Politics 

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

The Shake: Ohio’s MMJ Campaign Shuts Down

Ohio’s MMJ campaign calls it quits. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana announced over the weekend that it’s suspended its effort to put a medical cannabis legalization measure on November’s ballot. Some are greeting the announcement as a sign the campaign’s goal was to put pressure on the state Legislature to pass an MMJ law, as the move came immediately after lawmakers passed a measure of their own. The bill, which the campaign called a “moderately good piece of legislation,” still awaits the signature of Gov. John Kasich. If he doesn’t sign, cannabis legalization efforts in Ohio will (again) have to wait until next year.

Meanwhile, new group — TACO — wants to decriminalize in Ohio. A group of Athens, Ohio, residents are circulating a petition to put a decriminalization measure on November’s ballot. The initiative is calling itself The Athens Cannabis Ordinance, or, more deliciously, TACO. TACO wants to remove the penalty for minor cannabis offenses and lower the fine for felony offenses to a fine of $1. Suddenly we’re craving $1 tacos.

Racial disparities continue, this time in California. Black and Latino people in the state were hit with disproportionately high rates of cannabis-related infractions compared to whites, according to the latest data-crunching by the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU of California. Analyzing numbers from the Los Angeles and Fresno police departments, the groups found that police issued infractions to black people at four times the rate of white people. Latinos were cited at 1.5 times the rate of whites. That’s despite the fact that cannabis use is roughly equal across racial and ethnic lines, the groups note. It’s not only California: Racial disparities persist in Oregon, Colorado, and nearly every other legal state that’s released enforcement data. (It's also an issue in terms of industry representation.) It’s a disillusioning situation for advocates who saw legalization as a way to address the longtime racial inequities of the drug war.

 ‘NJWeedman’ is No Joke. He’s New Jersey’s Cannabis Pioneer.

Toronto fallout continues. Last week’s widespread raids by Toronto police led to nearly 90 arrests at dispensaries in the city and stirred up no small amount of controversy among patients and advocates. Mayor John Tory, who had warned of a crackdown on unlicensed dispensaries, said over the weekend he played no role in ordering the raids. The shakeup has also aggravated existing divisions in Canada’s legalization movement, with advocates already arguing over how to respond to the police actions. (Here’s the Toronto PD press release, a map of the dispensaries raided, and how to contact the department.)

Edmonton entrepreneurs are gearing up. “Women Grow Edmonton is already looking at how female entrepreneurs, in particular, can get in on the green,” CBC News reports. The local chapter of the national organization launched last month and is already attracting upward of 100 people to its events. Next meeting: This Friday afternoon at the St. Albert Rugby Club.

Toronto Totals: 43 Dispensaries Raided, 90 Arrested Over 'Quality Control'

Illinois looks to extend MMJ program to 2020. Since its beginnings, the state’s medical marijuana pilot program planned to sunset at the end of 2017. But the Illinois House recently passed a measure that would extend the end date to July 1, 2020. The measure now goes to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass.

Louisiana fisherman lands unusual catch. Capt. Theophile Bourgeois was fishing with buddies on a Louisiana barrier island when he came across a rectangular brick, wrapped in plastic. The cannabis brick, seeds stems and all, was clearly, in the words of the fisherman, “skunk weed.” The brick was quite old and waterlogged, with no indication of its origin, the fisherman said: “There was no labeling on it like, ‘Uncle Joe’s pot’ or anything.” 

How Scientists Debunked a Study About Medical Marijuana Laws and Underage Use

“Cannabis damages DNA” study called out as bunk. An Australian study last week claimed that cannabis users are damaging their DNA and passing on altered genes to future generations. Upon closer examination, however, critics found the researchers performed no actual tests to back up their controversial claim. Ethan Russo, a leading cannabinoid researcher, stated that cannabis does not produce DNA mutations, birth defects, or cancer. The study’s claims, Russo said, are unequivocally false.  

Anti-legalization group launches in Maine. Scott Gagnon, chairman of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Maine, today announced the creation of prohibitionist organization Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities, which opposes cannabis legalization. Gagnon ticked off a laundry list of common prohibitionist concerns: pot gummy bears, increased hospital admissions, and children, children, children. (All of which legalization advocates are concerned about, too — they just want to address them with a better plan than prohibition.) Centralmaine.com has the story

NCIA and ArcView urge Nasdaq to reconsider MassRoots listing. The industry group and investor network, respectively, wrote an open letter to Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld, urging him to “treat cannabis companies fairly.” They warn that Nasdaq’s precedent set by denying MassRoots stock listing effort “could prevent nearly every business in the regulated cannabis industry from listing on Nasdaq” and other major exchanges. 

 Nasdaq Rejects MassRoots Stock Listing Bid