April 2023 Sees Record Levels of Carbon Monoxide Pollution
The first installment of our occasional column will provide updates on issues previously discussed by Project CBD. We are beginning with some good news from California, followed by a follow-up to our investigation into Curaleaf, the largest cannabis company in the world. Finally, we will explore how freedom of speech is restricted when it comes to cannabis advocacy in the Czech Republic.
California’s Growing Problem of Plastic Pollution
In response to Project CBD’s “Bag the Tags” exposé, California state senator Ben Allen has put forth Senate Bill 622 to end the requirement for licensed cannabis cultivators to attach a plastic tag to each plant grown. This bill is sponsored by CannaCraft, Inc. and supported by organizations such as the National Product Stewardship Council and the California Cannabis Industry Association. It aims to minimize labor and operational costs for cannabis cultivators, while also slashing the amount of plastic waste created that cannot be recycled.
As Project CBD reported, the tags are single use and cannot be reused in subsequent growing seasons, producing 30-55 million tags each year in the state. The tags were imposed with the intention of preventing cannabis from entering the illegal market, yet they are ineffective because the plants cannot be diverted until they are harvested, at which point the tags are removed and discarded.
SB 622 seeks to replace the plastic plant tagging with a digital plant tag, which will offer the same level of transparency into the number of plants grown, while being an environmentally conscious alternative. This digital plant tagging is already used by traditional farmers and has been approved by the California Farm Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Curaleaf’s Complaint: Too Much Focus on Social Justice?
In February 2023, Project CBD uncovered a story about Curaleaf, the rapidly-growing, multistate and multinational cannabis company that had gained a major foothold in the U.S. industry with major investment from Russian billionaires with questionable backgrounds. We reported that, “Small producers have long feared the cannabis industry would be taken over by large-scale operators (MSOs) with the most unscrupulous corporate practices. However, the news of Russian oligarch money involved with the top MSO Curaleaf has confirmed the worst suspicions.”
Several states have launched investigations into Curaleaf’s business practices, including product safety and labor violations, after being highlighted in a recent article. In April, New Jersey regulators declined to renew Curaleaf’s lucrative adult-use cannabis license, citing the layoffs following the closure of one of its cultivation facilities, as well as the company’s clashes with unions and lack of transparency.
In New York, Curaleaf’s CEO Boris Jordan expressed his concerns that social justice efforts had been “taken too far” in some states where cannabis is legal, in particular the rollout of the adult-use market in New York, which has prioritized retail licenses for equity applicants, while delaying participation by well-heeled MSOs that already hold medical cannabis licenses. Jordan threatened to retaliate, saying, “If they don’t play ball and they violate the rules, we’re going to sue.” In March, a group called the Coalition for Access to Regulated & Safe Cannabis, which includes Curaleaf and several other MSOs, filed a lawsuit arguing that there is no provision in NY’s legalization law that stipulates equity applicants should be prioritized in the initial phase of the adult-use retail dispensary license rollout.
At MJBizCon in Las Vegas, Jordan predicted that the marijuana industry would undergo massive consolidation, with a few companies controlling the global supply chain. He believes that Curaleaf could be one of those companies, saying that big tobacco companies all use the same packaging, paper, machines, and basically everything else, but with different brands. He hopes that this type of cartel will bring down operating costs and enable them to earn a healthy margin. However, this type of cartel does not promote a diverse, inclusive industry or a wide array of product choices.
Prague’s Growing Concern Over Cannabis Usage
In November 2021, Robert Veverka, editor-in-chief and publisher of the Czech cannabis magazine Legalizace, was convicted by a district court for promoting “toxicomania,” i.e., positive depictions of cannabis. He was fined and given a two-and-a-half year suspended sentence. Despite this, Veverka vowed to fight the decision, proclaiming that “every adult should have a right to grow in their own garden” and calling for an end to the war on drugs. Sadly, last month the Czech Court of Appeal ruled against him, ordering him to pay a fine of 250,000 Czech crowns (over $10,000) and banning him from publishing his magazine. It was deemed that it is only legal to write about cannabis if one criticizes it; Veverka called this a “relic of totalitarianism.” This ruling comes despite the Czech Republic being seen as the post-Communist country that has best managed the transition to an open society and having a thriving alternative culture with a vibrant cannabis and psychedelic scene.
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