WeedWeek edition / May 27, 2019

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This week on the podcast
Gov. Newsom Adviser Nicole Elliott: Live from WeedWeek’s Recharge Event


Alex Wong/ Getty Images

The House Cannabis Caucus presented the first-ever cannabis industry forum within the capitol complex.
Roll Call

Top of the agenda was the SAFE Banking Act, which supporters hope to pass with a three pronged strategy:

  1. Find more GOP support in the House, which Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) thinks will help in the Senate.
  2. Appeal to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). (McConnell opposes legalization but might be sympathetic because of the hemp industry's banking problems.)
  3. Win support for hearings from the financial industry.

Optimists hope to see it passed by December 2020.

Meanwhile in Sacramento: The California state senate passed a banking bill which could step up pressure on federal lawmakers.🌴For more see WW California.

Quick Hits

  1. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) appeared to convince Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson that stringent rules for evicting drug users from federally-subsidized housing should be changed.
    Mother Jones
  2. The Veterans Cannabis Project partnered with Harley Davidson of Washington D.C. to support this weekend's Rolling Thunder rally.
    Stars and Stripes
  3. To keep cannabis businesses in the city, Oakland may lower its 10% tax on gross receipts, among the highest in California.
    East Bay Times
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The 500+ page bill which could soon legalize REC in Illinois is "tragically flawed," according to a scathing three-page memo by a lawyer and cannabis entrepreneur. State lawmakers could vote on SB. 7 this week.

  • If the bill becomes law, Illinois would be the first state to pass in-depth regulations at the same time it legalizes REC.

Jonathan Loiterman who wrote the memo is CEO of Green Star Growing (Oregon). If the bill passes, it would likely freeze his company out of the Illinois market.

Among Loiterman's criticisms:

  • The law would guarantee about 85% of the state's supply-- approx 2M square feet of canopy -- to about six large firms who received MED licenses in the 2015 pilot program.
  • The owners of those firms are not disclosed to the public.
    Chicago Tribune
  • Under the bill, Loiterman predicts tax revenues would fall below expectations and the illegal market would thrive.
  • He also expects the bill would undermine its own equity component, "Unless your definition of 'social justice' includes handing permanent dominance of a multi-billion dollar industry to a tiny group [of] Illinois' political eliite."

Quick Hit

  1. Almost three years after legalizing, Maine has a plan for REC sales.
  2. The New Yorker reports on how legalization changed Humboldt. I covered similar territory last year in this HuffPost dispatch.


Andrew Burton/Getty Images

My new column is about the industry's equity problem, which isn't going away.




On Friday, the FDA will host its long-awaited public hearing on CBD.

Last year, GW Pharmaceuticals got its CBD drug Epidiolex approved as a pharmaceutical treatment for severe pediatric seizure disorders.

CBD companies continue to struggle with accepting payments. But the processor Square is launching a test program for some CBD brands, by invite only.
The Outline, Forbes (Tom Angell)

Quick Hit

  1. A new study found CBD may reduce cravings and anxiety in heroin users.
  2. Canadian company Aurora said it has inked a multi-million dollar deal with UFC to study CBD on athlete recovery and wellness.
  3. A field test popular with police can't tell the difference between THC and CBD.
  4. The California state senate passed a bill to allow veterinarians to prescribe CBD.


A glass ceiling

Female executives are dwindling in the cannabis industry's senior ranks, as more companies hire from the mainstream economy, Lissa Harris reports for Green Entrepreneur.

  • Tahira Rehmatullah, Managing Director at Hypur Ventures: "As the market has evolved, it has shifted to look like other industries. The barriers are becoming more evident."
  • The piece focusses on Amy Margolis, a lawyer who started The Initiative, a Portland accelerator devoted to female-led businesses.
  • Margolis: “I’m less focused on the concept of creating a safe space for women than on making women as powerful as possible,”
  • Emily Paxhia of Poseidon Asset Management, emphasized the importance of women in upper management, "I think there are wins not just in having female founders but in the way we build teams."

Quick Hits

  1. Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton discussed how talks in the "marijuana ghetto" in Davos led him to acquire Acreage Holdings over two other American competitors. O, one of which was reportedly Harvest Health and Recreation🍁For more see WeedWeek Canada.
  2. Despite its partnership with Canadian MED company Tilray, the CEO of global pharmaceutical company Novartis said cannabis is not a focus area.



Facebook will maintain its ban on cannabis ads, MarketWatch reports. The internet giant considered ads for dispensaries, as well as just MED dispensaries but ultimately decided against them.

  • Among other reasons, it would be difficult to keep up with laws across different jurisdictions.
  • Current policy allows ads for CBD and smoking accessories.
  • Rebecca Brown, founder of the Crowns Agency: "The bitter pill of this decision was that Facebook could have become an opportunity that could have solved very significant impediments to [cannabis companies] becoming a Coke, a Starbucks, a Walmart.”
  • A new billboard in Times Square says, "Facebook: Stop Censoring Hemp."


No more work for you.

In a 4-3 ruling, Colorado's Supreme Court voted police need probable cause before employing pot-sniffing dogs to search for drugs.

More significantly, the unusually spirited dissent by Chief Justice Nathan B. Coats, suggests the ruling could undermine the state experiments with legal cannabis.

Coats wrote:

“I am particularly concerned that in going to such lengths to craft a rationale for imposing limitations on the use of drug detection dogs, the majority unwittingly exposes not only the marijuana initiative itself but even the state’s constitutional Bill of Rights to a much greater risk of federal preemption than would previously have been the case.”

Per the Colorado Sun:

“Preemption” is the boogeyman that has hovered over Colorado’s marijuana legalization since its inception. When state and federal law are irreconcilably in conflict with one another, federal law wins and state law gets struck down. That’s what preemption means — if it comes, it’s the end of marijuana legalization in Colorado.

In short, the ruling could disrupt the equilibrium which allows state cannabis laws to co-exist with federal prohibition.

  • Legal experts are divided on whether the ruling will have far-reaching implications.

Quick Hit

  1. Canna Law Blog says state track and trace systems are a "disaster waiting to happen" for license holders.
  2. Three pieces of cannabis legislation awaiting Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' (D)signature could make the state much more business friendlyI've explained why it matters on Twitter.
    Denver Post



Portland's Willamette Week dives into the controversy which has enveloped cannabis biotech company, Phylos and led the non-profit Open Cannabis Project to dissolve. The incident is being described as a loss of innocence for Oregon's tight knit cannabisindustry.

  • The short version: For years, Phylos solicited cannabis genetics from growers as a way to combat patent trolls. The growers now feel betrayed after video surfaced of Phylos CEO Mowgli Holmes (Ph.D telling investors the information it had collected would enable it to develop genetically superior plants.
  • "It would be impossible for anyone else to collect this dataset at this point," Holmes told the investors in February. "We are fully integrated in the cannabis industry. We have more trust in the cannabis industry than any other science company."
  • The piece determines that the information Phylos collected is not necessarily of great value. Nonetheless the incident has stirred up a great deal of bitterness.
  • Holmes says it's a misunderstanding. "People we love and support...Think we're evil all of a sudden."
  • "Is [cannabis] like every other trade?" asked Nathan Howard of East Fork Cultivars which severed its business with Phylos. "Or is this actually something special? There is a big pot of money, and some shitty decisions are being made right now about the soul of Oregon cannabis."
  • "I will never be as easily taken advantage of again by a business partner," says Jeremy Plumb, a prominent figure in Portland's industry who spoke at a WeedWeek event in February.
  • In High Times, a former Phylos employee described Phylos' "script" to growers: "We are not out to steal your work. We are here to help you protect it, to prove prior art. We're a different type of cannabis company. We fucking hate Monsanto."
  • Phylos, has raised $14M from venture capitalists, and will likely be able to survive.



The Colorado Sun asks if the state is about to "anchor a psychedelic medicine revolution."

Discover explains how scientists get their hands on illegal drugs.



For the first time, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to study MED as a pain management tool.
Washington Post

  • The research will be under the auspices of two new committees devoted to pain and mental health respectively.
  • Whether active players can use MED could be a matter of discussion when the league and union sit down to tweak their collective bargaining agreement which is set to expire next year.

Quick Hits

  1. Cyclist Floyd Landis and (��former WeedWeek podcast guest) Mike Tyson are among the 150 current and former athletes who want the World Anti Doping Agency to remove marijuana from the list of banned substances.
  1. Cannabis Now has "Coral Reefer's Guide to Cannabis Down Under."
  2. Lots of celebrities are joining the Green Rush.
    Pacific San Diego
  3. Cannabis-infused ghee.
    Atlas Obscura