Politics 

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

The Shake: The Shire’s Pipe Weed Shortage, a Safer St. Paddy’s, and Whitewashing the Green Rush

It's St. Paddy’s Day. Once you’re done making ‘green’ jokes, go read Jane West’s piece on celebrating a safer St. Patrick’s Day. On average, West writes, 276 people die in drunk driving accidents every time the holiday rolls around — more than double the normal casualty rate. A billboard in Boston, where Mayor Martin J. Walsh and others have come out staunchly against legalization, echoes West’s point: Cannabis is a much safer alternative to alcohol. Whether you’re celebrating St. Paddy’s or not, drop in to #saferstpats on Twitter tonight and join the party by proxy. Cheers!   

Don’t just think of the children. Study them. You worry relaxing cannabis laws will inspire a whole bunch of minors to spark up? It’s a righteous concern, but it’s misplaced. A new study out of Canada shows cannabis use among school-aged children at its lowest level since the 1980s, having fallen steadily for 12 straight years. That adds to a body of existing evidence that legalization doesn’t lead to higher teen use. (Students in Oregon are actually more concerned about the risks of cannabis than they were before legalization there.) Are there studies to the contrary? Sure, but at least one turned out to be bogus. Crazy idea: Thoughtful regulation of and education about cannabis might actually do more to prevent underage use than keeping the failed drug war running on autopilot.

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

The Shire is running low on pipe weed! Which is a fancy way of saying: There’s a cannabis shortage in New Zealand! Don Rowe, a writer at The Spinoff, reports that bud is “almost unobtainable in any meaningful amount right now” — a situation he calls “catastrophic.” How does something like this happen? “Blame it on the police, the gangs, the weather or just the grow cycle of your average cannabis harvest,” Rowe writes. “No matter which way you slice it, it’s dry out there.” If you need cannabis for medical reasons, at least you’ve got options. Er, one option. Sativex, an infused mouth spray and the only legal form of medical cannabis in the country, is available for an entirely reasonable NZ$1,000 (about $685) a month.

Is the green rush being whitewashed? In a long, important article about racial equity and the fast-growing cannabis industry, BuzzFeed News reporter Amanda Chicago Lewis says yes. Steep regulatory costs and legal barriers to entry are making it difficult for black Americans and other people of color to capture a piece of the growing cannabusiness pie, she explains. Have some time to kill? Read the whole story. Busy at work? Bookmark it. Thousands upon thousands of people support legalization because they’ve been told it will help address some of the most profound racial disparities in the United States. That can’t be an empty promise.

A Top Cannabis Recruiter on Hiring and Getting Hired in the Cannabis Industry

Arizona is in court over all of the things. There are a lot of big questions that come up once a state gets medical cannabis laws on the books, and Arizona is dealing with a few at once. The state Supreme Court agreed this week to hear a pair of appeals centering on whether the smell of cannabis is enough to justify a search by police. Appeals courts in the state have issued contradictory rulings on the issue, the Associated Press reports: A three-judge panel of the state’s Phoenix division ruled that the plain smell of cannabis is sufficient to establish probable cause, but a divided panel out of the Tuscon division ruled that further evidence is needed. (If you’re outside Arizona, the court’s conclusion won’t apply to you. This kind of thing varies from state to state. Ask a lawyer, because I’m not one.) In a separate matter that could make waves nationally, Arizona’s Maricopa County is trying to prevent a dispensary from opening on the grounds it’s illegal under federal law. The dance around federal preemption is a common one, but an unfavorable opinion could bleed into other states. We’ll keep you posted.

The Pennsylvania Capitol goes green. Literally. But more important, figuratively. The state House of Representatives passed a medical cannabis bill on Wednesday, putting Pennsylvania on track to become the 24th state to legalize medical use. The bill now heads to the Senate and, if it passes there, to the governor’s office. But things look promising: The Senate approved a similar measure last year, and Gov. Tom Wolf has said he’ll support the change.

Pennsylvania House Votes to Legalize Medical Cannabis

QUICK HITS: Business Insider says a new cannabis-based epilepsy drug “could drastically change our perception of pot.” In large part because a pharmaceutical bottle is, for some reason, less controversial than dried flowers. “It will have the hallmarks of a true pharmaceutical medicine,” says the company’s VP of investor relations. Except the high overdose rate, presumably. New York’s medical cannabis program is off to a slow start. A new crop of bills could speed things along and open the program to more patients, but the proposals’ prospects aren’t yet clear. Oregon’s cannabis officials field questions — lots of questions — from industry. You can read the whole Q&A over at Oregon Live, but extracts artists might want to start here. Want to own a piece of the cannabis industry? U.S. News & World Report has a how-to guide to investing in the fledgling market. Or you can help crowdfund Med-X. The cannabis pest-management company is seeking $15 million. (They actually told you about it on Leafly awhile ago.) Interested? Be sure to read our piece on cannabis crowdfunding first. And finally, Colorado police are learning about cannabis! Which is great, but, like, shouldn’t it have happened a while ago?

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