Global commission urges end to drug war. Less than a month before the opening of the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, a.k.a. UNGASS, a group of world leaders are pressuring the United Nations to halt and reverse the international war on drugs. The Global Commission on Drug Policy, led by luminaries including former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and entrepreneur Richard Branson, released a statement earlier today calling for an end to the criminalization and incarceration of drug users. The group outlined steps to shift the entire drug policy paradigm, taking it out of the realm of law enforcement and putting it in the hands of health agencies. The UNGASS conference takes place April 19–21, and a number of drug policy reform groups are hoping it could lead to a seismic shift from punishment to harm reduction.
The pesticide problem grows in Washington. Leafly contributor Tobias Coughlin-Bogue broke some disturbing news last night in the Stranger. The headline: “25 More Products on Shelves at Recreational Marijuana Stores Have Tested Positive for Illegal Pesticides.” Ugh. Of 37 Washington state concentrate and flower products tested by the Clean Cannabis Association and Trace Analytics, 25 failed. Three of ten flower samples tested positive for illegal pesticides; 22 of 27 concentrate products failed. We always sensed that Colorado’s pesticide problem was not limited to a single state, folks. Now the dismal (but absolutely necessary) disclosure has reached Washington State. California, it’s coming your way soon. More on this story later today on Leafly.
Montana state agencies clash over MMJ policy. In Big Sky Country, the age-old drug policy battle between law enforcement and health agencies is playing out at a scale a bit smaller than the United Nations. We’ve covered the recent state Supreme Court decision in Montana, which threatens to close most of the state’s MMJ dispensaries and leave 10,000 of the state’s 13,593 patients without medicine. Now the state’s justice and health departments are at odds over implementing the decision. The law enforcement folks want the court decision implemented now, as in today, as in shut ‘em down. The Montana Department of Health and Human Services is siding with local medical marijuana advocates, who are asking for a longer grace period. “We support delaying this decision until the 2017 Legislature has a chance to respond,” a health department spokesperson told the Associated Press. Montana’s state Legislature meets only during odd-numbered years, so local pols will have no opportunity to address the situation in 2016.
New Orleans takes a half-step in the right direction. Three days after the city got called out, again, for the outrageous incarceration of Bernard Noble (who’s serving 13 years in prison for two joints), the New Orleans city council passed an ordinance that allows police officers to issue fines instead of jail time for cannabis possession. Police will still be able to arrest people for possession, however, and book them on state charges. While we’re all for half steps of progress, the change will likely mean that more white people will get off with tickets while black people still face arrest. We wish it weren't so, but that’s how these laws tend to work.
AGs in Arkansas and Ohio keep on rejecting cannabis-related initiatives. As in, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge just rejected a proposal for the seventh time. She cited “ambiguities in the text,” according to the Associated Press. A separate proposal, which would legalize medical use, has won Rutledge’s approval. Supporters of the measure, submitted by Little Rock lawyer David Couch, need to gather 85,000 signature to get the measure on November’s ballot. In Ohio, state AG Mike DeWine rejected a medical marijuana measure for the fourth time, claiming at least 11 defects in a proposal by Ohio Medical Cannabis Care LLC. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try— well, you get the picture.
QUICK HITS: A Denver cannabis consultant expects a product shortage in Colorado and Oregon once those state’s new quality control testing regimes kick in this summer. The testing “will knock significant amounts of cannabis out of circulation due to noncompliance,” they predict. In College Ward, Utah, stupid people growing cannabis made stupid choices. When Sam Benavidez refused to leave the home of his older brother Ben, Ben called the cops on his annoying little brother. Cops came. Cops detected a certain odor emanating from the basement. Cops discovered the grow and arrested both brothers. Boys, please. Clean up your act. And finally, Snoop’s errant post boosted the Romanian tourism industry. Apparently Snoop Dogg Instagrammed a photo earlier this week taken in Bogota, Columbia. He mistakenly tagged the location as the Central European hamlet of Bogota, Romania. A few days later, a Romanian media company launched Visit Bogota, a site promoting the village as a tourism destination: “the best place for chillin’ in Romania.”