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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.

Delta 8 THC Explained: The New THC?

Delta 8 THC Explained: The New THC?

Delta 8 THC vs Delta 9 THC

It’s Delta-9’s close relative, but why is it becoming so popular now?

If you’ve been in a head shop or a smoke circle recently, you might have heard about or even seen Delta 8 THC. This hemp-derived compound has been growing in popularity over the last year, but why?

In 2018, the federal government passed the Farm Bill which legalized hemp across the country. While classifying hemp as hemp is as simple as measuring the Delta 9 THC content and ensuring it is below .3%, Delta 8 THC is not the same thing, and therefore not included in that judgement.

In other words, as long as D9 THC is below .3%, D8 THC is irrelevant. With this loophole and discoveries of Delta 8’s effects, the race was on to start production of Delta 8 THC products.

Just like D9 THC, our knowledge about the effects and benefits of D8 THC are limited due to lack of research. For the most part, the resources for learning about Delta 8 THC come from first hand accounts of users.

What we do know about D8 THC is that it is chemically different from delta-9-THC by only a few atomic bonds, and according to the National Cancer Institute is defined as, “An analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.”

In other words, it sounds a lot like plain old Delta 9 THC. However the experiences noted by Delta 8 THC users reveal some slight differences.

Does Delta 8 THC get you high?

The short answer seems to be yes. Most descriptions of the Delta 8 THC high note that it is more mild or “lighter” than a traditional Delta 9 THC high. User have also said that the high feels almost identical to D9 THC but without the associated paranoia or anxiety many experience.

Other anecdotes note how it can take multiple hits of a D8 THC vape to get a similar effect to a Delta 9 THC vape of similar potency, and that the flavor differs, and not always in a good way. Granted, taste is typically associated with processing, especially when it comes to distillate cartridges.

The most popular form of consumption seems to be vaping and consuming D8 edibles like gummies. However just like CBD, you can also find Delta 8 THC flower and other extracts.

Is it worth it?

Anybody who lives in a state where cannabis is still illegal or only available medically, or anyone who does not want to risk their safety with an illicit market Delta 9 THC vape cartridge might find Delta 8 THC to be a very strong alternative.

For now, D8 THC is completely legal on the federal level and available in 38 states with multiple online retailers that ship nationwide. That’s a very appealing offer when the alternative isn’t available anywhere. There are no dangers currently associated with D8 THC consumption compared to D9 THC, and the high seems to be at least comparable.

However as with any unregulated “grey market” product, Delta 8 THC should be treated with more scrutiny and consumed carefully compared to its state-regulated cousin.

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.

UK Cannabis Cultivation License Granted for First Time in Over 20 Years

UK Cannabis Cultivation License Granted for First Time in Over 20 Years

UK Cannabis Cultivation license granted for first time in over 20 years

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.

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Lack of standards, dubious business practices threaten to upend cannabis testing industry

Lack of standards, dubious business practices threaten to upend cannabis testing industry

cannabis testing labs are suffering from issues.

A lack of standards is among the factors plaguing the cannabis testing industry, threatening to undermine consumer confidence in marijuana products and making it harder for some testing businesses to operate, according to industry insiders.

But the problems don’t stop there, testing lab officials and regulators contend.

Some marijuana businesses – such as growers, processors and manufacturers – are shopping around for labs that will give them the results they want to see in the way of THC potency and contaminants, according to industry officials.

Other cannabis businesses are said to be sending in samples of their marijuana that have been adulterated with spray-on cannabis oil or dusted with THC crystals to give the impression of a higher THC content, among other practices.

Regulators, meanwhile, are shuttering testing labs for allegedly reporting results that don’t match up with audits.

Earlier this month, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) suspended the license of Praxis Laboratory for allegedly falsifying testing data on more than 1,200 samples of cannabis by providing higher THC numbers than tests actually found.

As it stands now, the Centralia, Washington-based lab is suspended for 180 days effective Dec. 10. While the lab is shuttered, state regulators will seek to permanently revoke its license.

According to an LCB release, “during the investigation the lab owner attempted to destroy evidence of falsified data in an effort to obstruct (the agency’s) ability to conduct a complete investigation.”

Praxis said in a statement to Marijuana Business Daily that the LCB’s decision was “in error and based on inaccurate information.” The lab is appealing the ruling.

In a separate statement to the Washington state cannabis community that was shared on social media, the company said, “This is a clear cut case of agency overreach and libel and we will be pursuing legal action immediately.”

The statement also noted that a disgruntled former employee stole data from the lab, then contacted the regulators.

Regulators elsewhere have shuttered cannabis labs for inaccurate or misleading test results.

In September 2019, the Nevada Tax Commission launched an investigation into marijuana testing labs in the state.

In February 2020, state regulators suspended the license of Certified Ag Labs and fined the business $70,000 for what was described as “inaccurate and misleading” potency in cannabis products that boosted THC levels by as much as 10%.

The lab was allowed to reopen.

A Certified Ag representative told MJBizDaily the company “had some bumps, but our data was plus or minus 10% and we stand behind it.”

Lab shopping

The practice of lab shopping – where cannabis growers or product makers look for a facility that will provide favorable results – has almost put Keystone State Testing out of business, said Dr. Kelly Greenland, CEO of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based marijuana testing lab.

“We have clients who test with us and never come back because their numbers are higher elsewhere,” she said.

In addition to higher potency levels, some cannabis businesses also seek favorable results for contaminants, including microbials and heavy metals.

“There are a few labs out there saying, ‘Tell me what you want it to say, and I’ll put it on the label,’” Greenland said.

Pennsylvania’s regulations are adequate, she said, but they’re not being enforced.

“If you want to make sure this market is safe, you need to have safe regulations and you need to have your enforcement enforce the regulations that you’ve made,” Greenland said.

Testing labs promising quick turnaround times – less than 48 hours, for example – might be cutting corners. Greenland said it’s normal for a lab to take up to 72 hours to return results.

Growers and processors don’t have to try that hard to find good testing labs, according to Greenland.

But she added that often it doesn’t make good business sense to play by the rules, “as messed up as this sounds.”

Montana Recreational Cannabis Officially Legal

Montana Recreational Cannabis Officially Legal

Montana legal cannabis became official on New Years day 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.

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