The Shake: British Liberals Back Legalization and the High-Tech Future of CannabisBen AdlinMarch 8, 2016
Legal cannabis on its way to the U.K.? The country’s Liberal Democrats are backing a new report that calls for a regulated adult-use market in Great Britain, according the BBC. The report, written by an independent panel of advisors, calls for legalizing the sale of cannabis to adults 18 and older, allowing licensed stores as well as home cultivation, and even establishing small-scale cannabis clubs. Party members say the country’s war on drugs has failed, sapping police resources and saddling casual consumers with lifelong criminal records. But there’s hardly a consensus on that: Home Secretary Theresa May, a Conservative, says existing laws have proved successful in reducing drug use and associated harm. On the other hand, legalization could rake in an estimated £1 billion a year in taxes. So there’s that.
The U.S Supreme Court keeps kicking the can. Remember when we told you, weeks ago, that justices were about to decide whether to hear a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s recreational cannabis program? Well, they didn’t. And on Monday, they didn’t again. Nebraska and Oklahoma are suing Colorado in an effort to overturn legalization there, but it’s up to the Supreme Court whether or not to take the case. Last year Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman aid she thought justices would make a decision in January, but legal experts say the court might be wary of taking on such a significant case with only eight justices, following the death of Antonin Scalia.
Want some chips with that cannabis? Technology is poised to revolutionize how the plant is grown and distributed, attorney Hilary Bricken writes in a series of posts for Canna Law Blog. She begins by exploring how the so-called Internet of Things — a network of physical objects embedded with sensors and software, all talking to one another — could provide valuable data to the industry. Think wi-fi enabled garden sensors that track temperature and humidity, ID chips to track cannabis shipments, and internet-enabled testing devices to essentially crowdsource dosing data. If the first post was fun, the second is scary: Bricken’s latest installment looks at all the different ways this brave new world could blow up in a business owner’s face, spawning privacy issues, product liability claims, and even criminal charges. Bricken’s implicit point, which seems like a good one: Make sure you talk to a lawyer.
The police are coming, and they’ve got pupilometers. Look sharp, Oregon — dozens of law enforcement officers from across the state gathered last week at the Portland Police Bureau’s training facility to learn how to better detect and combat cannabis-impaired driving. Without standardized equipment like breathalyzers, officers are relying on modified field sobriety tests and pupilometers, devices used to measure the response of drivers’ pupils to visual stimuli. Though official state data on driving under the influence of cannabis isn’t expected to be released for a few months, some officers say they believe there’s been an uptick in impaired driving since the state legalized recreational use. Whatever the case, drive safely — accidents ruin lives, and they also risk souring the rest of the country on legalization.
Whom do anti-cannabis politicians think they’re pandering to? With recent polls showing that 82 percent of Illinois voters and 78 percent of Iowans support access for medical use, rabidly anti-cannabis politicians look increasingly out of touch. Sure, there’s still room to disagree on cannabis policy — it’s a lot easier to support medical marijuana in principle than it is to agree on how to regulate and distribute it — but maybe we’re ready for a DEA chief who doesn’t think medical cannabis is “a joke.”
Cannabis could be Israel’s next big medical export. Ten years ago the country had just a few dozen medical patients. By 2015 there were nearly 23,000. Now the industry is eyeing the U.S. medical market as a promising destination for exports, according to CNNMoney. It’s enough to make you wonder how Israel got such a leg up on the U.S., at least until you realize the obvious: While the federal government here has passed the buck on cannabis reform, Israeli stakeholders have banded together. The government has adopted a tolerant approach, and even conservative rabbis have OK’d medical use. “Israel is right on the cusp of being able to grab hold of this entire industry and become the real mecca for marijuana research,” one Arizona doctor tells CNN. Oy vey, America.
Oregon welcomes small-batch growers, eliminates residency requirements. Gov. Kate Brown signed a pair of bills Monday amending the state’s recreational cannabis program. The first removes a two-year residency requirement for program licensees, and the second aims to open the door to smaller growers by creating a so-called micro-canopy license that carries lower fees and fewer requirements. If you grow at home for personal use, you get something, too: The bill clarifies that home cultivation isn’t subject to inspection by the Oregon Health Authority.
QUICK HITS: Don’t bring a grenade-shaped grinder through airport security, especially if it’s packed with cannabis. TSA will confiscate it and, um, post a picture to Instagram, apparently. Now you can grow hemp just like George Washington did: in Virginia. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill that removes criminal penalties for cultivating hemp. Malaysian authorities say what we’ve all heard before: Even though studies show cannabis is safer than alcohol, now’s not the time to reconsider prohibition. And finally, meet Mary Reitz, a 60-year-old grandmother from Washington. Reitz was initially wary of cannabis and didn’t try it until she was 58, but now she’s a YouTube sensation who, Broadly reports, “dabs like a pro.” Here’s her first dab ever: