The Shake: An Eric Holder Facepalm, Vermont’s Speedy Progress, and Cannabis CevicheBen AdlinFebruary 25, 2016
Eric Holder says the federal justice system, which he used to run, has cannabis all wrong. “I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled,” the former U.S. attorney general told PBS in a Frontline documentary that aired Wednesday. “We treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin,” he said, “and that clearly is not appropriate.” Holder also seemed open to seeing how recreational legalization goes, saying that beyond just rescheduling cannabis, “we need to look at what happens in Colorado and what happens in Washington.” (No pressure, people, but the whole world is watching.) Holder’s statements are laudable, but come on: This is the guy who signed off on the largest federal cannabis crackdown of Obama’s presidency, even as the country’s heroin epidemic exploded. And he did nothing to move the needle on rescheduling when he actually had the power to do so. Funny how things change when politicians retire.
No matter where you live, pay attention to Vermont. Sure, it’s a small state better known for its ice cream than its Blue Dream, but Vermont has quickly become the hot topic in cannabis legalization. The state Senate on Thursday gave its final approval to a plan to legalize cannabis, putting the Green Mountain State on track to be the first state to establish an adult-use program through the legislative process rather than a citizen initiative. Why does that matter? Because it’s easier to dream big when you have lawmakers on board: Artisanal, socialist cannabis, anyone? Stay tuned — Vermont is fast on its way to becoming the next state to go legal.
Montana’s micro dispensaries will stay that way. The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a number of medical marijuana restrictions from 2011 that lawmakers passed in response to the skyrocketing number of patients in the state. Notably, the court left in place a provision that limits medical cannabis providers to only three clients. The ruling also upheld a ban on advertising, though it struck down a law that prevented businesses from charging for cannabis. Between 2008 and 2010, the number of patients in Montana climbed from about 1,000 to more than 25,000. Thanks to the ruling, it’s a safe guess that a lot of those new patients will simply return to the black market.
Canadian patients have a right to grow cannabis. That’s according to a ruling from a federal judge in Vancouver who on Wednesday struck down the country’s ban on home grows. Don’t go grab your shovel just yet, though — the judge suspended the decision for six months “to permit Canada to enact a new or parallel medical marihuana regime.” (Yes, Americans, that’s how it’s spelled in Canada.)
New laws are closing dispensaries across the country. Even though the cannabis sector is booming, individual businesses spend a lot of time in existential fear. Why? Because rules change quickly as state and local governments adjust their positions on cannabis. In a piece out of Detroit, the BBC’s Zoe Thomas looks at how changing regulations across are putting businesses across the country at risk just as the legal industry is getting off the ground.
QUICK HITS: Connecticut is worried it’s late to the party. With Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island making strides toward legalization, experts in Connecticut are expressing concerns the state could miss out on revenue. A former Googler thinks cannabis is the "next internet." He explains in The Globe and Mail why he quit the tech giant to launch coffee/cannabis/lifestyle brand Tokyo Smoke. Legal cannabis isn’t just about profit. The Drug Policy Alliance’s California policy manager Amanda Reiman highlights the positive social change that legalization can bring. What’s up with the FDA and CBD? Marijuana Business Daily has a Q&A with an attorney to help make sense of warnings sent to CBD companies by the Food and Drug Administration. And finally, BloombergBusiness makes our mouths water with cannabis ceviche and other gourmet edibles. Yes, please.