Criminal justice reformers look to Kushner’s influence in the White House, Colorado is not such a fan of DARE, and a settlement is reached between Gorilla Glue (the adhesives company) and GG Strains (the cannabis company). Also: how a Japanese man concocted his own ayahuasca recipe by “smoking all the random grass seeds [he] found on the street.”
Senators revive criminal justice reform. A bi-partisan group of senators reintroduced a criminal justice reform effort that had been quashed by then-senator Jeff Sessions last year. The legislation would ease sentences on non-violent drug offenders, getting rid of the mandatory life sentence for some repeat drug offenses. At the same time, it would increase penalties for serious violent and drug felony crimes. Politico Given Sessions’ opposition to such legislation during his time as senator, advocates for criminal justice reforms are hoping that Trump adviser Jared Kushner will serve as a counterweight to the attorney general. “Counting on Kushner to keep the administration from interfering with criminal-justice reform sounds a bit perilous.” At the same time, reformers are aware that Sessions “is perpetually in the doghouse with his boss, thanks to his self-recusal over the Russia investigation.” New York Related: After Siskiyou County, Calif. declared a “state of emergency” over illicit cannabis grows, its sheriff is seeking an ally at the DOJ. He sent the attorney general a letter asking for aid, but hasn’t received a reply yet. Record Searchlight
DARE vs. Colorado. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education and similar programs are back in Colorado schools. The new generation of DARE doesn’t include the “Just Say No” messaging of its early days, which did not achieve its goals of drug prevention among young people. Sessions has talked up the program, but critics say it’s behind the times — especially in a state that has legalized marijuana for adult use. “The DARE brand is toxic,” said Andrew Freedman, the state’s former pot czar. The Denver Post The state is using pot tax revenue to fund drug education programs, including its newest project called One Degree: Shift the Influence. It includes a Sims-style game to create life-like scenarios concerning drug abuse. Westword
On retaliation. A former police chief in Santa Ana, Calif. is suing the county, claiming he was forced out after blowing the whistle on possible corruption. Carlos Rojas alleges that the mayor was receiving bribes from medical marijuana dispensaries and allowed them to continue to operate illegally. Rojas is now the police chief for BART in San Francisco. Orange County Register Two employees at the Nebraska Crime Commission have filed a lawsuit against three counties and law enforcement leaders. The commission withdrew a grant to fund the drug task force, and plaintiffs allege they were unlawfully harassed as a result. The suit details improper use of the state’s criminal justice database, and complaints to the attorney general over private Facebook posts about medical marijuana. Scottsbluff Star Herald
The ongoing saga of Massachusetts’ drug lab scandals. Two drug lab scandals have plagued the state in recent years, with prosecutors failing to notify most defendants of the problem. Their sluggishness in seeking justice caused some defendants to wrongly spend years in prison. A judge recently found that two prosecutors committed “intentional, repeated, prolonged and deceptive withholding of evidence from the defendants… [and] their misconduct evinces a depth of deceptiveness that constitutes a fraud upon the court.” Those two prosecutors have moved onto higher-paying jobs in the state government. “But still no steps have been taken to fully identify the thousands of cases handled by Sonja Farak, a chemist who admitted that she was high nearly every day while analyzing drug samples submitted by police.” The Washington Post
Settlement reached in cannabis trademark case. Gorilla Glue Co., a company that makes adhesives, sued the Las Vegas-based GG Strains LLC for trademark infringement. The two parties have reached a settlement, with GG Strains agreeing to transition away from using “Gorilla Glue” in its strain names. It also agreed to stop using gorilla imagery in its marketing materials. “GG Strains officials are in the throes of rebranding efforts and plan to contact partners, licensees and other industry members informing them of the settlement.” The Cannabist
SCOTUS justice was ‘maybe’ at a party with weed. During oral arguments in a case concerning unlawful arrests, Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan said, “I used to be invited to [parties] where [I] don’t know the host… And can I say that long, long ago, marijuana was maybe present at those parties?” Attendees of a party sued police over the arrests, claiming that they couldn’t have known that the property owner didn’t approve of the gathering. They have won in district court and a court of appeals. Marijuana Moment
Cannabis in Canada. The federal government is encountering pushback for its marijuana legalization timeline. While polls show that most Canadians support the policy, a recent survey found that 57 percent of them lack confidence that federal and provincial governments will be ready for legal sales by the July 2018 deadline. The Washington Post While provincial leaders weren’t happy with prime minister Justin Trudeau’s cannabis tax proposal, Big Weed is on board. Shares of the country’s publicly traded cannabis producers rose on the news: “We believe licensed producers will be able to prosper under the proposed tax regime,” wrote one securities analyst. Vice News
Tasmanian doctors hesitant about cannabis. In the U.S., state medical marijuana programs have struggled to get doctors on board. The same scenario is playing out in Tasmania, which started its Medicinal Cannabis Controlled Access Scheme in September. The Health Department has received only three applications from medical professionals to take part in the program. Meanwhile, patients in need cannot find willing doctors to prescribe the drug. “Even after the first of September when it became legal for him to prescribe, he still has refused because he is still saying there is not enough research for him,” one multiple sclerosis patient said of her doctor. She’s currently using black-market cannabis to treat her symptoms. ABC News
A counselor in Japan developed his own ayahuasca recipe. Like others in the region, the East Asian country has fairly draconian drug laws. But one man with an agriculture biotechnology degree has been moonlighting as a pseudo-shaman, hoping to help people with depression. Aoi Glass concocted his own ayahuasca recipe by “by smoking all the random grass seeds I found on the street… and writing down the effects.” One of his customers, who has previously tried authentic ayahuasca in Argentina, said the experience was “exactly the same.” Vice
Word on the States
- In California, state regulators will host three public workshops on marijuana licensing. The state appointed members of the Cannabis Advisory Committee after receiving hundreds of applications. Grow houses in the state account for 75 percent of indoor plants seized. Authorities arrest 18 in pot raids, including the leader of a Rastafarian church.
- In Massachusetts, Holyoke city councilors debate weather marijuana industry campaign contributions should be subject to more disclosure requirements.
- In Kentucky, the state is leading the way in addiction care for pregnant women. A state senator proposes legalizing recreational marijuana.
- In Michigan, police shut down eight medical marijuana dispensaries in Grand Traverse County. Lansing MMJ license applications will be available Friday.
- In Illinois, a Cook County commissioner called on the general assembly to legalize marijuana.
- In Pennsylvania, a medical cannabis grower who lost out on a state license dropped its lawsuit against the state’s health department.
- In Delaware, a marijuana task force considers the potential problems of marijuana legalization. The sponsor of a legalization bill made concessions to groups opposing the proposal.
- In Colorado, authorities seized $3.9 million in illicit cannabis.
- In New York, money woes hamper the state’s nascent medical marijuana program.
Word for Word
“You can go to a cannabis investment conference and no one is talking about the fact that just down the road there are people who are incarcerated for smoking or dealing or growing this very same product. To entirely leave that out of an investment conversation is fundamentally wrong.” – Ryan Ansin, Forbes
“I spent my 20’s enrolled in various treatment programs, determined to beat the odds and overcome my addiction. I was told I had a 1 percent chance. Many people suggested cannabis as a valuable tool in dealing with the withdrawal symptoms of an opiate detox, however it wasn’t until my late twenties that I gave the plant a serious try. Towards the tail end of my methadone detox I decided to do something extremely taboo and I began using cannabis daily. Twelve years ago I was able to ween off the opiates entirely.” – Aimee Altman for Anchorage Press
“Perhaps the riskiest move was hiring another first-time actress, Bria Vinaite, a heavily tattooed, free-spirited Brooklynite, to play Moonee’s mother, Halley. Mr. Baker said he had considered A-list names but was struck by the dance videos and paeans to marijuana Ms. Vinaite had posted on Instagram.” – Cara Buckley for The New York Times