Whether you’re looking for updates on business and finance, international stories, medical developments, or cannabis in sports related news, weed is everywhere and it’s all covered here.
Uruguay announced the country has completed the preliminary structuring to create a government-run cannabis industry and adult use sales will begin this July. The country originally announced legalizing cannabis in 2013 and has spent the interim developing the governmental infrastructure for the program. Customers will be able to purchase cannabis over the counter in pharmacies. Sales will be limited to 40 grams per month. Only Uruguayan residents can make purchases and customers will be entered into a government registry. On the other hand, the standard price will be set by the government at $1.40 per gram.
After years of being traded on private markets or on over-the-counter (OTC) exchanges, a cannabis investment firm hit the big-time this week when Horizons Medical Marijuana Life Sciences became the first cannabis ETF (Exchange Traded Fund). Offering stock in 14 cannabis-related companies, Horizon Medical (HMMJ-CA) started trading their wares on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday, April 5. The fund features offerings from popular cannabis companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals, Canopy, and Scotts Miracle Grow. Critics are already complaining that American investors might be shut out of the Canadian exchange and HMMJ-CA is charging more per investment than standard ETFs.
Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones made a splash in the news pond at an owners-only meeting this week when he called for the NFL to change its drug policies regarding marijuana. Despite America’s varied marijuana policies including states like Colorado or Washington where cannabis is fully legal, the NFL currently bans cannabis for any use.
Players can face fines, multi-game suspensions and even banishment from the league. However, both the players’ union and the general public have expressed concerns about the levels of opioids necessary for players to endure the grueling sport and called for reform ahead of the current agreement on cannabis which runs until 2020. ESPN reports that some see Jones’ announcement as less about justice and more about improving his image ahead of upcoming contract negotiations.
The celebrated CEO of international cannabis business, women organizing giant Women Grow, Leah Heise, announced she is leaving the company to run a dispensary operation in Maryland, effective immediately. Heise had been a compliance lawyer in Maryland before overseeing the group’s reorganization last summer. Women Grow founder, Jane West, supports Heise’s decision, though she only joined the group in July of 2016. Chief Operating Officer Kristina Neoushoff will serve as interim CEO. The group currently hosts monthly industry mixers in 44 cities in the US and Canada, in addition to some of the largest conferences in cannabis. As a major shareholder, Heise will continue voting on board decisions.
This week, the last of Canada’s most famous chain of dispensaries, Cannabis Culture, shuttered its doors for good. After facing multiple raids last month at Cannabis Culture dispensaries across Canada, and an arrest at an international airport that resulted in a traumatizing strip search, “The Prince and Princess of Pot,” Marc and Jodie Emery were ordered to divest themselves from their chain of 19 dispensaries and face potential life in prison. Jodie has returned to Vancouver and vows to immerse herself in political activism. Though hailed as international cannabis celebrities for their law-breaking antics and media savvy, many in Canada are concerned the Emerys’s confrontational approach has done more harm than good for cannabis reform. The couple have been among the leading critics of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s painfully slow roll out of legalized cannabis in Canada. It was Marc Emery’s 30th arrest.
Medical Industry News
Friday April 7, the Ohio Department of Commerce announced it will begin publishing applications for 24 medical marijuana grow operations as part of the state’s new medical program. One of the few states whose program was created by their state legislature, Ohio’s medical law was signed by then-presidential candidate, Gov. John Kasich in the heat of the 2016 Republican presidential primary. While patients will not be able to access smokable or edible cannabis products, they will be allowed to apply for up to 21 medical conditions.
Twelve “Level I” licenses will be issued for cultivation areas of up to 25,000 square feet. Twelve “Level II” licenses will be issued for smaller operations of up to 3000 square feet. The license application fees are among the highest in the country with Level I applications costing $200,000 each. The application fees alone are expected to generate a seven million dollar surplus above the projected cost for administrating the program.
Tuesday, April 4th, voters in Kansas City, Missouri voted overwhelmingly to decriminalize local minor cannabis possession. Possession of up to 30 grams will be punishable by a fine of no more than $25. Seventy-four percent of KC voters approved the reform. The ballot measure’s success is being widely attributed to the work of the local NORML chapter. Acknowledging the appreciation, Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of KC NORML, proclaimed, “The era of reefer madness in Kansas City has come to an end.”
In a medical marijuana case that has enflamed the national patient community for years, on Friday April 7th, celebrity defendant and Crohn’s Disease patient Shona Banda, pled not guilty to charges of narcotic drug possession and child endangerment, in Finney County Courthouse in Garden City, Kansas. It’s the latest development of the legal saga that followed Banda’s March 2015 arrest. A former Arizona medical marijuana patient, Banda and her family moved to Kansas, where marijuana of any kind is strictly forbidden. When her son spoke up in class challenging the local DARE officer’s anti-marijuana message and defended his mom’s cannabis use, Shonda was arrested and her son was seized.
She was originally charged with “endangering a child, distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property, unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.” She faced 30yrs in prison. The case was taken up by cannabis defendant support group, The Human Solution International, who kept the spotlight on Banda, despite years of her incarceration. Human Solution lawyers were on-hand for the long delayed pretrial hearing, as well as respected medical marijuana experts, who testified on both Crohn’s Disease and cannabis. The next hearing is set for May 12.
Ignoring recommendations from her state’s Cannabis Advisory Board, on Friday, New Mexico Governor Susan Martinez vetoed HB527, a bill that would have been the first successful amendment of the state’s 2007 medical law. The bill’s key provision would have added opioid dependency issues as a qualifying condition. Martinez’s veto memo noted concerns that the program’s enrollment would increase dramatically and its integrity would be eroded by the expansion. Drug policy experts condemned the governor’s decision. Earlier that same week, new research again pointed to cannabis as a key tool in battling the US Opioid epidemic.
A new Epilepsy and Behavior study shows 86% of refractive epilepsy patients show some improvement through CBD therapies. This supports findings in an Australian study published last month that claimed 90% of their epilepsy patients showed improvement with cannabis. Cannabiz Consumer Group’s Canna-Use survey released this week showed patients are purchasing cannabis as a sleep aid and predict the herb to take as much as 10% of the traditional OTC sleep aid market.
Canadian researchers, Canabo Medical Inc., completed a massive observational study claiming cannabis can serve as an effective, far less toxic, substitute for the type of anxiety-reducing medication known as benzodiazepine or “Benzos.” Xanax is just one of the many brand names for this type of product. As many as 45% of patients were able to wean themselves off of the drug by substituting cannabis therapy instead. And lastly, both Oxford University and international cannabis research leader, Israel, announced the opening of new research facilities.
In Oxford’s case the university will receive a $12 million-dollar endowment from Kingsley Capital Partners to fund forming a new biopharmaceutical firm, Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, which will market products developed by university researchers. Israel’s Hebrew University will be utilizing a similar funding model as it launches a Multidisciplinary Centre on Cannabinoid Research, helmed by the father of modern cannabis research, Rafael Mechoulam, who recently reminded his fans of his frequent claim that he has never “smoked a joint even once in his life.”