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California bill encourages banks to work with pot businesses

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California legislators considered a plan Monday intended to encourage more banks to do business with marijuana companies that have been frozen out of thousands of financial institutions.

Most Americans live in states where marijuana is legally available in some form. But most financial institutions don't want anything to do with money from the cannabis industry for fear it could expose them to legal trouble since the federal government still considers marijuana illegal.

The conflict between state and federal law has left businesses in California's emerging legal pot industry in a legal dilemma, shutting many out of everyday services such as opening a bank account or obtaining a credit card. It also has forced many businesses to operate only in cash — sometimes vast amounts — making them ripe targets for crime.

An Assembly bill would authorize state regulators to share detailed sales, cultivation and shipping information collected from cannabis companies with banks, a step supporters hope will provide additional assurances to financial institutions that a pot shop or grower is operating within the law.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued guidelines to help banks avoid federal prosecution when dealing with pot businesses in states where the drug is legal.

But most banks don't see those rules as a shield against charges that could include aiding drug trafficking. And they say the rules are difficult to follow, in effect placing the burden on banks to determine if a pot business is complying with all legal rules.

Cara Martinson of the California State Association of Counties told members of an Assembly committee that the bill represented an incremental step until a solution is reached at the federal level.

"This could help move the ball," she said.

The number of banks and credit unions willing to handle pot money is growing — it's over 400 nationally — but they still represent only a small fraction of the industry.

Report Shows Teen Marijuana Use in California Has Declined

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A statewide study in California has found that cannabis use by teens in the state has declined. Results of the California Healthy Kids Survey were released by the California Department of Education on Monday. The study is funded by the state’s health and education departments and is conducted every two years.

According to the research, 4.2 percent of 7th graders reported that they had used cannabis at any time between 2015 and 2017. That figure represents a 47 percent drop from the last survey when 7.9 percent of 7th graders reported using marijuana from 2013 to 2015.

Among 9th graders, 17.4 percent reported that they had used cannabis at some time during 2015 to 2017. That is a 25 percent decline from the 23.1 percent who reported using marijuana in the previous study.

Eleventh graders also showed a reduction in marijuana use. In the last survey, 37.9 percent of high school juniors said they had used cannabis between 2013 and 2015 while this year’s result for 2015 to 2017 recorded a 16 percent decline with 31.9 percent claiming cannabis use.

 

The percentage of teens who had used cannabis in the 30 days prior to the survey also declined. For 7th graders, the figure dropped from 5.0 percent in the last survey to 2.3 percent for the latest one. For 9th graders, the drop was from 13.4 percent to 9.5 percent, and for 11th graders, the number declined from 20.1 percent to 16.7 percent.

Will Legalization Affect Future Results?

The study’s authors noted that the survey was conducted prior to the legalization of recreational marijuana sales, which began in California at the beginning of 2018.

“How the recent legalization of marijuana use for adults in California [affects] the declining trend among youth warrants attention,” they wrote.

 

“The next biennial survey will be of particular interest to shed light on whether the change in state marijuana laws [affects] these findings,” researchers added.

Tom Torlakson, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said in a press release that educators have a role in making sure that cannabis legalization does not lead to increased use by young people.

“We must continue to be diligent in our efforts to prevent, or at least limit, marijuana use in light of the potential effect of the legalization for adults as a result of the passage of Proposition 64 two years ago,” Torlakson said.

 

Cannabis Activist Responds

Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML, said in a blog post from the advocacy group that the legalization of recreational cannabis is actually a factor in the decline of use by teens.

“These initial reports confirm that legalizing and regulating cannabis doesn’t increase youth marijuana use, but rather it has the opposite effect,” said Komp. “The fact that the biggest drop in reported use came from younger age groups is a particularly encouraging indicator of the success of regulation.”

Komp also said that sound cannabis policy reforms are the best way to keep California residents and their communities safe.

“It’s time to stop trying to ‘send a message’ to young people about drugs and instead implement sound, science-based policies that best protect our children and public safety, along with our privacy and human rights,” Komp said.

France Opens First Coffee Shops Selling CBD Products

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Among European Union nations, France has some of the toughest laws against cannabis. Yet the country of nearly 67 million people has one of the highest rates of cannabis consumption in Europe. Recognizing the demand, some French companies have figured out a way to satisfy customers’ desire for cannabis, in a way that doesn’t break the law.

Across France, “coffee shops” selling cannabis and hemp products are springing up. But customers won’t find any products with THC in them. Instead, these coffee shops are exclusively selling CBD products.

Paris Is The Latest City To Open CBD Coffee Shops

Tucked away in Paris’ chic 11th arrondissement, curious shoppers are lining up outside CofyShop, a cannabis store selling CBD products.

Everything on the shelves, from tinctures and syrups to vape juice, edibles, topicals and even herbs, contains a negligible amount of THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid that produces the euphoric sensations users commonly call a high.

But shoppers won’t find anything containing more than 0.2 percent THC in CofyShop. What they will find is a wide assortment of CBD products, mostly produced from hemp.

Still, the fact that France’s cannabis coffee shops aren’t selling anything that would get users high seems to be lost on some first-time customers.

“I want to find out if the stuff they’re selling gets you stoned,” Marc, a 21-year-old lined up outside the shop told the Telegraph. “In theory, it has less than 0.2 percent THC, but I’ve heard it contains more CBD and that should have an effect, at least to make you feel relaxed.”

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the key therapeutic compounds in cannabis. The wide range of medicinal applications of CBD include its relaxing, anti-anxiety effects.

Researchers around the world are investigating how CBD can treat neurological diseases, reduce seizures, fight cancer and reduce inflammation. Their findings continue to corroborate anecdotal evidence about CBD’s effectiveness as a remedy for a number of ailments.

The availability of CBD products throughout France comes from a loosening of some cannabis laws. A growing awareness of the legality of CBD has also contributed to the coffee shop phenomenon.

French Health Minister Says CBD Products Are Legal

In May 2017, newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron appointed Agnès Buzyn to Minister of Solidarity and Health. And in November of that year, Buzyn made a statement regarding the legality of cannabis and hemp-derived CBD products.

Buzyn supports the use of medical cannabis and has re-opened debate about how to expand access to it. France legalized cannabis for medical use in 2013, but the program’s restrictions make it a non-starter for most patients.

But in November, Buzyn announced that CBD was legal for public consumption under two conditions. First, products had to adhere to the 0.2 percent THC limit. And second, producers and retailers had to refrain from making any health claims about the products.

French authorities are also keeping a close eye on the activity of these shops, to make sure no illegal products end up on their shelves.

CBD products are undeniably increasing in popularity across France, drawing criticism from some and support from others. For the most part, however, the public seems to think CBD products are simply “low strength” versions of cannabis containing THC.

Critics are deploying gateway theory to suggest legal CBD will lead people to consuming illicit THC products. Supporters are excited to have access to high quality, potentially therapeutic products.

French cannabis coffee shops import all their CBD products from neighboring Switzerland. On average, shops are selling CBD for about US$15 per gram.

 

 

 

FBI Raids California Mayor, Marijuana Dispensary On Bribery Charges

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On Tuesday, FBI agents executed a series of search warrants in Adelanto, CA that included City Hall, a marijuana dispensary, and Mayor Rich Kerr’s home. FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller said the agency acted in concert with the IRS, the San Bernardino County’s DA office, and the Sheriff’s Department. Full details of the investigation are pending. The search warrants appear to be connected to an alleged bribery and corruption scandal involving the mayor’s office and marijuana businesses in Adelanto.

Adelanto Mayor Suspected Of Accepting Bribes From Marijuana Businesses

According to multiple reports, FBI agents raided the home of Adelanto mayor Rich Kerr and the city’s town hall on Tuesday. The raids are part of a large-scale investigation into suspected corruption and bribery.

The Jet Room, a marijuana dispensary, was also targeted in Tuesday’s sweeping raids. Agents executed additional warrants at the law office of the Jet Room’s attorney, Philip E. Rios.

There’s a family connection between Rios’ firm, Professional Lawyers Group, and the Jet Room dispensary. The general counsel for the Professional Lawyers Group, David Serrano, is the brother of the Jet Room’s owner, Manuel Serrano.

So far, the FBI isn’t releasing information about the nature of the warrants, which were sealed by a federal court. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller did say that the warrants involve “an investigation into criminal activity.”

 

Despite earlier reports that agents arrested Mayor Rich Kerr and took him away in handcuffs, Eimiller said there had been no arrests. Agents did, however, seize a number of boxes and storage bins of documents from Mayor Kerr’s home.

“They’re just doing their due diligence,” Kerr’s daughter told the San Bernardino Sun.

Raids The Latest Development In Ongoing Corruption Investigations

Located in San Bernardino county, Adelanto has been aggressively recruiting marijuana businesses to the area. But this isn’t the first time Adelanto has come under federal scrutiny for possible corruption.

When Rich Kerr took office, federal agents had already filed charges against the city’s pro tem mayor Jermaine Wright. The charges accused Wright of taking bribes to fast-track certain licensing steps for marijuana businesses.

Last November, federal agents arrested and indicted Wright. Wright had taken a $10,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for a rezoning move that would have favored a particular cannabis transportation business.

 

According to reports, Wright also attempted to pay another FBI agent $1,500 to torch his barbecue restaurant, Fat Boyz Grill. The restaurant carried a $300,000 insurance policy.

Adelanto’s history of official corruption goes back even further. The city has seen multiple corruption scandals involving police, elected officials, and even an animal control supervisor, according to the Sun.

This isn’t Mayor Kerr’s first controversy. Back in January, an intern accused Kerr of sexual harassment and workplace humiliation. The intern filed an official complaint against Kerr with the city. An independent investigation ultimately cleared Kerr of any wrongdoing.

FBI Raids Mayor’s Home In Marijuana Business Bribery Investigation

Despite the coordinated, multi-agency investigation that raided mayor Kerr’s home and City Hall, the FBI didn’t arrest Kerr or anyone at the Jet Room.

The raids closed down City Hall for the day on Tuesday. Adelanto’s public information officer Michael Stevens said in a statement that the city is “unaware of the nature of the FBI’s investigation” but is prepared to fully cooperate with any investigations being conducted.

Mayor Kerr’s wife, Misty, assured neighbors concerned about the FBI activity that “Everything’s fine”. The investigation is ongoing.

Sen. Kamala Harris Joins the Ranks of Marijuana Justice Act Sponsors

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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.) is undeniably a rising star in the Democratic party. Her announcement Thursday that she would back federal marijuana legalization has quickly propelled her to the ranks of progressive heavyweights like Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). A potential 2020 contender for the White House, Harris’s recent statements signal she is ready to move the country toward progressive marijuana and criminal justice reform.

Sen. Kamala Harris Vows To Support Federal Marijuana Legalization

As Sen. Kamala Harris joins the ranks of Marijuana Justice Act sponsors, she moves alongside progressive Democrats like Cory Booker, the bill’s sponsor, and Kirsten Gillibrand, who champion marijuana legalization as a social justice issue.

Sen. Booker’s legislation would remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of Schedule I controlled substances. But the justice component goes much further. The Marijuana Justice Act would additionally expunge the criminal records of any American with prior marijuana use or possession convictions.

It’s a radical proposal that would dramatically alter the criminal justice landscape in the United States. And that’s something for which Harris, former attorney general of California, has long fought.

“It’s the right thing to do. And I know this as a former prosecutor. I know this as a senator,” Harris said in a video posted by NowThis announcing her decision. “I just look at what we want as a country and where we need to be instead of where we’ve been.”

 

And where we’ve been, according to Harris and many who support cannabis legalization, has been a nightmare of racially disparate drug enforcement and incarceration. Where we’ve been, Harris says, is the failed war on drugs.

“The war on drugs was a war on communities. Not somebody smoking a joint,” Harris says in the video.

Making Good On Her Progressive Credentials

While Sen. Harris’s record on criminal justice reform is laudatory, her action on legal cannabis has been less so. Even so, Harris’s coming out to support Sen. Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act fits in with her long-standing critique of the criminal justice system.

As San Francisco’s district attorney and later as California’s attorney general, Harris adopted a number of progressive stances. The list is admirable, and includes significant measures like sentencing reform and adopting measures to reduce recidivism in California’s over-populated prison system.

Harris was also a vocal supporter of the Affordable Care Act and defended the rights of same-sex couples to marry. And she was responsible for getting California’s justice department to adopt body cameras and mandate implicit racial bias training for its police officers. She’s even gone after polluters and corporate fraudsters.

 

With Trump in office and Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Kamala has become an even more outspoken progressive. She has supported single-payer healthcare along with Bernie Sanders and is a backer of free college tuition for low-income households.

All of that is impressive and praiseworthy, even if critics of Harris point out that her deeds have not always follow her words.

Unfortunately, those criticisms seemed especially valid when it came to Harris’s stance on marijuana. While she frequently blasted the war on drugs as a failure, as California AG she took no meaningful action on drug reform. In fact, in some cases, she endorsed the “tough on crime” policies of her conservative colleagues.

Of course, that was then and this is now. And politicians have pivoted more rapidly toward legalization than Harris. Whatever disappointments Harris’s past record on marijuana may cause, her statements Thursday make clear that in 2018, the senator is completely on board with justice for cannabis users.

NFL Forbids Injured Player’s Request for Medical Marijuana

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Although the NFL remains one of the most physical, injury-laden league in professional sports, it still hasn’t given any leeway in terms of medicinal marijuana use by its players. The league, as a whole, remains stringent on marijuana use, and unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. While there are loopholes in the NFL’s drug policy, for therapeutic medicinal cannabis use, the outlet has yet to be successfully exercised, as once again, the NFL forbids injured player’s request for medical marijuana.

Mike James’ Request Denied

Mike James, a current NFL free agent and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions running back, has made NFL history, in his own right. Last month, the former sixth-round pick became the first player in league history to file for a therapeutic use exemption for medical marijuana.

But last Thursday, his request was denied by league officials.

James had been reliant upon opioid painkillers since a Monday night football game against the Miami Dolphins after the running back broke his ankle on a goalline plunder. In an interview with CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta the running back reveals he was addicted to the cocktail of pills he was prescribed in just a matter of weeks.

According to James, the pills caused him to lose a part of himself.

 

“I never had something where I could be coherent and still have pain relief,” James revealed.

However, the ex-Buc vowed to get clean for his sons. Growing up, his father was in and out of prison on various drug stints, and he didn’t want to set the same example for his children. That’s why, at first, medical marijuana seemed like such a far-fetched idea.

“I thought, ‘Weed? No, that’s a street drug,” James said in the interview. ” I didn’t even want to hear what it had to offer.”

However, after succumbing to the inevitable physical addictions of his prescribed opioids, James decided to give it a go. And in February of 2014, he tried medicinal cannabis for the first time. And he had an epiphany.

 

“I felt like I was beginning a new life,” James said.

But despite his attempts to change, James has failed several drug tests for marijuana, and his exemption has been denied by league officials. Instead of supporting his effort to get clean, the NFL has admonished it.

“Our job is to find the best medical science to support your therapeutic use exemption,” said DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association.

While plenty of that information has been made available, the NFL still remains behind the curve— and James’ career now hangs in the balance.

“My career is at great risk,” the running back admitted to Gupta.

 

The NFL Won’t Budge on Medical Cannabis

While the NFL may still classify the plant as a “controlled substance,” many within the league—and outside of it, believe athletes should be allowed to use medicinal marijuana.

According to a Yahoo News/Marist Poll published last year, 69% of Americans approve of a professional athlete using marijuana for pain, and 67% of pollers believing prescribed opioids are far worse that prescribed marijuana.

Additionally, many ex-players have championed the use of the plant for pain-management and concussion treatment. Ex-Jaguars offensive lineman Eben Britton believes marijuana could be a big part of the league’s medical program going forward and could be an important tool to help preserve players’ careers.

While the NFL remains behind the eightball on medical pot, despite being one of the most injury-plagued sports in America, other sporting leagues are starting to come around. The UFC essentially allows their athletes to use cannabis for recovery, and even the NBA has said it will consider removing the plant from its banned substance list.

Now, it’s time for the NFL to get off the opioid train, and hop onto the medical pot express. If not, the league could become, effectively extinct.

MedMen Dispensary Opens In New York City

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With an eye on legalization in the Empire State, a new MedMen dispensary opens in New York City. New York’s newest dispensary, which opened its doors on 4/20, is located on Fifth Ave. Here’s an inside look at the luxurious dispensary that would make the likes of Don Draper proud.

Inside MedMen on Fifth Avenue

 

The 2,000 square foot flagship store is in good company on New York’s iconic retail street: Barney’s, Apple and Saks Fifth Avenue are mere blocks away. As MedMen CEO Adam Bierman told Business Insider, “It’s the prime retail shopping street in the world.”

The store’s design symbolizes Bierman’s anticipation for what’s next. “This store represents the future,” the CEO explained to a private party on Wednesday. Circular LED chandeliers, crisp walls and iPad displays line the store. Posters on the wall feature people with the subhead ‘Stoner’, crossed out.

MedMen dispensary opens in New York City with a sleek design, a prime location and an important mission: Make marijuana mainstream.

What This Dispensary Is Selling

 

Currently, MedMen is offering five strains in the form of vape pens, tinctures and capsules. Though California locations carry thousands of products, MedMen abides by New York laws, which are much more restrictive.

The iPad displays offer detailed descriptions of the five different categories: Wellness, Harmony, Awake, Calm and Sleep. They even recommend strains, based on what you’re looking to treat. The display also lists THC and CBDratios.

Need more information? MedMen has a whole staff of pharmacists. No matter what you’re hoping to treat, this dispensary will find the strain and delivery method that’s right for you.

Not Everyone Can Shop At MedMen (For Now)

 

A MedMen dispensary opens in New York, though most New Yorkers can’t legally buy weed. At least, not yet.

 

Though you’re more than welcome to explore the dispensary, MedMen only currently caters to medical marijuana users. Until recreational marijuana becomes legal in New York, shoppers will need to provide a medical marijuana card and a doctor’s note before purchasing.

This slims down the market. Out of about 20 million residents, only 33,000 New Yorkers hold medical marijuana cards. Senior vice president of MedMen Daniel Yi explains, “We’re positioning ourselves for what we will believe is going to happen in New York.”

If legalization passes later this year, MedMen, the third dispensary to open to New York City, will be poised to take over the luxury cannabis industry.

The Future of Legalization In New York

 

Earlier this month, Gubernatorial candidate and Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon announced that she supports legalizing recreational marijuana.

On Twitter, Nixon explained her position. “There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana,” she said, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity.”

In light of newly released statistics showing racial disparities in New York marijuana arrests, constituents are taking note of Nixon’s critique of racial injustice. Support for marijuana legalization in New York is growing.

So much so that New York’s current governor, and Nixon’s opponent, Andrew Cuomo just changed his mind on cannabis. Just a day after Nixon came out in support of legalizing recreational marijuana, Cuomo reevaluated his position.

“The facts have changed,” explains the Governor, undermining his history of opposing legalization. Once, he even went so far as to call weed a “gateway drug.”

Final Hit: MedMen Dispensary Opens In New York City

 

MedMen’s arrival on Fifth Ave symbolizes that times are changing when it comes to smoking weed in the Big Apple.

As politicians and big business work towards legalization, the Empire State is poised to become the biggest new marijuana market in the country.

MedMen only has to bide its time.

Missouri House Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

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After an evening of sometimes emotional debate, the Missouri House approves medical marijuana bill for the state. House Bill (HB) 1554 was passed by a voice vote on Monday, April 23. The measure would make it legal for some seriously or terminally ill patients to use non-smokable forms of cannabis to treat their conditions.

Rep. Jim Neely, a Republican from Cameron, is the sponsor of the bill. He is also a physician at the Cameron Regional Medical Center.  He addressed the House several times during Monday’s debate, according to local media. Neely told the body that his views stem from his years of experience in the medical field.

“The idea behind that (the bill) is a result of my observation as a person who has worked in healthcare for several decades, and it just seems like this is the right thing to do,” he said.

Neely said that his original intention with the law was to help provide relief to dying patients.

“My bill has to do with people that are terminal, and so I’m trying to provide some comfort to the folks who are in the last stages of life,” Neely said.

HB 1554 defines a terminal illness as one that “without life-saving procedures will result in death in the near future or a state of permanent unconsciousness from which recovery is unlikely.”

Lawmakers Expand Scope of Bill

But as the members of the House discussed the measure, several Representatives offered amendments to allow more patients access to medical marijuana.

Rep. Shamed Dogan, a Republican from Ballwin, proposed adding epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), glaucoma, Crohn’s disease and other medical conditions to the bill.

Republican Rep. Travis Fitzwater of Holts Summit asked his colleagues to support the amendment. He also told the House that both his mother and his sister have MS.

 

Democrats also got behind the amendment. Rep. Gina Mitten of St. Louis passionately implored all members to help people like the Fitzwater family. Rep. Dogan’s amendment succeeded and lawmakers then added it to the bill.

Rep. Paul Curtman, a Republican from Pacific who is also a Marine Corps infantry veteran, suggested another amendment. He wanted Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to also be included as a condition eligible for treatment with MMJ.

Curtman shared the story of a Missouri vet who sought help from the VA to treat his PTSD. VA doctors prescribed numerous pharmaceuticals, which failed to provide the vet with relief.

“So, this Marine found some cannabis that he was able to use for medical purposes, but since it was illegal his neighbor called the police, ratted him out. The police came, arrested him,” Curtman said.

Curtman’s voice cracked when he said the stricken vet had eventually taken his own life.

HB 1554 has several more hurdles to clear before it becomes law. The House must vote and give its approval one more time, before sending it the state Senate for consideration. If the bill succeeds there, it would then have to be signed into law by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

State Troopers Seize $5 Million Worth of Cannabis During Traffic Stop

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Some cannabis enthusiasts don’t pack light. On Wednesday evening, state troopers seize $5 million worth of cannabis during traffic stop. Here’s what happened that fateful night in Nebraska, and why weed may be harder to come by in the midwest this 4/20.

The Police Pulled Over A Van and Discovered Much More

At 5:50 pm on April 18th, the police spotted a 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter from Colorado driving in the breakdown lane. They proceed to pull the van over at mile marker 36 near Geneva, Nebraska, according to 1011 Now.

After stopping the van, the K9 police unit recognized the smell of marijuana. In total, the police uncovered 1,853 lbs of marijuana, 46 lbs of hash wax and 8,779 doses of hash oil for vape pens. This ridiculous amount of cannabis is worth approximately $5 million dollars.

The Driver Is Facing Serious Charges

Nebraska and Colorado may share a border, but their marijuana policies are vastly different. Colorado is a trailblazer when it comes to the realities of legalizing weed. In the U.S., the state is a pioneer in cannabis taxation, research and even cuisine.

Surrounding states don’t share their love for the herb. After Colorado passed legalization, Nebraska and Oklahoma sued the state. They claimed that Colorado’s laws are undermining their own marijuana policy and depleting their assets. The Supreme Court threw out the case, but the disparity in policies still remains.

Though Nebraska has decriminalized marijuana to a certain extent, the police are still on high alert for marijuana possession, especially in cars with out of state plates. According to NORML, possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana in Nebraska results in a fine. Larger amounts, however, can lead to jail time. For one ounce or less, you receive several days in jail for repeat offenses. However, these charges are only misdemeanors.

But possession of over a pound of marijuana is a felony according to Nebraska law. The sentence is five years and carries a maximum fine of $10,000.

On top of possession charges, the state is charging driver Michael Cardis of Arvada, Colorado with intent to deliver and for not having a Drug Tax stamp. The Tax Stamp law compels anyone in Nebraska to purchase a stamp from the state to label their personal marijuana supply.

The police are currently holding the 39-year-old driver in Fillmore County Jail.

Despite Legalization, There Are Still Harsh Penalties For Marijuana Possession

Though California, Colorado, Massachusetts and other liberal states have legalized recreational cannabis, not every state is moving in the same direction. Mormon leaders in Utah have come out against medical marijuana legalization.

Though Maine voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, Governor LePage has threatened to veto marijuana legislation.

 

The Police Are Anticipating The High Holiday

This is only the latest drug bust before 4/20. Outside Greenfield, Indiana, a similar situation occurred.

The Indiana State Police pulled over a 2017 Ford Expedition when they noticed the vehicle swerving. When the authorities searched the car, they discovered 78 pounds of marijuana, valued at about $250,000.

Final Hit: State Troopers Seize $5 Million Worth of Cannabis During Traffic Stop

State troopers seize $5 million worth of cannabis during traffic stop in an attempt to curb the tide of marijuana seeping into surrounding states from Colorado.

This massive drug bust worth about $5 million dollars will seriously short Nebraska’s weed supply just two days before 4/20.

20 Massachusetts Weed Businesses in Running for Recreational Licenses

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Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) agreed to expedite the application process for the 20 Massachusetts weed businesses in running for recreational licenses. Details about the identities of the businesses that received prioritized review status were disclosed Tuesday night in a document available on the CCC website.

No conflicts of interest were reported in the spreadsheet. Several of the dispensaries are based in Boston, but other businesses are located in remote cities throughout the state, including Holliston, Fall River and Nantucket.

Massachusetts voters opted to legalize recreational marijuana statewide during the November 2016 election. But the implementation of the law has been delayed, as lawmakers continue to debate regulatory provisions such as taxation, which were included in the voter-approved initiative sponsored by the advocacy group, Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA).

The Future of Massachusetts’ Recreational Marijuana Market.

Recreational marijuana dispensaries are scheduled to open on July 1, 2018. But as local radio station WBUR reported, there’s uncertainty as to whether the state will be prepared to meet that deadline—in large part due to ongoing disputes over the regulatory policies governing Massachusetts’ recreational cannabis program.

“It is likely that the 17 existing medical marijuana establishments will be allowed to convert to retail sales,” WBUR reported in December 2017. “One problem facing the industry could be supply. Cultivators might not have enough time to grow an adequate amount of cannabis to meet demand. That could spell shortages and initially high prices soon after the doors open to retail sales.”

 

For business applicants that have met requirements for prioritized certification—including the 20 dispensaries recently approved—the commission is able to certify recreational licenses as early as June 1, 2018, according to the news site WickedLocal.

Steven Hoffman, chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In earlier interviews, however, he insisted that transparency and efficiency represented key components of the recreational marijuana business approval process.

Final Hit: 20 Massachusetts Weed Businesses in Running for Recreational Licenses

Though it remains to be seen why the 20 dispensaries selected for an expedited review process were given such an advantage, Massachusetts has also put in place a separate process for “economic empowerment” candidates. That designation refers to cannabis dispensaries and businesses “connected to communities with high rates of drug-related arrests,” according to Boston Magazine.

Research demonstrates that people of color in low-income communities are at far greater risk of being arrested for marijuana-related offenses such as possession, and so the state’s “economic empowerment” program is one of several launched around the U.S. that aim to assist communities that have been adversely affected by racially biased marijuana enforcement practices, empowering community members to enter the legal industry.

Even so, none of the 20 marijuana dispensaries granted prioritized approval processes qualify under the “economic empowerment” program, as WickedLocal reported. Hoffman argued that his commission’s goal is to facilitate licensing approvals responsibly. Businesses that failed to provide the required information in their applications would be given five business days to amend their applications.

 

“Our philosophy and intent is to help people get those applications completed,” Hoffman told WickedLocal. “We’re not rejecting applications because they’re not complete, we’re going back and saying, ‘you need to provide this information.'”