A study found that legal medical marijuana is linked to a drop in alcohol sales. The U.S. Surgeon General supports further cannabis research. No marijuana tax breaks made it into the GOP tax bill. Also: Alaska raked in $1 million in cannabis tax revenue in October. 🌳
Access to legal weed may decrease alcohol consumption. A new study found that alcohol sales fell 15 percent in states that had legalized medical marijuana. “We find that marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes,” wrote the researchers. While existing research on the topic is mixed, there is growing evidence to support this conclusion. “If these findings are correct, it’s likely that they understate the effect of full marijuana legalization on alcohol use.” The Washington Post
Surgeon General says yes to MMJ research. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams says he supports further research of medical marijuana. “I believe it should be like any other drug… We need to let the FDA vet it, study it, vet it,” he said. Adams said he does not support legalizing recreational use. He expressed worries about “an epidemic of lung cancer” caused by marijuana smoking. But the existing research — while far from conclusive — has failed to draw a link between marijuana smoking and lung cancer. News and Tribune
No cannabis tax break in GOP bill. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) wanted to introduce amendments to the GOP tax reform bill that would address the marijuana industry’s 280E tax problem. But the amendments’ $5 billion price tag had him reconsidering: “Gardner was unsure he had enough support in the chamber to approve the amendment.” Marijuana Moment Related: Meanwhile, a state and local tax deduction in the bill would result in a deficit, possibly pushing states to legalize cannabis. CNBC
A SWAT raid over tea leaves. A federal trial kicks off today surrounding the SWAT raid of a Kansas couple for purported marijuana. The couple is seeking $5 million over a 2012 raid in which officers barged into their home armed with assault rifles. The warrant for the raid was based on tea leaves in their trash that the officers say tested positive for marijuana. The trial will focus on whether the officers lied about the results of the test. The Associated Press
Los Angeles’ cannabis equity program. Those with marijuana convictions could get a leg up in L.A.’s cannabis industry, while those who have been convicted of other crimes (including non-marijuana drug convictions) could be completely shut out of the industry. The city is set to vote on much-debated regulations that attempt to address the inequities of drug enforcement while creating a regulated cannabis industry. “Lawmakers are trying to ensure that poor communities hit hardest by marijuana arrests can cash in on the impending legalization of recreational pot.” The Los Angeles Times
Army relaxing pot use restrictions. The U.S. Army is granting hundreds of waivers to enlist people who have previously consumed cannabis. Three years ago, no one was given such a waiver. This year, more than 500 recruits got them. The shift is partially in response to the liberalization of state cannabis laws, and will probably continue to rise as more states adopt marijuana reform. The Associated Press
Lawyers take risks in working with pot industry. Just like other cannabis entrepreneurs, lawyers are increasingly jumping into the realm of cannabis law. The move is not without risks: lawyers advising cannabis clients have been prosecuted at the local and federal level. But demand for their services continue to climb, creating “a fascinating opportunity to shape laws and regulations and the daunting prospect of the unknown.” The Associated Press
The racial bias in tech and law enforcement. Willie Lynch, a Florida man convicted of drug charges, was arrested thanks to new technology: facial recognition software. Now, Lynch is appealing his conviction, highlighting the pitfalls of law enforcement using such software to identify suspects. Studies show that “if you’re black, you’re more likely to be subjected to this technology and the technology is more likely to be wrong,” explained one U.S. rep. “That’s a hell of a combination.” The Guardian
Case in point: the wrongs of asset forfeiture. A law enforcement tactic that was born out of the war on drugs allows police officers to seize cash and other assets from a person without charging him with a crime. The case of Phil Parhamovich illustrates how unjust the practice can be: He had spent years clocking 12-hour work days to save up enough money to buy his dream music studio. Then, he was pulled over by police and given a $25 ticket for “improperly wearing his seat belt.” And they took all $91,800 of his savings. Vox
In international news… The German Hemp Association has collected enough signatures (50,000) for an official petition to legalize marijuana, forcing a debate in parliament. marijuana.com Ireland could enact legislation to decriminalize drugs in early 2019, according to a drug policy minister. The Irish Times Ontario, Canada is considering allowing recreational marijuana consumption in hotel rooms. Marijuana Business Daily
Word on the States
- In Alaska, the state generated $1 million in cannabis tax revenue in October.
- In California, a lawyer for a police captain denies any wrongdoing in an investigation into his involvement with a pot grow.
- In Michigan, a draft of proposed state MMJ regulations was leaked over the weekend.
- In Oregon, regulators debut a campaign to promote the state-legal cannabis industry.
- In Washington, the long-shot dispensary-owning candidate for city council won the race in a small conservative town.
- In Ohio, things to know about the state’s licenses for large grows. The backer of a failed pot legalization measure threatens legal action over the state’s MMJ licensing process.
- In Vermont, the governor says he’s comfortable legalizing cannabis early next year.
- In Maryland, there were long lines for the first day of MMJ sales, quickly depleting supply.
- In Illinois, the governor says marijuana legalization would be a “mistake.”
- In Iowa, medical marijuana companies are dissuaded by the state’s restrictive program.
- In Montana, providers and patients oppose proposed MMJ regulations.
- In Arkansas, regulators set a timeline for announcing the first MMJ cultivation licensees.
- In Maine, a pro-cannabis candidate for governor talks legalization and regulation.
Word for Word
“The most famous analogy is the prohibition of alcohol, but alcohol is different: Its illegality and legality were enshrined in constitutional amendments. Marijuana laws have no such stability. It’s only marijuana that has inspired such continuous social protest campaigns. Whenever things seem settled, you just have to wait, because they’re probably about to change.” – Author Emily Dufton, The New York Times
“If I had a patient who was suffering from severe intractable pain and had tried everything, I would sooner try marijuana on a patient than heroin. When you are prescribing opioids, you are essentially giving them heroin” – Co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University Andrew Kolodny, Forbes