Posts Tagged ‘cannabis growth’

Coloradoans Increasingly Turn to Marijuana for Relief

medical-cannabisSometimes it feels like people don’t agree on anything these days, so it’s reassuring to find that, in Colorado at least, there’s still one thing that can bring people together: weed.

At least according to a new survey released by Consumer Research Around Cannabis.

Consumer Research compiled data from Denver and Colorado Springs, the state’s two largest cannabis markets. They found that despite differences in city size, demographic makeup, and overall political affiliation, more than half of the respondents approved of recreational and medical marijuana use.

Jeff Stein, Vice President of Consumer Research Around Cannabis, said the survey results show that “Denver leads Colorado Springs, 58% to 52%, in acceptance of medical and/or recreational marijuana, but the two regions reflect each other almost identically when looked at through a political lens. In both areas, nearly 75% of liberals, about 60% of independents, and roughly 35% of conservatives approve of legal usage.”

Colorado Springs is home to 725,00 adults and was rated the fourth-most conservative major city in the country in 2014, while Denver, with at population of 3.2 million adults, was rated the 19th most liberal city.

On top of high marijuana approval rates, respondents from both cities reported having similar reasons for using cannabis. More than 40% of respondents said that they used marijuana to help them sleep, followed closely by those who use it to treat chronic and recurring pain.

One notable difference in the data was the percentage of people who used cannabis to treat “temporary or minor pain” in Colorado Springs at 17.2%, making it the city’s third most important reason for using cannabis. Lumping together chronic and temporary or minor pain means that about 67% of cannabis use in Colorado is as a painkiller.

“Over the long run, It will be interesting to see how marijuana use affects sales of traditional pharmaceuticals for these kinds of ailments,” said Stein.

The survey didn’t identify how respondents consumed cannabis: whether flower, concentrate, or edible.

Hawaii the First State to Require Debit-Only Cannabis Sales

touch-screenBeginning Oct. 1, Hawaii will be the first state in the U.S. to require cashless-only cannabis sales.

A Colorado-based credit union will permit dispensaries in Hawaii to open bank accounts, and a debit app called CanPay will enable patients to purchase cannabis with their smartphones. The app is currently in use in six states, but Hawaii will be the first to use it exclusively for medical marijuana transactions.

Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, most banks and credit card companies refuse to work with cannabis industry. As a result, marijuana businesses are forced into cash-only transactions, making day-to-day operations tedious and putting dispensaries and employees at risk for robberies and other crime.

To put the amount of cash floating around the marijuana market in perspective, consider that Colorado consistently makes $100 million in pot sales every month (with California expected to dwarf that number)–that’s a lot of physical money, and most businesses don’t to have anywhere to put it.

Having access to banking is a big deal in the cannabis industry–and widespread access probably won’t happen until Congress decides to deschedule marijuana.

Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2000, but dispensaries weren’t legalized until 2015.

The state Department of Health delayed the roll-out of medical marijuana until this year because the state didn’t have a certified lab–putting dispensaries in the unenviable position of growing and harvesting plants that they weren’t allowed to sell.

So far, there are eight licensed dispensaries in the state: Three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island and two on Maui. The state’s first two medical marijuana dispensaries opened last month.

Alaska’s Expanding Cannabis Market Sets New Sales Record

alaska-cannabisCannabis sales are booming in Alaska: in July the state sold more weed in one month than the 3-month sales average.

The Alaska Department of Revenue reported that they collected nearly $600,000 in marijuana tax revenue during July–which equals about a third of the total marijuana tax revenue brought in last fiscal year. The figures are the highest to date in Alaska since recreational sales began last October.

During the last fiscal year that ended on June 30, the cannabis industry generated $1.7 million in marijuana tax revenue for the state. In Alaska, state taxes are collected from cannabis farms rather than retail dispensaries.

The Juneau Empire reported that Fairbanks had a total of 12 cannabis farms returning tax revenue, the most of any city in the state. Anchorage came in second with seven farms. Soldotna was third with four farms, and Juneau ended tied for fourth with multiple cities having three farms.

Kalley Mazzie, Alaska’s excise tax supervisor, reported that there was no revenue from outdoor marijuana farms in July, “but it shouldn’t be much longer before we start seeing those crops make their way to market.”

In July, 612 pounds (280 kilograms) of cannabis bud and 369 pounds (170 kilograms) of stems or leaves were sold. The state collects $50 per ounce of bud and $15 per ounce for trimmings.

Despite the record sales, the figures were lower than the state expected. In fiscal year 2017, the state expected $2 million in revenue, but failed to meet the mark. In fiscal year 2018, the state expects $10.6 million in marijuana tax revenue, or an average of $883,000 per month.

Mazzie expects similar numbers when August figures are published in October.

 

Denver to Issue Cannabis Social Use Licenses

smoking-clubThe problem of where to consume cannabis in Colorado has been an issue since recreational marijuana use was approved by voters in 2012. Now, five years later, the city of Denver is ready to become the first in the nation to launch a program allowing businesses to set up social marijuana consumption areas.

Initiative 300, the ballot proposal to create a four-year social cannabis pilot program was approved by Denver voters last November.

As of August 24, Denver’s department of Excise and Licenses began accepting applications from businesses interested in getting in on the growing cannabis industry. Private, invitation only cannabis clubs are already legal, but the new program allows more conventional businesses, like art galleries, coffee shops, concert venues or yoga studios, to wade into the cannabis industry.

A committee of 20 people from the marijuana industry, city council members, and community groups were responsible for hammering out the details of the program.

Some of the rules that the committee came up with were expected: Social use clubs or venues will be strictly 21-and older. Businesses with a social use license will not be allowed to sell cannabis on site, so expect to bring your own weed. Additional restrictions require social use licensees at least 1,000 feet from schools, as well as distance restrictions to keep them at least 1,000 feet away from daycares, public recreation — public parks and community pools — and alcohol and drug treatment facilities.

Additional rules require obtaining backing from a nearby neighborhood or business group, making sure the site isn’t within 1,000 feet of restricted sites, putting together extensive supporting documents and plans, and paying the $1,000 application fee.

However, not everyone is happy with the committee’s final rules. The drafters of the initiative have publicly criticized the results, arguing that the rules don’t reflect the will of voters and undermine existing cannabis laws in Colorado that regulate marijuana like alcohol–Emmett Reistroffer and Kayvan Khalatbari, the creators of the initiative are planning to sue the city.

“Nothing has changed,” Khalatbari says of a potential lawsuit. “All of my comments about this inequality between how they’re treating alcohol and cannabis are the same. We’ve even had a lot of conversations with the mayor’s office since then, and they continue to say there was consensus, and that’s bullshit.”

Many fear that the committee’s rules are so restrictive that businesses will be discouraged by the extensive requirements to obtain a social use license.

Adding to the difficulty, Khalatbari and Reistroffer explain that the distance requirements will make it extremely difficult for businesses to find a space suitable for a social cannabis use.

Reistroffer, who was on the Social Consumption Advisory Committee explains, “Now the pilot program is set up to fail, because there is such little space available in Denver where permits are eligible and none of the original businesses that supported our campaign are able to apply. This means the issue of private consumption clubs and events will continue to proliferate throughout the city without any oversight from the city or feedback from neighbors — and public consumption will continue to occur in public places like parks and sidewalks because there will be no safe access to permitted consumption areas.”

Justice Department Blocks DEA Cannabis Research

cannabis-researchA year after the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began accepting applications to grow cannabis for research it appears that the Department of Justice (DOJ), with the pressure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are blocking researchers from moving ahead with their proposals.

The DEA has received 25 research proposals, but so far none of them have been able to move forward. As part of the approval process, researchers must get final sign-off from the DOJ–and it’s no secret that Sessions is not a fan of weed.

“They’re sitting on it,” one law enforcement official told the Washington Post, “They just will not act on these things.”

A senior DEA official said that, “the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.”

The marijuana that researchers currently have access to is not what most people would consider weed. Since the late 1960s, all marijuana used in clinical research is required to come from a single government-run marijuana farm at the University of Mississippi. The problem is that the marijuana grown there doesn’t even really resemble the weed that’s sold at dispensaries, making it difficult for researchers to reach conclusions that are applicable to real-world use.

The quality of the government grown cannabis was so bad that Johns Hopkins University, which planned to begin a multiyear clinical trial studying cannabis and PTSD, backed out of the study.

One of the researchers who submitted a proposal to the DEA is Lyle Craker, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Craker submitted his last application in February but hasn’t heard back on his yet. He’s hoping to do research into whether other parts of the cannabis plant have medicinal value.

“I’ve filled out the forms, but I haven’t heard back from them. I assume they don’t want to answer,” said Craker. “They need to think about why they are holding this up when there are products that could be used to improve people’s health. I think marijuana has some bad effects, but there can be some good and without investigation we really don’t know.”

Hawaii Opens First Medical Marijuana Dispensary After 17-Year Wait

hawaii_2After a 17-year wait, Hawaii’s 18,000 medical marijuana patients will finally have a place to shop.

Maui Grown Therapies is set to open next week, having been the first dispensary to receive approval from the Department of Health to begin selling medical cannabis.

“Clearly this is a historic day not just for Maui but for the state of Hawaii. This is the first time in Hawaii that patients will be able to buy lab-tested, quality-assured medical cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary. We’re so excited,” said Teri Freitas Gorman, Maui Grown’s director of community relations and patient affairs.

Hawaii legalized medical marijuana in 2000, but dispensaries weren’t legal in the state until 2015. Eight other medical marijuana dispensaries have also been granted licenses (three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island, and two on Maui), but sales were delayed until this year because the state didn’t have a certified lab–meaning that dispensaries who had begun growing and harvesting plants were unable to sell it.

Maui Grown had a “soft opening” yesterday, limiting sales to pre-registered patients by appointment only. Freitas Gorman said that they made 22 transactions and encountered a few software glitches, but she said patients were very excited. Flower was sold for $20 per gram and $90 to $125 for a quarter-ounce, depending on the strain. Regular hours and walk-in sales will begin with the official opening on Tuesday, August 15.

Registered patients and caregivers can purchase up to 4 ounces of medical marijuana during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of 8 ounces over a 30 consecutive day period.

“This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use,” said Virginia Pressler, director of the state Department of Health, in a statement. “Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception.”

Aloha Green in Honolulu will open on the heels of Maui Grown Therapies. They’ve received the go-ahead from the Department of Health and expect to open Wednesday.

Colorado’s $100 Million/Month of Cannabis Sales the “New Norm”

mjbizAnother month, another record-breaking amount of cannabis sales in Colorado. The cannabis industry achieved a milestone in May, with $100 million in pot sales for the 12th consecutive month.

“I think that $100 million a month (in sales) are the new norm,” said Bethany Gomez, director of research for Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm.

Over 12 months, Colorado saw monthly sales reach $1.4 billion the state collected nearly $223 million in taxes and license fees. Since recreational marijuana was legalized four years ago, recreational sales have consistently counted for two-thirds of the monthly pot sales totals.

In May, recreational-use sales accounted for about $90.1 million and those from medical marijuana contributed just over $37.5 million. The industry’s 2017 cumulative sales through five months neared $620 million, generating close to $96 million in state revenue from taxes and fees.

However, Colorado is seeing a slow-down of growth in the industry as more states legalize recreational marijuana. Sales in Nevada–where dispensaries made about $3 million in sales and the state made about $1 million in tax revenue between July 1 and July 4–prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency as marijuana supplies ran dry. Recreational marijuana sales launch in California in 2018.

In Colorado, the market is still growing, but Gomez said that the market is approaching maturity.

“What you’re seeing in Colorado is similar to other industries, we’re starting to see lower double-digit growth rates, rather than the triple-digit growth rates,” she said. “That time of massive growth expansion in Colorado, I think, is over.”

Signs of market maturity includes the increased demand for concentrates and edibles, as well as a decrease in overall number of medical marijuana patients. New Frontier Data, a cannabis analytics firm, said that falling prices have reduced the incentive for patients to apply for medical marijuana prescription.

As of May 31, 2017, a total of 86,964 patients had an active medical marijuana registration, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. A year before, that figure was 106,066.

Since recreational use began in 2014, the products that cannabis users have evolved. Consumers have shifted from dried marijuana flower to infused products, edibles, and concentrates.

“There is increased innovation in the product category, and that’s continuing,” she said. “Consumption patterns haven’t really settled in the recreational market yet; people are still experimenting. There is still a lot of room for change there.”

 

Nevada Runs Low in Weed, Gov. Declares State of Emergency

nevada-cannabisThere’s a first for everything, especially when it comes to the cannabis industry, so perhaps it’s not surprising that a weed shortage has led the governor of Nevada to declare a state of emergency.

Less than two weeks after recreational marijuana sales began, dispensaries report that they’re running out of product to sell. The state of emergency will allow state officials to decide on new rules to help alleviate the shortage.

The problem is that when Nevada approved recreational marijuana last November, the ballot measure stipulated that for the first 18 months of recreational marijuana sales, wholesale alcohol distributors would be granted the exclusive right to transport cannabis from grows to dispensaries.

However, the Department of Taxation hasn’t approved a single distribution license–and dispensaries are unable to restock their shelves. The department says that they haven’t issued any licenses because of incomplete applications and zoning issues.

“The business owners in this industry have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build facilities across the state. They have hired and trained thousands of additional employees to meet the demands of the market. Unless the issue with distributor licensing is resolved quickly, the inability to deliver product to retail stores will result in many of these people losing their jobs and will bring this nascent market to a grinding halt. A halt in this market will lead to a hole in the state’s school budget,” said Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein.

The Nevada Dispensary Association estimated that dispensaries made about $3 million in sales and the state made about $1 million in tax revenue between July 1 and July 4. Over the next two years, Nevada tax officials expect cannabis sales to generate $100 million in revenue.

The Nevada Tax Commission will vote on regulation to expand the pool of eligible distributors on Thursday.

 

Recreational Cannabis in Nevada Hits a Roadblock

vegas-cannabisExcited for recreational marijuana in Nevada on July 1? Hold that thought.

On Tuesday, a Carson City judge, James Wilson, issued an injunction that reverses the Tax Department’s decision to allow more than just alcohol wholesalers to transport recreational marijuana from growers to dispensaries. The move could delay a planned July start date for recreational cannabis sales.

When voters approved Question 2 to legalize recreational marijuana in November, the initiative included a requirement that distribution licenses would be issued only to alcohol wholesalers for the first 18 months of sales.

Representatives from the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada (IADON) and the state Department of Taxation gave testimony on Monday in an 8-hour hearing. In his 11-page ruling, Wilson said that a “brief filed on behalf of the liquor distributors corroborated evidence that the businesses would be shut out of the marijuana distribution business entirely if the tax department issues licenses to non-alcohol distributors…Once licenses are issued to others, it will be difficult if not impossible to revoke those licenses.

However, the Department of Taxation said in March that there was limited interest among alcohol wholesalers and that the requirement would result in an in insufficient number of distributors.

According to the spokesperson for the tax department, Stephanie Klapstein, at the end of the application deadline in May, only five of 93 applications for recreational cannabis distribution licenses were issued to alcohol wholesalers. And of those five, none have actually completed the application. The other 85 applications were from existing medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Nevada Department of Taxation is reviewing the court’s decision with the attorney general’s office and “will explore all legal avenues to proceed with the program as provided in the regulations,” Klapstein said in a statement.

The approval of Question 2 tasked the state with creating a regulated marijuana sales structure by the start of 2018. But after visiting and studying other states that legalized marijuana, Nevada officials determined that waiting a full year after the drug became legal would risk growing the black market. Instead, they planned for an “early start” to get the program up and running by July.

Medical Marijuana in Dispensaries Hawaii are Open but Unable to Sell

hawaiiHawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensary opens Thursday, but don’t expect to see any cannabis on the shelves.

The problem? The state labs tasked with testing medical marijuana prior to sale have yet to be certified. The state Department of Health says they must take the necessary time to ensure that testing is accurate.

“It has to be done in the right way and we think we’re going about a very deliberate path to make sure the law is followed,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the health department’s Office of Health Care Assurance.

So instead of selling medical cannabis on Thursday, Aloha Green will open its doors for patient outreach and education.

“Once they saw that it wasn’t this dingy, scary place, then they started to see it’s something legitimate that will provide relief for a lot of patients,” said Tai Cheng, Chief Operating Officer of Aloha Green.

Cheng says that they’ve harvested four times since last month, but instead of putting product out into the market, they’ve had to vacuum seal their flower and hope that testing is certified sooner rather than later.

“It’s frustrating for our team and our growers. You’re able to hold that product for an extended period of time between 6-12 months, but oxidization of the product does cause it to lose not only its flavor but its efficiency as well,” Cheng said.

The delay is putting dispensary owners in a tough spot: operating costs can exceed $100,000 per month, and without product to sell, there’s no money coming back in.

Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana 17 years ago, but dispensaries weren’t legalized until 2015. Dispensaries were slated to open in July 2016, but the state had not approved software to track the product from seed-to-sale.

The health department plans to have labs up and running by summer.

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