February 2024 Regional News Update: Milestones, Projections, and Partnerships

Each month, Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) offers a convenient roundup of the biggest cannabis news stories and hemp headlines emerging across the nation. Get these updates in your inbox by subscribing to our email newsletter, or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter (now X) to get the most recent edition when it’s published.


As February unfolds, the Northeast cannabis industry surges ahead. The landscape continues to shift in New York, with more than 100 new licenses marking a significant stride toward expanding the state’s market. Next door, New Jersey is expected to eclipse $1 billion in sales this year, breaking new ground for the Garden State’s cannabis industry. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) has called for legalization, igniting conversations about the state’s potential entry into the adult-use market. Join us as we navigate through the latest milestones, regulatory advancements, and innovative proposals throughout the region.  


New York CCB approves over 100 new licenses 


The New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) made a milestone decision to approve 109 new licenses in the state. Notably, these are the first non-conditional licenses the state will issue, departing from the previous criteria under the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) program, which prioritized justice-involved individuals. Among these licenses, 38 are allocated for new retail dispensary ventures, while an additional 26 are designated for microbusiness operations, which vertically integrated cultivation, processing, distribution, and retail operations under one license.


 “Adult-use cannabis is a growing industry in New York that will help local economies across the state,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said. “The approval of over 100 licenses is a good start and provides individuals with the opportunity to apply for licensing to help drive up local economies around them.”


The surge in licensing represents a substantial increase from previous numbers, nearly tripling the number of licenses since December. New York is now home to 70 licensed adult-use dispensaries, with more establishments poised to open soon. 


New Jersey sales predicted to surpass $1 billion in 2024


Jeff Brown, the executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC), is bullish on the state’s cannabis industry, projecting that 2024 will be the year when New Jersey exceeds the milestone of $1 billion in annual sales. 


Speaking at a public hearing, Brown emphasized the forthcoming regulations aimed at the expansion of edible offerings in the state, highlighting that these regulations would not only enhance consumer safety but also incorporate Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) provisions to align with federal legalization bills. 


“It’s something that will set New Jersey’s market up to compete in decades to come,” Brown said during the hearing. “I’m not counting on federal legalization happening anytime soon, but nonetheless we want to make sure businesses in New Jersey are prepared to compete whenever that opportunity arises.”


Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty partner with CBD company 


The Brooklyn Nets and the New York Liberty have made headlines by becoming the first professional basketball teams of the NBA and WNBA to join forces with a CBD company. Mynd Drinks, a hemp-based CBD sparkling beverages company, is set to collaborate with the iconic New York teams following the NBA’s decision to remove cannabis from its list of banned substances for players. 


“This gives us an anchor for the East Coast in terms of exposure, marketing, and expansion,” Mynd Drinks CEO Simon Allen said in a statement. “We’ve had tons of opportunities to work with different teams but what we really liked about both of the teams was they shared a lot of what our vision was.”


While specific details of the agreements are not all made public, reports state that Mynd Drinks will be available for purchase at all Nets and Liberty games. The company will also sponsor Liberty theme nights throughout the season. 


Pennsylvania governor pushes for cannabis legalization 


Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) is urging state officials to seize bipartisan momentum and push forward with the legalization of cannabis in recent statements. Shapiro underscored the urgency of the matter, emphasizing that Pennsylvania’s neighboring states, including Ohio, have already embraced legalization, leaving the Keystone State at a competitive disadvantage. 


With an estimated loss of $250 million annually in potential revenue, the governor emphasized the tangible benefits of legalization, highlighting its potential to bolster economic development and fund crucial sectors such as education. 


“The reality is, as long as we have safeguards in place to make sure our children aren’t getting their hands on it — it’s just like, we don’t want our kids out drinking, right?” he said. “And a lot of that is going to be a burden on parents and schools and others to make sure we educate on that. Then I think this is something we’ve got to compete on.”


In a separate conversation WILK News Radio, Shapiro added that he’s personally “evolved on” the issue and wants a legal cannabis market rooted in the state. “[We are] focused on lifting up Pennsylvania businesses in the process — not these big national conglomerates — and we’re empowering people in local communities to it that I think some good can come from it.”


These statements come shortly after the governor included cannabis in his $48.3 billion budget proposal, calling for a 20% excise tax on legal cannabis and estimating that an adult-use cannabis industry in the state could bring in $14.8 million in tax revenue in its first year. Those new dollars would help pay for additional spending on public transit, economic development, housing, and health care, among other priorities.


Navigating the green together 


Adapting to the dynamic and evolving landscape of cannabis in the Northeast is essential for staying informed and ahead of the curve. Whether you’re a stakeholder, entrepreneur, or enthusiast, CWCBExpo ensures you have the insight and resources to navigate this burgeoning industry successfully. Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media to stay updated and engaged with the latest developments shaping the future of cannabis in the Northeast and beyond. 

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