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Inside Cannabis (Aug 2nd, 2019)

1. Dispensaries are using facial recognition technologies, alarming privacy advocates. A few Colorado dispensaries have signs at the door saying “Please look up for entry,” at which point customers' faces are scanned and placed into a facial recognition database. A company called Blue Line Technology that sells these systems to retailers argues this can determine whether customers have  warrants for their arrest, and they point out that there have been 34 burglaries of Denver dispensaries in just the first half of 2019. The company claims the face data is deleted after 48 hours, though admits dispensaries all maintain their own policies. Critics argue this will creep customers out and drive them to the black market, and that facial recognition is wildly inaccurate with minority communities. — VICE

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2. Short sellers are betting big on cannabis stocks failing. Short sellers, investors who predict a stock will fall significantly, borrow it, sell it, and buy it back at a lower price, have taken notice of the share price decline in the cannabis industry. Short sellers have made tens of millions on the downfalls of Tilray (which peaked at $300 and is now about $40), scandal-plagued CannTrust, and tanking Canadian producer Hexo. It’s a risky game, though, as an analyst describes cannabis stocks as “21 times more expensive to borrow” than other securities on the U.S. and Canadian markets. — MARKETWATCH

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3. Follow Friday: Shaleen Title

You would not expect one of five cannabis commissioners in the seventh smallest state in America to be one of the nation’s leading voices on sensible legalization. But Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commissioner Shaleen Title earned that honor with a March tweetstorm about the “top 10 must-haves for any state cannabis legalization bill” that serves as a great model for emerging recreational states. 

Just yesterday afternoon, Title’s Twitter gloriously exposed a Weedmaps astroturf campaign. She reguarly dunks on the media and her critics, and Massachusetts residents will also benefit from her extremely detailed note-taking on meetings they cannot attend.  

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4. The Illinois growers who were awarded recreational permits gave massive campaign contributions to state lawmakers. The Chicago Tribune has a magnificent exposé on what appears to be a shady (though perfectly legal) pay-to-play scheme in Illinois’ new recreational market. The 17 growers awarded permits just happened to also have donated more than $630,000 to state lawmakers. They gave $123,000 to Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, and $120,000 to the state senator who expanded the state’s medical marijuana law last year.  — CHICAGO TRIBUNE

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5. High Times’ new CFO has bailed after just three months on the job. The magazine and event company’s hilariously botched IPO has forced out new CFO and COO Neil Watanabe, amidst reports that the company lost $27.5 million last year. — NY POST

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6. Aphria has finally posted its first profitable quarter in the era of legal Canadian cannabis. The Candian conglomerate made $15.8 million in profits on $128.6 million net revenue in the most recent quarter, fueled by increasing recreational sales and the acquisition of German distributor CC Pharma.  — FINANCIAL POST

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7. Another Republican senator declares support for federal banking reform. And he’s a big one, as GOP chair of the Senate Banking Committee Mike Crapo (ID) says he wants reform, but stopped short of endorsing the SAFE Banking Act. — MARIJUANA MOMENT

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8. California is toying with the idea of labeling cannabis as “almost organic.” The state’s growers cannot call their cannabis “organic” because the USDA will not allow that description of a federally illegal product, so the California Department of Food and Agriculture is considering the amusing descriptor “almost organic” as an alternative. — FILTER

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9. Texas law enforcement has been told to lay off prosecuting cases involving less than four ounces of marijuana. The Texas Department of Public Safety, which oversees most of the state’s law enforcement, advised in a July 10 memo that anyone caught in possession of less than four ounces should merely be charged with a misdemeanor. — TEXAS TRIBUNE

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10. Long Beach, CA is up in arms that a grow operation wants to take over a homeless shelter. The cannabis collective KBA6845 owns the property but was initially not allowed to grow there, so they leased it to the city as a homeless shelter. Now that the collective may get the permit, they’re rescinding the shelter offer, much to the community’s dismay.LONG BEACH POST  

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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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