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By Dalton Rosario

“This is a crisis!”
Jackie McGowan, K Street Consulting Licensing Expert


Long Story Short. At the beginning of 2019 California had 6,924 temporarily registered cannabis farms, including a total number of growers with licenses that are expiring at a rate faster than annual and provisional licenses are being issued by the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA). This spells a pending crisis in supply shortages if not rectified by the state.     


Gimme the Juice! Of the 3,300 back-logged license applications, the CDFA has so far approved only 500 annual and provisional cannabis farming licenses. This means at best, the state of California will have access to 1,500 registered cultivation farms by the end of the month and at worst, just 1,000 based on the pending rate of license expirations.    


So What’s the Bottom Line? California state regulators and the CDFA have a vested interest in the success of the cannabis industry and its stable growth. They are ramping up efforts to register as many temporary licenses as possible at a nearly 100% guarantee approval rate, so long as cultivators file a provisional license. For some perspective, only 5 applications had received licensing at the beginning of March, which had increased to 500 approvals by the 31st. With that said, at the current rate of expirations and provisional licenses being administered, by early May half of the current 6,924 temporary cannabis farming licenses will have already expired.  


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Trulieve Logo

By Dalton Rosario

“Conveniently located medical marijuana dispensaries promote authorized users’ improved access to medical marijuana products and related information and services, at lower cost, and promote public safety.”
Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers


Long Story Short. Florida Health Officials are allowing the state’s largest medical cannabis manufacturer - Trulieve - to open more dispensaries than the State law limits; totaling 49 retail locations.     


Gimme the Juice! Florida’s medical cannabis program caps dispensary operators at 25 locations statewide. This limit increases as more companies enter the emerging market. The outcome was supposed to create a level-playing field and reduce the risk of market monopolies. This limit has risen to 35 locations per operator since, and will be in place until April 2020.    


So What’s the Bottom Line? Reducing product availability does not help the end-user in any way, and even adds unnecessary barriers of entry for companies looking to take a foothold in Florida’s medical cannabis market. Trulieve has set the precedence by being allowed to lawfully open a total of 49 dispensaries. This amount includes the original 14 locations they started in business with, plus the additional 35 retail store limit to be revoked from state law in April 2020.


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Cannabis for Pets

By Dalton Rosario

“It’s a Wild West... There’s not a lot of science behind it. That’s what we’re up against right now.”

Susan Curtis, Executive Director of Massachusetts’ Medical Association 

Long Story Short. The pet market is the largest growing niche within the CBD Market for states that have legalized cannabis.


Gimme the Juice! Particularly in Massachusetts, Veterinarians are reporting increasingly more cases of pet-owners giving cannabis-derived products to their pets to treat their ailments. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Veterinarians and pet-owners are in favor of medication that mitigates pain in animals; however, Massachusetts law strictly enforces punishable offensives for licensed vets that recommended cannabis to a pet that experiences adverse side effects.    


So What’s the Bottom Line? Veterinarians confirm from pet-owners that cannabis and CBD derivatives work wonders for pets with a myriad of health conditions. But without the proper scientific research to back these claims, even though Vets are doing what is morally right to reduce pain in these animals, they are still unlawfully recommending medications that they can and will be held accountable for under state law.     


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Rainbow Flag with Cannabis leaf

By Dalton Rosario

“I had to make a decision on whether I would be my 100% true and authentic self, or if I would "tone down" my image/persona to try and fit into people's idea of what a cannabis entrepreneur should look or act like.”
Josh Crossney, CEO of the Cannabis Science Conference


Long Story Short. National cannabis legalization is historically rooted with the LGBTQ community’s fight for acceptance since the early 80’s, so why do industry insiders feel the cannabis market is leaving behind some of their founding members?


Gimme the Juice! The cannabis industry overlooks LGBTQ representation despite acceptance of marijuana use and legalization having direct parallels to the cultural shift of mainstream acceptance for the LGBTQ community; including legislative implementation of the same liberties and rights we all enjoy.


So What’s the Bottom Line? Similarly to how the national conversation of cannabis restitutions revolve around lower socio-economic neighborhoods and communities of color having equal inclusion in the economic opportunities to be gained in the emerging cannabis market; this narrative must also include representation from the LGBTQ community which has fought alongside pro-cannabis legalization from the very beginning.   


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Hand holding paper with a print of Cannabis leaf

By Dalton Rosario

“This legislation will establish an industry that brings fairness and economic opportunity to all of our communities, while promoting public safety by ensuring a safe product and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on serious crimes,”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy


Long Story Short. New Jersey is on path to sanction indoor & outdoor cannabis lounges, cannabis delivery services and cannabis dispensaries.


Gimme the Juice! NJ's Cannabis Regulatory Commission would oversee residential cannabis deliveries, exempt NJ’s 42,500 medical cannabis patients from the 3% recreational sales tax, and casinos/hotels could use 20% of their facilities for consumption lounges.   


So What’s the Bottom Line? As early as march 25, 2019 NJ lawmakers will vote on this pro-cannabis legislation that, if passed, will implement a state-wide multimillion dollar industry before year’s end. 


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Paper Roll

By Dalton Rosario

Today our 116th Congress met at the first cannabis hearing of the year to discuss the SAFE Banking Act, which aims to draft legislation that provides banks and credit unions with precautionary provisions for handling legitimate cannabis proceeds from licensed businesses without fear of being flagged by the federal government and IRS for money laundering and dealings with illicit criminal activity. This is a major step in ending federal prohibition, as all legal industries require the services of financial institutions, particularly for cash-heavy sectors like the cannabis industry. Not only does this increase the public safety and wellbeing of these businesses, their employees and our communities, but also it creates the necessary transparency for cannabis markets to be taxed, regulated and held accountable for the proceeds of their daily dealings at the state and federal level. Furthermore, by banks investing in local cannabis companies and providing financial resources and services, the cannabis industry will wholly embrace a previously unattainable level of standardization that has been lacking; making cannabis seem less like a favorable market commodity and more like a potential hazard and financial liability for those congressman, governors and state lawmakers who seek to pass pro-cannabis legislation but lack the infrastructure and support from our federal government to do so. 

Local banks require protection in their dealings with cannabis companies, which have been by and large outright denied in their undertakings of standardized services that all other commercial industries have access to across the country. Whether that be in the form of unfavorable cash deposit rates, the inability to request a line of credit or restrictions on filing for annual tax exemptions based on U.S. Code Section 280E. Ending cannabis prohibition is not just administered through statewide legalization, but through policy reformation and legislative provisions impacting all satellite sectors and services surrounding the cash cow commodity that this bustling industry relies on. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, nearly 500 financial institutions across the country support cannabis businesses. And although this shows a rising support from Corporate America favoring the legitimacy of this estimated $50 Billion cannabis industry in just a few short years, as it stands only one-third of all licensed retailers, distributors and cultivators have reliable dealings with banks and credit unions. - An unheard of statistic with no parallels in our country's commercial marketplace.    

Chart of Hemp Based Products

By Dalton Rosario

America’s former number one cash crop has been aggregating spectacular developments in allocation of lands cultivated and state pilot programs sprouting throughout the nation. After having been legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill, the hemp crop and its derivates of industrial production have been removed from the Controlled Substances Act and has been administered into the hands of the Department of Agriculture rather than penal enforcement and scrutiny under the restrictions of the Justice Department.

Investments in industrial hemp manufacturing have increased exponentially in the past two years. 78,000 acres of hemp spanning across 17 states have been cultivated; particularly for increased demand of CBD products booming in markets across America due to its legal status, non-psychoactive properties and medicinal value as a healthy alternative to opioid prescriptions and rehabilitative treatments for opioid dependence and addition. This year alone hemp is expected to ramp up its production to an estimated 125,000 acres being planted across the country. That is more acres of hemp lands cultivated than the past two years combined. As of 2017 the U.S. industrial hemp market was already valued at $820 million, and based on how licensed cultivation and sponsored state programs have exponentially increased years since, it is not far fetched to classify the current valuation of hemp within our nation to have the capacity to build into a billion dollar industry. America’s cash cow is back in business. - And business is booming.  

Cannabis Legalization in Mexico

By Dalton Rosario

Mexico has been leading the world stage in terms of embracing cannabis reformation fine-tuned to the insights established from the trial-and-error legislations that have been sanctioned in progressive states throughout the U.S., and from the examples set forth by global cannabis market leaders like Canada and Germany. Mexico’s Senate released a formal report establishing processes and provisions for ending cannabis prohibition, thereby developing the legal commodity as a viable commercial product with sound market infrastructure. Global cannabis platforms welcomed news of this momentum following the Mexican Supreme Court determining the unconstitutional nature of criminalizing adult cannabis consumption just months prior. The Mexican Senate has expressed clear consideration for wanting to avoid common pitfalls surrounding legalization which consists of countries, provinces or states rushing into policy reformations that favor consumerism and financial incentives which prioritize tax surplus revenues injected into local economies over well-thought out public health and safety regulations which benefit the people and their respective communities. 

This is reflected in the Senate necessitating market structures that undercut any incentives for the continuance of a black market post-legalization due to inconsistencies with product quality standards, pricing and availability. Doing so first requires agreeable sales tax proposals for licensed cultivators and distributors, as well as consistency in regulated retail pricing, determined by dispensaries and their access to growers so they can successfully meet market demands. Once established, there will need to be transparency between licensed cultivators and quality assurance testing centers that have standardized reliable and accountable THC and CBD consistencies per strain, and potency levels of extracts and concentrates to be sold on the market or recommended by doctors and physicians for medical prescription use.

The Mexican Senate is reverse engineering cannabis reformation with a keen understanding for the meticulous implementation of practical policies that parallel a 2018 report by the Global Drug Policy Commission - which found that the best way to combat the mishaps of cannabis prohibition and its residual effects of violent crimes, racially motivated arrests rates, and continued marginalization of poverty stricken communities - is to authorize a highly regulated market infrastructure that prioritizes public health over commercial proceeds allowing for a robust industry of commerce. 

Cannabis Flag

By Dalton Rosario

Capital Hill welcomed a series of pro-cannabis bills filed consecutively this week by Oregon Democratic State Senator Ron Wyden. These legislations titled S.420, S.421 and S.422 seek to implement realistic milestones for granting federally legal cannabis provisions along with all of the benefits fitting for legitimately licensed businesses that facilitate state-level market demand and nationwide distribution. Wyden like many state lawmakers have taken ownership of the budding opinions from voters supported by popular demand. As detailed in a written statement to the press, “Federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed.”  For this reason S.420 has been scripted with the intent of de-scheduling cannabis; calling for its immediate removal from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which alleviates legality disputes between federal and state law by establishing uniform federal taxes on all cannabis sales as well as sponsoring business permit registration programs for companies entering or already established within the industry. 

The two follow-up bills S.421 and S.422 aim to bridge the gap between nationwide versus state-side cannabis policies by proposing means for federal banks to safely provide financial services for cannabis companies as well as sanctioning the removal of constraints against cannabis companies being able to advertise their products and services on traditional platforms such as social media marketing and aired ads on television. Likewise, S.421 demands the immediate expungement of non-violent cannabis convictions, as well as allowing doctors and licensed physicians to prescribe medical grade cannabis for our Department of Veterans Affairs and making sure that immigrants cannot be deported for non-violent cannabis-related arrests. Bill S.422 follows suit by allowing cannabis companies to file for tax deductions that are currently unavailable for business owners despite being common practice across all other industries within the U.S. There is much anticipation for what 2019 has in store for reformation policies unapologetically targeting cannabis probation and ending the decades of abuse by the enforcement of the war on drugs and its residual effects on our communities.

Marijuana Laws

By Dalton Rosario

On February 13th the first congressional cannabis hearing will be held before the House Financial Services subcommittee and the Consumer Protection subcommittee to address the problems and solutions related to statewide cannabis businesses working with federal banking services. This is a contentious topic due to cannabis’ current status of federal prohibition even though states across the nation are moving forward with cannabis legalization. The clear problem is that despite legislation outlining policies for banks to follow when dealing with strictly cash-based cannabis proceeds, many banks opt out of the risk associated with handling accounts for cannabis businesses due to the complicated restrictions and gray-area legalities it falls within; and the corresponding penalties if there is a breach of policy that could close the down the bank entirely. 

As it stands for most banks the risk is not worth the reward. But can it be? That is what the 116th Congress seeks to prove next week. It is clear that criminalizing cannabis has failed the people as a federal policy. Reformations and restitutions are at the top of legislators’ list of amendments to pass into law by the end of 2019. These policy shifts require an infrastructure in place that provides transparency between banking institutions and home-grown businesses that benefit public safety by nullifying illicit drug markets. The most immediate method for doing so is by granting depository regulations for cash circulating large-scale cannabis operations, which will only intensify as more states open avenues for cannabis markets to lawfully partake in their state economy as a legitimate industry with all of the necessary licensing, taxation and regulations set in place. Even though the only permanent method is to address cannabis legalization on a national scale, ending federal prohibition and its residual counter-effects once and for all.