William Barr was sworn in as attorney general. Marijuana company board member Bill Weld considers challenging Trump for the GOP presidential nomination. More than a dozen people in Chicago got their drug convictions tossed due to police misconduct. Also: Teens in states with legal medical marijuana are less likely to smoke weed. 🌳
Senate confirms Barr as AG. William Barr was sworn in as the U.S. attorney general on Thursday, hours after the Senate confirmed him in a 54-to-45, party-line vote. The New York Times Barr has previously assured senators that he would not go after state-legal marijuana activities that violate federal law. One advocate said that his comments were “encouraging, but we do need to remain vigilant to keep him to hold his word to the American people.” However, he also made clear that he supports federal prohibition. “I think it’s a mistake to back off on marijuana,” Barr said. CBS News
Bill Weld to challenge Trump. William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts-turned marijuana hype man, is the first Republican to seriously consider challenging president Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2020. Weld said he had created a presidential exploratory committee. “The move makes Trump the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.” Weld previously ran on the Libertarian ticket with former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, and re-registered as a Republican. The Associated Press
Using marijuana delivery to help those harmed by drug war. The Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board voted for a proposal to allow marijuana home delivery and grant such licenses “only to small companies and people from communities disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs.” While the vote is not legally binding, the board’s recommendation will be sent to state marijuana regulators for consideration. Despite arguments against the proposal from public health and police members, almost everyone on the advisory board voted in favor of it. The Boston Globe
Today in law enforcement behaving badly… Fourteen Chicago men had their drug convictions tossed due to the misconduct of two police officers involved in their cases. The two former cops, sergeant Ronald Watts and officer Kallatt Mohammed, were arrested for stealing $5,200 of what they thought was drug trafficking money from someone who turned out to be an informant for FBI and Chicago Police investigators. The story brought attention to the dozens of innocent people who had been arrested by Watts and his team over the years. A total of 63 people have had their cases vacated as a result. Many have already served time in prison as a result of the wrongful convictions. “It is a stain on the city,” said a lawyer who worked on some of their cases. The New York Times
Student activist charged for Facebook Live stream. Twenty-year-old student activist Jake Burdett was charged with wiretapping after he streamed a meeting with a congressional staffer on Facebook Live during a Maryland Marijuana Justice rally outside U.S. rep. Andy Harris’s office in October. Burdett plans to plead guilty to receive community service and probation. Burdett said “he continued to stream the meeting on Facebook Live without the staffer’s consent but said he was not aware it was against the law and deleted the footage the following day after finding out it was illegal… he was upset that citizens and constituents are not allowed to record conversations with paid staffers of public officials in a taxpayer-funded space.” “It saddens me that Rep. Harris has decided to needlessly drop the hammer to make an example out of me over a mistake I quickly corrected and apologized for,” said Burdett. The Baltimore Sun
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Weed and booze are not the same. The top marijuana regulator in Massachusetts defended how the Cannabis Control Commission developed rules for the legal marijuana trade after being questioned about the differences in cannabis and alcohol regulations. “I think there are some fundamental differences between alcoholic beverages and cannabis, one of which is that cannabis is still federally illegal. Whether we like that or not, it’s a fact,” he said. “I think we can learn from the alcoholic beverages regulatory structure, but it’s not the same.” He added that marijuana regulations could become more relaxed as the drug becomes more accepted by society, like alcohol. The Boston Globe
Lack of details in legalization law sowing confusion. California voters were promised that some marijuana tax revenue would be spent on youth substance abuse programs. But a year after legal sales started, there’s still no funding for such programs. There is a “lack of clear guidelines for how that funding would be divvied up, and how programs would be run and evaluated.” The program has had a slow start, with marijuana tax revenues much lower than initial estimates. “Funding for youth-education programs would be included in a third tier of spending, and so far there hasn’t been enough tax money to provide that share, officials say.” But even with the funds, there are still unanswered questions about how the programs would work. The Associated Press
Teens in MMJ-legal states use less weed. A new study in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse looked at 800,000 high school students in 45 states. The researchers found that teens in states that had legalized medical marijuana smoked less cannabis compared to teens in states that hadn’t legalized it — “even when accounting for other important variables such as tobacco and alcohol policies, economic trends, youth characteristics and state demographics.” There were 1.1 percent fewer teenage cannabis users in MMJ-legal states. “When we looked at particular subgroups of adolescents, this reduction became even more pronounced. For example, 3.9 percent less Black and 2.7 percent less Hispanic youths now use marijuana in states with [medical marijuana laws],” said the lead researcher of the study. Medical Xpress Related: In other research news, scientists in Canada are looking into hemp protein to treat and prevent high blood pressure. Leafly
Today in cannabis business news… The largest pension fund in the U.S., the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, has tripled its holdings of a Canadian cannabis producer. It also bought more shares of Constellation Brands, which has invested billions into the cannabis industry. Barron’s A company led by a Goldman Sachs alumnus is raising $75 million for debt financing in the cannabis industry. Bloomberg A special committee concluded that that some of Aphria’s board members had conflicts of interest in its acquisition of Latam Holdings Inc. MarketWatch “In November, California-based cannabis retailer MedMen began advertising for a crisis management planning manager… In hindsight, the posting seemed quite prescient.” Here’s a closer look at MedMen’s problems and what that means for the company. Marijuana Business Daily
Jamaica to lobby US on cannabis banking. The U.S. is facing pressure to allow banks to serve the cannabis industry not just from within its own borders. A Jamaican official said the country will use “all available diplomatic resources” to lobby the U.S. to resolve issues of cannabis banking. The country’s local banks fear serving its own cannabis businesses “fearing international de-risking that could have serious economic implications for Jamaica.” She said that de-risking mainly affects smaller, developing countries. CCN TV6
For Today I Am a Boy. This week’s playlist highlights many great trans artists as well as other songs by non-trans people which encapsulate the sinking feeling which arrives with gender dysphoria. Sometimes, what we need is music that shows us the darkest and brightest depths of our emotions — something weed can help with too. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In California, the governor taps the head of San Francisco’s cannabis office for a state role.
- In Alaska, an Anchorage credit union will begin serving the cannabis industry in March.
- In Washington, a Senate committee is considering a bill to provide clemency for hundreds of thousands of marijuana convictions.
- In Massachusetts, a look at the Boston mayor’s journey to accepting supervised injection sites. Worcester’s planning board approved a marijuana manufacturing operation.
- In Georgia, new legislation proposes allowing medical marijuana production and sales within the state.
- In Louisiana, regulatory hurdles may delay the launch of the medical marijuana program even more.
- In Virginia, the Senate passed a law to protect students who use CBD and THC-A oils, sending it to the House.
- In New Jersey, the mayor of Barnegat is pushing back on legalization. Fair Lawn police charged a 13-year-old girl for giving a marijuana edible to a classmate.
- In New York, a look at a proposed marijuana facility in Buffalo. NYC Council members filed a dozen marijuana-related proposals.
- In Illinois, Highland Park officials are worried about recreational legalization.
- In Pennsylvania, the state attorney general dodged questions from lawmakers about marijuana legalization.
- In Florida, Miami Beach passed restrictions for medical marijuana businesses.
- In New Mexico, a state senator introduced a bill to legalize marijuana and allow the state to operate dispensaries.
- In Missouri, a House committee approved a bill to expunge marijuana convictions for medical marijuana patients.
- In South Dakota, the state attorney general asks lawmakers to hold off on legalizing industrial hemp.
Word for Word
“[Barneys creative director, Matthew] told me that although Barneys didn’t have any specific plans to wade into cannabis-adjacent philanthropy, it’s something the company would look at in the future. Even the most socially responsible cannabis entrepreneur can only do so much to directly affect positive change, but the investment of large, traditionally respectable companies like Barneys probably does make it more difficult for anti-marijuana hard-liners to convincingly characterize the drug as a health scourge for dangerous deviants for much longer. Elected officials might be able to tune out advocacy, but they seem historically less inclined to tune out money.” – Amanda Mull for The Atlantic
“If you had told police Sgt. Tom Boudreau in 1985 that he would one day be directing traffic for the town’s first marijuana store he would have called you ‘crazy.’ But that’s exactly what he was doing on Wednesday, standing outside the former police station at 62 Packard St., which served as a satellite parking lot for the marijuana shop. ‘Things are changing,’ Boudreau said as he waited for customers to board shuttle buses.” – Cesareo Contreras for The MetroWest Daily News