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U.S. House Votes to Protect State-Legal Cannabis

In a historic bipartisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to protect state legal marijuana businesses by a 267-165 margin. While the measure reportedly has support from President Trump, it's not clear whether it can pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Even if it doesn't, Canna Law Blog describes the risk to REC businesses as "relatively marginal."

  • The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment previously offered similar protections to MED only.
  • Amendments protecting tribal cannabis programs and VA doctors who prescribe MED also passed in the lower chamber.
  • Even if the measure passes, it would only be in effect for a year.
  • Legalization supporter Rep. Earl Blumenauer said, “If we were rescheduling drugs today, cannabis probably wouldn’t be scheduled at all, and what would be Schedule I is tobacco."

Quick Hit

  1. Democratic presidential candidate and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper called for federal decriminalization and for the federal government to have a role in regulating the industry. He has said legalizing REC should be up to the states.
    C-SPAN (Around 50 minutes in)

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Beijing: U.S. Legalization Threatens China

China's drug enforcement agency called legalization in the U.S. and Canada, "a new threat to China." The deputy director of the China National Narcotics Control Commission said the number of cannabis users had grown more than 25% in 2018.

  • The estimated number of cannabis users in China is 24,000, tiny compared to the country's population of more than 1B.
  • China estimates that much of the cannabis coming into the country is mailed by students and workers living abroad.
  • Anyone found with 50g (1.75 oz) of a controlled substance in China can face the death penalty.
  • Despite China's draconian THC policy, the country is considered a "hemp superpower."
    South China Morning Post
  • Earlier this month, archaologists announced evidence of mourners using cannabis at a funeral in western China 2,500 years ago. It's said to be the oldest known example of cannabis as an intoxicant.
  • The plant evolved 28M years ago on the Tibetan plateau, according to a recent pollan study.

Industry Bigs Join "Fair Trade" Group

Major players including Canopy Growth and several global accounting firms joined a group which seeks to establish international standards for the industry in areas such as promoting responsible use, environmental protections and corporate governance.

"The hope is that this will be to cannabis what Fair Trade is to coffee," Lara Wood, chair of the Global Cannabis Partnership advisory board told Bloomberg. The story also suggests creating a set of best practices could also help attract institutional investors such as pension funds, which still largely consider cannabis a vice industry.

Rick Petersen, who wrote the standards, and previously wrote a similar document for the World Lottery Association, said the goal is to create a framework before a scandal forces the industry's hand.

  • Thus far the standards include guidelines rather than specifics; i.e. the industry will "minimize" greenhouse gas emissions, but it does not provide targets.
  • The certification process is being developed in partnership with global accountancy EY, a founding member of the group. Certification will be granted by an independent evaluation panel.
  • The group's 45 member companies include 16 "founding" members. The latter include Canadian producers Canopy and Aphria, and the accounting firm PWC.

WW Councilmembers' Favorite Markets

WeedWeek Council is a new initiative to build a community of industry leaders, and share their insights with WeedWeek's audience.

We asked councilmembers about their favorite and least favorite markets. Here are a few interesting responses.

Trista Okel, CEO, Empower Body Care (topicals):

  • "Arizona is a vibrant MED market with a large number of elders, which is one of three target demographics for us. [PLUS] Adult use regulation isn’t far off."

Cindy Orser Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, at testing company Digipath says Arizona doesn't have the water to grow cannabis and should be the first state to import product from Oregon. (Oregon has voted to allow cannabis exports, though they're likely years off.)

Orser is also bullish on Colombia:

  • "[It offers the ] chance to conserve limited fresh water resources in North America and dramatically reduce the global cannabis carbon footprint...In Colombia cannabis is grown outdoors where plants belong, and at a fraction of the cost."

A councilmember who wishes to remain anonymous writes:

  • Simply put, Canada blew it. Canada managed to overcomplicate cannabis to the point where it's almost impossible to do business there. It seems like none of the people in charge of these Canadian LPs even know what cannabis is, how it's grown, or how it's consumed.

WeedWeek Council is supported by our partner, market research firm SoapBox Sample.


REC Falls Short in N.Y., And More Northeast News

N.Y., stands for Not Yet

Despite a last minute push, New York lawmakers failed to legalize REC in the last days of the legislative session. They did expand decriminalization in the state, though the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance had some harsh criticism of the new law.

Quick Hits

  1. Illinois REC sales begin January 1.
    Chicago Tribune
  2. In a win for cannabis businesses, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a key license deadline. 🌴WeedWeek California has more.
    L.A. Time

Seeing Green: Canada's Edibles Misfire

🍁WW Canada has been all over the country's new rules for edibles and manufactured products.

In this week's Seeing Green column, I argue the regulations are deeply flawed.


MJ Freeway Goes Public on NASDAQ

Getty Images

After renaming itself Akerna, the compliance software company better known as MJ Freeway debuted on the NASDAQ.

Since its founding in 2010, the company has suffered several public security breaches before this recent success. CEO Jessica Billingsley said Akerna will use the proceeds to pursue an aggressive acquisition strategy.
Investor's Business Daily, Forbes

  • Shares debuted around $10 then soared to $65 before closing the week at $27.05.
  • Its backers include early Facebook investor Roger McNamee.

Quick Hits

  1. Shareholders of MSO Acreage Holdings voted to be acquired by Canadian producer Canopy Growth.
  2. Video content company Green Flower Media raised a $20M Series C from Tuatara Capital, Poseidon Asset Management and Phyto Partners. Business Insider got a look at the Green Flower's pitch deck.
  3. High Times is being sued over its not yet complete acquisition of lifestyle magazine Culture. The seller claims High Times still owes it up to $4M.

Studies Disagree on Youth Living Near Dispensaries

Three new studies reached somewhat contradictory results on how living near dispensaries affects youth cannabis use in Los Angeles County.
Marijuana Moment

  • One study found that of 57 cities in the county, those which banned dispensaries did not see lower levels of student use.
  • A second study found 84% of people aged 18-22 in L.A. County lived within four miles of at least 10 cannabis storefronts. It concluded individuals living near more dispensaries consumed more marijuana.
  • A third study found dispensary density did not affect use by young people.

Quick Hits

  1. MJBiz explains why no one is happy with the L.A. market.
  2. #weedwise, a new California PSA campaign, encourages customers to shop at licensed dispensaries.
    CBS (L.A.)
  3. 🌴WW California has the story on psychedelics legalization in Oakland.
  4. A study found cannabis use more than doubled among U.S. pregnant women between 2002 and 2017, with use most common in the first trimester. The affects of cannabis use on pregnancy are not well understood, but doctors warn it could stunt brain development.
    National Institute on Drug Abuse
  5. A U.S. House committee asked e-cigarette player JUUL for documents on any partnerships it may have with cannabis companies. The request named Canadian company Cronos Group, in which tobacco giant Altria (Philip Morris) has invested.
    Marijuana Moment

Killer Mike: Credit Rappers for Legalization

Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

In a forum sponsored by the Washington Post, Killer Mike said rappers deserve much of the credit for legalization. 🌴WeedWeek California has more.

  • "We know that with national decriminalization of marijuana now, a lot of people are going to get credit for it—a lot of activists, a lot of workers," the Run the Jewels star said. "But I can show you a line that leads straight back to Cypress Hill, that leads straight back to Snoop Dogg, that leads straight back to people like Rick James."

Cannabis PRIDE

As many have pointed out, the history of legalization is deeply entwined with the movement for LGBTQ rights.
Washington Blade

Weedmaps has a roundtable discussion on queerness in the cannabis industry.

Quick Hit

  1. Teacher and scholar Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck received her doctorate after writing a dissertation on unusual names.
    Washington Post

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