How members of the Congressional Black Caucus teamed up with lawmakers in the Freedom Caucus to help those with marijuana convictions. The House Judiciary Committee advanced a medical cannabis research bill. Manhattan’s D.A. dismissed more than 3,000 marijuana cases. Also: Neil deGrasse Tyson tells everyone to let Elon Musk “get high if he wants to get high.” 🌳
Bipartisan support for sealing records of marijuana offenders. The Clean Slate Act has brought together lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, who describe themselves as “strange bedfellows” on the issue of criminal justice reform and marijuana policy. The bill, which would seal the records of non-violent marijuana offenders one year after they finish serving their sentences, has brought together members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the far-right Freedom Caucus. “For people that are against this, I suggest they tour prisons,” said U.S. rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa), who introduced the bill alongside U.S. rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) “We have people who are at the extremes almost of the continuum, and I think that’s an unusual thing especially in today’s [political] climate,” said Rochester. CBS News
House committee advanced a medical cannabis bill. The House Judiciary Committee advanced the Medical Cannabis Research Act, a bill that would expand marijuana research and increase access to medical marijuana for veterans. It’s the second time a congressional committee has approved standalone marijuana legislation. Drug policy advocates and reform-minded lawmakers attempted to strip the bill of a provision that bans those with drug convictions from being involved with research cannabis cultivation operations. “We urge you to strike this unnecessary, punitive ban on individuals with previous drug law violations… [it would] compound this injustice by preventing the very people who have been harmed from participating,” read a letter from advocacy organizations to the committee. They were ultimately unsuccessful, and bill sponsor U.S. rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said that the issue “isn’t important” to him. Forbes
Manhattan DA to dismiss more than 3,000 marijuana cases. Manhattan’s district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. presented a motion to dismiss 3,042 cases of low-level marijuana offenses dating back to 1978. “Outstanding warrants for these low-level cases drive law enforcement and our communities apart,” said Vance in court on Wednesday. The judge granted the dismissals, and the cases will be sealed in 90 days. “The ratio of men and women of color to white individuals prosecuted for this crime in Manhattan is 15 to 1… the consequence is no longer proportionate to the offense of smoking marijuana,” said Vance. CNN
New Jersey’s legalization bill expected any day now. A coalition of advocacy groups have pushed hard for an equity-minded marijuana legalization bill in the state. Their efforts were buoyed by governor Phil Murphy’s focus on the social justice aspects of legalization. One advocate said the biggest pushback came on the issue of expunging past pot offenses once the drug is legalized. “Automatic expungement is timely and costly — and we understand. But if the state found money to build jails and prisons and ruin people’s lives then we can find the money to make automatic expungement happen. I think the will is there,” said New Jersey deputy state director for Drug Policy Alliance Meagan Glaser. Cannabis Wire
Updates from Oregon, the land of super cheap weed. Josephine county, which has struggled to regulate commercial cannabis production, tried to sue the state of Oregon over its marijuana legalization law. A U.S. magistrate judge has recommended that the case be dismissed because “the county has no standing to sue the state, and hasn’t proved it’s been injured by laws allowing growth and consumption of recreational and medical cannabis.” OPB A PAC led by those who helped legalize medical and recreational cannabis in the state has its sights set on social use. “Too many people don’t have a safe place to legally consume cannabis out of public view due to their rental and housing agreements, which disproportionately impacts people of color and folks suffering through poverty.” Willamette Week
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‘The new normal.’ Things are rough for rural, cannabis farmers in Northern California, who have to contend with costly regulations and the “new normal” of relentless wildfires. One farmer recounts pre-paying his cultivation taxes in order to receive a local permit, only to have his entire 1,200-pound harvest burned to the ground (with the exception of one single, surviving cannabis plant). “It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I really wish we had pushed for a gross receipts tax, because shit happens, apparently… The problem is the cashflow issue if you lose your crop,” he said. Cannabis farmers contend with additional challenges compared to other farmers: A lack of crop insurance, a lack of access to evacuation zones, and little to no government assistance. Leafly
Dispensary vs. state. The medical marijuana industry in Massachusetts is sounding an alarm on a state crackdown on pesticides. Regulators ordered cannabis company Good Chemistry to close an operation due to using pesticides that would present “an immediate or serious threat” to public health. The issue? A new regulatory rule said that growers could only use pesticides that have been approved for marijuana use by the EPA (which doesn’t exist as long as federal prohibition does). Meanwhile, Good Chemistry had repeatedly disclosed its plans to use the pesticides, which are approved for use on cannabis by four other states. Other industry executives say the state repeatedly reassured them that those types of pesticides are allowed. “We’re not going to destroy the crop, because it poses no risk to public safety whatsoever,” said a lawyer for the company. The Boston Globe
Lawyers take marijuana extracts case to Arizona Supreme Court. A medical marijuana patient in Arizona is fighting to have his conviction overturned after he was charged with drug and drug paraphernalia possession. The state Court of Appeals ruled against Rodney Jones, who was found with 0.05 ounces of hash in a jar (which he purchased at a medical marijuana dispensary). The ruling concluded that the state’s medical marijuana law doesn’t include hash or other extracts of the plant. Attorneys for Jones are hoping that the state Supreme Court overturns the lower court’s ruling. “There are many people who literally cannot be smoking joints… but who benefit from preparations and mixtures,” said one of his lawyers. Arizona Daily Sun
Today in cannabis business news… Adolphus Busch V, the heir of Anheuser-Busch, has launched a line of cannabis vapes in Colorado called ABV Cannabis. He previously worked at cannabis beverage company Keef Cola. Bloomberg Canadian cannabis companies are trying to woo European institutional investors after moving into the European market. Reuters A 145-year-old, North Carolina-based tobacco supplier is pivoting to pot with stakes in two Canadian cannabis companies. Bloomberg Some in the cannabis industry are worried about the high valuations of Canadian cannabis companies. Financial Post
Cannabis in Canada. Health Canada says it will continue to operate the country’s medical marijuana program after the federal government legalizes recreational weed. The announcement was a response to the Canadian Medical Association’s call to phase out the medical marijuana program post-legalization. CBC News Prime minister Justin Trudeau urged provinces to allow home-grown cannabis. CTV News A heroic dispensary employee fended off three would-be robbers with a bong. Vice
Word on the States
- In Michigan, entrepreneurs are contending with out-of-state interests ahead of a legalization ballot initiative.
- In North Dakota, the state projects legalizing marijuana would cost $6.6 million over the next few years. Lawmakers debated the accuracy of the projected costs.
- In Ohio, 71 doctors joined the medical marijuana program, bringing the total to 293 in the state.
- In Rhode Island, the governor says she is not “in a rush” to legalize recreational marijuana.
- In Oklahoma, entrepreneurs wait anxiously for regulations.
- In Minnesota, a Republican PAC is attacking a Democratic House candidate for “possession of drug paraphernalia” when he was 18.
- In Utah, a look at the Mormon church’s stance against marijuana.
- In Puerto Rico, the medical marijuana program is back on track a year after Hurricane Maria.
Word for Word
“At every stage, criminal-justice officials regularly justify individual decisions based on their discretionary interpretation of a rule. When a police officer makes a ‘routine traffic stop’ for a car that changed lanes without signaling, or decides to arrest someone found with recreational drugs, technically the decision is warranted — even if numerous other people commit the same ‘infractions’ without any consequences.” – Director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative at Georgetown University Marc M. Howard for The Washington Post
“Can they leave [Elon Musk] alone? Let the man get high if he wants to get high.” – Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, TMZ