ALBANY - New York's plan to legalize marijuana this year collapsed on
Wednesday, dashing hopes for a potential billion-dollar industry that
supporters said would create jobs in minority communities and end
decades of racially disproportionate policing.
Democratic lawmakers had been in a headlong race to finalize an
agreement before the end of the legislative session this week. But
persistent disagreement about how to regulate the industry, as well as
hesitation from moderate lawmakers, proved insurmountable.
"It is clear now that M.R.T.A. is not going to pass this session,"
Senator Liz Krueger of Manhattan said in a statement on Wednesday
morning, using an acronym for the legalization bill she had sponsored.
"We came very close to crossing the finish line, but we ran out of
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An association between weed and the dead turns out to have been
established long before the 1960s and far beyond a certain ur-band's
stomping grounds in San Francisco.
Researchers have identified strains of cannabis burned in mortuary
rituals as early as 500 B.C., deep in the Pamir mountains in western
China, according to a new study published Wednesday. The residue had
chemical signatures indicating high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC), the plant's most psychoactive, or mood-altering, compound.
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It can seem as though everyone in Silicon Valley is either heading to
or coming back from a psychedelic trip, and it is probably Michael
He did after all write a best seller, "How to Change Your Mind," about
how healthful psychedelics can be. His neighbor Ayelet Waldman, whose
memoir "A Really Good Day" recounts how taking acid helped her mood
and marriage, has something to do with it, too. And now, inspired by
Pollan, the writer T.C. Boyle has a new novel, "Outside Looking In,"
about Timothy Leary, the charismatic Harvard professor turned
psychedelics pied piper of the 1960s.
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A new study shoots down the notion that medical marijuana laws can
prevent opioid overdose deaths, challenging a favorite talking point
of legal pot advocates.
Researchers repeated an analysis that sparked excitement years ago.
The previous work linked medical marijuana laws to slower than
expected increases in state prescription opioid death rates from 1999
to 2010. The original authors speculated patients might be
substituting marijuana for painkillers, but they warned against
Still, states ravaged by painkiller overdose deaths began to rethink
marijuana, leading several to legalize pot for medical use.
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MINFORD, Ohio - Inside an elementary school classroom decorated with
colorful floor mats, art supplies and building blocks, a little boy
named Riley talked quietly with a teacher about how he had watched his
mother take "knockout pills" and had seen his father shoot up "a
Riley, who is 9 years old, described how he had often been left alone
to care for his baby brother while his parents were somewhere else
getting high. Beginning when he was about 5, he would heat up meals of
fries, chicken nuggets and spaghetti rings in the microwave for
himself and his brother, he said. "That was all I knew how to make,"
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Planet 13 in Las Vegas has attracted international attention since it
opened perhaps the world's biggest marijuana store last fall, with
3,000 people shopping each day for newly legal cannabis products while
surrounded by light shows and interactive art displays that feel
natural a few miles off The Strip.
Now Planet 13 has announced that its second location - and likely the
largest cannabis shop in California - will open early next year. And
since it's being billed as the "Disneyland of dispensaries," it's
fitting that it's opening just six miles from the theme park, in an
industrial stretch of Santa Ana.
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New data about the effects of the First Step Act, a bipartisan prison
reform bill that President Trump signed into law in December, is
showing that past injustices can be corrected, even in the most
politically polarized of times.
Last week, the United States Sentencing Commission, an independent
agency that advises federal judges on carrying out changes to
sentencing policy, reported that in the four months after the law went
into effect, more than 1,000 federal inmates were granted a sentence
reduction for offenses involving crack cocaine. In 2010, Congress
passed legislation to address these racially unjust sentences, but
that change wasn't retroactive.
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New trials have shown the drug psilocybin to be highly effective in
treating depression, with Oakland the latest US city to in effect
decriminalise it last week. Some researchers say it could become
'indefensible' to ignore the evidence - but how would it work as a
Lying on a bed in London's Hammersmith hospital ingesting capsules of
psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms, Michael had
little idea what would happen next. The 56-year-old part-time website
developer from County Durham in northern England had battled
depression for 30 years and had tried talking therapies and many types
of antidepressant with no success. His mother's death from cancer,
followed by a friend's suicide, had left him at one of his lowest
points yet. Searching online to see if mushrooms sprouting in his yard
were the hallucinogenic variety, he had come across a pioneering
medical trial at Imperial College London.
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The Oakland City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night that
decriminalizes certain natural psychedelics, including mushrooms, a
move that makes Oakland the second city in the nation to do so.
The resolution instructs law enforcement to stop investigating and
prosecuting people using the drugs. It applies to psychedelics that
come from plants or fungi, not synthetic drugs like LSD or MDMA, also
known as ecstasy.
After the vote, nearly 100 supporters rose from their chairs, clapped
and cheered loudly.
"I don't have words, I could cry," said Nicolle Greenheart, the
co-founder of Decriminalize Nature Oakland. "I'm thrilled. I'm glad
that our communities will now have access to the healing medicines and
we can start working on healing our communities."
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NEW YORK - Roky Erickson, the blue-eyed, dark-haired Texan who headed
the Austin-based 13th Floor Elevators, a pioneering psychedelic rock
band in the 1960s that scored with "You're Gonna Miss Me," has died.
He was 71.
Erickson's sinuous lead guitar and wailing vocals didn't turn him into
a chart topper, but they cemented his role as a musician's musician.
Fans included everyone from Lenny Kaye and the Swedish metal group
Ghost - who covered his "If You Have Ghosts" - to ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons.
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UCSF psychiatrist Brian Anderson is studying an experimental therapy
to help long-term AIDS survivors - people who were infected with HIV
in the 1980s and never expected to live this long - who are feeling
sad and demoralized.
In a clinic outfitted with a comfortable couch, soft lighting, throw
pillows and blankets, the participants of his study are given
psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound found in magic mushrooms. They
lie down for a few hours, a mask over their eyes and soothing music
playing in the background, and experience a psychedelic trip.
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The 2011 Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Vancouver's Insite clinic
clearly established 1) that supervised consumption sites are part of
health-care services that should be made accessible to people who use
drugs, 2) that these sites contribute to reducing the harms associated
with drug use, and 3) that denying access to these sites increases the
risk of death and disease.
In addition to saving lives every day, these sites act as an essential
point of contact for people to access much-needed health-care services
that have been proven effective to reduce overdoses, blood-borne
infections (hepatitis C and HIV), infections (i.e., skin, soft tissue,
heart and blood infections) and other medical complications. They also
help connect people who use drugs with social services and support to
address housing and food insecurity, mental health issues, trauma and
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Dr. James S. Ketchum, an Army psychiatrist who in the 1960s conducted
experiments with LSD and other powerful hallucinogens using volunteer
soldiers as test subjects in secret research on chemical agents that
might incapacitate the minds of battlefield adversaries, died on May
27 at his home in Peoria, Ariz. He was 87.
His wife, Judy Ketchum, confirmed the death on Monday, adding that the
cause had not been determined.
Decades before a convention eventually signed by more than 190 nations
outlawed chemical weapons, Dr. Ketchum argued that recreational drugs
favored by the counterculture could be used humanely to befuddle small
units of enemy troops, and that a psychedelic "cloud of confusion"
could stupefy whole battlefield regiments more ethically than the
lethal explosions and flying steel of conventional weapons.
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WASHINGTON - John A. Boehner, the former speaker of the House, once
stood second in line for the presidency and staunchly against
legalized marijuana. Now you can find the longtime Republican standing
before a wall-size photo of the Capitol, making an online infomercial
pitch for the cannabis industry.
"This is one of the most exciting opportunities you'll ever be part
of," Mr. Boehner says in an endlessly streaming video for the National
Institute for Cannabis Investors. "Frankly, we can help you make a
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Once Gov. Pritzker signs the bill into law, Illinois will become the
first state to approve cannabis sales through the Legislature, instead
of a ballot measure.
SPRINGFIELD - A recreational marijuana legalization bill will soon
land on Gov. J.B. Pritzker's desk after the Illinois House on Friday
voted to pass the comprehensive measure.
The Illinois House voted 66-47 after more than three hours of debate.
The Illinois Senate on Wednesday cleared the measure. The governor
issued a statement applauding the bill's passage and pledging to sign
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On Wednesday, 24-year-old Emma Semler was sentenced to 21 years in
federal prison for her frienda=80=99s overdose death. The Inquirera=80=99
Jeremy Roebuck and Aubrey Whelan reported that in 2014, Emma met up
with Jennifer Rose Werstler, a friend she had met in rehab. The two
used heroin together in a bathroom of a restaurant in West
Philadelphia. Jennifer overdosed and died. Emma, who brought the drugs
and left the scene, was later charged by federal prosecutors and
convicted of heroin distribution -- which has a mandatory minimum of
20 years if it involves a death.
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By day, Dill Avenue is a relatively quiet street: a few residents walk
their dogs or ride a bike and mostly keep to themselves. It wasn't
always this way.
Fulton County officials have seized a "notorious drug house" with the
plan to renovate it and eventually sell it to a low-income family.
For the past six years, the house at 730 Dill Avenue, located in the
Capitol View community, has been the site of drug use and violent
crime, including a stabbing and a killing, according to online police
records. Atlanta police have received numerous complaints about the
derelict property, some of which resulted in nine search warrants.
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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - Don't hold your breath if you're thinking the NFL
is on the brink of giving players the green light to smoke their pain
away with marijuana.
Go ahead, exhale. This is still going to take a while.
Sure, the league has put a progressive foot forward in striking an
agreement this week with the NFL Players Association in the name of
holistic health and wellness. There's a joint committee coming - not
joint as in blunt, but joint in that medical experts will be appointed
by the league and union - that is charged to study data on several
alternative methods of pain management and make recommendations.
BALTIMORE - Heroin has ravaged this city since the early 1960s,
fueling desperation and crime that remain endemic in many
neighborhoods. But lately, despite heroin's long, deep history here,
users say it has become nearly impossible to find.
Heroin's presence is fading up and down the Eastern Seaboard, from New
England mill towns to rural Appalachia, and in parts of the Midwest
that were overwhelmed by it a few years back. It remains prevalent in
many Western states, but even New York City, the nation's biggest
distribution hub for the drug, has seen less of it this year.
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Only a few days ago, millions of American probably had never heard of
psilocybin, the active agent in psychedelic mushrooms, but thanks to
Denver, it is about to get its moment in the political sun. On
Tuesday, the city's voters surprised everyone by narrowly approving a
ballot initiative that effectively decriminalizes psilocybin, making
its possession, use or personal cultivation a low-priority crime.
The move is largely symbolic - only 11 psilocybin cases have been
prosecuted in Denver in the last three years, and state and federal
police may still make arrests - but it is not without significance.
Psilocybin decriminalization will be on the ballot in Oregon in 2020
and a petition drive is underway in California to put it on the ballot
there. For the first time since psychedelics were broadly banned under
the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, we're about to have a national
debate about the place of psilocybin in our society. Debate is always
a good thing, but I worry that we're not quite ready for this one.
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Voters in Denver, a city at the forefront of the widening national
debate over legalizing marijuana, have become the first in the nation
to effectively decriminalize another recreational drug: hallucinogenic
The local ballot measure did not quite legalize the mushrooms that
contain psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound. State
and federal regulations would have to change to accomplish that.
But the measure made the possession, use or cultivation of the
mushrooms by people aged 21 or older the lowest-priority crime for law
enforcement in the city of Denver and Denver County. Arrests and
prosecutions, already fairly rare, would all but disappear.
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SHANCHONG, China - China has made your iPhone, your Nikes and, chances
are, the lights on your Christmas tree. Now, it wants to grow your
Two of China's 34 regions are quietly leading a boom in cultivating
cannabis to produce cannabidiol, or CBD, the nonintoxicating compound
that has become a consumer health and beauty craze in the United
States and beyond.
They are doing so even though cannabidiol has not been authorized for
consumption in China, a country with some of the strictest
drug-enforcement policies in the world.
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To his die-hard fans, Mr. Sherbinski is a storied name in marijuana.
A celebrated California cultivator, he helped create the Gelato and
Sunset Sherbert strains that have been name-checked in more than 200
hip-hop songs, including "First Off" by Future and "Bosses Don't
Speak" by Migos.
At the Business of Fashion's Voices conference in London last year,
his brand, Sherbinskis, was introduced as "the Supreme of marijuana."
And when Sherbinskis released its first sneaker design last year at
ComplexCon, a two-day festival of hip-hop and fashion in Long Beach,
Calif., the limited-edition Nike Air Force 1 model sold out in two
hours. (There is a pair currently on eBay asking more than $1,000.)
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As attorneys argued over a section of Arizona law that differentiates
between marijuana and cannabis, the state's Supreme Court justices
joked about baking pot brownies in their kitchens.
They clearly do not understand how the marijuana industry has
irresponsibly manipulated pot into dangerously high levels of potency.
My son could explain it to them. Or he could if he was still with
"I want to die," he wrote before hanging himself at the age of 31. "My
soul is already dead. Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain."
SAN FRANCISCO - David Dancer is a 48-year-old marketing executive who
has worked for big brands like Charles Schwab and Teleflora. A year
ago, he got a call from a recruiter for a different kind of company:
MedMen, a cannabis retailer that has been called "the Apple Store of
weed." The opening was for a chief marketing officer. He took it.
One of Mr. Dancer's early projects was a slick two-minute video by the
director Spike Jonze that begins with an anecdote about George
Washington as a hemp grower, a staple of dorm-room conversation. It
concludes with a suburban couple coming home with a bright red bag of
legally purchased pot, symbolizing "the new normal" - an ending that,
like his own career twist, seemed improbable not long ago.
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COSTA MESA, Calif. - In the forests of Northern California, raids by
law enforcement officials continue to uncover illicit marijuana farms.
In Southern California, hundreds of illegal delivery services and pot
dispensaries, some of them registered as churches, serve a steady
stream of customers. And in Mendocino County, north of San Francisco,
the sheriff's office recently raided an illegal cannabis production
facility that was processing 500 pounds of marijuana a day.
It's been a little more than a year since California legalized
marijuana - the largest such experiment in the United States - but law
enforcement officials say the unlicensed, illegal market is still
thriving and in some areas has even expanded.
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Dasha Fincher said she was borrowing a friend's car when she noticed a
half-eaten bag of blue cotton candy in the floorboard. It was the kind
kids like to buy from gas stations near her Macon home. She thought
little of it until a few minutes later when it became the biggest
problem in her life.
On New Year's Eve 2016, Monroe County deputies pulled the car over for
a suspected window-tint violation and spotted the bag. They used a
quick roadside test kit on the blue stuff and got a positive result
for methamphetamine. Fincher ended up charged with trafficking meth
and held in jail for three months on a breathtaking $1 million cash
bond before a lab test found the "meth" was really just cotton candy,
according to a lawsuit.
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SAN FRANCISCO - A billion dollars of tax revenue, the taming of the
black market, the convenience of retail cannabis stores throughout the
state - these were some of the promises made by proponents of
marijuana legalization in California.
One year after the start of recreational sales, they are still just
California's experiment in legalization is mired by debates over
regulation and hamstrung by cities and towns that do not want cannabis
businesses on their streets.
California was the sixth state to introduce the sale of recreational
marijuana - Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington paved the
way - but the enormous size of the market led to predictions of
soaring legal cannabis sales.
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There is a new tool to help battle the opioid epidemic that works like
a pregnancy test to detect fentanyl, the potent substance behind the
escalating number of deaths roiling communities around the country.
The test strip, originally designed for the medical profession to test
urine, can also be used off-label by heroin and cocaine users who fear
their drugs have been adulterated with the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
The strips are dipped in water containing a minute amount of a drug
and generally provide a result within a minute-with one line
indicating positive for fentanyl, and two lines negative.
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