The attorney general is against legalization, but thinks the current patchwork of marijuana laws is intolerable. Two new bills in Congress seek to tackle medical marijuana-related issues. An Ohio man faces prison time for growing cannabis and giving it away to needy patients. Also: Pennsylvania looks to crack down on Big Marijuana. 🌳
Attorney general says marijuana policy is ‘intolerable.’ Attorney general William Barr described the current patchwork of state and federal marijuana laws as “intolerable.” “I think the way to go is to permit a more federal approach, that states can make their own decisions within the framework of the federal law and so we’re not just ignoring the enforcement of federal law,” said Barr before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. “I would much rather that approach – the approach taken by the STATES Act – than where we currently are.” The Denver Post At the same time, Barr reiterated his opposition to marijuana legalization. “Personally, I would still favor one uniform federal rule against marijuana,” he said. The STATES Act is currently being reviewed by his office. Newsweek
Meanwhile, in Congress… U.S. rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) introduced a bill that would protect veterans who use state-legal medical marijuana from losing their benefits. The bill would also allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states where it is legal. WFXT U.S. rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) introduced a bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to possess guns. Currently, both recreational and medical cannabis consumers are barred from purchasing or possessing firearms due to the state-federal conflict in cannabis laws. Marijuana Moment Related: A North Dakota House bill would allow state law enforcement to seize guns from state-legal medical marijuana patients. SayAnythingBlog
Group sues over marijuana decriminalization measure. A group seeking to put marijuana decriminalization on the Salem, West Virginia ballot has filed a federal lawsuit after a city attorney removed the initiative. The Sensible Movement Coalition said it met the legal requirements to qualify for the ballot and is seeking a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order against the city in U.S. District Court. “There is local home rule in West Virginia, so citizens do not have to wait for city councils or the state law makers to make a move. They can decide to do it themselves,” said a representative for the campaign. WBOY
He gave medical cannabis away and now he faces prison. It started with family: 70-year-old retired engineer Paul Koren’s nephew was suffering from a degenerative muscle disease. Koren decided to help him by growing and giving him cannabis, which eased his nephew’s symptoms. Soon, word spread, and other patients came to him for help. He supplied about 20 needy patients with free cannabis that he grew in his basement. Then, he was the victim of a home invasion and robbery, when several attackers tied him up, pistol-whipped him, and stole some of his marijuana plants. Despite being the victim of a violent crime, police decided to pursue Koren in a drug case. Now, Koren is hoping to avoid prison time through a plea deal, but prosecutors could still demand up to six years in prison. The Cincinnati Enquirer
Maine to launch marijuana market this year. Maine’s top marijuana regulator expects to get the adult-use market up and running by the end of the year. “To launch in 2019, the Office of Marijuana Policy must shop its draft rules around to key state agencies, including agriculture, labor and public safety, for review and revision before referral to lawmakers in May for a legislative vote that must be held before the session ends in June.” Director of the office Erik Gundersen said his team is working around the clock to overcome the bureaucratic roadblocks in government. Meanwhile, the marijuana rollout has been hampered by a fight over a cannabis consulting contract, two legislative rewrites of the marijuana legalization law, and a decision to kill a deal with a cannabis tracking software company. Portland Press Herald
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Cannabis in NYC. The New York City Council is moving to bar most employers from screening workers for marijuana use. The measure, sponsored by public advocate Jumaane Williams, includes exceptions for certain safety-sensitive positions like construction workers and commercial drivers. The measure is paired with another proposal that would bar testing those on probation for the drug. Crain’s New York Jason Starr, assistant counsel to the New York governor, appeared at a cannabis networking event to talk about marijuana legalization in the state. “The thing that I think folks are looking for… you’re looking to see if the architecture reflects equity,” he said. Gothamist
Not so fast, Big Marijuana. Arizona cannabis company Harvest Health & Recreation announced that it was acquiring a Pennsylvania cannabis company CannaPharmacy, giving it ownership of a cultivation license and the rights to open 21 medical marijuana dispensaries. But Pennsylvania law prohibits license transfers and also caps the number of dispensaries at 15 per company. The state threatened to revoke the cannabis business permits, calling the announcement a “blatant misrepresentation.” Meanwhile, Harvest managed to amass more permits than state law allows by using multiple affiliates to apply for state licenses. The Philadelphia Inquirer
Cannabis in California. Cannabis entrepreneurs are carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in grocery bags and boxes to drop off at state offices. Now, California is finally making some progress in easing tax payments for the cannabis industry. But there’s still a limit on what the state can do without federal reform. The Modesto Bee Elsewhere in the state, a legislative committee killed a bill that sought to stop a new policy of allowing cannabis deliveries across the state. It advanced a measure to crack down on websites like Weedmaps for posting ads for unlicensed businesses. Marijuana Business Daily Related: A CFO’s job normally involves balance sheets and bank statements. But the job in the cannabis industry means transporting tons of cash in armored vans with armed guards. NPR
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… Cannabis stocks were mixed on Wednesday: Green Thumb Industries grew 5 percent thanks to a jump in revenues. KushCo slid 6.5 percent after it revealed that accounting errors that understated its net losses by more than half. MarketWatch A Connecticut-based firm is in talks “with a ‘globally recognized exchange’ to start futures contracts” for cannabis. New Leaf sought to gather wholesale pricing data for the industry after it realized that states were not collecting such data “like they do in other commodity sectors.” Bloomberg
Elsewhere around the world… Legal cannabis in Canada costs about $10 a gram. But consumers can still buy pot from the illicit market for about $6.37 a gram, according to data from Statistics Canada. “A slight majority of buyers responding to StatCan’s survey, or 54 per cent, said they bought from illegal sources.” Global News A lawmaker in Australia talks about her decision to open up about her past MDMA use. Her admission resulted in a string of other lawmakers talking about their past illicit drug use. “It could’ve been the end of my political career but… the mainstream media was surprisingly positive,” she said. BBC
Word on the States
- In Oregon, the Senate rejected a plan to limit the oversupply of marijuana.
- In Tennessee, lawmakers abruptly delayed all medical marijuana legalization efforts until 2020.
- In Oklahoma, medical marijuana sales topped $12 million in March. A House committee advanced two medical marijuana-related bills.
- In Pennsylvania, the lieutenant governor heard overwhelming support for marijuana legalization in Berks County.
- In Wisconsin, 59 percent of the public supports marijuana legalization, according to a new poll.
- In Indiana, lawmakers amended a hemp bill to allow smokable hemp flower.
- In Michigan, universities are expanding their marijuana degree programs.
- In California, a legislative committee killed a measure that would overturn a policy to allow cannabis deliveries across the state.
Word for Word
“Last summer, [Kim Kardashian West] made the unlikely decision — one she knew would be met with an eye roll for the ages — to begin a four-year law apprenticeship, with the goal of taking the bar in 2022. ‘I had to think long and hard about this,’ she says… What inspired her to embark on something so overwhelmingly difficult and time-consuming — even as she also runs a multimillion-dollar beauty enterprise — was the combination of ‘seeing a really good result’ with Alice Marie Johnson and feeling out of her depth. ‘The White House called me to advise to help change the system of clemency,’ she says, ‘and I’m sitting in the Roosevelt Room with, like, a judge who had sentenced criminals and a lot of really powerful people and I just sat there, like, Oh, shit. I need to know more.” – Jonathan Van Meter for Vogue
“On the one hand we continue the decades-long struggle for the right of people to use drugs without punishment or stigma. But we also face an internal struggle over how to reform our drug policies and build alternative systems in their place—and that includes confronting societal problems that manifest within our movement. Psychedelics are being green-lit by the FDA for therapeutic research. But psychedelic institutions struggle to protect women from sexual assault, or to support people of color at any level. Cannabis is becoming a global, multi-billion-dollar industry. But hundreds of thousands of people retain cannabis convictions on their records, and the industry’s rewards are being reaped by a small, white business elite.” – Alexander Lekhtman for Filter
“As legalization gains mainstream acceptance, it’s easy to be lulled into a sense of complacency. Because while you may be lucky enough to live where cannabis programs exist, there are places in this country where pot is an excuse to harass, imprison, and even kill people. Here are some recent examples of the true perils of reefer madness.” – Josh Jardine for The Portland Mercury