The Supreme Court considers whether immigrants should be deported for minor offenses like marijuana possession. Drug prosecutions at the border plummeted as the feds focused on detaining kids. The feds said those in the Canadian cannabis industry can come to the U.S. — but not for business. Also: Researchers in Canada found that THC and CBD levels don’t change much from strain to strain. 🌳
Immigration, the Supreme Court, and minor marijuana offenses. The Supreme Court wrestled with a case on Wednesday about whether the U.S. government can detain immigrants after they served their sentences for certain crimes. The class-action lawsuit is led by plaintiff Mony Preap, a U.S. permanent resident who was convicted twice for marijuana possession. After serving his sentence, he was released in 2006. It wasn’t until 2013 that he was detained by immigration officials. The Associated Press The outcome of the case could hinge on the two Trump-appointed justices: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The lower courts have ruled in favor of the immigrants, but the Trump administration has appealed those rulings. Gorsuch questioned the scope of government power in this case, while Kavanaugh seemed to be more sympathetic to the administration. Reuters
Drug prosecutions plummeted as the feds focused on detaining kids. Federal drug trafficking prosecutions fell by 30 percent over the summer as the Trump administration launched its immigration crackdown. As the courts flooded with minor immigration violations, “federal prosecutors charged fewer people with drug-trafficking violations than in any month since at least 2001.” Attorneys typically assigned to drug-trafficking cases were directed to prosecute border-crossing misdemeanors. USA Today Related: The new policy is blowing holes in the budgets of federal agencies. One tent camp in Texas that is housing undocumented children will cost the federal government $750 per night per bed. “For about the same price, the federal government could pay for a deluxe hotel room — with a view of Central Park — at Trump’s Manhattan hotel.” The Huffington Post
Feds say Canadians in the cannabis industry can actually come to the U.S. They just can’t be crossing the border for any work-related reasons. The Customs and Border Protection got pushback from some lawmakers for its policy of banning Canadians who work in the cannabis industry from entering the U.S. Now, the agency is (slightly) softening its stance: Canadian cannabis workers will be allowed to enter the country, as long as they’re here “for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry.” Marijuana Moment Related: A CBP agent warned travelers against bringing any type of marijuana product into the U.S. — even if cannabis is legal in the U.S. state bordering Canada. WIVB But Washington state governor Jay Inslee, foreseeing a blue wave at the midterms, says he expects “significant changes in federal policy” which could allow Canadians to bring legal weed into his state. The Globe and Mail
Feds raid black-market grows in Colorado. Federal agents (in collaboration with state and local officials) raided at least two dozen homes in a posh neighborhood, seizing hundreds of marijuana plants. While a DEA spokesperson said that nobody was living in the homes that were raided, a neighbor disputed that account. “The kids [who live in the home] stood out front this morning and watched this all happen… It’s sad. That was a family.” Some neighborhood residents seemed unconcerned about the nearby cannabis cultivation sites. “It’s just pot. This is nothing new,” said one. The Denver Post
Trump says he is “actively looking” for cases like Alice Johnson. President Trump praised Johnson, the woman whose life sentence he commuted at the urging of Kim Kardashian West. Johnson was serving a life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense. On Tuesday, Trump expressed desire to release more inmates from prison whose cases are similar to Johnson’s. “I’d like to find a lot of people like Alice Johnson… I’ve been watching her a lot and what a great spokesman she is for that situation. And that’s covering a lot of people. There are a lot of people like that, that will unfortunately be locked up for many, many years, and there’s no reason for it.” The Washington Examiner
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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
Police continue asset forfeiture after change in Mississippi law. Police agencies in the state have conducted more than 60 civil asset forfeiture seizures after a law allowing them to do so lapsed at the end of June. “That law allowed police to take $20,000 or less in property associated with illegal drugs, regardless of whether someone was convicted criminally.” But the new law requires agencies to gain court approval for the seizures — a new rule that police seem to have ignored. A state narcotics official said he was “unaware” that the law had changed. The Associated Press
What the studies say… New research out of the University of British Columbia found no meaningful differences is the levels of THC and CBD in various strains of cannabis. “They further discovered that breeding highly potent strains of cannabis impacts the genetic diversity within the crop, but not THC or CBD levels.” They did, however, find meaningful differences in more obscure cannabinoids, which could be valuable from a therapeutic standpoint. phys.org A survey of Colorado residents over 65 found that most of those who use marijuana use it to treat a variety of ailments. But only 26 percent are medical marijuana patients, with the majority of older consumers opting for the recreational market. Marijuana Moment Data from the World Health Organization found that teens and young adults in the U.K. are drinking less. Some young people said that marijuana and ecstasy are easier to access than alcohol, and that cannabis is a healthier choice. The New York Times
Today in cannabis business news… MedMen is acquiring PharmaCann for $682 million in one of the biggest deals in the state-legal marijuana industry. The all-stock purchase will give MedMen 10 more dispensaries on top of the 16 it already owns in three states. The acquisition will expand the company’s operations to 12 U.S. states. Bloomberg A Wall Street analyst says the cannabis industry is going to be bigger than she initially thought. “Our broader, big picture view of cannabis goes beyond the adult use launch in Canada… Rather, we believe this is the first step toward the establishment of cannabis as a key functional ingredient touching multiple consumer categories with four key verticals: adult use, beauty and nutraceuticals, OTC pain and sleep, and pharmaceuticals.” CNBC
Cannabis in Canada. Prison guards and other correctional workers will be allowed to consume adult-use cannabis, but won’t be allowed to partake 24 hours before going to work. The 24-hour rule applies to front-line workers including COs, wardens, and prison commissioners. Global News Canadian regulators say pot companies are failing to report even basic financial information to their shareholders. “Of 70 companies reviewed, every single one fell short on disclosure requirements, often not providing enough information in their statements and management discussion for an investor to understand their financial performance.” Bloomberg
Elsewhere around the world… The chief of the World Health Organization warned countries against marijuana legalization. While he supported liberalizing medical marijuana laws, “we wouldn’t encourage countries to follow those who are actually… legalizing it,” he said. Next week, Canada will become the second country in the world to legalize adult-use marijuana. AFP In New Zealand, marijuana arrests have dropped 70 percent in the past two decades. Meanwhile, the number of those who received warnings has doubled. Many police officers say cannabis decriminalization should be considered ahead of a referendum on marijuana legalization. Radio New Zealand The South Pacific island nation Vanuatu is supporting research into medical cannabis for treating diabetes. The government is fast-tracking the trials in collaboration with a Colorado-based company with operations in the country. The Vanuatu Independent
Word on the States
- In Utah, a poll found that most voters support the medical marijuana ballot initiative. An anti-marijuana crusader doubles down on his opposition after pro- and anti-legalization advocates reach a deal.
- In New Jersey, the governor was noncommittal about the proposed marijuana tax rate.
- In California, Kern County will unseal a key document in the case against a supervisor charged with failing to disclose a conflict of interest prior to a marijuana vote.
- In Connecticut, a look at where gubernatorial candidates stand on legalization. The Consumer Protection Department has launched a resource to help medical marijuana consumers.
- In Massachusetts, patients are worried 🔒 that the medical marijuana market will get devoured by the rec market.
- In Oklahoma, banking officials struggle to adapt to the medical marijuana industry thanks to federal prohibition. Lawmakers approved regulations for medical marijuana.
- In Michigan, heavy rains postponed groundbreaking for a cannabis business park.
- In Pennsylvania, a conference aims to educate people of color about the cannabis industry.
- In Montana, Blackfeet Nation decriminalized medical marijuana on its reservation.
- In Idaho, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate supports decriminalizing cannabis.
- In Texas, a look at criminal justice reform efforts in the state. The state leads the nation in rates of solitary confinement.
Word for Word
“Some soldiers who could be helped by medical marijuana don’t want to register with the state. They don’t want to be on a registry and carry a card that labels them as a marijuana user. The solution for them, [Ron] Cyus says, is recreational legalization. That way they can medicate safely and don’t have to be on someone’s list. There are probably more of those folks out there — people who could be helped by medical marijuana but still aren’t ready to come out from the cold. I talk to people like that regularly. They don’t want to be on anyone’s list for fear that the worm will turn and the authorities will come after them.” – Larry Gabriel for Detroit Metro Times
“Tracey had been in prison for sixteen years, and counting the earlier years he spent in juvenile institutions in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada, he had been locked up almost full-time since he was fifteen. He had, literally, come of age in prison, and not only his family members but most of his friends were inmates. Tracey was only one tiny digit in the explosion of our prison population. We now have 2.3 million people in prison and jail, and Americans spend an estimated $179 billion a year on prisons, police forces and our court system… When I picked up Tracey at the front gate of the Oregon State Correctional Institution on his release, he was smiling broadly. ‘I want to do good, but I get the jitters,’ he said to begin our conversation. ‘I don’t remember what freedom feels like. It feels like I’m on Mars. I can’t believe I’m not in prison.'” – Fox Butterfield for Longreads