Cannabis Smoking Associated with Higher Sperm Count, Study Finds: A history of smoking cannabis has unexpectedly been linked to greater fertility in men. The result came as a big surprise to scientists measuring the sperm counts of more than 600 men from couples attending a fertility clinic. For the new study, investigators collected 1,143 semen samples from 662 men between 2000 and 2017. Participants who admitted ever taking the drug turned out to have higher sperm counts than non-users. The finding does not necessarily mean that smoking cannabis increases the chances of fatherhood, the study authors and other experts were quick to point out. There could be a non-causal explanation for the association, such as the effect of the male hormone testosterone on both sperm count and risk-taking behaviour such as smoking cannabis. US lead researcher Dr. Jorge Chavarro, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said: “These unexpected findings highlight how little we know about the reproductive health effects of marijuana, and in fact of the health effects of marijuana in general. Bloomberg
Cannabis Jobs Pay 11% More Than The US Median Salary, and Demand is up 76%: Job openings rose 76 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, with 1,512 open roles posted in that final month of 2018 alone, according to Glassdoor. Back in 2017, that number was only 858. The industry’s acceleration doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon either, as this latest upsurge only continues a trend Glassdoor has been observing over the past few years, thanks to loosening restrictions on the drug. Growing public support and Canada’s decision to legalize cannabis at a federal level last year seem to be inspiring the industry to make big human resource investments, despite the legal issues it could face on a national level. The roles these companies are looking to fill might not be what you expect, either. While they need retail workers to man shops and people to tend the crop, 53 percent of the industry’s opening are for professional or technical workers such as audit assurance managers, product managers and marketing managers. “As the cannabis industry becomes more legitimate, more and more professional roles will be in demand to help businesses comply with tax laws and regulations and scale into larger markets,” Zhao wrote. Cannabis workers earn a good wage too — about 11 percent more than the U.S. median salary of $52,863, according to Glassdoor’s December 2018 Local Pay Report. The median paycheck in the industry is $58,511 a year, or $5,648 more than the national figure, though individual salaries can range from $22,326 annually for service jobs all the way up to $215,384 annually for legal professionals. The most in-demand cannabis jobs tend to be in service or retail — think roles like brand ambassador and sales associate — which each account for 5 percent of available jobs. But that’s mostly because higher level or more technical roles tend to be more varied, making them unlikely to be concentrated under the same title. Glassdoor
Congressional Democrats Plan Hearing and Vote on Marijuana Business Banking: Newly empowered congressional Democrats reportedly plan to hold a House hearing next week on marijuana businesses’ difficulties accessing banks—signifying renewed momentum for cannabis issues on Capitol Hill following years of blockades by the former Republican leadership of the chamber. Party leaders are also laying the groundwork to vote on a marijuana banking bill soon, Marijuana Moment has learned. A February 13 hearing on the issue would come almost exactly five years to the day after the Obama administration’s Treasury Department issued a Valentine’s Day 2014 memo outlining guidance for how banks can serve cannabis businesses without running afoul of federal regulators. Marijuana Moment
Gov Says It’s Still Possible for New York to Legalize Adult-Use Marijuana by April: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he remains confident the Legislature can vote to legalize recreational cannabis as part of the state budget, which is due April 1. While both the Democratic governor and Heastie support legalization, there’s not yet agreement on the details, such as rules about how the product should be sold and regulated as well as tax rates. Cuomo’s plan, as outlined in his budget-briefing book, is to:
- Issue separate grower, distributor and retail store licenses.
- Prohibit cultivators from operating retail stores.
- Institute three taxes.
Cuomo said that while getting a good bill passed is more important than the timing of the vote, he’s not giving up hope of adding New York to the list of states that have legalized adult-use marijuana. MJ Biz Daily
Pennsylvania Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Legalize Marijuana: Pennsylvania Rep. Jake Wheatley (D) and 25 cosponsors filed a bill on Monday to legalize marijuana in the state. The legislation would allow adults 21 and older to possess, consume and cultivate cannabis, as well as purchase it from licensed retailers. Individuals could grow up to six plants, only three of which could be mature, for personal use. The bill would expunge the criminal records of those with past marijuana convictions and require the release of people currently imprisoned for cannabis offenses made legal under the legislation. It would also establish equity policies to ensure that “diverse groups have equal opportunity in the permitting process.” While Pennsylvania is seen as one of the most likely states to legalize in 2019, both the House and Senate are Republican-controlled and it’s not clear that cannabis proposals will necessarily receive a floor vote in either chamber. Marijuana Moment
Judge Rejects Cap on Marijuana Dispensaries in Florida: Siding with Florida’s largest cannabis operator, a circuit judge for the second time struck down a law capping the number of dispensaries medical marijuana businesses can run. The limit on the number of retail storefronts was included in a 2017 law aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. But Quincy-based Trulieve challenged the provision, arguing the restriction “arbitrarily impairs product availability and safety” and “unfairly penalizes” pot providers. Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers agreed with Trulieve last month, but lawyers for the company asked her to revisit an order that also struck down the state’s “vertical integration” system requiring medical marijuana operators to handle all aspects of the cannabis trade, including growing, processing and dispensing. Gievers’ order Friday replaces the Jan. 2 ruling, which, according to Trulieve, went “beyond the scope” of what the marijuana operator had sought. Gievers scorched the Legislature and state health officials for failing to comply with the constitutional amendment, which was approved by more than 71 percent of voters in 2016. Orlando Sentinel
Republican Introduces Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Proposal in Tennessee: A Republican lawmaker introduced a comprehensive bill Monday that would allow Tennesseans suffering from a variety of maladies to use medical marijuana. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Janice Bowling, is dubbed the “Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act.” Although lawmakers introduced a bill in 2018 that would have only allowed oil-based manufactured products to be consumed, Bowling’s measure appears to permit any form of marijuana for medical purposes. Bowling’s legislation would not permit any recreational use of marijuana in Tennessee. Qualifying patients would be required to obtain a “valid cannabis card.” To obtain the card, the legislation requires applicants to be at least 18 years old, a resident of Tennessee, pay a $65 application fee and obtain a written diagnosis or medical record from a health care provider. The legislation also allows parents and legal guardians to obtain a cannabis card on behalf of a minor. Cannabis cards would expire two years after they are issued. Bowling’s measure also establishes the formation of a nine-member commission, which would be charged with, among other things, “making medical grade cannabis available to qualified patients.” The commission would begin to issue cannabis cards as early as 2020. The proposal also permits the cultivation and sale of marijuana throughout Tennessee. Tennessean
‘In Three Years, Medical Cannabis Could be Sold in Swiss Pharmacies’: Tens of thousands of patients in Switzerland regularly use cannabis to relieve pain and discomfort. Most of them do so illegally, however. Rudolf Brenneisen, a leading expert on medical cannabis, talks to swissinfo about the current predicament and his hopes to see cannabis on chemists’ shelves. The cultivation, consumption and sale of cannabis with a THC content over 1% is prohibited in Switzerland (the threshold is 0.2% in the European Union). The new Federal Narcotics Act, which has been in force since 2011, allows for the controlled use of cannabis for medical purposes. But this requires special authorisation from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). However, this procedure delays the start of treatment and represents “an obstacle to access of treatment”, according to the Swiss government, which intends to facilitate the use of medical cannabis for patients who need it. A draft law on this issue will be presented this summer. Swiss Info
The Most Efficient Way to Smoke Cannabis? Study Says Dabs: According to the 2019 study from Forensic Science International, dabbing is significantly more efficient at delivering cannabis’ main active ingredient compared to other inhaled methods like burning a joint or a pipe bowl. Dabbers inhale extract that’s boiling off a heated piece of quartz, ceramic, or titanium. Over 75% of the THC in a dab makes it into the users’ lungs. By contrast, smoking cannabis destroys about 75% of the THC before it can get into the user, the study found. Vaporizers are a different story. Most vaporizers averaged recovery rates in the mid-to-high 50s. One study showed rates from 51.4% – 82.7%, depending on the vaporizer. Only one vaporizer studied came close to the recovery rates for dabbing. Leafly
Instances of Cannabis Poisoning on The Rise, Warns Quebec Poison Control Centre: The Quebec Poison Control Centre says the number of reported cases of cannabis poisoning has more than tripled in the province since the drug was legalized last fall. Symptoms of cannabis poisoning include elevated heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, vomiting and in some cases psychosis, possibly necessitating hospitalization. The centre says that from October through December, it recorded 89 cases. For the same period last year, the centre only recorded 25 cases. Maude Saint-Onge, director of the Quebec Poison Control Centre, says the jump in local cases of cannabis poisoning were significant enough to file a report with the department of public health. “Right now, it’s hard to distinguish whether there is more exposure, more cases of over-intoxication, or simply more people calling because they feel more comfortable now that it’s legal,” she said. 420 Intel
Chart: Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Program on The Rise and Out-of-State Patients are on Horizon: Hawaii’s medical marijuana patient rolls continue to grow, rising 17% in 2018, with the vast majority of adults in the program seeking relief from severe pain. More than 20,000 patients 18 and older, or 85%, reported severe pain as a qualifying condition for MMJ treatment. Hawaii’s medical marijuana patient rolls added 3,467 new patients to reach 23,746 patients as of Dec. 31. Dispensaries stand to benefit from a new patient base as the state prepares to implement Act 116, allowing registered MMJ cardholders from other states to obtain a 60-day Hawaiian medical marijuana card. Although the timeline for implementing the program is hazy, the state plans to launch the application process this month. MJ Biz Daily
Oregon is Producing Twice as Much Cannabis as People are Using: Oregon is producing twice as much cannabis as people are using, according to a new study from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. And Oregon has been overproducing marijuana for a while — leaving more than six years’ worth of supply sitting on shelves and at farms. The oversupply of cannabis has driven down prices. Since recreational cannabis was legalized three years ago, prices have dropped from $10 a gram to less than $5 a gram. That may be good for consumers, but the worry is weak regulations plus a massive oversupply will fuel the black market. The OLCC puts forward four possible policy ideas on how lawmakers could respond to the oversupply: (1) not do anything. The “creative destruction” of a normal market will take over. Many businesses will fail, others will consolidate and, eventually, the market will find an equilibrium between supply and demand. (2) limit canopy sizes. That means restricting the amount of cannabis each license holder can grow. (3) increase license fees. The problem with that idea is that up to now, license fees have been such a small part of costs, that to make a big difference, the fees would have to increase a great deal. (4) capping the number of licenses or continuing the current moratorium on granting licenses. But that could put the OLCC in the position of picking winners and losers, which is not something agency leaders can be nervous about. Opb.org
New Study Says States that Legalize Marijuana First Will Have Big Advantage Over States that Do So Later: A study published in the Journal of the Economic & Business History Society examined alcohol prohibition in the United States to see if there are any lessons that could be applied to marijuana legalization. The researchers looked at whether the first states to re-legalize alcohol sales after it was allowed again in 1933 saw advantages compared to states that did so in later years. They found that states who legalized alcohol sales first saw both short-term and long-term advantages to doing so that helped improve the health of the industry. They then extrapolated the lessons from this to suggest that states that legalize marijuana first will also see similar types of advantages. Civilized Life
World Health Organization Recommends Rescheduling Cannabis, Provides Clarity on CBD: Member states of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) received the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Drug Dependence’s (ECDD) cannabis recommendations, which had been expected in December. The CND had been expected to consider rescheduling cannabis in March 2019 at its annual meeting, but the delay in receiving the ECDD recommendations may push that consideration into 2020 to provide additional time for member states to review them. The report recommends several changes to how cannabis is scheduled, which could have significant implications for the cannabis industry:
- The scheduling of cannabis in the international drug control conventions wouldn’t be as restrictive as it is now, because it would be removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention, the category reserved for the most dangerous substances.
- THC in all forms would be removed from the 1971 Convention and placed with cannabis in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, significantly simplifying cannabis classification.
- Pure CBD and CBD preparations containing no more than 0.2% THC would not be included in any way in the international drug control conventions.
Pharmaceutical preparations containing 9-THC, if they follow certain criteria, would be added to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention, recognizing the unlikelihood of abuse. MJ Biz Daily
Canada Has ‘Sufficient Supply’ to Meet Cannabis Demand, Ottawa says: Canada’s federal government says the country has more than enough legal cannabis to meet demand even as some provinces complain about shortages. “The data is clear: There remains sufficient supply to meet and exceed existing demand,” Bill Blair, Canada’s minister in charge of marijuana, said Wednesday. Blair suggested shortage-hit provinces still have wrinkles to iron out of their wholesale and retail systems. Just over 7,000 kilograms (15,432 pounds) of medical and adult-use dried cannabis was sold to consumers in December compared with the 19,000 kilograms that were “ready for sale” in warehouses across the country, according to Health Canada. Also in December, cannabis oil held in stock by cultivators, processors, wholesalers and retailers that was “ready for sale” outstripped actual sales 5-to-1. The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. – which oversees cannabis sales in the province – said customers are looking for particular products, causing shortages of some items. “Our customers are looking for particular product pack sizes and THC/CBD levels, and those are the areas in which we are experiencing shortages,” spokeswoman Beverley Ware said. “For example, there is great demand for smaller package sizes of high-THC dried flower. MJ Biz Daily
Danish Medicinal Cannabis Prescriptions Exceed Expected Numbers: Prior to the end of 2017, parliament passed a law enabling selected patient groups to be prescribed cannabis oil by their general practitioners as part of a four-year trial. Ailments eligible for the treatment include multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, spinal cord injuries and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. But doctors were reported to be reluctant about prescribing the medicine, citing a lack of studies determining its effectiveness and side effects. Around 500 patients were initially expected to make use of the trial, DR reports. But one year in, 1,400 people have already been given a prescription for the alternative treatment, the broadcaster writes, based on figures recorded by the Ministry of Health. Thelocal.dk
Thailand Suspends Patent Applications for Medical Marijuana: Thailand’s military government on Monday suspended the licensing of commercial marijuana-based products for medical use amid concern that foreign pharmaceutical companies might try to monopolize the market. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s decree orders the director of the Department of Intellectual Property to invalidate all patent applications for medical marijuana products, declaring that for the time being commercial products from marijuana or having the same molecular structure as the plant are not supported under intellectual property laws. The decree says it will remain in effect until legislation on medical marijuana comes into force. Madison
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