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DeSantis wants to cut off his nose to spite his face

It’s another chapter of the hemp versus weed fight

Monday, June 3, 2024

Good morning.

Happy Monday and we hope you all had a great weekend.

Start your Monday off right, and productively, with your daily dose of cannabis industry and policy news.

Let’s get to it. 

-JB & JR

This newsletter is 881 words or about a 4-minute read. 

💡What’s the big deal?

Florida’s DeSantis will veto a bill regulating the hemp industry

What happened: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who opposes an upcoming ballot measure to legalize cannabis in his state, will veto a bill that would curtail the sales of intoxicating hemp products containing Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC, reports CBS News

According to sources close to DeSantis, he believes that allowing the sale of intoxicating hemp products in Florida will keep pro-cannabis voters home on Election Day, essentially placating them. 

Those same people also suggested that DeSantis was motivated by the size of Florida’s hemp industry, and that heavily regulating sales would cost the state billions of tax revenue.

Florida’s legalization ballot measure needs 60% to pass. Recent polls suggest support just under that, so every vote will count. 

What they’re saying: “I don't know how you can be against recreational marijuana and be in support of hemp. It doesn't make sense, unless what you are really looking for is money from the hemp industry,” a supporter of the hemp bill told CBS. 

Why it matters: It’s a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face situation. 

Many Republican governors, DeSantis included, have come out against legalization in their states — even if both voters and the legislature want it. 

By allowing unregulated, intoxicating hemp products to thrive, DeSantis may believe that consumers will have enough intoxicating options, or at least may not understand the difference enough to be willing to vote for cannabis legalization.

But at the end of the day, consumers, and potentially public health, lose when governors make specific policy choices that place less-regulated alternative products in the hands of consumers.

Back up: The federal Farm Bill passed in 2018 created a loophole that ‘legalized’ the production and sale of products, like beverages and edibles, containing intoxicating THC derived from hemp through a chemical process. 

The effects are functionally the same as regular old cannabis, but the process to derive the intoxicating THC is chemically different. 

This loosely regulated market has exploded in recent years, with intoxicating hemp products finding their way into gas stations and grocery stores throughout the country.

An unlikely coalition of federal and state lawmakers, cannabis companies, and anti-legalization groups alike have called for these products to either be banned or more tightly regulated, saying that they present risks to consumers, setting up a fight between the traditional cannabis and intoxicating hemp industries. 

It’s become a contested issue as Congress renegotiates the new Farm Bill as well

Bills have cropped up in state houses across the country that attempt to curtail hemp-derived THC sales. Illinois’ General Assembly failed to pass a bill, however, as did Louisiana

The final word: Some companies selling these intoxicating hemp products try to adhere to regulations and do business the right way by selling safe products to adults. Others exploit this loophole to sell untested, unregulated products without child safety protections. There is clearly a need for more regulation.

If DeSantis was truly motivated by tax revenue, legalizing cannabis would be more effective than allowing unregulated, intoxicating hemp products to proliferate.

A coherent regulatory structure for both the hemp and cannabis industries together would be a much greater economic benefit to the state. 


💬 Quote of the day

“We’ve had, when it comes to marijuana, failed policies for more than half a century, because of which way too many lives have been upended,” Dr. Rahul Gupta, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy said. “We have had a failed approach where we have so many people incarcerated because of it and so many people, their lives have been basically destroyed.”

Quick hits

Products from Glass House Brands, a California company, were seen during a raid on a Brooklyn warehouse that police said was storing illicit cannabis products, WeedWeek reports. Glass House was accused by a competing company, Catalyst of diverting product to the illicit market, but Glass House sued for defamation and then withdrew after it said Catalyst would be financially unable to pay damages. 

New York’s State Office of General Services is seeking contractors to “perform cannabis destruction services” after the seizure of illicit products. New York has ramped up illicit cannabis enforcement as the state’s regulatory agency has undergone a governor-directed overhaul. Many of New York City’s illegal cannabis shops have been padlocked in recent days. 

Sixty percent of Tennessee voters support legalizing cannabis, according to a new Vanderbilt poll

😜 One fun thing

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy now has an eponymous weed strain — “Murphy’s Sourz,” from Prolific Growhouse

📰 What we’re reading

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