Personnel is policy. Attorney general Jeff Sessions has not yet announced any policy changes regarding how the Justice Department treats cannabis. But he has brought Steven H. Cook into his inner circle: Cook has been a vocal advocate against criminal justice reforms and his “new perch speaks volumes about where the Justice Department is headed.” Officials say Sessions and Cook are planning on prosecuting more drug cases and pursuing mandatory minimum sentences. “The two men are eager to bring back the national crime strategy of the 1980s and ’90s from the peak of the drug war, an approach that had fallen out of favor in recent years as minority communities grappled with the effects of mass incarceration.” The Washington Post Related: Sessions ordered the Justice Department to end a commission on forensic science and suspended a review on expert testimony. The Washington Post
But what would Jared do? Despite signs from the Trump administration that it may crack down on cannabis, House rep. Steve Cohen said cannabis advocates should look to Jared Kushner for clues. While Kushner has never expressed a position on marijuana one way or the other, “how can you be 36-years-old and grow up in New York City and be for having people jailed for marijuana?” wondered Cohen. “I feel confident that Kushner and Ivanka Trump would advise the president not to come down harder on marijuana.” Commercial Appeal
‘My civil rights were being violated.’ Police in South Dakota routinely seek warrants to obtain urine samples by “medically accepted means.” In practice, this means forcibly catheterizing people who are unwilling or unable to submit a urine sample for a drug test. In other states, forced catheterization has been the subject of lawsuits, but courts usually side with law enforcement. In one particularly distressing case, police forcibly catheterized a 3-year-old after his mother’s boyfriend failed a pee test. Argus Leader
Man who blamed marijuana for shooting gets 30 years. In an agreement with prosecutors, a Denver man who shot his wife was sentenced to 30 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. He maintains that a cannabis-infused edible was to blame, telling the court that if he hadn’t eaten the edible, his wife would still be alive today. The Associated Press The important fact to remember in stories like this one: Alcohol is a factor in 65 percent of spousal violence cases (compared to 5 percent for all other drugs combined). State panel data has shown that medical marijuana laws are associated with a drop in rates of homicide and assault. Word on the Tree
Cannabis businesses ‘purged’ from payment processors. Even ancillary companies are feeling the effects of the Trump administration’s anti-cannabis language. Business owners say payment processors like PayPal and Stripe kicked off cannabis-related companies en masse after the Trump administration first hinted that it might ramp up federal enforcement of drug laws. “Everyone running an ancillary business got kicked off all at once,” said one entrepreneur whose startup makes a decarboxylator. “It was an unrelenting wave; you could not deny it. All of the banks seemed to be highly attuned to the issue and there was no flying under the radar.” Inc
A tax expert looks at proposed federal regulations. A new bill in Congress proposes tax reforms for the cannabis industry. Here’s a look at the issues surrounding the tax design proposed by the legislation: “It doesn’t arrive at final answers, but with a ground-breaking THC tax and a just-right medical marijuana exemption, it takes steps in the right direction.” The Hill
Legalization in Canada. Highly anticipated legislation to legalize recreational cannabis is set to be introduced on Thursday. The legislation is expected to propose strict rules, including ones for plain packaging and restrictions on advertising. While federally licensed medical marijuana producers have called on the government to allow them to brand and promote their products, an unnamed senior official said the government is not so keen on the request. The Globe and Mail The legislation will reportedly change the target implementation date, which was previously reported to be July 1, 2018. An unnamed government source says there were “some internal concerns over legalizing a recreational drug on the country’s birthday.” CBC News
Meanwhile, the raids continue. The last of the Cannabis Culture dispensaries closed its doors over the weekend after being the target of frequent raids by law enforcement. “Former owner Jodie Emery said she believes dispensaries in Toronto have been raided more frequently in the past year because the federal Liberals want to keep the recreational weed market clear for the licensed producers already selling medical marijuana.” CBC News
Woman helping terminally ill patients gets charged. A South Australian woman who has admitted to giving away cannabis oil to needy patients has been charged with possessing and manufacturing drugs. “That’s a big sentence guys, so let’s see if they’ve got the guts to actually follow through and put me in jail for it,” she said. “Supposedly it’s all about justice, it’s all about the right thing, it’s all about looking after people, and what are they doing? They’re charging me for supplying cannabis oil and for saving people’s lives.” ABC News
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, organizers chose the marijuana legalization ballot measure as a pilot subject for the Citizens Initiative Review.
- In Nevada, bill to outlaw cannabis-infused candies gets pushback from the industry.
- In California, Humboldt county proposes new regulations on commercial cannabis cultivation. Weed fest ‘Kushella’ will set up shop near Coachella.
- In Ohio, regulators will start accepting applications for medical marijuana cultivation in June. Proposed licensing fees would exceed the costs of running the program by four times.
- In New Mexico, the governor vetoed legislation to expand the state’s medical marijuana program. A medical cannabis advisory board recommended the state add six new qualifying conditions.
- In Washington, Native American tribes consider joining the cannabis business.
- In New Jersey, an MMJ patient sort-of wins insurance coverage for medical cannabis.
- In Maine, a committee voted against allowing MMJ patients to receive organ transplants. Marijuana gifts exploit a legal limbo.
- In Maryland, state lawmakers are poised for an end-of-session fight over medical marijuana rules.
- In Arkansas, cannabis advocates are generally pleased with medical marijuana regulations.
- In Alabama, constituents are ahead of legislators on cannabis policy.
- In Georgia, the mayor of Atlanta is unsure about lowering marijuana penalties.
- In New York, the state raised the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.
Word for Word
“In addition to L.A.’s growing virtual reality market, the cannabis industry at large has begun to embrace virtual reality for both its marketing capabilities and inherently psychedelic properties. VR has been used to help materialize the effects of certain weed strains, and has even been employed by cannabis businesses across the country to provide customers with a behind-the-scenes look at grow operations. ” – Hayley Fox for LA Weekly
“Not only do Trump and Sessions’ more vocal supporters hope that this administration will stop using the Civil Rights Division to shield people of color from discrimination, but they also hope to use the Civil Rights Division as a sword to subject vulnerable minorities to still more discrimination. ” – Joshua Matz Leah Litman for Take Care