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New York cannabis business owners take aim at Big Tech

Plus, misinformation in Maryland, license declines, and more

Good morning.

Today, we take a look at why New York cannabis business owners aren’t happy with Google and Meta, and much more.

Also, tune in today at 10 am Eastern for Cultivated Live on LinkedIn or YouTube. Today, we’re talking “United States of Cannabis” specifically about cannabis politics in Florida with Brad Spirrison of Grown In and Sally Peebles of Vicente LLP

Let’s get to it.

A 5-minute read from JB and JR

💡What’s the big deal?

Are Meta and Google advertising illegal dispensaries?

Driving the news: New York cannabis shop owners are struggling to compete with the illicit market — and they say that big tech platforms aren’t helping.

When searching for “cannabis dispensaries” in New York City and elsewhere in the state, Google Maps, Meta’s Instagram, and even Yelp show illicit shops without any information showing that these shops aren’t legit.

They’re asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to intervene and are collecting signatures from New York cannabis business owners. 

What they’re saying: “If they are not licensed to sell cannabis, they should not have the right to advertise or market their services on Tik Tok, Yahoo and Google,” Jayson Tantalo, the co-founder of the New York Cannabis Retail Association told The New York Post

They say that Attorney General Letitia James — fresh off two big victories in court — could sue the tech giants under New York’s general business law which prohibits deceptive advertising. 

Why it matters: There are only about 75 licensed dispensaries open in a state of nearly 20 million people.

Already, illicit sellers are undercutting legal businesses, as they’re able to offer products more cheaply by not paying any tax or compliance costs. 

On top of that, cannabis businesses have few legitimate advertising channels as Google, Instagram, and Tik Tok have so far been unfriendly to the industry. 

Google and Meta have policies that specifically prohibit advertising cannabis sales, though actually enforcing that policy is more like a game of whack-a-mole than anything else. 

X, formerly known as Twitter, has been courting cannabis advertisements over the last few months — but that platform’s reach is much smaller.  

🎤 Quotable

“...A tornado of misinformation,” Maryland Democratic Rep. C.T. Wilson said, referring to county officials in the state who are seeking to block cannabis shops. “It becomes irresponsible at some point for some of the county officials to propagate these lies.” 

Wilson said these officials falsely claim their counties will be “flooded” with cannabis shops, though the state has rules designed to prevent that from happening. 

👊 Quick hits

The US Cannabis Council, an industry trade group, is accepting donations at cannabis firm Curaleaf’s retail outlets to help in its push for federal legalization. Sales rounded up to the nearest dollar will go to the organization. 

After years of double-digit growth, active cannabis business licenses declined for the first time in 2023, MJ Biz Daily reports

A new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence took a look at the relationship between treatment rates for cannabis use disorder and legalization laws.

🎒 What we’re reading

🤝 Deals, launches, partnerships

Burb Cannabis opened its doors near Vancouver’s University of British Columbia after a three-year wait.

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