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Why Biden should legalize it, according to political science

Plus, it's cannabis earnings season, a new survey on weed use in America, and more.

Hi everyone,

I’ve got some big news today: Cultivated is expanding!

It’s been a blast putting this newsletter together and experimenting in public over the last few months. I’ve really enjoyed the complete editorial freedom and the ability to write what I want, when I want.1 

The discipline to produce something quality at least once week has made me a better writer, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading.

The feedback from the first few thousand subscribers has been overwhelming. It’s a clear signal that I have something here that all of you in the cannabis industry like and find helpful for your jobs.

So I’m going all in. But juggling everything on my own has been tough, especially when I’m trying to produce original work.

Alright, so what’s the deal?

I’m so excited to say I’m partnering with Jay Rosenthal, an old friend from the industry who many of you probably know.

Jay founded the Business of Cannabis, a Toronto-based cannabis industry media platform acquired in Prohibition Partners in 2021.

In other words, Jay knows the playbook, and he knows how to build a media company. And I know how to fill the gaps in a fragmented cannabis media landscape and write great stories.

This means that Cultivated is changing: It’s no longer going to be just me writing and selling a few ads and subscriptions on the side.

We’re building Cultivated Media, the must-read, 5-minute daily newsletter for cannabis industry and policy professionals.

Eventually, we’re going to use the newsletter as the backbone of a full-scale editorial and B2B cannabis media company, in the same vein as business media companies I admire, like The Peak and Morning Brew. But that will take time, so stay tuned for more announcements on that front.

What are you and Jay going to do?

I’ll be the editor-in-chief, writing much of what you’ll see moving forward and ensuring that our editorial voice stays close to Cultivated’s mission: Helping cannabis industry professionals do their jobs, while holding the industry’s power players accountable, and (hopefully) providing something fun, fascinating, or insightful along the way.

Jay will be the publisher and managing director, in charge of bringing in revenue, making sure the trains run on time, and supporting Cultivated’s editorial mission.

But as with all startups, we’ll wear many hats in the beginning: We’ll both be writing the newsletter every day.

I’m confident Jay and I are going to make a great team.

So, what does this mean for you?

Starting next week you’ll get the Cultivated Daily newsletter each morning in your inbox. You won’t have to do anything — you’re already signed up.

We’re also moving off of Substack to Beehiiv, which gives us more tools to collaborate and build a real business. Substack has been fantastic as a solo operator so far, but ultimately Beehiiv has more attractive features.

It also means that for now, I’m putting paid subscriptions on pause, so you won’t be charged for the next billing cycle. I can’t thank all of you enough that forked over your hard-earned money to support me and my mission.

You all allowed me to start following my journalist-founder dreams, and I’m really grateful for it.

At least in the short term, I’m going to have my hands full with the daily and will be doing less original reporting, though I do still have lots of story ideas I’ll get to where and when I can.

But I want to ensure that I’m delivering you lots of value for your paid subscription. So when we have enough capacity to flip the switch back on, you’ll be the first to know.

I can’t wait for Cultivated’s next step and I hope you’re all just as excited as I am.


Today’s Cultivated is sponsored by The 2023 New York Grower’s Cup.

Great news: The 2023 New York Growers Cup awards show and reception is coming up on Friday, December 1st in beautiful Brooklyn, New York! Tickets are on sale right now!

The New York Growers Cup is an annual, statewide competition that elevates New York’s best cannabis growers. The New York Growers Cup awards show and reception celebrates those growers, and connects them with New York's core cannabis community: Operators and consumers.

Get your tickets here — and I’ll see you there.

💡What’s the big deal?

On the heels of Ohio’s landslide win for cannabis, some political scientists much smarter than I am are saying what’s becoming obvious: President Biden should pivot to legalization.

Here’s Bloomberg opinion columnist Jonathan Bernstein, on how the Biden/Harris campaign could adopt a similar strategy that Obama/Biden did with same-sex marriage:

For a long time, it made sense for Biden to lag behind public opinion on this issue, even if it promised short-term positive publicity. Presidents polarize. Had Biden run on legalization in 2020, or moved strongly toward it early in his presidency, he would have risked hardening opposition among Republicans. It also would have hurt the prospects for change and canceled out any public opinion advantages. It made more sense for him to oppose legalization as a candidate in 2020, and have taken only modest steps in that direction as president.

The numbers, as I wrote last week, don’t lie, per Gallup:

  • 70% of Americans support legalization, including 87% of Democrats.

  • 55% of Republicans support legalization.

  • Including Ohio, 24 states and more than half the US population live in states where cannabis is legal.

Yes, but: Clearly, there are bigger things going on in the world than cannabis legalization.

It’s about the fifth or sixth thing down most politician’s daily priority list, even those who publicly support it.

But, according to Bernstein, Biden can use his bully pulpit to force the uncomfortable conversation among many Republicans, who don’t support legalization, even though their voters do.

That’s the type of issue that can help win close elections on the margins.

🥊 Quick hits

The injunction on opening up new pot shops in New York is set to be lifted, MJBizDaily reports.

The market for hemp-derived cannabinoids is larger than all state-legal cannabis markets and rivals the craft beer industry in the US, according to a new report from Whitney Economics.

Sixty-one percent of institutional investors surveyed by the investment bank ATB say rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III is the top factor for moving money into US cannabis companies.

🧪 Science and research

The yearly National Survey on Drug Use and Health Data (NSDUH) was released on Monday.

The study looks at broad, self-reported survey data about drug use and mental health in the US.

What are the key findings?

  • 61.9 million or 22% of Americans used cannabis in the past year.

  • Americans prefer smoking cannabis to other consumption methods: 78% indicated they smoke, followed by 47% who prefer eating or drinking their cannabis.2

  • Vaping was third, at 37%.

  • About 1 in 5 people between the age of 12 and 20 vaped cannabis last year.

  • Overall, teen use remained relatively steady: 6.4 of 12-17 year olds used cannabis in the past month, compared to 6.1% the year prior.

More research: A new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports found that compared to states where recreational cannabis was illegal, legalizing cannabis for recreational use was associated with nearly a 50% decrease in the adjusted odds of cannabis use disorder.

📈 Market moves

It’s cannabis earnings season for the third quarter. Here are some highlights from the big names:

  • Green Thumb Industries reports $10.8 million in net income on $275 million revenue.

  • Curaleaf reports a $92 million net loss on $332 million revenue.

  • Cresco Labs reports a $113 million net loss on $191 million revenue.

  • Ayr Wellness reports a $19.2 million net loss on $114 million revenue.

📚 What I’m reading