A federal judge said ATF drug raids are “tinged with racial overtones.” The head of the UN touted drug decriminalization in a recorded speech before the UN’s drug policy-making commission. Researchers found that legalizing the marijuana industry has a net positive benefit for the economy. Also: How a plan to boost minority ownership in Maryland’s medical marijuana industry could end up benefiting white business owners. 🌳
Federal judge on racial disparities in drug raids. A federal judge in Chicago found that ATF raids on drug stash houses were “tinged with racial overtones,” but “reluctantly” declined to dismiss the charges against the defendants. “Fortunately for the government, the question before this court is not whether the practices used in these sting operations are honorable or fair,” wrote Judge Ruben Castillo. He said that the raids must be viewed through the “the lens of our country’s sad history of racism,” referencing sentencing disparities for black and white drug offenders in the ’80s and ’90s. Chicago Tribune
Head of UN touts decriminalizing drugs. UN Secretary-General António Guterres criticized drug enforcement efforts during a recorded speech for a Commission on Narcotics Drugs meeting. The commission is the central decision-maker in the UN when it comes to drug policy. “We can promote efforts to stop organized crime while protecting human rights, enabling development and ensuring rights-based treatment and support,” said Guterres. “I am particularly proud of the results of the reforms I introduced in Portugal when I was prime minister almost 20 years ago.” Portugal decriminalized all drug use under Gueterres and instituted a treatment-focused effort to combat drug abuse in 2001. Marijuana Moment
The feds are trying to extradite a cannabis seed seller. A British man is facing extradition to the U.S. for his cannabis seed-selling business. Known as Gypsy Nirvana, the marijuana advocate escaped America’s first extradition attempt when the British courts ruled that his business was not illegal under U.K. law. Now, he’s facing trial in a federal court in Maine, which has legalized both medical and adult-use marijuana. He will continue to resist the extradition in the high court in London on Thursday. The Guardian
How legal weed in California is impacting Mexico. Middle-class Mexicans and Americans living just south of the border are crossing into California to buy cannabis in dispensaries and taking it back to Mexico. The cannabis culture of California is making its way to the country, with activists hoping it can contribute to a shift in how the country views marijuana policy. The Mexican government has already been loosening laws surrounding medical marijuana. Dispensary owners in San Diego say they have seen an influx of tourists from the border area. These consumers “tend to be economically well-off, both because they need to cross the border with ease — easier for a U.S. citizen or a visa holder — and they need to be able pay more.” Voice of San Diego
Study finds legal marijuana has a positive impact on the economy. In a groundbreaking report from the Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Institute of Cannabis Research, researchers found that the legal cannabis industry had a net positive impact on Pueblo county’s economy. The report estimates that taxing and regulating marijuana had a $58 million economic impact and added $23 million in costs like law enforcement and social services. That results in a $35 million net benefit for the economy. The report estimates that the net positive impact will rise to $100 million by 2021. The report also found “little conclusive evidence to support arguments that marijuana legalization has caused widespread social change in the county.” The Denver Post
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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
What happened to CBD legalization in Indiana? Amid the national debate on gun reform, Indiana lawmakers used a legislative procedure in the House to strip a CBD legalization bill of its contents and replace it with language to relax gun restrictions. The new version of the bill would eliminate fees for handgun permits, allow lifelong gun licenses, and permit individuals to carry guns in churches (unless the church has a gun ban in place). But the CBD bill’s counterpart in the Senate still retains its original CBD language and could come up for a vote this week. The Cannabist
Plan to boost minority MMJ ownership could backfire. Lawmakers in Maryland have been discussing how to increase minority ownership in its medical marijuana industry, deciding on a plan to offer more licenses. But the legislation set aside four of the new licenses for the overwhelmingly white-owned companies that are already license holders. “That has puzzled and rankled black-owned firms. They expected a new round of competition that would eliminate the barriers that prevented most black firms from winning licenses the first time.” The Baltimore Sun
Weedmaps pushes back against California. After the state’s top marijuana regulator threatened legal action against Weedmaps for listing unlicensed cannabis businesses, the company responded to a cease-and-desist from the state conveying that it would not remove such listings from its platform. Weedmaps wrote that it is “not a Licensee subject to the Bureau’s purview.” Cannabis business attorneys disagreed about whether the company’s argument would stand up in the courts. Marijuana Business Daily
Marijuana stigma remains, even in Hollywood. At a pre-Oscars event in Beverly Hills, Calif., the state’s fledgling cannabis industry tried to woo celebrities with ancillary and CBD cannabis products. From CBD cosmetics to vape pens disguised as lipstick, their presence “highlighted how even as marijuana legalization accelerates in the US and approaches in Canada, companies are struggling to reach their desired customers.” The Guardian
Elsewhere around the world… Newly elected Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford said he supports a hands-off, free-market approach to legal marijuana. “I don’t believe in the government sticking their hands in our lives all the time. I believe in letting the market dictate,” he said. CBC News Pro- and anti-medical marijuana doctors in Australia are at odds after a professor discussed the scientific evidence behind the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids during a TV interview. Many pointed out that the professor, a chapter president of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, seemed to be contradicting the position of the medical organization, which was published in a medical journal last month. BuzzFeed News
Word on the States
- In New Jersey, the governor is counting on marijuana legalization in his budget proposal. The Senate president does not support decriminalizing cannabis over legalizing it.
- In New York, the police commissioner defended the department’s racially disparate marijuana enforcement.
- In Massachusetts, everything you need to know about the state’s new pot rules.
- In Colorado, regulators released a new universal symbol for medical and recreational marijuana.
- In Alaska, the man nominated by the governor to fill a seat on the marijuana regulatory board withdrew from consideration after losing his law enforcement job.
- In Florida, an advocacy group is suing the state over licensing rules. Medical marijuana companies are doing big business with home deliveries.
- In North Dakota, lawmakers approved medical marijuana rules.
- In Indiana, lawmakers disagree with the governor on industrial hemp legalization.
- In New Hampshire, a House committee wants to shelve a marijuana legalization bill.
- In Arizona, a House committee approved a marijuana-testing bill.
- In Illinois, a House panel approved a measure to allow parents to give medical marijuana to their kids on school property.
- In Kentucky, U.S. rep. Thomas Massie joined senator Rand Paul in supporting a medical marijuana legalization measure.
Word for Word
“I’m here right now—the fourth-ever popularly elected African American in the Senate’s history—because of people pushing impossible legislation. When civil-rights legislation came up in this body, it seemed impossible. The longest filibuster in Senate history was a racist rant against the civil-rights movement. But people stood up for what was right despite the odds. My calling attention to injustices may not pass legislation, but it is making a difference.” – Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on his unlikely-to-pass marijuana bill, The Atlantic
“The distortions brought about by trade barriers impose a cost on the economy. It might not be easy to spot before the fact, but it tends to be more substantial than whatever fleeting gains protectionism can bring about to the protected… Sugar quotas even undermined American policy to counter narcotics trafficking. The Central Intelligence Agency concluded that falling sugar exports encouraged farmers in Jamaica and Belize to switch to marijuana.” – Eduardo Porter for The New York Times
“When I talk to audiences about marijuana, I always say, ‘I’m not pro-pot. I’m anti-prohibition, anti-racial discrimination, and pro-civil liberties.’ And I always remind my audiences that marijuana is a drug, it can be dangerous, and it can be abused. But we now know, after a five-year track record in WA and CO, that when you legalize smartly, adult use stays essentially the same, teen use does not go up, crime does not go up, and DUIs do not go up. What does go up are protections of our civil liberties — and tax revenue.” – Rick Steves for Rick Steves’ Europe / Blog