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Nevada cannabis lounges approved by state oversight board

Nevada cannabis lounges approved by state oversight board

Nevada cannabis consumption lounge licenses

Regulations for the licensing and operation of cannabis consumption lounges in Nevada received approval from the state’s oversight board Tuesday.

State lawmakers approved a bill authorizing cannabis consumption lounges in Nevada last year. The last several months have included 15 meetings among Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board members to determine the licensing process.

Two consumption lounge license-types will be issued. The first is for lounges that will be directly attached to a retail cannabis dispensary. The second is for independent, stand alone consumption lounges.

Anybody can apply for a Nevada cannabis consumption lounge license. However one person cannot hold a retail dispensary license and an independent consumption lounge license at the same time.

Only the owner of a licensed operational retail cannabis dispensary may be eligible to apply for a retail cannabis consumption lounge license. In other words, a consumption lounge attached to a dispensary will be owned by the owner of the dispensary.

The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board will hand out 20 licenses for independent consumption lounges, with 10 reserved for social equity applicants. To qualify as a social equity applicant, the applicant must be someone “who has been adversely affected by provisions of previous laws which criminalized activity relating to cannabis, as determined by the Board [. . .] Such adverse effects may include, without limitation, adverse effects on an owner or officer of the applicant.”

An independent cannabis consumption lounge would contract with a retail cannabis dispensary to supply cannabis for customers to consume on site.

If all 20 licenses are handed out by June 30, more will be issued as long as the amount of independent consumption licenses does not outnumber the amount of retail consumption lounges.

However a retail cannabis consumption lounge will not come cheap. The application alone requires a non-refundable application fee of $100,000.

An independent cannabis consumption license on the other hand will carry a $10,000 fee to apply. This fee can be reduced further for social equity applicants.

Currently there is no word on when or how the licenses will be scored and issued. Additionally there will still be several months ahead of developing and promulgating regulations for cannabis consumption lounges.

Local jurisdictions will also have the option to restrict cannabis consumption lounges from opening in their area.

The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board will be keeping those interested in Nevada cannabis consumption lounges up to date through a newsletter, which can be subscribed to on the government website.

Cannabis industry could be worth over $90 billion by 2026

Cannabis industry could be worth over $90 billion by 2026

cannabis industry market projects

When states began legalizing cannabis for recreational use following Colorado in 2012, the trend looked promising. Multiple states followed suit in the years to come, and as of 2022, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

In addition to adult-use cannabis, the majority of the country now has some form of medical cannabis laws on the books. The rapid growth of the industry has turned initial predictions for the industry’s revenue on their heads.

In 2017, those with insights into the industry and a pulse on the growth of the legal cannabis market predicted that the industry could bring in as much as $25 billion in revenue by 2025. A recent analysis by MarketsandMarkets found that cannabis industry revenue surpassed $20 billion in 2020. It also predicts that legal cannabis markets could be worth over $90 billion by 2026.

In other words, the industry has triple the growth potential as originally thought. This is a positive sign for those wanting to see the industry grow. It also shows the increasing acceptance of cannabis as a recreational product, and the changing perceptions surrounding cannabis consumers.

Concentrates are the main product sector that is seeing the most growth since 2020, and has the most projected growth through 2026. This includes edibles, tinctures, vape pens, cannabis extracts and other concentrated products.

What may come as a surprise is the finding that medical cannabis dominated the majority of cannabis revenue since 2020. However it does appear that the conductors of the analysis included CBD as a medical cannabis product.

CBD has exploded in popularity as a legal “health supplement” after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, i.e. cannabis with a THC percentage below .3%. Opposed to medical cannabis which requires a patient’s license and purchasing from a licensed dispensary, CBD can be obtained from a smoke shop or gas station in some cases.

Not to take away from the success of medical cannabis states, Oklahoma was the highest grossing cannabis market in the country in 2021, despite only having a medical cannabis program.

Overall, future growth of cannabis markets will be mostly seen in North America as Canadian and US markets continue to grow. Other factors such as an increase in recognition of medical benefits of cannabis and growing consumer demand for cannabis in disease management and treatment due to high health care costs are expected to drive the growth in the North American region.

As for hemp markets, the industry is projected to hit roughly $25 billion by 2025. The hemp industry was worth over $4.5 billion in 2019, just one year after hemp was federally legalized.

Thailand cannabis legalized for cultivation and trade

Thailand cannabis legalized for cultivation and trade

Thailand cannabis legalization

The government of Thailand has officially legalized cannabis cultivation and trade, along with removing cannabis from from its banned narcotics list.

However recreational use is still banned. Advocates say that the legalization acts more or less as decriminalization, so penalties should be less harsh, and less common.

Thailand is the first country in South-East Asia to legalize cannabis, going so far as to even give away one million cannabis seeds to citizens to encourage more people to start growing the plant.

“It is an opportunity for people and the state to earn income from marijuana and hemp,” said Anutin Charnvirakul, deputy prime minister and health minister.

Charnvirakul even said that restaurants could serve dishes with cannabis included as long as the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) content is less than .2% so consumers don’t get high. Starting today, households will be permitted to grow up to six plants if they register with authorities, and companies will be permitted to farm cannabis commercially with licensing.

Additionally, medical clinics across Thailand can more freely prescribe cannabis as a treatment. The country was also first in the region to legalize medical cannabis in 2018.

However despite the language of the law and the excitement around it, the “legalization” of cannabis in Thailand is more or less just the legalization of hemp. While hemp and cannabis are identical in structure and appearance, hemp is bred to contain less than .3% THC.

Since personal consumption recreationally is still banned, and public consumption can result in a fine or arrest, the only cannabis anybody is allowed to sell for profit will be hemp. But the country is still using the language of the new law to release some 4,000 prisoners whom were arrested on cannabis charges, including the psychoactive kind.

It appears that the current goal of the country is to take advantage of their new position and capture the untapped CBD market in Asia. CBD (Cannabidiol) is considered to be a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, otherwise known as a cannabinoid.

Is the FDA cracking down on Delta 8 THC?

Is the FDA cracking down on Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC gummies under scrutiny from FDA

The FDA recently issued warning letters to several companies for selling Delta 8 THC gummies and other Delta 8 THC products. Is a crackdown coming?

On May 4 of this year, the FDA issued five warning letters to Delta 8 THC retailers. It is not uncommon for the FDA to send warning letters to companies that could be making false medical claims about their products.

But this is the first time the FDA gas written warning letters specifically to Delta 8 THC companies.

The FDA has also released a consumer advisory warning on their official website regarding Delta 8 THC gummies and other Delta 8 THC products. In other words, D8 has been on the FDA’s radar for some time.

It is possible that more scrutiny could be coming down on the Delta 8 THC industry, which is mostly unregulated at the moment.

The FDA is approaching Delta 8 similarly to how they deal with CBD and other hemp products. The Farm Bill passed in 2018 legalized “industrial hemp” on the federal level. Under the ruling any cannabis plant that has lower than .3% THC on a dry weight basis is legal to possess, grow and sell across state lines.

The Farm Bill is responsible for the rapid expansion of the CBD industry, and D8 is a product made from CBD in most cases.

This association implies that Delta 8 THC should be legal as it comes from the hemp plant and CBD, both of which are legal. Despite the size of the CBD industry, it still lacks proper oversight from the FDA. What the FDA will do is devote a limited amount of agency resources to enforce against companies making medical claims about their products.

Legally, a CBD company can’t put any sort of medical benefits on the label or marketing for their products. This is because the FDA doesn’t recognize CBD as a medical supplement. They don’t recognize D8 either.

Delta 8 THC FDA Warning Letters

The five letter issued by the FDA went specifically to companies that were making “misleading claims” about medicinal benefits in D8 products. In their letters to the companies the FDA included the claims that were made. Here are a few examples:

  • “Delta-8 consumers report many of the same effects as THC, such as . . . relief from some symptoms such as pain . . .. Delta-8 can also help with insomnia.”
  • “Delta-8 THC Syrup from Kingdom Harvest is ideal for anybody experiencing a sleeping disorder or other ailments looking to be relieved.”
  • “If you have cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and migraines, Delta-8 THC can help alleviate the pain because it has immunosuppressant properties.”

According to the FDA, the presence of drug claims on the products technically classifies them as unapproved new drugs. Under the FDCA (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act), new drugs may not be introduced into interstate commerce without being approved by the FDA. Because the products were not approved, they are technically illegal under the FDCA.

So does this mean that D8 gummies are going away any time soon? Unlikely.

Misleading branding

Misleading branding is nothing new to the cannabis industry. The illicit market is flooded with knockoff D8 products that are imitating popular brands like Doritos, or making Delta 8 THC gummies that look like Haribo gummy bears. Because the market isn’t regulated, there is very little oversight to keep these products off the market.

While some big companies like Skittles have fought back against their likeness being used in Delta 8 THC products, most don’t even know that their likeness is being used. When a customer sees a name-brand logo on a pack of Delta 8 THC gummies, unsurprisingly they are more likely to think it is a legitimate product.

Additionally, no D8 products are approved by the FDA as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Due to this Delta 8 is not approved for use in human or animal products because the required safety data is lacking.

Because the ingredient in the products is not approved, any D8 product is technically “adulterated”, and cannot be sold over state lines. However anybody who has looked up Delta 8 THC gummies online was still probably able to have them shipped from a different state.

While it appears the FDA is beginning to look at D8 more closely, there is still no determining evaluation by the FDA deciding its true legality. Delta 8 THC may be a legal byproduct of industrial hemp, but adding it into food items and supplements is where the lines get blurry.

For this reason, one should always be extremely weary of any D8 product that makes a medical claim or markets the product to have specific benefits. There is no way to verify their claims, and they could be completely false.

The FDA is still devoting very limited resourced to enforcing rules against Delta 8 THC retailers. They have only sent out five letters, when there are thousands of Delta 8 THC gummies and other products being sold online across the country daily.

The longer it takes the FDA to reign in CBD and D8, the more out of control the market could become, making it too large to reign back in and increasing risk for consumers.

New Mexico cannabis sales hit nearly $40 million in first month

New Mexico cannabis sales hit nearly $40 million in first month

New Mexico cannabis sales revenue numbers

In its first month of recreational cannabis sales, New Mexico brought in nearly $40 million in revenue.

After launching its legal cannabis industry on April 1, the state made over $4 million in its opening weekend. Through the rest of the month, adult use sales across 40 cities in New Mexico sold $22 million worth of cannabis products.

The remaining $17 million was medical cannabis sales.

Medical cannabis sales are exempt from taxes unlike recreational sales, so there was no tax revenue generated from the $17 million in sales for the month. The majority of the state’s recreational sales were in Albuquerque, home to roughly 564,000 residents.

The city alone sold nearly $15 million in cannabis in April. The next highest revenue generated was in Las Cruces at only $2 million in adult use sales.

Las Cruces is also home to the state’s first licensed cannabis lounge where consumers can enjoy cannabis in a public setting.

New Mexico communities that border Texas also saw a fair amount of sales in the first month of adult use cannabis in the state. Hobbs and Sunland Park sold $1.7 and $1.4 million respectively, including medical and recreational cannabis sales.

An analysis from Sun-News found that Sunland Park had the third highest sales per capita, likely due to “cannabis tourism” from Texas and Mexico.

New Mexico cannabis sales are taxed at 12% for adult-use, plus additional taxes from local jurisdictions. Final tax revenue numbers won’t be announced until May 25, but with current data it is expected that the state will make about $2.6 million in tax revenue for the month.

Additionally, the 12% excise tax rate on adult-use cannabis sales is set to increase to 18% in 2025. This is still a lower tax rate than neighboring states Arizona and Colorado.

It is likely that the 4/20 holiday helped to boost recreational sales in the New Mexico’s first month. However the state’s director of the Cannabis Control Division, Kristen Thomson, is still satisfied with how the state performed and anticipates continued growth in the future.

“New Mexicans showed up on April 1 ready to support local businesses selling high-quality New Mexico products, and they’re still coming,” Thomson wrote.

“Thanks to hard work by the dedicated people working in the industry, supply easily met consumer and patient demand. New Mexicans have a lot to be proud of in the launch of this new industry, which is already adding value to the state’s diverse economy.”

The CCD has projected that the New Mexico cannabis industry will create up to 11,000 jobs statewide, with $300 million in sales and $50 million in tax revenue in its first year.

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting could be banned

The underground Connecticut cannabis gifting community could be in for some trouble is legislators in the state get their way.

In a 98-48 vote, the Connecticut House of Representatives pushed forward legislation that would fine anybody who host a cannabis gifting event up to thousands of dollars. During the session, others argued that legalizing cannabis in Connecticut at all was a mistake that should be reverted.

Suffice to say there is disagreement in the legislature about the future of the industry in Connecticut, and it is going to have an impact on the industry there.

As it currently stands, cannabis is legal to possess for adults in Connecticut. However recreational cultivation for personal use won’t be an option until July 2023, and there is no regulated industry to speak of in the state.

In other words, cannabis is legal. It just can’t be grown recreationally or bought anywhere unless you’re a licensed medical cannabis patient. This has predictably created an underground market for those looking to obtain cannabis for personal consumption without a medical card.

What is cannabis gifting?

Cannabis gifting is by no means a new practice. It also isn’t exclusive to just Connecticut.

For example Washington D.C. legalized cannabis in 2015, but still doesn’t have a regulated industry due to barriers put in place by politicians during the legislative process. Now there is a thriving cannabis gifting industry in DC, with small shops tucked away across the city. There you can pay $45 for a sticker and receive an eighth of cannabis as a “gift”.

The donation/gifting method acts as a loophole under most cannabis laws that prohibit the illicit sale of cannabis outside of a licenses retailer. By gifting cannabis instead, it technically isn’t being sold and can’t be prosecuted.

It isn’t difficult to see why politicians would not be in favor of such a practice.

But with the current laws and delays in Connecticut, it was inevitable.

Some legislators are shaping the new bill not as a total restriction on cannabis gifting, but just organized events according to Democrat Rep. Michael D’Agostino.

“For right now, these bazaars are a way around the regulated marketplace,” D’Agostino said. As co-chairman of the legislative General Law Committee, he stressed that the bill would not prohibit true gifting events in which friends or acquaintances exchange or give each other cannabis without commercial transactions.

The legislation was originally proposed in response to events like the High Bazaar. There more than 1,000 visitors paid $20 or so to enter a warehouse in an industrial zone, where dozens of vendor tables would display cannabis in various forms, exchanging cash or other items of value for cannabis products.

Under the bill, those who sponsor these large gifting parties could be fined $1,000 by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and as much as $1,000 by local officials. The legislation isn’t entirely bad however.

The legislation also includes provisions to end the annual fees required of patients in the medical-marijuana program, saving patients about $5 million a year starting July 1, 2023. It would also permit physicians to write medical cannabis prescriptions, which would save patients more money and time.

The law also includes provisions strictly limited billboard advertising for cannabis companies, and completely bans it for out of state brands. Lastly, current cannabis cultivators would be allowed to undertake two more joint ventures, and towns and cities that are willing to host cannabis businesses, can now decide which businesses and how many could locate to their area.

Overall the legislation would appear to have more good than bad, with the main negative being the impacts on large cannabis gifting events. Small gathering of friends gifting each other cannabis products will still be allowed without repercussion. Medical cannabis patients will have quicker and more affordable access to their medicine, and in-state retailers will no longer have to worry about out of state competition.