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Mona Zhang

Mona Zhang is the founder and editor of Word on the Tree. Her work has appeared in High Times, Vice, Freedom Leaf, Adweek, and more.

  • Congressional Black Caucus declines Trump meeting, citing drug war

    The caucus chair decried racial disparities, the son of a reggae icon got beat into a coma while serving time for pot possession, and more in today's newsletter.

    June 23, 2017
    By Mona Zhang

    CBC says no to Trump meeting. “[The Trump] administration has taken actions that cause legitimate alarm among members of this caucus and the millions of Americans we represent,” wrote rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Richmond cited attorney general Jeff Sessions’ return to harsher drug-war policies “that will continue to wreck the Black community”

  • Rhode Island medical marijuana patient wins in court

    A judge ruled that off-duty medical marijuana use shouldn't matter.

    June 22, 2017
    By Mona Zhang

    On May 23, a Rhode Island court ruled in favor of medical-marijuana patient Christine Callaghan, arguing that a company discriminated against her for off-duty medical cannabis use.

    The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Callaghan in 2014 after the University of Rhode Island graduate student was denied a summer internship at Darlington Fabrics in Westerly,

  • The global black market for drugs is booming says UN report

    The failures of global drug policy, legalization in Vermont is dead for the year, and more in today's newsletter.

    By Mona Zhang

    The black market is booming. A new report from the UN’s office on drugs and crime found that the global market for illicit drugs is on the upswing: “Drug trafficking seems to have increased slightly in 2015 and some drug markets, particularly the cocaine and synthetic drugs markets,

  • Officer who killed Castile said marijuana smell made him a threat

    Acquitted officer cited cannabis in shooting death, national advocacy group loses bank accounts, and more in today's newsletter.

    June 21, 2017
    By Mona Zhang

    Officer who shot black motorist blames marijuana. The dashcam video of the shooting of Philando Castile has been released, but doesn’t show what happened in the car. Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted last week, and he testified that Castile ignored his commands. Now, a newly released transcript reveals that Yanez told investigators that the smell of cannabis was part of the reason why he considered Castile a threat.

  • Innocent lives are lost when DEA missions go wrong, but no one is held accountable

    A DEA mission gone wrong, data disputes Sessions, and more in today's newsletter.

    June 20, 2017
    By Mona Zhang

    Who holds the DEA accountable? No one, really. A recent story dove into a massacre of a border town sparked by a DEA operation. But when confronted with the evidence of its role in the tragedy, the agency insisted that “this is not a story where the DEA has blood on its hands.”

  • Sessions says harsher drug sentencing will help protect minority communities

    Sessions defends mandatory minimums, how prohibition increases violence, and more in today's newsletter.

    June 19, 2017
    By Mona Zhang

    Jeff Sessions on drug policy. The attorney general penned an op-ed defending his reversal of an Obama-era Justice Department policy that moved away from harsh mandatory minimums. He cited a recent uptick in violent crime and the opioid crisis as reasons to pursue harsh sentences for drug offenses.

  • Lawmakers reintroduce medical marijuana legislation in Congress

    The CARERS Act gets another chance, science proves Sessions wrong, and more in today's newsletter.

    June 15, 2017
    By Mona Zhang

    Reintroducing the CARERS Act. A bipartisan group of senators are reintroducing the CARERS Act — legislation that aims to protect state-legal medical marijuana. The bill would offer a more permanent solution for protecting state medical cannabis laws that currently rely on the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment (which must be renewed every year).

  • Legal weed may have led to decreases in violent crime

    The study suggests Jeff Sessions' claims about crime and cannabis are wrong. His deputy hints at changes to marijuana enforcement. This and more in today's newsletter.

    June 14, 2017
    By Mona Zhang

    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.”

  • Sessions asks Congress to let him crack down on medical marijuana

    The attorney general does not like the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, the deputy AG says marijuana belongs in Schedule I, and more in today's newsletter.

    June 13, 2017
    By Mona Zhang

    Sessions asked Congress to undo MMJ protections. “It is not the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce,” said Sessions at his confirmation hearing. But there’s one he really doesn’t want to enforce: The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. The appropriations rider restricts the Justice Department from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

  • Medical marijuana patients are losing their jobs (and suing)

    A firefighter with sterling performance reviews filed suit to get his job back. This and more in today's newsletter.

    June 12, 2017
    By Mona Zhang

    Live with pain or lose your job. A medical marijuana patient in New Jersey suffering from dystonia sued Ocean City after he was suspended from his job as a firefighter. He only used cannabis during his off hours. “In his 20 years on the job, which included taking part in recovery efforts after 9/11,