Canada may be heading towards cannabis legalization, but an expungement bill faces an “uphill battle” in Parliament. Massachusetts licensed two marijuana dispensaries. As attitudes on marijuana shift, some police are stepping up marijuana possession arrests. Also: A Canadian cannabis advocate is gearing up for another fight: psilocybin mushrooms. 🍄🌳
Expungement faces ‘uphill battle’ in Canada. New Democratic MP Murray Rankin has introduced legislation that would allow Canadians to have their cannabis convictions expunged from their criminal records. The Liberal Party has not made expungement or other criminal justice reforms a priority in its bid to legalize adult-use marijuana. “I believe it’s critical that Canadians who have criminal records for something that, in two short weeks, will be perfectly legal, no longer suffer the burden of having a criminal record,” said Rankin. If his bill is passed, Canadians with marijuana possession convictions could apply to a parole board to have their records expunged. But “the road to law for private members’ bills such as Rankin’s can be difficult.” Estimates suggest that as many as half a million Canadians have cannabis possession charges on their records. iPolitics
Massachusetts finally licenses dispensaries. After many delays, cannabis regulators in the Bay State issued final licenses to two marijuana retail outlets. The businesses, which also operate medical marijuana dispensaries, hope they can get their recreational operations up and running within weeks. “I think it’s a big milestone, but you know it’s going to be an even bigger one when the stores actually open,” said the state’s top marijuana regulator Steve Hoffman. The Boston Globe Commissioner Shaleen Title abstained from voting on the licenses in protest of the commission’s refusal to review host community agreements. The agreements have been criticized for demanding payments in excess of the 3 percent of gross sales mandated by state law, which could favor large corporations over less capitalized small businesses. “I cannot vote yes when I have seen the agreements and they are questionable,” said Title. Boston Business Journal
As attitudes on cannabis shift, some police step up arrests. In Philadelphia, police have essentially decriminalized marijuana possession and dole out $25 civil citations instead of arrests. But officers in four Philadelphia suburbs have stepped up cannabis arrests by 11 percent over the past year. In South Jersey, pot arrests jumped 40 percent between 2015 and 2016 — unsurprisingly, those arrests disproportionately target African Americans. Recent state Supreme Court rulings in both states have made it easier for local law enforcement to search for marijuana. “So many people, they hear what happened in Philadelphia and they think the entire state decriminalized it,” said one police chief. The Philadelphia Inquirer
Why Troyer changed his marijuana enforcement strategy. After attorney general Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, the U.S. Attorney for Colorado Bob Troyer said his office would be focused on opioids, not state-legal cannabis. But now, his office is preparing to crack down on state-licensed marijuana businesses. What changed? Troyer says that “very sophisticated drug-trafficking groups” have “exploded” in the state, and that he’s seen an increase in marketing and use by kids. He says that his office initially had a distrustful relationship with state and city agencies, but that has evolved: “It took a couple years for everyone to relax a little bit and realize we’re all trying to do the same thing.” Westword
Medical marijuana is coming to Utah. No matter the outcome of a medical marijuana ballot initiative, Utah will be home to a medical marijuana law. The governor has pledged to call a special session to take up medical cannabis legalization regardless of the outcome of Proposition 2 in a deal between both sides of the debate. The Salt Lake Tribune The deal was backed by the LDS church, which came out in opposition to the initiative. If the voters approve the ballot measure, lawmakers will come together to revise the law “under the terms of the deal. It if fails, the Legislature would consider a law under the new framework.” However, some advocates were still skeptical of the deal. The Associated Press Meanwhile, opponents to the measure are still fighting against it, filing a motion in a federal court seeking an injunction to keep it off of the ballot. KSTU
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Help a Reefer Dad. Longtime cannabis activist Rick Cusick is suffering from health issues and needs a liver transplant. “The infamous donor list… may not welcome a person with my personal history. I haven’t drank alcohol in 34 years and never smoked cigarettes, but my public lifestyle might kick me down the list,” he writes on his GoFundMe campaign. Cusick has raised more than $8,500 of his $15,000 fundraising goal so far. GoFundMe
A look at cannabis measures on the November ballot. Voters in seven states will get to weigh in on cannabis reform measures in both state and local elections come November. Here’s an overview of all the ballot initiatives, which include everything from changing the state definition of industrial hemp to adult-use legalization. Six municipalities in Ohio will weigh in on decriminalizing marijuana possession and a whole slew of counties in Wisconsin have cannabis-related measures on the ballot. Forbes
Washington state cracks down on cannabis edibles. Regulators in Washington have banned all marijuana-infused “hard candies, fruit chews, gummies, and stylized chocolates.” The change was a response to concerns that such products are appealing to children. A spokesperson for the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board “stressed that the board wasn’t actually making a new rule, but simply enforcing existing policy—a move that allows regulators to sidestep public comment requirements.” Meanwhile, regulators discovered that some of the product approvals they gave out don’t actually match the products that are available on dispensary shelves. Leafly
Alcohol exec says the industry isn’t threatened by cannabis. The CEO of alcohol giant Constellation Brands says that the company sees “no evidence whatsoever, especially in… the legal states, of alcohol cannibalization.” The parent company of Corona has invested billions into the cannabis industry with a stake in Canadian marijuana producer Canopy Growth Corp. “The comments came during a conference call as Mr. Sands responded to those who have expressed skepticism on the company’s outsize move into cannabis.” The Wall Street Journal 🔒
In other cannabis business news… Chicago-based medical marijuana company Cresco Labs raised $100 million to fuel national expansion. The Chicago Tribune Cannabis biotech company Front Range Biosciences closed a $10 million Series A round. Forbes Canadian cannabis company Tilray’s stock fell more than 5 percent after announcing a plan to raise $400 million in debt sale. The Street UNC-TV executive director Brian Sickora resigned from his TV job to take a general manager position at cannabis company Acreage. News Observer
Cannabis in Canada. A look at how prime minister Justin Trudeau started the country on a path to adult-use legalization during his campaign in early 2013. The Los Angeles Times Cannabis marketing is getting creative ahead of legalization as companies try to promote their brands while dealing with murky advertising rules. Companies are sidestepping any explicit mentions of marijuana. Financial Post Albertans will have 17 cannabis dispensaries when recreational sales go live on October 17. Global News A pioneering medical cannabis advocate has set her sights on another therapeutic substance: psilocybin. Alison Myrden is gearing up to go to court to fight for a legal exemption for medicinal mushrooms with a pair of prominent cannabis lawyers. Now
How Sad, How Lovely. As temperatures drop and leaves fall, many of us feel unease towards the temperatures that lie right around the corner. This week’s playlist soundtracks the shift of seasons with a selection of melancholy yet warm ballads. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In Michigan, a poll found 62 percent of voters approve of legalizing recreational marijuana. A $40 million cannabis business park will break ground next week. Legalization opponents didn’t show up to a planned protest of legalization advocate Rick Steves’s event.
- In Ohio, stores are selling off their CBD oil stock after regulators threatened to crack down. The state’s first medical marijuana crop is being harvested this week but could take several months to make it to patients.
- In Illinois, use of medical marijuana has risen 83 percent and PTSD is the most common condition treated with the drug.
- In California, a look at a cannabis industry-funded PAC and its fundraising efforts. Some cannabis growers are optimistic about the future of legal weed.
- In North Dakota, a poll found that nearly 59 percent of voters oppose recreational legalization.
- In Oklahoma, the Health Department appointed the director of the medical marijuana regulatory agency. Tulsa’s mayor drops some medical marijuana requirements.
- In Wisconsin, the Superior City Council approved an ordinance to decriminalize marijuana possession.
- In Minnesota, the Star Tribune‘s editorial board calls for the VA to study medical marijuana for PTSD.
- In Florida, medical marijuana patients now have CBD-infused ice cream.
- In Arizona, Phoenix city council members were frustrated by the mayor’s attempt to raise medical marijuana taxes.
- In Rhode Island, a gubernatorial and attorney general candidate were arrested and charged with marijuana possession.
- In Guam, lawmakers approved a measure to allow home grow for medical marijuana patients.
Word for Word
“As we prepare to run around (or stroll, let’s be honest) at the Adult Swim Festival, we asked ourselves: why is there such a solid Rick and Morty fanbase in the cannabis community? How does a love of cannabis pair so perfectly with the mismatched grandfather and grandson’s antics through the multiverse?… Getting high and wondering about what it all means dovetails perfectly with Rick and Morty’s adventures, and their ultimate discovery that ‘the only option is to find importance in the stuff right in front of you.'” – Mary Jane Gibson for Leafly