Will Hemp Take Over the Plant-Based Food Market?

Meat consumption is rising globally (starting with the U.S.). The American market alone is worth about $270 billion annually, out of a market worth about $1.5 Trillion dollars globally. Unfortunately this is also a vertical which is increasingly unsustainable from the climate change perspective—forget the moral issues involved. As Mr. Rogers famously said, he could not eat anything that had a mother.

Less prosaically, cow farts are the top agricultural source of greenhouse gases. Each cow emits about 220 pounds of methane annually. As a result, reducing methane emissions via transitioning the planet to animal-protein-free alternatives is also seen as the biggest opportunity to slow global heating in a relatively short 20 years or so. Given that this single source also creates about a third of the human-caused methane emissions, this is a significant issue. Particularly as other environmental efforts to halt the impending climate emergency—such as switching to solar and other fossil fuel free energy sources—are still so politically problematic.

That is also an impactful thing to say in world now suffering from a(nother) global heatwave this summer.

In Germany, where recreational cannabis reform is now in the offing, the topic is getting serious attention. Not to mention some funding. For example, the University of Hohenheim (in Stuttgart) was given a million euro grant last year from the regional government to study how hemp could replace protein-rich foods—from schnitzel to tofu and pasta.

No matter its “crunchy” reputation, the animal-free protein sector is also a highly significant market. Forty percent of the meat substitutes currently produced globally are sold across Europe. This is one of the reasons that the E.U. has actually moved ahead fairly quickly on this aspect of cannabis reform. This market is also expected to reach about $28 billion globally by 2025. That is good news for early adopters who are making the switch to vegan alternatives for health and environmental reasons—forget the economic incentives. The more mainstream, the faster broader adoption will be. This is good news too. The more animal slaughter can be reduced, so can the breeding of animals for this purpose.

The Superfood That Is High in Protein

There are many wondrous aspects of the cannabis plant. One of them is that hemp seeds are a superfood full of vitamins and other nutrients. Beyond this, the seeds of the hemp plant can contain as much as 25% protein—making them similar to egg whites. The seeds also contain all essential amino acids and are easy to digest. The end result creates a chewy, meat-like texture that is highly satisfying to consumers.

Not every hemp variety, at least according to German research during this study so far, creates the desired results. The scientists involved in the investigation are currently growing 20 varieties of hemp in test plots.

The idea is to create an extensive supply chain throughout Europe, while also increasingly the local food self-sufficiency of Baden-Württemberg located in the south-west corner of the country and bordering France and Switzerland. It is a part of the world known for a few globally recognized symbols including the Black Forest plus the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz headquarters.

It is hard to get more German than that.

This is, however, just one example of the coming hemp-based protein-replacement craze. The entrepreneurial endeavours necessary to drive the market demand beyond the lab are by now scattered all over Europe. In Estonia, one firm has even got a rather catchy name for their product—Crump. It probably tastes like chicken, even though it is designed to be a “protein crumble” designed to replace ground beef.

Beyond Europe, the trend is clearly global. A firm called Leaft Foods based in New Zealand received $15 million in financing this spring to grow its line of products that include not only beef but other animal-based protein substitutes.

Can Cannabis Help Heal the Planet?

There is no one panacea for global warming—or environmental disasters caused by the industries of the industrial revolution and the 20th Century. However, the much-maligned cannabis plant appears to hold many of the answers. From helping detoxify areas of land blighted by gold mining to reducing the first world’s dependence on animal protein—and of course beyond this, the medical efficacy of the plant—cannabis is starting what many assume will be a global ascendency in the next decade.

It is not hard to understand why. The mandate for trying to keep a limit on global warming is evident (again) this summer—even as multiple countries struggle politically in a world with much more expensive fossil fuels. Cannabis reform is creating a different narrative around such issues—from energy to meat substitutes, beyond medicine.

One thing is for sure. If there was a plant with the power to if not heal the world but significantly fix it, it would be good ol’ Cannabis sativa.

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The (Unsurprising) Implosion of Juicy Fields

The idea was, on the surface of it all, quite original. Juicy Fields, a cannabis “investment” platform, supposedly connected micro investors with small cannabis farmers to “fund” crop cultivation that was then legitimately sold. Investors were told they could expect returns of up to 66% on their investment in just 90 days. More problematically, investors were also allowed to deposit up to 180.000 euros via bank transfer or crypto investment in the platform without going through required background checks that are standard procedure in both reputable banking and fintech apps.

Suspicious or not, for the past 18 months or so, Juicy Fields was a big thing in the Spanish speaking world (in Latin America and in Spain). The company also established itself over the last year and a half across Europe by throwing sponsorship money at respectable festivals and gatherings. They established offices in Holland and Germany.

Anyone with a banking, finance, or legal background—beyond those in the industry who know where legal cannabis comes from—were suspicious right from the start. But Juicy Fields was smart. It made its presence felt in highly effective ways, particularly in Europe, in 2021. As the world opened up after the pandemic, the chance to feel happy, party with friends, and make money was a tantalizing draw.

If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it was.

Last Monday, on July 11, remaining company workers went on strike. The company then froze cash withdrawals, preventing investors from reclaiming their money. Many had invested small amounts in the beginning and gone through a few successful rounds where they actually saw returns before committing larger sums. These funds have now disappeared, probably forever. Multiple investors reported taking out loans to fund their Juicy investments.

Company execs steadily disappeared, including scrubbing their profiles online. By Wednesday, the company’s extensive cyber network infrastructure was shut down. Videos have been removed from social media, although their tantalizing promises and headlines still remain.

The Scam

While the promotional videos have been mostly removed from the internet, Juicy’s mantra is still online. “Grow cannabis. It is profitable!” was their favorite tagline.

Becoming a potpreneur never seemed so easy.

In fact, the big Italian-Russian-Columbian “family” behind it all was only interested in one thing. Collecting investors’ cash. Juicy Fields claimed to invest in legal cannabis cultivation—although several industry watchdog groups and consultants found little evidence of the same. The company also strategically attempted to align themselves with more established and reputable firms in the industry (although at this point all have put considerable distance between themselves and Juicy Fields) to back up their claims.

The bank account of the firm was listed in Cyprus. This was no more than a “strategic decision” according to the communications director Zvevda Lauric in May, which “has nothing to do with it being a tax haven.” Lauric has also subsequently left the company.

There were lots of questions, and many rumors, but nobody seemed to have any answers.

Before the final meltdown in the middle of July, the fraud began to unravel after a luxurious, Juicy-funded splash this spring at an industry event in Barcelona. Two Lamborghinis were parked outside the lavish party with the motto “Foster the Future.” Attendees found themselves in a lavish fantasyland with good food and alcohol that flowed freely, with models dressed as blue fairies and blond, wispy hostesses decorating the background. It was certainly pretty but it did not exactly inspire confidence that all was kosher.

In Spain, the local press at least began to report that the company was violating Spanish securities law. The German financial regulator, BaFin, posted a warning on its website on March 30 that the firm had published no prospectus which is required for the sale of any kind of security. As a result, German sales were shut down.

By the end of May, the kitchen was getting unbearably hot, and CEO Alan Glanse, stepped down. In June, he began publicly blaming several Russian nationals for the mounting problems at the company and further denying any responsibility. This is a theme which others, still associated with the company at least on their website, have echoed over the past days—including claiming that they themselves were swindled.

By now, however, the house of cards on which the company built their premise has collapsed. The implosion of the scam has affected literally tens of thousands of investors in Spain, Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, France, Columbia, and the U.S.—all of whom have now had a shattering and disillusioning experience with the wild and crazy world of legalizing cannabis. According to the Spanish media, which has been increasingly covering the story, 5,000 Spaniards lost hundreds of thousands of euros in what is now being called the largest crypto scam in Spanish history.

A Lack of Accountability

With the exception of Eldiaro.es, up until this week, the cannabis press stayed silent. Nobody dared to say anything publicly. The company appeared to have too much money. Established cannabis firms, including a German distributor, announced multi-million euro deals with the company, some as late as this spring.

That, of course, is now over.

Sadly, however, the real question however, is not whether it will happen again, but when. There are many in the industry who do not want to be named who began discussing the matter privately as early as last year but were shut down by those who defended, invested in, or were sponsored by the company.

At Europe’s new “Cannabis Week” now underway in Berlin, sponsorship placards and name tags no longer bear the name of the now-defunct company, although advertising including their name is still spread all over the country.

Many are quick to say, “I told you so.”

The problem, of course, is that nobody said anything soon enough, publicly enough, and with enough authority to prevent what many are calling the first serious scam of the burgeoning and legalizing European industry.

Given what is now happening especially in Germany, the excitement over recreational cannabis reform is only beginning, along with the hype. As a result, the Juicy Fields scandal may be the first of its kind, but sadly, it won’t be the last.

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Germany’s Drug Czar to Keynote Berlin ICBC

Germany is in the midst of the most robust and complex cannabis policy and industry endeavor in the history of humankind. Policymakers and industry regulators in Germany have worked diligently since the 2021 election to craft the laws, rules and regulations that will eventually govern a national adult-use cannabis industry.

Given the size of Germany’s economy and its geographical position in the heart of the European continent, Germany’s adult-use industry will instantly become the largest on the planet once it is launched. Currently, only Canada has a nationwide adult-use cannabis industry that is open to anyone of legal age and involves products that are not just of the low-THC variety.

Legalization can never come soon enough. However, the pace at which Germany’s new coalition government has moved on the adult-use cannabis front is considerable, given that the results of the 2021 election are not even one year old. Lawmakers and regulators in Germany want to legalize cannabis in as sensible, effective and efficient of a manner as possible, and that is not an easy thing to do in a nation that is home to over 83 million people and shares nine borders with other countries.

Commissioner Burkhard Blienert

PHOTO Courtesy of ICBC

Fortunately for Germany, they have a very qualified Commissioner on Narcotic Drugs at the Federal Ministry of Health helping oversee the legalization process: Mr. Burkhard Blienert. The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) is extremely proud and honored to announce that Mr. Blienert will be the keynote speaker at ICBC’s upcoming Berlin Conference, taking place July 19-20.

Commissioner Blienert’s resume is extensive, as he has dealt intensively with questions of drug and addiction policy for roughly ten years. In the 18th electoral term (2013-2017) he was a member of the German Bundestag and represented his parliamentary group as a full member of the Health Committee, the Culture and Media Committee and the Budget Committee. Mr. Blienert was his group’s rapporteur on drug and addiction issues during this period.

Since 1990, Mr. Blienert has been a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). He has worked for the SPD party executive committee and served as policy officer of the SPD group in the Land parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, responsible for school and education, sports and petitions.

As a member of the German Bundestag, Blienert sat on the Board of Trustees of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (BpB), on the Administrative Council of the German National Library and the Hörfunkrat Deutschlandradio Broadcasting Council, as well as on the Administrative Council of the German Federal Film Board (FFA).

Currently, he is a member of the Supervisory Board of the Federal Cultural Federation, the National Society of Labour Welfare (AWO), the United Services Union, the association “Against Oblivion—For Democracy” of the German Thomas Mann Society as well as the Paderborn district council.

History in the Making

PHOTO Courtesy of ICBC

Commissioner Blienert is not new to ICBC. Last year, he participated in a truly historic panel in which, for the first time ever, representatives from every major political party in Germany took part in a cannabis-only policy discussion. The discussion was held mere weeks before the 2021 election.

Much of what was discussed at the 2021 ICBC panel has since become part of the mainstream cannabis policy conversation in Germany. The ICBC team is looking forward to continuing the cannabis conversation at this year’s B2B event in July where the schedule will once again feature several policymakers who are directly involved in the effort to legalize cannabis in Germany. Attendees can expect to receive the most up-to-date information on what’s happening in Germany directly from people involved in the process, including Germany’s current Drug Czar.

In addition to the Berlin B2B event, the International Cannabis Business Conference will also offer a one-day Global Investment Forum (GIF) on July 18. The ICBC Global Investment Forum in Berlin will feature hand-picked cannabis companies participating in a pitch session in front of top investors on the ICBC Main Stage.

A cannabis industry revolution is sweeping Europe, and Germany is at the center of it.

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Spain Approves Medical Cannabis Reform: Pharmacy Dispensation Planned for End of 2022

On Tuesday the Spanish Congress of Deputies passed medical cannabis reform. The decision to do so was based on the report of a special health commission which formally examined the issue between March and May of this year. It is also widely expected that as of June 27, the full Health Commission will formally approve the report. Then it will take another six months for the Spanish Health Agency (AEMPS) to produce guidelines for actual dispensation.

No matter the hurdles still in the way, this means that medical cannabis will be available upon prescription via Spanish hospital pharmacies by the end of 2022. According to estimates there are about 300,000 domestic patients who could immediately benefit from this change in the law even though most of them will fail to get access due to the high levels of bureaucracy that remain. Further, because only the public hospitals can prescribe, patients with private health insurance are being left out for now.

It is clear, as a result, that while positive, this is an extremely limited first step. Medical use of cannabis will only be allowed for conditions including cancer, pain, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and epilepsy. Most patients will also not be able to access flower which is still limited for “research purposes.” Dispensation of cannabinoid extracts will also occur initially only via hospital pharmacies and only specialist doctors can prescribe.

According to Carola Perez, a well-known patient advocate and president of the Spanish Observatory for Medicinal Cannabis, a group of patients, doctors and researchers dedicated to cannabis reform, medical cannabis could be available via regular pharmacies eventually. The change now pending for the end of the year still creates an onerously small window of access. “Most patients will still be forced to source their medicine via clubs, home grow and the black market,” she said. Despite the beginning of an extremely limited window of access, Perez is nonetheless happy that at least this first step has been taken. “We have been fighting for this moment for the last seven years,” she said by phone from her home in Spain. “It is also clear that we still have much to do.”

What Is Changing in Spain?

Spain has just entered the “medical cannabis club” in Europe, where patients can, theoretically at least, obtain cannabis by medical prescription via a pharmacy, with the national health system underwriting the bulk of the cost. The countries where this is possible at this point includes Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Luxembourg, and Greece. In Holland, it is legal to buy cannabis at a pharmacy, but tragically, since 2017, Dutch insurers have refused to reimburse claims. As a result, most Dutch patients must rely on their own cultivation, the black market, or the cafes. Unless Spanish medical access is considerably broadened, it is also likely that this will remain the status quo here as well.

What the formal acceptance of medical efficacy does mean unequivocally is that the currently-operating four medical cannabis cultivation companies in Spain with authority approved by AEMPS will no longer solely have to export their product but can now distribute to domestic patients. It also means that foreign medical producers can enter the Spanish medical market.

Where Does This Leave The Clubs and Recreational Reform?

It is clear that Spain is being pulled down a path that other European countries have already trodden. What is interesting about this newest (and inevitable) development is that it creates two distinct and bifurcated domestic cannabis markets—a formal medical one and a well-developed if less than legit grey one consisting of the cannabis clubs. Mostly located in Catalonia and Basque country, clubs nevertheless exist in every major city—though many have not reopened or are not operating in the same way post-COVID. In Madrid, for example, it is easier to get cannabis delivered than go to a physical club as of June.

It is also unclear what the fate of the clubs will be in this new environment. It could be that, like Holland, the Spanish authorities use this first medical opening to close down the clubs—although that is not really feasible at this juncture. More likely is the approval of a broader medical market and eventually, just as in Holland, the establishment of a formalized recreational market. Even if the first step towards the same is some kind of national cultivation plan or, as in Luxembourg and Malta, limited home grow becomes formally legitimized.

Regardless, no matter how short the step, Spain has now affirmed medical efficacy—which means that medical cannabis use is legal in every major economy within the bloc. Recreational reform in countries including Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Holland, and Switzerland also means that the entire conversation about the use of cannabinoids is now finally in full swing across Europe.

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German Government to Hold Hearings on Recreational Cannabis Reform

There is certainly something to be said about German cannabis reform that the rest of the world—and in particular, the U.S.—can learn from. The issue may have dragged excruciatingly slowly forward since 2017, but now that they have decided to actually do it, the government is moving forward quite fast to implement a new policy.

Last week, the government announced that ten new federal positions would be funded to oversee the new market. Two will be at BfArM, the medicines and medical devices agency where the current Cannabis Agency is located, and eight more will be directly under the Ministry of Health. The distinction is one of bureaucratic semantics as BfArM is an independent agency under the rubric of the health ministry. Yet this is Germany, land of bureaucratic hair splitting.

Yesterday, the Health Ministry also announced that it would start the first of five hearings today with the process lasting for the duration of June. More than 200 people are expected to take part—drawn from medical, legal, and business verticals, along with government officials and “international experts.”

The Ministry was told in a typically German and blunt fashion by the Bundestag budget committee last month that it was tasked with introduction of a bill that would be passable by the end of the year—or they would lose a million euros allocated for their PR budget.

The Impact of German Recreational Reform in Europe

While nothing is ever definite except death and taxes, it is highly likely that German recreational reform will pass by the end of this year. When the actual market starts is another question. Like Canada, or on a state level, Colorado and Washington State, sales could be delayed until the start of 2024. 

There are also other critical elements of legalization to be decided, such as decriminalization. Sales will be a large topic and range from how brick and mortar dispensaries will be set up to the ever-thorny issue of online sales. Clearing both previous convictions as well as pending legal cases is also a priority. There are about 200 criminal cases pending against legitimate CBD businesses, and over 185,000 against individuals, mostly for non-violent and personal cultivation and possession.

Beyond domestic impact—which also includes the creation of a regulatory structure for commercial cultivation, processing, packaging, and distribution beyond sales—there is another issue now front and center in this discussion and impacts the conversation across Europe. Namely where the richest country in the E.U. will source its recreational product—particularly until domestic cultivation is harvested. No matter how much new cultivation is initiated by all three medical bid winners, they will not be able to produce enough to supply the domestic market (nor should they be allowed to try). This also seems to indicate that feeder markets, including those cultivators now sourcing medical grade flower from countries including Portugal and Greece, are primed to step into the breach.

This in turn is also likely to drive further reform in most, if not all, other E.U. countries—especially those now on the brink of reform anyway. Portugal and Luxembourg have already announced progress on recreational reform since Germany announced an expedited schedule this spring. They are unlikely to be the only countries in Europe who will act. This is a valuable export crop not only for developing world countries, but many in Europe as well. Spain is one of them.

What Will Be the International Impact?

Beyond the immediate states of Europe, the impact of Germany going full Monty recreational will be massive. Its population is twice the size of Canada.

Apart from the domestic market and the inevitable topic of exports, it is also inevitable that political reform here will drive the issue in other places—starting with the U.S. (at minimum). 

If the Germans can do it, and within five years of federal reform of the medical kind (which also has not happened yet in the U.S.), there is little to hold this conversation back anywhere else.

What this also may well presage is further talks at the UN level, where reform has been punted for several years now. Removing cannabis from a Schedule I drug is now closer than it has been since before international prohibition which began to be implemented globally after WWI.

Quite ironically, the country which lost both of the global conflicts of the last century may well go down in history as the revolutionary force on the winning as well as the right side of history when it comes to cannabis.

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Death in a Cannabis Lab: Italian Prosecutors Investigate Explosion

Prosecutors in Perugia, Italy are now trying to decide how to charge both owners and managers in a horrific industrial accident that killed two people and seriously injured two others. The incident occurred when a “laboratory,” which was set up to create “Cannabis Lite” from high THC cannabis, exploded.

Beyond the strange specifics, this kind of incident is certainly an anomaly in Europe—and not just because of the existence of cannabinoids in this process, but also what the manufacturers were trying to do to it. Not to mention how.

If this case sounds like Colorado, circa 2014, you would be right. In the first summer of state legalization, the Denver Department of Environmental Health ordered a recall from a manufacturer who had made hash in their washing machine to be sold commercially and “legally.” Thankfully, nobody died, and the owners displayed an ignorance that what they were doing was against public health guidelines.

Beyond this incident however, the danger of BHO extractions are an increasing menace in U.S. states where recreational cannabis is now legal. Inexperienced operators are using butane to make hash oil—and horrific accidents and explosions are on the rise.

This case in Italy seems to be a macabre copycat spinoff. What makes this even stranger is the supposed intent of the “manufacturer.”

Criminal Liability and Intent in Italy

In this case, prosecutors are trying to determine how to charge both the managers and owners of the business. It appears that they face, at minimum, charges of gross negligence for failing to warn and train employees about the dangers of what they were doing.

They could end up being charged with either manslaughter or murder.

Here is why. Ultrasonic “washing machines” had been set up to bathe cannabis in pentane to lower the level of THC in the same and thus enable the company to sell the products as “Cannabis Lite.” Further, as described by prosecutors, the method had been both “invented” by one of the partners in the business and further was “devoid of any technical and scientific knowledge and used outside of any authorization.”

Ultrasonic washing machines are commercially available even online. They are mostly used in combination with either water or a non-flammable solvent, to clean items including jewellery, medical instruments, watches, and electronics. They can also be used to clean clothes by removing contaminants and killing bacteria.

This is hardly a process that should be utilized for cannabis destined for human consumption.

Beyond this, their tanks should never be filled with any liquid that is flammable, because it will vaporize causing explosions, fire, or, at minimum, release hazardous gases into the workspace.

Pentane, the solvent used in this case, is a chemical commonly used in the production of polystyrene foam. It is also highly flammable.

For this reason, according to the prosecutor’s office, beyond the danger posed by the “innovation,” the processing was objectively dangerous.

Further, the pentane was not being stored in accordance with regulations, nor was any machinery installed in the lab that could have ameliorated the risks involved with using the solvent for processing.

The Many Odd Circumstances

There are several bizarre aspects to this story—starting with this one: Who would take high THC cannabis and subject it to a chemical solvent and a “cleaning” machine clearly not designed for plants that will be ingested by humans? Further, who would do this to high THC cannabis when there is plenty of hemp available in the country?

Beyond these facts, it is clear that this was not an “invention” as much as an accident waiting to happen.

This tragic incident in Italy is also a warning shot across the bow to others who might be tempted to engage in similar acts of so-called innovation in the future. That said, with the advent of multi-stage recreational reform, it is almost certain that there will be more of them until the entire supply chain for cannabis flowers and the manufacturing processes used to create extracts are fully legitimized and properly overseen.

The post Death in a Cannabis Lab: Italian Prosecutors Investigate Explosion appeared first on High Times.

Death in a Cannabis Lab: Italian Prosecutors Investigate Explosion

Prosecutors in Perugia, Italy are now trying to decide how to charge both owners and managers in a horrific industrial accident that killed two people and seriously injured two others. The incident occurred when a “laboratory,” which was set up to create “Cannabis Lite” from high THC cannabis, exploded.

Beyond the strange specifics, this kind of incident is certainly an anomaly in Europe—and not just because of the existence of cannabinoids in this process, but also what the manufacturers were trying to do to it. Not to mention how.

If this case sounds like Colorado, circa 2014, you would be right. In the first summer of state legalization, the Denver Department of Environmental Health ordered a recall from a manufacturer who had made hash in their washing machine to be sold commercially and “legally.” Thankfully, nobody died, and the owners displayed an ignorance that what they were doing was against public health guidelines.

Beyond this incident however, the danger of BHO extractions are an increasing menace in U.S. states where recreational cannabis is now legal. Inexperienced operators are using butane to make hash oil—and horrific accidents and explosions are on the rise.

This case in Italy seems to be a macabre copycat spinoff. What makes this even stranger is the supposed intent of the “manufacturer.”

Criminal Liability and Intent in Italy

In this case, prosecutors are trying to determine how to charge both the managers and owners of the business. It appears that they face, at minimum, charges of gross negligence for failing to warn and train employees about the dangers of what they were doing.

They could end up being charged with either manslaughter or murder.

Here is why. Ultrasonic “washing machines” had been set up to bathe cannabis in pentane to lower the level of THC in the same and thus enable the company to sell the products as “Cannabis Lite.” Further, as described by prosecutors, the method had been both “invented” by one of the partners in the business and further was “devoid of any technical and scientific knowledge and used outside of any authorization.”

Ultrasonic washing machines are commercially available even online. They are mostly used in combination with either water or a non-flammable solvent, to clean items including jewellery, medical instruments, watches, and electronics. They can also be used to clean clothes by removing contaminants and killing bacteria.

This is hardly a process that should be utilized for cannabis destined for human consumption.

Beyond this, their tanks should never be filled with any liquid that is flammable, because it will vaporize causing explosions, fire, or, at minimum, release hazardous gases into the workspace.

Pentane, the solvent used in this case, is a chemical commonly used in the production of polystyrene foam. It is also highly flammable.

For this reason, according to the prosecutor’s office, beyond the danger posed by the “innovation,” the processing was objectively dangerous.

Further, the pentane was not being stored in accordance with regulations, nor was any machinery installed in the lab that could have ameliorated the risks involved with using the solvent for processing.

The Many Odd Circumstances

There are several bizarre aspects to this story—starting with this one: Who would take high THC cannabis and subject it to a chemical solvent and a “cleaning” machine clearly not designed for plants that will be ingested by humans? Further, who would do this to high THC cannabis when there is plenty of hemp available in the country?

Beyond these facts, it is clear that this was not an “invention” as much as an accident waiting to happen.

This tragic incident in Italy is also a warning shot across the bow to others who might be tempted to engage in similar acts of so-called innovation in the future. That said, with the advent of multi-stage recreational reform, it is almost certain that there will be more of them until the entire supply chain for cannabis flowers and the manufacturing processes used to create extracts are fully legitimized and properly overseen.

The post Death in a Cannabis Lab: Italian Prosecutors Investigate Explosion appeared first on High Times.

Europe’s First Seed Bank with Registration to Open in Copenhagen

Finding high-quality cannabis seeds in Europe is about to get easier. Franchise Global Health announced that its Danish subsidiary, Rangers Pharmaceutical, will be Europe’s first legal and registered seed bank in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to an April 28 press release.

The seed bank is home to one of the largest collections of its kind with 286 strains, including several world-class genetics and winners of 19 High Times Cannabis Cups. The company has a footprint all over the globe, including Germany, Canada, Colombia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Portugal, and Denmark.

While seed banks can be found in places such as the Netherlands and the U.K., this seed bank is licensed to store, sell, and export cannabis seeds globally under legal international trade frameworks, with permits to import and export. Rigorous adherence to good manufacturing practices (GMP) is part of the equation.

“In Europe, we abide by EU-GMP standards, which requires a rigorous approach to production of all medicines,” Franchise Global Health Executive Chairman and CEO Clifford Starke told High Times via email. “Medical cannabis is by definition a medicine and we are committed to adhering to these requirements so that patients can have the confidence that they are ingesting consistently high-quality product.”

New Frontier Data special contributor Oliver Bennett explained in an article why EU-GMP certification is critical in Europe—especially in the world of medical cannabis, in which quality control is of the utmost importance. Adhering to those good manufacturing practices is key to surviving in the regulated market.

Starke continued, “In our conversations with patients in Germany and other European countries, we became acutely aware that they are discerning and demanding, wanting quality control at all points of the journey, thereby making the procurement of high-quality genetics vital to our vertically integrated business model.” 

According to the news release, Franchise Global will set aside its most distinguished strains for its own internal flower production for global markets. In 2021 it received a third-party audited valuation of C$9.5 million.

“Our goal is to become Europe’s most trusted source of high-quality EU-GMP cannabis. This will be achieved in part by establishing our seedbank as a source for high-quality, Cannabis-Cup winning genetics,” Starke said in the announcement. “Essentially this is 30 years worth of IP from landraces all around the world with strong genetic heritage including from Thailand, Colombia, and other highly sought after sources of origin.”

Franchise Global Health gained early mover advantage in Europe after securing licenses in Germany to import and distribute cannabis, with a 90,000 square foot EU-GMP-certified processing facility. In Germany, Franchise Global also operates a 500,000 square foot reserved cultivation capacity at an EU GMP certified facility in Ontario, Canada that has delivered to Germany, as well as a 30,000 square foot EU-GMP facility.

Last May, the Danish government permanently authorized licensed companies to produce and export medical cannabis, independent of an existing pilot program, Hemp Today reported. Many Canadian-based companies have their sights set on working with operations in the country.

Meanwhile, Germany imported a record number of medical cannabis in 2020, according to a study conducted by Prohibition Partners released last year. That trend continued to show a year-on-year rise in imports, according to additional data.

Seed banks typically sell viable seeds with a high rate of germination. Seeds are typically bred to increase the likelihood of female plants, which is needed for growing flower and producing THC.

In general, cannabis seed banks store autoflowering, feminized, and normal seeds. In 2016, former High Times cultivation editor Danny Danko provided a short explanation of the difference between those three types of cannabis seeds.

Check out the Franchise Global Health website to learn about the plan for the seed bank.

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5,000 Medical Cannabis Licenses Dispensed on Island of Guernsey

The Channel Islands—British territory located between the U.K. and France—are certainly moving ahead with medical cannabis reform, and further in stark contrast to what is currently afoot on the mainlands of either the U.K. or Europe.

Both Guernsey and Jersey have proceeded with medical reform in a way unseen in the U.K.—and indeed most of the E.U. These two islands are also ahead of the Isle of Mann just off the southern coast of the U.K., which is now planning a multi-million dollar medical facility.

That is particularly true of Guernsey. Since medical cannabis was made legal in the midst of the Pandemic in 2020, 5,069 medical cannabis licenses have been handed out to patients. The vast majority of these were distributed last year. About 4,500 were granted after March 2021. Six hundred and fifty eight have been issued this year.

Beyond individual patient authorization, the government began dispensation of licenses for commercial medical cannabis cultivation in 2019. Growing on the island commenced last year in July. There are also extraction facilities located here.

The island’s authorities have also consistently backed the growth of the industry here to promote local economic development.

Recreational Cannabis in the Cards for the Channel Islands?

Set free from onerous restrictions on the British mainland, Guernsey’s government has been quick to support the continued development of the industry. Indeed, recreational reform may happen this year too. The added income is clearly seen as green manna from heaven for an island with literally acres of empty greenhouses.

On Jersey, medical cannabis cultivation is also underway, but other reform appears to be on a bit more of a cautious schedule.

Guernsey, in other words, may become the first recreational cannabis “hotspot” within the U.K. In the meantime, it is powering forward on the medical side.

The State of Reform in the United Kingdom

The success of Guernsey stands in marked contrast to the ongoing problems seen on the mainland. Medical cannabis dispensation is still in its infancy. There has been one widespread medical trial, called Project Twenty21, organized by the non-profit research organization Drug Science, which has so far registered 20,000 patients, and offers them access to discounted medical cannabis. However, a second trial, put together by a private Harley Street clinic, and focusing on chronic pain, has been put into slow mode recently.

Currently chronic pain is not recognized by British medical authorities as a condition they believe can be treated by medical cannabis. Indeed, the British government specifically ruled out eligibility for treatment for this condition as medical cannabis has been considered for other diseases. About 1 in 3 Britons suffers from chronic pain.

In stark contrast, across the Pond in North America, chronic pain is the number one health condition cited by cannabis patients as the reason for their use of the drug.

The Impact of Recreational Reform in Guernsey

Given the state of speed the island has moved into the medical discussion, it is not out of the question for Guernsey to follow Malta in becoming the second island nation in Europe to allow recreational reform.

Distanced from the more complicated discussions of their respective mainlands they belong to, island nations and territories may in fact help lead the way across the region in implementing faster cannabis reform than the regions in which they are located.

This is for several reasons starting with home rule. In fact, such islands act more like U.S. states in being able to implement local cannabis regulations independently. Beyond this, cannabis reform in particular is attractive for the potential income it promises such jurisdictions.

If Guernsey does in fact enact recreational reform this year or early next, it will certainly help to move the debate in both the U.K. and Europe by providing another island test case that can be studied by those now deferring and kicking either the medical or recreational question down the road.

The anti-reform voices currently slowing down both medical and recreational reform are quick to quote outdated data. By having self-contained trials on the islands of Malta and Guernsey (beyond the trial now pending in Switzerland for later this year), the entire discussion moves beyond the theoretical into live trials. This is promising for reform generally, as the real impact on both economies and people can be studied within a European setting.

In the meantime, the best place to be a cannabis patient in the U.K. right now is the island of Guernsey.

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