January 20, 2018
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So much news.
Following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move to rescind the Cole memo, the government shutdown which began at midnight eastern time has opened a legal window to prosecute state legal MED and REC businesses. DEA field agents are exempt from shutdown-related furloughs .

Before the shutdown, Colorado Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis (D) fell short in his attempt to block federal prosecutions against state-legal cannabis businesses. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which blocks federal prosecutions against state legal MED, expired when the shutdown began.  
Roughly nine hours into the shutdown, there did not appear to be any reports of federal anti-cannabis actions.

Leafly looks at the last federal crackdown , between 2011 and 2013.
House Democrats introduced a bill to legalize REC federally and provide “restorative justice” for the war on drugs. It would expunge some minor federal convictions and create a fund to help former convicts enter the industry. It’s a companion to a bill introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) earlier this year.

A bipartisan group of Senators and Congresspeople urged the Treasury Department’s FinCEN unit to keep existing cannabis banking guidelines in place. For more see here.

The Cannifornian looks at how state lawmakers are fighting Attorney General Sessions . California said the two decade old collective and cooperative system , which prevailed during two decades of legal MED, will end next January.

Massachusetts regulators want to meet with Trump-appointed federal prosecutor Andrew Lelling , who has not committed to respecting state cannabis law. The state also disclosed its REC rollout timeline .

Federal prosecutor for Oregon, Trump-appointee Billy J. Williams, is convening a summit to address his “ significant concerns ” about Oregon's industry.

The Colorado Springs Gazette profiles Congressman Doug Lamborn (R), the only member of Colorado's congressional delegation to support a federal crackdown . Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also backs Sessions .

Colorado attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman (R), who opposed the 2012 REC vote, writes, “ It is too late to dismantle the marijuana industry.

Some Democratic state lawmakers oppose New Jersey’s REC bill because its social justice provisions are too weak. For more on New Jersey's REC push, see here .

Tom Angell looks at cannabis and this year’s gubernatorial races .

A report ordered by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan could facilitate legislation supporting racial minorities’ in the industry. For more see here .

A poll conducted for Kevin Sabet’s anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) found 16% of Americans favor the status quo of federal prohibition , 29% favor legalizing MED, 5% back decriminalization and 49% favor full legalization. (Among Republicans, 25% favor the status quo.) For SAM, the silver lining is with more choices, fewer Americans support full legalization than other recent polls suggest.

A Georgia poll found 50% - 46% support for legal REC.

Arizona legalization opponents are brainstorming ideas for anti-pot laws .

Politico reports Trump wants to slash the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), budget by 95% , provoking bipartisan criticism in the middle of opioid epidemic. The president hasn’t appointed a permanent “drug-czar” to run the office. A 24-year old political appointee with no relevant experience serves as the agency’s deputy chief of staff, the Washington Post reported.

To follow federal law, gun owners have to choose between their weapons and cannabis use .

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) proposed studying REC legalization . The Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester) asks what legal REC would mean for the state .

Before Monday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) expects to be the first governor to sign a REC legalization law passed by the state legislature.

If elected, Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Matt Flynn (D) said he would pardon low-level cannabis offenses.

Oklahoma narcotics officials expect the June MED vote to pass.

In Missouri, Republican lawmakers might try to pre-empt a state MED vote by passing a more restrictive law through the legislature. A Nebraska state senator introduced legislation to allow a MED ballot initiative.

Los Angeles issued its first licenses . Formerly pot-friendly Calaveras County, Calif., banned commercial farms , inviting lawsuits.

Numerous Florida cities have banned dispensaries .

A growing number of congresspeople support legal hemp .

In the Guardian, an economist argues the U.K. should legalize not decriminalize . MED legalization has a support base in Wales .

Greece appears poised to legalize MED .
Cannabis Business Executive’s Rob Meagher published a letter to the National Cannabis Industry Association from Genifer Murray , who was fired as chief of staff to Executive Director Aaron Smith on Dec. 4, after less than two months on the job. As of early January, Murray said she had not received an explanation. The site previously published a resignation letter from NCIA board member Kayvan Khalatbari.

In her brief stint at NCIA, Murray alleges witnessing: employee favoritism, a legally exposed “personal intimate relationship” between executive director Smith and a current employee, a lack of accountability, poor morale, profligate spending and slow growth relative to the industry.

NCIA referred Meagher to a response to allegations in Khalatbari’s email, which NCIA put out before Murray’s letter came to light . Responding to Khalatbari it stated, “ While we acknowledge the opinion published, it was formed based on incomplete information and hearsay.” It also acknowledged “innuendo” about sexual harassment at the organization, and says there are no pending cases and no cases have been filed in the past.  

The NCIA site still lists Rob Kampia , the Marijuana Policy Project founder, as a board member. Kampia recently departed MPP amid past sexual harassment allegations, and rumors that more could come to light. For more see MJBizDaily .

Anyone familiar with the situation at NCIA who wants to talk on background can contact me at alex@weedweek.net .
The Western Regional Cannabis Business Alliance, representing businesses in six states, asked Congress for protection from federal prosecution.

Fort Collins, Colo.-based Sunrise Genetics said it has mapped the cannabis genome . Deepening genetic knowledge can lead to improvements in growing and the value of specific chemicals found in the plant.

Washington cannabis prices plummeted on oversupply , with some farmers accepting as little as $1 a gram wholesale. Meanwhile, local rules ban businesses in some parts of the state. Canna Law Blog has more on the oversupply problem .

CNET looks at how dispensaries market themselves since they’re banned from Facebook and Google.

Nevada growers are worried about new permanent REC rules they say favor dispensaries.

MJBiz talks to California growers adjusting to the legal market .

Troubled social app MassRoots was evicted from its Denver headquarters for owing almost $40,000 in rent.

A study in Denver suggests proximity to a dispensary boosts a home’s value .

A 32 year UPS employee is suing the company after it fired him when a drug test showed cannabis and amphetamines. The plaintiff has a MED card and an Adderall prescription.

The Colorado Springs Independent asks why so little is known about cannabis jobs.

Pro-legalization Nevada state Senator Tick Segerblom disclosed his stake and board seat at Canadian cannabis company MPX Bioceutical.

Women are leading the push for racial justice in the industry, HuffPost reports.

Seeking Alpha offers five predictions for the industry .

MJBizDaily looks at the Canadian MED companies setting up shop in California . Canadian pharmacy chains are lining up to sell MED .

Bloomberg says strict branding laws will take all the fun out of Canadian REC.

New York-based iAnthus Capital Holdings paid $48M in cash and (Canadian) stock for a licensed Florida MED business.

Willamette Week meets Pruf Cultivar which is trying to solve cannabis’ consistency problem .

Massachusetts chose Franwell’s METRC for its seed to sale tracking system.

Pennsylvania will have to disclose more information about MED license applicants. The state’s first MED dispensary is almost open.

Australia is a not yet a MED powerhouse.
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin (Independent, originally an Obama appointee) said the agency would not support research into MED as a therapy for PTSD, citing the drug’s federal illegality. Veterans groups strongly support MED research, and many want the VA to oversee the effort.
The case of Alexis Bortell, a 12-year old girl with epilepsy who is suing Jeff Sessions , will go before a federal judge on February 14. Bortell’s lawyer will argue the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional.

In Massachusetts, moldy weed may be making people sick.

Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Peter Grinspoon discusses why patients find MED useful, and how to discuss it with your doctor .

In the Guardian, I argued we mostly don’t know what MED does and does not do. Green State discussed MED’s potential with Dr. Yossi Tam , of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

To accelerate the application process, the DEA will allow researchers who want to study Schedule I drugs to apply online.

A new Mexico nine year old unknowingly passed out her parents MED gummy bears to a few classmates. The story quotes one of them, “It had a label on it that said ‘Incredibles.’ We just thought it was ordinary gummies.” A correction to the story says Incredibles doesn’t make gummies and the company believes the label was forged. (Incredibles is a WeedWeek advertiser.)

U.K. researcher Ian Hamilton says language alone can’t reduce the stigma drug-users face.

An Illinois 6th grader who suffers from seizures and leukemia, will be allowed to use MED in school.

The Washington Post profiles the family of doctors behind American Cannabinoid Clinics, in Portland.
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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said immigrants with marijuana convictions would be prioritized for deportation, alongside those with other criminal convictions.
Trump senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s interest in criminal justice reform has “ hit a brick wall called Sessions, ” Vice says.

With REC legal, roughly 1 million Californians can apply to have cannabis offenses reduced or expunged.

Since the 2008 peak, 36 states have reduced their incarceration rates , almost all also cut their crime rate. A study found cannabis legalization reduces crime in U.S. states which border Mexico.  Quartz calls a legal marijuana market, “ the best border wall .”

A Los Angeles county sheriff’s deputy faces federal charges for pot dealing.

The ACLU is supporting 18 charged with cannabis possession after they were stopped by federal authorities near the Canadian border in New Hampshire.

Oregon State Police will stop traffic stop drug testing due to safety concerns over handling the ultra-powerful opioid fentanyl. No Oregon officer has been harmed by handling it so far. It’s common for positive tests to induce guilty pleas.

The Philippines has shut down The Rappler, a news site critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s extrajudicial war on drugs.

Florida has disbarred a lawyer for telling clients they could use, possess and grow MED, before the state legalized MED in 2016.

In Canada, expunging minor marijuana offenses would present a technical challenge.
The N.Y. Times profiles actor Ben Sinclair who plays The Guy on High Maintenance.
Netflix put out a video with former NFL players supporting legalization .

A Michigan golf course wants to join the green rush.

The Economist says teens are better behaved than they used to be.
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