Catch the Smoke: Sept. 4, 2023
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If you missed it last week, D.C. opened the second application period for their medical cannabis expansion. The application period will close Oct. 30 at 4 P.M., though officials said the window could close sooner if the number of applications warrants it.
Maryland outsmarts D.C., but doesn’t outpace it
Though D.C.’s cannabis regulatory authority has made themselves available for questions for social equity applicants, Maryland has taken it a step further. The state will open an online verification portal on Sept. 8 for 60 days where people can check for free if they qualify before paying thousands in fees. Maryland has not outpaced D.C. though as the acting director of their cannabis regulatory authority said their license process will start after the portal closes in November. BUT, the team is still working on developing the application. This highlights one of the strengths of D.C.’s application process, it was simple and more streamlined than more wide cast but complicated criteria that Maryland set out.
Banned but not gone
Despite the hefty fines leveled on businesses violating the new hemp laws in Virginia, “intoxicating” hemp is still widely available online. This is not helping the rise in kids showing up at the E.R. from ingesting edible hemp and cannabis products. Data compiled by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported 629 kids went to the hospital in the first quarter of 2023. They predict a 62% increase over the entire year. A local shop just reached a $12.5k settlement for allegedly selling THC products to underaged consumers.
East Coast Round Up
Bad news for NY
Last week it looked like a few businesses would sneak under the wire and be able to open despite a lawsuit that froze the entire state’s cannabis licensing process. But in a “stunning” reversal, a judge reversed the decision due to “contradictory and confusing” information provided by the state. The lawsuit, filed last month by veterans, alleged that the social equity program was discriminatory and violated their constitutional rights. This continues to exasperate the state’s problem of thousands of unlicensed shops operating while only 23 legal shops are open across the state. Cannabis has been legalized since March 2021.
The novelty snacks propping up the illicit weed market
Most of us who have wandered into an off books cannabis shop across the country have seen strange imported snacks and juices filling shop’s shelves. Well Eater NY finally wrote about the sweet potato chips and imported skittles. A status symbol for consumers and an elaborate front for some stores.
Raekwon of Wu-Tang offered a peek inside his soon-to-open cannabis dispensary and consumption lounge in New Jersey. The state begins accepting license applications on a rolling basis at the end of the month.
Your J may be filled with toxins
According to a new study, cannabis smokers have higher levels of toxic metals in their blood. The researchers found higher levels of lead and cadmium in the urine and blood of smokers than non-smokers. So you may want to put that reggie weed down and switch it for some organically sourced flower. Another study based in Canada found that 9 out of 10 illegal cannabis samples contained pesticides, much higher than samples pulled from legal shops.
Lit-up, lit way up
Sorry, we’re on the study train this week: another study published last week found that one-fifth of people who use cannabis struggle with problematic use or dependency. The symptoms characterized in both of these issues are increased tolerance, craving and an uncontrollable escalation of use. Recreational users were more likely to experience severe dependency than medical users. So make sure to take your t-break!
The cannabis industry is tottering on collapse amidst a glut of weed and taxes shredding profitability.
California is cracking down on illegal cannabis grows and distribution centers in Fresno. They will increase enforcement on illegal cannabis and put resources behind “large-scale, statewide” prosecutions. This could impact the flow of underground cannabis to the East Coast.
Just 23.1% of cannabis businesses are women-owned, reflecting that the rock hard boys club remains.
Another study (we know) found that psilocybin use was associated with a significant reduction in major depression after just one dose.
From the Swamp
The top federal health organization (HHS) recommended that the DEA move cannabis to a Schedule III drug from a Schedule I. Marijuana has coexisted with meth and other hard drugs at the top of law agencies hit lists for decades. The rescheduling would not legalize the plant, but it could reduce research barriers and open up tax opportunities for the industry. This could possibly lift restrictions for federal workers using cannabis. Rescheduling or not, Sen. Chuck Schumer will continue to push for the SAFE Banking Act this legislative session.
This week, don't miss
Minority Cannabis Conference
Neka Hudson hosts a Minority Cannabis Conference dedicated to fostering inclusivity and equity within the cannabis industry at 5597 Seminary Road, Bailey’s Crossroads, VA. (Sept. 15, 7-9PM; $10)