‘No ammunition’ for a crackdown on cannabis. A task force convened by Jeff Sessions “has come up with no new policy recommendations to advance the attorney general’s aggressively anti-marijuana views.” The report “largely reiterates” the current hands-off policy of marijuana enforcement of the Justice Department. But it also suggested that officials “should evaluate whether to maintain, revise or rescind” the Cole and Ogden memos that direct the DOJ not to target state-legal medical marijuana businesses with prosecution. “It remains unclear how much weight Sessions might give the recommendations.” The Associated Press “Even as these findings came in, Sessions was laying the groundwork for a strike against the legalization movement,” signaling he could crack down anyway. Sessions could “reinterpret Cole, allege state noncompliance, and launch a clampdown on legal marijuana.” Slate
Sessions raises concerns with legal-weed states. In a letter sent to Washington officials, Sessions said the state’s adult-use program “raises concerns significantly.” State attorney general Bob Ferguson and governor Jay Inslee said that the shortcomings cited by Sessions were inaccurate. “Honestly, it’s hard to take him seriously if he relies on such outdated information,” said Ferguson. Seattle Times Sessions also raised “serious questions” about Colorado’s legal pot program. The letter was “practically identical” to the one sent to Washington officials — both cited data from each region’s HIDTA. “What is interesting here, however, is that Sessions’ accusations (are) that states are not complying with the Cole Memo, perhaps suggesting he is fine with the Cole Memo,” said drug policy expert John Hudak. The Cannabist Related: Members of Massachusetts’ Cannabis Advisory Board say they’re keeping a close eye on a potential federal crackdown. Boston Herald
Cory Booker promotes legalization bill. “I think this is going to be one of those things like marriage equality,” said the New Jersey senator on his descheduling bill. “Remember the days that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama refused to step out on this issue even though one might imagine they were OK with it, but they didn’t think the politics were right. Well, I want to go out there, jump out on this ledge, one might say, and show people it’s OK.” Observer Meanwhile, his state’s governor pooh-poohed the plan. “We’re in the middle of an opioid crisis… We want to send a message that other drugs are OK to take? I just don’t understand the logic there,” said Chris Christie, who chairs the White House’s commission on the opioid crisis. (ICYMI: The commission ignored thousands of comments about how cannabis could help the opioid crisis.) The Associated Press
Using a marijuana charge to intimidate a witness. Tori Morton has filed a lawsuit against the Seneca, S.C. police, alleging that they used the threat of a marijuana charge to intimidate her against assisting with a federal investigation into a 2015 police shooting. Morton was a passenger in the car when Zach Hammond was fatally shot by an officer in a botched drug bust. Independent Mail
Judge rules against woman whose dogs were shot in a raid. Nikita Smith sued Detroit police after they shot three of her dogs during a marijuana raid. A judge ruled that the lawsuit has no basis as the dogs were not properly licensed, and therefore “contraband.” Several lawsuits have been filed against the Detroit Police Department in the past few years over dog shootings. Police found 25 grams of cannabis during the raid, and charged Smith with a misdemeanor. But the case was dismissed when officers failed to appear at a court hearing. Reason
Nevada’s first black master grower. Aaron McCrary took his cannabis expertise from Washington to Nevada: “Coming here to this emerging market gave me an opportunity to re-create myself and move from a commercial marketplace to actively take a role in the development of not only the way my social group and ethnic group is perceived in the market, but in general for the industry.” Here, he talks about the barriers to entry for minorities, and how he’s trying to “provide opportunities to other people like myself, who otherwise wouldn’t have had it.” Las Vegas Sun
Toxic waste from pot farms. Experts are alarmed at the ecological impact of illicit cannabis grows in California. The pollution is far worse than previously thought: “The volume of banned or restricted pesticides and illegally applied fertilizers in the woods dwarfs [previous] estimates.” While California plans to license and regulate cannabis cultivation, many growers will opt to remain in the black market. “The most toxic sites cost as much as $100,000 to clean up, leaving taxpayers with a bill that could reach $100 million or more in California alone.” Reuters
‘I am your humble friend,’ Duterte tells Tillerson. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has changed his tone with the American government (he once told Obama to “go to hell”). While the extrajudicial killings in his campaign against drugs has drawn international condemnation, U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson said, “We see no conflict at all in our helping them with [military operations in Mindanao] and our views of the human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter narcotics activities.” The Hill
David Nutt testifies in South African cannabis case. Professor David Nutt, the British scientist who clashed with the U.K. government for his research on drug harms, testified in the South African case that seeks to legalize cannabis. “A society where cannabis replaced alcohol would be a nicer place to live and would have better health benefits and less health harms, and should be considered,” he said in the High Court in Pretoria. He is set to be cross-examined by the state today. News 24
Morphine over medical marijuana. Doctors in India are weighing in on the medical marijuana debate, saying that only opioids can help the majority of pain patients. “What we need is to improve the access to (opioid) drugs first which are already available,” said one Mumbai doctor. Other doctors in the country pushed back, touting the potential of cannabis as a pain reliever. Quartz
Word on the States
- In Oregon, cannabis retailers welcome international tourists to the state’s coast.
- In California, a gun possession conviction was overturned because the smell of marijuana didn’t count as legal grounds for a search. Legalization won’t get rid of the black market.
- In Nevada, marijuana use muddies state and federal gun laws.
- In Maine, a committee recommended against adding a THC blood-level limit to OUI laws.
- In New Jersey, the MMJ panel recommended adding 43 illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions.
- In Ohio, the job of testing medical marijuana remains up in the air as colleges hesitate to touch the plant.
- In Texas, a state senator filed a bill to expand access to medical marijuana.
- In Illinois, MMJ sales and patient enrollment is up, but lower than expected.
Word for Word
“Adam produced a large baggie of dusty organic chunks, chalky with hints of red, reminiscent of the Arizona desert it came from. The shriveled, disintegrating flesh of a divine mushroom… Adam’s mom was going to be home all night, but she would likely go to bed early. And anyway, she’d seen us grow up and had witnessed the deep strangeness at our unadulterated cores. What could we possibly do that would seem that abnormal?” – Danny Quinn for Ozy
“This is not necessarily an argument against the movement to legalize marijuana, which has been gaining steam in the United States. We legalize alcohol, after all. Giving people the choice to make bad decisions is very often the right thing to do, and it is shameful to lock people up for behavior that most Americans do not even consider morally wrong. But let’s not pretend legalization would exact no costs.” – Max Bloom for National Review
“Women’s experiences of policing in the war on drugs are thus highly gendered and sexualized. The war on drugs also drives gendered forms of police violence, such as extortion of sexual favors under the threat of a drug arrest that could lead to the loss of a job, a home, or children to child-welfare authorities, or to a long mandatory-minimum sentence, or to policing of pregnancy and motherhood. In just one case that came to light in 2016, two Los Angeles police officers were found to have coerced or extorted sex from at least four women arrested on drug-related charges. The war on drugs can also prove deadly, as it did for Frankie Perkins, Tarika Wilson, Alberta Spruill, Kathryn Johnston, and Danette Daniels—the roll call of female casualties of the war on drugs is both hidden and long.” – Andrea J. Ritchie, Longreads