Minority-Focused Cannabis Business Accelerator Accepts Its Inaugural Round Of Applicants

First participants made up exclusively of women, economic empowerment, and minority owned small businesses.

MASSACHUSETTS: Sira Naturals, a Massachusetts-based registered marijuana dispensary (RMD) group, has accepted the inaugural class of applicants into the Sira Accelerator program, its small-business accelerator designed to help entrepreneurs navigate and succeed within the emerging regulated cannabis industry.

From an initial response of more than 400 applicants, three groups were chosen based on the quality of the teams and viability of the products. The three companies include: Healing Tree Edibles, a women-owned producer of craft cannabis infused edibles and pet snacks based on Cape Cod; Hothouse Holyoke, an aspiring craft cannabis cultivator and product manufacturer based in the disproportionately impacted community of Holyoke; and 612 Studios, an Economic Empowerment applicant based in Boston that produces a women’s and couples’ cannabis infused product line.

“We looked at hundreds of inspiring and enthusiastic entrepreneurs during our application process, and these three successful applicants have demonstrated a vision and dedication to their work that is second to none,” said Michael Dundas, president and chief executive officer of Sira Naturals. “Sira Naturals is grateful to have the opportunity to share what we have learned throughout our journey as an organization, and to accelerate these small businesses to enormous success. Many of the other groups that applied showed tremendous potential and we hope to work with many of them in the future.”

“We are very excited about this opportunity and I can’t wait to start working,” said Leah Samura, one member of the husband and wife team that makes up 612 Studios. “As an Economic Empowerment applicant, the barriers to entry in the cannabis industry are extremely high. This program is so unique and valuable in how it can help our company make the transition to the regulated marketplace.”

“When we moved to Massachusetts we deliberately chose Holyoke as our new community,” said Audrey Park, co-founder of Hothouse Holyoke which has applied to the Cannabis Control Commission for Cultivation and Product Manufacturing licenses. “We believe that the cannabis industry has the economic potential to give back to disproportionately impacted communities and we want to be a part of this movement.”

“This is truly a historic moment in the cannabis industry,” said Michelle Bennett, founder of Healing Tree Edibles. “For a small business like mine, the Accelerator offers the potential to reach a much wider market than I could achieve on my own,” she said. Healing Tree currently manufactures cannabidiol-infused pet treats.

The goal of the program is to provide cannabis entrepreneurs an immediate path-forward in product development, slicing through barriers to entry, and accelerating them to profitability. The Sira Accelerator provides access to world-class lab technology, workspace, and executive mentorship. Additionally, each small-business receives an allotment of Sira Naturals-produced cannabinoid substrate, or cannabis oil, that is invaluable to product development, and often the most prohibitive hurdle for these small businesses to overcome.

 

Colorado: Retail Marijuana Sales Not Associated With Increased Youth Access Or Use

COLORADO:  The establishment of retail cannabis sales for adults is not associated with either increased marijuana access or use by young people, according to data published online in the journal Prevention Science.

A team of investigators with the University of Colorado, School of Public Health assessed marijuana use trends among a representative sample of Colorado high-school students for the years just prior to the implementation of retail sales and again 18-months later.

Authors reported: “There was an absence of significant effects for change in lifetime or past 30-day marijuana use. Among those reporting past 30-day use, frequent use and use on school property declined. There was a significant decline in the perceived harm associated with marijuana use, but we did not find a significant effect for perceived wrongfulness, perceived ease of access, or perceived parental disapproval.”

They concluded, “We did not find a significant effect associated with the introduction of legal sales of recreational marijuana to adults in Colorado on adolescent (illegal) use.”

The data is consistent with prior studies finding that neither the enactment of medical cannabis legalization nor the enactment of adult use regulation is independently associated with increased marijuana use by young people. Separate survey data released by the Department of Public Health and Environment last month reported that rates of marijuana use by Colorado teens have remained virtually unchanged following legalization, and are consistent with the national average.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Adolescent marijuana use, marijuana-related perceptions, and use of other substances before and after initiation of retail marijuana sales in Colorado (2013-2015),” appears in Prevention Science.

AltMed Raises $35.4 Million To Fuel Growth In Florida, Arizona & Internationally

FLORIDA: Alternative Medical Enterprises, a fully integrated company that brings pharmaceutical industry precision to the development, production and dispensing of medical cannabis, announced it has closed a private placement financing of $35.4 million with an affiliate of MainLine Investment Partners and other investors.

altmed logo

“This Financing will help us to conduct a robust launch in the massive medical marijuana marketplace of Florida and build out our 25 authorized dispensaries,” said Matthew Duffy, AltMed President and COO. “It will also enable us to accelerate the expansion of our cultivation capabilities and increase our footprint in Arizona. We anticipate significant growth over the next few years as we expand our licensed facilities to meet the needs of medical cannabis patients in Florida and Arizona.”

Additionally, the investment will provide capital to grow AltMed’s award winning MÜV brand of premium cannabis products nationally & internationally. Funding will also clear the balance sheet of debt and allow AltMed’s industry leading R&D to continue to prosper.