Study Finds CBD Effective at Treating Heroin and Opioid Addiction
CBD could help those addicted to heroin and opioids break the cycle of addiction. A study conducted at the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai found that patients treated with CBD oil had reduced cravings and anxiety levels.
Dr. Yasmin Hurd, the lead researcher on the study, said, “the intense craving is what drives the drug use. If we can have the medications that can dampen that [craving], that can greatly reduce the chance of relapse and overdose risk.”
Drug overdose deaths outnumber peak annual deaths from HIV, car crashes, or gun violence and are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Since 2000, nearly 400,000 people have died of opioid-related causes.
“Our findings indicate that CBD holds significant promise for treating individuals with heroin use disorder,” said Hurd in a statement. “A successful non-opioid medication would add significantly to the existing addiction medication toolbox to help reduce the growing death toll, enormous health care costs, and treatment limitations imposed by stringent government regulations amid this persistent opioid epidemic.”
The 42 study participants had used heroin for an average of 13 years and had gone less than a month without using. Participants were divided into three groups and given either 800 milligrams of CBD, 400 milligrams of CBD, or a placebo. All three groups were dosed for three consecutive days and shown three-minute video “cues.” “Neutral cues” included relaxing nature scenes, and “drug-related cues” included scenes with syringes, intravenous drug use, and packets of white powder.
Researchers measured opioid craving and anxiety by monitoring skin temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and other vital signs throughout the video sessions.
CBD “significantly reduced both the craving and anxiety induced by drug cues compared with neutral cues,” researchers found. Additionally, the positive effects of CBD were evident up to one week after the last CBD dose.
“[CBD is] not addictive. No one is diverting it. It doesn’t get you high, but it can reduce craving and anxiety… [T]his can really help save lives,” Hurd said.
May Cannabis Industry & Legalization News
Colorado bomb cyclone causes a spike in cannabis sales
In Colorado, preparing for a blizzard isn’t complete without hitting up a marijuana dispensary. Ahead of the bomb cyclone that hit the state in March, cannabis sales in both medical and adult-use retailers spiked. Medical marijuana dispensaries saw an increase in sales of 27% on March 11, and 25% on March 12. Sale of flower on those days increased by 14% and edible sales increased by 10% above average.
Total cannabis sales saw a 22% increase overall on March 11 and a 4% increase in the average transaction amount, from &62.23 to $64.95. On March 12, sales were up 25% higher, with the average transaction amount slightly increasing from $64.04 to $64.51. Altogether, statewide sales on March 11-12 increased by 21%.
Nebraska legislature nixes medical marijuana bill
Hopes for medical marijuana in Nebraska were dashed after a bill failed to garner enough support from state legislators. Sen Anna Wishart (D) sponsored the medical cannabis bill and agreed to all of the amendments proposed by opponents of the legislation, including prohibiting patients from smoking cannabis or home-growing marijuana plants. Another proposed amendment would have prohibited cannabis edibles, and Wishart said she would have supported that too. Despite those compromises, state senators rejected the bill.
“Honestly, this was my colleagues’ chance to do something, and I was giving them the decision on whether they wanted to take action or not,” Wishart said.
Opponents of the bill argued that legalizing medical marijuana would lead to pressure to legalize recreational cannabis use. They also argued that cannabis remains federally illegal and lacks approval from the FDA.
While the bill was up for debate, Wishart pointed out that cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and supporters of the bill referred to marijuana’s effectiveness in treating conditions like epilepsy.
“Why not just deal with a practical reality, where instead of doing it in the dark, they can go through a highly regulated medical system. Go through a doctor and make the right choice if cannabis is right for them,” Wishart said.
Industrial Hemp, CBD Coming to Texas
Texas lawmakers have approved a bill to legalize industrial hemp production and hemp-derived CBD that contains less than 0.3% of THC. The bill was introduced by Rep. Tracy King (D) and the Senate voted unanimously in favor of it. Next, the bill will head to the House for any amendments and a vote.
King’s bill would task the Texas Department of Agriculture to enact regulations in accordance with the Farm Bill that Congress passed last year, including a licensing and inspection process.
Some senators were concerned that legalizing hemp would be a slippery slope to marijuana use.
“Can this stuff be smoked?” asked state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D).
“No, sir,” said Sen. Charles Perry (R). “I guess you could theoretically smoke it; you’d get no effect from it, and the bill specifically prohibits manufacturing for the purpose of smoking.”
“Nowadays people can smoke anything,” Hinojosa said.
Denver Decriminalizes Psilocybin (Mushrooms)
Denver has become the first city in the country to decriminalize psilocybin, more popularly known as magic mushrooms. Early results on election night didn’t look good for Initiative 301, but by the final tally on Wednesday afternoon, the measure eeked out a win by about 2,000 votes.
While I-301 doesn’t legalize hallucinogenic mushrooms, it does make the cultivation and possession for personal use of psilocybin for those 21 and older the lowest possible law enforcement priority for police. Once the mayor signs the initiative, city code will prohibit Denver from using public funds or resources to prosecute people for psilocybin possession. An 11-member panel will be created to analyze the public safety and health impacts of decriminalizing magic mushrooms.
“No one should be arrested or incarcerated simply for using or possessing psilocybin or any other drug,” Art Way, Colorado State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance told the Washington Post. “If anything, this initiative doesn’t go nearly far enough. Given the scientific and public support for decriminalizing all drugs, as Portugal has done successfully, we need broader reforms that can scale back the mass criminalization of people who use drugs.”
Hallucinogenic mushrooms remain illegal to distribute or sell anywhere in Colorado, and use or possession of psilocybin outside of the city and county of Denver remains illegal.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers psilocybin a “breakthrough therapy” in the treatment of depression. And other studies have shown that magic mushrooms can be useful in treating PTSD, addiction, anxiety, chronic pain, and depression. Last September, John Hopkins University published a study recommending that psychedelic mushrooms be reclassified as a Schedule IV substance, which is a drug with a low potential for abuse and dependence.
Kevin Matthews, the campaign manager for Decriminalize Denver, which spearheaded I-300, says hallucinogenic mushrooms helped him manage his severe depression.
“It helped me put my life back together,” Matthews said. “It felt like a part of me had been awakened from the depths of the challenging mental state that I had been in.”
Mountain High Suckers was extremely proud to help our friends at the Decriminalize Denver / Denver Psilocybin Initiative by handing out flyers and support materials – every single dispensary we approached gladly accepted and supported us. Huge THANKS to our community for coming together!
More Advances in Colorado Cannabis Legislation
Cannabis, not Opioids
A bill that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in place of opioids is one step closer to becoming law in Colorado. In its third hearing, Senate Bill 13 passed the House on Tuesday. The Senate passed the bill in February.
Many of the conditions covered by Colorado’s medical marijuana program are chronic, meaning that they can last months or years, but for acute conditions, physicians often prescribe opioids. SB 13 would give physicians an alternative to highly addictive opioids, allowing them to prescribe medical marijuana for acute pain and other temporary medical conditions.
Rep. Kim Ransom (R), one of the bill’s sponsors, said, “[The opioid epidemic] affects all ages, all income levels, all areas of the state. We were trying to give doctors an additional option.”
The bill is heading back to the Senate for approval of changes made by the House. After that, the bill heads to Governor Jared Polis to be signed into law.
Cannabis consumption in “hospitality” establishments
While a social-use bill failed to get enough votes in Denver City Council, there’s still hope that Colorado will soon have more places to toke. House Bill 1230 would allow legal cannabis hospitality spaces in which marijuana could be sold and consumed. This would allow the creation of a new kind of space – likely next to or within a dispensary (or legal licensed cannabis business) to have a specific space dedicated to public consumption. The bill would make an exception to the Colorado Clean Air Act, which prohibits indoor smoking.
“The intent, really, is to solve a problem that we’ve had since Amendment 64 passed,” Rep. Jonathan Singer (D) said during a hearing for the bill. “Don’t consume it in the dispensary, don’t consume it in a street or in a park, don’t consume it in a hotel or a restaurant — and, by the way, if you’re a tourist, make sure you dispose of it before you leave the state.
The state licensing authority would be responsible for hammering out the final rules for cannabis “hospitality” establishments.
The bill passed the House on April 18 and is now headed to the Senate.
Finally, another new bill is ready for Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who hasn’t 100% committed but likely will sign, that would allow licensed cannabis businesses to deliver to local residents. House Bill 1234 passed the Colorado Senate after being approved by the House on April 18.
The bill creates a new licensed to allow for dispensaries and transporters to make legal drops to residents directly to their homes. If signed legal deliveries would begin as soon as 2020 for medical patients and in 2021 for recreational buyers.
Denver City Council Rejects Cannabis Social-Use Proposal
Hope for more social consumption venues in Denver was dealt a blow after an initiative that would have eased location restrictions failed to get enough votes from Denver City Council.
In 2016, Denver voters approved I-300, which allowed businesses to establish indoor cannabis consumption areas. As approved by voters, I-300 required cannabis-consumption venues to be 1,000 feet from schools. However, Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses expanded that list to include daycare facilities, drug-treatment centers, city pools, parks, and recreation centers.
Councilwoman Kendra Black’s proposed initiative would have kept the 1,000-foot restriction for schools but changed the restrictions for the added locations to 500 feet. The rules on where cannabis businesses can set up shop have limited the number of potential properties available, and since licensing began in 2017, only two social consumption establishments have opened their doors.
“We collect a lot of tax revenue, which we all welcome. This council voted unanimously to increase the marijuana sales tax for affordable housing. It seems contradictory that we heavily tax the industry, we welcome the sales to tourists, but don’t give them a place to consume,” Black said before the vote on the proposal.
Mayor Michael Hancock was opposed to the proposal as were organizations like the Children’s Hospital, Denver Public Schools, and the Denver Police Department. Opponents of the proposal cited public safety and protecting children.
“Denver voters have approved multiple marijuana measures, both locally and at a state level. Amendment 64 passed in a landslide, with two-thirds of Denver voters in support,” Black said. “The purpose of this initiative was to protect kids from seeing and smelling consumption in parks, on sidewalks on the 16th Street Mall and along our rivers. I’m really perplexed by people who are opposing this in the name of kids.”
Because the proposal would have changed a voter-approved initiative, Black’s proposal needed the approval of at least nine council members, rather than a simple majority. Seven of 12 council members voted in favor of the proposal, while five voted against it.
Mountain High Suckers Available in Puerto Rico
Happy 4/20 Week Mountain High Suckers Fans!
We’re extremely proud to announce that our cannabis (3:1 THC and CBD) infused suckers and lozenges products will be available on medical dispensary shelves in Puerto Rico starting this week!
Depending on delivery, distribution times, and actual inventory stocking, these products will be available to Puerto Rico medical cannabis patients soon and are working along with the 1919 Clinic – a licensed 25,000 square foot cultivation and manufacturing facility located in San Juan.
Legalization in Puerto Rico
In May 2015, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order permitting the use of medical cannabis. “We’re taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life,” said Gov. Padilla. “I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope.” Administrative Order Number 352, created regulations for the possession, cultivation, manufacturing, production, fabrication, dispensing, distributing, and ongoing research in medical cannabis to support the relief of pain, and disorders from MS to glaucoma and more. Patients are required to register for a medical license and all shops are required to register for official licenses with the state Dept. of Health.
About Mountain High Suckers
Mountain High Suckers has produced handmade suckers and lozenges since their beginning in 2009.
Not afraid to be bold, we infuse spiciness, mango and even coconut into suckers, too. We’re the pioneers of CBD in medical marijuana products in Colorado, providing edibles that offer a more balanced effect and a wide range of benefits.
Chad Tribble and John Garrison started the company back in 2009. Within months they began testing their strains and discovered their genetics provided a fair amount of CBD. Since then we’ve tested every batch of our hash oil to ensure proper potency and consistency within our products. We’ve continued at a steady pace, hand making our products the same way today as we did in the beginning.
Check out a full list of our PRODUCTS here >
Events for 4/20 Week in Colorado
Adult-use marijuana has been legal in Colorado for nearly five years, and the annual high holiday is bigger than ever. Celebrate cannabis culture at some of our favorite events in the Mile High City:
Mile High Chess (Not Checkers) Championship – April 11
Show off your chess skills at the first Mile High Chess (Not Checkers) Championship at Dean Ween’s Honey Pot Lounge. Presented by 0420Inc, this cannabis consumption event will have a DJ bumpin Wu-Tang, kung fu flicks, and dabs rolling while our community dukes it out for top chess champ. 6 pm -10 pm. RSVP early for 1/2 off the door cover. 0420 Inc. will also host a comedy night @ Dean Ween’s on April 22nd!
Sensi Night Denver – April 17
Celebrate Sensi Magazine’s 3rd anniversary at the EXDO Event Center in Denver’s RiNo Art District from 7 pm – 11 pm. Sensi’s free event will feature live artists and performers, massage and acupuncture stations, giveaways, brand exhibitors, and swag.
2019 Cannabis and Psychedelic Symposium – April 17
Learn about the latest science and issues surrounding cannabis and psychedelics at CU Boulder’s annual public education forum. The free event runs from 8:30 am – 9:30 pm. See a full schedule of panels and speakers here.
Snoop Dogg & Ice Cube at Red Rocks – April 18
If it’s 420 in the woods and Snoop Dogg isn’t there, is it really 420? This year he’s playing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre with Ice Cube, Warren G and Tha Dogg Pound.
Mile High 420 Festival – April 20
The Mile High 420 Festival in Civic Center Park draws thousands of people every year and is one of the biggest cannabis celebrations in the state. The lineup this year includes T.I., Jermaine Dupri, Eye Am Shane, $Subxrox MetaOx, and Big Legion & Hurox. The festival starts at 10 am and continues until 6 pm. The Mile High 420 Festival is free and will feature local music, comedy, food trucks, cannabis craft vendors, and more than 20 local charities.
Yoga with a View – April 20
If you’re looking for a more relaxing 420 experience, chill out with this 21-and-up, yoga-meets-cannabis brunch event. Hosted at Space Gallery in Denver from 11 am – 3 pm, the event begins with a yoga session followed by brunch prepared by Chef Kevin Grossi.
The Puff Ball with the Dean Ween Group – April 20
The Puff Ball with the Deen Ween is a giant dab party featuring Dean’s band, The Dean Ween Group and The Color Red All-Stars featuring Eddie Roberts (New Mastersounds), Jeremy Salken (Big Gigantic), and Gabe Mervin. This 21+ consumption event will be hosted at Deen Ween’s Honey Pot Lounge from 6 pm- 11:55 pm.
Also Coming in April – Mountain High Suckers in Puerto Rico!
Puerto Rico legalized medical cannabis in July, 2017. For the last year, Mountain High Suckers have been working with partners in Puerto Rico to release our products to medical dispensaries and we’re proud to announce that our first products will begin production shortly and will be ready to go around 4/20 (depending on availability / where you shop). We’re extremely proud to bring our favorite suckers and lozenges products to the Puerto Rico market! We’ll follow up with more details on social media throughout the month.
Colorado Legalizes Cannabis For Autism, Adds Bill for Medical Delivery
Cannabis Delivered to Your Door
There’s renewed hope for marijuana delivery in Colorado as a new bill that would legalize the service received approval from a state House committee. HB1234 would allow home delivery of medical marijuana starting in January 2020. Recreational marijuana delivery would be delayed until January 2021.
Rep. John Singer (D), one of the bill’s sponsors, said that the legislation is “an opportunity to stamp out a black market and provide a service for people who are sick.”
The bill includes a $1 delivery surcharge that will go to local law enforcement, and cities and counties must opt-in to the program. Delivery vehicles would be tracked by GPS and follow state-mandated safety rules. Medical marijuana dispensaries already in operation would have the first opportunity to apply for delivery permits. After a year, delivery permitting would open up to third-party transporters.
Matt Kahl, a veteran who uses medical cannabis, told lawmakers, “There are a lot of people out there who really need it. They have no other way to get cannabis.”
Last year, a similar measure was defeated in the Senate, but advocates of HB1234 hope that changes to the bill and Colorado’s new weed-friendly governor will improve its chances of becoming law.
“We have bipartisan support on this bill. We also have bipartisan opposition on this bill,” said Rep. Singer.
Medical Marijuana for Autism
On Autism Awareness Day, Governor Jared Polis (D) signed a bill that adds autism spectrum disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. The new law enables children under the age of 18 with autism to be treated with medical cannabis, provided they have the approval of two physicians.
“It’s National Autism Day today, and we are acting by expanding patients’ access to cannabis products that help those with autism,” Polis said before signing the bill. “We know that not just anecdotally, but with a mounting amount of good scientific data that is coming in.”
Colorado’s former governor, John Hickenlooper (D) vetoed several cannabis bills last year, including one that would have given access to medical cannabis to people with autism.
End of March Cannabis Industry News
CVS puts CBD topicals on stores shelves in 8 states
The largest drug store chain in the U.S. has started selling CBD products in eight states. CVS is partnering with Massachusetts-based Curaleaf to supply its hemp-derived CBD topicals, sprays, lotions, ointments, and salves. The CBD products are available in 800 stores in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and Tennessee.
“Anecdotally, we’ve heard from our customers that have used those products that, gee, it’s helped with pain relief for arthritis and other ailments,” CVS CEO Larry Merlo told CNBC. “So we’re gonna walk slowly, but we think this is something that customers are going to be looking for as part of the health offering.”
New Jersey lawmakers cancel vote on recreational cannabis
Legislation that would have legalized adult-use cannabis in New Jersey was pulled from a vote on Monday after failing to secure enough support from lawmakers. Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that he had reached an agreement with leaders in the state legislature to legalize recreational marijuana and it seemed like legal weed in New Jersey was a sure thing. However, despite Democrats controlling both the state Assembly and Senate, there ultimately weren’t enough lawmakers committed to a yes vote.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) said in a press conference that he and the governor are committed to passing cannabis legislation. “I may have underestimated the challenge of getting this passed,” Sweeney said. “We’ll be back at this. Anybody who thinks this is dead is wrong.”
On of the provisions of the proposed legislation would have expunged low-level marijuana convictions, and now that the bill won’t get a vote, residents will continue to face arrest and conviction for marijuana possession.
“I know that the biggest loss here is in terms of social justice and racial justice. We arrest 32,000 every year in New Jersey just for marijuana possession,” said New Jersey state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, Roseanne Scotti.
West Virginia passes law to provide cannabis banking
On Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed a bill that allows banks and other financial institutions to provide services to West Virginia’s medical marijuana industry.
“I will say, adamantly, I am 100 percent against recreational marijuana. But we have a lot of people and families out there who are truly hurting and if medical cannabis can help, we need to do everything we can to make life better for those West Virginians,” said Justice.
House Bill 2538 also created the Treasurer’s Medical Cannabis Fund to allow the state treasurer to collect funds for banking services as well as the Medical Cannabis Program Fund to collect fees related to the medical marijuana program.
Florida Lifts Ban on Smoking Marijuana
Smoking medical marijuana is now legal in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill on Monday lifting a ban enacted in 2017 on smokable cannabis products.
“Over 70% of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016 and today I signed SB182 ‘Medical Use of Marijuana’ into law. I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld,” DeSantis tweeted. “Now that we have honored our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honored my commitment and filed a joint motion to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional.”
While the new law is effective immediately, cannabis flower and other smokable products most likely won’t be available until this summer. The Florida Department of Health must create guidelines for physicians to prescribe medical marijuana to patients.
Under the new law, medical marijuana patients wishing to smoke cannabis flower must sign an informed consent form acknowledging the health risks associated with smoking. Smoking in public spaces or at private businesses subject to a cigarette smoking ban is prohibited.
Patients under the age of 18 are prohibited from smoking marijuana unless the patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness and receives a second recommendation from a pediatrician.
Qualified medical marijuana patients can buy up to a 210-day supply at a time, which amounts to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 35 days.
Florida has nearly 200,000 registered medical marijuana patients, and the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries expect to see an increase in sales in the tens of millions. Marijuana Business Daily estimated that medical marijuana in Florida earned $200 million-$300 million in 2018. Comparably, in 2017, medical marijuana sales were at $20 million-$40 million.
Florida sets a cap on the number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed to operate, but that rule is likely to be challenged. According to the Florida Department of Health, 85% of the state’s 107 dispensaries are operated by just five businesses.
In 2016, voters in Florida approved Amendment 2, legalizing medical marijuana. Florida’s former governor, Rick Scott, signed a bill in 2017 banning smokable medical marijuana.
New Jersey About to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
The Garden State could legalize recreational marijuana by the end of this month. After a year of negotiations, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Tuesday that he had reached an agreement with leaders in the state legislature to legalize adult-use cannabis.
Lawmakers are expected to hold a vote on the legislation on March 25, and the governor could sign in the bill into law later the same week. It’s not clear how soon the bill would go into effect.
“Legalizing adult-use marijuana is a monumental step to reducing disparities in our criminal justice system,” said Gov. Murphy in a press release. “After months of hard work and thoughtful negotiations, I’m thrilled to announce an agreement with my partners in the Legislature on the broad outlines of adult-use marijuana legislation. I believe that this legislation will establish an industry that brings fairness and economic opportunity to all of our communities, while promoting public safety by ensuring a safe product and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on serious crimes.”
The agreement includes a plan for expedited expungement of low-level marijuana convictions as well as provisions to encourage women and minorities to open cannabis businesses.
“The prohibition on marijuana has long been a failed policy,” said Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D). “This plan will bring an end to the adverse effects our outdated drug laws have had on the residents of our state. As a regulated product legalized marijuana will be safe and controlled. It is time to legalize adult use marijuana in New Jersey and this is a well crafted legal reform that will advance social policy in a fair and effective way.”
According the legislation, a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission will establish rules for marijuana cultivation and distribution. Three members will be appointed by the governor, and the other two will be chosen by the Assembly Speaker and the Senate President.
The state will collect excise tax at a rate $42 per ounce of adult-use marijuana, subject to collection at cultivation. Municipalities with cannabis retailers will collect a 3% tax, 2% from cultivators or manufacturers, and 1% from wholesalers.
Legal Cannabis States Facing Supply Shortages
While cannabis may the same across the country, not all legal-cannabis states regulate it in the same way. Ironing out the particulars of marijuana laws isn’t always straightforward, with regulations leaving some states struggling to keep pace with demand.
Recreational cannabis sales haven’t yet begun in Michigan, but it’s the state’s medical marijuana market that’s been experiencing a serious supply shortage.
In 2016, Michigan passed a law that implemented a five-tiered licensing system to grow, process, test, transport, and sell medical marijuana. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board issued licenses to 54 medical marijuana dispensaries but only 31 cannabis growers, leading to a supply shortage. Michigan has 297,515 registered medical marijuana patients.
Before the 2016 change to the medical marijuana program, licensed dispensaries could buy cannabis from more than 40,000 registered caregivers in the state. Under the medical marijuana law approved by voters in 2008, caregivers could grow up to 72 plants and sell the excess to dispensaries. In 2016, lawmakers changed the system, requiring licensed dispensaries to buy cannabis from licensed growers.
Under emergency rules in effect up until late last year, around 215 unlicensed dispensaries were still able to buy medical marijuana from caregivers, putting licensed dispensaries at a disadvantage. As of Dec. 31, 2018, all unlicensed dispensaries were forced to close, and the shortage of product from growers forced even some licensed dispensaries to shut their doors temporarily.
In an effort to solve the cannabis supply problem and the slow licensing process, newly-elected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order to eliminate the state licensing board and create a new Marijuana Regulatory Agency. The executive order will also allow unlicensed cannabis facilities to temporarily reopen and allow them to purchase cannabis from caregivers while new licensing regulations are put in place.
Illinois isn’t currently facing a cannabis shortage, but a new study commissioned by state legislators has found that legal recreational marijuana demand could exceed what licensed growers could supply. The report found that demand for recreational cannabis could be as high as 555,000 pounds of marijuana a year.
Under the state’s medical marijuana program, there are 16 licensed cannabis cultivators. The study found that with the current number of marijuana growers, they could only meet 35 to 54 percent of the demand for recreational marijuana. While shortages are a concern, the report notes that oversupply of cannabis is equally important to avoid.
“Systems that either dramatically fall short of demand or that oversupply the market create public policy challenges,” according to the report. “Avoiding both is an important expectation from the public, from producers, and from public health and public safety officials.”
If market demands were met, the report found that Illinois could bring in at least $440 million in tax revenue annually.
State Sen. Heather Steans (D) and state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D) commissioned the report ahead of introducing a bill to legalize recreational marijuana.
Similar to the medical marijuana situation in Michigan, slow-licensing and expiring temporary permits may cause a recreational marijuana shortage in California. Before the state finalized recreational marijuana regulations last year, most cannabis companies were operating under temporary licenses. Nearly 10,000 temporary licenses are set to expire this year, and the backlog of applications means that some dispensaries and cannabis grows may need to close temporarily before they are issued full annual permits.
Last month, state Sen. Mike McGuire (D) introduced Senate Bill 67 in an effort to keep cannabis companies with temporary permits in operation. The bill would allow the state’s three licensing authorities to extend existing temporary licenses while the bottleneck in licensing is addressed.
In a hearing for the bill, Terra Carver, the executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance, told lawmakers, “Without passage of this bill, there will be dire consequences, such as the imminent market collapse of hundreds of businesses.”
However, the soonest the bill could pass in the state legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newson (D) won’t be for at least two months.
“Best-case scenario, making it through all policy committees and off the floor of the Senate and Assembly in the next 60-90 days,” McGuire told Marijuana Business Daily. In the meantime, thousands of cannagrows and recreational marijuana dispensaries could be forced to close temporarily.
Denver City Council Makes Social Use Regulations Permanent
Denver’s social cannabis consumption pilot program was set to expire in 2020, but Denver City Council voted 10-1 to remove the sunset date, making the program permanent.
In 2016, Denverites approved Initiative 300, which was designed to allow businesses to establish indoor cannabis consumption areas. Private, invitation-only consumption events were already legal, but I-300 made it possible for businesses like yoga studios, art galleries, hotels, concert venues, and coffee shops to wade into the cannabis industry.
Since I-300 was enacted in 2017, the program has been plagued with problems. The sunset provision made it difficult for cannabis entrepreneurs to secure loans and investors, as well as physical space for their businesses. Leases for commercial buildings are typically three to five years, so before the sunset provision was eliminated, social use businesses would have to commit to a lease that would outlast the regulations.
Additional difficulties include restrictions on where social consumption lounges can set up shop, limiting the number of potential properties available. Marijuana businesses hoping to be licensed for social use must gain approval from nearby neighborhood or business groups, be located 1,000 feet away from schools, daycare facilities, drug treatment centers, city pools, and recreation centers.
Moreover, because of state restrictions, licensed consumption businesses are prohibited from allowing indoor smoking, cannabis sales, or alcohol consumption. Proposed legislation could ease some of these restrictions, making cannabis lounges more viable.
Denver City Council has been looking at ways to improve Denver’s social use program, and removing the sunset provision was the first step.
The only opposition to removing the sunset provision came from Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn. “I don’t believe that simply repealing the sunset, which voters had approved and authors of the initiative included, is going to make any difference in the context of all the other changes that would have to be looked at before this program would take off,” Flynn said. “I don’t see that removing the sunset would result in any new businesses suddenly coming forward, with all the other restrictions that I believe are truly the reason that more of these licenses have not been sought by other business.”
Since I-300 was enacted in 2017, the city has received just five applications. One of those applications was rejected, one was rescinded, one is still under review, and two were approved. The Coffee Joint in west Denver was the first business granted a social use license and is currently the only social pot business in operation. A second marijuana consumption lounge, Vape and Play, closed just a month after opening.
Cannabis Brings New Life to Small Towns
Ten years ago, Smiths Falls in Ontario was a small town in trouble. In the midst of a recession, the main employers in the area, including Canada’s largest Hershey’s chocolate factory, pulled up stakes, taking more than 1,500 jobs with them.
In a community of fewer than 9,000 people, the loss of so many jobs was devastating. Along with their income, people lost their homes and cars, grocery stores closed, and many of the town’s residents chose to move away.
Smiths Falls’ mayor, Shawn Pankow, said, “It was a five-year period there where it was hard to find any good news.”
That all changed in 2013, when Tweed Inc. and its parent company, Canopy Growth Corp. moved into Hershey’s old factory. Initially, the medical marijuana company promised the town about 150 jobs.
“And then Justin Trudeau comes along and says, ‘You know, we should think about recreational cannabis.’ And there was a lot of smiles in this building,” said Jordan Sinclair, vice president of communication for Canopy Grown Corp.
When Canada legalized recreational marijuana in October 2018, the company shipped more than a million cannabis orders in four weeks.
Five years after setting up shop, Canopy is the largest pot company in the world and employees more than 3,000 people globally. And Smiths Falls has gone from a virtual ghost town to the unofficial weed capital of Canada.
Carol Lawrence, who was once a tour guide at the Hershey factory, is now a tour guide for the Tweed visitor center.
“If someone had told me five years ago that I’d be standing working at a cannabis factory, I would look at them and say they’re crazy,” said Lawrence, “And look at me now.”
Smiths Falls isn’t the only small town revitalized by marijuana. Trinidad, Durango, and Cortez are three small communities in southern Colorado near the New Mexico border. Like Smiths Falls, the area was experiencing an economic depression, few jobs, and a falling population.
Nick Cordova, a local restaurant and hotel owner in Trinidad, said, “Before marijuana came here, the town was dead. Half the population was gone. Half the town was abandoned. Half the downtown buildings were abandoned and run down. Without weed, half this town wouldn’t be here. Literally.”
Since recreational marijuana sales began in Colorado in 2014, the population of Trinidad has nearly doubled, and these three small towns bring in the most cannabis sales per capita in the state. Last year, Cortez added $250,000 of marijuana taxes to their city budget, while Durango added around $400,000. Trinidad brought in the most tax revenue by far at an estimated $3 million.
Location is a big reason why these towns have thrived from cannabis dollars–a majority of marijuana purchases are made by people who travel from nearby New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Cannabis is bringing new opportunities and revenue to towns that were in desperate need of hope.
February 2019 Cannabis News Highlights
Canada finalizing rules for marijuana edibles
Canadians have until Feb. 20 to submit feedback to Health Canada before final marijuana edible regulations are released this summer. Canada legalized adult-use cannabis sales in Oct. 2018, but restricted the sale of marijuana edibles, infused beverages, concentrates, and topicals until Oct. 17, 2019.
Unlike regulations in the U.S., the proposed Canadian regulations will limit marijuana edibles and infused beverages to 10 milligrams of THC, regardless of whether it’s sold for medical or recreational use. Some experts in the marijuana industry worry that the low-THC limit will encourage black market sales.
“By limiting the entire packages to 10 milligrams of THC, the regulators will increase the amount of packaging waste associated with edible cannabis products and make legal businesses less competitive against the black-market operators that aren’t restrained on edible potency,” said Jordan Wellington, chief compliance officer at Denver-based Simplifya.
Unlike edibles, the limit for marijuana concentrates and topicals will be significantly higher, allowing up to 1000 milligrams of THC for both medical and recreational use.
Legal marijuana sales reach $6 billion in Colorado
Since legal adult-use sales began in 2014, Colorado has sold $6 billion in medical and recreational marijuana. Recreational cannabis sales in the state have continued to increase, while medical marijuana sales have fallen. According to Marijuana Business Daily, there was a 20% decrease in MMJ sales between 2017-2018, from $416 million to $332 million. Medical marijuana sales reached a market high in 2016, at $445 million.
Recreational sales in Colorado have grown steadily since 2014. Adult-use cannabis sales in 2017 reached $1 billion, while sales in 2018 reached $1.2 billion, an 11% increase. There was a huge leap in cannabis sales between 2016 and 2017 when sales increased by 49%. In 2014, the state sold just $303 million in adult-use cannabis.
European Parliament votes to increase access to medical marijuana
The European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution that would incentivize cannabis research, clinical studies, and access to medical marijuana among European Union countries. The vote follows a recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) that cannabis should be rescheduled under international drug treaties.
The resolution is non-binding, meaning that it doesn’t actually change any marijuana laws in EU countries, but it does show increased support for ending cannabis prohibition. In addition, the resolution calls for a commission to “define the conditions required to enable creditable, independent scientific research based on a wide range of material to be conducted into the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes” and to “address the regulatory, financial and cultural barriers” that have prevented cannabis research.
Congress holds cannabis banking hearing
Access to banking has long been an issue in the cannabis industry, with marijuana businesses having little-to-no-access to banking services. For the past six years, Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) and Danny Heck (D-Washington) have filed the “Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act” (SAFE) that would eliminate restrictions that prevent insurance and federal financial institutions from working with marijuana businesses. On Wednesday, the SAFE Banking Act received its first hearing in the House Financial Services Committee.
For cannabis companies, lack of access to banking creates challenges that companies in other sectors don’t have to tackle. Cannabis businesses are often forced to run cash-only operations, increasing the risk of crime, and regular business transactions like getting a loan, or paying employees and taxes are much more difficult.
Some credit unions have taken on banking for cannabis companies, but the American Bankers Association told the House Financial Services Committee that, “the majority of financial institutions will not take the legal, regulatory or reputational risk associated with banking cannabis-related businesses without congressional action,” and that access to banking services would make cannabis businesses “safer and better regulated.”
World Health Organization Won’t Regulate CBD, Recommends Rescheduling Cannabis
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued new recommendations to reschedule cannabis and its chemical components under international drug treaties. WHO also clarified its position on CBD, recommending that cannabidiol containing less than 0.2% of THC “should not be under international control.”
The report, which hasn’t yet been formally released, recommends that whole plant cannabis and cannabis resin should be removed from Schedule IV and be downgraded to a Schedule I substance.
Currently, THC in all forms is included under both the 1971 and 1961 treaties, creating confusion. The new recommendations would remove THC from the 1971 Convention and place it in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention.
Pharmaceutical preparations of THC, including medications like Sativex, would be categorized as Schedule III under the 1961 Convention.
Under international drug treaties, Schedule IV is the most-restrictive category, whereas in the U.S. the most-restrictive category is Schedule I. Drugs in the most-restrictive category are considered to have no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse.
Michael Krawitz, a legalization advocate and U.S. Air Force veteran, told Forbes, “the placement of cannabis in the 1961 treaty, in the absence of scientific evidence, was a terrible injustice. Today the World Health Organization has gone a long way towards setting the record straight. It is time for us all to support the World Health Organization’s recommendations and ensure politics don’t trump science.”
Despite acknowledging the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, the WHO recommendations won’t throw open the door to international legalization. As Tom Angell explains, “the practical effects of the changes would be somewhat limited, in that they wouldn’t allow countries to legalize marijuana and still be in strict compliance with international treaties, but their political implications are hard to overstate.”
The biggest implications for WHO’s recommendations are for CBD. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a memo recommending removing CBD from the Controlled Substances Act. However, international drug treaties that require the regulation of cannabis, including CBD, prevented the change.
However, in the memo, the FDA noted that “if treaty obligations do not require control of CBD, or if the international controls on CBD change in the future, this recommendation will need to be promptly revisited.”
WHO’s recommendations were expected in December, but its release was delayed. Members of the United Nations could vote on the recommendations in March, but the delay in the release of the report could mean that the vote is pushed back until 2020.
Colorado Legislature to Add Autism to Medical Marijuana Conditions
Autism could soon be added to the list of qualifying medical conditions eligible to be treated with medical marijuana in Colorado.
HB 1028 would enable children under the age of 18 with autism to be treated with medical cannabis, provided they have the approval of two physicians. However, the bill would eliminate the current requirement of a diagnosis from a primary care pediatrician, family physician, or psychiatrist.
Recent research suggests that cannabis can be therapeutically beneficial in treating symptoms of autism, including epileptic seizures, rage attacks, tics, and restlessness. A study published in the journal Nature on January 17, “Real life Experience of Medical Cannabis Treatment in Autism: Analysis of Safety and Efficacy,” found that “cannabis in ASD (autism spectrum disorder) patients appears to be well tolerated, safe and effective option to relieve symptoms associated with ASD.”
Exactly why cannabis is effective at treating patients with autism isn’t clear, though it may have to do with helping to regulate the endocannabinoid system. The study also found that patients treated with THC saw improvements in interpersonal communication and anxiety levels as well as a reduction in nocturnal motor activity, violence, behavioral and severity of behavioral disorders.” The study found that treatment with CBD could also lead to an improvement of behavioral symptoms.
The authors of the study caution that this was an observational study with no control group, and that further research is needed.
In November, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment awarded $1.35 million to the Colorado Children’s Hospital for a three-year study on how CBD affects children and adolescents with autism.
However, many parents with children who have severe autism symptoms don’t need to wait for more research to tell them what they anecdotally know: medical cannabis is a safe, effective treatment. Jamie Gomez, who has a 3-year-old son with severe autism, testified at the health committee hearing. She told CBS4, “We have already tried multiple medications that have not worked for him.”
HB 1028 passed the health committee 10-1 and will now head to the House floor for debate. Jared Polis, the new governor of Colorado, has indicated that he would sign the bill into law. Last year, a similar bill was vetoed by then Governor John Hickenlooper.
Mountain High Suckers Receives Better Business Bureau A+ Rating
Mountain High Suckers is extremely proud to announce that we have joined the latest group of cannabis based businesses to become A+ accredited by working with the Better Business Bureau through their new cannabis program. The Better Business Bureau has been working closely with Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division to properly vet cannabis businesses including verifying licensing info and communicating directly with businesses regarding complaints. The BBB says it decided to move forward in working together with cannabis businesses due to positive input from cannabis business owners and industry leaders.
Speaking on behalf of Mountain High Suckers in the latest press release from the BBB, our Director of Operations Mike Erdman said, “For us it’s about perception. We’ve been in business almost 10 years and never been able to operate as a normal business would. The inability to have the same services under the same day-to-day practices as other businesses is pervasive throughout every aspect of the cannabis industry, and we’ve struggled against it daily just by the nature of who we are and what we do.”
“We’ve always been honest people doing an honest day’s work and providing an honest product and this brief glimpse of normality in BBB offering accreditation provides legitimacy we are desperately trying to achieve. It’s an important step forward.”
Consumers can now visit the Better Business Bureau’s website at www.bbb.org directly to look up other accredited cannabis businesses, their ratings and their reviews. Note that the BBB doesn’t make any judgement related to the products themselves; the reviews will be solely focused on how cannabis businesses interact with other businesses and how they handle complaints. The BBB also only covers cannabis businesses operating within legal states where an accreditation system is in place.
About the Better Business Bureau
BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. All BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million businesses, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit www.bbb.org for more information.
Colorado Cannabis Dollars at Work
There’s a new session of the Colorado General Assembly, and that means a slew of new bills about how cannabis revenue in the state is spent. Here are some of the ways your cannabis tax dollars could be used for good in the year ahead:
- HB 1031, introduced by Representative Matt Gray, would allow medical marijuana patients under the age of 18 to have more than one primary caregiver at a time. The bill would make a big difference to families with children who use CBD oil to treat epileptic seizures or other medical conditions. Currently, the law allows only one parent or guardian to administer and purchase medical cannabis.”This is a common-sense idea. The idea that one parent can give their kid medicine and the other can’t is kind of ridiculous,” Gray told Westword.
- HB 1096, the “Colorado Right to Rest Act,” would prohibit discrimination based on housing status as well as establishing basic rights for those experiencing homelessness, “including but not limited to the right to rest in public spaces, to shelter themselves from the elements, to eat or accept food in any public space where food is not prohibited, to occupy a legally parked vehicle, and to have a reasonable expectation of privacy of their property.”The bill is sponsored by Representative Jovan Melton and would seek up to $10 million in marijuana tax revenue over three years.
- A bill to Expand Medication-Assisted Treatment Pilot Program, SB 001, would continue and expand a bill enacted in 2017 that created a two-year medication-assisted treatment (MAT) pilot program. The 2017 bill is administered by the University of Colorado College of Nursing and expanded access to medication-assisted treatment of opioid dependence to Pueblo and Routt counties. SB 001 would expand the pilot program to include counties in the San Luis Valley and two additional counties. Responsibility for administering the program would shift to the Center for Research into substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery and support strategies.Annual appropriation funds would increase to $5 million for the 2019-’20 and 2020-’21 fiscal years as well as extending the pilot program for an additional two years. The bill is sponsored by Senator Leroy Garcia.
- Senator Nancy Todd and Representative Bri Buentello introduced SB 066, a bill that would create a trust fund for high-cost special education “to be used for high-cost special education trust fund grants to public school special education administrative units that have made significant expenditures in providing special education services to a child with a disability.”The bill would have an annual appropriation equal to 2 percent of the amount available for appropriation from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.
- Professional Behavioral Health Services for Schools (SB 010), sponsored by Senator Rhonda Fields, Representative Barbara McLachlan, and Representative Donald Valdez, allows “grant money to be used for behavioral health care services at recipient schools and specifies that grants may also fund behavioral health services contracts with community providers.” SB 010 doesn’t actually request additional funding for grans, but the General Assembly does have the option of appropriating additional funds from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.The Department of Education would be required to prioritize grant applications based on the school’s need for additional health professionals and would allow school districts to enter into agreements with ” specified groups to implement evidence-based, school-wide behavior supports and strategies to build and support positive school climates, including providing behavioral health services and support; implement strategies to reduce the incidence of suspension and expulsion; and implement alternatives to suspension or expulsion.”
- HB 1008 would amend the existing “Building Excellent Schools Today Act” to include grants to support career and technical education in public schools. The bill would include funding to support:
- New construction or retrofitting of public school facilities for certain career and technical education programs; and
- Equipment necessary for individual student learning and classroom instruction, including equipment that provides access to instructional materials or that is necessary for professional use by a classroom teacher.
Funding for the bill wouldn’t be funded exclusively from marijuana tax dollars. Instead it would come from a combination of State Land Board proceeds, Colorado Lottery spillover funds, and interest accrued in the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund. Matching funds from grant recipients would be required. HB 1008 is sponsored by Senator Nancy Todd, Senator Paul Lundeen, Representative Tracy Kraft-Tharp, and Representative Colin Larson.
H.R. 420 Would Regulate Cannabis like Alcohol, Deschedule Marijuana
On Jan. 9, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Or) introduced a bill, H.R. 420, that would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. Dubbed the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” the bill would allow state governments to regulate cannabis.
“While the bill number may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, the issue is very serious,” said Blumenauer in a press release. “Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives. Congress cannot continue to be out of touch with a movement that a growing majority of Americans support. It’s time to end this senseless prohibition.”
Responsibility for enforcement of marijuana laws would be moved from the US Drug Enforcement Administration to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Cultivating, packaging, selling, and importing cannabis would be regulated with federal permits.
Blumenauer, who is co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, picked up the legislation from former Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Colorado’s newly sworn-in governor. When Polis sponsored a version of the bill during he last Congress, the bill gained the support of 26 cosponsors.
The support for ending cannabis prohibition is higher than ever. In an Oct. 2018 Gallup poll, 2 out of 3 Americans support national legalization.
Descheduling cannabis would allow federal funding of cannabis research, as well as allowing cannabis businesses to access banking services.
The legislation would potentially allow selling cannabis across state lines, which would help states with a surplus of cannabis. However, selling or transporting marijuana would be prohibited for states that have not legalized cannabis.
H.R. 420 is the third piece of cannabis legislation filed so far in the new Congress. Even if H.R. 420 fails to gain traction in Congress, the Congressional Cannabis Caucus has a plan to move marijuana legalization forward in 2019. They recently release a step-by-step plan to end federal cannabis prohibition.
“The Cannabis Caucus was the first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws,” Blumenauer said in a public statement. “Congress is clearly out of step with the American people on cannabis when national support for federal marijuana legalization is at an all-time high and we saw several states move toward legalization last November.”
2018: The Year in Weed
Another year, more legal cannabis! 2018 saw a ton of changes in the cannabis industry and support for legalization is at an all-time high.
These were some of the biggest cannabis stories of 2018:
California Adult-Use Sales
On January 1, recreational marijuana sales officially began in California. The state is home to nearly 40 million people, and the potential cannabis revenue is in the billions. Changing regulations, licensing delays, high taxes, local cannabis bans, and testing snafus caused a less than smooth roll-out of adult-use sales in the state. California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), charged with issuing licenses to retailers and distributors, initially issued businesses licenses to eighty-eight stores in 34 cities. As of December, the BCC has issued 547 temporary licenses to recreational marijuana dispensaries, still on the low end to supply the market adequately. Only 70 of California’s 482 cities allows recreational cannabis retail stores, but recent changes in regulations will allow cannabis deliveries throughout the state.
Massachusetts also began adult-use sales this year, with the first recreational dispensaries opening in November.
FDA Approves Cannabis Epilepsy Medication, Pushes to Deschedule CBD
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex, a cannabis-derived medication used to treat certain forms of epilepsy, in June. Epidiolex, developed by UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals, is made from CBD and contains no THC.
In October, the FDA released a memo advising the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that CBD has “negligible potential for abuse,” “currently accepted medical use in treatment,” and that any abuse “may lead to limited physical dependence.” As a result, the FDA recommended that the DEA reschedule CBD under its least restrictive category, Schedule 5.
Canada Legalizes Marijuana Nationwide
On October 17, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize adult-use cannabis. Uruguay was the first country to legalize cannabis in 2013. In June, the Senate and House of Commons passed the Cannabis Act, making it legal for adults 18 years-and-older to purchase, possess, and grow cannabis. Canadians will be able to cultivate up to four plants and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in public. There’s no limit to the amount of cannabis residents can possess in their homes.
November’s mid-term elections resulted in huge wins for adult-use and medical marijuana legalization. Michigan was the first state in the Midwest and the 10th in the country to approve recreational marijuana. The first recreational dispensaries are expected to open in 2019 or 2020.
In Missouri and Utah voters were in favor of medical marijuana, a watershed moment in states that have traditionally opposed marijuana use. Missouri had three medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot, but Amendment 2 was the only one to pass with 65 percent approval. In Utah, Proposition 2 met voter approval, despite opposition from the Mormon Church.
Farm Bill Legalizes Hemp
The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, legalizing its use as an agricultural product. While the bill didn’t deschedule CBD, it did legalize CBD extraction from hemp. The bill will enable farmers to grow, sell, and export industrial hemp, and opens the door for researchers studying CBD and other cannabinoids. Moving hemp to legal status will make banking and advertising in the industry more accessible, and this could be another step closer to nationwide cannabis legalization.
California Allows Cannabis Delivery, Sets Final Marijuana Regulations
After months of tweaks, regulators have finalized rules for California’s recreational marijuana industry. The regulations were drafted by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) and must receive approval from the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) before becoming permanent.
Here are some of the key regulations:
Cannabis delivery statewide
One of the most debated regulations involved cannabis delivery in the state. The California League of Cities and law enforcement groups were opposed to statewide deliveries, arguing that it would undermine local government control and increase crime. However, the BCC decided that the language of Proposition 64 permits statewide deliveries, even if the local municipality bans cannabis.
Packaging and exit bags
Packaging headaches seem part and parcel of the cannabis industry, and California cannabis manufacturers should expect more “regulatory whiplash.” Cannabis manufacturers and growers have until 2020 to ensure their packaging is child-resistant. Until then, dispensaries and retailers will need to place cannabis products in resealable exit packaging.
Revised testing requirements
As of July 1, mandatory testing of all cannabis products, including flower and edibles, were required to undergo testing for pesticides, pathogens, and potency. In the first two months of testing, there was a 20-percent failure rate, which has since dropped to 14 percent. Of the 23,864 products tested between July and November, 2,100 products didn’t make it to shelves because the label overestimated the amount of THC.
Sequoia Analytical Labs surrendered its testing license after state regulators discovered that the company was falsifying test results and not testing for pesticides and other contaminants.
Josh Drayton of the California Cannabis Industry Association said that it’s an “open secret” that some cannabis manufacturers have paid testing companies for favorable results.
“We don’t want to create a pay-to-play system with our testing labs,” said Drayton. “We do need to make sure we get standard operating procedures.”
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and voters approved Proposition 64 legalizing recreational cannabis in 2016. Adult-use sales began Jan. 1, 2018. Cannabis research firms ArcView Market Research and BDS Analytics estimate that California will generate $4.7 billion in recreational cannabis sales and $300 million in medical marijuana sales in 2019.
Farm Bill Allows Cultivation of Hemp & CBD
The Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill 87-13 on Tuesday, a huge step towards legalizing hemp cultivation. The bill would remove industrial hemp from the federal government’s list of controlled substances and categorize it as an agricultural product. The bill would also allow CBD and other cannabinoid extraction.
The Hemp Farming Act was originally introduced by Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden before being included in the 2018 Farm Bill by Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Not only will farmers be able to grow, sell and export industrial hemp, it will also make it easier for researchers who want to study hemp oil products, CBD, and other cannabinoids. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will oversee hemp production, but states will be in charge of regulating and testing industrial hemp.
Any CBD extracted from hemp must be below 0.3 percent THC. Hemp producers whose plants exceed the THC threshold will not be subject to drug charges, but they must submit a plan to correct the “hot” hemp.
Legalizing hemp will open the door for banking, advertising, and insurance, access to which has long been a hurdle in the cannabis industry.
Other key elements of the bill include:
- Allowing the sale and transportation of hemp and hemp-derived CBD across state lines.
- Placing no restrictions on how hemp can be used, including for CBD and other cannabinoid extraction.
- Hemp cultivation will be legal in all 50 states and overseen by the USDA; however, individual states will be the primary regulators. The USDA must consult with the U.S. attorney general before creating rules applicable to hemp production.
- Unlike the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp cultivation will be allowed in U.S. territories and on Indian tribal land.
- Hemp companies will be able to apply for patents, trademarks and other intellectual property protections under federal law.
- Allowing access to federally-backed farm support programs like federal water access, crop insurance, and low-interest loans for new farmers.
The bill will need to pass in the House and be signed by President Trump before it becomes law.
Researchers Discover How Marijuana and Hemp Evolved Separately
Researchers at the University of Toronto have completed mapping the cannabis sativa genome and have discovered how CBD and THC evolved in hemp and marijuana.
Hemp and cannabis are both species of the Cannabis sativa family, but while they share 85% of the same proteins, the two strains evolved distinct chemical properties. Hemp produces an abundance of the cannabidiol CBD while cannabis contains more of the psychoactive cannabidiol THC.
By mapping the cannabis genome, researchers discovered that marijuana and hemp evolved into separate species of the same plant through the action of virus-like DNA segments called retroelements. About ten million years ago, one of these virus-like infections spread through the Cannabis sativa species, changing the DNA of the plant and replicating itself into what scientists call “junk DNA.” The mutation changed the chemical compounds the plants created, and selective breeding by humans reinforced these characteristics.
“The researchers believe that gene duplication of the ancestral synthase gene and expanding retroelements drove ancient cannabis to split into chemically distinct types. Humans subsequently selected for plants containing desirable chemistry such as high THC,” according to U of T News.
Other findings in the study included the discovery of the gene responsible for producing a cannabinoid called cannabichromene (CBC), which may also have some psychoactive properties. There are hundreds of cannabinoids, many of which are still unknown. Mapping the cannabis genome means that more cannabinoids can be discovered and studied, leading to “new strains with desired medical properties as well as varieties that can be grown more sustainably, or with increased resistance to diseases and pests.”
Until now, producing cannabis plants that do not produce any THC has been unsuccessful. However the chromosome map “should make it possible to separate them during breeding to grow plants without THC.”
Tim Hughes and researchers at the University of Toronto, Jonathan Page of Aurora Cannabis and the University of British Columbia, and Harm van Bakel of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai collaborated on the research. The study was published in the Journal of Genome Research.
A first draft of the study was originally released in 2011; however, it was still incomplete, something the researchers blame on restrictions in cannabis research.
“Mainstream science has still not done enough because of research restrictions,” says Page. “Legalization and looming ease of research regulation really provide for opportunities for more research to be done. And Canada is leading the way.”
Marijuana Business Con Draws Record Attendees
MJBizCon in Las Vegas had its biggest year yet, with a record-breaking 27,000 people attending the annual conference aimed at marijuana professionals and investors.
Jeanette Horton, a vendor at the conference and VP of Global Marketing Communications, said, “It’s surreal. It’s so buzzy and energetic. It’s hard to believe how fast it’s grown.”
Since the first MJBizCon in 2011, the annual cannabis conference has grown immensely. According to Trade Show Executive Magazine, MJBizCon is the fastest-growing retail trade show in the United States.
- The number of attendees at this year’s conference represented an increase of 52 percent from the 2017 convention. In 2017, 18,000 cannabis professionals attended the convention, an increase from 2016 of 67 percent.
- Canada represented the largest number of attendees from outside of the U.S, accounting for just under 70 percent of non-U.S. attendees. About 13 percent of the conference attendees were from outside the U.S, and there were attendees from 70 different countries.
- 1,028 cannabis companies exhibited at MJBizCon, a 38 percent increase from 2017. Last year, a total of 678 marijuana businesses attended the conference, up from 321 exhibitors in 2016.
- Companies involved in the cannabis industry span many different business sectors, including manufacturing, grow and cultivation, investing and marketing, legal services, technology, and consulting. Speakers and panels covered topics like investment, data analytics, branding, compliance, minorities and women in cannabis.
The growth of MJBizCon reflects the increasing number of states in the U.S. legalizing medical and adult-use cannabis. Last month, voters in Michigan voted to legalize recreational marijuana, and voters in Missouri and Utah legalized medical cannabis. Adult-use cannabis is legal in ten states plus Washington, D.C. and medical marijuana is legal in 33 states.
Chris Walsh, the founding editor and vice president of Marijuana Business Daily, who hosts the event, said at the conference, “I’ve been chronicling and analyzing this industry for the past seven-plus years, and for the first time I can potentially see a federal change coming within the next year.”
“There will be a big crack in the marijuana legalization dam in the U.S.,” Walsh said. “So much pressure is building up in significant areas – in the business community, in the investor world, in the general population, in this global movement – that lawmakers must start to pay more attention.”