A man serving life for a cannabis offense has one last hope: federal reform. Mayors in New Jersey band together to advocate for criminal justice reforms and equity in cannabis legalization. A New York prosecutor will consider wiping out tens of thousands of past cannabis convictions. Also: Why California’s cannabis black market is doing better than ever. 🌳
Last hope for pot prisoners: federal decriminalization. By all accounts, John Knock was an excellent candidate for clemency: He was sentenced to life without parole for a non-violent marijuana offense — his first. He taught classes in prison and became a mentor to incarcerated fathers. While behind bars, Knock watched as people profited from the same activities he had been incarcerated for. But he was denied clemency by the Obama administration. Here’s a look at the pitfalls of Obama’s clemency initiative for drug offenders and the plight of fellow marijuana offenders: “All I can do is hope that society will go, ‘Hey, let’s just change this.’ That’s always in the back of my mind… It’s been in the back of my mind for the last twenty-one years,” he said. Cannabis Wire
Mayors of NJ band together on marijuana policy. The mayors of several New Jersey cities sent a letter to state lawmakers warning them that they would not support any legalization legislation unless it contains criminal expungement and social equity provisions. Newark mayor Ras Baraka criticized states that legalized cannabis without expungement: “There were people in jail for 10 years while people are making millions of dollars. If that’s not the height of hypocrisy, I don’t know what else is.” The mayors also advocated for supporting those convicted of cannabis crimes to enter the industry once it’s legal. Pix 11 Read the text of the mayors’ letter here: ABC 7
Brooklyn DA could wipe out tens of thousands of cannabis convictions. “It’s a little unfair to say we’re no longer prosecuting these cases, but to have these folks carry these convictions for the rest of their lives,” said Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez. The prosecutor is inviting those with convictions to request a dismissal, a plan that could affect up to 20,000 cases since 1990. He expects his office will grant a “great majority” of the requests. While similar efforts have been undertaken by local D.A.s in states that have legalized marijuana, Gonzalez’s plan would wipe out “thousands of convictions obtained under a law that still stands.” The Associated Press Related: New York City’s new public smoking policy creates loopholes that could worsen racial disparities in marijuana arrests. Cannabis Now
The feds charge marijuana investment firm with fraud. Greenview Investment Partners, a marijuana investment firm, is being charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for lying to investors. The firm had shut down over the summer during an FBI investigation and federal prosecutors for the Central District of California is pursuing a parallel investigation. Dallas Business Journal Along with the charges, the SEC also warned investors to be wary of the marijuana industry. Marijuana Business Daily
2nd bank says no to Florida candidate for supporting marijuana reform. Nicole Fried, a Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner, is losing her bank account for the second time in three weeks because of her work advocating for medical marijuana expansion in the state. Fried played a crucial role in passing legislation to allow those with terminal illness to access medical marijuana. In August, Wells Fargo closed her account citing a policy to not “provide services to marijuana businesses or for activities related to those businesses.” Now, a second bank has told her campaign that it is terminating her account. Miami Herald
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California’s marijuana black market is doing better than ever. The majority of the state’s marijuana market is still underground, says the executive director of a cannabis trade group. The costs of compliance are daunting for many who want to enter the legal market and hefty taxes encourage consumers to stay in the black market. Meanwhile, those that still operate in the illicit market say that even licensed retail outlets “‘double dipping’… working as an above-board shop out the front door while selling illegal weed out the back to supplement their income.” Meanwhile, regulators’ attempts to crack down on unlicensed businesses haven’t made much of a dent. Vice
Studies say… Seniors are increasingly consuming cannabis, found a new study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Marijuana use doubled over a decade among middle-aged adults, and older adults saw a seven-fold increase over the same period. The study’s senior author said most of the adults are not first-time users. “I don’t think we need to worry about millions of older people trying weed for the first time,” he said. CNN A study out of the Tel Aviv Medical Center found that medical marijuana could help treat chronic nerve pain by reducing connections in parts of the brain that process pain. “THC may alleviate pain by disrupting signals between these pain processing pathways,” said the study’s author. Newsweek
In cannabis business news… A growing number of federal racketeering lawsuits against cannabis businesses are worrying some in the industry. Marijuana Business Daily A Colorado cannabis company is working on editing the cannabis genome. “Is this Dankenstein’s monster or the future of cannabinoid-based medicine?” Cannabis Now
Cannabis in Canada. The NHL’s deputy commissioner said the league will not be changing its rules on marijuana due to legalization in Canada. While the league currently tests for marijuana, a positive test doesn’t necessarily lead to suspension. The league has seven teams that are based in the country. The Associated Press Bus drivers in the country will be subject to differing rules on drug testing, depending on what city they work in. The Province
Elsewhere around the world… Former Mexico president Vicente Fox says he expects the country to legalize marijuana in 2019. He also argued that cannabis should be added to the North American Free Trade Agreement, like other produce. Portland Press Herald Riot police broke up a pro-marijuana demonstration in Bogota, Colombia. Dozens showed up for the “smoke-a-thon” to advocate for cannabis. Clashes broke out between police and demonstrators, resulting in the arrests of at least half a dozen individuals. The Associated Press
Incidental Boogie. When stoned, the everyday can quickly become surreal and bizarre. This week, we’ve provided a film noir-inspired soundtrack for those experiences. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In Alaska, marijuana tax revenues continue to grow, reaching $1.37 million in July.
- In Massachusetts, the top cannabis regulator says retail recreational marijuana stores could open in “early fall.”
- In New York, cell phone data undermines a woman’s narrative of police raping her after a marijuana arrest.
- In Missouri, the governor thinks the medical marijuana ballot initiative has a good chance of passing.
- In Michigan, a look at the final language of the recreational legalization ballot initiative.
- In Virginia, a brewery is supporting marijuana reform by hosting a five-day festival on the topic.
- In Florida, Republican voters support their pro-MMJ congressman.
- In Utah, the largest public health policy board voted to remain neutral on medical marijuana legalization.
Word for Word
“‘It looked like a dog kennel,’ Dawson said. ‘They were standing in a cage with their belongings, and I felt this overpowering feeling that this was not created in the image of God. There was no greater purpose here. This was the stripping of human rights and human dignity.’ The prison staff had their reasons. Most of the time the process is avowedly about maintaining safety and security, and even though women’s prisons are far less violent than men’s, and the majority of incarcerated women are there for drug offenses or theft, guards are trained to treat everyone with the same scrutiny and caution. But what does that produce, and is it necessary?” – Adam Skolnick for Longreads
“Tesla shares crashed 8 percent on Friday as two of its senior executives quit, just hours after the electric carmaker’s chief executive Elon Musk sparked concern by smoking marijuana on a live web show… Asked about the wisdom of smoking marijuana while he is under investigation by the SEC for the ‘take private’ tweet, Musk told the Guardian by email: ‘Guardian is the most insufferable newspaper on planet Earth’.” – Rupert Neate and Julia Carrie Wong for The Guardian
“It’s quite a good strong smell.” – Prince William on seized contraband, The Daily Mail