How Jeff Sessions is changing the Department of Justice. Women are convicted of non-violent drug offenses more than anything else. Veterans groups join the fight for weed. Marijuana regulators in California threaten criminal action against Weedmaps for listing unlicensed cannabis retailers. Also: Denver’s 4/20 celebrations get a new organizer. 🌳
Jeff Sessions’ grand plan. A draft of the Justice Department’s five-year plan shows how the attorney general wants to reshape the DOJ. The strategy outlines a shift away from civil rights and criminal justice reform towards a law-and-order approach. The plan, which has yet to be signed by Sessions, calls for increased immigration enforcement, partnering with other law enforcement agencies on drug enforcement, and “[engaging] with the community” to combat the opioid crisis. Notably absent from the plan are civil rights enforcement and criminal justice reform. Under Obama, the Justice Department highlighted the problems with mass incarceration and avoiding “harsh mandatory minimum sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.” HuffPost
Women and the war on drugs. The rate of incarceration of women has skyrocketed in recent years, in large part due to drug enforcement. The war on drugs “has a disparate impact on women, who are convicted for non-violent, drug related crimes more than any other offense.” While legislation like The Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act is great (it would require incarcerated women to get shackle-free childbirth and free pads and tampons), such measures fail to address the larger issues contributing to the rise in incarcerated women in the first place. NBC News / Think
More veterans groups join the cannabis fight. Leaders at two prominent veterans organizations — Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars — are joining the marijuana debate on Capitol Hill by advocating for veterans’ access. Officials from both groups called on Congress to force the VA to provide access to medical marijuana and also to study the drug. “Current VA medical cannabis policy should be updated to allow for VA clinicians to provide recommendations and opinions to patients regarding medical cannabis programs,” reads written testimony from the IAVA. Marijuana Moment
Senators seek banking protections. A bipartisan group of 10 senators filed an amendment to a larger bill that would remove some Dodd-Frank restrictions on the financial industry. The amendment would prevent the federal government from going after banks that work with the cannabis industry. “It is currently unknown if the measure will receive a floor vote as part of the consideration of the broader banking reform bill.” Forbes
Investigating a cannabis scientist. Students and faculty at the Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil are protesting an investigation into the country’s most prominent marijuana researcher. Police questioned Elisaldo Carlini “on suspicion of inciting drug crime.” He hasn’t been charged with anything yet. Carlini, a retired psychopharmacology professor, is a pioneering medical marijuana researcher who was been studying the drug since the ’50s. “In more than 60 years of an academic career, I had never been questioned by law agents — until last month,” said Carlini. “It’s a Kafkian situation. I wonder what they think an old man can do with marijuana.” Nature
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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
Marijuana regulators crack down on Weedmaps. California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has tried to crack down on unlicensed retail marijuana businesses by sending warning letters to publishers that promote unlicensed retailers. Weedmaps, the target of some of the warnings, has so far refused to take down listings for unlicensed businesses. The state’s top cannabis regulator is now threatening criminal and civil action against Weedmaps if it fails to comply. The Sacramento Bee
The NCIA tries to unify trade associations. The National Cannabis Industry Association wants to unite the dozens of marijuana trade groups that operate at the state level. There are signs that different factions are emerging with different groups advocating for different priorities. “The door may be open for potential competition between the organizations when it comes to swaying members of Congress as the industry broadens and differing businesses start to lean on public officials to further their agendas.” Marijuana Business Daily
The New Yorker goes to an infused dinner. The magazine sent its food critic to an underground infused dinner, which left her with a bad case of the munchies. “As we got into a taxi, my husband convinced me gently that, no, it wouldn’t make sense to go have another dinner.” While the dispatch is a great summary of the experience (and thankfully lacking in any Maureen Dowd moments), we must point out that contrary to her report, hemp-derived CBD is not “basically legal everywhere.” The New Yorker
A look at medical marijuana in Germany, one year in. Demand for medical cannabis has shot up ever since health insurance companies started covering the drug. Health insurers say they’ve received nearly 16,000 applications for reimbursement and rejected about one-third of them. Drug manufacturers and doctors have also been feeling the effects of the boom in medical marijuana, many of whom are still reluctant to prescribe it due to a lack of research. While most of the country’s supply comes from Canada and The Netherlands, the German government received more than 100 applications to cultivate medical cannabis within its borders. The Local
Cannabis Wire joins journalism startup Civil. The New York-based cannabis media startup is joining Civil, which has been described as a “blockchain-based journalism marketplace.” The site was previously funded by a “Made in NY” media grant from New York City. Cannabis Wire will “cover the robust debates about how” cannabis should be legalized. TheWrap
A Place I’d Like to Be. Like post-rock without the theatrics, like emo without the energy, slowcore is a genre built perfectly for lighting up and going out to. Sure, the music has a tendency towards melancholy. But if you’re going to smoke up and space out, you might as well feel something, too. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In California, Oakland considers legislation to prevent cannabis companies from displacing existing tenants. A look at how the state may be setting growers up to fail.
- In Massachusetts, cannabis businesses push back on energy requirements.
- In Colorado, new organizers will put on Denver’s 4/20 event at Civic Center Park.
- In Florida, state lawmakers are withholding nearly $2 million from the health department over medical marijuana delays. The Senate passed a bill to change how a black farmer can receive a MMJ license.
- In Maryland, the House approved a measure to add more MMJ licenses and increase minority business ownership.
- In New Jersey, the new health commissioner pledged to improve the medical marijuana program.
- In Pennsylvania, a major hospital announces guidelines for medical marijuana. A state panel recommends smokable flower for the MMJ program.
- In North Carolina, industrial hemp faces regulatory pressure from the feds. Contaminated CBD oil is resulting in ER visits.
- In Kentucky, the Louisville Metro Council approved a resolution urging the state to legalize medical marijuana.
Word for Word
“I was sold. I’m a cannabis supporter, and it was great seeing a former law enforcement guy embrace it so openly. I especially liked that Wolf spoke of the need not just to legalize it but to destigmatize it. I read quotes from an interview he did with CNN where he said marijuana ‘allowed him to be gentler, a better father, a better partner… and much more empathic.’ I could relate to that. I felt like he was someone that could represent my interests in the nation’s capital as soon as next year. But then I started getting Twitter messages telling me to look into Wolf’s background.” – Hunter Stuart for Chicago Reader
“It is not right to have two sets of rules on arrests for marijuana — and unfortunately, that’s what we’ve seen and continue to see. I support the legalization of marijuana, not just the decriminalization. One of the major reasons why I support it is I think it (marijuana arrests) disproportionately, unfairly impacts communities of color.” – New York City council speaker Corey Johnson, New York Daily News
“Unlike the early era of Snoop Dogg or the later one of Wiz Khalifa — each of whom Bad Bunny name-checks in his verse — rapping about herb-smoking is not as renegade as it once was. Recreational use has been legalized across the West Coast, as well as in Alaska, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts. In Puerto Rico, medical marijuana was formally legalized last July, a shift Bad Bunny commemorates by boasting that he signed the law himself. [Krippy Kush]’s adherence to its weed-rap lineage reveals something about how young Latin musicians relate to their peers who rap in English — and how they influence them.” – Julianne Escobedo Shepherd for The New York Times