Cannabis at the Capitol. A bipartisan group of 11 lawmakers are co-sponsoring a bill to end federal prohibition. Introduced in February, House rep. Thomas Garrett (R-Va.) held a press conference on the legislation, explaining how he came around to the issue. Formerly a criminal prosecutor who enforced marijuana laws “quite vigorously,” Garrett said he grew tired of “creating criminals out of people who otherwise follow the law. If there’s anything I cannot tolerate as a citizen and as a prosecutor, it is the unequal application of justice.” The Hill Another bipartisan group of eight lawmakers is pushing legislation that would block federal regulators from going after banks that serve the cannabis industry. While regulators gave guidance to financial institutions under Obama, it had the effect of scaring them off from the industry. Reuters Related: House rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime advocate for cannabis reform in Congress, says he is not worried about the Trump administration. “People who hang on the words of this administration are going to suffer terminal whiplash… They’d be going against just about two-thirds of the public now.” Independent Journal Review
Business interests head to Washington. Marijuana business owners from 20 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico cheered and clapped as lawmakers gave their impassioned speeches on cannabis policy reform. They griped about having to drive long distances to pay their taxes in cash. One dispensary owner from Oregon said she was surprised by the support: “Honestly I didn’t expect as much welcoming as we’ve received here. There are a lot of people on our side whether they’re Republicans or Democrats. That was definitely a little bit shocking to me.” Rolling Stone Members of the National Cannabis Industry Association thanked the supportive members of Congress. But they’re also hearing: “Don’t count on much happening this year. The political oxygen that could fuel tax reform or a regular appropriations process will likely be consumed by the constant scandals facing the Trump administration.” Quartz
Consequences of Sessions. How big of an impact will attorney general Jeff Sessions’ charging policy have? It’s kind of unclear. Reason But a look at three former drug defendants shows the individual impact the new policy would bring. In all three of their cases, sentencing under Sessions’ new guidelines would have given them up to quadruple the sentence they had received under former AG Eric Holder’s policy. The New York Times Related: Another consequence of the policy — it could drive up the HIV rate. A review of 106 studies published this week found that criminalization was associated with increased drug use and increased rates of HIV. “The evidence is overwhelming. The Sessions memo is just incredibly sad,” said one of the study’s authors. Vox
Federal appeals court sidesteps marijuana ruling. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sidestepped making a ruling on whether prisons can hold people who were convicted of marijuana offenses that were legal under state law. Medical marijuana businessman Matthew Davies, who was prosecuted by the federal government, argued that U.S. officials are prohibited from interfering with state medical marijuana laws, and therefore he shouldn’t be held in a federal prison. The court ruled that his plea agreement prevented him from making such a legal challenge. The Associated Press Related: Published in 2014, here’s a more in-depth look at Davies’ story. Sacramento Bee
A tribal marijuana consultant heads to trial. Eric Hagen, a cannabis consultant at a Colorado company, was hired by the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe to assist with its plan to open a marijuana resort in South Dakota. Fearing a federal raid, the tribe ultimately destroyed its cannabis crop, and Hagen was later indicted on state marijuana charges. While the state doesn’t have jurisdiction over the tribe, prosecutors are arguing that it does have jurisdiction “over non-Native Americans who commit ‘victimless’ crimes in Indian Country.” Argus Leader
Canada’s age limit for pot use draws controversy. The country is set to become the second in the world to federally legalize recreational cannabis use, and has set the minimum age for consumption at 18-years-old. Some health experts are worried about the public health consequences of young people consuming cannabis while their brains are still maturing. But Canadian officials say the move is necessary to stamp out the black market. In Colorado, which has a minimum consumption age of 21-years-old, a lawmaker agreed with Canadian officials: “If you are old enough to go to war then you should be old enough to be trusted to use a recreational substance,” said state rep. Jonathan Singer. The Associated Press
Using cannabis to treat addiction. Harm reduction strategies are being increasingly embraced in the U.S. as treatment centers explore marijuana as a way to help those with substance abuse issues. One addiction researcher says that CBD reverses some of the brain changes that occur with heroin use, and can also help with anxiety. “To me, if somebody was using heroin and now they’re using cannabis, that’s a major victory,” said the founder of a treatment center that has embraced medical marijuana. CNN
Optimism on the industry. A new analysis predicts that cannabis sales in the U.S. will hit $17 billion by 2021. “The marijuana industry is primed and pumped for explosive growth in the foreseeable future, provided there isn’t a significant crackdown at the federal level,” said its editorial director. Marijuana Business Daily
Former Cannabist editor starts his own agency. Ricardo Baca, the first cannabis editor at a major U.S. paper, left his post to start a content agency for the cannabis industry — Grasslands. “We’re writing press releases and marketing copy. We’re cleaning up web sites. We’re ghost writing and managing blogs and content platforms,” he said about his new endeavor. Green State
Cannabis company subpoenas journalist. After receiving legal threats, Rolling Stone backed out of publishing a story on the weed startup Ebbu. The story ultimately landed at Pando, which chronicled a dramatic fallout between the company’s co-founders. Now, one of the co-founders is trying to subpoena journalist Alex Halperin in an effort to access his notes and sources. Pando editors speculate that the tactic was a bet that a freelancer wouldn’t have the legal resources to push back. “If there’s one rule of investigative journalism, it’s that a reporter protects his sources. If there’s a second, it’s that editors protect their reporters. We immediately gave Alex full access to our brilliant attorney.” Pando
Word on the States
- In Nevada, a Senate and Assembly subcommittee approved funding to regulate recreational marijuana.
- In Maryland, regulators have issued the first medical marijuana license in the state.
- In Colorado, state legislators are divided on what counts as public pot use.
- In Oregon, an economic forecast predicts marijuana revenue will continue to increase.
- In Vermont, both sides are trying to influence the governor’s decision on a recreational cannabis legalization bill.
- In Michigan, a restaurant owner tried to bribe officials for an MMJ dispensary permit, according to the FBI.
- In Maine, lawmakers consider ending a cultivation cap on pot.
- In Florida, lawmakers consider calling a special session themselves for medical marijuana regulations.
- In Texas, MMJ advocates got surprising results before an ultimate letdown.
Word for Word
“I’m happy to make it very easy. [Medical marijuana is] not allowed… If the city of Miami for some infinite, god-forbidden reason thought having sex with a child was a great way to recover from some issue and so we wrote that into our city code, just because the city says that’s legal doesn’t mean it’s legal.” – Deputy city attorney Barnaby Min, Miami Herald
“Is there anything psychedelic drugs can’t do? A recent wave of scientific scrutiny has revealed that they can elicit ‘spiritual’ experiences, alleviate end-of-life angst, and perhaps treat depression — and they might achieve at least some of all this by ‘heightening consciousness,’ according to a new paper.” – Emma Young for Research Digest