GB Sciences Closes the Sale of GB Sciences Louisiana Cannabis Business to Wellcana Plus

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LAS VEGAS, Nov. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — PRESS RELEASE — GB Sciences, Inc. completed the sale on Nov. 15, 2019 of its 50% membership interest in GB Sciences Louisiana, LLC to Wellcana Plus, LLC, an affiliate of Wellcana Group, LLC who owns the other 50% interest. The sale immediately eliminates current cash obligations due from GB Sciences as well as the company’s share of operating expenses going forward. While selling the cannabis cultivation and oil production business, GB Sciences retained the benefit of Wellcana Plus’s 50% interest in intellectual property developed under the Master Research and Development Agreement.

The terms of the sale include a promissory note from Wellcana Plus to GB Sciences for $8 million, with payments commencing in June 2020 through December 2021. The promissory note is secured by a pledge agreement with the 50% interest as collateral, declining pro-rata with note payments until all principal and accrued interest have been paid. In addition to the note, there will be an earn out of $8 million from operations through the term of the Agreement for Services including renewals, if any. The actual proceeds realized through the earn out and the timing of those proceeds will depend upon patient count accretion and the profitability of the Louisiana operations.

John Poss, CEO of GB Sciences, stated, “We think the transaction is a win for everyone. Wellcana Group has been an exceptional partner in Louisiana. With the same managers, we know Wellcana Plus will lead GB Sciences Louisiana to even greater success for not only their investors but also the patients and other stakeholders in Louisiana. For our own shareholders, the sale will greatly reduce our operating expenses while maintaining the benefit of intellectual property developed in Louisiana. It allows us to focus on continued development of clinical cannabis formulations for which the company has filed numerous patents, and progressing the research on our Parkinson’s Disease and Chronic Neuropathic Pain formulations towards clinical trials and first-in-human pilot studies. We believe this strategy offers tremendous opportunity to create shareholder value in this untapped segment of the cannabis sector.”

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Gov. John Bel Edwards picks new pharmacy board member at center of dispute over marijuana pharmacy license

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Gov. John Bel Edwards has appointed to the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy Sajal Roy, who earlier this year was simultaneously suing the board over his lost bid for the coveted exclusive medical marijuana pharmacy permit in New Orleans and gunning for the board seat.

Roy, who owns a marijuana pharmacy in Maryland, successfully pushed a new law through the Legislature earlier this year that changed the requirements for serving on the board so he would qualify. That law reduced the minimum requirement from five years of practice in Louisiana to two years.

At the time, Roy said he wanted to make changes to the board in part because of how the marijuana pharmacy permitting process played out, in 2018. Roy was passed over for a marijuana pharmacy permit last year despite being recommended by a selection committee.

Roy, through a specialty pharmacy he owns in Metairie, also donated $50,000 to Gumbo PAC in August, Ethics Board records show. Gumbo PAC is the Super PAC that spent millions to help Edwards win reelection Saturday in a closely-contested race against Republican challenger Eddie Rispone.

Christina Stephens, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Roy was on a list of recommended appointees and didn’t have a lawsuit against the state when Edwards appointed him. She also said he is not going after the 10th marijuana pharmacy license, which is expected to be handed out for a high-demand region of the state sometime in the future.

“Also, he has knowledge and experience in the medical marijuana field, which is an important addition to that board,” Stephens said.

Edwards appointed Roy on Nov. 15, a day before the runoff election, according to an appointment letter. The term runs through 2025.

Louisiana’s tightly-regulated medical marijuana program called for nine initial marijuana pharmacies that dispense the drug to patients, each in a different region of the state. While a subcommittee of the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy recommended Roy’s firm win the license for the New Orleans region, the board itself picked H&W Drug Store, owned by longtime local pharmacist Ruston Henry.

About a month after that decision, Roy filed suit against the Board of Pharmacy over its selection of H&W, accusing it of “improperly” issuing the license there. The lawsuit argued that because the board ignored its own committee’s advice, the selection process was flawed, among other things.

A Baton Rouge judge tossed the suit in May and Roy dropped a planned appeal, making the board’s decision final.

Roy was running against the board member who previously held the seat representing Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes, Diane Milano. State law requires the candidates for a board seat to win votes from pharmacists that live in the seat’s district. The top three vote-getters are then sent to the governor, who picks one. Public records show Roy placed third, with 22 votes, while Milano got 85 and another candidate got 83.

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Marijuana Legalization Bill Approved By Congressional Committee In Historic Vote

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For the first time in history, a congressional committee has approved a bill to end federal marijuana prohibition.

The House Judiciary Committee passed the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act in a 24-10 vote on Wednesday, setting the stage for a full floor vote.

The vote saw two Republicans—Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Tom McClintock (R-CA)—join their Democratic colleagues in support of the bill.

Debate on the bill generally followed two tracks. Republican lawmakers argued that the bill was being rushed and that it should be subject to additional hearings, while Democratic members responded that there’s been enough debate on the issue and that there’s no time for delay in beginning to reverse decades of harms of prohibition enforcement.

On the other hand, some GOP members who recognized that the status quo is untenable pushed for legislative action on a separate piece of bipartisan cannabis legislation—the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act—which does not contain social equity elements or formally remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and would simply leave cannabis policy up to the states, arguing that a scaled-down approach would fare better in the Senate.

“We may need something a little less than MORE,” Gaetz said.

The approved legislation, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would federally deschedule cannabis, expunge the records of those with prior marijuana convictions and impose a five percent tax on sales, revenue from which would be reinvested in communities most impacted by the drug war.

It would also create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, as well as protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearance due to its use.

“These steps are long overdue. For far too long we’ve treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health,” Nadler said in his opening remarks. “Arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people at the federal level is unwise and unjust.”

“I’ve long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake,” he said. “The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.”

House and Senate members, and outside legalization advocates, cheered the bill’s committee approval.

“The passage of the MORE Act represents the first time that the Judiciary Committee has ever had a successful vote to end the cruel policy of marijuana criminalization,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Not only does the bill reverse the failed prohibition of cannabis, but it provides pathways for opportunity and ownership in the emerging industry for those who have suffered most.”

(See Marijuana Moment’s full reaction roundup piece for more commentary from other stakeholders.)

Earlier, lawmakers that have advocated for cannabis reform held a press conference in advance of the vote on Tuesday to highlight the need for the federal policy change. And while Nadler said that it was possible that compromises could be made later in the legislative process, he doesn’t see the need to scale back the proposal’s reach at the onset and feels that bipartisan support will build around his bill.

He also told Marijuana Moment that he is optimistic the legislation will get a full floor vote before the end of the current Congress, and part of that confidence comes from the fact that his panel has been communicating with other committees where the bill has been referred in the hopes that they waive jurisdiction to expedite its advancement.

Read the full article here:
https://www.marijuanamoment.net/watch-live-congress-holds-historic-vote-on-bill-to-federally-legalize-marijuana/

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The Cajun Cannabis Conundrum

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Despite being a historically conservative state, Louisiana first legalized medical marijuana back in 1978. It amended the law in 1991, then left the program to wither on the regulatory vine, with the Department of Health failing to appoint a Marijuana Prescription Review Board or to draw up contracts with national groups for production and distribution.

That began to change in 2015, when Republican state Sen. Fred Mills, a pharmacist and the former executive director of the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, sponsored legislation to implement the distribution of medical cannabis to patients. In 2016, Mills sponsored a second law that laid out the program’s specifics. Both bills eventually passed the state House and Senate and were signed into law by former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. In early August, Louisiana officially became the Deep South’s first state to dispense medical marijuana.

In theory, the program is working: Roughly 1,500 patients in Louisiana are receiving medical cannabis. But some 5,000 patients have consulted with physicians about the program, and there doesn’t appear to be enough legal marijuana to go around. Advocates say that’s because a series of compromises among lawmakers, the Louisiana District Attorneys Association, the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association, and conservative Christian groups have made a regulatory disaster of the law.

Mills says he originally intended for the legislation to be “more of a free market system.” It’s not. Under state law, only nine pharmacies in nine zones across 52,000 square miles received permits to dispense medical marijuana. Smokeable and edible versions of the product were banned, as was vaporization. (Oils, tinctures, sprays, pills, and gelatin-based chewables are allowed.) The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has licensed just two growers—GB Sciences and Ilera Holistic Healthcare—to contract with the agricultural departments at Louisiana State University and Southern University, respectively, to produce medical cannabis for the entire state. As of this writing, only LSU’s operation is producing medical marijuana; Southern University’s first crop isn’t expected until later this year.

Despite advocates’ pleas, only certain doctors are allowed to recommend medical cannabis to patients, and the state created a list of qualifying conditions rather than allowing physicians to use their discretion.

“I’ve always testified that this should be a decision 100 percent between a physician and a patient, and if somebody has a debilitating condition, then why should government get in the way?” Mills says. But he was forced to change his approach. “The only way I could get the legislation passed was to work cooperatively with the law enforcement community. I think if we hadn’t done what we needed to, to basically take an approach of crawl before you walk and walk before you run, I don’t think we would have passed the legislation.”

Kevin Caldwell, the president and founder of the cannabis reform group Commonsense NOLA, says the current system is “unsustainable,” an outcome his group warned of early in the legislative process. “But nonetheless that is how things were decided,” because the Louisiana District Attorneys Association and the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association “are the kings of the Louisiana Legislature.”

Patients and advocates were excluded from the regulatory process, Caldwell says, and it shows in the state-run market. A 30-milliliter jar of THC tincture costs between $180 and $220 at certain medical marijuana dispensaries—three times the price found in states where recreational adult-use cannabis is legal. What’s more, he adds, “a lot of the sickest patients that want to use the program are on Medicaid and don’t quite have the money for a $200 visit and then the follow-up visit.” Restricting how many physicians can recommend cannabis has likely made the cost of obtaining a recommendation more expensive.

Republican state Agricultural Commissioner Mike Strain, whose department regulates the production of medical marijuana, doesn’t see a problem. “If you have the type of diseases that it’s designed to treat under the law and you can go to a physician, and there are a significant number of physicians there, and one of the nine pharmacies that distribute it across the street, there should not be a problem to access.”

Mills hopes increased social acceptability will eventually push the program forward. He points to how former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s family recently went public about her using medical marijuana on her deathbed earlier this year. “Her family really attributes medical marijuana to her quality of life,” Mills says. “I just think that [the medical marijuana program] is going to be more accepted and I think the unknowns will become more familiar for those who have been fighting us.”

Read the entire article by Xander Peters here

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2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana: The Ultimate Guide

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With support for marijuana legalization stronger than ever before, the issue of cannabis reform is slated to become a prominent issue in the 2020 presidential election.

Donald Trump, seeking a second term as President of the United States, is expected to earn the Republican party’s nomination. Trump has yet to take any notable actions related to marijuana, neither positive or negative, since taking office.

On the Democrat side, an abundance of declared primary candidates will battle in the primaries for their party’s nomination. Among Democratic voters, marijuana legalization has become a mainstream stance and politicians vying for their support have responded. So far, nearly every single declared Democratic presidential candidate has come out in support of either completely legalizing marijuana at the federal level, or descheduling it and leaving it up to the states.

Make informed choices by reviewing each candidate’s stance on marijuana legalization. Through the interactive tools below, you can quickly and easily sift through each candidate’s position on cannabis reform and any comments they’ve made about the issue. Click around the interactive graphic below to review each 2020 presidential candidate’s legislative support, public statements, and even tweets related to cannabis. Through the interactive timeline, you can click-and-drag and pinch-in and pinch-out zoom to discover when each candidate first made a pro-marijuana statement, first backed cannabis reform legislation, and any time there was a major development in their cannabis stance. Want to cut to the chase? A cannabis “temperature gauge” offers a quick-glance view of how strongly each candidate champions marijuana.

From now until the 2020 presidential election, this article will serve as home base for 2020 presidential candidates and their stance on federal marijuana policy. It will be regularly updated to reflect changes as presidential hopefuls enter and drop out of the race, as well as to document any shifts or major updates in cannabis views.

Read the entire article here

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Helping Underscore a Longstanding Tenet of SMPL – Cannabis Policy is a Public Health Issue Rather than a Criminal Justice One

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It’s time for drug policy reform – in America and across the globe

America’s “war on drugs” has failed. We need more policies that treat drug abuse as a public health issue

Earlier this month, a Philadelphia judge rejected federal objections to the opening of what will be the nation’s first legal overdose prevention site—paving the way for other jurisdictions to bring this lifesaving tool to their communities. Overdose prevention sites are facilities where people can use drugs under medical supervision by staff who can immediately address and reverse any overdoses that occur. While the U.S. Department of Justice has claimed that these sites are illegal under federal drug laws, the opinion concludes that a public health response — and operating a facility such as this —  is not in contravention of federal law. This is a landmark ruling in the U.S., but not internationally where 118 safe consumption sites operate in 12 countries, with plans to also open them in Mexico and Ireland. It’s well past time for cities across the U.S. to follow suit and embrace harm reduction practices, not simply in regard to this issue, but also more generally in the criminal justice arena.

Nearly 50 years after the United States declared a “war on drugs” there is ample evidence today that a criminal justice and punitive response to drug use has failed. Meanwhile, countries like Portugal and Switzerland have embraced public health approaches to reducing the harms associated with drug use for decades, with proven success. Switzerland was the first country to open an overdose prevention site over 30 years ago, saving countless lives and without recording a single fatal overdose. Indeed, since the 1990s, the number of opioid-related deaths has fallen by more than 60%.  Portugal decriminalized the personal use of all drugs in 2001, and since then, overdose deaths have decreased by more than 80%. As a group of U.S. prosecutors learned during a recent trip to Portugal, decriminalization worked in large part because it helped reduce the stigma of drug use and replaced a justice system response with a public health starting point.

It is time for all nations to follow this lead and embrace a new global vision for drug policy based on principles of harm reduction and respect of fundamental human rights, including the right to health care. Harm reduction is a public health philosophy that posits governments can more effectively and humanely address substance use by aiming efforts at reducing the negative consequences of drug use. These strategies include needle exchanges and overdose prevention sites, where people can use drugs under the supervision of individuals trained to reverse overdoses.

Some elected prosecutors are already leading this charge and implementing reforms that recognize the ineffectiveness of criminalizing drug use and the need for a paradigm shift. Seattle District Attorney Dan Satterberg has stopped charging virtually all personal possession cases of small amounts of drugs; San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon is wiping out over 9.000 past marijuana convictions; Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby recently decriminalized marijuana possession and is similarly working to expunge past marijuana convictions; and Chittenden County, Vermont State’s Attorney Sarah George has stopped prosecuting possession of the opioid treatment buprenorphine and has called for the opening of a supervised consumption site.

Before more lives are lost to jails or overdose deaths, leaders should follow the example of these pioneers and other countries around the world. Criminalizing and incarcerating people for drug-related offenses not only hasn’t worked but has led to additional harms to communities: an explosion in incarceration that fractured families and disparately impacted communities of color, the spread of infectious diseases and thousands of drug-related overdoses. We know now that most people who use drugs do not develop a substance use disorder, but for those who do, treatment is far more effective than jail. Harsh approaches don’t reduce drug supply or use. They simply drive people who use drugs into the margins of society. Further, overly punitive strategies that focus on prohibition are enormously expensive and take vital resources away from efforts that reduce overdoses and limit the spread of diseases. Criminalizing people who use drugs doesn’t just fail to make people safer and healthier, it makes them sicker and more likely to overdose in the shadows.

This shift from punishment to harm reduction requires a fundamental change in attitudes around drug use and the nature of addiction. From criminalizing people who sell drugs to fund their addiction, to jailing people who relapse during court-mandated treatment, the idea of drug use as a moral failing is deeply embedded in too many of our justice system policies. True change will require us to end our counterproductive use of criminal penalties for people who use drugs, stop demonizing them, and instead treat them as individuals deserving of compassion and care.

Global leaders, researchers and health care providers have already done the critical work of showing that harm reduction combined with the decriminalization of drug use and possession works in communities around the world.  If the U.S. seeks to joins other countries that have successfully implemented harm reduction strategies, its justice system must do its part to catch up and stop inflicting further harms. It’s time for leaders at all levels of government to affirm – through both words and action – that people who use drugs deserve dignity and respect, not isolation, jailing and death.

Read the whole article at salon.com

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Thankfully, Private Prisons are on the Decline and Louisiana has None

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Private prisons in the United States incarcerated 121,718 people in 2017, representing 8.2% of the total state and federal prison population. Since 2000, the number of people housed in private prisons has increased 39%.

However, the private prison population reached its peak in 2012 with 137,220 people. Declines in private prisons’ use make these latest overall population numbers the lowest since 2006 when the population was 113,791.

States show significant variation in their use of private correctional facilities. Indeed, the New Mexico Department of Corrections reports that 53% of its prison population is housed in private facilities, while 22 states do not employ any for-profit prisons. Data compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and interviews with corrections officials find that in 2017, 28 states and the federal government incarcerated people in private facilities run by corporations including GEO Group, Core Civic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), and Management and Training Corporation.

Eighteen states with private prison contracts incarcerate more than 500 people in for-profit prisons. Texas, the first state to adopt private prisons in 1985, incarcerated the largest number of people under state jurisdiction, 12,728.

Since 2000, the number of people in private prisons has increased 39.3%, compared to an overall rise in the prison population of 7.8%. In six states the private prison population has more than doubled during this time period: Arizona (479%), Indiana (310%), Ohio (277%), Florida (199%), Tennessee (117%), and Georgia (110%).

The Federal Bureau of Prisons maintains the nation’s highest number of people managed by private prison contractors. Since 2000, its use increased 77%, and the number of people in private federal custody — which includes prisons, half-way houses and home confinement — totaled 27,569 in 2017. While a significant historical increase, the population declined 15% since 2016, likely reflecting the continuing decline of the overall federal prison population.

Among the immigrant detention population, 26,249 people – 73% of the detained population – were confined in privately run facilities in 2017. The privately detained immigrant population grew 442% since 2002.

Political influences have been instrumental in determining the growth of for-profit private prisons and continue today. However, if overall prison populations continue the current trend of modest declines, the privatization debate will likely intensify as opportunities for the prison industry dry up and corrections companies seek profit in other areas of criminal justice services and immigration detention.

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Is Colorado Prepared to Divorce from the Dysfunctional Private Prison Relationship?

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Colorado lawmakers for the first time are preparing to map out a possible divorce from the private prison industry, and a long-shuttered maximum-security prison could be part of the solution.

A committee tasked with managing the state’s prison population has been workshopping a proposal that calls upon the Colorado Department of Corrections “to study how to end the practice of using private prisons by 2025 in a responsible way.”

The proposed bill also calls for Colorado to begin housing inmates at the remodeled Centennial South as a way to reduce the number of private beds used. The Cañon City prison opened in 2010 to house prisoners in solitary confinement but closed two years later as the state phased out the practice.

The draft bill says that for every prisoner housed at Centennial South, another must be moved out of a private facility until Centennial South is full.

Three of the department’s 25 prisons are privately owned. GEO Group, the world’s largest private prison company, owns one in Colorado Springs, and CoreCivic, the second-biggest player in the industry, owns prisons in Las Animas and Olney Springs. Together, these facilities hold nearly 4,000 of the roughly 20,000 people in DOC custody, according to the department’s September report.

The bill comes as public outrage against the private prison industry has swelled, leading Denver leaders to end contracts with companies running halfway houses and California leaders to pass a law barring the use of private facilities.

State Rep. Leslie Herod, a Denver Democrat who chairs the committee on prison population management, said she assumes she would carry the potential bill in the House.

“We have to ensure that (prisoners) are set up to succeed and that there’s not profiteering that’s happening on the backs of our criminal justice system,” Herod said.

But ending the state’s use of private prisons wouldn’t be simple, said Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Even if the state uses all the beds available at Centennial South, she said, it would still have to find space for more than 2,000 other inmates or significantly reduce the overall prison population to make a switch feasible.

The cost of such a change is still unknown and will be a crucial factor in any decisions, she said. Generally, private facilities are able to operate at a lower cost per inmate.

“The bottom line is going to be what that fiscal note says,” Donner said.

Because of those unknowns, DOC Director Dean Williams declined to take a stance on the proposed bill. He said he “philosophically” opposes the private prison industry but that the size of the population he manages puts him “in a difficult situation.”

“I’m concerned about any part of the prison or correctional system where there’s a profit incentive,” he said. “At the same time, I realize that we rely upon three private prisons to provide bed space — beds that we need.”

For the rural communities where CoreCivic’s prisons are located, the loss of the facilities would be devastating for their tax base and the hundreds of prison employees, said Blaine Arbuthnot, Crowley County commissioner. The leaders of Crowley and Bent counties met with Herod last week to discuss their concerns.

“Literally the private prison here pays half our property tax,” Arbuthnot said. “It would be devastating to lose that, not only for our county but for our school district.”

CoreCivic leaders are aware of the possible legislation, company spokesman Brandon Bissell said in a statement. Bissell said the company was proud of its track record in Colorado. Representatives from GEO Group did not return requests for comment on the proposal.

The private prison industry is deeply entrenched in Colorado. The bulk of its business is in community re-entry programs, such as halfway houses and treatment centers. Twenty of Colorado’s 25 biggest cities have at least one facility operated by either GEO or CoreCivic.

The draft bill does not call for the elimination of these re-entry contracts and instead focuses exclusively on the state’s three private DOC prisons. It would not affect the Aurora ICE detention center owned and operated by GEO.

Following direction from state lawmakers early this year, the DOC has been working on a roughly $1 million retrofit of Centennial South. This project included new common dining areas, new outdoor basketball courts, infrastructure improvements and some modifications to some of the 948 cells in the prison.

As it stands, the DOC is only authorized to keep prisoners at Centennial South, also known as CSPII, in the event of severe overcrowding throughout the system. But concerns about population overflow have subsided, and it now appears unlikely that Colorado will exceed the threshold to trigger the facility’s opening any time soon.

Herod said using the prison instead of private facilities gives the state the option to at least start a private prison phase-out sooner than 2025. A clean divorce from private prisons now or in the near future isn’t feasible, she said.

“We currently are under contract with some of these facilities, and we have offenders housed there,” Herod added. “There’s not alternative places to put them, but for CSPII.”

Herod also said that she thinks a phase-out would “likely include buy-backs,” as in the state purchasing some or all of the three private DOC facilities from GEO and CoreCivic.

On Oct. 30, the committee that drafted the bill will vote on whether to refer it to the legislature next session, which opens in January.

Read the full article by : https://www.denverpost.com/2019/10/19/colorado-private-prisons-geo-corecivic/

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Bernie Sanders unveils plan to legalize marijuana, invest tax revenue in minority businesses

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(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders released a comprehensive plan late Thursday afternoon to legalize marijuana, begin a process to expunge old pot-related convictions and take steps to shape the emerging legal sales industry.

The proposal dropped, winkingly, at precisely 4:20 PM ET.
Sanders, a longtime proponent of marijuana legalization, would also ban tobacco companies from getting into the increasingly lucrative business, while creating a $20 billion grant program — using tax revenue from marijuana sales — to provide new capital to minority entrepreneurs.
Decades of harsh laws and sentencing requirements have “disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans,” Sanders said in a statement. “When we’re in the White House, we’re going to end the greed and corruption of the big corporations and make sure that Americans hit hardest by the war on drugs will be the first to benefit from legalization.”
Sanders unveiled the blueprint ahead of his appearance Saturday at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College, an HBCU in South Carolina. The proposal takes a number of specific steps to address the disproportionately destructive impact federal drug policy has had on the African American community. The capital grant program will be would be administered through the Minority Business Development Agency.
As part of the plan, Sanders would create a federal clemency board to deal with past marijuana-related convictions, similar to a panel established in California. That body would instruct state and federal authorities to review all applicable cases to determine if a new or vacated sentence is required. It would also give prosecutors one year to appeal any decision, after which those convictions would be immediately vacated or expunged.
The 2020 Democratic candidates broadly agree on the need to reverse or roll back current drug laws. Decriminalizing possession and reducing sentencing guidelines, at the least, are popular among many of the leading primary contenders. But there is some disagreement over the scope of the reforms being suggested.
Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have said they would effectively legalize marijuana by executive action, with Sanders pledging to do it in his first 100 days in office. Their Senate colleague Cory Booker has been a leading reform advocate and his Marijuana Justice Bill counts Sanders, Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Michael Bennet among its co-sponsors.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg supports decriminalizing the possession of all drugs including marijuana, and said Wednesday during a visit to a marijuana dispensary in Nevada that past marijuana convictions should be expunged. Former Vice President Joe Biden does not back full legalization, saying he would leave that decision to the states. He would downgrade marijuana’s federal classification, to schedule II, which is the same as cocaine.
At Sanders’ rally this past weekend in Queens, the first after he returned to the campaign following a heart attack, he teased a plan to free prisoners convicted of certain drug-related crimes.
“We are going to end the horrifically destructive war on drugs and legalize marijuana,” Sanders said, tying the cause to a broader criminal and racial justice message. “And we are going to end the disgrace of 400,000 people right now locked behind bars because they are too poor to afford cash bail.”
In seeking to prevent major corporations from seizing on wider scale legalization, Sanders plans to incentive marijuana growers and distributors who choose to start non-profit or community co-op businesses that would benefit local economies. Existing companies that sell tobacco and cigarettes, along with those “that have created cancer-causing products or (are) guilty of deceptive marketing” would be locked out of the market, according to the Sanders plan.
At an event in Iowa in September, the Vermont independent promised that he was going to shift the bounty of marijuana sales from big corporations to the people who have been most heavily impacted by current, or only recently reversed, drug laws.
“I go to Nevada, and there are these big billboards, I don’t know if you’ve seen, and it says buy this or that brand of marijuana, have you seen this? They are advertising hemp,” Sanders said. “And I’m thinking that there are people in jail for doing exactly what these large corporations are doing, selling marijuana.”
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Louisiana permits hundreds of businesses to sell CBD products

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Louisiana has awarded business licenses to 775 companies that want to sell CBD products.

The state’s Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) received more than 1,000 permit applications after passage of a law outlining how retailers can sell products containing CBD. The ATC started the process in June.

Liquor stores, gas stations and CBD-specific shops were among the first businesses cleared to sell CBD.

Sellers must meet a lengthy list of requirements to receive licenses. The CBD products must carry scannable bar codes, QR codes or other information to verify the product’s certificate of analysis.

Smokable hemp products are banned in Louisiana.

Sales of beverages or food containing CBD are prohibited nationwide until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves cannabinoids as an ingredient for human consumption.

The FDA began its scientific review of cannabis-derived products with a public hearing on May 31.

The agency said it will report on its progress by this fall, though it has made no promises about expanding CBD access.

While the Louisiana law ended uncertainty about whether CBD products can be sold in the state, some have said the regulations are overly burdensome.

View full article here

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