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Rhode Island has delayed a medical cannabis dispensary licensing lottery, which was originally planned for the first week of August, due to an administrative appeal brought forth by one of the rejected lottery applicants.

The Providence Journal reported that Office of Cannabis Regulation Chief Matthew Santacroce said July 27 that the lottery to award six new licenses won’t be rescheduled “until that appeal has run its course.”

The state received 45 applications from 28 different companies in December, and subsequently qualified 24 applicants for the lottery, according to the news outlet.

The state has identified the four companies that did not qualify for the lottery as Enlite RI Inc., Livity Compassion Center, Atlas Enterprises Inc. and the Edward O. Hawkins Center Inc., but has not indicated which company is appealing its exclusion from the lottery.

Rhode Island currently has three licensed medical cannabis dispensaries—The Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence, the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Portsmouth and the Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick—and former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration expanded the number of licenses in the state, with the application opening last summer.

A pair of Ohio lawmakers officially put their plans into action July 30 by formally filing adult-use cannabis legislation in the state’s House—the first of its kind in the state.

Democratic Reps. Casey Weinstein and Terrence Upchurch, both representing Northeast Ohio districts, first introduced their 180-page bill two weeks ago, which includes four major components: decriminalization, a cannabis excise tax, commerce and licensing, and medical cannabis.

More specifically, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control program would remain intact, and licensed operators could pursue additional licenses to enter the adult-use market.

According to a memo Weinstein and Upchurch sent to fellow House members two weeks ago, the bill would enable municipalities to restrict the type and number of cannabis establishments operating within their jurisdictions and require the Department of Commerce to adopt rules related to the licensure of cannabis businesses. And the bill would impose restrictions on the cultivation, processing, transportation and sale of cannabis.

Also, the legislation would allow adults 21 and older to buy and possess up to 5 ounces of cannabis and grow as many as 12 plants for personal use.

“It’s time to lead Ohio forward,” Weinstein said in a joint press release issued Friday. “This is a big step for criminal justice reform, for our veterans, for economic opportunity, and for our individual liberties.”

Colorado has created the Cannabis Business Office to promote social equity and provide financial and technical assistance to entrepreneurs in the industry, according to an AP News report.

The new agency, which was established by legislation passed during the state’s 2021 legislative session, will provide microloans and grants, as well as planning advice and other support, for business owners with a focus on economically disadvantaged areas, people of color, and those with past cannabis-related arrests and convictions, the news outlet reported.

The Cannabis Business Office falls under the jurisdiction of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and Trade, and will be supported by the state’s cannabis cash tax fund.

“The Cannabis Business Office shows our administration’s focus on growing this thriving industry that supports jobs and our economy,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement, according to AP News. “Where the federal government has fallen behind, Colorado will lead. Colorado is, and always has been, the best place to live, work, grow and sell cannabis."

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) awarded 55 cannabis retail licenses to 53 firms on July 29 in the first of three licensing lotteries aimed at improving social equity in the state’s adult-use market.

“Illinois has taken the most comprehensive approach in the country to putting social justice at the heart of cannabis legalization, and today is an important day in expanding the diversity of the industry—on top of all the work we’ve already done to expunge convictions and investing tens of millions of cannabis revenue into the communities hit hardest by the war on drugs,” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor to the Governor for Cannabis, in a public statement. “We look forward to seeing businesses get off the ground and into this space.”

The conditional licensees, which are listed in the IDFPR’s announcement here, were chosen from 626 finalists who scored 85% or higher on their applications.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new scoring process and created 110 additional cannabis retail licenses after some industry stakeholders pushed back last September, when only 21 applicants were included in a lottery to award 75 dispensary licenses.

Earlier this month, after lawsuits and lengthy delays, Pritzker’s office announced the series of three lotteries to award the 185 licenses.

As a guinea pig for adult-use cannabis legalization, Colorado is often a target for prohibitionists trying to magnify what they consider shortcomings of the first state-legal market.

Two key arguments repeated by lawmakers voting against reform efforts include their concerns about how legalization might impact youth as well as the possible increase of impaired drivers on their state roadways.

In Minnesota, where House members discussed an adult-use bill for roughly five hours in May, before it passed via a 72-61 vote, Republican Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen took aim at Colorado in his efforts to deter passage of House File 600. While H.F. 600 did clear the House, it did not make its way through the Senate.

“Since recreational marijuana was legalized [in Colorado], traffic deaths in drivers which tested positive for marijuana increased 135 percent while all other traffic deaths increased 24 percent,” he said. “So, one of the members said, ‘This doesn’t cause death.’ Well, it does with increased traffic death.”

Gruenhagen went on and said, “One other finding is that marijuana use ages 12 and older increased 30% and is 76% higher than the national average, currently ranking third in the nation in Colorado.”

Lawmakers who oppose adult-use legalization in other states that have debated or passed bills this year have echoed similar reservations before casting their no votes.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (July 2, 2021) -- PRESS RELEASE -- Bianchi & Brandt, a full-service business and litigation law firm with an emphasis on the cannabis and hemp industries, recently added social media coordinator Marley McIntosh to the practice. 

“Being able to bring my knowledge and continue to expand on my social media marketing skills at a firm like Bianchi & Brandt really excites me,” said McIntosh. “The cannabis industry is so intricate when it comes to social media due to the rules and regulations, not to mention the fact that it's an ever-changing industry. I’m looking forward to creating engaging, informative, and educational content to keep Bianchi & Brandt’s audiences in the know and also keep the firm top of mind as leading industry experts.”

McIntosh has experience working on social media marketing in a variety of industries. As a college football fan, a highlight in her career was having the opportunity to create content for the Oregon Ducks’ football team. She earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Oregon. 

“Bianchi & Brandt is thrilled to add Marley’s expertise to our high-growth firm,” said Laura Bianchi, partner of Bianchi & Brandt. “The cannabis industry is evolving daily and adding Marley to our team will allow us to effectively communicate this rapidly changing industry in the most effective and creative ways.”

Several states legalized adult-use cannabis during their 2021 legislative sessions, and while many industry hopefuls are eager to enter these new markets, most have not yet adopted regulations for cannabis business licenses.

So, what’s an entrepreneur to do?

According to Jay Czarkowski, co-founder of cannabis business consulting firm Canna Advisors, those looking to secure licenses in Connecticut, New Mexico, New York, Virginia and beyond can make plans now, while the rulemaking process is under way, to serve them well later, when the actual application becomes available.

“There are things one can do to stay ahead of the curve no matter where you’re at,” Czarkowski tells Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary.

Here, he shares four ways entrepreneurs can prepare for the cannabis licensing process.

In an effort to redefine the cannabis experience, Jushi Holdings Inc., a multistate operator and owner of cannabis retail, cultivation and processing licenses based in Boca Raton, Fla., has partnered with actor, producer and director Colin Hanks to bring his 'Hanks Kerchiefs' line to select BEYOND / HELLO retail stores. 

An out-of-state operator has dropped its lawsuit challenging Illinois’ cannabis licensing process, meaning that the state can now proceed with its plan for upcoming lotteries to award 185 new dispensary licenses.

Sozo Illinois Inc., whose parent company operates vertically integrated cannabis operations in Michigan, sued the state last week over its revised licensing plan, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled earlier this month.

The new licensing rules give priority to social equity applicants whose businesses are majority-owned by people from communities deemed disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, which deviates from the state’s original regulations that allowed applicants to commit to employing a certain number of people from those communities.

Sozo took aim at these new rules in its lawsuit, arguing that it structured its business and prepared its application under the initial rules allowing the company to qualify as a social equity applicant by hiring a certain number of employees from disadvantaged communities. The company said the change in regulations made it impossible for it to qualify for a license, and that the new rules discriminate against out-of-state operators, as well as violate the commerce, due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

The company sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent the state from issuing the licenses, but AP News reported that Sozo dropped the case on July 27, allowing the state to proceed with its licensing process.

In a long-awaited announcement, Colombia authorized exports of dried cannabis flower for medical purposes. For businesses in the country, it’s a move that increases the growth potential of the nascent cannabis industry.

Colombia had approved a regulatory framework in July 2016 governing the production, distribution, sale and export of seeds—as well as products like creams and other derivatives based on cannabis—but had prohibited the export of dried cannabis flower, fearing that such a move would allow diversion of legal cannabis products into the illicit marketplace.

The new decree, 811 issued July 23, modifies an earlier law that regulated the commercialization of medical cannabis, Justice Minister Wilson Ruiz said.

The new decree also allows manufacturers to produce goods such as oils, extracts,  textiles or food containing “non-psychoactive cannabis”—so long as they are limited to biomass containing less than 1% of THC. (Colombia does not make distinctions between “cannabis” and “hemp,” as in other countries, but rather uses the “psychoactive” nomenclature at the 1% THC content threshold.).

Colombia President Ivan Duque signed a decree ending "the ban on the export of dried flower" in an event organized at a facility owned by Clever Leaves, one of the 18 multinationals that grows medicinal cannabis in Colombia.

"Colombia starts to play big, and with this decree we are putting ourselves at the forefront in terms of regulatory competitiveness, at least in Latin America and the Caribbean," he said, noting that the country is no longer only working in a pharmaceutical market. “We are opening the space to do much more in cosmetics ... [including] food and beverages and even textiles,” the president said.

A pair of Mississippi lawmakers are hoping to restore the will of their constituents through drafting medical cannabis legislation, which they plan to release next week. If all goes according to plan, a special session could ensue by mid-August.

Mississippians were originally poised to gain access to the benefits of a medical cannabis program after two-thirds of voters passed Initiative 65 in the November 2020 election. The citizen-led ballot measure prevailed over Alternative 65A, a competing measure put forth by the Mississippi Legislature.

Industry advocacy leaders said Alternative 65A was a cynical effort by lawmakers to misdirect voters, and, if they actually wanted to put a medical cannabis program in place, they would have done it legislatively.

“Just like we saw in the 2018 victory in Utah, Mississippi voters have proven that medical marijuana legalization is politically viable in even the most conservative states in the country,” Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Steve Hawkins told Cannabis Business Times after the 2020 election. “This victory is especially significant considering voters were able to see past the Legislature’s attempt to derail Amendment 65 by proposing a confusing and unnecessary alternative initiative of their own.”

While Mississippi voters prevailed by majority on election night, passage of Initiative 65 was short-lived.

On May 14, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the voice of its people was not enough to influence public policy. Six of nine justices favored striking down Initiative 65 because of a signature gathering technicality stemming from the state’s outdated initiative process that put a five-district requirement mathematically at odds with the political structure of the state’s electorate following the 2000 Census, when Mississippi dropped to four congressional districts.

Columbus, OH – PRESS RELEASE – Today, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is formally launching its effort to legalize adult-use cannabis by submitting summary language of an initiated statute to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

“We are proposing to regulate marijuana for adult use, just like we do for alcohol. Our proposal fixes a broken system while ensuring local control, keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, and benefiting everyone,” said spokesman Tom Haren.

For consumers, the proposed law:

Legalizes and regulates the cultivation, manufacture, testing and sale of marijuana and marijuana products to adults aged 21 and up.  Legalizes home grow for adults aged 21 or older with a limit of 6 plants per person and 12 plants per person.

Haren believes everyone should support the robust regulatory and taxation system. While regular state and local sales taxes will also apply, included is a 10% cannabis tax rate on adult-use sales that would be allocated as follows:

36% of the tax will support social equity and jobs programs - if passed, it is estimated this could generate $150 million or more annually for social equity and jobs programs in Ohio.36% to provide funding for communities who host adult-use cannabis dispensaries - if passed, it is estimated this could generate $150 million or more annually for the communities who have adult-use dispensaries. 25% to fund education and treatment for individuals with addiction issues - if passed, this statute could generate $104 million or more annually to research and treat substance abuse in Ohio.3% to the Division of Cannabis Control to fund the regulatory and administrative costs of overseeing the adult use cannabis industry.

“Ohioans want this,” continued Haren. “They see marijuana legalization as inevitable. They want our leaders to seize the opportunity and take control of our future.”

NEW YORK,July 27, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – CleverLeaves Holdings Inc., a leading multinational operator and licensedproducer of pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoids, and Biopharmaceutical Research Company(BRC), a specialty pharmaceutical company that holds federal licenses forimporting, analyzing and manufacturing controlled substances in the U.S., announceda joint partnership with the intent to study the DNA sequence variation ofthree Clever Leaves’ cannabis cultivars as part of their Project Change Livescampaign. The University of California, Davis, through an accepted researchsponsorship from BRC, will lead the extraction and analysis of DNA to elucidategenetic variants taken from various genetic lines of Cannabis sativa.

Project ChangeLives is a U.S.-based initiative sponsored by Clever Leaves, whereby the companyhas pledged to contribute up to $25,000,000 retail value of medical cannabisproducts to any eligible U.S. organization to help advance scientific researchinto the potential medical benefits of cannabinoids. By sponsoring ProjectChange Lives, Clever Leaves is offering to provide a historic amount ofpharmaceutical-grade cannabis to leading research institutions in one of themost advanced pharmaceutical markets in the world.

UC Davis willbe the first major research institution to collaborate in the investigation ofClever Leaves’ Colombian and Portuguese, pharmaceutical-grade cannabis as partof Project Change Lives.

Clever Leaveswill provide three of its cultivars to BRC for analysis at its facilities.Researchers from UC Davis will extract DNA for sequencing and analysis from thecannabis samples at the BRC facilities. The UC Davis scientists will also testnew approaches to extract RNA from dried material. If successful, researcherswill analyze the data to quantify global gene expression and will use availablepipelines to determine differential gene expression between the three linessampled. These data will provide foundational information to initiate newcrosses and a breeding pipeline for the future to ensure the genetic variationof Cannabis sativacan be utilized to provide novel and unique medicinal cannabis for newpharmaceuticals.

Moreover,analysis of the completed data will reveal the correlation between specificgenotypes of cannabis and the biochemical phenotypes for cannabinoids andterpenes. Upon completion of the study, UC Davis intends to provide a reportthat provides insight into the genetic diversity of the lines and thefeasibility of RNA extraction and gene expression from dried Cannabis sativa material.These findings will be made widely available for the benefit of the medical andscientific community—a result that meets one of the key goals of Project ChangeLives. 

“We arehonored to collaborate with the UC Davis’ Plant Science department,” CleverLeaves CEO Kyle Detwiler said. “UC Davis consistently ranks as one of the topplant sciences programs in the world and shares our commitment to applying adeeper scientific rigor to cannabis research in order to further ourunderstanding behind the potentially life-saving applications of cannabinoidmedicine. We are truly excited that UC Davis has become the first U.S. researchinstitution to align with Project Change Lives, and we look forward to theexpansion of the initiative.” 

The explosive, unregulated growth of delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is coming with a dangerous consequence: Poison control centers across the country are reporting a rise in calls from those who have ingested the cannabinoid. 

At least four states have issued public warnings regarding the cannabinoid, according to local news reports: Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.

So far this year, as of July, the North Carolina Poison Control Center reported 157 cases related to delta-8, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Virginia is reporting "dozens" of calls this year.

The rise in calls can be attributed to a number of factors, from the market's lack of standards to delta-8's accessibility to minors.

But perhaps the most concerning cause for an increase in delta-8 poison center calls is due to mislabeling--in some cases, consumers hoping to buy these products may be purchasing unregulated, illegal cannabis without knowing.

"This is part and parcel for what happens when you have an unregulated market," says Jonathan Miller, general counsel for U.S. Hemp Roundtable. 

A bill to legalize medical cannabis in North Carolina has cleared its second Senate committee.

The Senate Finance Committee passed the legislation July 21, according to AP News.

The committee reviewed fees and revenues collected under the bill, and included amendments that would charge cannabis patients for ID cards, as well as require the state’s 10 licensed cannabis businesses to obtain licenses and send a portion of their monthly revenues to the state, the news outlet reported.

Another amendment stipulated that North Carolina’s medical cannabis program would be self-supporting and not require other state revenues to operate, according to AP News.

The legislation would allow patients with “debilitating medical conditions,” including cancer, epilepsy and HIV, to access cannabis products, and would allow cannabis businesses, licensed through a newly created state commission, to open up to four dispensaries. 

Arkansas True Grass is reviving its efforts to gather enough signatures to place an adult-use legalization measure on the state’s 2022 ballot, according to a 4029 TV News report.

The group previously tried to get the issue before voters in 2020, but fell short on signatures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization’s proposed constitutional amendment would charge the Arkansas Agriculture Department with regulating the legal adult-use marketplace, 4029 TV News reported, and would clear all prior cannabis-related convictions in the state. The proposal would also allow residents to grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home, according to the news outlet.

Arkansas True Grass has until July 22 to gather enough signatures to qualify its initiative for the 2022 ballot.

KELOWNA,British Columbia, July 26, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Allied Corp., an international medical companyfocused on creating and providing health solutions to address today’s medicalmental health issues, is pleased to commend the recent announcement made by theColombian authorities allowing for the export of dried cannabis flower fromColombia to countries where it is legal to do so.

On July23, 2021, Colombia President Ivan Duque Marquez signed a decree lifting aprohibition on exporting dried cannabis flower. The directive also allows forthe expansion of sales of cannabis-based medicines and streamlines regulatoryprocedures in Colombia. While only a few Colombian companies have been able toexport cannabis derivatives, such as cannabidiol (CBD) distillate and isolate,up until now, the export of dried flower from Colombia has been prohibited.

"Thismeans Colombia can enter to play a big role in the international market,"Duque said after signing the decree. “Latin American cannabis exports could beworth $6 billion.”

Alliedcontinues to produce to European Pharmacopeia quality assurance standards. Thiswill position Allied flower to be sold into countries where it is legal to doso.

“Wehave been anticipating this decree. With this announcement, Allied is excitedto showcase our flower in those countries where it is legal to do so,” AlliedCEO Calum Hughes said. “The care and attention that we believe our production teamputs into the flower yields a premium product with the smell, taste andaesthetics that are all appealing to the flower consumer. We believe that basedupon our industry leading genetics and experienced production team that Alliedwill flourish in this new market segment. In our view, the flower market isdifferent that the extract market in that the quality, appearance, smell andtaste win customer loyalty. With flower, it has been our observation that it isvery hard to hide any impurities with regards to taste, smell and aestheticquality. We are proud to bring to market the Colombian flower that Allied hasproduced.”

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The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission doled out six licenses July 24 to companies who will be able to produce and sell low-THC medical cannabis oil (containing a maximum of 5% THC) to the state’s registered patients.

Sixty-nine companies applied for the licenses, which state law caps at six, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Trulieve GA Inc., an affiliate of Florida-based Trulieve Cannabis Corp., and Botanical Sciences LLC, a company located in Glennville, won licenses to grow up to 100,000 square feet of medical cannabis, while FFD GA Holdings, TheraTrue Georgia LLC, Natures GA LLC and Treevana Remedy Inc. secured licenses to cultivate up to 50,000 square feet.

The companies will have one year to begin operations, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, and each licensee can open up to five dispensaries.

In 2019, Georgia established a regulated system for the production, processing and sale of medical cannabis oil, which patients had been legally able to possess since 2015, although they had no legal way to purchase it in the state.

Colombian legislative update now allows for the sale and export of raw cannabis materials, namely dried flower, to international marketsNew regulations position Colombia’s cultivators as leaders to supply the global cannabis market; dried cannabis flower continues to account for an estimated 50% of demand in major international markets, including U.S., Germany and AustraliaNew regulations allow for the manufacturing, sale and export of ingestible cannabinoid products in Colombia, increasing near-term revenue potential for Flora’s Kasa Wholefoods divisionFlora capitalizes on law change, signing a supply agreement with an international distributor based in South Africa to provide raw and finished medical cannabis productsUpdate allows for the promotion and advertising of cannabis brands and products in Colombia, increasing access to the growing Colombian cannabis market

TORONTO, July 26, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Flora Growth Corp., a leading all-outdoor cultivator and manufacturer of global cannabis products and brands, is pleased to announce that following an extensive consultation process, Colombia President Ivan Duque Marquez has accepted and signed into effect the revisions related to the existing Colombian cannabis laws. The reformed legislation is aimed at improving access to cannabis products for Colombians and positions Colombia as the leader to supply the global cannabis market.

Colombian Cannabis Cultivation

Located near the equator, select regions of Colombia have the ideal climate for the cultivation of cannabis 365 days a year. The country also boasts one of the world’s largest cut-flower industries, resulting in a labor force with substantial agricultural experience that can produce a high-quality cannabis product at low-cost. This combination of geographic factors and legislative updates positions Colombia as a major player in the international cannabis market due to its low-cost structure.

Flora’s Colombian cultivation facility, Cosechemos, has maximized this cultivation potential by achieving a production cost below $0.06 per gram (or roughly $27 per pound) of dried flower. This represents a 60% lower production cost than its closest competitor. With more than 12.5 hours of natural sunlight, natural water springs onsite and 247-plus acres of licensed all-outdoor organic cultivation, Flora Growth is well-positioned to benefit from this legislative update across a number of verticals.

Legislative Update Signifies Increased Revenue Potential

EDMONTON, AB, July 26, 2021 /CNW/ - PRESS RELEASE - Aurora Cannabis Inc., a Canadian cannabis company, announced today the appointment of Theresa Firestone to the company's Board of Directors, effective today. This is a newly created directorship that expands the Board to nine members, seven of whom are independent.

Firestone joins the Board following a distinguished career as a senior healthcare executive with leadership positions in Canada, Europe and Asia. An expert in strategic planning, operations and new business development, Firestone has served in various sectors such as retail, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and government. Her experience includes over 20 years of international P&L management, 15 years in senior roles at Pfizer Inc., over ten years at the Ontario Ministry of Health and seven years in retail and health and wellness, including Shoppers Drug Mart where she oversaw the design and launch of the company's Medical Cannabis business. In addition, Firestone has more than 20 years of public and private board experience including with Orion Biotechnology, Merus Labs International and several not-for-profit organizations.

Ronald Funk, Chairman of Aurora Cannabis, stated, "We are delighted to welcome Theresa to our Board of Directors. She brings to us extensive expertise in healthcare management and pharmaceuticals, global business restructuring, new business development and a proven ability to lead and manage change. Her background and well-defined skillset will be invaluable to us as we execute our strategic growth plans while managing costs more effectively. We look forward to benefitting from her many contributions to Aurora."

Firestone holds a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Guelph and completed the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard Business School. Accolades include induction into the Canadian Healthcare Marketing Hall of Fame, honored as one of 12 Outstanding Canadian Women by the Weizman Institute and awarded the prestigious Queen's Golden Jubilee medal.