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Illegal grows in New Mexico linked with China

Plus, DEA might hold hearings about rescheduling

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Good morning. 

Today's newsletter was put to bed before the end of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. 

But we figured something out before the game: adult-use cannabis helps your NHL team make the playoffs. 

Want proof?

Of the 16 teams that made the playoffs this year, 10 have adult-use, legal cannabis and 5 do not. And because DC seems much closer to adult-use, legal in terms of their cannabis market, we’ll throw them in with the 10.

Where does that leave us?

11 to 5 in favor of NHL teams playing in jurisdictions with weed.

Let’s get to it.

-CB & JR

This newsletter is 901 words or about a 5-minute read. 

💡What’s the big deal?

Undocumented Chinese immigrants found working in NM weed farms

What happened: New Mexico state special agents discovered thousands of illegal cannabis plants and dozens of underfed, trafficked Chinese workers on a farm — Bliss Farm — in Torrance County, NM. 

The workers reported being trafficked, prevented from leaving, and unpaid. 

Back up: An issue that started in Maine… 

These trafficked workers are part of a new wave of migrants from China crossing into the US via Mexico. The migrants are looking for opportunities in the US after the COVID-19 global economic crisis. They often end up in cannabis farms due to the post-pandemic opportunities in the flourishing US cannabis market. 

An NPR investigation into New Mexico farms found many cannabis operations that are managed, funded by, and employ Chinese people. These businesses are eerily similar to the ones Sen. Susan Collins has pushed the federal government to crack down on in Maine — these are illegal operations allegedly run by Chinese cartels

Some of the businesses have run afoul of the law, even as states such as New Mexico have legalized. The persistence of these illegal operations continues to complicate the landscape for legal cannabis businesses.

What they’re saying: “They looked weathered,” said Lynn Sanchez, director of a New Mexico social services nonprofit, about the workers' condition. “They had burns, visible burns on their hands and arms… They looked very malnourished.” 

Director of New Mexico's Cannabis Control Division, Todd Stevens, described the farm as “a very disastrous grow” with numerous violations such as, “trash, water, fertilizers, nutrients, pesticides leaking into the ground.” 

A Bliss Farm worker highlighted the dire conditions, saying, “the farm said it would cover food and shelter, so you could save all your wages. But the farm was just a big dirt field.”

Why it matters: This situation underscores the severe exploitation within some sectors of the legal cannabis industry and highlights the broader issues of human trafficking and poor regulatory enforcement. 

Efforts to address human trafficking and improve regulatory oversight in the cannabis industry are crucial. 

What’s next: State authorities have revoked Bliss Farm’s license and imposed fines. The workers are seeking asylum in the US, and similar investigations are likely to continue to uncover and address such illegal operations.


💬 Quotable

“Some smaller companies fear it, because they think it’ll give more power to larger companies. Others want it,” David O’Brien, president of the 65-member Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association, said about the debate over Massachusetts’ cap on cannabis permits

The debate over Massachusetts' cap on marijuana permits centers on concerns about equity and market dominance. Initially, the cap on dispensaries was intended to prevent monopolies and help entrepreneurs from communities impacted by the war on drugs. However, discussions about relaxing this cap have created tension, with some believing it would aid struggling retailers, while others fear it would enable large corporations to monopolize the market, disadvantaging minority business owners.

Quick hits

DEA hearings?
Both opponents and (some) supporters of federal cannabis reform urge the DEA to hold public hearings on the proposed rescheduling of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III. Critics argue that the review process was flawed and understated the health risks — groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) are raising funds to support opposition efforts. The DEA has not yet decided on the final scheduling decision and is considering additional information from the public and possible hearings.

Dallas gets signatures
Dallas, Texas Activists submitted nearly 50,000 signatures to place a cannabis decriminalization initiative on the November ballot, hoping to decriminalize possession of up to four ounces of marijuana. Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton oppose local cannabis reforms, but polls indicate strong public support for decriminalization and legalization across Texas. Read more

Louisiana decriminalizes…paraphernalia
Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed bills to decriminalize marijuana paraphernalia and tighten regulations on hemp products. The paraphernalia law reduces penalties to a $100 fine, aligning with existing cannabis possession policy. While the governor vetoed a bill allowing pardons for past cannabis convictions, the new legislation aims to create fairer, more equitable cannabis-related laws. Read More.

📈 Deals, launches, partnerships

Cannaray Limited, its medical cannabis subsidiary Therismos, and Canadian cannabis grower Aqualitas are merging to create a new company called Wellford. The merger aims to boost sales in the UK and Germany, with a goal of making £60m this year. Wellford will produce and sell high-quality, organic medical cannabis directly to patients and pharmacies in Europe, focusing only on medical cannabis and not CBD products anymore

📰 What we’re reading

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