In November of 2019, a Pew Research study revealed that 9 out of 10 Americans favor legalization of either medical or recreational/adult-use marijuana. As a political issue, the study found that a majority of Republicans—55%—and a majority of Democrats—78%—were in favor of legalization. American voters no longer believe marijuana should remain a criminalized, Schedule I substance. This is not shocking. The people have spoken, the money is flowing, and the globe keeps on spinning.
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The medical cannabis market in Maryland is flourishing, with sales rapidly moving toward half a billion dollars a year.
Experts credit that success, in part, to clear and transparent regulations – and regulators who have balanced compliance with patient access.
But a huge lingering issue looms: litigation and investigations into a 2019 licensing round that was designed to boost diversity in the industry.
Four cultivation and 10 processing licenses hang in the balance, as does the state’s reputation to provide fair access to minorities and women.
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The legal cannabis industry continues to mature, which means the sector is confronting the accompanying growing pains.
That includes facing its first recession.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the United States officially entered a recession in February, the result of nationwide stay-at-home orders and an enormous economic downturn spurred by the COVID-19 crisis.
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In many jurisdictions with legal marijuana, businesses in the cannabis industry have been deemed essential services and permitted to remain open during shutdowns ordered to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. And while most companies appreciate being able to stay in operation during troubling economic times, doing so presents its own challenges to keep employees and customers safe.
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Later this month, members of the House will debate a relatively inconspicuous appropriations amendment that seeks to remove a single word from the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill. Should a majority of members approve the amendment and enact it into law, it will be the most significant step that Congress has ever taken to end the failed and cruel policy of federal marijuana criminalization.
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Virginia’s Board of Pharmacy awarded five cannabis processing licenses in late 2018, and three of the recipients are expected to begin dispensing cannabis products to patients within the next two months. The program remains rather narrow at the onset, even after several big improvements, but, like many other states, it should expand in the years ahead. Click the link in our bio to read more about the history and rules of the program, review the licensed operators and assess the likelihood of growth.
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As Congress prepares large-scale legislation to fund federal agencies for the next year, marijuana reform seems to be making progress. House versions of spending bills unveiled this week include provisions to protect medical legalization laws from federal interference, ease marijuana businesses’ access to basic banking services, expand cannabis research, oversee the country’s fledgling hemp and CBD industries and finally grant Washington, D.C. the ability to legalize recreational sales.
The specific provisions are still subject to change over the course of the legislative process, but as introduced in subcommittees this week, they signal a meaningful shift by lawmakers: Key cannabis provisions, once relegated to a convoluted amendment process, have been included in the base versions of the new bills. Some activists see the change as a sign that marijuana is no longer an afterthought in Congress.
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As more brands enter the marijuana products marketplace, competition for retail shelf space in key adult-use markets such as Colorado and Washington state is intensifying.
While the number of new brands – and, consequently, the amount of new products – continues to rise, growth in the number of retail stores has not kept pace, according to the 2020 edition of the Marijuana Business Factbook.
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With the increased demand for medical cannabis and the potential for adult use on the horizon also comes risk, much of which can be mitigated through planning and due diligence. This is particularly true regarding the siting of the operation. It is never too early to start identifying potential locations due to the business needs, governmental regulations, and environmental concerns that exist. Early action and securing a site that meets the many items addressed above may be the difference between becoming an active licensee or waiting on the sidelines.
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Covid-19 has accelerated cannabis industry trends and highlighted business principles that set companies up for success regardless of external circumstances.
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