BURLINGTON, Mass., April 1, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – PRESS RELEASE – Agrify Corporation (NasdaqCM:AGFY), a developer of highly advanced and proprietary precision hardware and software grow solutions for the indoor agriculture marketplace, reported financial results for its fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2020.

2020 Highlights

Total revenue increased 195.7% to $12.1 millionBegan realizing higher-margin software as a service (SaaS) revenue as customers commenced operations utilizing the Agrify Insights™ software solutionCompleted the development of and started taking pre-orders for the newest generation of Agrify's Vertical Farming Units (VFUs), which offer improved lighting efficiency, greater light output, and a wider range of environmental control and reproduction, furthering the company's mission to deliver consistency to the industryAcquired TriGrow Systems, Inc., which was the exclusive distributor of Agrify’s indoor grow solutions, giving Agrify full control of sales, product marketing and customer relationshipsAcquired Harbor Mountain Holdings, LLC (HMH), an agile manufacturer and installer of many of Agrify’s products, giving Agrify direct access to HMH’s research and development, testing and flexible manufacturing plant located just outside Atlanta, along with key engineering talent and equipment

Management Commentary

“We are pleased with the growth we achieved in 2020,” Agrify CEO Raymond Chang said. “On many fronts, last year was a pivotal turning point for Agrify. We successfully executed several strategic initiatives such as accelerating market adoption, focusing on customer success and building our team, and all of these efforts provide us with the opportunity to deliver sustained revenue growth and profitability. Additionally, we advanced our technology and software platforms and expanded our customer offerings, which enabled us to significantly increase our order backlog and sales pipeline.

“As we look towards 2021, we note that we have already made progress on a number of key initiatives, including launching our Agrify Total Turn-Key (TTK) Solution, the industry’s first total turn-key solution. Through this program, we aim to help our customers by providing them with access to capital, leading-edge technology and the industry expertise they need to consistently cultivate high-quality products. This should enable our customers to get to market faster, with consistent, high-quality products that are grown in a controlled and replicable environment, all at a lower cost of production. We passionately believe this new partnership opportunity will be highly desirable to customers in this rapidly evolving industry, which is experiencing a favorable shift in the regulatory landscape. We are seeing many positive signs of potential cannabis reform in new markets, and as demand continues to grow, we believe there will be an increasing number of potential customers looking to partner with us due to our premium solutions. The Agrify TKK Solution especially enables us to partner with customers early and help establish their cultivation systems to position them as well as ourselves for long-term growth, together.”

Chang concluded and said, “I would like to thank each member of the Agrify team for their hard work and dedication. All of their efforts have set Agrify up for a great year in 2021. With the right team and technology, combined with a strong balance sheet and significant customer pipeline, we are well-positioned in our drive to capture additional market share and to enhance long-term shareholder value.”

The SAFE Banking Act is back in Congress, and political momentum is swinging in favor of the cannabis industry’s need to normalize its relations with financial institutions.

Safe Harbor Services’ credit union banked $3 billion in cannabis funds last year, part of a vast but fairly under-the-radar ecosystem where businesses are building rapport with smaller independent financial institutions like regional credit unions. There’s a lot to know to make sure that it’s a productive relationship, and federal reform is only one piece of the puzzle. Much of the work falls to the cannabis business, of course.

Here, we spoke with Safe Harbor Services Vice President Amanda McComb about some of the recent trends and changes that she’s seen in banking the cannabis industry.

Eric Sandy: Could provide a bit of a biographical sketch of Safe Harbor, as of early 2021, and the scope of how the business is interacting with cannabis businesses?

Amanda McComb: We started our cannabis banking program in 2015 and have since gone through 15 state and federal exams. So, it's been a long haul, most specifically just for the cannabis program to make sure that we were staying in compliance and doing it in a safe and sound way. We also started a national [cannabis] program back in 2017. A lot of our clients that we bank here in Colorado were going out of state, and we wanted to follow them out of state because it's really important for us to see all of their business—to be able to stand in front of the money and say that they're legitimate businesses and that they're operating within compliance, within their regulations. So, we started following them out of state and realized really quickly that we couldn't be the only financial institution to bank the nation as a whole. We started working with other financial institutions to give them a compliance program that had obviously gone through multiple exams and had feedback from our regulators that we'd really tried to fine-tune.

So, we have about seven or eight different financial institutions that we work with throughout the nation. Here in 2021 we’re actually consolidating all of our cannabis-related initiatives into a new company called Safe Harbor financial. It’s combining those relationships with financial institutions and our relationships with cannabis clients and putting it all together in one company and then expanding the services that we offer to the industry. We're working on lending and other initiatives to support the industry and bring them more normalized banking, because, as I'm sure you know, they just haven't had a lot of normalized banking or lending or investments. The CEO of [Safe Harbor’s] credit union is essentially stepping down from the credit union and running this new company, focusing all of her efforts on all things cannabis-related and then moving into other ventures like virtual currencies and things that might be of use to the cannabis space at some point.

This is a developing story. It has been updated to reflect the Senate’s amended passage of House Bill 2 at 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time March 31.

The New Mexico Legislature worked overtime, but adult-use cannabis legalization is now steered toward Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk after the House and Senate voted to pass legislation during a special session March 31.

The lower chamber cleared the three-time amended adult-use bill, 38-32, Wednesday afternoon, while the upper chamber added one more amendment before passing the bill, 22-15, Wednesday night on the Senate floor, where the bill previously stalled during the legislature’s 60-day regular session that concluded March 20, which sparked Lujan Grisham’s call for the special session.

The House reconvened shortly after the Senate’s passage to approve the upper chamber’s amendment to the bill, officially sending it to Lujan Grisham for signing—with her ink, New Mexico will become the 18th state to legalize adult-use cannabis.

One key amendment adopted in special session House Bill 2, which was a continuation of H.B. 12, the Cannabis Regulation Act that the body passed Feb. 26, includes raising the excise tax on cannabis products from 12% to 18% over the course of six years, beginning in 2024, according to chief sponsor Rep. Javier Martinez (D). Under the bill, roughly 4% of the excise tax would be distributed back to the local communities where the cannabis is sold, whether it’s a city or county municipality, Martinez said on the floor Wednesday.

The House Tax Committee approved the amended excise tax portion of the bill during the first day of the special session on March 30.

The New Mexico Legislature is working overtime, but adult-use cannabis legalization is now closer to reaching Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk after the House passed an amended bill and the Senate took up an expungement measure during a special session March 31.

The lower chamber cleared the adult-use bill, 38-32, while the expungement measure for certain low-level cannabis convictions drew a 23-13 vote in the Senate, where the overall bill previously stalled during the legislature’s 60-day regular session that concluded March 20, which sparked Lujan Grisham’s call for the special session.

One key amendment adopted in House Bill 2, which was a continuation of H.B. 12, the Cannabis Regulation Act that the body passed Feb. 26, includes raising the excise tax on cannabis products from 12% to 18% over the course of six years, beginning in 2024, according to chief sponsor Rep. Javier Martinez. Under the bill, roughly 4% of the excise would be distributed back to the local communities where the cannabis is sold, whether it’s a city or county municipality, Martinez said on the floor Wednesday.

The House Tax Committee approved the amended excise tax portion of the bill during the first day of the special session on March 30.

“As we embark on building a brand-new industry and we get to set the rules of the game for how this industry will play out … this is a good opportunity to actually raise revenue,” Martinez said. “If we’re going to do this, we might as well get the most we can get without overdoing it to the point where we are maybe undercutting our efforts to get rid of the illicit markets. So, that’s the number we settled on—18% excise tax.”

According to Martinez, economic projections indicate that adult-use legalization would create more than 11,000 jobs and generate $28.6 million in tax revenue in the first year of implementing a program, which H.B. 2 aims to activate no later than April 1, 2022.

PORTLAND, Ore., March 31, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Identifying opportunities to implement energy efficiency practices in cannabis cultivation environments can be a complicated and time-consuming process. Consequently, implementing those practices once they are identified can be a similarly arduous task. 

“Creating a program from scratch can be daunting. Energy efficiency program managers planning, designing and implementing programs for emerging industries can sometimes feel that cannabis cultivators are challenging to effectively reach and serve,” said Gretchen Schimelpfenig, technical director of Resource Innovation Institute (RII). “But the building systems used in cultivation facilities have high-performance savings opportunities worth pursuing and utilities have the tools to support them.”

Capturing these opportunities and subsequently verifying the savings they produce requires securing funding and supporting programs for new high-performance technologies such as horticultural lighting and centralized heating, ventilation, air conditioning and dehumidification (HVACD) equipment and controls systems, according to Schimelpfenig. It is precisely why RII recently released its “Program Design & Market Engagement Primer for Energy Efficiency Utilities & Program Implementers Serving Cannabis Cultivators.” The Primer is available to utilities and implementers who join RII’s Utility Working Group and join in the collective effort to develop and promote utility best practices related to the rapid emergence of indoor agriculture, including the cultivation of cannabis and other crops in both greenhouses and warehouses.

The first-of-its-kind guide is a product of significant contributions by RII’s 2020 Utility Working Group and provides unique insights to implementers seeking to enhance their engagement with utility programs. 

“In the Primer, members will find peer-reviewed overviews and guidance from leading utility programs serving cannabis producers in 11 key regulated markets throughout North America, from California to Massachusetts to Michigan to Quebec,” Schimelpfenig said. “It has a comprehensive and detailed overview of nearly 60 different efficiency programs. We hope that utilities and program implementers will come to rely upon it as a resource for the priority knowledge they need when working with cannabis cultivators.”

The Utility Primer includes:

Oklahoma’s House Bill 2646 would make minor changes to the state’s already established medical cannabis guidelines and regulations. It would clear up any uncertainty and provide more regulation for the growing industry.

According to the bill summary, some of the critical changes HB 2646 would make to the medical cannabis statute are as follows:

The State Department of Health (OSDH) would have 90 days to review a grower, processor, or dispensary license application instead of two weeks.The bill would allow an individual to put a medical cannabis dispensary near school properties that are not used for classroom instruction curriculum and are not on the same campus as a building used for such do not constitute a school.In addition to rehabilitation, the bill would allocate 25% of the 7% sales tax to the OSDH from drug and alcohol prevention.The bill would require medical cannabis businesses to submit a certificate of compliance with relevant zoning codes when requesting to change locations.The legislation would no longer require the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) or ODSH to notify a business 24 hours before inspection or investigation.It puts penalties in place for medical cannabis businesses who inaccurately or fraudulently report sales or purchases.Would permit the ODSH to issue a written order to any licensee suspected to violate rules and regulations unless he or she was given a written warning 30 days prior. Unless the licensee requests an administrative hearing within 30 days after receiving the order, the hearing becomes final.Prohibits individuals involved in management operations of a medical cannabis business or facility who had its license revoked, not renewed or surrendered from certain violations from receiving a business, research facility, education facility or waste disposal facility license.Forbid testing laboratories contracted with the OMMA from being owned or employing any individual who has interest in a medical cannabis business or any individual or family member who has a pending licensing application, is a member of the board of directors or is individually financially interested in any medical cannabis license or business.It would no longer require medical cannabis products to have a label indicating the product contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

RELATED: Oklahoma House Passes Bill to Limit Medical Cannabis Licenses

A complete list of revisions can be found here.

The legislation will head to the Senate Appropriations Committee next for approval. 

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Following quick votes in Senate and Assembly committees Tuesday evening, the New York legislature passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act and sent it to Gov. Andrew Cuomo—who has pledged to sign it into law and make New York the 17th state to legalize adult-use cannabis. His signature is expected today.

The law will go into effect immediately, as of Cuomo’s signing, but the actual marketplace is expected to take upwards of two years to develop before sales are open to the eligible public. 

"For generations, too many New Yorkers have been unfairly penalized for the use and sale of adult-use cannabis, arbitrarily arrested and jailed with harsh mandatory minimum sentences. After years of tireless advocacy and extraordinarily hard work, that time is coming to an end in New York State," Cuomo said in a public statement. 

Since he reelection, when candidate Cynthia Nixon made cannabis a central issue of New York state politics, Cuomo has vocally supported the idea of cannabis legalization. Originally, it was part of the 2021 state budget plan, but lawmakers decided to tackle it as a separate issue.

“Make no mistake about it, New York has made history by ensuring marijuana reform is on track to become the law of the land," Melissa Moore, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said. "Through the hard work of people impacted by prohibition, advocates and championlawmakers, like Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senator LizKrueger, New York has taken bold action to put a nail in the coffin of the waron drugs."

According to a state press release, the New York law contains the following provisions:

New York’s adult-use cannabis legislation efforts gained official approval in the Senate Committee on Finance during a brief meeting Tuesday morning, when the 23-member body opened Senate Bill S854A for discussion before voting to clear it.

In addition to acting as the committee chair, Sen. Liz Krueger (D) is the primary sponsor of the bill, the “Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act,” which she first introduced seven years ago. The bill recently picked up steam March 28, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announced an agreement to move forward on it after months of debate, which included Cuomo’s 30-day amendment plan.

The Senate Finance Committee members united Tuesday morning to show their support of Krueger’s sponsorship efforts, but they remained mixed in their individual support of the legislation.

“Madam Chair, thank you very much,” Sen. John Liu (D) said. “I just want to congratulate you on a really long, persistent and hard-fought road, and I think this legislation is landmark for New York, as well as far beyond, and I’m in full support.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Thomas O’Mara (R) said he did not want to debate the legislation in committee, specifically regarding the finance issues related to the bill, but he said he anticipates a full and robust debate and discussion of the legislation on the floor of the upper chamber Tuesday afternoon.

O’Mara was one of five senators who opposed clearing the measure through committee; he was joined by Sens. George Borrello (R), Patrick Gallivan (R), Sue Serino (R) and James Tedisco (R).

S.B. S854 would provide the regulatory framework for adult-use cannabis, construct a licensing and taxation system for adult-use sales, create a social and economic equity program to assist individuals impacted by cannabis enforcement and expand the state's existing medical cannabis and hemp programs, as reported in a press release by ny.gov.

Cuomo’s administration projects that legalization could generate 30,000 to 60,000 jobs across New York and that tax collection from the program could reach $350 million annually, the release states.

"For generations, too many New Yorkers have been unfairly penalized for the use and sale of adult-use cannabis, arbitrarily arrested and jailed with harsh mandatory minimum sentences. After years of tireless advocacy and extraordinarily hard work, that time is coming to an end in New York state," Cuomo said. "Legalizing adult-use cannabis isn't just about creating a new market that will provide jobs and benefit the economy -- it's also about justice for long-marginalized communities and ensuring those who've been unfairly penalized in the past will now get a chance to benefit. I look forward to signing this legislation into law."

According to the release, New York's Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act contain the following provisions:

The Office of Cannabis Management would be required to enforce a comprehensive regulatory framework regarding adult-use, medical and cannabinoid hemp, governed by a five-member board, with three members appointed by the governor, one appointed by each house. It would increase the number of allotted caregivers per patient, allow home cultivation of medical cannabis for patients and permit people with a substantial list of medical conditions to access medical cannabis.The agreement would establish a two-tier licensing structure that would allow for an extensive range of producers by separating processors and growers from owning licensing stores.It would establish a social and economic equity plan to assist individuals impacted by cannabis enforcement. It would also create a goal to have 50% of licenses go to a minority or women-owned business enterprise, service-disabled veterans or distressed farmers.The legislation proposes to establish a new cannabis tax structure. The wholesale excise tax would be moved to the retail level with a 9% state excise tax, the local excise tax would be 4% of the retail price, and counties would receive 25% of the local retail tax revenue with 75% going to the municipality.[AL2] The agreement would also permit the sale of hemp flower and smokable hemp forms only when adult-use stores are operating.Allow for adults 21 years and older to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate outside of their home. Permit individuals 21 years and older to grow three mature and three immature plants for personal use.

Local governments are permitted to opt-out of retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licensing by Dec. 31, 2021, or nine months after the date the legislation is effective, the release states.

"I am very proud that we finally have a three-way agreed bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in a way that foregrounds racial justice, while balancing safety with economic growth, encouraging new small businesses, and significantly diminishing the illegal market," said Sen. Liz Krueger, the primary sponsor of the bill and chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities. I believe we have achieved that in this bill, as well as addressing the concerns and input of stakeholders across the board. When this bill becomes law, New York will be poised to implement a nation-leading model for what marijuana legalization can look like."

DENVER, March 29, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Vangst, the cannabis industry’s premier talent resource, announced that it is now offering a new Executive Talent service, and Jennifer Bedford will join the company as the vice president of Executive Talent. In her role at Vangst, Bedford will support the emerging cannabis market with strategic executive searches to recruit rapid-growth leadership teams.
Photo by Sarah Waters 
Jennifer Bedford is the vice president of the new Executive Talent service at Vangst. 

Today, more than 210,000 people are directly employed by the cannabis industry with a 75% growth in employment over the last two years. As cannabis companies increase their ranks and states continue to legalize, Vangst’s new Executive Talent service will secure leadership-level talent with Bedford’s expertise. Vangst now offers exec-level recruiting to assess the complex requirements, experiences and skill sets to scale the needs of these quickly evolving enterprises.

“Before hiring Jennifer at Vangst, we engaged her for our VP of Revenue search. It was hands down the best experience I’ve ever had with an executive recruiter,” said Karson Humiston, founder and CEO of Vangst. “She connected us with leaders at Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Vettery, LinkedIn, and all the major tech-hiring companies and presented us with so many ‘unicorn’ candidates that it was honestly hard to make a decision around who to hire. She was extremely thorough and included backdoor reference checks and performance assessments; I felt like I had the full picture on each candidate.”

As a 20-year veteran headhunter, Bedford is an expert in partnering with founders, executives and investors, and will execute leadership-level searches at Vangst. She comes from Signal Partners, a top Los Angeles executive search firm built to service investor-backed and owned operations, where she launched its cannabis practice. Prior to Signal Partners, Bedford serviced the consumer-facing tech sector and before that cut her teeth at Korn Ferry International.

“I’ve had my eye on Vangst since its inception and knew that Karson was in a unique class of founders ready-made for this explosive consumer sector,” Bedford said.  “With the coming hyper-verticalization of labor marketplaces, I knew Vangst would be the one to watch in the cannabis industry. It’s such a privilege to join this killer team and complement Vangst with a recruiting offering at the executive level.”

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New Mexico lawmakers concluded their 60-day legislative session March 20, but Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham decided their work is not done without an adult-use cannabis bill on her desk. The Democrat executive announced Friday, March 26 that she will call the legislature into a special session on March 30 to take care of the unfinished business.

House Bill 12, which cleared the lower chamber of the state legislature, 39-31, on Feb. 26, would legalize adult-use sales and consumption for those 21 and older, allow possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower or 16 grams of cannabis extract, levy a 12% excise tax on cannabis and provide reinvestments toward communities disproportionately affected by prohibition. 

But the Senate ran out of time to act, as the upper chamber postponed floor debate on the measure to focus on other bills, according to the Associated Press. At the conclusion of the 60-day session, Lujan Grisham said rushing through amendments in the final hours of a session, when there’s a mountain of work to be done, is not the right way to accomplish something of the magnitude as adult-use legalization.

As a result, she called the March 30 special session to take up a pair of economic and job creation items that were left unfinished: legalizing adult-use cannabis and expanding the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA), Lujan Grisham announced in a press release Friday.

“I am grateful to those legislative leaders and members who have expressed enthusiasm about returning to the people’s work so soon after a challenging 60-day session,” she said. “The unique circumstances of the session, with public health safeguards in place, in my view prevented the measures on my call from crossing the finish line. While I applaud the legislature and staff for their incredible perseverance and productivity during the 60-day in the face of these challenges, we must and we will forge ahead and finish the job on these initiatives together for the good of the people and future of our great state.”

With a bipartisan agreement on the importance of the legalization initiative—lawmakers from both parties approached a balanced compromise measure in the final hours of the 60-day session—Lujan Grisham intends to see through final passage of the potentially significant economic driver, she said.

Political momentum is quickly picking up speed in some U.S. states, with the prospect of adult-use legalization shining brightly in New York and New Mexico—with more to come. Those two states may very well cast formal votes on the question of legalization as soon as next week. We’re eagerly anticipating some statehouse action.

But that’s not the only narrative we’re following.

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

Delaware is moving forward with its own legislation. The Health and Human Development Committee cleared House Bill 150, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, on March 24. The legislation would create adult-use legal framework, including opportunities for small businesses to be licensed. Read more Students at Mercer County Community College interested in entering the New Jersey cannabis industry after graduation can now receive industry training and education while in school. Read more 
New Jersey has set aside a solid portion of cannabis licenses for smaller operators. This week, we took a close look at what the state’s microbusiness license could accomplish for the market. Read more 
The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on the marketing messages that proliferate in the CBD space. A recent campaign, dubbed Operation CBDeceit, is moving in on certain companies. Read more New Mexico legislators will convene March 30 for a special session to tie up some loose ends on a cannabis bill that nearly jumped the hurdle this month. Read more 

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

The New York Times: A recent deal in New York “paves the way for a potential $4.2 billion industry, with millions of dollars in sales tax revenue reinvested in minority communities each year.” Read more 
ABC News: “France’s government has launched a two-year nationwide experiment with medical cannabis with a view to eventual legalization.” Read more 
Marijuana Moment: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signaled an interest in bumping up the decriminalization timeline of his state’s cannabis law—from 2024 to sometime this summer. Read more 
FloridaPolitics: Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried voiced support for adult-use cannabis legalization. She is expected to run for governor next year. Read more 
NMPoliticalReport: As New Mexico lawmakers gather in Albuquerque next week, rural residents are citing a need for social equity policies in any law that comes out of the legislative process. Read more ]]>
Democrats in the Delaware House and Gov. John Carney are on the same side of the political aisle, but whether they’re on the same side of the adult-use cannabis legalization aisle remains to be seen.

The Health and Human Development Committee cleared House Bill 150, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, on March 24. The legislation would create adult-use legal framework, including opportunities for small businesses to be licensed. It would also ensure people living in areas disproportionately affected by prohibition have equal access to the market, according to a press release by chief sponsor Rep. Ed Osienski.

Behind the support of six other sponsors and nine co-sponsors—all Democrat—in the 41-member House, H.B. 150 also aims at shutting down the illicit market by diverting demand from illegal enterprises, and empowering law enforcement with the ability to ensure a safe, legal market for the cultivation, sale and adult-use of cannabis, Osienski said.

“Support for adult recreational marijuana has been growing for years in Delaware and across the country. We have seen other states successfully enact policies that established a safe and legal market for cannabis, and we have studied those laws to craft the best policy for Delaware,” he said. “We believe we have a solid bill that has the support of the public, and we believe we have the political will to pass this bill into law.”

A University of Delaware poll in 2018 indicated that 61% of Delaware voters support legalizing adult-use cannabis. Support for legalization has also reached 68% nationally, according to a November 2020 Gallup Poll.

Neighboring New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an adult-use cannabis legalization bill last month, following voters’ approval of a constitutional amendment in the November 2020 election. Up in New England, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine also have legalized adult-use cannabis.

Students at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) interested in entering the New Jersey cannabis industry after graduation can now receive industry training and education while in school.

Back by popular demand, MCCC announced on March 22, it would offer a second medical cannabis training course in May.

Sarah Trent, CEO of Valley Wellness, a medical cannabis dispensary, designed the course to educate, train and prepare individuals for entry-level positions in the cannabis industry.

"Working in the cannabis industry isn't just about knowing how to work in a grow or knowing how to be patient-facing in a dispensary," Trent said. "Really, the best staff members, even for entry-level positions, have a well-rounded education, and so I developed a class that is made to make that well-rounded employee."

The course was initially only offered at Raritan Valley Community College (RCVV) in New Jersey but recently expanded to MCCC as enrollment and demand began to increase, Trent said.

"I ran the program three times in 2020 with about 50 students each, and after the ballot initiative passed, we saw numbers really increase," Trent said. "So, we just started running the class at Mercer and ran the first class starting Jan. 25, 2021, where we had roughly 70 people enrolled in that class. And right now, I'm currently running a March class at Raritan Valley, and we have over 80 students."

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., March 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- PRESS RELEASE -- A research team comprised of Byers Scientific, Iowa State University and Texas-based odor experts report isolation and identification of the volatile chemical which appears to be primarily responsible for the downwind skunky-like environmental odor complaints which have been commonly reported for commercial cannabis and industrial hemp growing operations.

By employing a triangulation approach of analytical chemistry (i.e., SPME fiber, Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry and GC-Olfactometry analysis), leaf enclosure study and field observation, the team of researchers were able to isolate, identify, measure and ultimately conclude that the compound 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol (i.e., 321 MBT), is the primary source of the traditionally objectionable odor of cannabis.

The compound is also the same odorous volatile chemical which has previously been reported to carry responsibility for the skunky-like aroma and flavor defect in light-struck beer.

Historically, the objectionable odor of cannabis has often been tied to terpenes (i.e., unspecified members from among the vast array of naturally occurring volatile hydrocarbons which are more commonly associated with the familiar aromas of citrus and other fruits, eucalyptus leaves and hydrocarbon solvents, etc.). This reported discovery of the actual link between 'skunky' cannabis and 321 MBT supports the more persuasive expectation of a sulfur component within the chemical profile of the cannabis plant emission. In retrospect, the relationship between 'skunky' beer and cannabis should probably not be surprising since the 'skunky' beer odor comes from hops which are in the same plant family (Cannabaceae) as cannabis and hemp. Perhaps more surprising; however, previous odorant prioritization efforts by the collaborative consultants have also shown MBT to represent an odor impact priority for actual skunk oil, as extracted from skunk musk gland. In these prior investigations, MBT was adjudged as second in odor impact priority, second only to E-2-butene-1-thiol.

While this discovery is exciting and represents true progress in the scientific understanding of the source of the distinctive and divisive odor of cannabis, the researchers caution that this is only the first critical step in fully researching this issue. Leaf enclosure studies reveal other thiols present in the plant emissions and, more importantly, other compounds in the plant's gas-phase emissions and atmospheric reactions may significantly affect the perception and measurement of 321 MBT. Efforts are currently underway to further evaluate the odor and the most appropriate manner of mitigation.

 

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On Feb. 22, 2021 Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, which established the framework for a legal, adult-use cannabis industry in New Jersey. By some estimates, recreational cannabis may grow to be a billion-dollar industry in the state over the next few years. Many have worried that much of this growing economic pie may be grabbed by large, well-capitalized cannabis companies from out of state that have already established themselves in those other markets where recreational cannabis was legalized earlier than New Jersey.

Enter the microbusiness license.

Per New Jersey’s cannabis licensing laws, a microbusiness is a cannabis business with strong established connections with New Jersey that is subject to certain size and operational limitations. A significant number of licenses to operate in the cannabis industry will be earmarked solely for such microbusinesses. As such, microbusinesses will only need to compete against one another during the application process, rather than needing to compete directly with larger, more established businesses. This potentially gives entrepreneurial start-up companies seeking to delve into the cannabis industry a path forward without getting pushed aside by multi-state operators (MSOs) in the frenzy once New Jersey begins accepting applications.

To qualify as a microbusiness, the business must meet the following criteria:

All of the owners of the business must be current New Jersey residents, and must have resided in New Jersey for the past two consecutive years.At least 51% of the owners, directors, officers, and employees must be residents of the municipality where the business will be located (or at least an adjoining municipality).The business can have no more than 10 employees.The business operating space can be no more than 2,500 square feet (and in the case of cultivators, can have a height of no more than 24 feet).There are various limitations on the monthly volume of cannabis that the business can be involved in, which vary somewhat depending on the type of license being applied for (in some cases limits of 1,000 cannabis plants per month, or limits of 1,000 pounds of usable cannabis per month or other cannabis products or resin, or other similar restrictions).Conversely, no owner, director, officer, or other person with a financial interest and decision-making authority in any other cannabis business (whether that business is a microbusiness or not) is permitted to have any financial interest in a microbusiness.

These are not insignificant restrictions, but companies that can plan to fit within the regulations may ease their path to obtaining a license to operate a cannabis business. According to the law, at least 25% of all New Jersey cannabis licenses will be granted solely to microbusinesses (and at least 10% of each class of licenses must go to microbusinesses). In addition, while the legislation provides that no more than 37 cannabis cultivator licenses will be issued in New Jersey during the first two years after enactment, that cap does not apply to microbusinesses.

The law provides for six different types of licenses that businesses may seek in connection with the recreational cannabis market:

Reliable heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment can cost upward of $300,000 or more for a 5,000-square-foot growing facility in the cannabis space. Proper lighting might cost just as much.

But those environmental controls become less effective for an ideal harvest if they are not complemented by the intelligent application of air distribution through engineered ductwork, which isn’t overly complicated nor expensive in the grand scheme of a productive room, according to Geoff Brown, vice president of technical solutions for Quest.

Often an afterthought, airflow is currently the biggest hump for growers in relation to environmental controls, but it doesn’t have to be, Brown said. Through Quest’s partnership with Hawthorne Gardening Company, growers now have access to the Airflow Mapping service, a computer-aided analysis that calculates or predicts where a diffuser’s air will travel. In turn, growers have access to custom solutions to their specific facilities without making major changes to those facilities.

Featured here, Brown shares more about Airflow Mapping, the importance of intelligent air distribution, working with manufacturers, return on investment and other pertinent knowledge to help avoid oversights associated with environment controls.

Q: Why is airflow so important in cannabis cultivation?

A: Ultimately it just comes down to building productive plants. TIP 1 Good air circulation at the leaf is what allows the leaf to breathe, to get rid of the oxygen around the leaf and to absorb more CO2 to make sure that the transpiration is happening and that you don’t have a locally deficient vapor pressure deficit (VPD). It’s really how the system needs to work. In my opinion, airflow is the single most overlooked thing in cannabis right now, or at least it is the next hump to get over.

Reliable heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment can cost upward of $300,000 or more for a 5,000-square-foot growing facility in the cannabis space. Proper lighting might cost just as much.

But those environmental controls become less effective for an ideal harvest if they are not complemented by the intelligent application of air distribution through engineered ductwork, which isn’t overly complicated nor expensive in the grand scheme of a productive room, according to Geoff Brown, vice president of technical solutions for Quest.

Often an afterthought, airflow is currently the biggest hump for growers in relation to environmental controls, but it doesn’t have to be, Brown said. Through Quest’s partnership with Hawthorne Gardening Company, growers now have access to the Airflow Mapping service, a computer-aided analysis that calculates or predicts where a diffuser’s air will travel. In turn, growers have access to custom solutions to their specific facilities without making major changes to those facilities.

Featured here, Brown shares more about Airflow Mapping, the importance of intelligent air distribution, working with manufacturers, return on investment and other pertinent knowledge to help avoid oversights associated with environment controls.

Q: Why is airflow so important in cannabis cultivation?

A: Ultimately it just comes down to building productive plants. Good air circulation at the leaf is what allows the leaf to breathe, to get rid of the oxygen around the leaf and to absorb more CO2 to make sure that the transpiration is happening and that you don’t have a locally deficient vapor pressure deficit (VPD). It’s really how the system needs to work. In my opinion, airflow is the single most overlooked thing in cannabis right now, or at least it is the next hump to get over.

Thirty U.S. senators attached their names to the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021, legislation that was reintroduced March 23 in the upper chamber of Congress. Among them, seven Republicans are on board.

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) are leading the charge as primary sponsors of the bill, which would create protections for financial institutions that provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses. The Senate version of the bill comes on the heels of SAFE Banking being refiled in the House on March 18, where it carries more than 100 co-sponsors. The lower chamber overwhelmingly passed a standalone version of the bill in 2019, and then House members passed the measure two more times as part of federal coronavirus relief bills in 2020. 

None of those previous efforts cleared the Senate, where there now lies new optimism with Democrats taking control of a 50-50 split via Vice President Kamala Harris representing the tiebreaker vote. In the last Congress, the SAFE Banking Act of 2019 had 35 senators signed on for sponsorship, including then-Sen. Harris, but former Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) never acted on calendaring it for floor debate.

Many state-legal medicinal or adult-use cannabis businesses are denied access to the banking system because banks fear they may be prosecuted under federal law given the ongoing federal restrictions on cannabis, Merkley said in a press release March 23. The lack of access to bank accounts, credit cards and checks has forced some state-legal cannabis businesses to operate in cash, opening the door to tax evasion and to a dangerous pattern of robberies, including one that resulted in the murder of a store clerk in Portland, Ore., Merkley said.

“No one working in a store or behind a register should have to worry about experiencing a traumatic robbery at any moment,” Merkley said. “That means we can’t keep forcing legal cannabis businesses to operate entirely in cash—a nonsensical rule that is an open invitation to robbery and money laundering. Let’s make 2021 the year that we get this bill signed into law so we can ensure that all legal cannabis businesses have access to the financial services they need to help keep their employees safe.”

Helping motor more than $17.5 billion of legal cannabis sales in the U.S. in 2020, there were 515 banks and 169 credit unions providing services to cannabis-related businesses at the end of last year, according to Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) quarterly cannabis banking update. But, like Merkley said, not all cannabis-related businesses have access to those financial institutions, and those financial institutions don’t have guaranteed safe harbor for taking on clients who operate in a sector that is not federally legal.

In December 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced proposed settlements with six CBD companies accused of making a broad range of unsubstantiated health claims, including that CBD can treat cancer, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, and chronic pain, among others. Nicknamed “Operation CBDeceit,” the enforcement sweep was part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to protect consumers from false, deceptive, and misleading health claims made in advertisements on websites, through social media, and on other platforms. These settlements became final in early March 2021.

For those who have been monitoring regulatory enforcement relating to CBD claims, the types of claims listed in the FTC’s Complaints are familiar reading. Prior FTC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement has focused on products that featured claims of treating chronic diseases and health conditions similar to the claims at issue in the “Operation CBDeceit” settlements. In that respect, these settlements do not differ from prior enforcement.

In other respects, though, these settlements are different from prior FTC enforcement on CBD claims. By including multiple companies and announcing all settlements at once, the CBDeceit announcement was coordinated to send an authoritative message to the CBD industry, broadly that the law requires companies to have robust evidence known as “competent and reliable scientific evidence” to support their health claims, a standard that applies to health claims for all consumer products.

These settlements also name not just the company as a respondent, but also individuals in their official capacity as corporate officers. Given the significant degree of entrepreneurial activity in the CBD and hemp industries, this should be understood as an indication that the FTC will look to hold individuals liable as a way of ensuring compliance with the settlement agreement, particularly where the respondent company is comprised of only a few people. In addition, five of the six settlements included monetary components ranging from $20,000 to $85,000, which will be used to provide consumer refunds, called “redress.”

The respondent companies are also required to notify consumers about the settlements per prescribed terms. For example, the Easybutter LLC settlement requires the company to provide a notice on all of their social media accounts (including any Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube accounts) and on the first page of their websites. Such notice must link to a copy of the Consent Order (settlement agreement), along with a toll-free telephone number and an email address for the redress administrator. The notice must be posted not later than three days after the effective date of the Order and for at least one year after the redress period ends. In addition, the companies must use a form letter attached to the Consent Orders to directly notify consumers who purchased their products about the FTC’s charges. This notice requirement is different from the vast majority of FTC settlements involving health claims.

So, what does this mean? Although these settlements didn’t break new ground on the kinds of claims the regulators are targeting with regard to CBD products, they signal heightened attention on an industry that has proliferated exponentially over the last couple of years. Health claims have long been of interest to the FTC. Given this and the transition to the Biden administration, the CBD industry should expect more settlements like these in 2021.