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Marijuana wars: Violent Mexican drug cartels turn Northern California into ‘The Wild West’

12/17/21--Mexican drug cartels are muscling in on America's burgeoning multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry, illegally growing large crops in the hills and valleys of Northern California. The state legalized marijuana in 2016 for adult recreational use, yet the black market continues to thrive with thousands of illegal grows. Read

San Francisco suspends cannabis tax to combat illegal marijuana sales

12/1/21--San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance to suspend the city’s Cannabis Business Tax through the end of next year, in an attempt to curb illegal marijuana sales. According to Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the legislation’s author, suspending the city business tax through Dec. 31, 2022, would help support legal cannabis retailers as they struggle to compete with illegally sold cannabis. Read

Association of racial disparity of cannabis possession arrests among adults and youths with statewide cannabis decriminalization and legalization

10/29/21--In this case-control study of 43 US states with and without cannabis policy changes, decriminalization and legalization were associated with large reductions in race-based arrests among adults; however, the timing of effects suggests differential policy effects. Among youth, only decriminalization was associated with reductions in arrests and arrest disparities; cannabis arrests for adults and youth increased over time in states that did not implement a cannabis policy change. Read

Public health impacts to date of the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis use in the USA

11/3/21--This study leverages the decades-long experience of legalization in the U.S. to provide an overview of the associated changes in public attitudes, cannabis markets and adverse health effects. Read

State of Emergency declared for illegal marijuana growing operations

10/22/21--The Douglas County Board of Commissioners have unanimously declared a “State of Emergency” for illegal marijuana operations that are taking place locally. The move was made at Wednesday’s weekly business meeting due to what the Board said was “…the ever-increasing threat to the safety of our citizens, the environment, and our local enforcement communities regarding the overwhelming amount of illegal cannabis being produced, distributed and sold in Douglas County”. The declaration cited conditions that have resulted in the need for the local state of emergency. Read

California Senator explains next steps for psychedelics and broader drug reform after bill stalls

9/9/10--A bill to legalize the possession of psychedelics in California has been put on pause until next year, but the Senate sponsor, Sen. Scott Wiener (D), says the move is part of the “complicated legislative process” to get reform enacted—and he’s confident it will ultimately prevail. Sen. Wiener said that it took significant compromise both internally and externally to get the bill through the Senate and two Assembly committees before he ultimately decided to temporarily pull it last month to build broader support for passage next year. Read

Canadian cannabis industry ‘increasingly fragmented’ despite M&A

9/9/21--According to a report by Bank of Montreal analyst Tamy Chen, the Canadian cannabis industry is becoming more fragmented than ever, with the biggest licensed producers continuing to lose market share as a whole. Citing data from analytics firm Hifyre, the report notes that the top five licensed producers represented less than 40% of the Canadian market in August, down substantially from a year ago when the producers accounted for more than half of all retail sales. Read

The smoke clears: How Gov. Hochul’s cannabis regulators should approach their new jobs

9/5/21--Gov. Hochul filled openings atop the state’s new legal-marijuana bureaucracy. Former Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright will chair New York’s Cannabis Control Board, and ex-Drug Policy Alliance staffer Christopher Alexander will run the Office of Cannabis Management. In short, Alexander and Wright must behave more like the liquor or tobacco control authorities than craft beer or wine or tobacco enthusiasts. Read

Helena, Lewis & Clark country preparing for recreational marijuana sales

9/2/21--The start of recreational marijuana sales in Montana is less than four months away, and local governments are beginning to consider what options they have for regulating the expanding industry. Helena City commissioners supported moving forward with a review of zoning rules for marijuana, as well as city ordinances on smoking in public places, while Lewis and Clark County leaders say they haven’t started updating their own regulations for recreational marijuana. However, they have started looking at the possibility of adopting a local-option tax on marijuana sales. Read

New York Governor cannabis regulatory heads, senate confirms

9/2/21--Recently inaugurated New York Gov. Kathy Hochul nominated former Drug Policy Alliance staffer Chris Alexander for executive director of the new Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and former New York Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright for chair of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) during a special legislative session that convened Sept. 1. Hours after Hochul announced her picks to head the OCM and CCB, the Senate confirmed her appointees. Read

Cities grapple with what legal weed will mean

8/5/21--With five months until Montana’s adult-use marijuana market opens up, municipalities from Kalispell to Billings are figuring out what legal cannabis will look like in their communities. It’s now up to municipalities to figure out things like which zoning districts dispensaries will be allowed in and whether legal marijuana will be subject to local option sales taxes. Read

Illegal cannabis growers are stealing water amid California’s drought, officials say

7/28/21--Water thieves, many of them illegal marijuana growers, are tapping into fire hydrants and drilling unauthorized water wells, according to officials, threatening the water supply for residents. In a recent sting in Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles County, federal, state and local law enforcement officers disrupted hundreds of allegedly illegal marijuana cultivations in the area. Read

Impacts of marijuana legalization in Colorado

7/18/21--In 2013, following the passage of Amendment 64 which allows for the retail sale and possession of marijuana, the Colorado General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 13-283. This bill mandated that the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Public Safety conduct a study of the impacts of Amendment 64, particularly as these relate to law enforcement activities. This report seeks to establish and present the baseline measures for the metrics specified in S.B. 13-283 (C.R.S. 24-33.4-516). Read

Compliance with Cannabis Act regulations regarding online promotion among Canadian commercial cannabis-licensed firms

7/12/21--In this cross-sectional study of 261 Canadian cannabis-licensed firms, widespread violations were observed in online Canadian cannabis promotion. Among the 261 licensed firms, 86.3% with an online platform had at least 1 violation, which was significantly more likely to occur on social media compared with a website. A lack of age restrictions for youth, unsubstantiated claims, omission of risk information, and glamorization of cannabis products were found. Read

Colorado Attorney General, marijuana laws enabled the rise of teenage use of high-potency THC

6/30/21--Colorado Attorney General, Philip J. Weiser states, "The rise of teenage use of high-potency concentration THC marijuana is a critical public health challenge that demands action." He believes House Bill 21-1317, Regulating Marijuana Concentrates is a necessary step in the right direction to decrease these devastating impacts and during a publicly expresses his gratitude to everyone involved in developing HB21- 1317. Read

Adult-use cannabis in Connecticut

7/5/21--Residents over the age of 21 can legally possess and consume marijuana. Connecticut's official state website presents all the facts on the new law. Read 

Polis signs bill adding new restrictions to medical marijuana

6/24/21--Governor Jared Polis has signed House Bill 1317, an expansive bill that will add restrictions to Colorado's medical marijuana program and fund studies to research marijuana's impact on mental health. This bill has sparked controversy since its introduction, but still moved quickly through the Colorado Legislature with little opposition from lawmakers. Read

Connecticut legalizes recreational marijuana, with sales aimed for 2022

6/22/21--Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, signed a bill to legalize the use and cultivation of recreational cannabis and expunge thousands of past convictions for possession, after both houses of the state legislature passed the bill last week. The signing of this bill signing marks an end to years of failed efforts to legalize the drug after the state approved it for medical use in 2012. Read

Black market grows are popping up faster than law enforcement can take them down. But is legalization the cause?

6/20/21--Cannabis experts say that as long as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and there are states where there’s no regulated market, illicit weed will have room to operate. And for many consumers in certain areas of the country, it’s still cheaper to buy their bud off the books. According to John Hudak, a cannabis expert at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., accepting law enforcement’s contention that a boom in black market marijuana is occurring as a result of legalization doesn’t hold water. Read

Senate passes bill proposing medical marijuana restrictions, THC potency study

6/3/21--On June 3, House Bill 1317 unanimously passed its third and final reading in the Senate, just over three weeks after it was introduced in the House. The measure calls for several additional layers of protocol for medical marijuana recommendations — including a required THC dosage amount and an expanded tracking system for patient purchases — as well as added medical and mental health reviews during patient applications; it would also institute new packaging requirements for commercial marijuana concentrates. Read

Politics and science are both catching up with marijuana

6/2/21--In a Newsweek editorial, Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama administration, addresses the fact that politics and science are both finally catching up with marijuana. Sabet expresses that the power of the pot lobby is strongly felt in Colorado, where the industry has become one of the largest spenders on lobbying and political contributors. Furthermore, he points out that to date, the marijuana industry's "innovation"—the creation of ridiculously super-charged THC products— has rapidly outpaced the research. Read

Marijuana regulation bill overwhelmingly passes in Colorado House

5/27/21--The Colorado House of Representatives passed the state’s most substantial marijuana regulation policy since legalization on Thursday, intending to crack down on youth access to high-potency THC products and tighten rules for the medical marijuana market. HB21-1317 passed overwhelmingly, 56-8, and moves on to the state Senate, where it is also expected to pass. Read

Colorado’s new marijuana regulation bill is out. Here’s what’s in it.

5/14/21--A bipartisan bill, HB21-1317, to more strictly regulate high-potency marijuana products debuted Friday in the Colorado House after months of workshopping. When Thornton Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo initially pitched this bill earlier this year she had asked that all products be capped at 15% THC content; however, notably absent from the bill is any cap on potency levels allowed in legally sold products. Read  

Mike Garcia fights for the Antelope Valley, Action, Agua Dulce’s Safety, Security

5/7/21--Representative Mike Garcia brought Fox News’s Sara Carter to the Antelope Valley to raise awareness of the increasing problem of illegal marijuana grows and related crime in the Antelope Valley and surrounding areas, including Acton and Agua Dulce. The illegal grows have expanded exponentially since Garcia took a tour of the grows last month. Read

Weed delivery will happen in Denver starting this summer, to be followed by more dispensaries and consumption clubs

4/19/21--Weed delivery in Denver will likely start this summer after the Denver City Council unanimously agreed Monday to overhaul the local industry with two sweeping measures. The changes have been in the works for several years, with city officials also wanting to make the industry more equitable. Read

Boston pot supermarket given green light, may open this week

4/26/21--Ascend, one of the country’s biggest legal marijuana companies, is preparing a “soft opening” with a target date of Thursday for a 16,000-square-foot dispensary. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission has backed the shop, and it will be the city’s biggest dispensary. The company operates similar stores in Illinois and New Jersey, catering to both medical patients and legal recreational pot users. Read

The cannabis industry’s next war: How strong should its weed be?

4/29/21--As more and more states legalize marijuana, companies are facing new pressure from lawmakers across the country — and Capitol Hill — to limit the strength of their products. It’s a level of scrutiny that comes with being allowed to operate in the open after decades in the shadows. Read

Switzerland: Access to medical cannabis broadened, pilot projects for nonmedical cannabis to be launched

4/22/21--The Swiss parliament approved an amendment to the Swiss Narcotics Act that allows broader access to cannabis for medical use. The amendment is subject to an optional referendum, and the deadline for collecting enough signatures to hold a referendum is July 8, 2021. In addition, on March 31, 2021, the Swiss Federal Council (the Swiss government) adopted an ordinance that specifies the requirements for pilot projects on the controlled distribution of cannabis for nonmedical use. Read

Marijuana will be legal in Virginia, but smokers may have to break laws to attain it

4/23/21--Marijuana will be legal to possess and use in Virginia starting July 1, but legislation signed by Gov. Ralph Northam does not provide any legal retail access within the state. The law delays commercial cultivation, transportation and sale until 2024. This is meant to give the state time to establish regulations for the industry, but it also keeps marijuana in a murky legal area. Read

Tracking Colorado’s marijuana and hemp bills in 2021

4/26/21--As marijuana continues to be a hot topic of discussion at the Colorado Capitol, Westword provides a a breakdown of the eight marijuana- and hemp-related bills currently up for consideration at the Colorado General Assembly in 2021. Read

New and emerging opioid overdose risk factors

4/22/21--The purpose of this review is to provide a review of the current literature surrounding opioid overdose risk factors, focusing on relatively new factors in the opioid crisis. Read

Social equity plan for marijuana delivery, hospitality business in Denver OK’d in final vote

4/21/21--The Denver City Council unanimously passed three bills changing the city’s marijuana policy to allow for social equity delivery and hospitality businesses. The bills approved Monday will allow marijuana delivery and marijuana hospitality businesses within Denver later this year and provide $350,000 to the Department of Excise and Licenses for the implementation of the new business licenses. Read

Weed delivery will happen in Denver starting this summer, to be followed by more dispensaries and consumption clubs

4/19/21--Weed delivery is likely starting in Denver this summer after the Denver City Council unanimously agreed Monday to overhaul the local industry with two sweeping measures. Although Denver Department of Excise and Licenses spokesman Eric Escudero said city officials could be ready for weed delivery to begin by late summer, it’s not clear when the clubs, buses and shuttles would open. Read

Washington state considers the future of its cannabis industry

4/6/21--Business law attorney Hilary Bricken states in a recent article that she has no doubt that Washington will eventually be a state that can rock the stage in the U.S. cannabis market. Furthermore, she states her feeling that major change is on the horizon at some point to hopefully ensure that the State is among the group of states that drives national trends on cultivation, distribution, product and brand development, and cannabis tourism. Read

Parents must now be notified of minor children’s first-time marijuana, alcohol offenses

3/28/21--Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law on March 26 a bill that requires police to provide a written warning to parents or guardians of anyone under age 18 who "commits on first offense unlawfully possessing or consuming an alcoholic beverage, cannabis, marijuana or hashish." Read

Virginia Governor signals he’ll push to legalize marijuana on July 1, ahead of schedule

3/26/21--Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is signaling he’d like the state to legalize personal possession of cannabis as soon as July 1—two and a half years before lawmakers planned. Under the legislature’s proposal, passed by the Senate and House of Delegates last month, possession of marijuana wouldn’t become legal until January 1, 2024—timed to coincide with the launch of the commercial market. Read

U.S. states look to pot to undo harm of racially biased drug laws

3/15/21--A bill, which passed last month and is awaiting approval or changes from the governor by the end of March, could see Virginia join 15 other states and Washington, D.C. in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. It also includes far-reaching provisions aimed at addressing the negative effects of cannabis prohibition, particularly on minority communities. Read

Montana’s legalization plan: Homegrow bans, THC caps, 20% taxes. Yay?

3/17/21--Montana Governor Greg Gianforte released his plan today to implement cannabis legalization in the Republican-controlled state. Gov. Gianforte’s distinctly nanny-state vision for legal weed comes in the form of a bill sponsored by Republican state Rep. Mike Hopkins. Read

NJ legal weed changes on the way? New rules pushed for drug testing, underage marijuana use

3/18/21--Less than a month after New Jersey legalized weed, the state is already considering a host of changes pressed for by different interests in the Garden State's quickly expanding marijuana universe. The changes include scrapping a provision barring police officers from contacting parents of minors caught with marijuana on a first offense. Read

Cannabis policy heterogeneity and effects on research – complexity expected

3/18/21--In their study, Matthay et al identify cannabis commercialization as a risk factor associated with population-level adverse health outcomes, including self-injury and violence, among young men. This consideration of the degree of cannabis commercialization extends a critical early call to researchers, most notably that from Pacula et al, to consider heterogeneity in cannabis policy assessments. Read

Washington State’s rise in homelessness outpaced the nation’s, according to report

3/20/21--Washington saw one of the biggest estimated increases in people experiencing homelessness in the country between 2019 and 2020, according to new national figures from an annual report to Congress. Overall homelessness across the U.S. grew by more than 2% that year, according to the report's estimates, but Washington saw an overall increase of 6.2%, or 1,346 people — the third largest increase in the number of homeless people among all 50 states. Read

Michigan to use $20M in marijuana tax revenue on medical research after all

3/11/21--The Marijuana Regulatory Agency and state Treasury last week outlined how the state would disburse nearly $45 million accrued in tax, application, licensing and renewal revenue from recreational marijuana sales. $20 million was designated to fund clinical trials focused on treating veterans for pain and PTSD with marijuana, and to study the plant’s effects on suicide rates among military personnel, which are nearly 50% higher than among the general public. Read

Colorado’s legal cannabis farms emit more carbon than its coal mines

3/8/21--Legal cannabis production in Colorado emits more greenhouse gases than the state’s coal mining industry, researchers analyzing the sector’s energy use have found. They found that emissions varied widely by state, from 2.3 to 5.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per kilogram of dried flower produced. Read

Virginia joins 15 other states in legalizing marijuana

2/28/21--The Virginia Legislature approved adult-use marijuana legalization Saturday marking the first state in the Old South to embrace full legalization. The House passed the measure in a 48-43 vote, and the Senate approved it in a 20-19 vote. Not a single Republican voted for the bill in either chamber. Read

Seattle homeless shelter buys heroin pipes with funds, teaches rectal injection method

2/22/21--A Seattle-backed homeless shelter, The Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), is instructing addicts to smoke heroin and inject drugs rectally, and the shelter is using tax dollars to help get addicts high. Read

Gov. Phil Murphy officially legalizes weed in New Jersey

2/22/21--Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills Monday that legalize up to six ounces of recreational pot in the Garden State, NJ.com reported. Following three years of failed legislative attempts, tax negotiations and protracted legal battles, Murphy, who promised to legalize weed in his first 100 days as governor three years ago, finally saw his campaign promises realized when residents voted to amend the state constitution and legalize recreational grass in November. Read

Teen use, mental health spur talk of pot curbs

2/21/21--Last week, a study that analyzed more than 3 million seventh-, ninth- and 11th-graders found that adolescents may be more likely to use marijuana once it’s legalized for recreational use. The report, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that after California legalized recreational use in 2016, respondents were 23% more likely to have used it in the last 30 days. Read

Drug Fiends and Fools

1/27/21--In a review of the book, Drug Use for Grown-Ups by Carl L. Hart, Charles Fain Lehman, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon, covers this publication as the latest in a series of titles arguing that illegal drugs are good, and the only reason they are considered bad is due to internalized oppression. Yet, apparently according to Lehman's review, Hart offers thin evidence for his case that fear of drugs is mostly moral panic. Read

The state of cannabis: Local scorecards provide glimpse into California’s ‘Wild West’ patchwork of cannabis policies.

1/14/21--Released today by Getting it Right from the Start at the Public Health Institute (PHI), 157 scorecards summarize cannabis policies in each of the California cities and counties that have opted to permit storefront sales of recreational cannabis. The scorecards bring light to a patchwork of local policies that often fall far short of what public health leaders believe is necessary to prevent the cannabis industry from following in the footsteps of Big Tobacco. Read

Nearly 100 people apply to be on Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board

1/14/21--Nearly 100 people have applied to be one of three representatives on Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board, a powerful entity that will implement rules and regulations and oversee licensing for the state’s nascent adult-use marijuana marketplace. Read

Marijuana delivery, social equity reform and other Colorado trends to watch in 2021

12/29/20--Colorado’s industry is hoping to ride the momentum of a banner year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and one such wave to watch is marijuana delivery. The Aurora City Council recently approved an ordinance to set up a delivery program that allows residents to order marijuana to their doorsteps. Likewise, Denver recently unveiled draft rules for medical and recreational delivery in hopes of accepting applications by July 1, though it’s unclear when the City Council will move on the proposal. Read

New Colorado marijuana rules go into effect on January 1, 2021

12/31/20--January 1, 2021 for all regulated marijuana businesses across Colorado, specifically expanding on the state’s Social Equity Program for cannabis businesses and eliminating residency requirements for employees. Read

Murphy want tickets with fines for underage marijuana use before he’ll sign N.J. legal weed bill

12/29/20--Gov. Phil Murphy’s office sent lawmakers a proposed change that establishes minor penalties for underage use after New Jersey legalizes weed. The change would levy fines of $250 for those under 21 caught with one ounce of marijuana and $500 for possession of more than one ounce, but less than six, according to the sources with knowledge of the “cleanup” bill sent to the Legislature. Read

Marijuana home delivery set to start in 2021

12/30/20--Home delivery of adult-use cannabis — expected to start in 2021 — will include a three-year exclusivity period to level out the playing field for smaller companies affected by the drug war after a vote by state marijuana regulators. There will be two different types of delivery licenses available: courier and warehouse. Read

What you should know about recreational marijuana in Montana

1/1/21--As of January 1, 2021, it is no longer illegal to possess small amounts of marijuana for recreational use in Montana. However, Montanans shouldn’t expect to be able to immediately buy marijuana at a retail outlet, unless they have a medical card. The sections allowing recreational sales won’t take effect until at least October 2021, and current dispensaries are still limited to serving only registered patients. Read

Attorney General asks judge to dismiss lawsuit challenging legal pot in South Dakota

12/4/20--The office of the Attorney General asked a judge to dismiss a case being brought by Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller indicating that Constitutional Amendment A, which legalizes the possession, distribution, transportation and cultivation of cannabis in South Dakota and passed in last month's election by an 8% margin, conflicts with existing language in the state Constitution. Read

Law enforcement officers ask courts to stop legal marijuana

11/20/20--Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and South Dakota Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller want the courts to overturn legislation passed by 225,260 voters earlier this year legalizing marijuana in South Dakota. They filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the constitutionality of Amendment A, which legalized the cultivation, transport, possession and sale of marijuana in in the state. Read

Status of State Marijuana Legalization: November 2020

11/20/20--This brief provides an update to the status of state marijuana laws in the United States, following the November 2020 election. Although marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, 35 states and the District of Columbia have now legalized medical marijuana, with sixteen (16) of those jurisdictions also legalizing recreational marijuana use. Overall, nearly 69% of U.S. residents now live in a state with legalized medical or recreational marijuana use. Read

A look inside this year’s adult-use legalization campaigns

10/28/20--Activists working on measures in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota discussed voter education, COVID, legal challenges and more during the NORML 2020 Conference. Read

Editorial: Troubling lessons learned from legalization

10/1/20--As expressed by The Gazette editorial board, Colorado’s experiment with legal recreational marijuana — authorized by voters in 2012, with the first storefronts opening in 2014 — continues to charge ahead amid mixed results. Yet, at the same time, the question of whether the costs outweigh the presumed benefits continues to nag — at policy makers, even if many don’t care to admit it — as well as at the public at large. Read