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Cannabis news briefs: Powerful coalition calls for federal reforms, the US Senate may have enough votes to pass cannabis banking reform, and more

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of major civil rights organizations such as AARP, AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers and League of Women Voters, and others are calling on Congress to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act completely.

The group has sent a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to pass legislation de-scheduling marijuana and calling for racial equity and justice reform. The letter asks lawmakers to “end federal prohibition in a way that acknowledges decades of harm faced by communities of color and low-income communities” and to “include reparative justice/reinvestment language for communities most impacted.”

[Concerns arise as Ontario limits pot retail licenses to 25 in new lottery system]

The Leadership Conference was founded in 1950 and includes more than 200 organizations altogether, including AFSCME, Anti-Defamation League, American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, NAACP, National Education Association, National Organization for Women, and National Urban League, with other members such as Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, People for the American Way, Service Employees International Union and UAW.

Sen. Gardner says votes are there for cannabis banking bill

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado told Bloomberg News on Monday morning that his cannabis banking bill has the votes to pass the Senate. “This would pass with a majority of voters in the U.S. Senate,” said Gardner, with the qualifier that the vote would need a simple majority, not the 60-vote filibuster proof majority that is typical of the U.S. Senate these days. His brief, but interesting interview can be seen here.

Trump’s acting chief of staff has pro-cannabis voting record

President Trump has announced the appointment of Mick Mulvaney as acting White House chief of staff. Mulvaney currently serves as director of the Office of Management and Budget and is the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He is also a former member of the U.S. House and has a record of voting to support marijuana reform amendments and cosponsoring cannabis bills. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Mulvaney supported amendments to allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans and also backed a 2014 amendment to prevent the Treasury Department from punishing banks that work with marijuana businesses.

Cannabis across the globe

According to a report in Cannabis Industry Journal, the European country of Luxembourg is considering legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. Luxembourg’s new center-left coalition which includes Greens, Socialists, and Democrats has put recreational cannabis on their ruling mandate and five-year agenda. Switzerland is expected to follow suit.

State-by-state

New Jersey lawmakers will not vote on a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey before the end of the year, according to NJ.com. After months of debate, a marijuana bill passed out of a joint state Senate and Assembly committee last month. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) aid the bill will not be on the docket Monday when the state Legislature gathers for its final voting session of 2018. Taxation of recreational cannabis is one of the sticking points for lawmakers.

[Gov. Cuomo to propose legalization of recreational marijuana in New York on Monday]

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In Nebraska, lawmakers are considering adult-use legalization measures. The group, Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, has announced that it will be partnering with national organization Marijuana Policy Project. MPP plans to support the work of local advocates in hopes of getting a measure onto the state’s next ballot.

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In Utah, a pair of emergency petitions have been submitted to the state’s Supreme Court asking that a referendum is held on the legislature's replacement bill for Proposition 2. The filing demands the Utah Supreme Court take action and trash the legislature’s approved replacement bill in favor of the language approved by voters in Prop. 2. Prop 2 got 2,800 more votes than both U.S. Senate candidates combined, and 113,000 more votes than all 13 candidates in the state's four congressional districts. The request for a referendum was already blocked by Lt. Governor Spencer Cox's office on the grounds that more than two-thirds of the legislature had voted to pass the bill, making it legally ironclad. 1,065,630 people voted for the Proposition 2 medical marijuana initiative — more than any other statewide race.

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