During a 31-day reporting period that ended on April 11, the average daily medical cannabis sales in Arkansas approached nearly $900,000, according to a Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report.

The state’s 32 dispensaries operating as of April 11 reported total sales of $27 million from 3,730 pounds of product sold during the 31 days, the news outlet reported.

The new daily sales average is nearly a 30% increase from the previous 23-day reporting period that ended on March 11, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Additionally, the daily sales average has increased by roughly $300,000 since last reported by Cannabis Business Times in Sept. 2020.

Since the state’s first legal cannabis sale in May 2019, dispensaries have reported about $285 million in medical cannabis sales through April 11—charging about $16 per gram on average—from more than 40,000 pounds of cannabis products, the news outlet reported.

From March 20 to April 10, the number of active patient cards has increased by more than 3,500, and as of April 10, more than 74,000 Arkansans had active medical cards, the news outlet reported. 

Furthermore, six more dispensaries in Arkansas are in the process of opening, the news outlet reported.

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The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) released a retail sales data report, which shows that medical cannabis dispensaries in Maryland recorded $48.1 million in cannabis sales in March.

The reported sales for March indicate a 41% increase in medical cannabis sales compared to April 2020, which reported $34 million in sales.

Additionally, Maryland medical cannabis dispensaries are now required to abide by new rules related to edible cannabis products, which went into effect on April 19, Herald-Mail Media reported.

The new rules require dispensaries to sell locking storage containers to store edibles and prohibit medical cannabis dispensaries from selling edibles over 10mg of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per dose and 100mg of THC per package unless the MMCC approves it, Herald-Mail Media reported.

Furthermore, the new regulations require products to contain warning labels about cannabis causing impairments and the potential health risks cannabis consumption can have during pregnancies.

According to Herald-Mail Media, the new rules come after the Maryland General Assembly suggested legalizing adult-use cannabis in Maryland. Still, the legalization effort has yet to gain traction in the state.

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Illinois' monthly adult-use cannabis sales surpassed $100 million for the first time in March.

The new sales record, reported by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), tops February sales by nearly $28 million. According to the report, Illinois sold nearly 2.3 million cannabis items worth roughly $109.1 million in March.

The report also indicates that about 75% of cannabis sales came from in-state residents, while 33% of sales came from out-of-state residents.

The state's March cannabis sales were reflected in the day-to-day dispensary and wholesale operations in Illinois.

Cresco Labs, a vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operator, saw a significant lift in sales in March across its wholesale customers and its ten Sunnyside retail locations in Illinois, said Melissa Wagamon, regional president of Cresco Labs Illinois and Michigan locations.

© Courtesy of Cresco Labs
Wagamon

But what factors helped drive cannabis sales in March?


WASHINGTON, D.C., April 20, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – 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.

Throughout a series of meetings and in-depth conversations, the group—made up of cannabis state regulators, public health professionals, criminal justice reform advocates, civil rights attorneys, people working with directly impacted communities in the cannabis industry, re-entry advocates, academics and an expert involved in Canada’s cannabis regulation—has identified key principles that should guide the development of federal cannabis regulation policies. The principles document encourages and provides guidance on issues related to racial justice, equity, preventing underage use, elimination of lifelong consequences, medical use, taxation, research and more. This release precedes the group’s continued effort to develop and roll out a more comprehensive set of recommendations for Congress on crucial issues such as—but not limited to—which federal agency should regulate cannabis (and to what extent), what kind of product should cannabis be regulated as, expungement, workforce development, medical use, non-commercial activity, and enforcement.

"As we get closer to federal marijuana legalization being a reality in the United States, it’s more urgent than ever before to create a regulatory framework that both comprehensively addresses the harms of prohibition and ensures just and equitable future outcomes," said Queen Adesuyi, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance's Office of National Affairs.

"We have already seen the way industry is jockeying for the opportunity to regulate themselves, and it is critical that advocates—who are representing the interest of those who have been most impacted by prohibition, and those who are in the best position to prevent future harms—set the agenda for how federal cannabis regulation should work,” Adesuyi said. “The legal cannabis industry offers an opportunity to encourage and build out an emerging marketplace that is intentionally accessible to Black, Latinx, indigenous and working-class entrepreneurs as well as legacy operators that have borne the brunt of prohibition. "

While the MarijuanaOpportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, passed by the House last session, addressed the impacts of criminalization in a comprehensive way, in its original form it did not address regulation. These recommendations intend to close that loop, and to prevent unintended and problematic language from getting added to the bill as it did prior to being passed out of the House last year.

The principles emerged from several thorough and informed conversations held by the core group members of the Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group. The group continues to meet and formulate further recommendations that will be offered to Congress, namely to Sens. Cory Booker, Ron Wyden and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who plan to take on regulations in the next iteration of the MORE Act. The group’s recommendations will be vetted by a lengthy list of subject matter experts across sectors and issue areas, including medical doctors, academics, researchers, immigration attorneys, labor law experts, directly impacted individuals and leaders, and more.

NEW YORK, April 20, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – The Blinc Group, Inc., the regulatory-focused designer and provider of premium, customized and bespoke vaporizer technologies, is launching its latest patent-pending vape technology designed to save brands thousands in lost inventory and give consumers peace of mind and clarity with their vape purchase. The Blinc Group is introducing The Halo System.

“For some odd reason it has become normal to leave the cannabis vape consumer uninformed on what’s inside their vape cartridge, the second they discard the box,” said Sasha Aksenov, the co-founder and chief innovation officer of the Blinc Group. “Labeling standards are rigorous for the outside packaging, but once the product is out of the box, there is nothing. The Halo System takes the guesswork out of knowing what’s in your cartridge with a simple trim ring that labels the contents of the cartridge.”

The Halo System consists of two bands, one at the base of the mouthpiece or “tip” and the other at the base of the cartridge—TipHalo and BaseHalo. Before capping your cartridge, you simply snap the TipHalo onto the top of the cartridge with the strain name. The ring is also easily removed, if you decide that the strain you’ve invested in is not selling and you would like to fill your cartridges with another. 

“An operator typically orders hundreds of thousands of cartridges at a time at an average of roughly $2 each,” Aksenov said. “With the rapid pace at which our industry trends evolve—forecasting how each product will perform is a big challenge. This is the core of the ‘unmarked’ cannabis vape products issue. Now a simple solution like the Halo System TipHalo allows the brands and licensed producers to brand their products on the fly, and, if needed, pivot for pennies, not dollars.”

Green Revolution, a multistate producer-processor in California and Washington, believes there is a need for consistency not only in the products that reach the end consumer, but the information provided when they reach the consumer. 

“Partnering with Blinc Group to create a perfect consumer experience is something we are excited about. There’s a clear market demand for Green Revolution’s unique experience driven products. Blinc’s Halo System enables us to properly communicate the effect of each product at scale and clearly inform the Green Revolution consumer, every time,” said Joe Derr, the director of sales and marketing for Green Revolution.

Cannabis banking reform deposited another decisive victory in the U.S. House on Monday evening, when bipartisanship took over the floor of the lower chamber.

Cruising to passage by a 321-101 vote, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which aims to bring safe harbor to depository institutions providing financial services to state-legal cannabis businesses, is the first major piece of cannabis legislation to be approved by this Congress. Democrats voted 215-0 in favor of the bill, while Republicans voted 106-101 in favor.

In the last Congress, the lower chamber overwhelmingly passed a standalone version of SAFE Banking in 2019, and then House members passed the measure two more times as part of federal coronavirus relief bills in 2020. But the legislation stalled, in part because former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., never acted on calendaring it for floor debate in the upper chamber.

RELATED: Senate Follows Suit in Reintroducing SAFE Banking Act

House lawmakers debated the current legislation, House Bill 1996, on the floor Monday afternoon, just hours before the official vote. In his opening remarks as the chief author of the bill, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., said passing the measure is a matter of public safety, accountability and respecting states’ rights.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have either implemented or passed adult-use cannabis measures, while the majority of states have medical cannabis programs that depend on related businesses to remain fully functionable.

An adult-use cannabis legalization bill completed a House trifecta last week in Minnesota, where primary sponsor Rep. Ryan Winkler helped steer the legislation through three committees. House File 600 has now been approved by seven committees overall in the lower chamber.

First introduced in February, H.F. 600 has 35 lawmakers signed on for sponsorship—all Democrats, who own a 52% majority in the House. Included in the framework of the bill, which would allow for adults 21 years and older to possess up to 10 pounds of cannabis in a private residence, up to 1.5 ounces in public and grow up to eight plants (four mature) for personal use, H.F. 600 also includes expungement, on-site consumption, delivery and social-equity provisions. The bill would also establish a Cannabis Management Board and advisory councils.

Mostly tiptoeing along party lines, H.F. 600 cleared the Environmental and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee by an 11-7 vote on April 12, the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee by a 9-7 vote on April 14, and the State Government Finance and Elections Committee by a 7-5 vote on April 17.

Specifically, during the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee hearing, Rep. Winkler, who is also the House majority leader, said, “The purpose of House File 600 is to eliminate the harm that cannabis has in our society. The primary harm that cannabis poses in Minnesota is the prohibition and criminal enforcement of cannabis. The goal of House File 600 is to shift an illegal marketplace that is policed and overpoliced disproportionately and instead to create a policy of repair and opportunity for those most adversely affected by the war on drugs.”

In Minnesota, whites and African Americans use cannabis at approximately the same rate, yet arrest records are even more disproportionate in the state than they are nationally, said Munira Mohamed, a policy associate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. Mohamed was one of several testifiers who advocated in favor of the bill during the hearing.

According to Mohamed, a Black person is 5.4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than a white person in Minnesota, which is significantly higher than the national average of a Black person being 3.6 times more likely to be arrested.

Dispensaries are putting the finishing touches on 4/20 displays and events (whether in-person or online) as the cannabis holiday comes around the corner. It’s been another busy week in the industry, with both good news and sad news—and with a sense of political momentum that might bring more opportunities this summer.

As Marijuana Moment reports, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is promising a comprehensive cannabis reform bill in Congress “soon.” What does that mean? It’s hard to say, but earlier announcement from Schumer (and Sens. Cory Booker and Ron Wyden) have hinted at some sort of palatable, all-in bill that stands a chance of passing this legislative session. The distinction between “decriminalization” and “legalization” has been an apparently touchy point of debate, which may be one reason the bill’s status remains hazy.

That said, we’ve rounded up some of the key cannabis headlines from the week right here.

The week started off with a nice formality, as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed her state’s adult-use cannabis bill into law. Read more Two tragic deaths befell the cannabis space as the week went on, with the losses of pioneering advocate Steve Fox and entrepreneur Sara Batterby. Read more about Fox here, and read more about Batterby here  In lighter news, Colorado is auctioning off 14 cannabis-themed license plates in a fundraiser for the Colorado Disability Funding Committee. Read more As the delivery of cannabis products begins to spark interest among states, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC on Monday that the company could start delivering cannabis products if federal regulation permits the company to do so. Read more 

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

Tahoe Daily News: City officials in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., take stock of the local cannabis industry. Read more Los Angeles Times: This week, the Times takes a look at how LA is influencing the broader cannabis industry, “from pot-infused pizza and the boom in minor cannabinoids to bettering your buzz through DNA analysis, [trends] that may have a hand in shaping what the future of weed looks like across the country and around the world.” Read more Albuquerque Journal: “Five medical cannabis producers wrote in a letter to [New Mexico] state officials this week about concerns that the recently approved legalization could lead to a supply shortage for medical marijuana patients starting this summer.” Read more Yahoo! Finance: NBA stars John Wall and Carmelo Anthony have invested several million dollars in Leune, a California cannabis company. Read more JD Supra: “Federal securities regulators recently obtained judgments in two enforcement actions brought in federal court in California and Illinois involving cannabis-related businesses raising capital.” Read more ]]>
Gilberto “Berner” Milam Jr. has created an empire. 

After starting his (legal) cannabis career in the early 2000s as a Bay Area budtender, the rapper/entrepreneur noticed a lack of branding in the nascent industry. With little more than a strong vision, a love for the plant and an inhuman work ethic—he’s confessed to sleeping just four or five hours a night—Berner parlayed one powerful strain into Cookies, a global lifestyle brand with more than 20 dispensaries across the U.S. and Israel, a clothing line and a new digital content platform called Couch Locked Network (CLN).

CLN will launch on 4/20 with an inaugural comedy show, “Couch Locked.” The event touts a who’s-who of famous weed connoisseurs, from Bob Saget to Donnell Rawlings. The hybrid event consists of a live show with limited tickets on an outdoor terrace at a hotel in San Francisco. Viewers not attending in person can tune in via PPV livestream on Veeps.com. 

Berner spoke to Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary about how the hybrid comedy show came about, increasing Black and brown ownership in the cannabis industry, and what it would take for him to sell Cookies.

Raj Chander: Give us some background on the genesis of “Couch Locked.” How did it come together? Who was involved?

Wikimedia
Berner

Berner: I actually designed the logo about five years ago, I’ve been sitting on it for a while. I’ve always wanted to get into the comedy space. ... Obviously, smoking bud, you know, it’s just part of what comes with it. You relax. But with COVID being COVID and not wanting to miss another 4/20 event, I thought it was the perfect time to bring a livestream, in-person, limited-ticket comedy show to the table. I wanted to laugh, man, and I feel like the world needed a laugh. We want to bring smiles to people’s faces. ... This felt like a good time to implement something I’ve been sitting on.

couchlocked
Canopy Growth Corporation (“Canopy”) (TSX: WEED, NASDAQ: CGC) and The Supreme Cannabis Company, Inc. (“Supreme Cannabis” or “Supreme”) (TSX: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF) (FRA: 53S1) announced April 8 that they have entered into a definitive arrangement agreement under which Canopy will acquire all of Supreme Cannabis’ issued and outstanding common shares in a transaction valued at approximately $435 million on a fully-diluted basis.

Following completion of the acquisition, Canopy will possess one of Canada’s leading cultivation brands, 7ACRES. In addition to receiving a market premium, Supreme Cannabis shareholders will also benefit from Canopy’s U.S. CBD business and conditional positioning for continued exposure to the U.S. market expansion.

Canopy will also add Supreme Cannabis' Kincardine hybrid greenhouse cultivation facility to its production capabilities as part of the acquisition.

"The acquisition combines Canopy’s preeminent position with Supreme Cannabis’ Top-10 position in Canada to create a pro forma Canadian recreational market share of 13.6%(1), including 7ACRES holding Canada’s number one premium flower brand position, number one in PAX vapes, and Top-5 in pre-rolled joints(2)," the press release noted. "Supreme Cannabis’ Blissco and Truverra brands also add breadth to Canopy’s market presence in both the recreational and medical markets."

Supreme Cannabis shareholders will receive 0.01165872 of a Canopy common share and $0.0001 in cash in exchange for each Supreme Cannabis Share held, according to a press release about the acquisition. The Transaction provides Supreme Cannabis shareholders with a premium per Supreme Cannabis Share of approximately 66% based on the closing prices of the Supreme Cannabis Shares and Canopy common shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange (the “TSX”) as of April 7, 2021.

“...We’re excited to reach more consumers through Supreme’s premium brands and high-quality products, further solidifying Canopy’s market leadership,” said David Klein, Chief Executive Officer of Canopy. “Supreme’s deep commitment to superior genetics, top-tier cultivation and strict quality control, paired with Canopy’s leading consumer insights, advanced R&D and innovation capabilities, is expected to create a powerful combination that aligns with our strategic focus to generate growth with premium quality products across key categories.”

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For several years, commercial cultivation has been a trial-and-error process for growers as they navigate the most efficient way to care for plants throughout the different life cycle stages.

During each stage, plants must have specific plant essential nutrient ratios to develop, grow or produce at its best. If a plant has too much or too little of one of the 14 essential plant nutrients, it will not complete its life cycle stages correctly, says Ian Bateman, who works in professional technical services at Hawthorne Gardening Company Horticulture Division.

“When you think of the plant body, it's like a skyscraper you're trying to build,” Bateman says. “All the nutrients are pieces of equipment, machinery or structural components that help make that building. So, if you have one missing piece out of the equation, you can't finish your building, and that's how I would think about plant nutrients. If a grower has just one out of the 14 nutrients, that isn't sufficient to sustain the growth level they want, then, the growth is slowed down by that nutrient.”

Knowing what to feed a plant when it needs it will help save time, money, and most importantly, the plant. Additionally, understanding essential plant nutrients and maintaining proper ratios can help with crop steering, Bateman says.

Cultivators use crop steering to direct the plant to grow in the way they want by altering the environment, how often plants are irrigated and other inputs. Growers can steer the plant's growth and habit by adjusting nutrients, as well, another important component of crop steering, Bateman says.

In order to use nutrients to steer crops, Bateman suggests these key considerations.

With the introduction of nutrient supplements, one common misconception Ian Bateman, who works in professional technical services at Hawthorne Gardening Company’s Horticulture Division, sees at cultivation operations is growers focusing their attention onsupplements at the expense of base nutrients, or the primary fertilizers that contain essential macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK). As a result, plants don’t get the nutrition they need from their food, and because supplements aren’t meant to be holistic, deficiencies can manifest.

“[Base nutrients contain] the bulk of the plant essential nutrients,” Bateman says. “What the supplements should be doing is enhancing or supporting the base nutrients, but because of marketing, because of how these products are positioned, growers think that they’re going to get all the yield and the performance out of the supplements and the base nutrients become kind of an afterthought.”

Just like for humans, vitamins are a great way to supplement nutrients people may not get enough of in their regular diets, but they can’t completely negate unhealthy eating.

“You can take all the fish oil and all the B vitamins and all the stuff you want, but if you eat like crap, you’re going to look like crap and you’re going to feel like crap,” says Ian Bateman. “The same is true for plants.”

When plants don’t get what they need, nutrient deficiency symptoms vary, but common problems include interveinal chlorosis (yellowing leaf margins,) or chlorosis (leaves appear pale, lime green or even yellow), Bateman says. However, it’s often difficult to diagnose the specific nutrient disorder without lab testing, and even then, it’s generally not just one nutrient that is lacking.

“In the real world, most of the time, when plants are deficient, they will have multiple things wrong with them,” he says. “It’s rarelyjust one nutrient. It can happen, but often times it’s linked because nutrients are linked.”

DENVER, April 15, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – The next evolution of drinking with friends has come to the Midwest and East Coast. Keef Brands, founded in 2010 in Boulder, Colorado, as one of the original cannabis-infused beverage companies and now ranked by BDS Analytics as the country’s No. 1 cannabis beverage brand, is proud to announce a major expansion into Missouri, Ohio and Maine. The company’s products can now be found in seven states across the country and Puerto Rico, with additional markets on schedule to launch this summer.

“Now is a prime time for Keef Brands to make its way across the country and introduce new markets to our revolutionary wave of consumption,” Keef Brands CEO Travis Tharp said. “We set ourselves apart with drinks that taste great and have fast-acting effects—two extremely powerful properties both for those who use cannabis as prescription medicine as well as for adults who consume cannabis for pleasure. Keef brings people together as they connect over the shared experience of enjoying infused drinks.”

Keef Brands’ award-winning portfolio has already earned a loyal customer base in the Western United States, as the company currently offers eight of the top-10 selling cannabis beverages in Colorado as well as two of the 10 top-selling in California. Keef’s beverages, formulated with high-quality cannabis extract, include infused versions of classic soda flavors, low-calorie options, mocktails and more.

Below is the list of Keef Brands products currently available by state:

Maine:

Keef Classic Original Cola (10 mg THC): previously Keef Cola; the first Keef product to ever be made provides a familiar cola taste that you would find in soda fountains across the country.Keef Classic Bubba Kush Root Beer (10 mg THC): Winner of the High Times Cannabis Cup for Best Edible; this flavor also mixes extremely well with ice cream to create the ultimate cannabis-infused root beer float.Keef Classic Orange Kush (10 mg THC): Refreshing and tangy notes of orange citrus flavor.

Ohio:

Multi-state, vertically integrated cannabis operator Parallel—run by the former CEO and namesake of the Wrigley Company William “Beau” Wrigley Jr.—made headlines earlier this year after announcing the company would combine with special purpose acquisition company Ceres Acquisition Corp. in a $1.9-billion deal expected to close this summer. The merger would allow Parallel’s team to make a public offering while continuing to grow the business through mergers and acquisitions.

Wrigley outlines the benefits of the deal, Parallel’s market expansion strategy, the company’s clinical research partnership with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, as well as why he believes there’s still “a ways to go” before cannabis can become a true consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry.

Editor’s note: A condensed version of this article originally appeared in April 2021 issue of Cannabis Business Times. It has been updated to include details from the company’s Windy City Cannabis acquisition in Illinois, as well as the recent termination of Kim Napoli, Parallel’s former senior director of corporate social responsibility. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

 

Cassie Neiden Tomaselli: What enticed you to participate in this industry, and how do you see cannabis evolving as a consumer packaged good (CPG)?

Beau Wrigley: What got me into it was health and wellness. When I really started to understand cannabis—going back a couple years—I realized that it really has the potential to truly improve people’s quality of life. And obviously I’ve been successful and fortunate to run a couple different businesses. But when you can have a business that brings that to people, potentially all over the world, it’s a pretty high calling. And it’s pretty great to be involved with the foundational aspects of an industry that’s new.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may be the most well-known cannabinoid in cannabis, but according to the National Hemp Association, scientists believe that there may be more than 100 different cannabinoids in cannabis.

One cannabinoid that has recently emerged in the market is Delta-8-THC.

As previously reported by Hemp Grower, the National Cancer Institute defined Delta-8-THC in a statement as an analogue of THC that contains neuroprotective properties that can increase appetite and reduce nausea, anxiety and pain. It produces some psychotropic effects that are believed to be less potent than Delta-9, the primary form of THC found in cannabis.

The legal status of Delta-8 remains unclear, as some say it's federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, while others consider it a loophole.

"In terms of the legality, I think everyone is confused," said Scott Churchill, the director of scientific operations at MCR Labs, an independent cannabis testing laboratory based in Massachusetts. "There are people that say it's illegal because it's a derivative of cannabis, which I believe is how the original prohibition was written, stating that anything that is a derivative of cannabis is illegal. But then the hemp farm bill came out and depending on that language [in the Farm Bill] is whether or not it created a loophole for non-Delta-9."

Sara Batterby, the founder of the Equity Capital Collective and adviser to many entrepreneurs, has unexpectedly passed this week at 49.
 

© CBT Archival Photo
Batterby

Batterby entered the cannabis industry in 2014, where she co-founded HiFi Farms and the Portland Chapter of Women, where she began her investigation into developing tools and resources to provide founders equitable access to capital.

In 2018, Batterby created the Equity Capital Collective and designed the first genuinely comprehensive curriculum. She worked with entrepreneurs from underserved communities to help them gain skills and access to investors and fundraising through her Capital Masterclass.

In a 2019 interview with Portland Business Journal, she outlined her philosophy:

"Our mission is to enable and empower entrepreneurs who have been excluded from access to networks and resources, such as women, people of color and LGBTQIA communities. We're insisting on a more equitable landscape of opportunity for a greater diversity of founders. Through our systematic methodology, we teach critical skills and insights while addressing the fundamental internal barriers associated with a diminished experience of worthiness and entitlement."

Steve Fox, who led the drafting of Colorado Amendment 64, which legalized adult-use cannabis in 2012 and set in motion a wave of state legislation across the U.S., died this week. He was 53.
Vicente Sederberg
Fox

Fox was a leader at Vicente Sederberg LLP, a cannabis law group based in Denver, since 2010. He co-founded VS Strategies in 2013 and served as managing partner.

“We are truly heartbroken to share news of the passing of our partner and dear friend Steve Fox,” the team at Vicente Sederberg wrote. “With wisdom beyond his years and a pioneering spirit, Steve was an ‘old soul’ with a knack for seeing things in a new light. He was strongly principled, deeply empathic, and fiercely kind. And despite his usually soft-spoken and lighthearted demeanor, his opinions rarely went unheard and always carried significant weight.”

Fox built a storied career in political advocacy, specifically lending his expertise to drug reform policy and social justice. He brought an early sense of political legitimacy to the cannabis reform movement coming out of the 1990s, joining Marijuana Policy Project as the first full-time lobbyist on Capitol Hill in 2002.

“He made me feel like we could do anything,” Mason Tvert, a colleague of Fox’s at Vicente Sederberg, told the Denver Post. “This guy, he was truly passionate about helping people, both those around him and those that he knew were being affected by bad policies. And he never got a ton of recognition and he didn’t really seek recognition. He was always proud to be the guy behind the scenes.” 

In Cannabis Business Times, Fox was most recently interviewed for our December 2020 issue—discussing the prospects of a legalization wave in the Northeast this year. 

Colorado is auctioning off 14 cannabis-themed license plates in a fundraiser for the Colorado Disability Funding Committee.

The bidding, which has already generated more than $30,000 as of April 14, closes at 4:20 p.m. MT on April 20—what has become a cannabis holiday. The cannabis-themed plates include phrases like “BONG,” “GANJA,” “HASH,” “HEMP,” “INDICA” and “SATIVA.”

As of this writing, “ISIT420” has generated the highest bid at over $6,600.

Gov. Jared Polis applauded the auction in a press release, stating that the proceeds will be used to fund disability application assistance as well as new and innovative programs increasing quality of life and independence of Colorado’s disability community. 

“Colorado is proud of our creativity and ingenuity. We’ve been a leader in the cannabis space for over a decade and this effort allows us to fund critical projects and programs in our disability community,” Polis said.

Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to provide funding to a program that serves individuals with disabilities. I’m thrilled to support this effort and look forward to seeing which plate raises the most funds.”

New York is the latest state to legalize the delivery of adult-use cannabis with no restrictions to adults 21 years and older, following in the footsteps of California, Nevada and Oregon.

As the delivery of cannabis products begins to spark interest among states, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC on Monday that the company could start delivering cannabis products if federal regulation permits the company to do so.

At the end of March, New York state lawmakers approved the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, making it the 17th state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older. The bill establishes a new regulatory body, the Office of Cannabis Management, to oversee the new adult-use program, in addition to the existing medical and hemp markets. Other provisions are detailed in the bill; however, much of the regulatory framework has yet to be decided, leaving the 10 existing medical cannabis companies operating in the state in limbo. Cannabis Business Times spoke with Hillary Peckham, chief operating officer of Etain, an independent, women- and family-owned medical cannabis operator with a cultivation facility and four dispensaries in New York, to get her take on the bill and how the company plans to transition into the adult-use market.

Michelle Simakis: What aspects of New York’s adult-use cannabis bill that have been outlined so far do you like?

Hillary Peckham: I think it’s really fabulous they have passed legislation with an initiative for diverse business ownership. That’s something we really support, especially trying to foster small business social equity licenses and MWBEs [minority- or women-owned business enterprises]. (Editor’s Note: The bill indicates the state’s social and economic equity program will include a goal to allocate 50% of licenses to a minority- or women-owned business, distressed farmers or service-disabled veterans.) As a woman-owned business, we’re very supportive of that effort.

MS: What are your concerns about the bill?

HP: Things we are looking out for, which we won’t know more until regulation, would be ensuring that there’s a commitment to the medical program’s success after legalization starts, because most states you see the medical program decline or basically go away. And to make sure the support for [MWBE] businesses isn’t just to give them a license, but that there’s ongoing support and commitment to fostering growth for those companies that extends beyond just the initial licensing. There [are] proposed startup loans. I think that will be really important because cannabis businesses are very capital intensive, and it’s really hard to find capital without traditional financing. Additionally, in other industries New York set goals for purchasing from MWBEs for state contracts, and something similar to that to make sure there’s ongoing commitment to support and purchase from suppliers or retailers in those special category licenses I think will be great.

MS: As it’s written now, medical cannabis companies can remain vertically operated and add up to four stores, in addition to the four medical dispensaries you already have. Do you plan to transition into the market, and what would be the first step?