General

As we’ve blogged before, we don’t believe that Attorney General Sessions’ revocation of the Cole Memorandum will have much impact on the regulated, licensed marijuana industry. As of this post, we’ve neither heard nor read of any U.S. Attorney seeking to prosecute a licensed, compliant marijuana operation. Beyond statements by key political players, certain data points can give the industry comfort. Below are some that we believe illustrate that the attorney general’s actions and statements will not meaningfully reverse the progress that the industry has realized over the past few years.

  • Per an October 2017 Gallup poll, 64% of Americans support marijuana legalization, including 51% of polled Republicans. Per a July 2017 Quinnipiac University poll, 75% of Americans, including 59% of Republicans, oppose the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized cannabis.
  • The legal cannabis industry (not including cannabis-adjacent businesses) employs an estimated 165,000 to 230,000 workers. This is two to three times more workers employed by the coal-mining industry.
  • Although estimates of actual revenues from legal cannabis enterprises vary, The Arcview Group states that, in 2016, the industry generated at least $6.7 billion—that figure is projected to increase to $21 billion by 2021.
  • The cannabis
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A Cannabis-Themed Wish List for 2018

This past year has been a memorable one for so many different reasons. For Burns, it saw the growth and expansion of our Cannabis Business Advisory Group, the launch and development of this blog, and the successful execution of our first-ever cannabis conference.

In winding down 2017, Scott Moskol and Mike Andreasen weigh in with their “wishes” for all things cannabis related in the coming year.

Scott Moskol

I’d like to see…

  • The end of the new development of private lawsuits being brought by neighbors of cannabis cultivation and/or dispensary facilities against such entities under the auspices of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act. These complaints generally seek damages, in addition to injunctive relief, that, if granted, would curtail the power of the states to issue valid licenses. Accordingly, to those defendants that are still parties to such lawsuits, we wish for speedy dismissals.
  • Congress amend the Tax Code, such that 280E would no longer apply to a valid, state-licensed, compliant cannabis business. This way, marijuana businesses would not be subject to such an extra, and oftentimes onerous, taxation burden.
  • Whatever new spending bill that is ultimately passed contain a version of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (formerly, the
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Reflections on MJBizCon 2017

Recently, I traveled to Las Vegas with colleague and fellow Cannabis Advisory Group co-chair, Frank Segall, to attend the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, also known as “MJBizCon,” which bills itself as “the largest cannabis conference in the world.” Launched in 2012 by the editors of Marijuana Business Daily, MJBizCon hosts bi-annual events in the fall and spring, bringing together thousand professional cannabis operators and investors every year.

This was my fourth MJBizCon (one spring, three fall), and it was, by far, the largest. The official attendance was announced at 18,120, and the number of exhibitors was over 650. Anticipating this volume, the conference was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, having overgrown its previous host venue, the Rio Las Vegas, and it will undoubtedly continue to scale in terms of scope and intensity.

This year, for the first time, adult-use cannabis is legal in Nevada. And while usage of any cannabis products was forbidden inside the Convention Center, it was evident that the majority of the attendees enjoyed the recent change in the law. For me, one of the clearest differences between this conference and ones from years past was the types of exhibitors … Keep reading

Throughout history, marijuana has brought many benefits to vastly different populations. Realizing that those benefits outweigh any potential risks, Massachusetts, as a forward-thinking state, has allowed this product (and it is a “product”) to enter the marketplace on a legal basis, though regulatory details continue to be worked out. Below are some salient facts and dates to remember as cannabis comes fully online in the Commonwealth.

When did the law take effect?
The law took effect on December 15, 2016.

What aspects of the law took effect on December 15th?
Although licenses for cultivation, manufacture, testing, and retail sales will not be issued until July 2018, certain personal use provisions allowed for persons 21 years or older went into effect on December 15, 2016. Those include the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, of which five grams may be marijuana concentrate, as well as the home-growth provisions that allow for the possession of up to 10 ounces of marijuana in one’s primary residence and six plants per resident, but no more than 12 plants per household. For more specific information, please refer to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 94G.

Where can I grow my plants?
Plants can … Keep reading

Many cannabis industry experts believe that the cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical sub-industry has the most potential to be the largest growth target for the cannabis industry as a whole, and if regulatory barriers to the cannabis industry are eased or lifted, the industry experts are probably right. The positive results of cannabis-based drugs on various diseases, illnesses, and symptoms, are overwhelming, and companies such as Digipath, Inc. and GW Pharmaceuticals, plc, are at the forefront trying to bring these this cannabis-based drug treatment to the mainstream.

The pharmaceutical industry is estimated to average about $500 billion in sales per year. The industry is heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) almost every step of the way from testing, patenting, efficacy, and marketing of the drugs. Meanwhile the cannabis industry, at its current state, is the Wild West. There is almost no standardization of cannabis products across the country for a product that has an estimated 700 different types of strands. This means that trying to buy a specific cannabis product to help with muscle pain in one part of town that you bought in another part of town, is impossible. Whereas, buying Epilim, a drug for epilepsy, is the … Keep reading

At our cannabis conference on October 17th, representatives from across the industry gathered to discuss how the landscape of legalized marijuana has changed in recent years, particularly in New England. A panel, consisting of James Alex (Premier Healthcare Group), Jason Sidman (Sanctuary Medicinals), Patricia Rosi (Wellness Connection of Maine), and G. William Eldridge (GW Consulting), talked about specific industry trends they have seen and where they expect the industry to go moving forward. Below are a few highlights from that discussion:

Why should people be interested in getting into the industry?

Everybody has their own story on what drew them to the industry, whether it was a firsthand experience regarding the medicinal effects of cannabis, or the possible societal benefits of its legalization. However, one view that is consistent among all of those involved—including cultivators, retailers, investors, and advocates—is the great potential that exists. Legalized marijuana is already a multi-billion dollar industry, and only looks to be growing with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in many of the northeastern states.

How do you attract an experienced workforce, especially in a budding industry like legalized marijuana?

The answer may be simpler than you expect. Many of the skills that … Keep reading

Last week, our inaugural cannabis conference took place at the Hilton Boston-Dedham hotel, and we are pleased to report that, by virtually every measure, the day was a tremendous success. This being the first conference ever put on by our group, we knew from the beginning that we were venturing into uncharted waters. But with the help of co-host Viridian Capital Advisors and our exhibitors, sponsors, and panelists, the entire affair ran smoothly and proved memorable, insightful, and enjoyable for all involved. In total, 152 investors, operators, and entrepreneurs were in attendance, and the feedback we’ve received has all been highly positive.

Over the coming weeks, we intend to recap each of the day’s panels, with insight provided by a member of Burns & Levinson’s Cannabis Business Advisory Group.

In the interim, though, we wish to extend our sincerest thanks to everyone who took part in bringing this watershed moment for our firm to fruition. We look forward to furthering the dialogue surrounding cannabis, both regionally and nationally, and are excited about all of the possibilities that next year’s conference holds.

 … Keep reading

On July 28, 2017, Governor Baker signed into law H. 3818, “An Act to Ensure Safe Access to Marijuana,” which was passed by state legislators to update state laws governing the cultivation, sale, and use of marijuana, following voter approval in 2016. The Act was characterized as an emergency law and declared “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience,” and the majority of its provisions pertain to the establishment of a five-member Cannabis Control Commission, the purpose and duties of which are relative to the regulation of the recreational and medical marijuana industries in the Commonwealth. The law additionally calls for the creation of a 25-member Cannabis Advisory Board, consisting of members chosen for their expertise and knowledge relative to the Board’s mission.

In addition to the establishment of the Commission and the Board, the Act:

– Permits a municipality to establish zoning by-laws or ordinances, which allow commercial marijuana growing and cultivation on land used for commercial agriculture, aquaculture, floriculture, or horticulture;

– Permits a city or town to impose a local sales tax upon the sale or transfer of marijuana or marijuana products by a retailer operating within the city or town to anyone other … Keep reading

In a few weeks’ time—October 17th, to be exact—we are hosting our first conference on the topic of cannabis, called “The Cannabis Industry: Growth Opportunities for Professionals, Operators and Investors.” After months of planning and behind-the-scenes prep work, we’re thrilled that we’re now only a few short weeks away from what we know will be a fantastic day.

And as we detailed in our last post (ticket and other information here), we’ve put together a program that we think attendees will find informational, interesting, and enlightening. But what we’d like to do in this post is introduce our phenomenal keynote speaker. A person we’re truly lucky to have, and who embodies the spirit of what we hope to achieve with this conference. A person who has the requisite experience and insight to make this a major event on the Massachusetts cannabis calendar, and the ability to relay that experience and those insights in ways that connect with people.

That person is Kris Krane.

The founder and president of 4Front Ventures, which he established in 2011 with the stated purpose of “building a medical cannabis industry based on compassion, integrity, and accountability,” Kris has dedicated his … Keep reading

Burns & Levinson, in partnership Viridian Capital Advisors, is incredibly excited to announce the first in what it hopes will be an annual event, “The Cannabis Conference: Growth Opportunities for Professionals, Operators and Investors.”

Slated to take place at the Hilton Boston Dedham hotel on Tuesday, October 17th, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the conference will bring together professional investors, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and other participants in the cannabis space for an exploration of the industry’s potential opportunities and challenges. The event is by invitation only, and is geared toward those seeking to improve their present position in, or make an initial foray into, the legalized marijuana market.

The program features panels of regional and national experts who will be discussing the following topics:

The New England Experience
Nationwide, the landscape of the legalized marijuana industry has changed significantly in recent years—no place more so than New England. In 2016, Maine and Massachusetts voted to fully legalize cannabis, and Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont all allow its use for medical purposes. This panel will examine how the industry’s laws and regulations have evolved in the region, focusing on the experiences of operators who … Keep reading