D.C. gifting shops begin to vie for new licenses; VA cracks down on gray market and Maryland’s adult-use market begins to overshadow its medical sales.


Catch the Smoke: Oct. 9, 2023

Gifting shops stick their foot in the door

Five more licensees received conditional approval last week by the Alcohol Beverage and Cannabis Administration: one courier, two non-social equity applicants and one social equity applicant received a cultivation and manufacturer license. So far this month, three I-71 gifting shops (Adose Wellness, Voyager Club DC and Cloud9) have connections with businesses granted licenses. All license application forms are available on D.C.’s website.

These new licenses bring the total number of available licenses left to 18 cultivation, 14 manufacturer and one courier. There are a total of 24 cultivation licenses, 20 manufacturer and two courier licenses available for non-social equity applicants. This licensing period ends on Oct. 29.

  • The next ABCA meeting will be held Oct. 18 at 10 A.M. This will be the second to last meeting in which this period of licenses can be approved while the period is open. But we’re guessing ABCA will continue to approve these licenses after the application period closes. They’ve been making efforts to work with applicants like asking them to fix or add to applications before hearing them at meetings.

  • The much anticipated unlicensed operator license period will open next month (yes, somehow the year is almost over) on Nov. 1 to Jan. 29, 2024.

  • ABCA hosts a virtual information session for this open application period at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 10, 2023. Advance registration is required.

Also: The mayor is due to respond this week to the Medical Cannabis Clarification and Non-Resident Patient Access Temporary Amendment Act of 2023 that was introduced this summer. It attempts to widen social equity and expand patient access to product testing.

Maryland keeps it pushin’

Legal cannabis stores sold over $90.7 million in product last month in Maryland, mostly propped up by the new adult retail market. Medical sales have gone down since recreational legalization in July.

  • The state is conducting another medical patient survey. 13,000 patients responded to last year’s anonymous questions.

  • Pocomoke City, MD passed a six month moratorium on all cannabis businesses to set up proper zoning.

No-more Mr. Hip Hop

Another journalist writes about going anonymously into a gray market Virginia gifting shop, but only after it was raided along with multiple other businesses last month in a 24 search warrant bust of money laundering and drug distribution. The journalist painfully calls a white muscular man with gold chains “Mr. Hip Hop.” Everyone is entitled to their experience, but we’re calling for a moratorium on journalists going incognito on the record and other white men calling other white men Mr.Hip Hop.


VCU is developing a breathalyzer to catch high drivers, but a recent study by CU Boulder in Colorado found that the technology will be a challenge, “if possible at all,” to develop.

Social equity hits rocky ground 

Across the country, social equity is beginning to fall apart. In Illinois, Cookies, a home grown but now monstrous MSO, “united” with a social equity partner to open its first store in the state. Hopefully the partners will get their payout, but if equity policies were hoping to engender local, independent, home-grown business, it looks less and less likely. MSO’s are sniffing out these licenses like the dogs they are.

In Arizona, a recent investigation found that at least four equity licensees lost legal battles to operating partners. “In fact, just four of the original 26 social equity lottery winners still have an equity stake in the lucrative licenses. Existing corporate dispensaries now own half the licenses outright, with private investors holding equity in 10 more.” It’s a warning flare to D.C. and Maryland as they try to establish their own social equity businesses.

East Coast Round Up

New Jersey awarded $12 million in grants to marijuana businesses.

New Jersey man and his mother were arrested by police for selling weed before his conditional license was formally approved. Authorities found 70 pounds of cannabis and lots of money.

New Hampshire is still struggling to establish an adult use market amidst a patchwork of state’s legalizing around it.

New York opened cannabis applications to hundreds last week. Entities have until Dec. 4 to apply, and the state will award licenses starting next year. But not everyone thinks this will solve the state’s woes. A state senator said the failed roll out has been a product of corporations trying to undermine and shut down small businesses.

Culture Corner

The parent company of High Times paid the SEC over half a million dollars in a settlement for allegedly compensating the author of an investment newsletter for promoting their stock.

Federal prohibition has led to a patchwork of cannabis regulations therefore a mess of testing and recalls.

Craft growers could still save weed. Many MSO’s can’t compete with small growers’ quality and opt to dominate smaller less established states. But the illicit market could be the downfall of all these companies that can’t beat the quality and price of the streets.

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and NORML are considering a merger amid fundraising issues.

The Air Force granted over 3X as many waivers for recruits enlisting who tested positive for weed.

As the DEA seizes less weed amid states’ legalization, it’s also testing significantly less illegal cannabis.

From the Swamp


In a quick gasp of air before we head back to another looming shutdown, a dismal 13% of hill staffers think marijuana banking will pass. The Senate’s SAFER added five cosponsors last week (all democrats) for a total of 30 supporters. The House’s SAFE added four new democrats for a total of 82 sponsors.

  • A house committee killed an amendment to block cannabis testing for federal jobs.

    The DOJ defended the gun ban on medical marijuana patients before federal appeals court.

Don’t miss

CBD, Cannabis & Commerce Lunch & Learn

Smart Solutions presents an industry “lunch & learn” focused on the hard questions about the future of CBD & cannabis sales and business growth at Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill in Annapolis. (Oct. 26; free)

Please submit your upcoming cannabis event here


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