July 29 2022,
THE BIG IDEA
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In the newsletter:
- Key Takeaways from that Weedmaps story
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WHAT YOU MISSED IN WEEDWEEK CALIFORNIA PRO
Black-owned businesses feel the squeeze
In June, the chair of Oakland’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission sounded the alarm: California’s social equity businesses couldn’t survive in the current business climate. Amid heavy taxes and competition with the illegal market, Chaney Turner told lawmakers in Sacramento, “Only large operators with expendable capital can afford to operate ‘in the red’ long enough for many of their competitors to fail.”
“Why are Black & Brown cannabis equity retailers being ignored?” Turner asked. As Turner noted, two recent relief efforts had overlooked the urban dispensaries and delivery services which comprise most minority-owned cannabis…
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Weedmaps allows “vast black market activity": report
John Schroyer had a big scoop over at MJBiz: Weedmaps is carrying listings for unlicensed shops and products in California, according to complaints filed with federal and state regulators.
- MJBiz was able to confirm some of the advertisers violating state law or Weedmaps policies including failing to display license numbers, displaying incorrect license numbers or displaying illegal operating hours.
Executives at licensed Los Angeles operator Canex Delivery filed the complaints after Weedmaps was mostly unresponsive to their outreach.
- In the early days of California’s REC market, Weedmaps, which functions like a Yelp for dispensaries, infuriated legal operators by continuing to accept advertising fees, which can be well into the tens of thousands a month, from unlicensed shops.
- It took steps to remove those advertisers in 2020, but its parent company has since gone public on the NASDAQ, heightening the associated risk.
- A Weedmaps spokesperson declined to comment directly on the allegations, but said it had not received notice from regulators.
Weedmaps has said it has a “trust and safety team” but the executives who filed the complaint aren’t convinced it exists.
- The filings further allege some dispensaries have been renting their licenses to give unlicensed operators “the appearance of legitimacy on Weedmaps.”
WM Technology generated revenue of $57.5 million in its first quarter ended March 31, a 40% increase over revenue of $41.2 million for the same period in 2021.
- While Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s legalization bill has little chance to pass the Senate, Sen. Cory Booker, who has worked on the issue with Schumer, may be warming to bank reform. He has opposed it for fear it would benefit big companies without providing equity benefits.
- The federal National Labor Relations Board is getting complaints about MSOs resistance to employees unionizing, including Verano and Curaleaf.
- Time put Brittney Griner on the cover, as the U.S. reportedly offered a prisoner exchange for arms dealer Viktor Bout and another American in Russian custody. Her saga has prompted more calls for reforms of U.S. drug laws.
CNN, Washington Post
- MSO Trulieve is trying to move a former employee’s disability discrimination lawsuit from Florida to federal court.
- Leafly will start sharing some of its data with accredited researchers. The company has repeatedly declined to defend the credibility of its strain data to me.
- Harborside officially changed its name to StateHouse Holdings, a nod to its pioneering history. (I recently wrote about their vertical-integration strategy.) The company also said it had agreed with the IRS to settle its 280E tax bill, the focus of a multi-year unsuccessful legal battle by the company against the federal government. The $22.1M bill will be resolved for $5.8M.
- Dario Sabaghi explains the alleged JuicyFields ponzi scheme. JuicyFields claimed to be a cannabis crowdfunding platform with 500,000 users in Europe and Latin America. The site has posted various allegations.
- Security Magazine took a look at the industry’s concerns.
- Lindsey Bartlett writes that the industry “must reckon with its internalized misogyny.“
- Lighter fare from Bartlett: She went on a Weed-tubing adventure at Sol Spirit Retreats in Trinity County Calif. Here’s her Tik-Tok. And here’s Lindsay MaHarry’s dueling Instagram from the trip.
State and local:
- A push in Missouri to get REC on the November ballot is coming down to the wire.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Illinois issued 149 equity dispensary licenses.
- Cartoonist Brian “Box” Brown talked legalization with an aide to Pennsylvania Senate Candidate John Fetterman (D), a strong legalization supporter.
- Far-right Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano called legalizing “a stupid idea.“
- There are supply concerns in New Jersey as Michigan prices plunge.
MJBiz, Bridge MI
Health and Science:
- A high profile study found potent cannabis is “creating addicts worldwide.” Pro-cannabis physician Dr. Peter Grinspoon called it a “silly study” and “fear-mongering.”
- Eaze / Green Dragon secured a $15M CAPEX lease facility to fuel expansion in Colorado and Florida.
- Cookies has partnered with MSO TerrAscend to open its first Cookies Corner “immersive experience” in the latter’s New Jersey Apothecarium shops.
- SPAC Choice Consolidation Corp., founded by Cresco Labs founder Joseph Caltabiano, announced it was winding down without making an investment.
- Boston Red Sox great David Ortiz has a new cannabis line, “Papi,” available in Massachusetts.
- Ice-T and his Playboy Playmate partner Charis Burrett got the sign off for to open a shop in Jersey City, N.J.
- Curaleaf Launched a Plant Precision line targeting various ailments.
- Planet 13 received a conditional license to open a megastore in the Chicago area.
- Adelia Carrillo celebrated Blunt Brunch‘s first LA event.
- Amber Littlejohn stepped down as the head of the Minority Cannabis Business Association to pursue other opportunities in the industry.
- Product decontamination company player Willow Industries named Scott Daly Chief Commercial Officer.
- Pacific Stone has partnered with Weed + Grub on the Pacific Stone Comedy Tour, an invite only event for budtenders. It kicked off this week in LA and is coming to Santa Barbara and NorCal in October.