Weed Wars: lawsuits, equity concerns cloud East Coast legalization


Next steps on the horizon 

The social equity application period for retail stores opens at 9 A.M. of Mar. 1, 2024 until April 30, 2024. ABCA will host an info session tomorrow at 10 A.M., register here. Additional information is available at abca.dc.gov and questions can be directed to ABCA.CannabisLicensing@dc.gov

D.C. medical cannabis sales close out 2023 with six-month high

While overall sales haven’t reached pre-Maryland adult-use launch levels, D.C.’s medical cannabis market showed signs of stability in December 2023. Total sales reached nearly $3 million, marking the highest monthly figure since Maryland’s recreational market opened in July. Read the full breakdown

  • Facility map has been updated with pending dispensaries.  

  • New rules passed that regulate advertising and signage specifically related to gifting shops which are now facing enforcement from ABCA. 

  • No new shops were approved last week, but multiple ANC and protest agreement settlements were approved. Unlicensed shops Happy Bud and DeLorean’s protests against denial were rejected. 

Next on the chopping block

Jeffery Jensen, a California resident and lawyer who sued New York, Washington and California, is now suing Maryland for alleged constitutional violation of the social equity program regarding people not born in the state. He has a history of doing this and single handedly delaying state’s market launches. A New York Judge threw out his lawsuit  in that state claiming that the social equity program discriminates against out of state residents. MCA must answer the lawsuit by Feb. 20, 2024. 

  • MCA has not finished processing license applications, now over a month behind schedule. It has also not announced a date for the lottery, delaying the markets launch lawsuit or not. 

Driving hazy 

Maryland is considering a bill to combat driving under the influence of marijuana after legalization. Despite concerns about racial profiling, Republicans want police to be able to pull drivers over for cannabis odor again. While collisions involving impaired driving have increased, there’s no set legal limit for THC, making enforcement challenging.

A fight over equity

Virginia’s proposed marijuana legalization bill could punish unlicensed sellers with mandatory jail time, raising concerns it might disproportionately impact Black Virginians due to existing racial disparities in enforcement. While proponents see legalization as a chance to address these issues – launching stores as early as January 2025 – critics argue the current proposal lacks equity and could exclude Black businesses from the legal market.

  • An op-ed pushed back against allowing existing medical dispensaries controlled by corporate interests to enter the market before other new businesses. Maryland fell into this trap already and all of the current adult-use profits are going to existing businesses.

East Coast Round Up

Joe Murray, the father of Sour Diesel, is trying to make his stake in the legal market in New York after decades surviving in the filthy underground of the cannabis industry. 

New York’s Governor acknowledged the disastrous cannabis launch and added a fix is unlikely so woohoo, starting 2024 on a positive note ma’am. There are only 14 cannabis investigators for the thousands of illicit shops in the state. 

A Connecticut law loophole allows THC seltzers to be sold in liquor stores. 

Maine’s congress people are AGAIN asking the DOJ to crack down on illegal Chinese-owned cannabis operations in the state. 

New Hampshire’s lawmakers are leaning towards a more traditional market launch in opposition to the governor’s proposed state-run store system. 

Around the country

New research from The University of Colorado offers hope for more accurate detection of recent cannabis use, with a 96% accuracy in identifying use within the past 30 minutes.

Despite removing marijuana from its own banned list, UFC fighters competing in California could still face fines for exceeding the state’s THC limit, highlighting a potential clash between individual policies and broader regulations.

Six deaths in the California desert are being linked by officials to illegal cannabis dealings. 

Miami spring breakers caught smoking weed will face 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. 

From the Swamp

From the swamp

A Republican congressman called the DEA’s push to reschedule cannabis as “misguided” and “flawed”. 

Twelve Senate Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, are urging the Biden administration to fully deschedule marijuana, not just reschedule it. This comes after HHS recommended moving it to Schedule III, but the senators argue for complete removal due to the overwhelming lack of evidence supporting its current Schedule I classification. 

Biden inflated his cannabis pardons while campaigning claiming that the pardons EXPUNGE records which is not true. 


A Rhode Island bill proposes temporarily legalizing psilocybin mushrooms for personal use and home cultivation until mid-2026. It wouldn’t allow commercial sales but decriminalizes possessing and sharing an ounce. 

Jamaica’s unregulated “shroom boom” offers a controversial glimpse into the future of mental health treatment. Luxury retreats utilize psilocybin mushrooms to treat depression, PTSD, and anxiety, despite the substance’s illegality elsewhere.

Don’t miss this week

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