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1. Los Angeles cracks down on illegal marijuana operators with badge awarding program
Los Angeles-based cannabis retailers will soon be able to display an official badge to show customers that they are operating a state-licensed business. The badge will only be awarded to legal distribution and storefront marijuana businesses that pass inspections, according to the City News Service. The Los Angeles Authorized Cannabis Store Badge Program is designed to crack down on unlicensed cannabis stores and products sold in those stores that have not been tested for mold or other contaminants in a lab. The plan is expected to be implemented later this year. The Los Angeles badge program complements a California ordinance enacted in early 2020 that requires all licensed cannabis products to carry a QR code.

2. Mississippi begins issuing medical marijuana licenses, starts sales by year-end
Mississippi's medical marijuana regulator last week opened the license application process for growers, processors, testing agencies and shippers, but sales may not begin until the end of the year. There is no cap on the number of permits issued, but the law allows municipalities to opt out. Mississippi law allows patients to buy about 3 ounces of marijuana a month and limits THC levels to 30 percent in cannabis flower and 60 percent in concentrates, oils and tinctures. State regulators said they would begin accepting pharmacy applications on July 1. The 2022 MJBiz Factbook predicts that the Mississippi medical marijuana market will reach $265 million in sales in its first year and $800 million in its fourth.

3. Louisiana lawmakers agree to expand medical marijuana dispensaries
Louisiana lawmakers passed a bill that would allow expanding the number of medical marijuana dispensaries from nine to 30. Under House Bill 697, the state's existing medical marijuana operators can open another dispensary in the same geographic area after serving 3,500 active patients, only if the existing dispensary refuses to open a second location. Only new operators of cannabis can apply to enter the market. The legislation also transfers industry oversight from the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry to the Louisiana Department of Health. Cannabis cultivation will continue to be controlled by LSU and Southern University, both of which have contracts with private companies. The 2022 MJBiz Factbook predicts that Louisiana medical marijuana sales will double this year to $90 million to $100 million.

4. North Carolina Senate passes bill to legalize medical marijuana
The North Carolina Senate voted overwhelmingly 35-10 Thursday to initially approve a restrictive, limited-licensing medical marijuana bill, bringing the state closer to becoming the 40th U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana. The bill needs to be voted on another day before it goes to the state House of Representatives. If the bill passes the House, it will be signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Under Senate Bill 711, the Medical Marijuana Production Committee will issue 10 medical marijuana "supplier" licenses to vertically integrated marijuana businesses. Each license holder may open up to four dispensaries, with at least one located in an economically disadvantaged county. Democratic Senator Julie Mayfield expressed concern about the vertical structure, saying only large multistate operators have the financial means to participate.
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