Black people are 15 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana in Manhattan. An overview of racial equity in the cannabis industry. The U.K.’s drug minister opposes cannabis reform while married to a man who owns a cannabis farm. Also: Marijuana cultivators in Oregon are turning to hemp amid plummeting pot prices. 🌳
The NYPD’s explanation for racially disparate marijuana arrests doesn’t add up. A Times analysis of marijuana arrest data found that black people are arrested for low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white people, and Hispanic people are arrested at five times the rate of white people. In Manhattan, blacks are arrested 15 times the rate of whites. While the NYPD insists that the racial disparities can be chalked up to communities of color calling in with marijuana-related complaints at higher rates, the data does not support that excuse: “Among neighborhoods where people called about marijuana at the same rate, the police almost always made arrests at a higher rate in the area with more black residents.” The New York Times Related: An NYPD captain was suspended after police found her in a car with a man smoking marijuana. The New York Daily News
On racial equity in the cannabis industry. Massachusetts is on the forefront of developing policies to help remedy the injustices of the war on drugs. By pledging to award delivery and social-use licenses to equity applicants, regulators will “force many of the industry’s biggest players to build relationships and support small minority-owned businesses.” Discussion of economic empowerment and creating generational wealth are increasingly becoming part of the legalization conversation. The Pacific Standard A group of African-American clergy is demanding an apology from New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon for suggesting that legal marijuana could serve as a form of reparations for racially disparate drug enforcement. New York Daily News Killer Mike thought it was a “brilliant” idea: “In terms of drug war reparations, we deserve all the drug war reparations because we have shouldered the burden of the drug war. I want physical ownership of an industry that’s going to boom like alcohol. We deserve it for the time we’re serving alone. We deserve to own 50 percent of the marijuana market.” CelebStoner
What’s holding up medical marijuana for vets? Attorney general Jeff Sessions, says U.S. rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who has introduced legislation to compel the attorney general to approve federally licensed research cannabis cultivators. Since the DEA opened up applications for more research-cannabis producers, more than 25 manufacturers have applied (but none have been approved). Lawmakers from across the political spectrum blame the Justice Department for holding up those applications. Meanwhile, NIDA insists that the current inventory of research cannabis from the University of Mississippi is “more than sufficient,” despite comments from cannabis researcher Dr. Sue Sisley stating otherwise. McClatchy DC
The changing politics of cannabis for Democrats. Democratic Illinois senator Daniel Biss, who is running for governor, had campaign signs calling him “CannaBiss,” a “type of branding that would have been done by his opponents, not his own campaign, in decades past.” As marijuana legalization changes from a fringe to mainstream political issue, even longtime opponents like senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have changed their tune on the topic. “I think there is a recognition from federal lawmakers that advocating in favor of legalizing marijuana is a position that is more popular than they themselves are,” said one cannabis advocate. The Toronto Star
SCOTUS case is a win for states’ rights. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a state-level sports gambling law that conflicted with a federal prohibition of the activity. SCOTUS voted to overturn the gambling prohibition. Cannabis-focused attorneys say the case had implications for state-level marijuana laws. “Congress can’t prohibit those laws, force the states to repeal them or force the states to go back to prohibition. Almost everyone who’d thought carefully about these issues knew it was so, but it’s nice to see it recognized by a 7-2 Supreme Court,” said one lawyer, who filed an amicus brief in the case. Marijuana Moment
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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
CannaGrow Expo. A two-day educational expo on the art and science of growing marijuana will kick off in Palm Springs, Calif. this Saturday. Newcomers and experts alike can learn from cannabis cultivation experts in more than 35 educational sessions led by some of the top growers from around the world. Word on the Tree readers get $20 off tickets purchased online with the discount code: WOTT. CannaGrow Expo
Strange bedfellows: the NRA and marijuana advocates. Gerry Goldstein, a longtime NORML member and defense lawyer to the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, was surprised when he was invited to speak at an NRA convention. (He’s not into guns.) Under federal law, those who use marijuana — even under a state-approved medical cannabis program — are prohibited from carrying firearms. Some gun rights activists see a natural alliance with the marijuana movement due to medical marijuana patients being told to forfeit their guns by both state and federal law enforcement agencies. The Dallas Morning News
California struggles with cannabis regulations. An expert on mitigating cannabis odors explains why odor-control regulations are counterproductive: “Take for instance, the requirement that all of the air in the room be replaced every five minutes. ‘In reality, the slower you run the air, the more scent control you get – the polar opposite of what the ordinance actually said,'” he said. Rolling Stone State regulations require those with marijuana distribution licenses to register with the federal Department of Transportation and tell the feds about their businesses. “How am I supposed to tell the feds I’m going to starting up a criminal conspiracy to transport cannabis?” said one dispensary owner who is seeking a transport license. Wired Cannabis growers and dispensary owners say that pot taxes are too high, keeping consumers and producers in the black market. KRON Governor Jerry Brown proposed allocating $14 million to create five teams to investigate illicit cannabis businesses. The Los Angeles Times
Kicking opioids with weed. A man who was prescribed opioids after his knee surgery writes about his addiction and how he got off the pills thanks to cannabis tea. “Using marijuana, an illegal federal Schedule 1 controlled substance… I kicked my addiction to a killer opioid which is legal.” “A dealer who sells drugs that lead to death can now be charged with homicide. But what about doctors like mine, affluent white men who deal drugs that kill their patients?” The Daily Beast
British drugs minister called out for hypocrisy. U.K. drugs minister Victoria Atkins, who has opposed marijuana legalization in her career as a politician and lawyer, is married to a man who owns a cannabis farm. “What is appalling is she doesn’t just want to support it for policy reasons, quite evidently, she wants to support it because her husband and family are directly benefitting from [the regulation of] it,” said one cannabis advocate. BBC Atkins has recused herself from cannabis-related policy discussions. “We have the ridiculous situation of the drugs minister being unable to speak in Parliament or make decisions on one of the most important parts of her job,” said the director of a drug policy think tank. The Sun Related: An English police department busted a young man with a “small quantity of cannabis” and boasted of its drug enforcement prowess on its Facebook page. Many locals mocked the agency, prompting the police to threaten prosecution: “Whatever your thoughts on one of my officers seizing drugs in the community, being insulting, abusive or offensive can and will result in a prosecution under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.” Boing Boing
Cannabis in Canada. Conservative senator Claude Carignan fired Malcolm Armstrong after the staffer proposed delaying a vote on marijuana legalization. Armstrong was hired to advise the senator on cannabis and circulated a paper urging Independent senators to postpone a final vote on the legalization bill. The senator said the idea was “crazy.” The Toronto Star For the first time, a licensed medical marijuana producer has received permission to sell cannabis at its cultivation facility in Newfoundland. Marijuana Business Daily Analysts for CIBC, the country’s fourth-largest bank, addressed the marijuana industry for its institutional clients. The report “signals growing interest in the sector among institutional investors, which until recently have been extremely cautious in their approach to cannabis businesses.” Marijuana Business Daily
Word on the States
- In Oregon, plummeting pot prices are driving cultivators to hemp.
- In Massachusetts, researchers hope legalization will help make the state a leader in marijuana research.
- In California, an Oakland exhibition highlights the history of the cannabis movement. Unlicensed businesses start complying with cease-and-desist letters.
- In New Jersey, support for marijuana legalization is growing within the Legislative Black Caucus. An Assembly committee held a hearing on marijuana legalization.
- In Nevada, 41 people got ticketed for public pot smoking in Las Vegas during the first year of legal weed.
- In Utah, the LDS church has ‘grave concerns’ about a medical marijuana legalization ballot initiative. An LDS father speaks out against the stance.
- In Vermont, a look at the entrepreneurs at a cannabis convention.
- In Alabama, how Republicans thwarted marijuana decriminalization.
- In Texas, advocates look to new strategies for marijuana reform.
- In Kansas, a look at the popularity of CBD.
- In Florida, a medical marijuana patient vows to take his fight for home-grow to the state Supreme Court.
- In West Virginia, the chief health officer advocates for a marijuana banking solution.
- In Ohio, a judge is set to hear final arguments in a lawsuit that could delay MMJ certifications for cultivators.
- In Arkansas, the attorney general raises questions about the state’s appeal of a judge’s decision to block medical marijuana licenses.
- In Minnesota, a senator advocates for licensing a third medical marijuana dispensary.
Word for Word
“Early Friday morning an anonymous caller told Holliston police a student had a ‘bomb’ in a car. Police notified the school administration and the student parking lot was immediately cordoned off. School and public safety officials identified the caller and the student who supposedly had the ‘bomb.’ When the caller was interviewed, the caller ‘immediately, emphatically and convincingly’ said that the report was for a ‘bong,’ not a ‘bomb,’ police said.” – Alex Newman for Patch
“There will be those upscale cannabis users who sniff out bud with the same snobbish vigor as they do craft beer and wine, but there will always be stoners and potheads around to keep the industry humming like a well-oiled money machine. While it is respectable to grow and adapt with the times, legal profit is no reason to become prudes. Cannabis is a lot of things to millions of people across the nation, including fun. Let’s not lose sight of that.” – Mike Adams for Forbes
“I made a bet that within five years, every state will be able to treat cannabis like alcohol and there will be universal access to medical marijuana. If we do our job, it’s game over in two years.” – U.S. rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Willamette Week