A look at the scandalous history of the cannabis company that just sold for a billion dollars. Senator Cory Booker talks about why marijuana policy is important. A federal court backed a real estate company with ties to cannabis in a bankruptcy case. Also: The owner of a Louisiana CBD store vows to re-open as he fights numerous drug charges. 🌳
The tortured past of Cura Cannabis.
A Portland, Ore.-based cannabis company sold for more than $1 billion this week. But the story behind the company is “a wild tale” involving “bad investments, bad choices, an explosive rape allegation, and years of lawsuits and recriminations.” The man who founded the company was sentenced to federal prison for a bilking nearly 50 people, “who lost $1 million in retirement savings in the real estate scam that birthed Cura.” The scam’s victims were incredulous about the news of the sale. “We got $500,000 and they sold for a billion dollars… I’m blown away,” said one. Meanwhile, women in the industry who highlighted rape allegations against its former CEO Nitin Khanna remain “disgusted” with the company for not completely cutting ties with him. The Oregonian
The politics of marijuana policy.
Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and U.S. rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) have “single-handedly shifted the conversation” about marijuana reform in Congress to focus on social justice, according to a drug policy advocate. “How can we talk about legalization and not talk about expunging the records of people who still can’t get jobs, who still can’t vote in many states, still can’t get business licenses because of doing things that congresspeople and senators now readily admit to doing?” said Booker. Rolling Stone Related: Four U.S. reps. from Colorado are asking federal agencies “to end a policy preventing immigrants who work in the marijuana industry from gaining U.S. citizenship.” Marijuana Moment
Federal court backs company with ties to marijuana industry.
A federal appeals court backed a bankruptcy repayment plan for a real estate company that had ties to the marijuana industry. The Justice Department argued against the plan because the company rented property to a state-licensed marijuana grower. “Because that money was generated by a federally illegal activity, attorneys for acting U.S. trustee Gregory Garvin argued, it violated Bankruptcy Code language that requires debtors to ‘propose a plan that is not by any means forbidden by law.'” The Recorder 🔒 While the Ninth Circuit rejected that argument, it’s not a complete win for the cannabis industry. “Courts may still consider whether cannabis companies are engaged in ‘gross mismanagement’ under section 1112(b) of the Bankruptcy Code by virtue of their cannabis-related work.” The National Law Review
Utah says it didn’t collude with the LDS church on medical marijuana.
The state attorney general is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by medical marijuana activists over a cannabis law that replace a voter-approved ballot initiative. The advocates argue that “the state overrode the will of the voters and accused the legislature of acting at the behest of the LDS Church.” The state is saying that the LDS Church does not influence what the legislature does. “Lots of denominations have lobbyists walking around Capitol Hill. I’m not opposed to that at all. It’s when they’re given unfettered access to those backrooms,” said the president of the Epilepsy Association, one of the groups suing the state. KSTU
When prosecutors try to dismiss marijuana cases…
Two judges blocked an attempt by Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby to throw out thousands of marijuana convictions. “It is disappointing that the courts created an obstacle for giving people a reprieve for marijuana convictions,” writes the Baltimore Sun‘s editorial board. But it hopes that the legislature can do something about it. The Baltimore Sun In Norfolk, Va., a prosecutor wanted to dismiss marijuana possession charges but the Norfolk Circuit Court refused now. Now, the state Supreme Court ruled that the court doesn’t have to do that, rejecting a request from Norfolk prosecutors to order the circuit court to dismiss the charges. Richmond Times-Dispatch
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Cajun Cannabis owner vows to re-open.
The owner of a Louisiana CBD store vowed to re-open its doors after getting raided and arrested for selling CBD products. Travis DeYoung got out of jail after his bond was lowered from $322,000 to $97,000. He was booked on various drug charges, including felony marijuana possession. “Contrary to what you’ve heard or read, there’s absolutely no illegal products or marijuana being sold in the store,” said DeYoung. Meanwhile, the Lafayette sheriff’s office maintains that the hemp-derived CBD products “are considered Schedule 1 narcotics and are illegal under state law.” The Advocate
Music fest will be the first to have legal marijuana sales.
The Northern Nights Music Festival in California’s Emerald Triangle will be one of the first festivals in the country to have state-legal recreational marijuana sales and consumption. “Essentially it is an onsite temporary dispensary. It has all the same rules you would have at a dispensary, it’s just inside a festival,” said the festival’s co-founder. California doesn’t allow cannabis and alcohol consumption in the same area. The festival is taking advantage of “the fact that it resides in two counties. Cannabis consumption will be allowed on the Humboldt County side of the event, while alcohol consumption will be allowed on the Mendocino side without cannabis.” Billboard
Elsewhere in cannabis business news…
Mondelez, the producer of Oreos and Chips Ahoy, is considering adding CBD-infused snacks to its product line. “Yes, we’re getting ready, but we obviously want to stay within what is legal and play it the right way,” said the company’s CEO. NBC News Indose, a cannabis startup backed by Snoop Dogg’s VC firm, is the latest company trying to figure out precise marijuana dosing. Bloomberg The number of marijuana capital raises has fallen slightly so far this year, but the amount of money raised has almost doubled. Marijuana Business Daily Can you tell which one of these cannabis products is counterfeit? KNBC
Cannabis in Canada.
The New Brunswick provincial marijuana retailer lost $11.7 million in its first year. Now, the province is considering privatization. Leafly A U.S. cannabis company went public through a four-way reverse merger on the Canadian Securities Exchange last year, valuing itself at about $500 million. “A month later, the pot company had a slightly different valuation for those same businesses: About $7 million.” MarketWatch Why Aurora Cannabis isn’t doing deals with U.S.-based cannabis companies. MarketWatch Canopy Growth inked a deal to acquire C3 Cannabinoid Compound Co., a German medical cannabis firm, for about $342.9 million. BNN Bloomberg
Elsewhere around the world…
The Health Ministry of Israel devised a new system for processing medical marijuana licenses for patients. “The system allows for a doctor or the patient him/herself to enter their request and accompanying documents.” The Jerusalem Post David Nutt, the British neuropsychopharmacology professor, penned an essay about the challenges for patients in the U.K. who could be helped by medical cannabis. Part physician ignorance, part supply issues, patients have struggled to get access after the legal status of cannabis was changed last year. BMJ
Weed + Grub
Weed + Grub is a podcast about cooking, cannabis, comedy, and pop culture — hosted by Mary Jane Gibson and Mike Glazer. Word on the Tree is happy to support the podcast’s news section, The Grublet Gazette! Check it out wherever you get your podcasts or listen right here on the web: Weed + Grub
Word on the States
- In Michigan, regulators announced that licensed medical marijuana shops can no longer stock products from caregivers. They also plan to approve or deny all MMJ license applications by June 1.
- In Colorado, lawmakers approved a bill to allow medical marijuana as an opioid alternative and a one that extends the state’s marijuana programs, sending them to the governor.
- In Alaska, marijuana regulators approved rules to relax requirements for shops that want to allow edible consumption only. They are also frustrated over limited cooperation from the Department of Public Safety.
- In California, a look at the price of cannabis compared to other markets.
- In Maine, regulators are considering marijuana-testing rules. Regulators issued a conditional award for seed-to-sale tracking software.
- In Oregon, a new audit said that Portland should be more transparent in how it’s spending marijuana tax revenue.
- In Illinois, a state’s attorney prepares for potential marijuana legalization.
- In New Jersey, police busted an underground marijuana market in Jersey City.
- In New York, lawmakers are not rushing to legalize marijuana.
- In Vermont, a House committee advanced legislation to legalize marijuana sales. Lawmakers wrestled with the issue of roadside marijuana testing.
- In Wisconsin, the Republican Assembly speaker says he’s open to working with the governor to legalize medical marijuana.
- In Texas, why marijuana reform is taking so long, despite bipartisan support.
- In Kentucky, a hemp grower is sending hemp seeds into space.
Word for Word
“Right now, the focus with cannabis, it’s money. It’s products. It’s growth. But we have to remember one thing that ultimately, this plant brings so much fun to people, so much enjoyment, pleasure. It takes away pain. It inspires. And people can’t lose sight of the fun aspect of cannabis, the colorful aspect. And I think the arts is a perfect vehicle to bring that over and have it be appreciated by those companies and by their customers and their clients, and make this cannabis space, this cannabis world, and the legal world on the streets, a more artful place. It’s up to the artists to do that, and it’s up to the cannabis companies to be open and inviting to these people who have the goods to share.” – Artist-in-residence for Tweed Ezra Soiferman, Ganjapreneur Podcast
“The local campaign [in Denver] to decriminalize psilocybin is following the cannabis legalization playbook closely. The initiative is worded almost exactly like the 2007 marijuana law. If passed, psilocybin would still be illegal to possess, produce, or sell, but enforcing the laws related to the drug would become the city’s lowest priority. The measure would also create a mayor-appointed panel charged with analyzing the effects of loosening psilocybin restrictions. Voters began receiving ballots by mail last week, and the election coincides with mayoral and city council elections on May 7.” – Lindsay Fendt for CityLab