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Inside Cannabis (Aug 15th, 2019)

1. The heads of five federal financial regulatory agencies have replied to a letter from Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) that requested clarification on banking services hemp businesses. The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Farm Credit Administration, and National Credit Union Administration all acknowledged that, because hemp was legalized through the 2018 Farm Bill, the rules governing how financial institutions interact with these businesses have changed. However, each agency offered a different account about what they were actively doing or planning to do to clear up the confusion within the financial sector. – MARIJUANA MOMENT

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2. New Mexican lawmakers held a public hearing to discuss the legalization of recreational cannabis yesterday. The hearing was led by Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s legalization working group and was the first in a series of four planned meetings in which the group will discuss possible regulatory guidelines for a legal industry, including state-run stores, public health and public safety. A recreational cannabis bill died in the Senate earlier this year, but lawmakers are gearing up to introduce another during the 2020 legislative session. – CANNABIS WIRE

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3. Throwback Thursday: An early legalization supporter gets to say "I told you so." Soon after being first elected to serve in the Massachusetts House in 1972, former Congressman Barney Frank made a progressive move: he filed a bill that would have done away with any state restrictions on adults purchasing or using cannabis. Now working with the cannabis advocacy group Beantown Greentown, Frank testified before the Cannabis Control Commission at a public hearing on proposed industry regulations yesterday to prove just how right he was.

"You can see I am getting old, but there is one thing that I have found improves with age and that is the pleasure of being able to say, 'I told you so,'" he said. "And it does not require pills before, during or after you do it."

Frank's bill, "An Act to Decontrol Marijuana," would have accomplished what is being done at the federal level now, which Frank said marks an important moment for the country. "We talk a lot about the divisions, the anger, generational problems. I think an appropriate set of regulations that make it possible for adults responsibly to use marijuana for any purpose they choose, that that will go an important way towards healing one of the major divisions we have," he said. 

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4. California is on track to post a record $3.1 billion in licensed cannabis sales this year, solidifying its status as the largest legal marijuana market in the world. Legal sales are up significantly from an approximate $2.5 billion in 2018, the first year of licensed cannabis sales in California, according to data from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. After a rocky start in 2018, retailers have survived the state's tough licensing, testing and packaging regulations, as well as a thriving black market, which still eclipses California's legal industry. An estimated $8.7 billion is expected to be spent on illegal cannabis in 2019. – LA TIMES

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5. The fine print in Illinois' recreational cannabis bill could stop up the effort of getting retail sales up and running by Jan. 1. To be ready to sell cannabis by 2020, legislators decided to allow the existing 55 medical cannabis retail outlets to also sell recreational products rather than getting a slew of new applicants ready to go. However, the fine print stipulates that these licenses go to "any medical cannabis dispensing location in operation on the effective date of this act.” With several retailers looking to move to bigger locations, this could hamper their ability to get their recreational license. – CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS

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6. Outside Lands sold seven figures worth of cannabis over the weekend. This year's Outside Lands marked the first time the festival's attendees could purchase and consume cannabis products on-site at a sanctioned area dubbed Grass Lands—and they bought a lot of weed. Exact data on how that money was spent is not yet available, but it was clearly a success. – SF GATE

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7. A new study found that compared to people who only drank alcohol, using alcohol and cannabis simultaneously could boost the risky effects of drinking. "The results suggest that individuals who simultaneously use alcohol and marijuana are at a disproportionately higher risk for heavy, frequent, and problematic substance use," said one of the researchers. The researchers said the findings also suggest that prevention and intervention programs should take into account not just alcohol, but additional substances as well. – SCIENCE DAILY

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8. As Washington D.C. prepares to open a legal retail market for cannabis, some in the industry are asking, what about racial justice? When D.C. decriminalized possession of cannabis in 2014, it was "the first [campaign] in the country that centrally focused on legalization as a racial justice issue,” says Michael Collins, director of national affairs at Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s not lived up to that promise.” Now, two bills aiming to create a retail market are largely ignoring the issue. – WASHINGTON CITY PAPER

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9. Mario Guzman's cannabis and lifestyle brand Sherbinskis is partnering with the non-profit organization No Vet Alone. Under the partnership, the company and the organization will work together to raise awareness about the benefits of cannabis for helping vets recover from opioid addiction. The partnership will also draw attention to the growing suicide rate among military veterans and first responders. – BILLBOARD

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10. As cannabis tourism and entertainment continue to grow, cannabis-focused restaurants are coming to California, complete with "budtenders" and "flower service." The soon-to-open Lowell Farms cannabis cafe will be the first of its kind in America. A budtender will pair guests' farm-to-table meals with the perfect strain of farm-to-table cannabis. The West Hollywood location will be the first in a chain of such high-end cannabis restaurants to open in the state. – WAPO

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Tessa Love is a Berlin-based freelance writer hailing from California's weed country. In addition to writing and curating Inside Cannabis, Tessa has written about cannabis, culture, and tech for the BBC, The Outline, Racked, Slate, The Establishment and more. Find her on twitter at @tessamlove.

Editor: Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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