Denver finally moves to clear past cannabis convictions. NYC councilmen push NYPD on marijuana arrest loophole. Advocates gear up to sue Utah’s governor over medical marijuana compromise bill. Also: A California cannabis testing lab admitted to falsifying hundreds of results. 🌳
Denver finally moves towards clearing marijuana convictions. Six years after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, Denver officials are planning to clear past cannabis convictions that were prosecuted before marijuana was legal. While Colorado was one of the first states to legalize cannabis use for adults, it has lagged behind other jurisdictions on the issue of expungement. An estimated 10,000 convictions between 2001 and 2013 are eligible. The Associated Press While Colorado allows individuals to petition for expungement, Denver officials are taking a proactive approach. “We’re glad officials are pursuing this public service. This board has long been concerned with the unequal application of this nation’s drug law,” wrote The Denver Post‘s editorial board. The Denver Post Related: “Hopefully this move will increase the talent pool available to Denver employers in every industry, not just cannabis,” said a spokesperson for the National Cannabis Industry Association. Denver Business Journal 🔒
NYC councilmembers push NYPD on marijuana arrests. Two New York City councilmen from Queens are pressing the NYPD for answers about why police are still arresting people for cannabis vape pens. The NYPD adopted a new policy to stop arresting people for consuming cannabis. But it seems that the policy doesn’t apply to cannabis vape pens. One Brooklyn public defender said that he’s seen dozens of arrests for THC oil, which carries the same charge as heroin possession. New York Daily News Related: Could legal weed save the subway? Some government officials are now floating the idea that legalizing cannabis in New York could help pay for a subway system in crisis. “The idea is still very much theoretical, but it has some prominent supporters and is being considered by a high-profile panel tasked with coming up with ways to pay for a subway overhaul.” The New York Times
Whitaker vs. Trump on drug policy. Trump-appointed acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker has spoken favorably about state-legal medical CBD. Meanwhile, he’s also expressed concern about how the Department of Justice enforces federal marijuana prohibition based on the whims of the administration: “I am gravely concerned that we are now going to go back and forth between who’s in the White House and what their drug enforcement policy is,” he said in 2014. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) thinks that Whitaker’s views on drug policy differ from the president. “The new attorney general, the one that will be replacing the acting attorney general, is going to receive a lot of questions from me and my colleagues about where he stands on federalism and the ability of states to legalize.” The Durango Herald
Medical marijuana in Utah. People in Utah will be able to use medical marijuana while the state sets up its medical marijuana program. While the drug won’t be available in the state until at least 2020 “people who go elsewhere to buy permitted forms of medicinal marijuana, like cube-shaped gummies and oils, with a doctor’s recommendation now have legal protections” under state law (though bringing marijuana across state lines is still a federal offense). The Associated Press Meanwhile, some advocates aren’t done fighting against the medical marijuana compromise bill that was signed by the governor late Monday. An attorney for patients and patient advocacy groups is preparing to sue the governor over the bill that overturned the voter-approved legalization law. “You can’t have the legislature just come along the first day possible after the effective date of that legislation and say we know better,” he said. KUTV
Deal struck on hemp legalization in Farm Bill (but details are scant). A compromise has been reached on a controversial provision of the Farm Bill that would legalize hemp but ban those with drug felony convictions from participating in the industry. “There was a lot of discussion about that,” said U.S. rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) “Neither side got what they wanted.” Comer declined to provide further details. Drug policy advocates have criticized the provision amid the broader discussion of criminal justice reform and cannabis legalization. “The death of former President George H.W. Bush and his lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda disrupted congressional schedules this week, including the release of a final farm bill.” Roll Call
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Researchers claim breakthrough in THCV. Founder of Medical Cannabis Research Consortium of Marin Dr. Michael Moskowitz says it has found a way to ramp up production of tetrahydrocannabivarin or THCV, one of the rarer cannabinoids produced by cannabis plants. Early research has shown promise for THCV in the treatment of diabetes and high cholesterol. A bio-pharmaceutical company that is a member of the consortium announced that it would be releasing a THCV pill. “The goal of the consortium is to create a vertically-integrated medical cannabis company,” which aims to compete with GW Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the first FDA-approved marijuana-derived drug. Researchers hope that THCV will go the way of CBD. The Mercury News
California cannabis lab admits falsifying results. A cannabis testing lab in Sacramento, Calif. has admitted that it falsified hundreds of cannabis lab tests. A surprise visit to Sequoia Analytical Labs by state inspectors led the former lab director to admit the fraud: “When they asked the lab director where his data came from… He honestly told them, ‘I faked it,'” said the general manager of the lab. More than 700 lab results are now in question. “Sequoia immediately fired [the lab director] and then surrendered its temporary testing license to the state Bureau of Cannabis Control. However, additional sanctions could be coming from the city of Sacramento.” A city official said it would consider suspending or revoking Sequoia’s permit. Meanwhile, a shortage of cannabis testing labs has already caused problems in the supply chain. KCRA
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… Cannabis brands in California are now facing a problem that has plagued more traditional businesses: counterfeit products from China. Knock-off vape pen cartridges are being sold in unlicensed dispensaries in the state and beyond. “Counterfeiting could likely grow larger as long as the unlicensed California market continues to thrive.” Marijuana Business Daily A Denver-based CBD beverage manufacturer is acquiring a Utah beverage company for $85 million. Marijuana Business Daily Civilized Worldwide plans to acquire the Denver-based 420 Games. Civilized hopes to bring the cannabis-friendly sporting event to other U.S. states and Canada. Westword A look at why MedMen decided to create its own in-house agency. Digiday
Cannabis in Canada. Large corporations are dominating the Canadian cannabis space. But small, artisanal growers are fight back: “Can they develop their industry without selling out to the Toronto ‘suits’ who increasingly dominate the trade?” Bloomberg It’s official: Bill Blair, the former Toronto police chief, has been named Minister for the Cannabis Act. “The former undercover drug cop has been the face of the Liberal government’s legalization rollout for years, so this designation hardly comes as a surprise… Despite his background as a cop, Blair has said that he believes pot possession convictions are a disproportionate punishment.” Vice An Ontario company is preparing the country’s first outdoor cannabis grow. Marijuana Business Daily
Elsewhere around the world… Thanks to medical cannabis reform in Colombia, foreign cannabis firms are increasingly investing in the country. Several Canadian cannabis businesses have set up shop in the South American country known more for its drug war than for its legal medical marijuana. But a new administration with a different stance on drug policy could threaten the industry’s development. Cannabis Wire A two-year-old girl who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy has become the first child in the U.K. to receive a medical cannabis prescription under its new rules. Her parents say the prescription was difficult to obtain and hope her story will spur other doctors to prescribe the drug. ITV A medical cannabis export bill has passed a first reading in the Knesset, Israel‘s parliament. Even if the bill passes, it’s unclear if prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s would approve it. Globes Meanwhile, the Israeli cannabis producer Cannbit will produce cannabis for Tikun Olam after the Ministry of Health suspended operations on one of its farms. “The result is a cannabis shortage and a loss of customers for Tikun Olam.” Globes
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, the city council questioned Boston’s marijuana licensing process. Two dispensaries sold $2.6 million worth of marijuana during the first week of sales. The Leicester marijuana dispensary continues to draw crowds.
- In Maine, the Marijuana Advisory Commission is taking shape.
- In Michigan, what residents need to know about recreational marijuana use, which becomes legal in the state tomorrow. Buena Vista Township approved eight medical marijuana licenses.
- In Illinois, a new report found that state and local governments would make $525 million in marijuana tax revenue if the drug were legalized.
- In Oklahoma, the state Medical Marijuana Authority has collected $7.8 million in cannabis application fees.
- In Ohio, Columbus City Council’s president supports decriminalizing marijuana.
- In Arizona, a survey found that young people are using fewer harder drugs and more marijuana.
- In Minnesota, a look at the prospects of legalization in the state.
- In Iowa, parents are hoping that schools adjust their marijuana policies to accommodate students who are medical cannabis patients.
Word for Word
“We don’t care. We have the state of California that has legalized both, and the relationship between Mexico and California is fantastic. Our trade balance is incredible. And I’m sure once Mexico legalizes, we’re going to be trading among ourselves. The state of California and Mexico. Marijuana. Cannabis. Medical Products. And production. What this world needs is open trading, open markets for all products. And this should happen with marijuana.” – Former President of Mexico Vicente Fox, Cannabis Wire
“The floral-scented serenity that evening was broken by two occupants of a corner table who spoke loudly and profanely about kilos of cocaine and how best to conceal assault rifle ammunition in airplane luggage… Both boast of having worked as criminal informants for federal law enforcement branches looking to bring down dangerous drug traffickers and would-be terrorists, sensitive work that requires secrecy and discretion. The men exercised neither skill on this evening. Instead, during 24 hours in Las Vegas that also included raucous hands of high-stakes blackjack with an electronica DJ and a private jet trip home, the pair fed closely guarded confidential information to a reporter in a gambit to coerce the FBI into paying out $80,000 for services rendered in a still-secret federal operation.” – Gus Garcia-Roberts for USA Today
“At [Gavin Remaley’s] memorial service in Durham, friends spoke of his salmon cakes rather than his 2012 arrest for heroin possession, his gym routine more than his demons. He was, they said, the sort of friend who picked up your call on the first ring. The murder charge hung over the service, unspoken but near the front of many minds. To family and friends, Remaley and addicts like him need intensified treatment rather than harsher punishment. Remaley, they said, did not stockpile drugs or cash, and he did not operate for profit. ‘This is retribution, not a solution,’ said Drew Remaley, Gavin’s father, in a November email to the N&O. ‘Going after low-hanging fruit to make yourself feel better solves nothing.'” – Josh Shaffer for The News & Observer