Sessions vows crackdown on drugs. In a speech to law enforcement officials, attorney general Jeff Sessions “pledged aggressive criminal prosecution of drug dealers.” “We have too much of a tolerance for drug use,” he said, praising Nancy Reagan’s ‘just say no’ campaign. Sessions advocated for mandatory minimums for felons caught with guns — a policy that critics say disproportionately harms poor African Americans. He also called the idea that medical marijuana could help the opioid crisis “stupid.” The Washington Post
On the one hand, Sessions described the Cole memo as “valid.” The Justice Department memo instructs prosecutors not to focus their efforts on those who comply with state-level cannabis laws. “Essentially we’re not able to go into a state and pick up the work that the police and sheriffs have been doing for decades,” he said. On the other hand, he did say he “may have some different ideas myself in addition to [the Cole memo],” hinting that he may revise it. MassRoots
Sessions also described cannabis dependency as “only slightly less awful” than heroin dependency. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.” Mic
Confusion for the industry. Sessions’ comments (along with other remarks from the Trump administration) have cannabis businesses in a bind. “My concern right now for both the company and industry is just uncertainty,” said the co-founder of cannabis company Dixie Brands. “It’s hard to build an industry or a company when you don’t have clarity.” CNBC
Sentencing for marijuana crimes drop. For the fifth year in a row, the number of people who were sentenced for federal cannabis crimes dropped. The drop was especially pronounced in states that legalized recreational marijuana like Colorado and Washington. But the data don’t reflect state-level sentencing, which is responsible for the majority of drug enforcement. Now that the Trump administration has fired 46 U.S. attorneys, “a new batch of prosecutors — who may have different ideas about what marijuana sentences have to do with the pursuit of justice” could take their place. The Washington Post
The problem with civil asset forfeiture. Police in New Jersey seized $171 from a man after accusing him of drug charges. The court told him that he’d have to pay $175 to get his money back. While the technique remains popular among law enforcement, individuals lose their property before even being charged or convicted of a crime. nj.com Related: Wisconsin rep. Jim Sensenbrenner wants to use seized assets from Mexican drug cartels to pay for president Trump’s proposed border wall. His legislation would require Sessions to “develop strategies for increasing [seized assets].” Washington Examiner
Cannabis collectives in the U.K. The non-profit United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs has launched a system to help medical cannabis patients and recreational consumers join co-ops that are treated less severely under the law. The organization provides a kit that would help notify police that the operations are not for commercial distribution. While none of the collectives have been raided yet, the UKCSC says it would help with the legal defense. Vice
Legalization in Canada. As we wait for the government to introduce legislation to legalize marijuana, a new poll found that 51 percent of Canadians are in favor of the policy. In the event of legalization, 63 percent support a specific sales tax and 87 percent believe it should only be available to adults. CBC Since Justin Trudeau became prime minister, the number of registered medical marijuana patients in the country has quadrupled. CTV News
And now, in local news…
- In Oregon, a Portland teen is advocating against marijuana ads.
- In Colorado, Denver is trying to figure out what “open and public” consumption really means.
- In New Mexico, a House committee approved legislation to lessen marijuana penalties. The House approved another industrial hemp bill.
- In Georgia, lawmakers behind competing MMJ meausures are working on a resolution. Senator Johnny Isakson clarified that he only supports rescheduling cannabis oil.
- In Arkansas, the state legislature filed 17 MMJ “shell bills” before the deadline for proposing legislation.
Word for Word
“Young people in the ’60s were looking for new ways to get high. It was a highly experimental era driven perhaps most by LSD and by growing pot use… But pot cost money, and hippies had little money. Bananas were cheap, so if banana scrapings worked, this would be a really cheap high. That’s why people fell for it.” – Historian William Rorabaugh, Atlas Obscura