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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says federal lawmakers are merging a number of cannabis bills to be introduced this year—including a legalization bill that he’s written. During an interview with former NBA player and owner of cannabis company Viola Brands Al Harrington last week, Schumer said he supported cannabis law reform because he believes in “freedom.”

“Let people do what they want,” he said. “It became pretty apparent years ago that all these horror stories—you know, ‘Legalize marijuana and crime will go up’—well, states legalized, and crime didn’t go up. ‘If you legalize marijuana, everyone will become a big druggie.’ That didn’t happen either.”

He also pointed to the need for focusing on equity as the country moves toward inevitable legalization. He said his legalization plan will address the toll that the War on Some Drugs has taken on minority communities. “What our bill does—it says that tax that would be made from legalization should go in to the minority community to help minority businesses, to help smaller businesses. It was the minority community that suffered because marijuana had such a high criminal rating. … So we should put the money back into the minority community. I don’t want to see these big tobacco companies coming in and shoving everybody out.” Schumer said the bill will also include the expungement of minor cannabis criminal records.

When asked about the possibility that agencies like the FDA would be able to step in and over-regulate cannabis companies that are already invested in the market after legalization, Schumer assured Harrington that the legislation would make it “easy” for companies and would continue to leave regulations up to individual states.

The Senate majority leader said the bill was being “put together with some other bills” to be introduced together. It’s unclear exactly what bills are being rolled up.

New Mexico’s Legalization Efforts

Governor Lujan Grisham has made it very clear in her state of the state address that she’d like to see legislation pass this session for recreational cannabis. She urged the Legislature to realize the “tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in new revenue” legalization could bring to the state.

Two competing recreational cannabis bills were introduced on Monday in the State Legislature, with yet another expected this week. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the legalization bill introduced Monday came from Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, (D-Albuquerque). Ivey-Soto said Senate Bill 13 would leave New Mexico’s medical marijuana program intact and create a Cannabis Regulatory Office in the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department to oversee the program. “But it’s not just about the adult use. It’s how we transition from one to the other [medical to recreational] and how we maintain the duality of the two programs and a proper regulatory environment that also protects children in the process.”

Republican Sen. Cliff Pirtle from Roswell introduced Senate Bill 288, which calls for a taxation rate between 13 percent and 15 percent, depending on the tax rate in each jurisdiction. SB 288 calls for cities and counties to each receive 4 percent, with the remainder going to the state.

“If you get your tax rate too high, it causes the cannabis to be too expensive and allows for the black market cannabis industry to thrive,” said Pirtle, who introduced a cannabis legalization bill two years ago. “It was important to me to have a low tax rate so that we can put the black market cannabis industry out of business.”

Study: Weed Is Mixed Bag For Business Creativity

A new study found that while cannabis might positively impact entrepreneurial creativity, users were less likely to come up with feasible ideas.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Business Venturing. Researchers from Washington State University tasked 254 entrepreneurs with generating as many fresh ideas for new businesses based on virtual reality technology as possible in a single session. Participants were interviewed to determine their level of business experience, passion for invention and level of marijuana use. Participants were separated into two groups: cannabis users and non-users.

At the end of the session, the participants chose their best idea and presented it to a panel of experts. The ideas were then rated the originality and feasibility.

The researchers found that cannabis users were more likely to dream up novel business ideas than their counterparts, but that those ideas were less achievable.

Interestingly, the effect was not present across the entire spectrum of cannabis users. The study’s authors note that the presence and intensity of the effect appeared in correlation to passion for inventing or previous entrepreneurial experience. Cannabis users with a love of exploring new business ventures were more likely to come up with original ideas that couldn’t actually work. Those who had founded more than one business did not experience the same effect.

“Cannabis users are more impulsive, disinhibited and better at identifying relationships among seemingly disparate concepts, holding potential to benefit their idea originality,” wrote the study’s authors. “However, such effects and cannabis users’ impaired executive functioning likely detract from idea feasibility.”

“This is the first study we know of that looks at how any kind of drug use influences new business ideation,” said lead author Benjamin Warnick. “But there is still much to explore in this area.”

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