A House subcommittee hearing on cannabis is a step forward for federal reform. Veterans step up to help each other amid VA intransigence on medical marijuana. The price gap between legal and illicit cannabis in Canada is widening. Also: A former sheriff’s deputy in Florida was accused of planting drugs and arresting innocent people. 🌳
A step forward for marijuana reform.
Cannabis advocates and policy experts predicted that 2019 would be a “game-changer” for cannabis legalization efforts. “The reality is that public policy change rarely works that way. Slow and steady tends to be how change like this happens,” said one researcher. Newsweek At a House subcommittee hearing on marijuana policy on Wednesday, nobody came out in clear support of continuing federal prohibition. But there was much disagreement about how Congress should handle the issue, with Democrats focusing on the racial disparities of drug enforcement and Republicans focusing on easing barriers for state-licensed marijuana businesses. Roll Call Witnesses who testified at the hearing, including government officials and public health experts, emphasized the need to repair the harms of drug enforcement. Cannabis Wire
On cannabis bills in Congress.
The U.S. House approved an amendment that would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from denying home loan applications to veterans who work in the state-legal cannabis industry. Forbes U.S. rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that would protect those with minor convictions from losing public housing benefits. The Fair Chance at Housing Act would bar public housing providers from denying applicants if they served less than 10 years for a drug offense, and also would bar them from requiring drug or alcohol testing. Marijuana Moment U.S. rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) introduced a bill to encourage federal research in hemp and develop guidelines for the industry. Marijuana Moment
The VA vs. veterans on medical marijuana.
When Marine Corps Sergeant Brett D’Alessandro returned from Afghanistan, he was prescribed 15 different medications by the VA over three years. He struggled with opioid addiction and eventually decided to give medical marijuana a try. Now he’s hoping to open a dispensary in New Jersey in hopes of helping homeless vets get access to the treatment. But vets who use cannabis or work in the industry risk losing VA benefits. One former Navy SEAL estimated that it would take the agency 18 years to get medical marijuana through the bureaucracy. Meanwhile, veterans are helping each other navigate the process of accessing medical cannabis. The Pacific Standard
Court OKs federal prosecution of MMJ growers.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the federal government can prosecute medical marijuana growers in Washington because they couldn’t show that they complied with state medical marijuana laws. Two men who worked at the cannabis grow were found smoking weed while they trimmed the plants and failed to show that they were “qualifying patients” under state law. Bloomberg Law 🔒
On social justice and cannabis legalization.
The researcher who looked into cannabis equity programs for the Minority Cannabis Business Association explains where Los Angeles’ program went wrong. Some businesses who partnered with equity applicants would participate in the program, with the intention of cutting out the equity applicant once they got the license, explained Chris Nani. One equity applicant agreed to give her stake in the company away after it offered to pay her $100,000 a year to do so, because she should not afford to wait to provide for her family. LA Weekly The pardon advisory board in North Dakota voted unanimously to allow those with minor cannabis convictions to apply for pardons and have their records wiped clean. The governor and attorney general have both come out in support of the change. The Associated Press
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Today in cops behaving badly…
A former sheriff’s deputy in Florida was arrested on Wednesday after a year-long investigation accused him of pulling over drivers for minor violations (like the smell of marijuana), planting drugs in the vehicles, and arresting innocent people on made-up drug charges. Prosecutors had to drop charges in nearly 120 cases related to Zachary Wester’s misconduct — one of his victims lost custody of his daughter as a result of the wrongful arrest. Wester faces a variety of felony and misdemeanor charges. The Associated Press A police officer in Maryland was charged with assault and misconduct after videos surfaced of him using excessive force on a man who was suspected of selling psilocybin mushrooms. The Washington Post
On cannabis science.
A study found that most substance abuse treatment providers support legalizing medical marijuana, but also thought that the substance is often abused. While 70 percent of the medical professionals surveyed thought that using marijuana amounted to “trading one addiction for another,” most also thought that it was OK for a patient with substance abuse disorder to use medical marijuana in treatment. Marijuana Moment What does the science say on marijuana use and fertility? Not much — turns out there’s a lot of conflicting and low-quality evidence. Leafly Researchers at the University of California, Riverside got a grant to study how endocannabinoids might influence obesity. ucr.edu
Today in cannabis business news…
The number of product batches undergoing testing in California’s cannabis labs has fallen in recent months, raising concerns about the supply chain. But some industry insiders say it might just be a seasonal fluctuation. Marijuana Business Daily Some states are having trouble getting their legal cannabis markets off the ground. Here’s a look at how a first-mover advantage helped Colorado sell $1 billion in legal weed. CNBC How a decades-old skincare line shifted its focus to hemp and CBD. Westword Denver-based cannabis cultivator GrowGeneration Corp. has brought on Bob Nardelli as a strategic adviser. Nardelli previously served as the CEO of Home Depot and Chrysler. Marijuana Business Daily Revolution, a Chicago-based cannabis company, has appointed Tony Hunter to its board of directors. Hunter was previously the publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Marijuana Business Daily
Cannabis in Canada.
Statistics Canada’s latest report on cannabis prices found that the price of legal marijuana rose while the price of illicit cannabis fell. The widening price difference — $4.72 a gram on average — means that many consumers are being driven to the underground market. CBC News Ontario’s cannabis retailer said it pulled several CannTrust products after federal regulators found that the cannabis producer used unlicensed facilities. Reuters The Royal Canadian Mounted Police seized nearly 1.2 tons of cannabis during a series of raids on an organized crime unit. Police say the cannabis was destined for Europe. Vancouver Sun
Elsewhere around the world…
Sales of insurance-covered medical marijuana in Germany increased 7 percent in the first quarter of this year. The German medical marijuana market is the largest outside of North America, with sales totaling €24.5 million in the first three months of this year. Marijuana Business Daily A bill that is advancing in the Czech Republic‘s legislature would require medical marijuana to be 90 percent covered by insurance. expats.cz The prime minister of Thailand cautioned patients from becoming dependent on marijuana as medicine. The Nation Thailand
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Word on the States
- In California, unlicensed cannabis growers are trying to block law enforcement raids.
- In Nevada, testimony in a cannabis licensing case turns to application wording.
- In New Mexico, the marijuana task force will use a stalled legalization bill as a template.
- In Minnesota, a new political committee will try to make an economic case for marijuana legalization.
- In Arizona, the medical marijuana industry is gearing up for a recreational legalization ballot initiative. The police board said that police can use CBD products.
- In Ohio, the medical marijuana board will consider adding anxiety and autism to the list of qualifying conditions.
- In North Dakota, the state’s third medical marijuana dispensary is slated to open tomorrow.
- In Maine, Windham’s city council says its marijuana task force is still in place.
- In Arkansas, the state’s 6th medical marijuana dispensary is set to open by this weekend.
- In Pennsylvania, the lieutenant governor’s marijuana report is expected by the end of the month.
- In Guam, the customs agency seized CBD products to ensure FDA compliance.
Word for Word
“New York, the state with the America’s most populous and one of its most visited cities, did not legalize marijuana this year. For a consolation prize, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers did pass what might look like the next-best thing: decriminalization. As soon as Cuomo signs the bill into law, possession of up to two ounces of cannabis flower will be a ‘violation,’ punishable by a fine of ‘no more than $200.’ Someone caught with less than an ounce can be punished no more severely than with a $50 fine, but an ounce of flower, only. For anyone possessing cannabis concentrates — including, strictly legally speaking, the contents of vape pens — the same old bad laws are still in effect.” – Chris Roberts for Cannabis Now
“Last spring, I was on a jury that found 37-year-old Frederick Turner guilty of dealing drugs. It wasn’t easy to arrive at this verdict, and the result of our deliberations gave us no pleasure. A few months later, I found out the result of our verdict was worse than I expected: Turner, a meth addict with no prior criminal convictions, received a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years on two counts of having a firearm while dealing drugs. I was astonished; we had no idea that we were sending someone to prison for four decades… Turner lasted less than a year in that prison. On June 13, he was found dead in his cell at the U.S. penitentiary in Florence, Colo., a notoriously dangerous prison. The circumstances of his death are not clear… If I could go back in time, and if I knew Turner faced 40 years, I would nullify. The sentence he received was simply unjust.” – Paul St. Louis for The Washington Post