Loretta Lynch, the nominee for attorney general, said Wednesday during her confirmation hearing that she does not support the legalization of marijuana, and that she disagrees with President Barack Obama’s remarks about the drug being no more dangerous than alcohol. In a 2014 New Yorker profile of Obama, the president discussed his marijuana use as a young person. In that article, Obama called pot a “bad habit and a vice” and said he views it as more or less similar to the cigarettes he also used to smoke. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama said of the drug. When Sessions asked Lynch if she agreed with Obama’s remarks about his marijuana use, she appeared to take a harder line than the president. “I certainly don’t hold that view and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance,” Lynch said, logically implying she believes marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.
A bill has been introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The House passed a nearly identical bill last year by a vote of 215-92, but the Senate refused to consider it. HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six marijuana plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.
US Rep. Earl Blumenauer is demanding to know who in the federal government intimidated an Oregon bank that had promised to work with legal marijuana businesses. Oregon’s MBank made headlines last week when it announced it would be taking marijuana-related business in Colorado, where legal marijuana retailers struggle to find banking services. But this week, MBank announced it was pulling out of Colorado. Industry insiders revealed to the Post that the reversal was due to intimidation by federal banking officials who told MBank executives that interstate banking for marijuana businesses was too risky, due to marijuana remaining illegal under federal law. Blumenauer wrote a letter to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg asking for clarification on what guidance the FDIC provides to banks who offer financial services to marijuana-related businesses, and what role, if any, the FDIC played in MBank’s decision to abruptly suspend operations in Colorado.
A bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults died in the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee. Five Democrats voted for the bill, and nine Republicans voted to kill it. The measure would have changed possession of small amounts of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine and strike a requirement in the law that those who possess marijuana lose their driver’s licenses for six months. A poll this month reported that 7 in 10 Virginia voters surveyed supported decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Kevin Carroll, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Virginia, and other opponents said marijuana legalization isn’t working in Colorado. “Kids in Colorado right now have the highest incidence of use of marijuana right now than any other state,” he said, which is factually untrue and grammatically incorrect.
The Denver Airport has banned pot-themed souvenirs, fearing the kitsch could taint the state’s image — but Spirit Airlines continues to push ads touting the state’s marijuana industry for tourism. Marijuana possession and any pot-related advertising were already forbidden. Airport executives extended the ban this month after a retailer sought a free-standing kiosk to sell marijuana leaf boxer shorts and similar items that played off Colorado’s place as the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales. Airport officials feared the souvenirs would send the wrong message. “We don’t want marijuana to be the first thing our visitors experience when they arrive,” airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said. The spurned retailer is mulling a lawsuit, noting that the souvenirs are legal and that the airport already has a large exhibit celebrating craft brewers, whose product, like marijuana, is legal only for people 21 and older.