What social equity in marijuana legalization really looks like. Why local law enforcement agencies are incentivized to help the feds crack down on cannabis. The U.S. could create 1 million jobs by legalizing weed. Also: Vermont’s governor confirms that he’s going to sign the legalization bill. 🌳
What does marijuana justice actually look like? Senator Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) marijuana legislation goes further than any other bill: Besides descheduling cannabis, it also calls for a Community Reinvestment Fund and penalizes states that have racially disproportionate marijuana enforcement. But the Harvard Law Review argues that the bill doesn’t go far enough: The legislation needs to direct states to give drug offenders priority for cannabis licenses. While the bill’s chances are slim, “what’s important is that both Booker’s bill and the Harvard Law Review are expanding the conversation around legalization such that it’s not just about dismantling the War on Drugs or correcting Sessions’ backward actions. They also dare to imagine what actual racial justice looks like.” CityLab
A federal cannabis crackdown? An ex-DEA agent who now works for a cannabis private equity firm is making the media rounds, expressing optimism about attorney general Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole memo. However, civil-asset forfeiture laws incentivize local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the feds to claim assets seized in drug raids. The Guardian “National policy has changed, but our commitment to exercising good judgment in charging decisions has not,” wrote the U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon. The Oregonian Related: Meanwhile, U.S. rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced a bill that would shield state-legal marijuana activities from federal intervention. Marijuana Moment
Senators to Treasury Department: Leave weed alone. After federal banking officials were blindsided by Sessions’ change in DOJ cannabis policy, a bipartisan duo of Colorado senators is urging FinCEN to continue its previous guidance. The FinCEN guidance is based on the Cole memo and allows financial institutions to work with the industry with added due diligence. The Denver Post
Criminal justice reform at the White House. President Trump and Jared Kushner had a meeting on criminal justice reform Thursday. The meeting was focused on prison reform and re-entry. Advocates are hopeful that the administration is on board with reforms, but Trump and Sessions have consistently pushed “law-and-order” policies. The Hill
The system really needs reforming. After being interrogated by police, a 14-year-old confessed to murdering four people in a Detroit drug house. He was sentenced to 39 to 92 years in prison. After he was sentenced, a hit man came forward and confessed to the murders, along with an accomplice. Despite overwhelming evidence that corroborated his account, the teen remained behind bars for years for crimes he did not commit. Here’s a look at prosecutors who actively work against justice. Slate
1 million jobs. That’s what could happen if the federal government legalized weed. A data analytics firm predicts that the federal government could generate $132 billion in tax revenue in a decade if marijuana were taxed and regulated in all 50 states. The sum is based on the assumption that cannabis would be taxed at 15 percent. The Washington Post
Marijuana farms are harming threatened owls. Unlicensed marijuana farms in Northern California are spreading rat poison to northern spotted owls. “We have discovered a new potentially lethal threat to this struggling species that many conservationists have spent decades trying to save from extinction,” said the lead author of the study. The deaths of bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes have also been attributed to rodenticides used in cannabis farming. The Los Angeles Times
Katja Blichfeld embarks on a new life. The co-creator of HBO’s High Maintenance on what happened after she came out and broke up with her fellow co-creator Ben Sinclair (aka The Guy). “After splitting up, they spent the next seven months working 70-hour weeks at each others’ sides, which Sinclair calls ‘exposure therapy.’ They share a manager and an assistant.” New York / The Cut
Cannabis in Canada. The Liberal government is considering a potential amnesty program for marijuana offenders ahead of federal legalization. The public safety minister said that any move to address criminal records won’t come until after legalization. CBC News Later this month, Canada’s statistics agency will invite Canadians to submit their cannabis habits through an app, seeking reliable data. It’s going to be tricky to estimate the size of an illicit market. A researcher in Parliament’s budget office got in trouble when the legislature noticed he was looking at weed websites. “He had to persuade the in-house detectives that his work was legitimate.” The Economist
Portuguese doctors back medical marijuana. The country’s Doctors’ Association called for the legalization of medical cannabis as parliament began debating a legalization bill. While Portugal has one of the most liberal drug policies in the world (all drugs are decriminalized), it has trailed other countries on legal medical marijuana.
Jack, I’m Mellow. As smoking becomes less stigmatized, TV shows featuring cannabis use are also proliferating. For whatever reason, weed-centric shows often have great theme songs, so this week we’ve thrown together some of the best. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In Vermont, the governor said he would sign the marijuana legalization bill. Cannabis entrepreneurs are bullish on the future.
- In California, the state predicts 1 million pounds of marijuana sales in the first year.
- In Colorado, marijuana money will fund addiction and mental health programs. Attorneys for Sweet Leaf employees ask for charges to be dismissed.
- In Massachusetts, police said they would not help federal authorities crack down on state-legal pot.
- In Maryland, a credit union welcomes medical marijuana businesses.
- In Arkansas, Little Rock police say they’re “community policing.” Others call it “stop-and-frisk.” Officials released names and locations of medical marijuana licensees.
- In Alabama, how sheriffs profited by pocketing money meant to feed inmates.
- In New Jersey, a lawmaker introduced legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana.
- In Iowa, a woman was sentenced to probation for medicating her daughter with marijuana. Police seize CBD oil without always lab testing it.
- In Illinois, the parents of an 11-year-old girl are suing the state for barring her from consuming medical marijuana at school. The state attorney general’s office agreed to let her take the drug at school (for now).
- In Texas, the Harris county D.A. issued a deadline to marijuana offenders to complete a program for diversion.
Word for Word
“Vermont could become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through the state legislature. Yeah, then the state full of Ben & Jerry’s and snowboarders said, ‘Oh, good, we can finally start smoking weed. Finally. Wonder what that’ll be like.’” – Jimmy Fallon, YouTube / The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon