The FDA considers cannabis health claims, how the VA is stymieing marijuana research, and Alaska voters rejected local bans on recreational marijuana. Also: you know those treatment centers that drug courts divert non-violent offenders to? They’re more like slave camps, according to a new investigation.
FDA hints at cannabis crackdown. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said that the agency might start cracking down on those who make health claims about marijuana. “I see people who are developing products who are making claims that marijuana has antitumor effects in the setting of cancer… We’ll have some answers to this question very soon because I think we do bear some responsibility to start to address these questions,” he said at a Congressional hearing about a separate matter. Bloomberg
Robert Patterson named acting head of the DEA. The Justice Department named the principal deputy administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration as the acting chief of the agency after Chuck Rosenberg announced his resignation last week. Patterson has been with the DEA since 1988 and is considered the highest-ranking special career agent. Rosenberg clashed with the DOJ on the issue of marijuana research, and questions remain about how the federal government will approach enforcing cannabis laws. Reuters
Addiction treatment or indentured servants? Diversion courts have become central to criminal justice reforms, sending would-be inmates to addiction treatment rather than prison. This deep dive into the practice finds that judges are sending individuals to rehabs that don’t offer much treatment. Instead, they force people to work in brutal conditions with low or no pay at the benefit of private industry. “I’ll take prison over this place. Anywhere is better than here,” said one man who was sent to Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR). CAAIR is uncertified, unregulated, and brought in $11 million in revenue over seven years. Meanwhile, its workers don’t see a cent. Reveal
Family of slain informant agrees to settlement. After a Michigan police officer exposed Shelly Hilliard as a confidential informant, her body was found burned and dismembered. Hilliard had agreed to become an informant after she was caught possessing marijuana. Nineteen-years-old at the time, she quickly agreed to help police who threatened her with prison. A Michigan county agreed to pay $1.07 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Hilliard’s family. The Associated Press
How the VA is stymieing marijuana research. “I’m not one of those potheads,” said army veteran Boone Cutler when a friend suggested he try cannabis to help treat his PTSD. But then, he realized he had nothing to lose having tried all manner of pharmaceutical treatments. After trying marijuana, he slept for five hours — a first since he returned from Iraq. “I thought it was a fluke. I tried it again, and it happened again… That was an absolute, 100 percent, 180-degree life changing event for me.” Despite veterans like Cutler and groups like American Legion pushing the VA to liberalize its policies on cannabis, the agency has shown little interest in doing so. Meanwhile, it is refusing to help the first FDA-approved clinical trial on cannabis, which is investigating medical marijuana for PTSD. Government Executive
Marijuana and immigration enforcement. Luis Alvarez, who grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, was busted for a gram of marijuana. As a DACA recipient, the possession offense landed him in jail as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement moves forward with deportation proceedings against him. His lawyer is trying to help him gain asylum amid uncertainty over the DACA program. Leafly Related: When the Trump administration launched a hotline for victims of immigration crime, hundreds of callers used it to report “minor infractions, or merely to the presence of people they suspect of being undocumented immigrants.” Splinter The Department of Homeland Security proposed exempting ICE’s data collection system from the Privacy Act, which would make “the type, sources, and accuracy of information ICE is collecting almost completely secret.” Injustice Today
How cannabis producers in Oregon are fighting corporatization. Canadian investment firms with deep pockets have been snapping up cannabis companies in the state. Now, the Craft Cannabis Alliance is hoping to protect craft producers in the industry and advocate for legislative measures to remedy injustices in drug enforcement. Willamette Week Related: A look at a cannabis farm aiming to become the first carbon-neutral marijuana grow in the state. Willamette Week
APA slams barriers to cannabis research. The American Psychological Association, America’s largest organization for psychology professionals, urged the federal government to lessen the barriers for marijuana research in an advocacy briefing. “While APA isn’t calling for changes to marijuana’s criminal penalties, its criticism of the roadblocks to marijuana research created by the drug’s current federal classification adds to a growing consensus that something needs to change.” Marijuana Moment
Anti-doping agency removes CBD from banned substances. The World Anti-Doping Agency removed cannabidiol from its list of banned substances for 2018. The list still includes all other cannabinoids. marijuana.com
Cannabis legalization in Canada. Provincial leaders are butting heads with the feds over proposed cannabis taxes. Ottawa wants cannabis excise taxes to be split equally between the federal government and the provinces. Premiers are pushing back, “saying provinces will have to bear much of the financial burden of legalizing the drug and thus should reap more of the financial windfall.” CBC News A House health committee approved an amendment that would ensure edibles and concentrates in the cannabis market no later than 12 months after legalization is instituted. Lift
Word on the States
- In Alaska, the state collected nearly $700,000 in marijuana taxes in August. Voters rejected local bans on recreational marijuana.
- In Maryland, repeat drug offenders can now seek sentence reductions. The first medical cannabis crop is mature but it’s still unclear when it will be available for patients.
- In Colorado, the state ended a special session without addressing the pot tax drafting error. A cannabis dispensary chain is donating nearly $16,000 to hurricane relief.
- In Nevada, lawyers made their arguments about pot distribution before a state Supreme Court judge.
- In California, the San Diego city council approved legislation to legalize the marijuana supply chain.
- In New York, a state-licensed medical marijuana company is expanding to California.
- In Ohio, out-of-state companies seek MMJ licenses in the state thanks to a lack of residency requirements.
- In Missouri, a fake press release blasting marijuana advocates was not actually sent by the former house speaker.
- In Washington, cannabis advocates are divided on the state’s proposal to regulate home-grow.
- In Illinois, candidates for governor were very divided on the issue of marijuana legalization.
- In Georgia, Atlanta’s police chief says marijuana is still illegal and a recent ordinance to lower penalties deals with courts, not police.
Word for Word
“I mean, I have no problem with a barter economy of insider trading; if you want weed and your dealer wants stock tips, then a mutually beneficial transaction can be worked out. But if you are taking the marijuana for its cash value, and then selling it, then you have a problem, which is that you need to commit a second crime to monetize the proceeds of your first crime. It’s just a little inelegant.” – Matt Levine for Bloomberg
“LivWell has all the trappings of a typical retailer, with sales for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and loyalty points for customers. But the atypical parts are hard to miss. It took six years to find a bank that would work with the company—credit card companies still won’t—and executives say LivWell’s effective tax rate is well above 50 percent. That’s because LivWell’s product is marijuana.” – S.A. Swanson for Middle Market Growth
“Rest in peace, hippies. Fifty years ago this week, Haight-Ashbury residents were ready to bury the counterculture movement that had come to define the neighborhood and the city itself. With the classic Psychedelic Shop set to close, store owner Ron Thelin led a mini-movement to throw a proper ‘Death of the Hippies’ funeral and three-day celebration ending Oct. 6, 1967.” – Bill Van Niekerken for San Francisco Chronicle