Colorado governor John Hickenlooper explains Jeff Sessions’ strategy to fight legal weed. Despite Sessions’ anti-cannabis actions, the industry is creating lots of new jobs. High Times is looking like an increasingly bad investment. Also: Pot icon Tommy Chong is being sued for fraud in a marketing deal for his marijuana brand. 🌳
Session’s anti-marijuana strategy. Attorney general Jeff Sessions knows that the Justice Department doesn’t have the resources to take on legal weed. His strategy for taking on state-legal marijuana markets? Create “uncertainty, which he hopes will be bad for business,” said Colorado governor John Hickenlooper. “Just make people think twice before they expand their operation or make additional investments.” Hickenlooper has spoken to the attorney general to try to get him on board with state-regulated marijuana. But Sessions remains “very clear” on his conviction that marijuana is bad for the country. Rolling Stone
Trump says border wall will stop drugs. President Trump announced that the National Guard and military would be deployed to the US-Mexico border. He also talked up his plan to build a border wall because “it’ll knock the hell out of the drug flow.” But according to the DEA itself, the vast majority of drugs smuggled into the country came through “US ports of entry in passenger vehicles with concealed compartments or commingled with legitimate goods on tractor trailers.” Meanwhile, state-level marijuana legalization is actually resulting in American weed being smuggled south into Mexico. Business Insider Related: Trump’s opioid commission released its recommendations last November. Now, two senators are asking his administration: what ever happened to those proposals? Vox
Most California cities have banned cannabis businesses. Proposition 64 may have legalized marijuana in the state, but it also allowed municipalities to set their own rules when it comes to weed. The result: fewer than one in three California cities allow any type cannabis businesses within their borders; fewer than one in seven allow recreational dispensaries. The data show that California is no legal weed haven. Meanwhile, some cities that voted against adult-use legalization have allowed marijuana businesses. Others that voted for Prop 64 have found themselves banning the industry — seemingly against the wishes of voters. The Orange County Register
Texas cracks down on CBD. Health officials in the state proposed a crackdown on CBD sales — even when it is derived from industrial hemp. The State Health Services said it would seize any hemp-derived CBD products and return them to the manufacturer or straight up destroy them. The proposal is now up for public comment. Retailers selling CBD in the state have been raided before. Hemp Industry Daily Related: The Texas proposal underscores that CBD is not legal in all 50 states. Forbes
Legal weed creates new jobs. The marijuana industry saw a 445 percent year-over-year growth in job listings, compared to 245 percent for the tech industry. Cannabis jobs are the fastest growing job category in the U.S., according to an analysis by the recruiting site ZipRecruiter. Los Angeles boasts the most marijuana-related job openings, followed by San Francisco, Denver, and Seattle. Forbes Related: Budtenders are going to be in high demand in Michigan as medical marijuana becomes a regulated industry. The Associated Press
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High Times in financial trouble. High Times saw a 4.3 percent decrease in U.S. revenue last year, thanks to a nearly 26 percent decline in publishing revenues and a 31 percent decline in merchandising revenue. While the publication and lifestyle brand saw an increase in its events business, its $13.6 million operating loss “should give potential investors pause… With weak financials, the clock ticking and the need to raise money quickly, it’s not clear that Hightimes Holdings is going to make it to the public markets, especially to the NASDAQ as it originally intended.” New Cannabis Ventures
Eaze turns to ride-sharing vets for regulatory help. Just like the ride-sharing industry, the cannabis business operates under regulatory uncertainty. VC-backed cannabis startup Eaze has hired a former Lyft executive and counts a former Uber adviser as one of its investors. But “in contrast to the ride-sharing giants’ venture-funded land grabs that often ignored regulators’ objections, Eaze has taken a measured approach… The complex regulatory patchwork for cannabis upends a common startup approach in recent years to quickly launch in new markets first—and work out the kinks with regulators later.” The Wall Street Journal 🔒
Tommy Chong sued over marijuana marketing deal. Cannabis company Evergreen Licensing, which licenses Tommy Chong-branded cannabis products, is suing Tommy Chong and his son Paris for breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment. The lawsuit alleges that Chong conspired to “cut plaintiffs entirely out” of the revenues and profits of the project. While Chong
“cultivated the public image of a trustworthy, pot- smoking, laid back, good guy… he was anything but that type individual in his business dealings with them,” according to the lawsuit. NBC Los Angeles
Cannabis in Canada. Conservative senators are taking aim at the home-grow provision in the Liberal government’s marijuana legalization bill. “[They] would need support from independent counterparts to pass any amendments.” Marijuana Business Daily For Canadians who don’t smoke pot, cannabis legalization in Canada could spell trouble for those who cross the US-Canada border. Bellingham Herald
Controversy over Netflix documentary on drug war. Philippine director Brillante Mendoza is under fire for a Netflix series on the country’s brutal drug crackdown. Human rights groups have called on the show to be canceled — “glorifying president Duterte’s war on drugs is glorification of mass murder, killings and human rights abuses,” said one executive at a human rights organization. The Telegraph The mother of a teenager who was gunned down after being accused of selling cannabis is calling on Netflix to cancel the series. “War on drugs is not the solution. For me, killing is not right. Everyone deserves a chance to live and change his life,” reads her petition. Rappler
Word on the States
- In California, farmers are stacking hundreds of cannabis licenses. The industry is urging one city to allow cannabis microbusinesses.
- In Maine, cannabis entrepreneurs are moving to Massachusetts amid regulatory uncertainty. Another town enacts a retail marijuana moratorium.
- In Pennsylvania, the MMJ advisory board recommended allowing whole-plant cannabis. The state’s highest court will decide whether using illegal drugs while pregnant qualifies as child abuse.
- In Michigan, regulators are trying to chop the medical marijuana market in half.
- In Tennessee, a poll found that 81 percent of voters favor some form of legalization.
- In Massachusetts, a new medical marijuana dispensary drew a crowd on its opening day.
- In Kentucky, an education advocacy group voted in support of medical marijuana before quietly backtracking on the issue.
- In New Jersey, the governor struggles to round up support for recreational legalization.
- In New Mexico, Albuquerque’s mayor ended the city’s civil asset forfeiture program.
Word for Word
“The documentary Vice guides us through the legacy of the nineties—the draconian crime policies, the talk of juvenile super-predators—with damning clips of rhetoric made by politicians ranging from Newt Gingrich to the Clintons; the policies of that era led to harsh sentencing and grim institutions that often fail to rehabilitate offenders or to reduce crime. We also see progressive, and truly encouraging, contemporary programs that aim to keep kids out of prison, and we learn about adolescent brain development and its role in behavior and decision-making.” – Sarah Larson for The New Yorker
“[The app] Promise is part of a technological approach to old practices of mass incarceration that have never worked in favor of black, brown, and poor white people. The government has never needed investors to create systems of control. Electronic monitoring has been used to expand the prison-industrial complex into our own homes. These ‘monitored releases’ are not an alternative to incarceration, they are incarceration by an alternative means… The solution to poor people’s inability to pay bail is not more monitoring, but less bail.” – Law professor Andrea Armstrong for Injustice Today