Cannabis reform efforts advance in Congress. Looking at cannabis equity in a different way. Marijuana expungements will be difficult to implement in New York. Also, meet the teetotaling man trying to commercialize psychedelics. 🌳
Cannabis in the federal government.
Marijuana reform efforts have long been stalled at the federal level. But with three cannabis-related provisions in two House-passed appropriations packages, it looks like reforms at the state level are finally having an impact on Congress. Cato Three new bills in Congress would help small marijuana businesses access federal economic resources. Marijuana Moment Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged acting FDA commissioner Ned Sharpless to develop hemp and CBD regulations. Marijuana Moment Related: “There’s no doubt that the FDA is going to be fairly strict in the way it regulates these products,” said one researcher. Medium / Elemental
Alternatives to equity programs.
Cannabis equity programs aim to help marginalized communities reap some of the financial rewards of the booming cannabis industry. But this vision assumes that federal legalization will lead to “huge sums of legally generated revenue from selling marijuana.” But if marijuana-legal states are any indication, prices plummet after legalization, and reserving licenses for equity applicants might not do much to help those very individuals. Instead, the government could use the funds from legal weed in ways that are more beneficial to communities hurt by drug enforcement, including investing in job programs and public schools in those areas. “The equity question around marijuana shouldn’t be how we fairly decide which small groups of private individuals get rich off legal marijuana, but how we ensure no one gets rich.” The American Prospect
Colorado’s legal weed experiment.
Colorado was one of the first states to legalize adult-use marijuana. Five years on, the policy has “reshaped health, politics, rural culture and criminal justice in surprising ways that often defy both the worst warnings of critics and blue-sky rhetoric of the marijuana industry.” Black people are still disproportionately arrested on marijuana charges, and health professionals are worried about the public health implications. At the same time, thousands of residents safely use marijuana whether they are simply relaxing or soothing achy feet. The New York Times
Expungements in New York.
After an effort to legalize marijuana failed, lawmakers voted to decriminalize marijuana and expunge low-level pot convictions. But the new law will be challenging for the court system to implement, as the state currently does not have a process for expunging criminal records. A spokesperson for a city agency said the undertaking would require a “very involved legal process.” Meanwhile, the new policy will have a different impact on margianlized groups like immigrants and those who live in public housing. WOTT / THE CITY
Elsewhere in criminal justice…
In 2008, Fayetteville, Ark. enacted an ordinance to make marijuana arrests a lower priority for police. But a non-profit law firm says that, since then, marijuana arrests have actually increased by 284 percent in the past 10 years. KFSM A man in Flagstaff, Ariz. is considering a lawsuit after being wrongly arrested on suspicion of selling LSD. Police said it was a case of mistaken identity. The Associated Press A Florida woman with a drug felony conviction writes about what it was like to register to vote after the state approved a ballot measure to restore voting rights to former felons. But then, lawmakers passed a bill requiring people to pay their court debts to be able to vote. “When it takes effect on Monday, I will be erased from the voter rolls.” The Washington Post
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Challenges to marijuana reform in Ohio.
Efforts to put marijuana legalization on the ballot are fizzling out, in part thanks to a 2015 effort that fractured the marijuana movement in the state. The 2015 ballot initiative, funded by wealthy individuals, would have guaranteed a select few donors cannabis business licenses. One legalization advocate said that the movement has never fully recovered as activists “developed a deep mistrust for one another, fueled by suspicions about whether they are motivated for profit or an open system that welcomes small business and includes elements of social justice.” Another longtime cannabis activist in the state said “that moneyed interests, who have remained mostly anonymous, have destroyed the grassroots movement.” Cannabis Wire
Tech co’s and cannabis.
Facebook is relaxing its ban on advertising CBD and hemp products. The social platform will allow ads for non-ingestible hemp and CBD products like topical creams. Ads are also allowed to direct users to landing pages that feature ingestible hemp products, but cannot feature the products in the ads themselves. Digiday Eaze removed in-app purchases after Google instituted a new policy for its Play Store, prohibiting apps that sell or facilitate the sale of marijuana. Now that Eaze’s app directs users to its website to make actual purchases, “the app is now little more than a product gallery.” Android Police
Today in cannabis business news…
Raising VC money for “vice” products can be difficult. A former Walmart exec is leading Vice Ventures, a fund dedicated to investing in sectors like cannabis, psychedelics, and tobacco. Axios Surterra Wellness, an Atlanta-based cannabis company led by a Wrigley chewing gum heir, raised $100 million to fuel its expansion in the U.S. and across the world. One of the investors was Edward Brown, the former CEO and president of Patrón Spirits Company. CNN Smiths Falls, Canada, is now a world leader in growing weed. That’s thanks to Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth taking over an abandoned chocolate factory. The Guardian
Cannabis in Australia.
Lou Haslam, a former narcotics cop, used to bust people for pot. But he saw the impact of cannabis when it helped his cancer-stricken son. Haslam knew his family’s story would be powerful in the cannabis legalization debate — and it was. But after the country legalized medical cannabis, the Haslams have renewed their campaigning, arguing the law is ineffective and few patients are able to access the drug. BBC
Meet the man trying to commercialize psychedelics.
Christian Angermayer has a net worth of $400 million and never so much as drank a sip of alcohol. But then, he had his first psychedelic trip, which he described as the “single most meaningful thing I’ve ever done or experienced in my life.” Now, he’s trying to commercialize psychedelics. “Psychedelics and mental health therapeutics make up about 15% of his current holdings, and he expects that figure to grow. He last year launched a company, ATAI Life Sciences, which owns about a quarter of the psilocybin-producing Compass Pathways, along with another startup that’s developing a depression drug that’s similar to ketamine.” Stat News
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Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, hemp growers are alarmed by rules against CBD in food products. Lawmakers filed a bill that would reverse those rules. Regulators gave preliminary approval to rules that would permit marijuana cafes and delivery services.
- In California, today is the deadline for the state Justice Department to review marijuana convictions eligible for expungement.
- In Delaware, lawmakers passed a cannabis decriminalization bill for juveniles.
- In Pennsylvania, the state began automatically sealing old criminal records under its Clean Slate law.
- In Illinois, some advocates and lawmakers are speaking out against the possibility of cannabis consumption lounges.
- In Arizona, backers of a ballot measure to legalize marijuana are taking their time to sort out the details.
- In New Mexico, the governor is forming a working group on marijuana legalization.
- In Ohio, the rolling out of medical marijuana dispensaries is falling further behind schedule.
- In Wisconsin, the GOP Assembly speaker wants to consider medical marijuana legalization.
- In Iowa, the governor reiterated her opposition to marijuana legalization.
- In Missouri, the state raked in nearly $3.9 million in medical marijuana application fees.
- In Florida, the governor signed a bill to reschedule Epidiolex. South Miami passed a resolution to support marijuana legalization. Two former Miami police officers were found guilty of protecting drug dealers.
- In New York, the NYC health department is expanding a campaign about fentanyl-tainted cocaine.
- In Michigan, New Baltimore approved a medical marijuana ordinance .
- In Montana, the state has more than 34,400 medical marijuana cardholders.
- In Texas, police in Bexar County will have the option to cite (rather than arrest) people for possessing marijuana.
- In North Carolina, the House is expediting a proposed ban on smokable hemp.
Word for Word
“My dad was a police officer. I grew up shooting guns and going rafting and skiing with all the police officers—I grew up around that… When I really started smoking [weed], I still thought I was going to be a police officer. I really respected my dad—he’s a solid guy with a great reputation. I would have been a shoo-in to be a Sacramento County sheriff. That was where I was going with it. But my dad basically stopped me. He said, ‘It’s a really hard life, and you deal with a lot of hard issues. If you can do anything else, go do something else.’ This was after he was a police officer for over 10 years. So, here I am. He had no idea what I did until about two years ago. I kept it from him the whole time.” – Cannabis cultivator Mario Guzman aka Mr. Sherbinski, Gossamer
“A legacy of aggressive law enforcement tactics in black neighborhoods means that real-world policing leads to ‘false positives’ in real life—arrests of people who turn out to be innocent of any crime—as well as convictions that wouldn’t have occurred in white neighborhoods. And because risk assessments rely so heavily on prior arrests and convictions, they will inevitably flag black people as risky who are not. As far as the data is concerned, critics of these tools argue, it’s racism in, racism out.” – Beth Schwartzapfel for The Marshall Project