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Georgia is now accepting applications from companies that want to cultivate cannabis and manufacture low-THC oil for the state’s registered medical cannabis patients, according to Saporta Report.

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission met Nov. 23 to approve the application forms, and Andrew Turnage, the commission’s executive director, told Saporta Report that there is a social equity component to the licensing process.

“We want to encourage minority-, women- and veteran-owned business to look at this commission as an opportunity that they want to invest in and grow a business in,” Turnage said.

Although state lawmakers have not established formal social equity regulations, the commission plans to gather data from applicants for a disparity study that will determine whether the state is inclusive in its cannabis licensing process, according to Saporta Report.

Applications must be submitted by Dec. 28, and Georgia will ultimately issue a maximum of six cultivation licenses, which will allow a maximum of 400,000 square feet of greenhouse space to be cultivated in the state. Up to four licensees will be authorized to grow up to 50,000 square feet of cannabis, while up to two licensees will be able to grow up to 100,000 square feet.

Some of Massachusetts’ existing cannabis retailers are prepared to sue over the Cannabis Control Commission’s delivery rules, which, if approved, would allow a new set of cannabis licensees to provide home delivery, according to a WBUR report.

The CCC initially agreed on a framework for cannabis delivery regulations in September, proposing a set of rules that would create two types of delivery licenses: a “limited delivery license” that would allow a licensee to charge a fee to deliver from licensed cannabis dispensaries and a “wholesale delivery license” that would allow a licensee to buy cannabis wholesale from licensed cultivators and manufacturers, store it in a warehouse and sell it to consumers.

The delivery licenses would be available only to social equity applicants and certified economic empowerment applicants for the first three years.

A bipartisan group of Massachusetts lawmakers have voiced opposition to the proposed regulations, saying in a letter to the CCC that that the wholesale delivery license is not supported by the state’s cannabis law.

The CCC approved policy changes to the draft regulations last month, recategorizing the two delivery license types as “Marijuana Courier” and “Marijuana Delivery Operator” licenses and establishing operations restrictions, modified caps on ownership and control, and limits to financial relationships with third-party technology platform providers to help prevent companies from dominating the delivery market.

Earlier this month, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) announced the recipients of public university grant funding that will allow universities across the state to research the legal cannabis system and its impacts, and researchers are eager to launch their wide-ranging studies.

More than 100 universities applied for grants of up to $2 million to fund research proposals that had to fall within one of several specified categories, including public health, criminal justice and public safety, and economic and environmental impacts of the legal cannabis industry.

The BCC ultimately awarded nearly $30 million in funding to UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, CSU Dominguez Hills, UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Davis and CSU Humboldt for their specified research proposals.

UCLA received seven grants totaling $6.4 million to fund studies that will be conducted through the Semel Institute/Department of Psychiatry, Integrative Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP), Center for Health Services and Society, Department of Family Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Division of Infectious Disease, Luskin School of Public Policy and the UCLA Labor Center.

Funded studies will focus on the impact of Prop. 64 on maladaptive cannabis use and treatment for cannabis use disorder, as well as the toxicity of inhaled and second-hand cannabis smoke, the neurobiological and behavioral impact of cannabis marketing, employment conditions in California’s cannabis industry, a demographic analysis of the licensed cannabis industry and cannabis consumers, and an assessment of the feasibility and consequences of implementing a cannabis potency tax.

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is scheduled to vote on the rescheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances during the 63rd reconvened session in December 2020. This scheduled vote follows an earlier meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, during which the Committee recommended the rescheduling of cannabis and several cannabis-related items, effectively removing cannabis from the list of scheduled substances. While participating countries will make the decision regarding rescheduling cannabis through an international forum, domestic lawmakers and international policymakers will maintain a close watch over the outcome, as the consequences of such a vote may affect the direction of the cannabis industry in their respective countries going forward.

The recreational use of cannabis is legal in four countries—Canada, Uruguay, South Africa and Georgia—and is decriminalized in several others. A vote to remove cannabis and cannabis-related substances from the list of scheduled drugs will likely encourage more countries to revisit how they approach the legal classification of cannabis on a domestic level. This extends to the possibilities of more countries legalizing cannabis or decriminalizing it in an effort to take a softer stance against the use of cannabis and prepare for involvement in a potentially extensive and financially lucrative global cannabis trade market.

There are three international drug treaties governing cannabis that strictly oppose the legalization of cannabis in any of the participating countries. The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 classifies cannabis as a Schedule I and Schedule IV substance, requiring countries to adopt special measures of control to prevent the illicit traffic in and misuse of cannabis.

The Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 focuses on the psychoactive component in cannabis, THC, and regulates cannabis-related substances. The recommendation of the WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence is to remove cannabis and THC from the scheduled drugs on this convention altogether. Finally, the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances governs the trafficking of cannabis and requires participating states to maximize efforts to prevent such offenses. Rescheduling cannabis will likely mean revisiting and amending all three international drug treaties in part to account for this change in policy.

A vote to reschedule cannabis will also drastically change the landscape of the global cannabis trade market and open the door for countries to enter new international treaties that focus specifically on the international regulation of cannabis. The result is the creation of a new international cannabis market where participating countries can benefit from working with one another as opposed to operating under the current landscape, which leads to legal disconnect and invites the illegal smuggling of cannabis across international borders.

New Jersey, despite its left-leaning politics and proximity to one of the world’s largest urban centers, has lagged behind in cannabis. As the 11th-largest state in the country by population, New Jersey has fewer than 14 medical cannabis dispensaries serving close to 100,000 patients. Possession of marijuana was just decriminalized there last year.

Garden State cannabis also has a racial equity problem. Black residents are between two and three times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana despite relatively equal rates of use across races. In some counties, Black people are arrested over 30 times more frequently for cannabis, according to a 2020 report from the ACLU of New Jersey.

New Jersey passed legalization in November’s election by a landslide—more than two in three voters approved. But state cannabis advocates are now calling out serious shortcomings in the proposed A-21/S-21 bill, saying it doesn’t do enough to address the harsh repercussions of the drug war and will keep minority and disadvantaged small businesses from participating in the upcoming industry. 

What’s in (and not in) A-21/S-21?

“[The bill] has been introduced as the most progressive cannabis legislation in the country yet it falls short of substantive social equity provisions seen in other states,” said Jessica Gonzalez, General Counsel for Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), in an email to Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary.

“The bill is riddled with vague language and predatory programs aimed at minority communities while increasing the barriers to entry,” said Gonzalez. Specifically, she identified five points where it falls short:

Timing is tricky business in hemp and cannabis field farming. Plant too early, and farmers risk losing their crops to frost. Plant too late, and growers chance early maturation with suboptimal yields. 

It’s the reason The Hemp Mine, a hemp genetics and cannabidiol (CBD) company, created a virtual planting map to help growers make informed decisions about planting, testing and harvesting.

The map includes data points on average frost potential and daylength at different dates for nearly every county throughout the U.S. With this simple data, hemp and cannabis growers can not only make informed decisions about when to plant, which genetics to choose and when to start testing—they can also track their production schedule nearly down to the day.

But before delving into the map, it’s important for growers to understand photoperiodism.

READ MORE: How the Justice Family Transitioned Into Hemp

Photoperiod Primer

PHOENIX November 24, 2020 – PRESS RELEASE – 4Front Ventures Corp. has announced that its fully funded, state-of-the-art, 185,000-square-foot production facility in Commerce, Calif., is nearing completion and will be ready to serve the $3b California cannabis market in Q2 2021. The project is on target to be completed in April 2021 with the company planning for the first of its full line of edibles, tinctures and vape products to be on California retail shelves by May.

Leveraging its Washington facilities, 4Front has successfully introduced its products and brands into Massachusetts, Illinois and soon to be California. The automated, state-of-the-art Commerce facility incorporates unprecedented capacity for finished goods manufacturing, similar to the scale seen in the traditional consumer packaged goods industry. Commerce will have the ability to produce over 10 times the current capacity of 4Front’s 40,000-square-foot Washington production hub.

The successful closing of a C$17.25 million bought deal financing provides the company with all it needs to finish the California facility and to replicate its proven high-quality/low-cost production strategy that has been so successful in even the most competitive of cannabis markets such as Washington State.

“We’re thrilled to be in California and to be completing our largest and most automated manufacturing facility yet,” stated Leo Gontmakher, chief executive officer of 4Front. “Our experience in Washington, Massachusetts and Illinois, where we excel in low-cost manufacturing at scale, uniquely positions us to successfully compete in one of the largest, if not the largest, cannabis markets in the world.” 

Gontmakher continued, “This facility is almost finished and with our large-scale customized production line will produce a minimum of ten times more product per shift than the largest of our other locations. I am not aware of a production facility in the country which will rival us in either size or efficiency and we are poised to attack the California market in a manner that the rest of the industry has been unable to do.

FRANKLIN, Mass., Nov. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- PRESS RELEASE -- New England Treatment Access (NETA), a division of the privately-held, multi-state cannabis company Parallel and a cannabis operator in Massachusetts, has announced the launch of the first Security Equipment Grant Program designed to help reduce barriers to entry in the state's cannabis industry for certified social equity and economic empowerment applicants.

The Security Equipment Grant Program will award $25,000 to two Economic Empowerment and/or Social Equity cannabis licensees to be used toward the purchase of compliant security equipment for their operations. Applicants must be provisionally licensed by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) to qualify.

The application can be found on the NETA website and will be accepted starting Nov. 23.

"We are excited to offer financial support to two certified social equity or economic empowerment cannabis operators through this new Security Equipment Grant Program. In introducing this program, our intent is to help lower the cost and complexity barriers that come with sourcing and installing security equipment for new cannabis operators," said Kim Napoli, Sr. Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Affairs for Parallel. "This grant program, in addition to other work we have done to support social equity and through our NETA Cares initiatives, is a sign of our commitment to fostering, cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity and inclusion in the cannabis industry in Massachusetts and all our markets."

A team from NETA will review each application. The dollar amounts each awardee will receive will depend on the needs outlined in the application. The committee may decide to grant all monies or a portion of the requested funds each year, depending on the applicants' requests. 

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Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and South Dakota Highway Patrol Col. Rick Miller have filed a lawsuit challenging Amendment A, South Dakota’s voter-approved adult-use cannabis legalization measure, arguing that it violates the state’s one-subject rule and the amendments and revisions article of the South Dakota Constitution, according to a Dakota News Now report.

South Dakota made history on Election Day when voters passed two separate measures to legalize both medical and adult-use cannabis in the state.

Amendment A is a constitutional amendment that legalizes the use of cannabis for adults 21 and older, and allows the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis per adult.

The lawsuit against Amendment A alleges that it violates South Dakota’s one-subject rule, which says voters can only amend one subject at a time, Dakota News Now reported. The plaintiffs argue that Amendment A actually has five subjects, according to the news outlet, which include legalizing cannabis, regulating cannabis, taxing cannabis, requiring the legislature to pass laws regarding hemp and ensuring access to medical cannabis.

The plaintiffs also argue that Amendment A does not amend the South Dakota Constitution, but actually revises it, according to Dakota News Now. An amendment is a “change to a specific part or subject,” the news outlet reported, while a revision is defined as a “fundamental change to the constitution.” A revision to the state’s constitution requires a three-fourths vote from both chambers of the South Dakota Legislature, the news outlet reported.

The West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis has issued 10 medical cannabis processing licenses, according to a local WOWK report.

The licensees are Trulieve WV, Inc. in Huntington, Harvest Care Medical, LLC in Bridgeport, Buckhannon WV Processing, LLC in Buckhannon, Holistic WV Farms I, LLC in Beaver, Verano WV, LLC in Beaver, Columbia Care WV, LLC in Falling Waters, Tariff Labs, LLC in Left Hand, Armory Pharmaceutical, Inc. in Buckhannon, Mountaineer Integrated Care, Inc. in Fort Ashby, and V3 WV GP, LLC in Maxwelton.

RELATED: West Virginia Issues 10 Medical Cannabis Cultivation Licenses

Licensed medical cannabis processors can manufacture pills, oils, topicals, vaporizable products and tinctures, WOWK reported, which can then be sold to the state’s licensed dispensaries.

The Office of Medical Cannabis will now move forward with scoring dispensary applications, according to the news outlet, which is the last stage in the state’s cannabis licensing process. Regulators plan to issue medical cannabis cards to patients in the spring of 2021, WOWK reported.

San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett ruled Nov. 20 that cannabis billboards are illegal under California’s Prop. 64, according to a local KSBY report.

Two San Luis Obispo attorneys, Saro Rizzo and Stew Jenkins, filed a public interest lawsuit in San Luis Obispo Court in October 2019 on behalf of Matthew Farmer, a San Luis Obispo resident who argued that the advertising was wrongfully exposing his children to cannabis use, the news outlet reported.

Rizzo and Jenkins alleged in the case that the billboards are illegal under Prop. 64, the 2016 voter-approved initiative that legalized adult-use cannabis in California, according to KSBY.

A ban on billboards advertising cannabis, similar to one that prohibits billboards promoting tobacco products, was enacted as part of Prop. 64 to protect youth from cannabis advertising, the news outlet reported, and the provision bans cannabis billboards on the Interstate Highways and State Highways that cross the California border.

Garrett sided with Farmer on Friday, striking down a regulation that the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) adopted in 2019 to allow cannabis billboards on highways that cross state borders, KSBY reported.

AUGUSTA – PRESS RELEASE – Preliminary sales data from regulators at the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) indicate Maine’s marijuana retailers grossed approximately $1.4 million and made 21,194 transactions during the first month of retail sales. The data, which was extracted from the state’s inventory tracking system, Metrc, shows that smokable marijuana made up 76% of sales, while concentrates and infused products accounted for 14% and 10%, respectively.

Maine’s adult use market launched on Oct. 9 and saw sales from six active licensees that month. An additional three adult use retailers opened their doors during the first week of November. The reporting period covers sales made from Maine’s retail sales launch date of Oct. 9 through the end of the day on Nov. 8, a total of 31 days.

“While it is easy to focus solely on the numbers, it is important to note that the Office of Marijuana Policy’s primary objective is maintaining the high standard of public health and safety we have set for the adult use program,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. “We appreciate the commitment our licensees have demonstrated to enact COVID protocols to ensure a safe launch and their continued commitment to these efforts in light of the recent spike in COVID cases in Maine.”

Adult use monthly sales totals and product types have been added to OMP’s existing transparency dashboard, available at: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/open-data/adult-use. The initial data set includes the first month of retail sales. Beginning in December, sales information will be updated monthly with the preceding month’s totals.

Sales data are preliminary in nature, subject to further revision and have not been audited. The Office is responsible for the oversight of all aspects of legalized marijuana, including Maine's existing Medical Use of Marijuana Program.

VANCOUVER, BC, Nov. 23, 2020 /CNW/ - PRESS RELEASE - Village Farms International, Inc. has announced two positive developments with respect to its wholly owned Canadian cannabis subsidiary, Pure Sunfarms.

Pure Sunfarms Receives Cannabis Research License for On-Site Sensory Evaluation from Health Canada

Pure Sunfarms has received from Health Canada its Cannabis Research License to conduct human administration trials for sensory evaluation of cannabis, enabling it to engage in on-site assessments of the taste, sight, smell or touch of its products at its Delta 3 cannabis facility in Delta, British Columbia.

"This license provides us with significant new opportunities in the formulation and refinement of our products, and underscores our commitment to innovation and the advancement of the Canadian cannabis consumer experience," said Mandesh Dosanjh, president and chief executive officer of Pure Sunfarms. "We look forward to leveraging this new capability to continue to extend Pure Sunfarms' product leadership and further strengthen what is already one of Canada's best-selling cannabis brands."

Pure Sunfarms Brand Debuts Internationally in Hong Kong

BOCA RATON, Fla., Nov. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PRESS RELEASE -- Jushi Holdings Inc., a vertically integrated, multi-state cannabis operator, has announced plans to nearly double the square footage of its subsidiary’s grower-processor facility in Scranton, Pa., from approximately 90,000 sq. ft. to more than 160,000 sq. ft. in a phased expansion. The majority of the approximate 70,000 sq. ft. expansion project will be focused on increasing the facility’s canopy space, which upon completion will nearly triple to approximately 98,000 sq. ft. The first phase of the expansion is expected to come online in mid-2021 and the final phase will be completed by the second quarter of 2022. In total, Jushi expects to invest approximately $50 million on the expansion project, which is expected to create over 100 new jobs in the Scranton area. Jushi (through its subsidiary Pennsylvania Medical Solutions, LLC), will work with Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc. (through its subsidiary IIP-PA 1 LLC) to partially finance the expansion project via an upsize to the existing lease agreement between the parties. The expansion project is subject to the company’s successful completion of certain milestones, including receipt of all local and state approvals and permits, and the finalization of a mutually agreed lease amendment with Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. related to the facility.

“The medical cannabis market in Pennsylvania is rapidly growing and with our products in high-demand, this investment will significantly expand our cultivation capacity and market share,” said Jim Cacioppo, chief executive officer, chairman and founder of Jushi. “This is a robust operating environment and with the market intelligence gained through our eight currently operating BEYOND / HELLO retail dispensaries, we believe that patient demand for high-quality, medical grade cannabis products is still far from being satisfied. With the phased build out, the support of our financing partner Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc., and our strong balance sheet with ample liquidity, we expect to remain fully funded to operating cash flow positive, including our likely investment beyond Innovative Industrial Properties, Inc.’s support. We believe that by investing in the expansion of our grower-processors, we will generate the greatest potential return for Jushi shareholders.”

Cacioppo concluded, “We are very excited by the opportunity ahead of us in Pennsylvania, and as one of the fastest growing jobs sectors in the U.S., Jushi and its subsidiaries look forward to bringing additional new local jobs and tax dollars to the region and further investing in Scranton’s economy and community.”

The company recently completed an expansion project in the third quarter 2020, which included increasing the Facility’s indoor cultivation from approximately 20,000 sq. ft. to approximately 45,000 sq. ft. (~33,000 sq. ft. of canopy) and supplementing the current CO2 extraction with new Class I, Division 1 ethanol extraction technology. The facility produces high-quality, indoor grown flower and extracts and is strategically located within minutes of Interstate 81, Interstate 84 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, enabling efficient wholesale distribution to the 98 dispensaries currently operating across the commonwealth, including the company’s eight operational BEYOND / HELLO dispensaries. The facility is expected to supply the company’s subsidiaries, and other licensed retail facilities.

Portland, OR -- PRESS RELEASE -- At its regular monthly meeting on Nov. 19, 2020, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) approved eight recreational marijuana license stipulated settlements. Additionally, the City of Portland’s Cannabis Policy Oversight Team (CPOT) provided the Commission with an update on the Portland Cannabis Program.

CPOT reviewed its efforts to make equity the center of all decision-making efforts related to cannabis regulation, including ensuring that patients should have access to cannabis for medicinal purposes. CPOT is also reworking its cannabis grant program to focus on distributed funding to BIPOC recipients.

OLCC staff provided assessments of how two ballot measures approved by Oregon voters earlier this month could impact the agency.

Measure 109, which establishes a program for the therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms, directs the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to enter into an agreement with the OLCC to use the state’s Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) to prevent psilocybin diversion from therapy program. OLCC has initiated conversations with its CTS vendor the OLCC has deferred further action, until OHA, currently busy with the pandemic, can begin implementing the program.

One provision of Measure 110 reclassifies some drug convictions which will impact the evaluation process of OLCC licensee and permitee applicants. Currently, the OLCC rarely makes a license or permit decision based solely on drug convictions, but there are differences between the OLCC’s alcohol and recreational marijuana licensing and permitting criteria that will now be reconciled; this might require the OLCC to enter into rulemaking.

PRESS RELEASE - On Nov. 18, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) heard public comments on its most recent Proposed Rules for Quality Control Testing and Product Requirements. These rules would increase flower lot size from 5 lbs to 10 lbs and require each lot as well as concentrates be tested for pesticides starting Aug. 1, 2021, and would add heavy metal testing requirements Jan. 31, 2022.

Casey Scaufler, WSLCB Rule Coordinator, indicated that the WSLCB had received hundreds of written comments. More than 47 individuals signed up to testify at Wednesday's virtual public hearing, the largest turnout the WSLCB has seen since shifting all meetings online in March of 2020 following guidance issued in the Governor's Proclamation 20-28 (Open Public Meetings act and Public Records Act).

Those offering verbal comment were universally opposed to the proposed rules as written. Many farmers called attention to the rules' continued reliance on self selection of samples for testing and the problem of using an honor-based system to catch bad actors.

Many of the farmers in attendance identified as members of Washington Sungrowers Industry Association (WSIA), a non-profit trade association dedicated to supporting sustainably farmed sungrown cannabis by encouraging positive environmental and economic policy through advocacy, education, and research who had encouraged farmers to attend and comment at Wednesday's hearing. 

Micah Sherman of Raven Grass was first to testify on behalf of his craft cannabis farm. He highlighted the reality that these rules would cost smaller farmers more money to comply with than large producers. He suggested that, "We need an approach to testing at the broad farm level combined with random testing of finished products in stores and at farms."

Multistate cannabis operator Verano Holdings announced earlier this month that it would acquire and combine operations with AltMed in Florida and Arizona in a merger that will form one of the largest private cannabis companies in the U.S.

Verano has vertically integrated operations in 12 states, with 17 Zen Leaf dispensary locations and 440,000 square feet of cultivation. The company produces a variety of cannabis products under the Encore Edibles, Avexia and Verano brands, and operates across both adult-use and medical markets.

AltMed is a vertically integrated medical cannabis company with 27 dispensaries operating under the MÜV brand. The company also manages 220,000 square feet of cultivation space in Florida and 30,000 square feet in Arizona, where it is expanding by an additional 50,000 square feet to meet increased demand.

When the transaction closes, the companies will operate eight cultivation facilities and 44 dispensaries under the Verano brand across 14 states, with plans for 32 additional retail locations.

Here, Verano Holdings CEO George Archos shares insight into the strategy behind the merger, as well as how the two companies will integrate their operations to achieve their broader goals.

This week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he will propose legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis when the state’s General Assembly reconvenes in January. Elsewhere, in Mexico, the Senate passed a cannabis legalization bill, sending it to the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, for consideration.

Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.

California: The Bureau of Cannabis Control has awarded $29,950,494 in public university research grant funding to universities across California. Research proposals had to fall within one of the several specified categories, including public health, criminal justice and public safety, economic, environmental impacts, and the cannabis industry. Read moreA California judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn a rule that allows cannabis companies to deliver statewide, even into municipalities that have banned cannabis sales. Although the state has allowed licensed cannabis deliveries in “any jurisdiction” within California, the group of local governments behind the lawsuit argued that the state did not have the authority to regulate cannabis sales within their jurisdictions. Read moreVirginia: Gov. Ralph Northam has announced plans to introduce an adult-use cannabis legalization bill when the General Assembly reconvenes in January. Northam’s most recent push for policy reform is in response to a Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission study on the potential impacts of legalization in the state. Read moreNew Jersey: A cannabis decriminalization bill has stalled in the New Jersey Assembly after the Senate added an amendment that would lessen the penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of psilocybin, or psychedelic mushrooms. The Senate approved the measure Nov. 16 in a 29-4 vote, but the Assembly canceled a vote on the bill due to the added provision that would make possessing up to one ounce of psilocybin a disorderly person offense punishable by a six-month jail sentence. Read moreNew Jersey lawmakers also passed two different versions of an adult-use cannabis bill out of Assembly and Senate committees this week, and must now agree on a unified proposal before the legislation can receive floor votes. The Assembly Appropriations and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees both approved the bill Nov. 19 in 8-4 votes, but the legislation that advanced in the Senate excluded a provision that passed in the Assembly that would limit the number of licenses for adult-use cultivators in the early years of the industry. Read moreArkansas: Harvest Health & Recreation Inc., a vertically integrated cannabis company and multi-state operator in the U.S., has completed the divestiture of its dispensary and cultivation assets in Arkansas. Natural State Wellness Dispensary, LLC and Natural State Wellness Enterprises, LLC, which own and operate a medical dispensary and cultivation facility, were sold on Nov. 13. Read moreUtah: New legislation sponsored by Rep. Ray Ward (R-Bountiful) and Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, would allow more doctors to recommend medical cannabis by authorizing physicians to recommend cannabis for up to 15 patients, or up to 275 patients if a doctor receives specialized training through the state. The bill would also allow doctors to refer patients to the state’s medical cannabis pharmacies, where pharmacists can make specific product recommendations. Read moreAn audit of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) under the leadership of former commissioner Kerry Gibson has found issues with the state’s medical cannabis cultivation licensing process. The audit offers numerous recommendations, including that the UDAF reassess the eight cannabis cultivation licenses that were issued last year. Read moreRhode Island: Lawmakers are considering a cannabis legalization proposal that was put forth by Gov. Gina Raimondo in January in an effort to combat the state’s budget deficit. When Raimondo included the cannabis legalization proposal in her state budget plan earlier this year, Senate leadership opposed the plan, but during the Senate Democratic caucus earlier this month, lawmakers seemed more receptive to legalization to counteract the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read moreInternational: The Mexico Senate approved a cannabis legalization bill this week, sending it to the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, which must now pass the legislation by a Dec. 15 deadline. The legislation would legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis and allow licensed businesses to sell it, while adults would be authorized to grow up to six plants at home. Read more
Liberty Health Sciences, a vertically integrated medical marijuana company with operations in Florida, announced in a Nov. 19 press release that it has reached an agreement to settle a class-action suit. The “memorandum of understanding [is] regarding settlement of the securities class action that was commenced against it in the United States in 2019,” the release states.

The settlement figure is $1.8 million US, according to the release, which states: “The settlement is made without any admission or finding of liability and is subject to court approval. There is no assurance that the settlement agreement will receive court approval.”

An attorney representing Liberty wrote in a letter to the judge, overseeing the case in the U.S. District Court for New York’s Southern District, that “Plaintiffs anticipate filing a motion for preliminary settlement approval by January 8, 2021.”

RELATED: How to Raise Capital Without Running Afoul of the SEC

Investors alleged in their January 2019 complaint that Liberty violated securities law. They claimed that Liberty, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, “has had longstanding ties” with Aphria, another Canadian cannabis company. Of the “Class Period” between June 28, 2018, and Dec. 3, 2018, the complaint states:

“Throughout the Class Period, Defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s business, operational and compliance policies. Specifically, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (i) Liberty, in conjunction with Aphria, was involved in a scheme whereby numerous fraudulent acquisitions and transactions were made to provide undue benefits to both companies’ insiders; and (ii) as a result, Liberty’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.”

Aphria announced that it sold off its Liberty stake in September 2018, according to the complaint. Then, Quintessential Capital Management and Hindenburg Research published the report “Aphria: A Shell Game with a Cannabis Business on the Side,” alleging a scheme by Aphria to acquire shell companies and sell them off at, as the legal complaint states, “artificially inflated prices.”

Rhode Island lawmakers are considering a cannabis legalization proposal that was put forth by Gov. Gina Raimondo in January in an effort to combat the state’s budget deficit, according to The Boston Globe.

When Raimondo included the cannabis legalization proposal in her state budget plan earlier this year, Senate leadership opposed the plan, which would establish state-run cannabis retailers, The Boston Globe reported.

During the Nov. 6 Senate Democratic caucus, however, lawmakers seemed more receptive to legalization to counteract the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the news outlet.

Raimondo’s budget proposal projected roughly $21.8 million in revenue from cannabis sales in fiscal year 2020, The Boston Globe reported, as well as $21.1 million in 2021 and $39.6 million in 2022.

The Rhode Island Legislature has not yet approved a budget due to delays stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the news outlet, and the Senate Finance Committee met Nov. 18 to hear testimony on budget articles, including the one addressing cannabis legalization, although the issue is not expected to be taken up until 2021.