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News of the Week – June 23, 2023

Stay in the loop with HQ Magazine’s coverage of the week’s top news for smoke shops and cannabis dispensaries. From groundbreaking product releases to regulatory updates and emerging trends, we’ve got you covered. 

Florida Outlaws Kratom Sales to Under-21s

Starting July 1, it will be illegal to sell kratom to individuals under 21 years of age in Florida. The ban, passed unanimously by the Florida legislature during this legislative session, aims to protect young people from the potential health risks they claim are associated with kratom. 

Sheriff Grady Judd emphasized the consequences of violating this law, stating, “We give everyone who sells [kratom] the opportunity to understand this will get you locked up if you sell it to anyone under the age of 21.”

Those found selling kratom to customers under 21 after July 1 will face a second-degree misdemeanor charge, which can result in up to 60 days of jail time.

Retailers Shift Focus as Flower Loses Its Power

According to New Frontier Data’s market report, consumers are moving away from smoking as the primary method of consumption and are seeking a wider range of manufactured cannabis products. This shift presents a significant opportunity for retailers to meet the demand for diverse and innovative products.

The report reveals a growing interest in edibles, with 17% of consumers reporting increased consumption and 22% favoring edibles as their preferred method. Additionally, the increasing popularity of manufactured products, such as disposable vapes, signals a desire for convenient and socially acceptable consumption options. Retailers can capitalize on these trends by providing product education and offering a range of non-smoking alternatives.

Louisiana Triples Tax on Vapes and E-Cigarettes

The cannabis drinks industry is experiencing significant growth, fueled by advancements in water-soluble cannabinoid products. Improved production technology has led to the popularity of THC/CBD-infused beverages. These products are gaining wider acceptance among consumers and expanding distribution beyond dispensaries to beverage alcohol retailers.

In an interview with Beverage Dynamics, Mike Tabor, Business Development Manager at Trait Biosciences, a leading expert in soluble CBD and CBD product development, highlighted an imminent breakthrough. One major consumer concern addressed is the cloudiness of many cannabis beverages, leading to opaque packaging. Tabor emphasized the importance of visual appeal for consumers when choosing a product.

The demand for alcohol alternatives, particularly among younger demographics, coupled with changing social norms regarding smoking, has driven the appeal of cannabis-infused beverages. Tabor emphasized the broad applications and the emergence of cannabis-infused mocktails, underscoring the immense potential of this expanding market.

FDA Warns Smoke Shop Retailers Selling Unauthorized Flavored E-Cigarettes

The FDA has taken action against retailers selling unauthorized fruit- and candy-flavored disposable e-cigarettes, including the popular brand Elf Bar. Warning letters were sent to 189 convenience stores, vape shops, and other retailers as part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to combat illegal vaping products. These unauthorized e-cigarettes, such as Elf Bar and Esco Bar, lack FDA authorization and come in enticing flavors like cotton candy, which attract teenagers.

Brian King, the FDA’s tobacco center director, emphasized the agency’s determination to prevent the sale of illegal products that harm the nation’s youth. Despite previous regulatory efforts, unauthorized e-cigarettes continue to flood the market. Elf Bar, produced by Chinese company iMiracle Shenzhen, has been the most frequently mentioned brand in reports of accidental e-cigarette exposure and poisoning.

To tackle the issue, the FDA intends to utilize all available enforcement tools, including fines and injunctions, to curb the sale of these illegal products that appeal to young consumers.

GOP Committee High on Cannabis and Psychedelics Research in Defense Bill

A Congressional committee has given the green light to amendments in a defense bill that provide funding for research and a pilot program to study the effects of medical cannabis and psychedelics. 

GOP Representatives Nancy Mace and Morgan Luttrell introduced provisions requiring coverage for individuals receiving services from the Veterans Affairs Department, a pilot program to be conducted in states with approved marijuana regulations, and the compilation and publication of data from state-approved marijuana programs. Additionally, a clinical study on psychedelic treatments will focus on service members with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Tennessee to Implement 6% Sales Tax on Hemp-Based CBD Products

Tennessee is set to enforce a 6% sales tax on retail sales of hemp-based CBD products starting in July, as announced by the Tennessee Department of Revenue (TDOR). This tax will be in addition to the standard 7% state sales tax rate and any applicable local option sales tax. It specifically targets products that contain hemp-derived cannabinoids within the state, while exempting hemp-derived fiber, grain, and topical products from taxation. The implementation of this sales tax aligns with Governor Bill Lee’s recent bill that regulates hemp products, including Delta 8, in Tennessee. This action follows the growing trend of other states imposing taxation measures on hemp-based CBD products, highlighting the evolving regulatory landscape surrounding these items.

Oklahoma Confronts Marijuana Overproduction and Illegal Grows

Oklahoma is grappling with a significant marijuana surplus, exceeding consumer demand by a staggering 64-fold, as revealed by a study conducted by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. The surplus is predominantly fueled by illegal grows, although legal growers also contribute to the excess supply. Mark Woodward of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) expressed that this long-standing trend comes as no surprise. Legitimate growers are producing more than the market requires.

Consequently, the surplus marijuana is being illicitly diverted out of the state. The OBN emphasized that this study does not deter their ongoing efforts to combat illegal marijuana production. Woodward highlighted the closure of over 800 farms in the past two and a half years, with an additional 3,000 under investigation. The OBN aims to send a resolute message that Oklahoma’s lenient licensing approach is no longer tolerable.

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