Politics  The latest in cannabis legalization including laws and policies, legislators’ views, election coverage, and more.

The Shake: California Could Test Drivers for Cannabis, and Has Vermont Legalization Hit a Wall?

Is Vermont’s push to legalize losing steam? Earlier this year, the state was poised to become the first in the U.S. to legalize cannabis for adult use by an act of the Legislature, rather than a ballot initiative. But after the Senate approved the legalization bill and it landed in the House, the chair of a key panel announced she’s starting over from scratch. House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) indicated that instead of supporting a legal, regulated market, she thinks the state should simply decriminalize home cultivation. The upshot, writes Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell: Advocates may be forced to choose between legal markets without homegrow and limited homegrow with no legal sales. Bureaucratic deadlines are already getting in the way, Angell writes: “Unless the House is willing to adopt the Senate bill or something close to it, it’s unclear at this point if anything will cross the legislative finish line this year.”

A California lawmaker wants to test your spit for THC. “Sadly, we’ve become a nation of self-medicating, careless people,” said state Sen. Bob Huff (R-San Dimas), who authored a bill, SB 1462, that would allow law enforcement officers to use oral swabs to test drivers for cannabis use. “The public is naïve in understanding how dangerous our roads are by people who are abusing opiates, meth, and cannabis,” he tells the L.A. Times. OK, wait, hold on. Nobody’s arguing it’s a smart idea to drive while high (though science says it’s way less dangerous than driving drunk). But if the public is “naïve,” Sen. Huff, you’re simply ignorant: Even the federal government, which pushes prohibition at every turn, acknowledges there’s no consensus on how the amount of THC in people’s blood affects their levels of impairment. As NORMAL California director Dale Gieringer tells the Times, oral swab testing is still an unproven technology. “Its accuracy has not been demonstrated in controlled, published scientific studies.” Before we risk criminalizing responsible cannabis users, let’s make sure the technology works, yeah?

Regulators recommend Washington state testing lab lose license. Patients and consumers in the state have been slowly waking up to the fact that dangerous pesticides are being used on products, and now auditors have uncovered “consistent inaccuracies” in test data from Poulsbo-based Testing Technologies, one of 14 state-certified labs. Regulators say testers there showed “blatant disregard for good laboratory practices as well as sound scientific methods,” according to the Seattle Times' Bob Young. Critics have complained the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) hasn’t done enough to make pesticides a priority, and some in the industry have been pushing to police themselves. In related news, the LCB on Thursday issued emergency rules that step up standards for testing labs. Expect more movement on this front before long.

Pesticides 101: Questions and Answers for Cannabis Patients and Consumers

QUICK HITS:

  • Arizona legalization group teams up with prohibitionists, fireworks commence. For more cannabis community infighting, click here.
  • Lawyer to California cannabusinesses: You’re missing the boat. “Everyone seems to be overlooking the next opportunity for Californians to nab priority licensing status,” attorney Alison Malsbury writes at Canna Law Blog. For better or worse, it's a cutthroat market. Don't sleep on it.
  • Cannabis advocate arrested in Canada for giving away seeds. Dana Larsen was trying to distribute a million seeds as part of a multi-stop tour he calls OverGrow Canada when he was taken into custody by Calgary police. Canadian lawmakers have promised to legalize cannabis in the next year or two, so some wonder why authorities are even still making arrests.
  • Is there hope for a workable medical cannabis program in Texas? According to Marijuana Business Daily, the answer is a decisive maybe.  
  • Sorry, Nebraskans. Medical cannabis won’t happen this year. Supporters in the state Senate were three votes short of breaking a filibuster. Let’s take a moment to think of all the legitimately ill patients who are now wondering where they’ll get their medicine (or their children’s). 
  • Expanding medical cannabis could net Louisiana up to $334 million, industry report says. The announcement, which projects new tax revenue between $204 million and $334 million, comes just days after Louisiana State University officials said the school is still considering whether to cultivate cannabis for state patients.
  • A lawyer told a California client that reopening a closed dispensary is “less than the risk of getting on an airplane.” Things have certainly stabilized since 2011, when federal prosecutors cracked down on cannabis businesses, shuttering hundreds. But beware: Prosecutions in the Golden State are ongoing.
  • Two-time Grammy winner The Game is getting into… the game. He announced this week he’ll serve as brand ambassador to G Brands, maker of G Stiks — pre-rolls covered in concentrate and dusted with kief. (Which sounds delicious, yes, but we sure the Dodgers are down with that advertisement?)
  • And finally, meet the Washington, D.C., man who calls himself Kushgod. “I’m trying,” he tells the Washington Post, “to build a dynasty.” But NORML founder Keith Stroup calls Kushgod a “scam artist.” Careful, Kush, you’re getting real close to sounding like the Kanye of cannabis.

 The Shake: DEA Promises Rescheduling Announcement, and Can Cannabis Dull Your Heart Attack?