The news on cannabis developments is coming fast and furious these days. Frankly, we can't keep up with everything, so we're starting this weekly roundup of issues and events that should be on your radar, with links out to stories that cover the issues in greater depth.
1. Tearful Republican can't stop medical marijuana bill
A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is tearing apart the state legislature's Republican caucus. During a closed-door discussion on the issue, House Speaker Mike Turzai broke down in tears, according to Penn Live. The bill was approved by the Senate and will now be debated in the House.
2. Top cop in Cowtown bearish on cannabis
Roger Chaffin, the police chief of Calgary, Alberta, is wary of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plan to legalize cannabis in Canada. "I'm not sure society needs another drug," he told the Calgary Sun. "My big concern on the policing side and probably for everybody who's driving, is operating a motor vehicle under the influence."
3. Utah looks at loosening medical marijuana laws
Law makers in the Beehive State are favorable toward a proposal to make cannabis extract more available to patients with HIV, cancer and other conditions. Currently, Utah only allows patients with severe epilepsy to use cannabis oil.
4. First Bank of Cannabis
Most American banks don't want anything to do with money from the marijuana industry because cannabis is still illegal according to federal law. But running cash-only operations causes many problems for cannabis businesses. That may change with Fourth Corner, a credit union created to serve the marijuana businesses. It could open in January if it receives approval from the Federal Reserve. CNN Money does a great roundup of the ways formal banking is necessary for the cannabis industry.
5. Congressman wants DEA head replaced
On Nov. 18, Democratic Party Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) called for Chuck Rosenberg to be replaced as the head of the DEA. Rosenberg sparked controversy earlier this month when he called medical marijuana "a joke." In response, Marijuana Majority launched a change.org petition calling on President Obama to fire Rosenberg. The petition has over 100,000 signatures.
6. Medicinal Cannabis Advocates Unite
We tend to focus on developments in North America, but access to medicinal cannabis is a global issue. On Nov. 16, advocates for patients in 27 countries addressed the World Health Organization's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in Geneva. The ECDD advises the United Nation's Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which oversees international drug policies (including the worldwide prohibition of cannabis). "New policies should take into account new clinical research, product safety protocols for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution, and global patient needs," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA).