Hemp-CBD Rules Argued at DC Circuit         Open this newsletter in your own browser 
Vol. 8, No. 17-  April 23,  2022 - Edited by Dr. Lloyd Covens
JERSEY REC KICKOFFS WITH YOUNG LATINO  AT RISE---His 3:30am arrival at the Patterson(NJ) dispensary of RISE(Green Thumb Industries) cemented 23-year old Dan Garcia(above)  as one of New Jersey's first adult-use customers on April 21.  MJ Biz estimates this year's RMJ haul will sell $625 to $775Mil., rising to 2026 estimated sales of $2-$2.4Bil.  Thirteen MMJ stores-- which now service more than 120,000 NJ patients-- have told state officials they will have adequate MJ supplies to keep medical access served, and also start RMJ sales as typical top shelf flower sells for $60 per eighth. Beyond GTI,  other MSO-owned stores opened in NY came from Acreage Holdings, Ascend Wellness, Columbia Care(Cresco), Curaleaf, TerrAscend and Verano Holdings. PHOTO CREDIT: 
MJ Social Equity Success
Remains Distant Dream

         More than 100 social equity hopefuls attended the Black Cannabis Equity Initiative half-day webinar, April 19,  echoing concerns about initial investment and frustration at seeing good state policies gaining so little traction. Beyond years-long lawsuits, preference conflicts and an ever more complex set of rules -- the dearth of serious(non-debt) capital is killing most equity goals in markets from Oregon to Massachusetts.

     "They say all the right things," but do very litte on putting any money up," said Denver's Art Way, a long-time lobbyist and activists who thinks major dispensary owners have simply decided to "wait out" a push from new entrants.  Colorado has processed 40-plus (half delivery) social equity licenses, but early capital is tough to find--and even a "social equity accelerator" program is dormant with just 3 state filings.  "The aspirations of the social equity programs are commendable", added Way, "but we  are trying to make the industry more inclusive" --and the incumbents don't want that, he said.

       In New Jersey, Martha Figaro the Black founder of CannPowerment Manufacturing said her push for licensing has found a lot of back-and- forth between state cannabis policy and municipal approvals,  increasing greater lead time for her eventual license.  "But until the (REC) growers are licensed to start cultivating," Figaro noted, "we can't even begin to produce infused products," noting only MSO players will be ready to open their adult-use doors in New Jersey on April 21.

Later this year Nevada cannabis regulators plan to open up 40 new social consumption lounge permits-- with 10 promised to be awarded to social equity applicants.  And Nevada's "big money" dispensary chain owners have kept the state's total ownership to a  tight 65 to 70 players.  Chamber of Cannabis co-founder Nicole Buffong noted since Nevada kicked off medical sales in 2016 there are only two Black cultivators and two Black-owned dispensaries in the Silver state.

    For Michigan, awarding of delivery licenses have started a broader social equity initiative which will extend to many license types.  Massachusetts-based Devin Alexander said his delivery service has struggled in the license-types' first year.  And Colorado's first wave of  21 licensed social equity delivery firms are struggling without dispensary chain support.  No Colorado regulations have required chains to use those licensees, with many dispensaries providing their own delivery, with advocates predicting "the dispensaries simply[will] wait them out."

         While Illinois Gov J.B. Pritzker has staunchly supported mass expungements--and fights for specific social equity set-asides and funding--the Illinois social effort is now held up in litigation.  With 184 initial licenses(half destined for Black/Brown owners) pending over legal challenges to selection critera and scoring-- veteran Illinois cannabis advocate Ron Holmes told the webinar that Illinois is "stuck in the mud".  And the lawsuit holdup is also tieing up the issuance of non-suit related craft licenses--and further complicating the next wave of 50 licenses which Illinois cannabis regulators want to assign via a lottery.  Webinar participants agreed that while expungements are a key social justice provision, those efforts should not replace concerted funding for new impacted licensees.

       One plan to support early investors was advanced by a New York equity hopeful.  Chez Santiago said he wants SAFE banking language sold to Sen. Corey Booker(D-NJ) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter(D-CO) to add a new "offset bond" to give significant tax breaks when an investor sells their social equity position.  "The simple tax break would amend the federal tax code to provide that qualified social equity investors receive a direct federal credit against the total cash placed into equity--"offering an attractive 20 or 25% reduction" in offsetting tax upon sale of their social equity investment, said Santiago.

But even in Colorado hopes for quick funding from a 2021 legislative bill setting up the $4Mil. Cannabis Business Office have faded.  Only $500,000 (10-$25,000 and 5-$50,000) of the $4Mil. will be awarded to a select 15 (of 43 submitted) successful poor or prior-offender applicants, all targeting impacted neighborhoods for new cultivation, dispensaries, delivery or social(hospitality) clubs.  For its part, Denver opened the first hospitality club in time for 4/20, but "Social Equity" will only allow vape or edible cannabis consumption.  Denver's TETRA Lounge hopes to open soon, with a third licensee, Parkhill Inn-- likely to get  final approval by mid-June.  Denver officials did confirm that many of its initial 18 delivery social equity permits were "on the brink" with Colorado companies deciding to take on their own delivery fleet.  Cannabis Business Office did promise another round of applicants "later this year" but provided little new information on a new fund "of one million" which is being created, according to CBO, according to executive director Tristan Watkins.

        With over a year since the George Floyd protests, many in social equity cirlces see political support slackening. A focus on "Black Lives Matter" heated up the reparations discussion-- also justice for offenders in communities of color.  Another question remains for the potential role for Latino cannabis license recipients, especially in higher population Hispanic states like Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and eventually, Texas.

Long-time Congressional cannabis supporter Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) wrote in a 4/20 tweet: "the Senate has the power to make this the last year that Black and brown people sit in jail for a substance that is now a $25 billion industry dominated by white men."
  21 Webinars, Shows & Replays: CannaPlanna --read your final

free issue this Wednesday -- or order today at
WANA DONATING $140,000 IN FOOD --  In each of Wana’s 13 U.S. markets, the company is donating $10,000 to local organizations best equipped to meet the need for food assistance in their communities. See how you can help this great 420 cause  at

CANNABIS News Briefs....
            The fourth major federal court hearing pitting the U.S. hemp industry against the Drug Enforcement Agency, April 19,  found another round of judges doubting the hemp group had standing-- but hearing arguments that 2018's Farm Bill prevents DEA's latest "over-reach" in asserting its' role to oversee hemp processing procedures.  The April 18th DC Circuit hearing found both Vicente Sederberg attorney Shane Pennington and Yetter Coleman's Matthew Zorn repeatedly cut off-- even in mid-explanation.  The DC Court panel of three judges questioned HIA standing and "potential harms" which the (thus far unenforced) DEA extraction rule which would make all CBD hemp (which temporarily burns over 0.3% THC) subject to destruction as it would be deemed "turned into cannabis."  The prior three major court cases from the Hemp Industry Association versus the DEA have all been argued before the much friendlier 9th Circuit in San Francisco.  Zorn called the proposed DEA rule as creating a "double layver of criminality."  While the DC court panel will take up to six months to release its decision, hemp sources said an "en banc" hearing-- to rehear the issues--might be sought.  Hear the two court audio arguments from Zorn and Pennington at: -$file/20-1376.mp3 and at:

Launching with 250 retail stores (from 151 RMJ license holders) New Mexico's first two weeks of adult-use sales were upbeat with great interest from several Texas markets, including Sunland Park, NM-- minutes away from El Paso.  Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham said she expected to purchase some cannabis product "soon," part of the first year projected sales of $300Mil., yielding a projected $50Mil in tax revenue, and creation of 11,000 new jobs.  Ultra Health, New Mexico largest licensee is committed to supporting the state's 115,000 medical patients with vice president Marissa Novel telling West420 News:  "It will be a challenge for not only Ultra Health but the total New Mexico statewide cannabis market to produce enough cannabis to replace the unprecedented frequency and amount of cannabis purchases we are seeing today. The only way to guarantee needs to be met for both patients and adults is to immediately lift all production caps and allow producers to ramp up to meet demand before it is recaptured by the unsafe and unregulated illicit market," said Novel.--- In Las Cruces, in southern New Mexico,  the first social consumption lounge will open adjacent to dispensary, SOL Cannabis. Co-founder Kwame Ponshock told KFOX-14 TV  "I wanted to have a refuge for people like myself and be able to utilize cannabis in a cannabis friendly zone with other cannabis users."

Link-of-the-Week:  CuraLeaf released its 40-page Social Impact report, April 18, detailing millions of corporate dollars which have flowed to its multi-faceted "diversity, environment and sustainability" plan. For instance, CuraLeaf's mentor/seed money "25-420" program has partnered with 20-plus small cannabis companies across its footprint.  New York and New Jersey have both committed to millions of dollars in startup assistance--both markets where CuraLeaf expects to build out a major presence. In food assistance help, Curaleaf has directly funded local non-profits, and expects many new worker development programs and strong sustainable practices in energy and packaging. But in the area of minority hiring, the company admits it must boost the "diversity of our senior leadership team by 25% in 2022." Curaleaf's report recapped current leadership was 56% men, and 44% women, with an overall workforce composition reflecting:  55% White (not Latino); 17.8% Latino; 7.9% Black; 3.2%; Two or more races; 1.8% Asian and 1% American Indian.  Workers refusing to check any racial or ethnic designations who opted out were 12.9%. Full report: Impact_Report_6f56bef6dd.pdf

MG magazine has released its annual compilation of "best places to work" in the cannabis sector.  Leading publicly-held companies on the list were:

Ayr Wellness
Columbia Care (Native Roots)
Vireo (now owned by Verano)
Publicly traded non-MSOs:

Other notable private firms on MG's list were:   Boveda,  FlowKana,  Kiva Confections, Mile HIgh Labs, Papa&Barkley, Treez, PAX Labs and Wana Brands.

Temper-Temper-- On his way to keynote the Miami Benzinga April 20-21 cannabis investment summit  boxer (and hopeful cannabis entreprenuer) Mike Tyson was taped repeatedly punching out a fellow passenger.   TMZ reported  the boxer had been annoyed with an "intoxicated passenger on a JetBlue flight from San Francisco to Florida, per TMZ.  Tyson, who was convicted in rape in 1992 and is known for biting opponent Evander Holyfield’s ear off in a heated match in 1997--setting up the Tyson ear-shaped gummies he has hoped to add to THC retail shelves.  According to TMZ, Tyson walked off the plane following the incident and the victim contacted police.

Lest we forget.  Since March 4th basketball stand-out Brittney Griner remains under Russian arrest for allegedly carrying two cannabis vape cartridges.   Join the protest at:

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