Former NFL players team up with Harvard to research medical marijuana for CTE. Texas marijuana advocates call out the state for investing in a cannabis company. NIDA wants to go beyond researching the harms of marijuana. Also: 40 percent of Canadian cannabis consumers are buying from the underground market. 🌳
Cannabis and the NFL.
Former NFL players Calvin Johnson and Rob Sims are partnering with Harvard University to research the therapeutic potential of medical marijuana for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The two co-own a cannabis company called Primitive and will donate six figures to the International Phytomedicines and Medical Cannabis Institute at Harvard. ESPN Johnson is also joining the board of directors for the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. Detroit News Former NFL player and CBS analyst Boomer Esiason said that there’s a chance an 18-game schedule could come to the league, but “they’d have to allow [players] to smoke dope.” nj.com
Marijuana advocates call out Texas marijuana investment.
Texas’s Permanent School Fund Committee has an investment worth $700,000 in cannabis real estate investment trust Innovative Industrial Properties. “It’s very hypocritical for the Texas government to stand so much against cannabis, to hear that you are spending almost $1 million in taxpayer money into a fund that is going to have a majority of its revenue coming from the marijuana industry, it doesn’t sit well with us,” said an advocate with the Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana. Advocates aren’t opposed to the state investing in cannabis-related businesses, but want to see the funds go towards Texas businesses. TPR
On the hemp-marijuana confusion facing prosecutors.
The Texas Forensics Science Commission is working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on developing a new test to differentiate between hemp and marijuana. The test will identify whether the substance has THC levels of 1 percent or more, and the commission hopes to have the test available by early next year. Meanwhile, private labs are seeking to fill the gap. KERA A federal court in Florida says it will review marijuana cases that the state’s attorney refuses to prosecute. WTXL Police in Athens-Clarke County, Ga. will stop arresting people for marijuana possession until they receive drug-testing equipment that can tell the difference between marijuana and hemp. The Red & Black
The NYPD’s DNA database.
Before Chanel Lewis was arrested and convicted of a murder, police sought more than 360 black men in Queens and Brooklyn for their saliva samples. One Queens man, who was arrested for a marijuana offense, said police kept him in jail until he agreed to provide a sample. “We know it wasn’t you, but we want to make sure,” a detective told him. The NYPD’s DNA database, like those of other police agencies across the U.S., has grown in recent years with little oversight. The New York Times
NIDA goes beyond researching the harms of marijuana.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is usually more interested in funding research into the harms of marijuana, not its benefits. But in a notice on cannabis research objectives, the federal agency included goals like: “Examine reasons for initiation and continued use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes.” The new research objectives show that the federal government is “recognizing the reality of the marijuana legalization movement” with most U.S. states having legalized some form of medical cannabis. Marijuana Moment
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Acreage CEO says cannabis banking fix is coming.
Acreage CEO Kevin Murphy believes that Congress will likely vote on the SAFE Banking Act this year. If passed, the legislation would allow banks to work with state-legal marijuana businesses without the fear of federal prosecution. “Conservative Republicans are all about safety and they’re all about taking cash out of the system,” said Murphy during an earnings call. Barron’s Related: But some Senate Republicans are reluctant to weigh in on pot banking before the 2020 election, fearing that they risk alienating voters who are anti-marijuana. American Banker
Harvest Health bullish on AZ legalization.
Harvest Health & Recreation, the Arizona-based multi-state operator, is optimistic that the state will legalize recreational marijuana at the ballot box next year. The company’s CEO “Steve White said advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana use have met with every individual and group that financed the opposition in 2016, addressing their concerns about adult use in Arizona… The polling that we have seen shows it will most likely pass this time.” The company is in the midst of several acquisitions that are pending regulatory approval. Barron’s
Elsewhere in cannabis business news…
Cannabis restaurants are coming to California. Here’s a look at the regulatory hurdles that entrepreneurs must overcome to launch a cannabis consumption business. The Washington Post Y Combinator is investing in cannabis breathalyzer maker SannTek Labs, the latest startup that hopes to develop a tool for law enforcement to measure marijuana impairment. But such efforts raise questions about inaccuracies, as measuring THC levels in an individual does not necessarily correlate with impairment. Observer Despite having a 5-year contract with medical cannabis producer Invictus MD, Gene Simmons has “abdicated his role” as “Chief Evangelist Officer” after 17 months. Leafly
Cannabis in Canada.
Canadian men are twice as likely to consume cannabis compared to women, according to new data from Statistics Canada. About 16 percent of Canadians over the age of 15 reported using marijuana in the past three months. CBC News 40 percent of those cannabis consumers bought pot from the illicit market. Global News The owner of an independent cannabis dispensary in Newfoundland has done $1.4 million in sales, but is barely keeping afloat. The entrepreneur says he might have to close up shop because the profit margins in the industry are too small. CBC News Cannabis giant Canopy Growth says it will need another three to five years till it’s profitable. Reuters
Elsewhere around the world…
Hundreds of patients in the U.K. are turning to private clinics for medical cannabis as they struggle to access the drug through the NHS, which can cost up to £800 a month. Meanwhile, many are unable to afford private clinics and have been repeatedly denied medical cannabis through the NHS. BBC Hundreds were detained by police during a raid on a suspected cannabis cafe in East London. Evening Standard The government of Thailand is moving cautiously on medical marijuana, offering hope to patients. But baby steps aren’t enough to fulfill intense demand for the medicine. The Washington Times An official of Jamaica says that import-export regulations for the cannabis industry are coming soon. Jamaica Observer
🗣 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 Massachusetts, marijuana advocates urge the state to help small cannabis businesses. Poison control centers are seeing a spike in calls about toddlers getting into marijuana products. Grafton’s board voted to approve a former selectman’s marijuana dispensary.
- In California, Santa Barbara County will use cannabis tax revenue to fund local libraries. Antioch approves its third cannabis dispensary.
- In Illinois, hemp plants will be displayed at the state fair. Highland Park will ban marijuana sales January 1.
- In Michigan, medical marijuana businesses are waiting to serve recreational consumers. The state issued rules for industrial hemp testing.
- In Washington D.C., a second medical marijuana dispensary is opening east of the Anacostia River this year. A councilmember dismissed an aide who was charged with firing a gun outside a pop-up marijuana market.
- In Missouri, the health department extended the deadline for medical marijuana dispensary applications.
- In New York, a MedMen dispensary in Williamsville is moving.
Word for Word
“[Nate] Diaz stands out in a tent of circus performers by doing nothing but being himself. That much was on display when he strolled into his open workout on Wednesday smoking a CBD joint from his own cannabis business, and proceeded to pass more out to fans. He had planned to stop smoking marijuana a couple of weeks before his fight against Anthony Pettis on Saturday at U.F.C. 241 in Anaheim, because the compound in weed that causes psychoactive effects, THC, remains a banned substance for which fighters are tested.” – John Branch for The New York Times
“We know that CBD is not a panacea. It may, however, help with a range of conditions. But we won’t know until rigorous research can be conducted. That’s why we urge the federal government to end barriers to research on the benefits and risks of cannabinoids and to implement a sound system to manage CBD-based products. Because so many diseases remain without treatment and cure, more rational governmental regulations are needed regarding the availability of cannabis for clinical trials. We also urge state agencies to develop public health campaigns to educate communities about unregulated CBD in food and drink. At the very least, shouldn’t we know exactly what is being stirred into our lattes?” – Cannabis researchers Beatriz H. Carlini, Gregory Carter and Nephi Stella for Stat News