Update: The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate-approved version of the Farm Bill late in the afternoon on Dec. 12. President Donald Trump signed it into law on Dec. 20.
WASHINGTON -- In devising the latest version of the Farm Bill, U.S. senators took another step toward making hemp—a nonpsychoactive relative of cannabis—legal as an industrial crop, while at the same time, keeping intact food-stamp programs that 40 million American families rely on, according to the The Washington Post.
On Dec. 11, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who openly supports the hemp-legalization measure, said the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or Farm Bill, would include a measure to take hemp off the federal list of controlled substances, allowing for the industrial farming of the cannabis-related plant. The Senate voted unanimously to pass its latest version of the measure by a vote of 87-13, according to NACS, Alexandria, Va., saying that the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the updated measure this week.
The $900 billion Farm Bill would also give states the opportunity to regulate hemp production, allow hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and make hemp eligible for crop insurance, according to the Post, which cited information from McConnell’s office.
Despite pressure from conservative lawmakers, the latest version of the bill does not alter the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In one version of the bill, congressional Republicans would have forced states to impose work requirements on recipients between the ages of 49 to 59, as well as impose work requirements on parents with children ages 6 to 12, among other changes, the Post reported.
More than 119,000 c-stores accept SNAP benefits, NACS said.
LAS VEGAS -- Cannabis is big business. How big? This is the seventh year of MJBizCon, a conference and trade show about all things cannabis, and the Las Vegas Convention Center was packed Nov. 14-16 with 26,000 attendees from every state and more than a dozen countries. More than 1,000 exhibitors showed everything from mold inhibitors for growers to flavor and color additives for products produced by others.
There was shiny equipment for extracting and infusing, grow pods, all types of grow lights, misters and air circulators, and packaging companies to neatly wrap and market the end products.
This is mainstream—and clearly lucrative.
Here are five things we learned from the show …
After approving recreational marijuana in this month’s midterm elections, Michigan is poised to become the second largest recreational market after California, with $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion in sales. It will surpass Colorado. As the first Midwest state to legalize marijuana, it likely will lead the way for others, said Chris Walsh, vice president and founding editor of Marijuana Business Daily. Illinois, for example, elected a new governor who supports legalizing marijuana. Also, three states approved medical marijuana: Oklahoma, Missouri and Utah. Combined, they represent about $450,000 in sales in the coming year.
Multistate cannabis operators are aggressively expanding as more capital is being invested in marijuana, hemp production soars and mergers and acquisitions are on the rise. As a result, the growth of recreational sales in Colorado and Washington is decreasing as more states make marijuana legal, but it is still respectable at 5% to 15% annual growth, Walsh said.
What started as a small cottage industry is quickly reaching large companies and investors—think major tobacco and beverage companies—seeking to get into the business early. Witness the $4 billion investment in cannabis by Constellation Brands.
While opportunity abounds for brick-and-mortar retail of cannabis and related products, sales today are largely transacted online. This includes CBD (cannabidiol) products (made from a derivative of cannabis that doesn’t contain any psychoactive ingredients such as THC that makes a user high), which is legal in all 50 states. Source CBD, a producer of tinctures, salves and infused honey for humans, dogs and horses, sells much of its inventory online, but also has a presence in a Phoenix health-store outlet called Healthy Habits, where its 500-milligram CBD oil is the No. 1 selling SKU. Nancy Zangari, regional sales manager, said health stores are a favored outlet in California, while dispensaries are most common in Colorado. “Convenience stores would be ideal, but there is still a fear of more lax adherence to age restrictions,” she said.
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