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Marijuana Business Daily

Week in Review: Arizona’s defiant marijuana firms, California deadline & big cannabis investment in Iowa

7/6/18--Marijuana Business Daily presents closer look at some notable developments in the cannabis industry over the past week, including but not limited to a Arizona cannabis companies defying a court decision banning the sale of extracts, California marijuana businesses deal with the state’s July 1 transition, and an emerging player in the MJ industry planning a large indoor grow in Iowa. Read

Here’s how California might enforce violations of marijuana business rules

7/3/18--For now, regulators say they plan to maintain a softer approach to enforcement instead of immediate crackdowns in which fines are levied on companies that don’t heed the law. The Bureau of Cannabis Control, which oversees retailers, distributors, testing labs, and microbusinesses, will likely run point on inspections and enforcement, although the DFA oversees growers and the DPH governs edibles makers and concentrate producers. The strongest enforcement actions will likely be reserved for repeat violators. Read

California initiates enforcement against approximately 500 unlicensed marijuana businesses

2/21/18--Less than two months after California’s legal cannabis industry launched on New Year’s Day, state officials are starting to target hundreds of marijuana companies that are operating illegally without a license. The state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has sent out about 500 cease-and-desist letters to companies that are doing business but haven’t begun the application process. Read

Tripp Keber resigns as CEO of marijuana edibles powerhouse Dixie Brands for new role

12/15/17--Tripp Keber, the co-founder and CEO of Dixie Brands, resigned from the company Friday afternoon, effective immediately, to assume a new role in the marijuana industry. He will be taking on a “leadership role” with Rose Capital. Rose is one of Dixie’s largest funding partners and is taking the lead on new investment to help Dixie expand nationally and overseas. The resignation is part of a move that will partner Dixie with an upstart private equity company that is assembling a portfolio of infused products companies. Read

Washington state halts issuing of hemp licenses, citing budget shortfall

12/5/17--Washington has stopped issuing hemp licenses because the program is too expensive. The Washington Department of Agriculture won’t issue hemp licenses for 2018 unless state lawmakers devote $313,000 to the program, according to Capital Press, which covers agriculture for six Western states. Read

As marijuana consumption licenses stall, some entrepreneurs see opportunity

10/10/17--Despite numerous setbacks following rules for the nation’s first licensed marijuana consumption clubs, a few cannabis entrepreneurs are hoping the apparent standstill gives them an opportunity to be the first in Denver to open for business. However, some say Denver’s rules are still too strict, and severely limit potential locations. Nevertheless, Denver entrepreneurs who are still planning to apply say they’re up to the challenge. Read

Michigan raids lead to closure of 8 medical marijuana dispensaries

10/5/17--Eight medical cannabis dispensaries were raided and forced to close in northern Michigan. According to Traverse City Police Chief Jeff O’Brien, the raids were executed simultaneously after a monthlong investigation involving undercover officers who bought medical marijuana at the dispensaries despite not having “a patient-caregiver relationship.” Though no arrests were made, law enforcement agents seized cash, medical marijuana, cannabis plants, edibles, and wax. Read  

Celebrity sues CBD line, claiming trademark violation

9/28/17--Actress Jessica Alba is suing a Colorado business that makes CBD nutritional supplements, claiming that Honest Herbal infringes on the trademark of her Los Angeles firm, The Honest Co., which makes personal-care products and vitamins. Alba argues in the federal lawsuit filed in California that the 3-year-old CBD company is trying “to confuse consumers and profit from the goodwill and consumer recognition associated with The Honest Co.’s HONEST Marks,” which include product lines Honest Beauty, Honest Man, and Honest Baby. Read

California congressman calls for action from cannabis industry

9/22/17--Freshman Congressman Lou Correa, a Democrat from Southern California, urged the business community to contact their members of Congress about the renewal of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which he said could be in danger of expiring in December. “I’ll tell you, there are a lot of folks up there that are ready to support you,” Correa said of Congress. But, he added, more outreach and education is sorely needed from the marijuana industry. Read

Las Vegas recreational marijuana retailer advertises with airline

9/1/17--Las Vegas recreational marijuana retailer Acres Cannabis completed a deal to advertise in Allegiant Air’s in-flight magazine, another sign of a growing movement by cannabis companies to expand their advertising reach through transportation outlets. Acres said it will begin running a full-page ad in Allegiant’s Sunseeker magazine on Sept. 1, the Las Vegas Sun reported, and the campaign will run through October. This appears to be the first time a cannabis company has run an ad in an in-flight magazine. Read

Second Michigan recreational marijuana campaign gets OK

8/18/17--A second – and now competing – campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in Michigan has gotten the go-ahead from state officials to begin collecting signatures in a bid to make the 2018 ballot. The campaign, Abrogate Prohibition Michigan, was approved by the state board of canvassers to move ahead with its goal of 315,654 signatures, the Detroit Free Press reported. Read

New Jersey medical marijuana panel proposes 43 conditions

8/4/17--New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel has recommended that the state’s health department add 43 conditions to the list of illnesses that would qualify patients to receive medical cannabis cards. Many of the suggested additions are variations of the same condition, including several categories of chronic pain, anxiety, migraines, and fibromyalgia, among others. Other conditions recommended by the panel include arthritis, autism, asthma, opiate-use disorder, and irritable bowel syndrome. Read

PNC shutters marijuana group’s Ohio bank account

7/14/17--One of the nation’s largest financial services companies, Pittsburgh-based PNC, recently shut down the account of the Ohio chapter of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Read

CA lawmakers approve merger of rec, MMJ regulatory systems

6/16/17--The California legislature approved a state budget plan that includes a proposal from Gov. Jerry Brown to merge the regulatory systems for both medical and recreational marijuana businesses. The new system will allow California marijuana retailers to sell both rec and medical at the same physical storefront. Read

Vegas MMJ grower begins trading on Canadian Stock Exchange

6/19/17--Friday Night Inc., a Canadian company that owns a medical marijuana cultivator and CBD company in Las Vegas, has started trading on the Canadian Stock Exchange, a move that could make it easier for other U.S. plant-touching companies to list in Canada. Friday Night Inc. previously traded on the TSX Venture Exchange – the junior exchange of the Toronto Stock Exchange – under the name QuikFlo Health. Read

Florida could someday be home to massive medical marijuana businesses

6/19/17--Primed to become one of the nation’s most lucrative medical marijuana markets once it’s up and running, Florida’s program will license just a handful of businesses to produce, process, and distribute all MMJ sold in the state. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he “absolutely” intends to sign the medical marijuana bill. This will bring to 17 the total number of companies authorized to produce and dispense full-strength medical cannabis across the state, and the maximum number of dispensaries will increase to 425. Read

Nevada firm picked to run LSU’s medical marijuana program

6/16/17--Louisiana State University selected GB Sciences, a Nevada-based marijuana company, to operate the school’s medical marijuana program, one of two in the state. GB Sciences is a vertically integrated marijuana firm that specializes in cultivation as well as extraction for medical purposes. Read

International standards organization to tackle cannabis

6/13/17--Pennsylvania-based ASTM International, a not-for-profit that has developed professional standards for a host of industries, is now going to tackle marijuana in a newly announced partnership with the American Herbal Products Association. The groups have signed a memo of understanding to cooperate on a set of professional standards for the cannabis industry. Read

AG Sessions to Congress: Kill medical marijuana protections

6/13/17--U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked four congressional leaders at the beginning of May to omit key medical marijuana industry protections from a new federal spending bill. Sessions specifically asked that language from the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment not be included in any appropriations bill, or similar provisions, that would “in any way inhibit the (Department of Justice’s) authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.” Read

Cannabis organizations merge to create certification group

6/7/17--The Organic Cannabis Association and the Ethical Cannabis Alliance have merged into a new organization: the Cannabis Certification Council. The council’s mission will be to independently certify cannabis products as organic and “fairly produced.” The new organization will issue seals that businesses can use to market products. Read

Medical marijuana company advertises in New York subways

5/23/17--Vireo Health of New York, one of the state’s five licensed MMJ companies, on Monday launched a large-scale medical cannabis advertising campaign in the New York City subway system that targets nearly 100 stations with posters touting MMJ. If the campaign encounters no pushback, it would be a notable marketing breakthrough for both Vireo and the state’s MMJ industry, which has struggled for multiple reasons, including tight advertising restrictions. Read

MPP chief ready to barter for marijuana campaign donations

4/28/17--Rob Kampia, executive director of Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), solicited tobacco business interests in Michigan in search of campaign donations to run what will likely be a multimillion-dollar, 19-month endeavor. Although efforts were largely unsuccessful, MPP did secure a $50,000 donation from Wild Bill’s Tobacco, a chain of smoke shops involved in the Michigan negotiations. However, according to Kampia, that money was “to keep our ears open” – not in exchange for any particular provision written into the ballot measure. Read

Alcohol, tobacco interests eyeing Michigan marijuana market

4/27/17--The tobacco industry is eyeing the retail end of the of the cannabis industry in Michigan, and industry officials have raised the possibility that both tobacco and alcohol companies could be positioned to profit from secure wholesale transport of cannabis. The scene in Michigan highlights how more established industries will likely insert themselves into the legalization process to gain a foothold in the multibillion-dollar cannabis industry. Read

Recreational cannabis states prepping for possible federal crackdown

4/25/17--California, Colorado, and Oregon have begun taking steps to protect recreational marijuana businesses and consumers against a possible federal crackdown under the new Trump administration. Many have urged the president and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to lay off marijuana businesses. Trump, however, has not articulated a policy stance on cannabis, so lawmakers in California, Colorado and Oregon – all three recreational cannabis states – have begun taking matters into their own hands. Read

Oregon vineyard owners sue to halt nearby cannabis cultivation

4/21/17--Oregon vineyard owners in the heart of the state’s wine region filed a lawsuit asking a judge to ban a neighbor from cultivating marijuana, complaining that the smell of cannabis could drift over and taint their grapes. The winemakers’ lawsuit claims the marijuana farmer’s outdoor grow could jeopardize the Momtazi’s Demeter Biodynamic certification, which recognizes the vineyard for organic farming. Read

Rhode Island governor calls for delay in legalizing rec marijuana

4/17/17--Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is calling on lawmakers to delay passing legislation that would legalize adult-use cannabis. Raimondo says they should instead support legislation to create a 15-member study commission to make recommendations to lawmakers by March 1, 2018. Read

Las Vegas cannabis lounge options are taking shape

3/28/17--Marijuana consumption lounges in Las Vegas are looking more and more as if they’ll become a reality for cannabis entrepreneurs. During a Clark County marijuana advisory panel meeting, the board discussed proposals for such a concept and how cannabis clubs would be regulated. Nevada is one of a number of states considering laws to allow consumption of marijuana in public places. Read

Canadian medical marijuana producer to open online store

3/29/17--Canopy Growth Corp., Canada’s biggest publicly traded medical marijuana producer, plans to launch an online store that will offer patients one-stop shopping for the company’s various brands. The move sheds light on how Canadian cannabis companies could increasingly turn to the internet as a new approach to peddling their products, particularly as the country rolls out its new recreational market. Read

Colorado bill would let growers reclassify rec marijuana to medical

3/27/17--The Colorado Legislature is considering a bill to allow growers to reclassify their inventory as medical marijuana in the event of a federal crackdown. Though the measure has yet to receive a full vote in either the state House or Senate, it has passed one Senate committee with bipartisan support, an indication that politicians on both sides have no desire to see Trump gut the adult-use cannabis industry. Read

Canadian producer invests $3M in Arizona medical marijuana grower

3/28/17--Aphria, a federally licensed Canadian medical marijuana producer, increased its investment in an Arizona medical marijuana grower by $3 million. Aphria now owns 5% of Copperstate Farms LLC through its subsidiary, Aphria (Arizona), and Copperstate Farms Investors controls the remaining 95%. Copperstate owns about 1.7 million square feet of greenhouses in Snowflake, Arizona, and plans to have approximately 348,000 square feet of that space in operation for medical cannabis production by the fall. Read

Nevada medical cannabis licenses fetch almost $2 million

3/28/17--Oregon-based cannabis oil company Golden Leaf Holdings paid $1.925 million to acquire cultivation and extraction licenses from NevWa, a Nevada company that does business as Grassroots. NevWa’s two licenses allow for distribution and sales in Nevada, including prominent tourist destinations Las Vegas and Reno. Read

Study: Cannabis is making a dent in beer sales

3/20/17--Almost 30% of Americans say they are now buying legal marijuana instead of beer, or would consider doing so if it were sanctioned in their states, according to a study by Cannabiz Consumer Group. The results shed light on a potentially large customer base for cannabis companies. Read

Pacific Northwest marijuana investment network set to launch

3/21/17--The newly launching Cannabis Investment Network (CIN) aims to connect marijuana firms with financial backers. The organization is hoping to serve smaller-scale firms that are looking to raise from $500,000 to $3 million. The self-described “angel group” will function more as a conduit to connect investors with potential investments, instead of raising and deploying capital itself. Read

New cannabis advocacy group aims to sway federal government

3/21/17--A group of cannabis companies has banded together under the name of New Federalism Fund (NFF) to form a nonprofit political advocacy group designed to protect the legal marijuana trade. The NFF plans to work with Congress and the Trump administration to achieve its goals. Read 

RI medical marijuana panel sets first meeting in eight years

3/20/17--Eight years after its formation, a legislative committee tasked with overseeing Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program will meet for the first time on March 28. The committee includes the head of the patient advocacy group that pushed for Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law as well as two MMJ patients and a caregiver. Read

Third lawsuit launched in Canada over tainted medical marijuana

3/16/17--A third proposed class-action lawsuit over pesticide-laden medical marijuana in Canada raises additional questions about Health Canada’s claim that people who consumed the tainted cannabis weren’t becoming ill. Canopy Growth Corp., which bought Mettrum at the start of the year, and Organigram have vowed to fight the allegations. Read

Oxford University receives $12.3M to study medical marijuana

3/16/17--One of the world’s top research universities, Oxford University, has received 10 million pounds ($12.3 million) from a London-based private equity firm to study the medical benefits of marijuana, a move that could lead to more acceptance of MMJ as a medicinal therapy worldwide. According to a news release, Oxford will use the money to identify state-of-the-art medical therapy by researching the “molecular, cellular, and system mechanisms of cannabinoids.” Read

Alaska regulators seize imported CBD oil in raids

2/10/17--Alaska officials raided an unspecified number of recreational cannabis shops and seized “thousands of dollars worth of imported CBD oil." A news release from the Alaska Marijuana Control Office confirmed that “several retail stores” appeared to be in violation of state laws that mandate specific testing, labeling, and packaging for marijuana products. Read

Arizona growing into medical marijuana juggernaut

2/6/16--Arizona has grown into one of the largest medical cannabis markets in the nation, behind only California and Michigan in terms of patient counts. Looking forward to 2017, Arizona’s medical cannabis industry shows no signs of slowing down and likely will continue to develop into one of the more lucrative markets in the nation. Read

Denver MJ company recalls products for possible pesticides

1/23/17--Denver marijuana company Green Man Cannabis is voluntarily recalling marijuana and cannabis-infused products after samples showed they could contain residual levels of illegal pesticides. The city’s environmental health department is probing whether the company's products were exposed to unsafe pesticides. Read

$740K in sales for NH medical marijuana businesses

1/17/17--New Hampshire’s four fledgling medical marijuana dispensaries made $740,000 in sales during their first few months of operation last year. The figures, which are included in a new report by the state’s health department, cover sales from the time each dispensary opened last year through Sept. 15. The report also lists how much money each company raised and how much it spent by that date as well. Read

Two of Washington’s largest recreational marijuana chains on the selling block

1/17/17--Washington state’s two top-selling cannabis retailers, Main Street Marijuana and Uncle Ike’s,  are for sale. They have united in an attempted joint sale of both companies for $50 million. The move underscores how some cannabis entrepreneurs are taking the opportunity to unload their businesses while they are strong and can command a hefty price tag. Read

Oregon legislators may take aim at medical cannabis regulator

1/9/17--Legislation proposed for the 2017 session would wrest some or all control of medical marijuana from the Oregon Health Authority. The OHA came under fire in 2016 for its strict cannabis testing standards and dearth of labs. However, the OHA defended its testing policies, saying they are meant to detect unapproved pesticides that could jeopardize public safety. Read

Colorado rec shop countersues investment firms

12/20/16--The owners of the Original Leaf recreational marijuana store in Aspen, Colorado are countersuing two Texas investment firms, alleging that their principals controlled the money they invested in Original Leaf and forced the owners to hire unnecessary workers, including one who tried to ruin its marijuana crop. Read

Private Washington state fund to boost medical cannabis access

tmr_image-block12/7/16--A proposed fund could help foot the bill for low-income medical marijuana patients. The idea is the brainchild of the 70-member Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), which hopes to have the fund up and running by spring 2017. The fund is intended to expand patient access to MMJ. Read

Texas bill would legalize full-strength medical marijuana

tmr_image-block12/6/16--Texas Sen. José Menéndez has introduced a bill that would expand the state’s current CBD program to include full-strength medical marijuana and additional qualifying conditions, which could create a massive new MMJ market. The legislation is expected to face an uphill battle. “Doctors, not politicians, should be determining what is best for Texas patients,” Menéndez said. “This is legitimate medicine that can help a variety of sick people.” Read

Minnesota approves PTSD for medical cannabis program

tmr_image-block12/1/16--Medical patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will be able to start making MMJ purchases in August, and two medical cannabis producers will be allowed to start manufacturing infused topical patches, creams, and lotions. Five other conditions were also considered for the list but not added because of a lack of evidence that cannabis was successful in treating the ailments, the AP reported. Read

New York adds chronic pain to medical cannabis conditions list

tmr_image-block12/1/16--New York health regulators took a major step Thursday toward boosting the state’s fledgling medical marijuana industry by adding chronic pain to the list of treatable conditions for MMJ. The state’s health department said it is drafting rules to allow doctors to recommend chronic pain, decease although it didn’t spell out the symptoms that will qualify, the Journal News reported. Read

State warns Oregon MJ growers about unapproved pesticides

tmr_image-block11/22/16--Three of Oregon’s government agencies have warned marijuana cultivators about using pesticides not approved by the state for use on cannabis crops. The directors of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Health Authority, and Oregon Liquor Control Commission said producers can meet Health Authority pesticide standards, but still be in violation of the state’s Pesticide Control Act if any levels of illegal pesticides are found. Read

MJ companies under fire for meat-covered model at party

tmr_image-block11/21/16--A pair of edibles companies that do business together are facing a public relations backlash after a photo from a Las Vegas party surfaced showing a nearly naked model who was lying on her back and adorned with slices of cold cuts for guests to snack on. Some cannabis professionals are now calling for a boycott of both California-based Altai Brands, which hosted the party, and Colorado-based Dixie Brands, which has a professional affiliation with Altai and was a sponsor of the event. Read

Sales projections for states that legalized cannabis

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-9-32-39-am11/21/16--States that passed marijuana measures earlier this month eventually could generate more in annual retail MJ sales than the entire U.S. cannabis industry is expected to this year. The current recreational cannabis market will bring in an estimated $1.4-$1.7 billion dollars in retail sales by the end of 2016, and the addition of four new adult-use states will expand the size of this market by another $5.9 billion-$6.7 billion annually three to five years after rec shops open in each market. Read

Trade groups are sprouting from cannabis industry

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-9-30-02-am11/23/16--As the cannabis industry has spread, a variety of marijuana organizations – particularly dozens of trade groups – have cropped up. Some trade groups are more specialized, while others are statewide or national. The growth of trade groups has reached a point where even industry insiders don’t have a good idea how many there are. The emergence of more and more trade groups is a logical evolution, given the amazing growth the cannabis industry has experienced in recent years. Read

Arkansas health department to oversee new medical marijuana industry

fb-square-english-spanish11/10/16--The day after Arkansas voters approved legalized medical marijuana, the state’s Department of Health unveiled plans for how it will set up the necessary infrastructure to launch the new medical marijuana industry and regulate it once businesses are up and running. According to the Department of Health, it will take several months to establish a regulatory system that will oversee labeling and testing, develop a conditions list, and monitor a library for dispensaries to verify how much cannabis is doled out to cardholders. Read

Privateer raises $40M, exceeds $100M in total funding

fb-square-english-spanish11/4/16--Privateer Holdings, a cannabis-focused private equity firm in Seattle, announced Friday it has closed on $40 million in convertible bridge financing, bringing its fundraising total to $122 million. Privateer said it will use the money to launch new ventures, make strategic acquisitions, and expand its three existing portfolio companies into new markets. Read

Denver’s marijuana policy office merges with licensing agency

fb-square-english-spanish11/3/16--Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy will be folded into the Department of Excise and Licenses. Ashley Kilroy, the city’s marijuana policy adviser, will head both departments, according to the Denver Business Journal. Since Denver initiated recreational cannabis sales in 2014, the two departments have collectively administered medicinal and adult-use marijuana rules. Read

Michigan MMJ program criticized for doctor certifications

fb-square-english-spanish11/3/16--Michigan’s medical marijuana program has come under criticism after a state audit found that a small number of doctors were responsible for certifying tens of thousands of patients for MMJ, a finding that raises questions about the state’s oversight of the industry. In response to the criticism, the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs began auditing medical marijuana card recommendations in September, according to reports. Read

Denver ballot measure aims to curb possible loss of marijuana tourists

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-6-57-57-am11/1/16--Supporters of a ballot measure to allow cannabis consumption in restaurants, bars, and other public venues in Denver hope to preempt a potential loss of marijuana tourists. Nevada and California, both major tourist draws, have adult-use legalization initiatives on their Nov. 8 ballots. If those measures pass, industry watchers in Colorado fret that Nevada – which is home to tourist mecca Las Vegas – and California will permit public marijuana use sooner rather than later. Read

Licensing fees for CBD oil dispensaries could soar in Texas

fb-square-english-spanish10/26/16--Licensing fees would surge – to $1.3 million from $6, 000 – for Texas CBD oil dispensaries under a proposal being considered by the state’s Department of Public Safety, sparking industry concerns that such a move would deliver a crippling blow to businesses. Read

Arkansas high court nixes one of two medical marijuana initiatives

fb-square-english-spanish10/27/16--Arkansas’ Supreme Court disqualified one of two medical cannabis legalization ballot initiatives, leaving one measure for voters to decide on and perhaps improving its chances of success. The high court ruled 5-2 that roughly 12,000 signatures submitted by Arkansans for Compassionate Care were invalid, meaning its measure, designated as Issue 7, doesn’t have enough signatures and won’t appear on the ballot next month. Read

Marijuana legalization campaigns raising more money than opposition

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-8-55-49-am10/24/16--As in the past, proponents have raised far more money to support ballot initiatives to legalize pot than opponents have been able to raise. The former has a marijuana industry that supports legalization. The latter does not. California proponents have raised a whopping $19.8 million this year, much of it from an industry driven by profit motives. Read