Week in Review: Israel’s impressive cannabis import totals, sizzling marijuana sales, social equity guidelines & more

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Israel cannabis imports, Week in Review: Israel’s impressive cannabis import totals, sizzling marijuana sales, social equity guidelines & more

The world’s largest importer of cannabis flower is …

Israel surpassed Germany in 2020 as the top global importer of cannabis flower. As of mid-2020, German flower imports totaled a little more than 3 metric tons, while Israel imported almost double that amount.

MJBizDaily takeaway: While the growth of imports in both countries is encouraging for export-oriented countries and companies, experts warn that it’s hard to find a third country currently importing meaningful quantities of high-THC medical marijuana flower.

That means the import-export scene for cannabis will continue to see a lot of flux in coming months and years.

States continue posting record-breaking MJ sales

Colorado, Illinois and Oregon had record-breaking sales streaks in May and June.

MJBizDaily takeaway: While it’s hard to quantify what exactly has been driving the sales increases, operators would be wise not to get overly confident, given the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the current U.S. recession and still-high unemployment numbers nationwide.

If the U.S. Congress doesn’t act soon, millions of unemployed workers will lose federal benefits this month, and that could translate to a direct hit on marijuana sales.

So, while marijuana sales numbers have been positive, the smart money is hedging on a difficult near-term future.

Massachusetts marijuana workers unionize

Organized labor took another step forward in the cannabis industry when employees at Mayflower Medicinals in Massachusetts voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1445.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Labor has been increasing its foothold in the marijuana sector for years, mostly through the UFCW but also through the Teamsters.

Labor peace agreements are required by law in several states for cannabis companies, for instance, which means unions aren’t going anywhere.

So marijuana executives should make the most of the situation by teaming up with unions to advance cannabis political causes, such as gaining more industry-expansion wins in state legislatures or at the ballot box.

National trade group compiling social equity recommendations

The Washington, DC-based National Association of Cannabis Businesses is working on a set of standards for marijuana social equity programs that the group plans to recommend as a model to regulators across the United States as more MJ markets come online.

MJBizDaily takeaway: It will take years for both regulators and the industry to right the wrongs done by the war on drugs, but any step in that direction is a positive one.

To that end, stakeholders should welcome all voices to the table in determining how minorities can become more involved directly in the cannabis industry, particularly considering marijuana social equity programs are being crafted and implemented across the nation.

Rhode Island opens dispensary application process

Tiny Rhode Island – which currently has only three medical marijuana dispensaries for its 18,000 registered patients – began taking business applications for six more storefront licenses.

MJBizDaily takeaway: While the three existing dispensaries probably aren’t pleased by the expansion, they’re likely the only unhappy ones.

There are 56 licensed cultivators in the state, meaning there’s plenty of product available, and the program’s expansion will also give medical marijuana patients far more places to shop and, probably, greater product selection.

The new permits are yet another sign the marijuana industry will continue to expand everywhere it gets an opportunity.

Hawaii to allow edibles

Lawmakers in the island state of Hawaii approved a bill to allow its medical marijuana businesses to begin making and selling edibles.

MJBizDaily takeaway: It’s astonishing it’s taken Hawaii this long to introduce edibles.

But the move – which won’t happen until January 2021 – was apparently driven at least in part by the coronavirus pandemic, since many MMJ patients in Hawaii have been clamoring for ways to take their medicine other than by smoking or vaping.

Given the broad popularity of marijuana edibles with consumers in U.S. markets where they’re legal, the move will certainly result in a sales uptick. The only question is how big of an uptick.

California authorities raid marijuana ‘farmers market’

State authorities in California and the Fresno Police raided what’s known as a “smoke session,” where underground dealers and consumers gather to buy, sell and trade cannabis products, and at least seven “vendors” were found at the site.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The raid marks a significant shift for California in terms of the types of businesses – or, in this instance, gatherings – law enforcement officials will target, especially since such underground get-togethers have been common in the state for years.

Whether the focus on these types of get-togethers will continue is yet to be seen since this enforcement action and others are spawned by complaints filed directly with the state Bureau of Cannabis Control.

That means if more residents notify regulators about the so-called “smoke sessions,” law enforcement is more likely to crack down on such get-togethers. However, if organizers get better at hiding behind closed doors, the sessions might continue unabated.

John Schroyer can be reached at johns@mjbizdaily.com

International analyst Alfredo Pascual contributed to this report.