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House Committee Clears Banking Bill

Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee advanced a cannabis banking bill by a 45-15 vote, with supporters in both parties and the banking industry. The Democrat-controlled House is expected to pass the bill within weeks, though it remains unclear whether it will pass the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate.
Reuters, AP

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New Jersey REC Deal Collapses

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Stringer/ Getty Images
N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy

New Jersey legislators cancelled a REC vote after a much-touted deal between legislators and Gov. Phil Murphy failed to attract enough votes, despite Democrats controlling all sides. Onlookers argued whether it was a minor setback or major defeat for REC in the Garden State.
Asbury Park-Press

N.Y. Times:

Some lawmakers were unsure about how to tax marijuana sales. Others feared legalization would flood the state’s congested streets and highways with impaired drivers. Some would not be deterred from believing that marijuana was a dangerous menace to public health.

A disagreement existed among lawmakers about how far to go regarding the social justice component in the legalization bill: Fissures grew over whether it was necessary to expunge criminal records for marijuana-related offenses for those found with as much as five pounds of the drug.

Gov. Phil Murphy, a legalization supporter, told the legislature to hammer out a REC bill that can pass by May or he’ll turn his focus to expanding the state’s MED program.

  • "Today is not a hard no. It's a little bit of a setback. It's a not yet," Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake, (D) said.
  • Democratic opponent Ron Rice called for decriminalization rather than legalization and said it would pass easily.

Meanwhile in New York, it’s all but certain the state will miss Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Q1 deadline for legalizing REC.

The N.Y. Times reports on a $25,000 per couple dinner with Cuomo attended by Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Chicago cannabis company Cresco Labs.

  • The US Attorney for Western New York (state) James P. Kennedy Jr. called for a pause on legalization. "I think we owe it to ourselves and future generations to slow down and proceed with great caution," he wrote. "Otherwise, we may find ourselves in a place at which the only question left to ask is — how in the world did we end up here?"
    Buffalo News

A REC bill advanced in the Connecticut legislature.
Hartford Courant

Quick Hits

  1. Following the Boston Globe’s investigation, Massachusetts regulators are investigating whether Seahunter Therapeutics (part of Tilt Holdings) and Acreage Holdings violated retail license limits. Both companies have denied wrongdoing.
  2. Acreage awarded former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney 280,000 shares of stock to join its board. That’s $5.779M at Friday’s close of $20.64/share. Mulroney opposed cannabis reform while in office.

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Pamela Hadfield
Co-Founder, HelloMD HelloMD: The largest online community of health and wellness cannabis consumers
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Spencer Vodnoy
CEO, Critical Mind Inc. Adelanto, CA Affiliations: CA State Bar; Board Member, Adelanto Growers Association
Critical Mind, Inc. is a Medical Cannabis Cultivation and Manufacturing Facility located in Adelanto, CA. Providing the highest quality Cannabis products. Compliance without Compromise!


L.A. May Step in to Support Licensed Shops

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said the city is contemplating a multi-million dollar crackdown on the city’s hundreds of unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services. Spokespeople for the legal industry applauded the idea.

Quick Hit

  1. Leafly asks if Black people can get rich from cannabis.

CNBC: MedMen Under Pressure

Retail chain MedMen was at risk of running out of money within months before it secured a credit line from Gotham Green Partners which could be worth up to $250M, CNBC reports. Though the terms are steep for the company which has seen its stock fall 60% since October.

During the last six months of 2018, MedMen lost $131 million — more than $2 for every dollar in marijuana it sold. To cover those losses and fund its expansion plans, MedMen raised almost $200 million from September through November. That money is already gone. At year-end, MedMen had around $80 million in the bank. That is four months of cash, based on how quickly it lost money last fall.

In its most recent financial report, issued on Feb. 27, it warned: “At our current operating level, we will not have sufficient funds generated from operations to cover our short-term and long-term operational needs.”

Anti-legalization reporter Alex Berenson wrote the CNBC piece.

Quick Hits

  1. Actor Seth Rogan is launching cannabis brand Houseplant in partnership with Canadian giant Canopy.
  2. The massive money management firm Blackrock has become the largest institutional investor in multi-state operator Curaleaf.
    BNN Bloomberg
  3. Arizona-based Hypur Ventures is launching a $500M cannabis and hemp investment fund.
  4. High Times published its list of the 100 most influential people in cannabis.
  5. Canna Law Blog has a dispatch from the Spannabis conference (now owned by High Times) in Barcelona.

Molson-Coors: Fear the Green

Sunset for beer?

Molson-Coors, the second largest beer maker in North America, warned that the cannabis industry could erode its profits. Last October, the company formed a joint venture with Canadian company Hexo to develop cannabis-infused beverages for sale in Canada as soon as they’re legal, which could be as soon as this fall.
MJ Biz Daily

  • Canadian beer makers are worried as well due to high beer taxes and prices.

Quick Hit

  1. London (U.K.) psychiatrist David Nutt, who has said alcohol is more dangerous than crack, is developing a synthetic alcohol substitute called alcarelle which he claims will deliver the buzz but not the hangover or toxicity.

Analysts: CBD Market is Ready to Boom

A new report from the Brightfield Group predicts the European CBD market is on the verge of phenomenal growth. And Wall Street firm Cowen predicts the same for the US.
Rolling Stone, Business Insider


White House Warns on Imaginary Fentanyl-laced Weed

President Trump’s opioid crisis czar, Kellyanne Conway, who lacks relevant experience in public health, addiction and related fields, is spreading an urban myth about pot laced with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.


“It's crazy that this story is coming out from our leaders,” epidemiologist Dan Ciccarone of the University of California, San Francisco, told BuzzFeed News. “It shows that concerns about fentanyl have reached the level of moral panic. Fear outweighs rational evidence. There is scant evidence for cannabis laced with fentanyl.”

As a source for Conway, the White House cited Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, who had made the claim in 2018, based on unconfirmed reports.

Quick Hits

  1. A new study suggests cannabis use during pregnancy could slightly increase the risk of psychosis in the unborn.
    Washington University
  2. Self looks at the science of cannabis and sex.
  3. More oldsters are turning to MED, with newsman and cancer patient Tom Brokaw its latest advocate. 🌴For more see WeedWeek California.
    AP, N.Y. Pos

Certified Kosher, Not Organic

Cannabis can’t be certified organic, since the federal government controls what constitutes “organic.” But a number of third party certifications have popped up.

  • The best known, according to Circa, is one called Clean Green Certified, but it’s hard to tell whether it carries any weight with customers. "I’m in the industry, and it doesn't mean anything to me," said Steve Howard of Oregon infused beverage company Mirth Provisions. "From a farming practice standpoint, I would much rather trust a federal agency that has literally a century of developing safe agricultural products."
  • One central valley California farmer has worked for years with a rabbi to have his cannabis certified kosher, but again, customers may not care.

Quick Hit


Coming Soon: Big ‘Shroom

Quartz takes a long look at the business practices of Compass Pathways, a U.K.-firm investigating psychedelics for medical use.


VW Busses Now Pricey, Allegedly Cool

The new craze in SoCal’s collectible car culture is refurbished VW busses, eternally associated with hippies in the 1960s and 1970s. A turning point in the van’s fortunes came in 2011 when a ’63 23-Window Deluxe went for $198,000 thousand at auction after an Orange County bidding war.
L.A. Times

Most fascinating is how hippies embraced the rust-prone, uncomfortable busses in the first place:

Volkswagen tried to pitch it as a family-friendly option for Eisenhower’s America, with little success: A 1958 ad positioned the Bus as “full of sun, full of fun Station Wagon … roomy as can be — and carefree.”

The Bus’ domestic fortune changed forever in 1959, when Volkswagen hired the Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) ad agency (rumored to have served as the inspiration for AMC drama “Mad Men”) to revamp the company’s image in the United States. DDB emphasized the Bus’ customizability to a generation about to reject conformity.

“You’re too sharp and too much of an individual to be suckered by mass-marketed images,” read one Volkswagen ad. “We just supply you the canvas, stripped bare of any pretense, and it’s up to you to put your identity into it.”

In “The Consumption of Cool,” Thomas Frank wrote with admiration that Volkswagen’s transformation of itself to “an image that was more hip than Nazi must be regarded as one of the great triumphs of American marketing.”

Read it all.

Quick Hit

  1. Aster Farms, a Lake County, Calif. grower hit hard by wildfires, is raising money with a pre-roll named for their cat, Harry, who was lost in the fires.
    S.F. Weekly

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