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Headlines: McConnell Fast-Tracks Hemp Legalization Bill

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Headlines: McConnell Fast-Tracks Hemp Legalization Bill

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A bill submitted by the Senate Majority Leader to legalize industrial hemp has been fast-tracked to the Senate floor. Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell introduced the bill just last week. [MCCONNELL CLIP: “It’ll be the Hemp Farm Act of 2018. What will it do? First and foremost, this bill will finally legalize hemp – legalize hemp – as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.”] The Hill reports that McConnell invoked a Senate rule that allows the bill to bypass the normal committee process. McConnell believes hemp agriculture is vital to the future of the Bluegrass State. [MCCONNELL CLIP: “We all are so optimistic that industrial hemp can become sometime in the future what burley tobacco was in Kentucky’s past.”]

Two House Republicans looking to unseat Indiana’s Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly say medical marijuana is best handled at the state level, but their votes say otherwise. Congressman Luke Messer voted against House measures designed to protect medical marijuana states three times. [MESSER CLIP: “I don’t want a federal government that’s big enough to tackle this problem. I think it’s a problem that’s probably best handled at the state level.”] Congressman Todd Rokita, who has a son with a rare disability, voted against a measure to protect states like Indiana that have CBD-only laws. [ROKITA CLIP: “That’s the reason we need to, from a medical perspective, look at it. But we have got to remove THCs.”] A third Republican primary challenger, former State Rep. Mike Braun also struck a stand for states’ rights while rejecting medical marijuana personally. [BRAUN CLIP: “I think if a state wants to go to medical marijuana, it ought to be their prerogative. I personally… I’m still out on that issue…”]

Illinois Democratic gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker released an advertisement touting his support for marijuana legalization. [PRITZKER CLIP: “It’s time for Illinois to end marijuana prohibition and enter the 21st century. For far too long, marijuana laws have led to discrimination and injustice.”] Pritzker’s opponent, incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, holds the opposite view. [RAUNER CLIP: “I do not support legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Marijuana has changed dramatically. It’s not what it used to be twenty, thirty, forty years ago. It’s very potent, very dangerous drug.”]

If one Missouri Republican’s bill to legalize medical marijuana falls short, three initiative petition groups are trying to put the issue before voters. State Rep. Jim Neely has proposed a bill to allow terminal patients to use medical cannabis products with a doctor’s recommendation. But critics say the bill doesn’t go far enough. One group, New Approach Missouri, is proposing a medical marijuana initiative with a 4 percent tax that benefits veterans’ health care. Find the Cure, a second group, proposes a 15 percent medical marijuana tax that funds a medical research board. Both proposals are constitutional amendments while the third, Missourians for Patient Care, calls for a statutory form of medical marijuana law. All three petitions specifically allow for the “vaporization or smoking of dried flowers,” while Rep. Neely’s proposal bans smoking. New Approach Missouri fell just 23 signatures short in placing medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot.

New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon is holding a 4/20 campaign fundraiser in Brooklyn with fellow actor Mary Louise Parker. Parker was the star of Weeds on Showtime from 2005 to 2012. Nixon has come out strongly in favor of marijuana legalization, a position at odds with the current Democratic incumbent. Gov. Andrew Cuomo today released some details of how his administration plans to study marijuana legalization. [CUOMO CLIP: “I think we should fund DOH to do a study, let them work with the state police, other agencies, look at the health impact, the economic impact, the state of the law. If it was legalized in Jersey and it was legal in Massachusetts, and the federal government allowed it to go ahead, what would that do to New York, which is right in the middle.”] However, there are no details on the composition of the study committee or its timeline for completion. Cuomo is also facing an independent challenge from Joel Giambra, a former Republican who backs legalization.

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