A California senator pulled out of a marijuana bill with no explanation. Massachusetts studies racial disparities in marijuana arrests. Despite medical marijuana reform in the U.K., another pediatric epilepsy patient had her cannabis oil seized by customs. Also: A look at investment activity in the cannabis industry found that 2018 was the year for Big Marijuana. 🌳
Feinstein pulls out of marijuana bill. When the STATES Act was introduced last Congress, senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) signed on to support the bill. But she reportedly removed herself from co-sponsoring the bill this session after her staff had already added her name to the legislation. Feinstein’s previous support of the bill indicated that the senator had changed her position on marijuana reform. But now, marijuana advocates are crying foul over her continued flip-flopping on the issue: “By refusing to get on this year’s version of the STATES Act, it shows how obvious senator Feinstein’s flirtation with putting an end to federal marijuana was just an effort protect her seat,” said one lobbyist. Marijuana Moment Related: U.S. senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jeff Merkley, (D-Ore.) will sponsor the Senate version of the SAFE Banking Act, aimed at allowing access to the banking system for cannabis companies. nj.com
Mass. cannabis regulators study racial disparities. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission looked into racial disparities in marijuana enforcement for a recent study as part of its mandate to encourage those harmed by the war on drugs into the marijuana industry. Black people are more likely to be arrested for almost every type of marijuana offense. Regulators are now collecting baseline data to track how well they are doing in remedying racial disparities. But researchers for the commission cautioned that there are significant gaps in the data, including a lack of data on prosecutions, sanctions, and civil penalties. Mass Live Related: The underground cannabis market is flourishing in the state. Police say their fears about legalization are coming true, while advocates say it will take time for licensed cannabis businesses to make a dent on unlicensed sellers. Boston Herald
Another British kid’s medical cannabis gets confiscated. Despite a change in the U.K.’s medical cannabis laws, the mother of a 9-year-old epilepsy patient saw her cannabis oil confiscated by customs officials when she tried to enter the country on Saturday. Emma Appleby was trying to bring three months worth of cannabis oil from the Netherlands for her daughter, who suffers from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. She initially attempted to access the medicine for her daughter in the U.K. but eventually got a prescription in Rotterdam. “I’m devastated. I’ve always tried to do the right thing. I’ve jumped through all the hoops but ended up being passed from pillar to post and being met with a flat ‘no,'” she said. The Guardian Related: A woman who received one of the first private medical cannabis prescriptions has turned to the underground market over the high costs of the drug. The Telegraph
The pros and cons of marijuana legalization. A look at the data behind the major arguments for and against marijuana legalization finds that benefits outweigh the harms. There are strong indications that legalization can help reduce youth marijuana use. While violent crime in some cities increased after legalization — neighboring cities with legal weed saw decreases in violent crime. More data is certainly needed, but existing data makes a case against prohibition. Contrary to increasing violent crime rates, “FBI data from Colorado and Washington show that crime clearance rates – the number of times that the police solved a crime – increased for both violent and property crimes after legalization.” Word on the Tree / The Conversation
Marijuana in the Midwest. The fight to legalize marijuana in Illinois is heating up as lawmakers consider an adult-use bill. While details of the legalization plan have yet to be released, the cannabis industry and social justice advocates are calling for an end to prohibition while law enforcement, faith leaders, and most GOP lawmakers are warning about the dangers of legalization. Chicago Tribune Gary Storck has been fighting for medical marijuana legalization in Wisconsin for decades. The vast majority of Wisconsinites agree with him but reform efforts have been hampered by powerful interests in the legislature. As its neighbor Illinois weighs legalizing recreational use, prohibition in the state looks like it’s in its final days. The Associated Press Related: The governor of Wisconsin included medical marijuana legalization and marijuana decriminalization in his budget proposal. WiscNews
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In cannabis science news… A Minnesota study of 1,000 medical marijuana patients found that cancer patients in the state’s medical marijuana program saw “significant improvement in symptoms, including reduced anxiety, lack of appetite, depression, disturbed sleep, fatigue, nausea, pain and vomiting, within four months of starting the medication.” MPR A clinical review published in the BMJ found that “in certain medicines CBD and THC are combined for clinical benefit, [while] in others these components can work independently, playing different roles in improving certain symptoms.” Medical Xpress A group of bipartisan U.S. senators are pushing attorney general William Barr to advance license applications for cultivating research marijuana. Marijuana Moment
Big Weed is already here. Despite its still federally illicit status, the marijuana industry is attracting bigger and bigger dollars. Last year, VC investment in cannabis companies topped $900 million, and is on track to double this year. Meanwhile, “venture capital investments are dwarfed by alcohol and tobacco firms buying into the cannabis business, making already big players even bigger.” About one-third of the $15 billion in cannabis M&A last year came from the alcohol and tobacco industries. “Big pharma isn’t far behind.” Quartz
Cannabis is a boon for commercial real estate. Shasta Lake, Calif. had been trying to sell some city-owned properties for decades. After it became the first city in the region to allow commercial cannabis sales, entrepreneurs quickly snapped up the properties. Shasta County’s cannabis friendliness is leading to a spike in commercial real estate prices as growers look to industrial properties to house their businesses. “It’s hard to say if it will continue to be a boon or if it will flatten out. That’s really anybody’s guess at this point,” said the city manager of Shasta Lake. Record Searchlight
Cannabis in Canada. Even Canadian banks are shunning American cannabis businesses, saying that they “will steer clear of the sector until new laws are passed.” While Canadian banks are already serving the industry, institutions like the Bank of Montreal will only consider “extending its cannabis-banking business to the U.S… if federal legislation is made more permissive.” Bloomberg Longtime cannabis consumer Matt Daisley made his first visit to a licensed dispensary in St. Catharines, Ontario last week. He ended up not buying anything when he heard the prices: “I knew immediately that I would not leave the black market,” he said. CBC News
Elsewhere around the world… Far-right, pro-cannabis candidate Moshe Feiglin is surging in the polls ahead of Israel‘s elections on Tuesday. His campaign is drawing support from alienated young voters thanks to his pledge to legalize marijuana. Reuters Medical cannabis reforms are due to come into effect after the election. Here’s a look at what the changes mean for doctors and patients alike. Globes Cape Town, South Africa welcomed its very first Cannabis Expo since cannabis was decriminalized in the country. Capetown Etc.
Word on the States
- In New York, a look at what’s next for marijuana legalization efforts in the state. Equity is at the forefront of the debate. NYC considers barring marijuana tests for people on probation. New Yorkers are flocking to Massachusetts for legal weed.
- In Massachusetts, regulators approved the first outdoor marijuana farms.
- In Connecticut, the debate over marijuana legalization continues as lawmakers consider several bills on the subject.
- In Alaska, the Fairbanks city council will consider allowing on-site cannabis consumption.
- In Michigan, Hash Bash lives on in the age of legal marijuana.
- In Pennsylvania, the state is considering adding anxiety and Tourette syndrome to the medical marijuana program.
- In Hawaii, a Senate committee advanced a bill to decriminalize marijuana.
- In Illinois, activists on both sides are pushing hard in the marijuana legalization debate. The governor’s budget proposal includes medical marijuana and decriminalization.
- In Wisconsin, support for marijuana legalization is growing, but hurdles remain.
- In New Hampshire, a marijuana legalization bill is losing its political momentum.
- In Ohio, regulated medical marijuana costs more than cannabis on the underground market.
- In Utah, why the marijuana debate needs to focus on criminal justice reform.
- In Iowa, a Senate committee voted to put a THC cap back into the medical marijuana program.
- In Idaho, a House committee advanced legislation allowing interstate hemp shipments.
- In Indiana, the House amended a hemp bill.
- In North Dakota, backers of an unsuccessful campaign to legalize marijuana consider trying again in 2020.
- In Nebraska, efforts to legalize medical marijuana through a ballot petition and the legislature are both advancing.
- In Nevada, Carson City opposes a bill to allow marijuana lounges.
- In Georgia, former rep. Allen Peake wants to become a cannabis licensee or medical marijuana regulator.
- In the Northern Marianas, the House considers a cannabis amendment.
- In Guam, the attorney general talks recreational legalization.
Word for Word
“Less than a month after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill permitting the smoking of medical marijuana, Florida House Republicans are once again rallying for restrictions nobody asked them to write… You would think that would concern Speaker of the House José Oliva of Miami, who claims to be an expert on marijuana because his family owns a cigar company. ‘I’ve been in the smoke business my entire life,’ Oliva told the Associated Press in January. ‘Is one to believe that an 8-year-old child should be smoking marijuana and inhaling smoke into their lungs? I’ve never heard anyone say it’s good for you.’ (Perhaps Oliva should shut down the family business if he’s so concerned about the dangers of smoke inhalation. Tobacco is a proven carcinogen, while marijuana is proven to kill cancer cells, according to several studies.)” – Carlos Miller for Miami New-Times
“New York State is at an historic crossroads, one which requires us to make a choice. We could take this opportunity to improve the future for individuals and communities devastated by the war on drugs through revenue generated by legal cannabis. Alternatively, we could establish a lucrative new legal cannabis industry worth billions without regard for the millions of New Yorkers harmed by over-policing and discriminatory policies. Finally, we could choose to do nothing and to let the State’s estimated $2 billion underground cannabis market continue to evolve and exist with all of the inherit risks and hazards that come with it. The choice is clear to me.” – Majority leader of the New York State Assembly Crystal Peoples-Stokes for Newsweek