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California cannabis farmers markets? New bill would make it possible

California cannabis farmers markets? New bill would make it possible

California cannabis farmers markets could become a thing

It is not secret that small cannabis farms in California have had a rough few years. A new bill aims to help them out.

A new bill introduced into the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on Tuesday (4/26/22) would allow small scale cannabis farmers to sell their products at farmers markets in California. Introduced by Assembly member Jim Wood, he has seen the issues that small cannabis operations have dealt with and wants to give them a hand.

“It is no secret that cannabis businesses throughout the state are struggling, whether it’s taxes, compliance costs, competing with the illicit market or other challenges, but the focus of AB 2691 is to help legal cannabis farmers who grow less than 1 acre of cannabis get consumer recognition for their unique products, much as has been done for craft beer, artisanal wine and other family farm agricultural products. Giving these smaller farmers opportunities at locally approved events to expose the public to their products increases consumer choice and offers farmers a better chance to reach retail shelves which is their ultimate goal. This is not about circumventing retailers, but growing the industry overall. My office has always been open to those who may have concerns about this bill and I’m here to listen to their concerns and their proposed solutions.”

The Origins Council, a cannabis advocacy organization that represents historic, rural, cannabis-producing regions across California has expressed their support for the bill. Genine Coleman and the group’s 900 or so members have fought consistently for the rights and protections of small, local farms that have been in operation in the state for decades.

“The vast majority of them are producing half an acre or less of cannabis, so this is definitely a huge potential opportunity for our membership,” Coleman said. “For small-scale producers to have direct marketing and sales opportunities with consumers is really critical.”

However not everybody is on board with the new arrangement. The Executive Director of the Davis Farmers Market Alliance, Randi MacNear, says what she oversees is a “food business”. Even if the new bill passes, she says it is unlikely anything will change at their market.

“We really are interested in selling food, so at this point, cannabis is not a food,” MacNear said. “We’re trying to increase our local farmers. We’re trying to get new, emerging Yolo County farmers in here and give them a space to sell, so I think that probably we would stick with that concentration.”

MacNear did add that the decision ultimately comes down to the Davis City Council.

“I’m sure you’ll see some of this product at other markets but not here in Davis,” MacNear said.

Assembly Bill 2691 is now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it must pass before entering the full Assembly followed by the Senate. If approved by all of the above, the bill goes to the governor’s desk for signing.

Supporters argue that the main purpose of this bill is to help small farmers who don’t have the same access channels to consumers as larger competition have the opportunity to grow their customer base and their brand at the local level.

Oklahoma cannabis legalization may be on November ballot

Oklahoma cannabis legalization may be on November ballot

Oklahoma cannabis legalization petition getting signatures

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has approved plans for Oklahoma cannabis legalization to move forward in the state. The plan’s organizers can now begin collecting signatures.

There are currently two separate proposals for Oklahoma cannabis legalization, and both would need to gather enough signatures to end up on the ballot this November.

The approved plans, State Question 819 and State Question 818, would make an amendment to the state’s Constitution to protect the right of residents age 21 and older to use cannabis.

SQ 818, known as the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Enforcement and Anti-Corruption Act, would expand the state’s medical cannabis program. It would establish a new state agency known as the Oklahoma State Cannabis Commission (OSCC).

This agency would replace the current Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) and oversee the entire cannabis industry including hemp.

This bill replaces the excise tax on medical cannabis with a 7% retail tax. Revenue would be used to support cannabis research, rural impact and urban waste remediation, agriculture development, mental health response programs, substance misuse treatment and more.

SQ 819, otherwise known as the Oklahoma Marijuana Regulation and Right to Use Act, would legalize possession of up to eight ounces of cannabis for anyone over the age of 21.

Adults could purchase cannabis from a retail store, or grow up to 12 plants for personal use. Any home grower is legally allowed to possess however much they harvest from their 12 plants.

Recreational cannabis sales would be taxed at 15%. A number of state initiatives would receive a portion of the tax funds collected from Oklahoma cannabis legalization. These include water-related infrastructure, disability assistance, substance misuse treatment, law enforcement training, cannabis research and more.

Lastly, SQ 819 would open up pathways for resentencing and expungements for those with prior and current cannabis convictions.

If passed, Oklahoma would become the 19th state in the US to legalize cannabis recreationally. In order to make it onto the ballot, supporters are going to need to gather about 178,000 signatures in the next 90 days.

Despite being on of the reddest states in the country, Oklahoma cannabis legalization isn’t a very far fetched idea for the state. In fact, nearly 10% of Oklahoma’s 4 million residents have qualified a medical cannabis card, the highest in the country.

“Whether we’ll get on the November ballot this year remains to be seen,” said Jed Green, a longtime Oklahoma cannabis activist behind the plans. “We’re going to push, push and push to get it done, and hopefully we do, but … we’ll get our signatures.”

A separate adult-use proposal, State Question 820, already has been cleared by the high court and because it would only amend state statute, requires only about 95,000 signatures. Supporters of that plan can begin gathering signatures on May 3.

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis dispensaries

When Glen Youngkin was elected Governor of Virginia after a heated race in 2021, many cannabis advocates began to question the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. Despite legalizing cannabis for recreational use earlier in the year, the state has yet to get the industry rolling in any real way.

It isn’t uncommon for a state to take more than a year or two to establish their regulatory framework and begin adult-use sales. However in Virginia’s case, cannabis was legalized by a Democrat governor, who was soon replaced by a Republican.

Youngkin holds a different view on cannabis compared to his predecessor, and now those views have begun impacting the future prospects of a recreational cannabis industry in Virginia.

On April 7, 2021, Virginia became the first state in the South to begin the process of legalizing adult-use cannabis. HB2312 (Herring) and SB1406 (Ebbin; Lucas), introduced by Governor Northam and passed by the 2021 General Assembly, lay out a three year process to legalize cannabis and create a regulatory framework for the sale of the product.

However while a recent General Assembly session saw lawmakers increase accessibility for medical cannabis patients, it failed to expedite Virginia recreational cannabis sales, and added new penalties for cannabis possession. So what happened?

The original bill as previously mentioned included a three-year timeline to implement regulations and framework for a recreational cannabis industry. The latest General Assembly session was voting on whether to shorten this timeframe, which would have expedited retail cannabis sales to this September.

However with the latest amendments to the original bills, it is unlikely that a Virginia recreational cannabis industry will be open by the original 2024 deadline.

Lobbyists influenced Virginia legislators into believing that it is safer for several large corporations to produce the products rather than having hundreds of small batch operations, according to Happy Trees co-founder Josiah Ickes. Happy Trees is a garden store supplying cannabis growers in the state.

“We have all these small breweries in Richmond,” Ickes said. “It would be kinda like if we said: ‘Oh, well look at all these small breweries, they need to go away because we don’t know if they’re creating safe beer.’”

Virginians will still be able to possess up to two ounces of cannabis flower for personal use without penalty. For comparison, in Colorado where cannabis has been legal since 2012, consumers are only allowed one ounce in their possession at a time.

Those who aren’t waiting for a legal cannabis industry to open up also have the option to grow their own cannabis. With the current framework and delay of a recreational industry, it is likely that a gift/donation industry will begin to develop in Virginia.

Coincidentally Virginia borders Washington, D.C., where cannabis is also legal but has no established industry. DC now has a thriving gift/donation industry where consumers will donate a certain amount in exchange for a gift (in the form of cannabis), creating a loophole where technically there isn’t a “sale” of cannabis happening.

There have been plenty of efforts to shut down this grey area industry, but efforts thus far have failed. With a successful market right next door, Virginians are likely to replicate these practices so people can still buy and sell their cannabis without technically breaking the law.

One of the positives to come out of the latest General Assembly meeting was regarding medical cannabis patients and their access to the products they need. Governor Youngkin recently signed new legislation which eliminated the requirement to register with the state Board of Pharmacy before being approved to purchase medical cannabis products.

Would be Virginia medical cannabis patients already have to get a referral from a medical provider in order to get access to cannabis. The latest amendment would appear to be simply removing an unnecessary step for patients.

When lawmakers originally approved the sale of low-concentration THC oil for medical patients in 2019, the Board of Pharmacy issued just 1,377 medical cannabis cards. That number grew to 7,135 in 2020, and ballooned to over 33,000 in 2021. The Board has issued over 10,000 cards from January to April 2022 already.

Brandy, a resident of Richmond, VA began smoking cannabis at age 15. Now 37, she grows plants in her home. Citizens can grow up to four plants legally per household.

Brandy has a state-approved prescription for cannabis to treat anxiety and bipolar disorder, but said she prefers growing cannabis as opposed to going to a dispensary, because it’s cheaper. Health insurance does not cover medical cannabis.

“In Virginia, it really sucks,” Brandy said. “You go in and they have the little half gram carts, and it’s $65.”

With a retail market still not established, Brandy said she prefers growing her own supply versus buying illegally from a dealer.

“This way I know exactly what goes in it,” Brandy said. “It’s all organic product, there isn’t chemicals in it.”

Currently there are only four state-licensed medical cannabis companies that can provide cannabis to patients in five health districts across Virginia. There are still several health districts that don’t have a single dispensary, making patients have to travel long distances to get their medicine.

Limited access, expensive pricing and the lack of a legal industry has put Virginia on a path that is leaving many unsure of the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. One can safely assume that there won’t a regulated, adult-use cannabis industry in the state until at least 2024.

However one can also expect to start seeing some semblance of an underground, grey market cannabis industry develop as consumers find ways to sell and purchase recreational cannabis without breaking the specific rules of the law.

First New York cannabis dispensaries to open on tribal land

First New York cannabis dispensaries to open on tribal land

New York cannabis dispensaries

The New York legal cannabis industry may be delayed by politicians and bureaucracy, but that isn’t stopping Native tribes from rolling out their own markets.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe based in Akwesasne will be the first to launch a regulated cannabis market in New York state. Beginning April 15, several Tribal businesses will open their doors to sell cannabis flower, edibles and other cannabis products to consumers.

The Tribe is able to do so thanks to their Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance. The ordinance states that adults 21 years old or older can transport, possess, and use up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.

Once New York legalized cannabis officially in 2020, the option to legalize the plant on tribal lands became more enticing. Not beholden to state laws and regulations regarding the plant, the Tribe was free to establish their own regulatory framework to permit sales and possession.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is also the first in the country to regulate and license tribal member-owned businesses for cannabis.

According to the Tribe, licensing fees collected from legal cannabis operations will be used to keep community members employed and fund a wide range of community services. Additionally the funds will help support educational scholarships, public safety, road maintenance, elder assistance, health care, and community organizations.

Tribal Chief Michael Conners said he believes the system will benefit the community while providing a safe product for consumers.

“We are confident that the hard work of the tribally licensed cannabis business owners will result in loyal customers from beyond Akwesasne,” Conners said. “We know that it took a while, but we are confident that our system is designed to provide quality product, in a regulated system, with Compliance oversight and a qualified Board of Managers to see that all regulations are followed for the safety of our community and consumers.”

Detroit to finally permit recreational cannabis sales

Detroit to finally permit recreational cannabis sales

Detroit cannabis sales to be allowed now.

Four years after legalization and following several months of hurdles, recreational cannabis will finally be available in Detroit soon.

Detroit’s City Council voted 8-1 on April 5 to allow the sale of adult-use cannabis to begin in the city. City Council president James Tate, a sponsor of the legislation, has said that the new ordinance will be equity-driven with a focus on assisting minority Detroiters to become business owners.

“This is providing the best opportunity possible for equity applicants and Legacy Detroiters to compete for these licenses,” Tate said recently at a public hearing on the ordinance. “For me, it’s important for us to strategically go in and identify how this industry can and should go in Detroit” instead of a more “shotgun” approach where whoever wants a license gets one.

This ordinance will have a major impact on the Michigan cannabis industry. Being the largest city in the state, Detroit has been missing out on millions in tax revenue that other cities have been collecting.

The state brought in nearly $250 million in tax revenue in 2021 without Detroit’s help. Over five million citizens live within the Detroit city limits, making up over half of the state’s entire population.

To say that recreational cannabis in Detroit will have an impact on the statewide industry would be a massive understatement.

According to Michael Elias, CEO of Michigan-based cannabis company Common Citizen, the passage of the adult-use ordinance is a “monumental win for Michigan’s largest city” and “will help create new job opportunities and contribute to the Motor City’s ongoing comeback.”

“This is a huge milestone for Detroiters and those in surrounding communities who have been seeking access to adult-use cannabis since voters approved recreational cannabis in 2018. At Common Citizen, we look forward to providing our safe, high-quality cannabis products to adult-use customers in addition to our patients at our Detroit location,” he added, in conversation with Benzinga.

New Mexico cannabis sales pass $4 Million in first weekend

New Mexico cannabis sales pass $4 Million in first weekend

New mexico cannabis sales brought in a lot of money

In its first weekend of adult-use recreational cannabis sales, New Mexico cannabis sales surpassed $4 million.

The brand new market broke $3 million on day one as dispensaries across the state opened their doors to customers for the first time. Over the next two days the industry would bring in a total of $4.5 million.

According to state officials, there have been 49,552 transactions for recreational cannabis as of 12 pm Sunday, totaling $3,092,712. During that same period, about $1,425,000 worth of medical cannabis was sold.

The first recreational cannabis transaction occurred at 12:01 a.m. in Las Cruces. Sales in the state’s largest city, Albuquerque, didn’t start till 10 a.m. By noon Friday, recreational sales had reached $476,000. About 70 percent of all cannabis sales Friday were for recreational use.

New Mexico cannabis sales for adult-use were signed into law by the state’s governor in April 2021. By December 2021 the state’s Cannabis Control Division began accepting applications with no limits on how many licenses would be given out.

Other states have taken similar approaches, like Oklahoma, which also didn’t put limits on licenses or plant counts for cultivators. While Oklahoma’s market is now oversaturated with cannabis products driving prices down, it is way too soon to say if New Mexico will face a similar issue.