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DeSantis’ cannabis efforts in Florida under the microscope

Cannabis on the campaign trail

Good morning and happy hump day.

Is it just the Cultivated team, or is this week moving so, so slowly? Either way, it’s hump day and we’re heading into a long weekend. And there’s some interesting cannabis news afoot.

Be sure to check out the latest “What We’re Reading” below - because there’s another lawsuit brewing in New York.

A 5-minute ready from JB and JR

💡What’s the big deal?

DeSantis’ cannabis efforts in Florida under the microscope

Driving the news: With just under a month until the Iowa caucuses, Florida Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is under the gun about his connections to the Florida cannabis industry.

The heart of the deep-dive report by CNN is about one of the Governor’s first legislative acts: legalizing smokable medical cannabis in Florida. 

What’s CNN saying: The report by CNN looks at the connections to campaign donors and special interests and has sparked questions about his commitment to eradicating "swampy" behavior if elected President. DeSantis' campaign, however, refutes these claims, asserting his independence from donor influence.

Cannabis in Florida: Florida has a robust medical cannabis program – to the tune of 800,000+ patients according to Marijuana Policy Project.

But unlike most states, Florida’s cannabis program mandates that cannabis companies be vertically integrated. Meaning that Florida cannabis licenses are among the most valuable – and hard to get – in the nation.

Yes, but: In 2024, Floridians may get the chance to approve adult-use in the Sunshine State. The challenge? Florida’s Attorney General – and DeSantis ally – is fighting the measure in the State Supreme Court

What’s next: This story probably doesn’t matter much to DeSantis’ Presidential aspirations. He’s far behind, according to recent polls.

However, as DeSantis navigates the Presidential political landscape, his record on cannabis regulation in Florida remains contentious as he heads back to Tallahassee just as the 2024 cannabis political season heats.

College hoops recruitment and cannabis

Driving the news: A new study in the Journal of Sports Economics notes that states with legal cannabis may recruit better college basketball players. (Interestingly, the study notes that legal cannabis may actually do the opposite for recruiting college football players.) 

Sporting differences: As Marijuna Moment points out, this may account for shifting attitudes of athletes in different sports and their respective professional leagues. Cannabis isn’t such a big deal in the NBA, but that’s not (yet) the case in the NFL. 

Why it matters: We aren’t 100% sure it matters a ton, but it is an interesting correlation at least.

The conversation around cannabis, athletes, and testing continues to be an issue in collective bargaining agreements - as we’ve seen recently in the NBA, MLB, and the NHL

While the cannabis/athletics tide may be turning, let’s hope it turns faster.

The “in the know” aren’t feeling SAFER

What’s happening: Punchbowl News, the news people in DC read like the Bible, conducts The Canvass - a monthly poll tracking “sentiment among senior leaders on Capitol Hill and K Street.” Sometimes, that sentiment is about the prospects of cannabis policy on The Hill.

Feeling SAFER?: The Canvass asked K Street leaders (read: lobbyists) and senior Hill staffers if they believe that SAFER Banking will pass in the 118th Congress. (Note: The 118th Congress runs through the end of 2024.)

Here’s the bad news, “most K Street leaders (61%) and senior Hill staffers (55%) believe it is unlikely the 118th Congress will pass the SAFER Banking Act.” 

Why it matters: Nothing is easy in DC. Add to that the pressure of the 2024 election cycle, and the pressure mounts even more. Plus, SAFE/SAFER Banking has had its fits and starts.

But, that doesn’t mean nothing will happen in DC.

In fact, the buzz around cannabis in DC is that rescheduling may happen in Q1 2024. So expect big moves, just not around SAFER Banking, perhaps.

🎒 What we’re reading