A man who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for possessing two joints was granted parole. A North Carolina tobacco company makes a big bet on marijuana. Federal medical marijuana protections are extended till March in a budget deal. Also: Washington state officials say an “intruder” was able to gain access to its marijuana traceability system thanks to a “computer vulnerability.” 🌳
Noble granted parole. Bernard Noble, a Louisiana man serving a 13-year sentence for possessing two joints, was granted parole after serving more than eight years in prison. AlterNet “We’ve had people receive sentences of life without parole for marijuana,” said a New Orleans defense attorney. Noble’s case gained national attention due to the circumstances: “Noble wasn’t smoking in public. He wasn’t causing a disturbance. He was pulled over by two cops because he was riding a bicycle, legally. Noble was literally pulled over for bicycling while black.” Now that he’s been granted parole, it’s important to remember that “there are many more Bernard Nobles still in prison, and tens of thousands who’ve done their time but now deal with the lifelong repercussions of our misguided and cruel drug laws.” Leafly
Tobacco company bets on cannabis. Tobacco company Alliance One International has taken controlling stakes in two Canadian cannabis companies and one U.S. industrial hemp company. Alliance One has a market cap of $117 million and acquired a 75 percent stake in Canadian licensed producer Canada’s Island Garden and an 80 percent stake in GoldLeaf Pharm, which is seeking a license. The company acquired a 40 percent stake Criticality, which is part of North Carolina’s industrial hemp pilot program. New Cannabis Ventures Alliance One is also based in North Carolina and serves large, multinational cigarette producers. Marijuana Business Daily
Medical marijuana protections extended. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment — the only federal legislation protecting state-legal medical marijuana, has been extended until March 23 as part of a budget deal signed by president Trump today. While there’s no guarantee that the amendment will survive into the larger spending package, advocates are hopeful thanks to bipartisan support for the measure. Marijuana Business Daily
Bernie Sanders’ marijuana petition. The Vermont senator is asking supporters to sign a petition asking Congress to end the war on drugs. “The criminal justice system is not the answer to drug abuse. Addiction is a health problem and we should start treating it that way,” reads the petition. While Sanders has signed on as a co-sponsor to a cannabis banking bill, he has yet to sign onto senator Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) comprehensive marijuana legalization bill. Marijuana Moment
Dispelling Sessions claims. Many media outlets are taking attorney general Jeff Sessions to task for claiming that marijuana use leads to heroin addiction. “There’s a solid empirical case that improving access to marijuana might save lives by keeping people off opioids — the exact opposite of what Sessions has suggested.” Vox Six studies that found promising evidence for marijuana reducing the harms of opioids. Reason Endocannabinoids are “our [bodies’] own opiates,” explained a medical professor at UCSF. “That makes it sort of obvious that other cannabinoids — those that come from plants — could also have some benefit for pain.” Live Science
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
That time activists legalized weed in Michigan. John Sinclair, a Michigan cannabis activist, was arrested for possession in 1967. The following legal fight “briefly overturned Michigan’s marijuana laws.” Sinclair and his wife Leni launched a legalization initiative in 1972, which failed. But now, it looks like Michigan voters could legalize cannabis at the ballot box in November. While the Sinclairs have since divorced, they are still involved in legalization efforts and critical of the way they are playing out. “They are subverting the whole marijuana culture that we created, which was based on sharing, noninterference with others, high-mindedness, and spirituality,” said John. Leni says medical marijuana legalization “‘destroyed the whole distribution system’ that consisted mostly of friends getting together to share weed and hang out.” Lansing State Journal
Army vet fights for medical marijuana. Army gunner Matt Kahl was injured in Afghanistan and put on a cocktail of pills when he returned home. But once a friend offered him a puff of weed, “the pain definitely went away. Even more so than the pain, it was the intrusive thoughts… and hypervigilance,” he said. Now, Kahl is organizing activists to push against Sessions’ marijuana guidance. Meanwhile, researchers studying medical marijuana for PTSD continue to run up against federal barriers. US News
Why it’s so difficult to research cannabis. While the DEA says it’s helping researchers study Schedule I drugs “by improving and expediting the process,” cannabis advocates say the agency’s efforts fall short “of fixing actual problems with cannabis research.” Meanwhile, researchers who manage to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops end up getting low quality research cannabis that they can’t even use. “The DEA has tried to shift the blame to Sessions, but the DEA is the agency that sets the quota for how much marijuana is grown in this country and signs off on licensing for researchers,” said Paul Armentano of NORML. “Now the DEA wants to say they’re open to research? That sounds disingenuous as hell to me.” Rolling Stone
In international news… South Korean lawmaker Shin Chang-hyun has introduced a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the country. The issue is a “sensitive” one in the socially conservative country. Marijuana Business Daily A medical cannabis advocate in Australia organized an alliance to push for patient access. A diverse coalition including professors, doctors, lawyers, and black-market producers met to develop a plan to push politicians and discuss challenges facing patients. “She’s an upset mum. Upset mums get shit done.” BuzzFeed News Canadian securities regulators decided not to take any action against publicly traded cannabis companies that have U.S. assets. The Canadian Securities Administrators released new guidance increasing disclosure requirements — effectively saying “it’s business as usual,” said one cannabis lawyer. Financial Post
Shroom legalization inching towards ballot. A campaign to put psilocybin legalization on the Denver ballot is inching closer to making it in front of voters. The campaign is deciding between a recreational and caregiver framework. Devin Alvarez, one of the sponsors, credits the drug for helping him out of a drinking problem “that led to driving drunk, wrecking a car and getting a DUI.” Rooster
Word on the States
- In Washington, an “intruder” exploited a “computer vulnerability,” gaining access to the state’s marijuana traceability system. Software problems cost cannabis producers tens of thousands of dollars.
- In Massachusetts, regulators are seeking “safe and sensible” regulations. The governor weighs in on cannabis regulations. Advocates and regulators are pushing back against the governor and Boston mayor’s calls for delaying the rollout of recreational pot.
- In California, Coachella is trying to shut down a marijuana church. Local agencies warn employees against using recreational marijuana.
- In Ohio, a look at the state’s medical marijuana program.
- In Nebraska, advocates testified in favor of a measure to put medical marijuana on the ballot.
- In Illinois, a look at where local lawmakers stand on legalization.
- In Missouri, Columbia’s city council unanimously approved a resolution to support statewide medical marijuana legalization.
- In Colorado, the government and marijuana industry join forces on a campaign against drugged driving. The feds caught a record number of packages containing marijuana in the mail last year.
- In Vermont, a landowner sued a hemp processor over a dispute over a hemp harvest.
Word for Word
“Many social media platforms have taken a federal stance. Things alcohol companies are allowed to do, cannabis companies are not allowed to do—even targeting. The tide has turned when you have 80 percent of Americans in favor of some form of legalization.” – Social Media Unicorn founder Krista Whitley, Adweek
“it would come as a considerable shock to discover that during his college days, before he embarked on a career as a prosecutor and politician, Sessions was purportedly an out-and-out pothead, extolling the virtues of weed in a student rock band. That’s the claim made in a satirical video posted to Facebook and YouTube in January 2018, by the Los Angeles comedy group Mommy, who run the Very Serious Content Facebook page. We received several enquiries from readers who weren’t quite sure whether the video documented a remarkable U-turn in Sessions’s worldview, or it was just a joke. It’s just a joke. ” – Snopes
“Making popular things illegal rarely diminishes their use. People still buy the banned items, but now they buy them from criminals. Violence increases. Sellers, instead of resolving disputes in courts, settle them with violence. The illegal activity doesn’t go away. It just becomes more dangerous. What we saw during alcohol prohibition, we now see in the drug market. No American is safer because Ross Ulbricht is in jail for life… He is just one more casualty of our futile war against drugs.” – John Stossel for Fox News