The Shake: SCOTUS Rejects Colorado Lawsuit, Infused Nutella Is a Thing NowBen AdlinMarch 21, 2016
Colorado cannabis dodges U.S. Supreme Court challenge. The high court on Monday declined to hear a case brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma, who claim Colorado’s adult-use legalization has led to a spike in cannabis coming into their jursidiction. The Obama administration sided with Colorado, though it opposes cannabis legalization generally. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would’ve heard the lawsuit. “The plaintiff States have alleged significant harms to their sovereign interests caused by another State,” Thomas wrote in a dissent. Read more here.
Federal government no good at handling cannabis, federal government says. The Government Accountability Office — a very important (and very boring) behind-the-scenes federal agency — criticized Congress and the Justice Department for failing to adequately monitor, study, or oversee legalization efforts at the state level. You can dive in to the nitty-gritty details over at the Hill or read the GAO report in full, but the upshot is this: If the feds keep tiptoeing around the issue as states take more hands-on approaches, things could get really messy really quickly.
Centers for Disease Control to doctors: Ignore cannabis. Opioid painkiller overdose deaths have become an epidemic in the United States. In response, the CDC last week advised doctors to stop routine testing of pain patients for cannabis. The tests provide little benefit, the institution explained, and could actually increase overdose deaths. Why? Because early indications are that cannabis allows pain patients to make do with lower opioid doses or stop taking prescription painkillers altogether. It’s a good step forward — and also another frustrating example of the federal government talking out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to cannabis policy.
Legalization is failing people of color. The push for legal cannabis isn’t all about tasty dabs and strains with silly names. It’s an ongoing effort to construct a more just and reasonable society — to right decades’ worth of wrongs. So while it’s great to see cannabis arrests nosediving in states that have legalized, it’s troubling that racial disparities persist. In Washington and Colorado, arrests for cannabis between 2008 and 2014 fell by 90 percent and 60 percent, respectively. But racial differences didn’t change at all — in both states, the arrest rates for black people were more than double that of other races, both before and after legalization. If that weren’t bad enough, high startup costs and strict state licensing requirements are keeping many entrepreneurs of color out of the cannabis market. We must do better.
Cannabis-infused Nutella is a thing now. In happier news, a Canadian entrepreneur has come out with hazelnut–chocolate Chrontella as well as Pif, an infused peanut butter that riffs on Jif. A jar of either contains about 300 mg of cannabis extract (roughly 30 standard servings) and goes for about $23 — but it’s only available in Canada. Clint Rainey over at Grub Street captures our feelings perfectly with this painful play on words: “the perfect way to add the incr- to your edible.” Someone get Rainey a crêpe already.
For Arkansas, there’s good news and there’s bad news. Here’s the bad news: According to the wonks at Canna Law Blog, yours is America’s 11th crappiest state when it comes to cannabis laws. What’s to blame? A lack of any medical cannabis allowance whatsoever and harsh punishments for possession. But now the good news: You have the power to change all that. There are two medical initiatives vying for the November ballot, and one, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act, recently obtained enough signatures to qualify. Read more over at ABC’s Little Rock affiliate, KATV, then go register to vote if you haven’t already.
Massachusetts officials really, really hate cannabis. If you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on in the state, you probably knew that already. The latest attack comes from state Sen. Jason M. Lewis, who chairs a special legislative committee on cannabis. Shortly after the committee published a report on legalization in the state, Lewis came out in opposition to a pending adult-use ballot measure. He claims legalization would boost the accessibility of cannabis for minors and increase the perception among kids that the substance is safe to use. For a guy who just oversaw a taxpayer-funded research project about legalization, you’d think Lewis would try harder to get his facts straight.
QUICK HITS: Cannabis growers are looking to “traditional farmers” for lessons. Because — get ready for it — it turns out cannabis is just a plant. If you haven’t heard, there’s a lot of money in cannabis. The latest guesstimate says Americans will drop $23 billion a year in the legal market by 2020. So should California lawmakers tax medical cannabis? Aimee Kuvadia at CannabisWire weighs the pros and cons. Israel may be an industry leader in medical cannabis, but it won’t decriminalize. A bill that would’ve allowed the possession of up to five grams for personal use fell flat in committee, the Times of Israel reports. Uruguay was the world’s first country to legalize cannabis. But according Foreign Policy, things there are still very complicated. Colorado Springs good Samaritans rewarded with joints. Volunteers who cleaned up a local park were given a pre-roll for every bag of trash they collected. Detroit’s dispensary zoning map is so amusing we’re writing a whole story about it. But since you’ve made it this far, here’s a sneak peek courtesy of Michael Jackman at the Detroit Metro Times. More than half of Canadian voters approve of “grow your own” ruling. A federal court decision said medical patients have a right to cultivate cannabis for personal use, and 56 percent of voters think that’s a good thing. Civilized writer James McClure asks the question that’s been on all our minds: Does Canadian legalization open the door to sparking up in Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle? And finally, hemp shoes? Hemp shoes. Just in time for 4/20.