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Here's the news:

Politics

Officials in the Obama Administration wanted to move towards decriminalizing, but never made the case to the public.

A court order and a showdown in the legislature involving pot taxes could delay Nevada REC sales, which were expected to begin July 1.

It’s unclear whether the Vermont legislature will pass REC during its special session. State attorney general T.J. Donovan doesn’t want to rush it. For more see here.

Delaware lawmakers could vote on REC legalization as early as this month.

The Florida legislature will address MED regulation in a special session this week.

The deadline is June 30 to apply for one of Ohio’s 12 MED growing licenses. In the meantime, Ohioans are buying MED in Michigan.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper raised the state sales tax on weed from 10% to 15%. Oregon officials aren’t impressed by the taxes cannabis generates. Alaska’s cannabis tax revenue has fallen short of projections.

Hawaii’s first MED dispensary will open this week without anything on sale, due to unclear regulations. It will be offering patient education and community outreach.

Canada may face a weed shortage ahead of legalizing next year. The country’s obligations to three UN drug control treaties are a headache for the Liberal Party government. And even some in the industry think Canada is rushing to legalize.

Police reform activist Robert Gangi is challenging New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for the Democratic Party nomination. Ending cannabis arrests and “broken windows” policing is a major part of Gangi’s platform. The primary is in September. Street stops by New York cops have already “plummeted” the N.Y. Times reports.

Alabama Senate candidate Dom Gentile (R) supports MED. He’s “strictly opposed” to REC.

Australia’s first MED crop appears likely to be planted imminently. Meanwhile, imported MED is “sitting in warehouses” inaccessible to patients.

The Guardian visits Uruguay, the only country to fully legalize.

Business

A consortium of 20 investors has acquired 60% of High Times in a deal that values the media and conference brand at $70M. The lead investor is venture capitalist Adam Levin through his firm Oreva Capital. Investors also include musician, entrepreneur and son of Bob, Damian Marley, and Denver cannabis entrepreneur Ean Seeb. 

"High Times, to me, is the Coca-Cola of the industry," Levin told Business Insider.

High Times was founded in 1974 as a counterculture magazine and has more recently found success online and by hosting Cannabis Cup events. It moved from New York to L.A. in January. For Tech Crunch’s take, see here.

“Worried HT sold out?” journalist Kristen Gwynne tweeted, “Hightimes Holding Corp has a Marley here to assure you their subversive image is integral to their business model.” She also notes that the company has “more investors than staff writers.”

Bloomberg notes that cannabis companies raised $734M between January 1 and 4/20, up from $108M last year.

Canadian producer MedReleaf raised C$100.7 in the biggest cannabis IPO yet. Vice notes that almost all of the 45 licensed MED producers in Canada are run by white men.

Large Canadian MED producer Aurora is funding a patient’s legal fight to get his medicine covered by insurance.

Women are driving CBD sales in Illinois.

Some states are trying to encourage people of color to start cannabis businesses. For more see here.

New York state gave conditional approval to five new operators, doubling the state’s total. Existing licensees are suing the state not to expand.

Shark Tank entrepreneur Kevin Harrington has joined the board of Rocky Mountain High Brands, which analyst Alan Brochstein calls a “dicey” penny stock.

A New Mexico MED producer is suing the state fair for its refusal to let the company display its products at the upcoming event.

Equities.com asks if cannabis is the “new ‘alternative’ alternative investment.

I wrote up a few significant May deals for Blunt Network.



                                                                      
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Health and Science

Stars and Stripes visits the troubled Arizona study looking into whether MED relieves PTSD in veterans. Psychiatrist Dr. Sue Sisley, who fought for seven years to begin the study said using cannabis from the only federally legal pot grow, is like “trying to cook a four-star meal using Vienna sausages.” Partner Johns Hopkins University dropped out of the study in March.

VA Secretary David Shulkin said he’s open to an American Legion proposal to decriminalize and study the plant as medicine.

The New England Journal of Medicine says non-psychoactive cannabinoids “could provide a powerful new tool” to stop opioid addiction.

A California bill would limit kids’ exposure to cannabis ads, including online.

VA Secretary David Shulkin said he’s open to an American Legion proposal to decriminalize and study the plant as medicine.

The federal government makes it “ridiculously hard” to study the connection between MED and gun violence, according to Scientific American.

Reveal reports that some for-profit “diversion programs” that can offer a mandatory alternative to a drug felony in some states, are failing their clients.

Tangentially related to cannabis, Congressional Republicans are trying to dismantle the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ohio is suing several large pharmaceutical companies for causing the opioid epidemic. State attorney general Mike DeWine (R) spoke about the case to the Columbus Dispatch.

Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin and former “table pounding crusader for the government’s war on drugs”  supports MED after seeing her daughter, who has a neurological disorder, benefit from CBD.

U.S. cannabis policy and tobacco policy are diverging.

Inverse looks at the science of weed hangovers.

The New Yorker visited West Virginia, which has the country’s highest overdose death rate in the country.


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Criminal Justice

Back from parental leave, the Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham has a long post on how U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ratcheted up drug enforcement. It concludes that the administration considers drug use “a crime to be policed and punished, rather than a public health problem.”

Under fire for his advocacy of mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders, Sessions apparently improvised by saying the policy is really about guns.

In March I argued in Slate that Sessions will probably not go after state legal businesses. While Sessions’ favored policies appear designed to send more cannabis users to prison and abandon more opioid addicts, the political dynamics that I believed would protect the industry remain in place.   

California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, an ally of cannabis and President Trump, said Sessions is “not a monster.” “He’s a guy who thinks he’s doing well by helping other people from being addicted to opiates because marijuana leads to opiates,” Rohrabacher said. "Well, I gotta have a nice talk with him and say, 'No, marijuana does not lead to opiates.’”

A Marine veteran in Oklahoma who was facing life in prison for growing six plants will not have to go to prison following a public outcry.

Sessions could be swept up in special council Robert Mueller’s investigation of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, the AP reported.

Lawsuits filed by former cops in Cheverly, Md. alleged, among other violations, that Police Chief Harry “Buddy” Robshaw instructed “his white officers that if they saw a black person outside late at night they were to stop the person and ascertain why they were in the town of Cheverly." Robshaw also allegedly ordered his cops that “if there is more than one black person in a car there is marijuana present and they should investigate.”  

The U.S. Supreme Court made it more difficult to sue police who barge into houses after being provoked.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the confiscation of a grandmother’s house after her son sold a small amount of marijuana. Elizabeth Young, 72, has been fighting the case for seven years.

Detroit shut down 167 illegal pot shops, about half the city’s total.

Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen argues that, “Trump’s entire administration can be understood through the lens of his weird, consistent, unwavering adherence to a 1980s concept of the War on Drugs.

Some Congressional Republicans are pushing for tougher minimum sentencing laws. Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R), who’s working on the legislation had previously supported reducing mandatory minimums.

The Secret Service is loosening restrictions on past marijuana use, in line with other federal law enforcement agencies.

An appeals court upheld the conviction and life without parole sentence for Ross Ulbricht, who founded the dark web drug marketplace Silk Road.

It’s fairly common for Colorado weed to leak into illegal out of state markets.

Despite a ballot measure to regulate the industry, I found that L.A. cannabis businesses still fear raids by local authorities. There have been raids in Mendocino Co., Calif. ahead of new regulations.

A California bill would make it an infraction to use cannabis in a motor vehicle. Tougher DUI laws already exist in the state. A California lawyer argues that legalization could lead to an increase in police searches.

The California state Assembly passed a bill that would bar state and local law enforcement from assisting federal enforcement of marijuana laws.

While border agents sometimes ban Canadians from entering the U.S. if they’ve admitted to past marijuana use, they appear not to ban Mexicans for the same reason.

Australian woman Schapelle Corby arrived home in Brisbane after serving a twelve and a half year sentence in Indonesia for smuggling weed into that country. Her case received extensive media coverage and were a point of contention between the countries.

Product reviews:

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Culture

The Grow Off, a Colorado contest that judges entrants on their lab results, rather than their marketing budgets, is coming to southern California.

Amazon advertised its new documentary “Long Strange Trip: The untold story of the Grateful Dead” in dispensaries.

Leafly calls a virtual train ride “the ultimate stoned staycation.”

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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Alex 


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