The Republican state rep who spouted reefer madness straight out of the ’30s has resigned from his leadership roles in the Kansas House. Iowa taxpayers are footing the bill after the state tried to censor marijuana t-shirts. New Hampshire’s House (kind of) approved a legalization bill. Also: The harrowing tale of a small California cannabis farmer trying to do the right thing. 🌳
Kansas lawmaker quits posts over racist remarks. Republican state rep. Steve Alford resigned from his leadership posts after controversy over racist remarks he made about black people and marijuana. He had been the chairman of the House Children and Seniors Committee and the vice chairman of a task force on child welfare. He will keep his other committee assignments and did not resign from the legislature, despite calls to do so. The Associated Press Alford said that one of the reasons why marijuana was outlawed in the ’30s was because black people “were basically users and they basically responded the worst off those drugs just because (of) their character makeup, their genetics.” He initially defended himself before issuing a statement apologizing for the remarks. The Kansas City Star
Taxpayers pay for attempt to censor marijuana t-shirts. Iowa taxpayers will foot the bill after Iowa State University attempted to ban NORML ISU’s marijuana t-shirts. A tentative settlement will require the state to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the leaders of the university NORML chapter and their legal fees. The university mounted a yearslong effort to ban the t-shirts, which featured the school’s mascot and a small cannabis leaf. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ban amounted to viewpoint discrimination, and that the group was unfairly singled out because the school opposed its political message. The Associated Press
New Hampshire House passes marijuana bill (sort of). The New Hampshire house passed a marijuana legalization bill 207 to 139. The legislation would allow adults to possess up to three-quarters of an ounce of weed and would also tax and regulate commercial sales. However, instead of sending the bill to the Senate, House leadership sent the bill back to the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill could end up in the Senate or back before the House for another vote. The Cannabist
Can marijuana survive Sessions? Probably. Most U.S. attorneys presiding in states that have legalized recreational marijuana have said that they aren’t interested in cracking down on state-legal cannabis programs. Four of the 13 U.S. attorneys in those states are Trump nominees. The Washington Post Related: The governor of Nevada wants to meet with the Justice Department to discuss Sessions’ new policy. He wants to follow the path of Colorado, where the U.S. attorney said he would not crack down on the cannabis industry. Las Vegas Review-Journal Meanwhile, previous plans to allow social marijuana use have been put on hold in Las Vegas. The city planned to open cannabis lounges in the spring, but now local officials are pulling back. Las Vegas Sun
The marijuana movement charges ahead, despite Sessions. So far, eight states have legalized adult-use cannabis. Others are forging ahead despite Sessions’ new Justice Department guidance. Vermont is poised to make history, becoming the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislature. (So far, all other legalization measures have been passed by voters at the ballot box.) Rhode Island, Michigan, New Jersey, and Connecticut also have strong legalization movements. The Los Angeles Times
Legalization is already hurting small farmers in California. A mess of state and local regulations is making it hard for small cannabis farmers to survive in the era of legal weed. Rural, conservative counties that are resistant to marijuana reform are setting up regulations that disproportionately hurt small farmers. Meanwhile, craft cannabis producers like Brian Chaplin are suffering the consequences: Chaplin’s farm got robbed, and he called the police. The police then sent a narcotics task force with a search warrant, seizing everything else that the robbers didn’t take. Rolling Stone
The fight for LA Weekly. The alt-weekly’s new owners were hoping to revitalize the publication with cannabis ad revenue. But now, dispensaries and marijuana brands are reconsidering their relationship with the publication after a mass firing and a boycott. “They just laid off all but one staffer in the newsroom — and that should give anybody pause,” said the communications director of MedMen, one of their advertisers. Leafly
The race for a marijuana impairment test. Various marijuana breathalyzer startups hope to use saliva to draw conclusions about impairment. But researchers in Massachusetts are studying the brain, hoping to figure out whether brain activity can show marijuana impairment. They also want to know if that brain activity would correlate with a police officer’s assessment. “Whether or not it will be useful, practically, is anyone’s guess,” said the study’s lead researcher. Stat
Cannabis in Canada. A look at how marijuana legalization is progressing in the country. Global News The new year has already brought a number of cannabis deals. Here’s a look at notable transactions from the past week. Financial Post The federal government will fine licensed cannabis producers up to $1 million per pesticide violation. Leafly The Canadian Securities Exchange is asking cannabis companies with U.S. holdings to disclose any risks after Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memo. Marijuana Business Daily Saskatchewan will sell cannabis in private stores, regulated by the liquor and gaming authority. Global News
Word on the States
- In California, new cannabis laws threaten cannabis events at fairgrounds.
- In Massachusetts, top lawmakers are concerned about Sessions’ new policy and its impact on business. The U.S. attorney throws doubt on the future of legal pot in the state. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) criticized Sessions’ new guidance.
- In Indiana, a government agency apologized for citing businesses for selling CBD oil.
- In Oklahoma, voters will consider medical marijuana legalization in June. The amount of cash seized in asset forfeiture doubled in a year. Prosecutors say that Sessions’ memo won’t change their approach to marijuana.
- In New York, a medical marijuana business expands its product line. A hemp processing plant receives government funding.
- In Maryland, MMJ patients will have to choose between medical marijuana and guns.
- In Connecticut, how Sessions’ new memo could affect the state.
- In New Hampshire, the medical marijuana program has doubled in size since 2016.
- In Rhode Island, regulators consider medical marijuana delivery.
- In Delaware, the U.S. attorney said he would not crack down on state-legal marijuana activities.
- In Ohio, a business is challenging the MMJ program’s racial quota in court after it lost out on a license.
- In New Jersey, a ban on The New Jim Crow in prisons was lifted after the ACLU protested.
- In Michigan, a legal impasse puts Detroit’s medical marijuana ordinance on hold.
Word for Word
“I’ll be the first to admit that it was a mistake to support mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers during my tenure as Idaho Attorney General in the 1980s. Most observers have come to realize that long mandatory sentences are not appropriate for every offender. Legislatively mandated sentences tie the hands of judges who are best positioned to tailor the appropriate punishment for the crimes committed by a particular defendant. And, while they do not reduce recidivism, they do needlessly inflict damage on the families of low-risk offenders.” – Former Idaho attorney general Jim Jones for Idaho Press-Tribune
“Here are two statements that seem in conflict. ‘I don’t like marijuana.’ ‘I want marijuana legalized.’ But there’s actually no conflict because we can decide that some things are distasteful without wanting to infringe on the freedom of others to partake. And you can make that decision for moral reasons or utilitarian reasons.” – Daniel J. Mitchell for FEE