Alaska will start allowing people to consume cannabis in dispensaries. A high-level UN board calls for drug decriminalization. A look at the rise of cannabis churches. Also: One writer tries out a service that recommends cannabis strains based on DNA testing. 🌳
Alaska will allow on-site marijuana consumption. Alaska has become the first state in the nation to adopt statewide regulations allowing marijuana use in dispensaries. The lieutenant governor signed off on the rules, which will go into effect April 11. Dispensaries will then be able to apply for on-site endorsements, and the earliest social-use establishments could launch mid-July. Dispensary customers will be able to consume in a separate area of the store, which must have a ventilation system and a smoke-free area for employees. Anchorage Daily News Related: California allows municipalities to set their own rules about on-site consumption. San Francisco approved legislation to allow for cannabis sales and consumption at events. San Francisco Examiner
UN board calls for drug decriminalization. The UN Chief Executives Board (CEB), which represents 31 UN agencies and organizations, has endorsed drug decriminalization. That such a high-level board would endorse decriminalization represents “a substantial evolution on the part of certain UN agencies like the UNODC, which has historically supported the enforcement of punitive drug laws.” The CEB said it would seek “alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases, including the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use.” Marijuana Moment
A look inside D.C. marijuana lobbying. D.C.-based marijuana lobbyist Michael Correia spoke about his work for the National Cannabis Industry Association during an industry conference in Missouri. While marijuana reform has become a bipartisan issue of late, it looks like Republicans are having a tough time getting on board: “Recently, the lobbyist said, a Republican legislator told him privately that the lawmaker would have done more to advocate against marijuana reform, but he felt pressure ‘from the White House and above’ to hold back.” NCIA’s PAC donated to Republican lawmakers in 2018, but didn’t get much besides a hemp legalization provision in the Farm Bill. “So the cannabis lobby spent its PAC money on Democratic candidates challenging about 30 “vulnerable” Republicans. About 20 of those Dems won their races last November. Correia thinks cannabis is one reason why the U.S. House flipped.” Springfield News-Leader
Confusion at the Pentagon over marijuana investment policy. “Please continue to stand by — I know there are lots of emails floating around on this issue,” read an email from the Air Force Ethics Office. After an earlier Air Force email said that investment in marijuana companies could threaten employees’ security clearances, the Defense Department has pushed back, stating that it is not official policy. “Some investors — including servicemembers participating in the Thrift Savings Plan — may hold shares of companies invested in pot-related businesses without knowing it. The federal government also may be indirectly invested in the industry through the company it hired to manage the TSP and retirement investment funds.” Stars and Stripes Related: A Marine Corps officer made the case for service members microdosing LSD. The “argument is compelling; the likelihood of its changing policy is less so.” Task and Purpose
GOP staffer out at anti-marijuana group for hateful comments. A former staffer for Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts is no longer involved with Smart Approaches to Marijuana after more than 3,000 anonymous comments he posted online emerged. The racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic comments were posted in a private chat room operated by a while nationalist. “His comments are inexcusable and in no way reflect the views of anyone else engaged in our efforts,” said a SAM Nebraska coordinator. Omaha World-Herald “I’m not denying it. I understand how they look really bad and are really bad on their face. I regret what I said,” said Bressman. Lincoln Journal-Star
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Kardashian helps out another drug offender. Kim Kardashian has pledged to help former inmate Matthew Charles, who was sentenced to 35 years for a nonviolent drug offense. Charles was released in January after serving 20 years thanks to the First Step Act. He was denied housing due to his “prior criminal history,” when Kardashian reached out and offered to pay his rent for five years. “Kim did not do this for attention or publicity, but I had to share it, because it’s to good not to, and my heart is about to burst with happiness,” Charles wrote in a Facebook post. BuzzFeed
Cannabis as a ‘spiritual sacrament.’ The cofounders of Denver’s International Church of Cannabis church believe that their religious nonprofit “can do more to reform drug policy than any lobbyists out there.” The church welcomes all creeds, as long as they view cannabis as a “spiritual sacrament” in their lives. One writer sets out to find out: “Why they would bother to do this, and not just get stoned on their own couches at home?” Cosmopolitan In California, law enforcement has treated cannabis churches as unlicensed dispensaries looking to get around regulations and taxes. Rev. James Young Phan of Hundred Harmonies Church near Los Angeles is hoping to change that: “You shouldn’t be able to tax the sacrament,” he said. Rolling Stone
Does DNA testing for cannabis recommendations actually work? A growing number of companies are claiming to be able to offer personalized strain recommendations by testing your DNA. While entrepreneurs are quick to tout their services, experts on genetics describe such services amount to pseudoscience. One writer sent his DNA to Strain Genie, which bills itself as the “personal cannabis DNA test.” “The result… informed me that I was at risk for Alzheimer’s and suggested I smoke some Purple Bubba to fortify my memory.” But “there is pretty much [zilch] data to support that,” said the assistant director of the Johns Hopkins Institute of Bioethics. The Hustle
In cannabis business news… Marijuana stocks rallied after news emerged that lawmakers in New Jersey struck a deal on legalization. CNBC The drop in wholesale marijuana prices are hitting ancillary businesses too, prompting them to look to emerging markets in the East and Midwest. Marijuana Business Daily Chris Beals has been appointed the CEO of Weedmaps. He was previously the president and general counsel there. Benzinga Cannabis company Acreage lost $217.6 million in the fourth quarter of last year. Its revenues grew to $10.5 million from $2.2 million at the same time the previous year. MarketWatch
Elsewhere around the world… Workers compensation boards across Canada are being forced to revisit their policies on medical marijuana. Increasing numbers of patients are seeking cannabis over opioids, but provincial bodies have been slow to support those who are prescribed medical cannabis. CBC News How Elizabeth Brice, searching for relief from MS, pioneered medical cannabis in the U.K. Cannabis Now The customs department in Hong Kong says that cannabis seizures in the mail have soared in the past several months, suggesting that legalization in Canada contributed to the rise. Asia Times
Word on the States
- In South Dakota, the House overrode the governor’s veto of a hemp legalization bill, sending it to the Senate.
- In California, two state lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow local governments to charter their own banks.
- In Massachusetts, state lawmakers have introduced a barrage of marijuana-related bills. Here are some of the proposed bills.
- In Colorado, employers are relaxing their drug testing policies.
- In Maine, Farmington considers banning marijuana businesses in the downtown historic district.
- In New Jersey, advocates are still pushing for more specific equity commitments in the legalization bill.
- In New York, Senate Democrats included marijuana legalization in its budget resolution.
- In Minnesota, the governor is disappointed that marijuana legalization is dead for the session.
- In New Mexico, the chair of a key Senate committee doubts that a marijuana legalization bill will be heard before the session ends.
- In Pennsylvania, the governor has received more than 21,000 messages about marijuana legalization.
- In Maryland, the Senate is poised to ease ownership limits on MMJ dispensaries.
- In Oklahoma, Tulsa’s school board approved a policy banning medical marijuana and limiting CBD products on school property.
- In Arkansas, state regulators approved a second medical marijuana cultivation facility.
Word for Word
“Almost all criminal issues are creatures of state statute, not federal statute… So how we deal with a marijuana conviction in North Dakota compared to Colorado could directly affect your immigration status as a legal immigrant… I personally don’t think anybody, whether you’re a DREAMer, whether you’re a DACA recipient, should be told to leave this country because you smoked a joint when you were 19-years-old.” – U.S. rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Marijuana Moment
“Misdemeanors matter. They may often be minor cases in a legal sense, but the way we deal with them has a major impact on the lives of millions of people each year. Rethinking misdemeanor justice is fundamental to the long-term health of our justice system.” – Greg Berman for Governing