Charlie Sheen Set to Enter the Cannabis Market, Genius or Sheenius?: Big news surfaced yesterday that actor and TV personality Charlie Sheen, best known for his recent publicity stunts, has plans to unveil his own line of Cannabis vape pens. Naming the vapes Sheenius is a testament to the inflated ego that is Charlie Sheen. The pens will range from different levels of THC. The vapes also boast some of the most clever yet borderline absurd names that we’ve ever seen given to products. His first lines will include, MaliBlue Dream, Grandma’s Perfume, and if that wasn’t enough, you can have a pull of “Clown Mace.” Charlie was quoted telling the Daily Mail – “Clown mace is great because what clown shouldn’t be maced?”
Canopy Growth Forms Another Large Partnership with Seth Rogen’s Houseplant Cannabis Brand: Another large name in entertainment hits the cannabis industry news this week. Seth Rogen shares a new era of the recreational cannabis experience to the public as he releases his product line, Houseplant. The international giant, Canopy Growth, has partnered with Seth to add Houseplant to their line of products in addition to their celebrity-endorsed line, Leafs by Snoop. What differentiates Houseplant from the rest is their top-tier quality products, but even more so, their immersive strain-specific experience.
Founded by Seth Rogen and his childhood friend Evan Goldberg, Houseplant plans to launch in the coming months by selling premium limited-edition product sets that tailor to strain-specific experiences.
Governor Delays Planned Expansion of New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program: Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is walking back its public plans for expanding New Jersey’s medical marijuana program after fielding concerns from state legislative leaders. A legislative source said there were concerns that medical expansion could harm the prospects for legalization. Hours after Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin canceled a vote on a package of bills that would have legalized recreational cannabis, instituted new criminal justice reforms and expanded the state’s medical marijuana program, Murphy said his administration was planning to increase the state’s supply of medical cannabis on its own. With the Democrat’s marijuana legalization push temporarily on hold, “we’ll likely aggressively further open up the medical regime in the next day or two,” Murphy said at a town hall meeting Monday night, adding that he’d like to see as many 200,000 patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program.
A Big Legislative Catalyst for Cannabis Stocks is Coming Soon: The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is expected to receive a full committee markup on Tuesday, March 26. This would be a huge step forward for the cannabis industry, not just in terms of a path to legalization but also a path to creating a robust industry. The SAFE Banking Act will come before the House Financial Services Committee for its first markup. Keep in mind that this will be the first time that a bill related to cannabis banking has ever received a markup by a congressional committee. What this SAFE Banking Act ultimately would do is prevent federal banking regulators from punishing banks for working with cannabis-related businesses that are obeying state laws or from halting their services, taking action on loans made to those businesses or limiting a depository institution’s access to the Deposit Insurance Fund. The bill also would protect ancillary businesses that work with the cannabis industry from being charged with money laundering and other financial crimes, and it requires the Financial Institution Examination Council to develop guidance to help credit unions and banks understand how to lawfully serve cannabis businesses.
GOP Lawmakers Want Marijuana Banking Vote Delayed in Congress: A key congressional committee is scheduled to vote on far-reaching legislation that would expand marijuana businesses’ ability to store their profits in banks on Tuesday. But key Republican lawmakers on the panel are now asking Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) to delay the vote. “As you know, marijuana is a schedule I controlled substance… The impact that many state laws, which have legalized marijuana, have on the federal laws governing the manufacturing, use, and sale of marijuana, including proceeds, raise many questions and concerns,” Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) wrote in a letter to Waters on Thursday. “Any change to these statutes, or those that impact them, has the potential to divide the Congress and the country. We must ensure that Congress has done its due diligence, including conducting thorough oversight and review, before moving such legislation.” The bill currently has 143 cosponsors—almost a third of the entire House—including 12 Republicans. If enacted, it would protect banks that serve the cannabis industry from being penalized by federal regulators under money laundering and drug laws.
All 25 Ontario Cannabis Shops Won’t be Ready to Open on Monday: Ontario will not have all of its 25 cannabis retail shops open next week as the government had intended, as several store licence holders are still wading through a lengthy approvals process. While stores that fail to open on Monday could face escalating penalties for delays, the government said it would not rush the vetting process. “We’ll wait and see on April 1 how many open,” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said Monday. “There was prohibition for 100 years and we’re going to be in this business for 100 years. We will not rush into anything.” Recreational cannabis can currently only be purchased legally in Ontario through a government-run website.
One-in-Five Canadian Adults Expected to be Cannabis Consumers by 2025: One-in-five Canadian adults are expected to be cannabis consumers by the year 2025, according to EY analysis. Consumers are projected to spend an average of $1,652 on cannabis products annually—up by 30% from $1,263 this year. EY analysis indicates that if current and planned facility expansions of over 14+ million square feet are completed and licensed in a timely manner, the supply of cannabis production in Canada will outpace demand in less than five years. This will increase competition and drive down commodity prices, resulting in the average wholesale price for dried flower to likely be between $4-$5 by 2025.
- Average annual cannabis spend projected to grow by 30% by 2025
- Consumption will likely be split between dried flower (46%) and extracts (37%)
- Supply of cannabis product could outpace demand in less than five years
Medical Cannabis License Growth Still Sizzling in Oklahoma: Nine months after Oklahoma voters approved one of the most business-friendly medical marijuana initiatives in the country, the number of licenses and patient approvals continue to rise at a feverish pace. Low barriers to entry for both are driving the growth, namely:
- Businesses have no license caps and a low application/license fee of $2,500. The fee is nonrefundable, however.
- Patients have no qualifying medical conditions to meet, just a recommendation from a physician. Patients also are allowed to grow their own marijuana.
Marijuana Legalization Bill Clears Key Connecticut Legislative Committee: A key committee in the Connecticut General Assembly approved a bill to legalize marijuana on March 25, 2019. The General Law Committee, which is one of two panels that heard testimony about legalization legislation a week earlier, voted 10 to 8 to advance the bill. It’s not yet clear whether the legislature will ultimately pass this proposal or a separate bill in the Senate, but if either does end up on the desk of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, he’s expected to sign. The governor called legalization one of his “priorities” in 2018 and also discussed the issue during a budget speech in February 2019. The General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on legalization legislation on March 28, 2019.
Texas Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Decriminalization in Committee Vote: A Texas House committee approved a marijuana decriminalization bill on Monday that would make simple possession punishable by a fine, with no jail time, and without having to go on an individual’s criminal record. Advocates are hopeful that the full House will embrace the modest reform measure, even as the legislature contemplates other cannabis policies such as expanding the state’s limited medical marijuana program. While medical cannabis expansion, to say nothing of adult-use legalization, remains a dubious prospect in the conservative stronghold, removing the threat of jail time for possession has gained popularity among Texas Republicans. Delegates for the Republican Party of Texas adopted a platform plank last year that endorses marijuana decriminalization, for example.
High Times Names its 2019 100 Most Influential People in the Cannabis Industry: The High Times 100 celebrates the 100 most influential people in the cannabis world. From entrepreneurs and activists to entertainers and cultivators, the women and men on this illustrious list are shaping the current cannabis industry. Learn more about the most influential people in marijuana in our second annual HT 100.
The NFL May be About to End its Cannabis Ban: As public opinion of cannabis usage quickly changes, most professional sports leagues have remained steadfast in their opposition to it and continue to ban players from using it. Only one U.S. pro sports team has ever even taken on a cannabis sponsor, while sports leagues and their teams continue to take great strides to distance themselves with any cannabis associations. It’s a broad banishment that may soon come to an end. The National Football League is reportedly considering “major concessions regarding the substance-abuse policy, especially as it relates to marijuana,” reports NBC Sports. Their source, from within the NFL, says that these marijuana concessions will be part of negotiations with the NFL Players Associations, the union that represents players. They will be implemented in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, the contract between the union and the NFL. The details about how far the NFL is willing to go in its concessions with the players association aren’t known, but according to NBC Sports’ source, they could go as far as completely removing restrictions against players’ marijuana usage.
UN Cannabis Vote Expected March 2020 as Agency Hints at Soft Stance: A key international vote on cannabis rescheduling may not be held until March 2020, as governments continue to push for more time to decide on downgrading marijuana to a less harmful category. The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has been due to rule on recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) that cannabis be removed from the Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs. Such a move would free cannabis from international treaty restrictions and kickstart a global boom, leaving nations free to pursue research without fear of sanction. The recommendation list is not felt to be comprehensive enough for several governments wishing to learn more about medicinal cannabis. In accepting the reforms now, without appropriate scrutiny, they believe it would set a damaging precedent for the future. At a recent meeting, it was proposed to push the decision to March 2020, as the December 2019 meeting would still likely not be soon enough.
California Just Got Closer to Allowing CBD in Foods and Licensed Cannabis Facilities: One of the most frequent questions we receive is whether CBD is a lawful additive in foods. The answer is often no depending on the state in which Hemp CBD food products will be sold. At a baseline, there has been guidance from the federal FDA which says that Hemp CBD cannot be added to foods. Some states have taken an aggressive approach to enforcement, while others haven’t. One of the states with a clearer position is California. The California Department of Public Health, in its now infamous Hemp CBD FAQs, took the position that Hemp CBD could NOT be added to foods—and this position was notably based on federal law (which now has been changed via the 2018 Farm Bill) and the FDA’s position. Back in January, a piece of California legislation that had just been introduced, AB-228, which was aimed at paving the way for adding Hemp CBD to foods, beverages, and cosmetics. On March 13, 2019, AB-228 got some well-needed amendments which put the law much closer to actually allowing Hemp CBD to be included in food products. Of equal importance, the amendments may open up the manufacture and sale of products which contain Hemp CBD in the licensed cannabis chain, which is a first for licensed cannabis companies in the Golden State.
Arizona: House Dumps Bid to Make Marijuana Extracts Legal: Republican lawmakers rejected a bid Thursday to clarify that edible forms of marijuana made from extracts are legal. On a 29-29 tie the House beat back a proposal by Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, to spell out in law that what voters legalized in 2010 for medical use includes not just the dried flowers of the marijuana plant but also any extracts, resins and concentrates. Friese acknowledged that his proposal comes just days after Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Benjamin Kreutzberg argued to the Arizona Supreme Court that voters never intended to legalize anything other than the use of the flowers and leaves. Kreutzberg in essence is asking the justices to rule that all the other forms of marijuana now available through state-licensed dispensaries – including the candies, liquids and oils – can no longer be sold in the state. Friese’s proposal, had it been enacted, would have made whatever the high court decides legally moot.
CBD is Booming. But US Farmers Struggle to Keep up with Demand for Industrial Hemp: Last year, retail sales of CBD consumer products in the U.S. were estimated at between $600 million and $2 billion, according to investment research firm Cowen. Most hemp farmers are growing the plant like a tomato, a process that’s expensive and intensive, said David Williams, an agronomist at the University of Kentucky who studies hemp. This model works for marijuana because you want the flower to look and smell nice, but industrial hemp produces such small amounts of CBD that growing it and harvesting it to extract the molecule is incredibly expensive. Farmers won’t find out how much THC their plants produce until they’re harvested, dried and the CBD is extracted. During this process, the CBD becomes concentrated and the THC gets dragged along with it, possibly to the point where the amount of THC exceeds the legal limit. With CBD coming into vogue, some are latching onto the trend and cutting corners along the way. Retailers say they’re constantly receiving pitches from people asking to put their products on shelves. Chris Burton, retail partner manager at online CBD store HelloMD, grills brands on where their hemp is grown, how the CBD is extracted, where their lab tests are and more. Burton says this “green rush” worries him that people seeing dollar signs are moving as fast they can to brings products to market.
You Can’t Own More Than 3 Pot Shops, but These Companies are Testing the Limit — and Bragging About it: In a state where no firm is legally permitted to own — or control — more than three stores that sell recreational pot, Sea Hunter is poised to test that limit. It has boasted to investors that it operates or has significant power over a dozen or more marijuana retail licenses. But you won’t see the name “Sea Hunter” on the shops; instead, they will carry names like Herbology, Verdant, and Ermont. Sea Hunter, along with a large rival called Acreage Holdings, is using complex corporate structures to acquire or manage store licenses from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, commanding high-interest loans and strict management contracts as they become quiet titans of Massachusetts marijuana. Their aggressive growth plans are not just pushing the limits built into the state law, but may be busting them entirely. Their early moves also threaten the state’s promise to not just legalize recreational marijuana but to make the marketplace for the drug a fair one in which diversity of ownership is prized and small players have a chance. Of the 12 recreational shops that have opened so far here, all but two are owned by or have ties to large, out-of-state investors or multistate operators. Meanwhile, out of more than 120 applicants approved for a state program aimed at helping startups from minority and disadvantaged communities, not one has opened yet, largely due to a lack of funding. “If somebody says they’re controlling 12 licenses in Massachusetts, that’s really a stupid thing to say in a public document,” he said, “because they’re not going to be able to go forward.”
Canadian Medical Cannabis Exports Tripled in 2018: Exports of medical cannabis from Canada soared last year as the country’s biggest licensed cannabis companies continued to establish beachheads in new medical markets overseas. Shipments of dried cannabis tripled to 1,460 kilograms (3,219 pounds) in 2018, compared with 500 kilograms in 2017 and only 44 kilograms in 2016. Exports of medical cannabis oil doubled last year to 920 liters (240 gallons), compared with 430 liters in 2017 and 100 liters in 2016. No medical cannabis was exported from Canada in 2015. The growing exports come as Canadian companies look to secure market positions in countries that recently legalized medical marijuana and others with maturing markets. It’s also indicative of growing demand for medical cannabis in countries that currently have no capacity to cultivate their own medical cannabis or produce their own products, such as Germany. The overall medical cannabis exports likely rank Canada third in global exports, behind the United Kingdom (home to Sativex-maker GW Pharmaceuticals) and the Netherlands, home to Bedrocan, which is authorized to export 1,500 kilograms of medical cannabis to Germany annually.
Canada Clamps Down on ‘One-Click’ Age Checks for Cannabis Promotions: One-click authentications of a website user’s age are not enough to ensure cannabis promotions cannot be accessed by young people, according to Health Canada, and the agency expects regulated parties to take corrective steps “in the coming weeks.” Contravention of promotion prohibitions could come with hefty penalties, include warning letters, license suspensions and/or revocations, ministerial orders and fines up to 1 million Canadian dollars ($750,000). These could include:
- Steps that require entry of date of birth along with the authorization of age.
- Pop-up messaging making it clear that youth are not permitted to view promotional content.
- Pop-up messaging emphasizing that youth are not allowed to buy cannabis products.
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