How one man went from prison to becoming a doctor and is helping others do the same. Democratic voters approved pro-marijuana candidates in gubernatorial primaries. Washington is dealing with a big cannabis waste problem. Also: Cannabis regulators in Alaska are revisiting the possibility of marijuana lounges. 🌳
From prison to professor. Stanley Andrisse was once serving a 10-year sentence for a drug offense. Now, he’s an endocrinologist and professor at Johns Hopkins and Howard University. He helped lead the charge to remove a question about one’s criminal history from the Common Application: “A person who once sold illegal drugs on the street could become tomorrow’s medical doctor. But this can only happen if such a person, and the many others in similar situations, are given the chance,” he writes. Here, he tells his story and what other reforms are needed to give the formerly incarcerated the tools they need to get an education. The Conversation Related: Lawmakers in Idaho are learning that increasing incarceration doesn’t reduce crime. The state’s rising incarceration rate has been driven by low-level offenders who didn’t pose a risk to public safety in the first place. The Spokesman-Review
Pro-marijuana candidates win in gubernatorial primaries. In gubernatorial primaries around the country, voters endorsed pro-marijuana Democratic candidates. In Connecticut, Minnesota, and Vermont, Democratic nominees support legalizing adult-use marijuana. In Wisconsin, Tony Evers was the only major Democratic nominee who does not support marijuana legalization, but does support decriminalization. Their Republican opponents range from prohibitionists to ones that support some sort of marijuana reform. Marijuana Moment
Police to investigate pro-marijuana petition. A petition to allow medical marijuana in Troy, Mich. is being investigated for fraud after city officials discovered “significant irregularities.” It seems that many of the signatures turned in by Citizens for a Responsible Troy had been forged, leading the city to turn over the signatures to law enforcement for investigation. An attorney for the group said he was shocked to learn of the possible fraud, and said that the forged signatures “appear to have originated with a single petition circulator.” Detroit Free Press
No deal. A Canadian firm canceled an $8.3 million deal to purchase a marijuana facility in Maine as the businessman behind the operation is tied to a federal investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering. The businessman, Kevin Dean, hasn’t been charged with any crimes, but his business partner was indicted on two felonies. The Canadian company, C21 Investments, said the cancelation was due to the state’s marijuana regulatory law, which could limit the size of the market. Bangor Daily News
Police are not so fond of marijuana in Massachusetts. “[Legalization] won’t rid us of the illicit market. It will make it much worse,” said a police chief about Massachusetts’ legalization law. Police chiefs of several cities criticized the new policy and said that they expect drug-related violence to rise as a result of legalization. Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the legalization campaign said reducing the illicit market is one of the “primary benefits” of adult-use legalization: “Why would you buy it on the street in an illegal transaction when you’re not sure the product you’re buying doesn’t have poison in it.” The Boston Herald
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How to break in to the cannabis industry. Cannabis education platform Green Flower is hosting a virtual summit featuring 13 professionals from all corners of the industry talking about how they landed their dream jobs. The lineup includes everyone from lawyers to doctors to marketers to cultivators who have found their own niche in the industry. To watch the virtual event from August 6 – August 19, sign up here: Green Flower
The problem of cannabis-related waste. Washington state may pride itself on being environmentally friendly, but marijuana-related waste is increasingly becoming a problem. Plastic and mylar pot packaging are filling up gutters and waterways, while nutrients and fertilizers from grow operations are being dumped into the water. Meanwhile, organic waste is heading to landfills instead of composted. Entrepreneurs in the industry who want to be environmentally friendly have trouble finding recyclable packaging and composters willing to work with a cannabis business. “Many states are studying Washington’s laws to create a safe supply chain. But they, like consumers, are not focused on the combined effect of sending hundreds of millions of plastic tubes and Mylar bags into landfills every year.” The Washington Post
In other cannabis business news… Constellation Brands’ $4 billion deal with a Canadian cannabis company is indicative of greater interest from alcohol companies into the cannabis industry. Investors are eager to about the prospects of a whole new class of cannabis consumers who opt for infused beverages. Business Insider 🔒 The tobacco industry has been more hesitant of cannabis than the alcohol industry, though some tobacco companies have invested in marijuana operations. Bloomberg Massroots alleges that a short-seller impersonated someone from the SEC on a conference call to sink its stock. Shares of the company lost almost a quarter of their value in the past two days. “A rebuttal to the idea a short-seller is involved might be: What is there to short? The stock has traded at an average price of 30 cents in 2018 and closed Tuesday at 11 cents.” Bloomberg
Cannabis in Canada. Ontario says it won’t lose much money by abandoning plans for government-run cannabis stores. The agency running the effort had already leased space and hired some store managers before the plans were shelved. Ottawa Citizen The province’s finance minister says private retailers are the best way to curb the black market. The Toronto Star Health Canada created an exemption that will allow hemp farmers to harvest the flowers of the plant and store it before being able to sell it in October. Hemp Industry Daily Canadian cannabis company Tilray said its stock has attracted “blue-chip institutional investors” who invested in a cannabis company for the first time. Bloomberg
Mexico-US fight against cartels. DEA officials announced a new strategy with Mexican officials to combat drug cartels. “The new plans include putting greater emphasis on attacking cartels’ financial infrastructure and calling for a new enforcement group based in Chicago that will concentrate on international investigations of cartels.” The Associated Press Related: The trial of El Chapo in Brooklyn is complicating things for commuters who have to deal with a shutdown of the Brooklyn Bridge every time he goes to court. The judge in the case said he was working with the U.S. Marshals on a solution. The New York Times
Fact-checking stoner movies. “Mary Jane, reefer, the Devil’s lettuce … call it what you will, marijuana has played a huge role in movies for a long time. But how accurately do these movies portray pot and the people who smoke it?” The latest in Vulture’s movie fact-checking series delves into whether these Hollywood movies got right. Vulture / New York
A request from Word on the Tree: Next year, SXSW will feature its first “cannabusiness” track. Vote for this editor’s panel, where she’ll be joined by Lanese Martin of the Hood Incubator and Sonia Erika of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council to talk about the evolving cannabis industry and how various programs are hoping to elevate communities harmed by the drug war. Vote here: SXSW
Word on the States
- In California, cannabis tax revenue increased, but are still off target.
- In Alaska, marijuana regulators are taking comment on a proposal to allow onsite marijuana use. Regulators penalized a second cannabis event for allowing public consumption.
- In Colorado, the decline in medical marijuana sales is accelerating.
- In Massachusetts, Holyoke councilors are being scrutinized for campaign donations from marijuana companies.
- In Oklahoma, law enforcement agencies are confused about marijuana. State officials say an injunction would delay implementation.
- In Utah, marijuana opponents filed another lawsuit in an attempt to remove a medical marijuana initiative from the ballot.
- In Louisiana, medical marijuana is expected to be available by November.
- In New Jersey, the Egg Harbor city council approved a resolution allowing a boat-maker to become a medical marijuana facility.
- In Michigan, Ionia’s city council moves forward with its medical marijuana ordinance.
- In Ohio, the industry is staffing up. Advocates resubmitted a local de-penalization petition.
- In Kentucky, a pro-marijuana candidate is running for mayor of Louisville.
- In Connecticut, more than 70 overdosed on synthetic cannabinoid products in one day.
Word for Word
“The ‘relatable’ story journalists and editors tend to seek—of a good girl or guy (usually, in this crisis, white) gone bad because pharma greed led to overprescribing—does not accurately characterize the most common story of opioid addiction. Most opioid patients never get addicted and most people who do get addicted didn’t start their opioid addiction with a doctor’s prescription. The result of this skewed public conversation around opioids has been policies focused relentlessly on cutting prescriptions, without regard for providing alternative treatment for either pain or addiction.” – Maia Szalavitz for The Columbia Journalism Review