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Cannabis Briefs for March 12, 2019

March 12, 2019

•Phoenix, Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation will acquire Chicago-based Verano Holdings for $850 million. Once combined, the company will have 200 facility licenses across 16 states, including 123 retailer dispensaries licenses. It will implement enough of those to have 70 dispensaries, 13 cultivation facilities, and 13 manufacturing facilities running by the end of the year, making it one of the largest operators in the country, behind Green Thumb Industries and Curaleaf Holdings. The deal will be paid to Verano shareholders in shares of Harvest stock.

•Last Friday, the New Mexico State House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis. The bill, primarily sponsored by Rep. Javier Martínez (D), was subject to a late night debate on Thursday that resulted in significant concessions to conservative demands. In particular, the legislation shifts retail operations from private ownership to state-run enterprises to avoid the proliferation of shops. All homegrowing is banned to prevent large-scale grow operations that feed the black market. The bill mandates that consumers keep purchase receipts for cannabis with the product or face criminal charges for possession. Provisions for expunging criminal records of past marijuana convictions survived intact. Taxes would be eliminated for medical marijuana and set at 17% for recreational sales, quite close to those in neighboring Colorado. The bill has also passed the state Senate finance committee and now heads to a full Senate vote. Senate sponsor Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D) told SND, “This is the only version that has a chance of getting through the NM legislature this year.”

•Canadian cannabis producer Aphria has received permits from Health Canada to begin cannabis plant production on an additional 800,000 square feet of their main greenhouse in Leamington, Ontario. The expansion completes the phase-in of the Aphria One facility. The site currently employs around 300,000 square feet, so the new space will more than triple production, with crop yields expected to jump from approximately 30,000 kg annually to 110,000 kg annually.

•According to a new University of New Hampshire poll, 68% of the state’s residents support legal recreational cannabis. 50% of those surveyed “strongly support” legalization and 18% “somewhat support” it, a huge increase from 2013, when total support was only 49%. More than three-quarters of self-identified Democratic voters are in favor, as are 56% of Republicans. 80% of respondents favored selling recreational marijuana in licensed retail shops and taxing it similarly to alcohol or tobacco. The pollsters noted that New Hampshire is now completely surrounded by territories where legalization has already occurred. Democrats control both chambers of the state legislature and have begun proceedings on the matter, but governor Chris Sununu (R) is said to be working closely with anti-cannabis group Smart Approaches to Marijuana and has vowed to veto any legalization bill despite the widespread support.

•Eaze Solutions, the online cannabis marketplace and delivery facilitator, has partnered with Portland, Oregon dispensary Kaleafa to serve the local Portland market. Eaze provides software (primarily a smartphone app) that enables customers to place cannabis delivery orders, which Kaleafa will then fulfill. Since launching as a medical-only delivery service in California in 2014, Eaze has completed over 3 million deliveries. Last November the company expanded its scope to deliver CBD products in 41 states and D.C.

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