WeedWeek edition / April 29, 2019
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This week on the podcast
Lit Weed Lit, with Gary Phillips

1 CANNABIZ GETS NOTHING (YET) FOR MILLIONS SUNK ON LOBBYISTS

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In Vice, Chris Roberts reports the industry is getting nothing for the millions it has spent on lobbyists in Washington D.C. "Its big-spending approach is lining the pockets of K Street and, so far, not much else."

  • Dan Riffle, a longtime legalization activist who's now an advisor to Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said the industry is "spending millions on lobbying at the federal level, mostly on the banking issue...but the industry is paying guys who don't give a shit about this issue beyond the money, so they mostly don't do anything."
  • Drug Policy Alliance lobbyist Michael Collins: " “What wins members [of Congress] over isn’t, ‘Hey, we’re creating jobs,’ or ‘Hey, we’re creating tax revenue.’ We’re not at that level yet. What wins the day on the Democratic side is social justice, and the industry doesn't necessarily make that argument."
  • One lobbyist called the Cannabis Trade Federation, "the functional equivalent of lighting money on fire." But added the National Cannabis Roundtable, started by former Speaker of the House John Boehner(R), who's now on the board of Acreage Holdings, is even less effective.
  • Earlier this year the Cannabis Trade Federation hired veteran tobacco lobbyist Cassie Folk. Boehner has also joined the board of Reynolds American, one of the country's largest tobacco companies. Tobacco lobbyists, Roberts writes, aren't the "best look" with Democrats.

Politico says there are now five industry groups trying to change federal cannabis laws.

  • While cannabis lobbying remains tiny compared to established industries, 84 entities listed cannabis on lobbying disclosure forms including alcohol company Constellation Brands, Mastercard and the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions.
  • Cannabis Wire finds lots of big banks have an eye on the issue.

Quick Hit

  1. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said immigrants can be denied citizenship for working in the legal cannabis industry, on grounds that they may "lack good moral character." 🌴For more see WeedWeek California.
    washington pos
    t
  2. MJBiz suggests national legalization may be entering a new phase.
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2 LONGTIME DRUG WARRIOR JOE BIDEN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

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Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Former vice president and longtime senator Joe Biden entered the 2020 presidential race. Biden is among the favorites to win the Democratic nomination, but on marijuana legalization he's "basically the worst candidate in the race," says Rolling Stone.

Biden is among the few of the 20 Democratic candidates who has not endorsed legalization. During the race, observers expect Biden to soften his views on cannabis to catch up with public opinion. Even so, many on the left will want Biden to account for his many years as a leader of the war on drugs.
vox

Other 2020 candidates:

Quick Hits

  1. Under current Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), who has a warmer relationship with the industry than Hickenlooper, bills are advancing to allow social use and delivery, and to allow out of state residents to invest in Colorado cannabis companies.
    the colorado suncannabis wire
  2. Just over half of Americans think ambient pot smells are a problem.
    buzzfeed
  3. Oregon may stiffen penalties for non-compliance. Chief regulator Paul Rosenbaum said the state's "slipshod approach could put our licensees and our state at a competitive disadvantage."
    mjbiz

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3 CANOPY/ACREAGE DEAL MAKES A SPLASH

Canadian grower Canopy Growth's $3.4B deal to acquire U.S. operator Acreage Holdings upon federal legalization "shakes the foundation of what has been true," Keith Merker, the CEO of Canadian company WeedMD told Business Insider.

David Feldman, a cannabis lawyer at Duane Morris said waiting for more details about the agreement is "sort of like waiting for the Mueller report." Bloomberg scours the horizon for more cross border deals.

  • Before the deal closes, Acreage CEO Kevin Murphy said the company plans to acquire more US cannabis companies.
    bloomberg
  • In an interview, Murphy and Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton appear to say that even passage of the States Act, which would allow states to determine their own cannabis laws, would probably be enough to close the deal. A law to normalize banking might enable it as well.
  • In other Acreage news, a recent investigation by the Boston Globe found the company is one of several national companies allegedly "using onerous management contracts, financing and product purchasing agreements, shell companies, and other questionable tactics to quietly gain substantial power over numerous marijuana licenses seemingly held by independent firms," to avoid caps on retail licenses. Acreage denies any wrongdoing.
  • Massachusetts is investigating and said there could be harsh penalties such as five year industry bans, for companies which mislead regulators on their ties to national firms. 
  • Retail caps are also a focus in Pennsylvania where the state is investigating whether Arizona-based Harvest mislead regulators about the number of stores it controls. The inquiry could complicate Harvest's bid to acquire CannaPharmacy, a vertically integrated company in four northeast states. Harvest says it strives to be compliant.
    philly.com

Quick hits

  1. Three senior MedMen executives resigned as the high profile California retailer faces several law suits.
    cnbc
  2. California Delivery app Eaze crashed on 420.
    bloomberg
  3. Pax Labs confirmed it raised $420M at a $1.7B valuation. Investors included hedge fund Tiger Global ManagementTao Capital Partners and Prescott General Partners. For more see Forbes.
    techcrunch
 

4 WORKING WITH WEED? PROTECT YOUR EYES

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A new study of the Colorado cannabis industry by workers compensation consultancy Pinnacol Assurance concludes the industry is relatively safe for workers despite a few problem areas.
leafly

  • The firm noted a "concerning" number of eye injuries, particularly "foreign body to eye" impacts.
  • Other common injuries include strains, cuts and falls and slips.
  • "We see companies increasingly adding safety managers and focusing on basic ergonomic, materials handling and fall protection risk mitigation,” one of the study's authors said.
  • A different study found MED states have fewer workplace fatalities across all industries, perhaps because fewer workers are on opioids.
    business insider
  • The N.Y. Times discovers pot jobs, and notes most are low paid.
  • The industry pays better in the northeast and California.
    mjbiz

5 VIREO PATENTS WEED-LACED TOBACCO

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Minnesota MED company Vireo has secured a patent for "tobacco products infused with cannabis," which it plans to market as a safer alternative to tobacco. Don't expect to see cannabis infused cigarettes on shelves any time soon.
leafly

  • Based on available studies, Vireo claims cannabinoids "can have anti-inflammatory properties, which could help ease tobacco-related irritation of the mouth and throat." It also suggests cannabinoid infused tobacco "may also reduce cancer risks from smoking," citing studies in mice.
  • Vireo CEO Kyle Kingsley is a board certified physician.
  • Two former Vireo executives face criminal charges in Minnesota for allegedly driving $500,000 of MED oil from Minnesota to New York.
    lohud

Quick hits

  1. E-cigarette powerhouse Juul has committed to stop teen vaping, but the N.Y. Times reports its lobbying in state capitols "runs counter to that pledge."
  2. Oregon-based Phylos Biosciences has solicited strains for its Galaxy database, and now faces an uproar from growers who feel mislead about the company's intentions for their genetics.
    cannabis now
  3. wrote about cannabis addiction for the Guardian.

6 L.A. MAYOR AIMS TO SUPPORT CANNABIZ

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's (D) $10.6B budget proposal includes significant funds to crackdown on illegal cannabis businesses. In addition to funds for police overtime, it would allocate $10M to investigate unlicensed businesses.
cannabis wire

  • In the document Garcetti also pledges to create a cannabis equity program.
  • Cannabis businesses generated $40M in taxes annually for L.A., not including sales receipts.
  • The new crackdown comes after the city initiated a pesticide related lawsuit against an unlicensed business. And a city council member proposed holding unlicensed businesses responsible for the costs of shutting them down.
  • Canna Law Blog's Hilary Bricken has the gritty details on L.A.'s crucial Phase III licensing process.

An L.A. Times investigation found a pro-cannabis city councilwoman in the suburb of Lynwood has stakes in two grows and a cannabis consulting business, which had been paid almost $100,000 by Weedmaps.

Quick Hit

  1. A bill in California would encourage banks to work with cannabis companies.
    ap
  2. Cannabis Wire finds industry transparency varies widely from state to state.

7 STUDY: CANNABIS USERS COOLER WITH DRIVING HIGH

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Almost half of U.S. cannabis users think it's safe to drive high, according to a new survey of 1,200. Among all Americans, two thirds think it's unsafe to drive stoned.

Cannabis users are also much more comfortable than non-users riding in a vehicle driven by someone who is high.
buzzfeed

Quick hit

  1. A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants protections for universities studying MED.
    marijuana moment

8 IS THE INDUSTRY OVERMARKETING CBD TO WOMEN?

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Kimberly Dillon, CMO of California cannabis company Papa & Barkleyargues the industry is overmarketing CBD to women while ignoring other cannabinoids, including THC.

She writes in AdWeek:

We have a huge opportunity to speak to women who want and use cannabis. Not CBD, but cannabis. Talking about CBD seems so delicate, so feminine. We imagine the woman who, at the end of a long day, hits the bathtub with a CBD bath bomb and tags it #SelfCareSunday. I’m not saying that women don’t want that experience but a lot of women also want a joint—and they don’t need to justify it with a bathtub...This segment is becoming increasingly crowded, and many brands are overlooking the of all ages, colors and political views who want a little bit of the high.

9 LATIN AMERICAN EXPORTS TO BEGIN

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Companies in Uruguay and Colombia announced they will be the first in Latin America to export MED to Europe. Uruguay's Fotmer Life Sciences and Colombia's Clever Leaves will begin exporting flower and oil to Germany, which with 700,000 patients is the largest market in Europe.
ap

Quick hit

  1. Authorities in Brazil took a parrot into custody since it appeared to have been trained to alert its owner to police. The parrot nearly spoiled a raid of two alleged crack dealers when it shouted “Mamãe, polícia!” according to Brazilian police in the state of Piauí. The phrase means, “Mama, police!”

10 KIM KARDASHIAN ALSO LIKES CBD

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Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Kim Kardashian hosted a 'CBD baby shower' at her California home.

  • The event included a display of crystal bowls and a sound bath.
  • The event included a "bevy of goodies" (swag) from (WeedWeek patreon supporter) HelloMD.

Also, The Onion endorsed legalization:

We’ve been fighting since day one against restrictions on human freedom, and a world in which marijuana is legal is a world not far from legalizing assault or bestiality. We will break the stifling bonds of human morality once and for all.

Quick Hits

  1. Cnet found 17 of the coolest cannabis gadgets. They include the Otto, which WeedWeek readers receive for a $25/month contribution on Patreon.