Grandmother sues Disney World for millions after CBD oil arrest – WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

ORLANDO, Fla. – A grandmother who was arrested outside Walt Disney World is suing the happiest place on earth with the help of a well-known attorney.

Hester Burkhalter, 69, was arrested in April after Disney security found a bottle of CBD oil while searching her purse at a security checkpoint.

According to TMZ, civil rights attorney Ben Crump just filed a lawsuit against Disney, the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on behalf of Burkhalter.

Crump is most notably known for representing the family of George Floyd. Floyd was an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis who was killed by a police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded for his life.

The TMZ report reads, According to the lawsuit, obtained by TMZ, Hester says she was arrested and detained by cops at Disney World in April 2019 — even though she claims the CBD oil was purely for medical purposes related to her arthritis and didn’t contain THC.

CBD oil is extracted from the flowers of marijuana plants, but it doesn’t produce a high. Burkhalter said she had a doctor’s note saying it was prescribed for her arthritis.

Burkhalter went on to state that she panicked while being placed in the back of a police car and began vomiting. She claims that she was denied medical attention and subjected to a miserable 15-hour ordeal.

The grandmother added that she was humiliated because the officers allegedly made her strip down at the jail to be searched.

In the suit, Burkhalter is alleging assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, defamation and emotional distress among many others, according to Crump’s law firm.

She is requesting more than $18 million in damages plus additional damages for her husband and other family members who were vacationing at the theme park with her.

[RELATED: Charges dropped against great-grandma with CBD oil at Disney World]

In May, all charges against the grandmother were dropped after prosecutors said that the case against Burkhalter wasn’t suitable for prosecution.

Court records show she pleaded not guilty.

New CBD Report Highlights Industry’s Challenges Amid COVID-19 – Hemp Grower

The spotted lanternfly (scientific name Lycorma delicatula) is a non-native invasive planthopper that has been making its way throughout the northeastern U.S., feeding on and destroying farm crops, including apples, peaches and grapes, and trees, such as maples and black walnuts. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Native Invasive Species Information Center, the lanternfly has also been known to “severely impact” hops (scientific name Humulus lupulus), a relative of the hemp plant. (Cannabis and Humulus are both members of the Cannabaceae family, order Rosales.)

The pest, also known as the lanternmoth, is “native to China, India and Vietnam [and] is thought to have arrived as egg masses on a stone shipment in 2012,” according to Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Science (CALS). “The first infestation was found in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014 in a wooded area of Ailanthus altissima, or Tree of Heaven,” Cornell CALS reported. Since then, “despite a quarantine of the townships involved, and efforts to eradicate this pest, spotted lanternfly has proved difficult to contain,” according to Cornell CALS, and has spread throughout many Pennsylvania counties and into various regions of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

BrianHPhoto | Adobe Stock

A group of spotted lanternfly nymphs resting on a small tree.

In Pennsylvania alone, the devastation “is costing the … economy about $50 million and eliminating nearly 500 jobs each year,” according to a Penn State study, as the York Daily Record reported in January. 

Contributing to the spreading infestations is the bug’s ability to lay egg masses containing 30 to 50 eggs each, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and its widely reported ability to lay those masses on a variety of different surfaces.

“It’s only a matter of time until they occupy all the habitat that, potentially, based on our climate models, is good for them,” says Christopher Tipping, Ph.D., a professor of biology at Delaware Valley University (often referred to as Del Val) in Doylestown, Pa. Those climate models “are based on photo period, climate, temperature, rainfall, plant diversity, all that,” he explains.

Entomology Today (ET) shared a map that modeled—based on research by U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography in China—”what other locales offer potentially suitable habitat for the invasive insect.” According to ET, “In the United States, their findings show most of New England and the mid-Atlantic states as well as parts of the central U.S. and Pacific Northwest are vulnerable to establishment of the spotted lanternfly if it finds its way there. … Globally, they also found suitable habitat in much of Europe plus parts of eastern Asia and the southern reaches of Africa, Australia, and South America.”

“They’re tremendous. They can disperse a great distance. Those little spider-looking nymphs have the ability to walk a long way and they can feed on a great variety of plants,” says Tipping.

Are Hemp Crops at Risk?

Despite hemp’s sister plant (hops) being impacted by the lanternfly, several biologists/entomologists with experience in the regions where lanternfly populations currently exist suggest that hemp farmers may be spared the devastation the invasive insect is causing other crops. However, research thus far is limited and more needs to be done, especially on different hemp (and all cannabis) varieties.

“While we haven’t observed the spotted lantern fly feeding or laying eggs on hemp yet, this may still be a possibility,” says Alyssa A. Collins, Ph.D., director of the Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center at The Pennsylvania State University. “We have both hemp fiber/grain and CBD photoperiod-sensitive/auto-flower variety trials at two geographic locations in Pennsylvania this year: Lancaster County (Southeast Agricultural Research and Extension Center, where I am based) and Centre County (Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center, just outside of State College). The spotted lanternfly is not yet established in Centre County, but this will be the first growing season that an established population of spotted lanternfly is on our research farm in Lancaster County. 

“We will be eager to watch our plots to see if hemp becomes a target for the pest and evaluate the varieties accordingly,” adds Collins. “I’m curious to know if the woody-stalked mature CBD varieties will be able to support feeding or if they are unattractive or have a biochemistry that is deterrent to feeding.”

The Pennsylvania State University has just started formal research, under research technologist Lauren Briggs, to see if hemp could support the spotted lantern fly as its only food source. (See the photo of the “bug dorms.”)

Photo by Dr. Alyssa Collins. 

At The Pennsylvania State University, spotted lanternfly research technologist Lauren Briggs is beginning a small feeding observation to study hemp as a food source for the invasive insect. She has added up to 80 nymphs in each cage and will track each week to see how many survive into adulthood.  

“They have some very specific plants they prefer to feed on, and the question is still out,” says Tipping, regarding the full range of plants the lanternfly might target. “They have been shown to be able to live successfully through most of their life stages on hops, and hops are in the same family as cannabis.”

Tipping says he applied for a grant to study the lanternfly on a crop of industrial hemp but was unsuccessful. “The regulations in Pennsylvania can be a little tough. … We’re getting better, but they tend to be a little restricted. So I haven’t been able to do that,” he says. “What I’ve been doing is visiting a lot of the local hemp producers, and I scout their fields.”

While Tipping hasn’t yet been able to conduct formal research to study the lanternfly and any potential impact on hemp (he has plans to grow his own hemp to do so), he has observed the lanternfly in action and has collaborated with local farmers to gauge what they are seeing. “I have had people send me pictures of young [lanternflies] that find themselves on young hemp plants, but they don’t tend to stay,” he says. “Two years ago, I had a student who was interested in hemp. He grew some industrial hemp with me, and we were looking at some photoperiod effects and things like that. And we had found a bunch of spotted lanternflies, and we just put them on the plants, and they did not want to stay on the plant. So, I think at this point, when I hear of them on [hemp] plants, it’s more of a ‘I’m just visiting. I’m getting a drink and I’m moving on.’”

Tipping notes that “the nature of these insects is that they feed on so many hosts as they develop, and they’re constantly on the move to find that optimal nutritional profile that they need to develop. Grapes for sure are one of the bigger ag problems. In the fall, they get to be a problem on certain hardwoods—maples—and right now I can find them on young walnuts, quite significantly, but as soon as they get their wings, they’re going to start flying and looking for their favorite hosts and perhaps some other hosts we haven’t quite identified just yet.”

Current research suggests, Tipping points out, that the insect’s meal of choice is the Tree of Heaven, which, like the lanternfly, is a non-native invasive species brought to the U.S. from Asia; and while the lanternfly is devastating certain agricultural crops and residential trees in the U.S., based on what is known to date, it does not seem to pose a significant threat to hemp.

“People see five or six of them in their field and they get panicky, and I understand. But they don’t stay there,” says Tipping.

In New Jersey, another state with regions where lanternfly populations have developed into infestations, hemp has not proven to be a favored lanternfly host. “We have not had any reports of spotted lanternfly on hemp in New Jersey,” Jeff Wolfe, Public Information Officer for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, commented in an email.

Smoking or vaping cannabis could cause strokes, heart attacks – MarketWatch

Some studies are sending dreams of cannabis being a cure-all up in smoke.

The American Heart Association is warning that marijuana use shows “substantial risks” and “no benefit” in cardiovascular health, and its deputy chief science and medical officer is recommending that people “not smoke or vape any substance, including cannabis products, because of the potential harm to the heart, lungs and blood vessels.”

Marijuana contains the psychoactive chemical THC (which gives users the “high”), as well as more than 100 compounds (cannabinoids, such as the popular cannabidiol, or CBD ) chemically related to THC that are still not entirely understood. Studies suggest that they inhibit some enzymes in the body that can affect the way we metabolize certain heart disease medications, such as cholesterol-lowering statins and blood-thinning warfarin, which skews what’s considered a safe dosage.

So in a scientific paper published Wednesday, the American Heart Association (AHA) cites a growing crop of observational studies suggesting that cannabis use is linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation, or AFib) and heart failure; a nearly 2.5 times higher risk of strokes; chest pain or angina; and high blood pressure.

Some 2 million Americans with heart disease currently use marijuana or have used it in the past, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which notes that more than 39 million U.S. adults have used the drug in the past year.

What’s more, the AHA reports that THC appears to stimulate the body’s “fight or flight” response, which can trigger a higher heart rate, a greater demand for oxygen by the heart, higher blood pressure while laying down, and dysfunction within the walls of the arteries. The AHA also reports that states that have legalized cannabis have seen an increase in hospitalizations and ER visits for heart attacks.

The heart-health body called out inhaling combustible cannabis, in particular, as smoking and inhaling marijuana (regardless of THC potency) has been shown to increase the concentrations of carbon monoxide and tar in the body similar to the effects of smoking a tobacco cigarette. “People who use cannabis need to know there are potentially serious health risks in smoking or vaping it, just like tobacco smoke,” said Dr. Rose Marie Robertson, the deputy chief science and medical officer for the American Heart Association, in a statement.

Yet many Americans assume smoking or vaping marijuana isn’t as dangerous as smoking cigarettes, even though smoking marijuana usually involves taking a large hit and holding it in, as opposed to the more frequent, smaller puffs used for smoking cigarettes. Therefore, smoking cannabis may deposit as much — if not more — of the chemicals in the lungs as when people smoke cigarettes. And vaping has been shown to carry health risks, especially after vaping-related lung illness sickened hundreds of Americans last year.

Edibles aren’t entirely in the clear, however, as it’s all-too-easy to accidentally ingest too much of the drug. A Canadian man with pre-existing heart disease had a heart attack last year, an hour after eating most of a lollipop laced with 90 milligrams of THC. He had taken it to treat his arthritis pain so that he could sleep better. Researchers noted that people typically inhale 7 milligrams while smoking a single marijuana joint.

Related:‘CBD has the potential to harm you,’ FDA warns consumers

But then again, research has suggested that CBD, which does not intoxicate users, has been associated with lower blood pressure, lower heart rate and reduced seizures, which are all good things.

CBD also shows some promise for treating anxiety disorders. And cannabis has been found to treat pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety and loss of appetite caused by cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies. Indeed, medical marijuana is legal in 33 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., where it is prescribed for pain management, anxiety and depression.

The problem is, research into cannabis’ complex relationship with the cardiovascular system remains in the weeds because it’s illegal under U.S. federal law. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which limits scientists from studying it, or even getting access to enough high-quality product to study it.

“We urgently need carefully designed, prospective short- and long-term studies regarding cannabis use and cardiovascular safety as it becomes increasingly available and more widely used,” said Robert L. Page II, chair of the AHA writing group for the statement. “The public needs fact-based, valid scientific information about cannabis’s effect on the heart and blood vessels.”

Related:FDA releases guidelines for cannabis-related research, but CBD will have to wait

The cannabis industry agrees on the need for more research, although it questioned the American Heart Association’s more dire health claims.

“The cannabis industry is on the same page as the American Heart Association in calling for more research for many reasons, including the dearth of definitive evidence supporting their claims,” Morgan Fox, the media relations director for the National Cannabis Industry Association, told MarketWatch by email.

“Cannabis — like almost any other psychoactive substances — can have harms associated with its consumption, but it is clear that the harms associated with prohibition and keeping the cannabis market underground and unregulated are far worse for the consumer and society,” he added, while calling cannabis “objectively safer” than many other legal substances. “Regulation is necessary to facilitate the research and education that are key to helping adults make informed decisions about whether and how to consume cannabis.”

Cannabis use has become more acceptable in American society, as 11 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. And there’s money to be made here. Barclays estimates that the U.S. cannabis market would be $28 billion if it was legalized by the federal government today, reaching $41 billion by 2028, while the CBD market is expected to hit $2.1 billion this year, as MarketWatch previously reported.

Grandmother Arrested For CBD At Disney World Sues Company With Powerful Legal Team – Marijuana Moment

A measure to effectively decriminalize a wide range of psychedelics has officially qualified for the November ballot in Washington, D.C.

The Board of Elections made the certification announcement during a virtual meeting on Wednesday, confirming that activists had collected enough signatures place the measure before voters in the nation’s capital.

Decriminalize Nature D.C. turned in their signatures last month following an intensive petitioning process that saw reform advocates from across the country fly in to the nation’s capital to offer assistance. The campaign needed 24,835 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure and they turned in about 35,000 raw submissions.

After independently observing the validation process, the campaign said last week that it was confident that it had enough to qualify—and the board made that official during their meeting, deeming that 25,477 of the group’s submissions were valid.

Now D.C. residents will be able to decide whether to approve the initiative, which would make entheogenic substances such as psilocybin and ayahuasca among the district’s lowest law enforcement priorities.

Decriminalize Nature D.C. is in the process of formulating its communications and outreach strategy to make sure voters are informed about the initiative before they hit the polls. But like with the signature gathering effort, there are some unique challenges activists will have to overcome amid the coronavirus pandemic and resulting social distancing protocols.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, our campaign saw strong support from D.C. voters for Initiative 81 from all eight wards,” Melissa Lavasani, the chairwoman of Decriminalize Nature D.C., said in a press release. “Every District voter who signed the petition to put the initiative on the ballot helped give D.C. residents this historic opportunity to change outdated laws that criminalize people who use natural substances to overcome anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other conditions.”

A poll released in February showed that 51 percent of residents supported decriminalizing psychedelics. After they were read the pros and cons arguments, support increased to 59 percent.

“We are excited to continue educating voters ahead of the election,” Lavasani said. “Although the pandemic is an added challenge, I am confident that Initiative 81 will pass on November 3 and that D.C. will take this important step towards ending another part of the destructive and wasteful war on drugs.”

At the congressional level, the group has at least one opponent: Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD).

While not a voting resident of the District, he’s made a habit of attempting to leverage Congress’s control over D.C. funding to block drug policy reform. Typically that’s been reserved to pushing an amendment to prevent the jurisdiction from legalizing marijuana sales, but last month, he filed a measure to undermine the psychedelics measure.

The congressman’s proposal before the House Appropriations Committee would have made it so only psilocybin mushrooms would be low police priorities and only if a doctor recommended them for medical reasons. But he withdrew it rather than force a vote, and also passed up the opportunity to file the measure for consideration on the House floor last week. That said, it is possible a senator will pursue the restriction in that chamber’s version of the D.C. spending bill.

The D.C. measure’s qualification for the ballot is the latest development in an increasingly prominent psychedelics reform movement in the U.S. and beyond.

In May 2019, Denver became the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin, with the approval of a local ballot measure. Soon after, officials in Oakland, California, decriminalized possession of all plant- and fungi-based psychedelics. The City Council in Santa Cruz, California, voted to make the enforcement of laws against psychedelics among the city’s lowest enforcement priorities in January.

On Tuesday, Canada’s health minister granted exemptions allowing certain cancer patients to legally use psilocybin for end-of-life care.

Here’s a status update on other 2020 drug policy reform campaigns across the country: 

Oregon’s secretary of state confirmed last month that separate measures to legalize psilocybin therapy and decriminalize possession of all drugs while expanding treatment services will appear on the November ballot.

Montana activists said last month that county officials have already certified that they collected enough signatures to place two marijuana legalization measure on the state ballot, though the secretary of state’s office has yet to make that official.

In Arizona, the organizers of a legalization effort turned in 420,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot last month.

Organizers in Nebraska last month submitted 182,000 signatures in an attempt to put a medical marijuana measure on November’s ballot.

Idaho activists behind a medical marijuana legalization initiative were hoping to get a second wind after a federal judge said recently that the state must make accommodations for a separate ballot campaign due to signature gathering complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the other group last week, hopes are dashed.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and stay-at-home mandates, separate measures to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes qualified for South Dakota’s November ballot.

The New Jersey legislature approved putting a cannabis legalization referendum before voters as well.

And in Mississippi, activists gathered enough signatures to qualify a medical cannabis legalization initiative for the ballot—though lawmakers also approved a competing (and from advocates’ standpoint, less desirable) medical marijuana proposal that will appear alongside the campaign-backed initiative.

A campaign to legalize cannabis in Missouri officially gave up its effort for 2020 due to signature collection being virtually impossible in the face of social distancing measures.

North Dakota marijuana legalization activists are shifting focus and will seek qualification for the 2022 ballot.

Washington State activists had planned to pursue a drug decriminalization and treatment measure through the ballot, but citing concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak, they announced last month that they will be targeting the legislature instead.

Colorado Youth Marijuana Use ‘Has Not Significantly Changed’ Since Legalization, State Data Shows

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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Brett Favre believes in CBD’s future in NFL, partners with Green Eagle – Sporting News

Brett Favre can still recall how it felt when Reggie White sacked him before they were teammates in Green Bay.   

„Reggie sacked me, and I knew I separated my shoulder,” Favre told Sporting News. 

The former Packers quarterback can also still recall the multiple injections that followed at hafltime and after that game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Milwaukee County Stadium on Nov. 15, 1992. That was just the seventh of Favre’s 297 consecutive starts during a 20-year Hall of Fame career. Now, the NFL’s ultimate Ironman is wondering whether a product pushing into more NFL conversations would have helped throughout his prime. 

MORE: 11 insane things I did because of Favre

„When the injection wore off I was in tremendous pain,” Favre said. „Would the CBD products have helped? I don’t know how much, but it could have given the circumstances. You take what’s available at the time.” 

CBD — or cannabidiol — is one of the ingredients in marijuana, and CBD products are being sold as an alternative to pain medications. On Wednesday, Favre announced a partnership with Green Eagle, a company that produces CBD products ranging from cream and roll-ons to sprays and liquid capsules. The products are 100 percent THC free. That is the other main ingredient in marijuana.  

Favre, 50, is one of the former NFL players now endorsing CBD products as an alternative source of pain relief — and that has been a learning process for the Hall of Fame quarterback. For as many endorsements as Favre has done in the past, this one was unexpected. 

„Not that my opinion is mainstream in America, but if you’re like me you can’t help but go somewhere here or there and see something CBD-related,” Favre said. „My thought had been, ‚That’s probably a bunch of pot smokers.’ That’s not the case.”  

Favre learned more about CBD in talking with Green Eagle CEO Joseph Smadja, and he used the products to prepare for a half-marathon with his wife and daughter last December. He was surprised by the results.  

„It’s way ahead of the market here,” Favre said. „It’s mainstream in various facets. That helped with the credibility. There is zero THC, which is the drug people put in brownies or whatever. Me being an advocate of a non-addictive pain reliever — it’s what I thought was a good fit.

„At some point it will be readily available in mainstream sports,” Favre said. „How soon? It’s hard to say.” 

Favre isn’t the first NFL player to enter the CBD space. Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski endorsed CBD products during his brief retirement. The NFL also relaxed some of its marijuana-related policies as part of the latest collective bargaining agreement. That could pave the way for CBD products in the future.  

Favre, who dealt with painkiller and alcohol additions throughout his career, believes CBD will be a safer alternative that grows in popularity over the next several years.  

„I’ve never smoked marijuana,” Favre said. „It’s not my thing. I was addicted to pain pills, which was bad enough, and I certainly think this is a welcome relief and alternative to pain pills.” 

Green Eagle emerged in 2020 as one of those companies joining the CBD marketplace. For Favre, the benefits of the substance have helped him in his post-retirement career. He believes active players can enjoy the same benefits.  

„The NFL and sports in general should look into it for general stuff,” he said. „If you tear an ACL, go to a doctor and get it fixed. For aches and pains, tendinitis, things like that? Absolutely, it works. It’s good. It benefits all.” 

Marijuana is not good for your heart, studies say – The Mercury News

By Sandee LaMotte | CNN

You may love smoking weed, but it does not love your heart, according to the American Heart Association’s new scientific statement on marijuana.

“The American Heart Association recommends that people not smoke or vape any substance, including cannabis products, because of the potential harm to the heart, lungs and blood vessels,” said Dr. Rose Marie Robertson, the deputy chief science and medical officer for the American Heart Association, in a statement.

The new scientific statement, published Wednesday in the AHA journal Circulation, examined existing research on the connection between cannabis and the heart.

The statement found using weed has “the potential to interfere with prescribed medications” as well as “trigger cardiovascular conditions or events, such as heart attacks and strokes,” said clinical pharmacologist Robert Page II, who chaired the medical writing group for the statement.

Anyone planning to use marijuana should discuss possible risks with their health professional first, said Page, who is a professor in the department of clinical pharmacy and physical medicine/rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, Colorado.

“If people choose to use cannabis for its medicinal or recreational effects, the oral and topical forms, for which doses can be measured, may reduce some of the potential harms,” Page said in a statement.

“It is also vitally important that people only use legal cannabis products because there are no controls on the quality or the contents of cannabis products sold on the street,” he added.

Heart complications

Some of the studies analyzed by the medical group found heart rhythm abnormalities, such as tachycardia and atrial fibrillation, could occur within the hour after weed containing THC is smoked. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive substance within marijuana that creates a “high.”

Tetrahydrocannabinol can also cause a faster heart rate, increase the heart’s need for oxygen, disrupt the walls of arteries and contribute to higher blood pressure while prone, according to other studies.

“Cannabis smoke contains components similar to tobacco smoke,” Page said, and studies show tobacco-like increases in carbon monoxide and tar in a weed smoker’s blood after smoking marijuana, regardless of the THC content.

Chest pain, heart attacks, heart rhythm disturbances and other serious heart conditions are associated with both tobacco and marijuana carbon monoxide intoxication, the statement said.

For anyone with existing heart disease, risks go up. Smoking weed has triggered heart attacks, a higher risk of strokes and heart failure in people with underlying heart disease, studies show.

In comparison, CBD, or cannabidiol, one of the other 80 chemicals in cannabis, does not give the “high” typically associated with THC. Nor does it appear to cause harm to the heart.

In fact, studies reviewed by the medical group showed possible links to lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate and less inflammation, which is an underlying culprit of the narrowing of the arteries that can lead to heart disease and strokes.

However, despite the hundreds of products currently being sold over the counter and online, there is only one CBD-derived product approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the group wrote.

‘Urgent’ need for in-depth research

There is one caveat to all these research findings: Existing studies on marijuana and the heart are “short-term, observational and retrospective studies, which identify trends but do not prove cause and effect,” Page said.

There is an “urgent” need for “carefully designed, prospective short- and long-term studies regarding cannabis use and cardiovascular safety,” Page added.

But that’s tough to do in today’s climate, because marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. That limits research dramatically, and the DEA should remove those restrictions so that scientists can better study marijuana’s effects, the group advised.

In addition, the medical group recommended cannabis to be part of the US Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco control and prevention efforts, which may mean that there would be age restrictions on who can purchase weed, retailer regulations and even excise taxes.

The American Heart Association is looking over the scientific statement and will be releasing new policy updates in coming weeks, according to Michelle Kirkwood, an AHA spokesperson.

“The public needs fact-based, valid scientific information about cannabis’s effect on the heart and blood vessels,” Page said.

“Research funding at federal and state levels must be increased to match the expansion of cannabis use — to clarify the potential therapeutic properties and to help us better understand the cardiovascular and public health implications of frequent cannabis use.”

™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Is the Coronavirus Crisis Slowing Down Social Equity in Cannabis? – Cannabis Dispensary

As several states see record-setting cannabis sales despite a global economic downturn, advocates and business owners are concerned that the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is delaying the creation of an equitable cannabis industry.

While smaller equity applicants from marginalized communities are denied access to the market, police departments and major corporations are cashing in on ancillary cannabis contracts worth multiple millions of dollars.

In Massachusetts, only three out of 70 equity, economic empowered and disadvantaged business enterprises awarded cannabis licenses have been able to open as of July. Shaleen Title, one of the state’s four Cannabis Control Commissioners with a record of fighting for inclusivity, recently told Boston Public Radio she was “embarrassed” by the state’s equity efforts. In the spring, Massachusetts was one of the only states in the country not to declare recreational cannabis essential amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Massachusetts’ statewide budget for social equity training and technical assistance is $300,000. But that figure pales in comparison to the administrative fees and private security contracts paid to police and municipalities by cannabis companies. Since 2016, cannabis company New England Treatment Access (NETA) has paid police $1.1 million in extra salary in the city of Northampton and $1.58 million in overtime officer pay in the city of Brookline.

These law enforcement contracts are in addition to the $2.6 million “impact fee” NETA has paid to the city of Northampton since opening, a 3% tax created to offset the additional liabilities that come with dispensaries, such as increased foot traffic and security needs. In Brookline, public budget documents show $435,000 of NETA’s impact fee will go to the town’s police department.

Illinois licenses on hold

In April, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker announced the indefinite postponement of the next round of 75 dispensary licenses – one that was meant to prioritize equity applicants. On June 30, the state Department of Agriculture (IDOA) similarly suspended the awarding of craft grower, infuser and transporter cannabis licenses.

Both Pritzker and IDOA Director Jerry Costello II blamed COVID-19 for the setbacks. 

The licensing delays come as Illinois’ cannabis business booms. In the first six months of recreational sales, which began in January 2020, cannabis brought the state $52.8 million in tax revenue, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. For the month of July alone, revenue from marijuana stores in the state surpassed $60 million. Projections for next year have cannabis becoming a $1-billion business in Illinois.


„Identify the most marginalized and oppressed groups, find out what they need to be effective in the space, and we stick to those principles so the playing field is even.”

– Ru Johnson, chair of the Marketing Committee of the Minority Cannabis Business Association


License applicants in Illinois – who were advised to lease property, create payroll systems, and invest in other business costs before applying – seem to be indefinitely locked out of a market that just grew by over $13 million in a month. 

RELATED: After Licensing Delay, Illinois Social Equity Applicant Remains Optimistic, Outlines Enterprising Plans 

But the story is different for the Dutch consulting conglomerate KPMG. The Sun-Times reported last month that the $30-billion-per-year professional services firm was awarded nearly $7 million in no-bid contracts to audit cannabis license applications. But because of a KPMG internal travel ban, the status of these audits is up in the air since a mandate in the contract requires applications to be picked up by hand.

Advocates call on the industry to stay the course

The dire situation of cannabis equity applicants across the country, combined with heightened social tensions amid COVID-19 and the high-profile police murders of Black Americans like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, make now a critical time to continue the fight for equity, according to cannabis industry representatives that spoke to Cannabis Business Times for this article.

“Coronavirus is generally exposing the lack of equity across many industries,” said Ru Johnson, chair of the Marketing Committee of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and founder of Roux Black Consulting. 

“I think we solve the lack of equity in cannabis the same way we said we’d do it before – resources and equity. … Identify the most marginalized and oppressed groups, find out what they need to be effective in the space, and we stick to those principles so the playing field is even,” she said.

Tahir Johnson, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), agreed. “Coronavirus has caused setbacks across most industries, and cannabis social equity programs are no exception,” he said.

“As legalization is considered at state and federal levels this year and next, it is important that social equity remains at the top of the conversation. … The fact that communities of color have been ravaged by the war on drugs yet make up less than one-fifth of ownership of a multi-billion dollar industry is something that must be corrected,” he said.

John Bailey, founder of the Black Cannabis Equity Initiative (BCEI) in Colorado, called the state’s progress in cannabis social equity “a work in progress,” in an interview with Westword. Bailey, a political consultant who founded BCEI in 2019, said he joined the industry to “be the reasonable adult in the room, and engage these young white kids dominating the industry with the conversation that they’re drinking from a well they didn’t dig.” 

Although well-respected for its early-mover position in cannabis, Colorado is also notorious for diversity struggles. In Denver, a recent study showed three out of four cannabis companies were white-owned, with just 6% owned by African-Americans. 

The issuing of delivery licenses for medical sales was supposed to create another opportunity for microbusinesses and social equity applicants. But like licenses of all types in so many states, the city of Denver has yet to officially adopt medical delivery. Under Colorado law, recreational cannabis delivery is not allowed until 2021.  

Some encouraging signs

It’s not all bad news for cannabis equity. The city of Boston is set for the opening of its second recreational dispensary, Berkshire Roots. The company has outlined a plan to hire local staff and “provide training, mentoring, professional and technical services for disproportionately-impacted individuals.”  

Nationally, the House of Representatives appears set to vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act this fall. Part of the MORE Act includes the creation of a Cannabis Justice Office, which would be responsible for executing a Community Reinvestment Grant Program, “to provide eligible entities with funds to administer services for individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including job training, reentry services, literacy programs,” and more.

But if tangible steps to reinforce fair access to the industry are not taken – pandemic or not – cannabis equity is at risk of going the way of this summer’s conferences, concerts and festivals: postponed or cancelled because of coronavirus.

Using blockchain to boost traceability in the CBD market –

It has launched​, a free-to-use online search tool allowing consumers to trace CBD products from the shelf to seed, with every link along the production chain verified by blockchain.

According to the group, any CBD product bearing the CAN Quality Mark can be traced and its contents verified using the tool. Users can input a batch number, which will produce instant test results and shelf-to-seed tracing of that CBD product. Users can also enter the brand name or product into the search tab and find the batch number from there.

The system also contains what’s described as consistent and clear product composition analysis conducted by accredited laboratories that guarantees accurate levels of CBD, the absence of contaminants and a full spectrum composition. Full spectrum CBD products contain all the cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant in nature, rather than just CBD, and can deliver a powerful entourage effect with benefits exceeding those delivered by CBD isolate.

The group added that in addition to traceability and testing, the Quality Mark ensures that CBD products are correctly labelled and meet quality requirements.

Existential crisis

The initiative comes amid confusion about the regulatory status of CBD in Europe. It recently emerged that the EC is considering classifying CBD as a narcotic instead of a Novel Food. While a decision won’t be made before September, it could mean that potentially hundreds of CBD and hemp products would be unable to legally retail on the European market.

This could strike a ‘final blow’ to the entire hemp sector, warned the European Industrial Hemp Association. It called the move “political, rather than legal, and absolutely not based on the latest scientific literature nor inspired by the current debate at the United Nations level.”

However, now that it has exited the EU, any changes won’t apply to the UK, where its Food Standards Agency says it still considers CBD a Novel Food and not a narcotic. CBD players in the UK therefore, although perturbed at the prospect of potentially losing business in EU markets, are hoping the move will ultimately help continue to thrust CBD into the mainstream and result in the UK becoming one of the fastest markets in which to legally launch a CBD food product claims to offer consumers:

  1. Laboratory analysis: ​Each product batch is fully analysed according to the quality requirements in CAN’s industry standards and meets the criteria for contaminants and cannabinoid content
  2. Verified origin: ​Each product batch is traced back to its origin: the seed. Every link in the production chain is verified by blockchain
  3. Accurate labelling:​ The labelling of each product is checked in accordance with the requirements in CAN industry standards. Each label is correctly drawn up and 100% reliable

More than 8 million UK consumers are now buying CBD products, according to data published in May by, which sells certified CBD products. Spending exceeding £150 million in the first four months of 2020 alone putting the market on target to achieve revenues of £450 million over the year as a whole, which would represent 50% growth compared to 2019.

The CanCheck tool is currently only available in the Netherlands for products made by CAN founding member HempFlax, Europe’s largest industrial hemp processor. The group hopes the next market is the UK, where it hopes the tool can assist in efforts to build a world-leading CBD regulatory environment that can protect consumers and support SMEs.

As the white label supplier to Jacob Hooy, one of the UK’s best-selling CBD brands, HempFlax’s CBD oil and capsules represent a significant portion of the UK CBD market and can be found at Holland & Barrett, in-store and online.

Simultaneously, the European Industrial Hemp Association has also recently announced plans to invest €3.5 million in CBD and THC testing, which it claimed “illustrates the extensive efforts being made to protect consumers and further the collective understanding of this popular wellness product and may go further in allaying the concerns of the regulator”.

Mark Reinders, CEO of HempFlax, said that using today’s blockchain technology to trace the production will give consumers peace of mind when choosing their CBD products online and in-store.

“Full traceability, in combination with a strict quality control regime such as CAN’s, is the only way to ensure product quality and protect consumers.We hope to see this level of transparency adopted by CBD producers worldwide as a trustworthy and accountable natural CBD market begins to take shape.”

He added the move may help level the unsteady regulatory playing field in Europe.  

“I’m very concerned about some products I see in the market sometimes in terms of how its produced and where it come from. If those brands or products are messing up it could influence the whole industry negatively. Personally, I hope that as many companies as possible are going to join this certification scheme and that other countries will adapt it so that we find a way of regulating the industry where authorities have failed.

„There are a lot of food manufacturers who are looking at CBD as an ingredient. But how can we convince them to start using it if Europe is giving us such an unstable playing field. The Novel Foods entry has been changed four times in the last three years around our product.”

Forging a new generation of CBD food products

A clearer regulatory environment, meanwhile, could help the market move from first-generation CBD products dominated by tinctures and capsules to one where foods could potentially be fortified with CBD to best offer consumers the perceived health benefits of the ingredient.

“Of course, we can’t make medical claims because we don’t have clinical testing,” he stressed. “But what I hear from my customers is that it works against things like anxiety, arthritis, pain and restless leg syndrome.”

He added: “So many people are using CBD. If they [the EC] change the regulatory status to take products off the shelves of mainstream retail, it goes underground because the demand for CBD isn’t going away. That’s risky because there will be no traceability, no control , no food safety and no checks on medical claims. It’s important we don’t give the illegitimate industry any chance”

Professor Mike Barnes outlines opportunity in the UK’s CBD market – Health Europa

Professor Mike Barnes outlines opportunity in the UK’s CBD marketiStock-OlegMalyshev

The UK’s CBD market has flourished despite the impact of COVID-19.

The rest of the world has steamed ahead with the legalisation of medical and recreational cannabis creating multibillion-dollar industries, while the UK has watched quietly from the sidelines. However, the UK’s CBD industry is now flourishing, creating ample opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Professor Mike Barnes, of Medical Cannabis Clinics and Maple Tree Consulting, speaks to Health Europa editor, Stephanie Price, about the evolving UK cannabis industry and the opportunities for investment.

Medical cannabis and CBD in the UK

Despite the use of medical cannabis being legalised in the UK in November 2018, , the country’s CBD industry is only now coming into force and Barnes says the beginning of 2020 has seen the market grow despite the impact of COVID-19.

“At the beginning of 2020, the cannabis sector in the UK hardly exploded because COVID-19 came along and prevented that, however, it has still thrived even during this pandemic,” he said. “There are two aspects of the industry in the UK, the first being the prescription medical market. There are four cannabis clinics, and I am associated with one called the Our patient numbers are going up about 20% month on month and we have now seen 470 people who have been prescribed cannabis.

“Patients in the UK now have a bigger choice, we have about eight producers who can bring in oil or flower. Most importantly, from the patients’ point of view, costs are coming down. The cost has halved from January because of more patients being prescribed cannabis and partly because the UK Government changed its mind in March about getting bulk supply in the country, as previously it was only on a patient by patient basis – which added to the costs.”

It was recently revealed that the NHS may manufacture its own cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) with a view to conducting clinical trials for children with epilepsy.

Barnes said: “In one sense it is good news – at last the NHS is taking this seriously. On the other hand, we need to know a bit more about it. However, it will force the children on the study to come off the cannabis medicines that is suiting them at the moment and go onto the trial medication or placebo. Taking children off medication that is working and putting them on a placebo is immoral, frankly.

“The other problem is that there is already a lot of good quality EU GMP producers in the UK now who could participate in the study to make the oil. The NHS making its own oil will delay the study by at least a year, if not more, because they will have to apply for licences and build an approved extraction facility.”

The other side of the cannabis industry in the UK is CBD, he explained, which is taken by around six million people, with a market worth about £300m.

“This is big business; the market is worth about £300m, and six million people are said to have taken CBD. Sales now outstrip Vitamin C and there are lots of good quality CBD companies springing up in the UK. With cannabis, it is such a personalised medicine that it is not something that lends itself to ‘big cannabis’ like ‘big alcohol’, or ‘big pharma’. It can be nimble and make different varieties with different terpenes and strains to suit different people. I would hate to see this industry dominated by ‘big cannabis’, I would like to see the industry in the UK very diversified, with good quality, smaller producers, which have different niches.”

The implications of Novel Foods applications

Companies looking to sell CBD products will now have to go through the Novel Foods application process. A Novel Food is defined as food that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the regulations were introduced. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has given the industry a deadline of 31 March 2021 to submit valid authorisation applications.

Barnes said: “The Novel Foods application process may have an impact – the CBD industry has been a little bit of a mess up until now. There are some really good producers with high quality products, but equally there are people selling products that do not contain ingredients stated on the label. I agree there needs to be more regulation in the sector. To start, we need proper labelling. The public deserve quality, consistent products, but I am doubtful whether the Novel Foods process is the right route as it will drive the smaller players out of the market. We should not push out the ‘small guys.’ However, now we are out of Europe we need not go along with the EU. The sooner this is sorted out the better.”

The CBD market

While the international market dropped significantly after increasing in the latter half of 2019, it is now showing signs of stabilisation, making it a good time to invest in CBD, said Barnes.

He added: “It is a good time to invest in CBD, the international market went up in the latter half of 2019 then the market dropped significantly, however, it is now showing signs of stabilisation. CBD is going to continue to be a real player and its would be lovely to see a UK vertically integrated medical cannabis industry. There are two or three farmers in the UK who want to diversify into cannabis, which would stop supply chain and importation issues, and would also help with good quality, quick product supply that is reasonably cheap. This would also produce jobs at a time when the economy needs jobs and tax income. Colorado alone made several millions of dollars in tax revenue.

“There are 50 countries ahead of us on this. Big players like Canada, the United States, Australia, and Germany have come into the market and there have been mistakes made with investments. There is a lot the UK can learn and hopefully, we can get a lot of it right and get it better than those who are ahead of us.”

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article do not constitute any form of financial advice. Always seek independent, expert advice.

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