Gregory D. Thomas, Esq.
The marijuana industry, and presumably those opposed to legalization of
the plant, waits with bated breath on this coming November’s state
election results. No doubt, there will be many compelling stories to come
out of those results for months – if not years – to come.
In the meantime, let’s look at several marijuana topics unrelated
to the November elections that are significant in their own right.
Colorado Cannabis Sales Reaching New Highs
According to the most recent state tax data and calculations by the
Marijuana Business Daily, sales of recreational and medical marijuana for the eight-month period
ending August 31, 2016 reached $846 million, up a whopping 33% from the
same period last year. Statewide annualized sales are on pace to exceed
$1.25 billion. Recreational sales have increased nearly 50% this year
compared to the same period in 2015 with 2016 medical sales showing modest
increases. The future seems very bright for recreational marijuana in Colorado.
A Majority of Americans Favor Recreational Marijuana
A new Pew Research Center poll shows 57% of Americans favor the legalization
of recreational marijuana with 37% opposed. Those numbers were flipped
as early as ten years ago. While those in favor are largely younger Americans,
an increasing number of older adults have jumped on the cannabis train.
Alaska to Debut its Recreational Marijuana Industry
After voting to legalize recreational marijuana nearly two years ago, the
state of Alaska is finally nearing the launch of its adult-use program,
perhaps as early as the end of October. Testing lab clearance by state
and local authorities, to permit checking marijuana crops for potency
and contaminants, remains the primary hurdle before dispensaries may open
their doors. Final inspections by Alaska’s Alcohol & Marijuana
Control Office for such things as security cameras need to be performed
on some retail locations. Statewide sales are expected to reach $25 million
to $50 million in the inaugural year.
California Medical Marijuana Sales are Massive – Will Recreational
Sales follow Suit?
Medical marijuana sales in the state of California reached $844 million
in 2015 according to the
Marijuana Business Daily, approximately two-thirds of the amount generated by all other states
combined (Source: HDL Companies, Marijuana Business Factbook 2016). If
California voters approve recreational sales next month and medical sales
are any indication of retail receipts, based on the ratio of recreational/medical
marijuana sales in Colorado for the month of August, California can expect
its retail marijuana industry to experience minimum sales of $1.75 billion
its first year. Put another way, Colorado’s retail marijuana sales
exceeded $580 million in 2015 with a total population of approximately
5.5 million. California’s population is approximately 39 million,
or seven times Colorado’s. Is it possible recreational marijuana
sales in California could reach $4 billion in year one? Stay tuned.
Rules Changes for Colorado’s Edibles Took Effect on October 1, 2016
Labeling rules for Colorado’s infused products manufacturers took
effect on October 1, 2016. The new rules require: a) one of two visible
diamond-shaped stamps on packaging and individual 10mg servings identifying
the product as containing THC; b) a medical edibles stamp showing the
letter “M”; c) packaging that states: “Contains Marijuana
– Keep out of reach of children.”; d) packaging void of the
words “candy” or “candies” and health-related
claims; and e) labels that include potency and state the product has been
tested for contaminants. Compliance must be achieved on or before December
1, 2016. Not only will the new rules translate to increased costs to edibles
manufacturers, but inventory of non-compliant product will have to be
unloaded at deep discounts as the deadline nears. Unsold inventory will
have to be thrown out. Not surprisingly, many infused products business
owners are not happy about the new rules which some consider an unnecessary
burden on legal marijuana businesses. Regardless, its either comply or goodbye.
For additional consultation on the above or related matters, please
contact an experienced marijuana business attorney at Feldman Nagel, LLC, at (866)