MASSACHUSETTS: MCR Labs is organizing a virtual panel discussion for members of the public to submit cannabis-related questions to four experts with backgrounds in cannabis testing, research, medicine, and cultivation in order to help new and experienced cannabis consumers expand their knowledge of a complex and often misunderstood plant.
“Even though it’s legal here in Massachusetts, cannabis is still scary and confusing to some and complicated or overwhelming to others,” said MCR Labs President and founder Michael Kahn. “We’re trying to create more opportunities for everyone to get real answers from legitimate sources since there’s still a lot of misinformation being spread about cannabis and marijuana.”
The virtual event, titled “Ask an Expert,” will feature qualified cannabis professionals from a variety of fields and specialties. The panel discussion will include Scott Churchill, Director of Scientific Operations at MCR Labs, a cannabis testing laboratory; Dr. Marion McNabb, President of the Cannabis Center of Excellence, a research and advocacy group; Dr. Benjamin Caplan, Chief Medical Officer at the CED Clinic, a medical cannabis clinic; and Noni Goldman, Co-Founder of Four Trees Management Co., a consulting firm and tier 1 cultivation provisional licensee.
By bringing together experts with a diverse array of backgrounds, the MCR Labs’ outreach team hopes to enable a broad selection of individuals with any level of cannabis knowledge to hear answers to questions ranging from highly complex to basic and introductory.
“COVID-19 has created a significant lack of educational events geared toward cannabis at the same time that many are exploring using, growing, or even joining the industry for the first time,” said MCR Labs Event & Outreach Specialist Melissa Kenton. “So, we’re trying something new for us by hosting this online event because no matter what’s happening with the virus, education is critical to helping people explore cannabis safely.”
The event will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 28 starting at 11 a.m. Attendees can register in advance at https://tinyurl.com/MCRLabsAskExpertEvent. Those with questions for the panel can submit them via any of MCR Labs social media accounts by messaging @mcrlabs on most platforms or by emailing the outreach team directly at email@example.com.
OREGON: At its regular monthly meeting on October 15, 2020, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission moved forward with plans to streamline the agency’s recreational marijuana licensing process and adjust compliance and enforcement activity through a Verification of Compliance (VOC) program. The Commission also approved five marijuana violation stipulated settlement agreements.
OLCC has been challenged to timely issue marijuana licenses since April 2016, due to the continued interest in the recreational market. Personnel and technology support have not kept pace with license applications that quickly shot past the initial projection of 800 licenses and now number more than 2,300.
As the industry has matured, the agency’s ability to regulate it has evolved and the OLCC has modified its licensing process several times in an attempt to streamline. This latest licensing process adjustment attempts to make it easier for applicants to begin operating before the final approval of changes in ownership and financial interest changes in a licensed business.
Likening the existing license process to a freeway that squeezes from 10 lanes down to two, the Chair of the Commission cautioned that efficiencies made through continuous adjustments to the licensing process would not be enough to address the long term licensing challenge.
“We’re not kidding ourselves, if we don’t get the manpower, the back end is going to be two lanes regardless of the ten lanes up front,” said Paul Rosenbaum, OLCC Chair. “If we don’t get the budget, we’re not going to solve this issue.”
For now, this licensing catch-up attempt will be similar to past efforts where staff were reallocated to the licensing division. Under this push to catchup, 16 OLCC staff members will be temporarily reassigned to licensing.
In addition to approving a temporary rule allowing the license process change, the Commission also initiated the permanent rulemaking process, which will expand the scope of the streamlining, as well as provide an opportunity for industry input.
The Commission also initiated the permanent rule making process for the new Verification of Compliance (VOC) program. The VOC program, which launched October 1, 2020, provides licensees with an opportunity to fix problems and avoid more severe penalties.
See Recreational Marijuana Program Compliance Education Bulletin 2020-05 for more information on the Verification of Compliance program.
GREENRIDGE AGRONOMY will serve a 65-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension OR pay a fine of $5,775 AND serve a 30-day license suspension cfor six violations.
Licensee is: GreenRidge Agronomy, LLC; Stanley Tamiyasu, Member; Brandon Pierson, Member.
HEALING GREEN DISPENSARY in Independence will surrender its marijuana retailer license suspension for two violations.
Licensees are: Healing Green, LLC; Michael Hecht, Member.
KAYA FARMS (#A8DF) will surrender its recreational marijuana processor license suspension for two violations.
Licensees are: Sunstone Marketing Partners, LLC; Robert Frey, Member/Manager.
KAYA FARMS (#035C) will surrender its recreational marijuana producer license suspension for three violations.
Licensees are: Sunstone Marketing Partners, LLC; Robert Frey, Member/Manager.
UPMQUA GREEN CROSS in Roseburg will surrender its recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for seven violations.
Licensees are: Umpqua Green Cross, LLC; Edward Allen, Member.
OREGON: On October 15, 2020, the Commission adopted temporary rules intended to provide relief to the industry and allowing OLCC greater flexibility in the processing of marijuana license applications. The main changes implemented in these temporary rules are:
In the coming months, the Commission will go through a permanent rulemaking process to finalize the rules, making adjustments based on feedback from the industry and other stakeholders. Anyone wanting to provide comment or input on proposed rules should subscribe to OLCC’s email updates to stay apprised of the most recent activities, including dates and deadlines for public comment.
In light of the current licensing backlog, Commission staff have been developing a comprehensive strategy to improve the processing time frame for all licensing actions. The agency believes that implementing the flexibility afforded by this temporary rule package and making internal process adjustments will significantly reduce the time it takes staff to evaluate each license application. The goal is to make the entire licensing process more efficient, timely, and predictable.
There are three main features that characterize the agency’s new streamlined approach to licensing:
As part of the streamlining process, OLCC will ask applicants to complete updated paperwork which aligns with the temporary rule. We recognize that many applicants have already filled out and submitted paperwork for the license application, but the new set of paperwork is straightforward and will significantly reduce the time it takes OLCC staff to evaluate the license application.
Under the streamlined licensing process, a complete application will typically include:
OLCC staff will continue to evaluate each applicant’s relevant criminal history and their record of compliance when previously licensed before issuing a license.
If an applicant has previously submitted fingerprints for a background check with another marijuana license application, OLCC staff will use the results of that license investigation rather than having the person submit new fingerprints. If an applicant has not previously submitted fingerprints, they will need to do so before the application is assigned to a license investigator.
OLCC will continue to contact applicants to confirm that they are prepared to complete the licensing process within 60 days before assigning them to a license investigator. As part of this contact, OLCC staff will provide instructions for applicants to submit fingerprints. Do not submit fingerprints until you have received these instructions from OLCC staff.
The licensing timelines established in OAR 845-025-1135 still apply:
MICHIGAN: The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) has announced the date, time, and location for its October Education and Outreach Session.
Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Time: 10:00 AM
While attendance is free, space is limited. Interested participants need to register for the Education and Outreach Session at the following website:
On November 1, 2019, the MRA began accepting applications for licensure under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA), for a marijuana retailer, marijuana processor, class B marijuana grower, class C marijuana grower, or marijuana secure transporter, from persons holding a state operating license pursuant to the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA).
On October 6, 2020, the MRA issued a bulletin announcing that on March 1, 2021, applications will then be accepted from any applicant for the following adult-use licenses:
The Education and Outreach Session will highlight all the adult-use licenses that will be available to any applicant beginning on March 1, 2021. The MRA Enforcement Section will also be in attendance to provide information on the required inspections of marijuana establishments.
Representatives from the MRA’s social equity team and Enforcement Section will be holding a question and answer session following their presentations.
The Zoom link to attend the October Education and Outreach event will be sent to participants who register.
CANADA: Aphria Inc. announced record adult-use cannabis gross revenue in first quarter fiscal year 2021 and sixth consecutive quarter of positive adjusted EBITDA.
Net Cannabis Revenue Increased 103% from Prior Year Quarter. Adjusted EBITDA from cannabis business of $10.4 million increased 11% from prior quarter. Cash cost per gram remained below $1.00 and decreased for the fourth consecutive quarter to $0.87
ILLINOIS: Sales of legal cannabis continue to grow here in the land of Lincoln, even as the rest of the US economy still struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer demand for legal marijuana remains. According to recently released data from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, adult use cannabis sales reached $67.6 million in September, nearly $18 million to out of state customers traveling in from neighboring Indiana and other states where cannabis is not legally available.
Here are the latest official numbers:
MASSACHUSETTS: Burns & Levinson will host its fourth annual “State of the Cannabis Industry” conference – which will be held virtually and will focus on critical issues in the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry – on October 29, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET. In addition to the event’s Q&A sessions, expert panels and keynote, Burns & Levinson is launching a new “Capital Connection” program to match cannabis industry startups with investors looking for early-stage companies to potentially fund or mentor. Cannabis startups will be selected through a competitive process to present their companies in private 20-minute online meetings with capital providers from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Emerging cannabis companies can apply here until October 16, but companies are encouraged to apply early.
The conference will feature an interview with Commissioner Steven Hoffman, Chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, in an exclusive one-on-one Q&A with Frank A. Segall, co-chair of the Cannabis Business & Law Advisory Group at Burns & Levinson. Keynote speakers include: Joseph Lusardi, CEO of Curaleaf, and Mitchell Kahn, co-founder and CEO of Grassroots. Curaleaf, which is a leading medical and wellness cannabis operator in the U.S., closed a landmark $830 million acquisition of Grassroots in July 2020 – creating the world’s largest cannabis company.
The expert panels and Q&A sessions will tackle a wide range of issues impacting the cannabis industry including capital markets, M&A and investments, secured lending, workouts and restructurings, and developments in the hemp and CBD market.
“Despite the pandemic, we are still seeing significant business opportunities in the capital markets, investments and M&A areas to invest in and acquire cannabis, hemp/CBD and cannabis-related companies. We look forward to fostering these relationships through our Capital Connection program,” said Segall. “Even though we can’t physically be together like in previous years, we are very excited about this year’s conference and the opportunities for participants to make connections, develop partnerships and learn from our peers and industry leaders,” added Scott Moskol, who co-chairs Burns’ Cannabis Business & Law Advisory Group with Segall.
The conference sponsors include: Cohn Reznick, Hub International, GFA Federal Credit Union, Nucleus One, Green Check Verified, Paragon Payroll, and Elevate Northeast.
Burns & Levinson was the first major Boston corporate law firm to develop a cannabis business practice, and has been advising cannabis businesses, entrepreneurs and investors across the country for over seven years. The firm has unrivaled experience in cannabis and hemp/CBD business formation and corporate structuring, private placements, venture capital, M&A, securities, banking issues, fund formation, debt and equity financing, restructuring and receiverships, real estate acquisitions and leasing, intellectual property protection, 280E taxation issues, and cannabis litigation.
The firm is well-known for its role in the cannabis banking industry and has worked with multiple financial institutions to establish a framework that allows them to accept cannabis-derived deposits. Burns & Levinson is currently working with regulated financial institutions and non-regulated private funds to set up first-of-their-kind cannabis lending programs. The firm is also among the top law firms in the country handling high-level corporate and financing deals in the private and public markets in the cannabis market.
OKLAHOMA: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has signed a contract with Metrc, a national company in 14 states, for the implementation of a statewide seed-to-sale tracking system. The contract creates a system to track marijuana plants and products from a plant’s growth stage through sale to patients. It serves as part of OMMA’s larger efforts to ensure accountability and safety within the state’s medical marijuana industry.
OMMA Interim Director Dr. Kelly Williams said “The seed-to-sale system will greatly expand our compliance capabilities and improve the effectiveness and speed of any future recall efforts. It will also allow us to detect unusual patterns that may indicate product diversion.”
Metrc offers integration features with many seed-to-sale software systems used at an individual-level by licensees, and all commercial licensees in the state will be required to either integrate with or input their information into the state’s seed-to-sale system.
Dr. Williams added, “We know that businesses will have many questions in the coming weeks, and we will answer them as quickly as possible.” OMMA will also keep the public updated as the system is implemented. It is expected to take up to six months.
OREGON: On September 21, 2020, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) issued an Order of Immediate License Suspension to the recreational marijuana lab licensee of Ecotest Labs in Phoenix, OR. Ecotest Labs must not exercise any license privileges, or engage in any delivery or receipt of marijuana items, at the licensed premises, or any other premises until further order by the OLCC.
The immediate suspension was based on a series of violations which the OLCC used to determine that Ecotest’s continued operation represents a serious danger to the public health and safety. The licensee for Ecotest Labs is Proper Rental Management, LLC.
On July 23, 2020, the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP) informed the Commission it had suspended some of Ecotest’s testing accreditations for failing to meet required testing procedures and standards. ORELAP also suspected testing equipment had been relocated from the licensed premises in Phoenix, OR to an unlicensed location in Hillsboro, Oregon, where unregulated testing was taking place, and that testing results were being entered into METRC, the OLCC’s Cannabis Tracking System (CTS). In response, the OLCC launched an investigation.
The licensee told OLCC inspectors they had been experiencing problems with their accreditation, but had been recertified. The licensee also confirmed that since August 16, 2020, they had been transferring marijuana product to their unlicensed location in Hillsboro, while justifying incorrectly that ORELAP rules allowed for such transfers.
Upon further review of the licensee’s METRC accounts, OLCC discovered that Ecotest continued to conduct testing at this unlicensed, unaccredited Hillsboro location despite being informed by both OLCC and ORELAP that this activity was not permissible. At that point-in-time, the licensee had NOT submitted an application for a new location or for a change of location.
On September 2, 2020, OLCC expanded the investigation to include other state agencies: ORELAP, Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Agriculture. Ecotest Lab – Immediate Suspension September 30, 2020.
On or about September 9, 2020, Ecotest’s licensed lab, located in Phoenix, was destroyed by the Almeda wildfire. Since then the licensee has not had a licensed premises where it could operate an OLCC approved lab, but had continued to test marijuana products through the unlicensed location in Hillsboro.
The licensee informed the Commission that it would be permanently moving its’ lab operations to the unlicensed Hillsboro location, and because the loss of the licensed location in Phoenix was caused by wildfire, it was not required to have OLCC approval, which is incorrect. OLCC staff then noticed that the licensee continued receiving marijuana samples and entering lab test information into its METRC account, which indicated that the licensee was continuing to operate at the unlicensed Hillsboro location.
The OLCC will be working to help recreational marijuana licensees impacted by wildfires, including expediting relocations according to required OLCC rules. However, some of the violations charged to Ecotest occurred before the licensee was impacted by wildfire, which impacts the business relocating and legally resuming testing of marijuana products.
Based on the initial investigation, the OLCC determined there was enough evidence to warrant the immediate suspension of Ecotest’s laboratory license. The OLCC investigation is continuing, and the licensee is entitled to exercise their administrative hearing rights to challenge the OLCC’s actions.
The OLCC has identified at least 160 affected licensees that received marijuana product tested for potency by Ecotest on or after August 21, 2020, and the agency will work with those licensees on a remedy to have the product re-tested. The OLCC has placed an administrative hold in CTS to prevent further distribution of product tested by Ecotest. Any potency tests conducted by Ecotest on or after August 21, 2020 will require retesting by an accredited, OLCC licensed laboratory for potency.