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Arizona Hits Recreational Marijuana Sales Record, With New Program Catching Up To Medical

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Michigan closed out 2021 with another record-breaking month of adult-use marijuana sales in December, state officials say.

The state saw more than $135 million in recreational cannabis purchases and about $33 million in medical marijuana sales last month.

Andrew Brisbo, executive director of the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), said on Monday that the numbers “marked another high for the adult-use industry.” The previous adult-use marijuana sales record happened in October, with about $128 million in purchases.

It’s good to note that the new high is not because of increasing prices. In fact, prices in medical and adult-use continue to drop, month over month, and year over year.

Dec 2020: adult use was $350/oz & medical was $265/oz.

Dec 2021: adult-use at $185/oz & medical at $175/oz.

— Andrew Brisbo (@AndrewBrisbo) January 10, 2022

“It’s good to note that the new high is not because of increasing prices,” he said. “In fact, prices in medical and adult-use continue to drop, month over month, and year over year.”

While December set the new record for adult-use marijuana purchases, the state saw the most combined recreational and medical cannabis sales in July, with about $171 million sold.

The latest data brings Michigan’s total cannabis sales for 2021 to $1,311,951,737 for adult-use and $481,225,540 for medical marijuana. And those purchases are translating into hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for the state.

About $131 million is going to a cannabis excise tax fund that supports various initiatives such as infrastructure and public education, MRA spokesman David Harns said. Another $115 million will support the state general fund.

Taxes flowing into the state of Michigan because of legalized marijuana in 2021:

$131.2 million goes to the marijuana excise fund which gets divvied up amongst local government, roads, and schools.

$115.4 million goes to the state sales tax bucket.

Almost 1/4 billion in taxes. https://t.co/kw2N4shya1

— David Harns (@DavidHarns) January 10, 2022

In nearby Illinois, December was also another record-breaking month, with $137.9 million in adult-use marijuana sales.

Last year, Illinois took in almost $100 million more in tax revenue from recreational cannabis sales than from alcohol, state data shows. And cannabis tax dollars have exceeded those for liquor every month since February.

Part of that marijuana tax revenue is actively funding equity initiatives in the state. For example, Illinois officials announced last month that applications are opening for $45 million in new grants—funded by cannabis tax dollars—that will support programs meant to reinvest in communities most harmed by the drug war.

States that have legalized cannabis have collectively garnered more than $10 billion in tax revenue since the first legal sales started in 2014, according to a report released by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) last week.

In Arizona, medical and adult-use marijuana sales topped $1 billion in the first ten months of the year, state tax officials said.

California collected about $817 million in adult-use marijuana tax revenue during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, state officials estimated in August. That’s 55 percent more cannabis earnings for state coffers than was generated in the prior fiscal year.

A recent scientific analysis of sales data in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington State found that marijuana purchases “have increased more during the COVID-19 pandemic than in the previous two years.”

In July alone, at least three states saw record-breaking sales for recreational cannabis. The same goes for Missouri’s medical marijuana program.

GOP Texas Governor Says People Shouldn’t Be Jailed Over Marijuana Possession, But Misstates Current Law

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Amazon Endorses Federal Cannabis Legalization

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Amazon said this week that it supports a Republican congresswoman’s proposal to end the prohibition of marijuana on the federal level, the company’s latest embrace of legalization. 

In a tweet posted on Tuesday, Amazon said it was “pleased to endorse” a bill introduced by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC).

“Like so many in this country, we believe it’s time to reform the nation’s cannabis policy and Amazon is committed to helping lead the effort,” the company said

Mace introduced the legislation, called the “States Reform Act,” in November, saying at the time that “Washington needs to provide a framework which allows states to make their own decisions on cannabis moving forward.”

The bill would remove cannabis from Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act, a law that has kept weed illegal on the federal level and has made some states hesitant to pursue their own cannabis laws. 

“Today, only three states lack some form of legal cannabis,” Mace said in her November announcement. “My home state of South Carolina permits CBD, Florida allows medical marijuana, California and others have full recreational use, for example. Every state is different. Cannabis reform at the federal level must take all of this into account. And it’s past time federal law codifies this reality.”

Mace said that her bill would enshrine protections for veterans who have used cannabis to treat their PTSD, and would be respectful of each state’s own unique laws.

“This is why I’m introducing the States Reform Act, a bill which seeks to remove cannabis from Schedule I in a manner consistent with the rights of states to determine what level of cannabis reform each state already has, or not,” she continued in her announcement. “This bill supports veterans, law enforcement, farmers, businesses, those with serious illnesses, and it is good for criminal justice reform. Furthermore, a super-majority of Americans support an end to cannabis prohibition, which is why only three states in the country have no cannabis reform at all. The States Reform Act takes special care to keep Americans and their children safe while ending federal interference with state cannabis laws. Washington needs to provide a framework which allows states to make their own decisions on cannabis moving forward. This bill does that.”

On Tuesday, Mace touted the bill’s endorsement from Amazon, saying the company “is making a common-sense decision that many other businesses, large and small, agree with.”

“Amazon employs nearly a million U.S. workers, and this opens up their hiring pool by about 10 percent. Cannabis reform is supported by over three quarters of the American public, and the States Reform Act is something both sides of the aisle can get behind,” Mace said.

For Amazon, America’s second largest employer, the endorsement is yet another sign of the company’s weed-friendly stance.

Last June, Amazon said that it would “no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use.” In September, the company went further, saying it was reinstating “employment eligibility for former employees and applicants who were previously terminated or deferred during random or pre-employment marijuana screenings.”

The are also emerging signs that the company is set to ramp up its pro-marijuana lobbying efforts, with Politico reporting in July that cannabis groups “are pinning their hopes on Amazon using its experienced lobbying team and deep pockets to support their efforts, believing it could help them launch ad campaigns and persuade lawmakers opposed to legalization—especially those who represent states where cannabis is legal—to change their minds.”

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Missouri backpedals, grants medical marijuana grow license to losing applicant

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A Missouri government panel overturned a decision by state medical marijuana regulators and awarded a cannabis cultivation permit to an applicant that initially was rejected in 2019 and then sued the state.

According to Kansas City, Missouri, NPR affiliate KCUR, the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission awarded NWGMO a grow permit in late December after it found that the state’s scoring process for the MMJ licenses was directed by “intentionally vague guidance.”

The state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which oversees Missouri’s MMJ industry, announced it would not appeal the ruling in favor of a settlement to end NWGMO’s lawsuit.

NWGMO is one of hundreds of companies that complained, appealed or filed suit over the scoring process after the announcement of license winners.

The commission found that the DHHS’s overall process was flawed and that NWGMO’s case presented a solid example because the company submitted two identical applications that were returned with very different numerical scores.

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That situation, the commission found, revealed that the licensing had been more subjective than objective. So the commission sided with NWGMO.

This is the fourth time the commission has overruled the DHHS on licensing matters, KCUR reported, including other instances of inconsistencies in the state’s MMJ license application scoring.

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EU Cannabis Consumption Increased and Ecstasy Use Decreased in 2021

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A new survey studying the consumption habits of participants in the European Union (EU) reveal that cannabis use has increased, and the use of ecstasy has decreased considerably.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) recently found that cannabis and ecstasy saw the strongest changes in consumption habits. The European Web Survey on Drugs was conducted online between March and April 2021 with the intention of illuminating patterns of drug use to consider in future regulation. Throughout 21 EU countries and nine non-EU countries, the survey recorded answers from those who were 18 or older and had used drugs.

The survey results, published on January 20, recorded the drug use breakdown of the 48,469 participants. “Cannabis was the drug used most, with 93 percent of survey respondents reporting to have used it in the previous 12 months and with little variation between countries,” the survey results state. “MDMA/ecstasy (35 percent), cocaine (35 percent) and amphetamine (28 percent) were the next most reported illicit substances, with the order of the three drugs varying by country. Around a third of respondents (32 percent) reported using more (herbal) cannabis and 42 percent using less MDMA/ecstasy.” The results also show that a group of participants had used LSD (20 percent), a new psychoactive substance (16 percent), ketamine (13 percent) and heroin (three percent).

Furthermore, participants from the Western Balkans (which is made up of a Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo) also echoed the high consumption of cannabis, and decreased use in other substances—especially ecstasy. “Most respondents (91 percent) reported using cannabis in the previous 12 months, followed by cocaine (38 percent), MDMA/ecstasy (22 percent) and amphetamine (20 percent). Again, around a third of respondents (32 percent) reported using more (herbal) cannabis and 34 percent using less MDMA/ecstasy.”

In terms of where these substances were consumed, 85 percent of participants in the EU and 72 percent of the Western Balkans used these substances at home, rather than at public venues. It also takes into account that the motivation for cannabis use at home was because of a multitude of reasons. Participants wanted to relax, get high in order to improve sleep, but their use of MDMA or ecstasy was used to attain “euphoric and socialising [sic] effects.”

The study result breakdown states that the information shared by the 50,000 people included in the survey is just a small portion of the EU, but still offers a useful glimpse into the changing habits of residents. “While web surveys are not representative of the general population, when carefully conducted and combined with traditional data-collection methods, they can help paint a more detailed, realistic and timely picture of drug use and drug markets in Europe. Over 100 organisations [sic] took part in the initiative, including the Reitox national focal points, universities and NGOs.”

EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel shared a statement regarding the goal of this survey, and the amount of participation needed from organizations to sort and analyze the data. “Web surveys are a key ingredient in our monitoring of Europe’s shifting drugs problem,” Goosdeel said. “They help us reach an important target population through innovative online methods. Today’s results reveal the wide variety of drugs available across Europe and provide valuable information on emerging trends and changing patterns of use during the COVID-19 pandemic. An impressive 100 organisations [sic] joined us this time in building, translating and disseminating the survey, ensuring that this is now an invaluable tool to help tailor our responses and shape future drug policies.”

Other studies in the U.S. have shed light on other topics related to cannabis, such as targeting teens with ads on social media or an updated Gallup survey that shows that a majority of Americans support legalization.

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