Virginia to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

Virginia Legalizes Marijuana
Virginia Legalizes Marijuana

Another state is legalizing recreational marijuana, as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently signed into law a bill to make adult-use cannabis legal. The legislation marks a significant step in the push to legalize recreational cannabis across the U.S., with Virginia becoming the first state in the South to do so. Now that Virginia is set to make it legal for state-licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis for recreational use, will sophisticated cannabis operators soon flock to the state? And when will commercial sales of adult-use cannabis officially be allowed in Virginia? Keep reading this blog to learn more.

Virginia Governor Signs Recreational Marijuana Law

Recreational marijuana is soon going to be legal in Virginia. Virginia legislators initially passed a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in February of this year. However, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was reluctant to sign the bill into law until lawmakers made some significant changes to the timeline for actually legalizing cannabis. In fact, Northam proposed several amendments to the bill. Once the Virginia General Assembly incorporated, and approved, those amendments, Northam agreed to formally approve the bill and affix his signature to the legislation. This comes just one week after New Mexico also legalized recreational cannabis.

When Will Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Be Allowed in Virginia?

Although Virginia will be legalizing marijuana for recreational use, there is still some question about exactly when different aspects of the new law will go into effect. For some time now, state lawmakers have been engaged in negotiations to potentially accelerate the timeline for allowing individuals to legally possess small amounts of marijuana without being subject to arrest and imprisonment. In fact, Virginia had already decriminalized marijuana possession. Even with Governor Northam having signed the new cannabis legalization bill, however, lawmaker negotiations remain in progress.

At present, the new law calls for marijuana possession to be officially legal on July 1, 2020. This means that all adults over the age of 21 will be able to legally possess up to one (1) ounce of marijuana. At the same time, it will also be legal for individuals to cultivate small amounts of marijuana (e.g., up to four cannabis plants) in their residences. Moreover, most individuals who have previously been arrested and/or convicted on marijuana possession charges in Virginia will be able to have their criminal records expunged. That’s because the bill includes language that “modifies several other criminal penalties related to marijuana, and imposes limits on dissemination of criminal history record information related to certain marijuana offenses.”

The commercial sale of recreational marijuana, however, will not be allowed until January 1, 2024. This is meant to give state and local officials time to vet applicants for licenses, as well as to create the conditions necessary for a thriving cannabis market in Virginia.

Social Equity Licenses for Cannabis Operators in Virginia

Licenses to sell recreational marijuana in Virginia will be approved by a state cannabis board. The board will be under strict guidelines to limit licenses to 400 retailers, 25 wholesalers, 450 cultivators, and 60 manufacturers.

Importantly, the Virginia recreational marijuana law also includes provisions that require the state to prioritize “social equity licenses” when deciding which applicants will be granted licenses to sell adult-use cannabis at dispensaries. This is important because many other states to legalize recreational cannabis have seen a disproportionate number of licenses go to white-owned businesses at the expense of local minority businesses.

Impact of New Law on Virginia’s Recreational Cannabis Market

Virginia already has a thriving medical cannabis market, and it is expected that recreational cannabis will eventually be made available for sale at the same dispensaries. The creation of a recreational marijuana market in Virginia could have huge implications for the cannabis market more generally – especially since Virginia is the first Southern state to open its doors to commercial cannabis sales.

The retail sale of cannabis products in Virginia is expected to generate up to $500 million in sales during the first year of legalization. That figure could rise to as high as $1.4 billion by the fifth year of legalization, according to cannabis industry experts.

Contact Scythian Cannabis Real Estate for Information on Sale-Leaseback Deals

Scythian Cannabis Real Estate is a privately held cannabis real estate fund that helps cannabis operators get the financing they need through sale-leaseback transactions on properties used as dispensaries. Scythian works with some of the largest and most sophisticated retail cannabis companies in the United States. If you are a cannabis operator interested in adding capital, email Scythian today.


New Mexico Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

New Mexico Legalizes Marijuana
New Mexico Legalizes Marijuana

New Mexico is the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana. The New Mexico governor recently signed legislation that will officially make cannabis legal for adult use in the state. What could this mean for the New Mexico economy, and for savvy cannabis operators who are looking to expand their reach into new markets? Keep reading this blog to learn more.

New Mexico Governor Signs Law to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis

New Mexico is set to become the seventh state since the November 2020 election to legalize adult-use cannabis. The New Mexico state senate passed a cannabis legalization bill earlier this year, shortly after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called for a special legislative session to consider, among other things, the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. With previous opponents of legalization no longer in the state senate after the November election, the bill was quickly approved by legislators. Despite opposition from most Republican lawmakers in the state senate, some GOP senators grudgingly supported the measure as a way to regulate marijuana and ensure public health and safety.

Although Lujan Grisham signed the recreational marijuana bill into law on April 12, the possession and use of cannabis for recreational purposes won’t technically be legal for a few more months because state officials still need to work out some of the details. This includes evaluating and approving licenses for cannabis product testing labs, as well as establishing rules on product safety, qualifications for applying for a cannabis operator license, and standards for training employees who work as “cannabis servers” at dispensaries.

What Is New Mexico’s Recreational Cannabis Law?

Linda Trujillo, the superintendent of the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department, said that adults over the age of 21 can legally grow small quantities of marijuana – six (6) plants per person or 12 per household – at their residences beginning on June 29, 2021. Additionally, individuals will be allowed to possess up to two (2) ounces of marijuana outside their residences.

Some other important aspects of the new law include the following:

  • Cities and towns can’t ban cannabis businesses, but they can place limits on location and hours of operation.
  • Marijuana cultivation quantities will be capped for the first few years.
  • Marijuana must come in child-proof packages.
  • State lawmakers will have the ability to work with Native American tribal governments on separate cannabis deals.
  • Employers can still fire employees who use marijuana.

When Can Recreational Cannabis Be Sold in New Mexico?

Legal sales of recreational cannabis won’t happen until next year because cannabis operators will need to apply for state licenses. The legal sale of adult-use cannabis in state-licensed dispensaries is scheduled to start by April 1, 2022.

Although cannabis operators won’t be able to sell adult-use cannabis until 2022, they will be allowed to start cultivating marijuana several months in advance in order to meet what is expected to be significant demand for their products. There is already a robust market for medical cannabis in New Mexico: more than 112,000 patients, or roughly 5% of the state’s population, are currently enrolled in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program.

The Creation of a Cannabis Economy in New Mexico

Proponents of cannabis legalization in New Mexico have long argued that the creation of a legal cannabis economy within the state will help to generate jobs for residents, as well as revenues for state and local governments. New Mexico will impose a 12% tax on legal cannabis sales at the outset, with that tax rate steadily increasing to 18% as more time goes by. (These new taxes will not apply to medical marijuana sales.) The expectation is that New Mexico’s recreational cannabis market will thrive and provide the state with much-needed tax revenues in the future.

New Mexico Marijuana Reform Efforts and Social Justice

In addition to providing a huge boost to the New Mexico economy, the legalization of marijuana for recreational use could also change the state’s legal landscape. In fact, marijuana reform is something that NM Governor Lujan Grisham has long supported. After signing the cannabis law, she addressed the disproportionate arrests and convictions for marijuana possession among racial and ethnic minorities. According to Lujan Grisham, marijuana legalization will help to “bring about social justice in ways in which we have been talking about and advocating for, for decades.”

One specific way in which the new law could impact social justice is by leading to the release of more than 100 people who are currently incarcerated for low-level marijuana possession or distribution charges. Additionally, the new cannabis law includes a provision that will allow for thousands of New Mexico residents to automatically expunge past marijuana possession convictions from their records. Beyond that, law enforcement will no longer be able to use the odor of marijuana as justification for police searches of vehicles, residences, or other private property.

Contact Scythian Cannabis Real Estate Today

Scythian Real Estate is a privately held cannabis real estate fund that has strong relationships with the top cannabis operators in the United States. Scythian provides capital and other assistance to cannabis companies with dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal for recreational use. If you are a cannabis operator looking to add capital and/or expand your business into a new cannabis market like New Mexico, Scythian Real Estate may be able to help. For additional information, send us an email.


North Dakota Senate Rejects Recreational Marijuana

North Dakota Recreational Marijuana
North Dakota Recreational Marijuana

It appears that it will be a little longer before adult-use cannabis is legal in North Dakota. That’s because the North Dakota State Senate recently voted against a bill that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use. What does this mean for the future of the North Dakota cannabis market? And what could it mean for cannabis operators in North Dakota? Keep reading this blog to learn more.

North Dakota State Senate Rejects Adult-Use Legalization of Cannabis

Marijuana reform efforts have been underway in North Dakota for quite some time. So far, however, those efforts to change existing laws that prohibit adult-use cannabis have come up short. The latest example is the recent vote by the North Dakota Senate. The ND Senate vote on a bill to legalize recreational marijuana was lopsided: 37-10 to defeat the proposed legislation, also known as House Bill 1420. Moreover, state senators only debated for a mere 30 minutes before casting their votes. This was not terribly surprising, especially given the composition of the ND Senate and the generally conservative politics of the state. During the brief debate over the proposed law, several Republican senators argued that increased use of marijuana would have negative consequences for young people who became addicted to the drug, as well as increasing the incidence of DUIs and traffic accidents.

While the North Dakota Senate was strongly against the push to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state, the North Dakota House was actually in favor of the idea. In February 2021, members of the ND State House passed a cannabis legalization bill by a vote of 56-38. Remarkably, that legalization measure had bipartisan support, with a Republican member of the House sponsoring the bill. That member, Rep. Jason Dockter, said that he supported the proposed legislation because he feared that “a more liberal citizen-initiated measure” might appear on the ballot in the 2022 election in the absence of action by state lawmakers now.

The legislation that was up for a vote in the North Dakota Senate would have limited the legal use of recreational marijuana to individuals 21 and older. The law also would have limited legal possession to a maximum of one (1) ounce of marijuana, restricted legal possession to private property, and prohibited individuals from growing marijuana at their residences. Additionally, the bill called for a total of just 18 dispensaries to be approved for state licenses.

Recreational Marijuana Could Be on North Dakota Ballot in 2022

At present, only medical cannabis is legal for purchase and use in North Dakota. So, now that the North Dakota Senate has defeated the most recent iteration of a recreational marijuana legalization bill, what happens next? It appears that the next realistic opportunity to legalize cannabis for recreational use in North Dakota will come in the 2022 election. The last time North Dakota voters had an opportunity to weigh in on adult-use legalization came in 2018, when they defeated a legalization measure by a 59-41 margin. If the results of cannabis reform measures in other states during the 2020 election are any indication, however, North Dakota’s prospects for recreational marijuana legalization this time appear quite strong.

In fact, many cannabis industry observers believe that it is just a matter of time before recreational cannabis is legalized for both sale and use in North Dakota. Experts point to North Dakota’s neighboring states – South Dakota on the southern border, Montana on the western border, and Minnesota on the eastern border – all of which have already legalized medical marijuana, while both South Dakota and Montana have also already legalized recreational marijuana. In fact, the November 2020 election saw residents in South Dakota and Montana enthusiastically approve measures to make adult-use cannabis legal. In addition to its neighboring states, North Dakota is also bordered in the north by Canada, where cannabis has been legal for both recreational and medical use since 2018.

Contact Scythian Cannabis Real Estate Today

Scythian Real Estate is a privately held cannabis real estate fund that works with some of the largest and most sophisticated cannabis operators in the country, including Grassroots Cannabis (Curaleaf) in North Dakota. If you are a cannabis operator interested in learning more about Scythian, send us an email.


Cannabis Flower Prices Soar During Pandemic

Cannabis Flower Price Increase
Cannabis Flower Price Increase

The prices of cannabis flower, along with the prices of other recreational marijuana products, have risen to record highs during the coronavirus pandemic. New data from retail cannabis stores throughout the United States shows that increased demand for cannabis flower has resulted in higher average sales prices, providing some indication of just how strong the cannabis market has become. What could this mean for the cannabis industry going forward, and could the increased demand and higher sales figures continue after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides? Keep reading this blog to learn more.

Higher Prices for Cannabis Flower in Colorado, California, Nevada, and Washington

While retail sales prices for cannabis flower have been increasing nationwide over the past year, prices have seen a significant spike in four states: Colorado, California, Nevada, and Washington. According to Headset, an analytics company based in Seattle, WA, wholesale flower prices are up considerably in these states over the past three (3) months when compared to sales data from late 2019 and early 2020. On average, the four states have seen prices for cannabis flower rise by approximately 17%.

The higher prices are seen as a reflection of healthy demand for cannabis product during the pandemic. When a lot of businesses either closed down or began to operate remotely, many people found themselves stuck inside for days, weeks, and months on end, and cannabis consumption became more popular than ever in states where marijuana is legal for either recreational use or medical use. This, in turn, led a lot of cannabis consumers to explore new ways of smoking or otherwise consuming cannabis. What cannabis operators soon began to notice was that some of their more popular cannabis flower products began to fly off shelves.

In Colorado, the demand for cannabis flower was particularly strong. This caused a spike in wholesale flower prices in the state, with the average market rate per pound going up by 30% over a three-month period at the end of 2020. For premium marijuana flower in Colorado, prices have gone even higher because consumers are seeking out top-tier cannabis brands like Cookies, Kaviar, and Snaxland that offer artisanal cannabis. For certain brands, the price of high-grade flower in Colorado currently exceeds $4,000 per pound.

Increased Demand for Marijuana Pre-Rolls, Capsules, and Concentrates During COVID-19 Pandemic

The increased demand, and subsequent rise in retail prices, for cannabis flower during the COVID-19 pandemic certainly stands out to cannabis industry observers. However, cannabis flower is not the only retail product that has benefitted from cannabis consumers seeking out new ways to smoke marijuana. For example, the average sales prices of pre-rolled marijuana have risen by 15% when compared to the first few, pre-pandemic months of 2020.

In addition to setting higher average sales prices for cannabis flower and pre-rolls, dispensaries in Colorado, California, Nevada, and Washington have also responded to increased demand for cannabis capsules and cannabis concentrate by raising prices on those products as well. According to data compiled by Headset, the average retail price of cannabis capsules rose by more than 11% since early 2020, and the average retail price of cannabis concentrate rose by more than 3% since early 2020.

Contact Scythian Cannabis Real Estate Today

Higher prices and increased demand for certain cannabis products certainly bodes well for the cannabis industry as a whole and especially for cannabis operators in Colorado, California, Nevada, and Washington. Scythian Real Estate is a privately held cannabis real estate fund that works with some of the most sophisticated cannabis operators in these states and others. If you are a cannabis operator and would like to learn more about Scythian, contact us today.