The Senate passes the Farm Bill with hemp legalization. The elderly medical marijuana patient who was evicted has now lost his access to doctors and transportation thanks to federal prohibition. Colorado’s highest court will consider the plight of pot-sniffing pups. Also: A fight over foreigners and medical cannabis patents threatens to derail medical marijuana legalization efforts in Thailand. 🌳
Senate passes Farm Bill. The U.S. Senate voted in favor of the 2018 Farm Bill, which did not include the controversial proposal for new work requirements for those receiving food stamp benefits. The legislation would legalize industrial hemp on the federal level, a measure championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The New York Times McConnell “will no doubt use the hemp policy and any financial benefits that come to Kentucky farmers over the next two years as a recurring campaign theme in appearances and TV ads.” Hemp legalization has become a key issue for his re-election campaign. Roll Call Passing the Farm Bill would explicitly legalize CBD extraction of industrial hemp and interstate commerce — activities that are considered illegal by the DEA but are mostly unenforced. Hemp Industry Daily
The drug war and the DOJ. President Trump’s pick for attorney general William Barr could “encourage the worst instincts of a president who portrays himself as tough on crime.” Barr is an “old-fashioned drug warrior” who supports harsh sentences and thinks that current criminal justice policies do not need reform. “Back [in the ’90s] Barr described the war on drugs as ‘a long-term struggle’ like the Cold War. But the government has been trying to forcibly impose its pharmacological prejudices on us for more than twice as long as the Cold War lasted, and thanks to true believers like Barr there is still no end in sight.” Reason Related: Why Trump — a law-and-order, tough-on-crime politician — would support the criminal justice reform legislation that is poised to pass. The Pacific Standard
Marijuana legalization in Illinois. The state’s governor-elect J.B. Pritzker says he’s already working out the details of marijuana legalization with state lawmakers. NPR Illinois The outgoing mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, wants to use marijuana tax revenue towards pension funds. The city’s pension funds have more than $27 billion in unfunded liabilities. USA Today But a prominent state lawmaker behind the effort to legalize marijuana in the state has different goals in mind. Illinois rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) hopes that her legalization legislation will become the national standard. Cassidy’s priorities are focused on criminal justice reforms, including automatic expungement and repairing the harms of the drug war. Cannabis Wire
Cuomo keeps mum on legalization details. A spokesperson for New York governor Andrew Cuomo says his office is drafting legislation to legalize marijuana. NBC News But the governor is keeping mum on the details of what the legislation would look like. Meanwhile, legalization advocates in the state legislature disagree on the regulatory details of marijuana reform. State senator Diane Savino expressed opposition to home cultivation, describing the idea as “crazy.” But her colleague Liz Krueger pointed to other states that allow home-grow, arguing that the provision is mostly upsetting to retailers who don’t want the competition. Gothamist Related: A look at how the NYPD’s unofficial arrest quota system persists. The Appeal
The saga of an elderly medical marijuana patient continues. John Flickner’s story has made national headlines in recent days after the 78-year-old medical marijuana patient was kicked out and then welcomed back to his home for his cannabis use. Flickner is still deciding whether to return to his former building. But in the meantime, he has been dropped by Complete Senior Care, “leaving him without access to doctors and transportation.” An attorney for the program said that because it receives federal funding, it cannot have “anything to do with anyone having medical marijuana.” The Associated Press
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Colorado Supreme Court to consider pot-sniffing pups. The highest court in the state is hearing oral arguments for a case that could have wide-ranging repercussions for police dogs that have been trained to detect marijuana. Drug detection dogs may give the same signal whether they detect state-legal cannabis or another illicit drug. “Because K-9 handlers can’t tell whether the dog is alerting them to the presence of an illegal substance or legal amounts of weed, and police need probable cause that a crime has been committed before searching further.” A lower court ruled that a police dog’s signal does not give a police officer probable cause to search a vehicle if that dog has been trained to detect marijuana. The Denver Post
Racial injustices in marijuana enforcement. A doctor tells the stories of two of her patients — one white, one black — and their diverging experiences as a result of their marijuana use. For the black man, the mere mention of his marijuana use at a custody hearing resulted in an immediate decision to revoke his custody. For the young white woman who was caught selling marijuana twice, getting caught doing “something stupid” had little repercussions on her future. “If this happened to one of my black friends, it would be a totally different story,” she said. Filter
The science (and lack of) on cannabis. While 80 percent of oncologists in a recent survey say they have discussed medical marijuana with their patients, fewer than 30 percent say they have enough knowledge to recommend its use. While there is a lack of clinical data on the efficacy of medical marijuana for cancer patients, “the absence of evidence from randomized clinical trials does not necessarily support a lack of effectiveness,” writes an oncologist. The ASCO Post One researcher writes about his recent study that found “no evidence that use of cannabis led to greater problem behavior” among teens. While some of his marijuana-consuming participants developed a mild cannabis use disorder, “there was no evidence that use of cannabis led to the development of conduct disorder or to more serious use of other drugs.” Word on the Tree / The Conversation
Today in cannabis business news… Big business is swooping into the cannabis space with large, multinational corporations like tobacco giant Altria investing in Canadian cannabis producers. “While large-scale investments suggest that the mainstream acceptance of marijuana has reached a significant tipping point, longtime cannabis advocates are worried that the idealistic entrepreneurs who made this moment possible may get left behind.” The New York Times A look at patents filed by Altria in the past five years shows dozens of patents for devices that could be used to consume cannabis. “Many of them bear striking similarities to vape pens and other devices used to consume cannabis that are already on the market.” Leafly Why cannabis companies are considering blockchain. Rolling Stone
Elsewhere around the world… A battle between local and foreign firms is threatening medical marijuana legalization in Thailand. Thai businesses and cannabis activists are concerned about patent requests by foreign companies that could allow them to dominate the market. “Opposition to foreign firms has threatened to stall the legalization process, with researchers and civic networks threatening to sue the government if the patents are granted.” Reuters A cannabis-focused medical clinic opened its doors Subiaco, Australia — the first of its kind in the state of Western Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, the first Boston-area recreational dispensary will open its doors on Saturday in Salem. Boston officials consider whether to restrict marijuana dispensaries near addiction treatment centers. Three weeks after it opened, people are still lining up to get into Northampton’s first recreational cannabis dispensary.
- In Michigan, state regulators approve 24 more medical marijuana licenses. The House approved a bill to ease restrictions on those with small ownership stakes in cannabis businesses.
- In Ohio, the state activated the first 1,000 medical marijuana cards.
- In Nevada, a state senator says he will push for transparency in the marijuana licensing process.
- In Oklahoma, state health officials approved food safety standards for medical marijuana. A lack of regulatory restrictions will lead to a fiercely competitive medical marijuana market.
- In New Jersey, marijuana proponents hold out hope for a vote on the marijuana legalization bill by the end of the year.
- In Florida, Ocala gets its first medical marijuana dispensary.
- In Utah, the state is hiring a cannabis czar.
- In Georgia, two legislative committees recommend allowing medical marijuana cultivation and production in the state.
- In Iowa, the financial viability of the medical marijuana program may be in question.
Word for Word
“A former Evanston police detective has been accused in a sweeping federal indictment of joining the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration so he could protect a vicious Puerto Rico-based drug organization responsible for numerous killings and other violence… he was led into U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox’s courtroom in a T-shirt and blue jeans and shackled at the ankles. As prosecutors began to detail the allegations, several of Gomez’s fellow agents seated in the courtroom gallery exchanged stunned glances and one appeared to cry.” – Jason Meisner and John Keilman for The Chicago Tribune
“As opioid deaths have soared in recent years, police departments and strangers with cameras have started posting raw, uncensored images of drug users passed out with needles in their arms and babies in the back seats of their cars. The videos rack up millions of views and unleash avalanches of outrage. Then some other viral moment comes along, and the country clicks away. But life is never the same for the people whose bleakest, most humiliating moments now live online forever. In interviews with The New York Times, they talked — some for the very first time — about the versions of themselves captured in the videos.” – Katharine Q. Seelye, Julie Turkewitz, Jack Healy and Alan Blinder for The New York Times