Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand said marijuana legalization would be a “top priority” for her as president. Why cannabis equity programs aren’t working as intended. A Congressional report questioned whether marijuana even impairs driving. Also: How psychedelics are the next battle in the fight to end the war on drugs. 🌳
Gillibrand unveils marijuana proposal.
Senator and presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) unveiled her plan to legalize marijuana in a Medium post detailing her policy proposals. Legalization “will be a top priority of my presidency,” she wrote. Her plan includes: descheduling marijuana, expunging past cannabis convictions, and directing marijuana tax revenues towards communities harmed by drug enforcement. Medium “With this plan, we can begin to dismantle the institutional racism in our criminal justice system, open up important new medical and economic horizons, and lift up communities who need and deserve a fair shot at opportunity,” she said. The Hill Related: A group of 12 U.S. state governors are urging Congressional leaders to advance the STATES Act, which would provide protections to states that have reformed their marijuana laws. Marijuana Business Daily
The pitfalls of equity programs.
Social equity programs are well-intentioned attempts by governments to right the wrongs of the drug war. I took a closer look at Oakland’s pioneering cannabis social equity program and found that large corporations are in better position to take advantage of such programs — sometimes at the expense of small, minority-owned businesses. It sounds great in theory to incentivize large cannabis companies to put resources towards social equity businesses. But whether that is working out in practice is another matter: “The story is rich white corporations are better at running the game than small minority businesses,” explained one cannabis attorney. The Outline
The way big companies get around license caps.
When Pennsylvania set up its medical marijuana program, it instituted license caps to make sure no company dominates the market. But multi-state cannabis companies are finding creative ways to skirt these limits. Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation recently boasted to investors that it controls seven medical marijuana permits (two more than is allowed under state rules) through something called a management service agreement. “Pennsylvania lawmakers said they didn’t anticipate the era of publicly traded cannabis companies when the state passed a medical marijuana law in 2016. They certainly weren’t prepared for creative arrangements that well-financed marijuana companies are using to control more permits than the law intended.” The Philadelphia Inquirer
Illinois gears up for legal weed.
Illinois’ governor still needs to sign the marijuana legalization bill, but medical marijuana companies are already getting ready for the adult-use market. They’re staffing up, streamlining their processes, and also renovating their spaces to accommodate more customers. Sales could start as early as January 1. The Chicago Tribune About 770,000 people are eligible to get past cannabis convictions expunged from their records. The expungement provisions were a point of contention during a legalization debate, with some lawmakers still raising concerns about “dealers” getting their records cleared. ABC News Related: Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) referred to his state legalizing marijuana during a Senate committee hearing and described Illinois’ medical marijuana program as “almost a laughing matter.” Marijuana Moment
What the Farm Bill wrought.
Pre-rolled industrial hemp joints and smokable hemp flower were probably not what Congress had in mind when it moved to legalize hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. “In New York, where medical cannabis products are permitted but not in smokable form, hemp buds can be found throughout the city’s bodegas, in addition to a full ‘CBD dispensary’ on St. Marks Place.” The lack of regulations has resulted in a confusing space for consumers, retailers, and law enforcement. Police have no way of telling the difference between hemp and marijuana flowers without sending a sample to a lab. Cannabis Wire
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Does marijuana even impair driving?
Concerns over marijuana-impaired driving are often discussed in local and state legalization debates. But a new report out of the Congressional Research Service found that evidence that marijuana impairs driving is inconclusive. “What’s striking about the report from Congress’s official research arm is that it repeatedly states it’s not clear that cannabis consumption is associated with an increased risk of traffic accidents. In general, the issue has been treated as something of a given in congressional hearings, with some lawmakers arguing that loosening federal cannabis laws would lead to a spike in traffic deaths.” Marijuana Moment
Today in cannabis business news…
Consumers are vulnerable to scams in the fast-growing, unregulated CBD industry. Here’s a look at how a former competitive bodybuilder tried to use Montel Williams’ fame to sell products purporting to contain CBD. Lab tests found that the products contained zero CBD. Leafly Sales of marijuana in 2018 reached $8.6 billion-$10 billion, surpassing “spending on e-cigarettes, the Fortnite video game and Goldfish crackers combined.” Marijuana Business Daily
Cannabis in Canada.
The CEO of one of Canada’s largest cannabis companies is backtracking on his comments suggesting that marijuana from the illicit market could be tainted with fentanyl. Vice The Canadian government will start allowing cannabis edibles and concentrates to its adult-use market by October 17. But Health Canada hasn’t released any regulations on the products, and a spokesperson for the agency declined to comment when they would be released. The uncertainty is hampering cannabis producers’ efforts to prepare for the expanded market. Bloomberg Residents in Gatineau, Quebec, are complaining about the strong cannabis odor from a production plant. “I’m mad because it’s not supposed to smell. That’s what they [Hexo] told us,” said one resident. CBC News Sir Sam’s Inn and Spa is the first resort in Ontario to officially allow its guests to consume marijuana on site. Merry Jane
Elsewhere around the world…
California used to be home to many cut flower farms, before those businesses headed South. Colombia is now one of the world’s largest exporters of cut flowers. Could the country do the same with marijuana? Barron’s The self-proclaimed “world’s first” CBD hotel has opened its doors in Essex, England. Shampoo, conditioner, coffee, and other products at the hotel are infused with cannabis oil. The founder of the business, Tim Acton, was part of the team of divers that rescued the young soccer players from a Thailand cave last year. The Independent
The War on Drugs next battle is psychedelics.
“You combine cannabis with capitalism, in which cannabis is now just a consumer product, and it’s now just all about the money,” explained one cannabis attorney. Now, some advocates are concerned that psychedelics are going the same way. Campaigns seeking to reform laws around such substances are gaining ground in the U.S. — mirroring the marijuana movement. Now that cannabis is becoming more mainstream and acceptable, “it’s only a matter of time before psychedelics go the same way. But do we want them to?” Quartz Related: Oakland has become the second U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. The Associated Press
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Word on the States
- In Oregon, the legislature approved a marijuana expungement bill, sending it to the governor.
- In Washington D.C., a bill to protect city employees who are medical marijuana patients was delayed over concerns about safety-sensitive positions.
- In Nevada, the mayor of Las Vegas supports marijuana consumption lounges, even though she recused herself from voting on the issue.
- In Delaware, a marijuana legalization bill is getting its first committee hearing today.
- In Virginia, Norfolk’s top prosecutor is asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider dismissing minor marijuana cases.
- In Connecticut, the state Board of Physicians recommended adding five more conditions to the medical marijuana program.
- In Ohio, a look at cannabis testing labs in the state’s MMJ program.
- In Wisconsin, authorities filed marijuana distribution charges against the leaders of a Rasta church.
- In Utah, police will have to jump through hoops to use medical cannabis.
- In Tennessee, pro-MMJ lawmakers strategize for how to advance the bill in 2020. The state relaxed hemp farming rules.
- In Missouri, Rolla considers decriminalizing marijuana possession.
- In New York, two former Knicks players are pushing for legalization.
- In Florida, Marco Island is moving to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.
- In Washington, why cannabis cafes aren’t coming anytime soon.
- In Arizona, a look inside a cannabis dispensary’s kitchen.
- In Alabama, five universities were awarded state licenses to grow and study hemp.
Word for Word
“[In the race for San Francisco district attorney, Kamala] Harris campaigned on promises to avoid seeking capital punishment, reform the use of enhanced sentencing, rely on treatment and diversion programs (rather than prison terms) for nonviolent drug offenders, and generally take a holistic approach to crime… But once in office, Harris would revise, if not completely reverse, many of her previously stated principles… In the three weeks since she had taken over, D.A. reviews of drug arrest cases had jumped 25 percent. By 2005, Harris was also turning against the city’s decade-old Drug Court.” – Elizabeth Nolan Brown for Reason
“Members of the bipartisan group that pushed for the new law are eager to celebrate the early releases, but they also are concerned that the inmates aren’t adequately prepared to land jobs, find housing or obtain transportation from prison to the places they will now live. Much of that help was supposed to come through programs within the First Step Act, but Congress has not yet funded the five-month-old law, and the Department of Justice has so far failed to allocate significant funding from its budget for it. Much is at stake if the prisoners fail on the outside.” – Justin George for The Marshall Project