The FDA holds its first public hearing on CBD. A federal court orders the DEA to reconsider marijuana’s Schedule I status. Legalization in Illinois faces its final hurdle. Also: A newbie tries his hand at growing weed and finds out that it’s a lot harder than it seems. 🌳
FDA considers public input on CBD regulation.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is holding its first public hearing on CBD regulations. The CBD industry is booming, but has long operated in a legal gray area — even after last year’s hemp legalization provisions in the Farm Bill. The issue is complicated by other regulations, but the agency could end up allowing low-dose CBD supplements while restricting high-dose products. NPR Cannabis stocks were trading lower on Friday during the FDA’s hearing. “Wall Street thinks that the $1 billion market for CBD, a compound found in cannabis that does not get you high, could balloon to as much as $16 billion by 2025.” But that largely depends how federal regulations shake out. Business Insider
The courts on cannabis.
A federal court ruled it would hold open a case challenging the Schedule I status of marijuana, while ordering the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to consider changing the drug’s status within a “reasonable” amount of time. The decision is a “small but significant procedural victory” for marijuana advocates. Similar attempts to challenge marijuana’s Schedule I status in the courts have failed before. Marijuana Moment The Department of Justice announced that it wouldn’t charge a federal prosecutor who lied about using medical marijuana. “The attorney broke both state and federal law, but prosecutors for both local and federal law-enforcement ‘declined’ to press charges.” Marijuana Moment
The final hurdle for marijuana legalization in Illinois.
After the state Senate passed marijuana legalization legislation, the bill faces one last hurdle in the House. State rep. Kelly Cassidy, one of the authors of the bill, said she feels optimistic about its chances. If the bill were enacted, Illinois would become the first country in the nation to set up a commercial cannabis market through the legislature (as opposed to voters approving it at the ballot box). Crain’s Chicago Business During debate on the House floor, a state representative took out an egg and a frying pan. “I want to leave an image for you… You see this? This is your brain. There it is folks. This is your brain on drugs,” he said, cracking the egg into the pan. Another state rep. called the demonstration a waste of eggs “that should have been used to make a soufflé or something instead of making a ridiculous point that was outdated for 30 years.” WQAD
Marijuana reform in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Senate passed a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program in a 33-4 vote. The legislation would add additional medical marijuana-qualifying conditions, increase the possession limit, and creates a new cannabis regulatory body. It also allows for on-site consumption areas with municipal approval. Cannabis Wire The bill still requires Assembly approval for a Senate-added amendment to allow cannabis industry workers to unionize. But governor Phil Murphy is reportedly planning on taking executive action himself to expand the program, rather than wait for the legislation to reach his desk. Asbury Park Press Related: Despite widespread support for legalization, marijuana arrests in New Jersey are increasing. The state’s marijuana arrest rate is more than double the national average — “only Wyoming and South Dakota had a higher marijuana arrest rate than New Jersey.” nj.com
U.S. lawmakers talk cannabis.
U.S. Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) said he supports removing marijuana from its Schedule I status. “I think you’d be surprised by the amount of Republicans that would support it,” he said, but added that he thinks “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would likely block a descheduling bill.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune A bipartisan group of 43 members of the U.S. House wrote a letter to the Department of Justice and Homeland Security, asking the agencies to rescind a policy of barring immigrants from gaining U.S. citizenship if they work in the state-legal marijuana industry. “Implementing a policy that targets naturalization applicants based solely on their lawful employment in this industry creates conflicts of law with over two-thirds of American states and territories,” read the letter. Marijuana Moment
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UCLA’s paranoid stance on cannabis.
A graduate of UCLA launched a cannabis business based on his master’s thesis from the school. Brent Gerson’s company hoped to help people sleep without pharmaceuticals and even snagged the director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center as an advisor. Meanwhile, graduate of the school’s MD/MBA program Jeff Chen, founder and executive director of UCLA’s new Cannabis Research Initiative, was planning a cannabis research conference on campus. But last week, UCLA administrators said the conference violates a new policy prohibiting “programs or activities that are designed to help entrepreneurs develop businesses that engage in the cultivation, sale, distribution, or marketing of marijuana.” The Los Angeles Times
Medical marijuana is creating America’s new healthcare disparity.
Medical marijuana is more available than ever, with 33 U.S. states allowing some form of the drug for medical use. But all that legislative progress on the state level has created a new health care disparity where the treatment is only accessible to the wealthy. A primary care physician in New York writes about how she recommends medical marijuana for many of her chronic pain patients. “Unfortunately, most patients do not follow through on my recommendation… largely because they cannot afford it.” Not only do many patients struggle to afford the treatment, there are so few dispensaries in the state that they “usually need to take a multi-leg bus, train, and subway ride, or a costly car service.” Many of her patients end up purchasing marijuana from the black market. Stat
‘Canada’s saddest grow-op.’
A newbie tries his hand at growing marijuana, and finds that the task is “way, way harder than it looks.” Even with the help of an automated grow box, Canadian journalist Ian Brown’s gardening project suffered from technological obstacles and inexperience. Yet he looked forward to coming into work early to tend to his plant that he lovingly named Gretchen. “How proud I was of little Gretchen, who had started out so small and runty!” His first attempt at growing cannabis yielded 32 grams of 707 Headband, which he brought to a master cannabis grower to assess. “I’d have to give this a two out of 10,” said the grower. His boss, the CEO of a licensed cannabis company, declared that she wouldn’t smoke the stuff on account of its moldy scent. The Globe and Mail
Today in cannabis business news…
Even businesses with tangential ties to the cannabis industry can suffer from federal prohibition. A cabinet maker in Detroit was denied Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to the businesses’ tangential ties to the cannabis industry through a real estate deal. Reuters Investment bank and financial services firm Goldman Sachs revealed its stake in a marijuana exchange-traded fund (ETF) in an SEC filing. “This marks a huge turning point in sentiment towards the marijuana sector for Goldman.” Daily Marijuana Observer Colorado’s former top cannabis regulator talked about how having a marijuana license in a state like Florida is much more profitable than one in California. Miami Herald
What the science says…
A team of researchers at Washington State University says they’ve developed a new way to conduct genetic analysis on marijuana strains. “They believe government regulators could use this new analysis tool to ensure cannabis consumers get what they pay for.” Futurism A study out of the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that 73 percent of oncology providers believe that their patients could benefit from medical marijuana, but “only 46 percent are comfortable recommending it.” Providers cited limited knowledge on medical marijuana and legal concerns for why they are hesitant. “Still, the biggest issue that providers saw is the lack of certainty in dosing,” said the study’s lead author. Medical Xpress
Elsewhere around the world…
Hospitals in Canada have not seen any increase in cannabis-related cases since the country legalized recreational marijuana. “I’ve heard nothing — no indication that there’s all of a sudden a large increase,” said one healthcare professional. The Toronto Star The Supreme Court of Italy banned the sale of low-potency cannabis. Previously, cannabis with less than 0.6 percent THC was allowed to be cultivated and sold thanks to a 2016 law. “The ruling is likely to be a serious blow to the light weed commerce that has thrived in Italy in the last three years.” Reuters Police in Indonesia paraded five foreigners who have been arrested for selling drugs. The country last executed three foreigners in 2016 for drug offenses. The Associated Press
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Word on the States
- In Oregon, the state legislature passed a bill aiming to curb the state’s cannabis production.
- In Washington, the owner of a marijuana business is facing criminal charges for selling large amounts of cannabis concentrates.
- In Maryland, the state’s attempt to promote diversity in the medical marijuana industry has attracted more than 160 applications for 14 new licenses.
- In Massachusetts, regulators will delay voting on home delivery and social consumption regulations for a month. They granted a final license to the state’s first marijuana microbusiness.
- In Michigan, the Senate Majority Leader predicts voters will regret legalizing marijuana.
- In Rhode Island, lawmakers introduced several bills designed to help minorities enter the cannabis industry.
- In California, a lawmaker shelved a bill to require some cities to allow cannabis dispensaries after it couldn’t get enough votes. San Diego officials are delaying a planned crackdown on marijuana billboards. Residents of Carpinteria are raising concerns about the smell from cannabis grows.
- In New York, distribution of marijuana tax revenue is holding up the legalization proposal.
- In New Hampshire, the Senate voted to delay action on a marijuana legalization bill.
- In North Dakota, the health department will allow electronic medical marijuana cards for patients.
- In Utah, the state will open applications to grow medical cannabis this weekend.
- In Nebraska, the governor signed a hemp-farming bill.
- In North Carolina, lawmakers delayed a proposed ban on smokable hemp until the end of 2020.
- In Wisconsin, law enforcement interests are advocating against a hemp bill.
- In Colorado, the governor signed legislation to defelonize drug possession.
Word for Word
“Marijuana has gone mainstream, casino gambling is everywhere and sports wagering is spreading. Could prostitution be next? Lawmakers across the country are beginning to reconsider how to handle prostitution, as calls for decriminalization are slowly gaining momentum.” – Jesse McKinley for The New York Times
“Recently, I went to a virtual reality showroom in midtown to try out ‘Ayahuasca, Kosmik Journey,’ a 13-minute virtual reality experience that “lets visitors take a hallucinogenic trip guided by their reactions.” Ayahuasca is the psychedelic brew made from plants native to the Amazon basin, and it’s traditionally been used as a mind-opening spiritual and therapeutic stimulant, known for causing vomiting after ingestion. Many who take ayahuasca do so in the rainforest, near where the plants grow, or at least in groups with some sort of shaman or guide, and I was curious to see how virtual reality might try to replicate this. (A representative for the showroom had invited me to come try it out.)” – Edith Zimmerman for New York / The Cut