The federal government is studying whether medical marijuana can combat opioid crisis. How people continued to get charged for cannabis offenses, despite decriminalization in New York. A medical marijuana patient is suing the federal government for the right to own a gun. Also: Patients are struggling to get their medicine after recreational legalization in Canada. 🌳
Federal government studying medical marijuana and opioids. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is spending $238,000 to study whether medical marijuana can be a potential solution to the opioid crisis. The study will follow about 10,000 medical marijuana patients in New York to see how the drug affects their opioid use over the next two years. The study grew out of a pilot study at a medical cannabis company in New York, which found that 76 percent of patients reduced or stopped taking opioids after starting medical marijuana. “A few years ago, the idea that the government would fund a study that uses one illicit drug to treat addiction to another would have been crazy.” Researchers said that the study represents a “major shift” on how the government views cannabis. BuzzFeed News
Cannabis is decriminalized in New York, right? Not really. D.A.’s vowed to stop prosecuting cannabis offenses and the NYPD instituted a new policy to (mostly) stop marijuana arrests. But law enforcement officials are still pursing charges against people who are caught with cannabis oil, which carries a sentence of up to one year in jail. Cannabis oil carries a harsher charge than cannabis flowers. “The fact that a person is in possession of THC oil as opposed to the marijuana plant should not make any difference in whether a person is arrested or prosecuted,” said one public defender. “This practice makes no sense. Ironically, one of the exceptions in the Brooklyn DA’s policy is to continue prosecuting marijuana where the police say a person is ‘creating a genuine nuisance,’ but THC oil and vaping are actually the least intrusive method of consumption.” The Appeal Related: A pro-cannabis state senator expects governor Cuomo to push recreational legalization through the state budget. silive.com
Medical marijuana patient sues government over gun rights. A Philadelphia doctor is suing the federal government to challenge a law that prohibits anyone who uses marijuana to buy a gun, including state-licensed medical marijuana patients. The doctor tried to purchase a gun in April but was denied after being truthful of his marijuana use for treating PTSD. In 2016, a federal appeals court ruled that marijuana prohibition doesn’t violate the Second Amendment. The lawsuit “claims that the blanket prohibition against marijuana users violates the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of non-violent, law-abiding American citizens.” The Philadelphia Inquirer
A ‘formidable political obstacle’ for criminal justice reform. After president Trump touted the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, the effort ran into some trouble thanks to opposition from one of his closest allies. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has slammed the legislation, describing it as a “jailbreak” proposal and even calling for strengthening sentences for drug crimes in an op-ed. Politico Trump’s new acting attorney general also has some “concerns” about reducing mandatory minimums for drug felonies. The Hill
Federal agency criticizes DEA’s marijuana eradication program. The Government Accountability Office criticized the Drug Enforcement Administration marijuana enforcement efforts for not documenting its goals and information that could accurately assess the performance of the program. The agency spends about $17 million on local law enforcement to partner with the feds on marijuana enforcement. “Due to [the] inadequate record keeping, the DEA doesn’t really know if that money is serving its purpose.” Marijuana Moment
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Banning marijuana users from kidney transplants doesn’t make sense. A new study found that consuming cannabis does not affect the outcome for those receiving kidney donations whether it was the donor or the recipient who consumed cannabis. “Contrary to concerns that the use of marijuana would have a negative impact on transplant outcomes, there weren’t any noticeable differences between the groups that could be attributed to cannabis. Long-term kidney function was virtually the same and there were no discernible differences in pre- or post-operation characteristics.” Patients who need organs and willing donors alike are often turned away due to their cannabis consumption. Marijuana Moment
The pros and cons of creating cannabis appellations. Efforts are underway in Northern California to create a cannabis appellations system similar to how wine is regulated in France. Such a system for cannabis cultivation could help protect small farmers and give consumers higher quality choices. But the proposal also has its drawbacks: “The French system is notoriously bureaucratic. Some industry players prefer a less regulated approach, believing inexpensive marijuana is best for consumers.” The Wall Street Journal 🔒
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… A look inside Las Vegas’ “theme park for marijuana” reveals a bid to become the “Burning Man of weed dispensaries… Both are about alternative values and wellness, but they’re also about being cool and serving as a club for the rich.” The Verge Local credit unions led by women are forging a path in the marijuana banking space. Bloomberg Financing for American cannabis companies listed in Canada have outpaced that of their Canadian counterparts “as investor interest shifts south of the border.” BNN Bloomberg Brewers are increasingly turning to cannabis-infused drinks. The New York Times Acreage Holdings goes public in Canada, valued at about $2.8 billion. Financial Post
Cannabis in Canada. A Saskatoon man claims that a hospital turned him away due to his medical marijuana patient status. He asked to be admitted to a mental health facility after attempting suicide, but claims that doctors refused to admit him after he disclosed his medical marijuana use. “The Saskatchewan Health Authority denies a patient would be turned away for that reason.” CTV News A woman has been unable to fill her daughter’s cannabis oil prescriptions after adult-use was legalized in the country. “She welcomes legalization, but she wants medical cannabis products better protected.” CBC News Ontario places restrictions on ownership of cannabis retailers. Global News
Elsewhere around the world… An Israeli parliament committee approved a medical cannabis export bill, which now heads to the legislature for a first reading. Globes Another lawsuit is threatening domestic cultivation in Germany‘s medical marijuana program. It could give an advantage to cannabis companies in The Netherlands and Canada, which are exporting a record amount medical cannabis to the country. Marijuana Business Daily Privatizing prisons in the U.S. did not make the facilities better or cheaper. But Australia and New Zealand are experimenting with private prison contracts that are much more humane and effective in rehabilitation. The key? Giving its operators bonuses for cutting recidivism more than government prisons and charging them for “unacceptable events like riots, escapes and unnatural deaths.” The New York Times
Arisen My Senses. Björk’s bizarre, beautiful aesthetic can invoke feelings of familiarity, discomfort, confusion and awe – a testament to her singularity as an artist. But perhaps a key reason as to why she’s so striking is her consistent ability to tug on something deep within us all. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In New Jersey, a state senator who once opposed legalization is now leaning towards supporting the legislation. The mayors of Newark and Jersey City call for marijuana companies to commit to communities that have been impacted by drug enforcement.
- In Massachusetts, two years after voters legalized it, sales of recreational marijuana are set to begin within days.
- In California, proposed rule changes could have a big impact on cannabis businesses.
- In Colorado, Denver tries to crack down on cannabis bus tours.
- In New York, the health department wants to make medical marijuana more accessible. Albany’s county D.A. will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases.
- In Iowa, some are concerned about possible legalization in Illinois.
- In Michigan, Muskegon’s county prosecutor is dropping some pending marijuana cases thanks to the legalization vote.
- In Kansas, the incoming governor supports medical marijuana.
- In North Dakota, a Fargo rep. is working to decriminalize marijuana.
- In Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University will offer a degree program in cannabis.
- In Nevada, cannabis-consuming moms talk stigma.
Word for Word
“I think that there are people at subordinate levels of this administration who are undermining what the president said as it relates to his attitudes toward marijuana reform. I mean, he’s been really clear that he supports marijuana reform. I’ve spoken to senior administration officials, who I won’t name, and said, ‘Hey I got a bill 1227 that kicks this down to the states and this is the vehicle the president ought to be looking at.’ And they say, ‘yeah not gonna happen.’ To which I responded, ‘who’s in charge here?’ And that was met with blank stares. So that candidly pisses me off because that’s exactly what’s going on… I don’t give a shit about marijuana. I don’t. But what I do care about us passing laws that we’re willing to enforce. And we don’t enforce our marijuana laws uniformly which manifests itself in injustice.” – Retiring U.S. rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.), Cannabis Wire / Newsletter
“On my last night as a bartender, I decided to go out with a bang. One of my colleagues had given me a 10-strip of exceptionally potent LSD—a thank-you for helping him move the previous weekend. I knew a full tab would have had me pouring beers for my imaginary friends all night, so I took out a pair of scissors and snipped one in half, downing it about an hour before my evening shift started. By the time I showed up at 6, I might as well have floated through the front door, my pupils as big as Sacagawea coins.” – T.M. Brown for Roads and Kingdoms