Friday May 1, 2020

By Andrew Ward

Cannabis News Recap: April 2020 News

April 2020 was originally slated to be a momentous occasion. The event that was once to be 4/20 for an entire month instead became a global quarantine, upending gatherings across the globe. While disappointing, much of the community pivoted by going digital. Once again, the industry transcended a devastating setback. In doing so, the community created a 4/20 that, while far from the plan, will still be remembered by millions.

Cannabis had a busy April beyond from 4/20. Far from celebratory, much of the news for the month began on a somber note. However, by the end of April, glimmers of positivity began to shine through the uncertain malaise of day. Here’s just some of what happened during April 2020.

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Massachusetts Shutters Adult Use Stores During Coronavirus

Much, but not all, of the nation saw its cannabis dispensaries deemed essential. However, in Massachusetts, those without a medical card found themselves staring down the barrel of a shutdown as adult use locations were ordered to close. For those self-medicating without a license, the closures meant they either needed to stockpile their medicine now or risk being without it during the weeks-long quarantine.

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Recreational cannabis dispensaries were closed in Massachusetts as a result of COVID-19. photo credit

Despite state and media pressure, Governor Charlie Baker remains committed to keeping adult use stores closed. In mid-April, a Suffolk Superior Court judge agreed with Baker’s decision. Not long after, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission data revealed that the closures cost retailers roughly $2 million per day.

Cannabis Community Loses Two Iconic Figures

The global marijuana community dealt with dual blows this month with the loss of substantial figures on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States, 13-year-old Charlotte Figi, whose story is often credited with kick starting the global cannabis reform movement, passed away April 7th. While not confirmed, Figi’s death is believed to be caused by complications due to COVID-19. Figi, who suffered from the severe form of epilepsy Dravet Syndrome, used CBD oil to reduce the rate of grand mal seizures she’d experienced since she was three months old.

In response to her passing, the company that bears her namesake, Charlotte's Web CBD, announced it is donating $1 million in products to people who are financially struggling at this time.

A few days before Figi’s death saw the passing of U.K. rap artist and cannabis activist Black the Ripper. He was just 33-years-old. The artist/activist had his hands in a variety of endeavors, including owning a record label, clothing brand and a marijuana accessories company. Black the Ripper would often use his social media channels to stir the pot on laws while raising awareness for injustice and reform. He'd also have a bit of fun with the authorities along the way. Black the Ripper’s cause of death remains unknown at this time. Montserrat, the British territory where he passed, has ordered a full investigation into the matter.

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Michigan Ends Caregiver-Grown Cannabis Program Six Months Early

In mid-April, Michigan ended its caregiver-grown cannabis rules six months earlier than initially stated. Originally, caregivers had permission to sell their small harvests to medical and adult use retailers until October 1, 2020.

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The state will turn to licensed producers to grow all their cananabis now. photo credit

Instead, the allowance aimed at supplementing the maturing market's supply halted on April 8. The decision may be seen as a win for the state's cannabis supply. That said, supply concerns for the recreational market appear to remain for some of Michigan's licensed producers.

Cannabis Case Against the DEA Heading to the Supreme Court

Following the dismissal of its case by a federal appeals judge, a group of plaintiffs suing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) over the classification of cannabis now plan to take their case to the Supreme Court. Originally filed in 2017, the case features a group of plaintiffs. The group includes retired NFL player turned advocate Marvin Washington and child medical patient-advocate Alexis Bortell. The case argues that the Schedule 1 status of the plant results in burdens on individuals seeking treatment for their medical needs.

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Good News! The CIA Doesn’t Entirely Write Off Drug Users Anymore

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recently confirmed that people who previously used drugs can still serve the agency. The revelation came during a recent edition of the CIA's Ask Molly web series. The writer behind the Molly persona responded to a fan question, letting them know that prior drug use “does not immediately disqualify you from working at CIA."

When applying, the CIA recommends people be forthcoming and honest. That said, anyone with a bit of skepticism over narc-ing yourself out to the feds during an ongoing drug war is warranted.

That’s the news for April. While 4/20 month didn’t pan out as hoped, no one can say it was a quiet period for the industry or reform efforts. And while two icons were lost, their names and effort don't have to be. Continue to fight for prison and plant reform whenever possible. Be it online, or one day again soon, in person, show up to continue to the efforts created by Charlotte Figi, Black the Ripper and others lost along the way.


Be sure to stay up to date until next time. Follow PotGuide, as well as the other amazing publications and writers listed in this article to do so.

Photo Credit: Markus Winkler (license)


Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.



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