Cannabis Industry Daily News

Maine accepting applications for industrial hemp licenses

Maine residents who want to grow industrial hemp can now apply for the 2018 growing season.

The fee schedule for prospective growers is $100 per application, $500 per license and $50 per acre.

Maine has allowed industrial hemp cultivation since 2016, but federal law requires a permit for the cannabis plant, regardless of what it’s grown for.

States and higher education institutions can seek permits for hemp grown for research purposes.

However, Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry doesn’t plan to apply for such a permit, and regulators are unaware of universities seeking a permit.

Maine law also requires industrial hemp growers to certify their seed source.

Despite such barriers, the department says it signed 33 agreements with hemp growers this year, up from two in 2016.

– Associated Press

US prosecutor in Colorado signals no change in stance toward marijuana businesses

The top federal prosecutor in Colorado indicated his office is unlikely to make any major changes in its enforcement stance toward legal marijuana businesses operating across the state.

U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer of the District of Colorado said his office’s policies already mesh with those outlined Thursday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions – and that he will continue to target MJ businesses that pose a threat to public safety.

“The United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions — focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state,” Troyer said in a statement.

“We will, consistent with the Attorney General’s latest guidance, continue to take this approach in all of our work with our law enforcement partners throughout Colorado.”

Sessions announced Thursday that the Justice Department would abandon the Obama-era Cole memo that allowed the cannabis industry to operate in states across America.

Sessions’ new stance will instead allow U.S. prosecutors in the 30 states and the District of Columbia with legal marijuana laws to decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding federal law prohibiting the sale and cultivation of the plant.

In his statement, Troyer said the Sessions announcement simply “directed that federal marijuana prosecution decisions be governed by the same principles that have long governed all of our prosecution decisions.”

Massachusetts to continue rolling out rec cannabis legalization, officials say

Massachusetts cannabis regulators said Thursday they will proceed with plans to legalize recreational marijuana, downplaying Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reported decision to rescind an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized cannabis to flourish.

The state’s five-member Cannabis Control Commission said in a statement its job “remains the same,” the Boston Herald reported.

“As far as the mandate and the work of the Cannabis Control Commission is concerned, nothing has changed,” the panel’s statement said. “We will continue to move forward with our process to establish and implement sensible regulations for this emerging industry in Massachusetts.”

According to the Herald, the commission said it plans to “fulfill the will” of Massachusetts voters who legalized adult-use marijuana during the November 2016 election.

“Our priority has always been to protect public safety and develop regulations that are compliant with all laws, including those passed by the voters and the legislature legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the Commonwealth,” the commission said in its statement.

First Pennsylvania medical marijuana dispensary gets green light to begin sales

Pennsylvania regulators have given their first approval for a dispensary to begin providing medical marijuana once product becomes available from a licensed grower.

The Keystone Canna Remedies dispensary in Bethlehem received the health department’s authorization Thursday, a major milestone for Pennsylvania’s nascent MMJ program.

Regulators last week approved eight of 12 licensed companies to begin growing medical marijuana, and products are expected to be available to patients in the next four months.

A 2016 state law legalized medical marijuana for people suffering from one of 17 qualifying conditions.

More than a thousand Pennsylvania patients have been certified by a doctor to use medical marijuana.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily

Canadian hemp company inks California distribution deal

A Canadian hemp company clinched a California distribution deal that will see its CBD-infused foods and waters on shelves in 550 dispensaries.

Phivida Holdings of Vancouver, British Columbia, said it struck the agreement Wednesday with Green Reef Distribution, a company in Santa Monica, California, that distributes cannabis products.

The Green Reef deal gives Phivida its first CBD presence in the U.S. market. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Phivida adds hemp-derived CBD to foods, juices and tinctures. The company’s stock is traded on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker symbol VIDA.

California is the world’s largest cannabis market, but the state does not yet allow hemp production.

A California hemp law passed in 2016 allowed interested farmers to grow hemp under limited conditions.

But two years later the program is yet to be implemented. The result is that many CBD products for sale in California are imported from out of state.

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Maryland community bank accepting marijuana business accounts

A local bank in Maryland is helping medical marijuana businesses alleviate a major headache in the cannabis industry.

According to The Washington Post, two marijuana dispensaries and two cultivators have opened accounts with Severn Savings Bank, an Annapolis community bank owned by publicly traded Severn Bancorp.

This is an operational boon for any cannabis business, given that many must deal strictly in cash – a situation that can trigger logistical issues and security concerns.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Severn requires “hefty” fees. One cannabis client pays $1,750 a month to use the bank.
  • Account holders aren’t allowed to write checks or take out loans.
  • Cannabis businesses using the bank’s services are allowed to pay employees via an automatic debit system and purchase supplies with a debit card.
  • Licensed businesses with Severn accounts include: SunMed Growers, a cultivator in Cecil County; Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Cumberland; Time for Healing dispensary in Prince George’s County, and Green Leaf Medical in Frederick.
  • Maryland’s medical marijuana dispensaries began legal sales to customers last month.

Multistate marijuana testing lab company announces acquisition in California

Oregon-based cannabis testing firm Evio Labs said it’s acquiring competitor C3 Labs in Berkeley, California, which will give it a presence in the Bay Area to go with its labs in Southern California and north of Sacramento.

Evio operates 10 testing labs in five states: four in Oregon, two in California, two in Florida and one apiece in Colorado and Massachusetts, according to the company’s website. C3 in Berkeley will be its 11th.

Under the terms of the deal, Evio acquired a 60% stake in C3, with an option to purchase the remaining ownership stakes, according to a news release. A final price will be determined at a later date.

The C3 lab has also already been granted a temporary business license for California effective Jan. 1, meaning the lab will be able to continue operations uninterrupted, despite the launch of the new California regulated market on New Year’s Day.

Evio CEO William Waldrop called the acquisition “a tremendous milestone” for the company as it continues its push for national expansion, and noted that the Berkeley C3 lab had racked up $1 million in revenues over the last two years.

Mandatory cannabis product testing will kick in starting in July for California MJ businesses, which means demand for testing services will ramp up throughout 2018.

Utah launches CBD probe, but some retailers unfazed

CBD chaos has spread to Utah, where state authorities have launched an investigation of the nascent cannabidiol industry even as business owners are risking expansion into the hot market.

The confusion started in late December, when the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing seized about $400 worth of CBD products from an antiques store southeast of Salt Lake City.

Authorities did not charge the store owner with a crime, but they issued an administrative subpoena telling him that CBD cannot be sold, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

“It’s not legal,” Lt. Todd Royce, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, told the newspaper.

Utah is among the states that have authorized CBD use, but only for people with certain medical conditions.

However, it’s unclear whether hemp-derived CBD is legal if the plant is grown under federal authorization.

Similar CBD confusion has bedeviled other states that carved out CBD-only laws.

It’s legal to grow hemp under 0.3% THC in any state that allows it.

But the CBD-only states have no way of knowing whether products on shelves were derived from legal hemp, or if retailers are selling marijuana-derived CBD to people who don’t qualify.

Some Utah retailers are undaunted by the legal confusion, according to the Tribune.

“If you’re getting CBD oil from the hemp plant, you are legally fine,” said Michael Bowen, who co-owns the Salt Lake City-based apothecary Natural Law and plans to sell CBD.

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Florida recreational marijuana legalization groups say they won’t make 2018 ballot

It looks as if Florida’s bid to legalize recreational cannabis will have to wait until at least 2020.

Two separate campaigns trying to gather the requisite 766,000 voter signatures to place initiatives on the November 2018 ballot told the Naples Daily News that they won’t make the threshold.

And that means there almost certainly won’t be a rec ballot measure for voters to weigh in on this year.

The deadline for the two campaigns to submit their petitions to the state is Feb. 1.

But, according to the newspaper, the two groups – Regulate Florida and Floridians for Freedom – collected only about 40,000 signatures and 30,000 signatures, respectively.

Public support would likely be behind legalization advocates, with recent polling showing that 64% of voters support full legalization.

But as the Daily News noted, it takes millions of dollars to run a successful statewide political campaign.

A Florida bid to legalize medical marijuana failed the first time it was on the ballot, in 2014.

A second campaign arguably was successful in 2016 only because millionaire benefactor and Orlando attorney John Morgan threw $9 million of his own money into the movement over the course of the two political cycles.

By contrast, no wealthy philanthropists are bankrolling the rec legalization bid. And the two campaigns raised less than $300,000 between them, the Daily News reported.

Ex-boxing champ Mike Tyson breaks ground on 40-acre cannabis facility in California

Former boxing heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is looking to capitalize on the launch of legal recreational marijuana sales in California.

According to The Blast, Tyson broke ground on a 40-acre plot of land in California City, a small desert town 60 miles southwest of Death Valley National Park.

The facility, Tyson Ranch, was unveiled Monday, the same day the Golden State began legal adult-use sales.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Twenty acres of land will be dedicated to controlled-climate cultivation.
  •  A “cultivation school” will offer classes on state-of-the-art growing techniques.
  • The operation will include an extraction facility, an edibles factory and a plant and supply store.
  • The ranch will carry out research for the medicinal uses of cannabis.
  • The operating company, Tyson Holistic, supports former members of the armed forces by employing mainly veterans.
  • The facility hasn’t said when it will open to the public.

Court ruling puts black farmer closer to Florida medical cannabis license

A Florida judge has issued an injunction blocking the state’s health department from awarding a medical marijuana cultivation license that had been earmarked for members of a black farmers association.

Circuit Judge Charles Dodson’s injunction essentially agrees with a lawsuit filed last September, the Panama City News Herald reported.

The state’s attorney in the case and the lawyer representing a black farmer must now draft a judgment for Dodson to sign.

The document would allow 82-year-old Columbus Smith to join roughly 12 other applicants for one of Florida’s 17 MMJ cultivation licenses, according to the newspaper.

In his lawsuit, Smith claims that a portion of Florida’s MMJ law was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

At issue is a stipulation in the law that one medical cannabis license be set aside for a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association who was involved in a 1981 lawsuit that accused the U.S. Department of Agriculture of discriminating against them.

The lawmakers’ intent was to atone for the first version of the state’s medical marijuana law, which essentially shut out black farmers.

However, most of the farmers from the 1981 lawsuit have died, leaving fewer than 20 farmers who met both requirements.

Smith participated in the 1981 lawsuit – Pigford v. Glickman – but wasn’t a member of the black farmers association. And the group quit accepting new members before the state set aside an MMJ license for black farmers last June.

MassRoots creates blockchain subsidiary in bid to increase marijuana efficiencies

Colorado-based cannabis technology company MassRoots on Friday announced it has formed a subsidiary that will focus on blockchain-based digital ledgers.

The new division, MassRoots Blockchain Technologies, will employ the same staffers as the parent company, MassRoots CEO and founder Isaac Dietrich told Marijuana Business Daily.

Blockchain technology is a digital ledger, or database, that continuously stores financial transactions and data records.

“We think blockchain allows the cannabis industry to operate more efficiently and with a greater degree of transparency,” Dietrich told MJBizDaily.

“I think the market is speaking very strongly that it likes companies who are interested in exploring blockchain technology.”

The forward-looking announcement comes after a tumultuous 2017 in which Dietrich was ousted from MassRoots’ board and replaced as CEO, only to be reinstated weeks later.

Blockchain will be integrated into MassRoots’ existing platform, including its social network app.

Existing clients won’t see much of a change, Dietrich said, but he hopes it will improve the back-end experience for users and businesses in the cannabis industry.

Dietrich said MassRoots raised $545,000 in its last quarterly filing for a cryptocurrency, which is the most well-known application for blockchain technology.

“That’s something we’re still exploring. Cryptocurrencies are taking off,” Dietrich said.

“We think there’s significant potential for cryptocurrencies, especially in solving problems faced by cannabis-related businesses.”

International technology giant IBM displayed similar thinking in November when it recommended blockchain to British Columbia, Canada, as a possible supply-management tool for its marijuana industry.