39 D.C.conditional social equity licenses award in 1st round; D.C. council expands requirements; MD sales hit $21M in first adult-use week


Catch the Smoke: June 17, 2023

DC awards 39 conditional social equity licenses

The first round of D.C. social equity licenses was awarded. Twenty cultivation centers, 18 manufacturers and one courier were granted conditional licenses, meaning they must still submit paperwork for location and undergo a public comment period before their licenses are final. An additional 19 applicants were asked to submit additional paperwork before getting conditional approval. [Read our coverage]

  • 32 of these applicants are formerly incarcerated people.
  • Seven of the applicants are family members of formerly incarcerated people.
  • The non-social equity applicants for courier, manufacturers and cultivation will be capped at one, 18 and 20. The application period opens Aug. 29.

DC council expands social equity definition

The narrow definition of D.C.’s social equity requirements caused the city council to pass an emergency resolution July 10, to expand the applicant pool. The previous definition excluded many people impacted by the war on drugs, according to business owners and community members. The unanimously passed resolution expanded the criteria to include family members of people arrested and convicted, not just incarcerated. It also adds siblings and grandparents to eligible family members, not just kids and spouses. [Read our coverage]

  • Current D.C. medical dispensaries sold over $3.3 million in product in May. The sales were over $200,000 less than April and 121 lbs less than March.
  • A new law in Washington, D.C. prohibits most employers from firing or otherwise punishing employees for marijuana use during non-work hours, unless the position is designated safety sensitive. The law went into effect on Thursday, July 14, 2022.
  • The Senate and House approved the annual spending bills that again block D.C. from implementing an adult-use cannabis market while at the same time protecting state level medical programs.

Virginia Gov. still ice cold on weed

Gov. Youngkin reiterated his lack of interest in legalizing recreational marijuana sales in the state despite neighboring Maryland launching its own recreational cannabis market. Most recently a traffic stop led to a woman being arrested with 17 pounds of cannabis product.

MD fund to open

Maryland is launching a $40 million program to help social equity cannabis businesses open shop. The program will provide grants and loans to businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Applications will open on August 1st.

Not so fast

Prince George’s County lawmakers introduced legislation to restrict where recreational marijuana dispensaries can operate in the county. The bill would require dispensaries to be located in industrial zones, be 2,500 feet away from schools and daycare centers, and have building-mounted signs. The proposal has been criticized by some county business owners who say it would make it difficult for them to operate in the legal marijuana market.

  • Maryland cannabis sales hit $21 million in the first week of the adult-use market.
  • Maryland cannabis manufactures report producing 1.5 to two times more product to keep up with the new additional recreational demand.

Crack down NYC

Empire Cannabis Clubs, a prominent New York City cannabis club, was raided by law enforcement on July 7, 2023. The club’s attorney, Steve Zissou, told NY Cannabis Insider that the raids were “heavy-handed” and that the club plans to fight the charges in court. Zissou also said that Empire Cannabis Clubs will continue to operate its stores, despite the raids.

Reaching new highs

Massachusetts’ adult-use marijuana sales reached a new record high of $152 million in June, bringing the state’s total recreational sales since the market launched in 2018 to nearly $5 billion. Connecticut also saw record-high marijuana sales in June, with $24 million in combined medical and recreational sales.

A drop in criminalization  

As states started legalizing marijuana, the number of people in federal prison for marijuana offenses dropped by 61% from 2013 to 2018. This was a greater reduction than for any other drug type. Overall, the federal prison system saw the number of people incarcerated for drugs decrease by 24% during that time period. This suggests that federal drug policy is becoming more lenient in response to state-level legalization.

This week, don’t miss

Lucky Leaf Expo Baltimore Maryland

Luck Leaf Expo hosts a cannabis business expo to catch up with industry experts and businesses. It will be hosted at the Baltimore Convention Center. (July 21-22, 9AM-5PM; $35-499)


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