The first medical cannabis dispensary opened its doors in Iowa. A U.S. Tax Court ruled against a cannabis business for taking normal business deductions. Boulder, Colo. moves to vacate and seal past cannabis convictions. Also: The president of the Philippines made a joke about using marijuana and people are not amused. 🌳
Low-THC medical cannabis arrives in Iowa. The first dispensary in the state opened its doors on Saturday to a line of eager customers who braved the wet, wintry weather. The store is one of five that is licensed by the state and currently only carries three products. Des Moines Register Lawmakers had expected more than 6,000 people to apply for medical cannabis cards. But only about 1,000 patients have been approved by regulators. KCCI Sally Gaer was the first customer to purchase state-legal medical cannabis products for her epileptic daughter. Up until now, she has used CBD oil from Colorado. WHO-DT Related: Last month, regulators rejected an effort by advocates to lift the 3 percent THC cap in the program. Des Moines Register
Tax court says cannabis businesses are still traffickers. A U.S. Tax Court ruled against a California cannabis business that tried to deduct normal business expenses. Harborside Health Center argued that it was deducting “ordinary and necessary expenses,” but the court ruled that even state-licensed cannabis dispensaries aren’t treated like drug dealers under the tax code: “That just makes [Harborside] a giant drug trafficker, unentitled to the usual deductions that legitimate businesses can claim.” “The Tax Court said it did not care that Harborside beat a federal asset forfeiture case. Nor did the Tax Court care much that some parts of Harborside’s businesses—like selling t-shirts—did not involve cannabis at all.” Harborside is considering whether to appeal the ruling or potentially pay millions of dollars in taxes. Leafly
Veterans fight for marijuana. Veterans who are advocating for access to medical marijuana are bolstered by the results of the midterm elections, as powerful Republicans who blocked veterans’ marijuana legislation are now on their way out. Between the election results and the departure of the anti-marijuana Jeff Sessions from the Justice Department, advocates are hopeful for a “new era in American drug policy.” The Ledger Related: In a VA town hall, the agency emphasized its stance that as long as marijuana remains in Schedule I, ” VA health care providers may not recommend it or assist veterans to obtain it.” va.gov
Boulder to vacate past cannabis convictions. The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office looked back through old records to identify about 4,000 marijuana convictions to vacate and seal. “This is really a program based on fundamental fairness,” said the assistant D.A. “This is conduct that is no longer illegal. It just seems like the right thing to do in these circumstances is to vacate and seal those convictions.” “He did research on similar programs in Washington and New York, but said he is not aware of any other district in Colorado doing this.” The D.A. will prioritize the cases where convictions are having the greatest impact on an individual’s life. Daily Camera
Man who exposed illegal drug raids now faces felony charges. A 31-year-old Arkansas man exposed illegal police raids in Little Rock after his apartment security camera footage contradicted police accounts. Police claimed to have purchased cocaine from Roderick Talley (but his camera showed otherwise). The SWAT raid of his apartment that involved blowing his front door across the room with explosives only yielded a small amount of marijuana. Worse, such unconstitutional raids seemed to be happening to many others. Now, he’s dealing with legal troubles that seem suspicious: “The charges, however, did come after Talley had begun posting on social media what he was learning about the LRPD narcotics unit. Of course, it’s impossible to say if the charge was retaliation.” The Washington Post
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Fox & Friends goes reefer mad. President Trump’s favorite TV show hosted a former Florida sheriff to discuss marijuana policy, who claimed that marijuana is “addicting,” “killing people every day across the United States,” and used by meth addicts to “kill themselves, or overdose, or kill someone else.” He also claimed that marijuana charges are “not a minor, non-violent felony.” The story that prompted the segment came out of Florida, where a 12-year-old student gave marijuana gummies to his classmates. “It goes without saying that the case… is not acceptable, and is not legal anywhere… it’s no surprise to see Fox News seize on the worst possible example as representative of the whole.” Esquire
The marijuana tax debate. The potential of marijuana tax revenue has been used to propel public support for legalizing the drug. While Michigan and New Jersey are moving to adopt regulated marijuana markets, they’re also poised to have some of the lowest weed taxes in the country. The lower taxes are prompting debate about whether marijuana tax revenue should be kept high to help fund infrastructure and schools. Proponents of the lower tax rates argue that it will help legal sellers stay competitive with unlicensed dealers. “A high tax rate doesn’t do much to incentivize the consumer to use legal businesses,” said the spokesperson for Michigan’s legalization campaign. CNBC
In cannabis science news… Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth Corp. is putting $9.5 million to fund clinical trials of marijuana-derived drugs in the U.K. Bloomberg A study found that vaporizing marijuana led to higher concentrations of THC in the blood than smoking it. Participants reported greater subjective effects from vaporizing too. NBC News Interest in cannabis by older demographics are prompting studies on seniors using medical marijuana. The Star
Cannabis in Canada. A Kamloops woman filed a lawsuit against BC Cannabis Stores for selling her a mislabeled product. Kimberly Webster says that she bought a product that was labeled high in CBD and low in THC, but received a high-THC, low-CBD product. “When you buy something from someone like BC Cannabis Stores, you’re expecting one product and not another. It’s like going to buy cider and coming home with Everclear,” she said. The mislabeled product caused her to become anxious and fearful. Kamloops This Week Black market marijuana dealers say they’re not threatened by legal weed in the country. Calgary Herald Draft regulations for marijuana edibles and concentrates will reportedly be published “soon.” Marijuana Business Daily
Elsewhere around the world… Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte joked about using marijuana at a ceremony to honor diplomats. Asean meetings are “a killing activity,” said Duterte. “But at my age, I am not really bothered because I take marijuana to stay awake.” People are not amused by his joke, considering that “thousands of people have been killed in his antidrug campaign.” The New York Times A fibromyalgia patient in the U.K. is believed to be the first person to be prescribed medical cannabis under the country’s new rules. Sky News A licensed cannabis grower in New Zealand advocated for illicit cultivators to partner with licensed growers. “This amnesty for local cannabis strains presents an exciting opportunity for these breeders, who can finally step out of the shadows,” said its CEO. Newshub
Word on the States
- In Michigan, the state will become the first in the Midwest to allow recreational marijuana on Thursday. Advocates criticize marijuana bills that would change the legalization initiative.
- In Illinois, the House approved a measure to expunge cannabis convictions, sending it to the Senate. Oak Park is prepared to reap tax benefits from legalizing recreational marijuana.
- In Utah, lawmakers are poised to override the voter-passed marijuana ballot initiative.
- In Colorado, the state awarded a grant to a startup to find aftermarket uses for cannabis waste.
- In Nevada, the state Supreme Court dismissed a marijuana distribution case.
- In Massachusetts, Boston has signed four host community agreements for recreational dispensaries.
- In Florida, a judge shot down the House’s attempt to intervene in a medical marijuana lawsuit.
- In Oklahoma, the co-author of the MMJ legalization initiative will ask the incoming administration to investigate efforts to change the voter-approved ballot initiative. A cannabis grow supply shop opened its doors over the weekend.
- In Vermont, a retail marijuana market in the state would generate $6.6 to $12.8 million in tax revenue for the state during the first year.
- In Missouri, a look at the few doctors trying to help their patients get medical marijuana.
- In New York, lawmakers will hold marijuana legalization hearings in Long Island. Tompkins County voted to support marijuana legalization in the state legislature.
- In New Jersey, Warren County passed a resolution to oppose marijuana legalization in the state.
- In Alabama, the attorney general issued a public notice stating that CBD products are not legal to sell in the state.
- In Rhode Island, the new Republican House Minority leader supports marijuana legalization.
- In Pennsylvania, a Republican lawmaker thinks there’s “no possibility” of recreational legalization any time soon.
- In Texas, fewer than 600 patients are getting medical cannabis under the state’s restrictive law.
Word for Word
“The reason we have prohibition is nothing to do with preventing social harm. It’s about the queasiness politicians feel about legalizing something that they perceive still has a huge social stigma attached, even though the public is now firmly in favor of legalization. Which brings me to the vegan burger. Take a step back and it seems bonkers that our political leaders hold firm on outlawing weed but seem loth to invoke the nanny state where it’s most needed: in avoiding catastrophic climate change. We won’t succeed in this unless we persuade people to fly less and eat less meat and dairy.” – Sonia Sodha for The Guardian
“Marijuana aficionados tend to consider California’s Humboldt County a mellow source of premium weed, but this six-part documentary series seeks to harsh that buzz. In recent years, dozens of people have gone missing in a community that has been seized by the lawlessness, corruption and violence surrounding the lucrative illegal drug business. The title ‘Murder Mountain’ suggests the case for Humboldt’s troubles will be made bluntly, but it’s a healthy reminder to consumers that the drugs that make them feel good are often sourced from places with a darker vibe.” – Scott Tobias for The New York Times
“As with every other yuppie craze, an industry has grown up to support it, with crafty appeal to upscale and middle-aged tastes. There are gourmet ‘infused’ dinners, dispensaries with the sleek aesthetic of an Apple store, and artisanal treats (Mints! Chocolate truffles!) that look as if they were bound for the shelves of Whole Foods. Even as thousands of people languish in prison or carry arrest records for marijuana-related crimes, pot has suddenly been defanged and demystified for a risk-averse and well-heeled new clientele.” – Lavanya Ramanathan for The Washington Post