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Week in Review: Wana Brands CEO Nancy Whiteman Stepping Down

Nancy Whiteman
Photo courtesy of Wana Brands

Culture

Week in Review: Wana Brands CEO Nancy Whiteman Stepping Down

 ICYMI: Catch up on the week’s latest news from across the cannabis spectrum.

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, Wana Brands co-founder and CEO Nancy Whiteman announces she’s stepping down; Missouri’s Attorney General investigates illicit vape and cannabis products; and a new poll suggests Florida’s cannabis legalization initiative faces an uncertain future.

Nancy Whiteman Stepping Down
Photo courtesy of Wana Brands

Wana Brands CEO Nancy Whiteman Stepping Down

On April 16, Colorado-based Wana Brands, one of the original edibles brands, announced that its celebrated co-founder Nancy Whiteman will step back from her CEO position by the end of May. Whiteman, who co-founded Wana in 2010, leaves a legacy of innovation and growth.

According to a press release, Whiteman will serve on the Canopy USA Board of Managers. Canopy’s acquisition plans of Wana Brands were initially announced in October 2021 for $297.5 million, with an upfront cash payment, pending federal legalization. However, the acquisition timeline was expedited about a year later.

Following Canopy Growth’s shareholder vote on April 12, 2024, Canopy USA is set to proceed with finalizing the acquisitions of Wana, Jetty and Acreage, intending to harness the strengths of each brand to accelerate growth and market reach. Whiteman will play a pivotal role in shaping Canopy USA’s strategy, overseeing integration efforts and fostering future growth across brands such as Wana Brands, Jetty Extracts and Acreage Holdings.

“While it’s never easy for a founder to step away from the company they started, I’ve got full confidence that Joe Hodas and our Wana leadership team are well-positioned to continue Wana’s growth,” Whiteman said.

Along with her board role at Canopy USA, Whiteman will maintain an active presence at the Wana Brands Foundation (WBF), established in 2022 with a $50 million grant. The nonprofit has significantly contributed to over 150 organizations, focusing on research, food security, mental health and social justice.

Joe Hodas, Wana’s current CMO, with a four-year tenure at the company and over a decade of experience in the cannabis industry, will take the reins as president of Wana Brands.

While focusing on global expansion, particularly in East Coast states in the US and international markets like Switzerland, Wana Brands aims to continue its upward trajectory under Hodas’ leadership.

“This transition marks the culmination of an extraordinary journey, from Wana’s humble beginnings in a kitchen to its emergence as a leading edibles brand in North America,” Wana Brands stated.

cannabis flower
PHOTO Esteban López

California Authorities Seize $53 Million in Illegal Cannabis in Q1 2024 Crackdown

According to the California Governor’s Office, the Unified Cannabis Enforcement Taskforce (UCETF) confiscated over $53 million worth of illegal cannabis during the first quarter of 2024 in a concerted effort to combat the illicit cannabis market. 

From January 1 to March 31, efforts to target illicit cannabis operations were carried out across multiple counties, including Alameda, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Joaquin, and Orange.

During the enforcement actions, authorities seized $53,620,600 in illegal cannabis, 31,866 pounds of unlicensed cannabis and approximately 54,137 unlicensed cannabis plants.

“California is home to the largest legal cannabis market in the world,” Gov. Newsom said in an official statement from the Governor’s Office. “As we continue to cultivate a legal marketplace, we’re taking aggressive action to crack down on those still operating in the shadows—shutting down illegal operations linked to organized crime, human trafficking and the proliferation of illegal products that harm the environment and public health.”

Gov. Newsom created the UCETF in 2022 to support state efforts and coordination in cannabis enforcement among state, local and federal partners. To date, the UCETF has confiscated $371,199,431 worth of unlicensed cannabis through 236 search warrants. Additionally, the task force has eliminated 401,458 plants and confiscated 139 firearms.

PHOTO Johnmaxmena

Missouri Attorney General Investigates Illicit Vape and Cannabis Products, Focusing on Child Safety and Consumer Rights

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has initiated an inquiry into illicit vape and cannabis products to uphold Missouri law and safeguard consumers from potentially hazardous items. The Attorney General’s Office issued civil investigative demands (CIDs)–employing subpoena authority–after receiving reports of potential violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), guaranteeing Missourians a marketplace devoid of fraudulent or deceptive business practices.

“Missourians are entitled to a marketplace free from deceit and fraud, with clear knowledge of the contents of the products they consume,” said Attorney General Bailey. “I’m committed to using every resource available to halt the distribution of dangerous illicit products that endanger Missouri consumers, particularly children.”

The CIDs, directed at businesses selling Delta-8 and Delta-9 products, allege illicit marketing and distribution practices targeting Missourians. These demands seek to investigate the activities and representations of certain sellers regarding the manufacturing, sale and marketing of products containing CBD, Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC, citing potential deception, fraud and unfair practices.

Attorney General Bailey issued CIDs to e-cigarette and illicit vape distributors, focusing on potential violations of § 407.020, RSMo, concerning deceptive and unfair practices.

Through the CIDs, Attorney General Bailey aims to obtain documents essential for uncovering potential market fraud or deception.

“My priority will always be the welfare of consumers, especially children,” Attorney General Bailey emphasized. “My office is committed to diligently investigating and preserving the integrity of the marketplace, ensuring the safety of all Missourians.”

PHOTO Denys Kostyuchenko

Poll: Florida Cannabis Legalization Initiative Faces Uncertain Future

According to a recent report, the cannabis legalization constitutional amendment slated for Florida voters this November lacks the necessary support to pass. In a recent survey of more than 1,000 adult Floridians, less than half (49%) expressed their support for the Sunshine State’s cannabis legalization initiative, while 36% opposed it.

Additionally, 14% indicated they were either unregistered to vote or undecided. Florida voter amendments mandate a 60% supermajority to become law, suggesting a challenging path for the initiative.

The poll encompassed 369 registered Republicans, 264 Democrats and 316 independents from April 5-7, with results carrying a margin of error of 4.1%.

The survey revealed that 64% of Democrats would vote in favor of the ballot measure, while 25% were opposed and 10% remained undecided or unregistered. Conversely, 38% of Republicans supported the legalization measure, with 58% in opposition and 4% undecided or unregistered. Among independents, 52% indicated they would vote yes, 33% were against and 15% were uncertain or unregistered.

The proposed amendment aims to legalize cannabis for adults aged 21 and above, permitting medical cannabis dispensaries to serve adult-use customers. It proposes possession limits of three ounces of cannabis flower and five grams of cannabis concentrate products. The legalization campaign received significant funding from Trulieve, the state’s largest medical cannabis operator.

Despite legal challenges from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who argued that the proposal’s ballot language was confusing, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the amendment, allowing it to proceed to the November ballot. 

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