A man serving life for a marijuana offense hopes that Trump or the Supreme Court will help his case. A federal court ruled in favor of a medical marijuana patient who lost a job offer. Patients with debilitating conditions are being forced to choose between medical marijuana and housing assistance. Also: Jimmy Buffett struck a deal with a medical marijuana producer.
Will Trump or the Supreme Court help this man? Most inmates serving life sentences for marijuana offenses were convicted at the height of the war on drugs. Corvain Cooper was given a life sentence without parole for conspiracy to sell marijuana during the Obama administration. Now, his attorney is appealing his case to the Supreme Court and petitioning president Trump for clemency. “It’s absolutely heinous to think that people can now legally work in this field, and invest in it for something that someone else is serving life in prison for,” said one advocate. Even after then-attorney general Eric Holder wrote a memo directing D.A.s not to pursue enhanced sentences for non-violent drug offenders, the prosecutor in his case requested that Cooper be sentenced to life. Mercury News
Fired for using medical marijuana. A federal court ruled in favor of a woman who saw a job offer rescinded after testing positive for marijuana. The woman, Katelin Noffsinger, told her future employer that she was a patient in Connecticut’s medical marijuana program. Her job offer was rescinded when she failed a drug test, prompting Noffsinger to sue for employment discrimination. The court rejected several of the employers’ arguments, and found that Noffsinger’s off-duty medical marijuana use would not violate the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act. National Law Review A worker for the city of Miami claimed he was fired for failing a drug test, despite being a medical marijuana patient. He’s suing for employment discrimination. Miami New Times
What’s going on in Congress. A medical cannabis bill will become the first marijuana reform bill to “make it through the Judiciary Committee during Republican control of the Congress, ever,” according to the bill’s sponsor U.S. rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) The Medical Cannabis Research Act hopes to open up research on marijuana, but advocates have many grips with the bill, including a ban on those with drug convictions from being affiliated with cultivating research marijuana. Forbes A congressional committee removed a provision that would have allowed veterans access to medical marijuana in states where it’s legal. The measure was passed by the Senate, but ultimately removed in the final version of the bill. Marijuana Moment
Having to choose between medical marijuana and housing assistance. Patients with debilitating medical conditions are being forced to choose between medical marijuana and federal housing assistance. As medical cannabis laws have spread across the country, some patients are facing homelessness thanks to the conflict between state and federal law. The federal government maintains that any applicant who uses cannabis — even if it’s within a state’s medical marijuana program — would be denied. In one particularly egregious case, a 66-year-old disabled veteran was denied a Section 8 housing voucher after she replaced opioids with medical marijuana. “No one should have to choose between staying off opioids and a roof over their head,” said her attorney. Vice
Expungement not ‘on the agenda.’ As Canada moves towards becoming the first G7 nation to federally legalize marijuana, its government won’t even consider expunging cannabis charges. Earlier, the Liberals voted against a motion to pardon all cannabis offenses that won’t be illegal under the legalization law. Meanwhile, the country’s public safety minister has said that amnesty for minor cannabis offenses is “not an item that’s on the agenda at the moment.” In 2016, nearly 60 percent of all drug offenses in Canada were related to cannabis. At least 500,000 Canadians have been charged with marijuana possession. Maclean’s
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Retailers face CBD crackdown with defiance. After Ohio declared that selling CBD is illegal without a medical marijuana license, some retailers immediately pulled the products from their shelves. Others, however, remained defiant: Law enforcement “are going to have to charge me, and if they charge me, it’ll be for possession of marijuana, and when they test the product, they’ll find that it’s not a marijuana product. They could do that at any time,” said the owner of four stores that stock CBD products. While store owners argue that the 2014 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp, Ohio law defines marijuana as “all parts of a plant of the genus cannabis,” which includes industrial hemp. The Cincinnati Enquirer
Studies show… A behavioral economics study found that legalizing and regulating marijuana can “disrupt and potentially reduce illegal purchases.” Subjects were willing to spend more on legal cannabis compared to black-market marijuana, but only up to a point. Cannabis priced at more than $14 a gram drove respondents back to the black market. Marijuana Moment “Marijuana use is independently associated with increased sexual frequency and does not appear to impair sexual function,” finds researchers. One researcher hypothesized that the anti-anxiety effects of marijuana increases libido in women. Forbes
Overdose is the wrong word when it comes to cannabis. The word “overdose” often “means someone died or had to be resuscitated… But cannabis is very different as it’s not actually possible to ingest a lethal dose.” Emergency room physician Eddy Lang likes to use the term “self-poisoning,” because consuming too much cannabis cannot be lethal. Meanwhile, medical professionals seem to favor “cannabis toxicity” when an individual consumes more cannabis than intended. Lang explains the negative effects of too much marijuana are more psychological than physical: “They’ll become agitated, they’ll become paranoid. I wouldn’t think of this as an overdose but it’s definitely an adverse effect.” CBC News
Today in cannabis business news… Jimmy Buffett is licensing his Coral Reefer brand to Surterra Holdings, an Atlanta-based cannabis producer that operates 10 dispensaries in Florida. “Buffett considered deals with several cannabis companies but chose Surterra because it focused on health and wellness rather than recreation.” Palm Beach Post Can blockchain and cannabis save Puerto Rico’s economy? Bloomberg CWNevada, one of the Silver State’s largest cannabis companies, is facing six lawsuits for fraud, misappropriation of intellectual property, and failure to pay lenders. Las Vegas Review-Journal Alcohol wholesale company Breakthru Beverage Group is investing $9.2 million into a Canadian cannabis company. The Chicago Tribune
Former Nigerian leader urges drug reform. Former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo advocated for drug decriminalization and prioritizing substance-abuse treatment in West Africa. Despite strict drug laws in the region, drug use is on the rise. “The recommendations by Obasanjo’s West Africa Commission on Drugs come as a number of countries look to decriminalize drug use, especially marijuana, after decades of enforcement appear to have done little to curb it.” Reuters
Word on the States
- In California, nearly 20 percent of marijuana products in the state have failed lab tests. How anti-smoking policies are affecting cannabis-consuming renters.
- In New Jersey, a U.S. rep. calls marijuana legalization a “terrible mistake.”
- In Michigan, regulators will extend a medical marijuana deadline for the third time.
- In Vermont, the tax commissioner told the governor’s marijuana advisory group not to expect a marijuana tax windfall.
- In Pennsylvania, Lancaster will consider decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.
- In Rhode Island, Woonsocket will consider allowing commercial cannabis cultivation.
- In Texas, a look at marijuana legalization in the Senate race.
- In New Mexico, a look at marijuana policy in the Senate race.
- In Montana, the owner of a Billings dispensary dropped his lawsuit against the city.
- In Florida, a U.S. rep. joins an agriculture commissioner candidate in calling for marijuana policy reform. Miami police will finally begin issuing citations for marijuana possession instead of arresting people.
- In New Mexico, the medical cannabis industry has donated more than $20,000 to the Democratic candidate for governor.
- In Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation says the state’s new medical marijuana law has no effect on the tribe.
Word for Word
“When Chad Baker died from a lethal combination of cocaine and heroin, prosecutors charged Tommy Kosto, his friend and fellow drug user, with killing him—a tactic from the Reagan-era war on drugs that is gaining popularity around the country and making today’s opioid crisis even worse.” – Jack Shuler for The New Republic