Illinois Cannabis Legalization – The Advocacy Group That Made it Happen

On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) into law, making Illinois the 11th state to legalize cannabis. Illinois will become the second state to legalize cannabis possession via the legislative process and the first to legalize retail sales legislatively.

The Marijuana Policy Project worked closely with legislators and the governor’s office to craft and pass the CRTA, which contains the most far-reaching social equity provisions ever included in a legalization law. It includes reinvestment in communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition, broad expungement provisions, and measures to ensure the industry includes communities that have been targeted by cannabis enforcement. A summary of the CRTA is available here, and a more detailed look at the social equity and criminal justice reforms included in the legislation is available here.

Statement from Steve Hawkins, executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“We applaud the Illinois Legislature and Gov. Pritzker on this resounding victory for personal liberty, racial justice, and common sense. MPP was honored to work hand-in-hand with elected leaders to craft a law ending cannabis prohibition, in a way that begins to remedy the devastation of communities targeted by the war on drugs. Illinois’ focus on fairness and equity in legalization should be a model for other states.

“Illinois’ historic approach to clemency and expungement will clear up to 770,000 criminal records. Whereas the scarlet letter of a cannabis conviction has destroyed people’s futures, the CRTA provides new business and employment opportunities for those whose lives were derailed by prohibition.

“Illinois is the first state to legislatively replace cannabis prohibition with thoughtful, equitable regulation, but it will not be the last. Elected officials nationwide are heeding the call of an overwhelming majority of voters who want to stop punishing adults for using a substance safer than alcohol. And just as we today look back at alcohol prohibition as a misguided failure, future generations will look back and shake their heads in disbelief that cannabis prohibition lasted so long.”

Statement from Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“Legalization can’t simply end criminal penalties or establish sales — legalization has to be part of the healing process as we recover from the failed war on cannabis. Illinois has taken giant steps toward reducing that harm and resetting the whole system for the better.”

MPP has lobbied to reform cannabis policies in the Illinois state Legislature since 2004, previously leading the advocacy campaigns behind Illinois’ successful medical cannabis (2013) and decriminalization efforts (2016). MPP will continue working with allies to ensure smooth implementation of Illinois’ legalization law.

Leading Cannabis Investment Company Enters Into Coachella Territory

As Nabis Holdings, an investment company focused on multiple aspects of the cannabis sector, continues national expansion of the Nabis footprint, they recently announced their first acquisition in the state of California, one of the dominant cannabis markets in the United States.

With a prime location near the annual Coachella Music Festival, and less than one hour from Joshua Tree National Park, this company, signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100% ownership of Desert’s Finest, a 6,000 square foot dispensary in Desert Hot Springs, CA.

CBD Legislation Clears Major Hurdle in California Legislature

Legislation to clarify that hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is legal for manufacture, distribution and sale in California was approved today by the powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Authored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Assembly Bill 228 would expressly permit the retail sale of hemp-derived CBD in foods and supplements, and also in topical applications. The legislation now heads to the full Assembly for approval next week.

The bill was introduced in the wake of raids by local and state health officials on retail outlets throughout the state selling the popular products. The agencies have been inaccurately alleging that hemp-derived CBD products are prohibited by law from being sold in the state.

Retailers report losses in the tens of thousands of dollars from these regulatory actions.

“The unanimous vote today reflects broad support to clarify the law and allow Californians to continue to have access to and experience benefits from quality hemp-derived CBD products,” notes Joseph Dowling, Chief Executive Officer of San Diego-based CV Sciences, a leading manufacturer of industry-dominating brand, PlusCBD Oil™. “The federal government is removing the barriers for legal use of hemp-derived products and we are pleased that the California Legislature also is moving in that direction with this vote.”

The passage of AB 228 would redress that pronouncement which has cast a chill on legal commerce in popular products that promote health and wellness among California citizens, making clear that hemp and hemp-products are legal for retail sale.

The legislation includes an “urgency clause” that would allow it to go into effect immediately if signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Bezarr, Changing The Way We Save On Cannabis

Inland Empire, Ca based start up Bezarr officially announced their highly anticipated launch on social media!  The company will provide a industry standard couponing service that connects customers with local vendors by offering coupons, deals, goods & services in areas where cannabis is legal.

Bezarr can be used by downloading the official Bezarr app available on Android & iOS or through Bezarr.com.

 

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Medicine Man Opens Fourth Retail Location In Longmont, Colorado

Medicine Man, Colorado’s leading marijuana dispensary with the largest variety of cannabis, edibles, concentrates and CBD products for both medical and recreational patients, opened its newest retail dispensary in Longmont, Colorado, on February 20. The store opening comes after Medicine Man’s January announcement of entering a binding agreement that is expected to lead to the near-term acquisition of Medicine Man by Medicine Man Technologies (MDCL), a leading consulting, intellectual property licensing and products company in the cannabis industry.

Located at 500 East Rogers Road, Longmont, Colorado, the new dispensary is strategically situated on “Car Row” with auto dealerships nearby, guaranteeing higher than normal foot traffic for retail sales. Medicine Man was one of four companies that were selected for a license in a highly competitive application process.

“Medicine Man is one of the pioneering operators that helped establish the burgeoning cannabis industry over the past decade with brand recognition far beyond its immediate market,” says Andy Williams, Medicine Man Technologies’ Chief Executive Officer. “Our expansion into retail stores allows us to leverage our reputation and expertise in the market and accelerate our growth in a segment of the business that we believe is highly scalable and profitable. The opening of the fourth Medicine Man retail location in Longmont is a key asset as we enter this exciting time of transition into a vertically integrated cannabis operator.”

“As northern Colorado’s newest dispensary we know there is a built-in demand for both the Medicine Man line of products and the Medicine Man retail experience. We are positioning the Longmont store as a discreet location that will cater to first-time customers, women and men in the 50-plus age demographic and our knowledgeable consumers who appreciate our extensive line of products. This event marks the beginning of a new chapter in the successful history of the Medicine Man brand and we are honored to be a part of the Longmont community,” says Medicine Man Chief Executive Officer Sally Vander Veer.

To celebrate the opening of the Longmont store, Medicine Man is offering eight discounted retail promotions, including special pricing on cartridges, CBD products, edibles, shatter, smoking accessories, topicals and wax grams. Ongoing pricing discounts will be available for veterans, seniors and members of the service industry. The Longmont store will be 5,000 square feet and will carry the popular Medicine Man product line along with well-known brands carried at the other three Medicine Man locations, including: Canyon Cultivation, Cheeba Chews, Coda, CSC, Dutch Girl, Keef Cola, Incredibles, Mary’s Medicinals, MedPharm, Ripple, Robhots, Stratos, Sweet Grass and Wana. Medicine Man’s new Longmont location will be the closest Longmont-based dispensary to the towns of Berthoud, Dacono, Firestone, Frederick, Hygiene, Lyons, Mead, Niwotand Platteville.

Medicine Man’s menu is posted on both www.leafly.com and www.weedmaps.com. For more information about the new Longmore location, or any of the Medicine Man locations across Colorado, please visit www.medicinemandenver.com.

SF Planning Commission Approves African-American Leader For First Equity Program Dispensary

History was made last night when the SF Planning Commission unanimously approved Shawn M Richard’s Haight Street Dispensary project.

Shawn, CEO of Cole Ashbury Group and a founding member of SF Equity Group (SFEG), is the first candidate under the SF Equity Program to be approved for a dispensary.  The SF Equity Program was designed to address the damage committed against communities of color through the War on Drugs.  SFEG is a grassroots organization formed to ensure the SF Equity program is working for all Equity Applicants and with the aim of rebuilding the communities damaged by the War on Drugs.

This historic ruling signals that there are paths to business ownership in the new cannabis economy for those who have been targeted by racist cannabis policies. The hope is that the SFEG model can serve as a model for other municipalities and that the Equity concept become tied to the national conversation on repeal of Cannabis Prohibition.

A post from SFEG marking the occasion can be read here and below. A video replay of the hearing can be viewed here (scroll to 4 hours and 26 mins).

420 Bill: What The US Can Learn From Canada’s Weed Market

The Canadian marijuana market started off with a bang when it became legal in 2018. However, fast-forward a few months, things are looking a little different. Now, with the introduction of the U.S. 420 Bill aiming to legalize adult-use marijuana federally, there are some things Canada’s market can teach the states.

Some stores are running out of supplies so fast, they need to close shop for four days a week and most notably, the black market is thriving. In 2019, it is said the black market will control 71% of the industry in Canada. With the US making strides forward to legalize marijuana federally with the recently introduced 420 Bill, there are certain things the country can learn from Canada.

A few glaring issues are:

  • Ensuring there is enough supply for the demand
  • Have regulations for edibles set out clearly
  • Watch the black market closely – as taxes and supply can help drive it stronger
  • Have a good process for looking over licenses and applications

Colorado Cannabis Firm Names New President, Matthew Willer

STWC Holdings, Inc. (OTCPK: STWC), the nation’s foremost consulting firm in the development of cannabis-related businesses, has promoted Matthew Willer to the position as president of the company.

STWC, also known as Strainwise, made its announcement about Willer’s appointment in the company’s recent 8K filing, and he is expected to enhance the company’s business development and marketing emphasis. He is also expected to lend his financial expertise to STWC’s efforts in the area of capitalization to support growth plans.

“Matt has been intimately involved in all aspects of the company, and his analytical skills have directly led to some key opportunities for Strainwise,” said Erin Phillips, chief executive officer, who recently held the dual roles of CEO/president. “By handing him this greater authority, we will leverage his talent throughout the organization in the most efficient manner.”

He has a long history of raising capital for companies in start-up and/or growth mode, and he has extensive experience in taking companies public. As president and a director of Assure Holdings Corp., he helped lead the company into the public market and achieve a public listing. Under his direction, the company experienced a fourfold increase in market capitalization during a 12-month period. He has his bachelor’s degree in finance and management from the University of Southern California. Previously, he was president of the U.S. division of Xylitol Canada, and the company increased its revenues tenfold while he was there.

“For nearly 20 years I have focused on helping small, public or soon-to-be-public organizations in executing upon their business plans and managing their capital markets initiatives” he said. “Historically I’ve been very successful entering companies that are in an attractive, growing industry that have strong management and vision.  Strainwise is precisely this type of entity, and I’m confident that coupling my expertise with management’s vision and expertise can translate to increased shareholder value.”

Veterans Medical Marijuana Access Legislation Introduced In House And Senate

Today, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.

Under existing regulations, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out the mandatory paperwork necessary to recommend cannabis therapy in those 33 states that regulate it. Passage of The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act ends this discrimination against veterans and prevents sanctions against VA doctors who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment to their patients.

“The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would provide crucial medical and civil protections for the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve this country. It is unconscionable that these brave individuals who protect our nation’s freedoms would be treated as criminals when they return home just for treating their medical ailments with a safe and effective option,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “We applaud and appreciate the leadership by Senator Schatz and Rep. Lee in putting forward this legislation.”

“Historically, veteran and military communities have long been at the forefront of American social change, catalyzing the widespread acceptance of evolving cultural norms and perceptions surrounding racial, gender, and sexual equality. The therapeutic use of cannabis by veterans follows this trend and members of Congress should follow their lead and pass the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act,” Strekal concluded.

“In 33 states, doctors and their patients have the option to use medical marijuana to manage pain—unless those doctors work for the VA and their patients are veterans,” Senator Schatz said. “This bill gives VA doctors in these states the option to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans, and it also promises to shed light on how medical marijuana can help with the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

“As the daughter of a veteran, I am committed to ensuring that our veterans have access to the quality and comprehensive medical care they deserve – including medical marijuana. The current federal prohibitions on cannabis are unnecessary, harmful, and counterproductive,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The federal government should never stand between our veterans and their medicine. This critical legislation is a long overdue step to empower veterans and their doctors to make informed health care decisions, without political interference.”

You can read NORML’s Fact Sheet on Marijuana and Veterans Issues HERE.

A copy of the bill is available here.

A recent American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition. A 2017 review of over 10,000 studies by the National Academy of Sciences concluded, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for the treatment for chronic pain in adults.”

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NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high-quality marijuana that is safe, convenient, and affordable.

Find out more at www.norml.org and see our factsheets at www.norml.org/marijuana/fact-sheets

Cannabis Event Expert Discusses Being Gay In Marijuana Industry

Being a member of the LGBT community while making a living in the world of cannabis has been a learning curve for many, including Josh Crossney. Crossney is an advocate and entrepreneur in the industry who can speak from first-hand experience about what it’s like being gay in the cannabis world.

The Cannabis Connection

Crossney founded the Cannabis Science Conference (CSC), which is the world’s largest and most technical cannabis science expo. He recently announced the first East Coast CSC will be held in Baltimore in April 2019. For East Coast CSC keynote speakers, he has secured celebrities Montel Williams and Ricki Lake.

Crossney is also on the advisory board for CannaKids, a writer for Medical Jane and the host of Medical Cannabis Report. His experience in the industry can help educate others in the LGBT community what to expect when first getting involved, how to get their foot in the door and more.

LGBT Community in Cannabis

Crossney sees that while the cannabis industry certainly is more welcoming to the LGBT community than it was, there is still a lot that needs to be done. He is determined to be the voice of change for this through networking, being open and letting others know it’s okay to be gay in a straight-male dominated field.