Weekly News Briefs Feb. 19th

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News Briefs 2/19/19



Golf champion Greg “The Shark” Norman will partner with Green Growth Brand (GGB Beauty), to market a line of topical and health products aimed “at active adults” using Tilray for CBD sourcing. ABG–Norman’s marketing partner which also works with Shaquille O’Neal and other celebrities—is selling lifestyle brands to more than 3500 retailers “focused on providing high-quality products and the consummate retail experience.”

Oklahoma Hemp Drivers Released; Truck Moves to Colo for Tests

After 31-days in jail, the two men arrested for driving legal industrial hemp into Pawhuska, Oklahoma were released (on their own recognizance) after pressure on the Osage County District Attorney and demands for release from pro- bono local attorney Bransford Shoemake.  The two center employees (Ross and Dirksen) of E.A. Trucking in Cleveland, were bonded out in mid-January, however Deneke (far left, of Somalia) and Warsame (right, of Ethiopia) were unable to find a bond agent willing to post their $4000 release bond.   Shoemake told West420 that he felt bond agents feared the two would pose a flight risk, but DA Mike Fisher changed his mind after interviewing the African-nationals at length.

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Meanwhile, the 18,000 pounds of industrial hemp, and the truck carrying the shipment, have been sent to Colorado “for additional testing.” The TulsaWorld reported that 9 of 11 DEA-led tests on the hemp fell below ,03 THC, the legal threshold.  Still, local cops and DA officials spent much of January unaware (or not believing) that the 2018 Farm Bill now provides that hemp can be transported across state lines.  The buyer– Panacea Life Sciences of Louisville, Colo–expects the case to be an important “test case” to establish Farm Bill legitimacy.  It appears that Panacea will not likely gain access to the Kentucky-grown hemp until it is unusable for processing- potentially creating a $500,000 CBD sales loss.

While Oklahoma is traditionally considered a conservative bastion, voters last July passed MMJ access in one of the most progressive ballot issues in the U.S.  The state has accelerated MMJ roll-out, reporting nearly 3000 licenses have already been granted. As of Feb. 11, OMMA (Oklahoma Medical MJ Authority) says it has licensed 1600 cultivators, 950 MMJ dispensaries and 436 processing licenses. with OMMA medical patient cards issued to 48,840 citizens from a total of 61,250 applicants. Virtually every medical condition can be claimed.

Shoemake hopes after the extensive hemp testing, and DA study of the 2018 Farm Bill intent, that there remains a potential for dropping the “drug trafficking” charges against all four men.  “Both Tadesse and Farah were particularly grateful to be released,” said Shoemake, adding he was happy media reports and “pressure on the DA finally bore fruit.”

Quick Takes

The Feb. 13th US House subcommittee hearing on creating a “safe harbor” for US banks and credit unions laid the foundation for a new bill on MJ banking to be introduced soon by key sponsor, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo).  Citing the robbery and murder of Aurora dispensary guard Travis Mason in June 2016, Perlmutter said “for Travis and his family, this bill comes too late.” Other members underscored other Southern California reports of torture and robberies stemming from the exposure from holding large cash amounts at dispensaries.  Oregon credit union official Rachel Pross said her affiliates have banked more than $2 billion in deposits. in that state, noting that the new bill language would continue to require intensive “anti-money laundering” provisions and reports to continue.

California State Treasurer Fiona Ma told the committee that her state examined every potential for creating a state-run bank to handle cannabis businesses, but concluded it was impossible without a change to federal law, allowing legal access to the Federal Reserve system.   Washington-DC MJ operator Corey Barnetteunderscored the difficulty minority-group owners have in trying to start and expand retail operations without financial support.  “Without bank participation, the hurdle to entry is substantially higher,” said Barnette, adding it creates “a barrier to entry that only the wealthy can overcome.”

Other testimony claimed that strong banking access by legal MJ firms would actually further isolate and combat black market operations.  A full House vote of the measure seems likely to be taken up before mid-year.  Access a replay of the hearing here.

New US Attorney General William Barr has taken over as the nation’s “Top Cop,” passing Senate approval with a 54/45 vote.   Barr said he has will leave state-legal programs offering MMJ/RMJ access alone and not subject to prosecution for federal prohibition against cannabis, despite his record in the Bush administration as an avid drug warrior.  It remains unclear if Barr will formally re-institute the Cole Memo, or simply make it the unofficial Justice department policy.  The landmark 2013 Cole Memo asks each cannabis-legal states to set up exhaustive tracking systems, to control diversion, and to monitor and control MJ availability to under age children. In turn, the federal government would refrain from prosecuting state compliant MMJ operations.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Nicolle Elliot to serve as his senior state adviser on cannabis policy and management, working within the state’s Office of Business and Economic Development.   Elliott, who has worked in the San Francisco mayor’s office under Mayor Ed Lee and Newsom since 2008, served as the director of government affairs and liaison to the Board of Supervisors for the late-Mayor Ed Lee.  Elliot’s new job will pay her annual compensation of $150,000.

Also in California, the city of Senora is suing California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control over that agency’s decision to allow statewide MJ delivery services, even into jurisdictions who have forbid local growing and sales.  Part of a coalition called, “Stop Wandering Weed,” Senora hopes a court will invalidate the BCC delivery plan.

Another record year for Colorado MJ sales found 2018 surpassing $1.55Bill. in RMJ/MMJ sales, up from $1,51Bill in 2017.  Since 2014’s start of legal sales, Colorado has collected over $927Mil in state taxes and fees, with 2018 contributing about $266.5Mil. of that total. All told, Colorado has seen over $6Bil in total cannabis sales.  …Oklahoma’s new medical MJ market has collected $4.3Mil. in sales for some 44,000 MMJ patients in January, delivering $305,300 in local and state taxes.

Link of the Week:  South Florida’s TV NCB 6 tested 35 samples (from 7 companies) of retail CBD, finding in their report, that more than 50 percent (20 samples) had lower milligram levels of CBD than reported on the label.   In one case of gummies claiming a 1000 mg CBD content, the TV report said its lab found zero CBD anywhere in the product. See the report results here.


Based in Denver, Dr. Lloyd Covens, DBA is a seasoned cannabis industry journalist and the publisher of West420 NewsWeekly. Writing his doctorate on diffusion of innovations, Covens has been an expert journalist/researcher for 20 years chronicling new technology, global television and renewable energy advancements. He has reported on developments in the cannabis and hemp industry with weekly reports since 2014 covering the western U.S. for legal medical cannabis, recreational sales and hemp production. Covens is also the creator of the annual CO Hemp CBD conference held in Pueblo, Colorado.

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