New York will allow medical cannabis chewables, fizzy tablets and topicals

Other changes include a short training program for doctors

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state is making more changes to its medical marijuana program.

Health officials announced new regulations Thursday that will permit new forms of the drug, including chewable and effervescent tablets and lozenges as well as topical lotions, ointments and patches.

The state also plans to create a new, shorter training program for physicians interested in authorizing medical marijuana for patients.

New York has one of the nation’s more conservative medical cannabis programs, and smokeable marijuana still isn’t allowed. But officials say they’re continuing to look for ways to tinker with the rules to make it easier for patients to get the help they need.

The new regulations are expected to take effect next month.

As of Tuesday there were 26,561 patients authorized to obtain medical marijuana in the state.


Colorado marijuana sales top $750 million at 2017 midpoint

Cannabis sales through June 2017 are up 25.7 percent compared with the first half of 2016, The Cannabist's calculations show.

Halfway through 2017, Colorado’s marijuana retailers amassed more than $750 million in sales, according to The Cannabist’s extrapolations of the latest tax data released by the state.

Covering both the medical and adult-use markets, the sales of flower, edibles and concentrates through June 2017 are up 25.7 percent compared with the first half of 2016, The Cannabist’s calculations show.

The cumulative sales made through June equate to nearly $116 million in tax revenue and license fees for the state.

The Colorado Department of Revenue on Thursday published the report for marijuana sales and excise taxes remitted in July. The receipts largely reflect sales made in June, but could include some variance based on incomplete or late returns from prior months.

Barring any major variance in returns, June appears to have been a near-record month for Colorado’s marijuana shops, with $131.65 million in total sales. That would trail the high of $131.69 million set earlier this year in March, but extends the streak of $100 million monthly sales to 13 months.

Adult-use transactions accounted for $95.54 million, or more than 72 percent, of June’s sales. The $36.11 million of medical marijuana products sold remains in line with the monthly averages for 2016 and 2017.

As Colorado’s marijuana industry continues to mature, the annual growth rates are expected to slowly ratchet down, analysts have said.

Bethany Gomez, director of research for cannabis market research firm Brightfield Group, told The Cannabist last month:

“What you’re seeing in Colorado is similar to other industries, we’re starting to see lower double-digit growth rates, rather than the triple-digit growth rates.

“That time of massive growth expansion in Colorado, I think, is over.”


Sales stats for Colorado weed
A month-by-month look comparing sales of recreational and medical marijuana, as calculated by The Cannabist:


2017 Recreational total (6 months)
2017 Medical total (6 months)
2017: $751,273,544
2016 Recreational total (12 months)
2016 Medical total (12 months)
2016: $1,313,156,545



Big change: Nevada to start handing out weed distribution licenses beyond liquor wholesalers

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nevada’s marijuana regulators have decided to start issuing cannabis distribution licenses to businesses other than liquor wholesalers to keep up with overwhelming demand since legal recreational sales began July 1.

The Nevada Department of Taxation voted Thursday to open up the market previously limited to liquor distributors under the state ballot measure voters approved in November.

Department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said they’ll begin reviewing about 80 applications they received in May from other businesses.

Tax officials previously tried to open the distribution process to medical dispensaries, but liquor wholesalers argued in court that violated state law.

A Carson City judge sided with the wholesalers, saying the state needed to establish formal criteria to determine if there aren’t enough distributors to do the job.

The state tax commission approved an emergency regulation last month intended to meet the judge’s concerns.


First Hawaii medical marijuana dispensary just opened after 17-year wait for patients

Maui Grown Therapies is the first Hawaii medical marijuana dispensary to open its doors; the state was among first to legalize MMJ back in 2000

HONOLULU — Dispensary sales of medical marijuana in Hawaii are beginning after patients waited 17 years for a legal way to purchase the drug.

Maui Grown Therapies received approval from the Department of Health to begin selling medical cannabis Tuesday.

The dispensary sold medical marijuana to patients for two hours Tuesday, limiting their hours to help manage the new process, said Teri Freitas Gorman, director of community relations and patient affairs.

“Clearly this is a historic day not just for Maui but for the state of Hawaii,” Freitas Gorman said. “This is the first time in Hawaii that patients will be able to buy lab-tested, quality-assured medical cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary. We’re so excited.”

The Maui dispensary pre-registered patients and began selling medical cannabis to patients by appointment only. They made 22 transactions and there were some software glitches, but patients were very excited, Freitas Gorman said. Marijuana was sold for $20 per gram and $90 to $125 for a quarter-ounce, depending on the strain. Walk-in sales will start in about a week.

“This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use,” said Virginia Pressler, director of the state Department of Health, in a statement. “Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception.”

Hawaii was among the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2000. But the state didn’t legalize dispensaries until 2015, so the state’s 18,000 patients had to grow or obtain the drug on their own.

Hawaii granted licenses to eight medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the Hawaiian islands last year. Several dispensaries began growing and harvesting the product, but they were unable to sell it because until recently the state had not certified a lab.

Honolulu-based dispensary Aloha Green was inspected Tuesday by the Department of Health and later announced it would open for sales Wednesday.

The dispensary says the price will include costs unique to Hawaii, including high electricity prices, lab testing, substantial taxes and a delay in sales for over a year.


Colorado lawmaker calls Sessions’ marijuana policy letters a “political ploy”

Colorado Rep. Dan Pabon suggested the Trump administration is skewing statistics to exaggerate the problems in Colorado when it comes to youth use and crime

BOSTON — A leading Colorado lawmaker dismissed a recent letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that expressed concerns about the state’s marijuana industry, calling it a “political ploy.”

State Rep. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat, suggested the Trump administration is skewing statistics to exaggerate the problems in Colorado when it comes to youth use and crime.

His remarks came at a forum on marijuana legalization at the National Conference of State Legislatures summit in Boston, where lawmakers and experts appeared undeterred by the tough talk from Sessions.

Related: NCSL endorses descheduling of cannabis with eye on banking

Sessions’ letter, addressed to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, was one of four written to the governors of states that have laws regulating adult-use cannabis sales. Along with Hickenlooper, the governors of Washington, Oregon and Alaska wrote a letter to Sessions in April, asking him to “engage with us before embarking on any changes to regulatory and enforcement systems.”

Sessions is “trying to do what he feels like he needs to do to demonstrate the administration’s position of cracking down on marijuana,” said Pabon, a chief sponsor of the legislation enacted in Colorado after recreational sales were approved by voters in 2012.

Maine state Rep. Teresa Pierce, a Colorado native, said she remains focused on implementing legal recreational marijuana approved by voters in her state in 2016.

“To worry about what-ifs while we were trying to get our own system up and going, it felt like that was not good energy to spend,” said Pierce, who recently visited Colorado with a delegation of lawmakers to study the state’s system. “Obviously if things change, we’ll have to adjust course. But at this point, who knows what will happen.”

Jordan Wellington, an attorney at Denver cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, told dozens of lawmakers from other states at the forum that the statistics about Colorado’s experience do not match what the Department of Justice claims in the letter. And he urged others states not to be deterred.

“Don’t allow a group of people who have their minds made up before they look at an issue to control the data … to control the narrative,” said Wellington, a former Colorado marijuana regulator who now consults for the industry.

In the panel discussion, Pabon said Colorado is “certainly ready and willing and able” to discuss better policies to prevent marijuana from reaching children and how to address the black market. But he didn’t consider Sessions’ letter as a genuine effort to work with state lawmakers.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult-use cannabis.

Earlier in the week, state lawmakers approved a resolution for the second year in a row urging the administration to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act in order to allow the cannabis industry access to banking services.