The marijuana industry is boosting its lobbying efforts. A Canadian cancer center rejected a donation from a cannabis club, despite legalization. After an executive made $35,000 in political donations, a cannabis company snagged a coveted New Jersey license. Chefs say that CBD-infused drinks are going to be the biggest dining trend in 2019. 🌳
Marijuana industry boosts lobbying efforts. The Cannabis Trade Federation, a coalition of cannabis-related businesses, has hired 15 lobbyists to help push marijuana reform in Congress. The group is advocating for the STATES Act, a bill that would make state-level marijuana programs legal under federal law. The CEO of the group said “that among the major issues facing legitimate cannabis businesses are tax penalties and ‘the Department of Justice kicking in our doors.'” The Hill One marijuana lobbyist who has been working on the issue on Capitol Hill for six years described the legislation as an “incremental approach.” He says his two big issues are getting cannabis businesses access to financial services and reforming tax law. WGBH
Trump is using drugs as a reason to build a wall. President Trump is citing the death toll from opioids as a reason to build a wall on the Southern border, despite that the Drug Enforcement Administration has said that most heroin is coming into the country through legal ports of entry “co-mingled with legal goods.” A wall wouldn’t make much of a dent in opioids trafficking. The Atlantic Economists may assume that intensified enforcement would raise drug prices, thereby decreasing drug use. “But drug markets have just not behaved the way we expected,” explained one. A 1969 government operation that intensified border enforcement to combat marijuana trafficking resulted in so many problems that the government abandoned the plan after three weeks. The Washington Post
The feds acknowledge that prohibition is hampering research. Marijuana opponents have long argued that “we need more research” before pursuing legalization. Advocates, on the other hand, have long pointed out that prohibition is the reason why we lack such quality research. Now, the federal government has finally recognized that marijuana’s Schedule I status is a barrier to research efforts. Documents from a federal workshop on researching cannabis “revealed a surprising amount of candor from government officials about the roadblocks current policy place in front of research.” Marijuana Moment
Stigma runs deep, despite legalization. It was a cancer patient’s dying wish: that proceeds from a fundraiser held in his honor would be donated to the cancer center that treated him. Rick Beaver passed away in November of last year, and was one of the first members at the Calgary Cannabis Club. The club held the fundraiser in Beaver’s honor and attempted to donate the $6,000 raised to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. The treatment facility then rejected the donation because it came from a cannabis club, despite the fact that marijuana has been federally legalized in the country. “The club’s treasurer initially pushed back, offering to submit the funds as a private member donation. ‘They said because they knew where it was coming from, they just couldn’t take it,’ says [club president John] Ferrier.” Alberta Health Services says it will not accept donations from cannabis organizations until its policy is updated. The Georgia Straight
Pay to play. Elizabeth Stavola, the chief operating officer of a Canadian cannabis company, donated more than $35,000 to New Jersey governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Democratic State Committee (which is chaired by a Murphy ally). Her company then won one of six conditional permits to open up a medical marijuana dispensary in the state. Competition was fierce — 146 applications were submitted for the six licenses. The Health Department insists that the permits were awarded objectively and independently of the governor. “Even so, the optics could pose a challenge for the governor politically.” Politico Related: A New Jersey doctor had his medical license suspended after investigators said he registered thousands of medical marijuana patients without following regulations. The average doctor registered in the program has about 45 patients, but Anthony Anzalone had registered more than 3,000 patients in the program. Asbury Park Press
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California’s illicit market is flourishing. New California governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed spending plan projects that the state will bring in $355 million in marijuana excise taxes. That amounts to half of the tax revenue projected when the state-legal market first launched. “Most consumers are continuing to purchase pot in the illegal marketplace, where they avoid taxes that can near 50 percent in some communities.” Some industry experts say that cannabis businesses will need a tax break to be able to attract consumers away from the black market. Meanwhile, Newsom says he will look into “the distribution pipeline and claims that local governments are gouging the industry.” The Associated Press
Medical marijuana in Maryland. Cannabis regulators in Maryland are looking to legislators to clarify state regulations that are aimed at preventing out-of-state corporations from dominating the market. Although existing rules bar owning more than one license in each category (cultivation, processing, and retail), out-of-state companies have used management agreements to gain control of multiple licenses. Several lawmakers have said that they want to change the rules to prevent consolidations by outside firms. The Baltimore Sun The Medical Cannabis Commission submitted a report to lawmakers about using medical marijuana to help the opioid crisis. The report found that there is “no credible scientific evidence backing up the claims that cannabis is beneficial in treating addiction” but did find “mounting anecdotal evidence” that cannabis could help those suffering the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The Baltimore Sun
Cannabis is coming for your food. 77 percent of chefs say CBD drinks are the No. 1 trend in dining for 2019, followed by CBD-infused foods, according to a poll of more than 650 chefs across the U.S. by the National Restaurant Association. Businesses that sell everything from CBD-infused doughnuts to CBD-infused drinks say business is booming. The restaurant association’s research director says “it’s still too early to tell if CBD is just a fad or will fade into history like molecular gastronomy or meals served in mason jars.” USA Today
Today in cannabis business news. A Wall Street analyst expects more cannabis deals from mainstream beverage manufacturers, but also cautioned that publicly traded cannabis stocks have gotten ahead of themselves. Piper Jaffray started covering to Canadian cannabis companies that trade in the U.S. this week. CNN DSW, the discount shoe retailer, has announced that it will start carrying CBD beauty products. It will start selling CBD-infused creams, lotions, and muscle balms at 96 of its more than 500 locations — only in places that have legalized recreational marijuana. Bloomberg Some cannabis companies are buying up seed banks with seemingly impressive seed portfolios. But are they actually worth anything? Cannabis Now
Cannabis in Canada. The CEO of Canadian cannabis giant Aphria is stepping down from the role (but will remain on the board) after short-sellers targeted the company. Aphria has also become the target of a takeover attempt “and there’s renewed criticism in some quarters about insider connections between the two companies.” CBC News Cannabis NB, the marijuana retailer of New Brunswick, said it would lay off about 60 staffers. “Supply issues may have contributed,” said a spokesperson for the retailer. BNN Bloomberg
Slur. Britain in the ’80s probably doesn’t conjure colorful images. Defined by Thatcherism, some musicians sought to imagine alternatives to this myopic vision of what the world could be. Word on the Tree
Word on the States
- In Massachusetts, state cannabis regulators are asking legislators to give them more authority to review host-community agreements.
- In Illinois, a look at the legalization debate in the state.
- In New Mexico, legislation to legalize marijuana hinges on the support of a few Senate Democrats. A state senator pre-filed a bill to allow medical marijuana in schools.
- In Missouri, the state rakes in more than $2 million in medical marijuana application fees.
- In Texas, a state House committee recommends hemp legalization and regulation. The Houston Academy of Cannabis Science will open its doors this weekend.
- In California, Santa Cruz approved a policy to allow cannabis events at its fairgrounds.
- In Tennessee, two Republican lawmakers plan to introduce a medical marijuana legalization bill.
- In Kansas, small business owners implored lawmakers to ease up hemp regulations now that it is federally legal.
- In Hawaii, marijuana legalization may have a chance in the legislature this year.
- In South Carolina, a legislative panel voted for a resolution urging Congress to open up research on medical marijuana.
Word for Word
“Gov. Jay Inslee took a positive step last week by offering pardons to about 3,500 people haunted by old misdemeanor marijuana convictions. Still, the governor’s action reaches too few people… Inslee’s offer applies only to those who were convicted of marijuana possession under state law, omitting many others convicted under local ordinances. The Legislature should not allow tens of thousands of people to continue to suffer consequences for an activity the state no longer considers a crime.” – The editorial board for Seattle Times