A $3.4B cannabis mega-deal, marijuana firms prep for huge 4/20 sales, Alaska trade group helps keep MJ critic off state board & more of the week’s top news (SLIDESHOW)

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Canadian giant Canopy Growth strikes a deal to buy New York-based Acreage Holdings in what would mark the first major Canada-U.S. cannabis transaction, companies gear up for potentially record-setting sales this 4/20, and the Alaska MJ industry claims victory as an appointee to the state industry’s regulatory board gets rejected – plus other important news from around the cannabis space.

Canopy-Acreage deal changes the whole game

Canopy Growth agreed to acquire New York-based Acreage Holdings for a colossal $3.4 billion in what would represent the first major Canadian-American cannabis transaction. The deal is contingent on the U.S. fully legalizing marijuana at the federal level.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Consolidation is an inevitable trend in the cannabis space, but this is the first time a Canadian company has agreed to buy a multistate U.S. operator.

Companies, analysts and the investment community will keep close vigil as to how Canopy’s competitors follow the Ontario-based giant and which U.S. operators will be in a position to potentially be taken over like Acreage.

Marijuana firms prepare for potentially huge 4/20

This year marks the first time since state legalization that April 20 – the unofficial marijuana holiday dubbed 4/20 – falls on a Saturday, so retailers in markets with legal adult-use cannabis are gearing up for what could prove a record-setting weekend.

MJBizDaily takeaway: 4/20 sales set a high bar last year at $26.6 million in California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington state, according to Headset, a Seattle-based data analytics firm that specializes in cannabis.

Colorado’s sales growth on 4/20 outpaced others, with a whopping 128% spike.

By contrast, California – where consumers have griped about high prices for retail cannabis – had lower sales growth at 103%, which some industry analysts blame in large part on the thriving illicit market. But statewide delivery, which regulators now allow, could be a game changer that causes sales growth in the Golden State to surpass other adult-use markets.

A big win in the Last Frontier?

The Alaska Legislature handed what many in the state’s marijuana industry view as a triumph as lawmakers rejected the governor’s appointment of Vivian Stiver – a critic of commercial cannabis who supported a 2017 ballot initiative to ban cannabis operations in Fairbanks – to the state Marijuana Control Board.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association engaged its members in an effective outreach campaign by calling and writing lawmakers and urging dispensary customers to do the same to block Stiver’s nomination.

This indicates the group’s influence and a lesson for other trade associations: Grassroots campaigns and education can advance the industry’s interests, but it takes a highly organized and concerted effort.

MMJ states continue expanding access

Georgia, Montana and Oklahoma showed signs this week of opening business opportunities in their medical marijuana programs. The three states aren’t seen as MMJ pioneers, but the moves show how business opportunities can emerge in small markets far removed from flashier expansions in larger, adult-use MJ markets.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Cannabis entrepreneurs are no strangers to slow progress and political resistance. So, they know it’s a mistake to write off minor markets as barren territory for business expansion.

Long after glitzier adult-use cannabis markets face potential MJ oversupply and retailer saturation, limited MMJ markets could offer tantalizing business opportunities for patient, and well-capitalized, entrepreneurs seeking reliable profits.

New L.A. crackdown on illegal MJ companies

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feurer filed a first-of-its-kind civil lawsuit in Superior Court this week against an illegal marijuana retailer and several business associates.

This is believed to be the first time he’s tried to take advantage of a $20,000-a-day fine authorized two years ago in a local marijuana ballot measure.

MJBizDaily takeaway: This move could be well received by licensed cannabis businesses that have long complained about the massive impact illegal operators have on legal sales. The action might also represent a new deterrent for unlicensed marijuana shops in L.A. if they see that city officials are finally getting serious about using maximum penalties against illegal MJ businesses.

The fact that Feurer is going after business associates of the retailer, including the landlord and real estate brokers who helped the illegal shop run, may bolster that deterrent even more, making it harder for such shops to reopen after closure.

Small step forward for social consumption in Denver

The Denver City Council took an initial step toward easing rules that have made it difficult for businesses to open social marijuana consumption venues.

The proposed policy change is prompted in part by a case last year when city officials denied an application for a cannabis lounge because it was 19 feet too close to a child care center.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The policy change, pending a final OK, could provide a big boost to a social-use program that has struggled to get off the ground in the Mile High City.

At the same time, a broader state bill that would allow on-site consumption continues to advance in the Colorado House.

Edible CBD follows topical trend

First, some national drug stores said they’d start carrying hemp-derived CBD topicals, a bold expansion for an active ingredient that hasn’t yet been embraced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Then, this week, national players ranging from The Vitamin Shoppe to Urban Outfitters to the Carl’s Jr. hamburger chain took the CBD expansion a step further by announcing plans to sell ingestible CBD supplements and foods.

MJBizDaily takeaway: What FDA? The CBD expansion comes in direct contravention of the agency’s repeated warnings that CBD can be consumed only as part of a prescription epilepsy treatment.

The intrepid moves this week by mainstream retailers to sell ingestible CBD underscores how conventional retailers seem prepared to flout federal warnings to capture a piece of the national CBD boom.

Marijuana entrepreneurs will anxiously watch for clues in the FDA’s response to the CBD expansion, looking for indicators about how federal authorities might handle mass-market retailers selling THC products.

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