WM Holding Company, LLC, a Leading Technology Platform to the Cannabis Industry, Completes Business Combination With Silver Spike Acquisition Corp.

Public company to be named WM Technology, Inc. and common stock to begin trading on the Nasdaq under symbol “MAPS” on June 16, 2021

CALIFORNIA:  WM Holding Company, LLC, a leading technology and software infrastructure provider to the cannabis industry, announced today that it has completed its previously announced business combination with Silver Spike Acquisition Corp. (Ticker: “SSPK”).

The transaction was unanimously approved by SSPK’s Board of Directors and was approved at a special meeting of SSPK stockholders on June 10, 2021. In connection with the closing, SSPK changed its name to WM Technology, Inc. The ticker symbol for the common stock will change from “SSPK” to “MAPS” and will begin trading as such on the Nasdaq Stock Market on June 16, 2021.

Founded in 2008, WMH operates Weedmaps, a leading online listings marketplace for cannabis consumers and businesses, and WM Business, one of the most comprehensive SaaS subscription offerings sold to cannabis retailers and brands. The Company provides software and other technology solutions and is non-plant touching. WMH has a history of growth since its inception. From fiscal year 2014 through 2020, the Company grew revenue at a CAGR of 35% and expanded its gross margin rate from 92% to 95%. For the year ended December 31, 2020, WMH generated $162 million of revenue, net income of $39 million and Adjusted EBITDA of $43 million.

WMH’s senior management team will continue to lead the now combined company, including Chris Beals (Chief Executive Officer), Arden Lee (Chief Financial Officer), Juanjo Feijoo (Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer), Justin Dean (Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer), and Brian Camire (General Counsel).

“We are excited to complete this business combination, which will further advance our mission to power a transparent and inclusive global cannabis economy, further solidify our position as a leading technology platform to the cannabis industry, and accelerate our growth,” said Chris Beals, Chief Executive Officer of WMH. “We continue to benefit from strong, sustainable macro tailwinds as cannabis legalization advances throughout the U.S. and internationally. As a public company, we now have an even stronger platform to advocate for legalization, social equity and licensing in many jurisdictions, while providing cannabis businesses with the tools needed to succeed in a highly complex world of regulations. We are well positioned to continue scaling the Weedmaps marketplace in service of our users, while expanding the functionality of our WM Business SaaS offerings in service of our clients.”

Scott Gordon, CEO and Chairman of SSPK, commented, “We are proud to complete the combination of Silver Spike and WMH, further establishing Weedmaps as a leading online listings marketplace for cannabis consumers and businesses, and WM Business as the most comprehensive SaaS subscription offering sold to cannabis retailers and brands. We believe WMH is the most compelling investment opportunity in cannabis today and as a public company, WMH is uniquely positioned to deliver on its vision of helping licensed cannabis businesses thrive while driving growth and returns for shareholders.”

Transaction Overview

The transaction provides $579 million of gross proceeds primarily comprised of $254 million of cash from SSPK’s former trust account and $325 million of cash from a private investment in public equity (PIPE), not including transaction fees. The PIPE is anchored by investors including funds and accounts managed by AFV Partners, the Federated Hermes Kaufmann Funds and Senvest Management LLC along with a $35 million commitment from Silver Spike Capital. $125 million in proceeds will be delivered to the balance sheet of WMH as primary capital, including to pay transaction expenses and used to fund the company’s planned growth, including further scaling its cloud-based WM Business SaaS subscription offering, and growing its active user base and business listings in the U.S. and international markets. $455 million in proceeds will go to existing WMH equity holders. WMH’s executive officers have rolled 100% of their equity holdings as part of the transaction. A more detailed description of the transaction can be found in the definitive proxy statement filed by SSPK with the SEC on May 26, 2021.

Advisors

Rothschild & Co. served as exclusive financial and capital markets adviser and Cooley LLP and Dentons LLP served as legal advisors to WM Holding Company, LLC. Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated and Piper Sandler & Co. served as joint placement agents and financial advisors. BTIG, LLC, Canaccord Genuity LLC, JMP Securities LLC, and Trust Securities, Inc. also served as capital markets advisors and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as legal advisor to Silver Spike Acquisition Corp. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Jonathan Dennis served as legal advisors to the founders of WM Holding.

Ohio Board of Pharmacy Publishes Updated Patient & Caregiver Numbers for May 2021

OHIO:  The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy today published updated patient & caregiver numbers for May 2021.

These numbers include:

  • 296,488 Recommendations
  • 207,105 Registered patients
    • 13,020 Patients with Veteran Status
    • 14,388 Patients with Indigent Status
    • 806 Patients with a Terminal Diagnosis
  • 166,966 Unique patients who purchased medical marijuana (as reported to OARRS by licensed dispensaries)
  • 22,784 Registered Caregivers.

For the full list of program numbers, please visit the Program Update page.

Perception Is Reality Now With Rolling Stone/Curaleaf Licensing Deal

“What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been!”

By Stu Zakim

The recent press release announcing that Rolling Stone and MSO Curaleaf have formed a licensing deal for a branded Rolling Stone strain, to steal one of the many cliches about rock n roll, for those of us who grew up with the magazine, shows “What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been!”

When Jann Wenner published the first issue in November of 1967, not only did he change journalism, he changed the way that advertisers and subscribers interacted with a publication; to attract early new subscribers, Rolling Stone, embracing their readers love of Cannabis, offered a roach clip as a gift with purchase as Wenner knew his audience better than anyone.

He also knew what he didn’t know and that was how to work with advertisers outside of the music industry, who until then, had comprised the majority of of the magazine’s advertiser base. Lucky for him, as the core reader entered the workforce and started earning serious discretionary income, he brought in the kind of ad sales/marketing pros like Joe Armstrong and Kent Brownridge to break into more lucrative ad categories like cars, fashion, beauty, high end consumer electronics and film and television.

The breakthrough was creating what has become an iconic B2B ad campaign called “Perception/Reality.”  While acknowledging where their readers came from on the Perception side, such as the classic execution with on the perception side was an old VW bus and a very hippyish looking person, the Reality side had them driving a high end foreign import with clever copy lines celebrating the Boomer generation as it aged.  There were many variations of that which targeted key ad categories and played a very vital role in growing the brand.  It’s also in the Advertising Hall of Fame.

At that point in the company’s history, however, the one thing Jann stayed away from was maximizing the value of its name through licensing and merchandising opportunities that would have generated millions for him.  Thinking it would cheapen the integrity and credibility he had built, during my 6 and a half years there, he walked away from opportunities that other publishers would have died for.

Reality took on a different meaning a few years ago when after selling Us Weekly and Men’s Journal to American Media as the publishing world went digital, the writing was also on the wall for Rolling Stone.  Selling to Penske Media and leaving his son Gus to operate it, Rolling Stone started stretching its power; tv productions, the creation of a new revenue stream with the Rolling Stone Culture Council – in full transparency, I’m a member – and now the ultimate tie in with this Curaleaf deal.

Advertisers always loved Rolling Stone branded promotional items, from t-shirts to hats to getting their picture on the cover.  But now, you can bet those ad reps are going to be asked by clients in legal states the definitive premium long associated with the Rolling Stone brand.  Perception has become reality and it’s about time!


Stuart Zakim is a President of Bridge Strategic Communications, MJBA Communications Chief, and member of the Rolling Stone Culture Council.  He is a frequent contributor to MJNews Network.

WSLCB Allows “Joints for Jabs” Promotions to Support Vaccinations

Retailers temporarily allowed to provide a joint for adults vaccinated at in-store clinics

WASHINGTON:  In an effort to support COVID-19 vaccinations, the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) today announced that it would provide a temporary allowance to state licensed cannabis retailers to provide one joint to adult consumers who receive a vaccination at an in-store vaccination clinic. 

The LCB received multiple requests from cannabis retail licensees to engage in promotions to support state vaccination efforts. This allowance is effective immediately. The allowance is optional for licensees, and will expire on July 12, 2021.

Allowance Conditions

  • The optional allowance is effective from Monday June 07 – July 12, 2021. The following conditions apply:
  • Participating cannabis retailers may only provide a pre-roll joint, and no other product may be provided as part of this allowance.
  • Any cannabis joint provided to a customer must be associated with an active vaccine clinic event at the retail location.
  • Only one complimentary joint may be provided to a customer who receives a first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose at the event.
  • Receipt of the complimentary joint must occur during the same visit as receiving the vaccination, and may not be delayed, postponed, or otherwise acquired at a later date or time.
  • Retailers may only provide the complementary joint to persons 21 years of age and older.
  • Any vaccine clinic held inside a licensed retail location must comply with all age restriction requirements for the cannabis retailer.
  • The cannabis joint must be provided by a retailer, and not a producer or processor.
  • The retailer must purchase the product at wholesale from a licensed producer or processor.
  • The retailer may provide the cannabis joint without having to conduct a retail sale of the product. As no sale occurs, the provided product will not be subject to sales and excise tax for the retail licensee.
  • Licensees are required to maintain records of all product provided as part of this allowance.
  • Advertising of vaccine clinics and one complementary joint for those receiving a first or second COVID-19 vaccine will be allowable during the afforded time period, so long as licensees maintain compliance with all other advertising regulations.
  • This allowance does not supersede any state or local health rules and regulations, and licensees must ensure compliance with local heath jurisdiction rules and regulations associated with such clinics.

The LCB has provided dozens of allowances for alcohol and cannabis licensees throughout the COVID pandemic in an effort to support businesses during the restriction period and to support the vaccine effort. Most recently, it to be provided an allowance for a beer, wine or cocktail to be provided at no cost for those vaccinated by June 30.

Oregon: Final Implementation of New Additive Rules Takes Effect July 1, 2021

Final Implementation of New Rules for Inhalable Cannabinoid Products with Non-cannabis Additives starts July 1st

 

Limited Retail Sell Down to Last Through Month of June

OREGON: The July 1, 2021 deadline for “Inhalable Cannabinoid Products with Non-cannabis Additives” (“ICP”) is rapidly approaching.  Generally, ICPs are vape cartridges and pre-rolls with non-cannabis terpenes or flavorings. On and after July 1, 2021, licensees cannot possess or transfer these products unless they comply with the new rule standards.

Before July 1, 2021, licensees can sell, destroy (waste), or return to the processor any ICPs that do not comply with the new rules – but if returning to another licensee, the ICPs will still need to be wasted in compliance with OLCC rules prior to July 1, 2021.

Licensees can use the following to spot labels subject to the “sell down” (cannot be possessed or transferred on and after July 1, 2021) and what labels are not subject to the sell down:

  • Labels subject to the sell down contain product identities like “marijuana extract with non-marijuana terpenes” or “marijuana extract with natural and artificial flavors” and ingredient listings that state “natural” or “artificial flavors.” Here is an example;
  • Labels that are NOT subject to the sell down contain product identities and ingredient listings that contain the words “non-cannabis additives” and list all the ingredients in the product – either on an insert or on the exterior label. Here is an example.
  • Licensees may no longer utilize generic labels for ICPs created on and after April 1, 2021.

In December 2020, the OLCC enacted new additive rules that impact all OLCC marijuana licensees and industrial hemp certificate holders. This is only a summary of the rules and in some instances the rule requirements are generalized. This is not a substitute for reading the rules. A more detailed explanation of the requirements can be found in Compliance Bulletin CE2020-07 along with links to the rules.

There are two important dates for licensees in these rules: April 1, 2021 and July 1, 2021:

  • On and after April 1, 2021, all ICPs manufactured or processed must comply with the new rule requirements;
  • On and after April 1, 2021, all ICPs must be correctly categorized in Metrc (this includes ICPs made before April 1, 2021). Licensees with these products in their inventory must make these changes. See the Inhalable Cannabinoid Products and Metrc Tracking Guide for more information; and
  • There is a limited “sell down” period for ICPs made before April 1, 2021. Processors may transfer ICPs made before April 1, 2021 that do not comply with the new rule requirements until June 30, 2021. As of July 1, 2021 licensees cannot even possess or transfer products that do not meet the new rule requirements.

 

Questions related to the rules or labeling should be directed to marijuana.packaging@oregon.gov.

Questions related to Metrc should be directed to marijuana.cts@oregon.gov.

Altria to Make Growth Investment in Cronos Group

Altria to Invest USD $1.8 Billion (CAD $2.4 Billion) for 45% Ownership Interest in Leading Global Cannabinoid Company with Warrant to Increase Ownership to 55% Over Next 4 Years

VIRGINIA: Altria Group, Inc. announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire newly issued shares in Cronos Group Inc., a leading global cannabinoid company, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The transaction represents a 45% equity stake in Cronos Group, at a price of CAD $16.25 per share, for an aggregate investment by Altria of approximately USD $1.8 billion.1

As part of the agreement, at closing, Altria will have the right to nominate four directors, including one independent director, to serve on Cronos Group’s Board of Directors, which will be expanded from five to seven directors. The agreement includes a warrant to acquire an additional ownership interest in Cronos Group at a price of CAD $19.00 per share exercisable over four years from the closing date. If exercised in full, the warrant would increase Altria’s ownership in Cronos Group by 10% to approximately 55%.

“Investing in Cronos Group as our exclusive partner in the emerging global cannabis category represents an exciting new growth opportunity for Altria,” said Howard Willard, Altria’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that Cronos Group’s excellent management team has built capabilities necessary to compete globally, and we look forward to helping Cronos Group realize its significant growth potential.”

“Altria is the ideal partner for Cronos Group, providing the resources and expertise we need to meaningfully accelerate our strategic growth,” said Mike Gorenstein, Cronos Group’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “The proceeds from Altria’s investment will enable us to more quickly expand our global infrastructure and distribution footprint, while also increasing investments in R&D and brands that resonate with our consumers. Importantly, Altria shares our vision of driving long-term value through innovation, and we look forward to continuing to differentiate Cronos Group in this area.”

This investment positions Altria to participate in the emerging global cannabis sector, which it believes is poised for rapid growth over the next decade. It also creates a new growth opportunity in an adjacent category that is complementary to Altria’s core tobacco businesses.

Altria expects its investment to help Cronos Group accelerate its growth strategies and its R&D and intellectual property development. Additionally, Altria will provide expertise to help Cronos Group thrive in the growing global cannabis market. These services may include regulatory affairs, regulatory science, compliance, government affairs and brand management.

About Cronos Group

Cronos Group is a globally diversified and vertically integrated cannabis company with a presence across five continents. Cronos Group operates two wholly-owned Canadian licensed producers: Peace Naturals Project Inc., which received the first non-incumbent medical cannabis license granted by Health Canada, and Original BC Ltd., which is based in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. Cronos Group operates a portfolio of brands which includes Peace Naturals, a global medicinal brand and two Canadian adult-use recreational brands, COVEand Spinach. Cronos Group has multiple international production and distribution platforms across five continents.

Cronos Group is establishing infrastructure to create an efficient global production footprint and a diversified global sales and distribution network. Cronos Group is focused on creating and monetizing disruptive intellectual property and growing a portfolio of iconic brands that resonate with consumers. Cronos Group is committed to building an industry-leading business that transforms the perception of cannabis and responsibly elevates the consumer experience.

Cronos Group has no U.S. operations, and cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. Through Cronos Group, Altria is better positioned should cannabis become federally permitted.

Transaction Structure

Under the terms of the agreement, at closing Altria will pay CAD $16.25 per share of Cronos Group stock issued in the transaction, or a 41.5% premium to the 10-day volume weighted average price of CAD $11.48 on the TSX as of November 30, the last unaffected trading day prior to when Cronos Group announced it was in preliminary discussions with Altria regarding a possible investment in Cronos Group. The transaction will result in an aggregate investment by Altria at closing equal to approximately USD $1.8 billion in cash (approximately CAD $2.4 billion).1Altria will receive shares representing a 45% interest in Cronos Group.

The agreement also includes a warrant to acquire additional ownership interest in Cronos Group at a price of CAD $19.00 per share exercisable over the next four years. If exercised in full, the warrant would increase Altria’s ownership in Cronos Group by 10% to 55%. The aggregate exercise price for the warrant is equal to approximately USD $1.0 billion (approximately CAD $1.4 billion),1 subject to customary adjustments.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including Cronos Group shareholder approval and receipt of regulatory approvals, which will be pursued promptly. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2019. At closing, Cronos Group will remain a Canadian publicly-traded company headquartered in Toronto, Canada and continue to be led by its existing management team.

A copy of the agreement containing the terms of the transaction will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Canadian regulatory authorities.

Financing & Advisors

Altria has received committed financing totaling approximately CAD $2.4 billion from JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Altria may consider seeking permanent financing in the future.

Perella Weinberg Partners LP is the financial advisor to Altria. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Goodmans LLP are providing legal counsel to Altria for the deal. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP is providing legal counsel to Altria regarding the financing.

Lazard Ltd. is the financial advisor to Cronos Group. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Blake, Cassels & Graydon, LLP are providing legal counsel to Cronos Group for the deal.

OLCC Approves Stipulated Settlements for Marijuana Licensees

Commissioners also approve restrictions for marijuana license applicant

OREGON: At its regular monthly meeting on May 26, 2021, the Commission approved seven stipulated settlements for violations committed by recreational marijuana licensees. The Commission also approved restrictions on the applicant for a recreational marijuana producer license.

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

E BLOSSOM will pay a $6,150 fine AND serve a 23-day suspension OR serve a 60-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension for three violations.

Licensee is: E Blossom, LLC; Ming Hui Bao, Member.

LF FARMS/LIVE FREE will surrender its marijuana producer license for three violations, on the date the transfer of ownership of the business is completed or on August 27, 2021, whichever is earlier.

Licensee is: LF Farms, LLC; Richard Lewman, President/Stockholder; Brian Lewman, Vice-President/Stockholder; Denise Flansburg, Secretary/Treasurer/Stockholder; Jason Flansburg, Director/Stockholder.

ARTIFACT EXTRACTS will surrender its marijuana processer license for six violations, on the date the transfer of ownership of the business is completed or on August 25, 2021, whichever is earlier.

Licensees are: IND Group, LLC; Peyton Palaio, Member; Mark Jennings, Member/Manager.

RIVER VALLEY REMEDIES in Eugene will surrender its marijuana retailer license for five violations, on the date the transfer of ownership of the business is completed or on August 25, 2021, whichever is earlier.

Licensees are: River Valley Remedies, LLC; Peyton Palaio, Member.

GENESIS PHARMS will pay a $12,045 fine OR serve a 73-day recreational marijuana wholesaler license suspension for three violations.

Licensee is: Compassionate Circles, LLC; Sean Beeman, Member; Kassy Beeman, Member.

ROGUE FARMER AT QUARTZ CREEK will pay a $8,580 fine OR serve a 52-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension for three violations.

Licensees are: Rogue Farmer at Quartz Creek, LLC; Ryan Beyerlein, Member.

THE TRAVELING MEDICINE SHOW will surrender its marijuana producer license for two violations, on the date the transfer of ownership of the business is completed or on June 30, 2021, whichever is earlier.

Licensees are: The Traveling Medicine Show, LLC; Jacqueline Bixler-Wirkkala, Member.

Commissioners also approved restrictions to a recreational marijuana producer license for the applicants of JEF FARMS. The application included two individuals who did not have a good record of compliance as recreational marijuana licensees. The license restrictions require that those two individuals not have any involvement in the operation or management of the business, not act as employees or agents of the business, and not be on the licensed premises (producer site) at any time.

Representatives Nadler, Blumenauer, Lee, Jackson Lee, Jeffries, & Velázquez Reintroduce Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Legislation

The MORE Act decriminalizes marijuana federally, invests in communities disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), along with Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, one of the most comprehensive marijuana reform bills ever introduced in the U.S. Congress.

“Since I introduced the MORE Act last Congress, numerous states across the nation, including my home state of New York, have moved to legalize marijuana. Our federal laws must keep up with this pace,” said Chairman Nadler. “I’m proud to reintroduce the MORE Act to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, remove the needless burden of marijuana convictions on so many Americans, and invest in communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs. I want to thank my colleagues, Representatives Barbara Lee and Earl Blumenauer, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, as well Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Hakeem Jeffries, and Nydia Velázquez for their contributions to this legislation, and I look forward to our continued partnership as we work to get this legislation signed into law.”

“Last year, we saw more progress toward cannabis legalization than ever before. This has been driven by unprecedented reforms at the state level. Now, Congress must deal with the problems created by the failed federal policy of prohibition,” said Rep. Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “With a strong base of support in the House and in the Senate, the table is set. It’s past time that we stop federal interference with cannabis banking and research, as well as the terrible pattern of selective enforcement that has devastated communities of color. The MORE Act will help address all of these problems and more.”

“During the last year, people across the country have seen how injustice impacts communities of color—from police brutality to the COVID-19 pandemic. The War on Drugs is no exception. We must deliver justice to those most impacted by America’s racist and discriminatory cannabis laws,” said Rep. Lee, co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “I’m proud to be working alongside Chairman Nadler and my Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair, Congressman Blumenauer, to reintroduce the MORE Act, which includes my bill—the Marijuana Justice Act—to bring restorative justice to communities of color impacted most. This bill will not only put an end to harmful federal cannabis policies that have ruined countless lives, it will seek to reverse the damage by providing true equity and opportunity for those looking to access this booming industry. We are on our way toward true justice.”

“The MORE Act would not only decriminalize marijuana federally, but also take steps to address the harmful impacts of federal prohibition, particularly on communities of color,” said Rep. Jackson Lee, Chair of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.  “We need to pass the MORE Act as an important component of a broader effort to reform our drug laws, which disproportionately harm racial minorities and fuel mass incarceration. That is why I am also working to advance additional legislation to achieve comprehensive reform of our criminal justice system.”

“The failed war on drugs began almost fifty years ago when Richard Nixon declared drug abuse public enemy number one,” said Rep. Jeffries. “Since then, marijuana use has been socially accepted behavior in some neighborhoods and criminal conduct in others. Too often, the dividing line between these neighborhoods has been race. The MORE Act will help right these wrongs and bring to life the principle of liberty and justice for all.”

“For too long, our communities of color have been over-policed by racially biased practices that have led to a disproportionate amount of unjust arrests for low-level marijuana possession,” said Rep. Velázquez. “I am proud to co-sponsor the MORE Act because it will restore justice to our most marginalized communities, and it will boost our economy.”

Following efforts led by states across the nation, the MORE Act decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level. The bill also aims to correct the historical injustices of failed drug policies that have disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income communities by requiring resentencing and expungement of prior convictions. This will create new opportunities for individuals as they work to advance their careers, education, and overall quality of life. The MORE Act also ensures that all benefits in the law are available to juvenile offenders.

The MORE Act:

  • Decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level by removing the substance from the Controlled Substances Act. This applies retroactively to prior and pending convictions, and enables states to set their own policy.
  • Requires federal courts to expunge prior convictions, allows prior offenders to request expungement, and requires courts, on motion, to conduct re-sentencing hearings for those still under supervision.
  • Authorizes the assessment of a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund, which includes three grant programs:
    • The Community Reinvestment Grant Program: Provides services to the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring, and substance use treatment.
    • The Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program: Provides funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
    • The Equitable Licensing Grant Program: Provides funds for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.
  • Opens up Small Business Administration funding for legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.
  • Provides non-discrimination protections for marijuana use or possession, and for prior convictions for a marijuana offense:
    • Prohibits the denial of any federal public benefit (including housing) based on the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense.
    • Provides that the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense, will have no adverse impact under the immigration laws.
  • Requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure people of color and those who are economically disadvantaged are participating in the industry.

The MORE Act has the support of a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups, including: the Drug Policy Alliance, Center for American Progress,  ACLU, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Human Rights Watch, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NORML, Sentencing Project, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, UndocuBlack Network, and Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

In the 116th Congress, Chairman Nadler led the House of Representatives in passing the MORE Act by a bipartisan vote of 228 to 164.

To view the text of the MORE Actclick here.

Ohio Board of Pharmacy Publishes Updated Patient & Caregiver Numbers for April 2021

The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy today published updated patient & caregiver numbers for April 2021. These numbers include:

  • Recommendations
  • 197,816 Registered patients
    • 12,612 Patients with Veteran Status
    • 13,870 Patients with Indigent Status
    • 779 Patients with a Terminal Diagnosis
  • 158,397 Unique patients who purchased medical marijuana (as reported to OARRS by licensed dispensaries)
  • 21,989 Registered Caregivers

For the full list of program numbers, please visit the Program Update page.

Here’s What’s Happening In South Dakota Legal Cannabis 2021

By Daniel Asarch

South Dakota has always had a special place in my heart.  I have family and friends that make it a 2nd home.  In addition to running my hemp company, Happy Hemp Pharm, I have spent considerable energy as a cannabis pharmacist and activist working helping to establish the South Dakota cannabis industry.   I have great ambitions and hope they come to fruition.  Like South Dakota, I feel that being an underdog pushes people to their greatness and allows their impactful soul to shine thru.  Cannabis is not a gateway drug it’s an exit drug. 

Will 2021 be the year of cannabis? That is the million dollar question.  So far it’s shaping up to be that way.  The cannabis industry seems to be giving the technology industry a run for its money.  Picking up momentum from last year’s 2020 election we saw forms of legalization occur in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and my home state of South Dakota.  So far in 2021, 4 more states including Georgia, New Mexico, New Jersey, and New York have kept the momentum going with a few more potential states on the horizon. 

Out of all these ‘legal states,’ one state stands out as the underdog: South Dakota.  South Dakota has tried to legalize medical marijuana three times, beginning in 2016.  The first 2016 medical marijuana initiative was defeated.  In 2018, the revised medical marijuana initiative did not even make the ballot, failing to meet the requisite signatures.  Finally in 2o20, the third time was a charm! Not only did the medical marijuana IM 26 initiative pass but recreational Amendment A passed as well.  South Dakota was the first state in history to have the opportunity to vote on medical and recreational marijuana on the same ballot.  

    

However, this historic moment did not go over well with sitting Governor Kristi Noem.  Kristi Noem has been a long time opponent against cannabis in any of its legal forms.   As soon as she could, she indirectly had Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and South Dakota Highway Patrol Col. Rick Miller file a lawsuit on behalf of the state.  The lawsuit that was brought forward argues that it violates the state’s one subject rule and the amendments and revisions article of the South Dakota constitution.  This lawsuit did not go over well with the citizens of South Dakota.  Not only was Governor Noem using taxpayer money to participate in the lawsuit but also in doing so pretty much gave the people of South Dakota the middle finger.  The people of South Dakota know what they voted for on the ballot.  Both medical and recreational cannabis received more votes separately and together than Governor Kristi Noem when she was elected.  Cannabis is a bipartisan issue not a partisan one.

   Besides enacting a lawsuit against Amendment A, Governor Noem tried to dismantle IM 26.   IM 26 was written concisely with the patient in mind by Melissa Mentele.  Melissa Mentele, who has a background in nursing as well as a chronic debilitating disorder, has been working on getting medical cannabis passed in South Dakota for the last 6 years.  She started this fight in 2015 by creating New Approach South Dakota (NASD), a  cannabis patient advocacy group.  With the help of NASD, volunteers over the years have been educating the public and collecting signatures for the various ballot measures.  To help the ballot measures succeed last year another group joined the fight: South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws. 

After successfully helping both measures pass, both groups took up the challenge of continuing the fight against Governor Kristi Noem and most of the South Dakota legislative representatives.  In February, Amendment A was handed a lower circuit court loss by a Gov. Noem appointed judge.  However, it was appealed and sent up to the South Dakota Supreme Court for a final ruling at a later time.  During the same month in legislative session IM 26 appeared to be on the chopping block.   Noem and some of the SD legislature representatives wanted to delay and dismantle IM 26.  With the help of fellow South Dakotans all over the state, many emails and phone calls were made to legislators expressing their discontent of their votes not being respected.  In the end , the legislature decided to uphold the people’s vote on IM 26.  Now that the legislative issue of IM 26 was laid to rest, focus could be turned back over to the Amendment A lawsuit.  Running low on court funds, a great group of individuals created and championed a 2 day charity concert, Freedom we’re on it.   Tons of local musicians, advocates, and comedians participated along with local businesses supporting with donations for an auction.  South Dakotans care about one another and have a lot of pride for their state.

Medical marijuana starts July 1st barring no other surprises.  If the judgement for Amendment A gets upheld, then South Dakota could see a recreational market here real soon, but technically the state has until next year to implement it.  If Amendment A fails, then the challenge to get it on the ballot for 2022 begins.  The people of South Dakota and the rest of the US are anxiously waiting the decision.