Cannabis Industry Daily News

$3.2 million hemp processing plant in New York gets state funding

A new $3.2 million facility near Binghamton, New York, is the first in the United States to receive some form of government assistance to promote the processing of hemp.

The hemp processing plant, an unnamed project slated to open later this year, is receiving $650,000 from the state, Binghamton TV station WIVT reported.

It is the first award from New York’s $5 million fund designated to boost the processing side of the hemp industry.

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The exact site of the Binghamton-area plant hasn’t been announced.

The plant will prepare hemp fibers and oils for further manufacturing, New York Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo told the TV station.

The grant, announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is thought to be the nation’s first government investment in hemp processing.

Cuomo has said he wants New York state to lead the way in processing hemp.

“The emerging industrial hemp industry has the power to transform the agricultural economy,” Cuomo’s office said in prepared remarks.

New York is offering another $5 million for research into the hemp plant, including $2 million to develop certified seed.

“To avoid long-term dependence on seed from other states and countries, (New York) must begin to produce its own unique seed,” Cuomo said.

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Etain gets OK to produce expanded medical marijuana line in New York

New York medical marijuana company Etain is the first to receive state approval to expand its product line.

Etain now can manufacture cannabis goods such as lozenges and flower ground for vaporizers, the New York Daily News reported, and the company hopes to have the new products available by March.

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Regulators recently OK’d expanding MMJ product lines in hopes of providing a boost to a New York program that’s been slow to get on its feet.

The state’s program has been constrained by a limited number of business permits – only five licensed companies are operating so far with five more expected to open in 2018 – and a lack of patient and doctor participation.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Etain will also produce – pending approval by the state health department – a water-soluble marijuana powder.
  • A health department spokesperson told the Daily News that the products still need to undergo “rigorous testing” before they may be sold.
  • Etain operates dispensaries in Murray Hill and Yonkers.
  • New York’s medical marijuana program has 40,286 certified patients.

Rhode Island considering medical marijuana deliveries

Fearful of how recreational legalization in neighboring Massachusetts could affect their businesses, Rhode Island’s three medical marijuana dispensaries are pushing state regulators to allow them to start delivering to their patients.

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Rhode Island regulators – apparently in favor of MMJ deliveries – are preparing to review the dispensaries’ proposals, according to the Providence Journal.

Both sides are waiting for the development of a mobile app that will make the state’s new marijuana seed-to-sale system capable of also tracking sales made via delivery.

The new app will likely be ready this year, the newspaper reported.

Dispensary owners say offering deliveries would encourage potential MMJ patients sign up for Rhode Island’s MMJ program. They also believe deliveries could undercut the incentive for Rhode Islanders to go to Massachusetts for cannabis.

Recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts are expected to start in July.

Rhode Island’s MMJ program has 19,000-plus registered medical cannabis patients.

Canadian cannabis companies with US operations must disclose risks

By Matt Lamers , International Editor

An exchange in Canada dominated by marijuana stocks has asked listed companies with U.S. operations to publicly detail any risks they face after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to scrap protections for state-legal cannabis businesses.

Richard Carleton, chief executive officer of the Canadian Securities Exchange, told Marijuana Business Daily that the exchange contacted all CSE-listed companies with U.S. exposure, advising them to provide a public comment on the impact the Sessions’ decision could have on their businesses.

Fifty-six of the CSE’s 343 listed securities are in the medical marijuana business, and 17 of those have operations in the United States.

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Companies listed on the CSE are free to participate in the American marijuana industry provided they meet risk disclosure requirements, because cannabis remains illegal at a federal level in the United States.

In an emailed statement Friday, the Canadian Securities Administrators said it had no update to a Staff Notice issued in October that outlined specific disclosure expectations for marijuana companies that have, or are in the process of developing, marijuana-related activities in the United States.

The October notice also stated that the umbrella organization for Canada’s securities regulators could “re-examine” the measure in the event of a change to the U.S. federal government’s enforcement approach.

So far, only a handful of the CSE’s companies with U.S. exposure have issued statements. Some include:

Matt Lamers can be reached at mattl@mjbizdaily.com

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Michigan agencies increase medical marijuana enforcement

Law-enforcement agencies across Michigan are using excess state revenue from medical marijuana patient and caregiver fees to boost enforcement efforts as the state prepares to license dispensaries and cannabis businesses in certain communities under a new regulatory system.

Michigan’s 2008 medical marijuana law allows patients and caregivers to grow a limited amount of the plant.

The law didn’t anticipate the influx of marijuana businesses that surfaced.

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The state will begin licensing and regulating those operations this year.

A new legislative report says agencies in more than 50 counties received a combined $1.8 million in MMJ enforcement grants from the state in 2017, more than twice the amount that was given out the previous year, The Detroit News reported.

The money was used to pay overtime, fund house raids and purchase vehicles, surveillance equipment, firearms, stun guns and tactical gear.

The marijuana registry fund has more than $34 million, according to David Harns, spokesman for the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Licensing. Most patients are charged a $60 fee for a two-year license.

– Associated Press

Indiana apologizes to 50 businesses cited for selling CBD

Indiana authorities are apologizing to about 50 businesses after regulators erroneously cited them for selling illegal CBD products.

The letters were sent despite assurances by state officials that the store owners wouldn’t be penalized until CBD’s legal status is settled.

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Indiana’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission sent the citation letters just before Christmas, WTHR-TV reported.

The letters notified businesses that they were being fined hundreds of dollars for violations such as “possession of marijuana” and “unlawful manufacture, distribution or possession of counterfeit substance” for selling CBD oil.

Indiana has been debating CBD legality for months.

The state passed a law allowing CBD oils for people with certain medical conditions, but the law is unclear about whether hemp-derived CBD is legal.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said that stores selling CBD would not be cited until late January, by which time he hoped state lawmakers could resolve CBD’s legal status.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Commission told the TV station that store owners receiving CBD citations won’t face penalties after all.

“This was an administrative error and these letters should be disregarded,” the agency said in a statement. “We apologize for any confusion and we are working to correct the issue.”

Store owners told WTHR they doubt the letters were an accident.

“I don’t buy that at all,” said James Kinee, who was cited $750 for carrying CBD products at his Happy Daze smoke shop.

“My letter was addressed by hand. I think they knew what they were doing until they got caught.”

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Oklahoma voters to consider medical marijuana in June

Oklahoma’s governor set a June 26 date for voters to weigh in on whether to approve medical marijuana for the state.

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The Hill reported that Gov. Mary Fallin announced the date Thursday, just hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions released his decision to rescind an Obama-era policy that allowed MMJ to thrive in states nationwide.

The June date for a vote comes after a successful 2016 petition drive asking Oklahoma voters to put the matter on the ballot.

Fallin, a Republican, appears cool toward the idea of MMJ. In May, she was asked if medical marijuana could help the state generate revenue.

She told the Oklahoma City Fox TV station: “No … I just don’t think that’s the answer. I think there’s a lot of different solutions we can provide to fix our budget.”

The statewide referendum would create a medical cannabis program that would include licenses for cultivators, processor and dispensaries.

Under the ballot measure:

  • Licenses would cost $2,500 each.
  • Sales would be taxed at 7%.
  • Acquiring a state-issued medical marijuana card would require a doctor’s signature.
  • Municipalities would not be allowed to prevent dispensaries with zoning restrictions, but dispensaries would not be allowed within 1,000 feet of a school.

New Mexico hemp industry blocked again in court ruling

New Mexico’s hemp industry is on hold – again – after the state Supreme Court put the brakes on two bills setting up hemp production.

The 3-2 decision doesn’t mean New Mexico’s hemp program is permanently blocked, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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Instead, the justices ruled that two hemp bills vetoed last year by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez should be considered vetoed until a more thorough examination of how Martinez vetoed them.

A lower court had ruled that the hemp bills should become law because the governor used an improper procedure to veto them.

New Mexico’s hemp standstill has frustrated advocates who point out that New Mexico’s northern neighbor, Colorado, leads the nation in hemp production.

“You’ve heard the expression, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’? This is the epitome of that,” said state Sen. Cisco McSorley, who sponsored the hemp bills, according to the New Mexican.

Martinez, a former prosecutor, previously opposed the hemp measure because she said police could confuse the plant with marijuana. But she wrote no explanation last year in vetoing two hemp bills.

The New Mexico Supreme Court gave no timetable for giving the hemp vetoes a closer review.

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Vermont House approves bill legalizing possession and home growing of marijuana

Brushing aside fears of a possible federal crackdown, Vermont’s House approved legislation Thursday that would permit adults older than 21 to possess small amounts of marijuana and grow their own plants beginning in July.

The vote came after lawmakers rejected two attempts to slow marijuana legalization, first by refusing to delay a vote in response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision Thursday to revoke the Obama-era Cole Memo that allowed states to permit legalized cannabis businesses.

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House lawmakers then staved off amendments that would have delayed the bill’s effective date, the Burlington Free Press reported.

The measure now heads to the Vermont Senate, which has already approved the bill but in a slightly different form.

Once the differences are reconciled, the bill will head to Gov. Phil Scott, who vetoed a recreational marijuana measure last year but has previously said he’ll sign this year’s version.

It’s not clear whether Scott could change his mind in response to Sessions’ actions Thursday.

If the legislation is ultimately approved, Vermont would be the first state to legalize the possession and home growing of cannabis.

Marijuana activists praised Vermont’s vote despite fears that the Department of Justice would interfere.

“It is becoming clear that states are tired of helping the federal government enforce outdated and harmful marijuana policies and are ready to make this legal for adults,” Matthew Schweich, interim executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.

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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.