Sessions’ task force to review marijuana policies. Attorney general Jeff Sessions’ Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety will review how the Department of Justice enforces marijuana laws, according to a new memo. Its subcommittees will “review existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with administration goals and priorities.” Sessions has previously said that there’s “more violence around marijuana than one would think.” CBS News The task force will draw on other government agencies including the DEA, ATF, and FBI. “Sessions has asked the task force to issue recommendations to him by July 27, so it seems unlikely that there will be any drastic federal marijuana policy changes until after that date.” MassRoots Criminal justice reform had previously been gaining momentum among lawmakers of both major parties. Sessions is pulling back from those reforms, “terrifying” civil rights groups. The Pacific Standard
Senators team up on criminal justice reforms. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have introduced legislation to reform the criminal justice system. The REDEEM act includes measures that would: allow those convicted of non-violent crimes to get their records sealed, and lifting bans on those convicted of non-violent drug crimes from accessing benefits like food stamps. “We cannot continue with our current system, as the War on Drugs has disproportionately affected minorities and our inner cities, and tens of thousands of young men and women have become trapped in a cycle of poverty and incarceration,” said Paul in a press release. The Libertarian Republic
Another bill to help drug offenders. House rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has introduced a bill that would repeal a federal law which encourages states to suspend drug offenders’ driver’s licenses. The law in question reduces states’ highway funding if they don’t automatically suspend the license of someone convicted of a non-violent drug offense. “This is a common-sense, bipartisan reform of part of the failed War on Drugs,” said O’Rourke, who was joined by sponsors on both sides of the aisle. The Cannabist
‘Godfather of Grass’ deported to the US. John Robert Boone had been on the run from federal authorities after he disappeared almost a decade ago. The 73-year-old Kentucky native previously served a decade in prison for the “largest domestic marijuana syndicate in American history.” Boone was turned over to U.S. authorities by Canadian officials and is being held in a Vermont prison. He faces marijuana charges in his home state. The Associated Press Related: A story from earlier this year revisited his case: “Once Boone is brought back to the United States, he most likely will be tried, convicted, and sentenced to the life term that he has avoided for almost a decade. He would be a prominent conviction for the likely-to-be-confirmed attorney general Jeff Sessions, a signal that the Trump administration intends to ramp up the War on Drugs.” Politico
Cannabis in Canada goes national, drawing US interest. Governments across the country are expected to unveil a trade agreement on Friday to lay the groundwork for a cross-country marijuana market. The agreement will help provinces regulate the drug and develop standards for the industry. Canada’s economic development minister said the deal is about “having an open market.” CTV News US-based cannabis companies are flocking to Canada for its better regulatory climate of marijuana. Entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the different laws between the countries. Bloomberg But the relationship goes both ways. Canadian cannabis producer Aphria is expanding into the U.S. with a $18.63 million deal to buy a state-licensed CBD producer in Florida. Marijuana Business Daily Related: The first cannabis exchange-traded fund debuts on the Toronto Stock Exchange. CNBC
Legalization in Canada. The country’s health minister said there are no plans to decriminalize or legalize other illicit drugs besides cannabis. In a speech, she emphasized the need for a compassionate approach to drug policy. “And yet [Jane] Philpott had no real answer when challenged by those in the audience why she wouldn’t then go beyond cannabis and decriminalize other drug use.” Toronto Star A law enforcement group is urging the federal government to exclude home-grow from its legalization plan. CTV News The executive director of the Canadian National Medical Marijuana Association says that in the past three months, about two dozen employers have requested information about covering medical marijuana in their employee benefits. Leafly
New marijuana research center. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced the launch of the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research. Its mission: “conduct and coordinate research on cannabis and its biological effects with an eye toward commercial applications.” Researchers will draw on other specialists at the university — like those in the fields of nanotechnology and brain science. It also plans to collaborate with scientists and biotech companies around the world. “A lot remains unknown about [marijuana’s] mechanism of action… My belief is that our multidisciplinary center will lead global research and answer these questions,” said its director. JTA
Grenco Science scores $47 million win. The producer of G-Pen vaporizers was awarded $47 million in damages by a federal judge in Illinois. The sum includes $1 million from each of the 47 companies that sold pirated G-Pen products — mostly from China. There was a total of 65 defendants in the case, 18 of which settled out of court. “Will Grenco collect all that money? Probably not. But the court victory at least sends a signal to others who might consider brand piracy.” Leafly
Behind discussions about marijuana in the NFL. Team owners want to reform the league’s cannabis policy so as not to lose valuable players to drug suspensions. They also view the issue as a valuable bargaining chip in upcoming negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement. Sources tell ESPN that players themselves don’t necessarily want to do away with the policy: “They just want to reduce or eliminate the punitive aspect of the testing process,” wanting one that focuses on “counseling, treatment and pain management.” ESPN
Moms fighting marijuana stigma. While there’s still plenty of stigma facing cannabis consumers and those who work in the industry, moms face unique challenges. Two mothers in the industry talk about the skepticism they face from other parents about their careers in cannabis: “I try to educate and then I let them make their own decisions based upon it.” Circa
Word on the States
- In California, law enforcement officials objected to the governor’s MMJ regulation proposal.
- In New York, a medical cannabis dispensary launched home deliveries.
- In Massachusetts, the state made more than $7.2 million in marijuana tax revenue in the past year. Cities and towns consider restricting recreational marijuana.
- In Maryland, legislators battle over medical marijuana licenses.
- In South Carolina, the Senate approved a stricter version of a MMJ bill.
- In Connecticut, a marijuana legalization bill does not have the necessary support in committee.
- In Washington D.C., police are making $20 pot stings.
- In Washington, government officials from all over the world have visited the state to learn about cannabis legalization.
- In Nevada, liquor wholesalers had first dibs on marijuana distribution but aren’t jumping at the opportunity.
- In Alaska, regulators consider loosening restrictions for cannabis businesses in small towns.
- In Michigan, an owner of a medical marijuana dispensary says his assets were unfairly seized by police.
Word for Word
“Once I sold a tourist 14 grams of weed, a half ounce, and the police came and looked at this guy with this and go, ‘Hey, where are you from?’ Oh so you speak English and not speaking Spanish, OK, go, go, sorry, you’re welcome. But if I got caught with this, we’d go over to the police station, and they beat me up and later let me go. You don’t have drugs anymore, you don’t have money, cell phone, because the police steal it all.” – An anonymous Costa Rican drug dealer, Vice
“Sessions’s memo reads as an announcement that it is no longer the business of the federal government if American citizens’ rights are violated by those sworn to protect them and empowered with lethal force to do so. When local governments violate the basic constitutional rights of citizens, Americans are supposed to be able to look to the federal government to protect those rights. Sessions has made clear that when it comes to police abuses, they’re now on their own. This is the principle at the heart of ‘law and order’ rhetoric: The authorities themselves are bound by neither.” – Adam Serwer for The Atlantic
“‘Sanity is not statistical,’ Winston says, in 1984, and morality is not numerical. When we are talking about such immense numbers, the fact that anyone would be imprisoned for a long term for a nonviolent drug offense is a scandal. That anyone would be housed in a prison kept for profit by an entrepreneurial concern is an evil.” – Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker