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Illinois Cannabis Sales Smash Records, Surpass Alcohol

Illinois Cannabis Sales Smash Records, Surpass Alcohol

Illinois cannabis sales surpass alcohol

Legalized cannabis sales in Illinois continue to smash all sorts of records, with the state now exceeding $1 billion in recreational weed sales and setting a new record for sales in the month of April.

According to the latest data available from the state’s Department of Revenue, Illinois recorded nearly $115 million in sales in the month of April alone, the highest-grossing month since cannabis became legal last year.

By comparison, the state saw $37 million in sales during the month of April in 2020.

In all, Illinois has now racked up $1,064,750,968 in recreational cannabis sales since legalization took place. Of those sales, nearly $777 million were made to in-state residents, according to the Department of Revenue.

The state also set another remarkable record in the first quarter of 2021, with tax revenues for cannabis sales ($86 million) exceeding those of liquor ($72 million) for the first time ever, according to Newsweek.

If current trends continue, the state is expected to surpass $1 billion in sales during 2021, according to officials.

Massachusetts to allot 70K acres for cannabis, hemp production

Massachusetts to allot 70K acres for cannabis, hemp production

Massachusetts hemp gets ok for land use

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources released updated guidance on Wednesday making way for more than 70,000 acres belonging to its Agricultural Preservation Restriction and Farm Viability Enhancement programs to be used to grow cannabis and hemp.

The APR program was established in 1977 and offers to pay farmland owners the difference between fair market value and the agricultural value of their farms in exchange for permanent deed restrictions which preserve farmland for agricultural use in the future, according to the department website.

The Farm Viability Enhancement Program, in turn, provides business and technical assistance to established farmers through grant funding, in exchange for signing an agricultural covenant on the farm property to keep it in agricultural use for a five-, 10- or 15-year term, per the state website.

Under the new guidance released last week, both hemp and cannabis production will now be allowed on APR and Farm Viability Enhancement lands, so long as the land in question isn’t federally funded, because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.

Although the DAR did not say how many APR lands are beholden to federal restrictions, the guidance noted nearly all recently acquired APRs were purchased with federal financing.

Still, the new guidance effectively opens options for APR farmers interested in adding or transitioning to the cannabis and hemp markets.

“The department looks forward to working with APR and Agricultural Covenant landowners and the farming community on the implementation of this new interpretation and has prepared the following guidance,” the department said in its announcement.

Las Vegas Braces for Cannabis Consumption Lounges

Las Vegas Braces for Cannabis Consumption Lounges

Las Vegas cannabis lounges

Cannabis lounges, where patrons can smoke a joint, rip a bong, vaporize a dab or do just about anything else you can think of with the plant, appeared to be a certainty as part of a Las Vegas ordinance back in 2017—and then again in 2019. They’ve been talked about for over four years in the entertainment capital of America.

But this time around, after years of setbacks and political meddling from the rival gaming industry, a bill at the Nevada State Legislature is on track to settle the score once and for all.

Assembly Bill 341 would pave the way for an unlimited number of lounges to open across the state, in counties where local governments allow cannabis businesses to operate. That includes in Sin City, where over 40 million tourists visited each year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This would really open the floodgates for something marijuana users have wanted for a long time,” said Assemblyman Steve Yeager, a Democrat from Las Vegas who sponsored the bill. “And there’s a social equity part to it where we’re not restricting this just to licensed dispensary owners.”

Yeager, in his third term at the state’s biennial legislature, has felt the frustration himself. Long considered the heir apparent to former State Sen. Tick Segerblom, who was known as Nevada’s “Godfather of Marijuana,” Yeager watched as the fledgling industry offered all of its spoils to a tiny group of anointed business owners, most of whom were lawyers, doctors, casino operators, lobbyists and former public officials.

Less than 100 groups control almost all of the industry, as the state capped dispensary licenses from the adult-use program’s inception in 2017.  Many of the companies are also vertically integrated, meaning dispensary owners also hold the lion’s share of production and cultivation permits. Disproportionately left out have been women and racial minorities, the latter group of which was most harmed by cannabis prohibition.

The new bill runs so contrary to the state’s years of meticulously restricting licenses and hand-picking operators that many dispensary owners are wondering if opening a lounge is even worth the investment.

“You have to figure out if you can make any money with them,” said David Goldwater, owner of Inyo, a dispensary located just over a mile from the Las Vegas Strip. “There’s going to be a ton of new competition.”

Texas House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana

Texas House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana

Texas house votes to decriminalize marijuana

The Texas House of Representatives on Thursday approved bills to decriminalize marijuana possession and significantly expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

These are the latest developments to come amid a week that has seen multiple pieces of reform legislation advance in the chamber, including separate measures to reduce penalties for possessing marijuana concentrates and require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA.

The bill to decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, making the offense a class C misdemeanor that does not come with the threat of jail time, was approved on second reading in the chamber by a voice vote.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Erin Zwiener (D), would also end the threat of being arrested for low-level possession and give people the opportunity to avoid a conviction by providing for deferrals and dismissals. A final vote on third reading is still needed to formally send the bill to the Senate.

The House approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, but it did not advance in the Senate that session.

The separate medical cannabis expansion proposal was given final passage in the House in a 134-12 vote, sending it to the Senate. It would add cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as conditions that could qualify people for the state’s limited medical cannabis program. The bill passed in the House Public Health Committee earlier this month.

The legislation would further allow the Department of State Health Services to add more qualifying conditions via administrative rulemaking. And it would also raise the THC cap for medical marijuana products from 0.5 percent to five percent.

While advocates appreciate that Texas lawmakers are moving to expand the state’s existing program, they feel it can be improved upon and hope to see amendments to give more patients access to cannabis when it arrives in the Senate.

Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A hemp industry grey area

Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A hemp industry grey area

Does delta-8 THC get you high?

Delta-8 THC is the latest cannabinoid to take over the hemp “grey” market, after CBD had its run in 2019 and 2020 before regulation on CBD products began. However D8 THC is likely to face a similar fate soon enough, and some states aren’t waiting around for the FDA to start regulating it.

So how does a hot new cannabinoid like this come about without regulation, and is Delta-8 THC legal?

What is Delta-8 THC?

What may be a surprise to some is that D8 THC is not a newly discovered cannabinoid. Pharmacological knowledge of D8 THC has been around since 1941 when its partial synthesis was discovered by Roger Adams. It is an isomer of Delta-9 THC, meaning that it has an identical molecular formula to Delta-9 THC, but Delta-8 THC is arranged differently which creates a variation in chemical properties.

But like many other cannabinoids including Delta-9 THC, scientific data surrounding Delta-8 THC was suppressed soon after its discovery, with the Marihuana Tax Act already being in effect since 1937. That changed with the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018.

Following the federal legalization of hemp, a lot of farmers hopped on the CBD trend and saturated the market with biomass. But just like CBD, Delta-8 THC can also be extracted.

D8 THC is not as prevalent in hemp as CBD, and not as potent as Delta-9 THC. But that hasn’t stopped producers and consumers from capitalizing.

More money, more effects

If Delta-8 THC was all made up by illicit market producers trying to take advantage of the uneducated consumer, it surely wouldn’t be as popular as it has become. That is to say in the mind of consumers, D8 THC is a “legal” replacement for Delta-9 THC.

For someone living in a state with no access to medical or recreational cannabis, hemp is more than likely legal. Since Delta-8 can be extracted from hemp, and hemp is legal, Delta-8 is technically legal too, for now.

With the CBD market completely oversaturated, D8 THC also presents a unique opportunity for hemp producers to still make a profit off their hemp. Being a very close relative of Delta-9 THC, a massive market for those trying to get the “high” of Delta-9 without breaking the law in their state has been created.

Just since the beginning of 2021, Delta-8 THC has grown massively in popularity. It has become available in vape carts and edibles in head shops across the country and also gives consumers the option to have it shipped right to their door online.

However that may all be changing quicker than consumers and producers hoped.

States start taking action

While the FDA might just be catching wind of Delta-8 THC and are considering looking into the new hot cannabinoid, individual states have already taken notice, and they aren’t waiting to take action.

Vermont is the latest state to pass rulings that state D8 THC is now illegal, and they aren’t alone either. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah have all banned the sale of Delta-8 THC.

With so many states jumping to ban D8 THC so quickly, it isn’t a good sign for the future. Ultimately the reason that Delta-8 may fail is because of the lack of regulation. Without regulation, there will always be bad actors in the industry pushing fake and dangerous products.

A clear example of this issue gained nationwide attention in 2019 after several people died from ingesting illicit market Delta-9 vape cartridges, and hundreds more wound up in the hospital. The same problem could easily plague the rising Delta-8 industry, and that has lawmakers and consumers concerned.

While many are willing to take the risk and have Delta-8 THC delivered from an online service without knowing the true contents or lab results of the product, just as many are not. While there are a handful of reliable Delta-8 suppliers with lab testing provided, there are just as many if not more that don’t include lab results.

So what’s the solution?

Regulate Delta-8 THC or make it illegal

The question that many are asking right now is, will Delta-8 THC be regulated or just made illegal?

Unfortunately for consumers and producers, the latter is much more likely. Compared to CBD which has very little to no psychoactive effects, Delta-8 is described as a more subtle version of Delta-9 THC by consumers.

In a state like Utah where recreational cannabis is still illegal, Delta-8 is no different than Delta-9 in the eyes of legislators and regulators because the consumer can still get high from consuming it. So why would they allow one and not the other?

At least we can’t argue that they aren’t being consistent.

As for the potential for regulation, it is possible but unlikely in the near future. For example, despite being legalized in 2018, the USDA’s final ruling regarding hemp production wasn’t released until January of this year. The FDA has only recently begun cracking down on the unregulated CBD industry, sending out multiple emails to producers in March of this year warning about false advertising and making medical claims about CBD products.

But the USDA ruling doesn’t even address Delta-8 THC, let alone set a limit on its production. There is no evidence that the FDA is currently investigating Delta-8 either. So while we don’t expect there to be a federal ban on Delta-8 in the near future, we are likely to see more states take action on their own.

Colorado passed medical and recreational cannabis and has a thriving legal industry, yet is still choosing to keep Delta-8 THC illegal. Other states are going to take notice, and many may follow suit.

For now, if you want to try Delta-8 for yourself, make sure to search for a verified producer that provides detailed lab results from a certified lab. While the science may still be out on the safety of D8 THC itself, as long as the product is made properly with clean ingredients and certified by test results it may be the best alternative to Delta-9 for those who can’t get it for the meantime.

Vermont Joins List of States to Ban Delta-8 THC

Vermont Joins List of States to Ban Delta-8 THC

Delta 8 THC banned in Vermont
Vermont regulators have officially categorized hemp-based Delta-8 THC products as illegal under state law.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Farms, and Markets (AAFM) informed all registered hemp cultivators that Delta-8 THC products are not regarded as legal hemp products in an email sent out last Friday, April 23.

With this statute, Vermont joins 12 other states that have categorized the manufacturing and sale of Delta-8 THC products as illegal under state law; Delta-8 THC has also been banned in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah.

On their website, Vermont AAFM clarifies the state’s position further by acknowledging that hemp plants naturally produce Delta-8 THC in trace amounts. However, products with intoxicating levels of the cannabinoid are created using isomerization, which synthetically converts CBD to THC.

The Vermont Hemp Rules state that, “A processor shall not use synthetic cannabinoids in the production of any hemp product or hemp-infused product” (6.3). With this rule, the manufacturing, labeling, or sale of any Delta-8 product in the state of Vermont would violate state law. As such, anyone who distributes, uses, or possesses one of these products may face criminal penalties in the state.

Many CBD retailers have seen great financial gains due to the recent proliferation of Delta-8 throughout the states. This clarification may heavily impact their newfound revenues.

Meanwhile, the hemp industry in Alabama recently praised lawmakers there after they pulled an amendment proposal that would have categorized Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC as controlled substances.

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