When cops seize illicit marijuana, innocent lives are put in danger. For the first time ever, a House committee passed a (very narrow) marijuana reform bill. Cannabis industry folk in California are handing out supplies and marijuana to the homeless. Also, the leader of Canada’s Conservative party admitted to smoking pot when he was young. 🌳
When cops steal drugs. For decades, federal and state law enforcement have been seizing drugs from suspected dealers with a “delayed-notice search warrant” and then staging the site to look like a burglary in the hopes of keeping their investigation a secret. But this tactic often puts innocent people at risk. When a federal-state task force recently seized marijuana from an Oregon storage unit, the suspects kidnapped the storage facility’s manager and threatened him at gunpoint. “Delayed-notice warrants like these allow investigators to make a high-stakes gamble with the lives of others.” The New York Times Related: ProPublica and Audible are launching an audio documentary this week chronicling how a DEA operation resulted in the deaths of dozens, possibly hundreds, of innocent people. ProPublica
Congressional committee approves marijuana research bill. A House committee approved a bill that would encourage the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct research on medical marijuana. The legislation would require the VA to issue a report about the research to Congress. While the bill itself is a very limited marijuana reform bill, its approval by a Congressional committee is a first — no standalone cannabis bill has ever advanced in the legislature so far. Advancing the bill “likely signals more action to come on Capitol Hill.” Marijuana Moment
Weed the Homeless. An effort called Weed the Homeless is giving out cannabis and essentials like food and toiletries to homeless people in Los Angeles. “Whether it’s cannabis industry folk giving out weed or restaurant industry folk giving out food, these conversations and connections on the street need to happen more regularly,” said one volunteer. “There are legitimately sick people out there on the street, too, who don’t have access to health insurance or proper medical treatment, let alone enough wherewithal to buy retail weed. And even in the case of addiction, if someone on the street is faced with the choice of using heroin or smoking a free joint, the latter presents a safer option.” LA Weekly Related: A homeless man in Northern California said that heroin is now at times easier to acquire than marijuana “which is surprising in a region known as the Emerald Triangle where marijuana is widely grown.” The New York Times
The dubious practice of drug-testing welfare recipients. Research shows that drug-testing welfare recipients is not a necessary or effective practice. Meanwhile, states are using questionnaires from private companies that make for a deeply flawed screening method. Even after the state asks people about their illicit drug use, the vast majority of people test negative for drugs. “If someone shows up because don’t have enough money for food, it just strikes me as a real punitive moralistic thing that is not evidence-based,” said one researcher who has studied the practice for more than a decade. “If you wanted to really find someone with an alcohol disorder, you can go right outside a football stadium in Arizona, Saturday morning… But we don’t do that in large part because we treat people who are seeking public benefits different and in a less respectful way.” ThinkProgress
Rob Kampia to lead new PAC opposing Pete Sessions. The former executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project is raising money for a new super PAC aimed at defeating U.S. rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), a lawmaker holding up marijuana legislation in Congress. Kampia left MPP last year and was removed from the board of the National Cannabis Industry Association amid increased scrutiny of sexual harassment allegations against him in the wake of the #metoo movement. He is now trying to raise $500,000 for the new PAC. Washington Examiner
🚨 Shameless Promotion 🚨
Earl Blumenauer in NYC. High NY is hosting U.S. rep. Earl Blumenauer this Friday in Brooklyn. Tickets go towards the congressman’s Cannabis Fund, which supports “pro-cannabis candidates, ballot measures, initiatives, referendums and oppose those who stand in our way.” ActBlue / The Cannabis Fund
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
Studies of the day. A study from the credit rating agency Moody’s found that marijuana legalization boosts state revenues, but not by much. While taxes on cannabis sales pay for the industry’s regulatory costs, marijuana revenues bring in less than 2 percent of state budgets. The Associated Press Scientists went to r/trees, a marijuana subreddit, to “leverage data from a unique and popular social media site to paint a different kind of informative picture of the emerging marijuana landscape.” Marijuana Moment Researchers warn that states aren’t doing enough to restrict tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana possession by child care providers. Reuters
Dubious claim of the day. The training director at a K-9 academy claims that if recreational marijuana is legalized in Illinois, a number of drug-sniffing dogs would likely have to be euthanized. “The idea that legalizing for adults to have an ounce on them will equal … all these dogs being euthanized, that seems kind of ridiculous and hyperbolic,” said one legalization advocate. Law enforcement officials also dismissed the suggestion. The Pantagraph
The FDA and medical marijuana. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the FDA would evaluate medical cannabis, but that the agency likely would not approve of smoking medical marijuana. “Using a lung as a drug delivery vehicle isn’t optimal,” he said. “That’s not to say that we wouldn’t evaluate it if it came in.” The FDA is currently evaluating Epidiolex, which could become the first marijuana-derived drug approved by the agency. Bloomberg
Plummeting pot prices. Oregon’s cannabis market is suffering from falling wholesale prices. But the drop is affecting other states as well: “The national average price for a pound of cannabis was about $1,789 in 2016, but had fallen by 13 percent to $1,562 by the end of 2017.” Cultivators in the state are increasingly desperate as they deal with an oversupply problem in the market. Willamette Week
Cannabis in Canada. The leader of the Conservative party Andrew Scheer admitted to smoking pot when he was young. He voted against the Liberal’s bill to legalize marijuana and his party has opposed legalization efforts in the legislature. The Huffington Post Activists in Halifax called for police to “stop arresting patients and stop raiding dispensaries.” CBC News Loblaws is going to sell marijuana in Newfoundland and Labrador “adjacent but separate” to its grocery stores. Leafly
Word on the States
- In California, marijuana businesses are leaving Los Angeles as the city struggles with licensing.
- In Nevada, a pro-pot state senator joined the board of a second cannabis-related company.
- In Washington, cannabis companies are managing to get some banking services.
- In Connecticut, dozens rallied for legalization outside the Capitol. A vote on recreational marijuana is looking unlikely.
- In Georgia, the governor signed a bill adding PTSD and intractable pain to the medical cannabis program.
- In New Jersey, the governor said he would consider pardoning past pot convictions.
- In Arkansas, the state Supreme Court will hear a case concerning the licensing process for medical marijuana.
- In Pennsylvania, a new bill would expunge past pot convictions for medical marijuana patients.
- In New York, the mayor of Buffalo considers decriminalizing low-level marijuana offenses.
- In Utah, an anti-legalization campaign distances themselves from a canvasser caught on tape trying to convince a woman to remove her signature from a MMJ petition.
- In South Carolina, medical marijuana could be a boon to the economy.
- In Rhode Island, medical marijuana sales increased 33 percent over 2017.
Word for Word
“First, let’s recognize that when we talk about mass incarceration, we’re entering a euphemistic world. There aren’t prisons anymore—only ‘correctional facilities’ and ‘detention centers.’ Looking for designers for your next jail? You’re tapping into the ‘justice’ sector. Regardless of the language we use, imprisonment has become a major industry that supports the finance, law, food service, and telecommunications industries, not to mention architects, designers, and contractors. The U.S. provides room and board for 25 percent of the world’s total prison population, according to a report from the Prison Policy Initiative; that’s 2.3 million people—the equivalent of the country’s fourth largest city, just behind Chicago. And while more people are being incarcerated each year, they’re not coming out. Figures from a 2016 U.S. Sentencing Commission study show America’s recidivism rates as the highest in the world, at about 60 percent. Some would argue that America’s prison problem is very much a design problem.” – Rachael Slade for Architectural Digest
“Pollan crosses that barrier of objectivity when he decides to take three psychedelics — LSD, psilocybin, and a smoked toad venom containing 5-methoxy-N.N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), sometimes known as ‘the spirit molecule’ — himself. The raw travelogue, as he calls it, reveals his struggle with experiences of the spiritual, if now supernatural, as induced by exogenous chemicals. ‘A phrase like ‘boundless being,’ which once I might have skated past as overly abstract and hyperbolic, now communicated something specific and even familiar,’ he writes, reflecting on the profundity of his collective ‘journeys.'” – Valerie Thompson for Science