Cannabis Industry Daily News

Longtime Marijuana Policy Project chief Rob Kampia stepping down

The founder of Marijuana Policy Project, Rob Kampia, is bowing out as executive director of the organization.

Kampia, who co-founded MPP in 1995, will become director of strategic development and will continue to serve on the boards of directors for both MPP and the MPP Foundation, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

Matthew Schweich, who joined MPP in 2015 as the director of state campaigns, will become the interim executive director until the organization finds a permanent replacement for Kampia.

MPP board member Troy Dayton said in the statement the change was made to allow Kampia more flexibility to focus on specific reform efforts.

“Shortly after Election Day (2016), Rob quickly shifted gears in December to start the Michigan 2018 legalization campaign,” Dayton said. “With the Michigan signature drive now complete, it is the right time to shift Rob’s focus to new and bigger projects.”

Under Kampia’s watch, MPP was instrumental in a number of statewide cannabis legalization victories.

Though he’s often been a divisive figure in the cannabis community, it’s quite arguable that no other activist has had more of an impact on marijuana legalization in the United States than Kampia.

MPP board member Rene Ruiz acknowledged as much in the release and praised Kampia for “enormous and unparalleled contributions to marijuana policy reform efforts across the country for over two decades.”

Kampia said in the release he:

  • Was “honored” to have spent 22 years as MPP’s executive director.
  • Plans to focus on lobbying members of Congress directly for federal reforms.
  • Wants to spend time working on further changes to marijuana laws in Michigan, New York and Texas.

Sacramento begins widespread marijuana crackdown

The Sacramento, California, police department plans to ask the City Council this week for an additional $850,000 in funding to continue a crackdown on its marijuana industry through the first six months of 2018.

According to the Sacramento Bee, California’s capital city began its months-long crusade in August, including a 60-day citywide sweep by the SWAT team that resulted in the seizure of 5,000 illegal cannabis plants, 10 arrests, millions of dollars in fines and 600 grow operations shuttered.

The crackdown comes in advance of the Jan. 1 launch of California’s recreational marijuana market.

Countering illegal operations and the black market has been a big question mark in the state, with some localities giving the issue little thought and others taking the matter seriously.

Sacramento, it appears, is taking the matter seriously.

The city sent out 959 warning letters to suspected illegal grow operations, the newspaper reported, and of those, 614 were closed down after police visited to inspect the premises.

Local officials have also issued $6.8 million in fines, served 12 search warrants and seized $15,000 in cash.

Ex-MassRoots CEO makes move to oust board, current leadership

MassRoots founder and former CEO Isaac Dietrich on Monday filed paperwork with federal regulators to call for a special meeting and new shareholder vote, an attempt to force his way back into the company and dethrone the other board members who fired him last month.

Dietrich – who owns 15.82% of the company’s outstanding stock – wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily that the shareholder vote would take place “within the week.”

The meeting would take place at the offices of the New York law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The move is the latest in a power struggle over MassRoots that began with Dietrich’s Oct. 16 firing and escalated last week when the company filed a civil suit against Dietrich claiming he stole $250,000 and committed other “serious misconduct.”

Dietrich’s SEC filing asks shareholders to:

  • Remove board members Terry Fitch, CEO and founder of Drink Teck; Ean Seeb, co-founder of Denver Relief Consulting; and Vincent “Tripp” Keber, CEO and co-founder of Dixie Brands.
  • Replace them with Dietrich himself; Charles Blum, a former QS Energy CEO and MassRoots board member; Nathan Shelton, also a former QS Energy executive; and Cecil Kyte, CEO of Rightscorp.

“The nominees for the Board of Directors will make MassRoots’ top priority becoming a central technology platform in the California market by aggressively growing MassRoots’ market-share of businesses and consumers,” Dietrich wrote in the filing.

Oakland sorting through 255 marijuana business applications

Marijuana regulators in Oakland, California, have received 255 business license applications for cannabis cultivation, sales, distribution and transportation, another indicator of the huge interest the Golden State’s impending market is generating.

California’s new regulated market goes online Jan. 1 in the cities and counties that allow it.

Oakland has long been a proponent of regulated marijuana and could lead the way for the state’s legal rollout.

Here’s what you need to know, according to the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • 78 of the applications are for indoor grow operations.
  • 55 applications are for delivery businesses.
  • The city plans to approve a handful of applicants by Jan. 1. Others can apply for a temporary state license.
  • Oakland has already approved licenses for the eight retail marijuana shops that were grandfathered in under the previous medical cannabis law. However, those eight businesses still must obtain a state license.
  • The city plans to double its retail marijuana stores to 16 by the spring.

Marijuana Business Daily’s annual cannabis industry survey underway

Marijuana Business Daily has launched its annual survey of executives and major investors in the cannabis space, which will help the company provide key market, financial and operational data for businesses and entrepreneurs.

Executives with dispensaries/retail stores, commercial cultivation operations, infused product manufacturers, testing labs and ancillary firms as well as investors that fund cannabis companies are invited to take the anonymous survey here.

Information gleaned from the survey will help cannabis companies build business plans, develop budgets, set key performance metrics, analyze competitive benchmarks and prepare for fundraising.

Survey data will be used in market research reports (such as the Marijuana Business Factbook) and also appear on and in Marijuana Business Magazine.

Everyone who completes the survey will have an opportunity to sign up for an enhanced executive summary from the 2018 Marijuana Business Factbook – filled with industry data exclusive to survey participants – once the report is published next spring.

Plus, respondents will automatically be entered in a drawing for a free pass to MJBizConNEXT in New Orleans in May or one of four free copies of the 2018 Factbook (a $299 value).

Cannabis online platform raises $10 million

LeafLink, an online inventory and ordering platform for marijuana businesses, has raised $10 million in Series A funding.

The round was led by Nosara Capital, a London-based venture capital firm, according to a LeafLink news release.

Nosara was joined by previous LeafLink investors from both inside and outside the cannabis space, such as Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Casa Verde Capital, Wisdom VC, Phyto Partners, TIA Ventures, and Brand New Matter.

The Series A funding comes on the heels of a $3 million raise in April that was led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

According to LeafLink’s release, the capital from the latest raise will be used to double the size of the company’s engineering, sales, client support and marketing teams.

The company, which launched in March 2016, also plans to “enhance” its core B2B marketplace, which includes customer- and order-management tools, data reporting, order status tracking and a fulfillment queue for vendors.

LeafLink claims more than 1,700 retailers and 400 cannabis brand clients in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona, according to the release.

LeafLink – which has offices in New York, California and Colorado – said it “is on track” to hit $500 million in orders through its platform in 2018 and will launch in 10 new states through 2018.

Multistate marijuana testing firm expanding into Oregon

Steep Hill, one of the largest U.S. cannabis testing labs, is expanding into Oregon – a move that will give the company a presence in eight states.

The California-based company has licensed its brand and testing technology to a local Oregon partner, Dr. Carl Balog, an anesthesiologist who already owns a medical toxicology lab, according to a Steep Hill news release.

Balog will open Steep Hill Oregon in the second quarter of 2018 in Portland.

In addition to testing cannabis before it goes to market, Balog will aid in Steep Hill’s research into further medical applications for marijuana.

Steep Hill already has labs operating in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico and Washington state, according to its website.

The company has further plans to continue expansion across the United States and globally, according to the release.

Oregon cannabis firm is shuttered for interstate transport

Oregon’s cannabis regulator has suspended the license of an extraction company after its owner was caught with a van full of marijuana products in Nebraska.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission worked in conjunction with law enforcement to investigate and shutter Portland-based Rich Extracts for transporting cannabis across state lines.

The Oregonian reported the commission revoked the company’s license after “managing member” Richard Wilkinson was found with 25 pounds of cannabis shatter worth $1.1 million, sealed packages of marijuana, vials of hash oil and 3,500 marijuana seeds.

Police stopped Wilkinson in traffic near Lincoln, Nebraska, and charged him with intent to deliver, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

According to a news release, the commission had Wilkinson on its radar before the arrest.

“We want to make it clear to our licensees that if you operate ‘out of bounds’ we are going to act with certainty,” said Steve Marks, executive director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Kentucky task force will study medical marijuana legalization

Kentucky activists, including at least two elected officials. are part of a task force charged with studying the legalization of medical marijuana.

The group – formed and led by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes – will be empowered to propose the implementation and regulation of medical cannabis, according to TV station WSAZ.

Here’s what you need to know about the task force:

  • It will include members of the medical community, including doctors and nurses.
  • MMJ proponents, law enforcement, the military and state agencies also will be represented on the panel.
  • State Rep. John Sims, who’s drawing up an MMJ bill for 2018, will serve as co-chair.

California unveils marijuana industry regulations

The largest legal marijuana marketplace in the United States is taking shape – at least on paper.

California regulators released long-awaited rules Thursday that will govern the state’s emerging cannabis sector  from fields to sales.

The regulations have been in development for many months and in some cases covered familiar ground: At first, the state will issue only temporary licenses to growers and retailers, provided they have a local permit to open for business.

Other changes appeared significant:

Preliminary information from the state indicated a maximum 1-acre cap would be set on most cultivators. In what would be a major shift, the regulations did not include that language, placing limits on only certain growers’ licenses.

The state must also ensure its own regulations don’t violate any local rules.

California’s rules come just 45 days before legal sales can begin, and many problems remain, including:

  • Some predict high taxes will drive consumers to the black market.
  • Most banks won’t do business with cannabis companies.
  • Los Angeles and San Francisco are among many cities without local rules in place.

Meanwhile, big gaps loom in the system intended to move cannabis from the field to distribution centers, then to testing labs and eventually retail shops.

In general, California will treat cannabis like alcohol, allowing people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce and grow six marijuana plants at home.

Come January, the newly legalized recreational sales will be merged with the state’s two-decade-old medical marijuana market, which is also coming under much stronger regulation.

The new recreational sector will have a market potential of $4.5 billion-$5 billion, according to Marijuana Business Daily projections.

Three state agencies – the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health – all released revised rules for California’s marijuana industry.

Their respective regulations can be viewed here:

Bureau of Cannabis Control

Department of Food and Agriculture

Department of Public Health

Summary fact sheets from each department are available here:

Bureau of Cannabis Control

Department of Food and Agriculture

Department of Public Health

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily

Montana updates medical cannabis business rules

A slew of updated medical cannabis business rules for Montana companies has been proposed by the state health department.

The rules deliver more clarity to those looking to participate in the state’s MMJ industry, but the regulations have yet to be completely finalized.

According to The Billings Gazette, the wide-ranging rules include:

  • License fees.
  • An inventory track-and-trace system that has yet to be put in place.
  • Which contaminants MMJ will be tested for.

For instance, the rules identify “four types of heavy metals, 15 solvents and 59 pesticides” for which MMJ will be tested before it can be sold, the Gazette reported.

After a public hearing Nov. 30, the rules likely will take effect April 30, at the latest, but that date could be moved up if the health department is ready to implement them sooner, according to the newspaper.

Michigan 2018 rec marijuana campaign to submit signatures

A statewide campaign in Michigan to legalize recreational cannabis will submit signatures to state officials on Monday in the hopes of qualifying for the 2018 ballot.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol plans to deliver roughly 363,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office, well over the 252,523 necessary to make the ballot, campaign officials said.

The coalition also announced it has another industry backer – the National Cannabis Industry Association, which has in the past typically not been involved in many statewide legalization campaigns.

The coalition already includes Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance and several other state and national organizations.

“(NCIA’s) support has come at a vital phase of the signature drive and is helping to push us into the next chapter of the campaign where we will be urging for the YES vote,” the campaign’s communications director, Josh Hovey, wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.

Hovey said NCIA has also committed to helping fund the 2018 campaign and will be assisting in other ways, including connecting the campaign to potential donors and volunteers.

Michigan is one of the few states expected to have a ballot measure on either medical or recreational cannabis legalization in 2018, along with Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah.