Democratic presidential candidates debated marijuana and criminal justice on Wednesday. The U.S. Coast Guard ordered its servicemembers not to enter any sort of marijuana business. Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth is increasingly lobbying in the U.S. Also: New U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson hired a longtime cannabis legalization advocate as a top policy adviser. 🌳
The Democratic debates.
U.S. rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) criticized senator Kamala Harris’ (D-Calif.) record as a prosecutor during the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday. “[Harris] put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” said Gabbard. The New York Times Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) took on former vice president Joe Biden on the issue too. “The house was set on fire and you claimed responsibility for those [tough-on-crime] laws. And you can’t just now come out with a plan to put out that fire,” said Booker. “We have got to have far more bold action on criminal justice reform, like having true marijuana justice.” The New York Times “While drug policy reform was strongly featured at Wednesday’s event, it received little attention during an earlier debate on Tuesday.” Marijuana Moment
Coast Guard says no to weed.
The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard issued an order on Tuesday banning servicemembers from entering any sort of marijuana business, including state-licensed dispensaries. The order also bars them from using cannabis delivery apps. Failure to obey the order could result in “a maximum punishment of two years confinement, total forfeiture of pay and allowances, reduction to E-1 and a dishonorable discharge.” The new general order came as a recognition of shifting social norms surrounding cannabis use. “We want to be clear to the work force in providing our expectation that consumption of marijuana is still prohibited,” said commander Matt Rooney. military.com
Canopy Growth expands U.S. lobbying efforts.
Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth, which is in the process of acquiring U.S. multi-state operator Acreage, has been expanding its U.S. lobbying efforts on the federal and state levels. Canopy hired Philadelphia-based Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies to lobby on behalf of the company in Pennsylvania and Illinois. Cozen is also lobbying for the company in New York, where Canopy recently unveiled its industrial park. The company’s president said that it is “open” to expanding into the adult-use marijuana market pending federal legalization. Cannabis Wire
Police insist that shipment was marijuana and not hemp.
Kansas law enforcement seized more than 300 pounds of what they say was marijuana during a drug bust in 2017. The cargo was on the back of a FedEx truck and came with paperwork from Colorado affirming that it was hemp and not marijuana. But police said that the shipment had “an extremely strong odor of marijuana.” And two years after the seizure, county prosecutors charged the farmers with several drug-related felonies. Now, the products are in a bureaucratic testing limbo, and Kansas authorities still don’t seem to know whether the shipment was indeed hemp. HuffPost
An uptick in marijuana bills in Congress.
“Congress has never moved this far, this fast on marijuana policy, period,” said the political director of marijuana advocacy group NORML. Lawmakers have held seven hearings on cannabis-related legislation, and the House has advanced some modest marijuana reforms. The number of cannabis bills and the legislative leaders behind them “signal how seriously cannabis reform is now being taken on Capitol Hill.” Forbes Case in point: Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced a bill to move marijuana to Schedule III and direct federal agencies to research the substance. Marijuana Moment
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Utah’s cannabis complications.
Utah’s plan for the state to distribute medical marijuana is facing growing criticisms from the cannabis industry and law enforcement. Several county attorneys are pressuring lawmakers to scrap the plan, arguing that it effectively makes government employees drug dealers by forcing them to handle a Schedule I substance. Six companies have appealed after losing out on a cultivation license, and the state dismissed all six appeals on Wednesday. The Associated Press Utah governor Gary Herbert urged counties to implement the new medical cannabis law “in a manner that is consistent with the timeline prescribed in the Utah Medical Cannabis Act,” he said. “Any suggestion that the current law would require county employees to be ‘drug dealers’ is unprofessional and inappropriate.” KUTV
What the studies say…
New research found that an antioxidant found in soybeans has potential in protecting the cardiovascular system from cannabis-related damage. Some studies have shown a correlation between marijuana use and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Cardiovascular Business Denver has the country’s 12th worst air quality based on ozone pollution. Scientists are wondering whether VOCs released from indoor cannabis grow operations are increasing the city’s smog, and Colorado is funding the research to find out. Leafly
Today in cannabis business news…
Thanks to its investment in marijuana-related businesses, Scotts Miracle-Gro shares have soared to a new record of $112.33. Its cannabis-focused subsidiary Hawthorne has seen a boost in sales thanks to marijuana reform in several states opening up new markets. Bloomberg Harvest Health, an Arizona-based multi-state operator, secured a $225 million loan to accelerate growth. Marijuana Business Daily The marijuana market in Massachusetts is booming thanks to an influx of consumers from New York. Leafly
Cannabis in Canada.
Getting a pardon for a past cannabis offense is supposed to allow individuals to move on with their lives. But it isn’t enough for Canadians crossing into the U.S. Even after going through the effort to get a pardon, Canadians have been stopped and questioned at the border — and in some cases, banned from the U.S. for life. Global News CannTrust, embroiled in a scandal over its use of unlicensed grow rooms, has hired investment bank Greenhill & Co. to explore a potential sale. BNN Bloomberg Police in British Columbia have filed zero cannabis impaired driving charges since the country legalized marijuana, raising public safety concerns. Global News
Elsewhere around the world…
New U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson has hired a longtime cannabis legalization advocate as one of his policy advisers. Blair Gibbs is leaving his post as the policy lead at the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis to join Johnson’s team. BuzzFeed News The Ministry of Public Health of Thailand will distribute the country’s first legal medical marijuana to hospital patients next week. The cannabis oils are destined for about 4,000 registered patients. The cannabis is produced by the country’s Government Pharmaceutical Organization. Reuters The prime minister of Dominica plans to introduce legislation to decriminalize marijuana. Dominica News Online
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Word on the States
- In California, regulators reopen applications for cannabis social equity funding.
- In Florida, the state attorney is pausing pot prosecutions over marijuana-hemp lab testing issues.
- In Louisiana, a new state law allows medical marijuana patients to inhale cannabis.
- In Pennsylvania, two organizations distanced themselves from the former director of a cannabis research center who resigned over sexual harassment allegations.
- In Alaska, the state’s hemp pilot program lost its funding.
- In Arkansas, Fayetteville police defended their marijuana enforcement practices.
- In Nevada, a California tech billionaire and his co-defendant are taking a plea deal in a drug case.
Word for Word
“Forty-two years ago, New York decriminalized marijuana possession. This week, as you may have heard, New York decriminalized marijuana possession again. What’s up with that?” – Jacob Sullum for Reason
“Others are still separated. In one case, a nursing child was forcibly removed from her mother, according to [immigration attorney Lisa Koop]. The mother, who entered the U.S. from El Salvador in March, had been prosecuted on a minor drug charge after being forced to deliver a small amount of marijuana, roughly 33 grams, to a gang-member who had beaten and raped her. The mother was sentenced to time served and community service, but the government appealed without notifying her, and she faces 10 years if she returns as a ‘result of this sham appellate process,’ Koop wrote.” – Deepti Hajela and Sophia Tareen for The Associated Press
“I think the worst case scenario [for legalization] is that we create a regulatory market and keep criminalization in its place. That is the antithesis of what we are fighting for. I think we have to take the big swing at what is the more perfect version… People are okay to have the conversation about how communities are devastated by marijuana prohibition when it pushes for cannabis legalization or regulation. They are less willing to have that conversation when it talks about giving power up. That’s when people don’t want to talk about racial justice. That’s when people want to let those communities go.” – Drug Policy Alliance New York state director Kassandra Frederique, Cannabis Now