Top Cannabis Industry Stories for the Week of March 2-6, 2020

In this week’s issue, we recap the nine biggest cannabis industry news stories for the week of February 29 – March 6, 2020.

The top cannabis industry news this past week includes an update on CBD rules from the FDA, the launch of medical marijuana in Utah, a report showing marijuana smuggling is down, and more. Keep reading for this week’s biggest cannabis news in the United States and beyond.

FDA Issues Update on CBD Rules to Congress

Initially expected last fall, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent its overdue update on cannabidiol (CBD) rules to Congress on Thursday. The agency, tasked with establishing rules and regulations on the nation’s hemp CBD market, acknowledged that data on CBD was limited since “cannabis-derived CBD was a Schedule I controlled substance” prior to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and said it is still “evaluating” its policies on the issue. The FDA also said it will soon reopen the docket for public comments on how hemp-derived CBD should be regulated, but offered no timetable for action.

Medical Marijuana Sales Begin in Utah

Utah’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors Monday. Salt Lake City’s Dragonfly Wellness is the first state’s first operating dispensary, and 13 more will open later this year. Utah voters approved a medical marijuana measure in November 2018. State lawmakers then voted to replace the voter-approved plan with their own “compromise” version. Due to problems with the state’s new online medical marijuana portal, qualified patients can temporarily access dispensaries with a letter from their physician.

Out-of-State Residents Help Drive Marijuana Sales in Illinois

Illinois‘ Department of Financial and Professional Regulation on Wednesday announced that the state sold more than 831,000 cannabis products for nearly $35 million in the month of February. That’s a slight drop from the close to $40 million in sales in January. About $9.2 million of the February totals came from out-of-state residents. Five of the six states bordering Illinois — Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, and Indiana — do not allow adults to buy and use recreational marijuana.

New Push to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in Ohio

Cannabis activists in Ohio on Monday submitted summary language to state officials for a petition calling for recreational marijuana legalization. The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment initiative would allow adults to buy and possess up to 1-ounce of marijuana flower and up to 8 grams of concentrates, as well as grow up to three mature and three immature plants for personal use. The measure’s summary language must now be approved by the attorney general and then will move to a bipartisan panel headed up by the Secretary of State. Supporters would then need to collect at least 442,958 valid signatures by July 1 to place the initiative on the November ballot.

MLB Clarifies its Cannabis Rules

There were reports that a top official with Major League Baseball issued a new memo dated Feb. 19 to clarify that while marijuana has been removed from the league’s list of banned substances, players still cannot be sponsored by a cannabis company or invest in the cannabis industry. In addition, team doctors are not allowed to recommend medical marijuana to players. The league did say it was partnering with a product-testing organization to analyze the safety and quality of CBD products that teams would be able to store on club premises.

New Report Finds Demand for Smuggled Marijuana in the U.S. is Declining

New data collected by New Frontier Data shows that legal state marijuana markets have led to a drop in illegal smuggling operations. The amount of cannabis intercepted at all U.S. borders dropped from 2.5 million pounds in 2011 to roughly 270,000 pounds in 2019, a drop of 89 percent. The findings suggest that consumers are transitioning to legal markets.

Michigan Sells Nearly $32 Million in Marijuana in First Three Months

Michigan announced that recreational marijuana sales in the market’s first three months totaled $31,971,862, generating more than $5 million in tax revenue for the state. The first $20 million collected in the market’s first two years will go to medical marijuana research. The state also said it had issued an additional 111 recreational marijuana business licenses.

Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances in Mexico

On Tuesday, Mexican Senate committees approved a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana nationwide. The legislation may be discussed further by the panels, or go directly to the Senate floor. Once signed off on by the Senate, it will be passed on to the Chamber of Deputies. If implemented, adults aged 18 and older will be able to possess up to 28 grams and grow up to 20 registered plants for personal use.

Activists in Nebraska Collect Signatures for Medical Marijuana Petition

Nebraska cannabis activists hope to place a medical marijuana ballot initiative on the upcoming November ballot. Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, co-chaired by state Sen. Anna Wishart (D), are looking to collect between 160,000 and 180,000 signatures for the question by July. Wishard told KOLN that medical marijuana polls over 70 percent in Nebraska, but Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts actively opposes the campaign.

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