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Tuesday | May 7, 2019. A look at the challenges in tackling the injustices of legal weed. The FDA fast-tracks a synthetic CBD drug. The Open Cannabis Project is dissolving itself amid controversy. Also: Denver voters head to the polls to weigh in on psilocybin decriminalization today. 🍄🌳
The injustices of legal weed.
Despite recreational marijuana legalization in Michigan, Michael Thompson is serving a 40- to 60-year sentence for selling pot. “Yes, legalizing marijuana was a good thing, many millionaires will be made through marijuana business,” said Thompson. “I will continue to pray that someone will step up soon and put an end to this nightmare of politics that has been keeping me incarcerated.” While legalization efforts around the country are increasingly focusing on criminal justice reforms and social equity in the industry, “there are limits to what that looks like on the ground.” Next City
Legalization in Illinois faces obstacles.
Illinois is the latest state to attempt to legalize marijuana through the legislature, with a strong focus on expungements and equity in the industry. But House speaker Mike Madigan said it would be difficult to get the 60 votes needed in the House. “There are some very controversial aspects to the proposal. No. 1 would be the proposal for the expungement of criminal records,” Madigan told a group of student reporters. A marijuana program that supports minority participation in the industry could also become a challenge when finding enough votes for the bill. Debate on the bill is expected to start soon in the Senate. The Southern Illinoisan
FDA fast-tracks synthetic CBD drug.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given “Fast Track” status to Zygel, a transdermal, synthetic CBD lotion for treating symptoms of Fragile X. There are currently no drugs available to treat the symptoms of the genetic condition. The drug’s producer Zynerba Pharmaceuticals “is in the final stages of a clinical trial of Zygel and hopes to have it on the market by late 2020,” according to a spokesperson for the company. The FDA has previously approved a plant-derived CBD drug for intractable epilepsy. The Philadelphia Inquirer
Cannabis campaign contributions to Missouri governor.
A PAC linked to Missouri governor Mike Parson has gotten at least $15,000 in contributions from those with interests in the state’s medical marijuana program. While the donations aren’t illegal, “they came at a time when the Republican governor’s administration is in the midst of writing rules and regulations that will govern the fledgling industry, raising questions about whether the donations were designed to influence the process or the awarding of [marijuana] licenses.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Open Cannabis Project dissolves itself amid controversy.
The Open Cannabis Project is dissolving itself amid controversy surrounding its former business partner Phylos Bioscience. Phylos recently announced its own breeding program for cannabis strains, angering growers who had shared their data with the company. The executive director of Phylos told investors that the data would give the company a “huge lead” in creating new strains. “[The] presentation to investors confirms many of the fears the community has had about Phylos’ intentions for years,” said the Open Cannabis Project’s executive director. Willamette Week
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Black attorneys oppose Canada’s pot pardon plan.
The vice president for the Canadian Association for Black Lawyers criticized the government’s bill to pardon past pot offenses, describing the legislation as a “token gesture.” Gordon Cudjoe explained to MPs that pardoning the past offenses wouldn’t help individuals that the bill is designed to “because potential employers tend to ask if someone has ever pled or been found guilty of a crime, not if they have a criminal record.” Some MPs and activists are advocating for expungement as a better solution. iPolitics
As recreational legalization stalls, Albany considers MMJ.
As efforts to legalize adult-use marijuana in New York stall, some lawmakers are turning their attention to expanding medical marijuana. The MMJ expansion effort is a “last resort” if the legislature can’t reach a deal on recreational legalization. “As of today, I do not have any degree of confidence that a standalone adult-use marijuana (bill) will pass the Legislature. Medical marijuana is completely independent of it,” said state senator Diane Savino. The proposed expansion would get rid of the list of qualifying conditions and would allow smokable flower in the program. Word on the Tree / THE CITY
In cannabis business news…
Marcato Capital, a hedge fund that invested in Acreage Holdings, opposes the marijuana company’s $3.4 billion sale to Canopy Growth. Marcato “will spearhead opposition” to the deal when shareholders vote on it next month. Reuters A cannabis consultant is suing Privateer Holdings, alleging that the company never paid her for consulting work she did on a Maryland medical marijuana license application. Cannabis Wire Ice Cube has signed on to headline the next High Times SoCal Cannabis Cup. It’s set to be the first licensed cannabis festival in the region. San Bernardino Sun “Meet the man with an $80 million Wall Street weed plan.” Ozy Why liquor giant Constellation Brands is bullish on cannabis. Yahoo Finance
Elsewhere around the world…
A court in Myanmar extended the detention of an American citizen for two more weeks. The man was accused of growing marijuana, while the company behind the operation said the plants were industrial hemp that had approval from the local government. The Associated Press The cannabis referendum in New Zealand will be a simply yes/no question on a yet-to-be-passed draft law. The vote is not binding as lawmakers would actually have to enact the law. The proposal would legalize personal marijuana use for those over 20, allow licensed sales and social consumption, allow home-grow, and ban cannabis advertising. stuff.co.nz The health minister of Ireland said he has a “very open mind” about domestic medical cannabis production. thejournal.ie
On psychedelics reform.
Today is the day that Denver voters head to the polls to weigh in on psilocybin decriminalization. The Associated Press The former cannabis editor for The Denver Post makes the case for why voters should pass the measure. The Denver Post Meanwhile, advocates in California are taking the first steps to get psilocybin decriminalization on the 2020 state-wide ballot. Marijuana Moment
🗣 Shout Outs 🗣
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 New Jersey, the governor dismissed concerns about marijuana legalization talks.
- In Oklahoma, April medical marijuana sales topped $18 million, marking the seventh straight month of growth.
- In Florida, two medical marijuana firms challenged the state’s decision to allow another company to open more dispensaries than state law allows.
- In Texas, the House approved a bill to expand the medical cannabis program, sending it to the Senate.
- In Arizona, marijuana advocates are preparing to launch a campaign to legalize adult-use marijuana in 2020.
- In Colorado, the governor signals support for a bill to defelonize drug possession.
- In Vermont, an investigation found hundreds of marijuana plants growing at a hemp farm.
- In Guam, the attorney general said it would collaborate with the Northern Marianas on marijuana regulations.
Word for Word
“A white woman was caught on tape selling heroin, but police arrested a black woman instead.” – Joshua Vaughn for The Appeal