Monthly Archives: December 2017

Big labour sees growth potential in California’s marijuana fields

Unions have caught a whiff of a rare opportunity to organize a whole new set of workers as recreational marijuana becomes legal in California.

The United Farm Workers, Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers are looking to unionize the tens of thousands of potential workers involved in the legal weed game, from planters to rollers to sellers. The move could provide a boost to organized labour’s lagging membership – if infighting doesn’t get in the way.

The United Farm Workers, co-founded by iconic labour leader Cesar Chavez, says organizing an industry rooted in agriculture is a natural fit and growers could label their products with the union’s logo as a marketing strategy.

“If you’re a cannabis worker, the UFW wants to talk with you,” national vice-president Armando Elenes said.

But United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents grocery-store employees, meat packers and retail workers, registered its intent to organize cannabis workers across the country.

“We would hope they respect our jurisdiction,” UFCW spokesman Jeff Ferro said.

Teamsters organizer Kristin Heidelbach said there’s no need for unions to battle each other. There will be plenty of workers needing representation as small cannabis businesses run by “happy stoner” types give way to large pharmaceutical corporations, she said.

The green rush that begins in 2018 is an opportunity for unions to regain influence that began declining in the late 1950s, said David Zonderman, a professor of labour history at North Carolina State University. But discord between unions could upend it. As could resistance from cannabis-business leaders.

“Are they going to be new-age and cool with it,” Mr. Zonderman said, “or, like other business people, say, ‘Heck, no. We’re going to fight them tooth and nail?'” Last year, California voters approved sales of recreational marijuana to those 21 and older at licensed shops beginning Jan. 1.

Cannabis in California already is a $22-billion (U.S.) industry, including medical marijuana and a black market that accounts for most of that total, according to University of California, Davis, agriculture economist Philip Martin. Medical marijuana has been legal since 1996, when California was the first state to approve such a law.

Labour leaders estimate recreational pot in California could employ at least 100,000 workers from the north coast to the Sierra Nevada foothills and the San Joaquin Valley, harvesting and trimming the plants, extracting ingredients to put in liquids and edibles and driving it to stores and front doors.

Other pot workers have organized in other states, but California should be especially friendly territory for unions, said Jamie Schau, a senior analyst with Brightfield Group, which does marketing analysis on the marijuana industry.

The state has one of the country’s highest minimum wages and the largest number of unionized workers across industries. Its laws also tend to favour employees.

At least some workers say they’re open to unions.

“I’m always down to listen to what could be a good deal for me and my family,” said Thomas Grier, 44, standing behind the counter at Canna Can Help Inc., a dispensary in the Central Valley community of Goshen.

The dispensary – with $7-million in yearly sales – sells medical marijuana.

Called a “bud tender,” Mr. Grier recently waited on a steady flow of regular customers walking through the door to pick out their favourite strain.

So far, no unions have contacted him, he said. Mr. Grier gets along with his boss and said he doesn’t want to pay union dues for help ironing out workplace disputes. But he hasn’t discounted the possibility of joining.

After recently entering the marijuana industry, Los Angeles resident Richard Rodriguez said one sticky traffic stop three months ago converted him into a “hard core” Teamster. He’d never been in a union until this year.

Mr. Rodriguez said an officer pulled him over delivering a legal shipment of pot and detained him for 12 hours as he was accused of following too closely behind a truck.

A union lawyer stepped in, and Mr. Rodriguez said he was released without being arrested or given a ticket.

“Most companies can’t or are unwilling to do that,” he said, “because employees are easily replaced.”

To read more visit:

Medical Marijuana Reverses Tobacco Caused Ischemia

I don’t think I am making a controversial statement here by saying that weed is probably safer than tobacco. Sure, we are still producing minor carcinogens when combusting cannabis—but without all of the gross additives in cigarettes.

Aside from the big one (cancer), smoking cigarettes can cause a whole plethora of other problems, one being Thromboangiitis obliterans (TO), a disease that displays itself as the clotting of capillary blood vessels in the arteries/veins of our digits (fingers and toes) from inflammation of surrounding tissue. A case study out of Israel found that extensive use of cannabis reversed the effects of TO.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how cannabis may be doing this, let’s quickly go over some of the medical terms we will be seeing. Though the patient exhibited signs of Buerger disease (another name for TO), it was found because of what is called ischemia.

Ischemia is essentially the dying of tissue (skin/muscle)  due to lack of nutrients (i.e. glucose, oxygen, etc.) from poor blood circulation. This lack of blood flow was caused by the clotting from T.O. The disease is a direct result of tobacco use, whether it is smoking or chewing. While the mechanism by which tobacco produces these symptoms is unknown, the only people who have Buerger’s disease smoke tobacco. Interestingly, it appears as though men have a greater likelihood of acquiring Buerger’s disease, though this could be attributed to a higher rate of tobacco usage with men.

OK, let’s now get into the story. How did the doctor know to prescribe cannabis, especially when this relationship between medical marijuana and TO had never before been looked at before? The truth of the matter is that the doctor did not initially prescribe pot.The patient, who we will refer to as Bob, was a heavy smoker, nearly 2.5 packs of cigarettes per day. Bob came into the hospital with severe pain in his foot; he had a massive infection and ischemia due to T.O. It had progressed so bad that Dr. Robinson recommended an amputation below the knee. Bob refused and opted to self-medicate with marijuana, twice daily. After the first six months, his pain had reduced, and it continued to reduce for the next two and a half years. During this time, he also cut back on his cigarette smoking.

With the first six months down, Dr. Robinson was able to prescribe Bob medical cannabis in the form of what is called MCT (medical cannabis treatment), and Bob’s MCT dosage steadily increased over the course of a few years. After three years of MCT, and antibiotics for the initial infection, Bob’s ischemia had almost completely reversed—leaving minimal scarring.

Dr. Robinson attributed the cannabis’ action to the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD, gradually returning blood flow to the ischemic limbs. He did note, however, that this is a case study, and no statistical significance can be attributed to cannabis’ effects on ischemic-reversal until further research is done. Until then, I think this is a beautiful study further showing the potential for cannabis in modern medicine and society!

To read more visit:

Hemp-Based Wellness Goes Mainstre

Want to know why hemp CBD has earned strong sales growth in the natural health and wellness sector? These five big reasons explain it…

Hemp is hot – and it’s soaring popularity impacts multiple retail markets. No longer associated with Cheech and Chong or excessive use of the word ‘dude,’ hemp-based products earned $170 million in sales last year, according to market research firm Brightfield Group.1

The U.S. is the largest consumer market for hemp products worldwide, and the market for hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is on track to reach an astonishing $1 billion by 2020, representing a 55% compound annual growth rate.23

CBD made from hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient associated with marijuana. Often called hemp oil, hemp CBD is now sold in most states and online, making it more accessible than marijuana-derived CBD.4

Hemp CBD market overview
Understandably, demand for hemp CBD products is strongest in states where marijuana is difficult to buy, mostly in the Midwest.5 In terms of distribution channels, Brightfield reports 65% of sales come through e-commerce websites, followed by smoke shops (18%) and dispensaries (9%), as well as health stores and doctor’s offices.

The top five online brands are CW Hemp, PlusCBD Oil, HempMeds (RHSO), Elixinol and CannazALL.6 Among CBD Hemp makers, only three are publicly traded companies with sales of $100,000 or more: CV Sciences, Medical Marijuana, and Laguna Blends.7 This means small and medium players across the U.S. are fueling the market’s massive growth.

5 reasons hemp CBD is so hot
Want to know why hemp CBD has earned strong sales growth in the natural health and wellness sector? These five big reasons explain it:

  1. Versatility
    Hemp products are available in the form of balms, capsules, and drops across diverse product categories such as nutritional supplements, skin care products, beverages, foods, recreational and medicinal uses.8Hemp seeds can be pressed and made into hemp oil to make such items as cleaning products, body care products, building materials, health food, textiles, and plastics.9 Supermarkets have increased their offerings of plant-based milks, including hemp varieties.10
  2. Therapeutic value
    Consumers increasingly turn to hemp CBD products help to solve common health care conditions. For instance, hemp CBD items are used to improve skin health, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote weight loss, digestion and joint pain relief, among other health conditions.11 Among the food and beverage categories, hemp seeds are considered the most nutritious seeds in the world, used for thousands of years as an edible source of fiber.12
  3. Millennial demand
    Boston Consulting Group found 10% of Millennials are cause-driven, environmentally-minded consumers who love hemp-based, recycled, eco-friendly products.13 This generation also greatly values health and wellness. Millennials particularly crave healthy, fresh, on-the-go foods that are convenient – including prepared hemp seed salads. As such, hemp is being marketed to Millennials as a nutrient-rich superfood, as it is high in omega 3 and antioxidants.14
  4. Mainstream appeal
    Several retail giants sell hemp CBD products, adding to the booming industry. Hemp-based clothing and other textiles are readily accessible through companies like Patagonia and REI, plus smaller offers multiple lines of CBD products. However, rather than sell CBD products directly, Walmart uses their website as a third-party seller, meaning the retail giant assumes no legal liability. Amazon is also a third-party provider of CBD products.16Although hemp products are legal, certain retailers distance themselves from these items to mitigate risk to their brand and avoid liability. For instance, although Target advertised four hemp supplement products on their website, the company promptly removed them following media attention.17 While sales of cannabis-derived products could be allowed under certain state-based marijuana programs, selling such products across state lines is illegal. That said, Target sells other hemp-derived food and beauty products, including hemp-seed hearts and hemp-based milk, soaps and shampoos.18
  5. Legislative changes
    While hemp CBD is legal as long as it’s under 0.3% THC content, Americans also demonstrate changing attitudes toward the legalization of recreational marijuana in California and Nevada, which contributes to hemp CBD’s popularity. To date, 31 states have passed legislation that allows hemp farming in line with the 2014 Farm Bill.19 Currently, only 15 states allow CBD, in addition to the 28 states plus Washington DC, which have legalized medical marijuana, Forbes reports.20

Hemp CBD is emerging as a powerful retail trend, impacting grocery, pharmacy, apparel and health and beauty, among other categories. To gain a competitive advantage, retailers and suppliers can educate consumers by emphasizing the wide range of health, wellness and therapeutic applications hemp CBD products offer. Retail companies must also stay up-to-date with evolving political, competitive and consumer trends to stand out and sell in this thriving market.

1, 9, 11, 12. Hemp Seeds Aren’t Just for Hipsters Anymore and Are Going Mainstream. Be Healthy. July 19, 2017.
2, 19. The Growth of the Hemp CBD Markets. Business Insider. May 2, 2017.
3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Borchardt, Debra. Hemp Cannabis Product Sales Projected To Hit $1 Billion In 3 Years. Forbes. August 23, 2017.
8. Consumer Demand and Wave of Innovation in CBD Cannabis Market Exploding. Business Insider. July 25, 2017.
10. Clark, Melissa. Vegan Ice Cream Enters a Golden Age. The New York Times. July 21, 2017.
13. Van Petten, Vanessa. he 6 Gen Y Spending Types: Which One Are You? LearnVest. July 10, 2012.
14. Rivero, Tanya Rivero. Wall Street Journal. The Hemp Craze Comes to Salads. July 10, 2015.
15. Pot’s parent plant produces all sorts of benefits. The Spokesman-Review. September 28, 2017.
16, 17. Thompson, Chris. Target Pulls CBD Products After Offering Them Online. Freedom Leaf. September 29, 2017.
18. Wallace, Alicia. Update: CBD oil hits national stage with — briefly. The Cannabist. September 28, 2017.
20. CBD and Hemp Sales Projected to Remain Strong. The New York Times. October 4, 2017.

Legal Pot Sales Will Hit $10 Billion This Year

North American cannabis sales have once again managed to shatter expectations, with legal pot sales set to hit $10 billion this year

It’s no secret that the cannabis industry is a lucrative one, but it appears we may have underestimated just exactly how lucrative it might be.

While plenty of experts expected the industry to see rapid growth in North America, no one could have predicted the extent to which it’s happening right now.

Record-Breaking Highs

According to a report from Arcview Market Research, retail cannabis sales are set to increase 33 percent from 2016’s figures and hit the $10 billion mark in 2017.

Additionally, researchers believe 2018’s number will increase by an even higher percentage, due to the pending legalization of recreational pot in several prominent areas.

“Aside from cryptocurrency, there is simply no other industry changing as rapidly or as unevenly as the cannabis sector,” said Troy Dayton, CEO of The Arcview Group.

Canada, for example, is set to legalize recreational pot on July 1, 2018. It will become the second country to ever do so after Uraguay did so back in 2013. Canada will, however, own the distinction of being the largest (and most prominent) country to federally legalize the plant.

Nevada, who legalized recreational weed this past July, saw $27 million in sales during its first month of retail. Due to its early success, the state is now expected to expand the industry by introducing cannabis tourism, something that is, by and large, expected to exponentially increase its profits.

But perhaps the biggest contributing factor to another exponential increase is California’s recreational weed market, which will debut in just under a month on January 1.

As it stands, California’s medical marijuana industry (which has now existed for over two decades), is as big as the markets in Colorado, Oregon and Washington… combined. The introduction of recreational pot is poised to drive the market to new highs.

Final Hit: Legal Pot Sales Will Hit $10 Billion This Year

Currently, Arcview projects the legal cannabis market to reach sales of $24.5 billion by 2021. However, this number remains simply an educated guess, as the same experts could not predict the $10 billion figure we are seeing today.

Growth in the burgeoning marijuana market remains exclusively dependent upon states changing their own laws regarding the plant. If certain states like New Jersey, which is currently in discussions to legalize the plant, manage to do so successfully, there’s no telling just how high the market could rise.

And if it ever becomes legal on a federal scale, those original projections would be shattered. Although at this point, that doesn’t seem likely by 2021.

Regardless, what’s happening now is a step in the right direction.

To read more visit:

Why The Green Rush Means A New High In Real Estate Markets

What exactly is causing this new high in real estate markets? As it turns out, cannabis legalization is beneficial to a wide variety of businesses.

Is cannabis legalization causing a new high in real estate markets? Experts in the field seem to think so. Images of people relocating to other states in search of better access to the medicine they need may come to mind. But it’s not just people looking to consume legal weed who are causing a new high in real estate markets. It’s the people who are looking to grow it.

Follow The Green

Now that more states are starting to get in on the Green Rush, more business owners and growers are making their love of the plant public. Marijuana industry hopefuls find themselves making what might be the most important decisions of their lives. Or at least, of their career aspirations. They are considering the possibility of completely uprooting their lives to follow the green. Literally.

Real estate agents and other professionals in the field have noticed a recent boom in the demand for suitable spaces for those in the legal cannabis industry. While it would be understandable to think that the spaces in demand are storefronts, this is not actually the case.

Those working in the property and real estate realm say that the majority of people moving to states with legalized cannabis are looking for appropriate buildings to grow their plants.

The Grass Is Always Greener

So why is the demand for space overwhelmingly for growing, rather than selling?

Part of the reason may be due to the amount of red tape involved in opening and operating a dispensary. The process for obtaining a permit or a license to legally sell cannabis varies state by state. It gets even more specific on a micro level. Different towns, cities and municipalities have their own local ordinances regarding the legal marijuana industry.

Because of this, and because of the increasing need for plants and products, many are choosing to get their hands dirty and sink their nails into the cultivation side of things. And while growing cannabis outdoors is less expensive than indoor grow operations, those in the know are choosing to bring their plants inside.

Although the allure of a less expensive grow operation is strong, the factors working against that option is stronger. A successful outdoor grow is dependent on consistent climate, including ideal levels of humidity, sunshine and rainfall. It’s hard enough to accomplish that, but then you also have to consider things like plant-ruining pests and environmental catastrophes like wildfires.

Cultivating cannabis indoors makes it easier for growers to control all of these variables. This control makes indoor growing, although more expensive, appealing to those in the industry. And so, growers are renting out large, industrial spaces. Once they secure their venue, they’re able to customize it to their liking and tailor it to their specific needs.

Final Hit: Why The Green Rush Means A New High In Real Estate Markets

In true “rush” fashion, nearly every industry is affected by the spreading legalization of cannabis.

While some are finding relief in getting easier legal access to the herb, others are taking advantage of the new business opportunities legalization presents. For growers, this means that they can openly rent spaces to cultivate their plants, which in turn is causing a new high in real estate markets. If nothing else, the evidence is clear and compelling: cannabis legalization stimulates all areas of the economy.

To read more visit:

Invest in Marijuana? 20 Questions You’ll Want to Know the Answers to First

Marijuana stocks have been practically unstoppable over the past couple of years, and they’re certainly attracting their fair share of investors. A majority of pot stocks with a market cap in excess of $200 million have seen their share prices jump by 100%, 200%, or perhaps even more over the trailing one-year period.

Yet, investing in marijuana is no guarantee of success. Opportunities do exist, but there are also plenty of risks. If you’re planning to get it on the green rush, you’ll first want to know the answers to some very critical questions. Whether you’re new to investing or a seasoned veteran, these 20 questions concerning marijuana stocks are for you.

1. What’s the potential for marijuana stocks?

Though it’ll depend on your source, most analysts expect the marijuana industry to grow by 23% to 35% annually over the next five years. Cannabis research firm ArcView believes a compound annual growth rate of 26% will lead to nearly $22 billion in legal North American weed sales by 2021, while Cowen & Co. is looking for $50 billion in U.S. sales alone by 2026.

2. Does the public support legalizing marijuana?

In the U.S., according to both Gallup’s and CBS News’ latest polls, the public is very much in supportof legalizing recreational marijuana. In April, CBS News found that 61% of respondents were in favor of national legalization, while Gallup’s October 2017 survey found 64% support for the idea. A separate survey from the independent Quinnipiac University in April 2017 found 94% favorability toward legalizing medical cannabis compared to just 5% who opposed the idea.

3. Does anyone not support the legalization of marijuana?

Yes. Though most surveys don’t break down the specifics of their data, Gallup has found that a small majority of senior citizens aged 55 and up still favor keeping marijuana illegal. It is worth mentioning, however, that favorability toward pot among seniors has improved in recent years, meaning this last major opponent may soon have a net positive view on pot.

4. Is it legal anywhere?

Yes. Uruguay is the only country in the world right now where recreational and medical marijuana is completely legal. Beyond that, there are around a dozen countries that offer some degree of legal medicinal use. Our neighbors to the north, Canada, legalized medical marijuana back in 2001, and they might become the first developed country to legalize adult-use weed by July 2018. Cannabis is wholly illegal in the U.S., where it’s a Schedule I drug, putting it on par with heroin and LSD.

5. How many states is weed “legal” in the U.S.?

Despite being illegal federally, 29 U.S. states (and the District of Columbia) have passed laws allowing physicians to prescribe medical cannabis since 1996. Furthermore, residents in eight states (and the District of Columbia) since 2012 have passed propositions legalizing the sale of recreational weed.

6. Can it be exported?

Yes, but not from the United States. A small handful of growers in Canada, including Canopy Growth Corp. (NASDAQOTH: TWMJF)Aurora Cannabis (NASDAQOTH: ACBFF), and Aphria(NASDAQOTH: APHQF), have been given the green light to export dried cannabis to foreign markets, like Germany, which have legalized medical weed and have only minimal domestic growing capacity.

7. How is medical cannabis research handled in the U.S.?

Since marijuana is illegal at the federal level, researching cannabis’ benefits and risks is difficult due to legislative red tape. The University of Mississippi has the only federally approved grow farm for researching cannabis in the entire country, making it hard for researchers to make much headway.

8. Is there evidence that medical marijuana is helpful to patients?

Yes and no. Yes, there have been clinical studies demonstrating the positive effects of medical marijuana or its cannabinoids for the patient. For example, GW Pharmaceuticals‘ (NASDAQ: GWPH)lead drug, Epidiolex, demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in seizure frequency in multiple pivotal-stage trials in patients with two rare forms of childhood-onset epilepsy (Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome). At the same time, GW Pharmaceuticals’ Sativex, an oral cannabinoid-based spray approved in the EU, failed miserably in a U.S. cancer pain study. Thus, it appears it can help for certain ailments, but it’s not a cure-all for patients.

9. Why doesn’t the U.S. government want to legalize marijuana?

This is a complex question with no definitive answer. Rather, it involves a confluence of factors. Right now, Republicans are simply too tied up with tax reform and healthcare reform to give marijuana reform the time of day. The GOP also has a less favorable view of pot than Democrats, so they’re less likely to bring reform legislation to the table. Lastly, lawmakers don’t believe there’s enough known about the benefits-versus-risk profile of cannabis, which sways them to stand pat on its current scheduling.

10. So, what’s protecting state-level cannabis businesses right now?

U.S. pot businesses are currently being protected by the Cole Memo and the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. In simple terms, the Cole Memo, named after former Deputy Attorney General James Cole, outlines a series of “rules” states have to follow in exchange for the federal government taking a hands-off approach. These rules include keeping pot out of the hands of minors, and ensuring that weed doesn’t leave a state’s borders. The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which has to be approved each year, ensures that medical weed businesses can’t face federal prosecution for operating in one of the 29 legal states.

11. Could Attorney General Jeff Sessions really kill the U.S. pot industry?

The short answer is yes, but it’d be tough for him to gut the industry. Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions absolutely despises marijuana’s domestic expansion and has gone as far as to send a letter to a few of his colleagues requesting the repeal of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. Without this amendment in place, Sessions could have a field day. He is a major obstacle to the industry.

12. Are there tax implications for U.S. pot businesses?

13. Do U.S. weed companies face other financial constraints?

Also yes. Most marijuana companies are cash-only businesses since banks often want nothing to do with them. Basic financial services, even including a checking account, may be off-limits because financial institutions report to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a federally created entity. If the federal government were to crack down on the weed industry in the future, banks that assist marijuana companies with checking accounts and loans could be criminally charged and/or fined.

14. What other unknowns are holding the industry back?

There are also concerns about what might happen to adolescent access if marijuana were legalized. It’s presumed that legalization would involve a home-grow option, which would in turn give adolescents easy access to weed. Some clinical studies have shown negative impacts to long-term memory for the developing adolescent mind, so this is a clear concern.

Additionally, lawmakers are worried about regulating drivers who use cannabis. Unlike alcohol, which has clear tests for impairment, there are no guidelines for cannabis use. And unlike alcohol, THC from cannabis can stay in a user’s system for days or weeks. That makes testing for use and impairment all the more difficult.

15. Are any marijuana stocks making money?

Yes, a few actually are. For fiscal 2017, both Aphria and MedReleaf (NASDAQOTH: MEDFF) reported full-year profits. In terms of their most recent quarterly reports, just Aurora Cannabis and Aphria delivered a profit. Considering the reinvestment ongoing in the industry right now, most pot stocks are losing money.

16. What pot products offer the highest margins?

Despite what you might believe, dried cannabis and edibles offer rather pedestrian margins. Due to changing consumer habits and growing demand, reinvestment is currently gobbling up a lot of this margin. Instead, cannabis oils tend to have some of the highest margins in the industry. MedReleaf, which tends to target a more affluent medical clientele in Canada, possesses a large chunk of its domestic cannabis oils market.

17. How are pot stocks funding their businesses?

Since most marijuana stocks aren’t profitable, and most have little or no access to traditional banking, common stock offerings in the U.S. and bought-deal offerings in Canada, along with convertible debt issuances, have been the primary means of raising capital. The good news is there’s a lot of excitement surrounding marijuana stocks at present, meaning there have plenty of investors to buy these shares. Unfortunately, it also means dilution galore for existing shareholders.

18. Are marijuana stocks listed on major exchanges?

Although a few are, like GW Pharmaceuticals, most aren’t. A majority of marijuana stocks are either listed on the over-the-counter (OTC) exchanges and/or are penny stocks. The OTC exchanges have made strides in improving listing standards in recent years, but getting up-to-date financial information on listed companies can still be a struggle at times.

19. Are there any marijuana ETFs?

Yes. The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF (TSX: HMMJ) became the very first marijuana ETF ever when it debuted on the Toronto Stock Exchange earlier this year. It currently has a stake in 21 different marijuana companies, including the aforementioned GW Pharmaceuticals, Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth, MedReleaf, and Aphria.

Recently, ETF Managers Group announced that it would soon be shifting the focus of its Tierra XP Latin American Real Estate ETF (NYSEMKT: LARE) away from Latin American real estate and to a cannabis tracking index. The rebranded ETF will be known as the Alternative Agroscience ETF, and it’s expected to take on its new focus as of Dec. 26, 2017. In less than a month, U.S. investors can buy a marijuana ETF of their very own.

20. Is the black market a concern?

Very much so. Despite $6.9 billion in legal sales in North America in 2016, ArcView estimates that $46.4 billion were conducted on the black market. Tax revenue from legal weed is expected to help bolster federal and/or state budgets, but if tax rates are too high, it could drive consumers from legal channels to the black market, which has minimal overhead costs.

The only question left to be answered is this: Is the green rush right for you?

10 stocks we like better than GW Pharmaceuticals

When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now… and GW Pharmaceuticals wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

To read more visit:

What 3 Marijuana Heavyweights Are Doing to Become the P&G of Pot

The companies are developing and nurturing cannabis brands

As the legal marijuana business starts to professionalize, players are emerging who say they want to create multinational franchises and empires, in effect, building the Starbucks or McDonald’s of ganja.

Billy Levy and his partners have other plans.

“We’d rather be like the P&G,” said Levy, managing partner of Green House Brands North America, a cannabis heavyweight that recently launched a global joint venture based in Canada with two other powerhouse pot companies, Canopy Growth and Organa Brands. “We want to set up a home for different brands, nurture them, help them grow and maximize their value.”

Because the future of weed is brands, he said.

That conviction is at the heart of Slang Worldwide, a new partnership between Green House and Organa announced exclusively to Adweek that will try to lead the U.S. market by investing in, acquiring and developing American cannabis brands.

The Slang team will be scouting for popular local and regional brands, for instance, and adding them to the already existing portfolio.

Green House and Organa own Bakked, O.penVAPE, Strain Hunters and Magic Buzz, among others, with distribution in 1,200-plus marijuana dispensaries in 11 states.

District Edibles

“The industry is so fragmented,” said Levy, who’s also Slang’s chief operating officer. “But there are plenty of parallels with other consumer packaged-goods products. There’s no reason we can’t use the same solid business practices.”

In effect, the ganjapreneurs are taking a page from Constellation Brands, the third-largest beer marketer in the U.S. with more than 100 libations in its stable, including Corona and Modelo, Svedka Vodka and Robert Mondavi wine.

In a move its leadership has dubbed forward looking, Constellation recently spent $191 million for a stake in Smiths Falls, Ontario-based Canopy Growth, the world’s largest publicly traded marijuana company with a market cap of $3.8 billion. (The two will develop and market cannabis-infused beverages.)

The same way that Constellation is a “house of brands,” Slang plans to “bring together a whole host of brands that appeal to a wide variety of consumers, as we look to carve out the biggest market share,” said Chris Driessen, Organa’s president.

The legal marijuana market is expected to top $10.2 billion in the U.S. in 2018, according to Euromonitor International, and industry leaders are betting on nationwide legalization in the coming years.

The focus of the first wave of the so-called “green rush” in the U.S. was on cultivation and distribution, but attention is now shifting to marketing and branding.

Meantime, advertising remains tricky for the nascent American category, which often relies on nontraditional and experiential tactics like live events, social media and influencer outreach to musicians, comedians and actors.

Green House

Netherlands-based Green House, with more than 30 years in the business, pioneered the cannabis coffee house with multiple locations in Amsterdam. Its sister brand Strain Hunters, which has a namesake club in Spain, has succeeded in content marketing with 150 million views of its digital documentaries. Those videos follow founder Arjan “King of Cannabis” Roskam as he travels the world searching for rare and unusual strains of pot. Stoked by the launch of Slang, there will be more short films for digital and mobile and possibly a Strain Hunters series on a major streaming platform, execs said.

Slang plans to have a coming out party, of sorts, next April in Denver with concerts and activities featuring a decidedly upscale and mature (nonstoner-dude) tone, said Organa co-founder Jeremy Heidl, who notes that Slang aims to turn strong-selling products like District Edibles into “household names.”

WDJ Creative Thinking, Toronto, and Nue Agency in New York will lead Slang’s marketing charge, which may include alliances with mainstream brands “that once upon a time you never expected to play in this space,” said Alex Kirshbaum, president of Nue. “We look forward to the day that ‘This bud’s for you’ is no longer solely Anheuser-Busch InBev’s classic tagline for an alcoholic beverage.”

To read more visit:

Texas’ Medical Cannabis Program Kicks Off in January — But It’s No Green Rush

Texas’ Compassionate Use Act is a limited medical marijuana program, allowing only patients with epilepsy to purchase CBD products, and the cannabis community isn’t happy about it.

Image via Nastasic

Medical marijuana is due to go on sale in Texas by the beginning of 2018, but this for sure is no Green Rush. Texas’ Compassionate Use Act, passed in 2015, will only allow CBD formulations to be sold exclusively to patients with intractable epilepsy. Cannabis flower is prohibited under the program, and products may contain no more than .5 percent THC. Meanwhile, only three companies are licensed to grow and sell cannabis (from one vertically-integrated facility each) to serve an estimated 150,000 epilepsy patients throughout the state.

While it’s exciting medical marijuana will be legally grown at all in such a conservative state, says Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, she fears the program may not be viable. “It’s unreasonably restrictive,” she says. “Flaws in the program lead us to be concerned that it won’t be fully operational.”

With so few storefronts (two of which are based in the Austin area), each dispensary/cultivation facility could hypothetically need to service tens of thousands of patients. But for now the statewide patient base is still relatively small. “It’s certainly an issue we’ve looked at,” says Morris Denton, CEO of Compassionate Cultivation, one of Texas’s three licensed medical marijuana companies, based just outside Austin. “We started growing on Halloween and it will take 100 days before the extraction process, so we don’t know what our patient ramp will look like until early 2018,” he says. “We’re assuming it will be a conservative ramp, but it’s difficult to forecast what the demand will be. That’s one of the big unknowns right now that keeps me awake at night.”

While every patient surely won’t be able to visit one of the Lone Star State’s three dispensaries, the companies themselves will have the option to deliver the medicine. They can’t, however, hire outside distribution services.

Despite the program’s limitations, it does offer a sense of security to patients who may otherwise be at the mercy of trusting grocery store chains selling bunk CBD. “We’ve tested a lot of those products in our lab, and zero percent were accurate in terms of what they had on the label versus what’s in them,” says Denton. “They’re garbage — but Joe and Jane Consumer who’ve heard of the wonders of CBD go to the supermarket, see something on the shelf, think it will be great, and then 99.9 percent of the time, it’s a placebo.”

Nonetheless, Denton, like most other cannabis industry folk and activists, supports expanding the program. “Texas as a conservative state has been more cautious with the inclusion of THC in their medical program, but we’ve seen other states like Florida that have gone rather quickly from a narrow market to a broad market from a medical perspective,” he says.

“Texas really likes to view itself as this maverick trendsetter state,” says Connor Oakley, legislative director of the Medical Cannabis Association of Texas. “There’s this sense of independence from the federal government in some way, so it makes sense to me that Texas is moving forward in this program, but they’re also very resistant to THC. Texas has been a battleground state in the movement.”

While even a CBD-only program is a step in the right direction, popular opinion seems to be ahead of the legislation. For instance, a number of cities in Texas, such as Houston, have passed “cite and release” ordinances for anything under four ounces of bud — meaning you won’t go to jail, but instead be subject to a ticket or court appearance. But that’s still a far cry from liberalizing the state’s medical marijuana program.

“Since it’s a border state, I think people are a bit more tense about anything they think is drug-related, but maybe they won’t feel that way as much when they see this program is successful and helping people,” Oakley adds. “I think Texas sets a precedent, so one can hope that they can watch what we’re doing in Texas and [what’s] happening in other states.”

As far as reforming the program, Texas’s legislature only meets every other year. It’s a safe bet that expanding the program — to include a broader range of patients and additional forms of cannabis — will become an issue during the 2019 session.

Eighty-three percent of Texans are in favor of medical access [to cannabis]; even the [state] Republican party itself is open to making the program more inclusive and allowing doctors to decide whether a patient can use cannabis for medicine,” says Fazio. “Our goal is to add to the list of qualifying conditions and remove the cap on THC, which is arbitrary. It’s frustrating that legislators in Texas saw THC in cannabis as the boogieman.”

But above and beyond the limitations of Texas’s medical marijuana program, Fazio is also concerned about the December 8th expiration of the federal budget, which currently includes a provision (formerly known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment)forbidding the Department of Justice from going after state-legal medical marijuana programs. If it’s not renewed, even Texas’s limited CBD-only medical program could be at risk. “Now here we are, at the cusp of real opportunity to bring Texans legal access to [cannabis] with the expansion of the Compassionate Use program,” says Fazio, but a number of puzzle pieces continue to be at play. For the moment, all Texas’ cannabis advocates can do is wait and see.

To read more visit: