Pain control: “no evidence” cannabis improves outcomes

Study throws into doubt claims for medical marijuana. Paul Biegler reports.

Depending on who you listen to, medical cannabis is either a rising star in the world of therapeutics or an over-vaunted pariah that should never have exited the grubby world of the illicit street corner deal.

In October 2016, the Australian federal government legalised medicinal cannabis, paving the way for individual statesto legislate its use for a range of conditions including intractable epilepsy, pain and nausea in cancer, and limb spasticity in multiple sclerosis.

Sensing opportunity, a number of companies are jostling for early position in what is estimated to be a 100 million dollar a year medical cannabis market. A recent exposé by current affairs programme Four Corners called it a “green rush”, replete with “marijuana moguls”.

The science, however, is decidedly patchy, plagued by poor quality studies and the challenge of giving standard doses of a drug with over 400 chemical ingredients – 60 of which are the cannabinoids implicated in pain relief, and others having opposing effects.

One recent review found “reasonable evidence” of benefit for nausea in chemotherapy. Another in children and adolescents found “increasing evidence of benefit for epilepsy”, but insufficient evidence to support use for spasticity and neuropathic pain, a burning sensation caused by oversensitive nerves.

A new study, led by Gabrielle Campbell from the Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales in Sydney is unlikely to induce cheer in either stockholders of medical cannabis companies, or patients desperate for relief.

Published in the journal Lancet Public Health, the research examined cannabis use over four years in a nationwide cohort of 1514 Australian adults with chronic non-cancer pain. Most had back or neck pain, neuropathic pain, or arthritis, and the median duration was 10 years. All were using some form of opioid drug, such as oxycodone or morphine, to control symptoms.

The researchers tracked cannabis use with interviews and self-report questionnaires, categorising participants as non-users, infrequent users, or daily/near-daily users.

The results were underwhelming.

At the four year mark, just under a quarter had used cannabis as a painkiller. Those who did, however, reported more severe pain and greater disruption to their daily lives. Users also clocked higher anxiety and were less likely to think they could carry on in spite of pain.

Further, the researchers found cannabis use bore no relation in time with changes in pain scores or level of functioning. Nor did cannabis lead to reduced dosage or discontinuation of opioid drugs.

“Cannabis use was common in people with chronic non-cancer pain who had been prescribed opioids, but we found no evidence that cannabis use improved patient outcomes,” the authors concluded.

The researchers did, however, find something perplexing. Cannabis users often felt better, and on average rated the drug seven out of 10 effective, despite a lack of objective improvement in their reported pain scores.

“It is really difficult to disentangle the reasons for this,” says Campbell. “One hypothesis is that it may improve sleep and subjective wellbeing.”

It’s worth noting the study took place mostly before medical cannabis was legalised, so the drug was often obtained illicitly and smoked. This potentially limits the relevance of findings for medical cannabis.

“Some of the medicinal formulations have higher concentrations of CBD [cannabidiol] … and also they may have higher doses or higher quality,” says Michael Farrell, director of NDARC and a co-investigator on the study.

Nonetheless, the negative findings raise questions about the pace of legislation to increase access to medical cannabis.

“We think that the Therapeutic Goods Administration has taken a balanced approach and it is important to try and promote access for those who feel it is important for them, but to continue to keep a careful eye on it and look at the evidence,” says Farrell.

“What is important here is that we try to moderate expectations people have around handling pain.”

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Choom™ (CHOOF) Announces Addition to the Executive Team

Choom™ (CSE: CHOO)( OTCQB: CHOOF) (the “Company” or “Choom”), a fully-integrated cannabis company, is pleased to announce the appointment of Kyp Rowe to the Management team in the role of Director of Operations. Mr. Rowe will be a key member of the Choom team, leading our premium craft cannabis cultivation strategy to support our retail roll-out for the recreational market in Canada.

“Bringing Kyp onboard significantly strengthens our team as we continue to develop prepare for when the Canadian recreational cannabis market commences on October 17, 2018, states Chris Bogart, President and CEO of Choom. “Kyp brings over 20 years of domestic and international premium cultivation and genetic development expertise to Choom, having operated award-winning production facilities overseas and throughout North America. The appointment of Kyp is lends further strength to Choom building one of the leading recreational cannabis brands, based on premium, hand-crafted products that we believe will resonate strongly with the market.”

With over 20 years of international cannabis and mixed agriculture experience, Mr. Rowe brings a unique set of skills from seed to sale. He was most recently with Sante Veritas Therapeutics, an ACMPR applicant in British Columbia, where he helped bring them to the final stages of licensing. A graduate of UBC, he also spent 8 years as Vineyard Manager and Cellar Master at a winery in the Okanagan, where he oversaw the implementation of a fully certified organic vineyard, producing wines which won multiple national and international wine competitions. He has managed a European breeding facility that produced cannabis seeds for worldwide distribution, as well as overseeing a large-scale award-winning cannabis production farm.

With his deep experience in the cannabis space, Mr. Rowe will be instrumental in helping Choom navigate the pending landscape of legalized recreational use for adult consumers.


The Choom brand is inspired by Hawaii’s “Choom Gang”- a group of buddies in Honolulu during the 1970’s who loved to smoke weed—or as the locals called it, choom. Evoking the spirit of the original Choom Gang, our brand is synonymous with cultivating good times with good friends. We are focused on delivering an elevated customer experience through our curated retail environments, high-grade handcrafted cannabis supply, and a diversity of brands for the Canadian recreational consumer.


Cautionary Statement:


Forward-looking information                 
This news release contains forward-looking information relating to the Company’s proposed activities and other statements that are not historical facts. Forward-looking information relates to management’s future outlook and anticipated events or results, and include statements or information regarding the future plans or prospects of the Company. Although management of the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. These factors include risks and uncertainties associated with the results of diligence investigations, developments in the cannabis sector, delays resulting from or inability to obtain required regulatory approvals and ability to access sufficient capital from internal and external sources, reliance on key personnel, regulatory risks and delays and other risks and uncertainties discussed in the management discussion and analysis section of the Company’s interim and most recent annual financial statement or other reports and filings, including the Company’s Listing Statement, made with the applicable Canadian securities regulators. There can be no assurance that such information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward looking information.

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Stylus Research Identifies Five Trends to Watch in the Legal #Cannabis Era

“What is most surprising about the cannabis market is the disconnect between the new reality and enduring misconceptions around who’s using it and why.” Marian Berelowitz, US senior editor at Stylus

New York – June 19, 2018 ( Newswire) The legal cannabis era is here. As the ‘green rush’ to capitalize on it builds momentum in North America, innovation research and advisory company Stylus highlights five emerging trends shaping the future of cannabis culture and consumption.

1. Cannabis Versus Cocktails

Cannabis has the potential to match alcohol as the recreational product of choice in the US. Use among US college students is already climbing, while drinking is declining. It plays a similar role to alcohol, lending itself to party-goers, parents and others looking to unwind – even serving as a host gift in lieu of wine. It’s especially appealing to those eager to avoid hangovers or alcohol’s calorie count.

2. ‘Canna-Curious’ Hubs

Commercialized cannabis is maturing into an opportunity expected to be worth $57bn globally by 2027, according to Arcview Group. Catering to an influx of newly intrigued consumers, brands are demystifying cannabis via strategies such as subscription boxes, cannabis socials for product sampling, and even Tinder-like apps. The next stage in educating consumers and cultivating fans will be cannabis tourism. California-based Flow Kana is turning a defunct winery into an experience center that will offer educational tours of its cannabis farm, along with tastings.

3. Female Focus

A ‘by and for’ women’s sector is booming in the industry. Women are among the fastest-growing cohorts of cannabis consumers – spending by females on cannabis deliver app Eaze increased by 20% in 2017, and increasingly prolific as cannabis entrepreneurs. As a result, products that skew towards feminine tastes – from menstrual-relief products to sleek pipes and jewelry that doubles as a sophisticated roach clip – are proliferating. Women are defining the future of cannabis.

4. Medical-Grade Marijuana

Cannabis hasn’t yet been widely integrated into the mainstream medical community, but that will change. We’ll see an upswing in education available for healthcare providers and patients, and an evolution of products geared to patient use – enabling users to more precisely control dosing, for instance. Legalization is bringing more biotech and other start-ups into the space, all likely to advance understanding of how cannabis can aid patients and help adapt it to clinical use.

5. New Pet Essential

As several key medical benefits of cannabidiol (CBD, the non-psychoactive compound of cannabis) – including relief from anxiety and joint pain – appear to help animals as much as humans, CBD-infused products for pets are booming. The potential here is enormous, given that Americans now spend nearly $70bn annually on their pets, and younger owners in particular are embracing alternative remedies to ensure optimal animal health.

About Stylus

Stylus is a global innovation research and advisory company that identifies and connects the most important global and cross-industry trends. Our insights are used by more than 500 of the world’s leading consumer brands, businesses and agencies to understand the attitudes and behaviors of their consumers, the products and services they’re using, and how they engage with the world around them. Our team of 150 industry experts work across five continents, analyzing more than 20 consumer-facing industries. We operate out of New York, Miami, London, São Paulo, Melbourne, Singapore, Tokyo and South Korea.

Natasha Fish
PR Manager, Stylus

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Still want to ride the cannabis boom? Six bets to play the green gold rush

The growing menu of cannabis stocks may be enticing for investors seeking to profit from the green gold rush, but betting on winners is not easy.

Cannabis companies have been in the spotlight during the run-up to the legalization of recreational pot in Canada. With the passage of Bill C-45 in the Senate, the sale of marijuana now has the green light, although it will be fall before consumers can buy cannabis products.

Risks for investors still abound in this young industry. There is uncertainty as to whether producers can meet delivery targets, or whether there could be a cannabis glut. It is unclear whether restrictions on cannabis advertising will make it difficult for the legal product to compete against the black market.

And it hasn’t been determined how much dilution shareholders face because of bought-deal financings, whereby the underwriting syndicate buys the entire stock offering and resells the shares to their clients.

Given the potential landmines among pot plays, we asked three cannabis-focused fund managers for some of their top picks.

Greg Taylor, portfolio manager at Purpose Investments Inc., Toronto

Fund: Purpose Marijuana Opportunities Fund with ETF series (MJJ-NEO)

The pick: Hydropothecary Corp. (THCX-X)

52-week range: $1.10 to $5.42 a share

The Gatineau, Que.-based medical cannabis producer is “one of the leaders in the space, but seems to be getting overlooked,” says Mr. Taylor. “Its stock trades at a discount to its peers, and about half of the valuation of Canopy Growth Corp.”

In April, Hydropothecary signed a five-year deal with Société des alcools du Québec to supply more than 200,000 kilograms of cannabis products for recreational use, thus becoming Quebec’s preferred supplier. The firm, which has a strong management team, is expanding its greenhouse capacity, investing in extraction technologies, and plans to grow globally, he says. “They are working on research and development projects for extraction into oils and infusion into beverages.”

Hydropothecary, whose cost of production is less than $1 per gram, also benefits from cheaper power in Quebec. The firm is an unlikely takeover candidate but could partner with a major beverage or drug-industry player, he adds.

The pickCannTrust Holdings Inc. (TRST-TSX)

52-week range: $5.86 to $10.58 a share

The Vaughan, Ont.-based cannabis producer is well-positioned as a play on medical marijuana that could “explode in demand,” Mr. Taylor suggests. It sells higher-margin cannabis oils and has introduced innovations, such as vegan-based capsules.

CannTrust has credibility in its niche because it was founded and is controlled by former pharmacists, and has partnered with Apotex Inc., Canada’s largest generic drug maker, which exports to more than 115 countries, he adds. But CannTrust, which has indoor-grow and greenhouse facilities, also plans to expand into recreational cannabis and is developing pet products, too, he says. “They are thinking out of the box.”

The firm, which has reported three consecutive quarters of profit, recently raised $100-million from a bought-deal to meet its growth needs. CannTrust, whose stock trades at a big discount to peers such as Canopy Growth Corp., could be a takeover target for a pharmaceutical giant, he says.

Charles Taerk, president of Faircourt Asset Management Inc., Toronto

Fund: Ninepoint UIT Alternative Health Fund

The pickAphria Inc. (APH-TSX)

52-week range: $5.14 to $24.75 a share

Shares of the Leamington, Ont.-based medical cannabis producer, which are off sharply from their January peak, are compelling on a relative-value basis, says Mr. Taerk.

Aphria’s recent acquisition of Nuuvera Corp. was controversial because of cross-ownership, but it is helping global expansion, he says. Aphria, a low-cost producer, now has access to more than 13,000 pharmacies in Germany. The firm, whose current production capacity is second only to Canopy Growth Corp., has also posted 10 consecutive quarters of positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), he notes. It has a strong management team led by Vic Neufeld, formerly CEO of Jamieson Laboratories Ltd., he adds.

Aphria is building a $55-million extraction facility for cannabis concentrates to be used in everything from edibles to infused beverages, and has also partnered with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits for product distribution, he adds.

The pickOrganigram Holdings Inc. (OGI-X)

52-week range: $2.04 to $5.93 a share

Organigram is one of the top five Canadian licensed medical marijuana producers in terms of current production capacity, but its stock trades at a significant discount to its bigger peers, says Mr. Taerk.

Based in Moncton, N.B., it doesn’t have the profile of Ontario players but benefits from lower power rates and cheaper land costs, he adds. Organigram lost its organic certification in 2016 after some batches tested for pesticides, but new management led by chief executive officer Greg Engel “has turned the ship around,” he says. The company will be getting its certification back, but only a small part of its business will be organic, Mr. Taerk notes.

Organigram’s cost-per-gram averaged $1.22 during the latest quarter, which is low for an indoor grower, he says. Organigram, which is doing a “nice job of creating a brand strategy” for recreational cannabis, is also a potential takeover target or could merge with other regional players, he adds.

Bruce Campbell, president of StoneCastle Investment Management Inc., Kelowna, B.C.

Funds: Cannabis Growth Opportunity Corp. (CGOC-CN) and StoneCastle Cannabis Growth Fund

The pick: Valens GroWorks Corp. (VGW-CN)

52-week range: 75 cents to $3.50 a share.

Toronto-base Valens, which aims to be a vertically integrated cannabis products provider, is attractive as a multi-licensed company with various revenue streams, says Mr. Campbell. “But their big business is going to end up being in extraction.”

The company, whose production facilities are in Kelowna, B.C., holds a dealer’s licence to produce and sell its higher-margin cannabis oils, and has an agreement with Canopy Growth Corp. to distribute its products through its CraftGrow program. Valens has applied for a cultivation licence, but also signed a deal recently with Speakeasy Cannabis Club Ltd., which will also supply it with cannabis. Valens, which has a licence to offer cannabis-testing services, has teamed up with U.S. scientific instruments maker Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. to do so.

Valens could be a takeover target for players wanting extraction expertise or could even merge with smaller firms to build a regional powerhouse, he says.

The pick: Friday Night Inc. (TGIF-CN)

52-week range: 17 cents to $1.40 a share

This Chilliwack, B.C.-based company, which is involved in growing and distributing medical and recreational marijuana in the United States, operates three distinct business lines, says Mr. Campbell. Its business is focused on Nevada, a medical-marijuana state that legalized recreational cannabis in 2016. Friday Night is a potential takeover target for a player that wants a foothold in that state, or it could be an acquirer, too, he says.

Alternative Medicine Association, its licensed producer, is building a new cultivation facility in Las Vegas to expand capacity, and recently bought an adjacent building for cannabis extraction. Its Infused MFG unit produces cannabidiol (CBD)-infused products ranging from pet products to lip balms and cream.

And its Spire Secure Logistics unit, which gets a recurring revenue stream from selling security services to the cannabis industry, will see demand grow as the industry matures, he predicts.

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U.S. Tax Court Rejects Cannabis Businesses, but Bankers Want in on Legal Weed

As financial institutions pressure lawmakers to allow state-legal canna-businesses access to banking services, a new judicial ruling complicates the industry’s cash issues even further.

The fight for cannabis legalization in America is gaining new ground every day. At the local, state, and even national level, the U.S. is soaked in green rush growth and medical marijuana advancements. But in the financial sphere, strict adherence to federal regulations and a long-standing stigma have continually prevented any significant progress on the problems of marijuana-related banking and taxation.

Complicating those issues even further, a ruling from a U.S. tax court judge released this week will make it more difficult for legal weed businesses to square up with Uncle Samcome tax season.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, Judge Richard Morrison ruled against now-closed Colorado medical marijuana dispensary Altermeds after the pot shop owners had attempted to file standard business tax deductions on the non-cannabis products that they sold, namely rolling papers, pipes, and other smoking accessories.

Tax officials have long denied deductions from cannabis businesses under Code 280E, which restricts any illegal business from writing off standard expenses in tax filings. Altermeds’ owners argued that pipes were not included under the definition of illicit items covered in 280E, but Judge Morrison disagreed, writing in his decision that he considered paraphernalia as part of the marijuana business.

For state-legal weed businesses around the country, the deduction denial is yet another strain on an already tenuous relationship with finances and banking. Despite repeated efforts from cannabis advocates and lawmakers, federal law restricts banking institutionsfrom working with marijuana businesses, leaving growers and dispensary owners around the country counting their payroll, taxes, and profits in cash.

Just last week, the House Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to the 2019 budget that would have allowed banks to work with weed companies without worrying about losing federal insurance. But while U.S. judges and legislators have been slow to act on securing financial stability for state-legal ganjapreneurs, banking professionals have begun to see the light.

According to MJBizDaily, a number of influential finance industry lobbying groups, including the Independent Community Bankers of America and the American Bankers Association, have lent official support to cannabis finance reform. With millions upon millions of dollars in assets currently locked out of federally-insured institutions, bankers are beginning to see the huge potential profits behind legal pot.

Back in Colorado, however, the former owners of Altermeds will now have to cough up nearly $470,000 in back taxes and penalties.

As the proliferation of marijuana reform laws continues to spark the creation of new cannabis businesses across the country, reconciling the costly differences between state law and federal financial regulations will be instrumental in bringing the once-controversial plant fully into the American mainstream.

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Wall Street’s Cannabis Investments Stay Hush-Hush Due to Stigma

Danny Moses wasn’t afraid to broadcast he’d profited from the 2008 housing crisis, but he’s keeping his latest investment — the burgeoning cannabis industry — closer to the vest.

Moses, who was head trader at FrontPoint Partners under Steve Eisman, as documented in the book and film “The Big Short,” says the plant’s still federally illegal status has left people like him hesitant to make pot investments public.

“The stigma of shorting housing I never thought about. The thought of going long cannabis, I have. It’s more of a cultural adoption,” he said. Still Moses, 48, said he sees the potential opportunity as too big to miss. “In general, go where the money can be made.”


Wall Street’s biggest institutions may not be getting into the Green Rush, but individual investors are quietly diving in. One haven for Wall Street money, including from Moses, is Merida Capital Partners. The private equity firm has drawn backers with resumes that list the world’s most well-known banks and technology companies.

The cannabis industry is expected to reach $75 billion in sales in 2030, up from $6 billion in 2016, according to investment bank Cowen & Co. Still, marijuana remains illegal on a federal level and is classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic.

The drug’s Reefer Madness-fueled reputation has held people like Moses back from publicly flouting industry involvement. As the father of two teenage boys, Moses said he feared being labeled the “pot dad,” emphasizing that he’s against young people using the plant unless there is a proven medical need.

But the cultural reaction to cannabis is changing. Sixty-four percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing it, according to an October Gallup poll. That helped sway Wall Street investor Paul Ciasullo, 59.

“My 82-year-old mother said it was a good idea to get into the space,” he said. Now he’s invested 10 percent to 20 percent of his portfolio in the industry.


The illicit nature of the product makes investing a more difficult task than putting money in other consumer packaged goods. There are few publicly traded companies and well-known executives are scarce. Enter Merida.

The private equity fund is largely focused on investing in businesses that provide ancillary products to the cannabis industry, like software and packaging. About 15 percent of the portfolio is plant-touching. Mitch Baruchowitz, 43, founded the New York-based firm in September 2016. He was previously associate general counsel and chief compliance officer of MarketAxess, an electronic trading platform, and the general counsel of boutique investment bank Pali Capital. His two decades dealing with legal filings and complicated regulations fueled his entrance into the pot business.

‘East Coast Grit’

“I was kind of appalled at the lack of formality in the business models,” he said of the early cannabis industry. “It just seemed like there was a real business out there if some people could take more formal steps and really bring some East Coast grit to what was this really wide open space.”

That’s what Baruchowitz did. He filed and won licenses with groups to grow marijuana in several states. Then, with three years of experience in cannabis under his belt, he decided to switch his focus to the more asset-light side of things and founded Merida, he said.

Baruchowitz’s understanding of the industry and his background in law and finance helped attract many investors to the company.

The firm boasts backers that range from Wall Street veterans to early participants in some of the world’s largest technology companies. Many said they aren’t pot users themselves, and all cited the plant’s medicinal potential, particularly for helping deal with the opioid crisis.

Most of the stakeholders who agreed to be interviewed wouldn’t speak on the record. The reasons for anonymity included concern that publicly acknowledging the investments could negatively impact their personal and professional lives.

Investment Driver

That same stigma has also fueled investment in the industry.

“The most successful investments in my career have come when either the market is rushing for the exits or there are significant barriers to entry,” said David Goldburg, who previously worked at Michael Milken’s family office, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and founded Battlebourne Capital. “Today there’s a rare opportunity to invest under the radar screen in cannabis because the institutional players are on the sidelines.”

Goldburg, 55, first joined Merida as an investor before coming on board as a partner. In the six months since he officially joined the ranks, Merida has surpassed $50 million in assets under management. Every month, the firm will see about 75 deals and does due diligence on as many as 10 of them. Part of its strategy is holding itself and potential investments up to the standards of other types of asset classes.

“The conventional wisdom for cannabis is — because cannabis is such a huge opportunity and because it’s growing so quickly — that all you need to do is throw some darts and you’ll be fine,” Goldburg said. “That approach doesn’t work for any asset class generally speaking and in cannabis in particular, it’s very dangerous.”

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Cannabis Sales In Canada Are Expected To Pass $7 Billion In 2019

How much will legalization be worth? Now we know who will be buying weed, and how much they’ll be paying for it.

After legalization this summer, Canada will be one of the biggest weed consumers in the world. How much will the Canadian market be worth was the million (or billion) dollar question—until now. Financial giant Deloitte just released an official report on cannabis in the country’s market. In it, they shared that cannabis sales in Canada are expected to pass $7 billion in 2019.

Canadians Will Spend Over $7 Billion on Weed

In the report titled A Society in Transition, An Industry Ready to Bloom, Deloitte surveyed Canadians in early 2018 to predict future marijuana consumption. The report estimates that cannabis sales in Canada are expected to Pass $7 billion in 2019 alone. This includes medical, legal recreational, and illegal sales.

It also predicts that legal recreational sales will make up $4.34 billion, the majority of overall sales. According to surveys, Canadians will buy legal marijuana as long as it’s no more than 10 percent more than what’s currently available illegally.

Deloitte calculates the Canadian weed market value is worth between $1.34–2.75 billion. In 2019, they expect it to increase to $1.81–4.34 billion.

The Average Consumer Is Changing

The report describes the current weed smoker as “risk taker,” which skews younger (18-34 years old). They expect that legalization will attract 35-54 year-olds, who will consume, on average, less than once a month.

This doesn’t mean that they’re new to the herb. 3/4 have smoked, eaten or vaped in the past, and almost half have in the past few years.

After legalization, those who rarely smoke weed and those who consume it often are expected to increase their intake. Not only that, but the rare smokers will spend 65 percent more on marijuana than they do now.

The culture around marijuana is changing. Middle-aged consumers, especially those with college or graduate school educations, will become typical. These will be people with stable jobs, families and more of an inclination to follow the law.

Canadian Spending On Legal Weed Will Depend On Access

There are some major hurdles to overcome post-legalization. The lower the priceof legal recreational marijuana and the better the supply and access, the more Canadians will spend.

Most cannabis consumers will buy from dispensaries. This means that location, accessible information and a good (and visible) supply are key. Of Canadians surveyed, one third would buy marijuana online. Delivery services have the advantage of privacy, but the threat of shared data.

Most Canadians Will Be Buying Their Weed Legally

Overall, most people see the benefits of legalization–and are willing to pay for it. The average Canadian is open to paying 10 percent more, though it varies per province. They see legalization as a way to guarantee quality and offer better and more varied products.

And if there are enough dispensaries, and if weed is cheap and plentiful enough, this could mean over $7 billion in weed sales in 2019.

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Michigan Legislators Could Vote to Legalize Weed This Week

Republican lawmakers want to end prohibition on their own, ahead of November’s ballot initiative vote, in hopes of tightening the state’s proposed green rush regulations.

Republicans in the Michigan legislature want to vote on recreational cannabis legalization before the week is up. But while Great Lake State conservatives could finally open the floodgates for marijuana policy reform in the Midwest, the socially progressive crossover is still flush with ulterior motives.

According to Michigan Live, the legislative legalization push would enact the state’s prohibition-ending marijuana ballot measure before a public vote, allowing Michigan’s lead Republican lawmakers to more easily amend the law and add new, presumably stricter, regulations to the state’s impending green rush.

“I’m proposing that we adopt it and amend it and put it right under the [medical] marijuana law and regulate it,” Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, who is leading the legalization charge, told MLive.

Late last year, Michigan cannabis activists collected over 360,000 signatures in support of a legalization ballot measure appearing in the upcoming midterm elections, which was then quickly approved by state officials. Compound that initiative with polling data that shows over 60% of Michigan voters support legalization, and experts around the country have widely predicted the Great Lake State as a near-lock for legalization.

If passed, the ballot measure would legalize the possession, use, and sale of marijuana for adults 21 years and older. Residents and tourists alike would be able to carry up to 2.5 ounces of weed and purchase pot from state-licensed stores. Like Colorado, Michigan’s legalization program would direct cannabis tax revenue to local schools and road repairs, with a proposed 10% excise fee added to every marijuana product.

Reading the writing on the wall, Michigan legislators and anti-cannabis advocates have all but given up the fight for prohibition, and have now shifted their focus towards regulatory control and the ability to amend the particulars of legalization.

Put to a successful popular vote, Michigan lawmakers could amend the voter-approved ballot initiative with support from three-quarters of the state legislature. If the legalization effort is passed by legislative vote, though, Sen. Meekhof and his Republican peers will only need a basic majority to make changes to the state’s marijuana laws. With a current conservative majority in Lansing, those changes could be made as quickly as the bill is approved.

For the cannabis advocates who worked tirelessly to construct and validate Michigan’s legalization measure, the legislative power grab is troubling. Like post-legalization problems in MassachusettsMaine, and elsewhere, supporters are worried that legislators could add unnecessary red tape and delay the implementation of Michigan’s retail market.

“We’re happy for the legislature to adopt our initiative as written. But we have a strong position that it doesn’t need to be changed right away,” said Josh Hovey, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “We used Michigan’s 2016 [medical marijuana] framework to draft our initiative, and we followed it very, very closely,”

In addition to possibly adding higher taxes or stricter zoning rules for pot shops, political experts have argued that a legislative end to marijuana prohibition could change the outcome of Michigan’s other November elections, with young people potentially discouraged from participating in the democratic process without the option to vote for legal weed.

If Senator Meekhof and Great Lake State Republicans are going to pass cannabis legalization on their own, though, they will need to act fast. Michigan’s Senate and House of Representatives must both approve the initiative before the end of Tuesday, or the measure will automatically be sent to November’s ballot for a public vote.

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CBD Market To Grow 700 Percent By 2020

As therapeutic cannabis use continues to be associated with health and wellness lifestyles, the popularity of CBD products has only grown.

A new report by the Hemp Business Journal is projecting massive growth in the hemp-derived CBD market over the next few years. While the U.S. hemp industry generated $820 million in sales in 2017, $190 million came from sales of hemp-derived CBD products. And experts project CBD products will drive the U.S. hemp industry over the $1 billion mark in 2018. Furthermore, the same reports project the CBD market to grow 700 percent by 2020.

Industry Insiders Forecast 700 Percent Growth In CBD Market By 2020

According to Forbes’ 2016 analysis of a previous Hemp Business Journal report, the CBD market could top $2 billion in consumer sales by 2020. But hemp-derived CBD products represent only part of the picture; $450 million to be exact.

The forecast represents a 700 percent increase from consumer CBD sales in 2016, according to CannabisNewsWire. In 2015, the total consumer CBD market hit $202 million. Hemp-derived CBD products accounted for $90 million of that total, while marijuana-derived CBD made up the remaining $112 million.

Still, $2 billion represents only a fraction of the legal cannabis market, which many analysts expect to hit $25 billion by 2020. Medical cannabis will still maintain an edge over adult-use sales at $13.3 billion and $11.2 billion, respectively, by 2020.

But these projections only account for states that have already passed legalization measures. As more states legalize medical and adult-use cannabis, the numbers could be even greater.

Industry insiders, however, are already targeting the CBD market. They point to the hundreds of CBD products that are already flooding legal markets in the United States. According to Headset Research data, for example, residents of Washington state have access to over 800 CBD products, principally sold as health and wellness items.

Health and Wellness Will Drive CBD Market Into The Future

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Unlike THC, users consume CBD not for its euphoric or pleasurable sensations, but for its therapeutic effects.

Many significant studies have documented the medicinal properties of cannabidiol. Medical cannabis patients can use the pharmaceutical cannabinoid to treat inflammation, neurological diseases, and reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures.

Other studies attest to CBD’s effectiveness as a pain reliever, while anecdotal evidence suggests CBD oil can shrink tumors, neutralize cancer cells, and even help treat psychological issues like PTSD and anxiety.

Furthermore, medical users, who account for roughly a third of marijuana users in the U.S., are increasingly expressing interest in CBD treatments. For many, the absence of intoxicating side-effects is crucial in making a medical cannabis treatment viable.

As medical cannabis continues to be associated with health and wellness lifestyles, the popularity of CBD products has only grown.

And that’s despite the U.S. government’s ambivalent and unclear stance on the legality of CBD products. For its part, the DEA has tried to restrict the cannabinoid as a Schedule I controlled substance.

Additionally, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would have excluded hemp from the list of Controlled Substances. This means that hemp-derived CBD would become legal, while marijuana-derived cannabidiol remained illegal. Congress, however, failed to pass the act.

These legal and regulatory obstacles, however, don’t seem to be posing a significant threat to the hemp industry’s growth. To the contrary, the $3.72 trillion wellness industry’s shift toward premium cannabinoid products seems capable of overcoming any challenge.

CBD Market To Grow 700 Percent By 2020

The Hemp Business Journal will publish the full 2018 State of Hemp report shortly. But interested parties can pre-order the report now. For companies in a strategic position to take advantage of a rapidly growing CBD market, like Aurora Cannabis, Inc., the trends are encouraging.

Expect to see national CBD marketing strategies emerge, including television and social media advertisements.

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If you are anything like most entrepreneurs looking to get in on the green rush, you’ve probably been doing your research for quite some time now on the ins and outs of the cannabis industry. While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people speaking on what it takes to enter the industry and grow a successful business, it is not every day that one gets advice from a cannabis attorney on how to start a cannabis business (legally)!

For that reason, we spoke with Neil Juneja, founder and managing partner at Gleam Law Firm, a cannabis-focused firm, who works diligently to help people understand the best legal options for cannabis businesses while assisting them as they navigate the evolving industry.

(Credit: Neil Juneja)

With all of the news about difficulties and victories that entrepreneurs of color are experiencing, Juneja shares his expert advice on cannabis and the law.

What are the steps to establishing a cannabis company?

If the company is directly touching the plant, each state’s laws and regulations are different. Some states have an open application period and will provide a large number of licenses. Other states have limited the total number of licenses to single digits and require an extensive application requiring proof of large amounts of capital and competency.

How can entrepreneurs learn the cannabis laws as they seek to enter the growing industry?

The first step is to reach the state’s regulations on the matter. Subsequently, join local cannabis industry groups and speak with attorneys focusing on the local cannabis markets. There is also a Minority Cannabis Business Association.

What kind of lawyer should entrepreneurs seek when trying to establish a cannabis company?

If the state’s license number falls below the requisite number to support cannabis-focused attorneys, a business and admin attorney is best. A cannabis-focused intellectual property attorney should also be consulted. As intellectual property is federal, the intellectual property attorney can come from any state.

What are some of the opportunities and risks of entering the industry?

While most states have some form of cannabis legalization, the DEA still considers cannabis illegal. While the risk is very low, it does exist.

From a business perspective, the larger states are hyper-competitive and many of the businesses are capitalized. This can result in very thin margins.

According to a report by the New York Times, people of color are being arrested at 10 times the rate as white people. Are there ways that cannabis business owners can legally protect themselves and their customers?

As the DEA is not currently pursuing the regulated cannabis industry, the important communication bridge is with local and state authorities. As regulation increases, all sides are beginning to see the tax revenue and as a result, have been treating cannabis use in parity with alcohol use.

How can cannabis business owners make sure that their product doesn’t end up in the wrong hands?

Proper security is advised. After the sale to the consumer, unauthorized use can be mitigated utilizing child-proof packaging.

Where can people who are interested in working in the cannabis industry find jobs and what kind of background do they need to have in order to qualify?

Each state varies. For instance, all employees and contractors of cannabis companies in Hawaii must submit to an extensive background check whereas many other states have no requirement. For experience, most skills are applicable to any business and cannabis is no different. The only unique position would be the master cultivator and those trimming the flowers. The industry has need for management, HR, compliance, sales, chemists, labor, etc.

A criminal record may preclude cannabis business ownership. To counteract this, Oakland, California is providing preference and assistance to minority cannabis business owners. Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania also have equity programs currently.

To learn more about how you can enter and navigate the cannabis industry, Join us and Neil Juneja at the Entrepreneurs Summit for a timely conversation with Dasheeda “The Weed Head” Dawson, and Hope Wiseman led by Eboni K. Williams.

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