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National News - July 2019

Congress Takes Steps To Protect Legal States From The Feds

The democratic controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted recently to block the Federal Justice Department from interfering with states that have passed adult use marijuana laws. The 267-165 bipartisan vote is a relief to Cannabis Advocates who had attempted, unsuccessfully, to press the idea to the previous GOP controlled House. Lawmakers had previously enacted similar protections for the 47 states with legal medical cannabis laws, However this is a first for the 11 states with recreational laws. During his confirmation hearing in January, Attorney General William Barr stated that the Justice Department would not be pursuing any marijuana businesses within states with legal cannabis laws, despite the federal prohibition. Vowing that he will not use the already limited resources of the federal government to target legally ran and operated cannabis businesses.

Illinois Becomes The 11th State To Pass Recreational Marijuana

Illinois recently passed a bill for adult use recreational marijuana, becoming the 11th state in the nation, and 2nd in the midwest to do so. The bill allows for Illinois residents 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, allows tourists to possess up to 15 grams, and those with any past convictions for possession of up to 30 grams can have their record expunged. “Cannabis criminalization in Illinois is coming to an end. While this bill isn’t perfect, it does provide a pathway for adults to legally obtain and consume cannabis. It also expands access and rights for qualified medical patients. Importantly, the bill provides much needed relief to those most harmed by the legacy of prohibition and emphasizes giving those who have been most harmed by cannabis criminalization preference in establishing a foothold in this new industry,” said Illinois NORML Executive Director Dan Linn. “We are confident that this is the best bill we could get through the legislature at this time, but are adamant that Illinois must enact additional protections in the future, in particular the right of adults to home grow personal use amounts of cannabis,” he added.

U.S Cannabis Jobs Expected To Increase By 34% By The End of 2019

The number of full time cannabis employees in the United States is expected to skyrocket by 34% with a potential to reach well over 200,000 workers by the end of 2019. That is more than the number of U.S. Flight Attendants, and more than double the amount of veterinarians. The newly released 2019 Marijuana Business Factbook estimated that the number of full time cannabis workers in the U.S. was between 130,000 and 160,000 in 2018, and is expected to increase anywhere between 175,000 to 215,000 by the end of 2019. Wages have also begun to increase as well due to supply and demand trends, more and more emerging companies are offering competitive wages for experienced cannabis workers.

Black Market Cannabis Continues To Thrive In The U.S. 

Despite the sweeping legalization trends and advocating efforts for federal legalization the black market continues to thrive throughout the United States.  Even though they have access to legal, and tested products it seems that some people are equally as likely to obtain their cannabis through black market means as they are to obtain it through a legally ran business. This trend is becoming a significant problem to those that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain the right to own a legal business. A U.S. company which specializes in data for the cannabis market, Consumer Research Around Cannabis, recently released data that tracked where consumers were obtaining their products from. Here are a few trends that were noted in recreational markets;
  • Denver, Colorado: In Summer, 2018, 9.4% of survey respondents were still purchasing cannabis non-legally, a small incline from 9.2% the previous year. In comparison, 28.4% were purchasing from legal markets in 2018, up from 26.6% the previous year.

  • Las Vegas, Nevada: Illicit market purchases rose from 9.7% to 12.8% from Spring to Fall 2018. At the same time, legal purchases rose from 21.5% to 29%.

  • Seattle, Washington: Purchases in the illegal market rose from 7.8% to 10.3% from Winter 2018 to Winter 2019. Purchases in the legal markets rose from 25.6% to 28.6% during this time period.

New York Decriminalizes Cannabis After Legalization Efforts Failed

The New York State Senate recently passed a bill to decriminalize the possession of less than 2 ounces of cannabis after full legalization efforts failed. The bill will also help to establish procedures to expunge the records of most misdemeanor non violent cannabis convictions. As many as 600,000 people, mostly african american and latino, could benefit from the bill. State Senator Jamaal Bailey (D-Bronx), who sponsored the bill, said “In New York State, people of color are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession, The misdemeanor charge for public view of marijuana possession gives those people convicted a criminal record that will follow them throughout their lives, potentially limiting their access to housing, access to education, affecting their ability to obtain employment, all leading to a potential inability to provide for their families.” Legalization would have allowed for the framework of a legal cannabis market, which would have allowed for tax revenue within the state, however the bill did not receive enough votes to pass, so lawmakers decided that decriminalization would be the next best thing. Bailey called decriminalization a “step in the right direction in finally ending the heavy-handed war on drugs that has decimated communities of color.”

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