U.S. Rep Polis predicts medical cannabis safeguard will get OK

Colorado Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, one of the four founding members of the Cannabis Caucus, said during a panel discussion Tuesday in Denver he believes the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment – which protects medical marijuana businesses from the Department of Justice – will be renewed and remain in federal law.

Polis was one of 44 representatives who recently urged that language from the amendment be included in the base bill for the appropriations process to fund the entire federal government. The base bill…

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Sessions: DOJ task force will analyze marijuana enforcement

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the formation of a new task force subcommittee that will focus, at least in part, on marijuana enforcement policies.

The subcommittee – part of the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety – will tackle “a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the (Department of Justice’s) overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and policies,”

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Pressure builds for Trump to maintain marijuana status quo

President Donald Trump is getting increasing pressure – from his circle of advisers and beyond – to maintain the current status quo when it comes to the cannabis industry.

The governors of the first four states to legalize recreational cannabis on Monday sent Trump a letter urging him to confer with them before announcing any major changes in federal marijuana policy.


Mirth Provisions
The governors – Alaska’s Bill Walker, Colorado’s John Hickenlooper, Oregon’s Kate Brown and Washington’s Jay…

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Report: DOJ gathering intel on state marijuana cases

The Department of Justice is apparently gathering information from at least the Colorado attorney general’s office regarding criminal marijuana investigations.

A records request filed with the DOJ by the International Business Times yielded an email from a Drug Enforcement Administration official to Michael Melito, a lawyer with the Colorado attorney general’s office, in which the DEA agent requested information about specific Colorado cannabis cases.


Mirth Provisions
“Some of our intel people are…

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Week in Review: Pro-cannabis bills in Congress, Canada rec legalization & Ohio’s testing plans

By John Schroyer, Omar Sacirbey and Bart Schaneman

Federal lawmakers introduce a slew of pro-marijuana bills, Canada eyes legalizing adult-use cannabis by July 2018, and concerns crop up over a little-known provision in Ohio’s MMJ law.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Congress tries again

Thursday’s news that seven bills were introduced in Congress to reform national cannabis laws was greeted with exultation from many in the…

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Seven pro-marijuana bills introduced Thursday in Congress

Seven pro-marijuana industry bills were announced Thursday morning by a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers in the House and Senate, suggesting that 2017 may be the year real reform gets through the Capitol.

The sponsors range from longtime marijuana industry allies such as Oregon Democrat U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer to newcomers to the cause such as Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Three bills were introduced in the Senate, along with four more in the House. In the upper chamber,…

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New cannabis advocacy group aims to sway federal government

A group of cannabis companies has banded together to form a nonprofit political advocacy group designed to protect the legal marijuana trade – and it includes the unit of a major mainstream company that is a relative newcomer to the MJ industry.

The organization, called the New Federalism Fund (NFF), is made up of industry heavy hitters that include:

  • Scotts Company LLC, a subsidiary of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., a lawn and garden company that has been investing heavily in the cannabis…

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AG Sessions signals no major federal marijuana crackdown

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday again criticized marijuana while also signaling that the Department of Justice under his leadership won’t launch a wide-ranging crackdown on cannabis businesses.

Speaking with reporters after a speech in Virginia, Sessions said “much of” the 2013 Cole Memo – which laid the groundwork for the adult-use marijuana industry as it exists today in the United States – is “valid.” But he also suggested some additional federal guidelines may be coming from the U.S….

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Week in Review: Canada’s tainted MMJ, tribal grow operation & DOJ policies

By Omar Sacirbey, Bart Schaneman and John Schroyer

Canadian cultivators are unable to find the source of pesticide-contaminated medical marijuana, a giant MJ greenhouse is planned for tribal land, and Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department will enact “reasonable policies” on cannabis.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Contaminated MMJ repercussions

Will the brouhaha surrounding pesticide-contaminated medical marijuana in Canada produce fallout for the nation’s federally…

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Colorado AG invites Sessions to check out rec MJ industry

Colorado’s top law enforcement official extended an invitation to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take a tour of the state’s recreational marijuana industry.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman made the invitation Wednesday morning during a meeting with top Justice Department staff, the Denver Post reported.


Spring 2017 MJBizCon
She told them “it was important to come to the states that have legalized marijuana – particularly Colorado since we have the longest history – and to see what we have done,” according to the Post. “They…

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Sessions: DOJ will adopt ‘responsible policies’ on marijuana

In his first public remarks about marijuana since being confirmed as U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions told reporters on Monday that his Department of Justice will strive to find “responsible policies” regarding the enforcement of federal cannabis laws.

According to the Associated Press, Sessions – who was a vocal marijuana critic as a U.S. senator before being chosen as President Donald Trump’s attorney general – added that he doesn’t believe the United States would be better off with “more people smoking pot.”


Spring 2017 MJBizCon
“I am…

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White House press secretary’s full comments on cannabis

Asked twice by reporters on Thursday about the Trump administration’s approach to the legal marijuana industry, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had the following response.

When initially asked about the disconnect between federal law and state medical marijuana laws, Spicer replied:

“There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. I think, medical marijuana, I’ve said before, that the president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing, especially terminal…

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White House press secretary predicts ‘greater enforcement’ on recreational marijuana

By John Schroyer

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday said there will likely be increased federal enforcement on recreational marijuana businesses.

“I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it,” Spicer said in response to a question about whether the Department of Justice will enforce federal marijuana laws.

It was the Trump administration’s first public comment on the nation’s marijuana industry, and it comes as a growing number of states have legalized both recreational and medical cannabis.

Spicer sought to…

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Congressional Cannabis Caucus touches on agenda

The first Congressional Cannabis Caucus officially launched Thursday in Washington DC, with four bipartisan lawmakers asserting that their agenda includes protecting state cannabis laws from federal interference as well as reforming 280E of the tax code and cannabis banking laws.

They even hope to remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances.

The caucus, announced in December, currently is composed of just four House members: Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). But…

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MJ advocacy group celebrates win over DEA ‘misinformation’

Americans for Safe Access claimed partial victory over the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration when it announced the federal agency had removed “factually inaccurate information” and “damaging misinformation” regarding cannabis from its website.

The DEA removed information from its site that included “claims that cannabis was a gateway drug, caused irreversible cognitive decline in adults, and contributed to psychosis and lung cancer,” according to a news release Monday by ASA, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting medical…

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U.S. Senate confirms cannabis critic Jeff Sessions as AG

The Senate on Wednesday evening confirmed President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, the outspoken marijuana opponent Jeff Sessions, formerly a U.S. senator from Alabama.

Sessions was confirmed in a 52-47 vote, with only one Democrat in the chamber backing the Republican.

When Trump named Sessions as his pick for attorney general last November, plenty of cannabis industry insiders were alarmed and feared that Sessions could spearhead a new federal crackdown on marijuana businesses.

But on Wednesday two of the more prominent national…

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Drug Policy Alliance executive director Nadelmann stepping down

Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of Drug Policy Alliance, said Friday he is vacating his post, though he’ll remain on the job until “late April,” he wrote in a letter posted online.

“I’ve decided that the time has come for me to step aside as head of DPA. My extraordinary colleagues are ready to take us into the future!” Nadelmann wrote on Twitter in making the initial announcement of his departure.

The DPA followed with its own statement on Twitter: “We are so grateful for everything you did to help shape the…

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Week in Review: Marijuana industry trademarks, cannabis banking & Oregon rec sales

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By Omar Sacirbey, John Schroyer and Bart Schaneman 

A prominent marijuana pipe maker sues to defend its trademark, another state seeks Trump’s guidance on MJ banking, and adult-use cannabis sales continue to drop in Oregon.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Trademark rights

Roor might be the Gucci of marijuana paraphernalia.

Both the German glass pipe maker and the iconic Italian handbag label purvey high-end products, are counterfeited ruthlessly and have sought aggressively to…

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Trump, Sessions + the future of the cannabis industry: Q&A with Steph Sherer

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By John Schroyer

Steph Sherer has a good read on the pulse of cannabis politics, having spent years in Washington DC lobbying on behalf of medical marijuana patients and fighting for national MJ reform as executive director of Americans for Safe Access.

With Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration on Friday just hours away, she’s not optimistic about what the near-term future holds for the marijuana industry.

Sherer told Marijuana Business Daily she expects Trump’s pick for U.S. attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, to conduct audits…

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Chart: Similar support levels for marijuana, Trump in red states that voted on cannabis measures

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By Eli McVey

Marijuana proved to be about as popular as Donald Trump in red states that voted on cannabis ballot initiatives in November, highlighting the potential for a political backlash if the incoming president looks to crack down on the MJ industry.

Five states that leaned toward Trump in the 2016 elections – Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota – had marijuana-related measures on the ballot.

In each case, with the exception of Arkansas, the cannabis initiatives received almost as many or more votes than Trump…

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Week in Review: Sessions’ sleight of hand, scofflaws in CA & risky business in NY

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By John Schroyer, Bart Schaneman and Omar Sacirbey

Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions plays his cannabis-enforcement views close to the vest, dispensaries sidestep California’s adult-use law, and an L.A. marijuana company attempts a risky rescue in New York.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Sessions hints at future enforcement

The likely next attorney general of the United States hinted at what may be to come for cannabis businesses during his first day of confirmation…

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AG pick Sessions ‘won’t commit to never enforcing’ U.S. law on MMJ

The murky legal situation between the federal government and states that have approved cannabis in some form was not made any clearer Tuesday when U.S. attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions dodged questions about his planned approach to the issue.

During Day One of his confirmation hearing, Sessions – the Alabama senator who has been picked for AG by President-elect Donald Trump – took a middle-of-the-road approach to states’ cannabis laws and said he “won’t commit to never enforcing federal law” when asked about his approach to…

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Election Updates: Live coverage of marijuana measures across the country

2016 cannabis elections

Marijuana Business Daily is providing live updates on cannabis ballot measures and related news (all updates in Eastern time).

2:30 a.m. Wednesday (Arizona, Maine, Montana): Three states with marijuana initiatives still hang in the balance, with Arizona’s rec measure on the ropes, Montana’s initiative well ahead and Maine’s adult-use measure a coin flip.

Here are the latest results from those three states:

Arizona: 48% “Yes,” with 82% of the votes reported

Montana: 56% “Yes,” with 63% of the votes reported

Maine: 50.5% “Yes,”…

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Appeals Court: DOJ Can’t Prosecute State-Legal MJ Businesses

In a big win for licensed marijuana companies, a federal appeals court in California ruled Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice can’t spend money to prosecute cannabis businesses that comply with state laws.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the DOJ must comply with the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which Congress first adopted in December 2014. It prohibits the DOJ from spending federal funds to interfere with the implementation of state marijuana laws.

The case wound up before the court, which covers…

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Week in Review: Five Takeaways From the DEA’s Marijuana Decision

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By John Schroyer

Overjoyed. Infuriated. Apathetic.

That’s the marijuana industry’s response to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to say “no” to cannabis rescheduling and “yes” to medical cannabis research. Here’s a closer look at the business and political implications of this week’s DEA verdict. 

 1. New Industry Niche

“Great news.”

That was at the top of an email from Dr. Sue Sisley, who’s been striving for years to put together a study on the medical efficacy of cannabis for patients with…

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Week in Review: Rescheduling Rumors, Nevada Targets California Docs & Pain Relief in MN

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By John Schroyer and Omar Sacirbey

Federal cannabis rescheduling rumors keep swirling, Nevada is poised to cut off a significant chunk of income for medical marijuana dispensaries, and Minnesota’s pair of MMJ companies get major relief from pain patients.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Don’t Hold Your Breath on Rescheduling 

The rescheduling rumor mill keeps on churning. And marijuana industry executives may not want to hold their collective breaths for a resolution just…

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Could Ohio Solve the Cannabis Industry’s Cash-Only Problem?

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By Omar Sacirbey

Could Ohio wean the marijuana industry from its need to do business in cash?

Ohio’s new medical marijuana law proposes a “closed-loop” payment processing system. It would be similar to pre-paid debit or gift cards. Regulators must still decide whether to use the system.

The proposal comes at a time when legal marijuana companies have had to rely on cash-only transactions. That’s because most banks, credit unions and credit card companies are reluctant to do business with them, given the uncertain federal regulatory…

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Week in Review: Banking Scare, Marijuana Ballot Roundup & Water Rules in California

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By Omar Sacirbey and John Schroyer

An Illinois bank sparks fresh concerns about cannabis and financial institutions, the number of states with certified pro-marijuana ballot measures hits an all-time high, and California MJ growers face new water-use rules.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Banking Scare?

Don’t panic! Just keep good track of your business.

That’s the message a prominent Illinois attorney and former regulatory czar is telling cannabis business and banking leaders…

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U.S. Senate Panel to Hold Hearing on Medical Marijuana

The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate will hold an unexpected – and perhaps first-ever – hearing on the potential medical benefits and risks of marijuana use Wednesday.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism will hold the hearing, which is slated to start at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. A live video stream of the hearing will be available at the committee’s website.

While numerous cannabis-related reform bills have been introduced by members of Congress over the years, most have died quietly, having never gained so much…

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10th Poll in Two Years Shows Majority Favor Legal MJ

At least 10 national polls since mid-2014 have now found a majority of Americans favor legalizing cannabis.

The latest, from Quinnipiac University, was released Monday morning, and found that overall 54% of U.S. voters believe marijuana should be legalized, and an overwhelming 89% support legalizing cannabis for medical use.

From May 24 – 30, Quinnipiac  surveyed 1,561 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac poll underscores…

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Possible Landmark Marijuana Tax Trial Starts Monday

cannabis taxes

By John Schroyer

Henry Wykowski scored a big victory for the cannabis industry last month after the Department of Justice dropped its case against one of his clients, California-based Harborside Health Center.

Now the Bay Area attorney has a new federal government target  in his sights: section 280E of the U.S. tax code.

Millions of dollars or more are at stake for individual marijuana businesses – not to mention the untold sums at stake for the industry as a whole. It’s money that’s…

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Poll: 56% of Americans Back Marijuana Legalization

Yet another major poll has found a majority of U.S. residents support full marijuana legalization nationwide, the latest bullish news for the cannabis industry’s growth prospects here.

The survey, issued this week by CBS News, found that 56% of Americans believe cannabis use should be legal, up 3 percentage points from a CBS News poll a year ago and a new high for the broadcaster’s polling on the topic.

Thirty-six percent of those surveyed opposed legalization, down 7 percentage points…

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DEA: Decision on Marijuana Rescheduling Coming Soon

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration will reportedly decide in the coming months whether to reschedule marijuana, an unexpected announcement that indicates the federal government is taking the issue seriously.

While removing marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 substances wouldn’t necessarily make the plant fully legal, it could have major ramifications for those in the industry, especially when it comes to taxes and banking.

The DEA stated its plans to make a decision by…

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Congressmen Want Protection for MJ Advertising

Advertising for legal marijuana companies may become a bit easier in the near future, if a handful of members of Congress have their way.

Eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to ask that the Department of Justice enact a policy of not prosecuting publications that run state-legal cannabis advertisements, according to the North Coast Journal.

“We therefore request that DOJ offer guidance to clearly establish… that DOJ…

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Poll: Marijuana Legalization Support in U.S. Hits 61%

A new survey conducted in February has found that a record high number of Americans now support full legalization of cannabis.

A whopping 61% of respondents agreed with the statement that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to the poll, which was conducted by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago.

But there are caveats. Of that majority, 43% said there should be restrictions on purchase amounts. Another 24% said it should be legal to purchase “only with a…

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CBD, Marijuana Banking and General Cannabis Reform: Q&A With NCIA’s Taylor West

Taylor West pic

By John Schroyer

Before 2013, when Taylor West landed her current job as deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, she spent more than a decade working in national politics, including four years in Washington DC.

During that time, she immersed herself in Democratic circles all over the country, from Georgia to Iowa to Virginia to Colorado. Which means she knows how the political system works, and it means she knows better than most what the chances are of serious change…

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Partnerships Present Promise, Peril for Expansion-Minded Marijuana Companies

cannabis partnership

By Omar Sacirbey

As the marijuana industry grows and new markets come online, many cannabis businesses are looking to expand outside their home states and develop far-reaching brands.

Doing so often involves hooking up with an in-state partner, given that many marijuana markets have implemented some type of residency requirement for ownership or investment, while others at least favor companies with a local connection when granting business licenses.

But figuring out whether or when you need…

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Cannabis Businesses Respond to Obama’s SCOTUS Nominee

After President Barack Obama announced his choice for the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, a number of marijuana industry executives and stakeholders weighed in, saying Judge Merrick Garland looked like a positive choice for the cannabis trade.

Several focused on a statement Garland reportedly made in 2012, when he suggested that federal judges should rely on the opinions of scientists when evaluating scientific matters. That attitude could extend to cannabis, several executives said.

“While…

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Former AG Holder Wants Marijuana Rescheduled

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served in the administration of President Barack Obama, this week came out in favor of changing cannabis’ status as a Schedule I narcotic.

His unexpected comments could help boost support for rescheduling  marijuana, which would be a major win for the cannabis industry.

“I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled. You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate,” Holder said on…

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Marijuana Business Conference & Expo Named One of Nation’s Fastest-Growing Events

The fall Marijuana Business Conference & Expo has been listed as one of the fastest-growing events in the country by Trade Show Executive Magazine, yet another sign of the cannabis industry’s growing push into the mainstream business world.

The event, hosted by Marijuana Business Daily, ranked in the top 50 for growth from 2014 to 2015 in all three categories the magazine tracks: fastest-growing by net square feet of exhibit space, fastest-growing by number of exhibiting companies and…

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Social Media Massacre: Marijuana Businesses Scrambling as Facebook, Instagram Shutter Accounts

cannabis facebook instagram

By John Schroyer

The marijuana industry is facing a growing challenge on the social media front, and there’s no resolution in sight.

Both Facebook and Instagram are closing marijuana-related business accounts without warning and seemingly at random, cutting off key connections companies have with their customers. 

And the two social media giants are not just targeting retailers and businesses that touch the plant: Companies that provide services to the industry and those that focus on…

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Facebook Closing More Marijuana Retailer Pages Across U.S.

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By John Schroyer and Omar Sacirbey

Social media giant Facebook continues to shut down the pages of state-legal cannabis retailers across the country, Marijuana Business Daily has learned.

More than 20 dispensaries and recreational shops in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey and Washington State have had their pages shut down over the past week or so.

Those are just the ones Marijuana Business Daily has been able to confirm, so the actual number could be much higher.

Several of the…

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OSHA Intervention in the Cannabis Industry: Q&A With Jolene Donahue

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By John Schroyer

While the marijuana industry is rife with uncertainty, there’s one thing you can count on: Federal and state regulators will take a bigger interest in cannabis businesses as the trade grows and becomes more mainstream.

One such agency that will likely be paying more attention to marijuana businesses is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. The agency works to ensure companies are creating safe working conditions for their employees. It operates at…

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Obama Won’t Act on Marijuana Reform

President Barack Obama’s administration is signaling that the outgoing commander in chief won’t take any unilateral action on marijuana reform this year, despite hopes from many advocates that he would order cannabis to be rescheduled.

Some industry players also hoped he would issue an executive order on banking or the tax code to help the industry.

“There are some in the Democratic Party who have urged the president to take this kind of action,” White House press secretary John…

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