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How This Investor Blazed a Path to Success in the Cannabis Industry

In the flourishing green space, investor Gregg Smith has a knack for finding the next big thing.

It was spring of 2015, and the green rush was on in New York. That state had concluded a long process and awarded the first five medical marijuana licenses to operators. Investor Gregg Smith saw many of his friends and former colleagues scouring the market, looking for any cannabis-related investments, with the most commonly sought-after being licenses to operate dispensaries. “As a prior banker that had probably spent more than 50 percent of my career working on life sciences deals and with fast-growing tech companies, this smelled like the next new big industry,” he tells Entrepreneur.

But while on the surface these looked like surefire bets, Smith believed that most opportunities he saw were significantly overpriced for the risk and earning potential. Plus, he felt like the coming proliferation of these stores and the ensuing margin compression that growers and sellers would eventually face were headwinds that were too strong to fight. “It was like buying a New York City yellow taxi medallion at $1.2 million — not for me,” he says. NY taxi medallions now trade for less than $200,000 after Uber and Via brought technology and efficiency to the market.

Instead, Smith set his sights on investing in accessories and services that would benefit from the growing trend of states legalizing THC sales, without giving him exposure to the inflated values and asking prices of dispensaries. That’s when he stumbled upon Pax Labs, the No. 1 cannabis vaporizer brand, which has been referred to as “the iPhone of vaporizers.” It was July 2015, and not only had Pax achieved an incredible milestone in his view — having sold 1 million of its signature vapes at $280 retail — it had just completed an unnoticed $47 million private placement, led by Fidelity Investments, the giant mutual fund.

This stood out because it signaled to Smith that this company had public market potential and could IPO since it was “blessed” by blue-chip Fidelity, who had a high moral standard bar. “Pax had just utilized their technology to bring to market the JUUL, a revolutionary nicotine delivery device that I thought would be a great investment hedge against the Pax and cannabis,” says Smith. He believed that even if the legalization trend were to completely reverse course, consumers would still buy accessories for their black-market habits, much in the same vein that rolling papers have been sold at every c-store for many years.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t know anyone at the company, and they certainly didn’t need any money from a New York-based, independent investor who only invested his own money and didn’t even have a fund,” he recalls. So Smith, a former investment banker who had spent 20 years on Wall Street at Bear Stearns, BofA Merrill, and was formerly the head of the Private Equity Group at Cowen, then set out to find shares to buy in Pax from any current holders he could find using his relationships. Within weeks, he struck gold. “I found an existing Pax holder who had invested in the company in 2009 and was simply fatigued and wanted liquidity and was willing to sell,” he explains.

Over the next two years, just as JUUL began to gain steam, Smith successfully purchased 1.5 percent of the company in secondary sales from more than six different holders, most at prices that were 15 percent less than what Fidelity had invested at, which was approximately a $215 million valuation. Today, after a split of the company into two separate companies — Pax Labs and JUUL Labs — and with JUUL’s recently announced raise valuing the company at $15 billion, his holdings are valued at more than $225 million, excluding his Pax shares.

Despite its meteoric rise, Smith says he has no desire to sell at the current prices and believes that JUUL has more than 4x upside over the next several years, which would value JUUL alone at $60 billion and his holdings at $900 million. “JUUL has completely disrupted the combustible smoking market, and there are more than 1 billion existing smokers in the world who would benefit tremendously from switching to a JUUL. It has only just begun,” Smith says. “The U.S. has been won, and there is an enormous international opportunity ahead.”

On the cannabis side, he remains extremely bullish on Pax Labs and its “Pax Era” product, which is aiming to be the Keurig of the oil vape market. His Pax investment continues to meet his investment thesis of not touching the plant, as Pax sells only accessories and empty pods to fillers, who bring to market their branded oil pods. “I just don’t see the 10x upside in the many ‘touch the plant’ opportunities I have seen,” he says.

Smith believes we are only in the second inning of a transition and major adoption of oil-based vapes and says the Pax Era is the best product on the market, with a wide variety of flavors meeting consumers’ needs. He has also invested in MJ Freeway, the leading seed-to-sale software provider to dispensaries, to help them manage the complexities of compliance in the marijuana industry. Again, this was a bet on the growth of dispensaries without actually investing in one, notes Smith. Other investors include Roger McNamee and Tao Capital Partners, an investment arm of the Pritzker family, which is also invested in Pax/JUUL.

New revenue opportunities.

Expanding from oil-based vaporizers, Smith recently made a significant investment in Hemper, the leading cannabis-accessory monthly subscription box service. To date, Hemper has shipped more than 200,000 monthly boxes (of all legal products) to smokers around the U.S. at $30 per box. This exposure and an engaged social media fan base have also allowed Hemper to achieve retail distribution in more than 800 stores, up from none last summer. In March, Smith invested $1 million in Hemper to give its three 26-year-old founders their first outside capital to ramp up marketing and new product introduction. “Hemper is Supreme meets Apple — Supreme from a brand and must-have perspective, and Apple from a focus on design and innovation,” says Smith. “Their products are not sophomoric; rather, they are well-designed functional smoking items that a new class of open smoker would be proud to showcase and possess.” Hemper has plans to be in more than 3,000 stores by the end of 2019.

Smith is now focused on personally investing $20 million in late seed-stage start-ups, with a focus on the N.Y. and Silicon Valley markets. He doesn’t have a fund, and he doesn’t want one because, he says, “I don’t want to be accountable to anyone but myself.” He has invested in more than 30 private companies and funds, including such unicorns as Bird, Via and Coupang, and is a member of Sand Hill Angels, one of the oldest Silicon Valley-based angel investment groups. (Smith is its only East Coast member.) He has invested in many early-stage companies that have come through Sand Hill and recently led a $2.3 million series seed round for Krome Photos, of which he invested $1.5 million alongside other notable investors including River Park Ventures and Sand Hill Angels.

Smith says he prefers to focus on smaller companies where he can be an active participant and act as an outsourced business development executive, bringing strategic opportunities to them, which can accelerate the appreciation of his equity.

Where to invest next?

Investment opportunities have come to Smith from many places, but the one he is most astonished at sourcing was Honcker, an app that allows a user to lease a new car from a mobile device and have the vehicle delivered to their door the next day — all at the best price in the market and without ever having to visit a dealership. After first seeing the app by happenstance in May 2018, Smith thought it was one of the most brilliant and scalable marketplace businesses he had ever seen, but he knew no one at the startup company, which had less than six employees. That’s when he took a flyer on a LinkedIn invitation he sent to the founder with a note that expressed his desire to invest. To his surprise, the founder returned his call and took a meeting, which marked the beginning of a process that ended with Smith leading a round and investing more than $2.2 million; he was joined by other leading New York venture investors. Smith joined the board and went to work, making introductions to car dealer groups, insurance companies, banks and, most importantly, IAC. After meeting the company and spending time with its founder, IAC proposed investing $23 million as the sole investor in Honcker’s A round — just several months after Smith’s investment closed. This investment was IAC’s first foray into the auto vertical and was at a tremendous multiple to the previous round. “Honcker is on its way to becoming a billion-dollar company and has completely improved the car leasing experience. Their marketplace has been a digital extension of a dealer’s rooftop and enabled them to capture business they may not have. It’s the Amazon Prime of car leasing,” comments Smith.

Smith’s passion for seed stage investing began in 1998 when he was 28 and worked full-time as an investment banker raising money for larger companies. “I was approached by a 22-year-old first-time entrepreneur who’d just started an online pet pharmacy called PetCareRx.com, selling prescription and non-prescription medications for cats and dogs at prices that were significantly cheaper than one would get from their local vet. He was solving a problem — much like 1-800-Contacts — and I wrote the first $50,000 check to help expand this fledgling business that operated out of a closet.” After about two years, the young entrepreneur called Smith and told him he ran out of money and was simply going to fold that week. Smith thought the business made sense and asked the founder for 24 hours to come up with a plan. Days later, Smith and three friends injected approximately $300,000 in exchange for 70 percent of the business. Smith became the chairman. He worked to position and rename the business (its original name was EZPet) and recruit a CEO that could complement the young founder. Soon, he had successfully recruited not one, but two former Goldman Sachs retired partners who both had a passion for animals and a desire to be active in running a business and invest their own capital. Smith left the board in 2008 when PetCareRx.com had become the second-largest online pet pharmacy in the U.S. and Goldman Sachs had made a significant investment in it, and it was formally a Goldman portfolio company. Today the company is still private and growing, and Smith hasn’t had a significant payday but says he is optimistic about remaining a passive shareholder.

Smith says his investment goals are simple: “I want to have fun, make money and be a part of building exciting things. Since I am a one-man show and work for myself, I am always trying to learn, and I enjoy being around people smarter than me.  I would be lying if I didn’t say there is something so rewarding about looking through grains of sand on the beach and then finding the one that grows up and becomes a valuable diamond.”

To read more visit: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/317053

Canna-curious? These 3 Qualities Are Essential for a Success in the Industry

As legal cannabis spreads across the U.S., there will be plenty of business opportunities for entrepreneurs who understand the market and the culture.

With cannabis now legal (in some form) in two-thirds of the United States, what started off as a niche industry is becoming big business. The U.S. cannabis market is expected to grow to $25 billion by 2025, up from $8.3 billion in 2017, according to New Frontier Data. Those kinds of numbers are going to attract entrepreneurs as well as established businesses looking to cash in on the green rush. But if you’re thinking about getting involved in the cannabis industry, there are steps you should take to separate yourself from the crowd.

Be transparent

When I started Kush Bottles in 2010, I didn’t really know what to expect from the industry. What I found was a tight-knit community where it was easy to get CEOs on the phone and people were happy to deal with each other one-on-one. Transparency is a key quality for anyone thinking about moving into the industry today. Why? It engenders trust, and trust is crucial in this new industry.

As little as 15 years ago, cannabis was still illegal in every state of the union– though of course plenty of adults were using marijuana. But any commerce around cannabis was, by necessity, opaque. Customers had no idea where the cannabis was coming from, what it might have been mixed with or whether the product was any good.

In order for legal cannabis to step out from that shadow, it’s important for companies to be open about their methods and their financing. As a publicly traded company, we’ve had to make our finances public and we’ve found that along the way, it’s helped build trust with our partners and our customers. We’ve also made a concerted effort to get our salespeople to meet face-to-face with companies that use our products (we provide packaging and supplies, custom branding solutions, gas, and now in-house labeling and printing that are highly specialized to the cannabis industry). As other industries move online, personal contact is key in the cannabis industry.

Be a team player

If you want to move into cannabis, it’s also important that you are willing to be supportive of other players. Cannabis is a small industry where everyone pretty much knows each other. We support each other. Of course, we each want to maximize our business, but we still share tips and tricks and meet regularly to socialize.

Be ready to be part of this community, or you’ll find yourself quickly on the outs. As members of an emerging industry, cannabis entrepreneurs are naturally distrustful of outsiders who might be looking to just cash in on the latest trend. Show that you understand the community and want to be a supportive player and you’ll have a much easier time doing business.

Be nimble 

Cannabis is a fast-moving industry. You may go into business with one idea but find out quickly that there’s a more profitable path to walk down. When we started our company in 2010, 90 percent of our packaging was for dried flower because that was the bulk of the industry. With that mix changing to include concentrates, edibles, tinctures and prefilled cartridges for vaping, our business has evolved as well. Given that advertising is so restricted, branding is becoming even more important for businesses and that’s now a big part of what we do. Flower packaging now accounts for less than 50 percent of our business as other methods of consumption for consumers evolve and innovate.

The net-net here is, go into the industry with a strong, clear business plan but be prepared to pivot and adapt as the market evolves.

Cannabis is unique. Unlike other rushes (think gold rush, tech rush, etc.), the product here has the potential to really help millions of people. For that reason, it’s a people-driven industry. Relationships matter, whether that relationship is between a partnering business, a supplier and a client or between a sales associate and a customer. Understand that going in, and you’ll have a much better chance of success.

To read more visit: https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Canna-curious-These-3-Qualities-Are-Essential-13102563.php

Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission On Track to Take Over Medical Marijuana Program

The Department of Public Health has been overseeing the program, but under state law, the Cannabis Control Commission will take the medical program over by 2019.

BOSTON — The Cannabis Control Commission, which is overseeing Massachusetts’ recreational marijuana industry, is on track to take over the state’s medical marijuana program by the end of the year, according to a recent report submitted to the Legislature.

Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana on the ballot in 2012, and there are currently 42 dispensaries that have been given final approval to open. The Department of Public Health has been overseeing the program.

But under the state law legalizing recreational marijuana, which passed on the ballot in 2016, the Cannabis Control Commission will take the medical program over by 2019. The goal was to avoid having two separate agencies regulating marijuana.

To read more visit: http://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/massachusetts-cannabis-control-commission-on-track-take-over-medical-marijuana-program/

German Authorities Will Issue New Cannabis Cultivation Bid

In shocking news out of Deutschland, BfArM, the federal agency responsible for the management of the first tender cultivation bid, has issued a notice that it is ditching the first tender bid and will start from scratch.

According to Kermit the Frog, it’s never easy being green. It is also tough to be “first” in the cannabis biz. Anywhere.

One of the most remarkable features of the first years of state-level legalization in the U.S. was the sheer number of mistakes by the authorities in issuing licenses and bids for state-sanctioned cultivation and dispensation once the voters had forced legalization. There were several state-level “redos” and lots of legal mumbo jumbo thrown around as the green-rush kicked off at the state level.

Fast-forward a couple of years and it is clear this is not just an issue of the confused state of legalization in the U.S.

Canada too, on a federal recreational level, has moved forward in fits and starts. And even though a fall start date to the market has now been enshrined into law, the continued moving target of the same has been a topic of fraught conversations and bargaining ever since the country decided to move ahead with full Monty recreational.

Across the pond, things are not going smoothly on the cannabis front. In the first week of July, the much stalled medical cultivation bid in Germany finally came to a limpid end. It remains to see if there will be any legal “bangs” as it whimpers away.

The real news? There is going to be a completely new one.

A Do-Over

According to documents obtained by Cannabis Industry Journal, the Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte (or BfArM) issued letters to original bid respondents in the first week of July. The letters appear to have been sent to all parties who originally applied to the first bid – far from the final top runners.

The translation, from German reads:

“We hereby inform you that we have withdrawn the above-mentioned award procedure…and intend to initiate a new award in a timely manner.”

The letter cited the legal decision of March 28 this year by the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court as the reason the agency cannot award the contract. Specifically, because of “necessary changes to the tender documents…inparticular with regard to time, we have decided to cancel the procedure altogether and initiate a new award procedure.”

Per the letter, the new procedure will be published in the Official Journal of the EU. No date was mentioned.

An Expensive Surprise and a Global Response

Conventional wisdom in the industry about the fate of the first bid has been mixed since last September when the first hint of lawsuits against the procedure began to circulate. Highly placed sources within the industry have long had their doubts about the bid’s survivability, although nobody will talk on the record. The bid process is supposed to be secret.

Furthermore, for the last 9 months, BfArM has maintained that the agency would go full-steam ahead with the original tender. None of the major firms contacted by CIJ about this notification would confirm that they had received a similar letter, nor would they comment.

However, it is clear that another bid will be issued. Further, this time, it is also obvious to the extent that it was not before, the applicants will indeed hail from all points of the globe. On top of that, those who are qualified to respond and who missed it last time are unlikely to sit the bid out this time around.

German Parliament Building

It remains unclear of course, what the response of the finalists to the first bid will be. Including, theoretically,legal action forpotential damages. BfArM was, technically, held at fault by the court. This means that all the companies who made it to the previous “final round” have now suffered at a minimum, an expensive time delay where other outlays of cash were also required. That includes the leasing and retrofitting of high security real estate, but of course,is not limited to the same. If any of these firms do not obtain the bid in the second go around, will they sue?

At press time, there were no cannabis industry companies willing to comment on the matter as this is still a “secret” process – even if it now apparently has come to an end for this round.

Who Is Likely To Be a Major Contender This Time?

German firms who were sleeping the last time this opportunity arose (or brushed it off as a “stigmatized” opportunity) are not likely to sit the second tender offer out. Especially given advancements in legalization if not the industry both in Europe and globally in the period of time the bid has stalled.

Add to that Canadians, Dutch, Israeli and Uruguayan firms, and the mix of applicants this time is likely to be the who’s who of the global cannabis industry. Americans are still not qualified to participate (with experience at least). Why? No federal reform.

It is also likely to be even more expensive. Not to mention require easy and quick access to European-based or at least easily confirmable pools of cash. It is conceivable that successful applications this time around will not only have to prove that they have a track record in a federally legal jurisdiction but will also have to be able to quickly access as much as 100 million euros. And there are not many cannabis companies, yet, who can do that, outside of the presumed top 10 finalists to the bid.

Will Bid Respondents Be Limited To “Just” the Cannabis Industry?

It is, however, absolutely possible that this time around the bid could include a more established pharmaceutical player or two who realizes that the medical market here has absolutely proved itself. Within the space of a year, according to the most recent “market report” on the industry (from the perspective of one of the country’s largest statutory insurance companies – Techniker Krankenkasse), there are now just over 15,000 patients.

Cannabis, in other words, is no longer an “orphan drug.” It is also still, however, considered a narcotic. For that reason, seasoned European and German players may upset the market even more with an entry via this tender bid.

Here is what is certain for now. Domestic cannabis will not be harvested in Germany until at least 2020. And until that time, it will be a growing, but import-based market.

To read more visit: https://www.cannabisindustryjournal.com/feature_article/german-authorities-will-issue-new-cannabis-cultivation-bid/

GOVERNOR MARY FALLIN SIGNS EMERGENCY RULES FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Governor Mary Fallin signed emergency emergency rules for medical marijuana that were adopted by the Oklahoma State Board of Health.

In a press release Governor Fallin  said, “These rules are the best place to start in developing a proper regulatory framework for medical marijuana, with the highest priority given to the health and safety of Oklahomans. They are also the quickest and most cost-efficient way to get the process actually started as required by the law passed by the people. I expect modifications could occur in the future. I know some citizens are not pleased with these actions. But I encourage everyone to approach this effort in a constructive fashion in order to honor the will of the citizens of Oklahoma who want a balanced and responsible medical marijuana law.”

Oklahoma City Representative Jason Lowe released a statement saying in part, “the law undermines one of the most participated in elections in state history and silences the voice of Oklahomans across this state. I am calling on the governor to immediately call for a special session so that the elected leaders of this state can implement the law as instructed by the citizens of Oklahoma.”

In regards to a special session, Mary Fallin said in her press release, “The Health Department has been working with 17 other agencies the past three months on crafting these emergency rules. Asking the Legislature to pass comprehensive legislation in a special session is not realistic.”

To read more visit: https://mfanews.net/governor-mary-fallin-signs-emergency-rules-for-medical-marijuana/

Cannabis for kids? Almost half of Canadian pediatricians didn’t know they could prescribe: survey

WATCH BELOW: Is weed good or bad for you? Everything we know about the health effects of cannabis

Dr. Michael Rieder wants it made clear that cannabis is not a side-effect free, cure-all.

The London, Ont., pediatrician has had many children referred to him by doctors who know Rieder wrote the Canadian Paediatric Society’s position statement on cannabis use and aren’t sure whether to prescribe.


READ MORE: 
Doctors should think twice before prescribing medical marijuana: guideline

The conversations, Rieder says, are rather interesting.

“The families usually come in with a certain set of ideas,” he says.

“Medical cannabis is imbued with a certain mythological character … a panacea for all ills quite unlike most other drugs.”

But it is still a drug.

It just happens to be one that providers know less about, Rieder says. They don’t know when to prescribe or how much or for how long. Although there’s a list of authorized providers from Health Canada, he notes, there isn’t a product monograph outlining side effects or possible risks in the short and longer term.

A spokeswoman for Health Canada, says the government is in the process of updating five-year-old information about cannabis so that it is in a “format similar to that of a drug product monograph.”

WATCH: Doctor says Canada not prepared for marijuana legalization

In fact, 49 percent weren’t even aware they can prescribe cannabis to children, according to a survey of pediatricians released Thursday by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program (CPSP), and 39 percent didn’t know they could prescribe to youth. More than three-quarters reported little to no knowledge about why cannabis might be used or what the correct dosage might be.

That’s not stopping minors from using marijuana for medical purposes. Half of the pediatricians who responded to the survey reported treating patients who were using medical marijuana in the year prior, for reasons both authorized and unauthorized. The vast majority, per the survey, saw five or less patients who used cannabis.

“We were amazed,” says Dr. Richard Bélanger, who helped conduct the survey for CPSP and who is also a pediatrician and researcher in Quebec. “It was a shock … but in the end, it really makes sense.”

Almost everywhere in Canada, Bélanger says, “pediatricians are treating complex diseases in children with sometimes fewer treatment possibilities than for adults.”


READ MORE: 
Parents encouraged to talk to their kids about the possible impact of marijuana use

Despite half saying they treated a patient who was using cannabis for medical reasons, only 34 said they personally had prescribed authorized cannabis use in the year prior. However, only a third of Canadian pediatricians and pediatric subspecialties responded to the 2017 survey (877 out of 2,816).

This survey is just one step toward untangling the confusion around how pediatricians can and should use medical marijuana, Bélanger says. With legalization coming Oct. 17, he says, there are still many health professionals saying they don’t have enough knowledge around prescribing cannabis.

“We have to continue producing knowledge around that and to inform pediatricians and health professionals working with kids,” he says.

WATCH: FDA approves first drug derived from marijuana to treat epilepsy

In particular, Bélanger wants to build a better picture of how cannabis is being used to treat minors in more rural areas. Most of the survey respondents were from major centers or university towns.

“We’re not exactly sure that it is a clear representation of what is taking place, let’s say, in northern Manitoba,” Bélanger says.

Regardless of where cannabis is being prescribed, Rieder says it’s important to make sure it’s being done so by a professional — especially as legalization prompts more people to inquire about medical marijuana.


READ MORE: 
Treating cancer in kids with cannabis

While there have been some studies pointing to its usefulness in treating children with epilepsy, he’s concerned around some children as young as five or six using cannabis to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Rieder says most inquiries he fields for cannabis are about calming children with ADHD.

“It’s a terrible idea,” he says.

“They may be a little bit more mellow and they may act up less in class but we know that cannabinoids have significant effects on some developing brains.”

As research continues and pediatricians arm themselves with the latest information ahead of legalization, Rieder says its important for parents to remember that cannabis is just like any other drug with “potentially good effects and potentially bad effects.”

“Like any drug, there are certain questions you should always ask,” he says. “What is the expected benefit? What’s the expected risk? How is it going to be followed up?”

To read more visit: https://boom997.com/news/4325665/medical-cannabis-for-kids/

Oklahoma Ganjapreneurs and Lawmakers Up in Arms About Medical Marijuana Rollout

With the ink barely dry on Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana law, potential canna-business owners are already at odds with Governor Mary Fallin on how to implement the voter-approved program.

Oklahoma voters passed one of the nation’s most progressive medical marijuana ballot measures in late June, cementing the Sooner State as a new force in the Midwest’s burgeoning green rush. In the days since, trade groups representing potential ganjapreneurs have voiced daily disagreements with each other and Governor Mary Fallin over the best path forward for the program’s regulatory process, leaving industry insiders and lawmakers at odds.

In last month’s primary election, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 788, legalizing the possession and sale of state-sanctioned medical marijuana. Unlike restrictive programs in neighboring states, the Oklahoma ballot measure did not specify any qualifying conditions, and would instead allow doctors to recommend cannabis for any ailment they see fit. In addition to the open access provision, SQ788 requires that state regulators begin accepting cannabusiness license applications my the end of August.

Gov. Fallin had said before the vote that she would call a special session of the legislature to implement a more focused framework for the impending program. Once the bill passed, though, the Governor reconsidered her stance, and announced that she would not be seeking a special session. Instead, she’s turning all MMJ regulatory powers over to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, a newly formed division of the State Department of Health.

“After conferring with House and Senate leaders, we believe a special legislative session is not necessary to implement provisions of State Question 788,” Gov. Fallin said last week. “The Oklahoma State Department of Health has developed emergency rules that will ensure the health and safety of Oklahomans as well as being fair and balanced for the marijuana industry. The Health Department has been working with other agencies the past several months to develop a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical reasons. The voters have spoken, and it’s important that our state has a responsible system up and running to meet the deadlines outlined in State Question 788. If circumstances develop that adjustments to the Health Department rules are necessary, those can be addressed when lawmakers return in regular session early next year.”

As soon as Fallin announced the regulatory hand-off, local medical cannabis industry advocacy group New Health Solutions Oklahoma (NHSO) released a four page memo decrying the Governor’s decision, once again calling for a regulatory debate at the state House. Without firm rules for laboratory testing, inventory tracking, and other intricate aspects of the program on the books before licensing begins, NHSO executive director Bud Scott argues that the industry will kickstart the program while it’s still stuck in quicksand.

“Treating sick Oklahomans with medical cannabis requires establishing a new and very complex industry that includes growers, processing facilities, distributors, dispensaries, medical research, security and technology companies, and a variety of other professional services,” Scott said in the press release. “All of these sub-industries, and the thousands of jobs they represent, require responsible legislation establishing an orderly and fairly regulated marketplace.”

Breaking with that slow and steady approach, Chip Paul, a co-founder of Oklahomans for Health — the group that collected enough signatures to place SQ788 on last month’s ballot — is siding with Gov. Fallin. In an interview with Tulsa World this week, Paul complimented Fallin and the state legislature for keeping their nose out of the voter-approved measure.

“We’re in the proper place, and we should be dealing with the proper people,” Paul told theTulsa World. “Our [recommended] regulations are pretty close to the Department of Health’s. I don’t know why someone would call for a special session, that seems very costly and egregious.”

Outside of the debate on who should be responsible for regulating SQ788, a new Oklahoma advocacy group, Green The Vote, has begun collecting signatures on two potential ballot measures to legalize cannabis recreationally. As of press time, Green The Vote representatives say that they have more than half of the signatures needed to place the question on November’s midterm election. Advocates have called that potential ballot measure a “safe guard” in case regulators or lawmakers upend the language of SQ788.

For now though, it appears that state lawmakers will leave their hands off of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program, allowing Health Department officials to move forward with plans for a quick start and wide access — no matter what problems may stand in the way.

To read more visit: https://merryjane.com/news/oklahoma-lawmakers-ganjareneurs-already-debating-medical-marijuana-rollout

Will new governor bring changes in marijuana laws?

Back when she was first running for governor in 2010, Susana Martinez, then the district attorney in Las Cruces, was very clear about her opinion on medical marijuana.

“It is against federal law to distribute marijuana, and there are alternative medications that meet the medical needs of patients,” the future governor wrote in a candidate questionnaire for this newspaper before that year’s primary. She made similar statements in other publications later in her campaign.

But less than a week after taking office in January 2011, Martinez seemed to change her tune. Asked about the issue at a news conference, Martinez said she was still against the medical use of marijuana. But asked whether she’d be pushing legislation to repeal the 2007 law that established the “compassionate cannabis” program, Martinez said, “We have bigger issues we have to deal with, like balancing the $450 million budget deficit and reviving the economy.”

Martinez, who remains a prosecutor at heart, never became a huge booster of the medical marijuana program. But despite her personal opposition, the program has grown under her watch.

When she took office, there were only about 3,000 patients in the program. According to the Department of Health, at the end of May, there were more than 53,000 enrolled patients, nearly 6,100 in Santa Fe County alone.

There are 35 licensed nonprofit producers in the state. There are nine medical marijuana dispensaries in and around Santa Fe. In February, when The New Mexican’s Daniel J. Chacón wrote an article about “the green rush” in Santa Fe, there were only seven dispensaries here. Chacón noted that two dispensaries had opened here in December.

And they’re popping up all over the state. You can even find them in more conservative communities such as Hobbs, Artesia, Alamogordo and Farmington. (Sorry, Pie Town. I didn’t find you on the list. But at this rate, probably some day the town will be.)

Martinez will be leaving office at the end of the year. And this year, medical marijuana doesn’t seem like much of an issue in the governor’s race. Raising more interest has been the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana. Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham has said she’d support such a move but only after serious study of other states, such as Colorado, that have legalized it. Republican Steve Pearce is staunchly opposed to legalization of recreational use.

As far as medical marijuana goes, Lujan Grisham — who was health secretary under Gov. Bill Richardson — helped set up the state program and remains supportive. Pearce told the Las Cruces Sun-News last year that he wants to “look more closely” at marijuana as a medicine and that he’s been moved by stories of patients who have found relief from the drug.

But there is a marked difference in the voting records of Pearce and Lujan Grisham, both of whom currently serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, on medical marijuana issues.

According to a scorecard by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Pearce twice voted against legislation to allow doctors with Veterans Affairs to recommend marijuana as therapy for patients in states with medical marijuana programs. He also voted against legislation prohibiting the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana programs.

Lujan Grisham voted in favor of those items.

The real question about medical marijuana in this state is whether the next governor will back legislation such as a bill sponsored by state Sen. Cisco McSorley last year that would have allowed medical marijuana patients to possess more cannabis and eventually let producers grow more. That bill passed the Senate by a vote of 29-11 but mysteriously died in the (Democratic-controlled) House.

Referring to the 2007 medical marijuana bill, which he carried, McSorley said in 2017, “Over the last 10 years that bill has become somewhat outdated and some of those provisions need to be revised. This is the first amendment we’ve done in 10 years to the medical cannabis program. And there’s one thing this bill does. It helps the patients.”

Though medical marijuana is likely a fixture in New Mexico now, we will have to see whether the new governor and Legislature will try to make cannabis easier to obtain for the growing number of patients in the program.

To read more visit: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/local_columns/will-new-governor-bring-changes-in-marijuana-laws/article_2b8e45fe-e351-5e23-b2e4-6c28e580d573.html

The Week in Weed: July 6, 2018

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has recently introduced legislation that would decriminalize the use of marijuana on the federal level.

Although it would not legalize marijuana, Sen. Chuck Schumer introduces bill to federally decriminalize marijuana by re-classifying it.

The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act; however, the federal government would maintain the authority to prevent cannabis trafficking from legal states to non-legal states.

Vermont is the most recent state to allow legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes; it’s the first to do so via the ballot box.

Vermont is the ninth state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis for recreational use and also the first state in the country to do so through its legislature.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Vermont, the ninth state to legalize it.

According to the CDC, use of tobacco is on the decline in the United States.  One of the world’s major tobacco firms is diversifying into cannabis.

Snoop Dogg, Sir Patrick Stewart and Imperial Brands: all vaguely in the same news story, thanks to a deal announced late Wednesday that an analyst called the “most significant” attempt by Big Tobacco to gain exposure to the marijuana industry.

But it’s not just Big Tobacco that’s interested; beer companies are jumping into the marketplace as well.

Some of the big dogs of the brewing world are getting into the business of creating cannabis-infused beers.

To read more visit: https://www.blunttruthlaw.com/

FDA rejects move to further restrict cannabis

McConnell & Schumer tour hemp biz; “Alcohol and Drug Abuse Lake” is a real place; Veterans step up push for marijuana reform

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/ TOP THINGS TO KNOW

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected a prohibitionist group’s petition to add marijuana to a list of drugs that are not “generally recognized as safe and effective.” The agency said that the move is “not necessary for the protection of public health.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) both toured home-state hemp facilities, as did U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

On a lighter note, Marijuana Moment takes a look at some of the bizarre drug-related place names that are officially recognized by the federal government. Among others, we found Alcohol and Drug Abuse Lake, Bong Bridge, Drug Island and Reefer Creek. There’s also a dried-up reservoir called Marijuana Tank.

/ FEDERAL

Reason spoke to some of the would-be licensed cannabis growers whose research applications have been held up by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The White House pushed back against growing calls to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying the move “would mean more dangerous illegal drugs flowing into our communities, causing more Americans to needlessly suffer.”

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology is teaming up with the Drug Enforcement Administration and German police to launch a website where forensic chemists can share data on new synthetic drug variants.

federal judge in Brooklyn said he will stop reincarcerating people who are on supervised release just for using marijuana.

The chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court will speak on a marijuana panel at the American Bankruptcy Institute’s conference in November.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) still opposes medical cannabis even though voters in his state legalized it.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) tweeted, “People who are addicted to marijuana are 3 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.”

/ STATES

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) named a new top marijuana regulator for the state.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a bill making it easier for terminally ill patients to qualify for medical cannabis.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said he doesn’t see the state moving to legalize marijuana “at this point.”

Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidates debated marijuana policy.

Here’s a look at where Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidates stand on legalizing marijuana and other criminal justice issues.

Oklahoma regulators released public comments they have so far received about proposed medical cannabis rules.

Arizona activists failed to collect enough signatures to qualify a marijuana legalization measure for the November ballot.

/ LOCAL

The Associated Press looks at how Los Angeles, California’s legal and illegal marijuana markets coexist.

Denver, Colorado regulators stripped Sweet Leaf marijuana stores of their licenses following the chain’s legal troubles.

/ INTERNATIONAL

The UK government granted an emergency license to use medical cannabis to a 12-year-old boy with epilepsy. Meanwhile, the House of Commons could debate a medical marijuana billon Friday.

The Mexican Senate’s international policy research center published an overview of Canada’s new marijuana legalization law.

/ ADVOCACY

Learn about the Veterans Cannabis Coalition’s efforts to move marijuana legislation on Capitol Hill in this powerful post about fighting “the good war” after returning home from battle. (Sponsored)

Former Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia’s Marijuana Leadership Campaign is hiring for two fundraising positions.

/ SCIENCE & HEALTH

A study found that state medical cannabis laws “in general have a null effect on cannabis-positive driving, as do state laws with specific supply provisions including home cultivation and unlicensed or quasi-legal dispensaries” but that only “in jurisdictions with state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries did the odds of marijuana-involved driving increase significantly.”

Slow federal approvals are delaying the start of Utah state-funded research on the effect of medical cannabis on pain.

/ BUSINESS

Canopy Growth Corporation launched a Latin America affiliate.

Canadian food companies are rolling out marijuana-focused ad campaigns.

Marijuana delivery service Eaze filed a motion to compel arbitration in a lawsuit filed by a woman who alleges the company improperly sent her text messages.

/ CULTURE

Musician Melissa Etheridge said she’s “really jealous” of Canada’s legalization of marijuana.

Musician Carly Simon uses CBD to treat knee pain.

Netflix’s marijuana-themed “Cooking on High” is getting bad reviews.

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To read more visit: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/fda-rejects-move-to-further-restrict-cannabis-newsletter-july-6-2018/