Sometimes, even marijuana possession can be classified as a “violent” crime. Cannabis policy positions could be crucial to Democrats seeking to stand out amid a crowded presidential race. Georgia is set to become the 31st state to regulate cannabis cultivation. Also: High Times hires a new CEO. 🌳
When marijuana possession is classified as a “violent” crime. Much has been made of reforming the criminal justice system for those convicted of non-violent drug offenses and other low-level crimes. But many of those classified as “violent” offenders are incarcerated for crimes that weren’t actually violent. In Minnesota, for example, some marijuana possession cases are classified as “violent,” depending on the amount. In North Carolina, selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school is classified as violent crime. “Those classifications aren’t just semantics: When a crime is described as ‘violent,’ there are all kinds of consequences for incarcerated people,” including longer mandatory minimums, “habitual violent offender” penalties, and deportation. The Marshall Project
The new politics of legalizing pot. Democrats now overwhelming back cannabis legalization — a stark contrast to recent presidential races where marijuana policy reform was considered a fringe issue. “While legalizing pot may not rank among the top five issues important to voters, it could prove crucial as Democrats winnow the field.” Even at the federal level, the conversation has moved past whether to legalize marijuana to how to legalize it. Several Democratic presidential candidates are bringing criminal and social justice into the debate. Politico Related: U.S. rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) re-introduced a bill to protect state marijuana laws from federal enforcement. Marijuana Moment
What’s going on with CBD? As the CBD industry grows, federal regulators are scrambling to figure out rules for the industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hold a public hearing May 31 to gather more information on the cannabinoid. As the FDA cracks down on companies that make medical claims about CBD products, it doesn’t have the resources to go after the wide variety of CBD products available on the market. The Associated Press The outgoing FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb emphasized health and safety risks, manufacturing and product quality, and marketing/labeling/sales. A spokesperson for a hemp trade association applauded the agency for cracking down on certain CBD producers that “hurt our reputation.” Cannabis Wire A bi-partisan duo of senators is urging financial regulators to provide guidance for banks on serving the hemp industry. Marijuana Moment
Georgia legislature legalizes medical marijuana sales. The General Assembly passed legislation that would create a medical marijuana market in the state. Georgia legalized medical cannabis oil for patients suffering from certain illnesses in 2015, but didn’t give those patients any way to obtain the products. Under a new deal brokered by governor Brian Kemp, the state will license six companies to grow and produce the cannabis oil. Smokable and edible forms of cannabis would still be prohibited. Georgia is set to become the 31st state to allow marijuana cultivation. Atlanta Journal-Constitution Governor Kemp supports the legislation. “This is simply the right thing to do,” he said. The bill would cap THC content to 5 percent. WTOC
Curaleaf tests limits of Massachusetts’ law. A large cannabis company has already applied for the maximum amount of dispensary licenses that a single company is allowed under state rules. But the company told investors that it had reached an agreement to acquire another cannabis company, which would give the company double the number of licenses it is allowed to own. Curaleaf’s CEO said the deal would be compliant because the company would manage the additional dispensaries “under exclusive management contracts, which he believes do not constitute ‘control’ of these additional stores.” The Boston Globe Related: New York medical cannabis company Vireo is acquiring a Massachusetts cannabis company “as part of its cannabis empire expansion strategy across nine states.” The Journal News
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The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists presents The Color of Cannabis — Philly’s first cannabis media event. Join Word on the Tree’s editor on April 6 to learn about what legalization in Pennsylvania could look like and how communities of color could be impacted. Tickets here: Eventbrite / PABJ
High Times gets a new CEO. Kraig Fox is joining High Times as president and CEO. He was most recently the senior managing director of private equity firm Eldridge Industries, and has previously worked at Live Nation, Core Media, and Guggenheim Partners. Adam Levin, who has served as CEO since 2017, will now serve as executive chairman. Variety The announcement comes as High Times seeks to go public through a Regulation A+ offering that has been extended repeatedly. “Fox has extensive experience in the public markets arena and in mergers and acquisitions and the hire is expected to finally bring the offering to a close.” Green Market Report
Nevada cannabis businesses sue the state. A group of 11 cannabis businesses has filed a lawsuit against Nevada’s Department of Taxation. The suit alleges that the process to award cannabis licenses is not transparent and “ripe for corruption.” Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the agency said it has introduced amendments aimed at allowing the department to release “a lot of information that has thus far been confidential under statute and regulation.” Las Vegas Sun
Medical marijuana in Florida. The state has dropped an appeal of a judge’s ruling that would allow a marijuana company to open more dispensaries than allowed by state law. Currently, companies are capped at 35 dispensaries, which is set to end next year. But Trulieve, which operates 26 dispensaries, described the cap as arbitrary and unfair to pot producers. A judge agreed with the company as the voter-approved ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana had no such caps. Orlando Sentinel A new proposal in the House would cap THC levels in smokable cannabis products at 10 percent and also limit the amount of THC that patients can consume in edible products at 200 mg a day. Orlando Sentinel
On cannabis science. Federally approved research marijuana is genetically closer to hemp than the marijuana sold in state-legal markets, according to a new study. The revelation calls into question research conducted with NIDA marijuana. Marijuana Moment A look at a Colorado study on the dangers of edibles finds some problems with how the research was portrayed. Coverage claimed that edibles pose “a special risk” and that three “surprisingly violent deaths” involved edibles. But the risks of consuming too much cannabis are much lower than alcohol and certain pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, the “violent deaths” have not been definitively tied to cannabis. Cannabis Now
Elsewhere around the world… A lack of research on marijuana is hampering patient access in the U.K. The NHS has been reluctant to prescribe the drug, leaving patients with private clinics that charge “£200 for an appointment and between £600 and £700 a month for a prescription.” Wired The first cannabis dispensaries in Ontario, Canada drew moderate lineups from consumers eager to get their hands on regulated marijuana. Ottawa Citizen Marijuana policy has become an unlikely campaign issue in Israel‘s general election. The Independent
Word on the States
- In Colorado, the governor signed a bill to add autism to the medical marijuana program.
- In Massachusetts, the attorney general struck down Brewster’s ban on recreational dispensaries. A Milton woman was charged in federal court for running an illicit cannabis delivery service.
- In Nevada, the growth rate of the cannabis industry looks to be slowing.
- In Michigan, a judge will consider arguments in a challenge to state regulators’ attempt to shut down unlicensed dispensaries April 9. Regulators seek more volunteers for input on its recreational marijuana rules.
- In Illinois, Rock County is pushing patients to seek medical marijuana instead of opioids.
- In Virginia, a prosecutor is pushing for standards for marijuana impairment after losing a case involving a cannabis-consuming truck driver.
- In California, a second cannabis retailer opens its doors in Redding.
- In Wisconsin, voters approved five out of six non-binding marijuana questions in three municipal elections.
Word for Word
“Since weed was legalized last fall, many Canadians may fancy themselves as cannabis connoisseurs. As of Monday, Edmonton’s Amanda Bladon can put the title on a business card. Bladon was one of eight Canadians hired by Toronto-based company AHLOT to sample and evaluate different strains of cannabis and get paid to do so… The 31-year-old was picked from about 25,000 Canadians who applied last fall for one of five positions on AHLOT’s cannabis curation committee with the task of curating pot sample packs made up of several different strains… As a casual user who started smoking cannabis to spark creativity and help with anxiety, Bladon said she hopes to assist less frequent smokers looking for a good place to start.” – Dustin Cook for Edmonton Journal
“We aren’t going to issue psychiatric warnings to avoid love and sex since they can be addictive, in good part because people aren’t going to quit these activities on the grounds that they can have bad effects. Rather, instead of issuing warnings about marijuana’s detrimental psychiatric effects, especially in light of the normalizing of cannabis use, a better policy is to help people to develop standards that encourage its sensible use.” – Stanton Peele for Filter