Last Week in Weed Issue 38

In this issue of Last Week in Weed, Tilray takes a stake in Medmen, Reach PLC propaganda, and MS Society take NHS to task over Sativex access

Last Week in Weed

(23/8/21)

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

In this week’s issue of Last Week in Weed, we’ll be looking at Tilray hedging its bets on the US market by taking a minority stake in struggling US cannabis company Medmen. A cannabis propaganda piece in the Daily Record and finally, The MS Society takes the NHS to task over Sativex access.

Tilray takes minority stake in Medmen Enterprise Inc

Canadian powerhouse cannabis company Tilray announced last week that it had acquired a minority stake in the struggling US cannabis company Medmen Enterprise Inc. The ‘world’s biggest cannabis company by revenue’ announced that it and ‘select investors’ had acquired $165.8m of notes and warrant from Medmen’s previous ‘savior’ investor Gotham Green Partners.

The investment we are announcing in MedMen securities today, one of the most recognized brands in the $80 billion U.S. cannabis market, is a critical step toward delivering on our objective as we work to enable Tilray to lead the U.S. market when legalization allows” – Irwin Simon, Tilray Chief Executive

If converted the deal would see Tilray and its ‘select investors’ own 21% of equity in the fledgling US cannabis retailer. The deal will be completed once Tilray shareholders either approve or deny an additional 9million shares of its stock to Gotham Green Partners as part of the deal. IF denied the deal will be completed with cold hard cash.

Our management team has spent the past 18 months executing a disciplined turnaround plan,” We are grateful to our stakeholders for their patience and support as we worked to fix the business and rebuild trust and credibility” – Tom Lynch MedMen CEO 

It’s a tremendous outcome for us. Canadian companies are really restricted as to what they can actually do here. So, I think they found a creative entry point into the U.S. MSO (multistate operators) space. It’s probably about as far as they can go right now” – Tom Lynch, MedMen chief executive

Canadian cannabis companies cannot own American ones due to the ongoing federal prohibition of cannabis in the US. This has meant that the next-best option is to own a significant enough share to control growth and direction while ensuring eventual entry into an inevitably ‘legal’ US market.

Another lifeline was tossed to Medmen recently in the shape of a $100m stock deal with Toronto-based private equity firm Serruya. The additional funds will be used by Medmen to expand operations in California, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts. They already have 26 active dispensaries with 15 more planned to open before the end of 2021.

So as the market is heating up again on both sides of the US/Canadian border we have to ask ourselves, Do these Canadian cannabis companies know something that we do not? Well, here’s something for you to consider. In the early 2000s, the Taliban began destroying poppy crops in Afghanistan which led to the creation of the synthetic opioid Fentanyl.

Afghanistan will not be a country of cultivation of opium anymore…. We will bring opium cultivation to zero again” – Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesperson 

It is such a shame that Afghanistan has never been able to parley its long history of cannabis production and consumption into a thriving modern industry on the global stage. Unfortunately, the Taliban have now returned to power after two decades in exile. Upon their return, they announced their intentions to make the country ‘ drug-free’.

What exactly do we think will happen when the producer of over 90% of the world’s Opium supply simply stops? If they achieve their aims then we are going to witness the end of the global opium trade as we know it and either the creation of a new nightmarish synthetic Opioid hell-scape or the ubiquitous acceptance and adoption of cannabis as the first and best natural therapeutic intervention.

Reach Propaganda

A tragic fall turned into Propaganda by Reach Media

Reach Plc, our favourite UK media conglomerate are at it again. Last week three of its titles published rehashed versions of another classic piece of anti-cannabis propaganda. The piece appeared online last week after a public inquest into the accidental death of a man following a night out to celebrate his 33rd birthday. 

The RAF Veteran and Accident and Emergency nurse from Manchester had been out at a restaurant celebrating his birthday with his partner, family, and friends last August before falling to his death from a window in his Manchester flat. 

It has been reported in the Wales Online version of the story that last week an inquest heard how the man had, along with others taken an ‘edible’ chocolate infused with cannabis. There are no further details provided as to whether it was ‘legally’ purchased and advertised to contain CBD or unlawfully purchased and advertised to contain THC. 

Although “Everyone seemed to have a great time” the man and his partner left the post-restaurant gathering at his brothers early to get a taxi home. There is no mention or question of if and how much alcohol the group consumed while at the restaurant or his brother’s home.

The man allegedly then began to act out of character “seeming to rush home”. His partner testified that once home he started “pacing the landing” and “speaking to people who weren’t present”. Two classic states that I have seen exceptionally drunk friends and relatives get into far too often. 

The inquest then heard how the man’s partner decided to leave the property after the man’s behaviour became increasingly worrying to her. “I thought I was doing the best by allowing Julian to sleep whatever it was off. We had a hike planned in the morning with his mum. I thought he would sleep it off. He had settled in bed by the time I left.”

A few moments later a 999 call was received from a neighbour reporting that the man had fallen from a window and was laying on the floor outside. The inquest heard how the neighbour reported seeing “a ‘silhouetted’ figure of a man standing by his window roughly two minutes after [his partner] left the property” moments later they heard a loud bang and saw the man laying on the ground.

Emergency services arrived quickly but upon arrival at Salford Royal Hospital, a CT scan revealed that the injuries he sustained to his head were ‘too severe’ to operate on making his condition ‘unsurvivable’.

During the inquest the coroner asked his partner if he “had a look of terror in his eyes?” to which she replied “yes, I have never seen him behave like that” A rather leading question for a coroner don’t you think? Again, no mention of how much alcohol was consumed by the deceased.

The three stories appear in the Manchester evening news (England), Daily Record (Scotland), and Wales Online (Wales) this helps to ensure blanket coverage of its bullshit ‘reporting’ on this tragic story. 

The narrative that these pieces portray is that cannabis ended the life of this ‘active’ ‘brave’ and ‘adventurous’ young man. The vast majority of the piece is dedicated to the tributes paid to the man with little to no inquiry being made as to what happened to the man. There is plenty of faux-sentimentality expressed in the piece but far too little substance. 

Ultimately, the senior coroner Nigel Meadows recorded a verdict of misadventure, saying “I am satisfied that, on the balance of probabilities, he was suffering from a psychotic or delusional episode from the consumption of cannabis” and went on to say that “He may have been responding to something he thought was real but objectively was not there” 

I cannot see how the coroner is possibly qualified to make a mental health diagnosis for a man that “had not displayed any mental health issues in the past” nor why there was no inquiry into how much alcohol the man and his party had consumed the night of his death. 

Ultimately this piece has been published to increase the cognitive association between the words cannabis and death. No one in the entirety of recorded human history has ever died from consuming cannabis and this certainly won’t be the first. 

For context, Reach Plc is one of the UK’s largest media groups owning and publishing the Daily Mirror, Daily Record/Sunday Record, Daily Star/Daily Star Sunday, and the Daily Express/Sunday Express, and over 200+ region papers and online publications. It is in these regional papers that these propaganda pieces are most frequently published. 

You can read more about Reach Plc and its history of publishing anti-cannabis propaganda here.

The MS Society calls for wider access to GW Pharma drug Sativex.

The MS Society calls on NHS to improve access to Sativex

The new head of marketing at GW Pharmaceuticals isn’t messing around. As we discussed in issue 36 of Last Week in Weed GW has recently arranged a new trial of its first patented drug Sativex for Glioblastoma

Well, this week they are being championed by the MS Society in the UK. The Multiple Sclerosis charity has recently criticised the NHS for the lack of access to a drug designed by GW to treat spasticity in MS patients. 

The charity recently launched a new campaign called ‘Approved/denied’ aimed at ‘ending the postcode lottery’ MS sufferers are facing when trying to access Sativex. Although the drug has been approved by the appropriate regulators in the UK since 2019, less than half of the 106 health authorities in England will actually fund the over-priced single symptom management drug. 

It’s completely unacceptable that two years after receiving NICE approval, Sativex is only available in 49 out of 106 health areas in England. MS can be relentless, painful, and disabling, and getting the treatment you need shouldn’t be a game of chance. “Right now, some people with MS are having to choose between living with excruciating spasms or paying as much as £500 a month for a private Sativex prescription – it costs the NHS under £300 to provide the same dose. 

Some are even being forced to break the law by buying cannabis illegally. This cruel postcode lottery must end, and health bodies across England need to ensure that everyone who meets the criteria is able to access Sativex” – Fredi Cavander-Attwood, MS Society Policy Manager

The charity correctly assert that ‘MS is the only condition which has a licenced, cannabis-derived treatment for spasticity, but people with MS have been struggling to access the treatment on the NHS, despite it being approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice)’

The charity themselves proclaim that ‘Sativex doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does it can be life-changing.’ It is such a shame that instead of launching a campaign to help all MS patients lawfully access and consume any form of cannabis or cannabis product that works for them, they are instead championing a decades-old drug that has been discarded by most of those prescribed it in favour of whole-plant cannabis.

A friend of mine with MS once held up his bottle of Sativex and a bud of locally grown high-THC cannabis. He pointed to the bottle and said “this helps with spasticity” he then pointed at the bud and said “this helps reduce my spasticity, but this also helps me sleep, stimulate my appetite, regulate my mood, and get me through” I know if I was advocating for MS patients I would certainly want them to be able to use cannabis to manage more than just their spasticity.

Written by Simpa for TheSimpaLife.com

 

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter


Simpa is a passionate lived experience drug consumer and human rights activist, public speaker, published writer, and host of The Simpa Life Podcast.

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