Sessions asked Congress to undo MMJ protections. “It is not the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce,” said Sessions at his confirmation hearing. But there’s one he really doesn’t want to enforce: The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. The appropriations rider restricts the Justice Department from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions,” Sessions wrote in a letter to Congressional leadership, citing the drug epidemic and violent crime. MassRoots Referencing the opioid crisis is at odds with a growing body of research that shows fewer opioid-related deaths and overdoses in states that have legalized medical marijuana. It also demonstrates a hostility from the Trump administration to medical cannabis, which the president expressed support for on the campaign trail. “[It] should make everyone openly question whether candidate Trump’s rhetoric and the White House’s words on his support for medical marijuana was actually a lie to the American public on an issue that garners broad, bipartisan support,” said John Hudak of the Brookings Institution. The Washington Post
‘Marijuana is an unlawful drug,’ says deputy AG. Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein talked about the conflict between federal and state law on cannabis, defending prohibition: “I’ve talked to Chuck Rosenberg, the administrator of the DEA and we follow the law and the science. And from a legal and scientific perspective, marijuana is an unlawful drug. It’s properly scheduled under Schedule I,” he said in response to senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who represents a state with legal recreational pot. “We’re responsible for enforcing the law. It’s illegal, and that is the federal policy with regards to marijuana,” said Rosenstein. The Cannabist
Dennis Rodman heads to North Korea on pot company’s dime. The former N.B.A. star is visiting North Korea on a trip sponsored by PotCoin, a cryptocurrency aimed at solving the marijuana industry’s banking woes. The New York Times He landed in Pyongyang today sporting a PotCoin t-shirt. Hours after he landed, the State Department announced that North Korea had released an American serving a 15-year sentence. “It wasn’t immediately clear whether the release was connected to Rodman’s visit.” The Associated Press The sponsorship seems to have paid off for PotCoin. The value of the cryptocurrency soared nearly 97 percent today (to about 18 cents). Business Insider
Indicted for marijuana trafficking. A former Colorado marijuana enforcement officer and a cannabis entrepreneur in Denver have been indicted in a marijuana trafficking ring. Scott Pack’s businesses held 14 state marijuana licenses, which investigators allege played a “pivotal” role in trafficking millions worth of marijuana out of the state. The licensed businesses “served as a front for the drug-trafficking organization,” according to investigators. The Cannabist
Corey Ladd gets out of prison. A man sentenced to 17 years without parole for half an ounce of cannabis gets reprieve after a Louisiana appeals court recognized the injustice of his sentence: “The sheer harshness of the sentence shocks the conscience.” Ladd’s girlfriend was eight months pregnant when he got locked up. After five years behind bars, he’ll spend the next four-and-a-half on parole. “Large-scale enforcement of laws criminalizing drug use across the US tears apart families, discriminates against people of color, and undermines public health.” Human Rights Watch
‘Pot powwow’ draws controversy. The Gathering of Nations is the largest powwow in North America, drawing members of hundreds of tribal nations to compete in a dancing contest for thousands of dollars. The community-focused event signed a contract with dispensary chain Ultra Health to sponsor the Gathering for five years. While some view the cannabis industry as an economic opportunity for tribes, others are criticizing the company’s tactics and drawing comparisons to the alcohol and tobacco industries. The Atlantic
An army vet gets his cash seized. Defense attorneys say his story is not uncommon. Roger Roberts had about $7,500 in cash that he had been saving up from his disability checks to buy a used car. Officers, who found a small amount of marijuana and crack in a passenger’s purse, took his money under civil asset forfeiture. “I’m not a drug dealer, that money that was taken from me is my own money that I receive every month from the Army. I’m a disabled vet,” he wrote to an investigator. While he eventually succeeded in getting his money back, the practice gives wide latitude to police to seize cash from people caught with small amounts of drugs. “The [cases] I’ve had, they have all been bartenders or someone who just cashed a paycheck, and bought a recreational amount of weed,” said one defense attorney. The Post and Courier
Mothers in the cannabis lab. Ana Alvarez has become a leading cannabis advocate in Peru after she discovered its medical benefits for her son who suffers from severe epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis. Now, she buys black-market weed to make cannabis oil in her makeshift home laboratory. A police raid on her apartment generated public backlash and prompted the president to propose legalizing medical marijuana. But passing such legislation could take years. The Guardian
Drug policy in Australia. The Senate has voted to lower the barriers to accessing medical marijuana for terminally ill patients. While doctors in the country can prescribe it, there’s no readily available supply — making it difficult for patients to obtain it. The Huffington Post Someone who’s lived through drug addiction pens a piece on why the government’s proposal to drug test welfare recipients is a terrible idea. “With government initiatives like drug testing welfare recipients; however, all of those psychiatrist-sponsored mantras go out the window. All that’s left is the cold, steely gaze of poverty, staring in the face of those who need aid the most.” Vice
How the DEA triggered a massacre in Mexico. A year-long investigation tells the story behind a massacre in Allende — a small border town of 23,000. “Unlike most places in Mexico that have been ravaged by the drug war, what happened in Allende didn’t have its origins in Mexico. It began in the United States.” The Drug Enforcement Administration had gotten the cellphone identification numbers for two kingpins of the Zetas cartel, and shared the information with a Mexican police unit. “American authorities eventually helped Mexico capture the [kingpins] but never acknowledged the devastating cost. In Allende, people suffered mostly in silence, too afraid to talk publicly.” ProPublica
Word on the States
- In Colorado, pro-cannabis Congressman Jared Polis will run for governor. Denver plans to crack down on pot odors.
- In Nevada, the governor signs three marijuana bills (and vetoes one). The state asks a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that could jeopardize July 1 adult-use sales. A casino banned a cannabis tech company CEO.
- In New York, lawmakers and advocates called for legalization in Albany. A look at why medical marijuana is so hard to get.
- In Massachusetts, lawmakers consider a bill that would change the marijuana law passed by voters last year.
- In Oregon, state officials discuss Cole Memo compliance with the U.S. attorney.
- In California, a proposal would allow dispensaries to sell both medical and recreational cannabis.
- In Pennsylvania, the health department expects to issue MMJ permits by the end of the month.
- In Texas, an inmate on suicide watch died in custody after being arrested for possessing marijuana.
Word for Word
“Forty-seven years ago today, one of the most important moments in baseball history was made: Pirates’ player Dock Ellis took to the mound and pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. Ten years later it was revealed that Ellis accomplished that feat while high on LSD. Now the story of Dock Ellis is coming to the big screen with O’Shea Jackson, Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) attached to star in the title role of Dock.” – Anita Busch for Deadline Hollywood
“Back in the 1970s, an American law enforcement agency found itself waging a controversial counternarcotics campaign, not only the US, but also the Greater Middle East. To this day, the Drug Enforcement Administration participates in an $8.5 billion crusade against the Golden Crescent’s largest drug cartel. But between ongoing violence, corruption, and CIA activities, these efforts have been rocky, to say the least.” – Austin Bodetti for Vice / Motherboard
“I am not bitter. I am not angry. They were only doing their jobs, and I respect them for that.” – Jerry Hartfield, who spent 35 years in prison without a trial or conviction, The Marshall Project