NorCal fires threaten cannabis crops, three law enforcement officers were indicted for a school drug-sweep, and the DEA seized more than half a million dollars from passengers at one airport in Arizona. (Besides a small amount of marijuana, they didn’t find any drugs.) Also: The director general for the Philippines’ national police said he tried weed during college and it made him want to “sing folk songs due to its good vibes.” 🌳
Fires in NorCal. About 150 people have been reported missing and 11 have died in wild fires in California’s wine country. San Francisco Chronicle The fires are threatening the region’s first legal cannabis crop. Many farmers in the area are lamenting that their crops could suffer after smoke exposure. Besides affecting the flavor and odor of cannabis, smoke and ash can also make plants “more vulnerable to disease, which can result in high levels of molds, mildews, and fungus, creating potential health risks such as lung infections.” East Bay Express
‘A blank check to go after medical marijuana.’ The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is a single paragraph of federal law that protects state-legal medical marijuana businesses from federal enforcement. With the law in place, attorney general Jeff Sessions would have a hard time going after compliant MMJ businesses. But the amendment is on shaky ground as Sessions has been urging Congressional leadership to do away with it. Medical marijuana businesses and patients alike are wondering if and when the raids will come. The uncertain fate of the measure, which is sponsored by U.S. rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), has caused tensions within the Republican party — many GOPers support states rights on the issue. The Los Angeles Times
Officers indicted for school drug sweep. A grand jury indicted a county sheriff and two of his deputies after he ordered a drug sweep at the Worth County High School in Georgia. All 900 students were searched, and no drugs were found. A federal class-action alleges that students were inappropriately groped by officers. The sheriff did not have a warrant, and school officials say they never gave permission for the search. The Washington Post
Dubious DEA. DEA agents seized $555,000 in cash at the Tucson International Airport during the past three years. The seizures were ostensibly targeting money couriers of drug traffickers. The agents didn’t arrest anyone, and never found any drugs except small amounts of marijuana in two of the 30 cases. There’s also an unexplained discrepancy between local court records and DEA records regarding asset forfeiture in the county. Arizona Daily Star Two retired DEA agents who were instrumental in taking down Pablo Escobar said that they’ve “re-examined” the war on drugs: “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem. We cannot put enough people in jail to stop narcotics trafficking.” The Lantern DEA data indicates that marijuana seizures increased 20 percent last year. Leafly
More and more women are getting put behind bars. In a collaboration between The Marshall Project and Teen Vogue, senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and journalist Alysia Santo talk with formerly incarcerated women and a student whose parents have been in prison since she was a toddler. Booker mentions how the growth in female inmates was fueled by the war on drugs — more women are non-violent offenders than men. Their conversation shows how the negative effects of incarceration ripple far beyond the individual inmate. YouTube / Teen Vogue
On CBD. National grocery store Lucky’s Market is selling nearly a dozen brands of CBD. The retailer is taking the risk on a product that the DEA considers illegal thanks to consumer demand and a desire to pursue “positive disruption.” Unlike Target, another retailer who pulled CBD products off of its shelves after media attention, Lucky’s is making no secret of what it considers to be “the next big thing in terms of natural medicine.” The Cannabist A Vermont company issued a voluntary recall of its CBD-infused broth after its owner said she was unaware that she violated USDA regulations. Seven Days As GW Pharmaceuticals moves forward in the FDA-approval process, some in the hemp industry fear that CBD will be commandeered by pharmaceutical companies. The Cannabist
Want a degree in cannabis cultivation? It’s harder than it looks. Northern Michigan University is offering a medicinal plant chemistry degree in hopes of arming graduates with the skills needed to work in the medical marijuana industry. One sophomore in the program says he’s gotten into the habit of showing skeptics screenshots of the classes he has to take: “When they hear what my major is, there are a lot of people who say, ‘Wow, cool dude. You’re going to get a degree growing marijuana.’ But it’s not an easy degree at all.” The program includes classes in organic chemistry, biochemistry, soils, biology, gas and liquid chromatography, biostatistics, genetics, accounting, financial management, and more. (And no, students don’t grow actual marijuana plants in the program.) USA Today
MMJ patients reduce opioid use. The first study on medical marijuana patients in Illinois found that cannabis has helped them reduce or eliminate their use of prescription pills. The study was small — only 30 participants — and researchers acknowledged that the results could be biased. Anti-pot activist Kevin Sabet described the study as “one of the worst I’ve seen in a while.” The study’s lead author said Sabet has his own bias against the drug: “There’s power in people telling their stories in a way you can’t get in a survey… It’s important to do qualitative research to understand how people are using cannabis, then figure out how to measure it.” Chicago Tribune
Weed biz. I wrote about how the cannabis industry’s Mailchimp woes underscore the marketing challenges of marijuana-related businesses. Forbes MJ Freeway is still angling for state contracts for its seed-to-sale tracking software. But the company’s Spanish operation recently suffered “a total failure” that resulted in the loss of all customer data. Boston Globe / This Week in Weed
Duterte committed to war on drugs. Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte remains committed to his drug crackdown amid double-digit declines in his approval ratings. The Philippine Daily Inquirer The police chief of the island Cebu is defying Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. Unlike the president’s violent rhetoric, “[Byron Allatog] told his men that they would be doing things differently. If they shot needlessly or for money, he would not protect them.” His instructions to officers are simple: “Don’t kill.” Meanwhile, the city is taking more of a public-health approach to the drug problem, giving users a chance to join a community-based rehab program. The Washington Post The director general of the national police admitted to using marijuana while in college. “The effect to me when I tried marijuana was having a feeling of (being) high, having red eyes and wanting to listen and sing folk songs due to its good vibes,” he said. Sun Star
In other international news… The Scottish National Party said that drugs should be treated as a public health issue rather than a criminal one. Evening Times A look at marijuana legalization efforts in Africa. CNN The B.C. government in Canada has received more than 20,000 responses to its call for public comment on marijuana regulation. CBC News The new Dutch cabinet is starting to experiment with legal marijuana production to supply its coffeeshops. Dutch News
Word on the States
- In California, the governor vetoed three bills that would restrict marijuana production and use. A growing number of workers who test positive for marijuana are forcing employers to re-think their drug-testing policies. Cannabis companies struggle to go legit in Los Angeles.
- In Massachusetts, farmers hope to keep marijuana business local.
- In Colorado, a vocal pot opponent speaks out against marijuana legalization. Still no applications for marijuana social-use permits.
- In Oregon, the state paid out $85 million in pot taxes.
- In Nevada, a look at the blistering pace of first-month, adult-use sales.
- In Louisiana, the state’s medical marijuana program is slow to start due to tight regulations.
- In Georgia, dispelling misconceptions about Atlanta’s marijuana measure.
- In Connecticut, efforts to legalize weed amid budget problems encountered significant pushback.
- In Indiana, a crackdown on CBD products continued despite a moratorium on enforcement.
- In New York, medical marijuana sales are up but remain relatively slow.
- In Delaware, the state is expanding its medical marijuana program.
- In Arkansas, the attorney general rejected a proposal to legalize marijuana.
- In Minnesota, state health officials discuss adding new conditions to the medical marijuana program.
- In Michigan, the state scheduled meetings to educate entrepreneurs on the MMJ licensing process.
- In North Dakota, county officials are examining potential issues with medical marijuana legalization.
- In Idaho, a look at efforts to liberalize cannabis laws in the state.
- In Pennsylvania, the mayor of Reading said marijuana is “destroying America” and walked out of a city council meeting over a cannabis resolution.
- In Guam, the attorney general said random drug testing of government employees violates the Fourth Amendment.
- In the Northern Marianas, the territory is considering a marijuana legalization bill.
Word for Word
“The front page of their next edition would mark the death of Arnulfo Garcia, who had been their editor in chief — and so much more. Garcia had come to San Quentin State Prison as a heroin addict and burglar. He had transformed himself over more than 16 years into a beloved leader and living, breathing symbol of hope and redemption. At the prison, they called him jefe because he ran the San Quentin News… they had faith in his goals, no matter how grandiose — to reform the criminal justice system, to end gang violence, to turn a fledgling newspaper into an award-winning publication.” – Esmeralda Bermudez for The Los Angeles Times
“What started in the middle of that night in 2010 catalyzed one of the most controversial high-court cases in South African history: The Trial of the Plant. The Dagga Couple, as they are both affectionately and derisively known (dagga is a colloquial South African term for cannabis), sued seven national government agencies for infringing on their constitutional right to responsibly grow and consume a plant they say has been used for eons for various purposes throughout the world. If they win their case — the trial finally started this past July but has been bogged down by a series of delays — they hope it will be the first thread in a global unraveling of prohibition laws.” – Tafline Laylin for Ozy
“This [editorial] page has supported California’s strict restrictions on smoking tobacco in public places so that adults who choose to endanger their own health don’t inflict harm on others in the process. We’ve also supported the right of landlords to ban tobacco smoking in their buildings to protect people from secondhand smoke. But tobacco smokers always have the option of going outside to smoke. It’s neither rational nor fair for the state to legalize marijuana and then make it nearly impossible for people to use it without running afoul of the law. Getting caught smoking pot in public can result in fines of up to $250.” – Editorial Board, The Los Angeles Times