Ascend Wellness Holdings: Corporate Advocacy In Cannabis Criminal Justice Reform – Forbes

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Ascend Wellness Holdings

In recent weeks, nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality have drawn attention to the stark racial disparities within the cannabis industry. Advocates have rightfully pointed out the fact that Black individuals are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession and five times more likely to go to prison compared to white individuals, even though both demographics consume the plant at roughly the same rate. It’s no secret that cannabis laws have been historically used by law enforcement to target Black and brown communities. While white entrepreneurs are currently able to legally operate cannabis cultivation and retail businesses, a disproportionate number of Black Americans are still incarcerated for selling the same plant. To make matters even worse, most of these individuals are barred from working in the legal industry even after they are released from prison because of their criminal records. 

Ascend Wellness Holdings, or AWH, the leading private multi-state operator (MSO) in the U.S., believes that the onus is now on legal corporations to tackle cannabis criminal justice reform. Earlier this week, the company became the first MSO to match customer donations to Last Prisoner Project (LPP), the most visible nonprofit organization dedicated to clemency and expungement, re-entry programs and advocacy for individuals with cannabis convictions. 

AWH is committed to raising a total of $250,000 for Last Prisoner Project initiatives by the end of the year. Starting on July 1, the operator will launch a three tiered approach to garner social awareness and provide financial support for LPP.  AWH retailers in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Jersey will ask customers to voluntarily donate one dollar to the organization at checkout and offer participating customers entry into a monthly raffle for a gift certificate prize. Local retailers will raise awareness for LPP by providing customers with  postcards that feature the stories of individuals who have been harmed by the criminalization of cannabis. 

The inception of this program began at the executive level. AWH Founder Abner Kurtin was compelled to leverage his company’s influence and resources to create a more equitable and just cannabis industry after learning about Michael Thompson, a Black Michigan man currently serving a 60 year sentence for selling cannabis in the 1990s. 

“Legal companies can no longer stand idly by and profit off of cannabis while individuals like Michael Thompson are essentially serving a life sentence,” said Kurtin. “This is the largest financial commitment made to Last Prisoner Project by an MSO, and we are proud to lead the way towards corporate responsibility and providing greater financial commitments to LPP from the industry.”

Executives also recognized that tangible cannabis justice extends beyond clemency and must offer formerly incarcerated individuals a seat at the table. The company was especially determined to partner with Last Prisoner Project because of the organization’s re-entry and training programs. 

“As part of our company ethos, we’ve built external local partnerships to recruit and hire employees who come through re-entry programs, and we offer record-sealing clinics, but we needed to do something bigger and more impactful, said Andrea Cabral,” CEO of Ascend Mass.  “The harm caused by the over-policing and over-prosecution of Black and brown people, especially for cannabis, is ongoing and for many as relentless as it’s ever been. LPP’s precise mission to change laws, change policies, build job skills and support networks is what ultimately drew us to the organization.”

LPP Logo on black

LPP logo on black (1)

Last Prisoner Project

In the coming months, AWH will incorporate Last Prisoner Project donations in all future dispensary launches and initiate an e-commerce and text message campaign to benefit LPP. The company is also planning to roll out a campaign among Illinois retailers that will name a flower strain after a local LPP client, highlight the individual’s life story and donate a portion of product sales back to the individual.

While the fate of cannabis legal reform is still uncertain in this political climate, companies like AWH are taking actionable steps to move the needle forward for the entire industry. As corporate advocacy in the cannabis justice space gains more traction, companies aiming to rectify these systemic injustices will likely turn to AWH’s leadership for guidance. MSOs, and all legal businesses, have a unique opportunity to showcase the industry’s progressive and inclusive spirit through these long-awaited equity initiatives.

Scientific expert highlights limitations of CBD observational study – Natural Products INSIDER

At high doses, Epidiolex—the CBD medicine approved by FDA to treat seizures associated with severe and rare forms of epilepsy—has been known to cause an increase in liver enzymes.

Do non-FDA-approved CBD brands also have the potential to cause injury to the human liver? That question is the subject of a recently announced observational study that CBD brands maintained could prove valuable to U.S. regulators.

The CBD study is analogous to what FDA would describe as “post-marketing surveillance for safety,” and it would not answer all of the safety questions raised by FDA about specific products, according to one prominent researcher in the health and nutrition space, Douglas Kalman.

“Unless each company has the same identical CBD that they sell just with their own label, this study is not evaluating the same CBD,” noted Kalman, Ph.D., vice president of scientific affairs with Nutrasource, a contract research organization based in Ontario, Canada.

What’s more, FDA is looking for the kind of safety data akin to that obtained during phase 1 pharmaceutical research, which aims to minimize “extraneous variables” that may or may not affect the organ studied, Kalman said in an interview. Such factors, he said, could include things such as a person’s lifestyle habits of being a heavy alcohol drinker or tobacco user, or using a prescription medication.

Based on the news release announcing the study, Kalman described the information to be collected as “observational consumer behavior data.”

“Maybe there will be some safety elements captured, but for sure, this is not what the FDA is looking for in terms of its request for the CBD community to submit safety data about their products,” he concluded.

Kalman referenced a March 5 statement from FDA’s commissioner, Stephen Hahn, M.D., in which he raised questions about potential harm from CBD products, including liver injury, interactions with other drugs, male reproductive toxicity, and such side effects as drowsiness.

“In addition, there is still much we do not know about other potential risks,” Hahn said. “For example, other than the approved prescription drug, we know little about the potential effects of sustained and/or cumulative use of CBD, co-administration with other medicines, or the risks to vulnerable populations like children, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, unborn children and certain animal populations.”

Added Hahn: “This does not mean that we know CBD is unsafe to these populations or under these circumstances, but given the gaps in our current knowledge, and the known risks that have been identified, we also are not at a point where we can conclude that unapproved CBD products are safe for use.”

An FDA spokesman, Nathan Arnold, didn’t comment on the observational study in particular, but he noted the importance of developing high-quality data.

“The marketplace for CBD-containing products is quickly evolving and it is critical to develop high-quality data to close the knowledge gaps about the science, safety and quality of many of these products, as well as further evaluate any potential benefits outside of the one FDA-approved drug product to treat two rare, severe pediatric epilepsy disorders,” Arnold said in an email. “We welcome reliable and high-quality data and will continue to engage with stakeholders who want to work toward this goal.”

Patrick McCarthy is co-founder and CEO of ValidCare, a Colorado-based provider of clinical research outsourcing and consumer intelligence spearheading the CBD study. He said he anticipates close to 1,000 consumers participating in the study. Through the collection of individuals’ medical history, a requirement for participants, the study will account for such variables as “health conditions, lifestyle and medication/supplement uses,” McCarthy said via email.

“These variables have potential to inform the regulatory path and instruct further research,” he added.

Focus on liver enzymes

McCarthy said researchers will analyze three other liver function tests if they identify elevations in the primary endpoint known as ALT—alanine transaminase, an enzyme found in the liver. In controlled studies for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, the developer of Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals plc, reported “the incidence of ALT elevations above 3 times the upper limit of normal (ULN) was 13% in Epidiolex-treated patients compared with 1% in patients on placebo.”

Kalman “is correct that the design is akin to post-market surveillance and that multiple products are incorporated into the study,” McCarthy said. “This is purposeful, as the goal is to determine whether a safety issue exists with oral CBD products currently available in this unregulated market.”

In the observational study, variables, such as age, comorbidities, consumption amount, extraction method, lifestyle and sex, will be “observed for statistical significance,” McCarthy said. He acknowledged “no study is perfect,” but he said FDA has noted its “primary concern is liver safety.”

The study’s findings are “expected to provide clarity for FDA, brands and the American consumer,” he said. “It will undoubtedly raise questions and the opportunity for more targeted product-specific research, which is good for industry and the consumer.”

After reviewing McCarthy’s comments about the study, Kalman said „many covariates and factors [are] in play here.”

„Statistical controls cannot always properly account for these covariates, especially in a meaningful informed way (my perspective),” he wrote in an email. But he said the data that will be generated in the observational study „may be viewed more as a part of the overall bigger picture regarding hemp-derived CBD products in the marketplace.”

The observational “study focuses directly on the FDA’s concern” about elevated liver enzymes in patients taking high doses of Epidiolex—10 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of CBD daily in an oral solution, or greater than 700 mg for an average-sized adult, said Rosemary Mazanet, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Columbia Care, a cultivator, manufacturer and provider of medical and adult use cannabis products.

“The goal of this study is to deliver ‘real world evidence’ about liver function that is associated with current consumer use of doses of 20-60 mg daily of commercially available high-quality products,” Mazanet said in an email. “The resulting data using these products will help the FDA and brands understand whether a consumer safety issue exists. As the FDA has provided feedback to the design of the study, we believe that the findings will be credible to the regulators.”

Columbia Care is one of the seven companies that have committed to participating in the study. Other participants include Boulder Botanical & Bioscience Labs, CBDistillery, Charlotte’s Web, CBD American Shaman, HempFusion and Kannaway.

Financial constraints

“Observational human toxicology” has “value,” said Jason Mitchell, co-founder and president of HempFusion, though he acknowledged its limitations.

“Is it a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover randomized study?” he asked. “No, it is not.”

He added later, “There’s always better research that can be done, but here’s the problem: We don’t have a lot of people lining up to fund it.”

Case in point: Although ValidCare divulged screening more than 100 brands to participate in the research, the reasons other brands didn’t participate in the study, McCarthy noted, were related to one or more factors, including a dearth of funds (over 50%), a belief FDA won’t “act on the data” and concerns that asking customers to participate could “scare” them.

Companies also reported plans to conduct their own studies as part of an investigational new drug (IND) application to obtain FDA approval for products, and the “brand or processor doesn’t think it was their job to do research (about 20%) or that FDA should treat CBD from hemp as a supplement and allow GRAS,” McCarthy explained via email.

Mitchell questioned the integrity of companies that don’t think it’s their “job” to conduct safety research.

“[It’s] always your job and your responsibility to prove, or do everything that you can, to show that what you’re selling is a safe product for human consumption,” he said.

The businessman, however, was sympathetic to financial constraints facing the industry. “To be quite frank, you see companies that are declaring bankruptcy or going into receivership or flat-out just going out of business,” he remarked.

The kind of research Nutrasource’s Kalman described, Mitchell noted after a reporter summed up his remarks, would come at a considerably “higher price tag” than the observational study. McCarthy confirmed each of the seven companies participating in the research has contributed more than $100,000 to the endeavor.

“I have nothing but respect for what the gentleman [Kalman] is saying should be done, but I think this [observational study] is a great step in the right direction,” Mitchell said.

FDA regulations

Some marketers of CBD, Kalman said, are investing in animal and human safety studies that are “more akin to pharmaceutical safety drug development” and would form part of a package for new dietary ingredient notifications (NDINs) to FDA. Such notifications are a key safety mechanism required by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

But as Natural Products Insider reported in February, the CBD industry faces a catch-22: FDA isn’t willing to review safety information through a traditional regulatory pathway to market—the NDIN route— because it has determined CBD is excluded from the definition of a dietary supplement.

Some marketers have moved to establish the safety of their hemp ingredients through another regulatory mechanism. For example, over the last 24 months, in partnership with its raw material supplier, HempFusion has been working through the self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) process, according to Mitchell. He said animal safety studies have been completed, and he anticipated data would be published in a peer-reviewed journal by July.

Commenting on the observational study, a representative of CV Sciences Inc., Duffy MacKay, said he was “encouraged to see other CBD brands accepting their obligation to consumers’ safety by making an investment into scientific research.” In 2018, CV Sciences announced receiving self-affirmed GRAS status for its hemp-derived CBD gold extract.

“We hope ValidCare plans to publish the data in a peer-reviewed journal to raise the level of legitimacy of the data,” added MacKay, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, in an email.

The availability and publication of the ValidCare research, along with current published safety data, “will support FDA’s efforts to promulgate regulations,” MacKay said.

Also commenting on the observational study, Mazanet of Columbia Care offered similar remarks. “With this evidence in hand, we hope the FDA will feel confident to begin to regulate the CBD industry, with the aim of providing quality regulations that products must meet in order to be sold,” she said.

Best Weed Smoking Accessories: Bongs, Pipes, Papers, Vaporizers & More – Thrillist

There may be more ways to enjoy cannabis than ever, but that’s even more reason to stock up on the right tools.

We independently source all of the awesome products and experiences that we feature on Thrillist. If you buy or book from the links on our site, we may receive an affiliate commission — which in turn supports our work.

Smoking weed has become a complicated affair. 

Forget learning how to roll a joint — now you need an encyclopedia and an 18-year-old neighbor to navigate the mess of acronyms and rigs and appendages presented to today’s cannabis consumer. Although, with more options comes more customization, which means more people are experiencing the kind of high they’re looking for. Not to mention, weed has never been better. And thanks to technological and legislative progress, neither has the paraphernalia. 

Here are the 7 ultimate tools every cannabis lover needs for optimal medication and recreation.

A Classic Pipe

Aero Pipe 
Price: $70
Everyone needs a pipe. I’d rather smoke from a bong any day, but if I accidentally shatter my bowl piece? Or worse? I’ll be happy to have something to smoke out of before I’m able to get out to a glass shop. If you aren’t a pro joint roller who can do it while walking against a light breeze, a pipe is infinitely more practical for outdoor adventures of most kinds. This straight shooter from Pursuits of Happiness is pricier, but its quality handmade ceramic construction ensures it can take a few knocks in stride and, if you don’t lose it, it’ll last a lifetime.

For those seeking a more discreet way to enjoy small amounts of flower at a time, seek out a “chillum.” Yes, this is a real word used to refer to slim one-hitter pipes. I don’t make the rules.

A Simple Bong

Session Bong
Price: $120
As you may have gathered, I find bongs to be the ideal method of combustion. Over half the carcinogens you’d consume via joint are removed as they filter through the water, letting you taste more of the flower’s flavors. I prefer glass, not just because it feels clean and science-y, but because it forces me to clean my pieces regularly. The Session bong is a chic version of the perfect, basic glass bong. The shape and base look good but also make sense — it’s almost impossible to tip over. Any smaller, and the water must be changed at an inconvenient pace. Before you balk at the price, know that in any smokeshop in any college town right now, every bong of decent quality glass at that size is at least $100. But unlike the last $125 piece I bought, this one won’t shatter when you knock the base into the edge of your coffee table.

Hemp Rolling Papers

High Hemp Organic Rolling Papers
Price: $17 per 10-pack
Despite everything I just said, smoking joints will never get old for me. There’s too much nostalgia and heritage and history there, and there’s nothing that can substitute an evening stroll with a joint. But there are plenty of ways to do so. Hemp papers are more sustainable than conventional rolling papers, contain minimal fibrous flavor, and provide just enough grip for rookies to easily roll one up. People really love this High Hemp brand, and if you’re looking for alternative blunt wraps, their hemp fan leaf wraps are what people first fell for. 

Flower & Oil Portable Vaporizer

Price: $200

If you love vaporizing weed, then you might look into a more established Volcano at home. But if you’re the average weed enjoyer who dabbles in all methods, a portable vaporizer that can be used to smoke real flower or straight-up concentrate is going to check all necessary boxes. Yes, this is super expensive. But it’s the only quality vaporizer that actually does all it says it does, heats the chamber in 20 seconds flat, and lasts years with proper cleaning and charging. 

This may be a hot take but…I don’t recommend  the $10 vape pens you buy with your CO2 cartridge at the dispensary. Besides the Vitamin E acetate debacle of 2019, you just have no idea of the quality of a pen unless you know where they sourced the raw parts of the pens themselves. It’s safer, and in most cases, tastier, to just buy your desired oil by the gram (or half gram, or even third of a gram in some shops) and invest in a vaporizer you’ll use for many sessions.

A Sturdy Grinder

4-Piece Santa Cruz Shredder
Price: $ 74.50

A grinder isn’t absolutely necessary for all flower consumption, but you simply can’t roll a decent joint or blunt without a good grinder. And boy, does quality matter when it comes to a grinder. Poorly-designed grinders get stuck after two turns and don’t come unstuck easily. If it isn’t the right coating or material, more of your weed gets stuck in the teeth than falls down into the chamber. I have owned the same medium-sized, 4-piece Shredder for 6+ years, and I’ve never had to clean it once. Sticky flower slides off the teeth, perfectly chopped every time, and it’s never gotten stuck, despite sitting in my cold basement and hot car trunk for months at a time.

Hemp Wick

Twisted Bee 100% organic hemp wick 
Price: $17.99

Lighters are so passe. Look inside a millennial tokers’ smoke kit and you’ll see a roll of hemp string coated in beeswax, which you can light once (ok so you still need to own a lighter, but now it will last a year instead of a month) and use throughout your session. Even when smoking solo, it eliminates the risk of inhaling butane fumes. There are a lot of options of hemp wicks and plenty work great, but Twisted Bee costs a little more and the difference in quality is noticeable. It burns even, the wax doesn’t get messy, and there are options for a thicker gauge if you want a slower burn. 

A Metal Poker Thing

Pokers by Midnight Pacific Studios
Price: $28
This is the secret weapon in any cannabis kit worth its weight. Doesn’t matter how you smoke or what you smoke — you’ll need something shaped like this at some point. From packing a joint or clearing a clogged pipe, to pulling out gunk from your bong’s downstem and grabbing a smudge of concentrate for your dab/PAX 3, this brass tool will come in handy. And when you’re done, cleaning it with a Clorox wipe or some rubbing alcohol and it’s brand new again. 

Happy toking.

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Lauren Yoshiko is a Portland-based writer and co-host of Broccoli Magazine’s podcast, Broccoli Talk. She was among the first journalists to cover the commerce and culture of cannabis starting in 2014 and her work has since appeared in Willamette Week, Forbes, Rolling Stone, and Broccoli Magazine, among others. Follow her on Instagram at @laurenyoshiko for Portland breakfast sandwich recs, stoned nail art, and moderate cat content.

This Cannabis Entrepreneur’s Message To New York On The Question Of Legalization Is, ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ – Forbes

″What are you waiting for?″ entrepreneur Howard Lee asks about New York's option to legalize adult use marijuana.

New York State could make up some of its Covid losses by moving sooner than later to legalize … [+] recreational marijuana, entrepreneur Howard Lee says.

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Andrew Cuomo shored up a lot of political capital for his strong leadership during the worst of New York State’s Covid-19 crisis. Indeed, fully 87 percent of New Yorkers approved of Cuomo’s response, according to a Siena College Research Institute survey.

So, how is Cuomo is going to take advantage of all those warm and fuzzy feelings among his constituents? Cannabis tech entrepreneur Howard Lee thinks now is the time to press for legalization. “My advice is, what are you waiting for?” Lee said during a free-ranging interview this week. “Many states have proven that they can do it legally, do it safely and provide a better product o their consumers.

“How many times can you generate $300 million in tax revenue on a recurring basis now that’s still growing – in less than three or four years? What is New York waiting for?”

In fact, New York needs the tax revenue badly due to its Covid losses –20,000-plus deaths and untold economic losses. So now’s the time to join the states that are legal (for both recreational and medical cannabis), which in FY 2019, according to a recent Tax Foundation report, chalked up impressive excise tax revenues.

Examples: Washington State’s revenue gain was $390 million; California’s was $390 million; and Colorado’s was $251.8 million.

The thing is to institute legalization correctly, and that means knocking out the illegal sellers, says Lee, who draws on his expertise as a former senior vice president at The Disney Company and now CEO of Seattle-based SōRSE Technology. SōRSE works with legal markets to implement its software, which helps companies to transform cannabis oil into a water-soluble emulsion for a consistent psychoactive effect and good taste in CBD- and THC-infused beverages and other edibles.

Drawing on his experience working with legal markets in multiple states, Lee shares some definitive ideas on what future legal states should be doing (and here he focuses on New York because of the hard hit it took from the virus):

·      Scrap the practice of vertical integration, in which one organization handles every aspect of the supply chain from cultivation to distribution to retail.

Companies find vertical integration – which is permitted in Colorado, Massachusetts and Florida – attractive because it helps them limit competition and keep much of the margin to themselves. But the down side is that smaller businesses then find it difficult to enter the industry, exacerbating problems for lesser-funded companies, including minority-owned ones.

·      Combine the legal and “gray” markets. For Lee, “gray” means the non-tax-paying medical dispensary business.

The issue, he says, is that black market sellers/distributors legally buy cannabis from medical dispensaries and then resell these products for recreational use at cheaper prices on the black market. This move incentivizes consumers to use the black market.

But by merging recreational and medical cannabis sales at the same outlets, for a unified marketplace post-legalization, legal dispensaries can help put an end to black market sellers/distributors. And the state benefits.

Combining sales is exactly what happened in Washington State, Lee says (unlike California,, which still has many unlicensed medical dispensaries); illicit buying slowed once all legal cannabis products were sold in Washington at the same price.

·      Tax medical products, at least for an introductory period.

Taxing medical products equally with adult use would make sense, the entrepreneur argues, because often they’re the same products people use recreationally. And while Lee acknowledges that moving to tax the medical side of the aisle would be deeply unpopular, it could be a temporary measure; people with a true medical need could then make up the tax they have to pay by qualifying for a lower price or rebate.

“The cost of product will be less than the medical cannabis cost overall, including the cost of the tax,” Lee explains. Once the market became robust, the state could revert back to non-taxed medical cannabis.

“I don’t believe we should let people game the system with two starkly different tax structures,” because that won’t let either market, recreational or medical, grow legally nor create a truly robust industry, Lee says.

Washington State is a good example of how a robust market lowers overall prices, Lee says: Three years ago, the average kilo there cost $14,000, he says. Today it’s around $3,500 or $4,000. More points of advice from him:

·      Legalize in order to advance social justice. Carrying just one ounce of marijuana in Texas gets you a mandatory six-month jail sentence. This scenario in Texas and other states hits minorities particularly hard, Lee points out.

·      Respond to the Covid-19 crisis in a newly legal state by making delivery of cannabis products legal. This will ensure access for those who need these products the most for medical purposes

·      Pay close attention to the quality of newly legal products. Legalization allows certain states – again, Washington State has already done this, he says – to set up software to track the sale through the recreation market. Tracking allows for resting for pesticides, chemicals and claims about a product’s strength.

“I would say that if I had to choose between the black market and the recreational market, I would pick the recreational market any day,” Lee says, “because I don’t know where the stuff is grown. You could be smoking Roundup [the weed killer] and not know it.”

So … vertical integration, gray markets, social justice: Is New York ready to start “spreading the news”?

Marijuana Vaporizer Market 2020 Analysis, Types, Applications, Forecast Till 2024: Aphria, * Etain, * The Nug, * Grizzly Guru, * Innokin, * FGB Natural Products – Industry Herald 24

Marijuana Vaporizer Market report is a comprehensive analysis of Global market has newly added by healthcare intelligence Markets to its extensive repository. The statistical report offers a prime wellspring of applicable information for Global business progress.

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Top Key Players Profiled in This Report: * Aphria, * Etain, * The Nug, * Grizzly Guru, * Innokin, * FGB Natural Products

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The purpose of this study is to define the overview of the Global Marijuana Vaporizer Market with respect to market size, shares, sales patterns, and pricing structures. Primary and secondary research refer collect the desired data of the target market. Different Global regions such as North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East are examined to evaluate the facts about productivity.

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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Signs Bill Expanding Cannabis Equity and Pardons – Cannabis Wire

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill on Monday night at Simply Pure, a cannabis dispensary, that will broaden social equity and justice efforts across the state. In addition to expanding access to social equity licenses for those hoping to join the state’s cannabis industry, the bill also gives Polis more leverage to pardon cannabis offenses. In the run up to the bill’s passage, the state’s largest cannabis operators lobbied in favor of the bill. 

“All hardworking Coloradans deserve a fair shot at sharing in the prosperity of the booming marijuana industry,” bill sponsor Rep. James Coleman said in a statement. “This bill will help overcome decades of inequity in an industry where black people have been criminalized and others have been able to make profits. We should not be defined by our past alone, and this bill provides Coloradans who want to make an honest living in the marijuana industry with the opportunity to do so. Creating equal economic opportunity for all makes us stronger. ”  

This bill, HB 1424, builds upon one passed by state lawmakers last year, SB 224, which created so-called “accelerator” licenses to allow a person to “operate respectively on the premises of a licensed retail marijuana cultivation facility or retail marijuana products manufacturer” and to “receive technical, compliance, and capital assistance from the host-licensed retail marijuana business.” HB 1424 changes “accelerator licensee” to “social equity licensee,” expands the program to include retail, and requires that a social equity licensee maintain at least 51 percent of the beneficial ownership, among other changes.

The bill also expands criteria for qualification to include individuals with an immediate family member, including a “parent, legal guardian, sibling, spouse, child, or a minor in their guardianship,” for example, who has been arrested for or convicted of a cannabis offense, or “subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation.”

“Civil asset forfeiture is a terrible piece of the war on drugs and a lot of people suffered as a result of that, aside from just convictions and arrests,” Ean Seeb, who owned one of Denver’s first cannabis shops, Denver Relief, and, later, Denver Relief Consulting, and who is now Governor Jared Polis’ adviser on cannabis, said of the bill during a recent meeting in Denver. “There’s plenty of anecdotal and real information to support that in many cases, social equity licensees have effectively been taken advantage of by people looking to support them with capital contributions or whatnot that effectively take away their ownership.” 

The bill also allows Polis to pardon people with cannabis convictions, as long as possession was up to two ounces. Colorado lawmakers passed HB 1424 on the final day of the year’s legislative session, June 15.

Some of the cannabis companies with the largest footprints in Colorado, like Schwazze, LivWell, and The Green Solution, lobbied in support of the bill. Also lobbying in support: the Medical Marijuana Industry Group and the Simply Pure dispensary, where Polis signed the bill, owned by Wanda James and Scott Durrah, who note on their website that they are “the first African Americans, legally licensed in America, to own a dispensary, a cultivation facility and an edible company.”

Colorado’s cannabis industry has a diversity problem that state and local lawmakers and regulators have been focused on solving. A recent study found that 75 percent of cannabis business owners in Denver, the epicenter of the state’s cannabis industry, are white. For this reason, Denver’s Marijuana Licensing Work Group has been laser-focused on equity, and recently held four meetings with the goal of making recommendations to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and the City Council for approval. That group held its final meeting last week, just days before the statewide equity bill became law.  

Rep. Jonathan Singer said in a statement that HB 1424 was “good for small businesses, hardworking Coloradans, and our state’s economy as a whole.” 

Zynerba plummets 51% after its CBD gel fails trial for rare disease (ZYNE) – Business Insider

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