The Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association (3MA) is now accepting membership applications from business owners in the medical marijuana industry.
“We are so excited to officially launch this association,” said Ken Newburger, Executive Director for the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association. “We already have over 50 members, and our goal is to make sure we give these businesses access to tools and information to give Mississippi a top-tier medical marijuana program. Our team worked so hard alongside Mississippi voters to pass Initiative 65 at the polls, and now we want to do all we can to assure the program operates in the best way possible for patients in Mississippi.”
The primary focus of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association is to monitor legislative and regulatory activity, to advocate for its members, and to be a single and coherent political voice representing the interests of the industry. Membership provides access to educational and informational resources, networking opportunities, and governmental affairs representation.
The association is holding its first event for members, the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Convention, on February 19, 2021.
“We worked tirelessly for two years educating voters to help get Initiative 65 passed,” said Newburger, “and now our team is moving forward to make sure patients who qualify to be treated with medical marijuana can get it in the safest and most secure way possible through prepared, reliable businesses. We have assembled a team of experienced professionals in the legal and communication industries, who also worked closely with the Initiative 65 campaign, to help assure that medical marijuana businesses in Mississippi are set up for success right from the beginning.”
November’s tax revenues from adult-use cannabis, which reflect the record $75.28 million in sales tallied in October, reached nearly $22.88 million, according to figures released by the Illinois Department of Revenue.
That’s less than $3 million shy of the roughly $25.74 million in taxes collected through alcohol sales last month. That’s the smallest deficit since recreational marijuana was legalized in January.
Pot sales have skyrocketed in the 11 months since the drug was fully legalized, resulting in an almost steady increase in monthly returns for the state, according to a Sun-Times analysis. Taxes have pumped nearly $153 million into the state’s cash-strapped coffers, including nearly $100 million in the past five months.
Why have weed sales — and taxes — increased so much?
First of all, state levies on cannabis are far higher than those tacked on the price of booze (not including local or federal taxes).
While there’s no apples-to-apples comparison, alcohol is also subject to the general sales tax of 6.25% and an excise tax of 23 cents per gallon of beer, $1.49 per gallon of wine and $8.55 per gallon of liquor.
That means the state’s share of the price of a joint is much more than its share of the cost of a six-pack of beer. A $15 six-pack, for example, would net 69 cents for the state, while two high-potency joints priced at $16 would generate $5 for the state.
What’s more, pot sales have steadily increased since the program launched Jan. 1 — which was to be expected. But COVID-19 has also played a role, experts said.
The pandemic has “had a big impact on sales numbers,” said Alyssa Jank, an analyst at the Brightfield Group, a Loop-based firm that researches the cannabis industry.
“People have been at home more. People are looking for things to do [and] people don’t have to worry about being functional or capable to go and do stuff. So I think that’s part of it,” said Jank. “I think another part of it is that people have been way more stressed out and anxious this year, so they’re looking for something as a solve for that.”
Meanwhile, tax revenues from alcohol sales have fluctuated and returned to pre-pandemic levels. Though some research suggests consumers are spending less overall because they aren’t paying for the markup at restaurants and bars, total alcohol sales still trump the state’s pot sales totals.
Jay-Z just became the latest celebrity to launch a pot business.
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter — the billionaire rapper and global business mogul behind a multitude of successful companies including D’Usse cognac, streaming service Tidal and entertainment firm Roc Nation — can now add premium cannabis brand Monogram to his portfolio.
Monogram’s core collection rolled out Thursday. Retailing between $40 and $70, the products include several cannabis strains designated as light, medium and heavy — available in pre-rolled cigars and joints and tins of cannabis flower.
In a statement obtained by CNBC, Jay-Z said his vision for the brand is “cannabis redefined.”
“Cannabis has been around for thousands of years, yet it is still an industry whose legacy of skilled craftsmanship is often overlooked,” he said. “I created Monogram to give cannabis the respect it deserves by showcasing the tremendous hard work, time and care that go into crafting a superior smoke. Monogram products are next level when it comes to quality and consistency and we’re just getting started.”
Jay-Z — who once famously referred to himself as a “business, man” not a “businessman” — joins a growing list of artists getting into the pot industry.
The new draft regulations cover licensing fees, the timeline for license approvals, the structure of the regulatory body, product labeling, public safety protocols and other technical matters. This is the first of what’s expected to be at least one if not more versions of draft regulations that the Arizona Department of Health Services will put out before finalizing rules.
Arizona’s secretary of state officially certified the Election Day results on November 30, which initiated the process of putting these regulations together. Now that they’ve been released in their initial form, stakeholders can use an online survey to submit feedback that regulators can use to amend the proposal. Responses are being accepted through December 17.
“Just a week and a half after Governor Ducey officially certified the will of Arizona voters, the Department is already hard at work to ensure the smoothest transition possible to adult-use in Arizona,” he said.
But again, this is a preliminary step and the provisions outlined in the draft rules are likely to be amended. Richard said he anticipates the department will put out at least one more proposal based on feedback they get and that the rules won’t be finalized until early January.
“They just want to give operators a sense of what the program will look like” before applications go live, he said.
Under the new legalization law, adults will be able to possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.
“It’s by far the most controversial provision,” Duggan said. “The city will not issue a license to any business unless 50% of the licenses in that category are Detroiters. Which means if you’re from outside the city, you can’t get a license unless a Detroiter already has one. We’ll never go below 50%.”
The plan, city leaders say, was crafted to ensure residents disproportionately affected by the nation’s failed “War on Drugs” will have an equitable opportunity to participate in an industry that’s estimated to yield $3 billion in annual sales. In late November, the city council unanimously approved the ordinance.
“It was imperative for us to ensure we right that wrong,” Tate said. “We have individuals who are making a very good living on marijuana today, the same plant that created this situation of mass incarceration around our country in the city of Detroit, so this is an opportunity for us.”
Applicants can qualify for the “legacy” certification if they’ve lived in Detroit for 15 of the last 30 years; lived in Detroit for 13 of the last 30 years and are low-income; or lived in Detroit for 10 of the last 30 years and have a past marijuana-related conviction.
Legacy Detroiters will receive benefits including reduced fees, technical assistance and a six-week period when only legacy Detroiter applications will be reviewed before the rest of the public by the city’s Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department.
Legacy Detroiters will be able to purchase city-owned land at 25% of the fair market value and all application fees be slashed to 1% of the total cost.
“These are for real Detroiters, those who have roots in the community,” Duggan said. “Or you can qualify as a business legacy, owned and controlled 51% by individuals with the legacy certification.”
Despite the scrutiny they face, “Detroit is ready for this huge lift,” Tate said.
He added it was rare to witness overwhelming excitement about an ordinance but said it’s because “now (residents) have that sense of opportunity and hope.”
How to apply
The adult-use law is expected to go into effect in January and Detroiters can start by reviewing the process at detroitmeansbusiness.org.
The state requirements include a $6,000 fee with reductions for those involved in social equity programs. Applicants must provide the state information on the company and have a personal background check.
The state process could take two to three months and Duggan said Detroit applicants can begin the city process in January before state prequalifications are complete.
Starting April 1, Detroiters and general applicants will able to apply for licenses through the Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.
Legacy Detroiters will be the first applicants reviewed for licenses starting May 1. General applications will be reviewed starting Aug. 1.
City licensing fees will cost $1,000, but only $10 for legacy Detroiters.
“We are going to change the inequity on Detroit versus non-Detroit businesses,” Duggan said. “We’re doing everything we can to create every opportunity for Detroiters to start these businesses.”
The city will license up to 75 adult-use retailers, the same number it allows for medical marijuana provisioning centers. Officials said it amounted to one dispensary every two square miles in the city.
Applicants will need:
Detailed business plans
Three years of income tax returns
Authorizations for background checks
Property tax clearances and clearances of any blight
An address for the business
Those without an address can obtain a provisional license valid for one year and for information on properties. Detroit officials have said only four of the city’s 46 medical marijuana dispensaries — permitted under a law approved by Detroit’s council in 2018 — are owned by residents.
Mitzi Ruddock, a 40-year-old Detroit single mother with a past marijuana conviction, told The News that having a seat at the table made a difference.
“I and many other Detroiters have sacrificed so much to see the day that brings generational wealth to our children through legal cannabis businesses,” said Ruddock.
IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–WM Holding Company, LLC (“WMH” or the “Company”) and Silver Spike Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: SSPK) (“Silver Spike”), a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company, announced today a definitive agreement for a business combination that would result in WMH becoming a public company. The combined company will be led by Chris Beals, Chief Executive Officer of WMH, and is expected to remain listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Founded in 2008, WMH operates Weedmaps, the leading online listings marketplace for cannabis consumers and businesses, and WM Business, the most comprehensive SaaS subscription offering sold to cannabis retailers and brands. The Company solely provides software and other technology solutions and is non-plant touching. WMH has grown revenue at a CAGR of 40% over the last five years and is on track to deliver $160 million in revenue and $35 million in EBITDA for 2020.
The cannabis market in the U.S. is expected to double over the next five years as the majority of U.S. adults support having legal access to cannabis. Despite these expectations of growth, cannabis users in the U.S. are still a small sub-segment of the population today, and retail density is still low across the majority of states with regulated legal cannabis markets. The regulations related to these markets are often complex and disparate across states as well as cities and counties within regulated states. Cannabis itself is a highly complex and non-shelf stable consumer product. These dynamics present a challenging and sometimes uncertain environment for consumers seeking legal cannabis products and for businesses selling to cannabis users while operating in a compliant fashion.
WMH addresses these challenges with its Weedmaps marketplace and WM Business SaaS subscription offering. Over the past 12 years, Weedmaps has grown to become the premier destination for cannabis consumers, with over 10 million monthly active users and over 18,000 business listings across every U.S. state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico with a legal cannabis market. Clients of the Company maintain listings in 9 international countries outside of the U.S. Through the Weedmaps website and mobile apps, WMH provides consumers with information regarding cannabis retailers and brands, as well as the availability of cannabis products, facilitating product discovery and online order-ahead for pickup or delivery by participating retailers.
The Company’s cloud-based WM Business SaaS subscription offering provides cannabis retailers with an end-to-end operating system to access valuable users, grow sales and scale their businesses at a compelling return-on-spend. This “business-in-a-box” functionality ranges from integrations supporting product menus that have online order-ahead, delivery order fulfillment software, data & analytics, a point-of-sale solution and a wholesale marketplace. WMH has been investing in and optimizing its WM Business software solution to also facilitate compliance for businesses amidst the complex, disparate and constantly evolving regulations governing the cannabis industry. Underlying this compliance functionality is a proprietary and sophisticated rules engine that is a core underpinning of the WM Business SaaS platform.
Chris Beals, WMH’s Chief Executive Officer, will continue to lead the Company along with the existing management team. Silver Spike’s CEO and Chairman, Scott Gordon, will join the merged company’s Board of Directors upon completion of the transaction.
“We are thrilled to partner with Silver Spike to transition WMH to our next phase of growth as a public company,” said Chris Beals, CEO of WMH. “We passionately believe in the power of cannabis and the importance of enabling safe, legal access to cannabis for consumers worldwide. With this merger, we will be able to continue scaling the Weedmaps marketplace in the U.S. and internationally in service of our users while expanding the functionality of our WM Business SaaS offerings in service of our clients.
Our partnership with Silver Spike will provide us a stronger platform to advance our mission to advocate for legalization, social equity and licensing in many jurisdictions while providing cannabis businesses with the tools needed to succeed in a highly complex world of regulations. I am grateful for the continued support from my teammates and investors and most thankful for the thousands – and what I expect over time to be hundreds of thousands – of business clients on our platform. We are energized by the opportunities to continue helping our business clients thrive as regulated cannabis markets expand and grow.”