Cannabis Industry Daily News

After two-year wait, New Jersey issues 14 more medical cannabis permits

By MJBizDaily Staff

New Jersey regulators awarded 14 new medical cannabis business licenses in advance of next year’s likely adult-use market launch.

The issuance of the licenses fulfills a 2-year-old plan to expand the state’s MMJ program.

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According to NJ.com, the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission on Friday announced the permit winners, a mixture of 10 cultivation and four manufacturing licenses.

All 14 licenses went to companies owned by minorities or women:

  • Hillview Med
  • CYOURNJ
  • GSCC Management
  • NJ Nectar Ventures
  • Noble Valley Harvest Co.
  • Green Medicine NJ
  • ZY Labs
  • The NAR Group
  • Bloom Medicinals of PA
  • Garden State Releaf
  • Etain NJ
  • Altus New Jersey
  • Holistic NJ
  • Greenhouse Wellness of NJ

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Tens of thousands of cannabis executives already have reservations for the most anticipated event of the year:

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  • Networking and partnerships

The expansion is a partial culmination of a plan that began in 2019 to expand New Jersey’s relatively small MMJ market, which currently has only 23 dispensaries to serve 117,000 registered patients in the state.

But the expansion was paused for a year and a half because of a lawsuit, which was finally resolved in February.

The commission will likely award even more licenses in coming weeks, NJ.com reported, since the original expansion plan called for 24 new MMJ licenses, including 15 dispensaries, five cultivators and four vertically integrated operations.

But the commission decided at the last minute Friday to double the number of cultivators to 10.

The commission also still must set a date for when adult-use sales might begin.

Florida paves way for Black farmer medical cannabis license

By MJBizDaily Staff

Florida announced an emergency rule to issue one license designated for a Black farmer to compete in the state’s billion-dollar medical marijuana industry.

The beginning of the licensing process comes four years after lawmakers established the requirement to address past racial discrimination issues, public radio station WLRN in Miami reported.

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The requirement was part of Florida’s 2017 medical marijuana law.

A timetable wasn’t disclosed for accepting applications and issuing the Black farmer license, but the emergency rulemaking procedure means a permit could be awarded within months, according to WLRN.

The licensing process is being watched closely by the industry because it is expected to serve as a framework for additional MMJ licenses issued by the state.

Litigation stalled additional Florida MMJ licensing for years, but the state Supreme Court in May upheld the market’s limited license, vertically integrated structure that favors operators with deep financial pockets.

Do you have a ticket MJBizCon in Las Vegas, October 19-22?

Tens of thousands of cannabis executives already have reservations for the most anticipated event of the year:

  • 1,100 exhibits for cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.
  • 70+ presentations, plus a keynote by Shark Tank’s Daymond John
  • Networking and partnerships

Based on patient-growth triggers, Florida should issue 18 more vertical licenses in addition to the Black farmer permit, according to the head of the state’s MMJ business association.

“We are all reviewing intensely the rule and application for the Black farmer application since it will be almost identical to the application for the other 18 MMTC (medical marijuana treatment center) licenses,” Jeffrey Sharkey, president of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.

Sharkey noted that there’s a “tremendous amount of interest” in the additional licenses considering the strong growth of the MMJ industry in the state and the prospect of an adult-use referendum on the 2022 or 2024 ballot.

He wrote that he expects the state to come out with its rule on the additional licenses in the first quarter of next year.

Florida currently has 22 licensed medical marijuana businesses, 16 of which are in operation.

Multistate operators have made a flurry of acquisitions in the past year to gain a foothold in the market.

Applicants for the Black farmer license will have to pay a $146,000 nonrefundable application fee and provide documents proving they were members of the “Pigford” class-action suit against federal officials for discriminatory lending practices. The case was settled in 1999.

WLRN noted that Black farmers complained they were shut out of Florida’s original medical marijuana licensing process because of restrictive eligibility requirements.

– Jeff Smith

Nevada recreational marijuana sales top $1 billion

By MJBizDaily Staff

Recreational marijuana sales in Nevada surpassed the $1 billion mark for fiscal year 2021, according to data from the state.

The Nevada Department of Taxation says adult-use retailers in the state brought in $1,003,467,655 in taxable sales. The bulk of those sales were in Clark County, home of Las Vegas.

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The 2021 total was up $318 million from the total of $684 million registered in fiscal year 2020.

The fiscal year 2020 sales reflect a drop after retailers were forced to shut down because of COVID-19 restrictions.

After the state allowed operations to resume, at limited capacity, Nevada retailers expanded home delivery and curbside pickup.

“Retailers, cultivators, producers, and businesses up and down the supply chain, as well as the thousands of employees in the industry, should all be proud of the hard work and innovation that helped the industry bounce back from a challenging year,” Layke Martin, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association, said in a release.

Mississippi gov issuing ‘unreasonable demands’ on cannabis, lawmakers say

By MJBizDaily Staff

Republican state lawmakers in Mississippi say that GOP Gov. Tate Reeves has been delaying a special session of the Legislature with “unreasonable demands” on parameters of a bill to legalize a medical cannabis program.

According to Mississippi Today, there’s been an ongoing back-and-forth between Reeves and Republican lawmakers since Sept. 24, when they informed him they were ready to come back for a special session in order to legalize MMJ.

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The topic has been a political hot potato since the state Supreme Court in May ruled that a medical marijuana legalization initiative approved by voters last year was illegal because of a technicality

That meant the Legislature would be forced to pass a bill in order to launch a cannabis industry in the state.

Reeves has pledged to honor “the will of the voters” by signing a medical marijuana bill into law.

Reeves told Republican lawmakers in recent weeks he wants a lower limit on MMJ flower “dosage” amounts – down to 2.8 grams from the current proposal of 3.5 grams, which is about one-eighth of an ounce.

But GOP lawmakers refused to make that alteration, state Rep. Lee Yancey told Ridgeland-based Mississippi Today.

Do you have a ticket MJBizCon in Las Vegas, October 19-22?

Tens of thousands of cannabis executives already have reservations for the most anticipated event of the year:

  • 1,100 exhibits for cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.
  • 70+ presentations, plus a keynote by Shark Tank’s Daymond John
  • Networking and partnerships

In a counterproposal, Reeves asked that physicians be allowed to approve 3.5-gram doses for MMJ patients but requested that nurses, physician assistants and optometrists be limited to recommending 2.8-gram doses. Yancey said that plan would be unworkable, according to Mississippi Today.

Then, during a recent news conference, Reeves said he was hoping to see lower THC caps for MMJ products written into the bill.

That request caught Yancey and other lawmakers off guard because the bill already contains a potency cap: 30% THC for smokable MMJ flower and 60% THC for concentrates.

Cresco spending $80 million to acquire another Pennsylvania marijuana firm

By MJBizDaily Staff

Chicago-based Cresco Labs said Thursday it will acquire Pennsylvania-based Laurel Harvest Labs in a cash-and-stock deal worth $80 million.

The acquisition is the multistate operator’s second in less than a month, following the $90 million purchase of Cure Pennsylvania in September.

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Cresco said in a news release that the addition of Laurel Harvest will further cement its market share in Pennsylvania, where it already has a cultivation facility and four dispensaries.

Under the deal, Cresco gets:

  • A 52,000-square-foot cultivation facility in Lancaster County – on top of its existing facility in Brookville – that can double in size.
  • Another distribution hub.
  • Six dispensary licenses, though only one, in Montgomeryville, is currently operational. A second outlet, in Scranton, is under construction.

The acquisition also gives Cresco access to cannabis research and development.

Laurel Harvest has a state “clinical registrant license” that allows the company to work directly with the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia on “one of the most sophisticated cannabis research programs in the country,” Cresco CEO Charlie Bachtell said in the release.

Cresco shares trade as CL on the Canadian Securities Exchange and as CRLBF on the over-the-counter markets.

Cannabis real estate lender gets FDIC-backed credit line

By MJBizDaily Staff

Pelorus Equity Group, a California-based commercial real estate lender to cannabis-related businesses, said it has secured a federally insured $20 million line of credit.

Pelorus said it believes it’s the first company in the cannabis sector to obtain such a credit line from a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)-insured bank. That statement couldn’t immediately be verified.

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The FDIC is an independent agency created by Congress that insures deposits and oversees financial institutions for safety and soundness.

The company said the credit line is at a low annual interest rate of 4.75% with no fees, depending on a business owner’s qualifications.

Pelorus CEO Dan Leimel attributed the FDIC-backed credit line as a result of the company’s “decades of commercial real estate experience” and “track record of success in cannabis.”

Do you have a ticket MJBizCon in Las Vegas, October 19-22?

Tens of thousands of cannabis executives already have reservations for the most anticipated event of the year:

  • 1,100 exhibits for cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.
  • 70+ presentations, plus a keynote by Shark Tank’s Daymond John
  • Networking and partnerships

Just last month, Pelorus raised $42.3 million from the sale of five-year senior unsecured notes at a 7% annual interest rate.

Leimel said the new funds will enable the company to offer lower financing costs to its cannabis customers.

To date, Pelorus said it has completed 58 commercial real-estate loan transactions and has deployed $225 million to cannabis businesses.

Oregon county declares state of emergency over illegal marijuana grows

By MJBizDaily Staff

A county in southern Oregon is asking for more help to deal with a flood of illegal marijuana grows, declaring a state of emergency and asking for the governor and lawmakers to step in.

According to the Associated Press, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners said county and state regulators as well as law enforcement are overrun by unlicensed cannabis cultivators.

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The board asked for assistance in its fight against illicit operators in a letter sent to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek.

The commission said the situation is leading to an “imminent threat to the public health and safety of our citizens from the illegal production of cannabis in our county.”

The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission started inspecting hemp grows in the southern part of the state in August to root out illegal cannabis growers.

In September, more than 100 licensed hemp producers in the region were found to be growing marijuana illegally, according to the OLCC.

And, according to the commissioners’ letter, Jackson County regulators had issued almost 700 code violations related to marijuana production or processing by September, more than twice that of all of 2016.

The OLCC also recently recommended that state lawmakers continue a moratorium on new marijuana cultivation licenses until 2024.

Mississippi still pondering special legislative session on medical cannabis

By MJBizDaily Staff

State lawmakers in Mississippi might yet have a special session in an attempt to strike a legislative deal to legalize medical cannabis in the state.

The primary question appears to be when that session, which would be called by the governor, would be held.

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According to the Associated Press, Gov. Tate Reeves is still hammering out details with legislative leaders as far as parameters for legalizing medical cannabis but that he still intends to call lawmakers back to the state Capitol to approve a new MMJ program.

“I believe very strongly that if we’re going to have a medical marijuana program, it’s very important that we get it done right,” Reeves said.

“I think getting it done right is more important than getting it done quick. But I also recognize the will of the voters,” he said, referring to a successful 2020 MMJ ballot measure that was tossed out by the state Supreme Court earlier this year over a technicality.

Do you have a ticket MJBizCon in Las Vegas, October 19-22?

Tens of thousands of cannabis executives already have reservations for the most anticipated event of the year:

  • 1,100 exhibits for cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.
  • 70+ presentations, plus a keynote by Shark Tank’s Daymond John
  • Networking and partnerships

Reeves added that he’s “very interested” in a THC potency cap, for instance.

GOP leaders in the Mississippi Legislature have said they’ve mostly reached an agreement on a medical marijuana program.

However, the chiefs of the state health and agricultural departments have criticized the plan and said there’s no funding mechanism for licensing or regulations yet in place.

South Dakota 2022 recreational marijuana campaign kicks off

By MJBizDaily Staff

The campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in South Dakota is officially underway – again.

According to a news release, the South Dakota secretary of state’s office on Tuesday approved a draft of a statewide ballot measure for 2022, meaning the campaign – South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) – can start collecting the 17,000 voter signatures it needs by Nov. 8 to get a spot in next year’s election.

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South Dakota voters already approved recreational legalization in 2020 through Amendment A.

But Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has so far successfully stalled the implementation of the amendment with a lawsuit, which has yet to be ruled on despite having been heard by the state Supreme Court in April.

That situation forced marijuana advocates to return to the ballot in 2022 if they wanted to be certain adult-use cannabis is legalized in the state.

“We remain hopeful that Amendment A will be restored by the South Dakota Supreme Court,” SDBML Campaign Director Matt Schweich said in the release.

“However, the November 8 deadline for 2022 ballot qualification is quickly approaching, and we have no choice but to launch a signature drive.”

Schweich said the campaign’s backers are “very energized” and “deeply frustrated” by both Noem’s obstructionism and the lack of a high court ruling in the case so far.

Cannabis grow-supply giant terminates Michigan deal, moves into New Mexico

By MJBizDaily Staff

GrowGeneration Corp., a Denver-based specialty hydroponic and organic garden center giant, is terminating a previously announced deal to purchase HGS Hydro, which owns a chain of hydroponic garden centers across Michigan.

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“Following appropriate due diligence and capital allocation analysis, we decided to mutually terminate the acquisition,” Darren Lampert, GrowGeneration’s CEO, said in a news release.

Lampert also said the company’s near-term objective is to build and acquire garden centers in new markets that are growth opportunities.

In a separate move, GrowGeneration said it’s acquiring All Seasons Gardening, an Albuquerque, New Mexico-based, indoor-outdoor garden supply center specializing in hydroponics systems, lighting and nutrients.

GrowGeneration did not disclose the terms of either deal.

The All Seasons acquisition, upon closing, would increase GrowGen’s portfolio of hydroponic garden centers to 63 stores across 13 states.

Do you have a ticket MJBizCon in Las Vegas, October 19-22?

Tens of thousands of cannabis executives already have reservations for the most anticipated event of the year:

  • 1,100 exhibits for cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.
  • 70+ presentations, plus a keynote by Shark Tank’s Daymond John
  • Networking and partnerships

“The All Seasons Gardening acquisition is a testament to our continued investment in best-in-class hydroponic suppliers in emerging adult-use markets across the U.S.,” Lampert said in a release.

Recreational marijuana sales in New Mexico are expected to begin in April 2022.

The MJBizDaily Factbook estimates annual adult-use marijuana sales in the state will reach $425 million by the fourth year.

Ohio legislator to introduce second bill to legalize recreational marijuana

By MJBizDaily Staff

A Republican state lawmaker in Ohio intends to introduce a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, marking the second such bill the state Legislature will consider this year.

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According to the Associated Press, state Rep. Jamie Callender, a conservative from Concord, was planning to introduce the adult-use legalization bill on Tuesday.

The move follows the introduction of a Democratic adult-use legalization measure that was introduced in August and a grassroots campaign to get the question on the state ballot next year.

The (Cincinnati) Enquirer reported that Callender acknowledges that his bill faces an uphill climb, given that Republican legislative leaders and GOP Gov. Mike DeWine do not support legalization.

But Callender remains hopeful he can garner enough support for the measure it to become law.

“As a society, we’ve reached a point where it’s not the taboo thing it used to be,” Callender told The Enquirer.

Under Callender’s bill:

  • Existing medical marijuana companies would be allowed to add adult-use cannabis to their business operations.
  • Ohio adults could possess up to 5 ounces of cannabis and could grow up to six plants at home.
  • Industry oversight would be handed to the state Department of Commerce; the existing MMJ industry is overseen by that agency and the Department of Pharmacy.
  • Recreational marijuana would be taxed at 10%.

Flowhub cannabis tech platform raises $19 million

By MJBizDaily Staff

Flowhub, a cannabis software technology platform, said it closed a $19 million strategic raise to help the Denver company expand into emerging markets and grow a social equity program.

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The funding round was led by venture firms Headline, based in Silicon Valley, and San Francisco-headquartered Poseidon Asset Management as well as a personal investment from rapper and entertainment mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.

The $19 million increases Flowhub’s total capital raised to $50 million, according to a news release.

Do you have a ticket MJBizCon in Las Vegas, October 19-22?

Tens of thousands of cannabis executives already have reservations for the most anticipated event of the year:

  • 1,100 exhibits for cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.
  • 70+ presentations, plus a keynote by Shark Tank’s Daymond John
  • Networking and partnerships

Under the company’s new program, social equity business owners will receive Flowhub’s point-of-sale software for $4.20 for up to three years as well as additional products and services.

In 2019, Flowhub raised $23 million in a Series A funding backed by numerous investors, including existing stakeholders Phyto Partners, based in Boca Raton, Florida, and Poseidon.