Cannabis Industry Daily News

Nevada rule extension allows rec cannabis sales to continue

The Nevada Tax Commission has extended the emergency regulations that allow recreational marijuana sales to continue another 120 days. The rules were scheduled to expire Nov. 1.

The emergency rules were originally enacted to enable an “early rollout” of the rec program – beginning July 1 – while the legislature finalized regulations for a full adult-use industry. The rules must still be approval by lawmakers, the Nevada Appeal reported.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Legislative Counsel Bureau plans to provide the taxation department with permanent adult-use regulations in a couple of weeks, signaling the start of the legislative approval process.
  • Legislation that voters passed in November 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana gave liquor distributors exclusive rights to cannabis distribution for the first year and a half of adult-use sales.
  • Thirty-one distributors were licensed as of September.
  • The Nevada tax director told the commission that wholesale recreational cannabis currently is valued at $2,145 a pound, or $134 an ounce. The figure is used to determine the wholesale and retail taxes imposed on adult-use cannabis.

Michigan rule change gives MMJ businesses new lease on life

In a business-buoying flip-flop, Michigan regulators said that existing medical marijuana dispensaries can stay open while seeking a state license as long as they have been operating with the approval of their communities.

State regulators had given dispensaries until Dec. 15 to close or risk being denied a license for defying the command to shut down. But that edict sparked a backlash from patients, shop owners and others.

The state intends to issue emergency rules later this month allowing certain dispensaries to remain open.

MMJ dispensaries that have been operating under local ordinances since before Dec. 15 must submit a prequalification application for licensure by Feb. 15 and a document – signed by an authorized clerk – affirming they had government approval to operate.

Businesses that don’t apply for a license must stop operating by Feb. 15. Dispensaries that do apply for a license but are denied one must stop operating by June 15.

State officials expect to begin issuing licenses by April.

– Associated Press

Wana Brands plans to stretch its footprint to nine cannabis markets

Colorado-based edibles maker Wana Brands announced a planned expansion into six new marijuana states by the end of 2018, another example of how the cannabis industry is increasingly becoming a national business.

Wana, which already has products available in Nevada and Oregon aside from its home state, will be in Arizona sometime this month, according to a company news release.

In 2018, Wana plans to be available in Illinois and Florida in the first quarter, in Maryland in the second quarter and in California and Pennsylvania by the end of the year.

That’s a total of nine states in which Wana Brands will have a market presence, likely alongside other MJ companies that are also looking to establish a national footprint.

Marijuana payment firm to put $2.86M raise toward expansion

Marijuana payment service PayQwick, which brands itself as the PayPal of marijuana, has secured a $2.86 million raise.

According to a news release, the Calabasas, California-based company plans to use the funding to increase sales and product development as it expands into California, Nevada, Michigan and Alaska.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • PayQwick allows cultivators, processors and retailers to pay each other as well as to pay for ancillary services such as lawyers, accountants and insurance companies.
  • The company also facilitates consumer transactions.
  • PayQwick is licensed to operate in Washington state, Oregon and Arizona and has made forays into Colorado.

NJ court: Marijuana’s Schedule 1 status must be reviewed

In a move that could have important implications for the legalized marijuana industry, a New Jersey appeals court has ruled that the state should review marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug, which makes it illegal under federal law.

Schedule 1 denotes substances that have no accepted medical use and are easy to abuse. The classification includes heroin.

Because marijuana is being used to treat health ailments, New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs must reevaluate the Schedule 1 classification under the appellate court’s ruling, reported.

The medical benefits of marijuana are “abundant and glaringly apparent now” but weren’t known in 1971 when New Jersey adopted the federal classification, the court ruling said.

Judge Michael Guadagno wrote the ruling. The judge is married to the state’s Republican candidate for governor, Kim Guadagno, who currently is New Jersey’s lieutenant governor, reported.

The attorney general’s office plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

FDA sends another round of warnings to CBD producers

Federal drug authorities have sent another round of warning letters to CBD producers about making health claims.

The recipients include CW Hemp, the Colorado Springs, Colorado, company that supplies the popular Charlotte’s Web medicine for intractable epilepsy.

The Food and Drug Administration sent four warning letters Wednesday to two Colorado companies – CW Hemp and Pueblo-based That’s Natural! Marketing & Consulting – as well as to Greenroads Health of Pembroke Pines, Florida, and Natural Alchemist of El Dorado Hills, California.

The warnings were first reported by The Denver Post.

The FDA accused the four companies of making unsubstantiated health claims about their products for treating cancer, Alzheimer’s and “other serious diseases.”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA’s commissioner, said the CBD marketing “may steer patients away from products that have proven, anti-tumor effects that could extend lives.”

The FDA has repeatedly reviewed cannabis as a medical treatment and rejected it.

The agency has stepped up warnings about medical marijuana and CBD in recent years. Last year the agency sent eight warning letters to CBD makers about health claims.

FDA warning letters generally result in a manufacturer changing its marketing.

Unheeded FDA warning letters can result in product seizures. It doesn’t appear that the FDA has pursued product seizures or an injunction after warning a CBD manufacturer not to make health claims.

In the latest warning letters, the FDA denied the companies’ claims that the products can be classified as dietary supplements. The companies had cited the Investigational New Drug Applications submitted for CBD-containing pharmaceutical drug candidates Sativex and Epidiolex.

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Cleveland nixes 95% of real estate for medical cannabis businesses

Only about 5% of land in Cleveland would be eligible for medical cannabis businesses to set up shop under a new and highly restrictive ordinance approved by the city council this week.

The ordinance – approved on a 15-1 vote by the council – leaves precious little space in one of Ohio’s biggest cities for MMJ dispensaries, grow operations, infused product makers and testing labs, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

The ordinance prohibits MMJ companies from locating within 500 feet of schools, churches, public libraries, playgrounds or public parks.

It also permits MMJ businesses only on properties that are zoned as “a general retail district or one of three industrial property designations,” according to the newspaper. And any property zoned for local retail businesses or as residential can’t be used by medical cannabis businesses.

However, a first draft of the ordinance would have made the 500-foot rule into a 1,000-foot rule, essentially banning MMJ in Cleveland.

So perhaps local MMJ companies should be grateful they’ll be able to get any space at all in the city.

Puerto Rico enacts new medical cannabis law

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello has signed into law an updated medical marijuana statute after deciding a previous MMJ legalization measure wasn’t thorough enough.

Roughly 20 medical marijuana dispensaries are already operating on the island, according to a count on Weedmaps. The dispensaries began opening for business in January after the island’s health department promulgated industry rules a year earlier.

Rossello said the new law is intended to safeguard patient safety and also “highlights the role of research and development of medicinal cannabis, which in turn will promote economic development (and) creation of jobs,” according to the EFE news agency. The law also means the U.S. territory could collect upwards of $50 million a month in taxes and fines, the Daily Mail of London reported.

The new law doesn’t allow smokable marijuana, but vaping is permitted, according to Godwin Aldarondo, a cannabis-focused attorney in Puerto Rico.

Now that Puerto Rico’s MMJ industry has full governmental support, the island could become a cannabis tourism mecca in the Caribbean. The law includes a reciprocity policy that allows dispensaries to serve patients who hold medical marijuana cards from their home states, according to Aldarondo.

Pew: 54% of American Adults Think Marijuana Should Be Legal

The Pew Research Center’s most recent poll regarding marijuana legality shows a majority of Americans are now in favor of legalizing.

Back in 2009, just four years ago, 52% of polled adults said marijuana use should not be legal. Now only 42% are against legalization with 54% saying they are in favor. 

When researchers dug deeper with more questions about legalization specifics, 83% of respondents said they would approve of some form of legalization. This broke down to 44% of respondents saying only medical marijuana should be legal, and 39% of respondents saying recreational should be legal as well.  Just 16% of respondents said cannabis should not be legal in any form.

Pew’s researchers called 1,891 adults across the US in February, at a time when Colorado’s first days of legalized recreational sales were still very much in the media.

The researchers also asked, if marijuana were as widely available as alcohol is, which would be more harmful to people’s health and society? Only 15% of people polled felt cannabis was harmful to health, and 23% said it would be harmful to society. To put this in perspective, alcohol received far worse marks, with 69% saying it was harmful to health and 63% saying it was harmful to society.

However, being in favor of legalization does not necessarily mean being in favor of public smoking. 63% of Americans said they would be bothered by people using the drug in public, while just 15% cared if people use marijuana in their homes. Only 41% said they would be bothered if a cannabis retailer opened in their own neighborhood. We suspect this data could change for the worse if more people encountered cannabis retail in areas of downtown Denver where public smoking seems to be the norm these days.

Worth noting: Americans’ attitudes toward other drugs have not shifted much since the mid 1990s. 87% of respondents described drug abuse as a crisis or serious problem in America today. 50% said drug abuse was a crisis or serious problem in their own neighborhoods and schools.