A marijuana debate is likely coming to Congress. The Federal Reserve backed a cannabis-focused credit union (but only for ancillary businesses). Another study has shown a link between medical marijuana access and a reduction in opioid overdoses. Also: A Girl Scout sold more than 300 boxes of cookies outside of a marijuana dispensary in San Diego. 🌳
Members of Congress call for marijuana debate. Eleven members of the House Judiciary Committee are calling on the chairman to hold a hearing on attorney general Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole memo. The group of Democrats who signed the letter said that they feared the new policy would “subvert the will of voters who have clearly indicated a preference for legalized marijuana in their states.” Vice Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) suggested in a letter that the Senate Judiciary Committee will likely discuss marijuana legalization this year. A spokeswoman for Tillis’ office said that the senator was referring to a general “discussion” about the matter a not a “specific floor action.” Business Insider
Fed backs marijuana-focused credit union. A Federal Reserve Bank has given the go-ahead to a Colorado credit union to serve ancillary marijuana businesses. The Fourth Corner Credit Union sued the Fed three years ago after being denied a master account. The approval is conditional upon the credit union obtaining deposit insurance. But some advocates say it’s not enough as the financial institution is barred from serving plant-touching companies. The Wall Street Journal 🔒 Related: Controversy is roiling another Colorado credit union known for serving the marijuana industry. A couple who held key positions at Partner Colorado Credit Union filed a wrongful termination suit alleging that they were fired after one of them witnessed the company’s CEO use cocaine on multiple occasions. Marijuana Business Daily
Red-state Democrats turn to cannabis. It wasn’t so long ago that the issue of marijuana legalization was untouchable for those seeking office. Now, thanks to a widespread increase in support for cannabis reform, Democratic challengers in red states are hoping that marijuana will help them unseat Republican incumbents. Here’s a look at public-office hopefuls in states like Indiana and West Virginia who are hoping that their advocacy for cannabis will win over voters. “The majority of Republicans running throughout the country are out of touch with the people in their districts [on the marijuana issue],” said an Indiana Democrat who is running for Congress. Politico Magazine
California cities are leading on racial equity in cannabis. Cities across the state have announced various measures to remedy the injustices of the war on drugs. From equity programs (in cities like Oakland, Los Angeles, and Sacramento) to automatically expunging past pot convictions (recently announced in San Francisco and San Diego), “cities are making the case that legalization doesn’t have to” have a race problem. CityLab Related: Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has been holding discussions on dismissing non-violent marijuana convictions. There are roughly 40 cases in Colorado where officials “can be absolutely sure there was no violence involved in sentencing,” said the governor. The Cannabist
What has Jeff Sessions done? Doctors who were reluctant to get on board with medical marijuana have been scared away by Sessions’ marijuana enforcement memo. “I know of two who had already registered who decided not to take the risk after [Sessions’ decision],” said the head of the Maryland State Medical Society. The Washington Post But Sessions’ anti-marijuana moves could end up hastening legalization. The Conversation A look at where federal prosecutors stand on state-legal weed, one month after Sessions’ marijuana memo. The Cannabist
Yale Business of Legal Cannabis Conference. I’m excited to share the stage with such eminent folks as Ebele Ifedigbo, co-founder of the Hood Incubator, and Jesce Horton, co-founder of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, at Yale School of Management’s Business of Legal Cannabis Conference. On February 16, Yale will host the first-ever cannabis conference held at a U.S. business school. Tickets and more details here: Yale
Legal medical marijuana seems to reduce opioid overdoses. A new study adds to the growing body of scientific evidence that access to medical marijuana may reduce the harms of the opioid crisis. The federally funded research found that states with medical marijuana programs are associated with lower opioid overdose rates. “Our findings that legally protected and operating medical marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid-related harms suggests that some individuals may be substituting towards marijuana, reducing the quantity of opioids they consume or forgoing initiation of opiates altogether,” concluded the study. Marijuana Moment
Enterprising Girl Scout hits jackpot outside dispensary. The San Diego Girl Scout council said it was looking into whether a girl selling cookies outside a cannabis dispensary broke any rules. A council spokeswoman said girls are not allowed to sell cookies in a commercial area. The Associated Press But another spokesperson said that — as long as the girl did not set up a booth — she was “right within the rules.” The girl sold more than 300 boxes of cookies outside of the marijuana dispensary in six hours. The dispensary posted a photo on Instagram that read: “Get some Girl Scout Cookies with your GSC today until 4pm!” The Sacramento Bee
In other cannabis business news… There are now more people working in the cannabis industry than there are dental hygienists in the U.S. Business Insider Be wary of cannabis companies that are aggressively seeking investment. “The louder the company, the more likely it is to be an enrichment scheme rather than a real business.” New Cannabis Ventures Baker, a cannabis tech company, announced the launch of its new API. Forbes CBD is driving huge growth in the hemp industry, but some legal experts caution that it could be illegal. Pew / Stateline
Snoop Dogg showing support for teen who retweeted him. A high school basketball player was banned from the team after liking and sharing social media posts from musicians, including one of Snoop Dogg “holding what appeared to be a marijuana joint in his hand.” A lawsuit alleges that the action was a violation of her freedom of speech. The school district says that the student’s social media presence violated a policy that prohibits engaging in “drug propaganda.” Fresno Bee Snoop Dogg spoke out in support of the student. “Have her lawyers hit my team this is nonsense,” he wrote in an Instagram post. Fresno Bee
Cannabis in Canada, and beyond. “Out of nowhere, the interest for Canadian cannabis shares has completely exploded in Sweden,” said a savings advisor at a Swedish investment company. The Toronto Star British Columbia unveiled recreational pot regulations, which include stand-alone stores and a 30-gram cap on personal possession. Vancouver Sun Talk of marijuana legalization is increasing in Mexico. But it seems unlikely in the near future. NPR India’s leading ayurveda-based products maker is increasingly interested in cannabis. Quartz
Word on the States
- In Colorado, Pueblo county officials hope to award 600 scholarships thanks to cannabis tax revenue.
- In Massachusetts, the state’s top cannabis regulator said the adult-use market is on schedule for a July 1 launch.
- In Oregon, a Colorado firm opens up shop in Eugene.
- In Arizona, most medical marijuana dispensaries don’t need city council approvals.
- In Connecticut, officials warn about a recent rash of synthetic cannabinoid overdoses.
- In Virginia, the Senate unanimously approved a CBD/THC-A oil bill.
- In Indiana, the Senate approved a bill to legalize CBD.
- In Florida, a legislative committee blasted medical marijuana regulators.
- In West Virginia, the state Senate is considering changes to the medical cannabis law.
Word for Word
“[Canadian bootleggers] are portrayed as swashbuckling adventurers who dared to defy laws that banned alcohol, laws that in retrospect were not only archaic but perhaps misplaced and costly… No such indulgent descriptors — or profits — appear to await the forerunners of a Liberal era of cannabis-infused pleasures. As the banned substance begins to burgeon into a multi-billion-dollar industry, the once-petty crooks, many of them Black, with the grassroots know-how of how to run the business and who could become contributing members of society, are once again being shut out because they have criminal records.” – Shree Paradkar for The Toronto Star
“President Donald Trump’s war on opioids is beginning to look more like a war on his drug policy office. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has taken control of the opioids agenda, quietly freezing out drug policy professionals and relying instead on political staff to address a lethal crisis claiming about 175 lives a day. The main response so far has been to call for a border wall and to promise a ‘just say no’ campaign.” – Brianna Ehley and Sarah Karlin-Smith for Politico Magazine