Cannabis Industry Highlights Summer 2019

Federal and state governments are exploring new pathways to regulate cannabis as consumer demand continues to grow. Although slow to adopt CBD and cannabis as a legitimate cash crop, consumer demand has skyrocketed and voters have voiced their opinion.

Politicians and legislators have taken note, and at least at the state level are now making moves to support the needs and wants of their constituents. A move that is both welcomed and embraced by companies such as Next Green Wave, Inc. (Next Green Wave, NGW:CSE | NXGWF:OTCQX) who are staged and ready to meet the growing demands of what is projected to be a $24 billion dollar market by the year 2023.

Select states taking steps to implement or expand the medical marijuana program

Utah is continuing to roll out its state-run medical marijuana program announcing the companies awarded grower permits earlier this month.

However, state officials are facing backlash from companies that were rejected for the state’s program, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The state awarded 8 licenses instead of 10 allowed by law. State officials defended their decision to reduce the number of awarded licenses claiming the potential threat of marijuana oversupply.

Six companies met the appeal deadline July 26, according to the director of the state’s Division of Purchasing. Many opponents to the state’s reduced license allowance say there’s “little to no evidence” that a surplus of marijuana has caused problems for other states. Appeals could delay the program from going into full effect early next year, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

New Jersey now accepting applications to expand its rapidly-growing medical marijuana program.

Companies interested in participating in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program can apply for a permit, according to Marijuana Business Daily. The state’s health department will issue up to 24 permits. Currently, there are 12 licensed companies and the state is looking to expand the number of growers, dispensaries and vertically-integrated licensed companies (a combination of both grower and dispensary.) The number of permits has been significantly reduced from the state’s initial decision to award up to 108 permits back in June. Licenses will be allocated by region, according to Marijuana Business Daily. Here’s how it works:

  • Northern Region: two cultivation, five dispensaries and one vertically integrated
  • Central Region: two cultivation, five dispensaries and one vertically integrated.
  • Southern Region: one cultivation, five dispensaries and one vertically integrated.
  • One at-large vertically integrated permit.

Application forms were posted July 15 and the deadline to apply is August 21 for dispensary permits and August 22 for all others, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

The Food and Drug Administration is still holding off on developing regulations for selling CBD products despite public pressure.

FDA’s Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy delivered a testimony July 25 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and said the agency’s approach to cannabis-derived products is to treat them the same way as any other product.

“FDA recognizes that three to five years is a long time to wait for regulatory clarity, particularly given the significant public interest in hemp products, and CBD in particular,” Abernethy said during the testimony. “That is why, as I discuss in greater detail later in my testimony, the Agency is exploring options to reach a resolution more quickly and efficiently.”

Since the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill late last year, the FDA has been pressured by the public and lawmakers to quickly develop a clear set of regulations around selling food and beverages containing CBD. Currently, marketing and distributing food and beverages containing CBD is illegal under federal law. Former Commissioner Scott Gottlieb was criticized for proposing that it may take the agency three to five years to implement regulatory guidelines around lawful selling of CBD infused foods, according to the Chicago Tribune.

In response to public demand for allowing CBD in food products, the agency held a public hearing May 31 to gather more scientific data and information regarding the safety of products containing CBD, according to the National Law Review. The FDA also opened a public docket as part of the hearing allowing individuals to comment on their thoughts about CBD products. The agency received 4,492 comments and expects to report on its progress “around the end of summer/early fall,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Given the vague deadline, is not known if the FDA will follow up during this time with a clearer plan.

FDA issued warning letters to CBD companies for unsubstantiated claims.

The FDA posted warning letters on its website on July 23 addressed to four companies. The agency tested the concentration of CBD in products and concluded that “many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain.” The firms given a warning were Curaleaf Inc., Advanced Spine, Pain LLC, Nutra Pure LLC, and PotNetwork Holdings Inc.