On the #domestic front, two #Republican lawmakers introduce a federal #marijuana legalization proposal, amid increasing calls for nationwide change. The Common Sense #Cannabis #Reform for #Veterans, Small #Businesses, and #Medical #Professionals Act, which is sponsored by #GOP reps and co-chairs of the #Congressional Cannabis #Caucus David Joyce and Don Young, would remove marijuana from the Controlled #Substances Act, leaving it up to states to enact their own policies in an approach similar to how #alcohol is regulated. It would further permit interstate commerce among legal #markets, charge the #FDA and the Alcohol and #Tobacco Trade and #Tax Bureau with establishing specific rules, as well as mandate #MMJ research by the National Institutes of #Health. It also includes protections for veterans using medical cannabis, as well as financial institutions serving licensed marijuana companies, as outlined in the recently #House-passed standalone bill, the SAFE Banking Act. While Joyce anticipates bipartisan support for the proposal, citing reform efforts in more than 40 states, industry experts expect the bill to receive significant pushback from advocates over its lack of social #equity provisions. In contrast, the MORE Act, which cleared the House last year but was never taken up by the then #Republican-controlled #Senate, contained a number of such elements, like record expungements for those with past cannabis-related convictions and reinvestment into communities most impacted by the war on drugs. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, along with fellow #Democrats Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, are planning to incorporate social equity components into their own comprehensive legalization legislation, which has been highly publicized but not yet released. Some speculate the Republican-backed measure may now enjoy a first mover #advantage, even taking into #account potential criticisms, while others say the move is simply political posturing that’s unlikely to succeed. What do you think? Let us know online at Cannabis Broadcast Station.
In #Texas, a top consultant to the state’s #Agriculture #Commissioner is arrested over his involvement in an 150,000 #dollar #hemp licensing corruption scheme. Todd Smith, longtime political advisor to head of the state’s agriculture department Sid Miller, is accused of soliciting bribes and #campaign contributions in exchange for guaranteed #business permits. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, a prospective hemp licensee paid 30,000 dollars in cash to an unnamed middleman in #November of #2019, before failing to receive the permit he had been promised. This came after Texas legalized #industrial hemp #production, manufacturing and sales earlier that year. Smith, who allegedly collected a total of 55,000 dollars as a result of the fraudulent dealings, now faces charges of third #degree felony theft. The incident isn’t the first time Miller’s aide has come under scrutiny for potential #corruption, as he reportedly asked San #Antonio businessman Richard Branson for a campaign donation and personal loan, in order to secure his appointment within the state’s department of agriculture back in 2015. Despite paying Smith, Branson was passed up for the available position on the department’s #Rural #Health Task Force. The Texas #Rangers’ investigation into the more recent allegations of corruption is ongoing. Miller has denied any knowledge of the scandal, while Smith has not yet been reached for comment.
Overseas, a #British man is jailed after police inadvertently discover 43 #marijuana #plants at his residence in the greater #Manchester area suburb of #Burnley. Following an alleged distress call reporting a suicidal man, officers mistakenly went to the wrong #address and forced entry into the #vacant property, finding the plants, which are estimated to be worth between 35 and 56,000 #dollars, as well as scales, a machete, and #hydroponic #equipment. They tracked down the #homeowner, who denied any knowledge of the illicit #grow operation and directed them toward his friend, Jamie Howarth, who had been living in the house since #2019. Upon questioning, Haworth admitted to growing the #cannabis for personal use. Though #medical marijuana was legalized in the #UK more than two years ago, limited access and #high #costs prevent many patients from legally obtaining it. While Burnley law enforcement claimed to eventually attend and assist the suicidal man, many are criticizing the warrantless search and question their #narrative. The unnamed homeowner will stand trial in #2022, and Howarth, who plead guilty to the illegal #cultivation charges, was sentenced to a year in prison.
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