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High Cannabis Taxes are the Black Markets’ Best Friend



high taxes on cali weed

Politico recently ran a headline sayingThe black market strangled California’s legal weed industry. Now it’s coming for New York.” How true is that statement?  Was in the black market or high taxes that help slow down legal weed sales in California? The anwers, both, since they are one in the same.  High taxes on cannabis in California, which some areas hitting 45% of the order value, has pushed people to look for cheaper alternatives to get their cannabis fix.  High taxes are the black market’s best friend.

As reporters JULIAN SHEN-BERRO and SHANNON YOUNG found out on their investigation…

A display case containing legal hemp and CBD is piled high inside a Brooklyn smoke shop amid rows of pipes and other paraphernalia — but a store employee does have some tips.


A reporter was silently observing the exhibit when he confided, “That’s not the item you want.”


Unprompted, the employee leans behind the counter and pulls out a plastic bag filled with what he claims are natural cannabis gummies imported from California, but not before carelessly remarking why the reporter looks like a cop.


He continues, “I can also sell you mushrooms.”


In New York City, the scene has become a commonplace spectacle. Despite more than a year since the state legalized marijuana for adult use, not a single dispensary permit has been issued. A weed free-for-all has resulted as a result: In head stores, bodegas, and even from picnic tables on street corners, marijuana seemed to be for sale everywhere. Many vendors brag that their items were grown in California, and other dealers boldly sell in public.


This outcome is comparable to what occurred after California legalized marijuana. There are still flourishing illegal growers and vendors six years later. Despite these difficulties, New York’s authorities gently dealt with anybody peddling cannabis without a license. An industry that is anticipated to create more than 20,000 new employment and a $4.2 billion industry by 2027 may now struggle to gain traction in the face of the thriving illegal market.


Some reputable businesses that were planning significant investments are already fleeing. “Everyone seems to be selling cannabis, and until there’s enforcement, there’s really no concern of a penalty,” said Owen Martinetti, executive director of the Cannabis Association of New York. Owen is personally advocating for more civil enforcement. Suppose there is already competitiveness, and it is not enforced. In that case, it begs the question of whether [the regulated stores] are actually set up for success?



Caught off guard

Lawmakers recognized an opportunity to right historical wrongs when New York became the 15th state to enact cannabis legalization last year. They wiped specific cannabis-related criminal histories and gave justice-involved people with prior cannabis offenses first dibs on marijuana business licenses. In light of this, lawmakers resisted slapping the book on individuals presently caught peddling cannabis without a permit, issuing murky enforcement directives to the state’s Office of Cannabis Management.


State Senator Liz Krueger, a sponsor of the legislation to legalize recreational cannabis, stated that since they didn’t believe this was going to happen, they didn’t put anything in the bill that allowed OCM and the police departments extremely clear-cut regulations of the road to close them down. Krueger argues that police already have the authority to seize illicit goods and close down violating businesses. However, fellow Democrat New York Mayor Eric Adams did not seem to agree.


A police officer cannot simply proceed with an arrest or confiscation. There is a process, he explained last month. Adams, a veteran police captain, asked New Yorkers to report illegal stores to police and stated that he plans to petition the state Legislature in January for further clarification on what the NYPD and the New York City Sheriff’s Office can do.


According to City Hall spokesman Kayla Mamelak, Adams has stated unequivocally that unlawful companies will not be allowed. Local and state organizations are working closely together to ensure equity and compliance in the growing cannabis market,” she announced in a statement. The Sheriff’s Office of the New York City Department of Finance has undertaken hundreds of business inspections this year to guarantee compliance with all applicable regulations. 


Thousands of illicit products have been recovered during such inspections, and civil and criminal penalties have been levied when warranted. We will continue to work constructively with all our partners to guarantee adherence to all legislation concerning New Yorkers’ public safety.


A bill that would have tightened penalties for illegal marijuana sales and defined the OCM’s role in enforcement hit a roadblock in Albany earlier this year. The measure’s creation of additional criminal punishments alarmed some lawmakers.


Numerous shops that sell cannabis products without government regulation also have licenses to sell alcohol, cigarettes, and lottery tickets. Governments might suspend the permits of violating retailers, but “we have not sought to do that at all,” claimed Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.


Adams seized 19 vehicles that were selling marijuana illegally in August. The accused violation: distributing edibles and other cannabis-infused products without the necessary licenses from the city Health Department. Smaller towns in different regions of the state have closed outlets. The cannabis management office handed cease-and-desist orders to 52 retailers nationwide early this year.


Designed to fail

However, given that the first licensed stores are slated to open in the upcoming months, the recent enforcement effort could not be sufficient to mitigate the effects of the illegal market.


A medicinal and adult-use cannabis business leader with operations in New York stated, “I think we’re already reaching the tipping point. This executive asked to remain anonymous because regulatory discussions are still underway. According to lawmakers, the initial round of dispensaries will have been designed to fail. The government will either need to spend more money supporting them or will see businesses returning their licenses if they don’t resolve the problem before next year.


OCM spokesperson Aaron Ghitelman said that since its establishment, the organization has maintained an open line of dialogue with police departments and other government agencies across the state and is dedicated to looking into and closing down unlicensed businesses.


OCM and law enforcement officials have successfully curtailed unlawful activity across the state, from Cheektowaga town to New York City,” he claimed. This operation has included product seizures, sending cease-and-desist papers, and confiscating trucks used to transport marijuana illegally. They will keep enforcing the existing rules to end these illegal shops’ operations since they undercut the goals of our office and the fair market we are creating.


Further aggravating circumstances, New Yorkers are accustomed to purchasing marijuana illegally; as a result, the state must convince them to switch to regulated marijuana for the legal marijuana market to succeed.

Prices in illegal stores can be much lower. Their goods are frequently imported from countries with lower production costs, and they don’t pay taxes or license fees.


If existing rates prove too onerous for legal operators, Krueger affirmed that speaking as just one sponsor of the original measure, she is open to reassessing how they tax, what formulas they use, and how they calculate it.”


According to the chief knowledge officer of cannabis intelligence firm New Frontier Data, Amanda Reiman, the cannabis pipeline between California and New York is extremely ancient and very well established. California’s legal sector was threatened by the illicit market there. Six years after the state’s recreational marijuana legalization vote, illegal sales have considerably exceeded the authorized market, and many business owners have shut their doors.


In the most populous state in the country, the legal cannabis market has struggled due to high taxation, local government opposition, and competition from the black market. We haven’t had much success in California encouraging people to embrace the controlled market, said Reiman.


In California, we haven’t had much success encouraging individuals to adopt the regulated market, according to Reiman. New York can go through a honeymoon phase as customers are drawn in by the novelty of legal dispensaries. However, industry participants fear that sustained success may falter.






The quicker legal dispensaries are developed, the simpler it will be to tackle illegal operations. In August, Ascend Wellness withdrew a $73 million offer to buy the medical licenses of a New York company, citing, among other things, worries about the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana and insufficient enforcement of the black market.


The state ought to be supporting [long-standing unlawful] operations to enter the mainstream, but instead, it’s undermining trust from investors and other stakeholders,





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CBD is Coming to Your Dentist’s Office




cbd for dentists

The Therapeutic Benefits of CBD for Dentistry and Oral Health


Cannabidiol (CBD) is among the most important compounds in marijuana.


CBD products are typically derived from hemp plants, which contain only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana which causes a high. CBD has numerous valuable applications in medicine, with the potential of its use in various medical fields growing each year thanks to an increasing body of research.


CBD works with the endocannabinoid system, which features receptors all over the body. It’s widely used for treating anxiety, pain, epilepsy, and many other illnesses with little to no side effects.


Many dentists these days, aside from doctors, are seeing the potential of using CBD in their field. In fact, there are even specific CBD products developed for oral health, such as toothpastes, mouthwash, mouth sprays, and creams.


Dental Applications of CBD


There are several ways CBD can be used in dentistry. These include:


  • Post-operative inflammation: Studies show that CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, dentists may be able to prescribe CBD to reduce the inflammation experienced by patients following oral surgery, root canals, and other procedures.


  • Dental pain: CBD has potent pain-relieving properties, making it a safer, natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs when it comes to dental pain. Patients may be able to take CBD products to minimize pain before or after certain procedures. Conventional painkillers such as opiates are addictive and cause side effects to patients, while CBD is free of these unwanted side effects.


  • Better sleep: Oral discomfort due to problems and procedures in your teeth and gums can make it difficult to fall asleep. However, proper rest is essential for healing any conditions no matter where in the body. CBD has been known as an effective sleep aid, making it easier for patients to get much-needed sleep following a procedure that may still leave them in discomfort for days after.


CBD For Oral Health


The vast array of CBD’s therapeutic benefits can help individuals improve overall oral health, reducing the need to visit the dentist for treatments.


In a 2020 study by Belgian researchers, they found that cannabinoids were more effective in eliminating the quantity of bacteria that causes dental plaque, when compared to conventional and established oral products like Colgate and Oral B. They followed it up with another study, which revealed that cannabinoid-infused mouthwashes with both CBD and CBG were just as effective when compared to 0.2% chlorhexidine mouthwashes for the reduction of dental plaque.


These findings are significant because chlorhexidine mouthwashes have long been considered as the most effective when it comes to reducing plaque.


However, looking deeper, chlorhexidine does have some side effects. These include possible staining of tooth restorations and surfaces, allergic reactions, light-headedness, mouth sores, gingivitis, tartar, throat and mouth irritation, tongue swelling, change in taste, unpleasant taste, mouth ulcers, and much more.


Other benefits of CBD for oral health include:


  • Treatment of TMJ: TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder is characterized by tenderness or pain along the jaw, in one or both temporomandibular joints. This joint connects the skull to the jaw, which is why it can result in serious discomfort in this part of the head. It can also cause severe pain in and around the ear, difficulty chewing, facial pain, and lock jaw. Conventional treatments for TMJ include pain relievers, antidepressants, and muscle relaxants.


Without effective treatment, some patients may even experience total jaw displacement and chronic pain. However, studies have shown that CBD can be effective in treating the symptoms of TMJ in patients.


  • Prevent tooth decay: Too much bacteria in the mouth produces plaque acids, especially after eating sugar or starches. These bacteria, called Streptococcus mutans, causes enamel erosion and thus, gives you cavities. When cavities grow bigger, it makes it easier for other harmful bacteria to reach deeper in the mouth and cause infections.


As proven by the study by researchers in Belgium, CBD is just as effective as conventional dental care products in protecting your teeth. It can keep your mouth free of the harmful bacteria while ensuring the healthy bacteria still thrive, protecting both your teeth and your gums for healthy oral health.


  • Prevent gum disease: Poor oral hygiene is the number one cause of gum disease. However, genetics can also play a role. Regardless of the cause, gum disease can cause irritation and inflammation in the gums and eventually lead to gingivitis. When gingivitis isn’t addressed, it can evolve to a more serious condition called periodontitis, which compromises the tooth as well as the bone that holds it in place.


Consuming CBD-infused oral health products can prevent inflammation and reduce the damage caused by gum disease.




Just like with other medications, CBD should be used with caution (or avoided altogether) if you are taking prescription drugs. The same is true for anesthesia, since CBD users may need more anesthesia for it to work, especially if it contains epinephrine. Patients who consume CBD (and THC) regularly should always inform their doctor ahead of time. You may be asked to abstain from consumption 2 days before surgery.




More research would certainly be beneficial for backing up the efficacy and safe use of CBD in dentistry. It already clearly has so much potential helping both dentists and patients especially for alleviating anxiety, inflammation, and pain. We expect to see more dental-specific products developed over the next few years to help countless people improve oral health safely with the help of CBD.


Last but not least, CBD should not be seen as a dental cure-all: it’s still important to maintain proper oral hygiene, brush your teeth, and floss regularly.





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Will the Senate Ever Do Anything with the SAFE Banking Act?




As we’ve written about over the past several years, there have been consistent rallying cries for common-sense banking reform for the cannabis industry.

The SAFE Banking Act, which would allow federally regulated financial institutions to work with state-legal cannabis businesses, has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives a whopping seven times. However, the Senate has yet to take up the SAFE Banking Act, ever – despite the fact that it’s sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley and has 42 co-sponsors.

The ICBA letter

The Independent Community Bankers Association (“ICBA”) is now urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to do something with the bill by the end of the year, in this lame duck session of Congress. The letter penned by the ICBA and 44 state banking associations states:

This legislation enjoys strong, bipartisan support, would resolve a conflict between state and federal law, and addresses a critical public safety concern. We urge its enactment without further delay … The Act would create a safe harbor from federal sanctions for financial institutions that serve cannabis-related businesses (CRBs), as well as the numerous ancillary businesses that serve them, in states and other jurisdictions where cannabis is legal. Recent polling found that two-thirds of voters support cannabis banking access.

The ICBA survey: this is what the people want!

The letter cites to that ICBA survey conducted in September 2022 – wherein 71% of voters agree that allowing cannabis-related businesses to access the banking system “would help reduce the risk of robbery and assault at cannabis-related businesses — showing the importance of the policy to public safety.”

The ICBA’s polling also found:

  • More than 80% of voters say that operating exclusively in cash increases the risk of robbery or theft.
  • 62% agree that restricting cannabis-related businesses from accessing banks is a threat to public safety.
  • 63% agree that allowing cannabis-related businesses to access banks will improve public safety.
  • 58% say a Senate vote on establishing a safe harbor for cannabis banking is important.

But will the Safe Banking Act move?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time players in both the banking and cannabis industries have been ignored by the Senate: similar letters have been sent and publicized throughout the years. While we’re doubtful that this will move the needle, we will continue to hope that this critical legislative reform will happen very soon for everyone’s benefit.

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What is a Jamaican Steam Chalice and Why Should You Try Smoking Weed Out of One?




Although smoking marijuana is widespread throughout the world, Jamaica has one of the most profoundly rooted cannabis cultures. The Rastafari, a 20th-century movement that reveres marijuana as a sacred plant, originated in Jamaica. They believe that smoking marijuana fosters calm, love, and depths of reflection and medication that can serve as a gateway to the divine.


Suppose you’re looking for more conventional ways to enjoy cannabis, or you’re tired of your regular routine. In that case, you should try burning with a Jamaican steam chalice. These organic devices are said to be the first and original vaporizers. The steam chalice, which originated with the Rastafari faith in Jamaica, vaporizes weed using bamboo sticks, coconuts, and hot coals instead of electricity.


The steam chalice may be used by contemporary non-Rastafaris for various reasons. There are several methods to consume weed, but burning plant material harms the lungs. Hence, many cannabis consumers are switching to alternative forms of use, such as edibles, drinks, and—increasingly—vaporizers. Why not choose the Jamaican steam chalice, which has the most heritage and personality, if you’re going to smoke a vape?


Check out the steam chalice for a one-of-a-kind, highly potent, spiritually charged way of consuming weed.

Jamaican steam chalice

What is a Steam Chalice?

The Jamaican steam chalice is a traditional method of inhaling cannabis, although it is distinct from other conventional methods. Why? Because it does not burn the flower but rather “steams” it. The steam chalice could be considered the earliest vaporizer. This method of inhaling weed, similar to modern vapes, frees up terpenes and cannabinoids without generating as many potentially toxic byproducts as combustion.


Surprisingly, the steam chalice combines all significant elements: fire, air, water, and earth. Looking at the components, steam chalices are made up of four essential parts:


Coconut: The steam chalice’s main component is a coconut. It is comparable to the bong’s chamber. Its water content aids in filtering the vapour that is produced from the bowl to produce smoother hits. When holding and smoking a steam chalice, the coconut acts as the “handle.”


Cutchie: A cutchie is a clay pipe that resembles a sizable bong bowl. This part of the steam chalice supports the flower over the downstem. It keeps it out of the heated temperatures when THC and other phytonutrients are released from the charcoal.


Bamboo tubes: The downstem and the mouthpiece of a steam chalice are made of two bamboo tubes. In contrast to typical bongs, this one has a downstem and bowl positioned precisely above the chamber and a mouthpiece extending from the coconut’s side.


Gritty: This essential clay grate rests above the flower and has many tiny holes. It limits direct contact and burning of the plant material while acting as a base for the burning of charcoal.


Now that you’re acquainted with steam chalices and their components, it’s time to learn how to handle one.


How to Use a Steam Chalice

Mastering the steam chalice can take a few tries, especially if you’re a dedicated joint smoker. Even if you’re used to working with massive and complex glass bongs, a Jamaican steam chalice will undoubtedly feel strange in your hands at first. We’ve included some simple instructions below to help you get started with this vintage piece of equipment. Follow them carefully for an easy introduction to this innovative cannabis use:


Fill the coconut with water first before doing anything else. The mouthpiece can be pulled from the coconut’s side to accomplish this. After that, add water below the orifice before reinstalling the bamboo mouthpiece. Take a bare tear. The sound that comes out should closely resemble the bong’s bubbling. If you don’t hear that distinctive sound, the water content of the coconut is either too high or too low.


The cutchie needs to be filled with herbs next. However, traditional cutchies link to the downstem through significantly larger holes in the bottom. So, to prevent flowers from falling into the chalice, many chalice users put in the part or whole torn buds. If you’d instead grind your bud, cover the hole with a large enough sheet of metal gauze before adding the flower.


Put the gritty in the cutchie after it has been filled. Depending on your type, some cutchies have a lip where you can insert the gritty to keep it from touching the herb below.


At this stage, things become even more unusual. You’re undoubtedly used to flicking the lighter or vape button before inhaling. You’ll find yourself grabbing into a bag of coal instead when using a cannabis chalice. Fill the top chamber of the cutchie with adequate charcoal. Then, use a blowtorch lighter to light the pieces. You’re ready to go when the charcoal chunks are steadily burning.


Now comes the exciting part. In the same way, you would hit a pipe or bong, place your finger over the coconut’s shotgun hole and hit the steam chalice. To clear the coconut, let go of your finger at the end of every hit. You’ll feel a clean, terpene-rich, and slightly vegetal flavour; keep in mind you’re vaping weed, not burning it.


You’ll need to wash your cutchie at the end of the operation. Remove the hot charcoal pieces with care and empty the steamed cannabis. Pour the water from the coconut and save your marijuana chalice for later use. Use a couple of pipe cleaners to clean the inside of the bamboo sticks every now and then.



Thinking of owning a Jamaican steam chalice? An expertly designed smoking chalice will be easy to buy online. However, suppose you’re thinking of executing a do-it-yourself project. In that case, you will need equipment such as Coconut, a 30cm section of plastic hose or bamboo pipe, Clay cutchie and gritty, Metal or glass downstem, Beeswax, Drill and drill bits, Screwdriver, Saucepan and Pyrex jug, and Paintbrush to carry out your project. For a better understanding of how to build a steam chalice from scratch, we recommend watching a YouTube video.





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