Now that the presents are all unwrapped and the eggnog is finished, it’s time to look forward to the new year and a new dawn for the cannabis industry. But, before we can do that, we still have a few more days left in 2020, which means, knowing this year, anything can happen. And knowing this year, it probably will.
While the rest of us were celebrating the holiday season, a few enterprising reporters were still out grabbing the big stories in the cannabis space, including one juicy one showing how the boon in state-level legalization has led to sweeping corruption among small time politicians. Following the pattern so far, it looks like 2020 will end with a bang and not a whimper.
Let’s check out some of the biggest stories in the cannabis space today.
How state marijuana legalization became a boon for corruption (Politico)
Politico writes: “In the past decade, 15 states have legalized a regulated marijuana market for adults over 21, and another 17 have legalized medical marijuana. But in their rush to limit the numbers of licensed vendors and give local municipalities control of where to locate dispensaries, they created something else: A market for local corruption.
Almost all the states that legalized pot either require the approval of local officials — as in Massachusetts — or impose a statewide limit on the number of licenses, chosen by a politically appointed oversight board, or both. These practices effectively put million-dollar decisions in the hands of relatively small-time political figures — the mayors and councilors of small towns and cities, along with the friends and supporters of politicians who appoint them to boards. And these strictures have given rise to the exact type of corruption that got Correia in trouble with federal prosecutors. They have also created a culture in which would-be cannabis entrepreneurs feel obliged to make large campaign contributions or hire politically connected lobbyists.”
House Democrats’ Marijuana Decriminalization Vote Is Huge—and Not Enough (The Nation)
The Nation writes: “Early this December, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would expunge low-level cannabis convictions, remove pot from the Controlled Substances Act, and impose a 5 percent tax on legal marijuana sales, directing some of that revenue into grants that help those the bill identifies as “adversely impacted” by racist drug prohibition laws take advantage of the legal pot marketplace. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that from 2021 to 2030, the law “would reduce time served by 73,000 person-years, among existing and future” federal inmates. It’s one significant (though imperfect) step toward undoing the “legacy of racial and ethnic injustices…of 80 years of cannabis prohibition enforcement,” according to the bill’s sponsors.
And yet the legislation was met with mockery and derision by congressional Republicans, who registered their opposition through statements dripping with disingenuous concern-trolling, unscientific fearmongering, and insincere indignation.”
It may be legal, but high prices and inconvenience may drive black-market marijuana for years (Bangor Daily News)
The Daily News writes: “In the first two months of legal marijuana sales, Maine has generated more than $2.4 million in revenue, a figure that’s only expected to grow as more than 200 retailers await licensure.
But high prices and a lack of supply are driving many Maine cannabis consumers back to the streets, where weed remains much cheaper and plentiful. The state stands to lose millions in cannabis revenue in the coming years before the recreational supply here catches up with demand and retail prices finally begin to drop for consumers.”
Legalizing adult-use cannabis to provide a second chance (Buck County Courier Times)
The Courier Times writes: “Earlier this year, House Bill 2050 was introduced — a measure to allow for the legal sale of adult-use cannabis through a permitting structure for growers, processors and dispensaries.
There are several great components contained in this bill, including provisions to help our youth, support for affordable housing and resources to help minority and women-owned businesses. In addition, it would provide a much-needed influx of revenue to our state at a time when we face significant economic challenges.
Unfortunately, one component of the bill that got lost in the media attention following its introduction is the Cannabis Clean Slate initiative, which would provide for the expungement of cannabis-related offenses for nonviolent drug offenders.”
LeafLink CEO Reflects On 2020, An 'Incredibly Resilient' Cannabis Industry And Hiring In 2021 (Benzinga)
Benzinga writes: “It seems that cannabis is one of a few bright spots in the tumultuous year we are leaving behind. From being deemed “essential” during Covid-19 shutdowns to its big win on Election Day, cannabis is getting widely accepted.
And while retailers are trying to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for cannabis, wholesale marketplaces such as LeafLink are revolutionizing how the burgeoning industry operates.
Earlier this month, the New York-based company, which connects cannabis brands and retailers, secured $40 million in a Series C fundraising round led by Founders Fund, bringing its total funding to over $90 million.”