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Will Sessions’s anti-cannabis move actually help legalization? (Newsletter: Jan 8, 2017)

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Another poll shows majority legalization support; Sessions & Gardner to meet; Lots of state bills filed

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

A Pew poll found that Americans support legalizing marijuana, 61% – 37%.

I put together some thoughts about how U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s anti-marijuana move might actually be good for legalization.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) says he told Sessions in a phone call that he will be blocking all Justice Department nominations over the Trump administration’s marijuana policy change. The two are set to meet this week. The nomination block threat stands to leave several key posts unfilled for the foreseeable future.

/ FEDERAL

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is working with California officials to formulate a response to the Trump administration’s anti-marijuana move.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said Justice Department marijuana changes won’t affect government doctors’ ability to talk with veterans about cannabis.

Montana’s U.S. attorney said he would focus “on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our citizens and communities.”

Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who authored the Cole memo, spoke about its rescission.

A federal judge scheduled oral arguments in a lawsuit against marijuana’s Schedule I status for February 14.

President Trump said that countries with “harsh” drug policies see “less difficulty,” adding: “We are going to be working on that very, very hard this year, and I think we’re going to make a big dent into the drug problem.” He also tweeted that he spoke with Cabinet and military officials about “the ever increasing Drug and Opioid Problem.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, criticized Sessions’s anti-marijuana move and said that cannabis could become a campaign issue in 2018.

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who is running against U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), is making marijuana a campaign issue.

Members of Congress from Colorado held a conference call to discuss legislative responses to the Sessions marijuana move. U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) sent a letter asking the attorney general to rescind the anti-marijuana guidance, while Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) sent a letter asking President Trump to overrule Sessions on cannabis.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said the Sessions marijuana move could be an impetus for Congress to end prohibition.

Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) said he supports the Sessions policy change.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) cheered on the Sessions cannabis move, and also seems upset that some Democrats want to include broader state marijuana protections in appropriations legislation.

Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA) says Sessions’s anti-marijuana move inspired him to cosponsor cannabis legislation.

Former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) is calling on Sessions to resign.

/ STATES

New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy (D) and legislative leaders say they will continue with plans to legalize marijuana despite federal enforcement policy changes.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is concerned the federal government is sowing “confusion” about marijuana enforcement.

Oklahoma Democratic gubernatorial candidates are backing medical cannabis, but Republican contenders are mostly mum on the issue.

Louisiana is moving ahead to implement its medical cannabis program.

California’s attorney general is considering suing the federal government over marijuana policy. Separately, officials pulled a PSA on drugged driving after critics viewed it as pro-marijuana.

The New Mexico Supreme Court temporarily upheld hemp legislation vetoes by Gov. Susana Martinez (R).

Colorado regulators said they will continue to adhere to the principles of the Cole memo even though it is no longer in place. Separately, they are proposing changes to medical cannabis rules.

Missouri’s House speaker says that he’s surprised by momentum behind medical cannabis and that he’d prefer lawmakers pass legislation instead of having voters do it via a ballot initiative.

Indiana’s Republican majority floor leader introduced a resolution calling for a study on medical cannabis.

New York regulators say they will continue the state’s medical cannabis program in light of federal changes. Separately, lawmakers filed a bill to allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana for any condition.

Maine lawmakers will hold a hearing on marijuana legalization implementation legislation on Tuesday.

A Florida representative filed a marijuana decriminalization bill. Another representative introduced legislation setting procedures for medical cannabis use in schools.

A Mississippi representative filed a medical cannabis bill.

A Washington, D.C. councilmember, at the request of the mayor, introduced legislation to allow reciprocity for out-of-state medical cannabis patients.

Washington State regulators identified marijuana products with undisclosed pesticide residues. Separately, the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming will hear a bill to use marijuana tax revenue to fund indigent defense on Monday.

/ LOCAL

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) spoke out against the federal marijuana enforcement change.

San Francisco, California retailers began recreational marijuana sales.

/ ADVOCACY

Trump ally Roger Stone called the Justice Department’s marijuana policy change a “cataclysmic mistake.”

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators also slammed the Sessions anti-cannabis move.

Purported criminal justice reform group Right on Crime cheered the Sessions decision.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro bashed cannabis consumers but said he supports decriminalization.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “consumption of cannabis reduces vigilance and increases driving errors.”

A study found that medical cannabis “dispensary users do not necessarily reside in the same area in which dispensaries are located and do not necessarily reflect the local population.”

A study concluded that “there are higher proportions of personal communication tweets and Twitter users tweeting about rosin in U.S. states where cannabis is legalized.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New York Times editorial board slammed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s marijuana enforcement policy.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board wants Congress to overrule Sessions on cannabis.

Even the Washington Post editorial board, which has long opposed marijuana legalization, criticized the Justice Department action.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board supports Sessions’s anti-marijuana change, but said that it could spur Congress to end prohibition.

The Chicago Tribune editorial board is calling on Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.

/ BUSINESS

Corona distributor Constellation Brands, which has marijuana investments, says it is not concerned about a federal crackdown.

Marijuana industry operatives don’t seemed too spooked by Sessions’s anti-marijuana move.

Environmentalists are concerned about the marijuana industry’s energy usage.

/ CULTURE     

Comedian Seth Meyers opened the Golden Globes by saying, “It’s 2018: marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t. It’s going to be a good year.”

Trump-supporting Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams said he may turn on the president over the administration’s anti-cannabis move.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

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Cannabis arrests are rising even as more states legalize (Newsletter: Sep. 25, 2018)

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Trump wants to ban chocolate?; Police use official resources to oppose legal marijuana; Idaho gubernatorial candidates on cannabis

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Marijuana arrests rose in the U.S. in 2017 despite the fact that more states are legalizing cannabis, new FBI data shows. The increase is driven by a rise in possession busts, while arrests for sales and manufacturing were down.

President Trump hosted an anti-drug event at the United Nations and called for an end to “cocoa production,” but he probably meant coca…

Police in two states are being accused of illegally using official social media accounts to campaign against marijuana ballot measures.

Idaho gubernatorial candidates are taking opposite positions on marijuana legalization, with Democrat Paulette Jordan in support and Republican Brad Little opposed.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S, Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied a petition to review the Drug Enforcement Administration’s rejection of marijuana rescheduling.

A former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s to investigate Elon Musk’s marijuana consumption.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) criticized marijuana’s Schedule I status. (Roughly 11 minutes into the linked audio.)

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is refusing to answer questions about her stance on North Dakota’s marijuana legalization ballot measure.

Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) sent a press release criticizing the federal government’s decision to allow importation of marijuana products from Canada:

  • “Allowing a Canadian company to do what American companies are still waiting on the Department of Justice to grant them permission to do is incomprehensible. The United States has countless companies, including several in my home state of Florida, that are well-equipped to provide high quality cannabis extracts, but they are being roadblocked by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ senseless witch hunt against an entire industry of legal, state-regulated small businesses. With this announcement, the Attorney General and the Department of Justice’s arcane prohibition on researching the effects of cannabis are now complicit in shipping American jobs and dollars abroad.”

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) tweeted, “Legalizing #marijuana has no impact on crime rates, in some cases decreases crime.”

Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) tweeted a photo of himself meeting with hemp business owners.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) tweeted, “I’m very proud of our city for leading the way on decriminalization. The War on Drugs has been a terrible failure.”

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted, “#Cannabis has the potential to mitigate opioid abuse and addiction, and early studies indicate that it may even help veterans who suffer from PTSD. We must push for more research access to #UnlockCures.”

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) tweeted, “Since legalized recreational marijuana use, in 2016 alone, law enforcement officers in Colorado confiscated 7,116 pounds of marijuana, carried out 252 felony arrests, and made 346 highway interdictions of marijuana headed to 36 different states.”

Utah U.S. Senate candidates agree that marijuana should be rescheduled and both oppose recreational legalization, but are split on the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure.

Georgia Democratic congressional candidate Josh McCall tweeted, “And we can work at the federal level to remove #cannabis from Schedule 1.”

New Mexico Democratic congressional candidate Deb Haaland tweeted, “I am in full favor of the legalization of marijuana. In doing so, we can we can create a major funding source for our public schools and put an end to the disproportionately high sentencing of people of color for marijuana-related offenses. NM is ready.”

/ STATES

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill adding acute pain management to the list of conditions for which medical cannabis can be recommended as an alternative to opioid use. Separately, he tweeted about the marijuana legalization listening sessions his administration is holding across the state.

A Pennsylvania representative filed a marijuana legalization bill, and advocates held a rally.

Oklahoma regulators announced they have received more than 7,000 medical cannabis license applications, and have approved nearly 5,000.

New Hampshire’s marijuana legalization study commission is nearing the end of its review.

Arizona officials added marijuana questions to the state’s car accident reporting form.

North Dakota regulators approved two companies to move ahead in the medical cannabis dispensary licensing process.

Arkansas regulators are expected to finalize a contract this week with a consulting company that will help score medical cannabis dispensary license applications.

/ LOCAL

Seattle, Washington municipal court judges have agreed to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession stemming from before legalization.

  • Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) tweeted, “Great news! This is the next step in tearing down barriers created by a misdemeanor marijuana conviction that has prevented too many Seattle residents from accessing good jobs, housing, loans or education.”

San Francisco, California regulators still haven’t approved any cannabis equity program permits.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Thai officials are considering using a procedural move to expedite consideration of a medical cannabis bill.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said he will sign a decree allowing police to confiscate small amounts of drugs, despite warnings that the move would be in violation of the country’s Constitution.

A group led by the former presidents and prime ministers of Colombia, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland and other countries released a report calling for the legalization and regulation of drugs.

Canada is being criticized for signing onto a U.S.-led drug war declaration.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

The Journal of Adolescent Health published a series of letters about whether marijuana legalization increases emergency room visits by youth.

/ BUSINESS

Leafly removed its CEO.

CNBC analyst Jim Cramer tweeted, “I don’t think people realize how beneficial cannabis is versus the typical western world pill.”

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss lost a defamation suit over comments related to their consideration of investing in Eaze.

Model Kathy Ireland tweeted about her company’s CBD products.

/ CULTURE

Take a look at these photos of marijuana under an electron microscope.

Comedian Pete Davidson spoke about his decision to consume cannabis again.

Actor Timothée Chalamet said he supports marijuana legalization, citing racial disparities in enforcement.

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O’Rourke And Cruz clash on cannabis at debate (Newsletter: Sep. 24, 2018)

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Kenyan lawmaker files marijuana legalization bill; Willie Nelson want to smoke weed with Trump & Putin; Trump to talk drugs at UN

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) clashed on marijuana and drug policy in a heated exchange during their first debate.

A Kenyan member of Parliament is filing a marijuana legalization bill.

/ FEDERAL

President Trump will host an event on the “World Drug Problem” at the United Nations on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Justice is moving to dismiss a landlord’s chapter 11 bankruptcy case because he leased space to a marijuana producer.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly considered naming James Cole, author of the famous cannabis Cole Memo, as special counsel before he settled on Robert Mueller.

A federal judge ruled that the Ohio municipalities of Garrettsville and Windham must place marijuana decriminalization measures on their November ballots after local officials initially rejected them.

Former White House Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, citing the fact that it took a court ruling for a California girl to be able to use medical cannabis at school, said, “We are turning into a nation of rule bound nincompoops.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) tweeted, “The fact that #BothamJean was murdered by a police officer who entered his apartment thinking it was hers, and then police only searched his apartment and revealed that he was in possession of marijuana, highlights what is wrong with our criminal justice system.”

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) tweeted about events to help people expunge low-level marijuana convictions and outstanding summons warrants.

Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL) tweeted, “Apparently US will import #MedicalMarijuana from Canada because ⁦AG Sessions and @TheJusticeDept⁩ won’t approve US grower applications. This is peak of absurdity!”

The U.S. House bill to require the federal government to study the impact of state marijuana legalization got one new cosponsor, for a total of 28.

Texas Democratic congressional candidate Colin Allred criticized incumbent Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX):

  • His outdated views on the war on drugs are frozen in the 1980s. There are veterans who are suffering from PTSD and other combat injuries and could benefit from medical marijuana right now. They want it, their doctors want to prescribe it, and Congressman Sessions is standing in the way.”

/ STATES

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced two new marijuana legalization listening sessions in addition to the 15 that had already been scheduled.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a bill to expand marijuana research. He also signed a bill to define cannabis microbusinesses and make changes to fingerprint requirements. Separately, a judge ruled that a kindergartener can bring her cannabis medicine to school.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced that some arrests for public use of marijuana will result in citations, rather than people being taken into custody.

Florida Democratic attorney general candidate Sean Shaw announced that if elected he would drop appeals the state is mounting against challenges to medical cannabis restrictions. Separately, a newspaper investigation found that at least 80 candidates for public office are at risk of having their bank accounts closed due to marijuana industry donations.

The sponsor of New Jersey’s marijuana legalization bill expects a vote next month.

A Pennsylvania representative will file a marijuana legalization bill on Monday.

Maine regulators are investigating a restaurant’s practice of blowing marijuana smoke onto lobsters before boiling them to death.

Colorado regulators sent a bulletin about the testing of hemp products by marijuana testing facility licensees.

Oregon regulators upheld the license suspension of marijuana business after it became the subject of a federal criminal investigation.

Questions are being raised about marijuana industry donations to the campaign of Ohio Republican attorney general candidate Dave Yost that came in while he was reviewing the medical cannabis program as state auditor.

Pennsylvania regulators certified eight medical schools as medical cannabis research centers.

Michigan regulators are allowing medical cannabis patients and their doctors to register online.

A Nebraska senator said she will file a medical cannabis bill next year.

/ LOCAL

The Bergen County, New Jersey sheriff caught on tape making racist comments about marijuana legalization has resigned.

/ INTERNATIONAL

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country will not be signing onto a Trump administration anti-drug proposal for the United Nations.

A Uruguayan ambassador criticized the U.S. drug war document.

UK regulators released guidance on the definition of medical cannabis products that will be available for prescription. Separately, a former justice secretary is calling for the legalization of all drugs.

Thailand’s Narcotics Control Board is pushing the government to legalize medical cannabis.

Russia and the European Union held consultations on drug policy.

/ ADVOCACY

The Maryland Democratic Party tweeted about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous’s support for legalizing marijuana.

The Idaho Republican Party tweeted about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan’s support for legalizing marijuana.

Progressive group Our Revolution endorsed Michigan’s marijuana legalization ballot measure.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study concluded that “among people who use illicit drugs initiating opioid agonist treatment in Vancouver, at least daily cannabis use was associated with approximately 21% greater odds of retention in treatment compared with less than daily consumption.”

A review found that “marijuana use did not increase the prevalence or progression of hepatic fibrosis in [hepatitis C virus] and HCV–HIV-coinfected patient” and that “on the contrary, we noted a reduction in the prevalence of [nonalcoholic fatty liver disease] in marijuana users.

A study concluded that “cannabinoid agonists (THC/CBD) can have remarkable analgesic capabilities, as adjuvant of [spinal cord stimulation], for the treatment of chronic refractory pain of [failed back surgery syndrome] patients.”

A study found that “maternal cannabis use may be a risk factor for early initiation among their offspring.”

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Detroit Free Press editorial board endorsed Michigan’s marijuana legalization ballot measure.

/ BUSINESS

Acreage Holdings plans to go public in a reverse takeover.

TD Ameritrade said men account for 75% of all marijuana-related securities trades.

Canadian newspapers are creating marijuana-focused beats.

/ CULTURE

Comedy Central’s Jim Jefferies discovered that Amsterdam’s marijuana tolerance means police have basically nothing to do. Two cops even waited outside a coffeeshop while he smoked a joint before joining them on a tour of the city.

The Onion asks, “Can A Serial Marijuana User Like Josh Gordon Fit In With The Patriots’ Cocaine-Based Culture?”

The TV show Snowfall featured a discussion among characters about the racist motivations for and failure of the war on drugs.

Musician Willie Nelson says he’d like to consume cannabis with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama.

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Governor signs legal cannabis bill in US territory (Newsletter: Sep. 21, 2018)

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FDA head: marijuana more dangerous than nicotine; NY lawmakers schedule legalization hearing; NJ sheriff’s racist legalization comments caught on tape

Subscribe to receive Marijuana Moment’s newsletter in your inbox every weekday morning. It’s the best way to make sure you know which cannabis stories are shaping the day.

Your support makes Marijuana Moment possible…

This issue of Marijuana Moment, and our original reporting that is featured in it, are made possible by the generous support of 335 Patreon sponsors. Cannabis industry professionals receive valuable rewards for pledges of $25 and up.

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres (R) signed a marijuana legalization bill into law, making the territory the first place in the U.S. to end prohibition without first having a medical cannabis program.

U.S. Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that we should be more worried about teens using marijuana than nicotine.

The sheriff of New Jersey’s most populous county was caught on tape making racist comments about marijuana legalization:

  • “Christ almighty, in other words let the blacks come in, do whatever the fuck they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that, and don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops.”

Four New York Assembly committees scheduled the first of what will be four separate joint hearings on marijuana legalization this fall.

/ FEDERAL

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is facing a potential lawsuit over its role in an investigation into a California marijuana distribution company.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office tweeted, “IS EATING MARIJUANA MORE DANGEROUS THAN SMOKING MARIJUANA? YES! There is high potential for overdose from #marijuana #edibles. #DontDoDrugs”

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said, “We just have to be not so stupid as to impair our own progress. There is no reason for us to be creating wealth in Canada for cannabis companies by importing Canadian weed.”

  • Gaetz also tweeted, “Last week, the @HouseJudiciary passed my bill, the Medical Cannabis Research Act, which will help scientists and researchers study #cannabis and #unlock its medical potential. Congress must continue working across party lines to pass meaningful #CannabisReform”

West Virginia Democratic congressional candidate Richard Ojeda defended himself from attacks by the state’s Republican Party for meeting with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), tweeting, “Yep. I was out there with a congressman who wants to work together to create legislation to protect 2nd Amendment Rights for those who receive a medical cannabis card. Are you guys pro 2nd???”

  • Ojeda also tweeted, “Hemp and medical cannabis combined with the jobs those industries create would be a game changer for our state.”

/ STATES

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill preventing marijuana businesses from sharing consumers’ information for commercial purposes.

New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro said the state should not legalize marijuana but instead expand access to medical cannabis.

Massachusetts recreational marijuana stores are unlikely to open until late October at the earliest after regulators failed to issue any final licenses at its Thursday meeting.

Florida regulators are asking an appeals court to overturn a judge’s ruling allowing a man to grow his own medical cannabis.

West Virginia lawmakers are asking the state attorney general for an update on his legal opinion about providing banking services to medical cannabis businesses.

A Utah billboard urging people to support the state’s medical cannabis ballot measure is being temporarily taken down while the advertising company reviews election laws concerning anonymous political ads.

A Missouri medical cannabis ballot initiative campaign is raising money to place its first ad on TV.

Maryland regulators have been forced to repeatedly override medical cannabis rules in recent weeks due to problems with the state’s track-and-trace software.

Alaska regulators will meet on October 16 and 17 to consider marijuana establishment license applications and related rules.

Arkansas’s hemp research program is experiencing delays.

/ LOCAL

Manhattan’s district attorney tweeted a video of a talk he gave at a marijuana event.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Mexico’s incoming government will approve medical cannabis regulations, a top health official said.

/ ADVOCACY

A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center found that “black people were 2.9 times as likely as white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in Louisiana,11 despite evidence that black people and white people use marijuana at similar rates.”

The Marijuana Policy Project published a voter guide for New Hampshire’s general election.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A federal survey found that Americans aged 55 to 64 are now slightly more likely to smoke marijuana on a monthly basis than teens aged 12 to 17.

A review concluded that “cannabinoid drugs were associated with modest increases in experimental pain threshold and tolerance, no reduction in the intensity of ongoing experimental pain, reduced perceived unpleasantness of painful stimuli, and no reduction of mechanical hyperalgesia.”

A study found that MDMA “enhances acute prosocial behaviors” in octopuses.

/ OPINION & ANALYSIS

A poll found that New Mexico voters support legalizing marijuana, 60%-32%.

/ BUSINESS

Bloom Automation is building robots to harvest marijuana.

The Associated Press looks at growing interest in marijuana stocks on Wall Street.

/ CULTURE

Actor Dax Shepard defended his wife Kristen Bell’s marijuana use.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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