Battle Erupts Over Harlem Dispensary Across the Street from Apollo Theater

A battle is underway to fight a new dispensary from opening in Harlem at a site known for its place in music history.

CBS2 reports that plans are unfolding to open a dispensary in a building on 125th Street, across the street from the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.

The 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) filed a lawsuit with the New York Supreme Court. “We’ve taken this action to really create transparency and to create a channel of communication to understand why this location,” Mukaram Taheraly, chairman of the 125th Street BID, told CBS2.

According to the BID, state regulators colluded in secret in order to avoid pushback from the Harlem community, especially considering the importance of the location. “We just wanna know why the decision was taken really without consulting us,” Taheraly said.

The lawsuit also accuses the state of violating its own regulation barring dispensaries from opening within 500 feet of a school. In this case, they say the dispensary is too close to Touro College, a high school-aged school in the area. The lawsuit lists a total of 47 businesses that serve or cater to minors.

For a solution, the BID recommends that the dispensary opens inside the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, which is owned by the state, so patrons can have a secure and a safe environment.

Crain’s New York Business reports that a sign hangs at the proposed location, indicating it was recently a COVID testing center.

Residents Recognize Apollo Theater in Music History

The Apollo Theater is no ordinary location: Since the swing era, it’s been synonymous with legendary Black musicians and performers. 

Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and comedians like Richard Pryor performed often at the theater. Other artists’ careers launched at the theater including Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., Diana Ross & The Supremes, Parliament-Funkadelic, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Jackson 5 and later Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Luther Vandross, The Isley Brothers, and the list goes on.

This could add to the reasons locals don’t want a dispensary directly across the street.

Some residents gave a balanced response when asked about the dispensary location. 

“They will have customers that feel like this is an establishment I can really go in and feel safe,” Harlem resident Breeze Fabre said.

“If they’re giving people jobs, I might come there and work,” another Harlem resident said.

“This is perhaps [a] situation where there is no right answer, but before we go forward, I think all the major stakeholders, their positions, should be considered,” Harlem resident Muna Heaven said.

Other residents are not so happy. “That’s the worst thing they can do,” Harlem resident Brenda Balthazar told ABC7. “Like right now a lot of things are happening on the train, and not only on the train but in neighborhoods.”

While the location is a few doors down from the Lazarus Children’s Clothing Store, there is also a tattoo parlor next door, and no one’s complaining about that.

The New York Cannabis Control Board approved 99 new licenses on April 3, increasing the total provisional retail dispensary licenses for Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries (CAURD) to 165.

The Cannabis Control Board wrote in a press release that the “licenses included four for Western New York, one for Central New York, five for mid-Hudson, and three for Brooklyn, marking the first provisional licenses to be issued in these regions following last week’s modification of a court injunction that had prevented the Board from issuing them.”

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Florida Medical Cannabis Doctor Sues State Health Department

Florida-based medical cannabis doctor, Dr. Joseph Dorn, is suing state health officials for attempting to strip him of his medical license, prohibit him from prescribing medical cannabis, and charge him a $10,000 fine.

Dorn was the target of an investigation in 2018, where two undercover state health department agents were referred to as “Patient O.G.” and “Patient B.D.” made appointments posing as patients to investigate Dorn’s practice, according to Health News Florida. Both agents made claims that they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which Dorn conducted a review and prescribed medical cannabis to ease those symptoms.

“The two undercover employees consulted with Dr. Dorn under their aliases, lied to his face, and were intentionally evasive so that they could obtain a medical marijuana recommendation from Dr. Dorn. Ultimately, Dr. Dorn recommended medical marijuana for both patients, believing that they qualified,” the lawsuit explained of the investigation.

Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins cleared Dorn of wrongdoing in March 2022, stating the Dorn has fully complied with state law. “The evidence of record undermines DOH’s argument that Dr. Dorn’s practice is nothing more than an ‘open gate’ to medical marijuana. In the case of both O.G. and B.D. (and presumably the other 28 patients examined), Dr. Dorn conducted a detailed and thorough assessment of the patient’s condition prior to prescribing medical marijuana,” Watkins wrote last year.

Now Dorn is suing the Florida State Health Department, as well as the two involved officers, for $50,000 in damages. The lawsuit claims that the agents “grossly exceeded their authority and violated state and federal law along the way,” and that the event caused Dorn to “[suffer] millions of dollars of damages due to loss of revenue and the damage to his reputation due to the actions and inactions.”

“Despite substantial testimony in the proceedings before the Florida Board of Medicine, no evidence whatsoever was found which would support a finding of probable cause for an action to revoke Dr. Dom’s medical license,” the lawsuit states.

Not only has Dorn been a practitioner in Florida for more than 30 years, but he was also one of Florida’s first physicians to prescribe medical cannabis to patients. This became possible when voters passed a constitutional amendment back in 2016. A law was also passed in 2017 to implement a foundation for the medical cannabis industry, including guidelines for patients and doctors.

The lawsuit claims that the health department agents did not provide any explanation as to why they targeted Dorn in the first place, according to Attorney Ryan Andrews. “The predicate for why they visited Dr. Dorn’s office unannounced was so lacking that calling it a ‘hunch’ would be gratuitous,” Andrews said. “DOH [Department of Health] had no basis to visit Dr. Dorn.”

Andrews called the investigation “indefensible.” “I can’t wait to hear their defenses, because I don’t think they have any,” he concluded.

While litigation on this case continues, the state of Florida continues to see a lot of progress both in medical cannabis and recreational cannabis. On April 10, regulators released new medical cannabis rules, which includes up to 22 retail medical cannabis licenses, and also increases the renewal fee required by all license holders every two years from the current fee of $60,000 to more than $1 million.

Advocates with Smart and Safe Florida are hard at work collecting signatures to add a recreational cannabis amendment to the ballot in 2024. So far, they’ve gathered more than 420,000 of the required 891,589 signatures to be placed on the ballot. The signature collecting campaign began in 2022, and has received a large amount of funding from companies such as Trulieve, which provided $5 million.

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New Lawsuit Against New York Cannabis Agency Filed

The New York-based Coalition for Access to Regulated & Safe Cannabis (CARSC) recently filed a lawsuit against the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) on March 16. CARSC is an “unincorporated trade association” that includes a handful of organizations, including Acreage Holdings, PharmaCann, Green Thumb Industries, and Curaleaf, all of which sought to apply for a dispensary license in New York.

The lawsuit is requesting a judge to declare Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) as unconstitutional, and state that the OCM and Cannabis Control Board (CCB) have overstepped their authority.

The lawsuit was filed with the Albany County Supreme Court by Feuerstein Kulick, claiming that the 2021 Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act required both the OCM and CCB “the initial adult-use retail dispensary license application period … for all applicants at the same time.” Both agencies made the CAURD, which created a new license class, and allowed specific groups to apply for it, rather than “all applicants.”

“Rather than perform the tasks required by the MRTA—which would promote a safe and regulated cannabis industry for medical patients and adult-use consumers alike—CCB and OCM have improperly assumed the role of the Legislature to impose their own policies over those of New York’s elected officials and, by extension, their constituents,” the lawsuit states, according to

The lawsuit alleges that the CCB and OCM didn’t complete the requirements of the MRTA, and instead abused its power to create the CAURD. CAURD originated from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative that was announced in March 2022, which “position individuals with prior cannabis-related criminal offenses” to earn one of 150 licenses, and an additional 25 to nonprofit organizations. It requires that an applicant must have been convicted of a cannabis crime in the state of New York, and also must have a “significant presence.”

The lawsuit alleges that a 20-month delay in proposed cannabis regulations is a violation of state law, among other evidence, including having cultivators grow thousands of pounds of cannabis without having retail businesses set up to sell it all.

In July 2022, OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander spoke with NY Cannabis Insider about the threat of a lawsuit such as this one. “I don’t have a concern about the challenge towards the retail opportunity, because the board has the power to create additional licenses,” Alexander said. “We think about legal challenges that may come to the program, but that’s why we stay as close to the law and the powers that law has given us as possible.”

One month before the CAURD application window ended in October 2022, a different lawsuit was filed that prevented the OCM from issuing licenses in five out of 14 areas: Finger Lakes, Central New York, Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and Brooklyn. The lawsuit alleges that CAURD violates the Dormant Commerce Clause, which “refers to the prohibition, implicit in the Commerce Clause, against states passing legislation that discriminates against or excessively burdens interstate commerce.”

Another lawsuit filed by Variscite NY One, a Michigan-based company, was denied a license because it is 51% owned by an individual who has no “significant presence” in New York, and has a cannabis conviction in Michigan, not New York. states that 66 CAURD licenses have been issued so far, with the CCB announcing in March that it plans to increase the pool of licenses to 300. 

Sen. Jeremy Cooney, who co-sponsored the MRTA, addressed the concerns of the lawsuit in a statement to NY Cannabis Insider. “When we passed the MRTA, there was an understanding that the rollout of adult-use recreational cannabis and expansion of New York’s medical cannabis program would be complex, and encounter obstacles,” Cooney said. “While a potential lawsuit is undoubtedly a new challenge, we must not allow it to become a roadblock to progress. We must continue our efforts to deliver for operators, patients, and consumers as the legal process unfolds. We are committed to increasing patient access for the medical program and creating equity in the recreational market.”

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Elon Musk Denies 420 Tweet Was About Weed

During a California court appearance Monday, when questioned about a 420 tweet, Elon Musk suddenly forgot the significance of the number in pot culture. The tech billionaire responded after being cornered by a prosecutor representing Tesla employees for a class action lawsuit alleging he tweeted and misled shareholders about the price of Tesla shares.

The fiasco began several years ago. In 2018, Musk rounded up Tesla shares from $419 to $420, announcing his plan to go private in a tweet. “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420,” Musk tweeted on Aug. 7, 2018. “Funding secured.”—sending officials from The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into a tailspin.

Musk said he tweeted the share price based on what he said was a “firm commitment” from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to take Tesla private. But about 10 days later, Musk admitted that the Tesla buyout he had envisioned wasn’t going to materialize.

After an investigation, the SEC fined Musk $40 million, forcing the billionaire to step down as chair of Tesla’s board. The SEC said that Musk misled investors. In the SEC’s complaint, Musk was accused of rounding up the share price to $420 from $419 “because he had recently learned about the number’s significance in marijuana culture.” 

Musk caused instantaneous uproar about a month later, sparking a blunt with Joe Rogan on his show “The Joe Rogan Experience” on Sept. 3, 2018, shocking Tesla investors and officials across the board. His troubles didn’t end there. High Times asked if it was “the most expensive blunt of all time” due to the fallout, with NASA- and SpaceX-associated officials reviewing his security clearance.

The Verge reports that Nicholas Porritt is an attorney for a class of Tesla investors suing Musk for millions of dollars that they say resulted from his failure to take Tesla private. 

The courtroom got tense: “You rounded up to 420 because you thought that would be a joke that your girlfriend will enjoy, isn’t that correct?” Porritt asked. “No,” Musk said, adding, “there is some, I think, karma around 420. I should question whether that is good or bad karma at this point.”

Musk said that 420 wasn’t a weed joke, but a roughly 20% premium on the $419 stock price at the time. “420 was not chosen because of a joke,” Musk testified. “It was chosen because there was a 20 percent premium over the stock price.” Musk also claimed that it was a “coincidence.”

The jury will decide if Musk should have to pay out up to billions of dollars in damages to Tesla shareholders for the money they lost due to his tweets.

Judge Edward Chen ruled that the jury should be aware that Musk’s 2018 tweets are false. Jurors will now need to decide whether Musk deceived Tesla shareholders because of his tweets.

Musk said that he was not relying on a commitment for the Saudi PIF when he tweeted “funding secured,” adding that his shares in SpaceX would also help fund the deal to take Tesla private. “Just as I sold stock in Tesla to buy Twitter… I didn’t want to sell Tesla stock, but I did sell Tesla stock,” Musk said. “My SpaceX shares alone would have meant that funding was secured.”

Musk has also been sued by a group of former Twitter employees after a mass firing. Musk recently became the CEO of Twitter after buying the platform for $44 billion in October 2022. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz is Twitter’s second-largest shareholder after Musk. 

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CannTrust Weed Cultivation Scandal Prosecution Falls Apart

Prosecutors with the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) told a Canadian court on Wednesday that they had no reasonable expectation of gaining a conviction against three former executives of the cannabis firm CannTrust Holdings and asked to withdraw charges against the men. But defense lawyers for former CannTrust CEO Peter Aceto, former chairman Eric Paul and former vice-chairman Mark Litwin have asked the judge for a full acquittal in the case.

“After careful review of the evidence during the trial, we are of the view that as charged, there is no reasonable prospect of conviction,” OSC lawyer Dihim Emami told Victor Giourgas, the judge presiding over the case.

The case involved allegations that Aceto, Paul and Litwin had overseen the illegal cultivation of thousands of kilograms of cannabis for Canada’s regulated market. In July 2019, CannTrust revealed that Health Canada, the country’s national health department and chief federal regulator of the cannabis industry, had determined that the company’s cultivation facility in Pelham, Ontario was found to be non-compliant with some regulations. The company had accepted the finding, noting that five rooms being used to grow cannabis at the Ontario facility were not properly licensed for cultivation between October 2018 and March 2019. The rooms were not fully licensed to cultivate cannabis until April 2019.

“Our team has focused on building a culture of transparency, trust and excellence in every aspect of our business, including our interactions with the regulator,” Aceto said at the time in a statement from CannTrust. “We have made many changes to make this right with Health Canada. We made errors in judgment, but the lessons we have learned here will serve us well moving forward.”

The OSC alleged that the defendants claimed in corporate disclosures that CannTrust’s cannabis operations were fully compliant with regulations. Aceto, Litwin and Paul were charged by the OSC and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with quasi-criminal offenses including fraud related to failing to disclose the unlicensed cultivation to investors. Litwin and Paul were also charged with insider trading for selling stock in CannTrust after learning about the allegations of unlicensed growing but before they were made public. Additionally, Litwin and Aceto were charged with making a false investment prospectus and a false preliminary prospectus.

Testimony Reveals Weakness Of Prosecutor’s Case

Last week, during the trial of the three former executives, Graham Lee, a former director of quality and compliance at CannTrust, testified that Health Canada staff had inspected the Ontario cultivation in November 2018 and April 2019, but did not take any action related to the unlicensed grow rooms. But at a subsequent visit, Health Canada inspectors inquired about the unlicensed rooms.

“They asked me if plants had been put into the unlicensed rooms, and they had been told other things earlier in the day…and so I clarified for them that, yes, they had been,” Lee testified.

As part of his testimony, Lee also said that CannTrust staff had once staged photographs taken as part of a regulatory submission to Health Canada in an attempt to obscure the purpose of the extra grow rooms. But he also noted that the employees had not been instructed by senior management to do so.

During cross-examination, defense attorneys presented evidence that the Ontario facility had been licensed to grow cannabis that did not contain any references to specific rooms. The revelation made it difficult for prosecutors to prove that unlicensed cultivation had occurred at the facility. 

Scott Fenton, an attorney representing Litwin, presented Lee with an April 5 email he sent to others at CannTrust, in which he wrote, “Please find attached, we are now licensed for all of the remaining outstanding Niagara areas.”

“But you told everybody that you’re now licensed,” Fenton said to Lee.

“Yes,” Lee answered.

“And used the wrong terminology?” Fenton asked.

“Yes,” Lee admitted.

“Were you confused regarding the operation of the Cannabis Act and its regulations?” asked Fenton.

“At times,” Lee replied.

On Wednesday, prosecutors told the court that the revelations made during the trial made it impossible to secure a conviction in the case and asked the judge to drop the charges against the defendants. But their lawyers asked Giourgas to fully acquit the former CannTrust executives of the charges against them.

“I am respectfully against dragging this out,” Fenton said. “The prosecution has determined they can’t prove the case. It is time to end it, and it should end today.”

“I can’t tell you how much anxiety there is among the defendants about the end of this matter for the reasons that you can imagine,” added Frank Addario, Aceto’s lawyer.

Prosecutor Emami asked for more time, saying he had received the request for acquittal that day. The defendants were due back in court on Thursday for the judge’s decision on the motion to acquit.

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Minnesota Files Lawsuit Against Several Companies for Illicit Edible Sales

The state of Minnesota said Monday that it is suing a trio of businesses for alleged violations of the state’s edible cannabinoid laws, saying that they are selling products that contain up to 50 times the permitted amount of THC. 

The lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy targets three companies, one of which, Northland Vapor—a company with retail locations in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota—allegedly “sold edible cannabinoid products that contain THC far in excess of five milligrams per serving and far in excess of 50 milligrams per package.”

Under Minnesota state law, the Board of Pharmacy explained, “an edible cannabinoid product…must not contain more than five milligrams of any hemp-derived tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a single serving or more than a total of 50 milligrams per package.”

Investigators for the agency “found packages containing 2,500 milligrams of THC, 50 times the amount permitted under Minnesota law,” the Board said. 

Perhaps the most notable contraband swept up in the investigation were thousands of packages of the Delta-8 THC products known as “Death by Gummy Bears.”

As the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy explained, the “U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received complaints about serious adverse events associated with Northland Vapor’s ‘Death by Gummy Bears’ delta-8 THC products, including a death.”

Minnesota Public Radio reports that the board’s lawsuit “says the owner of the companies, Brett Erpelding, acknowledged to investigators that they sold products that were not in compliance with Minnesota law but maintained the products were not sold in Minnesota.”

“The pharmacy board, in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has been investigating Erpelding’s companies after the FDA was notified in October that a healthy 23-year-old in West Virginia died shortly after consuming 10 Death by Gummy Bears brand items. The cause of death in the case was listed as undetermined,” Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Last month, on November 8, the Board of Pharmacy and the FDA “initiated an inspection at Northland Vapor’s manufacturing warehouse in Moorhead, Minnesota,” the Board said in its release, noting that investigators discovered “edible cannabinoid products that matched those for sale on the companies’ websites and at their retail location that were in violation of state law, including the following: Approximately 28,896 packages of Death by Gummy Bears, labeled as 25 individual gummy bears at 100 milligrams of THC per serving, totaling 2,500 milligrams per package; Approximately 112,710 packages of Death by Gummy Bears, labeled as 10 individual gummy bears at 100 milligrams of THC per serving, totaling 1,000 milligrams per package; Approximately 2,400 packages of Wonky Weeds Gummies, labeled as 10 individual gummies at 30 milligrams of THC per serving, totaling 300 milligrams per package; and Approximately 2,310 bottles of Wonky Weeds THC Syrup, containing 700 milligrams of THC per bottle.”

The state’s new edible law took effect last summer, catching some lawmakers and residents off guard, who weren’t aware that Minnesota had effectively legalized recreational cannabis. The law has come under criticism for its lack of regulations and safeguards.

The state’s Democratic governor, Tim Walz, has long expressed his support for legalization and now that he has secured re-election––and now that the Democrats have regained control of the state legislature––there is hope that an even more robust cannabis law may soon be arriving in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. 

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Wedding Guest Files Lawsuit Over Pot-Infused Reception Food

A woman who attended a Florida wedding earlier this year has filed a lawsuit against the caterer for the event, alleging that the business served food infused with cannabis at the reception. Virginia Ann Taylor-Svoboda, the plaintiff in the legal action, says that she “became immediately ill” after unknowingly eating food that was laced with “poisonous” amounts of marijuana, according to a report from the Miami Herald.

The wedding was held on February 19 in the city of Longwood, Florida, about 15 miles north of Orlando. After several guests reported that they felt high or stoned at the reception following the ceremony, emergency medical personnel and sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene to render aid, eventually taking several guests to a local hospital for treatment. 

A police report filed after the wedding reception revealed that food served at the event was sent to a lab for testing. The reports of the lab analyses showed that lasagna and bread served at the celebration tested positive for THC, the cannabinoid largely responsible for the high commonly associated with consuming marijuana.

Taylor-Svoboda filed suit in Seminole County against Joycelyn Bryant and her company, Joycelyn’s Southern Kitchen, asserting that she had no idea that the food served at the wedding reception contained cannabis. A complaint filed in the suit alleges that Taylor-Svoboda suffered from “marijuana poisoning” after consuming food served by Bryant’s company. The lawsuit, which requests a jury trial for the case, accuses Bryant of negligence and seeks more than $30,000 in damages from the defendant and her business.

“(Bryant) knew, or should have known, that allowing the food served by (Joycelyn’s Southern Kitchen) to be laced with marijuana was reasonably likely to cause injuries and damages to wedding guests,” the lawsuit maintains.

Bride And Caterer Arrested In February

In April, Bryant and the bride, Danya Shea Svoboda, were arrested and charged with violating the Florida Anti-Tampering Act, delivery of marijuana and culpable negligence, according to the report from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. Affidavits filed in the case allege that Svoboda “agreed to and allowed Joycelyn Montrinice Bryant to lace the food she served … with cannabis unbeknownst to the attendees, many of whom became very ill and required medical attention,” according to a report from CNN.

When deputies from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the reception, several wedding guests were being treated by county fire rescue personnel for “symptoms consistent with that of someone who has used illegal drugs,” according to police records.

When a deputy asked the bride and her new husband, Andrew Svoboda, whether they had requested or consented to the food being infused with cannabis, Andrew “stared at (the deputy) with a blank expression for a few moments before stuttering through a ‘no,’” the affidavits state.

Lab tests showed three wedding guests had urine tests that were positive for cannabis, according to court records filed in the criminal case. Some wedding guests reported that they felt “stoned” and “ill and high,” the affidavits report, while another guest said that he felt “weird, tingly, fidgety, and had an extremely dry mouth” after eating food served at the wedding reception. When a woman asked the caterer if the food contained marijuana, Bryant “giggled and shook her head yes,” the report states.

According to the affidavits, one woman told an investigator that while she was at the hospital, she felt paranoid and “believed her husband … wasn’t telling her the truth about other family members,” adding that she had thought her son-in-law had died and no one was telling her. She said she became loud and unruly in the hospital emergency room and had to be sedated to calm her down.

Defendants Face Food-Tampering Charges

The Tampa-based Sammis Law Firm reported that Florida’s Anti-Tampering Act “covers tampering with food as well as tampering with certain types of drugs, devices, or cosmetics.” Attorneys noted that the statute is not often used, in part because “the statutory language is poorly written and fails to track the federal food anti-tampering law.” The firm also notes that the “terms used in Florida’s Anti-Tampering Statute are extremely vague, leading to constitutional challenges by criminal defense attorneys.”

“Local law enforcement officers will investigate any such allegation and take swift action. These crimes can be charged as a third-degree, second-degree, or first-degree felony depending on how the tampering occurred and the harm caused,” the firm explains. “Many of these crimes are committed by juveniles because of the often impulsive nature of the offense.”

The criminal case against Bryant is ongoing. She is due for her next appearance in court on January 11.

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Thailand Cannabis Advocates Rally After Lawsuit Challenges Decriminalization

The future of Thailand’s cannabis industry is up in the air after a new legal challenge could bring everything to a screeching halt. In response, advocates in the country are mobilizing today in Bangkok to fight back.

An order, issued by Thailand’s Public Health Ministry, effectively removed cannabis from the country’s Category 5 narcotics list on June 9. Under those regulations, marijuana and hemp cultivation and commerce were legalized. Restaurants and cafes are permitted to sell foods and beverages infused with cannabis, but only if they contain no more than 0.2% THC. Products with higher concentrations of THC are permitted, but only for medicinal purposes.

Things didn’t go over well with the opposition, however, and Thailand’s cannabis industry was slammed for its lack of basic controls. The opposition argues that Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul caused social problems for the country and violated local and international laws by issuing the decriminalization order. In response to the growing criticism, the Public Health Ministry announced a new ministerial rule to better control the promotion and sale of cannabis flower, but the law has not yet taken effect.

The Central Administrative Court on Monday accepted a lawsuit spearheaded by Smith Srisont of Thailand’s Medical Council and MPs from opposition political parties who seek to revoke the decriminalization order. Srisont is a member of the Medical Council and president of the Forensic Physician Association of Thailand. His lawsuit names Charnvirakul and the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) as co-defendants.

The political parties opposed to cannabis include Move Forward, Pheu Thai, Thai Liberal, Thai People Power, and Prachachat parties.

Cannabis advocates in the area, however, aren’t going to accept the current legal challenge and are making efforts to have their voices heard.

Cannabis Advocates Fight Back

One of Thailand’s top cannabis advocates Chokwan “Kitty” Chopaka announced on Facebook that she and other dispensary owners would rally together at noon on November 22 at the Government House in Bangkok to protest against the lawsuit that could end everything. 

“Dropping by different dispensaries around Sukhumvit to invite them to attend the protest tomorrow which went better than what I thought, I guess having your business threaten can make people quite active,” Chopaka posted on Facebook, translated from Thai.

“I apologize if I could not personally invite every dispensary, and I would like to take this time to invite all dispensaries to come out and protest against the Narcotics Control Board re-criminalizing cannabis again. Which means that all dispensaries may get shut down.”

“Those that do not want their businesses shut down. Those that do not want their investment disappeared. Those that do not want to hide their grow again. Those that want to sell cannabis legally. Those that do not want to go back to getting piss tested. Those that want to see cannabis stay legal, come and join us.”

ABC News reports that about 200 people showed up to the rally at the Government House in Bangkok. “We want to ensure that these politicians are not trying to put cannabis on the narcotics list again. If that happens, our fight for years will mean nothing,” Akradej Chakjinda, a coordinator of Cannakin, a network of cannabis decriminalization supporters, told The Associated Press.

A proposed bill, the Cannabis Act, would implement Anutin’s decriminalization policy, and will be introduced in Parliament on November 23.

Another advocate, Soranut “Beer” Masayavanich, owner of Sukhumweed dispensary, announced that another group will gather at the Ministry of Public Health to discuss the upcoming Cannabis Act with Charnvirakul. 

“We aim to create mutual understanding on benefits that cannabis will bring,” Beer stated. “We insist that decriminalizing cannabis brings benefits to several sectors from tourism and economy to agriculture.”

Opposition leaders say that it is better to put cannabis back on the country’s banned narcotics list until the proper legislation is put into place. 

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Judge Tosses Out Lawsuit on Rule Barring Medical Cannabis Users From Buying Guns

A federal judge last week threw out a lawsuit brought by a top Florida official challenging a rule that prohibits medical marijuana patients from purchasing and acquiring guns. 

The News Service of Florida reports that U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor “issued a 22-page ruling [on Friday] that granted a request by the U.S. Department of Justice to dismiss the lawsuit, which alleged the prohibitions violate Second Amendment rights.”

The crux of the lawsuit, which was filed in April by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, centered around a discrepancy between state and federal law. 

As the News Service explained:

“Under federal law, possession of marijuana is illegal; under a 2016 Florida constitutional amendment, hundreds of thousands of patients are able to buy medical marijuana. Federal laws also bar certain people from buying and possessing guns, including people who use drugs illegally. The lawsuit, filed in April, alleged the federal prohibitions ‘forbid Floridians from possessing or purchasing a firearm on the sole basis that they are state law-abiding medical marijuana patients.’”

Fried, a Democrat who at the time was running for governor of Florida, said in her announcement of the lawsuit that she was “suing the Biden Administration because people’s rights are being limited.”

Medical marijuana is legal. Guns are legal,” Fried said in the announcement, which came on 4/20. “This is about people’s rights and their freedoms to responsibly have both.”

But in his ruling on Friday, Winsor disagreed.

“In 2016, Florida stopped criminalizing the medical use of marijuana. Many people refer to this change as Florida’s ‘legalizing’ medical marijuana, but Florida did no such thing. It couldn’t. ‘Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, state laws cannot permit what federal law prohibits,’ and federal law still prohibits possession of marijuana — for medical purposes or otherwise,” Winsor wrote, as quoted by the News Service of Florida.

NBC News, reporting on Fried’s lawsuit in April, said that it “[targeted] a federal form that asks whether the gun buyer is an unlawful user of drugs and specifies that marijuana is illegal under federal law.”

“A person allowed by the state to use marijuana must then check “yes,” which results in denial of the purchase. Lying by checking ‘no’ runs the risk of a five-year prison sentence for making a false statement,” NBC explained at the time. “Fried, whose office oversees concealed weapons permits and regulates some aspects of medical marijuana, argues in her lawsuit that the form violates the Second Amendment rights of lawful medical marijuana patients and runs afoul of a congressional budget prohibition on federal agents’ interfering with state-sanctioned cannabis laws.”

Fried was a candidate for governor this year, but she fell to Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary held in August. 

She has long been a champion for cannabis reform.

Crist, who is challenging Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis in Tuesday’s election, has pledged to legalize recreational cannabis in the Sunshine State if he is elected.

Crist also announced last month that he would “expunge criminal records for those arrested on misdemeanors or third-degree felonies related to the drug if he were elected governor next year,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

DeSantis, who is heavily favored to win on Tuesday, has said previously that legalization will not happen on his watch.

“Not while I’m governor,” DeSantis, widely regarded as a possible Republican presidential candidate, said in 2019. “I mean look, when that is introduced with teenagers and young people, I think it has a really detrimental effect to their well being and their maturity.”

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New Lawsuit Challenges Adult-Use Ordinance in Detroit

A lawsuit filed on Sept. 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan claims that the city’s adult-use cannabis ordinance is unfair to longstanding city residents. The lawsuit comes from plaintiffs Arden Kassab, who owns multiple medical cannabis dispensaries in Detroit, and PharmaCo.

In June 2021, a lawsuit concluded with an opinion from U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman stating that the city of Detroit’s process of obtaining an adult-use cannabis license was “unconstitutional” and “gives an unfair, irrational and likely unconstitutional advantage to long-term Detroit residents over all other applicants.” The most recent lawsuit claims that “…Detroit has essentially rebranded the ‘legacy’ program’ as a ‘social equity’ program.”

The result of that case caused a delay in the processing of recreational cannabis applications, and the city revised the rules later that year in November 2021.

However, the newest lawsuit claims that the revised ordinance did not solve the problems. “While Detroit alleges that its new cannabis ordinance cures the constitutional deficiencies found by Judge Friedman, the … (ordinance) remains ‘far more protectionist than it is equitable,’” the new lawsuit states, quoting Judge Friedman’s original statement from 2021.

According to the Detroit Free Press, one example was provided to illustrate the issues with the ordinance in its current form. Plaintiff Arden Kassab lived in Pontiac for “many years,” which is an area that is both negatively affected by the War on Drugs, and they also have a cannabis conviction. However, Kassab no longer lives in Pontiac and no longer qualifies under the current rules.

Similarly, plaintiff PharmaCo (a subsidiary of Red White & Bloom) can’t currently obtain a recreational license because “it must divest itself of substantial real property or business ownership interests in order to obtain social-equity points needed to compete,” the Detroit Free Press states.

The revised ordinance set aside half of the licenses to be reserved for “equity applicants,” such as those who are current residents in the city, as well as those who live in specific areas of Michigan that have higher cannabis convictions, and also where 20% of the population lives below the poverty line, according to federal standards. Previously, the ordinance reserved half of the licenses for “legacy Detroiters,” or people who have been residents in Detroit for a specific amount of time.

Although Michigan legalized recreational cannabis in November 2018, the city of Detroit didn’t approve adult-use sales until November 2020. The first lawsuit arrived less than one year later in June, followed by the revision release in November 2021. The ordinance took effect in April 2022, but in May a new lawsuit (from House of Dank) emerged to address concerns about conflicts with state law. Another lawsuit (from JARS Cannabis) arrived in June claiming that the ordinance violated state law.

By August, both of the lawsuits were dismissed. On Aug. 30, Wayne County Judge Leslie Kim Smith wrote in an opinion stating that the ordinance was fair. “Although the city’s 2022 marijuana ordinance is a complicated scheme, it is unambiguous and provides a fair licensing process, which comports with the mandates of the MRTMA [Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act],” Smith wrote.

Applications for adult-use licenses opened on Sept. 1, 2022 and closes on Oct. 8. In a statement, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan expressed his confidence in the ordinance. “We are going to make sure there is equity in this process for Detroiters.”

Likewise, City Council President Pro Tem James Tate told CBS News Detroit in early September that the process has been lengthy, but the ordinance is fair. “Getting to this point has been an overly protracted process dating back to 2020 when the first ordinance was unanimously approved by Detroit City Council,” said Tate. “Now with the lawsuits and the failed ballot initiatives seeking to overturn our ordinance behind us, Detroiters and other equity applicants will have a fair opportunity to compete for adult-use licenses in a city that welcomes all to participate in the multi-million-dollar adult-use cannabis industry.”

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