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California Cannabis Licensing Authorities Unveil New Unified License Search Tool

The new platform provides an easy way to search through the state’s thousands of cannabis business licenses.

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – PRESS RELEASE – California’s three cannabis licensing authorities – BCC, CDFA and CDPH announced today the launch of a unified licensing search platform, the culmination of a collaboration between the California Department of Technology, the California Health and Human Services Agency Office of Innovation, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), and the licensing authorities.

The unified license search tool allows the public to search for cannabis license information from all three licensing authorities by using one search tool. The need for a unified search was identified through conversations with, and surveys of, licensed businesses, local governments, and law enforcement conducted in late 2019 and early 2020. 

“This unified license data search tool will make it easier for the public to access cannabis license information without having to inquire with each licensing authority separately,” Bureau Chief Lori Ajax said. “This will also help consumers identify licensed cannabis retailers near them.”

Some features of the new license search include an interactive map and geolocation tools. There is also a survey where users can submit usability feedback to the licensing authorities as they continue to refine the search tool. The unified license search tool can be accessed at https://search.cannabis.ca.gov/.

The unified license search will be updated every 24 hours; however, the most recent data will still be available through each licensing authority’s existing search tool on its website.

In January 2020, Gov. Newsom announced plans to consolidate the three cannabis licensing authorities into a single Department of Cannabis Control, in an effort to improve access to licensing and simplify regulatory oversight of commercial cannabis activity. Today’s announcement is part of that overall plan.

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Colorado marijuana sales blow past $200 million in July

Colorado cannabis sales set a record yet again in July, eclipsing $200 million in a single month for the first time.

Dispensaries sold $183,106,003 in recreational marijuana and $43,268,565 in medical marijuana in July, for a combined $226,374,568 in revenue, according to data from the Colorado Department of Revenue. That’s up 13.8% from June, another record-setting month when the industry raked in nearly $199 million.

So far in 2020, consumers have purchased more than $1.2 billion worth of cannabis products and the state has collected $203 million in taxes.

Colorado’s cannabis industry is poised to shatter 2019’s record of $1.75 billion in annual sales, especially since August is typically the state’s highest-grossing month. Those figures are due out in early October.

Marijuana sales have soared to new heights since spring despite the coronavirus pandemic. Dispensaries were allowed to remain open during Colorado’s statewide stay-at-home order, which forced them to adapt to new buying habits such as online ordering. In August, a contactless weed vending machine debuted in Pueblo.

An early freeze and snow in September may have jeopardized millions of dollars worth of marijuana grown outdoors and slated for harvest in October. That may also affect flower and extract prices this fall.

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US House said to delay marijuana legalization vote until after election

A bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and thereby legalize the plant federally won’t be voted on by the U.S. House next week or before the Nov. 3 election.

“House Dems have punted a vote on a marijuana legalization bill to the lame duck (session),” tweeted Sarah Ferris, a congressional reporter for Politico.

She wrote that “many moderates were furious that the House would vote on weed before taking up a COVID bill, though other Dems called it a social justice imperative.”

According to Politico, Congress will return after the election for a lame duck session, and lawmakers and aides have said a vote will occur on the legislation then.

In a statement, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer confirmed such a timetable, saying: “The MORE Act remains a critical component of House Democrats’ plan for addressing systemic racism and advancing criminal justice reform, and we are committed to bringing it to the Floor for a vote before the end of the year.

“Right now, the House is focused relentlessly on securing agreement to stave off a damaging government shutdown and continuing to do its job addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The MORE Act is a comprehensive measure that would have massive business implications. It also seeks to address social justice issues.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the MORE Act in a historic vote last November. But passage by the full House would be a milestone for marijuana reform.

Industry insiders said House passage of the bill would set the stage for a similar measure to pass the Senate as soon as next year – if the Senate flips to Democrats in November.

As of Thursday, the MORE Act had 111 co-sponsors in the House, up from 87 since Hoyer’s email in late August, but still just one Republican, Matt Gaetz of Florida.

The measure calls for a 5% federal tax on marijuana products that would be directed to programs that would benefit individuals and communities most impacted by the war on drugs.

Republican leadership had criticized the move to vote on the legislation as soon as it was announced in late August.

Michele Perez Exner, communications director for House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, especially was sharp in a tweet: “In the midst of a pandemic associated with a respiratory tract infection, this is what Dem leaders have decided to make their priority.”

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Marijuana vape firms say one year after vaping crisis, customers turning to legal suppliers over illicit market

A year after the vaping health crisis upended the cannabis industry, marijuana vape companies report that sales have rebounded as consumers grasp the danger of consuming illicit-market vaporizers and switch to legal suppliers.

Arnaud Dumas de Rauly, co-founder and CEO of New York-based vape manufacturer The Blinc Group, sees this as the biggest impact of the vaping health scare.

“It made consumers realize that you can’t just buy any cannabis vaping product,” he said. “You can’t go to the black market.”

The outbreak of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dubbed e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) in the summer of 2019 slowed the growth of some companies and stifled sales toward the end of the year.

But vape products, like other cannabis goods, seem to also be weathering not only the health crisis but the current economic downturn.

“We’ve seen tremendous bounce back from the vape crisis,” said Sammy Dorf, chief growth officer and co-founder of Verano Holdings, a vertically integrated cannabis company in Chicago. “Business is extremely strong.”

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t slowed business much, either, according to the vape companies, despite fresh warnings that vaping and smoking can make a person more vulnerable to the virus.

“We haven’t seen a change in the purchasing pattern of our patients or customers due to the pandemic,” Dorf added.

How it played out

The vape health crisis unfolded rapidly, beginning in the summer of 2019 with mainstream media reports seizing on the news that people were dying from allegedly vaping mainly THC products.

Some states with regulated cannabis markets such as Washington temporarily banned additives in vapes, while others, including Massachusetts, banned the sale of vape products altogether.

It took a few months for more information about the illness to surface.

Scientists identified one substance, vitamin E acetate, which is added as a cutting agent to some vape oil, as a possible culprit in the lung illness.

Many industry officials claimed that vitamin E was more commonly found in illicit market products and pointed out that legal cannabis is regulated, tested and safer than unregulated street products.

Most recently, an academic study published in August confirmed that states lacking licensed, regulated cannabis saw the highest rates of EVALI, particularly those in the northern Midwest. (See chart above.)

The report, from the Society for the Study of Addiction, noted “these results suggest that EVALI cases did not arise from e-cigarette or cannabis use per se, but rather from locally distributed e-liquids or additives most prevalent in the affected areas.”

“We believe the bigger lesson here is that the data clearly indicate that there were fewer cases of lung illnesses and injury in states where legal, regulated cannabis products were available,” said Steve Fox, strategic adviser to the Cannabis Trade Federation.

“In fact, the lowest rates of incidence were in Colorado, Washington and Alaska – three of the first four legal states – with Oregon and Nevada close behind.”

‘Very scary’

According to Seattle data-analytics company Headset, sales of adult-use vape products in three of four states with recreational markets generally have recovered, though Nevada retailers saw sales still lower than pre-health scare levels after the state enacted stricter lockdown measures for marijuana retailers during the pandemic.However, market share for vape pens is lower year-over-year, according to the Marijuana Business Factbook, as flower tends to represent a more economical choice amid COVID-19 and greater economic concerns.

Several cannabis vape business executives interviewed for this story said sales have completely rebounded.

George Sadler, president of San Diego-based Platinum Vape, which sells products into several markets, said sales plateaued right after the initial scare but started trending upward in the early winter.

“We never really saw much of anything on the level of decline that we thought,” Sadler said.

Dumas de Rauly said his sales started to recover in December as consumer confidence in the legal market returned.

“We have doubled our revenue in terms of vaping hardware since the vaping crisis,” Dumas de Rauly said.

But he added that his business likely lost a year of growth because of the earlier drop in sales.

In Denver, Dan Gardenswartz, chief operating officer at Spherex, said his company’s sales never took a “meaningful hit,” but the end of 2019 was “a little bit of a roller coaster.”

“It was a very strange time,” he said. “The vape crisis was a very scary thing for people in the industry.”

Seth Wiggins, chief revenue officer for Clear Cannabis, also in Denver, saw a decline in sales for about 60-90 days before the trend began to reverse.

The health crisis “was very painful initially,” he added.

However, Wiggins said his company has posted record sales in recent months.

Illicit to licit

Wiggins attributes that lift in sales to customers who are shifting from illicit suppliers to legal providers.

“The compliant market allows for more regulations and safety,” he added. “It’s breaching the tipping point where the cost basis is not worth the risk” to buy off the street.

Morgan Fox, spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association, also identified that trend.

“Across the board, we’ve seen a lot of people moving away from the unregulated market largely because of public-health concerns,” he said.

Gardenswartz said he saw more people transition from the illicit to the legal market in California than in Colorado, which has imposed tighter controls on illegal dispensaries peddling products.

Sadler agreed. He believes there has been some decline in vape sales on the unlicensed market, and he noted that some of his consumers have made the shift from the illicit market to licensed businesses.

He cited Weedmaps’ decision to curtail advertising for unlicensed dispensaries as helping consumers find legal, tested vape products.

Consumers are more aware that they’re going to a licensed dispensary, and stores in California have even displayed QR codes on storefronts so customers know they’re buying from a legal shop.

“People are more diligent about asking the questions,” he said.

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Cresco Labs Bolsters Leadership Team With Three Senior Promotions

David Gacom, Melissa Wagamon and Sean McAlister, who move into Regional President roles, will lead the business across the platform while strengthening the company’s geographic footprint

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Cresco Labs (CSE:CL) (OTCQX:CRLBF) (“Cresco” or “the Company”), one of the largest vertically integrated multistate cannabis operators in the United States, announced today it has expanded its leadership team with the promotions of David Gacom, Melissa Wagamon and Sean McAlister to regionally focused president positions. These dynamic individuals, who bring a depth of experience in operations, marketing and sales through previous leadership roles at top CPG companies like MillerCoors, PepsiCo and The Kraft Heinz Company, will be focused on accelerating growth across the Company’s geographic footprint. As the organization continues to scale, they will be accountable for driving the Company’s strategic agenda across its nine states, delivering top-line growth and finding new ways to drive cost synergies in regional operations. In addition, these individuals will serve as the face of Cresco Labs amongst key state and local community leaders to ensure the Company is investing in what matters most to its stakeholders.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200917005307/en/Cresco Labs promotes David Gacom, Melissa Wagamon and Sean McAlister to Regional President positions. (Photo: Business Wire)

Cresco Labs promotes David Gacom, Melissa Wagamon and Sean McAlister to Regional President positions. (Photo: Business Wire)

“Coming off of a record-setting second quarter of growth and seeing the massive growth potential across all of our markets, we are excited to have these exceptionally talented individuals help lead our efforts at a regional level and identify opportunities to further accelerate and diversify our growth,” said Charlie Bachtell, CEO & Co-founder of Cresco Labs. “In continuation of our stated organizational redesign developed to drive growth and scalable operations across the platform, we continue to enhance and strengthen our leadership team and put the right people, with the right experience, in the right roles to drive results and long-term value for our stakeholders. David, Melissa and Sean have the knowledge, skills and expertise to be our leaders on the ground in markets, constantly focusing on operational execution, creating efficiencies, solving the needs of our customers and launching our brands in markets the right way.”

  • David Gacom has been appointed Regional President, West Region (California and Arizona). His leadership of the California market to date resulted in 41% sequential growth in Q2 and Cresco Labs taking market share in the largest, most competitive cannabis market in the world. Mr. Gacom brings more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles across B2B and B2C channels to the Company, serving most recently as the Chief Commercial & Optimization Officer of Grecian Delight Foods after 13 years in various management positions at The Kraft Heinz Company.
  • Melissa Wagamon has been promoted from VP of Brand Marketing to Regional President, Great Lakes (Illinois and Michigan). Mrs. Wagamon previously managed the development of Cresco Labs’ wholesale brands, including Cresco, Remedi, Mindy’s, High Supply, Reserve and Good News. She joined Cresco Labs from MillerCoors where she oversaw the retail and recruitment strategy for the Coors Light brand and communications strategy as Director for the Miller Lite brand. She also worked in various marketing roles at The Kraft Heinz Company and PepsiCo and started her career in territory sales with Pfizer Inc.
  • Sean McAlister has been promoted from EVP Sales to Regional President of Sales, Emerging Markets (Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland) and National Accounts. With the Company for over four years, Mr. McAlister has led the wholesale sales organization with a proven track record of success, getting Cresco Labs’ House of Brands into over 800 dispensaries across nine states and overseeing $55M in wholesale revenue in Q2—making Cresco Labs the largest wholesaler of branded products in the cannabis industry. Mr. McAlister previously led sales for global gaming technology producer and operator, Novomatic Americas.

Greg Butler, Chief Commercial Officer at Cresco Labs, added, “These individuals were added to our leadership team based on their knowledge of the cannabis industry, their ability to bring a best-in-class CPG experience to our P&L management and proven ability to develop and lead teams. Looking ahead at our industry, we see many opportunities emerging from both a wholesale and retail perspective. Having regional leaders will not only help us ensure that we create a scalable foundation from which to capture every opportunity within our markets, but also help us drive a superior capital agenda across our footprint. They all have a history of success—both in terms of building brands, developing strategic plans and providing leadership to our teams—and they are people you generally enjoy working with.”

Effective immediately, Mrs. Wagamon and Mr. McAlister will be based in Illinois and Mr. Gacom will reside in California.

About Cresco Labs:

Cresco Labs is one of the largest vertically-integrated multi-state cannabis operators in the U.S. Cresco is built to become the most important company in the cannabis industry by combining the most strategic geographic footprint with one of the leading distribution platforms in North America. Employing a consumer-packaged goods (“CPG”) approach to cannabis, Cresco’s house of brands is designed to meet the needs of all consumer segments and includes some of the most recognized and trusted national brands including Cresco, Remedi, High Supply, Reserve, Good News and Mindy’s Chef Led Artisanal Edibles created by James Beard Award-winning chef Mindy Segal. Sunnyside, Cresco’s national dispensary brand, is a wellness-focused retailer designed to build trust, education and convenience for both existing and new cannabis consumers. Recognizing that the cannabis industry is poised to become one of the leading job creators in the country, Cresco provides the industry’s first national comprehensive Social Equity and Educational Development (SEED) program designed to ensure that all members of society have the skills, knowledge and opportunity to work in and own businesses in the cannabis industry. Learn more about Cresco Labs at www.crescolabs.com.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation and may also contain statements that may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking information and forward-looking statements are not representative of historical facts or information or current condition, but instead represent only the Company’s beliefs regarding future events, plans or objectives, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and outside of the Company’s control. Generally, such forward-looking information or forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as, ‘may,’ ‘will,’ ‘should,’ ‘could,’ ‘would,’ ‘expects,’ ‘plans,’ ‘anticipates,’ ‘believes,’ ‘estimates,’ ‘projects,’ ‘predicts,’ ‘potential’ or ‘continue’ or the negative of those forms or other comparable terms. The Company’s forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the Company’s actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including but not limited to those risks discussed under “Risk Factors” in the company’s CSE Listing Statement filed with SEDAR; and other factors, many of which are beyond the control of the Company. Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. Because of these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on the Company’s forward-looking statements. No assurances are given as to the future trading price or trading volumes of Cresco’s shares, nor as to the Company’s financial performance in future financial periods. The Company does not intend to update any of these factors or to publicly announce the result of any revisions to any of the Company’s forward-looking statements contained herein, whether as a result of new information, any future event or otherwise. Except as otherwise indicated, this press release speaks as of the date hereof. The distribution of this press release does not imply that there has been no change in the affairs of the Company after the date hereof or create any duty or commitment to update or supplement any information provided in this press release or otherwise.

Media: 
Jason Erkes, Cresco Labs 
Chief Communications Officer 
press@crescolabs.com

Investors: 
Aaron Miles 
Vice President, Investor Relations 
investors@crescolabs.com

For general Cresco Labs inquiries: 
312-929-0993 
info@crescolabs.com

Source: Cresco Labs

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How to choose a tracking system: Scaling your cannabis company beyond compliance

Many states with legalized medical or recreational cannabis require license holders to report product movement using a chosen reporting system. The most common include Metrc, BioTrackTHC and Leaf Data Systems.

Regardless of whether a state has a mandated reporting system, licensed operators are obligated to maintain detailed records of product tracking should the state initiate an audit.

Because of this, cannabis operators look to technology for help.

While companies do not have a choice in the reporting system a state requires, they do have a choice in the software system used internally to track, manage and account for cannabis products.

An internal tracking software system must be capable of not only helping operators achieve compliance, but also operate a healthy, profitable and scalable business.

How should cannabis companies go about choosing a tracking system?

There are at least three approaches to the challenge.

Ultimately your choice will depend on factors such as an organization’s size, budget and its plans for growth and expansion.

Start small with manual tracking

Many, if not most, cannabis startups begin operation with big visions and small budgets.

So, like small-business startups in any industry, cannabis startups often begin life with an entry-level accounting package such as QuickBooks and a series of spreadsheets to manage the data that doesn’t have a home in that package.

Operating this way requires companies to collate and hand-key the required data into their state’s reporting system.

While a manual tracking system such as this can help a company meet compliance mandates, it involves a tremendous amount of duplicate data entry to maintain and does not provide insight into valuable business data such as profitability by product, materials-requirement planning, customer profitability or inventory turns.

cannabis tracking software overview

Add in a seed-to-sale application

Another approach to managing compliance is to use a software system that is often referred to as seed-to-sale.

Seed-to-sale systems are narrowly designed with one goal in mind: to aid cannabis companies in achieving compliance in product tracking.

These applications typically do not offer broader accounting functionality so here, too, companies tack on an application such as QuickBooks.

One benefit of seed-to-sale applications is that most include a level of integration with a state’s reporting software that helps minimize the burden of duplicate data entry.

While seed-to-sale systems simplify compliance, their narrow focus can hamper the ability to adapt to the changing cannabis landscape, forcing companies to track parts of the business in separate systems, or even outside the software, which limits an organization’s ability to be innovative, efficient and nimble.

Moreover, with business data broken up in separate systems, the ability to gain deep insight into the overall operation is compromised.

Scale and grow with cannabis ERP

As companies grow and plan for expansion, acquisition or venture funding, they must critically evaluate their operations, looking for efficiencies in how they manage data.

While smaller companies can get by using multiple applications to hold data for various functional areas, larger and growth-minded companies will often turn to enterprise level systems, or ERP (enterprise resource planning).

While cannabis businesses are unique, in many ways they are no different than other regulated manufacturers that must track and trace their raw materials, lots and finished goods throughout the supply chain, making ERP applications a good fit.

However, “generic” ERP applications lack the cannabis-industry specific capabilities necessary to streamline a compliant and scalable operation.

In response, a new category of enterprise resource planning is emerging: cannabis ERP.

Cannabis ERP brings together all business data, including accounting functionality, products, lots, customers, vendors, raw materials and supplies in one application.

A single source of information enables cannabis operators to adhere to the rules, regulations, and statutes of your state, while also running a successful and compliant business (not simply a compliant one).

In addition, cannabis ERP applications are designed to integrate with state reporting applications.

With cannabis ERP, companies are able to automate manual tasks – freeing resources to focus on building their brand and maintaining quality standards.

Businesses gain access to decision-making data that helps to optimize inventory holdings and understand what and who is making the company money.

By delivering broad functionality, deep insight and traceable workflows, cannabis ERP applications provide a strong foundation that appeals to investors as well – if that’s part of a company’s game plan.

Scaling beyond compliance

Regardless of the state in which a company does business, compliance with product tracking rules is simply a baseline for legal operation.

Cannabis businesses must go beyond simple compliance, functioning both efficiently and effectively, or they will soon get left behind.

The choice of tracking technology will ultimately depend on a company’s goals and budget.

While there are multiple approaches to achieving compliance, a more comprehensive approach will ultimately yield the most flexibility and scalability, providing the agility so vital in this volatile industry.

Alex Glueckler is director of sales and strategy at Phoenix-based Silverware, where he is largely focused on their cannabis offering, Silver Leaf CBC. He can be reached at alex@silverw.com.

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The Future Of Dispensaries Means Contactless Marijuana Vending Machines For Colorado And Massachusetts

CANADA-HEALTH-DRUGS-MARIJUANA

TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Deborah Jones, Canada-health-drugs-marijuana Chuck Varabioff, Director of … [+] AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Move over potato chips and chocolate candy bars! The future of marijuana now offers Massachusetts and Colorado contactless marijuana vending machines.

The Boston based company, anna, first debuted at Strawberry Fields Dispensary in Pueblo, Colorado. CEO and Founder of anna, Matt Frost, describes the “tricked out vending machines” in an interview with the Knowoffering edibles, flowers, and vape all without much interaction.

“There are experienced cannabis customers who don’t necessarily need that one-on-one interaction with a budtender. They know what they want before they walk in, they’re ready to go in and out. By doing this, we’re giving more time back to the people who do need hand-holding and want that education from a live person,” Frost said. “With COVID and social distancing and contactless, definitely, we have an appeal there, as well.”

A background in data analytics, Frost created the system after recognizing the long wait times and some requirements of scheduled pick-ups at dispensaries and the fear of contracting Covid-19. “It’s about getting customers through faster with less contact,” Frost told Masslive.com.Recommended For You

Using anna is quite simple. The 8 square foot machine features over 2,000 products to cater to each customer’s requirement. Each customer can preorder on the anna app or check-in and select items; each machine takes cash or debit. After making selections, anna dispenses, and customers can choose, wholly contactless, and fast. The legal age and payment require approval from dispensary workers before processing.

The future of anna machines selling non-psychoactive cannabis products in a gas stations and retail stores will happen soon. Anna is not the first vending machine to help with seamless customer interaction, Zazz Machine was introduced in 2014 to check customer IDs at a dispensary in Avon, CO.

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Anna is set to debut in Massachusetts in September. Since the legalization of retail marijuana sales in November 2018, Massachusetts dispensaries have already made around 320 million dollars. While companies are excited about the idea, is it uncertain how it will affect the recent unionizations throughout the state.

In a statement by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW):

“The legal cannabis industry is a newly regulated market that can offer local communities jobs with strong wages and benefits that can’t be outsourced.”

As for the future of anna, Frost suggests this is only the beginning. “The partnership that we’re about to strike I have to keep under wraps for now, but [it’s] a very significant CBD distribution opportunity that we’re excited about,” in an interview with The Know

The next dispensary planned for anna vending machines is Starbuds in Aurora, Colorado, for later this year.

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California wildfires claim several marijuana farms, threatening growers with financial losses

The series of wildfires ravaging Northern California have inflicted major damage on several marijuana farms, with possibly more outdoor grow operations threatened in the region.

“There are a ton of farms that are located in the fire’s path. No one’s out of the woods yet. This is just starting,” said Keala Peterson, whose small, family-run cannabis operation, Sweet Creek Farms in Sonoma County, was damaged by the fires.

Peterson noted that many of the largest fire complexes were either not contained at all or only slightly contained by firefighters, a situation that exposes cannabis farmers to significant financial losses because the outdoor crops aren’t necessarily insured.

Peterson said Sweet Creek Farms lost about four-fifths of its marijuana crop to the fire on Wednesday but noted that firefighters were able to save part of her family compound.

“It looks like a wasteland,” she said. “Pretty much, it’s a total loss.”

Peterson said her cannabis crop isn’t insured, and she estimated her family will likely absorb about $150,000 in losses, perhaps more, if they aren’t able to salvage the unburned marijuana that has yet to fully flower.

“We’re guardedly optimistic that those (unburned marijuana plants) could come to term, but with smoke damage, if the bud has set enough, it’ll just be smoky marijuana, and nobody wants to smoke that,” Peterson said.

Still, she’s not too worried about the future of Sweet Creek because her family has a diversified income and doesn’t rely solely on cannabis.

The fires, many caused by lightning and sometimes pushed by strong winds, have burned hundreds of thousands of acres as they chewed through brushland, rural areas, canyon country and dense forest surrounding San Francisco. Fires also burned in the Sierra Nevada and Southern California wild lands.

Another Sonoma County cannabis farmer replied to a call for comment with a text message that said, “I’m evacuating. Sorry I can’t talk now.”

Santa Cruz operations threatened

To the south of San Francisco, in Santa Cruz County, longtime medical cannabis nonprofit WAMM Phytotherapies also likely lost a farm, said founder Valerie Corral. But she’s not even certain of the farm’s status because she had to evacuate Tuesday night.

“We just found out that probably everything burned” at WAMM’s farm in northern Santa Cruz County, she said, adding that a second farm, in southern Santa Cruz, was still untouched.

“It’s pretty awful here in Santa Cruz,” Corral said. “I have to be thankful that no one’s life has been lost.”

The WAMM farm was also uninsured, but Corral said she and her organization have been through worse and they’ll get back on their feet, one way or another.

Yet another series of fires in Yolo County, directly west of Sacramento, is threatening Preferred Gardens, said owner David Polley.

He said Thursday he’ll have to deal with smoke damage to at least 2,000 of his 12,000 plants, which he said might have to be destroyed.

What he’s worried about is the possibility of the winds shifting and that the fires might turn and begin heading south toward his farm.

“If this fire doesn’t get under wraps, then everything is going to go down,” Polley said. ” We’re just going to pray that doesn’t happen.”

If it does, Polley said, it could put his losses in the millions of dollars and potentially put him out of business.

But Polley, like others in the industry, remains stubbornly optimistic, and he pointed out that he’s been in the industry for 15 years.

“I’ve been through all different kinds of hell,” he said. “This is just another day.”

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Adult-use cannabis sales remain steady even as unemployment bonus ends

Though the U.S. government’s temporary lifeline to tens of millions of unemployed workers expired, sales of recreational marijuana products have proved resilient.

The $600-a-week unemployment benefit ended July 31, and Congress failed to pass an extension before leaving for its August vacation.

The weekly boost brought the disposable income of many recipients to near “normal” – in pre-pandemic terms. Without the stipend, many people might be struggling to meet basic needs, such as rent and food.

But in the two weeks since the benefits ended, sales of recreational marijuana in key markets remained stable, even posting a visible increase during the first week, according to data provided by Seattle-based Headset.

It’s difficult to assess why that would happen, according to Liz Connors, director of analytics for Headset, but “it is still very early after the expiration.”

“Consumer spending doesn’t often drastically shift overnight but, rather, gradually changes over a few months,” she said.

The case might also be made that cannabis is an “inferior” good – a product that experiences sales increases during negative economic cycles. Alcohol sales often follow this pattern.

With fewer outside-the-home entertainment options available, consumers might shift discretionary spending to activities that can be done at home, including ingesting marijuana.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called back the U.S. House of Representatives to address other issues, but some legislators are pushing to vote on a coronavirus relief package, which includes additional unemployment benefits.

Markets might also see a shift toward medical marijuana purchases, which are not subject to the same taxes as recreational, according to analysis from New York-based cannabis consultants Greenwave Advisors.

States that allow adult-use sales often see a slowing of MMJ purchases as consumers opt for the ease of not having to register with the state to obtain a medical card for purchases.

However, as household incomes shrink, that ease of access might not be enough to offset the additional cost.

Sales of medical marijuana in Colorado, for example, have increased more rapidly than adult-use sales since the beginning of 2020.

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Federal Judge Rules Portland, Maine, Cannot Prioritize Local Cannabis Businesses in Adult-Use Licensing

U.S. District Judge Nancy Torreson ruled Aug. 14 that Portland, Maine, cannot prioritize local cannabis businesses in its adult-use licensing process, according to a Bangor Daily News report.

Wellness Connection of Maine, which operates dispensaries in Portland, Brewer, South Portland and Gardiner, along with its Delaware-based investor, High Street Capital Partners, filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in June, alleging that Portland’s cannabis ordinance, which offers a residency bonus for license applicants who have lived in Maine for at least four years, is “unconstitutional” and “discriminatory” to non-local businesses.

Torreson sided with Wellness Connection in her decision, which determined that there was “sufficient threat” that Wellness Connection would be at a disadvantage when competing for adult-use dispensary licenses in Portland, Bangor Daily News reported.

Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy announced Aug. 14 that the state’s adult-use cannabis sales can launch Oct. 9, nearly four years after Maine voters approved legalization in 2016.