New York City’s newest recreational dispensary is a big win, Mississippi opened its medical cannabis market, and Hong Kong banned CBD.
Let’s dive into this week’s cannanews.
NYC’s Second Dispensary Is a Big Win for Social Equity
New York City has officially opened another recreational cannabis dispensary—just the second in the state. However, this isn’t just any ordinary dispensary. Its owner, Roland Conner, not only represents the city’s all too recent past but also the opportunity its budding cannabis market can offer those hurt by the “war on drugs.”
As a teen, the now 50-year-old Roland Conner became one of many Black and brown youth disproportionally affected by the war on drugs. Conner was arrested in 1991 on minor cannabis offenses, which led to a months-long stint in prison. Though Conner would go on to find success in property management and transitional housing, working in cannabis—let alone owning a dispensary—always seemed like a fantasy.
And who can blame him? As recently as 2020, Black and Latino people still accounted for 95% of cannabis arrests and 96% of cannabis convictions in NYC. This startling discrepancy existed despite white people consuming cannabis at the same rate as Black and Latino people. Thankfully, the state and NYC have made drastic improvements since then, making sure to prioritize communities of color.
In March of last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) into law. The bill created the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and Cannabis Control Board (CCB) to regulate the state’s recreational cannabis industry. The OCM—tasked with deciding who received one of the heavily sought-after Retail Dispensary licenses—earmarked some of the licenses for “social equity applicants” who had been:
- Personally convicted with a cannabis-related offense or
- Had a close family member arrested on cannabis charges.
Thanks to the state’s dedication to undoing the damage of the war on drugs, Connor and countless others have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of NY’s legal cannabis market.
What do you think of NYC’s first legal cannabis dispensary? Would you like to see your state institute similar social equity measures? Let us know in the comments!
Mississippi Celebrates First Medical Cannabis Sale
Mississippi’s medical cannabis program is officially open for business! Last week, three Mississippi medical cannabis dispensaries opened their doors to crowds of excited patients.
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Debbie McDermott was the first patient to visit one of these dispensaries—Cannabis Company in Brookhaven. Unfortunately, McDermott’s inaugural visit did not go according to plan. It took over 2 hours for McDermott to get her cannabis after putting in her order. The delay, the dispensary says, was caused by a technical issue with the point-of-sale system.
Thankfully, things went smoothly otherwise, including at the two other dispensaries to open for business—Hybrid Relief and Star Buds. With the success of opening day, cannabis advocates across the state are anxiously anticipating the continued growth of the young market.
Hong Kong Bans CBD
Earlier this week, Hong Kong announced its new ban on CBD. The ban aligns Hong Kong with the zero-tolerance drug policy of China.
Prior to the ban, CBD was widely available in Hong Kong cafes, retail stores, breweries, and even spas. Going forward, possession or consumption of CBD will result in a minimum of 7 years in prison and $127,000 in fines.
Authorities in the city say the ban will prevent illegal traders from converting CBD into THC at home with the use of “strong acid.” However, the process of converting CBD to THC is incredibly complicated and often requires a fully stocked laboratory environment.
Unsurprisingly, the CBD ban has been met with fierce opposition. Hong Kong local Denise Tam, who runs an online retailer that sells CBD-infused products, is one of them. After being introduced to CBD by her partner a few years ago, Tam says the substance helped her better manage her depression and anxiety.
Tam says she has seen those around her similarly embrace CBD and its benefits in recent years. Most notably, locals have increasingly relied on CBD products to treat their eczema—a skin condition that is common in Hong Kong.
Many of these individuals switched over to CBD products from prescription medicine which would cause unwanted side effects. With the ban in place, Tam says, many of these folks are concerned about how they’ll proceed with their skin care.
“It’s regrettable that the government banned an industry with such bright business prospects promoting wellness,” Tam says. “But it’s great that the public perception on the definition of drugs shifted.”
What do you think of Hong Kong’s CBD ban? Do you think it’ll backfire and cause more outrage than it’s worth? Let us know in the comments!