WeedWeek edition / September 16, 2019
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1 VAPE PANIC SPREADS; INDUSTRY BLAMES PROHIBITION

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The vaping disease which has killed six and sickened hundreds continues to stump doctors. A "significant subset" of vaping fluids used by sick patients contained vitamin E acetate, a diluent sometimes found in illegal cannabis vapes. However, some of the sick patients have denied vaping THC products.
N.Y. Times

Doctors consider using vapes bought illegally to be the riskiest behavior, although they can't confirm the safety of approved products. “E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless," according to a story in the The New England Journal of Medicine. "It can expose users to substances known to have adverse health effects, including ultrafine particles, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and other harmful ingredients.”

The Oregonian interviews two pulmonologists who treated a patient who succombed to the disease. The patient was the only fatality known to have shopped at licensed dispensaries.

The backlash is on:

Cannabis industry groups consider the outbreak another reason to legalize cannabis, arguing dangerous products would be less likely in a fully regulated market. "These unfortunate illnesses and deaths are yet another terrible, and largely avoidable, consequence of failed prohibition policies,” National Cannabis Industry Association co-founder Aaron Smith tweeted.
Marijuana Moment

And in a late breaking story, an AP investigation has uncovered another contamination problem which could mean more headached for the industry. The reporter found CBD vapes and edibles spiked with dangerous (and much cheaper) synthetic cannabinoids.

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2 INTO THE VAPE UNDERGROUND

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The New York Times explores what a bust in small town Wisconsin tells us about the vape underground. Police found 98,000 empty vape cartridges and 57 mason jars of THC oil. Two brothers, 20 and 23, are in custody. They have not been connected to any patients with the disease.

  • N.Y.T.: "The operation employed at least 10 people, the police said, who were paid $20 an hour to use syringes to fill cartridges with oil. The [brothers] kept meticulous records, using timecards to note when employees worked. The cartridges were sold in packs of 100, through channels that authorities, who also seized 18 pounds of marijuana and three money-counting machines, said they did not yet fully understand."
  • “These types of operations are integral to the distribution of contaminated THC-based vape carts in the United States,” Leafly reporter David Downs told the Times.
  • While good quality THC oil can cost $8,000/kg, potentially dangerous additives cost a tiny fraction of that.
  • Some underground products are counterfeits of products legally available in Colorado and California.
  • Amazon has taken down several products which can be used to make counterfeit vapes.
    Minnesota Public Radio

New York State subpoenaed Mass Terpenes, a Massachusetts company, and two competitors saying they sell vitamin E acetate onlineRolling Stone has more.
MassLive

3 BANKING LEGISLATION GAINS MO’ IN D.C.

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Senate Banking Committee chairman Mike Crapo (R-Id.) says he wants to hold a vote on cannabis banking legislation by the end of the year. And Marijuana Moment reports cannabis banking legislation will get a full House floor vote this month.
Politico

  • The bills' specifics have not been finalized.

In California, a bill which would have given cannabis businesses access to some financial services unexpectedly died until the next legislative session. 🌴WW California has more.
Sacramento Business Journa
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Quick Hits

  1. In the Democratic primary debate, frontrunner Joe Biden reiterated his position that marijuana should remain illegal with offenses treated as misdemeanors. The other leading candidates favor legalization.
    Marijuana Moment
  2. Canna Law Blog gives Trump a D+ on cannabis policy.

4 NEVADA PUTS REGULATOR ON LEAVE AMID CORRUPTION SUIT

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Nevada has put a top cannabis regulator at the state taxation department on leave.
Las Vegas Review Journal

  • A lawsuit filed by many cannabis companies who didn't receive licenses says applicants who met with Pupo "received favorable treatment in exchange."
  • In court testimony cited in the suit, Pupo suggested companies expressed interest in hiring him though he denied interpreting the comments as formal job offers. Dangling a job offer as an attempt to influence a regulator is illegal in Nevada.
  • The lawsuit accuses the state of "rampant illegality and corruption" in its licensing process.
    Nevada Independent
  • The state has not commented on the lawsuit or Pupo's leave.

Quick Hit

  1. Massachusetts suspended all six licenses held by company Nova Farms after one of its owners was arrested on a drug charge.
    Boston Globe

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5 CANADIAN COS. HAVE FORMULAS TO PREDICT U.S. REC LEGALIZATION

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Leading Canadian pot companies Canopy Growth and Aurora have developed secret internal formulas to predict when the U.S. will legalize cannabis or at least make it "permissable" in legal states.
MarketWatch

  • The companies use the formulas to appropriately value their assets. Canopy has agreed to acquire U.S. Multi-State Operator (MSO) Acreage Holdings once it can legally do so.
  • Neither company disclosed its formula or its predictions.

Quick Hits

  1. A lawsuit filed by a rival accuses MSO Harvest of giving inaccurate information on a Pasadena, Calif. dispensary license application which was eventually approved. Harvest said it would contest the suit. 🌴WW California has more.
    Pasadena No
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  2. Canna Law Blog discusses the tough questions investors ask companies.

6 END OF THE ROAD FOR PARTY BUSES?

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Amid concerns over road safety, the California legislature passed a bill to ban cannabis use in limos and party buses. Gov. Gavin Newsom's (D) office declined to comment on whether he'd sign the bill. 🌴WW California has more.
L.A. Time
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  • With very few sanctioned areas for public consumption, in some states party buses have been tolerated as an alternative.

7 SOFTWARE START-UP DUTCHIE RAISES $15M

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"Shopify for dispensaries" start-up Dutchie raised $15M in Series A funding from backers led by Gron Ventures.
Tech Crunch

  • Dispensaries pay Dutchie a monthly subscription fee to accept and track orders from consumers.
  • It's used in 450 dispensaries across 18 states.
  • Other investors included Snoop Dogg's Casa Verde CapitalThirty Five VenturesSinai Ventures and individuals including Shutterstock CEO Jon Oringer.

8 CAN POT SECURE PATENTS?

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An interesting piece in Bloomberg looks at the struggle to lock in cannabis intellectual property:

"Where many companies tout their intellectual property but few have successfully obtained exclusive rights to their inventions. For young companies, it will be difficult to prove they were first with an invention in a sector that’s existed illegally for decades. Those companies that are granted patents could face years of lawsuits."

As with so much else in this industry, the resolution of these questions is worth billions of dollars.

9 WEED AT CRUX OF VICE CULTURE CLASH

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Vice fired two senior employees after a Vice Weed Week promotion to roll the world's heaviest joint with rapper Lil Yachty involved ordering enough weed to Vice's office qualify the media company as a distributor. The incident highlighted internal tensions about whether it wants to be taken seriously as a news outlet.

Vice has an annual Weed Week promotion. At the WeedWeek started (first) by yours truly, every week is WeedWeek. Thank you for your support.🙏🙏

10 THE BEST STRAINS FOR SEX? AN INVESTIGATION

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Liz Klinger, co-inventer of the Lioness smart vibrator, went on a quest to discover her favorite sex strain. She returns with lots of data.
Leafly