Some Democratic presidential hopefuls aren’t so keen on marijuana legalization. A judge dismissed a federal lawsuit against a hemp farm. New Mexico’s House passes a marijuana legalization bill. Also: How the NHL is leading marijuana policy. 🌳
Presidential candidates against cannabis reform. Former Colorado governor and presidential hopeful John Hickenlooper may have stood up for his state’s decision to legalize marijuana, but doesn’t think the federal government should legalize it. “I don’t think the federal government should come in and tell every state it should be legalized,” he told reporters. He does, however, support rescheduling marijuana. The Hill Hickenlooper isn’t the only Democrat who is out of step with his party and with the public. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is considering a presidential run. Brown hasn’t endorsed a single piece of marijuana reform during his time in Congress. Forbes Related: Meanwhile, a recent poll found that 60 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, while 33 percent opposed it. nj.com
Presidential candidates and criminal justice reform. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and U.S. rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) have introduced criminal justice reform legislation known as the Next Step Act. The bill would reduce sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, prohibit employers from asking about criminal histories, and also allow those with convictions to obtain occupational licenses. It also includes Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, which would reform federal marijuana policy with an emphasis on criminal justice and social equity. nj.com While Democrats generally support criminal justice reforms, Booker could be the first presidential candidate to make it a central focus of his campaign. Mother Jones Related: Fellow senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) took responsibility for a crime lab scandal during her time as San Francisco district attorney. The Washington Post
Judge dismisses federal hemp lawsuit. A U.S. district judge ruled against a federal lawsuit against a hemp farm in Mason County, W.Va. The U.S. attorney prosecuting the case argued that the farmers broke federal drug laws by obtaining hemp seeds from Kentucky rather than internationally. But the judge ruled that the 2018 spending bill prohibited the Justice Department from using federal funds to crack down on the hemp industry. “The Court rightly concluded that industrial hemp is not a controlled substance, and wisely rejected the government’s misguided efforts to inject itself into areas of oversight that congress reserved to the states,” an attorney for the hemp farm said in a statement. The U.S. Attorney could still appeal the case. Charleston Gazette-Mail
The unregulated CBD market. Texas passed limited medical marijuana legislation in 2015, setting up a program allowing high-CBD cannabis products for patients with intractable epilepsy. Three companies have received state licenses and can sell cannabis products that have less than 0.5 percent THC. But the unregulated CBD market is booming, forcing the licensed businesses to compete CBD-selling gas stations and convenience stores. State-legal CBD products can cost $95 to $340. Meanwhile, only 686 patients are enrolled in the state medical cannabis program. The Dallas Morning News Related: Despite FDA chief Scott Gottlieb’s resignation, a spokesperson for the agency said that a public hearing on CBD is still in the works. Cannabis Wire
State Houses pass marijuana legislation. Move over New York and New Jersey — New Mexico might be the next state to legalize weed. The state House passed a measure that would legalize recreational marijuana. In a 36 to 34 vote, House reps. sent the legislation to the Senate for consideration. The governor has expressed support for the bill. But it’s chances in the Senate are still unclear. Santa Fe New Mexican The Hawaii House passed a bill that would decriminalize adult use of marijuana. The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration. The legislation would fine those caught with small amounts of marijuana, but would dismiss any criminal charges. Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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A small town wrestles with a cannabis club. Doobie’s Tavern, a marijuana social club, recently opened up in Elsie, Mich. — a small town with less than 1,000 residents. The entrepreneurs behind Doobie’s were inspired to create the space after hearing from friends about how difficult it is to find a place to legally consume marijuana. Adult-use cannabis is legal for adults, but public use is not allowed. The private club is drawing consternation from some residents, especially after the village opted out of the state’s marijuana program. Now, local officials are set to discuss an ordinance that would limit private clubs in the downtown area. Lansing State Journal
How the NHL is leading on marijuana policy. The NHL is the pro sports league with the most lenient marijuana policy. A pro hockey player who lives in a marijuana-legal state could consume cannabis without repercussions, but a pro football player couldn’t do the same. Of the 123 teams in the MLB, the NBA, NHL and NFL, 82 percent of them are located in jurisdictions that allow medical or recreational marijuana. Here’s a look at how the NHL’s policy allows players to seek substance abuse treatment if they need it, but doesn’t punish them for testing positive for drugs or compel them to seek treatment if they don’t want to. ESPN
Elon Musk’s security clearance under review over pot smoking. The Pentagon is reviewing Elon Musk’s security clearance in the wake of a podcast appearance where he seemed to smoke marijuana. “Musk has refiled his SF-86 security form, which requires a federal employee or contractor seeking a clearance to acknowledge any illegal drug use over the previous seven years.” Musk in under an “adjudication” review, which allows him to keep his clearance during the process, but prevents him from receiving information classified as secret. “If the drug use involves minor issues or doesn’t appear to contain any serious security concerns, the unit reviewing the case could just close it and update Musk’s record.” Bloomberg
Outside money funding cannabis black market. The black market for marijuana in states that have reformed their marijuana laws is funded by foreign money, according to federal prosecutors. Much of marijuana grown in such operations are trafficked out of state. Most recently, three men were arrested on Thursday for running an illicit marijuana operation in San Bernardino County, Calif. The operation was funded by millions of dollars wired from Guangdong, China. The Associated Press
Today in cannabis business news… The cannabis industry is pushing TMX, the operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, to allow businesses with exposure to the U.S. marijuana market. But the TMX isn’t missing out on revenue due to the restriction, “and is therefore unlikely to change its listing requirements, according to analysts with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.” BNN Bloomberg How one Philadelphia dispensary staffed up 3,000 percent last year to keep up with the increasing demand for medical marijuana. Leafly Canadian cannabis producers and patients alike are pushing back on medical cannabis taxes. “A patient can get a prescription for an opioid that has no tax applied, then is reimbursed by provincial drug plans and private insurers. At the same time, cannabis, a substance that for many patients can be an alternative, is discriminated against,” said one CEO. Yahoo Finance
Word on the States
- In Colorado, a bill to allow medical marijuana over opioids has been postponed.
- In New Jersey, the state Senate president wants to vote on marijuana legalization this month.
- In Massachusetts, a Conway couple hopes to start a craft marijuana cooperative.
- In Florida, the Senate overwhelmingly voted for a measure to allow smokable medical marijuana. Lawmakers consider early release for those serving lengthy mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenses.
- In Arizona, 52 percent of likely voters support marijuana legalization, according to a new poll.
- In New York, why schools are opposed to recreational legalization.
- In Texas, a state rep. filed a bill to expand the list of MMJ-qualifying conditions.
- In Oklahoma, police are confused about how a city- and state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary could have been approved so close to a school. Medical marijuana advocates express concern over the regulatory framework.
- In Wyoming, the governor signed a hemp bill.
- In New Mexico, the Senate approved a bill to expand the medical marijuana program, sending it to the House.
- In West Virginia, a Senate committee advanced a bill to allow vertical integration in the medical marijuana industry.
- In Guam, a hearing on a marijuana legalization bill got mixed reactions from the public.
Word for Word
“The assignment was to write a four-page research paper on any biology topic. My son, Sebastian, is a high school freshman, and it was his first real chance to shine. I expected him to pick something like photosynthesis. He went with psychedelic drugs instead. Let me tell you what would have happened if I had made that choice as a ninth-grader: I would have been grounded until graduation. In northeastern Pennsylvania, where I grew up, my mother worked for the county commission on drug and alcohol abuse, and she could literally smell stoned people.” – David Hochman for The New York Times
“You did have people arrested for violence related to drugs, with turf wars—so that was another way drugs played out. But for the most part these were nonviolent offenses. And frankly, nonviolent offenses in a community where, I don’t want to say it’s the norm, but this is how a lot of people get by. I remember speaking to a man, his wife had just had a baby and they needed diapers. And when he got arrested for stealing, his wife said, ‘We should have just let the baby pee on the floor. It wasn’t worth it.'” – Author, prison reform advocate, former acting chief of mental health at Rikers Mary Buser, Filter