Illinois looks to legalize marijuana, prioritizing social equity and small businesses. Hope is waning for adult-use legalization in New Jersey. A look at the efforts of two individuals facing off against large cannabis companies. Also: Post Malone unveiled his own cannabis brand during an industry trade show. 🌳
Illinois reveals cannabis legalization details.
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker announced that he had struck a deal with lawmakers on a marijuana legalization plan. If passed, the state would become the 10th in the nation to allow the adult-use of marijuana. The Associated Press
The 522-page bill includes automatic expungements and a $20 million fund to give low-interest loans to social equity applicants. Crain’s Chicago Business “Illinois lawmakers… have about four weeks to accomplish what no state has done successfully by legislature: pass one bill that would legalize cannabis possession and use and would set up a regulatory and tax structure for sales.” Cannabis Wire “We have to ensure it’s not a small group of people getting very rich,” said one of the bill’s sponsors. The Los Angeles Times
Legalization in New Jersey stalls.
Illinois could beat New Jersey to the punch: Six unnamed sources said that hope is dimming for recreational legalization in the state. Instead, the issue may go to the voters during the 2020 elections. The idea of putting marijuana legalization on the ballot has been gaining ground as the governor and Senate president fight over the details of corporate tax incentives. One attorney said the feud is a “horrible distraction for those who are focused on cannabis… leaving behind the social justice efforts surrounding cannabis.” The Senate president said that he still has hope that legalization can pass through the legislature, but acknowledged that the ballot referendum was “a last resort.” nj.com
Couple killed in Houston drug raid didn’t have heroin.
The couple who was killed during a controversial, no-knock drug raid in January had traces of marijuana and cocaine in their systems, according to an autopsy report. Neither of them had heroin — the drug that they were accused of selling. “Questions about the official version of events arose in the days after the raid, when investigators realized that they couldn’t find the confidential informant who supposedly bought heroin at the home earlier that month. The police involved in the arrest came under scrutiny after investigators accused narcotics Officer Gerald Goines, the 54-year-old case agent, of lying on the search warrant affidavit used to justify the no-knock raid.” Houston Chronicle
Hope for getting out of prison.
Geneva Cooley was sentenced to life without parole for a non-violent drug offense. The 72-year-old grandma expected to live the rest of her life behind bars, but a judge ruled that her sentence “violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment because life without parole is no longer a possible punishment for drug trafficking in Alabama.” Her sentence was reduced to life with the possibility of parole, and she could be considered for parole this year. “Geneva is the poster child of a nonviolent drug offender getting an oversized punishment,” said an attorney involved with her case. WBRC
Facing off with Big Marijuana.
Dr. Mark Schneyer won an early license for Maryland’s medical marijuana program. His company — MaryMed LLC — partnered with cannabis company Vireo after Schneyer met its founder Kyle Kingsley at a cannabis business conference. Now, Schneyer is suing Vireo to “recoup a far larger ownership stake that he claimed was improperly stripped from him through Vireo’s purchase of MaryMed — a transaction the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is investigating.” Baltimore Sun Meanwhile, MedMen’s former CFO James Parker added new allegations to his lawsuit against the marijuana retailer, including that execs “conspired to engage in a short-term stock manipulation scheme that netted them ‘millions of additional dollars.'” Marijuana Business Daily
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Plaintiffs drop claim in Utah MMJ lawsuit.
Patient advocates who are suing the state over a legislative rewrite of a voter-passed medical marijuana law are dropping an allegation against the LDS church from their lawsuit. The original lawsuit argued that “the Legislature of abridging the rights of voters to appease the church, which the plaintiffs say has an unconstitutional grip on Utah’s government.” The attorney in the case said the allegation would have required “a laborious and expensive fact-finding process” to prove. The lawsuit now argues that lawmakers disregarded the will of voters by passing their own medical marijuana law. The Salt Lake Tribune
CBD may be a huge health-and-wellness trend, but scientists are only just scratching the surface of its effects. “One suspicion about cannabidiol is that it is an impossible panacea: some, for example, claim CBD makes them more relaxed; others that it sharpens their mind to focus on complex work problems. Can it really do both?” One CBD researcher said that “this is less a contradiction and more an indication that we don’t yet know what CBD is capable of and how best to use it.” The Guardian Hemp-extracted CBD may be federally legal, but regulatory confusion reigns. Some prosecutors aren’t going after the cannabinoid, while others have raided retailers, arrested consumers, and seized products. The New York Times
Elsewhere in cannabis business news…
The musician Post Malone unveiled his own cannabis brand during a trade show in California. The brand, Shaboink, will sell flower, pre-rolls and vapes. Zach “Jesushands” Fernandez, the artist known for changing the “Hollywood” sign to read “Hollyweed,” also launched his own cannabis line (called Hollyweed). The Hollywood Reporter Coca-Cola reiterated that it does not have any plans to enter the cannabis space. Yahoo Finance Cannabis entrepreneurs on telling their families about their work and pushing back against stigma against the drug. The New York Times
Cannabis in Canada.
More Canadians are trying marijuana since the country legalized recreational use last year. The number of people reporting first-time cannabis use increased 4 percent since the legal market launched. CBC News Marijuana vs. beer is the new divide in Canadian politics. The Washington Post The Ontario Cannabis Store changed the page of cannabis products from “Leafs By Snoop” to “LBS” after a CEO of a cannabis distribution company called out the provincial cannabis retailer for flouting federal rules. Yahoo Finance CBD is flying off the shelves. CTV News
Elsewhere around the world…
China is cashing in on the CBD boom, “even though cannabidiol has not been authorized for consumption in China.” The New York Times A Chinese blockchain investor revamps its business plan to focus on cannabis “to counter a lethargic bitcoin market.” South China Morning Post The Uganda government is reviewing the country’s cannabis laws. New Vision The medical marijuana program in Denmark is growing fast as the number of patients tripled during its first year. Marijuana Business Daily As New Zealand awaits its marijuana legalization ballot referendum, police seizures of the drug are increasing. Cannabis Now The president of Mexico proposed a plan to decriminalize illicit drugs. Marijuana Moment
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Word on the States
- In Colorado, how cannabis bills fared in the legislature this year. The General Assembly approved legislation to lower drug possession penalties.
- In Vermont, a House committee advanced a bill to allow commercial cannabis sales.
- In New York, the annual NYC Cannabis March was a reminder of how far the movement has come. The NYPD commissioner is worried about marijuana legalization and other criminal justice reforms.
- In Rhode Island, the governor’s legalization proposal faces an uphill battle.
- In Louisiana, medical marijuana won’t be available by the mid-May deadline demanded by patients and pharmacists.
- In Ohio, regulators consider expanding the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
- In Arkansas, the first medical marijuana dispensary got approval to open its doors.
- In Kansas, the legislature passed a bill to provide an affirmative defense for low-THC cannabis oils.
- In California, a look at cannabis and zoning in Pomona.
- In Pennsylvania, a look at cannabis in the state.
- In Alabama, the House considers reducing marijuana penalties.
- In Texas, the legislative session is likely to end with few changes to the state’s marijuana laws.
- In Florida, the Senate passed a hemp farming bill, sending it to the governor.
Word for Word
“A caller near Banner Mountain Trail and Gracie Road reported three people smoking marijuana. The caller became irate when they learned marijuana was legalized in California.” – Nevada County Police Blotter, The Union