CBD set for sale at major drug store chain & more of the week’s top cannabis business news (SLIDESHOW)

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CVS emerges as a new sales outlet for Curaleaf hemp-derived CBD topicals, Florida medical marijuana patients can buy smokable flower, New Jersey looks short on the votes necessary for adult-use cannabis legalization – plus other important news from around the MJ space.

Curaleaf buddies up with CVS for hemp CBD sales

Drug store giant CVS has started carrying hemp-derived CBD topicals in stores, according to Curaleaf, a Massachusetts marijuana producer and retailer.

Curaleaf’s 800-store, 10-state deal signals a monster new sales outlet for a multistate MJ operator looking to expand beyond dispensaries.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The legalization of hemp is giving marijuana companies a tantalizing opportunity to sell cannabis products nationwide, if they come from low-THC cannabis varieties that are no longer controlled substances.

Expect to see more MJ producers pursuing hemp products to lock down national retail distribution deals and get their brands in front of new consumers in advance of eventual national legalization of marijuana.

Smokable flower now on sale in Florida

Florida ended its controversial ban on smokable medical marijuana products after Gov. Ron DeSantis made it official by signing legislation this week.

Trulieve, the state’s largest cannabis retailer, didn’t waste any time and sold the first smokable flower to a medical marijuana patient in Tallahassee on Thursday.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The $250 million-a-year industry could get a 40%-60% lift in sales as flower and other smokable products hit the shelves.

A potential no-go in New Jersey

New Jersey edged closer toward legalizing adult-use marijuana when Senate and Assembly committees approved identical bills and sent the measure to the full Legislature for a vote as early as Monday. But Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday the measure is short of the votes needed to pass.

MJBizDaily takeaway: New Jersey’s sprint to be the first state to legalize a full-fledged adult-use program through its Legislature is now in doubt. Murphy must first garner enough votes to get the deal done, and that may prove no easy task.

US House will consider marijuana banking bill

A bill to provide federal protection for banks serving state-legal marijuana businesses is scheduled for markup next week by the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, a notable development for cannabis banking legislation.

The bill, known as the SAFE Banking Act, would bar federal bank regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis businesses complying with state laws.

MJBizDaily takeaway: The SAFE Banking Act has “a great chance” of passing both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate, Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert said.

“We think members of Congress are ready to take action on cannabis policy, and this is an urgent measure that members should be able to get behind.”

Movement in the synthetics products sector

Amyris, a California wellness products company, closed a deal potentially worth $300 million with biotech startup Lavvan aimed at producing synthetic cannabinoids.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Analysts are expecting a rash of deals in the synthetic products sector as companies involved purely in extracting from flower will find themselves unable to compete with the industrial scale of synthetic producers.

New MMJ rules in the Sooner State

Oklahoma’s governor signed into law legislation to oversee the state’s nascent but robust medical cannabis industry. Under the new rules, MMJ products will be tested for potency, pesticides, terpene content and heavy metals. The regulations also cover packaging and provide a framework for a statewide cannabis traceability system.

MJBizDaily takeaway: Although the new law will establish industry standards, the rules aren’t expected to slow the state’s rapidly growing market. In February, the program’s second full month since it launched, sales totaled $7.2 million.

RICO settlement suggests such lawsuits can be costly

Massachusetts marijuana retailer Healthy Pharms (dispensary shown above) agreed to an out-of-court settlement in a civil racketeering case that relied on federal statutes dubbed “RICO.” Neighbors had filed suit to shut down the shop. While the amount the retailer agreed to pay was not released, it was described as “significant” and “substantial” by the attorney for the plaintiffs in the case.

MJBizDaily takeaway: While civil racketeering lawsuits against MJ companies have caught on among anti-cannabis locals, RICO has not yet proved to be a serious threat to the industry. It can, however, be an expensive cost of doing business, as exemplified by the Massachusetts settlement. Moreover, lengthy court cases can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees, which is why settling out of court may be the cheapest option.

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