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Recommended readings: How to Build an Autocracy by David Frum in the new Atlantic. Nothing is True Everything is Possible: The surreal heart of the new Russia by Peter Pomerantsev. 

Here's the news:

President Trump nominated Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Tom Angell examines the conservative judge’s record for clues on how he views legalization. While Gorsuch has expressed a degree of impatience with the discrepancies in state and federal law, it’s not clear which he believes should take precedence.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sen. Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General in an 11-9 party line vote. He is expected to win confirmation from the Senate. Though Sessions is a prohibitionist who made no promises about allowing the industry to function, the National Cannabis Industry Association, did not oppose his nomination. I criticized NCIA in Slate a few weeks ago.

The L.A. Times asks if cannabis has grown “ too big to jail”?

Here are the first marijuana reform bills proposed in the new Congress.

Cannabis executives aren’t too concerned about a crackdown, USNews reports. And Canada’s liberal government says it’s moving forward with plans to legalize.

Oakland’s new “ czar of race and equity” has a report due out this month on the city’s cannabis industry. Last year, I wrote about Oakland’s attempt to create an equitable industry for California Sunday.

Pew examines the regulatory hurdles state-legal cannabis businesses face. The Cannifornian digs up nine ways federal cannabis laws limit the rights of legal state residents.

An Ohio panel questioned proposed license fees in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Maryland may award more MED licenses to promote diversity. Minnesota’s strict MED program is strapped for cash.

A bill in Oregon would ban marijuana tests as a condition of employment.

Massachusetts is exploring social use initiatives. So is Nevada. Alaska regulators rejected social use.

A bill would postpone Arkansas’ MED program until 180 days after it’s federally legal. There’s pushback in North Dakota as well.

Drug Policy Alliance founder and executive director Ethan Nadelmann is stepping down from the organization. In his farewell letter he writes that the Trump administration, “Will surely hamper our progress at the federal level but do little to undermine our progress and prospects in the states and cities where so much of our work has focused. And there are always, as we've learned from experience, unique opportunities that arise when our opposition is clearly defined and when it overreaches, as it inevitably will.

In 2013, Rolling Stone called Nadelmann “ the real drug czar” and “the most influential man in the battle for legalization.”

The Dutch may be on their way to formal legalization.


Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel (R-Alaska), and CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc. (OTC:CBDS), has netted more than $555,000 selling shares in the company. Analyst Alan Brochstein, who first reported the transaction at New Cannabis Ventures, said the proceeds “far exceed any economic value that has been created by the company, as CBDS reported sales of only $24,243 through the first three quarters of 2016.”

The Teamsters, and other special interests are arriving in Sacramento with thoughts on how to regulate marijuana.

Canadian Bioceuticals (CSE:BCC) acquired a group of companies in Arizona and the option to buy a licensed grow in North Las Vegas for $25 million.

Just like in legal industries, cannabis regulators are beginning to cash in as lobbyists. The industry is also stepping up campaign contributions in New Mexico.

In Canada, the smaller banks, which tend to have fewer U.S. ties, are snapping up cannabis clients.

Business is good at publicly-traded lawn-care company Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG) which is aggressively moving into hydroponics. The stock is trading near an all-time high.

Apple filed a patent for a vaporizer. It’s not clear whether the technology is related to cannabis, cars, “interactive holograms,” or something else.

The L.A. Times looks at the “ all-cash nightmare” of running a cannabis business.

An Oregon cannabis entrepreneur is organizing an industry conference in Germany. Canadian producer Tilray said it will export oil to Chile.

UC Davis is offering a “ physiology of cannabis” course. City College of San Francisco is designing a curriculum for students who want to work green.

In Santa Ana, Calif. legal dispensaries are suing the town’s 14 unlicensed dispensaries: “These facilities do not pay city taxes, provide proper on-site ventilation, which negatively affects the air of surrounding communities, and have not ensured their employees have undergone background checks,” a lawyer representing the plaintiffs said.

The defendants include Sky High Holistic, which made news in 2015 after a raid where police were caught snacking and mistreating an amputee. The police later argued, unsuccessfully, that since they believed they had disabled the video cameras on premises they should not be blamed for what a camera they failed to disable captured.

Cannabis investor Alain Bankier discusses the three attributes he looks for in founders.

Health and Science
A Colorado report is generally neutral to positive on the public health impact of legalization, possibly due to the state’s policy and education efforts. See the report here.

Crain’s New York looked at whether cannabis can mitigate the opioids crisis. West Virginia is thinking along similar lines. The Atlantic has more.

MED activists remain vocal in Georgia.

I wrote about MED for hospice patients in LA Weekly.
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Criminal Justice

A group of 14 district attorneys from several states are forming a cannabis policy group. Despite earlier reports, it’s not clear that the group has President Trump’s ear.

Colorado man Richard Kirk, who fatally shot his wife after eating an edible, has pleaded guilty to second degree murder. The Cannabis Business Alliance said it’s “relieved that after years of investigation and mental evaluations that Richard Kirk accepted responsibility for his actions.”

The DEA is adding three synthetics cannabinoids to its list of schedule I controlled substances.

Vox says the war on drugs made traffickers “ more ruthless.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) hopes Vice-President Mike Pence and attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) will lead on sentencing reform. Neither Pence nor Sessions is generally seen as a trailblazer in this area.

A Montana MED patient has asked a judge to review his upcoming felony case for growing. The case hinges on drying plants.

New Jersey is reconsidering how it tests for cannabis in people following a scandal.

In the Philippines, police say they are suspending their brutal drug war to “cleanse” “corrupt” police in the country. President Rodrigo Duterte enlisted the military to keep fighting, saying they would “ kill more.

Wars on drugs don’t work, The Diplomat says.

South Dakota lawmakers want to end the state’s “ possession by ingestion” law.

Now that Israel is on the brink of decriminalizing, Haaretz recounts why the country criminalized in the first place. 

Former NBA player Stephen Jackson said he occasionally smoked pot before games. In some cases, he believes it helped his play.  

Colorado agriculture officials are sharing their cannabis expertise with other states.

Sonoma Magazine says legalization will overhaul the northern California economy.

Despite warnings, dogs continue to eat pot.

L.A. grower Lowell Farms is offering a $400 cannabis bouquet for Valentine’s Day.

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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