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Indiana Sen. Karen Tallian has introduced two pieces of legislation that would legalize and regulate medical and adult-use cannabis, as well as hemp, according to a local WLWT report.

S.B. 87 would create a Cannabis Compliance Commission to regulate cannabis and hemp in the state, while S.B. 223 would decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis, WLWT reported. Currently, Indiana law allows cannabis possession charges for any amount of cannabis, according to the news outlet.

Tallian told WDRB that she has been working for a decade to reform Indiana’s cannabis laws, and that with more states adopting legalization, it is time for Indiana to embrace reform.

SMITHS FALLS, ON, Jan. 14, 2021 /CNW/ - PRESS RELEASE - Canopy Growth Corporation has announced that the company has filed an early warning report under National Instrument 62-103 in connection with the acquisition of an option to purchase 1,072,450 common shares of TerrAscend Corp., conditional upon the occurrence or waiver of amendments to federal laws of the United States to permit the general cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana (as defined in 21 U.S.C 802) or to remove the regulation of such activities from the federal laws of the United States. Upon the occurrence or waiver of the triggering event, the company may exercise the option and pay the balance of the purchase price in order to acquire the common shares subject to the option.

On Jan. 13, 2021, the company entered into an agreement with an existing shareholder of TerrAscend to acquire the option for aggregate consideration of approximately US$10.5 million. The acquisition of the option resulted in an increase in the company's interest in the common shares of approximately 0.7% on a partially diluted basis. In addition, since the previous early warning report filed by the company, the company has acquired beneficial ownership, control or direction over 22,474,130 common share purchase warrants (together with the acquisition of the option, the "acquisitions"), representing an increase in the company's interest in the common shares of approximately 10.9% on a partially diluted basis.

Immediately prior to the acquisitions, the company beneficially owned, and exercised control or direction over, 38,890,570 exchangeable shares of TerrAscend, representing 100% of the issued and outstanding exchangeable shares on a non-diluted basis and approximately 29% of the issued and outstanding common shares on a partially-diluted basis, assuming the conversion of the exchangeable shares into common shares following the occurrence or waiver of the triggering event.

Immediately following the acquisitions, the company beneficially owns, and exercises control or direction over, 38,890,570 exchangeable shares, an aggregate of 22,474,130 common share purchase warrants and is deemed to own an aggregate of 1,072,450 common shares that are subject to the option, representing 100% of the issued and outstanding exchangeable shares on a non-diluted basis and approximately 39.9% of the issued and outstanding common shares on a partially-diluted basis, assuming the conversion of the exchangeable shares into common shares and the exercise of the warrants and the option held by the company.

Assuming the conversion of all proportionate voting shares of TerrAscend and the exchangeable shares into common shares and the exercise of the warrants and the option held by the company following the occurrence or waiver of the triggering event, the company would beneficially own, and exercise control or direction over approximately 26.8% of the issued and outstanding common shares.

While the company currently has no immediate plans or intentions with respect to the securities of TerrAscend, depending on regulatory changes, market conditions, general economic and industry conditions, trading prices, TerrAscend's business, financial condition and prospects and/or other relevant factors, the company may develop such plans or intentions in the future and, at such time, may from time to time acquire additional securities, dispose of some or all of the existing or additional securities or may continue to hold the securities of TerrAscend.

CHICAGO – January 14, 2021 — PRESS RELEASE — Cresco Labs, one of the largest vertically integrated, multistate cannabis operators in the United States, and Bluma Wellness Inc., a vertically integrated operator in Florida, announced today they have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Cresco Labs will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Bluma in an all-share transaction that values Bluma at an equity value of US$213 million.

“Our strategy at Cresco Labs is to build the most strategic geographic footprint possible and achieve material market positions in each of our states. With Florida, we will have a meaningful presence in all seven of the 10 most populated states in the country with cannabis programs – an incredibly strategic and valuable footprint by any definition. We recognize the importance of the Florida market and the importance of entering Florida in a thoughtful way – we identified Bluma as having the right tools and key advantages for growth. Bluma is known for having best-in-class cultivation in the state of Florida, a differentiated retail experience and omnichannel offering with effective delivery, a clear pathway to scale and an incredible management team. We have a proven track record of integrating assets in strategic states, improving fundamentals, and amplifying operations to take share in the most competitive cannabis markets,” said Charles Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs. “In 2020, we demonstrated the growth and leverage that can be created by focusing only on the most strategic markets, executing high-quality cultivation at scale, and marrying it with a targeted, consumer-focused model of high-volume retail. In 2021, it’s rinse and repeat. We’re using the same playbook to go deeper in strategic states, including Florida – we look forward to bringing our Cresco Labs brands and our Sunnyside stores to the Sunshine State!” 

“Bluma’s high-quality cultivation operations, scaled delivery platform and strategic retail investments combined with Cresco Labs’ track record of execution and capital allocation creates the best path forward to accelerate growth for our business in Florida,” said Brady Cobb, CEO of Bluma. “Our vision for Bluma and One Plant Florida has always been to cultivate remarkable experiences through exceptional cannabis. Our management team took the responsibility to seriously assess potential partners and we’re thrilled to be joining an organization that aligns operationally and shares our passion for creating quality cannabis products.”

Bluma Highlights:

Bluma Wellness, under its operating subsidiary “One Plant Florida,” has seven strategically located dispensaries with eight more locations under legal control and planned to open.One Plant stores rank second highest in per-store sales of smokable flower in Florida.One Plant stores derive 15% of revenue from home delivery (among the highest in Florida).54,000 square feet of cultivation space (with planned expansion of cultivation capacity, processing lab and edibles kitchen).One Plant dispensaries act as delivery hubs supporting the fleet of 15 delivery vehicles offering 24-48 hour statewide service.

Florida Market Highlights:

TORONTO, Jan. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- WeedMD Inc., a federally licensed producer and distributor of medical-grade cannabis, has announced the expansion of its adult-use brand Color Cannabis into the province of Quebec. WeedMD entered into a sales, marketing and distribution agreement with Quebec-based cultivator ROSE LifeScience Inc. to bring the company’s adult-use products to consumers in Quebec through the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC), commencing in early 2021.

RELATED: WeedMD's Bold Pivot in Canada's Evolving Market

“Securing entry into Quebec, one of Canada’s most populated provinces, alongside a well-reputed local partner in ROSE, represents an important part of our plan to expand the presence and availability of our Color Cannabis products,” said George Scorsis, executive chairman and interim CEO of WeedMD. “Congratulations to the ROSE team for recently securing its licence, and the Color team for adding this market to the WeedMD family. With our robust distribution network now covering over 85% of Canada, we’re thrilled to be introducing Quebec residents to our line up of products via the SQDC.”

“We are excited to bring Color Cannabis’ product line to Quebecers and proud of our association with WeedMD given their reputation and pedigree as an industry-leading cultivator and producer of beloved cannabis products in Canada,” said Davide Zaffino, president and chief financial officer of ROSE LifeScience. “With the Color brand, we are continuing to fulfill our long-standing goal of elevating the cannabis industry in Quebec.”

In addition to Quebec, WeedMD’s cannabis products are available in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, with more provinces expected to be added in 2021.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --  PRESS RELEASE -- Rubicon Organics Inc., a licensed producer focused on cultivating and selling organic certified and premium cannabis, has announced that it has received its Health Canada license sales amendment which authorizes the direct sale of cannabis topical, edible and concentrate products to provincially authorized distributors/retailers and registered patients, in addition to dried and fresh cannabis products. The company had previously been using a licensed intermediary to sell its LAB THEORY and 1964 Supply Co. brand of concentrate products to provincial distributors.

"We now have the ability to sell LAB THEORY and other cannabis 2.0 products in our innovation pipeline directly to all provinces and capture the full margin from our products. We are firmly focused on profitability and launching our innovation pipeline is critical to delivering industry leading margins," said Jesse McConnell, chief executive officer.

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, cannabis businesses—many of which were deemed “essential” during coronavirus-related shutdowns—have become accustomed to implementing policies and procedures to keep their employees and customers safe, from mask-wearing and sanitation protocols to how they handle COVID testing at their facilities. Now, as the first vaccines are released across the country, primarily to frontline and health care workers to start, Bianchi & Brandt partner Laura Bianchi says cannabis businesses should develop internal policies regarding vaccination.

“It really is an evolving topic, as it has been all year long,” Bianchi tells Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary. “It changes week to week, but I do think that cannabis companies are prepared [to handle the vaccine] because they had to deal with [the pandemic] in such a front-facing manner throughout the entirety of 2020. I think for a lot of businesses, they could say, ‘Everybody work remotely,’ and they haven’t had to come up with the thoughtful policies and procedures to keep everybody safe. Cannabis companies for the most part have, so I think that puts them ahead of the curve in going, ‘OK, now let’s figure out this next phase. How do we adopt and implement things that will make sense for our patients and our staff?’”

Businesses should be prepared to move quickly once the COVID-19 vaccine is available to the general public, Bianchi says, and when developing their policies regarding vaccination, business owners should consider that in many markets, cannabis companies operate medically. Dispensaries must be prepared to deal with ill patients who may be in higher-risk populations, and Bianchi says many of her cannabis clients are considering requiring their employees to be vaccinated for this reason.

“We always advise [that] there has to be exceptions for people who have some sort of medical issue or seriously held medical beliefs,” she says. “But this is a health care facility, so we can’t place other people and patients at risk. If we can require people to take the vaccination, it’s a benefit not only to the business owners and to all of their employees, but [also] to the patients who come in.”

Many states are “at will” employment states, Bianchi says, which means that employers have the right to establish company and workplace policies, requirements and conditions—such as those relating to mandatory vaccination—as long as they don’t violate any constitutionally protected class or right.

DENVER, Colorado, Jan. 11, 2020 - PRESS RELEASE Gateway Proven Strategies (GPS), the cannabusiness consulting firm offering in-depth services to a broad range of industries and sectors, is pleased to announce that it will be offering license procurement consultation to the five new US states that are about to legalize cannabis use for medical or recreational purpose.

Mexico’s health ministry published rules Jan. 12 to regulate the country’s forthcoming medical cannabis market, according to a Reuters report.

The move will allow pharmaceutical companies to start conducting medical research on cannabis products, and is part of broader policy reform efforts to regulate medical and adult-use cannabis in Mexico, the news outlet reported.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has signed off on the regulations, which require companies to obtain approval from COFEPRIS, Mexico’s health regulator, before launching medical cannabis research, according to Reuters. Once approved, companies must conduct research in strictly controlled, independent laboratories, the news outlet reported.

The regulations also include rules for the cultivation and harvesting of medical cannabis, according to Reuters, and while some cannabis plant imports will be allowed for companies looking to produce medical cannabis products, the regulations prohibit cannabis exports.

The Mexico Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that an absolute ban on cannabis was unconstitutional, which forced lawmakers to pass legislation to legalize cannabis at the federal level. Lawmakers have delayed an adult-use cannabis legalization vote several times, but final legislation is expected to pass in the next period of Congress, according to Reuters.

Legalize ND is again working to get an adult-use cannabis legalization measure in front of North Dakota’s voters, according to a local KVRR report.

The group filed a petition with the Secretary of State’s office Jan. 11, the news outlet reported. If the petition is approved, Legalize ND will have one year to collect a minimum of 26,904 signatures to qualify its initiative for the 2022 ballot.

The group refocused its efforts on the 2022 election after the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for the organization to collect enough signatures to qualify its initiative for the 2020 ballot.

Legalize ND collected just short of 24,000 signatures in last year’s effort, KVRR reported.

Cannabis genetics are the cornerstone of Green Dot Labs’ Boulder, Colo.-based concentrates operation, and according to co-founder Dave Malone, the craft beer industry provided the inspiration he needed to give the company’s unique cultivars their own identities.

Malone says the craft brewing industry started out as a select few companies with lines of beers that were almost indistinguishable among consumers, but as soon as brands began investing in marketing, consumers started gravitating toward specific brands.

The cannabis industry, he says, has a lot to learn from this approach.

“That’s what we’re aiming to do with our genetics, is give them their own identity,” Malone says. “People may prefer different brands for whatever reason, but they still look at our Cherry Fluff strain, for instance, which is [branded as] a beautiful cherry on a big pile of whipped cream, and [the marketing is] very captivating and seductive. People identify with that.”

Photo courtesy of Green Dot Labs
Green Dot Labs' Peach Brain Freeze cultivar

Dan Banks, director of cultivation strategy for Denver- based Lightshade, echoes this sentiment, adding that marketing is beginning to play a large role in the cannabis genetics space, with name-brand recognition starting to emerge among consumers.

BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- PRESS RELEASE -- CULTA, a Maryland-based producer of craft cannabis and extracts, has announced a move to a larger workplace in Bethesda as part of its expansion. The new headquarters will allow CULTA to add employees as it scales its business.

The two-floor office space is nearly 150% larger than CULTA's previous office in Silver Spring. The new facility will provide CULTA with much-needed space to accommodate additional administrative headcount. "The decision to relocate to our new, larger office in Bethesda was a logical next step in our long-term growth strategy," said CULTA Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Clark.

This relocation comes less than a year after CULTA expanded the footprint of their outdoor grow facility in Cambridge to three acres, and only months after hiring Jonathan Lassiter as the vice president of retail sales. Most recently, CULTA announced plans to enter the edibles category with a new brand launching in Q1 of 2021.

"The new office is a physical example of our evolution," said CULTA President and Co-Founder Mackie Barch. "I'm incredibly proud of what my team achieved in 2020. I want to continue to provide the team with the tools and human resources needed to hit goals in 2021."

This year, CULTA plans to add 100 more employees across its farm in Cambridge, retail dispensary in Baltimore, and headquarters in Bethesda. Those interested in joining the CULTA team can view open positions here. At this time, CULTA plans on recruiting all new employees in-house.

Canopy Growth Corp., one of the largest cannabis producers in the world, filed a federal lawsuit in late 2020 against GW Pharmaceuticals, the UK-based cannabis business behind the FDA-approved Epidiolex. At issue is an extraction method that Canopy asserts is newly protected by patent.

Read the full complaint below.

Canopy Growth alleges that GW Pharmaceuticals produces Epidiolex via the protected CO2 extraction method. Since its 2018 approval from the FDA, GW then distributes Epidiolex across the U.S. and elsewhere at $1,235 per 100mL bottle. “GW reported approximately $366 million in net product sales of Epidiolex in the United States in the first nine months of 2020,” according to the lawsuit.

Although the patent protection on this extraction method is a new issue for Canopy Growth, an earlier iteration of the patent in question was published in 2000. Its contents were acquired by Canopy Growth Corp. amid an acquisition of Germany’s C3 Cannabinoid Compound Company (founded by Bionorica SE), a company with which GW allegedly considered partnering in 2016 for its cannabinoid processing work.

Canopy Growth specifically points to two claims in its patent, asserting that GW Pharmaceuticals performs the described actions in its manufacture of Epidiolex.

For example, in Claim 1 of the patent, Canopy Growth writes:

Common Citizen, a vertically integrated business in Michigan’s medical and adult-use cannabis markets, brought on Allison Hornev as the company’s chief marketing officer. Hornev arrives from Bell’s Brewery Inc., another stalwart of the Michigan landscape. 

The move is a good example of that bridge between the breweries and cannabis cultivation facilities. Each market tends to connoisseurs and new customers alike, making the story behind a brand incredibly important. Before Bell’s, Hornev worked as Kellogg’s.

“Through Allison’s marketing expertise, she will help our continued efforts to identify and serve the unique needs of every patient and adult-use customer at all Common Citizen retail and wholesale locations as we continue expanding our footprint here in Michigan and beyond,” CEO Mike Elias said.

We spoke with Hornev about her plans for Common Citizen and the cannabis business in general.

Eric Sandy: What brought about your interest in the cannabis space and in Common Citizen?

Courtesy of Common Citizen

Allison Hornev: It’s funny: I wasn't interested in the cannabis industry. I was very happy working for Bell’s. It's an amazing company with an amazing culture. But then I met one of the founders [of Common Citizen], and we just started having conversations and started talking about the opportunity. And at that point, I got to know the brand more and know the founders and understand what they're wanting to do with cannabis and in this very busy market that we're in. That's really what turned me on to it: that great opportunity that Common Citizen has to not just sell cannabis but make a difference. You see that coming through our commitment to safety and safe products and the idea of cannabis for humanity: How do we debunk the stigma so people feel comfortable using it to help them, or using it however they choose. That, to me, is really what made the difference. It just stood for more in my eyes.

ES: Common Citizen has some interesting terminology that customers can use, whether it's “chapters,” “citizen advisers” and, of course, all the in-store categories for different cannabis products. Could you talk a bit about why that is important?  

AH: From a business standpoint, it allows you to stand apart in a very crowded market. But, honestly, it's going to get more crowded before it consolidates, right? So, it allows you to stand apart, but it also allows you to talk to the people, to the consumers and to our patients from a different voice. And to me, that voice is a more caring voice. That voice is a more passionate voice and a more approachable voice. And I think that is really powerful.

ES: We featured Common Citizen in a piece about the design of their Flint store. Could you talk a bit about how things like interior design can help shape the story of a company?

AH: I think oftentimes it's overlooked, right? “We're just going to put up a store and sell some cannabis.” Again, as a lot of things with Common Citizen, it’s more than that. It’s creating an environment that is welcoming, that is very concierge-based and it’s helping the patient or the consumer through that journey and spending time with them. You look at that Flint store and it's got that area off to the side with the couches, where we can sit down and have a conversation about what it is you're looking for or what it is you need or what your desires and hopes and dreams are. That’s where we can really get to know you and provide you something that will be beneficial and provide you an experience that you then enjoy—or one that helps you. Then you do feel more comfortable every time you come back. And I think the interior design just builds and allows for that to happen

ES: And certainly a lot of those same ideas are at play over at Bell's. Is there a helpful sense of marketing crossover that might be a play between craft beer and cannabis?

AH: Yeah, it's fascinating. On the surface right there, you've got the 21-and-plus audience. If you look at craft beer and beer in general and adult beverages—and it is incredibly saturated, there's a lot of players—and you look at how Larry [Bell] has built this business to stand apart and stand for things for the 35 years he's been in business. He has built what Bell's stands for now and its quality and its consistency and its great branding, and it's continuing to provide new and different things. And then when you come to the cannabis industry, again, it's so oversaturated and there's so much out there and it can be, to a consumer, to somebody that's new into it, overwhelming just like beer. So, how do I take what I learned through my years at Bell's—and even before that at Kellogg’s—and apply that here to help those consumers in that space and stand for those key things that are so important right now?

New York, January 8, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – In anticipation of a busy and productive state legislative session in Albany, the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association (NYMCIA) is announcing new members of its leadership team who will play key roles in the upcoming cannabis legalization debate.

Aquila Powell, Senior Director of Government Affairs for Acreage Holdings; Marcia Maxwell, Eastern Regional Director of Government Affiars for Cresco Labs; Dina Rollman, SVP, Government & Regulatory Affairs at Green Thumb Industries; and Jeremy Unruh, SVP for Public and Regulatory Affairs at Pharmacann are part of NYMCIA’s expanded executive board, which now includes the following:

President, Ngiste Abebe, Director of Public Policy at Columbia CareChair, Marcia Maxwell, Eastern Regional Director of Government Affairs at Cresco LabsVice Chair, Matt Harrell, Vice President of Government Affairs for CuraleafVice President, Aquila Powell, Senior Director of Government Affairs for Acreage HoldingsVice President, Dina Rollman, Senior Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Green Thumb IndustriesTreasurer, Barrington Rutherford, Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Community Integration for Cresco LabsSecretary, Jeremy Unruh, Senior Vice President for Public and Regulatory Affairs at Pharmacann

The association was created in 2016 to protect the interests of patients and advocate for easier and more affordable access to medical cannabis across New York, which has one of the most restrictive programs of its kind in the nation.

NYMCIA has also long championed a fair, equitable and accessible adult-use cannabis program that addresses the longstanding and disproportionate harm inflicted on minority and low-income communities by the failed war on drugs.

The association’s newly formed executive board stands ready to participate in a robust debate in the coming months aiming to establish a safe and well-regulated adult-use program that creates jobs and generates much-needed revenue for New York as it recovers from the pandemic-induced economic downturn. 

SACRAMENTO – PRESS RELEASE – Gov. Gavin Newsom’s fiscal year 2021-2022 budget proposal released Jan. 8 includes a proposal to consolidate the three state licensing authorities into a single Department of Cannabis Control. This proposal was first announced in January 2020 but was delayed due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. If approved by the legislature, the new department will be created on July 1, 2021.

In an effort to improve access to licensing and simplify and centralize regulatory oversight of commercial cannabis activity, the governor’s budget proposes to consolidate licensing and associated regulatory functions into a single state department. This proposal seeks to better serve stakeholders including cannabis businesses, local governments and members of the public by acting as a single point of contact as well as leverage existing funding in a more efficient way by reducing redundancies. Further, it seeks to establish uniform operations and procedures that will streamline processes for applicants and licensees and offer better service and coordination.

The three state licensing authorities have begun to prepare and plan for the consolidation and, most importantly, to ensure continuity of operations. They are committed to making this transition in a manner that reduces unnecessary disruption to the marketplace and California businesses. Their team members will remain available to applicants and licensees as they continue their routine business activities.

Highlights of Budget Change Proposal

The budget change proposal establishes the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) within the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. This proposal creates the infrastructure for the new department by moving existing positions and funding currently supporting the three state cannabis licensing authorities under DCC. The budget change proposal requests $153,834,000 in funding for fiscal year 2021-2022 and 621 positions.

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PRESS RELEASE -- OG DNA Genetics, a global cannabis brand, has announced a partnership agreement with Meristematic, Inc., a cannabis micropropagation and tissue culture provider in California.

The agreement will allow DNA Genetics the ability to provide licensees with clean cultivars and genetically identical starter plants for cultivation with the help of Meristematic’s clean cultivar program. Meristematic’s Clean Cultivar Program uses proprietary tissue culture processes to rejuvenate mother plants while simultaneously filtering out diseases and pests. All new mother stock is thoroughly analyzed, using sensitive molecular techniques, to verify that disease-causing organisms are no longer detectable. Growers then use the rejuvenated mother stock to improve in-house clone production. This program allows cultivators to enjoy some of the benefits of tissue culture, without building a lab or hiring expensive staff to manage a tissue culture program.

“DNA is proud to partner with Meristematic to build on its position at the forefront of cannabis innovation as the industry matures. The benefits of tissue culture and genetic marker identification for a cannabis genetic company cannot be overstated,” said Don Morris, co-founder and Chief Cannabis Officer of DNA Genetics. “It allows us to provide clean genetics and general propagation services at a commercial scale to all of our cultivation partners across the globe in addition to providing a better understanding of the biological and endocannabinoid makeup of our cultivars.”

Since its inception, the genetics developed by DNA has won more than 200 awards, in all categories, at the most prestigious cannabis events around the world – making DNA the global standard in breeding and growing truly best-in-class strains. These awards include the High Times’ Top 10 Strain of the Year, which was inducted into the High Times Seedbank Hall of Fame in 2009, the High Times’ 100 Most Influential People in the Industry, and the High Times’ Trail Blazers Award, for contributions made towards uniting the fields of entrepreneurship, politics and medicine.

NEW YORK, Jan. 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PRESS RELEASE -- Acreage Holdings, Inc. has announced that Katie Bayne has been appointed to the company’s Board of Directors.

Bayne brings more than 30 years of consumer marketing and operations experience to her new position on the Board of Directors, including over two decades at The Coca-Cola Company, where she served as President of North America Brands and Chief Marketing Officer for North America. The founder and president of strategic consulting and advisory firm Bayne Advisors, Bayne also serves as a Senior Advisor at Guggenheim Securities, and sits on the Board of Directors of Jessica Alba’s purpose-driven lifestyle brand, The Honest Company. She brings over a decade of public Board experience in varied industries, including retail.

“Achieving long-term success will require Acreage to continue building and nurturing a house of brands that has mass appeal,” said Acreage CEO Peter Caldini. “Katie’s exceptional background includes her stewardship of iconic U.S. brands and I look forward to the valuable insights she will provide to help take Acreage to the next level on our journey to achieving a true leadership position in this emerging market.”

“Katie is an outstanding addition to Acreage’s Board of Directors,” said Kevin Murphy, Acreage’s chairman and founder. “On the heels of announcing our new CEO, Acreage’s future growth will be driven by senior leaders with extensive experience in operations, brand-building, and a proven ability to drive sustainable, long-term growth.”

“I have watched the upward trajectory of the U.S. cannabis industry with great interest the past few years,” said Bayne. “I have come to understand the undeniable health and wellness benefits of the plant. As more states legalize cannabis and the addressable market continues to grow exponentially, I am excited for the opportunity to help shape Acreage’s strategy and direction at this crucial juncture.”

Montana lawmakers have rejected the Department of Revenue’s request to fund the state’s adult-use cannabis program, according to an AP News report.

The department asked the House Appropriations Committee for $1.35 million to pay for the employees, office equipment and operating expenses needed to launch the program, the news outlet reported, but Rep. Bill Mercer declined the request, calling it a “huge tranche of money.” The committee then voted 23-2 in favor of Mercer’s amendment to refuse the funding, according to AP News.

Montana voters approved an adult-use cannabis legalization measure in the November election, and the Department of Revenue has announced that it will make business licenses available by Oct. 1, a timeline that was established by the voter-approved initiative.

Kurt Alme, the budget director for Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, has said that the money requested by the Department of Revenue is “needed” in order to ensure deadlines in the measure are met, AP News reported.

A spokesperson for the department told the news outlet that the agency is “committed to implementing the laws that are passed by the legislature."

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem issued an executive order Jan. 8 that allows a legal challenge to the state’s voter-approved adult-use cannabis legalization initiative to proceed, according to The Hill.

Noem’s order argues that the initiative process used by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, the group behind Amendment A, to place the measure on the November ballot “was not proper and violated the procedures set forth in the South Dakota Constitution,” the news outlet reported.

In late November, Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and South Dakota Highway Patrol Col. Rick Miller filed a lawsuit arguing that the voter-approved adult-use legalization measure violates the state’s one-subject rule and the amendments and revisions article of the South Dakota Constitution.

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

Thom and Miller also asserted that the measure does not amend the South Dakota Constitution, but actually revises it, which requires a three-fourths vote from both chambers of the legislature.

For having just expanded his dispensary business to sell cannabis product for adult use in December 2020, Casey Kornoelje brings a lot of plant-touching experience to the industry. He’s wielding that knowledge as he and his team work to vertically integrate Pharmhouse Wellness, the first adult-use dispensary in Grand Rapids, Mich., that is owned by a resident of the city.

Kornoelje opened Pharmhouse Wellness as a medical provisioning center in March 2020. But prior to that, he had spent 10 years running a 30-acre cut flower farm north of Grand Rapids, where he also grew cannabis in pole barns.

“In 2008, the state of Michigan rolled out the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program,” Kornoelje told Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary. “I immediately enrolled as a caregiver and patient, so I was a patient myself, plus a caregiver of five. That allowed me to grow 72 plants total—72 all in—and I rocked that out from 2008 to this day.” (While the state has ended caregiver sourcing to dispensaries, Kornoelje notes that he is still legally growing for himself.)

Going further back in time, Kornoelje was charged with felony cannabis manufacturing in 2001 and a misdemeanor cannabis possession in 2004.

“As soon as I could discover how to grow the shit, I started growing it,” Kornoelje reflects. “I just wasn't quite as good at concealing it as I was at growing it. That led to a big disruption in my life. The felony charge has always been on my record and stuck with me. It’s stifled many different opportunities for me throughout the years, both career-, professional-wise and trying to go into the military services.”

But things came around, as Kornoelje moved to the “cottage industry” of caregiver cultivation, then medical dispensing. His prior convictions, caregiver experience and residency in Grand Rapids scored Pharmhouse Wellness points through the state and city's social equity programs and allowed him to receive zoning priority and fee reductions for its adult-use operations.