Bernie said he would legalize weed by executive order if he were president. New Jersey’s Senate president says the legislative effort to legalize marijuana still has hope. Critics say a study on marijuana use in pregnant women is unnecessary and dangerous. Also: Josh Kushner’s VC firm invests in the cannabis industry. 🌳
Bernie says he’d legalize weed as president.
Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) said that he would legalize marijuana by executive order if he were elected president. “You can argue the plusses and minuses of marijuana, but marijuana ain’t heroin,” said Sanders in an interview with podcaster Joe Rogan. “So we have to end that and that’s what I will do as President of the United States. I believe we can do that through executive order and I will do that.” Newsweek Sanders stopped short of advocating for legalizing other illicit drugs, but focused on other issues — “a lack of health care, living wages and sense of community” — for combating illicit drug use. Marijuana Moment
Bags of cash.
Cannabis tax revenue in the U.S. is on track to reach $1.6 billion this year, according to an analysis of cannabis data from seven U.S. states. “This would represent a 15 percent jump from the $1.3 billion these states collected in 2018.” Cannabis tax revenue typically grows the fastest when a new state market comes online, but then slows down as the market matures. Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy The fact that cannabis businesses are hauling bags of cash to pay local, state, and federal taxes highlights the pressure on Congress to pass some sort of marijuana banking reform. While federal legalization still seems like a longshot, senator Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) recent hearing on the banking issue suggests that incremental reform could be possible. Bloomberg
The rise of cannabis lobbying.
Lobbying and law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck is starting a cannabis practice group to “cater to companies beyond the cannabis industry that need to understand the shifting regulatory landscape” like the financial services and alcohol industries. Politico Influence Many of New York’s medical cannabis registered organizations lobbied on a myriad of cannabis-related bills this past session. Five ROs lobbied on marijuana legalization in the budget (it ultimately didn’t make it in) and medical cannabis expansion. Six ROs lobbied on the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, the adult-use legalization bill that eventually failed in the legislature. Cannabis Wire
Hope for recreational legalization in New Jersey?
Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he wouldn’t give up on trying to legalize adult-use marijuana in New Jersey, despite previously announcing that a legalization bill didn’t have the votes to pass. “We’ll make one more run at it,” said Sweeney. Legislative leaders think there’s hope for reviving the legalization effort at the end of this year or early next year. When the legalization bill fell a few votes short, lawmakers opted to expand the medical marijuana program and consider decriminalization. A cannabis attorney and advocate said “that neither a more robust medical marijuana program nor decriminalizing weed changes the largest problems that trouble so many.” nj.com
Pennsylvania judge rules against searches based on the smell of weed.
The smell of marijuana is often used as a pretext for traffic stops and searches. But a Lehigh County judge ruled in favor of a medical marijuana patient after the car he was riding in was searched based on the smell of cannabis. “Troopers say they smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car and informed [him] that gave them the legal right to search the vehicle, even after he showed them his medical marijuana card.” The ruling could lead the way to change a rule that allows police to search a car based on the smell of drugs. The Morning Call
🌟 A Word From Our Sponsors 🌟
Word on the Tree sponsors are those who donate to help support the newsletter at higher levels. Learn more at wordonthetree.com
Lots of Americans are using CBD.
One in seven American adults use CBD products, according to a new Gallup poll. The cannabinoid is most popular among younger adults and those who live in the West. But 8 percent of those over 65 report using CBD. And those living in the South are more likely consume CBD compared to those in the Midwest or East. Pain, anxiety, and insomnia were the most common reasons for using CBD. The poll results highlight the growing popularity of CBD products at a time when the entire market is operating in a legal gray area sans federal regulations. Marijuana Moment
The studies say…
Several studies suggest that marijuana use during pregnancy may cause premature birth and brain deficits. But the existing research is complicated by the makeup of study participants, or were conducted using animal subjects. Now, researchers at the University of Washington are seeking answers with a study that is enrolling pregnant women who use marijuana for morning sickness. Critics say such research is unnecessary and dangerous. The Associated Press A new study in Addiction Biology found that marijuana use has an impact on the brains neurochemistry in individuals who are at high risk for psychosis. “Regular cannabis use has a profound effect on cortical dopamine function, in particular in relation to the stress response,” said the study’s lead author. Science Daily
Elsewhere in cannabis business news…
Thrive Capital Management, a VC firm founded by Josh Kushner, is leading a $35 million round for LeafLink. The cannabis inventory and ordering platform plans to use some of the funds to expand into payment services for the cash-based industry. Bloomberg The CEO of MWWPR, which won an account from cannabis company MedMen, described his experience working with MedMen as “one of the more dishonest and odd processes we have experienced.” After responding to an RFP and winning the account, MedMen reportedly backed out after only two weeks. PR Week Silver Spike Acquisition Corp., a cannabis-focused special purpose acquisition company, is planning to go public on Nasdaq “with 25 million shares priced at $10 each.” Cannabis Wire / Newsletter
Cannabis in Canada.
A couple who believed they were growing cannabis legally in their garden came home one night to find that the RCMP had searched their home and busted their garden shed. The reason? Three cannabis plants in their garden, which the police said were visible to the public and therefore illegal. The couple is questioning whether the investigation is a good use of police resources. CBC News Anna Minten has since met with police and said they had a good, honest conversation. “The RCMP has been roundly criticized on social media for overreacting to the three plants not easily identified as cannabis from the public road.” CTV News CAFE, a chain of unlicensed cannabis dispensaries in Toronto, is still alive and kicking despite law enforcement efforts to shut down the business. Now Toronto
Elsewhere around the world…
Government officials in Luxembourg are hoping to legalize marijuana and set up a commercial market. It would be the first country in Europe to do so. Politico The marijuana legalization debate in France “has all but ignored the link between race, cannabis and mass incarceration.” The Conversation A drug policy reform bill in New Zealand that takes more of a public health approach to drugs has passed its final reading in Parliament. RNZ Marijuana made up 80 percent of drug seizures in Venezuela, according to the country’s anti-narcotics agency. Insight Crime
🗣 Shout Outs 🗣
Weed + Grub
Weed + Grub is a podcast about cooking, cannabis, comedy, and pop culture — hosted by Mary Jane Gibson and Mike Glazer. Their SXSW panel — Art, Entertainment & Social Justice Awareness — will feature Open Mike Eagle, Ron Funches and Laganja Estranja for a discussion about the role of art in cannabis advocacy. Vote for their panel here: SXSW Panel Picker
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, the state blocked at least 34 attempts to buy marijuana with EBT cards. The mayor of Fall River is under fire for granting approval to his girlfriend’s brother to open two marijuana dispensaries.
- In Oregon, Deschutes County is considering banning new marijuana businesses. A petition to legalize psilocybin is gaining steam.
- In Michigan, a medical marijuana testing lab is under investigation for inaccurate results.
- In California, Outside Lands received a permit for cannabis sales and a consumption area.
- In Rhode Island, some government officials are critical of language that would give marijuana licensing approval to the General Assembly.
- In Missouri, the medical marijuana program is off to a slow start.
- In Ohio, the city attorney of Columbus won’t prosecute misdemeanor pot possession.
- In Utah, a second lawsuit over the legislature’s medical marijuana law is still alive.
- In Maine, the Bath city council gave preliminary approval to marijuana rules.
- In Florida, Miami Dade College will soon offer marijuana courses.
- In Maryland, a dispensary is hosting a medical marijuana bingo event in hopes of dispelling stigma around the drug.
Word for Word
“Two things: one, I think we ought to look at decriminalizing [marijuana]. People are arrested for possession of marijuana and face sentences that are oftentimes in excess of what they would receive for offenses that I think are far more significant and serious. You do see too many people I think developing significant criminal records for small possession charges of marijuana.” – Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb, C-SPAN via Marijuana Moment
“Nearly a year ago, cannabis industry executive Jason Margolies went public regarding his fight with stage-four colon cancer, and the hundreds of friends and peers in the cannabis industry who had his back. Now that fight is over: Margolies passed away on August 6 at the age of 43. Known throughout the cannabis industry and beyond for his jovial personality and sense of humor, Margolies kept his spirits up after he was diagnosed with cancer in January 2018… Described by his friends in the industry as a man ‘who would give you the shirt off his own back’ and who could always ‘see the humor and logic in things,’ Margolies won’t be forgotten.” – Thomas Mitchell for Westword