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Bipartisan lawmakers want federal cannabis expungements

Plus, GOP hits rescheduling in the House

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Good morning. 

Today, we’re tuning into New York’s Cannabis Control Board meeting at 10:30 AM in the Bronx. You can join us (online). And if you miss it, we’ll have everything you need to know for tomorrow. 

Let’s get to it.

-JB, JR, & CB 

This newsletter is 1035-words or about a 6-minute read.

💡What’s the big deal?

Bipartisan lawmakers want expungements

What happened: A bipartisan group of Congressional lawmakers introduced a bill that would expunge low-level federal cannabis offenses.

Rep. Troy A. Carter, Sr. (D-LA) and Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) introduced the Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act on July 2. The bill would create a mechanism that expunges low-level, non-felony cannabis offenses if passed.

The proposed legislation seeks to provide an expedited process to clear these offenses from federal records.

What they’re saying: “No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. This bipartisan bill will restore justice to millions of Americans who have suffered excessive secondary consequences associated with marijuana-related misdemeanors. Delivering justice for people who have been impacted by marijuana-related misdemeanors is a vital part of comprehensive cannabis reform,” Carter said in a press release

Back up: Thirty-eight states, three territories, and Washington DC allow the use of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes

President Joe Biden’s recent pardons are estimated to have affected around 6,500 individuals with federal cannabis possession convictions, per The New York Times, though many Americans continue to have both federal and state cannabis-related convictions on their public record.

Biden’s pardons, however, differ from expungement — these records remain public and can continue to impact lives negatively. 

Maryland Governor Wes Moore also pardoned over 175,000 cannabis-related convictions on June 17 via an executive order

But Moore’s pardons, like Biden’s, do not entirely provide a clean slate. Those pardoned in Maryland will be removed from criminal background check databases but their names will still appear in public court records unless they apply for expungement, which is not automatic and is decided based on the individual’s case. 

Why it matters: The Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act addresses the long-term consequences of cannabis-related misdemeanors, which can restrict access to educational aid, housing, employment, and other opportunities. 

By expunging these records, the bill underscores the need for comprehensive cannabis reform and aligns with the broader movement to rectify the harms caused by the War on Drugs.

What’s next: The bill will be considered by Congress, likely facing debate and revisions. 

This bill is part of a suite of legislation proposed in Congress to reform federal cannabis laws and could serve as a model for future criminal justice reforms related to other drugs.


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🗣️ Quote of the day

“The industry is used to taking outsized risks. I mean, operators are already breaking the law, so what’s wrong with breaking a little more law?”

Lawyer and industry expert Marc Hauser has been around the block of the cannabis industry. He’s seen it all and his takes in his Cannabis Musings newsletter are always worth your time.

Quick hits

GOP doesn’t want to reschedule 🫤
A GOP-led House committee approved a large-scale spending bill to block the Justice Department from rescheduling marijuana and to enhance penalties for cannabis sales near schools and parks. Read more

Ohio saliva tests 🚔
Ohio lawmakers introduced a bill to equip police with rapid roadside saliva tests to detect marijuana impairment. This bill comes as Ohio approaches the first legal sale of recreational marijuana. But some experts say saliva tests aren’t useful for measuring acute impairment. Read more

ASC sues New York cannabis 🗽
A defunct Illinois security company, America Smart Cities (ASC), filed a $300 million lawsuit against New York state cannabis regulators and officials, alleging fraud and misrepresentation over a rescinded surveillance contract. Read more

Florida goes green 🦩
The Libertarian Party of Florida endorsed Amendment 3, a ballot measure which if passed would legalize recreational marijuana. The party highlighted strong bipartisan support for the measure. Recent polls showing significant backing from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. 

Nebraska weed keeps chugging 🚂 
Medical marijuana advocates in Nebraska submitted over 114,000 signatures for two petitions to get medical cannabis legalization on the November ballot, marking activists' third attempt. The campaign faces the next steps of signature verification by state and local officials, with hopes of certification and placement on the ballot. Read more.

🤝 Deals, launches, and partnerships

Springbig, a software company that provides marketing technology to cannabis businesses, partnered with Native Roots, Colorado’s largest private cannabis company. Springbig hopes to improve how Native Roots communicates with its customers to increase customer satisfaction and business growth. 

Cannabis tech firm Treez is expanding into New York to further help cannabis retailers increase revenue and reduce operational costs, according to a news release.

Safe Harbor Financial, a company that provides financial services to the cannabis industry, successfully recovered a $3.1 million loan that was in default, plus over $200,000 in interest. This money will now be used to increase their lending capacity.

The podcast “How to Do the Pot” is launching a three-part series on the intersection of cannabis and fitness, coinciding with the Paris Olympic Games, on July 16. The series will explore how cannabis affects workouts, pain, and mental and physical health.

​​Jaunty, a leading New York cannabis brand, is launching four flavors of fast-acting THC gummies using nano-emulsified THC for quicker effects and will be available in licensed dispensaries across the state starting this month.

😜 One fun thing

Weed for $174 per gram?! A federal agency is selling what it calls the “most carefully quantified” cannabis ever sold, at $174 per gram. It’s not intended for consumption. It’s a tool to help labs calibrate their equipment. Read more in Marijuana Moment.

🧪 Science & research

Tilray’s medical research group conducted a study to examine the use and health outcomes of medical cannabis in older adults, particularly for pain, sleep, and quality of life. The study found significant improvements in these areas and a reduction in co-medication use.

📊 Chart of the day

After a slow start, there are now 141 cannabis dispensaries open across New York State. Check out this map from New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) for a breakdown of the locations by county:

📰 What we’re reading

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