Minnesota group urges cannabis for chronic pain – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minnesota permits medical marijuana use for intractable pain, but advocates believe that leaves too many people suffering.

Now they have petitioned the state to add moderate to severe chronic pain as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. The state health commissioner has until Dec. 1 to rule.

The commissioner also must decide whether to add macular degeneration to the list of 14 conditions that can be treated with cannabis oils or pills, but the pain decision is significant because it could explode the state’s number of cannabis users.

Cannabis retailers should embrace out-of-state consumers – after they’ve taken appropriate steps – Marijuana Business Daily

(This is an abridged version of a story that appears in the August issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)

Medical and recreational cannabis retail stores near state borders have tremendous business opportunities.

They’re able to draw the interest of cannabis consumers in adjacent states that might prohibit the drug and can also benefit from reciprocity laws that allow medical marijuana patients from other states to make purchases, said Nic Easley, who advises MJ businesses across the United States and is CEO of 3C Consulting in Colorado.

Cannabis retailers in adjacent states with recreational marijuana programs – think Washington and Oregon and Oregon and California – can even win out-of-state consumers if their state has lower tax rates or costs, according to Easley.

But there’s a catch, he pointed out.

It’s illegal for consumers to carry cannabis products across state borders, which means marijuana retailers must obey local laws and educate their customers about the rules.

“Something all operators need to get behind is an education campaign – and not just for a business strategy,” Easley said.

“It’s a no-brainer: You don’t want to set consumers up for failure.”

Easley and other cannabis stakeholders spoke with Marijuana Business Magazine about what MJ retailers near state lines need to consider when doing business with out-of-state consumers:

Willie Nelson’s Cannabis Company Is Releasing a Line of Pet CBD Products – Observer

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson’s company is releasing a CBD line exclusively for pets. Rick Kern/Getty Images for Shock Ink

Musician and cannabis enthusiast Willie Nelson is getting in on the CBD phenomenon, specifically for pets.

As the head of his own cannabis company, Willie’s Reserve, the singer and marijuana activist is releasing CBD products for “furry friends.” Willie’s Rescue is the company’s new line of hemp-derived pet products, according to a release by parent company GCH.

SEE ALSO: How Can You Tell If Your CBD Product Is Good (or Even Has CBD)?

“As longtime animal advocates and pet owners, our family believes that the hemp plant has benefited our own animals,” Willie and his wife Annie Nelson said in a statement. “We want you and your best friends to experience the potential benefits of hemp together.”

Willie’s Rescue, which does not contain THC, is making its debut at SuperZoo, a pet industry trade show taking place in Las Vegas this week.

According to the company, Willie’s Rescue “is supported by oversight and guidance from veteran experts in the pet care category,” via a partnership with Greg Forquer, a managing partner at the consulting firm PetsPhD. But CBD use for animals is still a highly-contested topic. While holistic-minded experts have recommended CBD to calm pets, especially during highly anxiety-inducing events like fireworks and other loud noises, there is still not enough data on the pros and cons of its use.

The compound can be prescribed for pets in California, which recently passed a bill allowing veterinarians to do so. And anecdotally, many have touted the benefits of CBD on animals, with numerous veterinarians and medical professionals confirming its safety. Not to mention that animal protection organizations, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have placed their stamp of approval on the therapeutic effects of hemp oil on pets.

However, CBD products in general are still being assessed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) despite its decriminalization in 2018. Due to the unclear legal status of cannabidiol, many startups specializing in human and pet CBD offerings must label their products with a “non-FDA approved” warning.

All in all, the CBD industry is still in the process of convincing the government that direct sales of hemp items to consumers is safe. For now, veterinarians will have to rely on individual state laws in order to recommend CBD products to pet owners.

CBD Companies Positioning Themselves For Cannabis Legalization – Forbes

The Clear

Recreational cannabis use is illegal in the majority of US states, but the relaxation of hemp and CBD sales has created a set of companies that could more easily grab cannabis product market share if it is legalized. Companies selling CBD products are establishing their brands among consumers, and acquiring shelf space and retail relationships. If recreational cannabis is legalized, those companies can enter that market more quickly than a business starting from scratch.

From a product perspective, companies are looking to establish their CBD brands as consistent and effective, so when THC comes along, consumers will seek them out for safe products. Reliable quality is key to establishing that connection with consumers according to Rick Batenburg III, chairman of Clear Cannabis, Inc., parent company of The Clear .

Using CBD products as an onramp to a marijuana business also makes sense from a cash-flow perspective. When a state legalizes cannabis and announces a future date for its sale, companies need to hire employees, rent space, find distribution etc. There can be delays in licensing and other issues. Selling hemp-based CBD products while the company waits for the THC business to kick in, provides an income stream to draw from.

A recent Gallup poll found that 14% of Americans had used CBD, primarily to treat pain, anxiety and sleeplessness.

Batenburg is betting consumers will be drawn to products that contain no additives. “Our most popular products are The Clear THC & CBD disposable vape cartridges,” he said. “Consumers are either getting THC or CBD, nothing else.”  This is important he said, because unpredictable or poor experiences leads to people avoiding the plant all together. “We sell euphoria, not trips to the hospital,” he said.

Luna Stower from Jetty Extracts, a cannabis and CBD oil/vaporizer company based in Oakland, says her company prints their independent lab test results „directly onto the box as certificates of analysis that prove the purity, potency, contents, and ingredients clearly for consumers.” 

Hemp and its derivatives became legal federally under the 2018 Farm Bill, but the rules around the industry are still not finalized so entrepreneurs building CBD companies still face hurdles.  Senator Chuck Schumer of New York recently asked federal financial regulators to clarify the situation so for example, hemp businesses could access banking services like lines of credit at federally insured banks. For its part, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) confirmed in August that credit unions could offer those services to hemp companies.

To make things simpler operationally, companies like The Clear are dividing their businesses into those that “touch the plant” vs. items like vaping supplies that do not. That streamlines accounting and other legal issues because the two types of products operate under different rules. Batenburg says that putting plant touching and non-plant touching assets in different holding companies limits risk.

Consumers are seeing CBD products on the shelf at mainstream stores like Walmart, and that’s helping to reduce the stigma of cannabis. It also means small CBD companies, whether they are preparing to sell marijuana or not, need to be ready for a tidal wave of major competition. National hemp legalization means large consumer packaged goods companies can enter the CBD market by simply adding “now with CBD” to existing products according to Batenburg.

“These brands already have an emotional relationship with the consumer and a strong non-restrictive distribution into national stores,” he said.

CBD is the most well-known of the more than 100 cannabanoids hemp contains. The plant is being used not only for consumables but as a building material, fiber and even as part of a car. To learn more about the business of hemp and CBD, check out the video from a recent conference at UCLA:  Hemp Goes Federally Legal: Research and Policy Implications – Dr. Jeffrey Chen, MD/MBA.

420 SkinCare

Weedmaps says it will ban advertisements from unlicensed cannabis sellers. Legal sellers applaud – Los Angeles Times

Weedmaps has been the bane of licensed dispensary owners in California’s fledgling marijuana market.

The site, which lists nearby dispensaries and marijuana delivery services , has faced criticism for helping unpermitted dispensaries flourish as the state has struggled to permit businesses and fold illegal operators into its budding legal industry. California cannabis regulatory agencies have attempted to crack down on the company in the past, with little success. But now, Weedmaps says it will end that practice, and lawmakers and licensed dispensary owners are cautiously optimistic.

On its Yelp-like platform , dispensaries can put up menus, photos and other information, and customers can write comments and ratings. In areas where the marijuana market is saturated, Weedmaps charges for higher placements in listings.

Licensed owners have expressed frustration that the website amplifies the presence of unlicensed cannabis sellers, whose skirting of state and local taxes lets them undercut legal operators. Without Weedmaps or its competitors, unlicensed sellers would have to rely on word-of-mouth to bring customers through their doors. (One competitor, Leafly, said in early 2018 it would bar unlicensed operators.)

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“Without the voice that Weedmaps gives, 80% of [illegal dispensaries] would disappear, or would do a fraction of the business,” said Carlos De La Torre, owner of the Cornerstone Research Collective in Eagle Rock.

In February 2018, the Bureau of Cannabis Control sent Weedmaps a cease and desist letter telling the company it was breaking state law by carrying ads from unlicensed businesses.

Weedmaps has evaded these orders, saying it is protected under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which gives platforms like Facebook and YouTube safe harbor from being held liable for the content their users post.

Section 230 enabled the rapid growth of some of the biggest tech companies, most of which host third party content. The bigger these platforms become, the more difficult it gets to verify the legitimacy of every item of content, said Eric Goldman , a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. Without Section 230, these companies wouldn’t be able to risk hosting large volumes of content, he said.

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After Weedmaps invoked Section 230, the Bureau of Cannabis Control chose to focus instead on cracking down directly on illegal businesses, said Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for the bureau.

It’s unclear why Weedmaps decided to shed unlicensed advertisers now. The company revealed the move folded into an announcement about a new program to help support social equity applicants.

In January the Orange County Register reported talk of the state attorney general taking up a case against the company. There’s also legislation in the pipeline that aims to punish companies like Weedmaps.

“Weedmaps always has and will continue to advocate for a flourishing, legal cannabis market, and taking action to address social equity is integral to making that a reality. Our announcement reinforces that commitment and outlines the program we are implementing to support minority entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry,” Alex Clark, a Weedmaps spokesperson said in a statement.

The lack of details in Weedmaps’ announcement troubled some critics, who pointed out that the company has not offered specifics on when it will implement its freeze on unlicensed operators or how it plans to eliminate the hundreds of listings for black market sellers on its website.

“While this is a signal that Weedmaps seems to be taking our priority of compliance to heart, like anything, the devil is in the details,” said Nicole Elliott, senior adviser on cannabis in California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Business and Economic Development, in a statement.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who has attempted to push through legislation like this in the past, says it’s a good step forward. “It’s a move that will help honor the people who voted overwhelmingly for a regulated cannabis marketplace,” he said.

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Earlier this year, a Times analysis of listings on Weedmaps found there were at least 220 unlicensed dispensaries in Los Angeles advertising on the website, representing about 60% of the total brick-and-mortar cannabis market in California’s largest city.

Many in the cannabis industry say black market sales have helped lead to shortfalls in cannabis revenue since California’s legal market opened for business. In 2018, the state’s marijuana market missed its revenue projection by $160 million. Earlier this month, a fiscal analysis projected the state will see $8.7 billion in illegal cannabis sales this year, nearly triple the amount expected to be spent on products sold by licensed dispensaries and delivery services.

Some longtime operators are approaching the situation with cautious optimism.

“I’m very encouraged and very optimistic about Weedmaps advertising only fully legal businesses by year’s end ,” said Jason Beck, the founder of Alternative Herbal Health services in West Hollywood. “It’s a huge positive for the legal market, as a whole, and legal minority businesses specifically.”

You Might Be Surprised by Which State Could be Headed Towards Legalizing Recreational Pot – The Motley Fool

Eleven U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana. Over half of them are in the western part of the country: Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Three are in the northeast: Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Two are more centrally located: Illinois and Michigan.

So far, no southern state has moved forward with legalizing recreational pot. But that could about to change. Efforts are underway to allow the legal use and sale of marijuana in the most southern state on the continent: Florida. And there’s a possibility it could happen as soon as 2020.

Cannabis plant with sun shining in background

Image source: Getty Images.

The push for pot

Marijuana advocacy group Regulate Florida is leading the initiative to put an amendment on Florida’s ballot in 2020 to legalize recreational marijuana. The group has already collected the minimum number of valid signatures to submit the proposed ballot language for a judicial review by the Florida Supreme Court and a financial impact review. 

The state of Florida requires proponents to collect valid signatures equal to 8% of the total votes cast in the state in the most recent presidential election to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. That translates into a little over 76,000 signatures. These signatures must come from citizens in at least 14 of Florida’s 27 counties.  

Regulate Florida has already gathered more than 83,000 signatures so far. Collecting signatures is a time-consuming and expensive process. Michael Minardi, campaign manager for Regulate Florida, recently told the Miami Herald that gathering the necessary signatures will cost around $5 million.

Some supporters with deep pockets appear to be ready to step up to the plate. John Morgan, the founding partner of the Morgan & Morgan law firm, tweeted earlier this month, „I believe that #marijuana should be legal!! I think we have time and I think there is money to get it done.” Morgan spent close to $7 million to help fund the 2016 Florida initiative to legalize medical marijuana.

Morgan knows that it’s an uphill battle to collect all the signatures needed by the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline. But with his money and public platform behind the effort, the chances of success are much higher than they would otherwise be.

If the amendment does make it on the 2020 ballot, the odds of passage appear to be pretty good. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 65% of Florida voters support legalizing recreational pot.

A sunny forecast

ArcView Market Research and BDS Analytics have projected that Florida will be the third-largest legal cannabis market in the U.S. by 2022, behind only California and Colorado, based solely on sales of medical cannabis. The marijuana market researchers estimate that Florida’s medical cannabis annual sales could top $1.7 billion within the next three years.

A detailed economic impact review of recreational marijuana legalization should be on the way. In the meantime, we can make some pretty good guesses on the potential size of the Florida market based on the experience in other states.

Colorado is on pace to generate legal pot sales of more than $1.6 billion this year. ArcView and BDS Analytics think that Colorado’s legal marijuana market could jump to around $2.5 billion by 2022. Florida’s population is roughly 3.7 times the size of Colorado’s. It’s quite possible that Florida could have a legal pot market with more than $9 billion in annual revenue in the latter part of the next decade.  

Stocks that could profit the most

Even if that estimate is overly optimistic, there’s no question that Florida would claim one of the largest legal pot markets in the U.S. if efforts to pass a constitutional amendment are successful. This would create great opportunities for several marijuana stocks.

I’d put Trulieve Cannabis (OTC:TCNNF) near the top of the list. Trulieve currently has 29 medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida. Unlike most cannabis companies, Trulieve is already profitable. Its revenue continues to soar, up 30% on a quarter-over-quarter basis in Q2. Unsurprisingly, Trulieve has donated to the effort to place an amendment on the ballot in Florida to legalize recreational marijuana.

MedMen (OTC:MMNFF) is another company that’s pushing for the legalization of recreational pot in Florida and stands to profit significantly if the effort succeeds. The company plans to open 11 retail locations in the state by the end of this year and holds licenses for up to 24 more. MedMen’s southeastern director of government affairs, Jeff Hansen, serves as chair of the political committee Make It Legal Florida, which is actively working to legalize recreational marijuana.

It’s still too soon to know for sure if Florida will indeed legalize recreational pot in 2020. But Trulieve and MedMen, among others, could be in for tremendous growth if it happens.

First death linked to vaping reported in Illinois – BBC News


A person vapingImage copyright Getty Images

A patient has died after developing a severe respiratory disease due to vaping in the first such death in the US, say health officials.

It comes as experts investigate a mystery lung disease across the US that is linked to use of e-cigarettes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there were 193 „potential cases” in 22 US states.

Many of the cases involve vaping THC, the main active compound in cannabis, CDC experts said.

The cases were reported over the course of two months between 28 June and 20 August.

The person who died was „hospitalized with unexplained illness after reported vaping or e-cigarette use”, Dr Jennifer Layden, the chief medical officer and state epidemiologist in Illinois, said.

CDC director Robert Redfield said: „We are saddened to hear of the first death related to the outbreak of severe lung disease in those who use e-cigarette or ‚vaping’ devices.”

He added: „This tragic death in Illinois reinforces the serious risks associated with e-cigarette products.”

What is the illness?

The cause of the mystery illness has not been identified, but all involve vaping in some form.

„In many cases, patients have acknowledged recent use of THC-containing product,” the CDC’s head of non-infectious diseases, Dr Ileana Arias, said.

Those affected had symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue as well as some cases of vomiting and diarrhoea. There is no evidence of an infectious disease – such as a virus or bacteria – being responsible.

But there is much that remains a mystery.

„It isn’t clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar presentations,” Dr Arias said.

There have been 22 cases in the state of Illinois, with patients ranging from 17 to 38 years old.

The 22 states affected are largely in the centre and north-east of the country, from Minnesota to North Carolina, though cases have also been reported in California, Texas, and New Mexico.

Officials have ordered laboratory tests of vaping liquid samples in a bid to identify any harmful compounds.

A „black market” is known to exist for THC-containing vape cartridges, which are sold legally through medical marijuana dispensaries in some states.

Users in online communities have warned of the dangers of unregulated fake cartridges.

Is regular vaping safe?

No cause for the mystery illness has been identified – and the link to THC products is not clear yet either.

Mitch Zeller of the US Food and Drug administration said it was important to understand that „we find ourselves in the early stages of these investigations trying to piece together the facts.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionSmoking v vaping: Watch lab test results

He said the FDA was exploring whether the products were used as intended or being modified by adding something to them.

The president of the American Vaping Association, Gregory Conley, said in a statement on Thursday that he was „confident” the illnesses were being caused by devices containing cannabis or other synthetic drugs, not nicotine.

But Dr Brian King from the CDC’s office on smoking and health warned against thinking of vaping as completely safe.

„We do know that e-cigarettes do not emit a harmless aerosol,” he said.

„There’s a variety of harmful ingredients identified, including things like ultrafine particulates, heavy metals like lead and cancer causing chemicals,” he said, along with diacetyl – a flavouring used to give a „buttery” taste that has been linked to „severe respiratory illness”.

He also warned of the possibility that similar cases had been happening for a long time, but the connection between them had been missed.

„It’s possible that the reported cases could have been occurring before this investigation was even initiated,” he said.

Dr King said it was possible „we weren’t necessarily capturing them, but now there’s increased diligence in terms of the current investigation that we’re better able to”.

At least two people have previously died in the US after their e-cigarette exploded in their face.

First vape death in the US recorded in Illinois – BBC News


A person vapingImage copyright Getty Images

A patient has died after developing a severe respiratory disease due to vaping in the first such death in the US, say health officials.

It comes as experts investigate a mystery lung disease across the US that is linked to use of e-cigarettes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there were 193 „potential cases” in 22 US states.

Many of the cases involve vaping THC, the main active compound in cannabis, CDC experts said.

The cases were reported over the course of two months between 28 June and 20 August.

The person who died was „hospitalized with unexplained illness after reported vaping or e-cigarette use”, Dr Jennifer Layden, the chief medical officer and state epidemiologist in Illinois, said.

CDC director Robert Redfield said: „We are saddened to hear of the first death related to the outbreak of severe lung disease in those who use e-cigarette or ‚vaping’ devices.”

He added: „This tragic death in Illinois reinforces the serious risks associated with e-cigarette products.”

What is the illness?

The cause of the mystery illness has not been identified, but all involve vaping in some form.

„In many cases, patients have acknowledged recent use of THC-containing product,” the CDC’s head of non-infectious diseases, Dr Ileana Arias, said.

Those affected had symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue as well as some cases of vomiting and diarrhoea. There is no evidence of an infectious disease – such as a virus or bacteria – being responsible.

But there is much that remains a mystery.

„It isn’t clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar presentations,” Dr Arias said.

There have been 22 cases in the state of Illinois, with patients ranging from 17 to 38 years old.

The 22 states affected are largely in the centre and north-east of the country, from Minnesota to North Carolina, though cases have also been reported in California, Texas, and New Mexico.

Officials have ordered laboratory tests of vaping liquid samples in a bid to identify any harmful compounds.

A „black market” is known to exist for THC-containing vape cartridges, which are sold legally through medical marijuana dispensaries in some states.

Users in online communities have warned of the dangers of unregulated fake cartridges.

Is regular vaping safe?

No cause for the mystery illness has been identified – and the link to THC products is not clear yet either.

Mitch Zeller of the US Food and Drug administration said it was important to understand that „we find ourselves in the early stages of these investigations trying to piece together the facts.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionSmoking v vaping: Watch lab test results

He said the FDA was exploring whether the products were used as intended or being modified by adding something to them.

The president of the American Vaping Association, Gregory Conley, said in a statement on Thursday that he was „confident” the illnesses were being caused by devices containing cannabis or other synthetic drugs, not nicotine.

But Dr Brian King from the CDC’s office on smoking and health warned against thinking of vaping as completely safe.

„We do know that e-cigarettes do not emit a harmless aerosol,” he said.

„There’s a variety of harmful ingredients identified, including things like ultrafine particulates, heavy metals like lead and cancer causing chemicals,” he said, along with diacetyl – a flavouring used to give a „buttery” taste that has been linked to „severe respiratory illness”.

He also warned of the possibility that similar cases had been happening for a long time, but the connection between them had been missed.

„It’s possible that the reported cases could have been occurring before this investigation was even initiated,” he said.

Dr King said it was possible „we weren’t necessarily capturing them, but now there’s increased diligence in terms of the current investigation that we’re better able to”.

At least two people have previously died in the US after their e-cigarette exploded in their face.

Cannabis Confusion Over Hemp, Marijuana Creates Issues For Colorado Law Enforcement – CBS Denver

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– A Greeley woman is breathing much easier after drug charges against her were dropped. It’s an example of what’s becoming a more common case of confusion in Colorado involving two types of cannabis plants.

(credit: CBS)

It was in May when a truck driving down Interstate 70 in Eagle County was stopped for a traffic violation. Megan Meyer was driving that truck and arrested on charges of transporting more than 100 pounds of pot.

(credit: CBS)

She had been hired just a few days earlier by a CBD company to drive hemp from Colorado to Las Vegas.

(credit: CBS)

“I’m being told $1 million fine, 30 years in prison, sitting there in your handcuffs thinking, ‘Oh my God,’” Meyer told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.

The boxes in the truck were taken as evidence, along with a container of oil.

(credit: Eagle County)

Meyer said, “Industrial hemp flowers like the product I was carrying looks a lot and smells like marijuana. The only way you can tell the difference is with analysis of the THC content.”

Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants but hemp contains a much lower level of the psychoactive ingredient THC.

(credit: Eagle County)

Hemp is now used to make CBD products. It was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

Eagle district Attorney Bruce Brown says the charges are being dropped against Meyer after the evidence was tested.

(credit: CBS)

“We did test some material of the plant that was seized from the vehicle she was driving and we determined that it appears to be hemp, not marijuana.”

(credit: CBS)

He says since there is no roadside test, one alternative could be to give out a summons instead of taking the person into custody until the product being seized can be tested.

“Law enforcement officials are not in a good position when they make a stop of a car and detect the presence of plant material consistent with marijuana,” Brown added.

(credit: CDOT)

The 160 pounds of hemp seized will be now returned to the owner in a case of cannabis confusion, that is more than likely to happen again.