The Digital Dime: 4/3/2020

By Madalynn Flynn



Following important cannabis news articles every day can be a real burn-out, we know. That’s why the Emerald rolls up a chronicle of the headiest news hits, and passes them to you at the end of each week. We Bring You: The Digital Dime.


Weed Limits at New Jersey’s Medical Dispensaries

Medical dispensaries are coping with long lines of anxious patients who fear they may not be able to acquire their much needed medicine. Jeff Brown, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Health, which also regulates the medical marijuana program, notes  there are nine open dispensaries in New Jersey. As of Friday, March 20th, there were no reports of overall supply shortages. Contrary to Brown’s statement, Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center, located in Cranbury, New Jersey, has struggled to serve patients due to a lack of staff, strain shortages and social distance requirements.

Some shops are limiting the amount of cannabis costumers can buy to ensure there’s enough for everyone. Despite these efforts, Cindy Ortiz, breast cancer survivor, says it’s still not enough. Ortiz told that long lines at her local dispensary deterred her from picking up her prescription. She’s recovering from surgery, and doesn’t have the energy to wait in line for two hours, she said. Amidst the uproar, however, dispensary staff are admit about keeping a safe and clean spaces as they make do with the unfortunate circumstances.

Black Market Dealers are in High Demand

As New Jersey leaders shut down all non-essential business in response to COVID-19, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy took alliance with the cannabis industry, sparing medical dispensaries from closing. This was music to black market operators’ ears because these dealers knew that many users could not afford dispensary prices.

According too HeadyNJ, the black market in New Jersey supplies herb to an estimated 650,000 to 850,000 daily users. One of those dealers, Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion, told the site that his business is booming with medical and recreational consumers. Forchion doesn’t plan to stop selling weed. But, he wears a mask and gloves, and is operating by a “grab and go” model.

The Cannabis Stock Rebound

More than half of Americans (53%) believe medical marijuana dispensaries should be considered essential services, according to Marijuana Moment. David Culver, vice president of government relations at Canopy Growth Corp, explained to Yahoo Finance that, “cannabis companies need and deserve the same economic relief extended to other industries.”

The site reports that cannabis sales reached record highs in March. Stocks also proved strong, which may lead to, “speculation that states could accelerate legalization as a way to recoup losses.” In the last week of March, Yahoo Finance’s reports:

  • ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE: MJ) gained 24.7%.
  • AdvisorShares Pure Cannabis ETF (NYSE: YOLO) rose 23.2%.
  • Cannabis ETF (NYSE: THCX) spiked 28.3 %.
  • Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF (NYSE: CNBS) traded up 22.2%.
  • SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) closed the period up 10.75%.

No Relief for Industry Operators

Industry operators are no strangers to discrimination. That’s why it comes as no surprise that they’re receiving similar treatment from the Small Business Association (SBA). Because the plant remains illegal at the federal level, the SBA denied cannabis businesses eligibility for COVID-19 disaster relief. However, financial relief is available to hemp companies.

According to Marijuana Moment, a coalition of industry trade groups—including the National Cannabis Industry Association, Minority Cannabis Business Association, and the Cannabis Trade Federation—signed a joint letter last week urging congressional leaders to lift restrictions and allow cannabis businesses access to the same relief as any other legitimate market. However, things are at a standstill, especially any actions to push legalization efforts. In the meantime, many campaigns are asking officials to permit online signature collection during the quarantine.


Emerald contributor since February 2020


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