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How Wisconsin Republicans want to approach medical cannabis

A highly restrictive bill introduced in Madison

Good morning.

Getting back into the swing of things here at Cultivated, but we’re not alone. Republicans in Wisconsin are busy trying to put together a medical cannabis plan, but will the Democratic Governor get on board? Time will tell. 

A 6-minute ready from JB and JR

💡What’s the big deal?

A medical cannabis proposal from Republicans in Wisconsin

On the agenda: Wisconsin is lovely this time of year. Bitter cold temperatures, snow, and playoff football for their beloved Green Bay Packers. (Game time 4:30 pm Eastern versus the Dallas Cowboys.)

It’s also lovely because cannabis is on the agenda there. Sort of.

What happened? Democratic Governor Tony Evers has promised Wisconsinites that legal cannabis is coming. It’s what he wants and it’s certainly what Wisconsin voters want. A huge majority of voters in Wisconsin support legalization, according to ongoing polling by the Marquette Law School Poll.

But wait: Because of the strong public support and the push by Governor Evers, Wisconsin Republicans are feeling the pinch to do something. And yesterday, they revealed their something.

What is says: The proposal is a very limited, highly restrictive medical cannabis bill — which, bill authors say, is modeled after Minnesota’s medical cannabis program that predates their adult-use legalization effort.

Restrictions include the small number of conditions available for medical cannabis treatments, the limited number of medical cannabis dispensaries (five, all government owned/operated), and the fact that smokable products won’t be included. 

What’s next? Last week, Governor Evers suggested he would support an incremental approach to legalization, if that’s what Republicans were comfortable with. 

But it’s unclear if Evers will support such a restrictive medical cannabis regime. What is certain is that Wisconsin has to do something.

Neighboring states are legal (Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois) and those states are welcoming Wisconsinites with open cannabis arms, meaning Wiconsin is missing out on the ability to collect those sweet, sweet tax dollars. 

Canadian market growing (and shrinking) pains

What's happening: Since 2018, Canadian cannabis operators have destroyed over 3.7 million pounds of cannabis, primarily due to a supply-demand imbalance in the market, according to MJ Biz Daily.

Wait, what? When the Canadian adult-use market was ramping up, everybody and their mother wanted to build big greenhouses to grow all the cannabis the market could handle.

While building greenhouses might have been good for market cap, there were way too many square feet of canopy for an unproven, not-yet-legal market. 

The result? A massive oversupply of cannabis in Canada, hence the destruction of millions of pounds of cannabis since 2018.

Lessons learned: This massive destruction is indicative of industry oversupply, reflecting challenges in matching production with consumer demand and the evolving market dynamics. 

Canada is still learning their lesson, but are other, newer markets?

We’ve seen Oregon deal with cannabis oversupply a number of times. But will New York and other markets face similar challenges? 

Time will tell.

Strong, consistent sales good for Maryland (but not so much for DC)

Catching up: To much fanfare, Maryland legalized adult-use cannabis in July 2023, building on a strong medical cannabis foundation and allowing/encouraging medical cannabis dispensaries to have dual-licenses (medical and adult-use). 

Since July: Sales have been growing since legalization in Maryland. In fact, according to CBS News in Baltimore, sales have more than doubled since July 2023.

It’s important to note, that while Maryland sales have grown considerably, there has been commensurate shrinkage to DC cannabis sales, according to data from DC’s Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration.

So what?: Maryland took an approach to legalization that went legal first with already-operating medical dispensaries and are now opening up the adult-use only licenses and bolstering the supply chain.

This approach allowed for consumers to buy cannabis on day one of legalization, as opposed to creating a supply chain bottleneck and a long wait for dispensaries - like New York.  

 🥊 Quick hits

Cannabis distributor Humble & Fume gets creditor protection | MJ Biz Daily 

Marijuana smell isn’t enough to search car, South Carolina Senator poses new bill | WSOC-TV 

Colorado enacts new laws and regulations for marijuana industry | MJ Biz Daily 

DeSantis says he would ‘respect the decisions that states make’ on marijuana legalization, despite personal opposition | Marijuana Moment

📚 What we’re reading

Nevada marijuana consumption lounges could soon become industry’s ‘New Frontier,’ former top regulator says | Marijuana Moment 

At rural Maine marijuana grow, cops find Asian passports, plane tickets from China, and stolen electricity | The Maine Wire 

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