Word on the Tree is brought to you by the generous support of our readers. Is the newsletter valuable to you and your work? Consider making a monthly donation to help cover the costs of producing it: Word on the Tree
Thursday | December 6, 2018. A look at the compromise on the most controversial part of hemp legalization. The feds are trying to quash a tribe’s bid to allow state-legal medical marijuana. Pennsylvania rejected all eight applicants for its marijuana research program. Also: Canopy Growth signed a deal to acquire Storz & Bickel, the German maker of the famed Volcano vaporizer. 🌳
Lawmakers compromise on felony ban in hemp industry. One of the strongest points of contention for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) hemp legalization measure is a ban on those with drug felony convictions from participating in the hemp industry. Now, it seems that the bill will allow drug felons into the industry — but only 10 years after their conviction. The rule is similar to one in Kentucky that bars anyone with a drug conviction from receiving a hemp license for 10 years. But advocates aren’t satisfied with the compromise, pointing to the criminal justice reform implications and the fact that no other agricultural crop has such provisions. Meanwhile, states with more developed industrial hemp programs like Colorado may be forced to implement such rules on existing hemp farmers. McClatchy DC Related: How legalizing hemp is a step towards greater cannabis-related federal reforms. US News
Feds try to quash Montana tribe’s medical marijuana ordinance. Blackfeet Tribe Councilman Rodney “Minnow” Gervais Jr. has been sober for seven years. But he made the case to amend an ordinance to bring the tribe’s medical marijuana policy in line with Montana’s medical marijuana law, so members of the tribe can participate in the state’s medical marijuana program. “I found that medical marijuana could help [my son],” said Gervais. “So this isn’t about me; it’s about my kid.” But after submitting the amendment to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an official at the federal agency rejected it. “The state passed the Medical Marijuana Act and the Tribe doesn’t have to follow federal law because the Tribe has the right to legislate our crimes; it’s part of our inherent powers,” said one tribal attorney. The tribe has appealed the decision. Glacier Reporter
Pennsylvania rejects all marijuana research applications. Last week, the state was hit with a lawsuit alleging a pay-to-play scheme in its marijuana research program. Now, the state Department of Health is rejecting all eight cannabis companies who planned to participate in the research program. None of the applicants “met the rigorous requirements of the competitive application review process,” according to the agency, which will open another round of applications early next year. “Eight billionaire groups who have spent the last four years trying to situate themselves as medical marijuana kingpins in the state have just been told ‘No’… That’s big news,” said one cannabis attorney. The state said that the lawsuit had no impact on its decision to reject all of the applications. Some of the rejected applicants are planning on appealing the decision or re-applying. The Philadelphia Inquirer
Medical marijuana advocates sue Utah governor. A medical marijuana advocacy group is suing Utah governor Gary Herbert and health department executive director Dr. Joseph Miner over the medical marijuana bill that was passed to replace the voter-approved ballot initiative. “Anything that defeats the right of the people to pass their own legislation under our constitution should be declared unconstitutional. Otherwise it’s totally illusory,” said the attorney representing the group. Their hope is for the courts to force the state to revert its medical marijuana law back to Proposition 2. Meanwhile, another group “is seeking plaintiffs for an emergency writ to the Utah Supreme Court to get a new referendum.” KSTU
Legal weed raises housing prices. A new study supports previous research that cannabis dispensaries have a positive impact on housing prices near it. Researchers found that a new dispensary led to a 7.7 percent increase in home values within a quarter mile of the cannabis business. The effect disappears for homes more than half a mile away. “Our results suggest that despite potential costs, legalization is capitalized as a net benefit in housing prices,” wrote the researchers. “Our data do not allow us to directly determine the underlying mechanisms driving this result, so these potential explanations should be considered speculative.” Marijuana Moment
🚨 Shameless Promotions 🚨
Word on the Tree is supported by GeekTek, the information technology and security service partner for companies in growth mode throughout US and Canada. Scale with GeekTek
The plight of a cannabis influencer. Bess Byers, also known as Cannabess to her online audience, is a Seattle-based marijuana marketer and influencer. She has managed to build a marketing business thanks to her clout — growing her Instagram account to nearly 100,000 followers. Even though business is booming, Byers has been forced to contend with Instagram deactivating her account seven times since August. “It’s been financially stressful… I have campaigns that have been confirmed, but obviously that can’t work if I’m locked out of my account,” she said. “Byers doesn’t sell weed; she just posts pictures of it. Moreover, Instagram seems to enforce these rules selectively. Why has she been shut down, but not Leafly or High Times or any number of other pot brands and cannabis influencers?” The Stranger
How legal weed revived this small town. Garden City is a small town in Colorado with less than 300 residents. And thanks to marijuana reform in the state, Garden City has managed to rake in lots of marijuana tax revenue — enough to pay for millions of infrastructure upgrades. The town administrator says that there have been no downsides on welcoming cannabis businesses to their town. Several small towns in Colorado have been revitalized thanks to cannabis taxes, which doesn’t happen in cities with bigger budgets. The marijuana industry employs about 225 people in the town, making it the largest industry there. Meanwhile, the presence of dispensaries has been a boon to other small businesses, like the local pizza shop. Pew / Stateline Related: The general store was once a staple of Vermont towns. But businesses have struggled in the age of Amazon. Some proprietors of these struggling businesses are hoping that selling marijuana could “help stem the tide, help reverse the bleed.” Seven Days VT
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth has acquired the German Volcano vaporizer maker Storz & Bickel for €145 million (or about $165 million). Financial Post The parent company of High Times is cutting $28.6 million in debt with “the exercise of warrants and the conversion of outstanding notes into its Class A common stock.” Green Market Report “The Nevada Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit that would have required the state to license only alcohol wholesalers as distributors of recreational marijuana.” Marijuana Business Daily Philip Morris is distancing itself from cannabis after news broke that Altria was in talks with a Canadian cannabis producer. “I don’t think it’s our priority right now to consider cannabis,” said its CEO. Bloomberg The United Cannabis Business Association is urging the Los Angeles city attorney to crack down on unlicensed dispensaries. Marijuana Moment Equipment from illicit cannabis grows are being sold for cheap. Green Market Report
Cannabis in Canada. Quebec is seeking to raise the age for cannabis consumption in the province to 21. It would be the strictest cannabis controls in the country. CTV News The case for paying closer attention to how legalization in the country will impact the environment. The Guardian How cannabis companies, facing a labor shortage, are pressing local universities for help to prepare students to work in the industry. The Washington Post A local cannabis businessowner in Canmore, Alberta has sold his shop before even opening its doors due to the shortage of product. Rocky Mountain Outlook
Elsewhere around the world… A two-year-old girl became the first child in the U.K. to receive a medical cannabis prescription under the country’s new rules. The problem? She can’t actually get the drug because “no UK pharmacy holds a license to sell it.” iNews Luxembourg released its plan to legalize recreational marijuana for residents of the country. The small EU nation hopes the policy will help stamp out the black market. Marijuana Business Daily Even as South Korea moves towards legalizing medical cannabis, its citizens can still be punished for consuming cannabis in other countries where it’s legal. Cannabis Wire
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, a look at where marijuana tax money will go. Cannabis advocates, regulators, and entrepreneurs weighed in on social consumption. A look at the top-selling marijuana products in the state so far.
- In Michigan, weed is officially legal to possess in the state. What that means in the workplace. Grand Rapids will move forward with allowing commercial cannabis businesses, while Charlevoix moves to opt out.
- In Missouri, the state’s new medical marijuana law takes effect. A state lawmaker pre-filed a bill to legalize marijuana in 2019.
- In Nevada, the governor-elect pushes for a cannabis control board.
- In Maine, two more people were added to the state’s Marijuana Advisory Commission.
- In Illinois, a Republican state senator thinks marijuana legalization is inevitable in the next year.
- In Georgia, the Statesboro city council passed an ordinance to remove jail time as a punishment for marijuana possession.
- In Virginia, the region’s sole medical cannabis dispensary will open in Portsmouth.
- In Arkansas, a member of the Medical Marijuana Commission plans to resign.
Word for Word
“Donald Trump claims he’s taking a step toward desperately needed criminal justice reform, but he’s not. A bipartisan bill known as the First Step Act has been described by activists as groundbreaking in the fight to end mass incarceration, and Mr. Trump has said he’s “waiting with his pen” for the bill to land on his desk. Some support the bill because it will reduce some sentences and lead to some savings when it comes to the cost of incarceration. Having spent many years working with people in prison who are seeking release, I respectfully disagree. This is not a case in which a little reform is better than none.” – Executive director of UnCommon Law Keith Wattley for The New York Times
“I love a good reclamation process, like reclaiming the word ‘pussy’ or ‘cunt’ in the feminist movement… I think that’s kind of analogous to what’s happening with ‘stoner’ right now, where a lot of really badass women involved in the cannabis community are kind of taking back that word to say, ‘You know what? No, it doesn’t mean somebody who is sitting on their couch, smoking weed all day, eating potato chips. It can be somebody who’s really productive and lively and active in the world.’ However, I think that there is definitely a long way to go before we get the rest of the world and the community on board with that definition.” – Comedian Rachel ‘Wolfie’ Wolfson, Good Beer Hunting