A multi-national pharma company strikes a cannabis deal. Criminal justice reform passes the Senate, but a senator’s attempt to put forward a marijuana amendment fails. Stinky cannabis farms are causing problems in California. A British man in Bali who is facing 15 years in jail for cannabis oil says he uses it to manage his arthritis. 🌳
Big pharma gets into medical marijuana. A deal between Canadian cannabis company Tilray and Novartis subsidiary Sandoz appears to be the first of its kind between the medical marijuana industry and a multi-national pharmaceutical company. The two companies will work to distribute medical marijuana products in the 35 countries around the world that allow medical marijuana. They will also work on developing products together, which will be co-branded. The two companies had already been collaborating in Canada’s medical marijuana market. Stat Shares of Tilray jumped as much as 22 percent on the news. Tilray’s products are currently available in 12 countries. CNBC
Senate passes criminal justice bill (without marijuana amendment). The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill on Tuesday and House leaders have vowed to pass the measure this week. While the legislation falls short of more expansive reform proposals, “Tuesday’s vote was an important first step for the unlikely coalition of liberals and conservatives.” Thousands of inmates will be eligible for sentence reductions or early release when the legislation is enacted, many of them non-violent drug offenders given harsh mandatory minimums. The New York Times Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) tried and failed to attach a marijuana reform amendment to the bill, stymied by both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The Denver Post
Democrats tout economic benefits of marijuana legalization. Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee touted the economic benefits of marijuana legalization in a report that predicts that cannabis sales will reach $23 billion by 2022. “The growth of the cannabis economy presents opportunities for greater job creation, more tax revenue, and better patient care,” read the report. The report also criticized the current banking and tax hurdles that state-legal marijuana companies face due to federal prohibition. “It’s time we legalize marijuana, but at the minimum, we must reduce the conflicts between federal and state laws so that the industry can continue to create jobs and bolster state economies,” said senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). Marijuana Moment
Californians unhappy with the stink of weed. Some people love the smell of weed. Others can’t stand it. Residents in some California communities are suing to try to stop cannabis farms near their neighborhoods. A high school flanked by cannabis greenhouses has dealt with student complaints of headaches and angry parents. Possibly in a bid to mitigate the damage, marijuana businesses in the area donated $28,000 worth of lab equipment to the school. One cannabis entrepreneur pointed out that many agricultural operations come with undesirable smells. Meanwhile, a resident who lives in an agricultural area said that she preferred the smell of manure to the smells of marijuana. (She sued the operators of a nearby cannabis business.) The subjectivity of smells is posing a problem for regulators. The New York Times
Oklahoma governor releases some prisoners. Kayla Jo Jeffries was serving a 20-year prison sentence for drug-related crimes she committed when she was 18. After three years behind bars, she recently returned home to reunite with her two daughters. “Jeffries was one of 21 people, mostly women convicted of drug possession, whose sentences were commuted Dec. 5 by Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin.” Voters in Oklahoma approved a sentencing reform law that reclassified drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. But the law did not apply retroactively — leaving those already serving lengthy sentences in the lurch. “Although Fallin’s 21 commutations recognized the new reform, many more people remain in prison on sentences voters decided were disproportionately harsh.” The Appeal
🚨 Shameless Promotions 🚨
Word on the Tree is supported by GeekTek, the information technology and security service partner for companies in growth mode throughout US and Canada. Scale with GeekTek
Las Vegas says no to more recreational pot shops (for now). In a decision that surprised the cannabis industry, Clark County commissioners unanimously voted to put a moratorium on adult-use marijuana dispensaries. Nine business had already received approval from the state, but will not be able to move forward with their plans. The commissioners cited concerns about the medical marijuana market for their decision. Many cities and states have had to wrestle with protecting the medical marijuana market when cannabis operators seek to serve the more lucrative recreational market. One outgoing commissioner “chastised dispensary owners for preaching the importance of protecting the medical industry during the campaign for legal recreational pot, then selling their businesses for millions of dollars. Multiple dispensary chains in the Las Vegas Valley have sold for more than $50 million over the last six months.” Las Vegas Sun
How legalization could reduce the harms of marijuana use. “While cannabis has fabulous potential to improve human physical and mental health, understanding and then mitigating its dark side is an essential component.” Researchers have found that about 9 percent of cannabis users will develop a dependence on the drug. While the risks of dependency are much lower than other drugs, addiction “is really less about the drug and more about the person,” said one expert. “Factors like genetics and social exposure contribute to a person’s risk.” Marijuana advocacy organizations hope that proper labeling in a regulated market will help keep cannabis away from minors, who are most at-risk of developing dependency. “It possesses some potential level of dependence and it carries potential risk. And we believe prohibition exacerbates those potential risks, while regulation potentially mitigates those risks,” said one cannabis advocate. Wired
The legal battle over a Nevada dispensary. The co-owner of a Reno dispensary that was acquired by Terra Tech alleges that the company “took advantage of her and have been skimming millions of dollars from the dispensary profits” and diverting the funds to failing business ventures. A lawsuit against Terra Tech includes 50 claims of fraud, which the company describes as “meritless.” “The real victims here are the 120,000+ Terra Tech shareholders who may have suffered losses from their investment in the company as a result of her spurious accusations,” Terra Tech said in a statement. “The industry is moving so rapidly, and the businesses that are coming into the industry — and the characters coming into the industry — are not necessarily those you want to do business with,” said an attorney involved in the case. Reno Gazette Journal
Briton in Bali faces 15 years in jail for cannabis oil. “Stupid of me, I thought I was past making dumb errors in judgment, but it seems not,” said a British man facing drug charges in Indonesia. He is accused of receiving 31 grams of cannabis oil in the mail. But he disputes the amount, saying the 31 g weight included the weight of the bottles. “The bottles themselves weigh 28g together making the true total amount of THC approximately 3g including the carrier oil,” reads a website that his relatives have set up hoping to raise $100,000 for his case. The man says he uses cannabis oil to treat his arthritis. “Marijuana makes a considerable difference to the pain – it’s not a leisure activity for me,” he said. Channel News Asia
Elsewhere in the region… Foreign cannabis companies are interested in the prospect of marijuana legalization in Thailand. But concern about foreigners dominating the market have led government officials to consider how to keep non-Thai companies from pushing out local operators. Bloomberg In a show of its harsh drug enforcement, narcotics agents in Singapore have seized a cannabis mascara product created by a New York City-based cosmetics company. The mascara lists “Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil” as one of its ingredients. (Cannabis seeds and their oils do not contain intoxicating cannabinoids.) The Straits Times 🔒
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, leaders from marijuana-friendly municipalities talked challenges and opportunities with welcoming cannabis businesses. For pot opponents, traffic problems near a dispensary is a gift.
- In Maryland, a politically connected marijuana grower was fined by regulators over pesticide violations and will operate under a two-year probationary period.
- In New York, Brooklyn’s DA seeks to vacate hundreds of low-level marijuana convictions. How marijuana legalization became possible in the state. A group representing county health departments expressed concern over the prospect of marijuana legalization. A state panel could not agree on additional subway funding sources like marijuana tax revenue.
- In Washington, a state rep. pre-filed a bill to allow parents to administer medical marijuana to their children at schools.
- In New Mexico, the state’s largest medical marijuana producer is suing the health department over edibles regulations.
- In Pennsylvania, the state is giving out another 23 permits for medical marijuana retailers.
- In Florida, how judicial rulings could re-shape the medical marijuana market next year.
- In Virginia, a lawmaker pre-filed a bill to protect student medical cannabis patients from being expelled. Regulators denied a request by a CBD oil company to relocate.
Word for Word
“In the halls of Congress, a short bus ride away, medical professionals and bereaved families have warned for years of the damage caused by opioids to America’s predominantly white small towns and suburbs. Almost entirely omitted from their message has been one of the drug epidemic’s deadliest subplots: The experience of older African Americans like Rogers, for whom habits honed over decades of addiction are no longer safe. Heroin laced with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl has killed thousands of such drug users in the past several years, driving a largely overlooked urban public-health crisis. Since 2014, the national rate of fatal drug overdoses has increased more than twice as fast among African Americans as among whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” – Peter Jamison for The Washington Post
“A perfume company in Portland recently launched the first-ever perfume made with marijuana. The perfume is made from essential oils found in cannabis, but contains no THC. I’m pretty sure marijuana perfume already exists — it’s called marijuana. I think Reg has been wearing this perfume for the last four years.” – Late Late Show host James Corden, The New York Times