Cannabis Industry Daily News

Medical marijuana website awarded federal trademark

Budtrader.com, an ancillary medical cannabis industry website that acts as an advertising platform for marijuana businesses, has won a federal trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The victory could be a significant landmark for the industry, given marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance and the resulting legal complications for cannabis-related businesses.

Budtrader.com was awarded a trademark after 15 months of “legal wrangling,” CEO Brad McLaughlin said in a news release.

“This decision by the feds to grant Budtrader its trademark sets a precedent, and this will hopefully make it easier for others in the cannabis space to do the same in the future,” McLaughlin said. “This decision means we have turned a corner as an industry.”

Over 1 million MMJ patients utilize the website, according to Budtrader.com.

CA treasurer pushes state-run bank for cannabis businesses

California’s state treasurer isn’t waiting on the federal government to solve marijuana businesses’ banking problem.

Treasurer John Chiang and members of a working group he formed are calling on California officials to create a state-government-run bank to serve marijuana companies, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The recommendation by Chiang’s group bolsters a growing movement that wants cities and states to create public banks for marijuana businesses.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Over the course of the year, Chiang’s group heard from cannabis business owners about their banking challenges and difficulties paying taxes.
  • In addition to a California-run bank, the group recommended that state and local bodies that regulate marijuana businesses make information about the companies available to banks. Such a move would help financial institutions feel more at ease handling cannabis funds, the group concluded.
  • The group called for the formation of a multistate group to lobby Congress to relax federal regulations on marijuana.
  • It also recommended that California hire armored car services to pick up tax payments from cannabis companies so they don’t have to drop off bags of cash at the tax office.

Hemp wins unanimous approval in Wisconsin Senate

Hemp is cruising through the Wisconsin state legislature, where the Senate voted 33-0 to approve cultivation of the new crop.

The Wisconsin bill hemp bill now heads to the Assembly, which scheduled a hemp hearing Wednesday.

The final Assembly vote on hemp could come Thursday, according to WHBL-TV, possibly sending the bill to Republican Gov. Scott Walker for final approval.

But it’s not clear if Walker would support the hemp bill, which is similar to hemp laws in other states in that it defines hemp as cannabis below 0.3 percent THC and requiring background checks of potential growers.

Last month, Walker told WEAU-TV that he’ll consider hemp, though he has “a concern in anything that would lead to (marijuana) legalization.”

Walker did approve a law earlier this year to allow the possession of marijuana-derived CBD oil and to expand the medical conditions for which it can be used beyond “seizure disorders.”

Walker’s approval would make Wisconsin the 35th state to put a hemp law on the books since production was legalized in 2014. However, some states have hemp laws but no hemp production because rules are still being worked out.

The Chippewa tribe in northern Wisconsin voted last summer to authorize hemp production.

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CBD products are usually mislabeled, study finds

Most CBD products sold online don’t contain the promised amount of CBD, a potential red flag for regulators deciding whether to crack down on a product commonly used for medical reasons.

A study published Tuesday in a leading medical publication, the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that less than a third of CBD products bought by researchers were correctly labeled.

The researchers bought 84 CBD products online and had them tested in Colorado labs. The findings:

  • About 43% contained more CBD than the label claimed.
  • About 26% contained less CBD than promised.
  • About 31% were within 10 percentage points of the promise.

Also alarming to researchers was that about one in five of the CBD products contained THC, even though CBD products commonly tout their lack of the psychoactive ingredient.

The study drops just as international drug regulators are considering how to regulate CBD.

The World Health Organization, a United Nations health agency, heard testimony this week about whether CBD should come under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warnings last week to four CBD manufacturers about making health claims. The FDA believes that CBD has not undergone adequate scientific review for use as a drug therapy, though CBD sales are booming amid ongoing legal uncertainty about the product’s legal status.

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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