Politics 

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

The Shake: State Dept. Says DEA is Wrong on Cannabis

State Department says DEA’s cannabis research policy doesn’t add up. You know how legalization opponents sometimes say we “don’t know enough” about cannabis to end prohibition? If you’re a scientist who wants to study cannabis in the U.S., the only way to obtain it legally is through the University of Mississippi, the sole entity with a federal license to operate. Other institutions have applied for licenses, longtime advocate Tom Angell reports, but the DEA has repeatedly stood in their way on the grounds that international treaties prevent the U.S. from granting more licenses. Well, the State Department says that’s hooey. In a letter released Thursday in response to questions from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement says it interprets international law very differently: “Nothing in the text of the Single Convention, nor in the Commentary, suggests that there is a limitation on the number of licenses that can be issued,” the letter says. The limit, sometimes called the “NIDA monopoly” because the National Institute of Drug Abuse administers the licenses, has stymied research since it began in 1968. It feeds prohibitionists’ “not enough research” argument, and it grinds research involving cannabis-based therapies almost to a halt. But as Angell writes, “While the situation has long been referred to by advocates as the ‘NIDA monopoly,’ the blame lies squarely at DEA’s feet.”

Oakland wants to be the cannabis capital of California. The City Council voted unanimously this week to expand the number of dispensaries and other cannabusinesses allowed within city limits. The new law adds eight dispensary licenses and lays the groundwork for a projected 30 growers, 12 delivery services, two testing facilities, 28 manufacturing facilities, and more. Oakland also became the first to include a so-called equity amendment in its regulations that requires the city to grant half the new business licenses to applicants who live in areas of Oakland that have traditionally had higher cannabis-related arrests. Councilmember Desley Brooks, who authored the amendment, says it's aimed at increasing opportunities for people of color to secure a spot in the ballooning market.

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

A 15-year-old girl was suspended from school for cannabis — even though she passed a drug test. North Carolina student Jakayla Johnson’s suspension, for "drug possession," was based on the determination that she smelled like the plant. She took a drug test and tested negative, but the school suspended her anyway. Her mother worries the matter will follow Jakayla for the rest of her life. 

Want to expand your cannabusiness? We told you a while ago how companies are using licensing deals to build their brands in other states. That can sound a lot like a franchise arrangement — but it’s decidedly not, writes lawyer Alison Malsbury: “Get it right or face the consequences.” 

Obama commutes sentences of 58 people in federal prison on drug charges. It adds to a growing list of clemency announcements by the White House as President Obama’s tenure draws to an end. “The president is acting,” said the Drug Policy Alliance. “Congress must step up too.” 

 State of the Leaf: Germany Could Legalize Medical Marijuana and Iceland Loves Its Cannabis

Jamaica adopts regulations to guide new ganja industry. The country’s fledgling Cannabis Licensing Authority this week approved regulations to kick off the country’s cannabis market, the Jamaica Gleaner reports. The CLA will now begin accepting applications to license farmers and other businesses. 

California and Washington tighten regulations on vape products. A lot of reports so far have focused on the tobacco angle — starting in June, consumers must be 21 or older to buy cigarettes in California — but the changes will affect vaporizers, too. Daniel Shortt at Canna Law Blog has the rundown

And finally, here’s a headline where “devil weed” doesn’t refer to cannabis. Now that’s progress. 

 ‘Just Add Weed’: How Brand Licensing Allows Cannabis Companies to Expand Across State Lines