Sessions expected to toughen up on drugs. Attorney general Jeff Sessions has been reviewing two memos from the Obama administration that encouraged more lenient sentencing for drug crimes. He is expected to roll back those policies. Unnamed government officials say Sessions is expected to finalize the new policy soon. He has argued that a less aggressive approach to drug offenses has contributed to violent crimes. The New York Times “The attorney general is considering having his prosecutors bring the most severe charges against drug traffickers, whether they are low-level defendants or not.” Not only that, he is considering using “Section 851” of the Controlled Substances Act to add “enhancements” that would lengthen sentences for those previously convicted of a felony drug offense. The Washington Post Related: A poll found that the conservative base wants criminal justice reform. National Review
Does the White House need the ONDCP? Yes, argues the office’s former chief of staff. The Trump administration, which is reportedly considering a 95 percent budget cut for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, says the agency is redundant. “It’s the type of office that sometimes goes unnoticed, but the importance of it is that it really coordinates drug policy across the federal government and can save money. I mean, that’s what it’s supposed to do — the purpose of it is to have one entity that can oversee everything going on in drug policy.” Stat
Making concessions for relaxed rules on cannabis. Current and former NFL players are advocating for liberalizing the league’s marijuana policy. A spokesman for the NFL Players Association says the union will likely have to make some concessions for the league to relax its cannabis rules. “Clearly we’ve made some significant advances over the last six to eight years, but on this particular issue I think it’s incumbent on the league office to, and pardon my pun, keep up with the Joneses.” Denverite
Insurer on marijuana-related death: Not our problem. In April, Richard Kirk was sentenced to prison in the shooting death of his wife — he has maintained that a marijuana edible caused his behavior. The couple’s children have brought a wrongful death complaint against Gaia’s Garden, which sold the edible he ingested. Now, United Specialty Insurance has filed a federal complaint against Gaia’s Garden and the children, saying it has no obligation to defend the marijuana company. “The policy specifically did not cover, and was not intended to cover, bodily injury arising out of one of Gaia’s products where the injury occurred… (the death of Kristine Kirk) occurred after the distribution and sale of the product… Therefore, it was not a covered hazard under the policy.” The company also says that the policy had an exclusion for psychotropic substances. Courthouse News Service
Court rules against marijuana business. A cannabis business in Colorado sued the IRS in hopes that it would stop “investigating whether it trafficked in a controlled substance in violation of federal law.” The business argued that it would “suffer irreparable harm” if the agency denied the company deductions under 280E (which was designed to prohibit illicit drug dealers from taking typical business deductions). The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the IRS. Forbes
How will legal weed influence the alcohol industry? A new analysis predicts that legalizing adult-use cannabis in Canada will make a dent in the alcohol market by less than 1 percent. The analysis is based on alcohol sales in U.S. states that have legalized marijuana. The president of an alcohol trade association called into question the accuracy of the prediction: “We’re all anxious to know the answer to that. The fact is nobody really knows.” The Canadian Press
Cannabis in Canada. Charges for minor pot possession have dropped by half since the Liberal party came into power. Still, there were more than 4,000 charges for possessing cannabis in the past year. While the Liberal government has made waves after introducing legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, it has drawn criticism for its decision not to decriminalize the drug before introducing a legal market in 2018. Global News The government is expected to introduce a statement to defend tougher penalties for impaired driving and mandatory roadside breath samples. Some legal experts warn that the move could amount to unreasonable search and seizure. CBC News
The problem with measuring impairment. The latest episode of Weediquette delves into the issues with assessing stoned driving. While the Canadian government wants to come down hard on driving under the influence, there’s little scientific evidence for various tests accurately measuring marijuana impairment. Vice
Word on the States
- In Vermont, a House committee approved a marijuana legalization compromise.
- In California, a look at bills aimed at protecting children from marijuana. Sacramento gets its first cannabis policy chief.
- In Colorado, health officials launch a hotline for marijuana questions. A closer look at PR payments from Denver’s pot church.
- In Connecticut, the medical marijuana program has grown to more than 18,000 patients.
- In Massachusetts, concerns over how the recreational market will influence medical marijuana.
- In Washington D.C., the city seeks to expand the list of who can recommend medical marijuana.
- In Florida, the Senate president says he’ll consider calling a special session for medical marijuana regulation.
- In Nevada, a Senate committee approved a marijuana tax proposal.
- In Arkansas, regulators start training officers to enforce new medical marijuana laws.
- In New York, a Senate committee approved a bill to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for MMJ.
- In Georgia, the governor signed a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program.
- In Illinois, the Senate approved an industrial hemp bill.
Word for Word
“Rikers Island is actually a microcosm of everything wrong with America’s criminal-justice system, and may also offer a model for how it can be righted. Jails like Rikers—and the broken systems of which they are part—perpetuate inequality and injustice… Poverty and institutional racism make it more likely that a person will head to Rikers. Once there, the effects of incarceration are profound. As the Rikers Commission found: ‘Individuals who go into jail with problems—substance abuse, mental health disorders, lack of education, etc.—tend to come out with those problems exacerbated.'” – Darren Walker for The Atlantic
“We are the backbone and foot soldiers of the industry, and you want me to come out of the shadows and comply, yet you don’t protect us, there is no protection from the state.” – Marijuana farmer Larry Callahan, The Press Democrat