Legalization Push Goes National

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Sen. Kamala Harris

With Democrats controlling the House of Representatives, and Democratic presidential candidates staking out liberal positions, cannabis is more relevant in federal politics than it has been since Colorado and Washington state legalized REC on Election Day 2012.

"All the cool presidential candidates are doing it." --Tom Angell

Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) hired former marijuana lobbyist Dan Riffle as an advisor. Riffle will focus on health care and tax reform.
Marijuana Moment

A Mess in Maryland

Adam Wyman

Maryland MED regulators said the legislature would likely have to clarify whether state rules aim to prevent large, out-of-state companies from dominating the state industry. Last year the Baltimore Sun reported several large out-of-state operators were vying to enter the state market, possibly against state rules.
Baltimore Sun

  • Massachusetts-based Curaleaf offered $30M to acquire a vertically integrated Maryland company.
  • MedMen, Green Thumb Industries, and MPX have pending deals in the state.

Quick Hits

  1. A Massachusetts advisory panel recommended allowing social use and home delivery.
    Boston Globe
  2. Washington state extended the compliance deadline for its new packaging requirements until the end of 2019.
  3. In support of a MED bill, Kentucky State Senator Dan Seum (R) discussed his MED use when he had cancer.
  4. With new Gov. Ned Lamont(D) a REC supporter, Connecticut is debating political contributions from the industry.
    Hartford Courant
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Pot and Booze, Best of Frenemies

Wladislav Glad

While some industries hunker down, Wall Street's top cannabis analyst, Cowen's Vivien Azer, remains bullish on the sector. Azer expects the three pot stocks she covers -- Canadian producers Canopy and Tilray and US-based KushCo (Formerly Kush Bottles) -- to outperform in 2019.

  • Azer raised her forecast for 2030 US sales from $75 Billion to $80 Billion.
  • Financial firm Piper Jaffray initiated coverage of Aurora and Aphria stocks.
  • But Axios says the dragging stock price at Constellation Brands, a liquor company which has invested in Canadian grower Canopy Growth, could mean the cannabis hype is overheated.
  • CNN
  • Azer raised her forecast for 2030 US sales from $75 Billion to $80 Billion.
  • But Axios says the dragging stock price at Constellation Brands, a liquor company which has invested in Canadian grower Canopy Growth, could mean the cannabis hype is overheated.
  • A study by the Distilled Spirits Council, a pro-legalization alcohol trade group, found legalization has not hurt booze sales in Colorado, Washington state and Oregon, the states where REC has been legal longest.
  • Cowen's Azer says legalization most endangers low-end beer sales since lower income white men remain the largest demographic of cannabis users.

Dealflow Heats Up

Cannabis companies raised $13.8 Billion in 2018, up from $3.5 Billion in 2017, and saw M&A activity double to more than 300 deals.

Quick Hits

  1. Vaporizer company PAX Labs was miffed it couldn't demonstrate its products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
  2. One of MedMen's largest shareholders is suing the retailer, alleging self-dealing by the company's leadership. 🌴 For lots more check out WeedWeek California.
  3. Some industrial pot farms are still using "hobbyist" equipment.
    Desert Sun
  4. Westword explains how edibles prices can climb while flower prices drop. Denver grower Joshua "three a light" Haupt weighs in on how to compete as flower prices fall.
  5. To combat sexual harassment, Nevada will collect corporate policies from marijuana and gambling license holders.
    Nevada Capital News
  6. The Wall Street Journal checks out Greece's nascent MED industry.
  7. Cannabis Wire talked to Florida's new agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried, a vocal MED supporter.
  1. Ontario had a lottery to determine who can open the first 25 dispensaries in Canada's most populous province. 🍁Jesse has so much on this in WeedWeek Canada.
    CityNews (Toronto
  2. Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld is stepping down as earnings fell short of expectations and the company is beseiged by short sellers. 🍁Lots more in WeedWeek Canada.
  3. Business Insider meets some of the top lawyers in cannabis.
  4. Shoe retailer DSW will start selling CBD products.

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Health and Science

Malcolm Gladwell: Cannabis May Be Harmful

New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell asks "Is Marijuana as safe as we think?" The answer, he decides, is it's complicated:

Cannabis is not coffee. It’s somewhere [between coffee and opioids in terms of risk.] The experience of most users is relatively benign and predictable; the experience of a few, at the margins, is not. Products or behaviors that have that kind of muddled risk profile are confusing, because it is very difficult for those in the benign middle to appreciate the experiences of those at the statistical tails. Low-frequency risks also take longer and are far harder to quantify, and the lesson of “Tell Your Children” and the National Academy report is that we aren’t yet in a position to do so.

Though he admits the evidence is limited, Gladwell's piece approvingly highlights the most alarming findings from Alex Berenson's new anti-pot book "Tell Your Children,": That cannabis can cause serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia, and consequently lead to violent behavior.

According to Mother Jones, the data says weed can make schizophrenia worse, but there's less certainty about causation. New York magazine is skeptical about cannabis causing violent crime.

In the end Gladwell agrees with everyone else that more research is needed. 🌴Donnell has a harsher assessment in WeedWeek California.

And in Leafly, David Bienenstock writes, "Tell your Children' to Reject Berenson's Debunked Nonsense."

Guns and Weed: Together at Last?

Vladimir Palyanov

A federal lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania MED doctor and patient Dr. Matthew Roman challenges the ban on MED patients buying guns. Roman claims his Second Amendment rights were violated when he couldn't buy a gun at a Philadelphia area store after acknowledging his legal MED use.
Cannabis Wire

  • Roman's case appears stronger than a 2016 case challenging the ban.
  • The ban's language is found in a 2011 guidance letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
  • The suit comes as more gun-friendly states, like Oklahoma, Missouri, loosen their cannabis laws.

Quick Hit

  1. More than half of Michigan MED patients admit to driving while stoned.
Justice and the Law

Racial Disparities Persist in Arrests

While the total number of minor pot arrests has plunged in New York City, 90% of those arrested are black. In Philly it's 76%.
NY Daily News

Quick Hit

  1. The Arizona Supreme Court will hear a closely watched case on whether hash and other concentrates qualify as MED.
    Arizona Capitol Times
  2. Denver unveiled its system for clearing pot convictions.
  3. Felon disenfranchisement ended in Florida and 1.4M people gained the right to vote.
    NY Times

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Editor Note

Thank you to WeedWeek's Patreon Supporters!

Sam Cornwall
Co-Founder/Photographer, Cannabis In Color Boutique Photo Service for the Industry, providing Custom and Stock Photos. 
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Spencer Vodnoy
CEO, Critical Mind Inc. Adelanto, CA
Affiliations: CA State Bar; Board Member, Adelanto Growers Association
Critical Mind, Inc. is a Medical Cannabis Cultivation and Manufacturing Facility located in Adelanto, CA. Providing the highest quality Cannabis products. Compliance without Compromise!


Literati Goes to Pot

Jaredd Craig

LitHub goes on safari and finds unexpected joy in online strain reviews, like this one, of indica Louis XIII, from Leafly:

About five minutes later I was literally having a conversation with my cat about how jealous she had been getting of all the attention my dog was getting from the family. For a while I was almost hallucinating as I talked with inanimate objects and then saw and felt the presence of people from the future I think.

My all time favorite Leafly review begins, "Pretty hard to write this on Dream Beaver."

Quick Hits

  1. Pro golfer Scott McCarron became the first in the sport to sign an endorsement deal with a hemp oil company.

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