Virginia Decriminalizes Cannabis Possession

Virginia Decriminalizes Cannabis
Virginia Decriminalizes Cannabis

Virginia lawmakers have decriminalized cannabis in the state, meaning that individuals who are caught by law enforcement with a small amount of marijuana in their possession will no longer face criminal penalties. Instead, possession of a minor amount of pot is now considered a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine. What could this new law mean for efforts to legalize recreational cannabis use in Virginia? Could cannabis companies soon be doing big business in Virginia? Read on to learn more.

Virginia State Legislators Reclassify Marijuana Possession as Civil Offense

HB 972 and SB 2, the two bills passed by the Virginia state legislature, specifically reclassify what used to be a criminal offense – the simple possession of one (1) ounce or less of marijuana – as a civil offense. Prior to passage of the new law, a person convicted of simple possession of marijuana in Virginia could be sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $500. Now, instead of facing jail time and other severe penalties for simple possession of marijuana, anyone caught by police with a small amount of weed will be subject to a fine of just $25. This amount represents the lowest fine imposed by any state in the entire country for a marijuana possession offense, suggesting just how far Virginia lawmakers have moved when it comes to legalizing adult-use cannabis. But they still have a bit further to go in terms of legal cannabis sales: state legislators are soon going to consider whether to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

After the Virginia General Assembly passed the bills in March, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam sent the legislation back to legislators with a series of proposed amendments. Legislators incorporated most of the suggested changes, and Northam then signed the bills into law. The cannabis decriminalization law went into effect on July 1, 2020. Virginia is now the 27th state in the nation to decriminalize marijuana possession.

When Will Cannabis Be Legalized in Virginia?

The thinking among many cannabis industry observers in Virginia is that decriminalization doesn’t go far enough. In addition to decriminalizing cannabis possession, the Virginia law also creates a committee to study the possible effects of legalizing cannabis for recreational use in the state. That committee will reveal its findings and issue a recommendation on cannabis legalization by November 30, 2020.

The formation of the work group to study legalization comes on the heels of an announcement by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus to introduce legislation to legalize recreational cannabis in Virginia. The state legislators were set to introduce the proposed law during the August special session of the Virginia General Assembly. While state lawmakers considered many different criminal justice reform bills during the session, it was the marijuana legalization proposal that figured to draw the most attention because of the rising popularity of cannabis legalization both in Virginia and nationwide.

Legalization of cannabis has been an especially popular policy idea in southern states: a Civiqs online opinion poll found that a majority of adults in every Southern state are in favor of marijuana legalization. Cannabis has already long been decriminalized in Mississippi and North Carolina, while Georgia state lawmakers are set to consider cannabis decriminalization as part of the recently introduced Georgia Justice Act. Additionally, Arkansas, Florida, and Louisiana have gone even further by legalizing cannabis for medical purposes. (Virginia currently has a limited medical cannabis law on the books.)

No Criminal Record for Marijuana Possession in Virginia

Steve Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), stated that the Virginia decriminalization law “will save thousands of Virginians from the trauma of arrest and the stigma of a criminal conviction.” The MPP, which is the largest organization in the country dedicated to reforming existing marijuana policies and laws, has advocated for decriminalizing cannabis possession across the U.S. because individuals who get arrested and convicted for marijuana crimes often face difficulties getting hired for jobs, securing housing, and being approved for loans. When marijuana possession is classified as a criminal offense, a conviction can result in the offender being sentenced to jail time and being stuck with a permanent criminal record.

Cannabis Operators Should Contact Scythian Real Estate

Scythian Real Estate is a trusted partner of major cannabis businesses that operate in some of the largest cannabis markets in the United States. Scythian operates a portfolio of cannabis real estate assets with a current value of approximately $40 million.

To learn more about the Scythian Real Estate Fund, email Scythian today.


Hawaii to Allow Sale of Cannabis Edibles

Hawaii Cannabis Edibles
Hawaii Cannabis Edibles

Cannabis-infused edibles may soon be legal in Hawaii after the state legislature passed a bill to allow the sale of edible products in dispensaries. The popularity of cannabis edibles among consumers could provide a significant boost to legal marijuana sales in Hawaii and create new opportunities for cannabis businesses with licenses to operate in the state.

Hawaii Legislators Pass HB 2097 and Allow for Sale of Marijuana Edibles

Hawaii currently has a total of eight (8) medical cannabis licensees, with those approved operators being licensed to sell medical marijuana at dispensaries that meet certain zoning and other legal requirements. Thanks to a new law, the operators may soon be allowed to sell cannabis edibles in addition to other medical cannabis products.

Hawaii created a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program in 2015, established a dispensary system for the legal purchase of medical cannabis in 2016, and began selling medical cannabis at dispensaries in 2017. However, dispensaries were not permitted to sell cannabis edibles such as gummies, cookies, brownies, and chocolate bars. The reluctance of Hawaii lawmakers to allow edible products stemmed from a fear that marijuana-infused candies might appeal to young children and result in some kids accidentally consuming cannabis.

The Hawaii State Legislature recently reconsidered its stance on edible products and officially passed legislation to allow for the sale of cannabinoid-infused edibles at dispensaries in the state. Although the legalization of cannabis edibles for medical use had widespread support among legislators in Hawaii, it was not a foregone conclusion that the bill would pass in 2020. That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic shortened this year’s Hawaii legislative session and made it difficult for state lawmakers to convene and debate the proposed legislation.

HB 2097 Also Authorizes Remediation of Cannabis Products in Hawaii

HB 2097 does more than just legalize cannabis edibles in Hawaii. The bill begins with an introduction that states its three purposes:

  1. Authorizing licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to manufacture and distribute edible cannabis products.
  2. Authorizing the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) to consider processes that may allow cannabis or manufactured cannabis products that fail testing to be remediated. This means that cannabis must meet certain decontamination standards before it can be sold on the consumer market in Hawaii.
  3. Authorizing the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) to allow licensed dispensaries to provide educational and scientific information and to sponsor events related to medical cannabis.

Edibles Offer Alternative Way to Consume Medical Cannabis

Randy Gonce, the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association program director, commented on HB 2097 in a press release and called the law’s passage “a victory for the state’s 30,798 registered medical cannabis patients.” Gonce specifically addressed the introduction of edibles to the Hawaii cannabis market by observing that “coronavirus has prompted more patients to seek ingestible forms of cannabis to replace inhalation due to concerns about lung health.”

The hope among proponents of the new law is that patients who use medical cannabis to treat serious health conditions will benefit greatly from being able to consume edibles instead of smoking or inhaling medical marijuana. The Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association (HCIA), an advocacy group for the state’s legal cannabis industry, praised lawmakers for passing HB 2097 and noted that the law will provide medical cannabis patients with “alternative ways to take their medication other than inhalation.”

When Will Hawaii Consumers Be Able to Buy Cannabis Edibles?

The passage of the edible legislation is not the end of the story. The bill has been sent to the desk of Hawaii Governor David Ige, who will have to decide whether to sign the bill into law or reject it. There is still some question about whether Ige will ultimately approve the bill because he has resisted cannabis policy reform attempts in the past.

The new law is technically supposed to take effect on January 1, 2021, but the Hawaii government has not yet established a timeline for introducing cannabis edibles to dispensaries. If and when the governor signs the bill into law, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) will then need to create rules for how, when, and under what circumstances cannabis edibles can be sold in Hawaii. This must happen before medical marijuana dispensaries can start stocking shelves with edible and drinkable marijuana products because HB 2097 specifically stipulates that edibles can be only manufactured and distributed within the state “under certain conditions.”

What Effect Will Edibles Have on Hawaii’s Cannabis Market?

The legal cannabis market in Hawaii is expected to generate up to $20 million in total sales revenues in 2020. Edible cannabis products could help operators generate even greater revenues by giving consumers in Hawaii even more ways to consume cannabis. This could be especially helpful for medical marijuana patients who have concerns about smoke inhalation or who worry about the potentially harmful effects of vaping. Additionally, many people believe that ingesting cannabis through edibles can create a longer-lasting high for the user. As a result, many Hawaii cannabis operators believe that there will be a high demand for cannabis edibles the moment they are introduced to state-licensed dispensaries.

Contact Scythian Cannabis Real Estate Today

Scythian Real Estate is a full-service real estate partner that provides assistance to cannabis operators who are looking to expand into Hawaii or other thriving U.S. cannabis markets. Scythian already works with some of the country’s largest cannabis operators, including Curaleaf and The Green Solution.

For more information about how Scythian might be able to help your cannabis company, email Scythian Real Estate today.


5 States Vote to Legalize Cannabis in 2020 Election

States Vote to Legalize Cannabis
States Vote to Legalize Cannabis

The 2020 election results brought welcome news for the cannabis industry, with voters in five (5) states approving cannabis ballot measures to legalize the sale of cannabis. As a result, residents in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota could soon have access to marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries. This is an extremely favorable outcome for sophisticated cannabis operators who are looking to expand their reach into new cannabis markets.

Cannabis Legalization Measures Approved in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota

A total of five states had 2020 state ballot initiatives that addressed the legalization of cannabis. Those measures were a resounding success, with all five states voting “yes” and creating new cannabis markets. It will now be legal to purchase cannabis for recreational use in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. This brings the total number of states with legal adult-use cannabis to 15. In addition to legalizing recreational marijuana, voters in South Dakota also voted in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical use. This makes South Dakota the first-ever state to legalize both recreational and medical cannabis at the same time. Meanwhile, voters in Mississippi chose to legalize cannabis for medical use only.

Steve Hawkins, the executive director of the non-profit legal group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), observed that the success of the cannabis ballot initiatives means that approximately one-third of the U.S. population now resides in states where cannabis is legal for recreational use. Hawkins also noted that the legalization of medical-use cannabis in Mississippi and South Dakota means that 70% of all states now allow for medical cannabis sales. Matthew Schweich, deputy director at the MPP, was optimistic that this number will grow in the future and possibly result in federal cannabis legalization: “If we can win in New Jersey, Mississippi, South Dakota, Montana, and Arizona, it’s going to send a really loud message to Congress that it’s time to fix this at the federal level in 2021.”

What Is the Economic Impact of Legal Cannabis in NJ, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, and South Dakota?

It will now be up to the state legislatures in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota to implement the voter-approved laws and create the regulatory structures for legal cannabis sales. Once this happens, experts project that the cannabis markets in these five states could generate more than $2.5 billion in annual revenues by 2024. From that total, New Jersey dispensaries may bring in almost $1 billion annually in recreational cannabis sales, while Arizona dispensaries could reach $760 million in yearly cannabis sales.

The regulated cannabis industry in the United States continues to pay huge returns on investment for cannabis operators, particularly during 2020 when the pandemic forced many other businesses to temporarily close their doors. While states across the country issued shutdown orders for most retail businesses, cannabis dispensaries were allowed to stay open as “essential businesses.” The success of dispensaries in states where cannabis is legal for either recreational or medical use has pumped a lot of money into state and local economies through tax revenues. The expectation among cannabis industry observers is that these trends will continue in municipalities throughout Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota now that cannabis can be legally purchased in those states.

What Does the Future Hold for Cannabis Legalization in the United States?

While most Americans currently have access to legal cannabis in the form of either medical marijuana or recreational marijuana, both the sale and use of cannabis still remain illegal at the federal level. The hope among cannabis legal reform advocates was that Democrats might take control of the U.S. Senate in the 2020 election, but it appears that Republicans could maintain a majority. Continued GOP control of the Senate likely means that it will be at least two (2) more years before there are any serious efforts to legalize cannabis federally.

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This federal law defines marijuana in the same category as other substances with “a high potential for abuse,” including heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Although the reclassification of marijuana might not happen anytime soon, there is growing optimism that more and more states will legalize cannabis in the years ahead. For instance, the legalization of pot in New Jersey could prompt New York and Pennsylvania, New Jersey’s neighboring states in the Tri-State Area, to pursue cannabis legalization efforts of their own – particularly once lawmakers and residents in those states see the tax revenues that are generated by legal cannabis sales in the Garden State.

Contact Scythian Cannabis Real Estate

Scythian Real Estate is a full-service real estate partner to some of the largest and most successful cannabis operators in the country, including The Green Solution and Curaleaf. If you are a cannabis operator looking to expand into a new cannabis market, or if you are a cannabis operator in need of capital funding, Scythian may be able to help. Email us today.


Montana Cannabis Legalization on Ballot

Montana Marijuana Ballot Measures
Montana Marijuana Ballot Measures

An effort to get two cannabis legalization measures on the ballot in Montana has succeeded. As a result, Montana voters will have the opportunity to weigh in this November on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use within state borders. What could this mean for cannabis companies who already operate medical marijuana dispensaries in Montana? Read on to learn more.

Campaign Secures Signatures to Get Cannabis Legalization on Montana Ballot

Medical cannabis is already legal in Montana, but now it appears that recreational cannabis could soon be legal in Montana as well. That’s because organizers of an effort to get cannabis legalization measures on the ballot in November 2020 were able to submit more than 130,000 signatures before the deadline.

The attempts to secure the required signatures in support of the Montana recreational cannabis legalization measures were made more difficult than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to social distancing guidelines, organizers had to work incredibly hard just to reach potential supporters. The difficulties posed by coronavirus-related social distancing requirements were magnified by a Montana court ruling in April that prevented the campaign from using electronic signatures.

Ultimately, despite the impediments, campaigners behind the effort to put the cannabis legalization measures on the Montana ballot succeeded. New Approach Montana submitted more than 130,000 signatures in July, but the group had to wait for state and local officials to verify the signatures. Now the signatures have been verified by county officials. Once the Montana Secretary of State’s Office officially certifies the signatures, Montana residents will be allowed to vote on the adult-use marijuana legalization measures in the upcoming election.

Montana Residents Will Vote on Recreational Marijuana Legalization

Two complementary cannabis legalization initiatives will appear on the 2020 ballot:

  • Statutory Initiative 190 (I-190): This ballot measure would create a system for regulating and taxing recreational cannabis sales in Montana. The statutory measure specifically calls for a 20% sales tax on marijuana sold at dispensaries.
  • Constitutional Initiative 118 (CI-118): This ballot measure would amend the Montana Constitution by setting the legal age for marijuana consumption in Montana at 21. In other words, cannabis operators in Montana would be prohibited from selling recreational marijuana to anyone under the age of 21.

After it was announced that the signatures had been verified and that Montana voters will get to cast votes on whether to legalize cannabis for recreational use, New Approach Montana issued a statement online. The group noted the incredible odds that they overcame and emphasized that their work was not yet done: “Now, we are focused on building support with voters from across the state.” In an email sent to supporters, New Approach Montana added that the group faces a fundraising problem because so much money needed to be spent on the signature drive due to the added difficulties of obtaining a massive number of signatures during a pandemic. Although it is unclear at this time if the Montana ballot measures will be successful, the popularity of recreational cannabis measures nationwide continues to grow: polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

Additional Tax Revenues Expected from Cannabis Legalization in Montana

Dave Lewis, a former Montana state legislator, noted that the legalization of marijuana for recreational use could provide a huge boost to the Montana state budget. This would be particularly helpful for the state after the economic shutdown caused by COVID-19. According to Lewis, legalizing adult-use cannabis would add almost $50 million annually to the Montana budget. Similarly, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) estimated that the new laws in Montana would generate nearly $130 million in tax revenues for the state in just the first five (5) years.

Lewis added that these additional revenues are “vital to the future budget” of the state because projected tax revenues for 2020 and 2021 are expected to be significantly reduced from previous years, with many important services likely struggling to survive without state funding. These services in need of funding include veterans’ services, substance abuse treatment programs, and healthcare.

Contact Scythian for Information on Cannabis Real Estate Opportunities

Scythian Real Estate is a full-service real estate partner of the largest cannabis operators in the United States. Scythian provides cannabis companies with access to capital, resources, and expertise. To learn more, email Scythian Real Estate.


When Will Mexico Legalize Marijuana?

Mexico Marijuana Legalization
Mexico Marijuana Legalization

There is growing expectation that Mexico will eventually legalize marijuana for recreational use, allowing the country to enter the legal weed market and start generating significant revenues. When this does finally happen, sophisticated cannabis operators will surely flock south of the border to open dispensaries and savvy investors may take a long, hard look at cannabis real estate investing options in Mexico. But recent developments indicate that it still might be a while before Mexico makes it legal for residents to purchase recreational cannabis.

Recreational Marijuana and Medical Marijuana Legal in Many Countries

Medical marijuana is currently legal in dozens of countries, but just two countries have legalized recreational marijuana: Uruguay in 2013 and Canada in 2018. A number of U.S. states and territories have legalized cannabis for recreational use, but the vast majority of states still prohibit recreational cannabis sales. While many countries have already legalized medical cannabis, the legalization of recreational cannabis in these countries has taken a bit more time. This is an important distinction because the need to wait for a physician’s prescription is still a major inhibitor on legal cannabis sales.

One of the driving forces behind the push to legalize cannabis for recreational use in Mexico and other nations around the globe is that recreational marijuana sales provide a huge boost to national economies. In the United States, the states that have legalized recreational marijuana have already seen the positive effects it can have on their local economies. For instance, Colorado recently set an all-time record for legal cannabis revenue in a single month, which means more tax dollars for the state.

Global Cannabis Market Is Booming

Global sales of marijuana have more than tripled since 2014, when several U.S. states first started to legalize cannabis for recreational use. In 2018, worldwide sales of cannabis totaled nearly $11 billion. This figure is expected to reach as high as $50 billion annually by 2030, with a large percentage of legal weed sales and the bulk of retail marijuana revenue coming from the United States and Canada.

One North American country that is not yet generating legal cannabis revenue is Mexico. That’s because Mexico has yet to legalize marijuana for recreational use. But there is a belief among many industry observers that Mexico will be the next country to legalize recreational cannabis.

How Long Before Mexico Legalizes Recreational Cannabis?

In 2018, the Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the government could not ban the possession or use of marijuana because doing so would be a violation of the Mexican constitution. This was actually the fifth time that the highest court in Mexico had issued such a ruling in favor of recreational cannabis. But this did not mean that retail dispensaries could start opening across the country and selling cannabis and cannabis-related products. First, Mexican lawmakers would have to pass legislation for the regulation of the cannabis industry within the country’s borders.

Unfortunately for cannabis operators looking to establish a presence south of the border, legislators have taken their time crafting the legislation required to create a legal cannabis market in Mexico. The Mexico Supreme Court sensed that the legal framework would not be finished before an October 2019 deadline, so the court extended the deadline to the end of April 2020. Now, once again, the Mexican Supreme Court has extended the deadline for legalizing recreational cannabis in the country: lawmakers now have until December 15, 2020 to officially end the prohibition of recreational cannabis in Mexico. This extension was deemed necessary because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down many businesses in Mexico and limited the ability of legislators to convene.

What Will the Mexican Cannabis Market Look Like After Legalization?

Cannabis retail operators will likely be very interested in exactly what shape the finalized legislative proposal looks like when Mexican lawmakers eventually get around to passing a law to legalize recreational marijuana. Some of the most important aspects of any cannabis law are likely to include:

  • Possession of small amounts of marijuana will be decriminalized.
  • Adults who are 18 years and older will be legally allowed to purchase cannabis for personal use.
  • Adults will also be able to cultivate cannabis for personal use, with certain limitations on the number of registered marijuana plants and the weight of marijuana yield annually.
  • Cannabis businesses will be able to apply for licenses to sell marijuana in retail dispensaries. These cannabis business licenses would be issued by the Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis.
  • Cannabis sold at Mexican dispensaries would be subject to taxation at a rate of 12%.

Certain other aspects of cannabis legalization in Mexico remain unclear. For instance, it has not yet been determined whether marijuana edibles and marijuana-infused drinks will be legalized as well.

Contact Scythian Cannabis Real Estate

Although recreational marijuana is not yet legal in Mexico, it is legal in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and several other states in the U.S. Scythian Real Estate is a full-service real estate partner to some of the biggest cannabis operators in the United States. Scythian also manages a growing real estate portfolio focused primarily on retail marijuana dispensaries. For more information, email Scythian Real Estate today.


Majority of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana Legalization
Marijuana Legalization

The overwhelming majority of Americans support nationwide legalization of cannabis. The results of a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center indicate that approximately 66% of U.S. residents believe that the use of marijuana should be legal for both recreational and medical purposes. The strong support for marijuana legalization in the United States bodes well for cannabis operators who are looking to expand to new geographical areas, as well as forward-thinking investors in the cannabis real estate market.

Increasing Support for Legalizing Cannabis in the United States

An increasing number of Americans have voiced support for legalizing cannabis over the last two decades. The recent survey results showing that two-thirds of Americans want the federal government to make cannabis use legal continues a trend: while nearly 66% of Americans opposed cannabis legalization in 2000 and roughly 50% opposed marijuana legalization in 2010, the number opposing legalization has fallen to just 32% today.

The most recent survey was conducted as part of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, which is a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults. The survey found that while one-third of U.S. residents still do not believe that cannabis should be legal for recreational purposes, more than 90% of Americans believe that cannabis should at least be legal for medical purposes. Moreover, the strong support for cannabis legalization efforts goes well beyond active users of cannabis: just 48% of American adults indicate ever having tried marijuana.

Impact of Politics on Federal Cannabis Legalization Efforts

As might be expected, there is a partisan divide when it comes to legalizing marijuana in the United States. The Pew survey found that 78% of self-identified Democrats think that cannabis should be legal, while just 55% of self-identified Republicans want cannabis to be made legal across the country. Interestingly, the partisan divide shrinks considerably when factoring in generational differences: 71% of Millennial Republicans support marijuana legalization, as compared to 78% of Millennial Democrats.

The differences and similarities between the country’s two main political parties when it comes to endorsing pot legalization efforts gives some indication of how important the upcoming 2020 presidential election could be for legalization measures in various states. Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) have legalized cannabis for recreational use, while 33 states have legalized cannabis for medical use.

Under federal law, marijuana is still illegal. Depending on who is elected president in November – Donald Trump or Joe Biden – it is possible that more states could push to legalize cannabis for recreational and/or medical use in the next four years. This would likely have significant consequences for the cannabis industry as a whole. It would also be of particular importance to cannabis retail operators and cannabis investors who would no doubt look to take advantage of opportunities to enter new markets.

Contact Scythian for Information on Cannabis Real Estate Opportunities

Scythian Real Estate is a trusted real estate partner of cannabis operators in several states, including Colorado, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Scythian specializes in sale-leaseback opportunities with sophisticated operators and is continuing to build its acquisition pipeline across the country. These acquisitions are currently valued at around $40 million, with 19 assets under management. For additional information about cannabis real estate, email Scythian Real Estate.


NY Protects Medical Marijuana Patients from Eviction

NY Cannabis Eviction Law
NY Cannabis Eviction Law

The New York State Senate recently passed a bill that will prevent landlords from evicting tenants because of medical marijuana use. The legislation specifically ensures that tenants who lawfully use medical cannabis are shielded from eviction proceedings in New York. What could the new eviction law mean for cannabis operators who are looking to make inroads in NY’s medical cannabis market?

New York Law to Protect Medical Cannabis Patients Gets Bipartisan Support

The NY eviction bill was sponsored by Democratic Senator Anna Kaplan, who represents New York’s 7th State Senate district that runs from the North Shore to Western Nassau County in Long Island. (The three co-sponsors of the bill were also Democratic state senators: Robert Jackson, Brian Kavanagh, and John C. Liu.) The legislation received overwhelming bipartisan support, with 58 senators voting in favor of it and just two (2) senators voting against it.

NY lawmakers determined that the legislation was necessary after a 78-year-old Niagara Falls man was evicted by a private landlord from his federally subsidized housing for using medical cannabis to treat chronic pain. The justification for the eviction was that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a strict policy of evicting anyone caught using marijuana on the premises. That policy is in line with federal law that prohibits the use of marijuana for either recreational or medical purposes; however, it does not match the state law in New York that allows for the use of marijuana by patients with a valid prescription.

After a Region II administrator with HUD went to social media to issue a statement about NY state law being at odds with federal law, the landlord in Niagara Falls rescinded the eviction decision. But the possibility remained that more tenants in New York could face eviction proceedings and other legal consequences in the future due to the lack of clarity regarding differing state and federal laws on medical cannabis use. Members of the New York State Senate feared that more NY residents could potentially be forced out of their homes by landlords who want to make sure that they comply with the federal prohibition of all marijuana.

Conflict Between NY Law and Federal Law on Medical Marijuana

Under NY state law, it is lawful for a person with a qualified medical condition and a valid prescription from a licensed physician to obtain medical cannabis. The law to end the prohibition against medical marijuana in New York was passed as part of the Compassionate Care Act in 2014. The New York State Department of Health subsequently implemented the NY Medical Marijuana Program, which allows for the use of medical cannabis to treat certain qualifying conditions, such as cancer, chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. There are safeguards in place to ensure that only individuals with qualifying medical conditions can legally obtain cannabis in New York.

But individuals who legally use medical marijuana in New York still face potential legal consequences because federal law continues to ban marijuana. That is why NY legislators stepped in. The legislation amends the NY real property actions and proceedings law by adding a new section. This new section in the real property law makes it clear that individuals who use medical marijuana cannot be evicted from their homes solely on the basis of using the doctor-prescribed cannabis by stipulating that “a tenant shall not be removed from a residential unit because of their certified medical use of marijuana.”

A landlord who wishes to evict a tenant on grounds other than medical marijuana use will still be able to do so. That’s because the new law provides landlords with a rebuttable defense that allows them to show that they are seeking to recover possession of a residential unit on some other lawful ground.

What Are the Next Steps for Recreational Cannabis Legalization in NY?

After passing in the NY State Senate, the medical marijuana eviction bill was sent to the New York State Assembly and then referred to the Assembly Housing Committee.

New York legislators have tried for years to get recreational cannabis use legalized in the state. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo has put an adult-use cannabis legalization provision in his budget over the last two years. Now those efforts are picking up steam as some progressive advocates argue that legalizing marijuana could be an important component of police reform efforts in New York.

Contact Scythian Cannabis Real Estate Today

Scythian Real Estate is a trusted partner of multiple cannabis companies operating in both recreational marijuana states and medical marijuana states throughout the U.S. Scythian has leveraged the expertise and experience of its executive team to build a strong portfolio of cannabis real estate assets valued at roughly $40 million.

For information about the Scythian Real Estate Fund, send an email today.


Recreational Cannabis Not on North Dakota Ballot

North Dakota Cannabis Ballot Measure
North Dakota Cannabis Ballot Measure

Voters in North Dakota will not have the opportunity to support the legalization of recreational cannabis in the upcoming election. That’s because a constitutional measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana failed to receive enough signatures. As a result, it will likely be at least two (2) more years before North Dakotans are able to legally purchase cannabis from dispensaries for recreational use. What does this mean for cannabis companies looking to expand their retail cannabis operations into North Dakota?

Not Enough Support for the North Dakota Freedom of Cannabis Act

The North Dakota Freedom of Cannabis Act would have made it legal for cannabis operators to sell marijuana for recreational use to adults over the age of 21. The ballot measure had been in the works for more than a year as the North Dakota Cannabis Caucus, a grassroots group, worked hard to secure enough signatures to get the cannabis legalization measure on the ballot in November 2020. But now the initiative appears to be dead, with the deadline for obtaining the necessary signatures having passed.

A second recreational cannabis measure, supported by a group called Legalize ND, also failed to garner enough signatures to qualify for the upcoming election ballot in North Dakota.

COVID-19 Hinders Efforts to Collect Signatures for North Dakota Pot Legalization Measure

Under state law, the North Dakota Cannabis Caucus needed at least 27,000 people to submit valid signatures in order to allow North Dakota voters to have a say in the upcoming election on whether to legalize pot for recreational purposes. When all was said and done, however, only around 24,000 signatures were accounted for and submitted to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office.

Jody Vetter, the chairperson of the group pushing to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota, had expressed optimism about getting enough signatures to qualify for the upcoming election ballot. Unfortunately for proponents of recreational cannabis legalization in North Dakota, the coronavirus pandemic made it extremely difficult to gather signatures due to shutdown orders and social distancing requirements. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Dakota Cannabis Caucus had been able to stage public rallies in Bismarck and other major ND cities in support of recreational pot legalization. In the end, Vetter observed, the pandemic “really did put a damper” on the group’s signature collecting efforts.

What’s Next for Recreational Marijuana Legalization in North Dakota?

The next step for proponents of the North Dakota Freedom of Cannabis Act is to attempt to gather enough signatures for the next statewide election in November 2022. If the group is successful this time around, North Dakota residents would finally have the opportunity to vote on whether to legalize the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

In addition to making it legal for North Dakota dispensaries to sell cannabis for recreational purposes, the ballot initiative would also allow North Dakota residents to grow marijuana plants at home, so long as the plants are not used for public consumption and there are not too many cannabis plants being grown in one place.

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

Medical cannabis is already legal in North Dakota, with several dispensaries providing North Dakotans with access to marijuana after first having obtained a prescription from a physician. Two of these dispensaries were recently acquired by Scythian Real Estate, which subsequently leased the properties back to Grassroots Cannabis for operation under the Herbology name.

Scythian Real Estate is an established cannabis real estate business that partners with sophisticated cannabis operators who want access to capital. Two of Scythian’s current cannabis company partners are The Green Solution and Grassroots Cannabis. If you are a cannabis company thinking about expanding operations, email Scythian today.


U.S. Congress Says Military Can Use CBD

Military & CBD Hemp
Military & CBD Hemp

Members of the United States military are now allowed to use CBD after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure to end the ban on hemp products for anyone serving in the Armed Forces. This means that U.S. troops can now use hemp products and hemp derivatives without fear of being arrested or discharged from the military. What could this news mean for the cannabis market, cannabis companies, and cannabis investors?

CBD-Based Hemp Products Can Now Be Used by Active Duty Troops

CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is one of the active ingredients in cannabis. Hemp has a high concentration of cannabidiol and a low concentration of THC, which differentiates hemp from cannabis. Many retail dispensaries sell CBD hemp flower and buds in a variety of different strains and flavors.

As a result of the recent legislation passed by Congress, active duty U.S. service members and U.S. military veterans will now be able to use hemp-based CBD products without fear of arrest or prosecution. As set forth by the new law, the U.S. Secretary of Defense cannot prohibit “the possession, use, or consumption” of hemp or any ingredient derived from hemp by anyone currently serving in the military or by military veterans. Previously, the Pentagon had continued to enforce a policy that restricted use of hemp by active duty soldiers despite hemp CBD being declared legal by the 2018 Farm Bill.

There are some restrictions in the new law, which was one of several amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation approved by Congress stipulates that the possession, use, and consumption of any hemp-derived products by members of the Armed Forces must meet federal standards and be “in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and local law.”

Bipartisan Support for Law Allowing CBD and Hemp Use by U.S. Troops

The house measure to allow U.S. troops to use CBD was overwhelmingly approved with bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats: the final vote was 336 to 71 in favor of the legislation.

The law was spearheaded by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who recently ran for President as a member of the Democratic Party and who is a U.S. military veteran. Gabbard suspended her presidential campaign in March 2020, but she remains a sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives. As a member of the House, Gabbard has long been an advocate for the hemp industry. For instance, Gabbard previously introduced the Hemp for Victory Act to call for research into the different applications of hemp and how hemp products might be used by Americans in their daily lives.

Contact Scythian for Information on Cannabis Real Estate Investing

Scythian Real Estate is a trusted third-party landlord and real estate partner to well-capitalized cannabis companies, with an executive team that boasts 50 years of collective real estate and investment experience. In addition to partnering with nationally recognized cannabis operators, Scythian also manages a cannabis real estate investment portfolio with a current value of around $40 million.

To learn about the Scythian Real Estate Fund, send us an email today.


The 2020 Election and the Cannabis Industry

2020 Election & Cannabis Legalization
2020 Election & Cannabis Legalization

A lot of cannabis operators are paying close attention to the upcoming 2020 presidential election because the outcome could have a major impact on the U.S. cannabis retail market. Depending on who is elected president, there could be a push to legalize marijuana at the federal level.

Trump or Biden: Who Is More Likely to Legalize Cannabis Across the United States?

It is expected that the Democratic Party will nominate former Vice President Joe Biden as its presidential candidate, while the Republican Party is likely to officially nominate incumbent Donald Trump for re-election to a second term as president. As one might expect, there are a number of significant policy differences between the two candidates. Just one example: Biden has expressed clear support for the Affordable Care Act that he and former president Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, while Trump has continually tried to repeal Obamacare during his first term. Other examples of strong policy differences between Biden and Trump include immigration, climate change, tax policy, and social justice issues. Surprisingly, the two candidates do seem to be aligned on at least one policy matter: marijuana legalization.

Roughly two-thirds of the American public is in favor of legalizing cannabis for recreational use, according to an October 2019 Gallup poll. This number is up nearly 50% from just 10 years ago. Despite the widespread support for pot legalization, however, there has been a reluctance from federal lawmakers to back any measure perceived as endorsing increased drug use of any kind. Interestingly, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden appear to be opposed to legalizing cannabis federally.

What Would President Biden Mean for Federal Marijuana Laws?

On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, voters across the country will cast their ballots in the presidential election, as well as state and local races. (Many voters are also expected to vote early through mail-in voting.) Some states have cannabis legalization measures on the ballot: New Jersey and South Dakota voters will weigh whether to legalize recreational marijuana, Mississippi voters will consider whether to make medical marijuana legal, and Oregon is set to vote on whether to decriminalize all drugs. Other states, such as Arizona, Idaho, and Montana, may have pot legalization measures on the ballot as well, depending the outcomes of pending court cases.

In the long term, the choice of president in the upcoming election could have the greatest effect on the cannabis industry. Although neither Trump nor Biden seems likely to push to legalize cannabis in the U.S. any time soon, it is possible that a President Biden might come around on the issue because it is what his supporters want. A recent poll found that 76% of Democrats strongly favor the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, as compared to just 51% of Republicans. At a minimum, the election of Joe Biden would probably signal that federal enforcement of laws against marijuana possession would not be increased. And if the recommendations of a recent Joe Biden-Bernie Sanders task force become law, medical marijuana would be legalized nationwide.

It is also possible that cannabis could be decriminalized at the federal level if Joe Biden wins the November election. This is something that Biden has voiced support for in the past and that the Biden-Sanders task force made a point to include in the 110-page document submitted to the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee. So, what would decriminalization actually mean? While marijuana distribution would still not be legal, minor possession offenses would no longer result in prison time for offenders. This could provide a big boost to the retail cannabis industry in states where marijuana has already been legalized for recreational and/or medical use.

Impact of 2020 Election on Cannabis Real Estate and Financing

A win for expected Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the November election could also profoundly affect the cannabis industry by leading to banking reform. Currently, cannabis companies have a difficult time accessing capital because banks are reluctant to provide financing to businesses that technically violate federal law. In order to get the funds needed to operate their retail dispensaries and cultivation sites, many cannabis operators enter into sale-leaseback agreements in which they sell their real estate to an investment fund and then lease back the property from the investment fund. The 2020 presidential election might change the way that cannabis operators do business in the future.

Cannabis Investing After the 2020 Election

The country could look much different in January 2021 than it does right now. If a new president is sworn in at that time, the cannabis industry could also look much different. What kind of effect will this have on cannabis operators? Could cannabis investors see a greater opportunity for strong financial returns after the upcoming presidential election?

Contact Scythian for Information About Cannabis Real Estate Investment Opportunities

Scythian Real Estate is a trusted real estate partner of cannabis operators that are interested in accessing capital through sale-leaseback deals. Scythian currently owns 19 cannabis properties spread across several states, including Colorado, Pennsylvania, and North Dakota – with an acquisition pipeline that is expected to continue growing the fund’s portfolio. To learn more, email Scythian Real Estate today.