Washington and California make it easier to clear cannabis convictions. A deep dive into Colorado’s cannabis taxes. Marijuana reform efforts see hope in conservative states. Also: Scientists say there’s just no way to measure marijuana impairment. 🌳
Clearing cannabis convictions. Washington’s governor announced a plan to help pardon thousands of minor cannabis convictions. Jay Inslee said he is creating an expedited process that would allow those with convictions to apply for a pardon without having to hire a lawyer or go to court. The Associated Press A new law in California will prompt state officials to review and automatically reduce or expunge at least 220,000 cannabis convictions. Meanwhile, a pilot program from Code for America is automating the review process and already showing results in counties around the state. “Clear My Record can securely and accurately read 4,600 criminal records, evaluate eligibility, and generate a court form, in under five minutes.” Los Angeles
Where’s all that pot money going? A team of Denver Post reporters delved into unraveling “the morass of paperwork and bureaucracy that makes up the state’s system of divvying the tens of millions of dollars collected in marijuana taxes each year.” While many voters believed the tax money would go towards education, the state government used “an array of complex calculations and maneuvers” to decide where the bulk of the marijuana revenue would go. Some of it did indeed go towards fixing schools and funding education programs. “But there was so much more. Law enforcement, agriculture and human services were the areas that also benefited from marijuana dollars.” The Denver Post Related: Denver and Boulder have big goals to fight climate change. While the cannabis industry is on board, illicit grows still dominate energy use. Colorado Sun
NYC mayor wants small cannabis businesses. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is most worried about the potential corporatization of cannabis when the drug is legalized in New York. “We have a chance and these two folks and their two colleagues have in their hands a chance to do something that’s never been done before, to literally exclude corporate America and make sure this is a small business community-based industry,” the mayor told two state lawmakers on Thursday. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that he plans to address legalization in his state budget, due in March. WCBS
Congressmen introduce marijuana reform bill. U.S. reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Don Young (R-Alaska) wasted no time in the new session of Congress, re-introducing marijuana reform legislation known as the CARERS Act. Similar legislation by the duo won bipartisan support in the last Congress. The bill would allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies and allow Veterans Affairs doctors recommend the drug. WATE The bill represents “the kind of bipartisan effort that doesn’t happen every day but should serve as an example of how we can solve the problems that our constituents have sent us here to do,” said Young in a statement. Marijuana Moment
‘What am I to do? Go blind?’ Eric Crawford is speaking out about his daily marijuana use in an effort to help reform cannabis laws in Kentucky. Crawford says he knows that the drug is illegal but uses it to treat glaucoma and painful spasms since a spinal cord injury left him bound to a wheelchair. “I’m not in to medical marijuana because I want to but because I have to. With it, I don’t have to take opioids and get hooked on them,” he said. Lexington Herald-Leader Related: The governor of Kentucky said Thursday that legalizing marijuana won’t solve the state’s pension crisis. He estimates that it would take hundreds of years of cannabis tax revenue to replenish the underfunded pension system. WKYT
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A look at marijuana reform efforts in Texas. “I remember when legislators laughed,” said a Texas-based marijuana advocate. Now, change looks like it’s actually possible as advocacy groups in the state band together behind two bills: one to decriminalize personal use and another to legalize medical marijuana. Dallas Morning News While the state is home to a limited medical cannabis program that only allows those with intractable epilepsy to access CBD products, patients who suffer from other ailments are hoping that lawmakers will allow them to consume cannabis legally. “I try to use as little of it as possible because, you know, it’s illegal,” said a veteran who uses marijuana to treat PTSD. “I fought for the laws, I didn’t break the laws. I don’t do this for fun.” Texas Tribune
What scientists are saying… Brain scientists and pharmacologists say they just don’t know how to measure cannabis impairment. While blood and urine tests can show marijuana use, there’s simply no standard to indicate what would constitute “under the influence.” NBC News Researchers from Washington talked about their findings on the effects of cannabis on our brains during an annual meeting of neuroscientists in November. The team of scientists looked into how cannabis could affect different demographic groups and found both possible positive and negative effects. The Spokesman-Review
Cannabis in Canada… On the eve of its first cannabis shipment, an Alberta grow operation suffered an electrical fire. Calgary Herald Luxury weed is the latest trend in Canadian tourism, with companies offering “bespoke itineraries” that include cannabis oil massages and infused dinners. While hotels generally don’t allow cannabis smoking inside, “high-end, smoke friendly” spaces can still be found on vacation rental websites. Vice A former Coca-Cola marketing VP is joining the Colorado-based, CSE-listed Charlotte’s Web as chief growth officer. BNN Bloomberg
Philippine police kill former mayor. The former mayor of the town Parang was killed in a police raid after being accused of drug crimes by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. Talib Abo had a long history of conflict with Duterte, who also used to be a mayor of a Southern Philippine city. “Abo is the 19th local government official to have been slain since Mr. Duterte took office in 2016 and launched a violent drug war, which rights groups estimate has killed as many as 20,000 people.” The New York Times
The bid to legalize psilocybin in Oregon. Organizers of an effort to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in the state are working towards collecting 112,000 signatures. One of the co-sponsors of the initiative, Tom Eckert, hopes that voters will realize that the initiative would not legalize the substance like the cannabis legalization measure. Rather, the proposal would legalize psilocybin treatment with a doctor’s medical clearance and a “licensed facilitator.” JPR
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, cannabis commission receives an extra $3 million to oversee medical marijuana. Charlton’s planning board rejected a proposal for a large cannabis cultivation facility.
- In Ohio, how patients can get a medical marijuana card. Cannabis advocates saw their bank accounts shut down.
- In Vermont, the Senate is expected to advance marijuana retail legislation (but its chances in the House are slimmer).
- In Florida, a push to get recreational legalization on the ballot is gaining steam. A medical marijuana company plans to bring edibles to the medical marijuana market.
- In Pennsylvania, lawmakers are pushing forward with marijuana legalization efforts.
- In New Jersey, the attorney general talks preparation for legalization.
- In Indiana, a state appeals court dismissed a lawsuit by a church seeking to use marijuana on the basis of religious freedom. Marijuana reform divides Republican state lawmakers.
- In Rhode Island, the health department considers using medical marijuana to treat opioid dependency.
- In Maryland, some lawmakers are planning to create a work group to study marijuana legalization.
- In Idaho, the governor-elect warned that hemp legalization could be “camouflage for the marijuana trade.”
Word for Word
“Embracing cannabis in Sonoma County means building a future foundation for our county to continue to be a strong and resilient community. This group of individuals has taken to trying to halt the growth of this industry, an industry that will actually enable the future economic health and viability of this county, using false rhetoric and intimidation. The intimidation tactics must end. The vote for legal, licensed cannabis has already been decided. It’s time that permits and licenses are processed and granted. Sonoma County needs to keep moving forward, without fear of change and without instilling fear in those of us legally leading the charge.” – Cannabis permit applicant Sam Magruder for The Press Democrat
“I don’t know what Jeff Sessions’s intentions were when he rescinded the Cole memo, but strictly from a cannabis policy reform standpoint it really helped to advance the ball. He started a chain reaction that directly led to the STATES Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that addresses the majority of the issues the cannabis industry faces and is supported by the president. We now have a real opportunity to pass game-changing legislation into law in during this Congress.” – Cannabis Trade Federation CEO Neal Levine, Marijuana Moment