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This week, we cover a lampoon amendment in Missouri , Montana’s continued effort to gather signatures for cannabis legislation, the struggle of recreational dispensaries in Massachusetts, and the role of cannabis in presidential candidate Joe Biden’s “Plan For Black America.”

Montana Cannabis Activists Will Begin Collecting Signatures For Legislation After Weeks-Long Delay

New Approach Montana, a pro-cannabis activist group, will begin collecting signatures to put cannabis legislation to a vote. 

The group, backing two separate cannabis bills, first experienced issues in the wake of America’s Coronavirus epidemic. Unable to publicly gather signatures for their legislation, the group was forced to postpone their efforts. 

Soon after, the group filed a lawsuit requesting that the court allow them to collect signatures digitally. Last month, the court denied their request. 

However, the state began loosening its social distancing measures soon after. As a result, the group began to make plans to restart the process of gathering signatures in person. 

Despite this, the group’s efforts still face significant challenges. As with other facets of American life, their signature-gathering campaign simply cannot go back to what it once was. With the unavoidable personal nature of signature gathering, their endeavor requires a certain amount of risk avoidance. 

As a result, the group outlined a number of precautionary measures aiming to protect signature gatherers and signatories alike. According to Pepper Peterson, political director for NAM, the potential risk is a necessary evil. 

“As our state reopens for business, we must also reopen for democracy,” Peterson said. “Our signature drive will allow Montana voters to exercise their constitutional right[s]…in a safe and responsible way.”

GOP Lawmaker Introduces Amendment To Health Care Bill Requiring House Members To Partake In Medical Cannabis

Andrew McDaniel, a representative in Missouri’s House, made a rather unconventional attempt at levity during a session on Thursday. 

During a House debate on a Health Care bill, the following amendment—drafted by McDaniel—was read aloud.

“Members of the Missouri House shall consume a substantial dose of medicinal marijuana prior to entering the chamber or voting on any legislation.”

The put-on amendment was quickly and overwhelmingly voted down with a vocal vote. However, a reporter on the scene claims that he heard a few “ayes” coming from various representatives. 

McDaniels also claims to have heard such affirmative vocal votes, but later insisted the amendment was not drafted in earnest. 

He regarded the amendment as a chance to “get everyone to chill out and get a little chuckle.” 

McDaniels represents the minority of GOP lawmakers with a supportive approach to cannabis. In fact, McDaniels claims that the inspiration behind his amendment is a provision within the Health Care bill itself. 

The provision, supported by McDaniels, prevents state entities from reporting the identities of medical cannabis patients to the federal government. 

State Officials Advocate For Reopening Of Massachusetts Recreational Dispensaries

Ranking officials of a Massachusetts’ agency overseeing the state’s cannabis industry are confident that recreational dispensaries could safely reopen

In March, Gov. Charlie Baker issued an emergency order that shuttered the doors of recreational dispensaries. His decision regarding recreational establishments put Massachusetts in the minority among states with adult legalization. In fact, Massachusetts is the only state with adult legalization to take such an approach. 

Steve Hoffman, a Cannabis Control Commission chairman, is determined to see this controversial shutdown end. 

According to Hoffman, the CCC is fully prepared to monitor the social distancing implementation of recreational dispensaries, should they reopen. 

He believes that such dispensaries could easily and safely operate by implementing features such as curbside pick-up and appointment-only shopping. 

“I have no concerns whatsoever that we can operate this business safely,” Hoffman said. “I think we’ve demonstrated that we can do so on the medical side of the business, and I think there’s absolutely no reason we can’t do exactly the same thing on the adult-use side.”

Biden Doubles Down On Moderate Cannabis Reform As Part Of His “Plan For Black America”

As Former Vice President Joe Biden presses toward 2020’s election, one issue that separated him from his democratic opponents lingers. 

Biden, widely considered to be an extremely moderate democrat, has faced continual criticism on his cannabis views. 

While campaigning for the democratic nomination, his reference to cannabis as a “gateway drug” drew widespread rebuke. While he eventually walked back this comment, it did little to curry favor from supporters of legalization.

As it stands, Biden maintains that he is staunchly against federal legalization, claiming that current cannabis research is insufficient. 

However, Biden is now including the topic of cannabis within his “Plan For Black America.” The plan is a new part of his platform, seeking to address racial disparities in the US. 

Within that plan, Biden claims he will “decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions.” Further, he plans to divert all individuals with minor drug convictions to treatment, rather than imprisonment. 

While such reform would be a welcome change, the new announcement has done little to appease advocates. 

With a political record that includes direct and frequent involvement in the disastrous war on drugs, Biden will likely continue to seek approval from legalization friendly demographics heading into the presidential election.  

Coronavirus Updates In The United States

As COVID-19 continues its spread throughout the US, we will provide you with updates to keep you up to speed. We will continue to include these updates at the end of This Week In Weed until further notice.

Confirmed COVID-19 CASES In United States (As Of March, 22): 1,367,638

Confirmed COVID-19 DEATHS In United States (As Of March, 22): 80,787

  • Some semen samples of Coronavirus patients have been shown to contain traces of the virus. It is still unclear whether the virus can be sexually transmitted. 
  • The FDA approved the first at-home Coronavirus test.
  • Hydroxychloroquine has little effect on Coronavirus, according to the largest study on the subject to date.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci claims there is “no evidence” that Coronavirus came from a Chinese lab.
  • The hospitalization rate in New York has fallen to the level it was at when Gov. Cuomo announced a state of emergency in March. 
  • Members of the White House Coronavirus task force are self isolating after a potential exposure to the virus.
  • Wuhan reports first cluster of cases since the city lifted its lockdown.
  • The US Military is currently banning Coronavirus survivors from joining the armed forces.
  • Scientists have created an antibody that is defeating Coronavirus in laboratory settings.
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