New Republican-Led Bill Would Legalize Medical Cannabis In Kentucky
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South Dakota voters are giving Gov. Kristi Noem (R) good marks on her job performance—except when it comes to marijuana policy and the way in which her administration has sought to undermine the will of the electorate which approved a legalization ballot measure last year.
A statewide poll released on Tuesday showed that an average of 61 percent of voters strongly or somewhat approve of Noem’s job performance across five categories in her first term. But just 39 percent said they approve of her handling of marijuana legalization, with 51 percent disapproving.
One-third of respondents said that they strongly disapprove of the governor when it comes to cannabis, while 18 percent said they somewhat disapprove.
Twenty-eight percent of Republicans, 38 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents said they strongly disapproved of Noem’s handling of the issue. Another 16 percent of GOP voters, 23 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of independents somewhat disapprove of the governor’s actions on cannabis.
While Noem—who is up for reelection next year—has seemingly recognized the popularity of marijuana reform in recent months and has attempted to tie herself to the rollout of a voter-approved medical cannabis program, it appears that voters haven’t forgotten how she adamantly opposed a separate adult-use legalization initiative that residents also passed last November.
In fact, it was a lawsuit funded by her administration that led to a court ruling voiding the recreational marijuana law—a decision upheld by the state Supreme Court last month when justices affirmed that the measure is unconstitutional because it violated a single subject rule for ballot initiatives.
“The people did weigh in on [cannabis reform], and it’s very easy to see what she is doing as far as working to counter what 53 percent of the voters said they wanted in regard to recreational marijuana,” David Wiltse, a political science professor at South Dakota State University, said of the survey results.
The poll—which was sponsored by South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy at the University of South Dakota—involved interviews with 500 registered voters from October 20-23 and has a +/- 4.5 percentage point margin of error.
“Of the five topics on which Noem was rated in the poll, she fared by far the worst in regard to marijuana,” South Dakota News Watch said in its analysis.
Noem has consistently faced criticism from advocates and stakeholders over her early opposition to cannabis reform.
She released an ad ahead of last year’s election urging residents to vote against the legalization initiative that ultimately passed, 54-46 percent.
“The fact is, I’ve never met someone who got smarter from smoking pot,” the governor said in the ad. “It’s not good for our kids. And it’s not going to improve our communities.”
Noem also drew the ire of advocates after she vetoed a hemp legalization bill in 2019. But after outlining a series of policy requests, she approved amended legislation to legalize the crop and CBD oil last year.
Lately, however, the governor seems committed to associating herself with the implementation of a medical cannabis legalization initiative that voters overwhelmingly approved last year, despite having opposed the proposal in the run-up to the election.
After regulators approved rules for the medical marijuana program in September, Noem said her administration “is fully on board to make certain South Dakota continues to implement the most responsible, patient-focused medical cannabis program in the country.”
I’m proud of the job the Department of Health did in streamlining this process. My Administration is fully on board to make certain South Dakota continues to implement the most responsible, patient-focused medical cannabis program in the country. https://t.co/kj0KrYHoGs
— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) September 15, 2021

Noem tried to get the legislature to approve a bill to delay implementation of the medical cannabis program for an additional year, but while it cleared the House, negotiators were unable to reach an agreement with the Senate in conference, delivering a defeat to the governor.
In response, her office started exploring a compromise earlier this year, with one proposal that came out of her administration to decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, limit the number of plants that patients could cultivate to three and prohibit people under 21 from qualifying for medical marijuana.
Advocates weren’t enthused with the proposal, and South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) is now taking a two-track approach to enacting legalization.
In the legislature, a draft cannabis legalization bill has been formally recommended by a leadership panel for the upcoming session. SDBML intends to work with lawmakers on that measure while continuing to collect signatures for a separate 2022 ballot initiative.
A Marijuana Interim Study Committee recently made the formal recommendation for the legislature to take up legalization following a series of hearings. The recommendation was agreed to last month by the legislature’s Executive Board, which is led by the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore.
Sen. Bryan Breitling (R) said the legislature will see two adult-use marijuana legalization bills and 23 proposals related to the state’s medical cannabis program during next year’s session. Any marijuana legislation that lawmakers pass, however, will end up on Noem’s desk.
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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment’s Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.
New Republican-Led Bill Would Legalize Medical Cannabis In Kentucky
Anti-Drug GOP Senator Helps Psychedelic Church With Fight Against DEA And IRS
California Awards $100 Million To Support Local Marijuana Business Development
Mississippi Senator Brings Hemp To Governor’s Office To Demonstrate Medical Marijuana Bill Possession Limits
NH House votes to legalize cannabis (Newsletter: January 7, 2022)
Psilocybin Services Would Be Legalized In Washington State Under New Bill
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A new Republican-led bill to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky landed in the state legislature this week. The measure is an update to lead sponsor Rep. Jason Nemes’s (R) past legalization efforts and includes a number of conservative-minded adjustments aimed at wining broad support among lawmakers, including leaders of his own party who control the legislative agenda.
Nemes filed a medical legalization bill in 2020 that soundly passed the House but later died in the Senate without a vote amid the early part of the coronavirus pandemic. He reintroduced the legislation for the 2021 session, but it did not advance. In recent months, Nemes has working to build support for a new, scaled-back version of the bill for 2022 and in October said he was confident it could pass if only legislative leaders have the “courage” to allow a vote on it.
The latest version of the bill, HB 136, introduced Tuesday, would establish a comparatively restrictive program, prohibiting both the home cultivation of marijuana and the smoking of cannabis flower. Whole-plant products would be allowed under the bill, but patients would be required to vaporize them.
Regulators would set many of the program’s specific rules—for example qualifying conditions for medical cannabis and personal possession limits—during an implementation period later this year if the bill passes. At a minimum, the conditions will include any type of cancer, epilepsy and seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, nausea or vomiting and chronic, severe, intractable or debilitating pain.
“Overall it’s a pretty solid but conservative bill,” Kevin Caldwell, Southeast legislative manager for Marijuana Policy Project told Marijuana Moment.

Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 800 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

The program would launch in early 2023 if the legislation is approved.
The narrow approach is designed to win support among GOP leaders in the state Senate, who’ve killed past versions of Nemes’s proposal. Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R), for example, steadfastly opposes the change, having warned that it’s a fast track to full legalization.
“I know my constituents are for it,” Thayer, who owns a whiskey distillery, said during a televised panel on Monday. “But this is a republic, and they elect us to go to Frankfort and make decisions on their behalf—and if they don’t like it, they can take it out on me in the next election.”
Others remain wary, such as House Speaker Pro Tempore David Meade (R), who said at the event that he’s still “on the fence” about medical cannabis.
Democratic leaders from both chambers, meanwhile, said earlier this week that legalizing medical marijuana will be a top legislative priority for this year’s session, which kicked off on Tuesday.
Gov. Andy Beshear (D) also supports legalization, saying last month that “It’s time we joined so many other states in doing the right thing.” He added that Kentucky farmers would be well positioned to grow and sell cannabis to other states.
Among the more innovative parts of the new bill, said Caldwell at MPP, are provisions that would ban discrimination against cannabis patients in areas such as child custody matters and organ transplants. Students who use medical marijuana would be permitted to consume it on campus under the administration of a school nurse.
The legislation would also establish what it calls a “rating system” system to track at least 12 major terpenes within each cannabis strain available in the commonwealth.
Patients would be able to have a 10-day supply of marijuana products outside the home and up to a 30-day supply secured at their residence. Those amounts are still poorly defined, however, as the bill leaves it to regulators to determine what constitutes a day’s worth of cannabis.
Products would be subject to a 12 percent excise tax and taxes on gross receipts, with revenues split between state and local governments. Of all state revenue, 13.75 percent would go to local law enforcement to help enforce the new law.
Business licensing would be fairly flexible, with no caps on license numbers or rules about vertical integration, as some other states have implemented.
Caldwell at MPP said the group generally supports the bill, though there are things he’d like to change. He said the tax rate seems high for medical cannabis, which in many states is not taxed at all, and that he would prefer to see more qualifying conditions spelled out in bill’s text rather than left to regulators.
But he deferred to the bill’s sponsors, noting the precarious path the bill must travel on its way to passage. “These legislators are much more familiar with their own political landscape than necessarily we are,” he said, “and we know that there’s very serious opposition on the Senate side.”
Nemes, the bill’s lead sponsor, said in October that he believes lawmakers will vote for the measure if only legislative leaders give them a chance. “There’s no doubt about it—we have the votes for it in the House and Senate,” he told colleagues at a committee meeting. “It passed 65 to 30 in the House [in 2020] when we were told it wouldn’t pass. We need to have the courage to vote.”
While Beshear, the govenror, has said that his focus will be on getting medical cannabis enacted in the coming legislative session, he said he also supports legislation introduced by Rep. Nima Kulkarni (D) in November that would prevent people from being incarcerated over marijuana for any use, saying he’s in favor of that policy.
Kulkarni’s bill would legalize the possession and personal cultivation of cannabis, but it doesn’t provide a regulatory framework for commercial sales.
A poll released in 2020 found that nine out of 10 Kentucky residents support legalizing medical marijuana, and almost 60 percent say cannabis should be legal under “any circumstances.”
Mississippi Senator Brings Hemp To Governor’s Office To Demonstrate Medical Marijuana Bill Possession Limits

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A Republican U.S. senator who’s known as staunchly anti-drug has apparently been helping an Iowa church that wants to incorporate the psychedelic brew ayahuasca into its ceremonies—even if he hasn’t changed his overall views about drug policy.
Specifically, Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) office has tried to help the church get answers about requests it filed with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The Iowaska Church of Healing has been trying without success to obtain a religious exemption from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which designates ayahuasca as illegal, and tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s currently litigating against IRS over its denials.
In a court filing in September, the church disclosed that Grassley has been lending a hand as it has fought for the exemptions.
For example, after being denied an IRS tax exemption and submitting an appeal, that request “languished with no response from Defendant until Plaintiff enlisted the assistance of United States Senator Charles Grassley’s office to expedite the appeals process and an appeals conference was held on April 1, 2021,” the filing says. The appeal was then rejected in June 2021.
Separately, in 2019 the Iowaska Church of Healing sent a petition to DEA inquiring about an exemption under CSA related to its ceremonial use of ayahuasca.
“Plaintiff has received no substantive response from the DEA with respect to the application despite repeated requests for a reply, including a follow up inquiry by United States Senator Charles Grassley’s office,” the complaint says.
Grassley’s step to help the constituent shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as an endorsement of the issue at hand, however, a spokesperson told Marijuana Moment.
“Regardless of whether Senator Grassley supports or agrees with a particular request or policy outcome, he believes that Iowans have every right to petition their government, and the government ought to be responsive,” Taylor Foy, communications director for the senator, said. “Sen. Grassley reads his mail and he’s always happy to help facilitate dialog between Iowans and the bureaucracy in Washington.”
IRS declined comment when local outlet KCCI-TV reached out.

The church says it has not incorporated the hallucinogen in its services since 2019 after IRS responded to an information request stating that the activity was considered illegal. It also has never conducted ceremonies at the church’s Iowa address and the sacramental ingredients have never been stored there, Bill Boatwright, an attorney representing Iowaska in the case, told Marijuana Moment.
“The primary purpose of Plaintiff is to operate a spiritual church in one or more fixed locations that conducts regular worship services using the Sacrament of Ayahuasca,” the filing says. “These services also involve prayers, smudging and spiritual music. Plaintiff will also operate various educational and mission groups, and conduct outreach designed to provide relief services to veterans of the United States Armed Services at no or reduced cost.”
Boatwright echoed that Grassley’s involvement in the church’s requests doesn’t necessarily signal that he’s supportive of the use of psychedelics in a religious context.
“Senator Grassley’s office took no position on the merits of the IRS or DEA applications, and only attempted to expedite both agencies’ review of them,” he said. “His office was not provided with either of the applications for review.”
But the senator’s willingness to intervene is notable on its own specifically because of his reputation as one of the Congress’s leading drug warriors for decades.
The former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman seems to have a particular interest in statutory exemptions related to controlled substances, however, even if he’s personally against the use of such drugs.
Last year, for example, a cannabis activist in his home state wrote to Grassley about the DEA’s denial of a request for statutory exemptions for Iowa’s medical cannabis program despite having made an exception for peyote when used in religious ceremonies of the Native American Church.
“Iowa needs an exemption for cannabis just like the one the DEA currently maintains for peyote,” the activist wrote to the senator.
Grassley’s office sent a response shortly thereafter, saying he will “follow-up with the DEA on your point about an exemption for marijuana under 21 C.F.R. § 1307.03 and seek further clarification for you.”
While the senator is an opponent of recreational cannabis legalization, he has also sponsored legislation meant to streamline the application process for researchers who want to study marijuana and to encourage the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop cannabis-derived medicines.
The Senate unanimously approved an earlier version of that bill in 2020, but it was not taken up by the House by the end of the session.
Read the church’s filing on the IRS religious exemption request below: 

Click to access iowaska.pdf


Click to access iowaska.pdf
Mississippi Senator Brings Hemp To Governor’s Office To Demonstrate Medical Marijuana Bill Possession Limits

Photo courtesy of Apollo/Flickr.
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California officials announced on Wednesday that the state has awarded $100 million in funding to help develop local marijuana markets, in part by getting cannabis businesses fully licensed.
The state Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) distributed the funds to 17 cities and counties where there are a disproportionate number of provisional marijuana licenses, rather than full-year licenses. The department first announced that applications for the Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program had opened in October.
Provisional licenses were allowed to be granted to business applicants as a way to more quickly stand up the adult-use market, and that temporary licensing category was set to expire on January 1 but was extended through the passage of legislation last year to give localities more time to complete the permitting process and meet environmental requirements.
Now the state is aiming to give those jurisdiction an added boost with the grant funding.
“The local jurisdictions receiving grants incorporated innovative approaches to meet the specific needs of their license communities, which is exactly what we were hoping for when developing this program,” DCC Director Nicole Elliott said. “Significant funding is being directed to process improvements and environmental assessments, both of which will help the state and local governments achieve short- and long-term goals.”
Several jurisdictions had expressed to regulators that they were experiencing significant backlogs in processing licenses, including one localities that said it would take up to four years to get through all of its pending applications without added support.
Additional funds are also being offered to places with social equity programs in place.
Here’s how regulators described the three main purposes of the funding
-Additional staffing to process substantial workloads associated with transitioning businesses into the regulated market
-IT systems to create streamlined license processing
-Completion of environmental assessments and new initiatives for water protection and renewable energy
DCC listed several examples of how localities have specifically proposed to use the funds, which will officially be made available after the municipalities sign off on the agreement.
Long Beach, for example, will use some of its funds to “hire staff and consultants to assist with streamlining local permitting processes and processing applications,” as well as support “website design, technology improvements, and training to assist applicants.”
Los Angeles proposed using the funding to “hire additional personnel to assist licensees with completing locally-administered processes to achieve annual licensure and administer [California Environmental Quality Act] processes, including document review and preparation of environmental documents.”
“The City and County of San Francisco proposed using grant funds to create new staff positions to process cannabis permits more quickly and efficiently, which both includes and will facilitate timely completion of local CEQA review processes,” DCC said.
Separately, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced last year that is awarding up to $35 million for a Cannabis Equity Grants Program for Local Jurisdictions that’s designed to “aid local equity program efforts to support equity applicants and equity licensees,” according to a description of the effort.
Public agencies and local jurisdictions are eligible for those dollars, funded through cannabis tax revenue as stipulated under the voter-approved 2016 legalization initiative. Cities and counties must demonstrate that they have a plan to create a social equity program, or have taken steps to adopt such programs, in order to qualify.
Also last year, GO-Biz said it was awarding about $29 million in grants to 58 nonprofit organizations, with the intent of righting the wrongs of the war on drugs. The funding is being provided through the California Community Reinvestment Grants (CalCRG) program.
Grants are being awarded to qualifying nonprofits to support programs aimed at providing job placement, mental health treatment, substance misuse treatment and legal services for disproportionately impacted communities. The program was first announced in April 2020, and applications for those grants were initially opened in September 2020.
Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife also said last year that they were soliciting concept proposals for a cannabis tax-funded program aimed at helping small marijuana cultivators with environmental clean-up and restoration efforts.
Outside of California, the governor of New York announced on Wednesday that her administration is creating a $200 million public-private fund to specifically help promote social equity in the state’s burgeoning marijuana market.
Illinois officials announced last month that applications are opening for $45 million in new grants—funded by marijuana tax revenue—that will support programs meant to reinvest in communities most harmed by the drug war.
Psilocybin Services Would Be Legalized In Washington State Under New Bill

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.


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