Cannabis Industry Daily News

Three Nevada marijuana retailers accused of selling contaminated flower

Nevada regulators are investigating three recreational cannabis stores for selling tainted flower, part of a larger, ongoing problem for the state regarding testing of marijuana products.

The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) and the Department of Taxation told all Nevada cannabis retailers in March to stop selling Cherry OG F3 because the flower failed lab tests for mold, coliforms, enterobacteriaceae and aspergillus.

The stores were directed to destroy or return the cannabis to the grower, but the stores resumed selling the product in May, according to the CCB.

Roughly 375 grams of the strain were sold in May and June at three cannabis shops in Las Vegas:

  • Waveseer of Las Vegas (Jenny’s Dispensary)
  • Paradise Wellness Center (Las Vegas ReLeaf)
  • Desert Aire Wellness (Sahara Wellness)

The CCB said it has received no reports of anyone getting sick from consuming the Cherry OG F3 flower.

This situation comes on the heels of:

  • A February incident in which 20 tainted cannabis products, flower and pre-rolls were sold in 30 cannabis retail stores. The products initially passed testing.
  • Regulators launching an investigation last September into the state’s cannabis testing labs.

Massachusetts recreational cannabis social equity-boosting measures fail

Efforts to increase social equity funding for adult-use marijuana applicants in Massachusetts and diversify the industry have stalled in this year’s state legislative session.

Massachusetts lawmakers declined to endorse a number of last-minute amendments designed to bolster the state’s retail cannabis social equity programs, the Boston Business Journal reported.

Massachusetts’s adult-use cannabis program includes social equity provisions, but the efforts have been slow to develop. In fact, the state’s first adult-use store with social equity owners didn’t open its doors until January.

Lack of capital often is cited as the biggest barrier.

“We haven’t gotten equity,” Shanel Lindsay, CEO of Boston biotech company Ardent Cannabis and co-founder of advocacy group Equal Opportunities Now, told the Business Journal.

“And it’s frustrating to see (Massachusetts’ cannabis industry) held up as a success story, when we are not that.”

The amendments would have:

  • Created a social equity loan fund.
  • Used industry fines to help subsidize the program.
  • Strengthened state oversight of cannabis municipal contracts.

For a sampling of organizations and efforts that support, foster and enhance social equity in the cannabis industry as well as opportunities for minorities, overall diversity and racial justice, click here

Illinois recreational marijuana licensing delays lengthen

The next round of adult-use cannabis licensing in Illinois remains up in the air thanks to a delay in the application scoring process caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The delays could be especially costly for cultivators and infusers that, unlike retail applicants, had to secure locations in advance.

A state official indicated that KPMG, which is being paid $6.7 million to evaluate the applications, is still working on scoring the applicants, the Chicago Tribune reported.

No timeline for awarding licenses has been made, but the official indicated to the newspaper that it could be September before the 75 store licenses are awarded. It could be even longer before the 40 grower permits and 40 processor licenses are issued.

The retail licenses were to be awarded in May and the others in July, so the ongoing delays are expected to reach at least four months.

The COVID-19 pandemic also could make it more difficult for social equity applicants to establish themselves.

Illinois had been considered at the forefront of the issue.

Cannabis edibles maker Medically Correct ends deal with Schwazze

Medically Correct, a longtime Denver-based marijuana edibles maker, announced it will not proceed with a proposed acquisition by Schwazze.

It’s one of several such deals to fall apart in recent months for Schwazze, also based in Denver.

“Our decision to terminate this acquisition comes as we shift our focus toward the development and national expansion of our new brands,” Bob Eschino, president of Medically Correct, noted in a news release.

“We want to continue to work alongside Schwazze as an ally in the space.”

Schwazze, formerly Medicine Man Technologies, went on an acquisition spree in 2019 and looked to be growing into a behemoth in Colorado.

But deals recently have fallen apart in which Schwazze was to acquire several Colorado-based businesses, including cultivator Los Sueños Farms, concentrates company Dabble Extracts as well as retailers Strawberry Fields and Colorado Harvest Co.

Marijuana firm Clever Leaves inks definitive deal to list on Nasdaq

Clever Leaves International, a multinational cannabis company with its main operations in Colombia, announced it reached a definitive agreement to combine with a special purpose acquisition company in order to create a new business that is expected to trade on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

The new company, Clever Leaves Holdings, is expected to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol CLVR with an initial enterprise value of approximately $255 million, according to a news release.

Clever Leaves said the deal with Schultze Special Purpose Acquisition Corp. was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies.

The merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Schultze Special Purpose Acquisition Corp. – a “blank check company” formed to enter into mergers or other deals – trades on the Nasdaq as SAMA.

Clever Leaves’ current executive management team will lead the combined company.

The combined business is expected to have a “cash balance of $111 million at closing” – an amount the news release described as “significantly in excess of the company’s capital needs.”

The news release also noted the new company “is expected to achieve positive free cash flow by the fourth quarter of 2021.”

Earlier this month, Clever Leaves announced it became the first Latin American cannabis producer to obtain European Union-Good Manufacturing Practice certification “to produce Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), semi-finished and finished cannabis products for medical purposes” in its Colombian facilities.

Green Thumb wins initial victory in Arkansas cannabis licensing dispute

Green Thumb Industries was awarded a temporary restraining order by an Arkansas judge in the company’s quest to overturn the issuance of a marijuana business permit to a competitor.

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Mary McGowan granted the TRO requested by Green Thumb Industries (GTI) against the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, according to Law360.com.

The commission had awarded a second dispensary license to Native Green, while Green Thumb was shut out in its bid for one of the 32 permits.

Green Thumb argued in a lawsuit against the state that the granting of a second license to Native Green is illegal because Arkansas’ MMJ law allows an individual to hold a stake in only one dispensary.

McGowan ruled that Green Thumb is likely to prevail against the commission in a future hearing on a preliminary injunction, so she granted the restraining order.

A spokesman for the commission said Native Green had received its first permit only days before the restraining order was issued.

Green Thumb maintains it should have been awarded the license in dispute because its score was exceeded only by Native Green’s.

Union to appeal after workers at MA marijuana store reject unionization

Cannabis workers at New England Treatment Access (NETA), a medical and recreational retailer in Brookline, Massachusetts, voted to reject unionizing the company.

The union said it will appeal, charging the company with coercive anti-bargaining tactics.

NETA said workers at its Brookline dispensary voted 30-9 against unionizing, according to MassLive.com, only weeks after the majority of its cultivation workers in Franklin had signed cards to join a union.

The vote marks the first rejection of unionization in Massachusetts since the coronavirus crisis began.

Cannabis unionization efforts in the Northeast and Midwest have been on the rise, sparked by worker safety concerns as well as issues over pay, benefits and scheduling.

According to MassLive.com, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 is charging that employees at NETA’s Brookline facility were threatened and even fired over collective-bargaining efforts.

NETA denied the allegations.

“We support everyone’s right to join or not join a union, but because NETA already offers progressive wages and benefits, as well as a collaborative work environment, we don’t think a union is needed,” NETA said in a statement to MassLive.com.

Sira Naturals, in November 2019, was the first dispensary in Massachusetts to unionize.

Earlier this month, employees at the Mayflower Medicinals processing facility in Holliston voted to join the union.

Workers also reportedly voted to unionize at a Curaleaf medical marijuana dispensary in Hanover.

Additional unionization efforts in Massachusetts are ongoing.

Toronto cannabis firm RWB buys Platinum for up to $60M to enter California

(This story and the headline have been updated to reflect that the deal has a potential price tag of $60 million.)

Toronto-based multistate cannabis company Red White & Bloom Brands (RWB) announced it signed a binding letter of intent to purchase California-based Platinum Vape in a deal that carries a potential price tag worth up to $60 million.

According to a news release, RWB will acquire all ownership interests in Platinum Vape for a total cash payment of $35 million, consisting of:

  • $7 million in cash at closing.
  • $13 million in cash payable within 120 days of the deal closing.
  • A $15 million note that’s convertible after 12 months, payable on the third anniversary of the closing.

Additionally, the sellers of Platinum Vape, George and Cody Sadler, will be entitled to receive up to $25 million more on the first anniversary of closing, contingent on the company’s performance.

Platinum Vape sells cannabis products, including vape cartridges, edibles and pre-rolls to more than 700 retailers throughout California, Michigan and Oklahoma.

The company reports a current annualized revenue run rate in excess of $70 million.

The acquisition marks RWB’s entry into California, which is part of the company’s expansion plan and is the first for RWB since the business went public.

Red White & Bloom trades as RWB on the Canadian Securities Exchange and RWBYF on the U.S. over-the-counter markets.

Final medical marijuana dispensary opens in Connecticut

Connecticut’s 18th and final medical cannabis dispensary opened its doors in a steadily growing market that exceeds $125 million in annual sales.

Herbology opened Thursday in Groton, according to The Day in New London.

The dispensary’s owner, Chicago-based Grassroots Cannabis, saw its acquisition by Massachusetts-based Curaleaf recently finalized.

The Connecticut dispensaries are enjoying increasing demand in an 8-year-old medical marijuana program that now has more than 40,000 patients.

Lawmakers recently added chronic pain to the list of qualifying medical conditions, which is expected to provide another boost to the market.

Chronic pain, which Connecticut defines as pain that has lasted at least six months, generally is a leading MMJ sales driver.

The new Marijuana Business Factbook projects that medical marijuana sales in Connecticut will approach $130 million to $160 million this year, compared with $100 million-$125 million in 2019.

Citing previous duplicates, MO issues five new cannabis business permits

Missouri authorities awarded five additional medical marijuana manufacturing licenses because some companies apparently were given duplicates.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which oversees the MMJ program, said state law requires at least 86 manufacturing companies to be operational, so it issued the added licenses to ensure compliance, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

The shortage in operating MMJ manufacturing companies was the result of previously awarded permits going to companies that submitted multiple applications, the agency explained to the newspaper.

Two manufacturing locations in St. Louis and another in Kansas City applied for two or more permits for single locations, but only one permit is allowed per commercial location.

The redundant licenses – held by Verano MO, Teal Labs and Grassroots OpCo MO – were merged.

The five new permits went to:

  • Kings Garden Midwest (Trenton).
  • MidAmeriCanna (St. Louis).
  • Missouri Made Marijuana (Grain Valley).
  • Nature’s Med MO (St. Louis).
  • ROI Labs of Atherton (Independence).

Investment firm sues for $11.7 million in connection to marijuana merger

A California investment firm claims it is owed $11.7 million in consulting fees for introducing the predecessor of Massachusetts marijuana multistate operator Curaleaf to an Oregon vape oil company.

Beverly Hills, California-based Arcadian Capital argues in a federal court lawsuit that it is owed 3% of Curaleaf’s recent $390 million acquisition of Portland-based Cura Partners, which is known for its Select vaping products.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this year and reported Thursday by the Portland Business Journal. Arcadian’s lawsuit initially was filed in Superior Court in Los Angeles County, then moved to U.S. District Court in central California.

Cura Partners denies the validity of the claim, calling the consulting contract a sham because Arcadian provided no services.

Arcadian bases its claim on a 2018 consulting agreement with Cura Partners that it says was not canceled.

According to the lawsuit, Arcadian made an introduction that led to an initial $13 million investment in Cura Partners by PalliaTech, which later changed its name to Curaleaf.

Arcadian said it received a consulting fee of $390,000 in the spring of 2018 for that introduction but should be paid consulting fees for the Curaleaf-Cura Partners merger as well.

Green Thumb sues Arkansas over medical cannabis licensing

Multistate marijuana company Green Thumb Industries’ division in Arkansas is suing the state for allowing a medical cannabis business there to receive a second MMJ dispensary license.

According to Law360.com, GTI Arkansas contends the language of Amendment 98 – which legalized MMJ sales in the state – stipulates that “no individual can own an interest in more than one dispensary,” which means the decision by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission and the Department of Finance Administration is unconstitutional.

The company in question, Native Green, was told on July 1 that it had been selected for a license in Zone 5 of the state, even though the company already accepted and used another license to operate a dispensary in Zone 6.

GTI, which seeks possession of the Zone 5 license, had the next highest-scoring business application.

The lawsuit comes less than a week after five Arkansas companies with permits to grow medical cannabis sued to stop three more cultivation licenses from being issued.

That suit claims the three licenses that were issued in June violate language in the law that stipulated new licenses would be granted only if the existing growers couldn’t meet dispensary demand.