The most perturbing news for the week is FDA director Scott Gottlieb hinting that his agency will review claims being made by cannabis brands in an effort to determine if they are making unproven health claims. Gottlieb told a Congressional subcommittee Oct. 2 that he is attempting to determine “our responsibility to step into this.” Unlike the DEA, whose hands are tied by Congress for another three months by an extension of the Rhorbacher-Farr Amendment, should it deem cannabis companies are making false claims, the FDA could cause havoc within the industry by issuing hefty fines.
Earlier in the week, Gottlieb lost his cabinet-level boss Tom Price, who led the Health and Human Services Dept. This was after Price resigned over his personal use of private corporate jets. Gottlieb has been mentioned as a possible HHS replacement, along with Veterans administration David Shulkin and former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindahl.
San Diego City Council has passed a local ordinance which will allow a full-service, integrated system for growers, labs, edible makers and retail stores approved to open in that county begin January 1. The 6 to 3 affirmative vote means San Diego is one of three California cities ready to permit the start of retail RMJ (mostly based on the expansion of current MMJ shops), of which 17 have been issued, and 11 are open in San Diego. While San Francisco and Los Angeles have placed local starts for January on hold, the Berkeley City Council also approved the opening of six RMJ shops to open January 1st.
In Los Angeles, a debate over starting a California-owned state bank began this week. Beyond housing, small business help, and low-cost financial services, the proposed bank could be called on to bank much of the newly legal cannabis industry, expected to easily surpass $2 Billion in sales in 2018. In another development, 22 Super MJ Council members have been named by the California Dept. of Consumer Affairs.
Fort Collins-based Enviro-Grow has become a leading cannabis modular production grow/processing plant maker, but the company now has another claim to fame with ties back to the Trump administration. In 2015, Shane McMahon, son of the current Small Business Administration director Linda McMahon, made a $500,000 investment into Enviro-Grow. Now News Week reports that Shane McMahon is suing Enviro-Grow to recoup his half million dollars. SBA head Linda McMahon is not expected to have to defend her son, especially after her multi-million dollar career as CEO of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), and her strong support for Trump in the 2016 election.
Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper‘s controversial special legislative session failed to fix any of the cannabis tax language included in a 2017 state bill. The wording, which Hickenlooper wanted to be fixed before next January’s legislature return, is costing certain rural hospital and transportation districts to have expected tax revenues cut for operations.
Eighty years ago this week, the first US citizen arrested for marijuana violations (after passage of a hemp/cannabis criminalization act) was sent to jail for 4 years. Colorado resident Samuel R. Caldwell, was convicted of selling two rolled joints.
The City of Atlanta has removed all jail potential for simple cannabis possession under one ounce. The city council voted 16-0, in favor of decriminalization, citing the unfair disparity in cannabis arrests. A 2014-16 study by the Racial Justice Action Center said 92% of arrests were African-Americans with 85% of arrests being males.
Canada continues to steamroll into its July 2018 launch with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing his recommendations for the national RMJ program, which includes a 10% sales tax on cannabis products which would be split between the federal government and Canada’s 10 provinces. Read more in this week’s cover story.
Finally, CW Hemp‘s CBD products were briefly available on mega-retailer Target’s website. Although all CW-offered hemp oil remains at less than .3% THC, un-named Target officials decided to drop the products just days after its initial offer.