Confusion over CBD could require a legislative fix from Congress. Arizona medical marijuana patients face prosecution for buying cannabis products from state-licensed dispensaries. The trouble with Massachusetts’ economic empowerment program. Also: CJ Wallace, the son of rapper The Notorious B.I.G., launched a cannabis brand in honor of his late father. 🌳
Confusion over hemp and CBD. “I’m trying to be compliant with the law, but no one seems to be fully aware of what the law is and isn’t,” said the owner of a cafe that sells CBD products. Despite that New York state officials said it was OK to sell the stuff, health inspectors have seized CBD products and warned businesses that they could face penalties for doing so. While the 2018 Farm Bill was supposed to legalize hemp and CBD, it has also created new confusion. Reuters Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who led the effort to pass hemp legalization, said that he would consider legislation to resolve some of the regulatory issues surrounding the industry, including access to bank loans, payment processing, and a lack of crop insurance. Courier-Journal Related: The Idaho Senate approved changes to a House-passed bill that would allow the interstate transport of hemp but keep the crop illegal until 2020. Post Register
On criminal justice. The U.S. Department of Justice has begun implementing last year’s criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act. It’s been delayed thanks to the partial government shutdown and turnover at the agency. The New York Times In Michigan, inmates who were found guilty of two substance-abuse violations lose all visiting rights. Here’s a look at the fight against the policy. The Marshall Project An 18-year-old college student was pulled over by a cop for making a “wide turn,” and he was frisked, handcuffed, and his car was searched by a drug-sniffing dog. Police experts say the stop “was disturbingly disproportionate to the alleged offense.” Courier Journal Related: Research shows that minority teens who have such interactions with cops are more likely to engage in acts of juvenile delinquency. Pacific Standard
Who’s lobbying against pot. Both pro- and anti-legalization interests are spending increasing amounts of money as state legislatures debate marijuana legalization. The movement is organizing a powerful coalition of anti-pot interests, including health care players, law enforcement, and educators. The pharmaceutical industry has lobbied against legalization legislation for years. Meanwhile, alcohol trade groups like the Beer Institute are lobbying on marijuana issues at a national level, despite purporting to be “neutral” on the question of marijuana legalization. The Journal News
Arizona medical marijuana patients face prosecution. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is prosecuting or threatening to prosecute state-licensed medical marijuana patients for possessing products that they purchased from the state-regulated medical marijuana market. The ACLU sent a letter to county attorney Bill Montgomery, demanding that his office “immediately stop those prosecutions and threats.” One of the cases “involved a veteran who faced decades in prison for a vape pen.” The prosecutions come as the state Supreme Court is deciding a case involving whether the state’s medical marijuana law covers cannabis extracts. Phoenix New-Times
The trouble with Massachusetts’ economic empowerment program. The state’s Economic Empowerment program was meant to help those disproportionately impacted by drug enforcement into the cannabis industry through priority licensing. But only five people have submitted applications and none have opened for business. Cannabis regulator Shaleen Title wanted to re-open applications for the economic empowerment program and expand the criteria to include veterans, women, and other groups. But the regulatory agency’s attorney said that they did not have the authority to do so. “The commission is considering other equity measures, including publicly funded no-interest loans, expanded eligibility for programs, and creating shared-space regulations for manufacturers and growers.” The Boston Globe
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Fighting the ecological harms of illicit cannabis grows. Last year, the number of new illicit marijuana farms on public lands in California seemed to decrease slightly — possibly thanks to adult-use legalization in the state. But the pesticide problem in national forests is getting worse as the underground marijuana market continues to flourish. Growers are using more banned, toxic pesticides that end up in the food chain. Meanwhile, the ecological issues of eradicating illegal marijuana grows are tied to up criminal justice and immigration issues, with some farm workers facing hefty mandatory minimums and deportation. National Geographic
Using marijuana money to fight bullying. Lamar, Colo. has been using marijuana tax revenue to fund an anti-bullying program for the past three years, despite barring commercial cannabis in town. Spending more than $100,000 a year on the program, it has cut bullying incidents by 23 percent. “I never thought I would see the day where marijuana money would fund programs in education,” said one school principal. CBS News Last year, the state made more than $266 million in revenue from marijuana taxes and fees. The Hill
In cannabis business news… Prolific marijuana investor Andy DeFrancesco sent a derogatory and sexually explicit message to a journalist who was reporting a story about allegations of insider self-dealing. “I am shocked that a comment like this would be articulated by any officer of a publicly traded company,” said a corporate governance expert. BNN Bloomberg CJ Wallace, the son of late rapper The Notorious B.I.G., has launched a cannabis brand honoring his father. The company, called Think BIG, is launching its first product today in collaboration with Lowell Herb Co. “If [cannabis brands] don’t have a criminal justice angle, they’re doing a huge disservice to everybody,” said Wallace. Esquire The owners of a marijuana social club in Elsie, Mich. say they’re ready to move on from the village because the community “was not quite ready for something like (Doobie’s).” They’re hoping to find a new home for the social club in Lansing. Lansing State Journal
Cannabis in Canada. Products from Seth Rogen’s new weed brand Houseplant hit the shelves in Vancouver’s three licensed cannabis dispensaries. An eighth will cost you a whopping $68 — and that’s before taxes. The Georgia Straight Tony Hawk is also getting into the space with B.C.-based cannabis producer 1933 Industries. They’ll launch several CBD products over the next two years. Yahoo Finance British Columbia opens federal agricultural grants to cannabis businesses. Marijuana Business Daily A Wall Street analyst lowered expectations for several Canadian cannabis producers over sub-par quality cannabis. Barron’s A second cannabis dispensary has opened in Toronto in the ritzy neighborhood of Yorkville. BNN Bloomberg
Word on the States
- In Connecticut, a Senate committee advanced a marijuana legalization bill.
- In California, Santa Cruz cracks down on unlicensed dispensaries.
- In Kentucky, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate called for decriminalizing marijuana possession.
- In Florida, a bill to legalize adult-use marijuana died without a hearing. The state finalized its rules for medical marijuana edibles. Palm Bay is considering marijuana decriminalization.
- In Missouri, a look at the state’s draft marijuana rules.
- In New York, a NYC council committee advanced a bill to bar testing people on probation for marijuana.
- In Louisiana, a candidate running against the agriculture commissioner criticized the rollout of the medical marijuana program.
- In Arkansas, the Senate approved a bill restricting medical marijuana advertising.
- In Maine, a licensed drug counselor pleaded guilty to marijuana conspiracy. Paris considers allowing medical marijuana retail stores.
- In New Mexico, a growing number of New Mexicans are using and growing medical marijuana.
Word for Word
“Renee Bolivar, owner of Gardens By Renee in Wayland, originally opposed marijuana legalization. But after the 2016 vote, she started fielding inquiries from customers who wanted to know how to grow pot, she said. She taught herself to grow marijuana so she could raise it for her clients — or instruct them to do it themselves, she said. ‘It’s part of my business, it’s a part of what I do. A plant is a plant,’ Bolivar said. ‘I think there are a lot of people trying to grow weed on their own now… it’s a whole community.'” – John Hilliard for The Boston Globe
“It’s disconcerting to see people like John Boehner and all these people who were sheriffs and D.A.’s now sort of having these… you know… ‘My views have evolved, and now I want to cash in.’ But not talk about, ‘Oh, I should make up for the fact that I was instrumental in putting lots of people in jail, breaking up lots of families, and writing policies that were created to criminalize communities.’ It’s like, really? That’s how you want to come out? The hypocrisy is astounding. What are you doing to correct the wrongs? I’m happy your views have evolved; great. Have your views also evolved to start to lobby and petition for decriminalization and making up for the mistakes that you made? Otherwise, it’s just lip service.” – Think BIG co-founder Willie Mack, Esquire