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Senate Hears Case for Bank Access

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said, lack of bank access and getting paid in cash makes industry workers vulnerable to robberies and "shady outfits like payday lenders and check cashing services that charge high fees and interest rates."

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) saiudadded, "It's the states that are leading on this issue, and the federal government has failed to respond. It has closed its eyes and plugged its ears and pretended and hoped the issue will just go away."

  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said lack of bank access and getting paid in cash makes industry workers vulnerable to robberies and "shady outfits like payday lenders and check cashing services that charge high fees and interest rates."
  • Garth Van Meter of anti legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana said, "By skipping ahead to a technicality over banking rules, the marijuana industry is hoping to gain many of the benefits of federal legalization, without a debate over the public health effects."
  • Cannabis Wire found banks, insurers, cannabis companies and other groups lobbying for the bill or related bills.

It's unclear if or when the bill will come up for a vote. Committee chairman Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Id.), the only Republican committee member to attend the hearing, didn'tcommit his support to the proposed legislation.
Idaho Press

Quick Hit

  1. A pilot in Arizona will allow customers to pay for MED with "digital tokens" instead of cash. An Arizona company called ALTA designed the program.

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WeedWeek Careers Special

This week's Careers Issue looks at some of the issues facing job seekers and hiring managers. We also asked WeedWeek Council Members for career advice.

WeedWeek Council is a new initiative to build a community of industry leaders, and share their insights with WeedWeek's audience.

What do you look for in new hires?

I'm mostly looking for drive, ambition, entrepreneurship and the ability to improvise and adjust. This is a swiftly moving space with lots of hurdles and shifting regulations. It is definitely not a 9-5 industry, and flexibility is key. I also look for someone who is hungry to learn and not afraid to make (and admit) mistakes. We are all learning as the landscape changes."

Jennifer Price, VP Communications, Mediajel

What are the most sought after skills right now?

"For C-Suite positions, an ability to raise capital appears to be a large priority for both private and public companies."

Colin Earl, CEO, Sisu Consulting

"The number one skill we're looking for is problem-solving."

James Eichner, CSO, Sana Packaging

What's your advice for job seekers?

Read up on as much as you can before an interview. Learn what's happening in your state and the current trends within the industry so you can speak intelligently about them.

Beth Graham, Principal, Reputation Cannabis

Do your due diligence on the employer. Make sure the company is adequately capitalized, talk to current and former employees to understand the culture and challenges, know who is invested in the company and understand the company's long term strategic goals.

George Jage, President, MJLink

Anything else?

"Job seekers should make sure that they're going to work for a LICENSED ENTITY both at the local and state level. Unpaid internships, paying you in weed, asking you to volunteer for a period of time, are all indications that you are about to accept employment at an unlicensed business."


"Understand this industry is not a vacation. you will likely work harder here, in this industry, than any job prior. the cannabis industry is an extreme sport."

Kenny Morrison, CEO, Plant Parenthood


Big Ag Casts Shadow Over Phylos

Wired says the controversy at Oregon cannabis start-up Phylos Bioscience shows how "the science and technology of mainstream agriculture is about to revolutionize marijuana."

  • It notes that investments from Big Ag, once cannabis is legal, will make it "extremely difficult" for legacy growers to compete.
  • Phylos CEO Mowgli Holmes said the company aims to develop blight-resistant strains that will be "widely available and very affordable."
  • "But unfortunately for Holmes, these potential positives for small-scale growers were overshadowed by a creeping fear that Phylos would use genomic data [provided to it by growers] for its own gain, and that it would adopt the tactics of despised Big Ag companies. Or maybe even become part of one."
  • On the Benzinga video which ignited the controversy, Holmes introduced advisory board members including one who had worked for [global Ag company] Syngenta for years, and another who was VP of technology acquisition at the merged Dow and DuPont. "Having these guys around is just critical for us, because we're building a company that is ultimately going to be acquired by that universe." Holmes said he was misunderstood in that he was talking about producing mass market oils and similar products, not craft flower.
  • Phylos' few industry supporters include Kevin Jodrey of Wonderland Nursery in Humboldt.

FDA Warns Curaleaf on CBD Claims

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to MSO Curaleaf about making unproven claims that CBD can treat diseases such as Alzheimer's.

  • It was the first such letter the agency has sent to a multi-state operator. The company said it intends to remain compliant.
  • “Among MSOs, Curaleaf has made the largest push into CBD – with a full “Curaleaf Hemp” line," a Wall Street analyst said. "And the CVS partnership brought them a lot of attention...They’re a good company to make an example of "
  • Curaleaf, the most valuable U.S. cannabis company, saw its stock drop on the news.
    Business Insider

Quick Hit

  1. In Canada, CannTrust CEO Peter Aceto resigned in the wake of news the company had been growing in unlicensed rooms. 🍁Jesse has all the details at WW Canada!

REC Legalization: Still Very Popular

REC legalization is more popular than a national $15/hour minimum wage, banning semi-automatic assault rifles and free college tuition, according to a poll funded by NPR and PBS.

  • Of 1,346 responders nationwide, 63% said REC legalization is a good idea.
  • More popular than REC legalization: Background checks for gun purchases at gun shows, Medicare for all who want it, regulating prescription drug prices and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the country.

Quick Hit

  1. South Park seemed to mock MedMen's New Normal ad.
    Marijuana Moment

Pension Funds -- The Really Big Money -- Start to Go Green

State governments are increasingly open to cannabis investments, even in states where marijuana isn't legal. Many of these funds hold billions of dollars under management. California's public employee pension fund alone (CalPERs) has $374 Billion under
Chicago Sun-Times

California's public employee pension fund alone (CalPERs) has $374 Billion under management. 🌴WeedWeek California has more.
Chicago Sun-Time

  • The state governments of Texas, Alaska and Tennessee have invested in San Diego-based Innovative Industrial Properties, a real estate investment trust (REIT) serving the cannabis industry.
  • Other backers of the REIT include public employee and teacher pension funds from California, New York, Arizona, Ohio, New York, Oregon, Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Canada.

Kamala Harris Proposes Cannabis Equity Tax

Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images

California Senator and top-tier presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D) unveiled a bill which would decriminalize marijuana federally and create a 5% federal cannabis tax which would benefit, in part, equity programs and the individuals they're supposed to benefit.

  • She unveiled the proposal with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.).
  • It's one of many federal cannabis bills which will likely struggle to pass a Republican controlled Senate.

Former andidate Joe Biden proposes reclassifying cannabis as a schedule II drug, which would enable medical research, but leave the decision on REC legalization to the states.

  • In this week's Democratic debates, look for opponents to attack Biden's past positions on criminal justice issues as overly harsh. (He seeks to roll some of them back.)

Coming to California: "Almost Organic" Weed

California regulators and growers met to work on a program to certify cannabis as "comparable to organic."
Cannabis Wire

  • The program, called "O Cal" aims to align with federal standards.
  • Draft regulations could be available by the end of 2019.

Separately, a California bill under consideration would strengthen the regulations for county appelations.
USA Today

  • In general, the proposal would prevent companies from using place names, like Humboldt County, in their marketing unless the product actually comes from that place.

Mark Kleiman, R.I.P.

Getty Images

Mark Kleiman, an important thinker on drug and criminal justice policy, died at 68 of complications from a kidney transplant.
New York Times

  • As early as the 1980's he said the costs of cannabis prohibition outweighed the benefits. Nonetheless he argued for a middle way between prohibition and full commercialization, which he feared would abuse its power.
  • That was his argument in this paper for the Rand Corporation
  • His consulting company, which served the Washington state government in 2013, is called Botec Analysis. It stands for Back of the envelope calculation.

Columnist: Legal Weed Culture Stinks!

Chicago Tribune columnist Christopher Borelli finds a lot not to like in legalization, especially the smell:

"The constant smell, the pungent smell, the inescapable smell, that everywhere-all-the-time smell of minor rebellions. There are mornings on Lake Shore Drive when I wonder if a third of the cars pouring out of the North Shore and headed downtown are driven by the mildly stoned. (For accuracy’s sake, we should rename the LSD the CBD.) That smell is never as tart as a fart or as pleasant as a campfire. To quote the wise Molly Ringwald in her former Guardian newspaper column: “I prefer the scent of skunks to skunk.”

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