June 22, 2020
The medical marijuana market acts as the backbone of the entire cannabis industry. A focus on the advancement of knowledge and availability of medical marijuana products is essential for the progress of the greater movement.
Join us on June 25 for a free, live CannaGather Digital: More Medical, More Money. You can RSVP here (use promo code jbdigital). This Thursday, we’ll chat with leaders in the medical marijuana industry. Joining us is Advent Academy President Brad Hunt, who has more than 20 years of experience managing insurance systems that track and model all aspects of risk identification, operations and claims management data. Advent Academy provides patients and clinicians with information about cannabis therapeutics and cannabinoid medicine.
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// CannaGather Calendar
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June 18 // The Asian Situation
Our live, online events feature insight from the cannabis industry’s top thought leaders and ensure our community stays up-to-date without leaving the house.
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A Breakdown of Recent Progress
Here’s a look at some recent cannabis reform efforts nationwide.
Federal: Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) urged Congress to legalize marijuana as part of police reform and racial injustice. Other members of Congress have made similar statements recently, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA). As we covered last week, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) sent a letter to other lawmakers asking them to consider cannabis reform as a part of racial justice.
New York: There have been recent calls to pass the Safer NY Act, a collection of previously introduced bills focused on policing reform, which also contains cannabis legalization.
New Jersey: On Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly approved a decriminalization bill. This would make possession of up to two ounces of cannabis punishable by a $50 fine and zero jail time. The approval comes ahead of a full legalization referendum happening in November.
Montana: The state’s November ballot could see legalization initiatives thanks to the collection of 130,000 signatures.
Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has officially signed three cannabis-related bills: An expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program, the protection of banks and credit unions that service cannabis businesses; and the protection of doctors who recommend medical marijuana.
Georgia: State Senate Democrats introduced a police reform bill last week called the Georgia Justice Act, which includes a provision to decriminalize “low-level marijuana possession.”
Adult-use Sales through May 2020
Almost halfway through the year, we are seeing unique trends in different adult-use markets.
The good news: In markets that focus on in-state residents, sales have been steadily rising. Washington‘s sales in March, April and May were up 28.5% compared to 2019. Sales in Oregon this year have been even more impressive. They passed the $100 million mark by May, with sales that month up 60% from last year. This is good news for the industry, as it suggests that cannabis consumption will continue to stay high during the ongoing pandemic and economic downturn.
The bad news: States that rely more heavily on tourism for cannabis sales have not been as fortunate, as the coronavirus outbreak brought travel to a near halt. Even so, in-state sales may have increased in these regions as well. Colorado‘s adult-use market was hit hard, but the state’s April medical marijuana sales (all in-state) reached $36 million, its best month since August 2017. In Nevada, the situation has been pretty bleak, as adult-use sales were down 25% year-over-year by May.
As for California, they continue to deal with a whole host of hurdles. While it’s the country’s largest adult-use market (May sales were $319M), their monthly sales growth compared to 2019 peaked in February.
What this means and why you care: This breakdown focuses on adult-use markets in the west of the country, each with unique opportunities and challenges. On a positive note, the fact that some are thriving and others are maintaining during this crisis is something to be hopeful about.
// Social Equity Spotlight
Change is Coming
The Last Prisoner Project focuses on three key criminal justice reform initiatives: prisoner release, record clearing through clemency and expungement, and reentry programs.
In their words: A core social justice focus is to release incarcerated cannabis prisoners. Data shows, however, that most released prisoners fail without the proper resources in place. Reentry programs reduce recidivism. A criminal record can be a significant barrier to employment, housing, financial assistance, and more. We help to clear cannabis prisoners record, given that those acts are now legal. Collectively these programs help cannabis prisoners become fully free.
“We will not rest and we will not stop until the last cannabis prisoner has been set free.”
About CannaGather’s Social Equity Spotlight: Each week, we will highlight a different organization that is working to enhance social equity efforts and promote minority owned businesses in the cannabis industry.
The Asian Situation
Last week, we teamed up with some high-profile members of the Asian cannabis community to chat about the racial divide in America and their experiences in the industry. Our guests included Hanu Labs CEO Seibo Shen, community activist Ophelia Chong, senior cannabis educator Keiko Beatie, and the Minority Cannabis Business Association’s Raj Chadler, along with CannaGather’s own Michele Ching.
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Written by Justin Bernstein