Senator Cory Booker is trying to get equity provisions into the STATES Act. Colorado’s new federal prosecutor agrees with rescinding the Cole memo. A veteran is forced to choose between medical marijuana and his job. Also: The Vitamin Shoppe is stocking CBD supplements, flouting FDA guidance. 🌳
Booker is working to make the STATES Act better. The STATES Act is one of the most prominent pieces of marijuana reform legislation currently in Congress, with the support of industry and advocacy groups alike. But senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) refuses to co-sponsor any marijuana legislation that doesn’t include social justice measures. “It’s not, ‘Hey, just looking forward, suddenly let’s give states the right to do what they want to do…’ We’ve got to correct for the absolute injustice of marijuana enforcement, the racial biases in marijuana enforcement,” he said. Booker said he’s working with the bill’s sponsors to add criminal justice measures to the bill. Lead sponsor U.S. rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) agreed that reform legislation should include equity components. nj.com Related: U.S. rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) expressed support for legislation to allow the cannabis industry access to banks. The Associated Press A cannabis trade group has hired McGuireWoods as its federal lobbyists. The Recorder
Colorado’s new U.S. attorney agrees with rescinding the Cole memo. The state’s new Trump-appointed prosecutor Jason Dunn said he agreed with former attorney general Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole memo. But the state’s legal cannabis industry is optimistic about Dunn, who thinks the Cole memo was problematic because “we as law enforcement should never be saying, ‘We won’t enforce the law.’” Dunn is in a cannabis working group with other federal prosecutors and has discussed cannabis enforcement issues with those in the industry. “I’m cautiously optimistic that he doesn’t have an agenda to go after the industry,” said one cannabis business attorney who has spoken with Dunn. “He seems to be very reasonable, and we’re optimistic that he will make good decisions.” Colorado Sun
Veteran forced to choose between medical marijuana and job. Air Force veteran and former active duty national guardsman Nick Torraco says he was forced to choose between medical marijuana and being employed. He chose marijuana. The veteran uses cannabis to treat PTSD, depression, and anxiety, and describes the medicine as “a life saver.” “The job was so rewarding, but my life means more. And my health,” he said. Many medical marijuana-legal states, including Illinois, still allow employers to maintain zero-tolerance marijuana policies. Torraco hopes to change that. “If employers are ok with their employees coming in with six different pills to handle all their issues… they should also then be open to their employees smoking marijuana,” he said. WBBM
How legal cannabis use can still land you in jail. Failed drug tests are a major driver of reincarceration of those on parole or probation. Even when individuals live in a state with legal marijuana laws, prohibiting marijuana use for those on parole is standard around the country. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has a bill on his desk that would bar marijuana testing for those on probation. While the practice of supervised release started as an act of mercy, “more people were put on parole and probation under increasingly strict terms. Supervised release changed from an act of mercy to a different form of punishment.” Experts say there is no public safety benefit for testing parolees for marijuana use and doing so does not decrease criminal behavior. Reason
The Army just says no to cannabis. Even in states where marijuana is legal, those in the armed forces aren’t allowed to partake. While active duty soldiers are wary about pushing back on the military’s marijuana policies, veterans are increasingly speaking up about the issue. The conflict between state law and military policies is not only creating confusion among soldiers, but also led to tensions in marijuana-legal cities that are also home to military bases. “Those cities rely on the economic stability that nearby military bases bring, but could bring in hefty tax dollars if they welcome marijuana dispensaries to town.” The Army’s substance abuse prevention chief says that the military’s marijuana policy won’t change as long as federal prohibition remains. TPR
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Crackdown divides cannabis community. About 75 percent of Massachusetts’ cannabis sales this year will take place in the underground market. While some medical marijuana dispensaries celebrated a recent bust of an illicit delivery service, many consumers are outraged by the crackdown. “Social justice advocates argue that leaders should focus on transitioning people from the illicit market to the legal one, fearing that enforcement could perpetuate racial disparities in policing.” The Boston Globe Licensed cannabis businesses in Michigan are calling on the state to clamp down on medical marijuana caregivers that provide untested cannabis to patients. Caregivers are able to undercut their prices, they say. But patients are worried about whether they can afford their medicine if they can’t buy caregiver-grown cannabis. The Detroit News
Vitamin Shoppe to stock CBD products. The Vitamin Shoppe is the latest major retailer to get into the CBD space with CBD soft gels and drops. Unlike other major retailers that are stocking CBD cosmetics products, the chain is selling CBD in edible form as a supplement. “The move flies in the face of guidance from the Food and Drug Administration that prohibits companies from adding CBD to dietary supplements until the agency has a chance to write new rules regulating its sale.” The company was spurred by consumer demand to carry such products. CNBC
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… Legal marijuana could be the next big thing in healthcare. Barron’s A new cannabis exchange-traded fund will debut in New York on Thursday. “The fund is poised to make history as the first U.S. ETF to include cannabis in its name.” Bloomberg Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth expects to generate $1 billion in revenue this year — 19 percent more than analyst estimates. But it doesn’t expect to be profitable. BNN Bloomberg Even in Canada, the industry faces stigma from institutional investors. Eight Quebec cannabis companies are joining forces in hopes of dispelling stigmas against the industry and attract more financing sources. Montreal Gazette
Cannabis in Canada… Faced with cannabis supply and quality issues, licensed retailers in Canada are struggling to compete with the underground market. “A number of government outlets and licensed private stores have also faced complaints that their products do not match the quality of the black market.” The Guardian Pot producers, for their part, say the problem isn’t that they’re not growing enough weed. The problem lies in processing the raw material and packaging it for sale. MarketWatch To stay compliant, Toronto’s first legal cannabis lounge isn’t allowed to give its customers water. Though “employees are able to pour water into bongs for patrons.” Leafly Organizers of Vancouver’s 4/20 event are clashing with city officials ahead of the cannabis holiday over a scheduled performance by Cypress Hill. National Post
Holland is behind the times. The country used to be the mecca for marijuana, drawing tourists from all over the world to experience cannabis-friendly coffeeshops. But marijuana was never truly legal in the country, with coffeeshops sourcing cannabis from the illicit market. Meanwhile, “Uruguay legalized it. Canada legalized it. Ten American states, the nation’s capital, and two U.S. territories legalized it, with another state or two or three likely to do it this year. And this was actual legalization, not the wink-wink-nudge-nudge ‘it’s still illegal but we’ll allow it’ Dutch compromise.” Now the Dutch government is moving forward with a pilot program for regulated marijuana production that would supply the coffeeshops. AlterNet
Word on the States
- In California, labor and social justice advocates are joining forces on a cannabis equity proposal.
- In Washington, the House approved a bill to vacate some marijuana convictions.
- In Oregon, the Senate rejected a proposal to limit the amount of marijuana production.
- In Michigan, the governor signed a bill to streamline medical marijuana applications.
- In Illinois, how Chicago is celebrating 4/20.
- In Florida, the governor drafted a short list of nurseries for medical marijuana licenses.
- In Maryland, how entrepreneurs in Howard county are taking their product nationwide.
- In Wisconsin, a state rep. is reintroducing legislation to legalize marijuana.
- In Montana, the House approved a bill to change how medical marijuana is tested.
- In Oklahoma, a Canadian county judge ruled that parts of Yukon’s marijuana ordinance can’t be enforced.
- In North Carolina, a new House bill would decriminalize up to four ounces of marijuana.
- In Louisiana, a medical marijuana grower has opened its commercial cultivation center.
- In Alabama, hemp creates confusion for law enforcement struggling to tell it apart from marijuana.
Word for Word
“New York dessert shop Milk Bar has renamed its signature ‘crack pie’ after facing criticism for naming the pie after an addictive drug that’s heavily affected minority groups. The dessert is now called ‘Milk Bar pie.’ Owner Christina Tosi says that the changes won’t happen all at once, but that managers will be in touch with their employees about the next steps. ‘Our mission, after all, is to spread joy and inspire celebration,’ she says in a statement. ‘The name Crack Pie falls short of this mission.'” – Carla Vianna for Eater