WeedWeek
A note from our editor

Welcome to the new WeedWeek!

When I started writing WeedWeek in 2015, sales were about to begin in Oregon, the third REC state, and it was possible to pack all of the week’s developments into a single email. This redesign and expansion reflects that as the cannabis industry grows in wealth, reach and influence, a single email is no longer sufficient.

Not that we want to overwhelm you. Whether you’re a cannabis executive or a curious on-looker, WeedWeek aims to be the essential publication for following the green rush. And we want to keep you up to date without wasting your time.

In addition to Jesse Staniforth’s WeedWeek Canada, today we’re launching WeedWeek California, by Donnell Alexander. Throughout the week, Donnell, Jesse and I will be posting original reporting and analysis on a gorgeous new WeedWeek site, which we’ll unveil within days.

Doesn’t this newsletter look great? All credit goes to Marquee and their Proof publishing platform, which us writers have barely begun to explore. We’re gonna have some fun with it.

WeedWeek advertisers will never have any influence on WeedWeek’s editorial content, but we’re proud to offer them some of the most attractive native advertising and other promotional opportunities in cannabis media. Plus, there will be swag, events, and lots more. To learn more write to partnerships@weedweek.net

The green rush is a captivating story, touching on the great themes of the human experience. We’ll be watching with arched eyebrows, goofy grins and sometimes both at once.

— Alex Halperin

PS If you’ll be at MJBiz Con in Las Vegas this week, we hope you’ll help us celebrate our expansion with a party produced by Arcane Revelry. Sign up for the guest list here.

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Business
   

Finally, Annual Retail Licenses!

The state Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) issued its first 12 annual retail licenses. In California’s regulatory maelstrom, the arrival of annual licenses is arguably the milestone cannabis business owners wanted most.

  • Since the beginning of 2018, state regulators have issued retailers temporary 120-day licenses, with extensions available.
  • Annual licensing also marks the beginning of California’s track-and-trace program.
  • Temporary licenses are scheduled to cease at the close of the year. More than 1,200 have been issued.
  • On account of California's current regulations, Los Angeles grower and dispensary owner Bryant Mitchell said, "I've had buddies crying, that I've never seen cry. They've lost their businesses." (WeedWeek Podcast)

The L.A. licensing logjam is dragging on law-abiding businesses as they struggle to compete against unlicensed shops. For many, 2018 started with hope and is ending in fear. (MJBiz, Curbed)

  • Businesses hope the beginning of annual licenses will accelerate the licensing process in the world's biggest market.
  • Blame for the city's explosion of illegal dispensaries is falling at the feet of municipal officials.

Dispensary Game Change

Planet 13 in Las Vegas is to your neighborhood dispensary as is the Oakland Coliseum is to your local hardtop playground. The world's largest dispensary, a 112,000 square-foot megastore opened on November 1. (CNBC)

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  • More than a million dollars went into special effects alone.
  • The space includes a 15,000 square foot, 24-hour dispensary, 3-D projections, and trip-worthy activities like laser graffiti.
  • When it opened last year, the Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace outside Vegas, claimed to be the world's largest cannabis dispensary.

Quick Hits

  1. Terra Tech Corp reported a 33% decline in sales in the third quarter, blaming short term losses on growth investments. Days later the company announced a merger with Toronto’s Golden Leaf in a deal worth approximately $125M. (New Cannabis Ventures, MJBiz)
  2. New Cannabis Ventures released its American Cannabis Index for tracking US pot stocks. Many of them trade in Canada.
  3. Indebted legacy brand High Times extended the investment period for its crowdsourced IPO. (NY Post)

New Podcast Episode

WeedWeek Podcast
48. Weed on Wall Street with Business Insider's Jeremy Berke

New York-based reporter Jeremy Berke joins Alex and Donnell to discuss how Wall Street banks are wading into the green rush. Plus, a few words on data firm Headset’s partnership with mainstream data juggernaut Nielsen and the accounting giant Deloitte.

Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud

Politics
   

Weed Wins at the Polls

Cannabis won ballot initiatives in smaller cities including towns which previously prohibited cannabis businesses.

In San Bernardino County, nine of 10 voting municipalities decided to allow and/or tax REC businesses. (Press-Enterprise) The near-sweep in conservative Southern California suggested the end is neigh for even the most deeply-rooted marijuana opposition here.

In other formerly resistant counties:

  • Fresno's Measure A, a plan to levy $10 million in cannabis business taxes, passed with 70% of the vote. It's the conservative city's first meaningful blow against its anti-pot resistance. (Fresno Bee)
  • Opponents continue to peddle the notion that dispensaries bring crime. “You can buy a dime bag of marijuana on Belmont (Avenue) right now for $3. How is this going to fix that?” asked Family Christian Assembly of God Pastor Eli Loera, a Fresno marijuana opponent.
  • Bakersfield is arguably more hostile to cannabis than any other mid-sized California city after it rejected two measures.
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Rohrabacher Goes Down

In Orange County, Democrat Harley Rouda narrowly defeated Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

  • Rohrabacher, assailed by progressives throughout his career, brought a number of marijuana reform bills to the Senate floor, but just one stuck: 2014's groundbreaking Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment, which lent protections to medical marijuana companies.
  • Renamed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, it prohibits using Department of Justice funds to crack down on state legal MED. It first passed in 2014 as part of an omnibus spending bill.
  • Three years later, Rohrabacher, Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Don Young (R-Ak.) co-founded Congress's Cannabis Caucus.
  • Polis was elected governor of Colorado this week.
  • Rohrabacher pioneered Congressional marijuana openness when he acknowledged MED use.

Newsom Elected Governor

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (D), the institutional face of Prop. 64, is now governor-elect:

“The war on marijuana has failed," Gov.-elect Newsom previously wrote to President Trump. "It did not, and will not, keep marijuana out of kids’ hands.”

Newsom was one of 21 pro-pot gubernatorial candidates running on Tuesday, the most in history.

Weed After Sessions

The industry celebrated the departure of pot-hating Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Quick Hit

Prepare to be sandwiched by by legal weed nations. Mexico is readying itself to legalize REC. (Guardian)

Culture
   

The Godfather... of Cannabis

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The latest celebrity to join the green rush is cinema great Francis Ford Coppola, who has been more celebrated for his wineries than his movies in recent decades.

Coppola told Forbes:

  • Like his award-winning wines, Coppola's cannabis offerings will be based in Sonoma County. Since legalization's onset, weed and wine have been hitting it off up north like wine gets it on with cheese. (ABC - local)
  • Coppola’s The Growers’ Series is a “cannabis lifestyle brand, created in partnership with Emerald Triangle growers, Humboldt Brothers.

Smoke Weed for Fun and Profit

If you have some spare time and a main job with a liberal vaping policy, Heavy Hitters has a gig for you: It’s called The Originals Ambassadors Program.

  • The L.A. company is searching for folks who will “attend high-profile events,” and of course document them on social media.
  • Those chosen will be paid $1,200 a month with another $500 in product product.
  • Applicants are asked to submit a one-minute video to YouTube, link to the clip while applying on the company website, post the video to Instagram with the hashtag #Heavy and have friends share it. Because brand content creation gigs don’t have to begin upon hiring.

Quick Hits

  1. USC’s Center for Health Journalism blog reminds us that, despite legalization, discussing marijuana in a medical context can be awkward.
  2. Over-harsh restrictions on personal growing took a hit this week. A San Bernardino court ruled that the Fontana Homegrown Challenge can no longer be impeded by local government. (Cannabis Now)