WeedWeek edition / August 30, 2020
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1 DEA RULE “THREATENS TO DESTROY” HEMP/CBD INDUSTRIES

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(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Hemp industry observers warn that the DEA's new "interim final rule" (IFR)  "threatens to destroy" the hemp and CBD industries. (Read the rule here.)
CannabisBusiness.Law

As explained by hemp attorney Rod Kight, the issue involves something called work in progress hemp extract (WIPHE). WIPHE is a substance produced during hemp processing which can contain more than the legal limit of 0.3% THC, even if the source plants did not. Though the substance never reaches consumers, the rule defines it as a schedule I controlled substance, and therefore illegal.

  • Kight also notes that the IFR threatens the legality of Delta-8 THC, an increasingly popular cannabinoid that does get people high and which can derive from federally legal hemp.
    CannabisBusiness.Law
  • The rule took effect August 21, but the public comment period is open until October 20. Comments can be made here and should reference, “RIN 1117- AB53/ Docket No. DEA-500

At Canna Law Blog, attorney Daniel Shortt writes, "I’ll let you decide whether the DEA is ignorant or nefarious, but I believe that this is an intentional move by the DEA to maintain its authority over cannabis. To be fair I also think the DEA should be disbanded so maybe I am biased."

Quick Hits

  1. Nike released a sneaker made from hemp in the U.K. and retail chain The Vitamin Shoppe is putting new emphasis on CBD products.
    Hemp Industry Daily
  2. A zoo in Poland is giving CBD to a mourning elephant.
    LiveScience
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2 HOUSE TO VOTE ON CANNABIS LEGALIZATION

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In a historic first, the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on the MORE Act, which would legalize cannabis federally. The bill's lead sponsor is vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
Politico

  • The bill would expunge some cannabis offenders' records and create funding for communities harmed by the war on drugs. It would also give broad leeway to states to legalize at their own pace and with their own laws.
  • The Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to pass the MORE Act.
  • The vote is likely in September, though the specific date has not been finalized. House members have been asked to indicate support this week.
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Joe Biden needs to evolve on cannabis legalization.
    Marijuana Moment

Quick Hit

  1. President Trump reportedly remains worried about cannabis ballot initiatives hurting him in November.
    Daily Beast

3 CURALEAF “RISES TO THE TOP”

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@curaleaf.usa

With facilities in 23 states, Massachusetts-based Curaleaf has become one of the country's leading MSOs.
MJBiz

  • "While other MSOs have scrapped acquisitions in recent months, Curaleaf has completed two big deals since February totaling more than $1 billion in value: Oregon-based Cura Partners and, most recently, Illinois-based Grassroots Cannabis."
  • WeedWeek has recently reported on several lawsuits involving Curaleaf: It has been sued for sending spam text messages. (The company declined to comment.)
  • A separate lawsuit claims Cura Partners, mislabeled the THC content of its Select Elite vape cartridges, at least some of which were purchased before the merger completed. (Cura says a similar suit was dismissed.)
  • Curaleaf's success stems in part from the backing of Russian billionaire Andrei Blokh and Boris Jordan, the firm's executive chair, an American with extensive ties to Russia.
  • Curaleaf posted Q2 revenue of $121.4M.
  • On Wall Street, there are 🔒rumors of a merger between MSOs Trulieve and Green Thumb Industries, which both posted nearly identical earnings for the same quarter.
    Barron's
  • MSO Columbia Care is closing its acquisition of venerable Colorado player The Green Solution which will make it a force in the country's second largest market.

Lawyer Robert Hoban says the falls of previous industry "titans" such as MedMen, "is not surprising, it's natural."
Forbes

4 WILDFIRES AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT FOR CALIF. GROWERS

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(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

WeedWeek business columnist Dan Mitchell discussed the many ways wildfires threaten California growers, especially outdoor NorCal growers:

Before pot became legal for California adults in January 2018, worsening wildfires had already been wreaking havoc on the industry. The past few years have been worse than ever. The worst outcome is, of course, when buildings burn down or crops are destroyed. But there are plenty of other, less obvious problems creating headaches for the industry. They include contaminated weed, the need to divert water from farms to firefighting and higher insurance costs.

“I personally would not invest in an outdoor California grow,” said Reggie Guardino, former chief science officer for Bay Area testing lab Steep Hill.

Quick Hits

  1. In the last days of the legislative session, California lawmakers were weighing significant cannabis and hemp legislation.
  2. Canna Law Blog looked at seven of California's "toughest and worst" cannabis rules.
    MJBiz

5 POWER PLAYERS: SIMPLY PURE CEO WANDA JAMES

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Since 2010, when she founded Simply Pure in Denver, Wanda James has been among the most prominent Black cannabis executives in the U.S. In this week’s Power Players interview, she discusses the state of equity in Colorado, competing with big companies and the value of speaking up on political issues.

"It’s absurd for the cannabis industry and people involved in cannabis to think that this is going to continue to be a majority white, majority male-owned industry and have that be okay."

Read the whole thing.

Quick Hit

  1. Ngaio Bealum talked to activists working to support and free cannabis prisoners.
    WeedWeek

6 THE WINDY ROAD TO LEGALIZATION

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New Cannabis Ventures' Alan Brochstein is generally optimistic about the industry's future and that of the biggest companies, but that's not the same thing as expecting federal legalization:

The prospects for federal legalization are low in our view. Instead, we hope that several policy changes that would improve the status quo, such as reforms that make it easier for companies to process transactions with traditional credit cards, access banks for mortgages or loans or list on higher exchanges, play out in the near-term. We think this is more likely with a Democrat-controlled Senate. We warn that legalization, should that play out against our expectations, could offer up some curve balls as well. For example, Joe Biden’s platform calls for federal legalization of medical cannabis, without detailing exactly what that might mean. We fear it could mean FDA involvement (think CBD) and could also change distribution from dispensaries to pharmacies potentially. We don’t anticipate Biden’s vision to play out. Instead, we believe any initial move by Congress would be to assert the rights of states to oversee their own programs and legislation similar to SAFE Banking, hopefully enhanced, that would make it safer and saner to conduct business. We would also expect to see barriers to research removed.

Quick Hit

  1. After lots of red tape, AdvisorShares is preparing to launch 🔒the first exchange-traded fund focused on the U.S. cannabis industry.
    Business Insider

7 FLORIDA ALLOWS EDIBLES, CREATES HUGE NEW MARKET

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Florida cannabis regulators suddenly legalized edibles, creating a huge new market in the MED only state.
WeedWeek

  • Many seniors prefer edibles to inhaling, and Florida has a huge senior population.
  • The Miami Herald has more.

In other state news:

Quick Hit

  1. Video training company (and WeedWeek advertiser) Green Flower Media has partnered with six universities to offer certificate programs.
    Press release

8 VETERANS LOOK TO AYAHUASCA FOR PTSD THERAPY

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Ayahuasca retreats in Central and South America are attracting American military veterans in search of PTSD therapy:
N.Y.Times

The paper reports:

“I have traveled across continents to come to the jungle to do psychedelics,” marveled [a former special forces sniper] who had steered clear from drugs his whole life. “I guess this is what might be considered a Hail Mary...”

Collectively, these centers have become an unlicensed and unregulated mental health marketplace for people searching for an alternative to antidepressants and other widely prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Read the whole thing.

Quick Hits

  1. FDA approval for MDMA as a PTSD treatment could come as early as 2022, according to advocacy group MAPS.
    Canna Law Blog
  2. A study of using psychedelics to treat "existential despair" in terminally ill patients found early results "are promising but have serious methodological limitations."
    PubMed

9 A BURGEONING MARKET FOR CANNABIS TOURISM

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Business Insider explores the 🔒burgeoning market for cannabis tourism, which could get a boost from increased interest in domestic travel.

  • While there's a lot of excitement, the pace of legalization could undermine the industry's prospects, since people might be less interested in traveling for cannabis if they can get it at home.
  • Alex Levine, an executive at Colorado's Green Dragon dispensary brand, said, "It's important that future entrepreneurs offer an experience that goes beyond cannabis...Places like Colorado will always have cannabis tourism because Colorado itself will always be a draw for tourism in general."

10 KEANU: BILL AND TED AREN’T STONERS

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With Bill and Ted Face the Music now available on video on demand, a rather shaggy Keanu Reeves made a video to get one thing straight:

"Bill and Ted are not stoners. They have a nice outlook on life, they like people..."