In this week’s cannabis news round-up, Bahamas government introduces bill to legalize medical and religious use of cannabis; more American adults see cannabis as safer than alcohol and cigarettes; medical cannabis sales increase as pot prices decline; and Maria Sakkari disturbed by cannabis odor during us open.
Bahamian Government Introduces Bill to Legalize Medical and Religious Use of Cannabis
New legislation has been introduced in The Bahamas to legalize cannabis for medical and religious applications and to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of cannabis. Individuals found with less than an ounce of cannabis not intended for medical or religious use would face a $250 fine rather than criminal charges.
The proposed law outlines that licenses for cultivation, retail, transportation and religious usage would exclusively be granted to Bahamian-owned companies. Licenses for research, testing and manufacturing would require at least 30% Bahamian ownership. The island nation’s government plans to establish an agency to oversee the industry; Attorney General Ryan Pinder has previously indicated that cannabis for religious use would only be allowed to be smoked within licensed organizations’ premises.
Similar cannabis policy reforms have been undertaken by other Caribbean nations. In 2018, Antigua and Barbuda legalized medical cannabis and in June, Rastafari members were authorized to grow and consume cannabis due to their sacred beliefs. Jamaica has also decriminalized small-scale cannabis possession.
Gallup Poll: More Americans See Cannabis As Safer Than Alcohol and Cigarettes, as Cannabis Use Exceeds Tobacco Smoking
A recent Gallup poll revealed that Americans now believe cannabis is less risky than alcohol, cigarettes, vapes and other tobacco products. The data indicates that cannabis use has exceeded cigarette consumption in the US, as adults are increasingly moving away from cigarettes due to growing awareness of their health risks. At the same time, attitudes toward cannabis are shifting, with decreasing perceptions of harm as more states legalize its use and more adults identify as users.
Participants of the poll were questioned about seven substances and their perceived levels of harm: “very,” “somewhat” or “not too/not at all.” The findings show that approximately 40% of respondents view cannabis as “not too” or “not at all” harmful. This is in stark contrast to cigarettes, with only four percent considering them relatively harmless and alcohol, where just 16% share this sentiment. On the other hand, 23% see cannabis as “very harmful,” compared to 76% for cigarettes, 54% for e-cigarettes, 39% for cigars and 30% for alcohol.
Arkansas: Medical Cannabis Sales Increase as Weed Prices Decline
The cost of medical cannabis in Arkansas has decreased, with the price per pound dropping from $5,466 in 2022 to $4,545 in June, according to data from the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration (DFA). In 2021, the average pound price was $6,565.
In 2022, Arkansas’ medical cannabis dispensaries saw an average monthly sale of 4,212 pounds, reaching 5,149 pounds in June. The state law limits the number of dispensaries to 40.
April’s report revealed that Arkansas witnessed a 7.14% increase in medical cannabis sales in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2022, based on DFA data.
In 2022, medical cannabis sales hit a record high at $276 million, a 4.3% increase from the previous year’s $264 million. Sales for this year are projected to surpass both 2021 and 2022, with over $140 million recorded in the first half of 2023, according to state data.
Maria Sakkari Disturbed by Cannabis Odor During US Open Defeat
Maria Sakkari, the No. 8 seed tennis player from Greece, faced an unexpected distraction during her first-round match at the US Open in New York City: the smell of cannabis on the court.
Sakkari reportedly noticed the smell during a changeover when she was leading 4-1 in the first set against Rebeka Masarova. She attributed the smell to a nearby park and reportedly also noticing it during her practice on the same court the day before.
“Sometimes you smell food, sometimes you smell cigarettes, sometimes you smell weed,” Sakkari said. “I mean, it’s something we cannot control, because we’re in an open space. There’s a park behind. People can do whatever they want.”
However, Sakkari says that the odor didn’t impact her focus or performance during the match, in what became her third straight first-round exit in a Grand Slam tournament.