The Political Pot Card – Using Marijuana Legalization for Political Gain

In the United States, over 60% of the voting population is in support of full marijuana legalization; so why is it still illegal and can we expect that to change anytime soon? Does the upcoming election hold the key?

Regardless of your political leanings, I feel it’s important to take a look at both of our current candidates and learn what they’re saying about legalization, and what their history on the topic actually reflects. Normally when I see articles of this genre, they only cover one candidate’s point of view. Democrat or republican, blue or red, this side or that one.

Honestly, it feels like they’re trying to sway the readers’ votes, and I personally don’t need anyone else telling me what to think. So, here are just the straight facts – exact quotes, past records, and current information – regarding what both, Joe Biden (D) and Donald Trump (R), have to say about federal marijuana legalization in the United States.

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The upcoming election

First and foremost, I think it’s important to mention that any opinions reflected in this article are my own, however, don’t expect to read this and get any insight into mine (or CBD testers’ as a whole) political views. I’m incredibly moderate

Whether you’re ready for it or not, election day is just a short 39 days away. Despite the coronavirus chaos and social unrest currently making headlines in the United States, tens of millions of Americans plan to cast their ballots, either in person or by mail – and very much is at stake this election during which we will fill all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, a third of the Senate seats, and of course, the big chair in the Oval Office.

Over the next few years, the President (whoever it may be) will face some astronomical and unprecedented challenges to undertake, such as rising unemployment and struggling socioeconomic programs including healthcare and social security. But this year, marijuana legalization is a very polarizing issue that is already playing a huge role in the upcoming election.

Cannabis is booming. It’s one of the largest cash crops in the United States in an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people in numerous states. At the time of writing this, marijuana is illegal in the U.S., but approved for medical use in 33 states. Eleven of those states have also permitted adult-use recreational markets. Hemp (cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) is completely legal thanks to the recently revised Farm Bill of 2018.

Legalizing it federally would mean less red tape for business owners, easier access for medical patients, better pricing, and less-black market competition and related crime.

Did Your Hemp Extract Just Become Illegal?

Biden’s concerning history and current proposal

He’s come a long way, but as history shows us, there weren’t many D.C. lawmakers back in the 1980s and 1990s that were tougher on drug offences – including marijuana – than Delaware Senator Joe Biden. During the entirety of those 2 decades, Biden was a central figure in the War on Drugs, responsible for unjustly imprisoning tens of thousands of Americans, many of which were minority or low-income individuals.

Specifically, Biden introduced numerous bills with the intent to harshly penalize those convicted of producing and distributing federally prohibited, or schedule 1, narcotics. These bills called for more severe charges for first offenders and longer prison sentences. One specific piece of legislature that comes to mind is the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which sounds good but unfortunately played a key role in mass incarcerations for drug offenses, even many who were not involved in violent crimes.

Biden’s stance continued well into the modern, with him quoted making anti-cannabis comments as recently as 2010. “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalizing it,” Biden stated in an ABC News Interview. “The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug.”

However, Biden claims that his views on marijuana have changed considerable over the last 10 years. Knowing that Americans want cannabis legalized and available to them, Biden completely changed his tune come January 2019. “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalizing it. The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug,” Biden claimed.

A few months later, while speaking with New Hampshire voters in May 2019, Biden commented that, “Nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana.” He laid out a ‘plan’ for decriminalizing marijuana, if elected, and automatically expunging existing criminal records for possession by reclassifying cannabis to a Schedule II substance (it is currently a Schedule I, reserved for drugs with the highest potential for abuse and addiction).

Democratic VP candidate Kamala Harris is essentially in the exact same boat as Biden – she says she supports legalization but her record says otherwise. Harris is responsible for jailing roughly 1,500 people for marijuana violations, and as NORML executive director Erik Altieri puts it to Rolling Stone, her history on drug reform has been “problematic,” and her “record is not one anyone would qualify as progressive, particularly when it comes to marijuana.”

Trump’s confusing stance

Considering cannabis has not yet been legalized, decriminalized, or rescheduled; it’s fair to assume that Trump doesn’t support cannabis, or he just doesn’t see it as anything to prioritize. Under his watch, it remains a Schedule 1 narcotic, federally illegal with many hinderances as far as business, taxing, and healthcare go.

Trump has, on the hand, been consistent in his support for states having the right to make their own decisions regarding legalization, and very few raids of cannabis businesses have happened under his watch. In August 2019, Steven Nelson of DC Examiner asked Trump whether marijuana would be legalized under his presidency. “We’re going to see what’s going on,” Trump replied. “It’s a very big subject and right now we are allowing states to make that decision. A lot of states are making that decision, but we’re allowing states to make that decision.” A characteristically indirect response.

Taxing Cannabis – How Different Countries Collect Revenue

While those statements offer a bit of relief that, at least, things won’t get any worse – Trump’s history with cannabis reform is shoddy as well, which is particularly noticeable in the staff he choces. For example, Trump initially hired former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general. Sessions was very outspoken on the subject of marijuana – he hated it. While acting as attorney general, Sessions was actively trying to repeal numerous cannabis industry protections.

Another questionable decision came as recently as December 2019, when Trump attached a signing statement to a federal funding bill that was signed into law. Presidents typically attach signing statements to legislation that they believe could impede their executive authority. This particular signing statement, indicates that President Trump would have the “authority to uphold federal law in accordance with his constitutional responsibilities.” This would allow him to ignore previously passed government protections for medical cannabis businesses.

There has been some talk over the last few weeks of President Trump legalizing marijuana right now, via executive order. That would be historic and monumental, but let’s not be fooled into thinking this would happen because he finally is interested in what the people what. Rather, it would sweep the rug out from under his opponent’s feet, taking away one major political tool the democratic party has been using to their advantage. In an interview with former Gov. Scott Walker earlier this month, Trump nervously joked about taking the cannabis ticket away from Joe Biden by legalizing it nationwide.

And regarding VP Mike Pence, he’s pretty much anti-everything, and has always been firmly against any kind of cannabis reform. This is painfully obvious when you take a look at his home state of Indiana – one of the least progressive cannabis states in the entire country, where Pence served as governor.

Decriminalization vs Full Legalization

This is a very important distinction that needs reiterating: Legalization and decriminalization are NOT the same. Both Trump and Biden regularly use the word “decriminalization” in reference to marijuana, which is still much more prohibitive than full blown legalization.

Full legalization would remove all legal restrictions against marijuana, making it available to purchase and possess at will. It would be regulated similar to tobacco and alcohol, like it already is in many legal states. Decriminalization of cannabis would mean that people would not be prosecuted for possession under a certain amount (usually 1 or 2 ounces), but cannabis would remain illegal and penalties would be at the discretion of the local jurisdiction you’re in.

Again, Trump and Biden have both laid out plans for decriminalization, but have rarely mentioned full federal legalization of marijuana.

Cannabis Laws By State: A Quick Guide For Your Reference

Final Thoughts

In short, politicians lie and it’s difficult to know what they truly stand by. Trump has made absolutely no progress on the pot front but makes sure to mention his ‘forward-thinking’ ideas on the subject when it suits him best – and when it was politically savvy to be tough on drug crimes, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had no qualms locking up thousands of people on cannabis charges.

I can’t tell you who to vote for, and I’m certainly glad that cannabis reform is such a hot-button issue, but one of the main reasons anyone is even talking about it is because they think it will benefit them and their cause. Otherwise, it would have been legal a long time ago.

Thanks for stopping by CBDtesters.co, where we’re covering everything related to medical cannabis and legal cannabis business. Stop back frequently and subscribe to the Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter to keep yourself up-to-date.

RESOURCES:

Synthetic Cannabinoids (Are they synthetic cannabinoids safe?)
The Endocannabinoid System Explained (Why Cannabis Is Good for Our Bodies)
Everything You Need To Know About CBD Isolate (a deep look into hemp extracts)

Cannabinoids 101 – Spotlight on CBN (Cannabinol)
Your Complete Guide to EU GMP-Certified CBD Isolate and Distillate – Spotlight on the regulated EU market

Everything You Need To Know About CBG Isolate
Newest Cannabinoid Powerhouse – CBC – What Can It Do for You?
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
The Legal Landscape Of CBD Hemp Flower In Europe

The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc)
Regulators Go After Smokable Hemp Flower – What Does The Future Hold?
The Complex Issue of Marijuana and Hemp Business and Legalization On Tribal Land
Government Assistance Options for U.S. Hemp Farmers Affected By COVID-19

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Did Your Hemp Extract Just Become Illegal?

Late last week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) released their Interim Final Ruling on hemp extract that, if passed in October, will have devastating consequences for the CBD industry.

DISCLAIMER- This is my interpretation on the IFR, if it is incorrect or I missed any important update, please feel free to let me know in the comment section below

In typical government fashion, the DEA misinterpreted what was stated in the Farm Bill and ran with it, creating a new roadblock for the cannabis industry that makes no sense whatsoever. In short, the DEA ruling prohibits any hemp extract that reach 0.3% or more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at any point during the manufacturing process, by categorizing these products as Schedule 1 Narcotics. Did all hemp extract just become illegal?

At first glance, the law makes sense based on the 0.3% cutoff that, arbitrary as it may be, has been around for quite some time. However, this law doesn’t apply to just finished products. If we have a CBD oil for example, that has no THC in the final product and was extracted from legally compliant industrial hemp, it could still be illegal if at some point during the manufacturing process, the THC (temporarily) exceeded 0.3 percent.

Now it makes even less sense, doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t get much better.

What do you think? Did most hemp extract become illegal? To voice your opinion on this matter, click here.

To learn which websites still offer DELTA 8 THC products, subscribe HERE to the DELTA 8 WEEKLY newsletter!


WIPHE and Temporarily Elevated Levels of THC

When creating CBD products, even isolate, they go through a stage referred to as Work-in-Progress Hemp Extract (WIPHE), during which the concentrations of THC temporarily exceed 0.3 percent. Products in the WIPHE stage are only partially processed, and not intended for sale or consumption. Fluctuating levels of cannabinoids is just a normal part of the process and is impossible to avoid. Even during at the most basic levels of production, there will always be a point where the product has more than 0.3% THC.

It is these WIPHE products that are now banned. So, in the process of creating legal products from a legal plant, they briefly enter a stage where they are considered a Schedule 1 controlled substances, and thus are overall illegal. It was always the elephant in the room, but it’s honestly illogical to think that any of that matters, the focus should obviously be on the finished product that ends up in the consumer’s hands.

Effective Immediately – Most Delta 8 THC Is Now ILLEGAL in The United States

Dry hemp vs wet hemp

There is quite a bit of confusion whether this applies to products in the WIPHE stage or only completely finished, consumer products. According to the National Hemp Association, “this IFR only refers to consumer products to ensure that they are D9 compliant. It does not address mid-process crude or distillate which often exceeds legal THC levels. So moving/selling those materials across state lines remains ambiguous and problematic. However, while this IFR does not alleviate that concerns it also does not make it worse.”

However, lawyers from CannaBusiness Law Group say otherwise. I would like to reference the dry vs. wet hemp issue that means, this DEA IFR likely refers to crude, in-process products as well, which would make all hemp extract illegal.

“It is clear that a hemp plant (or part of a plant) with THC levels that do not exceed the statutory 0.3% concentration limit on a dry weight basis is lawful. That plant (or part of the plant) can be chopped, ground, plucked, and otherwise processed dry and remain lawful. This is because the statutory definition directly addresses hemp on a dry weight basis. The issue addressed in this letter arises when hemp is processed for its oil, which necessarily renders the hemp plant and its parts “wet”. The statute does not contemplate measuring THC levels of a wet extract. For this reason, in determining whether it is lawful to transport WIPHE we must focus both on both the language and Farm Bill’s apparent intent.”

DELTA 8 THC Products Still Available Online; Companies Suing The DEA

What does this mean and what can we do?

Honestly, it’s hard to say what it all means. If it holds up in a court of law, which I personally don’t think it will, it would be a complete and utter disaster for the CBD industry. Would all CBD products be banned? What would happen to FDA-approved drugs like Epidiolex, which use CBD in their formulations?

There are a lot of unanswered questions at the moment, but the good news is, this ruling isn’t set in stone and we have until October 20, 2020 to voice our opinions. Just CLICK HERE and following the online instructions at that site for submitting comments. To ensure proper handling of comments, you should reference “RIN 1117- AB53/ Docket No. DEA-500” on all correspondence.

In addition to potentialy making hemp extract illegal, Delta-8 products have been banned as well, and that has been challenged in court by numerous hemp companies. If you own a hemp company that will be affected by this ruling, talking to a lawyer about your options might be your best bet. CBD Flower

We will update you regularly as we get more information. To learn more about Delta-8 THC, make sure to subscribe to the Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter.

RESOURCES:

Effective Immediately – Most Delta 8 THC Is Now ILLEGAL in The United States (Understanding the latest announcement by the DEA)
DELTA 8 THC Products Still Available Online; Companies Sueing The DEA
Synthetic Cannabinoids (Are they synthetic cannabinoids safe?)
The Endocannabinoid System Explained (Why Cannabis Is Good for Our Bodies)
Everything You Need To Know About CBD Isolate (a deep look into hemp extracts)

Cannabinoids 101 – Spotlight on CBN (Cannabinol)
Your Complete Guide to EU GMP-Certified CBD Isolate and Distillate – Spotlight on the regulated EU market

Everything You Need To Know About CBG Isolate
Newest Cannabinoid Powerhouse – CBC – What Can It Do for You?
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)
DELTA 8 THC Medical Benefits (The medical background of using DELTA 8 THC products)
DELTA 8 THC Business: Risks and Rewards (Read it before opening a DELTA 8 THC business)
DELTA 8 THC Legal loophole (Explains the legal background of the DELTA-8 THC business opportunity)
DELTA 8 THC Testimonials (What people have to say about DELTA-8 THC)
DELTA 8 THC Legal Paper
DELTA 8 THC Newsletter (The DELTA 8 THC Weekly Newsletter)
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers)
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
The Legal Landscape Of CBD Hemp Flower In Europe
Regulators Go After Smokable Hemp Flower – What Does The Future Hold?
The Complex Issue of Cannabis and Hemp Business On Tribal Land
Government Assistance Options for U.S. Hemp Farmers Affected By COVID-19

The post Did Your Hemp Extract Just Become Illegal? appeared first on CBD Testers.

Travis Scott’s top 5 albums and mixtapes ranked by us

Ever since Jacques Berman Webster II, AKA Travis Scott, burst onto the music scene, his experimental and psychedelic hip-hop style has taken the world by storm. Starting with his first official mixtape release, Travis Scott has defined a new genre of hip hop and inspired a generation of artists to follow in his footsteps. Today, […]

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Why European Cannabis Events must be Cancelled Due To Coronavirus

Due to the wide spread of Coronavirus in Europe, most if not all of the big European cannabis events are going to be cancelled soon, but the organizers don’t even know it, yet.

In an announcement that shocked the entire nation, the Israeli ministry of health just issued a warning that citizens should not leave the country and avoid unnecessary travel for the time being. In addition it advised against participating in big business and religius condferences and recomended not to allow such events happening in Israel.

By taking this stand, the Israeli ministry of health voted for isolating Israel from the rest of the world to prevent, as much as possible, the fast spread of the Coronavirus. In addition it has added Italy to the list of coronavirus-infected countries that Israelis coming from it must remain 14 days in self-quarantee and that visitors from that country are not allowed to enter the country. I believe that many European countires will soon follow suit.

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Whether you trust the media or not, whether you’re worried about the severity of the virus itself or not, the bottom line is that coronavirus is affecting businesses, and the cannabis industry is not left untouched. As a result, we can predict that most, if not all of the big European cannabis business events are going to be cancelled within the following week or two, and that similar events in the US and Canada are going to dramatically limited and in the absence of international traveler, become local. This is why:

Why the European cannabis events must be cancelled

Cannabis industry events, by nature, include a lot of close interaction, which is something people are trying to avoid now. As Europe is becoming more and more infected by Coronavirus, many governments will follow the Israeli example and prevent such events from happening. In addition, countries will begin to send travelers from infected countries back to where they came from, or, place them in quarantee for a minimum of 14 days.

Another reason is that when it comes to cannabis events, especially business and medically oriented ones, Israel is a major presence in the industry. Israel has been a global leader in medical cannabis research since the 1960s and they small nation currently has a foothold in the European medicinal market. As a result, in the European medical cannabis events, the number of Israeli speakers, whether they are doctors and businessmen, is very high. Most of them will now choose to remain at home, to avoid placed in self-guarantee when returning to Israel. Their absence will be felt greatly at these events.

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Subcribe to the CBD Business Weekly newsletter!


A new wave of refugees coming from Syria

The grave news coming from Italy, South Korea and especially from Iran, where coronavirus is now completely out of control, must trigger an alarm to all of us. In addition, the predicted wave of refugees coming from Syria (some may be infected with coronavirus, thanks to Iran’s presence in Syria), will force the European governments to take the path of self-isolation and limit the number of international travelers coming in. It will happen within days. Any hesitation to do so, will result in a faster spread of the disease as we can witness happening now.

Overall, it’s expected that most, if not all of the international events, including cannabis events will either be canceled or severely limited in terms of attendance and networking opportunities. And yes, that includes the Olympics and the Euro2020 game. These two also have already been cancelled, the same with the famous Eurovision song contests. Someone need to tell it to the organizers, as they didn’t even realized it yet. They will do, within the next week or two.

What does this mean for the future of cannabis industry events? In the absence of big gatherings the local and the virtual ones will take their place. It won’t feel the same, but most chances that networking in the summer of 2020 will be done mostly online.

So, what does it means for you?

If you have planned to go to an international big event, recosider the risk and check for the cancellation policy. Now. If you must attend it, or need to fly anywhere, make sure to apoint someone to replace you since it might take you some time to return home. Generally speaking, as any human interaction comes with a price thesedays, you should think twice before going to any big event where you can return home with a big pile of businesscards and one small deadly virus…

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*** UPDATE: I have approched several of the main European cannabis events, both in Israel and in Europe, and they all promised me that for now, they are not planning to cancel any of the events. So I have two weeks to prove I am right, or else, I will owe a lot of people a big apology.

None the less, you should make your own mind and reconsider the risk of travelling these days. In my opinion, it’s not a risk worth taking…

The post Why European Cannabis Events must be Cancelled Due To Coronavirus appeared first on CBD Testers.

Will European Medical Cannabis Shift From Flowers To Oils?

European medical cannabis will shift from capricious flowers to quality oils as patients seek consistent and reliable medicines.

Some manufacturers looking to supply Europe with competitively-priced medical cannabis are preparing for this shift. And, one Colombian cultivator says such a switch would have major benefits  in the German market – Europe’s premier medical cannabis country.

Oliver Zugel is founder of Colombian cultivator FoliuMed which hopes to have its first medical cannabis oils available for shipment to Europe by the end of the year.

A Process Of Decay

He said: “Producing cannabis medicine from flower is inherently challenging. One plant is different from the other, and cannabinoid concentrations vary from batch to batch even with same genetics. 

“THC content is very sensitive to light, and changes over time; if you store the flower for a few months it has a lower THC content from what it was at the outset, and that’s not easy to fix.

“It’s a process of nature, of decay, so we believe the pharmacies and the medical community, ultimately, when they have the ability, will switch to extracts. Clinicians require precise dosing, extracts allow them to do that, and are, we believe, the way forward.”

He highlighted how in the recreational area the march of oils is unstoppable as the source material for tinctures, gummies, drinks, cosmetics and the like.

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Just Seven Tons Of Imports

FoliuMed’s aim is to deliver competitively-priced medical cannabis into Europe which is predicted to be the world’s leading market. Prohibition Partners estimate that as the continent eases restrictions on medical cannabis it will grow to be worth up to €123 billion by 2028. 

The market is quite small at the moment with Germany – Europe’s largest market – importing just seven tons in 2019, while Canada had an oversupply of 500 tons at the end of last year. 

However producers are preparing for its projected growth with around a dozen Canadian firms achieving the European Union Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP) standards needed to supply Europe. FoliuMed believes its competitive advantage is the ability to grow in a low-cost environment – Colombia – while processing in compliant European facilities.

In order to achieve this it has secured the required standards at its growing facilities, near Bogota, and has has formed a joint venture with a German pharmaceutical firm to process imported extracts.

EU-GMP Secured In Germany

Once in Germany they will undergo further processing to align with EU-GMP regulations in the pharmaceutical company’s labs. EU-GMP is necessary to sell into the European market, but also fairly difficult to achieve.

Mr Zugel said: “EU- GMP is the gold standard for manufacturing pharmaceutical products, and requires lots of time, effort and money. It means that you need an integrated quality management system which delivers precisely the same product according to specifications in every production run, and can deliver a shelf-life suitable for sales through the pharmacy channel. 

Importance of Stocking GMP Products in Your Shop

Low-cost countries haven’t managed yet to produce meaningful volumes of GMP certified product, which paradoxically results in severe supply shortages and high prices in Europe despite the overhang in Canada and other markets… which in turn keeps the black market going. 

“We believe that extracts will be the next wave of medical cannabis products replacing flower, and those are much easier to standardise than flower and comply, therefore, with EU-GMP. 

From Seed To Sale

“But, building a GMP capability on your own is challenging, and more so when you have your grow and extraction in a region of the world where highly-skilled quality management professionals are hard to come by.

“For this reason, we at FoliuMed decided to enter an upstream joint venture with our German partners who have the experience to build and manage the system from seed to sale.” 

Elaborating on the difficulties in growing cannabis medicine, he continued: “Cannabis seeds and flowers are inherently variable, and perfect standardisation in the grow methods and climate control is very hard to achieve. GMP is, as its name says, is related to manufacturing, which only comes into play for the post-harvest drying, processing and packaging steps. 

“However, if your source material is inherently unstable and varies by each harvest, by definition you can’t get a GMP certified flower from it even if your processing complies with the standard.” 

Evolutionary Plant Genetics

Good genetics is the root of all quality products

There are further difficulties for cultivators in evolutionary plant genetics, says Mr Zugel.  He continued: “On top of this is genetic drift; the changes in the composition of plants and their offspring over time. 

“Think about it like some form of accelerated Darwinism – with cloning, you can create over 20 generations from the same plant within a year, which in human terms would equate to a 1,000 year period. Humans, on average, grew by nearly 10% over that period, and more than doubled their life expectancy, and it’s no different with plants.”

Mr Zugel is German-born and his home market – with some 80,000 patients – runs, by far, the most successful medical cannabis program in Europe. However, the delivery process for medical cannabis flower has it own peculiarities with patients either rolling their own joints of ground dry-flower or using a medical vaporizer.

While most medical cannabis patients in the U.S. prefer joints, it has been ruled out of the prescription process elsewhere in Europe.

Pharmacists’ 100% Mark-Up

The second method is through a vaporiser device of the kind made by Storz & Bickel, which was bought by Canadian firm Canopy Growth in 2018. This cumbersome table-top, cone-shaped device costs hundred of Euros and produces a smoke which fills a balloon for inhaling.

He said: “These are not sustainable long-term ways of delivering a medical application. But that’s how its done, right now, and is why the flower as the medical delivery method will ultimately be replaced by oils.”

Whilst oils are currently used in Germany a pharmacist must have some input – garnering a 100% mark-up for their efforts. This hands-on approach permits the cannabis oils to be sold with a doctor’s prescription without needing to go through the lengthy and expensive clinical trials required for other medicines. 

With oils up to five-times more expensive than flowers and the latter out-numbering the former in German usage by 80% to 20%, FoliuMed hopes to turn this on its head – and allow medical cannabis users to ditch their joint-rolling paraphernalia and cumbersome vaping devices.

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‘Poor Quality’ Cannabis At The Root Of Canada’s Woes

As the troubles stack-up for the main cannabis companies in Canada, an industry insider believes they’ll never be able to address one key issue – a lack of ‘good quality weed’.

James A. Smith, Chief Revenue Officer in Canada at emerging cannabis 4C Labs, says: “I do not know anyone who buys their cannabis on the legal market, it’s horrible quality.”

Recent figures show the ‘black’ and ‘grey’ markets continue to cater for the needs of the majority of Canada’s cannabis consumer users, with many leading companies blaming this on a lack of retail outlets. While acknowledging this has some merit, Mr Smith believes it is being used as a smokescreen for a litany of inadequacies.


End Of The Line

In fact, he goes on to say that today’s leading industry players  – exclusively Canadian – will not be around in a few years time. As an executive briefed with sourcing investor capital for 4C Labs, Mr Smith naturally talks up the insurgency but, in a long chat with CBD Testers he raised a host of salient points.

“The big producers paid too much for assets that are not producing quality product. Their whole systems of production cannot produce a quality cannabis product and as consumers in Canada are becoming much more sophisticated, they are increasingly aware of that.”

He says that even though the ‘likes of Canopy and Tilray’ in Canada have been in existence for some time they have never produced a quality cannabis product ‘in the history of their production’. “So if Canopy cannot grow good quality medical products over the last 10 years why would you think they could grow good recreational cannabis?” He ponders

Economies Of Scale

He went on to say there are some key structural issues with these businesses in the type of growing equipment, where they are growing and seed genetic quality, they’re ‘too focused on economies of scale’. The reality of is that they ‘may well never be profitable’ and the real future opportunities are for ‘the smaller craft companies such as Supreme and The Green Organic Dutchman’.

“While there will be successful companies, the reality is that the craft growers have not yet entered the market. The reality is that there products is not in demand because of the quality and they are blaming distribution (a lack of stores) for all of their woes. Investors assumed that companies who had been in the medical game were going to dominate the recreational market and that just simply hasn’t been the case. I don’t know anybody who buys weed from a Government store. The quality is terrible.”

Mr. Smith

Mr Smith has been planning his entrance into the cannabis market for four years and has been actively involved for the last 18 months. In that time he has assembled ‘a formidable team of growers’ with an extensive genetic library, and established key strategic partnerships with large Colombian agricultural and pharmaceutical firms as well as distribution partners in Malta, Germany and the U.K.

It will garner is first harvest in Colombia next September and will target its oil at large corporates in the cosmetics and wellness markets as well as developing its own CBD wellness range.

U.K. Pot ‘Horrible’

Mr Smith previously worked in commercial and residential real estate.He said one of his real estate roles was to identify jurisdictions were ‘people weren’t paying attention and there were regulatory gaps, and that in this regard the two industries pretty much identical.

One of the jurisdictions where he sees great potential is in the U.K. medical cannabis market and it’s in the process of establishing a growing base on the Channel Island of Guernsey to supply this market.

Although U.K. medical cannabis has been available for over a year, the system is badly designed and restricts access to those with deep-pockets, through private clinics.

“Recent research show that there are 1.4m people in the U.K, using street cannabis for their medical conditions – that’s a lot of cannabis. We are yet to see how this will develop but what is currently available costs around £35 a gram, and £375 a gram for CBD oil (Epidyolex) and these come could down £10 and £40 to £50 and and we would be profitable. The cannabis in the U.K is horrible, it’s of seriously poor quality and my growers have been supplying cannabis clubs for over 25 years; that’s the kind of knowledge you need to be successful.”

Mr. Smith

4C Labs has begun a new capital fund-raising round in London, with Mr Smith saying the potential arrival of two new board members would allow it to raise millions of pounds in short measure and circumvent the need to build out its facilities in phases.

London Leading

Mr Smith sees London emerging as the global financial cannabis capital. “I can feel the temperature in London, and it’s exciting this could be a £50 Billion industry in the next five years five years.”

As things stand in Canada the appetite for risk capital has disappeared, says Mr Smith.

“A lot of mature companies are running out of capital, they are not profitable and, if they don’t have enough cash in the kitty and they missed the last hurrah of access to capital, then they are in trouble.” He said, “They have a lot of overheads, have built large facilities with lots of staff. A lot of Canadian companies have paid over the odds in terms of the assets they have purchased over the last five years.”

Then he went on to identify a number of deals which he described as being ‘highly dubious’ in terms of value to the Canadian majors in jurisdictions such as Jamaica, Argentina and Chile.

He continued: “They are not succeeding at what they are tying to do, whether that’s due to incompetence? But many of these assets are costing more than they are producing. We’re at the very beginning of this industry and the real players are yet to emerge, that will happen within the next five years.”

“That’s my opinion, and a lot of people will disagree with me.”

Footnote:

Just last week Aurora Cannabis CEO Terry Booth warned that the Canadian cannabis industry will soon see ‘carnage’ among some companies that have high production and others will struggle to survive in the current downturn.

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Can Canada’s Cannabis Companies Weather The Winter Storm?

As Canadian’s wrap-up warm for winter they’ll be sharing one thing in common with their newest domestic industry – a hope the icy chill will be over soon.

With average Canadian cannabis company share prices down by over 50%, this year, analysts are contemplating a significant sector shake-down. And, this month’s results from Canada’s Licensed Producers, have once more underwhelmed – with under-fire executives highlighting a string of on-going issues.

Somewhere, or another, stressed company bosses will have flagged-up at least one of the following;

  • A shortage of stores
  • Restrictive rules on brand development
  • Falling prices
  • Rising stock levels 
  • Sluggish – and sometimes negative – revenue growth 
  • An inability to make profit 
  • A lack of fresh capital
  • Little appetite for deals
  • Cultivation cut backs
  • Leading to job cuts

It’s a fairly lengthy gripe – or even, charge – sheet but in the face of all of this maudlin sentiment some analysts predict brighter times ahead. As they see it; once this icy blast lifts, and the White Witch’s bitter grip thaws, the industry will welcome a fresh and bountiful cannabis spring.


Just 8 Firms Left 

Analysts at Mackie Research pulled no punches when summarising the recent round of pitiful results from the Canadian sector, reports Bloomberg. Calling their cumulative performances as ‘disastrous’ they speculated on which companies will still be standing in a year’s time.

They estimated that 21 out of 50 publicly-traded cannabis companies analysed have less than six months of cash left to burn. Other analysts say they expect 30 to 40 per cent of cannabis companies will ‘soon become distressed, go bankrupt or be acquired by another company’.

And, a third, reckons that within five years there will be just eight main  Canadian cannabis companies standing.

Poster Child

The world’s largest cannabis company Canopy Growth does not suffer from a lack of capital following its U.S$ 4 billion investment from Constellation Brands. However, in many other areas it is a poster child for the sector’s woes.

Its second-quarter loss hit $374.6 million with net revenues of $76.6 million down from $90.5 million in the prior quarter. Whilst it sold a record amount of cannabis the country’s over-supply crushed prices and margins

“It’s fair to say it’s been a challenging couple of quarters in the cannabis sector,” said CEO Mark Zekulin. “The market opportunity [in Canada] is not living to expectations.”                                                               

Also suffering is second largest company Aurora Cannabis which reported quarterly net revenue of $75.2 million well below the average analyst estimate of $90.6 million. Its sales into the Canadian recreational market tumbled 33% to $30 million, and it recorded a loss of  $39.7 million.

In an effort to cut costs it said it was ceasing construction at an $80 million facility in Denmark. 

 Not Enough Pot Shops

Mr Zekulin highlights the lack of domestic retailers, especially in the most populous sate of Ontario; it has a population of around 15 million but only 20 stores – one for every 600,000 people. He said “There are not enough stores, there is enough supply and the inability to get more stores rolled out is dramatically hurting the sector.”

Health Canada’s figures for August show stocks of dried cannabis have nearly tripled to 328,000 kilograms this year, with a total inventory almost 30 times sales, reports the Financial Post website. The share price crash has also seen the once-bountiful capital markets dry up, with some companies now having to offload real estate assets raise cash.

Innovative Industrial Properties, the largest cannabis-focused real estate investment trust, completed U.S. $375.6 million worth of deals in 2019, saying its deal ‘pipeline has never been more vigorous’ reports BNN Bloomberg.

The industry crisis has seen the Cannabis Council of Canada write to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for help addressing some of the industry’s most pressing challenges. These include cracking down on the black market which still accounts for over 50% of sales. 

Budget Range

Some firms like Hexo, have responded by launching budget price products. Its ‘Original Stash’ line retails at around $3.40 per gram – about half the average Canadian selling price.

The strict rules on packaging are also preventing the development of popular brands which can help generate interest and activity in the retail sector. Then there are compliance issues at companies such as, the inaptly named, CannTrust over unlicensed growing rooms, which has led to job losses, which now common across the sector.

In the light of all the issues short sellers – those betting share prices will fall  further – are taking positions on Canadian cannabis stocks. MKM analyst Bill Kirk said: “Rather than be wildly profitable in two years, we expect the Canadian LPs to be roughly break-even.”

Nevertheless, despite of the doom and gloom, the long-term sentiment of many market-watchers is upbeat. One of the first to call the end to the sell-off was Cantor Fitzgerald, it says the positives will outweigh the negatives in 2020. “Valuations are at two-year lows, and we deem them attractive based on the long-term opportunity,” says its analyst Pablo Zuanic. 

More store openings are expected, with Canopy projecting an average of 40 new stores opening in Ontario each month beginning in January, reports Motley Fool. And, the January launch of Cannabis 2.0; the new market for products such as edibles, gummies and other diversified retail lines will be a boost to sales.

Annual Revenues To Double

New Frontier Data estimates that 1.5 million adults consumed legal cannabis in the first year of legalisation, with that total expected to reach 7.3 million by 2024, with annual revenues more than doubling to C$5.8 billion in that time.

This diversification into new products is matched by concerted efforts at geographical diversification. Many leading Canadian cannabis companies have expanded into Europe; a market which is expected to surpass North America’s in size, and many are also investing in the U.S. CBD market which is experiencing a massive boom.

As Matt Benjamin from the InvestmentU website points out cannabis is still  a ‘nascent industry with a bunch of problems yet to solve’. He says the institutional investors will eventually arrive and says there is ‘little doubt the cannabis industry will continue to grow’.

While the sector may be in a for ‘long-hard winter’ there is hope – and even an expectation – that this icy blast will eventually thaw and spring will return to Narnia. But, by then Canada’s cannabis landscape may look markedly different than the one that exists today.

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Here’s What Happens When Smoking CBD Flowers…

Not sure what the deal is with smoking CBD Flowers? Well take it from me – the effects may surprise you.

As I walked around the (not-so-sunny) seaside town of Brighton, UK earlier this year, I was amazed to see how many stores were selling CBD products. Including CBD flowers sold in a ‘tea’ format. This got me wondering what happens when smoking CBD flowers.

I spoke to friends about the differences of smoking CBD flowers in comparison to regular recreational cannabis. I was met with a lot of confusion and cynicism. “What’s the point in smoking if you’re not getting a buzz?” they asked me. “Isn’t that the whole point?” I don’t think they expected me to be so impressed with the outcome. 

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The popularity of recreational cannabis means growers around the globe typically aim to produce cannabis strains with a high THC content. But as the worldwide demand for CBD increases, low THC, high CBD strains are soaring in popularity. 

CBD Flowers vs Regular Cannabis Flowers

Hemp and Marijuana are pretty much the cousins in the cannabis world. They are related as they belong to the same family of plants – cannabaceae. This is why the two look so similar to the naked eye. However, they produce a very different set of effects when used medicinally or recreationally.

Marijuana plants contain THC – the cannabinoid which is responsible for the high associated with recreational cannabis. On the other hand, hemp flowers contain only trace amounts of THC. Hemp growers worldwide are producing high CBD strains in order for consumers everywhere to reap the medicinal benefits of this newly popular cannabinoid.  


The Law on CBD Flowers. 

In the UK, CBD’s legal status is a bit of a confusing topic, to say the least. But times have changed, meaning now CBD is legal in the UK – as long as it adheres to certain conditions. CBD in the UK can only be sold “provided it has been derived from an industrial hemp strain that is EU-approved”. It also must contain less than 0.3% THC. However, it’s still forbidden to sell these flowers for smoking. UK Cannabis law reform campaigners ‘C.L.E.A.R’ outline the legal issues surrounding this on their website

Since the USA’s introduction of the 2018 Farm Bill, the hemp landscape there has been revolutionised. It meant that with FDA approval, the health benefits of CBD were finally available legally across the board. The state of Indiana recently tried to ban CBD flowers within the state, but a federal judge deemed it unconstitutional because of the farm bill.

I’m not one to mess with the law, so a trip to the US gave me the perfect opportunity to see what the deal is with CBD Flowers. 

Smoking CBD Flowers.

A 2017 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that CBD could provide relief for a variety of debilitating conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, cancer and diabetic complications, as well as general pain, anxiety and depression.

As a sufferer of anxiety, I was keen to find out if CBD Flowers would offer me the same therapeutic benefits that people claim they feel after smoking them. Aside from CBD flowers looking pretty much the same as regular cannabis buds, I was surprised to find that the smell was really similar. If anything, CBD flowers have a slightly more natural and ‘grassy’ smell to them. 

The reason why this is, is because CBD flowers contain a similar terpene profile to regular cannabis flowers. Terpenes are a compound found in all plants which are responsible for the aroma and taste of the plant itself. Which leads me to my next surprise discovery. Who knew that CBD Flowers taste basically the same as regular cannabis? My mind was pretty blown by this. It might seem trivial, but I assumed that without the presence of THC, the experience would be totally different on all levels. But the humble CBD Flower proved me wrong. 

As for its effects, I definitely noticed a sense of relaxation and overall calm in my body following smoking CBD Flowers. The feeling is definitely more of a cerebral effect of relaxation and overall well being. One of the reasons why certain strains of conventional cannabis sometimes don’t agree with me is due to the high THC content. It can increase my anxiety even the day after smoking. Not to mention the paranoia that can sometimes accompany it. So for me, if CBD Flowers were more readily available, they would actually be my preference if I wanted to smoke. 

Final thoughts.

With CBD Flowers, I could enjoy all the simple pleasures of smoking regular flowers, but without any of the unwanted side effects. The whole experience was virtually the same. Except for a slight difference in flavour profile and the lack of psychoactive buzz. If like me, you have a predisposition for anxiety, CBD flowers could be a great alternative to smoking. The scent and taste will ensure you won’t feel like you’re missing out and what’s more, you can even reap health benefits while you’re at it. 

Just make sure, as always, that your Hemp Flowers are purchased from a reputable source and be sure to check out the laws in your country to avoid any trouble. 

We’d love to hear what your experiences are with smoking help flowers. Share your stories in the comments below!

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World-Leading Medics Slam U.K. Medical Cannabis Regime

World leading medics have issued a stinging rebuke to the U.K health authorities slamming their ‘negative’ approach to medical cannabis.

In a letter to The BMJ – the country’s leading medical research journal – the experts highlight the success of the medical cannabis programmes elsewhere in the world.

They say, that unless the U.K. authorities change their ‘restrictive’ approach and opt to rely on ‘real-world data’ the National Health Service will continue to ‘fail’ patients. And, they call for the creation of ‘real-world patient registers’ ,as used elsewhere in Europe and the U.S, to support the U.K.’s clinical trials.


Lack Of Prescriptions

Whilst many of the signatories are medical officers at world-leading cannabis companies – many of whom will benefit from a thriving U.K. regime – their frustrations are shared across the wider medical cannabis community.

In the letter they highlight the uptake of medical cannabis across the world, as follows:

  • Canada; September 2018, 342,103 patients
  • Australia; over 17,300
  • California, May 2018; around 916,845 patients
  • Germany, legalized in March 2017; an now estimated 60 to 80,000 patients
  • Italy; 12,998 patients

And they compare this to the U.K where only 12 medical cannabis prescriptions had been issued, and this may account for as few as two patients. When the U.K. changed the law in November, last year, there was widespread hope this would be the dawning of a new era for medical cannabis, but it has been anything but.

This point is taken up the dozen-or-so signatories which include; Dr Jonathan Page, PhD, Chief Science Officer, at Aurora and Dr Mark A Ware, MSc. Departments of Family Medicine and Anaesthesia, McGill University and Chief Medical Officer, Canopy Growth Corporation;

They go on to say that demand from patients in the U.K. is ‘unlikely’ to be met, due to the ‘negative’ recommendations from NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).

‘Patient-Centred’ Data

And they state the ‘current paucity of data’ is ‘justification for its restrictive guidance despite ‘high quality assessments’ on the efficacy of medical cannabis from bodies such as the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Like many in the medical cannabis community they rail at the fixation with  the Random Control Trial process and call for a real-world patient centric approach.

The letter says: “Many clinical trials have employed the use of surrogate, composite and subjective endpoints, and have failed to allow patients to inform research outcomes. This has often undermined the clinical relevance of these studies, and has resulted in a failure to adequately capture the real-world benefits of cannabis in the lives of patients.”

With ‘the limited numbers of life threatening and serious adverse events’ attributable to medical cannabis they call for a more ‘open approach which will include the creation of real-world patient registries’.

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‘1.4 Million Brits Using Street Cannabis For Health Conditions’

New research suggesting 1.4 million people in the U.K. use street cannabis to treat medical conditions has been questioned by one of the country’s leading experts.

The findings are revealed in a survey by pollsters YouGov for the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) and its spin-off organisation CPASS. It finds that 56% of those using cannabis for their medical conditions did so on a daily basis, with a further 23% on a weekly basis – all in the U.K.

Some 44% spend up to £99 per month, with a further 21% spending between £100 and £199, and around 9%, seemingly, growing their own.

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A ‘Pinch Of Salt’

However Ian Hamilton, a Senior Lecturer in Addiction and Mental Health at York University, speaking at a the Global Cannabis Institute Conference in London last week questioned the findings.

Pointing to the overall decline in cannabis use in the U.K over the last decade-or-so he said he would take these finding with a ‘pinch of salt’. Mr Hamilton explained how the number of people, using cannabis in the U.K. had fallen from over 5% of the population to around 3% in the last ten years.

However he went on to say the the number of users, who are now presenting themselves for medical help with their cannabis use had risen over that time.

He said: “Overall cannabis use is declining, and most people grow out of using cannabis, as they mature, into their thirties.” He highlighted how the strength and potency of street cannabis had increased over the last few decades.

Social Harm

He said in many instances this could lead to social harm as the implications for many users are in relation to a loss of impulse control, which can plunge their families into debt. 

Highlighting last year’s legal changes allowing for the prescription of  medical cannabis he said the U.K. was developing a two-tier system leaving it out of the reach for this on lower incomes.

He went on to say the U.K. tradition of mixing cannabis with tobacco is uncommon elsewhere and decoupling the two could make a significant contribution to country’s health. In a press release the CMC said that previous research estimated somewhere between 50,000 and 1.1 million people in the UK  use cannabis for its health benefits. 

It said its 1.4m figure ‘accurately identify the incidence of street-available cannabis use for medical intent amongst the general population in England, Wales and Scotland’. It will release further drawls on these finding in the coming weeks, it said.

Dr Daniel Couch, Medical Lead, Centre for Medicinal Cannabis, said: ”For the first time we have reliable, representative data regarding the number of people in Britain using cannabis as a medicine. The findings are astounding and present a national challenge. We urgently require robust clinical evidence to evaluate the safety and efficacy of cannabinoid medicines.”

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