Cannabis and Mental Health: Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a significant global issue. In 2017, 19.7 million Americans ranging from age 12 and up suffered from SUD. Of them, 74% struggled with alcohol use disorder, while 38% of addictions related to illicit drugs. In the same period, one in eight were addicted to both substances. 

SUD affects both your mind and body, impacting daily life until you are unable to perform everyday functions. A person suffering from substance use disorder often cannot control their consumption, leading to ingesting excessive levels. Depending on the substance, such activity can lead to a person overdosing, resulting in thousands of deaths each year. 

Since 2000, the U.S. has seen its overdose death rates increase to alarming numbers. Prescription opioid addiction caused just over 17,000 deaths in 2017. Heroin deaths exceeded 15,000 during the same period. Cocaine killed nearly 14,000, while antidepressants resulted in the loss of roughly 5,200 lives. 

A person can become addicted to a variety of substances, including hard drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. One’s environment and genetics can lead to the development of SUD. Risk factors include a family’s history of addiction or a lack of involvement in a person’s life. Peer pressure is a common cause, especially when coupled with starting at an early age. 

In other cases, the person with substance use disorder is introduced to drugs through medical treatment. Often, this form of addiction begins when a person is prescribed opioid medication after an injury or surgery. Once the prescription ends, their addiction lives on and manifests over time. In turn, numerous lives have succumbed to SUD just for seeking treatment to common pains. 

Mental health disorders can also affect the likelihood of an addiction developing. Those with ADHD, depression, and PTSD may face a higher risk as substances are often used by patients to cope with painful thoughts and feelings. There exists a high comorbidity, or the presence of two diseases in a patient, between substance use disorder and other mental illnesses. That said, one cannot be considered the cause for the other. At this point, it is still uncertain to what degree of influence each has on the other’s development. 

A cannabis dependence is a reality for some consumers. Those suffering from cannabis use disorder may experience irritability, sleep issues, and physical discomfort, among minor-to-moderate other effects. 

A 2015 study cited by the National Institute for Drug Abuse found that 30% of cannabis consumers may have some degree of cannabis use disorder (CUD). 

Can You Treat Substance Use Disorder With Cannabis?

While cannabis dependence is a concern for some, the topic of marijuana as a possible aid in treating substance abuse has circulated for years. However, it needs to be made clear that cannabis is not seen as a cure for any form of substance abuse. Instead, some believe that cannabis can serve as a means of harm reduction, or any type of policy, program, or practice aimed at reducing the effects of substance abuse. 

“Here we need to make a clear distinction: harm reduction does not equate with recovery,” stated DeAnna Jordan Crosby, AMFT, LAADC, Psy.D. Student, and clinical director of New Method Wellness in California.

The past decade has begun to answer if cannabis fits as a harm reduction tool. A 2010 exploratory study found that marijuana appeared consistent with other drug treatment forms. Researchers noted its possible efficacy, stating that “[cannabis] may not adversely affect positive treatment outcomes,” while calling for extensive sampling in future research. 

Substituting cannabis for alcohol had been studied in recent years. A 2014 review of literature found that “no clear pattern of outcomes” could be determined. While not writing off the practice, researchers stated, “Most importantly, the recommendation to prescribe alcohol-dependent individuals cannabis to help reduce drinking is premature.”

Analysis conducted in the earlier part of the decade appeared to suggest, in large part, that using cannabis as harm reduction proved uncertain and inconsistent. However, select results in recent years may have provided further insight. 

A 2016 review from the University of British Columbia acknowledged the potential of cannabis in harm reduction. “In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points,” wrote associate professor of psychology Zach Walsh.  

Noting the lack of clear guidance for mental health professionals, Walsh suggested that abstinence doesn’t seem feasible in today’s world. “Knowing how to consider cannabis in the treatment equation will become a necessity,” Walsh wrote of future guidance in the field. 

More recently, a 2018 study did not confirm marijuana’s role in aiding those with SUD but did note the compelling nature of its findings and the “relative safety profile” of cannabis in justifying additional research.

Matthew Ratz, M.Ed., CPRS, RPS Matthew Ratz, M.Ed., CPRS, RPS is the executive director of On Our Own, a wellness and recovery center in Maryland. Ratz, who uses medical cannabis to ease his own anxiety and inflammation, is torn on cannabis as a harm reduction tool. 

The Peer Support Specialist said that he supports the multiple routes to recovery approach. “The multiple pathways paradigm states that anything that helps should be used to help. So, if pot can be used safely, great,” Ratz explained. However, he cautioned that people with addictive tendencies must exercise additional caution when around psychoactive substances.  

New Method Wellness’ Crosby, a recovering addict herself, voiced concerns about cross-addiction and how marijuana can exacerbate a person’s condition. “I have personally seen many people come into treatment for a substance use disorder and have the idea that they can compartmentalize the use of cannabis, and very few succeed in doing so for any length of time,” relayed Crosby. 

Crosby believes that abstinence-based recovery programs are the way to go. She thinks that harm reduction does not solve the core problem, calling it “a bandage on a bullet hole.” 

While some promise appears to exist, the evidence is far from conclusive. Each case is different, and no guarantees can be made from anecdotal or lab reports at this time. Those considering cannabis as a method of harm reduction are strongly advised to consult with a medical professional and/or addiction specialist before doing so.

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Tech Companies Launch First All-Digital Payment Platform for Cannabis

Finance is one of the longest-standing challenges facing the cannabis industry. More specifically, mainstream financial institutions, including banks and credit companies, typically are hesitant to get involved with cannabis because it remains illegal at the federal level.

Without access to normal financial tools, much of the cannabis industry is forced to rely heavily on cash. And that leads to all sorts of other problems. Specifically, slower payments, heightened security concerns, and more.

Ultimately, this lack of access to financial services impacts the entire industry, from the backend supply chain to the end consumer.

But now, two tech companies have teamed up to launch a brand new platform that they say could revolutionize how the cannabis industry handles its finances.

Wayv, which has already rolled out an Amazon-like platform to facilitate the movement of products throughout the entire cannabis supply chain, has teamed up with Hypur. Together, they are launching a new platform called Wayv Payments, which goes live today.

Wayv Payments Aims to Revolutionize Cannabis Finance

Wayv and Hypur describe the new Payments platform as giving cannabis companies “credit card like” transactions. Essentially, brands can extend a line of credit to retailers, which Wayv auto debits on the due date.

At the same time, the Wayv Payments dashboard lets brands easily keep track of payments coming in and going out, due dates, and more. Additionally, it automatically calculates taxes and fess.

Importantly, the entire platform is focused on ensuring compliance every step of the way. In fact, compliance is fundamentally baked into all aspects of the Payments platform.

This level of compliance and transparency makes it possible for cannabis companies to transact digital payments like any other business.

“We integrate compliance into each of our solutions to where you can’t actually make a non-compliant action in any of these tools,” Keith McCarty, CEO of Wayv, told High Times. “This creates a huge comfort level for banks to support this and get on board with it.”

Ultimately, Wayv Payments gives the entire cannabis supply chain access to fast digital payments, just like any other industry. And this, Wayv and Hypur believe, has the ability to fundamentally change how the industry works.

“This is arguably the largest issue within the supply chain right now,” McCarty told High Times. “And at the end of the day, it has effects on consumers. If brands can’t get enough money flow coming back down they can’t reinvest in raw materials and infrastructure to keep up with demand.”

The Final Piece in the Puzzle

Wayv Payments is not the first product from Wayv. In fact, McCarty told High Times that this newest platform is the final piece in a much more comprehensive suite of solutions for the cannabis industry.

Earlier this year, Wayv launched its Dynamic Distribution platform. This technology transformed the cannabis supply chain into an Amazon-like, streamlined process.

Specifically, it facilitates orders between cannabis retailers and brands. Retailers can shop brands, select products, and place orders from an easy-to-use interface.

From there, products are shipped on a standard next-day turnaround using Wayv’s specialized logistics protocols.

McCarty said today’s rollout of Wayv Payments completes the circuit. Now, Wayv has a suite of technological solutions for moving products and money more efficiently than ever before.

For now, Wayv services are only available in California. But the company has built its technology for scalability. This could allow the company to roll out in other markets in the future.

“We are a turnkey solutions platform purposely built for the cannabis industry,” McCarty told High Times. “Our solutions are built by cannabis experts with extensive background in cannabis. With built-in compliance, we’re offering solutions for the things that are really critical to run a cannabis business.”

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Canadians have spent $908 million at recreational cannabis stores since legalization, StatCan

OTTAWA — Canadians spent about $908 million on non-medical cannabis in the first year since legalization, but online sales dropped as more brick-and-mortar locations opened, said Statistics Canada. The agency says Canadians spent $24 per capita at cannabis stores from Oct. 17, 2018, when cannabis was legalized, to the end of September 2019. Canada legalized cannabis on […]

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GOP Shows Support For Legalizing Medical Cannabis In Wisconsin

For more than a decade, the Wisconsin Legislature has been where marijuana reform bills go to die. But a new bill to legalize some forms of medical marijuana, introduced by a pair of Republican lawmakers instead of the usual cohort of Democrats, may fare differently. At the very least, the new medical marijuana proposal may mean that the Wisconsin GOP’s brick-wall opposition to marijuana legalization is beginning to crack.

GOP Lawmakers Hope to Begin Hearings on Medical Cannabis Bill Next Month

In Wisconsin, public support for medical marijuana legalization is significant. At 83 percent, according to an April poll conducted by Marquette University Law School, more people back medical cannabis than ever before. Support for full legalization has even tipped the scales into the majority, at 59 percent according to the same poll.

But neither strong public support nor Democrats’ persistent efforts have been able to budge Republican lawmakers on the issue of marijuana reform. The GOP in Wisconsin won’t even get behind decriminalization efforts.

But in a region that has moved decisively into the legal cannabis industry, with neighboring states Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois having legalized medical cannabis and Michigan and Illinois recent legalization recreational cannabis, attitudes may be shifting among some GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin.

But certainly not all GOP lawmakers. As recently as September this year, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald dismissed the idea that a legalization bill would pass the GOP-controlled Senate. “Everyone knows that medical marijuana leads to legalized marijuana,” Fitzgerald said.

Indeed, the Senate GOP have prevented progress on both Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ medical cannabis proposal from earlier this year and a bill introduced in October by 36 Democrats (and one Republican). “It’s time for Wisconsin to do the right thing and allow doctors to prescribe medication that’s best (for) their patient and their families,” Gov. Evers wrote in a tweet supporting the bill.

New Medical Cannabis Bill Is First-Ever Introduced by Wisconsin Republicans

Rep. Mary Felzkowski and Sen. Kathy Bernier are the two GOP lawmakers sponsoring a new bill to legalize medical cannabis. In fact, their proposal marks the first time Wisconsin Republicans have introduced legislation to legalize cannabis.

Rep. Felzkowski and Sen. Bernier know they have public support for their proposal. In addition to polls, the GOP lawmakers point to non-binding support votes held in communities across Wisconsin. The people want to have the conversation, and Felzkowski and Bernier hope to get it started. “We can and must find a way to make this work in Wisconsin,” Bernier said.

Still, the pair aren’t counting on party affiliation to overcome opposition from their GOP colleagues. But their bill does signal that a fissure may be opening within the state’s Republican party on the issue of marijuana.

The 45-page text of the bill lays out a plan to establish a Medical Marijuana Regulatory Commission to oversee licensing and registering patients and caregivers. It also sets a tax rate of 10 percent on wholesale medical cannabis, revises criminal provisions for medical marijuana production, sale, use and possession.

But the bill also bears the marks of GOP-friendly restrictions that have failed in other states. For example, Felzkowski and Bernier’s bill would prohibit smokable forms of medical cannabis and prevent anyone with a prior marijuana-related conviction from being able to register as a caregiver. Furthermore, the bill fails to specify protections for employees who register as medical cannabis patients or seek worker’s compensation or unemployment insurance.

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Oklahoma Law Would Fast-Track Medical Marijuana Licenses For Terminally Ill Patients

An Oklahoma lawmaker is proposing a new law that would expedite the process for terminally ill patients to obtain a license to use medical marijuana. Under a bill introduced by Republican state Sen. Rob Standridge of Norman, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would have up to five days to issue medical marijuana identification cards to qualified terminally ill patients.

“I find the areas in which we can really help people with the medical marijuana, and one of those is end of life,” said Standridge.

He said that he believed shortening the time that terminally ill patients waited to receive their identification cards would allow for the more effective use of medical marijuana.

“I’m going to run legislation or have legislation geared up for those that are terminally ill,” he said. “Hospice and those types of scenarios — they can get it expedited.”

Under current state law, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has up to 14 days to process patient applications for a license. The agency has said that applications are now being processed in an average of about nine days.

“If somebody has six weeks or a few months to live, certainly we ought to get them relief faster,” said Standridge. “I’d like them to get it within five days.”

The senator added that he had not yet determined what documentation would be necessary for patients to qualify for the expedited processing, adding that he would probably leave the details of the plan up to state regulators.

“I would envision requiring that doctor must sign off that this is end of life,” he said.

More Than Five Percent of Oklahomans Are MMJ Patients

Since Oklahoma voters approved the medicinal use of cannabis with the passage of State Question 788 last year, more than 210,000 state residents have been issued medical marijuana identification cards. That figure represents more than five percent of Oklahoma’s population, the highest rate of registered patients in the nation.

To serve all of those patients, a burgeoning medical marijuana industry has exploded into existence. With no caps on licenses in State Question 788 and low barriers to entry, thousands of licenses for medical marijuana producers and dispensaries have already been issued by state regulators. As of the middle of November, the state had issued licenses to 4,931 growers, 1,415 cannabis processors, and 2,168 dispensaries.

According to data from the Oklahoma Tax Commission, sales of medical marijuana during the first ten months of 2019 totaled $258 million. At that pace, sales will top $350 for the full year.

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California Could Declare THC A Risk For Pregnant Individuals

LOS ANGELES (AP) — More than three years after California voters broadly legalized marijuana, a state panel is considering if its potent, high-inducing chemical — THC — should be declared a risk to pregnant women and require warnings.

Studies have indicated that a rising
number of mothers-to-be have turned to marijuana products for relief
from morning sickness and headaches, though it’s effectiveness has not
been backed by science.

Cannabis industry officials say too
little sound research is available on THC to support such a move and
warn that it could make marijuana companies a target for lawsuits with
unverified claims of injuries from pot use during pregnancy.

“That seems like an open-ended checkbook. How do we defend ourselves?” said Los Angeles dispensary owner Jerred Kiloh, who heads the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry group.

Lawyers looking for a quick buck will say “give us $10,000 or we are going to take you into a long court case,” he added.

The
California Cannabis Industry Association echoed that fear, noting that
pot’s standing as an illegal drug at the federal level has choked off
research by government agencies. Those studies are needed to determine
if THC poses health risks for pregnant women.

“Good policy and consumer protections are based on facts and data,” spokesman Josh Drayton said.

The
meeting Wednesday of the obscure state Developmental and Reproductive
Toxicant Identification Committee in Sacramento will focus on whether
THC causes “reproductive toxicity.” The panel is made up of scientists
appointed by the governor.

An affirmative finding would make THC
one of hundreds of chemicals judged to cause cancer or birth defects
that the state requires to carry warning labels, such as arsenic and
lead.

The review is being carried out under the umbrella of the
Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known as
Proposition 65. It requires warning labels for chemicals judged as
dangerous and allows residents, advocacy groups and attorneys to sue on
behalf of the state and collect a portion of civil penalties for failure
to provide warnings.

The 1986 law has been credited with weeding
out cancer-causing chemicals from products but also faulted for setting
the stage for legal shakedowns.

Since 2009, the state has listed marijuana smoke as being known to cause cancer, similar to tobacco smoke.

“The
expansion of Proposition 65 as it relates to cannabis is premature and
lacks both the facts and the data that would justify this move,” Drayton
said.

The U.S. surgeon general warned in August that smoking
marijuana is dangerous for pregnant women and their developing babies.
Mainstream medicine advises against pot use in pregnancy because of
studies suggesting it might cause premature birth, low birth weight or
other health problems, but many of those studies were in animals or had
findings that were open to dispute.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is paying for several studies on marijuana use during pregnancy.

If
the California panel declares pot a risk for pregnant women, it’s not
clear what the immediate impact would be on the state’s legal pot
industry.

Presumably, packaging would need to be changed over
time to carry warning labels for pregnant women. But such requirements
would likely take additional steps by agencies that oversee marijuana
regulation and packaging.

Even products containing CBD, a trendy ingredient extracted from marijuana or hemp, can contain trace amounts of THC.

By Michael R. Blood

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Florida Department of Health Challenges Medical Cannabis Ruling

A Tampa-based company is challenging Florida’s decision to deny it a medical cannabis license, shining a light on an aspect of Florida’s medical marijuana law that critics contend unfairly precludes companies that should be able to get a license.

The company, Florigrown, had its application for a medical marijuana license rejected in 2017, not long after the constitutional amendment legalizing the treatment went in effect. The amendment legalizing medical marijuana was approved by more than 70 percent of Florida voters in 2016.

The reason why the company was stymied in its bid for a license: “vertical integration.” That’s a system established by the state’s medical marijuana law requiring operators to grow, process and sell its cannabis products.

From there, Florigrown took the matter to a county circuit court judge, who last year ordered the state to register the company as a medical marijuana business. Last year, the 1st District Court of Appeals upheld part of that order, saying that the vertical integration requirement conflicts with the inherently broad nature of the constitutional amendment.

Is the Application a Stunt?

Now, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is asking for a fresh opinion, this time from the state’s highest court. In a brief filed last week before the Florida Supreme Court, attorneys for DeSantis and the state Department of Health called Florigrown’s application for a license a “stunt.”

As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, lawyers argued that the Florida legislature acted within its rights “when it created a broad regulatory scheme to implement the amendment, including regulations for the licensing and structure of (medical marijuana treatment centers),” and that “nothing in the amendment alters the Legislature’s power to make policy decisions related to the regulatory oversight of medical marijuana in Florida.”

The lawyers furthermore said Florigrown, which is partially owned by a strip clup operator named Joe Redner, sought to register itself as a medical marijuana operator a mere two weeks after the constitutional amendment went into effect.

“The company […] is run by a web video producer and owned by Joe Redner, neither of whom are botanists, pharmacists, physicians or have any professional experience or credentials in the medical field,” the state lawyers said in the brief, as quoted by the Tampa Bay Times.

They said Florigrown’s “stunt […] makes a mockery of all legal and regulatory procedures” related to the amendment.

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Select Cannabis Brand Innovates Vape Market With Upcoming Tech

Riding the explosive popularity of vaping, cannabis concentrates have surged to the forefront of the cannabis industry. As of 2018, they have become one of the most popular cannabis products on the market—second only to flower.

That growth isn’t going to slow down any time soon. Statistics show that concentrate sales—which are driven primarily by the vaping niche—are on pace to nearly catch up with flower in the very near future. By 2020, concentrates are on pace to hit $8.4 billion while flower is expected to come in at $8.5 billion.

As vaping continues to drive the growth of concentrates, there are persistent concerns over the type of technology used in vape pens. These concerns have been highlighted this year as illegal and unsafe vape cartridges have caused a string of lung injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Even before these high-profile cases, there have been long standing problems with vape cartridges, with 90% of the products on the cannabis market containing components that irritate the user’s throat.

All of this has has highlighted how important it is for consumers to have access to safe and effective vaping products. And cannabis brand Select has stepped up to meet that need. In fact, they’ve been at it since 2015.

Select set out to create a better cartridge—one that was silica-fiber free and that included a ceramic core and organic cotton wick. Co-created by Select CEO Cameron Forni and Jupiter Research, the improved technology, called Generation 9, has now been adopted by a majority of the marketplace. 

The Generation 9 cartridge disrupted the industry, and now, Select is set to introduce another generation of innovative vape products.

The Story of Select

Select was launched in Portland, Oregon in 2015. According to the company, the goal was to create a better cannabis oil cartridge. In particular, they wanted to create a cartridge that would be safer, smoother, less harsh, and that would give consumers a better overall experience than the other devices on the market.

“Our story started when our founder identified a cleaner, safer option for vaporizer pen technology,” Jenn Wong, VP of Marketing at Select, told High Times. “We are constantly innovating for the future of the industry. All for a better cannabis experience. We promise to never stop getting better.”

Select Brand Vaporizers

Select’s line of Elite products, featuring its innovative cartridge, became the foundation of its product offerings.

The design features a ceramic core heating element. Ceramic is an inert porous material that works flawlessly to heat the oil at just the right temperature, producing large clouds of vapor without burning the oil.

Additionally, Select’s cartridges use cotton wicks that absorb oil evenly to consistently deliver smooth and flavorful clouds of vapor. While the ceramic heating element and cotton wick are at the heart of Select’s innovative design, the company also worked hard to ensure that the rest of the device was equally safe and high performing.

The base of the cartridge has air holes for better airflow when a consumer takes a hit. And the battery is automatically activated when you begin inhaling, thanks to a second series of air holes at the bottom of the pen.

Ultimately, Select believes that these design features offer consumers an innovative, better vaping experience.

More Innovation Coming Soon

Select’s focus on innovation is paying off. According to the company’s website, they were ranked #45 on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in the nation, and the company is currently the #1 selling cannabis oil brand in the U.S.

Select continues to improve upon what they have built while creating new and exciting offerings. The company is set to launch a number of new products in 2020.

First and foremost is a new iteration of its core cartridge and vape pen design. The company reports the new version will once again disrupt the vaping space, building on its original design and introducing new advancements.

Select has also begun rolling out four new cannabis tincture products as well as a new line of cannabis gummies.”Select disrupted the cartridge design, in an effort to create a better, safer product,” Wong  told High Times. “And now, there’s a new cartridge design on the horizon that’s bound to do the same again.”

Written by Nick Lindsey

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CannTrust Receives Continued Listing Notice from the NYSE

VAUGHAN, ON, Dec. 10, 2019 /CNW/ – CannTrust Holdings Inc. (“CannTrust” or the “Company”, TSX: TRST, NYSE: CTST) announced today that on December 9, 2019, the Company received written notification from the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) that CannTrust is no longer in compliance with the NYSE’s continued listing standard rules because the per […]

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Senado de Uruguay aprueba nuevo proyecto de ley para regular acceso a cannabis medicinal

Montevideo- Para poner fin al mercado irregular de cannabis, este martes 10 de diciembre se aprobó la “Ley integral para la promoción y el acceso al cannabis medicinal y terapéutico” respaldada por el IR del “Frente Amplio”.

Según Montevideo Portal , aunque existen versiones farmacéuticas estandarizadas y se pueden comprar en cualquier farmacia, el precio está fuera del alcance de la mayoría de los pacientes.

El proyecto de ley presenta nuevas pautas para las formulaciones magistrales, y con la ayuda de los médicos permitirá a los pacientes tener acceso a recetas específicas para diferentes patologías, promoviendo buenas prácticas de fabricación.

El Instituto para la Regulación y Control del Cannabis en Uruguay (IRCCA) establecerá un sistema de certificación y control de calidad, mientras que el Ministerio de Salud Pública implementará un programa de Cannabis Medicinal y Uso Terapéutico para incluir estos tratamientos dentro del Sistema Nacional Integrado de Salud.

Alejandro Zavala, diputado del Sector Ir, explicó al Portal de Montevideo que la nueva factura estructura, organiza y propone la regularización de los productos artesanales existentes para garantizar la calidad de lo que se produce dando cannabis accesible a la población a un precio razonable.

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