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The ‘dominoes’ of federal cannabis reform

Plus, federal officials seize cannabis in New Mexico

Good morning.

We hope you all had a good eclipse and that your retinas are still intact. Ours are still buzzing from the craziness in New York cannabis last week

Let’s get to it. 

- Jeremy Berke & Jay Rosenthal

💡What’s the big deal?

CO Governor says rescheduling, banking are ‘dominoes’

What happened: Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, said at a National Cannabis Industry Association event in Denver last week that while federal legalization is the goal, rescheduling and banking reform are crucial “dominoes” to set that process in motion. 

Colorado was one of the first states to legalize and effectively regulate cannabis, and Polis has been a strong supporter of the industry. 

What he’s saying: “Through the legalization of cannabis in Colorado, we put great regulations in place. It’s long past time that the federal government reclassify it,” he said at the Denver event. “Is there more that they can do after that? Of course. But let’s begin with the reclassification that will make our communities safer, expanding freedoms for people, reduce costs and taxes on cannabis businesses.” 

Why it matters: Polis is a big-state governor and a rising star in the Democratic Party. He’s someone that top party leaders, like President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will listen to — and someone who’s attuned to the will of voters in a purple-ish state.

Many cannabis companies and industry trade groups are supportive of the SAFER Banking Act, a cannabis banking reform bill, and of moving cannabis from the most-strict Schedule I to the less-strict Schedule III of the federal Controlled Substances Act. They say these moves will normalize the industry, reduce tax burdens, and make doing business easier.

But some advocates say these moves are too limited and will benefit financial interests more than they will advance the social justice goals of legalization, like removing criminal penalties and creating economic opportunities for lower-income and minority groups who’ve suffered disproportionately under prohibition.  

The final word: Democracy, particularly in the US, is slow, messy, and imperfect. While rescheduling and banking reform are a far cry from legalization, it’s perhaps the best we’re going to do with this government. 

Incremental change might be the only path forward — even if it’s far from perfect.


🥊 Quick hits

Federal officials seized thousands of dollars worth of cannabis and detained workers in New Mexico, Marijuana Moment reports. New Mexico cannabis businesses reported more than a dozen seizures by the US Customs and Border Protection. 

Despite a lot of hand-wringing, it doesn’t seem likely Thailand will recriminalize cannabis — but the rules are set to get a lot stricter as competing bills work their way through the government, according to The Bangkok Post

New York State lawmakers are advocating for a $500,000 fund to help social equity entrepreneurs get their businesses up-and-running as part of the state budget.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) issued a $200,000 fine to the Cannabis Xpress chain of stores for giving some brands preferential treatment on store shelves. 

Detecting THC in bodily fluids like blood, saliva, breath, or urine isn’t indicative of impairment, according to new research published in the Journal of AOAC. 

And in other cannabis science news, researchers found that more than 90% of “smokable hemp” products contain more than 0.3% THC — the legal threshold — and should be qualified as illegal cannabis.

📰 What we’re reading

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