Cannabis policy reform gains legitimacy at the Capitol. Racial disparities in marijuana arrests got worse in Washington after legalization. Massachusetts considers a fund to help equity applicants start their businesses. Also: After three months of deliberations, Facebook decides against changing its policy for marijuana companies. 🌳
Cannabis at the Capitol.
Members of Congress met with cannabis industry representatives and drug policy advocates during a first-ever marijuana forum at the Capitol complex. The event was held by the House Cannabis Caucus and the communications firm KCSA, coinciding with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Lobby Days. Roll Call Elsewhere at the Capitol, proponents of cannabis banking reform strategized on how to get the SAFE Banking Act through Congress. The biggest hurdles to its passage are senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Cannabis Wire New bills in Congress that would deschedule marijuana have gained the support of the Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Tulsi Gabbard. Marijuana Moment Related: U.S. state bankers associations sent a letter to Senate leaders about their support for cannabis banking reform. Marijuana Business Daily
Racial disparities in arrests got worse after legalization.
After Washington State introduced adult-use marijuana laws, the number of cannabis arrests declined dramatically. But racial disparities have gotten worse, according to research out of the University of Washington’s Department of Public Health. Before the state legalized recreational marijuana, black people were 2.5 times more likely than white people to be arrested for a cannabis offense. After legalization, black people are five times more likely to be arrested than white people for marijuana. Similar trends are present in Colorado and Oregon. Leafly
Mass. considers no-interest marijuana loans.
While Massachusetts is home to the first state-wide program aimed at helping those hurt by drug enforcement into the legal cannabis industry, qualifying entrepreneurs have struggled to raise capital to compete with larger cannabis corporations. Now, the state Senate is considering creating a fund to give no-interest loans to social equity and economic empowerment applicants. The amendment would start by putting $1 million in a Cannabis Social Equity Loan Trust Fund, which would then be funded by 10 percent of marijuana tax revenues and private donations. Mass Live Related: Former NBA player Caron Butler is co-producing a documentary about the inequities of the cannabis industry. Forbes
Judge tosses lawsuit over death of CI.
Andrew Sadek, a 20-year-old college student in North Dakota, died in 2014 while working as a confidential informant for narcotics officers. His parents sued the county sheriff’s department over his death, saying that he lost his life due to being coerced into becoming an informant. Sadek was caught selling $80 of marijuana and was “facing charges that carried a maximum sentence of 41 years in prison when he agreed to become a confidential informant for the Southeast Multi-County Agency Drug Task Force in exchange for leniency.” His body was recovered in the Red River with a gunshot wound to his head and a backpack filled with rocks. The Associated Press
Illinois senator deals with cannabis controversy.
Illinois senator Patricia Van Pelt, who co-sponsored legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, is under investigation by the secretary of state for her interests in the cannabis industry. Van Pelt led cannabis investment workshops and also serves as the president of a multilevel marketing company that hopes to obtain licenses to sell marijuana. She also runs a CBD store in Chicago. After her investments in cannabis businesses were made public last week, she removed herself as a co-sponsor of the legalization legislation. The secretary of state’s securities division is investigating her industry ties, and “Secretary of State Jesse White, Van Pelt’s longtime political ally, [won’t] be involved in the probe.” Chicago Sun-Times
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Marijuana money for fighting homelessness.
Clark County, Nevada directed $1.8 million in marijuana revenue towards fighting homelessness on Tuesday. The money will fund 76 additional beds at a homeless youth center, 60 beds for those with medical issues who are discharged from local hospitals, and expand a rapid rehousing public-private partnership. County officials reserved $9.7 million in marijuana revenues towards homeless initiatives in the 2020 budget. Las Vegas Review-Journal
Prosecutors vs. judges.
Local prosecutors in Portsmouth, Va. have been dismissing misdemeanor marijuana cases under what they said was an agreement with judges on how to handle such cases. Now, the city’s judges are saying that they are not going to rubber stamp dismissal requests, and would instead evaluate them on a case-by-case basis. The city’s top prosecutor and public defender are now accusing the judges of backing out of an agreed-upon deal. A similar conflict is happening in nearby Norfolk, where several judges have denied prosecutors’ requests to dismiss marijuana charges. The Virginian-Pilot
Tech and payment platforms consider cannabis.
After three months of deliberations, Facebook has decided to keep its ban on content relating to the sale of marijuana products. However, content concerning CBD sales, “non-advertising content touting the sale of cannabis seeds,” and the sales of pot paraphernalia will continue to be allowed. “Facebook studied three potential changes to its cannabis sales policy,” but “executives and staff determined that because cannabis laws around the world vary widely and are unstable, it would be impossible to roll out a feasible, global policy on pot sales.” MarketWatch Payment processor Square has quietly launched an invite-only beta program for companies that sell CBD. Accessing payment processing has been a struggle for CBD companies due to regulatory confusion over hemp. Forbes
Elsewhere in cannabis business news…
Colorado’s cannabis sales continue to grow, but it looks like the market is starting to stabilize. The industry is now looking to new legislation that could impact cannabis businesses. The Denver Post Cannabis seed-to-sale software BioTrackTHC lost its bid to challenge a contract awarded to competitor Metrc for Missouri’s medical marijuana program. St. Louis Post-Dispatch The CEO of pharmaceutical company Novartis says that cannabis is not a priority, despite its partnership with Canadian cannabis company Tilray. CNBC A CBD mogul revived a mansion in Los Angeles designed by Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright. The New York Times
Aurora and UFC team up on CBD research.
Canadian cannabis producer Aurora and mixed martial arts company UFC have entered a multi-year, multi-million-dollar deal to research CBD. The two companies will conduct research on CBD for “pain management, inflammation, injury/exercise recovery and mental well being” at UFC’s Las Vegas institute. MarketWatch
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Word on the States
- In New York, a look at marijuana reform efforts in the state. An upcoming bill to legalize marijuana includes expungements, which could draw opposition from the governor.
- In Maine, regulators hope to avoid the pitfalls of other state-legal marijuana markets.
- In California, the Senate approved a bill to create cannabis limited charter banks, sending it to the Assembly. Oakland is considering lowering cannabis taxes.
- In Rhode Island, lawmakers are considering a proposal to expand the state’s medical marijuana program.
- In North Dakota, a marijuana legalization group withdrew a petition to rewrite the proposal.
- In Arkansas, medical marijuana patients purchased $353,802 worth of cannabis during the first week of sales.
- In Louisiana, a Senate committee advanced a hemp legalization bill.
- In Ohio, half of adults in the state have tried marijuana.
Word for Word
“There are some celebrities who are synonymous with cannabis, including Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame or rapper Snoop Dogg. With recreational cannabis’ legalization in California, more celebrities — even ones not normally associated with the drug — have entered the industry with their own products.” – Lara McCaffrey for Pacific San Diego