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Can Italy Decriminalize Cannabis?
Italy seems set to become one of the first European nations to decriminalize cannabis...
Welcome to Four PM — a newsletter that provides the top cannabis industry news from Canada to California.
In Today’s Issue 💬
→ Amazing News From Italy. 🙌🏽
→ BMW Embraces Hemp. ✅
→ Another Milestone In Maine. 🏆
The Italian Journey To Decriminalize Cannabis
The nation home to 60 million people is on track to decriminalize cannabis…
In the 1940s, Italy was believed to be the second-largest producer of industrial hemp in the world.
In 1961, however, Italy adopted the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
Upon adopting this policy, cannabis became a prohibited substance in the region despite the fact that a majority of Italians were against this move.
In 2015, 73% of Italians said they were in favor of legalizing cannabis.
Cannabis is already extremely popular in the region, especially amongst the youth where 25% of people aged 15 to 19 years old have admitted using cannabis at least once in a study in 2014.
Per the 2018 report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Italy ranks 3rd in the European Union for cannabis use.
Should Italy legalize cannabis, the total market is estimated to generate between $10 billion and $30 billion USD annually, with potential tax revenues expected to reach north of $6.5 billion USD.
In January 2013, Italy legalized medical cannabis, however, in light of the criticism as to how expensive medical cannabis was in the region — the Italian army began growing cannabis.
The demand for medical cannabis has skyrocketed in the region with the army initially targeting 20 KG’s of cannabis in 2014, however, this figure had reached some 450 KG’s of cannabis by 2017.
In 2019, Italy’s Supreme Court ruled that growing small quantities of cannabis at home for private usage was legal.
The court declared the crime of growing narcotic drugs should exclude “small amounts grown domestically for the exclusive use of the grower”.
One step forward…
With the world coming to a standstill in 2020, and Italy being one of the worst affected regions — there have been significant delays in updating Italian laws to reflect the Supreme court ruling.
On Wednesday, however, the House Justice Committee adopted the basic text that decriminalizes the cultivation of up to 4 cannabis plants — an essential step to officially decriminalize cannabis.
The vote will now be debated and ratified in the Upper House before it becomes law.
Albeit this is just one step in the process of Italy officially decriminalizing cannabis, this is amazing news for the cannabis industry across Europe.
Spain has been the outlier in allowing adults to cultivate cannabis in their homes, however, with Italy now on track to follow suit — political leaders in Europe will face an ever-increasing level of scrutiny as to why they too aren’t adopting similar policies.
The German Car Company’s Cannabis Plans
BMW, valued at over $50 billion USD has begun exploring the use of hemp…
Following the meteoric rise of Tesla — several of its competitors have been scrambling to create their own solutions to address consumer’s concerns regarding the negative environmental impact of cars.
One such company is BMW…
Founded in 1916 as a manufacturer of aircraft engines, BMW has successfully established itself as one of the world’s top car companies selling well over 2,000,00 cars in 2020.
BMW in particular has become very vocal in recent years regarding the measures it’s taking to shrink its carbon footprint, particularly when it comes to the production of its vehicles.
Now the German car company is turning to a variation of the cannabis plant to aid this effort — industrial hemp plants.
BMW is by no means the first car company to explore using hemp, in fact, the famous Model T could run on gasoline or hemp-based fuel in 1908.
BMW’s strategy is to use more environmentally friendly materials that can ideally be recycled as the brand aims to reduce its carbon footprint.
“The BMW Group believes only a holistic approach to the use of proven and new materials can permanently reduce CO2 emissions”
“For this reason, the BMW Group is focusing its research and development efforts on environmentally-compatible raw materials.”
In addition to confirming this sharp shift in strategy, the automakers have confirmed that hemp is now one such material they are exploring using in the production of car components like door trim panels.
The cannabinoids we all love to consume from cannabis are by no means the only benefits we can obtain by cultivating cannabis and hemp plants.
It’s fantastic to see an industry behemoth like BMW exploring the possibility of incorporating this plant into the production of its cars, and I’m very excited to see if others will follow its lead.
An Update From California
In the last edition of Four PM, we outlined how California lawmakers were struggling to reach a consensus on regulations for CBD products.
The good news? Common sense has prevailed and the long-debated bill to establish new regulations for CBD products in California has gained final approval from state lawmakers.
The measure, Assembly Bill 45, faced no issues in receiving the required support needed in the California Senate and Assembly this week.
The bill is now on its way to Governor Newsom for his signature, upon which these new regulations will come into effect.
Cannabis Sales Reach Record Highs
Is Maine is on track to sell more than $200 million of cannabis in 2022?
California may have the title as the first state to legalize medical cannabis, however, Maine was one of the first states to decriminalize cannabis in 1976.
The decriminalization bill in 1976 allowed adults living in Maine to carry small quantities of cannabis.
In 2009 Governor John Baldacci took this one step further by decriminalizing the possession of 2.5 ounces of cannabis.
On the 10th of November 2016 the people of Maine voted in favor of legalizing cannabis for all adults over the age of 21 — winning by less than 1%.
Retail sales were set to begin in February 2018, in order to allow agencies to form regulations for the new industry, however, retail stores had to wait until the 9th of October 2020 to open their doors.
Exponential increases… 🚀
Sales got off to a slow start in the State home to some 1,344,000 people.
That said, as more & more cannabis retail stores in Maine were permitted to open their doors, sales began to grow extremely rapidly.
In October 2020, sales totaled $1.1 million USD.
In January this number had more than doubled reaching $2.5 million.
By May, sales had once again more than doubled with consumers in the state purchasing over $5.4 million USD worth of cannabis.
In August sales had increased over 88% reaching $10.2 million USD — the very first time monthly sales in Maine had topped $10 million USD.
In total, the state’s 53 cannabis stores reported 133,969 transactions earning Maine $1 million in sales tax revenue in August, with 9 new stores opening their doors in the month of August.
What’s in demand?
As is commonly the case, dried flower is by far the most popular form factor — accounting for 59% of sales from June 2021 - August 2021.
Cannabis concentrates & edibles have both seen significant increases this quarter, with cannabis concentrates capturing 22% of sales, and edibles 19% — compared to 14% and 10% in October.
Adult-use vs medical sales…
Adult-use cannabis sales in Maine totaled $48.9 million USD since October 2020, however, the state’s medical cannabis market reported $250 million in sales in 2020 alone.
In total, the state has 185 stores, 81 manufacturing facilities, and 175 cultivation sites in various stages of the approval process — suggesting that these new record highs won’t last very long.
Despite the fact that adult-use cannabis sales in Maine got off to a very shaky start, the recent turnaround has been extremely impressive.
With 185 stores waiting to receive licenses in the state, and medical cannabis sales currently outpacing adult-use sales by 2.5x — I suspect adult-use sales could top $200 million USD in 2022.
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