The owners of a licensed cannabis company pleaded guilty to drug charges. California cannabis labs are finding toxic heavy metals in vape cartridges. The global elite talk cannabis and psychedelics at Davos. Also: Thailand revoked cannabis patent requests from foreign firms. 🌳
Licensed pot business prosecuted for the first time. The owners of Colorado cannabis company Sweet Leaf pleaded guilty to drug and racketeering charges. Denver officials said it was the first time that local authorities prosecuted a licensed cannabis business in the U.S. The three owners will serve one year in prison and two years probation, under a plea agreement. Denver’s D.A. said that most licensed cannabis businesses “are reputable and responsible and strive to obey our marijuana laws” but “Sweet Leaf is an exception.” The Associated Press Related: Elsewhere in Denver, the co-founder of the International Church of Cannabis is set to appear in court to fight a charge of public cannabis consumption. “Marijuana experts are watching to see how [the] case might address a tricky question… What is considered ‘open and public’ marijuana consumption?” The Denver Post
A new plan to break the stalemate in N.J. legalization talks. Efforts to legalize marijuana in New Jersey have stalled, mostly due to a disagreement between the governor and Senate president on cannabis tax rates. Now, a new proposal hopes to break through that stalemate by taxing marijuana by weight instead of an excise tax at sale. “It could help bridge the gap between the governor and legislative leaders on marijuana… But taxing marijuana by weight would also protect against fluctuating prices that have afflicted other states.” nj.com Related: Under a new drug-testing policy, at least eight New Jersey police officers failed their tests for using drugs including marijuana, cocaine, and opioids. Asbury Park Press
Buyer beware. Vape carts have become a popular method of consumption thanks to their convenience, but California cannabis testing labs are reporting cartridges testing positive for lead. Heavy metals are becoming an issue for cartridges, due to metal foundries in China mixing lead to make metals more moldable. “If you want to inhale 100 percent lead-free vapor, you should abstain from using cartridges until carts with lead-free metal start hitting California shores later this winter.” Cartridges on the black market aren’t tested for heavy metals, and are likely to be sourced from China. Leafly
Cannabis business owner gave conflicting information on applications. Arkansas investigators found that the owner of a medical marijuana cultivation firm gave conflicting information about his residency in cannabis license applications in Arkansas and Colorado. Robert DeBin claimed he had lived in Arkansas for seven years for a cultivation permit in the state, but also claimed that he lived in Colorado for an occupational license for its marijuana program. Arkansas regulators are reviewing the violations, and could fine the company or revoke its license. DeBin is also the president of the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association board. Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Major in marijuana. Lake Superior State University in Michigan will begin offering associate and bachelor’s degrees in cannabis chemistry. They are the first degrees of their kind in the U.S., according to the university. “Students, who will use actual cannabis buds for analysis, may need to submit to a background check in order to participate in the program and in courses that handle regulated materials, as required by law.” Detroit Free Press Higher education institutions in Vermont are poised to take advantage of the economic opportunities of cannabis in the state. The Vermont State Colleges and the University of Vermont have cannabis certificate programs. VT Digger
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What the studies say… A first-of-its-kind study found that cannabis grows could be affecting air quality due to VOC emissions. “Researchers have long known that VOCs emitted by plants can contribute to smog,” though this is the first time scientists have studied these emissions in cannabis plants. The researchers emphasized that their study is not definitive as they only looked at four cannabis strains and their plants were “pathetic” compared to the professionally grown marijuana available on the market. Science A recent study takes a comprehensive look at humanity’s cannabis use over 10,000 years. Marijuana Moment A look at the scientific evidence for and against medical marijuana as a pain reliever. Houston Chronicle
Today in cannabis business news… Calaveras County, Calif. was collecting fees from commercial cannabis growers before deciding to ban their operations. Its board of supervisors voted to refund $940,000 in fees collected through the medical marijuana program. “The move comes after a class action lawsuit was filed last August on behalf of growers who paid $5,000 apiece to register with the county in hopes of becoming fully legal marijuana farmers.” Those growers are continuing with the lawsuit in hopes of getting their taxes back, too. Marijuana Business Daily Cannabis companies are trying to build national brands while facing advertising restrictions due to marijuana’s Schedule I status. Bloomberg Canadian cannabis giants are flush with cash and making big investments in the U.S. hemp industry. Hemp Industry Daily
Cannabis in Canada. The Ontario Securities Commission, concerned with potential conflicts of interest, initiated discussions with Green Growth Brands about its formal takeover bid for Aphria. BNN Bloomberg Industry leaders are criticizing proposed packaging guidelines for edibles as wasteful and environmentally unsustainable. Calgary Herald Cannabis sales in New Brunswick fell short of expectations (and other provinces), totaling $8.6 million last year. CBC News Alberta awarded 10 more cannabis retail licenses, prompting concern from existing retailers amid supply issues. CBC News
Drugs at Davos. Cannabis industry executives hobnobbed with global leaders in Davos, extolling the benefits of legalization. Bloomberg The European market for medical marijuana could become the world’s largest in five years, according to a report launched alongside the World Economic Forum. The three largest markets in Europe could double in size this year. Marijuana Business Daily One Davos bar is giving away hemp products during the conference. CNBC Meanwhile, researchers also talked about “the new science of psychedelics” at WEF. Futurism
Elsewhere around the world… The government in Israel has finally given the green light for medical marijuana exports. Cannabis Wire The 2020 referendum to legalize marijuana in New Zealand is likely to propose a tightly regulated cannabis program with a non-profit model. New Zealand Herald With its current medical marijuana program supplied by imports, Germany has accepted bids from nearly 80 prospective domestic cannabis cultivators. Reuters Fearing foreign firms would dominate the market, officials in Thailand revoked all foreign patent requests for marijuana. Reuters A medical cannabis bill advanced in the Philippines, but still faces several steps before becoming law. Marijuana Business Daily
Word on the States
- In Maine, state officials rescinded a cannabis consulting bid, which could delay the launch of the marijuana market.
- In Alaska, cannabis advocates are wary of the governor’s new marijuana board appointees.
- In Michigan, wealthy communities are opting out of allowing marijuana retailers.
- In Nevada, the governor signed an executive order, establishing a cannabis board advisory panel.
- In California, Sacramento City officials are urging cannabis businesses to beef up security after an increase in robberies.
- In Massachusetts, regulators awarded the 100th cannabis business license. Springfield police busted a ‘marijuana vendor party’ and seized 200 lbs of cannabis.
- In Washington, regulators are considering allowing small cannabis farmers to sell directly to consumers.
- In New Hampshire, a state commission opposes a bill to legalize marijuana.
- In Arizona, a state senator wants to reduce the financial burden on medical marijuana patients.
- In Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia city councilman plans to introduce legislation that would allow voters to decide on marijuana legalization. The city’s first medical marijuana dispensary opens in Center City. A state rep. hosted a forum on marijuana legalization.
- In New Jersey, employers look for clarity on marijuana and the workplace.
- In Nebraska, a bill to legalize medical cannabis drew supporters and opponents to the state Capitol.
- In Ohio, the medical cannabis market is off to a rocky start. How the medical marijuana program could test school drug policies.
- In West Virginia, a look at the marijuana legalization debate in the state.
Word for Word
“Wesley Bell was sworn into office as St. Louis County’s first black prosecutor just after midnight on New Year’s Day, and by the end of his second day on the job, he had ordered a sweeping overhaul of many of the office’s policies. Effective immediately, he wrote in a detailed interim memo, his office would no longer prosecute the possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana. Prosecutors would end cash bail requests for misdemeanor cases, and they would issue summonses, rather than warrants, for all misdemeanors and class D and E felonies. They would no longer criminally prosecute the failure to pay child support. They would not overcharge defendants to pressure them into pleas, nor would they threaten witnesses to force them to participate in prosecutions.” – Alice Speri for The Intercept