President Trump’s Pick to Head DEA Withdraws Himself from Consideration

 Pennsylvania Representative Tom Marino, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the DEA and take over the unofficially titled “drug czar” position, has officially withdrawn himself from consideration. 

Pennsylvania Representative Tom Marino.

In a Twitter post made this morning, President Trump made it clear that Representative Marino is removing himself from consideration for the position of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, often referred to as the “drug czar”.

“Rep.Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar”, Trump said in the Tweet posted around 5:30am (PT). “Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!”

Marino’s withdrawal comes after a report by both the Washington Post and 60 Minutes. The report, titled THE DRUG INDUSTRY’S TRIUMPH OVER THE DEA, connected Marino with legislation that has caused a worsening of the nation’s opioid crisis by making it more  challenging for the DEA to keep control of the pharmaceutical industry.

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Washington Supreme Court Rules Random Drug Tests Are Unconstitutional

Washington’s Supreme Court has ruled that random urinalysis tests are unconstitutional.

The ruling, which sets immediate precedent, came after three individuals were charged in Spokane County with DUI in 2015. As a condition of their charges, Cortney Blomstrom, Christopher Cooper, and Brooke Button were forced to undergo regular urine tests (the latter two were charged with driving under the influence of marijuana and had previous criminal records). The three, however, objected to the court order, claiming it to be too invasive.

After taking the case to the Spokane County Superior Court and having their request (to remove the urine test requirement) denied, the case was moved up to the Washington State Supreme Court, which sided with the three and reversed the testing requirement.

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Study: Cannabis Legalization Has Reduced Opioid-Related Deaths in Colorado

The legalization of cannabis in Colorado has reduced opioid-related deaths, according to a new study published by The American Journal of Public Health.

super silver haze

The objective of the study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Texas School of Public Health, the University of Florida, and Emory University, was to “examine the association between Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis use and opioid-related deaths.” To do this researchers “used an interrupted time-series design (2000-2015) to compare changes in level and slope of monthly opioid-related deaths before and after Colorado stores began selling recreational cannabis.” They also “describe the percent change in opioid-related deaths by comparing the unadjusted model-smoothed number of deaths at the end of follow-up with the number of deaths just prior to legalization.”

According to the study’s abstract; “Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month (b = -0.68; 95% confidence interval = -1.34, -0.03) reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.”

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Survey: 11% of D.C. Area Government Employees Have Bought Legal Marijuana

According to a new survey, 11% of government employees in the D.C. area have purchased marijuana legally from a dispensary.

The 11% is considerably higher than the 8% average among all adults in the D.C. media market, which covers roughly five million adults in D.C. as well as parts of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. The survey of 1,368 people was conducted by Consumer Research Around Cannabis.

The 11% of government employees having legally purchased marijuana account for an even higher percentage of total marijuana buys at 16.7%. The survey found that 41% of the government employees approved of both legalized adult use and medical marijuana, with only 11% opposed to both.

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Colorado: $1 Billion in Legal Marijuana Sold in First 8 Months of 2017

From January 1st of this year to the end of August, there was over $1 billion worth of legal marijuana and marijuana products sold in Colorado.

Colorado marijuana sales have surpassed the $1 billion mark in just eight months this year. In 2016, it took 10 months to reach the same mark. According to The Cannabist, year-to-date sales are up 21% this year compared to the first eight months of 2016, when sales totaled $846 million.

The over $1 billion in legal marijuana sales for 2017 have resulted in over $162 million in taxes for the state. This is garnered from a 15% excise tax on marijuana sales, which was raised in July from 10% (though at the same time marijuana sales were exempted from the states standard 2.95 sales tax).

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Atlanta Mayor Signs Marijuana Decrim Bill Into Law

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has signed ordinance 17-O-1152 into law, which reduces the penalty for possession of one ounce of marijuana or less to a maximum of $75, and instructs the Atlanta Police Department to conduct training on the new penalty provision.

The ordinance, introduced by Councilmember Kwanza Hall, eliminates the possibility of jail time for a conviction of possessing one ounce or less of cannabis under the City Code. The maximum penalty would become a fine of $75. Prior to the new law, possessing an ounce or less of marijuana would result in a fine of up to $1000 and up to six months in jail.

“I am pleased to sign this ordinance, which eliminates jail time as a penalty for a conviction for possession of less than an ounce, into law”,said Mayor Reed in a press release. “I also want to thank Councilmembers Keisha Lance Bottoms and Kwanza Hall for their work not only to pass this ordinance, but also to make sure our officers in the Atlanta Police Department receive the appropriate training. People of color, young and low-income people are disproportionately jailed – with sentences up to six months – for possessing small amounts of marijuana. An average of 1,000 people are arrested each year in Atlanta for possession only. We needed to change that. I believe our public safety resources are better directed to stopping and preventing violent crime.”

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U.K.: Parliament Votes Unanimously on Bill to Legalize Medical Cannabis

Legislation that would legalize medical cannabis has been approved through its first reading in the U.K. Parliament.

The proposal, introduced by MP Paul Flynn, was passed on a unanimous vote.

“The bill went through its first reading today without opposition,” said Flynn in an interview with Marijuana.com. “The other matter, which was of more importance is that a few hundred people gathered up here and broke the law. I invited them here and suggest they [consume cannabis] because the law has proved to be an ass.”

Flynn noted that he was thankful that there were no arrests at the protest. “They could have been thrown into jail for five years for what they did. I think we’ve got to say to the government now, if they are so cowardly and unintelligent as to believe that an illegal market is better than a legal market, it is up to the public to prove that [they] are wrong.”

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California Governor Vetoes Bill to Ban Smoking and Vaping at State Parks and Beaches

Legislation passed by California’s House and Senate to ban smoking and vaping at state parks and beaches has been vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Surfrider Beach in Malibu.

Senate Bill 386 would have banned smoking and vaping at all California parks and beaches and would have mandated that signage be posted alerting patrons to the new law. This would have effected nearly 300 state parks and nearly 300 miles of state beaches.

If the measure wasn’t vetoed, it would have instituted fines of up to $485 for those caught smoking tobacco or cannabis.

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Study: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Associated With Reduced Drug-Induced Mortality Rates

Medical marijuana dispensaries are associated with a reduction in prescription drug-related hospital admissions, and moralities, according to a new study published by the Social Science Research Network.

“As the U.S. opioid epidemic surges to unprecedented levels and individual states continue to enact laws liberalizing marijuana use, understanding the relationship between narcotics and marijuana consumption is growing increasingly important”, states the study’s abstract. “This paper uses a unique marijuana dispensary dataset to exploit within- and across-state variation in dispensary openings to estimate the effect increased access to marijuana has on narcotic-related admissions to treatment facilities and drug-induced mortalities.”

The study’s lead researcher, a University of Georgia economics professor, found that “core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) with dispensary openings experience a 20 percentage point relative decrease in painkiller treatment admissions over the first two years of dispensary operations.” The effect is strongest for “non-Hispanic white males in their thirties, a demographic whose recent increase in morbidity and mortality rates diverge from prior trends and from those of other demographic groups over the same time period.”

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Bill to Add Butane as a Controlled Substance Vetoed by California Governor

California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have made butane a controlled substance.

Assembly Bill 1120 would have made an amendment to section 11107 of the state’s health and safety code to add butane as a controlled substance. This would have limited sales, and created a database for those who purchase it.

“I empathize with the author’s intent to address the tragic explosions that can occur at illegal butane hash-oil production sites”, Governor Brown said in his official veto note. “Unfortunately, I believe this bill takes a very expensive approach that may not ultimately solve the problem. The Department of Public Health is currently working on regulations that will be finalized at the end of this year that move this type of production out of the shadows and into a safe and regulated environment. I believe any additional legislation aimed at curbing illegal butane use should be more narrowly tailored, and not place a uniform limit on an industry that has many other legitimate uses.”

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