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The big news this week involves yet another stab at federal cannabis reform. This time, the HOPE Act comes from U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio).

The bill would “incentivize state and local governments to expunge the criminal records of tens of millions of Americans who have previously been convicted of marijuana offenses,” according to the team at NORML.

Passage of the bill would also allocate $20 million to the U.S. Attorney General to do just that.

“This bipartisan effort represents the growing consensus to reform marijuana policies in a manner that addresses the harms inflicted by prohibition,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in a public statement. “It provides cash assistance for state and localities that are wisely choosing to remove these stigmatizing records. There is no justification for continuing to prevent tens of millions of Americans from fully participating in their community and workforce simply because they bear the burden of a past marijuana conviction.”

We’ve rounded up some of the key cannabis headlines from the week right here.

Aurora Cannabis named its new genetic licensing business, Occo, which is backed by the company's breeding and genetics facility in Comox, British Columbia, Canada. Read more California is working to develop statewide standardized cannabis testing to minimize inconsistencies in data from one lab to the next. Read more Democratic Rep. Nima Kulkarni has pre-filed two cannabis bills ahead of Kentucky's 2022 legislative session to decriminalize and legalize adult-use cannabis in the state. Read more NORML has a nice 2021 overview of state legislation, and, yes, it’s been quite a busy year. Read more A budtender who was fired earlier this month for “lack of trust” and “poor work ethic,” as he helped organize a unionization effort, returned to work last week at the Burnside Buds dispensary in Victoria, British Columbia. Read more 

And elsewhere on the web, here are the stories we’ve been reading this week:

"The New Mexico Finance Authority (NMFA) Oversight Committee has approved a loan program to help licensed cannabis microbusinesses succeed—specifically those living in rural communities or disproportionately affected by previous cannabis law enforcement.

"Through the Cannabis Microbusiness Loan Program, NMFA looks forward to providing access to capital to help even more New Mexicans benefit from the economic opportunities created by the legalization of adult-use cannabis,” NMFA CEO Marquita Russel said. “This program will give New Mexico small businesses, particularly in rural and economically disadvantaged communities, a tool to make this industry more accessible and help get their businesses off the ground.” 

According to a New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department (NMRLD) press release, the $5-million “Cannabis Microbusiness Loan Program” will provide business loans of up to $250,000 for small-scale businesses, with the average loan being $100,000. 

"There is a minimum 5 percent equity requirement, and the loans will be fully collateralized. Loan terms will go up to 5 years, and interest rates will vary from 2 to 3 percent,” the release states.

"The Cannabis Control Division, throughout our ongoing open and transparent rulemaking process, has listened to and really heard concerns that it’s hard for microbusinesses to access the capital needed to start a successful business,” said Linda Trujillo, superintendent of the Regulation and Licensing Department, which houses the Cannabis Control Division. “This administration is committed to creating a thriving cannabis industry that incorporates New Mexico’s values of social equity and fairness. We are grateful to be able to work with the New Mexico Finance Authority to put forward this loan program to make good on our commitment to social equity in this exciting new industry.”

With adult-use cannabis sales beginning in the state no later than April 1, 2022, applications for the loan program will open Feb. 1, 2022, and will be reviewed monthly. The first loans are expected to be awarded by March.

Minnesota medical cannabis patients will soon be able to access infused edibles in the form of gummies or chews. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced that the new product offerings will become effective Aug. 1, 2022. 

"Expanding delivery methods to gummies and chews will mean more options for patients who cannot tolerate current available forms of medical cannabis," said Jan Malcolm, Minnesota commissioner of health, in a press release.

Beginning March 2022, medical cannabis patients will also have access to flower; a "rulemaking for dried raw cannabis is also currently in process," the release states.

Additionally, that state did not add any new qualifying conditions to its medical cannabis program this year.

 

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Congress.gov 
Ocasio-Cortez

Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Dave Joyce (R-OH) introduced legislation to expunge the criminal records of tens of millions of Americans who have previously been convicted of cannabis offenses.

The Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act will appropriate $20 million to the US Attorney General to financially assist state and local governments with reviewing and expunging cannabis convictions.

More than 350,000 Americans were arrested by state and local law enforcement for cannabis-related offenses in 2020, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. Of those arrests, 91% were charged with simple possession. State and local police have arrested an estimated 7.3 million Americans since 2010 for violating cannabis laws.

Congress.gov 
Joyce

Over the past two years, more than a dozen state legislatures have enacted laws facilitating the expungement of low-level cannabis convictions, leading to the vacation of an estimated 2.2 million cannabis-related convictions during that period.

"As we continue to advocate for the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, this bipartisan bill will provide localities the resources they need to expunge drug charges that continue to hold back Americans, disproportionately people of color, from employment, housing, and other opportunities," says Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).


PORTLAND, Oregon, December 3, 2021 - PRESS RELEASE - The ARTISAN X-D200 represents an improvement in distillation equipment compared to traditional wiped film short path evaporators. Explicitly designed for cannabinoid processing, the ARTISAN X-D200 can produce market-ready products with a single pass, saving on labor, electricity and hardware costs.
Armed robbers traveling the city in “hundreds” of roving caravans and shooting off more than 175 rounds had the Oakland Police Department in retreat during the week of Nov. 15, according to OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong.

While the mass robberies took place over several days in California’s Bay Area, Armstrong said in a recent press conference that gunfire forced his officers to draw back to safe locations the night of Nov. 19.

Whom were the armed robbers targeting?

“Our department encountered roving caravans of hundreds of vehicles targeting cannabis operations locations—several throughout the city of Oakland,” Armstrong said. “As officers were approaching these vehicles to take action, we encountered over 175 rounds being fired, which made us stand at a safe distance. But we recognized in that moment that serious gunfire was being used during the midst of these attempted burglaries and robberies.”

A 22-year veteran of OPD and its chief since February, Armstrong said what is going on in Oakland is not much different than what surrounding cities also experienced in the Northern California region.

While the string of high-profile robberies throughout the Bay Area also included other retail shops and pharmacies, the losses and damages encountered by dispensaries continue to highlight the public safety risks associated with the cash-only cannabis industry. A lack of banking access, without passage of reform efforts like the SAFE Banking Act, is one reason that cannabis businesses may remain ongoing targets for violent crime.

Highsman, the Ricky Williams-inspired cannabis brand, recently launched its line of lifestyle flower products, including Pregame (sativa), Halftime (hybrid), and Postgame (indica). The Highsman brand is a bifurcated business model, featuring merchandise alongside its flower products, and is currently available in California and Oregon, with plans to launch in Las Vegas this December. Eric Hammond, CEO at Highsman, spoke with Cannabis Business Times about the Highsman launch, the brand’s positioning in the market, and his visions for Highsman and cannabis industry as a whole going forward.
© Highsman
Hammond
 

Zach Mentz: What inspired the launch of the Highsman brand, and why is now the time to launch it?

Eric Hammond: What better time to do this? This is the time when all major sporting institutions are changing their stance on [cannabis] testing and punishments regarding cannabis consumption. So, the stars are aligning for us to launch this brand that's positioned at the intersection of sports and cannabis. And I always say this, it's not this crazy, novel idea. People have been using cannabis while playing sports and watching sports forever. Ricky's a testament to this. So, we're launching this at the tipping point in the business where everybody's re-evaluating their stance on [cannabis]. Some people are removing punishments altogether, they're removing testing protocols, changing testing protocols, [etc]. So, while it's becoming more okay, the time was now for us to strike. Ricky is such an authentic figure and such a passionate advocate that we think we're going to be able to cut through the clutter of the standard celebrity brand as we enter the space as being this culturally relevant brand as well.

ZM: How do you cut through the clutter of being just another celebrity or athlete brand? How do you try and differentiate yourself in the market?

EH: Focus, focus, focus, focus. A lot of brands come out and whether they're a celebrity brand or not, especially in cannabis, I don't think they have a clear picture of who their customer is. They might have one piece of the equation, [such as] what price point–are they going to be premium? Are they going to be entry price point? They might want to be medicinal, but nobody really knows exactly who their customer is. Berner and Cookies have done an incredible job of identifying the core customer base, how to motivate and speak to them, and taking advantage of that. We think we know exactly who our customer is. We think we know exactly how to speak to them and we're going to go about it in a really strategic, controlled manner. And I think what makes us different is knowing who we are and who we're speaking to and how to speak to them.

ZM: Who is your audience?

In the U.S., GW Pharmacuticals' Epidiolex is the only CBD product to receive Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for any use. This summer, the agency rejected Charlotte's Web's application to approve CBD as a dietary ingredient.

Currently, Epidiolex is prescribed as a treatment for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex. However, other companies seek government sign-offs to approve CBD and other cannabis-based treatments for epileptic conditions in children and adults. While companies haven’t had the same level of success with U.S. regulatory approval as GW Pharma, global companies have reported promising results regarding scientific research, other governmental approvals and physician prescriptions in other countries. (GW Pharma’s parent company, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, did not respond to Hemp Grower’s request for comment for this story.)

One company diving into cannabis-based epilepsy treatments is Toronto-based Avicanna. In September, the company announced it had filed a U.S. patent application for epilepsy treatment methods using cannabinoid formulations titled, “Methods for Reducing or Eliminating Incidence of Seizures and Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.”

Last month, Hemp Grower spoke with Dr. Karolina Urban, Ph.D., Avicanna’s vice president of scientific and medical affairs, about the company’s ongoing work addressing cannabis-based treatments for epilepsy.

While Urban could not share which cannabinoids were used in the treatment methods for which the company has filed the patent, she said, “it is a specific ratio of various cannabinoids and terpenes.”

Avicanna grows cannabis in the foothills of Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, sells cannabis products in Canada’s medical and adult-use markets, and licenses hemp-based CBD topical formulations to companies re+PLAY and Red White & Bloom to sell in the U.S.

The Solar Cannabis Company, a vertically-integrated cannabis operator based in Massachusetts, adheres not only to strict state regulations on energy use, but also aims to meet its own, more aggressive efficiency goals, which CEO Edward Dow says his company has achieved using light-emitting diode (LED) technology at its flagship facility in Somerset.

“Choosing the LEDs and, in my case, Fluence, was critical to the overall design of my whole facility,” Dow says. “All the other equipment was HVAC-related equipment that was able to be sized smaller and more efficiently. There was really a trickle-down effect throughout the whole facility that was a direct result of choosing LEDs as my light source.”

Massachusetts law requires cannabis cultivators to use no more than 36 kilowatts per square foot of canopy space, which Dow says would be difficult to achieve with high pressure sodium (HPS) lighting, unless cultivators compensated with solar power, for example, to offset their energy use.

Choosing LED lighting during the buildout of its facility was the first step for Solar Cannabis Company to comply with Massachusetts’ strict energy regulations, Dow says. The company now grows three vertical tiers of plants in four operational grow rooms with roughly 200 lights per room.

“It’s almost half the power you’d use for HPS with a much more focused light,” he says, adding that a traditional HPS light uses roughly 1,000 watts whereas an LED fixture uses about 625 watts. While that isn’t quite half of the energy load, Dow says that when Solar Cannabis Company factored in the lower cooling requirements needed for the facility, the team was able to cut its power needs roughly in half with proper design.

“[Using LEDs] was step one, and then that helps to reduce your overall heat load, your electrical profile [and] all your HVAC equipment,” he says. “For us, it started with choosing LEDs and then trickled [down] through the rest of the facility design.”

Whether cannabis cultivators choose to convert their systems from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting to light-emitting diode (LED) technology, to another lighting type, or choose to build out a new facility with LEDs, the growing environment must be adjusted to accommodate the light source.

Temperature, humidity and plant nutrition are among the environmental parameters that must be evaluated and potentially accommodated. Many lighting manufacturers, such as Fluence by OSRAM, work with growers to help them manage their grow rooms to adjust for LEDs.

Retrofitting with LEDs

Abhay Thosar, Fluence’s director of horticultural services, says he often sees growers who grapple with temperature and humidity changes when converting from HPS to LED lighting. HPS fixtures give off more heat than LEDs, he says, and cultivators who switch to LEDs could see a drop of up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature, which in turn affects humidity.

“The humidity needs to be adjusted because, remember, when using the HPS, it has so much of the radiant heat,” Thosar says. “Most of the time, you don’t have a high humidity in the room, and the reason for that is the heat from the HPS . . . was usually drying out that humidity, and you might have 50% or 55% humidity, and that was easy. But, now, switching over to LEDs, it’s a spectrum that optimizes the photosynthetic activity . . . and the plant is going to have higher transpiration and . . . that’s going to increase the humidity in the room.”

Thosar says growers need to ramp up their dehumidification and airflow to avoid bacterial and fungal diseases that can affect plants which are exposed to higher-than-ideal humidity levels. “You need to have much better air movement in the room—around the crop—in order to maintain that transpiration rate and also have a better airflow to avoid any spots where there’s a bit of humidity, again, in order to avoid some of the fungal or bacterial diseases that could happen within the plant.”

Aurora Cannabis named its new genetic licensing business, Occo, which is backed by the company's breeding and genetics facility in Comox, British Columbia, Canada.
 

Occo will be based out of Aurora's Coast research and development hub and will be led by Casey Whelan, vice president of genetics business development, who will be responsible for leading Occo's genetics licensing efforts in Canada and other markets. He joins Aurora after spending a decade in breeding and licensing premium agricultural products, according to a company release.

The Occo team includes a number of experts in analytics and testing, biotechnology, genomics, medical affairs, pathology, product development, and tissue culture, according to Aurora. 

Occo has already commercialized a number of new cultivars with Canadian licensed producers, including three cultivars launched under Aurora's San Rafael '71 brand (Driftwood Diesel, Lemon Rocket, and Stonefruit Sunset).

"As a business fueled by science, we firmly believe that investing in cannabis research and development and the commercial application of unique technologies, including biosynthesis, is Aurora's true differentiator and will define the future of the industry," says Charles Pick, senior vice president of science and innovation at Aurora. "Under the Occo umbrella, licensed producers will be granted access to a strong pipeline of novel cultivars and innovative traits that will meet the evolving expectations of consumers. Occo already has more than 30 high-quality cultivars, not available anywhere else on the market, that are ready for immediate trial and exclusive licensing."

 

BERKELEY, California, December 2, 2021 - PRESS RELEASE - Steep Hill, a commercial cannabis testing lab, has announced its expansion to Illinois. 

"We are extremely pleased to partner with Steep Hill Illinois' passionate and visionary team," said Nigel Stobart, Steep Hill CEO. "With their success in serial business ventures and commitment to patient and consumer safety with testing, we believe we will see this group expand their horizons quickly." 

Steep Hill is known for its consistency of quality testing, customized technology, and state-of-the-art equipment. The company is dedicated to providing best-in-class customer service and has been the innovation leader driving a nascent testing industry forward for the last 13 years.

Steep Hill Illinois is led by a team of experienced, reliable cannabis industry veterans combined with successful entrepreneurs, strategists and investors.

Driving strategy and business development, as well as government and regulatory issues, is co-founder Nick Etten. Etten, an Illinois native, is a nationally recognized cannabis industry veteran who brings several years of sector experience. He most recently served on the executive leadership team at Acreage Holdings, a multistate cannabis operator (MSO), where he led government affairs, policy, and strategy as the SVP of external affairs. Etten also founded the Veterans Cannabis Project, which focuses on changing the conversation about veterans' access to medical cannabis. 

Co-founder John Tinsley will drive strategy with Etten and focus on business operations, partner relations, launching the Illinois lab and growth into other markets. Tinsley comes to the business after two decades in consulting, where he most recently was a partner with EY-Parthenon, a global strategy consultancy. His expertise in growth strategy, market development, mergers and acquisitions, and operational transformation will be instrumental to a successful launch in Illinois.

PORTLAND,Ore., Nov. 18, 2021– PRESS RELEASE – Thompson DukeIndustrial, a leader in cannabis oil vaporizer device fillingand capping equipment, has been granted another patent from the United StatesPatent and Trademark Office (USPTO). U.S. Patent No. 11,166,490 covers ThompsonDuke's proprietary cannabis oil vaporizer device filling system, particularlyadapted for filling sealed vaporizer devices.

"We are honored that theUSPTO has once again recognized the novelty and authenticity of our technologyhere at Thompson Duke," said Chris Gardella, chief technology officerfor Thompson Duke. "This latest patent is a reflection of our team'sforward-thinking approach to the future of technology and innovation in thecannabis industry. We are excited to expand our intellectual property portfolioas Thompson Duke continues to provide inventive, automated filling and cappingmachinery to the cannabis industry."

The new patent protects ThompsonDuke's innovative system for injecting liquid into a cannabis oil vaporizerdevice. Thompson Duke isan original equipment manufacturer pioneering the cannabis industry bydesigning, manufacturing and distributing a line of patented, cETLus-certifiedand GMP-ready filling and capping machines purpose-built for cannabis oilvaporizer devices. The company also offers a line of mouthpiece fasteningmachines and process performance and reporting data systems.

Thompson Duke also holds a U.S. patentfor its cannabis vaporizer cartridge filling apparatus and method used fordispensing liquid into a container (No. 10,440,989).

To learn more, visit ThompsonDukeIndustrial.com.

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California is working to develop statewide standardized cannabis testing to minimize inconsistencies in data from one lab to the next. 

The move comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 544 into law Oct. 5. According to the bill text, the measure requires the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) to “establish one or more standardized cannabinoids test methods to be used by all testing laboratories” on or before Jan. 1, 2023.

“I believe it is a necessary step to standardize testing methods and procedures when all legal cannabis products are required to undergo testing and display those results for the consumers,” Jared Schwass, founder and managing partner Schwass Law Firm, told Cannabis Business Times in an email. “Unfortunately, many consumers currently rely heavily on the reported THC levels of cannabis flower, which has led to lab shopping. This puts pressure on all cannabis producers to find labs that can produce high THC levels and on the labs to find methods that produce such results.”

RELATED: Beyond the Show: Jared Schwass

Schwass said he think’s the state’s current testing regulations decrease consumer confidence, and believes the standardized method will help consumers be sure that the labels on cannabis products are accurate.   

Looking ahead, Schwass suggests that when the state is developing the regulations, it might bring industry insiders into the fold to learn about other issues the state needs to address through the new regulations—such as the logistics around lab testing.

Democratic Rep. Nima Kulkarni has pre-filed two cannabis bills ahead of Kentucky's 2022 legislativesession to decriminalize and legalize adult-use cannabis in the state.

According to a recent articlefrom WKYT, if approved, the measures would remove criminalpenalties for small amounts of cannabis, allow adults 21 years and older tobuy, sell or possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis, and allow ownership of up tofive plants for personal use. 

Kulkarni explained that whileher second bill would remove penalties for possession of small amounts ofcannabis, the retributions for the possession of more significant amounts wouldremain. Additionally, the measure would remove cannabis accessories fromKentucky's drug-paraphernalia statutes, according to the news outlet.

"I am sponsoring thesebills for several reasons, any one of which should be enough for them to becomelaw," Kulkarni said. "First, current cannabis statutes haveneedlessly and tragically ruined many lives, especially people of color whohave suffered because of unequal enforcement. Second, thousands of citizens,from cancer patients to veterans suffering from PTSD, should have the right touse something that gives them the mental and physical relief they deservewithout relying on stronger, potentially addictive medicine. Third, cannabis decriminalizationwould give the state a much-needed source of reliable revenue without raisingcurrent taxes a single cent.

“And, finally, polls haverepeatedly shown a majority of Kentuckians backs decriminalization and allowingcannabis to be used responsibly by adults. Other states taking this step arereaping considerable benefits, and it's time for Kentucky to join them."

According to the news outlet,if three-fifths of the House and Senate approve the measures during the state's2022 legislative session beginning in January, the measures would then gobefore voters next November. 

SEATTLE, Nov. 30, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Headset, a leading provider of data and analytics to the cannabis industry, announced that it has raised $3 million of new capital led by Althea, a private equity investment firm. Other participating investors are Poseidon Investment Management, a leading investor in the legal cannabis and hemp industries, and WGD Capital L.P., a cannabis focused venture fund.

As part of this financing, Headset also converted $5.6 million of bridge notes previously issued in August 2020 and April 2021. Headset's unmatched scale of retail data is leveraged by thousands of organizations to make smarter decisions when it comes to the cannabis industry, and this round of capital will enable them to expand that reach.

"With this latest round of capital, Headset is able to achieve significant milestones in the industry, including the expansion of our market measurement services to all legal markets and launch new and exciting services designed to help organizations understand and activate consumer purchase behaviors at unprecedented levels," Headset CEO and co-founder Cy Scott said. "We are excited to be working with Althea who brings expertise in the areas of technology, analytics, CPG and cannabis."

Since its launch in 2015, Headset has been the leader in powering advanced and unparalleled analytics services for growing customer bases within cannabis, supporting retailers and dispensaries in over 30 territories, with market projections in the U.S. and Canada. The company continues to elevate the caliber of the cannabis industry providing precise data-driven insights to brands, dispensaries, retailers and organizations in the financial services and consumer packaged goods sector. This raise will deploy capital and ultimately enable Headset to quickly expand its market intelligence platform.

"At Althea, we partner with exceptional founders who are passionate about their people," Althea co-founder Don Stoltz said. "Cy Scott and Brian [Wansolich] have prioritized culture and collaboration while encouraging intellectual freedom. As Peter Drucker said, 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast.' We are thrilled to join the Headset family on the next leg of their journey."

"The Headset platform is unparalleled in its breadth, depth and real-time analytics, providing it with an enduring competitive advantage and growing business moat," Althea co-founder Eliza Gairard said. "As the industry matures, the importance of data and analytics will grow exponentially, and we believe Headset is uniquely positioned to win."

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CALGARY, Alberta, November 29, 2021 - PRESS RELEASE - High Tide Inc. (High Tide), a retail-focused cannabis company with bricks and mortar as well as global e-commerce assets, is pleased to announce that it has completed its acquisition of an 80% interest in NuLeaf Naturals, LLC (NuLeaf ) for U.S. $31.2 million, and will have a three-year option to acquire the remaining 20% of NuLeaf at any time.

Founded in 2014 with its headquarters in Denver, Colo., NuLeaf focuses on producing and distributing premium cannabinoid wellness products. It has received over 25,000 verified 5-star customer reviews through its e-commerce platform. NuLeaf can produce 60,000 plant-based softgels per hour and is one of few manufacturers in the United States that can make a vegan softgel. With heightened consumer interest in health-focused and sustainable products, plant-based offerings are primed for growth. NuLeaf has a substantial distribution reach in the natural products channel and recently secured an expansion with Sprouts Farmers Market from 33 retail locations to an additional 235 stores. It has quickly grown to become a well-known brand for premium cannabinoid wellness products across the U.S., with its product portfolio including Multicannabinoid tinctures, softgels and topicals. NuLeaf had over 5.1 million site visits and an average order value of U.S. $120 million throughout the last year. Since its inception, NuLeaf has served approximately 330,000 unique customers through its e-commerce platform and hundreds of thousands more through its other distribution channels. Upon closing, NuLeaf will have about U.S. $500,000 of inventory and approximately U.S. $500,000 of cash.

This is High Tide’s sixth acquisition in the global e-commerce space and third in the CBD space in 2021. These transactions have collectively contributed to increasing its annual run-rate international revenue from approximately $10.6 million at the end of Oct. 31, 2020, to roughly $80 million annual run-rate at the end of Nov. 30, 2021.

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Following the watershed election in 2020, state legislators across the U.S. got down to business this year. As detailed in a new report from NORML, state legislatures have passed and enacted more than 50 cannabis reform laws since January. 

At the top of the list: Virginia, Connecticut and New Mexico, which passed adult-use legalization measures. New York and New Jersey also crossed that line by passing the laws that would enact voter-approved adult-use measures passed last November.

Beyond that, state legislators drafted, debated and passed laws to further expungement efforts, broaden the parameters of “diversity” in the cannabis industry and expand medical cannabis access.

If cannabis reform is an incremental process, and it is, then this past year has shown the industry just how much can be accomplished in state-level legislation. No doubt, there’s more to come.

“State lawmakers took unprecedented steps this year to repeal marijuana prohibition laws and to provide relief to those millions of Americans who have suffered as a result of them,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a public statement. “As we approach the 2022 legislative session and the elections next November, it is important for lawmakers of all political persuasions to recognize that advocating for marijuana policy reforms is a political opportunity, not a political liability.”

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Flora enters burgeoning cannabis beverage market through executed licensing agreement with Tonino Lamborghini to produce and distribute CBD beverages under their renowned luxury lifestyle brand, with an initial focus on the United StatesTonino Lamborghini product line will first launch in Q1 of 2022Flora retains right of first refusal to distribute any cannabis products globally under the Tonino Lamborghini brandProduct line to be produced using Applied DNA Sciences molecular tagging technology to ensure product verification and brand protection

MIAMI and TORONTO, Nov. 29, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Flora Growth Corp., a leading all-outdoor cultivator and manufacturer of global cannabis products and brands, announced that the company has signed a licensing agreement with Tonino Lamborghini to produce and distribute Tonino Lamborghini branded cannabis beverages across North America and Colombia under its renowned luxury lifestyle brand.

The Tonino Lamborghini product line will be produced through Flora’s division and contain CBD and other premium cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG). Under the licensing deal, Flora will retain the right of first refusal to produce and distribute any CBD or CBG products globally under the Tonino Lamborghini brand. The products will be produced in Florida initially for sale in U.S., in states where CBD ingestible products are legal. Flora will be responsible for production and distribution and will target both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar channels.

The Tonino Lamborghini product line will be produced using Applied DNA Sciences Inc. molecular tagging and authentication technology to ensure product verification, in line with the new age of cannabis consumer packaged goods (CPG). Flora will leverage this technology to ensure that the company’s products are derived distinctly from Flora’s operations, which will substantially reduce concerns of any illicit market or counterfeit products across North America or Colombia.

The market for CBD products is projected to grow into a $20 billion market by 2024, and the growth of that market is expected to largely come from beverages and edibles, according to data from BDS Analytics and ArcView Market Research. Coffee is one of the most popular beverage segments globally and infusing it with cannabinoids is a strong differentiator for the product line, beyond its association with the Tonino Lamborghini brand, especially with the increase in demand for CBD-based products.

“We are excited to partner with such a well-known luxury brand as Tonino Lamborghini, which already boasts a very successful line of beverages and aligns with Flora’s brand portfolio of high-end products,” Flora CEO Luis Merchan said. “This partnership is yet another step in the execution of Flora’s strategic plan to build a world-class house of brands and is also a major component of our sales and distribution strategy in the lucrative U.S. market.”

A budtender who was fired earlier this month for “lack of trust” and “poor work ethic,” as he helped organize a unionization effort, returned to work Nov. 26 at the Burnside Buds dispensary in Victoria, British Columbia.

Niko Kruzel’s firing came as he and other workers at Burnside Buds voted to join the BC Budtender Union, a cannabis-focused division of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1518, which represents more than 26,000 members working in the community health, hospitality, retail, grocery, industrial and professional sectors across British Columbia.

The decision to unionize came after months of dealing with issues regarding scheduling, inconsistent and low pay and lack of health benefits, according to a Local 1518 press release. Kruzel was hired in May 2021 and had never been written up prior to unionizing, according to the release.

Three days after the dispensary employees voted to unionize, the store owner fired Kruzel through text message, stating trust and work ethic issues, Kruzel said in the release.

“I was surprised and shocked to get that late-night text,” he said. “It felt like a knee-jerk reaction from the employer, and, in my opinion, it showed they didn’t know a lot about running a business.”

Kruzel is not the only instance of a dispensary worker getting fired during a unionization endeavor.