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New Jersey recreational cannabis sales finally begin

New Jersey recreational cannabis sales finally begin

New jersey recreational cannabis sales have started

Thursday April 21, 2022 marks the first day that recreational cannabis can be sold to consumers in New Jersey. Doors opened at the first dispensaries at 6 AM, with lines wrapping around the block.

“It’s a huge event. It’s a moment in time in American history where prohibition 2.0 is lifted,” said Ben Kovler, the chairman and CEO of Green Thumb Industries, which has two facilities opening Thursday, one in Bloomfield and another in Paterson.

However the industry isn’t fully taking off just yet. Just over a dozen “alternative care providers” in the state that were already providing medical cannabis to patients were given permission to sell adult-use cannabis on opening day.

It is still unclear when the hundreds of other cannabis business applicants will get their licenses and be allowed to open their doors, but it will likely start with social equity applicants first.

State regulators say dispensaries in New Jersey are allowed to sell up to the equivalent of 1 ounce of cannabis, which means an ounce of dried flower, or 5 grams of concentrate or 1,000 milligrams of edibles, like gummies. However perishable edibles like cookies and brownies will not be available.

Recreational cannabis sales will still apply the state 6.625% sales tax, with 70% of the proceeds going to areas disproportionately affected by marijuana-related arrests.

New Jersey is the first among several neighboring states to launch recreational cannabis sales. New York legalized cannabis in 2020 but has yet to implement a recreational market. Pennsylvania has a successful medical cannabis industry, with advocates and even legislators pushing for full legalization this year. Connecticut also legalized cannabis but has yet to implement any marketplace for consumers.

3 reasons 4/20 is still an important holiday

3 reasons 4/20 is still an important holiday

best things to do on 4/20

From the outside, 4/20 might just seem like a special day for stoners to get especially stoned. In a way they aren’t wrong.

4/20 has become a national holiday for cannabis lovers across the world. It is a day when we can all come together as a community to share our passion for the plant.

And yes, it is a day where you can score some great deals at the dispensary to get a little extra baked!

However 4/20 still holds a lot more importance than you may think. While the day may have supposedly started from some friends sneaking out to get high together, it has evolved into the main holiday promoting the cannabis legalization movement.

You see, cannabis is only fully legal in 18 states in the US. While there are only two states — Nebraska and Kansas — that haven’t legalized anything at all (including CBD), cannabis is still fully illegal according to the federal government.

That brings us to five reasons why 4/20 is still an important and essential holiday. Not just to those who love cannabis, but for anybody who supports breaking down unjust laws that punish minorities and create more problems for the country as a whole.

Cannabis is not federally legal

It might be easy to look at the expressive nature of the cannabis industry and community and think, “how could this be illegal?”

After all people like Snoop Dogg can openly smoke a blunt on live TV at the Super Bowl and face no repercussions. But for many others, the reality is much, much different. In fact, 40% of drug-related arrests in 2018 were for cannabis.

Consider the resources that are still going into arresting people for a plant that is medically or recreationally legal in over half the country. Does that make sense?

Additionally in New York City, 94% of cannabis arrests were black people in 2020.

4/20 has been the main day where proponents for legalization can really get their message heard and inform people on why legalization really matters.

Sharing the benefits of the plant

According to the federal government, cannabis is currently ranked as dangerous as heroin, an a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This means it has no medical applications and is highly addictive.

Well, 35 states that have legal medical cannabis programs would disagree. There have been studies showing recreational cannabis access decreases the demand for prescription opioids. Other studies have shown it to be extremely effective in treating various diseases, including cancer.

Lest we forget the wide range of ailments that cannabis is legally prescribed for by licensed doctors across the country. That sounds like a lot of medical applications, but you would be surprised how many people haven’t heard about those studies or the benefits of cannabis.

When you are a part of the cannabis community it is easy to think that everybody knows these things. After all you see articles and posts on social media all the time about new laws, legalization, medical studies. But that is a bubble. In most cases, if you aren’t actively looking for cannabis news or information, it isn’t very likely to pop up unless it is a major story.

On 4/20, there is just that little bit more attention the entire community and industry gets to share this information with a wider audience. While many may still not support the full legalization of cannabis, helping them to understand how much it truly helps people is an important step in the right direction.

4/20 is a celebration of culture

It is not very often that there is a community of millions of people, all passionate about the same thing which happens to be completely illegal according to the federal government. Think about it.

As a culture that developed in the shadows over decades, the cannabis community is different from any other. A group of people who were traditionally artists, musicians and hippies has spread to encompass every type of person out there. From your grandma to wall street businessmen and women, somebody you know is likely a consumer.

The culture has begun evolving over the years from the small, close-knit community of growers in online forums to massive festivals headlined by A-list artists. And it has become even more accessible to someone who is trying to learn more about cannabis and the community surrounding it.

What better way to dip your feet into the culture of cannabis than going to your local 4/20 festival or event? And if it’s an underground event in a illegal state, even better. Because that’s where it all started, and has stayed for many across the country still.

Because its FUN

Consider this one an honorable mention. 4/20 is basically the only holiday for cannabis lovers (some would argue 7/10 is growing in popularity now as well). While spreading awareness about the war on drugs and pushing for legalization are important aspects of 4/20 celebrations, it’s also about just that; celebrating!

The fact that you can go to Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado on 4/20 and consume cannabis publicly with thousands of others without persecution is a big deal. The fact that there will be hundreds of public 4/20 celebrations across the country today is huge. Just 10 years ago, almost none of it would be happening…at least in public.

Some people miss the old days where the community was smaller and more close-knit, with underground celebrations where you had to be “in the know” to go. Well, you can still find plenty of those across the country too. Because as big of a day as 4/20 is, and the difference it can make, it’s important to remember that millions of people are still at risk of arrest and prison time to simply possessing a plant.

First New York cannabis dispensaries to open on tribal land

First New York cannabis dispensaries to open on tribal land

New York cannabis dispensaries

The New York legal cannabis industry may be delayed by politicians and bureaucracy, but that isn’t stopping Native tribes from rolling out their own markets.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe based in Akwesasne will be the first to launch a regulated cannabis market in New York state. Beginning April 15, several Tribal businesses will open their doors to sell cannabis flower, edibles and other cannabis products to consumers.

The Tribe is able to do so thanks to their Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance. The ordinance states that adults 21 years old or older can transport, possess, and use up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.

Once New York legalized cannabis officially in 2020, the option to legalize the plant on tribal lands became more enticing. Not beholden to state laws and regulations regarding the plant, the Tribe was free to establish their own regulatory framework to permit sales and possession.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is also the first in the country to regulate and license tribal member-owned businesses for cannabis.

According to the Tribe, licensing fees collected from legal cannabis operations will be used to keep community members employed and fund a wide range of community services. Additionally the funds will help support educational scholarships, public safety, road maintenance, elder assistance, health care, and community organizations.

Tribal Chief Michael Conners said he believes the system will benefit the community while providing a safe product for consumers.

“We are confident that the hard work of the tribally licensed cannabis business owners will result in loyal customers from beyond Akwesasne,” Conners said. “We know that it took a while, but we are confident that our system is designed to provide quality product, in a regulated system, with Compliance oversight and a qualified Board of Managers to see that all regulations are followed for the safety of our community and consumers.”

Montana recreational cannabis sales top $43 million in first quarter of 2022

Montana recreational cannabis sales top $43 million in first quarter of 2022

Montana recreational cannabis dispensary sales

In its first three months of operation, Montana recreational cannabis sales have surpassed $43 million, resulting in nearly $9 million in tax revenue for the state.

According to the state’s Department of Revenue, Montana recreational cannabis produced $43,537,110 in sales, compared to medical cannabis which generated $29,373,731 in sales during the same period.

Voters approved a ballot initiative to legalize Montana recreational cannabis in 2020, the same year three other states — Arizona, South Dakota and New Jersey — passed similar measures. However state officials wouldn’t approve regulations for a legal cannabis marketplace until October 2021.

This late action created a short deadline for the state’s Department of Revenue Cannabis Control Division to build out the framework for legal sales in Montana.

“The deadlines are aggressive,” Kristan Barbour, administrator of the Department of Revenue’s Cannabis Control Division, said at the time. “Really, the rules are our biggest challenge.”

“Our focus was really to be business-friendly and to try to work with the industry in a fashion that makes the rules adaptable to their current business structure and that they’ll be able to evolve into without a whole lot of pain,” Barbour added.

However despite the delays and tight deadlines, the Montana recreational cannabis market opened right on time, New Years Day 2022. On January 1 an estimated 380 dispensaries opened their doors in 29 counties across the state.

The state brought in an estimated $1.5 millions in adult-use sales in the opening weekend, a number that would snowball over the next couple months. While money isn’t the only reason a state like Montana would legalize cannabis, it is at the top of the list.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, states have generated over $11 billion in tax revenue through legal cannabis. On average, a state with adult-use cannabis sales generated more than $3.7 billion in total revenue in 2021.

However another growing reason for multiple states legalizing cannabis is the failing War on Drugs. In 2018, 40% (yes, 40%) of all drug arrests in the US were for cannabis, typically possession. Think about the resources and dollars that go into arresting, processing, and housing all of these mostly non-violent offenders.

In March the Montana Supreme Court issued temporary rules for procedures that would allow those with past cannabis-related convictions to have them expunged. The state’s new cannabis law says “anyone convicted of an offense that would now be legal in the state can petition to have their conviction removed from their record, get a lesser sentence for it or reclassify it to a lesser offense,” according to local television station KPAX.

Just for comparison, Oklahoma, an equally red state with just a medical cannabis program that launched in 2019 brought in nearly $500 million in its first year of sales. Then the state nearly doubled that number in 2020.

Comparatively Montana recreational cannabis sales seem pretty miniscule. However it has only been three months. Should the trend continue, the state could easily see over $200 million in sales its first year.

Why you should stop calling it “marijuana”

Why you should stop calling it “marijuana”

history of the word marijuana

The majority of Americans now approve of cannabis legalization on the federal level. Yet the majority of the country still refers to the plant by much different name: marijuana.

If you walked up to someone in their mid-forties and asked them their opinion on cannabis, there’s a chance they wouldn’t know what you were talking about. However if you asked them if they supported the legalization of marijuana, there’s a higher likelihood of them supporting it than not.

So where is the confusion?

When we have been referring to cannabis as “marijuana” for nearly a century, it isn’t as easy to telling people that the name has changed. But the reality is that cannabis was always, well, cannabis.

Origins of cannabis

Cannabis has been a known and used plant for medicine and recreation for centuries. With use dating back to 8,000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, those studying medicine throughout the generations have had plenty of time to learn about the origins of the cannabis plant.

Through these studies, this is where the plant’s name originates. Actually, it has several names for the various types of cannabis that can be found across the globe.

Cannabis Ruderalis (northern/central Asia), Cannabis Sativa (Eastern Europe/Central Asia), and Cannabis Indica (China, Korea, Southeast Asia, Himalayas, Middle East) are the most studied and well known biotypes of cannabis. These are the scientific names for the plant. Notice that none of them have the word “marijuana” or anything close to it in their title.

So if cannabis had held that name for centuries of scientific study, what changed?

The answer to this question is why you should stop using the word “marijuana” when talking about cannabis.

Origins of “marijuana”

The origins of the word “marijuana” or “marihuana” are debated among the cannabis community. But one thing is inarguable; the word is racist.

Cannabis,  AKA hemp, was a major cash crop in the United States for decades, with the government even requiring its production by farmers during the Revolutionary War. Now, why cannabis became illegal in the first place is highly debated.

Many argue that cannabis became illegal because major paper manufacturers and big cotton producers partnered together to phase out hemp as a material for paper. However there is very little historical information to back this up. The more recognized and historically traced reason for the criminalization of cannabis goes back to the introduction of Mexican immigrants to the United States.

Prior to their arrival, recreational use of cannabis was not widely accepted. The plant’s main uses were medicinal and manufacturing. Hash and concentrated forms of cannabis were commonly used by doctors to treat a variety of ailments. The fibers of the hemp plant were great not only for creating boat sails which were vital to the war effort, but hemp was also a vital material in clothing and paper for decades.

However it was when Mexican immigrants arrived and brought their preferred method of cannabis consumption with them that the plant would begin to gain notoriety. Opposed to consuming it in a medicinal form such as a tincture which was common in the country at the time, the immigrants would roll up loose cannabis flower into cigarettes or pack it into pipes and smoke it.

Just like today, immigration of Mexicans to the United States stirred up xenophobia. In the 1930s a man named Henry Anslinger, the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotic (now the DEA), made a distinct effort to link cannabis use to Mexican immigrants to stir up fear in the community and build support for prohibition.

Keep in mind this is the 1930s, and alcohol prohibition had already been in effect for almost a decade. So the idea of banning a substance through provoking fear in the public was by no means a new concept.

Anslinger would coin the term “marihuana” to replace cannabis. He chose the word because of its foreign sounding nature that could be attached to Mexican immigrants. But Mexicans weren’t the only victims of Anslinger’s racist campaign against cannabis.

Henry Anslinger held such views on cannabis as, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” and, “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.​” One of his most famous quotes is as revealing as we need it to be to recognize the racist intentions of the word “marijuana”:

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.​​”

Need I say more?

In the end as we all know, Anslinger’s plan would be a success. In 1937 the United States passed the Marihuana Tax Act which would be the basis for criminalizing the plant nationwide in the years to come.

After the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 went into effect, the Bureau of Narcotics arrested Moses Baca for marijuana possession. Baca was a Mexican-American and was the first victim of the federal government’s war against drugs.

It’s time to move on

To make a long story short, the only reason the word “marijuana” even exists in the first place is because of racism. And that same racism has fueled the drug war that has plagued the United States for decades, with that word being at the forefront of the campaign.

Does this make everybody who calls cannabis marijuana a racist? Of course not. Don’t attribute malice to that which can be explained by ignorance.

It’s not like the history and prohibition of cannabis is taught the same way prohibition of alcohol is in high school. Politicians don’t want to talk about the dark, tattered history of the plant and why it became illegal in the first place. Anybody who wanted to know the history of cannabis had to seek it out themselves, and in most cases still do!

Let’s not forget that cannabis is still illegal on the federal level, all because of the racist campaign Henry Anslinger started in the early 20th century. Well, we’re in the 21st century now, and it is time to move on from the outdated, racist terms used to describe a plant that thousands use as medicine and recreation.

It isn’t snobby to call cannabis by its proper name to combat the decades of racism its former helped promote. It isn’t elitist or trying to be cool to use the proper terms for a plant that the majority of us want to be legal.

How can we expect legalization of cannabis when we can’t agree on what to call it?

New Mexico cannabis sales pass $4 Million in first weekend

New Mexico cannabis sales pass $4 Million in first weekend

New mexico cannabis sales brought in a lot of money

In its first weekend of adult-use recreational cannabis sales, New Mexico cannabis sales surpassed $4 million.

The brand new market broke $3 million on day one as dispensaries across the state opened their doors to customers for the first time. Over the next two days the industry would bring in a total of $4.5 million.

According to state officials, there have been 49,552 transactions for recreational cannabis as of 12 pm Sunday, totaling $3,092,712. During that same period, about $1,425,000 worth of medical cannabis was sold.

The first recreational cannabis transaction occurred at 12:01 a.m. in Las Cruces. Sales in the state’s largest city, Albuquerque, didn’t start till 10 a.m. By noon Friday, recreational sales had reached $476,000. About 70 percent of all cannabis sales Friday were for recreational use.

New Mexico cannabis sales for adult-use were signed into law by the state’s governor in April 2021. By December 2021 the state’s Cannabis Control Division began accepting applications with no limits on how many licenses would be given out.

Other states have taken similar approaches, like Oklahoma, which also didn’t put limits on licenses or plant counts for cultivators. While Oklahoma’s market is now oversaturated with cannabis products driving prices down, it is way too soon to say if New Mexico will face a similar issue.