This week had some close calls and a lot of controversies. Rohrabacher-Blumenauer gets a 3-month reprieve. Hawaii goes cashless. Cannabis market on the rise while prices falling. More adults but fewer teens using marijuana. And a whole lot more regional and international news. Here we go…
Cannabiz News Top 5
1) Rohrabacher-Blumenauer gets 3-month reprieve
Existing federal protections for medical marijuana states will continue through at least December 8 after a $15.3 billion disaster aid package, debt limit increase, and government spending extension were approved by Congress on Friday. The package includes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer provision, which prevents the Justice Department from using funds to interfere with the 30 states which have legalized medical marijuana and 16 states that have authorized CBD oil access.
“We have at least three months of certainty now, but the fight isn’t over,” officials for Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, told The Cannabist. That fight includes efforts to land the provision in the final spending bill, officials said, noting the language was included in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s approved version of the bill.
2) Hawaii dispensaries say “put away your paper”
Medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii won’t be allowed to accept cash come October. Instead, buyers will be required to use a debit payment app instead. The action was taken by the island state to reduce crimes associated with cash-handling dispensaries.
The debit app, called CanPay, uses a Colorado-based credit union to facilitate transactions. The app is already an option for marijuana transactions in six states so far. Patients who don’t own smartphones will have to create CanPay accounts with an email address and personal identification number. Patients will be able to buy cannabis by logging on to their accounts with computer tablets at the dispensaries.
Leafly has more details.
3) Hatch introduces MMJ research bill
Longtime cannabis opponent Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has introduced a new bill, along with Brian Schatz (D-HI), to expedite MMJ research. The bill, dubbed the Medical Marijuana Research Bill or MEDS Act, mandates the DOJ expand access to research cannabis, and cut other federal red-tape.
Hatch said, “Regulations sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.” Hatch added, “I urge my colleagues to join Senator Schatz and me in our joint effort to help thousands of Americans suffering from a wide-range of diseases and disorders.” Co-sponsors include Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE).
As an 84-year old, 40-year Senate veteran, Hatch seems unlikely to run again in 2018, and observers say his co-sponsorship might reflect this sudden change in his willingness to bring the bill.
The bill is designed to encourage more research on the potential medical uses of marijuana by streamlining the research registration process, and to make marijuana more available for legitimate scientific and medical research and the commercial production of any FDA-approved drugs derived from marijuana.
If passed, the law will also require the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop and publish recommendations for good manufacturing practices for growing and producing marijuana for research, and require the Attorney General to increase the national marijuana quota in a timely manner to meet the changing medical, scientific, and industrial needs for marijuana.
Here’s the statement from Hatch’s website.
4) Cannabis market on the rise, pot prices falling
A recent report by Ameri Research Inc. indicates that the global legal cannabis market was valued at $14.3 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 21.1% from 2017 to 2024. During the forecast period, the demand for cannabis is projected to rise for both recreational and medical use with estimated global sales value to reach $63.5 billion by 2024. Legal U.S. sales grew by approximately 35% in 2016 to $6.5 billion, with $1.8 billion in reported recreational-weed sales and an estimated $4.7 billion derived from medical-marijuana sales.
Another report issued by GreenWave Advisors on the state of the emerging cannabis industry projects $30.3 billion in legal U.S. sales by 2021 with a compound annual growth rate of 36.1% over the next five years.
By 2021, GreenWave expects there to be approximately 26.3 million medical cannabis patients spending an average of $3,200 a year. Conversely, around 30 million adults in the recreational market are expected to spend $1,500 annually by 2021.
Investment firm Cowen & Co. is projecting $50 billion in legal sales in the U.S. by 2026.
Meanwhile, marijuana prices are falling
Steven Davenport of the Pardee Rand Graduate School claims that retail prices in Washington state have fallen every single quarter since legal recreational markets opened in July 2014. As of mid-2016 prices had already fallen 58.5 percent. The current retail price of $7.38 per gram (including tax) represents a 67 percent decrease in just three years of legalization.
Here are a few sources on these stories:
5) Adult cannabis use on the rise, teen use dropping
A new federal study says marijuana use has increased by adults, with an estimated 46 million Americans used marijuana at least once in 2016. For heavy users, the increase in much higher. In 2016, nearly 19 percent of people who used marijuana that year used it at least 300 days out of the year. These numbers are up substantially from 2002 when 12 percent of cannabis users reported consumption on a near-daily basis.
Meanwhile, it turns out that legalizing cannabis for both medical and adult use does not increase teen consumption rates, contrary to fears raised by leading legalization critics.
According to a new report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), cannabis consumption by teens fell in 2016. Past-month youth cannabis-use rates among minors aged 12 to 17 have steadily decreased since 2002. The 2016 rate of 6.5% is now the lowest in more than 20 years, according to the report.
The SAMHSA survey is just the latest report to show cannabis consumption falling among teens since states began implementing adult-use cannabis laws. In February, data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that the rate of cannabis consumption among adolescents “has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users.”
Another study released last week by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, a government think tank, found that teen cannabis consumption has decreased or remained steady in the state since legalization.
US NATIONAL NEWS
Synthetic cannabinoid users more likely to use other illegal drugs
High school students who used synthetic cannabinoids (SC) are more likely to report more recent and more frequent use of other illegal drugs, compared to marijuana-only users. SC users, compared to marijuana-only users, were more likely to report lower parental education and use of a larger number of illegal drugs. High-frequency SC users were more likely to be male and were more likely to use multiple illegal drugs compared to lower frequency users. Close to 3% of surveyed students reported SC use, with 8 out of 10 students reporting concurrent marijuana use and almost all reporting lifetime marijuana use. Among users of SC, those with the most frequent use were more likely to be boys. They were also more likely to report the highest frequency use of marijuana. Finally, the proportion of users reporting using 2 to 4 additional drugs was positively associated with increased SC use. These results support early intervention from policymakers and clinicians to limit exposure and use of SCs.
More info is available at 2minutemedicine.com.
Senators want feds to start testing weed
A powerful Senate panel is urging federal agencies to launch an effort to test products sold at dispensaries in states where cannabis has been legalized. Concerned about a lack of data on the potency and purity of cannabis available to consumers, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee is directing federal agencies to formulate a “National Testing Program for Schedule I Marijuana-Derived Products.” The senators are instructing scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to work with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to study marijuana samples in an effort to “provide robust reliable data that can inform policy.”
Buds R Us gets heat from Toys R Us
Buds R Us dispensary in Detroit recently received a cease and desist letter from Toys “R” Us claiming that the name and logo violate their trademarks. The toy superstore chain is threatening to sue for intellectual property infringement. Buds R Us dispensary logo features a character similar to Geoffrey the Giraffe, smoking a joint. This is not the first time a corporation has gone after a cannabis company for similar branding infringement. There was the recent Gorilla Glue mess, Hashees that looked too much like Reese’s, Weetos and Froot Poofs (Wake and Bake) and, of course, Girl Scout Cookies.
Check it out at HighTimes.com.
BudTrader tracks price per pound in real time
BudTrader.com, the world’s largest online medical marijuana marketplace, has launched the first Real Time Price Per Pound Cannabis Commodity Index. The index is the first of its kind to update cannabis prices in real time. The site’s million-plus users will now be able to see the median price of a pound by state and nationwide. The Real Time Price Per Pound Cannabis Commodity Index is the first of its kind to update cannabis prices in real time allowing marijuana business owners, investors, growers and fund managers to monitor and forecast market trends based on real-time prices.
Learn all about it from Civilized.
US REGIONAL NEWS
CA says no dope by drone
When retail outlets in California start selling recreational marijuana at the start of 2018, they won’t be able to deliver the drug by drone. In regulations issued last week by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, sellers will only be able to deliver pot “in person by enclosed motor vehicle.” The rules say marijuana deliveries must be made to physical addresses and are banned from public lands or “buildings leased by public agencies.” The ruling will affect weed delivery startups such as Eaze, which earlier this year demonstrated how drones could be used to get marijuana into customers’ hands.
San Diego approves new local regs
A package of regulations for marijuana-related businesses in San Diego was approved by the City Council Monday evening. The rules do not involve retail dispensaries, but the ‘supply chain’ establishments that handle cultivation, manufacturing, and testing. Separate regulations for the 11 legal dispensaries in San Diego are already in effect. The council declined to enact a tougher option that would have prohibited anything beyond the testing of marijuana and related products in laboratories in industrial zones and commercial zones that prohibit residential uses. The approved regulations allow testing plus cultivation, distribution, and production of marijuana and related products if the business operator obtains a conditional use permit. The activities would be allowed in light and heavy industrial zones. According to the City Attorney’s Office, marijuana businesses will need to comply with the new regulations within one year or cease operations.
Meanwhile, San Diego law enforcement has begun to investigate and plan for reaction to a vast network of unlicensed MJ delivery services. Using data from Weedmaps and Leafly, cops noted that only 4 of the 289 WeedMaps contacts for delivery were found to be licensed, and at Leafly, only 8 of the services 123 delivery contacts were licensed.
More info is available on the KPBS website.
Moratorium on San Fran dispensaries
A 45-day moratorium on new medical cannabis dispensaries has been approved by the Board of Supervisors. The moratorium is designed to create a level playing field in San Francisco by avoiding clusters of dispensaries in certain neighborhoods, as well as to encourage more ethnic diversity among medical cannabis dispensaries operating in San Francisco. An amendment to the moratorium specifically grandfathered out those dispensaries who already have approval hearings scheduled, but the seven other proposed San Francisco dispensaries without hearings scheduled will simply be forced to wait out the 45-day moratorium. The temporary ban will go into effect September 22 at the earliest. On that timeline, the moratorium would continue through November 7.
Visit SFweekly.com for more.
California Department of Public Health launches “Let’s Talk Cannabis” web page
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has launched a health information and education campaign about what’s legal in California and potential health impacts of cannabis use. The campaigns will focus on the scientific basis for restricting access to cannabis and cannabis products for persons under the age of 21 years, the penalties for providing access to cannabis and cannabis products to persons under the age of 21 years, the potential harms of using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding, and the potential harms of overusing cannabis or cannabis products.
Colorado passes $880 million in sales
Colorado’s seven-month sales of cannabis passed $880 million, setting 2017 sales up to surpass $1.42 billion. That’s up from full-year 2016 sales of $1.31 billion. In July, the Denver Post reports Colorado RMJ sales surpassed $101 million for the first time and, combined with MMJ sales of $35.8 million, brought in a record $137 million. Starting July 1st, an effective tax increase of 2.1 percent on adult-use cannabis (but not accessory items) went into effect, therefore changing year-to-year tax comparison reports.
AG tells agency to halt part of Iowa’s medical marijuana law
An attempt by Iowa to work with another state to transport medical marijuana oil across state lines is on hold amid legal concerns it could invite scrutiny from the federal government. The Iowa Attorney General’s office advised the Iowa Department of Public Health this month that it should not implement a small section of Iowa’s new medical marijuana law that requires the state, before the end of the year, to license up to two “out-of-state” dispensaries from a bordering state. Those entities would have been expected to bring cannabis oil into Iowa in order to sell it, which is considered illegal under federal law. The development is not expected to impact other provisions in the law that call for establishing an in-state production system for cannabis oil by the end of 2018. Some lawmakers expressed frustration with the news because the provision was also aimed at creating more immediate access to cannabis oil. Currently, residents of Iowa have no way of getting the product within the state.
Read more at Iowa’s Ledger-Inquirer.
Jefferson plans to prohibit social clubs
The town of Jefferson, Maine plans to vote to prohibit marijuana retail stores and pot social clubs. The town of is set to hold a public hearing September 25 to discuss the ordinance. The vote is set for the November 7 election. Maine voters last year approved legalizing the possession, sale, and use of recreational marijuana by persons over 21 years of age. Under Maine law, municipalities can prohibit retail marijuana establishments outright and they can also require separate local licensing.
US News has the story.
Maine mulling 20% sales tax on RMJ
Maine Legislature’s marijuana legalization committee wants to double recreational marijuana sales tax to 20 percent. The committee is suggesting adding a 10 percent excise tax on business owners who sell marijuana on top of the 10 percent sales tax. Committee co-chair Democratic Rep. Teresa Pierce said the tweak was due to the committee’s lack of taxing expertise. She said an excise tax could allow more predictability. Maine President Paul McCarrier said tax hikes will empower the black market. Medical marijuana would be taxed at a lower rate than recreational marijuana – 5.5 percent compared with 20 percent.
Read more on Leafly.com.
Draft bill would allow Maine dispensaries, caregivers to sell RMJ
Medical marijuana dispensaries and caregivers could join Maine’s new adult-use market under a proposed rewrite of the state legalization act. A draft bill released Monday would let Maine’s eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries apply for a license to sell recreational cannabis, but they would require separate medical and adult-use entrances to a dual-licensed dispensary. State-certified caregivers also could apply for a recreational retail-sales license. Some caregivers have concerns about how the proposed bill would affect them, and fear the bill gives dispensaries an advantage
More info available at Maine Press Herald.
AmeriCann to invest $10 million into massive Massachusetts facility
AmeriCann has secured $10 million in equity to build a massive cannabis cultivation and processing facility in southeastern Massachusetts. The 1 million-square-foot facility in Freetown, MA could be one of the largest commercial marijuana facilities in the United States. Massachusetts Medical Cannabis Center is near Fall River. The publicly traded AmeriCann promises a “sophisticated, technologically advanced facility” that “will become a center of excellence for quality, consistency, and efficiency.” The first phase will consist of a 130,000 square-foot greenhouse, laboratory, and research center. AmeriCann does not grow or distribute marijuana itself. Coastal Compassion, Inc., will lease that facility. The 52-acre site was purchased in 2016 from the Boston Beer Company, makers of Sam Adams, for nearly $4.5 million.
MassLive.com has the story.
Massachusetts regulators meet publicly for 1st time
With no staff or permanent office space and only a limited budget, the newly appointed board that will regulate marijuana in Massachusetts met publicly for the first time this past Tuesday, more than 10 months after voters voted to legalize recreational cannabis. Among the first votes taken by the five-member Cannabis Control Commission was to allow its chairman, Steven Hoffman, to also serve as interim executive director of the agency until a permanent director is hired. The first meeting of the commission was largely procedural and lasted barely a half hour. The word “marijuana” was never spoken, but Hoffman and the other commissioners reiterated their commitment to carrying out the will of the electorate and doing so in an “open and transparent” manner. Four of the five commissioners on the panel voted against Question 4 in November.
Leafly is covering this story.
‘Be brave for cannabis,’ says MMJ social media campaign
A group of pro-cannabis businesses is urging medical marijuana patients in Michigan to share their experiences through a social media campaign. The campaign was created by three Michigan-based, women-owned businesses, and is seeking responses on September 12 at the next meeting of the state’s Medical Marijuana Licensing Board. The effort aims to reduce the stigma surrounding cannabis use, by encouraging people to share their positive experiences with the plant. On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, responses will use the hashtags #bebraveforcannabis #bebrave and #bettertogether. Canna Media Works, Canna Communication, and Greengate Health are partners in the campaign.
More at Mlive.com.
Lansing council sets cap on dispensaries
Lansing City Council has approved a medical marijuana ordinance for commercial establishments. The ordinance will cap dispensaries at 25. A cap won’t be set for other establishments, including marijuana growing, processing and transporting facilities, and testing labs. Estimates put the current number of dispensaries and other establishments in the city between 50 and 80. In addition to the cap of 25 dispensaries, Lansing’s ordinance also requires local licenses for marijuana growing, transporting, processing and testing facilities. Dispensaries will, under the ordinance, have to abide by these zoning regulations: 1,000 feet from an operational school, including pre-kindergarten located within a school; 500 feet from another dispensary or provisioning center, public playground equipment located within a park, a commercial child care organization, a church, and facilities at which substance abuse prevention services or substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services are provided.
Check it out at Lansing State Journal’s website.
Michigan dispensaries must close by December 15
The state of Michigan on Tuesday gave medical marijuana businesses until December 15 to close or potentially risk not obtaining a license under a new regulatory system. The rules are aimed at increasing oversight and imposing new taxes on the industry. The decision means registered patients will have to grow their own pot or obtain it from caregivers — as allowed for under existing law — until the state issues the licenses, likely in the first quarter of next year. It will accept license applications starting December 15.
WXYZ.com has this story covered.
Nebraska attorney general nixes CBD
The debate over whether or not CBD is lawful continues to rage on. Nebraska is now telling retailers of CBD that sales of the cannabis derivative are not lawful. Two weeks ago in Omaha, a number of retail outlets began selling cannabis extracts containing CBD. The Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson released a memo which states, “To date, no drug products containing cannabidiol have received FDA approval. Therefore cannabidiol or any product containing cannabidiol, obtained by any means other than the authorized UNMC study, remains illegal to possess, manufacture, distribute.” CBD manufacturers and retailers contend that as long as no medical claims are being made, then hemp extracts containing CBD are merely a food product, not a drug or dietary supplement.
Read more at OCCnewspaper.com.
Henderson gets with the program
Henderson inched closer to the sale of legalized recreational marijuana Tuesday night after city officials approved ordinances days before a 7-month moratorium expires. The Henderson City Council voted 3-2 to adopt an ordinance to establish retail marijuana regulations and licenses. Councilmen John Marz and Dan Stewart voted against the ordinance. In February, the City Council adopted a six-month moratorium on issuing recreational marijuana licenses. The moratorium was extended 30 days last month and will expire Thursday. It will cost approximately $71,000 for current medical marijuana operators to get recreational marijuana licenses, according to city business operations manager Michael Cathcart. Zoning regulations were also adopted, which require cultivation facilities, dispensaries, infusion manufacturing, and independent testing labs to be at least 300 feet from community facilities and 1,000 feet from schools, public parks and playgrounds. Dispensaries must be at least one-mile apart. Retail sales in Henderson could begin in October and no later than December.
Get all the details from Las Vegas Sun.
Las Vegas says weed in Vegas stays in Vegas
Recreational marijuana may be legal in Nevada, but Clark County commissioners have banned marijuana possession and advertising at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Travelers leaving town with less than an ounce could face a misdemeanor charge or civil fines and have their marijuana confiscated. The decision keeps airport rules consistent with Federal Aviation Administration rules that consider marijuana an illegal substance, officials said.
StarTribute.com has details.
Nevada says maybe to marijuana lounges
In Nevada, a legal opinion from the Legislative Counsel Bureau has once again put social consumption clubs into the mix. While a bill for social was tabled, sponsor Sen. Tick Sigerblom said he wants to work with local county and city regulators in crafting rules for the adult lounges. Many RMJ dispensaries have indicated their desire to have social consumption nearby, but no casinos will be allowed to consider areas for social use. Sigerblom’s bill contained several buffers for space restrictions from schools, churches, public parks, and child-care centers. MJ incubator/funder Canopy Boulder will expand its Demo Days this fall to San Francisco and Las Vegas. Representing high-growth ancillary verticals such as artificial intelligence, dispensary and retail data and supply chain management, the fall cohort previews their cannabis-ancillary products and services at each Demo Day. The regionally based groups will meet in San Francisco (Oct. 12), Boulder (Oct. 18), Denver (Oct. 19), and Las Vegas (Nov. 13).
Read more at TheHill.com.
BrightStar Biomedics vs. Vireo Health in PA
A Scranton-based company is seeking an injunction demanding that the state rescind a permit to grow and process cannabis awarded to a rival, Pennsylvania Medical Solutions, a subsidiary of Vireo Health. Employees at the Minnesota-based company allegedly smuggled $500,000 in hash oil across state lines. BrightStar Biomedics contends that the state should have barred Pennsylvania Medical Solutions from participating in the Pennsylvania program because the parent company was the subject of “ongoing criminal investigations, license revocations, and administrative penalties.” BrightStar’s complaint makes it clear that it would be ready to grow marijuana in Scranton if Pennsylvania Medical Solutions is disqualified. Pennsylvania Medical Solutions’ application outscored BrightStar’s by a mere 3.42 points out of 1,000. Pennsylvania Medical Solutions received higher scores on meeting an operational timetable, security and surveillance, inventory management, and employee qualifications. The companies’ scores on diversion prevention were roughly equivalent. If allowed to proceed, Pennsylvania Medical Solutions will start growing cannabis in December in a Scranton industrial park.
Philly.com has a report.
Legal challenges threaten PA MMJ program
Mounting legal challenges are threatening to bog down the rollout of the Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. According to a lawsuit filed in the Commonwealth Court Friday by Keystone ReLeaf of Bethlehem, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s lack of transparency and fundamentally flawed medical marijuana permitting process has led to significant delays in treatment for patients. At least 140 unsuccessful medical marijuana permit applicants — or one of every three — have filed administrative appeals with the Pennsylvania Department of Health challenging the denials. And a lawsuit filed in Commonwealth Court on Friday by Keystone ReLeaf of Bethlehem seeks to halt the medical marijuana program, including the revocation of all grower/processor and dispensary permits issued in June. All permit recipients would be blocked from moving forward with their businesses. Advocates fear more lawsuits seeking to halt the entire program will follow, which, regardless of court decisions, could delay patients access to the medicine.
Read all about it at mcall.com.
Texas issues first license to Consortium
On September 1, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued its first-ever license to grow medical marijuana to Consortium Texas. Under Texas law, the company will only be allowed to make certain products. In May, the state awarded licenses to Consortium and two others – Surterra Texas and Compassionate Cultivation – which are still waiting to get their final licenses. There were 43 companies that applied for licenses. Under the language of the law, doctors in the program would “prescribe” medical marijuana. This could be a problem since this would require doctors to officially prescribe a substance that is illegal at the federal level. This distinction could get doctors in trouble. As a result, there are very few doctors in the program.
Green Rush Daily has more details.
Ontario government to run MJ shops
Canada’s most populous province plans to sell marijuana in as many as 150 government-run stores after the federal government legalizes recreational pot by July. The government says marijuana will only be sold at pot-specific stores or a government-run website. The province decided not to sell marijuana through government-run alcohol stores. The private marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up around the province will be illegal. Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said sale of marijuana will be restricted to those 19 and older.
Read more on Detroit Daily’s website.
Canada to spend a quarter million on cannabis-related law enforcement
In preparing for national cannabis legalization, Canada’s public safety officials announced their intention to commit over a quarter-billion dollars to deter drug-impaired driving and product diversion. Of that $274 million, $161 million would be used for training officers in identifying signs of impairment, increasing access to drug-screening devices, raising public awareness, and hiring additional enforcement officials. The remaining $113 million would be doled out over a five-year period to Public Safety Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency to “develop policy, ensure organized crime does not infiltrate the legalized system, and keep cannabis from crossing our borders,” officials said.
Legal weed is coming, but is Canada ready?
On The Money’s Peter Armstrong and strategy advisor Mark Satov take viewer questions.
Dr. Lloyd Covens of 420West Newsweekly also contributed to this report.