Regulations, revenue and a senate campaign have put cannabis in the headlines

click to enlarge Senate candidate Gary Chambers. - CHAMBERS FOR LOUISIANA
Chambers for Louisiana
Senate candidate Gary Chambers.

Recent days have brought a handful of stories showing just how prevalent cannabis has become both locally and around the country. Here are three big stories from the past week that you might have missed.

POTENTIAL NEW REGULATIONS

In the Jan. 19 edition of its newsletter, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced its support for legislation recently introduced in the state Legislature that would expand the LCB's regulatory reach. Specifically, it would allow for cannabinoids derived from hemp, which the LCB does not regulate, to be regulated in the way cannabinoids from cannabis are regulated.

House Bill 1668 would expand the LCB's reach to include substances like Delta-8 THC, a cannabinoid derived from legal hemp plants but not regulated like its more common cousin, Delta-9 THC.

"The LCB believes all products containing potentially impairing cannabinoids should be regulated by the LCB. While the agency does not want to regulate hemp growing or plants, it believes hemp-derived cannabinoids which may be impairing should be subject to regulation by LCB," the agency said in its newsletter.

CANNABIS OUTEARNS ALCOHOL

Last week, WCVB-TV in Boston reported that, for the first time since opening its legal cannabis market in 2018, Massachusetts is earning more tax revenue from cannabis than alcohol. Through the first six months of fiscal 2022, which began last July, Massachusetts brought in $74 million in tax revenue from cannabis compared to $51 million from alcohol.

Here in Washington, that's been the case for the past five fiscal years. Last year, taxes on spirits generated $370.1 million in revenue for the state. Cannabis, on the other hand, brought in $533.9 million.

SENATE CANDIDATE SPARKS UP

Gary Chambers, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Louisiana, released a campaign video last week in which he is shown lighting and smoking cannabis on camera. The video, titled 37 Seconds, features a voice-over from Chambers mentioning that someone is arrested for cannabis every 37 seconds. He then continues by stating some of the personal and financial costs of cannabis prohibition.

"Most of the people police arrested aren't dealers, but rather people with small amounts of pot, just like me," Chambers says at the end of the video.

Recreational cannabis remains illegal in Louisiana, but the state legalized smokable cannabis for medical patients effective Jan. 1. Chambers is running to unseat first-term Republican Sen. John Kennedy. ♦

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