WeedWeek edition / July 22, 2019
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Coming next week for our fourth anniversary: The Careers Issue!

Donny and Alex will be at NCIA’s conference in San Jose this week. If you see us, say hi.

This week on the podcast
A Very Canadian Pot Scandal with Jesse Staniforth

1 ROLLING STONE: CANNABIS REFORM NEEDS THESE THREE GOP SENATORS

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Despite majority support for REC legalization, changing federal cannabis law depends on convincing three key GOP senators: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Mike Crapo (Id.), Rolling Stone reports.

  • While conservative Senators seem more open to legalization than even in 2017, Democratic lobbyist Saphira Galoob says “We are still in a situation where the temperature within the Republican Party conference — within the leadership — is not yet signaling that it’s OK.”
  • Graham and Crapo are heads of the judiciary and banking committees respectively, the most likely committees to advance standalone cannabis legislation.
  • The banking committee will debate bank access this week.
  • Crapo is from Idaho, one of only three states which doesn't allow CBD for medical use. Idaho has the country's second largest Mormon population. The church has staked out a limited pro-MED position but is strongly opposed to REC. (Crapo is a member of the church.)
  • Graham has a C rating from NORML.
  • McConnell fought to legalize hemp, a boon for Kentucky farmers, but has said he will not consider rescheduling cannabis. Some legalization activists think he might go along with a bill which also helps the hemp industry.
  • Last week I asked if McConnell's buddy, speaker of the house turned cannabis lobbyist John Boehner is good for the weed business.

States including FloridaNew Jersey and Arizona could vote on REC on Election Day in 2020.
Miami Herald, NorthJersey.com, AZCentral

Need to to register to vote or confirm your registration status? Check here

 

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2 NEW CANNABIS VENTURES: $2 BILLION AWAITING INVESTMENT

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New Cannabis Ventures' Alan Brochstein writes $2 Billion in capital is awaiting deployment into the cannabis sector and "investors are writing blank checks."

Massachusetts-based Curaleaf Holdings said it would acquire Grassroots cannabis for $875M. Acquiring the Chicago-based company will enable Curaleaf to gain a coveted place in the Illinois market.
Chicago Tribune

  • According to Barron's, the combined company will be the world's largest marijuana seller with $250M in 2018 revenue.
  • The combined company's holdings include 68 dispensaries across 19 states and licenses for 63 more.
  • The deal is expected to take a year to close.

Separately, private equity firms Cresco Capital Partners and Trivergance are taking over the influential investment network ArcView Group following their lead on a $7.7M investment in Arcview.
MJBiz Daily

  • Since 2010Arcview says it has helped raise $260M for 212 cannabis companies.
  • Arcview CEO Troy Dayton will remain in the post for now. “I’m a good enough CEO to have gotten us to this point. But I am also confident enough to say I am not the right person to take us to a $200 million company. (For that), we need to bring in the big guns.”

Quick Hits

  1. Philadelphia's University of Sciences says it's launching the first cannabis-focussed MBA program.
  2. Also in the Philly Inquirer, reporter Sam Wood explains Pennsylvania's investigation into multi-state operator Harvest, which is also under investigation in Ohio.
  3. Bloomberg reports the world's largest asset manager, BlackRock, is "likely" to start a cannabis exchange-traded fund.

3 EAZE LOWERS SALES FORECAST

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California delivery service Eaze sharply reduced its sales projections for 2020 according to documents obtained by MarketWatch. It anticipates selling $412M in cannabis next year.

The company had previously predicted it would sell $1 Billion in 2020.

  • Eaze is trying to raise $50M at a fully diluted pre-money valuation of between $350M and $400M, according to MarketWatch.
  • Earlier this year Google banned Eaze and other delivery app's from its app store.
  • The company's losses have roughly tripled since 2017 when it was losing $1M a month.
 

4 CALIFORNIA STRUGGLING TO REGULATE CANNABIZ

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California presents regulators with a steep learning curve

An audit found California's Bureau of Cannabis Control is struggling to regulate the industry, with difficulties hiring staff and setting a strategy.

  • “The current status and location of personnel is not sustainable to provide effective and comprehensive oversight of cannabis activities throughout California,” according to auditors.
  • The agency disputes some of the findings.

🌴WeedWeek California has lots more on the tumultuous Golden State market including:

  • What to make of sizeable political contributions from the industry in Santa Barbara County, California's center of legal growing. (And County officials are overwhelmed by the industry.)
  • A rabbi opposes Lowell Herb Co's anticipated cannabis restaurant in West Ho.
  • And the state's first 420-friendly music festival

Quick Hits

  1. Business owners and residents, including some Scientologists, oppose cannabis businesses in the SoCal town of Commerce City, and the situation is tense.
    L.A. Times
  2. A former SoCal grower is on trial for kidnapping a MED business owner, cutting off his penis and leaving him for dead in the Mojave Desert.
    NBC

5 A HAND UP: MICHIGAN RELEASES EQUITY PLAN

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As part of its equity plan, Michigan will give discounts on licenses and application fees to qualified residents of 19 cities, including Detroit with above average poverty rates.
MLive

  • The state hopes half of the REC businesses in those cities will be owned by equity businesses, a wildly optimistic projection based on results in other jurisdictions.

More than 100 businesses and organizations urged Congress to include social equity provisions in national cannabis reform.
Marijuana Moment

  • See the full list here. By my count, multi-state plant touching businesses amount to fewer than five of the signers.

6 COLORADO PUZZLES OVER NEW INVESTMENT LAW

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Cannabis Wire reports on the regulators who are rewriting Colorado's laws to allow public companies to invest in state cannabis companies. A bill signed by Gov. Jared Polis (D) mandates the change.

  • Contentious issues include mandatory divestiture by "owners and investors who are deemed bad actors."
  • Folowing Nevada's law to disclose cannabis investors, there is also debate over who Colorado should identify publicly.

Utah dropped an out of state residency requirement for MED licenses.
MJ Biz

Quick Hits

  1. Cannabis operators want more sophisticated insurance policy options.
    Insurance Journal
  2. A program in Oregon seeks to reduce tensions between cannabis growers and other farmers.
  3. Washington state offered a workaround following a problematic release of track and trace software from MJ Freeway, now called Akerna.
    MJ Biz

7 MUCH ADO ABOUT HEMP (AND CBD)

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The FDA's acting Chief Information Officer said it will accelerate it's work determining regulations for CBD. The agency's public comment period ends tomorrow. Submit your comment here.
MarketWatch

The question of how to govern CBD is sowing confusion in states:

But business can't wait:

The Evening Standard compares the lives of two sisters with epilepsy. Chelsea Leyland could access CBD because she lives in New York and her sister, Tamsin can't because she lives in the U.K.

 

8 CANNABIS USE TIED TO COGNITIVE PROBLEMS, MEMORY LOSS

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A study found recent cannabis users may be more likely to suffer cognitive deficits and memory loss a study found.
Reuters

  • The results may have the most serious implications for MED users who consume large amounts of cannabis daily.

9 FORMER FLORIDA SMUGGLERS TALK POT FOR PROFIT

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The Miami Herald talks to former pot smugglers, now in their sixties, who are making money regaling audiences with their decades-old tales of derring do.

  • "They’ve become TV consultants, authors, documentary film subjects and sought-after speakers. In places like the Florida Keys, the once-untold stories of mother ships, midnight beach landings and radar sabotage are now the subject of sold-out historical talks over dinner."
  • One popular story involves the smuggler who transported bales of pot in an altered school bus. He "bought one, stripped the seats out, swiped a license plate from another bus at a nearby school, piled up the pot bales so they reached just below the windows and sallied forth. One more ingredient went into the plan: He drove that bus in a full bus driver’s uniform — “with a wig and the whole g-----n thing.”

10 VIKINGS MAY HAVE BROUGHT CANNABIS TO CANADA

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The discovery of cannabis pollen near a Viking settlement in Newfoundland suggests the ancient warriors may have brought cannabis to Canada.

  • Indigenous people may have also been responsible for it.

For tons of more recent news from the great white north, check out the new issue of 🍁WeedWeek Canada.

Quick Hit

  1. Post Malone is unveiled hemp pre-roll brand Shaboink in partnership with Sherbinkis, whose mastermind recently appeared on the WeedWeek podcast.
    Hollywood Reporter