I hope everyone is having a fantastic day, this is Todd Denkin with The National Marijuana News coming to you on Friday August 3rd, 2018. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all with the same handle, @nationalMJNews. And, of course visit our site TNMNews.com for comprehensive coverage of what is going on with legal marijuana around the country and abroad.
I want to start off by thanking both the NCIA and CannaCon for hosting us last week. We were able to bring you live coverage of the events through Facebook Live and you can expect to see more from the speakers and participants of the events over the next couple of weeks. The NCIA event was held in San Jose, California and the CannaCon event was held in Boston, Massachusetts. For anyone interested in finding out what state legal cannabis is about, who is currently involved and how to get involved in the legal cannabis industry, these are great events for learning and networking. Both Massachusetts and California have legalized adult-use and medical marijuana programs but California is much further along. Massachusetts made the recreational use of marijuana legal on July 1st of this year but the state Cannabis Control Commission has been slow in implementing licenses and so the commercial sale of adult-use cannabis will hopefully start sometime later this year. Companies like Sira Naturals, Cultivate and NETA have all received licenses but need more permits and for a cannabis lab testing company to receive licensing. As soon as they have all of their licenses in order, they can then start selling recreational cannabis. There is though a lot of concern that the demand for adult-use cannabis will be more than the dispensaries can handle currently. Massachusetts requires that 35% of all cannabis be set aside for medical marijuana patients.
Pennsylvania Starts Selling Whole Marijuana Flower to Medical Marijuana Patients
Let’s move onto our top stories of the week. This week Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program began selling cannabis flower to patients. 16 dispensaries state-wide are now offering the whole-flower with 12 more coming on-line by next Wednesday after Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana advisory board approved dispensaries selling marijuana flower 11 to 0 in April. This may seem strange to states like Nevada and California where marijuana flower has always been available to medical patients, but some states like Florida and Pennsylvania have banned the smoking of marijuana for patients due to what they believe are health reasons, only allowing concentrates like cannabis oil for vaping purposes. Their initial means of enforcing the smoking ban was to not sell flower at all. In fact, Pennsylvania still plans on enforcing its ban on smoking but is allowing the sale of flower due to how cost prohibitive concentrates can be and since patients have advocated hard for the entourage effect of consuming whole flower. Pennsylvania patients will still need to vape the flower, if they are caught smoking cannabis they could face similar criminal charges as those associated with drug paraphernalia and have their medical marijuana cards revoked. Florida is currently facing a major court battle over their ban on smoking.
Michigan Judge Drops Charges Against 6 Marijuana Growers
The people of Michigan are set to vote in November on whether to legalize adult-use marijuana and currently offers medical marijuana to licensed patients. Similar to California, a so-called gray market has existed in Michigan which authorities have, at times, aggressively worked to eliminate. In May of 2018, a warrant was issued to raid a dispensary in Detroit which resulted in the confiscation of $1 million dollars worth of marijuana plants and the arrest of 6 people. The dispensary was awaiting final permits from the state to grow and dispense medical marijuana, but the city of Detroit had issued them a temporary license to dispense cannabis. The judge dismissed the case last week after prosecutors argued that the dispensary was only authorized to sell cannabis but not grow it. Judge Kenneth King said, “That kind of leads me to the burning question: ‘If you’re able to dispense but you can’t grow it, how are you supposed to get it? Where are you supposed to get it from?'” He ended up dismissing the case out of what he said was, “in the interest of fairness.” Marijuana advocates have for a long time argued that the prohibition of cannabis has led to a great deal of unfair treatment to people and so the judge’s decision is yet another sign that perspectives on marijuana are changing around the country.
Alaska is Beginning to See Real Growth in Its Cannabis Industry
In 2014 Alaskan voters approved the use and sale of adult-use cannabis which became available to consumers in 2015. It has been a tumultuous road for the young industry but it seems to be gaining some real traction. At the end of the 2018 fiscal year, which ended in June, the state had pulled in $11 million in tax revenue from the sale of cannabis which exceeded expectations by $2 million dollars. The previous year Alaska had only pulled in $1.7 million dollars making 2018 an incredible increase. Alaska only has a population of about 738 and half thousand people which means that tourists likely played a major role in the growth of the industry. Alaska was the third state in the country to enact an adult-use market for the consumption and sale of cannabis just after Colorado and Washington, and just before Oregon.
That’s all for this week folks. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and do not forget to follow our culture correspondent’s new Instagram page with the handle, @Xtine.TNMNews. We have many more great events we will cover this year in California and in Florida to help keep you updated on what is happening in the cannabis industry nationwide. When will marijuana be legal everywhere is anyone’s guess at this point but certainly the movement is having its affect state by state. Stay tuned and we will continue to bring you in-depth coverage of what is happening with marijuana on both the state and federal level. Again, this is Todd Denkin with TNMNews.com, have a great weekend!