News Highlights: Just One Week Into 2017

Between ending the 2016 year and barely beginning into January of this new 2017 year, we are already reading a lot in the news of business, politics, fashion and laws regarding changes related to the cannabis and headshop industry. In these last few weeks alone, online news and article sources, that span the globe, have shared information about the current state of the ever changing playing field and rules around marijuana-based businesses.

Some things in the news have us seeing laws and stigmas continuing to change. We are noticing many new startups and local headshops and cannabis-based product stores opening up in very public ways. We are gaining political support for the industry and marijuana-based businesses from some of our government lobbyists and politicians, while we are holding our breath with concern from others.

Nonetheless, we thought it interesting to share a few of the highlights of stories and news items related to the changes in this evolving and continued "budding" business world:

In New Laws: "It is now legal to possess, use, and home-grow marijuana for Massachusetts residents over the age of 21."

December - Merry Jane: Cannabis Legend Lee Harris Talks Closing His Historic Head Shop, Arrests, and Changing Norms

In Changing Stigmas: "People are telling me it's the end of an era, but really it's the beginning of a new era." - "Cannabis always got left behind, culturally and legally. But now there has been a paradigm shift. Not only in the law, but also in the media and representation. They are not talking about it in a negative sense. If some footballer or pop star is caught smoking it's either done as a joke story or one sympathizing with them. We never saw this kind of thing before," says Lee Harris.

In Business News: As recreational marijuana became legal [in Massachusetts], the shops that have been selling all this paraphernalia could finally end their long public wink, take down the "for tobacco use only" signs, and admit that their glass cases have always been filled with toys for getting high.

"I’m so sick of telling customers they can’t say bong, or marijuana. And I’ll be so glad to not have to say 'tobacco' anymore," said Zelda Feinberg - Feinberg is one of the cofounders of Buried Treasures, a "smoke shop" that has been pretending it had no idea what you were talking about with this weed stuff in various locations in Boston and Cambridge.

December - NBC Affiliate WNYT NBC: Head shops riding high as marijuana becomes legal in Massachusetts

In New Shop Business: Shire Glass only sells smoking accessories; it can't sell marijuana itself. No one can. The state still has to set up regulations for selling weed. That's still at least a year away. No smoking in public. No open marijuana baggies in cars. No driving while high. "Five or six years ago, if I said to my parents' friends I was going to open a head shop. People were like that's kind of grimy. It wasn't the most accepted thing five or ten years ago, now with all these new states legalizing, and all the new information coming out, people are starting to open their eyes."

December - Canada’s Calgary Herald: Local head shop owner says it's high time for change to cannabis laws

More In Changing Stigmas: In major Canadian cities such as Calgary, head shops — the slang term for those selling such paraphernalia as bongs and other accessories for pot consumption — have been around for nearly 50 years. "It wasn’t that long ago they came in labelled as 'flower vases,'" Douvis says of his bongs and other devices, which can range in price from $40 to upwards of $5,000 (that's for what he calls a glass "work of art"). "We used to call our products 'pot pourri,' because you couldn’t say what they were actually for." Still, he thinks it's about time for a new approach. "We in the cannabis community have been fighting for legalization for 50 years," says Douvis. "Today, I believe the majority of people agree."

January - Care2: Elizabeth Warren Promotes Banking Rights for Marijuana Industry

In Business News: "Many banks don't want the headache of accepting cash and check deposits from marijuana-based businesses, or processing credit card transactions. Warren and her cohort want to change that. - Warren and her colleagues, including Senator Bernie Sanders, have requested that the Federal Crimes Enforcement Network reevaluate the way it approaches the question of marijuana-based businesses and banking. The hope is to provide clarity, assurances and a clearer path to going "legit" for those companies that want to do so."

January - Los Angeles Times:  Capitol Journal Marijuana is legal in California. Now politicians and pot pushers need to help keep it out of kids' hands

In Our Responsibilities: "The biggest problem with legalizing marijuana remains: How do we keep it away from kids? The pot pushers — the politicians and marijuana marketers — now need to step up and help do it, as they promised."

January – Reuters: Maine governor signs measure allowing recreational marijuana use

In New Laws: "The country's northeastern-most state becomes the ninth to legalize recreational use of the drug. - The law will allow adults aged 21 and older to use the drug in private, but not public places, and to possess up to 2.5 ounces (70.9 grams) of marijuana."

January: Business of Fashion: Is Marijuana the Luxury Industry's Next Big Opportunity?

In Luxury & Fashion News: As support for federal legalization of marijuana in the US grows, so too are efforts to transform cannabis — and the accessories associated with it — into a high-end product. - The opportunities for the luxury industry to capitalize on the legalization of marijuana go far beyond incorporating a cannabis leaf into apparel designs. The first, most obvious, foray has been into accessories; vaporizers and pipes are now being reimagined through a high-design lens.

"Marijuana is like fine wine, fine champagnes, fine cigars. It's becoming more chic to talk about it."