A Jersey-based start-up has been granted the second only license in the British Isles to cultivate pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for profit, more than two decades after the first permit was issued.
Northern Leaf has been awarded a licence to grow cannabis for medical use by the government of Jersey under UK Home Office rules and is preparing to cultivate marijuana in a greenhouse sprawling across 75,000 square feet. It plans to start supplying drugmakers in the UK, Denmark, Germany, Spain and Portugal by the end of this year.
“Demand is increasing globally and the market is currently undersupplied,” Campbell Dunlop, chief executive of Northern Leaf, told the Financial Times.
Northern Leaf, which was founded two years ago and received its permit in December, is the second only company to be granted a UK license for commercial marijuana cultivation.
GW Pharmaceuticals, a US-listed leader in cannabis-based epilepsy medicines that was founded in the UK, was awarded the first permit in 1998. The Jersey group will be up against established cannabis producers elsewhere in Europe.
These include Aurora Cannabis, which has 100,000 sq feet of greenhouses in Denmark, and Tilray and Emmac, which have 160,000 sq feet and 300,000 sq feet respectively in Portugal, according to investment firm Chrystal Capital, which has helped Northern Leaf raise funds. The UK is among many countries that have in recent years legalized the use of cannabis-based medicines for pain relief or to treat conditions from cancer to epilepsy.
While North America dominates the cannabis investment market, interest in Europe is growing. In September, the FT reported that Chrystal was looking to raise as much as $200m for a new cannabis investment fund. The European medical cannabis market was valued at €330m last year, according to Brightfield Group.
Mr Dunlop, who described securing the licence as “quite a big breakthrough”, said he expected Northern Leaf’s first shipment of cannabis to reach half a tonne — Emmac produced roughly 10 tonnes last year. The licence relates to a site that has a maximum capacity of 400,000 sq feet, he added.
A Virginia lawmaker has filed a bill to legalize marijuana for adult use in the state.
The move comes one month after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) included provisions to lay the groundwork for cannabis legalization in a budget proposal that also calls for millions of dollars to support expungements.
The bill from Del. Steve Heretick (D) is the first of what could be several proposals to end marijuana prohibition that the legislature sees this session.
The new legislation would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis. It calls for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to regulate the marijuana program, as it currently does for hemp.
Adults could also grow up to three mature and three immature plants for personal use under the bill.
“This bill is built upon the lessons of other states throughout the country which have enacted similar reforms,” Heretick said in a press release.
A 9.6 percent tax would be imposed on cannabis sales under the bill, which was first reported by WTKR-TV, though local jurisdictions could tack on their own taxes for a maximum total of 15 percent. The municipalities would also be allowed to dictate whether marijuana businesses can operate in their area.
Most of the tax revenue from cannabis would go to the state’s general fund (67 percent) while the remaining 33 percent would be invested in a fund meant to promote public education about marijuana.
“With the support of Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, and a growing consensus of bipartisan support from legislators and local leaders around the Commonwealth, and now Virginia Governor Northam and key members of his administration, this is legislation which has now matured for enactment,” Heretick said. “I look forward to a robust and inclusive conversation about the manner in which Virginia will act on this legislation this year.”
New York lawmakers representing nearly a third of the state Senate on Tuesday prefiled a bill to legalize marijuana.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has emphasized the need to enact the reform in 2021, arguing that it could help offset economic losses from the coronavirus pandemic and promote social equity. And now there’s a new potential vehicle for legalization to happen.
Sen. Liz Krueger (D) and 18 cosponsors filed the legislation, which is identical to a bill she sponsored last year and has now been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. It would make it so adults 21 and older would be able to purchase cannabis and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.
This is the fifth version of the legalization bill that the senator has introduced since 2013. But advocates are hopeful that, given the evolved marijuana policy landscape in the region and nationally, as well as the governor’s embrace of reform, this year will see the measure advance.
“It is long past time for New York State to catch up with our neighbors and legalize, tax, and regulate adult-use marijuana,” Krueger told Marijuana Moment. “To my mind the most compelling reason for doing so has always been to end the unnecessary and destructive impact of the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ on communities of color.”
“But now, faced with the impacts of the pandemic, the potential for legalization to create new jobs, economic growth, and out-year tax revenue for the state is more important than ever,” she said. “I am cautiously optimistic about the chances of getting this done and done right—in a way that ensures that resources are directed to communities most directly impacted by the failed policies of prohibition.”
An 18 percent tax would be imposed on cannabis sales. After covering the costs of implementation, revenue from those taxes would go toward three areas: 25 percent for the state lottery fund, so long as it’s designated for the Department of Education; 25 percent for a drug treatment and public education fund and 50 percent for a community grants reinvestment fund.
The bill could finally give advocates the legislative win they’ve been working towards.
Cuomo has attempted to enact legalization through the budget for the past two years—and he’s expected to give it another try in 2021, based on recent comments from an aide and the governor—but it hasn’t come to fruition. That’d due in large part to disagreements over certain provisions such as the tax structure and where to allocate the resulting revenues
“I look forward to working with the governor and my legislative colleagues to finally make legalization a reality for New Yorkers,” Krueger said of the renewed effort for 2021.
Once the clock struck midnight and 2021 began, marijuana became legal for recreational use in the state of Montana – but this new law does not come without some caveats.
“I imagine people… we’ll probably have some amount of people coming to all the stores ready to buy. But you know, we can’t do that,” said Joshua Gosney, the owner of Infinity Wellness.
While marijuana is now legal for recreational use, only two things have immediately taken effect. “Any individual will be allowed to grow a certain number of plants in their house and have a certain amount of product on them at all times,” Gosney said.
So you can grow it and possess it — but a lot goes into growing the cannabis plant.
“In Montana, you’re going to be primarily in an indoor situation, especially in the wintertime, so you’re going to need things like supplemental high-intensity lighting or LEDs, some type of watering apparatus. It’s some work,” explained Ryan Saghatelian, one of the owners of Greener Pastures.
It could be a while, though, before you can legally buy marijuana in Montana.
“Probably not going to be until 2022 when the licensing goes into play, so we’re kind of in a weird area right now where it’s legal to possess, but it’s not legal to purchase, so there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Saghatelian said.
And with new laws comes new responsibilities: “There will be limitations to what people can do. It’ll be up to the Legislature to make sure that they effectively regulate that in order to maximize tax revenue and public safety and public benefit without risking the public’s health,” Gosney said.
Smoking marijuana in public is not allowed, and Montana statute says no one can drive under the influence of any substance, according to Lt. Brandon Wooley with the Billings Police Department. He also noted: “We still will be involved in, let’s say, if you got four or five pounds on you and you’ve got evidence of trafficking and distribution. We’re still going to seize everything and we’re still going to forward through for the County Attorney’s office for prosecution.”
Supporters say legalizing recreational marijuana will generate much-needed tax revenue. A study by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business & Economic Research estimated recreational marijuana could generate more than $43 million a year for the state.
However, some law enforcement, medical, and professional groups oppose the measures. They argue legalized marijuana will add to the state’s growing drug addiction problems, create safety concerns in the workplace, the risk of unintentional exposure to children, and increased marijuana use in adolescents.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said in an announcement hours before the start of the new year that his state had expunged nearly 500,000 marijuana-related convictions.
The move follows Pritzker signing legislation in 2019 legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state starting in 2020. The expansive legislation also paved the way for 770,000 state residents to be eligible for expunging marijuana-related offenses.
Pritzker initially estimated it would take four years to start getting records expunged, but announced on Thursday that nearly 500,000 had already been tossed going into 2021.
“We reached this milestone one year into what will be an ongoing effort to correct historic wrongdoings fueled by the war on drugs,” he tweeted.
“We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of the damage in communities of color, who have disproportionately shouldered this burden. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past — and the decency to set a better path forward.”
Illinois joins more than a dozen states in recent years that have legalized marijuana recreationally and sought to address convictions related to the drug.
California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington have each enacted legislation to explicitly expunge or seal the records of those convicted of low-level marijuana crimes.