Another week, another awesome issue on the best plant in the world.
For starters, today we’ve made available for purchase our 2021 database on municipalities that have taken a position on whether to open their borders to cannabis or continue to prohibit commerce.
(Subscribers get first access to the database before we announce it to the general public in early August. You also get 20% off the listed price. Find out how to get your copy inside.)
Prohibition makes it harder to study the plant, but since cannabis is such an intersectional plant there are other ways in which it is being measured.
This issue is a reflection of that.
Private sector and academia partnerships, socioeconomic variables and other factors are starting to be at the forefront of how research on the plant isn’t just tied to medical constructs, it’s tied to society as a whole.
For the lead, Amanda Hoover dives in even more about how cannabis can affect home values, getting local reaction about a new study.
Sue Livio has an article that talks about cannabis research finding its way into mainstream academia, an institution that can have a large role of influence to play as the market matures.
As legalization increases, so too does the demand to understand and find new applications.
Legislation that can hopefully bring prohibition to an end is once more being debated — and everyone is hoping it passes.
We all know we’ve been here before and with a president that hasn’t shown much interest in doing so, the calculus seems to be down to a bitterly divided Congress that can still agree that the current rules on cannabis make no sense.
Jonathan Salant, a faithful presence in our nation’s capital, has the latest.
This week features my Q&A with a women-owned CBD brand on Delta-8, transitioning to the adult use market as a CBD brand and then some.
Speaking of transitions — out of respect for Yom Kippur, we’ve moved our fall conference date to Sept. 23.
We look forward to meeting many of you in person at our networking event in Asbury Park.
See you next week …
— Jelani Gibson
Photo by Aristide Economopoulos | For NJ Cannabis Insider
Cannabis contributes to rising home values, study shows
Contrary to the reefer madness-fueled fear that legal weed will bring crime and disparage a town’s reputation, a new study found home values actually increased in places where cannabis became legal.
The study came from Real Estate Witch (a site published by the digital learning company Clever) and cross-examined Zillow and U.S. Census numbers to see how home values, tax revenue and dispensaries interacted.
Researchers found that from 2017 to 2019, home values increased by an average $6,338 more in states where cannabis was legal either for adult use or medical only.
The report says tax revenue drives public investments, which pushes real estate prices.
Adult-use matters even more, according to the study. In the four years from April 2017 to April 2021, property values in states that had adult-use cannabis saw an increase of an average $17,113 compared to states with medical only.
And it found home values increased $22,090 more in cities and towns that boasted consumer dispensaries compared to others just located in states where cannabis is legal.
Some caution that the study might miss the mark. Housing prices are on the rise in general, and that bubble could burst.
Still, the idea that legalization plays into property value has some traction. It’s not that people move to states just to have legal cannabis often, but that revitalization brings new jobs and other businesses, and that tax revenue from cannabis businesses improves roads and schools, which give property values a boost.
“There’s some merit to that argument: this ripple effect,” said Robert DiPisa, co-chair of the Cannabis Law Group at Cole Schotz and member of its real estate practice. “We’ve seen increased tax revenue, which causes a reinvestment in certain communities. You have this additional foot traffic. All the sudden, you get a lot of people coming into these dispensaries.
They see the added cash flow go into the neighboring businesses.”
The study’s findings are inline with at least one Massachusetts town. Eastampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle previously told NJ Cannabis Insider that her town saw housing prices jump after opening several dispensaries. It was an unintended — and unforeseen consequence of legalization there.
What’s happening now in New Jersey, DiPisa said, is a “feeding frenzy” surrounding industrial properties. Warehouse space is in high demand as more people utilize online shopping with quick delivery dates. These are spaces that also appeal to cannabis cultivation sites.
“New Jersey is maybe one of the toughest industrial markets in the country right now,” said Matte Namer, founder and CEO of Cannabeta, a real estate brokerage firm focused on the cannabis industry in New York and New Jersey.
Namer said they did not think residential property values spiking should be a major concern for towns. Dispensaries and cultivation sites tend to bring well paying jobs to towns.
The main crunch for warehouses is in North Jersey, DiPisa and Namer said. Towns that welcome cannabis and are located further south could have an advantage in luring cannabis business — if they say yes to it.
“I would definitely encourage townships that want that business to make it very clear that they’re open for business,” Namer said. It’s “more likely the companies are going to want to come in and spend their money there.”
— Amanda Hoover | NJ.com
Canva.com stock image
Database shows some 200 munis have made their decisions on cannabusinesses
It’s the million dollar question: Will your town allow legal weed sales?
Municipalities have a month left to decide, or else they automatically adopt the standard rules in the legal cannabis law. While some local officials have complained about a lack of guidance — and the rules and regulations pending from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission — many have been busy drafting and passing ordinances to guide the weed business within their borders.
And we’ve been following their every move; reaching out to New Jersey’s most populous municipalities and tracking statewide news daily as more pass ordinances.
2021 TOWNS DATABASE: Use code SUBSCRIBER for 20% off.
A majority of residents in all but two municipalities in the state voted to legalize cannabis. But far fewer towns and cities have rolled out the welcome mat.
Ahead of the Aug. 21 deadline to decide, more than 200 have finalized their decision or indicated which way they’re leaning. We compiled an extensive list, and will continue to update it as more cities and towns make their decisions.
What we’ve seen so far is a lot of cold feet. At least 130 municipalities (23% of the total) have banned, are in the process of blocking or have sent up a signal that they won’t welcome cannabis businesses. A lot here are taking the wait and see approach, and could change their minds next year. But they don’t want to be part of New Jersey’s cannabis experiment.
On the other hand, 90 municipalities (about 16%) have said yes or have indicated their openness. But these towns have taken varying approaches; some will allow cultivation only, others indicating they just want two dispensaries and mapping out where to put them.
We should have a clear picture of the state come Aug. 21.
To purchase a copy of the 2021 database, follow this link. Subscribers should use discount code SUBSCRIBER for 20% of the $2,000 listed price.
— NJ Cannabis Insider staff
Photo by Aristide Economopoulos | For NJ Cannabis Insider
Study makes debut in mainstream medical association
A study published in an American Psychological Association journal found people who used medical cannabis to alleviate chronic pain felt relief and reported a better quality of life fairly quickly.
On its face, the findings may not seem so surprising or extraordinary. Chronic pain is one of the most common conditions patients who consume weed seek to ameliorate. And the size of the study may seem relatively small; it measured the impact on 37 patients with chronic pain conditions after three months and six months of use, and compared it with a control group of nine patients who did not consume weed.
What’s noteworthy is that a mainstream medical association published the article in a peer-reviewed journal, Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, and was written by researchers affiliated with Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry and McLean Hospital in Boston.
Cannabis’ continued designation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule 1 substance with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, blocks most government-funded research into its beneficial effects.
This study was funded by private donations to the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) Program, led by Dr. Staci Gruber, director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospital’s Brain Imaging Center and an associate professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Patients who participated in the study were required to have abstained from cannabis for at least a year so as not to affect the outcome, the article said.
The researchers intend to follow and monitor the patients at the 12, 15, 18 and 24-month mark. Early results are very promising.
“Medical cannabis patients exhibited improvements in pain which were accompanied by improved sleep, mood, anxiety and quality of life and stable conventional medication use,” according to the article. Patients who used cannabis high in THC found it effective in reducing pain, while others who relied on CBD products reported reductions in anxiety and improved sleep.
“Findings suggest that medical cannabis may be an effective therapeutic strategy for chronic pain and related symptoms for at least a subset of patients,” the article said. “Future studies are needed to gather data which could ultimately help physicians make specific recommendations regarding medical cannabis treatment regimens optimized for pain relief.”
“There is no doubt that the nation is in the midst of an opioid crisis,” according to the article. “Accordingly, efficacious alternatives and or adjunctive therapeutic options are needed to prevent opioid misuse and improve treatment outcomes for chronic pain.”
Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and a board member for Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, said the study and its findings are significant.
“I’m delighted we are getting data from studies like Dr. Gruber,” Grinspoon said, whom he described as “a scrupulous, dedicated and meticulous researcher.”
“They have a really strong review board,” he said of MIND. The study, he said, “is as kosher as it gets.”
Six months of data is actually a long time, considering opioid trials frequently lasted 12 weeks, Grinspoon said.
The state of cannabis research in this country is improving, thanks to the ingenuity of researchers like Gruber and Zina Cooper, director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, Grinspoon said.
As a physician who treats people with severe chronic pain with opioids and cannabis or a combination of low-dose cannabis and opioids for mild to moderate pain, Grinspoon said the pain-relieving properties of the drug have been known and relied on for thousands of years. Studies like this are another reminder that it’s time the politicians caught up and re-schedule the drug, he said.
“It’s nuts it is still scheduled like that,” he said.
— Susan K. Livio | NJ.com
NJ Cannabis Insider Fall Conference date change: Sept. 23
Please note we’ve changed the date of our fall conference to Sept. 23.
The all-day event will be at the brand-new Carteret Performing Arts Center. Early-bird tickets are on sale now. Use code SEPT23NJCI for $20 off the early-bird ticket price ($239) until Aug. 15. Regular price tickets will be $299 for non-members and $249 for members.
The conference is presented by Hance Construction. More details in the coming weeks.
For our sold-out July networking event, we’re looking forward to our panel discussion, “Delivery, equity and microlicensing,” featuring:
- Precious Osagie Erese is Chief Operations Officer of CBD delivery company Roll Up Life
- Ellie Siegel, CEO of cannabis consulting firm Longview Strategic
- Bob Anderson, an attorney at the firm Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper
- Sydney Snow, is senior manager of Government and Community Affairs at Eaze Technologies
The event is brought to you by these early-adopters:
- Hance Construction was selected to build one of the first cannabis grow facilities in New Jersey, and has since worked on other medical cannabis projects, offering consulting and site-location services.
- Supreme Security Alarms, New Jersey leaders in the security space, providing custom designed, state-of-art systems to protect your business.
- Harvest 360 is a cannabis consulting company that specializes in application preparation and licensing management, working to reduce barriers of entry for communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.
- Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, with its Cannabis Industry Team provides transactional and litigation counsel to businesses operating in the cannabis industry, helping clients navigate the complex federal, state and local regulation.
- Longview Strategic provides advisory services and industry insights to clients throughout the country’s emerging highly-regulated markets, with a specialization in licensing opportunities and an aim to empower, develop, and position thought leaders to succeed through a professional network of ancillary service providers, and authentic engagement with local communities.
- Shore Grow is an Ocean, N.J.-based company, offering consultation and supplying commercial farmers in New Jersey — whether it be vegetables, hemp or cannabis — who grow organically in soil outdoors or hydroponically indoors.
- HBK is a multidisciplinary financial services firm, offering the collective intelligence of professionals committed to delivering exceptional client service across a wide range of tax, accounting, audit, business advisory, valuation, financial planning, wealth management and support services from offices in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, New York and Florida.
- ELEVEN ELEVEN, a North Jersey consultancy group which has partnered with EWMA (Environmental Waste Management Associates) and IAL (Integrated Analytical Laboratories) to expand its services.
- BCB is a thriving community bank with branch offices throughout New Jersey and New York. BCB offers individuals and businesses a full menu of products and services, including: Personal Savings, Checking Accounts, CDs, Business Checking Accounts, Commercial Mortgages, Residential Mortgages, Small Business Loans, Business Lines of Credit, Health Care Industry Loans for Medical Professionals, and much more.
- The New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, the Garden State’s largest trade group, operating as the state’s cannabis chamber of commerce
If your company would like to sponsor this or future events, including our September in-person conference, please contact us here.
— Enrique Lavin
In this interview, Degelis Tufts, co-founder of TribeTokes, a CBD brand across the Hudson, talks to us about what equity looks like for women-owned businesses, the logistics of clean vaping and the future of Delta-8.
Q: The company markets clean CBD vaping. Explain the logistics of what that means and how it differs from the competition.
A: Clean vaping means that there are no unhealthy filler oils, and no toxic ingredients or residues including heavy metals. For us as a brand, our customers expect only 2 ingredients in our vapes: cannabis distillate and natural terpenes.
Distillate is cannabis extract that has been purified and processed to separate the cannabinoids, such as CBD and CBG, into precise amounts.
For terpenes, I say “natural” because synthetic terpenes can be created in a lab. All of our terpenes are botanical (extracted from plants) and most are extracted directly from the hemp plant (there are more than 150 terpenes found in cannabis plants).
When it comes to Delta 8, there is a new key element to the clean vaping definition. Delta 8 is converted from hemp-extracted CBD using a solvent and a catalyst, both of which are then separated and removed using distillation via chromatography. Therefore, it is extremely important to test your final product for residual solvents! We would never purchase D8 distillate from a supplier who does not use this process and we then test our final vapes again for residual solvents. The problem in the market today is that some manufacturers are not following this protocol.
Q: Is TribeTokes looking to get into the adult-use (Delta-9 THC) market in the wake of NY legalization?
A: Absolutely! We think it makes sense for licenses to be awarded to people who have already been dedicating their lives to this industry (and/or, to people who have been a victim of its prohibition), and not just to the big multistate operators. We have been working for years to create amazing, high quality cannabinoid products using all of the federally legal parts of the plant. It is relatively simple to swap out the CBD in our products for THC, so we are already 80% of the way there and just need permission from the state to move forward.
Q: Following up on the last question, Delta-8, does it have a future after statewide legalization, and if so how does that future change?
A: We do think that there is a future for all cannabinoids – Delta 8 and Delta 9 are not the same, they do have different effects and some prefer one over the other. We have heard feedback from many customers and patients that they prefer one or the other for different reasons. In dispensaries, it’s typical for an estimated 10% of sales to be CBD products even though they’re available nationwide. We envision something similar happening with D8, where it can be widely available but some choose to purchase in a dispensary.
The only place we encourage people to NOT purchase any cannabinoids including D8 are gas stations/ local convenience stores — the buyers tend to be extremely price sensitive so aren’t as discerning about lab testing etc. We did a convenience store trade show once and we couldn’t believe how cheap the buyers wanted our products. We sold ZERO units because the prices weren’t even feasible to meet (we typically do very well at trade shows). A full lab test run on a single product batch is $450, so it was no wonder non-tested products ended up there!
Q: What does equity look like for women owned businesses in the cannabis space?
A: There are much-needed initiatives to support women obtaining cannabis licenses in certain states thankfully, but we still have work to do. In addition, where women end up losing their equity to men is when they need to raise $2-10M just to get started. I worked at an investment fund prior to entrepreneurship and was the only woman on our investment team for a while. That industry is extremely male dominated – according to a 2014 article I read, in alternative asset classes women represent 3-6% of professionals. TribeTokes is 100% women-owned AND funded (because we funded it ourselves and bootstrapped it) — but when we need to raise money for a THC license, which requires much more up-front capital than an e-commerce brand, will we be able to find female institutional investors in cannabis? That will be interesting to navigate.
Q: How do companies create a sense of community and authenticity within the industry
A: I think by treating your customers like you would treat one of your friends, and speaking to them that way too. My business partner Kym runs our instagram @tribetokes and keeps it real. Sometimes, I can be more nervous (”Will people judge me if I say “x” or am honest about “y”? Will this get us in trouble?”). Kym just speaks from the heart without letting her ego get in the way, and people love her for it. She has paid dearly – Instagram has taken her personal account down multiple times for advocating for cannabis patients (she is also a med patient). They give it back and then take it down again (@cannabiswithkymb — currently down). Social media censorship is a new form of prohibition that can be really unfair.
We also keep this mindset with customer service. People don’t want to talk to a bot or someone overseas. Ultimately, cannabis is a consumer business, the #1 most important thing is that our customers love our products, find value from them and keep coming back. Our attitude is, how can we make your day better, your life better? From there, growth and everything else will fall into place – money, press, retail partnerships.
— Jelani Gibson
NJ Cannabis Insider file photo
A man is suing his former employer after he was fired for failing a drug test days after N.J. legalized cannabis
A fired worker is testing New Jersey’s state’s cannabis law by suing his former employer, alleging he was wrongfully terminated for marijuana use days after the state legalized the drug.
New Jersey’s top court ruled last year that employers cannot fire medical marijuana patients who use cannabis in their free time. The new marijuana legalization law will extend these protections to those 21 and older, but whether or not that provision applies to workers now has been debated.
Paul Myers, 53, filed the lawsuit in state Superior Court in Burlington County last month. He alleges National DCP, a supply chain company that services Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, broke the law when firing him from its Westampton facility earlier this year.
Myers was hired at the facility in 2019. He has Crohn’s disease and also underwent treatment for cancer shortly after he began the job, according to the complaint. The procedures required him to take extended medical leave, as did his Crohn’s symptoms. He encountered hostility from his employer, the suit alleges, as his need for time off was questioned.
To deal with his ongoing symptoms, Myers’s doctor suggested he use medical cannabis. He began took the advice and was in the process of securing authorization to join the state’s medical marijuana program, according to the complaint.
But three days after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that did away with criminal penalties and fines for marijuana use, Myers’s employer asked him to undergo a drug test.
Under the new law, employers can still conduct random and pre-employment drug tests for weed use, but cannot fire, discipline or refuse to hire someone if the result is positive. But they can still ban marijuana use at work. To enforce the rule, they must have a certified Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert on hand to witness impaired behavior by an employee and a positive drug test indicating presence of marijuana in a person’s system.
Unlike alcohol, marijuana stays in a person’s system long after it is used. This makes drug testing for current impairment particularly difficult.
That employment piece of the law has yet to become operational. The state Cannabis Regulatory Commission must still establish rules and regulations, which include developing a program to train necessary impairment experts to enforce it.
Attorneys have noted the confusion as the state sits between two different drug testing policies. Some workplaces have continued to enforce their previous policies, and others have dropped marijuana drug tests altogether, NJ Advance Media has previously reported.
“Doing it creates a potential legal issue and not doing it creates a potential legal issue,” Sheila Mints, a healthcare and cannabis attorney with Capehard Scathard in Mount Laurel, previously told NJ Advance Media of employee drug testing. “You really don’t know what the right thing is to do. Other aspects of the law have not caught up to the legalization part of it.”
National DCP asked Myers to provide proof of authorization to use medical marijuana and gave him three business days to turn around a doctor’s note, the lawsuit states. But he could not get an appointment in time and was ultimately fired.
His lawsuit claims National DCP violated the state Law Against Discrimination, the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act and the new marijuana legalization law.
A request for comment sent to National DCP was not returned. Myers’s attorney did not respond to an email seeking comment.
— Amanda Hoover | NJ.com
This piece first appeared on NJ.com
The U.S. Capitol Building (Associated Press file photo by Patrick Semansky)
Federal legislation abolishing prohibition scheduled next week
Next week the House is scheduled to vote on two spending bills that prohibit the Justice Department from enforcing the federal ban on medical marijuana and expanding research into weed.
Lawmakers are planning to approve the spending bills funding the federal government for the 12 months beginning Sept. 1 before their traditional August recess.
Implementing legal safeguards to stop enforcement against medical cannabis has been a mainstay of federal legislation for years, but the last two spending bills were expanded by the House to also include recreational use. The Senate has refused to go along.
“The provision in the committee-reported version is the same as last year’s bill at this stage,” House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander said. “The House bill was expanded last year to cover recreational use by floor amendment.”
That’s what advocates said they were hoping for again.
“Per my understanding, that is the plan again this year,” said Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, acknowledged that they were working on the strategy after the Appropriations Committee decided not to include the expanded provision in the original legislation.
“We’re in the process of formulating our approach,” Blumenauer said.
The provision specifically singles out New Jersey and the other states that have legalized cannabis for personal use and prevents the Justice Department from taking any action “to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
In separate legislation funding the Department of Health and Human Services, the House Appropriations Committee inserted a provision requiring the National Institutes of Health to collaborate with other relevant federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, to make it easier for researchers to obtain access to marijuana.
The committee said that research was “extremely limited” despite 35 states allowing some sort of legal cannabis and almost 45 million Americans reporting having used weed in the last year.
— Jonathan Salant | NJ.com
Jelani Gibson is the lead reporter for Cannabis Insider. He previously covered gun violence for the Kansas City Star.
Amanda Hoover is a reporter covering the cannabis industry for NJ.com and The Star-Ledger. She previously covered crime and courts across New Jersey.
Susan K. Livio is a Statehouse reporter for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com who covers health, social policy and politics
Jonathan D. Salant is Washington correspondent for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com.
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