Legacy Cannabis Operators Shunned From Billion Dollar Industry

Legacy cannabis operators are the ones who bore the brunt of prohibition and paved the way for a new, legal market to flourish; one worth billions and one that has been unwelcoming, at best, to these industry OGs. Cannabis activists and many longtime business owners are pushing for the inclusion of legacy brands in the world of legalized pot. Otherwise, states are missing out on billions of dollars annually as illicit sales continue to thrive, even in recreational markets.  

The cannabis industry has changed a lot over the last few years, but fundamentally, we all want the same thing: progress, although that could have varying meanings for different people. For more articles like this one, and for exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products, remember to subscribe to The THC Weekly Newsletter. Also save big on Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!


What are legacy cannabis operators?  

Legacy operators are the trailblazers who started their cannabis businesses before it was legal, and are much more in-line with ‘stoner culture’ and history. The term can refer to business owners who run “grey market” dispensaries that have not yet become legally compliant, or street dealers who continue operating the same way they have been for decades. 

While some legacy operators have no intentions of going legit, an overwhelming majority say they would if the process wasn’t so expensive and permeated with red tape. With so many different and constantly changing regulations to adhere to, and startup costs in the hundreds of thousands, it’s no surprise that legality is out of reach for many.  

Take De’Shawn Avery from New York, who has been selling flowers for years and claims he “provided a very in-demand product when there was no product.” Before legalization, savvy entrepreneurs like Avery were a community staple that many of us were very grateful for; after legalization, they began to worry about the future of their businesses and what their roles would be in the new industry.  

Avery, and generations of other legacy dealers, fear they don’t fit the modern-day archetype of a cannabis businessperson. “It’s usually not Black people or people with records who are favored when it comes to money-making opportunities,” he pointed out.

And he’s not far off the mark for thinking that way. A few states have started to keep information on demographics within the cannabis industry and a study conducted by Marijuana Business Daily found that only 4.3 percent of cannabis companies are owned by African Americans, 5.7 percent were Hispanic/Latino owned, and 2.4% were owned by Asian Americans. That leaves 87.6 percent of pot business that are white-owned, most of which are also male-owned companies.  

To make matters worse, in most states people with prior felonies face additional restrictions when applying for cannabis business licensing. So, let’s say a legacy operator gets arrested on felony drug possession charges, then cannabis becomes legal in their state the following year. Despite having experience in the industry, existing clientele, and the perfect opportunity to transition from working in the shadows to being a legitimate business owner; they would have to wait 3 to 10 years before they could legally apply for a license. At that point, all the other businesses in their area would be already established, have possibly stolen some of their customers, and it would be even more difficult to get a foot in the door. 

The cannabis industry is definitely more inclusive than others, but often, still holds on tightly to that ‘old-boys club’ mentality that can make women, minorities, and those longtime legacy operators feel shut out.  

Looking West 

For a perfect example of the struggles faced by cannabis legacy operators, let’s take a quick look at what has been going on in California since the state passed proposition 215 and legalized medical marijuana back in 1996. At that point, the industry was still small and totally fringe. Most residents did not even know that cannabis had been legalized medicinally for so many years, and there were only a small number of dispensaries scattered throughout the state. 

By the time I turned 18 (in 2008) and was able to get a ‘medical card’ (which was shockingly easy and practically every pothead I knew had one), the industry had become very recreational. “Dispensaries”, or retail pot shops, were popping up everywhere. I once bought weed from a guy who was running his “dispensary” out of a detached garage on is property in the middle of Victorville, a small town in the high desert on the way to Vegas.

That “anything-goes” state of the industry led to the eventual passing of Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized the possession and recreational use of cannabis for anyone 21 years of age or older. A lot of the businesses operating under the original medical regime, or under the table as many were, could not meet all the demands of operating in the new legal market, and thus, were forced to shut down or continue running illegally.  

One of the biggest issues, aside from the exorbitant costs of licensing, were local moratoriums and that zoned only certain areas for cultivation, retail, and other cannabis operations. By July 2021, still just 31 counties and 181 cities (out of 58 and 482, respectively) allow any type of marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions.  

 “We voted for a law, and we are blocked at the local level,” says Andrew DeAngelo, a long-time California cannabis activist, industry consultant, and co-founder of legacy dispensary chain, Harborside Collective. “There are big counties that are known for growing weed where it’s banned,” he adds. 

States are losing billions 

This excessive regulation, greed, lack of consultation or legal help, and over-taxation has resulted in an estimated loss of up to 75% of potential cannabis revenues in some markets. In California, for example, data firms peg the number at around $5.6 billion dollars lost to the illicit market every year, that’s just over one half of the market’s total value in the state.  

It’s the only state so far that has seen recreational sales shrink following legalization. And the massive busts of illegal businesses rage on as high taxes and insane operating costs drive up prices, which are then passed on to the consumer. Instead of paying more money for crappier product, many people just stick to buying it from their dealers or illegal dispensaries that charge less and don’t pay taxes.  

Not to mention the convenience of buying from dealers, who have traditionally operated on a text-and-delivery or text-and-pickup basis. Even with a growing number of drive-throughs and delivery services, it’s still so much easier to buy from your local plug sometimes.  

A ‘less-than-welcoming’ industry  

The B2B side of the cannabis world is just like any other industry, and to be successful, you’ll need to be familiar with all the legislative and business jargon that comes with a billion-dollar industry. In cannabis, things can be much more complicated as far as regulations and business dealings are concerned; so the list of topics you’ll need to know, at least at a base level, can get quite expansive.  

“I’ve had to educate myself tremendously just to make sure I can speak the language that these people are speaking,” says Marie Montmarquet, co-founder of MD Numbers, a family of weed brands from cultivation to retail that previously operated a delivery business prior to legalization. “So, if I’m in a meeting and they’re talking about 1031 Real Estate transfers, I know what 1031 Real Estate transfers are.” 

The ultra-capitalistic environment coupled with constant oversight and regular contact with law enforcement and state/local governments, fosters an environment that feels stuffy, tense, and inhospitable – especially for anyone who has faced their own legal turmoil over cannabis, and still cannot fully trust those powers that be.  

Nomenclature: Legacy market vs black market  

Much like the politicized issue of the words “marijuana” vs “cannabis”, there is an ongoing debate about replacing the term “black market” with different phrases, one of which is “legacy market”. Black market doesn’t apply solely to cannabis, it refers to any economic activity that happens illegally.  

The selling of illegal products, of course, is a black market activity. But selling legal products in ways that are not prohibited also classifies. Like buying cigarettes in one state and selling them in another, for example. Cigarettes are legal in every US state, but because tobacco tax codes vary so much, you cannot legally buy cigarettes in Arizona and go sell them in California for a profit.  

The idea has been floating around that using the phrase “black market” is outdated and culturally insensitive. Danielle Jackson (Miz D), a Vancouver-born artist, advocate and entrepreneur, was one of the first to say publicly that “legacy market” should be used over “black market” when describing pre-legalization cannabis businesses. Her comment got overwhelming support from the audience.  

Many are tweeting in agreeance, such as Jennifer Caldwell , partner and technical lead at Cannabis License Experts, who added that, “To me, the term ‘black market’ implies a negative connotation of illegality and illegitimacy. Whether people are growing illegally or not is a complex topic at the moment.” 

Moving forward

Seeing how much money is on the line, legal states are beginning to offer incentives to make the transition more seamless for legacy cannabis operators. In California, in addition to the $100 million bailout, Governor Newsom has suggested expungement of cannabis-related convictions as well as an extension to allow licensees that have missed the deadlines to transition; albeit at high costs and great inconvenience, still. Other states are taking similar steps to ensure these business owners – the true backbone of the industry – are less excluded.

With legacy dealers, the experience can be a very mom-and-pop, tight-knit atmosphere, so word of out is key to the growth of these businesses. When big businesses come and take over all the available retail locations, cultivation spaces, and advertising channels, there’s little room left for any small businesses to make a name for themselves.  

“We’ve seen in lots of other states that big pharma, big tobacco, alcohol and large companies are all prepared to move in and just take over right away,” says New York State Senator Liz Krueger. “We don’t want that to be the story in New York. We want the story to be small mom-and-pop community-based businesses starting and growing and expanding…[and] we want people who are selling in the communities that they live in, in the illegal market and out of the illegal market.” 

“We don’t need anybody that’s coming in here just for the financial aspect,” added Edgar Cruz, CEO of cannabis brand Ekstrepe, based out of Long Beach, California. “We all understand that this is a cash cow now. What we need is support for our communities to make sure that we are included in this kind of cultural-based industry.” 

Final thoughts  

This is a lesson that every state or country considering legalization needs to take note of. Despite the financial success of the legal cannabis industry, we need more education and resources, and less taxes and regulatory red tape to harness the untapped knowledge, connections, experience, and economic wealth that exists in the legacy market. Otherwise, consumers will continue shopping in illicit markets, states will lose millions, and legalization will have done little more than prevent people from getting arrested for pot possession in certain areas.

Hello all! Welcome to CBDtesters.co, your ultimate online destination for the most relevant and thought-provoking cannabis and psychedelics-related news globally. Check back regularly to stay on top of the constantly-moving world of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and sign up for The THC Weekly Newsletterso you never miss a thing.

Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Legacy Cannabis Operators Shunned From Billion Dollar Industry appeared first on CBD Testers.

Are Regulations Around Cannabis Drinks Changing?

Regulations around cannabis drinks will likely start changing soon. Recently, cannabis companies and advocates are pushing Health Canada to reshape regulations. Cannabis beverages have become a new trend, but you might have noticed some annoyances when buying them. For example, have you ever tried buying CBD-infused beer? These drinks usually come in single cans and […]

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Seed to Sale Surveillance – The True Role of Cannabis Security Companies  

Legal cannabis sales in America hit $20 billion in 2020 and are expected to surpass $26 billion by the end of this year. Experts predict the US industry will reach roughly $46 billion by 2025. Most cannabis facilities are full of extremely expensive equipment and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products, and multimillion-dollar deals are now a regular occurrence. With so much money on the line, it’s no surprise that high-tech camera systems are a staple in every successful canna-business. But it’s not just a luxury there to help protect your assets, video surveillance is required by state law.  

Cannabis is a multi-billion dollar dinsutry, but ancillary services like surveillance are making a killing of the green as well. For more articles like this one, and exclusive deals on legal THC products, make sure to subscribe to The THC Weekly Newsletter. Also save big on Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!


Cannabis surveillance systems – an overview  

Anyone interested in learning more about the security sector should look no further than the trade-show floor at MJBizCon. Numerous security exhibitors where there to share their knowledge, equipment, technology, and basic protocols with those eager to gain more knowledge. I spoke to a few people from different companies and learned quite a bit regarding what they do and how it all works.  

Let’s start with pricing, since superior quality surveillance cameras will be a crucial part of any cannabis business plan. Naturally, average pricing will vary based on the type of business in question. For example, in dispensaries, the typical setup is around 16 to 32 cameras, depending on square footage, with remote access features, battery backup, and different methods for saving data.  

According to Security Grade Protective, a system like that runs about $10,000 for the initial installation. For a larger scale cultivation center, you’re looking at up to $300,000, although the average figure is around half that. You may also incur additional fees for upgraded services and features which can include but are not limited to: IP cameras, high end megapixel cameras, rapid response monitoring, armed or unarmed guard services, real-time notification of break-ins, off-site storage, and investigative background checks.  

For monitoring and maintenance, Security Grade Protective charges $35 per camera per month for dispensaries. Large cultivation centers are charged less per camera, usually some type of bulk rate since they need so many more units. “Data and Internet are not free and everyone is charging for that data package right now. We explain to our customers to imagine using their cell phone to run 150 YouTube videos all day, every day. Imagine what your data bill is going to be. Then they kind of have an understanding of why the data is not free,” says David Beckett, vice president. 

The cannabis industry has a unique need for surveillance. Beyond the fact that it’s a requirement for state licensing, they are mostly prohibited from working with banks so these businesses that sell a fairly expensive commodity at high volumes, are forced to deal entirely in cash… and there’s a lot of it, so safety is essential. Security Grade Protective Services averages around 50 installations at dispensaries and cultivation centers per year, and they’re just one of many companies competing in this niche.  

Who needs cameras and where?  

Cannabis is tracked from seed to sale, so cameras need to be installed and fully operational in cultivation and processing centers as well as dispensaries/retail stores. For dispensaries, most states require business applicants to provide detailed security plans that will detect and prevent theft, diversion, trespassing, and any other activities that lead to loss of currency, products, or assets.  

As such, video surveillance cameras need to be installed at all points of entry, lobbies and waiting areas, elevators and hallways, point-of-sale areas, storage areas, employee breakrooms, offices, around the outside perimeter of the building, and sometimes even in the parking lot. Basically, all areas except the bathrooms need to be monitored.  

Recording of grow ops and manufacturing centers is also required by law. Cameras are assigned to certain plants and need to be strategically placed throughout the area to keep track of growth and processing. With dispensaries, the regulations are pretty clear cut, but surveilling a grow area or extraction facility can be incredibly challenging because they have to work with whatever physical layout they have as well as frequently changing regulations regarding security and seed-to-sale tracking. In dispensaries it’s easy, just put the cameras everywhere.    

Piggybacking off the last point, different states can also have different rules when it comes this particular topic. Some states have pretty basic requirements while others can add many additional stipulations such as alarm systems, simultaneous on-site and/or cloud-based recording, a minimum number of security guards on site, and so forth. 

Staying compliant  

If you’re trying to establish a legitimate canna-business, compliance is key. The problem is that compliance in cannabis is much more confusing than other industries, mainly because there is a huge disconnect between federal and state regulations, and at the state level, statutes are forever changing.  

State laws governing cannabis surveillance are no exception – they’re just as perplexing and all-over-the-place as nearly everything other aspect of this industry. For example, the state of California requires a camera resolution of 1280 x 720 (720p) pixels or better and a minimum of 15 frames per second. Additionally, cameras need to be recording 24/7 with no interruptions (regardless of lighting and weather conditions) and they must be Internet Protocol (IP) compatible.  

In Illinois, cannabis security requirements include the recording every single stage of the “seed to store” operation including the plant’s growth, trimming, harvesting, processing or extraction if applicable, packaging, and transportation. Illinois also requires 24/7 surveillance of dispensaries. Additionally, each cultivation facility, processing plant, and retail store must ensure the availability of a video printer capable of immediately producing a clear still photo from any of the security cameras.  

Video retention time is also a matter of concern. Using the golden state as an example again, cannabis business owners in California must store footage for a minimum of 90 days, but in other states that could be up to one full year. Now consider that with a 24-hour per day filming requirement, that’s a total of roughly 13 GB per day… that’s a lot of data to store! And storing data is not cheap, so finding flexible and affordable options to work with these laws is a must.  

For insurance coverage

Insurance is a necessary evil for any business owner, but it’s not always easy to obtain when your business is cannabis. Insurers have claimed that cannabis companies are at higher risk for theft and organized crime because they keep piles of cash and pot on hand. Some states already require weed businesses to carry insurance (California and Massachusetts) and experts believe that if the practice was more widespread, insurance companies could collect billions in premiums off cannabis. Despite high earning potentials, most insurers are still not willing to chance it.  

According to Luke Ewing from Cannabis Compliance Company Simplifya, “Insurers like risk when you bear it. They like when they can quantify the odds of having to pay you money, so that they can price their coverage accordingly. But when the risk is on them, it’s another story.” 

“The legal uncertainty, while a problem for anyone dealing with the cannabis industry, is especially concerning for insurers because it hits at the heart of what they do,” Ewing added. “Insurance is priced according to the risk it covers, but with cannabis law, the rules, and consequently the liability risks, change literally every day.” 

Insurance will cover your butt if there is a fire, any type of damage to your store, natural disaster, theft, vandalism and destruction, and many other issues that could completely ruin a person financially. Plus, with successful dispensaries there will be a high level of foot traffic and you’ll want to protect yourself from liability claims. Of the few companies that actually are willing to provide coverage to the cannabis industry, a general requirement is that the business have a comprehensive security plan in place, and that always includes some type of surveillance.  

Final thoughts on cannabis industry surveillance

As you can see, the world of cannabis industry surveillance is much more convoluted than simply choosing to install a system because you want a higher level of safety. Althought it’s definitely a good idea to have some type of security in place, because of current laws, you’ll need to buy one whether you want to or not. When adding, expensive,high-tech surveillance cameras to a business, compliance is probably the last thing on most people’s minds, but when you’re working with marijuana, it’s everything.

Hello all! Welcome to CBDtesters.co, your ultimate online destination for the most relevant and thought-provoking cannabis and psychedelics-related news globally. Read through the site regularly to stay on top of the constantly-moving world of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and sign up for The THC Weekly Newsletterso you never miss a thing.

DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Seed to Sale Surveillance – The True Role of Cannabis Security Companies   appeared first on CBD Testers.

How Cannabis in the Workplace is Becoming Increasingly Complicated

Cannabis in the workplace is now becoming increasingly complicated. With legalization, more Canadians now use cannabis, but employers remain cautious. Several years have passed since cannabis has been legalized, but policies around using weed in the workplace remain unclear. In Canada, employers must ensure the safety of employees in their work environment. And in turn, […]

The post How Cannabis in the Workplace is Becoming Increasingly Complicated appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Conservative Cannabis: Legalization Gaining Republican Support

These days Americans are more divided than ever: republican vs democrat, conservative vs liberal, different views on healthcare and pandemic response, and numerous other economic and social issues prevail – there is one thing that nearly everyone seems to agree on though, cannabis legalization.

It’s a commonly held assumption that democrats favor cannabis (to an extent) and conservative republicans don’t, and traditionally that’s been true. But ballot initiates in numerous different red states show that republicans and independent conservatives are coming around on legalization issues. It’s one of the few topics that seems to garner support across the board, regardless of which side of the political line you’re looking at.

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“The prevailing wisdom has been that a conservative administration would be less receptive, but I think cannabis legalization is now inevitable on its own kinetic energy,” said Sturges Karban, chief executive officer of cannabis logistics company ManifestSeven. “While federal legalization was a political ‘third rail’ as recently as 2016, it now looks as though 2021 will be a turning point for the industry.”

The world of cannabis is always evolving, especially when it comes to regulations. To learn more about cannabis legislation, make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter, where you will get all the latest news as well as access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products.


“People are just much less afraid of marijuana”

This year, we have a lot of action in unexpected states. With cannabis use becoming increasingly prevalent around the world, especially following all the changes brought on by COVID-19, it seems that new legislation at the federal level is inevitable. There are quite a few republican states that already have very lax rules regarding cannabis, and some numerous swing states that have legalized it completely.

Currently, 16 states and Washington D.C. have fully legalized adult-use cannabis, 37 states have implemented some type of medical cannabis program, and 46 states have “decriminalized” cannabis to some extent. A survey of 500 New Jersey voters, conducted by legal firm Branch Eichler LLC, found that a higher-than-expected number of republicans support adult-use cannabis – 75% of democrats and 52% of republicans.

“People are just much less afraid of marijuana than they used to be,” said John Fanburg, who co-chairs the cannabis practice at the New Jersey-based law firm that conducted the poll. He attributes that to the state’s “successful medical program, which has grown from 20,000 participants three years ago to 90,000, removing the stigma of marijuana for thousands of people on both sides of the political aisle.”

Red States Considering Cannabis

Conservative states have been a bit slower to adapt to the changing times, however, there seems to be a major shift in viewpoints over the last few months with numerous cannabis-related bills being introduced in these areas. One of the most notable being Texas. Within the last month, the Texas senate approved several bills for cannabis decriminalization, as well as to expand the existing medical industry, lower the penalty on THC concentrates, and to force the study of psychedelics.

Last month, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee passed a limited medical cannabis bill that would raise the cutoff for THC in hemp products to 0.9%, three times higher than the federal limit. Also, a handful of new disorders would be added to the state’s list of qualifying medical conditions for cannabis use. Louisiana just passed House Bill 391 which will allow dispensaries to sell smokable flower products, while allowing patients to buy up to 2.5 ounces every 14 days.

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Last month, Governor Kay Ivey officially signed into law the medical marijuana bill that we’ve been tracking, making Alabama the 37th state in the U.S. to legalize medical cannabis; and there have also been notable changes in Wyoming, Idaho, Mississippi, and Kansas.

“The conservative states are empirical evidence that there’s enough demand and support at the grassroots level that the issue of cannabis is agnostic to party,” Karban said. “How do you ignore that if you’re in Washington? As bipartisan support for legalization grows in states across the country, there’s increased likelihood of change at the federal level, too.”

What’s up with Biden?

Although blue is known for being the “forward-thinking” party, with most democratic politicians showing some level of support for fair marijuana reform, our current president doesn’t have the best track-record when it comes to cannabis legislation and the subsequent social equity issues that come par for the course with drug prohibition. In the 1980s, Biden was actually very committed to the war on drugs, with a heavy focus on cannabis, helping draft numerous pieces of legislation that would keep low-level, non-violent drug offenders incarcerated for years to come.

As of 2010, his opinions hadn’t changed much and he can be quoted saying, “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalizing. The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug.” So far, that’s roughly 30 years of Biden against cannabis.

Fast forward another decade and Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States, during a time when cannabis legalization is an incredibly polarizing topic on many fronts: economic, social, and health institutions all have a major stake in the industry. At the very least it seems Biden has accepted that cannabis legalization is inevitable, and even mentioned that he thinks “it is at the point where it has to be, basically, legalized.”

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However, he maintains his stance in favor of decriminalization over full legalization. But as we already know from watching the many states that have tried it already, decriminalization is a completely pointless step in between prohibition and legalization that allows for too much “interpretation” of the law.

In his latest move. In March of this year, at least five members of the Biden administration had their employment terminated, and dozen more were forced to “resign” for admitting to past marijuana use. This is move is right on the heels of an announcement made just one month prior, in February, in which the Biden Administration stated that past marijuana use would not disqualify someone from employment with the federal government.

Final Thoughts of Cannabis in Conservative States

Note that I’m a moderate, sometimes I align with conservative ideals and sometimes I lean liberal, so this is NOT an attempt to push people towards a republican vote. On the contrary, this shows that even in a world meant to divide us, there are still some topics that have the power to bring people together. When it comes to cannabis legalization, the overwhelming majority of Americans are tired of prohibition and ready for progress.

I can personally attest to this. Having been raised blue California where cannabis has been legal in some fashion since the 90s, and currently living in Indiana, one of the most cannabis-restrictive states in the nation – everyone I have met so far in both states support legalization. Either they consume cannabis products themselves, or they just don’t care if other people do.

The attitude toward cannabis these days is much more laissez-faire, and rightfully so. At its worst, cannabis a harmless substance that induces a mild psychoactive high. At its best, we have a powerful, therapeutic plant that can be used to treat a myriad of different conditions, greatly improving ones quality of life. To legalize seems like the only logical option at this point, regardless of what political party one supports.

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State by State Cannabis Legislation – What’s Legal Now and Where?

Throughout the country, cannabis regulations are changing every day. Some areas are experiencing more dramatic legislative upgrades than others, but every little step forward still counts. At the moment, there are 5 states that come to mind because, one, they are making big moves, or two, they are conservative states that most people were expecting would hold on to prohibition for much longer.

This week we’re focusing on the East Coast and Deep South, with updates from Connecticut, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. To learn more about cannabis legislation, make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter, where you will get all the latest news as well as access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products.


Connecticut

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D), along with other state lawmakers, just reached a compromise on an adult-use cannabis bill that will likely be implemented in late spring of 2022. The bill would finally lay the groundwork for retail sales to launch in the state. According to estimates from MJBizDaily, the Connecticut recreational market could exceed $250 million in sales in just the first year, and reach a total of roughly $725 million by the fourth year.

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Senate Bill 1118 has only just been drafted, however, and it still needs to a pass votes in both the House of Representatives and Senate. Opponents may still try to interfere, which could result in Gov. Lamont calling a special session on the issue this summer. It’s hard to say whether that will also delay the launch of recreational sales or not.

One of the major points in this agreement is offering priority licensing status to social equity applicants. According to the bill text, to qualify as a social equity applicant, the individual will need to have spent the last five out of ten years living in a “disproportionately impacted area, as defined by a jobless rate above 10% or a historically high drug conviction rate. Municipalities would be limited to one marijuana retailer and one micro-cultivator per 25,000 residents until July 1, 2024.”

Tennessee

Tennessee is a relatively conservative state, but the influx of new residents from blue states along the east and west coasts might be having an impact already. Last month, Republican Governor Bill Lee passed a limited medical cannabis bill that would lead to many changes in the way businesses operate within the state.

Once implemented, the bill will legalize possession of CBD oil containing up to 0.9 percent THC for approved medical patients. This is three times higher than the federal government’s cutoff of 0.3 percent. Additionally, the enacted bill would expand on the current list of qualifying conditions by adding the following diseases and disorders: Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, cancer, inflammatory bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and sickle cell disease.

People would need to keep proof of their medical conditions with them at any time they are in possession of the cannabis oil. Additionally, there is still nowhere to legally purchase these products in the state. So, although it will be legal to possess now, it will have to be obtained illegally or out of state. Further legislation will be needed to regulate the manufacture and distribution of cannabis products.

Louisiana                    

Louisiana’s medical cannabis program has faced harsh criticism from industry advocates for making it nearly impossible for patients to access product. Over regulation combined with high prices, limited cultivation licenses (only 2 issued statewide) meant that patients numbers were extremely low, and as such, so were profits.

However, the program should see a major jump in registration starting next year, when House Bill 391 is enacted and dispensaries will be permitted to sell smokable flower. In many established markets, flower accounts for roughly 50 percent of total sales and recent surveys show the demand for smokables is high in Louisiana.

As is standard, patients will have a purchasing limit, although it will fairly lenient allowing up to 2.5 ounces (70 grams) every 14 days. Qualifying conditions include cancer, positive status for HIV, AIDS, cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, post traumatic disorder, and some symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder.

Cannabis Legislation – Alabama

Last month, Governor Kay Ivey officially signed into law the medical marijuana bill that we’ve been tracking, making Alabama the 37th state in the U.S. to legalize medical cannabis. Patients with qualifying health conditions – which include cancer, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder, chronic pain, or any chronic illness – will be permitted to register for the state’s medical program.

After signing Senate Bill 46, Gov. Ivey released this statement: “Signing SB 46 is an important first step. I would like to again thank Sen. Tim Melson and Rep. Mike Ball for their hard work over the last few years and their willingness to address the legitimate concerns. This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied.”

“On the state level,” he added, “we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days.”

Mississippi

Interestingly, Mississippi is really where it all began, considering that University of Mississippi won the very first grant to cultivate and study medical cannabis back in 1968. Despite that, the laws for consumers have been less than progressive until recently.

Last week, Senate lawmakers discussed the potential of medical cannabis legalization within the state, but unless Governor Tate Reeves (R) calls a special session. It still seems promising that changes will happen before the end of the year, with Reeves telling Biloxi TV station WLOX that it is “imperative that a medical marijuana law be passed to support the will of the voters.”

The initiate is business friendly but also gives some power to municipalities should they want to utilize zoning restrictions to opt of medical cannabis programs. There is also some opposition to the proposed purchasing limits of 2.5 ounces every 14 days, which some conservatives say is “too generous” and should be lowered.

Cannabis Legislation – Final Thoughts

Progressive legislation has also been moving forward in states which have already legalized or decriminalized cannabis, such as Nevada and New Mexico. There have also been notable changes in some of the nation’s strictest states, like Wyoming, Texas, Idaho and Kansas. For more updates, make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter, for all the latest news as well as access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products.

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All about seed-to-sale tracking: the good, the bad, and the ugly

As cannabis legalization is gaining momentum all around the world, the topic of seed-to-sale tracking is also getting more attention—both good and bad. As we’ve come to learn, legalization isn’t just a matter of signing on the dotted line, it requires a complete overhaul of the industry. For regulators and legislators, it’s become imperative to […]

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Big Box Blueprint For CBD Industry Means Regulation

For the CBD industry to move into ‘Big Box’ retailers compliance and regulations are key, says a leading industry figure.

Garrett Bain, Chief Sales and Marketing Manger at Canadian cannabis firm GenCanna was speaking the Hemp & CBD Expo in Birmingham, U.K. He said: “The pathway for the CBD industry into the big box retail outlets, in the U.K. with the likes of Tesco and Boots, in the U.S. with Walmart and the others, will be regulation.

Consistency And Compliance

“At the moment we are a boutique, and online retail industry, coming from a place of little regulation, but as we grow we will start to see a change taking place.

“It will start with start with compliance, the delivery of consistent product and establishing a chain of custody – whereby regulators can easily identify where a product has come come from. Any lack of trust across the value chain, will trouble the consumer and trouble the regulators.”

For businesses, he says this means having a trusted supplier and partners, ensuring farming practices are compliant with industry standards such as GMP, the FDA and the U.S. Hemp Authority. 


From Hipsters To Lifestyle Brands

He went on to say compliant businesses need to welcome auditors who can ‘peel back the layers of the onion’ and find everything is in order. The major challenge is to deliver the same products to the retailer, ‘consistently’, he added.

“The biggest concerns of retailers are; who are the brands who can deliver? and compliance? Is there a supplier with the scale to deliver to 3,000, 5,000, or 10,000 doors, at the moment there are not enough brands who can do that.”

U.S. cannabis lawyer Anne Van Leynselle, of Zuber Lawler is based in Los Angeles and has been involved in the business for over five years. She says in that time it has changed from a hipster, DIY world to a lifestyle-branded one, saying that cannabis businesses tend to follow four path trajectories. 

The first being ‘scaleability’; the ability to deliver enough of a product to meet a growing market demand, secondly is guaranteeing the ‘consistency’ of product and the last two are ‘expansion’ and ‘exit’ strategy.

The ‘American Dream’

She said that if a business’ plan is to stay the same size, then, the likelihood is that it ‘won’t be around in two years’. She said the growth of the U.S. cannabis industry has allowed people from all walks of life to pursue the American Dream.

“There are limitless opportunities in the cannabis business, whether it’s to make good products or to make money, there are lots of way to actualize your dream.”

While highlighting the issues of regulatory compliance she highlighted how manufacturers of certain products, such as glucosamine, are now allowed to make limited medical health claims and believes this is the direction in which the CBD industry is traveling.

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Looney Toss: When substance, strippers, and the law collide

It’s no secret that prohibition can cause a lot of problems. Good or bad, it often changes the way society approaches sex. Like lovers, sex and illicit substances tend to go hand-in-hand and regardless of whether they should, the laws of one affect the other.  So, here we are almost a year after cannabis prohibition […]

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Navigating Regulations for Successful Cannabis Marketing

As more and more territories around the world are legalizing cannabis in one way or another, the different rules and regulations in every territory make getting in front of customers’ eyeballs a  strenuous task for many cannabis companies all over the world.

Cannabis is not federally legal in the US, in some states it is legal for both recreational and medical consumption, and in other, only for medicinal use. The same goes for Europe where countries have different regulations and tolerance toward cannabis. In Spain for example, cannabis is not legal but yet, one of the biggest conventions in the cannabis industry – Spannabis – is taking place in Barcelona.  

The problem gets worse when it comes to marketing and advertising cannabis products due to dissimilarity in marketing, branding, advertising, and packaging cannabis from one territory to another. Here in California, for example, you can advertise on billboards whereas in Maryland you can’t.

Airing a cannabis-related commercial on any TV station in the world right now is quite a challenge and usually not worth the trouble. Cannabis retailer MedMen created an ad by Oscar-winner Spike Jonez that was played in movie theaters, YouTube and SiriusXM but not on any TV network. Even in Canada, the epitome of legal cannabis, the law is very strict when it comes to cannabis on TV.



But if you think about it, this is 2019, almost 2020, who needs “traditional” media these days?!  According to The Guardian “Young people in Britain have almost entirely abandoned television news broadcasts”.  The internet and social media are playing a huge part in marketing cannabis all over the world. In fact, without social media, we wouldn’t have seen the massive growth of the global cannabis industry

Social media is responsible for the hyper-fast distribution of content, ideas, and products. The problem is that even over the internet and social media, marketing cannabis is not so easy. Last year, YouTube deleted many very successful channels that focused on cannabis. YouTube is a Google company and you can not advertise cannabis on Google. Facebook is another huge outlet that does not allow cannabis advertising. Instagram, a Facebook company,  is shutting down cannabis-related profiles constantly. So no matter how you look at it, marketing cannabis is very hard. 

As a brand strategist and marketing consultant working with clients in the cannabis industry, I’m very familiar with these issues. Let me show you some light points and tactics that will help you see the light at the end of the cannabis marketing tunnel.

The thing is that as much as it is hard to market cannabis on those channels mentioned above, it is 1) possible 2) the regulation on those platforms is the same worldwide, so it is clear what you can and can’t do to promote your cannabis business. So be smart and stay inside the lines.

cannabis marketing

Social media marketing is the way of the future

In addition to these channels, cannabis media channels are booming everywhere, from magazines to online shows, huge blogs, and podcasts. Cannabis POS media is a growing channel as well, where you can advertise your products and services mainly on TV screens in dispensaries. One very beneficial result we got out of the decline of TV as the master of all advertising, is the opportunity to use the advertising budget in a much broader way than when TV was king.

There are many websites you never heard about or heard about but never thought of allocating budget for, that have an abundance of traffic. You can have a successful ad campaign for your cannabis brand using advertising networks on different high traffic websites that are not Google or Facebook, nor cannabis channels. One advertising network such as this is Traffic Roots, located in San Diego, offering ads on websites such as Rolling Stone magazine, and Huff Post, among others. 

What is common to all of the channels, platforms and promotion options mentioned above is that they all cost money. You must pay to play. 

What a lot of new businesses are missing these days, regardless of the industry, is organic, free, content to get exposure, sales, and high-quality, consistent traffic and customers. I’m a huge believer in content and a long-time practitioner of using organic (free) content to grow sales and increase market share. Regardless of obvious SEO benefits (Search Engine Optimization) which are huge, content is king, mainly when it’s free.

When I talk about free content I mean posts and stories on Instagram and Facebook, IGTV and YouTube videos, newsletters, automated emails, Linkedin/Instagram/Facebook/Youtube live and so on. In order to create the right marketing mix for your business, you must utilize the many free options for content marketing.

With the right content, you can not only make sure you’ll have no issues with Google, Facebook, or the rest of the moguls, you can extend your online presence, expose your products and services, and get immediate feedback.

The best way to master the production of good online content is to use “brand thinking”. Good branding is not about a great looking logo, it is about creating a positive emotional bond between your brand and the customers. Here are the three marketing mistakes most businesses do and that you must avoid in order to create successful content that converts to sales and brand awareness:

It’s about trust

cannabis marketing

Brand awareness is extremely important

The most important thing to understand is that in order to create long term business success you must create a trusted relationship and empathy between your business and consumers. For most business owners this means a shift in mindset: stop thinking like a product and start thinking like a person.

Products don’t write blog posts, products don’t post on social media, products don’t publish YouTube videos, humans do. You need to be personal and authentic and not focus on making a sale or create content that constantly promotes your product or service and talks relentlessly about the feature of your product. The more you try to sell, the less you will actually sell.

The context of the content

We all love our products, we know everything about them and have a clear conception as to why consumers should use or buy them. But this is OUR perception, not the customers’. In order to be successful as a brand on social media and to create content that converts, you should think from your target audience’s point of view.

What will make them read your content, click on your posts, open your newsletters, and then get interested enough to make a purchase either on your website or at your physical location?

Be Consistent

The third thing you should keep in mind to master content marketing is to be consistent. Not only post on social media all the time, but to constantly send newsletters, and publish movies to YouTube. You should be consistent with your content’s look & feel as well.

Use the same formats, the same tone of voice, and the same concepts. And remember – when a piece of content performs really well, for instance, a specific post or video, double down and create more content like it. 

Final Thoughts

I’m not a numbers guy, I don’t know about numbers, I know about people, but one thing I learned in more than 20 years in marketing is that the data don’t lie. When you do things right, you get immediate results. I don’t say it is going to be easy, or that you will be a millionaire in less than a month, but I can tell you that regardless of the industry, implementing the RIGHT content strategy for my clients has always been successful. 

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