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Minnesota says yes to hemp-infused drinks at breweries

Plus, Michigan, California, and Texas

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Good morning. 

We hope your week is off to a great start.

And while it’s the dog days of summer, cannabis never slows down.

Let’s get to it.

-JB, JR, & CB 

This newsletter is 1192-words or about a 6-minute read. 

💡What’s the big deal?

Minnesota breweries can sell THC 🍺

What happened: Minnesotans can now saddle up to the bar and order a tall, refreshing pint of THC.

A new Minnesota law, effective July 1, allows breweries to sell hemp-derived THC-infused drinks on tap, expanding from the previous restriction of only selling them in cans, reports CBS News.

What they’re saying: “Having it on tap gives us so many different options for our consumers to taste it, to try it, to enjoy one while they're here on site," Dan Schnabel, a manager at Headflyer Brewing, told CBS.  "It's more approachable because not everybody necessarily wants to come in and purchase an entire can and drink an entire can.”

Back up for a second: Hemp-derived THC is technically federally legal, which allows producers more leeway into how and where they sell products, compared to their traditional cannabis counterparts.

Minnesota’s change follows the legalization of THC edibles derived from hemp, with regulations limiting THC content to 5 milligrams per serving and 50 milligrams per package. 

Hemp-derived THC products are big business in Minnesota. Last year, the state pulled in nearly $10 million in tax revenue from infused edibles and drinks — and that number is only set to grow, reports Minnpost

Hemp vs weed: Though hemp-derived THC is widely available in Minnesota, traditional dispensaries aren’t set to open in the state until early next year. 

Some say that these hemp-derived products are the tip of the spear — that consumers will be used to seeing THC-infused products at their favorite stores and breweries, so may be more open to trying cannabis products.

Others question how and why hemp-derived sellers aren’t subject to the same onerous taxes and restrictions as traditional cannabis firms, and say that the industry was only accidentally created through a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill passed by Congress.

Minnesota is perhaps the biggest test case of all this, as hemp-derived products have exploded in the state ahead of legalization and regulators have been caught on the back foot. 

The state is retroactively requiring these sellers to register with the state, though few have filed complete taxes, per CBS.

Our take: Whether hemp-derived or regular old weed, THC is THC and the products are effectively the same in terms of the effect on the consumer.

But hemp-derived THC involves a more convoluted chemical process to get the desired compound. It’s often up to businesses themselves to take on the burden of selling clean, responsible products to consumers — and not all of them do. 

We worry that some companies, looking to make a quick buck, will sell products that make people sick in the absence of a legal, regulated supply chain. Any space where consumers have to rely on the goodwill of businesses is a risky space. That’s where strict regulations can help, for consumer safety, and for the long-term integrity of the industry.

Ultimately, we’d like to see cannabis federally legalized, so consumers can enjoy the safest, cleanest, and purest products possible without jumping through chemically-derived hoops. 

Absent that, it’s still a win for cannabis more broadly that Minnesotans will be able to order THC at the brewery.

And more: Read more about the tricky politics of the hemp versus cannabis industries in our June 3 newsletter and watch our Cultivated Live with Adam Terry, the CEO of Cantrip , a hemp-infused seltzer company.


🗣️ Quote of the day

“This fight for cannabis is not only for medical security or people’s rights but also for destroying the monopoly of politicians taking (its) benefits away from the people,” Prasitchai Nunuan, a representative of a pro-cannabis network in Thailand, told The Associated Press

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s push to re-criminalize recreational cannabis use — two years after decriminalization — has sparked several protests. 

Nearly 100 advocates marched to the prime minister’s office to protest the policy change. Protesters argued that re-criminalizing cannabis would benefit a few interest groups at the expense of the broader population and hurt the economy, particularly the tourism and farming sectors. Read more.

Quick hits

Michigan to 🔗 medical and recreational weed
A new bipartisan bill in Michigan aims to align medical cannabis regulations with those for recreational use, streamlining the process into a single set of rules and would require only one license per activity. Read more

CA cannabis in wake of new law 📜
California cannabis brands and retailers are adapting to a new law that mandates environmentally responsible packaging and disposal of vape products. This law requires vape products to be disposed of at hazardous waste facilities. Read more

Bastrop on its way to decriminalization 🚂
Activists in Bastrop, Texas, submitted over 600 signatures to place a decriminalization initiative on the local November ballot, surpassing the required 400 signatures. This move follows similar efforts in other Texas cities. Read more

New report from NIST 📝
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a new report as part of its Cannabis Laboratory Quality Assurance Program (CannaQAP), focusing on accurate cannabinoid content testing in cannabis plant material. The report highlights the need for precise calibration and consistent testing methods across laboratories to ensure reliable results. Read more.

🤝 Deals, launches, and partnerships

Planet 13 Holdings Inc., a Las Vegas cannabis retailer, is partnering with UFC fighters to soon announce its first “cannabis-friendly” Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) athlete sponsorship. This partnership comes as the UFC recently removed cannabis from their banned substances lists.

📊 Earnings round-up

Northeast cannabis brand Fernway reported strong second-quarter results with $10.2 million in wholesale revenue and an estimated annualized retail GMV of over $85 million, showing a 135% year-over-year growth

🧪 Science & research

A new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open found that concurrent use of tobacco and cannabis is linked to more psychological problems than use of either substance alone among teens.

The study’s authors say that programs aimed at teens for stopping tobacco or cannabis use should acknowledge this and include mental health support.

A disclaimer: The study’s cross-sectional nature means it can show associations but not necessarily causation. More studies are needed to determine causal relationships.

😜 One fun thing

Benzinga’s Javier Hasse is writing a book! Here’s a sneak peek on X.

📰 What we’re reading

Waking up to legal weed | The Dispatch 

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