Public support for legalization at an all-time high. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that a whopping 94 percent of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, and 61 percent support federal legalization for adult-use. These numbers have all increased over the past year. But a political-party and age divide both remain in terms of support for cannabis policy reform. Only 20 percent of Americans support federal enforcement in states that have legalized some form of marijuana. The Cannabist
Sessions raises tensions for legal-pot states. Attorney general Jeff Sessions sent similar letters to officials in Washington, Colorado, and Oregon, questioning the efficacy of their legal cannabis programs. They are three out of eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana, “raising the question whether the federal government plans to prioritize its resources toward cracking down on the industry in those three states.” East Oregonian
Trump ignores suggestions of opioid commission. President Trump and Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price said they would beat the opioid crisis by strengthening law enforcement and border control. The White House’s opioid commission recommended declaring a state of emergency to use federal funds for substance-abuse treatments. “Strong law enforcement is absolutely vital to having a drug-free society,” said Trump. Politico Price himself could declare a state of emergency, but he said the crisis could be addressed “without the declaration of an emergency.” Stat Related: The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $3.8 million grant for a long-term study on medical marijuana for chronic pain. The researchers will look into whether cannabis lowers opioid use in both HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults. Albert Einstein College of Medicine / Release
Study finds marijuana use increases death risk from hypertension. A retrospective follow-up study of more than 1,200 individuals found that cannabis smokers are three times more likely to die from high blood pressure than those who haven’t used the drug. Reuters But the study had a major limitation: Researchers defined “marijuana user” as someone who has tried marijuana. The team assumed that people who had tried marijuana continued to use it regularly. “Authors conflate subjects’ reporting of having ‘ever used’ cannabis as evidence of current and habitual use. This is likely not the case,” said Paul Armentano of NORML. GreenState
DEA plans to reduce quota of government-grown weed. The Drug Enforcement Administration has proposed reducing quotas for marijuana production from 1,040 pounds (for 2017) to 978 pounds (for 2018). The agency also proposed reducing THC production. Researchers have expressed concern over the quality of government-produced cannabis. While the DEA has opened up applications for other government-sanctioned growers, it says it has no idea how long processing applications could take. The Cannabist
More “marijuana-laced-with-fentanyl” stories. Officials in London, Ont. Canada are warning that marijuana could be laced with fentanyl because people who claimed to only smoke pot tested positive for the opioid in a urine test. The statements echo similar ones in the U.S. But one man is warning that he got “half a dozen false positives… I’ve never used [fentanyl] in my life, and I also don’t smoke marijuana, so I know it’s wrong.” HuffPost
The activists trying to convince Asian Americans that cannabis is OK. Marijuana use remains heavily stigmatized among Asians. While cannabis has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, the Chinese community in San Francisco have been vocally opposing plans for a dispensary in their neighborhood. Dr. Floyd Huen hopes to push back against the stigma by offering a bilingual dispensary and partnering with Chinese medicine practitioners. Splinter
The latest in canna-business news. Flush with capital, Canadian medical marijuana companies are tapping into the significant potential of the international market. One recent analysis found that the international MMJ market could become a $142 billion industry in 15 years. Marijuana Business Daily Canadian MMJ producer MedReleaf just completed its first shipment of cannabis oil to Brazil. Marijuana Business Daily Meanwhile, the American multi-state cannabis company GTI quietly raised more than $50 million. New Cannabis Ventures
‘Toned down’ on human rights. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte says that the U.S. and Australia have “considerably toned down” human rights criticisms of his anti-drug campaign that has resulted in thousands of deaths. The Guardian Tillerson offered to help Duterte with his war on drugs if he agreed to change his tactics. “Tillerson made a general offer of help, not specific resources. The goal was to offer solutions to Duterte, not just criticism… The response was cordial, but noncommittal, according to U.S. officials, who said it is now up to president Duterte to accept or decline.” ABC News It doesn’t seem like he’ll let up on his tactics any time soon. Duterte announced a $40,000 bounty for drug-dealing cops “dead or alive — better dead.” Vice News
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, a health department staffer seeking a marijuana license raises questions of potential conflicts of interest. Activists are concerned that the state’s regulatory agency is underfunded. The advisory board is mostly staffed with members from pro-pot cities.
- In Hawaii, medical marijuana sales begin 17 years after legalization.
- In California, many MMJ businesses fear “harassment” from city agencies. A man was killed after confronting people who were growing cannabis on his property.
- In North Dakota, the state is seeking a testing lab for its nascent MMJ program.
- In Nevada, Clark county reminds marijuana businesses not to promote public use.
- In Arizona, an attorney urges judges to void the drug conviction of a college student and MMJ patient.
- In Maine, the governor slams lawmakers for approving a 21-and-up legal age for tobacco. State police seek money to fight black-market marijuana.
- In New Hampshire, the state is suing Purdue Pharma over its deceptive marketing of OxyContin.
Word for Word
“The American criminal justice system is exceptional, in the worst way possible: It combines exceptionally coercive plea bargaining, exceptionally long sentences, exceptionally brutal prison conditions and exceptionally difficult obstacles to societal re-entry. This punitiveness makes us stand out as uniquely inhumane in comparison with other industrialized countries. To remedy this, along with other changes, we must consider opening the exit doors — and not just for the ‘easy’ cases of nonviolent drug offenders.” – Marc Morje Howard for The New York Times
“On July 6th, the Oregon legislature voted to decriminalize cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone, LSD, and ecstasy. While reform of prohibitions on both medical and recreational use of marijuana has gained popularity in states across the country, most people remain skeptical of the benefits of reducing or eliminating criminal penalties for harder drugs. Yet, rolling back prohibitions on harder drugs is likely to bring greater benefits than those produced by the relaxation of marijuana prohibitions precisely because the harder drugs are more dangerous.” – Benjamin Powell for The Hill
“At the culmination of my school’s [D.A.R.E.] program, students were asked to write an essay about why you were not going to use drugs. The best essay received a D.A.R.E. t-shirt. The ‘winner?’ My best friend. A police officer called my friend to the stage to receive his prize. He turned bright red and looked visibly upset as he started towards the front. The police officer noticed, and all pretense of the officer’s unquestionable authority vanished in an instant. ‘If you don’t want the t-shirt, you don’t have to take it,’ said the officer. My friend reluctantly grabbed the t-shirt, shook the officer’s hand, and rushed back to his seat next to me. See, that was the problem with D.A.R.E.: Kids did not trust the message, nor the messenger.” – Andrew Freedman for The Hill