Feds Seek Information From States On Legal Medical Marijuana Patients

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By Staff for WBZ. The federal government is asking the state of Massachusetts to turn over information on the 40,000 patients who were prescribed medical marijuana. The request coming from the White House’s National Marijuana initiative. Governor Baker says no information will be turned over to the federal government that will compromise patients. “We just got the request. We won’t do anything that is going to violate anybody’s privacy. I can promise you that,” Baker said. Massachusetts isn’t the only state that has been contacted by the federal government. So far the state has complied and given general information like the age of the patient and date of the prescription, but not information on medical conditions. The state says that data could actually be used to identify the patient.

The Great Pot Monopoly Mystery

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By Amanda Chicago Lewis for GQ. The search for the hidden forces that might soon control the marijuana industry began, as many wild journeys do, in Las Vegas. It was last November, and I was party-hopping at the biggest weed-business gathering of the year, a week of overlapping conferences and decadent soirees. I was a few blocks off the Strip, celebrating a new line of bongs and pipes in a penthouse with chandeliers and dark-wood furniture, when I happened to meet a faunlike 40-something man named after a character from The Jungle Book: Mowgli Holmes. Holmes had something he needed to get off his chest—a quagmire that had been keeping him up at night for the better part of a year. He was soft-spoken but had an earnest intensity that made me lean in to hear him.

Marijuana Arrest Capital, NYC Police Focus On Black People

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images. The Legal Aid Society’s database already contains information about accusations of wrongdoing against some 3,000 NYPD officers, and is being used regularly by its lawyers.

By Phillip Smith for AlterNet – Last month, the Drug Policy Alliance released a report noting that marijuana arrests under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continue to be marked by shocking racial disparities, much as they were under his predecessors, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. Stung by the criticism, de Blasio is fighting back, but his response so far has consisted of attacking DPA as “legalizers” and comparing apples to oranges. The DPA report, Unjust and Unconstitutional: 60,000 Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s New York,noted that while pot possession arrests are down under de Blasio from the numbers achieved under Giuliani (more than 40,000 arrests in 2001) or Bloomberg (more than 50,000 arrests in 2011), NYPD still arrested more than 18,000 people for pot possession last year, and a whopping 86% of them were black or brown, maintaining the racial disparities so apparent in earlier administrations. That’s “a far cry from the mayor’s pledge to rein in NYPD’s targeting of people of color,” charged DPA New York State director Kassandra Frederique in the report. That de Blasio had managed to bring pot arrests down to an average of only 20,000 a year during his tenure shouldn’t be portrayed as progress, argued Frederique, instead describing it as “slower injustice, but slower injustice is still injustice delivered.”

Massachusetts Governor Signs Bill To Allow Recreational Pot

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By Reid Wilson for The Hill – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has signed a new measure that sets in motion a nearly yearlong process to legalize marijuana for recreational use, after months of negotiations with the state legislature. The law comes nine months after voters in Massachusetts and three other states approved ballot measures to allow recreational marijuana. The first recreational pot shops are set to open in July 2018. “We appreciate the careful consideration the legislature took to balance input from lawmakers, educators, public safety officials and public health professionals, while honoring the will of the voters regarding the adult use of marijuana,” Baker said in a statement. The new legislation makes significant changes to the initiative Bay State voters passed last year, increasing sales taxes on legal marijuana from 12 percent to 20 percent. The state will levy a 17 percent tax, while municipalities will issue their own 3 percent tax. Massachusetts anticipates generating as much as $83 million in tax revenue from marijuana sales during the first year of legalization alone, the state Department of Revenue estimated earlier this year. Sales during the second year are expected to top out at more than $1 billion, generating tax revenue of up to $200 million.

Colorado’s Marijuana Tax Revenue Now Exceeds Half A Billion Dollars

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State Rep. Jonathan Singer (D) accepts a novelty check for half a billion dollars from “The Cannabis Community” on Wednesday.

By Ryan Grenoble for The Huffington Post – In the three-and-a-half years since the state began allowing adults to purchase marijuana for recreational use, cannabis has contributed more than half a billion dollars in tax revenue to both state and local coffers. That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the Denver-based marijuana consulting firm VS Strategies. Based on data from the Colorado Department of Revenue, the firm tabulated that cannabis-related taxes from 2014 through mid-2017 totaled $506,143,635. That includes the taxes on purchases of marijuana for recreational or medical use, as well as fees paid by cannabis businesses. The tax figure is substantially more than some experts predicted in 2012 when Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana. At that time, some analysts projected the state would net between $5 and $22 million a year in taxes. VS Strategies spotlighted its report by presenting an oversize check for half a billion dollars Wednesday to Colorado state Rep. Jonathan Singer (D). A majority of money has gone to fund K-12 education (even with that, Colorado’s education funding badly lags behind most of the rest of the country). Amendment 64 requires the first $40 million in tax revenue be allotted for school construction.

Marijuana Legalization Is Decreasing Violent Crime In Border States

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A new study found that states with legalized medical marijuana in 2013 saved $165.2 million in national Medicare program and enrollee spending.

By W. E. Messamore for IVN – In a paper published by The Economic Journal last month, a study by the Norwegian School of Economics in partnership with the Pennsylvania State University Department of Sociology and Criminology, found that marijuana legalization has led to a decrease in violent crime in U.S. states that border Mexico. Over the past several years, sweeping reforms to marijuana policies have reached a tipping point with legal medical marijuana now in more states (currently 29) than those that continue to prohibit the sale and consumption of the plant for medical or recreational purposes. The paper‘s authors say that not only is there a strong reduction in violent crime related to illegal drug trafficking in states and counties that border Mexico, but that when an inland state legalizes medical marijuana, there is a measurable reduction in violent drug trafficking crimes in the nearest border state: “We show that the introduction of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) leads to a decrease in violent crime in states that border Mexico. The reduction in crime is strongest for counties close to the border (less than 350km), and for crimes that relate to drug trafficking. In addition, we find that MMLs in inland states lead to a reduction in crime in the nearest border state.”

Nevada Becomes Fifth State Where You Can Buy Legal Marijuana

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By Matt Ferner , Nick Wing for Huff Post. Adults who are at least 21 years old can now legally purchase recreational marijuana from select retail shops in Nevada. Sales began just after midnight on Saturday. There are a total of 44 licensed dispensaries around the state open for business so far, according to the Nevada Department of Taxation, which oversees the industry. Thirty-three shops in Las Vegas and four shops in Reno are among those that have licenses. Nevada joins Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska in rejecting marijuana prohibition and legalizing the sale of weed for recreational purposes. A total of eight states ― along with the District of Columbia, which does not allow sales ― have already enacted laws to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana. Licensed dispensaries are expected to open for business next year in California, Maine and Massachusetts.

Small Marijuana Growers Create Marijuana Coops To Scale Up

Amber and Casey O’Neil, founders of the 40-member Emerald Grown cooperative, help independent farmers lower their costs by working together. (James Tensuan for Leafly)

By Paul Roberts for Leafly – Markets, like ecosystems, respond to massive disruption with a wave of experimentation and adaptation—and that’s certainly been the story in California’s cannabis sector. Ever since legalization upended the decades-old status quo, players have scrambled to develop new business strategies to exploit the chaos—or simply survive it. By coordinating harvests and pooling crops, co-op members can deliver the bulk shipments that wholesalers increasingly demand. Some, like Jai Malloy, have scaled up. Others, like Sam Edwards in Sonoma, have moved to the other end of the scale continuum with a “craft” strategy. Yet the reality is that many existing cannabis farmers lack the resources or expertise to carry off either of these strategies—or, at least, carry it off all on their own. For many of these growers, the solution has been a strategy that borrows from both large- and small-scale producers—the cannabis co-operative. A case in point is Emerald Grown, a forty-member co-operative located in the town of Laytonville, in the Emerald Triangle’s Mendocino County. Founded three years ago by farmers Amber and Casey O’Neill, the co-operative follows a strategy of adaptive mimicry: using collective action to achieve the scale efficiencies of larger operators. By sharing seeds, expertise, and other resources, for example, co-op members can significantly boost their individual yields.

Police Searches Plummet In States That Legalize Weed, But…

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By Andy Campbell for the Huffington Post. Marijuana is often used as a tool by police officers to search your car. In many cases, the mere odor of weed serves as probable cause to pull you over and rifle through your belongings. States that have decriminalized it are still grappling with the legality of using marijuana for warrantless searches. In the case of Philando Castile, who was shot to death by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop last year, we saw the devastating effects the smell of marijuana can have on an officer’s perception of motorists. Though marijuana is decriminalized to some degree in the state, St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez would later tell investigators that he thought he was in danger because he smelled weed. It may come as no surprise, then, that states that have legalized marijuana are seeing a dramatic decline in warrantless searches.

Jeff Sessions Eyes Crackdown On Medical Marijuana, But Federal Policy Remains Unclear

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By Mike Ludwig for Truthout – The Trump administration’s policy toward legal marijuana began to emerge from the fog this week, and it appears that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his underlings remain more interested in orchestrating law enforcement crackdowns than in the current scientific understanding of cannabis. Sessions wants greater freedom to prosecute medical marijuana businesses and patients in states where the drug is a legal medicine. Federal authorities allege that “dangerous drug traffickers” and international “criminal organizations” cultivate marijuana under state medical marijuana laws and sell it in states where the drug is still illegal, according to a May 1 letter from Sessions to members of Congress obtained this week by the Massroots.com and The Washington Post. Sessions’ assistant attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, told members of Congress on Tuesday that the Department of Justice would continue a policy on state-legal marijuana adopted in 2013 by the Obama administration, at least for the near future. That policy, as laid out in 2013 by the famous Cole memo, has allowed recreational and medical marijuana businesses to operate in states where legalization has taken hold, despite ongoing federal prohibition.

Study: Legal Pot Will Boost California Economy By $5 Billion

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By Andrew Buncombe for Independent – The economy of California – poised to create a market for legal marijuana – could see its economy boosted by as much as $5bn, according to a new study. The report by the University of California Agricultural Issues Centre, says that the legalisation of the drug will provide the state a further reason for tourists – or at least some tourists – to visit. Yet it also warns that around 30 per cent of people who use cannabis may remain in the illegal market, in order to avoid the financial impact of regulations that require marijuana to be tested, tracked and taxed at 15 per cent of its retail value. The Los Angeles Times said that state officials developing the regulations, hope they will be able to persuade the majority of cannabis users to go through the legal market. Lori Ajax, director of the state Bureau of Marijuana Control, which commissioned the report, told the newspaper: “It’s going to take some time. While it’s unlikely that everyone will come into the regulated market on Day One, we plan to continue working with stakeholders as we move forward to increase participation over time.”

New Study: Artificial Intelligence Will Alter Humankind In 10 Years

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By Lee Camp for Redacted Tonight. Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp has the latest on an impending crisis robots are causing. As jobs are rapidly becoming automated, what will it mean the society of workers made of flesh and blood and not controlled by a processor? Robots are climbing the ladder and will soon take over more mortal jobs. Though it may not be hard to imagine that cashiers will disappear, with self check out already around the corner, there are also white collar jobs at risk. With this imminent job loss, what on Earth can we do as a society to take on skyrocketing unemployment? Lee gets into why the growth of artificial intelligence doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world if we harness these changes the right way. Then to Europe.

DOJ’s Mysterious Marijuana Subcommittee

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By Steven Nelson for US News – Led by an outspoken legalization opponent, Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department is reviewing federal marijuana policy, with significant changes possible soon. Almost nothing about the review process is publicly known and key players in the policy debate have not been contacted. The outcome of the review could devastate a multibillion-dollar industry and countermand the will of voters in eight states if the Obama administration’s permissive stance on non-medical sales is reversed. What is known: The review is being conducted by a subcommittee of a larger crime-reduction task force that will issue recommendations by July 27. The subcommittee was announced in April alongside other subcommittees reviewing charging and sentencing. The task force is co-chaired by Steve Cook, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tennessee who like Sessions advocates harsh criminal penalties and a traditional view of drug prohibition. The other co-chair is Robyn Thiemann, a longtime department official who works as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy. The marijuana subcommittee is led by Michael Murray, counsel to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, U.S. News has learned.

The Astounding Size Of The Marijuana Economy

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By Phillip Smith for AlterNet. Marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in nearly 30 (although often under quite restrictive regulatory schemes). Between the two, legal weed is generating total annual sales of between $4 billion and $4.5 billion. But legal marijuana sales are dwarfed by sales in the black market, which according to a recent report in Marijuana Business Daily, accounts for about 10 times the size of the legal market, or about $45 billion to $50 billion. While that’s still only about half the size of the legal beer and tobacco market, it is nothing to sneeze at, and it puts marijuana well ahead of some major American economic sectors. Here are 10 products or services already being surpassed by pot, with the first five being smaller than the legal market and the second five being smaller than the estimated overall market, including both licit and illicit markets.

Officials In Obama’s Drug Czar Office Wanted To Decriminalize Marijuana

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So close, President Obama, but so far.

By Jason Cherkis for The Huffington Post – WASHINGTON ― Officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Barack Obama wanted to take a more lenient stance on marijuana, with one former official telling HuffPost that staff pushed to ease federal prohibitions against the drug. But they never made that case directly to the public. “ONDCP was in favor of decriminalizing but not legalizing,” explained former deputy director A. Thomas McLellan, who worked in the White House office during Obama’s first term. Such a policy shift could have given a shot of momentum to efforts to relax marijuana laws across the country. But it never happened, in large part because officials were worried it would consume the office at a time when they needed to focus on the more pressing issue of the opioid epidemic. The Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is more commonly known as the drug czar’s office, also determined that it couldn’t publicly support decriminalizing marijuana because of a provision in the legislation that authorized its existence. The bipartisan 1988 law that created the drug czar’s office declared that “the legalization of illegal drugs is an unconscionable surrender in the war on drugs.”