Why legalization proponents like senator Cory Booker won’t get behind legalization legislation that doesn’t include social equity. States want hemp regulations fast, but the feds want to take things slow. A new study finds promise in using cannabis together with opioids. Also: Why reefer madness is still alive and well in 2019. 🌳
Why legalization proponent won’t support the STATES Act. The STATES Act has emerged as a favored piece of marijuana reform legislation supported by cannabis advocates and industry lobbyists alike. But now, the bill that would allow states to set their own marijuana laws doesn’t go far enough among some legalization supporters. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said it wouldn’t sign on to the bill because “it’s too obvious and urgent and unfair that we’re moving something on marijuana on the federal level and it doesn’t do something on restorative justice,” he said. Vice U.S. rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who is sponsoring the STATES Act in the House, said that cannabis reform should include equity provisions. “I will vow that no comprehensive reform is going to take place without speaking to equity,” he said. Cannabis Wire
Hurry up with hemp. Montana senators Steve Daines (R) and Jon Tester (D) are urging the U.S. Department for Agriculture to hurry up with creating regulations for the hemp industry. “I urge USDA to provide clarity for hemp producers throughout Montana by quickly proposing a regulatory framework as intended by Congress,” wrote Daines in a letter to the agriculture secretary. Montana’s agriculture submitted a hemp plan for USDA approval, but was told that no state plans can be approved until the federal agency figures out its regulatory framework. The Independent Record Meanwhile, agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue said the agency is taking things slow and is “not expediting” hemp regulations, despite significant “excitement and interest.” Marijuana Moment
Military says no to marijuana. Veterans have emerged as a powerful force in the marijuana legalization debate. But active service members are strictly prohibited from consuming cannabis, creating tensions in marijuana-legal cities that are also home to military bases. Colorado Springs is home to five military bases and does not allow recreational cannabis dispensaries for fear that “the Defense Department opts to take missions, troops, personnel… and move it somewhere else,” said one city official. Meanwhile, veterans say soldiers often use cannabis while on active duty anyways. “I know of people who are deployed, and they often come across hash in Afghanistan… They use hash to medicate not just to medicate the horrors, the hardships of war, but to alleviate the boredom,” said one veteran. CPR
Los Angeles tackles equity and enforcement. Home to one of the largest marijuana markets, cannabis regulators in Los Angeles are trying to figure out how to balance social justice and cannabis enforcement. Some thanked the police for cracking down on unlicensed cannabis businesses during a recent public hearing. Others called on enforcement to “be civil, not criminal.” One Phase II applicant explained that priority licensing through the equity program wasn’t enough: “About 100,000 people have been affected by the War on Drugs that might be eligible… let’s say, a thousand social equity applicants manage to get their… license, it still is only one percent of the people that we’re saying have been affected. What are we doing to help everyone else?” Cannabis Wire
The last anti-cannabis crusade. Advocates against marijuana legalization are deploying anti-marijuana messages from the ’30s and surprisingly “gaining serious traction in 2019.” Alex Berenson, the author of Tell Your Children, is “pulling straight from the old-school playbook. But it’s been a couple decades since anybody would listen to that,” said one historian. Berenson’s book gained favorable media coverage and excerpts in major newspapers. At the same time, researchers that Berenson cites as sources “have called out Berenson for cherry-picking their work and overstating risks found in the literature.” Given the significant change in societal attitudes towards marijuana, how come these arguments are still gaining traction? The New Republic
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The studies say… Previous studies have found that using cannabis can help reduce the use (and risks) of using opioids for pain relief. A new study seeking to build off of that found that using a combination of opioids and cannabis also decreased cognitive impairment present when using either drug on its own. Inverse A new study at Maclean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. will look into marijuana as a treatment for the behavioral effects of dementia. Here’s how patient stories are spurring such privately funded studies. WGBH A new study out of Canada found that zero-tolerance approaches to drug education for young people were unhelpful, “while approaches that were aligned with harm reduction principles were viewed as relevant and supportive.” Filter
Medical marijuana in Missouri. A study out of the University of Missouri-Columbia found that the number of businesses required by the state’s medical marijuana law will create too much supply for limited patient demand. The study projects that the program will have just 26,000 patients by 2022 and will need 115 to 132 dispensaries and 24 to 29 cultivators. But the cannabis law requires the state to set up “at least 192 dispensaries, 60 cultivation operations” by the end of the year. Springfield News-Leader The state health department said it would not take race into consideration when licensing medical cannabis businesses. Lawmakers have introduced bills to “compel the health department to give minority- and women-owned businesses a slight edge in the application process,” but their chances are slim in the Republican-controlled legislature. The Kansas City Star
In cannabis business news… Unilever subsidiary Schmidt’s Naturals is getting into the hemp space with CBD-infused deodorant. BNN Bloomberg Arizona-based cannabis company Harvest Health & Recreation is acquiring CannaPharmacy, which operates medical marijuana licenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. “The transaction also includes three CannaPharmacy cultivation and dispensary centers in Delaware and the rights to open another dispensary in Maryland.” The Philadelphia Inquirer Digital agency Toasted Collective is partnering with major publishers like Hearst and USA Today to give cannabis companies “access to premium inventory that was entirely shut off to them before.” Adweek
Cannabis in Canada. The first week of cannabis retail sales in Ontario drew long lines of consumers who waited hours to buy legal weed. But more than half of the 25 dispensaries that were supposed to be online have managed to open their doors for business. Leafly The country does not have enough CBD to meet demand, and imports aren’t likely to fill the shortfall. “Demand for CBD products has been higher than what was anticipated by licensed producers,” said a spokesperson for a B.C. regulatory agency. Cannabis companies either “misread market demand for the extract or because they’re choosing to grow and sell higher-margin marijuana with THC.” Marijuana Business Daily
Elsewhere around the world… How America’s war on drugs “brought misery to millions across the globe.” The Nation Critics say the U.K.‘s medical cannabis laws create a two-tier system that favor those who can afford private clinics. “To see a system where only families with money access medical cannabis is a betrayal of the NHS,” said the mother of an epileptic child who was refused a prescription. The Guardian She tried to bring cannabis oil from the Netherlands into the country, which was confiscated by border agents last weekend. The health secretary left open the possibility that the Border Force would return the drugs. BBC A state-owned pension fund in Sweden is investing in large Canadian cannabis firms. Marijuana Business Daily In Israeli company claimed to have approval to set up a cannabis growing and extraction operation in Uganda. But the country’s health minister says she never approved the project. Dispatch
Word on the States
- In Michigan, a House panel advanced a new bill that would shutter unlicensed cannabis dispensaries June 1.
- In Massachusetts, a bipartisan pair of lawmakers introduced a bill aimed at cracking down on unlicensed cannabis sellers. Framingham approved several marijuana businesses.
- In Colorado, a House committee advanced proposals to allow marijuana social use and home delivery.
- In Connecticut, Democrats in the legislature want cannabis revenue to go towards investing in impoverished areas.
- In New Mexico, a new medical marijuana law could potentially allow inmates access to medical marijuana.
- In Pennsylvania, reform groups seek to push judicial candidates to the left.
- In Illinois, the governor supports home-grow.
- In Florida, a House committee approved a bill to cap the THC content of marijuana flowers at 10 percent. Veterans are angry about the proposal.
- In Texas, a House committee advanced a bill to legalize hemp and CBD.
- In New Jersey, the earliest legalization vote is expected in May.
- In Montana, the state legislature considers changes to medical marijuana regulations.
Word for Word
“[Researchers] found that black and Latino drivers are more likely to be searched for contraband — even though white drivers are consistently more likely to be found with contraband. They also found that legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington has caused fewer drivers to be searched during a stop, but that it did not alter the increased frequency with which black and Latino drivers are searched.” – Radley Balko for The Washington Post