A legal morass is thwarting Alabama’s medical marijuana program
” 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.””
“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.”
“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.”
“Legalization linked to fewer suicides, traffic fatalities, and opioid deaths. A new paper on the public health effects of legalizing marijuana finds “little credible evidence to suggest that [medical marijuana] legalization promotes marijuana use among teenagers” and “convincing evidence that young adults consume less alcohol when medical marijuana is legalized.””
“Bianca Clayborne and Deonte Williams were driving through rural Tennessee with their five young children when they were pulled over. When police found 5 grams of marijuana in the car, Williams was arrested and the five children were seized by local child protective services. One month later, the couple is still fighting to regain custody of their children.”
“Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s strict stance on drugs, the triads — which run global crime networks distributing chemicals needed to manufacture methamphetamine and fentanyl, among other potentially dangerous substances — often curry favor with the CCP by functioning as extralegal enforcers for the government, Felbab-Brown said. The CCP in turn often allows them to continue their operations, though it does not control them.”
“Roughly 75 percent of the $100 billion cannabis market in the U.S. remains illegal, and roughly two thirds of that illicit weed is grown domestically”
“In California, the Department of Cannabis Control says Chinese triads have been nominally involved in illegal cannabis production for decades, but that there’s been a recent increase in the number of actors and money that may have originated in China. The DCC also said that some — but not all — of the Chinese-funded grows they’ve encountered are operated by Chinese triads.”
““This notion that you now have Chinese actual funding for illicit cannabis, it’s definitely new, and it cuts directly across the interests of Mexican drug trafficking groups,” said Felbab-Brown. “It’s interesting to see whether it continues growing, [and] how that’s going to affect relations between the Mexicans and the Chinese [criminal groups].””
“President Joe Biden, who recently issued a mass pardon for low-level marijuana offenders, says cannabis consumption should not be treated as a crime. His administration nevertheless defends the federal ban on gun possession by marijuana users, arguing that Second Amendment rights are limited to “law-abiding citizens.”
Last week, a federal judge agreed, dismissing a challenge to that rule by medical marijuana patients in Florida. The reasoning underlying that decision shows that the constitutional right to armed self-defense, which the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld, is still subject to legislators’ arbitrary whims and irrational prejudices.”
“Winsor noted a long history of banning gun ownership by people convicted of certain crimes. But as Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett pointed out in a 2019 dissent as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, that history does not suggest that any crime, or even any felony, will do.
“Legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns,” Barrett wrote. “But that power extends only to people who are dangerous.”
Are cannabis consumers dangerous? Winsor suggested that they are, accepting the Biden administration’s analogy between the gun ban for marijuana users and laws enacted in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries that prohibited people from either carrying or firing guns “while intoxicated.”
That analogy fails, however, because those laws did not impose general bans on gun possession by drinkers. They applied only when gun owners were under the influence.”
“Voters on Tuesday approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in Maryland and Missouri while rejecting similar measures in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Meanwhile, voters in five Texas cities passed ballot measures that bar local police from issuing citations or making arrests for low-level marijuana possession. But the most striking election result for drug policy reformers looking beyond the ongoing collapse of marijuana prohibition happened in Colorado, where a broad psychedelic decriminalization measure is winning by two points with 80 percent of votes counted.
Prior to yesterday’s elections, 37 states had approved marijuana for medical purposes, and 19 of them also had legalized recreational use. The Maryland and Missouri results raise the latter number to 21.”