Jeff Sessions keeps making excuses for holding up marijuana research. A federal judge pledged to stop re-imprisoning people for smoking weed. 12-year-old epilepsy patient Billy Caldwell would be required to make a four-hour round trip twice a day to access his cannabis oil in an “utterly crazy” situation. Also: Canada’s Prince Edward Island will allow marijuana use in hotels. 🌳
How Sessions is blocking marijuana research. Attorney general Jeff Sessions is intervening “in a process that has historically not involved the attorney general” to block expanding marijuana research. The DEA announced in 2016 that it would license additional growers of research marijuana, two dozen applicants are still waiting to hear back on their license applications. While lawmakers have pressed Sessions on the holdup, he continues to make excuses for why the agency can’t move forward on those applications. Reason Case in point: Researchers in Utah were hopeful that they could deliver results for a state-funded marijuana clinical study before the end of March. Now, thanks to delays in the federal approvals process, they may not even be able to deliver the results by November, when voters head to the polls to decide on legalizing medical marijuana. “These were researchers who had worked with marijuana before, who had gone through all the processes before, and it still took… close to a year and a half to get through all of the (federal) processes to get a study started,” said the executive director of the research initiative. Deseret News
‘No useful purpose’ for re-imprisoning people for smoking weed, says federal judge. Federal judge for the Eastern District of New York Jack B. Weinstein pledged to no longer re-imprison people for consuming cannabis. In an opinion, he wrote that there is “no useful purpose” for sending people back to prison “whose only illegal conduct is following the now largely socially acceptable habit of marijuana use.” He also recognized the racially disparate impact of the practice: “In this court, the majority of supervisees who face a violation charge for marijuana use are African- Americans… Since an African-American is eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana use, his or her chance of a supervised release violation for marijuana is much greater than a white person’s.” The New York Times
FDA rejected a request from an anti-marijuana group. Drug Watch International, a group that opposes marijuana legalization, wanted the FDA to place “marijuana and its derivatives on a list of restricted substances that are not ‘generally recognized as safe and effective.'” An FDA official wrote that the move would not be “necessary for the protection of public health.” The decision does not change marijuana’s legal status. As the agency pointed out to the group, it “already has adequate authority to remove unapproved new OTC drugs containing marijuana or THC from the market.” Forbes
Senator could use a lesson on science and cannabis. Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) whose state just legalized medical marijuana at the ballot box, is still opposed to liberalizing cannabis laws. “I hear some people say it just needs more research and there’s not enough research. Well, if there’s been three-quarters of a billion dollars in research from federal research the last three years alone… they still say it’s a Schedule One drug,” he argued. Lankford seems unaware that there is a lack of clinical data, and that much of the research he cites is focused on drug abuse, not medical benefits. To date, there has been exactly one FDA-approved clinical trial on whole-plant cannabis — one that is being stymied by intransigence at the VA. The Ada News
Another obstacle in Billy Caldwell’s return home. The 12-year-old epilepsy patient in the U.K. whose story has galvanized public support for medical marijuana has hit another snag in his effort to return home with his medicine. On Thursday, officials announced that the boy could return home to Northern Ireland after the health department granted an emergency license for Caldwell to continue his treatment. But Belfast Trust said he would only have access to his cannabis oil at a hospital in Belfast, forcing the child make “two four-hour round trips twice a day from home in Castlederg,” said his mother Charlotte. “Billy needs his meds at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. each day. It takes a few seconds to administer. I know far more about administering his meds than the hospital; I’ve been doing it for years. It’s utterly crazy that Billy is being subjected to this sort of child abuse.” The Guardian
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Legalization fails to make Arizona ballot. After a legalization ballot initiative failed by a slim margin in 2016, a new effort to bring the issue to voters failed to even get itself on the ballot. The head of the legalization campaign said it managed to gather about 75,000 signatures for his petition (it needed more than 150,000 to make the ballot). “The campaign may have been doomed from the start, what with no money from those that might have an interest in legal marijuana, like owners of existing medical marijuana dispensaries. That’s because his initiative would have ended the monopoly these dispensaries now have and allowed any retailer to sell marijuana to adults.” Arizona Daily Star
How new regulations are hurting California businesses. A Sacramento dispensary owner says his store is down 60 to 75 percent of product thanks to new regulations kicking in on July 1. “Even if people have the proper packaging and the proper labeling and everything, the problem is it’s a backlog at the test labs,” he explained. Regulators deny that’s the case. KCRA Marijuana festival organizers who were looking forward to recreational legalization are now finding it harder to operate after the state legalized adult-use cannabis. “With local authorities now able to block such festivals even from the limited venues where they’re permitted by new state rules, there weren’t any state-sanctioned events in Southern California during the first half of the year. And none are on the horizon for the rest of 2018.” It’s not just cannabis businesses that are taking a hit — hotels, restaurants and other businesses that saw a boost from marijuana festivals are concerned too. The Mercury News
A cautionary tale of state-licensed marijuana businesses. Sweet Leaf, which was once one of the largest marijuana retailers in Colorado, lost all 26 of its retail and cultivation licenses. An administrative law judge found that the cannabis company had been conducting an illegal “looping” scheme that allowed its customers to buy marijuana multiple times a day. On Thursday, the executive director of Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses ordered the company to destroy all of its marijuana products in the next 15 days. She said the company’s “illegal actions undermine the entire regulatory framework” for marijuana in the state. Marijuana Business Daily
Cannabis in Canada. Prince Edward Island will allow the use of marijuana in hotel rooms, opening the door for the province to capitalize on cannabis tourism when recreational sales begin in October. Marijuana Business Daily Lawmakers may have delayed allowing marijuana edibles in the soon-to-be legal market. But food brands are hoping to capitalize on the munchies. CTV News Alberta announced 13 companies that received provincial licenses for cultivation. Calgary Herald The Ontario-based cannabis company Canopy Growth has launched a Latin American subsidiary. Marijuana Business Daily
Elsewhere around the world… What have we learned from Uruguay, the first country in the world to federally legalize marijuana? Not much, it turns out. It turns out researchers in the country face many similar hurdles as their counterparts in the U.S. — onerous bureaucratic hurdles, difficulty finding funding. Cannabis Wire Mexico president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has a different strategy to tackle the drug war and organized crime. He will present a plan for negotiating peace “as the country reels from a militarized drug war that has produced tens of thousands of deaths over the past 12 years.” “We will propose decriminalization, create truth commissions, we will attack the causes of poverty, we will give scholarships to the youth and we will work in the field to get them out of the drug situation,” said his proposed interior minister. Reuters
Kicker Conspiracy. If you’re rolling up, smoking, and also have a tendency to watch TV while doing so, the World Cup is pretty much unavoidable. Regardless of whether you’re a fan or not, it’s hard to avoid getting sucked into all the excitement and drama it brings. This week’s playlist hopes to capture the seductiveness of soccer in just 10 tracks. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In Colorado, the governor announced the appointment of a new director of marijuana coordination.
- In Massachusetts, a look at the holdup of the state’s rollout of its recreational marijuana program.
- In California, Newport Beach officials accuse a church of operating an illegal marijuana dispensary.
- In Oklahoma, activists are working on two more marijuana ballot initiatives. The fledgling MMJ industry faces a conundrum of obtaining seeds.
- In Wisconsin, most Democratic gubernatorial candidates support legalizing marijuana.
Word for Word
“Congratulations to your country [Canada]… God, you guys rock. You really saw the importance of [marijuana] in medicine and research and legalization. You didn’t give into the fear. You guys are the world leaders right now. I’m really jealous.” – Melissa Etheridge, Calgary Herald
“Spend some time searching the official federal database of geographic landmarks (we’re not actually encouraging you to do this) and you’re bound to come across some delightfully colorful names… Bong Bridge. Technically named after U.S. Army Air Corps pilot Richard Ira Bong, the bridge connects Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. But come on… are you really trying to tell me that local college students don’t go out of their way to toke on Bong Bridge?… For what it’s worth, Toke Point looks like a pretty decent smoke spot, not that we can necessarily encourage that sort of thing.” – Kyle Jaeger for Marijuana Moment