Week in Review: Nevada’s tough cannabis compliance, Arizona’s fight over adult-use legalization, FDA’s CBD guidance & more

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Image of Nevada state capitol building

Nevada regulators came down hard on marijuana business CWNevada for a number of violations, stripping the company of 14 licenses for such issues as not paying taxes or complying with the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.

MJBizDaily takeaway: This severe punishment not only sent a harsh message to the owners of CWNevada but also to the other cannabis operators in the state: Pay your taxes, use the traceability program, don’t sell untested cannabis and don’t allow employees to hide or destroy evidence, or you’ll lose your licenses.

Success in the cannabis industry is all about maintaining compliance.

Arizona suit seeks to halt recreational legalization

Anti-cannabis advocates filed suit in Arizona to halt an initiative that would legalize adult-use marijuana in the state.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Arizona came close to legalizing recreational marijuana in 2016, but a well-funded opposition effort was able to convince voters otherwise.

That same fight is on for 2020, though a negative public perception of marijuana is eroding, not growing stronger, so the campaign to legalize adult-use cannabis should have a better chance.

And that’s great news for the industry. Arizona’s medical cannabis businesses are highly profitable, and a recreational market likely will fare even better.

FDA files guidance for cannabis research, CBD

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released guidance for clinical research and development recommendations on drugs containing cannabis and derivative compounds.

A day later, the agency filed industry guidance on CBD enforcement policy with the White House Office of Management and Budget, signaling that long-awaited and much-needed regulation is nearing.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The FDA’s new cannabis drug research and development recommendations signify a welcome next step for cannabis companies pursuing pharmaceutical product development.

Though it’s still unclear what kind of guidance FDA regulators will recommend for CBD, the action might mean clarity could finally be coming to the space.

The hemp industry has been waiting for the FDA to provide a legal path forward for hemp-derived CBD products since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed in December 2018.

Curaleaf-Grassroots deal completed

Cannabis multistate company Curaleaf finalized its acquisition of privately held Grassroots Cannabis, expanding Curaleaf’s presence to 135 dispensary locations and licenses in 23 states.

The roughly $700 million deal expands the company’s presence to several profitable markets, including Illinois and Pennsylvania.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Cannabis companies like to bandy about claims of “first” and “biggest.” But this deal legitimately puts Curaleaf in rarefied air in the marijuana industry with Curaleaf now boasting more than 100 dispensaries in 20-plus states. Not many cannabis companies can make similar claims in terms of sheer scale.

Massachusetts mulls ending vertical integration

Regulators in Massachusetts are kicking around doing away with the vertical-integration requirement for medical cannabis businesses.

The move would generate more money for state coffers by way of application and licensing fees.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Those businesses with vertically integrated operations are likely unhappy about this proposal, because controlling the supply chain from seed to sale is one way to make strong profits in this industry.

But changing the rules to allow for different license types would increase competition, add new business opportunities and expand the industry.

If such a move led to price drops, it might spur consumers to move from the illicit market to legal cannabis businesses.

Record cannabis sales in Canada

Retail sales of regulated cannabis in Canada reached new highs in May, spiking nearly 4.2% from April – and Alberta alone accounted for a quarter of those sales.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Sales that strong mean the Canadian market is worth up to $2.2 billion a year.

All of this is good news considering the coronavirus pandemic and the fact retail cannabis stores are not spread evenly across the country.

If the rest of the provinces could catch up with Alberta, Canada’s total revenues could be much, much higher.

Bart Schaneman can be reached at barts@mjbizdaily.com

Hemp Industry Daily reporter Laura Drotleff contributed to this report.