Marijuana advocates rejoice at Sessions’ ouster, but Trump could still choose an anti-cannabis nominee to fill his spot. Michigan’s governor-elect vows to expunge cannabis convictions. A bank in California threatened to close a criminal defense attorney’s accounts because he represents those charged with marijuana crimes. Also: The personal information of 4,500 Canadian cannabis consumers was hacked. 🌳
Marijuana reformers rejoice at Sessions’ ouster. Cannabis advocates celebrated on Wednesday after attorney general Jeff Sessions was ousted by president Trump. “He’s been an absolute disgrace on drug policy… We would welcome any attorney general whose policy ideas would move beyond the 1980s,” said one advocate. NBC News Cannabis stocks surged on the news, with Canadian producer Tilray seeing a 34 percent gain. Bloomberg While Sessions’ temporary replacement Matthew Whitaker has expressed sympathy for patients who benefit from CBD, he has criticized a hands-off approach from the DOJ on marijuana enforcement. Like Sessions, he has drawn connections between marijuana and violence. Marijuana Moment
Why it’s too early to celebrate. The real question is: Whom will Trump nominate to replace Sessions? Leading candidates include Alex Azar (who once said “there really is no such thing as medical marijuana”), Pam Bondi (who has fought efforts to expand Florida’s medical marijuana program), and Rudy Giuliani (who oversaw a major crackdown on marijuana use during his tenure as NYC mayor). The Wall Street Journal 🔒
US Attorney for Oregon to head up DOJ’s marijuana working group. U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams has been named chair of the attorney general’s Marijuana Working Group. “[I] look forward to working with Attorney General Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and my fellow U.S. Attorneys on this important policy area,” Williams said in a statement. KTVZ Related: Williams is a noted critic of Oregon’s cannabis industry, describing it as “out of control” in August. “The industry’s considerable and negative impacts on land use, water, and underage consumption must be addressed immediately.” He also emphasized the link between marijuana and “serious, interstate criminal activity.” KDRV
Weed won on election day. What comes next? Three out of four marijuana initiatives won at the ballot box on election day. The falling dominoes could help not only the residents of those states, but also help push reform at the federal level. “The theory is that with more states voting to legalize, that attitude would trickle up to their representatives in Washington… But then again, the cannabis momentum isn’t coming from politicians, but from the people.” Wired Will Congress act? “These races were not close. Legalization won in Michigan by nearly 12 points, while the medical marijuana measures won by 14 points in Oklahoma, by more than six points in Utah, and by 31 points in Missouri.” Reason And it wasn’t just Sessions’ ouster. The elections were also a boon for cannabis stocks. Reuters
Expungement coming to Michigan. The state’s governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer said she will pursue either executive action or a legislative solution to expunge the criminal records of those convicted of cannabis crimes. “I think that the people of Michigan have said that for conduct that would now be legal, no one should bear a lifelong record for that conduct,” she said. Her spokesperson said that she’ll likely try to work with the Republican-controlled legislature on the issue, but it’s still unclear “whether lawmakers will have any appetite to take up the issue.” Whitmer pledged to learn lessons from other states that have already legalized recreational marijuana. Michigan will become the 10th state in the nation to do so. The Detroit News
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Bank vs. criminal defense attorney. The cannabis industry’s banking troubles are well known — companies and individuals with affiliations to the industry have struggled with bank account closures and a lack of access to financial services. But here’s a new one: A criminal defense attorney who has worked with clients facing marijuana-related charges was told by his bank to find a new home for his money and that it would cancel his credit lines. Donald Drewry says he doesn’t consume or buy marijuana, but defending clients with marijuana charges is one of his 10 areas of practice. “I’m not doing anything illegal. It’s my job to represent people who are charged. And just because you’re charged doesn’t mean you’re guilty,” he said. Fellow criminal defense attorneys expressed outrage at his situation. KPIX
Today in criminal justice reform…. A look at why restoring the voting rights of those with felony convictions in Florida could actually help reduce crime. “My research finds that when Virginia restored voting rights, ex-offenders became more trusting of government and the criminal justice system. These attitudes are known to make it easier for citizens to re-enter society after being released from prison and also decrease their tendency to commit additional crimes,” writes a political scientist. The Conversation While high-profile Democratic candidates in the state lost their races, more than 60 percent of voters approved the felony re-enfranchisement initiative. The Marshall Project Related: “Even in deep-red states, voters embraced an array of liberal-backed ballot measures in Tuesday’s election — expanding Medicaid, targeting gerrymandering, boosting minimum wages, legalizing marijuana use.” The Associated Press
Legal marijuana’s social-use challenges. Marijuana regulators from Alaska to Colorado are facing challenges when it comes to regulating social consumption. So far, no state has allowed for social marijuana use, although Denver is home to a pilot program. “Denver’s much-maligned social use program has seen only one business open since the city began taking applications in August 2017… Compared to other cities, though, Denver might be ahead of the pack — if only by default.” The cannabis-legal states wrestling with social-use all share a common problem: what to do with tourists who want to partake, but have nowhere to do so legally. Westword
Names of Canadian marijuana consumers hacked. The personal information of 4,500 recreational cannabis consumers who purchased products from the Ontario Cannabis Store was hacked. The compromised information includes “the buyer’s name or initials, postal code, date of cannabis delivery, the Canada Post tracking number and OCS’ corporate name and address.” The CEO of the OCS blamed Canada Post, saying the “vulnerability is not unique to OCS customers and that in fact could apply to any Canada Post customers.” Toronto Sun Meanwhile, the provincial government and the OCS are refusing to release “basic factual information about staffing levels at the Ontario Cannabis Store and its warehouse, raising questions about the reasons behind its delays in shipping pot.” CBC News
Today in cannabis business news… High Times‘ parent company continues to struggle with financial woes and extended its deadline to raise money for its IPO once again. The new deadline is November 30, 2018. Its partner Chalice Holdings missed a debt payment (prompting a foreclosure), and the company’s revenues decreased yet again. While its operating expenses fell during the first six months of 2018, its net loss increased more than 95 percent. Green Market Report Marijuana legalization wins at the ballot box could bring more than $2 billion in new sales. Michigan’s adult-use market could be worth $1.4 billion-$1.7 billion within several years of launching. Marijuana Business Daily
Word on the States
- In New York, marijuana legalization got a boost thanks to Democrats winning control of the state Senate. Will Cuomo finally tackle criminal justice reform?
- In Massachusetts, regulators gave the go-ahead to two cannabis testing labs, clearing the way for recreational cannabis sales to start. A look at the dispensaries slated to open their doors. Newton voters rejected ballot questions that would have limited marijuana dispensaries.
- In Michigan, advocates see the state as a model for the Midwest and beyond.
- In Illinois, the governor-elect wants to legalize marijuana “nearly right away.”
- In Wisconsin, marijuana reform is unlikely to happen in quickly, despite overwhelming support at the polls.
- In California, a controversial cannabis measure passed in Half Moon Bay, but voters rejected other measures that would have expanded cultivation. Cities in the South Bay approved cannabis tax measures, as did San Francisco.
- In Washington, D.C., the mayor plans to submit a marijuana legalization bill next year now that Democrats took the House.
- In North Dakota, the state’s senator-elect vowed to focus on federal marijuana reform “immediately.” Pro-marijuana campaigners vowed to keep fighting for legalization.
- In Tennessee, the governor-elect opposes all manner of cannabis reform, remaining unconvinced of even medical use of CBD oil.
- In Iowa, the state’s first medical cannabis dispensary will start selling products on December 1.
- In Minnesota, pro-marijuana third parties are poised to gain major-party status.
Word for Word
“She’s a new mom, and she was telling me about why she chose to use cannabis during her pregnancy but not tell her doctor about it. I’m not using her name because she asked to remain anonymous throughout my reporting. Her words hit on a lot of recurring themes I encountered while working on this project: the growing public acceptance of cannabis; the continued stigma some individuals feel around the drug; the fear of criminal prosecution at the federal level; a belief that conclusive evidence about marijuana’s effects is lacking; and a distrust in the medical and public health communities because they can’t answer questions about it.” – KCRW producer Michell Rene Eloy for centerforhealthjournalism.org
“Since 2016, [Dae] Lim has fused marijuana and fashion to create Sundae School, his streetwear label inspired by weed culture. And if the term “stoner style” conjures images of tie-dye T-shirts and Baja hoodies, then Lim’s self-styled ‘smokewear’ is an altogether different proposition. Together with his sister Cindy, the 25-year-old has put a contemporary twist on the traditional aesthetics of his birthplace, South Korea. As well as incorporating illustrations influenced by Korean culture, the brand draws on the silhouettes of traditional attire… the label’s success has stirred debate back in South Korea, where a huge amount of stigma still surrounds marijuana. Can they ever — as one of the country’s biggest newspapers described the brand’s vision — ‘weave together the two extreme, inhomogeneous cultures of marijuana and Korea?'” – Stella Ko for CNN