Cannabis Industry Daily News

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The nationwide coronavirus outbreak could hamper cannabis legalization efforts along the East Coast and elsewhere, raising further questions about the launch of lucrative new adult-use and medical markets in New York and other states.

Coronavirus already has caused a number of state legislatures to temporarily shut down, including ones on the East Coast that were weighing recreational marijuana legalization measures.

Read what experts told Marijuana Business Daily reporter Jeff Smith about the impact coronavirus could have on marijuana legalization efforts.

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.

New Jersey governor deems medical cannabis dispensaries ‘essential’

New Jersey became the latest state to classify medical cannabis dispensaries as “essential” businesses when the governor ordered all residents to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Phil Murphy issued the stay-at-home order on Saturday, saying residents could venture out for necessary travel, NJ.com reported.

Murphy’s declaration also ordered nonessential retail businesses in the state to close until further notice.

Medical marijuana dispensaries were among those businesses deemed essential and allowed to keep their doors open, along with grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other establishments, according to NJ.com.

New York also has deemed MMJ dispensaries essential. California and Illinois, meanwhile, have classified both medical and adult-use retail outlets as essential.

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.

Marijuana industry eyes impact from more stay-at-home orders

The governor of Illinois on Friday followed his counterparts in California and New York by issuing a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the growing coronavirus crisis.

And it appears that New Jersey and Connecticut may take similar steps, which could leave marijuana businesses in all of those states scrambling to figure out how – or if – they’ll be able to continue serving customers.

The Illinois order, for instance, included a provision ordering all “non-essential” businesses to close for the time being.

But cannabis businesses, including both medical and adult use shops as well as cultivators, were identified in Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order as “essential,” indicating perhaps little interruption to business as usual.

By contrast, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order, issued Friday, had no mention of cannabis or marijuana businesses.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut so far have only legalized marijuana for medical uses, which suggests it could be easier for policymakers to categorize marijuana businesses alongside hospitals and pharmacies, and allow them to remain operational during the coronavirus outbreak.

In California, the statewide order has not included any specific guidance for cannabis businesses.

Rather, it has led to a patchwork of local guidance from a handful of cities and counties.

The city of San Francisco on Monday told all MJ retailers to cease operations, but reversed that policy in less than 24 hours.

The situation may be different in each state, depending on how each governor chooses to classify the industry, as either part of “essential” businesses – such as the health-care sector – or if the cannabis industry is deemed to be more akin to bars and restaurants, which many states are ordering to temporarily close.

The California MJ industry has pushed back against mandated retail closures, citing the medical needs of thousands of patients that depend on cannabis regularly.

Many of those patients have let their medical marijuana recommendations from doctors lapse since adult-use sales began in 2018 – since it’s easier to purchase MJ products as an over-the-counter medication – and insiders don’t want to overburden doctors with a rush of consumers suddenly demanding new recommendations so they can legally continue buying MMJ.

– John Schroyer

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.

Cannabis group urges SBA loans made amid coronavirus crisis

A cannabis industry coalition is urging Congress to ensure that state-legal marijuana businesses are eligible for emergency loans from the Small Business Administration during the coronavirus outbreak.

The SBA announced earlier this month that it would provide disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans of up to $2 million each to small businesses affected by the coronavirus.

But an SBA official indicated that state-legal cannabis businesses wouldn’t be eligible since marijuana remains federally illegal.

In a letter Friday to U.S. House and Senate leaders, the National Cannabis Industry Association and four other industry groups requested that cannabis businesses be “treated on an equal level as all other job-generating, tax-paying companies in the country.”

The letter noted that the cannabis industry mostly consists of small- and medium-sized businesses and that those companies must comply with federal coronavirus mandates.

For example, President Trump on Wednesday signed a bill that includes a provision requiring employers to pay two weeks of sick leave to workers who need time off to take care of themselves or other family members during the coronavirus outbreak.

Hannah Caplan, an attorney for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Denver, said businesses with fewer than 500 employees will be required to comply.

The federal Labor Department, she noted, can make an exception to businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the policies threaten the viability of the business.

The law also would provide reimbursement for businesses, but it was unclear whether state-legal cannabis businesses would qualify for that reimbursement given marijuana’s illegal status at the federal level.

– Jeff Smith

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.

MJBizDaily postpones, cancels three cannabis trade events

Marijuana Business Daily has decided to postpone or cancel three upcoming cannabis industry trade events scheduled for the United States and overseas because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the details:

  • MJBizDaily’s Investor Intelligence Symposium, scheduled for next month in New York, has been canceled. Attendees have been notified. In lieu of the cancellation, MJBizDaily will launch a series of webinars starting April 7 to deliver the conference content free of charge to all cannabis industry executives.
  • The company has moved the co-located MJBizConNEXT and Hemp Industry Daily Conference events from early June to August 19-20 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Attendees, speakers, exhibitors and vendors have been notified.
  • MJBizDaily’s European Cannabis Symposium, scheduled for early May in Copenhagen, Denmark, has been postponed. The company is exploring new dates that will be announced in the coming weeks.

There is no anticipated date change for MJBizCon, scheduled for Dec. 2-4, 2020, in Las Vegas.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, MJBizDaily is adding to its overall editorial coverage, webinar schedule, podcasting and social media content to keep industry executives up to date on the latest news and developments. The MJBizDaily editorial team also wants to hear about your biggest needs. To participate, click here.

Tell us your business information needs as you battle the coronavirus

We’re reaching out to you, the cannabis business owner, with a few questions to help us get you the right information and tools as you respond to this global pandemic. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Thanks for helping us better support the cannabis community.

Colorado medical cannabis shop first to offer deliveries

The Native Roots Dandelion medical marijuana dispensary is the first in Colorado to be allowed to deliver medical marijuana under a new state law, regulators said.

The state Marijuana Enforcement Division granted the delivery permit to the dispensary in Boulder, Colorado.

The dispensary can only deliver products within the city of Boulder because local municipalities must approve MMJ deliveries within their borders.

Marijuana delivery activity has surged in many states because of the coronavirus threat. So far, Boulder and nearby Superior, Colorado, are the only communities in the state to allow MMJ deliveries.

“We are hopeful others will follow their lead and opt-in to medical delivery as soon as possible,” Shannon Fender, spokeswoman for Native Roots, said in a statement.

Native Roots is one of Colorado’s largest marijuana operators.

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.

Marijuana retailer Green Growth announces CEO’s departure

Green Growth Brands, a troubled marijuana retailer in the process of focusing solely on marijuana, said its CEO has stepped down, effective immediately.

The outgoing CEO, Peter Horvath, came to the Columbus, Ohio, company after leading strategies for retail giants such as Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, DSW and Limited Brands.

Horvath’s departure comes after a tumultuous few months for the company, which owns the nation’s largest chain of CBD retail kiosks.

After a disappointing holiday sales season, Green Growth Brands announced in February that it is selling most of its CBD kiosk business to focus on running marijuana dispensaries.

This week, the company said it has temporarily closed all its CBD kiosks because of the coronavirus pandemic while also suspending CBD e-commerce sales for its Seventh Sense line of CBD topical products.

In September, the company laid off about 50 employees to rein in costs.

Horvath told investors that “overhead costs” and unidentified “constraints on liquidity” required shedding the CBD side of its business.

Green Growth Brands said that former Chief Operating Officer Randy Whitaker would take over as interim CEO.

The company owns The Source marijuana dispensaries in Nevada and also has dispensaries in Florida and Massachusetts.

Green Growth Brands trades on the Canadian Securities Exchange as GGB and on the U.S. over-the-counter markets as GGBXF.

Nevada cannabis retailer is latest to offer medical-only sales

The Source, with two marijuana locations in Las Vegas, said it is transitioning to medical-only sales for its patients as an additional safety precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the latest retailer to do so.

The company said in a news release it will temporarily suspend recreational sales “until further notice.”

“Together, we can help medical patients receive the attention and safety needed to continue their care in this industry, and we will continue recreational sales at a later date, as the state of our city develops,” Brandon Wiegand, regional general manager, said in a statement.

Illinois marijuana retailers have reported similar moves.

MOCA Modern Cannabis suspended recreational marijuana sales last week to focus on more vulnerable MMJ customers, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago-based Dispensary 33 this week also halted recreational sales until further notice. The Tribune reported that the dispensary could not keep customers at a safe distances from each other.

In Massachusetts, New England Treatment Access (NETA) said that as of Monday its Brookline dispensary was serving only medical marijuana patients, according to MassLive.com.

NETA’s Northampton store remained open to both medical and adult-use customers.

Marijuana pioneer Hodas joins Colorado’s Wana Brands

A week after Wana Brand unveiled its entry into Canada, the Colorado-based marijuana edible maker on Wednesday announced it has hired industry veteran Joe Hodas to oversee the company’s growing marketing efforts.

“With Wana’s international expansion Joe will ensure that our brand and message remain consistent while helping us deliver at the highest level on the potential that every new market expansion provides,” Nancy Whiteman, CEO of the Boulder, Colorado-based company said in a news release.

In the new position as chief marketing officer for the company, Hodas will oversee the company’s marketing and advertising initiatives, including:

  • Planning
  • Development.
  • Execution.

Early in his cannabis career, Hodas was part of the team that built Denver-based Dixie Elixirs, a pioneer in the marijuana edibles industry.

Most recently, Hodas was CEO at Denver-based Gofire, a high-tech marijuana inhaler company.

Cannabis event MJBizCon nominated as a top 50 fastest-growing show

MJBizCon, the trade show for cannabis professionals hosted by Marijuana Business Daily, has been nominated as one of the fastest-growing shows in the United States.

MJBizCon was a nominee for Trade Show Executive’s Fastest 50 for 2019 in all three categories:

  • Net square footage.
  • Exhibiting companies.
  • Total attendance.

The 2019 show, held in December in Las Vegas, attracted a record 31,500 cannabis professionals and covered roughly 250,000 square feet of space.

The grand award from Trade Show Executives will be announced at the Fastest 50 Awards & Summit, May 13-15 in Las Vegas.

Last year, MJBizCon was anointed of the 50 fastest-growing trade shows for the fourth consecutive year by Trade Show Executive, another sign of the cannabis industry’s growth.

WA allows curbside medical marijuana sales during health crisis

Washington state is allowing licensed cannabis dispensaries with medically compliant products to provide curbside service to patients in order to “promote social distancing,” according to the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Dispensaries can temporarily sell to “qualified patients” outside of their businesses, but “within the licensed property line,” the agency said.

However, dispensaries may not operate drive-thru windows.

All Washington state marijuana stores have been allowed to remain open during the coronavirus crisis.

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.