Mountain High Suckers talks with CannabisTech.com



John Garrison, Mountain High Suckers’ co-founder and CEO, sat down with Genifer Murray of CannabisTech.com to talk about Mountain High Suckers’ history in cannabis and the secret to their success and longevity in the industry. Here are some highlights:

Forming partnerships across industries

Mountain High Suckers has formed partnerships both within and outside of the cannabis community over the years. Together with Groundswell and DJ Logic, they created an exclusive strain, Logic Diesel, and infused it into a sucker to create Logic Pops. Mountain High Suckers teamed up with comedian Josh Blue to create a line of suckers called Josh Blue’s Dream. Their most recent partnership with cyclist Floyd Landis brought them from the sweet to savory realm with a line of THC and CBD-infused sauces and spreads.

Why the 3:1 THC to CBD ratio?

“We came up with that ratio just out of trying not to put too much CBD in because no one knew what CBD was when we started doing this. So we came up with this formula, three-to-one, and over the years we have literally maybe a hundred testimonials of people calling up either crying or with an incredible story that his three-to-one ratio made all the difference in their lives, so we stuck with it and we still have it today.”

Which extraction process does Mountain High Suckers use?

“You get a lot more volume of extract [with butane], and it comes out cleaner. It’s more for smoking…where our stuff is not smokeable, it’s more like a Rick Simpson oil. [With ethanol] we leave some chlorophyll in there. We leave a little bit of wax in there. We try to leave as many cannabinoids as possible instead of stripping it down to where you have nothing left, and then you try to add in all the terpenes back in to come up with your beautiful smell to the product. But for medicinal purposes and all-around health benefits, everything about alcohol extraction is just a better product to have for edibles.”

How have John and Chad maintained a successful company and partnership together?

“I think a lot of it has to do with our background in rock climbing together. We were continuously watching out for each other’s lives. So, you know, when it moved into the business setting, which we had a painting company together, it was similar. We always watched out for each other. We could speak for each other.

We’ve known each other for 24 years, and I think communication is everything. We preach communication to all of our business partners. You don’t communicate, and I’m not going to do business with you. You know, it’s key to every single thing there is.

The other thing is we strive for the same things in our lives. We both are committed to recreation, so we don’t let our edibles company rule our lives. We still get out a lot. We cycle, hike, you know everything that we want to do, and we still manage to put a lot of hours into this business.”

I think the other thing that helps our company is that we’re not invested in by anybody else. It’s our own money, so we don’t have a board. It’s Chad and I at the table. If you want to do business, you talk to Chad and I.”

Where can you buy Mountain High Suckers, and what are your plans for future expansion?

“Right now, we’re in Colorado. We’ve been in Puerto Rico for about a year and a half. We’re signing a deal with Oklahoma, and then we have California on the back burner and New Mexico and Oregon.

“We are talking with some Canadians now and have been for quite a while. No deals go through quickly, and if they do, they probably aren’t a good thing.

Chad’s wife is from Thailand, so they were in Thailand last year, and they went to a cannabis convention. So we’re working on some international stuff.

We have a new CBD company that we just started called Mountain High Select. They’re available around the nation. That’s a CBD, CBG infused sucker.

Chad and I have been doing this for eleven years, so I’m not going to lie, I’m getting a little tired. We’re looking for an exit plan down the road. I think everybody is who has been in it this long. We’re still excited every day to come to work. We love our jobs, and we have great employees. We love what we do.”

What advice would you give someone just starting in the industry?

“Make sure that whatever you’re doing is a very wanted product, whether it’s a media product or it’s a live product, kind of cannabis grow, whatever you do, but don’t jump in without knowing. Get lawyers. One-hundred percent you’ve got to have lawyers.

The other thing is if people approach you and they want to invest, you have to vet them. You have to hang out. You have to go to lunch with them. You have to realize that if you do a deal, then you’re going to be working with them for three to five years. That’s a long time, so you want to be able to have them come over to your house for dinner. You have to really like the people that you work with. Even if there are problems. If you communicate, you can get through everything.”

Thanks to Genifer Murray and CannabisTech.com for a great conversation. See the full video here:

Colorado Marijuana Sales Break all Records in May



$192,175,937 worth of marijuana products were sold in May, according to the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. That’s about 11 percent higher than the previous sales record of $173.2 million that was set in August 2019.

Colorado cannabis sales were up 29% from April, and up 32% as compared to May 2019.

May medical marijuana sales amounted to $42,989,322, and recreational cannabis sales amounted to $149,186,615. Altogether, that amounts to more than $779 million in cannabis sold so far in 2020, equaling more than $167 million in state tax revenue.

So why were sales up so much during May? Roy Bingham, co-founder and executive chairman of BDS Analytics, said that people are spending more time at home, which may mean that they’re simply consuming more cannabis.

Everyone has perhaps become more used to consuming a little more,” Bingham said.

Plus, Coloradoans are buying more cannabis when they visit a dispensary, stocking up rather than making more frequent trips—a trend that started when Gov. Polis issued the stay-at-home order in March.

“It’s beginning to look like cannabis is anti-recession, or at least COVID-recession resistant,” Bingham said, adding Colorado has experienced “spectacular growth” this year.

State projections released in May predicted that marijuana tax revenue would decrease this year because of less tourism, more unemployment, and loss of wages from COVID-19. That hasn’t been the case so far in 2020, and sales numbers could increase during August, traditionally the biggest marijuana sales month of the year.

Colorado isn’t the only legal marijuana state that’s seen a jump in sales. Oregon cannabis sales are up nearly 60 percent from May 2019, surpassing $100 million for the first time since the legal sales began in 2015.

In Washington, sales are up nearly three times the rate in 2019, and up 8 percent compared to 2018.

 

New Law Allows Colorado Governor to Pardon Marijuana Convictions



Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill into law that will allow him to pardon marijuana convictions that occurred before the state legalized marijuana in 2012.

>House Bill 1424, passed by lawmakers on June 15, is aimed at increasing social equity in the cannabis industry. The bill allows Colorado residents who have been arrested or convicted of a marijuana offense, been subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana offense, or applicants living in economically disadvantaged areas toFor decades now, the Black community has been disproportionately criminalized because of marijuana while others have profited,” state Rep. James Coleman (D-Denver), one of the bill’s sponsors, toldThe Denver Post, “We have needed to act on this injustice for decades.”

A last-minute amendment to the bill gave the governor the ability to issue mass pardons for marijuana convictions of 2 ounces or less without approval from judges or district attorneys.

“There’s too many people that have a prior conviction for personal amounts of cannabis fully legal today that prevent them from getting loans, from getting leases, from raising capital, from getting licenses, from getting jobs, from getting mortgages, and that’s wrong,” Polis said during the bill signing. “We hope that this measure will be a first step for new opportunities for thousands of Coloradans who should not be living with a cloud over their head simply because they were a little bit ahead of their time.”

While the governor will have the ability to issue a mass pardon, the process isn’t automatic. People with marijuana convictions will still have to apply to clear their records.

While the new law is a step towards social equity in the cannabis industry, the Black Cannabis Equity Initiative and the Colorado Black Round Table urged Polis in a letter to immediately release low-level cannabis offenders and expunge their records.

This Pardon and Expungement are not the face of social equity in Colorado, however, they are important action steps in recognizing and acknowledging systemic and institutional racism as well as the past barriers and significant omissions in the evolution and history of the Colorado cannabis industry.”

The law will take effect in 90 days.

Our Broad Spectrum Hemp (CBD) Suckers: Shipping to You!



We had a hiccup with our payment processing, unfortunately still a problem in 2020, but our brand new broad spectrum hemp infused (CBD +more) suckers are back online and ready to be shipped to you!

These tasty products are hand made in Denver Colorado, USA from mostly non-GMO, organic, and Kosher ingredients and are available wherever CBD is legal.

Now for sale in the following flavors:

Blueberry

Our lusciously fruity broad spectrum hemp infused blueberry sucker will mellow you out with the flavor of sweetened, summer-ripe blueberries.

Watermelon

Our fabulously fresh broad spectrum hemp infused watermelon sucker will tantalize your taste buds with the flavor of sweet, summer-ripe watermelon.

Strawberry Banana (Straw-nana)

A lively combination of our sweet-tart strawberry sucker topped with pieces of banana and strawberry for multilayered fruit flavor. Stra-nana your way into a sweet high with our infused Strawberry Banana sucker.

Sour Lemon

Our sour lemon broad spectrum hemp infused sucker is tart and sour-sweet. Bright and bursting with the zesty flavor of sun-warmed citrus, this lightly medicated sweet will help you mellow out and unwind.

Grape

With a classically delicious fruity grape flavor, this broad spectrum hemp infused sucker is a royal plum purple treat. Be king or queen of the castle with these OG fan favorite grape suckers.

Tangerine

Add a little sunshine to your day with our refreshingly sweet and tangy citrus broad spectrum hemp infused tangerine sucker.

Why Buy From Mountain High?

Our infusion process allows for dual absorption, which means it’s absorbed through both your mouth (sublingual) and in your liver (gastrointestinal) for a more complete effect.

This product is also unique in that it offers a variety of the known cannabinoids rather than just CBD alone!

At Mountain High Select, our goal is to produce high quality infused products. We test every batch of oil to ensure accurate dosage. We proudly provide testing and Certificates of Analysis for all of our products.

Finally you can get your favorite infused lollipops delivered to your door from MountainHighSelect.com!

Marijuana Sales During Coronavirus Pandemic Uneven in Legal States



Cannabis sales during coronavirus shutdowns haven’t been the same in every state, with newer cannabis markets seeming to fair better than established markets that depend on tourism.

Despite a statewide stay-at-home order issued on March 23, Washington state saw record-breaking cannabis sales in April. Recreational marijuana sales increased 20% compared to April 2019, generating $106 million. Adult-use cannabis sales in Washington during March amounted to $99 million.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, Washington is a good test state to see if cannabis is “recession-proof” because it has a relatively mature market that generates a higher portion of sales from locals.

States like Colorado generate a higher amount of cannabis sales from tourists, so even with the leveling off of sales in the state in recent years, Colorado should expect to see a dip in cannabis revenue.

“Estimates prepared for the Department of Revenue suggest that tourists accounted for 7 to 9 percent of marijuana consumption in Colorado between 2014 and 2017,” according to a state budgeting report.

Adult-use cannabis sales in Colorado during April 2020 generated $91 million, a 16% decrease as compared to the same time in 2019

While California saw a modest gain in cannabis sales in April, monthly sales growth was less than before the pandemic. In March, Californians bought $276 million in recreational cannabis, an increase of 53% compared to March 2019. In April, sales equaled $248 million, an increase of only 17%.

With travel all but grounded during the pandemic, Nevada’s cannabis businesses have been hit hard by the lack of tourism. Adult-use cannabis sales fell 26% in the state, earning $38 million in sales in April, down from $54 million in March. According to Will Adler, Director of the Sierra Cannabis Coalition, 80% of recreational and medical marijuana sales in Nevada are generated from tourists.

Illinois’ adult-use cannabis market launched in January, with a record-setting $39.2 million in sales. April’s adult-use marijuana sales didn’t top January’s numbers, but they were still higher than average. In April, Illinois sold nearly $37.3 million in recreational cannabis, $2.6 million more than was sold in March.

In Oklahoma, residents bought a record amount of medical marijuana, increasing tax collections by more than 25%. The Oklahoma Tax Commission received $9.8 million in state taxes in April. By comparison, the state generated $7.8 million in medical marijuana tax revenue in March. According to The Oklahoman, medical marijuana dispensaries sold $61.4 million worth of medical cannabis in April or nearly $217 per licensed patient.

Bud Scott, executive director of the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association, credits people staying home with the increase in medical marijuana sales.

“With the stay-home order in place, and medical marijuana dispensaries being categorized as essential health services, Oklahoma patients were afforded the ability to take their medicine on a more regular basis and sample a broader range of available medicines,” Scott said.

Cannabis users looking for relief from stress and anxiety could account for increases in marijuana sales that don’t rely on tourism.

“I’ve probably medicated more these past few months. You’ve got people staying home and getting stimulus checks, and what are they spending it on? Things that help keep them calm and collected,” Keith Wiley, owner of Native Brothers Dispensary, told The Oklahoman.

House lawmakers introduce coronavirus relief bill for cannabis industry



Last Thursday, a bill was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives that would enable marijuana businesses to apply for coronavirus relief programs.

The Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and has been co-sponsored by fourteen members of the House, including Colorado representatives Ed Perlmutter (D), Jason Crow (D), Joe Neguse (D), and Diana DeGette (D).

Although cannabis businesses have been deemed essential in legal states, the federal government’s prohibition on marijuana means that marijuana businesses are not eligible for federal aid.

The bill would enable cannabis companies to have the same access to federal money through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster loans.

However, there’s not much chance of the bill passing in the Senate without being part of a larger Coronavirus relief package. The good news is that there does appear to be bipartisan support for including marijuana businesses in the next coronavirus stimulus bill.

On April 17, a bipartisan group of 34 members of Congress sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) urging them to allow cannabis businesses to access federal disaster relief.

“Workers at state-legal cannabis businesses are no different from workers at any other small business — they show up to work every day, perform their duties, and most importantly, work to provide for their families,” lawmakers said in the letter. “This lack of access will undoubtedly lead to unnecessary layoffs, reduced hours, pay cuts, and furloughs for the workers of cannabis businesses who need support the most.

“The state-legal cannabis industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy and workforce, employing over 240,000 workers across 33 states and four territories, and generating $1.9 billion in state and local taxes in 2019,” lawmakers wrote. “State-legal cannabis businesses need access to CARES Act programs to ensure they have the financial capacity to undertake the public health and worker-focused measures experts are urging businesses to take.”

Mountain High Suckers Launches CBD Brand: Mountain High Select



In celebration of 4/20 month and to make things easier for folks staying at home during Coronavirus, we are proud to announce the launch of our brand new BROAD SPECTRUM HEMP lineup of suckers NOW AVAILABLE anywhere CBD products are legal!

These new 0% THC versions of our favorite flavors: Blueberry, Watermelon, Strawberry Banana (Straw-nana), Sour Lemon, Grape and Tangerine are hand made in Denver Colorado, USA from mostly non-GMO, organic, and Kosher ingredients. You can ORDER ONLINE right now.

Our infusion process allows for dual absorption, which means it’s absorbed through both your mouth (sublingual) and in your liver (gastrointestinal) for a more complete effect.

This product is also unique in that it offers a variety of the known cannabinoids rather than just CBD alone!

At Mountain High Select, our goal is to produce high quality infused products. We test every batch of oil to ensure accurate dosage. You can locate testing results right on our product pages.

Finally you can get your favorite infused lollipops delivered to your door from MountainHighSelect.com!

 

Colorado Marijuana Dispensaries Deemed Critical, Remain Open



On Sunday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced that recreational marijuana dispensaries in the state must convert to online pre-orders and curbside pickup until at least April 10.

In-person sales will be allowed at medical marijuana dispensaries as long as they maintain appropriate social distancing, although the governor encouraged MMJ stores to do curbside pickup as well.

“I temporarily suspend the prohibition on retail marijuana store online sales…to facilitate pick up by consumers twenty-one years of age and older in a manner consistent with social-distancing guidelines,” according to Polis’s executive order.

Gov. Polis deemed marijuana dispensaries “critical” retail businesses. Still, on Monday, Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock issued a “stay at home” order for the city and deemed recreational marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores non-essential. Several hours later, Denver officials walked back the decision after Denverites rushed to stores to stock up.

Polis’s executive order will also allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana cards through telemedicine appointments.

“We see quite a few immuno-compromised patients, whether they’re taking steroids for an autoimmune disorder, they have cancer, or they’re just elderly. These are the same people coronavirus wants to attack,” medical marijuana physician Dr. Peter Pryor told Westword. “As an emergency medicine doctor, I just figure I’m going to get this. But telemedicine could protect me from getting it, protect me from spreading it if I do get it, and protect my patients from getting it.”

Online ordering will help limit person-to-person exposure, but some would like the governor to take it a step further and allow marijuana deliveries. Truman Bradley, president of the Marijuana Industry Group, told The Denver Post that Colorado already allows medical marijuana deliveries, but so far, only one delivery license has been issued in the state.

“We’ve already got the legal infrastructure that allows for this, so all it requires are these local municipalities to allow for delivery during times of crisis, and they can come back and revisit it,” Cindy Sovine, a marijuana advocate and consultant told The Denver Post. “That is the safest pathway to keep access open.”

New Colorado Drug Reform Law Reduces Possession from Felony to Misdemeanor



A new Colorado law will reclassify personal possession of Schedule I and Schedule II substances from a felony to a misdemeanor.

“The war on drugs is an abysmal failure, and this puts things on the right track,” said bill sponsor Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver).

In May 2019, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed HB19-1263 into law. After a last-minute effort to repeal the law failed, it took effect this month.

Under the new law, possession for personal use of substances like LSD, cocaine, MDMA, heroin, fentanyl, and other illicit drugs will carry much less punishment as the state focuses on substance abuse as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.

“What it means is people will have another chance,” said Herod. “When folks are ready to get clean and sober and get back into society and get back to work, they won’t have this felony over their head.”

Drug felony charges in Colorado have more than doubled in the past six years, straining capacity at state prisons and taxing the criminal justice system.

“About 30 percent of all state felony filings are for drug offenses,” according to Christie Donner, the executive director to Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. “And Denver leads the way, with 41 percent. That’s clogging up the courts, so there’s a budget request for more judges. But more judges means we’ll need more prosecutors and more public defenders and more court staff. So not just prisons are impacted — and this is happening across the state.”

After a third misdemeanor offense for personal possession, the law calls for the crime to be charged as a felony.  Dealing illicit substances is still subject to felony charges.

“Most importantly, this bill doesn’t eliminate the opportunity for a judge to sentence jail time,” said Herod. “We’re not saying it’s no longer a crime; we’re not saying that simple possession is something you’re going to get a slap on the wrist for. One-hundred eighty days is still 180 days in jail.”

A report from the Joint Budget Committee found that the law could save the state between $8.6 million to $13.7 million in taxpayer money over the next five years. The state wants to use the savings from reduced incarceration costs to fund a grant program to fund mental health resources, substance abuse treatment centers, and law enforcement diversion programs.

Marijuana Edibles are Dominating Canada’s Legal Cannabis Market



After a slow start in 2019, the cannabis market in Canada is taking off, in large part thanks to marijuana edibles. Canada legalized adult-use marijuana in October 2018, but it wasn’t until a year later that marijuana edibles entered the marketplace.

Canadians are cannabis curious

Data from Mintel, a Canadian market intelligence agency, shows that the Canadian cannabis market has a large number of potential users. Six in 10 (59%) of Canadians report that they are currently using and/or interested in using cannabis.

27% of Canadians used cannabis within the first six months of legalization.

Cannabis edibles entice new consumers to the marijuana marketplace

Marijuana edibles are of huge interest to Canadian cannabis consumers and non-consumers alike.

“Edibles and drinkables can be a great introductory way for new users to familiarize themselves with cannabis and better understand the cannabis experience, potentially leading to using other forms of the product,” said Scott Stewart, Senior Research Analyst at Mintel.

32% of non-cannabis users said that they are ‘open to trying it.’ That number jumps when it comes to marijuana edibles. Among potential cannabis users, 66% of non-users said they are interested in edible and drinkable cannabis.

When it comes to age demographics, potential cannabis users showed similar levels of interest in marijuana edibles, with 47% of 20-34-year-olds, 49% of 30-50-year-olds, and 48% of those aged 55+.

“The key to future growth for many consumer industries will be to convert more of the consumers who are open to but not current users of cannabis; their hesitance to try cannabis was a contributor to the relatively low sales in 2019, but the legalization of edibles and drinkables in October 2019 will play a major role in 2020’s success,” said Stewart.

Canadians look to marijuana for health and wellness benefits

According to Mintel, Canadians are more interested in the health and wellness benefits of cannabis over its recreational uses.

  • Nearly half (46%) of cannabis consumers said that they use it to have fun, but an even higher percentage said that they use cannabis as a wellness product.
  • More than half (62%) of cannabis consumers said that they use it to relax and relieve stress and anxiety (54%).
  • Additionally, 42% of cannabis consumers said that they use marijuana to improve sleep, and 39% use it to improve their mood.
  • 42% of non-cannabis users said that they would consider using cannabis to relieve pain, while 25% said that they would use it to improve sleep.
  • The four biggest barriers for non-cannabis users were the smell (37%), smoke (36%), health concerns (28%), and lacking knowledge about how to consume cannabis (41%), all of which could potentially be overcome with time, education, and support of brands.

“New product innovation in the cannabis market has already begun to tear down some of the barriers related to wider cannabis consumption. In addition to edibles and drinkables that do not involve smell or smoke – two of the main complaints cannabis non-users have about the product – devices like vaporizers or vape pens, which create a vapor instead of smoke, serve to minimize these unwanted byproducts.

“Our research shows that many Canadians view cannabis as a very complex and intimidating product, and the lack of understanding leads many to avoid it entirely. Brands can navigate this by using online platforms and in-store employees to help educate consumers about cannabis. Strict laws around marketing cannabis mean that brands have to be very careful about their approach, but using factual statements to help educate and familiarize potential consumers with cannabis is a good way of establishing a trusted position in the market,” said Stewart.

Colorado Cannabis Sales Surged in 2019



After predictions that Colorado’s marijuana market was plateauing, the latest numbers for 2019 showed a huge jump in sales growth. Marijuana sales at medical and recreational dispensaries set a new record at $1.75 billion in 2019, according to data released by the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR).

Colorado’s 2019 numbers saw a surge in cannabis sales, exceeding 2018 by more than $200 million, an increase of 13 percent. The state received more than $302.4 million in tax revenue–used to fund programs like public health and safety, drug education, law enforcement, school construction, and more.

From 2017 to 2018, cannabis sales increased by 2.5 percent. In 2018, the state saw $1.55 billion in cannabis sales, compared to $1.5 billion in 2017.

“To see it turn around in 2019 is a bullish indicator that price compression can’t keep the popularity of legal cannabis down,” said Tom Adams, the managing director at BDS Analytics. Adams told CNN that he attributed the increase in sales to the popularity in non-flower products like edibles, vapes, and concentrates. He said that recent BDS studies showed that the number of adults who reported consuming cannabis in the last six months was increasing, and more people were comfortable buying cannabis products.

“It’s just become a part of people’s lives more and more,” Adams said.

Truman Bradley, the newly appointed executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, told The Denver Post that he attributed the increase in sales to the normalization of cannabis.

“People are moving from the unregulated market to the regulated market,” Bradley said. “As reefer madness goes away, as the stigmatism of cannabis reduces and people come over to the regulated market, I would expect that trend to continue.”

According to the DOR, Colorado dispensaries have sold nearly $7.79 billion in cannabis since recreational sales began in 2014, generating $1.21 billion in state tax revenue.

February Cannabis Roundup



Higher Education: Colorado State University-Pueblo offers cannabis major

Starting this fall, CSU-Pueblo will offer a bachelor of science in cannabis biology and chemistry.

The degree program will offer students two tracks–a natural products track focused on biology or an analytical track that focuses on chemistry. Students will have to complete general biology and chemistry courses in addition to nine proposed cannabis courses to complete their degree.

This is Colorado’s first cannabis degree program, and one of the first cannabis degree programs in the country. Northern Michigan University and Minot State University in North Dakota offer bachelor programs in medicinal plant chemistry.

“We have been working on this particular degree program for over a year now, and the chemistry department and the biology department have put together a program that really emphasizes the science of cannabis,” said David Lehmpuhl, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at CSU-Pueblo.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education approved the program earlier this month. According to Lehmpuhl, there are plans to create more cannabis-related degree programs at universities in the state.

“We anticipate this is the first of several cannabis-related degrees and certifications that will be developed by Colorado institutions of higher education in the near-term,” Lehmpuhl said.

“It’s a challenge in a way because cannabis has both positive and negative connotations. We want to make sure that we are viewed as being not pro or anti-cannabis, but just looking at the science behind it,” Lehmpuhl said.

“To those of us who are scientists, this is really exciting.”

 

Kentucky gives medical marijuana another try

A bill to legalize medical marijuana passed in Kentucky’s House Judiciary Committee for the second year in a row. House Bill 136 would legalize medical marijuana and allow doctors to prescribe it. Qualifying medical conditions have not yet been spelled out but would be determined by a panel of eight doctors, four public advocates, and a pharmacist.

The bill passed in the House committee last year, but failed to receive a full floor vote. The bill is expected to pass in the House but faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said that he hadn’t seen sufficient research into medical marijuana, but there’s a “narrow path” to passing the bill in the Senate.

“It’s a balancing test of do the goods outweigh the bads,” Stivers said. “And we just haven’t had anything done on that.”

Advocates of the bill say that medical marijuana is a better alternative to addictive opioids.

“If House Bill 136, medical cannabis, were to pass in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I would not be a criminal,” said Eric Crawford, who spoke before lawmakers. “I would not have to live in fear. I would not have to lay awake at night worrying about law enforcement coming to my home. I would not have to stress about going to jail, or losing my home, work or freedom.” Crawford has been in a wheelchair since being involved in a car accident in 1994.

If the bill were to pass in both the state House and Senate, it would create one of the more restrictive medical marijuana laws in the country. Smoking marijuana would be illegal, although flower would be available for other uses. Colorful packaging and gummies would be prohibited. Even THC may be a no-go under the bill, something that would be decided on at a later date by the Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services.

90 percent of Kentuckians support legalizing medical marijuana, according to a recent poll by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. That’s up from 78 percent support in 2012.

 

States with medical marijuana have fewer workers’ compensation claims

A new study found that in states with legal medical marijuana, there was a 6.7 percent decline in workers’ compensation claims.  Medical marijuana “can allow workers to better manage symptoms associated with workplace injuries and illnesses and, in turn, reduce need for workers’ compensation,” according to the study.

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati Ash Blue College and Temple University analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey. The data spanned from 1990-2013 and included survey interviews from 150,000 U.S. residents 15 and older.

“We think there is a lot of overlap between conditions for which medical marijuana can be used in managing symptoms and the types of illnesses that lead people to file workers’ compensation claims,” said study co-author, Catherine Maclean, an associate professor in the economics department at Temple University.

When workers did file claims, they were for shorter periods of time, on average, after medical cannabis was legalized.

“Our findings add to the small, but growing, literature on the effects of MMLs (medical marijuana laws) on labor market outcomes. On net, the available findings suggest that MML passage may increase work capacity among older adults, reduce work absences, improve workplace safety, and reduce WC (workers’ compensation) claiming and the pain and suffering associated with workplace injuries.”

USDA Open to Changes to Hemp Rules, but not THC Limits



The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week that they would not be making changes to the allowable THC limit for legal hemp. While the 2018 Farm Bill passed by Congress legalized hemp, it came with the requirement that THC content must be under 0.3%, and any hemp found to exceed that amount must be destroyed. The USDA says that it’s up to Congress to make changes.

“The Farm Bill set forth these requirements,” Bruce Summers, acting administrator of USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, said on a call with reporters. “Any changes to these requirements require legislative action.”

“To go from 0.3 to one percent would have to be a statutory change,” he said. “In other words, Congress would have to take action. We couldn’t do that by regulation.”

While the THC limit will remain the same for hemp, the USDA is open to other changes to their rules. The USDA says it will use the 2020 growing season as a chance to “test drive the interim rule to help guide any adjustments that are made in the final rule.” After the 2020 harvest, the USDA will open a second public comment period before final regulations are set. The interim final rule will expire Nov. 1, 2021, after which the USDA will then deliver the final regulations.

One potential change could involve the disposal practices for “hot hemp.” Hemp that tests above regulated THC levels cannot be sold and must be destroyed. According to Summers, “there’s probably some flexibility there, and we hope to get some additional guidance on that out shortly.”

“Hot hemp” is ineligible for federal crop insurance programs, including the two new federal hemp insurance programs the USDA announced earlier this month.

Summers also said that there could be changes to the requirement that testing facilities must be certified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Hemp farmers have been concerned that there are too few certified labs, which will cause backlogs and delays in hemp testing.

“It’s something we’ve heard loud and clear. It’s something we’re dealing with and something we’re hoping to have more information out about shortly,” Summers said about the lab shortages.

The Farm Bill gives states the right to submit their own proposed hemp regulations. The Colorado Senate has urged the USDA to loosen some of its hemp regulations.

“As presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture…members, there will not be a hemp industry in Colorado,” said Colorado Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose). “The rules and regulations are so onerous that we as farmers cannot comply, and the state cannot afford to comply.”

The state Senate adopted a resolution in January, pledging their support for regulatory revisions.

“Colorado has been a national leader in developing public policies that support hemp production, protect farmers and consumers, and treat hemp as an important agricultural product and not a controlled substance,” the resolution reads. “The State’s written comments on the interim rule present thoughtful and compelling recommendations on how the USDA’s rules could be improved to allow for greater flexibility and equity in state regulation of hemp production in a manner that protects farmers and consumers and promotes growth of the industry.”

Colorado Unveils ‘Roadmap to Banking’ for Marijuana Industry



On Monday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) announced a “Roadmap to Cannabis Banking & Financial Services” aimed at increasing access to banking for the state’s marijuana and hemp industries. Polis announced the plan in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).

“As the first state to establish a legal marijuana industry and one of the first to implement an industrial hemp program, Colorado has become a national economic leader in the cannabis industry,” said Governor Jared Polis in a press release. “We are excited to release a bold, forward-thinking roadmap to provide much-needed guidance, clarity and support to state-chartered financial service providers that work with or are interested in working with the state-legal cannabis industry.”

The plan includes “seven primary areas of focus,” including:

  • Providing clear regulatory guidance
  • Encouraging new and emerging technologies in the banking and financial services space
  • Reducing barriers while upholding consumer protection guardrails
  • Demonstrating state support for financial businesses wishing to explore cannabis banking

Cannabis is legal in eleven states plus Washington, D.C., but both state and federal laws aimed at providing guidance and protection for the financial industry haven’t made much headway. The House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act last year with bipartisan support, but it’s unclear when or if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will bring it to the floor for a vote.

“The lack of federal clarity creates a level of uncertainty and apprehension for our Colorado state-chartered banks and credit unions to provide basic financial services to legal cannabis-related businesses,” said DORA Executive Director Patty Salazar. “This roadmap is designed to lay out a path whereby our state-chartered financial institutions can explore whether or not they are in a position to provide services to this industry.”

Limited or no access to banking services means that many cannabis businesses, especially those that touch the plant, operate entirely in cash.

“Unbanked cannabis businesses often operate solely in cash, creating a significant risk to public safety,” said Treasurer Dave Young. ”By providing essential banking services to cannabis businesses, Colorado can lead the way in protecting public safety and promoting financial transparency.”

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Lakewood), who was the lead sponsor of the SAFE Banking Act joined Gov. Polis at the announcement of the roadmap.

“Too many Colorado businesses, employees and communities have been targets of assault, robbery and other crimes due to the conflict between state and federal law when it comes to cannabis banking. I appreciate Governor Polis and his team working to improve access to the financial industry for Colorado cannabis and cannabis-related businesses. However, it is critical that Congress acts, including by advancing the SAFE Banking Act. Only by aligning state and federal law can we fully resolve the issues necessary to get cash off our streets and improve public safety in our communities,” said Perlmutter.

Medical Marijuana in Thailand: Cannabis Clinic Opens in Bangkok



Thailand’s first full-time medical marijuana clinic opened in Bangkok this month. Thailand is the first Southeast Asian country to allow medical marijuana, though cannabis has not been legalized, and there are harsh penalties for recreational use.

The Ministry of Public Health anticipates between 200 to 300 patient visits daily, and nearly 2,200 patients have registered for treatment with medical marijuana. On its first day, the clinic gave away free cannabis oil to nearly 400 people. Patients who visit the clinic will receive two weeks of free care.

Thailand has approved 38 medical conditions for treatment with medical marijuana, including Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and cancer. In the future, Thailand may expand its medical marijuana policy to include allowing patients to cultivate up to six plants at home.

Chad Tribble, one of the co-founders of Mountain High Suckers who recently visited Thailand to speak and attend the Elevating Cannabis Expo 2019, told the Bangkok Post about the wide range of uses and products that can be derived from cannabis.

“You can infuse the oils, the cannabis compounds into a lotion which delivers the medicine through your skin instead of smoking or eating it. You can probably feed animals such as elephants with the by-product from the plant as well.”

Thailand already has about 25 cannabis clinics, but access to them is limited to hospitals, and they’re only open part-time.

“This is a pilot clinic, because we cannot produce enough doctors with expertise in cannabis,” said the country’s public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

Until at least 2024, only Thai companies will be licensed to cultivate the plant. Tribble sees huge potential in Thailand for CBD and cannabis businesses in the coming years.

“Thailand is a great prospect for foreign companies to be able to work with Thai companies to offer products for people to use medically,” Tribble said.

Despite Thailand’s current harsh drug laws, and recent 180 on medical, the country has a long history with cannabis. Before its ban in the 1930s, cannabis was used for clothing and other fabrics, as well as food. A Thai boat noodle soup called kuaytiaw reua used cannabis as a spice.

“It is vital to remember that cannabis is one of the 50 Fundamental Herbs of Chinese Medicine and dates back 4000 years in Asia,” Dr. Jenelle Kim, Founder & Chief Formulator of JBK Wellness Labs, told Forbes. “Beginning thousands of years ago, the healing properties of cannabis were used to help balance a variety of conditions–from calming the mind and body, balancing digestive disorders, easing pain and fatigue, among others.”

Colorado Bill Would Protect Workers from Being Fired for Off-Duty Cannabis Use



Colorado may have regulated marijuana like alcohol, but since marijuana was legalized, there’s been a double standard when it comes to cannabis and booze. State law prohibits employers from firing employees for “lawful off-duty activities,” like drinking alcohol. Employees who over-indulge during the Superbowl, for example, can go into work the next day and talk about their bender without losing their jobs. Not the case when it comes to marijuana.

House Bill 20-1098, introduced to the Colorado legislature by Rep. Jovan Melton (D-Aurora), would explicitly include marijuana use as a “lawful off-duty activity.”

“I can’t believe we’ve had this much oversight and lack of protection for someone who’s using medical marijuana, or recreational, which is something that is legal in Colorado,” Melton told Westword. “Especially since we’re supposed to regulate marijuana just like alcohol. But [alcohol users] are not in the same type of jeopardy as someone who’s using marijuana. I feel like it’s kind of almost discriminatory to say someone can drink alcohol but not smoke here.”

At many companies in Colorado, an employer can fire an employee for testing positive for marijuana, even if they’re not high at work. After recreational marijuana hit retail stores in 2014, the issue came up in 2015, when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the Dish Network was within their rights to fire an employee who tested positive for pot. The employee, Brandon Coats, a paralyzed medical marijuana patient, was fired for marijuana use off the job.

“We’ve revised the language a little, and it’s now about employee protection for lawful activity,” said Ashley Weber, the director of Colorado NORML. “We’re not really looking for any special treatment just for cannabis users…We offer these protections for alcohol, so we’re not asking for any special treatment.”

The bill would likely not apply to federal employees who work in the state, at least as long as marijuana remains illegal federally.

“Our hope with this bill is that Colorado will set an example in rewriting employee handbooks about how they’re going to treat the firing of their employees, and what is grounds for being able to be fired,” Weber said. “We can’t go back and undo what has already been done, but we can move forward in how we’re creating this language.”

The House Business Affairs and Labor Committee will have their first hearing on the bill on February 5.

Mountain High Suckers Joins Forces with PotPies Gummies



Happy 2020 edibles fans!

We are looking forward to another great year and wanted to start things off by highlighting some of the great companies that have joined our line-up of awesome cannabis-infused edibles.

Today we’re highlighting a new cannabis product that we partnered with last year: PotPies Edibles!

Pat Johnson founded Urban Dispensary in Denver, one of the longest operating dispensaries in Colorado, before starting up PotPies Edibles. The owners of Mountain High Suckers, Chad and John, met Pat way back when medical cannabis first started, and Urban Dispensary agreed to put Mountain High Suckers on their shelves.

In the beginning, PotPies cooked their cannabis-infused gummies in a variety of kitchens in Pueblo, Colorado, eventually getting their own cannabis edibles production license and creating their signature flavors. Operating a full commercial kitchen and maintaining the license became a headache, so PotPies approached Mountain High Suckers to take over the production of their gummies.

Recognizing a synergy between their long-term relationship and a complimentary product, Mountain High Suckers and PotPies Edibles formed a mutual partnership, and PotPies Gummies was re-launched in its current form.

PotPies Edibles are now fully available in Colorado dispensaries and come in sour and original varieties with four fantastic flavors each. Our chewable gummies are produced using the same hand-crafted care we use with our suckers and lozenges, infused with premium distillate and are 10 mg THC per piece, 100 mg per package. Original flavors include strawberry, orange, lemon, and lime. Sour flavors also include watermelon and green apple. PotPies Gummies have also recently launched in California recreational markets, coming to dispensary shelves soon. We’re excited to work with another like-minded organization to produce another awesome cannabis infused edible that fits perfectly into our existing lineup.

Stop by your favorite dispensary and ask for PotPies Gummies and Mountain High Suckers by name, and don’t forget to drop by and say hi at the PotPies and MHS booth at Sensi and other events around Colorado!

States Voting on Legal Marijuana in 2020



At the beginning of 2020, three states already have marijuana legislation appearing on ballots this November. South Dakotans will have a double dose of marijuana initiatives, as voters decide on both medical and adult-use legalization. Medical marijuana is on the ballot in Mississippi, and New Jersey will give legalizing recreational marijuana another go.

Medical and Recreational marijuana will be on South Dakota’s ballot

This November, South Dakota will be the first state to vote on the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana on the same ballot.

The ballot initiative for legalizing adult-use marijuana was given the official go-ahead by South Dakota’s Secretary of State earlier this week. South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws submitted over 50,000 signatures in support of the initiative, well over the number required to make it on the ballot.

If voters approve the adult-use ballot measure, it will allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis as well as cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. The South Dakota Department of Revenue would issue licenses for manufacturers, testing facilities, and retailers. Sales tax on recreational sales would be 15%.

“The adult-use legalization initiative will greatly benefit the people of South Dakota by ending the injustice of arresting otherwise law-abiding adults for marijuana offenses. It will focus law enforcement resources on fighting serious crime, generate new tax revenue for the state, and create jobs,” said Marijuana Policy Project deputy director Matthew Schweich in a press release.

An initiative for medical marijuana will also be put to voters this November after New Approach South Dakota submitted more than 30,000 signatures to the state.

Marijuana advocates in South Dakota expect some opposition to legalization from state Republicans.  Gov. Kristi Noem (R) vetoed a hemp legalization bill last year.

Voters will decide on legalizing medical marijuana in Mississippi

An initiative to create a medical marijuana program in Mississippi has received enough signatures to appear on the 2020 ballot.

Ballot Initiative 65 would legalize medical marijuana for 22 qualifying conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each medical marijuana patient would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period.

Mississippians for Compassionate Care (MCC) collected more than 214,000 signatures.

“The polling is extremely positive,” MCC spokesperson Jamie Grantham said. “It polls above 77 percent, with every age group, religious affiliation, political affiliation, and other groups. Also, to that point, we saw the overwhelming support from the number of signatures we received.”

Gov. Phil Bryant (R) and the Mississippi State Board of Health oppose medical marijuana. Lawmakers will have four months to approve, reject, or amend the proposal.

Adult-use marijuana referendum on 2020 ballot in New Jersey

The New Jersey state legislature passed a resolution that will put the question of marijuana legalization to voters in November.

The referendum would legalize possession of marijuana for adults 21 and older and would be subject to a 6.625 percent state sales tax.

“We’re optimistic that next November, New Jersey voters will replace an eight-decade-long policy disaster with a far more sensible approach to marijuana,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Last March, legislation that would have legalized adult-use cannabis in New Jersey was pulled from a vote in the state legislature after failing to secure enough support from lawmakers.

2019: Year End Cannabis News Review



There have been big moves in cannabis in 2019, with approval for the end of marijuana prohibition reaching all-time highs. Cannabis and hemp saw more legalization both at the state and federal level, and even some bipartisan support in Congress.

Here were some of the biggest stories in weed in 2019:

Colorado finally approves rules for legal pot lounges and cafes

The problem of where to consume cannabis in Colorado has been an issue since adult-use cannabis use was approved by voters in 2012. In 2020, Colorado tokers will finally have a place to light up.

In May, Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed HB 1230 into law,  licensed marijuana hospitality spaces in which cannabis can be consumed on-site. The new rules open the door for a variety of businesses to cash in on cannabis consumption, including hotels, spas, art galleries, cafes, lounges, and more. After purchasing medical or recreational cannabis at a dispensary, tourists and residents will be able to try out their purchases at on-site marijuana tasting rooms.

The law won’t go into effect until 2020, and cities and counties have the option of banning social-use establishments. Local governments will have the option of adjusting the regulations to allow vaping, for example, but not smoking.

 

Cannabis banking bill gains bipartisan support in House

The House of Representatives passed the Secure and Fair (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019 in September.

The SAFE Banking Act would protect banks that work with the cannabis industry from being penalized, or from violating federal anti-money laundering and illicit finance laws. For years the cannabis industry has struggled to gain access to even the most basic banking services.

Despite being a multibillion-dollar industry, marijuana businesses have largely been given the cold shoulder by banks and credit unions, leaving them holding literal bags of cash.

This is the first time that the House has passed standalone marijuana legislation. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) sponsored the SAFE Banking Act, and it passed with a vote of 321-103. All but one Democrat and 91 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, giving it broad bipartisan support.

 

USDA releases draft hemp regulations

In October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released draft rules for hemp regulation.

The USDA drafted the regulations as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill that descheduled and legalized hemp. Under the draft rules, the THC content must be under 0.3%, and any “hot” hemp found to exceed that amount would be destroyed.

Not everyone is happy with the proposed rules. Hemp farmers say that the USDA regulations will make producing high-quality CBD that doesn’t exceed THC limits impossible.

 

Colorado cannabis sales generate $1 billion in tax revenue

Since recreational marijuana sales began in Colorado in 2014, the state has collected $1.02 billion in tax revenue, according to the latest numbers released by the Colorado Department of Revenue. Adult-use cannabis sales in the last five years have exceeded $6.56 billion. Legal cannabis has created jobs for 41,076 people who work in the industry, and there are currently 2,917 licensed marijuana businesses in the state.

Cannabis sales in Colorado have begun to level out, in part due to a decline in medical marijuana sales. In 2018, recreational marijuana sales were up 11%, but medical cannabis sales were down 20%.

 

End of marijuana prohibition gains traction in Congress

The House Judiciary Committee approved the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) ACT in November. The bill would deschedule cannabis, expunge marijuana convictions, and create reinvestment programs in communities most impacted by the war on drugs.

This will remove a stain on people’s record but really a stain on the United States of America,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN).

Some key elements of the MORE Act include:

  • Remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances
  • Require federal courts to expunge past marijuana convictions and criminal records
  • Allow states to set their own marijuana policy
  • A 5 percent federal tax on marijuana would fund programs that provide job training, legal assistance, treatment for substance abuse, and provide loans for cannabis businesses owned by people who are socially or economically disadvantaged
  • Create the Cannabis Justice Office within the Department of Justice
  • Prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances because of marijuana use
  • Prohibit denying citizenship to immigrants based on a marijuana conviction

Additionally, removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act would allow veterans access to medical marijuana through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

While the bill is likely to pass in the House, its future is less certain in the Senate.

 

Illinois becomes 11th state to legalize cannabis

Jan. 1, 2020, will mark the beginning of more than just a new decade in Illinois as the state’s first recreational marijuana dispensaries are set to open on New Year’s Day.

Illinois was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through the state legislature rather than through a voter-approved ballot initiative.

In June, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a bill that allows adults 21 and older to possess and purchase cannabis. In addition to legalizing adult-use cannabis, the new law includes provisions to expunging prior marijuana convictions and the creation of social equity programs.

Recreational flower, edibles, and infused products will have a graduated tax rate according to the THC content.

 

Michigan first Midwest state to legalize adult-use marijuana

On Dec. 1, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to allow recreational marijuana sales. Adults 21 and older can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of flower, including up to 15 grams of concentrate.

Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 to legalize adult-use marijuana in 2018. Sales were originally slated to begin Jan. 1, 2020, but the state moved up the date in an effort to reduce black market sales. Detroit has delayed recreational sales until Jan. 31.

On the first day of sales, the state’s three licensed retail marijuana shops generated more than $200,000 in cannabis sales and an estimated $36,000 in tax revenue.

Marijuana Industry Daily projected that marijuana sales in Michigan are expected to reach $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion per year when the market reaches maturity.

 

 

High Holiday Events – Cannabis Calendar



Looking for cannabis friendly ways to get into the holiday spirit?

Check out these Colorado cannabis events that will ensure your Christmas is merry and lit.

High for the Holidays at The Oriental Theater
Dec. 20, 8-11 pm
The Oriental Theater
4335 W. 44th Ave., Denver

Still need a last-minute gift for your favorite toker (or yourself)? Check out this cannabis-themed holiday market with local vendors, smoking accessories and stoner apparel.  Unwind with performances by pot comedians Rick Bryan and Derrik Rush, music, and burlesque shows. You can even take a photo with CannaClaus (only if you’ve been nice).

The event is 21+ and tickets are $14.20 each, or $4.20 with a valid marijuana industry badge.
While there’s no consumption allowed in the venue, a smoke bus will be outside from 7-9:30 pm.

Creatively Cannabis: Tokes and Brush Strokes
Dec. 22, 3-5:30 pm
The Coffee Joint
1130 Yuma Ct., Denver

Get in touch with your creative side at this cannabis consumption and painting event. The BYOB cannabis event will be held at The Coffee Joint, Denver’s only public cannabis consumption venue. Past painting experience isn’t required, so grab some flower and get your Picasso on.

Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 the day of the event. Painting supplies and a 16″x20″ canvas are included.

Christmas at the Coffee Joint
Dec. 24-25
The Coffee Joint
1130 Yuma Ct., Denver

Really get into the high holiday spirit with classic Christmas movies at The Coffee Joint on Christmas Eve, and a daylong Doctor Who marathon on Christmas Day.

Entry into the 21+ venue is $5 or free if you make a purchase at the dispensary next door.

Roaring ’20s New Year’s Celebration
Dec. 31, 8 pm-1 am
Speakeasy Vape and Cannabis Club
2508 E. Bijou St., Colorado Springs

Say goodbye to one decade ring in the new one with a Roaring ’20s themed New Year’s Eve party at Speakeasy Vape Lounge and Cannabis Club. Come dressed in your best flapper gear, enjoy some medicated chocolate fondue, and get down to music by DJ K-Mac.

Admission is $20, or two tickets for $30.

2020 4/20 Party
Jan. 4, 4 pm
Studio 420
808 E. 78th Ave., Denver

Who says the party has to stop after New Year’s Day? Celebrate 2020 with Studio 420, an indoor smoking lounge in north Denver. The event is 21+ and members-only (you can become a member by calling 303-781-4642). Entry is $4.20.

Scientists to Study How Hemp Reacts in Space



Hold on to your CBD-infused lattes, because cannabis is going to space.

Front Range Biosciences, an agricultural technology company, has partnered with the University of Colorado, Boulder to send 480 hemp and coffee plant cultures to the International Space Station (ISS).

“This is one of the first times anyone is researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures,” said Dr. Jonathan Vaught, Co-Founder and CEO of Front Range Biosciences in a press release. “There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations. This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to earth and if there are new commercial applications.”

The goal of the experiments is to see if zero gravity and radiation will mutate or genetically alter the coffee and hemp plants. Scientists will be able to see how the plants react to the stress of space travel. The research could help scientists develop plants that can endure drought and cold. On Earth, that could mean developing more resilient crops that can be grown in environments that don’t normally support hemp growth.

“We envision this to be the first of many experiments together,” said Louis Stodieck, Chief Scientist of BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “In the future, we plan for the crew to harvest and preserve the plants at different points in their grow-cycle so we can analyze which metabolic pathways are turned on and turned off. This is a fascinating area of study that has considerable potential.”

The hemp and coffee cultures will travel to the ISS aboard SpaceX CRS-20 in March 2020. The incubated cells will spend a month is space before returning to Earth to be analyzed by Front Range Biosciences.

In the future, we plan for the crew to harvest and preserve the plants at different points in their grow-cycle, so we can analyze which metabolic pathways are turned on and turned off,” Louis Stodieck, director of BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a statement. “This is a fascinating area of study that has considerable potential.”

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp as a Schedule I substance, legalized the production of hemp, and removed barriers to federal research. Hemp is a type of cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3 percent THC and has a variety of uses, including in textiles, bioplastics and biofuel, food, and insulation.

Hemp also contains high concentrations of CBD and other non-intoxicating cannabinoids.

While scientific research on hemp in space is in its early stages, it’s not the first time cannabis has left Earth. Earlier this year, Space Tango sent hemp seeds to the ISS for a series of experiments. The hemp seeds were sent back to Earth and planted for another series of experiments. The results have not yet been published.

Adult Cannabis Markets in Michigan, Illinois, and Massachusetts Show Huge Potential



Recreational marijuana officially lit in Michigan

On Dec. 1, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to allow recreational marijuana sales.

On the first day of sales, the state’s three licensed retail marijuana shops generated more than $200,000 in cannabis sales and an estimated $36,000 in tax revenue.

“The consumer demand was off the charts,” said Rick Thompson, who serves on the Michigan NORML board. “Each of the provisioning centers had lines out the door and around the block. Most had police officers on hand to ensure people were safe from traffic.”

Michigan voters approved Proposal 1 to legalize adult-use marijuana in 2018. Sales were originally slated to begin Jan. 1, 2020, but the state moved up the date in an effort to reduce black market sales.

1,400 of Michigan’s 1,800 cities and townships do not allow marijuana sales. Detroit has delayed recreational sales until Jan. 31.

Adults 21 and older can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of flower, including up to 15 grams of concentrate.

Marijuana Industry Daily projected that marijuana sales in Michigan are expected to reach $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion per year when the market reaches maturity.

 

Illinois to ring in the new year with legal adult-use cannabis

Jan. 1, 2020, will mark the beginning of more than just a new decade in Illinois as the state’s first recreational marijuana dispensaries are set to open on New Year’s Day.

Illinois was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through the state legislature rather than through a voter-approved ballot initiative.

“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy—a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” Pritzker said. “Legalization of adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do.”

In June, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a bill that allows adults 21 and older to possess and purchase cannabis. In addition to legalizing adult-use cannabis, the new law includes provisions to expunging prior marijuana convictions and the creation of social equity programs.

Recreational marijuana will have a graduated tax rate according to the THC content:

  • Flower and cannabis-infused products with less than 35% THC will be taxed at 10% of the purchase price
  • Cannabis-infused products and edibles with more than 35% THC will be taxed at 20% of the purchase price
  • Flower with more than 35% THC will be taxed at 25% of the purchase price

“The most historic aspect of this is not just that it legalizes cannabis for adults but rather the extraordinary efforts it takes to reduce the harm caused by the failed war on marijuana and the communities it hurt the most,” said state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D).

Illinois is the eleventh state to legalize recreational cannabis.

 

Massachusetts sells $400 million in marijuana during first year of recreational sales

During its first year of legal recreational marijuana, Massachusetts raked in nearly $400 million in sales despite having only 36 licensed retail shops.

For comparison, during the first year of its recreational marijuana market, sales in Colorado amounted to $300 million with 306 licensed retailers.

Data released from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) shows that daily sales regularly exceed $1 million, and often exceed $2 million. At its current pace, adult-use sales could exceed $1 billion by 2021.

The lack of marijuana dispensaries in the state is something CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman says the Commission is planning to address.

“I have no expectation there will be a retail store on every corner, but we have a lot more geographic expansion to do,” Hoffman said. “That’s the biggest part of our job.”

The CCC has approved an additional 53 provisional licenses for cannabis retailers, with another 166 applications pending.

MORE Act to Federally Legalize Marijuana Headed for House Vote



The House Judiciary Committee voted this week on a bill that would deschedule cannabis, expunge marijuana convictions, and create reinvestment programs in communities most impacted by the war on drugs.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) ACT was introduced by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). The Judiciary Committee voted 24-10 to approve the bill and send it to the full House floor for a vote. So far, the bill has 55 co-sponsors.

This will remove a stain on people’s record but really a stain on the United States of America,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN).

Some key elements of the MORE Act include:

  • Remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances
  • Require federal courts to expunge past marijuana convictions and criminal records
  • Allow states to set their own marijuana policy
  • A 5 percent federal tax on marijuana would fund programs that provide job training, legal assistance, treatment for substance abuse, and provide loans for cannabis businesses owned by people who are socially or economically disadvantaged
  • Create the Cannabis Justice Office within the Department of Justice
  • Prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances because of marijuana use
  • Prohibit denying citizenship to immigrants based on a marijuana conviction

“Our marijuana laws disproportionately harm individuals and communities of color, leading to convictions that damage job prospects, access to housing, and the ability to vote,” Nadler said in a press release. “Recognizing this, many states have legalized marijuana. It’s now time for us to remove the criminal prohibitions against marijuana at the federal level. That’s why I introduced the MORE Act, legislation which would assist communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of these laws.”

Additionally, removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act would allow veterans access to medical marijuana through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

While the bill is likely to pass in the House, its future is less certain in the Senate.

“The Senate will take its own time, but then the Senate always does,” said Nadler. “The energy and the political pressure from the various states is growing rapidly. The Senate is subject to that, too. We’ll accomplish this.”

Students with Drug Convictions Could Get Access to Financial Aid



The House Education & Labor Committee approved a bill that would repeal a law that prevents students with drug convictions from receiving financial aid. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) sponsored the Financial Aid Fairness for Students Act with over 30 co-sponsors.

In 1998, Congress amended the Higher Education Act by adding the Aid Elimination Penalty (AEP), cutting off students with drug convictions from receiving federal financial aid.

As a result of the change, a question about past drug convictions was added to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students looking for help paying for college must fill out a FAFSA to be eligible for loans, grants, and work-study programs. After the drug offense question was added to the form, more than 41,000 students were denied financial aid each year, not including students who didn’t bother applying because of marijuana or other drug offenses.

“The best possible intervention for a young person struggling in their relationship with drugs is a quality education,” Betty Aldworth, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), said in an interview with Forbes. “Evidence demonstrates that denying them access only harms the students and their communities.

In 2006, Congress amended the AEP to only cut off financial to students convicted of drug offenses while receiving aid. Students convicted for possession are denied aid for one year for the first offense, two years for the second offense, and permanently for the third offense. Students convicted for selling are denied aid for two years for the first offense, and indefinitely if there is another offense.

The change to the AEP rules reduced the number of rejected applications to about 1,000 per year, though the question about past drug convictions is still on the FAFSA application.

If the Financial Aid Fairness for Students bill is approved by Congress, it would remove the question about past drug convictions from the FAFSA entirely.

Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said, “This policy unfairly targets poor and minority students and costs society more in terms of crime and lost economic productivity.”

Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU’s Drug Law Reform Project, says punishing students for drug offenses is discriminatory and furthers inequality. “If a student is convicted of a drug offense and her family can afford to pay for college, she will be unaffected by the legislation, while those who are already in danger of being forced to society’s margins will be further disempowered,” he said.

Aldworth says that denying financial aid to students convicted with marijuana or other low-level drug offenses is part of a larger problem. “Young people of color are disproportionately impacted by these policies just as people of color are disproportionately targeted for enforcement of drug laws in general,” Aldworth said. “This is one part of a massive system of systemic discrimination against communities, with collateral consequences that reach far beyond a single person’s education.”

USDA Releases Draft Hemp Regulations for Public Comment



This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released draft rules for hemp regulation. There will be a 60-day public comment period before the rules are finalized.

“At USDA, we are always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets,” said Secretary Perdue in a press release. “We have had teams operating with all-hands-on-deck to develop a regulatory framework that meets Congressional intent while seeking to provide a fair, consistent, and science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers who want to participate in this program.”

The USDA drafted the regulations as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill that descheduled and legalized hemp. Under the draft rules, the THC content must be under 0.3%, and any hemp found to exceed that amount would be destroyed. Other key elements of the new regulations include:

  • Industrial hemp must be tested in a Drug Enforcement Administration-registered laboratory.
  • Hemp flower must be tested by a USDA-approved sampling agent 15 days before the anticipated harvest.
  • Guidelines for licensing, locations where hemp can be grown, and testing procedures.
  • A 10-year ban on participation in the hemp industry by “key participants” with a direct financial interest in the business who have felony drug convictions.

States and American Indian tribes will have some say in setting their own hemp regulations (as long as they don’t violate USDA guidelines), and the USDA must evaluate these plans within 60 days of submission. In states where hemp production is illegal, such as South Dakota, farmers will not be able to cultivate hemp unless state law changes.

Not everyone is happy with the proposed rules. Hemp farmers say that the USDA regulations will make producing high-quality CBD impossible.

“We’re going to be forced, if we want to continue farming CBD, to be harvesting in week four to week six of flower time, where we’re typically not starting our harvest until seven or eight,” Phoenix-based hemp farmer Adam Harris told KTVL News10.

Hemp farmers say that the window between testing, receiving results, and harvesting is too narrow and will hurt the quality of their harvest.

“Most scientific research to date is indicating that the most medicinal benefits are with that full-spectrum CBD. These new USDA regulations make it so we can’t even take in the harvested material to take in those full-spectrum extracts the way that we have been,” said Mitra Sticklen of Om Farms LLC, a hemp company based in Jacksonville.