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So much news:

Politics

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters to expect a federal crackdown on REC. The comments unsettled the industry.

President Trump “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them,” Spicer said.

“So I think there’s a big difference between medical marijuana, which states have a -- the states where it’s allowed, in accordance with the appropriations rider, have set forth a process to administer and regulate that usage, versus recreational marijuana,” Spicer continued. “That’s a very, very different subject.”

Asked what this would mean in terms of policy, he said “Well, I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it. Because again, there’s a big difference between the medical use which Congress has, through an appropriations rider in 2014, made very clear what their intent was in terms of how the Department of Justice would handle that issue.  That’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice I think will be further looking into.”  

Spicer also compared legalization to the opioid epidemic. See Spicer’s full comments here.

Later in the press conference Spicer invoked state’s rights in referring to the administration’s decision to drop an Obama directive that transgender students can use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity. He did not refer to states' rights in the context of marijuana.

The same day Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed President Obama’s policy not to incarcerate federal prisoners in private prisons. Private prisons are more dangerous than public ones  [Editorial: And morally indefensible] but Sessions said they are necessary to “meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.”

The Obama administration said it would stop using private prisons for federal prisoners last year after Mother Jones published a blockbuster story by Shane Bauer, who spent four months undercover as a private prison guard. It needs to be read, Mother Jones later noted, “by anyone who has ever wondered what hell might actually look like.” The story won this year’s National Magazine Award for reporting.
 
Drug Policy alliance urges those who want to end “the federal war on marijuana” to write to their Congressperson. There’s a White House petition to respect state marijuana laws.

A bill co-authored by northern California Assemblyman Jim Wood (D) would forbid local authorities from co-operating with the feds to prosecute state-legal activity.

The White House may ax its Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is led by the “drug czar.” The Fraternal Order of Police urged the administration to maintain the office.

So far this year, lawmakers in 17 states have introduced more than 20 bills to legalize REC.

U.S. Congressman Trent Franks (R) said a nuclear weapon could enter the U.S. smuggled in a bale of weed from Mexico.

Conservative Congressman Mark Sanford (R.-S.C.) supports states’ rights on marijuana. Sanford is also one of the few House Republicans openly opposed to Trumpism.

The Philippine foreign minister will tell the U.N.’s human rights organization that the thousands of killing attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war are not state sponsored. Duterte critic and senator Leila de Lima was arrested on charges that she accepted bribes from drug smugglers. She called the charges “lies.”

Veterans descended on Austin to demand MED access. Legalizing has never been more popular in Texas.

A pro-legal hemp petition reached 100,000 signatures on WhiteHouse.gov, which under a policy established by President Obama would guarantee a response from the administration. The petition is here.

The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that cities can regulate dispensaries.

Australia harvested it’s first MED in a secret location. It will be reserved for children with epilepsy.

By a slight majority, Dutch Parliamentarians voted to regulate cannabis grows. (The country’s famous coffee shops have operated in the grey market for decades.)

Home delivery could be coming to Colorado. Colorado Springs’ city government remains opposed to cannabis businesses.

A bill to provide work protections for legal cannabis use “ received an icy reception” in Oregon. NORML is creating a national “ Workplace Drug Testing Coalition” to focus on this issue.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) is in “ no rush” to legalize REC. State attorney general Peter F. Kilmartin (D), a former cop, actively opposes legalization.

Montana’s top election official, a Republican, opposes mail-in voting on grounds that “they do all-mail-in ballots and they're all-marijuana all-the-time states too. Is that what you want? Because that's what you're going to get."
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Business

A report from New Frontier Data anticipates cannabis creating more than 250,000 jobs by 2020. The same report predicts a legal U.S. market larger than $24 billion by 2024. The report is available here.

U.K. firm GW Pharma pushed back against a Leafly report that it is trying to monopolize CBD distribution in several states.

Shares in penny stock Cannabics Pharmaceuticals ( CNBX) attracted regulators after they spiked to an all-time high of $7.60 per share before crashing back. Analyst Alan Brochstein believes the run up was just “momentum trading” and that it’s a “worthless company.”

Financial firm ETF Managers Trust has filed to create a cannabis exchange traded fund called Emerging Agrosphere ETF. It will stay away from REC companies for now.

The FT asks how legalization will affect Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol.

In L.A. Weekly, I wrote about KushMoji, a company that thinks emojis are the future of cannabis marketing.

A Colorado judge found that “the actual legal process of the state issuing a water right to grow pot does not conflict with federal law, even though the watering itself of cannabis plants still may be in conflict.” 

Marijuana Business Daily interviewed Cowen’s Vivien Azer, the only known cannabis analyst at a major investment bank.

Canadian firm Namaste Technologies, a major vaporizer e-commerce company, said it would acquire Australian Vaporizers for approximately C$5.5M.

Front Range Biosciences, a Colorado biotech start-up that seeks to help growers produce healthier, more uniform plants raised $1.5M.

Alaska entrepreneurs pack product in their carry-on luggage for commercial flights across the huge state.

Orange County, Calif. employment lawyer Ron Brand discusses how legalization will affect the workplace.

Pennsylvania is accepting applications for business licenses. The Cleveland Cannabis College opened.

Health and Science

A study found that pot makes depression worse in rats. Another study found more ambiguous results in humans.

CBD by itself or in combination with THC might be a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s but much more study is needed.

A U.K. study found that high achieving students are more likely to drink and use cannabis and less likely to smoke cigarettes.

A remarkable video of Texas parents treating their severely autistic daughter with MED went viral.

The NY Times spoke to women who used cannabis during pregnancy, despite risks. The paper also spoke to seniors who are taking it up, like Ruth Brunn at 98.

The American Scientist has a video interview with George Weiblen, a University of Minnessota plant biology professor sometimes known as the “ professor of pot.

FiveThirtyEight looks into cannabis’s genetic diversity.

Colorado State University, Pueblo is hiring its first director for the Institute of Cannabis Research.

A California woman was denied a heart transplant because of her MED use.

Whether someone becomes addicted to opioids could depend on their first prescribing doctor, the NY Times reports.

Vice looks into the science of mixing booze and weed.

The Shaping Fire podcast spoke to neurologist and cannabinoid expert Dr. Ethan Russo.

An organization called High Sobriety suggests that cannabis is an “ exit drug” as opposed to a gateway drug.

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Criminal Justice

The DEA is hiring transport professionals in and around Phoenix and El Paso to move “ Bulk marijuana and other hazardous waste materials.

A “medieval-style” drug catapult was found mounted on the border wall near Tucson.

In Montana, a federal agent who had raided a MED provider last spring admitted he didn’t know how much product it could have on hand according to state law.

A judge allowed Ed Czuprynski, a Michigan criminal defense lawyer convicted after he crashed into a pedestrian, to use MED while on probation.

A U.K. raid found three Vietnamese teenagers working in “ slave-like conditions” in a raided grow house hidden in a former nuclear bunker.

Albania is in the midst of a cannabis growing crackdown. Italy blames Albania for sending it too much smuggled pot.

A Denver judge ruled that banning pot smoking in parks is unconstitutional, but the fight isn’t over.

Drug arrests are way up in Cambodia. London police are largely ignoring cannabis.

David Fox, a former war correspondent for Reuters, has been in custody in Indonesia for months after he was found in Bali with a small amount of hash.
Culture
An anti-Semitic site called The Daily Stormer suggests that opposition to AG Jeff Sessions’ drug policies is a Jewish conspiracy. Reporter Madison Margolin notes that this has roots at least as far as the beginning of the drug war. “You know it’s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish,” President Nixon said. “What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it’s because most of them are psychiatrists.”

(Disclosure: I’m Jewish and my father and sister are psychiatrists. While they are both supportive of my work, they're both skeptical about MED, as far as I know.)

If you need a break from these complex times, check out the BBC’s spectacular Planet Earth 2 wildlife documentary series. There’s no cannabis involved, unless you want there to be.

Anti-pot activists called for a T-Mobile boycott following the cellular provider’s suggestive super bowl ad.

It’s hard to find gardening tips in Maine or to grow outside in Alaska.

The Anchorage Daily News has more on the quest for legendary Alaskan strain Mattanuska Thunderfuck. “I took three puffs and walked right into a telephone pole,” says enthusiast Roger J. Cobb, who a local company has enlisted to find specimens.

The Onion reports a breakthrough in a 1976 pot possession case in Amarillo, Texas.

The U.K.’s Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol political party was fined £23,000 for “numerous failures” to comply with financial reporting. 

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. 

Want to reach a devoted audience of top cannabis professionals? Advertise in WeedWeek. Contact Adrienne Nascimento at  weedweekads@gmail.com  for details. 

Alex 

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