Catch the Smoke: Sept. 18, 2023
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Record breaking year slows
Despite a spring of record breaking medical cannabis sales in The District, sales continue to slow. D.C. dispensaries sold a little over $1.57 million in cannabis in August, according to the government monthly report released last week. Cultivation centers sold a little bit more than last month, but dispensary sales have been dropping since Maryland opened its legal adult-use market. August is a typically slow sales month in the city, but even compared to August 2022, D.C. sold less weed.
A neighborhood association off of U street is attempting to enact a moratorium on alcohol and cannabis licenses. They are fed up with the weekend nightlife that they say has detrimentally impacted their quality of life. ABCA still has to vote on the moratorium.
Last week’s Alcohol and Cannabis Board led to the approval of six new conditional manufacturing licenses and one conditional testing license for True Testing, LLC. A full list of approved businesses is on page 16 of this document. ABCA continues to accept applications for this round of manufacturing licenses until the end of October. There are no cannabis items for this week’s upcoming agendas.
Lauded BIPOC Psychedelic collective called out
The Ancestor Project, a Maryland-based Black led psychedelic collective, has been called out by a group of anonymous women for debts owed and other transgressions. The Tapped Out Coalition consists mostly of Black, Indigenous and other women of color accusing Undrea Wright, the founder of TAP, of owing them sums upward of five figures for unpaid work. Though accusations began with finances, serious sexual misconduct allegations have also arisen. Only time will tell the true depth of these accusations, but it serves as a warning to anyone walking into a “safe-space” in the psychedelic community that they can often be a playground for predators.
Leading Dem in Maryland’s senate race blamed weed for murders
An in-depth Intercept feature on Angela Alsobrooks digs into her past stance on crime and cannabis. Alsobrooks has a chance to be the first Black senator for Maryland. But in her past campaigns for Prince George’s state’s attorney, she stood as “tough-on-crime” and pushed the idea that decriminalizing cannabis led to “drug dealers murdering each other.” Democrats have never been “soft-on-crime,” but candidates are now walking an increasingly delicate rope between appearing liberal on weed and conservative on crime.
A Baltimore store tests the new legal limits.
A Baltimore Hydroponics shop is testing the limits of the state’s new laws by selling cannabis plants and hosting a “grow center” without a dispensary license. The shop has continued to block enforcement by claiming that its plants are not old enough to yet contain THC. Without a license through the state, they claim that the state regulatory system has no authority over them. So far they are still in business.
Federal lawsuit in Virginia hopes to save hemp industry
After the state government successfully banned almost all hemp products this summer, a group of industry members are suing federally to reverse the ban. A recent lawsuit in Arkansas succeeded in pausing part of that state’s ban.
East Coast Round Up
“We gave everything we have, we have nothing left. Absolutely nothing.”
A New York cannabis entrepreneur to the state’s Cannabis Control Board last week. The state’s dumpster fire of a legal roll out continues to burn, leaving well-meaning business people bankrupt.There are just 23 operational stores in the entire state out of 160 that should be open. A court order is still halting all social equity licensing, and farmers who began legally growing last year have almost no where to sell their crops. This comes as legislators voted to open the state to multistate operators, effectively signing the death sentence for any hope of an equitable, small-business focused market.
Pennsylvania bans medical cannabis patients’ access to edibles for now.
Massachusetts hit a sales record of $5 billion in adult-use cannabis sales since it opened its market five years ago.
New Jersey fined TerrAscend $100k and Columbia Care $50k for patient access and labor violations.
From the Swamp
SAFE Banking will see the light
The SAFE Banking Act will get a real vote in the Senate Banking Committee next Wednesday. This signals real movement towards the bill seeing an actual vote on the floor. There are still minor disagreements between the parties, and there are more changes possible as the bill works its way through the legislative process. This Wednesday, a separate committee will vote on whether to remove cannabis use as a barrier to federal employment or security clearances.
Note: The bill got another cosponsor last week, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) for a total of 70.
If the DEA follows HHS’s rescheduling recommendation for cannabis, the impacts will be wide reaching from tax benefits for cannabis businesses to medical cannabis patients being eligible for immigrant visas and gun licenses. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) led 12 other congressional republicans in sending a letter to the DEA asking the agency not to reschedule cannabis. Whenever the agency reschedules cannabis, there will likely be another set of hurdles and delays before the policy officially hits the ground.
President Biden’s cannabis pardonees are beginning to receive their pardons. The presidential pardon affected 6,500 people federally charged with marijuana possession. The application opened in March of this year. Biden’s pardon was criticized for its limited scope.
This week, don't miss
Cannabis Industry and Policy Summit
Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association hosts a Cannabis Policy Summit focused on providing solutions to the most pressing challenges and opportunities growing for Indian Country at Eaton Hotel. (Nov.2-3;$225 – $299)