In a politically divisive time, there’s no issue like marijuana reform for bridging the partisan divide. Trump says he favors states’ rights on marijuana, but why is his administration stonewalling reform efforts? This November could bring legal weed to the Midwest for the first time. Also: How LSD made its way from a weapon of war to the drug of choice for Silicon Valley. 🌳
Opposing cannabis no longer wins votes. Marijuana legalization is one of the few political issues that has widespread support from both sides of the aisle. “With the US weeks away from the most contentious midterm election in at least a generation, Americans of all political persuasions increasingly want marijuana to be legal.” While politicians focus on the potential benefits to veterans and the harms of criminalizing marijuana possession, the cannabis industry positions itself “as an engine for creating jobs and offering the public a safer alternative to alcohol.” The Guardian Related: A new poll from the Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization. The data show that public opinion continues to climb in favor of reform. The Hill
‘A cannabis deep state, of sorts.’ President Trump says he’s in favor of states’ rights when it comes to cannabis. But reform efforts seem to have stalled while the White House’s own drug policy office reportedly reached out to more than a dozen federal agencies for negative data on marijuana legalization. Policymakers have different takes on where this opposition is coming from. U.S. rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) says he’s been continually stonewalled by the administration: “Despite what the president has said, they tell me [marijuana reform] isn’t happening.” Meanwhile, rep. Matt Gaetz says that it’s attorney general Jeff Sessions who stands in the way. Either way, marijuana reform is stalled at the federal level, despite widespread public support. Rolling Stone
Weed makes its way to the heartland. Marijuana advocates are hoping to break a geographic barrier this November to bring adult-use cannabis to the Midwest. So far, all of the jurisdictions that have passed some sort of recreational legalization law lie on the two coasts. Voters in Michigan and North Dakota will weigh in on marijuana legalization measures. If those laws were passed, they would become the 10th and 11th states in the nation to do so. “We’ve kind of reached a critical mass of acceptance,” said a professor of health management and policy, who thinks the country may be at a “breaking point” given the number of states that are in conflict with federal law when it comes to cannabis. The Associated Press An overview of all the ballot initiatives. The Associated Press
Massachusetts legislators head to Portugal to learn about drug policy. A delegation of state lawmakers is traveling to Portugal to learn about its decriminalization policy and how it can help the opioid crisis. While various officials including Boston’s mayor and the state governor have spoken out against decriminalization, reports suggest that the country’s drug policy has resulted in “drops in drug use, overdose deaths, drug-related crime, and disease rates.” “We’re going to keep an open mind,” said one state senator. “We don’t know if it’s a model that can be replicated because we have a different criminal justice system in the U.S. and we have a different health care delivery system in the U.S.” Boston Herald
Federal-state marijuana conflict puts college funding at risk. Colleges in states that have legalized marijuana face a dilemma when it comes to students’ cannabis use: “They follow federal law, which prohibits people from using marijuana on the property of educational institutions.” Students say their schools’ anti-marijuana policies are generally not enforced. But colleges risk millions in federal funding if they adopt policies that contradict federal laws. Medical marijuana laws complicate things further. “We’ve been steeped in the alcohol model for so long,” said Lester Grinspoon, a longtime Harvard professor and pioneer in marijuana research. Most schools allow students to drink alcohol on campus as long as they’re of legal age. “If they were going to use something, it should be cannabis, not alcohol. It’s safer, but it’s also a much more interesting high.” The Boston Globe
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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 $10,000 of his $15,000 fundraising goal so far. GoFundMe
Don’t panic! Two years ago, a Pueblo, Colo. hospital reported that “nearly half of the newborns born in March 2016 at St. Mary-Corwin who were drug tested due to suspected pre-natal exposure tested positive for marijuana.” Anti-pot politicians seized on the stat to (falsely) claim that more than half of newborn babies tested positive for THC at that hospital, prompting public hysteria. But the truth is that less than 10 percent of babies born that month tested positive for THC, and the hospital said that “they have no data to back up whether the percentage is higher or lower than other years.” There’s simply no statewide data available that shows whether there are indeed more newborns testing positive. The Gazette
Studies say… For decades, cannabis researchers used male rodents, which has been a problem in other areas of science. “This strategy was supposed to reduce the variability in behavior imposed by fluctuating hormones across the reproductive cycle. Instead, it limited our understanding of cannabis’ actions, primarily those of THC, to a male brain.” It turns out women generally react differently to cannabis thanks to estrogen’s influence on the endocannabinoid system. Leafly While adolescent cannabis consumption rates haven’t changed much, attitudes towards the drug have. “Tolerant non-users” doubled from 2011 to 2016. Marijuana Moment
In cannabis business news… Colorado regulators have come to an agreement with Sweet Leaf’s owners after the dispensary chain was raided for illegal cannabis sales. The three owners must reportedly “sell the licenses of their remaining businesses outside of Denver, pay seven figures in fines, and potentially face additional punishment from the [Marijuana Enforcement Division].” Westword Canadian cannabis giant Aurora is planning to list on the New York Stock Exchange by the end of the month. Forbes Absent traditional avenues of marketing, retail is still the way for brands to stand out. Glossy The only U.S. marijuana exchange-traded fund has surged amid investor interest in the sector. The Wall Street Journal A 120-year-old, family-run business in Berkeley, Calif. may soon re-open as a first-of-its-kind cannabis nursery. CBS
Cannabis in Canada. First Nations are making deals with large cannabis companies, looking to the economic benefits of a soon-to-be legal industry. “We rely almost completely on outside government cash. We need a stable source of income so that we can then give it back to our people,” said the grand chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, which recently signed a non-binding agreement with Canopy Growth Corp. The Globe and Mail Low potency products are expected to trend as the recreational market is set to launch. CBC Cannabis companies’ market caps rise into the 11 figures. Marijuana Business Daily Legalization could bring new jobs and economic growth to Alberta. Global News Tilray announced that it had acquired a distributor for its products in Chile. But its shares are falling. The Street
Elsewhere around the world… Lawyers in Mexico have slowly chipped away prohibition, and a new president who supports drug reform will soon take office. Cannabis advocates have won three cases at the Supreme Court so far and need five wins for the rulings to stick. Cannabis Wire A large shipment of cannabis oil has left Jamaica for Canada, and will be tested by Ottawan authorities. TeleSur Plaid Cymru, a social-democratic party in Wales, U.K. called for decriminalization and described the war on drugs as an “unmitigated failure.” BBC
Word on the States
- In New York, two medical marijuana companies ranked among the top lobbying spenders in the state. The governor’s marijuana listening tour heads upstate.
- In Massachusetts, expungement day will help clear cannabis convictions on Oct. 27.
- In California, San Francisco will launch an oversight committee to monitor the cannabis industry. San Diego police arrested and charged two people for operating an unlicensed cannabis delivery service.
- In Colorado, gubernatorial candidates disagreed on marijuana policy at a debate.
- In Ohio, a large medical marijuana growing facility in Yellow Springs opened its doors.
- In Michigan, Brighton is considering using medical marijuana businesses to help fund road repairs.
- In Florida, a policy advisor recommends that schools not change their cannabis policies due to federal prohibition.
- In New Jersey, another community considers a local marijuana ban. A university offering cannabis courses defends its decision.
- In Pennsylvania, lieutenant governor candidates disagree on marijuana legalization. The former governor is launching a nonprofit aimed at opening a safe injection site in Philadelphia.
- In Wisconsin, Green Bay is considering reducing penalties for marijuana possession.
- In Oklahoma, the medical marijuana market is shaping up to be fiercely competitive.
- In Guam, both gubernatorial candidates support the medical marijuana bill. The governor signed a bill that would allow home-grow for medical marijuana patients.
- In the Northern Marianas, the governor is working on creating the cannabis commission.
Word for Word
“For anyone acquainted with the real history of LSD in the United States, its migration into the boardrooms of Silicon Valley is far from a shock. Initial experimentation with the drug had nothing to do with the eager curiosity of psycho-spiritual seekers to turn on, “reprogram” their brains, and eventually make more money. No, the first generation of acid researchers regarded the recently synthesized chemical as a potential agent of biological warfare, as well as a weapon used to flip apparatchiks and wring confessions out of Korean POWs. The acid of the Cold War was not the acid of patchouli-soaked be-ins and the Grateful Dead. The drug’s dark history has been relatively obscured by its countercultural fame. Disappointingly for the rebel psychonaut, the CIA, along with a network of researchers and academics, was largely responsible for introducing LSD to Americans.” – Rebekah Frumkin for The Baffler