Trump declares national emergency over opioids. Two days after Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price said an emergency declaration wasn’t necessary, president Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. Stat The declaration could speed up access to resources that could help fight the crisis, including emergency funds. But it remains to be seen how exactly the administration would go about this. Vox Some advocates are worried that the declaration could be used to strengthen the war on drugs and give Jeff Sessions more leverage to push for punitive drug policy. The Washington Post In his announcement, Trump also made a bizarre reference to LSD: “We’re going to make it a national emergency. It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had. You know, when I was growing up, they had the LSD and they had certain generations of drugs.” Vox
Crime victims disagree with Trump administration’s approach. A survey conducted by a group that supports criminal justice reform found that victims of crime disagree with the tough-on-crime approach by the Trump administration. A vast majority of respondents supported increasing treatment over doling out harsh sentences. The New York Times
Sessions promotes ‘Hang ’Um High’ Henry Hudson. Attorney general Jeff Sessions is urging the White House to nominate the former prosecutor to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a panel that issues sentencing guidelines. The Justice Department is advising the panel to toughen sentences for drug offenders and to preserve mandatory minimums. In 2014, the commission rolled back penalties for most drug offenses. “This little agency is a big deal and Sessions wants to exercise his influence, which is shaping up into a fight,” said the president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. The Wall Street Journal
Can cannabis save coal country? “This is the kind of story that needs to be told in the statehouse,” said a W. Va. state delegate about Johnsie Gooslin. Gooslin cultivated cannabis for his father, a Vietnam veteran who relied on it to help various ailments. He also sold it to others who found cannabis more effective than pharmaceuticals, many of whom stopped taking pain pills as a result. But in the end, he was arrested and charged with a felony. His family’s cars were repossessed and they lost their home. While some lawmakers push for reform in a state that is struggling with opioid abuse, Gooslin wonders how he can get back to cannabis cultivation. The Washington Post
Cannabis is becoming an issue for aspiring state governors. In governor races across the country, marijuana policy is becoming an increasingly important campaign issue. “This is especially true of Democratic candidates, perhaps a reflection of the fact that polls show that their party’s voters are generally much more likely to support marijuana policy reform than are Republicans. But some GOP contenders are also calling for changes to cannabis laws.” Massroots
Intrigue in Illinois’ medical marijuana program. The state’s medical marijuana law required creating a medical cannabis board that would evaluate petitions to add additional illnesses to the MMJ program. But despite often-unanimous decisions, the health department rejected all of its recommendations. Then, the governor offered the board a deal: “In exchange for extending the program another three years and allowing two new conditions (post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illness) to qualify patients for a medical marijuana card, the board must disband.” Now, former members of the board are speaking out in hopes exposing the way medical cannabis is handled in the state. Chicago
Actually, there are lots of no-knock raids. After news broke that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s house was raided, many political commentators discussed how rare such raids are. “[But] these sorts of comments not only erase their experience, but they also give a false impression of how and against whom these tactics are used. They’re used, for example, against people such as the woman and her 3-year-old daughter who were held at gunpoint after FBI agents entered her home by taking a chainsaw to her door. They were looking for a drug dealer who lived in the building. They had the wrong apartment. They’re used against families such as the three children in New Mexico injured by flash grenades when FBI agents conducted a no-knock raid on their father, who was suspected of being a street-level drug dealer.” The Washington Post
El Chapo’s new lawyer talks defense. Criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman, who was recently retained by Joaquín Guzmán, talks about the difficulties involved in the case. While him and two other attorneys have yet to formally take the case (the Justice Department could confiscate their paycheck in asset forfeiture), Lichtman hopes to resolve the fee situation. He also talked about the similarities between the cases of John Gotti and Guzmán. “I’m used to dealing with clients that society has already discarded, already convicted, and being able to convince [jurors] that maybe everything the government and the press says is not 100 percent accurate.” Vice News
A growing number of festivals are embracing harm reduction. Drug testing at festivals by U.K. non-profit The Loop has been so successful that they have been invited to provide their services at numerous festivals this year. A growing number of them “are now openly discussing a new approach to drugs, based on information and harm reduction rather than criminal justice.” Preliminary research suggests that such practices do push people towards safer drug use. The Guardian
Under the Influence. This week’s Toking Tunes playlist comes from Calum Armstrong aka Pet Grotesque. The former Volteface staffer recently released his first album, which includes a song inspired by this newsletter. Here, he collects stoner tracks from bands that have offered valuable musical inspiration over the years. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In Colorado, cannabis sales top $750 million in the first half of 2017. The cannabis industry came out to support a pro-pot candidate for governor. A new film about Hunter S. Thompson will be shot in the town of Silverton.
- In Nevada, Regulators will open up distribution licenses outside liquor wholesalers. Cannabis consuming tourists have trouble finding a place to consume.
- In Texas, three dispensaries expect to get approval to grow and produce cannabis oil.
- In California, an auditor accused a sheriff of improperly spending pot funds. Investigators are looking into the legality of a marijuana operation after one of its generators caused a wildfire. Tensions are rising about where dispensaries can be located in San Francisco.
- In Maine, a pro-legalization state rep. announced her run for governor.
- In Massachusetts, cannabis advocates criticize the Cannabis Control Commission.
- In Washington, regulators approve changes for cannabis business licensing.
- In Florida, the health department issued two more medical marijuana licenses.
- In New York, the state is considering changes to the medical marijuana program.
- In Utah, a medical marijuana campaign will begin collecting signatures for its 2018 ballot initiative.
- In Ohio, the state may allow private labs to test medical marijuana. Regulators plan to award MMJ cultivation licenses in November.
- In Wyoming, sheriffs warn eclipse-watchers to leave their weed at home.
Word for Word
“One year ago: The Obama administration said it had decided marijuana would remain on the list of most dangerous drugs, rebuffing growing support across the country for broad legalization, but said it would allow more research into its medical uses.” – The Associated Press
“Discriminatory law enforcement practices such as stop and frisk, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs are key components of the political economy of the United States. After the civil rights movement of the 1960s stigmatized overt racism, the national economy, which from the founding has been premised on a racialized form of capitalism, still required black bodies to exploit… The rap group Public Enemy said: ‘It takes a nation of millions to hold us back.’ Actually all it takes is the chokehold. It is the invisible fist of the law.” – Paul Butler for The Guardian