A new group is pushing the Trump administration to commute the sentences of those with marijuana convictions. The USDA said that states won’t be allowed to prohibit hemp transportation within their borders once final regulations are released. Demand for CBD is stressing out doctors. Also, a California marijuana grower is suing another grower with RICO laws. 🌳
Pushing to let people out of prison for pot.
The Weldon Project, a new group advocating for cannabis conviction reform, is pushing the Trump administration to commute the sentences of those with marijuana convictions. The group was started by Weldon Angelos, who was given a 55-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for selling about $300 worth of marijuana to a police informant. He got his sentence reduced and was eventually released after serving 12 years. “When I got out, I left a lot of people behind,” said Angelos. “It’s hypocritical there’s companies out there making millions and billions and the federal government’s allowing this, but you’re keeping select individuals in prison for doing the same thing.” Fox 13
Democratic candidates talk drug war during debate.
Candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination addressed a wide range of issues during the first debate, with some advocating for drug policy and criminal justice reform. While the candidates were not directly asked about marijuana, Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) criticized the criminalization of marijuana and drug addiction. Marijuana Moment Booker was disappointed that marijuana legalization wasn’t discussed during the debate. “I am absolutely disappointed that wasn’t an issue when you see voters turning out this issue all over the country,” he said. Business Insider Related: About 62 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization. Pew Research Center / Fact Tank
On federal hemp regulations…
In its latest update, the U.S. Department of Agriculture expressed hope that final hemp regulations would be published in time for the 2020 growing season. While there have been several instances of local law enforcement arresting and charging hemp transporters after Congress legalized hemp, the USDA “states and Indian tribes cannot prohibit people or companies from transporting lawfully produced hemp across their borders” once the final regulations are released. Hemp breeders can also now apply for plant variety protection. Cannabis Wire Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said it was “unacceptable” that the FDA may take three to five years to issue final CBD regulations for food and beverages. Marijuana Moment The American Bankers Association is asking for clarity on servicing hemp businesses, too. Marijuana Moment
Expungement, reparations in Illinois.
The state’s new marijuana legalization law will make nearly 800,000 people eligible to get their past cannabis convictions expunged from their records. Law enforcement have six months to find records related to small possession arrests and destroy them. The Associated Press Illinois may be the 11th state to legalize weed, but it’s the first to introduce what it calls the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew Program. “What we are doing here is about reparations,” said state rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D). 25 percent of marijuana tax revenue will go into the community reinvestment initiative. Think Progress Related: Massachusetts is home to the first state-wide cannabis equity program, though policy makers say the program is hampered by a lack of access to capital. Telegram & Gazette
Prospective medical marijuana growers in Missouri are still waiting for regulatory approval from the state. But the law doesn’t say anything about how licensed growers should obtain their seeds — “it’s a felony to obtain young marijuana plants or seeds already in Missouri, or to get them from one of the 32 other states with legal marijuana.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch New Jersey’s medical marijuana expansion will allow out-of-state patients to possess marijuana. But unless they have a recommendation from a New Jersey doctor, they’ll have to either buy it from the black market to bring it from out of state. Asbury Park Press
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Police-turned cannabis entrepreneurs get seized cash back.
Rick Barry and Brian Clemann used to be California Highway Patrol officers, before they decided to get into the weed business with a cannabis delivery company called Wild Rivers Transport. They saw $257,733 of cash seized during a traffic stop last year, and got the money back after suing to contest their arrest. The state had turned the cash over to a federal agency in hopes of putting the money out of reach. But “federal prosecutors did not file forfeiture proceedings, which obligated the customs agency to return the money.” Sacramento Bee
CBD is stressing out doctors.
Tons of patients are asking their doctors about CBD. But with a lack of regulations and science, the popularity of the cannabinoid is creating problems for medical professionals. “Should they encourage a treatment that may not work but also may not hurt their patients, if it gives them hope? Or should they reject any treatment out of hand that hasn’t been proven effective?” For those that give their patients the go-ahead to try CBD, there’s a slew of other questions: How to dose it? Where to buy a safe product in an unregulated market? How should the doctor even monitor a patient’s progress? Here’s how some physicians are navigating the new landscape. Stat
Today in cannabis business news…
A California cannabis grower is using RICO laws to sue another grower in “what may be a potential first for the marijuana industry.” RICO lawsuits have so far been used by opponents of legal marijuana in an effort to shut down cannabis businesses. Marijuana Business Daily In about five months, outside investors will be allowed into Colorado’s cannabis industry. Regulators and businesses are getting ready for the influx of investment. Westword Rapper Wiz Khalifa is partnering with Supreme Cannabis to release his cannabis products in Canada. Complex Struggling dairy farmers are turning to hemp. But transitioning is turning out to be more difficult than it seems. Civil Eats
Elsewhere around the world…
The Minister of Health for Ireland has signed legislation to allow a medical cannabis pilot program. Cannabis products aren’t available in the country yet and the program is set to last for five years. Irish Times Canadian cannabis company Tilray has imported its first shipment of cannabis products into the U.K. after restrictions were lifted. Bloomberg France is preparing to launch a medical cannabis program, as advocates and patients gathered for a final committee meeting. The country is looking towards its neighbors as it moves towards implementing a trial program. Cannabis Wire “Cannabis light” — low-THC cannabis products — has prompted a flourishing industry in Italy after a new law meant to promote industrial hemp cultivation. But a recent court ruling has created confusion “by ruling it was illegal to market hemp-derived products that weren’t ‘in practice devoid’ of the power to provide a perceptible high.” The Associated Press
On international drug policy…
A report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy found that illegal drug classifications are based on politics and not science. The report urged that drugs should be reclassified based on a scientific assessment of their harms. The commission, which includes over a dozen former heads of state, looked into “how ‘biased’ historical classification of substances, with its emphasis on prohibition, has contributed to the world drug problem.” The Guardian The 2019 World Drug Report found that almost 200 million people across the world smoke marijuana, and that use rose 60 percent over the past decade. Deutsche Welle An EU agency is concerned about the “increasingly diverse and potent array of cannabis products in the region.” Cannabis Wire Marijuana reform is spreading across South America amid changing views of the substance. US News
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Word on the States
- In Illinois, where marijuana is and isn’t allowed after legalization. Chicago Public Schools is looking to rewrite portions of marijuana bylaws.
- In Washington, regulators reversed course and will allow cannabis retailers to post signs with the names of their businesses at a hemp festival.
- In New Jersey, what’s next for marijuana reform in the state.
- In Iowa, what legalization in Illinois means means for the state.
- In Arizona, an audit of the medical marijuana program found several inconsistencies with how the health department manages it. A look at the chances of marijuana legalization in 2020.
- In Oklahoma, nearly 140,000 patients have signed up for the medical marijuana program.
- In Delaware, the General Assembly is considering two last-minute medical marijuana bills.
- In New Hampshire, the governor vetoed a bill to allow for-profit cannabis firms.
- In New Mexico, Albuquerque police have issued zero citations since the city decriminalized marijuana.
- In West Virginia, the medical cannabis program won’t be ready by its July 1 start date.
- In Missouri, broadcasters follow federal law on medical marijuana advertising.
Word for Word
“The Queens [district attorney] race may seem like a small local news story. But it’s not — Queens has more people than 15 states and Washington, DC, so the race is a huge deal to a lot of people. And this is the kind of story that really matters for criminal justice reform, because district attorneys and other prosecutors hold tremendous power over the systems that oversee all incarceration in the US.” – German Lopez for Vox
“The fungus Massospora can’t live outside of cicadas. Scientists have finally found what it’s doing: taking over cicadas’ bodies and sending them on a sex-crazed rampage… Researchers from West Virginia University analyzed infected cicadas from the wild, pinpointing two compounds that they believe are responsible for the takeover: cathinone, an amphetamine normally found in plants, and psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms… The discovery could provide a pathway to developing new drugs for humans.” – Madeleine Gregory for Vice