Here on the Marijuana Minute, you will find the top stories from around the industry in this week’s Cannabis Industry News Recap for the week of April 29th – May 5th, 2019.
Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Top Females in the Cannabis Industry
Often assumed to be a “dude-centric” industry, we must now acknowledge that some of cannabis’ newest leaders are female. According to Marijuana Business Daily, 27% of executive positions in the cannabis industry are filled by women. Even more interesting, female participation in the industry as consumers of cannabis almost doubled in 2018. It’s high time we recognize the unique perspective women bring to the world of cannabis, with the potential to explore and develop new products, this shift could be a catalyst that could drive real growth in the industry.
Whether they’re the leaders of cannabis companies/organizations or developing cannabis products for the female market (women know what women want, right?) these women are certainly leaving their mark on the budding cannabis industry and breaking the grass ceiling. Here are a few female names leading the charge:
Canadians Used More Pot in Q1, While Legal Market Doubled: StatsCan
Canadian cannabis usage increased in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period a year earlier following the legalization of recreational cannabis in October, while the number of people obtaining pot from legal sources more than doubled, according to Statistics Canada.
About 5.3 million or 18 percent of Canadians aged 15 and older reported using cannabis in the last three months, according to StatsCan, which released its quarterly National Cannabis Survey on Thursday, the first to show Canada-wide results entirely in the post-legalization period. That is up from the 14 percent of the country who reported using cannabis just one year earlier before legalization.
Final Piece Of Connecticut Marijuana Legalization Legislative Package Advances
Connecticut lawmakers voted on Wednesday to send the third and final piece of a marijuana legalization package out of committee and toward floor consideration. Over the past several weeks, legislative panels have been individually handling aspects of a comprehensive cannabis regulation plan that relate to their respective jurisdictions.
One bill to legalize marijuana for adult use, which would also expunge the records of those with prior marijuana possession convictions, was approved by the legislature’s Judiciary Committee last month. Another proposal advanced through the General Law Committee in March. And now, the Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding has signed off on a bill to direct how tax revenue from marijuana sales would be allocated in the state.
Full, 300-Page Pot Legalization Bill Could be Introduced in Illinois Within Days
With only five weeks left until the end of the legislative session, Democratic lawmakers are preparing to release their entire highly-anticipated bill to legalize marijuana for adult use.
With lawmakers preparing to return Tuesday from their two-week spring break, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy said the full details of the 300-page legislation could be introduced in the coming days. A shell of the legalization bill was introduced in the Senate in January and later passed the Senate Executive Committee in April before any details had been filed.
Florida is the Nation’s Fastest-Growing Medical Marijuana Market
Despite ongoing efforts by the Florida Legislature to thwart the will of the people, Florida likely has the fastest- growing medical marijuana program in the nation. More than 213,000 people are enrolled, with 10,000-plus signing up every month.
New York, by comparison, implemented its medical marijuana program 18 months before the Sunshine State and has fewer than half the patients – even though the number of prescribing doctors is similar.
Arizona, which is probably second to Florida (no one group keeps comparable numbers), had almost triple the number of medical pot users at the beginning of 2018. By the end of March, the last numbers available, Florida had 8,000 more.
Congress Made it Legal to Grow Hemp Last Year – Florida is Now on Board, Too
Across the state, farmers, processors and innovators have been waiting for a green light. Some are ready to return century-old family land to farm again, revitalize citrus operations, build processing facilities and make sustainable cotton-like products. They wanted a hemp program and Friday afternoon, their wishes were answered.
On the penultimate day of the legislative session, the Legislature approved a bill that allows the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to create a state hemp program. The Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill. On Wednesday, all members but Rep. James Bush, D-Miami, voted to approve the bill.
Privatization an Option After Cannabis NB Loss: Premier
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says he’ll look at all options, including privatization after the province’s Crown-owned cannabis retailer recorded a big financial loss in its first year of operation. Unaudited year-end results released Tuesday show Cannabis NB lost $11.7 million.
“Certainly a loss of $12 million in six months, we’re not going to continue with that activity,” Higgs said Wednesday. “I need to understand the details around the loss. I appreciate there were supply issues that played a big role in that.”
He said he wasn’t surprised the operation lost money, and the government will look at whatever needs to be done to ensure that it is not a drain on the public treasury.
Winnipeg Councillor Looking to Limit Amount of Medical Pot Grown in Homes
A Winnipeg city councillor says it’s time to move large scale medical marijuana grow ops out of residential neighbourhoods and into industrial areas. Health Canada says people with a registered certificate to grow medical pot in their homes for personal use can possess up to 150 dried grams or 300 fresh grams.
There can also be up to four registrations in place for production at one location. Coun. Ross Eadie says he’s been receiving complaints about suspected medical grow ops causing odour and noise problems in two neighbourhoods.
New Research Study Proves Canadians Are Turning to Cannabis for Relaxation & Wellbeing
According to “The Future of Cannabis in Canada“, a new study conducted by Insights West for Resonance Consultancy in partnership with Valens GroWorks Corp. (CSE: VGW) (OTC: VGWCF), the Canadian cannabis consumer may choose to partake in the drug for a wide variety of reasons, including health benefits such as reducing anxiety, helping with sleep, and relieving stress.
“Our study found that almost 80% of Canadians are turning to cannabis for relaxation and well-being even though the majority of users don’t have medical prescriptions. Clearly, even without clinical research, Canadians believe cannabis has a positive impact on their health and LP’s should take note,” said Everett Knight, Executive Vice President, Strategy and Investments for Valens GroWorks.
Cannabis Licences Sold Well Below Market Value
In January, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the regulator for private cannabis retail, announced the winners of its lottery for 25 cannabis retail store licences. The lottery is part of the Ford government’s strategy to privatize the sale of non-medical cannabis.
Since the announcement of the lottery winners, the process has been marred in controversy as there were no pre-qualifications for lottery applicants, only 25 licences were provided for the entire province that has approximately two million cannabis users, and the overwhelming majority of licence winners had no prior experience in cannabis retail.
Ontario’s Legal Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Hit New Low
Hobbled by the bungled rollout of physical stores and inconsistent inventory at the monopoly online retailer, sales of legal adult-use cannabis in Ontario hit a fresh low in the month of February.
Receipts at the Ontario Cannabis Store declined to just 7.5 million Canadian dollars ($5.6 million), down from almost CA$9 million in January, according to Statistics Canada data.
The data does not take into account sales at the first brick-and-mortar stores in the province, which opened nearly six months after Canada legalized recreational marijuana.
Toronto Just Can’t Get Rid of Illegal Cannabis Stores
How much would it suck to go through all the trouble of opening a legal weed store, only to have dozens of people do the exact same thing without paying for permits, inspections or meeting any sort of government regulations?
How much would it suck to then watch these people not only get away with their illegal operations, but do so while luring your customers away with cheaper prices?
Ontario Cannabis Distributor Cancels Tender for Same-Day Pot Deliveries
Ontario’s government-run cannabis distributor has cancelled its tender for couriers to make same-day pot deliveries.
The provincial corporation tasked with the online sale and distribution of recreational cannabis posted a cancellation notice on Friday via the Ontario government’s tender portal.
The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, which conducts e-commerce as the Ontario Cannabis Store, did not cite a specific reason for why it decided not to proceed, and the OCS was not immediately available for comment.
Key US Senator Indicates Panel May Refuse to Hear Cannabis Banking Bill
The chair of a key U.S. Senate committee declined Tuesday to commit to considering legislation that would provide federal protections to financial institutions serving state-legal marijuana businesses, which is dubbed the SAFE Banking Act.
Sen. Mike Crapo, a Republican from Idaho, made the comments – as reported by Politico in a tweet – at a meeting of the Independent Community Bankers of America.
Crapo’s comments aren’t generally seen as a surprise given that cannabis industry watchers have long viewed the Republican-controlled Senate as the biggest hurdle for the measure, despite the fact that five Senate Republicans are now on board as cosponsors.
California Opens up for Commercial Hemp Cultivation
We have been closely following California’s commercial hemp cultivation licensing law since it was proposed last year as Senate Bill 1409 (see here, here, and here). In March, I wrote about some of the roadblocks to implementing SB-1409’s commercial hemp cultivation programs, and the lengthy review process of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (“CDFA”) regulation which would allow hemp cultivators to register with their county agricultural commissioners.
The CDFA’s regulation was recently approved, and as of April 30, 2019, the CDFA posted applications for registration for commercial hemp cultivation and hemp seed breeders (see here and here respectively). It looks like these respective apps will not be submitted to the CDFA directly, but will instead be provided to county agricultural commissioners in the county in which a cultivator or seed breeder wishes to cultivate hemp. Applicants for commercial cultivation must provide basic information about themselves, as well information about the cultivation site, the purpose of the site (cultivation v. storage), GPS coordinates and other information regarding the site, a boundary map, and certain information about seed cultivars. The seed breeder application is relatively similar.
First in the State, Las Vegas Approves Marijuana Lounges
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday voted to permit lounges where people can consume marijuana, making the city the first in Nevada — and one of the few nationwide — to allow such businesses.
Elected officials voted 4-1 to pass the bill, sponsored by Councilman Bob Coffin, just before the draft ordinance was scheduled to expire. Councilman Stavros Anthony — a retired Metropolitan Police Department captain — voted no, preferring the city follow the lead of the state and invite other governments to weigh in.
Bills Allowing Marijuana Deliveries and Tasting Rooms Head Toward Colorado Governor’s Desk
A bill that would allow marijuana deliveries in Colorado is heading to the governor’s desk following a final vote in the Senate on Wednesday. And separate legislation providing for cannabis “tasting rooms” could be soon to follow.
If signed into law, the two bills would represent some of the most significant expansions of the state’s legal cannabis program since voters approved legalization in 2012. The Senate votes on the House-passed legislation came just days before the end of the 2019 legislative session.
Colorado Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Bill to Attract Outside Investors
Colorado legislators passed a bill to open the state’s $1.5 billion-a-year cannabis industry to outside investors and capital such as publicly held companies and large venture funds.
The measure, which comes a year after former Gov. John Hickenlooper rejected similar legislation, was approved by the Senate after previously being passed by the House, and now goes to Gov. Jared Polis for his signature. Polis has expressed support for the bill.
Trump Administration Opposes Bills on Medical Marijuana for Military Veterans
Officials at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have come out against a series of bills that are designed to protect VA benefits for veterans who use marijuana, allow the department’s doctors to recommend medical cannabis and expand research into the plant’s therapeutic potential.
Lawmakers and advocates representing veterans discussed the proposals during a congressional hearing on Tuesday. And while the Trump administration representatives present said the department opposes the bills, support was widespread among witnesses and subcommittee members, at least for some of the legislation.
Washington State Hemp Bill Signed Into Law
An industrial hemp bill championed by Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on Friday.
Senate Bill 5276 authorizes and establishes a new licensing and regulatory program for hemp production in Washington that will operate in line with the Federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). Hemp is defined as the plant “Cannabis sativa L.” and any part of it with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3% dry weight.
The bill received the final nod from the Legislature last Wednesday before heading to Governor Inslee’s desk, who wasted little time in putting his stamp on it – and making Senator Ericksen a very happy man.
Missouri to License 60 Medical Marijuana Growers, 190-Plus Dispensaries
Missouri medical marijuana regulators announced they plan to issue 60 cultivation, 86 processing and 192 dispensary licenses in the state’s initial MMJ permitting round.
Businesses can obtain applications online June 4. The state will accept them Aug. 3-17, with final scoring scheduled by the end of 2019. For more details – and links to various MMJ program draft rules – click here.
Connecticut Lawmakers Discuss Using Marijuana Tax Revenue for Community Reinvestment
A key Connecticut legislative committee heard testimony on Monday about a bill that would dictate how tax revenue from marijuana sales would be allocated if the state legalizes cannabis for adult use.
SB 1138 wouldn’t legalize marijuana itself; rather, it’s part of a three-bill cannabis reform package that’s working through the legislature, with the goal of later combining the legislation into a single proposal for floor action. For now, each piece of legislation is being considered in committees that have jurisdiction over the areas touched on by the individual bills.
In Historic Vote, Texas House OKs Bill to Soften Penalties for Marijuana Possession
The Texas House tentatively approved a bill on Monday that would reduce criminal penalties for low-level marijuana possession, but its future in the Senate is uncertain.
House Bill 63, by state Representative Joe Moody, D-El Paso, would reduce possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to six months of jail, to a Class C misdemeanor, which does not carry jail time. The bill, which tentatively passed on a vote of 98-43, would prohibit law enforcement officers from arresting people who allegedly are in possession of an ounce or less of pot if that’s their only offense and require courts to expunge offenders’ records if they meet all probation requirements.
Chart: New Jersey Medical Cannabis Patients to Triple by 2022, Requiring at Least 15 More Growers
New Jersey’s medical marijuana market will need at least 15 additional cannabis cultivators in the next three years – even under a conservative growth scenario, according to information provided by the state’s MMJ regulatory agency.
The New Jersey Department of Health’s Division of Medicinal Marijuana (DMM) submitted its biennial report to the state Legislature in early April, assessing supply and demand for medical marijuana.
In addition to the need for additional growers, DMM found average retail prices to be prohibitive to patients whose treatment plan requires greater volumes of marijuana.
Marijuana Legalization Debated at Pennsylvania Joint Policy Hearing
Pennsylvania lawmakers discussed the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana during a joint Senate and House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on Monday.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), a reform advocate who is leading a statewide listening tour to get feedback on the idea of cannabis legalization, appeared as a chief witness. He reflected on conversations he’s had with residents, noting widespread support in a diversity of communities and also describing certain reservations that have been voiced at the events.
Germany Authorizes Medical Cannabis Shipments From Latin America for Testing, Paving Way for Future Opportunities
The first cannabis shipments from Latin America to Europe have been approved, a move that could lay the groundwork for future business opportunities between the two regions.
Cansativa GmbH, a German importer of medical cannabis that currently sources product only from the Netherlands, received a one-time authorization to import samples from Latin America exclusively for testing purposes.
While the products will not supply pharmacies or patients, the imports will help the company develop relationships with potential suppliers, Jakob Sons, co-founder and CEO of Cansativa, told Marijuana Business Daily.