A federal agency is getting sued over threatening prospective hemp farmers. Trump administration officials acknowledged that a tax incentive could benefit marijuana investors. Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth is reportedly nearing a deal to buy Acreage Holdings. Also: A Malaysian man who gave cannabis oil to sick patients got sentenced to 15 years in prison and 10 strokes of a cane, avoiding the death penalty. 🌳
Feds accused of stifling legal hemp. A federal official threatened Oklahoma farmers with criminal charges if they participated in a legal hemp research program, according to a new lawsuit. The plaintiff, Equitable Organic Ventures (EOV), said it got a group of 20 farmers to participate in the hemp research pilot program through an educational institution. The farmers were encouraged to talk to the Farm Service Agency, an arm of the Department of Agriculture. An official for the agency said “if they enter into a contract with EOV, or if they plant even one hemp seed, they will be subject to losing their existing farm loans, be ineligible for further loans from the FSA, and be subject to criminal charges.” Tulsa World
Elsewhere in the federal government… The Trump administration’s proposed tax incentive could possibly benefit investors in marijuana dispensaries in states where it’s legal. The regulations released on Wednesday are aimed at incentivizing investors to put their money in struggling communities. The New York Times Congressional Democrats held their first-ever panel on marijuana reform during a policy retreat. The panel focused on restorative justice and social equity in the cannabis industry. Marijuana Moment
From cannabis consumption to criminal justice. Activists in New York are pushing for a more equitable marijuana industry as cannabis consumers prepare to celebrate 4/20. A new group called 421 For All is holding its inaugural fundraising event at Chelsea Music Hall on 4/21. “The message of organizations and advocates who have been doing this very work was being drowned out by cannabis revenue talk. The answer was to create 421 as a day focused on cannabis justice matters,” said its founder. Word on the Tree / Common Dreams Ben & Jerry’s is partnering with California cannabis company Caliva to add a free pint of ice cream to every order placed on April 19 and April 20. Caliva will donate 4.20 percent of its total sales to Code for America, which has partnered with California counties to automatically expunge past cannabis offenses. Cannabis Now
Republicans cashing in on cannabis. Just a few years after opposing marijuana reform efforts in Michigan, Republican lawmakers are scrambling to get in on the state’s newly legal cannabis industry. Take, for example, former state rep. Mike Callton, who publicly opposed the ballot initiative that legalized adult use. He now bills himself as the “premier consultant” for legal weed. He helps cannabis businesses get licensed, but also has vowed never to “touch” marijuana himself. Michigan is also one of the few states that does not require a “cooling off” period between public service and lobbying. Former conservative lawmakers have turned to lobbying for cannabis companies. Detroit Metro Times
Cannabis for good boys and girls. California is considering legislation to allow veterinarians recommend cannabis for pets. Under the bill, licensed vets who have completed a continuing education cannabis program would be allowed to recommend the medicine. New York, Connecticut, and Tennessee have bills pending related to cannabis and veterinary medicine. VIN News Service A new study found that dogs with epilepsy had fewer seizures while taking hemp-derived CBD oil. Researchers followed three epileptic dogs over two months. Two of the three dogs experienced benefits while taking the oil. Marijuana Moment
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Separating families over a cannabis plant. Tonia Lovell tried twice to get into a family shelter with her 18-month-old toddler Eliana. But the Department of Homeless Services rejected her after finding that the apartment she was staying in — her brother’s — was suitable. Her brother rented rooms to other tenants, and evicted a couple of them in November 2017. He found marijuana plants and ammunition in the rooms, and called police. An employee for the Administration for Children’s Services decided to use the agency’s emergency powers to remove Eliana on the spot, without filing a petition in family court. Defense attorneys describe an uptick in the use of emergency powers, often in cases that aren’t emergencies. WNYC
Los Angeles sues unlicensed dispensary. In a bid to crack down on unregulated marijuana sales, Los Angeles is seeking millions in civil penalties from an unlicensed marijuana dispensary accused of selling pesticide-tainted cannabis. Kush Club 20 was “selling cannabis tainted with paclobutrazol, a fungicide frequently used to make golf turf more dense and verdant, which is classified as a Type II toxic chemical by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is not approved for use on cannabis in California,” alleged the lawsuit. The suit is the first of its kind and tests a daily civil penalty for every day of unlicensed operation. The Los Angeles Times Related: Elsewhere in the state, a licensing logjam puts licensed operators in a difficult position: “Continue operating with expired permits – or shut down.” Marijuana Business Daily
In other cannabis business news… Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth is nearing a deal to acquire U.S. cannabis company Acreage Holdings, according to an unnamed source. “The deal is expected to fetch a premium of about 28 percent to Acreage’s five-day average trading price – or roughly 25 percent of its closing price on Wednesday, the source said.” Reuters A Massachusetts investment adviser is facing charges for violating securities laws after bilking investors out of $8 million for marijuana investments. The state is seeking to bar the CEO of US Advisory Group Inc from practicing and to order him to pay restitution to investors. Boston Herald Bank of America initiated cannabis coverage. Benzinga Coral Reefer, Jimmy Buffett’s cannabis brand, will be available in South Florida April 19. South Florida Business Journal
Elsewhere around the world… Uruguay and Canada were the first two countries to legalize marijuana. Here’s a look at who could be next. Vice A Malaysian medical marijuana advocate who was giving away cannabis oil to sick patients was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 10 strokes of a cane after pleading guilty to cannabis possession. He was originally facing the death penalty thanks to a drug trafficking charge, but prosecutors agreed to reduce the charge. FMT News An unsuccessful medical marijuana cultivation applicant in Germany is challenging the decision to award cultivation contracts to other applicants. Marijuana Business Daily
On psychedelics. There’s little research on microdosing psychedelics. But one rigorous study produced some intriguing results: “the first placebo-controlled microdose trial… concluded that microdoses of LSD appreciably altered subjects’ sense of time, allowing them to more accurately reproduce lapsed spans of time.” Scientific American Denver could become the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin. Vox A look at ‘Bicycle Day’ — or 4/19 — which commemorates the day that Swiss biochemist Albert Hofmann took the first intentional dose of LSD. Anchorage Press
Word on the States
- In Georgia, the governor signed a medical marijuana bill to allow in-state production.
- In Alaska, the state legislature rejected the governor’s appointment of an anti-marijuana activist to the Marijuana Control Board.
- In Massachusetts, medical marijuana patients advocate for access amid recreational legalization.
- In Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia cannabis doctor was suspended for “problematic pattern of cannabis use.”
- In California, Calaveras County is working on marijuana regulations that would replace the current ban on cannabis cultivation.
- In Nevada, the state shut down two dispensaries as the company struggles to pay its employees, rent, and taxes.
- In Missouri, the House rejected an amendment to reduce penalties for cannabis possession. The state is planning a crackdown on impaired drivers on 4/20.
- In New York, a look back at when New York City led on marijuana reform.
- In Florida, Daytona Beach approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance.
- In Texas, the Baker Institute for Public Policy supports a bill to decriminalize cannabis.
- In Alabama, a Senate committee advanced a marijuana decriminalization bill. The DA of Jefferson County may end misdemeanor marijuana arrests.
- In Louisiana, the state is waiting to complete testing before making medical marijuana available to patients.
- In New Mexico, a look at the prospects for marijuana legalization.
Word for Word
“Abu Edwards, Smart Approaches to Marijuana’s director of state affairs… said that recent events in New Jersey offer a parallel to what Smart Approaches to Marijuana hopes to accomplish in Illinois: the group says it helped to at least temporarily derail a cannabis legalization measure, despite one-party control and the support of key lawmakers. Edwards said his group was ‘laughed out of people’s offices’ before its arguments gained traction.” – Jeremy Borden for Cannabis Wire
“It’s also money that’s making pot boring. Recently, I went to a champagne-and-hot-wings party—a superb concept, by the way—in a wealthy neighborhood in Toronto, and it felt like half the people attending were in the cannabis industry in one way or another; many of them had transitioned from hedge funds. Marijuana stocks have overtaken real estate as the standard conversational go-to of Toronto dinner parties. And you have not understood how banal marijuana can be until you overhear two parents watching their kids at a swimming lesson discuss how I.S.O. 9000 certification affects the marketing efforts for stocks of C.B.D.-extract companies… Canada is proving, once again, the deep political power of boredom: if you want to suck the power and glamour out of drugs, let the government run them.” – Stephen Marche for The New Yorker