Some significant shifts have occurred in the wide world of weed over the past week. Here are the latest nuggets of action from around the globe.
The East Coast Gets Its First Legal Recreational Dispensary
Let’s start with some good news. After legalizing recreational weed nearly two years ago, Northampton, Mass., will finally get its first recreational store when a previously medical-only dispensary begins selling cannabis products to anyone over 21. They are the first outlet to legally provide cannabis to recreational users east of the Rockies. The little college town, which passed legalization by more than 75 percent of the vote, may see another recreational spot open in the next few days. The state was slated to allow recreational sales on Jan. 1 as California did, but a tedious fight with the state legislature managed to delay the deadline over six months, causing consternation among voters and business owners. The state also gave the green light to two labs to begin testing weed for stores.
Jeff Sessions Is Out
In a turn of events that was frankly inevitable, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was finally asked to sit all the way down by President Trump, with 45 announcing the decision in a tweet. Sessions turned in his resignation letter a day after Republicans lost the House of Representatives. The work Sessions produced has been relatively minimal, but he has made it easier for opioid manufacturers to distribute their products without trawcking, so there’s that. Either way, most cannabis-advocacy groups are cheering the departure.
He’s potentially being replaced by Matt Whitaker, relatively new kid on the block. He’s never really been involved with legalization arguments or drug policies in general. However, it’s unlikely he’s being brought in to roll joints. Whitaker has publicly stated several times that he believes the investigation into Trump has gone too far. But some folks are criticizing the appointment. Only time will tell if he gets the job.
Canada Runs Out of Weed
Canada—one of the world’s largest producers of weed—cannot keep its legal stores stocked. Recreational dispensaries opened for business on Oct. 17, and save for a few hours of activity, many have not been open since.
A perfect storm of circumstances has helped create the situation. Producers are producing, but licensing for their products has been slow (sounds familiar). Some have been waiting over a year for a sales license. Other folks are pointing to the fact that many producers who received licensing in the first wave are actually quite small, creating a shortage from the outset. The country’s postal system is also experiencing a strike, meaning the 150,000 orders placed with online government-run stores are not being delivered anytime soon.
Health Canada has hired 300 extra workers to assess requests for producers. Thierry Bélair, a spokesman for Canada’s health minister, told The Seattle Times that the government has streamlined the licensing method and production is progressing. “The implementation of the new legal regime that will better protect Canadians is not an event, it’s a process,” he said.
In the meantime, Canadians are heading back to the black market, and many never left. “If [the government] were serious about access, serious about smothering the black market,” said Devyn Stackhouse, who waited weeks for a delivery that never came, “then more resources would have been allocated.”