How a prosecutor teamed up with a coding non-profit to expunge past pot offenses. Manhattan’s D.A. says he will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana offenses starting in August. Trump hopes his approach to marijuana will help him get re-elected. Also: Tupac once showed up to SNL with a big bag of weed to help out his fellow rapper Snoop Dogg. 🌳
A very cool solution to a very uncool problem. The San Francisco district attorney’s office is teaming up with the non-profit Code for America to expunge past pot convictions now that marijuana is legal in the state. While city-level D.A. offices (like San Francisco and San Diego) have vowed to automatically expunge those convictions, others like Los Angeles have demurred. Part of the problem is the lengthy bureaucratic process of identifying which convictions qualify for expungement, which would take significant resources. The new program created by Code for America will determine eligibility and automatically fill out the required forms for expungement. The non-profit hopes to “expand the pilot program to other California counties with the target of clearing 250,000 convictions by 2019.” The Los Angeles Times
Marijuana in New York. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced that his office will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases, including possession and public consumption. The new policy takes effect August 1. The Associated Press NYC mayor Bill de Blasio has directed the police department to come up with a plan in 30 days to end unnecessary marijuana arrests. Brooklyn district attorney Eric Gonzalez says his office plans to throw out more cases. The D.A.s of the Bronx and Queens were more hesitant on the issue. Meanwhile, the Manhattan and Brooklyn D.A.s “left the door open to prosecuting people on marijuana charges if they had previous criminal records.” The New York Times NYC’s comptroller said legalizing marijuana could bring in $336 million a year for the city. NY1
Trump hopes his approach to marijuana will be a selling point. President Trump’s reelection campaign is hoping that his “hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement [will be] a possible selling point” in Colorado. While Trump did promise senator Cory Gardner over the phone that he would not go after state-legal marijuana programs, he has also staffed his administration with ardent prohibitionists like Jeff Sessions in the Justice Department and Chris Christie on his opioid commission. Axios
The SBA already serves cannabis-related loan recipients. A review of federal loan data found that the Small Business Administration has already backed loans for recipients that are serving cannabis clients. But recent guidance said that the agency wouldn’t approve loans to businesses who serve state-legal cannabis businesses. SBA loan recipients who serve the cannabis industry were reticent about commenting, as was the SBA itself. “The new SBA policy could hurt non-white entrepreneurs who have been pushed to the fringes of the cannabis boom… ‘We’ve see a lot of people of color move to ancillary businesses in this space,’ [said Kayvan Khalatbari], in part because they tend not to have the capital to start a licensed dispensary or grow operation.” Pew Trusts
More parents are consuming cannabis. Fewer parents are smoking cigarettes, but more of them are consuming cannabis, according to data from the National Survey and Drug Use and Health. Cannabis use among parents with kids at home rose from 5 percent in 2002 to 7 percent in 2015. Researchers warned parents about exposing children to second-hand marijuana smoke, although there is a lack of research on the effects of second-hand cannabis smoke and children. Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether the data separated out non-smoking consumption methods like edibles and vaporizing. New York Post
🚨 Shameless Promotion 🚨
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
Spraying cannabis with DNA. A technology used to counterfeit goods could eventually be used to track regulated marijuana crops. A New York-based biotech company, which is used in the textiles, wine, and electronics industries, says its DNA technology could be used to identify legal marijuana and prevent illicit cannabis from making its way into the regulated market. “The tags are engineered to embed up to 250 bits of identifying information in the sequence of DNA nucleotides. This allows for billions of potential DNA signatures for plants and manufacturers.” Popular Mechanics
Eaze gets hit with lawsuit. The cannabis tech giant is facing a lawsuit that is seeking class-action status, which alleges the marijuana delivery service “violated federal law by spamming her and other customers with unsolicited text-message marketing… The lawsuit alleges that Eaze violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 1991 law that prohibits any company from making unsolicited calls or sending uninvited text messages to possible clients.” The suit estimates that there could be tens of thousands of consumers affected, but an attorney for the plaintiff wouldn’t comment whether additional plaintiffs have joined the suit. Marijuana Business Daily
Mergers, investments in the cannabis industry. Four major U.S. and Canadian cannabis businesses have merged to launch a multinational company: Baker Technologies, Sea Hunter, Briteside, and Sante Veritas Therapeutics are banding together to form TILT Holdings. The new company plans to list on the Canadian Stock Exchange. Marijuana Business Daily Gary Vaynerchuck has acquired a 50 percent stake in Green Street, a cannabis branding and marketing agency. The deal self-evaluated the agency to be worth $28 million pre-money. The Los Angeles Times Cannabis firm iAnthus secured at $50 million investment from Gotham Green Partners. Marijuana Business Daily Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries has signed a letter of intent for a reverse takeover of a Vancouver-based business in hopes of going public in Canada. Marijuana Business Daily
Elsewhere around the world… A local Estonian government adopted a new flag featuring a cannabis leaf. Kanepi, a region in southeastern Estonia, opened an online poll for a new flag. The name of the region is derived from the Estonian word for cannabis. More than 12,000 people voted for the cannabis-leaf flag design, despite that less than 5,000 people actually live in the region. The Kanepi council narrowly approved the cannabis flag design in an 9-8 vote. Reuters A U.S. State Department official said the U.S. government “is hopeful that the Philippines will continue to conduct its controversial ‘war on drugs’ campaign in accordance with the rule of law.” Manila Bulletin
That time when Tupac saved Snoop from a lack of weed. When Snoop Dogg appeared as a musical guest on SNL in the ’90s, Tupac Shakur also happened to be in town. Snoop complained that he didn’t have any weed, and Shakur replied, “Don’t worry about a motherfuckin’ thing, I’m comin’ to Saturday Night Live, I’ll be there in a minute,” Snoop recounted to Howard Stern. Shakur pulled up to SNL with a “big bag” of weed for Snoop and Madonna in tow, who he was dating at the time. “Bringing you weed [when you’re] taking him away from fucking Madonna … I don’t know that I would do that for anybody,” said Stern. Rolling Stone
Word on the States
- In New Jersey, state lawmakers introduced a bill to expand the medical marijuana program. Current expansion efforts could double the patient count in the state.
- In Oklahoma, law enforcement, business, and medical leaders join forces to oppose a medical marijuana ballot initiative.
- In Michigan, two family members were sentenced for a dispensary bribery scheme.
- In Colorado, a look at marijuana bills and their fate in the legislature.
- In Utah, the Davis county clerk is annoyed with both legalization supporters and opponents.
- In Florida, a look at the fight for smoked medical marijuana.
- In the Northern Marianas, the Senate approved a marijuana legalization bill, sending it to the House.
Word for Word
“This was one of the real discoveries of the study for us—the incredible amount of social support older women were providing in communities hit by incarceration. A lot of respondents were living with mothers or older sisters or grandmothers after they got out of prison. So much of the support and caring work is falling on older women. As we think about housing needs for people coming out of prison, we should think: ‘How should we support these women who are providing all this care?'” – Sociology researcher Bruce Western, The Pacific Standard