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Interstate cannabis commerce bill introduced in California

Interstate cannabis commerce bill introduced in California

California interstate cannabis commerce bill introduced

California has always been at the forefront of cannabis legalization. As one of the first states to legalize medical and recreational cannabis, other states looked to California for the outline of legal cannabis.

But despite its progressive policies regarding cannabis, California has not been able to develop and maintain a strong legal cannabis industry. This is for a wide range of reasons, from strict and expansive regulations to exorbitant application and licensing fees. Not to mention the massive illicit market that still operates within the state, in part due to the current barriers to entry into the legal market.

Some would argue that the solution to California’s cannabis industry woes is to simplify the application process, lessen the cost of licensing and give cultivators and retail owners the resources they need to stay within regulation. However the state is taking a different approach to profiting off an industry with an oversupply of cannabis.

SB1326 has been introduced to approve interstate commercial transactions for cannabis products. This means that if passed, California would be able to import and export cannabis products from other legal cannabis states. For example a state that recently legalized cannabis but does not yet have enough supply to meet demand could import products from California to fill the gaps.

If this bill sounds familiar, it may be because Oregon passed something similar in 2019. However since they were the only state with a law allowing export of cannabis, and no states have a law allowing imports, the law is basically moot.

The interstate cannabis commerce bill wouldn’t just be restricted to recreational cannabis either. California also has one of the country’s oldest medical cannabis programs and would be able to provide medical cannabis to neighboring states as well.

Even with the largest illicit market of cannabis production in the country, California’s legal recreational market is still oversupplied. The hope with SB 1326 is that some of that supply can be sent to other states to make the industry more profitable for those participating legally.

Critics of the bill have shown concern however over wording that could remove the opt-out clause currently in place in the state.

Most states with legal cannabis programs will have opt-out clauses that permit municipalities to opt-out of legal cannabis business in their localities. Those criticizing SB 1326 believe that the new bill will overshadow the opt-out clause, but lawmakers believe that it will actually give the municipalities more options than the opt-out clause itself provides.

The interstate cannabis commerce bill also places restrictions on who can enter the new market if it passes.

“The bill would prohibit an entity with a commercial cannabis license issued under the laws of another state from engaging in commercial cannabis activity within the boundaries of this state without a state license, or within a local jurisdiction without a license, permit, or other authorization issued by the local jurisdiction,” the bill’s text reads.

This line should reassure smaller towns and local businesses that multi-state operators won’t be able to just storm in and take over. And at this time, officials in the cannabis industry want to focus on leveling out the supply in California before they begin accepting any imports.

Illinois cannabis sales bring in billions, while leaving hundreds of license holders in limbo

Illinois cannabis sales bring in billions, while leaving hundreds of license holders in limbo

Illinois cannabis sales

 

It is easy to look at the massive profits of the Illinois legal cannabis industry and think it’s been a huge success. But to nearly 200 cannabis dispensary license holders who have been put on hold, the industry isn’t meeting the promises made when the state legalized.

Since legalizing cannabis sales for adult use in 2020, Illinois has brought in over $2 billion in revenue. However a major aspect that made the Illinois cannabis legalization bill stand out was its claims of social equity.

The bill included multiple stipulations that would help minority and disproportionately impacted communities get first dibs on licenses. In one sense, they came through on that promise.

However getting a license and opening a business are two separate things. And 185 dispensary license holders — including minority license holders — have been waiting to open their businesses for two years.

For others like Akele Parnell, an attorney on the board of Chicago’s NORML chapter, they were able to open a grow facility, but with no dispensary to shelve the finished product. This has led to financial struggles for many who don’t have the partnerships or financial backing to stay afloat while waiting to be approved to open their business.

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New Jersey prepares to launch recreational cannabis market

New Jersey prepares to launch recreational cannabis market

New Jersey recreational cannabis sales to start soon

New Jersey’s recreational cannabis market is gearing up to launch within weeks and is poised to become one of the largest on the East Coast with annual sales projected to top $2 billion within a few years.

The state is positioned to beat rival New York to the punch and to match, if not exceed, Massachusetts in annual adult-use sales.

But, like most new markets, industry officials are concerned about whether supply will be adequate to meet demand – at least in the early stages.

New Jersey’s adult-use market – approved by voters in November 2020 – is expected to launch with only a handful or so of the state’s existing medical cannabis operators.

The start of recreational marijuana sales also comes as social equity applicants are struggling to develop their business know-how, raise funds and secure real estate.

Existing medical marijuana operators might get as much as an 18-month head start on some new cannabis businesses, an industry expert said.

Missed deadline

The recreational marijuana law implementing the voter initiative called for sales to begin by Feb. 22, 2022, but the state ignored that deadline, saying it was too early.

Gov. Phil Murphy then hinted in late February that the market could launch “within weeks,” and state regulators indicated recently that they were nearly finished reviewing applications by five current MMJ operators.

Industry officials say that the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission could take up and approve those applications at its March 24 meeting, but it’s unclear how quickly sales would then be allowed to begin.

“We could have only five operators trying to meet the initial demand of the entire state,” said Rob DiPisa, co-chair of the cannabis law practice at Cole Schotz in New Jersey.

“It’s almost naive to think we aren’t going to run into some issues.”

While that’s been the case in other new adult-use markets as well, the New Jersey recreational marijuana law included provisions intended to prevent negative fallout for the state’s roughly 120,000 MMJ patients.

MJBizDaily projects that New Jersey recreational marijuana sales will ramp up from $625 million to $775 million in 2022 to more than $2 billion a year by 2025 or 2026.

Medical marijuana sales, meanwhile, are expected to peak by 2023 and then begin declining, as has been the trend in most adult-use states.

Popular soda brand Jones Soda unveils new cannabis infused drinks

Popular soda brand Jones Soda unveils new cannabis infused drinks

Jones Soda company releases new cannabis infused drinks

You may have seen their bottled sodas at your local grocery store. Now Jones Soda is dipping their feet into legal cannabis with a line of new products.

Mary Jones — the new brand from Jones Soda — will introduce cannabis-infused drinks, gummies and syrups to California consumers on April 1. According to the company’s marketing chief Bohb Blair, the company is hoping their recognizable branding will help them gain a chunk of the cannabis drink marketshare that is increasing constantly.

As a smaller, craft soda company, Jones Soda’s 2021 revenue was only .04% of what Coca-Cola pulled in, at just $14.8 million. However the company is using its smaller size to their advantage.

While larger companies like PepsiCo and Coke are hesitant to enter the cannabis drinks market due to federal legality, Jones is more willing to take the risk.

Blair believes that the company’s brand recognition as a quality, craft soda company will give them the edge over existing soda drinks. The current products on the market, according to Blair, are light on flavor and low on dosage. This leaves the door open for Mary Jones to capitalize.

“Health claims aren’t our equity, full flavor is,” Blair said. “We had some conversations early on: Should we be putting CBD in this? And no, it’s not who we are.”

The initial launch will include four different product lines: 12-ounce bottles of soda infused with 10 milligrams of cannabis; 16-ounce cans of soda infused with 100 milligrams of cannabis; syrup designed to mix with other drinks or on food with 1000 milligrams of cannabis per bottle; and gummies infused with five milligrams of cannabis, shaped like mini Jones Soda bottles.

While they are starting in California dispensaries only, Mary Jones already has plans to expand to every legal state in the country.

“We have been putting all of these pieces in place since we announced our intention to establish a cannabis division last July, and we fully expect the brand to deliver solid strategic growth for the company,” CEO Mark Murray said in a statement.

Because the new line of products will only be sold in dispensaries, Jones Soda isn’t worried about consumers mixing up the labels. To distinguish the new products from their traditional line, the Mary Jones branding is a different design, with THC dosages printed in large font.

As a publicly traded company, it is a bold move for Jones Soda to enter the cannabis-infused products market, However they aren’t the first.

Molson Coors, Anheuser-Busch and Boston Beer — the maker of Samuel Adams — have all started their foray into the legal cannabis industry. However there haven’t been any well-known soda companies that made the move, until now.

While still small and lesser known than the big names, Jones Soda has a name that is recognizable on grocery store shelves. As long as Mary Jones can utilize that recognition on dispensary shelves, the new line of products will likely bring a fresh take on cannabis-infused drinks to the market.

Connecticut tries to crack down on cannabis gifting

Connecticut tries to crack down on cannabis gifting

cannabis gifting to be banned in Connecticut

Hundreds of shoppers filtered through rows of vendors selling novelty art and clothing earlier this year at High Bazaar, a Hamden festival where a “gift” of a marijuana product often accompanied the items they purchased.

But the High Bazaar parties are on hold for now, after the town of Hamden claimed permitting violations. And while a hearing in that civil case is scheduled for later this week, the state legislature is considering a bill that would outlaw such “gifting.”

House Bill 5329 would impose up to a $10,000 fine and a year of jail time on violators. Supporters of the legislation said it would help keep sales in the market regulated, although some hemp and cannabis advocates were wary that it would re-criminalize marijuana.

The bill also includes provisions to cap the number of equity joint ventures for producers and to outlaw billboard advertising. Equity joint ventures allow partnerships between social equity applicants and other cannabis businesses.

“We appreciate that gifting will go on between people in the privacy of their homes,” said Rep. Mike D’Agostino, a Democrat who represents Hamden. “An event that’s organized, that rents space and is really a market just violates the entire intent of the statute that we put in place last year.”

D’Agostino chairs the General Law Committee, which heard public comments on the bill Tuesday.

Cannabis gifting is a practice that’s been used in Washington, D.C., where recreational marijuana sales aren’t allowed but possession of less than 2 ounces has been decriminalized. Vendors sell consumers a product such as a T-shirt, and a cannabis product is included as a gift.