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U.S. House Approves Bill to Ease Cannabis Banking

U.S. House Approves Bill to Ease Cannabis Banking

The U.S. House of Representatives late Tuesday night approved a bill that would let banks to do business with cannabis companies without fear of penalty, giving traction to the least-disputed reform sought by the growing industry. 

The so-called SAFE Banking Act would be a boon for marijuana companies, which have so-far been stymied by the necessity to deal in cash because of federal restrictions. That has meant they have extra security costs and logistical problems, even as marijuana increasingly becomes legal. Some three dozen states now allow medical or recreational use, according to New Frontier Data, a cannabis research firm.

The measure, which has been passed by the House before with bipartisan support, was this time approved by voice vote as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Representative Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat, who had re-introduced the bill, has said that allowing cannabis businesses to access the banking system would bring more money into the economy and offer the opportunity to create good-paying jobs. The American cannabis industry had $20.3 billion in legal sales in 2020, according New Frontier Data.

The bill’s prospects are unclear in the Senate.

Yet it’s still a far cry from the wish-list of legal reforms that the industry seeks, including all-out legalization, and relief from tax burdens.

The U.S. Cannabis Council, a trade group that represents companies in the industry, called the current rules that require marijuana firms to be all-cash a security hazard.

“Over $17 billion in legal cannabis was sold in the United States last year, overwhelmingly through cash transactions. Forcing legitimate, well-regulated cannabis businesses to conduct most of their business in cash is anachronistic and a clear threat to public safety,” the council’s chief executive Steven Hawkins said in a statement before the bill passed.

BTIG analyst Camilo Lyon said in a research note this week that the SAFE Act’s inclusion with the defense authorization might enhance its prospects.

“Discussions with our D.C. contacts suggest it has an easier pathway of getting through the Senate, largely because no senator wants to be viewed as holding up the massive 1,700 page must-pass NDAA simply because of SAFE banking,” Lyon wrote.

New Jersey Cannabis Commission Approves New Grow Site, More Waiting on Approval

New Jersey Cannabis Commission Approves New Grow Site, More Waiting on Approval

New Jersey’s cannabis regulators on Tuesday moved to streamline the licensing of new weed businesses and approved another marijuana grow site — but it did not announce the recipients of some two dozen businesses that have sat in limbo for nearly two years.

The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission met on Tuesday evening to approve the transfer of an existing medical marijuana license, a new marijuana grow site and a system to help it process applications for new cannabis businesses.

All signal the state is gearing up for legal cannabis sales.

The commission unveiled its initial rules to guide the legal weed industry last month. That set the clock ticking down to launch sales to those 21 and older — according to the law, they must start within six months of the commission adopting its regulations.

But the commission gave no word on the 2019 request for applications to operate new medical marijuana facilities. Some 150 entities saw a review of applications paused in late 2019 due to a lawsuit. But a court ruled earlier this year that the commission could resume its evaluation and award those 24 licenses.

So far, the commission has not issued any of the new licenses. Jeff Brown, the commission’s executive director, has said licenses will come soon, but regulators have not given a date by when they will announce the new licenses.

“It is not lost on us that everyone is eager to get that moving forward, as are we,” Dianna Houenou, the commission’s chair, said during the meeting. She said the commission was working quickly to score them, but emphasized the need to “double” and “triple” check each.

Still, frustration dominated the meeting.

Missouri medical cannabis industry adds over 140 dispensaries

Missouri medical cannabis industry adds over 140 dispensaries

Missouri medical cannabis dispensaries surpass 140

Missouri opened its first medical marijuana dispensary last October and now there are more than 140 across the state, with more to come.

The state’s medical cannabis industry employs roughly 5,000 people. Earlier this summer, Governor Mike Parson vetoed a bill that would have allowed Missouri medical cannabis business owners to deduct their expenses, but the head of the state program says that won’t stop the multi-million-dollar industry.

“The sales revenue is pleasantly surprising,” Lyndall Fraker, director of the section of medical marijuana with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said. “At the end of July, we surpassed $91 million in sales.”

Voters in the Show Me State passed an amendment in 2018 legalizing medical marijuana. Missouri was the 33rd state to legalize cannabis as medicine. Fraker said all medical marijuana sold in the state is grown in Missouri.

“The amendment that was voted on said that we should open the minimum number at least, which was 192 dispensaries,” Fraker said. “As of today, we have 142 open We’ve done the math and based on the number of quantities that each patient can purchase each month, how much product it would take to serve the patient base and we think we are going to be good for five or six years.”

Fraker said he believes the other 50 Missouri medical cannabis dispensaries could be open by the end of the year.

Massachusetts recreational cannabis now a $2 billion industry

Massachusetts recreational cannabis now a $2 billion industry

Massachusetts recreational cannabis sales top $2 billion

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission this week released numbers revealing sales of recreational marijuana has topped $2 billion dollars in the first three years of legalization.

The first Massachusetts recreational cannabis dispensaries opened for business in November 2018.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has negatively impacted other businesses, cannabis sales remains strong.

At Seed Recreational Dispensary in Jamaica Plain, which opened in March 2021, Assistant General Manager Bobby Driscoll is not surprised.

“I’m not surprised. It is definitely moving a little quicker than I think some of us in the industry had anticipated,” Driscoll said. “I think it was something we were waiting for, for a long time. A lot of people sacrificed a lot to get us to this point.”

Driscoll anticipates demand will remain strong, even as new dispensaries are approved and open for business.

New York Cannabis Control Board Appoints First Two Members

New York Cannabis Control Board Appoints First Two Members

new york cannabis control board has started assigning its first members

New York’s recreational pot program is no longer a buzzkill.

The state Senate confirmed two long overdue appointments to the agency that will regulate pot sales in the state during a special session ordered by Gov. Kathy Hochul to fast-track the program Wednesday.

Tremaine Wright was confirmed as chairperson of the Cannabis Control Board, and Christopher Alexander was secured as executive director of the new office of Cannabis Management.

Wright is a former Democratic assemblywoman who represented Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Alexander is government relations and policy manager at the Canada-based cannabis company, Vill, LLC.

Four more members still need to be named to the board by the governor and legislative leaders, which is responsible for awarding licenses to cannabis sellers in the state. The appointees do not need to be approved by lawmakers.

Hochul ordered the special session Tuesday with a thinly veiled swipe at her predecessor, disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying she wanted “to jumpstart the long-overdue decisions pertaining to establishing cannabis in the state of New York.”

Recreational cannabis was approved by Albany in the spring after being shelved by Cuomo amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

“These two individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their new roles, and I know they will do a tremendous job of outlining and implementing regulations that are safe, fair and transparent, and that recognize the need to remedy the impact that prohibition has had on communities of color,” the Democrat said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with them on building our state’s cannabis industry and effecting real change for New Yorkers.”

State Sen. Liz Krueger, who chairs the powerful state Senate Finance Committee and sponsored the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, said Hochul’s appointees to the cannabis board cleared her committee after being questioned.

New Jersey Cannabis Industry Rules Set by Regulators

New Jersey Cannabis Industry Rules Set by Regulators

New Jersey cannabis industry has had rules established by regulators

New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission has approved rules to set up the state’s recreational marijuana marketplace.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey‘s cannabis regulators on Thursday approved rules to set up the recreational marijuana marketplace, giving application priority to women-, minority- and disabled veteran-owned businesses and paving the way for sales to begin.

A timeline for when people 21 and older could head to a retailer to buy a marijuana cigarette, vape pen or edible wasn’t given, but chairperson Dianna Houenou said after the meeting that a date for when sales can begin hasn’t been set yet because the commission wants to be sure that the application process goes smoothly. She said the start date is “admittedly uncertain.”

“We know that there is a lot of interest in getting this market up and running and we were duty-bound to do it right,” she said in a separate statement.

The five-member commission, which was established under a February law, voted unanimously to approve the the 160-pages of regulations. The rules got expedited treatment under the law, sidestepping the usual public comment and response period.

Commission executive director Jeff Brown said a next step will be a notice that applications will be accepted.

The rules focus heavily on what commissioners called equity — a main driver of the legislation because of years of disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws against Black residents in particular.

Among the rules is priority for applications from companies owned by minorities, women and disabled veterans, as well as for those from poor areas and past marijuana-related criminal offenses.

Application fees were designed to be low to encourage small business owners, and not just major firms, from applying, with fees as low as $100. Annual licenses for microbusinesses — firms with 10 employees — will cost $1,000. Large businesses could pay up to $50,000 for an annual cultivator license.

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