News Nuggets

THE STATE

Medical-cannabis employees in Oakland unionize

In what marijuana advocates and city officials are calling a milestone moment, some 100 medical-cannabis employees in Oakland have officially unionized. 

The employees voted in May to join the 26,000-member-strong United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 5. Union president Ron Lind hailed the move, telling The New York Times that the new members were “great workers” and a natural fit for the organization of primarily grocery and meat-industry employees. The San Jose-based union is believed to be the first in the nation to organize workers in the cannabis industry. 

The vote was hailed by Oakland officials as a positive development for the city, which is straining under an unemployment rate of more than 17 percent. It was also cheered by cannabis-legalization proponents, who called it an important step toward the mainstreaming of marijuana. 

 

Dueling marijuana bills advance in Legislature

Two bills by Democratic lawmakers are working their way through the state Legislature, with one proposing to reduce the penalty for possessing small quantities of cannabis and the other aimed at creating a buffer zone between cannabis clubs and schools.

Senate Bill 1449, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would reclassify possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction, punishable by a $100 fine. The bill cleared the state Senate June 3 by a 21-13 vote, and is now under consideration by the Assembly.

Also on June 3, the Assembly voted 54-15 to pass a bill by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) that would prevent medical marijuana from being dispensed within 600 feet of a school. Assembly Bill 2650 now goes to the Senate for committee review.

A third bill, by state Sen. Tom Ammiano, that would have allowed paraphernalia to be sold for marijuana use was defeated in the Assembly June 3 by a vote of 36-33.

 

Food truck delivers pot lollipops to Lakers parade goers

Basketball fans who turned out by the thousands to celebrate the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA championship were treated to more than glimpses of their favorite players: A food truck cruised the parade route handing out scores of free marijuana-enhanced lollipops. 

Workers in the truck, which had the words “Weed World Candies.com” emblazoned on its side, passed out the THC-laced treats to anyone who could show that they were qualified medical-cannabis patients, according to news articles. The Los Angeles Times reported that the truck was run by a former West Hollywood collective operator recently forced to close shop. 

Varieties of the lollipops included OG Kush and Grand Daddy Perp, and some were specially made in Lakers colors, news reports stated. As of press time, no one was arrested in connection with the stunt. 

 

THE NATION

Study: Pot use not associated with onset of schizophrenia 

Marijuana use by itself is not significantly connected with the onset of schizophrenia, say researchers at several New York medical facilities and Yale University. 

Researchers compared 49 schizophrenia patients with a history of marijuana use to 51 patients who did not use the drug, and found no association between cannabis use and the onset of psychosis. The finding was published in the journal Schizophrenia Research

NORML noted in a press release that the East Coast researchers’ conclusions flew in the face of longstanding claims by government health officials that cannabis can cause psychotic episodes. 

 

Court: THC byproduct not enough to charge drivers

Michigan drivers found with a THC byproduct in their blood cannot be charged with driving while impaired, according to the state’s Supreme Court in a recent ruling.

Writing for the majority in the 4-7 ruling, Justice Michael Cavanaugh noted that “carboxy”—shorthand for a metabolite that appears in the bloodstream after cannabis is ingested—can linger in the body for weeks after the drug is taken. The presence of carboxy in a driver’s blood cannot be cited as proof the driver was under the influence, Cavanaugh wrote. 

The ruling stemmed from a 2005 incident in which a driver struck and killed a severely drunk pedestrian on a wet, dark road in Michigan’s Washtenaw County.  The driver tested positive for carboxy and was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana and other offenses. 

The justices, reversing a 2006 Michigan Supreme Court decision, ruled that the presence of carboxy is not a crime, as it isn’t a controlled substance.

 

THE WORLD

Police uproot pot garden in convent; nuns upset 

Police in the southern Ugandan city of Masaka are trying to figure out just who was responsible for setting up and maintaining a 1-acre marijuana plantation inside a Catholic convent. 

Authorities may not have to look far: According to a BBC News report, one of the nuns at the convent told a reporter that the cannabis was used as a “health treatment” for farm animals. The report also described the nuns at the compound as being angry with police for entering the convent without permission and uprooting the plants.

A police official told BBC that two convent workers were arrested and two nuns questioned over the discovery.

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