May 2018

Parents Treating Kids With Cannabinoid Oil Could Lose Them

In April, a committee at the Food and Drug Administration took the unprecedented step to recommend for approval Epidiolex, an epilepsy drug containing a plant-sourced cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD). In June, the FDA will vote on approving the drug, which has been shown in limited studies to be effective for those suffering from severe epilepsy.

Maria Selvas seven-year-old daughter, Aliana, has epilepsy and has found relief from seizures with CBD.

But treating her daughters seizures with CBD has put Selva at significant risk, and she has mixed feelings about the FDAs potential approval of Epidiolex. In October 2017, Child Protective Services charged Maria and her husband with severe medical neglect, and removed Aliana from her parents care.

Aliana Selva was six-years-old and on vacation with her family in Los Angeles when she had her first tonic-clonic seizure. She had experienced a few mild seizures as an infant, but the doctors assured Maria and her husband, Jo Selva, that these seizures were common and she would likely grow out of them. For nearly four years, the Selvas thought the doctors were right.

Then, on March 31, 2016, Aliana had two seizures.

The Selvas rushed Aliana to the emergency room, where she was examined and released. The doctor said the hospital would forward the exam notes to a neurologist in the Bay Area, where the Selvas lived. When they returned home, a neurologist called and said Aliana needed to be put on the anticonvulsant drug, Keppra.

I remember asking her, so, is there a diagnosis? Maria says. It just seemed so strange, we didnt even know what was wrong but we were already putting her on medication for it.

Within a few minutes of giving Aliana the first dose of the drug, Alianas personality transformed dramatically.

Alis normally a very sweet, gentle little girl, Maria says, After giving her that first dose of Keppra, she was super aggressive and irritable. She went from jumping on the bed, saying she wanted to have a dance party to sobbing and banging her head against the wall. She didnt care that she was hurting herself. It was completely outside her personality. It was insane. It wasnt Ali.

Keppra rage, Dr. Bonni Goldstein, former Chief Resident at Los Angeles Childrens Hospital, said immediately when she heard Alis story (Aliana goes by both her full name and the nickname). Goldstein hasnt treated the Selvas and wasnt previously familiar with their case, but she has dealt with her share of children with epilepsy, both on and off Keppra. She practiced pediatric emergency medicine for thirteen years before switching gears to focus on cannabinoid therapies. Goldstein has seen Keppra work well for many patients, and shes seen many others have precisely the reaction Maria described.

The possible behavioral side effects of Keppra in children are well documented, including hostility and aggression.

Maria took Ali off of the drug after a week. I was uncomfortable with the whole thing, Maria said. We didnt have a diagnosis, no one explained to me how this medication was supposed to work, how long she needed to be on it, anything. They hadnt even met the doctor who prescribed it.

Over the next year, Ali had a handful of absence seizures (characterized by brief lapses in attention, absence seizures usually last 1-2 minutes). A neurologist diagnosed Ali with epilepsythe first diagnosis shed receivedand ordered an MRI. The results were normal (Normal results for MRIs and/or EEGs are not uncommon in cases of epilepsy).

In May 2017, the Selvas moved to Southern California. That summer, there was a slight uptick in the frequency of Alis absence seizures. This development worried the Selvas, but Keppra seemed like an extreme response. Years earlier, they had heard about treating seizures with CBD oil, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis. But Maria said, as soon as I heard it had to do with marijuana, I brushed it off.

Now, however, desperate for alternatives to Keppra, they started looking into CBD. It had been covered in the national media in 2013 when Charlotte Figi, a six-year-old with a severe form of epilepsy, dramatically improved after using the oil. There was so much research about how CBD was non-psychoactive and helpful for kids like Ali, Maria said. And crucially, there were no significant side effects. A veterinarian friend told Jo about the success shed had treating epileptic animals with CBD oil. A health store near their home sold CBD oil, so they decided to give it a try. It wasnt FDA approved, they understood that. But it was better than their child banging her head against the wall in rage.

In July of 2017, Ali started a very low dose of CBD oil, administered orally. We were really cautious, Maria said. For the first few weeks, we only gave her two drops per day. We found out later that the dose was too low to have any impact, but we wanted to start slow.

At the end of the first week of school, Ali had a brief absence seizure in class. A few after, , Ali had a much more extreme (tonic-clonic) seizure. Maria brought Ali to the emergency room, where she seized a second time. She wet herself; she may have been biting her tongue, Maria recalls. It was awful.

Frightened by this sudden escalation, the Selvas reluctantly consented to a restarting a daily dose of Keppra IV to stop the seizing. At the same time, they also increased Alis dose of CBD.

Once again, the Keppra rage returned; Ali was, according to Maria, hyper, aggressive, clumsy. Within a week, the Selvas decided to stop administering Keppra. When the Selvas met with a neurologist the following week, they asked about alternatives to the medication; he refused to discuss alternative treatments with them. This [Keppra] is what she should take; if you don't like it and you want something natural, you need to go somewhere else, Maria later texted a friend.

Dr. Julie Griffith, a neurologist in San Rafael, California, isnt familiar with the Selvas case and therefore couldnt comment on it directly, but she stresses that if one medication doesnt work for a patient, a neurologist could suggest several other medications that might be better tolerated. According to the Selvas, no such offer was made.

Intent on finding someone who could talk to them about alternatives, the Selvas switched insurance companies. The Selvas also met with school administrators and agreed on a plan regarding Alis seizures: If she had one that lasted less than five minutes, the school would call her parents to come pick her up. If it lasted more than five minutes, theyd call the Selvas and an ambulance.

Two weeks later, the plan was enacted. Ali had an absence seizure in class and Jo came to pick his daughter up from school, telling staff they were using CBD oil and looking for a new neurologist after switching insurance plans.

Several days later, Maria received a call from Loretta Lopez of Child Protective Services.

CPS wanted to do a home inspection and assess the safety of Alis home environment. It didnt sit well with us, Maria says, but we also thought, lets invite them in and show them that we have nothing to hide.

During the inspection, the Selvas recounted Alis medical history and Lopez asked to see the medication Ali was taking. The Selvas produced both the Keppra and the CBD oil, and informed Lopez that they were only using the CBD oil. (The Daily Beast tried to contact Lopez for this story, but the County of Orange Social Services Agency declined on her behalf due to state confidentiality laws.)

Maria thought it went well. She [Lopez] seemed like she was on our side. She kept saying, I know theres a reason for everything youre doing, I just want to help you make that clear. She told us that shed get back to us Tuesday or Wednesday with a report. Maria signed a form saying CPS could access Alis medical files as well as a safety plan affirming that they would take Ali to the hospital if she had a seizure.

It was an unsettling experience, but the Selvas were more confused than scared. I figured she was just going to call Tuesday or Wednesday and say everything you said checks out, case closed.

Maria was wrong. The following Wednesday, Lopez called Maria saying they needed to have an urgent, in-person meeting. Maria was confused: In her mind, theyd done everything to be accomodating:Theyd given permission for CPS to view Alis medical records and to speak with her doctor; theyd allowed CPS into their home, shown them the kids living environment, and met both parents. How could Lopez still have concerns about her kids safety?

The Selvas agreed to meet, but said they wanted an attorney present. This, they were told, was against CPS policy. You can bring anyone you want, a senior social worker told the Selvas, just not an attorney.

The policy of prohibiting attorneys at team meetings is standard in California. Orange County Social Services wouldnt comment on any particular case but directed The Daily Beast to their policy regarding attorneys at team meetings here.

Without the protection of a lawyer, the Selvas felt like they needed more time to understand what they were potentially up against. Could they have the meeting over the weekend or the following Monday instead?

That wont work, Maria recalls the social worker saying, Were just going to go ahead and get Juvenile Dependency Court involved.

For what? Maria recalled asking. We dont even know what the results of your investigation are or what were being charged with.

The meeting was supposed to be when they found out all that information, the Selvas were told. But by refusing to meet that day without an attorney, the social worker told them, they were choosing not to participate and CPS had no other choice but to move forward with getting a warrant and Juvenile Court.

When the call ended, Jo and Maria immediately started contacting lawyers. We were so in the dark, Maria says. They said they were going to get a warrant, but for what?

In retrospect, Maria sees her confusion as naivete. In this perfect world you picture, you have to be a bad parent to get your child taken away.

The following evening, Maria and Jo Selvas child was taken away.

The knock came just after 8 PM on Saturday, October 28. Through the peephole, Maria saw three police officers outside her door. They said they were doing a welfare check.

Thats when Maria started streaming the incident on Facebook Live. In the video, Jo speaks to the police officers through the closed door. He asks what a welfare check entails, and asks if they have a warrant. The officer explains that they dont need a warrant for a welfare check. Jo says he and Maria will come outside to talk, but are going to close the door behind them. The police agree. The video is dark, but seconds after opening the door, Jo is handcuffed.

Once in handcuffs, the police tell Jo that they do have a warrant, one that allows them to take Ali into protective custody. The officers read the warrant to the handcuffed Jo and he pleads, shes going to freak out if she doesnt have us by her side. Shes epileptic and everytime she gets anxiety she has seizures.

The video is over an hour long and concludes with Maria asking Ali, who appears unperturbed and smiling, dressed in Strawberry Shortcake pajamas, what she wants to bring with her to go spend the night somewhere really nice.

Ali spent the next three nights at Orangewood Childrens Home in Orange County. Her parents were allowed one supervised 30 minute visit per day. On the second day, Ali started asking to go home. It had stopped being this adventure for her, Maria said. Her hair wasnt brushed and her breath was stinky. I wanted to ask if she was brushing her teeth and everything, but its hard.When you only have 30 minutes with your child, are you really going to talk about brushing teeth? She kept asking why she couldnt come home. I kept saying, Im sorry; Im working on it.

Epidiolex, the drug which is set for FDA approval, is a product of GW Pharmaceuticals. The FDA was impressed with positive results from three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. The drug will likely be approved for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two severe, rare forms of epilepsy. While Aliana's epilepsy is not severe enough to meet the expected criteria for the drug, the studies indicate the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in treating seizure disorders.

Allison Ray Benavides, a social worker in San Diego and mother of an epileptic child believes that CPS is targeting vulnerable families with these cases. She told The Daily Beast, in San Diego, theres a group of us moms who have kids with seizure disorders and use CBD oil. Theres only one mom in our group who has had a problem with CPS: the single mom whose husband is in prison. She believes the Selvas were vulnerable in a different way, you can draw a clear line from CPS to this young, hispanic family living in a very conservative county (Orange County). If they were white and living in Newport Beach, this never would have happened.

This rings true to Ursula Kilmer, of Redding, California. Shes been battling CPS for the same reason as the Selvas. Kilmers son has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (a severe form of epilepsy). When she was able to use CBD oil in lieu of other anticonvulsants, His seizures stopped completely. But CPS alleges medical neglect, and Kimler has been ordered to put her son back on drugs that do not prevent his seizures and, she believes, makes them worse.

Kimler has spent the last nine months trying to appease CPS and have the courts condone her use of CBD oil. Im exhausted, she says, I just want to be able to give my kid the stuff that helps him.

On November 1, three days after she was taken, the Selvas were granted temporary custody of their daughter and saw, for the first time, what the official charges against them were: Severe medical neglect.

Griffith is among the neurologists who think CBD is promising for many cases, but has concerns about the unregulated market and quality control. She also believes more research needs to be done on the effect of CBD on developing brains. That said, when presented with a hypothetical situation in which a parent is treating their childs seizures with CBD oil, Griffith said, If theyre trying to treat the seizures, that certainly doesnt sound like neglect.

On December 5, 2017, the Selvas case was dismissed by Juvenile Dependency Court.

To this day, the Selvas dont know for sure who reported them to CPS. Goldstein understands the confusion that mandated reporters like school nurses and social workers have about cannabinoid therapies. Its one of the reasons shes started an educational program for people who are in a position to intervene.

Goldsteinwho stressed that she is a physician unassociated with the cannabis industry adamantly believes that [cannabis] must be treated the way youd treat any other prescription drug; if a family is being responsible and has medical supervision, and is using cannabis to treat a medical condition, you should not call Child Protective Services on them because that is absolutely not neglect.

As for Aliana, shes seeing a new neurologist who understands the efficacy of CBD for seizure disorders and is monitoring her closely. Emotionally, however, the trauma of the ordeal lingers. She gets scared at night now, something that never happened before.

Maria understands how she feels. I thought as a parent, I had rights, Maria said., Now theres this fear that CPS could just come through the door and take my kids away.

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Hippy dream now a billion-dollar industry with California set to legalise cannabis

The state that is the worlds sixth biggest economy will legalise cannabis on New Years Day and expects a boom time for jobs and investment

While Arctic conditions gripped Americas north-east, balmy sunshine bathed Los Angeles last week but that was not the only reason denizens of the Venice boardwalk were feeling mellow. An astringent, earthy aroma infused the Pacific zephyrs wafting through the buskers, joggers, skateboarders, tourists and panhandlers.

Weed is part of the culture here, said Oni Farley, 30, perched on a sandy mound, watching life go by. Its part of the LA/California scene, the laid-back vibe. He ignored a police patrol car that inched through the throng. Ive blazed in front of cops and they dont say anything. To be honest, most of the time Im so high I dont notice them.

Pot wasnt hiding. In multiple different ways it was on display.

Addicted to weed, anything green helps, said a scrawled sign tilted against the backpack of Alexander Harth, 36, a dusty member of the boardwalks homeless population.

On the pavement, Marc Patsiner hawked wooden ornaments etched with Californian symbols: sunglasses, palm trees and marijuana leaves. Its pretty bohemian out here. People associate us with the leaf.

A vape shop offered glass pipes and other pot paraphernalia. T-shirt stores peddled images of Barack Obama smoking a joint alongside other herb-themed garments saying best buds and just hit it.

On Monday, California, the USs most populous state, and the worlds sixth biggest economy, will officially hit it by legalising cannabis.

Think Amsterdam, but sunnier and vaster a watershed event for the legalisation movement. Overnight a shadow industry worth billions of dollars annually will emerge into the light, taking its place alongside agriculture, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and other sectors that are regulated and taxed.

It will answer to the newly created Bureau of Cannabis Control bureaucratic confirmation that a day many activists did not dare dream of has indeed come to pass.

A product pilloried in the 1936 film Reefer Madness will become culturally normalised and economically integrated, said Philip Wolf, an entrepreneur who runs a cannabis wedding company and a firm that pairs pot with gourmet food. Its going to help destigmatise the plant. Theres going to be a lot of people making money and people will want to tax those dollars. This is going to spread. California is a trend-setting state.

California legalised pot for medicinal purposes in 1996, ushering in a web of dispensaries, spin-off businesses and creeping mainstream acceptance. That culminated in voters last year approving proposition 64, a ballot initiative which legalised pot sales for recreation. History will mark the date it came into effect: 1 January 2018.

It is expected to unleash profound changes across the state. The Salinas Valley, an agricultural zone south of San Francisco nicknamed Americas salad bowl, has already earned a new moniker: Americas cannabis bucket. Silicon Valley investors and other moneyed folk are hoping to mint fortunes by developing technology to cultivate, transport, store and sell weed. Entrepreneurs are devising pot-related products and services. Financiers are exploring ways to fold the revenue estimated at $7bn per annum by 2020 into corporate banking.

Customers at MedMen, a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. Use of the drug to ease pain and disease has already been decriminalised in California. Photograph: Richard Vogel/AP

California is not the trailblazer. Colorado grabbed that mantle in January 2014 when it became the first jurisdiction in the world beating Washington state and Uruguay by months to legalise recreational cannabis sales. California is one of 29 US states where pot is legal for medical or recreational use. With medical certificates you can criss-cross the country getting legally stoned.

But cultural, political and economic heft makes California a landmark in the global legalisation campaign. This is the state that incubated the political careers of Richard Nixon, who launched the war on drugs in 1971, and Ronald Reagan, who continued hardline prohibition policies under his wife Nancys slogan just say no.

Californias path to yes wound through Venice, a gritty beachside haven for beat poets, artists and musicians long before hippies wore flowers on their way to San Francisco. The Doors, among others, kept the counterculture torch lit in Venice: here they wrote Light My Fire, Moonlight Drive and Break on Through. A giant mural of a shirtless Jim Morrison still peers down from a wall. It was in Venice that generations of Angelenos and tourists toked illicit spliffs. They still do, though it is now a gentrifying tech enclave.

When California legalised pot for medicinal purposes many cities and neighbourhoods refused to issue licenses for pot dispensaries. In Venice they popped up like toast, as did clinics where for a fee ranging from around $20 to $40 doctors issued pot recommendation letters to ostensible patients. Some were genuine, with ailments and pain alleviated by the herb. Many just wanted to get high. Pretending you have an affliction just to smoke, thats ridiculous, said Farley, the boardwalk observer. Having served in the navy, he claimed to have post-traumatic stress disorder. I dont, but thats what I said.

The California Alternative Caregivers dispensary set up shop in 2005 on Lincoln Boulevard, on the second floor of a maze of little shops and offices. It was by design, upstairs, all the way to the back. We didnt advertise, said the manager, Jim Harrison, 46. Pot, medicinal or not, still needed to be discreet. If asked about his profession Harrison would say he was a healthcare professional.

The sky failed to fall in on Venice, or other areas with dispensaries, and little by little pot became more mainstream, even respectable. Harrison, who wears a white coat and calls his patrons patients, is proud that his dispensarys protocols, such as sealing and labelling bags and containers, have been replicated in the new state regulations for recreational pot.

Full legalisation feels historic, he said. Its pretty amazing. The cats out of the bag. His dispensary will create a new space for recreation customers and keep a separate room for patients. Tax on medicinal pot is lower so dispensaries expect that market segment to dwindle but not disappear.

The new era may begin with a whimper. State authorities have given counties and cities authority and responsibility to govern the new industry. The result is a patchwork. Some places, such as Kern county, are still banning all commercial pot activity. LA and San Francisco only recently approved local regulations so it could be weeks or months before newly licensed pot shops start sprouting. Oakland, Santa Cruz and San Diego have licensed operators ready to open on Monday.

Golden State Greens budtender Olivia Vugrin (right), serves a customer in San Diego, California. Dozens of shops in the state will be selling marijuana for recreational use from tomorrow. Photograph: Elliot Spagat/AP

Donald Trumps administration casts a shadow because pot remains illegal under federal law. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has compared the herb to heroin and threatened a crackdown. Fearful of federal prosecution, banks are shunning pot businesses, leaving the industry stuck with mounds of cash which must be transported under armed guard.

Venices bohemians helped pave the way to Californias big experiment but it is another California, that of boardrooms and city halls, which stands to gain.

Based on Colorados experience politicians across the Golden State are expecting tax windfalls. Labour unions are hoping to recruit tens of thousands of workers to cultivate and sell pot.

Wealthy investors are snapping up land in Salinas and other cultivation areas with a view to mass production. Others are forming pot-focused business accelerators and management firms. Start-ups are devising new apps, products and services.

Corporate expansion felt a world away from the patch of sand that Harth, the Venice panhandler, called home. Despite the sunshine drawing big crowds to the boardwalk he stuffed his sign Addicted to weed, anything green helps into his backpack. The dollars werent coming.

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Colorado sold a whole bunch of weed this year

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Colorado’s cannabis enthusiasts are celebrating after a milestone was announced on Monday.

In the first 10 months of 2016, the state sold more than $1 billion of recreational and medical cannabis and cannabis-related products, according to data released by the state’s Department of Revenue. That is a monstrous amount of weed.

The record number is up from 2015’s total annual marijuana revenue of $996 million.

Industry attorney Vincente Sederberg told the Cannabistthat he believes sales will cross $1.3 billion in 2016.

“We think well see $1.3 billion in sales revenue this year and so the economic impact of this industry if were using the same multiplier from the Marijuana Policy Groups recent report, which is totally reasonable it suddenly eclipses a $3 billion economic impact for 2016.

While Colorado was the first state to legalize cannabis, it may soon lose its top spot in terms of revenue. California recently legalized marijuana for recreational use and is expected to make major profits once it sets up its retail shops. Florida also legalized cannabis for medical use and, according to Forbes, it’s projected to rake in $1.6 billion by 2020, thanks to its large population of seniors with chronic pain and illness.

Welcome to the United States of Weed, our new cash crop.

BONUS: Trump is president, but at least you can get high in four more states

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Coco Cocoming To Netflix! See Everything Coming & Going In May!

Netflix giveth and Netflix taketh away…

Starting May 29, you’ll be able to watch the wonderful Oscars winning Disney/Pixar Coco and sob your eyes out from the comfort of your couch!

The month also brings classics like Mamma Mia!, Sliding Doors, and Amelie — and the chance to revisit Stormy Daniels‘ performance in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Photos: Finding Nemo In Coco — And 60 Other AMAZING Disney/Pixar Easter Eggs!

Sadly, that also means many films are leaving, including Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Jungle Book, and all of Phineas And Ferb.

See everything coco-ming and going in May (below)!

Coming May 1

27: Gone Too Soon
A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana
Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures: Season 1
Beautiful Girls
God’s Own Country
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
High School Musical 3: Senior Year
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous Live at Radio City (NETFLIX ORIGINAL) – A new stand-up special from John Mulaney.
Mr. Woodcock
My Perfect Romance
Pocoyo & Cars
Pocoyo & The Space Circus
Queens of Comedy: Season 1
Reasonable Doubt
Red Dragon
Scream 2
Simon: Season 1
Sliding Doors
Sometimes — NETFLIX FILM
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Carter Effect
The Clapper
The Reaping
The Strange Name Movie
Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V: Season 2

Coming May 2


Coming May 4

A Little Help with Carol Burnett — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Busted!: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Dear White People: Volume 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Forgive Us Our Debts — NETFLIX FILM
Kong: King of the Apes: Season 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Lo más sencillo es complicarlo todo
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Tina Fey — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
No Estoy Loca
The Rain: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 5

Faces Places

Coming May 6

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale (Streaming every Sunday – Season 1 Finale on May 13) — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 8

Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 9

Dirty Girl

Coming May 11

Bill Nye Saves the World: Season 3 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Evil Genius: the True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Spirit Riding Free: Season 5 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Kissing Booth — NETFLIX FILM
The Who Was? Show: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 13

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 14

The Phantom of the Opera

Coming May 15

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce: Season 4
Grand Designs: Seasons 13 – 14
Only God Forgives
The Game 365: Seasons 15 – 16

Coming May 16

Mamma Mia!
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The Kingdom

Coming May 18

Catching Feelings — NETFLIX FILM
Inspector Gadget: Season 4 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 19

Bridge to Terabithia
Disney’s Scandal: Season 7
Small Town Crime

Coming May 20

Some Kind of Beautiful

Coming May 21

Señora Acero: Season 4

Coming May 22

Mob Psycho 100: Season 1 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Shooter: Season 2
Terrace House: Opening New Doors: Part 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Tig Notaro Happy To Be Here — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 23


Coming May 24

Fauda: Season 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Survivors Guide to Prison

Coming May 25

Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
The Toys That Made Us: Season 2 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Trollhunters: Part 3 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 26

Sara’s Notebook — NETFLIX FILM

Coming May 27

The Break with Michelle Wolf — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 29

Disney·Pixar’s Coco

Coming May 30

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 4 — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Coming May 31

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Howard Stern — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Also In May

Arrow: Season 6
Dynasty: Season 1
Riverdale: Season 2
Supernatural: Season 1
The Flash: Season 4

And leaving…

Leaving May 1

Bridget Jones’s Diary
Charlotte’s Web
Field of Dreams
Ocean’s Eleven
Silent Hill
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Hurt Locker
To Rome With Love
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

Leaving May 2

12 Dates of Christmas
Beauty & the Briefcase
Cadet Kelly
Camp Rock
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
Cow Belles
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls 2
Disney’s The Cheetah Girls: One World
Geek Charming
Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas
Hello Sister, Goodbye Life
High School Musical
High School Musical 2
Jump In!
Lemonade Mouth
Little Einsteins: Seasons 1 – 2
My Fake Fiancé
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension
Phineas and Ferb: Seasons 1 – 4
Princess Protection Program
Princess: A Modern Fairytale
Read It and Weep
Revenge of the Bridesmaids
Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure
Special Agent Oso: Seasons 1 – 2
Teen Spirit
The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Seasons 1 – 5
Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior
Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie

Leaving May 7

The Host

Leaving May 12

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Leaving May 30

Disney’s The Jungle Book

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Why federal cannabis crackdown may be a blessing in disguise for legal weed

Dont panic, legalization advocates say: Jeff Sessions anti-marijuana policy will have little practical impact and may even hasten the formal end of prohibition

Now that the dust has settled around attorney general Jeff Sessions promise of harsher federal marijuana enforcement, advocates of legalization have largely exchanged their initial disappointment over the move for one of long-term optimism.

I think there was a knee-jerk reaction of something approaching panic, but once everyone calmed down, theyve come to realize that practically this is going to have little impact, said Patrick Moen, a former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent who now works as council to an investment firm in the nascent legal marijuana industry.

Some, like Moen, even believe the decision could be the best thing for the growing marijuana movement, hastening the formal end of weed prohibition in the US.

There will probably a short term chilling effect, but this could ultimately be the best thing thats ever happened to accelerate the pace of change, Moen said.

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California’s marijuana muddle video explainer

The markets have reflected this somewhat counterintuitive sentiment. The United States Marijuana Index, which tracks 15 leading publicly traded legal marijuana-related companies, initially dropped 21% on the heels of the Department of Justice (DoJ) announcement, but it turned out to be a blip. By early this week the index had rebounded to within a few points of its one-year high.

Sessions announcement formally rescinded guidance, known as the Cole Memo, issued by the Obama-era DoJ that essentially told federal prosecutors to respect state laws with regards to marijuana. Importantly, though, Sessions decision did not direct or incentivize US attorneys to pursue marijuana cases, it just allowed them to if they so choose.

The Cole Memo guidance was eminently reasonable and was a common sense good policy, Moen said. I think that despite the fact that its been formally rescinded, federal prosecutors will effectively continue to abide by it.

Donald Trump with attorney general Jeff Sessions. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

One of the primary reasons concern has been tempered is that Sessions announcement is not actually likely to ensnare individual marijuana users into the criminal justice system.

Federal prosecutors almost never pursue simple possession charges against recreational users, whether in states where it is legal or not.

According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, 99% of those serving federal sentences for marijuana-related crimes were convicted of trafficking offenses, which typically relate to quantities far in excess of what individual recreational users would have.

It is unlikely that this will affect them in any tangible negative way, other than depriving of the ability to buy marijuana legally, said Justin Strekal, Political Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml).

The Sessions memo is unlikely to trigger a nationwide dragnet of marijuana users, and is also unlikely to cause wide-scale disruptions to legal cultivators, Moen notes.

If federal prosecutors decide to go rogue and start charging otherwise compliant state businesses, theres going to be repercussions with regard to their relationships with the local [law enforcement], Moen said.

Strekal notes, however, that because of civil-forfeiture laws, local law enforcement would have one very good reason to work with federal agents seeking to enforce marijuana laws on legal weed businesses. Although local law enforcement cant bust those businesses on their own they arent breaking any state or local laws by joining with feds to enforce federal law, they get to claim a portion of any assets seized in a potential drug raid.

The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance protests the Jeff Sessions decision to rescind the Obama-era policy. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

In an area where you have a prohibitionist minded sheriff or a law enforcement agency, they will look at state-lawful marijuana facilities and see a big pile of money, Strekal said.

The 4 January move by Sessions was sandwiched by two major wins for legalization advocates. On the first of the month, recreational weed became legal in California, after more than a decade of a quite lax medical marijuana program. Then on 10 January, Vermont became the first US state to legalize the substance with an act of legislation, rather than a popular referendum, as has been the case in states like California, Colorado and Oregon.

The decision may ultimately precipitate another win, as Moen observed. Within hours of Sessions announcement, a bipartisan group of legislators had come out against the decision and some, including Hawaii senator Brian Schatz, announced that legislation was already being crafted that could overrule Sessions, by changing the extent to which Marijuana is classified as illegal at the federal level.

Its great that weve had a number of members of Congress over the course of the last six days last week step up and say what the attorney general did is wrong. Now time for every single one of those members of Congress to put their names on the pending legislation, Strekal said.

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This Little Canadian Town Has Become the Nations Pot Capital

All it took was a little marijuana to lift this Canadian town’s spirits.

Smiths Falls, Ontario — population 8,885 — is seeing a revival of fortunes since medical marijuana producer Tweed Inc. set up shop four years ago in an abandoned Hershey Co. chocolate factory. The company, since renamed Canopy Growth Corp., has become the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis producer and is the town’s largest private-sector employer.

“We’re recognized as the pot capital of Canada — and we’re proud of that,” Mayor Shawn Pankow said in an interview from the town hall, a two-story brick building erected in 1859 on the main street. “The local economy is certainly far better today than it was before Tweed came to town.”

Smiths Falls is on the rebound, with more younger people relocating to this town 75 kilometers (47 miles) southwest of the capital in Ottawa. There’s renewed interest in commercial property, new businesses are arriving and there’s even the odd bidding war on homes.

“We’re seeing positive impacts really across the economy,” said Pankow, 52, who also runs a financial advisory firm. “People are recognizing that Smiths Falls is a community that’s on the upswing.”

Canopy has since become one of the darlings of the Canada’s benchmark stock exchange. It’s the S&P/TSX Composite Index’s best performer in 2017 with returns of more than 250 percent as of Friday at noon in Toronto, and is up 40 percent in the past week alone with pot stocks surging ahead of legalization both in Canada and in California.

Town Welcome

Tweed took over a former Hershey factory with ambitious plans to grow medical marijuana. Today, the firm has 360 employees — a well-educated workforce that runs the administration, research, growing operations, packaging and shipping from the facility that still has signage and other remnants of its chocolate past. Construction crews hammer away on the next expansion. The parking lot is packed.

“Smiths Falls welcomed us and we appreciated that,” said Chief Executive Officer Bruce Linton, who says he’s tapping local labor, suppliers and businesses as much as possible as the business gears up for the legalization of marijuana in Canada next summer. “The effect is the town becomes more desirable, and as it becomes more desirable my ability to recruit people who are senior or worldly increases.”

It’s a stark contrast from a decade ago, when Smiths Falls faced an industry exodus with the shutdown of a Stanley Tools Manufacturing facility and a shuttering of the Hershey plant. That followed months later by the closure of the Rideau Regional Centre for the developmentally disabled. The closures affected more than 1,500 people — one-fifth the population.

Smiths Falls has faced ebbs and flows of industry throughout its history, stemming back about 190 years when crews came to build the Rideau Canal connecting Ottawa with Kingston. Decades later, the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived to provide a rail connection to the outside world, helping support commerce.

Reinvents Itself

“It’s a town that constantly reinvents itself,” said Leisa Purdonbell, 33, who oversees the historical collections in the basement of an 1860s-era house that doubles as a museum. “Businesses have come and gone.”

Frost & Wood Co., which began making farming equipment in 1846, evolved into a munitions factory during the Second World War that once employed 1,200 people before it closed in 1955. Coca-Cola Co. bottler Rideau Beverages was around until the 1970s.

RCA Victor, which came to town in 1954, helped introduce The Beatles to North America: the band’s vinyl single “Love Me Do” was pressed at the plant in 1963. RCA Victor, which employed 350 people at its height, left in 1978.

Hershey came in 1963 and within 25 years had 750 workers and a bustling plant that drew thousands of visitors. At one point, the town’s water tower boasted an image of a Hershey bar and the slogan “Chocolate Capital of Ontario.”

Low Point

“When we received notification of Hershey’s leaving and pulling out, and then Rideau Regional quickly after that, we kind of hit that low point,” Purdonbell said. “Thankfully, at the moment, it seems that everybody’s changed their way of thinking into something more positive, and I think businesses see that as they’re coming into the community.”

Four Degrees Brewing Co. recently opened. European canal boat operator Le Boat has occupied an 1840s-era Lockmaster’s House on the waterway that bisects town. It’s ramping up plans to bring 16 rental boats next summer for tourists to cruise the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Linton, whose company has soared to a market value of more than C$4 billion ($3.1 billion), sees room to further improve Smiths Falls. He wants to expand a retail area at his plant to draw visitors — akin to days when busloads of tourists toured Hershey’s and bought broken chocolate bars on the cheap. Beyond that, he’d like to see more restaurants, meeting places and a hotel to make it a destination spot.

Hotel Needed

“What the town lacks is a really great place for people to actually stay,” Linton said.

Aside from the hubbub over weed, Smiths Falls has another claim to fame: It’s the hometown of Brooke Henderson, the 20-year-old golfer who ranks sixth in earnings this year on the Ladies Professional Golf Association circuit. 

“We’ve been to Ireland and people there are not familiar with Canopy Growth Corp. or Tweed, but they know who Brooke Henderson is,” Pankow said. “Brooke has been really the face of the community over the last few years, and I would say she still probably carries a bigger presence.”

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    Cynthia Nixon adds $4.20 donation button to her website because weed, dude

    Justice, liberty, and spliffs for all!
    Image: timothy a. clary/AFP/Getty Images

    There is nothing Twitter progressives love more than  a quality pro-weed troll coming from an older politician.

    Take New York Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who recently added a $4.20 donation button to her website to express her support for legalized marijuana. Her opponent, Governor Cuomo, has taken the avoidant “let’s do more research” approach.

    “We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” Nixon says in the video. “Eighty percent of the New Yorkers who are arrested for marijuana are black or Latino, despite the fact that whites and people of color use marijuana at roughly the same rates.”

    In 2014, Governor Cuomo legalized medical marijuana in New York with extreme restrictions. When it comes to recreational marijuana, however, Cuomo calls it a gateway drug. He has proposed decriminalizing small amounts of the drug which… *elongated sigh.*

    In March, Nixon first declared her support for legalization, arguing that doing so would raise millions in tax revenue and help the struggling agriculture industry.

    According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, as does 100 percent of people who live in the apartment below me — my dudes, get another hobby.

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    Cannabis tourism in California a womens wellness retreat with puff love

    At the Ganja Goddess Getaway, yes, there are yoga classes and spiritual talks but the mother lode comes from the spliffs, edibles and pot-infused mocktails that aid the healing

    Wearing a T-shirt with the slogan Mary Jane Smokewear, a woman with long, grey pigtails crawled towards me, offering a hit off a balloon bag inflated with marijuana vapours. I was sitting cross-legged under a Ganja Goddess Getaway-branded gazebo on a perfect California afternoon and it was the umpteenth time that day that a stranger had come over, unprompted, to share their weed.

    The bag was just one way my fellow ganja goddesses were getting high. Plates piled with spliffs, giant blunts, laced caramel-pecan candies and fruity mocktails enhanced with pot-infused tinctures also made the rounds. At one point, I was handed a wizard pipe packed with a tiramisu. Where a domestic goddess might use cream and ladyfingers, a ganja goddess gets baking with alternating layers of green and hash.

    This is a canna-holiday, California-style. After new laws permitting recreational marijuana use came into effect in the state on 1 January, canna-visionaries wasted little time integrating their product into the regions aspirational aesthetic. You can tour the sun-grown, craft cannabis fields of the norths Humboldt County while in Los Angeles marijuana chef Chris Sayegh plans to open the citys first high cuisine cannabis restaurant (working name: Herb).

    Mama Sailene Ossman, one of the getaways co-founders serves a weed-laced sweet treat.

    The women-only Ganja Goddess Getaway bills itself as a wellness retreat with a (herbal) difference. The retreat itself is in the woods near the coast at Pescadero, about an hours drive south of San Francisco. At the end of a long dirt track, in a meadow surrounded by redwoods, I found about 135 goddesses engaged in a ritual of puff and pass. Twentysomething girls sporting cannabis-leaf-motif leggings shared bongs with middle-aged women dressed in loungewear. Others passed spliffs around the hot tub, lined up for henna tattoos, or got cannabis oil massages. Two friends who had followed the pungent aromas all the way from Chile snored peacefully through a Laughter Yoga class.

    The getaways five co-founders are a diverse mix: CEO Deidra Bagdasarian is also the entrepreneur behind award-winning cannabis confection company Bliss Edibles, while event co-ordinator Trish Demesmin was an administrator at Oaklands cannabis business college, Oaksterdam, and is now president of a medical cannabis delivery company. Mama Sailene Ossman is the companys head of public relations and attributes her nickname to being famous for bringing the food and the weed, while married couple Kelli Valentine and Ciera Lagges complete the quintet, the former as in-house filmmaker, the latter as chief creative officer. Together, they all preach cannabis as a meditative and spiritual plant.

    Bagdasarians vision for the getaway has changed since it launched in 2016 (when only women with a medical marijuana card could attend).

    In the beginning, I just wanted it to be a good vacation, like a stoner-girl slumber party, she told me. Soon, however, she noticed the women were undergoing transformational experiences, So I wanted to foster a space where women can use cannabis as a tool for self-improvement.

    Deidra Bagdasarian, co-founder and CEO of Ganja Goddess Getaway

    This makes the retreat less a group slump in front of Netflix and more a series of wellness seminars wherein the crowd passes weed around while listening to talks with topics such as Give Plants A Chance. During this, Bagdasarian recounted the inability of Prozac to assuage her depression. She railed against accepted norms of big pharma, sugar and a culture of chemicals. But cannabis, Bagdasarian said, was a healer. Everyone was paying attention until a butterfly flapped into the gazebo, drawing an en masse, distracted woooah.

    Its true the women I met here werent just in it for the giggles. They all talked about how cannabis had helped them with ailments and conditions, such as depression, anxiety and insomnia. Many had travelled solo, from non-legal states including Nebraska, New Jersey, Georgia and Florida and they formed fast bonds, sharing in-jokes over breakfast and doing morning meditation together.

    No ones judging, said a 35-year-old from Sacramento, when I asked what the appeal was. This is two days where I get to just be myself and focus on me. Like the majority of women I spoke to, she asked to remain anonymous, for fear of what her workplace, family and friends would think.

    Organisers must also be dextrous around legalities: they cant sell cannabis but they can give it away. Hence the getaways all-inclusive ticket, encompassing unlimited food and weed.

    A lot of Americans are in the cannabis closet, Bagdasarian said. But here, they can meet their tribe. And cannabis, she added, is a useful facilitator. It lets you take your mask off. Women like being vulnerable and connecting. We give them a safe space where they can do that.

    Safe, however, is a relative term given the United States tangled cannabis laws. In January, attorney general Jeff Sessions announced he was giving federal prosecutors carte blanche to go after cannabis growers, sellers and users who are violating the nations rule of law. The shock memo defied Obama-era policy to leave states that had legalised the drug alone. President Trump, however, recently promised to respect states rights on legal pot. More states are discussing going recreational this year, including Michigan, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

    Such ambiguity has stalled many California cities from writing rules that would grant cannabis tourism a green light. Its frustrating for Bagdasarian, who cites finding venues as her biggest challenge. Few places permit open consumption and cannabis businesses are blocked from promoting themselves on social media. Ticket seller Eventbrite recently cut ties with the getaway, citing federal law.

    For this reason, the getaway is limited to private retreat centres, where camping is the most practical accommodation. In Pescadero, attendees shared 12-person bell tents or brought their own; there were also more comfortable, though higher-priced options, of a shared yurt with wood-burner and cots and dorm-style rooms in the main lodge. Organisers must also be dextrous around legalities: they cant sell cannabis but they can give it away. Hence the getaways all-inclusive ticket, encompassing unlimited food and weed.

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    Jeff Sessions Will Lose the GOPs Battle Over Weed

    In the year-and-a-bit since Donald Trump took office, Americans have witnessed a neck-wrenching 180-degree turn on an array of policy topics. One of the biggest has been with regard to drugs.

    Between anti-marijuana moves by Trumps attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and apparent interest by the administration in making passing a drug test a condition for receiving food stamps in states that request it, Trump and key figures in his administration seem eager to jump back to a time in history when drug use that has become more or less accepted in society is again disqualifying and indeed criminal. And where Trump goes, the GOP often follows.

    But is the Trump administration truly set on achieving this? Those of us watching drug policy debates in the era of Trump are feeling a little (OK, a lot of) whiplash.

    The direction in which Sessions wants to take the country is clear. So too are Republicans views with regard to food stamps and drug testing.

    With Trump, things are a bit murkier. He generally cultivated an anti-drug message with his death penalty for heroin dealers chat. Hes pushed that message in other ways too, such as the little noticed controversy in February, when Israel put the brakes on a plan to export marijuana to the U.S., apparently because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didnt want to piss off Trump. Trump also claims never to have smoked pot, something that some pot advocates view as inherently likely to predispose him against cannabis.

    But during the campaign, Trump was pot-neutral. He exclaimed that he was for letting states decide their own pot and medical marijuana policies. And just weeks ago, he voiced support for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)s bill codifying states rights with regard to pot. Reportedly, his campaign manager is making that position a selling point to Colorado voters ahead of 2020.

    Outside of Trump, the GOP itself seems to be in the midst of an evolution on pot. Or, at least, a process of self-discovery. Gardner was so adamant that states rights on the matter be respected that he threatened to hold up any nominees to the Department of Justice until Sessions and Trump backed down. Weve also learned that John Boehner is joining the board of a cannabis companya pretty big turnaround for a former speaker of the House known more for his love of wine than weed.

    So what the heck is going on with the GOP and pot? The short answer is: a lot. But though much of it seems contradictory, there is still an obvious, ultimate direction. The GOP will, in the end, follow Gardner and Boehners path, even if that feels like an Olympic gymnast-level flip-flop for a lot of voters.

    It used to be that the only pro-decriminalization or pro-legalization Republicans were Libertarians who voted GOP because they wanted tax cuts and a tiny bit more fiscal restraint (with the exception, perhaps, of some prominent figures at National Review who always took a surprisingly pro-decriminalization line on marijuana).

    More recently, however, the pro-decriminalization ranks have been joined by the Koch brothers, especially Charles Koch, who champions criminal justice reform and sees issues like pot decriminalization and mandatory minimums reform as obviously related.

    There are also Republicans from states where marijuana laws have been liberalized, leading to a booming new sector of the economy.

    Gardner is one such figure. But more Gardners are on the way. While Sessions may believe the War on Drugs has failed because it has been prosecuted with insufficient zeal, youve got a whole raft of states represented by Republican officeholders who manifestly believe that the anti-pot aspect of it, at least, is stupid.

    Its certainly economically unhelpful. Nine states have fully legalized recreational pot (including Alaska, a deep red state, and Colorado, Nevada, and Mainepurplish ones with GOP elected officials). Twenty-nine states have legalized medical marijuana (including the magenta-ish states of North Dakota, Arkansas, Montana, and West Virginia, and swing state New Hampshire).

    Rank-and-file Republican voters are becoming much more opposed to the War on Weed too, according to an October 2017 Gallup poll. Maybe thats because veterans (who Republicans love to champion) claim marijuana helps them with physical and psychological battlefield injuries. Maybe its because of claims that legalization could help combat the opioid epidemic, which is ravaging Republican areas. Maybe its because Republicans are hearing from unlikely marijuana advocates like Michelle Malkin.

    Or maybe its because Republicans still tend to consider themselves pro-business, and the pot business is growingfast. According to a report last year from Arcview Market Research, across North America, legal pot sales in 2017 were on pace to hit $9.7 billion. Thats 33 percent growth against the previous yearevidence of a booming market. Many Republicans may oppose pot use personally. But basically all Republicans love making and keeping money.

    Whatever it is, the reality is this: The ranks of pro-legalization Republicans, like plants on weed farms, will continue to grow over time, while those sharing Sessions views will shrink and shrivel and decline. Thats a good thing, in terms of achieving limited government goals, and expanding personal libertysomething todays GOP could do with getting back to focusing on.

    The debate may seem muddied now. But its heading in a very clear direction.

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    Cynthia Nixon On Marijuana: It’s Effectively Legal For White People

    Cynthia Nixon’s campaign for governor continues with her latest video about why she supports legalizing the use of recreational marijuana in New York.

    “There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” said Nixon in a video posted on Twitter Wednesday.

    Nixon, who in March announced her run against incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo in the upcoming Democratic primary, notes in the video that 80 percent of New Yorkers arrested for marijuana are black or Latino.

    “The simple truth is, for white people, the use of marijuana has effectively been legal for a long time,” she says. “Isn’t it time we legalize it for everybody else?”

    While Nixon has spoken out about recreational legalization in New York before, this discussion on how it correlates to the issue of racial inequality is particularly refreshing and needed.

    The gubernatorial candidate and former actress goes on to say in her campaign video that white people and people of color use marijuana at roughly the same rates. Yet black people in New York are arrested or detained for marijuana 4.5 times more than white people, according to a report by the ACLU.

    “The consequences follow people for the rest of their lives, making it harder to get jobs or housing, and for noncitizens, putting them in the crosshairs of deportation,” she says.

    The 52-year-old also says that legalizing would “generate millions of dollars in tax revenue” and “create new agricultural opportunities for New York’s farmers.” 

    Currently, eight other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use. New York state does have a medical marijuana program, though it is extremely restrictive.

    TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images
    Cynthia Nixon speaks to people at the Bethesda Healing Center in Brooklyn, New York, on March 20, 2018.

    Current New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D) had previously called marijuana a “gateway drug” in 2017, though his stance has since shifted slightly. In January 2018. Cuomo proposed a study in his 2018 budget plan that explores the potential impacts of recreational marijuana use in New York State.

    Of the study, Cuomo said: “If it was legalized in Jersey and it was legal in Massachusetts and the federal government allowed it to go ahead, what would that do to New York, because it’s right in the middle? This is an important topic, it’s a hotly debated topic, pardon the pun, and it’d be nice to have the facts in the middle of the debate once in a while.”

    The study will now move forward after the state’s $168 million state budget was approved in March.

    Nixon is slated to challenge Cuomo in the Democratic primary on Sept. 13.

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