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Thursday | May 2, 2019. D.C. mayor seeks to legalize cannabis sales, setting up a showdown with the feds. Massachusetts has sold more than $100 million in weed so far. Las Vegas approves marijuana lounges. Also: A bill to expunge past pot convictions was defeated in Canada. 🌳
D.C. mayor proposes commercial cannabis sales.
Washington D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser announced legislation to tax and regulate marijuana sales, which could set up “a potential showdown with the federal government.” While the District legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, an amendment in the federal appropriations bill bars the city from regulating the drug. “We want to be able to regulate, we want to be able to make sure we are collecting our fair share in taxes, we want to invest those taxes in ways that affect communities that have been disproportionately affected, and we want to train and hire D.C. residents,” said Bowser. The bill would task alcohol regulators with overseeing the cannabis industry, and the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed to serve the recreational market. The Washington Post
Massachusetts has sold $100 million in adult-use weed.
Recreational marijuana dispensaries in the state have sold $104 million in cannabis since the first adult-use dispensary opened last November. Marijuana flower accounted for more than half of those sales. So far, the state has collected nearly $8 million in marijuana taxes. There are currently 15 adult-use dispensaries in the state. Mass Live Worcester’s first recreational dispensary opened their doors this week. They’re accepting customers by appointment only during the first week, and consumers are limited to half an ounce of flower per purchase. Mass Live
Politicos head to the pot industry.
Massachusetts hoped to help small businesses and minority entrepreneurs with its recreational marijuana program. “But, so far, winning a license to sell pot in Massachusetts often seems to be determined by whom you know — or if you can afford to pay a lobbyist or consultant who knows people. At least 12 of the 17 recreational pot stores open as of May 1 hired lobbyists or former politicians.” Former government officials from governors to police officials are flooding into the industry. Frank Perullo stands out stands out among the marijuana lobbyists in the state, and is linked to efforts to open at least seven dispensaries. “The state’s three-shop legal limit has clearly not been an impediment so far.” The Boston Globe
Las Vegas approves marijuana lounges.
The Las Vegas City Council approved a measure to allow marijuana lounges, while a similar effort in the Nevada legislature failed this session. “The state will catch up. We can’t wait for the state to act,” said the city councilman who sponsored the bill. He intended for lounges to be located next to dispensaries, and they must “meet odor standards and have plans for security, training, fire safety, air quality and sanitation.” The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, where visitors are able to buy marijuana but often have no place to consume it. Las Vegas Review-Journal
Feds say no to bankruptcy for women who works in cannabis.
An Oregon woman has been denied bankruptcy protection by the U.S. Justice Department because she works for a marijuana staffing agency. Although she works for an ancillary company, the DOJ said her employer’s ties to the cannabis industry falls under its ban “on individuals whose income is connected to the cannabis business.” Marijuana Business Daily
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Rethinking the war on drugs.
San Francisco district attorney George Gáscon is traveling to Portugal to learn about the country’s drug decriminalization policies. “I have been following the Portuguese experiment for quite some time,” he said. “They claim they have had a reduction in organized crime, in the drug trade, in drug-related deaths. I’d like to see it first-hand. I’ve read a lot about it, and now I want to go and kick the tires, if you will.” San Francisco Weekly
Australian donates $2 million to hemp research.
A few years ago, Australian philanthropists Barry and Joy Lambert donated $3 million to Jefferson University to create its Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp. Now, the Lamberts are donating another $2 million to develop medicines from hemp. Barry now serves as CEO Ecofibre, an Australian hemp company that grows the plant in Kentucky. The Philadelphia Inquirer
Elsewhere in cannabis business news…
Barclays estimates that the American cannabis market would be worth $28 billion if it were federally legalized today. Analysts predicted that it would then rise to $41 billion by 2028. That would generate “almost $28 billion of tax revenues across all levels of government” if cannabis taxes were on par with tobacco taxes. CNBC Scotts Miracle-Gro’s shares rose 11 percent thanks to increasing sales for its marijuana hydroponics business. The growth is in part thanks to the rise of the illicit market in California. Bloomberg
Cannabis in Canada.
Advocates believe a bill to pardon past cannabis offenses doesn’t go far enough. “A pardon is not a deletion, but rather a suspension,” testified a criminal defense attorney before a legislative committee. “But if the records are deleted [expunged], they can’t be brought back.” Meanwhile, another bill that would fully expunge past marijuana possession charges was defeated 61 to 225. Georgia Straight The country’s illicit cannabis market is thriving. Nearly 80 percent of cannabis sales during the fourth quarter of last year were from underground sellers. Quartz
Elsewhere around the world…
The government of New Zealand is preparing to release details of its 2020 cannabis legalization referendum. The proposal is expected to allow for personal use and cultivation of cannabis. TVNZ The legal confusion surrounding a hemp bust in Myanmar could promote discussion of drug policy reform in the country. Cannabis Now Himachal Pradesh, India walked back a proposal to legalize cannabis. The Tribune
Weed + Grub
Weed + Grub is a podcast about cooking, cannabis, comedy, and pop culture — hosted by Mary Jane Gibson and Mike Glazer. Word on the Tree is happy to support the podcast’s news section, The Grublet Gazette! Check it out wherever you get your podcasts or listen right here on the web: Weed + Grub
Word on the States
- In Colorado, the Senate passed a bill to allow marijuana deliveries, sending it to the governor.
- In Washington, pesticide tests are proving disruptive for processors.
- In New Hampshire, the Senate passed a medical marijuana home cultivation bill.
- In Connecticut, a key legislative committee advanced recreational marijuana legislation.
- In Vermont, a state rep. is trying to tack on a seatbelt law in the marijuana regulation bill.
- In New York, a pro-cannabis senator explains why she thinks adult-use legalization has “no shot.”
- In Rhode Island, the health department has rejected a request to add opioid dependency to the medical marijuana program.
- In Hawaii, the health department warned businesses against selling CBD products.
- In Georgia, patients will have to wait at least a year or two before medical cannabis oil is available in the state.
- In Washington, Seattle’s mayor calls for federal marijuana reform.
- In Louisiana, officials believe medical marijuana is on track to be delivered to pharmacies May 27.
- In Alabama, a bill to reduce marijuana penalties got sidetracked to another subcommittee.
Word for Word
“Marijuana buds and tempura broccoli can look oddly similar out of context, but Facebook’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology can tell the difference. At its annual developers’ conference on Wednesday, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer discussed how the social media giant is able to leverage visual AI to spot ‘policy-violating content,’ including advertisements to sell cannabis on the platform. He explained the process by comparing images of the fried vegetable next to marijuana buds.” – Kyle Jaeger, Marijuana Moment
“Before she joined the US Senate, Amy Klobuchar spent much of her career locking people up as the prosecutor for Hennepin County, Minnesota. But if she’s elected president, the Democrat has vowed to enact reforms within a month that could free thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people from federal prisons — and she won’t even need Congress to do it. Klobuchar’s plan would tap into one of the president’s few nearly absolute powers: the ability to grant pardons and commutations to any federal prison inmate… And now Klobuchar wants to use that power, much as President Barack Obama did toward the end of his term, to roll back mass incarceration and the war on drugs.” – German Lopez for Vox