WeedWeek edition / June 08, 2020
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Join us for the WeedWeek News Brief, where WeedWeek journalists recap and discuss the latest news. It airs Fridays at 10 a.m. Pacific Time on our Instagram. Check out the latest episode here. (The first few minutes are a bit spotty.)

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1 AMID PROTESTS AND LOOTING, INDUSTRY SEES OPPORTUNITY

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Protestors confront police in Minneapolis. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Cannabis businesses and industry groups largely supported protestors calling for police and criminal justice reform. They do so as an apparently opportunistic wave of armed robberies has targeted pot shops and other licensed businesses.
WeedWeek

Legalization advocates quickly inserted the cause into the broader reform agenda.

🌴WeedWeek California has more.

Last year, I wrote the industry's failure to do anything about equity is its abiding shame.
WeedWeek

Quick Hit

  1. Green Entrepreneur compiled a list of 20 Black-owned cannabis businesses to support.
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3 WHAT’S BREWING AT PROVINCE BRANDS?

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Province Brands CEO Dooma Wendschuh https://www.flickr.com/photos/provincebrands

WeedWeek published my story, "What's Brewing at Province Brands?", about the much-hyped cannabis beer company:

"Before Canada legalized cannabis drinks in late 2019, [CEO Michael "Dooma" Wendschuh] said Province beers would be available once it could legally sell them. Post-legalization, [during a January presentation], he didn’t specify when they would reach shelves. The company has announced at least six product partnerships for an array of beverages. As far as I’ve been able to determine, none have gone on sale.

"...Dooma often said Province sought to “change the world,” but none of the [six] company insiders [spoken to for the story] expressed confidence he would bring its flagship beer to market. Anyone thinking of investing in the company “just needs to ask the right questions, and they will see it is all smoke and mirrors,” a former employee wrote.

Dooma did not respond to requests for comment.

Read the whole thing.

4 POWER PLAYERS: DENNIS HUNTER, FELON AND FARMER

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Photo by Jon Lohne

This week's Power Players interview is with Dennis Hunter, co-founder of California company CannaCraft, which has a stable of prominent brands. Hunter, who spent six and a half years in federal prison, recently started the Farmer and the Felon brand in partnership with Steve DeAngelo's Last Prisoner Project.

Here's Dennis on:

Whether Social Justice is good for business:

We really see [Farmer and the Felon] as, one, being a differentiation between us who have been in the industry for 30 years and a company that sees this as a way to make a quick buck. Two, we think the history is entertaining and interesting. It's also important for people to know the part that's not so pretty, that so many lives have been affected by the prohibition of cannabis.

The California market:

There’s definitely challenges. The market seems to change every three months. So there’s no shortage of obstacles and changes of strategy and things like that. But overall, we’ve been a pretty agile company.

On his transition from the illegal to legal industry:

It’s odd. It’s still hard for me to not have a little bit of PTSD from running and hiding from law enforcement. It’s much different to step out there and be completely transparent and not feel like somehow there’s going to be some negative effect for it.

Read it all.

5 HARBORSIDE FIGHTS 280E IN FEDERAL COURT

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Oakland-based dispensary Harborside is continuing to fight industry-hated tax rule 280E in federal court.

At WeedWeek, Hilary Corrigan writes:

The company appealed a 2019 U.S. Tax Court ruling that found it had underpaid its taxes by $11M between 2007 and 2012. The discrepancy relates to section 280E of the federal tax code, which denies tax deductions and credits to businesses dealing in illegal drugs...

The dispensary wants the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to rule 280E unconstitutional. “Harborside wants to be treated just like Whole Foods or Kroger,” Harborside’s attorney James Mann, a partner at Greenspoon Marder LLP said.

Failing a ruling of unconstitutional, Harborside would like the court to endorse its accounting practices. No decision is likely before 2021.

Read the story.

6 COLUMBIA CARE SUED OVER FLORIDA LICENSE

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A Florida group has sued New York-based MSO Columbia Care for "allegedly conspiring to fraudulently strip its rights," to a valuable Florida MED license.
MJBiz

  • According to plaintiff MCBD, a joint venture between MCBD and Sun Bulb received a license in 2017. MCBD claims Columbia induced Sun Bulb to breach its obligations to MCBD and transfer the license to a Columbia affiliate.
  • The suit seeks $50M and that the license transfer to Columbia be cancelled.
  • MCBD says it's in separate arbitration with Sun Bulb.
  • MJBiz couldn't reach Columbia Care for comment.

Quick Hits

  1. Pot shops look like attractive tenants for commercial landlords.
    WSJ
  2. Green Entrepreneur looks at four differences between Florida and California cannabis users.

7 CAN CANOPY RECOVER?

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A forest canopy, get it?

In an interview with Business Insider, Canopy Growth CEO David Klein said he's aggressively cutting costs. The company seeks to recover from last quarter's $1B+ loss.

  • Klein, the former CFO at U.S. liquor company Constellation Brands, a major Canopy Investor, said the Canadian giant has "missed opportunities" and needs to better understand consumers.
  • Analysts at investment bank Jefferies called that, "Probably the worst thing to hear from a market share leader...That is something that in our view should be addressed prior to legalization, not over a year into it."
  • A survey found Canopy-distributed (in Canada) Leafs by Snoop is the most recognizable cannabis brand.
    Green Market Report
  • Analysts pointed to four pot stocks they like. Canopy isn't among them. Business Insider also met the first psychedelics stock analyst, Eight Capital's Ammar Shah.

Deep Dive asked whether big alcohol and big tobacco are "bankrolling cannabis, or killing it?"

🍁WeedWeek Canada is the best way to follow Canada's pot industry.

 

8 NO EASY FIX FOR CANNABIS WITHDRAWAL

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Harvard physician and legalization activist Dr. Peter Grinspoon writes cannabis withdrawal symptoms are real, but not well understood. Neither of the common treatments -- cognitive behavioral therapy and medication -- are particularly effective.
Harvard Health Publishing

  • Per Grinspoon, a recent analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests, "Many patients using MED to 'treat' their symptoms are merely caught up in a cycle of self-treating their cannabis withdrawal. Is it possible that almost half of cannabis consumers are actually experiencing a severe cannabis withdrawal syndrome — to the point that it is successfully masquerading as medicinal use of marijuana — and they don’t know it?"
  • He finds the JAMA study "doesn't seem particularly generalizable to actual cannabis users."
  • Grinspoon concludes, "Perhaps a simpler, more colloquial definition of cannabis addiction would be more helpful...: persistent use despite negative consequences."

9 ISRAELI RESEARCHERS CONFIRM ANCIENT JUDAIC CANNABIS USE

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Israeli architects have discovered cannabis residue in a shrine dating to the eighth century BC. It represents the first proof of mind altering substances used in the ancient Jewish religion.
AP

  • The deposits come from two limestone altars unearthed decades ago at a complex about 35 miles south of Jerusalem.
  • Researchers had long struggled to determine the materials' chemical composition. One altar contained traces of THC, the other traces of frankincense.
  • The absence of cannabis pollen and seeds in the area suggests the practitioners imported it, possibly in the form of hash.

10 ALMOST HALF OF MMA FIGHTERS USE CANNABIS

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In a survey of 170 pro MMA fighters, sports site The Athletic found 45.9% of them currently use cannabis for MED or REC purposes.

  • A whopping 76.5% said they have used CBD.

Quick Hits

  1. The protests have inspired Snoop Dogg to vote for the first time. "I can't stand to see this punk in office one more year." Are you registered to vote?
    WonderWall
  2. Westword asks why so much pot-related tv is so bad?