WeedWeek edition / March 30, 2020
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1 WEED’S “ESSENTIAL” MOMENT

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The coronavirus crisis could mark a turning point in how mainstream society regards cannabis, Politico writes:

"Nearly all of the 33 states with legal medical or recreational markets have classified marijuana businesses as an essential service, allowing them to remain open even as vast swaths of the retail economy are shuttered. San Francisco and Denver initially announced plans to shut down dispensaries, but immediately backpedaled after a public furor.

Weed shops are essentially being treated the same as pharmacies, reflecting a dramatic shift in cultural perceptions about the drug over the last decade."

The most notable exception is Massachusetts, where legalization skeptic Gov. Charlie Baker (R) decided REC shops were not essential, but MED and liquor stores are.
Boston Globe

  • MED card issuers have seen more business, Boston Globe reporter Daniel Adams noted in his newsletter.
  • The Chicago Sun-Times looks at how REC went from illegal to essential in three months.

Congress hasn't noticed. In Wikileaf, Matt Laslo writes cannabiz got "screwed" by the record $2.2 Trillion federal stimulus package, which essentially gives the industry nothing.

A survey confirms that so far people aren't cutting back their spending on cannabis and other intoxicants.
Bloomberg

  • Public Service Announcement: There is no evidence that anything in cannabis prevents Covid-19 or mitigates its symptoms. Some public health authorities suggest smoking or vaping may weaken the lungs and make a severe illness more likely.
    Axios
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2 CANNABIZ DIGS IN FOR CRISIS

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Cannabis may now be essential, but the business isn't getting any easier. After a huge spike following mid-March's initial shelter in place orders, cannabis sales have fallen.
MJBiz

Quick Hit

  1. While he's not overseeing the country's worst Covid-19 caseload, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apparently still wants to legalize REC this spring.
    Marijuana Moment

3 CALI. SUPPLY CHAIN FUNCTIONAL, FOR NOW

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In this week's exclusive, WeedWeek business columnist Dan Mitchell finds California manufacturers and farms are largely able to maintain operations, even as the financial forecast gets cloudy:

Flow Kana (a WeedWeek advertiser) has reconfigured its workspaces to distance its lab workers, packagers, inventory managers, office staff, and others. It has installed hand-sanitizing stations throughout its facilities and issues gloves and handwipes to drivers and outside salespeople. While he said that cannabis being declared an “essential” business in California has been “a bit of a silver lining,” [Vice President of business development Adam]Steinberg’s under no illusion that the industry will be unscathed.

He noted in particular that capital markets, already closing to the industry before the virus, might become even more stagnant if the economy struggles. There are “active discussions” going on about future financing and investment, but “we’re day-to-day at the moment.”

Flow Kana is among the cannabis industry’s most successful private fundraisers. It has raised a total of $175M, with $125M of that coming last year.

Read the whole thing.

Quick Hit

  1. 🌴Donny Alexander has lots more on conditions in the Golden State in the WeedWeek California newsletter.

4 POWER PLAYERS: HEADSET’S JOCELYN SHELTRAW

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This week I spoke to Jocelyn Sheltraw, head of strategy at data firm Headset. From her vantage point at the center of data from 24 point of sale systems, Sheltraw can see changes in consumption patterns faster than just about anyone. And that's never been more important than right now. We talked about why women are hoarding more, why this may be the moment for cannabis-infused beverages and whether state supply chains can hold up.

A few highlights:

On the data:

"Depending on when the shelter in place went to effect, we would sometimes see these big spikes and then it would even out. For example, Colorado deemed cannabis essential. But Denver didn’t and then it  reversed the decision about six hours later. During that time period people were rushing out to make sure that they could get all those products. And then once the state had gone into that shelter in place, we started to see some of the after effects, it started to even out."

On shifting consumption patterns:

"The strongest growth was in the, the beverage and edibles categories, [possibly] because you don't have to touch your face when you're consuming them, they're not shareable items."

On consumer buying patterns:

"We're starting to see this pairing of cannabis beverages and pre-rolls in that same basket."

Read the whole thing.

5 CORPORATE FALLOUT CONTINUES

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Phoenix-based MSO Harvest Health and Recreation and Verano Holdings have mutually terminated their plans for a merger, originally valued at $850M.
MJBiz

The current crisis made it impossible for the necessary (unspecified) agencies to clear the deal Verano CEO George Archos said. The companies also cited adverse market conditions.

Meanwhile, web portal Leafly laid off 91 employees representing 39% of its staff. Leafly previously cut 54 roles in January.
Business Insider

https://twitter.com/badlin/status/1242140587710533633

Quick Hit

  1. Investing site Equity Guru called edibles-maker Plus Products "the least bullshitty cannabis company on the planet."
This week on the podcast
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6 WEED GIVES BACK

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Many cannabis businesses are contributing to coronavirus relief and mitigation efforts.

Green Entrepreneur:

"Safety items such as masks, protective gowns, gloves, and other personal protection equipment (PPE) used by cannabis growers and budtenders are being donated to health workers and hospitals. In addition, extractors who engineer cannabis concentrates have been making hand sanitizer with ethanol in order to help reduce the hand sanitizer shortage."

7 FEDS SEEK TO STANDARDIZE THC DOSE

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal agency, is requesting public input on whether to establish an amount for a standard dose of THC.
Marijuana Moment

  • While it acknowledged variables which may make the concept less reliable than a standard dose of alcohol, the agency says "such a unit is critical for conducting rigorous cannabis research.
  • Five mg appears to be the early favorite.
  • Comments can be submitted here.

Quick Hit

  1. Anti-pot writer Alex Berenson appeared on Laura Ingraham's Fox News show to correlations between cannabis use and Covid-19 occurence. 

8 A COMMERCIAL FOR OUR TIMES

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Hard hit Nevada REC retailer Thrive Cannabis Marketplace put together one of the more compelling weed commercials I've seen. Check out the pot spot here.

 

9 MARGE SIMPSON: BUDTENDER

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In "Highway to Well" an episode that "could have gone much worse," Marge Simpson got a job at a dispensary.
A.V. Club

  • The too long review says it could have been a lot squarer. "As things turn out, legalized pot is just another new development in American society that reveals the characters, in a more or less satisfying manner."

Here's an Herb round-up of the 10 best cannabis moments in Simpsons history.

 

10 QUESTION OF THE WEEK: BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME

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Last week for our question of the week we asked how the coronavirus crisis would change the industry. You were all too busy out there changing it and we didn't get any responses.

This week, we'll try for something more upbeat. What are you excited about in cannabis right now? We'll publish some of the most interesting responses.

To tell us, Reply to this email, or write to us hello@weedweek.net. Please include your name, location and affiliation. We'll honor requests for anonymity. Responses may be edited for length and clarity.