WeedWeek, June 17, 2017: Crackdown talk intensifies on Capitol Hill

Posted by | June 18, 2017 | Cannabis News, Weed Week News by Alex Halperin

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Here’s the news:
Politics

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the cannabis industry’s legal basis, the Cole Memo, is still in effect. “Maybe there will be changes to it in the future but we’re still operating under that policy, which is an effort to balance the conflicting interests with regard to marijuana.”

The clarification came after Tom Angell broke news that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had requested Congress not to renew the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment when it expires in September.

The amendment prohibits the Justice department from spending money to block state-legal MED activity; It has been in effect since December 2014. Sessions wrote that it would be inadvisable to hamper the Justice Department, “particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic.”

Sessions took a beating in the press for conflating cannabis legalization and the opioid epidemic. Scientific American and Wired piled on.

 

In Congress, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced the CARERS Act, that would require the federal government to respect state marijuana laws.

 

Colorado officials responding to the Sessions letter said they like things as they are. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf promised to protect MED patients from Sessions. Oregon officials discussed the situation with the state’s U.S. attorney.

 

California attorney general Xavier Becerra (D) said a widescale crackdown is unlikely. Speaking at an industry conference, former Mexican President Vicente Fox said Sessions is “crazy.”

 

When President Trump signed a spending bill in May, he issued a signing statement essentially giving himself permission to ignore the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. Sessions letter was the latest sign that the administration wants to pick a fight with cannabis. During the 2016 campaign Trump was a relatively consistent MED supporter.

 

Sessions also testified to a Senate committee as part of ongoing investigations into the Trump administration.

 

Trump ally and Russia investigation figure Roger Stone says he’s forming a pro-legalization group to sway Trump. Pro-legalization groups like MPP and legalization appear willing to work with Stone.

 

The cannabis industry has some concerns about L.A. City Council’s proposed regulations. In L.A. Weekly I found that cannabis businesses in the world’s largest market are increasingly worried about L.A.P.D. raids.

 

California lawmakers sent new pot rules to Gov. Jerry Brown (D). For more see here.

 

Massachusetts lawmakers may miss their self-imposed deadline to regulate REC.

 

A REC deal may still be possible in Vermont.

 

Pro-pot Colorado Congressman Jared Polis (D) will run for governor.

 

Weed-oriented cryptocurrency PotCoin, which sent Dennis Rodman to North Korea, said the former NBA star deserves credit for the freeing of an American prisoner. The State Department disagrees.

 

The U.S. Senate unanimously condemned, but didn’t change, the country’s hemp laws. The Cannabist has more on the hemp industry’s potential.

 

It’s hard to get MED in New York.

 

Business Insider says Trump’s decision to take a harder line on Cuba abets cocaine smugglers.

 

Entrepreneur and pundit Scott Rasmussen scans the industry.

Business

Henry Wykowski, a lawyer representing Oakland mega-dispensary Harborside, argued against the industry-hated tax rule 280E in court, and says he expects a verdict by the end of this year.

 

Fortune says AG Sessions threatens the industry’s growth. It cites Sentieo data that 75% of public companies involved in cannabis feel Trump’s election poses enough of a threat to list it as a risk for shareholders.

But iAnthus Capital’s Hadley Ford is bullish. (He’s a cannabis investor.)

 

A partnership with MED company UltraHealth has the annual Gathering of Nations in Alberquerque debating whether Native Americans should embrace the cannabis industry.

 

More MED patients are suing after losing their jobs.

 

A big Ontario union said it would cover members’ MED.

 

Massachusetts may impose strict rules on weed ads.

 

Tobacco company Imperial Brands added a cannabis executive to its board. A lawsuit by Nevada’s liquor lobby could delay REC sales in Nevada. The plaintiffs want a piece.

 

Legal REC could be a $5 billion boost to California’s economy according to a state government study. Nationally, the legal industry could have a $70 billion economic impact by 2021.

 

Denver’s proposed rules for social use at existing businesses are restrictive and expensive enough that almost no one is interested.

 

Oregon cannabis entrepreneur Jesce Horton talked about being black in an overwhelmingly white industry.

 

Rev. Al Sharpton, who doesn’t consume, called for more diversity in the industry.

 

Louisiana State University picked a Nevada company to run its MED grow.

 

In a bid to prevent money laundering, the Wynn casino in Las Vegas banned MassRoots CEO Isaac Dietrich.

 

The 2017 Associated Press Stylebook for journalists advises against using nouns like “alcoholic, addict, user and abuser.” Instead it recommends phrases like “he was addicted,” and “people with heroin addiction.” I will likely continue referring to cannabis users since in WeedWeek it doesn’t have a negative connotation.

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Health and Science

The U.S. Senate may soon pass a sweeping health care bill without public hearings and before it gets any airing before the public. The best guess available is that it will leave 23 million more Americans uninsured. Vox found that eight Republicans who plan to vote for it can’t coherently defend it. Want to learn what you can do? Go here.

 

Utah is the only state to allow cannabis research before legalizing MED, but the approach seems doomed to fail.

 

Sessions anti-pot stance could set back research and MED access for veterans.

 

A group called Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has anti-pot activist Kevin Sabet on its board, wants to ease restrictions on cannabis research.

 

More users are seeking voluntary treatment for cannabis abuse.

 

In Kentucky, a lawsuit challenges the state’s MED ban.

 

National Geographic sees more interest in growing cannabis by organic standards.

 

A study from industry data firm BDS Analytics found that cannabis consumers make more money, are more satisfied and like the outdoors better than abstainers.

 

The U.K.’s first MED research facility opens this summer.

 

An Australian dad was convicted of growing MED for his epileptic daughter.

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Criminal Justice

A Minnesota jury acquitted cop Jeronimo Yanez of all charges related to his fatally shooting black man Philando Castile. Smelling pot led Yanez to believe Castile was an imminent threat, Yanez’s lawyer said. Castile’s mother responded. After the verdict, Yanez was fired.

 

A study found that legalization hurts cartels and has led to lower crime in border states.

 

Forbes says the war on cannabis is heating up.

 

A Montana MED dispensary owner was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. The Argus Leader profiles a Sioux Falls, S.D. man returning to life on the outside after 11 years in prison on drug and other charges.

 

Former Colorado marijuana enforcement officer and pot entrepreneur Scott Pack has been indicted in connection with an alleged pot trafficking ring. AG Sessions cited the case as justification for a crackdown.

 

The Better Business Bureau is investigating two Colorado businesses for sending pot through the mail. An Oregon state employee was arrested for allegedly stealing tax payments from a dispensary.

 

Incarceration is way-up in rural America.

 

A Louisiana man was granted a reprieve after serving six years of a 17-year sentence for possessing half an ounce.

 

A British Columbia court ended mandatory minimums for growers.

 

ProPublica looks into how the DEA actions led to a massacre in Allende, Mexico.

 

The DEA recently published a lexicon of American drug slang. One heretofore unknown term for weed is “Smoochy Woochy Poochy.”

 

The N.Y. Times reports that dealers in Asia are using the dark web to sell powerful synthetic opioids to Americans. A interactive graph quiz in the paper shows how bad the opioid epidemic is. A bill proposed by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) would give AG Sessions new powers to prosecute crimes involving synthetic opioids.

 

A 49-year old Texas woman granted clemency by President Obama for a non-violent drug crime is going back to prison for violating the terms of her supervised release. A Texas inmate charged with possession committed suicide in jail.

 

Samantha Bee took on Jeff Sessions’ drug policies.

Product reviews:

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Culture

Cannabis personality Cheryl Shuman says she’s selling diamond encrusted vapes, — “pens formerly owned by Russian czars” — for $150,000 in Beverly Hills. If you have purchased such an item, or come across one in the wild, I want to hear about it.

 

Iowa State University lost its second appeal to ban a pro-pot T-shirt with the university’s logo.

 

Snoop Dogg held his first fashion show.

 

Miley Cyrus talked more about quitting pot. She was spending too much time with her pet pig.

 

Urban Daddy says weed has been Whole Foods-ified.

 

The U.K.’s Sun visits a £2million-a-year grow in a former nuclear bunker.

 

Dope Magazine checks out Sri Lanka’s 2,500 year-old MED industry.

 

A company is trying to create a Cannabis Literary Society.

 

High Times listed 11 of its favorite stoner dads.

 

Here’s the WeedWeek list of pot journalists on Twitter and the list of cannabusiness people on Twitter. Both are works in progress. Recommendations welcome.

I’ve also created two political Twitter lists you can subscribe to: Real News and Tweeting the Resistance.

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Happy Father’s Day,
Alex

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