New marijuana research surprises scientists. Another Arizona medical marijuana patient gets busted for extracts he purchased from a licensed dispensary. Utah’s Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging the legislature’s marijuana law, surprising advocates. Also: Maine’s governor is working with lawmakers on a bill to allow edible CBD products. 🌳
Surprising results from cannabis research. Researchers at Harvard expected to find marijuana use associated with lower sperm counts in men (as previous research on the subject has shown). So they were surprised to find that marijuana use was associated with higher sperm counts. Analyzing more than 1,100 sperm samples, the scientists found that “those who had smoked weed at some point in their life had a mean sperm concentration of 62.7 million sperm per milliliter (mL) of ejaculate, while men who’d avoided marijuana entirely had mean concentrations of 45.4 million/mL.” Quartz While traffic deaths rose after marijuana legalization in three states, new research found that the increase was temporary. The study’s co-author theorizes that the temporary uptick was due to an increase in newer, inexperienced cannabis consumers. “This finding is the latest in a series of seemingly back-and-forth studies on the topic.” The Verge
Another patient gets busted for cannabis extracts. An Arizona cancer patient who used medical marijuana on his oncologist’s recommendation is facing up to 10 years in prison for possessing a cannabis concentrate that he had purchased from a state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary. He was stopped in Yavapai County, the same county that prosecuted another medical marijuana patient for possessing a cannabis extract. That case landed a man in prison, but will be heard by the state Supreme Court in March. At issue is the county attorney’s interpretation that cannabis extracts don’t qualify as medical marijuana under state law. She refuses to say why her office hasn’t prosecuted licensed medical cannabis dispensaries for selling extracts. KNXV Related: Even the Republican state attorney general has taken the side of medical marijuana patients in such cases. Phoenix New Times
SCOTUS and drug-sniffing dogs. A case currently pending before the Supreme Court will weigh in on whether police must obtain a warrant to use drug sniffing dogs outside an apartment door. Fourth Amendment issues aside, here’s another issue: “Multiple analyses of drug-dog alerts have consistently shown alarmingly high error rates — with some close to and exceeding 50 percent. In effect, some of these K-9 units are worse than a coin flip.” It’s not the dogs’ fault. “We’ve bred into them another overriding trait: the desire to please. Even drug dogs with conscientious handlers will read their handlers’ unintentional body language and alert accordingly… If the Fourth Amendment rights of drug suspects hinge on drug dogs, one would think the accuracy of those dogs would be something the Supreme Court might want to investigate. You’d be wrong.” The Washington Post
You’d think a former Calif. governor would know better… Former California governor Jerry Brown thinks people who consume marijuana are just a bunch of lazy, unproductive stoners. “I was over there in China and I looked out the window. It’s 12 o’clock at night and these people are all working on the scaffolds up 20 or 30 stories on a building. They never stopped,” he said. “I said, ‘well my god—the Americans would all be stoned by this time,'” said Brown. Marijuana Moment
The story of how an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur ended up murdered. Tomi Masters moved away from rural Indiana to pursue her dreams of working in the cannabis industry in California. Her boss at a medical marijuana dispensary described her patience and generosity as indispensible. “She never stopped giving… She was such a powerful, energetic, positive person.” But then she called in sick and started missing work. “She met a hacker who introduced her to a dark new world of digital manipulation, suspicion, paranoia, and fear — one that swallowed her alive and left her floating in a river in the Philippines.” BuzzFeed News
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The fight over medical marijuana in Utah. The Utah Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in March challenging the legislature’s medical marijuana bill that replaced the voter-approved ballot initiative. “The move surprised even supporters, who knew they faced a longshot challenge.” Medical marijuana advocates, opponents, and state lawmakers all expressed surprise at the court’s decision. Still, the Senate Majority Leader believed that the court would uphold the legislature-passed law. WHBQ Voters are divided on the issue, but seem to support the legislature. Fifty-one percent of voters supported the legislature-passed bill, 41 percent of voters opposed the law, and 7 percent did not have an opinion on it, according to a new poll. The Salt Lake Tribune
Company sues Louisiana ag department over MMJ testing. A New Orleans company that sought to become the state’s medical cannabis testing lab is suing the Louisiana agriculture department for rejecting its bid for the contract. “The agency last year issued an emergency rule allowing it to test medical marijuana itself after saying the department could not find any suitable companies to test the products.” The lawsuit says that the agency has an “irreconcilable conflict of interest” in doing the testing itself. The department said that all three companies that applied to become the state-sanctioned testing lab failed to meet qualifications. The Advocate
On cannabis science… A new type of company is emerging in the cannabis space — one that seeks to pot products without cannabis plants. A California-based company inked a $255 million deal to convert sugar into cannabinoids, with an initial focus on CBD. Two other recent deals aim to ferment cannabinoids that supposedly allows producers to control for quality and dosage. Bloomberg Caryophyllene is a unique terpene, found in cannabis, black pepper, basil, and other herbs and spices. “The unique molecular structure of caryophyllene allows it to easily bind to CB2 receptors… providing many of the benefits associated with activating those receptors, like reducing inflammation. It’s unlike any other terpene because it is the only one that has the ability to directly activate a cannabinoid receptor.” Leafly
Today in cannabis business news… Some industry analysts predict an increase in short-sellers and shareholder activism “after several critical reports highlighted inadequate corporate governance practices that led to management shakeups.” BNN Bloomberg A multi-state marijuana operator based in Chicago is moving into Massachusetts with a $30 million acquisition. Marijuana Business Daily Some companies are racing to develop cannabis-infused beverages, theorizing that the method of consumption will help win over new consumers. “But there’s one problem: Pot is nothing like booze.” Bloomberg Quint
Elsewhere around the world… Health Canada suspended a medical marijuana producer’s license after an investigation found that the firm processed and sold product from an unlicensed source. Marijuana Business Daily Cannabis companies in Uruguay are betting on cannabis exports. The Associated Press A delegation of 20 senior government officials from Thailand traveled to Israel to learn about medical cannabis and explore avenues of collaboration between the two countries. The Jerusalem Post A Senate panel in the Philippines opened its hearing on a proposal to legalize medical marijuana in the country. The Philippine Daily Inquirer
Word on the States
- In Oregon, a bill would stop medical providers from discriminating against medical marijuana patients for organ transplants. Legal experts doubt a plan to allow cannabis exports.
- In California, Los Angeles begins Phase 2 of marijuana business licensing.
- In Alaska, the cannabis industry is concerned about the governor’s appointments to the state’s marijuana board.
- In Nebraska, two state senators filed a proposed ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana.
- In Nevada, Clark county is postponing discussions about marijuana lounges, deferring the issue to the state advisory board.
- In Michigan, a cannabis activist hopes to put social marijuana use on the 2020 Ann Arbor ballot.
- In Maine, the governor is working with lawmakers on a bill to allow the sale of edible CBD products.
- In Arkansas, 32 business were formally awarded medical marijuana licenses.
- In Florida, the agriculture commissioner is expected to name a Nashville consultant as her Director of Cannabis. A woman with a substance use disorder is being prosecuted for manslaughter after she helped set up a drug deal.
- In New Hampshire, lawmakers held a public hearing on a bill to legalize marijuana. The governor remains opposed to legalization.
- In Pennsylvania, the governor says he is not ready to fast-track recreational marijuana.
- In North Dakota, the Senate approved a bill that would remove marijuana from the definition of “farming or ranching.”
- In West Virginia, Republicans in the legislature rejected an attempt by Democrats to reschedule marijuana.
- In New York, a post office in Buffalo is being transformed into a hemp processing plant.
Word for Word
“The $120 surcharges for these non-criminal offenses are a bargain compared to the surcharges for low-level misdemeanors like jumping a turnstile or marijuana possession, which cost $250… The same charge must be imposed on the city’s poorest and wealthiest people alike. This kind of ‘equality’ results in a mere nuisance to a person of means who can pay without a second thought, but a major burden to a poor person who is struggling to save every dollar in order to survive in an increasingly expensive city. For some, the economic burden of a surcharge is insurmountable.” – Speaker of the New York City Council Corey Johnson and president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law Michael Waldman for The New York Daily News
“The endeavor has the air of political theater. [Steve] Bannon told POLITICO that his team is studying whether its [border] wall could be constructed from the hemp-based building material hempcrete. ‘Do you understand the irony of using hempcrete to keep out marijuana?’ Bannon said. The group has entered into a partnership with the Kansas-based America’s Hemp Academy to supply the material if it is selected, according to organizers.” – Ben Schreckinger for Politico