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An 8 minute read edited by JB and JR
OHIO REPUBLICANS TRY REINING IN LEGALIZATION
Ohio Republicans seem to think they know better than the voters
Driving the news: A new bill introduced in the Ohio statehouse this week by Republican State Rep. Gary Click would allow municipal governments to ban non-medical cannabis consumption and growing at home, News Nation reports.
You can read the full text of HB341 here.
Back up: Allowing municipalities to opt out of legalization isn’t new. For example, multiple towns on Long Island in New York voted to opt out of allowing recreational cannabis shops.
Other states have left it up to the towns themselves. But outright barring recreational marijuana use, in private homes, in otherwise legal states would be a first for Ohio, if this bill passes.
Why it's happening: The move comes as Ohio Republicans have sought to revise the legalization bill passed by voters in November.
Ohio’s Senate President, Matt Huffman, previously sought to erase the “social equity” considerations of the bill, which are designed to give minorities and those harmed by the War on Drugs preferential access to the lucrative industry.
But instead, the state’s Senate passed a bill that actually expands legalization by adding automatic expungements, protecting home cultivation, and may allow Ohioans to purchase recreational cannabis from medical dispensaries in as little as 90 days.
What they’re saying: “I think the people have spoken,” Ohio Sen. Rob McColley said, after he and other State Senators received hundreds of phone calls and emails to pass the bill.
Our take: Expect this to be a fight in Ohio. The voters passed Issue 2, which legalized cannabis in the state, 57% to 43%. It’s a bit insulting for some Republicans to seemingly suggest 57% of Ohioans didn’t know what they’re voting for.
Research shows that there are numerous economic benefits in terms of taxes and job creations when towns allow legal dispensaries to open. If some towns don’t want to capture those benefits, neighboring towns will be more than happy to keep all the jobs and revenue to themselves.
And enforcing recreational cannabis consumption in a legal state seems like an uphill battle. For laws to work, they have to be sensibly enforced. This might be a losing battle for Ohio Republicans.
CALIFORNIA’S ILLICIT CANNABIS STORES SELL TAINTED PRODUCTS
Illegal dispensaries persist in California over seven years into legalization
Driving the news: Illicit California dispensaries are selling products tainted with pesticides, according to a study conducted by cannabis telehealth platform NuggMD.
To generate the study, NuggMD purchased 18 cannabis products from illegal dispensaries. They tested each product for pesticides, heavy metals, potency, heavy metals, and other toxins with SC Labs.
They found that 11 of the 18 products failed for one or more pesticides. Heavy metals and bacteria were present in two of the samples, Politico reports.
Our take: Despite California legalizing cannabis in 2016, the illegal dispensaries still comprise at least half — and up to two-thirds, according to some estimates — of cannabis purchases.
Expect regulators to use studies such as these to lead more enforcement of illegal dispensaries. It’s a public health issue — you don’t want to be combusting and inhaling plant material that’s covered in pesticides.
While no one has reported falling ill (thankfully) yet, it might only be a matter of time. For new states developing their cannabis policy frameworks, channeling as many sales as quickly as possible to the legal market — where products are regulated, even though the testing regime is far from perfect — should be a paramount goal.
The patchwork of legal states in the US poses problems
What's happening: Cannabis is unlike any other consumer product in the US.
What’s legally sold in Michigan, for instance, could still receive criminal penalties a few miles away in Wisconsin, reports M Live, a local Michigan news outlet.
That creates even more problems for people like Heather Robertson, who works for a Michigan dispensary but lives in Wisconsin. Robertson says she’s been pulled over for numerous, shaky reasons including having a loud exhaust system, when driving to and from work.
Take the 4/20 holiday, for instance.
What they’re saying: “Wisconsin is such a big supporter and … exporter of alcohol. … That’s our thing. That’s what everybody knows Wisconsin (for). We’re voted the drunkest state all the time,” Kay Lynn Olesen, a 22-year-old Wisconsin resident who received a ticket in Wisconsin for cannabis legally purchased in Michigan told M Live.
Why it matters: There are no legal consumer products regulated quite like cannabis in the US. While there are still dry counties, alcohol is not considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance. But having a closed bottle of liquor in your car in a dry county likely won’t come with any sort of criminal penalty.
This is the unfortunate side effect of the federal government letting states lead on legalization. Without a coherent framework, otherwise law-abiding citizens like Robertson will keep getting hassled on their way too and from work.
And the dangers of frequent traffic stops and police interactions are heightened for minorities.
WHAT WE’RE READING
🥊 Quick hits
New York State won a court victory against the unlicensed “I’m Stuck” chain of cannabis dispensaries, which was accused of operating illegally through what’s known as the “gifting” loophole, where cannabis is “gifted” to customers as part of a paid consultation. The court levied a permanent injunction against the dispensary chain and ordered a year-long closure.
Cannabis brand 1906 settled a lawsuit with a consumer who said that the company’s “Midnight” sleep aid caused her to have liver problems. The product’s formulation includes tetrahydropalmatine, which can cause liver damage at high doses.
DEAL OR NO DEAL
🚀 Deals, launches, and partnerships
Canadian cannabis company BZAM will acquire Final Bell Holdings’ Canadian operations, the companies announced. The deal will form the fifth largest Canadian licensed producer, according to the press release.
Ascend Wellness opened its third dispensary in Ohio ahead of legalization.
The Cannabist Co will open a dispensary in a former liquor store in Richmond, Virginia early next year.
🕺🏼 Moves and shakes
Chris Tholkes, the head of Minnesota’s Office of Medical Cannabis, is stepping down to take a job with the city of Minneapolis’s health department, The Star Tribune Reports.
Total cannabis sales in the US are up over $2 billion this year, amounting to a 13% gain, compared to 2022, according to data from BDSA, a cannabis analytics firm, and highlighted by The Weed CFO account on X.