Your Weekly Cannabis Briefing

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­1. Cannapreneur Mark Smith will open the nation’s first drive-through marijuana dispensary on 4/20 in Parachute, CO. Glenwood Springs’ Post Independent announced the Grand Opening of Tumbleweed heralded by DJs, live radio coverage, free T-shirts, and vendor displays.

2. The Des Moines Register reported on Iowa Senate’s April 17th vote to legalize medical marijuana for a large menu of ailments including cancer and PTSD. Senate File 506 was approved overwhelmingly (45-5). Managed by a pharmacist, Sen. Thomas Greene (R-Burlington), the permission would extend to over 12,555 Iowans. However, in the Iowa way of doing things, its House of Representatives must now approve Senate File 506, and that’s not expected to happen this year.

3. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly drew a line in the sand in an April 18 speech at George Washington University. He committed his department to the belief that marijuana is a dangerous gateway drug and violation of marijuana prohibitions will be grounds for deportation. According to the New York Daily News, Kelly said, "ICE will continue to use marijuana possession, distribution and convictions as essential elements as they build their deportation removal apprehension packages for targeted operations against illegal aliens living in the United States. They have done this in the past, are doing it today, and will do it in the future."

4. AZ Central covered a visit by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ wide ranging remarks at Luke Air Force Base where he expressed surprise at the public’s reaction to his earlier remarks describing marijuana as a gateway drug. “Sessions repeated his opposition to the sale of marijuana and joked about the attention it garnered, ‘When they nominated me for attorney general, you would have thought the biggest issue in America was when I said, 'I don't think America's going to be a better place if they sell marijuana at every corner grocery store,' " Sessions said. "(People) didn't like that; I'm surprised they didn't like that’."

5. The New York Times reports that the San Francisco Chronicle has hired David Downs as an editor to head a desk focused on all things marijuana. In a state proud of its wines, he will write reviews, news, and analysis of products and the state of the industry.

6. The Earth Day National March for Science kicks off in Washington, D.C. on April 22, 2017. Joining the march this year will be a regiment of doctors, pharmacists, and researchers committed to communicating the idea that drug policy should be based on facts and not fear.

Participants in D.C. and in marches throughout the country include Carl Hart, PhD, Chair of the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, Sheila Vakharia, PhD, Assistant Professor, at Long Island University, Chinazo Cunningham, MD, Associate Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Professor of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, and others.

7. Research led by Dr. Anup Patel and colleagues at Ohio State University has found that treatment of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS), a severe form of epilepsy with cannabidiol daily for 14 weeks reduced their atonic seizures by more than 50%. Medical News Today reports, “patients who took 20 milligrams of cannabidiol daily experienced an overall atonic seizure reduction of 42 percent, while a minimum of 50 percent reduction in atonic seizures was found for 40 percent of these patients.”

8. On Wednesday, April 19, Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 286, a comprehensive medical marijuana bill into law. The Charleston Gazette-Mail quotes the governor as saying, “’Our doctors are telling us, this is a pathway to help those people [who are suffering],’ Justice said. ‘How could you turn your back on that?’” But, patients will have to wait until the first dispensary opens on July 1, 2019.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­9. The April 19th Denver Post reported, “During the month of March in 2016, marijuana-related citations made up 17.8 percent of 337 total DUIs. In March 2017, marijuana-related citations made up 16.4 percent of 396 total DUIs. There was a year-over-year decrease from seven to three fatal alcohol- and drug-related crashes in the same span.” Despite the improvement, officials have launched an assertive campaign to discourage driving under the influence after 420 celebrations, encouraging users to seek specially incentivized rides from Uber or Lyft.

10. Texas HB 2200 to permit a patients’ medical defense in court has been scheduled for a hearing effective April 19. Filed by State Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin), HB 2200 would not legalize marijuana. But, it would permit sick Texans the chance to consume medical marijuana without criminal penalty. According to Texas Cannabis Report, the proposal’s “affirmative defense” would keep jurors better informed of the context surrounding a marijuana possession case. It would jurors decide that, even if a defendant is breaking the law, they can still be found not guilty.