Why CBD presents unique challenges for federal regulators. Activists are pushing for social equity in LA and NYC. A New Jersey appeals court reopens a medical marijuana discrimination case. Also: MedMen’s financial woes signal trouble for the cannabis industry. 🌳
CBD hits a snag. CBD sales are expected to surge in the coming years, and edible CBD products currently make up 43 percent of the market. But local health regulators are cracking down on such products, pointing to the fact that CBD is a FDA-approved prescription drug. “Natural compounds are rarely used as active ingredients in prescription drugs, and when they are… the active ingredient was often marketed as a food well before being investigated as a drug, exempting it from the rule. By contrast, CBD’s rise occurred as Epidiolex maker GW Pharmaceuticals PLC was investigating its potential as an epilepsy treatment.” The Wall Street Journal 🔒 Related: The Ohio Senate unanimously passed a hemp legalization bill, “in large part because of complaints about recent crackdowns on CBD.” Cincinnati Enquirer The outgoing FDA chief says his agency prioritizes CBD enforcement when producers make claims “that it can cure cancer or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.” Marijuana Moment
The push for social equity in LA and NYC. $10 million that was supposedly set aside of Los Angeles’ cannabis social equity program was reportedly diverted to the Los Angeles Police Department, according to activists present at a meeting with cannabis regulators. “The LAPD did in fact take from a fund that also contributed to the under-resourced Social Equity Program. But the claim that sworn overtime was being directly bankrolled by Social Equity is not substantiated.” Still, activists are calling out the lack of transparency in how cannabis tax revenue is allocated. Filter The Drug Policy Alliance was behind a satirical “Country Club Cannabis” pop-up in New York City. “Country Club Cannabis was supposed to represent the moneyed, exclusive marijuana market that develops when cannabis is legalized without a focus on social equity.” Marijuana Moment
New Jersey appeals court reopens MMJ discrimination case. A medical marijuana patient who was using cannabis to treat cancer filed a discrimination lawsuit after his employer fired him. A trial judge said the suit could not go forward, but an appeals court disagreed. “It would be ironic indeed if the Compassionate Use Act limited the Law Against Discrimination to permit an employer’s termination of a cancer patient’s employment by discriminating without compassion,” wrote an appeals court judge. The patient told hospital staff that he used medical marijuana after getting into a car accident. “Because the accident was considered work-related, his medical marijuana use was disclosed to his employer,” and the patient eventually lost his job. New Jersey Law Journal
Murphy sets deadline for medical cannabis expansion. Days after the New Jersey governor shelved plans to expand the medical marijuana program, Phil Murphy gave the legislature until May to pass a bill to legalize adult-use marijuana. The governor previously planned to focus on expanding the medical marijuana program after a planned vote for recreational legalization was called off. But he backtracked after lawmakers expressed worry that it would make it harder to round up support for marijuana legalization. After pressure from patient advocates, the governor says he will move forward with medical marijuana if the legislature doesn’t pass adult-use legalization by May. nj.com
Backtracking on opposition to home grow. A New Hampshire lobbyist for a medical marijuana dispensary testified against a bill that would allow patients and caregivers to cultivate their own cannabis. But after advocates pushed back, the CEO of the company now says the lobbyist “inadvertently misrepresented the company’s position and that it actually supports the legislation.” Conflicts over policies like home cultivation are heating up in state legislatures as the cannabis industry seeks to protect its financial interests and advocates emphasize civil liberties and social justice. Marijuana Moment
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Vets struggle with cannabis for pets. A growing number of pet owners are using cannabis products to treat their pets’ various ailments from aches and pains to seizures. But with no studies on treating animals to cannabis products, veterinarians are struggling with how to deal with pet owners who swear by the stuff. It’s not just the lack of research — in Massachusetts, vets fear punishment from the state licensing board. “I certainly don’t want to hurt the animal and secondarily, I don’t want to ruin my life’s work to get to this point,” said one vet who is asked about cannabis a few times a week. Still, anecdotal evidence abounds and a study last year found that CBD oil was beneficial for dogs with osteoarthritis. The Boston Globe
Canadian police fined driver for improperly sealed cannabis. A motorist was ticketed $230 by West Short RCMP for driving with improperly sealed cannabis in the car. Under the country’s cannabis laws, marijuana must be sealed in its original packaging. If it’s not sealed, the marijuana must be stored in the trunk or somewhere inaccessible by the driver or passengers in the car. The driver was fined for having 23 grams of marijuana in a Ziploc bag in the front seat of the car. Times Colonist
MedMen’s financial woes signal trouble for the industry. One of the country’s most prominent marijuana retailers is struggling with mounting financial losses and lawsuits against the company. The company avoided an immediate financial crisis with a $100 million credit line, which despite its onerous terms, buys the company some time. “During the last six months of 2018, MedMen lost $131 million — more than $2 for every dollar in marijuana it sold… To give itself more time, MedMen has sold off some properties, including dispensaries. But that strategy has limits.” Meanwhile, the company is also facing several lawsuits, including one that claims the company showed “disdain for compliance with the law in general.” CNBC
Elsewhere in cannabis business news… The former head of policy for Uber is getting into the medical cannabis industry in Europe. Cannabis Now A student at Florida Gulf Coast University developed a device aimed at measuring proper doses of medical cannabis. She has two patents pending and will compete in an entrepreneurship competition in a few weeks. WINK Social cannabis consumption in Los Angeles is growing up. LA Weekly Arizona-based Hypur Ventures is launching a $500 million cannabis investment fund. Marijuana Business Daily Cannabis brand Beboe is expanding into beauty products. The Hollywood Reporter
Elsewhere around the world… Thanks to an arbitration decision, Europe‘s largest medical cannabis producer Bedrocan will be getting back into the American markets. Bloomberg Regulators in China are tightening industrial cannabis licenses, sending hemp-related stocks down. BNN Bloomberg Regulatory agencies for tobacco and pharmaceuticals in Thailand are spearheading government efforts to bring medical marijuana to the market. Khaosod English
Word on the States
- In Georgia, the Senate passed a bill to allow an in-state market for medical marijuana oil.
- In Maryland, regulators are moving forward with expanding the medical cannabis industry, despite one firm’s lawsuit to stop it.
- In Vermont, the Scott administration called for youth prevention funding as part of the proposal to tax and regulate marijuana. A number of universities are offering cannabis classes.
- In Colorado, a House committee advanced a bill to allow marijuana social use.
- In Nevada, a Senate committee advanced legislation that would unmask the names of marijuana license holders.
- In New York, a state senator says marijuana legalization won’t make it into the budget.
- In Michigan, the former top medical marijuana regulator will head up the new marijuana regulatory agency.
- In Iowa, the House approved an amendment to remove the 3 percent cap on THC.
- In Louisiana, veterans are upset about a decision to crack down on CBD sales in the state.
- In Missouri, the health department released draft rules for the medical marijuana program.
- In Florida, patients can now smoke medical marijuana and some lawmakers are proposing a cap on THC. Miami’s first medical marijuana drive-thru is now open for business.
- In Rhode Island, demand for medical marijuana is skyrocketing.
- In Montana, a state House committee rejected a bill to legalize marijuana.
Word for Word
“Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant has been using developmental brain science research as proof of youth’s vulnerability to the potential risks of cannabis consumption. But neuroscience research results are not as one-sided and categorical. On the one hand, cannabis is linked to a wide range of positive effects and is being used to alleviate pain, anxiety and stress. On the other, it is strongly associated with mental health consequences under specific circumstances… Our point is not to undermine this, but to caution policy makers and the public about the role of brain science in giving us the final, objective word on how to guide policy.” – Co-director of Culture, Mind and Brain Program at McGill University Suparna Choudhury and PhD candidate in sociology William Wannyn for Montreal Gazette