In this week’s cannabis news round-up, SAFE Baking Act read in the Senate; Missouri cannabis sales pass $2 billion; iconic NorCal event the Emerald Cup announces its 2023 honorary award winners and the EU continues to stall on legalization.
Missouri’s Combined Cannabis Sales Exceed $1 Billion
The combined sales of legally regulated medical and adult-use cannabis in Missouri have exceeded $1 billion since the state legalized both medical and recreational markets. This significant sales milestone was achieved on May 2, according to the Missouri Division of Cannabis Regulation.
State government records show that April witnessed $30.1 million in medical marijuana sales and $91 million in adult-use cannabis sales, amounting to a total of $121.1 million. Comparatively, March recorded $126.2 million in legal cannabis sales. Projections indicate that Missouri’s cannabis market could reach a value of up to $505 million in 2023.
Since the launch of the state’s regulated adult-use market in February 2023, it has encountered some expected early challenges seen in other new recreational markets, such as supply shortages and high prices. Missouri’s medical marijuana market, on the other hand, commenced in October 2020 and has been in operation for a longer duration.
SAFE Banking Act Read to Senate Banking Committee
The US Senate Banking Committee met on May 11 to discuss the SAFE Banking Act, a crucial legislation that would make it easier for the cannabis industry to access banking services.
The meeting, “Examining Cannabis Banking Challenges of Small Businesses and Workers,” heard testimony from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-OR., and Steve Daines, R-MT., who reintroduced the standalone bill last week. The committee will also hear from witnesses, including the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition, Drug Policy Alliance and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Morgan Paxhia, managing partner at Poseidon Investment Management, called the day “historic” and an “important step” towards banking access. “The industry was well represented with a professional and honest discussion about the need for SAFE Banking to be done and done promptly,” he said. “The various groups have inputs that may help to further clarify the bill with a focus on a clean initiative. Opposition seems to continue with the same drug war era rhetoric that was largely refuted by members of the Senate along with industry representation. Anarchy doesn’t reign when cannabis is legalized, obvious to the majority of Americans currently living in legal cannabis states. Today was an important step and we look to the Senate to run, not walk, with the additional steps needed to get to a vote.”
If the bill advances through the committee stage, it would be voted by the Senate for the first time. The bill has been passed by the House of Representatives seven times in the past four years since it was first introduced. Industry insiders are cautiously optimistic that the bill, which has bipartisan support, will be signed into law this time.
Emerald Cup Announces 2023 Honorary Awards
The 19th Annual Emerald Cup Awards are being held on Saturday, May 13, lighting up the Bay Area in a celebration of this year’s winners and tomorrow’s tastemakers. The annual event celebrates and recognizes excellence in the cannabis industry, specifically focusing on organic and sun-grown cannabis, while honoring the heritage of Northern California’s cannabis culture.
The Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award: Mila Jansen
Visionary Award: Amber E. Senter
Social Justice Award: Weldon Angelos
Trailblazer Award: Alex Aquino
Additionally, renowned cannabis breeder Soma, creator of such beloved cultivars as NYC Diesel and Amnesia Haze, will be inducted into the Breeder’s Hall of Fame.
EU Continues to Push Back on Legalization
Europe is witnessing a mounting wave of calls for cannabis legalization, as an increasing number of countries aim to emulate the progressive steps taken by Canada and certain parts of the US. However, resistance from the European Union (EU) has resulted in many governments grappling with the challenge of formulating legislation that aligns with EU laws, international drug treaties and public health considerations. The sticking point is that the commercial legalization of cannabis contradicts international treaties, including the United Nations’ 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
Among the countries spearheading cannabis legalization reform in Europe reforms is the Czech Republic, who revealed its commitment to drafting a bill last year, with the aim of legalizing cannabis for adult use. This significant move represents the country’s most notable stride since the decriminalization of personal possession in 2010.
Germany has also joined the ranks by presenting proposals in October to legalize the consumption and sale of cannabis, a development that, if approved, would establish the world’s largest regulated national marijuana market.
Luxembourg has taken a step forward by enacting a law permitting residents to cultivate for personal use. Similarly, Malta has authorized private “cannabis clubs,” while Switzerland, despite not being an EU member, has granted approval for a trial period involving the sale and consumption of the drug in Zurich.
Even the Netherlands, where the cultivation and sale of cannabis remain technically criminalized but tolerated, has plans to initiate a pilot program by the end of this year to explore the legal sale of cannabis.