‘Seize all cannabis’: Inside the surprising federal crackdown on New Mexico weed farmers

“Drug cartels and human traffickers aren’t the only people dodging border patrol officers these days in southern New Mexico. The state’s cannabis businesses — which operate legally under state law — are also desperately trying to evade border checkpoints.
That’s because U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized more than $300,000 of state-licensed cannabis in New Mexico in the last two months. These seizures occurred at border patrol checkpoints, some of which lie as far as 80 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

The crackdown has created tension between the Biden administration and Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham — who championed marijuana legalization and touted it as an economic boon for the state. The enforcement actions are occurring as the Justice Department is preparing to loosen federal restrictions on marijuana, which would mark the biggest liberalization of drug policy in more than half a century.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2024/05/01/federal-crackdown-new-mexico-weed-farmers-00155624

Political Stupidity and Bureaucratic Bungling Created New York’s Pot Legalization ‘Disaster’

“New York’s rollout of marijuana legalization has been a “disaster,” as Hochul conceded in January. “Every other storefront” is an unlicensed pot shop, she told The Buffalo News. “It’s insane.”
That disaster has frustrated would-be retailers, left farmers in the lurch, played havoc with tax revenue projections, and made a joke out of any expectation that New York, by learning from the experience of states that legalized marijuana earlier, would do a better job of displacing the black market. The insanity that Hochul perceives is a product of bad decisions by politicians who should have known better and obstruction by regulators who sacrificed efficiency on the altar of diversity.

Unlike states such as New Jersey, where voters approved legalization in 2020, and Maryland, where a similar ballot initiative passed two years later, New York did not initially allow existing medical dispensaries to start serving the recreational market. Its slow and complicated licensing process, which was skewed by an “equity” program that prioritized approval of applicants with marijuana-related criminal records or their relatives, is maddeningly hard to navigate.

Those preferences invited lawsuits by people who were excluded, which further delayed approval of licenses. Guidance and financial help for people struggling to jump through the state’s hoops never materialized. And as in other states, high taxes and burdensome regulations have made it hard for licensed businesses to compete with unauthorized dealers.”

https://reason.com/2024/03/22/political-stupidity-and-bureaucratic-bungling-created-new-yorks-pot-legalization-disaster/

The Newly Unveiled HHS Rationale for Rescheduling Marijuana Underlines Drug Warriors’ Dishonesty

“it was clear that Biden did not expect HHS to confirm its previous position that marijuana belongs in Schedule I. He expected HHS to recommend that marijuana be moved to a lower schedule, which is what it ultimately did. As the details of the HHS recommendation clarify, that decision was not based on new scientific evidence. It was based on a reinterpretation of the criteria for Schedule I that could have been implemented much sooner if HHS and the DEA had been open to it, or if a previous president had encouraged it.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/15/the-newly-unveiled-hhs-rationale-for-rescheduling-marijuana-underlines-drug-warriors-dishonesty/

Biden Expands Pardons for Low-Level Federal Marijuana Offenders

“President Joe Biden expanded a categorical pardon..for low-level marijuana offenders convicted on federal lands and in the District of Columbia”

“Biden also commuted the sentences of 11 nonviolent drug offenders serving sentences that were much longer than they would have been if the prisoners had been sentenced today. They were convicted of cocaine and methamphetamine offenses.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/22/biden-expands-pardons-for-low-level-federal-marijuana-offenders/

Ohio becomes 24th state to embrace weed legalization

“The new law allows adults over 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The measure creates a Division of Cannabis Control, which is responsible for setting up and regulating the adult-use cannabis market.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/11/07/ohio-marijuana-legalization-vote-results-00125991

‘Like Snoop Dogg’s living room’: Smell of pot wafts over notorious U.S. Open court

” It’s become a stink at the U.S. Open: a pungent marijuana smell that wafted over an outer court, clouded the concentration of one of the world’s top players and left the impression there’s no place left to escape the unofficial scent of the city.
While the exact source of the smell remained a mystery Tuesday, one thing was clear: Court 17, where eighth-seeded Maria Sakkari complained about an overwhelming whiff of pot during her first-round loss, has become notorious among players in recent years for its distinctive, unmistakable odor.

“Court 17 definitely smells like Snoop Dogg’s living room,” said Alexander Zverev, the tournament’s 12th-seeded man who won his opening match on the court Tuesday. “Oh my God, it’s everywhere. The whole court smells like weed.”

Stung by stories in the wake of Sakkari’s match Monday that made it appear the U.S. Open’s stands are the sporting equivalent of a Phish concert, the United States Tennis Association conducted its own investigation, of sorts, to weed out the source of the smell.

Spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA questioned officials and reviewed video of the midday match and found “no evidence” anyone was smoking pot in the stands of Court 17, leading to speculation it may have come from Corona Park just outside the gates of the intimate stadium court.

And he may not be just blowing smoke. Sakkari herself suggested just that when she complained to the chair umpire while up 4-1 in the first set: “The smell, oh my gosh. I think it’s from the park.”

After her 6-4, 6-4 loss to Rebeka Masarova, Sakkari told reporters: “Sometimes you smell food, sometimes you smell cigarettes, sometimes you smell weed. I mean, it’s something we cannot control, because we’re in an open space. There’s a park behind. People can do whatever they want.”

Flushing Meadows security staffer Ricardo Rojas, who was working the gate outside Court 17 on Monday, said he took a break in the park around the time of Sakkari’s match and “there was definitely a pot smell going on.” But he noted that while he enforces a strict no-smoking policy inside the USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the park is “outside my jurisdiction.””

https://www.yahoo.com/news/snoop-doggs-living-room-smell-224554503.html

Is weed safe in pregnancy?

“In a 2020 review of relevant studies published since the mid-1980s, the authors called out many of these studies for weak methodology. In particular, many researchers had failed to compare the outcomes they were measuring against any kind of a standard that would account for age and parental educational level. (That is: What if the kids of those who used cannabis during pregnancy were born to parents with lower levels of education, which could account for some differences?)
The review authors concluded that overall, “prenatal cannabis exposure is associated with few effects on the cognitive functioning of offspring.” What’s more, they noted, even when abnormalities were identified, almost all were still within the range of normal.”

“Despite the imperfect data, Mark suspects the risk of fetal harm with prenatal cannabis use is high enough to support recommending against purely recreational use.

But many aren’t seeking to get high.”

One Reason for New York’s Pitiful Rollout of Legal Pot: License Preferences for Victims of Prohibition

“It has been more than two years since New York notionally legalized recreational marijuana, and things are not going quite as planned. “Although Gov. Kathy Hochul suggested last fall that more than 100 dispensaries would be operating by this summer,” The New York Times notes, “just 12 have opened since regulators issued the first licenses in November.”
Part of the problem, as you might expect, is red tape and bureaucratic ineptitude. But another barrier to letting licensed marijuana merchants compete with the unauthorized vendors who have conspicuously proliferated since the spring of 2021 is the state’s affirmative action program for victims of pot prohibition.

New York, like several other states that have legalized marijuana, mandated preferences for license applicants who suffered as a result of the crusade against cannabis. While that idea has a pleasing symmetry, it never made much sense as a way of making up for the harm inflicted by cannabis criminalization. And in practice, executing the plan has drastically limited the legal marijuana supply, making it much harder to achieve the state’s avowed goal of displacing the black market.

To be clear: I don’t think people with marijuana convictions should be excluded from participating in the newly legal market, a policy that would add insult to injury. But that does not mean they should have a legal advantage over cannabis entrepreneurs who were never arrested but might be better qualified.”

“New York reserved the first batch of up to 175 retail licenses mainly for people with marijuana-related criminal records or their relatives. Those applicants needed to show they had experience running a “profitable” legal business in the state. Nonprofit organizations with “a history of serving current or formerly incarcerated individuals” also were eligible, provided they had “at least five full time employees,” “at least one justice involved board member,” and a track record of operating “a social enterprise that had net assets or profit for at least two years.” Another requirement was demonstrating “a significant presence in New York State,” which led to litigation and a temporary injunction against issuing retail licenses in five areas of the state.

Satisfying the state’s criteria required “a lot of documentation,” Bloomberg CityLab reporter Amelia Pollard noted last fall, which gave New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) “a mound of paperwork to wade through.” As of November, the OCM had received more than 900 applications from would-be marijuana retailers. On November 20, it announced that it had granted 36 “provisional conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses” to individuals and organizations.”

“The approved retailers are far outnumbered by unauthorized vendors, many of whom openly sell marijuana from storefronts, trucks, and tables, unencumbered by the state’s licensing requirements, regulations, and taxes. Yelp’s list of the “best recreational marijuana dispensaries” in New York City includes 90 outlets, only a few of which are blessed by the OCM.”