Newsletter #108

Peace gathering attracts Feds

Rainbow Family gathering, a peace festival, is being held in a national forest in Oregon this year. The U.S. government has taken this as a cue to to send federal prosecutors to the area. The group of assistant U.S. attorneys are preparing to process citations for the festival attendees, which begs the question: will federal marijuana law be enforced? Recreational cannabis is legal in Oregon, but remains illegal under federal law. If the Feds decide to bring pot-related charges against Rainbow visitors, this could make for a very different festival scene in the U.S.

Two studies clash on effects of legalization on car accidents

Two recent studies analyzed the occurrence of motor vehicle accidents in states where marijuana is legal. They came to two very different conclusions. One study by the American Journal of Public Health found no significant increase in motor vehicle fatalities in Colorado and Washington, where recreational cannabis is legal. In another study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, it was found that car insurance collision claims increased in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Learn more about these studies here.

Patients in pain prefer cannabis to opiates

HelloMD, the popular medical marijuana website, recently conducted a survey of nearly 3,000 medical cannabis patients. Among other findings, it was discovered that a vast majority of respondents prefer marijuana to prescription pills. Take that, Big Pharma!

Massachusetts rewriting legalization law

Massachusetts residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana last November, but the state government isn’t feeling it. In fact, Massachusetts lawmakers are rewriting the ballot initiative in a closed-door session. Yes, they are rewriting a law passed by voters. Ouch.

Nevada to start recreational marijuana sales

This weekend, Nevada will open its first recreational cannabis dispensaries. With Nevada’s booming tourism industry, legalized marijuana is expected to bring in as much as $150 million in two years for the state government. Get the details here.

Newsletter #107

How cannabis played into Philando Castile’s death

In case you missed it: police officer Jeronimo Yanez (a Latino man) shot Philando Castile (a black man) during a traffic stop in July 2016. Last week, a jury acquitted Yanez of manslaughter charges. A recently-released transcript shows that Yanez insisted the smell of cannabis coming from Castile’s vehicle was reason to believe he was a threat. The explanation is truly bizarre. Read more here.

Mexico legalizes medical marijuana

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that his government has legalized medical cannabis. The bill had massive support in Mexico’s congress and senate. Not too long ago, Peña Nieto was extremely opposed to legalizing marijuana. After paying attention to the activism and dialogue about marijuana throughout Mexico, he had a change of heart. Well done.

Cannabis companies turn to Bitcoin

Because of marijuana’s federally illegal status, banks and credit companies stay away from the industry. This forces many cannabis-related businesses to operate as cash-only enterprises, which is kind of a nightmare. Now, some businesses are starting to use Bitcoin, the infamous digital currency, to manage their money. Learn more here.

Artists toke up to create pot labels

Do you choose your cannabis based on the packaging? Check out 1964 Supply Co.’s Artist Series, which features the work of nine artists. The artists assigned to their particular strain designed the stunning label while high on that strain. Genius.

Majority of Americans want Trump to leave legal marijuana alone

According to a new poll from Survey USA, 76 percent of American adults want President Donald Trump to respect state cannabis laws. Do you think he’ll listen?

Newsletter #106

Sessions asks Congress to let him go after medical marijuana

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, passed in 2014, prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent states from implementing their own marijuana laws. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is asking Congress to undo these protections, according to a letter that recently became public. His reasoning? The drug epidemic. Maybe he doesn’t know that the current, horrifying drug epidemic relates to opiates.

Luckily, Scientific American published a great article that lays out the facts of the epidemic, and how places with legalized cannabis actually have lower rates of opioid overdose death. Someone send this article to Sessions, quick!

Medical cannabis on hold in Hawaii

Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical cannabis 17 years ago. Dispensaries weren’t legalized until 2015, and weren’t permitted to open until July 2016. Now, some dispensaries are finally open, but they’re not allowed to sell their products. This is because the state has not certified any labs to run required safety tests. This leaves Hawaii’s 17,000 registered patients to grow their own marijuana or buy it on the black market. Get it together, Aloha State.

Federal medical marijuana bill reintroduced

A bill known as the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act has been reintroduced. This bill would amend federal law to officially allow states to implement and govern their own medical marijuana policies. It would also allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis to their patients. With a bipartisan group of senators and representatives behind it, there’s hope.

California decides on legal cannabis regulations

California’s recently-announced state budget agreement also contains provisions for the legal cannabis industry. One of the more interesting points is that state regulators would need to come up with a certification process for organic marijuana. Learn more about the regulations here.

Dennis Rodman, North Korea and PotCoin

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has once again made news with another trip to North Korea. This journey is sponsored by PotCoin, a digital currency for the marijuana industry. PotCoin has nothing to do with North Korea and simply appears to be seeking publicity. It worked.

Newsletter #105

Rhode Island’s proposal to legalize marijuana

Two Rhode Island lawmakers introduced a unique recreational cannabis bill. In short, adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. An advisory panel would be established in order to provide recommendations on how to organize a legal retail trade in the future. It’s legalization, but it holds off on the bureaucratic mess of setting up legal dispensaries. Interesting.

Spain is growing Europe’s cannabis

Spain has long been known for being Europe’s point of entry for hashish coming in from Morocco. Now, it’s looking like the country has increased its own marijuana production. In fact, cannabis production in Spain has skyrocketed in recent years. Recent police busts have revealed massive amounts of marijuana heading from Spain to other parts of Europe. Someone’s gotta do it.

Colorado adds PTSD as medical marijuana condition

Post-traumatic stress disorder has been added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Colorado. Veterans have been fighting for this inclusion for years. If you think this isn’t that big of a deal, know that this is the first new condition added since the state’s medical marijuana program began in 2001. Learn more here.

Cannabis may help destroy tumors

Researchers at St. George’s, University of London found that using concentrated marijuana in conjunction with chemotherapy resulted in greater death of cancer cells. They also discovered that using medical cannabis after chemotherapy is more effective at killing cancer cells than using it before. Now you know.

Pot pizza

Do you like the idea of edibles, but aren’t into the usual high-sugar offerings? Take a trip to Quincy, Massachusetts, where one medical marijuana dispensary is offering cannabis-infused pizza. Check it out here.

Newsletter #104

Ohioans seeking Michigan marijuana

Ohio’s medical cannabis law was approved last year, but dispensaries in the state won’t open for quite some time. Some Ohioans with doctor-issued marijuana recommendations have decided not to wait around for their local dispensary to open. They’re opting to venture into neighboring Michigan, where certain dispensaries will sell to these out-of-staters. Learn more about this way around waiting here.

Colorado’s weed windfall

Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado signed a budget bill that directs how the state’s marijuana tax money will be spent. Colorado brought in over $105 million in cannabis taxes in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Much of the money will go toward schools, healthcare, low-income housing and oversight of the marijuana industry. Fingers crossed that other states take note.

Effects of mixing cannabis and tobacco

A new study from University College London examined how marijuana and tobacco interact when mixed together. The takeaway? Smoking tobacco with cannabis does not improve the high, is worse for physical health and is better for memory. Check out the findings here.

VA Secretary on medical marijuana

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said that the VA is very open to the possibility of letting veterans use medical marijuana. He also said that federal law prevents the VA from seriously looking into this option. Are you listening, President Trump?

High Times sells majority stake

High Times, the infamous marijuana brand, is selling a 60% majority stake for roughly $42 million to investment firm Oreva Capital. Learn more about this deal here.

Newsletter #103

Marijuana breathalyzer gets high-profile funding

Hound Labs, a startup that makes a cannabis breathalyzer, just pulled in $8.1 million in funding. Who footed the bill? Benchmark Capital, which is the same venture firm that invested early on in Uber, Snap and Dropbox.

If you’re wondering why a breathalyzer that tests for marijuana is such a big deal, it’s because cannabis is notoriously difficult to test for during, say, a traffic stop. Most existing tests check for THC in body fluids, which can hang around for weeks after a person has last used cannabis. Founded by an emergency room doctor, Hound Labs is looking to produce a truly reliable breathalyzer for law enforcement to use. Launch is expected by the end of the year.

Pot parties for seniors

Can you imagine your grandparents visiting a cannabis dispensary? Probably not. Enter Octavia Wellness, a startup that focuses on bringing pot products to California’s senior communities. Employees educate residents on everything from the medical benefits of marijuana to how to use oils and tinctures to how to get a doctor’s recommendation. Learn more about these parties here.

Vermont governor vetoes recreational cannabis bill

Vermont recently became the first state to pass a recreational marijuana bill through both legislative chambers, which was pretty exciting. On Wednesday, Governor Phil Scott said he was vetoing the bill, which was a lot less exciting. Scott, a Republican, indicated that he was sending it back to the legislature for changes. There’s still hope.

Weed, California legalizes weed

Weed is a town in Northern California. Many jokes have been made about this. A couple weeks ago, the Weed City Council voted to allow medical marijuana within city limits. Insert pot joke here.

Marijuana is not the safest recreational drug

According to this year’s Global Drug Survey, magic mushrooms are the safest recreational drug. Cannabis is close behind. Check out the findings of the survey here.