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California offers $100 million to rescue struggling legal marijuana industry

California offers $100 million to rescue struggling legal marijuana industry

California legal marijuana industry is getting $100 million from government for support

The California Legislature on Monday approved a $100-million plan to bolster California’s legal marijuana industry, which continues to struggle to compete with the large illicit pot market nearly five years after voters approved sales for recreational use.

Los Angeles will be the biggest beneficiary of the money, which was proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to be provided as grants to cities and counties to help cannabis businesses transition from provisional to regular licenses.

“California voters approved Proposition 64 five years ago and entrusted the Legislature with creating a legal, well-regulated cannabis market,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. “We have yet to reach that goal.”

Many legal marijuana growers, retailers and manufacturers have struggled to make the transition from a provisional, temporary license to a permanent one renewed on an annual basis — a process that requires a costly, complicated and time-consuming review of the negative environmental effects involved in a business and a plan for reducing those harms.

As a result, about 82% of the state’s cannabis licensees still held provisional licenses as of April, according to the governor’s office.

The funds, including $22 million earmarked for L.A., would help cities hire experts and staff to assist legal marijuana businesses in completing the environmental studies and transitioning the licenses to “help legitimate businesses succeed,” Ting said.

The grant program is endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said in a letter to legislators that the money is “essential in supporting a well-regulated, equitable, and sustainable cannabis market.”

Separately, the governor wants to give legal marijuana businesses a six-month extension beyond a Jan. 1 deadline to transition from provisional licenses by complying with mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act. That extension, which faces opposition for delaying promised environmental safeguards, was not included in the state budget bill approved Monday and is still being negotiated with lawmakers.

The governor’s proposal to extend provisional licenses has drawn objections from a coalition of seven environmental groups including Sierra Club California, Defenders of Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy.

They said in a letter to Newsom that the proposal allowing the extension of provisional licenses and interim alternatives to CEQA rules goes against what voters were promised and is “wholly inadequate to protect local communities and the environment.”

 
Nevada Governor Signs Multiple Marijuana Reform Bills

Nevada Governor Signs Multiple Marijuana Reform Bills

nevada governor passed more cannabis reform bills last week

Carson City, NV: Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed multiple marijuana reform bills into law.

On Monday, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 341. The new law, which takes effect on October 1, 2021, provides regulations for the establishment of on-site “cannabis consumption lounges” for those ages 21 and older. Regulators must still determine the specific types of cannabis products that are “appropriate for consumption” in the facilities.

Alaska and Colorado have previously enacted legislation explicitly permitting social consumption sites for cannabis, and New York’s nascent adult-use law also regulates on-site facilities. Similar legislation is currently pending in California.

Late last week, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 400 into law. It amends the state’s traffic safety statutes so that the operation of a motor vehicle with trace amounts of either THC or its metabolite is no longer a per se violation of law. The new law takes effect on October 1, 2021.

Under the state’s existing traffic safety laws, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with low levels of either THC or the 11-hydroxy-THC metabolites in one’s blood or urine, even absent any further evidence of psychomotor impairment. The revised measure eliminates the application of those limits in certain circumstances.

NORML has consistently opposed the imposition of THC per se limits, opining that such thresholds are not evidence-based and that they may lead to the criminal prosecution of people who consumed cannabis several days previously but are no longer under its influence.

Also on Friday, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 158, which revises first-time penalties imposed upon minors who possess small quantities of cannabis. It reduces existing penalties — which include up to six-months in jail and a $1,000 fine — to community service. The measure also requires courts to automatically seal records for these offenses if the offender completes the term of their sentence. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2021.

Cannabis growing facility proposed for former New York prison

Cannabis growing facility proposed for former New York prison

A New York prison that closed in 2011 may be repurposed for cannabis and hemp production.

When Mid-Hudson Correctional Facility closed in 2011, it freed up 740 acres of prime property that its host community, Warwick, readily bought for $3.1 million.

During the past decade, the town has actively worked to repurpose the property and has seen positive results from its efforts. With Covid-19 fading and the state reopening, business is again percolating on the former prison property, now known as Wickham Woodlands.

Along with a new Warwick Valley Office and Technology Corporate Park on the campus, where the town’s business accelerator is working with three-startup companies, business is growing along its winding State School Road: a former administration building has become the trendy Drowned Lands Brewery; the prison’s old guard tower is now the gateway to Hudson Sports Complex; and the land surrounding Wickham Lake, which inmates could view from behind barbed wire fencing, has been turned into a town park.

The Warwick Valley’s fertile landscape also offers ample opportunities for those who grow hemp and its soon-to-be-street legal counterpart, marijuana, and is seeing that business beginning to boom within Wickham Woods’ borders.

When the United States eased federal regulations on growing hemp in 2018, the floodgates of products produced from hemp’s byproduct, cannabidiol — better known to the public as CBD — started hitting the shelves.

Medical marijuana has been legal since 2016, and the state also relaxed its regulations for CBD-infused food and beverages. In April, 2021, the New York state Legislature approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, which has opened a whole new revenue stream for cultivators.

Those measures have propelled Wickham Woods into the spotlight for those with a vested interest in both legal hemp/cannabis cultivation and CBD production.

Chicago-based Fiorello Pharmaceuticals/Green Thumb Industries is poised to build a 100,000-square-foot cannabis growing and processing facility on 40 acres in the technology park.

The company received approval in May from the Orange County Industrial Development Agency for subsidies that include a sales and tax use exemption, mortgage recording tax exemption and a 15-year payment in lieu of taxes, as well as approval for the issuance of taxable revenue bonds.

Biden’s proposed budget keeps a block on recreational weed sales in Washington, DC

Biden’s proposed budget keeps a block on recreational weed sales in Washington, DC

A rider that has effectively blocked recreational cannabis for years in Washington, DC appears in President Joe Biden’s proposed 2022 budget, which may keep weed on the back burner yet again.

Even though residents of DC voted to legalize possession of recreational marijuana in 2014, the measure has been in limbo since then, derailed by a rider to DC’s appropriations bill first introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), that prohibits the District from spending its local funds on commercialization of recreational cannabis, such as dispensaries. And Biden’s proposed 2022 budget includes the rider’s language yet again.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said in a statement she was having a hard time reconciling the Biden administration’s support for DC statehood with its budget that would prevent DC from commercializing recreational cannabis. “With Democrats controlling the White House, House and Senate, we have the best opportunity in over a decade to enact a D.C. appropriations bill that does not contain any anti-home-rule riders,” Norton said.

Asked if the president plans to remove the language from the proposed budget, a Biden administration official said in an email to The Verge that the president “continues to strongly support DC statehood, under which the people of DC could make policy choices just like other states.”

DC has long had a so-called “gray market” for marijuana, with medical cannabis legal, and recreational cannabis technically legal, but unable to be taxed or regulated because of the Harris rider. DC voters first approved medical marijuana in 1998, but it too was initially blocked, by the Barr Amendment, legislation that Congress finally overturned in 2009.

Biden, once a leading voice in the “War on Drugs” of the 1980s and ’90s, said during the 2020 presidential campaign that it was “time to decriminalize” marijuana use, but so far during his administration there’s been little action to do so at the federal level. Dozens of US states have legalized medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both, and public opinion supporting legal weed is at an all-time high. And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), have said they would work together to advance comprehensive cannabis reform.

In February, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed legislation “to create an equitable adult-use cannabis program” in DC, which would impose a 17 percent tax on cannabis sales. But it’s unlikely to take effect if the rider remains in Biden’s proposed 2022 budget.

Another Big Beverage Maker Is Getting Into Cannabis

Another Big Beverage Maker Is Getting Into Cannabis

boston beer company potentially making cannabis infused drinks

When Constellation Brands announced it was investing in pot producer Canopy Growth back in 2017, it marked a major turning point for the industry, with outsiders beginning to show a lot more interest in cannabis. Since then, Molson Coors has gotten involved in the development of cannabis-infused beverages, as has Anheuser-Busch. With the volume of beer sales declining by 2.9% last year, the industry could benefit from more growth opportunities, so it may not be surprising if companies turn to a hot new sector like cannabis.

One more big name that is starting to explore cannabis is The Boston Beer Company(NYSE:SAM). Last month, management announced it would be dipping its toes into the industry and begin researching nonalcoholic beverages. Is a move into cannabis drinks inevitable for Boston Beer, and if so, does that make the stock a must-buy?

Is Boston Beer going to start developing cannabis-infused beverages?

On May 14, Boston Beer announced that it was going to set up a subsidiary that would be a “research and innovation hub” for cannabis beverages in Canada (where pot is legal federally). The company did not offer a date as to when it might sell the beverages, but that’s understandably hard to estimate right now given the federal ban on cannabis in the U.S. And while management is researching cannabis beverages north of the border, they haven’t given any indication of plans to sell them there.

The focus appears to be on the U.S. market. CEO Dave Burwick stated in the release that the company “[wants] to be ready for future opportunities in the U.S.”

Boston Beer is simply focusing on innovating the next wave of products and making sure that it is ready to go when the federal government legalizes marijuana in the U.S. Although more states are legalizing pot (New York, New Mexico, and Virginia are among the latest to pass legislation), it’s unclear when pot will be legal federally; President Joe Biden has only gone so far as to talk about decriminalizing pot, not outright legalization.

Many potential partners out there

While Boston Beer is going to create a subsidiary, it’s possible that it could also join forces with a cannabis company to expedite the process. Many cannabis producers would likely be eager to partner up with the top beer maker.

In the past, Aurora Cannabis was looking for a deal and was even rumored to be in talks with Coca-Cola. Sundial Growers, which is sitting on lots of cash, presents another option — management there could be looking to make a big move to bolster their sales numbers. And those are just some of the bigger names out there; Boston Beer wouldn’t have a problem finding potential suitors to work with if it went that route.

 

Why cannabis looks to be a great fit for the company

Boston Beer has been growing phenomenally over the years; sales of $906 million in 2016 grew to nearly double that in 2020, reaching $1.7 billion. In its most recent quarter, for the period ending March 27, the company has still done incredibly well.

It posted sales of $545 million ,which were up 65% year over year due to a 60% increase in shipments. Boston Beer’s willingness to change and adapt to consumer trends have led to this fantastic growth. The most recent example is hard seltzer products; its Truly brand has captured more than 28% of the market, according to the company’s latest results.

Legal cannabis sales rose $17.5 billion during pandemic

Legal cannabis sales rose $17.5 billion during pandemic

cannabis sales rose over 17 billion dollars in 2020

Shortly after Nevada officials announced that licensed cannabis stores and medical dispensaries could reopen after lockdown, Nicolas MacLean said cars were lined up for five blocks waiting for curbside pickup.

Like many industries in Las Vegas, the cannabis industry used to rely on tourists for sales, but that changed when the pandemic hit, MacLean, who serves as the CEO of Las Vegas-based cannabis producer Aether Gardens, told The New York Times.

“Locals are very discerning – they want something they aren’t going to find on the black market,” MacLean said. “Especially when you are stuck at home.”

The year of 2020 saw extraordinarily strong sales of legal cannabis in the US, up 46% from 2019 to a record $17.5 billion (R245 billion), according to cannabinoid market research firm BDSA.

“I expect this will be the first year Nevada does over a billion in cannabis sales,” MacLean said. “And it happened on the back of what I think no one expected.”

In western Massachusetts, where recreational cannabis use is legal, Meg Sanders, CEO of Canna Provisions, said government restrictions and later social-distancing requirements forced her to radically change her sales strategy.

At first, only medical dispensaries were allowed to remain open, while recreational-use retailers were forced to close.

“To have liquor stores deemed essential and not adult-use cannabis – especially when the law passed in Massachusetts was about regulating cannabis like alcohol – was surprising and unfortunate,” Sanders told The Times.

As Canna Provisions was allowed to re-open, the shop’s particular boutique-style in-person shopping experience had to change in favour of over-the-phone preorders.

“Our county is an internet desert,” she explained.

Now when customers call, they speak with a salesperson who can answer their questions and walk them through the available topicals, edibles, and smokables – a method, she said, is “working” for business.

“In our Lee store, preorders have become almost 100 percent of our business, so we bought more handsets and hired more people to answer the phones, and our revenue is up,” she said.

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