Marijuana Business This Week: AG’s on the clock, bevy of legislation, medical MJ lottery, Harvest Health earnings & more

Here are some notable stories and events to watch for in the coming days:

BARR DEADLINE: Wednesday is the deadline set by a group of senators for U.S. Attorney General William Barr to give them answers about increasing the number of federally authorized growers of marijuana for research purposes.

In a letter sent to Barr earlier this month, the bipartisan group – including Democrats Dianne Feinstein, California; Chris Coons, Delaware; Brian Schatz, Hawaii; Tim Kaine, Virginia; and Republicans Cory Gardner, Colorado; and Lisa Murkowski, Alaska – noted the U.S. has just one facility authorized to produce cannabis for federal research purposes.

The letter posed six questions to Barr relating to how the U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration are dealing with marijuana manufacturer applications.

TAXING DEBATE: The California Assembly Business and Professions Committee is set to hear a flurry of cannabis-related bills this week.

One that should garner much attention is Assembly Bill 286, the Marijuana Tax Reduction Bill.

On Tuesday, the committee will debate the bill, which would reduce the excise tax rate to 11% until July 1, 2022, at which time it would revert to 15%. The bill also would suspend the imposition of the cultivation tax until July 1, 2022.

Also on Tuesday, the committee will hear Assembly Bill 1465, which would create a consumption cafe/lounge license authorizing the retail sale and on-site consumption of cannabis or cannabis products by adults 21 or older.

Meanwhile, two banking bills also are on this week’s legislative docket.

Assembly Bill 1525 would provide that an entity that receives deposits, extends credit, conducts fund transfers, transports cash or financial instruments on behalf of a financial institution – or provides other financial services for a person licensed to engage in commercial cannabis activity – is not committing a crime under any California law solely by virtue of providing those services.

Senate Bill 51, set for a hearing Wednesday by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, would create the Cannabis Limited Charter Banking and Credit Union. The bill would provide for the licensing and regulation of cannabis limited charter banks and credit unions for the purpose of providing banking services to cannabis businesses.

DOWN TO THE WIRE: Three high-profile recreational marijuana bills are expected to get a vote in the Washington state Legislature before the end of the current session on April 28, according to Spokane, Washington, alt-weekly Inlander.

The first bill would drop the potential criminal liability for a budtender at a licensed retailer who sells marijuana to someone younger than 21 from a felony to a gross misdemeanor.

The second would change how the state enforces regulations on marijuana businesses by creating a process for the board to issue warnings for violating regulations.

Finally, the third would allow marijuana product labels to include phrasing that conveys the good’s intended role, such as promoting sleep.

CONSIDERING CONSUMPTION: The Denver City Council could vote on a bill for an ordinance that would lessen restrictions on cannabis social consumption sites at its meeting Monday.

If approved, designated marijuana consumption businesses could open if they’re at least 1,000 feet from a school or 500 feet from a child care establishment, an alcohol or drug treatment facility or a city-owned recreation center or outdoor pool.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA LOTTERY: The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, will determine the sites of its first medical marijuana facilities through a lottery set for Friday.

The city will webcast the event on its Facebook page.

To determine who gets the first shot at opening, the City Commission established a protocol that prospective developers could use to improve their chances when applying for special land use approval, according to MLive.com.

Developers score points based on their residency, dedication to improving the local economy and for not needing a separation distance waiver from a sensitive-use facility such as a religious institution, the website reported.

Applicants with the most points gain priority when going before the planning department for approval.

EARNINGS: Harvest Health & Recreation will release its fourth-quarter 2018 financial and operating results Tuesday.

The vertically integrated, Phoenix-based cannabis company last month announced the $850 million acquisition of multistate cannabis operator Verano Holdings and then followed up with an agreement to purchase CannaPharmacy, a vertically integrated marijuana company operating in four Northeastern states.

Harvest Health CEO Steve White recently participated in Marijuana Business Daily’s Investor Intelligence Executive Webcast to discuss the strategy behind the company’s recent moves and where it might head next. (Get access to more in-depth market analysis, premium features on cannabis investing trends and monthly executive webcasts with an Investor Intelligence subscription.)

Also announcing fourth-quarter and fiscal 2018 earnings this week is Cresco Labs, which reports Wednesday.

Chicago-based Cresco earlier this month agreed to acquire Origin House – a Canadian firm with a massive portfolio of brands and major California presence – in a deal valued at $823 million (1.1 billion Canadian dollars).

ANOTHER LOOK: At its scheduled meeting Monday, the Fairbanks, Alaska, City Council is expected to revisit an ordinance that would allow marijuana retail stores and establishments to offer on-site consumption.

In March, Alaska’s lieutenant governor signed into law rules to allow on-site consumption of cannabis at some licensed retailers, becoming the first state to legalize social marijuana consumption.

EXPIRING LICENSE SCORECARD: There are 1,360 cultivation licenses set to expire this week in California, according to an analysis of state license data by MJBizDaily.

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