A new first for cannabis businesses recently took place, with the first initial public offering on a U.S. stock exchange by a marijuana producer. Ontario, Canada-based cannabis conglomerate Tilray went public on New York NASDAQ recently. The stock price spiked 30 percent in one day proving what we have been saying all along: cannabis is very, very good for business. According to a report from Quartz, investors rated the value of Tilray at time at $2.65 billion. Continue reading
After months of anticipation, Canada has officially become the second country in the world to legalize adult-use cannabis after Senate recently passed the long-awaited bill. Uruguay was the first country to pass legalization measures, with sales starting last year. Canada’s size and global standing, however, give it a unique opportunity to set the tone for what legal marijuana could look like for the rest of the world. It will still be a couple months of preparations, though, before legal sales can begin, according to Los Angeles Times.
Uruguay has had a complicated relationship with legalization, primarily because the motivation was to regulate out-of-control crime syndicates related to the black market marijuana industry. An micro-managed infrastructure has made for a rocky start getting the legal economy off the ground, but officials are still confident their plans will help eventually neutralize illegal sales. Continue reading
Time is almost up for marijuana business owners to achieve full compliance of testing and packaging regulations. For six months, businesses have enjoyed a grace period that allowed them to sell marijuana products that were not in total compliance so long as they included a label indicating any safety standards the product did not meet. As of July 1, owners must clear their shelves of all product that does not meet regulations, resulting in an influx of cannabis sales in the month of June and could lead to an impending shortage, according to the Orange County Register.
When Proposition 64 went into effect Jan. 1, it brought with it new sets of rules in regards to recreational marijuana sales. Because marijuana products were already in production long before then, having served the medical marijuana market for almost 20 years, California imposed a grace period in which production and labeling regulations could catch up. This led to retailers bulking up on less expensive products that were not in total compliance at the end of 2017 to keep their stores well stocked in the first half of the year. Now they will need to clear their shelves of any remnants of that stock. Meanwhile, owners will be clamoring to replace that inventory with new products that meet regulations. Continue reading
It’s time for California to take a serious look at taxes that state and local governments are imposing on cannabis business owners. Some legislators agree, but others think the higher taxes should stand, at least for a while longer. For now, the current tax rate will remain, as an assembly bill addressing cannabis taxation failed to advance out of committee, according to an Associated Press report.
AB-3157 seeks to amend The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which currently sets the excise tax rate at 15 percent of the average market price. The new proposal would drop the excise tax rate to 11 percent and suspend the cultivation tax, with each expiring June 21, 2021. Right now, when excise and cultivation taxes are combined with sales tax, county, and city taxes the total tax rate can be almost 50 percent. Some fear this high of a tax rate is driving people to purchase marijuana on the black market, instead. There is some compelling evidence to back that claim. Continue reading
The continued expansion of legalized marijuana in states is leading to one surprising result: overproduction of cannabis. Oregon in particular is reporting an excess in cannabis production, which is driving down the price of marijuana at dispensaries across the state, according to Associated Press. As a result, growers are exploring more options, including hemp (a low-THC strain of cannabis used in industrial goods) and CBD oil (made from the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana, cannabidiol).
It’s hard not to recognize the irony in this latest advancement: while hemp is a benign, useful resource that makes excellent, durable fabric, paper products, and oils, it was marijuana that helped usher it back into the spotlight. Marijuana has now been legalized in 29 states and Washington, D.C., at least for medical use with a handful also allowing recreational. This is in defiance of federal regulations prohibiting the sale or use of marijuana. California was the first to allow medical use with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. It wasn’t until 2014, however, that the Agricultural Act, Sec. 7606 allowed agricultural departments and higher learning institutions to start cultivating hemp for research. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently spoke in favor of a bill that would give power over hemp regulation to the states. Continue reading
Spice, K2, synthetic marijuana: whatever you call it, we know these alleged cannabis knockoffs have about as much in common with the natural drug as a circle to a square. Lawmakers have long been chasing down these dangerous substances, to no avail. But the Illinois State Senate is taking steps to close loopholes that manufacturers have been manipulating once and for all, according to Chicago Tribune.
SB-2341 would expand the list of Schedule I controlled substances to include all synthetic cannabinoids not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is a departure from current methods to control the substance, which has largely involved outlawing by formula. As our cannabis business attorneys can attest, this has so far been a fruitless system of control because each time a formula or chemical is outlawed, manufacturers alter it enough that it qualifies as a new substance. Just like that, a new synthetic cannabinoid is back on the market, but not necessarily any safer. The new law, if passed, would put the onus of proof on the manufacturer that a synthetic cannabinoid is safe rather than government officials proving the substances to be dangerous after they have already hit the market. Continue reading
Online media giant YouTube has enacted a host of more stringent enforcement guidelines, seemingly at random, restricting and even shutting down many channels its representatives claim violate its policies. Gun-related channels in particular have come under scrutiny. A bit more perplexing, however, is the site’s more aggressive stance against cannabis-related videos recently, sending warnings, flagging content, and shutting down entire channels, particularly those that seek to educate and advocate. Even after complying with warnings, channel owners said they were suspended. Many of the channels had been around for years, some almost since the beginning of YouTube, according to a Leafly article.
In the early days of legalization, before marijuana reached the popularity it is enjoying today, the Internet was the best place for cannabis advocates, business owners, and medical practitioners to learn and to share information. YouTube has always played a big part in that. The highly visual platform was an ideal way to show growing methods and techniques to people on the other side of the country. Today, a bounty of resources exists, but these ground floor YouTube channels still have a wealth of experience to offer. Continue reading
For many cannabis businesses, social media seems like the ideal place to advertise. Facebook provides many tools for advertisers that allow them to focus their audience in a way that would be extraordinarily beneficial for marijuana products and dispensaries. They would be able to narrow down the viewers to only include people in states where cannabis is legal. They would also be able to add age restrictions, ensuring as much as possible that minors would not be exposed to the ads. It’s really a win-win, except for one very annoying catch.
Marijuana businesses are prohibited from advertising on Google or Facebook.
A recent report from Washington Post examined the challenges marijuana businesses face advertising to their customers while pot remains illegal under federal Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 812. The act outlines guidelines by which to classify certain drugs based on how dangerous a risk they pose, whether they have any medical benefits, and if they are addictive. Currently, marijuana is Schedule I, the most restricted classification on the list, despite no evidence it fits any of those qualifiers. That very same act (under Section 843) states “It shall be unlawful for any person to place in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publications, any written advertisement knowing that it has the purpose of seeking or offering illegally to receive, buy, or distribute a Schedule I controlled substance.”
So how are there so many marijuana ads out there?
There are many questions that have been answered with the legalization of recreational marijuana in California.
- What? Proposition 64 was approved by voters and made legal adult-use marijuana.
- Who? Residents 21 years or older.
- When? As of Jan. 1, 2018.
- Where? Now, that’s a trickier matter.
Firstly, the state law did not automatically go into effect everywhere. From county to county, city to city, local governments have been making decisions about whether to maintain a ban on recreational cannabis or to legalize and set up regulations. Some of the big cities, like Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego have permitted recreational sales. Some areas, like Orange County, cultivation is allowed with restrictions, but manufacturing and retail are banned. Los Angeles took a different route, allowing retail but not cultivation or manufacturing. Other counties, like San Bernadino, don’t permit any recreational cannabis activity.
While many Californians are finally enjoying the freedom to use recreational marijuana, some are questioning how safe their private information is when they make a purchase. When Proposition 64 went into effect Jan. 1, adult-use marijuana became legal in the state, with local governments able to set up their own regulations or bans. But there are currently loopholes that threaten the privacy of customers.
Assembly Bill 2402 seeks to tighten those loopholes. Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) introduced the bill, which would prevent cannabis retailers from selling customer information to third parties. It would also protect customer information from employers looking to investigate employee use, according to Capital Public Radio. It mirrors similar rules that are currently in place for medical marijuana users.
Because you must be 21 or older to purchase cannabis in California, dispensaries require a valid ID to prove your age. Though it is not mandatory, some dispensaries will keep a record of the information on file. Some use this information for marketing purposes. Many also keep such records in order to monitor how much someone is purchasing in a day, according to Politifact. This could be necessary if a business needed to prove they are in compliance with state law, which caps individual recreational marijuana sales to one ounce per day. Continue reading