Bernard Noble, who got sentenced to 13 years for possessing two joints, was released on parole after spending seven years behind bars. Senator Mitch McConnell introduced his hemp legalization bill today. Computer giant HP is getting into the cannabis industry. Also: Eight police officers in Argentina were fired after claiming that rats ate half a ton of missing marijuana. 🌳
Bernard Noble gets out of prison. In 2011, the Louisiana man got sentenced to 13 years in prison for possessing two joints of marijuana. His story became a national symbol of harsh drug laws and sentencing practices. Noble was released on parole Thursday after spending seven years behind bars. His hard-won release was the result of years of legal and political wrangling by a team of lawyers and advocates. “Now free, he is hoping to repay the support he received by helping young people stay out of trouble or joining an effort to raise the state’s minimum wage. ‘I am ready to get to work,’ he said.” The Marshall Project
McConnell introduces hemp bill. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has introduced legislation to legalize hemp. He was joined by fellow senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would remove restrictions facing the hemp industry (including banking and water rights). “It is really a milestone to have the majority leader of the Senate working with a bipartisan group of us to lift a restriction that is anti-farmer, certainly anti-consumer and anti-common sense,” said Wyden on the Senate floor. Forbes Meanwhile, hemp farmers are both excited and worried about the legislation. Among their chief concerns: restrictions on THC levels, which can be difficult to control. KUNC Related: Why we should use hemp for pretty much everything. The Outline
A proposal to drug test food-stamp recipients. The Trump administration is considering a plan that would allow states to require drug testing for certain food stamp recipients, a policy that some conservative lawmakers have been pushing for years. Internal emails “indicated that Agriculture Department officials in February were awaiting word from the White House about the timing of a possible drug testing announcement.” At least 15 states have laws on the books that allow drug-testing of welfare recipients. The Associated Press
Cannabis and the opioid crisis. Two anti-marijuana doctors penned an op-ed arguing that marijuana would not help solve the opioid epidemic. Their take? That there are many harms for young people who use marijuana — echoing the familiar “what about the kids?” refrain of prohibitionists. They fail to note that proponents of marijuana reform are not advocating for children using cannabis — rather, that legalization and regulation will help prevent youth-use. Stat A UC San Diego doctor who has been studying medical marijuana and chronic pain for decades says that cannabis is a much safer and effective treatment than opioids. “I’d prefer to visit medical cannabis before we resort to an opioid. I think cannabis is much more conservative. I think it’s lower risk. There’s never been a reported death from medical cannabis or cannabis. Look at all the deaths annually from opioid use.” KPBS
Medical marijuana in the NFL. The NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) released its Health Playbook, which fails to address medical marijuana or CBD in its 107 pages. While the league still maintains a zero-tolerance policy for THC, players are also increasingly turning to CBD to treat pain and inflammation. The league doesn’t drug test for CBD, but traces of THC in CBD products could spell trouble for players. “We’re looking at the issue of CBD — which, in its purest form doesn’t contain THC, which is the only thing that would run you afoul of the drug policy — but also looking at a lot of other therapies,” said the executive director of the NFLPA. The Athletic 🔒 Retired NFL player Martellus Bennett estimated that 89 percent of the league’s athletes smoke weed. The Washington Post
🚨 Shameless Promotion 🚨
Unladylike. Our editor was featured on the latest episode of Unladylike as the “joint-loving journalist,” alongside Wanda James, the co-founder of Simply Pure dispensary in Colorado, and Maya Elisabeth, one half of the Whoopi & Maya brand of cannabis products for women. “Legal cannabis is America’s fastest-growing industry and reportedly one of its women-friendliest. Cristen and Caroline sort the hype from the hangups around women and cannabis.” Unladylike
Cannabis Law Summit. The first annual Cannabis Law Summit is coming to New York City this May. Hear from such eminent speakers including Shaleen Title, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, Cristina Buccola, a cannabis attorney, advocate, and business developer, Senator Liz Krueger, an advocate of marijuana reform in the New York state legislature, and Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Word on the Tree readers get $50 off with the discount code: WORDT50. Cannabis Law Summit
Cynthia Nixon for marijuana legalization. The New York governor hopeful made legalizing recreational marijuana the first policy plank for her campaign, cutting a sharp contrast to incumbent Andrew Cuomo. “There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” she said. “If there was more political courage coming out of Albany, we would have done this already.” The New York Times
Netflix refusing to cancel drug war docuseries. Drug policy groups and human rights advocates are calling on the streaming service to cancel the series Amo, which looks at the controversial drug war led by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. “Amo isn’t a historical dramatization like Narcos or The Wire. It is about an ongoing, ‘eliminationist’ slaughter of people who have been marginalized, dehumanized, and deemed unworthy of life… In that sense, Netflix is guilty of normalizing mass murder in real time,” said one drug policy advocate. Netflix has responded to the controversy, saying that viewers can decide what to watch. BuzzFeed News
In cannabis business news… Computer giant HP is getting into the cannabis industry thanks to a partnership with cannabis compliance software company Flowhub. The company will sell a cash register system with Flowhub’s software pre-loaded to “do away with the tablets that many dispensaries rely on now to process transactions.” Bloomberg The CBD industry is waiting with bated breath on an upcoming ruling from the FDA on a pharmaceutical CBD product. Epidiolex could become the first FDA-approved drug that derives its active ingredient from marijuana plants. Marijuana Business Daily Cannabis retail chain MedMen is going public in Canada through a reverse takeover of OutdoorPartner Media Corporation. The company will trade over the Canadian Securities Exchange. Business Insider
Elsewhere around the world… After half a ton of marijuana went missing from police custody, eight officers in Argentina blamed rats for eating the missing drugs. (They were fired.) “Officials dismissed the officers’ theory, citing experts who said that rats would not confuse marijuana as food.” USA Today The Jamaican government is trying to address impediments to the medical marijuana industry. The Jamaica Observer Former president of Mexico Vicente Fox proposed legalizing opium poppies to reduce violence associated with the illicit drug trade. Reuters
Word on the States
- In California, lawmakers backed away from a proposed “zero tolerance” policy for marijuana and driving. Humboldt county considers capping marijuana farms and new rules for the industry.
- In Oregon, Deschutes County is trying to increase marijuana enforcement.
- In Ohio, 36 doctors have been certified to recommend medical marijuana.
- In Florida, a county court ruled that a medical marijuana patient can grow his own cannabis. Sarasota county approved its first medical marijuana dispensary.
- In Arkansas, regulators have stopped reviewing medical marijuana dispensary applications thanks to a court ruling.
- In Iowa, the state is seeking a second medical marijuana manufacturer.
- In Maryland, a county prosecutor said the illicit marijuana trade is often the reason for violent crimes.
- In New Jersey, the Jersey City council is delaying a vote on the mayor’s plan to ban marijuana before it’s even legal.
Word for Word
“[A] person who was involved in the [“challenge coin”] debate said that [EPA administrator Scott] Pruitt had expressed disapproval of the agency’s seal, a round flower with four leaves. He felt it looked like a marijuana leaf.” – Lisa Friedman and Kenneth P. Vogel for The New York Times
“There is no reason why the marijuana industry cannot play a more significant role in addressing [the housing] crisis. After all, there is a certain poetic justice to connecting the two issues. Under federal law, public housing authorities can deny housing to people with felony convictions, including marijuana-related charges… Nearly five years after Colorado passed its adult-use marijuana law, revenue from the legal cannabis industry funded a homeless center in Aurora. Unlike shelters which provide a place for homeless people to sleep at night, this center keeps its doors open in the daytime, providing meals, showers, services, and community to those who need it.” – Attorney Allison Margolin and writer Erin Williams for Leafly