
"Public opinion is changing on this issue," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the chief sponsor of the Medical Cannabis Research Act, which authorizes research into the medical benefits of marijuana. "Congress is behind. We need to catch up."
Two pro-marijuana groups, the National Cannabis Industry Association and Americans for Safe Access, held press conferences and met with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill.