Republicans on both sides of the marijuana debate lose their races. Legal weed is coming to Michigan (but not North Dakota). Prohibition is to blame for the hype surrounding marijuana’s health benefits. Also: A pharma company that spent $500,000 opposing cannabis legalization now wants to become… a cannabis company. 🌳
Midterms bring wins for marijuana movement. Cannabis advocates vow to push federal marijuana legalization in the House as the midterm elections brought several wins for cannabis reform. The key race for advancing legislation in Congress? The fight for Texas’ 32nd district, where incumbent Pete Sessions was defeated by Democratic challenger Colin Allred. As the chair of the House Rules Committee, Sessions has blocked modest cannabis reforms from moving forward — even those with broad bipartisan support. NBC News Michigan voters approved recreational legalization, bring adult-use weed to the Midwest for the first time. Voters in Missouri and Utah approved medical cannabis ballot measures — continuing a shift towards marijuana reforms in conservative states. But in North Dakota, voters overwhelmingly rejected a legalization ballot measure. The Washington Post U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) lost his race to Democrat challenger Harley Rouda, despite substantial support from the cannabis industry. The New York Times
Elsewhere on the ballot… Florida voters approved Amendment 4, a measure that will automatically restore the voting rights of those with felony convictions. (The measure excludes those with murder convictions and certain sexual offenders.) Estimates find that more than a million people will be allowed to vote under the new law. Vox Criminal justice reformers won in D.A. races, too. In Suffolk County, Mass. criminal defense attorney Rachael Rollins won in a landslide, becoming the state’s first black woman D.A. Boston Magazine Defense attorney Joe D. Gonzales won his race for Bexar County district attorney, which includes San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio Express-News Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas County voters also chose a criminal justice reformer for D.A. John Creuzot has pledged to dismiss all first-time marijuana possession cases and helped establish one of the first drug courts in the state. The Dallas Morning News
Prohibition is to blame for all the hype surrounding marijuana’s benefits. A lot of startups are cashing in on the perceived health benefits of cannabis. EndoCanna Health, for example, promises to test your DNA to recommend certain strains and cannabis products for your needs. The only problem? There’s not enough science to show that such tests can actually work. An increasing number of cannabis companies are basing themselves on “on some science but with claims that stretch beyond the conclusions of established research.” But it’s federal prohibition that has stymied research in the first place. “The irony is that by trying to keep us ‘safe’ and refusing to reschedule, the DEA is making us less safe by letting us be drowned by hype without quality evidence either way. ” The Verge
Even with restrictions on research, cannabis science is advancing… but getting a whole lot more complicated. We know that how one consumes cannabis — a joint or edibles, for example — can have a large impact on its effects. But the endocannabinoid system changes throughout the day, and scientists are still not sure why it changes or what causes the changes. While many laud the benefits of the ensemble or entourage effect, some research shows it can actually decrease the drug’s efficacy. THC and CBD might be anti-inflammatory, “but if you were to vaporize a whole flower, you’d be consuming potentially a couple dozen anti-inflammatory molecules at once,” explains one researcher who studies cannabis for pain management. Wired
Women of color know marijuana legalization is just a start. Marijuana use is becoming increasingly socially acceptable. Lawmakers are beginning to publicize their own consumption and TV shows are depicting cannabis in a positive light. But it’s not socially acceptable for everyone. Here, women of color discuss their cannabis use and their struggles to push back on the negative stereotypes within their own communities. “My mother used to say, ‘If it wasn’t for alcohol, I don’t know how I would’ve survived with you kids’… But I could never tell her I use marijuana.” Filter
🚨 Shameless Promotions 🚨
Popped.NYC: CBD – Learn. Hang. Shop.
Word on the Tree is supported by GeekTek, a technology and security service provider for companies in growth mode throughout US and Canada. Learn more: GeekTek
Word on the Tree is happy to partner with the creators of the Cannabis Law Summit to bring you the Cannabis Media Summit on December 7 in NYC. Learn more: Cannabis Media Summit
The ban on cannabis in sports. Professional athletes are allowed to consume alcohol, but cannabis remains on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances. WADA views marijuana as a “performance-enhancing drug” but Canada is now pushing back against that designation. There’s little scientific evidence that cannabis is performance enhancing for athletes. ” We’ve never wanted the Canadian anti-doping program to be used to police recreational drug use by athletes,” said the president of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. CBC News Canadian MMJ fighter Elias Theodorou is working to get a therapeutic use exemption for cannabis from the US Anti-Doping Agency ahead of his UFC fight next month. He’s been “advocating for medical cannabis and privately working with USADA for a year and a half. He decided to make his fight public once cannabis was legalized in Canada in October.” SB Nation
Anti-cannabis pharma company now wants to turn itself into… a cannabis company. Insys Therapeutics, a fentanyl manufacturer that spent half a million dollars to oppose cannabis legalization in Arizona, is looking to sell its opioid-related assets to focus on its medical cannabis products. CEO Saeed Motahari cited a waning market for fentanyl in the midst of an opioid crisis. Instead, the company will aim to become “a leader in pharmaceutical cannabinoids and spray technology.” Filter
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… Why American cannabis companies are using reverse mergers to list on the public markets. While the strategy comes with many benefits — especially for companies that are still federally illegal in the U.S. — there are drawbacks too. The less transparent process leads to concern from investors, there’s less vetting compared to IPOs, and they can lead to short-term volatility. Business Insider 🔒 How technology can help cannabis companies stay compliant — especially after the one of the largest cannabis businesses in Colorado lost all of its licenses. Marijuana Business Daily A Boston-based medical cannabis dispensary was acquired by the Illinois-based Green Thumb Industries. Boston Business Journal 🔒
Cannabis in Canada. Canada’s pot shortage continues to send consumers to the black market. One marijuana retailer explained that his suppliers did not have enough plants or packaging to serve the demand. Some retailers have been forced to temporarily shut down due to a lack of supply. “Angry consumers across the country say they are returning to their illegal dealers. In Montreal, several pot smokers said their illegal dealers were taking advantage of the shortage by hawking home delivery services and lowering prices.” The New York Times In Saskatchewan, only five of the province’s 51 licensed cannabis stores have opened in the three weeks since legalization. CBC News Canadian publisher Postmedia invested in Prohbtd, a cannabis media company that hopes to “be at the forefront of cannabis content and solutions in Canada.” BNN Bloomberg
Elsewhere around the world… A key senator in Mexico who will become the country’s next interior minister plans to submit a bill this week to roll back marijuana prohibition. The bill would set up a medical marijuana industry and allow adult-use of the drug. “[The bill] will be presented on Thursday, without fail,” said Olga Sanchez. The bill would allow for home cultivation and public consumption — something that most other legal cannabis jurisdictions have refused to touch. Reuters The New Zealand government has changed its rules about hemp, declaring hemp seed “safe to eat.” The change will treat hemp seed just like any other food product. Newshub
Word on the States
- In Wisconsin, voters passed more than a dozen county-level advisory questions on marijuana reform.
- In Ohio, five cities decriminalized marijuana.
- In Utah, an updated draft of the medical marijuana compromise was released on election eve.
- In New York, Democratic wins for the state legislature could push marijuana legalization forward in the state.
- In California, voters in Redding overwhelmingly approved a cannabis business tax.
- In New Jersey, out-of-state entrepreneurs are calling the state the ‘Silicon Valley’ of pot.
- In Massachusetts, Freetown approved its first medical marijuana dispensary. A Springfield cannabis company invites the public to hear about their plans for recreational marijuana.
- In Maryland, there’s not enough data to analyze the efficacy of criminal justice reforms.
Word for Word
“A man who had been clamoring to get an autograph from Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman and a woman who was shaken to tears by the prospect of weighing charges that could send the notorious Mexican drug lord to prison for life were among the prospective jurors dismissed Tuesday in the upcoming trial for the cartel kingpin. The man, a native of the Colombian city of Medellín who had been questioned Monday in Brooklyn federal court, was tossed Tuesday on the second day of jury selection after he asked a court security officer for Guzman’s John Hancock — and was ultimately denied.” – Emily Saul and Natalie Musumeci for The New York Post
“When I asked the prison authorities in Iceland if I could spend a week in each of the two open prisons they were surprisingly receptive. I got the impression that they quite liked the idea: a foreign academic who wanted to get under the skin of these places by assuming the role of a prisoner. They promised to keep a room free for me. I was grateful and excited. I was going to experience both prisons from the inside. While I knew that they were calm and safe, they do house people convicted of some serious violent or sexual offences. How do prisons without walls or fences even work?” – Professor of criminology Francis Pakes for The Conversation