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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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Cannabis legalization rules

By Dalton Rosario

“History is rarely made at the first attempt... But eventually barriers do fall to those who are committed to breaking them down. Certainly I am disappointed, but we are not defeated.” 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

Long Story Short. Legislative efforts to expand NJ’s medical cannabis program and expungements program fell through Monday, March 25th as the Legislature was not able to secure enough support, despite increasing momentum for legalizing adult cannabis consumption. 


Gimme the Juice! The Democratic majority largely supported the emerging cannabis legislation; however, Democratic leaders representing predominately urban areas believed the bill did not do enough to aid lower socio-economic neighborhoods. They argued the bill favored the profitability of the industry at large, rather than contributing to the betterment of communities of color targeted most directly by law enforcement. 


So What’s the Bottom Line? State lawmakers are optimistic about adult cannabis consumption passing in New Jersey, but the question on everybody’s mind is how soon. Ideally, the vote would have been secured before NJ’s July 1st new state budget deadline. But with the failed vote this past Monday, speculation has already hinted that such a heavily debated topic would be untouchable by Assembly members during re-election campaigns in the late summer and early Fall. The next vote for the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act can come as soon as November.     


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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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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.

William Barr Picture

By Dalton Rosario

Earlier in January President Trump’s U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr openly addressed his stance on supporting cannabis companies that have lawfully complied with state policies and regulations legalizing recreational and/or medicinal cannabis under the Cole Memorandum. This news was well received by cannabis advocates, lawmakers and industry leaders who were reluctant on what to make of William Barr’s stance towards cannabis legalization, particularly after former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions who was vehemently opposed to any forms of cannabis legislation, to the point of rescinding the Obama-era Cole Memorandum in January 2018. 

To those unfamiliar with the Cole Memo, it is an invaluable piece of legislation that catapulted the cannabis market into a viable national industry by granting the Justice Department orders to not enforce federal prohibition within states that had “legalized marijuana in some form and… implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana.” Although full-proof for all practical purposes, the Department of Justice was also granted discretionary leeway to enforce federal prohibition within states that have legalized cannabis, as long as doing so prevents violence related to the cultivation and/or distribution of cannabis, reduces cannabis-related DWI’s, and discontinues revenues from getting into the hands of gangs or cartel networks. 

Based on Barr’s written response to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), AG nominee Barr supports “the expansion of marijuana manufacturers for scientific research consistent with the law,” increasing the number of institutions permitted to grow cannabis specifically for the purpose of medical research. This would be done by Barr overturning Sessions’ ban on the Department of Justice moving forward with any of its stalled applications for medical facility growers. Furthermore, Barr pledged to look into scientific evaluations of CBD and its rescheduling under the Controlled Substances Act, based upon federal acceptance of hemp-derived products lawfully manufactured under the 2018 Farm Bill. Given Barr’s written confirmation supporting cannabis initiatives, in the words of Don Murphy, Director of Federal Policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, “William Barr didn’t just wave the white flag, he signed a peace agreement.”