Illinois’ joint-smoking congressional candidate was violent and volatile (according to former girlfriends) and misrepresented his resume. Jeff Sessions is cracking down on sanctuary immigration policies as states consider similar laws to protect marijuana. Restaurant workers are decamping for the cannabis industry, frustrating restaurant owners. Also: A New Jersey lawmaker introduces a marijuana expungement bill. 🌳
The ‘Cannabis Candidate’s’ troubled past. Illinois congressional candidate Benjamin Thomas Wolf made headlines recently when his campaign released a photo of him smoking a joint in front of a painting of the American flag. Unsavory details from his past are now emerging: Wolf has been banned from DePaul University’s campus after a former girlfriend said that Wolf was frequently physically and emotionally abusive. A professor at the school also said that Wolf sent him menacing emails, encouraging him to commit suicide. Meanwhile Wolf seems to have misrepresented his past, stating that he had served in the military in Africa and Iraq. He has never served in the military, but defended his past statements. “I’ve been an amazing person in American history,” said Wolf. Politico
What’s going on with the feds. Attorney general Jeff Sessions is cracking down on sanctuary laws on immigration with a lawsuit against California. The move comes as an increasing number of states consider similar laws to protect their marijuana programs. Forbes A matter of debate: Don’t blame Sessions for cannabis prohibition. Blame Congress, which actually has the power to change things. Cannabis Now Taylor Weyeneth was pushed out of his high-ranking post at the Office of National Drug Control Policy after questions emerged about his lack of experience. Now, he will focus on opioid policy at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Politico
De Blasio, NYPD defend marijuana enforcement. The NYPD argues that racially disparate marijuana enforcement is just the agency responding to complaints about cannabis. But the data doesn’t back that argument up. Law enforcement officials continue to make that argument while NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, who criticized the NYPD for racially disparate enforcement during his campaign, has been reluctant to criticize the police since he took office. City council speaker Corey Johnson promised legislation to combat the racial disparity. Politico Related: An overview of cannabis in the Big Apple. Leafly
So much for compassionate release. Compassionate release was adopted as a way to reduce the costs of caring for elderly inmates who post little risk to public safety. Terminally ill inmates can apply for compassionate release, which are approved or denied by prison officials. The humanitarian measure is denied the vast majority of the time by officials who override the opinions of doctors or wardens. Hundreds of applicants have died in custody after applying for compassionate release — half of whom were convicted of nonviolent drug or fraud charges. The Marshall Project
Reforming student aid for those with drug convictions. About 1,000 students a year lose federal financial aid due to a drug conviction. Despite using drugs at similar rates as their white peers, students of color are disproportionately targeted for drug enforcement. “Access to federal aid has a huge bearing on whether students are able to attend and succeed in college… the denial of federal aid poses a racial equity issue.” A senator hopes to change that with legislation to remove language asking about drug convictions in the application for financial aid: “Forcing students to drop out of college for committing a youthful mistake does nothing to reduce drug abuse or crimes on campus,” said senator Bob Casey (D-Penn.). Inside Higher Ed
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Exposing Jeff Sessions. The Strong Arm Press is crowdfunding a book to expose Jeff Sessions. While it’s not only about cannabis, weed will be a big part of the book. The Action Network
The TRiiBE. The TRiiBE is a digital media platform that seeks to reshape the narrative around Black Chicago through journalism and art. Founded by journalist Tiffany Walden and documentary filmmaker Morgan Elise Johnson, the founders launched their site to challenge the mainstream media’s narrative of their community. Indiegogo
Drug offenders on the sex offender registry. Several states have expanded their sex offender registries to include those who commit other types of crime. No state went as far as Kansas, which added smaller drug crimes to the list as well. Amy Byers, who was convicted of a methamphetamine offense 10 years ago, now lives a drug-free life in a small Kansas town. But her decade-old conviction means that “people who don’t know me are going to look at me like I’m a horrible person for being on that list,” she said. The legislature is now considering removing drug offenders from the registry. The Marshall Project
Fact-checking that IHOP photo that went viral. A viral photo claims to show an IHOP restaurant with a sign on its doors warning that the restaurant would not serve guests “with a strong marijuana odor.” The sign was actually posted by a franchised restaurant more than a year ago and was immediately removed as it was not a system-wide policy. “The brand and our franchisees are all about welcoming guests in without judgement,” said a spokesperson for IHOP. The Cannabist
Restaurant workers flock to the cannabis industry. Restaurants in Colorado are having a “near-impossible” time hiring and keeping kitchen workers thanks to the marijuana industry. “It turns out, people who are good on the kitchen prep line or in the dish room can make almost double the hourly wage trimming marijuana for sale.” While there’s no hard data on this phenomenon, restaurant owners believe legal cannabis is the main reason for their hiring troubles. “There’s no way we can pay what they’re paying,” said one Denver chef. Line cooks make an average of $12.83 an hour, while entry-level trimmers make $12-$15 an hour. Experience trimmers can earn more than $20 an hour. The Denver Post
Eaze is staffing up. Eaze, the well-heeled marijuana delivery startup, is staffing up as it looks to expand its business outside of California. The “Uber for pot” added 10 new employees to its policy team in the past month. New hires include those from Yelp and Lyft. Axios
Word on the States
- In California, advocates are pushing back against a proposal to test drivers under 21 for cannabis. The 420 Games is coming to Los Angeles.
- In New Jersey, a state lawmaker introduces a bill to expunge marijuana possession convictions.
- In Washington D.C., the Board of Elections blocked a proposed ballot initiative to tax and regulate marijuana sales.
- In Alaska, Juneau police will allow commercial cannabis to fly out of the airport.
- In Oregon, the state will dedicate $1.5 million a year to fighting black-market marijuana.
- In Maine, a legislative committee approved a bill to expand the medical marijuana program.
- In Arizona, five different cannabis campaigns are trying to make the ballot.
- In Kentucky, lawmakers shelved a medical marijuana legalization bill.
- In Michigan, a judge denied Lansing’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the MMJ ordinance. A former federal prosecutor running for state attorney general supports legalizing marijuana.
- In Alabama, a man who was arrested for marijuana possession after criticizing the sheriff was released after accepting a plea deal.
- In Georgia, a legislative committee supported a resolution to ease federal restrictions on marijuana research.
- In Idaho, lawmakers consider easing harsh drug sentencing laws.
- In Mississippi, a police chief resigned after a video surfaced of him smoking pot.
- In New Mexico, nearly 49,000 patients are registered in the state’s medical marijuana program.
- In Puerto Rico, the medical marijuana market is growing exponentially.
- In the U.S. territories, a look at what’s going on with cannabis policy.
Word for Word
“[Get Out] didn’t start as a statement, it began as me wanting to make a film in my favorite genre. I sat down, and I would smoke a little bit of weed and try and write a mind-bending horror film — my favorite genre. At some point, I just followed the truth and I realized that there are people that are locked up for smoking less weed than I was smoking when I wrote the movie. I wanted to deliver that truth.” – Film director Jordan Peele, YouTube / Film independent
“I had the biggest attitude: I stared at them, I don’t even think I said hi. But they were super nice. There were keyboards, drums, an electric guitar, and mics for everyone. I pulled out my electric guitar and we started playing. Maybe it was because we had got super high – we’d smoked a huge joint – but we just started screaming stuff and jamming. All of a sudden, we started to write songs.” – Musician Peaches, The Guardian
“It was a very bumpy path, trying to treat my OCD with psychedelics, largely because I became, well, obsessed with my quest. Sometimes I took very large doses in less-than-optimal conditions, which predictably led to some terrifying trips and, in one case, an ambulance ride to the ER. Ultimately, though, psychedelics helped my OCD a lot, but not quite in the way I had imagined.” – Comedian Adam Strauss, Ozy