Senator Mike Crapo, a key committee chair, expressed support for marijuana banking reform. Democratic lawmakers urge HHS and FDA to hurry up with those CBD regulations. Tennessee government officials are surprised to learn that the state is invested in a marijuana REIT. Also: Canadian cannabis producer Aphria turns a profit. 🌳
Key GOP senator supports marijuana banking reform.
Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), chair of the Senate Banking Committee, expressed support for reforms to allow state-legal cannabis businesses access banking services. It’s the first time Crapo has expressed support for reform. “We now need to, I think, move forward and see if there’s some way we can draft legislation that will deal with the issue,” he said. While there is currently legislation in Congress that would allow financial services companies to work with marijuana businesses, Crapo said he is looking for other solutions that could bypass Congress. Wikileaf
Dems press for CBD regulations.
A group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to federal regulators this week, asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration to develop regulations for the hemp industry as “regulatory uncertainty is currently stifling the potential growth of hemp businesses.” Marijuana Moment Confusion between hemp and marijuana continues to plague law enforcement agencies across the country. Texas’ largest law enforcement agency instructed its officers not to arrest people who possess less than four ounces of cannabis. Texas Tribune The top forensic scientist in Virginia recommended that police buy a device developed by Swiss police that can purportedly distinguish between hemp and marijuana products. WRC-TV
Tenn. concerned about marijuana investment.
Top government officials in Tennessee were surprised to learn that its pension fund for government employees holds a $720,000 investment in Innovative Industrial Properties Inc., a cannabis-focused real estate investment trust. “I didn’t know we had this investment until the Chicago Sun-Times called up and we began digging around to find it,” said state treasurer David Lillard. He ordered the fund managers to sell the stock ASAP. While lawmakers in the state generally oppose marijuana reform, state rep. Jeremy Faison is questioning why the state should sell the rising stock. Faison has previously introduced legislation to legalize medical marijuana, though such efforts have stalled in the legislature. Times Free Press
Adult diversion programs offer a second chance.
South Dakota is not exactly known for progressive criminal justice policies. But a program in Pennington County is offering those with little or no criminal history a chance to avoid getting caught up in the criminal justice system. For one man who was caught with drugs, the program helped him avoid a felony conviction. “Someone with a job who tried drugs a few times may have to undergo a drug evaluation and do community service while someone who uses drugs everyday and doesn’t have a job or high school degree may have to undergo treatment, find employment and obtain a GED.” Rapid City Journal
Harris’ drug war record examined.
After senator Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) took senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) to task on her record as a prosecutor during the second Democratic presidential debate, Harris is facing scrutiny for her record on criminal justice and drug policy reform. In 2010, Harris opposed a California ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, and continued to oppose legalization until 2017. She came out in support of marijuana legalization in 2018. Rolling Stone Some advocates are defending Harris, pointing out that her record isn’t as bad as it seems. “From the time Harris was elected AG to when she left office, admissions to prison for marijuana offenses in California declined by 83.2 percent.” Freedom Leaf
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Law enforcement has been stepping up its efforts to crack down on unlicensed marijuana operations amid criticisms from licensed businesses that the state isn’t doing enough to ensure compliance. While raids are increasing and regulators have new enforcement tools, it doesn’t seem like the efforts are having much of an impact on legal operators. Others question whether police raids are even an effective strategy, when high barriers to entry keep many entrepreneurs out of the regulated market. Marijuana Business Daily Related: A raid in Plumas County is just the latest in a series of enforcement actions by local, state, and federal agencies. This one snagged 11,000 marijuana plants. KOLO
Today in cannabis business news…
Cannabis and biotech companies are rushing to file cannabis-related patents ahead of federal reform. Attorneys in the industry say that patents will become a driver of M&A activity if marijuana is legalized on the federal level. Bloomberg Law A joint venture between pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Pfizer Inc. is looking into CBD as a pain reliever. Bloomberg Two recent cannabis industry scandals involving Canadian producer CannTrust and U.S. multi-state operator Curaleaf has dampened the entire sector. CNBC Neil Watanabe, the chief financial officer for High Times, has left the job after a mere three months. The company has been struggling to go public for the past year. New York Post The cannabis industry is struggling to hire qualified employees, but a growing number of universities are looking to prepare their students to enter the burgeoning marijuana business. Quartz
Cannabis in Canada.
Aphria has become one of the few Canadian cannabis producers to turn a profit. Its stock jumped 30 percent in post-market trading on Thursday. Marijuana Business Daily CannTrust is being investigated by the country’s largest securities regulator amid a scandal surrounding the company’s use of unlicensed grow rooms. BNN Bloomberg Canadians with cannabis convictions can now apply for a pardon, and they won’t have to pay the usual $631 fee. They would have to finish their sentence first, though. The Toronto Star The application process can be complex, including obtaining local police records and getting fingerprints taken. Global News Younger Canadians are more likely to try cannabis after federal legalization, according to researchers at McMaster University. CBC News
Elsewhere around the world…
Two hemp farmers in the U.K. say they were forced to destroy 40 acres of their crop by the Home Office. “For three years we operated openly and always kept the Home Office informed over what we were doing,” said one of the farmers. The Guardian A proposal to legalize medical marijuana in El Salvador is cautiously inching forward. Cannabis Wire Investors from China are considering bankrolling a cannabis operation in Pondoland, a region on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Dispatch Live A court in Indonesia commuted the death sentence of a French national for smuggling marijuana, MDMA, and methamphetamine. He’s now sentenced to 19 years in prison. Reuters
Laws aren’t keeping up with psychedelic science.
Illicit drugs that have long been enjoyed by recreational users like ketamine and MDMA are advancing through the FDA approval process. While these drugs and other psychedelics hold therapeutic promise, federal drug policy isn’t keeping up. “The prospect of psychedelic drugs gaining approval as treatments will force a reckoning for our existing system of drug control,” writes an expert in law and bioethics. Scientific American The psychedelic reform movement in the U.S. is just beginning, as municipalities like Denver and Oakland, Calif. take steps to decriminalize such substances. Money is starting to pour into lobbying and business ventures. Vice
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Word on the States
- In Colorado, doctors can now recommend medical marijuana for any condition that they may prescribe opioids for.
- In Massachusetts, the state’s first economic empowerment applicant is set to open a dispensary in Boston.
- In Louisiana, the state’s first batch of medical marijuana was cleared for release by regulators.
- In Michigan, three communities will vote on whether to allow marijuana businesses.
- In Maine, CBD foods sold in the state must be produced with locally grown hemp.
- In Florida, the Tallahassee City commissioner is pushing for marijuana decriminalization.
- In New York, the DA of Erie County vows to take a hard line against stoned drivers.
- In Indiana, how one state rep. is fighting for marijuana legalization.
- In New Jersey, Jersey City approved a medical marijuana facility plan. Middle Township will consider a proposal to turn an old seafood processing plant into an MMJ facility.
Word for Word
“How the athletes show they are using responsibly is paramount. I still play pickup basketball fairly often for a middle-aged guy, and let me tell you, it’s hard to find a court without a young guy taking ill-advised three-pointers, trying to imitate Steph Curry. If the two-time MVP started promoting pot, it’s safe to assume some of those mediocre shooters would follow suit. This is why the leagues need to be transparent about demystifying cannabis rather than hiding behind the justification that ‘it’s the law’ — the laws are changing… If NBA Commissioner Adam Silver thinks tampering with pot is difficult to discourage, how will he continue to justify punishing players for partaking in a product a growing number of his league’s alumni are getting rich off of and producing with the governor’s blessing?” – LZ Granderson for The Los Angeles Times
“Mannerisms aside, it’s impossible to read an etiquette book dedicated to cannabis culture as anything other than an argument for that culture’s dignity. [Lizzie] Post is well aware of that, but Higher Etiquette does delve into some unexpected places. How does etiquette work with consumption that can still land you in jail? How will it evolve alongside the byzantine network of laws that are slowly bringing cannabis into retail channels? What should we even call cannabis, anyway? Post takes all those questions seriously.” – Luke Winkie for Vox