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Lot's of news:

Authorities in Minnesota are investigating whether a MED producer sent $500,000 worth of cannabis oil to New York to meet the state’s production deadline. Parent company Vireo Health said the oil had been destroyed and it’s confident that the investigation, initiated by a tip from a former employee, will come up empty. Vireo, which describes its products as “pharmaceutical-grade cannabis-derived medicine” has raised more than $20 million.

In Michigan, advocates submitted signatures for a 2016 REC initiative. In response to pro-cannabis and anti-fracking activists, Michigan’s Republican controlled Senate passed a bill that could keep the groups’ initiatives off the ballot. It’s not clear whether Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will sign.

With Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) poised to legalize MED, activists who’d supported a more liberal ballot initiative wonder what’s next. Rhode Island cannabis activists want the state legislature to vote on REC.

The 2016 presidential candidates are likely the most pro-cannabis slate ever. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, served briefly as CEO of a Nevada MED company and is a user, even admitting that he transported Colorado product across state lines. “I’m one of the 100 million Americans that do this. If that disqualifies me from being president, so be it,” he said.

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s anti-pot views may be “ evolving.”

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts opposes the state’s 2016 REC initiative. Dispensaries in the state are on watch after a few forced low-income patients onto waiting lists, delaying their access for months.

This week in tax court, Harborside Health Center will challenge 280E, a provision which taxes cannabusinesses at a higher rate than other businesses. Ending 280E is among the industry’s top policy priorities. Lawyer Henry Wykowski previously represented the country’s largest dispensary in a four-year civil forfeiture case that the federal government eventually dropped.

SAM Action, the political organization associated with anti-legalization activist Kevin Sabet, said it has raised $300,000 to fight the 2016 REC ballot initiatives. SAM Action also wants to persuade city councils to oppose legalization. A new group led by Scott Gagnon, will fight Maine’s REC initiative. (See the WeedWeek interview with Sabet below.)

A study found that chronic cannabis use is about as dangerous as not flossing. In Canada, Sun Life will consider MED users non-smokers when assessing their life insurance premiums.

Pro-legalization New Jersey State Senator Nick Scutari (D) is planning a “reconnaissance” visit to Colorado to try pot for the first time.

Investor network ArcView says it has facilitated $70 million worth of investment into 111 cannabusinesses.

A Yale researcher will study how cannabis affects the brain differently in women and men. University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers are a step closer to studying hemp.

Marijuana Business Daily spoke to lawyer Ariel Clark about L.A.’s huge and chaotic industry. MBD’s magazine spoke to Genifer Murray about the collapse of her Denver company CannLabs.

Charges were dropped against Katie Darovitz, an Alabama mom with epilepsy who used MED during her pregnancy, after doctors said her prescriptions could cause birth defects or miscarriage. The process has been a 16-month ordeal. Darovitz tested positive while in the hospital giving birth and she police arrested her two weeks later. Alabama has the toughest criminal endangerment law in the country. If convicted, Darovitz could have faced 10 years.

Pennsylvania has legalized MED, but it’s still illegal for attorneys to counsel clients who hope to produce the state’s supply. Illinois expanded its MED program.

Edible sales began in Oregon. A Willamette Week writer celebrated with a two-day binge.

Sue Taylor, a retired, African-American school principal in Berkeley, evangelizes seniors on the benefits of cannabis use. I wrote a story for Rolling Stone about “ The Marijuana Show,” inevitably called “the ‘Shark Tank’ of weed,” and thought hosts Wendy Robbins and Karen Paull could have a similar role.

The Stranger asks: “Why is the marijuana movement filled with straight white dudes?”

Israeli company Panaxia has partnered with New Mexico-based Ultra Health to build a MED processing plant. Israel may decriminalize.

Inc. says U.S. cannabusinesses are going global.

Cannabis Wire interviews Dr. Charlie Pollack, director of the first of its kind Center for Medical Cannabis Education and Research at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Cannabis Wire, a start-up, has been doing great work. This week it also dives into the potency cap controversy and visits the first U.S. tribal owned and operated dispensary.

Jacob Sullum argues that teen use has declined as pot stigmatization has faded.

It’s harder for the poor to kick addictions. The new book “ Unbroken Brain” by Maia Szalavitz says the perception that addicts must hit bottom before they can recover is wrong and dangerous.

Possession arrests are climbing in New York City. A bill passed the California State Assembly (the lower house) that would create a new license for “micro” MED growers with less than 500 square feet of indoor space.

Between 2000 and 2008, the U.S. government spent $4.3 billion trying to wipe out Colombia’s cocaine industry. According to a new economic analysis, crop eradication efforts cost $940,000 to eliminate 1 kilogram from the U.S. market. Efforts to disrupt distribution cost $175,000 per kilo. Achieving the same result through drug treatment cost between $12,500 and $70,000.

U.K. bookie Ladbrokes is taking bets at 3/1 that the country will legalize by 2026.

For the cooks, High Times investigates which fat (olive oil, avocado oil etc.) best absorbs THC. Leafly compares growing techniques in the U.S. and Europe.

Scientists have identified a new terpene that’s most prevalent in Moroccan hash.

Six Indiana churchgoers were hospitalized after eating cookies that tested positive for THC. They ranged in age from 12 to 70.

Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, the first active NFL player to call for MED access, said he’s not worried about repercussions from his activism. "My health and wellness future as a father [and] as a friend is far more important," he said. (Last week I misspelled Monroe’s name and regret the error.)

Whoopi Goldberg’s new cannabis venture has reportedly endangered her spot on The View, the ABC daytime show.

Harambe, a male gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo was killed to prevent him from hurting a boy who got into his enclosure. In Harambe’s honor, here are some gorilla pieces from Firefly Glass, which seems to specialize in them.

In a first for WeedWeek, I spoke to anti-legalization activist Kevin Sabet, head of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), about his plans for the election. (The transcript has been edited for length and clarity.)

WeedWeek: What’s the plan you're rolling out.
Kevin Sabet: The last couple of months SAM’s sister organization, SAM Action, which is a political advocacy group, has been quietly raising money to support the different statewide campaigns we feel are most likely to vote down legalized marijuana in November. We announced this week a $300,000 fundraising round, which isn't a ton of money compared to the deep pockets of the marijuana industry, but it's certainly not trivial.

We are now even getting calls from folks who don't fancy themselves as anti-drug activists, but they're seeing what's happening in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. They're concerned about high potency edible marijuana as well as concentrates. They're concerned about car crashes and about the massive marketing campaigns to kids, especially of edibles. 

Why did you choose Las Vegas and Los Angeles to open field offices?
Our data show that those will be very important places in November. Los Angeles will determine whether or not California legalizes marijuana. Las Vegas’ Clark County is the most populous county by far in that state. We felt like we have very strong support in rural Nevada and Reno, but we know that haven't done as much outreach in Las Vegas, especially among the Hispanic population, which polls show oppose legalization between 60 and 70%. There are large Hispanic populations in Los Angeles and also in Las Vegas.

How would you characterize your donors?
They are all unknown individuals by their own admission. Not a penny from any kind of business, or corporate entity, or anything like that. These aren’t even law enforcement folks or rehab owners. These are moms and dads who have felt the effects of drug addiction in their families.

In Nevada, do expect support from [casino billionaire and sometime legalization opponent] Sheldon Adelson?
That's literally the $10 million question. I don't speak for him. I've had some discussions with people close to him, and we're keeping them aware of developments.

What do you see as the messages that are going to have the most traction for you?
It depends on where you are, but I think the idea of having a pot shop in your neighborhood selling marijuana gummy bears is not appealing. I think this issue of out-of-state corporate interests advertising and promoting marijuana in neighborhoods is very unpalatable for most communities.

We even have [marijuana users] who have reached out. They're disgusted at the way laws have been written to benefit the industry, and they're helping us. For example in Nevada, home grows within 25 miles of a pot shop will be criminalized. The old time marijuana hippies, I think, are finally realizing that they are being left out of the corporate machine that is now legalizing marijuana.

I’d like to talk to one of those people.
I don't know if they will.

What do you think a sensible marijuana policy in this country would look like five years from now?
It would look like removing criminal penalties for low-level use, but keeping some kind of sanction, perhaps an assessment, fine, etc., and also more education and prevention. I would not legalize marijuana in any way, shape or form.

As for medical purposes, I happen to subscribe to the radical idea that all medicines should be dispensed at pharmacies by doctors once they go through the scientific process to determine safety and efficacy. Sounds crazy, right? And for those who may benefit from some form of marijuana we could enroll them in special research programs.

So I see a sensible marijuana policy as one where the 8% of Americans who smoke once a month may not be given a criminal record, but at the same time if they're using in public or while they're driving or on the job, there would be consequences.

But right now, it’s a corporate free for all. And I think a backlash is coming. The question is not “if” but “when” that backlash will occur. 

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