PHOENIX - When Arizonans voted to legalize recreational cannabis in
November, it seemed plausible that sales would begin sometime in the
But on Jan. 22, less than three months after the vote, the Arizona
Department of Health Services started quickly approving applications,
allowing dispensaries to sell cannabis to adults 21 and older
"It was kind of like ripping a Band-Aid off," said Jennifer Matarese,
the president of a management company that runs Local Joint in
Phoenix. Like many other dispensaries in Arizona, Local Joint has been
serving medical patients for years; the legalization of recreational
cannabis has led to a rapid rise in demand.
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State lawmakers finalized a deal on Thursday to legalize recreational
marijuana in New York, paving the way for a potential $4.2 billion
industry that could create tens of thousands of jobs and become one of
the largest markets in the country.
Following several failed attempts, lawmakers in Albany struck an
agreement with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to legalize cannabis for adults 21
and older, a move that officials hope will help end years of racially
disproportionate policing that saw Black and Hispanic people arrested
on low-level marijuana charges far more frequently than white people.
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For years, Harry B. Lebowitz spent the cocktail hour at his home in
Delray Beach, Fla., sitting in his backyard overlooking a lake and
smoking a joint while his partner relaxed with her vodka and club soda.
Mr. Lebowitz, 69, a mostly retired businessman, qualified for a state
medical marijuana card because he suffered from anxiety, sleep apnea
and back pain. He credits cannabis with helping to wean him off
several prescription drugs.
Then came Covid-19, heightening both his anxiety and his boredom. "It
was like the world stopped," Mr. Lebowitz said. "We're all suffering
from some form of PTSD, all of us."
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Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon announced the members of the state's newly
formed Psilocybin Advisory Board this week. Why does Oregon need an
official board to offer advice about the active ingredient in magic
mushrooms, you ask? Because Oregon is about to become the first state
in the country to try to build a support infrastructure through which
psychedelic mushrooms can be woven into everyday life. This framework
is different from what we've seen before: not legalization, not
medicalization, but therapeutic use, in licensed facilities, under the
guidance of professionals trained to guide psychedelic experiences.
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WASHINGTON - In February, the Biden administration signaled that past
marijuana use would not necessarily disqualify a person from
employment by relaxing longstanding policies that have barred some
past users of the drug from working in the White House.
The change was seen as a way to open the door for younger talent from
parts of the country where marijuana has been legalized, but it took
only a few weeks for the new guidelines to be publicly tested.
On Friday, responding to a news report in The Daily Beast that said
dozens of young staff members had been pushed to resign or had been
reassigned to remote work based on their past marijuana use, Jen
Psaki, the White House press secretary, confirmed that some employees
had been sidelined but said that it applied to fewer people.
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MEXICO CITY - Mexico, a country carved up by cartels for decades, is
poised to take a major step in drug policy. This week, the lower house
of Congress approved a landmark bill to legalize recreational
marijuana, which would make it the world's largest legal market for
With legalization considered all but certain to win Senate and
presidential approval, many in the business world are predicting a
Mexican green boom: a newly legal industry providing tens of thousands
of jobs, millions of dollars in profit for savvy entrepreneurs and
welcome tax revenue for the government.
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Dan Shapiro was the first person I knew to use medical marijuana. As a
junior at Vassar College in 1987, he was being treated for Hodgkin's
lymphoma with potent chemotherapy that caused severe nausea and
vomiting. When Dan's mother learned that smoking marijuana could
relieve the distressing side effect, to help her son, this otherwise
law-abiding woman planted a garden full of the illegal weed in her
Connecticut back yard.
Decades later, marijuana as medicine has become a national phenomenon,
widely accepted by the public. Although the chemical-rich plant
botanically known as Cannabis sativa remains a federally controlled
substance, its therapeutic use is now legal in 36 states and the
District of Columbia.
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Texas has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana laws in the
country, with sales allowed only by prescription for a handful of conditions.
That hasn't stopped Lukas Gilkey, chief executive of Hometown Hero
CBD, based in Austin, Texas. His company sells joints, blunts, gummy
bears, vaping devices and tinctures that offer a recreational high. In
fact, business is booming online as well, where he sells to many
people in other states with strict marijuana laws.
But Mr. Gilkey says that he is no outlaw, and that he's not selling
marijuana, just a close relation. He's offering products with a
chemical compound - Delta-8-THC - extracted from hemp. It is only
slightly chemically different from Delta 9, which is the main
psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
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ALBANY, N.Y.-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he would
amend his proposal to regulate and tax recreational marijuana in hopes
that the drug could be legalized as part of the state budget due by
The amended proposal would allow for delivery services and reduce the
penalty for people who unlawfully sell marijuana to a person under the
age of 21. It would also add specificity to a social-equity fund that
the Democratic governor said would help revitalize communities that
have been most harmed by the war on drugs. He said the amendments
reflected conversations with lawmakers.
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Voters in four states last year approved the recreational use of
marijuana. That is likely to launch a land rush there for warehouses
and retail properties.
Similar measures in other states have sparked heated competition for
these types of real estate. Owners have been able to charge as much as
three times market rates when selling or renting to businesses
involved in the cultivation, distribution, processing or sale of
cannabis, according to brokers, landlords and cannabis industry executives.
Landlords can charge this pot premium because properties typically
have to meet a range of local restrictions to qualify, such as being a
certain distance from churches or schools.
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No more than five players have been suspended for violating the NBA's
and National Basketball Players Association's marijuana policy in the
past four seasons.
The issue isn't if NBA players do or don't use marijuana. It's just
that players don't have serious issues with violating the policy.
After not conducting random testing for marijuana to finish the
2019-20 season inside the bubble near Orlando, Florida, the league is
not doing random testing for marijuana this season.
It's time the NBA and NPBA permanently altered their policy on
marijuana and stopped penalizing players for using it.
Regarding Sally Satel's review of "Drug Use For Grown-Ups" by Carl L.
Hart, neuroscientist and professor of psychology at Columbia
University (Bookshelf, Jan. 14): I'm a 44-year-old male who is 15
years into a 25-year sentence for shooting a man four times in a
cocaine deal that went sideways. I've been selling and using drugs
since I was 12 years old. All three of my uncles are dead from
opiate-related deaths. My childhood best friend overdosed from heroin
in 2017. Setting aside the arguments that include freedom of choice
and putting a dent in the profits of drug cartels, I attempt to look
at drugs in a more nuanced way.
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Jason White has created dazzling advertising and marketing campaigns
for Nike and Disney, the World Cup and Olympic Games, to name a few.
But when the Georgetown alumnus told his parents he was exiting
Apple-owned Beats by Dre for the cannabis industry, the announcement
landed with a thud. "What they heard was, 'You're going to sell weed,'
" the 44-year-old said, laughing.
White is now chief marketing officer at Curaleaf Holdings Inc., which
says it is the world's largest provider (by revenue) of legal medical
and recreational cannabis. While some liken legal pot to a gold rush,
White - who is African American and Cuban - talks of repairing
communities harmed by the war on drugs. "Some are very wary of
cannabis, having seen people arrested and their voting rights taken
away," he says. "But as cannabis has become more mainstream, others
don't see harm, but opportunity. I want to use this platform to help
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For decades, nitrous oxide has been widespread at raves and music
festivals, used as a quick buzz. The drug doesn't have the death toll
of the opiate disaster or the widespread popularity of marijuana, but
it's widely sold - legally - all over the country, though its
consumption outside medical facilities is illegal in many states.
But the inhalant's use and misuse seems to be on the rise, fueled by
the stress and isolation of the coronavirus pandemic. It's also in the
spotlight this week after the death of Tony Hsieh at 46, the former
chief executive of the online shoe empire Zappos, in a house fire in
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OTTAWA - When Robert was 18, he was arrested by Montreal's police for
possession of a small amount of hashish, an event that would upend his
The charge brought him 30 days in jail, and the conviction ended his
part-time job as a translator.
"Back then, you smoke a joint, you would get arrested," said Robert,
who asked that only his first name be used because of the continuing
stigma of his criminal record. "Then the cops would put you in a car,
then pull over and give you a couple of shots in the head. You get
slapped around just because of smoking."
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In a referendum in November, Oregon became the first state to
decriminalize the possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine,
methamphetamine and LSD. The move was inspired by a 2001 law in
Portugal that removed incarceration as a penalty for drug possession.
To judge by "Drug Use for Grown-Ups," Carl Hart welcomed this news,
which came too late for him to mention in his provocative and
enlightening book. He opens with the announcement: "I am an
unapologetic drug user."
Mr. Hart, a professor of psychology and a neuroscientist at Columbia
University, asserts that "recreational drugs can be used safely to
enhance many vital human activities." He bases his claim on decades of
research on the behavioral and physiological effects of drugs in
humans, coupled with his personal use. Thanks to drugs, he says, "I am
a happier and better person." He asks that we think about drugs in a
more nuanced way, even at a time when opioid abuse is still headline
news. Thus his book represents a calculated risk-namely, that by
portraying drug use as so potentially rewarding for responsible users,
it may inadvertently seduce non-grown-ups into hazardous use.
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CULIACAN, Mexico - Like a lot of businesses, the Sinaloa Cartel was
knocked back on its heels as the coronavirus swept the globe and
travel ground to a near halt.
Government measures to contain the virus had fouled up its operations,
interrupting the supply of chemicals for manufacturing synthetic drugs
like fentanyl and methamphetamine and cutting off trafficking routes
across international borders.
But the cartel is not just any business. It established itself as one
of the world's most powerful drug trafficking groups with a trademark
mix of business acumen, ingenuity and lawlessness.
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MIR ALI, Afghanistan - On the barren high plains of western
Afghanistan, along a roadway south of Herat city, is a collection of
sturdy earthen huts known as Qala-e-Biwaha, or "village of widows."
Most of the village's men have disappeared - killed while trying to
smuggle opium across the desolate frontier into neighboring Iran. The
widows have been left to fend for themselves and their children, some
of whom have also died while transporting drugs over the border from
Herat Province's rugged Adraskan district.
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GLASGOW - Every Friday for the past two months, Peter Krykant has
parked his white van on Parnie Street in central Glasgow, around the
corner from a games shop and several art galleries, and waited for
people to come by and inject illegal drugs.
Inside the van are two seats and two tables, each with a stainless
steel tray and hypodermic needles, as well as several biohazard trash
cans. The van is also equipped with naloxone, the medication used to
reverse an opioid overdose, and a defibrillator. (There are Covid-19
safety precautions, too: hand sanitizer and a box of masks.)
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The House endorsed a landmark retreat in the nation's decades-long war
on drugs Friday, voting to remove marijuana from the federal schedule
of controlled substances and provide for the regulation and taxation
of legal cannabis sales.
The vote was 228 to 164 and was the first time either chamber of
Congress has voted on the issue of federally decriminalizing cannabis.
The measure is not expected to pass into law, and, because of
political skittishness, it was voted on only after the November
election and more than a year after it emerged from committee. But the
House took a stand at a moment of increasing momentum, with voters
last month opting to liberalize marijuana laws in five states -
including three that President Trump won handily.
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