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October 5 2023,
THE BIG IDEA
Over the years I’ve learned that big news doesn’t always break at a convenient time. Going forward, you can expect the newsletter with the weekly national and California round ups to land every Friday morning, and to be alerted of new exclusives stories when they’re published.
In today’s newsletter:
- Commercial bribery suit highlights “endemic issue” in AZ
And so much more,
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Trulieve's allegations highlight "commercial bribery" in AZ
Green Market Report‘s John Schroyer dug into an Arizona lawsuit filed by MSO Trulieve against former employees, alleging they accepted bribes from brands in exchange for shelf space. Payments include trips, Rolex watches, hot concert tickets and sometimes plain old cash.
Large MSOs control about half the dispensaries in AZ, and since they all have in-house products they have little incentive to offer shelf space to state’s 300+ smaller, independent brands. Instead the large operators tend to swap shelf space with each other.
“One independent Arizona brand operator who requested anonymity so as not to damage business relations said the market is “ripe for bad practices,” and that the pay-to-play trend began about three years ago, primarily in connection with MSO-run dispensaries.
“When you have a monopoly, you can do whatever you want,” the operator said.
- With the House of Representatives in disarray, top Capitol Hill aides are skeptical about SAFER banking’s passage this year. Also, in Marijuana Moment, lawyer Matthew Zorn is suing the Feds for the Biden administration’s rescheduling letter and activist Shaleen Title and journalist Bruce Barcott editorialize for legislation that gives small businesses a chance.
- The Supreme Court declined to revisit an 18-year old precedent on pot policy.
- Sales picked up in July and August, per BDSA.
New Cannabis Ventures
- A partnership between Bennabis Health can CannaCoverage is offering the “first group health coverage” that includes MED for employees.
- Colleagues of Lorna McMurrey, the 27 year old Massachusetts Trulieve worker who collapsed on her shift and then died at a hospital, were aware of her respiratory problems but could not help her.
- High Times and its board chair Adam Levin paid more than $600,000 to the SEC to settle securities fraud allegations. They did not admit any wrongdoing.
- MSO Green Thumb Industries named Richard Reisin and Hannah Ross to its board.
- Trulieve president Steve White, who led Harvest before the MSO acquired it, is stepping down.
State and local:
- Florida’s Supreme Court will hear oral arguments November 8 over the proposed 2024 REC ballot initiative supported by MSO Trulieve. State AG Ashley Moody (R) opposes it.
News service of Florida
- Prohibition isn’t going well in South Carolina, according to state senator Tom Davis (R).
- New York greatly expanded the number of licenses available to the public.
Crain’s New York Business
- Boston Biz Journal produced a report on the 10 largest potcos in Massachusetts.
- In Wyoming, a mix-up could cause two initiatives to miss the ballot.
Health and science:
- A study found legalization didn’t result in increased use or adverse consequences for high risk youth in Canada.
- I wrote about it becoming slightly easier for pets to access MED for the Veterinary Information Network.
- Is Sherbinskis trying to grow weed in space?
- Kenneth Morrow of Trichome Technologies told the story of his 1993 cannabis arrest.
Cannabis Business Times
- The German Federal Council (Bundesrat) issued its first statement on the planned legalization law.
Dentons (Law firm)
- Journalist Michelle Lhooq checked out a psychedelics dispensary in Vancouver.
- Antonio “Tony” Valdez, founding executive director of the National Hispanic Cannabis Council died in late September. His family has created a GoFundMe.
- High Times editor Ellen Holland has a new book: Weed: A connoisseur’s guide to cannabis.
Fun and interesting:
- Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill to let doctors prescribe psilocybin and MDMA if they’re rescheduled and a separate bill tweaking cannabis testing rules. Several more industry related bills remain on his desk. Some in the industry want him to veto AB 1207 which would block the use of people and images of people in cannabiz marketing.
Marijuana Moment, SFGate
- East Bay Express asks if California will tax legal weed out of existence.
- Forbes profiled Connected sister brand Alien Labs, the top shelf brand for “outliers, skaters and weirdos.“
- In an interview, Cookies CEO Berner said Dr. Dre humbly declined his invitation to join the industry. Berner also said his first feature film, Splash City, is now in production.
Hip Hop DX, @berner415
- Humboldt supes discussed future options for issuing licenses, and Measure A, the March 2024 ballot initiative, which growers fear will wipe them out. They also reinstated the local cultivation tax at 10%.
Times-Standard, Lost Coast Outpost
- State law is forcing San Marcos and other coastal cities in northern San Diego Co. to open up to retail. Escondido will survey residents about retail.
The Coast News
- Vista (San Diego Co.) will host an October 17 meeting on developing an equity program.
- A judge ruled against an unsuccessful applicant who alleged the licensing process in El Monte (LA Co.) was unfair.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
- Kym Kemp tells the story of Chris Giauque, an activist entrepreneur who went missing.
- Das Williams, the Santa Barbara Co. supe who some locals have criticized for being too cozy with the industry, has drawn a primary challenge.
- In an Oakland warehouse raid, state authorities seized $37M in unlicensed plants and product, one of the biggest busts of the year.
- The Artist Tree opened a shop in El Sobrante (Contra Costa Co.), its seventh in California.
Cannabis Business Times
- Elite Cannabis Group is reorganizing as a acquisition oriented company targetting distressed assets.
- Vertical operator StateHouse Holdings entered into a partnership with Stinson Brands, a mangement company that holds IP for food and beverage brands.
- Unrivaled Brands plans to revive legacy brand Korova. The brand’s co-founder Joe Gerlach, Unrivaled’s Chief Cannabis Officer, will lead the charge with Hanna Gruntz heading up sales.
- A Cookies is coming to Albuquerque in November.
- Chasen Landry, known for cracking jokes online about deadbeat accounts, is now SoCal Sales Director for Pabst Labs.