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Week in Review: Senate Democrats Reintroduce Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill

PHOTO Andrea Izzotti

Current Events

Week in Review: Senate Democrats Reintroduce Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill

ICYMI: Catch up on the week’s latest news from across the cannabis spectrum.

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, Senate Democrats reintroduce a federal cannabis legalization bill; Medmen files for bankruptcy, facing $411 million in liabilities; the Georgia governor approves legislation to regulate hemp products; and The Chambers Project hosts a Wixáritari benefit exhibition.

cannabis predictions 2024, Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

Senate Democrats Reintroduce Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill

This week, lawmakers in the US Senate reintroduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity (CAO) Act, aiming to end the federal prohibition of cannabis. A coalition of Democrats, led by Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), along with Sens. Ron Wyden (OR) and Cory Booker (NJ), filed the bill.

In a press release, Sen. Schumer emphasized the importance of aligning federal laws with the evolving attitudes of the American people regarding cannabis. He stated, “It’s past time for the federal government to catch up to the attitudes of the American people when it comes to cannabis.”

Initially introduced in 2022, the CAO Act proposes several key measures, including removing cannabis from the federal drug schedule, expunging federal non-violent cannabis offenses automatically and establishing a grant program to assist individuals adversely affected by cannabis prohibition with housing, economic and community development needs. Additionally, the bill outlines plans to expand cannabis research programs.

Sen. Booker highlighted the significance of these policies. “These common-sense policies will ensure a more equitable criminal justice system and promote public safety,” he said in a statement.

The timing of the bill’s reintroduction coincides with reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is considering moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act.

Higher Yields Consulting
PHOTO Anton27

MedMen Files for Bankruptcy, Facing $411 Million in Liabilities 

MedMen, the former powerhouse MSO, has filed for bankruptcy in Canada, citing approximately $411 million in liabilities. According to an announcement on April 26, the company initiated bankruptcy proceedings under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act on April 24, with the business advisory firm B. Riley Farber Inc. appointed as the company’s bankruptcy trustee.

A press release states the decision to shut down operations and commence the Bankruptcy Proceedings and Receivership Proceedings “was made after careful consideration of the current financial condition of the Company and its subsidiaries, their inability to pay their liabilities as they become due and the anticipated enforcement actions of secured creditors.” 

Following these proceedings, MedMen’s subsidiaries are slated to have their operations and assets dissolved or sold off to comply with US laws. The company’s Chief Financial Officer, Amit Pandey, resigned effective February 13 and all directors resigned immediately before the commencement of bankruptcy proceedings.

Despite its presence in multiple states with retail stores and cultivation facilities, trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange (MMEN) and over the counter in the US (MMNFF), MedMen has faced mounting challenges. On April 23, MedMen’s American subsidiary in California entered receivership in the Los Angeles Superior Court for the organized dissolution and liquidation of its assets.

Founded in 2010 by Adam Bierman and Andrew Modlin, MedMen experienced rapid expansion and secured substantial funding, raising $110 million before going public in 2018. However, issues related to financial mismanagement, significant debt accumulation and profit difficulties arose due to rapid expansion. Legal disputes, particularly concerning labor practices, further strained finances and attracted public attention.

Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta. PHOTO DXR

Georgia Governor Approves Legislation to Regulate Hemp Products

Georgia’s governor has given the green light to SB 494, a bill to regulate hemp-derived products and foster the growth of the state’s hemp industry. The Georgia Hemp Farming Act, as the bill is known, was passed by the General Assembly and forwarded to Governor Brian Kemp for his approval in April.

Signed into law on Tuesday, SB 494 introduces several key provisions, including assurance of manufacturer licenses; wholesale consumable-hemp permits and consumable-hemp retail establishment licenses; the mandate for testing labs to be registered; the closure of the “THCA” loophole by redefining delta-9 THC; and the prohibition of sales of hemp-derived products, including CBD, to individuals under 21.

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, individual states like Georgia have been responsible for determining how to regulate hemp-derived products. While this legislation legalized hemp, it also led to the emergence of delta-8 THC and other intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids.

Wixáritari benefit exhibition

The Chambers Project Hosts Wixáritari Art Benefit Exhibition

The Chambers Project, a Grass Valley, CA-based gallery representing some of the most influential and contemporary psychedelic artists, is hosting a Wixáritari benefit exhibition to showcase artistic talent and raise awareness about the critical importance of preserving ancient rituals and cultures. 

Opening this weekend and running until May 25, the Wixáritari Preservation Project aims to safeguard the ancient traditions of the Wixáritari people, who have long practiced methods of restoring ecological balance and harmony with nature. The organization has been actively protecting and sustaining the sacred ancestral lands, including the ancient Hikuri gardens and Wixárika culture. The Wixárika people of Mexico stand as the last remaining pre-colonial culture maintaining a ritual use of the Peyote cactus. 

Central to the Wixáritari culture are their artistic creations known as “nierikas,” which are visual representations of visions received during ceremonial rituals and serve as petitions to their deities. Proceeds from the sale of these cactus-inspired artworks contribute to the preservation of the land where the endangered cactus grows, illustrating a symbiotic relationship between the art and its natural habitat. Learn more about the exhibition here.

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