Second Thoughts on Interstate Commerce
Distilling the latest cannabis news.
The Broccoli Report
Monday, October 11, 2021
Time to read: 7 minutes, 36 seconds. Contains 1521 words.
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Can I also take a moment to say: Welcome to spooky season! Pumpkin patches are poppin’ off, Netflix’s new horror series Midnight Mass is giving me some solid chills, and everyone is tuning into their inner witch/mystic/more spiritually-aligned self. How better to get in the holiday mood than a Friday newsletter all about the products and brand-fueled experiences speaking to those inner witches? We’ll throw in a look at some unmet opportunities and unrealized insight from our neverending cultural fascination with the supernatural, too. This one’s for the Paid Subscriber Coven only.
The Question on My Mind This Week: Is Interstate Cannabis Commerce Actually a Terrible Idea?
Soon after it was established, Oregon’s cannabis market reached a saturation point dropping the average flower price to unprofitable levels. That’s when I became a fan of the idea of interstate commerce—the idea of opening up borders between states that have legalized cannabis. It seemed like an easy way for OR and CA flower to get the prices it deserves in newly legalized states that need huge amounts of safe, quality flower fast as a stopgap until local supply chains get put in place. However, as the rhythms of the markets crystallize, the notion of interstate commerce as a win-win solution is dissolving.
Law professor Robert Mikos initially saw interstate trade as an interesting solution that wouldn’t require much change from the federal government. In a recent paper, Mikos finds the cons outweigh the pros. He points out that opening up interstate commerce would likely lead to an immediate "race to the bottom," where big companies would seek out states with the lightest regulations and cheapest operations costs to situate their businesses. The risks of undermining equity efforts and making more room for tax fraud are high, as is the possibility of turning prime growing regions in Southern Oregon and Northern California into the Walmart production hubs of weed. Natalie Fertig penned a piece highlighting these developments in a recent POLITICO piece, diving deep into how interstate commerce—and any hasty form of federal legalization—could “invite industry behemoths to eat up small companies and push minority-owned firms out altogether.”
The big takeaway here: It’s time for nuance in legalization advocacy. We have seen enough states legalize peculiar, problematic cannabis regulations by now to know better than to blindly support any law lifting cannabis prohibitions. The stakes are higher than ever when we talk about federal laws that won’t be nearly as easy to amend as a local zoning ordinance.
One-Hitters: Cannabis News at a Glance
Our Academy—a California-based nonprofit supporting social equity in cannabis—teamed up with Life Development Group and other advocates on a first-of-its-kind document designed to provide actionable guides for the creation of social equity programs in cities and states. The open-source Social Equity Policy Advocacy Handbook considers the successes and failures in local, state, and national equity programs thus far, giving step-by-step instructions for any individual to effectively advocate and craft a thoughtful, comprehensive social equity program in their local and state governments. It’s tremendously exciting to see this kind of resource become available to all.
The autumn rains have begun to graciously soak the Northwest, but in California, this year’s water scarcity-related tensions continue to highlight complex intersections of cultivation needs, ethnic identity, and water rights. A recent Undark piece breaks down the particular tensions in the Shasta Valley, where heated, litigious clashes over the basin’s groundwater have “pitted White residents against the thousands of Hmong American families that have settled into the eastern region of the valley since the mid-2010s.” (Many now make a living growing cannabis in Shasta Valley greenhouses.) The lawsuits—predominantly filed by white residents—claim the cannabis grows unfairly deplete water from the shared basin, but Mount Shasta Vista residents advocating for the Hmong families suggest it’s a cover to force the Hmong community out of the area. They point to the fact that in May 2021, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors banned trucks carrying more than 100 gallons of water from certain county roads surrounding the Mount Shasta Vista subdivision. This cut off the greenhouses, but also many Hmong families who relied on the water trucks to live, raise animals, and grow vegetables. It’s a worthwhile read.
Tumblr is officially cool with weed?! The company announced new advertising policies that now permit CBD ads nationwide and cannabis ads in California and Colorado. It’s no free-for-all: Cannabis ads need to be geotargeted exclusively to people of legal consumption age, approved in advance by Tumblr, and sold only through the company’s direct sales team. Advertisers also need to verify they have an active license and ensure that ads aren’t designed to attract children or promote “unsafe or irresponsible use of cannabis.” Let’s hope this is the first domino to fall in social media’s contentious relationship with cannabis-related accounts.
As you most likely saw somewhere on the internet by now: Justin Bieber partnered with MSO brand Palms on his own cannabis line, Peaches. It’ll be available in California, Florida, Massachusetts—all over. One place it won’t ever be found? Canada. Not because of market limbo or even the difficulties of adjusting to a different supply chain and rules. It’s because celebrity brands are virtually illegal under Canada’s branding and advertising laws. I wasn’t aware of how strict this ban is until this Curiocity story came across my virtual desk. It points out that the Canadian act legalizing cannabis forbids “cannabis products that could appeal to younger Canadians, such as using a real or fictional person to promote it or glamourize it in any way.” This vague stipulation is based on an assessment of “reasonable grounds” to believe a product could influence underage Canadians. Obviously, Seth Rogen’s Houseplant brand made it work in spite of the circumstances, but perhaps this rule contributed to Houseplant’s subsequent departure from the Canadian market.
Bored with apple-picking? Try u-pick Hemp! Now through October 23, New York’s Ananda Farms is opening their Fulton-area farm to the hemp-curious from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., no entry fee or admission required. Ten percent of all proceeds will be donated to the company’s 501c3 nonprofit, Veteran’s Ananda Inc., to provide free support, care, and rehabilitation to veterans, first responders, and their families.
The gift guide season has commenced, and Broccoli founder Anja Charbonneau kicked it off with this piece on four beautiful bongs for Architectural Digest.
MedMen co-founders are in the headlines again, this time for suing their new partners. They’re accusing the newly instated heads of MedMen of mismanaging the “fire sale” of MedMen to The Parent Co. for $56.2 million. For a couple of dudes pretty desperate for an infusion of cash, they seem to be drunkenly optimistic about getting a better deal elsewhere.
Crain Communications, the Detroit-based media company behind industry publications like Ad Age and Pensions & Investments, acquired cannabis financial news site Green Market Report.
New Michigan brand Gal Pals sold out of their mini joints within hours of debuting at Lume cannabis shops statewide. The tins of mini joints are produced and distributed exclusively by Freedom Green Farms, who plan on donating portions of sales in perpetuity to the Michigan-based Shades of Pink Foundation.
In support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, California cannabis brand Golden Hour will also be supporting the Shades of Pink Foundation through proceeds from their new Open Your Heart set. It includes eighths of Lava Flower and Honey Flower and a cannabis terpene soy candle, packaged in a marbled pink box decorated in the style of suminagashi floating ink. A “majority of the proceeds” will be donated through October (or while supplies last).
The copywriter in me loves the name of new cannabis spirit, MXXN. Intended as one-to-one substitutes for gin, tequila, and whiskey, the offerings include a fresh, floral London Dry; an oak-y Jalisco Agave with mineral notes; and a sweet, smoky Kentucky Oak flavor. I’m extra-charmed by the straightforward dosage directions: 2 mg THC per 0.5 oz; 4 mg THC in 1 oz; 6 mg THC in a standard 1.5 oz cocktail pour. Available in the California market now, but preparing to launch in others.
The flower-forward stoner in me loves the new single-strain collaboration between Aster Farms and cannabis aperitif Artet. Made with extra flavorful live resin in Aster Farms’ Honeydew Funk strain, this seasonal Founders’ Blend #1 (available in CA) should make a wonderfully refreshing, terp-y tonic to mix with a splash of sparkling water.
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