Summer is when everyone wants to kick back, take a break, and breathe a little easier. Although July is associated with fun in the sun and vacation time, the cannabis movement is not taking a break or slowing down. In fact, advocacy groups and politicians across the nation are debating from both sides of the legalization aisle, with plenty of legislation.
This July “State of the States roundup” includes news from across the country and around the globe. If these stories are any indication, July will be a hot month for cannabis-related news and events.
Florida Governor Restricts Hemp Products
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) restricts the state’s sale of certain hemp-based products. The 2024 Republican presidential candidate signed legislation in July banning the sale of consumable hemp products, including chewing gum, to individuals under 21. Now, businesses can face penalties for marketing hemp in ways considered “appealing” to children and young people. The measure also ensures that only hemp products processed in a facility with a valid permit issued by a human health or food safety regulatory organization can be in stores. Previously, DeSantis signed a separate cannabis measure prohibiting sober living facilities from allowing residents to use or possess medicinal marijuana.
DeSantis has been critical of marijuana reform, saying that cannabis use hurts the workforce and inhibits productivity. He also publicly stated that if elected president, he would not consider decriminalizing cannabis.
Virginia Governor Says No Cannabis for Residents
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) doesn’t want residents to get their hopes up for recreational cannabis. Marijuana sales in the state could have begun in 2024 thanks to the efforts of former Governor Ralph Northam, who signed the 2021 Cannabis Control Act, allowing adults over 21 to possess small amounts of recreational marijuana. However, provisions in the new law required additional action by lawmakers. Republicans blocked that action in the House in 2022 and 2023.
Gov. Youngkin recently commented that he is not interested in furthering the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Virginia. Currently, the administration says retail marijuana sales are illegal and legislative action needs to happen for that to change. There is little chance of that happening with opposition in the Republican-controlled House, which has killed cannabis reform measures for the past two years.
Record Cannabis Sales for Maryland
Residents in Maryland celebrate Independence Day with a side of cannabis. Mere days after it legalized recreational cannabis, dispensaries in the Old Line State saw record sales of nearly $10.4 million over the 4th of July weekend. Some dispensaries estimate they served at least 1,000 recreational marijuana customers with lines stretching out the door. Recreational cannabis officially became legal on July 1st, and residents were not shy about showing their support.
Long Island Gets Ready to Welcome First Recreational Marijuana Dispensary
The first New York State-licensed recreational marijuana dispensary on Long Island is finally ready to open. Although it has been a long and arduous process, as of July 8th, Strain Stars opened its doors to welcome Long Island residents looking for safe cannabis products. Strain Stars was among the first companies to receive its Conditional Adult-Use Retails Dispensary license in November. However, New York’s slow recreational cannabis rollout stalled some businesses from moving forward with their plans to open retail locations.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) says she is thrilled to see the Long Island business open and hopes her state’s ambitious goals of equity and inclusivity in the cannabis industry come to fruition.
Nebraskans Ready Ballot Measure
Advocates in the Cornhusker State are once again gathering signatures to put medicinal cannabis legalization on the state’s election ballot. Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) is on its third attempt to put its proposal to the people. In 2020, the state’s supreme court tossed out the group’s first measure, while a revived push in 2022 stalled out without garnering the requisite number of signatures. At the same time, legislation sponsored by NMM co-chair and state senator Anna Wishart (D-27) met a grim fate in the state’s conservative unicameral legislature. But despite these setbacks, hopes remain high for the planned plebiscite.
NMM is now seeking donations and volunteers to help them collect the roughly 87,000 signatures they’ll need to get their proposal on the ballot for next fall.
Move Over 420 and Make Room for 710
Some in the marijuana industry want to turn July 10th into the newest cannabis holiday. Without a doubt, April 20th – 420 – is the unofficial marijuana holiday. Although there is debate over how the date became associated with marijuana culture, there is no debating the popularity of cannabis-related products and events on 4/20.
However, some in the cannabis industry want to see a new marijuana holiday bloom, calling 710 the “hashish holiday.” Some say that in the cannabis culture, 710 is an inside reference to oil. Invert the letters and turn them upside down. Retailers hope the trend catches on, sparking a new industry holiday centered around cannabis wax, resins, and dabs.
National Focus: Debate Over SAFE Banking Act
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says the SAFE Banking Act is on the summer agenda. The dean of New York’s congressional delegation considers the SAFE Banking Act one of the upper chamber’s top priorities. However, he acknowledges that the legislation has nowhere to go without the support of Republican lawmakers.
The SAFE Banking Act would give cannabis businesses in legal states the ability to secure financial services from banks and other financial institutions. Currently, banks can face severe penalties from the federal government for conducting business with cannabis companies, retailers, and cultivators.
Sen. Schumer says passing meaningful cannabis reform legislation will be an uphill battle. Many Republicans in the Senate oppose cannabis reform, and critical GOP members, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), continue to obstruct forward movement in the Senate.