Marijuana Business This Week: Ontario opens for business, Texas deschedules hemp, NH bill moves to full House & more

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Here are some notable stories to watch for in the coming days:

GRAND OPENING: Ontario’s first legal cannabis retail shops can open for business Monday, but it is unclear how many of the Canadian province’s initial 25 license holders are ready to open their doors.

That’s because, as of last week, some remained stuck in the approval process, The Canadian Press reported.

Ontario, Canada’s largest province by population, is the last in the country to open brick-and-mortar cannabis stores since the country legalized recreational marijuana Oct. 17.

Until now, marijuana could be legally purchased in the province only through Ontario’s government-run online store.

According to Hamilton TV station CHCH, stores that fail to open on time could face penalties for delays; however, government officials have said they would not immediately launch a vetting process.

Retailers in Hamilton say it will be closer to April 20 before they are ready to open.

HEMP DAY: Come Friday, hemp will no longer be considered a controlled substance in Texas.

On March 13, John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, signed an amendment to the state’s schedules of controlled substances removing hemp from the list. The amendment was sent to the Texas Register for publishing March 15 and it’s intended to become effective 21 days later.

However, according to Austin TV station KTBC, lawmakers still need to clarify some things, such as labeling and testing products and whether ingestible CBD oil must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

INCHING CLOSER: The New Hampshire House of Representatives has until Thursday to approve a bill that would end marijuana prohibition and regulate cannabis for adult use.

The state House Ways and Means Committee last week recommended passage of House Bill 481, which among other things allows adults 21 and older to possess outside the home and give away up to 1 ounce of cannabis and 5 grams of concentrated cannabis as well as infused products with 500 milligrams of THC.

The bill also would permit adults to securely cultivate up to six plants, three of which could be mature (with a household limit of 12 total, six mature) and possess the cannabis produced by the plants at home.

HB 481 was referred to the committee for further consideration of the proposed regulatory system and tax structure after it was initially approved Feb. 27 by the full House in a 209-147 vote.

The House must approve the bill again for it to be considered in the Senate.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: The Colorado House Committee on Business Affairs & Labor is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill that would regulate marijuana delivery.

The bill creates delivery permits that would allow medical marijuana centers, adult-use retail stores and transporters to deliver cannabis and MJ-infused products to customers.

Additionally, the bill gives the state licensing authority and rulemaking oversight over the permit and delivery system. Medical marijuana delivery permitting would begin Jan. 2, 2020, and recreational cannabis delivery permitting would begin Jan. 2, 2021.

The legislation also requires responsible vendor training programs to include marijuana delivery training.

EARNINGS: iAnthus Capital Holdings will report fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2018 results Monday after market close. Executives will hold a conference call with analysts on Tuesday morning.

New York-based iAnthus, which owns and operates licensed cultivation, processing and dispensary facilities across the United States, currently has operations in 11 states and runs 21 dispensaries.

Colorado-based Helix TCS, which offers an operating services platform for producers, manufacturers and distributors in the cannabis industry, also is announcing its financial results for the fourth quarter and full full-year 2018 on Monday, with a conference call scheduled for the morning.

Finally, GrowGeneration, a large specialty retail hydroponic and organic gardening store chain based in Denver, is slated to report year-end 2018 earnings Monday as well. The company will host a conference call later in the afternoon. GrowGen has 21 stores and an online superstore for cultivators.

READY TO SIGN: While legislation calling for legalization of marijuana for adult use in New Mexico stalled in a Senate committee, four other cannabis-related bills are on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk, and she has until Friday to sign them into law.

The bills decrease marijuana penalties, expand the state’s MMJ program, allow medical cannabis in schools and launch commercial production of hemp and hemp extracts in compliance with the Farm Bill.

Grisham, a Democrat who has said she wants recreational marijuana legalization back on the agenda for the next legislative session, is expected to sign the bills, with the new laws becoming effective June 14.

FORWARD TO THE POLLS: Voters in two Wisconsin jurisdictions will go to the polls Tuesday to weigh in on referendums asking if they support adult-use and medical marijuana legalization.

In Wood County, voters are being asked, “Should marijuana be legal for medical purposes only and available only by prescription through a medical dispensary?” and “Should marijuana be legal for adults, 21 years of age and older, for recreational use to be taxed and regulated like alcohol?”

And in the Village of Egg Harbor, voters will answer the questions, “Do you support the use of marijuana for medical purposes?” and “Do you support allowing adults 21 years of age and older to engage in the personal use of marijuana on private property?”

While the advisory questions on the ballots are nonbinding, the results will give local officials a better sense of where their constituents stand on the issues. Last November, 16 counties across the state voted on questions relating to marijuana.

 ‘CARE’-FUL CONSIDERATION: The House Health Committee in the Alabama Legislature could hold a public hearing as early as this week on a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state.

The Care Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Ball of Madison, would allow any derivative of the marijuana plant to treat 33 conditions, including addiction, anxiety, autism and cancer, according to Birmingham TV station WBMA.

The bill would require a diagnosis from an authorized doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. Those eligible could then apply for a medical cannabis card, which would make them exempt from possession charges. The measure also would create the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to regulate growers and dispensaries.