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After criticizing them in Slate, I invited the National Cannabis Industry Association and Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority to share their views. NCIA did not respond, but Angell did. Here's what he sent:

First of all, it's ridiculous and frankly offensive to claim that people in the legalization movement or cannabis industry want the Trump administration to harm our Latino and Muslim friends. In fact, many of us feel the smartest strategy is to fight directly against those attacks on vulnerable populations if and when they come than to instead pick a fight with Sessions about marijuana that we have a very good chance of avoiding in the first place. Doing so would actually put people of color who are currently protected by state legalization laws at even more risk.

To that end, let me say a bit about political strategy on marijuana.

We are operating under a few basic facts: 1) President-elect Trump repeatedly pledged to respect state marijuana laws. 2) His pick for attorney general has said some terrible things about cannabis. 3) Given the Senate's composition and what key Republicans and Democrats have already said about the Sessions nomination, he is very likely to be confirmed.

It's fine for reformers to work to defeat the nomination, however unlikely those efforts are to succeed. But I am concerned that some of the rhetoric being deployed (like: they "will" crack down on marijuana) paints the administration into a corner we really don't want them to be in and actually makes it much more likely that they will move against cannabis following the near-certainty of Sessions's confirmation.

A much better and smarter use of our time, energy and resources is to force the administration to come to terms with the fact that breaking Trump's campaign promises and moving to overturn broadly popular state marijuana laws would not only be bad policy but would be a huge political disaster for the new president.

After more than 15 years of working to navigate the politics of drug policy reform, I believe that the best way for us to ensure a favorable outcome is to help the president and attorney general realize that doing what we want will be good for them, and going against us will be bad for them. Where conflict exists between what Trump promised on the campaign trail and what Sessions may personally prefer to do, let's use that to our advantage and send the message that the attorney general should be wary about doing anything that would create problems his boss doesn't need.

I'm not sure why that's controversial or warrants being accused of using vulnerable populations as "human shields."

Finally, your piece leaves an important question unanswered: What are you suggesting, constructively? You want people to more loudly complain about the fact that we don't like the next attorney general? That's not going to make it less likely he will come after marijuana businesses, and will probably have the opposite effect. I get that you don't like Jeff Sessions, and I don't either, for a number of reasons far beyond marijuana. But cannabis reform advocates are trying to pursue smart strategies that we think will be most likely to lead to as-good-as-possible outcomes even in far-from-perfect circumstances. 

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Now the news:

Politics

Ahead of his confirmation hearing for Attorney General, a public relations campaign is trying to depict Sen. Jeff Sessions as  emphatically not a racist. He has long been dogged by such accusations, due in part to a statement that he was ok with the Ku Klux Klan, until he heard that they smoke pot. 

Rolling Stone  envisions the war on drugs under Attorney General Sessions.

Oregon is  revising its product testing rules again, following complaints from companies. Nevada companies call for  strict product testing.

The Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, N.Y.) reports on “ progress and hurdles” in the New York MED program. For more  see here.

Maine REC opponents  cancelled their recall effort. Gov. Paul LePage (R) said that with REC there’s no longer a need for a MED program. A prominent New Hampshire state senator  will propose a REC bill.

Canada.com looks at how legalization up north  could alter Canadian/American relations.

An Arizona judge ruled that local officials  can’t use federal law to block MED dispensaries.

The city of Copenhagen is pursuing a  longshot legalization push in an effort to reduce gang warfare.

Caribbean nation Dominica will  consider MED legalization next year.

Business


Denver cannabis law firm Hoban Law Group  may sue the DEA over its recent CBD ruling.

Purdue Pharma, which makes Oxycontin, is  expanding overseas. In the U.S., the L.A. Times remarks, opioids are a “dying business.” 

Hound Labs and Cannabix Technologies are  racing to perfect a cannabis breathalyzer.

Boston is another potential “ cannabis capital.” Canadian businesses are  preparing for legalization.

CBD pet treats are becoming big business.

Health and Science

A new study found that people who are more likely to develop schizophrenia are more likely to try cannabis. It also found  new evidence that cannabis use can cause schizophrenia.

The number of pregnant women who use cannabis is  up more than 60% since 2002. While knowledge of how cannabis affects fetuses is limited, Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, called it “cause for concern.” 

The Duluth News Tribune looks examines the case for, and against,  treating PTSD with MED.

More experts say cannabis  should be prescribed before opiates, VICE reports.

Ohio doctors say they’re  reluctant to recommend MED.

An article from “The American Tribune” on an overdose from injecting cannabis  turned out to be fake news.

Connecticut has approved its first MED study,  to compare pain relief with an opiate in patients with fractured ribs. A Connecticut hospice will use cannabis to  reduce its dependence on opioids.

Older adults are  using more cannabis, and binge drinking more too. Cannabis use  may not be a good idea for those seeking long-term abatement of depression and anxiety, Colorado researchers found.

Modern Farmer hangs out with  Bear Real, a Colorado hemp scientist.

Criminal Justice

President Obama  granted clemency to 231 individuals. His total of more than 1,300 sentence commutations totals more than his 11 predecessors combined. Here’s the story of one of them,  Paul Free, who was serving a life sentence and is now eligible for parole in 2020.

Obama also granted  78 “pre-Christmas” pardons.

Vox examines how Obama has  reshaped the war on drugs, and how that legacy is will be jeopardized under President Trump. For one thing, Obama tended not to use the term “War on Drugs.”

A court ruled that Arizona MED users  can’t be convicted of DUI without evidence of impairment.

A Colorado man who drove impaired and  killed a motorcyclist was sentenced to 10 months in jail and two years probation. 

A day after they opened, six unlicensed Cannabis Culture dispensaries were  raided and closed in Montreal. The 10 arrests included owner and “prince of pot” Marc Emery.

Culture

Spotted in D.C.: “ This is your brain on Jeff Sessions.

In Milton, Mass., a dispensary seeks to open in the historic “ Swift Hat Shop” building.

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News can get a little slow around the holidays, yes even this year, so here are a few of my favorite longer pieces from 2016. I'll post more next week. Additional suggestions, including self-nominations, are welcome.

Buzzfeed

Reveal

Activists Roll Joint, Offer Free Pot at Jeff Sessions Office as Threats Swirl to Legalization Framework
US News

And two by me:

Ebbu and the Rise and Fall of a Modern Weed Dealer
(The link is good for 48 hours. I'll be happy to send you a fresh one.)
Pando

Can Oakland, a new capital of legal weed, undo the injustices of the war on drugs?
California Sunday Magazine, with photos by Pulitzer prize winner Preston Gannaway.

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

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Bye,

Alex 

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