Trump praised China’s criminal justice system and advocated for the death penalty for drug dealers. Sessions said that the Justice Department won’t take on small marijuana cases. How social justice is driving the fight for and against legalization. Also: The SEC is charging a cannabis investor with fraud for a pump-and-dump scheme. 🌳
Trump advocates for death penalty for drug dealers. In an “hour-long rambling campaign style speech,” president Trump expressed bafflement that murderers were treated more harshly than drug dealers. He praised China’s criminal justice system and expressed support for instituting the death penalty for drug dealers. “I don’t know if this country is ready but I think it’s a discussion we have to start thinking about,” he said. The Guardian Related: The president’s Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Justice are studying the policy and could make a final announcement on the proposal in the upcoming weeks. The Washington Post
DOJ won’t take on small-time marijuana cases. Attorney general Jeff Sessions said that federal prosecutors won’t take on “routine [marijuana] cases” and that they would focus on drug gangs and large conspiracies. Prosecutors “haven’t been working small marijuana cases before, they are not going to be working them now,” he said, while emphasizing that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The Associated Press
Social justice drives the pro- and anti-pot fight. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy has vowed to legalize marijuana in a bid to combat racial disparities in drug enforcement: In the state, black people are three times more likely to be charged with marijuana possession compared to white people, despite using the drug at similar rates. Murphy is backed up by the NAACP, ACLU, the DPA, and a coalition of black pastors who view legalization as a social justice issue. But one of the big obstacles to their legislative plans: Senator Ronald Rice, a Democrat and leader of the Black Caucus. Rice opposes legalization and argues that cannabis is “being sold on the backs of black folk and brown people.” The New York Times Related: A look at one medical marijuana advocate’s mission to educate police on New Jersey’s medical marijuana laws. The News & Observer
Wrong zip code? Sorry, you’re out of luck. An Alabama man was sentenced to three years in prison and two years probation for growing seven marijuana plants in his backyard. The Associated Press The local police chief estimated that the plants would have yielded 15 to 20 pounds of marijuana “if all the leaves were harvested.” (The police chief seems to not know the definition of “marijuana,” which refers only to the psychoactive flowers of the cannabis plant.) Seven plants could fall within the home-grow limits in several states that have legalized marijuana. The News Courier
CDC warns about the health risks for pot trimmers. Trimming jobs may be luring restaurant workers with higher pay, but trimmers are at higher risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. “Because most of the research on marijuana has do to with the effects of THC (the active ingredient when used medicinally or recreationally), occupational health specialists have done little to study the effects of marijuana farming itself.” Quartz
🚨 Shameless Friend Promotion 🚨
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
Pot researchers are raising funds for a mobile lab. Researchers at the University of Colorado are trying to make up for the lack of marijuana research, coming up with an innovative way to work around federal drug laws: a mobile pharmacology lab. (Because the university receives federal funding, they cannot allow research participants into the university’s lab to consume cannabis.) The scientists brought the mobile lab to the homes of subjects to test them before and after they consumed marijuana. Now, the researchers are trying to raise $42,000 for a second mobile lab. The Daily Camera
Colombia looks to supply the world with legal pot. After tens-of-thousands of its citizens died in the U.S.-led war on drugs, the South American nation is home to a budding medical marijuana industry. Since the country legalized the production and export of medical marijuana two years ago, licensees are preparing for their first commercial sales and exports in the coming weeks. “An increasing number of other countries, including Germany, Peru, Italy and Croatia, are seen as fast-developing export markets for medical marijuana.” The Washington Post
In cannabis business news… Colorado-based Helix TCS, a security and compliance company for the cannabis industry, has inked a merger deal with BioTrackTHC, a Florida-based seed-to-sale tracking company. Marijuana Business Daily As marijuana delivery services expand, so will the reach and depth of their data. Ad Age The SEC charges a cannabis investor with fraud for a pump-and-dump scheme. New Cannabis Ventures
Cannabis in Canada. Ontario announced the name and logo for its government pot stores, which was promptly derided on Twitter. BuzzFeed News Why Ottawa seems to be low-balling its estimates of the upcoming cannabis industry. BuzzFeed News A look at how provincial governments are boosting the cannabis industry with incentives. Marijuana Business Daily British Columbia is putting off its decision on cannabis lounges. CBC News
Word on the States
- In Colorado, Denver dispensaries collected more than half a billion dollars in 2017.
- In California, a cannabis businessman accuses a city councilman of assault.
- In Massachusetts, a former sports broadcaster will host an upcoming pot podcast.
- In Alaska, the Senate refused to hear a measure to respond to Sessions’ Cole memo rescission.
- In New York, a look at how NYC can reform its cannabis laws.
- In Connecticut, Stamford considers allowing a medical marijuana dispensary.
- In West Virginia, the state Senate backtracked on medical marijuana legislation passed last year.
- In Kentucky, senator Rand Paul supports a state medical marijuana legalization bill.
- In Iowa, the state received 21 applications for CBD oil dispensaries.
- In Montana, MMJ tracking systems are set launch this month.
- In Virginia, the governor signed medical marijuana legislation on Friday.
- In Illinois, a look at where governor candidates stand on legalizing marijuana.
Word for Word
“A 2017 study in the Economic Journal evaluated the career trajectories of 1.7 million people released from California prisons between 1993 and 2008, and concluded that, while employment curbs recidivism among the released, the quality of opportunities may be more important than the quantity available. Sixty-three people have completed the Manifest Works program since it began in fall 2014. Many have established steady freelance careers doing production work. No alum has gone back to prison.” – Alexandra Pechman for The Guardian
“I started reading about the anti-tumor properties of cannabis oil. It’s all about supporting the side effects, and helping the chemo to do its job. I just find it staggering that with the billions of dollars that is spent on cancer research, that the medicine we rely on is made in somebody’s kitchen” – A mother in the new film Weed the People, People