Monthly Archives: July 2018

The Rise of ‘Weed Tech’: Cannabis Tech Sector Flourishes in Lead Up to Legalization

A growing number of Canadian tech entrepreneurs are betting big on the future of cannabis in the lead up to legalization later this year. These “weed tech,” or “canna tech,” companies, as they are sometimes called, are hoping to cash in on the new legal market by creating specialized software and hardware to serve the cannabis industry and consumers.

Investor interest, so far, has focused mostly on companies cultivating cannabis. But the ancillary market, which includes industry-specific technology as well as other offshoots, such as consumption devices and security, is predicted to be sizable. A Deloitte study predicts Canada’s upcoming legal recreational market could be worth as much as $8.7-billion a year, and with ancillary operations thrown in, the number jumps to $22.6-billion.

“We’re like the plumbing of the cannabis industry,” said John Prentice, founder and chief executive of Ample Organics Inc., a seed-to-sale software company that helps producers with compliance requirements and inventory tracking. “If you’re going into a licensed facility and [are] trying to figure out how many plants are in a grow room, what they’re being manufactured into and who’s buying the product, our software is the system that tracks that.”

For investors, the appeal of weed tech is simple: They can try to reap the rewards of the market without taking on all the legal and financial risks that can come with direct involvement in the production and sale of cannabis products, which are still illegal federally in the United States. Plus, some investors may feel more comfortable investing in ancillary businesses, given the lingering stigma that can still be associated with cannabis.

The increased interest is benefiting companies such as Toronto’s Ample Organics. Founded in 2014, the software firm closed a Series A round of financing in early July, raising $7-million from investors including Green Acre Capital and Osmington Inc. (which is controlled by David Thomson, whose family holding company owns The Globe and Mail).

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Dry Leaf Medical Marijuana Coming to State Dispensaries

PENNSYLVANIA — Some medical marijuana patients will soon have a more cost-effective option available.

Dispensaries can start selling dry leaf marijuana on Wednesday, August 1.

Patients could only buy oil or pills before.

It goes on sale at dispensaries in Scranton and Williamsport on Wednesday.

It goes on sale in Edwardsville and State College can start selling it next week.

For more information from the Department of Health and the full list of dispensaries, click here.

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Medical marijuana offers relief

Ron Boyles of Tyrone uses a wide range of substances derived from marijuana to combat many of his health issues. He is the president and founder of Green Bridge Society, an organization intended to guide certified patients through the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.

In 1999, Ron Boyles injured his back, had surgery and was “thrown into” pain management, mostly relying on opioid medications.

“I spent the next 10 months in the doctor’s office two to three times a week,” he said. “I lost most of my adult life to my health and medications.”

In addition to opioid painkillers, antidepressants, heart medication and blood thinners became part of Boyles’ daily routine.

“I really thought if I got off the opiates, that would be it. I would be fine,” he said.

Then, in 2015, he heard about a possible alternative to treat his underlying pain — marijuana, an illegal drug in Pennsylvania that had found legitimacy elsewhere as medicine.

“And I did it the first time,” Boyles said, not shying away from the fact that he purchased the drug illegally. “It helped me immediately.”

The effects were great, he said, but Boyles admitted he was conflicted.

“I realized I didn’t want to be a criminal,” he said.

So he made a trip to Colorado — a trip he said lasted multiple months.

In Colorado, marijuana had already been approved as a legal medicine.

And since April 2016, the same is true in Pennsylvania, where residents suffering from a list of specified illnesses can be certified to purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries.

And now, Boyles is back, living in Bald Eagle, where he operates as the president and founder of Green Bridge Society, an organization intended to guide certified patients through the state’s Medical Marijuana Program, helping to familiarize them with various products and potencies.

“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing between patients and doctors and news people,” he said of the attention his service is getting.

“I want this to work for people because it does work,” Boyles continued. “I see a time where everybody is going to have this in their medicine cabinet.”

21 specified conditions

For now, only those suffering from a list of 21 specified “serious medical conditions” can be certified by a qualified doctors to purchase the drug.

But before visiting a dispensary, patients must register a profile with the Department of Health, receive physician certification and pay a $50 fee to get a marijuana identification card, according to the state Department of Health.

Those cards, in addition to state ID, must be shown each time a marijuana product is purchased from a certified dispensary.

As of late June, 47,723 patients in Pennsylvania were registered to consume medical marijuana, 25,108 marijuana identification cards were purchased and 70,162 “patient dispensing activities”were recorded, said Nate Wardle, a Department of Health spokesman.

The term “patients” refers to both adults and children.

Most children participating in the state’s medical marijuana program suffer from serious illnesses like debilitating seizures and cancer, said April Hutcheson, a spokeswoman with the Department of Health.

For children, medical marijuana is purchased and administered by caregivers — a person 21 or older, who is a parent, legal guardian or spouse of a patient. Caregivers must register with the Department of Health and complete a criminal history background check.

And caregivers can also be designated by adult patients who are homebound.

Use by children is somewhat complicated by their required attendance at schools, places where marijuana use has historically been prohibited, maligned and discouraged.

Schools on hold

But both the state departments of Health and Education support a “Safe Harbor Letter,” which calls for the allowance of a caregiver to administer medical marijuana to a child on school property, as long as it does not cause a distraction for other students.

“It’s a recommended policy,” Hutcheson said.

Under that recommendation, students themselves may not possess medical marijuana on school property, but visiting caregivers can administer the drug in a secure, private location.

That is only after a school principal is provided with a copy of the Safe Harbor Letter and is notified of “each instance in which the parent or caregiver will administer the medical marijuana,”according to the Department of Health.

A principal is then supposed to notify a school nurse about each of those instances.

Within Altoona Area School District, no medical marijuana policy is yet in place, said Paula Foreman, the district’s community relations director.

“I know it’s a topic of review,” she said. “We don’t have anything formal in place as of yet.”

In Hollidaysburg Area School District, the situation is much the same, Superintendent Robert Gildea said, noting no policy has been adopted.

“We’re prepared to follow the advice of the solicitor,” he said.

Officials at Ebensburg’s Central Cambria school district are waiting on the direction of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Superintendent Jason Moore said.

However, the district is in a unique situation because several medical professionals sit on the Central Cambria board, Moore said.

“We sort of defer to them on those medical issues,” he said.

Moore, who also sits on the Greater Johnstown School District Board, said he is unaware of existing medical marijuana policies in Ebensburg or Johnstown.

Pennsylvania School Boards Association officials did not return a message seeking comment for this article.

Similar complications may exist in cases where patients are prohibited from consuming marijuana as a stipulation of parole or probation or in cases when an employer disallows use of the drug, Hutcheson said.

“An employee can’t be fired for using medical marijuana, I know that,” she said.

Hutcheson shared language in existing regulations that backs her remark.

“No employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee … solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana,” it reads.

However, employers are not required to offer special accommodations for on-site consumption, and they are permitted to discipline employees whose use of medical marijuana results in “conduct … below the standard of care normally accepted for that position.”

Despite its complicated beginning, Boyles said prospective patients should not be discouraged from pursuing the drug, which he said has vast health benefits.

“My life has completely changed,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.

Conditions that qualify

Serious medical conditions that qualify Pennsylvania residents for medical marijuana use, according to the state Department of Health:

– Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

– Autism

– Cancer, including remission therapy

– Crohn’s disease

– Damage to the nervous tissue

– Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders

– Epilepsy

– Glaucoma


– Huntington’s disease

– Inflammatory bowel disease

– Intractable seizures

– Multiple sclerosis

– Neurodegenerative diseases

– Neuropathies

– Opioid use disorder

– Parkinson’s disease

– Post-traumatic stress disorder

– Severe, chronic or intractable pain

– Sickle cell anemia

– Terminal illness

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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, 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 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.”

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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.

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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.

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Jamaica’s medical marijuana industry

Jamaica is moving to establish a medical marijuana industry, according to Audley Shaw, minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

He said the government is moving to ensure that Jamaica is not left behind in the growing medical cannabis industry.

Shaw noted that while Jamaica has only decriminalized the use of up to two ounces of marijuana and issued a few licenses for production and processing, the product is now legal in Canada, and 31 states in the United States have been producing and using it for medicinal and recreational purposes.

Shaw said Jamaica needs to move quickly to take advantage of opportunities in the growing of cannabis and manufacture of its products.

The minister said he was working with the Ministry of Health and the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) “to move faster and more aggressively to reach the level of world competition, adding: “Time is not on our side.”

Shaw was at the time addressing a recent Agricultural Technology Symposium under the theme “Sustained Growth in the Agriculture Sector with Science and Technology Engineering,” held at Isratech Jamaica Limited Group of Companies in Kingston.

The symposium focused on several key topics, including the “Legislative Implications of the Dangerous Drugs Act (2015): and Medicinal Cannabis Product Innovative.

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Federalism and marijuana

Early in the Reagan administration, legal advisers from all the agencies were brought into a meeting at the White House. Copies of an executive order from the new president were circulated to each.

They all assumed it was a first draft. So they all took out their pens and started marking it up, representing the interests of their agency concerning what a final draft should say. They were each shocked when they got to the end, and found that it was already signed by President Reagan.

The executive order addressed the issue of federalism, which refers to the doctrine that power, authority and funding should flow down to the 50 states. Previously, the trend in the 20th century had been the opposite, centralizing power, authority and money in Washington.

But federalism was so important to Mr. Reagan, that he was not interested in hearing what his executive branch agencies thought about it by circulating a draft to them first. His executive order commanded the agencies to follow the principles of federalism in every decision they made, favoring more power, authority and funding down to the states unless there was an overriding reason to the contrary.

That is the same position that candidate Trump took during the 2016 election. Federalism allows the 50 states to conduct 50 experiments on any issue, and political competition among the states will push them to all adopt what is proven to work best. Of course, the 50 states vary a lot on local conditions and preferences, so federalism allows each state to adopt what would work best for them.

That is why Mr. Reagan, and now President Trump, and the Founding Fathers of America, who designed the Constitution on the principles of federalism, all have favored it. Mr. Trump has emphasized federalism on the issue of medical marijuana in particular.

Mr. Trump said at a rally in Nevada as early as October 2015, “I know people who are very, very sick and for whatever reason the marijuana really helps them — but in terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.” Marijuana has proven very effective medically especially for people suffering from chronic pain, particularly people whose pain cannot be relieved otherwise.

Even for recreational use, Mr. Trump favored the states to decide on complete legalization. In February 2017, Mr. Trump said on a Colorado TV station, “I think it’s up to the states. I’m a states person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely.”

On medical marijuana, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have already legalized it. In 2014, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher first inserted an amendment into a federal spending bill to prevent the Justice Dept. from prosecuting medical marijuana businesses that comply with their state’s laws, while outdated federal law still bans it. 

But in May, Mr. Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Congress demanding that Mr. Rohrabacher’s funding rider be eliminated. Mr. Sessions said it was his duty to enforce supreme federal law under the rule of law, even though the federal Controlled Substances Act is “a woefully out-of-date law that says marijuana is as addictive as heroin and has no medical value,” in the words of a Los Angeles Times editorial.

But Mr. Sessions is acting contrary to what is now Republican Party principle. The Party platform states, “Federalism is a cornerstone of our constitutional system. Every violation of state sovereignty by federal officials is an assault on the liberties of individual Americans. Hence, the promise of the Tenth Amendment.”

Indeed, in May House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Speaker Paul Ryan in a joint press release, “Federalism is not a Republican or a Democrat principle, but an American principle — and one that is integral to a thriving culture and economy. But in recent years, the principle of federalism has been slowly chipped away by an overzealous federal government.”

This is in accord today with bipartisan public opinion on medical marijuana. An August 2017 Quinnipiac poll found Americans favoring state control over medical marijuana laws by an overwhelming 94 percent to 4 percent, including 90 percent to 7 percent for Republicans.

Indeed, the poll found Americans favoring complete state legalization of marijuana 75 percent to 20 percent. An October Gallup poll found 64 percent favoring state legalization, up from 12 percent in 1969, when Gallup first started polling the question. Gallup found a majority of Republicans (51 percent) now favoring state legalization as well.

So Mr. Trump has both principle and public opinion behind him. Mr. Sessions should follow his boss’s lead.

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Keep Calm and Live in New York City: The Promise of CBD, the Cannabis Chemical That Won’t Get You High

Cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive chemical found in the marijuana and hemp plants, has become the latest ingredient to invade New York’s wellness space.

One morning, about a month ago, I walked out of my Brooklyn apartment on a quick mission to buy shampoo and ended up having six drops of CBD, the cannabis-based elixir, administered beneath my tongue by a Coloradan named Bodē. Such things are liable to happen in New York City these days. Bodē was in Zoë’s Beauty Products, my local cosmetics store in Greenpoint, talking up a line of CBD tinctures to the women behind the counter. It was obvious from his laid-back vibe, and his R.E.I.-inspired look, that he was not from the area. I might have ignored his pitch, and gone about my business browsing aisles of thirty-dollar conditioner and lilac hand creams, except that CBD—also known as cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive chemical, found in marijuana and hemp plants, that has become the latest trendy ingredient among the wellness crowd—had been pursuing me around the city like the monster from “It Follows.”

It started earlier this year, when an acquaintance mentioned that she uses CBD to sleep. “It doesn’t get you high, it just chills you out,” she said. Later, I attended a crowded CBD yoga workshop, where an instructor named Brianna (who is now a field rep for a CBD-oil brand called Prime My Body) had us all ingest a dropperful of green goo from a communal bottle before settling into a series of restorative poses. After the class, one man proclaimed, to no one in particular, “I was so relaxed, I might have stopped breathing for a few minutes.” Then three coffee shops down the block from where I live started offering CBD-infused coffee. My local pharmacy hung a sign in the window proclaiming “Yes, We Have CBD!,” and 3 Roots, a juice bar in the neighborhood, put out a sandwich board with a laundry list of alleged CBD benefits scrawled in pink neon marker: “Anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressive, anti-psychotic, anti-tumoral, anti-anxiety, antioxidant, mood-boosting.”

So I approached Bodē, who told me that his line of products, Bodē Wellness, which he makes in a tiny town near Telluride, includes two strengths of concentrated oil and two body balms—one unscented and one lemongrass, “for the ladies.” All are derived from industrial hemp, which contains almost no THC, making it legal to sell across state lines (though the legality of hemp is still somewhat murky). I told him that I had tried CBD in coffee, but that I hadn’t been able to feel its effects. He suggested that I try around 10mg of his strongest tincture, and that I hold the oil under my tongue for a minute before swallowing, to encourage “total absorption.” Then he offered to squeeze a dropperful into my mouth, right in the middle of the store. The oil was the brownish color of a stagnant pond, and tasted like old bong water with a hint of lemon. After ingesting it—perhaps, I will admit, because I really wanted to believe—I thought I felt something, a creeping sensation of serenity. I walked over to the East River and sat on a bench facing the water for almost an hour, feeling tranquil and unruffled, as if my nerves had been soaked in chamomile tea.

Later, in a phone call (which we scheduled around his farm’s “siesta schedule;” he returns to the fields at 4:21 p.m., “CBD Hemp time”), Bodē told me that his given name is Eric. He’d gotten into CBD after a girlfriend who was “working in the marijuana industry but really wanted to be a hempster” started dragging him along to hemp conferences. He had been working for more than a decade in natural foods, and had recently exited a marriage; he decided it was time for a change of scene, and a change of name. “I wanted my new name to feel like the tree of life, Bodhi, but also have this flair of body health and wellness,” he said. “And then I had seen someone else put the macron over a vowel in their name, so that’s how that happened.” After successfully peddling his wares to the beauty store, he told me, he’d continued through Brooklyn, like a hippie Harold Hill. The health-food devotees at the Park Slope Food Co-op, he said, had also agreed to carry Bodē Wellness. “They have seventeen thousand members,” he told me. “That’s more people than the town next to me in Colorado.”

Like many New Yorkers, I tend to be deeply wary of the nouveau-wellness movement that has crept into the city from L.A., with its Goopian buzzwords and mushroom tonics and colloidal silver—the idea that you can shop your way to an internal glow. New York’s CBD craze has already reached Dadaesque levels of consumerism—hundred-dollar tinctures to treat anxiety in pet cats and dogsCBD-laced room service at the NoMad location of the James hotel, in Manhattan. But CBD, with its potential to unclench tense muscles and pacify anxious thoughts, also promises to deliver something that many New Yorkers desperately need. Some of us will try anything that promises to soften the city’s edge, especially if it doesn’t require a prescription. Verena von Pfetten, a co-editor of the New York-based marijuana life-style magazine Gossamer, told me that her personal CBD regimen includes five to fifteen milligrams of tincture nightly, with an occasional extra daytime dose during mentally taxing periods. “With it, I can have an even amount of sleep, and avoid significant periods of stress,” she said. “This is about consistently keeping your body at a regular equilibrium.”

CBD also provides New Yorkers an alluring first whiff of mainstream cannabis culture at a time when the state’s leaders, having lagged behind other East Coast states in legalizing marijuana, seem to finally, maybe be coming around. (Mayor Bill De Blasio recently ordered the N.Y.P.D. to issue summonses instead of arresting people for smoking weed; Cynthia Nixon, in her campaign to challenge Andrew Cuomo for governor, has been outspoken about how marijuana’s criminalization disproportionately affects people of color.) Even if New Yorkers can’t yet enjoy carefully dosed artisanal weed gummies and attend multi-course marijuana dinners (at least not many), we can perhaps, with glugs of CBD in our matcha shakes, regulate and optimize our moods in the way we imagine West Coasters are doing every day. Better still, hemp-derived CBD, absent weed’s psychoactive effects, is palatable to the high-achieving New Yorker who still thinks of marijuana as a stoner’s drug, or at least a threat to productivity—you can swill a little at your local coffee shop in the morning, alongside your fellow-commuters, and still put in a ten-hour workday.

It’s worth noting, too, that many doctors believe that CBD has genuine medicinal value. Just last month, the F.D.A. approved a CBD-based drug for the treatment of Dravet syndrome, a childhood epilepsy disorder. I spoke to Esther Blessing, a psychiatry professor at N.Y.U., who believes that cannabidiol “is unprecedented in the field of neuropsychiatry” because it appears to have the potential to treat a wide variety of disorders—its best-documented effect is its ability to increase levels of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that counteracts stress. But she says that the research is still preliminary, and the unregulated market for CBD means that consumers are left to sort out the hemp oil from the snake oil. Yasmin Hurd, a doctor at Mount Sinai who uses four-hundred- to eight-hundred-milligram doses to study CBD’s benefit in opioid-addiction treatment, told me that hoping for therapeutic effects from a dosage as low as what’s found in commercial products like CBD coffees, which tend to contain only around twenty-five milligrams, is “ridiculous.” Joshua Kaplan, a neuroscientist whose upcoming research on CBD’s effects on epilepsy, anxiety, and autism will involve “vaping with mice”—said that the research he’s seen indicates that taking small doses of five to twenty-five milligrams multiple times a day could, “in theory,” help reduce anxiety levels over time. “Does one dose of twenty-five-milligram CBD do much of anything for an adult with anxiety?” he said. “The data don’t support it.”

The practice of small, daily CBD dosing is what Ron Silver, the owner of Bubby’s, a comfort-food restaurant with two outposts in Manhattan, tells me he wants to popularize among New Yorkers. Silver recently started offering a CBD-infused sugar called Azuca on Bubby’s coffee menu. I sat with him recently on the patio of the restaurant’s West Village location, which had started to fill with overheated tourists who had spilled off of the High Line, looking to recharge with twenty-one-dollar banana nut pancakes. We sipped on ten-dollar Azuca-sweetened iced coffees, served in tall glasses with green-and-white swizzle straws. (The restaurant also serves Azuca pink lemonade, Azuca iced tea, and, for three dollars more, Azuca watermelon lemonade.) Each beverage, Silver told me, contains only around twenty-five milligrams of CBD, but he believes that drinking one a day can have profound anti-inflammatory and stress-relieving effects over time. “I introduced it here, because right now if someone wants a CBD coffee at Starbucks they can’t get one,” he said. “But they should serve them, and one day they will.”

Silver, a native of Utah, has been in New York for decades, but he has retained a vaguely Lebowskian air from years spent on the West Coast. He started developing Azuca five years ago, when he was looking to get further into the “cannabis space” and wanted to make a product that he could actually sell at Bubby’s, which he considers to be a kind of live-beta testing ground. (He is also developing a line of THC-based edibles based in Massachusetts.) He told the newspaper amNewYork that CBD was “the penicillin of the 21st century.” When I asked him if he meant that as cheeky hyperbole—penicillin, after all, has saved millions of lives—he said that he stands by the statement. “There’s two aspects to the whole CBD thing,” he said. “One is that it is trendy and could easily fall into the same trend as turmeric or coconut oil. The other, though, is that it actually works.”

Not long ago, I purchased a small bottle of “full spectrum hemp extract” from Bluebird Botanicals, another Colorado-based company, which is sold at a local drugstore. It cost twenty-five dollars and contained two hundred and fifty milligrams of CBD. If you consider this ten doses of twenty-five milligrams at $2.50 each, it sounds like a pretty good deal for an anti-anxiety supplement. It’s less than a latte; it’s cheaper than therapy. But investing in a multiple-times-a-day habit seems like a lot to wager on a product that is still so little understood. I kept the bottle in the fridge (apparently this keeps the oil fresh, though I do it because it dulls the taste) and used it only sporadically, which likely defeats the point. I took an emergency dose when I was in the throes of a migraine; I also took two extra-strength Tylenol and—why not—rubbed some eucalyptus essential oil on my temples. The next morning, I went into Littleneck Outpost, another coffee shop in my neighborhood. They had just put up a new sign next to the register advertising CBD coffee and five-hundred-and-twenty-milligram bottles of Plant People brand extract, priced at eighty dollars. When I asked the owner how it’s selling, he told me that it’s “flying.” “I think it’s a placebo effect,” he said. “But this is definitely the turmeric of 2018.”

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It’s on us – A millennial’s view of the legalization of cannabis

Again, for some perspective on how legalization of cannabis will impact the population, we turned to millennial reporter and all-round good guy, Kyle Moore.  This is his perspective on the rollout, and how he thinks the impact will be felt.

Nationwide cannabis legalization has been like a child who’s had too much sugar; hard to follow and a lot of adults trying to control it. Now, I get it, cannabis has always carried the burden negative stigma. It’s a controlled substance with psychoactive chemicals and self-impairing properties, and according to a 2016 study, has directly contributed to the hospitalization of over 77,000 Canadians.  Oh no wait….that’s alcohol.

Pure, processed, and unlaced cannabis can lead to mental health issues later in life if overused, similar to alcohol, and according to MADD, is found in the blood stream of around 300 people responsible for fatal crashes annually in Canada. Now, 300 deaths is clearly too many, but the number is still significantly less than alcohol.

The exact number of deaths where cannabis was a contributing factor is hard to calculate, but the number of overdoses and excessive use related deaths isn’t, because it’s zero. So then why does this plant that is significantly less dangerous than alcohol and has been proven to have medically helpful properties only becoming legally available for adult use now?

Well, it’s because the government needed to put a plan in place to be able to make adult use cannabis profitable, and also knew they needed a progressive demographic to support the new movement. Cue the millennial’s. With Oct. 17, 2018, the apparent date of legalization fast approaching after the government voted yes on Bill C-45, what does this mean for the young adults of New Brunswick?

Well, it means we have the chance to be the foundation of change surrounding cannabis. As adults who have been legally allowed to consume alcohol for only a few years, we are being introduced to legal adult use cannabis at a time when we are constantly learning and developing opinions on controlled substances. This consequently means we are being tasked with either re-enforcing any negative stigma, or rebranding cannabis in our own light; the choice will quite literally be in our hands.

As new and potentially unexposed consumers of mainstream cannabis, we are going to be a hugely influential demographic to the cannabis market because we’re the demographic that will be dedicated consumers for the longest time. Social media outlets have allowed us to see the benefits in places where cannabis has been legalized like Colorado, where they have seen cannabis sales help fund arts programs, infrastructure, and has also lowered crime rates.

These benefits will not be immediate as everybody of legal age adapts to the new market but if we as the youngest consumer demographic decide to support government regulated cannabis there’s a significance chance we will eventually see an uptick in provincial care and quality of life.

Cannabis NB will be offering 200-250 different skews (strains) of marijuana, a number the black market can’t compete with. This makes cannabis safer, and more specifically cultivated for each young adult user who walks through the doors of a Cannabis NB store. The area in which millennials are at risk in the province is the party culture and how legal adult use marijuana will be incorporated into parties and social interactions.

Cannabis NB will include as much health related information as possible when purchasing their products, but it’s going to be up to us to self-regulate and impose boundaries when it comes to consuming alcohol and marijuana in the same social setting. It would be naïve to believe it won’t happen, so it’s on each individual to control themselves. This is a massive opportunity to shape the way society and future generations approach cannabis and it’s going to start here and now with you and me.

Put simply, it’s on us.

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