‘Drugs and crime go together.’ Attorney general Jeff Sessions continues to argue that drugs and crime are closely linked. In a speech he gave in Memphis, Tenn. he argued that a recent “surge” in violent crime was tied to a decrease in drug prosecutions by the Obama administration. “We’re going to reverse that trend,” he said. “There’s been too much legalization talk and not enough prevention talk.” While violent crime rose about 3.3 percent last year, the overall crime rate in the U.S. remains at historic lows. Vice News Some believe that the Trump administration faces an uphill battle when it comes to rolling back criminal justice reform efforts. “Trump can tinker with federal criminal justice policy, but he won’t be able to reverse the cultural shift that has occurred across the nation,” said a Pennsylvania state senator. Meanwhile, no one is sure what kind of impact Sessions’ hardline policies will have on grassroots reform efforts. The Crime Report
DEA chief says marijuana isn’t medicine. In a speech on Thursday, acting DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg said that “marijuana is not medicine.” He said the DEA takes recommendations from the FDA. “If it turns out that there is something in smoked marijuana that helps people, that’s awesome… But let’s run it through the Food and Drug Administration process, and let’s stick to the science on it.” At the same event, former surgeon general Vivek Murthy criticized legalization efforts, saying that “what we should not do is make policies based on guesswork… I worry that we have gotten away from allowing science to drive our policy when it comes to marijuana.” Washington Examiner
IRS is trawling Colorado’s seed-to-sale tracking system. At least six cannabis businesses in the state have filed petitions to stop the IRS from accessing state records of marijuana sales. “The businesses say the IRS is essentially conducting a criminal investigation that has nothing to do with taxes, an overreach of its authority.” The tax agency’s efforts seem to be directed at ensuring that those businesses do not claim federal tax deductions. “The IRS wants a situation where on the one hand, a person will not be prosecuted for violating the CSA when selling state-legal marijuana, but, on the other hand, will have their business deductions denied… for violating the same law for which the taxpayer will not be prosecuted,” reads one of the lawsuits. “This is an Alice in Wonderland approach.” The Denver Post
Could New Jersey legalize weed when Christie is out? The governor is one of the most prominent anti-marijuana political voices. But he’s leaving office in January, giving hope to cannabis advocates in the state. “It would be a game changer in a state where police arrest more people for pot than any other crime; where a single joint can land you in jail and lead to a permanent criminal record.” The state spends $127 million a year on marijuana enforcement. It could make $300 million a year from regulating and taxing sales of the drug. Rolling Stone
Pennsylvania’s highest court on asset forfeiture. The state Supreme Court ruled to limit the power of prosecutors when it comes to civil asset forfeiture. The case involved a 72-year-old woman whose son was investigated for selling small amounts of cannabis. Her minivan and home were seized prosecutors, who argued that she had the ability to prohibit marijuana sales on the property. The ruling said, “it is not constitutional for the government to take a property if its value is grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the crime.” The Associated Press
France to decriminalize possession. The interior minister of France said that new rules would effectively decriminalize cannabis possession — the country plans to start fining those caught with the drug rather than prosecute them. He said the new rules will be in place in three to four months. One drug policy reformer in the country said the move would lift the burden on the state but would not do enough to remedy injustices associated with prohibition: “The current laws primarily target people from poor areas and immigrant communities, and this would likely continue despite the change. These are also the people who may have [financial] issues in paying the fine… This [change] is not enough; we were hoping for more efficient, economically-sound, and science-based responses under the new government.” TalkingDrugs
Maltese party proposes decriminalizing all drugs. The Green Party of Malta is proposing to decriminalize all drugs and legalize cannabis. “We are looking at the Portuguese model which is giving good results,” said the party’s leader. The party proposes to tax and regulate cannabis similar to how alcohol and tobacco are handled by regulators. Malta Today
MassRoots needs $5 million. The cannabis social-networking app is running low on capital and will need to raise $5 million in the next year to stay afloat. “We are dependent on the sale of our securities to fund our operations, and will remain so until we generate sufficient revenues to pay for our operating costs,” said the company in an SEC filing. MassRoots posted a $7.4 million loss in the first quarter of this year. Marijuana Business Daily
Grandmas enter the weed industry. Many older women who are starting their own cannabis businesses came to the industry after finding medical relief with the drug or caring for others who used it. Many have had long careers in the corporate world, and bring with them skills in “lobbying, consulting, finance, [and] operations.” The New York Times
Runner’s high vs. weed high. Natural highs (from laughing or listening to music) have more in common with chemical highs that previously thought. For example, researchers recently found that runner’s high is partially caused by a cannabinoid made in the body (similar to the cannabinoids in marijuana that cause its psychoactive effects). “Natural highs are in the same ballpark of intensity as many chemical highs, but they’re much more sensitive to conditions… It’s going to matter whether you’re hungry for social interaction or if you need some alone time,” explains one researcher. Vice / Tonic
Keep That Same Old Feeling. This week’s playlist features a range of funky artists, including British ensemble Cymande, Queen of Funk Chaka Khan, and the uncut spirit of Parliament. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In Florida, health officials issue a framework for adopting MMJ regulations.
- In Maine, lawmakers approved a marijuana regulatory bill. A growing list of towns are considering banning recreational marijuana.
- In Maryland, a judge ordered a temporary halt to marijuana licensing.
- In Illinois, an appellate court favored a man seeking MMJ for chronic postoperative pain.
- In Vermont, a look at other options for marijuana legalization.
- In California, how Riverside closed all its MMJ dispensaries (118 in 10 years). A former Sacramento private school may be converted into a commercial cannabis grow.
- In Louisiana, how politics got in the way of criminal justice reform.
Word for Word
“In the media, stoners have never held a strong reputation as fitness buffs, but leave it to the kale-juice swilling, kettlebell-swinging wellness worshipers of the West to change that. Medicated yoga classes, retreats, and athletic events like the 420 Games are popping up all over the coast, as well as in Colorado and Washington, D.C. ” – Mackenzie Wagoner for Vogue
“People have to stand up to [the marijuana] industry… It’s about getting health care voices involved. We need more partners at the table. Right now this industry is getting away with murder.” – Anti-marijuana activist and co-founder of SAM Kevin Sabet, The Chicago Tribune
“Robin and Brennan [Thicke] filed legal docs in [their father] Alan’s probate case, claiming [his widow] Tanya threatened to go to the tabloids and trash them if they didn’t give her what she wanted from Alan’s estate. But Tanya’s lawyer, Adam Streisand, tells TMZ, the sons are making up false claims to smear her, because she won’t let them convert the family ranch into a massive marijuana operation… Tanya says the boys are dishonoring their dad, who would have disapproved of them going into the pot biz on his property which sits on 11 acres near Santa Barbara.” – TMZ