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🌿 Virtual 4/20 Celebrations 🌿

🌿 Virtual 4/20 Celebrations 🌿

Welcome back to our weekly newsletter, which outlines recent cannabis news you need to know about related to entrepreneurship, finance, legal, medicine, science, and technology.

Join us for a live CannaGather Digital: The Evolution of Cannabis Advocacy on April 9 by RSVP’ing (required) for free here. This week, we’ve got Aaron Smith (NCIA, Co-Founder & Executive Director), Seun Adedeji (CEO of Elev8 Cannabis), and Shanel Lindsay, J.D. (Founder & CEO of Ardent Life)! If you’d like to speak at, sponsor, or otherwise collaborate on a future CannaGather Digital, email Rico Lamitte.

What’s going on this week: Illinois shops in March sell almost $36 million of recreational products. Epidiolex is no longer a controlled substance. Senators push for cannabusinesses to gain access to federal loan programs. And companies opt for virtual 4/20 celebrations. 

Would you like to become a sponsor of our weekly Leaflet? Email me for more information.

Be sure to join us at a CannaGather in your city, where we continue to network and explore the latest progress in our communities as the CannaGather Digitalreach of cannabis increases. 

Know someone who is just as cannacurious as you are? Be sure to share this newsletter to keep them in the loop!

// CannaGather Calendar

April 9 // CannaGather Digital // The Evolution of Cannabis Advocacy 

COVID-19 is a dangerous, deadly pandemic that enjoys exponential growth through the interaction of nodes in a social network.

As such, we have cancelled all in-person CannaGathers through 4/21 and are exploring digital alternatives. 

The CDC’s guideline is that this will continue through mid-May and we hope to recommence in-person CannaGathers thereafter.

// Entrepreneurship

Virtual 4/20 Celebrations

Cannabis businesses with big 4/20 plans must shift gears. Parties planned around the cannabis holiday throughout April are off the table, and many companies have opted for virtual gatherings. Marijuana Business Daily outlines the ways some entrepreneurs plan to celebrate 4/20 this year:

  • Virtual parties and concerts.
  • Giveaways of cannabis accessories and swag.
  • Discounts on products, such as companies offering a coin for a large purchase now and special deals for the rest of the year.
  • Using social media influencers to spread their message on Instagram and Facebook.

Many businesses out there had spent large sums to lock in 4/20 parties and concerts, and could stand to lose deposits from canceled events. For example, The Bakeréé, a Seattle-based recreational and medical marijuana retailer, initially spent $20,000 on a holiday concert, but were forced to scrap the event for a virtual celebration. The shop’s managing partner says that they are “shifting to a daily value-oriented proposition for [their] customers via digital advertising” and that “85% of [their] consumers are [ordering] off their mobile devices.” The Bakeréé is using a data-driven advertising agency to target mobile users and create a digital marketing campaign that urges consumers to order online and pick up products curbside.

What this means and why you care: In the face of this global pandemic, socially responsible entrepreneurs need to come up with alternatives for their businesses. But if cannabis companies can capitalize on a changed market, their decisions now can lead to significant growth in the long term.

// Finance

Illinois Market Stays Strong

Sales by recreational cannabis shops in Illinois were close to $36 million in March, even as the COVID-19 pandemic caused national economic damage. 812,000,000 products were sold, with $27 million coming from in-state buyers and $8.8 coming from out-of-state. This marks three straight months of consistent profit for Illinois (they kicked off sales in January with $40 million and raked in $35 million in February). A notable portion of taxes collected from these cannabis sales are slated to be used for social equity and restorative justice programs.

The state deemed dispensaries and cultivation facilities as essential services, although recreational products are unable to be delivered via curbside pickup. Medical marijuana products will continue to be available to patients by curbside pickup through the end of April. Massachusetts, on the other hand, shut down all recreational shops, saying that it could encourage non-residents to travel into the state for purchases, further spreading COVID-19.

What this means and why you care: As the global economy takes a hit due to the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses in the cannabis industry must deal with the repercussions. The March results from the Illinois recreational market represent a positive sign for the industry, and the state’s governmental policies and business decisions can be used as an example for how to navigate in this new climate.

// Legal

Federal Loan Programs

Eleven senators are formally requesting that cannabis businesses get access to federal loan services in an upcoming annual spending bill. The group sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee, asking them to “include report language prohibiting the Small Business Administration (SBA) from denying loan applications” to cannabis firms. SBA policy currently prohibits participation in legal marijuana programs that “aid the use, growth, enhancement, or other development of cannabis.”

The group of senators write that the SBA’s loan programs “provide financial assistance in the form of loans and loan guarantees to small businesses who cannot easily access capital, which disproportionally impacts minority entrepreneurs,” and that cannabusinesses should be able to access the Loan Guarantee Program, Disaster Assistance Program, and Microloan Program. The letter also notes that “most banks are reluctant to serve cannabis businesses due to conflicts with federal law, meaning that these businesses often are forced to operate using purely cash, creating an unsafe operation.”

The letter was led by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and signed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

What this means and why you care: Recently, advocates have stepped up in their push to include provisions for cannabis businesses in COVID-19 relief legislation. Many industry trade groups have also urged Congress to allow these businesses to receive the same relief as other markets.

// Medicine, Science, & Technology

Epidiolex No Longer a Controlled Substance

The Drug Enforement Agency (DEA) has removed the CBD prescription drug from Schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act. Cannabis-derived Epidiolex was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals and is used to treat epilepsy. Individuals will be able to more easily obtain the CBD medication, as GW will “begin the process of implementing these changes at the state level and through the EPIDIOLEX distribution network.” GW’s CEO said that the descheduling “has the potential to further ease patient access to this important therapy for patients living with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two of the most debilitating forms of epilepsy.”

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex. The DEA then listed it as a Schedule V substance (unlike marijuana, which is listed as Schedule I). The FDA stated that the CBD medication had health benefits with minimal risks and shouldn’t be controlled at all, but the DEA said that the listing was warranted by “international treaty obligations.” The World Health Organization last year clarified that CBD with less than .02% THC is “no longer under international control,” which opened the door for the DEA’s descheduling.

What this means and why you care: Individuals who suffer from epilepsy will more easily be able to obtain Epidiolex. This is an important step forward for patients, doctors, and for the medical cannabis industry as a whole.

// Community

CannaGather Digital

Last Thursday, we hosted our second live CannaGather Digital to bring together industry thought leaders and discuss current events in the green business during the COVID-19 epidemic.

The online event featured Bruce Linton (Executive Chair of Vireo Health and former Canopy Growth CEO), Aaron Smith (NCIA Co-Founder & Executive Director), and Christine De La Rosa (Co-Founder & CEO, The People’s Dispensary).

Would you like to become a sponsor of our weekly Leaflet? Email me for more information.

If you’d like to speak at, sponsor, or otherwise collaborate on a future CannaGather Digital, email Rico Lamitte.

Do you want to join the CannaGather team in another capacity? We would love to have you on board as we grow! Email CannaGather founder Josh Weinstein for more information.

Written by Justin Bernstein

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