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Enthusiasm For Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Boom Tempered By Concerns Of A Bust

Enthusiasm For Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Boom Tempered By Concerns Of A Bust

Oklahoma medical marijuana boom could be short lived, some worry

Oklahoma has what many consider to be the only free-enterprise medical marijuana industry in the U.S., with cheap startup fees, no cap on medical marijuana business licenses and few limits on who can get a patient card. But this low barrier to entry could lead to an oversaturated market where cannabis businesses struggle to survive.

Jessica Baker, owner of Bakers Cannabis Dispensary in northwest Oklahoma City, has witnessed the growing pains other young marijuana industries like Oklahoma’s have experienced over her two decade career in the business.

She and her husband Chip started growing medical cannabis in California in 1997, which eventually led them to Colorado, where Chip opened a couple of hydroponic stores.

After the passage of State Question 788 in June of 2018, which legalized medical marijuna in Oklahoma, Chip noticed he started receiving an influx of business from Oklahoma.

“People were ordering lights and soil and nutrients,” Jessica said.

The Bakers saw promise in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market and decided to move to the state at the end of 2018.

In addition to the dispensary and its attached clone nursery, Chip owns a nearby hydroponic store in OKC, and Jessica has a marijuana farm and processor about 40 miles northeast of the city.

Jessica said it’s been a nice change of pace doing business in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market.

“My businesses have primarily been in California where it’s very difficult and expensive,” Jessica said. “Oklahoma in general… they made it pretty easy for people, which is nice and affordable.”

Oklahoma has some of the cheapest annual commercial licensing fees in the country at $2,500, especially compared to California where licensing fees can reach six figures and range depending on estimated annual gross revenue.

There’s also no limit on licensed medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma unlike other states such as Louisiana where only one dispensary is allowed in each of the state’s nine regions.

And with no list of qualifying conditions, it’s easy to get a physician to write a recommendation for a medical marujuana patient card. This has led to over 367,000 Oklahomans, nearly 10% of the state’s population, obtaining a medical marijuana patient card, which according to Politico makes Oklahoma the largest medical marijuana market per capita.

Jay Czarkowski, founding partner of the marijuana business consulting firm Canna Advisors, said Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program has grown rapidly. 

“The medical marijuana program in Oklahoma, it’s such an open, liberal program, it is almost like adult use legalization,” Czarkowski said. 

Oklahoma is just shy of having 10,000 active licensed medical marijuana businesses, which includes over 2,000 dispensaries and about 6,500 growers. 

Jessica was surprised about Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry. So many people with little to no prior experience with cannabis were so eager to get into the business.  

“It says something about people from Oklahoma… that they would just jump into something of the unknown and kind of gamble on it, which is a pretty cool quality,” she said. 

But the flip side to Oklahoma’s low barrier of entry for starting a medical marijuana business is the pressure it puts on the market. 

Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, an Oklahoma attorney who represents over 150 cannabis businesses, said some enter the market with the misconception that it will be fast money. 

“You have people getting into it who don’t understand that the cannabis industry is just like any other business,” she said. “You have to work hard and have a strong business acumen and know what you’re doing.”

Because there are so many growers, Gossett Parrish said they need to zero in on a market to avoid being eclipsed by larger growers that generate a massive supply of product. 

“If you are a craft grower and maybe an organic grower and you pick and choose certain illnesses and conditions for which you grow strains and you target your market, then you’re going to fare well,” Gossett Parrish said. 

Unless the state legalizes recreational marijuana within the year, Jessica expects many cannabis businesses will have to shut down. She said there’s more marijuana than there is demand from patients.

Original Story from KGOU

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Recreational marijuana sales in Arizona could start this week

Recreational marijuana sales in Arizona could start this week

Cannabis dispensaries in Arizona could open this week.

Marijuana sales to anyone 21 or older in Arizona could start within a day or two, with state health officials telling dispensaries they are poised to issue licenses for recreational sales.

The first stores able to sell recreational marijuana and marijuana products, such as vape pens and gummy edibles, are existing medical-marijuana dispensaries. Some of those businesses said Tuesday they are awaiting approval from state regulators to show up online so they may open their doors to anyone with a state-issued ID. 

“I’m sitting here at my computer hitting refresh, refresh,” said Raúl Molina, a partner and senior vice president of operations for The Mint dispensaries in Mesa and Guadalupe.

A spokesman for the Department of Health Services said 40 medical dispensaries had applied to sell recreational marijuana as of Tuesday afternoon.

The quick turnaround for licenses was unexpected by some dispensary owners, who anticipated the state agency would use the full amount of time given under the law to approve applications, meaning recreational sales wouldn’t begin until March or April.

About two-thirds of dispensaries in the state have yet to make an application, meaning their competitors will have a jump on them in attracting the recreational market.

Molina said he is ready to begin sales as soon as he gets the OK, and that officials with the Department of Health Services told him it could come at any time.

“I am so ready,” Molina said, adding that he has submitted documents to the state for his employees to work in a recreational dispensary, stocked childproof packaging, added cash registers and programmed them to add the appropriate tax to recreational sales, and bought an additional 800 pounds of marijuana in the past month to meet the anticipated demand.

“We expect rushes like 4/20 (April 20) for probably like 10 to 30 days straight,” he said. “Basically it’s going to be 4/20 for a full month.”

Molina said he has dedicated registers for medical-marijuana patients to prevent a displacement by new recreational customers.

Arizonans approved Proposition 207 in November, legalizing adult use and possession of marijuana. The measure also allowed the state’s 120 or so operating medical-marijuana dispensaries to apply for a license to sell to any adult, not just those who have a state-issued medical-marijuana card.

Arkansas medical marijuana sales hit $175M in 2020

Arkansas medical marijuana sales hit $175M in 2020

Arkansas medical marijuana sales saw a big boom in 2020

Medical marijuana sales in Arkansas reached $175 million in 2020, ending the year with a record $1.22 million day.

The Marijuana Business Factbook projects that Arkansas MMJ sales will nearly double this year to $300 million-$365 million, boosted by new items such as edibles and vape products. The state recently opened up licensing for processors.

The state’s dispensaries sold 26,000 pounds of medical marijuana products in 2020, Medical Marijuana Commission spokesman Scott Hardin told Arkansas Public Radio.

The market, which launched in May 2019, started 2020 with fewer than 10 dispensaries but ended the year with 32, according to the report.

Six additional licensed retail entities are working toward opening for business, Hardin wrote in a recent email to Marijuana Business Daily.

Meanwhile, a medical marijuana dispensary in Hot Springs filed a lawsuit alleging that three cultivators have refused to sell product to the retailer, costing the outlet $5 million.

Green Springs Medical Dispensary, once the state’s leading seller, is requesting that the Garland County Circuit Court bar the growers from boycotting the dispensary, according to The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs.

CEO Dragan Vicentic also wants state regulators to impose a rule that prohibits cultivators from refusing to sell to dispensaries, which his lawsuit claims violates federal antitrust laws.

He claims the growers are retaliating against his comments to regulators that the state needs more cultivators because the existing ones cannot meet dispensaries’ demand. There are currently only eight licensed cannabis cultivators in the state to meet the demand of 32 dispensaries.

UFC won’t punish fighters for marijuana use in policy change

UFC won’t punish fighters for marijuana use in policy change

UFC is no longer going to punish fighter for cannabis use

The UFC will no longer punish fighters for using marijuana in most cases, making a major change to its anti-doping policy.

The world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion confirmed Thursday that it will no longer worry about positive tests for carboxy-THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, unless it believes a fighter used it intentionally to enhance performance.

All other cannabinoids derived naturally from marijuana are no longer prohibited substances, said Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s senior vice president of athlete health and performance.

“The bottom line is that in regard to marijuana, we care about what an athlete consumed the day of a fight, not days or weeks before a fight, which has often been the case in our historic positive THC cases,” Novitzky said. “UFC athletes will still be subject to marijuana rules under various athletic commission regulations, but we hope this is a start to a broader discussion and changes on this issue with that group.”

Indeed, the UFC’s decision doesn’t affect the rules of various state athletic commissions and international governing bodies, but those groups often follow promoters’ leads on anti-doping policy. The UFC hopes state commissions will similarly relax their rules to reflect the more widespread tolerance for marijuana use.

The UFC won’t allow fighters to compete while under the influence of cannabinoids, but Novitzky said the promotion recognizes that MMA fighters often use marijuana for pain management or relaxation. Fighters advocating for legal competitive marijuana use have previously argued that a relaxation of the UFC’s anti-marijuana rules could lead to a reduction in the use of more addictive pain medications.

The UFC partnered with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in 2015 to produce a comprehensive anti-doping program in a notoriously fractious sport. Mixed martial arts once frequently showcased fighters semi-openly using steroids and testosterone replacement therapy, among other performance enhancements.

Despite its prior ban, marijuana and CBD products have had a prominent role in many MMA fighters’ training and financial backing. Many fighters have sponsorships from CBD businesses, while others have launched CBD-related business ventures.

Nick and Nate Diaz, two semi-retired but wildly popular fighters from Stockton, California, have built their outlaw image partly around their enthusiastic use of marijuana and CBD products. Nick Diaz, who hasn’t fought in six years, tested positive for marijuana use after two of his last three fights.

Mexico publishes medicinal cannabis regulation

Mexico publishes medicinal cannabis regulation

Mexico pushes forward rules legal medical marijuana

The legislation marks a major shift in a country bedeviled for years by violence between feuding drug cartels.

Mexico’s health ministry on Tuesday published rules to regulate the use of medicinal cannabis, a major step in a broader reform to create the world’s largest legal cannabis market in the Latin American country.

The new regulation was signed off by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and will now allow pharmaceutical companies to begin doing medical research on cannabis products.

 

The cannabis reform taking place includes the recreational use of marijuana, and will create what would be the world’s biggest national cannabis market in terms of population.

The new medicinal rules state companies which wish to carry out research have to obtain permission from the Mexican health regulator, COFEPRIS, and this research has to be done in strictly controlled, independent laboratories.

“The standard of regulation is very, very high,” said Luisa Conesa, a lawyer and pro-cannabis activist who spearheaded legal challenges that led to decriminalization of medical cannabis.

“(The regulation) is not aimed at patients growing their own cannabis, it is aimed at pharmaceutical companies producing pharmaceutical derivatives of cannabis which are classified as controlled substances that need prescription,” he said.

The regulation also sets rules for the sowing, cultivation and harvesting of cannabis for medicinal purposes, which would allow businesses to grow marijuana legally on Mexican soil.

While some cannabis plant imports are permitted for companies looking to create products, exports of Mexican-grown cannabis is prohibited.

Foreign weed companies from Canada and the United States have been looking at Mexico with interest. Many had delayed making investment decisions due to policy uncertainty and were waiting for the final regulation to be published.

Mexico’s lawmakers are also in the final stages of legalizing recreational use of marijuana, with the bill expected to pass in the next period of Congress.

The legislation marks a major shift in a country bedeviled for years by violence between feuding drug cartels, which have long made millions of dollars growing marijuana illegally and smuggling it into the United States.

Kansas Lawmakers Push To Legalize Medical Marijuana In 2021

Kansas Lawmakers Push To Legalize Medical Marijuana In 2021

kansas cannabis legalization being pushed for 2021

After a shortened session dashed hopes for medicinal cannabis legalization in 2020, proponents of the plant are taking a fresh approach for the upcoming legislative session.

Last year, two separate bills were filed pushing for medicinal use, but both died in committee, despite a push to consider cannabis legislation in June when lawmakers convened for a special session. One of the bills offered a more conservative cannabis policy, like that of Ohio.

This year, those pushing to pass the bill are working to create collaborative legislation that appeals to both sides of the aisle, said Daniel Shafton, a consultant for the Kansas Cannabis Business Association.

Shafton said the KSCBA has put significant effort into meetings and webinars with stakeholders and legislators to inform the bill they plan to propose.

“We need to have a cohesive message,” Shafton said. “We were very honest about what needed to happen for us to move forward, and we have been very successfully able to bring a lot of voices to the table in a unified way. We have designed this bill alongside the legislators in a way that really accomplishes major goals from the 2021 Legislature of both sides of the aisle.”

In Kansas, which has already authorized hemp production and the sale of cannabidiol products without tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the next step is legalized medical use. Although such legislation has failed in the past, advocates are confident perception is shifting enough to see a bill through the House and Senate.

Erin Montroy, co-president and CEO of the KSCBA, said a bill will be filed in the first week or so of the legislative session. She said the bill would likely lean toward the conservative end of the spectrum in the early going and could be modified as the session progressed.

“No bill is perfect. No program is perfect,” Montroy said. “If we can get one off the ground and started, we can build on it, and with these relationships that will be much easier down the road.”

Montroy said any legislation would be carefully reviewed and edited to ensure that patient outcomes are at the core of the bill.

“The route that a lot of other states were taking to get there wasn’t really working,” Montroy said. “They were building really robust platforms that sounded like they’d be really beneficial to patients. But without a truly robust business platform, the patient suffers, no matter what the legislation says.”

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