A credit union is ending its cannabis pilot program thanks to its insurance broker. Medical marijuana arrives in the Deep South as Louisiana patients finally access the drug. ‘Political heavyweights’ are teaming up to lobby on marijuana issues in California. Also: The producer of Arizona Tea is getting into the cannabis industry. 🌳
Alaska credit union to end cannabis pilot program.
Credit Union 1, Alaska’s only state-chartered credit union — is ending a pilot program to serve the state’s cannabis industry. The company offered checking and savings accounts to marijuana-related businesses as part of the program, but said that it would discontinue such services at the end of the month due to a lack of insurance coverage. “Four marijuana-related businesses had participated in the pilot program. Credit Union 1 was told by its insurance broker that the coverage in question wouldn’t be renewed because the credit union had a cannabis banking program,” explained the company’s CEO. Anchorage Daily News
Medical marijuana finally arrives in Louisiana.
After years of delays, patients were finally able to access medical marijuana products in Louisiana on Tuesday. A Marine veteran with PTSD was among the very first customers. Gary Hess said that cannabis changed his life when he first tried it in California and was happy to be able to finally access the medicine in his home state. “I’ll be able to do this legally in front of my family… That’s incredible,” he said. Patients expressed relief that medical cannabis was finally available after “regulatory disagreements between GB Sciences, LSU’s grower, and state regulators in Louisiana’s agriculture department slowed getting the product to shelves.” The Associated Press The state is the first in the Deep South to dispense medical marijuana. The Associated Press
‘Political heavyweights’ team up on Cali cannabis issues.
Capitol Advocacy, a top lobbying firm in Sacramento, Calif., is teaming up Los Angeles-based firm Spiker Consulting Group on cannabis issues. The partnership hopes to create a “one-stop-shop for the cannabis industry’s government relations, lobbying and advocacy needs at both the local and state level.” Spiker has been working with municipal governments in the past several years to address issues including taxation, zoning, licensing, and social equity enforcement. The Tribune
Utah Supreme Court rejects MMJ challenge.
The Utah Supreme Court rejected a petition seeking to overturn the state’s medical marijuana law. The legislature-approved law replaced the language of a medical marijuana ballot initiative that passed last November. The petitioners argued that the legislature and the governor acted unconstitutionally by replacing the voter-passed initiative with a more restrictive law. Some “supporters of the ballot initiative say they are optimistic that the law will see changes in the next legislative session.” Deseret News
Racial disparities in drug testing.
The NAACP chapter in Hampton Roads, Va. is raising awareness about false positives with a popular hair follicle drug test. The president of the chapter said that “the melanin in the dark hair picks up cocaine; it can pick up anything in our environment, smoke— it picks it up quickly whether you use it or not.” One woman described how she lost a job opportunity after a false positive. She took the test again a few days later and the results were negative, but the job she wanted wasn’t available anymore. “Panelists [said] something as simple as touching a dollar bill with cocaine residue and touching your hair can lead to a positive result on a hair follicle test.” WTKR
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Marijuana legalization and the opioid crisis.
A new study in Economic Inquiry found that access to legal marijuana “reduced annual opioid mortality in the range of 20 percent to 35 percent, with particularly pronounced effects for synthetic opioids.” “Recreational marijuana laws affect a much larger population than medical marijuana laws, yet we know relatively little about their effects,” said one of the study’s authors. “We find that opioid mortality rates drop when recreational marijuana becomes widely available via dispensaries.” EurekAlert
GW Pharma stock soars.
GW Pharmaceuticals, the producer of Epidiolex, said that sales of its CBD drug more than doubled from the previous quarter. Epidiolex is the first plant-derived cannabinoid drug approved by U.S. federal regulators for treating certain types of epilepsy. GW’s shares were up 11 percent in after-hours trading. The company said that more than 12,000 patients are prescribed Epidiolex. MarketWatch GW execs said that sales were benefiting from “pent-up demand” for a regulated CBD product. Marijuana Business Daily
Elsewhere in cannabis business news…
Arizona Beverage, the producer of Arizona Tea, has signed a deal with Dixie Brands to license its name for marijuana products. CNBC Cannabis cultivators in Colorado are increasingly struggling with mold and mildew. Westword Cannabis advocates, including a retired NYPD sergeant, are pushing for marijuana revenues to go towards community reinvestment programs and help people of color into the growing industry. ABC News At least hundreds of millions of dollars are traveling between California and Canada for cannabis deals as cash-hungry California businesses trade “money for market access.” Marijuana Business Daily
Cannabis in Canada.
Asparagus is making way for outdoor cannabis cultivation as one of the country’s outdoor cultivators takes over 27 acres that used to grow the vegetable. BNN Bloomberg Ontario is preparing for its second cannabis license lottery, which will offer 50 business licenses. One cannabis attorney said that he expects the second lottery to go much more smoothly than the first. BNN Bloomberg Quebec has banned topical cannabis products in a move that confounded the industry. Leafly Some industry experts believe that oversupply will lead to a price drop in Canada’s cannabis market. Leafly
Elsewhere around the world…
The Government Pharmaceutical Organization of Thailand delivered 4,500 bottles of cannabis oil to hospitals on Wednesday. It’s the first “official use of marijuana for medical purposes since a measure legalizing such use took effect this year.” Reuters The government of Mexico is soliciting public feedback on its plans to legalize marijuana. Marijuana Business Daily The information minister of Zimbabwe will repeal laws banning cannabis cultivation in hopes of exporting the crop to offset losses of its leading export crop tobacco. Bloomberg A look behind the complexities of the first deal to import medical marijuana into Europe from Latin America. Cannabis Wire An Australian journalist was sentenced to 13 years in prison in Myanmar for possessing drugs, including small amounts of marijuana and opium. The Associated Press
🗣 Shout Outs 🗣
Weed + Grub
Weed + Grub is a podcast about cooking, cannabis, comedy, and pop culture — hosted by Mary Jane Gibson and Mike Glazer. Their SXSW panel — Art, Entertainment & Social Justice Awareness — will feature Open Mike Eagle, Ron Funches and Laganja Estranja for a discussion about the role of art in cannabis advocacy. Vote for their panel here: SXSW Panel Picker
Word on the States
- In Ohio, a state rep. who blamed mass shootings on gay marriage and marijuana use refused to resign over her controversial comments.
- In Colorado, the Denver City Council voted not to renew contracts with private prison operators in a stunning vote.
- In Michigan, three communities voted against allowing marijuana businesses.
- In Massachusetts, a look at the state’s social equity program rollout. A guide to consuming cannabis in the state.
- In Florida, a prominent attorney who helped legalize MMJ came out in support of a recreational legalization initiative.
- In Georgia, a medical marijuana expansion plan has stalled as the governor’s administration hasn’t appointed members to the medical cannabis commission.
- In New Jersey, the state expands employment protections for medical marijuana patients.
- In South Dakota, the attorney general issued a statement on a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. Sponsors can now begin collecting signatures.
- In Arizona, medical marijuana sales reached $333.6 million in 2019. MMJ dispensaries are competing for space in Tempe.
- In Missouri, racial disparities in traffic stops in Ferguson have gotten worse in the past several years. St. Louis County is working on a medical marijuana zoning ordinance.
- In California, what to eat and drink at Los Angeles’ first cannabis cafe.
- In Illinois, Harwood Heights considers a proposal for a marijuana dispensary. St. Charles weighs allowing cannabis businesses. Buffalo Grove moves to allow recreational marijuana sales.
- In Arkansas, the first medical marijuana dispensary in the Northwest part of the state opens its doors today. A dispensary in the Mid-South will begin medical marijuana deliveries.
- In Wyoming, the state is waiting for a federal review of its hemp program. Farmers will have to wait at least another growing season thanks to the red tape.
- In Alabama, hemp farmers in the state say their first crop is growing well.
- In New York, Tiffany Cabán concedes Queens D.A. race.
Word for Word
“Woody [Harrelson] picks up the Willie’s Reserve cartridge, asks if I smoke. I confess that I do not, and then add that I thought he didn’t either anymore. He takes a thoughtful pull on the cartridge. ‘Yep, I did quit,’ he says on the exhale. ‘For almost two years. No smoking, no vaping. And then I ran into this guy’—he leans over and gives Rolling Stone Willie Nelson an affectionate chuck under the chin—’and that was that.'” – Lili Anolik for Esquire
“A Republican congressman apparently tried to make a point about immigration policy last week by strapping on a confiscated backpack that was reportedly used to traffic marijuana across the Southern border… [U.S. Rep. Steve] King has argued that building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would prevent drug trafficking. And while he may have felt the burlap sack was emblematic of trafficking trends, federal drug officials have made clear that’s not the case.” – Kyle Jaeger for Marijuana Moment
“On full display in Euphoria is the uncomfortable fact that drugs make us feel, well, euphoric. Drug use can be a self-medicating solution for paralyzing anxiety, a reprieve from depression, a warm hug in a garish world of alienation. But Euphoria also shows how the knife cuts both ways, that opioids and K-holes can only keep the volume down for so long until it comes roaring back.” – Zachary Siegel for Vulture