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. 👉 Support Word on the Tree
Thursday | January 10, 2018. U.S. rep. Blumenauer introduced a legalization bill and welcomed new chairs to the cannabis caucus. Miami police officers are allowed to cite people for marijuana instead of arresting them, but arrests for pot possession have increased. More rebuttals to Tell Your Children from scientists, researchers, and doctors. Also: ‘The unexpected literary pleasure of marijuana reviews.’ 🌳
Cannabis in Congress. U.S. rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced a bill that seeks to regulate marijuana like alcohol. It would deschedule marijuana and would give regulatory authority to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Associated Press “While the bill number may be a bit tongue in cheek, the issue is very serious. Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives,” Blumenauer said in a statement, referencing the bill number H.R. 420. Forbes Blumenauer also revealed new co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus: U.S. reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), who will take the places of former reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). Lee is the first woman of color to co-chair the caucus and spoke about her commitment to criminal justice issues within cannabis reform. Marijuana Moment
So much for officer “discretion.” In 2015, Miami-Dade commissioners approved a measure that would allow police to issue civil citations instead of arresting people for minor pot possession. At the time, many police departments signed up for the program. Instead of arresting fewer people for marijuana, the Miami-area police arrested more people for pot possession in 2018 compared to the previous two years. “Police forces do utilize the civil citation option, but mostly for white people. Data obtained by New Times in August found 72 percent of the 10,078 total citations for small amounts of pot from the Miami-Dade Police Department went to white people.” Miami New Times
Against reefer madness. The author of Tell Your Children has been making the TV rounds, citing the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in arguing that there is a “true link” between marijuana use and schizophrenia or psychosis. CNBC Researcher Dr. Ziva Cooper, a committee member on the NASEM report, took to Twitter to explain that “we did NOT conclude that cannabis causes schizophrenia” and also that the report found “an association between cannabis use and IMPROVED cognitive outcomes in individuals with psychotic disorders.” Twitter / @zivacooper “I’ve worked in an inner city clinic in Boston for the last ten years, and we haven’t attributed any violent crimes to cannabis. So I tend to think the author is using this unsubstantiated origin story, which makes no distinction between correlation and causation, to prop up his phony theories,” said Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School instructor. Leafly
Getting out of prison. Hispanic rights activist Ramsey Muniz was released from prison after serving 24 years. Muniz was sentenced to life without parole for drug charges (he was sentenced under ‘three-strikes’ rules). He was released on compassionate grounds as the 75-year-old is now in poor health and confined to a wheelchair. The Associated Press Calvin Bryant Jr. was a college football player in Tennessee when he was given a 17-year sentence for selling drugs — “a sentence harsher than the one he would have received for rape or second-degree murder.” His case has raised awareness for unreasonable sentencing laws and a new county prosecutor has stopped prosecuting cases like Bryant’s. The D.A. agreed on a deal to allow Bryant to be released after serving 10 years. Now, he’s seeking a pardon from the governor. Nashville Scene
Marijuana reform in Kentucky. A Republican state senator spoke about his own experience consuming cannabis when introducing a bipartisan bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. “I threw [the Oxycontin] in the garbage can and went home and smoked a joint… And guess what? No nausea. I was able to function. I was going through the (chemo) treatment. It was during the legislative session, I did not miss a day due to nausea from the cancer,” said the 77-year-old lawmaker. While the bill enjoys support from the House, the Senate president has expressed opposition to it. The Associated Press Still, backers of the bill expressed optimism that support for the legislation is growing in the Senate. WDRB
🚨 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 New York City Cannabis Film Festival will be showing cannabis-inspired flicks this Sunday in Brooklyn. Presented by High NY, Word on the Tree readers get $5 off with the code: WOTT5. Tickets: Eventbrite / NYCFF
MMJ patients say they’ve reduced their use of pharmaceuticals. A survey of medical marijuana patients at a pro-cannabis event found that 42 percent of them stopped using a pharmaceutical drug and 38 percent used less of a pharmaceutical drug thanks to medical cannabis. “The most common drugs that patients stopped or reduced using were opioid-based painkillers, non-opioid painkillers, benzodiazepines and anti-depressants.” “Given the growing use of cannabis for medical purposes and the widespread use for recreation purposes despite criminalization, the current public health framework focusing primarily on cannabis abstinence appears obsolete,” wrote the researchers. Marijuana Moment
In cannabis business news… Shares of alcohol giant Constellation Brands, which made a $4 billion investment in cannabis company Canopy Growth, fell to a two-year low. Canopy Growth lost $164 million in the fourth quarter of last year. Axios A study by the Distilled Spirits Council found that marijuana hasn’t hurt alcohol sales in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. CNBC American golfer Scott McCarron became the first PGA Tour player to sign an endorsement deal with a hemp company. McCarron touted the company’s hemp oil for helping him stay focused and recover. Reuters High Times has some new competition. Print might be dying but marijuana magazines are thriving and are “helping the archetype of marijuana smokers as shaggy-haired, bloodshot-eyed burnouts evolve into one of cultured, luxury-designer-wearing members of the creative class.” The New York Times
Cannabis in Canada. Canadian cannabis consumers are paying nearly 50 percent more for legal marijuana compared to black-market sources. The country has been struggling with a flourishing black market as the regulated market is unable to meet demand. BNN Bloomberg California cannabis company MJIC is planning to list on the Canadian Securities Exchange through a reverse takeover. Bloomberg
In praise of marijuana strain reviews. “There is a joyful corner of the internet where people don’t argue, trolls don’t troll, and the only kind of self-consciousness is an exploration of consciousness itself: the review sections of marijuana websites, where users of all stripes write eclectic assessments of their favorite weed strains.” This writer loves strain reviews for their “mixture of awe and nonchalance” and inclusion of “philosophical or poetic investigations of spirituality.” Lit Hub
Word on the States
- In Maine, four lawmakers are pursuing legislation aimed at sealing or expunging past cannabis convictions.
- In Massachusetts, an advisory panel voted to recommend cannabis cafes and home delivery.
- In Washington, a look at the cannabis regulatory issues that the state is considering. Regulators voted to give marijuana businesses until next year to comply with new packaging regulations.
- In New York, the governor cautions against high marijuana taxes. County health officials are concerned about the “harmful consequences” of marijuana legalization.
- In Ohio, a medical board committee will study adding more ailments to the medical marijuana program. The first MMJ sales are expected next week. Dayton city leaders voted to decriminalize marijuana.
- In Arkansas, the state moves closer to launching its medical marijuana program.
- In Oklahoma, the governor approves regulations for cannabis edibles.
- In Nevada, the governor signed an executive order to collect sexual harassment and discrimination policies from marijuana businesses.
- In Michigan, state regulators updated a list of communities opting out of marijuana businesses. More than half of medical marijuana patients in the state said they have driven while high, according to a survey.
- In Missouri, state officials refuse to disclose medical marijuana license applicants. Medical marijuana backers announced an industry trade show in the state.
- In Maryland, medical cannabis patients find community on a ‘canna crawl’ bus.
- In Minnesota, state officials are discussing how to regulate CBD.
- In Indiana, pro-marijuana lawmakers urge proponents to keep fighting despite the governor’s opposition to legalization.
Word for Word
“The days of high crime when [Queens district attorney Richard] Brown took office are long gone. The murder rate has fallen to its lowest level since the 1950s, and prosecutors are rethinking their roles in a system where success once hinged on the number of convictions their offices amassed. The conversation among urban liberals has turned to avoiding wrongful convictions and ending hard-nosed policies — like targeting minor offenses as a means to reducing major crimes — that critics have argued led to the incarceration of too many black and Hispanic men. Prosecutors in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn have scaled back the prosecution of marijuana offenses and fare evasion, established conviction review units and have stopped asking for bail in minor cases. Mr. Brown, critics say, has not kept pace.” – Jan Ransom for The New York Times
“Likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) released a new memoir this week. In The Truths We Hold, Harris touts her record as a ‘progressive prosecutor,’ but the book glosses over numerous instances where her office defended prosecutorial misconduct… Harris explicitly acknowledges the immense power of prosecutors in the criminal justice system and the myriad misconduct issues it has created… What her book doesn’t address, however, is the many times her own office contributed to that dark history.” – C.J. Ciaramella for Reason