Trump Administration Makes It Harder To Track Marijuana Arrests (But I Did It Anyway)




As reported earlier, new FBI data reveals that drug arrests increased in the United States last year. But due to a change in how the annual law enforcement numbers are publicized, it is now harder to determine how many people were busted for marijuana or other drugs specifically.

Nonetheless, after a bit of outreach and some number crunching I was able to determine that marijuana arrests are on the rise in the U.S., even as more states legalize the drug.

The annual publication, based on data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), has in years past contained a convenient table that shows the percentage of drug arrests accounted for by marijuana possession or heroin or cocaine sales and manufacturing, for example:

FBI’s drug arrest breakdowns for 2015.

 

But the new data, released on Monday, contains no such helpful breakdown.

The removal of the table is part of an overall paring back of information made publicly available with the report.

“The UCR Program streamlined the 2016 edition by reducing the number of tables from 81 to 29,” Stephen G. Fischer Jr., the chief of multimedia productions for the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, said in an email.

 

Helpfully, however, Fischer did share FBI’s internal drug-by-drug breakdown numbers, and here’s what they reveal:

Marijuana possession busts comprised 37.36% of all reported drug arrests in the U.S. in 2016, and cannabis sales and manufacturing arrests accounted for another 4.18% of the total.

Added together, marijuana arrests made up 41.54% of the 1,572,579 drug busts in the country last year.

That means, based on an extrapolation, that police arrested people for cannabis 653,249 times in the U.S. in 2016.

That averages out to about one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds.

According to the same calculation, there were 643,121 U.S. cannabis arrests in 2015.

So arrests for marijuana are on the rise, even as more states legalize it.

One important caveat about the data: The percentages of overall drug arrests accounted for by marijuana possession and sales are extrapolated from a table that includes only data from law enforcement agencies that collected and provided the specific breakdowns. Those numbers account for just over 75% of the total reported drug arrests in the country. Therefore, the calculations could be thrown off by agencies that made particularly large or small numbers of arrests for marijuana as compared to other drugs, depending on which police forces are providing the breakdowns.

This limitation also applies to past years’ widely reported marijuana arrest data based on the formerly public tables, however, and so provides the best (and only) way to track the rise and fall of cannabis arrests over time.



Netflix Is Selling their Own Cannabis Strains

Netflix is nearly 20, and like many millennials, it’s got a little side hustle going. In California, the streaming company is offering a selection of boutique marijuana strains, tailored for the experience of sinking into a couch and letting autoplay do its thing.

According to Variety, there are strains inspired by Netflix shows including Orange is the New BlackLady Dynamite, and Bojack Horseman. Netflix says each variety was “cultivated with the specific shows in mind, designed to complement each title based on their tone.”



 It’s an interesting time for a big company like Netflix to be dallying with Mary Jane – even though this is just a limited-time promotional stunt. Trump administration attorney general Jeff Sessions has repeatedly intimated that he could push back against state reforms that have made pot legal to varying degrees.

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The weed foray is intended to promote Disjointed, a new half-hour show that debuted on Netflix on Friday. The show has been met with rough reviews from critics, with CNN calling it “as stale as an unwashed bong.”

Disjointed’s creator, Chuck Lorre, was also behind Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, shows which proved network audiences will still devour dopey comedies backed by laugh tracks. Whether the same formula does anything for Netflix viewers will probably depend on just how stoned they are.

If you’re reading this, it might already be too late to get the promotional weed, which is reportedly on sale through Sunday through FREE delivery from The Charity Collective in Los Angeles.

We’ve reached out to Netflix to make really, totally sure this is real.

Sessions Backs Off His Marijuana Crackdown


Despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s well-known anti-pot prejudices, a broad federal crackdown on marijuana in states that have legalized it seems unlikely in light of the recommendations from a Justice Department subcommittee charged with studying the issue.

The Associated Press reports that the panel, part of the DOJ’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, “has come up with no new policy recommendations to advance the attorney general’s aggressively anti-marijuana views.”

According to the A.P., which obtained a copy of the unpublished recommendations, the subcommittee does say officials “should evaluate whether to maintain, revise or rescind” the 2013 memo from Deputy Attorney General James Cole that established a policy of prosecutorial restraint regarding state-licensed marijuana businesses.

But the report does not settle on any of those options, and so far Sessions seems inclined to use the Cole memo as a guide to enforcement rather than scrapping it.

The memo, which Sessions has called “truly valuable in evaluating cases,” leaves lots of leeway for more vigorous enforcement of the federal ban on marijuana.

It lists eight “enforcement priorities” that could justify federal action against state-licensed marijuana producers and distributors, several of which are either impossible to fully achieve (e.g., “preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal…to other states”) or so broad that they could always be used as a pretext for a crackdown (e.g. preventing “adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use.”)

As Mike Riggs noted, Sessions recently sent Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson a letter asking how they plan to address several concerns related to the enforcement priorities, including interstate smuggling, stoned driving, and underage consumption.

“Please advise as to how Washington plans…to ensure that all marijuana activity is compliant with state marijuana laws, to combat diversion of marijuana, to protect public health and safety, and to prevent marijuana use by minors,” Sessions wrote.

He also pointedly noted that the Cole memo says “nothing herein precludes investigation or prosecution, even in the absence of any one of the factors listed above, in particular circumstances where investigation and prosecution otherwise serves an important federal interest.”

In short, Sessions could cause a lot of trouble for the newly legal cannabis industry without bothering to retract the Cole memo, which is vague and ambiguous enough to accommodate policies ranging from laissez-faire to prosecution and forfeiture threats that put many or most marijuana merchants out of business. There are several reasons to think Sessions’s approach will land somewhere in the middle.



Sessions has been in charge of the Justice Department for six months, and so far his hostility toward marijuana legalization has not gone beyond rhetorical expressions of concern. It has not resulted in prosecutions, forfeitures, or even threatening letters to cannabusinesses. Nor has Sessions signaled that he plans to challenge state marijuana laws in federal court.

Instead he punted the issue to a committee, which settled on a wait-and-see position that the A.P. describes as “tepid” and “vague.” By contrast, Sessions acted swiftly to step up the war on drugs in other ways, reviving federal “adoption” of civil forfeitures initiated by state or local agencies and establishing a tougher charging policy that is apt to result in more mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

Sessions may recognize that a full-blown cannabis crackdown would not necessarily deliver results he would like.

Since all but one of the eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use allow home cultivation, shutting down state-licensed cannabusinesses would undermine federal enforcement priorities by making production and distribution less visible and harder to monitor.

Likewise a lawsuit that successfully challenged state licensing and regulation of marijuana merchants as contrary to the Controlled Substances Act.

Sessions also may be reluctant to further irk a boss who has been publicly castigating him for weeks over his handling of the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election.

Although the A.P. says the president’s “personal views on marijuana remain mostly unknown,” Trump during his campaign repeatedly said medical use of the plant should be allowed and that states should be free to legalize recreational use as well (although he does not think that’s such a good idea).

Abandoning that commitment would be politically risky for Trump, given that most Americans support marijuana legalization and even more— 71 percent, according to a 2017 Quinnipiac poll—say the federal government should not interfere with it.

Will Canada Put Weed on the Same Shelves as Booze?


VICTORIA, British Columbia—As Canada marches toward federally legal recreational cannabis, one of the most compelling unknowns is what kinds of stores will eventually sell the marijuana.

Some Canadians are already envisioning a future in which a quick stop at the liquor store could net a bottle of wine for dinner, a six pack for the weekend, and a couple eighths of BC Bud.

While most of the legal world has opted to sell retail weed in pot-specific storefronts, aka dispensaries and pot shops, British Columbia and other provinces are being urged by liquor store owners to sell marijuana inside existing liquor stores.

The idea of pot sales in liquor stores isn’t completely foreign. The mayor of Philadelphia floated such a scenario for Pennsylvania, and liquor store owners in Massachusetts were also pushing for the opportunity to retail cannabis. But no such system has ever been implemented.

“On the for side, it’s a good money saver, and we have similar structures in place—things like Serving it Right, a responsible service program that workers have to go through to be a server or someone who sells liquor,” marijuana executive Clayton Chessa told me during a recent conference in Victoria, British Columbia’s stately capital.

“They also have the distribution networks and channels as well as safeguards and security in place to make sure controlled substances aren’t sold to minors.”

But the government’s cannabis task force is against the co-located sales because “the potential for increasing rates of use and co-use run counter to the public health objectives of harm reduction and prevention,” and also because researchers have raised concernsabout the co-use of cannabis and alcohol, saying it can increase overall intoxication.

Many Canadians already working in the cannabis industry also oppose the co-located sales. Sitting inside cozy 420-friendly consumption lounge The Green Ceiling in Victoria, owner Ashley Abraham and her friend Nicole Little questioned the alcohol industry groups’ motives and arguments.

“I think it’s a ludicrous attempt by the powers that be to grab a hold of a market that they’ve actively lobbied against for years,” Abraham said.

Added Little, who manages the neighboring Skunk & Panda Shatter Shack inside the Great Canadian Canna Mall: “Why are these liquor store employees more capable of checking IDs than we are? I don’t see how sending cannabis users into a liquor store is considered compassionate access.”

Even though Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his administration are moving confidently forward with their intent to legalize, there are still many unknowns.

“What the provinces are going to do with these retail cannabis sales is a big question mark,” said Chessa, general manager of operations at Vancouver-based Abattis Bioceuticals Corp, a publicly traded company that runs Health Canada-certified cannabis testing facility Northern Vine Labs. “If they’ve got enough money and the liquor industry can lobby properly, anything’s possible, as we’ve already seen in different industries across the world.”

British Columbia isn’t alone in considering such regulations. Ontario, Manitoba, and possibly other provinces including Alberta are also contemplating such arrangements.

But given British Columbia’s role as the epicenter of cannabis in Canada, the battle is particularly complex in this West Coast province.

“Trudeau’s fundamental goal is to legalize, regulate, and control this substance,” said Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees, aka ABLE BC.

“Legalizing it is his job, and he’s doing that, but regulating and controlling it are boxes we can check pretty easily.”

ABLE BC is one of the primary groups behind the push in British Columbia to sell adult-use pot in liquor stores.

“We think that by using the existing liquor store model, the government is going to be able to offer an efficient, consumer-friendly environment where you have experienced, responsible, and formative staff with expertise in selling controlled substances handling these transactions,” Guignard said.

The multiple organizations lobbying on behalf of the effort say it would save time and money.


“Our most important factors are public safety and responsible usage,” said Stephanie Smith, president of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union, “but we also know that setting up a secondary distribution system and additional levels of oversight and regulation would be extremely costly for British Columbia citizens.

“(Our liquor stores) are age-controlled environments, and the staff in our liquor stores are heavily monitored to ensure they do appropriate ID checks… We see it as a perfect fit.”

The proposed measure is hardly a slam dunk in any province. Former British Columbia Premier Christy Clark came out against the proposal.

“Should (retail cannabis) be co-located to liquor stores? I don’t think so,” Clark said in April. “No one does that in the United States, and you don’t want these two intoxicants sitting beside each other on the shelf.”

But as new British Columbia Premier John Horgan supports the sale of recreational cannabis at liquor stores, the province’s thriving cannabis industry seems solidified against the proposal.

“It makes absolutely no sense,” said Brandon Wright, sitting in the bustling kitchen at Victoria-based Baked Edibles. “BC is so pro-dispensary that I’d have a tough time imagining a model where dispensaries didn’t exist here.”

As two of Wright’s colleagues baked and packaged the brand’s edibles among fragrant mobile pan racks and a modified Canadian flag overhead—sporting a cannabis leaf in place of the more familiar maple leaf—Wright talked on the region’s singular connection to the plant at the center of this now-national debate.

“The lobbyists will have a very difficult time with this in BC,” said Wright, Baked’s general manager. “They’ll have an easier time in other provinces that don’t have such a rich history in cannabis.”

Kyle Cheyne, who employs more than 100 people at his five cannabis dispensaries and three consumption lounges on Vancouver Island, agrees that such a proposal will be a tough sell in British Columbia.

“When it comes to BC, I don’t think we’ll ever in the history of mankind see liquor stores selling marijuana, because it’s very wrong and it doesn’t belong there,” Cheyne, whose shops operate under the Leaf Compassion banner, said while chilling in his newly opened Terp City consumption lounge on Douglas Street, central Victoria’s main drag. “I could see the liquor stores selling cannabis in Alberta, but that’s also where we’ll see the crazy stories about drinking and driving or getting stoned and driving.

“But it’s never happening here.”

Of course not all locals here think British Columbia is off limits for weed sales in liquor stores. Jay Ryan owns Buffy’s Pub and Liquor Store in Sooke, an hour west of Victoria, and he’s actively pushing to be able to sell adult-use cannabis in his bottle shop.

“You already have a distribution chain in place and a set of stores that have been background checked and authorized to sell a controlled substance,” said Ryan, adding that the cannabis sales could take place in a different room, away from the alcohol transactions.

“Having to reinvent the wheel just seems to be a waste of time and money.

“Of course, I’m a little biased on the subject.”

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Proof That Everyone Disagrees with Trump’s Cannabis Stance

It’s not often that Democrats and Republicans are joining forces these days (they currently can’t even agree on nazis.) Which is why this press release that announced a bi-partisan coalition between Donald Trump advisor Roger Stone, and prospective Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida in 2018, John Morgan (who also single-handedly organized and financed the successful campaign to pass a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes in Florida) is so important. Both sides are crossing political lines to ask the president to keep his pledge to let the states decide their own marijuana laws. Here’s hoping the president listens…

BI-PARTISAN COALITION LAUNCHED TO URGE THE PRESIDENT TO KEEP HIS 2016 PLEDGE TO SUPPORT THE STATES RIGHT TO LEGALIZE MEDICINAL MARIJUANA.

New York – Roger Stone, longtime political advisor to President Donald J. Trump and subject of the hit Netflix documentary “Get Me Roger Stone” and Orlando Trial Attorney and potential Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida John Morgan today unveiled the United States Cannabis Coalition, a bi-partisan, pro-cannabis non-profit project dedicated to persuading federal decision makers — including the president – to support the states’ rights when it comes to marijuana laws. The USCC is a project of the United States Freedom Coalition.

Morgan practices law at Morgan and Morgan — one of the country’s pre-eminent personal injury law firms — and was largely responsible for the successful constitutional amendment to legalize medicinal marijuana in Florida. Stone has been advocating for legalization throughout his storied career in the political arena.

The coalition’s principal goal is to urge President Trump to honor the pledge he made during the 2016 campaign to support the states’ authority to legalize possession and distribution of cannabis. To date, 29 states have exercised this authority to various degrees.

“I am highly confident that Donald Trump will protect the access of millions of Americans including our veterans who are currently using cannabis for medicinal purposes” said Stone, who has been a formal and informal advisor to Donald Trump for over 40 years. “I am confident the President will keep his pledge.”

Both Stone and Morgan said that the new coalition which includes a cross section of Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians and Progressives would also urge the President to change the classification of marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug where it is currently grouped with LSD and heroin. Such a move would allow doctors to prescribe it for patients who they believe would benefit.


Derrick Kitts, the former producer of NBC’s Morning Joe will serve as a Senior Consultant to the Coalition and Ryan Criscuolo of Denver, Colorado will serve as Executive Director.

“All Americans can and should come together to stop the war on marijuana. It can no longer be a Schedule 1 narcotic. Pain, disease, and mental illness don’t pick political parties – just people. This is the perfect issue for ‘strange bedfellows’ to come together on and WIN,” said Morgan.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly have both called for a crackdown on marijuana and resumption of the enforcement of Federal laws prohibiting marijuana possession and distribution in the states that have legalized cannabis in contravention of President Trump’s stated position during the campaign.

“The Obama Administration wisely suspended aggressive enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana possession and distribution,” said Morgan, “Attorney General Eric Holder’s directive on the subject chose to respect states’ rights. Unbelievably, now Sessions and Kelly, egged on by the likes of Governor Chris Christie and the new FBI Director, want to void the Holder directive, revive the war on drugs, and prosecute those who are making legal medicinal marijuana available even though their boss has indicated that he doesn’t share their draconian views on the subject.” Morgan concluded.

Stone noted that Sessions had written Congress specifically requesting authority to wage a crackdown on medicinal marijuana after House Republicans passed an appropriations amendment prohibiting the Attorney General from doing so. Former presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer also said a crackdown was coming on more than one occasion.

“The results on legalized marijuana are in” said Morgan. “Opioid deaths are down, opioid related crimes are down, all classes of petty crime are down while state and county revenues have soared. More importantly millions of Americans including our Veterans are getting the medicine they need.”

“These Trump administration officials are disserving the president and ignoring the forthright position he took during the campaign,” said Stone who served as Chairman of Donald Trump’s Presidential Exploratory Committee in 2000 and was a paid consultant to Trump’s exploratory efforts in 2012. Stone resigned from Trump’s 2016 campaign only to reemerge as one of the most active and effective Trump surrogates. He is the author of the bestseller “The Making of the President 2016 – How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution”.

Joining Stone and Morgan on the USCC advisory board at launch are Fox News Legal Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano, Former Congressman and National Co-chair Republican National Committee Thomas B Evans, Jr, WBAI radio commentator and Democratic US Senate candidate Randy Credico Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), Omar NavarroRepublican Candidate for Congress 43rdDistrict – CA, Norm Kent Chairman National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Congressman Matt Gaetz R- Fla., NY State Senator Diane Savino (D-Bronx), Christian JosiFormer Executive Director American Conservative Union, Assemblyman Ron Castorina , Chairman Staten Island Republican Committee, Director of the National Indian Cannabis Coalition Jeff Doctor, Former California Superior Court Judge and 2012 Libertarian Party candidate for Vice President Jim Gray, Elizabeth Everett Texans for Trump, Tyler Nixon Attorney, Denver, Colorado ,longtime columnist and activist Deroy Murdock, Pastor Mark Burns, Easley S.C. ,CATO Institute Scholar Doug Bandow, State Rep. Shamed Dogan R- Mo,Guardian Angels Founder and Chairman of The New York State Reform Party Curtis Sliwa, Sgt Gary Wiegert St. Louis Police Dept, State Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson)- Partial List Advisory Board in formation

“It is our intention to identify, reach, and mobilize, millions of pro-cannabis voters to urge the president to keep his word. It is our intention to press the Trump Administration from the top down to recognize the medicinal value and economic potential of cannabis” said Stone. “We have an innovative, outside the box strategy to win this important fight and I am confident that with our support, the president will ultimately keep his word and do the right thing.”

“In the event that the Trump administration does not keep faith with the millions of voters whose medicinal marijuana he promised to protect, we are prepared to take our bi-partisan effort to both houses of Congress to legalize cannabis and its sale federally.” Said Morgan. “With a coalition of Libertarian-minded Republicans and progressive Democrats we will succeed. At least one member of the Senate has already introduced legislation that would legalize cannabis entirely.

Stone said the USCC would also support additional federal funding for unbiased research into the medicinal benefits and properties of cannabis. “Extensive and well-funded research in Israel indicates the potential for medical breakthroughs and better research in the United States is vital.”

Former Sheriff’s deputies avoid prison for selling marijuana seized in drug raids

Two former Kern County Sheriff’s deputies avoided prison time Monday for stealing and selling marijuana that was seized during drug busts.

Logan August and Derrick Penney were sentenced Monday to three years’ probation for the charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute marijuana, according to the U.S. attorney office in Fresno.

August, a 30-year-old Bakersfield resident, was also ordered to serve 1,500 hours of community service and forfeit $16,500 earned in the trafficking operation, federal authorities said.

Penney, a 34-year-old Star, Idaho, resident, must serve 250 hours in community service and surrender $1,200, federal authorities said.

The former deputies were facing up to five years in prison for the offense.

“The defendants in this case caused a significant breach of the public’s trust when they committed these crimes,” U.S. Atty. Phillip A. Talbert said in a statement. “Not only did they betray the community they were sworn to serve, but also their fellow, hard-working officers who protect the Kern County community every day.”

The former deputies were accused of working with former Bakersfield police detective Patrick Mara and others to steal marijuana from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office storage unit, according federal court documents. The plot transpired between June 2014 and October 2014, according to the documents.

Federal authorities said the group planned to sell the cannabis, which had been previously seized by police during drug operations on private and public properties.

August was assigned to the sheriff’s Major Vendor Narcotics Unit and participated in drug busts. Penney was member of the sheriff’s Gang Suppression Section-Investigations Unit.

Both deputies had department-issued access cards, which they used to enter the storage unit, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Once inside, they tossed the marijuana plants and buds into trash bags, federal authorities said. After stealing the marijuana from the storage unit, they had it trimmed, so it could be sold.

August then handed the eight pounds of marijuana to a confidential informant who sold it for him, federal authorities said.

August shared his earnings with Penney, each receiving about $1,200, according to federal prosecutors. August also gave a portion of the proceeds to Mara, who is about to begin a five-year federal prison sentence in a separate case, authorities said. Mara, a 13-year Bakersfield police veteran, admitted to stealing methamphetamine from drug dealers during traffic stops.

Federal authorities said August took the marijuana from drug busts on 10 separate occasions and gave his informant about 25 pounds of cannabis. After the marijuana was sold, he received thousands of dollars, according to federal prosecutors.

In February 2016, the deputies voluntarily visited FBI offices in Bakersfield and confessed to stealing the marijuana, according to federal court documents.

They pleaded guilty in May for their roles in the trafficking operation.

That same month, August recorded a video message entitled “I am sorry!” during which he apologized to Kern County residents, law enforcement officials and “anybody I had ever worked with that wears the badge that I disgraced.”



Seated with his wife, August talked directly to the camera during the nearly 7-minute YouTube video, saying Satan was “playing games” with him.

“I made a horrible decision,” he said. “It was nobody else’s fault. Nobody influenced me to do it. I made that decision based on Satan playing games with me and making me feel like I was prideful and unable to go to family members for help.”

Before Monday’s sentencing, August’s close friends, relatives and former coworkers submitted letters to the court, pleading for leniency in the sentencing process.

In one letter, Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Wonderly described working closely with August and Penney on SWAT and narcotics teams.

“I do not judge people by mistakes they have made. I have never lived that way and I was never trained that way,” Wonderly wrote. “Mistakes by Logan and Derrick do not define them and will never compare to the amazing achievements they have accomplished in their lives.”

August’s attorney, David Torres, said his client does not plan to work in law enforcement again. August is running a private personal training business and has been organizing fundraising events for local charities, Torres said.

“It was obvious to the court that Mr. August was genuinely remorseful for the acts he committed and the taint he brought upon fellow law enforcement officers,” Torres said. “Nevertheless, [the judge] gave this young man an extraordinary opportunity to give back to his community by performing 1,500 hours of community service.”

Texas state senator pushes for medical marijuana

AUSTIN – A bill filed in the state senate on Friday is pushing for the expansion of medical marijuana in Texas.

State Senator Jose Menendez filed Senate Bill 79 Friday in an attempt to expand the disorders for which medical marijuana can be used.

A study done in May shows support for medical marijuana in Texas is up four percent from two years ago. However, that does not mean Senate Bill 79 will make it onto the special session agenda.

SB 79 would extend medical marijuana usage from intractable epilepsy to include post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, traumatic brain injuries and other “debilitating conditions”.

Karen Reeves, an advocate for Cannabis reform in Waco said it is a step in the right direction as support continues to grow in Texas.

“Very encouraged to hear Senator Menendez is not giving up the fight for Texas patients to have medical freedom to use medical cannabis,” Reeves said. “I’m glad he did re-file for the special session.”

But representative Hugh Shine draws on his military experience saying he won’t support legalization. He said it is a gateway to abuse.

“I have seen first-hand the ill effects of marijuana and illegal drugs in the lives of young teenagers and because of that experience, I will not be able to support that legislation,” Shine said.



Menendez a state senator out of the San Antonio area also filed Senate Bill 269 for medical cannabis reform.

Now, it is up to Governor Greg Abbot to put to bill on the agenda during the special session.

We’ll see what outcome for medical marijuana in Texas will be and what sides are chosen.

The attorney general personally opposes marijuana, and seems willing to ignore evidence. Bummer.

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 13: Marijuana legalization advocates and members of community groups attend a rally against marijuana arrests in front of One Police Plaza on June 13, 2012 in New York City. The New York City Council is set to vote on a resolution that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has urged the state’s lawmakers to pass the law which many say leads to the arrests of a disproportion of minority youths. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Marijuana legalization is going smoothly in Colorado and Oregon, state officials recently told the Justice Department as it prepares for a shift in federal law enforcement priorities that could include changes to marijuana policy.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch drug opponent, nevertheless is considering reversing the Obama administration’s relaxed approach to state legalization, and may resume strictly enforcing federal laws, which still regard all marijuana use as illegal.

Sessions in February named a task force to review U.S. enforcement of laws surrounding immigration, drug trafficking and violent crime. Colorado and Oregon, among the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, submitted lengthy reports to Justice Department officials, detailing well-regulated legal marijuana industries that generate vast tax revenue and no measurable increase in crime or health problems.

The task force forwarded its proposals last week, Sessions said, but the Justice Department wouldn’t disclose what they are.

“Those recommendations went to the AG,” spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said. “We’ll make announcements on policy changes when we have announcements to make.”

Colorado and Oregon ― among eight legal-weed states that know the issues best ― produced detailed reports on their experiences, officials said.

A 140-page report from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s (D) office contains data and analysis from six state agencies, showing that the state’s 2014 marijuana legalization didn’t significantly increase youth drug abuse, school dropouts or juvenile arrests.

Statistics do show a rise in car crashes and fatalities involving motorists testing positive for cannabinoids. But Colorado’s report notes the statistics may not prove more drivers are intoxicated, because inactive marijuana compounds can be detected for more than a month in some individuals. Marijuana DUIs have declined 21 percent in the first six months of 2017 from the same period a year earlier.

Colorado reported collecting $459.5 million in marijuana taxes as of May, and used the money for school construction, regulation and enforcement of marijuana laws, youth prevention programs, substance-abuse treatment programs, and public education campaigns.

Legalization has “facilitated the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars into the Federal Reserve System that would otherwise exist outside of the nation’s banking system,” the report says. Even though federal banking regulations continue to force the industry to rely on cash, the report says, legalization helps ensure the money is “not diverted to criminal enterprises.”

A 19-page report prepared by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s (D) office gives a positive view of legalization that safeguards public safety, and describes the state’s robust system tracking weed from seed to sale. The document was first made public in June following a records request by Oregonian reporter Noelle Crombie.

Oregon’s report acknowledges the continued existence of a marijuana black market. It also notes legalization’s hiccups, including “overproduction” and new laws it needed to place limits on growers and to increase penalties for marijuana-related crimes.

Oregon reported collecting more than $60 million in marijuana taxes in 2016.

“We passed legislation to tighten down seed-to-sale tracking in the medical arena,” Brown told HuffPost in an interview late last month. “My staffers on this are working very closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

Brown said Sessions’ Justice Department hadn’t yet done anything to undermine the state’s laws.

“It is just making everyone nervous,” Brown said. “I haven’t seen anything ― it’s just different.”

Oregon and Colorado are among eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have medical marijuana laws (17 other states have laws allowing limited use of cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in pot that some say has therapeutic properties).

It’s unclear whether other states submitted reports to Sessions’ office or met with task force members.

Washington state, which also legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, has sent Sessions’ office three letters defending the state’s legalization scheme under current federal policy, and requested a meeting with Sessions, a representative from Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) office told HuffPost.

Inslee’s office received a reply from Sessions on Wednesday expressing skepticism of the state’s marijuana legalization. Sessions’ letter cites a 2016 law enforcement report that he says “raises serious questions about the efficacy of marijuana ‘regulatory structures’ in your state.”

States have pressed forward with legalization under Obama administration guidance urging federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations. But that guidance could be reversed or altered by Sessions in ways that could doom thriving industries many states now consider legal.

National support for marijuana legalization has risen dramatically in recent years, reaching historic highs. A Quinnipiac poll from earlier this year found that 94 percent of Americans support allowing adults to use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.

Advocates said the Colorado and Oregon reports confirm the success of state laws.

“This huge compilation of data shows that legalization is working very well,” said Tom Angell, chairman of drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority. “Legalizing marijuana is not only overwhelmingly supported by a growing majority of voters, it also protects public health and safety in the ways we always said it would.”

Mason Tvert, vice president of public relations and communications with VS Strategies, a Denver-based communications and government relations firm focused on marijuana policy, who was also instrumental in the passage of Colorado’s recreational marijuana ballot measure, said that if the Justice Department goal is to promote public health and safety, “it would be entirely counterproductive to dismantle the thoughtful state and local regulatory frameworks that have been established in states like Colorado.”

“The DOJ can either support state and local officials and work with them to control cannabis, or they can support criminals and cartels by forcing cannabis back into the illegal market,” Tvert said.

Sen. Cory Booker Wants to Make Marijuana Legal Across U.S.— Could That Curb Opioid Epidemic?

Sen. Cory Booker introduced a wide-reaching bill on Tuesday that would drop the federal prohibition on marijuana and even encourage states to legalize the drug.

In an announcement on Facebook Live, Booker, D-N.J., ran through the reasons why he believes the war on drugs has failed: families torn apart; billions in taxpayer dollars wasted; too many Americans behind bars — especially people of color and the poor.

Legalizing marijuana, he said, would go a long way to solving those national problems.

But there’s another potential side effect to the Marijuana Justice Act — one that Booker says had not been on his mind when he started working on it: Legal pot, according to some researchers and advocates, could help blunt the opioid epidemic.

“I’ve seen a lot of very compelling preliminary data that shows there is a drop in opioid overdoses in areas that have better access to marijuana,” Booker said in a phone interview with NBC News on Tuesday, adding that he looked forward to seeing more research.

The bill comes as the Trump administration, particularly Attorney General Jeff Sessions, vows to get tough on marijuana — a crackdown that Booker said just adds to the “urgency” of his legalization push.

Sessions, a fierce opponent of legal pot, has scoffed at the idea that weed could be used as a weapon against opioid addiction. “Give me a break,” Sessions said during a speech in February, later adding: “Maybe science will prove I’m wrong.”

A recent study found that in states where it is legal to use medical marijuana for chronic pain, hospitals ended up treating far fewer opioid users.

Hospitalization rates for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse fell 23 percent on average in states where pot was allowed for medicinal purposes, according to the study published earlier this year in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. And hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average, the study found.

In a 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found the annual number of deaths from prescription drug overdose is 25 percent lower in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The findings suggest that legal pot could help fight the scourge of opioids — a growing crisis that claims the lives of 91 Americans every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s a super intriguing idea,” said Dr. Esther Choo, a professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University who studies substance abuse. “I think it totally makes sense.”

Choo, who was not involved in either of the studies, cautioned that doctors and scientists need to keep studying the potential health hazards of marijuana.

The cannabis industry operates in an unusual legal gray area. Eight states have legalized the drug even though the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a Schedule I substance — meaning it’s considered more dangerous than cocaine (Schedule II) or ketamine (Schedule III), the oft-abused pet tranquilizer. Booker’s bill would remove pot from the Schedule 1 category.

At one rehab center in California, drug treatment specialists have reported seeing some opioid addicts make incredible strides with marijuana.

Can marijuana help wean addicts off heroin and other opiates?

“We know anecdotally, but with a lot of confidence, that it helps people with detox and it helps people stay off opiates,” said Joe Shrank, the co-founder of High Sobriety, a Los Angeles treatment clinic where pot smoking is not only tolerated but encouraged.

For many of the facility’s patients, marijuana is an “exit drug.”

“If we’re dropping almost 100 bodies a day [due to the opioid crisis], we should be looking at all options,” Shrank said. “If there are people who want to use cannabis to get off and stay off opioids … I’m, like, good with that. You’re not gonna drop dead. You’re gonna have chances in life.”

Many medical professionals, however, remain extremely skeptical of marijuana’s usefulness when it comes to treating opioid addicts.

“I have never seen it,” said Dr. Libby Stuyt, the medical director of a 90-day inpatient treatment program at the Colorado Mental Health Institute.

Image: Marijuana
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“I would support decriminalizing marijuana nationally … so we can research it,” said Stuyt, who has worked for more than two decades in the addiction field. “But I just can’t imagine that continued marijuana use … would keep people sober.”

In an interview with NBC News’ Ronan Farrow in May, former President Barack Obama’s onetime deputy drug czar suggested marijuana was not a suitable treatment for opioid dependency, saying he fears addicts will use both substances simultaneously.

“It would be a supplement,” said A. Thomas McLellan, the former deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Earlier this year, a National Academies report found evidence that cannabis can successfully treat chronic pain, as well as chemotherapy-induced nausea and plasticity. The report, based on a survey of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts, did not find evidence of overdose deaths linked to cannabis.

Meanwhile, Booker’s bill faces an uphill and very likely insurmountable climb on Capitol Hill.

That despite a majority of the American people — 60 percent, according to a Gallup survey from October — saying they support legal marijuana across the land.

Suspect dead and 2 deputies shot in California after dispute over marijuana

A man suspected of shooting two deputies in a remote location in California’s Central Valley is dead, the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed.

The deputies were following up on a call on Tuesday afternoon about an agitated man who was allegedly pulling marijuana plants from the ground in the garden of a rural Rastafarian church, police said. One of the deputies was shot multiple times, police said.

Two deputies arrived on the scene and chased the suspect on foot before losing sight of him, police said. A third deputy arrived and searched a home in which he believed the suspect to be hiding, which is where the shootings took place, police said.

The suspect was found dead inside of the home, police said. His name has not been released at this time.

The two deputies were airlifted from the scene for treatment, and are in serious condition, the sheriff’s department said. One of the deputies has undergone surgery, and the other remains in surgery, the department added.

The names of the deputies will be released after they have been connected with their families, according to the sheriff’s department.

The incident comes just a day after two police officers were shot in Los Banos, California, during a struggle with a man who was suspected of breaking into his estranged wife’s apartment, according to a report in the Associated Press.

ABC News’ Emile Richardson contributed to this report.