The Alabama Senate has passed medical cannabis bills three years in a row, but the state’s House of Representatives continued to stall those efforts late Tuesday night.

Republican opponents filibustered the Senate-passed legislation during nearly 10 hours of debate on the floor of the lower chamber, before the House adjourned shortly before midnight without a vote, according to the Associated Press. The House is scheduled to reconvene at 8 a.m. May 6, when the bill is expected to return to the chamber’s floor.  

Alabama’s Senate Bill 46, which was amended and cleared by two House committees last month, would allow registered patients diagnosed with a qualifying condition to access cannabis, making it the 37th medical cannabis state if passed, according to Marijuana Policy Project.

The Senate’s effort to enact medical cannabis laws collided with COVID-19 last year when pandemic-related circumstance derailed the possibility of a vote in the House. The House has until May 30 to act this year—when the state’s legislature adjourns out of session.

Sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson, S.B. 46 proposes implementing a medical program that would open the application process for potential patients by Sept. 1, 2022.

In addition, the legislation would create an Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, which would determine the maximum daily dosages of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that caregivers could provide patients with each of more than a dozen qualifying conditions. Some of the conditions include: cancer, terminal illness, depression, epilepsy, anxiety or panic disorder, chronic pain, spasticity, autism, Tourette syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

NEW YORK, May 3, 2021 - PRESS RELEASE - Acreage Holdings Inc., a vertically integrated, multistate operator of cannabis licenses and assets in the U.S., announced its subsidiary, Universal Hemp LLC, reached an agreement with Medterra CBD, a cannabidiol (CBD) company. This partnership will allow Acreage Holdings to tap into Medterra’s innovation pipeline, high-quality CBD and significant e-commerce platform for immediate nationwide distribution. Five Farms CBD, a subsidiary of Medterra, will develop a full-spectrum CBD collection under The Botanist, an Acreage Holdings brand. This partnership makes this a first in the cannabis industry for a CBD and a publicly traded cannabis brand to collaborate. 

As adult-use cannabis sales are on pace to break $1 billion this year in Illinois, plans to roll out 110 new retail licenses are expected to be introduced this week.

The state banked a record $114,961,668 in cannabis sales last month, bringing its total to roughly $393.7 million for 2021, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s monthly sales figures.

But since Illinois started cashing in on the cannabis industry at the beginning of 2020, licensing disputes—for both retail and cultivation—have led lawmakers to try, and try again, to enact changes that would end the “monopoly” of the industry in the state, as Rep. La Shawn Ford called it.

An African American Democrat from Chicago, Ford introduced legislation Feb. 3 that would create up to 110 additional retail licenses, 35 of which would be reserved as social equity licenses for those affected most by prohibition. Plans for rolling out those new licenses are expected this week, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Those 110 new licenses are in addition to 75 original retail licenses that are currently pending, but were previously delayed and held up in legal disputes after regulators announced in September that only 21 social equity applicants would be included in a lottery to win those licenses.

The first 75 licenses were awarded in a lottery for businesses with perfect applications scores. The 110 new licenses would include two more lotteries—75 licenses specified for businesses scoring 85% or better on their applications, and 35 licenses intended for primarily Black and Latino entrepreneurs, according to the Chicago Tribune.  

BOULDER, Colo., May 04, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Surna Inc. (OTCQB: SRNA), a leader in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) systems engineering and technologies, is excited to announce the company’s updated organic growth strategy. This revised strategy expands the company’s products and services within the indoor cannabis cultivation market and also brings these offerings to the rapidly growing indoor food production environments.

“Today we are announcing substantial changes to our organic growth strategy, which can be summarized as new markets, new products and services, and new trade name,” Surna Chairman and CEO Tony McDonald said. “New markets is who we seek to serve, including the broader CEA market. New products and services is what we will bring to our customers, which will now include most of the technical infrastructure and services required in an indoor cultivation facility. And our new trade name brands us more accurately and makes us easier to find.

“We are confident these initiatives will allow us to better serve our customers, accelerate the growth we have experienced in the recent past and position us to continue our organic growth. We look forward to serving more customers in the future, as well as to achieving profitable growth of the company.”

The major components of the updated strategy include:

New Markets: Surna will continue to serve its cannabis cultivation customers while also bringing its products and services to the broader CEA market, including the rapidly growing vertical farming market. The company’s existing expertise and equipment offerings can be readily applied in these facilities, and Surna has previously served several such facilities. In the first quarter of 2021 the company entered into a contract with a non-cannabis CEA facility, and the company’s reputation and brand recognition is such that developers of these facilities reach out to Surna directly.

New Products and Services: Surna has historically provided best-in-class environmental control engineering and equipment to its customers. Since 2018 the company has expanded the range of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and dehumidification (HVACD) products it offers to meet a wider range of customer requirements, and this has been a successful initiative with 100% of its new projects including products developed since that time. Surna will now expand its service and product offerings to encompass many of the key AgTech components required in a cultivation facility, to include the continued expansion of its software-based control technology, SentryIQ. Surna will also continue to add recurring revenue through its preventive maintenance services. Some of these new products and services are provided now, and others will be added in the near future. The company believes that by expanding its offerings it will improve customer success by providing the most complete engineering of the key infrastructure technologies required for a successful operation. Surna’s position will be as an engineer helping the customer to evaluate technical alternatives and providing products from a curated set of technologies. Surna believes this positioning will contribute to the company’s customer acquisition success by bringing itself into the customer relationship at the earliest possible moment.

Last week was eventful for cannabis reform in Texas, as the House of Representatives approved three legislative proposals, which would expand the state's medical cannabis program, reduce penalties for concentrates and decriminalize possession.

The state's current medical cannabis program is limited to patients with the qualifying conditions: intractable epilepsy, terminal cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism or an incurable neurodegenerative disease; however, the House approved House Bill 1535 in a 134-12 vote on April 28, which would expand the qualifying conditions in the program to include cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain, The Texas Tribune reported.

The bill would also permit the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to add additional qualifying conditions through administrative rulemaking, The Texas Tribune reported.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) recognizes Texas' current program as a “medical cannabidiol (CBD) program” rather than a proper medical cannabis program due to the program's emphasis on utilizing CBD over tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for medicinal use, according to The Texas Tribune.

But H.B. 1535 would also raise the THC limit in medical cannabis from 0.5% to 5% and make it possible for those in the program to access higher doses than what is currently available.

Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, said while increasing the THC limit in medical cannabis is "a step in the right direction," it still hinders doctors from prescribing proper patient doses.

CHICAGO, April 30, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois (CBAI) believes social equity licenses must be issued as soon as possible and the General Assembly should focus on ensuring any change to cannabis law puts awards for social equity applicants at the forefront. This is no time for distractions. We have made clear that any negotiations on the law should occur between the General Assembly and the social equity applicants who have had their lives on hold waiting for licenses to be awarded.

CBAI has taken decisive action to ensure that social equity applicants have the best chance of success entering the marketplace:

The CBAI Minority Access Committee, wholly comprised of social equity applicants, is negotiating with members of the General Assembly and other social equity groups on the association’s behalf for legislation that advances the interests of minority applicants.

 

CBAI prioritizes issuing licenses to social equity applicants above all other changes in cannabis law and continues to call on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration to focus its efforts on getting licenses into the hands of those the law was designed to help.

 

CBAI has called for Illinois to reimburse social equity applicants for costs associated with the delay in awarding licenses.

 

CBAI incubates, coaches and mentors social equity applicants, and established the Minority Business Associate Membership to give minorities a stronger voice in our association and in the industry statewide.

From the moment the cannabis bill became law, CBAI has advocated for policies that provide greater ownership opportunities for minority cannabis entrepreneurs, including set-aside licenses, innovative incubation and co-location programs, and omnibus legislative packages that would move the state forward on awarding social equity licenses.

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BOSTON, May 3, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Former Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan joined national cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP on Monday as director of regulatory policy, a newly developed role at the firm.  
Cannabis Control Commission
Jennifer Flanagan joined national cannabis law firm Vincente Sederberg Monday. 

Flanagan was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2005, then to the state Senate in 2009, where she served two terms. In 2017, Gov. Charlie Baker appointed her to serve as the first public health representative on the newly formed Cannabis Control Commission. During her time as a commissioner, she led efforts to protect public health and patients’ rights, including the award-winning “More About Marijuana” public education campaign.

RELATED: Cannabis Control Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan Announces Departure from the Agency on April 30

“Jennifer devoted 25 years to public service in Massachusetts, and we are honored to welcome her to Vicente Sederberg,” said Adam Fine, managing partner of the firm’s Boston office. “Her experience as both an elected official and regulator, combined with her career-spanning advocacy work, offers her a unique perspective on cannabis policy. She will be an invaluable asset to our clients and to government officials across the country as they work to develop and implement responsible cannabis and hemp regulations.”

Now in its 11th year of operation, Vicente Sederberg continues to grow in its service offerings and geographical reach as cannabis policy reform spreads across the U.S. and around the globe. 

“Throughout my four years with the commission, I watched the Vicente Sederberg team passionately and effectively advocate not only for their clients, but also for thoughtful public policy and the collective welfare of the regulated cannabis industry,” Flanagan said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity to take on a new role that ties together my cannabis regulatory experience with my commitment to public health advocacy. I look forward to working with VS and other cannabis industry leaders on matters that advance the industry in a responsible, inclusive, and compliant manner.”

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If the headline looks familiar, well, that’s because it is.

Cannabis lounges, where patrons can smoke a joint, rip a bong, vaporize a dab or do just about anything else you can think of with the plant, appeared to be a certainty as part of a Las Vegas ordinance back in 2017—and then again in 2019. They’ve been talked about for over four years in the entertainment capital of America.

But this time around, after years of setbacks and political meddling from the rival gaming industry, a bill at the Nevada State Legislature is on track to settle the score once and for all.

Assembly Bill 341 would pave the way for an unlimited number of lounges to open across the state, in counties where local governments allow cannabis businesses to operate. That includes in Sin City, where over 40 million tourists visited each year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This would really open the floodgates for something marijuana users have wanted for a long time,” said Assemblyman Steve Yeager, a Democrat from Las Vegas who sponsored the bill. “And there’s a social equity part to it where we’re not restricting this just to licensed dispensary owners.”

Yeager, in his third term at the state’s biennial legislature, has felt the frustration himself. Long considered the heir apparent to former State Sen. Tick Segerblom, who was known as Nevada’s “Godfather of Marijuana,” Yeager watched as the fledgling industry offered all of its spoils to a tiny group of anointed business owners, most of whom were lawyers, doctors, casino operators, lobbyists and former public officials.

It’s good to remind ourselves that we’re in the early days of the legal cannabis space. It’s obvious, but too often our day-to-day work (and the fast pace of the industry from the jump) can insulate us from that fact. We’re in the thick of it, and our passions drive our goals.

But even in the pioneering marketplaces like Denver, Colo., there is much to revisit and much to reconsider. The city recently passed its first major policy overhaul, allowing delivery and hospitality businesses to set up shop as soon as this summer. It’s a good example of local legislators working diligently to fine-tune regulations in a city that was on the vanguard of legal cannabis seven years ago—a lifetime ago in our concept of time.

Assistant Editor Andriana Ruscitto has the story in the links below. And don’t miss Associate Editor Tony Lange’s report on unionization efforts in the cannabis space.

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

Cultivation and dispensary employees from Massachusetts and Rhode Island join UFCW union as part of a national labor organizing wave. Read more Cannabis deliveries and hospitality locations will be allowed under the proposed changes to Denver’s cannabis laws. Read more Adult-use cannabis legalization remains uncertain in South Dakota, where the state’s Supreme Court heard arguments April 28 on the constitutionality of a voter-approved amendment from the November 2020 election. Read more The Louisiana House Criminal Justice Committee advanced House Bill 524, which would establish the regulatory framework for adult-use cannabis in the state. Read more Vessel Brand, a community-led company focused on uplifting the cannabis consumption experience, announced a new partnership with GAIACA Waste Revitalization in an effort to combat the ongoing waste issue facing the cannabis vape industry. Read more 

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

Politico: “As more and more states legalize marijuana, companies are facing new pressure from lawmakers across the country—and Capitol Hill—to limit the strength of their products.” Read more Taos News: “Now that a regulatory committee is being formed and rules are being drafted [in New Mexico], the citizens and the government of Taos are preparing for a potential influx of cannabis businesses.” Read more The Denver Channel: “New Mexico's legal marijuana market could cut off a huge line of revenue for Colorado dispensaries at the border. Cities like Trinidad, which sits just north of the border with New Mexico, boasts dozens of dispensaries and has come to rely on the ‘border model’ to survive.” Read moreBangor Daily News: “As with any evolving industry, we should remain flexible moving forward. However, lawmakers should understand that the forthcoming oversight measures are part of a much-needed upgrade for medical cannabis in Maine.” Read more Benzinga: “Vertically integrated cannabis company Ascend Wellness Holdings has opened a new store in downtown Boston.” Read more 

 

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TORONTO, April 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – PRESS RELEASE – Multistate operator Red White & Bloom Brands Inc. (RWB) is pleased to announce that its new subsidiary, RWB Florida LLC, has completed the acquisition of all of the issued and outstanding shares of Acreage Florida Inc. from High Street Capital Partners LLC, a subsidiary of Acreage Holdings Inc. RWB also completed the acquisition of certain owned and leased real estate assets used in Acreage Florida’s operations.

RWB Florida is licensed to operate medical cannabis dispensaries, a processing facility and a cultivation facility in the state of Florida. The deal also includes the sale of property in Sanderson, Florida that includes more than 15 acres of land, an approximately 11,000-square-foot facility for cultivation and a 4,000-square-foot freestanding administrative office building. In addition, RWB Florida has eight leased stores in prime locations throughout the state.

“The Florida cannabis market is poised for tremendous growth and is forecasted to be a top-five state by the year 2025,” Red White & Bloom CEO Brad Rogers said. “With approximately 450,000 medical cannabis patients currently registered in Florida, we see this as an amazing growth opportunity for the company. Combine this with a population of 20 million and we are delighted this deal has been finalized and look forward to delivering the highest quality medical products to the market.”

Jim Frasier, formerly of Acreage, has been appointed the position of Florida general manager for Red White & Bloom. “Our employees are impressed with Red White & Bloom’s commitment to the local communities as they expand their ESG program around the environment, jobs, social justice and governance,” he said. “We are excited to play a major role in the benefits cannabis can bring to the state of Florida.”

Deal Terms:

RWB, RWB Florida and High Street Capital entered into a definitive stock purchase agreement on Feb. 21, 2021, as amended on April 27, to acquire Acreage Florida and the Florida real estate from High Street Capital for an aggregate purchase price of U.S. $60,000,000 in cash, stock and other considerations including:

UNITED KINGDOM, April 20, 2021 - PRESS RELEASE - A groundbreaking paper, released April 20, has revealed the outdated laws and regulations currently hindering the U.K.’s cannabidiol (CBD) and medicinal cannabis industries. The paper calls on the government to review its restrictive approach to the U.K. cannabis industry, which could be worth billions of pounds and create tens of thousands of jobs.

Not only would the emergence of a domestic cannabis sector help stimulate the U.K. economy post-pandemic, but it would also transform access for the estimated 1.4 million individuals currently sourcing cannabis illegally for medical reasons, who are in desperate need of affordable cannabis medicine.

In November 2018, the government announced medical cannabis could be prescribed for patients by specialist doctors, but so far just three National Health Service (NHS) prescriptions and 6,000 private prescriptions have been issued. Despite being one of the largest exporters of medical cannabis in the world, currently, the U.K. imports 100% of its cannabis medicine and the majority of its CBD products, due to the contradictory legislation on medical cannabis, and the convoluted licensing and regulatory processes required for businesses entering the space. Sadly, patients themselves have largely footed the bill for these issues, with the majority of prescriptions paid for privately by patients and their families.

Written by Maple Tree Consultants and Mackrell.Solicitors, the discussion paper is supported by 16 industry heavyweights including Prohibition Partners and the Primary Care Cannabis Network. Its findings refer to distinct areas of the cannabis industry, including CBD, hemp and medical cannabis.

Recommendations to Government:

Reform the high-THC cultivation/controlled drug license system.Allow the cultivation of the hemp flower to extract CBD under an Industrial Hemp license.Increase the THC limit from 0.2% to 1% to align with international competition.Ensure the application of the Novel Foods Regulation to cannabis-related wellbeing supplements does not impinge upon smaller market participants.Encourage wider, appropriate patient access by allowing general practitioners to prescribe medical cannabis.Introduce an “Office for Medicinal Cannabis," as implemented by other jurisdictions such as the Netherlands.

Findings on Medicinal Cannabis:

Destigmatizing and legalizing cannabis are certainly positives for the industry, but it’s not just an increase in retail sales fueling the sector’s boom. Venture capital investors and businesses formerly agnostic (or even opposed to cannabis) now are pouring money into the industry, fueling much of the growth. With that, many long-term cannabis (and hemp) entrepreneurs are looking to parlay their experience and expertise in the field into profitable businesses.

The entrance of big money into the industry certainly provides a solid jumping-off point for businesses that partner with investors to increase profitability and valuation. However, it could also come back to haunt the seasoned cannabis entrepreneur who enters into a partnership without fully understanding the terms of the agreement.

This is why it is imperative for industry veterans to know how they can protect their stake in a business at the beginning of a new venture and avoid potentially expensive and time-consuming legal battles down the road, should things turn sour.

The strategies presented here can be effective in protecting your stake in a developing business, but remember that big money investors often have a “take-it-or-leave-it” mentality. However, that doesn’t mean a venture capital investor holds all of the power and leverage in the negotiation just because he or she is putting up money. Without your unique skill, product, process or experience—whatever forms the base of the business and sets it apart from competitors—the investment opportunity wouldn’t exist in the first place. If you are critical to the success of the business, you have leverage to steer the deal or walk away if the terms aren’t beneficial to you.

Document Early

When you’re in the early stages of building a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria of the new possibilities and future success of your new venture. While developing a vision in collaboration with new teammates and investors, there is not as much desire to pause the momentum and ask difficult but important questions like:

How will we make management decisions?How much of this venture do I own, and how much do my partners own?How would we deal with potential disputes between partners?How would my interests be protected if: The venture just muddles along or is a bust? Everything goes as planned and the business is a moderate success?You hit a home run and your founder’s shares are worth millions?

 That’s why it’s essential to put the terms of the business relationship on paper early, so expectations are clear and there are no misunderstandings or surprises in the future. You should start documenting once you’ve found your core business partners, even if you don’t have all of your investors on board yet.

CARLSBAD, Calif., April 28, 2021—PRESS RELEASE—Vessel Brand, a community-led company focused on uplifting the cannabis consumption experience, announced a new partnership with GAIACA Waste Revitalization in an effort to combat the ongoing waste issue facing the cannabis vape industry. Key retailers on each coast, including Chalice Farms in Oregon and Happy Valley in Massachusetts, will support the initiative.

Vessel Brand offers a high-end line of vape pen batteries and accessories made with quality materials and premium finishes. Helmed by CEO and founder James Choe, Vessel stands apart as a company that puts people and the planet first. Thoughtfully designed with the user experience top-of-mind, Vessel batteries power any oil in style with optimized airflow technology, low-temperature settings and extra-long battery life.  

Leading the charge in industry sustainability, Vessel’s batteries last nearly 300 charge cycles, and optimized power settings ensure that users don’t burn through oil too quickly, meaning oils last longer and fewer cartridges and batteries end up in the trash.

By joining forces with GAIACA, a leader in providing compliant and environmentally focused solutions for cannabis waste, Vessel will make it easier for consumers to recycle batteries.

“At Vessel, we are committed to holistic wellness, whether that’s personal wellness, that of the community, or in this case the environment—we believe it is all interconnected and equally important,” Choe said.

Utilizing GAIACA collections services includes:

Adult-use cannabis legalization remains uncertain in South Dakota, where the state’s Supreme Court heard arguments April 28 on the constitutionality of a voter-approved amendment from the November 2020 election.

The court’s hearing stems from a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Amendment A, which passed with a 54.2% majority. The ballot measure read: “An amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana; and to require the legislature to pass laws regarding hemp as well as laws ensuring access to marijuana for medical use.”

The plaintiffs in that case argued that the measure violates the state’s one-subject rule and does not simply amend the state constitution but, rather, revises the constitution. Therefore, the revision would require a constitutional convention to be called for by a three-fourths vote of members from both chambers of the state legislature.

The defendants, who represent South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, the group behind Amendment A, argued the measure contains one subject—cannabis—to which all provisions are essentially related. In addition, they argued the state constitution’s definitions of “amendment” and “revision” are permissive, not obligatory.

Keloland | keloland.com
Attorney Brendan Johnson argues in front of the South Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday. 

During the hearing in front of the five South Dakota Supreme Court justices on April 28, Brendan Johnson, an attorney in support of Amendment A, argued the state’s one-subject rule as it has been applied by the high court has historically serviced as a shield, not as a sword, he said.

“It is designed to shield the people from legislation, from crafty legislators, who before the legislation passes, they’ll insert … something that the people weren’t expecting,” Johnson said. “They would have no reason to expect that this could happen. That has been the purpose of this single-subject. Same when it comes to amendments.


The Louisiana House Criminal Justice Committee advanced House Bill 524, which would establish the regulatory framework for adult-use cannabis in the state.

Republican Rep. Richard Nelson sponsored the bill, which passed in a 7-5 vote after an "impassioned" debate on April 27, The Advocate reported. Two additional Republicans and several Democrats supported the legislation, while mainly district attorneys and sheriffs opposed it.

Nelson said he believes the state’s cannabis prohibition is a failed experiment and needs to end, according to The Advocate. He also argued that legalizing and then regulating and taxing adult-use cannabis could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for Louisiana—revenue that the state is currently missing out on.

But opponents of the legislation said that the potential revenue from legalizing and regulating cannabis would cause a host of other problems, like safety issues, KPEL reported.

The legislation still has a difficult journey before it becomes law. It must get approved by the Republican-dominated full House and Senate and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who said he opposes adult-use cannabis, The Advocate reported.

However, the committee’s recent vote on the legislation indicates that opinions on cannabis are starting to change in the Louisiana legislature, as more conservatives are beginning to show support for legalization.

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The South Dakota Supreme Court will hear arguments April 28 regarding the constitutionality of the state’s adult-use cannabis amendment that voters approved in the November election.

The court’s hearing stems from a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Amendment A. The state-passed ballot measure  read: “An Amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana; and to require the legislature to pass laws regarding hemp as well as laws ensuring access to marijuana for medical use.”

Less than a month after voters approved the ballot measure with a 54.2% majority, Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and South Dakota Highway Patrol Col. Rick Miller filed a lawsuit challenging Amendment A, arguing it violates the state’s one-subject rule, and the amendments and revisions article of the South Dakota Constitution.

The plaintiffs argued that Amendment A has five subjects: legalizing cannabis, regulating cannabis, taxing cannabis, requiring the South Dakota Legislature to pass laws regarding hemp and ensuring access to medical cannabis.

Commenting on the litigation, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Legalization opponents cannot succeed in the court of public opinion or at the ballot box. Thus, they are now seeking to overturn election results after the fact. Whether or not one supports marijuana legalization, Americans should be outraged at these overtly undemocratic tactics.”

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, the group behind Amendment A, filed a response in court on Dec. 7, arguing that the case should be dismissed because voiding Amendment A would overturn the people’s will. Citizens from that group also argued that Amendment A had one subject: cannabis.

A unionization effort filed for 17 employees at the Curaleaf medical dispensary in Hanover, Mass., went all the way to Washington, D.C., before a final decision on the results of a mail-in election was made earlier this month. The majority of ballots had been challenged, some of which remained sealed in the final vote count.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 328, which represents more than 11,000 workers in a range of industries throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, filed for the Curaleaf Hanover union election April 20, 2020—during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ballots went out to the Hanover team in May, and the original vote count was June 26. That vote came back 5-2 in favor of joining the Local 328, excluding 10 challenged ballots, which were determinative, meaning there were more challenged votes than the difference between yeses and noes.

“There was some fighting back and forth—because it was during COVID—about people that they were bringing in from other areas and having them work there,” UFCW Local 328 President Tim Melia said. “But they weren’t part of the Hanover group. The company was arguing that they should be part of the unit and should be able to vote on the contract. And we were arguing back the other way. So, there were some charges about who was eligible and who wasn’t when the vote came.” 

The challenged ballots took nearly 10 months to sort out. A federal investigation and hearing by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) examined the circumstances of the challenged ballots, which stemmed from which workers were employed at the Hanover location before government shutdowns and which workers were not. The Boston regional office of the NLRB determined that six of the 10 challenged ballots should not be counted. Curaleaf appealed that decision to the NLRB in Washington, D.C., where the labor board declined to hear the case, essentially upholding the ruling of the regional director in Boston.

The final vote was 8-3 in favor of the Curaleaf Hanover workers unionizing, which became official on April 9, 2021, roughly a year after the workers’ campaign was organized.

Local 328 organizers first connected with dispensary workers at Curaleaf Hanover in March 2020, a month before filing the unionization vote and before pandemic-related government shutdowns were enacted. At the time in Massachusetts, the shutdowns affected adult-use dispensaries while medical dispensaries like Curaleaf Hanover were deemed essential. 

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) offers the hemp industry commercial promise, with the potential for fresh markets and new products. But as delta-8 products increasingly land on store shelves and online shopping carts, they also invite legislative scrutiny and, in some cases, action.

The cannabinoid already has provoked bans in 12 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island and Utah, according to Marielle Weintraub, president of the U.S. Hemp Authority, which certifies hemp products (and has recently decided not to certify delta-8 products). Meanwhile, legislative bans are brewing in other states, including North Dakota, Alabama and Oregon.

Florida lawmakers, moving in the opposite direction, have established a legal framework for delta-8.

The emergence of commercial delta-8 simultaneously thrills and worries hemp industry leaders. Prior to delta-8, no hemp products got people high.

“The [2018] Farm Bill passed with the understanding that hemp is nourishing, hemp could be food, used in supplements, used as fiber or grain. And hemp is not intoxicating,” Weintraub tells Hemp Grower. “Delta-8 defies the intention of the laws and the rules. I think it’s incredibly short-sighted and can bring down the entire hemp industry before we’ve had the chance to show people what this plant can do. Delta-8 makes me so angry.”

Cannabis delivery and hospitality locations could start this summer in Denver, after the City Council unanimously agreed to overhaul the local cannabis industry by passing two measures on April 19.

To make Denver's cannabis industry more diverse, equitable and inclusive, city officials have been working on making changes to the industry's cannabis laws for several years, The Denver Post reported.

The first bill would lift Denver's license cap on new stores and cultivation facilities, which has been in place since 2016. According to The Denver Post, it would also permit dispensaries to hire third-party vendors to deliver cannabis directly to consumers.

As previously reported by Cannabis Business Times, social equity applicants are the only people who would be able to receive a delivery license until 2024, while permits for hospitality businesses, stores, transporters, cultivation and manufacturing facilities would be limited to social equity applicants until 2027.

The second measure would legalize cannabis consumption facilities such as bars and clubs, where customers could bring cannabis to consume, and clubs could sell small amounts of cannabis for consumption, The Denver Post reported. The measure would also allow the city to implement cannabis tour buses or shuttles, where people can consume cannabis on board while being taken on a tour around the city.

While city Mayor Michael Hancock supports both measures, over a dozen Denver public school principals wrote a joint letter to the city council expressing their concerns. The letter stated that increasing cannabis availability could lead to a rise in cannabis consumption among young people, the Associated Press reported.

With 2020 sales reports in the books and a clear-eyed look at early 2021 retail trends, all signs point to a booming cannabis economy. It’s come up in conversation frequently over the past year, but the “essential” tag that most states bestowed upon the legal cannabis business has been a real boon throughout the pandemic. Whatever momentum was built up in 2020 seems to be carrying over into 2021—with no signs of slowing down.

As more states come online and as legal cannabis picks up traction as a normalized segment of the American business sector, consumer interest seems to rise steadily. States like Maryland and Arkansas (in the medical market) and Illinois (with a booming adult-use market) issued updates this week that provide some serious revenue numbers.

In Illinois, in fact, as Assistant Editor Andriana Ruscitto reports, "dispensaries and wholesalers had to adjust daily operations to effectively manage the influx of sales.”

Not a bad problem to have.

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

Cannabis banking reform deposited another decisive victory in the U.S. House on Monday evening, when the lower chamber passed the SAFE Banking Act yet again. Read more During a 31-day reporting period that ended on April 11, the average daily medical cannabis sales in Arkansas approached nearly $900,000. Read more On a similar note, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission released a retail sales data report, which shows that medical cannabis dispensaries in Maryland recorded $48.1 million in cannabis sales in March. Read more Illinois' monthly adult-use cannabis sales surpassed an astounding $100 million for the first time in March. Read more The Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group released its Principles for FederalCannabis Regulations and Reform, outlining what a federal regulatory framework—grounded in justice and social equity—should look like. The working group was convened by the Drug PolicyAlliance at the beginning of this year. Read more 

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

Miami Herald: “A high-profile effort to legalize marijuana was all but killed by the Florida Supreme Court Thursday.” Read more Local Coast Outpost: Papa and Barkley Social, “the chic, new-concept cannabis consumption lounge” from the hemp-CBD business, opened in Eureka, Calif. Read more Yahoo! Finance: “Long-time marijuana legalization advocate Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.) is optimistic about the chances of ending the federal prohibition of marijuana now that Democrats control both chambers of Congress.” Read more Asbury Park Press: “For the first time since New Jersey legalized marijuana, its constituents had a chance to sound off on the regulators who will oversee it all. The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission held its second-ever meeting on Thursday, the first time members of the public had their chance to make comments on the state's existing medical marijuana and, eventually, recreational legal weed industries.” Read more North Bay Business Journal: Nicole Elliott, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s top adviser on cannabis told a 4/20 crowd that, “with California legalizing adult use in 2016, the feds may compromise with a relaxing of rules on interstate commerce — which would essentially allow for transportation of related goods over state boundaries.” Read more  
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