Veterans appeal to Trump for medical marijuana. The American Legion, a conservative veterans’ group, is appealing to the Trump administration to reclassify cannabis to open up research on the drug. It has requested a meeting with Jared Kushner to “seek support from the president” on the issue. The national director for veterans affairs for the organization said, “We are not asking for it to be legalized… There is overwhelming evidence that it has been beneficial for some vets. The difference is that it is not founded in federal research because it has been illegal.” Currently, VA doctors are barred from discussing medical marijuana with their patients — even in states that have legalized the medicine. Politico
Prosecutors and state attorneys general push back against Sessions. A bipartisan group of 30 state and local prosecutors signed an open letter to attorney general Jeff Sessions pushing back against his new sentencing guidelines for drug offenders. “Instead of providing people who commit low-level drug offenses or who are struggling with mental illness with treatment, support and rehabilitation programs, the policy will subject them to decades of incarceration,” they wrote. One local district attorney who signed the letter said such a policy would make his community less safe. The Washington Post A group of 15 state attorneys general sent Sessions a letter asking him to rescind those guidelines. “While this policy may seem on the surface to be tough on crime, there is strong data suggesting that it is neither smart on crime nor fair on justice,” they wrote. The group requested a meeting with the attorney general to discuss the issues brought up in the letter. CNN
The prosecutors supporting Sessions. The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys — historically opposed to criminal justice reforms — is backing Sessions’ new policy. Though they represent a minority of assistant U.S. attorneys, the group seems to have an outsize influence in the Trump administration. The group’s former president now works alongside Sessions at the Justice Department. The NAAUSA lobbied against the Obama administration’s move to limit the use of mandatory minimums in nonviolent drug cases. The Atlantic
Pot convictions after legalization in California. After the state legalized recreational marijuana, thousands of individuals who have cannabis-related convictions have sought to reduce the charges or wipe them from their criminal records. Prosecutors say they have not fought most of the petitions. One cannabis attorney said he now gets two to three cases a week. Many convictions are decades old, and have cost individuals jobs and other opportunities. The Associated Press
Marijuana legalization ‘in the spirit of’ treaties. The head of Canada’s cannabis legalization task force said the country’s plans to regulate the drug is keeping with the spirit of international drug control treaties: “Those treaties talk to the protection of youth and young people, keeping young people out of criminal situations. They speak to fairness and justice and they speak to public health,” said Anne McLellan “It is up to Global Affairs to determine the position they want to take.” The Canadian Press Draft guidelines from Global Affairs instructed trade commissioners not to advise or support medical marijuana companies trying to export cannabis internationally. iPolitics
Canadians for criminal justice. A new poll found that 62 percent of Canadians want the government to issue pardons for those convicted of marijuana possession. While prime minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged that the system is unfair, he has so far declined to commit to offering amnesty. Tens of thousands of Canadians are charged with possessing cannabis every year. The Globe and Mail
Cannabinoids for treating brain injuries. Researchers in Israel have found that rats with traumatic brain injuries recovered better when treated with cannabinoids. They hope the findings could pave the way for clinical trials. When brain trauma occurs, the body responds by producing more of the endogenous cannabinoid 2-AG. Researchers gave mice one dose of additional plant-derived 2-AG, which had positive effects up to three months after the injury. Times of Israel
Capsaicin for cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. The rare illness causes cannabis consumers stomach pain and vomiting, but little is known about it. Emergency room doctors at the Washington University School of Medicine say treating patients with capsaicin cream “seems to improve their symptoms dramatically… We’re not entirely sure why it works.” KMOX
State bar votes against law student with felony record. A law student who previously plead guilty to drug and theft charges (and served 20 months in state prison) had her character and fitness review denied by the Washington State Bar Association. She was awarded a prestigious fellowship in December to help former inmates with re-entry. “I understand the bar’s concerns because I have made some serious mistakes in my past. I respect the individuals on the board and I respect the process,” she said. She plans to request a review from the state Supreme Court. ABA Journal
Involuntary commitment. Eight states are considering bills to make it easier for drug users to be forcibly and unwillingly put into treatment. Proponents say the measures are necessary to combat the opioid crisis, and the private prison industry is eyeing new business opportunities that could be created by such legislation. “The idea of using the criminal justice system or civil commitment to compel drug users to accept treatment is ridiculous,” said one addiction psychiatrist. “Why aren’t we incarcerating people with heart disease who continue to smoke or people with diabetes who don’t manage their diet?” The Daily Beast
Word on the States
- In Colorado, 4/20 rally organizers received a 3-year ban after the event left a park trashed. The governor signed a hemp farming bill.
- In California, local governments are dealing with challenges in collecting marijuana taxes. Regulators expect lag time for lab testing legal weed.
- In Ohio, a state Supreme Court justice advocated for marijuana legalization.
- In Vermont, the governor is still undecided on legislation to legalize marijuana. (He has until Wednesday.)
- In New Mexico, MMJ producers sold more cannabis than they produced, according to a review of quarterly reports.
- In New Jersey, a look at the fight for home-grow in the state.
- In West Virginia, regulators are developing a plan to implement medical cannabis.
- In Washington, researchers at WSU are looking for weed-smoking volunteers.
- In Arkansas, the attorney general rejected a proposed amendment to legalize marijuana.
- In Utah, a look at medical marijuana advocacy in the state.
- In Arizona, Facebook shut down a marijuana-legalization campaign’s page.
- In Washington, D.C., armed men tried and failed to rob a medical marijuana dispensary.
- In Minnesota, someone mistakenly donated more than 100 grams of marijuana to a second-hand clothing store.
- In New York, the NYPD plans to step up arrests to fight the opioid epidemic.
Word for Word
“What worries cannabis entrepreneurs like [Micah Tapman] most isn’t some blatant crackdown on dispensaries, but a more surreptitious war on drugs, in which government overseers like the Department of Labor or the Internal Revenue Service catch cannabis companies slipping up on the more mundane details of complying with laws around safety, environmental standards, and taxes. In other words, to stop pot, the Trump administration may find the answer in what it ostensibly despises most: government regulation.” – Issie Lapowsky for Wired
“The ink hasn’t quite dried on all the contracts, but the Loop will be providing drug testing at four or five commercial festivals. Add up all the guests at these events, and [co-founder] Fiona [Measham] believes some 500,000 people will have access to a potentially lifesaving service. All this is a result of consultations with police and local authorities, as opposed to government officials, with permission being granted at a local rather than national level.” – David Hillier for Vice