The effort to create a more diverse cannabis industry is complicated by who’s willing to fund small businesses. The STATES Act raises questions about tribal sovereignty. A tiny town in Colorado is reckoning with an influx of marijuana money. Also: How lawmakers’ opposition to marijuana reform backfires in conservative states. 🌳
Massachusetts wrestles with equity. The Bay State is struggling with its commitment to make social justice a central part of its legal marijuana program as smaller businesses are squeezed out by national firms. In Boston, three black entrepreneurs are trying to change that. But what happens when “100 percent black-owned” businesses are actually funded by the same national players? Large cannabis companies like Sea Hunter may be financing smaller businesses, “but some say the program offers operators oppressive terms” like charging a $3 fee for every product sold, interest rates at 14 percent, and a requirement to give 70 percent of excess cash to the firm. One cannabis business consultant “said he feared corporations are pursuing these types of contracts in minority communities in part to improve their diversity optics, knowing all-white companies could go over poorly among local residents and government regulators.” The Boston Globe
Tribal rights and marijuana reform. The STATES Act hopes to resolve the federal-state conflict in marijuana laws by protecting state-legal cannabis activities from federal enforcement. While the bill’s co-sponsor senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said that the legislation “would let states, territories, [and] tribes decide for themselves how best to regulate marijuana” — the bill would actually only protect tribes that are located within a state that has legalized marijuana. “It makes tribal sovereignty contingent on state legalization… And that’s not the way tribal sovereignty works,” said one cannabis attorney. Cannabis Wire
Small town reckons with marijuana money. The town of Dinosaur, Colo. is home to about 320 people, and used to be funded by $2,700 a month in sales tax revenues. But then the state legalized marijuana and three marijuana shops opened for business there. They generated about $25,000 a month in tax revenue. “The introduction of marijuana sales appears to have injected a load of small-town intrigue and controversy into Dinosaur,” as the town board fired its only cop and residents speculate about the improper handling of cannabis cash. Meanwhile, town officials insist that the marijuana money is not that much in the face of its financial woes. Colorado Sun
When marijuana opposition backfires. Conservative lawmakers in Nebraska have continually rejected medical marijuana legalization. They’re poised to reject such a measure again, which could result in a ballot initiative that would create one of the least restrictive medical cannabis programs in the country. “If so, Nebraska will join a growing number of conservative states with unusually easy marijuana access, all because red-state lawmakers refuse to touch the issue and thereby make way for ballot initiatives.” Oklahoma faced a similar situation in 2018, when voters handily passed a strikingly liberal medical cannabis law. The Associated Press
CBD is all the rage. Mainstream retailers are increasingly embracing CBD products despite that the products remain in a regulatory limbo and differing state laws. Still, consumers are touting its benefits as scientists warn that research remains scarce. The Associated Press Cajun Cannabis, a new hemp store in Lafayette, Ga., is hoping to “become the largest premium retailer of its kind in Louisiana despite pressures from state agencies against the sale of the products.” The Advocate A state-by-state guide to CBD laws across the U.S. Marie Claire
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Today in cannabis science… Two universities in Utah are teaming up to test cannabis genetics. UPR “If we’re to have reasonable debate and distortion-free policymaking on this vital issue, we need more quality research, not unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims that smack of the ‘Reefer Madness’ hysteria of the 1930s.” Seattle Times
Companies sue Nevada over opaque licensing process. Companies are suing state regulators in Nevada over a lack of transparency about the marijuana business licensing process. “They complain the state releases no information about who seeks and receives permission to sell cannabis to adults, many of them tourists, in the nearly 2-year-old market.” The Associated Press A hearing that was scheduled for today was pushed back one week as a judge tries to coordinate attorneys for the seven lawsuits. KSNV
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… Cannabis sales are expected to double on 4/20. Bloomberg New York’s health department is stalling on cannabis mergers and acquisitions in its medical marijuana program. Green Market Report Uncertainty surrounding insurance coverage for cannabis is only growing. Cannabis Wire The medical marijuana business is growing in Puerto Rico. Entrepreneurs are navigating an industry rife with challenges like access to financial services but are optimistic about their prospects. NBC News
Cannabis in Canada. “Early data and interviews with store operators suggest a considerable number of Canadians are lighting up for the first time.” New cannabis consumers span all age groups, though some market “research has shown that people over 55 are most enticed by this market, because they dabbled in marijuana years ago and can afford to pay more for legal weed.” CTV News Ontario’s proposed license plate slogan — “A Place to Grow” — is generating conversation about the province’s role in the cannabis industry. The Georgia Straight The Ontario Cannabis Store is expecting to lose $18.7 million during its first year of operation. Marijuana Business Daily
Elsewhere around the world… The medical cannabis that was confiscated from a mother of a 9-year-old epilepsy patient will be returned to her after significant criticism from lawmakers and activists. U.K. border agents took £4,500 supply worth of cannabis oil from the family who resorted to traveling to the Netherlands for a prescription. The Guardian The prime minister of Thailand is pushing the Public Health Ministry to support cannabis research at the Khao Kwan Foundation. “His support is a rebuke of overzealous Narcotics Control Board officials who raided the Foundation last week, seizing the cannabis and extract oils on the property.” The Thaiger Latvia is considering decriminalizing drugs. LSM
Word on the States
- In New York, NYC’s mayor says he’ll sign a bill to scale back employee marijuana testing. Manhattan’s D.A. filed a class-action lawsuit to seal low-level marijuana convictions.
- In Washington, the Senate passed legislation to allow medical marijuana at schools and change marijuana testing rules. Local officials are stepping up enforcement of marijuana business bans.
- In Michigan, a state senator introduced a bill to reduce sentences for those convicted of marijuana offenses.
- In Maryland, medical cannabis regulators will revoke business licenses if dispensaries do not open their doors by September 30.
- In New Jersey, the state will need roughly 100 marijuana growers if it legalizes adult-use cannabis.
- In Massachusetts, Hatfield considers a cannabis farm helmed by an agronomy professor.
- In Colorado, dispensaries sold more than $119 million in marijuana products during February. A look at the Denver’s psilocybin decriminalization initiative.
- In Georgia, the governor is set to sign a bill to legalize medical cannabis production in the state.
- In Rhode Island, the House speaker is noncommittal about marijuana legalization this session.
- In Missouri, a House committee advanced a marijuana decriminalization bill.
- In Oklahoma, interest in cannabis continues to grow. Lawmakers send an industrial hemp bill to the governor.
- In Iowa, lawmakers are optimistic about medical marijuana expansion this year.
- In Virginia, Portsmouth’s prosecutor will start dismissing most misdemeanor marijuana possession charges.
- In Wisconsin, Oconto approved an ordinance to ban marijuana and paraphernalia businesses.
Word for Word
“As a consumer, I prefer to remain in the informal economy, but maybe that’s because I’m a privileged elitist in an older, whiter demographic and am seldom harassed by law enforcement… best of all for the environment, I’m spared the waste of excessive packaging and all the litter and landfill debris of ripped-open packages of cannabis candies and plastic-wrapped smokables and salves and little bottles of tinctures and assorted other by-products of mass-market marijuana. So while I’m glad to see the stigma lifted from this relatively harmless plant (which like many other things can be harmful if used recklessly), I lament having to witness its mainstreaming in the marketplace where it has become yet another example of big capital muscling out the little guys and not-for-profit collectives and leaving a trail of trash in its un-green wake.” – Author Stephen Kessler for Santa Cruz Sentinel