Why well-intentioned equity programs are failing. More banks, including an Alaska credit union, are serving cannabis businesses. A study found potential in cannabis for treating heart failure. Also: Michigan voters may have voted to legalize weed, but lawmakers are already trying to roll back the ballot initiative. 🌳
Why equity programs are failing. At least four cities in California have set up marijuana equity programs that are designed to help those disproportionately impacted by drug enforcement. But critics say that these programs are falling well short of their intended goals thanks to funding shortfalls, long waits, and limited oversight. “I don’t think we’ve passed the point where the social equity program can’t satisfy its intent… But (Los Angeles’ program) looks like it was set up to fail,” said the co-founder of the California Minority Alliance. Marijuana Business Daily The first equity applicant retailer in Oakland finally opened his dispensary: Blunts + Moore. Leafly A coalition of black leaders in New York is launching a campaign to advocate for a marijuana legalization law that includes: priority licenses for women and minorities, record expungement, and reinvesting marijuana money into communities that have been disproportionately harmed by drug enforcement. New York Daily News
More banks are getting into the cannabis industry. The number of U.S. banks willing to serve the marijuana industry has grown nearly 20 percent this year. While the number of banks and credit unions working with the industry has climbed to 486, most cannabis businesses still struggle to access financial services. Meanwhile, pressure is building on Congress to come up with a banking fix so that the industry isn’t so reliant on cash. Marijuana Moment Related: Credit Union 1 announced that it is launching a pilot program to serve the cannabis industry in Alaska. The state-chartered credit union hopes to help the safety issues that come with an industry that mostly runs on cash. “Imagine running your own life without having access to banking,” said its CEO. The Associated Press
Study finds potential in marijuana to reverse heart failure. New research out of the University of Hawaii found that cannabis holds potential in protecting and reversing damage to the heart caused by heart attacks, hypertension, and other illnesses. “Anecdotally, people who have heart attacks recover more quickly if they’re marijuana users… On the flip side, they have more severe heart attacks to start with,” explained an assistant professor in cell and molecular biology whose cardiovascular therapy company is working with a cannabis business to bring new drugs to the market. Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Lawmakers are trying to roll back Michigan’s legalization law. Michigan voters made their voices heard loud and clear on election day when 56 percent of them voted to approve a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. Now, Republicans are working to roll it back. The Republican Senate Majority Leader has introduced a bill to ban home grow, even though the voter-passed initiative allows individuals to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants for personal use. “For lawmakers to immediately go against the will of the people is undemocratic and it totally disregards the political process,” said the spokesperson for the legalization campaign. Luckily for the pro-cannabis camp, chances of passing such legislation in a lame-duck session are slim. Detroit Free Press
Missouri may cut benefits to medical marijuana patients. A law passed in 2011 developed a state program to screen welfare recipients for drug use. State officials are required to ask applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program about their drug use and may require them to take drug tests, too. Failing to do so could bar an applicant from receiving benefits for three years. Now, the Department of Social Services is weighing whether those rules would apply to state-legal medical marijuana patients after voters approved legalizing the drug earlier this month. The state’s Department of Corrections is also wrestling how to handle medical marijuana for its staff. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Focus on immigration leads to less drug enforcement. Drug prosecutions for trafficking at the Southern U.S. border has dropped 24 percent over six months as the Trump administration directed more resources to focus on its immigration crackdown. “The drop in drug prosecutions was not because the flow of drugs slowed.” The New York Times Related: There were many who hoped that the trial of Joaquín Guzmán Loera would reveal the secrets of corruption at the highest levels of Mexico’s government thanks to bribes from drug cartels. But the judge in the case barred a star government witness from testifying about at least $6 million in bribes that went to a president of Mexico. “In the past week, the judge issued other rulings curtailing witness testimony also involving evidence of possible corruption.” The New York Times
Facebook shuts down new Massachusetts’ dispensary accounts. The new adult-use marijuana retailers in Massachusetts are learning a lesson in the cannabis industry: your Facebook and Instagram accounts could be arbitrarily shut down. Cultivate, one of the first two recreational dispensaries to open in the state, used Instagram as a way to communicate with customers for months while it operated as a medical marijuana dispensary. On the first day that it launched adult-use sales, the dispensary saw its account had disappeared. “Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers or street addresses,” said a spokeswoman for Instagram. boston.com
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… Turning Point Brands, a tobacco company based in Louisville, Ky. is getting into the CBD business with a minority stake in Canadian American Standard Hemp Inc. The hemp company produces various CBD products in Rhode Island. Louisville Business First Acreage Holdings reported $4 million in losses for the third quarter (compared to $728,000 in Q3 of last year) and $5.5 million in revenues (up from $2.1 million last year). MarketWatch How three entrepreneurs with no experience in cannabis ended up as licensed hemp farmers in New York. The entrepreneurs were still in college when they snagged a state license to cultivate hemp. They dropped out of school and moved away from the city to start their hemp farm. Circa
Cannabis on Canadian campuses. Marijuana has long show up at institutes of higher education packed into bongs in dorm rooms. Now, several academic institutions are growing weed legally for research purposes. “It’s an exciting time to be in the plant sciences because the cannabis industry’s funding a lot of research that most industries wouldn’t fund,” said an agriculture researcher who received a special cannabis license. “He plans to study the plant’s genetics, optimization of growing conditions and the creation of a gene bank to be used by both researchers and breeders.” Eight institutions of higher education have obtained licenses to cultivate and research the plant from federal regulators so far. CTV News
Elsewhere around the world… Three coalition parties announced that they would legalize recreational marijuana in Luxembourg. The government will set up a regulated market and only residents would be able to purchase the drug. It will also set new penalties for selling marijuana to minors and invest in addiction treatment. Luxembourg Times Authorities in Mexico have approved 38 cannabis-derived products for sale. The products all contain less than 1 percent THC and are produced by companies from Mexico, the U.S., and Spain. Marijuana Business Daily How South Korea‘s medical marijuana law is shaping up to favor Big Pharma as it warns its citizens that they could spent five years in prison for partaking in Canada’s legal weed market. Cannabis Now
Be Yourself. The introspective tendencies of Frank Ocean manage to capture a sentiment that’s familiar to us all – ambivalence and cognitive dissonance are sketched out in a remarkably whole and human portrait. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In California, a state senator will reintroduce a bill to eliminate taxes on free cannabis for low-income medical marijuana patients.
- In Alaska, the state warned consumers about unregulated CBD oil.
- In Iowa, the first medical marijuana dispensaries open on Saturday.
- In Massachusetts, regulators approved the first recreational retail license for a dispensary in Worcester.
- In Ohio, a look inside a medical marijuana facility as it prepares its first orders.
- In Virginia, regulators gave final approval to some CBD oil dispensaries.
- In North Carolina, a new bill would allow individuals to possess up to four ounces of marijuana.
- In New Mexico, farmers will be able to apply for industrial hemp licenses in December.
- In Idaho, a former federal prosecutor warns that the state is “definitely in danger” of legal marijuana.
- In New Jersey, students weigh in on marijuana legalization in an essay contest.
Word for Word
“Thanks to White House leadership and support from Republican and Democratic members of Congress and the large, passionate community of people working on criminal-justice reform, the bill made it past various interest groups without being sunk by controversial, niche policy additions. But now the politics-first, status quo crowd — including a loud minority in Congress — is trying to stop it with distortions and misinformation. Let me try to set a few things straight… This bill is the best chance I have seen in decades to help begin to fix the federal prison system in meaningful ways that will reduce crime, lower prison populations, decrease costs and cut the rate of recidivism.” – Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich for The Washington Post
“What customers want and what’s available on the market is only beginning to align. What’s been available, legally and illegally, has had very little to do with what effects and experiences consumers actually seek out, until now. Isolated consumption habits had to stay that way during decades of prohibition, resulting in a dearth of knowledge on why, how and what people consume when it comes to cannabis… The overemphasis on THC percentage is costing the cannabis market more than just women customers.” – Claire Kaufmann for LA Weekly