Survey: Americans think cannabis is safer than opioids. Two-thirds of respondents to a recent survey said that prescription pain pills are “riskier” to use than marijuana. About one in five saw cannabis as more dangerous than drugs like Vicodin or OxyContin. The Associated Press Cannabis has potential to help fight the opioid epidemic. While there is some heartening scientific evidence, research has been hindered by the drug’s Schedule I status. Motherboard / Vice Scientists are starting to gain a deeper understanding of how addiction changes the brain. Researchers are now looking towards new therapies to reverse these changes. Stat Related: There are many stories of individuals crushed by Florida’s draconian opioid laws. Here’s a look at some of their stories. Reason
11 charts about weed in the U.S. An overview of the aforementioned survey finds that nearly 55 million adults currently use cannabis. It also found that support for legalizing adult use is lower than it seems: 49 percent of respondents support full legalization. Other surveys find that about 60 percent of Americans support legalization — but those numbers don’t break out medical and recreational marijuana. The Washington Post
Congressmen on cannabis. House rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said he predicts that every state will have legal weed in five years. He says his marijuana reform bills have “overwhelming” bipartisan support in Congress and struck an optimistic tone about the current administration: “They don’t want to pick a fight to be on the wrong side of the American public.” Business Insider House rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said he expects the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to be renewed. Formerly known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, it would protect state-legal medical marijuana businesses from federal interference. Marijuana Business Daily
Paying for MMJ with federal funds. The New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission, which issues victim compensation grants for medical care, used federal funding to cover medical marijuana reimbursements. After the Justice Department discovered this “unallowable expenditure,” the state moved to ensure that MMJ reimbursements would be paid by state funds in the future. MassRoots
Inmate sues crime magazine. Russell Allen, a federal inmate serving time for taking part in a drug conspiracy, is suing the crime magazine Don Diva for $1 million in damages. The publication published an article 10 years ago that inaccurately reported that Allen once worked as a government informant and testified against a drug lord. As a result of being labeled “a rat,” he has been disowned by his family, the target of death threats, and endured stints in solitary confinement. A lawyer for the magazine described it as “an unfortunate situation.” The New York Times
Justice in thousands of cases tainted by drug lab scandal. Five years after the scandal first came to light, prosecutors in Massachusetts said they would throw out more than 20,000 cases that were tainted by a chemist who fabricated results. Annie Dookhan served three years for evidence tampering, and was released on parole last year. “We’re thrilled to say today that it looks like 95 percent of those tainted drug convictions will be dismissed,” said an attorney for the ACLU. The Boston Globe While the move will erase convictions, it will not undo the harm already caused by Dookhan’s crimes. Some individuals have been living with the flawed convictions for more than a decade. Others have been deported as a result of the convictions. “The effects of having an illegitimate drug conviction wiped away may not be immediately felt by many defendants.” ProPublica
Farmers sue over US-led drug war. Ecuadoran farmers are suing American security contractor DynCorp over its aerial herbicide spraying as part of a U.S.-led coca-eradication campaign with the Colombian government. DynCorp says that the farmers’ health problems were caused by other factors. Famers say the sprayings caused a myriad of health issues and the deaths of four infants. After a 15-year legal battle, a jury begins deliberations today. The Washington Post
Financial and legal services for the cannabis industry. Amid the pot boom, marijuana companies struggle to access banks. While California officials try to figure out a solution to the problem, some financial institutions have embraced the industry. The CEO of a Washington credit union that has hundreds of cannabis accounts said accepting cannabis businesses helps “promote public safety by reducing cash circulating on our community streets.” The Sacramento Bee Law firms across the nation are opening up cannabis practices. But thanks to federal illegality, some firms don’t advertise those services. Marijuana-focused practices, which cover a variety of legal disciplines, have seen huge growth as the industry expands. The Chicago Tribune
Clinical trial shows promise of CBD. A randomized, double-blind study of those suffering from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome epilepsy found that cannabidiol cut seizures at least in half for a large percentage of patients. The study was conducted by GW Pharmaceuticals, which plans to file for FDA approval later this year. The San Diego Union-Tribune
Word on the States
- In West Virginia, the governor signed legislation to legalize medical marijuana.
- In Florida, lawmakers consider decriminalizing marijuana. A Senate committee approved a medical marijuana bill.
- In Michigan, upheaval in Detroit’s medial marijuana market thanks to new rules.
- In California, an Assembly committee approved a bill that would prevent local police from helping the feds crack down on state-legal marijuana.
- In North Dakota, the governor signed medical marijuana legislation.
- In Pennsylvania, more than 200 children have signed up for a medical marijuana Safe Harbor program.
Word for Word
“Research also found an increased likelihood that lower-risk offenders, such as drug offenders, were more negatively affected by incarceration. Prisons are good for punishing criminals and keeping them off the street, but there is no evidence that prison sentences deter future crime. Prisons actually may have the opposite effect: Inmates learn more effective crime strategies from each other, and time spent in prison may desensitize many to the threat of future imprisonment.” – Jefferson County Circuit Court judge David Carpenter for al.com
“I don’t think we’ll see a full frontal assault by the Justice Department under Sessions, but it’s not going to be easy sailing. They’re going to appoint a whole slew of new U.S. attorneys and encourage them to mess with the industry. I’m assuming that Sessions is going to direct the Justice Department’s Criminal Division to look for ways to create problems. They’ll probably make use of civil asset-forfeiture laws to hurt people without actually putting them behind bars. And they may get creative with litigation strategies, to make it difficult for state governments to regulate the industry effectively. A lot depends on how much chaos Sessions wants to create.” – Founder of the Drug Policy Alliance Ethan Nadelmann, Freedom Leaf