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Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association launches

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association launches

The Mississippi medical marijuana association launched this week

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.”

Illinois cannabis tax revenue nearly surpasses alcohol

Illinois cannabis tax revenue nearly surpasses alcohol

Illinois cannabis taxes

The nearly $23 million in revenue was just a few million less than what the sale of alcohol brought in last month.

Amid skyrocketing demand for legal weed in Illinois, statewide tax receipts from recreational pot sales are now rivaling those from booze.

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).

On pot sales, the state charges a 6.25% sales tax and an excise tax of up to 25%, depending on the amount of mind-altering THC in what’s being sold.

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.

Arizona Recreational Cannabis Marijuana Regulations Draft Released

Arizona Recreational Cannabis Marijuana Regulations Draft Released

Arizona recreational cannabis regulation drafts have been released

One month after Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use, regulators have already put forward draft regulations to implement the program.

They’re working on a tight schedule to develop rules for the recreational cannabis market, as the measure stipulates that license applications must be accepted starting January 19. But industry stakeholders are optimistic that they will be able to accomplish that given experience in the existing medical marijuana program.

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.

Samuel Richard, executive director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association, told Marijuana Moment that medical cannabis operators have an “open and collaborative” relationship with regulators and they expect that the department will be receptive to their input.

“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.

The Future of Legal Cannabis in Florida

The Future of Legal Cannabis in Florida

legal cannabis in Florida

The passing of the MORE Act in the House has gotten Floridians talking about their future.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to decriminalize marijuana. Most Democrats supported the bill that would enact that change. Most Republicans did not. The bill is unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.

Was Congress’ historic vote an early sign of momentum to legalize marijuana across the United States? Or is was it a low-stakes move on a splashy issue that’s unlikely to go anywhere?

Florida is home to plenty who are interested in the answer.

“We talk all the time on the right about the need to empower people and empower states,” U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said in an impassioned speech on the House floor in support of the bill, the MORE Act. “Right now, the federal policy on cannabis constrains our people. It limits our states.”

Gaetz, who helped author Florida’s very first medical marijuana program as a state representative in 2014, was one of just five Republicans to support the bill. Another Florida Republican, Brian Mast, R-Palm City, also voted for the measure. Mast’s office did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

In addition to essentially legalizing marijuana at the federal level, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act establishes a federal tax on cannabis products. That tax money would be set aside in a trust fund for people and businesses that have been affected by the federal war on drugs. A 2020 study by the American Civil Liberties Union showed that Black Americans are nearly four times more likely than white Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite using the drug at a similar rate.

The MORE Act, if signed into law, would also start a formal process for expunging federal marijuana convictions. People serving federal sentences for cannabis-related crimes would get review hearings.

It’s unclear how many Floridians are in federal prison for marijuana-related crimes. But FBI data showed that in 2018, 40 percent of all state and local drug arrests were for marijuana-related offenses. More than 90 percent of those arrests were for possession, according to the Pew Research Center.

How Oklahoma Became the Nation’s Hottest Weed Market

How Oklahoma Became the Nation’s Hottest Weed Market

How oklahoma became the largest cannabis market in the country

Oklahoma entered the world of legal cannabis late, but its hands-off approach launched a boom and a new nickname: ‘Toke-lahoma.’

WELLSTON, Oklahoma—One day in the early fall of 2018, while scrutinizing the finances of his thriving Colorado garden supply business, Chip Baker noticed a curious development: transportation costs had spiked fivefold. The surge, he quickly determined, was due to huge shipments of cultivation supplies—potting soil, grow lights, dehumidifiers, fertilizer, water filters—to Oklahoma.

Baker, who has been growing weed since he was 13 in Georgia, has cultivated crops in some of the world’s most notorious marijuana hotspots, from the forests of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle to the lake region of Switzerland to the mountains of Colorado. Oklahoma was not exactly on his radar. So one weekend in October, Baker and his wife Jessica decided to take a drive to see where all their products were ending up.

Voters in the staunchly conservative state had just four months earlier authorized a medical marijuana program and sales were just beginning. The Bakers immediately saw the potential for the fledgling market. With no limits on marijuana business licenses, scant restrictions on who can obtain a medical card, and cheap land, energy and building materials, they believed Oklahoma could become a free-market weed utopia and they wanted in.
Within two weeks, they found a house to rent in Broken Bow and by February had secured a lease on an empty Oklahoma City strip mall. Eventually they purchased a 110-acre plot of land down a red dirt road about 40 miles northeast of Oklahoma City that had previously been a breeding ground for fighting cocks and started growing high-grade strains of cannabis with names like Purple Punch, Cookies and Cream and Miracle Alien.“This is exactly like Humboldt County was in the late 90s,” Baker says, as a trio of workers chop down marijuana plants that survived a recent ice storm. “The effect this is going to have on the cannabis nation is going to be incredible.”Oklahoma is now the biggest medical marijuana market in the country on a per capita basis. More than 360,000 Oklahomans—nearly 10 percent of the state’s population—have acquired medical marijuana cards over the last two years. By comparison, New Mexico has the country’s second most popular program, with about 5 percent of state residents obtaining medical cards. Last month, sales since 2018 surpassed $1 billion.
To meet that demand, Oklahoma has more than 9,000 licensed marijuana businesses, including nearly 2,000 dispensaries and almost 6,000 grow operations. In comparison, Colorado—the country’s oldest recreational marijuana market, with a population almost 50 percent larger than Oklahoma—has barely half as many licensed dispensaries and less than 20 percent as many grow operations. In Ardmore, a town of 25,000 in the oil patch near the Texas border, there are 36 licensed dispensaries—roughly one for every 700 residents. In neighboring Wilson (pop. 1,695), state officials have issued 32 cultivation licenses, meaning about one out of 50 residents can legally grow weed.
United Nations votes to reschedule cannabis in historic vote

United Nations votes to reschedule cannabis in historic vote

UN cannabis vote to list as medicine

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on Wednesday accepted a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

The historic vote in Vienna could have far-reaching implications for the global medical cannabis industry, ranging from regulatory oversight to scientific research into the plant and its use as a medicine.

The eagerly awaited approval of Recommendation 5.1 had a slim majority in favor with 27 votes for, one abstention and 25 votes against.

The CND – the main drug policymaking body within the United Nations – turned down all five remaining recommendations.

The passage of Recommendation 5.1 carries broad symbolic significance for medical cannabis, as it could help boost medical cannabis legalization efforts around the globe now that the CND tacitly acknowledges the medical utility of the drug.

“The medical cannabis wave has accelerated in recent years already, but this will give it another boost,” Martin Jelsma, drugs and democracy program director at the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute, told Marijuana Business Daily.

“And for those countries that basically mirror the U.N. scheduling in their domestic legislation, it may lead to national descheduling and remove obstacles to use cannabis for medical and research purposes.”

The vote could encourage countries to reevaluate how cannabis is classified on their own lists of narcotic drugs, potentially paving the way for more research into medical marijuana and its use as a treatment for a variety of ailments and conditions.

“While the move doesn’t totally free the plant from treaty control, it’s a giant step toward the normalization of cannabis in medicine above all but also in our societies generally,” independent researcher Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli of CND Monitor told MJBizDaily.

“Decades of efforts have been necessary to remove cannabis from Schedule IV, with implications that will slowly but surely be seen over the next decades.”

Drugs in Schedule IV of the 1961 treaty – where, until Wednesday, cannabis sat alongside heroin – are a subset of those already in Schedule I.

Schedule I – which includes fentanyl – already requires the highest levels of international control.

The schedules of the international drug-control conventions categorize drugs considering their medical utility versus the possible harm they could cause.

Only the 53 current member states of the CND had an opportunity to vote, but the decision applies to all signatories of the international drug control conventions.

What should not be expected is a loosening of international controls governing medical cannabis.

 

Read the rest of the story from Marijuana Business Daily

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