Cannabis Industry Daily News

California cities may tax destroyed cannabis crops

Municipal governments across California are moving to tax marijuana cultivation facilities based on square footage, not on actual crop production.

Such an approach could mean cultivators will potentially have to pay taxes on crops that fail to generate revenue because they were destroyed by weather or other causes, like the recent wildfires, The Union reported.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Cannabis growers in Northern California are still reeling from wildfires that destroyed more than 30 cultivation facilities in October.
  • Officials in Nevada City, California, have proposed annual taxes on cultivators of $4 a year per square foot of canopy if the grow uses artificial lights; $3 per square foot if a cultivator uses both natural and artificial lighting; and $1 per square foot for all natural grows. Voters still must approve the proposal.
  • The city said it followed the lead of other municipalities across the state when it drafted its tax structure.
  • A member of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance’s executive committee attempted to convince Nevada City to base marijuana cultivation taxes on sales. But the city council said there was too little time to finalize the rules and get them on a ballot.

Help wanted: cannabis inspector in Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ legalization of recreational marijuana has resulted in an unexpected job opportunity – an agricultural inspector for cannabis.

A job description posted on the state’s website says it’s seeking someone to enforce laws and regulations involving marijuana and hemp.

Necessary qualifications include a degree in a field such as biology, chemistry or plant pathology.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources also would like candidates to have experience with or knowledge about cannabis and how it’s regulated in other states as well as experience enforcing rules and regulations.

– Associated Press

$2 million will buy a medical marijuana ‘farm’ in Michigan

With medical cannabis already legal in Michigan and recreational marijuana possibly on the horizon next year, one businessman in the state who’s been leasing space to MMJ caregivers is trying to sell his operation for $2 million.

The 82-acre “farm” is already parsed into eight smaller indoor growing blocs, which the owner leases out for $10,000 a year to medical cannabis caregivers, Mlive.com reported.

But the owner – David Overholt – is asking $2 million for the entire facility on the basis that the state market is about to explode, especially if an adult-use legalization ballot measure makes it past voters in November 2018.

However, the facility is technically located in Sidney Township, which, has decided not to license any MMJ businesses, according to Mlive.com.

That means won’t be allowed to be grown legally at his farm unless local law changes.

Still, the asking price is another early indicator of how hot – and how competitive – the Michigan cannabis market could become, especially if voters legalize adult use next year as many expect.

Maine lawmakers vote to sustain gov’s recreational cannabis veto

The Maine House of Representatives on Monday opted not to overturn the governor’s veto of a bill that would have implemented a recreational marijuana ballot measure approved by voters last year.

Gov. Paul LePage wrote in a veto letter last week that he torpedoed the bill because it “sets unrealistic timelines for launching the market, fails to address shortcomings in the medical marijuana program, creates a confusing regulatory system and might not generate enough tax revenue to cover the cost of market implementation,” the Press Herald reported.

He also stressed that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

The House’s 74-62 vote fell short of the “two-thirds of members present threshold” needed to override LePage’s veto, according to the Bangor Daily News.

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, a LePage ally, said that even if the override vote in the House had succeeded, it probably wouldn’t have changed a moratorium on rec sales that’s in place until February and could be extended.

Since the legislature has failed to establish an implementation scheme, the automatic fallback is the outline contained in last year’s ballot initiative.

It’s also possible, however, that MJ advocates could sue to force the state to establish some sort of regulatory framework.

North Dakota’s MMJ program won’t be ready for at least a year

North Dakota regulators are proposing rules that would allow for the sale of medical cannabis in “11 to 13 months,” Valley News Live reported.

Under the proposed rules – filed by the state health department with the Legislative Council – prospective dispensaries, manufacturers and testing labs won’t be able to apply for licenses until April at the earliest, according to the Fargo-based news outlet.

The latest timetable for the launch of MMJ sales conflicts with one the health department laid out in July.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The proposed rules include requirements for security, lab testing and transportation.
  • The health department plans to file all required information no later than Feb. 1 and to present the rules to the legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee. The agency will take public comment through Dec. 26.
  • Jason Wahl was appointed interim director of North Dakota’s medical marijuana division, according to the Bismarck Tribune. He replaces retiring Kenan Bullinger, effective Nov. 1.
  • North Dakota voters approved medical marijuana in November 2016, and the governor signed off on preliminary regulations in April.

CA senator: San Francisco proposal a ‘ban’ on new cannabis firms

A San Francisco land-use committee has given an initial green light to a restrictive zoning proposal that one state senator from the city is claiming would “ban all new cannabis retail businesses in almost all of San Francisco.”

Sen. Scott Wiener – a former member of the board of supervisors – wrote in a lengthy Facebook post that the new zoning rules are tantamount to a ban because the city is adopting a 1,000-foot buffer between MJ businesses and schools, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The buffer is stricter than the state-mandated, 600-foot setback rule for cannabis companies.

“We’re not just talking about severely restricting or banning traditional cannabis dispensaries,” Wiener wrote.

“These restrictions apply to *all* cannabis businesses, ranging from dispensaries to edibles to ointments and oils to every other conceivable cannabis product. And, we’re talking almost everywhere.”

The zoning proposals face another board hearing Monday and will go before the full city board of supervisors Nov. 14.

MJ Freeway’s point-of-sale system goes down again

MJ Freeway’s recreational and medical marijuana point-of-sale clients experienced another outage Friday.

Retail and dispensary clients using the company’s Tracker system experienced incorrect prices appearing on cannabis products, so MJ Freeway pulled the system down in the afternoon with hopes of getting back online by the end of the day.

Some retailers lost transaction histories for the entire day and some logged transactions by hand and on spreadsheets.

Marijuana businesses industrywide experienced the outage.

The majority of MJ Freeway’s 1,000-plus clients use the company’s legacy Tracker product, according to Jeannette Ward, the company’s director of data and marketing.

One of the cannabis industry’s leading technology firms, MJ Freeway has developed new software that it plans to implement in 2018.

The outage Friday was similar to what MJ Freeway clients experienced last month, when retailers across the industry who use the Tracker software were forced to close and lost thousands of dollars in business.

Maine gov vetoes bill to regulate recreational cannabis sales

As expected, Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Friday vetoed a bill to regulate sales of recreational marijuana, citing concerns such as how the Trump administration might react to states that have legalized cannabis.

His veto sets up a potential showdown when Maine lawmakers reconvene Monday.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Friday was the last day for LePage to veto the bill, which voters passed in a statewide referendum vote in 2016.
  • Legalization forces have remained hopeful they can persuade a small number of representatives who voted against the measure to support an override vote.
  • If the veto override by lawmakers fails, the original legalization initiative passed by voters would become the statute on the books. It’s not as comprehensive as the new bill but still provides guidelines for regulators.
  • These hurdles mean Maine’s recreational cannabis program may get pushed back until late next year or even early 2019.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily

Tommy Chong partners with marijuana paraphernalia company

Another marijuana company is looking to a celebrity to help market its product.

According to a news release, Los Angeles-based Daily High Club has partnered with cannabis comedian/actor Tommy Chong to produce a smoking supply box – including smoking paraphernalia such as rolling papers and glass – that’s delivered monthly to customers’ homes.

Here’s what you need to know:

Ohio awards 11 medical marijuana cultivation licenses

Ohio handed out its first 11 cultivation licenses for the state’s fledgling medical marijuana program, but it could be months before the first crops are planted.

All the licenses awarded Friday were so-called Level II permits given to smaller growers who are allowed to cultivate up to 3,000 square feet. That’s a small portion of the anticipated total cultivation space in the state.

Before any cultivation can begin, however, growers have to get their businesses up and running and a state team must make facility visits.

Up to a dozen larger growers for sites up to 25,000 square feet are expected to be announced later this month.

The Level II licensees, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, are:

  • Fire Rock, with sites in Columbus, Canton and Akron (score: 178.92 points)
  • FN Group Holdings, Ravenna (176.76)
  • Mother Grows Best, Canton (172)
  • OhiGrow, Toledo (168.76)
  • Ancient Roots, Wilmington (168.76)
  • Ohio Clean Leaf, Dayton and Carroll (160.56)
  • Ascension BioMedical, Oberlin (157.08)
  • Agri-Med Ohio, Langsville (156.60)
  • Paragon Development Group, Huber Heights (154.56)
  • Hemma, Monroe (151.28)
  • Galenas, Akron (148.92)

Each license is for one site only, and companies that applied for multiple sites have 10 business days to pick the location for their  license, the newspaper reported.

Regulators received 76 applications for Level II licenses and 109 applications for Level 1 licenses.

The application process for cannabis producer and MMJ dispensary licenses will open in the next couple of months, according to the Plain Dealer.

– Associated Press

White House rejects medical marijuana as opioid alternative

In a move that brought scathing condemnation from a Florida Republican congressman, the White House’s commission on the opioid epidemic has rejected calls to support medical marijuana as an alternative for pain patients.

The commission “specifically declined to endorse the use of marijuana for pain,” The Washington Post reported.

In addition, the commission’s chair, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, drew parallels between the opioid epidemic and the growing popularity of medical cannabis, a statement that U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL, called “outrageous.”

Positive endorsements likely would have led to increased interest in medical marijuana and, possibly, sales around the nation.

According to The Cannabist, Gaetz harshly condemned the MMJ views of the notoriously anti-marijuana Christie, saying, “it is shortsighted, it is inaccurate, and it is indefensible to suggest that the proliferation of medical cannabis – that is saving lives and improving the quality of life for people – somehow is analogous to the plague of the opioid crisis.”

Gaetz also said that “the federal government has lied to the American people for a generation about cannabis in asserting that it has no medical value.”

He was speaking at an event put on by the American Legion, which is a major supporter of medical cannabis and of increasing access to MMJ for military veterans.

Gaetz’s comments are noteworthy in that marijuana reform for years has been more of an issue championed by Democrats, but Republicans are increasingly joining the cause.

First Texas CBD crop set to be planted

One of just three licensed growers of a high-CBD medical marijuana strain in Texas announced it plans to begin cultivation operations this week.

Compassionate Cultivation, which was awarded one of the licenses in May, said in a news release it has received its license “and will immediately start cultivating its first crop” at its facility in Austin.

CBD oil made from the crop could be available for sale as soon as January, the company said.

The company is also working hand-in-hand with operations partner MJardin, which runs 30 medical cannabis cultivation facilities in 13 states.

Another licensee, Cansortium Texas, was given final approval by the state in September to begin operations. The company announced last month it plans to begin CBD sales in December.

But the third licensee, Surterra Texas, is still waiting on its permit, the Houston Press reported.

Under Texas’ restrictive CBD law, only patients with intractable epilepsy qualify to purchase and use the cannabis-derived CBD oil that the three licensed companies will produce.