New York lawmakers demand equity in marijuana legalization legislation. Party guests are suing a Georgia city and police over a mass arrest for less than one ounce of pot. Harvest acquires Verano in an $850 million deal — the largest ever for the U.S. cannabis industry. Also: The governor of South Dakota vetoed a hemp legalization bill. 🌳
Lawmakers seek to block legalization without equity. Black lawmakers in New York are blocking governor Andrew Cuomo’s push to legalize recreational marijuana without assurances of equity in the industry. “Critics say marijuana legalization has fostered an inequitable system in which wealthy, white investors often reap the profits of the fledgling industry.” Indeed, well-heeled medical marijuana companies and executives in New York have donated more than $600,000 to Cuomo’s campaign. Now, top lawmakers pushing back on Cuomo’s plan. “The New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association, worried that legislators might seek to shut them out of the new industry, sent a letter to Mr. Cuomo and legislative leaders on Monday promising to set up a $25 million ‘Cannabis Economic Opportunity Fund’ to provide zero-interest loans to companies led by women and people of color.” The New York Times Related: The Minority Cannabis Business Association has released a model social equity ordinance for municipalities. Marijuana Moment
Cuomo is ‘no longer confident’ in marijuana plan. “I am no longer confident marijuana will be done by the budget,” the governor said as the budget deadline nears. Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes is pushing back on Cuomo’s plan, insisting that social equity measures be included in the legalization legislation. “I don’t see why this cannot be accomplished through the budget,” said Peoples-Stokes, seemingly more optimistic than the governor. Cannabis Wire Cuomo had hoped to fund the MTA with a portion of marijuana tax revenues. Peoples-Stokes’ bill sets aside half of all tax revenues towards a community fund. The Democrat & Chronicle
New Jersey has a legalization deal. Governor Phil Murphy and leaders of the state Assembly and Senate announced that they had struck a deal on marijuana legalization legislation. “It’s unclear whether there are enough votes in the Democrat-controlled Legislature to pass the bill, but the agreement marks the first time leaders have laid out the details of the plan.” The bill includes provisions for expedited expungement, participation for minorities and women, and a $42 per ounce tax on cannabis. One Republican senator echoed former New Jersey governor Chris Christie in his criticism of the plan: “That blood money that he’s going to collect in taxes that is blood money. It is going to come from the blood of people who don’t use marijuana who unfortunately are involved with people who do,” said state senator Gerald Cardinale. The Associated Press Legislative leaders are hoping to have a vote in both houses on March 25. nj.com
Party guests sue over mass arrest for marijuana. More than 60 people were celebrating at a birthday party in Cartersville, Georgia in December 2017. Despite that police found no drugs on any of the guests during patdowns, though they did find less than an ounce of marijuana inside the home. Every guest was charged with marijuana possession, thrown in jail, and held under harsh conditions. Even though the charges were eventually dropped, “many of those swept up at the party say the arrest cost them jobs and hurt their reputations.” Now, they’re suing “the city of Cartersville, as well as members of the Cartersville Police Department, Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, and Bartow County sheriff’s office, alleging that the search and mass arrest violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.” The Appeal
Pete Buttigieg on getting caught with pot. The South Bend, Indiana mayor, who is considering a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, recounted how he got caught by police smoking a joint while he was a student at Harvard. He suffered zero consequences — save for a “grouchy” police officer launching into a tirade about “you f[***]ing arrogant Harvard kids.” “A lot of people probably had the exact same experience, and would not have been believed, and would have been a lot worse than yelled at, and would not have slept in their own beds that night — and maybe would have been derailed in their college career because of it,” said Buttigieg. “It’s one of many reasons why I think we have to end the war on drugs and move towards the legalization of marijuana.” boston.com
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Cannabis in Congress. U.S. rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has introduced legislation to allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans. Blumenauer has introduced similar legislation in the past. Marijuana Moment U.S. rep Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) has reluctantly signed on to legislation to allow banks to serve the cannabis industry. “It’s not my cup of tea, but that train has left the station,” he said. The Nevada Independent
Medical marijuana for the elderly. A study that tracked more than 200 elderly medical marijuana patients found that 7 out of 10 experienced pain relief from using the drug. Patients were also able to reduce their opioid use. A researcher involved with the study said that a 1-to-1 THC to CBD ratio was the most effective while also having the fewest side effects. About 21 percent of participants experienced side effects, and 3 percent stopped taking the medical marijuana due to them. But for patients dealing with chronic health issues, the cost of medical marijuana is often out of reach. The Chicago Tribune
In cannabis business news… Phoenix, Ariz.-based marijuana company Harvest is acquiring Verano Holdings for $850 million. It’s the largest marijuana deal in the U.S. and will create one of the largest multi-state operators in the industry with 200 facilities in 16 states. BNN Bloomberg A class action lawsuit against Calaveras County, Calif. is set to proceed after a judge overruled objections from the county. The lawsuit was filed by several hundred marijuana farmers after the county collected taxes and fees from them, before prohibiting marijuana farms. Marijuana Business Daily Temporary cannabis licenses in California are set to expire before licenses or extensions can be issued, which could have “a domino effect on the supply chain.” North Bay Business Journal Two Seattle cannabis software companies are merging. Geekwire
Elsewhere around the world… A private clinic in Greater Manchester is the U.K.‘s first medical cannabis clinic. The clinic will charge between £600 and £700 a month for a prescription, while an appointment will cost £200. The Guardian An entrepreneur who has “invested everything” into a dispensary in Alberta, Canada can’t open its doors because of the cannabis supply shortage. CBC News Prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said he would consider legalizing cannabis. The move is an “apparent reaction to the surge in polls of a rival right-wing candidate who has made the issue one of his flagship planks.” Times of Israel In the Philippines, the Senate will not move forward with medical marijuana legalization after president Rodrigo Duterte said he was against the policy. Duterte has previously expressed support for legalizing medical marijuana. Business World
Word on the States
- In South Dakota, the governor vetoed a bill legalizing industrial hemp.
- In Washington, the Senate approved a bill to vacate past marijuana convictions, sending it to the House.
- In Michigan, the state adds cerebral palsy to the list of MMJ-qualifying conditions.
- In New Hampshire, the House passed a bill to allow patients or caregivers to grow medical marijuana.
- In Delaware, a bill would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition.
- In Minnesota, a Senate committee rejected a recreational legalization bill.
- In Oklahoma, the Senate approved a marijuana regulation bill, sending it to the governor.
- In Georgia, the governor was impressed by the “strong vote” to allow medical marijuana production in the state.
- In Colorado, a new bill would allow onsite consumption.
- In Ohio, a look at the conflict between state medical marijuana laws and federal gun laws.
- In Guam, a bill to make it easier to open a cannabis testing lab gets support during a public hearing.
Word for Word
“Jennifer Chapin, the cofounder of Kikoko, recently recalled how she was ‘laughed out of the dispensaries’ when she tried to sell her low-dose cannabis-infused teas in her company’s early days. Three years later, Kikoko’s teas, which come in sachets and canisters wrapped with pink-and-purple stripes and cartoon flowers promising benefits such as ‘Sensuali-tea’ and ‘Tranquili-tea,’ are sold through over 300 storefronts and delivery services across California.” – Jenni Avins for Quartzy
“You have to engage the worst-case scenario if you are going to make up intelligent and thoughtful analysis. You can’t pretend that you are in the Magic Kingdom. And by the way, the positive response to [the marijuana] piece outnumbered the negative response by many, many orders of magnitude. But the cannabis-lovers who so objected to that are people who have put their hands over their ears, closed their eyes, and are simply drowning out all the noise. Look, if you were to put a label on an ounce of marijuana, what would the label say? Can you tell me whether someone who is pregnant should smoke this? You can’t. Can you tell me at what age someone should safely start smoking it? You can’t… There has never been a drug of that power legalized in this country without asking those basic questions. We are so far into uncharted territory here, and that’s all I was saying.” – Malcolm Gladwell, The Daily Beast