February 10, 2018
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This week on the podcast, Hayley and I talked sex, weed and politics with Dan Savage! Among much else, Dan talks cannabis activism , his favorite brand of cannalube and what he does when he's stoned. The episode lands Monday at 4:20 p.m. Pacific.

You can rate us five stars on iTunes whenever you like.

Previous episodes feature Congressman and longtime legalization supporter Earl Blumenauer ("So goes the country...") ; Emily Dufton, author of Grass Roots: The rise and fall and rise of marijuana in America (From just say no..."); and Ariel Clark a cannabis business attorney and founder of the L.A. Cannabis Task Force ("Want to start a weed business?").

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The 2018 U.S. midterm elections are coming. Register to vote and/or get the information you need to vote here.
So much news.
Contrary to the available science, Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed marijuana for the opioid crisis . “The DEA said that a huge percentage of the heroin addictions starts with prescriptions. That may be an exaggerated number — they had it as high as 80 percent — we think a lot of this is starting with marijuana and other drugs,” he said.

To alleviate the epidemic Sessions told Americans to “take some aspirin sometimes and tough it out.” He also praised White House chief of staff former Marine Gen. John Kelly for refusing opioids after a recent minor surgery.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) has kept his word to hold up judicial nominees until Sessions adjusts his position on state legal industries. Gardner has prevented as many as 11 nominees from getting a floor vote.

Sessions' remarks attracted criticism from veterans groups who strongly support MED access as a possible opioid exit drug.  Reason produced six studies which say Sessions is wrong. Vox piles on.

Meanwhile Democrats are calling for a hearing on Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memo.

A parody video about Jeff Sessions’ secret past as a weed-loving jam band musician fooled a few people . His band was called The Jeff Sessions.
The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment which protects state legal MED businesses from federal prosecution was extended until March 23 as part of the budget deal. It’s the eighth time the amendment has been extended.

Republicans blocked an amendment from Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colo.) which would have prevented federal prosecution of state-legal cannabis businesses.

The Senate Judiciary Committee could discuss legalization this year .

California has issued about 2,400 temporary cannabis licenses, but top regulator Lori Ajax anticipates ongoing supply problems . CityLab looks at equity efforts in California .

Massachusetts’ REC market is preparing to open on schedule (MassLive) on July 1. Gov. Charlie Baker called for a slower, two-phased roll-out (Boston Globe) .

Amid criticism, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) defended the state’s efforts (Florida Politics) to implement a MED program. Christian Bax, the state’s top marijuana official, is under fire from several sides (Bradenton Herald.)

In a reversal, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is willing to consider legal REC to solve the state’s budget woes.

New Jersey’s Ocean and Monmouth counties formally oppose REC legalization. The state anticipates a “cutthroat” business climate .

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (Ind.) launched a petition against prohibition .

Some red state Democrats think a pro-legalization platform can help them win in November.

Tom Angell runs through the legalization initiatives on the table in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, Georgia and other states.

A MED bill in Missouri would be limited to terminally ill patients . To clear up confusion, several conservative states may legalize CBD . Tennessee House Speaker and gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell (R) supports a MED bill describing it as an alternative to opioids..  

Canada may not be ready for REC sales (Reuters) by the hoped for date of July 1. Liberals say conservatives are holding up debate (Globe and Mail) in the Senate. For more see CBC.

British Columbia released its new regulations .

Under pressure from Trump, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu hit the brakes on MED exports. Greece is fast-tracking MED legalization .

Tiny Lesotho became the first African nation to legalize cultivation. American company Corix Bioscience stands to benefit.

The Antigua and Barbuda Parliament voted to allow possession .

A push to legalize psychedelic mushrooms moved closer to the Denver ballot .
Publicly-traded, North Carolina tobacco company Alliance One said it is entering the U.S. hemp market and the Canadian cannabis market (New Cannabis Ventures.) It has acquired controlling stakes in Canadian licensed producer Canada’s Island Garden, and applicant Goldleaf Pharm. For more see MJBizDaily.
MenMen claims to be the first billion dollar US cannabis company , after receiving a $30M investment at that valuation.

Vaporizer powerhouse PAX Labs named Silicon Valley veteran Bharat Vasan as its new CEO.

Paragon, a cannabis blockchain company which raised $70M in an initial coin offering, has been sued by investors who allege the company didn’t file its offering with regulators. In a statement, founder Jessica VerSteeg, a former Miss Iowa, said the company is “dedicated to staying compliant with all applicable laws.”

AdWeek looks at the industry’s ongoing social media woes .

In what was later determined to be a hack of Washington’s new track and trace software system, computer glitches caused havoc for retailers and vendors (MJBizDaily). The new system is from Colorado-based MJFreeway which has suffered a string of embarrassing problems. The Seattle Times has more on the scramble to keep product on shelves .

After a 40-month legal battle Colorado credit union Fourth Corner won conditional approval from the Federal Reserve to offer banking services to ancillary businesses, but not plant-touching companies. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appears to support bank access for cannabis businesses.

Partner Colorado Credit Union, which serves the industry, has been hit with a wrongful termination lawsuit which claims the plaintiffs witnessed CEO Sundie Seefried using cocaine. The company denied the allegations and called the suit groundless.

Colorado cannabis sales hit a record $1.5 billion in 2017.

According to ZipRecruiter, cannabis job postings climbed 445% in 2017.

A handful of companies own 30% of California’s 540 temporary licenses for “small” operations. Legalization has been tough for California’s pre-existing, unlicensed delivery services . It has also put pressure on cannabis events and festivals .

BDS Analytics/Arcview predict Florida will be a billion-dollar market .

In Oregon, state auditors found cannabis businesses can easily manipulate sales and inventory data before passing it to the state, creating potential for abuse. New Mexico wants to revoke a business’s license for submitting false audit reports .

An unsuccessful license applicant in Pennsylvania, is calling for a do-over which would halt the industry days before MED sales begin. The entity calls the state’s selection process “flawed, inequitable and unconstitutional.”

A member of Ohio’s MED advisory panel who quit said the state program plans weren’t working for patients. (Cleveland.com) (Cincinnati.com has the FAQ on Ohio’s MED industry , scheduled to open in September.)

Baltimore’s first two MED dispensaries opened.

A Denver business applied to become Colorado’s first legal consumption spa . Portland has its first cannabis bodega .

Cannabis lounges could be coming to West Hollywood .

Canadian start-up Province Brands has filed a patent to brew beer from cannabis . In 2016, I wrote a long story about Ebbu, Province CEO Michael “Dooma” Wendschuh’s previous cannabis venture . Dooma subsequently subpoenaed me .

Tony Magee, founder of Lagunitas, said legal cannabis would be “way, way, way, way bigger” than craft beer .

Last year, Aspen dispensary sales topped Aspen liquor store sales for the first time.

In Big Sur, well-capitalized outsiders are winning permits ahead of celebrated local growers.

Washington cancelled a Tacoma dispensary’s license for owing $1.4M in back taxes.

New Cannabis Ventures is a new Canadian pot stock index . Pot stocks are an investing fad in Sweden.

India’s leading ayurvedic products company is interested in the plant .

New Frontier Data acquired Hemp Business Journal for undisclosed terms.

A new study found access to MED can mitigate the opioid crisis . Live Science looks into the opioid issue .

Weill Cornell professor of psychiatry Dr. Richard A. Friedman writes MED can prevent fatal opioid overdoes . A new initiative at UCLA is studying cannabis and the opioid epidemic .

The Army doesn’t consider CBD harmful but still bans its use by soldiers.

Former NRA President David Keene says MED patients should be allowed to have guns .

To escalate its campaign against herbal supplement kratom, the FDA said it was aware of 44 Kratom related deaths . Critics said almost all involved other substances as well .

In time for Valentine’s Day, GreenState has the details on pot as an aphrodesiac .

Canadian doctors said the government, not companies, should design cannabis packaging .
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State and local law enforcement protested (N.Y. Times) the administration’s decision to transfer oversight of a $275M drug prevention program to the Justice Department where they fear the emphasis will be on enforcement rather than oversight. It was previously overseen by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Politico says President Trump has declared war on the agency , otherwise known as the drug czars’ office.

Trump shared his opioid policy , (NPR). “My take is you have to get really, really tough, really mean with the drug pushers and the drug dealers,"
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Colombia to escalate efforts against cocaine trafficking , after Trump threatened to cut off aid to nations which can’t contain the drug trade.

Following San Francisco, Seattle said it would vacate misdemeanor pot offenses retroactively . Vermont may fast track a similar program. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is exploring the issue . Libertarian former presidential candidate Gary Johnson applauds the trend .

L.A. County said offenders would still have to petition the court .

The Colorado Springs Independent met “ the last drug dealers .” They're in demand since the conservative city doesn’t allow dispensaries.

Bernard Noble, a Louisiana man sentenced to 13 years for possessing two joints , received parole after serving eight.

BuzzFeed has a harrowing story about a Brooklyn 18-year old female, who charged two cops with rape after they busted her for weed possession.

U.S. officials say REC in Canada could slow down entry at U.S. border points.

Mexican kingpin El Chapo’s will be tried before an anonymous jury in New York.

A German police organization called for decriminalization .

The International Criminal Court is investigating Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war for crimes against humanity.
The Lansing State Journal has a longread about Leni and John Sinclair, two activists who legalized weed in Michigan for 22 days in 1972 .
San Diego dispensary Urbn Leaf posted a picture of a nine-year old girl scout (AP) selling cookies outside. It provoked some controversy and questions about whether the girl was following guidelines. She sold 300 boxes in six hours (Vox).  

Snoop Dogg told a high school student to call his lawyers after she was allegedly banned from the basketball team for retweeting him holding a blunt.

The N.Y.Times has a cultural history of marijuana .

Civilized asks why the Olympics ban weed.

GreenState helps you plan the perfect cannabis weekend in Seattle .

Forbes serves up the most expensive cannabis gifts for Valentine’s Day . They include a million dollar bong, and the $24,000 Gold MBox, a gift box which can be delivered by black car to any California address and a $7,500 gold bar pipe.
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