Canadian Pension Fund Loads up on These 4 Marijuana Stocks: The Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP) is one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers, with CDN $153 billion of net assets under management as of March 31, 2018. It was disclosed that as of the end of 2018 PSP backed up the truck and loaded up on 2.56 million shares of Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX: ACB) (NYSE: ACB). The cost of PSP’s Aurora Cannabis holding was roughly USD $12,719,000 with an avg per share cost of USD $4.96.
This pension fund manager also added 60,300 shares to their position in Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC) bringing their total holding to 555,100 shares. The total cost of PSP’s Canopy holding was approximately USD $14,879,00 with an average cost per share of USD $26.80.
Snoop Dogg and The Toronto Maple Leafs ‘Drop The Mitts’ Over Trademark Infringement Allegations: Aside from being one of the most proclaimed rappers of the 90’s – Snoop Dogg is notoriously known for his obsession with the Cannabis plant. Few know the leaps and bounds the rapper has made on the commerce side of Cannabis. With deals ranging from Canopy Growth (TSX: WEED) (NYSE: CGC) for exclusive rights to Snoop’s brand Leafs by Snoop, all the way to his venture capital fund LBC Holdings. Snoop Dogg has been quite literally smoking the competition.
Recent headlines, however, seem to shed some light on trademark issues that Calvin Broadus Jr., (Snoop Dogg) is having with one of his brands. The issue involves allegations of trademark infringement by the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 2016 TSN acquired documents from the Canadian trademarks office outlining Snoops alleged infringement. Leafs by Snoop’s logo consists of white lettering over top of a seven-pronged leaf, with a font that is similar to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ logo.
Federal Reserve Head Calls for Clarity on Marijuana Banking Issues: Conflicting federal and state marijuana laws put financial institutions and regulators in “a very difficult position,” the U.S.’s top central banking official said on Tuesday. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) asked Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell whether banks “need clarity” on how to deal with cannabis businesses in legalized states. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also emphasized the need for federal reform so that cannabis businesses don’t have to operate on a cash-only basis. He said that addressing banking concerns in the marijuana industry was at the “top of the list” of his department’s concerns. But this year, it seems they might get their wish. The first marijuana-related hearing of the 116th Congress concerned banking issues for state-legal cannabis businesses, and witnesses representing financial institutions urged members of a subcommittee to pass legislation that shields banks that service marijuana companies from federal penalties.
All 2020 Presidential Candidates Now Support Marijuana Legalization Efforts — Even the Republicans: All 12 official Democratic candidates, as well as the potential Republican hopeful and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, told the Globe they now support full nationwide legalization, Canada-style. President Trump, meanwhile, has said he supports states’ rights to legalize. For Democrats, especially, being for cannabis legalization might be as much of a litmus test in 2020 among voters as is being for abortion rights. But they must face their past stances with honesty, political strategists say. In 2008, now-US Senator Kamala Harris touted her high conviction rates for drug dealers as a district attorney, and Joe Biden, the former vice president — who is likely to run, but hasn’t announced — was long an evangelist for the war on drugs. The political sea change has followed public opinion: About 62 percent of Americans want marijuana to be legal, almost double the 35 percent who said so in 2008, according to the Pew Research Center. In addition, political analysts say, the changes in candidates’ views were driven by potential tax revenues and job creation, the popularity of reducing mass incarceration, and an aging population interested in the potential medical benefits. Possibly the only potential presidential candidate who disagrees on the issue is Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor. In 2013, he called medical marijuana “one of the great hoaxes of all times.” In 2015, he said that the successful measure in Colorado was “one of the stupider things that’s happening in the country.” Speaking in Canada last month, Bloomberg said Canada’s new national cannabis law “is just nonsensical”.
Vermont Senate Expected to Vote on Legal Marijuana Sales Bill This Week: A bill to tax and regulate marijuana in Vermont is heading to a vote before the full Senate this week after clearing the latest in a string of committee victories on Tuesday. Senate Bill 54 would establish a Cannabis Control Board as the state’s regulatory body for a legal marijuana market and set up five types of licenses for various businesses. If approved by lawmakers and signed into law, the Board would form on July 1 of this year, with licenses for retailers set to be issued on or before April 1, 2021. A fiscal note issued by the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office disclosed cost estimates for the board as well as anticipated revenues from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s recommended 16 percent excise tax. Officials project a range of $3.8 million to $7.4 million in revenue in the first fiscal year and $8.6 million to $16.6 million by 2024.
Adult-Use Marijuana Advances in New Mexico as House Panel OKs Legalization Bill: Recreational cannabis legalization appears to be gathering steam in New Mexico under a Democratic-controlled Legislature and a new governor who supports recreational MJ if there are adequate safeguards. A house panel voted 7-3 to send a recreational marijuana measure to the full House, the first time that’s happened in the state’s history, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Here are some key business elements to the House bill:
- Licenses would be issued for seven general categories: cultivators, processors, microbusinesses, retailers, testing labs, couriers and home growers who cultivate for their own use.
- Existing medical marijuana operations would be grandfathered in and receive temporary rec MJ licenses by January 2020. Permanent licenses would be issued by January 2021.
- Cities and counties could opt out or ban commercial sales.
- Each licensed home grower could cultivate up to six mature plants and six immature plants.
The UN Delays Voting on Cannabis: The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) will not vote on the World Health Organization’s cannabis recommendations at its upcoming session on March 7, in Vienna. Several of the CND’s 53 member states requested additional time for considering the recommendations, including Japan –who punish cannabis users with the same harsh penalties as heroin users– the United States –where medical marijuana is legal in 34 states and adult use is legal in eleven, and Germany, where medical marijuana is already available in German pharmacies, though they often face shortages. The representative of Uruguay, where both medical and adult use cannabis are legal, stressed the necessity of not delaying the vote again without agreeing on a specific, future date. Perhaps member states should continue to progress at their own rates, and follow Uruguay and Canada’s lead, rather than sit around waiting and pinning their hopes on a perpetually postponed collective vote.
Two in Three (65%) Canadians Would Take a Drug Containing Cannabis if Prescribed by a Doctor and Covered by Insurance: The study revealed that two in three (65%) Canadians would be willing (36% very/29% somewhat) to take a pharmaceutical drug containing cannabis that their doctor prescribed, if it was approved by Health Canada and covered by either public or private insurance. Those more likely to be willing to take these drugs include men (69%), those aged 18-34 (72%), and residents of Ontario (71%). By contrast, if these drugs were not covered by public or private insurance and patients had to pay out of pocket, four in ten (38%) would still be willing to do so (14% strongly/25% somewhat), particularly among men (44%), those aged 18-34 (51%), and residents of BC (50%). The main findings of the Tetra Bio-Pharma Ipsos poll are:
- Majority of Canadians believe taking cannabis for medical reasons without consulting a doctor poses a risk.
- Knowledge of Canadian clinical trials investigating cannabis medicines is low.
- Slim majority of Canadians agree that their doctor is informed enough to treat them with cannabis.
- Majority of Canadians do not consider themselves as cannabis users.
Peru Lays Groundwork for Commercial Medical Cannabis Production, Sales: More than one year after Peru legalized medical cannabis, the South American country published a regulatory decree providing clarity about how the program will work, including possible cultivation and manufacture of high-THC cannabis by private companies. The decree, published Saturday, estimates that a “minimum of 7,596” patients in Peru are in urgent need of access to medical marijuana and notes that “sufficient scientific evidence” exists for its use for several medical conditions, including: chronic neuropathic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, multiple sclerosis spasticity, and pediatric refractory epilepsy. Government agencies have 60-90 working days to publish their internal regulations and procedures for the program.
Saint Kitts and Nevis to Legalize Medical Cannabis, Decriminalize Adult Use: After 15 months of public consultation, Saint Kitts and Nevis are ready to follow regional neighbors in developing a medical cannabis industry. In a statement to the National Assembly, Prime Minister Timothy Harris said the government will present necessary bills to facilitate the country’s new public policy direction on cannabis. The unanimous recommendations include a call for permitting the use of cannabis and its derivatives for medical and scientific purposes under a strict legislated regime.
Congress Extends State-Legal Medical Cannabis Programs’ Protections Timing: Key protections for state-legal medical marijuana programs are included in the spending bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last week. The protections, which will remain in effect until Sept. 30, 2019, bar the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with state-legal medical cannabis programs. The provision doesn’t protect adult-use marijuana businesses. New Attorney General William Barr said during his recent Senate confirmation hearings that he would adopt a hands-off policy toward state-legal cannabis businesses.
Marijuana Legalization is Not Driving Increases in Violent Crime: Allegations that the regulation of marijuana use and retail sales is responsible for an uptick in violent criminal activity, are not supported by the available evidence. In fact, studies typically show just the opposite to be true. Specifically, FBI data from Washington state correlates legalization with decreases in violent criminal activity. As reported by The News Tribune in 2017, “Since voters approved Initiative 502, FBI crime statistics show lower rates of violent crime in Washington than before legalization.” A similar trend emerged in Colorado following legalization. According to a white paper published by the CATO Institute think-tank, “[M]onthly crime rates from Denver, Colorado … remain essentially constant after 2012 and 2014. … Other cities in Colorado mirror those findings.” More recently, a 2018 study published in the journal Police Quarterly reported that cannabis legalization is associated with an overall improvement in crime clearance rates.
Arizona: House Panel OKs Bill to Legalize Extracts Under Medical Marijuana Law: A House committee voted Wednesday to ensure that edible forms of marijuana remain available for sale in Arizona, no matter what the Arizona Supreme Court eventually decides. HB 2149 would spell out that the 2010 voter-approved law that allows marijuana to be used for medical purposes also legalized anything made from the resins. That can include something as simple as a tincture that a parent can give a sick child or more complex and commercial products like gummy bears and chocolate bars THC.
Michigan Seeking Input in March as it Crafts Rules for Adult-Use Marijuana Industry: The Bureau of Marijuana Regulation has begun drafting rules and arranging staff internally to process license applications, said Andrew Brisbo, director of the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation. The state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs must start accepting applications for marijuana businesses by this December — under the law that voters passed in 2018 legalizing marijuana. That’s an issue because although marijuana is legal for adults 21 and over to possess and consume, there are no stores for consumers to buy from yet. Brisbo said the department plans to start holding work groups in March to garner input on certain topics.
Marijuana Legalization Bill Approved by Key New Hampshire House Committee: A New Hampshire House committee approved a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana in the state on Thursday. The legislation, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess, purchase and gift up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants (three of which could be mature), cleared the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in a 10-9 vote. A governor-appointed commission would be responsible for issuing licenses for marijuana cultivators, product manufacturers, testing facilities and retailers. Possession and home cultivation would be legal 60 days after the bill passes, and the first retail licenses would be issued in November 2020.
‘A New Cash Crop’: Florida Readies for Billion-Dollar Hemp Market: Fresh from entering the medical marijuana market, Florida now envisions taking a healthy slice of the anticipated $22 billion market in hemp. Holly Bell, who helped start Tennessee’s hemp program, said the Florida Department of Agriculture is working with the state Legislature on a bill to implement a hemp program. Bell said Commissioner Fried’s goals are to “allow smaller growers to compete, give consumers more choices, and ensure the product is safe for consumers.” She noted that CBD products are outselling THC — or marijuana — products at a ratio of 10-to-1.
Denver Dispensaries Have Collected Nearly $2.4 Billion Since Legalization: This city has seen almost $2.4 billion in marijuana sales since the first retail dispensary opened on January 1, 2014, according to our calculations based on Colorado Department of Revenue data. Denver has been the center of the statewide marijuana industry since its inception, and by 2018 it was home to over 210 medical, recreational and dual-use dispensaries. DOR data shows that Denver County dispensaries accounted for well over one-third of Colorado’s $6 billion in marijuana sales from 2014 through 2018, and brought in over $536 million last year alone. But that Denver sales figure reflects a slight 7 percent drop from the year before, falling from $577.5 million in 2017. Meanwhile, statewide sales increased around 2.5 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Ontario’s Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Decline Again; Canada Sees Modest Growth: Ontario was the only province in Canada to see lower month-over-month sales of adult-use cannabis in December, according to new Statistics Canada data – the latest sign that the provincial government continues to struggle to get a handle on the new industry. Sales in Ontario dropped to just $8.7 million Canadian ($6.6 million) in December, down 1.5% from CA$8.9 million the previous month. December’s sales are a 25% drop-off compared with October’s sales of CA$11.7 million – the first month of legalization. British Columbia and Ontario have been at the bottom of per-person sales since Canada legalized cannabis Oct. 17, 2018. Alberta led Canada with CA$13.5 million in sales in December, followed by Quebec at CA$11.9 million.
House Members Urge FDA Chief to Issue Guidelines for CBD Food Products: A bipartisan group in the U.S. House of Representatives is pushing the Trump administration to provide a legal pathway for food products infused with the marijuana compound cannabidiol (CBD). In a letter sent to the Food and Drug Administration on Feb. 15, 2019, the lawmakers wrote that a series of recent actions by state and local officials in New York City, Maine, and Ohio to crack down on the sale of CBD foods and beverages have “spurred a tremendous amount of confusion among product manufacturers, hemp farmers, and consumers of these products.” FDA officials have so far refused to say whether it was involved in the local crackdowns in any way. Following the federal legalization of hemp and products derived from it in late 2018 through the 2018 Farm Bill, FDA released a lengthy statement saying that it reserves the right to regulate cannabis-based products. The agency would take action against businesses making unsupported claims about CBD’s therapeutic potential, it said, even if the products in question were derived from legal hemp crops, and it warned against introducing such products into interstate commerce. “States are looking for immediate leadership from the Federal Government to eliminate confusion around this issue,” the House lawmakers wrote. “Furthermore, numerous states are pursuing legislative efforts that would allow for the intrastate commerce of food products with CBD, potentially leading to a patchwork of state regulations”.
US Cannabis Drinks Sales Set to Pass $1 Billion by 2023: The CBD Drinks Report said US sales of cannabis-based drinks was worth $86 million last year- but sales were likely to pass the key $1 billion barrier in 2023, jumping to around $1.4 billion by 2024. “Key growth drivers for cannabidiol [a key active component of cannabis known as CBD] drinks include loosening regulatory implementation, investment by major brewers and innovation by numerous start-ups,” Zenith global chairman Richard Hall said. The rate of innovation in cannabis-infused drinks is already growing and is expected to accelerate following the passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill) last December, which removed hemp (an almost identical plant that does not contain the psychoactive compound Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) from schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.
California Made $345 Million, Not Predicted $1 Billion, on Legal Cannabis in 2018: Industry Supporters Say High Taxes, Black Market to Blame.: California took in $345.2 million in tax revenue from legal cannabis during the first year of regulated sales in 2018, according to figures the state released Tuesday. That’s just more than a third of the $1 billion in annual revenue analysts predicted California would see once the state’s regulated cannabis industry was in full gear. But it does put the state on track to hit the revenue totals Gov. Gavin Newsom forecast in his current fiscal year budget. The industry, along with some regulators and lawmakers, says the state’s high taxes and a thriving black market are to blame. For the current fiscal year, from July 2018 to June 2019, Brown initially budgeted for the state to take in $630 million in marijuana tax earnings. Newsom’s proposed budget substantially dropped that forecast down to $355 million this fiscal year.
Florida to Challenge Court Ruling That Would up Medical Cannabis Dispensary Caps: Florida regulators intend to challenge a state court ruling that would eliminate the limit on the number of dispensaries a medical marijuana business can operate. Lifting the cap would benefit the state’s existing MMJ operators. Trulieve filed the suit seeking to boost the number of allowable dispensaries. The state health department’s move to hold the line at least for now on dispensary limits comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is asking the Legislature to make other reforms that would open up Florida’s MMJ market to more business opportunities. Loosening licensing rules so more businesses can enter the program.
The Biggest Challenges Facing Legal Weed in 2019, According to Industry Insiders: While 2019 might not shape up to be the banner year for the legal cannabis industry that 2018 was, the market isn’t slowing down, with recreational cannabis now legal in ten states, DC and the entirety of Canada. However, an expanding legal marijuana market also comes with growing pains. Here are predictions from nine industry insiders on what will be the biggest challenges facing legal weed in 2019.
- Banking. Period.
- Compliance will keep being a hurdle.
- Regulation and oversupply.
- Lack of sophistication in the operations between businesses.
- Regulation itself.
- Fierce competition for small businesses.
- The banking issue is like a looming shadow.
- Education and accuracy.
- Big corporations with big money.
Medical Marijuana Sales in Pennsylvania Exceed $132M in First Year: Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis businesses made at least 600,000 transactions during the program’s first year and their sales totaled $132 million, according to state officials. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said that more than 83,000 people purchased MMJ at the 45 dispensaries that are up and running. More than $2 million in state taxes were paid by grower/processors. Roughly 1,000 doctors are currently approved to certify patients for the program.
Ontario Delivers Yet Another Cannabis Decision That Hurts Retailers and Helps Illegal Dealers: Recently, the AGCO stated legal cannabis shops in the province will be prohibited from offering online retail options to consumers. This means that the initial 25 cannabis stores in Ontario and the multitude of stores that could open once the province lifts its temporary cap on retail licenses won’t be able to offer consumers online ordering for store pickup (click and collect). Nor will they be able to offer any same-day delivery services. By mandating that all e-commerce be run through the OCS, the government is enacting policy that will empower the black market. This benefits the black market because it eliminates the prospect of private retailers offering click and collect, or same-day delivery. Both click and collect and same-day delivery are purchase options that significantly increase consumer access, which is key to curbing black-market sales. In order to truly achieve the goal of stamping out criminal actors, legal cannabis needs to be more accessible than illegal cannabis, which is something that click and collect and delivery can help with.
Black Market Pot Sales Booming in Wake of Legalization: Cops: The federal Liberals legalized recreational cannabis in Canada last year promising it would inject billions into government coffers and eliminate the black market, among other things. However, with so much money to be made, street-level dealers are still shooting one another and another big pot bust north of the city shows illegal weed sales continue to boom. While law enforcement agencies have been focused on the grey market, shutting down many of the GTA’s illegal dispensaries, police sources say the black market — often involving organized crime elements — has flourished. A lack of storefront dispensaries and weed shortages have prompted many cannabis users to stick with their street dealers rather than order pot through Canada Post and wait for it to be delivered, one cop explained.
MPs, Patients, and the Medical Cannabis Sector Urge Government to Remove Unfair Taxes on Medical Cannabis: Yesterday, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (“CFAMM”) spoke on Parliament Hill, joined by patients, elected officials and allies in the cannabis sector urging the federal government to remove all taxes on medical cannabis. As the federal government prepares to release the 2019 Budget, CFAMM called on all citizens to stand with Canadian patients in telling their local and federal representatives: #DontTaxMedicine! “Medical cannabis patients are already dealing with all the challenges associated with a chronic illness, and many of them are in income constrained situations.” Aurora Cannabis’ Chief Corporate Officer Cam Battley said.
Ban Gummy Bears and Other Kid-Friendly Cannabis Edibles, says Toronto Medical Officer of Health: Toronto’s medical officer of health is calling for a ban on products like gummy bears, lollipops, and candy-flavoured vaping flavours that could appeal to kids. In a new report, Dr. Eileen de Villa also recommends that the city’s board of health urge the federal government to adopt a variety of other strategies to keep youth safe — including prohibiting promotion of vaping products in places youth can access, and banning marketing materials showing cannabis use in movies and video games.
West Virginia House Passes Medical Marijuana Banking Bill: A bill that provides state protections for banks that deal with medical marijuana revenue was approved overwhelmingly by the West Virginia House of Delegates on Friday. Introduced by Del. Eric Nelson (R), the legislation authorizes the state treasurer to open a bidding process for banks and other financial institutions that are willing to process the “fees, penalties and taxes collected under” the state’s medical cannabis program. It would also make it so the state government could not “prohibit, penalize, incentivize, or otherwise impair” financial institutions that accept accounts for medical cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state law.
France’s Softening Stance on Cannabis Opens up Huge Economic Potential: Between 2015 and 2017, according to Statista, just over 11% of the French population said they had used cannabis over the previous year, the highest of any European country. Until recently, France had some of the most onerous punishments for cannabis use in Europe, with offenders receiving fines of €3,750 and a-year-long prison sentence. France brought in new regulations in 2018 where people who are found with cannabis for personal use are now given much lower fines of €150-200. In line with other European countries, France allowed the use of cannabis-based medicine in 2014 and more recently, in September 2018, the French Health Association, ANSM (Agency nationale de sécurité du médicament et des products de santé) published its findings into the medicinal use of cannabis, which it now publicly supports as a medicinal response to help reduce pain, control epilepsy, and help in cases of palliative care and cancer. In all cases, it doesn’t recommend smoking cannabis but rather taking the drug in other forms. French law now states that the drug cannot be sold at more than 0.2% THC so new shops now sell cannabis which is lower than the legal limit. They do not advocate smoking it but making teas with it. For the first time in their lives, French people are able to buy drugs at a cashier’s desk and get a receipt.
EU Parliament Calls for Medicinal Cannabis to be Covered by Public Health: Last week MEPs voted to adopt a resolution on the medicinal use of cannabis which asked for an EU-wide legal definition of medicinal cannabis to be established, in order to distinguish it from other uses of the plant. According to the parliament, adopting a clear policy on medical cannabis would benefit the safety and quality of the drug, saying that several EU member states have already legalized the medical use of some forms of cannabis, or are considering it. The authors of the resolution also called on member states to boost funding for medicinal cannabis research. The MEPs said that creating EU-wide guidelines on medical cannabis would help reduce abuse of the drug, thwart the trade of it on the black market and prevent young people from becoming addicted to it. The resolution also noted the policy should emphasize the safety of young people and pregnant women who receive the drug.
S. Korea to Allow Imports of Medical Cannabis Starting in March: South Korea will allow imports of medical cannabis starting next month, health authorities said Tuesday, as part of efforts to provide more treatment options for patients with rare diseases. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said the National Assembly has passed a bill to amend a relevant law to allow imports and exports of non-hallucinogenic doses of medical marijuana for patients suffering from epilepsy and other diseases. The law will take effect on March 12, officials said.
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