Virginia gears up for election which could impact cannabis, Maryland social equity portal closes, D.C. begins to wrangle unlicensed cannabis shops


Catch the Smoke: Nov. 6, 2023

Unlicensed operators begin to apply to be legal

Last Wednesday, the unlicensed operator license application period opened in D.C. This period is meant to sweep up the hundreds of shops functioning under the I-71 amendment that allows weed gifting. Only 20 businesses applied the first day despite there being a distance requirement that incentivizes early applications. Read our full coverage on what this means for legacy shops here

  • This week’s ABCA meeting is Nov. 8 meeting at 10 A.M., livestream here. Expect more license approvals from the past cultivator and manufacturer period. Though that period is closed to new applications, previously submitted ones are still being processed. 
  • Last week saw four more conditional licenses approved

Maryland will prioritize Black farmers for cannabis licenses

Due to historic denial of farm loans to Black farmers, the state’s cannabis reform act created a license category especially for Black farmers who are part of a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for loan discrimination. There are five licenses available to these plaintiffs. 

  • Maryland’s social equity applicant verification portal closes tomorrow. The license application opens Nov. 13. There are a little under 200 licenses available for this first round. 

Virginia gears up for an election

The Virginia election could shake up the government and make either an increasingly hostile cannabis market or open it up. However, Gov. Youngkin is not up for reelection yet, and he’s been hostile to cannabis since the start. So don’t get your hopes up to high. 

  • There is currently no Virginia agency tracking medical cannabis sales from the state’s 20 legal dispensaries. The Cannabis Control Authority will start tracking in 2024. 
  • The CCA also issued a new report focused on use of hemp by minors and contamination with recommendations ranging from testing for pesticides to restricting online sales to prevent minors’ access. 
  • While Maryland businesses wage their own hemp battles successfully, a Virginia federal judge rejected hemp businesses’ request for an injunction on the state’s new hemp limits. 

East Coast Round Up

New York assembly person introduced a bill to ban roadside cannabis advertisements. 

The NY Office of Cannabis Management suspended its enforcement hearings, resulting in the vast majority of illegal shops’ infractions being unresolved

NY regulators will launch a widened license window this week with a priority on social equity applicants. The majority of licenses will be for retail licenses

The New York City Council is considering a proposal to streamline the closure of illegal cannabis shops.

Massachusetts advocates for psychedelics legalization believe they have gathered enough signatures to compel lawmakers to review their initiative.

Culture Corner

A new study has found that allowing people to legally purchase CBD products results in a significant reduction in opioid prescriptions.

SXSW’s 2023 lineup focuses on psychedelics with over 450 sessions planned including a handful on legal marijuana and 13 on psychedelics.

Oklahoma’s weed market, once a monolith, is seeing a drastic reduction as the government catches up with regulations and the people of the state turn cold on legalization. 

Canada is also seeing an exodus of businesses leaving the industry and their licenses behind.

From the Swamp

A bipartisan bill to legalize marijuana federally was reintroduced in Congress, but its chances of passing are uncertain due to the new House leadership. The bill currently has four co-sponsors from both parties and aims to amend the Controlled Substances Act.

The Senate approved a bill to allow Veteran Affairs’ doctors to recommend medical cannabis to veterans which mirrors a House bill. 

SAFER got three new cosponsors including Bernie Sanders.


Law enforcement raided a rural Connecticut home and discovered an estimated $8.5 million worth of psychedelic mushrooms after neighbors tip about AC units and multiple cars. A 21-year-old man was arrested and charged with operating a drug factory and possession with intent to sell/distribute narcotics.

Don’t miss this week

Seeds of Success: Insights from a Cannabis Social Equity Champion

Tea Pad hosts an event with national cannabis equity advocate and entrepreneur Chris Jackson for lessons learned from the Michigan cannabis industry at Party HQ in Bowie, MD. (Nov. 11; $58.50)

Please submit your upcoming cannabis event here


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