Torrey Pines Community Planning Board, local residents condemn proposal for new cannabis business

By LUKE HAROLD

The retail cannabis business under consideration, Cookies, would be located at 11330 Sorrento Valley Rd., near three existing cannabis businesses.

The community plan doesn’t prohibit cannabis businesses, but planning board members and residents who spoke during public comment said they don’t fit with the biotech and industrial character of the area. Some said the community plan should be amended to more unequivocally define that character for future projects.

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GreenBroz Launches Industry-First Cannabis Rise-N-Sort Post-Harvest Processing System

GreenBroz Launches Industry-First Cannabis Rise-N-Sort Post-Harvest Processing System

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s adult-use cannabis bill is far from the finish line, but the criminal justice aspect of the legislation was vetted and approved by the Joint Judiciary Committee in a 22-16 vote April 6.

The proposed legislation, An Act Responsibly and Equitably Regulating Adult-Use Cannabis, which Lamont unveiled during his budget address Feb. 10, would authorize the automated erasure of criminal records for those with cannabis-related drug possession convictions and charges.

The overall bill remains a work in progress—with language involving financial issues, regulatory issues, licensing issues and more— but the Judiciary Committee’s due diligence was to get the criminal justice components of the bill right, said Rep. Steven Stafstrom (D), who co-chairs the committee and also co-sponsors the legislation, Senate Bill 888.

“Our cognizance really is on the criminal justice, erasure piece, and I certainly have not heard much opposition to that because I think the language we have in here is language we’ve vetted through fairly well on the criminal justice aspects,” he said during the committee’s meeting on Tuesday.

“On the criminal justice components of this bill, this bill retains and improves upon the language we’ve seen for the last couple years on erasure of prior cannabis convictions,” Stafstrom said. “It puts in place what I believe to be an appropriate mechanism to deal with the issue of driving under the influence, something that is I know of particular interest to this committee, particularly given the fact that neighboring states are undertaking legalization.”

Included in S.B. 888, law enforcement units would be required to have a minimum number of officers report to the Police Officer Standards and Training Council no later than Jan. 1, 2022, so that each unit has state-accredited drug recognition experts to ensure adequate availability of drug recognition experts can respond to instances of impaired driving. Law enforcement units would be able to call upon drug recognition experts from other law enforcement units as necessary and available.

To execute on that front, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council would work with the Highway Safety Office within the Department of Transportation to issue a joint plan to increase access to advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement training and drug recognition expert training for police officers and law enforcement units throughout the state, according to the bill.

Roadside safety and what constitutes probable cause during traffic stops without roadside tests available for cannabis, such as a breathalyzer test for alcohol, has been a reservation of legalizing adult-use cannabis among lawmakers in other states. Last week, roadside safety was part of the debate on the House floor of the New York Legislature.

“As we move through our legislative process, we are not oblivious to what is happening around us, and certainly just last week, New York put in a legalization and regulatory framework,” Stafstrom said. “Massachusetts, to our north, certainly has had legalized cannabis for several years. I think what we are trying to do as we maneuver through this process is to align our legalization effort in as many respects as we can with our neighboring states. And, so, we continue to study what has worked and what has not worked in other locations.”

During the Judiciary Committee meeting, Stafstrom highlighted several amendment’s to S.B. 888 that he said were made to address concerns the committee members heard during a public hearing on the bill.

According to Stafstrom, the Judiciary Committee’s revised bill:

  • Adds legislative appointments to the Social Equity Council and gives it additional authority as a permanent body to develop the means to ensure potential societal, equitable applicants have access to licenses, and that individuals from disproportionately impacted communities can get jobs in the industry.
  • Includes definitive language to clarify that from July 1, 2021 through Jan. 1, 2024, only the existing medical establishments and social equity applicants can open cannabis establishments; and that cannabis establishments have a social equity plan and agree to labor peace and prevailing wage provisions.
  • Creates an accelerator program to provide technical support, mentoring, networking and apprenticeship opportunities for social equity applicants; and creates a workforce pipeline program to help individuals from impacted communities get jobs in the industry.
  • Allows patients in the medical program to home grow up to six plants starting May 1, 2022.
  • Provides the framework for issues involving local zoning and local control of allowing cannabis establishments in individual municipalities.
  • Provides additional employer protections, particularly for federal defense contractors.
  • Proposes that the revenue generated from the sale of cannabis be spent 55% on social equity efforts, 15% to grants for prevention and recovery services and 30% to the general fund to cover administrative costs.

“Those are proposals coming out of this committee based on the concerns and the testimony we heard at the public hearing, but certainly this is not the end of the conversation of the bill before us,” Stafstrom said. “I’m sure we’ll see additional revision as it moves through the legislative process and its next committee of assignment.”

Sen. Gary Winfield (D), who co-chairs the Joint Judiciary Committee, said S.B. 888 is a piece of legislation that he knew from the beginning was going to have a lot of effort put into it, and that he hopes the adult-use conversation continues so that the interests of all involved are represented.

“We also kind of knew that when we got to this point [the bill] wouldn’t be completely baked but that the conversation will continue after this point,” Winfield said. “There are people, both in the legislature and outside the legislature, who paid a lot of attention to this and have a lot of interest in the subject and have things that they want to see in this bill.”

All 22 yay votes out of the committee were from Democrats, while the 16 nays included 13 Republicans and three Democrats.

Rep. Craig Fishbein (R), a ranking member of the committee, said he could not support S.B. 888, or any cannabis legalization bill for that matter, until cannabis is federally legalized.

“Unfortunately, at the very outset, I, in respect for the oath that I took as a state representative to uphold the federal and state constitution, cannot find myself to be in support of this,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, we come together as the United States. And the federal constitution says that under the Supremacy Clause, if the federal government passes a law that state can’t invalidate it.”

Article VI, paragraph two of the U.S. Constitution is commonly referred to as the Supremacy Clause. It establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law, generally take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions, according to Cornell Law School.

“State can’t say, ‘We don’t like that particular federal law,’ and do their own thing,” Fishbein said. “Through our representative government, we send representatives to Washington to represent our interests, and if residents of our state feel that this is a proper overture, then our representatives, our senators, our congresspeople advocate for a change in the federal law.”

While cannabis is not federally legal, the U.S. Department of Justice has not extended its reach to prosecute state-legal cannabis businesses in a fashion that has deterred lawmakers in 18 states and the District of Columbia from passing adult-use legalization measures. And before the U.S. Senate confirmed Merrick Garland as the 86th U.S. attorney general last month, Garland testified that he did not think it was a “useful use” of limited federal resources to prosecute most cannabis-related conduct.

S.B. 888 is not the only cannabis legalization bill being considered in the Connecticut Legislature. House Bill 6377, which emphasizes social equity and includes licensing for social consumption sites and provisions for roadside testing, cleared Connecticut’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, 9-4, on March 25.

But with the Judiciary Committee passing its amended version of Gov. Lamont’s S.B. 888 Tuesday, the two pieces of legislation are now more closely aligned—both measures have been filed with the Legislative Commissioners’ Office.

Stafstrom said, “I would submit that [adult-use cannabis] is long overdue here in the state of Connecticut for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that this is a drug that is widely believed to be less addictive and less harmful to the body than many other drugs that we already legalize and regulate here in the state of Connecticut, including tobacco and alcohol.”

Published at Fri, 09 Apr 2021 15:12:00 +0000

Case report: Consumption of psilocybin-containing mushrooms results in amelioration of OCD symptoms

Case report: Consumption of psilocybin-containing mushrooms results in amelioration of OCD symptoms

Approximately 2.3% of adults will suffer from symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at some point in their life. The disorder is characterized by intrusive, persistent thoughts and compulsive behaviors and a substantial number of people don’t respond well to standard treatments.

A report recently published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs presents the case of a 30-year-old man who showed clinically significant reductions in treatment-resistant OCD symptoms after consuming psilocybin-containing mushrooms, more commonly known as “magic” mushrooms.

The man had suffered from disabling symptoms even after treatment with a variety of medications, including antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and ketamine. He was undergoing treatment at a clinic when he decided to take psychedelic mushrooms.

Read More

Published at Fri, 09 Apr 2021 14:37:34 +0000

Texas Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill In Committee

Texas Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill In Committee

A Texas House committee on Wednesday approved a bill to significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

It’s been a busy week for cannabis reform in the legislature, where multiple panels have taken up proposals ranging from decriminalizing marijuana to establishing regulations for the state’s hemp market.

The medical cannabis legislation, HB 1535, unanimously passed the House Public Health Committee in a 11-0 vote.

Read More

Published at Fri, 09 Apr 2021 14:42:15 +0000

Montana Prepares Its Adult-Use Cannabis Market: Week in Review

Montana Prepares Its Adult-Use Cannabis Market: Week in Review

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s adult-use cannabis bill is far from the finish line, but the criminal justice aspect of the legislation was vetted and approved by the Joint Judiciary Committee in a 22-16 vote April 6.

The proposed legislation, An Act Responsibly and Equitably Regulating Adult-Use Cannabis, which Lamont unveiled during his budget address Feb. 10, would authorize the automated erasure of criminal records for those with cannabis-related drug possession convictions and charges.

The overall bill remains a work in progress—with language involving financial issues, regulatory issues, licensing issues and more— but the Judiciary Committee’s due diligence was to get the criminal justice components of the bill right, said Rep. Steven Stafstrom (D), who co-chairs the committee and also co-sponsors the legislation, Senate Bill 888.

“Our cognizance really is on the criminal justice, erasure piece, and I certainly have not heard much opposition to that because I think the language we have in here is language we’ve vetted through fairly well on the criminal justice aspects,” he said during the committee’s meeting on Tuesday.

“On the criminal justice components of this bill, this bill retains and improves upon the language we’ve seen for the last couple years on erasure of prior cannabis convictions,” Stafstrom said. “It puts in place what I believe to be an appropriate mechanism to deal with the issue of driving under the influence, something that is I know of particular interest to this committee, particularly given the fact that neighboring states are undertaking legalization.”

Included in S.B. 888, law enforcement units would be required to have a minimum number of officers report to the Police Officer Standards and Training Council no later than Jan. 1, 2022, so that each unit has state-accredited drug recognition experts to ensure adequate availability of drug recognition experts can respond to instances of impaired driving. Law enforcement units would be able to call upon drug recognition experts from other law enforcement units as necessary and available.

To execute on that front, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council would work with the Highway Safety Office within the Department of Transportation to issue a joint plan to increase access to advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement training and drug recognition expert training for police officers and law enforcement units throughout the state, according to the bill.

Roadside safety and what constitutes probable cause during traffic stops without roadside tests available for cannabis, such as a breathalyzer test for alcohol, has been a reservation of legalizing adult-use cannabis among lawmakers in other states. Last week, roadside safety was part of the debate on the House floor of the New York Legislature.

“As we move through our legislative process, we are not oblivious to what is happening around us, and certainly just last week, New York put in a legalization and regulatory framework,” Stafstrom said. “Massachusetts, to our north, certainly has had legalized cannabis for several years. I think what we are trying to do as we maneuver through this process is to align our legalization effort in as many respects as we can with our neighboring states. And, so, we continue to study what has worked and what has not worked in other locations.”

During the Judiciary Committee meeting, Stafstrom highlighted several amendment’s to S.B. 888 that he said were made to address concerns the committee members heard during a public hearing on the bill.

According to Stafstrom, the Judiciary Committee’s revised bill:

  • Adds legislative appointments to the Social Equity Council and gives it additional authority as a permanent body to develop the means to ensure potential societal, equitable applicants have access to licenses, and that individuals from disproportionately impacted communities can get jobs in the industry.
  • Includes definitive language to clarify that from July 1, 2021 through Jan. 1, 2024, only the existing medical establishments and social equity applicants can open cannabis establishments; and that cannabis establishments have a social equity plan and agree to labor peace and prevailing wage provisions.
  • Creates an accelerator program to provide technical support, mentoring, networking and apprenticeship opportunities for social equity applicants; and creates a workforce pipeline program to help individuals from impacted communities get jobs in the industry.
  • Allows patients in the medical program to home grow up to six plants starting May 1, 2022.
  • Provides the framework for issues involving local zoning and local control of allowing cannabis establishments in individual municipalities.
  • Provides additional employer protections, particularly for federal defense contractors.
  • Proposes that the revenue generated from the sale of cannabis be spent 55% on social equity efforts, 15% to grants for prevention and recovery services and 30% to the general fund to cover administrative costs.

“Those are proposals coming out of this committee based on the concerns and the testimony we heard at the public hearing, but certainly this is not the end of the conversation of the bill before us,” Stafstrom said. “I’m sure we’ll see additional revision as it moves through the legislative process and its next committee of assignment.”

Sen. Gary Winfield (D), who co-chairs the Joint Judiciary Committee, said S.B. 888 is a piece of legislation that he knew from the beginning was going to have a lot of effort put into it, and that he hopes the adult-use conversation continues so that the interests of all involved are represented.

“We also kind of knew that when we got to this point [the bill] wouldn’t be completely baked but that the conversation will continue after this point,” Winfield said. “There are people, both in the legislature and outside the legislature, who paid a lot of attention to this and have a lot of interest in the subject and have things that they want to see in this bill.”

All 22 yay votes out of the committee were from Democrats, while the 16 nays included 13 Republicans and three Democrats.

Rep. Craig Fishbein (R), a ranking member of the committee, said he could not support S.B. 888, or any cannabis legalization bill for that matter, until cannabis is federally legalized.

“Unfortunately, at the very outset, I, in respect for the oath that I took as a state representative to uphold the federal and state constitution, cannot find myself to be in support of this,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, we come together as the United States. And the federal constitution says that under the Supremacy Clause, if the federal government passes a law that state can’t invalidate it.”

Article VI, paragraph two of the U.S. Constitution is commonly referred to as the Supremacy Clause. It establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law, generally take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions, according to Cornell Law School.

“State can’t say, ‘We don’t like that particular federal law,’ and do their own thing,” Fishbein said. “Through our representative government, we send representatives to Washington to represent our interests, and if residents of our state feel that this is a proper overture, then our representatives, our senators, our congresspeople advocate for a change in the federal law.”

While cannabis is not federally legal, the U.S. Department of Justice has not extended its reach to prosecute state-legal cannabis businesses in a fashion that has deterred lawmakers in 18 states and the District of Columbia from passing adult-use legalization measures. And before the U.S. Senate confirmed Merrick Garland as the 86th U.S. attorney general last month, Garland testified that he did not think it was a “useful use” of limited federal resources to prosecute most cannabis-related conduct.

S.B. 888 is not the only cannabis legalization bill being considered in the Connecticut Legislature. House Bill 6377, which emphasizes social equity and includes licensing for social consumption sites and provisions for roadside testing, cleared Connecticut’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, 9-4, on March 25.

But with the Judiciary Committee passing its amended version of Gov. Lamont’s S.B. 888 Tuesday, the two pieces of legislation are now more closely aligned—both measures have been filed with the Legislative Commissioners’ Office.

Stafstrom said, “I would submit that [adult-use cannabis] is long overdue here in the state of Connecticut for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that this is a drug that is widely believed to be less addictive and less harmful to the body than many other drugs that we already legalize and regulate here in the state of Connecticut, including tobacco and alcohol.”

Published at Sat, 10 Apr 2021 11:00:00 +0000

Canopy Growth Corp. Receives A Major Price Target Downgrade Post Acquisition Of The Supreme Cannabis Company

Canopy Growth Corp. Receives A Major Price Target Downgrade Post Acquisition Of The Supreme Cannabis Company

Yesterday, Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) (CGC) entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Supreme Cannabis (FIRE.TO) (SPRWF).

The acquisition is not cheap and the development sent shares of Supreme Cannabis almost 50% higher. In regards to Canopy Growth, the market was not too pleased with the development and the shares traded more than 5% lower. Both price movements took place on heavy trading volume and this is a metric that we will be closely following on a going forward basis.

After the market closed on Thursday, broker-dealer Cowen and Company slashed its price target on Canopy Growth to $44 from $75 (CAD). With a $44 price target, the broker-dealer implies that there is more than 20% of upside to Canopy Growth’s current price.

Although the broker-dealer believes there is still upside to current levels, the size of the price target decrease was substantial. The market seems to be less bullish on Canopy Growth after it filed the agreement to acquire Supreme and we will monitor the trend from here.

Going forward, we expect to see additional changes in ratings and price targets on Canopy Growth. In the near future, we expect to see the company make additional acquisitions and will monitor how the story advances from here.

During the last six months, we have seen a substantial increase in the amount of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in cannabis sector. Prior to the Supreme Cannabis acquisition, Canopy Growth has been relatively quiet on the M&A front. With approx. $2.5 billion of cash on the balance sheet, the company is well positioned to acquire strategic assets and we expect to see the management team focus on gaining market share in strategic international markets.

We expect Canopy Growth to one of the greatest beneficiaries of the increased amount of M&A activity in the cannabis industry. Although the company does not have the best track record of making acquisitions, Canopy Growth is allowed to make mistakes due to the strength of the balance sheet. We find this to be an important aspect of the story and will monitor how other broker-dealers responds to the transaction.

Going forward, we will be closely following how the acquisition of Supreme Cannabis benefits Canopy Growth, please send an email to support@technical420.com with the subject “Canopy Growth’s Acquisition of Supreme Cannabis” to be added to our distribution list.

For the fastest access to data on the Canopy Growth, you can set up a free account or sign up for our free newsletter!

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Authored By

Michael Berger

Michael Berger is Managing Partner of StoneBridge Partners LLC. SBP continues to drive market awareness for leading firms in the cannabis industry throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Published at Fri, 09 Apr 2021 11:37:44 +0000

The Time For Shareholders To Vote On The Tilray and Aphria MegaMerger Is Now

The Time For Shareholders To Vote On The Tilray and Aphria MegaMerger Is Now

This morning, Aphria Inc. (TSX: APHA) (Nasdaq: APHA) published a press release where it encourages investors to vote on the proposed business combination with Tilray Inc. (TLRY).

Aphria’s Board of Directors have unanimously recommended that shareholders vote in favor of the strategic business combination and we expect to see the transaction approved by shareholders.

The combination of Tilray and Aphria will create a business that has a leading position on the international cannabis market and has substantial market share of Canada’s recreational and medical cannabis market. Going forward, we believe the combined company will be an industry leader and will monitor the trend ahead of the closing of the transaction.

Broker-dealers that are focused on the cannabis industry seem to be bullish on the growth prospects of the combined company and we agree with this belief. Today, we have provided 5 highlights from Aphria’s press release that support the completion of the transaction:

  1. The business combination is expected to further strengthen the combined company’s global business and capabilities
  2. The combined company is expected to continue to focus on executing on strategic merger and acquisition (M&S) transactions in the US or abroad
  3. The M&A growth strategy will be highly focused on making accretive investments or acquisitions of branded consumer products and the medical cannabis industry
  4. The combination of the companies will result in a business that has a robust financial profile, low-cost production, leading brands, distribution network, and unique partnerships
  5. The management team expects the combined company to benefit from having better access to capital and believe this will a key competitive strength and differentiator of the business

If you want to say up to date with Aphria ahead of the shareholder vote, please send an email to support@technical420.com with the subject “Aphria and Tilray Merger” to be added to our distribution list.

For the fastest access to data on the Aphria and Tilray merger, you can set up a free account or sign up for our free newsletter!

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Authored By

Michael Berger

Michael Berger is Managing Partner of StoneBridge Partners LLC. SBP continues to drive market awareness for leading firms in the cannabis industry throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Published at Fri, 09 Apr 2021 12:22:59 +0000

Montana House Advances Three Republican Bills to Implement Adult-Use Cannabis

Montana House Advances Three Republican Bills to Implement Adult-Use Cannabis

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s adult-use cannabis bill is far from the finish line, but the criminal justice aspect of the legislation was vetted and approved by the Joint Judiciary Committee in a 22-16 vote April 6.

The proposed legislation, An Act Responsibly and Equitably Regulating Adult-Use Cannabis, which Lamont unveiled during his budget address Feb. 10, would authorize the automated erasure of criminal records for those with cannabis-related drug possession convictions and charges.

The overall bill remains a work in progress—with language involving financial issues, regulatory issues, licensing issues and more— but the Judiciary Committee’s due diligence was to get the criminal justice components of the bill right, said Rep. Steven Stafstrom (D), who co-chairs the committee and also co-sponsors the legislation, Senate Bill 888.

“Our cognizance really is on the criminal justice, erasure piece, and I certainly have not heard much opposition to that because I think the language we have in here is language we’ve vetted through fairly well on the criminal justice aspects,” he said during the committee’s meeting on Tuesday.

“On the criminal justice components of this bill, this bill retains and improves upon the language we’ve seen for the last couple years on erasure of prior cannabis convictions,” Stafstrom said. “It puts in place what I believe to be an appropriate mechanism to deal with the issue of driving under the influence, something that is I know of particular interest to this committee, particularly given the fact that neighboring states are undertaking legalization.”

Included in S.B. 888, law enforcement units would be required to have a minimum number of officers report to the Police Officer Standards and Training Council no later than Jan. 1, 2022, so that each unit has state-accredited drug recognition experts to ensure adequate availability of drug recognition experts can respond to instances of impaired driving. Law enforcement units would be able to call upon drug recognition experts from other law enforcement units as necessary and available.

To execute on that front, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council would work with the Highway Safety Office within the Department of Transportation to issue a joint plan to increase access to advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement training and drug recognition expert training for police officers and law enforcement units throughout the state, according to the bill.

Roadside safety and what constitutes probable cause during traffic stops without roadside tests available for cannabis, such as a breathalyzer test for alcohol, has been a reservation of legalizing adult-use cannabis among lawmakers in other states. Last week, roadside safety was part of the debate on the House floor of the New York Legislature.

“As we move through our legislative process, we are not oblivious to what is happening around us, and certainly just last week, New York put in a legalization and regulatory framework,” Stafstrom said. “Massachusetts, to our north, certainly has had legalized cannabis for several years. I think what we are trying to do as we maneuver through this process is to align our legalization effort in as many respects as we can with our neighboring states. And, so, we continue to study what has worked and what has not worked in other locations.”

During the Judiciary Committee meeting, Stafstrom highlighted several amendment’s to S.B. 888 that he said were made to address concerns the committee members heard during a public hearing on the bill.

According to Stafstrom, the Judiciary Committee’s revised bill:

  • Adds legislative appointments to the Social Equity Council and gives it additional authority as a permanent body to develop the means to ensure potential societal, equitable applicants have access to licenses, and that individuals from disproportionately impacted communities can get jobs in the industry.
  • Includes definitive language to clarify that from July 1, 2021 through Jan. 1, 2024, only the existing medical establishments and social equity applicants can open cannabis establishments; and that cannabis establishments have a social equity plan and agree to labor peace and prevailing wage provisions.
  • Creates an accelerator program to provide technical support, mentoring, networking and apprenticeship opportunities for social equity applicants; and creates a workforce pipeline program to help individuals from impacted communities get jobs in the industry.
  • Allows patients in the medical program to home grow up to six plants starting May 1, 2022.
  • Provides the framework for issues involving local zoning and local control of allowing cannabis establishments in individual municipalities.
  • Provides additional employer protections, particularly for federal defense contractors.
  • Proposes that the revenue generated from the sale of cannabis be spent 55% on social equity efforts, 15% to grants for prevention and recovery services and 30% to the general fund to cover administrative costs.

“Those are proposals coming out of this committee based on the concerns and the testimony we heard at the public hearing, but certainly this is not the end of the conversation of the bill before us,” Stafstrom said. “I’m sure we’ll see additional revision as it moves through the legislative process and its next committee of assignment.”

Sen. Gary Winfield (D), who co-chairs the Joint Judiciary Committee, said S.B. 888 is a piece of legislation that he knew from the beginning was going to have a lot of effort put into it, and that he hopes the adult-use conversation continues so that the interests of all involved are represented.

“We also kind of knew that when we got to this point [the bill] wouldn’t be completely baked but that the conversation will continue after this point,” Winfield said. “There are people, both in the legislature and outside the legislature, who paid a lot of attention to this and have a lot of interest in the subject and have things that they want to see in this bill.”

All 22 yay votes out of the committee were from Democrats, while the 16 nays included 13 Republicans and three Democrats.

Rep. Craig Fishbein (R), a ranking member of the committee, said he could not support S.B. 888, or any cannabis legalization bill for that matter, until cannabis is federally legalized.

“Unfortunately, at the very outset, I, in respect for the oath that I took as a state representative to uphold the federal and state constitution, cannot find myself to be in support of this,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, we come together as the United States. And the federal constitution says that under the Supremacy Clause, if the federal government passes a law that state can’t invalidate it.”

Article VI, paragraph two of the U.S. Constitution is commonly referred to as the Supremacy Clause. It establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law, generally take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions, according to Cornell Law School.

“State can’t say, ‘We don’t like that particular federal law,’ and do their own thing,” Fishbein said. “Through our representative government, we send representatives to Washington to represent our interests, and if residents of our state feel that this is a proper overture, then our representatives, our senators, our congresspeople advocate for a change in the federal law.”

While cannabis is not federally legal, the U.S. Department of Justice has not extended its reach to prosecute state-legal cannabis businesses in a fashion that has deterred lawmakers in 18 states and the District of Columbia from passing adult-use legalization measures. And before the U.S. Senate confirmed Merrick Garland as the 86th U.S. attorney general last month, Garland testified that he did not think it was a “useful use” of limited federal resources to prosecute most cannabis-related conduct.

S.B. 888 is not the only cannabis legalization bill being considered in the Connecticut Legislature. House Bill 6377, which emphasizes social equity and includes licensing for social consumption sites and provisions for roadside testing, cleared Connecticut’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, 9-4, on March 25.

But with the Judiciary Committee passing its amended version of Gov. Lamont’s S.B. 888 Tuesday, the two pieces of legislation are now more closely aligned—both measures have been filed with the Legislative Commissioners’ Office.

Stafstrom said, “I would submit that [adult-use cannabis] is long overdue here in the state of Connecticut for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that this is a drug that is widely believed to be less addictive and less harmful to the body than many other drugs that we already legalize and regulate here in the state of Connecticut, including tobacco and alcohol.”

Published at Fri, 09 Apr 2021 16:24:00 +0000

New Coalition Launches to End Cannabis Prohibition, Bridge Across Ideological, Party Lines

New Coalition Launches to End Cannabis Prohibition, Bridge Across Ideological, Party Lines

Buckeye Relief | buckeyerelief.com

The Buckeye Relief infused-foods team, including Kitchen Manager Emily Rollo (front left), Executive Chef Marc London (front right), Kitchen Tech Lupe Rivera (back row, from left), Kitchen Tech Ricardo Yepez and Assistant Kitchen Manager Ryan Fatica, carefully craft a line of cannabis edibles with a focus on taste and effectiveness.

The first time Marc London received a complaint about the taste of his chocolate, there was only one response he deemed appropriate.

“Thank you,” said London, the executive chef at Buckeye Relief, a medical cannabis cultivator and processor in Eastlake, Ohio, about 15 miles northeast of Cleveland, where he and Kitchen Manager Emily Rollo carefully craft infused foods with a focus on taste and effectiveness. Their line of edibles includes chocolates; locally sourced honey; Wana gummies; and Keef Brands, an infused beverage available in lemonade and strawberry kiwi.

Tony Lange | cannabisbusinesstimes.com

Buckeye Relief’s 25,000-square-foot indoor grow facility became operational in July 2018 in Eastlake, Ohio. 

Buckeye Relief, which has a 25,000-square-foot indoor grow facility that became operational in July 2018, launched its kitchen operation shortly after getting an extraction license in the spring of 2019. While Ohio legalized medical cannabis in 2016, statewide sales didn’t begin until early 2019.

An executive chef by trade, London always worked with chocolate when he owned a prepared-foods store and a catering business in the mid-80s, he said. Since London believes chocolate is one of the most complex food products on the planet to work with, he made it his mission to search high and low for the best commodity on the globe to infuse, he said.

Buckeye Relief co-founders Andy Rayburn, CEO, and Scott Halloran, chief operating officer, began the planning phases of their company in 2016, shortly before Ohio’s passage of medical cannabis House Bill 523—two years before Buckeye Relief became operational—which provided London ample time to track down the right chocolate for the operation.

“I was even down in Ecuador looking at chocolates down there, because I think Ecuador is one of the best producers of chocolate in the world, even though most of our chocolate comes from South Africa,” London said. “And I just happened to be in Ecuador, so … I just started doing some research down there and brought some back here.”

Tony Lange | cannabisbusinesstimes.com

Buckeye Relief offers a 72% cacao dark chocolate, a smooth and creamy milk chocolate and a 1-to-1 ratio marble chocolate year-round. 

While his prospects from Ecuador showed promise, London and his team at Buckeye Relief eventually decided on a Belgian chocolate to infuse in their kitchen. They now offer a 72% cacao dark chocolate, a smooth and creamy milk chocolate and a 1-to-1 ratio marble chocolate, as well as seasonal flavors, like a white-minted chocolate with sprinkles during December holidays.

Key to Buckeye Relief’s line of infused foods is the kitchen’s focus on producing edibles that don’t have the flowery or grassy taste of the cannabis plant, and that goes for all of the edibles, not just the chocolate, London said. “I wanted products that tasted just like the ingredients that went into it with the exception of the extraction ingredients,” he said.

In turn, London steered clear from compound chocolate, which can be melted down and deposited into molds without being tempered, and put his attention on “real” chocolate, which requires the breaking down of fats and waxes before being tempered back to its original state with the cannabis extract infused, he said. The end product retrieves a nice, glossy finish, he said.

“When you look at really good chocolate, you’re like, ‘Wow, that is beautiful,’” London said.

He and his team—which, along with Rollo, also includes Assistant Kitchen Manager Ryan Fatica and kitchen techs Lupe Rivera and Ricardo Yepez—were not just after an infused chocolate that had good health benefits, but a product that both presented itself well and had great taste, he said.

So, when Buckeye Relief Communications and Marketing Director Leslie Brandon notified London that she received a complaint about the taste of his chocolate, specifically regarding how one consumer “could not taste the cannabis” in the product, there was only one response he deemed appropriate: “Thank you.”

“And that’s literally happened numerous times where I’ll get emails from Leslie, ‘Marc, we just got a complaint. They can’t taste anything in the chocolate,’” London said. “And the first time she ever sent that to me, I just emailed her back, ‘OK, I’m going to take that as the ultimate compliment, because that’s what I set out to achieve from day one.’”

London also attributed the taste of Buckeye Relief’s chocolate to the extraction team’s understanding of how to process a cleaner and redefined end product from the plant to infuse into the edibles, he said.

Planting Their Roots

Still in its infancy, Ohio’s medical cannabis program has more than 176,000 registered patients as of Feb. 28, 2021, according to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. On the retail front, Ohio averaged $5.7 million in total product sales per week through the first 10 weeks of 2021, compared to an average of $2.5 million per week during the same timeframe in 2020, according to the control program.

But London and Rollo’s connection to cannabis and to the kitchen extends beyond Buckeye Relief. Friends with Rayburn for more than 30 years, London’s first customer for his catering business in the ‘80s was Rayburn’s ex-wife, he said.

“That’s how I met Andy, and what bonded us was our love of music, live music, and our love for sports,” London said. “I’ve seen over 250 [Grateful] Dead shows in my life. A hundred of them were probably with Andy. And we haven’t stopped yet. So, when we had that jam-band connection, that carried us through all these years. We’ve gone all over the place. It’s great.”

On Dec. 5, 2018, the night before Buckeye Relief’s first harvest and the plants’ last night in the flower room, Rayburn gave the crop a special treatment. He played the Grateful Dead’s legendary 1977 concert at Cornell University’s Barton Hall over the PA system, making sure the plants had a “good last evening,” Rayburn said.

RELATED ARTICLE: Buckeye Relief’s First Harvest in Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Market

After his prepared-foods store and catering business, which he transitioned into a smoothie juice bar operation, London went on to extend his expertise in the publishing industry, where he built a Cleveland-based magazine called Fine Lifestyles that shared editorial about the people, cultures and businesses that make up Northeast Ohio.

London said he’d still be running that magazine if it were not for Rayburn.

“I’d still be in that business if Mr. Andy Rayburn hadn’t said, ‘Marc, I think I’m going into the cannabis business,’” London said. “And I heard that and said, ‘OK, well, if he’s going in the cannabis business, then I’m going into the cannabis business—just let me know when and where.”

Once Buckeye Relief built its facility and started its grow, it was just a matter of time before the company received its extraction license and opened a kitchen for infused foods. Until then, London sometimes helped out in other facets of the operation, including trimming plants. That’s where he first crossed paths with Rollo.

Intern to Kitchen Manager

Tony Lange | cannabisbusinesstimes.com

Buckeye Relief Kitchen Manager Emily Rollo got her start as an intern in the trim department in 2018. 

Rollo first started working at Buckeye Relief as an intern in the trim department in 2018, an entry-level, yet important phase of cannabis cultivation.

Working in the restaurant industry for five years to help put herself through college, Rollo graduated with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and earned a certificate in non-profit leadership, before starting a short career in the advertising industry, where she worked sales and marketing.

During that time, Rollo had a grandmother who struggled with opioids and being able to control her doses, she said. That was around the same time Ohio passed its medical cannabis bill, which sparked Rollo’s interest in researching related opportunities before networking and eventually getting her foot in the door at Buckeye Relief, she said.

“I came from working in the advertising industry, which I really loved my job,” Rollo said. “I really enjoyed it. But I wasn’t feeling fulfilled, you know, I wanted to help people and I wanted to feel like I had that purpose.”

Once in the door, Rollo’s journey shifted toward making herself standout among 30-some interns in the trim department, she said.

“I had to create a system for myself and a strategy for myself to kind of set myself apart and start networking with people,” Rollo said. “I spotted Marc in the trim room and just started talking to him, chatting with him. Over conversation, I was able to figure out his history—I didn’t know at that point that he was in charge of the kitchen. I didn’t know at that point that he was hired in. I just knew that he was back there helping us trim.”

Diving deeper into conversation with London and picking his brain about his expertise and his soon-to-be kitchen operation, Rollo quickly went from intern to kitchen manager in roughly a year. Through her desire to be on a team that provides edibles for patients in Ohio, Rollo travelled out to Colorado with London in July 2019 to train under experts from Wana Brands, a U.S. leading infused-products company known for its gummies.

Gummy Trends

Shelby | Adobe Stock

Cannabis-infused gummies are the most popular edible in the U.S. 

According to cannabis market research expert BDSA, a consumer insights data report from September 2020 revealed that infused gummies made up 84% of candy ingestible sales at that point in the year across Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon. In addition, 60% of U.S. edible users reported consumption of infused gummies, while baked goods were the second most popular ingestible product at 46%. And 33% of U.S. ingestible consumers cited gummies as their preferred type of edible, with a 15-point margin over baked goods as the next most popular preferred ingestible product.

“Seeing how the sales trends go, as legalization spreads throughout the United States, I saw this big opportunity that this is going to be the future of the industry,” Rollo said. “This is going to be the future of dosing. People, especially the older generations, love how convenient it is. You don’t have to smoke it. It’s something you can keep in your pocket and dose throughout the day. So that is kind of what really, really sparked my interest in that part of the industry, [where] I really saw myself thriving.”

After their weeklong training with Wana in Colorado, Rollo and London received additional hands-on instruction from Wana experts, who flew out to Ohio for detailed recipe explanations at Buckeye Relief.

And in order to meet testing standards in Ohio, Rollo said she and the Buckeye Relief team fine-tuned their gummy trials for maybe six to nine months before finally dialing in their operation. Now, a team of three to four people in the kitchen can produce anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 gummies in a typical day, Rollo said.

In order to be more efficient, the kitchen team sometimes operates in longer shifts, working from Monday through Thursday, so that it only has to go through the time-consuming processes of setting up and cleaning up four times in a week rather than five times, Rollo said.

“I am extremely passionate in every single batch that I make, you know, my passion shows through it,” she said. “So definitely the gummies [are my passion], cause it’s kind of in my heart and soul from the beginning. I kind of had to go through a lot of testing issues, you know, to kind of get that formulation correct on it for probably six to nine months until we really dialed it in. So, yeah, it’s been a journey.”

The Buckeye Relief kitchen team produces several different cannabidiol (CBD)-to-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ratios in gummies. For example, there’s a five-to-one pomegranate blueberry acai gummy that has 25 milligrams of CBD to 5 milligrams of THC, which is popular among people who haven’t tried edibles before and are interested in the micro-dosing market, Rollo said. And then there are strawberry lemonade and watermelon flavors that include a one-to-one ratio of 10 milligrams of CBD to 10 milligrams of THC, while more exotic flavors, like yuzu, offer a two-to-one ratio.

Meanwhile, Buckeye Relief also produces gummies that are straight THC, including 10-milligram pieces as well as a new macro line of 30-milligram gummies in raspberry-limeade and blood orange flavors, which are for the more experienced consumers, Rollo said.

The specific flavors come from proprietary blends of terpenes—aromatic compounds found in many plants, including cannabis—that are picked out by Wana, Rollo said. In addition to flavoring, terpenes also provide different effects, she said.

“So, the mango is more of the sativa, which has the uplifting effects,” she said. “Indica more for the asleep. And hybrid obviously for a little bit of both.”

Attention is in the Details

When it comes to creating products that not only land on the shelves at dispensaries, but also stay on those shelves, Rollo and London both said their efforts boil down to running a detail-oriented operation.

Tony Lange | cannabisbusinesstimes.com

Buckeye Relief’s flower room includes several cannabis varieties. 

“We operate exactly like any other [non-cannabis] medical facility in the state of Ohio,” Rollo said. “We want to make sure that we have a professional representation of how we operate. We’re trying to prove ourselves in some ways, showing that we are this legitimate business, and this is a medicine that helps people.”

On the edibles side of the industry, London said his team treats infused foods like artisanal products. For example, one batch will generate 700 gummies—only a fraction of a daily production. But rather than use a bigger cooking pot, the team at Buckeye Relief controls the quality of each gummy by simply producing more batches, London said. The same dialed-in concept applies to chocolates, he said.

“I could take a giant chocolate tank of 200 gallons of chocolate and fuse the whole thing and then start pumping it out,” he said. “I am not going to end up controlling the quality or the potency the way I can in a 15-pound run.”

Each 15-pound run will produce about 120 bars of chocolate, London said. If market demand increased beyond Buckeye Relief’s current output, then the best avenue to scale up production and maintain the quality of the brand would be to train more staff to handle more runs, he said.

Another factor pertaining to chocolate, especially the volatility of milk chocolate, is humidity, which can create a bloom, or a white, shadowy appearance that puts an eyesore on the presentation to each bar, London said.

“Up until this past summer, when I put new dehumidifiers in here, I had to produce a lot of my milk chocolate in the springtime,” he said. “There’s just too much moisture in the [summer] air. You can’t get it to cool down properly and harden properly. So, it really, it’s not as much what we produce on a daily/weekly basis, but it’s how do we control it so we can put out the highest quality year-round.”

Buckeye Relief also has a brand of locally sourced raw honey that is harvested using natural methods and then infused with a little extra buzz. While the company has its own beehives, it doesn’t have enough to keep up with demand. In turn, Buckeye Relief connected with a local beekeeper from Bainbridge Township, in neighboring Geauga County, who provides a few hundred gallons of honey any time the kitchen needs it, London said.

And then Buckeye Relief’s line of Keef—a brand in the cannabis beverage space that was originally launched in 2010 in Boulder, Colorado—includes a strawberry kiwi beverage that tastes similar to flavored water and a lemonade that tastes like a powdered-beverage mix, London said.

“I think the market is going to really, really enjoy it,” he said. “If I was making that beverage and when you drank it you were like, ‘Oh my, god. What’s that bitter, nasty plant taste?’ we would never have that product here at Buckeye Relief.

“One of the things is, we have worked really, really hard for shelf space at dispensaries. So, our commitment is, we worked so hard to get it, we can’t lose that shelf space, which means we need to be able to duplicate and produce enough to never run out. And some products just aren’t designed for that.”

Published at Tue, 06 Apr 2021 20:09:00 +0000

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