The Boston Globe investigates how large cannabis companies are skirting state rules to become ‘quiet titans’ of the industry. Experts weigh in on study linking cannabis use with psychosis. More than half of all Illinois House reps. have co-sponsored a marijuana legalization bill. Also: a 145-year-old tobacco company is getting into the CBD space. 🌳
Large cannabis companies are skirting state rules (and bragging about it). Massachusetts tried to do legalization right: lawmakers limited the number of licenses a single company could control and instituted the first state-wide equity program to help minority entrepreneurs into the industry. No firm is allowed to own more than three dispensary licenses. But large firms including Sea Hunter and Acreage seem to be skirting those rules by “using complex corporate structures to acquire or manage store licenses from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, commanding high-interest loans and strict management contracts as they become quiet titans of Massachusetts marijuana.” While the companies deny that they are bending the rules, a whole slew of evidence suggests otherwise. The Boston Globe
Parsing the connection between marijuana and psychosis. A recent study in The Lancet adds to the research that links heavy marijuana use with psychosis. But the study, and others like it, aren’t able to tell if “people who are more predisposed to symptoms of psychosis may be self-medicating with marijuana, rather than the other way around.” Meanwhile, the researchers also relied on cannabis consumers’ self-reports on what strains they smoked for researchers to guess THC content. Rolling Stone “Furthermore, the authors point out that many daily users did not develop a psychotic disorder; their findings on the percentage of psychosis cases that could be prevented is based on statistical analysis, but further work is necessary to identify the other relevant factors.” Quartz
A deep dive into all the cannabis legalization bills. A myriad of marijuana legalization bills have been introduced in Congress. While many in the industry think the STATES Act has the greatest chance at passing, advocates say the legislation is already looking dated. “As the legalization discussion has shifted from whether to how, Americans have been calling not only for an end to the criminal drug war, but also for proactive steps to repair its harms, forgive past criminal convictions, and build an equitable industry going forward. For more and more Americans, carving out exceptions to prohibition simply isn’t enough.” Leafly A variety of veterans’ organizations are pushing Congress for medical marijuana research. Marijuana Moment
NIDA head claims there’s no evidence that cannabis can help opioid addiction. An increasing number of states are considering medical cannabis as a means to help people reduce or stop using opioid painkillers. But “the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse said there’s no evidence that marijuana weans people from opioid addiction.” Nora Volkow expressed concern that people may opt for medical marijuana over medications like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. USA Today Early research on mice suggests that both CBD and THC could help relieve opioid withdrawal. Cannabis Now
The case for expungements. Researchers found that expungement reduces recidivism and increases wages and employment among those who have been formerly incarcerated. “The first major empirical study of expungement” found that — despite private databases and mugshot websites — expungement recipients benefited from Michigan’s expungement law. But researchers also found that very few people actually obtain expungements. “Even among those who do qualify, we found that only 6.5 percent received expungements within five years of becoming eligible.” Many people who qualify simply don’t have the resources to hire lawyers to navigate the process or pay the various court fees. The New York Times
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The studies say… A new study in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management found that the passage of medical marijuana laws was associated with a decrease in pain and increase in the number of hours worked by older adults. MarketWatch A new study in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that marijuana users are less likely to be obese compared to non-users. Marijuana Moment A federal health agency says it’s committed to funding marijuana research, but blames prohibition for the slow pace of research. Marijuana Moment
Today in cannabis business news… MedMen is suing Miami Beach over its restrictions on how close medical marijuana dispensaries can be to each other. Miami Herald Minneapolis-based cannabis company Vireo Health raised $51 million when it debuted on the Canadian Securities Exchange on Wednesday. Star Tribune A 145-year-old tobacco company from North Carolina is getting into the CBD industry by partnering with a CBD extraction company. Herald Sun Why legal marijuana is bad news for alcohol stocks. Barron’s
Cannabis in Canada. A look at Canada’s cannabis legalization law offers lessons to the U.S. on what works and what doesn’t. Stat British Columbia approved its first recreational dispensary in Victoria. CTV News London, Ontario’s first dispensary is slated to open April 1. CBC News
Elsewhere around the world… The National Farmers Council is pushing a Thai political party to push for liberalizing marijuana cultivation and allowing cannabis research. Bangkok Post A coalition of activists is working on a bill aimed at legalizing marijuana in Tunisia. The proposal would put the state in charge of marijuana production. Al-Monitor An official of Gambia spoke against cannabis decriminalization during a UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs session in Vienna, Austria. The Point A Guernsey lawmaker said it was time to consider medical cannabis production on the island. Guernsey Press
Fine jewelers go for marijuana motifs. A $320,000 necklace of “gold cannabis leaves encrusted with diamonds and rubies.” A $48,000 “vape holder-slash-pendant… capped by a 10.03-carat bullet-shaped cabochon of — wait for it — smoky topaz.” A “a very elegant diamond-encrusted roach clip.” As societal attitudes on cannabis change, cannabis symbols have become a trend in the world of luxury jewelry. The New York Times
Word on the States
- In Illinois, 60 of 118 House reps. have signed on as co-sponsors to a marijuana legalization bill. A new bill would expand the medical marijuana program.
- In Maine, the state hired its deputy state health commissioner to run its recreational marijuana program.
- In California, cannabis companies are struggling to make sense of the new track-and-trace system.
- In Michigan, medical marijuana regulators are inundated with applications from businesses facing a March 31 deadline. About 50 unlicensed dispensaries are facing closure.
- In Florida, a dispensary in Tallahassee sold the first smokable medical cannabis in the state. The Florida State Boxing Commission will relax its cannabis consumption rules.
- In Massachusetts, a Malden smoke shop is being investigated for gifting marijuana.
- In Ohio, state regulators licensed three more medical marijuana dispensaries.
- In Connecticut, legislative committees will hold public hearings on a marijuana legalization bill today. The medical marijuana market is expanding fast. A look at the legalization proposals in the legislature.
- In New Jersey, a police chief says the marijuana legalization bill will lead to a spike in municipal taxes.
- In Nebraska, a look at two bills aimed at lowering drug penalties.
- In North Dakota, the Senate will vote on four medical marijuana bills in the coming days.
- In Wisconsin, a look at cannabis ballot questions facing voters in two counties.
- In Alabama, a state rep. introduced a medical marijuana legalization bill.
- In New York, marijuana legalization looks unlikely for the budget. But the governor is hopeful that a standalone bill could be passed before June.
- In Guam, senators start debating the marijuana legalization bill.
Word for Word
“As a teenager on Long Island in the late 1960s, he smoked recreationally. As a 67-year-old paraplegic living in the woods of Waterford, he now smokes for medicinal purposes… A longtime advocate for legalization, he has testified seven times in front of the Connecticut legislature. One of his favorite go-to statements from those sessions: ‘As a paraplegic, my use is medicinal for below the waist and recreational for above.'” – Mike Wollschlager for Connecticut Magazine
“It is time for the world to change its approach. The use of psychoactive substances is a risky behavior, and managing such risks is a key function of government. That is why the Global Commission on Drug Policy… recommends that governments legalize and regulate all currently illegal drugs. ‘Legalization’ is often portrayed inaccurately as an intervention by the state to promote drug use. But what it really means is that authorities acting in the public interest provide a legal framework for the production, distribution, and sale of drugs for adult consumption, with appropriate consideration given to the harms associated with each particular substance.” – Former president of Colombia Juan Manuel Santo, former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo and former president of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss for Project Syndicate