Senator Kamala Harris signs on to the Marijuana Justice Act. The media has played a big role in perpetuating the war on drugs. Oregon has three times the marijuana it needs to supply the legal market. Also: Despite a court ruling in South Africa, people are still being arrested for consuming cannabis in their own homes. 🌳
Kamala Harris announces support for the Marijuana Justice Act. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) formally announced her support for senator Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) Marijuana Justice Act. The legislation is the most comprehensive federal legalization bill introduced to date. “Marijuana laws are not enforced and applied the same way for all people. We need to change the system,” said Harris. “I’m proud to stand with senator Kamala Harris and others in support of the Marijuana Justice Act,” said Booker, who explained that his legislation would expunge past pot convictions and set up an investment fund for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. “This must be about restorative justice as well.” NowThis News
The media’s role in perpetuating the war on drugs. The New York Times Magazine is taking heat for its story about babies born to mothers who are addicted to opioids. The cover image — a cherub in a white tutu — is “framed in a soft white glow meant to evoke purity, innocence and the need for protection.” It’s the latest in media coverage of the opioid crisis that shows the “striking contrast between the lock-’em-up response to black drug users in the 1980s and our current largely compassionate collective reaction to the opioid epidemic.” This op-ed criticizes the press for believing police more than civilians: “When it comes to law enforcement officials, journalists must apply the same treatment they are trained to give their own mothers: If they tell you something, check it out.” The Huffington Post
House panel approves Kushner’s criminal justice bill. The House Judiciary Committee approved a prison reform bill backed by senior Trump advisor Jared Kushner and the White House. The vote is a rare bipartisan achievement, but faces significant hurdles in the Senate. Critics of the bill, including Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) want sentencing reform (and not just prison reform) in any criminal justice bill. Politico Related: Kim Kardashian West spoke about her efforts to get president Trump to grant clemency to a 62-year-old great-grandmother serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offense: “If you think about a decision that you’ve made in your life and you get life without the possibility of parole for your first-time nonviolent offense, there’s just something so wrong with that.” Mic Meek Mill is out of jail and continuing his fight for criminal justice reform: “Stay strong, it’s a world of people out here fighting for the voiceless.” CNN
Promise for medical marijuana in the opioid crisis. A new report found that states with legal medical and adult-use marijuana saw declines in opioid prescriptions. “Medicaid patients, for example, are getting about 5.9 percent fewer prescription painkillers in medical marijuana states. Further, the opioid prescription declines are deeper where recreational pot is allowed, down nearly 6.4 percent.” The report blamed marijuana prohibition for a lack of scientific research on the drug. Meanwhile, a high-profile NIH study will be the first long-term study to look at the effects of medical marijuana on opioid use for those suffering from chronic pain. The Journal News
Dealing with a smelly crop. Cannabis is the new crop of choice in Carpinteria, Calif., a coastal town surrounded by mountains. The county is home to a large number of cannabis cultivation licenses, most of which are for greenhouse grows. Long home to the cut-flower industry, many flower growers are now turning to the more valuable crop of cannabis. But the concentration of grows has some residents unhappy. “Residents say a thick, skunk-like odor from the marijuana plants settles over the valley in the evenings and before dawn. To keep out the stench, they have tried stuffing pillows under doors, lighting incense and shutting windows, a reluctant choice since it also keeps out the cool ocean breezes that are part of the town’s allure.” The Associated Press
🚨 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
Dispensaries recommending cannabis for pregnant women. A new study found that most marijuana dispensaries in Colorado are recommending cannabis products to pregnant women for morning sickness. Out of 400 randomly chosen dispensaries in the state, “about seven in 10 recommended cannabis products as a treatment for morning sickness. Nearly two-thirds of the employees who answered these calls based these recommendations on ‘personal opinion,’ and more than a third said cannabis was safe during pregnancy.” Experts say the science on marijuana and pregnancy is not clear and that using cannabis while pregnant is “not as black and white as something like alcohol.” CNN
A look at Breaking Habits. A look at the first trailer for a documentary about a group of cannabis-growing “nuns” in California. The film chronicles the California medical marijuana outfit Sisters of the Valley as it deals with “run-ins with the county sheriff and black-market thieves playing a role as well as threats from local drug cartels and the California state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation.” Deadline
Today in cannabis business news… A deep dive into Oregon’s pot pricing problem, where pounds of weed are now going for $100. State data shows that Oregon pot farmers have produced three times the yearly consumer demand for cannabis. One farmer said his grow is operating at a $15,000-a-month loss. The Guardian The cannabis industry could add up to 340,000 full-time jobs by 2022. Fortune Nine cannabis tech companies are teaming up for collaboration rather than competing with one another. Adweek American Samoa is putting the final touches on the first new U.S. public bank in recent history. “The development is being closely watched… by the legal marijuana industry whose operators have struggled to enter the federal banking system.” The Washington Post
Cannabis in Canada. A report from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce found that the market for recreational marijuana will approach $6.5 billion by 2020. “For context, this is greater than the amount of spirits sold in this country, and approaches wine in scale.” CBC News The report also found that plain packaging rules for the industry won’t do consumers any favors. “Brand loyalty will be an important determinant for consumers, just like it is for alcohol.” Global News Weed is 30 percent cheaper in Canada than the U.S., partly because “there is a much longer history of legalization in Canada, and thus a larger supply of legal marijuana growers and sellers.” Priceonomics
Elsewhere around the world… The latest Global Drug Survey found that about 20 percent of cannabis users showed “substantial signs of dependence.” “A positive SDS score is not the same as a clinical diagnosis of dependence… But it does suggest that many marijuana users have considerable misgivings about their habits.” The Huffington Post A report from Uruguay‘s regulatory agency found that nearly 35,000 have registered to access recreational marijuana. Most consumers purchased cannabis from pharmacies, followed by home cultivation and marijuana clubs. Marijuana Business Daily In South Africa, the Western Cape High Court ruled that using marijuana at home is legal. As the ruling is taken up by the Supreme Court of Appeal, much confusion surrounding the legal status of cannabis remains. Cops are still arresting cannabis consumers: “I thought what I was doing was legal… Now I have a criminal record and I’m not even a criminal. I am still confused.” Health-E News
Word on the States
- In California, Redwood City cannabis businesses cheered regulations passed by the city council.
- In Colorado, lawmakers fear borrowing against marijuana tax revenue to fund schools due to the industry’s uncertain regulatory future.
- In Florida, a legislative panel calls out medical marijuana regulators over implementation.
- In Alaska, Fairbanks votes to allow up to 25 marijuana dispensaries.
- In Pennsylvania, a look at where marijuana is decriminalized in the state.
- In New Jersey, the medical marijuana industry is expanding quickly.
- In Rhode Island, a Democratic attorney general opposes civil asset forfeiture reform.
- In Louisiana, senators approved measures to expand medical marijuana in the state.
- In Michigan, a Senate committee approved a bill to ban marijuana-infused alcoholic beverages. Republicans debate legalizing marijuana before a ballot petition.
Word for Word
“As Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, noted in a conversation at the Drug Policy Alliance: ‘Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished Black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?’ ‘I think we have to be willing, as we’re talking about legalization, to also start talking about reparations for the war on drugs, how to repair the harm caused,’ said Alexander. As public opinion has shifted toward legalization, rich white men like [John] Boehner and the mega-corporations they serve are trying to cash in. We can’t let them rake in profits while thousands of people, mostly people of color, continue to sit in jail for possession and use.” – New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon for Cassius
“When I am consuming cannabis for judging purposes, I focus on every characteristic of the cannabis from start to finish—the look, the smell, the taste, the inhale, the exhale, how it makes me feel, etc. Every detail. It’s much different than consuming just for fun, but one is not necessarily a better experience than the other.” – Founder of Uncle Cliffy Cannabis Cliff Robinson, Willamette Week
“The amount of capital that wants to come into this space is unprecedented… But the money wants to take the path of least resistance… I should own 20 positions (in marijuana investments), but I can’t own one. I can’t break the federal law. I have to be compliant. You’re not going to get institutional investors until you have zero risk.” – Entrepreneur and investor on Shark Tank Kevin O’Leary, Marijuana Business Daily