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Pa. cannabis legalization remains unlikely as neighboring states go for it

Pa. cannabis legalization remains unlikely as neighboring states go for it

Pennsylvania cannabis legalization

New Jersey. New York. Virginia.

One by one, Pennsylvania’s neighbors are moving to legalize recreational cannabis for adults. There’s majority support for doing the same thing here: A March poll from Franklin & Marshall College showed 59% support among registered voters for legalization.

And after years of saying he wouldn’t endorse such a move, Gov. Tom Wolf changed his position in 2019 and has committed to signing a bill if it reaches his desk.

But in order for that to happen, the idea would need to gain backing among the Republican lawmakers who control both the state House and Senate.

House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) opposed medical cannabis when it passed in 2016 and said in 2019 that legalization wasn’t the “right move in helping the thousands of Pennsylvanians who are battling drug addiction.”

More recently Cutler’s chief of staff told PennLive it wasn’t a priority, as the state continued to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, while a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R,., Centre) told the York Daily Record in February there isn’t support within the caucus.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre) in 2018 called the idea “reckless and irresponsible,” though last fall he signaled the chamber was open to vetting a proposal — but not at that time.

Democrats in the chamber, as they have in past sessions, are still pushing for legalization, but with one major difference this spring — a Republican sponsor.

That lawmaker is Sen. Dan Laughlin of Erie County. When asked by Spotlight PA why he thinks Pennsylvania hasn’t moved toward legalization, he said many of his colleagues represent districts that don’t support recreational cannabis.

“So, you know, I don’t hold it against any fellow Republicans for not wanting to just jump out of the gate and co-sponsor the bill, because, for the most part, I think they’re trying to represent their districts,” Laughlin said.

report based on observations and anecdotes from Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s 2019 listening tour of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties found that people were concerned about “an increase of people driving under the influence.” One working paper by a group of economists found that fatal crashes involving a driver who tested positive for THC had increased nationwide but did not appear to be related to legalization.

People, according to Fetterman’s report, were also concerned about “cannabis acting as a ‘gateway’ drug.” That’s a long-standing anxiety and complex topic. While some people who use cannabis may also use other drugs, there isn’t definitive proof that cannabis is the cause.

The issue is simple to Tsehaitu Abye, a cannabis entrepreneur and founder of Philadelphia’s Black Dragon Breakfast Club, a cannabis marketing firm: Once the financial scales tip in favor of legalization — rather than the industries that oppose it — it will happen.

U.S. House of Representatives approves cannabis banking bill

U.S. House of Representatives approves cannabis banking bill

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed legislation that would allow banks to provide services to cannabis companies in states where it is legal, a step towards removing what analysts say is a barrier to development of a national industry.

Lawmakers voted 321-101 to approve the bill and send it to the Senate.

The bill clarifies that proceeds from legitimate cannabis businesses would not be considered illegal and directs federal regulators to craft rules for how they would supervise such banking activity.

Banks have generally been unwilling to do business with companies that sell marijuana or related products, fearing they could run afoul of federal laws.

That has left companies in the marijuana industry with few options, including relying on just a handful of small financial institutions or doing business in cash.

The American Bankers Association has lobbied aggressively for the “SAFE Banking Act” bill.

“Banks find themselves in a difficult situation due to the conflict between state and federal law, with local communities encouraging them to bank cannabis businesses and federal law prohibiting it,” the group wrote in a letter to lawmakers on Monday. “Congress must act to resolve this conflict.”

Thirty-six states have legalized medical cannabis while 17 states now allow adult use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, in an early-April interview with Politico, said he would try to advance legislation legalizing marijuana use for adults. Asked about the SAFE Banking Act, he said he would like to see such a bill move forward as part of a more comprehensive measure – even if President Joe Biden was not supportive.

Playboy Celebrates National Cannabis Awareness Month

Playboy Celebrates National Cannabis Awareness Month

LOS ANGELESApril 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In celebration of National Cannabis Awareness Month taking place throughout April, Playboy Enterprises today announced a month-long initiative supporting nationwide cannabis reform and advocacy. Building on the success of their legalization and expungement campaign in September, Playboy will continue its decades-long work championing the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis using a multifaceted approach focused on the three levers of people, policy and culture. In addition to making notable contributions to the Marijuana Policy Project and tapping into partners like Eaze Momentum, Playboy will also host a series of Twitter takeovers handing the mic over to notable members of the cannabis community throughout the month to discuss cannabis culture and important issues facing the industry today.

“Playboy has been fighting for cannabis rights for over six decades, and today we are closer than ever to achieving our goal of full federal legalization. Now is the time to make sure we do this right,” said Rachel Webber, Chief Brand Officer and President of Corporate Strategy at PLBY Group. “We are proud to support the amazing work our partners at Marijuana Policy Project are doing to ensure that the new laws enacted around legal cannabis are humane, combat injustices, and promote equality.”

“As we continue the fight to end cannabis prohibition nationwide, MPP is proud to partner with Playboy in celebration of National Cannabis Awareness Month,” said Steven Hawkins, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project. “Our shared vision for humane and equitable cannabis policies will help to ensure a diverse and inclusive future for legal cannabis that roots out injustices and empowers individuals and communities all across the country.”

Playboy has been engaged with cannabis reform since the 1960s and continues to use its platform to push the conversation forward today. As a proud founding donor of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) over 50 years ago, Playboy has been a pioneer in the cannabis space since the brand’s beginning. Today, once again, Playboy is doubling down on its efforts in support of cannabis reform and advocacy programs, and working to bring conversations surrounding cannabis mainstream.

  • People: Playboy will produce a collection of Instagram Stories and tweets to introduce and update their audience on Eaze’s Momentum program, a business development incubator for under-represented founders in the cannabis industry. Playboy supports Momentum and its 2021 class of entrepreneurs through monetary and in-kind donations. 
  • Policy: The Playboy Foundation will make a donation of $25,000 to the Marijuana Policy Project to support their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work and further their advocacy for fair and equitable cannabis policy in the fight for federal legalization and expungement. Marijuana Policy Project activates people and mobilizes resources to create lasting policy solutions that improve the quality of life for patients and their families, empower individuals with personal choice, combat injustices, and promote equity.
  • Culture: Throughout the month, Playboy will continue to use its media platforms to drive conversations around cannabis, as they have done for almost 70 years. In doing so, Playboy will pass the mic to notable members of the cannabis industry, partnering with Brian KaremAshlee Marie PrestonMatt Barnes and dream hampton to take over their Twitter channel the week of April 19th and engage with Playboy’s audience of 1.5 million followers around the newest information in the cannabis space. Playboy will also be hosting the class of Eaze Momentum startups, whom the company has sponsored and been mentoring, at their company happy hours, where these cannabis entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to the Playboy team for support and feedback.

In honor of its legalization and expungement campaign in September, Playboy made a charitable donation of $25k to Eaze Momentum, kicked off its mentorship program with both Eaze Momentum and the Last Prisoner Project, urged Congress to pass the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act via a Medium piece written by Playboy CEO Ben Kohn, commissioned eight artists to create work inspired by the inequities of federal cannabis prohibition, and more. 

Playboy remains committed to pushing boundaries through its lifestyle and consumer product business, and driving important conversations that bring topics like cannabis reform, social justice and free expression out from the shadows, doing the work to ensure Pleasure for All. The company has also rolled out a line of pleasure-forward CBD products and smoking accessories over the past year on its sexual wellness hub, www.pleasureforall.com.

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Moves past 6th House Committee

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Moves past 6th House Committee

Minnesota marijuana legalization has been passed in a 6th house committee

A bill to legalize marijuana in Minnesota is going through a thorough vetting process, with a sixth House committee on Wednesday giving the reform proposal a green light following a hearing.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D), Speaker Melissa Hortman (D) and other lawmakers filed the measure in February. It would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis and cultivate up to eight plants, four of which could be mature.

Days after a separate panel approved the legislation with amendments, the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee passed it in a 9-7 vote.

“The purpose of House File 600 is to eliminate the harm that cannabis has in our society,” Winkler said of the bill at the hearing. “The primary harm that cannabis poses in Minnesota is the prohibition and criminal enforcement of cannabis.”

“The goal of House File 600 is to shift in a legal marketplace that is policed and over-policed disproportionately and instead to create a policy of repair, an opportunity for those most adversely affected by the war on drugs,” he said.

The House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee was the last body to approve the bill, on Monday, and members there adopted a number of changes to the proposal. For example, it now stipulates that members of a cannabis advisory council established under the bill could not serve as lobbyists while on the panel and for two years after they end their service.

Before that hearing, the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee, the Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee, the Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee and the Commerce Finance and Policy Committee each advanced the measure.

Its next stop is the State Government Finance and Elections Committee.

Winkler recently said that he expects the legislation to go through any remaining panels by the end of April, with a floor vote anticipated in May.

Still, even if the legislation does make it all the way through the House, it’s expected to face a significant challenge in the Republican-controlled Senate, where lawmakers have signaled that they’re more interested in revising the state’s existing medical cannabis program than enacting legalization of adult use.

After the New York legislature approved a recreational cannabis legalization bill—which the governor promptly signed into law—Winkler said that Minnesota is “falling behind a national movement towards progress.”

Jaleel White (AKA Urkel) Launches Purple Urkle Cannabis Brand

Jaleel White (AKA Urkel) Launches Purple Urkle Cannabis Brand

Jaleel White also known as Urkel from Family Matter is releasing a new cannabis brand

Actor Jaleel White, famous for his role as Steve Urkel in Family Matters, is entering the cannabis industry just in time for 4/20, with his own cannabis line called ItsPurpl.

Through a partnership with 710 Labs, White’s brand features variants of the popular cannabis strain Purple Urkle, Forbes reports. It is set to launch on April 20, and will be available on dispensary shelves in California to start, potentially growing to more marketplaces in the future.

White said, “The thing that always stood out to me was there no clear brand leader for fire purple weed. It made no sense to me, that no company of significance had claimed this lane, so why not me?”

710 Labs founder Brad Melshenker met White on a flight, and they connected over their passion for cannabis. “710 has never been a brand that pursued celebrity deals or endorsements as our agenda has always been quality above all else,” Melshenker said. “We tend to let the product speak for itself. But over the years Jaleel and I became friends and organically our conversations developed into a project. He was on a journey to find the real Purple Urkel from back in the early 2000’s. Not only that, he wanted to find the most flavorful purple cultivars and had been collecting seeds with his friend Sean over the years just for this purpose.”

The series of Purple Urkle strains will be sold as eighths, vape pens with 710 Labs’ proprietary live rosin pods, as well as Noodle Doinks (a fat, hand rolled joint that uses a fusilli noodle as the crutch.)

44-year-old White said, “To smoke the end result from such a quality pod has been surreal. I feel a little bit like Willy Wonka, the flavor came out so similar to grape candy.”

Melshenker said of the collaboration that comes “from the heart,” was determined to help Jaleel make it happen. He added, “Hunting for certain traits and genetics is time-consuming and challenging but it was worth it when it all came together in the end and the vision was realized.”

When it comes to smoking, White prefers not to partake when he’s acting. He said, “A lot of acting is about timing and you don’t want anything disrupting that. But when it comes to writing, that’s a whole different story. A good smoke sesh with some naturally funny cats can be just the creative spark you didn’t know you all needed. Beyond that, a good noodledoink before an amazing meal just makes everything taste that much better. Music for me is also greatly enhanced by cannabis consumption. Songs just slow all the way down and you hear every nuance.”

 

 
 
Steve Fox, who helped legalize marijuana in Colorado, has died at 53

Steve Fox, who helped legalize marijuana in Colorado, has died at 53

Steve Fox, Colorado legalization advocate and Vicente Sederberg LLP member has passed

​Fox was lead drafter of 2012’s Amendment 64, giving rise to the massive legal cannabis industry

One of the leaders of Colorado’s first-in-the-nation recreational marijuana legalization movement, Steve Fox, has died at the age of 53.

Fox was the lead drafter of Colorado Amendment 64, which passed in 2012 with a little more than 55% of the vote, and he also lobbied for legal weed in the state capitol.

“We are truly heartbroken to share news of the passing of our partner and dear friend Steve Fox,” wrote the cannabis law group Vicente Sederberg LLP, where Fox was a leader since 2010. Fox also served as a managing partner of VS Strategies since co-founding the group in 2013.

Fox conceptualized and co-founded Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), as well as coauthored the 2009 book “Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People To Drink?,” according to the Vicente Sederberg release.

Mason Tvert, among Amendment 64’s chief proponents and a friend and colleague of Fox, described Fox as inspirational.

“He made me feel like we could do anything,” Tvert told The Post. “This guy, he was truly passionate about helping people, both those around him and those that he knew were being affected by bad policies. And he never got a ton of recognition and he didn’t really seek recognition. He was always proud to be the guy behind the scenes.”

Fox had worked for President Bill Clinton’s second presidential campaign in Little Rock, Ark., as well as in Congress, Tvert said.

Tvert also noted that Fox was not from Colorado, but “was as responsible if not more responsible than any single individual for getting cannabis legalized and advancing this industry so far.” Since Colorado legalized weed, several states have followed, with New Mexico and New York just this year. Colorado itself has sold at least $10 billion in marijuana since legalization.

In 2013, Fox received an award from the Drug Policy Alliance in recognition of his influence on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, the cannabis law group’s letter said.

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