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🇺🇸 Partisan pot politics at play?

White House to host a cannabis roundtable

Good morning.

The politics of cannabis has been on a slow simmer for some time. But since the State of the Union last week, the heat has been turned up, especially in Washington. Today, we see some of the political moves happening inside the cannabis Beltway.

Plus, join us at 10 am for Cultivated Live on LinkedIn and YouTube. We’ll be connecting with Krista Raymer of Vetrina talking about how cannabis retailers should think about merchandising their websites.

- JR

💡What’s the big deal?

White House doubling down on cannabis

If you thought the mention of cannabis in the State of the Union was a one-off for the Biden White House, you were wrong. 

What’s happening: Vice President Kamala Harris is hosting a cannabis round-table discussion on Friday with a group that’s received cannabis pardons, as well as Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear – who is leading a similar effort in his home state.

Why it matters: The days and weeks following the State of the Union are a time when Presidents and their administrations set off to double down on the key themes of the annual speech. 

This year is especially important to morph the State of the Union into the November General Election. It’s why President Biden went to the battleground state of Georgia almost immediately following the speech. 

So, for cannabis reform to be part of the post-State of the Union comms plan, signals that the White House and the Biden-Harris ticket are putting cannabis reform near front-and-center in the campaign.

The round-table: The roundtable event happening this Friday was first reported by Reuters, including the fact that rapper Fat Joe, a pardon recipient, would be in attendance.

Marijuana Moment dove deeper with an exclusive interview with another attendees, Chris Goldstein, who said: “President Nixon declared a war on people over the premise of drugs. As a Quaker I’m an optimist about civics and I’ve been working to end federal marijuana prohibition for 25 years…So it’s an honor to be invited into the White House in 2024 as President Biden and Vice President Harris looks towards the future of cannabis policy.”

What’s next: As always, as an industry we await both Senate action on SAFER Banking, which the Senate Majority Leader has said is a priority to bring up before the November election, and the rescheduling decision from the DEA

Bottom line: The Biden White House and the Biden-Harris Presidential campaign is not shying away from cannabis on the campaign trail. 

🎒 What we’re reading

Some Republicans want to slam the DC cannabis door

Driving the news: Writing for The Free Press, two former Republican Administration officials are taking on legalization - not just on the federal level, but state legalizations plans too. 

Who wrote it: In a piece titled, Weed Is Dangerous. Legalizing It Was a Mistake, former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr is joined by John Walters, former member of the President George W. Bush’s cabinet as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, make their best case against legalization. 

What they’re saying: The piece is a long list of (mostly tired) reasons why legalization hasn’t worked and won’t work, including the social toll of legalization, the bad experiences in states like California and Colorado, and the negative health impacts. 

Why it matters: Barr and Walters are both serious people and sought-after thought-leaders in the Republican Party on issues of justice and policy. The fact that they are now speaking out against legalization could give anti-legalization Republicans both political cover and policy ammunition.

Recall that there is already a group of Senators voicing concern over rescheduling: The anti-pot Petes start strategizing 

What’s next: As noted in the first story up top, Washington is waiting for two key shoes to (hopefully) drop: SAFER Banking and rescheduling.

Republicans appear clearly nervous that the twin legalization policy wins will put wind in Democratic sails in an election year, and they’re trying to blunt that wind preemptively. 

📊 Earnings round-up

This is earnings season in cannabis, and yesterday was a busy one, in descending order of relative size:

  • Cresco announced it’s looking at new markets like Florida, but also posted a $180 million loss in 2023.  

  • Jushi announced a total revenue of $269.4 with a net loss of $65.1 million.

  • springbig announced their earnings and revenue was up 5% from previous year while net losses were down from $13.1 million to $10.2 million over the same period.

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