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Inside Cannabis (Aug 28th, 2019)

1. Canada has released sales figures for the first nine months of legalization, and the province of Alberta rang up the highest revenue totals. Overall, Canadians bought more than $560 million worth of cannabis since legalization in October 2018, according to the national statistics agency Statistics Canada (If you’re a data nerd, this information can all be downloaded as a CSV file). Breaking it down by province, Alberta has the highest sales total at $123.7 million, closely followed by Ontario at $121.6 million, and Quebec at $119.2 million, with a very steep drop-off after that. Each province has its own unique rules and regulations, which has caused some curious variances, like the unofficial “pot capital” province of British Columbia coming in ninth place with just $20 million thanks to a very slow rollout of licensed stores.   —  GLOBAL NEWS 

2. The scientists who claim that infused chocolate produces inaccurate testing results have presented their findings. At the American Chemical Society annual meeting in San Diego, CW Analytical Laboratories organic chemist David Dawson said their research shows that cannabis-infused chocolate is susceptible to “signal interference" that muddles with its lab testing results for THC potency. “The chocolate itself is capturing, containing, suppressing the signal that we are measuring, of THC,” Dawson said, in a full 22-minute presentation available on YouTube. While some media reports have overblown the risk of consumers going to the “emergency room with hallucinations,” Dawson says the discrepancies would not pose a public health risk. — LEAFLY

3. Chicago will automatically expunge prior pot convictions using the same method San Francisco and Los Angeles used.  Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx announced a plan to expunge cannabis convictions not just for the city of Chicago, but all of the county. Her ambitious plan would go further than any other city or state, expunging convictions for selling pot instead of just possession, and also wiping out charges involving more than an ounce. The expungements will occur automatically using a Code for America-developed algorithm also used in Los Angeles and San Francisco. — CHICAGO SUN-TIMES 

4. President Trump’s former attorney general is now the top lawyer at a Canadian CBD company. You may remember Matthew Whitaker, the curious character who filled in as Trump’s acting attorney general between Jeff Sessions and William Barr. Whitaker now finds himself employed again as the outside counsel for Canadian CBD firm Alternate Health Corp., via his law firm Graves Garrett. Whitaker’s AG appointment was always legally questionable, and of course, his tenure was marred by the fact that he lied on his resume. — YAHOO FINANCE 

5. The state of Washington is proposing a complete overhaul of its recreational cannabis laws. Liquor and Cannabis Board director Rick Garza tells the Associated Press that the early-adopting adult-use state hopes to revise its five-year-old cannabis laws to grow minority ownership, allow home delivery, and help small growers compete. The proposed changes would need to pass the state legislature. — SANTA MARIA TIMES 

6. The USDA is now allowing hemp farmers to carry crop insurance. It’s a breakthrough that no marijuana farmers have ever had in the U.S., but the insurance is only available to farmers participating in the federal pilot program, and it won’t take effect until next year. — MARIJUANA MOMENT

7. Idaho activists are launching a 2020 medical marijuana ballot drive. The state is a “prohibition island” bordered by three legal states and Canada, but a drive is underway to get 55,000 signatures to legalize possession of up to four ounces for qualifying medical patients. — FILTER MAG 

8. A Maine edibles company is suing John Boehner’s Acreage Holdings and half the dispensaries in the state. A regional New England company called CanWell is suing Wellness Connection, who own half of Maine’s dispensaries, and Acreage Holdings, for non-payment of about $650,000 in bills. The defendants counter that CanWell sold them bunk product. — WGME

9. California is seeing a significant contraction in cannabis licenses. The switch from ‘temporary’ licenses to ‘annual’ or ‘provisional’ permits is knocking off many operators who have trouble meeting the more demanding regulations, with the number of cultivators dropping by nearly half. — MJ BIZ DAILY 

10. Retired football star Rob Gronkowski is now part owner of a CBD company. “The Gronk” famously walked away from the game at his peak, and is now a pitchman with an ownership stake in Rhode Island CBD company Abacus Wellness. — WBUR

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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