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Push to Allow Marijuana Businesses Pandemic Aid, Bloody Gun Battles in Mexico, More... (4/23/20)

A push is on in Congress to secure coronavirus pandemic relief aid for the legal marijuana industry, a poll suggests that a DC psychedelic decriminalization initiative could win -- if it can make the ballot -- and more.

Some senators and representatives are pushing to get legal marijuana businesses included in pandemic relief funding. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

US Senators Want Small Marijuana Firms Included in Coronavirus Aid. A group of 10 US senators led by Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jackie Rosen (D-NV) have sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to include small, state-legal marijuana businesses and related companies in any future coronavirus relief packages. The letter comes a week after nearly three dozen House members sent a similar one.

Lawmakers File Bill to Let Marijuana Companies Have Access to Coronavirus Relief Funds. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) on Thursday filed an as yet unnumbered bill, the Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act, which would allow legal marijuana businesses to access disaster relief loans and other programs available during the COVID-19 crisis.

Psychedelics

DC Voters Would Approve Psychedelic Decriminalization Initiative If It Makes Ballot, Poll Says. A poll commissioned by Decriminalize DC, the folks behind the psychedelic decriminalization initiative, suggests the measure could pass -- if it manages to make the ballot. Signature-gathering for initiative campaigns around the country have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and DC is no exception. The poll found 51% said they were in favor when read the actual text of the measure, but that figure rose to 60% when voters were provided more information and settled at 59% when voters had heard pro and con arguments.

International

Mexico Sees 13 Dead in Violence in Guerrero Poppy Fields. At least 13 people were killed over the weekend in multisided clashes between community vigilantes, police, soldiers, and members of the Cartel del Sur in the opium poppy-growing town of El Naranjo, Guerrero. Clashes and gun battles lasting for hours broke out Saturday as cartel gunmen duked it out with a "grassroots citizens militia" (vigilante group) called the United Front of Community Police of Guerrero, a repeat of clashes last summer when the vigilantes tried unsuccessfully to force out the cartel. After Saturday's clashes, authorities called in the National Guard, soldiers, and state police, who then engaged in another gun battle, killing four presumed cartel members. Later another four executed bodies were found, and on Monday the bodies of five more men covered in blankets were discovered at the bottom of a ravine surrounded by shell casing.

NYC 4/20 Pot Party Busted Over Social Distancing, Mexican President Acknowledges Cartel Aid-Giving, More... (4/21/20)

Mexico's president acknowledges cartels have been handing out coronavirus relief packages and implore them to knock it off, a New York City 4/20 pot party ran afoul of social distancing measures, and more.

Weed that never got smoked at that New York City 4/20 pot party. (NYPD)
Marijuana Policy

Alaska Curbside Pickup of Pot Now in Effect. Emergency regulations allowing for the curbside pickup of marijuana purchases are now in effect in Alaska. The Marijuana Control Board approved the regulations Friday and Lt. Gov Keven Meyer's office signed off on them later that same day. Business owners who want to do curbside pickup have to apply to the state and submit operational plans.

New York City 4/20 Pot Party Busted for Violating Social Distancing. Police alerted by a concerned citizen reporting a large number of people on the third floor of a Manhattan commercial building ended up busting a party of about 40 people who had gathered to celebrate 4/20, the unofficial marijuana holiday. The party was hosted by a marijuana edibles company called Ganja Pigs, which was not available for comment on Tuesday. Police found a duffel bag full of weed at the party, along with edibles, THC, and paraphernalia. Five people were cited for marijuana offenses and 38 people were cited for unlawful trespassing.

International

Mexico President Acknowledges Cartels Handing Out Aid Packages, Implores Them to Knock It Off. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador acknowledged Monday that drug cartels are handing out aid packages during the coronavirus pandemic, said the government couldn't stop it, and implored the cartels to cut it out. "It is something that happens, it cannot be avoided," López Obrador said. "I don't want to hear them saying, ‘we are handing out aid packages,’"he said. "No, better that they lay off, and think of their families, and themselves, those that are involved in these activities and who are listening to me now or watching me." He also suggested that perhaps some cartel members are rethinking their place in society: "I don't rule out that there are people in the gangs who are becoming conscious, because I don't think you can spend your life always watching your back, worrying about another gang, going from one place to another, because you could get eliminated, that is no life at all,"said López Obrador.

MA Judge Upholds Recreational Pot Shop Ban; Mexican Cartels Hand Out Food, Supplies Amidst Crisis, More... (4/17/20)

Sorry, Massachusetts, no legal pot sales for you for now; Mexican drug cartels and El Chapo's daughter are currying favor by handing out food and supplies amidst the pandemic, and more. 

"El Chapo"-branded face masks being distributed in Mexico by a company owned by his daughter. (Facebook)
Massachusetts Judge Upholds State Ban on Recreational Pot Shops. A Suffolk County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that Gov. Charlie Baker (R) acted within the law when he shut down recreational marijuana businesses as part of a broader stay-at-home order issued to address the coronavirus pandemic. Pot businesses filed suit to overturn the ban, which they argued was arbitrary since Baker's order allowed medical marijuana and liquor outlets to remain open, but Suffolk Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger agreed with Baker's argument that the shops would attract out of state visitors: "It was reasonable for the governor to be concerned that the relatively few adult-use marijuana establishments in Massachusetts are more likely than liquor stores or [medical marijuana treatment centers] to attract high volumes of customers, including people traveling from other states," Salinger wrote. "The governor’s decision to treat medical marijuana facilities and liquor stores differently than adult-use marijuana establishments has a rational basis and therefore is constitutional."

International

British Columbia Rolls Out Safe Drugs for Street Users. Last month, the Canadian government urged provinces to lower barrier to prescription medications as part of the effort to self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic, and now British Columbia is becoming the first province to apply those guidelines to people using street drugs. Healthcare providers are increasing the supply of opiate maintenance drugs and even dispensing some of them via a unique vending machine. By providing a safe supply of legal drug alternatives, the province hopes to lower a sudden spike in drug overdose deaths that coincided with the coronavirus outbreak in Vancouver.

Mexican Drug Cartels Hand Out More Coronavirus Aid. One of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's daughters and several Mexican drug trafficking organizations have been handing out aid packages to help poor residents get through the coronavirus pandemic. Guzman's daughter Alejandrina is seen in Facebook videos filling boxes with slick logos and an image of her father with food and toilet paper. The video narrator calls them "Chapo's provisions." The boxes were distributed in Guadalajara, Jalisco. The products are made for El Chapo 701, a legal business run by his daughter. But other active cartels are also handing out goods to local residents in some areas in a bid to gain public support. In one case, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel can be seen handing out packages of food and supplies labeled: "From your friends, CJNG, COVID-19 contingency support." The Gulf Cartel did a similar free distribution of supplies to poor residents of Victoria, Tamaulipas, last week. 

 

 

Call to Ease Access for Opioid Disorder Treatment During Crisis, DC Patients Get MedMJ Delivery, More... (4/15/20)

DC medical marijuana patients can now get home delivery and curbside pickup, Montana activists are suing the state to be able to do electronic signature gathering during the pandemic, calls mount to free a jailed Bolivian coca grower union leader, and more.

Montana activists are suing to be able to do electronic signature gathering for a pair of legalization initiatives. (CC)
Marijuana Policy

Montana Legalization Campaign Sues for Electronic Signature Gathering During Pandemic. The campaign manager for New Approach Montana and two in-state political figures have filed a lawsuit against the state charging that prohibiting electronic signature gathering during the coronavirus pandemic is unconstitutional. New Approach Montana is behind a pair of legalization initiatives: a constitutional initiative (Ballot Issue 11) that would set 21 as the legal age when people can use marijuana and a statutory initiative (Ballot Issue 14)  that would set up a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. Not allowing for electronic signature gathering would violate the "constitutional rights of Plaintiffs and the people of Montana to amend the constitution and enact laws by initiative, as well as the rights of Plaintiffs and the people of Montana under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution," the lawsuit argues.

Medical Marijuana

Washington, DC, Okays Home Delivery, Curbside Pickup. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and the city Department of Health announced an emergency rule Monday that allows medical marijuana patients to have their medicine delivered. The new rule also allows for curbside pickup as a social distancing measure.

Harm Reduction

Activists Call for Big Changes to Ease Access to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment. The Urban Survivors Union, a national drug user group, is calling on regulators to relax rules around the prescription and dispensing of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. While government agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Medicare and Medicaid recently announcing policy shifts that permit more flexible prescribing and dispensing of MAT, as the union notes, "clinics have been either reluctant or resistant to fully implement them to the extent allowable under the law." The group, along with a lengthy list of signatories, is advocating for no discharging of people from treatment except for violent behavior, allowing people to request larger doses of MAT, coronavirus testing for people in treatment, among other recommendations.

International

Bolivia Faces Mounting Calls for Release of Afro-Bolivian Coca Union Leader. Activists are calling for the release of Elena Flores, the first woman and first Afro-Bolivian leader of the local coca growers' union. She has been behind bars for a month as part of a crackdown on social movements and indigenous groups by the government the rightist interim government that took power late last year after then-President Evo Morales, also a coca grower union leader, was forced from office by street protests and the loss of support of the military and police. Flores is one of three imprisoned Bolivian women, along with the former head of the Supreme Electoral Board and former President Morales' lawyer, whose release is being demanded by more than 160 organization, academics, trade unions, and activists worldwide.

Charlotte's Web Girl Dies of Possible COVID Complications, Mexican Cartels Provide Food in Pandemic, More... (4/8/20)

The young girl whose story named Charlotte's Web and launched the CBD movement has died of complications from suspected COVID-19, Mexican drug cartels are handing out food to the poor in the midst of the pandemic, and more.

Boxes of food for the Mexican poor, provided by drug cartels. "The Gulf Cartel in support of Ciudad Victoria." (Facebook)
Medical Marijuana

Charlotte Figi, Colorado Girl Who Inspired CBD Movement, Dies of Possible Coronavirus Complications at Age 13. Charlotte Figi, the namesake for Charlotte's Web CBD products, has died of complications of suspected coronavirus, her family has reported. Figi suffered from Dravet Syndrome, a form of epilepsy, which left her suffering from hundreds of small and large seizures a day. Pharmaceutical treatments proved ineffective, and her parents then turned to CBD products, which reduced her seizures dramatically and allowed her to be weaned off anti-epileptic medications. "Charlotte is no longer suffering," reads a post on the family's Facebook page. "She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love."

Harm Reduction

NIDA Warns on Coronavirus Implications for People with Substance Use Disorders. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is warning the research community studying coronavirus to "be alert to the possibility that it could hit some populations with substance use disorders (SUDs) particularly hard. Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape. People with opioid use disorder (OUD) and methamphetamine use disorder may also be vulnerable due to those drugs' effects on respiratory and pulmonary health. Additionally, individuals with a substance use disorder are more likely to experience homelessness or incarceration than those in the general population, and these circumstances pose unique challenges regarding transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. All these possibilities should be a focus of active surveillance as we work to understand this emerging health threat."

International

United Kingdom to Hand Out Methadone Without a Prescription to Those Already Receiving It. As a response to the coronavirus crisis, pharmacists in Great Britain are being allowed to hand out a range of strong medicines, including methadone, without a prescription for the duration. The Home Secretary had asked the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to consider the risks of lifting restrictions on certain drugs, and the council decided to recommend the course of action despite voicing concerns it could lead to an increase in drug abuse. "The measure would rely on the professional judgment of pharmacists, who will be working outside the scope of their usual practice," the council said. "Without adequate support and guidance for the healthcare professionals affected by the proposed legislative change, there is a risk that pharmacists struggling to follow best practices could inadvertently lead to an increase in drug misuse and diversion. This is a particular risk for patient groups requiring opioid pain medicines, e.g. for palliative care or for opioid substitution therapy (OST). Additionally, whilst it will be necessary for the government to publicly announce in an emergency that these measures are to apply, common knowledge of the applicability of this measure may increase the risk of the misuse and diversion of controlled drugs."

Mexican Drug Cartel Gives Out Food to the Poor Amid Pandemic. Members of the Gulf Cartel are delivering boxes of food to poor families in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, and members of Los Viagras are handing out food to poor families in the western state of Michoacan to help them deal with the disruptive consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The drug traffickers have reportedly delivered food to at least 200 families. In Tamaulipas, boxes containing basic foodstuffs such as oil, breakfast cereal, and canned goods appeared with labels saying "Gulf Cartel in support of Ciudad Victoria."

Mexico's Drug Wars Set Bloody Record, ND Legalization Init Suspends Campaign, More... (4/6/20)

The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a deleterious impact on state-level efforts to get marijuana legalization on the November ballot, Mexico's prohibition-related violence sees a record number of deaths, and more.

Mexico's black market drug trade is generating violence at record levels. (Creative Commons)
Arizona Initiative Campaigns Ask State Supreme Court to Okay Electronic Signature Gathering. Several campaigns to put initiatives on the state's November ballot, including the Smart and Safe Arizona Act marijuana legalization initiative, asked the Supreme Court last Thursday to allow electronic signature gathering because the coronavirus pandemic has made in-person petitioning all but impossible. The campaign has already gathered some 320,000 raw signatures and only needs 237,645 valid voter signatures, but wants the ability to gather more to have a larger cushion.

North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Campaign Falls Victim to COVID-19. The Legalize ND marijuana legalization initiative campaign announced last Thursday that it has suspended its signature gathering efforts because of the coronavirus pandemic. "Due to the virus all of our major avenues for signature collection have been cancelled or indefinitely postponed and going door to door is not safe for both those knocking and those getting knocked," the group said. "Businesses will continue to collect, but we don't want to create another vector for the coronavirus. As a result, at this time if something major doesn't change we will not be able to make the 2020 ballot."

International

Mexico Hit All-Time High in Murders in March. Mexico reported 2,585 homicides -- largely driven by drug prohibition-related violence -- during the month of March, the highest monthly figure since records began in 1997. The surge in killings came as state and federal officials shifted resources into confronting the coronavirus pandemic. "It's business as usual [for drug cartels] with a risk of further escalation, especially if at some point the armed forces are called away for pandemic control," said Falko Ernst, senior Mexico analyst at the International Crisis Group. Violence has been especially intense in the central state of Guanajuato, with cartel gunmen blockading streets, torching businesses, and engaging in shootouts with security forces.

Mexico Cartel Clash in Chihuahua Leaves 19 Dead. The state government of Chihuahua said Saturday that 19 people had been killed in a gun battle between suspected drug cartel hitmen. Local media reported that the clashes were between groups linked to the Juarez Cartel and the rival Sinaloa Cartel. Police found 18 bodies Friday evening at the site of the battle in the municipality of Madera. A wounded man also found at the scene died later of his injuries.

MO and OK Inits Could Fall Victim to Pandemic, COVID-19 Spreads Behind Bars, More... (3/30/20)

The coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on state-level marijuana legalization initiatives, Pennsylvania says needle exchanges are "life-sustaining" during the pandemic, Vancouver moves to allow "safe supply" of regualted drugs during the crisis, and more.

COVID-19 is in the nation's jails and prisons.
Marijuana Policy

Missouri Marijuana Legalization Likely to Fall Victim to Coronavirus Pandemic. Missourians for a New Approach, the folks behind the state's marijuana legalization initiative, are warning that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely mean that the effort will not be able to gather enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The campaign needs 160,000 valid voter signatures by May 3, but at this point has only 60,000 raw signatures. "Yes, it's a terrible setback," said Dan Viets, board chair of the group. "When there's no public gatherings, when people stay in their homes… it's very difficult to find voters."

Oklahoma Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Doubt as State Shuts Down Signature Gathering. The campaign to put a marijuana legalization initiative, State Question 807 is likely to fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of a 30-day statewide emergency declaration, Secretary of State Mike Rogers has ordered a pause to all initiative signature gathering activities. The campaign needs to collect 178,000 signatures in 90 days to qualify for the November ballot. It would be "really difficult, if not impossible to imagine a scenario in which an initiative petition campaign could responsibly and feasibly collect the signatures necessary in order to make the 2020 ballot if that campaign doesn't already have the signatures on hand," said campaign spokesman Ryan Kiesel.

Harm Reduction

Pennsylvania Needle Exchanges Are "Life-Sustaining," State Says. Needle exchanges are technically illegal in the state, but the state Department of Health has deemed them a "life-sustaining" service, allowing them to stay open amid the shutdown of other businesses and nonprofits. Some 20 such programs operate in the state, and advocates are hoping this designation could lead to their legalization down the line.

Incarceration

Coronavirus Spread Accelerates in US Jails and Prisons. Jails and prisons across the US are reporting an accelerating spread of COVID-19 with more than 226 inmates and 131 staff with confirmed cases. In New York City alone, at least 132 inmates and 104 jail staff have been infected. Jails and prisons are responding in varying ways, including releasing thousands of inmates from detention, some with little or no screening before they are released.

International

Vancouver Moving to Allow Take-Home Doses of Regulated Drugs. Canada's British Columbia is moving to provide drug users with take-home supplies of regulated substances, including opioids, stimulants, tobacco, and alcohol. Vancouver has long called for "safe supply" for drug users, but the combination of two public health crises -- the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing overdose epidemic -- has finally made it a reality, with the city drafting new guidelines to allow the practice. "These guidelines enable us to provide a safe supply for people and to ensure that they're able to comply with our public-health advice around isolation or quarantine, should that be required," said Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry. Recent changes to the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and provincial prescribing guidelines made the move possible.

Mexican Opium Poppy Cultivation Drops 9%, UNODC Says. The land area under opium poppy cultivation decreased by 9% between July 2017 and June 2018, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported Monday. Land under cultivation fell from 78,000 acres to 70,000 acres. Poppy cultivation was centered in the Golden Triangle region of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua meet, but was also grown in northern Nayarit and in the Sierra Madre del Sur of Guerrero. Analysts said the likely explanation for the decrease was a sharp decline in opium gum prices caused by rising demand for synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

OR Inits Seek Signatures Online, French Cannabis Prices Rise Fast, More... (3/27/20)

Mexico is unlikely to meet an April 30 deadline to legalize marijuana as its Senate is suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis, Oregon drug decriminalization and therapeutic psilocybin initiatives now are seeking signatures online, and more.

psilocybin-containing magic mushrooms (Greenoid/Flickr)
Drug Policy

Oregon Drug Decriminalization Initiative Moves to Online Signature Gathering. The campaign behind the Oregon Drug Treatment and Recovery Act initiative, which would decriminalize the possession of personal use amounts of all drugs, is shifting to online signature gathering as the coronavirus pandemic shuts down normal signature gathering. The campaign says it has already gathered large numbers of signatures, but still needs 8,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. To sign on, click on the link above.

Psychedelics

Oregon Therapeutic Psilocybin Initiative Moves to Online Signature Gathering. The campaign to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes is moving to online signature gathering as the coronavirus pandemic shuts down normal signature gathering. The Oregon Psilocybin Services Act campaign needs 112,000 valid voter signatures by July and says it already has 128,000 raw signatures but wants to create a cushion by adding at least 15,000 more signers. To add your signature, click on this form.

International

France Sees Marijuana, Hash Prices Surge During Coronavirus Lockdown. The price of a 100-gram bar of hashish has nearly doubled in Marseille in a week, thanks to tight border controls imposed as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Similar reports are coming in from Bordeaux and Rennes. Police worry that a prolonged shortage could fan trouble in restive Paris suburbs and prisons.

Mexico Senate Suspends Activities, Puts Marijuana Legalization Deadline in Doubt. The Senate agreed Thursday to postpone most legislative activity because of the coronavirus pandemic, raising questions about whether it can now comply with a Supreme Court-imposed April 30 deadline to approve marijuana legalization. Senate committees approved a bill earlier this month, but it still needs to pass the full Senate and the Chamber of Deputies and signed into law by the president.

US Indicts Venezuela's Maduro for "Narco-Terrorism," A Call to End Marijuana Arrests, Jailings, More... (3/26/20)

The US indicts a leftist Latin American leader for drug trafficking (but not a rightist one), a Michigan prosecutor gets nailed for embezzling asset forfeiture funds, and more.

The US escalates its feud with Venezuela by indicting President Nicholas Maduro for "narco-terrorism. (Creative Commons)
Marijuana Policy

Law Enforcement Officials, Medical Professionals, Clergy, and Cannabis Advocates Call for the Cease of Cannabis Arrests and Release of Incarcerated Cannabis Offenders in Light of COVID-19.The Marijuana Policy Project and other organizations are urging law enforcement officials to dramatically curtail arrests for nonviolent crimes, including ceasing arrests for cannabis offenses. In addition to curtailing arrests, the organizations are calling for officials to release or grant clemency to those incarcerated for cannabis offenses along with dramatically reducing the number of incarcerated nonviolent prisoners, whether sentenced or un-sentenced. The Marijuana Policy Project, Last Prisoner Project, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, National Cannabis Industry Association, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) have sent a letter calling for these actions to the National District Attorneys Association, National Governors Association, National Sheriffs' Association, National Association of Chiefs of Police, National Correctional Industries Association, American Correctional Association, and AFSCME.

South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative Campaign Urges Absentee Voting. New Approach South Dakota, the group behind the Constitutional Amendment A marijuana legalization initiative, announced this week is shifting its campaign to social media and urging state residents to consider absentee voting options. Unlike several other state-level legalization initiative campaigns, this one has already qualified for the ballot, so it doesn't have to worry about the coronavirus pandemic's impact on signature-gathering; now it's a matter of getting votes in the midst of the crisis.

Asset Forfeiture

Michigan Prosecutor Charged with Running Criminal Enterprise for Asset Forfeiture Fund Abuses. Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith has been hit with a slew of criminal charges for allegedly taking funds seized from drug and other suspects for his own personal use. He faces ten charges that include five counts of embezzlement, and single charges of running a criminal enterprise, tampering with evidence, conspiracy to commit forgery, misconduct in office and accessory after the fact. State officials said Smith used the money for a personal security system for his house, country club parties, campaign expenses and to buy flowers and make-up for his secretaries. Smith's former chief of staff, his current chief of operations, and a local businessman were also charged. They're alleged to have embezzled more than $600,000 since 2012.

Foreign Policy

US Indicts Venezuelan President Maduro on "Narco-Terrorism" Charges. Federal prosecutors on Thursday unveiled indictments of President Nicholas Maduro and other top Venezuelan officials on "narco-terrorism" charges in a new escalation of the Trump administration's pressure campaign against Caracas. US Attorney General William Barr accused Maduro and the others of conspiring with a dissident faction of the Colombian FARC guerrillas "to flood the United States with cocaine." Barr's move against Maduro stands in sharp contrast with the US approach to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, a staunch rightist and US ally, whom federal prosecutors have accused of taking bribes from drug traffickers, but who remains unindicted.

Mexico Illicit Drug Prices Rising, OR Regulators Allow Curbside Pot Sales, More... (3/24/20)

States grapple with marijuana sales during a time of crisis, Ghana legalizes hemp and CBD, Mexican traffickers facing chemical shortages are raising prices, and more.

Meth and fentanyl from Mexico are about to get more expensive thanks to the coronavirus crisis. (Warner Robbins, GA, PD)
Marijuana Policy

Massachusetts Governor Shutters Recreational Pot Shops, Lets Medical Marijuana Outlets Remain Open. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has ordered recreational marijuana outlets to close during the coronavirus crisis but has spared medical marijuana dispensaries. The emergency order issued Monday closed all non-essential businesses in the state for at least two weeks. Dispensaries are considered essential; recreational pot shops are not.

Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative Rejected for Lack of Signatures. State Attorney General Dave Yost on Monday announced he has rejected a petition for a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana because petitioners did not submit the minimum number of valid signatures required. This was a first step; organizers needed to submit summary language of their amendment along with at least 1,000 valid voter signatures. They didn't do that. "Of the 1,000 minimum signatures required to proceed with the constitutional amendment, those boards of elections reported receiving a total of only 271 valid signatures," Yost said. "Finally, because the petition failed to meet the signature threshold, I have not made any determination concerning the fairness and truthfulness of the proposed summary."

Oregon Regulators Approve Curbside Recreational Marijuana Sales. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which also regulates marijuana, has approved a temporary rule allowing recreational marijuana retailers to sell their products curbside. The rule permits retailers to take orders and deliver marijuana to a customer who is outside and within 150 feet of the licensed premises. The sales can take place only during normal business hours, no earlier than 7:00am and no later than 10:00pm.

Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Regulators Ease Medical Marijuana Rules Because of Coronavirus. State regulators trying to ensure that patients continue to have access to medical marijuana have removed a cap on the number of patients caregivers can serve and eliminated background checks for caregiver renewal applications. Curbside pickup has also been okayed, as have remote consultations for some practitioners.

International

Ghana Legalizes Hemp, CBD. The parliament has passed a bill legalizing the production of industrial hemp and its use for medicinal as well as commercial purposes. The bill also expands access to drug treatment and medical care and marks a shift from treating addiction as a legal issue to a public health issue.

Mexican Meth, Fentanyl Traffickers Raise Prices Amid Shortages of Precursor Chemicals. With supplies of Chinese precursor chemicals running low because of disruptions related to the coronavirus pandemic, Mexican drug traffickers are raising wholesale illicit drug prices. The Sinaloa Cartel is reportedly increasing the wholesale price of a pound of meth from $100 to $600. The price of fentanyl is also going up, although not yet as dramatically. Wholesale prices for a pound have reportedly increased from $35,000 to $42,000.

Drug War Issues

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