Week in Review: High Times switches CEOs again, Florida court mulls cannabis revamp, solid sales in IL, OK & more

Los Angeles-based High Times Holding Corp. replaced CEO Stormy Simon after only four months on the job, marking the third time in a little more than a year the cannabis magazine publisher has hired a chief executive.

Simon is being replaced by Peter Horvath, who most recently ran Ohio-based cannabis retailer Green Growth Brands. He also has served as chief commercialization officer at American Eagle Outfitters and chief operating officer for Victoria’s Secret.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The CEO change comes at a time when High Times is trying to pivot into retail and is struggling to get an initial public offering off the ground through a Registration A+ stock sale.

Observers will be watching to see if Horvath can pull off both.

High Times also will need a lot of money to build out the California retail locations it’s acquiring. And even if he pulls that off, it will be a challenge to operate the stores profitably during both the coronavirus pandemic and an economic downturn.

Florida high court considers game-changing marijuana cases

The Florida Supreme Court is hearing arguments on two issues that could dramatically change the state’s medical marijuana industry.

One case involves whether Florida’s vertically integrated business model for its MMJ industry violates the state constitution.

The other involves whether a recreational marijuana ballot proposal can go before voters in two years.

MJBizDaily takeaway: If the high court agrees vertically integrated businesses are unconstitutional, the state’s lucrative medical marijuana market would open up to additional, stand-alone licensing opportunities.

That could have a negative impact on vertically integrated businesses with an established seed-to-sale supply chain. For example, companies focused solely on cultivation could drive down wholesale flower prices by adding to the supply.

The legalization case, meanwhile, could clear the way for an effort to legalize adult use in 2022.

Florida’s medical marijuana businesses are well-established and could easily transition to recreational, and the state’s tourism numbers alone (pre-pandemic) could create ample opportunities.

Sales in Illinois, Oklahoma stay strong

Despite the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak, at least two states reported robust cannabis sales numbers.

Illinois adult-use marijuana sales totaled $37.3 million in April, the second-highest monthly total for the state’s rec program since it launched on the Jan. 1.

Also last month, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana dispensaries set a record with roughly $61.4 million in sales.

MJBizDaily takeaway: While it’s too early to tell if cannabis is indeed “recession-proof,” as some have claimed, it appears to be an essential business – at least in some markets but not others.

If sales continue to remain strong for the ensuing months in Illinois and Oklahoma, their cannabis industries could emerge from this global crisis in salvageable shape.

MMJ states pivot to telemedicine

States increasingly are allowing medical marijuana patients to obtain or renew doctors’ recommendations via telemedicine so they can purchase MMJ.

More than two dozen states have issued guidance to temporarily permit physicians to use online consultations.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Letting doctors recommend medical cannabis by using teleconferencing tools could help boost dispensary sales by giving patients easier access to MMJ.

Beyond that, this is another step in normalizing the industry. It shows regulators view cannabis as real medicine that’s essential for patients.

Cannabis not high on California’s legislative list

California’s State Assembly has resumed meeting. And while key pieces of cannabis legislation are under consideration, they’re likely to be overshadowed by efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Cannabis businesses in California hoping for changes to regulations, including lower taxes, will probably have to wait until the pandemic dies down and lawmakers have more time to address non-coronavirus legislation.

Bart Schaneman can be reached at [email protected]

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

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