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UMD Now Accepting Candidates for Cannabis Master’s Degree

Jordan Webber

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UMD Now Accepting Candidates for Cannabis Master’s Degree

Following the launch of the University of Maryland’s Cannabis Master’s Degree, applications for the course is underway. Known as the first-ever cannabis graduate program in the United States, the UMD, Baltimore is currently accepting applications until April 15, 2020, for its start in Fall 2020, states The Sun.

Currently, NPR reveals that more than 500 individuals have applied for the two-year course. From the initial planed class of 50, the interest and demand for the course reportedly encouraged the university to increase its classes by threefold.

UM’s Cannabis Master’s Degree

Called the Master of Science in Medical Cannabis and Therapeutics, the program is a two-year graduate course which gears its efforts towards further studies on medical marijuana. The program will utilize online-based and face-to-face teaching. These methods aim to fuse specialized experiences for students to help them treat patients, boost research in the field, and create medical policies in the marijuana industry.

Students enrolled in the program are required to take four major courses, including basic science, clinical uses, public health considerations, and policy. Apart from these four core courses, students are given the freedom to choose another four elective courses that fall in line with their interests.

Capstone courses, that is, expert-centered and guided seminars, case studies, and discussions will take place alongside comprehensive research methods. However, the master’s degree is a non-thesis track.

The Master of Science in Medical Cannabis and Therapeutics is launched by the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, which is located under the Universities at Shady Grove (USG).

According to NPR, the course is considered revolutionary, especially as it pioneered higher education on the topic. Though some colleges and universities have started offering classes and undergraduate degrees, the University of Maryland’s graduate course is touted the first of its kind.

Ideal candidates for the higher education program include those who are interested in working for the medical cannabis industry. Likewise, those who are already working within the sector are also great candidates for the two-year program. However, the course is open to parties who have already finished their bachelor’s degrees with or without a background in science or medicine.

In an interview with NPR, program director and pharmacist Leah Sera states, “There have been a number of studies, primarily with health professionals, indicating that there is an educational gap related to medical cannabis – that health professionals want more education because patients are coming to them with questions about cannabis and therapeutic uses.

For students interested to apply, check the application qualifications and admission process for MS in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics. Click here

Cannabis Legalization

Washington State Legislators OKs Cannabis Social Equity Bill

Jordan Webber

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Washington’s cannabis industry is poised to welcome diversity among licensees after state legislators approved a bill last week that would introduce the state’s first Marijuana Social Equity Program. The measure, named House Bill 2870 (HB 2870), now awaits on Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for final approval.

If signed into law, the bill will enable the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) to issue forfeited, canceled and revoked retail licenses to applicants that are members of communities excessively impacted by the War on Drugs.

As written in the bill, the measure’s main objective is to benefit “individuals who have been arrested or incarcerated due to drug laws, and those who have resided in areas of high poverty, suffer long-lasting adverse consequences, including impacts to employment, business ownership, housing, health, and long term financial well-being.”

The program is set to last for eight years, spanning from December 1, 2020 to July 1, 2028, and will cost applicants a total of $1,480 for new social equity licenses.

Prior to the approval, The House originally passed an earlier version of the bill in February this year, with the intention to address racial inequity within the cannabis industry.

Democratic Rep. Eric Pettigrew, the one who sponsored the bill, described the road towards the final bill as a long yet worthwhile struggle.

“I had a chance to meet with some proponents and opponents a little more … and really came to understand that this is beyond the issue of licenses,” Pettigrew said. “This is potentially a different distribution of wealth as we move forward in this industry.”

He, along with the help of stakeholders including Paula Sardinas of the Commission on African American Affairs drafted the proposal.

“We believe we need an LCB that is more reflective of the community it serves,” she said. “It should also have a culture that mirrors the Department of Financial Institutions where education, compliance, and training are priorities along with enforcement,” Sardinas commented.

In 2012, Washington became the first U.S. state to legalized recreational use of marijuana. However, eight years after, the state’s cannabis industry is still struggling with diversity. In a report from the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs, less than 1% of the state’s over 500 recreational cannabis licenses were owned by African Americans.

“Initiative 502 missed an opportunity to incorporate a focus on social equity,” said Rick Garza, the director of the LCB, at the time the bill made its way through the legislature. “The history of cannabis prohibition shows abundant evidence there was disproportionate harm in communities of color, and that those harmful effects remain with us today.”

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Cannabis Firms Experience Boost in Sales Amid Covid-19 Panic

Daniel King

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Cannabis Firms Experience Boost in Sales Amid Covid-19 Panic

As the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus called COVID-19 a pandemic, cannabis firms in the United States have experienced an exponential boost in profits as users increase their stocks. Stockpiling cannabis supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic comes as news of a prolonged self-quarantine threatens the country.

A number of marijuana dispensaries and cannabis businesses in different states have reported an increase in buyers and orders as the pandemic plagues the country, including Los Angeles-based NUG and Massachusetts-based firm New England Treatment Access (NETA).

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, head of sales for NUG, Steve Lilak said the reason why individuals are stockpiling is that they “are in scarcity mode. The streets are emptier, but specific businesses like grocery stores and dispensaries are seeing more people than usual – and people are stocking and purchasing in bulk. I’ve seen regular customers buying three or four of what they normally buy in just one of in L.A. dispensaries.”

Covid-19, Cannabis Sales, Marijuana

Increase of Stockpile for Impending Covid-19 Quarantine

Apart from corralling goods in a case of quarantine, individuals may be increasing their cannabis stash primarily because these offer calming effects to its users, remarks a Lowell Farms representative to The Hollywood Reporter.

Meanwhile, patients such as Mary K. Murray feel that they can better manage their pain and conditions with the help of marijuana, thus stockpiling the drug rather than waiting for her monthly prescription medication, reports WGBH.

Other cannabis firms who have a reported increase in sales include Caliva and Calexo. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Caliva is a delivery-based firm in California, while Calexo dabbles in sparkling cannabis drinks.

The same sentiments are echoed by Brookline’s New England Treatment Access, which has seen a boost in its number of buyers. However, in keeping with the national and community guidelines in place, the NETA will only accommodate customers who place and reserve their orders in advance, notes WGBH.

Cannabis businesses are also urged by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to practice remote work, avoid travel, as well keeping records of transactions. Moreover, the ICC, in partnership with the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) also highlighted alternatives such as a utilizing a pick-up and drop-off service, home deliveries, or drive-by services to reduce contact time with buyers, thus preventing further spread of the disease.

NETA’s practices fall in line with the guidelines posted by healthcare providers and industry professionals to practice social distancing as well as sanitizing and disinfecting places of business. Employees are equipped with disinfectants and latex glove, and the dispensary is disinfected every night.

Despite the boost in cannabis sales, industry experts believe the pandemic could potentially derail the development in the industry. Businesses, investments, as well as stocks, could see a change in their portfolio’s as the disease continues to spread, states Forbes.

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Cannabis News

California Cannabis Taxes Hit Over $1 Billion

Jordan Webber

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California Cannabis Taxes Hit Over $1 Billion

More than two years since the industry kicked into gear in 2018, commercial cannabis sales in California has already scored more than $1 billion in taxes as of February 2020, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) revealed last week.

As indicated in the figures released, cannabis tax revenues have totaled to $1.03 billion, with $498.1 million extracted from cannabis excise taxes, $123.4 million from cultivation taxes, and $403.1 million from state sales tax.

Most of the money, aside from covering regulatory costs, has been used to finance a variety of state-sponsored programs, including cannabis research, public safety grants, childcare for low-income families, and environmental clean-ups due to illegal cannabis grow, the official explained.

While the high record suggests a celebration for industry insiders and advocates, many were still concerned over the sluggish growth of California’s legal cannabis industry, especially with the ongoing competition between the legal industry and the thriving underground cannabis market.

“It’s an industry that was supposed to be huge, going gangbusters with the green rush,” said Zachary Pitts, the chief executive of the Ganja Goddess delivery service and president of the California Cannabis Delivery Alliance. “It has been growing, but it’s not nearly where I think people were expecting it to be.”

In 2016, California voters approved the legalization of recreational cannabis and state officials projected around $1 billion a year in taxes once the legal industry matures. However, two years since the industry launched, growth has been found to be lower than expected.

As presented by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, growth in the industry in the fourth quarter of last year only scored about $2.6 million increase or 1.5%, a record that has been marked to be the smallest quarter-to-quarter gain in tax revenue since the market launched in 2018.

To date, under the current state law, those who engage in the legal cannabis market are to pay a 15% excise tax, a cultivation tax based on weight, and state sales tax. Cities and counties have also been allowed to tack on their own taxes, which can hit as high as 20%.

Jerred Kiloh, President of the United Cannabis Business Association, the premier cannabis retail association in California, said lowering those taxes could help advance the growth of the legal market, especially in competing against underground operators. California was able to seize a total of $1.5b worth of illegal marijuana in the past few months.

“Somewhere along the supply chain, we need to lower the cost of doing business,” Kiloh commented.

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