Cannabis Industry Daily News

North Dakota taking feedback on medical cannabis regulations

North Dakota health officials are gathering public input about proposed medical marijuana rules as the state prepares to launch its MMJ program.

Health officials plan to hear from prospective dispensary operators who want to comment at meetings in six cities over the coming week, according to the Williston Herald.

Advertisement

North Dakota Department of Health officials conducted two meetings Monday, and two more are scheduled for Wednesday in Fargo and Thursday in Grand Forks.

Health officials will collect comments through Dec. 26 before submitting recommendations to the legislative council by Feb. 1.

North Dakota voters approved an MMJ program in November 2016, and state lawmakers crafted regulations earlier this year.

The governor approved those rules in April, but medical cannabis sales aren’t  expected to begin for another year.

The program’s guidelines currently allow for two growing sites and eight dispensaries.

– Associated Press

Second Ohio medical cannabis consultant draws scrutiny

The system for awarding the precious few medical cannabis cultivation licenses in Ohio was already under the microscope after the revelation that a judge had a felony drug conviction.

And now it’s come to light that a second consultant involved in scoring MMJ grow applications has ties to one of the permit winners.

Advertisement

Keoki Wing, who was hired by the Ohio Department of Commerce to help score cultivation applicants, worked for Nature Med and AOW Management until 2016.

Both companies are owned by the president and CEO of Arizona-based Harvest Grows, the 12th cultivation license winner in Ohio, The Plain Dealer reported.

The state commerce department hired Meade & Wing, Wing’s consulting business, along with two other consultants to help score business permit applications. The contract was worth $150,000 to Wing, but so far his consulting company has been paid only $43,971.

Meanwhile, the commerce department said it was unaware the other consultant in question, Trevor Bozeman, had a prior felony drug conviction for marijuana possession.

Justin Hunt, COO of the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, told The Plain Dealer that the agency “vetted each consultant to make sure there was no conflict of interest.”

Colorado certifies more hemp seeds, boosting approved cultivars to seven

By Kristen Nichols

Colorado has approved four more hemp cultivars, bringing the nation’s top hemp-producing state to seven varieties of certified seed.

The new varieties, like the previously approved seeds, are intended for fiber and seed production.

Colorado, the only state to certify hemp seeds, does not have any certified seeds suited for indoor cannabidiol production, currently the most profitable use for the plant.

Advertisement

Three of the state’s four new varieties have roots in Europe, having been developed at Poland’s Institute of Natural Fibres and Medicinal Plants, a state-owned research center.

The final variety was developed by New West Genetics in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Certified seed gives a hemp grower confidence that the variety will contain low enough levels of THC to pass inspection.

Officials with the Colorado Department of Agriculture say that farmers who can show they are using certified seed face “limited testing,” which is done by “field observations” instead of submitting plant cuttings for lab testing.

Colorado, by far the nation’s largest hemp producer, grew more than a third of the nationwide harvest in 2017, according to Vote Hemp, a prominent hemp advocacy group.

To sign up for our weekly hemp business newsletter, click here.

Oregon marijuana company tries to grow brand through cycling sponsorship

As more and more marijuana companies look for ways to get their brand name out in front of the public, an Oregon cannabis business has decided one way to do that is to sponsor a local cycling team.

Oregon-based cultivator Grown Rogue is backing the Portland Olympia Beer Cycling Team, according to a news release.

Advertisement

The move is designed, in part, to “encourage a new perspective on cannabis” and to help associate marijuana “with healthy active lifestyles,” Grown Rogue founder and CEO Obie Strickler said.

The company also has ambitions to “expand nationally in 2018,” according to the release.

Other MJ companies have sponsored a variety of causes over the years in an effort to spread their brands, such as adopting highways or, as one cultivator did in 2015. even sponsoring the Chicago Marathon.

Denver gets first marijuana social-use applicant

More than a year after Denver voters approved marijuana social-use lounges, the city has its first applicant – a coffee shop that plans to allow vaping and the consumption of cannabis edibles.

The Coffee Joint’s application comes more than five months after Denver finalized rules for social-use clubs.

The rules are so restrictive that some wondered whether any business would apply.

Advertisement

Entrepreneurs Rita Tsalyuk and Kirill Merkulov told The Denver Post they’ll start selling coffee by the end of the year, then allow social cannabis use if their application is approved.

A public hearing on the license will be held in the next two or three months, city officials told the Post.

Tsalyuk and Merkulov co-own a dispensary, 1136 Yuma, next to The Coffee Joint.

Businesses with marijuana sales licenses can’t apply for onsite consumption in Denver, but they’re allowed to open separate operations.

Denver has come under fire for setting up elaborate rules for consumption clubs after they were approved by the city’s voters in 2016.

Other municipalities with recreational marijuana sales, notably Las Vegas, have said they’re watching Denver’s experience with marijuana clubs before licensing them.

San Francisco cannabis report: Consumption to spike, prices to plummet

The amount of legal marijuana consumed in San Francisco could triple – to 30 million grams per year – after California’s recreational market launches in January, but cannabis prices will fall “dramatically,” according to a new report.

A draft tax report compiled by the City Controller’s office showed that once recreational sales begin, total regulated cannabis consumption is expected to increase to 18 million-30 million grams, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

Advertisement

By contrast, the city’s 45 city-permitted medical marijuana dispensaries or delivery services currently sell about 10 million grams of cannabis annually, the newspaper reported.

San Francisco’s legal adult-use program could generate $130 million-$240 million in annual sales, the report determined.

But the price of cannabis could fall from its current rate of $14 per gram to about $7-$8.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed the city’s recreational cannabis regulations into law last week, one day after the Board of Supervisors approved them.

Move afoot to review Ohio’s medical marijuana business licensing process

One of Ohio’s medical cannabis companies and some state lawmakers are calling for an investigation into how MMJ cultivation license applications were scored after it was revealed one of the judges had a felony drug conviction.

As the owner of one-man firm iCann Consulting, Trevor Bozeman won part of a $150,000 state contract in June to score MMJ business license applications, according to the Portland Press Herald and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

CannAscend – an Ohio MMJ cultivation company that didn’t win one of the state’s 24 business licenses – revealed that Bozeman had a 12-year-old felony conviction and said the application scoring process should be reviewed, according to the Plain Dealer.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, Ohio’s lieutenant governor said no more licenses should be awarded until it’s determined how Bozeman was allowed to become a judge, and a state senator said the licensing process should be redone without Bozeman.

At issue is Bozeman’s felony drug conviction in 2005, according to the newspapers.

As a 21-year-old college student in Pennsylvania, Bozeman was arrested with roughly seven ounces of marijuana. He pleaded guilty to one federal count of manufacturing, delivering and possessing marijuana, paid a $2,100 fine and served three years of probation.

He later joined the cannabis industry in his native Maine, where he is a lab manager at Canuvo, a licensed dispensary.

Ohio regulators are standing by Bozeman, as is Canuvo co-owner Glenn Peterson, who hired Bozeman.

Utah Republican starts CBD research company

A former GOP congressman from Utah has started a CBD company, where the Republican plans to conduct studies on the possible medical benefits of cannabidiol.

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon told the Standard-Examiner he created the company after his state passed a 2017 law expanding cannabis research under the direction of a physician.

Advertisement

“We realized a long time ago that we should be doing something with CBD,” said Cannon, who was in Congress from 1997 to 2009.

The company, Endo-C, is currently surveying about 100 people about their experiences with CBD for pain relief.

Participants buy CBD gel capsules that contain no THC, though company officials say they may study CBD oils containing up to 10% THC, the limit of Utah’s new CBD research law.

The company is looking for additional patients to survey. Survey participation costs $280 a month.

As a previous editor of the Deseret Morning News, Utah’s oldest newspaper, Cannon brings a prominent GOP name to the Utah company. And two of his ancestors represented the Territory of Utah in the U.S. House.

More changes to Utah’s cannabis laws could be coming next year.

A group of patients is circulating a petition to put medical marijuana on the 2018 ballot. The group has until mid-April to turn in roughly 113,000 signatures from registered voters.

Michigan releases medical cannabis licensing applications

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on Friday revealed its full medical marijuana licensing applications.

The applications had previously been a missing cog in the permitting process that is set to begin Dec. 15.

Advertisement

The state’s Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation earlier this week released emergency rules that will govern the MMJ industry.

One of the critiques from insiders was that actual applications weren’t yet available, just a week before the start of the application window.

The licensing process will have two phases:

  • Pre-qualification – which will involve criminal background checks and a $6,000 licensing fee.
  • Full license qualification – which will focus on details of a proposed business location, authenticating local government approval for applicants, and more.

Michigan will be licensing MMJ retailers, growers, processors, transporters and testing labs.

California opens online system for temporary marijuana business licenses

California is taking applications to license its emerging legal marijuana industry.

The state on Friday kicked off the process of considering temporary licenses for what is expected to be thousands of retailers, distributors and testing labs in the new marketplace.

Advertisement

Top state cannabis regulator Lori Ajax says the opening of the online system moves the state “one step closer to issuing California’s first state licenses for commercial cannabis activity.”
The temporary licenses will not be effective until Jan. 1, and businesses need a local permit before applying for state licenses.

Recreational marijuana sales will begin in California on Jan. 1, joining the state’s long-running medical cannabis market.

More information from the state on California’s temporary licensing system can be found here.

– Associated Press

Tax court ruling on 280E case could come this month

By John Schroyer

A ruling from the U.S. Tax Court on whether the 280E provision should not apply to state-licensed marijuana businesses could come before the end of the year.

The case – which was tried in mid-2016 by San Francisco attorney Henry Wykowski – has the potential to reshape the U.S. cannabis industry by making law-abiding MJ companies truly profitable.

Advertisement

“The court previously advised me that we should expect a decision by the end of the year, and that date is approaching,” Wykowski wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.

“Tax court decisions are notoriously slow, so I do not read anything into the delay one way or the other,” he continued. “I’m not interested in a fast decision, I want the right one striking down 280E or providing clarity as to how it should be applied.

“Next year is fine with me as long as we prevail.”

A brief was recently filed in another Tax Court case involving 280E, and there was another in which the Tax Court sided with the IRS over a Colorado dispensary in an October ruling, The Cannabist reported.

But the IRS win was based on the dispensary not providing business records to justify their deductions.

Maryland medical marijuana commission hires executive director

Only days after legal medical marijuana sales began in Maryland, the state’s MMJ commission has hired a new director.

Advertisement

Joy Strand, a hospital executive, is replacing Patrick Jameson, who resigned in November.

Jameson took the post in April 2016, succeeding Hannah Byron, the commission’s first executive director.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Strand had been serving as CEO of Crisfield-based McCready Health, where she led a health organization that included a hospital and several other health care services.
  • In 2015, McCready Health partnered with Wellness Farms, a medical marijuana cultivation startup.
  • Strand takes the reins as Maryland works to award more licenses for its medical cannabis program.
  • When Jameson resigned, commission chairman Brian Lopez said the transition wouldn’t cause problems for licensees because the state has a compliance director and someone to monitor testing labs.