U.S. Tax Court Rejects Cannabis Businesses, but Bankers Want in on Legal Weed

As financial institutions pressure lawmakers to allow state-legal canna-businesses access to banking services, a new judicial ruling complicates the industry’s cash issues even further.

The fight for cannabis legalization in America is gaining new ground every day. At the local, state, and even national level, the U.S. is soaked in green rush growth and medical marijuana advancements. But in the financial sphere, strict adherence to federal regulations and a long-standing stigma have continually prevented any significant progress on the problems of marijuana-related banking and taxation.

Complicating those issues even further, a ruling from a U.S. tax court judge released this week will make it more difficult for legal weed businesses to square up with Uncle Samcome tax season.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, Judge Richard Morrison ruled against now-closed Colorado medical marijuana dispensary Altermeds after the pot shop owners had attempted to file standard business tax deductions on the non-cannabis products that they sold, namely rolling papers, pipes, and other smoking accessories.

Tax officials have long denied deductions from cannabis businesses under Code 280E, which restricts any illegal business from writing off standard expenses in tax filings. Altermeds’ owners argued that pipes were not included under the definition of illicit items covered in 280E, but Judge Morrison disagreed, writing in his decision that he considered paraphernalia as part of the marijuana business.

For state-legal weed businesses around the country, the deduction denial is yet another strain on an already tenuous relationship with finances and banking. Despite repeated efforts from cannabis advocates and lawmakers, federal law restricts banking institutionsfrom working with marijuana businesses, leaving growers and dispensary owners around the country counting their payroll, taxes, and profits in cash.

Just last week, the House Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to the 2019 budget that would have allowed banks to work with weed companies without worrying about losing federal insurance. But while U.S. judges and legislators have been slow to act on securing financial stability for state-legal ganjapreneurs, banking professionals have begun to see the light.

According to MJBizDaily, a number of influential finance industry lobbying groups, including the Independent Community Bankers of America and the American Bankers Association, have lent official support to cannabis finance reform. With millions upon millions of dollars in assets currently locked out of federally-insured institutions, bankers are beginning to see the huge potential profits behind legal pot.

Back in Colorado, however, the former owners of Altermeds will now have to cough up nearly $470,000 in back taxes and penalties.

As the proliferation of marijuana reform laws continues to spark the creation of new cannabis businesses across the country, reconciling the costly differences between state law and federal financial regulations will be instrumental in bringing the once-controversial plant fully into the American mainstream.

To read more visit: https://merryjane.com/news/us-tax-court-rejects-cannabis-businesses-but-bankers-want-in-on-legal-weed

MedMen Acquires One Of Florida’s Thirteen Marijuana Licenses

A major shakeup for the landscape of Florida’s legal marijuana business.

In the state of Florida, acquiring a marijuana business license is no small feat—there are only thirteen such licenses available to prospective businesses. However, once one acquires said licensing, it opens up a vast amount of opportunities to open an array of dispensaries throughout the state. This makes such an opportunity appealing to a marijuana company with the necessary capital and resources to open up a slew of medical dispensaries in the area.

That’s why, it should come as no surprise that, today, one the country’s biggest cultivators, producers, and retailers of cannabis, MedMen, has managed to acquire one of Florida’s thirteen precious MMJ licenses.

MedMen Acquires One Of Florida’s Thirteen Marijuana Licenses

According to the company’s press release, MedMen is set to acquire all dispensary and growing assets from the Florida-based cultivation company, Treadwell Nursery, which was one of the first eight businesses to acquire an MMJ license from the state.

As it stands, MedMen will inherent Treadwell Nursery’s five-acre grow facility situated in Eustis, Florida, as well as the 25 dispensaries formerly owned and run by the company. MedMen Co-founder and CEO Adam Bierman said in the press release that his brand has been eyeing an expansion in Florida for nearly a decade.

“For nearly a decade we have been positioning ourselves to capitalize on enormous market opportunities like this,” said  Bierman. “This acquisition is right in line with our strategy of establishing a presence early on in high potential markets with limited licenses and large populations. Florida is the third most populous state in the country with a medical marijuana market estimated to reach $1 billion in annual sales by 2020. MedMen has built the best-in-class brand, and we continue to invest in premium assets that solidify our dominant position in the most important cannabis markets in the world.”

The acquisition of Treadwell Nursey’s dispensaries more than doubles MedMen’s amount of cultivation and retail facilities—before the blockbuster deal, the company owned an operated 18 such provisions throughout New York, Nevada, and California.

According to the release, MedMen purchased Treadwell’s assets for $53 million, before the necessary capital adjustments. The transaction will become official after 90 days, after it official closes, and both parties have the right to terminate the agreement beforehand, provided the necessary regulatory approvals are somehow failed to be met.

MedMen recently went public in Canada with a billion dollar valuation. The company already has dispensaries in several states. Now, MedMen has the right to run 25 dispensaries in the sunshine state.

To read more visit: https://greenrushdaily.com/medmen-acquires-one-floridas-thirteen-marijuana-licenses/

REEFER GLADNESS: ‘A lot of people are going to get very, very rich’

MISSISSAUGA–In many ways, they are modern-day prospectors.

Like the Yukon Gold Rush, 1920s stock speculators and dotcom bubble investors. They are strivers seeking to fulfill their dreams via cannabis — and cash.

This weekend saw the second O’Cannabiz Conference and Expo at the International Centre in Mississauga.

Organizers said the event doubled its size from last year with more than 200 exhibitors and 130 speakers. Growth has been so explosive, the event had to be moved from the downtown Toronto Sheraton.

Leslie Gerard of Terracube — a company based in Victoria that makes portable labs and greenhouses — was asked by The Toronto Sun if she expected to get rich.

Her reply mirrored scores of other participants The Sun talked to.

“Rich? Hells, yeah,” she smiled.

The event could have been called Everything to Do With Reef. Exhibitors gave away candy, chocolate and some even had bowls of Doritos. Wink! Wink!

There were companies selling lab equipment, oil dispensing machines, security, insuring your crop, pipes, bongs, transport for your cannabis, graphic design for your cannabis company, hydroponic companies, manufacturers and farmers.

Hannah Rubin, 25, originally from Stamford, CT, calls herself a “Trumpugee,” but she was at the event because she’s a “ganjapreneur.”

“I moved to Canada because I knew cannabis legalization was coming and because it was federally driven it would be easier here,” she said, adding she hopes to export her “high-end cannabis lifestyle products” to Germany, Switzerland, Israel and beyond.

“It makes it easier to ship overseas. It’s not so much a gold rush as a green rush,” the operator of the Half Baked Bus said.

Hannah Rubin, founder of the Half Baked Bus during the O’Cannabiz conference at the International Centre on Friday June 8, 2018. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun) Dave Abel / Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

Participants stretched across a wide swath of demographics. There were the golf-shirt wearing salesmen types, neo-hippies, old hippies, seniors and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes.

And they all had a story to tell.

Shane Stubbs master grower for Beleave joked that he can finally tell his parents what he does for a living. His company has a greenhouse in the Niagara region and is poised to launch a slew of new products.

Stubbs calls the cannabis he grows “craft” or “old school.”

“You can tell the difference between Grey Goose vodka and the cheap stuff, it’s the same with our product,” he said.

CBD and THC Cannabis product and legal marijuana manufacturing items on display during the O’Cannabiz conference at the International Centre on Friday June 8, 2018. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun) Dave Abel / Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

“When you light one of our joints, you’ll remember that joint. It will take the older generation — 40-50 — back, they remember blueberry and skunk.”

Besides the obvious, there were also exhibits for financial services and lawyers tailored specifically for the canna-biz.

Lawyer Fiona Brown of Aird Berlis law firm said her practice has 20 attorneys working on the cannabis file.

“We do all areas of the law that touch on cannabis, regulations, licenses … we’ve been active in the space for quite some time,” she said.

CBD and THC Cannabis product and legal marijuana manufacturing items on display during the O’Cannabiz conference at the International Centre on Friday June 8, 2018. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun) Dave Abel / Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

Many of the participants had the aura of converts to a great cause that could also make them rich. Almost as if your Tory voting dad suddenly realized cannabis oil was the trick to a better golf game.

One vendor — dressed sharply in Friday casual — said: “I don’t sleep and took some of this stuff last night… crashed and slept like a baby.”

And the medical marijuana aspect was a big thrust of the day’s doings. Wink! Wink!

Kayla Rochkin of CannTrust claims the company — based north of Toronto — already has 43,000 medical marijuana patients across Canada. The company even produces a vegan cannabis.

“Our company was founded by a pharmacist (Eric Paul) and we’ve gone for really deep standardization and helping physicians understand what to prescribe,” Rochkin said, adding “so they can trust it will be the same every time.”

CBD and THC Cannabis product and legal marijuana manufacturing items on display during the O’Cannabiz conference at the International Centre on Friday June 8, 2018. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun) Dave Abel / Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

However, she wouldn’t compare the standardization to McDonald’s and agreed, Heineken beer was a better rule of thumb.

And then there are the altruists.

GrowLegally teaches medical marijuana patients how to grow and harvest their own cannabis, along with providing education and advocacy. They also match clinics with growers.

But mostly, it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

“A lot of people,” opined one executive who didn’t want to be named, “are going to get very, very rich. It’s like the birth of a whole new economy.”

To read more visit: http://torontosun.com/cannabis/cannabis-business/cannabis-investing/reefer-gladness-a-lot-of-people-are-going-to-get-very-very-rich

Wall Street’s Cannabis Investments Stay Hush-Hush Due to Stigma

Danny Moses wasn’t afraid to broadcast he’d profited from the 2008 housing crisis, but he’s keeping his latest investment — the burgeoning cannabis industry — closer to the vest.

Moses, who was head trader at FrontPoint Partners under Steve Eisman, as documented in the book and film “The Big Short,” says the plant’s still federally illegal status has left people like him hesitant to make pot investments public.

“The stigma of shorting housing I never thought about. The thought of going long cannabis, I have. It’s more of a cultural adoption,” he said. Still Moses, 48, said he sees the potential opportunity as too big to miss. “In general, go where the money can be made.”

 

Wall Street’s biggest institutions may not be getting into the Green Rush, but individual investors are quietly diving in. One haven for Wall Street money, including from Moses, is Merida Capital Partners. The private equity firm has drawn backers with resumes that list the world’s most well-known banks and technology companies.

The cannabis industry is expected to reach $75 billion in sales in 2030, up from $6 billion in 2016, according to investment bank Cowen & Co. Still, marijuana remains illegal on a federal level and is classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic.

The drug’s Reefer Madness-fueled reputation has held people like Moses back from publicly flouting industry involvement. As the father of two teenage boys, Moses said he feared being labeled the “pot dad,” emphasizing that he’s against young people using the plant unless there is a proven medical need.

But the cultural reaction to cannabis is changing. Sixty-four percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing it, according to an October Gallup poll. That helped sway Wall Street investor Paul Ciasullo, 59.

“My 82-year-old mother said it was a good idea to get into the space,” he said. Now he’s invested 10 percent to 20 percent of his portfolio in the industry.

 

The illicit nature of the product makes investing a more difficult task than putting money in other consumer packaged goods. There are few publicly traded companies and well-known executives are scarce. Enter Merida.

The private equity fund is largely focused on investing in businesses that provide ancillary products to the cannabis industry, like software and packaging. About 15 percent of the portfolio is plant-touching. Mitch Baruchowitz, 43, founded the New York-based firm in September 2016. He was previously associate general counsel and chief compliance officer of MarketAxess, an electronic trading platform, and the general counsel of boutique investment bank Pali Capital. His two decades dealing with legal filings and complicated regulations fueled his entrance into the pot business.

‘East Coast Grit’

“I was kind of appalled at the lack of formality in the business models,” he said of the early cannabis industry. “It just seemed like there was a real business out there if some people could take more formal steps and really bring some East Coast grit to what was this really wide open space.”

That’s what Baruchowitz did. He filed and won licenses with groups to grow marijuana in several states. Then, with three years of experience in cannabis under his belt, he decided to switch his focus to the more asset-light side of things and founded Merida, he said.

Baruchowitz’s understanding of the industry and his background in law and finance helped attract many investors to the company.

The firm boasts backers that range from Wall Street veterans to early participants in some of the world’s largest technology companies. Many said they aren’t pot users themselves, and all cited the plant’s medicinal potential, particularly for helping deal with the opioid crisis.

Most of the stakeholders who agreed to be interviewed wouldn’t speak on the record. The reasons for anonymity included concern that publicly acknowledging the investments could negatively impact their personal and professional lives.

Investment Driver

That same stigma has also fueled investment in the industry.

“The most successful investments in my career have come when either the market is rushing for the exits or there are significant barriers to entry,” said David Goldburg, who previously worked at Michael Milken’s family office, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and founded Battlebourne Capital. “Today there’s a rare opportunity to invest under the radar screen in cannabis because the institutional players are on the sidelines.”

Goldburg, 55, first joined Merida as an investor before coming on board as a partner. In the six months since he officially joined the ranks, Merida has surpassed $50 million in assets under management. Every month, the firm will see about 75 deals and does due diligence on as many as 10 of them. Part of its strategy is holding itself and potential investments up to the standards of other types of asset classes.

“The conventional wisdom for cannabis is — because cannabis is such a huge opportunity and because it’s growing so quickly — that all you need to do is throw some darts and you’ll be fine,” Goldburg said. “That approach doesn’t work for any asset class generally speaking and in cannabis in particular, it’s very dangerous.”

To read more visit: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-05/wall-street-s-cannabis-investments-stay-hush-hush-due-to-stigma

Cannabis Sales In Canada Are Expected To Pass $7 Billion In 2019

How much will legalization be worth? Now we know who will be buying weed, and how much they’ll be paying for it.

After legalization this summer, Canada will be one of the biggest weed consumers in the world. How much will the Canadian market be worth was the million (or billion) dollar question—until now. Financial giant Deloitte just released an official report on cannabis in the country’s market. In it, they shared that cannabis sales in Canada are expected to pass $7 billion in 2019.

Canadians Will Spend Over $7 Billion on Weed

In the report titled A Society in Transition, An Industry Ready to Bloom, Deloitte surveyed Canadians in early 2018 to predict future marijuana consumption. The report estimates that cannabis sales in Canada are expected to Pass $7 billion in 2019 alone. This includes medical, legal recreational, and illegal sales.

It also predicts that legal recreational sales will make up $4.34 billion, the majority of overall sales. According to surveys, Canadians will buy legal marijuana as long as it’s no more than 10 percent more than what’s currently available illegally.

Deloitte calculates the Canadian weed market value is worth between $1.34–2.75 billion. In 2019, they expect it to increase to $1.81–4.34 billion.

The Average Consumer Is Changing

The report describes the current weed smoker as “risk taker,” which skews younger (18-34 years old). They expect that legalization will attract 35-54 year-olds, who will consume, on average, less than once a month.

This doesn’t mean that they’re new to the herb. 3/4 have smoked, eaten or vaped in the past, and almost half have in the past few years.

After legalization, those who rarely smoke weed and those who consume it often are expected to increase their intake. Not only that, but the rare smokers will spend 65 percent more on marijuana than they do now.

The culture around marijuana is changing. Middle-aged consumers, especially those with college or graduate school educations, will become typical. These will be people with stable jobs, families and more of an inclination to follow the law.

Canadian Spending On Legal Weed Will Depend On Access

There are some major hurdles to overcome post-legalization. The lower the priceof legal recreational marijuana and the better the supply and access, the more Canadians will spend.

Most cannabis consumers will buy from dispensaries. This means that location, accessible information and a good (and visible) supply are key. Of Canadians surveyed, one third would buy marijuana online. Delivery services have the advantage of privacy, but the threat of shared data.

Most Canadians Will Be Buying Their Weed Legally

Overall, most people see the benefits of legalization–and are willing to pay for it. The average Canadian is open to paying 10 percent more, though it varies per province. They see legalization as a way to guarantee quality and offer better and more varied products.

And if there are enough dispensaries, and if weed is cheap and plentiful enough, this could mean over $7 billion in weed sales in 2019.

To read more visit: https://greenrushdaily.com/cannabis-sales-in-canada-are-expected-to-pass-7-billion-in-2019/

Michigan Legislators Could Vote to Legalize Weed This Week

Republican lawmakers want to end prohibition on their own, ahead of November’s ballot initiative vote, in hopes of tightening the state’s proposed green rush regulations.

Republicans in the Michigan legislature want to vote on recreational cannabis legalization before the week is up. But while Great Lake State conservatives could finally open the floodgates for marijuana policy reform in the Midwest, the socially progressive crossover is still flush with ulterior motives.

According to Michigan Live, the legislative legalization push would enact the state’s prohibition-ending marijuana ballot measure before a public vote, allowing Michigan’s lead Republican lawmakers to more easily amend the law and add new, presumably stricter, regulations to the state’s impending green rush.

“I’m proposing that we adopt it and amend it and put it right under the [medical] marijuana law and regulate it,” Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, who is leading the legalization charge, told MLive.

Late last year, Michigan cannabis activists collected over 360,000 signatures in support of a legalization ballot measure appearing in the upcoming midterm elections, which was then quickly approved by state officials. Compound that initiative with polling data that shows over 60% of Michigan voters support legalization, and experts around the country have widely predicted the Great Lake State as a near-lock for legalization.

If passed, the ballot measure would legalize the possession, use, and sale of marijuana for adults 21 years and older. Residents and tourists alike would be able to carry up to 2.5 ounces of weed and purchase pot from state-licensed stores. Like Colorado, Michigan’s legalization program would direct cannabis tax revenue to local schools and road repairs, with a proposed 10% excise fee added to every marijuana product.

Reading the writing on the wall, Michigan legislators and anti-cannabis advocates have all but given up the fight for prohibition, and have now shifted their focus towards regulatory control and the ability to amend the particulars of legalization.

Put to a successful popular vote, Michigan lawmakers could amend the voter-approved ballot initiative with support from three-quarters of the state legislature. If the legalization effort is passed by legislative vote, though, Sen. Meekhof and his Republican peers will only need a basic majority to make changes to the state’s marijuana laws. With a current conservative majority in Lansing, those changes could be made as quickly as the bill is approved.

For the cannabis advocates who worked tirelessly to construct and validate Michigan’s legalization measure, the legislative power grab is troubling. Like post-legalization problems in MassachusettsMaine, and elsewhere, supporters are worried that legislators could add unnecessary red tape and delay the implementation of Michigan’s retail market.

“We’re happy for the legislature to adopt our initiative as written. But we have a strong position that it doesn’t need to be changed right away,” said Josh Hovey, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “We used Michigan’s 2016 [medical marijuana] framework to draft our initiative, and we followed it very, very closely,”

In addition to possibly adding higher taxes or stricter zoning rules for pot shops, political experts have argued that a legislative end to marijuana prohibition could change the outcome of Michigan’s other November elections, with young people potentially discouraged from participating in the democratic process without the option to vote for legal weed.

If Senator Meekhof and Great Lake State Republicans are going to pass cannabis legalization on their own, though, they will need to act fast. Michigan’s Senate and House of Representatives must both approve the initiative before the end of Tuesday, or the measure will automatically be sent to November’s ballot for a public vote.

To read more visit: https://merryjane.com/news/michigan-legislators-could-vote-to-legalize-weed-this-week-ahead-of-election

CBD Market To Grow 700 Percent By 2020

As therapeutic cannabis use continues to be associated with health and wellness lifestyles, the popularity of CBD products has only grown.

A new report by the Hemp Business Journal is projecting massive growth in the hemp-derived CBD market over the next few years. While the U.S. hemp industry generated $820 million in sales in 2017, $190 million came from sales of hemp-derived CBD products. And experts project CBD products will drive the U.S. hemp industry over the $1 billion mark in 2018. Furthermore, the same reports project the CBD market to grow 700 percent by 2020.

Industry Insiders Forecast 700 Percent Growth In CBD Market By 2020

According to Forbes’ 2016 analysis of a previous Hemp Business Journal report, the CBD market could top $2 billion in consumer sales by 2020. But hemp-derived CBD products represent only part of the picture; $450 million to be exact.

The forecast represents a 700 percent increase from consumer CBD sales in 2016, according to CannabisNewsWire. In 2015, the total consumer CBD market hit $202 million. Hemp-derived CBD products accounted for $90 million of that total, while marijuana-derived CBD made up the remaining $112 million.

Still, $2 billion represents only a fraction of the legal cannabis market, which many analysts expect to hit $25 billion by 2020. Medical cannabis will still maintain an edge over adult-use sales at $13.3 billion and $11.2 billion, respectively, by 2020.

But these projections only account for states that have already passed legalization measures. As more states legalize medical and adult-use cannabis, the numbers could be even greater.

Industry insiders, however, are already targeting the CBD market. They point to the hundreds of CBD products that are already flooding legal markets in the United States. According to Headset Research data, for example, residents of Washington state have access to over 800 CBD products, principally sold as health and wellness items.

Health and Wellness Will Drive CBD Market Into The Future

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Unlike THC, users consume CBD not for its euphoric or pleasurable sensations, but for its therapeutic effects.

Many significant studies have documented the medicinal properties of cannabidiol. Medical cannabis patients can use the pharmaceutical cannabinoid to treat inflammation, neurological diseases, and reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures.

Other studies attest to CBD’s effectiveness as a pain reliever, while anecdotal evidence suggests CBD oil can shrink tumors, neutralize cancer cells, and even help treat psychological issues like PTSD and anxiety.

Furthermore, medical users, who account for roughly a third of marijuana users in the U.S., are increasingly expressing interest in CBD treatments. For many, the absence of intoxicating side-effects is crucial in making a medical cannabis treatment viable.

As medical cannabis continues to be associated with health and wellness lifestyles, the popularity of CBD products has only grown.

And that’s despite the U.S. government’s ambivalent and unclear stance on the legality of CBD products. For its part, the DEA has tried to restrict the cannabinoid as a Schedule I controlled substance.

Additionally, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would have excluded hemp from the list of Controlled Substances. This means that hemp-derived CBD would become legal, while marijuana-derived cannabidiol remained illegal. Congress, however, failed to pass the act.

These legal and regulatory obstacles, however, don’t seem to be posing a significant threat to the hemp industry’s growth. To the contrary, the $3.72 trillion wellness industry’s shift toward premium cannabinoid products seems capable of overcoming any challenge.

CBD Market To Grow 700 Percent By 2020

The Hemp Business Journal will publish the full 2018 State of Hemp report shortly. But interested parties can pre-order the report now. For companies in a strategic position to take advantage of a rapidly growing CBD market, like Aurora Cannabis, Inc., the trends are encouraging.

Expect to see national CBD marketing strategies emerge, including television and social media advertisements.

To read more visit: https://greenrushdaily.com/cbd-market-to-grow-by-700-percent-by-2020/

HOW TO START A CANNABIS BUSINESS- THE LEGAL STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW

If you are anything like most entrepreneurs looking to get in on the green rush, you’ve probably been doing your research for quite some time now on the ins and outs of the cannabis industry. While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people speaking on what it takes to enter the industry and grow a successful business, it is not every day that one gets advice from a cannabis attorney on how to start a cannabis business (legally)!

For that reason, we spoke with Neil Juneja, founder and managing partner at Gleam Law Firm, a cannabis-focused firm, who works diligently to help people understand the best legal options for cannabis businesses while assisting them as they navigate the evolving industry.

(Credit: Neil Juneja)

With all of the news about difficulties and victories that entrepreneurs of color are experiencing, Juneja shares his expert advice on cannabis and the law.

What are the steps to establishing a cannabis company?

If the company is directly touching the plant, each state’s laws and regulations are different. Some states have an open application period and will provide a large number of licenses. Other states have limited the total number of licenses to single digits and require an extensive application requiring proof of large amounts of capital and competency.

How can entrepreneurs learn the cannabis laws as they seek to enter the growing industry?

The first step is to reach the state’s regulations on the matter. Subsequently, join local cannabis industry groups and speak with attorneys focusing on the local cannabis markets. There is also a Minority Cannabis Business Association.

What kind of lawyer should entrepreneurs seek when trying to establish a cannabis company?

If the state’s license number falls below the requisite number to support cannabis-focused attorneys, a business and admin attorney is best. A cannabis-focused intellectual property attorney should also be consulted. As intellectual property is federal, the intellectual property attorney can come from any state.

What are some of the opportunities and risks of entering the industry?

While most states have some form of cannabis legalization, the DEA still considers cannabis illegal. While the risk is very low, it does exist.

From a business perspective, the larger states are hyper-competitive and many of the businesses are capitalized. This can result in very thin margins.

According to a report by the New York Times, people of color are being arrested at 10 times the rate as white people. Are there ways that cannabis business owners can legally protect themselves and their customers?

As the DEA is not currently pursuing the regulated cannabis industry, the important communication bridge is with local and state authorities. As regulation increases, all sides are beginning to see the tax revenue and as a result, have been treating cannabis use in parity with alcohol use.

How can cannabis business owners make sure that their product doesn’t end up in the wrong hands?

Proper security is advised. After the sale to the consumer, unauthorized use can be mitigated utilizing child-proof packaging.

Where can people who are interested in working in the cannabis industry find jobs and what kind of background do they need to have in order to qualify?

Each state varies. For instance, all employees and contractors of cannabis companies in Hawaii must submit to an extensive background check whereas many other states have no requirement. For experience, most skills are applicable to any business and cannabis is no different. The only unique position would be the master cultivator and those trimming the flowers. The industry has need for management, HR, compliance, sales, chemists, labor, etc.

A criminal record may preclude cannabis business ownership. To counteract this, Oakland, California is providing preference and assistance to minority cannabis business owners. Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania also have equity programs currently.

To learn more about how you can enter and navigate the cannabis industry, Join us and Neil Juneja at the Entrepreneurs Summit for a timely conversation with Dasheeda “The Weed Head” Dawson, and Hope Wiseman led by Eboni K. Williams.

To read more visit: http://www.blackenterprise.com/how-to-start-a-cannabis-business/

Marijuana reform is here, but minorities still get shafted

First prosecuted, now excluded from legalized trade and treatment

In the initial years of the Green Rush—the push in New York and the nation for medical marijuana and decriminalization—some cruel ironies were politely ignored by the burgeoning industry.

Most glaring was that the same racially motivated drug laws that imprisoned generations of blacks and Latinos for nonviolent offenses now barred them from participating in the $30 billion cannabis trade.

This disparity persists and might even be worsening, given the industry’s surging growth. But it’s no longer ignored, and for-profit companies who haven’t hesitated to throw around social-justice buzzwords when threatened by regulators can no longer plead ignorance.

Yet another unequal facet of the Green Rush has gone unnoticed: Communities of color have been excluded not only from economic opportunities, but also from receiving medical care.

While African-Americans and minority groups across the economic spectrum are more likely to suffer from several health issues treatable by medical marijuana, they’re not gaining access to it—even in states that have enthusiastically embraced the concept. If the already-conclusive and growing consensus is that medical marijuana offers non-addictive pain relief, helps chemotherapy patients tolerate treatment, and calms veterans and trauma victims experiencing PTSD, then where is the push to make it available to communities of color?

The Green Rush hasn’t just left black and Latino entrepreneurs behind, but black and Latino patients as well. Big tobacco, liquor distributors and most recently opioid manufacturers have never hesitated to profit off minority groups. But medical cannabis interests, whose advertising emphasizes themes like compassion and healing, most certainly have.

One reason for this phenomenon is that as New York and other states have conservatively capped the number of dispensary licenses and locations, operators have cited these facilities in wealthy, white locations.

Take the recently opened dispensary on Manhattan’s elite Fifth Avenue. It garnered national and worldwide attention. And why shouldn’t it? It’s a powerful signal of how far the country has evolved. But if treatment and not merely profit is our objective, the opening of a dispensary just uptown on 125th Street in Harlem would mark a more consequential shift.

Addressing health disparities is, of course, more complex than brick-and-mortar locations; it requires addressing socioeconomic barriers denying historically disenfranchised groups the equal care they deserve. It’s an undertaking that requires education and community engagement: buy-in from local leaders, door-to-door canvassing, outreach to ethnic media. It demands culturally-sensitive promotional materials that reference medical conditions black and Latino families have struggled with, ensuring customer-service representatives are educated on black and brown health issues, and a network of prescribing physicians to treat and advise these underserved patients.

Correcting this emerging imbalance is no easy feat, but it’s a chance for this young industry to demonstrate its commitment to healing the much older wounds the drugs laws inflicted.

If we genuinely believe that medical marijuana is a means of improving health and wellness, then it should be available for all.

As the right to provide—and profit from—medical marijuana remains fiercely contested in New York and states across the nation, I hope that the next wave of applicants and the public-sector regulators administering these lucrative competitions remember these concerns.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is president of the civil rights organization National Action Network.

To read more visit: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20180601/OPINION/180539991/marijuana-reform-is-here-but-minorities-still-get-shafted

UK missing out on cannabis industry ‘green rush’ worth billions because of outdated policies, say experts

European cannabis industry could be worth €56bn but Britain is missing out as other countries such as Germany move to legalise

The UK is missing out on a cannabis “green rush” worth billions of pounds because of nonsensical prohibition policies that criminalise a legitimate medical industry, hurting thousands of patients with debilitating conditions, experts have warned.

The comments from leading cannabis industry experts come as investors from around the world gather in London on Tuesday for Cannabis Europa, a conference to highlight the growing opportunity presented by medical cannabis in Europe.

Neil Marouka, a managing director at investment firm Cannacord Genuity and a leading cannabis industry analyst, said that the UK was “absolutely missing out on a huge opportunity” for generating tax revenues from the legal cannabis business, while other countries surge ahead.

Demand in his native Canada is “insatiable”, he said. “We don’t have the domestic capacity to grow what we need to satisfy it.”

Cannabis has been legal for medical purposes in Canada since 2002. But it was not until Justin Trudeaucommitted during the 2015 election to legalisingrecreational use that the industry there began to explode, Marouka said.

This accommodating legal framework has allowed Canadian companies to lead the cannabis industry charge. They now see an opportunity in Europe, where several countries are moving towards legalisation of the plant for medical use.

GermanyDenmarkIrelandGreecePoland and others are all at various stages of implementing legalisation in one form or another.

The future size of the European market is not easy to predict with precision, said Stephen Murphy, co-founder of Prohibition Partners, a consultancy firm that gathers intelligence and insights into the Continent’s cannabis industry.

“But there is no other industry like it in the world,” he added.

“There are some wild estimates out there but we think it’s going to go from zero to €56bn (£49bn) in a decade. It’s an incredible opportunity.”

Australia is actively looking to take advantage of changing regulations around the world by becoming a medical cannabis exporter, as are both Jamaica and Colombia, according to Murphy.

Such rapid growth in a sector that is still illegal in most countries has the potential to attract some less scrupulous players. But Murphy is proud of an industry that has rapidly professionalised.

“Companies in the cannabis business put in the same level of professionalism and scientific rigour as you would into any other pharmaceutical product,” he said.

“What we need is informed, positive media attention and political debate that doesn’t just revert to lazy stereotypes.”

Dan Sutton, founder and chief executive of cannabis growth company Tantalus Labs is a prime example of the qualities Murphy refers to.

His company has been dubbed the “Tesla of cannabis” for its high-tech approach and dedication to sustainability. Sutton is a  passionate advocate of the virtues of both medical, and recreational weed. He is also a scholar of the thousands of compounds that make up the cannabis plant.

“We have only scratched the surface in terms of the medical applications have discovered so far,” he said, before reeling off a host of compounds.

He envisages a huge medical market for cannabis alongside a recreational one similar to that which exists for fine wine today, with enlightened, highly informed consumers sampling the finest products from different regions around the globe.

Tantalus has built a futuristic greenhouse encompassing the latest technology to keep conditions such as temperature and humidity to precise levels, delivering a highly consistent product while eradicating mould and other pests without using any pesticides.

He believes the debate around legalisation in the UK has so far been hampered by a “residual social conservatism”  but also said he can see this is changing.

High-profile cases demonstrating the profound effects cannabis can have when used as a medicine have helped to galvanise political support on both the left and right of the political spectrum.

The family of Alfie Dingley, a six-year-old boy with a rare form of epilepsy that causes up to 30 seizures a day, have gained huge support in recent months from politicians, celebrities, and the wider public.

While receiving medical cannabis oil on prescription in the Netherlands he went 27 days without a seizure. But when his family applied for a license for him to use it in the UK, they were rejected by the Home Office.

Cannabis, or compounds derived from the plant, have been shown to have positive benefits to patients with a huge array of conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

In addition to the heart-rending individual cases for legalisation in the UK there is an overwhelming economic one, British industry experts say. Wealthy foreign investors are now raising funds in London, destined for legal markets elsewhere.

Former London police officer turned medical cannabis entrepreneur Michael Abbott said the success of Canadian medical cannabis firms, demonstrates the economic benefits of a regulated and legal medical cannabis industry.

“While the UK has some of the top medical researchers in the world working to advance the industry, our legislation is not yet up to the same speed,” he added.

“We need to continue to push the conversation around the use and regulation of medical cannabis if we want to keep pace with other nations who are already taking action.”

Meanwhile, George McBride, a partner at Hanway Associates, which is organising Tuesday’s Cannabis Europa event said the rapidly advancing wave of cannabis reforms around the world meant “it is only a matter of time before the UK joins Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia and the dozens of other countries in permitting medical cannabis access.”

To read more visit: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/cannabis-industry-uk-green-rush-growth-medical-marijuana-recreational-a8363171.html