Last Week in Weed Issue 15

Last Week in Weed

(Issue 15)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this week’s Last Week in Weed, we’ll be looking at capital-backed start-up Dutchie earning a $1.7billion market valuation, The US White House sacking staff over historic cannabis consumption, and London’s Metropolitan Police to review stop and search for cannabis possession.

Image credit: TechCrunch.com
Ross Lipson and Zach Lipson founders of Dutchie

Dutchie earns a valuation of $1.7 billion valuation

Founded in Bend, Oregon in 2017 by Ross Lipson and Zach Lipson Dutchie is a cannabis ordering platform that connects consumers with retailers. They provide a service that creates and runs websites for cannabis dispensaries as well as processing and tracking orders for pick up. A service that has gained greatly in popularity during the on-going global Covid-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders.

The Capital-backed start-up has recently earned a market valuation of a whopping $1.7billion after raising an additional $200million through its series c funding to become one of the most valuable venture start-ups in the cannabis industry, so far.

It has only been just over 6 months since the company completed its series B funding, raising $35million. This resulted in Dutchie being valued last August at $200million, the exact amount raised in this round of fundraising. Which in turn resulted in the company earning that massive $1.7Billion valuation.

Longer term, this is a retail-first model. The nature of this industry lends itself to a hyperlocal model largely because of the way that plants are cultivated and processed, so I believe retail will remain intact and continue to be successful” – Dutchie co-founder and CEO Ross Lipson

So what changed in such a short amount of time? Well, Dutchie recently acquired two US cannabis companies. GreenBits and LeafLogix make enterprise resource planning and point-of-sale software, respectively. The acquisition of which will allow Dutchie to more easily become an all-in-one cannabis tech platform for its growing customer base.

They are also benefiting from an overall resurgence of excitement and interest in the cannabis investment space that has seen various mergers already this year, further stimulating interest in the emerging sector. Several of Dutchie’s previous investors returned including Thrive Capital, Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital, Gron Ventures, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

This most recent round of financing was also the largest so far for a cannabis startup. Dutchie hasn’t disclosed the price it paid for either company but what we do know is that GreenBits was valued at $58million last year and LeafLogix was valued at $13.9million in 2019. The companies collective employees will now effectively double the size of Dutchie as an employer.

Speaking with online platform TechCrunch.com Dutchie co-founder and CEO Ross Lipson answered a question about whether the company is looking to go public via a merger with a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Companies) he said;

[Dutchie] Isn’t engaged in those talks right now,” but adds that the company will “weigh out the business opportunities as they come. We look at how does this decision bring value to the dispensary and the customer. If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

The involvement of growth equity funds and high-level investors in the cannabis start-up space is a sure sign that cannabis investment is becoming ever more palatable to traditional investors and institutions.

So with the Biden administration set to federally ‘legalise’ cannabis during this first 4-year term and an impending bill to regulate federal banking of cannabis profits, we can expect that this record-breaking valuation won’t be the last.

US White House fires staff for historic cannabis consumption.

US White House staff fired for historic consumption of cannabis

Five members of staff at the US White House have been let go for their historic consumption of cannabis. The announcement was made last Friday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki. The move comes as the new administration seeks to try and balance federal law and hiring guidelines with state legislation. 

“We announced a few weeks ago that the White House had worked with the security service to update the policies to ensure that past marijuana use wouldn’t automatically disqualify staff from serving in the White House. As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use.”

“The bottom line is this, of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy” – Jen Psaki White House press secretary

It is being reported that several other people with a history of consuming cannabis are now being asked to remotely work while the White House conducts suitability reviews into their backgrounds. These are a rather small number when compared to the overall intake of new staff under the new administration, but still nevertheless remains an issue of discrimination.

This issue was first highlighted by NBC News last month. In their report, they spoke with an official that stated after intensive consultation with security officials and the personnel security division at the White House – that they would consider wavering the requirement for all potential appointees in the executive office of the President to be eligible for the highest level clearance, on a case-by-case basis. 

The exception would only be considered to be granted to appointees who had only used cannabis on a ‘limited’ basis in the past and who agreed to cease its usage. This will be enforced by random drug tests for the entirety of their service at the White House. 

They will also have to meet the criteria by not requiring a top-secret security clearance. They would then commence their employment by working remotely for an unspecified time following their last time-consuming cannabis. 

Speaking to NBC news in that same report, a White House official stated that this will “effectively protect our national security while modernizing policies to ensure that talented and otherwise well-qualified applicants with limited marijuana use will not be barred from serving the American people” These comments angered at least one West coast representative who said that;

What’s happening now is a vivid illustration of unrealistic, unfair, and out-of-touch cannabis policies. There is confusion across the country because of out of date laws and the fact that the American public is not waiting for the federal government to get its act together.” – Earl Blumenauer Democratic Rep Oregon

The optics of this look rather bad at a time when the Biden White House is meant to be considering the federal legalisation of cannabis. The White House has stated that hard drug use or more extensive cannabis consumption would remove eligibility for clearance and thus ban them from employment. 

Three of the last five presidents including the current president’s former boss have admitted to consuming cannabis. The idea that past use would make a person unfit for service in the White House or ineligible for a security clearance is laughable” – Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association

As Aaron Smith highlights wonderfully above the level of hypocrisy here is monumental. Every other day we see a story of a budding cannabis entrepreneur making millions in the ‘legal cannabis industry’ while everyday people are denied employment opportunities and a right to participate in the industry in an attempt to advance their station in life. 

If the rumours are to be believed then the US will federally ‘legalise’ cannabis in the next year or two. The question then becomes how do we make sure that the emerging industry is equitable to those whose criminalisation and oppression were the foundations of the modern ‘legal cannabis industry?

Image credit: Complex
MET police to review stop and search on suspicion of cannabis possession

MET Police to review the use of stop and search for cannabis possession

London’s Metropolitan Police (MET) have announced that they are reviewing the use of the controversial section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) known as ‘Stop and Search.’ The move is part of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s attempt to help ease the systemic and historic racial bias of antiquated, draconian, and failing policing policies that disproportionality target black and ethnic individuals.

Statistically speaking you’re NINE times more likely to be stopped and searched if you’re black in the UK. When you are stopped you will be told it’s on suspicion of drug possession, the most common justification given by police for stopping and searching black individuals. 

The results speak for themselves 4 out of 5 of these searches yields no drugs or evidence of criminality at all. So you can see why black and ethnic communities feel disproportionately targeted and harassed by police -it’s because they are!

This month will see the MET start collecting data and researching to examine how effective the forces pursuit of cannabis possession is at tackling violent crime and its effects on public relations with the police. If you think of Neil Woods’s analogy of an arms race between dealers and police then it becomes rather obvious that cannabis prohibition increases all crime, not just violent crime by criminalising and marginalising those that cultivate, consume, and trade cannabis.

It is crucial that our communities feel they are properly listened to and concerns about the disproportionate use of police powers acted upon if we are to improve the trust and confidence among all Londoners.” – Sadiq Khan 

The announcement of the review comes off the back of a report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) last month. The report was put together after a series of high-profile cases caught the mainstream media’s attention last year and the force’s aggressive response to protests following the death of George Floyd in America last May. 

In the report, the body highlighted that the most common answer for an officer stopping and searching an individual was suspicion of possession of drugs and questioned why so much police time and resources are being dedicated to simple possession when so little is ever found.

The report goes on to state that drug searches of black individuals in the UK are far more likely to be conducted without intelligence, the office recording much weaker grounds for stopping and searching, and the majority of detainees being released with no drugs being found. 

The body accepts that cannabis is currently unlawful but questions why so much police time and energy is being used to target possession rather than supply – which carries a much harsher sentence. If they truly believe prohibition works then why aren’t they targeting the producers and dealers not just the end consumer? 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) released a report last October criticising the MET for its excessive and heavy-handed use of stop and search, routinely handcuffing suspects that are found to be innocent, and using the alleged smell of cannabis as the sole grounds for stopping and searching – something they are not supposed to do anymore.

The legitimacy of stop and searches was being undermined by a lack of understanding about the impact of disproportionality, poor communication, consistent use of force over seeking cooperation, the failure to use body-worn video from the outset, and continuing to seek further evidence after the initial grounds for the stop and search were unfounded.” –IOPC Report conclusion

The MET is by far the biggest users of Stop and Search powers with almost half of all stop and searches in England Wales being carried out in their constabulary. So curbing the practice in London could have a great knock-on effect on other forces around the country. It is already being reported by The Guardian that they believe another English force is considering similar changes to its stop and search procedures.

Ultimately, ending the war on drugs would greatly help to end social injustice, reduce institutional racism, classism, and wealth inequality, reduce crime, increase social mobility, rebuild community relations, empower and enrich the marginalised, and finally give everyone the freedom to explore their consciousness free from persecution and oppression at the hands of their government. 

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 14

Last Week in Weed

(Issue 14)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this week’s last week in weed, we look at British American Tobacco taking a 20% stake in US cannabis company Organigram, Mexico’s lower house of Congress passing a new bill to ‘legalise’ cannabis, and the US cannabis giant CuraLeaf purchasing British-based EMMAC Life Sciences.

British American Tobacco takes stake in British cannabis company

UK-based producer of Lucky Strike and Newport cigarettes British American Tobacco (BAT) have announced that they will be taking a 20% stake in the Canadian cannabis company Organigram Holdings Inc

The investment is worth around £126million and represents a market share of 58.3million common shares in Organigram at a price of c$3.79 a share. The announcement saw the stock price of Organigram rise more than 30% from c$1.45 to c$5.07 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

As part of the transaction, the companies will enter into a Product Development Collaboration (PDC) and establish a ‘centre of excellence’ located at Organigram’s New Brunswich indoor facility. The site will handle R&D activities conducted by scientists and researchers from both companies to develop ‘next-generation adult cannabis products” with an initial focus on creating CBD products.

“Now there’s a significant injection of capital so that’s a key for us to expand our own research and development efforts and for potential market expansion as we prepare to look at international markets” –Greg Engel Chief executive Organigram 

The deal allows BAT to add its own members to Organigram’s board and time will only tell just how much influence they will have over the direction and decisions made by the Canadian cannabis producer. We do know that BAT has previously stated that they are ‘committed to providing adults with a wide range of enjoyable and less risky products’ As well as increase the number of its non-combustible product consumers to 50 million by 2030.

This isn’t the first big Tobacco and cannabis company investment. Back in 2018 US rival Altria (Marlboro) bought a 45% stake in Cronos Group for $1.8billion and more recently in 2019 UK-based Imperial Brands took a 20% stake in Canadian company Auxly worth £75million. 

Big Tobacco along with the Alcohol industry is now rather heavily invested in cornering the production and distribution of vaporised, combustible, and drinkable cannabis products. They’re seeking to utilise their vast facilities and extensive networks to outmaneuver their rivals that have emerged from the cannabis industry to supply an ever-increasing demand for cannabis and cannabis-based products. 

While this is an encouraging sign pointing towards a potential accelerating of the inevitable end to the global prohibition of cannabis. It also means that the giant corporations of the world that have for far too long had a stranglehold on many major industries will have first dibs to dominate and monopolise the emerging global cannabis industry.

Mexico inches closer to ‘legalising’ cannabis

Mexico adult-use bill passes lower house of Congress

The second story that we’ll cover this week is one we covered in the very first issue of Last Week in Weed, Mexico’s attempts to finally end the criminaliastion of cannabis consumers and create a legal and regulated adult consumption market. 

Various attempts have been made by the Mexican government to uphold the 2018 Supreme Court decision which triggered a binding precedent. That precedent is meant to force the government into creating legislation to end cannabis prohibition and provide its citizens legal access to cannabis.

In Mexican law, if the supreme court votes the same way on any given subject five times it becomes a “binding precedent” that then becomes the precedent used by all Mexican judges. Last week on March 10th we finally saw some meaningful progress on a bill as the lower house of congress passed new legislation.

The bill passed by 316-127 votes and will now be passed to the countries Senate, where the final vote will happen ahead of the revised deadline later this year. Although the government has been dragging its heels and already missed several deadlines. The Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has expressed that he is confident that the bill will be successful and signed into law.

Should the bill be passed by the Senate, a population of nearly 130 million would have access to the largest adult cannabis consumer market in the world. The passing of the Bill would also create ‘The Mexican Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis’ that would be responsible for issuing the proposed five different types of licenses required to cultivate, transport, import, export, and sell cannabis products. 

Under the proposed bill over 18’s would be allowed to consume and possess up to 28 grams of flower or equivalent purchased through licensed businesses. The bill also allows for the creation of cannabis clubs and is likely to follow the Spanish model and require the same public desecration and lack of commercial advertising. 

The cultivation of up to 6 cannabis plants at home by the individual will, however, require a permit from the government. The bill allows for the large-scale cultivation of cannabis by the nation’s farmers and includes a provision meant to prioritise indigenous groups and smaller farmers in an attempt to promote social equity. 

That being said, the combination of a great climate, cheap labor, and inevitable capitalistic greed makes Mexico a very attractive prospect for the major players from the US, Canada, and other emerging markets to monopolise.

The bill is flawed in the same way that all previous attempts to ‘legalise’ cannabis have been. It doesn’t fully remove criminal punishments for breaking arbitrary rules such as ‘over possession’ or cultivation without a license. Mexican citizens will still face fines and exploitation by the state, so it doesn’t really legalise cannabis does it? 

Ultimately, we cannot legalise cannabis, we can only end the criminalisation of individuals undertaking actions with the plant without a license or expressed governmental permission. We shouldn’t have to ask permission to access any part of nature. We should be free to cultivate whatever relationship we desire with one of our oldest plant companion species.

CuraLeaf buys EMMAC Life Sciences for $286 Million

Curaleaf enters UK market by buying EMMAC Life Sciences

The deal worth $286million was announced last Tuesday as London-based cannabis company EMMAC Life Sciences was acquired by Massachusetts-based US giant Curaleaf. At a time when many North American cannabis producers and companies are slowing their investments and roll out into Europe, Curaleaf is hedging its bets on EMMAC.

The deal will see Curaleaf buy EMMAC with just 15% cash and the remaining 85% in CuraLeaf stock – with an additional $57million will be paid upon EMMAC hitting certain performance targets. 

“This is no criticism of and Canadian companies. I know they were hampered by not being able to get into the U.S. and so they were looking for anywhere to go outside of Canada in order to grow. So they went to Europe because Europe was making noises about getting into legalizing cannabis. But timing is incredibly important and I think they were too early.” – CuraLeaf founder Boris Jordan

Curaleaf is already America’s largest cannabis company with an impressive footing in 23 US states where they have over 100 dispensaries and employ 3,800 individuals. EMMAC is an attractive buy for Curaleaf given that they were recently chosen along with five other companies to supply ‘medical cannabis’ to the French trial. 

EMMAC also has a strong position in several major European countries including Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the UK. As well as a growing presence in Israeli, where they intend to increase production capabilities significantly going forward. 

We said where’s the growth going to come from as the U.S. starts to get more penetrated?’ Growth rates will fall from triple-digits to double-digits which is still very good, but nonetheless, I wanted to see where the next frontier for growth is” – CuraLeaf founder Boris Jordan

Curaleaf has stated that they were monitoring EMMAC for about a year before negotiating a deal to buy the ‘medical cannabis’ company. They do not expect to see any ‘material revenue’ until 2023 and are happy to ‘wait five years until the European market is better established.’

The European cannabis market is predicted to skyrocket over the next few years according to research by Prohibition Partners. They estimate that the European market could be worth $2.5billion a year by 2024. A massive increase from the current one of $300million a year in 2020.

As Canopy Growth and others scale back their moves in EuropeCuraleaf will benefit from the premature entry into the market by its rivals and gain a strong footing as now most of the major European nations are now looking at finally ending cannabis prohibition. We can expect to see more companies conglomerating and consuming each other as the industry matures and new markets come on board.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 13

Last Week in Weed

(Issue 13)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this issue of Last Week in Weed, we look at Canadian funnyman Seth Rogan launching his cannabis brand ‘Houseplant’ in California, the US hitting record cannabis sales in 2020, and Thailand allowing families to grow 6 plants at home under new rules governing cannabis in the south-east Asian nation.

Seth Rogan’s Houseplant launches in the US

Image: Forbes – Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg
“Houseplant was born out of our love and passion for cannabis, design, and art” – Seth Rogan

The Canadian cannabis brand ‘Houseplant’ was created by the childhood friend duo behind the smash-hit comedies Pineapple Express, Super Bad, and This Is the End – Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. The brand was first launched in Canada in 2019 after the North American nation ‘legalised’ cannabis following a vote in 2018.

Evan and I also recognize that our lifelong dream of starting a cannabis lifestyle brand like Houseplant comes with a commitment to changing the unjust and racist cannabis laws that still exist in today’s society. We understand our responsibility to help right those wrongs and are dedicated to creating a more diverse, equitable cannabis industry.”  Seth Rogan

The flower that is used in their products is produced by Canadian powerhouse cultivator Canopy Growth, who retain a minority stake in the company. Canopy will continue to be Houseplant’s licensee in Canada, but they are not involved in the new U.S. launch of the brand next week.

Houseplant’s beautifully designed packaging.

You might remember us discussing Canopy in early issues of Last Week in Weed, where we looked at the launch of Martha Stewart’s new CBD products. The company also now produces Snoop Dogg’s CBD line called “Leafs by Snoop” which is marketed to reduce anxiety in dogs.

The brand will initially launch with three flower cultivars: two ‘Sativas’ and one ‘Indica’ to use the same rather antiquated terminology as the brand. They will also be releasing a Block Table Lighter, a Vinyl Box Set, and an Ashtray Set designed by Seth himself, which will be available to buy in all 50 states. With additional products being launched every few weeks according to the pair.

Introducing Houseplant in the U.S. has been a long time coming and we’ve taken a disciplined approach to set ourselves up for long-term success, We have spent years obsessing about the underserved cannabis consumer, researching and ideating what the holistic Houseplant experience should look like. We are proud to share this beautiful collection of Housegoods and cannabis strains with the public.” – Michael Mohr, Co-founder and CEO of Houseplant

Houseplant will be available for home delivery from their website in California from March 11. They intend to have their rather unique and boldly designed products available in selected dispensaries across the land of milk and honey by the spring and hope to expand to other states as soon.

US cannabis sales hit a record high in 2020

US ‘legal’ cannabis sales reach a record high in 2020

At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, several US states announced that their cannabis industries would be classified as ‘essential business’ and be allowed to stay open during the statewide shutdown orders. This designation allowed for record sales of cannabis last year, $17.5billion was spent across the 14 adult consumption and 36 states that allow for the use of ‘medicinal cannabis’ – greatly helping the struggling US economy avoid further damage.

So while most industries were seeing record losses and unprecedented levels of unemployment the cannabis industry saw record growth and sales. Demonstrating, to me at least that the future is really is green, if you know what I mean.

The majority of the sales came from adult consumption in well-established markets like Colorado and Oregon – which saw their sales rise 26% to $2.2billion and 29% to $1.1billion respectively according to a report by the cannabis sales data platform, BDSA.

‘The land of Lincoln’ Illinois, which expanded its ‘medical cannabis’ market to include adult consumption saw the largest market gain of 2020 with sales growing by $784million. The countries largest market at $3.5billion in California, also saw its sales rise by an additional $586million.

Cannabis delivery companies saw a massive uptake in service as million of Americans stayed home to avoid violating Covid rules and regulations. The same BDSA report found that the number of Americans using cannabis delivery services had increased by 25% in 2020.

The majority of the US cannabis market is still unregulated and estimated to be a more than $100 billion a year criminalised industry. The ‘legal’ or regulated market is slowly catching up but is still only expected to be worth a mere $41billion by 2026.

Ultimately, with more American’s than ever before now having access to ‘legal’ cannabis it is inevitable that the US market will continue to grow year on year for many more to come. So expect this record to be beaten again this year as things hopefully start to get back to some sense of normality soon.

Families allowed to home grow in Thailand

Thailand will allow families to cultivate upto six plants to boost income.

Households in Thailand will now be allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants to help them supplement their income announced the countries Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul last week. Under the new rules, families will be able to form grow communities and trade their crops to public hospitals, state facilities, or produce food and cosmetic products to sell from the legal parts of the plants.

Marijuana and hemp are both economic crops and it provides a new option for locals to generate revenue, We are trying to ease restrictions to allow the public easier access to the plant, but please cooperate and use it correctly.” – Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul

Thailand became the first country in the region to ‘legalise’ ‘medical cannabis’ back in 2018 but adult consumption remains illegal in the south-east Asian nation. This is similar to Sri Lanka which allows limited growth of the plant by state-licensed growers, but only for medical purposes.

Any flowers and seeds that are produced by the cultivation of these ‘not hemp’ cannabis plant community grows must be sent to registered state medical facilities as they remain illegal under the countries drug legislation due to ‘the high levels of psychoactive compounds found in the plants.

The leaves, branches, and fibre of the ‘not hemp’ plants and all parts of ‘hemp’ cannabis are decriminalised and allowed to be produced into cosmetics and food since Anutin became Health Minister in 2019 following his party’s victory in the country’s election.

‘Hemp’ is classified in Thailand as cannabis cultivars that contain less than 1% of THC. This rather generously high limit should allow for a robust domestic cannabis industry to flourish within Thailand. Let us hope that this new approach will be adopted by other countries in the region where trafficking cannabis can still get you the death penalty.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 12

Last Week in Weed

(Issue 12)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

Last week in Weed Issue 12, we look at a US company that is effectively trying to patent the ‘auto-flowering’ traits in cannabis genes, New Jersey beginning its adult consumption market, and Morocco announcing that they intend to ‘legalise’ ‘industrial’ and ‘medical’ cannabis in the African coast nation.

Is genetic engineering the future of cannabis cultivar creation?

Has the Autoflower trait in cannabis just been patented?

The first story we’ll look at this week is that of a new deal between NRGene and Kayagene to grant the pair a world-wide exclusive license to commercialise the auto-flower trait and DNA markers of Cannabis.

By editing the genes of existing cultivars the team hopes to be able to create auto-flowering versions of any cultivar of cannabis. Currently, the cultivation of cannabis requires that the environment be manipulated or simulated to ensure that the light cycle triggers the right stage of development and growth at the right time.

Cannabis cultivars that possess day-neutral genes or Auto-flowering traits will go through a growth cycle and then begin to automatically flower after 3-4 weeks of growth. This would increase the number of crop cycles per year. As well as reduce the energy requirements needed during cultivation.

Day-length insensitivity, like the ‘auto-flower’ trait, was an important milestone in the domestication and cultivation of many crop plants, and its identification in Cannabis is a significant step towards creating commercially viable varieties of hemp and marijuana” – Dr. Christopher Hohn Kayagene director of R&D

NRGene, the AI gene specialist will be responsible for the development of DNA markers for the day-neutral traits for breeders and growers. Whereas Kayagene, the Californian-based ‘hemp’ cannabis specialist will deal with the delivery and distribution of the modified seeds and pollen containing the desired traits.

The team at NRGene believes that they can use their technology and techniques to integrate the auto-flowering trait into any cannabis cultivar within 12 – 18 months. From cannabinoid dense cultivars to industrial ‘hemp’ cannabis. This could revolutionise the cultivation and production of industrial cannabis greatly increasing R&D around new technologies and applications.

So what does this mean for other Auto-flower breeders? It seems the deal isn’t the same as a patent, neither company will actually ‘own’ the rights to the auto-flowering genes. They have the right via the deal to ‘commercialise’ the traits but as far as I can tell they do not have proprietary ownership of the genes.

This should prevent a range of lawsuits against breeders and cultivators that have been breeding auto-flowering cultivars for many years now. There is still a worry that if the company was to modify enough of the everyday cultivars we regularly consume that they could end up with an unfair advantage and monopoly.

Although I applaud the development of this technology, I still lament the fact that it is for private corporate gain rather than for that of all communities. To me, this is just another example of the gentrifying and whitewashing establishment seeking to control, privatise, and profit from cannabis while millions of our kin around the world still face daily persecution, stigma, and incarceration for their consumption of cannabis.

New Jersey finally starts its ‘legal’ cannabis market

New Jersey finally ‘legalises’ adult cannabis market

Three months after overwhelmingly voting in favour of ‘legalising’ cannabis, New Jersey’s new rules come into effect last week. The original date for decriminalisation to commence was January 1st, 2021 but disagreements between state governor Phil Murphy over criminal penalties for minors caught with cannabis meant it was delayed several weeks.

“Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model” – Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy

During this period the state police continued to arrest people for cannabis offenses. Which kind of doesn’t make sense when you consider New Jersey signed a Bill in December 2019 allowing for the expungement of criminal records obtained through low-level cannabis offenses. So whether those charges will stick or not remains to be seen.

The new legislation aims to provide a ‘legal’ adult consumption market, decriminalise cannabis, and provide much looser penalties for underage consumption. The Jersey model removes penalties for low-level cannabis offenses from being used in pretrial release, probation, and parole decisions.

It also provides ‘critical employment protections’ for those individuals that choose to engage with cannabis lawfully in the state. The ‘possession limit’ in Jersey is a generous six ounces, compared to the usual two. This makes Jersey one of the most attractive models for US federal ‘legalisation’ to be trialed so far.

New Jersey has created the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) which will oversee the licensing of cannabis businesses and commercial ventures. The garden-states legislature will seek to use cannabis tax revenues to reinvest in ‘impact zones’ areas that were disproportionately detrimentally affected by decades of cannabis prohibition. The CRC is to promote diversity and inclusion through licensing and regulation.

It is expected to take another six months before physical brick-and-mortar shops are open in New Jersey. One of those shops will belong to Jersey legends, Jay and Silent Bob!

Cannabis plants soaking up the sunshine in the Rif mountains of Morocco

Morocco announces plans to ‘legalise’ ‘medical’ and ‘industrial’ cannabis

Legislation expected to be passed next week by the Moroccan government would create a legal market for the cultivation, sale, and export of cannabis for ‘medical’ and ‘industrial’ use. The proposed legislation would still keep so-called ‘recreational’ cannabis illegal.

Although still illegal to grow cannabis in Morocco they are one of the main exporters of unregulated cannabis according to UN statistics on the global drug trade. The majority of cannabis cultivated in Morocco comes from the Rif mountains in the north of the country.

The move comes off the back of last December’s UN vote to remove cannabis from schedule 4 of the UN single convention on narcotic drugs 1961. A move that was supported by Morocco when they voted to back the removal of the archaic designation.

Cannabis has been a contentious issue in Morocco for over a hundred years. In 1890, Sultan Hussan I, implemented strict limitations and regulations on the cultivation and trade of the plant. While at the same time still allowing several Rif mountains tribes the right to cultivate and trade cannabis.

When Morocco gained independence in the 1950s the new king Mohammed V prohibited cannabis across the country. The influx of westerners looking for hash and adventure saw the country become an illegal hub for the production and trade of hashish. This grew exponentially to such a degree that in the early 2000s 70% of hash consumed in Europe was from Morocco.

There have been several previous attempts to pass similar laws, but they have always been blocked by the countries conservative Justice and Development Party (PJD) party. However, it is believed that they stepped aside to allow the legislation to pass.

The bill that is expected to be voted in next week proposes that farmers be organised into cooperatives. They would then in turn sell their crop to local and international processing companies for preparation, extraction, and exportation.

Currently, Moroccan cannabis farmers only earn about half a billion dollars of the estimated $15billion that is made by criminal organisations annually through unregulated trade. This bill hopes to address that disparity, but I cannot help but wonder just how fair and accessible this new system will be to those farmers that desperately rely on cannabis to feed themselves and their families.

Morocco was not the only country announcing its intention to create a domestic cannabis market last week. The government of the small island nation of Bermuda has published a draft of the Cannabis Licensing Act 2020. A proposed legal framework to ‘legalising’ cannabis on the island for both medicinal purposes and adult consumption.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 11

Last Week in Weed

(Issue 11)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In issue 11 of Last Week in Weed, we look at cannabis IPO’s lighting up the LSE, Maltese Prime Minister announces his intentions to ‘regulate responsible cannabis use”, and finally former NBA All-Star Chris Webber launches private equity program to help reduce racial disparities within the US cannabis industry.

Cannabis IPO’s light up the London Stock Exchange

Cannabis IPO’s light up the London Stock Exchange

This week saw the float of MGC Pharmaceuticals and Kanabo on the London Stock Exchange. After last week’s pump and dump’ of cannabis stocks in Canada by Reddit and retail traders has left a bitter taste in the mouth of traditional investors. They are now looking to the emerging UK ‘medical cannabis’ industry as a safer bet to secure their fiscal returns.

The floodgates opened on February 9th with Australian ‘biopharma’ company MGC Pharma making its LSE debut. Its shares started trading at 02.83p – rising to a high of 07.43p – before ending its first week at 05.94p. No doubt making a lot of savvy investors and insiders a healthy return in the process. MGC will also retain its primary index on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). A move we are seeing more of these companies make as they hedge their bets on which market will be the most profitable for them in the long run.

Then it was Kanabo’s turn, the Israeli-based ‘medical cannabis’ company that was recently taken over by Spinnaker saw its share price skyrocket upon launch. The shares started trading on February 16th at 18.50p, jumping to a high of 47.80p before ending its first-week trading at 33.00p a share. 

Next up will be the David Beckham-backed venture Cellular Goods – a biosynthetic cannabinoid company that will produce fitness products from lab-engineered cannabinoids. They’re expecting to float in early March according to their investor information pack. 

We are also expecting several more companies to announce their intention to float on the LSE in the coming weeks. It is expected that Jersey-based ‘medical cannabis’ company Northern Leaf will be one of them. The newly formed channel island company made headlines recently when it announced that it was the first company in two decades to secure a cultivation license from the UK Home Office. 

As we discussed in issue 8 of Last Week in Weed, It was a decision made by The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) back in September 2020 that now allows “medical cannabis” companies to trade on the London stock exchange. However, so-called “recreational cannabis” companies remain banned from trading due to the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act.

It follows the FCA’s decision last year to allow medical marijuana companies to list in the U.K., which could create a major European trading hub for cannabis companies which is currently dominated by Toronto and New York” – Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for Markets.com

It looks like the analysts might be right, London could become a major hub for the ‘medical cannabis industrial complex’ to launder its ill-gotten gains as the ‘legal’ ‘medical cannabis’ global market is expected to reach £50 billion in the next five years. All while the rest of us remain criminalised and persecuted for our personal cultivation and consumption of ‘non-medical cannabis’.

Malta announces it is to regulate ‘responsible’ adult cannabis consumption

Image: CannabisNewsbox.com

The Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela announced this week that the country is to regulate responsible adult consumption of cannabis. Although, what that actually means is anyone’s guess at this point.

Mr. Albela’s government is hashing out the finer points of a white paper that would end the criminalisation of cannabis, possession, and cultivation in Malta. When complete it will face public scrutiny before later being voted on by the countries Parliament. 

The Prime Ministers announcement followed a public and political outcry last weekend after the arrest of a couple who were caught smoking a joint in a hotel room on Valentine’s day and other consumers being arrested.

It cannot be acceptable that a teenager who is caught with a joint is arrested, interrogated, and has to appear in court or before the drug tribunal… We need to be responsible too as I don’t believe in extremes” – Prime Minister Robert Albela

Similar comments were posted to Facebook by the countries Labour leader Daniel Micallef. The Maltese Labour party has previously pledged that they would seek to legalise cannabis in Malta, but a solid plan has yet to materialise. 

I never smoked a joint – and even if I did, I will not bother saying so, but I know that in reality, if all regular cannabis users were to congregate, the Floriana granaries will not be enough to hold them – I am speaking on their behalf because I know these people are not criminal, and I believe they should have a right to make their choices in a safe and legal way” – Labour leader Daniel Micallef

Cannabis isn’t that popular in Malta compared to other neighbouring nations. With just 1 in 5 supporting legalisation in 2019. That being said, they did change the law back in April 2015 when the Maltese government rolled out The Drug Dependence (Treatment Not Imprisonment) Act. 

This was an attempt to advance Malta’s cannabis policy to be more progressive – as many US states and other countries were looking to ‘legalise’ cannabis. The legislation decriminalised possession of up to an 8th (3.5 grams) of cannabis, however, there were many caveats empowering authorities to still find ways to criminalise personal consumers. 

By pushing up the limits of possession to reasonable levels, users will avoid police interrogation and legal proceedings. Government is also considering allowing the cultivation of a small number of plants strictly for personal use” – Prime Minister Robert Abela

It is interesting to watch the country debate between allowing a domestic marketplace ran by consumers through decriminalisation vs a corporate ‘legalisation’ model where international conglomerates are given free rein to monopolise and dominate the potential market. 

We will see with the publication of the countries cannabis white paper how progressive the Maltese government is prepared to be when it comes to ending the countries prohibition of cannabis. 

NBA All-star to launch $100 million equity fund

Image: Ganjapreneur
5 times NBA Allstar Chris Webber announces private equity fund

Our final story this week is the 5 times NBA all-star Chris Webber is partnering with JW asset management to launch a $100m private equity fund. The fund will invest in companies led by entrepreneurs of colour working in the US cannabis industry.

Currently, in the US 80% of cannabis businesses are owned by white individuals, while less than 10% are owned by Black and Hispanic individuals – according to a report from Marijuana Business Daily. This partnership seeks to provide financing and resources to help address the extreme racial disparities that have followed on from the racist origins of the war on drugs. 

It’s crucial that we diversify leadership within the cannabis industry and level the playing field for people from our communities,” said Webber – Chris Webber

The Webber/JW partnership aims to provide entrepreneurs of colour access to the US cannabis industry – which is expected to be worth a whopping $130bn by 2024. It is set to grow immensely faster still if the new Biden administration keeps its pledge to end federal cannabis prohibition. 

For far too long, minorities have been excessively punished and incarcerated for cannabis while others profited. Working with JW, we will equip under-represented entrepreneurs with the financial resources and industry knowledge to build businesses and thrive.” – Chris Webber

Since the first US states began to allow ‘recreational’ cannabis to proliferate we have since an increasing gentrifying and whitewashing of the cannabis industry, community, and culture. The boardrooms of the biggest cannabis companies are now packed with non-consumers and individuals that if it was still illegal would have nothing to do with cannabis. 

The legal cannabis industry can only grow to its full potential when all stakeholders have a seat at the table, and I feel that it is my responsibility to play an active role in eliminating barriers to entry for individuals that have been disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs.” – JW Asset Management founder Jason Wild

Attempts like this to level the playing field and give all stakeholders a voice are vital to the development of an equitable and robust global cannabis industry. One that first and foremost benefits the people and communities that were so harmed by its criminalisation, not just one that makes investors richer and consuming communities and cultures poorer.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

CBD in the UK – The sad saga continues

CBD in the UK

The sad saga continues

I recently released, what turned out to be a rather popular blog titled ‘What is happening with CBD in the UK’ Since publishing several CBD companies, trade association personnel, and influential individuals have reached out to me. The information they have provided has revealed that all is not what it seems.

In the previous blog, I spoke about the FSA only accepting isolate or distillate product applications for novel foods. However, sources close to The Simpa Life have revealed that there are several major companies that have submitted novel food CBD applications for broad and full-spectrum whole plant products to the FSA. 

These companies have submitted their application along with documents that show the efficacy and safety of their products. I have been told that if a company can provide evidence of sales, safety certificates, and lab test results that they will still be considered regardless of whether the product is isolate or whole-plant. 

Several sources have also confirmed that the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) has submitted on behalf of a large consortium of UK brands with diverse products including whole-plant products that are both broad and full-spectrum.

I have also been contacted by the owner of a large CBD company in the UK who has spoken directly with the FSA. In their conversations, they discovered that the ACI is overstating their relationship with the FSA. There is no official partnership, but there are individuals within the organisation that are working with them to ensure that regulation changes benefit their member’s ideal restrictive access model.

We have discussed CBD with various trade bodies and many other organisations involved in the novel food and CBD industry. We will continue to do so. While it is important that we understand their views, we have not in any way endorsed any specific trade body’s approach to the route to compliance for CBD extract products” – FSA guide to CBD

The statement announcing the partnership on the ACI’s website is misleading and in my opinion designed to dissuade the average company from applying on their own without paying the association to submit on their behalf.

ACI has an excellent relationship with the Food Standards Agency, Food Safety Scotland, and the Home Office. We work closely with all relevant regulatory bodies to ensure the best outcomes for the industry” – ACI prospectus Feb 21

There are 116 individual Trading Standards agencies in the UK according to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. The ACI has secured a deal with just ONE of them. The deal they have agreed is a PAP or a Primary Authority Partnership with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards.

A PAP agreement is when a business partner with a local authority for advice on how to comply with trading standards. Usually, in these situations, the local authority is the one calling the shots, but with this one, it appears to be the other way round.

The remaining 115 other institutions have not yet partnered with any organisation to produce regulatory frameworks in their local authorities. This is a golden opportunity for some of the other cannabis associations to step-up and provide unbiased data and information to these authorities to help prove the case for whole-plant products.

This would finally give those that understand that the benefits of whole plant full-spectrum cannabis products far out-weigh those of isolate and synthetic cannabinoids – a voice within the wider industry.

ACI has an excellent relationship with the Food Standards Agency, Food Safety Scotland, and the Home Office. We work closely with all relevant regulatory bodies to ensure the best outcomes for the industry” 

The above statement is taken from the updated ACI prospectus released a few weeks ago. It is emblematic of the threat this association poses to whole plant companies and defenders of cannabis-derived cannabinoids.

The above statement is also contradictory to the information provided on the FSA website.  

Food businesses should apply for authorisation of their CBD extracts and isolates to be placed on the GB market using our regulated products application service. This is the only route to compliance for these CBD products, and no separate arrangement has been made with any specific business or industry sector’ – FSA novel food guidelines

The very name tells you all you need to know about this organisation. The Association of the Cannabinoid Industry. The keyword there being CANNABINOID not cannabis. They deliberately choose to avoid using the word cannabis. Instead of choosing the name of the compounds found in cannabis that their members are working hard to produce chemical analogs and synthetic processes to remove cannabis from the equation altogether.

This allows for a small cabal of wealthy investors, corrupt politicians, as well as pharmaceutical and ‘medical cannabis’ companies the opportunity to restrict and monopolise the industry. Harvesting the therapeutic benefits and properties of cannabis – while still being able to persecute and criminalise those that cultivate and consume it.

ACI exists as both a guardian for industry standards and to provide expert stewardship for businesses in the regulatory sphere” – ACI prospectus

These classist gentrifying agents of agony are not interested in freeing the cannabis plant from unevidenced and ideological legal restrictions. Far from it, they only seek to profiteer from the creation of an industry that has been built on the perpetuation of prohibition and the suffering of millions of everyday cannabis consumers.

The main thing that the FSA is looking for is data, proof of safety, and non-toxicity. These have become important topics over the last few years after the CMC released a report that ‘randomly’ tested 29 CBD products on UK shelves.

This report found that pretty much all but the then three CMC member companies were outside of the 10% margin used to define if a product was correctly labeled. That’s just a coincidence though, I’m sure.

The same report found that seven of the products tested contained residual solvent from the extraction process and one contained detectable levels of heavy metals. This report was then leaked to the mainstream press in the UK sparking calls for stricter regulations. Again, just another coincidence, I’m sure.

The release of this report greatly harmed the standing of fellow wannabe regulators who saw an exodus of companies following its publication. This was allegedly accelerated by certain individuals within organisations ‘jumping ship’ with access to membership lists and other sensitive data.

So with the FSA Novel Food application window fast closing what can companies do to ensure compliance after the March 31st deadline? The ACI and CMC would have them believe that the only route to access the FSA and gain a validated application is to pay them for the privilege.

Membership fees at the ACI and CMC have now been standardised to one flat rate of just £25,000 per-year. A bargain for all those budding ‘mom and pop’ CBD businesses. This exceedingly high membership price ensures that they only help those that will ultimately help them financially in the long run.

You can file out your application for free online now. However, to of gained a validated application by March 31st you would have realistically needed to of submitted it by now. This is due to the expected processing time and a large backlog of applications.

After the deadline has passed, only products that were already on the market before the decision made on 13th February 2020 and for which the FSA has a validated application will be legally available.

The FSA has advised local authorities that businesses should be allowed to continue to sell if their existing CBD products are correctly labeled, safe, and do not contain substances that fall under current interpretations of UK drugs legislation. No new brands will be sold until they have the necessary authorisation. Currently, a validated application is not sufficient to legally put new CBD products on the market.

This seems to suggest that white labeling companies could get approval for a product and supply it to individual companies under different brand names. There is also a clause that states that ‘if the applicant requests and is granted confidentiality, then key aspects of production and the research evidence base may not be available to others for five years.’ The perfect way to create a monopoly from day one. 

As with the PAP agreements discussed above any trade body can submit applications on behalf of client companies. So group submissions for standard products that are sold under different brands seemingly can apply together as well.

Don’t forget that the FSA has set a deadline of 31 March 2021 for all CBD companies to have a validated novel foods application for each of their products. Those non-compliant companies will face the potential that their products will be removed from UK shelves and they may risk criminal prosecution.

That being said, several sources I have spoken with assure me that there will not be an apocalyptic event on April 1st with hundreds of brands becoming targeted for now being illegal overnight. In reality, it will take the relevant authorities quite some time to catch up and understand how to enforce the regulations.

I now believe that there will be a discretionary phase where businesses are allowed to sell off their non-compliant products and avoid prosecution. If the rumors are to be believed then there will be a good number of broad and full-spectrum products available on the market from April anyway making enforcement that much harder.

Broad and full-spectrum products that have a validated FSA application will temporarily remain legal until the government clarifies its definition of ‘acceptable’ trace levels of THC in CBD and hemp-cannabis products. If Kit Malthouse gets his way it will be defined between 0.01% and 0.0001% by weight per controlled cannabinoid.

The recommendation was made in a letter written by Kit Malthouse, the Police and Justice Minister to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) In this correspondence he asked for clarification of what percentage THC can be defined as an acceptable ‘trace’ amount. Under current rules, the Home Offices allows up to 1mg of THC per product.

The ACI wrote a letter in response to MP Malthouse where they claim “our report has independently considered all the available data and recommends a THC safety limit of 0.03%” a reduction that would make it incredibly difficult for whole-plant phytocannabinoid product producers to compete with cheap isolate and synthetic producers and suppliers. 

There is a potential silver lining to all of this. The more powerful and greedy the ‘Medical cannabis industrial complex’ becomes the easier it is to demonstrate to the rest of the world that their ‘prohibition 2.0’ is not the only path.

In much the same way that individuals and nations with vested financial interests in resources such as timber, petroleum, cotton, and pharmaceuticals framed the debate around the 1961 and 1971 UN convention. So too are the vested interests of today seeking to ensure that any legislation changes directly benefits only them.

The shadowy figures that have for too long haunted the chambers of power and forced the unseen hand of the market to bend to their whim are now beginning to be revealed. Let us hope the true scale of their corruption, cronyism, and criminality will be brought to light and their masochistic machinations prevented from creating further destruction and division within the UK cannabis movement.

Regardless of what happens with the CBD situation, it should be enough to prove to the plethora of CBD and hemp-cannabis companies out there that this cartel is not the only way to a legal market.

The alternative that I am proposing to the ‘Medical cannabis industrial complex’ is a truly unified push to once and for all end ALL cannabis prohibition. Creating a broad-spectrum coalition of cannabis consumers, companies, academics, campaigners, scientists, and industry specialists -we could be united with one mission. 

The ubiquitous removal of Cannabis Sativa L and all its derivatives from the antiquated, classist, and draconian Misuse of Drugs Act and subsequent failed legislation. Seeking to replace it with a new regulatory framework democratically designed by the above collective through reasonable debate, civil discussion, and respectful discourse. 

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 10

Last Week in Weed (Issue 10)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this weeks issue of Last Week in Weed, we look at what turned out to be a crazy week for cannabis stocks, ‘Medical cannabis’ companies on the London Stock Exchange, and finally Guardi raid on a CBD shop sparks outrage and calls for clarification on CBD and cannabis laws in Ireland.

Reddit traders smoke up cannabis stocks gains

A few weeks ago a subreddit group called r/WallStreetBets began a coordinated assault on the traditional investment model of Wall Street. A large group of amateur traders discovered that several major hedge-funds had taken a ‘short position’ on GameStop, a US bricks and mortar games retailer that has been in decline for a few years.

Buying up GameStop stock at a phenomenal rate these novice traders forced the hedge-funds into a ‘short squeeze’ forcing them to buy the stock that they bet would decrease to lessen their differential loss. This in turn caused the share value to increase and more amateur traders to buy more stock further worsening their position and increasing the value of the stock.

This caused the value of GameStop to rise to a dizzying value of $347.51 a share at its peak on January 27th before plummeting down to $52 (as of the writing of this blog) Still more than twice the value it was trading before the explosion of interest from independent retail investors.

As we mentioned in Last Week in Weed issue 9, the sale of GW Pharma to Jazz Pharma caused GW stock to skyrocket to over $200 a share. This meteoric rise caught the attention of the Wallstreetbets crowd – who began posting about their intentions to make “weed the new GameStop

They sought to capitalise, not only on the GW/Jazz deal but also on the growing speculation that the new Biden administration intends to announce plans to federally legalise cannabis in the US. Most stocks have seen a steady increase in value since the winner of the presidential election was confirmed to be democratic.

What really set things off was Tilray announcing that it has secured a deal with Grow Pharma to import ‘medical cannabis’ into the UK – with importations expected as early as March. This saw an exodus from GameStop and AMC as Reddit traders made their way over to cannabis stocks.

This saw Tilray’s stock value start the week trading at $25 a share before rising to a midweek high of $67 before eventually crashing back to $29 a share by end of trading Friday. Many other cannabis stocks got caught up in this hype and were taken for a ride including Aurora, Canopy Growth, Aphria, and Sundial Growers. Sundial began the week trading at around $1 a share before rising to within touching distance of $4 before closing the week at just under $2.

This isn’t the first time Tilray has experienced this kind of extreme price rise. Back in 2018, the start of Canadian legalisation triggered a ‘short squeeze’ that saw their value briefly touching $300 a share before plummeting again.

Tilray will announce their latest full fiscal year and fourth-quarter financial results on the 17th February after trading – which will likely trigger another round of volatile after-hours trading from the new retail traders and the WallstreetBets community – if the numbers are good.

Since the start of 2020, the number of ‘retail investors’ has doubled. Apps like RobinHood and Etrade allow anyone to invest in the stock market and this trend looks set to continue. Well, until we hear the results of the impending US Congressional hearing due to take place next week. The chief executives of Reddit, Robinhood, and two major hedge fund managers are to be questioned about the ‘chaos’ in the markets surrounding trading in GameStop.

Stimulus checks will soon be on their way to millions of American’s that are now using social media, financial forums, and retail trading apps to empower them to take on the monolith of traditional investment. Will the stock market ever be the same again?

‘Medical Cannabis’ companies begin to populate the LSE.

London Stock Exchange welcomes first ‘medical cannabis’ company

As US and Canadian cannabis stocks became the latest battleground in the war between r/WallStreetBets and traditional investors. The London Stock Exchange quietly saw the first ‘medical cannabis’ company offer its first initial float on the exchange.

Israeli pharmaceutical company MGC Pharma beat out several close contenders to become the first such company to list on the LSE. The company is dual-listed on both the LSE and ASX (Australian Securities Exchange) but will keep its primary listing on the ASX.

The company was able to secure the right to trade on the LSE after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) changed the rules to allow ‘medical cannabis’ companies to trade on the LSE back in September 2020. So-called ‘recreational’ cannabis companies remain prohibited due to the Proceeds of Crime Act.

MGC Pharma’s legal partner Memery Crystal was instrumental in lobbying the FCA to change the rules to allow ‘medical cannabis’ companies to trade on the exchange. After launching its IPO MGC Pharma tripled its initial float on the London Stock Exchange.

There are currently several other companies including Kanabo (which we discussed in Last Week in Weed issue 8) and Cellular Goods, the David Beckham backed biosynthetic CBD wellness brand are looking to soon join MGC in trading on the LSE.

There is enormous potential for growth in this sector as we see the public embracing the importance of wellness and self-care, and every day more scientific studies are published validating the potential of cannabinoids. ‘The planned listing will provide us with the capital and credibility to serve a market where there is a clear unmet need for a go-to brand.” – Alexis Abraham Cellular Goods

Cellular goods have this morning started offering investors their IPO on LSE. They expect the market value to be around £20 million, however, given how well MGC Pharma’s initial float performed and the brand name-ability of David Beckham, it wouldn’t be a stretch to predict that it will be valued at a much higher price after closing.

The London Stock Exchange has great potential to become a global hub for the ‘medical cannabis’ industry. A great deal of the companies set to float has directly benefited from the rampant cronyism, corruption, and criminality that make up the highest echelons of the UK cannabis industry, policy reform groups, and our government.

Image: Little Collins CBD Dispensary Facebook page

Guardi raid on CBD shop sparks outrage in Ireland

The final story that we’ll cover this week comes from Ireland. Guardi (Irish police) have recently targeted the ‘Little Collins’ CBD shops. The business ran by husband and wife team James (JP) O’Brien and Ide Clancy have two shops in Galway and Kilkenny.

When Mr. O’Brien first opened his business, he wrote to the Superintendent in Galway city about his intentions to sell CBD. A Gardai Sergeant later visited the premises where Mr. O’Brien claims that he didn’t express any concerns about his products. Stating that the Sargent specifically told him that as long as the THC content was below 0.2% “all would be fine.”

The trouble started back in early 2019 when two members of the drug squad took samples away to be tested. A few months later in May 2019 one of the shops and the owner’s home was searched by Guardi, where they seized two litres of full-spectrum CBD oil and 10kg of CBD-rich cannabis flowers.

In August 2020, Mr. O’Brien was contacted by the guardi and told that they have been instructed to charge him with four offences under the Irish Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. The charges are for possession of “hemp trim” and products containing Cannabidiol (CBD)

Under current EU regulations, Cannabis Sativa L plants containing CBD and CBG may be grown as long as their THC content is less than 0.2 percent. Little Collins CBD dispensary has stated in an interview with local media that “We guarantee you it’s all perfectly safe and legal.” So why are they being disproportionately targeted? Well, it could have something to do with what happened next.

In December 2020, Mr. O’Brien filed a case in Ireland’s high court against the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Minister for Health, and the government. In the case, Mr. O’Brien claims that he has not contravened the 1977 Act and argues that the DPP’s decision to prosecute him over ‘legal’ CBD and hemp-cannabis products is invalid under Irish Constitutional and EU law.

Mr. O’Brien claims that “the farming or production and by logical extension, the possession of hemp {cannabis} with a THC content of less than 0.2 percent is not illegal or impermissible under EU law and that Irish law is incompatible and contrary to the relevant regulations”

He also goes on to state that the regulations are unconstitutional as they fail to respect his rights to liberty, property, privacy, good name, and to earn a livelihood. On the 4th of February, the Kilkenny shop was raided again by Guardi.

This has now left the couple at breaking point. Mr. O’Brien announced on social media recently that the stress of this situation has tragically claimed a life. Posting that his wife Ide Clancy had suffered a miscarriage “My wife was healthy and happily 12-weeks pregnant before they raided us” Mr. O’Brien wrote online.

The shop owners have now asked the public for help and support in their case and to demand the Minister of Justice address this issue immediately. After receiving further threats from Guardi Mr. O’Brien has said that “I closed the store yesterday and today, at least. I’m obviously not putting my staff in front of this any longer” and “As soon as Ide is well enough, I’ll be going down to reopen myself.”

The regulations in Ireland are highly contradictory and confusing to say it mildly. Currently, the country’s Revenue Commissioners and the Food Safety Authority have issued regulations incompatible with one and other and EU law. Ultimately, this case is another tragic reminder of why the ubiquitous relegalising of every part of the wondrous plant Cannabis Sativa L cannot come fast enough!

You can sign a petition supporting the Little Collins CBD Dispensary,  here.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 9

Last Week in Weed (Issue 9)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

In this issue of Last week in Weed, we look at Jazz Pharmaceuticals buying GW Pharmaceuticals, one of the worst years for cannabis cultivation in Jamaica, and the potential federal legalisation of cannabis in the United States of America.

Irish drug-maker Jazz Pharma buys GW Pharma

Jazz Pharmaceuticals to acquire GW Pharmaceuticals

This week saw the surprise announcement that Irish-based pharmaceutical company Jazz Pharma is to acquire the British OG ‘medical cannabis’ company GW Pharma. The deal is set to be the largest so far in the global industry – nearly doubling the merger of Aphria and Tilray that we discussed in issue 2 of Last Week in Weed.

The merger will cost Jazz an eye-watering £5.2 billion. The premium price tag is an indicator of the changing tides in the medical world. The pharmaceutical industry has been quietly trying to move away from ‘traditional’ medicines and treatment models for some time now. This merger is perhaps a signifier that the industry is finally ready to move on from its legal opioid cartel and on to the creation of a cannabinoid one.

It’s an acquisition that will surely play a role in how international cannabinoid markets develop over the next year” – Kyle Detwiler, CEO Clever Leaves

It is an interesting time for the sale given the lawsuit that GW are currently tied up in with Canopy Growth over alleged patent violations with regard to C02 extraction of cannabinoids. Although, we did learn recently that the British CBD industry is to be effectively regulated by The ACI – potentially signaling the end of GW’s monopoly in the UK’s ‘medical cannabis’ industry.

Regardless, it is still a smart play by Jazz, who now gain proprietary control of all of GW’s products, patents, research, and their political connections. This means that the Irish drug-maker will now own Epidiolex and Sativex – GW’s extortionately priced CBMP’s.

“We are joining two teams that share a passion for, and track record of, developing differentiated therapies that advance science and transform the lives of patients. This will help facilitate a successful integration and bring added capabilities to Jazz. Given the strength of our balance sheet and the meaningful financial drivers of the transaction, we are confident in the value we can deliver to both companies’ shareholders and patients. We look forward to welcoming the GW team to Jazz to build an even stronger company.” – Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd

One such patent that will be invaluable to Jazz Pharma is the 2010 GW patent for using phytocannabinoids as a treatment for cancer. That’s right, a decades old patent for using cannabis to treat various forms of cancer. Jazz Pharma are specialists in oncology (the treatment of cancer) so this patent will help them corner the market of CBMP’s to treat various types of cancer.

This invention relates to the use of phytocannabinoids, either in an isolated form or in the form of a botanical drug substance (BDS) in the treatment of cancer. Preferably the cancer to be treated is cancer of the prostate, cancer of the breast or cancer of the colon”- GW patent for treating cancer with cannabis.

The development of CBMP’s or BDS’s for the treatment of cancer will net them a tidy profit through exclusive distribution rights and a seemingly never ending supply of cancer patients seeking legal life-saving treatments.

Epidiolex – $32,500 a year CBMP by GW Pharma

They’ll also profit massively form Epidiolex as more and more of the global Epilepsy community see the benefits of cannabis to help treat their condition. Epidiolex is currently the only FDA (Food and Drug administration) and EMA (European Medicines Agency) approved CBMP.

This has allowed the $32,500 a year product to rack up profits of $296 million in 2019 and $526 million in 2020. With sales forecast to nearly double this year to $940 million according to the pay to play document ‘The Pharmaceutical Cannabis Report’ published by Prohibition Partners. If this trajectory was to continue the deal would pay for itself with in a few short years off the back of sales of Epidiolex alone.

We are excited to add GW’s industry-leading cannabinoid platform, innovative pipeline and products, which will strengthen and broaden our neuroscience portfolio, further diversify our revenue and drive sustainable, long-term value creation opportunities.”Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd

This acquisition marks the beginning of the buy out of the ‘medical cannabis’ industry by ‘big pharma’ and the start of the end to cultivated cannabinoid based CBMP’s. The co-opting of the cannabis industry by the ‘medical industrial complex’ is inevitable, but what isn’t is our compliance in their cannibalistic capitalism, cronyism, and corruption.

The entire medical industry is reworking their entire medical model to include the endocannabinoid system and CBMP’s – but the development of phytocannabinoid-based CBMP’s will only last so long. After all you cannot patent nature – but you sure can patent synthetic CBMPs.

Many pharmaceutical companies are now desperately scrambling to secure patents, proprietary technology, and research to future-proof their businesses against the changing industrial, cultural and political attitudes towards cannabis.

GW’s founder and chairman Geoffrey Guy – who pocketed £5.8 million as a salary in 2019 alone – launched the company back in 1998 following a royal commission in to the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis and a £10 million start-up donation from the British government. Two decades later and he gets to pocket another £65.9 million from the sale of GW while millions of British consumers still face a criminal record for cultivating, possessing, and trading cannabis.

The announcement saw GW’s stock price rise 46% on Feb 3rd when the news broke. Jazz Pharma have also announced that the deal will deliver $200 in cash plus $20 in Jazz stock per share for GW Pharma shareholders. A nice little profit if you were in the right place at the right time – but for the rest of us its just another fuck you from the establishment.

Jamaica suffering Cannabis drought

When most people think of Jamaica, they think of reggae and dance hall music, beautiful landscapes, Bob Marley, and of course cannabis. This week, however it was revealed that a combination of severe weather, increased consumption, and corporate opportunism has seen the Caribbean nation’s cannabis supply dwindle to its lowest levels in many years.

In what locals are describing as a ‘cultural embarrassment’ last years terrible hurricane season and drought along with tight Covid-19 restrictions has contributed to the Atlantic island running extremely low on ganja.

“It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica. It’s a cultural embarrassment.” – Triston Thomson, Tacaya

Recent changes to Jamaican law and the on-going global pandemic have increased public consumption greatly in the last 12 months. In 2015 Jamaica decriminalised possession of up to two ounces of cannabis – making it a ticketable offense with fines averaging about US$3.

‘Medical cannabis’ is legal in Jamaica with a doctors note or a valid ‘medical cannabis” prescription/card from your home country. They allow its citizens to cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke marijuana for sacramental purposes.

Jamaica has decided against a corporate take over of the adult consumption market by decriminalising low level possession and allowing social, cultural, and religious consumption of cannabis. However, with the majority of the islands supply still coming form illegal grow operations and those growers being subject to movement restrictions during the countries lockdown has meant that they simply couldn’t tend to their crops during the unusually chaotic weather last year.

The Jamaican governments Cannabis Licensing Authority – which has already authorised 29 ‘medical cannabis’ cultivators and issued 73 licenses – has stated that there ‘is no shortage of cannabis’ in the countries ‘regulated industry’.

Activists and consumers have said that the legal “herb houses” that have been established on the island sell cannabis at 10 times that of street vendors. Pricing out the average Jamaican from the market and squeezing out poorer farmers that cannot meet the entry requirements to produce legally on the island.

Although, the country choose decriminalisation over legalisation to prevent against the gentrifying and white-washing of their cannabis industry – they still might find themselves a victim to the vultures of the corporate cannabis industry.

Unfortunately, I doubt that the government will be stepping into help the thousands of farmers that are now likely to never recover from this devastation. Only time will tell in what direction the Jamaican industry will go and if it will actually benefit the countries population.

US hints at federal Legalisation of cannabis under President Biden

US hints at implementing federal legalisation of cannabis

In our final story this week, we’ll take a look over the pond to our American cousins and check in with their efforts to push the new administration into backing federal legalisation. Since the swearing in of Joe Biden into office on Jan 20th there has been a stream of news coming out about a possible move to relegalising cannabis in the United States.

It was announced at the start of the month that three democratic Senators, Cory Booker (NJ), Ron Wyden (OR) and Chuck Schumer (NY) would be working together to release ‘a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations’.

The War on Drugs has been a war on people—particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs”

We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies” – Joint statement by Booker, Wyden, and Schumer

This powerful statement blustered by the fact that the US House and Senate are now democratic is a good omen for those hoping to see the federal legalisation of cannabis in America. A recent Gallup poll from last November also showed that a record high 68% of Americans are now in favour of federal legalisation.

Out of the 50 US states, 15 and the District of Columbia have legalised adult consumption and 36 states allow ‘medical cannabis’ to be prescribed and consumed. Leaving only a handful of hardliners states to attempt to sabotage efforts at federal reform.

The main opposition to federal legalisation was former majority senate leader and now minority Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – who blocked attempts at previous reform according to Oregon’s Democratic representative Earl Blumenauer. So with Mitch being ditched it looks likely that any new legislation seeking to end cannabis prohibition would ascend the House and Senate with little resistance.

To finally have the active leadership of the new Senate majority leader, rather than being stuck in Sen McConnell’s legislative graveyard, makes all the difference in the world.”- Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

There have been some other good signs recently that indicate that the US war on weed may finally be winding down. Looking at the stock market, we can see investor confidence is gaining as some of the big players are starting to make sizable investments in to the industry.

Newly elected Vice President Kamala Harris supported last year’s MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act), a bipartisan bill that was approved in the US House but killed of by Mitch McConnell in the US Senate.

Despite her shocking history on prison reform Kamala Harris’s support for the bill indicates that she will likely support future cannabis bills and hopefully even talk old Joe into backing federal legalisation of cannabis during their Presidential term.

The final omen I feel is worth mentioning is that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced in August 2020 that they would increase production of cannabis for research from 444kg to a whopping 1,700kg of flower and increasing their THC extracts from 385kg to 1,000 kg.

Evidence of wider changing attitudes within the US establishment and government or just an attempt to remain relevant in a post-prohibition world. Only time will tell if the US does federally legalise, but one thing is for sure a fully legal cannabis industry in the US would be obligated to use its influence to see that the fascistic 1961 Single convention on Narcotic Drugs was torn up.

Thanks for reading!

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

What is happening with CBD in the UK?

What is happening with CBD in the UK?

Image: Cannabis Culture
What is happening with CBD in the UK?

As if last year wasn’t bad enough. We are only five weeks into 2021 and already we have seen the cannabis industry take several massive blows. First, the havoc caused by Brexit on the importation of cannabis seeds, the impending rollout of FSA regulation, and now the UK Home Office effectively decapitating the CBD industry by banning bulk imports without a licence. 

It was announced by the Home Office this week that all companies that are importing bulk CBD isolates or distillates will now have to of secured a Schedule One Controlled-drug licence before importation. A class of licence typically given to pharmaceutical companies and academic researchers.

The move comes after the Police and Justice Minister, Kit Malthouse requested clarification from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) on accepted THC levels in CBD products. In the correspondence, the Minister suggested drafting new guidelines on permitted trace levels of THC. The proposals presented ranged from 0.01% to 0.0001% – which in reality is an unachievable low level.

The lack of clarity on the 1mg rule has been an issue for the CBD industry for a number of years. I would absolutely welcome Home Office clarity on minor THC components in CBD products, but it has to be done in a way that is supportive of the industry.” – Robert Jappie Partner at INCE

This is a huge blow to an industry that is already set to take another massive hit when it becomes “legitimised” on April 1st, 2021 – when the FSA becomes the regulator for the entire UK CBD industry. We have known for quite some time that eventually, a regulator would have to emerge to govern the industry and stamp out the plethora of CBD cowboy conmen out there. It was, however, hoped by most that it would be an impartial one populated by intelligent individuals with experience, expertise, and a passion for the plant – not just profit. 

So what does this mean for the industry? In truth, a lot is still unknown at this point. What we do know is that currently, the FSA are classifying CBD isolate and distillate for ingestion as a novel food. We also know they are concerned that other cannabinoids found in broad and full-spectrum products can interact with medications in the body. 

Accordingly, I believe that it is likely that they will only allow isolate or distillate products onto the market at first. Leaving the ‘medical cannabis’ industry to profit from the restrictions by creating broad and full-spectrum CBMPs.

It will take a long time for the FSA to approve all of the valid applications that it has collected. The agency themselves have suggested that it may take up to 17 months. In the meantime, Trading Standards have said that any company with a validated pending FSA application can continue to trade until the process is completed. 

Over the last few years, several organisations have sought to win over the individual companies and organisations that make up the industry by promising that they alone could provide a pathway to legality, longevity, and legitimacy in the British Cannabis industry.

Organisations like The CTAThe CMCThe ACI, and Hanway associates (to name but a few) have all in some way mislead British CBD and hemp companies into signing up and paying often eye-watering expensive fees. All on the notion that they would fight for legislation to protect their company’s interests within the emerging UK cannabis industry. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

These organisations had a rather public spat in the press in 2019. When The CMC hired Sativa Group PLC (now a member of The ACI) to perform a blind test on 30 major retail CBD brand oils. They then published a damning report that found that many were mislabeled and almost half of them were ‘technically illegal’. This caused a great deal of harm to consumer confidence and the movement to relegalise cannabis in the UK.

The individuals within these organisations have used the dues paid by these too often naive companies to sway various politicians toward their now shared financial interests. Just look at the GW – Tory fiasco to give you an idea of just how deep the corruption goes. 

They have used this money, power, and influence to ensure that when the legislation for ‘medical cannabis’ was drafted in 2018 that it directly benefited their corporate interests and the minority of companies that can afford to pay to play. The same is happening now with CBD and Hemp – Pleasant lands anyone?

It emerged recently that The ACI was not only not fighting against the clearly false designation of CBD as a novel food but that they are actually partnering with the FSA. In an update released on their website, they announced the partnership that includes an agreement for The ACI to ‘run educational webinars and develop literature to enable Trading Standards officers to recognise non-compliant CBD products.

This will enable us to ensure our members are getting the best available advice to help raise the standards of the industry and more easily share intelligence with the regulator about non-compliant products after the Novel Foods 31st March 2021 deadline” – Leila Simpson, ACI Innovation Director

Trading Standards will be responsible for monitoring CBD products on the market and ensuring their regulatory compliance after the deadline has passed. They will use the training provided by The ACI to create and maintain a national intelligence database. Just how much prosecuting power they will possess is unclear at this time.

Trading standards also announced that they will be reciprocating information as well as providing bespoke educational resources to The ACI and its members covering advertising claims, labeling, and food safety management. Clearly giving them and their members an unfair advantage and opportunity to monopolise the entire UK CBD industry right out of the gate. 

For the last few years, I have been trying to warn the industry that these self-appointed regulatory bodies didn’t have their best interests at heart. I have done countless live streams discussing this very subject, only to be left feeling like I am screaming into the abyss. 

I have written numerous articles and I have spoken on stages at various cannabis events and CBD expos imploring the industry to see what I see coming. In the hope of uniting the industry to fighting for ubiquitous legalisation and a level playing field for all.

Speaking at the Hemp and CBD Expo at the NEC 2019 with Phil Monk, Dan Herer, and Callie Blackwell.

Last summer, I wrote a Call to Arms letter hoping that others shared my concerns and fears but unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears. So it deeply saddens me to see so many of the things I feared to come to fruition. This isn’t quite the end of the story yet though. There is still a lot that we can do as believers in a world where cannabis is free.

There is an old Chinese proverb that says ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now’. My friends, it is time to finally cast off the arbitrary distinctions between our sectors and recognise that if we do not unite and fight there will be nothing left for any of us when the vultures of venture capitalism have finished with the corpse of cannabis.

I call on the Hydro industry, the industrial hemp industry, the ‘medical cannabis’ industry, the CBD industry, the cannabis lifestyle brands, the activists, advocates, the dealers, healers, and herbal leaders. I call on you in our hour of need to have the fortitude to stand up for what is right and not just take what crumbs you hope they may give you. 

There will never be a better time to come together to protect the plant, culture, and community we all love. We all just want to see the war over and all cannabis consumers to be free to cultivate whatever relationship they choose with this plant that has given us all so much. 

The pie they are cooking seems large and smells rather good, but do not fool yourself into thinking that they will ever give you a slice. The only way we get a piece of the pie is if we all roll up our sleeves and bake it. 

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Last Week in Weed Issue 8

Last Week in Weed (Issue 8)

Last Week in Weed: A weekly blog from The Simpa Life

Well, we’re officially a month into 2021 and things in the cannabis industry are continuing to grow and grow. There has been a lot of news this week in the US with discussions about possible federal legislation but there isn’t really enough to warrant me covering that just yet.

So this week we’ll be looking at Kanabo announcing that it is to be the first ‘medical cannabis’ company to float on the London stock exchange. The six companies that France has selected to supply its ‘medical cannabis’ pilot program due to start in a few months and finally the tragic suicide of a 23-year-old woman that her mother is blaming on cannabis.

Kanabo hopes to be the first ‘medical cannabis’ company to float on the London stock exchange

Israeli vaporiser company first to float on London stock exchange

An Israeli-founded vaporiser company called Kanabo recently announced that it is to be the first “medical cannabis” company to float on the London stock exchange ever. The originally Israeli-based company was bought in 2019 by a ‘cash shell company’ based in the UK called Spinnaker.

The VapePod vaporiser uses oil-filled CCell-powered carts that are ‘tamper-proof’ to prevent ‘misuse’. The company says that each inhalation gives the user a precise 1mg dose. Their website makes statements meant to downplay the efficacy of combusting cannabis over any other form of ingestion. This is just not clear given the limited data on the long-term effects of vaporising compared to combusting cannabis. (without tobacco)

This move was made possible by The Financial Conduct Authority who announced back in September 2020 that “medical cannabis” companies were allowed to trade on the London stock exchange. However, companies that sell “recreational cannabis” anywhere in the world – even if it’s legal in that region, would remain banned from trading due to the Proceeds of Crime Act.

For medicinal cannabis and cannabis oil companies with overseas activities, the company will need to satisfy us that their activities would be legal if carried out in the UK,” – The FCA 

Given that what we discussed in issue 4 of Last Week In Weed, It is interesting that the company is choosing to float on the London stock exchange rather than in Tel Aviv on the TASE. Regardless, the company has managed to leverage £6m from their investors and are valuing the company at £23.2m. Shares will become available at the start of trade on 16th February as Kanabo makes its stock market debut.

This is great and overdue news for the medicinal cannabis sector in the UK, both for medicinal cannabis companies themselves, but also for patients, who have yet to receive easy access to the products they need” – Nick Davis, chief executive of the law firm Memery Crystal

The VapePod seemed familiar to me when researching this blog. After some digging around in a box from my US road trip a few years ago. Sure enough, I found that I already own the exact same vaporiser only it is branded as Indigopro.

The Indigopro vape that I picked up in the US in 2019.

I actually rather rated this vape when I picked it up from a dispensary in either Colorado or Oregon. The only issue I had was nowhere else that I traveled stocked the carts. A somewhat reoccurring theme to my US road trip.

France picks companies to supply its ‘medical cannabis’ trail program

France selects companies to supply its ‘medical cannabis’ trail

Back in October 2020, the French Minister of Solidarity and Health signed a lengthy piece of legislation authorizing the creation of a small-scale two-year trial to supply ‘medical cannabis’ in the country. The trial will supply free cannabis and cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) to a small population of 3000 patients.

In order to achieve this, the French Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) announced that it would publish guidelines on how companies could apply to supply to the trial. Firstly, flower and CBMPs will have to meet pharmaceutical-quality standards guidelines and will only be used as a ‘last resort’ instead of a first step intervention.

The successful companies would be expected to foot the entire bill for the short-term experiment. From production costs to securing distribution networks, the companies are to ensure no additional cost is paid by either the French government or the end consumer. 

The winning companies’ products would have to meet amongst others Good Agricultural Practices, Good Manufacturing Practices, Pharmaceutical-quality standards, part of the European Pharmacopoeia, and many other European regulations. All while taking the sole responsibility for maintaining the pharmacovigilance of the program. 

The patients will also have to meet the criteria by following consumption guidelines by following the dosage, only vaping the supplied flowers, and having one of the limited qualifying conditions listed below.

  • Refractory neuropathic pain. 
  • Certain forms of drug-resistant epilepsy. 
  • Certain intractable symptoms in oncology linked to cancer or anticancer treatment. 
  • Palliative situations. 
  • Painful spasticity from multiple sclerosis
  • Pathologies of the central nervous system.

This week it was announced by the ANSM that it had selected six international cannabis companies to supply free ‘medical cannabis’ to the countries small pilot program. The six countries represent four potential power-house nations when it comes to future international dominance of the emerging global cannabis market. Australia, Canada, Israel, and the UK.

The exceedingly high barriers to entry meant that in reality, only a handful of players were ever in with a chance of securing a contract. The companies that won were Tilray and Aurora from Canada, Althea and Little Green Pharma from Australia, EMMAC life sciences from the UK, and Panaxia based in Israel. Tilray’s share price rose by 10% following the announcement.

The first prescription is expected to be fulfilled by the end of March this year. You can read more about which companies will be supplying what products in this great article by MJBIZDaily.com

Image: Daily Mail
Mother blames daughter’s suicide on cannabis

Mother claims her daughter’s suicide was related to cannabis

The final story we’ll look at this week is the tragic story of a young woman’s suicide that her mother is blaming on her cannabis consumption. It was reported in several mainstream papers in the UK this week that a 23-year-old girl named Emily Rowling committed suicide by jumping from a multi-story car park in Nottingham on May 14th, 2019.

Image of Emily

The woman’s mother claims that she became addicted to cannabis and became increasingly paranoid the more she smoked. An inquest into Emily’s death was held at Derby Coroner’s court and returned a verdict of suicide.

Speaking after the inquest Emily Rowling’s mother, Kerry Head said “they say no one has died from taking cannabis, but I disagree, my daughter has” She then goes on to talk about how her actions detrimentally affected her daughter’s mental health.

As reported in the Daily mail and several of Reach Plc’s properties this week Kerry Head decided to cut off her daughter and not giving her money as she would just spend it on cannabis. She was advised by an unnamed ‘drug helpline’ that Emily would only help herself when she hit rock bottom. A classic harmful and baseless prohibitionist refrain.

We would give her cash cards she could spend at Asda for food so she couldn’t spend cash on cannabis, but we later found out she was buying video games with them and selling them to get the cash” – Kerry Head, Emily’s mother

Emily, who was just 23, had previously been diagnosed with Emotionally unstable Personality Disorder also known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Which is one of the most fatal mental health conditions, with some 10% dying by suicide according to the latest research.

It is also one of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions in modern psychiatry meaning that she may well have also suffered from a schizoid type disorder that went unchecked – as she refused to engage much with mental health services. More than likely due to the continual attacks on her cannabis consumption.

Cannabis has like any other psychoactive substance or severe traumatic event can precipitate a psychosis type event but it is not directly responsible without underlying or other excising issues. Cannabis use is indeed reported higher in those suffering from psychosis, but this doesn’t equal causation. The incredible Dr. Carl Hart breaks it down wonderfully in an article in the Guardian newspaper.

In our extensive 2016 review of the literature, we concluded that those individuals who are susceptible to developing psychosis (which usually does not appear until around the age of 20) are also susceptible to other forms of problem behavior, including poor school performance, lying, stealing and early and heavy use of various substances, including marijuana. Many of these behaviors appear earlier in development, but the fact that one thing occurs before another also is not proof of causation.

It is also worth noting that 10-fold increases in marijuana use in the UK from the 1970s to the 2000s were not associated with an increase in rates of psychosis over this same period, further evidence that changes in cannabis use in the general population are unlikely to contribute to changes in psychosis.- Dr. Carl Hart (Guardian 2019)

There is no doubt in my mind that her mother’s ignorance of why her daughter was choosing to continue to consume cannabis despite her best attempts to control and stop her daughter played a large part in her death.

Isolation and the loss of close familial connections are all too common in drug-dependent individuals but this is most often due to the continual stigma surrounding drugs, the consequences of prohibition, and the disgusting advice handed out by ‘drug helplines’ and anti-drug organisations around the world that tell loved ones to abandon addicts and treat them with ‘tough love’ when what they really need is actual love and support for the system.

If young Emily was, in fact, a borderline then she may have actually found a great deal of refuge from the daily hell that can be your BPD brain – trust me I should know. I am borderline and I utilise cannabis every day to help me mitigate the most destructive and vicious tenancies and traits of this condition.

It was difficult to try and get her to seek help. I was so worried about her, but she wouldn’t let us help,” says Kerry. This sounds all too familiar to me, I have a lot of lived experience in this arena as I had my own dependency issues with various drugs over the years that were greatly compounded by my family and doctors ignorance of how these drugs were actually helping me.

All they could see was the emotional pain and turmoil that I was in and assumed it was the drugs and not the lifetime of trauma and various consequential mental health conditions that I was fighting at the time. It took a lot of hard work, research, and convincing but I finally was able to demonstrate to my family and healthcare professionals that their demonisation and dismissal of my valid reasons for consuming these various substances only compounded my distress and impede my recovery.

A legalised cannabis market here in the UK would allow for the profits of sales to go to help fund the small minority of consumers that may experience dependency or unwanted side effects rather than just potentially fund serious criminal activities.

There is growing evidence to support the efficacy of cannabis to treat a variety of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. If only the British establishment wasn’t so attached to the antiquated notion of ‘skunk psychosis’ then we could actively be helping individuals like Emily instead of driving them to their tragic death.

Cannabis didn’t kill Emily Rowling, cannabis prohibition did. The ignorant ideology of prohibition kills consumers of all drugs every day with its unceasing stigma and shame. Unfortunately, this “bright and fun” young woman’s death is just another tragic reminder that the stigma, propaganda, and ignorance of reefer madness is far more dangerous than cannabis could ever be.

Simpa

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.