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AOC’s Slam on Biden, NM’s Recreational Launch, & CA Cannabis Businesses’ Cry for Help

Cesar Gallegos

by Cesar Gallegos

December 23, 2021 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes

AOC and others have called on President Biden to make good on his promise of cannabis reform, New Mexico has gotten its recreational market up and running with a batch of new licenses, and California cannabis businesses wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for help as they struggle to compete with the illicit market.

Let’s dive into this week’s cannanews.

AOC and Others @ Biden Over Cannabis Inaction

President Joe Biden’s campaign trail filled cannabis activists with hope for what the future could hold. One year later, Biden has yet to make any meaningful strides toward cannabis reform.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) echoed the discontent of the masses in her latest series of tweets. In them, AOC urges the president to “lean on his executive authority now. He has been delaying and underutilizing it so far. There is an enormous amount he can do on climate, student debt, immigration, cannabis, health care, and more.”

This isn’t the first time AOC has urged the president to take executive action on cannabis. In February, the Congresswoman, along and 36 of her colleagues, wrote a letter to the president. In it, they urged Biden to grant pardons for those who have been incarcerated for cannabis-related charges.

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Don Young (R) is similarly calling for Biden to take action on cannabis. In a recent tweet to the president, Young said, “You [Biden] have the ability to reschedule marijuana and you pledged to act! The status quo only hurts patients and condemns too many to incarceration.”

The pressure is on for Biden to take action regarding cannabis reform. Let’s see if this is enough to motivate the president to fulfill his campaign promises.  

New Mexico Hands Out Its First Cannabis Licenses

New Mexico has officially issued its first batch of new licenses under the recently passed Cannabis Regulation Act. With that, the state’s adult-use cannabis industry is officially up and running.

One of the licensees, Mathew Muñoz, was especially overjoyed to receive a license. Muñoz, in his youth, had been arrested for possession of marijuana. The arrest caused him to lose out on various scholarship opportunities. The fact that Muñoz can now provide cannabis to his community is a big step forward for cannabis reform.

The state is planning to license more cannabis businesses in the coming weeks. With more than 120 producer license applications already submitted, the state looks forward to the opportunity to give folks like Muñoz an opportunity to join the retail cannabis industry.

California Cannabis Businesses Ask Governor to Assist Industry

California’s retail cannabis industry has not had it easy through its first four years. In its infancy, high licensing costs and taxes hampered the industry’s growth. Since then, the economic impact of the pandemic has only further compounded the issue. Now, after a string of thefts which were all but ignored by law enforcement, California cannabis businesses are finally saying “no more.”

On Dec. 17, 30 different cannabis companies wrote to California Gov. Gavin Newsom warning that the industry could collapse due to a “regressive war on drugs.” The high cost of doing business in the state has left retail shops unable to compete with the far cheaper illicit market. As a result, the illicit market has grown to 2-3 times the size of the legal market. “We need you to understand that we have been pushed to a breaking point,” the businesses said.

The businesses are calling for an end to the cultivation tax, a three-year holiday from excise taxes, and an expansion of retail shops throughout the state. Newsom, to his credit, seems to be receptive to the call for action. Per his spokeswoman Erin Mellon, the governor stated his support for cannabis tax reform and an expanded effort to fight back against the illicit market.

California cannabis shops hope to receive a concrete plan of action from the governor in the near future. The letter ends with the companies asking Newsom to outline his proposed solutions in his budget proposal set to come out in early 2022.

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