Virginia made history last year when it became the first state in the South to fully legalize cannabis, but a new governor and a reenactment clause in the law could bring changes to the original statute that the General Assembly approved in April.

“Virginia’s legalization law … was somewhat unique,” Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), told Cannabis Business Times. “Virginia can pass laws that require reauthorization, meaning they don’t take effect unless the Legislature votes for them again.”

Outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam signed the state’s adult-use legislation into law last spring, after the General Assembly approved amendments to expedite the cannabis possession and home grow provisions, which took effect July 1.

Under the current law, adults 21 and older can legally possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis in public and can cultivate up to four plants at their primary residence for personal use.

Commercial sales are slated to start Jan. 1, 2024, under the statute, but until then, selling or purchasing cannabis outside Virginia’s medical program remains illegal.

Florida lawmakers are considering changes to the state’s medical cannabis program as they reconvene Jan. 11 for the 2022 legislative session.

House Bill 679 contains technical changes to the constitutional amendment that legalize medical cannabis in 2016, according to an ABC News report.

“I think the first thing to understand about 679 is this is the first bipartisan marijuana package we’ve really run as a state in five years since the constitutional amendment passed,” Rep. Andrew Learned, one of the bill’s sponsors, told the news outlet. “Just getting both sides to agree on a way forward, I count this as a win already.”

The legislation aims to reduce costs for Florida’s medical cannabis patients by requiring fewer doctor’s visits, extending the expiration dates on registration cards from one year to two, and offering telehealth services to help patients refill their prescriptions, ABC News reported.

H.B. 679 would also regulate delta-8 THC. Learned told the news outlet that the bill changes some of the definitions surrounding delta-8 and helps ensure that delta-8 products are tested and sold only to adults 21 and older.

Her 17-year-old son looked like he was dying.

Angie Calhoun could hardly bear to watch her only child, Austin Calhoun, go from active and happy to bedridden and miserable, as he began experiencing focal seizures, severe joint pain, and chronic nausea and vomiting.

The debilitating medical conditions took their toll, as Austin, unable to keep any food down, rapidly lost 40 pounds from his adolescent frame. As the pain progressed, weakening his body and spirit, Austin’s health deteriorated to the point where he no longer wanted to move.

“He had stopped playing tennis,” Angie said. “He didn’t feel like going out with friends anymore. That was one thing where my husband and I were like, ‘Something is really wrong with Austin.’ He is not going out, and he was one of those who enjoyed going out. He’s a social butterfly. But it just stopped, and he just felt so bad that he laid on the couch or in the bed and slept, and slept, and slept.”

In addition to sports and friends, Austin, who turns 26 this month, also enjoyed being outdoors hunting and fishing. But those activities came to a halt too, as did his schooling.

During his senior year of high school, Austin said he attended maybe four days of classes.

The State Medical Board of Ohio has received petitions to add several new qualifying conditions to the state’s medical cannabis program, according to a Yahoo! News report.

The board accepts submissions for new conditions every year, which must include letters of support from physicians and evidence that cannabis can be used to treat or alleviate the condition, the news outlet reported.

The petitions ask the State Medical Board to add anxiety, depression, lupus, degenerative disc disease, bipolar disorder, insomnia, opioid use disorder, Gilbert’s syndrome and autism spectrum disorder, which the board rejected last year but may revisit in 2022.

RELATED: Ohio State Medical Board Approves Cachexia as Qualifying Condition for State’s Medical Cannabis Program

Petitions have also requested the state to add chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the medical cannabis program, but they are already among the state’s 25 existing qualifying conditions, according to Yahoo! News.

Arkansas’ 37 operating medical cannabis dispensaries have sold more than $500 million worth of cannabis since the first retailers opened in May 2019, according to a FOX 16 report.

Data from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration shows that patients purchased more than 40,000 pounds of medical cannabis in 2021, the news outlet reported.

The state has collected roughly $34 million in tax revenue generated from the sales, according to FOX 16.

RELATED: Arkansas Medical Cannabis Sales Hit $447 Million

Arkansas voters approved medical cannabis legalization in 2016, and there are currently more than 79,000 registered patients in the state, FOX 16 reported.

South Carolina Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) has been sponsoring medical cannabis legislation in the state for years, and recently told WMBF that the issue could pass the Legislature and be signed into law this year.

“I’m optimistic about this bill being approved by both chambers of the Legislature and sent to Gov. McMaster before we adjourn in May,” Davis told the news outlet. “I’ve done a pretty good canvassing of my colleagues in the state senate. I’m confident that I have a majority of senators in favor of this bill.”

Davis’ legislation would allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients with debilitating medical conditions such as Crohn’s, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain.

A similar proposal stalled in the Senate last year, which Davis attributed to higher-priority bills taking precedent during the 2021 legislative session, WMBF reported.

RELATED: Advocates Push for Medical Cannabis Legalization in South Carolina

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Jan. 10, 2022 – PRESS RELEASE – Trulieve Cannabis Corp., a leading and top-performing cannabis company in the U.S., announced the launch of Live Diamonds by Muse. Live Diamonds are the latest innovation from Trulieve's state-of-the-art hydrocarbon extraction lab, the only one of its kind in the state of Florida. The initial product release of 500 units sold out within 24 hours, and Trulieve anticipates another batch of Live Diamonds to become available for sale in February 2022. The launch strain, White Fire Alien, exhibits subtle, natural flavors with a retail price of $45 for 0.5 gram.

"Trulieve is excited to be Florida's first and only dispensary to offer patients the benefits of high-quality cannabis concentrates produced through hydrocarbon extraction, especially Live Diamonds by Muse," Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said. "Due to the delicate and complex production process, this product will only be available in limited quantities, however we look forward to expanding patient access and continuing to deliver innovative products to our valued patient base here in Florida."

Live Diamonds are created using a proprietary blend of propane and butane in Trulieve’s hydrocarbon extraction lab via TruFlower that has been frozen immediately at the time of harvest. The result of the "diamond mining" and production process locks in volatile terpenes and produces a strain-specific, full-spectrum cannabis concentrate that exhibits subtle, natural flavors. "Live" products are generally described as a truly enhanced experience in terms of flavor and appear to offer a broader set of effects for users.

For more information, to find a location or to learn how to become a registered patient, please visit Trulieve.com and connect on Instagram or Facebook. Learn more about Muse at @meet.your.muse.

Montana joined the ranks of active adult-use markets at the top of this month, opening several hundred dispensaries and quickly pulling in $1.5 million or so in cannabis sales.

“[Opening day] was very busy. Busier than expected,” Tanya Simonson, part owner of Herbaceous Inc. in Big Sky, told Lone Peak Lookout. "There's definitely a lot of tourists coming in but a lot of locals too... We were definitely back stocked with weed, and we went through a lot. It was a big day. We ran out of some product, some of our edibles.  

“Now that it kind of has opened up I feel like a stigma maybe has released just because people are like, ‘Oh, it’s legal.’ And now maybe [people are] not as nervous to even come into the store. Whereas before, when it was just medical, people were a little hesitant because there's such a stigma on cannabis.”

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

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced during her Jan. 5 State of the State address that officials will create a $200 million fund to support social equity cannabis businesses. Read more Montana launched its adult-use cannabis program Jan. 1, and dispensaries sold more than $1.5 million in product during the first weekend of legal sales. Read more Iowa lawmakers unveiled a proposal Jan. 5 to place an adult-use cannabis legalization measure before voters on the state’s ballot. Read more South Dakota lawmakers will continue their debate on adult-use cannabis legalization and fine-tuning the state’s medical cannabis program when the 2022 legislative session starts Jan. 11. Read more Consumers stocked up on cannabis products during this past holiday season, as post-holiday sales data from Headset, LeafLink, Flowhub and others show increased sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Day. Read more 

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

Marijuana Moment: Justin Strekal is out at NORML. Read more Syracuse.com: Reporter Sean Teehan profiles the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. Read more BBC: The island of Jersey lands some extra scrutiny over its medical cannabis rules. Read more Washington Post: “Quebec will require people to show proof of coronavirus vaccination when entering government-run stores selling cannabis or alcohol.” Read more WTVA: “Three researchers at Ole Miss have been awarded a $1.37 million grant to study cannabis pain relief.” Read more ]]>

Democrats in the Kansas House unveiled three proposed constitutional amendments Jan. 6: one to expand Medicaid and two that would legalize medical and adult-use cannabis, according to a KWCH report.

If approved by the Legislature, the proposals would go before voters on the 2022 ballot for approval, the news outlet reported. If passed, lawmakers would then need to implement the new laws by July 1, 2023.

Last year, the Kansas House approved a medical cannabis legalization bill, which ultimately stalled in the Senate.

Illinois’ adult-use cannabis retailers sold $1.38 billion worth of products in 2021 and set a new record in December, when adult-use sales hit $138 million, according to the Chicago Tribune.

2021’s sales were more than double those in 2020, when Illinois launched its first adult-use sales and logged $669 million in total sales, the news outlet reported.

Illinois’ 110 adult-use dispensaries sold more than 30 million products in 2021, according to the Chicago Tribune.

December’s sales were up 14% from the previous month, according to the news outlet, and broke the previous record of $128 million, which was set in July.

A cannabis company is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to let the state name the winners of craft grower licenses that have been held up by pending litigation, according to the Chicago Tribune.

1837 Craft Grow LLC filed a motion Jan. 5 to modify a court order that bars state officials from naming the licensees until litigation is settled, the news outlet reported.

The case holding up the licensing process centers on 13 companies that sued the state to challenge the licensing process after their applications for craft grow and transporter licenses were disqualified, according to the Chicago Tribune.

RELATED: Illinois Cannabis Retail Licenses Still in Limbo After Third and Final Licensing Lottery

A state law required Illinois officials to issue the 60 new craft grow licenses by Dec. 21, 2021, the news outlet reported, but Cook County Judge Neil Cohen and Sangamon County Judge Gail Noll have ordered that the licenses cannot be awarded until the lawsuit is settled.

Three partners have come together to launch Carver Family Farm, an aspiring adult-use cannabis microbusiness based in Albuquerque, N.M., that plans to bring quality and variety to the state’s forthcoming adult-use cannabis market.

“One of the things I’m excited about is Albuquerque has a huge microbrewery and craft distillery culture here, and I think that craft cannabis is going to be the next big thing for Albuquerque,” Matt Muñoz, the company’s chief innovation and finance officer (CIFO), tells Cannabis Business Times.

Muñoz and the company’s other two partners, Chief Cultivation Officer Andrew Brown and Chief Operations Relations Officer Erika Hartwick Brown, a husband-and-wife team, are seeking to secure multiple adult-use licenses to become a vertically integrated cannabis microbusiness.

The trio applied in August for a producer license, which it received in mid-December. The New Mexico Cannabis Control Division (CCD) opened the application process for retail and manufacturing licenses last month, and Carver Family Farms will apply for those, as well.

Photos by Andrew Brown
Carver Family Farm runs an organic, no-till living soil indoor cultivation operation.

“We’re focusing on an organic, no-till, living soil indoor operation,” Muñoz says. “Erika and Andrew have been patients since New Mexico had a medical cannabis program. They’ve been personal producers at their home, so they’ve been growing from there and perfecting this crop ever since.”

The New Hampshire House approved an adult-use cannabis legalization bill Jan. 6, according to an AP News report, after similar legislation cleared the House in 2020 but ultimately stalled in the Senate.

The bill, which now returns to the Senate for consideration, would allow adults to possess up to three-fourths of an ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to six plants at home, AP News reported.

Cannabis could be traded or given away under the legislation, but not sold, according to the news outlet.

RELATED: New Hampshire Takes Criminal Justice Approach to Cannabis Legalization: Legalization Watch

A broader bill in 2019 would have created a regulated and taxed retail market for adult-use sales, but that legislation also died in the Senate, AP News reported.

WAKEFIELD, Mass., Dec. 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- PRESS RELEASE -- Curaleaf Holdings, Inc., an international provider of consumer products in cannabis, has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Bloom Dispensaries, a vertically integrated, single state cannabis operator in Arizona in an all cash transaction valued at approximately US$211 million. The transaction is expected to close in January 2022, subject to customary approvals and conditions.

The proposed transaction with Bloom includes four retail dispensaries located in the cities of Phoenix, Tucson, Peoria, and the only dispensary currently in Sedona, with a combined population of over 2.3 million and drawing millions of tourists every year. In addition, Bloom strengthens Curaleaf's production capabilities in Arizona with the addition of two adjacent cultivation and processing facilities located in north Phoenix totaling approximately 63,500 square feet of space. Finally, Bloom has an attractive financial profile, generating expected 2021 revenue of approximately $66 million and EBITDA margins of more than 40%. Following the close of Bloom and the previously announced acquisitions of Tryke Companies and Natural Remedy Patient Center, Curaleaf's retail footprint will increase to 16 dispensaries in Arizona and 128 nationwide.  

Boris Jordan, Executive Chairman of Curaleaf, stated, "We are pleased to continue Curaleaf's expansion in the state of Arizona with the acquisition of Bloom. In addition to bolstering our strong position in this key growth market with an attractive portfolio of retail and cultivation assets, Bloom will be immediately accretive to our adjusted EBITDA margins upon close. On behalf of the Board of Directors and management team, I look forward to welcoming Bloom to the Curaleaf family."

Joseph Bayern, CEO of Curaleaf, stated, "We are excited to announce the acquisition of Bloom, which shares Curaleaf's mission of delivering the highest-quality products and superior service to patients and customers while striving to make a positive impact in the communities we serve. Bloom has built a strong and profitable business, and we believe the combination of our two companies will enhance our competitive position and ability to continue gaining share in the highly attractive Arizona market."  

Under the terms of the agreement, Curaleaf will pay US$51 million in cash at closing, with the remaining approximately US$160 million paid in three promissory notes of $50 million, $50 million, and $60 million due, respectively, on the first, second and third anniversary of closing of the transaction. The notes will be recourse only to shares and assets of Bloom and will not be guaranteed by any Curaleaf entity.

On the homepage of the New York Times earlier this week: “More Workers Quit Than Ever as U.S. Job Openings Remain Near Record.” 

The news story cites U.S. Department of Labor survey results published Jan. 4 that set the ongoing economic tension in stark relief. Even as inflation rises, workers are leaving behind jobs at astonishing numbers and for myriad reasons—chief among them stagnant wages.

The cannabis industry, which clocked around $26 billion in sales in 2021, may not be entirely immune from the trend, but it’s certainly a bit protected by virtue of its rapid expansion across the U.S. and its sky-high ceiling for growth in the otherwise uncertain years to come. Early last year, Leafly released a formal jobs report that found at least 321,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the industry—and that number was expected to grow steadily.

David Belsky, CEO of recruitment firm FlowerHire, says that cannabis finds itself in an interesting position as an industry with no real (legal) history of employment. It’s a regulated space that’s emerged from advocacy efforts and political headwinds in the past 10 or so years, and its growth now demands new workers from a variety of backgrounds—including horticulture, certainly, but also financial management, retail, interior design, corporate communications, insurance and so on.

A lot of service-based industries, like hospitality, have faced a sudden demand crunch amid the pandemic. Elsewhere, consumer-packaged goods and the light industrial space are facing a supply crunch.

“I think there are a lot of contributing factors to the great resignation,” Belsky says. “I think it's a real thing. I just don't think it's as relevant for cannabis.”

As the cannabis industry enters a new year, there are lessons to be drawn from yesteryear and trends to monitor in 2022. As detailed in Cannabis Business Times’ 2021 State of the Cannabis Lighting Market report, one key trend is the industry’s adaptation to new lighting technologies and practices in efforts to maximize yield and minimize costs. More research findings and cannabis lighting trends to keep an eye on include:

1. LED lighting most popular across all cultivation stages

The cannabis industry’s adoption of light-emitting diode (LED) lights continued in 2021. The majority of research participants (69%) reported using LED lighting in propagation—up 48 percentage points from 2016’s report. Meanwhile, 62% of participants reported using LED lights in vegetation (up 45 percentage points from 2016) and flowering (up 47 percentage points from 2016). These massive shifts illustrate a more holistic view of the industry’s technological adoption over the years.

However, high-pressure sodium (HPS) and fluorescent lights still hold their place in the market. HPS lights are most common in flowering (37%), while 22% of research participants indicated using HPS in propagation, and 18% in vegetation.

Fluorescent lights were the second-most popular lighting fixtures in propagation (33%) and vegetation (26%). Only 8% of participants use fluorescent lighting in flowering.

2. Cost of LEDs remains a barrier to entry

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 3, 2022 – PRESS RELEASE – AB Lighting—a?U.S.-based?premier LED grow light provider with a focus on the cannabis industry—announced it will be unveiling its new LED grow light, the AB520, at CannaCon Northeast Cannabis Expo Jan. 7-8, 2022.   

With early stage growing being a critically important part of the cannabis grow process, many grow lights are not ideal for early growth. Recognizing this need, AB Lighting created the AB520 as a top lighting solution designed for indoor cannabis cultivation. Designed mainly for the veg room, the AB520 can also be used in the mother room. It has a PPF of 1200-1300 umol/s, 520W input power, 0-10V dimming and has a lifespan of over 50,000 hours. 

AB Lighting’s grow lights are best-in-class products backed by science to help growers reach a higher yield. With about 70% of new grow lighting installations being LED, there is a demand for high-quality lighting at a competitive price. While the cannabis industry is relatively in its infancy, AB Lighting hits the market backed by 30 years of R&D and is working with a highly experienced manufacturer to bring the best performing grow lights to growers. AB Lighting’s grow lights produce far more photosynthesis, take a lot less power than alternative lighting and produce less heat—meaning they help growers grow more product, grow product faster and produce a higher quality of product for sales. 

“LED grow lighting plays a significant role in the cannabis grow process, and we have tuned the full spectrum on this AB520 grow light perfectly for the veg stage,” said Mark Honeycutt, founder of AB Lighting. “Also, validated by third-party test labs, the PPFD distribution is consistent over the canopy, providing uniform growth of all the plants. We created the AB520 because we recognize that grow lights are not a one-size-fits-all solution to growing. At AB Lighting, we are striving to create the most diverse line of lighting products to accommodate the needs of all growers, no matter which stage.” 

Earlier this year, AB Lighting announced its AB840, AB780 and AB960 grow lights.  

AB840: A 1-to-1 replacement HPS solution and designed for indoor cannabis cultivation or a greenhouse supplemental. It has a PPF of 2100 umol/s, 840W input power, 0-10V dimming and has a lifespan over 50,000 hours. AB780: Designed for indoor cannabis cultivation. It has a PPF of 2067 umol/s, 780W input power, 0-10V dimming and has a lifespan of over 50,000 hours. AB960: A high-intensity, top-lighting solution designed for indoor cannabis cultivation. It has a PPF of 2400 umol/s, 960W input power, 0-10V dimming and has a lifespan of over 50,000 hours.  

Find AB Lighting at CannaCon Northeast, Jan. 7-8, 2022, Booth 237. 

Iowa lawmakers unveiled a proposal Jan. 5 to place an adult-use cannabis legalization measure before voters on the state’s ballot, according to The Daily Iowan.

The proposed constitutional amendment, which was initially announced in December, would allow adults 21 and older to purchase cannabis and would charge the Alcoholic Beverage Division with overseeing the new industry, the news outlet reported. The proposal would also establish a state tax rate of up to 20% and a local tax rate of up to 2% on retail sales.

The constitutional amendment must clear the General Assembly before it can qualify for the state’s ballot, but legalization could have the support it needs to pass if put to a public vote; a March 2021 Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll revealed that 54% of Iowans surveyed support adult-use cannabis legalization, The Daily Iowan reported.

Sens. Joe Bolkcom, Sarah Trone Garriott and Janet Petersen, the measure’s primary sponsors, are currently seeking co-sponsors and hoping for bipartisan support, according to the news outlet.

“In the coming weeks, we will be searching for a few brave Republicans to join us in this bipartisan effort,” Bolkcom told The Daily Iowan.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced during her Jan. 5 State of the State address that officials will create a $200 million fund to support social equity cannabis businesses, according to a Syracuse.com report.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) into law last year, and the statute mandates that 50% of the state’s adult-use cannabis licenses go to social equity applicants, Syracuse.com reported. Those eligible for social equity status include applicants disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs, minority- and women-owned businesses, distressed farmers, and service-disabled veterans, according to the news outlet.

Until the new fund was announced, it was unclear how state officials planned to fulfill these social equity requirements.

“This type of funding is groundbreaking and demonstrates the governor’s commitment to provide social equity applicants an equal opportunity to participate in this innovative new industry,” Denise Lyons and Cindy Gillespie, who are pursuing an adult-use cultivation license for their business, LG Growers, in Liverpool, told Syracuse.com. “This type of innovation is essential for New York State to meet its equity participation goal of 50 percent of approved licenses.”

Hochul’s office has proposed a funding mechanism based on licensing fees and taxes, a model that has faced pushback from some industry stakeholders, according to the news outlet.

Consumers stocked up on cannabis products during this past holiday season, as post-holiday sales data from Headset, LeafLink, Flowhub and others show increased sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Day.

From Headset

Headset data demonstrates increased sales in the U.S. and Canadian cannabis markets in the week leading up to Christmas (Dec. 18 through Dec. 24) when compared to previous weeks’ sales. The U.S. saw an increase of 17% in sales, while sales in Canada rose more than 26%. In both markets, topicals saw the biggest increase in sales during the week before Christmas, with beverages taking second place and edibles ranking third.

Headset data from California, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington in the U.S. and from Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan in Canada illustrates increased sales on New Year’s Eve when compared to the previous four Fridays. In the U.S., sales jumped 6%, compared to an 8.9% increase in Canada. Michigan had the largest rise in sales on New Year’s Eve with a 13.7% increase, while Saskatchewan had the largest increase in Canada with sales up 12% compared to the previous four Fridays.

There was a slight increase in dispensary discounts on New Year’s Eve in both the U.S. and Canadian cannabis markets, Headset reported, with the average discount in the U.S. clocking in at 21.1%, up by about 13% when compared to the previous four Fridays, which saw an average discount of 18.6%. The average discount in Canada on New Year’s Eve was 4%, up by about 10% over the previous four Fridays’ average of 3.6%.

In the U.S., beverages, flower and concentrates sold the most on New Year’s Eve, according to Headset’s data, while tinctures/sublinguals, concentrates and beverages saw the largest increase in sales in Canada.