Prospective attorney general Bill Barr offers some reassurance to the cannabis industry. Disagreement is brewing in Congress over medical marijuana for veterans. Baltimore will stop prosecuting marijuana possession offenses. Also: How New York governor Cuomo’s legalization plan favors existing medical cannabis producers in the state. 🌳
Bill Barr confirms that he won’t crack down on cannabis. President Trump’s attorney general nominee confirmed in written responses to questions from the Senate that he would not crack down on cannabis offenses that adhere to the now-rescinded Cole Memo guidance. But he also said that he has “not closely considered or determined whether further administrative guidance would be appropriate.” Meanwhile, he still opposes marijuana reform. Vox Still, advocates welcomed his comments. Barr expressed a desire to increase the number of research marijuana cultivators and also acknowledged the legal changes for hemp-derived CBD due to the 2018 Farm Bill. Forbes
Medical marijuana for veterans. While many members of Congress agree that veterans should be able to access medical marijuana, lawmakers disagree on the best way to do that. One bipartisan measure directs Veterans Affairs to conduct a clinical trial on cannabis for chronic pain, PTSD, and other ailments. But one lawmaker who backed the legislation last session has now broken off and introduced his own bill, calling on the VA to conduct research — but without clinical requirements. “Supporters of the other measure say leaving out those specifics gives VA room to potentially sabotage the research, omitting key symptoms or questions in favor of broader, less controversial findings.” Military Times Related: The executive director for the Missouri Veterans Commission said that residents and employees at veterans nursing homes would be barred from using state-legal medical marijuana in order to “comply with federal guidelines.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Lawmakers introduce marijuana legalization bill Minnesota. As support for marijuana reform around the country grows, lawmakers in Minnesota are hoping to capitalize on the momentum. The lawmakers’ proposal would set up a regulated cannabis market to launch in 2022, which is buoyed by the support of a new governor, too. The legislation would give regulatory control to communities, allow home cultivation, and expunge past pot convictions. One Republican senator who represents a “pretty conservative” district said 90 percent of attendees at a recent town hall agreed that it was time to begin a discussion about marijuana legalization. The Associated Press The proposal is already facing opposition in the legislature. “I don’t think it has a chance to pass the Senate this year,” said the Senate Majority Leader. West Central Tribune
Baltimore to stop prosecuting marijuana offenses. Baltimore’s top prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said her office would stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases and would also seek to vacate nearly 5,000 convictions. “If you ask that mom whose son was killed where she would rather us spend our time and our attention — on solving that murder or prosecuting marijuana laws — it’s a no-brainer,” said Mosby. She also said that such convictions hampers investigations into more serious crimes because communities targeted by drug enforcement are less willing to cooperate with law enforcement. Those charged with a first-time offense of felony marijuana distribution would also be referred to a diversion program under her new rules. The New York Times
The U.S. hemp industry surges. Production of industrial hemp in the U.S. is booming. Hemp farmers grew three times as much hemp in 2018 compared to 2017, according to a report from a hemp advocacy organization. That number is expected to increase even more now that the federal government has legalized the crop. “We expect demand for American hemp to continue to increase and project that at least 125,000 acres of hemp will be planted nationally in 2019,” said the president of Vote Hemp. Marijuana Moment A Kentucky-based hemp producer said Monday that it had developed hemp plants without any traces of THC. The zero-THC hemp variety “is a breakthrough because growers won’t have to worry at all about THC levels. GenCanna plans to patent the breakthrough.” Courier Journal
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Four officers shot in no-knock drug raid. Narcotics officers who broke down a door during a drug raid in Houston, Texas were met with a hail of gunfire that wounded four officers. Two people who were suspected of being drug dealers were killed in the returning fire. Houston Chronicle Related: No-knock drug raids can fuel the risk of violence for law enforcement and suspects. Here’s a deep dive into the unintended consequences of such tactics. The New York Times
Emerging research on cannabis policies. A study on second-hand cannabis smoke in apartment buildings is less than one year into its two-year investigation. So far, researchers have found four out of 10 landlords support smoking bans on their properties, while another four out of 10 don’t support any type of smoke-free policy. Interestingly, two out of 10 support bans on tobacco smoke but not cannabis smoke. At a cannabis conference for researchers and policymakers, attendees also discussed the lack of data on workplace safety in the industry, especially chemical and microbiological exposure for workers. Cannabis Wire
In cannabis business news… New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s marijuana legalization plan would favor existing large medical cannabis operators. While his proposal prohibits cannabis businesses from holding supply, distribution, and retail licenses, existing medical marijuana companies would be allowed to hold all three types of licenses. Cannabis Wire A group of California officials are trying to cut marijuana taxes in an effort to help the regulated industry compete with the still-persistent black market. The Los Angeles Times American cannabis companies has dominated fundraising on the Canadian Securities Exchange, raising nearly $2 billion in 2018. Marijuana Business Daily Former NFL running back Tiki Barber talks about why he’s investing in the cannabis industry. CNN
The growing problem of pot and pets. The ASCPA Poison Control Center has seen a 765 percent increase in marijuana-related calls over the past decade. The call center’s medical director attributes the uptick to a wider availability of cannabis edibles — especially with dogs’ appetite for human food. (Cats tend to go for plant material, she says.) Ingesting cannabis can be especially dangerous for dogs, who are more sensitive to THC than humans. Meanwhile, cannabis products for pets are also on the rise, despite a lack of research on how different animals respond to various cannabinoids and dosages. Mashable
Correcting Berenson. Mother Jones, which published an article outlining the arguments made by Alex Berenson in Tell Your Children, appended a correction to the piece, saying that it “overstated” conclusions about marijuana and mental health. “A handful of other facts and statements in the piece have been updated for accuracy,” it read. Leafly That doesn’t mean marijuana can’t be problematic. After all, there are people who become dependent on the drug, and his book fails to tell their stories. The Guardian “Lending alarmists like Berenson such a sizable platform only obscures the more meaningful conversation that needs to happen on the subject of legalization… Focusing on hyperbolic claims only detracts from our ability to do so.” The Nation
Word on the States
- In California, an L.A. doctor could lose his license for recommending marijuana cookies for a 4-year-old’s temper tantrums.
- In Maine, officials restart their search for a marijuana regulation consultant.
- In Vermont, the tax-and-regulate marijuana bill faces an uncertain future, as it doesn’t address the governor’s concerns with impaired driving.
- In Illinois, state lawmakers explained their cannabis legalization proposal. Officials scheduled a public hearing on industrial hemp rules.
- In Louisiana, frustrated patients are still waiting for access to medical cannabis.
- In Virginia, seven medical cannabis companies appealed medical cannabis license decisions.
- In Florida, a state senator filed a second bill aimed at ending the medical marijuana smoking ban.
Word for Word
“Before Geoffrey Pesce got on methadone, his addiction to heroin and oxycodone nearly destroyed him: He lost his home, his job, custody of his son—and his driver’s license. So even after he began to rebuild his life, Pesce relied on his parents to drive him to a methadone clinic for his daily dose. One day last July, his mother was unexpectedly unavailable, and desperate not to relapse, he drove himself. En route, Pesce was pulled over for going six miles above the speed limit and charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license, which carries at least 60 days in jail. Pesce began staring down the day he would plead guilty and, as mandated by the rules of the jail in Essex County, Massachusetts, stop taking the addiction drug that he said saved his life.” – Beth Schwartzapfel for The Marshall Project