WeedWeek edition / June 01, 2020
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1 BIG NAMES FEEL THE CRUNCH

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Even with North America "binging" on cannabis, some of the industries' biggest names continue to face strong headwinds.
Bloomberg

After 12 straight months of decline, the American Cannabis Operator Index climbed in April and May.
New Cannabis Ventures

Quick Hit

  1. Canadian players are pulling out of Jamaica. The decisions owe to the companies' financial woes and a lack of commitment on export permits from the Jamaican government. 🍁WW Canada is the best way to follow the Canadian cannabis world.
    Forbes
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2 GENIUS FUND WASTED $165M: SUIT

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Radio Free Europe has a fascinating story about the collapse of multi-pronged California venture Genius Fund.

The company was controlled by Dmitry Bosov, a politically-connected Russian billionaire who died in May of an apparent suicide. Weeks earlier, a California lawsuit, filed by a former employee and CEO, said Bosov lost $165M on the venture.

  • MJBiz reporter John Schroyer had never heard of anyone investing that much in a cannabis company.
  • According to the lawsuit, “GFG failed to generate any substantial revenue during virtually its entire existence and has survived only through periodic cash infusions from certain well-funded foreign Defendants. When those Defendants finally realized the enormity of GFG’s outstanding debts and financial mismanagement, they began rapidly transferring GFG’s ownership and assets to shell companies in order to evade their creditors.”

Quick Hit

  1. Green Market Report reported video content company CFN Media managed to secure a PPP loan then stiffed two longtime vendors. CFN President Frank Lane told WeedWeek the piece didn't tell both sides of the story, and the company is working to pay the vendors.

3 HELIX TCS APPEALS LABOR DISPUTE TO U.S. SUPREME COURT

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WeedWeek's Hilary Corrigan looks into Colorado supply chain and security company Helix TCS' appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. As a participant in a federally illegal industry, the company claims it's not bound by federal labor laws.

  • Former Helix security guard Robert Kenney sued the company in 2017 claiming it owed him overtime.
  • A 2019 decision on the case by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit unanimously found federally illegal businesses are not exempt from federal law.
  • Most observers doubt the high court will hear the case. If that's the outcome, litigation can proceed.
  • If the court does hear the case, observers caution it could have "drastically unintended consequences," for the cannabis industry.
    Canna Law Blog
  • Related: The U.S. Justice Department ruled bankruptcy is not an option for cannabis workers.
    WSJ 

Read the whole thing.

More from Hilary this week:

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4 FOUR BIZ CHALLENGES UNIQUE TO CANNABIS

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WeedWeek business columnist Dan Mitchell has a quick, incisive look at four business challenges only cannabis companies have to deal with:

You own a cannabis business. It’s legal. It’s also illegal. This makes your work life challenging. Your state government is all for you and your business, and the tax revenue it generates. The federal government could imprison you, your employees, even potentially your customers, since cannabis is still categorized as a Schedule 1 narcotic under federal law. (The feds also appreciate the tax revenue though.) 

...The list of complications created by this novel legal situation is long.

Read about all four.

5 CALIFORNIA ROUND-UP

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Lots going on in California this week:

🌴WW California has lots more.

And don't forget to download WeedWeek's Guide to the California Cannabis Industry.

6 POWER PLAYERS: KATIE STEM ON OREGON’S “CLEANEST POSSIBLE PRODUCT”

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This week for our Power Players interview series, I spoke to Katie Stem, CEO of Peak Extracts in Portland. We discussed the Oregon market, her science background and the climate for LGBTQ-owned companies.

Here's Katie on:

Oregon:

If you can make it an Oregon, you can make it anywhere. The regulatory environment is kind of unpredictable and ever-changing. And there's just so many people trying to do it. Plus, the population of this state is not huge.

Testing (in Oregon):

There was some serious backlash at the beginning when the new limits and new lists of forbidden pesticides came out. But now we're getting the cleanest possible product.

Being a queer cannabis entrepreneur:

We've found some allies. Cannabis on one hand is a little bit more liberal because it's fringe. On the other hand, it's extremely entrenched in male culture from its past as a criminal enterprise. That aspect of it is extremely homophobic.

Read the rest at WeedWeek.

7 RECESSION WEED IS HERE

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CNN looks at how the industry is adapting to the recession:

"Dispensaries are dishing out daily discounts and launching new sizes of products with the hopes of keeping consumers coming back.
 
"It is, in many ways, the response to the world we're living in," said Cory Rothschild, senior vice president of brand marketing at Cresco Labs, a Chicago company that recently launched cannabis products in bulk under a label called "High Supply."
 
 
Related: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) talked to Marijuana Moment about why he supports banking access.

Quick Hit

  1. Cannabiz Media has a useful primer on Instagram marketing for cannabis license holders.

8 VA POLICY FORCES VETERANS ONTO ILLEGAL MARKET

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Politico digs into the plight of disabled veterans forced to buy MED on the illegal market to maintain their health care:

“I use cannabis for PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder], anxiety, hypervigilance,” says Alex, who is being identified by a family name for privacy reasons. Alex is a Marine who deployed twice to Iraq from 2004 to 2007. He fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah, one of the fiercest battles in the Iraq War.

"...But because of federal drug laws that still consider marijuana to be as dangerous as heroin, the Department of Veterans Affairs will not prescribe marijuana to its patients, even if they are totally disabled like Alex."

9 THC FOUND IN HEAVY USERS’ SEMEN

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A small study by Harvard Medical School researchers found THC could be detected in the semen of some heavy cannabis users. It's not clear what this means in terms of pregnancy and fetal health.
Marijuana Moment

10 COMING SOON: ‘SHROOM PILLS

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Vice says that as medical use of hallucinogens gets closer, "Doctors won't be writing prescriptions for mushroom caps or stems:"

The mushrooms "aren’t expensive to produce. But researchers have to source their psilocybin from highly regulated labs because natural products vary, and researchers need consistency in chemical composition and dosage in order to do controlled studies. Clinicians need to know how much of a drug they’re giving to a patient, how long it takes to kick in, and how long it lasts; they also need to be sure their drug isn’t tainted with other chemicals. It also helps to be able to mass-produce large amounts and not be threatened by variables, like weather, that affect agricultural products.

In other cutting-edge drug news: