Andrey Kukushkin, one of four businessmen indicted last week in a complex campaign finance investigation, is an officer at THC in Sacramento, according to reporting by Theresa Clift, Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow at the Sacramento Bee.
Kukushkin is one of two named permit holders for THC, and he is the CFO of a company called Sharp Source, which, according to the Bee, owns THC. (As far as the business, THC stands for Twelve Hour Care.)
Garib Karapetyan is also named on the THC permit; he holds another seven cannabis retail dispensaries in Sacramento. The city allows a maximum of 30 cannabis retail storefronts.
The Bee points out that there is no overt connection between the funding for Karaptyan’s cannabis businesses and the broader campaign finance scheme detailed in a federal indictment—yet.
Broadly speaking, the investigation has targeted a cohort of foreign-born U.S. businessmen diverting international funds into U.S. political campaigns, including to Nevada politicians who may have been in a position to assist the four indicted men with cannabis business licensing in that state. The web of investigations is closely linked with the ongoing presidential impeachment inquiry in Washington, D.C., including the men’s ties to President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
Now that the campaign finance investigation has reeled in Kukushkin, the network of shared ownership interests in Sacramento’s cannabis market is under a microscope. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has called for an investigation into Karapetyan’s consolidation of ownership in Sacramento’s cannabis market—and Kukushkin’s involvement.
“If this story is true, then our cannabis licensing process, which was designed to protect consumers and reward local law-abiding businesses, is being improperly exploited,” spokeswoman Mary Lynne Vellinga said in a public statement. “The mayor is calling for an immediate investigation and will lead an effort to add additional safeguards to the licensing process.”
Two sets of questions are raised here.
One is local: How did Karaptyan come to hold so many of the city’s cannabis dispensaries? And how is the city just now coming to realize the degree of ownership consolidation? What was Kukushkin’s involvement in the Sacramento businesses?
The other set of questions is an international concern: What is the extent of the campaign finance investigation’s inroads into the U.S. cannabis industry? Who else is involved?
Chris Kudialis at Leaflytook a stab at the latter, detailing the misadventures of the four businessmen and their attempts at manipulating elections in Nevada to tilt the cannabis licensing process in their favor. Kukushkin, who already had a foothold in the California cannabis industry, played a visible role in this scheme.
According to the unsealed indictment in the Southern District of New York, Kukushkin was actively involved in funneling foreign cash into the 2018 gubernatorial race in Nevada, though he’d admitted to his fellow campaign finance violators that they were “two months too late to the game unless we change the rules,” referring to Nevada’s licensing deadlines last year. The businessmen sought to elect a Republican governor who could then nudge forward legislative amendments to Nevada’s cannabis law. Adam Laxalt, the Republican candidate in question, went on to lose the November 2018 election.
Read the full indictment below. The cannabis information begins at the bottom of page 10.
Along with the four businessmen, an unnamed “Foreign National 1” is listed in the indictment as the benefactor of this cannabis industry campaign finance scheme.
Mother Jones has connected a few dots and put forth an educated guess as to who Foreign National 1 might be—namely, a Russian businessman named Andrey Muraviev, who created a cannabis company in California with none other than Kukushkin and Karapetyan. The three men started a business called Legacy Botanical Company LLC, the license for which has since been suspended by the state of California. Muraviev’s role in the broader campaign finance investigation is as yet unconfirmed.
Nonetheless, after all of that, it’s clear that the campaign finance violations unfolding alongside the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s political dealings in Ukraine have at least some sort of connection to the cannabis industry. As this story develops, we’ll continue to track just how it all fits together.
TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–PRESS RELEASE–FSD Pharma Inc. has announced the appointment of former U.S. Congressman Stephen Buyer to the company’s Board of Directors. The company also announced that it will complete a consolidation of its class A multiple voting shares and its class B subordinate voting shares, each on a 1 to 201 basis.
“In welcoming Steve Buyer to the FSD Pharma Board of Directors and announcing a share consolidation, the company has made an immense positive stride forward” said Raza Bokhari, MD, executive co-chairman and CEO. “Steve’s addition has further strengthened the independence and profile of the FSD Pharma Board of Directors; his broad leadership experience and pharmaceutical industry relationships will help enhance our visibility, especially among U.S. Institutional investors and on U.S. Capitol Hill. The share consolidation or reverse split of our stock is timed to advance our strategic plan to raise the profile of our company in the U.S. capital markets, which includes listing on a major U.S. stock exchange in the near future.”
“I’m pleased to be joining the FSD Pharma Board of Directors. The opportunity to participate in FSD’s growth at this stage is exciting. Unfortunately, auto immune diseases have clustered in my wife’s family. I am attracted by FSD’s medical research to tame and define the unknown by challenging the edges of medical science to provide relief to people suffering from fibromyalgia and other serious illnesses,” stated Buyer.
Stephen Buyer was a member of the United States House of Representatives, serving nine consecutive terms from January 1993 to January 2011. During Congressman Buyer’s long tenure in the Congress, he served on the Committees on Veterans Affairs, Armed Services, Judiciary, Energy and Commerce Committees and also served on the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. He is presently the Managing Partner of the 10-Square Solution, LLC, focusing on business development, mergers and acquisitions, and representation before the federal government.
Congressman Buyer served as Chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs for the 109th Congress, as well as the Ranking Minority Member for the 110th and 111th Congresses. He centralized the VA’s IT architecture and was named to the Federal IT top 100. Congressman Buyer also served on the House Armed Services Committee from 1993 to 2001, including as Chair of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel in the 105th and 106th Congresses. He founded and co-chaired the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus. He created the renewable energy portfolio for the Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs. He was the architect of TRICARE For Life and authored the U.S. military’s pharmacy redesign. His other Congressional assignments included service on the Health, Energy, and Technology subcommittees of the Committee on Energy and Commerce from 2001 to 2010, where he assisted in creating Medicare Part D, authored the electronic pedigree pharmaceuticals distribution system, served as a House Conferee on the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and lead the Congressional effort to reorganization of the U.S. Olympic Committee. He also served the House Committee on Judiciary from 1993 to 1999.
Congressman Buyer, as an Army Reserve officer, served four years on active duty, including a tour of duty in Iraq during the first Gulf War (1990-91) where he was awarded the Bronze Star as an Operational Law Judge Advocate. Prior to JAG, he was a Medical Service Corps Officer for four years. Congressman Buyer, after 30 years of service, retired with the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps.
Prior to his tenure in the United States Congress, Congressman Buyer served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, Indiana Deputy Attorney General, and engaged in a private law practice.
Congressman Buyer is a distinguished military graduate of The Citadel in 1980 with a B.S. degree, and received his J.D. from Valparaiso University School of Law in 1984. He is a member of the Indiana and Virginia state Bars.
In addition, FSD is pleased to announce that its Board of Directors has approved the Consolidation on a 1:201 basis. Effective Oct. 16, 2019, with a record date of Oct. 17, 2019, the company expects to begin trading the Class B Shares on the Canadian Securities Exchange on a post-Consolidation basis under its existing name and ticker symbol. The new CUSIP and ISIN for the Class B Shares are 35954B206 and CA35954B2066, respectively.
The company currently has 1,582,966,252 Class B Shares outstanding and the consolidation will reduce the issued and outstanding Class B Shares to approximately 7,874,809 Class B Shares. The consolidation was approved by FSD shareholders at the company’s special meeting held on Jan. 22, 2019, and will allow the company to continue to pursue the listing of the Class B Shares on a major U.S. exchange.
The company will not be issuing fractional post-Consolidation FSD Shares in connection with the Consolidation. Where the consolidation would otherwise result in a shareholder being entitled to a fractional FSD Share, the number of post-consolidation FSD Shares issued to such holder of FSD Shares shall be rounded down to the nearest whole number of FSD Shares. In calculating such fractional interests, all FSD Shares held by a beneficial shareholder shall be aggregated.
A letter of transmittal with respect to the consolidation will be mailed to registered shareholders of the company. All registered shareholders with physical certificates will be required to send their certificates representing pre-Consolidation FSD Shares along with a completed letter of transmittal to the company’s transfer agent, Computershare Investor Services Inc., in accordance with the instructions provided in the letter of transmittal. Additional copies of the letter of transmittal can be obtained through Computershare. All shareholders who submit a duly completed letter of transmittal along with their pre-Consolidation FSD share certificate(s) to Computershare will receive a post-Consolidation share certificate. Shareholders who hold their FSD Shares through a broker or other intermediary and do not have FSD Shares registered in their name will not need to complete a letter of transmittal.
The exercise or conversion price and the number of FSD Shares issuable under any of the company’s outstanding warrants and stock options will be proportionately adjusted to reflect the consolidation in accordance with the respective terms thereof. After the consolidation, there will be approximately 1,033,782 stock options and warrants to purchase 576,499 Class B Shares outstanding.
The Class A Shares will also be consolidated on a 1:201 basis, such that post-consolidation there will be 72 Class A Shares issued and outstanding, each Class A Share representing 276,660 votes on all matters. Based on the current issued and outstanding number of FSD Shares, the Class A Shares collectively represent approximately 72 percent of the voting rights.
ENDEXX ORD (OTCMKTS:EDXC),
now CBD Unlimited, today stated its pivotal strategic initiatives. The CEO of
the company, Todd Davis, says it was impressive for the company to have
surpassed the set year-end target. The plan was to set up about 5,000 retail
stores, and despite a few challenges, this has been achieved.
Steps to reach company goals
Davis opined, “With energetic determination, we continue to see tremendous growth in demand, both nationally and internationally. Our focus remains with our consumers and stakeholders as we continue to expand our product reach.”
official added that they were in talks with some other leading retailers to discuss
ways to enhance business. Market observers have also commented, saying that
indeed, the company has ramped up its business operations at an exponential
rate. They have also congratulated the company for hitting its set target three
months before the targeted time.
the demand for superior CBD products surged, CBD Unlimited, with immediate
effect, knew more work was to be done. That is why it took to set up a robust
pilot program. It made this announcement in mid-July 2019. In the near term,
the business giant hopes to have established between 8,000-10,000 stores.
Unlimited says it will continue doing its best to become one of the leading
contributors to the dynamic industry. It states that in the previous year it
increased its stores by 500%. This percentage represents a rise in the store
count from 1000 to about 5000 or even more.
Focus into the future
Unlimited says it won’t hesitate to take up any business growth opportunity
that might present itself. The CBD market is booming at the moment. This
business sees the roll-out plans as its ticket to generating higher revenues.
5000 figure comprises of some 4000 plus Major Drug and Grocery Outlets and 300
convenient stores. The remaining 1000 has Wellness centers, Doctor’s offices,
independent retail stores, and Vet and Animal care facilities.
Unlimited has several long-term goals. However, the most outstanding is
marketing and selling its products on a wider scale. The company hopes to
increase its customers, even on a global scale.
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — PRESS RELEASE — Viola, a producer and retailer of premium quality cannabis products founded by NBA veteran Al Harrington, has announced the closing of a $16 million funding round led by Gotham Green Partners. The investment firm, known for its financial support of some of the most reputable cannabis companies in the industry, is the first institutional investment in the company.
This latest round of funding will assist with the acquisition of a 34,500-square-foot cultivation, processing and distribution facility in Adelanto, Calif., as well as the completion of Viola’s 48,000-square-foot facility in Detroit, Mich. The funds will also enable Viola to continue to advance the growth of the company’s personnel with key new hires that will continue to establish Viola as a leader in the cannabis marketplace.
Viola emerged on the scene with a commitment to making an impact by promoting social equity through increasing minority participation in the cannabis industry and positively impacting communities by reinvesting in individuals most affected by the war on drugs. Viola raised $15 million prior to this round of funding, which enabled the company to grow its product offerings and footprint within the cannabis industry. The company is currently operating in California, Colorado, Oregon and Michigan, with plans to expand into Maryland, Nevada and Arizona in 2020.
“Over the last five years, Viola has been dedicated to creating and producing quality herbal experiences for our customers,” said Harrington, CEO of Viola. “With the financial support and investment of Gotham Green Partners, our ability to dedicate more physical space to growing and cultivating our flowers and team will make the possibilities endless.”
“We are thrilled to be aligned with Viola as the company expands its lifestyle brand into new markets,” said Jason Adler, managing member of Gotham Green Partners. “As the firm’s visionary, Al has successfully launched the concept and subsequently surrounded himself with a top-notch management team. Further, Al’s background and the company’s mission resonate with a broad and engaged consumer base, and we are excited to see Viola products on more retail shelves across the country.”
Puration Inc (OTCMKTS:PURA)
has remained a top seller of EVERx CBD Sports Water for quite a while now. The
company’s CEO Brian Shibley says they are moving into a European Distribution
Agreement for their leading product.
The agreement and what it entails
released the details about the agreement through a presentation and said the
company might generate high revenues. According to him, they might even make $4
on an annual basis. The presentation was conducted at the Arnold Sports
Festival in Barcelona.
shareholders have been piling pressure on the company to disclose the
distributor the company is collaborating with. So far, it remains a mystery for
them since the business guru hasn’t named the distributor yet.
PURA faces pressure to name its new
PURA hasn’t yet announced the distributor
doesn’t mean it is going to keep it a secret forever. Meanwhile, it needs to
look out for the interests of its new clients and partners. The problem is that
an early announcement usually results in new clients and partners receiving
some unsolicited calls. Most of them are not welcoming of such calls, and the
company should protect them.
company has also revealed the findings from a research body known as Goldman
Small Cap. This researcher had been entrusted with carrying out a CBD beverage
industry survey on behalf of the company and is already through with the
process. PURA says it will soon unveil the information collected from the
survey. The business guru usually conducts such surveys to help enhance
existing products or introducing new ones. The plan at the moment is to launch
new CBD infused coffee, beer, and tea beverages.
also intends to publish updates of its new coffee infused with CBD as well as
the unveiling of TranquiliTeaCBD. It also knows that the shareholders are eager
to know the company’s progress update. In this regard, it intends to provide
more information about the 2019 $4 million sales milestone.
the past six months, the company has already managed to generate about $1
million in CBD beverage sales. In the previous year, it generated about $1
million as well. The new milestone seems high, but only time will tell.
Gold Solutions Inc (OTCMKTS:KGKG) has announced the launch of Kona Pink
Hemp Energy Drink in 12.0 oz cans. The company entered a pact with a non-profit
organization – American Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF), which developed a
beautiful 12.0 oz can for the new energy drink. Kona Gold will donate a portion
of the sales of new energy drinks to ABCF to help support awareness about
breast cancer, screening, and support services. Undeserved and uninsured
individuals would benefit from the financial support of Kona Gold for breast
in the breast cancer awareness month
The launch perfectly coincides with
the breast cancer awareness month – October. The customers can purchase Kona
Pink Hemp Energy drinks from its website and also from Amazon’s online store.
Kona Gold already started shipping the energy drinks to its distributors. The
company will take part in various events related to improving awareness about
breast cancer in October.
Chief Executive Officer of Kona Gold,
Robert Clark, is pleased to introduce a new hemp energy drink, which is
developed using pink grapefruit flavor. He said the consumers would be
enthralled with the tasty Hemp energy drink in a beautifully designed 12.0 oz
can. The company is fortunate to associate with a non-profit organization –
ABCF and take part in a breast cancer awareness campaign. It is also exciting
to provide financial support to ABCF to treat uninsured breast cancer patients.
Director (National Sales)
Kona Gold has announced the
appointment of Director (National Sales) and Chief Financial Officer. Paul
O’Renick, Director (National Sales), and Lori Radcliffe, CFO, will join the
company on October 1 and October 8, respectively. After experiencing excellent
sales growth in 2019, Kona Gold filled the new vital positions to augment its
Gold introduces Storm CBD Water
Kona Gold introduced Storm CBD Water
across the nation as part of its expansion in the CBD beverage market. High
Alkaline water – Storm CBD is available in 1-liter bullet bottles, and each
comprises 20 mg of Cannabidiol isolate. It has started shipping Storm CBD to
its existing distribution channels in the US. The consumers can buy Storm CBD
water from its HighDrate website.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed H.B. 19-1090 into law this past summer, opening the door for outside investment and ownership opportunities in the state’s cannabis market, and Diego Pellicer is in turn launching an M&A strategy to take its business to the next level.
“We have a series of assets that we are pursuing currently, both the ones we’ve announced and ones that are still in the pipeline,” Diego Pellicer CEO Ron Throgmartin told Cannabis Business Times. “We’ve been patiently waiting for the Colorado market to open up business to publicly traded companies, which we are on the OTCQB. We’ve had very close ties in the marijuana industry … in Colorado but we’ve never, until the recent passage of H.B. 1090, had the opportunity to directly profit from the sale of marijuana, and this is a major shift for Diego Pellicer.”
Until now, Diego Pellicer has operated as a retail development and branding company.
“We’ve wanted to make sure to protect our shareholders, that we allow the market to properly mature, and we did not want to be the first public company that tried to cross those boundaries due to the uncertainty,” Throgmartin said. “We have waited, and we have seen other public companies cross that line, so to speak, and directly profit from the sale of marijuana in states where it was permitted. … We were very excited when Colorado announced its initiative to pass laws to allow public company ownership and it was well-accepted by us because we’d been anxiously awaiting to evolve our business model to include direct profiting from the sale of marijuana.”
The provisions in H.B. 19-1090 allow publicly traded corporations to hold Colorado cannabis business licenses, and qualified private funds based elsewhere in the U.S. may now invest in Colorado cannabis businesses and hold more than 10-percent equity. The law goes into effect Nov. 1.
Although Diego Pellicer must withhold the names of its acquisition targets and wait to formally submit its applications with Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) until Nov. 1, it has been very involved in the rulemaking process as regulators have drafted regulations to implement the law, and the company moved quickly in entering into its letters of intent.
“Now, from this point forward, we will evolve into contracts as we approach Nov. 1,” Throgmartin said. “The MED set the date of Nov. 1 as the official date that they will accept change of ownership … packages, and those packages will include extensive applications on the company and its primary shareholders and officers for vetting by the Marijuana Enforcement Division, as well as the entity that’s being acquired and the terms of that acquisition, along with the contracts.”
Throgmartin has been immersed in Colorado’s cannabis industry since 2009 and has formed strong business relationships over the past 10 years, which have been the foundation for Diego Pellicer’s acquisition spree.
“I’ve acquired a significant amount of relationships and contacts with peers and industry leaders, as far as I’m concerned, and through those relationships and business dealings is how we selected our acquisitions,” Throgmartin said. “And it was important to us that the acquisitions that we targeted were of like mind as Diego Pellicer, and what I mean by that is that they carry the same kinds of standards that Diego Pellicer represents—the customer service, customer pricing, steadfast respect of regulations and compliance, and a laundry list of [other] priorities needed to be met for us to agree on what we thought was a suitable acquisition, and we’ve accomplished that.”
The company has approximately five other assets it hopes to acquire, in addition to the letters of intent that have already been announced. Each deal takes time, Throgmartin said, as the company works through the regulatory details.
“People outside of Colorado or outside our industry don’t fully understand the nuances that exist and the steps that we have to take,” he said. “It’s outside the norm of a normal business. Obviously, if we were acquiring coffee shops, we wouldn’t have to jump through the hoops that have to be jumped through, but it’s expected in an industry … that’s still federally illegal. It’s our primary focus to make sure we adhere to state laws in the states [in which] we operate, with an eye on federal guidelines to make sure that we put the company in the best possible position we can to prosper.”
Diego Pellicer’s original goal, Throgmartin added, was to one day become a national—and perhaps even international—fully integrated cannabis company.
“Obviously, that is a lofty set of goals that, in our current environment and political structure, are difficult to achieve,” he said. “You have to be patient and you have to achieve them as these opportunities arrive. … Our intent is, when the smoke settles, that Diego Pellicer is a fully integrated, national cannabis company. … We want to make sure that we can control the product and the customer from seed to sale.”
Even with its newly acquired cultivation space, Diego Pellicer will not be able to produce enough cannabis to completely self-sustain its sales, Throgmartin added—but that is part of the plan.
“We don’t want to say to our customers when you come to Diego Pellicer, we’re going to offer you the best product that we produce,” he said. “We’re going to go out and seek the best product that’s available, and at that particular harvest, it may not be what we harvested. So, we will go out and we will find the best available product in the market, whether we’ve grown it or not, and make sure it’s available on the shelves and available to our customers.”
The added cultivation space will, however, give the company more control over product quality and pricing, Throgmartin said.
“Our goal is not to produce cannabis in a surplus,” he said. “Our goal is to supply enough of our own production of cannabis to guarantee and have some control over quality and pricing because … the wholesale market fluctuates a lot. As you look at the landscape of the cannabis industry in Colorado with the laws that exist currently, you can be just a retailer with no production at all. Those retailers are, in my opinion, at a disadvantage because they’re susceptible to market changes and wholesale pricing. They’re susceptible to quality that’s available in the market to be purchased by wholesale. We at Diego believe that it’s important to have enough of our own production in the vertical integration to weather the sharp movements in the market, and that way it guarantees the customer consistent product, consistent pricing, no matter what exists in the market.”
The same concept applies to the company’s newly purchased manufacturing facility, Throgmartin added: “We want to make sure that we have a base and controls over the quality of our concentrates and edibles that are produced, that we have some sort of control of our destiny in the market, no matter which way the market may swing, [but] not to the extent that we’re forcing our products on the shelf and making that the only product that’s available to the customers. We will continue to seek out and purchase and procure the best concentrates and edibles in the market.”
Cansortium Inc (OTCMKTS:CNTMF)
will in September set up a new dispensary in Cape Coral, FL. Jose Hidalgo, the
company’s Chief Executive Officer, says that it is their 15th Marijuana
dispensary in the state of Florida. He takes immense pride in his company
featuring among the first five licensed premium-quality medical cannabis
businesses within the state.
understands the need to expand its business operations. It is only by so doing
that it will manage to serve the fast-growing medical marijuana patient
population. In this particular regard, it has plans underway to set up a larger
network of dispensaries. After opening the new dispensary, it will move ahead
to expand the network even further by adding six more. This means the company
will by then have a total of 21 Florida locations. In other words, this
indicates the revamping of business operations and even the generation of
Hidalgo opines, “We recently commenced cultivation at Phase 2 of our state-of-the-art Tampa cultivation facility, which will more than triple our overall Florida production capacity when fully propagated.”
leader hopes that by the end of this year, they will have made major steps in
business. The latest dispensary measures 3,440 square-feet, and its prime
location means more accessibility. Hopefully, the facility will be able to
serve over 183,000 residents and also some customers from Fort Myers.
wants to take over market leadership through the sale of high-quality cannabis
products. The business guru is usually keen at checking out the running of all
its dispensaries. It wants to see to it that all of them sell premium products.
Some of the products you find here include suppositories, capsules, drops, and
creams. The Fluent premium dried flower, cartridges, and the full spectrum
concentrates are some of the production implements.
may want to visit any of these dispensaries to obtain remarkable products. One
thing that takes you by surprise is the professional environment that consists
of consultation rooms. Here, you will be served by knowledgeable staff who
assist you find the best products. You won’t have to worry about privacy
because they keep everything confidential.
CannTrust Holdings Inc
(NYSE:CTST) released a status update on Thursday in line with the
requirement for a Management Cease Trade Orders (“NP 12-203”) as per
the National Policy 12-203.
The MCTO makes it compulsory for the firm to release updates
twice every week until it is up to date with its filing obligations
requirements of the Canadian securities laws. The Ontario Securities Commission
issued the MCTO which also prohibits CannTrust’s executive officers and
directors from acquiring the company’s securities or trading them.
This prohibition will remain active and will only be lifted
two business days after CannTrust files an interim financial report for the
quarterly and half-year period ended June 30, 2019. The company’s investors who
are not insiders will not be affected by the MCTO. CannTrust has also expressed
its commitment to comply with the NP 12-203 guidelines.
Will the company get
delisted from the New York Stock Exchange?
CannTrust might be at risk of delisting by the New York
Stock Exchange due to its illegal growing activities. The Canadian firm
targeted the U.S due to the huge market potential at a time when cannabis was
gaining legal status. There were a lot of positive expectations about the
company but things have been going downhill ever since it announced that it had
been illegally growing cannabis in 5 unlicensed rooms for five months.
The confession came after a review by Health Canada, a
Canadian regulatory authority. The company had been conducting the illegal
growth at the unlicensed rooms from October 2018 to March 2019. It was awarded
a license for the rooms in April this year but the impact of the illegal growth
started haunting the company. Health Canada placed 5,000 kilos of the company’s
product on hold, and so it could not sell its products while investigations
were being conducted.
The situation led to distrust especially by investors and CannTrust
stock has been on the decline. The NYSE requires firms to maintain a $1 minimum
share price to avoid delisting. CannTrust’s stock closed Friday’s trading
session at $1.20 and if it goes below the $1 mark, then it might end up being
Before the 1930s, “marijuana” was in every medicine cabinet in America. Known by its scientific name, Cannabis, it had been a staple of the United States Pharmacopoeia, most often purchased and prescribed in tincture form, until it was dropped in 1942 after the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 rebranded this common household item, now referred to as “marihuana”—a pejorative stab steeped in anti-Mexican sentiment.
I start here because the language—and the evidence—we use to describe this pharmaceutical powerhouse matters.
While the surgeon general was not wrong to consider concerns in much the same way one would expect any medicinal product to be scrutinized to ensure safety, the decision to use the term “marijuana” throughout, the alarmist rhetoric and the cherry-picked references chosen to highlight the perceived consequences of cannabis without mention of its proven benefits hark back to a foundation of misinformation first laid just a century ago.
Let’s unpack the statement. Adams’ original text is in italics.
U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory: Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain
I, Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams, am emphasizing the importance of protecting our Nation from the health risks of marijuana use in adolescence and during pregnancy. Recent increases in access to marijuana and in its potency, along with misperceptions of safetyof marijuana endanger our most precious resource, our nation’s youth.
With his very first sentence, the surgeon general describes cannabis use as an epidemic. A paternalistic tone is immediately taken to convey a need to protect the consumers in question from their own choices, for themselves and their children.
As to its safety, unlike many of the FDA-approved pharmaceuticals consumers are now regularly choosing to replace as access to the plant grows, thousands of years of plant-based cannabis consumption have proven both its efficacy in treating a wide variety of symptoms and conditions without the risk of fatal overdose. We have millennia of evidence.
Additionally, uncomfortable side-effects associated with over-medication of the intoxicating compound THC are generally short-lived, resolving after cessation and are preventable with careful consumption. This describes a need for education, not prohibition. Even high doses of synthetic THC preparations – the pharmaceutical-made, FDA-approved kind we see in lab and clinical studies that don’t bind to receptors in the body the same as plant-sourced cannabinoids and can increase unpleasant outcomes when not carefully dosed – have an extraordinarily high toxicity threshold.
Marijuana, or cannabis, is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. It acts by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including euphoria, intoxication, and memory and motor impairments. These same cannabinoid receptors are also critical for brain development. They are part of the endocannabinoid system, which impacts the formation of brain circuits important for decision making, mood and responding to stress.
Dr. Adams doesn’t seem to have a keen grasp on how the endocannabinoid system works. Cannabis engages receptors in both the brain and the body to regulate systemic homeostasis and optimal wellness. In addition to producing the fearful effects of euphoria described – thereby capable of increasing mood elevation and decreasing the negative health outcomes associated with stress – it can also optimize sleep, digestion, memory, pain responses, as well as neural and immune activity.
Two other things to keep in mind here: cannabis is only illicit because the US government stubbornly refuses to remove it from the Schedule 1 list – substances and compounds defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential of abuse – despite centuries of studies (including by the US government 1944, 1972) that describe safe and effective administration. Second, if its use is so wide-spread and it were as dangerous as Dr. Adams suggests, we would have seen far more data to back up that claim. Think opioids, which have only been prescribed at current rates since the 1990s but took over 70,000 lives in 2017 alone.
Marijuana and its related products are widely available in multiple forms. These products can be eaten, drunk, smoked, and vaped. Marijuana contains varying levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component responsible for euphoria and intoxication, and cannabidiol (CBD). While CBD is not intoxicating and does not lead to addiction, its long-term effects are largely unknown, and most CBD products are untested and of uncertain purity.
While chronic cannabis consumption does encourage the development of tolerance to intoxication, therapeutic tolerance remains stable. This is great news for someone who needs to work their way up to large doses of THC to treat certain types of cancers, for instance. And, though mild symptoms of withdrawal upon THC cessation may occur, the claim that THC is addictive – comparable to alcohol or opioids – is more of an inflammatory statement than a proven truth and disregards a host of variables.
In this same sentence, Dr. Adams also claims that the long-term effects of CBD are unknown. This is mostly false. True, the synthetic compounds being developed by the pharmaceutical industry are unknowns, but these synthetics and derivatives are also not reflective of the natural beneficial synergies found in whole-plant cannabis products. Cannabis produces hundreds of phyto-pharmaceutical compounds that work together in what is known as the ensemble effect that help reduce unwanted outcomes and that have been ingested by humans – not lab rats -since the first cannabis cultivation.
To be fair, the point on purity is a concern in an unregulated market without strict testing guidelines and requirements. However, this is a failure of the government’s unwillingness to create safe access, not an issue stemming from the plant itself.
Marijuana has changed over time. The marijuana available today is much stronger than previous versions. The THC concentration in commonly cultivated marijuana plants has increased three-fold between 1995 and 2014 (4% and 12% respectively). Marijuana available in dispensaries in some states has average concentrations of THC between 17.7% and 23.2%. Concentrated products, commonly known as dabs or waxes, are far more widely available to recreational users today and may contain between 23.7% and 75.9% THC.
While it is true that THC potency has increased as research and development in legal markets explore the limits of what the plant is capable of producing, having potent options available to those with debilitating conditions and high tolerances is important. Even if we compare cannabis to alcohol consumption purely for the purpose of intoxication, it’s a matter of choice. Do you prefer beer or hard alcohol? Do you change your consumption levels when the ABV goes up? It’s about common sense consumption – a feat far easier to achieve with cannabis than alcohol and with far fewer detrimental consequences. For instance, the CDC reports that “excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006-2010.” And despite alarmist rhetoric that THC has been associated with recent reports of vaping toxicity – meaning there was THC present in some of the contaminated products, NOT that THC was the cause – regulated, plant-sourced cannabis products have never resulted in death, even at doses well above the threshold of what a human could possibly consume.
The risks of physical dependence, addiction, and other negative consequences increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC and the younger the age of initiation Higher doses of THC are more likely to produce anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and psychosis. Edible marijuana takes time to absorb and to produce its effects, increasing the risk of unintentional overdose, as well as accidental ingestion by children and adolescents. In addition, chronic users of marijuana with a high THC content are at risk for developing a condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, which is marked by severe cycles of nausea and vomiting.
Anything can be a poison if taken at the right dose. Take hyperhydration, for example. As access to high concentrations of THC increase, of course we should be cognizant of our intake and lay the foundations at the federal level for better education around safe consumption. But the invocations here of poisoning and fatal overdose and gang initiation do more to perpetuate misinformation and prohibition-era propaganda than to convey the reality of temporary side-effects from over-consumption.
And, again, these ‘consequences’ are generally short-lived. Cannabinoid receptor density in the body, which directly correlates to tolerance, is nearly reset after just two days of cessation. For those who seek to take a break after extended over-consumption, cannabis withdrawal is most often described as being similar to that of nicotine, though that same irritability and discomfort described as a symptom of withdrawal could also be a symptom of a deficient system no longer getting the supplements it needs.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is rare and avoidable, even with continued cannabis use after diagnosis. Full-spectrum, mixed-ratio products that contain low to moderate levels of both THC and CBD can help to prevent this condition from developing. This comes back to the need for better education around potency and dosing. On the flip side, it is important to note that THC has shown to be extremely effective in treating nausea and vomiting, especially for chemo patients, and has been FDA approved to treat these symptoms in its synthetic form since the early 1980s. These lab-created and more potent FDA-approved synthetics are also the primary compounds used in U.S. cannabinoid research, which skews data. Because of this, research sources should be carefully considered when laying claim to perceived consequences. These synthetics have also made their way into the unregulated market as ‘K2” or “Spice”, causing all sorts of public health problems and creating unwarranted associations with natural cannabinoids.
This advisory is intended to raise awareness of the known and potential harms to developing brains, posed by the increasing availability of highly potent marijuana in multiple, concentrated forms. These harms are costly to individuals and to our society, impacting mental health and educational achievement and raising the risks of addiction and misuse of other substances. Additionally, marijuana use remains illegal for youth under state law in all states; normalization of its use raises the potential for criminal consequences in this population. In addition to the health risks posed by marijuana use, sale or possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law notwithstanding some state laws to the contrary.
This is what is known as the Gateway Drug Theory. Not only has the claim that cannabis use among adolescents leads to harder drugs been debunked—correlation vs. causation—but research has shown that cannabis compounds, like CBD, can reduce drug seeking behavior with effects that far outlast treatment. We are learning that cannabis may actually be an “exit drug” through craving and harm-reduction when used responsibly.
Marijuana Use During Pregnancy
Pregnant women use marijuana more than any other illicit drug. In a national survey, marijuana use in the past month among pregnant women doubled (3.4% to 7%) between 2002 and 2017. In a study conducted in a large health system, marijuana use rose by 69% (4.2% to 7.1%) between 2009 and 2016 among pregnant women. Alarmingly, many retail dispensaries recommend marijuana to pregnant women for morning sickness.
To say little of the maternal shaming this conveys, there are two things to consider here: First, expectant mothers have been using cannabis throughout historical record for ease of symptoms without evidence of negative outcome when used responsibly. Second, reports of use increased as access increased and as stigma decreased, allowing patients to feel open about discussing their consumption with their doctors.
While cannabis educators outside of the medical profession should refrain from giving medical advice, it is easy to point to historical record as a point of reference when approached by a consumer for guidance. There is an unfortunate impasse right now between advocacy and prohibition: many physicians feel unable to convey anything more than prohibitory language, whether because prohibition propaganda has done it’s job or because medical schools are only now even beginning to discuss the discovery of this primary regulatory network, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Even those who are not overtly against learning more, often feel unprepared. So consumers interested in avoiding pharmaceuticals seek out approval from advocates, who often remain ill-equipped to provide the full picture and lean heavily on historic evidence, not current research. This needs to end. Moving forward we need to open the dialogue between medical professionals and the gatekeepers of products, the budtenders.
Marijuana use during pregnancy can affect the developing fetus. THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream and may disrupt the endocannabinoid system, which is important for a healthy pregnancy and fetal brain development. Moreover, studies have shown that marijuana use in pregnancy is associated with adverse outcomes, including lower birth weight.The Colorado Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System reported that maternal marijuana use was associated with a 50% increased risk of low birth weight regardless of maternal age, race, ethnicity, education, and tobacco use.
The presumption here is that cannabis consumption could harm a healthy pregnancy. But what if it isn’t healthy to begin with? What if the mother can’t keep food down? Responsible cannabis consumption is about best practices and harm reduction. An expectant mother keen on keeping the pregnancy should be allowed and encouraged to make the decisions they feel will cause the least amount of harm. If that means CBD instead of antipsychotics or THC instead of opioids for pain reduction, then we should be considering which of these choices is likely to cause the best outcomes for mother and child.
Additionally, the studies referenced by the surgeon general appear to only be considering combustion-based consumption and not differentiating between outcomes of other types of consumption methods, like edibles or tinctures. If the only adverse outcome is low-birth weight that is associated with combustion of any kind, for which there is conflicting evidence, then it is simply a matter of changing consumption methods. It is the combustion that should be avoided according to these studies, not the cannabis itself. There appears to be no causation between adverse outcomes and non-combustible consumption. Additionally, low-birth weight is a small price to pay for maintaining a viable pregnancy that could be at jeopardy without maternal symptomatic or condition-based treatment.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists holds that “[w]omen who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use. Women reporting marijuana use should be counseled about concerns regarding potential adverse health consequences of continued use during pregnancy”. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that “…it is important to advise all adolescents and young women that if they become pregnant, marijuana should not be used during pregnancy.”
While it is important to inform expectant mothers of the potential for adverse outcomes, physicians should always be mindful of biased dialogue that could impede a patient’s desire to share with their caregiver. Certainly, overconsumption of any compound – natural or otherwise – should be cautioned against during pregnancy. But when we’re talking about responsible cannabis intake for symptomatic treatment, the dialogue should revolve around harm reduction and best practices, not incomplete and misleading data. Ramping up stigma will only serve to decrease patient reporting and the subsequent evidence that could come from open and honest patient/caregiver dialogue.
Maternal marijuana use may still be dangerous to the baby after birth. THC has been found in breast milk for up to six days after the last recorded use. It may affect the newborn’s brain development and result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences. Additionally, marijuana smoke contains many of the same harmful components as tobacco smoke. No one should smoke marijuana or tobacco around a baby.
We’re talking small amounts here, folks. And there is the paucity of reliable data to consider as well; in part, because mothers are hesitant to participate in sharing this information due to hardline stigmas still surrounding cannabis use during and after pregnancy. Additionally, the very same studies used by the surgeon general to demonize the decision to consume cannabis during and after pregnancy also state a “definitive lack of data” in regard to “risk or safety”. That is to say, the references seem to be biased and one-sided with little interest in discovering what the benefits might be in comparison to more harmful pharmaceuticals or lack of treatment altogether.
“No one should smoke (cannabis) or tobacco around a baby.” This statement is unequivocally true. We know a lot about the harmful constituents of combustion. That being said, we’re not talking about tobacco smoke here that has no benefit, but rather a polypharmaceutical plant whose beneficial compounds may supersede its negative degradants. Though, it is still advisable to avoid combustion altogether.
Marijuana Use During Adolescence
Marijuana is also commonly used by adolescents, second only to alcohol. In 2017, approximately 9.2 million youth aged 12 to 25 reported marijuana use in the past month and 29% more young adults aged 18-25 started using marijuana. In addition, high school students’ perception of the harm from regular marijuana use has been steadily declining over the last decade. During this same period, a number of states have legalized adult use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, while it remains illegal under federal law. The legalization movement may be impacting youth perception of harm from marijuana.
Firstly, a recent JAMA report actually shows that teen use is significantly decreased in all states with medical and recreational access.
Secondly, the decreased perception of harm among adolescents can be linked to the cessation of the kind of drug-war propaganda made commonplace during the 80s and 90s, which heralded the devil’s lettuce approach over examining its myriad beneficial medicinal qualities. Any remaining perception by teens that cannabis is 100-percent safe is a byproduct of a lack of education based in sound scientific, full-picture data.
The human brain continues to develop from before birth into the mid-20s and is vulnerable to the effects of addictive substances. Frequent marijuana use during adolescence is associated with changes in the areas of the brain involved in attention, memory, decision-making, and motivation. Deficits in attention and memory have been detected in marijuana-using teens even after a month of abstinence. Marijuana can also impair learning in adolescents. Chronic use is linked to declines in IQ, school performance that jeopardizes professional and social achievements, and life satisfaction. Regular use of marijuana in adolescence is linked to increased rates of school absence and drop-out, as well as suicide attempts.
Marijuana use is also linked to risk for and early onset of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia.The risk for psychotic disorders increases with frequency of use, potency of the marijuana product, and as the age at first use decreases. Adolescent marijuana use is often also associated with other substance use. In 2017, teens 12-17 reporting frequent use of marijuana showed a 130% greater likelihood of misusing opioids. Marijuana’s increasingly widespread availability in multiple and highly potent forms, coupled with a false and dangerous perception of safety among youth, merits a nationwide call to action.
More rehashing here of the good old Gateway Drug Theory. The commonplace curiosity of teenagers seeking out prohibited activities is not a new concept and does not mean that cannabis is the cause. And, again, with its ability to treat addictive behaviors, cannabis has actually been shown to be an “exit drug” that can reduce the desire to maintain harmful addictive behaviors and substances.
Heavy, chronic use of any mind-altering substance in an otherwise healthy human could do more harm than good, to be sure. In a still-developing adolescent, this could exacerbate a lifetime of problems that may not have otherwise occurred. The evidence suggests that healthy-teen over-consumption could present problems later on in life, but there are a great many variables researchers still need to sift through to make that determination in regard to cannabis.
You Can Take Action
No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is known to be safe . Until and unless more is known about the long-term impact, the safest choice for pregnant women and adolescents is not to use marijuana. Pregnant women and youth–and those who love them–need the facts and resources to support healthy decisions. It is critical to educate women and youth, as well as family members, school officials, state and local leaders, and health professionals, about the risks of marijuana, particularly as more states contemplate legalization.
Let’s not pretend that pharmaceutical adherence and cannabis avoidance is always the healthiest choice.
Science-based messaging campaigns and targeted prevention programming are urgently needed to ensure that risks are clearly communicated and amplified by local, state, and national organizations. Clinicians can help by asking about marijuana use, informing mothers-to-be, new mothers, young people, and those vulnerable to psychotic disorders, of the risks. Clinicians can also prescribe safe, effective, and FDA-approved treatments for nausea, depression, and pain during pregnancy. Further research is needed to understand all the impacts of THC on the developing brain, but we know enough now to warrant concern and action. Everyone has a role in protecting our young people from the risks of marijuana.
Targeted prevention programming and science-based messaging are not the same thing. Let’s educate from the point of evidence-based research and best practices, not some outdated and unsupported idea that all cannabis is bad all of the time.
Clinicians can help by creating a safe space for open dialogue, educating themselves about the ECS and how cannabinoids work within the body, and leaving prohibitory biases at home. Clinicians can also prescribe from a place of harm reduction, which may very well be outside of the current scope of the FDA who are still enraptured by the single-compound, single-target pharmaceutical model that brought us the opioid crisis.
The discovery of the endocannabinoid system only happened in the 1990s. By taking away the barriers, both physical and perceived, to build a better understanding of how this system works to regulate every aspect of our bodies, from fetal implantation to how comfortably we exit this world, we stand to completely shift the pharmaceutical paradigm towards a preventative, polymodal therapeutic approach that ultimately reduces the risk of negative outcomes and contraindications. To look at the consequences of cannabis through a single-compound model, as the surgeon general has done here, is not only dangerously misguided, but a comment on the credibility and motivation behind his message.