Bernie Sanders Announces He Will Co-Sponsor Marijuana Justice Act


Bernie Sanders supported marijuana policy reform way before it became popularBack when he was running for president in 2016, the Vermont senator made history by supporting marijuana legalization. Since then, Sanders has continued to advocate for ending the War on Drugs. Furthermore, he has petitioned the federal government for policy changes and worked to reevaluate marijuana’s Schedule I classification. In his latest pro-marijuana move, Bernie Sanders announces he will co-sponsor Marijuana Justice Act. Here’s a closer look at the proposed marijuana policy and its growing political support.

The Marijuana Justice Act

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker introduced the bill back in August. Since then, Representatives Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna have co-sponsored the House version of the Marijuana Justice Act. According to Marijuana Majority leader Tom Angell, “This is the single most far-reaching marijuana bill that’s ever been filed in either chamber of Congress.”

The act has four major components: It would legalize marijuana on the federal level, retroactively clear all marijuana-related federal convictions, allocate $500 million for job training in communities affected by the War on Drugs and cut law enforcement funding for states that arrest a disproportionate number of people of color.

The Act’s Co-Sponsors

Many other Democrats have stepped up to support the Marijuana Justice Act. To date, twenty-seven legislators are co-sponsoring the bill. Senior Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon was the first senator to co-sponsor the act after Senator Booker introduced it.

In February, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also announced her support. Senator Gillibrand has repeatedly spoken out against Sessions’ marijuana crackdown, tweeting that [Sessions] is “either willfully ignorant or cowing to corporate greed on behalf of pharma special interest profits.”

Advocates for marijuana legalization are hoping that the Democratic Party will work together to make lasting policy reform. NORML political director Justin Strekal told Forbes, “With Senator Sanders co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act alongside Senators Booker and Gillibrand, it’s time for the party to speak with one voice that they will legalize marijuana and expunge the criminal convictions of the millions who are being held back from achieving both employment and the American dream.”

Senator Sanders Has A History of Supporting Legalization

Bernie Sanders announces he will co-sponsor Marijuana Justice Act after years of work on marijuana policy. Years ago, Sen. Sanders introduced the first Senate bill to reschedule marijuana. This legislation also would have stopped private companies from running jails.

Sanders has been a longtime advocate for prison reform, and through it, marijuana policy change. When he ran for President, the Senator became the first serious candidate who said he would vote in favor of legalization.

Sanders has continued to champion legalization in 2018. Earlier this year, the Senator asked those who supported him in his presidential run to petition Congress. Sanders wrote in his mass email: “Marijuana prohibition is part of a larger failed war on drugs that has led to the great national crisis of mass incarceration.”

Final Hit: Bernie Sanders Announces He Will Co-Sponsor Marijuana Justice Act

Sanders has a long record of advocating for prison reform. Thus, the Senator’s co-sponsorship of the Marijuana Justice Act comes as no surprise to his loyal constituents. This does not make the bill’s growing support any less significant. Not only would the Marijuana Justice Act legalize marijuana nationally, but it would help undo decades of racial policing.

Congress Can’t Vote on Cannabis Anymore Because of This Man


Have you ever wondered why the government seems to be moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to marijuana legislation? You may not have heard of Pete Sessions, but he’s one of the leading anti-cannabis lawmakers in the United States. Before you ask, no, he is not, in fact, related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But Congress can’t vote on cannabis anymore because of this man.

Pete Sessions Blocks Cannabis Legislation

Pete Sessions is a Republican Congressperson from Texas. Currently, he serves as Chairman of the House Rules Committee. That position gives him a lot of power over what legislation makes it to the House floor.

As he describes it on his website: “The House Rules Committee has important oversight responsibilities including oversight of the rules of the House, the House’s internal organization, the Congressional budget process, the ethics process, and relations between Congress and the Executive and Judicial branch.”

Ultimately, all this responsibility gives him the power to dictate what does and does not reach a Congressional vote. And he isn’t shy about this power.

“The Rules Committee assignment has allowed me to use my experience and personal values to influence every piece of legislation before it reaches the House floor,” his website says.


Sessions’ personal influence on legislation is particularly evident when it comes to cannabis law. For at least the last two years, Sessions has enacted a vendetta against cannabis reform, blocking every piece of weed-related legislation from going to a vote in the House. To put it plainly, Congress can’t vote on cannabis anymore because of this man.

The last time the full House voted on a piece of cannabis legislation was May 2016. That’s when representatives approved a proposal to give veterans access to medical marijuana as part of VA healthcare.

Since then, nothing. Sessions has successfully managed to block all national cannabis legislation from going to a vote on the House floor.

Pete Sessions is Clueless When it Comes to Weed

Pete Sessions shares more with Attorney General Jeff Sessions than just a last name. Both of them are outspoken opponents of cannabis. More specifically, they both regularly spout anti-weed propaganda that’s not at all consistent with research, science, or data.

To give you a sense of what Pete Sessions thinks about weed, take a look at a speech he gave this week about the U.S.’s ongoing opioid crisis.


Much of his speech was devoted to blaming opioid addiction on cannabis, rather than on the prescription painkillers being pushed by Big Pharma.

“Where do they start?” Sessions asked about those who end up hooked on opioids. “If it’s marijuana, we ought to stand up and be brave in the medical community to say this political direction is not right.”

He went on to suggest that legal cannabis is the source of addiction in the U.S.

“If addiction is the problem and we have marketers of addiction that include marijuana . . . we ought to call for it what it is,” he said.

Unfortunately for Sessions, none of his beliefs about weed are backed up by data. For starters, more and more researchers are moving away from the idea that weed is a “gateway drug.” In fact, even the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that “the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances.”


This is especially true when it comes to opioid abuse. Despite what Pete Sessions may say, cannabis could actually be a cure for opioid addiction. For example, a 2016 study found that cannabis may help treat addiction to opioids and alcohol. Researchers went so far as to call cannabis “an exit drug.” They said weed can help people ease off harmful substances like highly-additive opioid painkillers.

Final Hit: Congress Can’t Vote on Cannabis Anymore Because of This Man

Sessions’ comments about weed earlier this week are alarming. The most obvious problem is that they were based more on fear-mongering myths than any actual research.

But beyond that, the real problem is that Sessions holds so much power over national legislation. In his role as Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Sessions plays a huge behind-the-scenes role in dictating what does and does not make it to the House floor.

It appears that his irrational and paranoid fear of cannabis is one of the main reasons that Congress can’t vote on cannabis anymore. The full House hasn’t voted on meaningful cannabis legislation for the past two years.

Lawmaker Writes Bill To Let Kids Bring Medical Marijuana To School


In California, a lawmaker just introduced a bill to let kids bring medical marijuana to school. Although there are some stipulations, the proposed bill would give students in the public school system to have access to their medication on campus.

The Bay Area Bill

One state senator in the Bay Area of California is unwaveringly in favor of a sensible medical marijuana policy. So much so that he wants to extend the state of California’s already generous medical marijuana program. State Senator Jerry Hill, of San Mateo County, has proposed a bill to let kids bring medical marijuana to school with them.

He introduced the bill, titled Senate Bill 1127, early this week, on Tuesday. The bill would apply to students in the public school system, from kindergarten to the twelfth grade, who depend upon medical cannabis for normal, day-to-day functions.

While this proposed bill is certainly progressive, there are a few stipulations. First and foremost, the medical marijuana may not be consumed in a smokeable form. Or even in the form of a vaporizer. It would have to be delivered in a tincture, capsule or topical.

Another specific detail to Senate Bill 1127 is that a parent or guardian would have to come to the campus to administer the medication. Unlike other medications, the students’ medical marijuana would not be able to be stored in the school’s infirmary, or in lockers, in the case of older students.


Yet another piece of fine print to this proposed bill? If it is passed, there is no guarantee that it would apply to all students who use medical marijuana. School districts in the state of California would not be required to implement this policy.

Still, there seem to be quite a few school district officials who are in favor of Senate Bill 1127. In a press release from Senator Hill’s office, educators in the district lent their voice in support of the measure. Linda Cravalho-Young, the principal for Special Education Services, called pediatric medical marijuana access a “critical issue.”

“Knowing that the bill is being introduced shows amazing progress towards acceptance of our students with special medical needs,” she said.

Final Hit: Lawmaker Writes Bill To Let Kids Bring Medical Marijuana To School

The bill was just introduced this week. But it’s already been met with support from educators and parents alike.

“This legislation is about giving students access to the medicine they need so they have a better chance for success in the classroom and in the community,” Senator Hill proclaimed.


Senate Bill 1127 is not the first of its kind. In the states of New Jersey, Washington, Colorado, Maine and Florida, school districts have adopted similar policies. And in Chicago, Illinois, a sixth-grade girl and her parents are working with their school district to allow her to do the same.

When it comes to medical marijuana, the main thing to remember is that it’s not only effective for adults. Children and teens benefit immensely as well. And as such, they should enjoy the same right to access their medication as adults do. They shouldn’t have to choose between their education and their health. Thankfully, many lawmakers feel the same way.


How Many Dispensaries Are In Each State?


How many dispensaries are in each state? With 29 states that all have some form of legalized marijuana, the number of dispensaries in the country is rapidly increasing to serve existing and emerging markets. States like California have recently implemented their recreational marijuana laws. As a result, many old dispensaries have shut their doors and new ones have surfaced as companies await their license to sell. We used data from state governments with legalized marijuana to see how many dispensaries are in each state.

Recreational Marijuana State Dispensaries


With many states adopting recreational marijuana laws, the number of dispensaries countrywide is rapidly changing.


Dispensaries: 261

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana but not the first to go recreational. In 2016, California’s Proposition 64 passed, legalizing the sale of cannabis to adults. There are currently no businesses with full licenses to sell in California. However, temporary licenses are being awarded so retail cannabis is being distributed. According to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, there are currently 261 active temporary retail licenses to sell cannabis for adult use.



Dispensaries: 61

Nevada had their first medical marijuana dispensaries opened in 2015. Residents voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2016. The laws went into effect on January 1st of 2017. Now, weed can be legally acquired at any of the 61 dispensaries listed on the state government’s website.


Dispensaries: 93

In 2014, Alaska voted to tax and regulate the legal production, sale and use of marijuana. A license search on the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development website yields 93 results for Oregon dispensaries.


Dispensaries: 560+

According to the Oregon government website, the number of approved licenses to marijuana retailers went from 213 in July 2016 to 560 by the end of January.

Washington – 103 retail stores

Dispensaries: 103 retail

Washington has had recreational marijuana for quite some time now so there are now many dispensaries in the state. According to Washington’s Department of Health website, there are currently 103 retail cannabis stores but many more “medically endorsed stores.” This means they have medical marijuana consultants on staff.


Dispensaries: 520


Colorado has by far, the largest number of dispensaries in any state. The Colorado Department of Revenue has a list of all the licensed recreational and medical marijuana dispensing centers. There are 520 recreational facilities with 505 medical ones as well.


Dispensaries: 19

On November 8th, 2016 Massachusetts became the first state on the East Coast to legalize cannabis. As of December 31, 2017, Massachusetts has 19 registered marijuana dispensaries around the state.

Medical Marijuana State Dispensaries


California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Since then, about half of the nation’s states have legalized medical marijuana. In states with strict laws, medical marijuana is limited to patients with truly debilitating conditions. Other states that allow a wider range of patients to register as medical marijuana patients and they have more dispensaries as a result.


Dispensaries: 8

8 total Medical Use of Marijuana Program Dispensaries

Maine joined Massachusetts in legalizing recreational marijuana on the East Coast. However, retailers currently have no way to get the required licenses. As a result, the only dispensaries in the state are only accessible to medical marijuana patients. There is currently 8 listed medical use of marijuana program dispensaries on the state government’s website.


Dispensaries: 100+

Arizona is one of the first states with a drive-thru dispensary. Unfortunately, they are one of the few states that keep their list of dispensaries confidentialto anyone other than registered medical marijuana patients that cannot grow their own marijuana in the state.

However, the number of dispensaries allowed in the state is somewhere between 120 and 126. The number of dispensary agents is public. There are 4,731 individuals that can distribute marijuana on behalf of a dispensary.

New Mexico

Dispensaries: 68

New Mexico’s medical marijuana law was signed in 2007. Since it’s been more than a decade, there are now many dispensaries for the state’s patients to choose from. The state has 12 manufacturers that distribute from their own dispensaries. Recent data shows a total of 68 dispensaries in New Mexico.


Dispensaries: 50+

Medical marijuana laws in Montana were signed in 2004. Only patients with severely debilitating or terminal conditions qualify for medical marijuana in the state. Despite this, the number of dispensaries in the state has gradually increased over the year. According to the Montana Department of Health, they cannot give information out about dispensaries. However, there are over fifty listed online.

North Dakota

Dispensaries: 0

The North Dakota medical marijuana law was only signed in 2016. The program is not yet operational and there are no current dispensaries. The program was supposed to go into effect on April 18, 2017. The earliest effective date for medical marijuana rules would be on April 1, 2018.


Dispensaries: 8

The Minnesota medical marijuana law was signed in 2014 and it is currently operational. Several state-licensed dispensaries have opened. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Health has eight locations listed on their website.


Dispensaries: 100+

Michigan is currently in the process of accepting medical marijuana business license applications but there are over 42,000 caregivers registered to supply cannabis. There are currently well over one hundred dispensaries listed online but they will close soon if they don’t receive a license when they’re distributed later this year.


Dispensaries: 53

Illinois is one of the states with a long list of qualifying conditions but they have a decent number of dispensaries. The medical marijuana laws in Illinois were signed in 2013. Since then, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation list 53 licensed dispensaries across the state.


Dispensaries: 0

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has yet to release the list of licensed dispensaries despite the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment. There is a delay because the law only came into effect in 2016 and the program is still a work in progress. So far the Department of Finance and Administration has released a list of all the names and proposed locations of applicants.


Dispensaries: 0

The Louisiana medical marijuana program has yet to start. Worst of all, the number of doctors that are approved to issue a “physician recommendation form” can be counted on one hand. If all goes according to plan, the program will begin operating this summer.


Dispensaries: 27

Florida has medical marijuana laws but they are restrictive like the laws in other states like New York. Medical marijuana treatment center is the term for a dispensary in Florida. These centers are responsible for cultivating and processing the cannabis. Additionally, they sell to qualified medical marijuana patients. There are 27 dispensaries total listed on the state government’s website.


Dispensaries: 0

The Ohio medical marijuana laws were signed in 2016 but the program hasn’t started yet. The State Board of Pharmacy may award up to 60 dispensary licenses. So far, the board has received hundreds of applicants. There is no one to sell medical marijuana in the state yet. Unfortunately, patients will have to wait while the program starts handing out licenses to sell.

West Virginia

Dispensaries: 0

West Virginia signed their marijuana laws in 2016. As a result, the program is not yet operational. Therefore, there are no operating dispensaries in the state as of now. The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Program will release the application for dispensaries in the first quarter of 2018.


Dispensaries: 6

Six dispensaries received approval to start selling medical marijuana products once they are available. The only dispensary to have a grand opening is in Lehigh Valley. Unfortunately, they have no product. Therefore, patients won’t be able to make purchases until mid-February or later.


Dispensaries: 0

A judge temporarily halted the medical marijuana industry in Maryland on the request of a company that alleged state regulators ignored racial diversity when deciding who could grow legal cannabis. A trial in June will determine whether state regulators acted outside of the law when awarding the first fifteen preliminary licenses to grow. So, there will still be some time before Maryland sees its first operational medical marijuana dispensary.


Dispensaries: 2

Delaware currently only has two dispensaries owned by the same company. First State Compassion is currently the only provider of medical marijuana in Delaware and more are on the way.

New Jersey

Dispensaries: 5

New Jersey adopted their medical marijuana program rules in 2011. Since then, only a few dispensaries have opened up their doors in the state. In fact, the state currently has five operational medical marijuana dispensaries with more on the way.

New York

Dispensaries: 19

New York has one of the stricter medical marijuana programs for patients with debilitating conditions. In fact, there is no actual smokable cannabis available at dispensaries. However, other cannabis products are available at New York’s 19 registered medical marijuana dispensaries. More are opening soon which will more than double the number of dispensaries in the state.


Dispensaries: 4

Vermont has had medical marijuana laws since 2004. Despite the early start date, few dispensaries have opened in the state. More than a decade later, there are only four operational dispensaries located in Montpelier, Brandon, Burlington and Brattleboro.

New Hampshire

Dispensaries: 4

The Therapeutic Cannabis Program passed through the state legislature in 2013 but things have moved slowly since then. In fact, only a few dispensaries have opened up. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services lists 4 dispensaries or “alternative treatment centers.”


Dispensaries: 9

Medical marijuana laws in Connecticut came about in 2012 and not too many dispensaries have opened up since then. According to Connecticut’s official state website, there are 9 total medical marijuana dispensary facilities in the state. That will change soon because the state is looking for more medical marijuana dispensaries.

Rhode Island

Dispensaries: 3

Rhode Island medical marijuana patients can purchase their medicine at compassion centers around the state but there aren’t many. As expected with a small state the Rhode Island Department of Health website lists compassion centers in only Providence, Warwick and Portsmouth.

Washington D.C.

Dispensaries: 8

Washington D.C. has legalized recreational marijuana but there are currently only medical marijuana dispensers. There are eight medical dispensaries in the state total but most of them in the North East region.

Final Hit: How Many Dispensaries Are In Each State?

Since marijuana laws in several states have changed in recent years, the online listings of marijuana dispensaries in certain states are unreliable according to research.

“The online listings appear to be inaccurate. We only found 815 out of the listed 2,174 dispensaries were active. This is 37 percent of the listings,” Erick Eschker, co-director of the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research stated.

The number of how many dispensaries are in each state will change because a few states are currently working on implementing their programs. Once they are operational, the number of dispensaries nationwide will continue to increase.

Solevo Wellness Opens First Pittsburgh Medical Marijuana Dispensary


In the Pennsylvania city of Pittsburgh, patients will finally have access to medical cannabis. Solevo Wellness has passed its final inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Patients will now know it as the city’s first-ever medical marijuana dispensary.

Solevo Wellness

When its doors open to the public, Solevo Wellness will be the fourth operating medical marijuana dispensary in Pennsylvania. To celebrate this triumph, Solevo hosted an Open House on February 7th. Over 100 guests were in attendance, including the State Senator Jay Costa, Aids from Representative Dan Frankel and Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Conor.

Also in attendance was a representative of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where the dispensary is located. Marian Lien, the CEO of the Squirrel Hill Urban Collective, expressed delight that Solevo Wellness has found a home in the neighborhood.

One of the reasons that the Squirrel Hill community strongly supports the opening of Solevo Wellness’ dispensary is that the company has renovated a building that has been vacant for over a decade. Experts also predict that the new medical marijuana dispensary, located on a major intersection, will revitalize the area.

A Long, Hard Journey


 Solevo Wellness

The process of establishing, licensing and opening Solevo Wellness took 18 months. The company credits much of their success in obtaining the proper permits to their hired industry consultant, Sara Gullickson. She’s the President of Arizona Dispensary Permits. They were also aided by the law firm Buchanon, Ingersoll & Rooney.


Solevo COO Samuel Britz said, “it has been a long, hard journey to get to this point. It took huge efforts by many people in the Solevo Organization.”

He continued, “it started nearly 18 months prior, by retired county executive James Roddey and Nicky Geanopulos, Pittsburgh Insider and owner of the Nicky’s Grant St Restaurant.”

Britz also places credit within the Executive Committee formed by the Chairman of the Board, Dr. Robert Capretto. Britz has said that he believes that Chairman Capretto’s decision to form the committee, as well as their tireless work, was a key factor in Solevo’s success. The other committee members included Medical Executives Lucy Cichon and Kathi Lenart, Attorney Lou Gold and pharmacist Alex Mickalow.

Final Hit:

Solevo Wellness has proven time and time again that they are committed to providing their clients with the best possible team. From a pool of over 900 applications, they hired industry veteran Rocco Levine to manage their dispensary. They also hosted an event featuring Cannabis Pharmacy author Michael Backes that over 60 medical professionals attended. And on February 10th, they will host a seminar conducted by faculty of the University of Sciences.

There will soon be a total of five dispensaries in the city of Pittsburgh. Solevo Wellness predicts that their head start, in addition to their team of industry leaders, will prove advantageous when the other dispensaries open.