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McConnell slams cannabis banking measure in COVID bill (Newsletter: May 15, 2020)

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El Paso OKs marijuana cite & release policy; Portland psychedelics decrim group pursues Council; Industry asks govs to legalize for economic boost

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the Senate floor to slam House Democrats for including marijuana industry diversity study provisions in their new coronavirus bill’s cannabis banking section. And many other Republican lawmakers are criticizing the fact that marijuana reform is in the legislation at all.

The El Paso, Texas City Council approved a measure that encourages police to issue citations for low-level marijuana possession instead of arresting people and bringing them to jail.

Activists working to decriminalize psychedelics locally in Portland, Oregon have announced they’re giving up on a ballot initiative and will now pursue reform through the City Council. One lawmaker has already expressed interest in sponsoring the measure, they said.

The National Association of Cannabis Businesses sent letters urging governors in the Northeast U.S. to legalize marijuana to aid the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

/ FEDERAL

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is proposing that it be able to declare an “emerging drug threat” based on “increased discussion through online drug user sites regarding a new or evolving drug, class of drugs, or other substances,” among other criteria.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said there is “more momentum in the cannabis space than I’ve seen in the over 30 years I’ve been working on this issue.”

Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Joyce Beatty (D-OH) cheered the inclusion of language allowing people with prior convictions to receive relief funds in the latest House coronavirus bill.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and 25 other lawmakers sent a letter asking House leaders to end the ban on SNAP and TANF benefits for people convicted of drug felonies.

Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) tweeted, “As vice chair of the House Small Business Committee & a supporter of this common-sense #cannabis [banking] legislation, I’m pleased that it’s included in the #HeroesAct!”

Tennessee Democratic congressional candidate Christopher Hale tweeted, “I told @SpeakerBoehner recently what I’m telling you: I’ll be the greatest pro-marijuana Congressman that God ever made.”

/ STATES

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is delaying previously announced proposals to merge the state’s marijuana regulatory agencies and streamline cannabis tax collection due to the coronavirus outbreak. Separately, regulators are letting marijuana businesses defer license fee payments for 60 days.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is being asked by the mayors of nine cities to let recreational marijuana stores reopen.

Arizona’s House Democratic Caucus tweeted to mourn the passing of a local marijuana legalization advocate who led the state’s NORML chapter.

Michigan regulators issued a recall of medical cannabis vape cartridges due to the presence of vitamin E acetate.

Maryland regulators issued guidance on medical cannabis business transfer of ownership or control.

Washington State regulators will hold a listen and learn forum about draft conceptual rules regarding a voluntary marijuana licensee consultation and education program on May 28.

Rhode Island senators filed a bill to track hemp and marijuana using blockchain technology.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ INTERNATIONAL

An adviser to the Court of Justice of the European Union said that France’s ban on CBD products is in contravention of EU law.

Veterans Affairs Canada tweeted that requests for medical cannabis are still being processed during the coronavirus pandemic.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review concluded that “medical cannabis is a potentially effective and cost-effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy that may addresses an unmet need.”

A survey that asked people about their cannabis consumption twice found that “among those not reporting marijuana use, 31.2% subsequently reported use when asked again” and that “prevalence of use increased from 73.7% to 81.9% after correcting responses.”

The latest issue of the journal World Psychiatry has several articles on the impact of marijuana legalization.

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

Amnesty International, Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian Public Health Association, Canadian AIDS Society and other organizations are calling on the Canadian government to decriminalize drug possession.

/ BUSINESS

HEXO Corp. revealed that it was warned its low share price does not meet New York Stock Exchange standards.

Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. reported $21.5 million in quarterly revenue and a net loss of $11.5 million.

Green Thumb Industries Inc. reported quarterly revenue of $102.6 million and a net loss of $4.2 million.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. reported quarterly net revenue of $78.4 million and an adjusted loss of $45.9 million.

Columbia Care, Inc. reported quarterly revenue of $26.3 million and a net loss of $20.6 million.

Vireo Health International, Inc. reported quarterly revenue of $9.0 million and a loss of $37.1 million.

The Associated Press Stylebook tweeted, “A new addition to the Stylebook’s drug terms: When referring to the fungi that are commonly used as a recreational drug, call them psychedelic mushrooms in the first reference and mushrooms in subsequent references. Magic mushrooms is acceptable in quotations.”

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Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

Newsletter

Trump-appointed prosecutor’s cannabis warning (Newsletter: October 20, 2020)

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Top NY gov aide: Legal marijuana in 2021; AOC teams up with GOP on drug reform; USDA OKs more hemp plans; NM voters back legal cannabis

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for Montana penned a statement warning the state’s voters that legalizing marijuana will increase car crashes, cause addiction and make it harder to take custody of kids away from parents just for using cannabis.

The top cannabis advisor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said marijuana legalization will be included in his budget again in January, with the goal of enacting it into law by April. He also spoke about forthcoming rules to allow CBD-infused foods and drinks.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) spoke about how more Republicans are joining Democrats in working to legalize marijuana and end the war on drugs.

  • “We’ve been able to propose solutions on a wide spectrum towards decriminalization, towards legalization, and that is increasingly becoming a position that more Republicans are amenable to… There are some areas where you can find common ground.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved hemp plans from six additional states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Dakota—and three Indian tribes. The total number of hemp proposals to have received federal clearance now stands at 69.

As Arizona appears poised to approve a marijuana legalization ballot measure next month, a new poll shows that voters next door in New Mexico also back legalizing cannabis by a strong margin and that nearly half want to decriminalize drugs as well.

/ FEDERAL

A new page about race and the criminal justice system on the campaign website of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden reiterates, “Our administration will work to end mandatory minimums and private prisons, reform our broken cash bail system, and decriminalize the use of cannabis. And let me be clear: we need to help people with mental health challenges or substance use disorders receive treatment –– not a prison sentence.”

The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission sent a letter warning For Our Vets LLC dba Patriot Supreme to stop claiming its CBD products can prevent and treat coronavirus.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and thirteen other senators briefly cited the economic opportunities created by hemp in a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency to modernize rulemaking for biogenic carbon emissions.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) included several pieces of marijuana and psychedelics legislation in a list of congressional bills she is highlighting that seek to interfere in Washington, D.C.’s local affairs.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) tweeted, “Industrial hemp production is a huge opportunity for our region’s ag sector. This bill helps give farmers the tools they need to produce this cash crop on a larger scale. Congrats to @GovNedLamont for getting this important effort across the finish line.”

Maryland Democratic congressional candidate Mia Mason tweeted, “I want to legalize cannabis [and] make it a cash crop for [our] 1st District farmers. We can then tax the sale of cannabis and use that revenue to pay for rebuilding and improving our infrastructure!”

/ STATES

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) tweeted, “Let’s listen to the science and vote no on legalizing marijuana.”

West Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Salango tweeted, “After years of delay, the state finally selected its medical cannabis growers, but WV based companies were left out in favor of out-of-state firms and a political donor of Jim Justice. Are you tired of the corruption? We can do better.”

Indiana attorney general candidates discussed their views on marijuana.

The New Mexico legislature’s Economic & Rural Development Committee discussed hemp production.

Oregon regulators eased marijuana business license application requirements and streamlined the process for approvals.

Washington State regulators adopted rules on a voluntary marijuana licensee consultation and education program and rescinded a policy on the use of personal funds for business.

Colorado regulators published a marijuana market report.

Nevada regulators issued guidance on marijuana agent card expiration dates.

Some Massachusetts lawmakers are pushing back against proposed marijuana delivery regulations.

Pennsylvania drug courts may face a lawsuit for barring participation by medical cannabis patients.

Oklahoma regulators touted the fact that the state Department of Education has received enough medical cannabis revenue to pay the salaries of 794 teachers.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will meet on Tuesday.

Kansas representatives will participate in a chat about the prospects of legalizing medical cannabis in the state on Tuesday.

/ LOCAL

The Henderson, Nevada City Council is considering a proposal to allow marijuana delivery services.

Paterson, New Jersey is set to enact a medical cannabis transfer tax.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The West Midlands, UK Police Department is ending arrests for low-level drug possession.

The Dutch justice minister told concerned lawmakers that no extra policies are needed to prevent people possessing or smoking marijuana in public places during the coronavirus pandemic.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A review of research on Huntington disease found “strong evidence for significant improvement in the neurologic symptoms of spasms, tremors, spasticity, chorea, and quality of sleep following treatment with medical marijuana,” ” significant improvement after treatment in tremors and rigidity” and “a significant increase in average number of hours slept.”

A study identified “potentially beneficial effects of Cannabis sativa whole extracts on the initial phase of atherosclerosis.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police published an op-ed outlining concerns about marijuana legalization ahead of the state’s vote on a referendum to end prohibition.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative explained its decision to fund Oregon’s drug decriminalization campaign in a press release.

The Sussex County, New Jersey Democratic Committee published an op-ed urging voters to approve the state’s marijuana legalization referendum.

/ BUSINESS

Acreage Holdings, Inc. announced the repayment of some of its debts.

Harborside Inc. reached an agreement to acquire majority ownership of FGW Haight, Inc., which has a conditional use approval to operate a dispensary in San Francisco, California.

Zenefits touted a cannabis-specific payroll guide, tweeting, “At Zenefits we support SMBs with our mission to “level the playing field” for the smaller guys. #Cannabis companies included.”

/ CULTURE

Seth Rogen spoke about how he has been smoking marijuana all day long during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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Newsletter

Missouri & Virginia medical cannabis sales begin (Newsletter: October 19, 2020)

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Biden talks marijuana at town hall; VA gov signs decrim fine prepay bill; MT lawsuit challenges legalization initiative; NJ poll; OR drug decrim ads

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump addressed drug and crime policy issues at dueling town halls. Biden spoke about decriminalizing marijuana, clearing past cannabis records and forcing people into treatment instead of jail for drug possession. Meanwhile, Trump attempted to cast himself as the criminal justice reform candidate.

Missouri dispensaries made the state’s first medical marijuana sales—nearly two years after voters approved a ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for approved patients.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed a bill that allows people to prepay marijuana decriminalization fines instead of having to go to court. Meanwhile, the state’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened over the weekend. The governor also has more marijuana bills on his desk for action later this month.

Montana marijuana opponents are trying to block the state’s legalization ballot measure because they say it violates the state constitution by appropriating tax revenue to specific programs. Voting is already underway, so it’s unclear what will happen if the challenge succeeds in the state Supreme Court.

A new poll shows New Jersey’s marijuana legalization ballot referendum passing by a nearly three-to-one margin.

The campaign working to pass Oregon’s drug decriminalization ballot measure released a new series of TV and online ads. 

  • “Putting people in jail ruins families, when treatment can help families. Yes on 110 will help.”

/ FEDERAL

Leaders at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Training Academy are being accused of having a pattern of making racist comments towards recruits.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy updated its Freedom of Information Act policies.

Rep. Justin Amash (L-MI) criticized President Trump, tweeting that he “expanded civil asset forfeiture/marijuana enforcement.”

Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) and Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis shared their positions on marijuana legalization during a debate.

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) tweeted, “Happy Wisconsin Hemp Day! Throughout the early part of the 20th Century, Wisconsin was proudly a national leader in #hemp production. I have championed legalizing industrial hemp for years and am glad that our farmers are once again able to produce this lucrative, useful crop.”

South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison spoke about his support for legalizing marijuana.

West Virginia democratic Senate candidate Paula Jean Swearengin tweeted, “This isn’t a partisan issue- it’s a greed issue. People from all walks of life want to legalize cannabis, except for those who want to make money off our backs instead of empowering our farmers, small businesses, & working people. We need restorative #cannabis legalization NOW”

Maryland Democratic congressional candidate Mia Mason tweeted, “I will fight to legalize cannabis, let our District 1 farmers grow it as a cash crop, & tax it to bring money into our system to fix our infrastructure!”

/ STATES

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed a proclamation declaring Wisconsin Hemp Day.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) tweeted, “I’m calling on the PA legislature to move toward legalizing adult-use marijuana. Here’s why: 👍 Pennsylvanians support legalization 💵 Revenues would help us recover from #COVID19 🚜 Pennsylvania agriculture would see a boost 💚 Decriminalization of marijuana is long overdue 🌱 Justice would be restored to those impacted by over-criminalization 🛡 Regulations would be implemented to keep people safe ↔️ Pennsylvanians with medical issues could better access relief 💰 Pennsylvania would keep revenue instead of losing it to neighboring states”

Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate Woody Myers spoke about his support for decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing medical cannabis.

Arizona’s secretary of state held two town hall meetings to discuss the state’s ballot measures, including one to legalize marijuana.

Oklahoma regulators adopted emergency rules on medical cannabis reporting and testing. They also announced a recall of products sold by Green Motavation that failed pesticide testing.

Colorado regulators adopted new marijuana waste management rules.

Tennessee regulators extended the state’s hemp pilot program.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole granted parole to a disabled Iraqi War veteran who is serving a five-year prison sentence after being arrested for possessing medical cannabis that is legal in his home state of Arizona.

California regulators are proposing new rules on marijuana business license application requirements.

The Illinois Adult Use Cannabis Health Advisory Committee will meet on Monday.

Michigan regulators will hold a marijuana social equity education and outreach session on Tuesday.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,500 cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

The Will County, Illinois Board is advancing a proposal to use marijuana tax revenue as reparations for “Transgenerational Damage Done through Slavery, the Black Codes, the War on Drugs, and Mass Incarceration.”

San Francisco, California regulators made grant funding available to marijuana social equity businesses.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Mexico’s former defense minister was arrested on drug charges by U.S. officials.

Reelected Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about her priorities for addressing marijuana policy regardless of the outcome of the nation’s legalization referendum. Meanwhile, the unexpected victory of a Green Party parliamentary candidate could bode well for the referendum, preliminary results of which will be announced later this month.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky included a question about legalizing medical cannabis in an exit poll to be conducted along with local elections this month.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study suggested that “accommodating assisted injection within [supervised injection services] may be providing opportunities to engage and reduce harms among higher-risk subpopulations” of people who inject drugs.

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Policy Center for Public Health and Safety, American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp and ASTM International launched a pilot certification program for the cannabis industry.

The Irish Farmers Association says the country could be a “major player” in the production of medicinal cannabis.

/ BUSINESS

GenGanna Global, now known as OGGUSA Inc., is suing its board chairman for allegedly diverting more than $4 million in cash and benefits to his own company, Southern Tier Hemp.

Schwazze canceled its planned acquisition of Canyon.

/ CULTURE

The NFL Players Association sent a letter warning players that they could be violating collectively bargained rules by entering into partnerships with CBD companies.

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Newsletter

SCOTUS nominee pressed on cannabis (Newsletter: October 16, 2020)

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Polls: AZ legal marijuana leads; CO official touts psychedelic benefits; USDA to survey 18k hemp biz; NZ legal cannabis referendum on Sat.

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  • Ryan McCloskey: “I wanted to contribute something because I’ve been loving your newsletter for so long! You’re such a badass reporter who is doing a groundbreaking public service amid a massive shift in public opinion—and the associated democratic movement(s) to reform our antiquated drug laws.”

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) pressed Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on marijuana criminalization and racial disparities in the war on drugs during her confirmation hearing.

  • “Because of that felony conviction for doing things that two of the last three presidents admitted to doing, they now can’t vote, they now can’t get jobs, they now can’t get business licenses. This is such a deeply affecting system that is disproportionately harming one class of citizens based upon race.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to survey 18,000 hemp businesses about how they grow and sell the newly legal crop, including questions on issues such as acreage, seeds, fertilizer, marketing, labor costs and storage.

Two new polls show Arizona’s marijuana legalization ballot initiative with a solid lead, and increased support from when the same two firms conducted surveys last month.

New Zealand voters will decide on a first-in-the-world national marijuana legalization referendum on Saturday—but don’t expect results to be announced for a few weeks.

  • “We won’t count referendum votes on election night,” the Electoral Commission says.

The Colorado Springs, Colorado City Council president shared an anecdote about how his sister-in-law benefited from using psilocybin mushrooms following a cancer diagnosis. The comments came as activists presented a proposal to locally decriminalize psychedelics in the military-heavy community.

/ FEDERAL

Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Congressman David Trone (D-MD) announced $50,000 in federal funding to support a feasibility study on the hemp processing industry.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) tweeted, “I am disappointed that SCOTUS decided not to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of federal marijuana prohibition. I joined an amicus brief to this case supporting overturning the DEA’s classification of marijuana.”

Rep. Joe Morelle (D-NY) and Republican challenger George Mitris said during a debate that they support marijuana legalization.

Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) and Democratic challenger Donna Deegan briefly debated marijuana policy.

Former Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) tweeted, “You can decriminalize #marijuana w/o legalization. Legalization creates an industry where benefits fall to corporate interests & negative impacts fall disproportionately on minorities.”

Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen tweeted, “We would do well to follow Portugal’s decriminalization policy where ‘the drug-induced death rate has plummeted to 5x lower than the E.U. average and stands at 1/50th of the US.'”

/ STATES

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed bills extending the court-ordered receivership process to marijuana businesses.

Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) and Republican challenger Julianne Murray debated marijuana legalization.

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor tweeted, “Illinois just banked $100M in revenue. Let me be clear: Pennsylvania, with a $4B budget deficit, is quite literally rejecting 100’s of millions of *free money* every year with cannabis Prohibition. Billions of dollars to build up PA, not the drug cartels. Legal Weed for PA.”

Colorado’s attorney general delivered the keynote address for George Mason University’s Symposium on the Economics and Law of Cannabis Markets.

Illinois regulators are facing a lawsuit that seeks to force them to issue overdue craft marijuana cultivation and infuser licenses.

New York regulators extended the state’s hemp pilot program.

Wisconsin regulators are extending the state’s hemp pilot program.

Advocates for and against Arizona’s marijuana legalization ballot measure held a debate.

Missouri regulators said they will need to spend another $200,000 in legal fees to handle lawsuits challenging their medical cannabis licensing decisions.

Florida’s Hemp Advisory Committee will meet on Wednesday, and the Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee will convene on Thursday.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,500 cannabis bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

/ LOCAL

The Delaware County, Pennsylvania Council held a hearing on a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

The Gilbert, Arizona Town Council approved a ban on recreational marijuana businesses.

A Cook County, Illinois commissioner admitted that she has an ownership stake in a marijuana business license applicant after having previously served as one of the state’s top cannabis regulators.

/ INTERNATIONAL

Colombian legislation to legalize marijuana is in jeopardy.

Victoria, Australia’s state government is supporting a bill to protect driving rights for medical cannabis patients.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that “inhaled cannabis appears to have short-term beneficial effects on symptoms of” obsessive-compulsive disorder and that “patients reported a 60% reduction in compulsions, a 49% reduction in intrusions, and a 52% reduction in anxiety from before to after inhaling cannabis.”

A study on psychedelics found that “the perceived benefits associated with microdosing greatly outweigh the challenges” and that “microdosing may have utility for a variety of uses while having minimal side effects.”

/ ADVOCACY, OPINION & ANALYSIS

Montana’s Catholic bishops are opposing the state’s marijuana legalization ballot measures.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association expressed concerns about proposed rules to allow marijuana delivery services.

The Marijuana Policy Project published a Pennsylvania voter guide.

/ BUSINESS

MedMen Enterprises Inc. reported quarterly net revenue of $27.4 million and an adjusted loss of $116.1 million.

Aphria Inc. reported quarterly net revenue of $145.7 million and a net loss of $5.1 million.

Nabis raised $5 million in Series A funding.

Harborside Inc. launched new products and an initiative to highlight diversity, sustainability and wellness in the cannabis industry.

Vireo Health International, Inc. launched a new product in New York’s medical cannabis market.

Total Arkansas medical cannabis sales crossed the 25,000-pound threshold.

/ CULTURE

Family Feud had a question on where parents go to smoke marijuana.

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