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Cannabis Briefs for April 16, 2019

April 16, 2019

•In a recent appearance before the Senate appropriations committee, U.S. Attorney General William Barr stated his support for the Cole memo and the STATES Act, currently under Senate consideration. The Cole memo, an Obama-era guideline that federal law enforcement would not interfere with state-level cannabis decisions, was instrumental in the formation of the cannabis industry until it was discarded by former A.G. Jeff Sessions, though little actually changed during Sessions’ tenure. Barr was non-committal on his attitude toward federal enforcement during his confirmation hearings, so the promise to maintain the status quo will come as a relief to companies across the industry. He added that he found the conflicts between federal prohibition and state legalization “untenable” and “intolerable.” Barr said that while he personally favors keeping cannabis illegal, he could support the approach of the STATES Act, which would put in place a federal law to defer cannabis decisions to the states.

•Phoenix, Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation has acquired CannaPharmacy, a cannabis licensee with a presence in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Financial terms of the deal, which follows Harvest’s recent $500 million capital injection, weren’t disclosed. The move adds vertically integrated cannabis pipelines and medical retail licenses in some the most trafficked areas of New Jersey and Delaware, as well as cultivation and processing space in Pennsylvania and one dispensary in Maryland. Pending the closure of Harvest’s various purchases, the company says it will have 213 licenses across 17 American states and territories. Last month Harvest purchased Verano Holdings for $850 million.

•Former Constellation Brands executive Marty Birkel has joined the advisory board of Cannabiniers, a cannabis brand management company. Birkel is the former president of Ballast Point Brewery and also served as chief global sales officer among other roles in his 20 years with Constellation. He also recently joined the board of Vermont-based WhistlePig. Headquartered in San Diego, Cannabiniers has a brand portfolio primarily focused on cannabis beverages, including Two Roots THC beer, Brewbudz cannabis coffee, and the forthcoming Creative Waters Co. line of low-cal cannabis RTDs.

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