Funding falls short for social equity in both Massachusetts and L.A. New Jersey’s Senate president rejects a decriminalization proposal. A look behind the controversy that led the Open Cannabis Project to shut down. Also: Idaho lawmakers team up to advocate for hemp transporters being charged with drug trafficking. 🌳
Social equity funding takes a hit.
The Massachusetts Senate rejected an amendment that would help fund social equity and economic empowerment applicants in the state’s marijuana industry. None of the 19 licensed cannabis dispensaries in the state involve such applicants. “I recognize it’s an idea that needs more build-out — it needs more vetting,” said the state senator who sponsored the proposal. The Boston Globe The proposed budget for the city of Los Angeles puts “plenty of funding for law enforcement… and not so much money for social equity programs.” Law enforcement would get $10 million to crack down on unlicensed cannabis businesses, and the Department of Cannabis Regulation would get $3 million to implement its social equity program. The city’s top cannabis regulator said the sum is not enough and called for an additional $2.25 million to help qualifying applicants with technical assistance. Cannabis Wire
Parents of slain informant to appeal.
The parents of a college student in North Dakota who lost his life while working as a confidential informant for police will appeal the dismissal of their wrongful death lawsuit. They allege that their son Andrew Sadek was killed as a result of being coerced into becoming an informant. The Associated Press The appeal would go to the North Dakota Supreme Court. If the Sadeks win, the case would go back to the county district court for trial. Sadek was caught selling 3.3 grams worth of marijuana. A narcotics officer told him he could face 40 years in prison for the offense, but he could receive leniency if he became an informant himself. Jamestown Sun
N.J. Senate president rejects decriminalization.
New Jersey Senate president Stephen Sweeney described a measure to decriminalize marijuana as “problematic.” He thinks that the decriminalization proposal would strengthen the illicit market and believes that the state attorney general can address marijuana penalties instead of the legislature. Asbury Park Press State senator Ronald Rice, a notable opponent to legalization efforts, “said it’s wrong that Sweeney was for social justice when marijuana legalization was on the table but won’t consider helping people who are being arrested for pot possession now that legalization has died in the Legislature.” nj.com
“How the weed business went from down home to cutthroat.”
The story behind the closure of the Open Cannabis Project reveals how a betrayal has affected Oregon’s cannabis industry. A video of Phylos CEO Mowgli Holmes pitching investors on its own breeding program angered cannabis growers who had shared their genetics with the company on the understanding that it would not compete with them. “Not only did the company sacrifice all of its goodwill among small, craft growers, but it took down a nonprofit, cost at least one grow operation $50,000, ended friendships—and may soon result in lawsuits.” Phylos, for its part, will probably do just fine — it has raised more than $14 million from venture capitalists. Willamette Week
Cannabis in Congress.
A House committee advanced an immigration bill that would protect some undocumented immigrants from getting their permanent resident applications rejected over minor marijuana offenses or involvement in state-legal marijuana markets. Marijuana Moment U.S. rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) “appeared to convince… Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to agree that his department’s drug and crime policies should be reformed.” Mother Jones Related: The Veterans Cannabis Project is partnering with Harley-Davidson to highlight medical marijuana advocacy for veterans during “what’s being promoted as the final Memorial Day ride for Rolling Thunder.” Stars and Stripes
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Lawmakers advocate for hemp transporters.
A bipartisan group of three Idaho state reps. have delivered 13,000 petition signatures to a county prosecutor who is currently pursuing drug trafficking charges against three men who were arrested while transporting hemp. Despite that the federal government removed hemp from the Controlled Substance Act, it remains on Idaho’s controlled substances list. Boise State Public Radio The Ada County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Idaho State Police issued a statement defending the arrests and prosecution. “Those of us who enforce Idaho’s laws are bound by the laws which currently exist, not those which may exist at some future date,” it read. Idaho Press
An unlikely victory for cannabis activists in Texas.
The Texas Senate unanimously approved a bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis oil program. “The bill now heads back to the Texas House, where lawmakers can either approve the Senate changes or opt to iron out their differences in a conference committee before lawmakers adjourn in five days.” The legislation would expand the list of qualifying conditions and eliminate an onerous requirement for patients. The bill would keep the state’s current 0.5 percent THC cap. Texas Tribune There’s no indication that Texas governor Greg Abbott would sign the bill. “But if the cannabis-averse governor does OK the law, it could be a watershed moment for cannabis in Texas.” Cannabis Wire
Elsewhere in cannabis business news…
Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth has acquired British beauty brand This Works for £43 million, in hopes of launching CBD skincare products. The Guardian
Hemp companies are joining forces to call out Facebook and Instagram for preventing them from advertising on the platforms. “We can put a billboard up in Times Square, but we can’t pay for a boost on Facebook,” said the executive director of the Hemp Industries Association. Westword “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won praise from activists when she decried a white-dominated legal cannabis industry. As if to prove her point, the man she ousted in her 2018 Congressional run, Joe Crowley, is now joining an investment firm linked to the cannabis industry.” Cannabis Now
Elsewhere around the world…
The top health agency of Canada will “launch public consultations on a proposed approach for regulating natural health products containing cannabis.” Hemp Industry Daily The country is also dedicating $24.5 million in federal funds towards cannabis research. CBC News The health minister of Denmark called for streamlined medical marijuana regulations across Europe. Marijuana Business Daily
On other drugs.
Preliminary research shows that MDMA holds promise in treating everything from PTSD to autism. Can the drug transform mainstream psychiatry? And what about its accessibility for others? MAPS director Rick Doblin, whose nonprofit has funded MDMA trials, “envisions a day when MDMA will be available far beyond the clinic for everything from couples therapy to personal growth.” Other researchers aren’t so sure. The Verge Where do researchers get illicit drugs to study? NIDA’s “extensive catalog.” Discover
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Word on the States
- In Maine, Augusta councilors consider medical marijuana rules.
- In West Virginia, lawmakers passed a bill to allow vertical integration in the medical marijuana industry during a special session.
- In Nebraska, a hemp bill moves forward.
- In Michigan, the House adopted a resolution that urges Congress to pass marijuana banking reform.
- In Massachusetts, Newton’s first adult-use dispensary opens on Saturday.
- In Ohio, a look at efforts in Cincinnati to decriminalize cannabis.
Word for Word
“For people who represent an industry based on an extremely mellow product, the marketing masses behind the cannabis business seem to be racing on steroids. Here in the newsroom, every day it’s another dozen pot-focused news releases. The latest hemp derivative will cure your aching back. Another mega-merger is taking place between a cannabidiol outfit and the guys over at Joints R Us. Some new technology out of Colorado called auto-buddering will change the world. It’s pitches on bongs and buds and bubblers and blunts. And it’s all coming in way too fast.” – Patrick May, The Mercury News
“My many attempts at abstinence—through inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, NA, AA, going traveling to avoid my dealer, replacing heroin with ballet or painting—ended in relapse. The medications worked better, but none fully replaced what heroin gave me, and the side effects often prevented me from getting anything done. It was when I began reading about harm reduction that an alternative idea began to form. What if, despite the stigma against heroin and the negatives it brought to my life, abandoning this drug didn’t have to be my goal? Could I instead use heroin in a way that was sustainable for me—one that maximized benefits while minimizing risks and harms?… Remember that “heroin-assisted treatment,” through which healthcare providers give patients regular doses of pharmaceutical-grade heroin, is available in a number of countries around the world, with excellent health outcomes.” – M.L. Lanzillotta for Filter