Week in Review: NBA, Players Agree to Terms Involving Cannabis

July 9, 2023 ·

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, NBA and the NBPA reach a ground-breaking agreement on cannabis policies; Maryland reports more than $10 million in cannabis sales during the state’s opening weekend of adult use market; New York secures $150 million for cannabis social equity investment fund and the only licensed hemp farm in the British Isles closes after UK government dispute.

NBA and Players Union Reach Ground-breaking Agreement on Cannabis Policies

This week, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) finalized a new bargaining agreement, marking a significant positive shift in the league’s stance on cannabis. After two months of negotiations, the seven-year contract has been officially signed and cannabis has been removed from the list of banned substances—with some caveats.

Players are now permitted to have a stake in entities that produce or sell CBD products, whether controlling or non-controlling. However, active ownership in cannabis companies is limited to below 50% of the business.

The collective bargaining agreement also addresses player endorsements, stating that players can promote or endorse brands, products or services related to CBD products. However, endorsements of cannabis companies are still prohibited.

The agreement also establishes penalties for players convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances and those involved in the felony distribution of cannabis.

Maryland Reports More Than $10 Million in Cannabis Sales During Opening Weekend of State’s Adult-Use Market

Maryland’s new adult-use cannabis market had an impressive start, with sales surpassing $10 million over the holiday weekend, according to the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA). From Friday through Sunday, combined recreational and medical cannabis sales totaled $10,429,736—more than double the medical cannabis sales of $3,985,527 during the same 4th of July weekend last year.

On the first official day of adult-use sales, Saturday alone saw $4,518,377 in cannabis purchases. Most sales ($3,558,947) came from recreational cannabis, while medical cannabis sales reached $959,430 for the day.

In a video statement, Governor Wes Moore highlighted the significance of the moment, acknowledging the historical impact of cannabis policy on communities. He also emphasized the need to address the failures of the War on Drugs and the importance of moving towards a more equitable and inclusive approach.

Nearly 100 existing medical cannabis dispensaries in Maryland received dual licensing approval to serve adult consumers. The MCA also announced that it had collected over $15 million in licensing conversion fees, which will be allocated to community reinvestment funds. An additional $45 million from these fees will be distributed over the next 18 months to support community initiatives.

New York Secures $150M Investment for Cannabis Social Equity Investment Fund

New York has achieved a significant milestone with a $150 million investment from Chicago Atlantic Admin, LLC for the state’s Social Equity Investment Fund. This fund is part of a public-private partnership to develop cannabis dispensaries for social-equity entrepreneurs, fostering inclusivity in the industry.

With this investment, the fund’s total reaches $200 million, the maximum allowed under New York’s adult-use cannabis legalization law. The remaining $50 million will come from taxes on adult-use cannabis products, ensuring the funds are generated within the industry.

In a statement, Governor Kathy Hochul expressed her satisfaction with the investment, saying that it “reinforces New York’s commitment to building partnerships that benefit New Yorkers and setting right the wrongs of the past.” 

The Cannabis Social Equity Investment Fund will provide financial assistance to individuals with a CAURD license to help cover the expenses of establishing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries. This support includes identifying and leasing suitable retail locations and designing, constructing and outfitting the spaces.

The initiative was introduced by Gov. Hochul and enacted by the state’s legislature to provide aid to individuals disproportionately impacted by the state’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, who also meet the licensing requirements of the Office of Cannabis Management.

Licensed Hemp Farm in the British Isles Closes After UK Government Dispute

The only licensed hemp farm in the British Isles has shut down following a disagreement with the United Kingdom’s government over the legality of its products. Jersey Hemp, which grew hemp and extracted CBD on-site, expressed disappointment with the Home Office’s declaration that its products were illegal.

Despite working with the UK Food Standards Agency to comply with regulations, the farm faced restrictions on exporting its products to the UK due to trace amounts of THC. This move led to layoffs, halted operations and potential legal action against both governments.

Jersey Hemp had invested three years in ensuring compliance with UK standards, making the closure devastating. The dispute highlights the complexities hemp and CBD businesses face within legal frameworks. The UK government requires import licenses and compliance with controlled drugs regulations, which posed significant challenges for the farm. Although CBD in its pure form is not considered a controlled drug, products containing THC or other controlled cannabinoids are subject to regulations.

The closure prompted discussions between Jersey Hemp and the British government regarding exports, while the Jersey authorities offered subsequent support. Ministers responsible for economic development, tourism, sport, culture, health and social services reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the cannabis cultivation industry. They emphasized that licensed cultivators in Jersey must comply with the legislation of the jurisdictions where they export their products. The outcome of these discussions remains uncertain and legal action against both governments is being considered. (Full Story)

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