Nevada’s Cannabis Compliance Board Takes Over Pot Regulations – KUNR Public Radio

Starting this month, Nevada’s new Cannabis Compliance Board will take over regulatory authority of the state’s growing marijuana industry from the Department of Taxation. Originally proposed by Gov. Steve Sisolak last year, the new agency is now tasked, in part, with inspecting cultivation facilities, testing cannabis products and determining who can grow and sell cannabis in the state. KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with Tyler Klimas, executive director of the board, to better understand what that transition means for Nevada.

Boger: [Wednesday, July 1] marks the first official day that the board has full oversight of Nevada’s pot industry. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about the process that, that transition of regulatory authority from the Department of Taxation over to the board? 

Klimas: We had partial authorization starting January 1. So it’s been a six-month ramp-up to full authorization. We have done a lot of reorganization, recognizing [what] the strengths and weaknesses of the past marijuana enforcement division were, making the necessary changes. Also, per the legislation, we have staffed up. So we’ve increased our staffing and really kind of just laying that groundwork, right? The foundation for the cannabis compliance to take over oversight responsibilities of the cannabis industry.

Boger: When Gov. Sisolak first floated the idea for the creation of the compliance board, he said he wanted it to be very similar to the [Nevada] Gaming Control Board. Is that what we’re seeing here? Has that come to fruition?

Klimas: Obviously the Gaming Control Board is the gold standard in the world, and the Cannabis Compliance Board was created and modeled somewhat after the Gaming Control Board. I feel we’re very blessed and lucky to have what I call the “X-factor” as far as other cannabis oversight bodies and other states, we have that kind of expertise in our backyard. So, yeah, you see a lot of similarities when with the Cannabis Compliance Board and the Gaming Control Board. We’re not the same, [though]. I’ve got health inspectors on staff that go into facilities, right? We’re very product centric. And so there’s a lot of differences, but that kind of model is important. We’ve already drawn a lot of inspiration, and we’ll continue to draw that kind of inspiration from the game control board.

Boger: Out of pure curiosity, who now has oversight over the tax money generated from the sale of marijuana? 

Klimas: The Department of Taxation still collects the taxes and will for the foreseeable future. So that role still remains with the Department of Taxation. Our role maintains oversight and regulatory authority.

However, through [the COVID-19 pandemic], I like to get a good insight into the numbers, and I get those sent to me on a weekly basis to see those year over year sales numbers. And obviously March held pretty true. Most of the directive [didn’t go into effect] until the end of March. Obviously in April, we saw a big drop-off in both sales and transactions. It’s been interesting to watch since then, as we’ve slowly opened back up with delivery, curbside-only, our transactions have remained a lot lower year over year, but sales we’re seeing creeping back up. People are obviously buying a little bit more than they used to.

Now in June, I think the last numbers I saw … and not to get into specifics because that is the Department of Taxation’s role to release those, but from what I can see, and what we can look into, sales are starting to match if not exceed what they were year over year last month. Again, transactions down a little bit. That’s not to say this industry took a big beating. They did, every industry, the entire state did obviously, and it’s been very difficult for a lot of the facilities, including cultivation facilities, right? So there’s that ripple effect through the industry, but hopefully, we start to get back to some semblance of normal. Our role as the Cannabis Compliance Board is to make sure we can do whatever we can within the regulations to help the industry get back to normal.

Boger: There’s been some criticism over the past couple of years, about the transparency within the licensing process here in the state. As a matter of fact, litigation over problems with the 2018 round of licensing is still ongoing. What can the compliance board do to limit those issues in the future?

Klimas: I mean, when you’re talking about licensing, these kinds of actions are going to be very public, very transparent. That’s by design, and these decisions are going to be made, whether it’ll be opening up a new licensing round or developing criteria for licensing. All of that’s going to be done in an open setting by the board with public input. I think that’s key, and I think that’s the reason why the Cannabis Compliance Board was created.

What is THC? A Beginner’s Guide To Marijuana’s Psychoactive Cannabinoid – The Fresh Toast

There are three certainties we accept in life: death, taxes, and that THC gets you high. If you know anything about THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, it’s probably as the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effect. This is very much true, but newcomers and experienced consumers alike still have much to learn about this cannabis compound.

Located throughout your body exists tiny receptors that specifically respond to cannabis compound. This is what’s known as your endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors allow THC to bind with your body and affect various functioning systems. Similar to neurotransmitters in your brain, endocannabinoids influence how a person feels, reacts, and moves. They don’t dictate different processes in your body, but they do act as a control center of sorts. Think of them like a light dimmer in your house: it doesn’t flip the switch on or off, but the amount of light possible.

RELATED: What To Expect When Smoking Weed For The First Time

When working properly, the ECS strive to maintain homeostasis throughout your body. It facilitates communications between cells and nerves, while also serving as a bridge between your mind and body. Humans don’t naturally produce phytocannabinoids, or cannabinoids produced by plants. This is why consuming cannabis can produce such dramatic effects on how you think or feel.

When you ingest THC, it instructs the brain to release dopamine. This produces the euphoric rush often associated with cannabis. Some positive effects THC is known to cause include relaxation, sedation, hunger, drowsiness, pain relief, and elation.

There are possibly negative effects as well. Consuming too much THC could induce anxiety, paranoia, memory impairment, scattered thinking, and more. It’s often recommended new marijuana users find balanced cannabis products that include CBD to avoid these side effects. CBD can counteract the sensations caused by THC, and actually produce more therapeutic benefits.

People Use MarijuanaPhoto by Hưng Nguyễn via Unsplash

Do not let the most high-minded hippie tell you otherwise: There are risks to smoking marijuana. If you know what they are, you should be able to prepare for them. Too much smoking and vaping can disrupt your respiratory system and result in pulmonary complications in some cases. Worth noting: A 2012 study found smoking a joint per day for up to seven years had no impact in adverse lung functioning. You can always use alternative consumption methods to avoid the possibility, however.

RELATED: Why Some People Don’t Get High The First Time They Smoke Marijuana

You can also develop a tolerance to THC. This might cause you to smoke more, which will cause all the lung problems above. We advise taking breaks and some other methods to maintain your tolerance levels.

It is possible to overdose on marijuana, though take some calm knowing no fatal overdoses have ever been recorded. Common overdoses involve edibles, where individuals overindulge or assume the cannabis isn’t working, so they eat another gummy. Don’t worry, we have some tips so you don’t become a statistic.

As the National Cancer Institute notes, cannabis has been used as medicine for over 3,000 years. Prior to marijuana prohibition, many Americans actually had cannabis tinctures as household remedies for nausea and rheumatism.

Some well-known uses for THC today include:

What is THC? A Beginner’s Guide To Marijuana’s Psychoactive Cannabinoid – thefreshtoast.com

There are three certainties we accept in life: death, taxes, and that THC gets you high. If you know anything about THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, it’s probably as the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effect. This is very much true, but newcomers and experienced consumers alike still have much to learn about this cannabis compound.

Located throughout your body exists tiny receptors that specifically respond to cannabis compound. This is what’s known as your endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors allow THC to bind with your body and affect various functioning systems. Similar to neurotransmitters in your brain, endocannabinoids influence how a person feels, reacts, and moves. They don’t dictate different processes in your body, but they do act as a control center of sorts. Think of them like a light dimmer in your house: it doesn’t flip the switch on or off, but the amount of light possible.

RELATED: What To Expect When Smoking Weed For The First Time

When working properly, the ECS strive to maintain homeostasis throughout your body. It facilitates communications between cells and nerves, while also serving as a bridge between your mind and body. Humans don’t naturally produce phytocannabinoids, or cannabinoids produced by plants. This is why consuming cannabis can produce such dramatic effects on how you think or feel.

When you ingest THC, it instructs the brain to release dopamine. This produces the euphoric rush often associated with cannabis. Some positive effects THC is known to cause include relaxation, sedation, hunger, drowsiness, pain relief, and elation.

There are possibly negative effects as well. Consuming too much THC could induce anxiety, paranoia, memory impairment, scattered thinking, and more. It’s often recommended new marijuana users find balanced cannabis products that include CBD to avoid these side effects. CBD can counteract the sensations caused by THC, and actually produce more therapeutic benefits.

People Use MarijuanaPhoto by Hưng Nguyễn via Unsplash

Do not let the most high-minded hippie tell you otherwise: There are risks to smoking marijuana. If you know what they are, you should be able to prepare for them. Too much smoking and vaping can disrupt your respiratory system and result in pulmonary complications in some cases. Worth noting: A 2012 study found smoking a joint per day for up to seven years had no impact in adverse lung functioning. You can always use alternative consumption methods to avoid the possibility, however.

RELATED: Why Some People Don’t Get High The First Time They Smoke Marijuana

You can also develop a tolerance to THC. This might cause you to smoke more, which will cause all the lung problems above. We advise taking breaks and some other methods to maintain your tolerance levels.

It is possible to overdose on marijuana, though take some calm knowing no fatal overdoses have ever been recorded. Common overdoses involve edibles, where individuals overindulge or assume the cannabis isn’t working, so they eat another gummy. Don’t worry, we have some tips so you don’t become a statistic.

As the National Cancer Institute notes, cannabis has been used as medicine for over 3,000 years. Prior to marijuana prohibition, many Americans actually had cannabis tinctures as household remedies for nausea and rheumatism.

Some well-known uses for THC today include:

AeroPay Launches Compliant Digital Payments For Cannabis Business – Benzinga

Financial technology company AeroPay has introduced a new suite of digital payment solutions for cannabis businesses.

The tech enables digital payments by utilizing so-called „smart bank transfers” and allows business-to-business (B2B) and customers-to-business (C2B) transfers.

The technology covers all aspects of the cannabis industry, and it includes both in-person and online payments.

Dispensaries will be able to provide its customers with convenient and contactless digital payment option, the company said.

„Cannabis businesses have long been underserved by the current payments landscape and we saw an opportunity to help them by leveraging AeroPay’s existing technology,” said in a Monday press release the company’s CEO and founder Daniel Muller.

The Chicago-based next-generation company has been providing a broad range of industries with alternative ways to make their payments since 2017.

Ryan Coffey, AeroPay’s director of business development, stated that businesses and customers within the cannabis space „have been forced to rely almost exclusively on cash for too long,”

„We are committed to providing a safer, more efficient environment for cannabis businesses to operate in,” added Coffey.

Digital Payment Solutions In The Cannabis Space

Even though AeroPay suite launching comes amidst the health crisis, in the time when businesses are taking on a contactless dimension, Hypur’s recent survey on cannabis consumers’ payment preferences suggests that consumers still opt for other payment methods.

According to the survey, 71% of them still prefer using cash when making their purchases.

Still, it seems that digital payments are paving its way.

Hypur’s chief revenue officer Tyler Beuerlein told Benzinga their „survey data shows credit cards will not be the white knight for the cannabis industry like many make them out to be.”

He further commented on digital payment solutions, emphasizing their Hypur Pay is “well-positioned to better serve the demands of customers and the needs of businesses.”

© 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

Bob Snodgrass: The Godfather Of The Cannabis Bong Renaissance – Benzinga

By Weedmaps‚ Danielle Guercio, provided exclusively to Benzinga Cannabis.

Glass is a staple cannabis consumption material, and pipes were once made of naturally derived materials. But then, Bob Snodgrass, while famously traveling on tour with the Grateful Dead, laid bare his talents and began designing innovative cannabis glassware that eventually had a hand in shaping an entire industry. Of all the renowned glass artists, Bob Snodgrass is held in the highest esteem.

Today, Bob Snodgrass and his family carry on a tradition that he cultivated from a love of cannabis and his incredible talent for glass sculpting. He currently counts at least five of his family members as official glass artist apprentices, and regularly teaches hands-on instruction. 

RELATED: How Many Grams Are In An Eighth? — And Other Useful Cannabis Conversions

The method that created the Snodgrass Family Glass movement was invented by him, which according to the Snodgrass website, is a technique he refers to as  “Scientific Glassmaking.” 

Glass art is not new, Venetian glass makers have been doing their thing for aeons, but the specific inventions of Bob Snodgrass changed the art form forever. By mixing metals and lab-grade glass, Snodgrass created uncommon effects that fueled an entire subculture of art. Iridescence, gold sheens and intricate abstractions were all fueled by chemical reactions — not by simply adding colors or painting surfaces. 

When glass and talent collide

Snodgrass is seen as the father of borosilicate, aka ‚hard glass’ pipes and smokeware. He’s also notable as “the godfather of the bong renaissance.” In 2017, Northwest-centric publication The Stranger said in a deep dive on glass sculpture that Snodgrass’ decision to settle in Oregon directly led to his continued influence in the craft. Had he stayed in Ohio where he originated, they muse that the glass movement would have flourished in the Midwest instead. 

His glassware is often UV reactive, innovative in its function as well as its form, and the basic ‚spoon’ shaped glass pipe you can get at many corner stores come from his experiments.

The popularity of his glassware is fully based on its artistic appeal and the weight of the wisdom that Snodgrass bestowed upon this folk art. Glass pipes are now ubiquitous, and there are even specially invented tools based off of Snodgrass’ techniques.

He says of his passion for innovation, „I am an inventor. I got stuck in glassblowing because there are so many things to invent in it. I invented a new field in glass.”

RELATED: 5 Cannabis Products Former NBA Player Al Harrington Can’t Live Without

If you’re looking to purchase Snodgrass glass, you can shop online but that is just one outlet. Snodgrass pieces are so popular and renowned that they sell for thousands at auctions and in galleries in downtown New York City. Generations of glassblowers to come owe their six figure pipe sales to this man, The Godfather of Pipes.

Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

© 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

MPXI’s Spartan Wellness Partners With Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart – Benzinga

MPX International Corp. (CSE: MPXI) has teamed up with Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. to enhance clinical services for Shopper Drug Mart’s patients.

According to a Monday press release, MPX’s subsidiary — Spartan Wellness Corporation — has struck a services agreement with Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. on July 1.

Under the deal, Spartan agreed to employ its network of volunteers and professionals in providing Shopper’s patients with knowledge about cannabis. They will also be prescribing cannabinoid-based medicines. 

Spartan founder and CEO Riad Byne emphasized Medical Cannabis by Shoppers is “rapidly becoming an industry leader in our field,” adding they are “delighted to join forces” with the Canadian licensor of full-service retail drug stores.

“We have been developing and refining our virtual medical clinical services for over 3 years with these efficiencies becoming particularly critical during the present COVID-19 pandemic,” noted Byne.

MPX highlighted its subsidiary has grown from a company providing veterans and first responders with a medical cannabis alternative of a harm reduction medicine to an enterprise supporting patients across Canada.

W. Scott Boyes, MPXI’s president, and CEO said they are pleased they initiated the partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart.

“The medical cannabis industry continues to quickly evolve in Canada, and we feel it is important to surround ourselves with industry leaders,” Boyes added.

Medical Cannabis by Shoppers’ Recent Moves

Meanwhile, Medical Cannabis by Shoppers has been spreading its footprint within cannabis space by inking agreements with several companies earlier this year.

In January, it opted to distribute Avicanna Inc.’s (TSX: AVCN) (OTCQX: AVCNF) Rho Phyto medical cannabis and Pura Earth CBD derma-cosmetic product lines within Canada.

Medical Cannabis by Shoppers also entered into several supply deals, including agreements with Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI), Radient Technologies Inc. (OTC: RDDTF) and Auxly’s (TSX.V: XLY) (OTCQX: CBWTFDosecann LD Inc.

Courtesy photo

© 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

Why it’s important to buy from Black and POC-owned cannabis businesses – Weedmaps News

When legal cannabis entered the US economy, tech startups, pot shops, and numerous brands flooded the space. Yet despite this explosive growth, Black and Brown entrepreneurs within the cannabis sector have been edged out since day one. 

The overcriminalization of weed and over-policing of communities of color — even as more states regularly legalize every voting cycle — continues to be an insidious stain on the American justice system. Today, no one bats an eye at weed weddings, stoney sound baths, and entire festivals dedicated to the plant, but Black people and POC are still targeted by law enforcement. A 2018 Drug Policy Alliance report found that after Washington D.C. decriminalized cannabis, Black men and women were 11 times more likely than white people to be arrested for public cannabis use after two years of legalization

We have seen throughout history that the Black community experiences harsh discrimination at every level of the judicial system. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, communities of color are “more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, harshly sentenced, and saddled with a lifelong criminal record. This is particularly the case for drug law violations.”

Sure, cannabis legalization has brought about new opportunities for many — and many legal states have set up expungement protocols for individuals with previous cannabis charges. But that doesn’t mean our entire capitalist system is now free of racism within the cannabis space. That doesn’t mean that Black and Brown entrepreneurs no longer face discrimination and impassable walls when trying to build up cannabis businesses.  

Amid the ongoing protests against police brutality against Black people after the murder of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and countless others by police officers, the importance of purchasing from Black and POC-owned businesses have swept over media and technology companies across many industries, including cannabis. 

But supporting and donating to Black and POC-owned businesses shouldn’t be limited to a burst of protests and calls for justice. It should be a regular occurrence. In the entirety of its history, America has disenfranchised Black people and POC. Thankfully, databases of Black and POC-owned businesses exist in order to help consumers in lifting up the Black community by speaking with their dollars. When you help one, you help all.

It’s crucial to note that these Black and POC-oriented databases haven’t come out of thin air — they’ve long been needed and crucial in cannabis’ ongoing discussion of social equity in the industry, and they’re often created by people of color themselves. Cannaclusive is an organization that saw the need for a database that highlights Black, Asian, Latinx, Woman, LGBTQIA, Indian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, Veteran, and Disability-owned cannabis businesses and has worked with Almost Consulting for more than two years to create one called the InclusiveBase.   

Below, we speak to Cannaclusive’s co-founder Mary Pryor and cannabis consultant Kieryn Wang of Almost Consulting about the importance of supporting Black and POC-owned businesses today and every day, and how utilizing inclusive databases can help you determine where to express your support.

Interviewees 

Mary Pryor: the co-founder of Cannaclusive, Pryor is also Executive Director of Blacks In Tech, Director of Outreach and Partnerships of Black Techies, Founder & Principal of Urban Socialista, and an SXSW Social Innovator Award Winner (2014). 

Kieryn Wang: founder and owner of Almost Consulting. Wang leads women-owned cannabis brands through the diverse marketing practices of modern cannabis. She also created InclusiveBase in partnership with Cannaclusive.  

On the importance of support and alignment 

WM: In your words, why is it important for consumers to actively support black and POC-owned businesses — especially now?

Pryor: I think three things are important. Due to systems that we are now being made ever so aware of, in terms of economic disparity, the wealth gap, and a lot of the barriers that are perpetuated due to white supremacy and racism, there has been a big, empty and far-fetched goal line in terms of economic wealth and access and equity in the world — especially between those who are Black and Brown and white people. And that’s due to a few factors: there’s slavery, there’s institutionalized racism, there’s segregation, discrimination. 

There are a lot of things that are part of the lifetimes of people who are older — and that are not part of our lifetime as younger individuals — that have pre-set a lot of the current access people have if you are termed “minority” in this country. 

On top of the fact that propaganda and the racial motivation behind the prohibition of cannabis — due to racialized stereotypes and the reefer madness movement — plus the War on Drugs caused the breaking up of a lot of different homes and destruction of communities. There are a lot of things that have been institutionalized in the system of how we operate in this country economically that is made to target and push aside Black and Brown people from access to capital on top of everything else. 

So firstly, when you’re talking about supporting a Black-owned business, it doesn’t make it weaker, it doesn’t make it better, it doesn’t make it any “less than” or “more than.” It’s a business. But in cannabis, you have less than 5% ownership of Black and Brown people in the space. It’s 81% controlled by white men, and the numbers for women — which were in the 30s percentage range in 2015 — are now in the mid-20s percentage range in terms of ownership. Minorities, in general are faced with a huge gap of access to capital, which makes it hard to open a business in the space. 

The startup costs are very high for plant-touching businesses, so supporting Black and Brown-owned businesses is just a way of saying that you understand, that you know there is a lot of work that goes into being able to access action items to start these businesses. 

Supporting a business just because it’s Black or Brown-owned can be for anybody. It doesn’t need to be just a Black thing, it’s not just a white thing, it’s being able to acknowledge and be intentional with knowing that your support is going further than a store. It’s being intentional and mindful and being an educated consumer on why you’re supporting businesses that definitely deserve to be supported. 

Secondly, businesses in this space — in terms of working with integrity — are hard to find. More so than we talk about. I find that a lot of the indigenous roots of the plant have been best served and best kept by those who understand the cultural significance. When you are a person of color, whether you’re Asian, Indian, Pakistani, Middle Eastern, being mindful of having a cultural relationship to something that you’re utilizing usually has a bit more importance.

When it comes to the cool factor of what it is to be a person of color, a lot of things have been appropriated and misdirected and re-aligned to serve people that are non-Black or POC In general. I think businesses that understand culture and retaining that just have a better way of making it more seamless and more understood by the consumer. 

Third, I think that in this time, being intentional behind why you’re supporting something matters. Whether you say it privately or publicly, there’s no need to be reactive and there’s no need to be performative — it’s easier to just adopt ways of understanding that this world has been made to go after. It’s showing us that it definitely attacks and treats people differently based on the color of your skin. And while you or I may never see that change in our lifetime — or our children may never see that in their lifetimes — it’s important to understand that taking the power of that and flipping it, that there is more equity and understanding in the space, is something that everybody can do. Whether it’s through advocating for equality for people to have access to capital that are Black and Brown, whether it’s supporting a business, whether it’s being very vocal about understanding that within a company you can hire Black and Brown people because we’re human beings and we should have these jobs. 

Leaning far to one side and pretending that there’s not a whole other culture around you really just impacts your understanding of being able to operate and access all facets of the population when it comes to the business and consumer.

Wang: When you’re shopping from a small business — specifically POC and Black-owned — you’re helping support the next rent check, you’re helping put kids through school, you’re helping put the next meal on the table. I’m not saying that you’re not doing that with corporations, but you’re doing it more directly this way. 

I saw a tweet one time, it said: “Thank you so much to whoever just put an order in on my store — I have groceries for tomorrow now!” That’s the kind of impact that you’re making. 

Traditionally and historically in the cannabis industry (and every other industry), POC and Black-owned businesses get less opportunity for funding. They have less access. They also usually have fewer connections and resources in powerful places the way white folks do. 

The industry is built on Black bodies, yet there are a lot of Black men and women still locked up for doing exactly the things that are “legal” for many people to be doing right now. I mean for goodness sake, cannabis is an essential business right now!

I completely recognize that and my role in being an Asian woman in cannabis. I have privilege as well, so I need to do my part, and I encourage all Asians to do our part in our communities and in the cannabis community to fight the injustices today.

On the work it takes to rise above

WM: What kind of work goes into creating these specific directories and databases, and who creates them?

Pryor: The methodology of being able to do a lot of research comes from having to do a couple of things. I mean, you go beyond just trying to find stock listings on MarketWatch or through any of those platforms. You have to go deeper, beyond just what someone says online or what someone says on Instagram. But in this case, looking at social responses to social matters is a bit more accessible to us. People use — especially with cannabis — Instagram and social media in a way that’s very unique and different than other brands.

Being responsive and noting how to respond during this time is something that everyone’s been looking at. A way for me to give honor to someone who inspired me was Cheryl Dorsey with what she created with The Plug, which is a part of the Plug Insights platform that she started a while ago. Support startups that are Black and Brown-founded and try to give them access to information in terms of how to play in this game, because in the tech and startup world, access to dollars for Black and Brown founders is extremely small. Now people are asking, “Why aren’t you opening up your purse? Why are you treating Black or Brown bodies differently? Why are you pushing us aside?” And now people are — given what’s happening in the world — realizing that they have to answer to that.

Access to capital, Black or Brown access, and social equity has not moved far across this country in various states. And even within states where people think they have it going well, it kind of isn’t or it’s shifting. It’s not coming up in ways that can truly help those who are most impacted due to the War on Drugs and those who actually want to be in the business. 

I think that when we are looking at the methodology behind it, it takes a lot of research beyond all those items. Even if you have to go to someone’s website, email, or reach out. We’ve done everything from the surface level, but there’s so much more. You can do a deep dive and deep research via JSTOR [a digital library of academic journals, books, and sources] on whether someone has noted or said anything journalistically about supporting or being available to support those who want social equity.

You can look up previous programs that have existed maybe a year or two years ago or even within this year that have been created to bring on conversations to support Black-owned businesses. You can recall if an organization worked with a capital firm — MCBA [Minority Cannabis Business Association] worked with Merida Capital Partners last year to help five startup businesses that we’re Black and Brown and get going with donating over $50,000 to their business.

These are things that are out there in the world. So it does take that level of combing through previous press releases or current press releases — a lot of different items to go through that. But our methodology goes both surface level, and we’re making all those updates even as people share with us more updates. We see this as being a long-standing item that’s not gonna really go away.

And it’s needed — as soon as people realize they need to support a business, they were like, “oh, where are the Black-owned businesses?” And we’ve been sitting over here for almost two years and now everybody wants to find one. I’m glad everybody wants to find a business that’s Black-owned to support, but it shouldn’t have taken a COVID pandemic or horrible acts of police brutality. That’s something we as a country have to face; why did it take this much for people to start caring about Black-owned business?

Wang: Inclusivebase was created out of the need for a resource that highlights POC and Black-owned businesses. I published Inclusivebase in April 2019 and I started garnering community support. Mary reached out to me and said, “Hey, I’ve been doing this internally with my team for years,” for longer than I have, so she asked to join forces in order to amplify this resource to get more businesses represented. 

Though there’s been an uptick as of late due to our current events, just two years ago this conversation wasn’t really happening. That’s why we decided to just do it ourselves. 

Again, white people have had more money for marketing and more connections for funding — it all contributes to this lack of representation for Black-owned businesses.

And it does take work to vet these companies [on the database]. We get many submissions from, you know, clearly white-owned companies. We get that you want to be represented and want to be included, but this is a space for POC-owned businesses. Right now, we are really trying to build up and get more Black-owned businesses on there. It takes work to manage the submissions so that the company can grow the directory. 

On using cannabis directories the right way

WM: What do people need to know about Black and POC-owned databases that they most likely don’t? How should they be used? How can they be misused?

Pryor: They could be misused in a way where you can have people infiltrate and try to break them. We’ve had people submit to the database that are white who have propped up one Black employee or one Black person that they have long written out of a contract to get on the list. We have to go back through and comb it and double-check it and say that’s not going to work. No one has the ability to change anything within the framework of it, but we want to figure out ways to make this way more accessible and way more accounted for daily. 

Misusing a database like this only feels like you’re misusing it if you’re just saying “support this business” and you’re not making it a continued thing. This isn’t a one-trick-pony, this isn’t a one-time item. People should be talking about supporting businesses owned by minorities all the time. It shouldn’t just be when people are on the streets asking for justice and peace and Black and Brown people are getting shot at and killed.

So I only think you must use a list if you’re not serious about being intentional about making this a thing versus just a one-time item so that you look like you’re doing some type of performative support. 

Wang: I mean, I think making sure to recognize and credit any work that has been done by Black and Asian women or the people of color who have done other databases. The goal is that we want more people to know about this, we want to be amplified and for tech companies to work with us in order to amplify the platform. The work has already been done for years now. 

Because of current events and what’s going on in the world, we also want to make sure that people aren’t erasing the work that has already been done. Do your research first — especially for the companies that have the resources to do this type of research.

And, we’re not trying to be like, “Oh this is such hard work — we need everyone to know how hard it is,” but recognize this work that has already been done. We don’t want people capitalizing on this for just a moment in time. 

So unless you’re prepared to continue to show up and show people what work you’re doing and hold yourself accountable as tech companies and media, then don’t pull off our work. The big thing is really just to make sure you’re shopping responsibly or connecting with the right people. Not only are cannabis shops on the database, there are lawyers, specialists — the variety of businesses blow me away. 

On what’s in store for the future

WM: As time goes on, people tend to forget and move back to old habits. Will continued support be different this time?

Pryor: I think that I’m hopeful that this time is different. I’ve been in Ferguson and I’ve marched for something and about something since I was seven years old. I’m tired and I think that now, more and more people are tired. The exhaustion that I feel isn’t just me being tired because I’ve had a long day and I worked out at 5 a.m. It’s because I can feel the weight of everything when it comes to what my mother and what my grandmother, what my dad and what my grandfathers have tried to fight for so that I had a better life.

I did not envision race to still be this much of an item at this age. I wouldn’t have known that it would still be what I would be seeing versus what I remember from myself when I was 17 or 18 and being called a n***** in high school. I truly believe that you’re seeing more people speaking out across various industries because there is a collective tiredness.

In this unique time in history, we’re all in something together. That is undisputed. We’ve all had to sit at home and look at the wall and look at ourselves and train ourselves to not want to touch people. We’ve had to train ourselves to be freaked out over engaging with others and so, people got a lot of time, and we’ll still have a lot of time during re-opening.

I think people have more time to make honest, realistic needs addressed and put out solutions so that people can now consider actually moving on. I think that that’s one of the weirdest, awkwardest benefits of this whole entire thing — we all have a similar share of time to realize that things have to change. And when coming into this new world after lockdown, what has been normal is now unacceptable which it has been for a while. 

People are now very much pressed to make sure that it sticks, and I think that we all can use this as an opportunity to grow better, be better and address these items that are definitely uncomfortable. But I can tell you as a black woman I’ve had to live with my discomfort, so I’m not shocked at anything that’s happening right now. 

I just want us to grow and finally do something collectively, because it’s not just going to be Black people making change. It has to involve white people understanding the power of their privilege to make a difference as well.

On working with women in cannabis

WM: Kieryn, from your website, you advertise digital and marketing plans geared toward women in the industry. What’s been your experience following this path and being a consultant in the modern day of cannabis? 

Wang: When I entered the industry back in late 2015 to early 2016, what I was seeing was a lot of people not addressing women in their marketing. Not addressing women when it comes to the ways that this plant can benefit you and how to incorporate it into your life. 

Every single company that I’ve worked within the industry has some sort of directive to speak to women — to address them and their concerns. So with my consulting, my goal is to work with companies that are looking to create space specifically for women. 

There are so many things that this plant can do — especially for women’s health — and I really want more women to find the products and the kind of information that can help them create a plan. But there is a learning curve. There’s a lot of shady snake oils out there which makes it really hard for the people doing honest work to get across to the people that are nervous about learning. 

The big thing for me is creating physical spaces. I think a lot of people like sitting down and being taught how to roll a joint or being taught how to smoke out of a bong or feeling the plant in your hands. But now, obviously, you have to take it into the virtual space which is not something I love. That in-person education is so valuable, but fingers crossed we can get back to that soon in terms of helping people remove the uncertainty.

Featured image by Reiana Lorin/Cannaclusive 

3 Cannabis Legislation Predictions Ahead of the 2020 Election – Cannabis Dispensary

The glacial pace at which the federal government has implemented cannabis policy–particularly in light of the rapid evolution of cannabis laws at the state level–is at the same time predictable and frustrating to those seeking a measure of certainty. And it begs the question: Will Congress act soon to bring a measure of common sense to this country’s cannabis policy? What about the states?

Mark Twain wrote that “[p]rophesy is a good line of business, but it is full of risks.” With those risks in mind–and a plate of crow in the warming drawer–I offer the following three predictions about cannabis policy, and its implications, for the remainder of 2020.

 

Prediction No. 1: None of the current “big fix” proposals will pass Congress before the election.

Congress is unlikely to pass major cannabis legislation before the presidential election. At least three such bills are currently pending in Congress: (1) the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act; (2) the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act; and the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act.

The SAFE Banking Act appeared to have momentum last year when it passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support and began making progress in the Senate. The proposal would allow financial institutions to transact with cannabis-related businesses in states that have legalized the plant. Nowhere is the federal prohibition on cannabis more impactful than in the banking laws prohibiting financial institutions from banking the proceeds of unlawful activity, including proceeds from state-legal cannabis operations. For better or worse, these laws prohibit the full development and maturation of the industry. Despite the bill’s early momentum, it appears to have stalled in the Senate.

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act “would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that it no longer applies to persons acting in compliance with state or tribal laws on cannabis, and the proceeds of any compliant transaction would not be deemed unlawful under anti-money laundering statutes or other federal laws.” It would also solve the problem of compliance with Rule 280E–a massive obstacle to growth in the industry–because state-legal marijuana activity would not trigger 280E. The bill does not currently appear to have sufficient support to pass Congress.

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and take steps to address the past implications of prohibition through social justice and equity programs. The act would also impose a tax on sales from cannabis growers to processors. The act has yet to garner the kind of strong bipartisan support it needs, and it may be the least likely of the three pieces of proposed legislation to become law. Its biggest obstacle is the Republican-controlled Senate, which does not appear to support measures that would expunge prior (even non-violent) cannabis convictions.

Prediction No. 2: Even if banking relief becomes law, the full integration between cannabis and banking sectors will take years.

It has long been conventional wisdom that a federal banking fix will supercharge the cannabis industry. But is that really the case?  

On the one hand, opening the banking system would almost certainly be a net positive to the cannabis industry. It will open the doors of conventional depository and lending services to an industry that has predominantly relied on private investment that required higher rates of return and time-consuming, labor-intensive capital raises.

On the other hand, I foresee two potentially confounding factors to unimpeded industry growth. First, many cannabis companies have established banking relationships at this point. Local banks and credit unions around the country have done business with cannabis operators, and that might blunt the impact of federal banking legislation compared to the impact it may have had five years ago.

Second, there is no guarantee that even if allowed to do so, large financial institutions will choose to do business with cannabis companies. All one has to do is look at how financial institutions responded to the federal legalization of hemp 18 months ago: There is no restriction on a bank’s ability to provide services to hemp companies, and many of the country’s major banks have chosen not to do so or were slow to come aboard, often citing compliance challenges and reputational risks. A spokesperson for Wells Fargo, for example, stated late last year–even after federal guidance made clear that banking hemp was permissible–that “[o]ur current position remains that we don’t presently bank or provide services to [hemp or cannabis businesses],” according to an article in The Counter, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. food industry. 

Financial institutions are likely to perceive similar risks even if they can work with cannabis operators, and they are likely to respond in a similar way. I predict it will be years, not months, after any banking legislation passes before the country’s banking system embraces the cannabis industry in a meaningful way. 

Prediction No. 3: Mississippians will vote for medical cannabis, but their wishes will be thwarted.

And now for a change of pace, and this one may shock people who haven’t been paying attention to the efforts to get medical cannabis on the ballot in Mississippi this November. Mississippi, of all places, has medical cannabis on the ballot. There are other closely watched states this election season, of course, as supporters hope that citizens will approve legalization measures in Arkansas, Arizona, New Jersey (all adult-use) and Nebraska (medical.) But as someone who lives in the South, medical marijuana legislation in Mississippi would have sounded as likely to me two years ago as the state uprooting entirely and moving to Mars. 

This past fall, more than 200,000 Mississippians signed a petition to include medical cannabis on the ballot in the November 2020 election. In March, the Mississippi Legislature passed legislation that places a competing medical cannabis proposal on the same ballot. Under Mississippi law, a ballot initiative only becomes law if it receives 40% or more of the total votes cast in the election. This means that in order to become law, (1) a majority of voters must first vote to approve medical cannabis and then (2) one of the competing initiatives must take a substantial percentage of all such “yes” votes to garner 40% of the total vote. So, while polling suggests likely voter support medical cannabis, the result is uncertain. And ballot initiatives have not historically had great success in Mississippi. For example, a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to provide “adequate and efficient system of free public schools” failed in 2015, as did an effort to change the state flag in 2001. 

Medical cannabis advocates have cried foul, claiming that the conservative-leaning Legislature enacted the proposal solely to split the votes between the competing initiatives and ensuring that neither receives the requisite support. Supporters of the legislative proposal deny that claim and maintain that the citizen-led initiative lacks sufficient controls and oversight. Ultimately, the voters of Mississippi will decide. I predict the vote will be split, and Mississippi will wait at least another year for a medical cannabis program – provided that advocates can craft a proposal that garners enough support to minimize legislative machinations.

* * *

Only time will tell whether these predictions will prove true. If there are any takeaways, it is that the piecemeal, state-by-state process for cannabis legalization is likely to continue while federal efforts move more slowly. One thing is for certain, though: cannabis advocates and opponents will debate these fundamental and critical issues throughout 2020 and beyond. Stay tuned.

Whitt Steineker is a partner and co-chair of the Cannabis Industry team at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Birmingham, Ala. He represents clients in a wide range of cannabis issues. In addition, he advises non-cannabis clients – from banks to commercial real estate companies to insurance companies and high net worth individuals – on best practices for doing business with cannabis companies. He can be reached at wsteineker@bradley.com.

3 Cannabis Legislation Predictions Ahead of the 2020 Election – Cannabis Business Times

The glacial pace at which the federal government has implemented cannabis policy–particularly in light of the rapid evolution of cannabis laws at the state level–is at the same time predictable and frustrating to those seeking a measure of certainty. And it begs the question: Will Congress act soon to bring a measure of common sense to this country’s cannabis policy? What about the states?

Mark Twain wrote that “[p]rophesy is a good line of business, but it is full of risks.” With those risks in mind–and a plate of crow in the warming drawer–I offer the following three predictions about cannabis policy, and its implications, for the remainder of 2020.

Prediction No. 1: None of the current “big fix” proposals will pass Congress before the election.

Congress is unlikely to pass major cannabis legislation before the presidential election. At least three such bills are currently pending in Congress: (1) the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act; (2) the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act; and the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act.

The SAFE Banking Act appeared to have momentum last year when it passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support and began making progress in the Senate. The proposal would allow financial institutions to transact with cannabis-related businesses in states that have legalized the plant. Nowhere is the federal prohibition on cannabis more impactful than in the banking laws prohibiting financial institutions from banking the proceeds of unlawful activity, including proceeds from state-legal cannabis operations. For better or worse, these laws prohibit the full development and maturation of the industry. Despite the bill’s early momentum, it appears to have stalled in the Senate.

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act “would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that it no longer applies to persons acting in compliance with state or tribal laws on cannabis, and the proceeds of any compliant transaction would not be deemed unlawful under anti-money laundering statutes or other federal laws.” It would also solve the problem of compliance with Rule 280E–a massive obstacle to growth in the industry–because state-legal marijuana activity would not trigger 280E. The bill does not currently appear to have sufficient support to pass Congress.

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and take steps to address the past implications of prohibition through social justice and equity programs. The act would also impose a tax on sales from cannabis growers to processors. The act has yet to garner the kind of strong bipartisan support it needs, and it may be the least likely of the three pieces of proposed legislation to become law. Its biggest obstacle is the Republican-controlled Senate, which does not appear to support measures that would expunge prior (even non-violent) cannabis convictions.

Prediction No. 2: Even if banking relief becomes law, the full integration between cannabis and banking sectors will take years.

It has long been conventional wisdom that a federal banking fix will supercharge the cannabis industry. But is that really the case?  

On the one hand, opening the banking system would almost certainly be a net positive to the cannabis industry. It will open the doors of conventional depository and lending services to an industry that has predominantly relied on private investment that required higher rates of return and time-consuming, labor-intensive capital raises.

On the other hand, I foresee two potentially confounding factors to unimpeded industry growth. First, many cannabis companies have established banking relationships at this point. Local banks and credit unions around the country have done business with cannabis operators, and that might blunt the impact of federal banking legislation compared to the impact it may have had five years ago.

Second, there is no guarantee that even if allowed to do so, large financial institutions will choose to do business with cannabis companies. All one has to do is look at how financial institutions responded to the federal legalization of hemp 18 months ago: There is no restriction on a bank’s ability to provide services to hemp companies, and many of the country’s major banks have chosen not to do so or were slow to come aboard, often citing compliance challenges and reputational risks. A spokesperson for Wells Fargo, for example, stated late last year–even after federal guidance made clear that banking hemp was permissible–that “[o]ur current position remains that we don’t presently bank or provide services to [hemp or cannabis businesses],” according to an article in The Counter, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. food industry. 

Financial institutions are likely to perceive similar risks even if they can work with cannabis operators, and they are likely to respond in a similar way. I predict it will be years, not months, after any banking legislation passes before the country’s banking system embraces the cannabis industry in a meaningful way. 

Prediction No. 3: Mississippians will vote for medical cannabis, but their wishes will be thwarted.

And now for a change of pace, and this one may shock people who haven’t been paying attention to the efforts to get medical cannabis on the ballot in Mississippi this November. Mississippi, of all places, has medical cannabis on the ballot. There are other closely watched states this election season, of course, as supporters hope that citizens will approve legalization measures in Arkansas, Arizona, New Jersey (all adult-use) and Nebraska (medical.) But as someone who lives in the South, medical marijuana legislation in Mississippi would have sounded as likely to me two years ago as the state uprooting entirely and moving to Mars. 

This past fall, more than 200,000 Mississippians signed a petition to include medical cannabis on the ballot in the November 2020 election. In March, the Mississippi Legislature passed legislation that places a competing medical cannabis proposal on the same ballot. Under Mississippi law, a ballot initiative only becomes law if it receives 40% or more of the total votes cast in the election. This means that in order to become law, (1) a majority of voters must first vote to approve medical cannabis and then (2) one of the competing initiatives must take a substantial percentage of all such “yes” votes to garner 40% of the total vote. So, while polling suggests likely voter support medical cannabis, the result is uncertain. And ballot initiatives have not historically had great success in Mississippi. For example, a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to provide “adequate and efficient system of free public schools” failed in 2015, as did an effort to change the state flag in 2001. 

Medical cannabis advocates have cried foul, claiming that the conservative-leaning Legislature enacted the proposal solely to split the votes between the competing initiatives and ensuring that neither receives the requisite support. Supporters of the legislative proposal deny that claim and maintain that the citizen-led initiative lacks sufficient controls and oversight. Ultimately, the voters of Mississippi will decide. I predict the vote will be split, and Mississippi will wait at least another year for a medical cannabis program – provided that advocates can craft a proposal that garners enough support to minimize legislative machinations.

* * *

Only time will tell whether these predictions will prove true. If there are any takeaways, it is that the piecemeal, state-by-state process for cannabis legalization is likely to continue while federal efforts move more slowly. One thing is for certain, though: cannabis advocates and opponents will debate these fundamental and critical issues throughout 2020 and beyond. Stay tuned.

Whitt Steineker is a partner and co-chair of the Cannabis Industry team at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Birmingham, Ala. He represents clients in a wide range of cannabis issues. In addition, he advises non-cannabis clients – from banks to commercial real estate companies to insurance companies and high net worth individuals – on best practices for doing business with cannabis companies. He can be reached at wsteineker@bradley.com.