CVS and Walgreens to Sell CBD Products Despite the FDA’s Growing Concerns: Two of the largest drugstore chains in the U.S. plan to make a plunge into the CBD market, signaling a major trend toward CBD becoming a mainstream consumer good. Both CVS Pharmacy & Walgreens are specifically looking at topical pain creams and skin care products, as they fall in line with their current health and wellbeing offerings. Consumers will soon be able to shop the selection at chains in Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois, and Indiana. However, Walgreens and CVS both refuse to release specific information on the brands they will be carrying. “CBD is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers,” Walgreens spokesman Brian Faith said in an email to CNBC.
The non-psychoactive compound, CBD, is now taking to the streets, as the ingredients become one of the most popular consumer trends of today. CBD is said to help with anxiety, pain management, sleep, mood and a wide range of other ailments. Consumers grow ever so curious to try CBD products for themselves, as replacements to their other costly or ineffective treatments. This is particularly what the FDA is worried about, as they sent some warning shots to the bows of CVS and Walgreens this week.
FDA Releases Update on CBD Hearing: The very anticipated hearing has finally come to a set date. On May 31st, the FDA will hold their public hearing to talk more on the matters of Hemp regulation. They told the public they would be publishing more information as the week’s progress. The meeting heard testimony from not only stakeholders but other commissioners who aim to inform the FDA on a sound regulatory approach moving forward. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb continued to echo the words, that regulating CBD into food supply products is extremely complicated and should not be taken lightly. CBD is already found in the form of a prescription medication called Epidiolex, as a side compound and not a single form isolate. This makes the lines even blurrier from the view of the FDA.
A number of unanswered questions were brought up at the hearing, including the safety concerns that the FDA should consider as far as product packaging, formatting, and maximum acceptable daily intakes.
Nevada Sued Over Lack of Transparency in Adult-Use Cannabis Licensing: A group of marijuana businesses in Nevada has sued the state, alleging a recent recreational marijuana licensing round wasn’t transparent and was “ripe for corruption.” Six suits now have been filed since the state issued 61 provisional licenses in December without disclosing the names of the license winners or the scoring criteria, according to the Las Vegas Sun. A state Senate panel wants to open up the process.
Top Federal Drug Policy Expert Says Marijuana’s Schedule I Status Inhibits Research: The head of a major federal drug policy agency acknowledged on Tuesday that the Schedule I status of marijuana and other drugs makes it “very difficult” for researchers to study the benefits and risks of those substances. NIDA is working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration, which both play roles in drug scheduling decisions, to come up with a “path that will allow researchers to work with Schedule I drugs in a safe way, but without actually expediting that process,” Volkow said. The federal drug policy expert was also asked about CBD during the budget hearing. Specifically, Rep. Andy Harris expressed concerns about the wide availability of CBD products. Volkow agreed that it was a concern and said that claims CBD companies are making about the compound could lead patients to “forgo medications that can be lifesaving.” The NIDA director also acknowledged the fact that the war on drugs has been waged in a racially disproportionate manner.
Federally Produced Marijuana Is Closer To Hemp Than Commercial Cannabis, Study Shows: Research-grade marijuana that’s supplied by the only federally authorized cultivation site in the United States is genetically closer to hemp than cannabis varieties sold at dispensaries in legal states, according to a new study. The revelation raises questions about how applicable the results of research using government marijuana really are to understanding the effects of products that consuming are actually using. Previous studies have demonstrated that marijuana that’s grown at the University of Mississippi, with funding from the National Institutes On Drug Abuse (NIDA), has lower levels of THC and CBD compared to commercial cannabis products. But researchers at the University of Northern Colorado wanted to learn specifically about their genetic variance. The study, which was made available as a preprint on bioRxiv.
West Virginia Law Clears Path for Medical Marijuana Banking: West Virginia’s governor signed a medical cannabis banking bill into law that will allow financial institutions in the state to bid on providing banking services for MMJ businesses, clearing an obstacle to the rollout of the state’s program. House Bill 2538, which Gov. Jim Justice signed Tuesday, also institutes the Treasurer’s Medical Cannabis Fund to allow the state treasurer to collect funds for banking services and for the Medical Cannabis Program Fund to gather MMJ program-related fees, MetroNews reported.
Marijuana Banking Bill Approved by Congressional Committee: A congressional committee voted on Thursday to approve legislation aimed at increasing marijuana businesses’ access to banks. The House Financial Services Committee voted 45 to 15 to advance the legislation to the full body. Floor action has not yet been scheduled, but cannabis reform advocates are hopeful that the committee approval of the banking bill is a sign Democrats are ready to move broad marijuana reforms this year. That the vote went ahead over GOP objections is a sign that the effective marijuana roadblock on Capitol Hill has been lifted by the chamber’s new Democratic majority. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) are expected to file companion legislation on access to financial services for marijuana businesses in the Senate soon.
Chief Appointed for New Michigan Cannabis Agency: Michigan tapped its top medical marijuana regulator to lead the newly created Marijuana Regulatory Agency, which is responsible for the state’s medical and recreational marijuana programs. Andrew Brisbo, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Marijuana Regulation in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, must be confirmed by the state Senate, but observers don’t expect opposition.
UK – Cannabis Oil Firms are Set to Sue Food Standards Agency Over Plans to Clamp Down on CBD Products and Stop Shops Selling Them Unless They Can Prove Their Benefits: Firms that sell an oil extracted from cannabis are poised to sue a Government regulator over its plans to crack down on the industry. An estimated 250,000 Britons use CBD oils and capsules which are sold by high street retailers including Holland & Barrett and marketed as products that can reduce anxiety and pain. But the Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced plans in January to reclassify CBD products as ‘novel foods’ rather than ‘food supplements’. It could lead to the removal of products from shelves if manufacturers cannot prove they are safe and achieve the stated benefits.
Rhode Island Medical Cannabis Sales Hit New Highs: Rhode Island’s medical marijuana market is posting record numbers, with the state’s three MMJ retailers on track to total about $56 million in sales this year, up $17.8 million, or 46.6%, from last year. The Providence Journal reports area doctors, including those in nearby Massachusetts, have written recommendations for MMJ to the more than 18,000 registered patients, helping to spur momentum for efforts to expand the number of medical cannabis retail stores in Rhode Island.
Will Germany Become the World’s Largest Market for Medicinal Cannabis? For two years, Germany has allowed cannabis cultivation for medical purposes. But picking suitable growers hasn’t been all plain sailing. According to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfarM), there will be clarity in a couple of months as to which enterprises will get a license to produce cannabis. Statutory health insurance providers in Germany reported revenues of some €70 million last year for products containing cannabis. By comparison, companies selling conventional painkillers in Germany logged revenues of €600 million in 2017. If the cannabis market in Germany grows as fast as in other nations, there’s potential for something much bigger. In Canada, the plant’s use for medical purposes was legalized in 2001 while in Israel it was as early as 1995, with cannabis for medical purposes in those countries used by roughly 1 percent of the population. That would be about 800,000 people in Germany. Patient numbers are not centrally registered in Germany, but 2018 estimates suggest there are currently between 30,000-70,000 cannabis-consuming patients in the country.
Hypur Launches $500 Million Marijuana and Hemp Investment Fund: Arizona-based Hypur Ventures is rolling out a half-a-billion-dollar cannabis investment fund intended to inject even more capital into both the marijuana and hemp sectors. Dubbed Hypur Ventures II, the fund will focus partially on mergers, acquisitions and rollup opportunities but also on “seasoned operators” with still-maturing private companies. Individual investments will range from $1 million to $25 million and a total fund cap of $500 million. “We are confident that by investing inexperienced operators and companies with strong growth and defensible business models, we have an opportunity to unlock value in one of the fastest-growing industries in the world today,” said Christopher Galvin, Hypur’s founder, and managing director.
Expiring Licenses, Not Oversupply is California’s Real ‘Crisis,’ Industry Insiders Say: Media coverage of a recent report by a California-based cannabis distribution company has hindered lobbying efforts to accelerate the process for making permanent a wave of temporary grow licenses that will soon expire in the state. According to the report, 1,142 acres of state-licensed cannabis cultivation could flood the market with up to 9 million pounds of product, far more than the 1.8 million-2.2 million pounds the wholesale market could allow. “It did some damage to our ability to draw attention to the fact that licenses are expiring,” said Jackie McGowan, a Sacramento-based cannabis consultant. When the report was released, industry consultants and lobbyists were feverishly working in the statehouse to convince lawmakers to push through Senate Bill 67, which would amend a section of the California Business and Professions Code to extend temporary business licenses until the end of 2019. Without the extension, thousands of these temporary permits could expire before regulators can approve annual or provisional licenses. As of Friday, licenses that accounted for 406 acres of cultivation had already expired. If all the firms with temporary licenses obtained annual or provisional permits, the state could face a glut of cannabis, but that’s not likely until 2020.
Nova Scotia: CBD oil Shortage Continues as Marijuana Producers Scramble to Meet Demand: “The popularity of CBD oil and CBD, in general, has far exceeded our expectations,” said Ray Gracewood, chief commercial officer of OrganiGram, a licensed producer based in Moncton, N.B. “To this point, CBD oil is the biggest surprise from an adult recreational perspective, and has got the potential to be a huge product within that channel.” So far, OrganiGram is the only company that has been able to provide any supply to the NSLC, said a spokesperson from the Crown corporation. “We currently have products containing up to 20 percent CBD but not the pure CBD oil,” said Beverley Ware. “Every province is in the same situation.”
Iowa Legislators May Lift 3% THC Potency Cap for Medical Cannabis: Iowa lawmakers have advanced a bill that, if successful, would lift the 3% THC potency cap for medical marijuana products. The potency cap has resulted in confusion for both the industry and medical marijuana patients and, if removed, would likely improve business conditions in Iowa’s MMJ market. The Iowa House of Representatives approved the bill, which now awaits hearings in the state Senate, according to Cedar Rapids TV station KCRG.
Kansas House Approves Bill to Allow use of CBD with Small Amounts of THC: The Kansas House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would allow the use of CBD oil with small amounts of THC by people with debilitating medical conditions. The measure, House Bill 2244, was passed by a vote of 89-35 early on Wednesday morning. The bill will now head to the state Senate for consideration. HB 2244, also known as “Claire and Lola’s Law,” would give a legal defense to adults with debilitating medical conditions who use CBD oil containing up to 5 percent THC or the parents of seriously ill children who do so.
L.A. Mayor Considers Crackdown on Unlicensed Marijuana Shops: Los Angeles is contemplating a major clampdown on illegal cannabis shops that have bedeviled the licensed industry’s bottom line. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday he is considering adding “tens of millions” of dollars to the fight against the flourishing illicit market. The mayor didn’t put a precise figure on the spending for the city’s upcoming budget but said it would go toward police overtime and enforcement operations in other city agencies.
Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Approved by Texas House Committee: Texas State Representative Joe Moody’s House Bill 63 made it out of the House’s Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday on the power of a 5-2 vote in its favor. With the proposed legislation’s movement, it’s beginning to look more likely that Texas will see jail time taken off the table for those caught with small amounts of cannabis on their person. If passed, it would change the punishment for an individual’s first offense of small scale possession of marijuana (here defined as less than an ounce) from up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine to a $250 — still a weighty penalty, but nothing compared to the current law. A third possession offense would raise the crime to a Class C misdemeanor subject to a fine not exceeding $500.
Mexico Revokes Cannabis Guidelines, Throwing Licenses into Doubt: Mexico’s main regulatory body for medical cannabis revoked key guidelines used as the basis for issuing dozens of import licenses for low-THC products, putting the status of those permits into question, pending a government review. Toward the end of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term last fall, Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) granted dozens of import permits for different types of low-THC products. On Wednesday, COFEPRIS revoked those guidelines, which had been published Oct. 30, 2018, saying they contravene the decree that allowed for medical cannabis in the country. Current authorities will review the validity of the “supposed authorizations” granted by the previous government.
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