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The death knell for social justice and weed?

Plus, Sen. Warren 😉 on cannabis reform

Good morning.

We hope you had a restful and relaxing long weekend (and didn’t miss us too much in your inboxes yesterday morning)!

On Sunday, we announced the launch of our People Moves newsletter, in partnership with White Ash Group. Drop us a line and let us know what you think.

Let’s get to it. 

A 5-minute read from JB and JR

💡What’s the big deal?

 🗽NY, NY
The city’s eponymous magazine dives into the cannabis mess

Driving the news: New Yorker correspondent Jia Tolentino took a deep, and sometimes scathing, eye to what’s going on with New York’s social-justice focused cannabis program.

The results are worth a full read for anyone interested in cannabis legalization, and the promises and pitfalls of using legalization as a form of economic empowerment. 

What they’re saying: “If the O.C.M. built a profitable marijuana industry on a foundation of social equity, it could change the trajectory of national legalization. If it failed, people might see it as a death knell for social justice having anything to do with legal weed,” Tolentino wrote. 

The big takeaway: You’ve certainly read our perspective in this newsletter about the laudable goals, but miserably slow and rocky execution, of New York’s cannabis program.

The New Yorker’s perspective is similar. Red tape, lawsuits, and, perhaps, a lack of enforcement, have plunged New York’s once-exciting cannabis rollout into chaos.

Yes, and: In the story, we hear from a number of only-in-New York cannabis industry players: Kolektor, a Bronx-based former infantryman and expert grower who only shows up to public events in a ski mask, Coss Marte, who was imprisoned for drug trafficking and now runs a fitness study called Conbody and recently opened Conbud, a legal dispensary, as well as an art historian trying to open a dispensary, and more. 

Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner even makes an appearance. 

Read. It. All.  

📣 Quotable

“It’s been a rocky start to cannabis in 2024,” New York Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright said, opening up Friday’s long-awaited meeting. “We’ve read your letters and heard your concerns.”

At the meeting, the CCB approved 109 more cannabis business licenses — including microbusiness licenses — as well as proposed regulations for allowing New Yorkers to grow cannabis at home. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks de-scheduling hopes

Source: Elizabeth Warren for Senate

What happened: Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined Pod Save America — the podcast hosted by former Obama aides — where she discussed the progress of cannabis reform, particularly her push for de-scheduling.

Warren, the Massachusetts progressive, said she “won’t discuss private conversations,” with the federal government and the Drug Enforcement Administration regarding cannabis.

Host Jon Favreau pointed out that Warren winked. 

Back up: In January, twelve Senators, including Warren, wrote a letter to the DEA asking for updates about the cannabis rescheduling process. 

The letter went a step further, advocating for removing cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act entirely, rather than moving it from the most restrictive Schedule I to the less restrictive Schedule III, as the Department of Health and Human Services recommended last year.

The DEA has so far not responded to the letter, so it’s anyone’s guess if or when the agency — which holds all the cards here — will decide on cannabis. 

What they’re saying: “I really want to say to the DEA: Guys, come on. It is not 1958, and we don’t need to be terrified of this stuff. Let’s just deschedule it and go forward,” Warren said. 

So what’s next? Warren has repeatedly beat the drum for legalization. She says that Republicans have consistently blocked legalization in Congress.

It’s unlikely the Biden-appointed DEA head would go against what her own government recommends. But it’s taking a long time — and in the interim, we’re less-than-hopeful Congress will act.  

🚀 Quick hits

Boxer and cannabis entrepreneur Mike Tyson called on President Biden to “end cannabis prohibition once and for all,” in an interview with The Guardian

NYC Bud, a subway and generally public transit-themed dispensary, opened in Queens last week

Singer Tinashe partnered with cannabis firm Green Thumb Industries to develop her own strain: Green T. She posted some pictures of the growing process on X.

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