Inside Cannabis - July 23rd, 2019

Inside Cannabis (Jul 23rd, 2019)

Harris tries to decriminalize / Record legislation / Redlining the 99%

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1. Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (California) has introduced legislation to decriminalize and tax cannabis at the federal level. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which was written by Harris and co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York), would also expunge records for past cannabis-based convictions and tax revenue generated by the industry. Fifty percent of the tax would be used to create three trust funds aimed at building social equity into the industry. The bill signals a 180 in Harris' stance on cannabis—When she served as California's attorney general, Harris opposed legislation that would have legalized cannabis in California. – USA TODAY

2. A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate this week would give cannabis businesses access to insurance policies. Under federal prohibition, state-legal cannabis businesses can not obtain property, casualty or title insurance coverage. The Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana (CLAIM) Act, introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, would prohibit insurers from being penalized for providing coverage to cannabis businesses or those that indirectly work with the industry such as lawyers or property managers. Those insurance policies also couldn’t be terminated or limited simply due to its association with a state-legal cannabis market. – MARIJUANA MOMENT

3. A record number of states have considered cannabis legalization this year. Though only a few states have actually passed bills pertaining to cannabis, more than half the states have considered legislation that would have legalized commercial sales, recreational use or possession of cannabis, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. "Virtually every legislature in the country is taking a close look at its marijuana policies, and many have adopted significant reforms in 2019,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of Marijuana Policy Project. The new record illustrates the normalization of an issue that, until recently, lawmakers wouldn't have considered. – THE HILL

4. A judge threw out a case involving a California woman who was evicted from federally subsidized housing for using medical cannabis. Emma Nation and her teenage daughter were evicted from their subsidized housing development in July 2018 after Nation used medical cannabis in edible form. She sued the federal government, challenging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s zero-tolerance policy on the use of controlled substances, including legal medical cannabis. The judge decided that Nation must first go through the difficult task of petitioning the Drug Enforcement Administration to lift restrictions on the drug. – COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE

5. Expensive regulations and high demand across the country have made the illicit cannabis trade more profitable than the legal industry. In Los Angeles, unlicensed businesses still outnumber legal ones. In Oregon, a surplus of low-priced legal cannabis has pushed illegal growers to export their goods across borders. And three years after Massachusetts voters approved legalization, most of the cannabis economy consists of unlicensed “private clubs,” home growing operations and illicit sales. – POLITICO

6. Former Vice President Joe Biden has a plan to decriminalize cannabis, but still says he doesn't support the full legalization of cannabis for recreational use. The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful released a criminal justice reform plan this week, which includes a proposal to expunge all past cannabis-related convictions as well as deschedule the drug. But Biden is solidifying his position as the election's right-leaning candidate by remaining against legalization. – VICE

7. California authorities have seized $30 million in black market cannabis from illegal pot shops. In 2018, the first year of licensing, the state Bureau of Cannabis Control worked with local law enforcement to serve six search warrants on unlicensed pot shops and seized some 1,594 pounds of cannabis worth $13.5 million. Since then, the number of raids has tripled and industry leaders say enforcement is still inadequate to end the black market's reign in the state. – LA TIMES

8. With costly states regulations and a lack of access to financial services, all but the richest 1 percent of cannabis businesses are being cut of the legal industry. Because no banks offer business loans to any company operating in the legal cannabis industry, personal wealth—or access to it—is the number one thing you need to start a legal cannabis company. That means poorer populations and neighborhoods are being left behind. – LEAFLY

9. Venture capitalist funding for the cannabis industry this year has already surpassed 2018's record, according to PitchBook data. Last year saw $1.2 billion of VC investment in the U.S. for cannabis startups. But so far in 2019, funds have already crossed that mark by nearly half a billion dollars. Additionally, more than 40 percent of the capital for cannabis startups this year has gone to companies headquartered in California. – PITCHBOOK

10. Utah has selected eight companies to legally grow medical cannabis for the first time in the state. Although the new law allows Utah to award up to 10 licenses, state officials say they chose to only hand out eight to avoid an oversupply problem. Critics say the limited number of licenses will not be enough to meet the market's demand. – AP

Tessa Love is a Berlin-based freelance writer hailing from California's weed country. In addition to writing and curating Inside Cannabis, Tessa has written about cannabis, culture, and tech for the BBC, The Outline, Racked, Slate, The Establishment and more. Find her on twitter at @tessamlove.

Editor: Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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