In this week’s cannabis news round-up, Oregon’s Rep. Blumenauer announces retirement after 27 years in Congress; New York expands medical cannabis retail licenses to MSOs; and Switzerland launches first legal cannabis dispensary in Europe.
Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR) Retiring After 27 Years in Congress
Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon who has served in the US House of Representatives for 27 years, announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election.
In a press release, he said it was a “difficult decision” but that “it’s time to continue my life’s mission without the burden of day-to-day politics.”
“I’ve dedicated my career to creating liveable communities where people are safe, healthy and economically secure,” he said in the release. “This mission has guided my involvement in Congress on a wide range of issues. I may best be known in Portland for work on light rail, streetcars and bicycles. But our work also included critical issues of war and peace, championing the fight to end the failed War on Drugs, helping to write the Affordable Care Act, rescuing independent restaurants, food and farm policy, animal welfare and writing the single largest investment in renewable energy in history.”
Blumenauer is a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and a vocal advocate for federal cannabis reform. He has been a key supporter of the SAFE Banking Act and the MORE Act, both of which would’ve legalized cannabis at the federal level.
In addition to his work on cannabis reform, Blumenauer has also been a leader on issues such as transportation, healthcare and climate change.
New York Expands Medical Cannabis Retail Licenses to MSOs
New York is expanding medical cannabis retail licenses to large multistate operators (MSOs) for the first time since the state launched MMJ sales in January 2016. The application window opened on October 31 and will run until December 19.
This move is likely to divide licensed adult-use retailers as well as hundreds of Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licensees and applicants who have been trying to open stores for months. However, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is hoping that the addition of MSOs will help to boost the state’s nascent adult-use market, which has been slow to start.
New York has one of the largest cannabis markets in the US, but its adult-use market has been slow to start. As of November 3, 2023, there are only 26 operational licensed adult-use retailers in the state.
The OCM hopes that adding MSOs will boost the adult-use market. MSOs have the experience and resources to open and operate retail stores quickly. They also have access to a wide range of cannabis products, which could help to increase consumer choice.
The OCM will review applications and make decisions based on the quality of the applications received and market needs. It is unclear how many licenses the OCM will award.
The addition of MSOs to the New York cannabis market is a significant development. It will likely have a major impact on the Empire State’s adult-use market. It remains to be seen how the expansion of licenses will affect consumers and businesses.
Switzerland Opens First Legal Cannabis Dispensary in Europe
Europe’s first legal cannabis dispensary has opened in Switzerland as part of a pilot project to study the effects of controlled access to cannabis. The dispensary, run by the Sanity Group and the Swiss Institute for Addiction and Health Research (ISGF), is located in the municipality of Allschwil, with another location to follow in Liestal.
“We’re pleased about the approval for the study in Baselland and the opportunity to make our contribution to social acceptance and knowledge transfer around the cannabis plant and its versatile uses,” said Finn Hänsel, CEO of Sanity Group, in a press release. “Our ambition to support the ISGF pilot project with our knowledge and experience as an internationally positioned cannabis company is primarily based on the promotion of research in the field of cannabis. Since the company was founded, our goal has been to further research the benefits of cannabis and destigmatize the plant. Together with the ISGF, we are developing concepts for safe sales based on health protection, youth protection and prevention. We expect interesting findings from the study—the results will be of international interest.”
Up to 3,950 healthy adults living in the Basel-Landschaft region will be able to participate in the study. Participants will be given a participation card to obtain cannabis from the dispensary and will be continually surveyed every six months on their consumption behavior and physical and mental health.
The study, titled “Grashaus Projects,” is scheduled to launch later this year and is expected to provide valuable insights into the responsible use of cannabis and serve as a basis for decisions on long-term regulation in Switzerland.