Cannabis Industry Daily News

Utah’s top medical marijuana regulator is stepping down

Less than a week after the first medical marijuana dispensary in Utah opened its doors, the state’s top cannabis regulator announced he is resigning.

Andrew Rigby, director of the state’s medical marijuana and industrial hemp program, is leaving his post later this month, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Rigby, who took the job in early 2019, told the newspaper it has been his plan to move on once the state’s cannabis program was operational.

Once he leaves the Utah cannabis office, Rigby plans to spend more time with a health-care app startup he’s invested in, according to the Tribune.

The startup has no ties to the cannabis industry, he said.

New Michigan rule could increase business for cannabis growers

Michigan regulators agreed to phase out medical marijuana caregivers, a move that could generate more business for the state’s licensed cannabis growers and processors.

Authorized caregivers who grow cannabis have been the biggest supplier of marijuana products to retailers.

Starting Oct. 1, medical cannabis caregivers will be prohibited from selling product to licensed businesses, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency said in a bulletin.

“The Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s goal is to stimulate business growth while protecting patient safety,” according to the bulletin.

To reach that goal, the MRA will phase out the “transfer of marijuana and marijuana products into the regulated market from caregivers.”

The state, where recreational marijuana sales began Dec. 1, has issued licenses for almost 200 cannabis growers and 25 processors, according to the MRA.

Massachusetts’ capital city gets new marijuana board

With Boston about to see the opening of its first recreational marijuana store, the mayor on Wednesday staffed the city’s new Cannabis Board.

Mayor Martin Walsh appointed five members to the panel that will issue marijuana business licenses and advise his office on cannabis regulations and policies, The Boston Globe reported.

The Cannabis Board consists of:

  • Lawyer Kathleen Joyce, chair of the city’s licensing board.
  • Monica Valdes Lupi, a former health commissioner for the city.
  • Darlene Lombos, executive secretary-treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council.
  • Lisa Holmes, a former Boston Police Department superintendent.
  • John Smith, director of programs at TSNE MissionWorks nonprofit.

The Cannabis Board was created in November when the City Council approved a measure to improve Boston’s maligned licensing process, according to the Globe.

The formation of the panel precedes the opening of the first recreational marijuana store in Massachusetts’ capital city, Pure Oasis.

Adult-use cannabis sales began in the state in late 2018.

Arkansas can resume issuing medical cannabis licenses, judge says

A medical marijuana dispensary applicant in Arkansas lost a legal challenge to obtain an MMJ license, which means the state can restart the permitting process.

In response to Medicanna’s lawsuit contending regulators had broken Arkansas rules by awarding an MMJ license to a company that had scored lower on its application, a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge issued a temporary restraining order on Feb. 25 preventing Arkansas from issuing new licenses.

On Tuesday, Judge Wendell Griffen ruled that Pine Bluffs-based Medicanna had no grounds to challenge the licensing procedure, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The judge sided with the state’s contention that Medicanna disqualified itself when it requested and received a refund of its application fees last April.

Medicanna plans to decide within the next few days whether to appeal.

Maine’s recreational marijuana launch delayed until June

Adult-use cannabis sales in Maine will likely kick off in June, three months later than initially anticipated.

Recreational sales were expected to begin in March.

But a state revenue forecasting committee telegraphed the delay by changing the date it projects the first sales tax revenue from marijuana to arrive, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The process to get a recreational sales license can be time-consuming.

License applicants must:

  • Receive a conditional license.
  • Get authorization from the community in which it wants to do business.
  • Return to the state for an active license.

The state Office of Marijuana Policy said it has received 197 adult-use marijuana applications.

Of those, 80 are considered complete enough for a regulatory review.

However, the state will not issue recreational marijuana business licenses until labs are approved to provide health, safety and potency tests.

One lab is close to being fully licensed while another four are weighing whether to enter the Maine market, the Press Herald reported.

– Associated Press

More than 35,000 in Missouri approved to buy medical cannabis

In a sign of strong demand that bodes well for the nascent medical marijuana market in Missouri, regulators already have approved more than 35,000 patient registrations.

Medical cannabis sales won’t begin in Missouri until late summer at the earliest, but 35,532 patients have successfully registered to use MMJ to treat certain qualifying conditions.

The number of registered patients far exceeds what had been projected this early in the process by researchers with the University of Missouri’s Economic and Policy Analysis Research Center.

Such interest in medical cannabis could prove a boon for MMJ businesses in Missouri, where Marijuana Business Daily estimates annual sales could eventually reach $300 million.

Psychological disorders were the No. 1 reason for patient requests, followed by chronic medical conditions, according to Lyndall Fraker, director of medical marijuana for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The health department awarded 192 dispensary, 60 cultivation and 86 processing licenses.

Many of the licenses went to large, out-of-state multistate operators, and at least 845 appeals have been filed by companies that did not receive permits.

– Associated Press

Green Growth Brands returns its focus to marijuana

Ohio-based Green Growth Brands is exiting the CBD market to focus exclusively on running its marijuana operations.

Green Growth Brands agreed to sell an 80% stake in its chain of CBD kiosks in malls to The BRN Group of New York for an undisclosed price.

Green Growth Brands CEO Peter Horvarth told analysts the company can provide greater value to shareholders and customers by focusing on marijuana sales.

The Columbus company, which made its move into the CBD space around 2018, already operates marijuana stores in Nevada and plans to open shops in Florida and Massachusetts later this year.

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

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Feds subpoena records from CA marijuana firm Weedmaps and others

Prosecutors for a U.S. attorney’s office in California issued a grand jury subpoena for records related to 30 marijuana companies, including the parent of Weedmaps.

Although the purpose of the investigation by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California is unclear, according to MarketWatch, a subpoena was issued to Ghost Management Group, which California-based Weedmaps.

The subpoena “covers documents related to cannabis businesses listed on Weedmaps and records related to its ordering service,” MarketWatch reported.

Federal agents also sought records related to a wide-range of information regarding Weedmaps, including:

  • Its staff.
  • Investors.
  • Accounting.
  • Communications.
  • Payments to government employees, elected officials and candidates for public offices.

A Weedmaps spokesperson told MarketWatch that it receives such government requests “from time to time” and complies with them all. The company did not elaborate further.

Weedmaps is a popular website among cannabis consumers looking to find marijuana retailers and also facilitates MJ deliveries.

The company has been under fire from California officials since 2018 for advertising illegal marijuana retailers.

Meanwhile, MarketWatch reported, prosecutors also requested records from Weedmaps regarding two other California cannabis companies, CannaCraft and Terra Tech.

CannaCraft produces a marijuana-infused drink in partnership with Lagunitas Brewing Co.

Terra Tech is a vertically integrated multistate marijuana operator.

The U.S. attorney’s office, Terra Tech and CannaCraft all declined comment to MarketWatch.

Marijuana giant Cresco Labs’ co-founder resigns as president

(The headline has been updated to clarify that Caltabiano is the co-founder of Cresco Labs.)

Joe Caltabiano, the co-founder of multistate marijuana operator Cresco Labs, on Monday announced he has resigned as president of the Chicago-based company, becoming the second high-profile founder to step down from a top post in less than a week.

Caltabiano will continue to serve on the board of Cresco, one of the largest vertically integrated marijuana companies in the United States.

“As the founder who brought the initial idea of entering into the regulated cannabis industry to the original Cresco team in 2013, this day is bittersweet,” Caltabiano said in a statement.

Caltabiano, who co-founded Cresco Labs in 2013, didn’t give many details about why he is stepping down, other than to say in a statement that, “as a serial entrepreneur, I know it’s time for the next challenge.”

On Feb. 28, Andy Williams announced he was leaving Denver-based Medicine Man Technologies, a vertically integrated marijuana company he founded in 2014.

In a statement, Caltabiano listed his accomplishments as president:

  • Helped Cresco Labs gain access to major cannabis market in the country.
  • Launched and rolled out the Sunnyside national retail brand.
  • Sourced numerous multiple merger and acquisition transactions.
  • Developed more than a million square feet of cultivation space.

He also led several sale-leaseback transactions for Cresco Labs and a number of capital raises.

Medical cannabis sales begin in Utah

Utah’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened Monday as the state begins a gradual rollout of its medical cannabis program.

Dragonfly Wellness in Salt Lake City is the first out of the gate.

The state’s second dispensary is expected to open later this month.

It will be followed by seven more in June and the final five later this year, said Rich Oborn, director of the state’s Center for Medical Cannabis.

Utah issued 14 dispensary licenses to 10 companies, including three multistate operators:

  • Bloom Medicinals of Florida.
  • Columbia Care of Illinois.
  • Curaleaf of Massachusetts.

State officials have said they would issue additional licenses if market demand warrants it.

However, demand is expected to be limited, at least initially, because so few health professionals are participating in the program.

According to Oborn, 60 physicians are approved to recommend the use of medical marijuana for qualifying conditions that include:

  • Chronic pain.
  • Terminal illness.
  • Cancer.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Smokable medical marijuana products and MMJ edibles are prohibited, but vaping is legal.

Unprocessed flower is required to be sold in blister packs.

– Jeff Smith and Associated Press

Missouri medical marijuana complaints spike 70%

Licensing appeals by medical marijuana companies that were denied licenses to operate in the state have reached more than 800, roughly a 70% increase in about two weeks.

At least 845 appeals have been filed with Missouri’s Administrative Hearing Commission.

That is about a 69% jump from late February, when more than 500 appeals had been filed.

Missouri received 2,266 medical marijuana applications from at least 700 different groups to grow, sell or distribute MMJ in the state.

The state awarded:

  • 60 licenses to grow medical marijuana.
  • 86 to manufacture MMJ-infused products.
  • 192 to operate medical cannabis dispensaries.

A large number of the licenses went to large, multistate operators and not smaller, local companies, which was a catalyst for many of the complaints.

Many of the rejected applicants claimed a third-party scoring operator, Nevada-based Wise Health Solutions, was inconsistent in its application evaluations.

– Associated Press

Cannabis giant Curaleaf enters Colorado by buying edibles firm

Multistate marijuana operator Curaleaf Holdings on Monday said it will expand into the Colorado market by buying BlueKudu, a Denver-based producer of cannabis chocolates and gummies.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition will give Massachusetts-based Curaleaf a foothold in one of the biggest marijuana markets in the country.

“Colorado is the second-largest cannabis market in the U.S., with sales surpassing $1.7 billion in 2019,” Curaleaf CEO Joe Lusardi said in a statement.

When the deal is closed, Curaleaf will operate an 8,400-square-foot infusion kitchen and processing facility in Denver.

BlueKudu was founded in 2011 and, five years later, announced a $2.5 million expansion.

Lusardi noted that the acquisition will allow Curaleaf to expand its Select marijuana vaping brand in Colorado.

Curaleaf acquired Select’s parent company, Oregon-based Cura Cannabis, on Feb. 1.

Curaleaf trades on the Canadian Securities Exchange as CURA and on the U.S. over-the-counter markets as CURLF.

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