Trump pardoned Alice Marie Johnson one week after Kim Kardashian’s visit to the White House. Canada is set to become the first G7 nation to legalize marijuana. Dennis Rodman is eyeing a trip to Singapore to promote a marijuana cryptocurrency in a country that executes people for marijuana offenses. Also: A study found that men who have used psychedelics are much less likely to be violent towards their partners. 🌳
Trump pardons drug offender. President Trump has pardoned Alice Marie Johnson, who was sentenced to life without parole for a first-time, non-violent drug offense. Axios Kim Kardashian met with the president to advocate for Johnson last week. “The pardon is all the stranger because it goes against the broader policy that Trump has been pushing for drug dealers and traffickers… it adds to the unusual string of pardons that Trump has carried out since he took office last year — typically to friends or allies or, as seems to be true in Kardashian’s case, causes embraced by friends and allies.” Vox
Cannabis in Canada. All eyes are on Canada as the country prepares to become the first G7 nation to legalize adult-use marijuana. A Senate vote scheduled for tomorrow is expected to ratify a bill to legalize recreational cannabis. Colorado’s top public health official is interested to see how the legalization experiment plays out on a bigger stage, especially its effects on opioid use. The Guardian The Senate added an amendment meant to keep organized crime out of the regulated market. CBC News A medical marijuana patient filed a complaint over how he was treated by an agent at a Toronto airport. CBC News Deloitte predicts that Canadians will buy as much as $7 billion of marijuana in 2019. CBC News
Wall Street keeps quiet about its cannabis investments. While financial institutions are not investing in the cannabis industry yet, plenty of individual investors see it as an opportunity not to be missed. But they’re keeping their marijuana investments hush-hush: “The stigma of shorting housing I never thought about. The thought of going long cannabis, I have. It’s more of a cultural adoption,” said one. Meanwhile, many with stakes in the industry wouldn’t talk on the record. “The reasons for anonymity included concern that publicly acknowledging the investments could negatively impact their personal and professional lives.” Bloomberg
U.S. Senate adopts non-binding hemp resolution. For the third year in a row, the Senate has approved a resolution touting the value of industrial hemp. “Despite the legitimate uses of hemp, many agricultural producers of the United States are prohibited under current law from growing hemp,” it reads. While the legislation does nothing to actually legalize hemp, there are strong indications that comprehensive hemp legislation could succeed this year. Forbes
Illinois lawmakers want to use marijuana to combat the opioid crisis. The state legislature approved a bill that would allow medical marijuana to be used in place of opioid painkillers. There are about 37,000 MMJ patients in the state now. Meanwhile, 8 million opioid prescriptions were filled in 2015, so the measure could significantly expand the medical marijuana program. While the governor has expressed opposition to medical marijuana expansion efforts, “there are some indications he may change his mind in this case.” The measure would also eliminate some of the bureaucratic hurdles to becoming a licensed patient, including fingerprints and criminal background checks. The Chicago Tribune
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The case of a Phoenix marijuana dispensary. Two residents who live near a recently approved medical marijuana dispensary are suing the Phoenix Board of Adjustment for approving the location of the business. At first, this story seems like a case of marijuana NIMBYism. But the two residents collected affidavits from more than two dozen neighborhood residents who said they did not sign a petition of support for the retail outlets. The lawsuit claims the board ignored their evidence that showed the dispensary submitted forged and falsified information to gain approval. “This dispensary case and three others in the past three months involved the same group of lobbyists and community outreach personnel. When that group worked for the dispensary, the Board of Adjustment granted the needed approvals. When the same group worked against dispensaries, the board denied approvals.” The Arizona Republic
For a decriminalization ordinance, the devil’s in the details. The Bethlehem, Penn. city council voted unanimously in favor of decriminalizing small possession of marijuana in the law’s first reading. But the measure creates a quandary: “Bethlehem [is] split between two counties and the jurisdictions of two district attorneys who differ on pot decriminalization.” The city’s police chief said he may need to enforce different marijuana laws on different sides of the same city, which could create other legal challenges. The Morning Call
Rodman eyeing Singapore trip. “Dennis Rodman is planning on being in Singapore during President Trump’s summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week… [which] could well be simply as a publicity stunt for a sponsoring company called PotCoin.” His presence would reportedly be focused on promoting the marijuana cryptocurrency in a nation that has some of the harshest drug laws in the world. The death penalty for certain drug offenses (including marijuana trafficking) is mandatory and are mostly carried out on foreigners. The Washington Post
Elsewhere around the world… Five of Northern Ireland’s main political parties are supporting efforts to increase access to medical cannabis oil in the U.K. Representatives from the parties recently attended a meeting organized by the mother of Billy Caldwell, whose doctor was recently banned by government health officials from prescribing cannabis oil to the 12-year-old epilepsy patient. Belfast Telegraph In Jamaica, the minister of agriculture suggested that the country legalize and regulate marijuana and industrial hemp to stimulate the economy. “We have the lands and should use this opportunity to tap into this lucrative market.” The Jamaica Gleaner
Psychedelics reduce partner violence in men, finds study. Men who have used psychedelic drugs are half as likely to be violent towards intimate partners, found a new study. “Although use of certain drugs like alcohol, methamphetamine or cocaine is associated with increased aggression and partner violence, use of psychedelics appears to have the opposite effect,” said the study’s lead author. The researchers said that “psychedelics help manage negative emotions, and thereby keep violent tendencies at bay.” The Star
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, marijuana license applications are stacking up as regulators begin to review them.
- In California, most D.A. incumbents successfully held their seats against criminal justice-reform minded candidates. Pro-cannabis politicians won their primaries. A San Francisco supervisor introduced a ballot proposal for a local cannabis tax.
- In Colorado, the governor vetoed a bill that would’ve allowed publicly traded companies to invest in the state’s marijuana industry and vetoed a bill to allow medical marijuana for autism.
- In Ohio, the state will miss its September deadline for medical marijuana. An advocate plans to introduce a recreational ballot initiative and support hemp and marijuana expungement legislation.
- In Michigan, voters will decide on marijuana legalization at the ballot box. One lawmaker plans to introduce legislation to legalize industrial hemp.
- In Florida, a judge lifted a stay on smokable medical marijuana, directing the state to make it available to patients.
- In Utah, the Mormon church opposing a medical marijuana initiative owns $1 billion worth of Big Pharma stocks. Meet the man fighting to keep medical marijuana off the ballot.
- In Louisiana, the lawmaker who authored a medical marijuana expansion bill is hopeful about recreational legalization.
- In Minnesota, a look at hurdles for the medical marijuana industry.
- In Delaware, lawmakers will likely vote on marijuana legalization before the end of the session.
- In Arkansas, Little Rock’s Board of Directors rejected a proposal to make marijuana enforcement the lowest priority for the police.
- In New Jersey, how municipal courts treat people like ATMs.
Word for Word
“Even in states where medical and adult cannabis use are legal, veterans are stuck in a Catch-22. The VA is a federal health care system that does not recognize state cannabis laws, leaving veterans unable to pursue or openly discuss this treatment option with their VA primary care providers and placing them at risk of losing hard-earned benefits because of the Schedule I classification of cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act.” – Former Navy SEAL officer, founder of Veterans Cannabis Project Nick Etten for Houston Chronicle
“Oklahoma now has the highest incarceration rate in the U.S., unseating Louisiana from its long-held position as “the world’s prison capital.” By comparison, states like New York and Massachusetts appear progressive, but even these states lock people up at higher rates than nearly every other country on earth. Compared to the rest of the world, every U.S. state relies too heavily on prisons and jails to respond to crime.” – Peter Wagner and Wendy Sawyer for Prison Policy Initiative