On Raw Garden’s website, as of May 2021, the Santa Barbara-based cannabis cultivation business lists “839 strains and counting,” each one an example of the breeding program at the heart of the garden. From Abracadabra to Zookies, the sheer variety taps into one of the great forces in the cannabis consumer marketplace: a search for something new.

We spoke with Raw Garden’s product director, Khalid Al-Naser, to learn more about the strategy.

Eric Sandy: Could you describe how Raw Garden came to be?

Khalid Al-Naser: I've been with Raw Garden through every iteration, which started in the [Prop.] 215 space. A lot of the early culture and ethos was built around the idea of developing good medicine: quality, consistently, at an accessible price. As we moved through a lot of the transition [to the adult-use market] and licensing, we really tried to keep that at the heart of what we were doing.

So, we pushed really hard around the concentrates. As the 30% tax came in, we lowered our price to make sure that consumers didn't have a price change at the retail level. Subsequently, we ended up launching our vape carts, which just put us in a really great position in the market. We were priced well and had a high-quality product, which just made a really great value proposition. That really pushed us along to where we are today, which is a growing brand that's really trying to provide a lot of great consumer experiences—while still holding onto this idea that we can create accessible products that are high-quality, and it doesn't have to be stagnant or boring.

Courtesy of Raw Garden
 

ES: Breeding is a big part of that mission, right? Making sure that the product line is not stagnant?


Ascend Wellness Holdings (AWH) opened a medical-use dispensary in Rochelle Park, New Jersey.

 

The dispensary is AWH's second in the state, and the first cannabis dispensary in Rochelle Park, according to the company. AWH's other in-state dispensary is located in Montclair, New Jersey.

AWH's dispensary in Rochelle Park will offer patients flower, pre-rolls, ingestibles, topicals and vapes. The dispensary will employ 65 staff and will immediately begin accepting new patients, the company says.

According to AWH, the dispensary is located along one of the most highly-trafficked areas in the U.S. and will serve the state's more than 100,000 medical marijuana patients.

"We are thrilled to open Ascend Rochelle Park and remain committed to meeting patients' needs through an elevated patient journey," says Chris Melillo, chief revenue officer at AWH. "Built to complete the customer purchase process quickly and at scale, our new location will help meet the rising demand for affordable, safe medical cannabis products in New Jersey. We are grateful for the support of Deputy Mayor Gail Artola and Rochelle Park residents in the opening of our dispensary."

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MAY 20, 2021 – LAS VEGAS, NV / ORLANDO, FL – Cannabis Conference (produced by Cannabis Business Times, Cannabis Dispensary and Hemp Grower media brands) and Hemp Grower Conference (produced by Hemp Grower) announce today a joint partnership with Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) to help minority cannabis entrepreneurs access networking and education opportunities to grow and support their business. The inaugural Cannabis Conference/Hemp Grower Conference Diversity Scholarship will provide selected MCBA members with 20 complimentary Cannabis Conference 2021 All-Access passes, and 10 complimentary Hemp Grower Conference 2021 All-Access passes.

In addition to the Scholarship, the Cannabis Conference and Hemp Grower Conference are each offering a 20% registration discount to all MCBA members.

The Diversity Scholarship is part of Cannabis Business Times, Cannabis Dispensary and Hemp Grower media brands’ ‘Game Changer’ Partnership with MCBA. In addition to the scholarship, the media brands will provide more than $50,000 in annual print and digital MCBA-related promotions to support this pioneering organization dedicated to serving the specific needs of minority cannabis entrepreneurs and their communities.

“Minorities, who have been historically disproportionally affected by the war on drugs, also face barriers to entry within the legal cannabis market because of a lack of access to capital and quality networking opportunities,” Cannabis Conference/Hemp Grower Conference Editorial Director Noelle Skodzinski said. “Through our valued partnership with the Minority Cannabis Business Association, the Diversity Scholarship Fund offers no-cost access to our conferences for scholarship recipients to help provide those in-depth educational and network-building opportunities.”

“The partnership also will help promote the MCBA and the essential work it does on behalf of its members to promote equality and diversity in the cannabis industry—by working toward fair policies and regulations, and the empowerment of minorities and women through educational and networking opportunities and other resources,” Cannabis Conference/Hemp Grower Conference Publisher Jim Gilbride said.

“We are grateful to have the Cannabis Business Times, Cannabis Dispensary, and Hemp Grower brands as partners in building an equitable cannabis industry. The partnership will provide access to a caliber of networking and educational events that are essential, but often inaccessible, to small minority cannabis businesses. Their support of MCBA will help us grow to better reach and serve our community,” MCBA Executive Director Amber Littlejohn said.

Ayr Wellness launched its Revel flower brand in Pennsylvania, marking the first product the company has produced and sold in the Keystone State.

According to Ayr, sales of Revel flower are already underway in Pennsylvania and are available exclusively at the company's medicinal dispensaries in New Castle and Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Wholesale of Revel to other dispensary operators will begin in June.

Revel's initial launch in Pennsylvania will feature five strains of flower: First Class Funk, Mango Skunk, MR OG, Tangarang, and Zombie Kush. Ayr will also introduce Revel concentrates, tinctures, vape cartridges and more to the Pennsylvania market in June, the company says.

"We are excited to bring Ayr's high-quality products to Pennsylvania with the launch of Revel," says Jonathan Sandelman, CEO of Ayr. "We believe everything starts with the plant, and as such have invested in building out the best cultivation facilities in the commonwealth. We will be launching many new and differentiated Ayr products in the Pennsylvania market over the coming months and look forward to introducing Ayr's high standards and quality brands to the discerning Pennsylvania customer."

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Washington, D.C., is best known as a Congressional battleground, the stage for legislative developments that impact the country.

But beyond the new iron fences around the Capitol, the District itself is a vibrant city full of culture and ethnic history. And thanks to centuries-old laws that give Congress broad oversight over the capital, it’s home to the most unique cannabis industry structure in the nation: Despite it being legal to possess and even grow at home, it’s been against the law to sell cannabis in D.C. since legalization took effect six years ago.

Yet industry activists and stakeholders believe change is imminent, now that the White House has a new occupant and the Senate is controlled by Democrats. The D.C. government appears to agree: According to officials, preparation is already underway for local licensing and regulation of adult-use cannabis sales. 

Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary spoke to experts in the D.C. cannabis scene about how the new industry should be regulated and the most probable path to establishing adult-use sales in the District.

What’s the current status of cannabis in D.C.?

D.C. legalized cannabis with its Initiative 71, which passed in 2014 and went into effect in February 2015. The new law allowed adult residents to possess up to two ounces of cannabis, grow up to six plants at home and consume on private property. Residents are also allowed to “gift” someone up to an ounce, but sales of any amount are prohibited thanks to the infamous “Harris Rider,” a provision blocking D.C. cannabis sales which for years was added onto the federal budget by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD). 

The Colorado Senate approved legislation that would expand expungement and double the threshold for illegal cannabis possession April 28.

House Bill 1090, sponsored by Rep. Alex Valdez and Sen. Julie Gonzales—both democrats—cleared the House in a 45-19 vote on March 17 and most recently passed the Senate in a 23-11 vote. 

Under current law, adults 21 years and older who possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis can be charged with a drug petty offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. H.B. 1090 would remove this offense. 

According to the bill summary, the legislation would also change the definition of illegal possession of cannabis by an underage person, increasing the limit from 1 ounce or less to 2 ounces of cannabis or less.

In addition, the bill would permit a person to petition to have his or her conviction record sealed if he or she were convicted of a Class 3 felony cannabis cultivation offense.

The measure would require the court to seal a conviction record, without objection from the district attorney, for a cannabis possession offense that is otherwise not sealed, if the person has not been previously convicted of a criminal offense since release from supervision or since the final disposition of all criminal proceedings, the bill summary states.

The Parent Company will place a $50-million investment in southern California’s Glass House Group, which will open discussions to longer-term strategic market agreements. With Glass House Group’s 500,000-plus square feet of greenhouse space and its rapidly expanding retail footprint, future agreements could include greater visibility in the California adult-use cannabis market for The Parent Company’s suite of branded products (including Jay-Z’s MONOGRAM line).

The investment comes at the same time that Glass House Group is executing a business combination with Mercer Park Brand Acquisition Corp., a SPAC that will take Glass House Group public. That transaction is expected to close this summer, upon which The Parent Company’s investment will translate into 6.2% of subordinate voting shares in the combined business.

All told, several major players in the California cannabis landscape are converging. The Parent Company launched in late 2020 as the result of its own SPAC transaction. 

“Our focus over the last 100 days has been to continue to scale up our supply chain,” The Parent Company CEO Steve Allan said in a public statement this month. “Our strategic investment accomplishes two important components, gaining access to Glass House’s greenhouse-grown cannabis at attractive pricing and expanding the distribution of our products to their network of retail stores. Our strategy for vertical integration in California required locking in long-term, low-cost cultivation to meet our demand for branded products in our wholesale and direct-to-consumer channels.”

The Parent Company also announced the acquisition of four acres of outdoor cannabis cultivation land affiliated with Soma Rosa Farms.

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The average dispensary in Las Vegas pulls in about $2 million in revenue per month, while larger stores have reported up to $10 million in single-month sales. Even in 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, legal cannabis statewide in Nevada clocked $789 million in sales. And prospective business owners want in: State-issued licenses have traded hands for as much as $20 million each.

Owning a cannabis company in the Silver State can be an incredibly lucrative endeavor. But for all of the Green Rush’s successes—80 operating dispensaries, 158 grow houses and 110 production facilities—still only one company has a Black woman running the show from the top.

On the remote east side of Sin City, just before houses and roads give way to miles of desert sand, a mom-and-pop-style cannabis store serves thousands of mostly local residents. Top Notch The Health Center, styled as Top Notch THC next to a bright green medical cross on its cream-colored building, welcomes a broad customer base.

Kema Ogden is one of three Top Notch owners and still the only Black woman able to make such a claim in Nevada. Unlike most of her counterparts in the industry, who have sold off their marijuana empires for up to $300 million, Ogden has held onto her dispensary. She’s also still regularly involved in the day-to-day operations.

“We’ve always been focused on being a grassroots company and being a part of the local community,” she said. “The community supports us back, and those relationships that we’ve built over the years really help keep us grounded.”

A former fitness trainer and philanthropist, Ogden would have called you crazy a decade ago if you told her that part of her future would be dealing legal weed. The wife of NFL Hall-of-Famer Jonathan Ogden and mother of two has always had a heart for wellness and helping others. But her humanitarian endeavors had always taken more traditional structures, like a family foundation that runs sports and fitness programs as well as a nonprofit hospital that serves uninsured and low-income families.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Friday that the voice of its people, who voted in favor of legalizing medical cannabis by more than a two-thirds majority during in the November 2020 election, is not enough to influence policy.

The ballot measure, Initiative 65, would have required the Mississippi State Department of Health to adopt rules and regulations for a medical cannabis program by July 1, 2021, and begin issuing medical patient cards and treatment center licenses by Aug. 15, 2021. The ballot results were certified by Secretary of State Michael Watson.

But the state’s high court overruled those election results by a 6-3 decision. Justice Josiah D. Coleman wrote the majority opinion.

The Supreme Court’s ruling stems from Section 273(3) of the Mississippi Constitution, which states that signatures from each congressional district for a ballot initiative cannot exceed one-fifth of the total number of signatures required to qualified an initiative petition for placement upon the ballot. In short, the section was designed to ensure an even number of signatures was gathered from each congressional district for geographic uniformity.

However, after the 2000 Census, Mississippi dropped from five districts to four districts—making Section 273(3)’s one-fifth requirement mathematically at odds with the political structure of the state’s electorate. Language dealing with the initiative process was never updated to “one-fourth” in that section.

“Whether with intent, by oversight, or for some other reason, the drafters of section 273(3) wrote a ballot-initiative process that cannot work in a world where Mississippi has fewer than five representatives in Congress,” Coleman said in his majority opinion. “To work in today’s reality, it will need amending—something that lies beyond the power of the Supreme Court. We grant the petition, reverse the secretary of state’s certification of Initiative 65, and hold that any subsequent proceedings on it are void.”

At first, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey did not commit to signing a medical cannabis bill when the state legislature passed the legislation by a roughly two-to-one ratio in both chambers May 6.

In a statement from Ivey’s office that night, Press Secretary Gina Maiola said the governor looked forward to thoroughly reviewing Senate Bill 46 and providing the diligence it deserves but did not say whether she would sign it.

The Republican executive provided her ink to the bill Monday, making Alabama unofficially the 36th medical cannabis state, joining the likes of nearby Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana, according to reform organization Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Mississippi dropped from the ranks of medical cannabis states after its Supreme Court ruled May 14 that Initiative 65 was unconstitutional.

When the Alabama Legislature passed its medical cannabis bill earlier this month, MPP Director of State Policies Karen O’Keefe said the legislation will allow seriously ill patients to finally get the relief they deserve and urged Ivey to sign it into law.

Ivey did just that Monday afternoon.

“I would like to thank Sen. Tim Melson and Rep. Mike Ball for their hard work over the last few years and their commitment to continue to work on this to ensure we have a productive, safe and responsible operation in Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement.

WAKEFIELD, Mass., May 17, 2021 – PRESS RELEASE – Curaleaf Holdings Inc., a leading international provider of consumer products in cannabis, signed definitive documents to acquire the Los Sueños Farms and its related entities, the largest outdoor grow in Colorado. This will significantly expand Curaleaf's Colorado presence, vertically integrating in the state with large-scale outdoor cannabis cultivation. The proposed transaction includes three Pueblo, Colorado outdoor cannabis grow facilities covering 66 acres of cultivation capacity, including land, equipment and licensed operating entities, an 1,800-plant indoor grow and two retail cannabis dispensary locations serving adult-use customers.

Total base consideration for the proposed acquisition is approximately $49 million for the Los Sueños operating companies and $18 million for the real estate and farm assets. Total consideration of $67 million to be paid 61% in Curaleaf subordinate voting shares, 29% in cash at closing, and 10% in assumed debt maturing in five years. Additional contingent consideration of up to $8 million in stock will be paid based upon operating cash flow-based targets for 2022.

Curaleaf Executive Chairman Boris Jordan said, "The acquisition of Los Sueños provides Curaleaf with outdoor cannabis cultivation expertise at commercial scale and establishes our foothold in the $2.2 billion Colorado market. This deal furthers our strategy of constructing low-cost supply chains that will secure healthy margins and position us for interstate commerce when it comes. Ultimately, our goal is to cultivate cannabis at less than $100 per pound, and this acquisition is a significant step in the right direction."

The acquisition will complement Curaleaf's existing Colorado presence through its Select brand. Select is known as America's No. 1 cannabis oil brand, with a variety of best-in-class cannabis products distributed to nearly 2,000 locations across 18 states.

Curaleaf CEO Joseph Bayern said, "The acquisition of Los Sueños will add over 50,000 pounds per year of low-cost wholesale capacity to Curaleaf's footprint in Colorado, which we intend to double to over 100,000 pounds, representing a significant market share. As the largest producer of biomass in the state, this facility will also fuel the further deployment of our Select product line, which can already be found in 230 independent dispensaries in the state."

The proposed transaction has been unanimously approved by the Curaleaf board of directors and is expected to close upon regulatory approvals.

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Germination is the beginning of a plant's life and the process of getting seeds to sprout. Within the seed is an entire young plant waiting to be "awakened" from its slumber once it receives enough moisture. From that point forward, the flora will depend on the outside environment for further nouris...
This week started with a bang, as Trulieve announced its $2.1-billion acquisition of Harvest Health and Recreation. It’s one more sign of booming M&A activity in the cannabis space—coming after a lackluster 2020, which was no real surprise in itself—and a testament to multi-state operators’ will to consolidate across state markets.

The Trulieve deal lands the Florida-based brand in 11 states with 22 cultivation and processing facilities, and 126 dispensaries.

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

Associate Editor Tony Lange reports: “Reps. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, and Don Young, R-Alaska, introduced a bill May 12—the “Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses and Medical Professionals Act”— that would remove cannabis from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act.” Read more Assistant Editor Andriana Ruscitto reports: “A legislative committee unanimously postponed a bill proposing restrictions on Colorado's cannabis delivery program after the bill's sponsor requested it to be delayed on May 6.” Read more Senior Editor Zach Mentz reports on Columbia Care’s brand overhaul and the launch of “Cannabist.” Read more Also from Mentz: “With the goal of increasing financial flexibility, The Green Organic Dutchman expects its Valleyfield facility sale to close by the end of June.” Read more A truly blockbuster M&A deal started off the week, with Lange reporting: “Trulieve Cannabis Corp., the largest fully licensed medical cannabis company in Florida, announced May 10 its definitive arrangement agreement for the acquisition of Arizona-based Harvest Health and Recreation Inc., in a $2.1-billion deal.” Read more 

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

WCCO: “The Minnesota House on Thursday night approved a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state, a historic vote for an effort some have been pushing for decades.” Read more Marketwatch: “Aurora reported a net loss of C$164.7 million ($135.4 million), though that figure was only included deep in its announcement as part of the reconciliation of its preferred metric, adjusted EBITDA.” Read more Forbes: “Chicago-based Green Thumb Industries, a cannabis company that operates in 12 states, reported $194.4 million in revenue for the first quarter—a 90% increase year-over-year due to increased demand.” Read more Masslive.com: “[Massachusetts] advocates, lawmakers and former regulators urged a legislative committee on Tuesday to provide more oversight of required contracts between municipalities and marijuana businesses, arguing that the system continues to be exploited by some cities and towns, which creates a barrier for small and minority owned businesses to get started in the industry.” Read more Foreign Policy: “As demand for medical marijuana products surges worldwide and states look to diversify their income streams, other African countries should follow Zimbabwe’s lead. Africa could reap enormous economic benefits from cannabis—but only if it goes further in legalization.” Read more 

 

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Republicans called it a waste of time, but an adult-use cannabis bill passed the Minnesota House by a 72-61 vote after roughly five hours of floor amendments and discussion Thursday night.

The legislation, House File 600, would allow for adults 21 years and older to possess up to 10 pounds of cannabis in a private residence, up to 2 ounces in public and grow up to eight plants (four mature) for personal use. It passed mostly along party lines, with six of 64 Republicans in the lower chamber voting in favor of the bill. Four of those delegates were successful in receiving majority support for their adopted amendments.

Overall, the bill has 35 lawmakers signed on for sponsorship—all Democrats—including chief author and House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler.

“Cannabis prohibition in Minnesota has been a failure,” Winkler said during his opening remarks on the floor May 13. “The criminal penalties associated with cannabis prohibition have been unfairly applied to communities of color and especially Black Minnesotans.”

Winkler went on to say that roughly 680,000 Minnesotans use cannabis every year.

According to Munira Mohamed, a policy associate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota who testified in favor of the bill during the committee process, a Black person is 5.4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than a white person in Minnesota, which is significantly higher than the national average of a Black person being 3.6 times more likely to be arrested. 

Louisianatook a step toward minimizing cannabis prohibition in the state when the Houseof Representatives approved a bill to decriminalize possession on May 11.

Underthe state's current law, those who possess an ounce of cannabis or less can becharged with 15 days in jail and a $300 fine for the first conviction, with thepenalties significantly increasing for those who face a second, third andfourth conviction.

House Bill 652, which passed in a 65-25 vote, wouldremove the threat of jail time and reduce the maximum penalty to a $100 finefor the possession of up to 14 grams for first-time offenses. The measure nowheads to the Senate for consideration.

Andthe state House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice approveda measure last week that would remove criminalpenalties for the possession, distribution or dispensing of cannabis in thestate, which is now headed to the House floor, the National Organization for the Reform ofMarijuana Laws (NORML) reported.

Furthermore,the House also approved House Bill 391 in a 73- 26 vote last week, which nowheads to the Senate. The measure would permit dispensaries to dispense up to 21/2 ounces of cannabis to any individual patient per 14 days and would revokethe prohibition on physicians who recommend medical cannabis for"inhalation" or in flower forms, the reform organization reported.

Andlawmakers also recently approved legislation for a levy tax on raw or crude cannabisproducts recommended for therapeutic use. 

Tune into Fluence by OSRAM's next free webinar, where the team will answer some of the most fundamental questions about what lighting solutions best suit your cultivation goals.

In this presentation, Fluence's horticulture service experts will discuss the evolution of cannabis lighting technology and share best practices when evaluating the right light for your farm. The team will show you how to optimize your environment when upgrading to an LED lighting strategy and will also share some grower case studies illustrating the benefits achieved by cultivators who have taken these steps. 

Join the free webinar at 11 a.m. CT Thursday, May 20!

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At Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation (TOCC), a vertically integrated medical cannabis producer in Austin, research goes hand-in-hand with production. Exhaustive research on lighting equipment, in partnership with Fluence by OSRAM, an LED lighting fixture manufacturer also located in Austin, has allowed the cultivation company to gain a deeper understanding of how light quality and intensity affect crop outcomes.

“Before, we never really had lighting options. You just [grew with] HPS [high-pressure sodium] or metal halide, and you just grew with whatever spectrum that bulb came with,” explains Jason Sanders, the cultivation manager for TOCC. “Well, the beauty of LEDs is we now have full control over the light quality and the intensities, really allowing us to maximize plant performance.”

TOCC has conducted studies on light spectrum, “everything from broad white to high red and everything in between,” Sanders says, as well as on light intensity. In the most recent study conducted at the facility, researchers examined the impact of the amount of red light hitting the canopy.

The findings? Using a whiter light (meaning a light with a broader spectrum) throughout all phases of growth correlates to larger dry weight flower yields than LEDs with a higher red light content (typically referenced as pink light).

The study required each of TOCC’s three flowering rooms to be broken into four zones, each representing a different spectral treatment. The light treatments differed with varying fractions of red light. The R4 zone was set at 40% red light (meaning it had the broadest/whitest spectrum), the R6 zone at 60%, and the R8 zone at 80% red light. The treatments were deployed in a randomized complete block design across the three rooms to ensure statistical validity to the study.

Additionally, each zone had a variety of type 1 (THC-rich), type 2 (THC:CBD balanced) and type 3 (CBD-rich) cannabis cultivars, to identify cultivar-dependent spectral responses. Light intensity was normalized across spectral treatments applying high photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) at the top of the canopy. 

According to the 2020 “State of the Lighting Market” study conducted by Cannabis Business Times and made possible by Fluence by OSRAM, most cannabis cultivators are growing indoors, as 85% of participants said they operated this type of facility. However, an increasing number of growers also are running year-round greenhouses, as nearly a third (29%) indicated they grow in greenhouses with supplemental lighting.

Taylor Kirk, horticulture service specialist with Fluence by OSRAM, says while there are lighting fundamentals that apply matter what type of facility growers are operating, there are certain strategies that indoor growers must use to be successful that are different than approaches greenhouse growers take.

“When you're in a greenhouse supplementing with LEDs or another source, you are basically working with what you have from Mother Nature with sunlight, and then figuring out what you could add to offset low light levels at certain times, like cloudy days or certain times of the year where you just don't get as much sunlight. And that becomes a lot more challenging because you have to take a holistic approach to how much light the plant receives in a given day,” Kirk says. “With sunlight, you have sunrise and sunsets and this natural bell-shape curve of light intensity throughout the day, and there are a lot of different ways to manage it.”

While most growers consider light spectra, or the quality of light, light intensity and photoperiod when planning lighting strategies, Kirk says one of the most important inputs for boosting yield whether growing indoors or in greenhouses is light intensity. Growers who dial up this parameter carefully can see higher yields and other benefits.

Here, Kirk shares seven lighting tips and strategies for cannabis cultivators, whether they are growing indoors or in greenhouses.

1. Optimal lighting spectrum varies by facility type.
While indoor growers rely on lighting fixtures exclusively, greenhouse growers receive some of their power from the sun. Because sunlight provides a wider spectrum naturally, greenhouse growers are often interested in options other than broad-spectrum light-emitting diodes (LEDs), Kirk says.

A pair of House Republicans aren’t holding their horses on cannabis reform activity in the Senate.

Reps. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, and Don Young, R-Alaska, introduced a bill May 12—the “Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses and Medical Professionals Act”— that would remove cannabis from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act.

In addition, the legislation would also protect depository institutions that provide financial services to “legitimate” cannabis-related businesses; provide safe harbor for veterans to use, possess or transport medical cannabis in compliance with state laws; and direct two studies on cannabis as it pertains to pain management and impairment through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to the bill’s text.

Joyce and Young’s efforts come as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and fellow Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., continue to work on drafting a federal reform bill to end prohibition in the upper chamber. They released a joint statement regarding their comprehensive reform efforts in February but have yet to introduce the measure.

Comprehensive cannabis reform took hold in the House last Congress via the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would have removed cannabis as a Scheduled I controlled substance and eliminated criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes or possesses cannabis. While it passed the House last year, 228-164, the bill never advanced in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The chief sponsor of the MORE Act, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., plans to reintroduce the 87-page legislation this Congress, he said during a House Judiciary Subcommittee meeting in March.

A legislative committee unanimously postponed a bill proposing restrictions on Colorado's cannabis delivery program after the bill's sponsor requested it to be delayed on May 6.

House Bill 1159, which Democrat Rep. Marc Synder introduced in March, would require dispensaries to be open at least five days a week for five hours a day to have a delivery permit. The bill would also limit delivery sales to only in-store products and would require them to be sold at the same price. Additionally, it would prohibit dispensaries from accepting online prepaid sales for delivery—which is already legal under the state's current program—the bill summary states.

Since Synder introduced the bill, it has encountered several amendment changes, the Westword reported. Some of those changes include, continuing to allow prepaid sales online for delivery and cutting the five-hour requirement for the daily operation to three hours.

Although Synder's bill has already undergone several changes, advocates of the original delivery program still asked him to pull the bill, citing "philosophical differences," Westword reported.

Prior to the vote, Snyder expressed to the committee that his bill was created to protect the delivery program, as he is concerned that many delivery-only stores would open and essentially take over, the news outlet reported.

And some of the state's largest dispensary chains have already shown pushback to the state's original delivery program because they are worried that "Amazon-like warehouses could take advantage of language that doesn't specify that a delivery permit must be connected to an active, operating storefront," the Westword reported.