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Will 2021 be another struggling year for the hemp industry?

Will 2021 be another struggling year for the hemp industry?

The legal hemp industry has had a turbulent couple of years.
2019 was the first full year that the legal hemp industry operated in the United States, and it was a slow start. 2020 was a difficult year for just about everybody, the hemp industry included.

The question many are now asking is, will 2021 be the year that the hemp industry begins to thrive, or is it already dying?

The boom of Cannabidiol, more popularly known as CBD, in the United States might lead some to believe that with so much publicity and demand for CBD products (which are made from hemp), the industry would be thriving. But it isn’t that simple.

In fact, in 2020 several states produced less than 40% of the acres that were licensed for hemp production by their respective states.

In a collection of hemp industry data collected by Hemp Grower they found that numerous states, some being licensed to produce thousands of acres of hemp, had only produced a fraction of what they were allotted. Arizona for example, planted just 1,130 acres, or 3.3%, of the 34,480 acres that were licensed. The state had the largest disparity out of any other in the country.

Reasons for disparities

A problem that was found in just about every state that vastly underproduced hemp had to do with the licensing processes and fees. In Arizona, no matter how many acres a hemp farmer is planning to use, they pay the same $1,000 fee. If one farmer only has 10 acres, and another has 2,000 they pay the same exact fee.

This led to many traditional row crop farmers with a lot of land to claim all of it for hemp, despite only using a fraction of the land to actually produce hemp. In other words, a large scale farmer that claimed 5,000 acres for hemp production, may only use 50 acres to grow hemp while the rest is kept for traditional crops, leading to large discrepancies in the data collection for the state.

Additionally, Arizona state inspection fees for collecting samples include a $25 per acre fee up to the first 100 acres, and then $5 an acre beyond that. Brian McGrew, the industrial hemp program manager in Arizona says that several other factors also figure into acres planted, including weather trends during growing seasons.

“There were a lot of things that did impact 2020,” McGrew says. “It actually is probably the hottest and driest year we had on record. So that really did affect not only with hemp but a lot of other industries dealing with that.” For other states, licensing was also an inhibitor.

Hemp industry licensing problems

Minnesota hemp growers planted roughly 4,700 acres, or 56% of the projected 8,400 acres that were licensed, according to Anthony Cortilet, the state’s industrial hemp program supervisor. During the licensing process, Minnesota registers farmers by the number of individual grow locations, no matter how big or small, he says. The fee is $400 for the hemp grower license at one location, and $250 for each additional grow location.

The $400 licensing fee includes the delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) sampling and testing of one variety of hemp, but the department of agriculture collects $125 for each additional variety a grower cultivates in his or her field, which goes toward paying the laboratory costs, Cortilet says.

In Tennessee, hemp growers planted 4,836 acres in 2020, or 30.8% of the 15,722 acres that were licensed. The state department of agriculture has a staggered licensing fee system, like Minnesota, but the differences in costs are minimized to $50 increments: 5 acres or fewer is $250; between 5 and 20 acres is $300; and 20-plus acres is $350.

Each state’s hemp industry spokespeople have their reasons for the disparities, mainly that farmers and growers have different business plans and business models, while others simply underestimate the cost of hemp production, but don’t realize the costs until they have already paid for the land use.

Is the hemp industry already dying?

The current reality of the legal hemp industry may not seem very promising. In another study conducted by Hemp Benchmarks that utilizes the most current and available data on 2020 and 2019 hemp production, the results were scary.

The reports underscore the contraction that occurred in the hemp industry in 2020. For example, the amount of acreage licensed for hemp in the U.S. reached just over 400,000 in 2020, down by over 30% from roughly 590,000 acres licensed in 2019.

Additionally, Hemp Benchmarks estimated that only 35-40% of acreage licensed for hemp was actually planted in 2020, or between 140,000 to 160,000 acres. With the assumption that 85% of all U.S. acreage was for CBD or other cannabinoid production, that amounts to between 119,000 and 136,000 planted acres devoted just to CBD or other cannabinoid hemp. Their initial estimate for acreage planted with CBD or other cannabinoid hemp in 2020 is roughly half of their estimated planted acreage for 2019.

To summarize their reporting, CBD hemp production was nearly halved in 2020, while overall hemp production dropped by 30%. But it isn’t just because farmers are growing less hemp.

The issue of hot hemp

A consistent problem that has plagued the legal hemp industry is hemp produced with a THC content over .3%, commonly known throughout the community as “hot” hemp. Farmers and growers across the country have long been asking the federal government to adjust the THC requirement for hemp to be at least 1%. As such a low THC content could not realistically produce a psychoactive high, the argument is that by raising the limit slightly, more farmers would be able to produce passable hemp.

And until the majority of farmers secure trustworthy hemp genetics or the laws change, these problems will continue.

A hemp farmer in Colorado had to completely destroy 80 acres of hemp that had THC levels that were slightly above the requirement. His plants tested at .47%. That is just .17% above the legal limit, but all of his plants had to be destroyed or he risked thousands of dollars in fines. In the eyes of the government he had 80 acres of psychoactive, illegal cannabis despite being just a fraction of a percent over the limit.

For that one farmer, hot hemp means thousands of dollars flushed down the drain after months of hard labor producing flowering hemp plants or biomass. The same problem plagues farmers across the country, leading many to either cut back their production to save in the case of hot hemp issues, or stop production all together.

These factors combined have caused the shrinkage of the legal hemp industry that we saw in 2020, and what we will likely continue to see through 2021. However there is a silver lining to the trimming down of the hemp industry.

Less hemp, but higher quality

While millions of pounds of hemp were lost to the trash heap because of high THC levels in 2020, and thousands of farmers cut back their production or left the industry all together, the cream has begun to rise to the top. Hemp farmers and producers with high quality genetics, that test consistently at .3% or lower, while also enhancing the natural cannabinoids in the plant like CBD, CBG and CBN have become the go-to suppliers for serious farmers across the country.

One cannabinoid in particular exploded in 2020, and it wasn’t CBD. Delta-8 THC, the close relative to Delta-9 THC which is the main psychoactive cannabinoid bred in cannabis, was unwittingly legalized along with hemp through the 2018 Farm Bill.

Those who have tried Delta-8 THC claim that is has comparative effects to Delta-9 THC, although subdued. Advocates for D8 THC claim it is the best, legal alternative to D9 THC. This is sparking another revolution in the hemp industry as growers race to produce varietals with the highest Delta-8 THC content possible.

At the same time, the consumer’s palate is evolving to desire more complex terpene and cannabinoid profiles in their cannabis and hemp products. The increase in demand for new hemp products has the chance to give the industry a big boost in 2021.

Overall, the trend of the hemp of the industry shows a dip in 2020 that has many questioning if 2021 will be a rebound year or just a continuation. To insert a little opinion; the cannabis industry faced similar issues as it matured, as consumers demanded higher quality product and cheap producers were weeded out…pun intended.

Despite the hit that the legal hemp industry took in 2020, the demand for CBD products doesn’t appear to be slowing, and the addition of new cannabinoid-rich hemp varietals and products will bring more attention to the plant and its benefits. More research will be done this year than last year, and more people will become educated about hemp products than ever before.

Suffice to say the legal hemp industry isn’t going anywhere in 2021, if not slowly upward.

Will 2021 be the year of cannabis delivery?

Will 2021 be the year of cannabis delivery?

Cannabis delivery could become more available in 2021

With more sales than any other year and demand for cannabis higher than ever, will 2021 be the year cannabis delivery becomes widespread?

2020 was a difficult year, as if that even needs to be said. But there was one thing that helped millions of Americans get through the year.

Cannabis.

That’s not an exaggeration either. Americans bought 67% more cannabis in 2020 than the year before to deal with the stress of COVID-19, record unemployment and peak division in the country.

However despite the huge increase in sales, only a handful of states offer delivery options for recreational cannabis consumers.

Cannabis Delivery

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, are all technically states that offer some form of delivery service for consumers.

Strict regulations and limitations however have made it so only a few of the states listed actually have a current, implemented delivery system. For example, Massachusetts has been dealing with resistance to their new delivery rules, with the cannabis dispensary association in the state going so far as to sue. Colorado, while passing a law allowing delivery in 2019, has yet to implement it for medical patients, while recreational consumers might have to wait until 2022 for access to the same service.

Other states in the list have only recently legalized medical or recreational cannabis with inclusions for delivery in their legislation. These states such as Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico and others, while passing legalization bills in 2020, have yet to begin sales of cannabis in general, meaning delivery also hasn’t begun.

The question that a lot of consumers are asking, especially after going through a year of the country’s worst pandemic since the early 1900s and bolstering cannabis sales like never before, is where the hell is the delivery option?

COVID and cannabis

The impact of COVID-19 on businesses across every industry in the country has been stark. Yet while thousands of businesses suffered and even closed down, cannabis businesses everywhere thrived. But almost every single sale was done in-person.

This doesn’t seem to fit the overarching narrative of the last year that social distancing and avoiding others is all but paramount. In this same time Drizly, an alcohol delivery app, became available in 26 states.

In other words, half the country can get alcohol delivered to their door, yet only a couple states allow those with legal access to cannabis to have it delivered. And that is all missed revenue. Bud.com, a delivery service that operates in Northern California, experienced a 500 percent increase in sales after lockdown orders in mid-March, according to Dean Arbit, the chief executive of the company.

So if there’s no shortage of evidence that cannabis delivery can be highly profitable, what are we, or more accurately, what are states waiting for?

Will 2021 be the year?

The events (and profits) of 2020 definitely have more states and cannabis businesses talking about delivery. With no end to social distancing and COVID restrictions in sight, we should expect cannabis sales to continue to grow through 2021, with demand for delivery options growing as well.

Similarly to legalization in general, no state has the same cannabis delivery laws. In other words, there is no single template for states to follow that has seen continued success. Like legalization, some states may be waiting to see another implement delivery successfully from the start, and copy them.

Other states have issues with the laws they already have, such as competition against brick and mortar stores in states that allow delivery straight from distribution centers.

There is little doubt the more states will legalize some form of cannabis delivery in 2021. To expect every state with recreational or medical cannabis to make it available however is a big ask. One that is highly unlikely to happen in just one year.

But if there is any way to describe the cannabis legalization movement, it’s unpredictable.

12 Cannabis Industry Predictions for 2021

12 Cannabis Industry Predictions for 2021

Cannabis industry predictions for 2021

2020 was a crazy year in more ways than one.

Beside the obvious factor that impacted everybody’s lives for the last 10 months, cannabis has also seen some huge changes. From industry trends to overall growth, 2020 was the most progressive and profitable year for the industry so far.

There were still some lows however, like the MORE Act being passed in the House but stalled indefinitely in the Senate. California has had its fair share of issues with their legal market as well due to bad regulation and local government mishandling.

But we aren’t here to look back on the bad, but to look forward to the future of the industry and everything that may bring. Here are 12 predictions for the cannabis industry in 2021.

1. Cannabis consumption increases

This is probably the most obvious to predict. As more states legalize medical and recreational cannabis or decriminalize the plant, consumption will rise as people gain more safe and legal access to quality cannabis. This includes all forms of cannabis; concentrates, edibles, topicals and others.

2. We still won’t see federal legalization

Considering that the senate currently won’t even vote on a bill that would decriminalize cannabis on the federal level, it is very unlikely that we will see full scale legalization on the federal level in 2021. There’s a chance that we see more legislation passed through the House that will give cannabis businesses better access to banking.

However this will likely also be stalled in the Senate. In short, as long as Mitch McConnell is the Majority Leader of the Senate, don’t expect any sort of federal progress when it comes to cannabis.

3. Rise in popularity of minor cannabinoids in hemp

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, has seen a massive increase in popularity and use in 2020. Through marketing and education efforts, people have learned of the benefits of CBD and how it is entirely different from THC. This has led to more curiosity about the wide variety of other cannabinoids in hemp and cannabis. CBN and CBG have already begun breaking into the forefront of cannabinoid research with more on the way in 2021.

We’ll see new mixed cannabinoid products that advertise different experiences for the consumer start to become much more popular.

4. Extraction and dosing technology increases

Cannabis extracts and concentrates continue to grow in popularity, with rosin taking over the scene in 2020 as the cleanest and tastiest dabs. 2021 will be no different as the technology for creating extracts advances even more. Solventless extracts will likely remain the most popular for health-conscious and connoisseur consumers, while vape cartridges and pens will stay popular for the average consumer.

It will also become easier to understand the dosing of concentrates, especially with cartridges and dabs. There is currently no widely known dosage for either, just general suggestions from the local budtender or industry blogger.

5. Increased presence of national cannabis industry brands

We’ve seen the rise in popular brands like Cookies and Runtz from California’s recreational market to Maryland’s medical market, and that trend is bound to continue. With the success of these brands, others will try to replicate their marketing style to also become popular nationally.

Cookies and Runtz are likely just more “flavors of the month”, and new products will likely take their place in 2021.

6. US stock market for cannabis

Investors in the US have seen that cannabis is essential and pandemic proof. With the huge boost to industry revenue in 2020, investors will be looking for more ways to invest in the United States cannabis industry. While Canada’s cannabis industry saw much less success than the US in 2020, their model for investing in cannabis stocks could be used a template to implement a similar system in the US.

With so many ancillary (non-plant touching) businesses in the industry and expansion growing every year, there may soon be an investment market for companies that work with the cannabis industry but don’t actually process or touch the plant.

7. Ancillary cannabis business transactions increase

Speaking of ancillary cannabis businesses, transactions for these companies are going to increase in 2021. Equipment supply stores, consulting and marketing firms focused in the cannabis space all will see more sales as more people get into the industry across the country driving a need for more of these businesses.

8. Oklahoma and Mississippi continue to expand

Oklahoma was one of the highest grossing states in terms of cannabis revenue despite being medical only in one of the most red states in the nation. Following their model, Mississippi will likely follow the same path as long as demand is the same.

Oklahoma will continue to hone its market and weed out cheap producers with low quality product that took advantage of an infant market with consumers lacking necessary education to choose better products. We will see a few producers rise to the top in 2021 and become available across the state.

9. Michigan explodes with huge operations

Michigan had a slow start after they legalized recreational cannabis in 2018, however sales have been rising consistently since dispensaries began opening and selling cannabis in late 2019 and through 2020. With Detroit announcing that it will be handing out licenses beginning Summer 2021, we are going to see a massive increase in grow operations and dispensaries in the area.

As the most densely populated area in the state, Detroit is going to launch Michigan into the next phase of its legal industry by the end of 2021.

10. Supply chain for hydroponic and grow industry becomes more limited

Due to shipping complications that arose in 2020 from China, 2021 is likely to be a rough year for the grow industry supply chain. While more people will be growing cannabis than ever before, the supply of the products they need to do it are going to be more limited than ever before as well.

Inevitably the low supply and high demand will lead to increased prices and decreased availability of many fertilizers, lights and media.

11. The exotics hype trend continues

The community of connoisseur cannabis consumers has driven a niche market of exotic and exclusive cannabis strains driven by media marketing campaigns and hype. This trend will continue in 2021 with brands we’ve already mentioned like Cookies and Runtz leading the way.

In states where cannabis is recreational or medical but Cookies and Runtz don’t operate, new breeders will rise with exclusive strains that you can only get from them at a specific dispensary on a specific drop date, increasing hype and demand. These strains will remain the most expensive option on the shelf in terms of flower.

12. More states will legalize cannabis

Following the trend of the last few years, more states are going to legalize cannabis recreationally or medically in 2021. New York is a state a lot are looking toward to make a move in the new year since their neighbor New Jersey approved a legalization ballot in November. With no competing industry, New York is bound to lose a lot of tax dollars to New Jersey’s legal cannabis over the border.

Other states like Pennsylvania and Virginia have had their governors voice support for a recreational cannabis industry more than once in 2020. While these states may have a legalization vote in 2021 it’s unlikely that either will pass in the near future. Other states to follow in 2021 are Connecticut and New Mexico.

Are You Ready for Your First Dab?

Are You Ready for Your First Dab?

What to consider before taking your first dab.

Shatter, wax, crumble, high terpene full spectrum, extractions and concentrates.

These are all different names and varieties of the same common-place term we’ve all heard way too many times thanks to social media; dabs.

So, let’s dive into the hottest product in the cannabis industry since cannabis and what to expect from your first dab.

What is a dab?

Simply put, a dab is a concentrated form of THC that is extracted from cannabis flower using some type of solvent, such as butane or CO2, as well as newer methods that don’t involve solvents like rosin and ice-water hash. There are even distillate options that isolate just THC while removing other cannabinoids and terpenes to create a more potent product. 

Concentrates are also consumed in a different, much more eccentric manner than simply lighting up a bong. A blow torch is used to heat up a metal, glass or ceramic element that takes the place of a normal bowl-piece that would be on a bong, called the nail. The bong that is used for dabs is commonly called an oil rig or just a rig. The concentrate is then dropped or “dabbed” into the nail using a “dabber” or narrow pointed tool with the concentrate on the tip. 

The high heat of the nail from the blow torch instantly evaporates or at lower temperature melts down the concentrates, which is then inhaled like a normal hit from a bong. The difference between a dab and a bong hit however, is blatant.

What’s the Difference?

Compared to dry flower, concentrates are much more potent, with certain concentrates surpassing 80% or even 90% THC, whereas the most potent flower rarely passes 30%. Suffice to say taking one dab compared to one puff from a pipe will yield much different, and typically much more intense results.

Imagine if there was a tiny little speck of cannabis about the size of a bread crumb, and consuming that one crumb did more than an entire bowl-pack. That is what a dab is in comparison to dry flower.

Whereas a few puffs from a pipe may lead to a nice effect that last a couple hours, a dab will provide stronger effects that may not last as long.

Additionally, the taste of concentrates in comparison to dry flower is much cleaner and smoother, though I promise it won’t seem that smooth after you exhale. Unless you’re a pro already in which case this whole article is irrelevant.

What’s it Like?

Now it’s story time. My first dab experience was intense, scary, relaxing, and exhilarating all at the same time. It wasn’t necessarily what happened to me, but what happened to the friend I was with, we’ll call him Todd. The two of us were very different in our enjoyment of cannabis, mine being much more prevalent than his, his being very little outside of special occasions.

While hanging out at Todd’s place, another friend from down the block came by with some wax, we’ll call him Jack. This was back in the early days when concentrates first started hitting the market, so I had very little info about them and Todd was clueless. I had smoked with Todd maybe one other time prior to this, and it was pretty tough to convince him then.

I managed to convince Jack to take a dab with me so I wouldn’t be alone taking one for my first time. I was first to take my dab and was instantly struck with awe and confusion upon seeing how it worked. Jack turns on a small blow torch and begins to heat up the nail while I stare like a caveman that just discovered fire.

Jack hands me the dabber with the wax on the tip, at which point I said, “That’s it?”, thinking there was no way a tiny little speck could actually be that effective.

“Trust me,” Jack replied. “This will be plenty.”

I take the dabber as Jack hands me the rig with the red hot nail on top. After waiting about 30 seconds, I rub the dabber inside the nail as smoke billows from within. I inhale and pull the hit in through a central hole in the middle of the nail. The taste was like an exemplified cannabis flavor without the harshness of plant matter tasted in dry cannabis, followed by an instantaneous attempt by my body to expel my lungs.

Imagine taking the biggest bong rip of your life, only to cough your brains out for minutes afterward. Compared to the coughing I endured from my first dab, that bong rip is nothing. I coughed my brains out for five minutes, easy. Todd followed up with what looked like a slightly bigger dab than mine, which was the first sign that things were about to take a dark turn.

Todd smoked once a month tops, and had even less of a clue about dabs than me. With the knowledge that he is just supposed to pull as hard as he would from a bong, Todd ripped the dab faster and harder than anybody I’d ever seen. By the will of some greater power he managed to hold it in for a few seconds before exhaling a massive cloud.

Now, I thought my coughing fit was bad, but Todd made me look like a champion once he started. Imagine watching a sitcom on TV, but instead of a laugh track it’s a cough track. That’s what it was like after Todd took his dab. Non-stop coughing ensued as his face turned bright red. What followed is the reason you should always do your research before trying something new.

Todd went into the bathroom after he’d been coughing for probably 10 minutes, and comes out a few minutes later and says in-between coughs, “Am I not supposed to be able to breathe?”, to which everybody replies a resounding “No”. Panic ensues (mainly from Todd), while everybody else giggles quietly knowing he couldn’t actually die from a dab. We manage to calm him down enough as his coughing starts to fade, which gives way to a sedated horse effect.

Now at this point I was feeling terrific. The effects of a dab compared to dry flower are much more noticeable immediately after, which fades into a lighter feeling high that isn’t as cumbersome as dry flower. It’s like getting all the great effects of a bong rip without the cloudiness that sometimes comes along with it.

Todd on the other hand, was on a whole different level. He had forgotten how to use his limbs, and at this point was under a blanket on the couch cuddled up to another guy, who was giving him water through a straw because he couldn’t move his arms to take the cup. This brings us to the conclusion of this wild first dab, and the reality is that it isn’t nearly as crazy or extreme as it’s been made out to be.

It’s all about the individual. Todd and I’s tolerances were much different and so we both handled the dab in very different ways, and I was much better suited to tolerate the extreme difference in affect due to my experience.

Your First Dab

Now you know what a dab is, what makes it different from normal cannabis, and an anecdotal story that shares both sides of the experience. When it comes to your first dab I cannot stress enough, always start small. Dabs are already very small, so if it looks too small to you, it’s probably just the right size to start with. 

Be aware that you are consuming a much more potent form of cannabis and THC, and you will notice the difference instantly. Due to the potency, you can also quickly build a tolerance, and going from dabbing all the time back to normal smoking might be less rewarding than before you started taking dabs as it won’t provide the same strong effects.

Lastly, just have fun!

Dabs are always getting better with new methods of extraction coming about all the time, and your local dispensary will always have a bunch of options to pick from. Pick the brain of your budtender and figure out what strain would be best for your first dab. Just don’t do the stupid dab gesture afterward, you’ll look like an idiot.

The Shady Politics of the MORE Act Vote and Cannabis Legalization [Opinion]

The Shady Politics of the MORE Act Vote and Cannabis Legalization [Opinion]

MORE Act house vote delayed

Has cannabis always been political?

While in most of our lifetimes cannabis has been illegal, it wasn’t always that way. In fact it was the complete opposite until the early 1900s.

Believe it or not, cannabis has been used for thousands of years, with traces of the plant being smoked as far back as 2,500 years. Its first use dates all the way back to 2727 BC in China where it was considered a legitimate medication. Traditional uses of cannabis for medicine might not have been as popular in the west, but that doesn’t mean the cannabis plant wasn’t just as essential.

A very brief prohibitionist history

Not only was cannabis legal prior to the 1930s, it was an essential crop. The ships that brought the colonists to America had sails made entirely from hemp fibers. Colonists were “encouraged” by law from the Queen to grow hemp as one of their staple crops.

In the 1700s and 1800s, extractions from the hemp and cannabis plant were used for medicine all over the country. In 1830, it was used to treat insomnia and migraines, and it acted as a pain reliever. From 1850 to 1942, the United States Pharmacopoeia recognized it as a legal medicine by the name “Extractum Cannabis.”

It wouldn’t be until the 1920s that the United States government would begin to lay restrictions on cannabis cultivation in the form of taxes put on farmers. After a racist, propagandized anti-cannabis movement led by Henry Anslinger, the government eventually created the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. This made it basically impossible for farmers to buy, sell or profit off of cannabis production.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The rise of the cannabis movement

Cannabis use and production certainly continued in the illicit markets across the country after prohibition in the United States. Almost 40 years after cannabis was made illegal, genetics and cultivation techniques from Europe (Holland specifically) where hydroponics was a rapidly growing industry made their way to the states.

This revolutionized how we cultivated cannabis, creating more potent cannabis with higher yields. An explosion in cannabis consumption during the 60s and 70s when the “hippy” movement took off created a perfect storm that birthed a new and booming, albeit illegal, industry in the U.S..

With a growing interest in cannabis came a renewed desire to look at why it became illegal in the first place. The reality being that the main propaganda used to make cannabis illegal was based on racist ideologies against Latinos and African Americans. A thirst for justice and the knowledge of a shameful past created a movement that continues to this day.

The movement to legalize cannabis.

The politics of cannabis legalization

The United States is a unique beast. It is the collation of 50 different states, all of which can create their own laws as long they abide the federal law put forth by the federal government. This is why half the country has legal cannabis, and the other half will still throw someone in jail for years just for having a little bit of cannabis in the car.

In a way this makes sense, as the people of the state dictate how the politicians vote. This would imply that in states where cannabis is still illegal, the people there must want it that way. But this is rarely the case. In fact, roughly two-thirds of Americans support legalization of cannabis.

So if the majority of people think cannabis should be legal, and over half the states in the country have gone ahead and just done it themselves, why hasn’t the federal government done anything?

Well that answer is easy…politics.

This article was written shortly after the news of the House of Representatives delaying their vote on the MORE Act. This bill would remove cannabis from the controlled substances list (where it is currently listed as Schedule 1 alongside heroin) and expunge criminal records of those convicted of small cannabis-related crimes.

In the United States, Democrats are considered the “progressive” party. Meaning they are the party that would normally push for something like cannabis legalization. The MORE Act itself was drafted with bipartisan efforts from Republicans and Democrats alike. Yet it was moderate democrats that voted to postpone the vote on the bill.

Why would this be? After all, the Democrats hold the majority in the House and could easily vote the bill through to the senate to begin deliberations.

But they didn’t.

Additionally the Democrats didn’t decide to postpone the vote just a few days or a couple weeks, they postponed it until at least after the election in November between now sitting President Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It might seem irrelevant, but there’s a real, shady, shitty reason that they did this.

 

The “BIG” announcement

You see, it just so happens that coincidentally, and totally by chance, that the same day that the House of Representatives (i.e. Democrats) decided to postpone the vote, Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris (the Democrat nominees) pledged to decriminalize cannabis, remove it from the scheduled substances list and expunge criminal records.

Sound familiar?

It’s almost as if the Democrats postponed their House vote until after the election, so that Biden can use it to score points and gain more votes from those who want legal cannabis.

Now, if you haven’t gotten any hints of opinion thus far in this piece, here comes some.

I have a prediction.

Call me crazy, but I think there’s just a slim chance (that’s sarcasm) that if Biden is elected, the House will pass the bill through to the Senate the same week. But if Biden loses, the bill will sit dead in the House for eternity, while Democrats blame Republicans for not letting it pass.

That, my friends, is the true politics of cannabis legalization. It isn’t about figuring out if it’s safe, or can be taxed, or if it’s profitable. We know all of that is true already.

It’s about who gets to take credit, and the letter (D or R) next to their name. For politicians, legalization isn’t about the people. It isn’t about the hundreds of thousands of people in jail for small-time cannabis crimes.

It’s about them!

Are ALL Dispensaries Essential?

Are ALL Dispensaries Essential?

Cannabis dispensaries are being labeled “essential”. Should that also mean legal?

COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, has completely changed the way we all live. As much as we don’t want to admit it, our everyday lifestyles are changing pretty drastically and the nation, its states, and businesses big and small are all struggling to find a solution.

With several states beginning to shut down “non-essential” businesses, the decision has to be made what businesses are essential. There’s the obvious essential businesses like grocery stores, doctors offices and pharmacies.

But one business most people probably didn’t expect to be marked essential is cannabis dispensaries.

Cannabis dispensaries are essential?

While most states are shutting down all non-essential businesses, exceptions have been made for a variety of businesses in different states. Most states are permitting restaurants to stay open for carry-out only, and in Colorado, you can now get alcohol to go from restaurants that serve beer.

Now in Los Angeles, amid an entire state-wide stay-in order, cannabis dispensaries have been deemed essential businesses that can remain open.

Unfortunately for recreational users, the rule only applies to medical dispensaries, which makes sense. People with a doctor’s prescription for medical cannabis, especially those with serious or debilitating conditions still need access to their medicine.

But if medical dispensaries are essential, and New York has even deemed liquor stores essential, then why shouldn’t recreational dispensaries be essential too?

The question that this really beckons to be answered though, is if medical cannabis dispensaries are essential businesses, why shouldn’t they be federally legal?

A sign we should legalize?

The fact that state governments across the country have deemed medical cannabis dispensaries essential and sales of recreational cannabis have skyrocketed over the past two weeks should be a sign that it is a product that is in great demand, right?

But that doesn’t mean recreational cannabis is as essential as medical cannabis, and as much as we hate to say it here at The Real Dirt, even alcohol.

The reason liquor stores are being permitted to remain open is likely due to the 15 million people across the country who suffer from alcoholism, and a smaller minority that suffers from serious addiction that could lead to serious health problems if they were to quit drinking cold-turkey.

If we continue to insist that cannabis is non-addictive (or at least not as harmfully addictive as alcohol and other pharmaceuticals), then there is no reason for recreational cannabis businesses to be deemed essential.

Nobody needs recreational cannabis to survive, unlike those with medical cards who could seriously rely on it. Where the debate lies, is in the differences between medical and recreational cannabis and how the line drawn between the two is so subtle and blurry.

Where does this lead?

A day after I started writing this, Colorado announced a stay-in-order, including the closure of liquor stores and recreational dispensaries. Not even four hours later, they were forced to walk it back.

There was so much backlash that the Governor of Colorado has now made recreational dispensaries and liquor stores essential businesses.

So while only medical dispensaries are deemed essential in California, recreational dispensaries are added to that list in Colorado. If other states follow behind Colorado and include recreational and medical dispensaries in their essential business orders, it could be a big bargaining chip in the fight for legalization.

If every state with medical and legal cannabis deems the businesses as essential — just as essential as grocery stores, doctor offices, and pharmacies — then how someone seriously argue that it should be illegal? We know the fight we’re in, however, and we know it won’t be that easy.

A more likely advancement that cannabis consumers can get excited about is the rise of cannabis delivery. Colorado is only allowing the first medical dispensary in Boulder to deliver starting this spring, with plans for recreational to follow in 2021.

But with current developments and a need to provide cannabis to thousands of consumers, more dispensaries will start to ask the government to move faster.

The fact remains that cannabis dispensaries are the only business across the country that have been deemed essential, while also being federally illegal. It’s pretty crazy when you really think about it. Read that first sentence again for maximum impact.

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