Legal Weed Sales Projected To Grow 14% in 2023

Sales of legal cannabis in the United States are projected to grow by 14% in 2023, according to a recent report from Colorado-based cannabis industry market analysis firm BDSA. In an updated five-year global legal cannabis market forecast, the company reports that global spending on legal cannabis increased by 4.8% to $32 billion in 2022. BDSA projects that the global cannabis market will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.2% from 2022 to 2027, resulting in a total worldwide regulated cannabis market size of $59.6 billion by 2027.

The U.S. legal cannabis market has shown significant growth across the industry as more and more states legalize adult-use cannabis and medical marijuana. And while the industry’s growth slowed in 2022 in response to market conditions including rising inflation and economic uncertainty, BDSA expects the U.S. legal weed market to again show significant growth this year, projecting a 14% increase in the market in 2023.

“Legal cannabis spending slowed significantly in 2022 due to rapid price declines across all markets,” Roy Bingham, co-founder and CEO of BDSA, said in a statement from the company. “Despite this, our updated forecast predicts strong growth in the U.S. driven by developing markets, particularly the adult-use markets of Missouri, New Jersey and New York.”

Currently, 21 states have legalized cannabis for adults, while 37 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories have passed laws to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Additionally, 11 states permit the use of low-THC cannabis formulations for medicinal purposes. Only Idaho and Nebraska continue to prohibit all forms of cannabis. 

Some Mature Cannabis Markets Contracted In 2022

The U.S. cannabis market posted rapid growth during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdowns kept consumers home and dispensaries were designated as essential businesses in many states. But last year marked the first decline in overall cannabis spending in some mature cannabis markets in the United States. In the West, early cannabis policy reform adopters California, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon saw a combined drop in spending on legal adult-use cannabis of 16.5% in 2022, according to the updated report. BDSA expects most mature cannabis markets in the U.S. to return to positive growth in 2024, although more slowly through 2027 than in the years leading up to the pandemic. 

Newer legal cannabis markets showed strong growth in 2022, despite the decline seen in more mature markets. BDSA also projects new legal adult-use cannabis markets to launch by 2027, predicting a start of legal sales in Maryland in 2024 and in Florida and Ohio in 2025. The launch of new recreational marijuana cannabis markets is also possible in Minnesota and Hawaii by 2027, BDSA notes, but the company does not expect to see federal cannabis legalization during the five-year forecast period.

Brian Vicente, founding partner of the cannabis law firm Vicente LLP, agreed that emerging markets will help fuel the growth of the legal cannabis industry in the upcoming years.

 “The future remains bright for the cannabis industry in the United States. Despite a recent setback at the polls, with Oklahoma voters shooting down legalization this month, we are still seeing other domestic markets expand and commence sales,” Vicente wrote in an email. “This includes significant revenue growth in newly-legal cannabis markets like Missouri and New Jersey, and also emerging medical markets like Mississippi. With additional states like Florida and Ohio looking likely to legalize in the next several years, we can expect continued expansion in cannabis sales.”

By 2027, U.S. sales of adult-use cannabis are forecasted to contribute 78% of the total spending on legal cannabis worldwide, up from 64% in 2022. U.S. legal cannabis spending is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.3%, from $26.1 billion in 2022 to $44.5 billion in 2027, with the industry’s growth driven primarily by the New York, Florida, New Jersey and California recreational marijuana markets. 

Globally, cannabis markets outside the U.S. and Canada are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 40% to $9.5 billion in 2027, up from $1.8 billion in 2022. BDSA forecasts the Canadian market will see overall growth of 12% this year, increasing to a $5.7 billion market by 2027 at a CAGR of 6.3%. New adult-use markets in Germany and Mexico are expected to be the primary drivers of global growth, while existing limited medical cannabis programs are expected to expand, particularly in the European Union and Latin America.

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Connecticut Cannabis Sales Top $18 Million in February

Licensed cannabis sales topped $18 million in Connecticut during February, the first full month of regulated recreational marijuana sales in the state. Sales of adult-use cannabis began on January 10, only seven months after lawmakers passed legislation to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed legislation to end the prohibition of recreational marijuana in June 2021, legalizing the possession of cannabis by adults 21 and older and creating a framework for regulated adult-use sales. The measure also included restorative justice and social equity measures, including provisions that led to the expungement of nearly 43,000 marijuana-related convictions at the beginning of the year.

The Connecticut legislature passed a bill to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in 2012, leading to the launch of legal medical marijuana sales to patients with qualifying debilitating medical conditions in September 2014. Regulated sales of adult-use cannabis began in Connecticut at seven of the state’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries on January 10.

“Today marks a turning point in the injustices caused by the war on drugs, most notably now that there is a legal alternative to the dangerous, unregulated, underground market for cannabis sales,” Lamont said in a statement last month. “Together with our partners in the legislature and our team of professionals at the Department of Consumer Protection, we’ve carefully crafted a securely regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, social justice, and equity. I look forward to continuing our efforts to ensure that this industry remains inclusive and safe as it develops.”

Cannabis Sales Data Released On Friday

Last week, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) released cannabis sales figures for February of this year, the first full calendar month of regulated adult-use cannabis. According to data provided by the department on Friday, total regulated sales of marijuana for the month came to more than $18.4 million. Total adult-use cannabis purchases in the state totaled about $7.02 million from February 1 through February 28, while medical marijuana sales contributed approximately $11.4 million to the monthly total.

Registered medical marijuana patients purchased 316,644 cannabis products in Connecticut last month, while adults 21 and older bought 168,565 adult-use cannabis items. Since the launch of recreational marijuana sales last month, the DCP’s Drug Control Division has approved more than 600 new brand names for products that may be sold in both the medical marijuana market and the adult-use market.

The DCP collected the cannabis sales data with its BioTrack seed-to-sale tracking system, which monitors the production, distribution and sale of all medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis merchandise in the state. In a press release, the department noted that it does not regulate prices, set sales expectations, or make revenue projections for Connecticut’s licensed cannabis market. 

The department noted that cannabis sales information will be made public on or about the tenth day of each month. All data is subject to further review by the DCP. Because Connecticut’s seed-to-sale tracking system was not operational until last month, sales figures for the medical marijuana market prior to January 10 are not available.

Purchase Limits On Recreational Weed in Connecticut

To ensure that there is a sufficient supply of cannabis for the state’s medical marijuana patients, purchases of recreational marijuana are currently limited to a quarter ounce of cannabis flower per transaction. Medical marijuana patients are permitted to buy up to five ounces of cannabis per month, with no quantity limits on individual transactions. 

In its notice last week, the DCP reminded consumers and patients that information about responsible cannabis use and the potential health risks of using marijuana is available online.

“Adults who choose to consume cannabis are reminded to do so responsibly, including storing cannabis products in their original packaging, locked up and out of reach of children and pets,” the department noted in its press release. “Resources regarding responsible cannabis use, as well as information about addiction and health risks is available at”

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California Cannabis Sales Declined in 2022

Finalized data from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration shows that California cannabis sales declined in 2022. The decrease in sales is the first dip since adult-use sales began in 2018.

In 2021, the state collected $5.77 billion in adult-use cannabis sales, but 2022 numbers reflect only $5.3 billion for the past year—an $8.2% decrease. According to coverage by Forbes, many believe that expensive taxes and not enough dispensaries have contributed to this decline.

Cannabis cultivators in California have been trying to tell legislators about the issue. “Most of us farmers have been trying to tell the state [regulators] that the marketplace is imploding,” Johnny Casali, founder of Huckleberry Hill Farms, told Forbes. “The drop in retail sales means the customer is tired of paying the exorbitant taxes and are now buying it from a friend of a friend or the guy on the corner.” Casali explained how all of his product was sold in 2022, but he still experienced a loss of $50,000.

This loss is likely due to the decreased price per pound of cannabis statewide. American financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald cites the wholesale price of cannabis at $665 a pound, which is a 26% decrease year over year. According to New Leaf Data Services, wholesale cannabis prices have dropped more than 50% between 2017 and 2022.

California has more than 800 licensed cannabis dispensaries, and cultivators grow more than can be purchased. Casali hopes that the situation will improve. “We are already getting orders for this season,” Casali said. “But without federal legalization, I don’t know how we fix our supply-and-demand problem.”

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic states that there was a boost in California revenue gain due to increased sales during the pandemic, between 2020-2021. Zuanic believes that a return to more normal sales, on top of current inflation, is also contributing to the sales decline. He did state his belief that 2023 will be a year that California’s cannabis industry will bounce back though, comparing the 8% decrease in 2022 with the 68% increase in 2020.

Glass House Brands founder Graham Farrar told Forbes that he believes that Californians didn’t smoke less in 2022, but that the black market is just outselling legal flower. “Nobody prefers bathtub gin, right? You only drink bathtub gin if legal gin costs twice as much,” Farrar said. “If we could bring taxes on the consumer down, I think you’ll see more people in the legal market. And I think you’d actually collect more tax revenue.”

The overall decline of cannabis sales in general has pushed some cannabis brands to leave California. Garcia Hand Picked recently announced its departure from California. “We’re taking a pause in California,” said the brand’s parent company, Holistic Industries. “We want to ensure CA consumers have the highest quality flower for the long term, so we are in the process of choosing a new local partner for cultivation, production, sales, and distribution of Garcia Hand Picked in CA.”

Some regions are trying to help cannabis cultivators, such as Sonoma County, which recently eased tax burdens for some growers based on their operating size. Most recently, a California grant of $20 million has been earmarked to “provide local jurisdictions with resources to expand access to regulated cannabis products to underserved areas.”

In mid-February, the last Californian federal prisoner who was imprisoned for cannabis was finally released. After spending 15 years in prison, Luke Scarmazzo was released with the help of The Weldon Project. “The feeling is surreal. We’ve worked toward this day for so long,” Scarmazzo wrote on Facebook. “This was a huge victory for my family, friends, community and the entire cannabis movement. I’ll take a moment to enjoy this, but make no mistake, there’s still much work to be done—my people need to be free—and that hard work begins now.”

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Missouri’s First Month of Legal Recreational Pot Sales Tops $100 Million

Cannabis retailers in Missouri rang up more than $100 million in sales in February, the first month of legal recreational marijuana sales in the state. According to information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released on Friday, total cannabis sales came to $102.9 million last month. The figure includes nearly $72 million in adult-use cannabis retail purchases, while sales of medical marijuana in Missouri topped $31 million for the month.

Missouri voters legalized the recreational use of cannabis in last year’s midterm elections with the passage of Amendment 3, a ballot measure that was approved with more than 53% of the vote. Sales of recreational marijuana began at existing medical marijuana on February 3, less than three months after voters approved the adult-use cannabis legalization measure.

Andrew Mullins, executive director of the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association (MOCann), said that the opening month of regulated sales of adult-use cannabis in the state eclipsed the launch of recreational pot sales in neighboring Illinois in 2020.

“That’s more than double what Illinois did in a state with twice the population,” Mullins said about Missouri’s $71.7 million in adult-use cannabis sales last month. “So it really shows the interest and excitement for the new adult-use industry in Missouri.”

Mullins noted that if the pace of sales during the first month continues, Missouri cannabis retailers will sell more than a billion dollars worth of weed this year. He attributed a portion of February’s sales to visitors from adjoining states. Out of Missouri’s eight neighboring states, only Illinois has legalized recreational marijuana to date.

“Canna-tourism folks that may decide to come to Missouri to access and utilize cannabis,” Mullins told St. Louis Public Radio. “That seems to also be having an impact on the amount of sales that Missouri’s experiencing.”

Laurie Gregory, the chief marketing officer for Good Day Farm, said that the company’s dispensaries in cities such as Kansas City and Independence located near the borders with other states saw significant traffic from out-of-state customers.

“Opening weekend we had patients who drove from Texas and Illinois,” Gregory said. “There are states around Missouri that don’t have a program. Anecdotally, what we hear is that the border town dispensaries are having significant sales because of that.”

Regulated Weed Prices Lower Than Neighboring Illinois

Prices compared to cannabis retailers in the one neighboring state with regulated recreational marijuana sales were also cited as a factor behind the strong numbers in Missouri.

“At the different stores, we have flower strains priced from $25 to $40,” said Gregory. “In Illinois, it’s anywhere from $30 to $60.”

Jack Cardetti, a spokesman for MOCann, said that better access for consumers is largely behind Missouri’s strong sales numbers, noting that the state has 196 dispensaries to serve a population of 6 million, while Illinois has only 113 retailers but a population of 12 million. He also noted that taxation exacerbates the price difference between the two states.

“Not only are the retail prices lower in Missouri than Illinois, but when you actually factor in the higher taxes in Illinois, the take-home price is significantly lower,” Cardetti says. “We’ve seen time and time again, if you tax marijuana too much, people will continue to access the illicit market, which is exactly what legalization is meant to prevent.”

Former NBA star Al Harrington’s company Viola is backing two cannabis dispensaries that opened in St. Louis over the weekend, making the shops the only Black-owned retailers in the city, according to Daniel Pettigrew, the CEO of Viola STL. He said that the city has given the company a warm welcome and noted that the company’s dispensary on Iowa Street in St. Louis is the only cannabis retailer in the city with a drive-thru.

“We want people to be able to come into a safe, secure place, get their product and then get out, so that’s the main thing. It will really allow us to serve more customers,” Pettigrew told KSDK television news. “This neighborhood is in the community, so it was important to them, as we met with them, that they didn’t want a lot of people standing around and lingering in the area. It just allows us to complete the transaction in a safe secure environment, facilitate it, get everyone what they need and let them get on their way as quickly as possible.”

Bryce Chapman, a consumer who previously purchased marijuana from the unregulated market, said that buying from dispensaries is easier than buying from underground dealers. He added that he appreciates the consistent quality and clear pricing at regulated dispensaries, factors he said make him a repeat customer of the new shops.

“You can just go in, get what you need and leave,” said Chapman. “You don’t have to find the guy with the right kind of stuff or anything like that – you can just go get exactly what you need. I really like how scientific it is. Like, ‘Do you want this much THC or do you want a higher dose? Do you want sativa dominant?’ Before it was just like, I’ll just get what I can get.”

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Week in Review: Snoop Goes Global; Colorado’s Cannabis Consumption Bus; A Big Chicago First

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” said Matthew Broderick as 1980s’ icon Ferris Bueller. The same can be said for the cannabis industry. There’s always something new happening.

PHOTO Sterling Munksgard

Snoop Inks Partnership With Atlas Global Brands

Snoop Dogg’s eye on global domination took another step forward following an announcement that the entrepreneur and hip-hop legend signed an “exclusive international licensing agreement” with Canada-based global cannabis company Atlas Global Brands Inc.

“Consumers love Snoop, and our collective goal is to deliver premium products in all cannabis categories that will consistently exceed consumer expectations,” Bernie Yeung, Atlas Global CEO, said in a statement.

The five-year agreement will allow Atlas Global to selectively “source, package and distribute directly in Canada and through approved distribution partners internationally,” including medical cannabis products in Germany, Israel and Australia.

This significant deal also gives Atlas Global exclusive rights to the artist’s name, likeness and other intellectual property “to produce, package, manufacture, distribute, sell, advertise, promote and market cannabis flowers, pre-rolls, concentrates, oils and edibles, and personal vaporizers” in legal markets.

“I chose Atlas to represent and launch my new brands because of their innovation and global reach. I am excited to work with their team to select my favorite strains for my brands and fans,” Snoop Dogg said. “You know they’ll be amazing because they’ll be personally approved by me.”

Sarah Woodson of The Cannabis Experience
The Cannabis Experience founder, Sarah Woodson. PHOTO Kush & Canvases

Roll Up and Roll Out on the Cannabis Experience

Toking tourists and weed-loving locals alike can now enjoy the sights of Denver on the country’s first licensed cannabis consumption bus. Founded by local entrepreneur Sarah Woodson, the Cannabis Experience is meant to provide safe, legal cannabis tours, airport transportation and private party buses that are cannabis friendly, as well as visits to cannabis farms and dispensaries. Private party bus rentals will also offer food and art themes such as “Toking and Tacos” and “RiNo Mural Tours.”

The Cannabis Experience is Woodson’s latest foray into cannabis tourism in the city. The former consultant for Marijuana Industry Group also founded the highly popular consumption-friendly cannabis art class, Kush & Canvases, and says she is “helping move the needle forward in the legalization fight.”

“The Cannabis industry is extremely regulated and not diverse. It took us almost a year to become operational, so we’re excited to be the country’s first safe, legal, licensed mobile hospitality business,” Woodson says. “We’re social equity and African American. We’ll have amazing tours, and grow our fleet over the next 24 months and work on expanding into other local cities such as Aurora. We’re proud to be in the cannabis industry.”

Although there have been previous cannabis buses operating in Colorado, they weren’t officially permitted and were all shut down by authorities. The Cannabis Experience, on the other hand, possesses both a local license and a state-issued cannabis hospitality permit. Here’s how to book your seat.

Grasshopper Club founders
Dianne Brewer and her two sons, Matthew and Chuck celebrate the opening of the Grasshopper Club.

The Grasshopper Club Opens in Chicago

A family-owned company just made history as Chicago’s first independent, Black-owned dispensary. Located in Logan Square, in the 2500 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, the Grasshopper Club is owned by Dianne Brewer and her two sons, Matthew and Chuck, along with some “minor silent investors.”

“We don’t have a relationship or get support or have an arrangement with one of the large, publicly-owned cannabis companies,” Matthew told ABC 7 Chicago.

“I’m working on the accounting aspects of this business,” Dianne said. “I’m totally excited. I retired 12 years ago and here I am working again.”

For Chuck, the opening is something of a full circle, as he was arrested for cannabis possession a few times in his youth. “For me to be doing this legally with my brother and my mother…it’s priceless,” he said.

When Illinois’ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act went into effect in 2020, “social equity” provisions were included in legislation to help communities harmed by past drug policies access the economic benefits of cannabis legalization. But, according to Dianne, it’s been a struggle for some, and her family has pledged to support other African Americans to open more independent dispensaries. “They call it social equity, but you’ve got to have the money to be able to open, and many African Americans don’t have that money,” she says.

The Brewer family plans to open a second Chicago-based dispensary this summer.

California cannabis
PHOTO Konrad

Cannabis Sales Drop in California

According to the latest statistics released by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (DTFA), annual cannabis sales in the Golden State declined in 2022 for the first time since its adult-use market launched in 2018, reports MJBiz.

The fourth quarter’s taxable sales fell 8.2% to $5.3 billion from the $5.77 reported in the same period last year, marking the third consecutive quarterly decline. Additionally, tax revenue was close to $1.1 billion in 2022, a 21% decrease from around $1.4 billion in 2021. Despite the decline, California continues to account for about 20% of the $26 billion market.

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Michigan Cannabis Market Nets $60M Windfall for Local Governments

Tens of millions of dollars have been doled out to local governments across Michigan as a result of the state’s cannabis industry. 

FOX 2 Detroit reports that the state sent out nearly $60 million to counties and local governments.

“Local governments that have approved the recreational sale of weed in their county, city, village, or township will see approximately $51,800 for every retail store and micro-business that it’s handed out licenses to,” the station says.

According to FOX 2 Detroit, “Only 30% of total adult-use sales go to local governments, with the other 70% going to schools and roads. When contributions from last year are paired next to figures from 2021 and 2020, they show an industry that shows no signs of slowing down.”

Voters in the state legalized adult-use cannabis in 2018, when they approved Proposal 1. 

That initiative made it legal for adults 21 and older to toke up, and cleared the way for a regulated cannabis market that launched in 2019. 

But despite strong sales numbers, Michigan, like other regulated cannabis markets, has become oversupplied with pot.

Politico reported last year that the “number of cannabis grow operations serving the state’s recreational market has almost doubled in the past year,” and that the “number of active marijuana plants now exceeds 1.2 million, roughly six times the volume seen in 2020.”

“Michigan has way too much weed,” Politico said then.

“By one estimate, Michigan has enough cultivation capacity to supply three times as much weed as the state’s consumers are buying — and that doesn’t include the huge illegal market that by all accounts commands a large share of sales.”

That, according to Politico, makes Michigan “emblematic of what’s been happening across the country all year — and why the industry’s been in a funk even as legalization spreads: Ill-fated hopes that a Democratic-controlled Washington might loosen decades-old restrictions on the drug have given way to a market glut and plummeting prices that have put scores of businesses at risk of collapse.”

But that is not to say that Michigan’s recreational cannabis industry hasn’t experienced growth.

As FOX 2 Detroit noted, “224 municipalities had registered 1,148 business licenses” last year. That’s up from 163 municipalities and 748 licenses in 2021, and 104 municipalities and 356 licenses in 2020. 

The station has more details on the state’s latest cannabis sales figures:

“The latest figures come from the Michigan Department of Treasury which reported $198.4 million in revenue from recreational pot last year. Another $69.4 million will go to School Aid Fund, while $69.4 million will go to the transportation fund. In total, $1.8 billion in sales from weed came last year. To put that in context, there were $341 million in total sales in 2020. In 2021, the state reported $1.1 billion in sales.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, supported Proposal 1.

Late last year, Whitmer vetoed several Republican-sponsored bills that, among other things, aimed to ease access to the state’s medical cannabis program, which began in 2008, for both patients and prospective operators.

In her veto message, Whitmer said that the proposals were passed hastily by lawmakers and required closer examination.

“I look forward to working with the new Legislature in January on priorities that will continue our economic momentum, help lower costs, and expand education supports for Michigan students. It is time to be serious about solving problems and getting things done that will make working families’ lives better right now,” Whitmer said at the time.

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Virginia Adult-Use Cannabis Plans Halted Due to Failed Bills

Although Virginia adult-use cannabis sales were projected to begin no later than Jan. 1, 2024, the state’s adult-use cannabis sales plans have been stalled for the foreseeable future. 

Initially, adult-use cannabis was sent by a Democratic-controlled General Assembly to the desk of former Gov. Ralph Northam, who signed the legislation in April 2021. The law included a clause that required the General Assembly to reenact certain provisions, such as regulatory and licensing market structure. However in November 2021, the General Assembly shifted to Republican control, as did the House of Delegates, which ultimately led to the failure of provisional bills.

In January, a House of Delegates subcommittee rejected a Republican-sponsored cannabis bill proposed that would have allowed sales to begin prior to Jan. 1, 2024. Republican Delegate Keith Hodges, who sponsored the failed cannabis bill that would have created adult-use cannabis regulations, called the situation a “public health crisis” just before the bill was rejected on Jan. 25. “You can legally possess marijuana in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but you can’t legally purchase it,” Hodges said. “If we do nothing, we have a problem on our hands. We need to protect the citizens of Virginia from the illicit market.”

According to NORML Development Director and Virginia NORML Executive Director JM Pedini explained that the result of the vote “was entirely expected, but is still disappointing, and it spotlights House Republicans’ continued failure of leadership on cannabis policy,” Pedini said. “Without access to a regulated marketplace, consumers won’t know whether they’re getting a safe, tested product or one contaminated with potentially dangerous adulterants.”

“This vote is another huge disappointment for Virginians, the majority of whom favor swift access to retail sales,” Pedini continued. “Legislation providing regulatory oversight is the best way for the Commonwealth to protect cannabis consumers. By failing to take legislative action, lawmakers are electing to continue driving consumers to the unregulated, underground market.”

MJBizDaily suggests that the failure to pass these cannabis legislative efforts were in part because current Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was pressuring legislators to defeat all cannabis bills.

On Feb. 14, Senate Bill 1133, which was sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin, was recommended to be passed on indefinitely. “It is legal to possess small amounts of cannabis, it is legal to grow your own cannabis,” Ebbin told the subcommittee before the bill was rejected. “Yet we are kind of dragging our feet on establishing a retail market that could provide hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, could provide a tested product for adults and could be kept out of the hands of children.”

During odd-numbered years, the Virginia General Assembly only meets for 30 days, and adjourned on Feb. 25, leaving legislators with no extra time to present an alternative.

Meanwhile in hemp, the Virginia House of Delegates (85 to 9 vote) and Senate of Virginia (23-17 vote) both passed a bill on Feb. 24 to create stricter regulations for Delta-8 hemp products. If passed, it would create new rules on labels, such as percentage and milligram amounts of THC in each Delate-8 product, as well as using any language that markets the products as a medical treatment of any kind. “I think this will go a long way in making sure that our communities are safe and that folks are buying what they purport to buy,” said House of Delegates Majority Leader Terry Kilgore.
The bill proposes that responsibility and management between the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority. Legislators such as Sen. Scott Surovell don’t believe that split control is the best course of action. “This is a first step toward a complete mess,” Surovell said. “And the reason we’re doing this is because somebody upstairs doesn’t want to talk about it.” The bill was recently sent to Gov. Youngkin, and is expected to be signed.

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Arizona Weed Sales Top $1 Billion in 2022

Cannabis sales in Arizona exceeded $1 billion dollars in 2022 as the state’s recreational marijuana market experienced strong growth in its second year of sales. Total weed sales came to $1.4 billion last year, according to data from the Arizona Department of Revenue, an amount roughly equal to the cannabis sales recorded in 2021.

Adult-use cannabis sales for 2022 reached $950 million, soaring to 70% of the state’s total marijuana sales for the year. Sales of medical marijuana were down significantly over the previous year, however, dropping to just over $500 million in 2022. 

Arizona’s recreational marijuana retailers closed 2022 with the strongest month of the year in December, ringing up about $86.6 in adult-use cannabis sales, up slightly from the $85.8 million recorded the month before. Sales of medical marijuana continued the downward trajectory prompted by the legalization of recreational cannabis, dropping slightly from $31.9 million in November to $31.1 million for the last month of 2022.

Arizona legalized recreational marijuana in 2020 with the passage of Proposition 207. Known as the Smart and Safe Act, the ballot measure was approved by 60% of the state’s voters. Licensed sales of recreational marijuana began in the state on January 21, 2021, less than three months after the ballot measure succeeded at the polls.

A separate ballot measure, Proposition 203, legalized the medicinal use of cannabis in Arizona in 2010 with just over 50% of the vote. The first licensed medical marijuana dispensary in the state began serving patients on December 6, 2012. Combined, the state’s medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis retailers have sold a total of $2.9 billion since recreational marijuana sales began two years ago.

More Reforms Still Needed in Arizona

Cannabis advocates in Arizona say that the state has made significant strides in reforming the state’s marijuana policy. But while sales have been strong the first two years of recreational marijuana sales, continued reform at the state and federal levels will be needed for the cannabis industry to become a major contributor to the state’s economy.

“We don’t see SWAT teams busting in the doors of dispensaries,” Aaron Smith, CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said late last year. “But we do have problems with not being able to take tax deductions like a normal industry, or being able to have interstate commerce, which really creates a barrier to entry for a lot of folks.”

Despite the challenges, Smith says that Arizona is becoming a model for successfully transitioning to a regulated cannabis economy.

“Cannabis is used across demographics, boomers and millennials, and Gen Z, people over 21 are using responsibly and we’re glad to see that,” Smith said. “Arizona law is by and large working well.”

The legalization of cannabis has marked the creation of a new stream of tax revenue for the state’s coffers in Arizona. Tax revenue in December alone totaled nearly $23 million, bringing the total marijuana taxes collected by the state in 2022 to almost $270 million.

The state collects a 16% tax on recreational marijuana sales in addition to approximately 6% in sales tax. Medical marijuana patients pay only sales tax on their cannabis purchases. Local jurisdictions add additional taxes of about 2% to marijuana sales.

About a third of cannabis tax revenue collected in Arizona is reserved for community college and provisional community college districts, while 31% is dedicated to police, fire departments, fire districts and other first responders. A quarter of state marijuana taxes go to the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund, while 10% is reserved for the justice reinvestment fund, which supports public health services, counseling, job training and other social services for communities that have been adversely affected and disproportionately impacted by decades of marijuana prohibition.

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Virginia Legislative Panel Kills Retail Cannabis Bill

A Virginia legislative panel this week declined to advance a bill to regulate retail cannabis sales, effectively killing the proposal that would have set the stage for recreational marijuana sales to begin by 2024. The measure, Senate Bill 1133 from Democratic Senator Adam Ebbin, was rejected by a House of Delegates subcommittee on Tuesday with a 5-3 vote along party lines, with the panel’s Republican majority opposed.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Virginia in July 2021 with legislation that allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of weed and grow up to four cannabis plants at home. The legislation required another vote by lawmakers to authorize regulated sales of adult-use cannabis and set a target date of January 1, 2024, to launch legal sales of recreational pot. But so far, the House of Delegates’ Republican majority, which took control in the 2022 general election, has failed to support a bill to set up a legal framework for the regulation of recreational marijuana sales. 

“It is legal to possess small amounts of cannabis, it is legal to grow your own cannabis,” Ebbin said before the subcommittee voted to kill the bill. “Yet we are kind of dragging our feet on establishing a retail market that could provide hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, could provide a tested product for adults and could be kept out of the hands of children.” 

Ebbin’s bill, which is similar to a measure he sponsored last year that also failed to gain approval in committee, would have allowed sales of recreational marijuana to begin by January 1, 2024. Sales would initially launch in existing medical marijuana dispensaries and businesses owned by people living in “historically disadvantaged communities.” 

The legislation also would have allowed the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority to begin issuing licenses for new recreational cannabis businesses on July 1, 2024. The measure was passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate last week by a vote of 24-16 that included support from some Republican senators. 

On Tuesday, a General Laws subcommittee voted to table Senate Bill 1133 without discussion, likely killing the bill for the remainder of the 2023 legislative session. The bill could be revisited at a later date, but the proposal is probably dead until lawmakers reconvene in 2024.

Republican Governor Focused On Delta-8 THC

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who also was elected in 2022, has officially said that he has “no position” on legislation to authorize and regulate retail sales of adult-use cannabis. But a Youngkin administration official, Chief Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Parker Slaybaugh, spoke against Ebbin’s Senate Bill 1133 at Tuesday’s subcommittee meeting. 

Slaybaugh noted that Youngkin is focused on developing a policy to control unregulated hemp products including delta-8 THC. Last month, the governor called on lawmakers to pass a bill that would regulate intoxicating hemp products.

“The bill I am tracking and looking for is a bill that deals with hemp and delta-8 and the regulations and consumer safety around those products,” Youngkin said last month. “And right now, we have products that are being mislabeled and missold and being targeted toward children.” 

Advocates for regulating recreational marijuana sales say that failing to do so is largely responsible for the proliferation of unregulated intoxicating hemp products, which can be easily purchased throughout Virginia at gas stations and convenience stores. However, the House of Delegates has declined to advance two additional bills to regulate recreational marijuana sales in committee this legislative session, including House Bill 1464, sponsored by Republican Delegate Keith Hodges, and House Bill 1750 from Republican Delegate Michael Webert.

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Weed Sales on Super Bowl Sunday Decrease in 2023

An estimated 113 million viewers watched Super Bowl LVII to see if the Philadelphia Eagles or Kansas City Chiefs would win this year (the second-most watched since Super Bowl XLIX in 2015). Among those viewers were countless cannabis consumers, but cannabis sales took a slight dip in comparison to last year.

A cannabis checkout purchase averages at around $84.61, but sales from this past weekend saw a 4% drop in sales.

According to data collected by Chicago-based Fyllo, pre-rolls were the most popular products purchased this weekend at 37% of sales. In a statement to Forbes, Fyllo founder Chad Bronstein explained that the reason pre-rolls sold so well is because they are “the cheapest product in dispensaries.”

“We see this sensitivity to pricing most significant among persons aged 25 to 75, where consumer spending this year around the Super Bowl decreased significantly,” Bronstein added. Among age demographics, Fyllo also found that Gen Z consumers purchased rose considerably on Feb. 12, especially with buyers between 21 to 24 (a 10% increase from that age group).

The second most popular product category was described as “dispensary gear” by Fyllo, which saw a 20% increase this year. This was followed by “plants” at a 200% increase, and beverages at a 39% increase. Both topicals and edibles dropped in sales, with a respective 36% and 25% decrease. Bronstein believes that this is “potentially a response to pricing, driven by higher manufacturing costs, especially for those looking to optimize the cost of their high.”

Fyllo also found that while west coast sales dipped, eastern and southern states’ cannabis sales increased. Sales in Florida increased significantly by 27%, while Maine sales increased by 17%, and Arkansas increased by 7%.

While cannabis sales dropped slightly in previous years, it didn’t hamper the cannabis-related festivities of offered in Arizona where the Super Bowl took place this year. 

Trulieve Cannabis Corp.’s recent move into Arizona led with the launch of Ricky Williams’s Highsman brand. “Our expansion into Arizona is made possible through our retail partnership with Trulieve, and Abundant Organics, whose organic living soil cultivation techniques produce some of the cleanest and most flavorful flower I’ve tried,” Williams announced last month. “Both partners clearly see the Highsman vision and share the same enthusiasm for physical and mental healing as I do. Highsman is for anyone seeking greatness, mental and spiritual well-being.”

Trulieve’s CEO, Kim Rivers, was proud to partner with the former NFL player. “Trulieve is excited to launch this limited-time exclusive partnership with legendary NFL player Ricky Williams in Arizona, just weeks before the Super Bowl will be hosted in the state,” said Rivers. “Ricky was well-known for his belief in the power of cannabis during his playing days, and the Highsman brand reflects his values and passion for cannabis. We are proud to launch Highsman products in the Arizona market.”

HARA Brands partnered with Rolling Stone Live this weekend to celebrate the Super Bowl as well. The brand’s CEO and co-founder, Bryan Gerber, expressed his excitement for what this means for the industry. “We are extremely proud to represent the cannabis community at such a high-profile event during one of the biggest weekends in sports and entertainment,” said Gerber. “It’s a testament to how far this industry has come, and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of this exclusive experience alongside some of the most successful brands and talented individuals.”

WNBA star athlete Brittney Griner attended this year’s Superbowl with her wife Cherelle Griner. Following a 10-month battle for her freedom after being imprisoned in Russia for possessing a small amount of cannabis, Brittney was recently named Arizonan of the Year by Arizona Republic.

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