Virginia underground weed market flourishes as state deadlocks legal market. Maryland announces social equity licenses’ date.


Catch the Smoke: Sept. 11, 2023

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D.C. alleged robbery turns deadly

According to court documents, a shooting that left one dead and five injured last week appears to have been an attempted robbery. The initial investigation from police describes multiple suitcases full of “green-weed” like substances and “large” quantities of cash, as well as the defendants leaving after the shooting with plastic bags full of alleged weed. A local Twitter account reported that 115 pounds of cannabis and $80,000 were found in the apartment were the shooting occurred.

Gearing up

Maryland announced their first round of social equity licenses set to open Nov. 13, 2023. The state is qualifying applicants based on their attendance of school or past residence in an area overly impacted by cannabis criminalization. An overly impacted area is defined by having more than 150% of the state’s 10-year average for cannabis possession charges. Social equity applicants must own 65% of their business vs D.C.’s 50%.

  • Far and Dotter dispensary customers received a notice that some weed sold at the store at the end of July through Aug. 3 may have been mishandled.

  • Another dispensary was robbed of its ATM machine a second time.

Raking it in

Maryland hit record sales of $92 million during August, its second month of adult-use sales. This cash cow is still not spreading to social equity applicants as they have not even opened the applications yet. The profits are largely going to already established dispensaries that expanded to adult use in July. We’re still waiting on D.C.’s metrics to be released.

Maryland cannabis politics reveal national issues

A new study from Brookings dives into the non-partisan success of state-level cannabis legislation and its faltering at the federal level. Despite the state’s heavy emphasis on social equity, the data revealed that Black voters “appear less sold on the benefits of cannabis than their fellow Democratic white voters, regardless of income.”

VA’s gray market blooms under standstill 

Despite Cannabis legalization in the state, a republican change over at the top has delayed the actual implementation of the legal market leading to, you guessed it, a proliferation of stores selling cannabis under smoke and mirrors. One such store in SW Virginia, uses gifting and “adult-sharing” to get customers weed. This is unlikely to hold up in court, but the VA stores are filling an obvious gap in the market left by the state’s standstill. The adult share seems to be an attempt to circumnavigate the law much like D.C.’s gifting stores, except D.C. passed I-71. That constitutional amendment gave District stores a legal foot to stand on. Virginia does not have a similar initiative.

  • The state’s crack down on hemp has led Virginia hemp businesses to sue the state alleging that the ban violates 2018 federal law.

East Coast Round Up

Could farm fresh cannabis save New York’s cannabis industry?

Connecticut social equity entrepreneurs have completed a state-sponsored accelerator program and spent last week pitching investors.

Pittsburgh NORML is working to push forward legislation to allow cannabis for adults in Pennsylvania.

New Jersey’s cannabis market continues to lag and finger pointing goes both ways.

Maine’s marijuana industry bracing for impact over proposed cannabis policy changes which could include where to consume and packaging regulations. 

New Hampshire’s commission to set up state-run cannabis stores met for the first time last week.

Massachusetts hit $5 billion in gross sales after another record breaking month in August sales.

Culture Corner

Legal cannabis industry jobs are turning downward for the first time since regulated markets launched. Uncertain markets, federal stalling and depressed prices of weed have all constricted the industry which is now trickling down to job security.

Spotify will launch cannabis ads soon, potentially a reflection of the streaming giants difficulty in turning a profit despite its popularity.

New study of 2,300 medical cannabis patients found that users saw an improved quality of life and lower pain and anxiety within three months of use.

New data confirms that legal adult-use cannabis stores on the borders of other states or Canada saw more sales than interior stores, suggesting high numbers of consumers crossing state lines to purchase cannabis legally. Of course it is technically not legal to drive that cannabis back home over state lines, but who’s busting Roger with a dime bag?

From the Swamp

SAFE Banking once again returns to the forefront as congress gets back in swing. The Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said that it is one of the top bills on his fall agenda. However, we have heard this before and only time will tell if the bill actually sees a floor vote. The Act did get another democratic cosponsor, Rep. Davis, Danny K. (D-IL), for a total of 69.

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)


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