MJBizDaily’s most-read cannabis business stories of 2021

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With an ongoing pandemic, a new president and Congress and five new state cannabis markets worth a collective $5 billion, 2021 has been a year like no other for the cannabis industry.

Here’s a look back at MJBizDaily’s 10 most-read cannabis business stories of 2021:

1. Marijuana companies weigh how to approach COVID-19 vaccinations for employees

Like mainstream businesses, U.S. cannabis companies have been forced to grapple with legal, ethical and public-health considerations around employee vaccination as the COVID-19 pandemic dragged on through 2021.

Legal experts interviewed by MJBizDaily recommended carefully crafted policies to incentivize worker vaccinations while accommodating employees who can’t, or won’t, get the shot.

2. Aurora Cannabis puts mammoth 1.7 million-square-foot greenhouse on the sales block

MJBizDaily has tracked the consequences of overbuilding cannabis cultivation space in Canada.

Aurora Cannabis’ decision to unload its massive greenhouse in Medicine Hat, Alberta, underscores what can happen when a cultivator has too much growing capacity.

It also offers a valuable lesson for cannabis producers worldwide.

3. These states could still legalize recreational or medical cannabis in 2021

New state recreational or medical marijuana markets are always big news, and MJBizDaily readers flocked to read about the next opportunities in the U.S.

Lawmakers in Connecticut, New York, New Mexico and Virginia ultimately moved forward with recreational legalization this year, and Alabama‘s governor signed a medical marijuana bill.

Together, those five states are ultimately expected to generate some $5 billion in annual sales.

Medical and recreational marijuana legalization efforts in some other states, including Kansas, South Carolina, Nebraska and Minnesota, didn’t make the cut in 2021.

4. How will new law banning vaporizer shipments impact cannabis businesses?

The U.S. government threw a wrench into the cannabis vaping industry with a late 2020 bill that banned the Postal Service from shipping vaping products.

The USPS delayed the ban for a time, leaving vape manufacturers and retailers in limbo.

The ban on mailing vape products – including hemp-derived CBD products and other cannabis vape products – finally took effect in October.

5. How to dry and cure cannabis to ensure quality, shelf life

Cannabis doesn’t last forever, so successful cultivators can’t just grow it and forget it – certain post-harvest techniques can make the difference between top-notch bud and a disappointing dud.

MJBizDaily interviewed expert marijuana and hemp growers to get their tips on drying, curing and storing their valuable crops.

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6. New Jersey recreational marijuana implementation law signed, setting stage for $1 billion market

The 11th-most-populous state, New Jersey, is poised to be a key recreational cannabis market in the U.S. after Gov. Phil Murphy signed implementation legislation to launch recreational sales this past February.

New Jersey voters had approved legalization during the November 2020 general election.

Since then, existing medical cannabis dispensaries in New Jersey have been preparing for the market to launch in 2022, and the state has started taking applications for new adult-use marijuana business licenses.

7. Canopy Growth, others formed JV ‘solely’ to pump marijuana stock, refiled CA$500 million lawsuit alleges

A refiled lawsuit against a group of Canadian cannabis companies, including Canopy Growth, alleges that their PharmHouse cannabis production joint venture was meant to pump their share prices and generate profits for company insiders.

The original suit ended after PharmHouse was granted creditor protection, but the refiled suit included new allegations.

Canopy Growth said at the time it hadn’t been served with the suit and doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Other companies named in the lawsuit did not comment immediately or dismissed the allegations as “entirely without merit.”

8. Marijuana industry expected to add $92 billion to U.S. economy in 2021

The U.S. cannabis industry is contributing more and more to the national economy, even without federal legalization.

The MJBizFactbook estimates the legal marijuana industry contributed $92 billion to the broader economy this year, an increase of more than 30% over 2020.

9. Aphria-Tilray cannabis merger talks overcame pandemic pause, rival bidder and other hurdles, proxy reveals

The Aphria-Tilray combination announced in December 2020 was a monumental task, as regulatory documents revealed.

It took more than a year to craft the megamerger, which was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MJBizDaily sifted through regulatory filings to get an inside look at how the deal was done.

10. Pennsylvania order targeting vaporized products upends cannabis market

The regulated medical marijuana industry in Pennsylvania took a hit in November when regulators ordered licensed grower/processors to resubmit vaporized cannabis products for another approval.

Pennsylvania industry insiders warned the move could result in the destruction of millions of dollars worth of products.

The controversy continued in December, as regulators warned MMJ patients that vape products with additives “may not be safe for inhalation.”

Solomon Israel can be reached at solomon.israel@mjbizdaily.com.