POT TOPICS: Madigan won’t commit to legalizing cannabis, weed jobs set to triple

SHARE POT TOPICS: Madigan won’t commit to legalizing cannabis, weed jobs set to triple

House Speaker Mike Madigan listens to a reporter’s question at a news conference in Springfield last year. File Photo.

POT TOPICS is a weekly collection of cannabis-related news curated by the Chicago Sun-Times. Here’s this week’s top stories:

Madigan still deciding whether to hit or pass on legal pot legislation

House Speaker Mike Madigan has backed Democrat J.B. Pritzker’s bid for governor, but he won’t get behind the candidate’s proposal to legalize cannabis just yet. Nevertheless, Madigan noted Monday that he expects a “very strong effort” to get cannabis legalized in the legislature.

Weed workforce set to triple in next decade

The number of people employed in the cannabis industry is set to jump to 630,000 by 2025, according to a recent estimate. The jobs numbers could see further growth after President Donald Trump assured Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, of Colorado, the federal government would respect the state’s marijuana laws, easing fears of a crackdown.

AP file photo

AP file photo

Remaining staff at The Denver Post’s pot-centric website steps down amid layoffs

The editorial staff at The Denver Post’s marijuana vertical, The Cannabist, stepped down amid a stream of layoffs at the paper. Lindsey Bartlett, a former reporter for The Cannabist, told the Chicago Sun-Times Friday that she and the publication’s other two remaining staffers jumped ship when the newspaper announced it would lay off 30 newsroom employees at the start of March. They did so to allow other staffers at the paper to keep their jobs.

Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that owns The Denver Post, has made substantial cuts to the paper’s newsroom since taking control in 2010. Since December, the company has laid off 37 percent of the newsroom staff, including two full-time staffers from The Cannabist and two freelancers.

“[The Cannabist] is just such a viable thing with so much potential that’s rotting on the vine,” according to Bartlett, who has taken a job with Marijuana Business Daily, a cannabis trade publication.

Bartlett and the website’s editor, Alex Pasquariello, left the paper this week. The sole remaining staffer from The Cannabist, Alicia Wallace, will continue covering marijuana policy and business for the website until late June.

The Denver Post and Alden Global Capital didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tax windfall from legal cannabis helping to schools, mental health services

States with legal cannabis laws have collected $1.6 billion in new sin taxes since 2014, with the windfall in cash paying for public schools, mental health services and programs to deter convicts from committing new offenses.

Gupta urges Sessions to reconsider his position on medical cannabis

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who serves as CNN’s medical correspondent, recently penned a letter urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reconsider his opposition to medical cannabis, namely as a way to battle opioid abuse. Gupta made the appeal to Sessions after the Republican declined to be interviewed for a CNN special that airs at 9 p.m., April 29.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta | AP file photo/Diane Bondareff

Dr. Sanjay Gupta | AP file photo/Diane Bondareff

Synthetic cannabinoids linked to 4th death in Illinois.

Public health officials reported Tuesday that a fourth death has been linked to the use of “fake weed” in Illinois. More than 150 people in 13 counties across the state have been sickened by synthetic cannabinoids laced with Brodifacoum, a lethal anticoagulant often used in rat poison that causes severe bleeding, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

AP file photo

AP file photo

State receives donation to help with “fake weed” outbreak

The announcement of the latest death linked to synthetic cannabinoids comes a day after the IDPH announced it had received 800,000 tablets of Vitamin K from the Bausch Foundation and Valeant Pharmaceuticals that will be provided free of charge to every person who has experienced severe bleeding after using the drug. High doses of vitamin K, up to 30 tablets a day for up to six months, can help restore the blood’s ability to clot.

Upcoming cannabis events in the Chicago area:

• Domestic and sexual abuse support group discusses benefits of using cannabis and provides information on how to obtain a medical cannabis card during a meeting at 1 p.m., April 28, at MedMar Lakeview, 3812 N. Clark St.

• Cannabis enthusiasts can learn how to make pot-infused butter, oils, lotions and edibles during a class at 2 p.m., April 29, at Cannabis Community Outreach, 3N 711 Rohlwing Road in Addison.

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