AFC Gamma Provides Justice Cannabis Co. With $22 Million Senior Secured Credit Facility to Fund its New Jersey Expansion

FLORIDA:  AFC Gamma, Inc. announced it has provided a credit facility of $22 million to Justice Cannabis Co., a Chicago-based multi-state operator with licenses in eight states. The credit facility is designed to provide Justice Cannabis Co. with the capital necessary to purchase and complete the build out of its 72,000 square foot cultivation and processing facility, along with the buildout of a dispensary, both in Ewing, New Jersey.

“We are pleased to support Justice Cannabis Co. as it continues to expand its operations in New Jersey,” said Leonard M. Tannenbaum, AFC’s Chief Executive Officer. “With adult use marijuana recently legalized in the state, we believe New Jersey will have favorable supply and demand dynamics for years to come and we are excited to be working with Justice Cannabis Co. in order to fully capitalize on this growing market.”

Jon Loevy, Justice Cannabis Co.’s Founder, added, “As we continue building on our presence in this highly attractive cannabis market, we are very excited to have the support and partnership of AFC. AFC has proven investment expertise in the cannabis space and provided us with an institutionally minded financing solution that supports our specific needs. We look forward to continuing to work with AFC to achieve our objectives.”

AFC will hold the entire $22 million of the credit facility, which consists of a first-lien term loan. The loan is secured by first-lien mortgages on Justice Cannabis Co.’s wholly owned real estate properties in New Jersey and other commercial-security interests. AFC Management, LLC served as Lead Arranger and Administrative Agent for the transaction.

New Jersey Cannabis Snapshot
New Jersey legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2010, with sales launching in 2019. Adult use marijuana was legalized in 2021. By 2024, the state expects to achieve sales of between $850 million and $950 million, with significant opportunities to exceed this range, depending on licensing details which will be developed over time.

New Study Finds People Turned to Cannabis During the Pandemic to Feel Happier

COLORADO: A 2021 survey finds a positive correlation between the number of COVID-19 cases and demand for medical cannabis; more than half of patients said they used cannabis “to feel happy.”

— 55% of medical cannabis patients primarily use to feel ‘happy’

— Patient desire to feel ‘happy’ via medical cannabis use grew 46% in the past year

— Study suggests exogenous shocks like COVID-19, elections, protests and riots positively influence medical cannabis demand

Did the stressors of COVID-19 drive more Americans to use medical cannabis as an alternative tool for managing their mental health? A new national study exploring this question found a positive correlation between national demand for medical cannabis and the national number of COVID-19 cases; in other words, as cases increased, so did medical cannabis use. And whereas the most common reason for obtaining a medical card has historically been for chronic pain, the majority of medical cannabis patients who applied for medical cards over the past year cited psychological purposes, with 55% of patients saying their main reason for using cannabis was “to feel ‘happy.”

These findings are part of a national study conducted by Veriheal, the healthcare enterprise behind the nation’s largest medical marijuana application platform, in partnership with graduate research scholars from the London School of EconomicsUniversity of Southern California and University of Maryland; and the CREA (Cultivating Research Education and Advocacy) Group, a business development and research firm dedicated to psychoactive drugs like cannabinoids, psychedelics, and entheogens. The findings were officially presented to the American Chemical Society, a congressionally chartered non-profit leading research in the global chemical enterprise, at their April 2021 national conference.

Conducted between January 2020 and March 2021, the study investigated medical cannabis interest and adoption by desired effect across region, sex and age group, in relation to COVID-19 cases in America as reported by the official COVID-19 CDC data tracker.

Patient data was obtained from surveys on the Veriheal telemedicine platform, which connects prospective cannabis patients to state-certified cannabis doctors to facilitate and streamline the medical marijuana (MMJ) card application process.

American Cannabis Company, Inc. Receives Approval from Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and the City of Colorado Springs to Acquire, Own, and Operate Naturaleaf™ in Southern Colorado

COLORADO:  American Cannabis Company, Inc. announced that on April 30, 2021, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and the City of Colorado Springs granted regulatory approvals for the Company’s acquisition and operation of Medihemp, LLC, and its wholly owned subsidiary SLAM Enterprises, LLC, and Medical Cannabis Caregivers, Inc., all doing business as Naturaleaf™, a long-standing vertically integrated cannabis business.

As a result of the regulatory approvals and the closing of the asset purchase, the Company acquired Naturaleaf’s three medically licensed retail stores, and a 10,000 square foot cultivation and extraction facility located in the metropolitan area of Colorado Springs. Naturaleaf™ has earned a strong reputation for its quality products and customer experience, having served its loyal and growing patient base since 2009. 

“We are incredibly happy to have completed this acquisition, and this is only the beginning,” said Terry Buffalo, Chief Executive Officer of American Cannabis Company. Buffalo continued, “With the approval from the regulatory bodies now behind us, this is where the real work starts. Brand integration is key for success, and our team is working diligently to dial in processes and procedures, as well as implementing ACC’s company culture and core values, while also maintaining Naturaleaf™ brand integrity. We look to expand production capacities by revamping the cultivation operation, adding technology and equipment, including our proprietary cultivation methodologies and ‘just add water’ all-natural potting mix, SoHum Living Soils®, to effectively grow a consistent, high-value flower product. In addition to the modifications we plan to make in the back of the house, we also aim to elevate the retail experience by adding best-in-market products, new retail equipment and technologies to maximize customer/patient experience, as well as maintain consistent inventories. With this acquisition we anticipate over $2mm+ in gross revenue, and we look to increase upon that. For more details, please read the Company’s most recent 8-K filings.”

Scott Saunders, owner of Naturaleaf™, commented: “We are happy to have been acquired by American Cannabis Company. Since 2009 Naturaleaf has been pioneering the local medical market. The staff is excited to transition under the ownership of a public company, and I am excited for the people of Colorado Springs to see what American Cannabis Company is going to bring to the local community.”

Overall Transaction Background

On December 10, 2020, American Cannabis Company announced that it had executed a non-binding letter of intent to acquire all three (3) Naturaleaf™ medical marijuana centers along with its ten thousand (10,000) square foot commercial cultivation facility that also includes non-volatile extraction facilities.

On March 11, 2021, American Cannabis Company announced that it had executed the official Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) and on April 20, 2021 the Company received a contingent approval letter from Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), outlining the change of ownership.

After now having obtained final regulatory approval transferring the Naturaleaf™ licenses to the Company, and finalizing the closing of the asset purchase transaction as of April 30, 2021, the Company plans to acquire additional local and national cannabis assets and brands, with the goal of creating a portfolio of cannabis assets elevating the consumer experience through a commitment to wellness, quality products, and cleaner green practices.

For a complete disclosure of the asset purchase agreement, see the Company’s Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/945617/000172186821000142/f2sammj8k031121.htm

For a complete disclosure of the acquisition for Naturaleaf™ and the received regulatory approval, see the Company’s Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/945617/000172186821000254/f2sammj8k043021.htm

Congressman Blumenauer Lauds House Passage of Federal Legislation to Give Cannabis Businesses Access to Banking Services

Under SAFE Banking Act, cannabis businesses would not have to operate in cash, which has made Portland-area stores and workers a target for violent robberies.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: On April 19th, 2021 the U.S. House of Representatives passed federal legislation to provide legitimate cannabis businesses access to banking services, an issue that has long been championed by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. The bipartisan passage of the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the 117th Congress comes as Portland-area cannabis businesses and their workers continue to be targeted with violent robberies that have been linked to a system that forces cannabis businesses to deal almost exclusively in cash.

“Cannabis will soon be a $20 billion industry and is overwhelmingly supported by the American public. The insane prohibition on banking services serves no one’s interest, except for money launderers, tax evaders, or those who are going to rob these cash-rich businesses,” Blumenauer said. “As we continue to push forward with full legalization, addressing this irrational, unfair, and unsafe denial of banking services to state-legal cannabis businesses is a top priority. This is a critical element of reform that can’t wait, and I urge our cannabis champions in the Senate to take up this legislation as soon as possible.”

Under the federal prohibition on cannabis, banks and credit unions are currently prohibited from serving cannabis businesses, even with financial products as simple as savings accounts or payroll checks. Notwithstanding the financial and practical hardships facing legal cannabis businesses, forcing these businesses to operate on a cash-only basis creates a public safety risk and makes tracking revenue more difficult for tax purposes.

The cash-only nature of cannabis businesses also makes them easy and frequent targets for robberies, which puts workers at risk. According to a March 2021 report by Willamette Week, in the preceding 10 months, Portland cannabis shops were robbed, burglarized, or looted 95 times – often at gunpoint – resulting in one tragic fatality.

The legislation passed in the House would prohibit federal regulators from taking punitive measures against depository institutions that provide banking services to legitimate cannabis-related businesses and ancillary businesses like the electricians, plumbers, and the landlords that serve them. The SAFE Banking Act also requires a GAO study and annual regulator reports to Congress to ensure equal access to credit and to reduce barriers to marketplace entry for potential and existing minority- and women-owned cannabis-related businesses.

Full text of the SAFE Banking Act can be found here.

420 Words About 420

By Curt Robbins

The cannabis culture is rife with urban legend. Some of these stories, however, embrace historical reality. The emergence of the “420” holiday in the world of cannabis is more than a marketing campaign or social media fad.

For decades, three simple numbers have served as code for the consumption and celebration of all things marijuana. Fans of this culture often smoke the herb at 4:20 pm. Millions treat April 20 as a holiday, taking off work and participating in everything from rallies and protests to concerts and backyard bar-be-ques.  

A four-character text message, “420?,” has become an efficient means of asking a friend if they want to get high. But how did this quirky term originate? What is its true meaning? And who can we thank for it?

Origins of 420

The only tale offering any credibility is that of a group of high schoolers from San Rafael, California, the members of which dub themselves The Waldos

In 1971, members of The Waldos had a tradition of meeting each day after school at 4:20 pm, when they would get high and trod off in pursuit of a mythical pot field based on their possession of a hand-drawn map (the pot field, unfortunately, never materialized).

“We were smoking a lot of weed,” said Dave Reddix, known within the group as Waldo Dave, who is now a 64-year-old filmmaker. Said Reddix, “Half the fun was just going looking for it.”

Based on the group’s California location, use of the 420 reference spread to the rock band the Grateful Dead. After the term became common within the band’s dedicated legion of Deadhead followers, it began gaining real traction.

The next boost to stardom for 420 came when then-High Times editor Steve Bloom saw the term on a Grateful Dead concert flyer in 1990. This led to the term being adopted by High Times staff. Because of the magazine’s influence on the culture, 420 was released into the wild.

While the term no longer holds its ability to act as secret code due to its commonality and increasing commercial use in legal jurisdictions, it remains a powerful emblem derived from a pre-internet meme that represents power to the people and everything ganja.

Lest the purveyors of pot and 420 forget its humble origins, Reddix reminds readers of how it all began. “The spirit of 420 was friendship, fun, and kindness,” he told Cheddar News on April 19, 2019. “It was a private joke amongst ourselves; somehow it turned into a worldwide phenomenon.” 

Congressman Joyce Leads Bipartisan Effort to Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Cannabis to Veterans

Joins Rep. Lee, Senator Schatz in introducing Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act of 2021

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined his fellow Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) in introducing the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act of 2021. Senator Brian Schatz (HI) has introduced the bill in the Senate.

This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would allow doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to discuss, recommend and prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states that have established medical marijuana programs. Currently, VA doctors are prohibited from doing so as the federal government classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance. According to a 2017 American Legion survey more than 90% of veteran households support marijuana research and 82% want to see medical cannabis designated as a federally legal treatment option.

“There is a growing body of evidence about the beneficial uses of medical cannabis as treatment for PTSD and chronic pain, two terrible conditions that plague many of our veterans,” said Joyce. “If a state has made it legal, like Ohio has, the federal government should not be preventing a VA doctor from recommending medical cannabis if they believe that treatment is right for their patient. As the son of a World War II veteran who was wounded on the battlefield, I’ve seen firsthand the many challenges our nation’s heroes face when they return home. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important bill and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure we are providing our veterans with the care they need to overcome the wounds of war.”

The legislation would also create a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for veterans who use medical marijuana and their doctors. Additionally, the bill would direct the VA to research the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain, as well as the relationship between medical marijuana programs and a potential reduction in opioid abuse among veterans.

In a recent study, researchers found that those who suffer from PTSD who used cannabis saw greater reductions in their PTSD symptoms and were 2.57 times more likely to recover from PTSD during the study than those who were not using cannabis. Furthermore, a 2016 study at the Minnesota Department of Health found that 58% of patients on other pain medications were able to reduce their use of those medications when they started taking medical cannabis. Of the patients taking opioid medications, more than 62% were able to reduce or eliminate opioid usage after 6 months.

According to the VA, nearly 20% of the 2.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will experience either PTSD or depression while more than 50% of older veterans receiving care at the VA are living with some form of chronic pain. Often times, people with PTSD experience depression, panic attacks, severe anxiety, or a substance use problem, putting them at a higher risk for suicide. Tragically, the VA’s most recent annual report shows that nearly 18 veterans take their own life every day.

Organizations that support this legislation include: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), VoteVets, Minority Veterans of America, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Veterans Cannabis Project, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), NORML, National Cannabis Roundtable, U.S. Pain Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Veteran’s Initiative 22, Arizona Dispensary Association, California Cannabis Industry Association, and Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association.

Ganja Pioneer Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion Commemorates 4/20 with New Jersey Celebration and Miami Expansion

NEW JERSEY: While “Weed Day” 4/20/21 marks a luminous occasion for longtime marijuana activist and entrepreneur, Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion, in his home state of New Jersey, per the recent legalization of cannabis, the victory is somewhat bittersweet for him.

The bitter is that his current “Citizen’s Dispensary” operates as a black-market operation as he continues to battle for inclusion within the legal arena. The sweet is not only a huge in-store and online celebration party this 4/20, but also the announcement of his expansion, with a 420-themed lounge opening soon in Miami, Florida, entitled, The Joint of Miami. (photo credit: Dr. Boogie)

New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis

NEW MEXICO: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday formally enacted adult-use cannabis legalization in the state of New Mexico, signing into law an historic measure approved by the state Legislature after the governor called them into a special session for that purpose late last month.

“The legalization of adult-use cannabis paves the way for the creation of a new economic driver in our state with the promise of creating thousands of good paying jobs for years to come,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “We are going to increase consumer safety by creating a bona fide industry. We’re going to start righting past wrongs of this country’s failed war on drugs. And we’re going to break new ground in an industry that may well transform New Mexico’s economic future for the better.”

New jobs, new revenue

The sales of adult-use recreational cannabis could amount to $318 million in the first year, creating over several years what could be more than 11,000 new jobs, according Dr. Kelly O’Donnell, independent economist and public finance expert. Preliminary estimates are that the excise tax will raise at least $20 million for the general fund in the first full fiscal year, with significant growth in subsequent years. Local governments will also benefit from the added revenue.

“As we look to rebound from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, entrepreneurs will benefit from this great opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises, the state and local governments will benefit from the added revenue and, importantly, workers will benefit from the chance to land new types of jobs and build careers,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.

“Today, New Mexico seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a multi-million industry with a framework that’s right for our state and will benefit New Mexicans for generations to come,” said Rep. Javier Martínez. “Not only are we launching a burgeoning industry that will strengthen our economy, create jobs and generate tax dollars, but we are doing so in an equitable way that will curb the illicit market and undo some damage of the failed war on drugs.”

A well regulated industry spurs economic activity, creates revenue for state and local government and protects the public

The governor’s signature today launches an administrative process that will culminate in the launch of commercial sales for adults no later than April 1, 2022. The issuance of licenses to conduct commercial cannabis activity will begin no later than Jan. 1, 2022.

“This is a major new program for the state that will have a positive impact on job growth and the economy, but it does require smart regulation in order to protect the public and entrepreneurs seeking to get into the business,” said Sen. Katy Duhigg. “I’m proud of the work we did to ensure that we are creating a fair and equitable program that has a low barrier to entry. At the same time, proper regulation and oversight will keep our successful medical cannabis program intact and help new businesses grow while keeping consumers safe.”

Gross receipts tax and local taxes apply to the value of the adult-use purchase.

“This is the right model for New Mexico because it creates a local, sustainable and regulated industry while at the same time protecting what’s near and dear to all us, including public health, road safety and the well-being of our youth,” said Superintendent Linda M. Trujillo of the state Regulation and Licensing Department, which will oversee and manage the new industry.

New Mexico becomes the latest state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use cannabis, and is only the fifth state to enact it through its state Legislature.

“The standardization and statewide regulation that comes with a bona fide industry will protect consumers,” said Trujillo. “In addition, local jurisdictions will be able to enact reasonable zoning, land use and other business requirements.”

Protecting public safety, health, consumers and N.M. youth

The legislation creates a Public Health Advisory Board to monitor cannabis use and data pertaining to the health effects of legalizing cannabis. In addition, the Department of Health is required to provide annual reports, including information on youth access, driving and road safety, workplace safety, consumer and product safety and emergency room visits involving cannabis.

“Protections for our children are an essential part of this plan and include strict restrictions of packaging, labeling and advertising, as well as stiff penalties for anyone selling cannabis to persons younger than 21,” said Sen. Linda Lopez.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Javier Martinez, Rep. Andrea Romero, Rep. Debbie Armstrong, Sen. Linda Lopez and Sen. Katy Duhigg.

“The legalization of cannabis is ultimately a public health measure. When we regulate the industry, we can control the product quality, protect consumers, and bring down the dangerous illicit market in our state,” said Rep. Debbie Armstrong. “This law includes dozens of necessary safeguards to protect our youth, ensure adequate supply for the medical program, and will bring in additional funds for programs, services, and research to support the health and wellbeing of New Mexicans.”

Expungement of convictions

Surrounded by legislative sponsors and advocates outside the state Capitol, Gov. Lujan Grisham, who has advocated for legalization since taking office, signed legislation that will authorize the expungement old low-level cannabis convictions from the record of what is expected to be tens of thousands of New Mexicans and make possible the potential early release of low-level convicted cannabis offenders who are currently incarcerated.

“Thousands of people, and a disproportionate number of them from communities of color, have been wronged by this country’s failed war on drugs,” said Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. “We will all benefit from our state’s smart, fair and equitable new approach to past low-level convictions.”

“For decades, our communities of color have been discriminated against for minor cannabis offenses, so we must ensure that those who would not be arrested today do not continue to be incarcerated or held back by criminal records for acts that are no longer crimes,” said Rep. Andrea Romero. “By ensuring equity and social justice in our cannabis legalization, we are saying ‘enough’ to the devastating ‘War on Drugs’ that over-incarcerated and over-penalized thousands of New Mexicans.”

This important social justice measure was sponsored by Sen. Lopez, Sen. Duhigg, Rep. Martinez, Rep. Romero and Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino.

“The signing of the cannabis legalization and expungement package will ensure equitable opportunities for farmers and other small businesses, and long overdue justice – including automatic expungement – for those with past cannabis arrests or convictions,” said Emily Kaltenbach, Senior Director, Resident States and New Mexico, Drug Policy Alliance. “We thank the Governor and our legislative allies for not taking ‘no’ for an answer and stopping at nothing until we were able to get justice for New Mexico communities – particularly Hispanic/Latinx, Black, Native and Indigenous – that have been immensely harmed by cannabis prohibition.”

***

“This legislation is a major, major step forward for our state,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Legalized adult-use cannabis is going to change the way we think about New Mexico for the better – our workforce, our economy, our future. We’re ready to break new ground. We’re ready to invest in ourselves and the limitless potential of New Mexicans. And we’re ready to get to work in making this industry a successful one.”

The governor’s signature on the final bills to have reached her desk from the special session caps an incredibly productive spring 2021 legislative season, during which the Legislature and governor delivered a series of significant policy achievements, including many that were either campaign promises and/or longstanding priorities of the governor.

On top of the passage of a constitutional amendment ballot measure that would authorize an additional portion of the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education, and in addition to long-sought social welfare measures, the Legislature authorized and governor enacted almost $1 billion in direct pandemic relief for individuals and businesses across the state, including $200 million in small business grants, $500 million in small business loans, a tax holiday for hospitality businesses and restaurants, a $600 tax rebate for working families and a sweeping tax overhaul that will amount to a significantly boosted tax rebate for tens of thousands of New Mexico middle-class families.

OLCC Commission Modifies Cannabis License Violations

Changes reflect industry maturation, OLCC regulatory evolution

Commissioners get glimpse of cannabis equity legislation impact on agency

OREGON:  The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has taken additional action to ensure that recreational marijuana license violations better reflect the current cannabis regulatory environment compared to regulations put in place five years ago when the cannabis industry launched in Oregon. At its regular monthly meeting on April 8, 2021, the Commission also formally approved streamlining changes to processing marijuana licenses, an approach OLCC staff have already begun implementing.

In addition OLCC Commissioners learned about likely impacts affecting the agency if cannabis social equity legislation is approved by the Oregon legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown. Commissioners also approved three stipulated settlements for recreational marijuana license violations.

OLCC regulations approved in 2016, at the onset of adult-use cannabis in Oregon, aligned with guidance in the since rescinded U.S. Department of Justice Cole Memorandum, and served as appropriate guard rails for an emerging industry. The changes just approved by the Commission better reflect the regulatory oversight needed for a maturing industry.

Some of the changes assign a different category to a violation if the violation was unintentional instead of intentional. For instance, now if a surveillance camera fails licensees have more time to inform the OLCC about the problem. Another change eliminates the compounding effect of a single violation when a producer fails to notify the OLCC of a marijuana harvest; previously the OLCC assessed a separate violation each additional day the producer failed to tell regulators.

The Commission also ratified changes in the marijuana license application process designed to speed up approvals. Those changes include boosting the ownership threshold for an applicant from 10 to 20 percent, allowing more flexibility for approving business structure changes, and eliminating the pre-licensing inspection requirement prior to issuing a license.

Oregon House Bill 3112 redresses criminal and economic consequences suffered by Black, LatinX and Indigenous Oregonians related to cannabis criminalization. A member of the coalition supporting The Oregon Cannabis Equity Act outlined for Commissioners how the measure would create economic opportunity for previously disenfranchised populations by reducing regulatory costs, and establishing an equity license for individuals who have previous marijuana criminal convictions, or are from Black, LatinX or Indigenous groups.

HB 3112 would create two other license types: a delivery license and a social (on-premises) consumption license. The delivery license would allow deliveries outside the city or county of a delivery business’ location, and it would also allow delivery to a hotel, both activities that are currently prohibited.

Commissioners also ratified the following violation fines and suspensions based on stipulated settlements (detailed information on specific cases can be found here on the OLCC website):

NEBULA CANNABIS in Portland will pay a $1,155 fine OR serve a seven day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for one violation.

Licensee is: Haramkhor, LLC; Krishna Kumar, Member.

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS in Portland will pay a $5,280 fine OR serve a 32-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for two violations.

Licensees are: Alternative Solutions 1, Inc.; Donald VanWormer, President/Director/Stockholder; Brenda Lingle, Secretary/Director.

GRIZZILLA FARMS will surrender its marijuana producer license on the date the transfer of ownership of the business is completed or on July 30, 2021, whichever is earlier.

Licensees are: Grizzilla Farms, LLC; Mark Aguilar, Manager/Member.

Governor Phil Scott Announces Appointments To Vermont Cannabis Control Board

VERMONT: Governor Phil Scott announced today that he has appointed James Pepper of Montpelier, Julie Hulburd of Colchester and Kyle Harris of Montpelier to the Cannabis Control Board (CCB).

“The Board will play a critical role in ensuring public safety, equity and fairness while implementing this new market,” said Governor Phil Scott. “James, Julie and Kyle bring diverse and relevant experience to the CCB and I’m confident they will hit the ground running when they get to work in the coming days.”

Stopthedrugwar.orgThe CCB was created by Act 164 of 2020 for the purpose of safely, equitably and effectively implementing and administering the laws and rules regulating adult-use cannabis in Vermont. It is responsible for establishing, administering and regulating a cannabis regulatory system for commercial cannabis cultivators, wholesalers, product manufacturers, retailers and testing laboratories.

The CCB will also take over responsibility for the regulation of medical cannabis dispensaries and the administration of the medical cannabis registry, currently administered by the Vermont Department of Public Safety.

About the appointees:

James Pepper, Chair

James Pepper currently serves as a deputy state’s attorney for the Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs. In this role, Pepper has worked on several criminal justice reform initiatives, including bail reform, expungement eligibility, Justice Reinvestment, use of force standards for law enforcement officers, and the expansion of juvenile jurisdiction.

Pepper also serves on the Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel, the CHINS Reform Advisory Panel, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Panel, the Act 148 Working Group, and the Sentencing Commission. Prior to joining the Department, Pepper worked for former Governor Peter Shumlin as director of intergovernmental affairs and senior policy advisor, where he worked on relevant cannabis issues.

Pepper received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University and his J.D. from Vermont Law School. He and his wife Aly live in Montpelier with their identical twin boys, Beau and Wesley.

Julie Hulburd

Julie Hulburd currently serves as the human resources director at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation and has over twenty years of Human Resources experience, including 12 years in municipal government. In her last municipal government role, Julie worked closely with leadership on the city’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

Hulburd was appointed to the State Ethics Commission in 2018 and has served as its chair since 2019. She has also served as a member of her local parks and recreation advisory board, a justice of the peace and on the select board.

Hulburd has a bachelor’s degree from Northern Vermont University-Johnson. She also holds a Professional in Human Resources Certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and is a Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resources Management. She regularly volunteers for the Vermont Brain Injury Association’s Walk for Thought, at the local Night to Shine event and the Miss Vermont Scholarship Organization.

Kyle Harris

Kyle Harris has served as an agriculture development specialist at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) since 2019. In this role, he has focused on emerging issues and economic development. His work has focused on dairy innovation, maple initiatives and hemp business development. He has worked closely with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development as a liaison between agencies to facilitate policy and economic discussion throughout Vermont’s agriculture portfolio. Most recently, he aided in development of Vermont’s Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030.

Previous to his role with VAAFM, Harris served as the associate counsel for environmental affairs at the Corn Refiners Association in Washington, DC, where his work focused on improving the environmental footprint at both ends of the supply chain, from grower relations to growth in plant-based products and 21st century uses for agricultural feedstocks

Harris has a bachelor’s degree in history from the College of Charleston, and a J.D. & Master of Environmental Law & Policy from Vermont Law School. He has a license to practice law in Maryland. He lives in Montpelier with his wife Cate.