Vermont makes history as the Senate passes a recreational legalization bill. “No breakthrough” on pot policy after Colorado Republican meets with Sessions. Cannabis dispensaries in California are struggling to keep up with adult-use demand. Also: How a TV host pushed Nixon to ramp up his War on Drugs by arguing that people smoke marijuana “to get high” while people drink alcohol “to be sociable.” 🌳
Vermont Senate passes marijuana bill. The state Senate gave final approval to a bill that would legalize adult-use marijuana in the state. Governor Phil Scott has indicated that he would sign the bill, which allows home cultivation but not commercial sales. The state is poised to become the first in the nation to legalize recreational cannabis through the legislature (as opposed to a ballot initiative). The Associated Press “Vermont in particular doesn’t care very much what the attorney general thinks,” said a cannabis advocate. Reuters
Sessions’ move backfiring. After attorney general Jeff Sessions decision to rescind the Cole memo, lawmakers are lining up behind several cannabis-related bills. A slew of Democratic members of Congress co-sponsored four bills that seek to reform federal drug laws. The Cannabist A bipartisan group of Colorado members of Congress wrote a letter to Sessions, asking him to reinstate the Cole memo. The Cananbist Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) met with Sessions today to discuss the DOJ’s marijuana enforcement policy. Neither is backing down, and Gardner says he will continue to hold up DOJ nominations over the issue. “Gardner described a conversation with the attorney general in which he emphasized two themes — states’ rights and sticking by one’s word — while Sessions played down the significance of the policy shift.” NPR
Mexican drug traffickers in California. Police in Calaveras county believe most black-market marijuana grows they bust are affiliated with Mexican cartels. Anti-pot residents want to ban cannabis cultivation, while cannabis farmers argue that a regulated market could help combat cartels and generate tax revenues for police to fight the illicit trade. Newsweek Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole memo could benefit such drug traffickers who are willing to accept higher risk and have long dominated the illicit market. Business Insider Related: It appears that Trump wants to cut CBP drug enforcement to build a border wall and increase deportations. Mic
Moving away from bail. New York City’s largest district attorney offices are moving away from cash bail as the legislature takes up the issue. On Monday, the Manhattan D.A. directed his assistants not to request bail for minor offenses like marijuana possession. The New York Times Alaska’s cash bail reform law took effect this month. Now, “secured bail bonds can only be set for those charged with violent offenses and with high [risk] scores.” Injustice Today
Cannabis in California. Recreational cannabis sellers in the state are struggling to keep up with demand. The CEO of one dispensary said her biggest concern was employee burnout as her shop struggled to keep up with the number of customers. Marijuana Business Daily Meanwhile, even licensed cannabis businesses are still getting trouble from law enforcement. State police pulled over a truck carrying plant material, seized the cannabis, and cited the driver and passenger with misdemeanors. “They were charged with transportation and possession, which is exactly what our license is for,” said the company’s co-founder. Leafly Related: Communities need not worry about weed shops, according to a study. Researchers analyzed crime rates in South Los Angeles and failed to find a correlation between marijuana dispensaries and violent crime. Marketwatch
In other cannabis business news… Origo, the parent company of High Times, has filed to change its name to High Times Media. The two companies have yet to close the merger as Nasdaq continues to try to delist the company. Meanwhile, High Times Group is generating operating losses and facing a $6 million lawsuit from a former employee. Green Market Report A leaked email from Kayvan Khalatbari to the NCIA’s board sheds some light on the turmoil at the organization. “Whether it be Women Grow, the conversations about minority inclusion, Neal/Glenn, the sexual misconduct allegations, irresponsible spending, etc… I’ve not seen the leader I wanted to in how those conversations were handled,” he wrote of the organization’s executive director. Cannabis Business Executive Jesce Horton is stepping down from the Minority Cannabis Business Association. He had been the executive director and board chair. Marijuana Business Daily
Cannabis in Canada. Prime minister Justin Trudeau defended his government’s decision to legalize pot after a health-care worker pushed him on the issue during a town hall meeting. “I agree that marijuana is problematic for the developing brain, that we need to keep it out of the hands of our young people. However it’s not working. Right now the current system we have means… there’s already marijuana in our high schools.” CBC News Health Canada has doubled the number of production licenses it granted last year. “On paper, at least, the Canadian marijuana industry has plenty of paid-for production capacity to meet demand by mid-2019.” Marijuana Business Daily
In other international news… The president of Paraguay signed a medical marijuana bill, which sets up regulated production of medical cannabis products (but not home-grow.) PanAm Post Journalists checked out Queensland, Australia’s first licensed cannabis farm, only after signing NDAs. ABC News
A bizarre partnership on the war on drugs. Richard Nixon and TV host Art Linkletter bonded over their mutual distaste for drugs. When Linkletter expressed displeasure at a Nixon official who advocated for minimal penalties for marijuana, Nixon promptly got on the phone to immediately fire the guy. Meanwhile, Linkletter was making his case that marijuana was more dangerous than alcohol. Linkletter argued that people smoke marijuana “to get high” but people drink alcohol “to be sociable.” “A person does not drink to get drunk,” Nixon agreed. “A person drinks to have fun.” Politico Magazine
Word on the States
- In California, a state lawmaker proposed legislation that would automatically expunge marijuana offenses. Marijuana taxes and a surplus is expected to boost the state budget. Music festival Coachella will continue to ban marijuana despite state legalization.
- In Nevada, lawmakers urge Congress to change federal pot laws.
- In Maine, pro- and anti-marijuana groups came together to craft a regulatory proposal for adult-use cannabis. Lawmakers consider extending the ban on pot sales. The state’s top federal prosecutor says he would focus on “hard drugs,” not marijuana.
- In Massachusetts, dispensaries were forced to stop taking debit payments after threats of a federal crackdown.
- In Rhode Island, dispensaries were similarly shut off from debit-card processing.
- In Alaska, lawmakers want to rewrite a resolution to separate state and federal cannabis rules.
- In Florida, a county circuit judge sided with a black farmer in a medical marijuana dispute.
- In New Jersey, a prominent state senator is concerned about stoned driving.
- In Virginia, Norfolk’s city council calls for marijuana decriminalization.
- In Ohio, a federal prosecutor says Sessions’ new memo won’t change his approach to cannabis cases.
- In Alabama, a survey found that Sessions’ home state supports cannabis.
- In Kentucky, agriculture officials approved more than 12,000 acres of land for hemp production this year.
- In Arizona, a Colorado edibles brand is expanding to the state.
Word for Word
“I lived in the District of Columbia, which had legalized medical cannabis in 1998. I wanted to try it, to help manage the side effects of chemo… But I quickly learned that legal medical cannabis was not an option after all, because the Republican Congress had passed something called the Barr Amendment, blocking implementation of a legalization initiative passed by 69 percent of voters. I laughed out loud at the bitter irony. I had been a senior Republican congressional staffer during the Republican revolution of 1994, the year Bob Barr was elected to the House. Back then, conservative Republicans were all about federalism and constitutional limits on federal government power.” – President of Free the People Matt Kibbe for National Review
“Part of me felt like the mushrooms wouldn’t do anything. I hadn’t had psilocybin in around two months, so had forgotten the strangeness and potency of its effects and reverted somewhat to my view of psychedelics prior to eating mushrooms three years earlier—that they probably weren’t as intense as people claimed. People seemed to use the same words to describe food and naps and images and normal reality—amazing, profound, mind-blowing, unbelievable—as psychedelic experiences not, I’d realized over time, because they were lying, and not necessarily because they were being characteristically hyperbolic, but because the phenomenology of psychedelics was difficult ‘to English,’ as [Terence] McKenna said…” – Author Tao Lin in an excerpt of his new book Trip, Entertainment Weekly