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Inside Cannabis (Aug 1st, 2019)

1. Marijuana finally came up at one of the Democratic presidential debates, courtesy New Jersey senator Cory Booker. “We have got to have far more action on criminal justice reform, like having true marijuana justice, which means we legalize it on a federal level,” Booker said, directing his fire at former vice president Joe Biden. Biden promptly  fumbled and referred to Booker as “the future president here,” to much laughter, but recovered and turned the debate towards Booker’s record on stop-and-frisk. Moments later, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard got into it with Sen. Kamala Harris, with Gabbard saying Harris “put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and laughed about it,” while Harris defended her legalization efforts. — MARIJUANA MOMENT

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2. California cannabis consultants have mapped out every illegal business on Weedmaps statewide. The black market still dominates the California cannabis landscape, and a respected analytics firm estimates that 74 percent of the state’s sales are still illegal. Sacramento-based K Street Consulting has created a fascinating map of every illegal Weedmaps listing in California, showing that illegal businesses far outnumber legal listings. Weedmaps has long been criticized for listing illegal, unlicensed businesses. — MJ BIZ DAILY

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3. Throwback Thursday: Arnold Schwarzenegger blazes up in ‘Pumping Iron’  

Bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger became an unlikely marijuana hero in the 1970s, when the documentary “Pumping Iron” showed him smoking a joint (while singing “Happy Birthday” to Lou Ferrigno). At the time, no one realized he would go on to become a major box office star and governor of California, and he had a complicated relationship with marijuana while in office. Despite his known use, Schwarzenegger suspended the state’s medical marijuana program in 2005, though ACLU got that overturned in about ten days. But he would go on to decriminalize marijuana statewide during his final months in office, shortly before a love child scandal  effectively ended his political career.

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4. Federal prosecutors have busted a brazen, coast-to-coast plot that smuggled 100,000 pounds of pot in tractor trailers. Three individuals are charged with moving roughly 50 tons of cannabis from San Francisco to New York, and then sneaking the cash in carry-on luggage with the help of airport baggage screeners who were in on the deal. But one of those screeners was an informant wearing a wire, and two of the smugglers have been arrested while another is still at large. — NY DAILY NEWS

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5. Massachusetts has granted its first “economic empowerment” dispensary license. Boston’s first recreational dispensary will also be the Massachusetts’ first “economic empowerment” dispensary for minorities, as the African-American-owned Pure Oasis has been granted a license and expects to open in October. — WBUR 

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6. Thailand is set to ship its first batch of legal medical cannabis. The country’s Government Pharmaceutical Organisation will deliver 10,000 bottles of cannabis oil (5 ml apiece) to hospitals for use among patients undergoing chemotherapy and epilepsy treatments. — 9 NEWS

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7. Harvest Health has received a $225 million loan, despite their role in a licensing scandal. Phoenix-based dispensary chain Harvest Health & Recreation received an enormous loan of nearly a quarter billion dollars, even though they own the Pennsylvania grow that just had its license revoked because they mysteriously lost so much marijuana.  — MJ BIZ DAILY

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8. Scandal-plagued CannTrust is exploring a possible sale. The Canadian grower embroiled in an illegal cultivation scandal has a new interim CEO who says selling the company is on the table. — REUTERS

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9. Cornell will be the first Ivy League university to offer an undergraduate cannabis course. This fall, the university will offer an undergrad class called “Cannabis: Biology, Society and Industry,” and will launch a master’s cannabis program next year. — QUARTZ

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10. Massachusetts dispensaries are making big bucks off New York customers. The first batch of Massachusetts recreational dispensaries say they have more New York customers than home state customers, and some are even posting their wait times on Twitter.  — LEAFLY

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Joe Kukura has been the cannabis writer for SF Weekly since 2016, and his work has appeared in Thrillist, the Daily Dot, and NBC Bay Area. You can follow him on Twitter at @ExercisingDrunk.

Edited by: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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