Sessions against cannabis. Attorney general Jeff Sessions cited the case of marijuana trafficking out of Colorado in his request to Congress to crack down on state medical marijuana programs. “[Traffickers] often find a place for themselves within state regulatory systems,” wrote Sessions. Such cases will potentially fuel “anti-cannabis moves by industry opponents.” Marijuana Business Daily Sessions’ stance could hurt the VA’s interest in exploring medical marijuana for veterans. “We do encourage new ideas to be tested, and we are observing very closely work that’s being done that may be helping veterans, and we are open to any ideas and therapies that may be effective,” said Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin. Currently, the VA is barred from recommending or even participating in research. Task & Purpose Meanwhile, the medical marijuana industry is alarmed at his comments. In Maine alone, about 50,000 patients could face prosecution if Congress supports Sessions’ request. Portland Press Herald
Legal weed and lower crime rates. Sessions is fond of the argument that cannabis is associated with crime. But a new study suggests that legalizing medical marijuana has led to a decrease in violent crime in border states. “Areas closest to the border saw the most pronounced drop overall, as well as in crimes related to drug trafficking.” The findings suggest legal cannabis may hurt drug trafficking organizations. Vice / Tonic
Deputy AG hints that changes could come to marijuana enforcement. “Scientists have found that there’s no accepted medical use for it,” deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein told the House appropriations committee on Tuesday. He said that he is “not aware” of any proposed changes to the Cole memo, but said that the Justice Department may review the policy. “I think we’re all going to have to deal with it in the future.” The Cannabist
Citizens sue Kentucky officials. Three Kentuckians have filed a lawsuit against the state’s governor Matt Bevin and its attorney general Andy Beshear over the ban on medical marijuana. The three plaintiffs use the drug, risking prosecution and lack of medical care due to their cannabis use. One of the plaintiffs is a Vietnam veteran who uses it to treat his PTSD and a spinal injury. The suit says the prohibition of medical marijuana in the state unconstitutional, and argues that patients are “left with the unconscionable choice to either live in permanent pain from their illness, risk taking highly addictive and proven deadly opioids… or live as criminals for their use of cannabis to treat their illnesses.” WDRB
The hidden private prison system. The largest jail system in the U.S. is run by the U.S. Marshals Service, which rents beds in private prisons with poor track records. The service is responsible for about 51,000 inmates on a daily basis — almost half of whom are incarcerated for an immigration or drug offense. “It’s a hidden part of the criminal-justice system… nobody tends to pay attention [to it],” said one researcher. The inmate population under the marshals has been increasing over the past two decades and is expected to rise even further under the Trump administration. “One-third of USMS’ detainees are in private facilities, which is a larger share of the population than in either federal or state prisons overall.” Quartz
Criminal justice reform goes local. Given the tough-on-crime positions adopted by the Trump administration, criminal justice reformers are setting their sights on the local level. “Over 90 percent of our prisoners are in the state prisons and local jails… changing practices on the local level is going to be where most of the change is anyhow,” said singer and advocate John Legend. Most efforts at the federal level will now involve minimizing the proposals of the Trump administration rather than advancing reforms. BuzzFeed News
Britain’s first cannabis research facility. Biotech firm MediPen Ltd., which produces CBD vaporizers, is launching a cannabis research facility this summer. The company’s vaporizer was the first cannabinoid product to be tested by the NHS. “We plan to be amongst the first in the world to begin clinical trials on humans,” said a spokesperson for the company. The Independent
Tobacco industry itching to get into cannabis. Tobacco company Imperial Brands — the maker of Gauloises and Winston cigarettes — has named Simon Langelier to its board. Langelier is the chairman of PharmaCielo, a Canada-based cannabis company that got the first processing and extraction license in Colombia. Langelier previously worked at Philip Morris International for 30 years. Reuters
Aussie dad found guilty on drug charges. Michael Lambert uses medical cannabis oil to treat his severely epileptic daughter. The judge in his case recognized that the science on medical cannabis is “in a state of flux” but said that no-one could “circumvent the law.” Lambert admitted to possessing and cultivating cannabis, but said “he had no choice but to help treat his daughter, who had already suffered irreparable brain damage because of regular, severe seizures.” Lambert vowed to continue advocating for reforming cannabis laws in the country. ABC News
‘I [don’t] have the right to impose my moral values on others.’ Rev. Al Sharpton doesn’t consume cannabis, but is calling for diversity in the cannabis industry. Sharpton will keynote the CWCB Expo in New York this week and is expected to denounce drug enforcement that disproportionately targets people of color and to call for better representation within the industry. The Huffington Post
Word on the States
- In Nevada, a judge won’t throw out a lawsuit from the liquor lobby that could delay recreational sales.
- In California, about $100 million will go towards regulating adult-use marijuana. One company’s pest-control products are cleared for use.
- In Massachusetts, lawmakers are seeking higher taxes on recreational weed.
- In Oregon, tensions rise over the cannabis industry’s energy use.
- In New York, Valley Agriceuticals, an MMJ company that expects to receive a license, gets acquired by iAnthus Capital Management.
- In Illinois, poor Chicago neighborhoods are hit hardest by asset forfeiture.
- In Colorado, Denver’s strict social use rules are scaring away businesses.
- In New Jersey, lawmakers reach a bipartisan agreement on criminal justice reforms.
Word for Word
“Note the ‘wax parchment to ensure freshness.’ Note the ‘matches and strike surface,’ because who among their customers would dare poison their weed with butane. And, if you haven’t already, note the ‘reinforced tray to protect smokers in tight jeans,’ a descriptor so blatantly hipster-baiting that it may actually scare off hipsters. The branding is more aligned with artisanal granola than with what we would normally associate with weed. That’s the point, of course. But while the corporatization—gentrification, Whole Foods-ification, etc. — of pot has been going on for some time now, Lowell, in particular, appears to have sounded the death knell for marijuana as we once knew it.” – Sam Eichner for Urban Daddy
“At 21, [Anita Pallenberg] was already busy as a fashion model when, in 1965, she attended her first Rolling Stones concert, with a friend, in Munich. She managed to go backstage afterward, offered [guitarist Brian] Jones some marijuana and some hashish and went back to his hotel room. The two quickly became a couple, and Ms. Pallenberg, photographed in miniskirts or hip-hugger pants and her signature wide-brimmed hats, became a familiar figure on the group’s worldwide tours.” – Anita Gates for The New York Times