How marijuana legalization could help tip some key Congressional races in November. After media inquiries, a county judge in Georgia walked back a 12-month sentence for a man who possessed 1.5 grams of cannabis. Sri Lanka is bringing back the death penalty to “replicate the success” of Duterte’s war on drugs. Also: Maine lawmakers override their governor’s veto to expand medical marijuana access. 🌳
How cannabis could help tip key races. While opponents to marijuana legalization “scoff at the notion that legal cannabis mobilizes voters,” others beg to differ: some voters, political strategists, and lawmakers think that marijuana could be a deciding issue in tight Senate races where Democrats are hoping to hang onto their seats or beat anti-cannabis Republican incumbents. “It absolutely will [tip a race] in states where it’s on the ballot… everybody knows someone who needs medical marijuana, and they’re desperate to get them the help they deserve,” said Trump’s Florida director of field operations. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) agreed: “In a close race, [marijuana] could absolutely determine the outcome.” Politico Magazine
Republicans and cannabis. The fight to legalize marijuana is moving from the liberal coasts to more conservative states, illustrating “the unusual coalitions of support on which each side relies.” In conservative-leaning states, marijuana reform is set to appear on the ballot in November: Michigan (recreational) and Utah (medical). Activists are working on getting medical and recreational initiatives on the ballot in Missouri, and recreational legalization efforts are underway in Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Ohio. The Hill Meanwhile, Republican congressmen have blocked dozens of marijuana-related amendments, including increasing veterans’ access to medical cannabis and protecting industrial hemp farmers’ water rights. Marijuana Moment
Today in absurd sentences. A Georgia man was forthcoming about his marijuana possession when he was pulled over at a traffic stop. “I do have a small personal amount that I smoke recreationally,” said Robert Stovall when an officer asked if he had any marijuana. “It’s a tiny little bit, like a few nuggets… He was as nice as can be [about] it,” the police officer said to a fellow cop. Stovall had 1.5 grams of cannabis, and a judge sentenced him to 12 months in jail. “We’re talking about a few Cheerios of marijuana and they’re wanting to put this guy in jail, lock him in a steel cage for 12 months because he possessed [what] grows naturally… The only reason Mr. Stovall was sentenced to 12 months in jail is because he’s poor,” said Stovall’s attorney. Meanwhile, marijuana possession has been decriminalized by half a dozen Georgia counties. Initially, the judge defended the sentence, citing Stovall’s past marijuana possession arrests. After media inquiries, the judge changed his sentence to time served: 57 days. WXIA
How the promise of cannabis taxes could shift voters’ stance on legalization. An analysis of how Oregon counties voted on marijuana bans shows that the promise of tax revenue could change people’s minds on the issue. Some localities voted against recreational legalization in 2014. But those counties saw a stark shift after marijuana bans and marijuana taxes were put on the ballot. The data “suggests that people who opposed legalization in 2014 were willing to let such businesses in their community in exchange for tax revenues in 2016.” Voters seem more likely to allow marijuana dispensaries in their communities if they get a share of the tax revenue. Cannabis Wire
Federal prosecutor announces marijuana enforcement priorities. U.S. attorney for Massachusetts outlined how his office will focus on federal marijuana enforcement. “I will not effectively immunize the residents of the Commonwealth from federal marijuana enforcement,” Andrew Lelling said in a statement. He said his office will focus on “overproduction,” “targeted sales to minors,” and “organized crime and interstate transportation of drug proceeds.” Mass Live
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The Maze. Our friends at Mannada have launched The Maze, a weekly newsletter highlighting all the cannabis events you need to know. The listings include something for everyone, whether you’re a professional looking for networking events, an advocate looking to get politically involved, or just a casual consumer looking to meet like-minded people. From New York City to Toronto to Amsterdam, The Maze hopes to help the cannabis community stay on top of the burgeoning cannabis event scene. Submit your event or sign up for the newsletter here: Mannada
The rise of GMO cannabis. A bioengineer in Germany says “[cannabis] is a biochemical gold rush right now.” With the FDA approval of CBD drug Epidiolex, researchers in the U.S. are hoping that the DEA will reschedule CBD (rather than just rescheduling Epidiolex). The move would lessen research barriers into the cannabinoid. Meanwhile, researchers in Canada are seeing an increased interest in cannabinoids engineered from yeast and bacteria. “For minor cannabinoids, there is a huge need for synthetic biology,” explained one Australian chemist. Nature
Dubious health claims. After California legalized recreational cannabis, the state has been flooded with some dubious claims about the health benefits of marijuana. It’s not a problem unique to cannabis-legal states — the internet is rife with assertions like “cannabis cures cancer” and “virtually every disease that afflicts humans.” One of the most popular claims about cannabis on Twitter is that cannabis “cures seven out of 10 cancer patients.” While many a scientific study has shown promise for marijuana in the treatment of cancer, “the papers do not provide clear, replicable evidence that marijuana can cure any form of cancer.” The Los Angeles Times
Today in cannabis business news… Baby boomers are turning to second careers in their retirements: working in the cannabis industry. A 74-year-old Washington man who is a part owner of a cannabis farm says it keeps him “sharp” while he battles Parkinson’s: “I do like the idea of remaining relevant, active, having a passion.” Reuters Israel’s tech industry is taking on America’s opioid crisis thanks to its advanced weed-tech sector. Wired The CEO of MJ Freeway says the company has “tremendous amount of circumstantial evidence” that a competitor orchestrated cyberattacks against its seed-to-sale platform. Marijuana Business Daily Canopy Growth is acquiring Hiku Brands, paying a premium for the shares. Green Market Report
Elsewhere around the world… The mother of an epileptic 6-year-old boy was able to bring THC oil into the U.K. after receiving a special license from the government. BBC After the ‘Dagga Couple’ of South Africa endured a police raid, they said they had three choices: “admit guilt, pay a bribe or challenge the law.” Here’s a closer look at their case challenging marijuana prohibition. Ozy After decades of moratorium on capital punishment, Sri Lanka announced it would start hanging drug dealers in a bid to “replicate the success” of the Philippines’ drug war. The Straits Times A lawmaker in Brazil introduced legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana. Marijuana Moment
Word on the States
- In California, the number of cannabis arrests is falling dramatically. The governor signed a bill allowing the use of Epidiolex.
- In Maine, lawmakers override the governor’s veto of medical marijuana reforms.
- In Oklahoma, health officials voted to prohibit smokable forms of medical marijuana at dispensaries.
- In Arkansas, regulators issued five licenses to grow medical marijuana.
- In Massachusetts, the state will likely face a serious shortage of cannabis when adult-use sales begin. A town council overrode the mayor’s veto, imposing a ban on recreational marijuana.
- In Colorado, regulators consider new rules for cannabis nasal sprays, suppositories, and eye drops.
- In New Hampshire, the state Supreme Court will consider a medical marijuana workers’ comp case.
- In Wisconsin, at least 12 counties will vote on nonbinding cannabis advisory referendums.
- In New York, a Congressional candidate spoke about her past use of marijuana and cocaine.
- In Hawaii, the governor vetoed a bill that would’ve allowed using medical marijuana to treat opioid addiction.
- In North Dakota, marijuana advocates submitted petition signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.
- In Pennsylvania, the governor signed a bill to seal low-level, nonviolent crimes after 10 years.
Word for Word
“Years ago I often referred to the sector as a ‘Wild West,’ with very few companies that inspired confidence as viable entities. For the most part, there were shady penny-stock operators masquerading as cannabis companies, with no revenue and not even a real business. I spent most of my time warning investors, making little effort to do the type of investment analysis I had applied regularly in my pre-cannabis life. Today’s environment is radically different.” – Alan Brochstein for Leafly
“In India, practitioners of tantric sex incorporated cannabis into their acrobatics as early as 700AD. In the 1930s, Fusion found, young Russian brides used a mixture of cannabis and lamb fat to reduce the discomfort of losing their virginity. Today the cannabis industry is willing to attribute almost any positive attribute to the plant. But when it comes to sex, insiders speak with conviction.” – Alex Halperin for The Guardian