Legal weed makes its official debut in Massachusetts. A prominent Democratic lawmaker changes his mind on marijuana legalization. A judge says the Florida House should sue the feds if it has an issue with federal prohibition. Also: a former sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to prison for drug trafficking. 🌳
Massachusetts sells its first legal cannabis. The first recreational marijuana dispensaries opened for business in Leicester and Northampton as eager consumers lined up more than two years after legalization was passed in the state. The Associated Press The Editorial Board of The Boston Globe suggests four ways to help the state’s legal cannabis program, including strengthening the equity provisions of the program and introducing social consumption sooner rather than later. The Boston Globe A privacy expert is raising concerns about ID scanning at marijuana stores: “With digital records, the default is often indefinite retention, and the potential for exposure is real.” Boston Herald Related: The Boston Globe launched a new vertical covering cannabis in the Northeast. The Boston Globe
Another lawmaker’s marijuana evolution. U.S. rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) — a former skeptic of marijuana legalization — has now come out in support of federal cannabis reform. “My reluctance to embrace legalization stems primarily from one place: my ongoing work with the mental health and addiction communities,” he wrote in an op-ed. But he’s also heard from patients and those caught up in the criminal justice system about the harms of prohibition. “Over the past year, I’ve worked to rectify these perspectives.” Kennedy is now advocating for descheduling marijuana from the CSA and legalizing it on the federal level. Stat
Sue the feds, suggests Florida judge. A judge refused the state House of Representatives’ request to intervene in a medical marijuana lawsuit. The judge has previously ruled in favor of Florigrown, which is challenging the cap on medical marijuana licenses, ordering state regulators to start licensing additional operators. The House, which hoped to intervene, argued that the law was crafted with federal prohibition in mind. “Has the House considered filing suit against the federal government? Because looks like to me, that’s where the rub is,” said the judge. “They are still trying to protect the oligopoly that they’ve created, with this white-collar cartel,” said a lawyer for Florigrown. CBS 12
Another idea of social use. Guitarist Dean Ween is planning to apply for one of Denver’s social-use licenses in hopes of setting up a 420-friendly music venue in the city. “I think cannabis and music make total, total sense together,” said the venue’s chief operating officer. While Denver is the first in the nation to institute a social-use pilot program, it is notoriously restrictive. Only one business has been approved so far. The venue “would host music, comedy and film-related events… [and] also would operate as a consumption site during the day, with educational and wellness programs.” The Denver Post
Former sheriff’s deputy sentenced for drug trafficking. A former sheriff’s deputy for Los Angeles County was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for conspiring to distribute drugs. Kenneth Collins, who plead guilty, said he ran “teams” of law enforcement officers to provide security for unlicensed marijuana grows and transporting shipments of methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. He was also ordered to pay $38,000 in restitution. The Los Angeles Times
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Inmates fighting wildfires. The deadliest wildfire in California has brought attention again to the inmates who are on the front lines of battling the fires for $1 an hour. More than 1,500 of the roughly 9,000 firefighters that are dealing with current fires in California are volunteering as part of a program for inmates. One former inmate firefighter who was serving a sentence for drug possession describes the dangerous conditions during his five years of volunteering. “Was I scared at times? Yes, but I’ve been scared in the regular prison setting more so than on the fire line.” Many criticize the program for exploiting inmates for cheap labor. At least six have died while fighting fires since 1983. NPR
Today in cannabis business news… Cannabis prices are falling dramatically in states that have legalized the drug. This means falling tax revenues for states that have set their cannabis prices as a percentage of price. If marijuana prices fall to the level of other easily grown, agricultural crops, “taxes based on a percentage of price might not even cover the costs of the government’s regulatory system for legal marijuana.” The Washington Post The hemp industry is on the rise and Colorado farmers are at its forefront. “The state’s mix of a robust agricultural economy, hemp-friendly technology and scientific research on the plant are the key factors for Colorado’s success.” The Denver Post
What the studies say… A new study offers evidence that CBD holds promise in treating methamphetamine addiction. Researchers found that 80 mg/kg of cannabidiol (but not smaller doses) reduced the motivation of rats to consume methamphetamine. Psy Post Marijuana use by pregnant women is on the rise. But the research on marijuana use during pregnancy is shaky and inconclusive. Available studies tend to be so small that they don’t have enough statistical power to draw conclusions. Vox Related: How legalization in Canada will be a boon to cannabis science. The New York Times
Cannabis in Canada. The country’s first conference on cannabis and Indigenous Peoples kicked off at the Tsuut’ina Nation. Speakers include everyone from company execs to the federal minister of health. “But questions remain as to the autonomy of Indigenous communities when it comes to establishing — and regulating — cannabis on their traditional territory.” The Star In one example, a First Nation in Saskatchewan set up its own cannabis store that does not have a license, much to the dismay of provincial authorities. The province’s justice minister is set to meet with the chief to discuss whether the First Nation has a right to set its own cannabis rules and regulations. The Province
How to survive eating too many edibles. Doctors who have medical marijuana-focused practices give advice on how to deal with over-consuming edibles. Obviously, the best advice is to avoid overconsuming in the first place by starting with a lower dose (5-10 mg). But if you do find yourself in a Maureen Dowd-like moment, “Get to a quiet, safe space, relax, have a trusted person stay with you and perhaps hold your hand,” advises a Boston-based physician. He cautioned against oft-cited online remedies like CBD or chewing peppercorns. “CBD won’t work. Chewing peppercorns is downright dangerous. Some commercial products exist but are unproven and not necessarily safe.” The Guardian
Word on the States
- In Florida, the MMJ-supporting agriculture commissioner candidate maintains a lead after a manual vote recount.
- In New Jersey, hearings on marijuana legalization are scheduled for next week. But the governor and lawmakers still disagree on marijuana tax rates.
- In Nevada, the governor will put more marijuana tax revenue towards education during his last days in office.
- In Massachusetts, the state warned residents against stoned driving.
- In Connecticut, legalization advocates are buoyed by the start of sales in Massachusetts. The new governor expects marijuana legalization to be a priority next session.
- In Indiana, the state Democratic caucus say it will be focused on legalizing medical marijuana next session.
- In New York, Buffalo’s City Hall hosted a public hearing on marijuana legalization.
- In Alabama, how Birmingham’s new sheriff won his election with a progressive campaign.
- In Pennsylvania, the district attorney withdrew his office from a prosecutor’s association over its support for regressive and punitive policies.
Word for Word
“The improbable ascent of the self-styled ‘Mexican biker lawyer’ to a top law enforcement job two years ago speaks to the profound change sweeping dozens of local prosecutors offices across the country. From deep on the Gulf Coast to Denver, Chicago and Philadelphia, voters in recent years have been turning to a new wave of district attorneys pushing a boldly liberal agenda. They are freezing the use of the death penalty, decriminalizing marijuana possession, diverting low-level offenders to classes and treatment instead of jail, seeking less severe sentences and vowing to aggressively prosecute police-involved shootings.” – Justin Jouvenal for The Washington Post