• Back To Black: Why Consumers Are Staying Loyal To The Illicit Cannabis Market
    As people still go to jail for cannabis-related crimes, it’s a privilege to be able to carry a half-ounce bag of herb and not be doing anything illegal. But does this new freedom come with consequences? Most of California’s Proposition 215 supporters seem to believe so, particularly when it comes to high taxes inflating retail prices. It’s pushing people back to the illicit market—the underground commerce our government said would dissipate upon legalization—to procure their meds.  Although it seems agreeable for potheads on a budget, illicit cannabis is a splitting headache for the state. Jake Heraty, a student at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, had a liver transplant at only six-months-old and survived hepatoblastoma, a rare cancerous tumor that develops in the liver. Heraty uses cannabis to alleviate chronic pain resulting from his surgery. It’s extremely difficult for college students (or anyone not making $150,000 a year)  to survive in San Francisco, and Heraty can barely afford the medicinal marijuana he needs. “I don’t like purchasing from the streets,” Heraty tells High Times. “I’d prefer to go to a store and pick out just what I want. You know? But when you have to pay an extra 15 percent in taxes, there’s really no questions. I just can’t afford to throw down 20 extra dollars so the state can get their share of the cannabis market. That extra tax is my dinner.” Still, the state of California is making efforts to rid the streets of these affordable cannabis outlets. Last May, Governor Jerry Brown proposed to put $14 million into investigations towards illegal cannabis market activity. Brown’s proposal has been put into effect and a number of illicit market groups—from distributors to cultivators—have been raided. A job like this with only $14 million is simply absurd. Destroying the illicit cannabis market in California is a multi-billion dollar job. It’s going to take just as many years to destroy the illicit market as it will to create a well-oiled legal cannabis system. Inside the Illicit Market It isn’t just expensive for consumers to buy legal cannabis—it’s also expensive to own operate a legal business. Marco*, a Bay Area dealer, sips on a bottle of lean and puffs on a Backwood. He lounges back and recollects his illicit roots, comparing it to an art and drawing parallels between the OG weed community and family. “In the beginning, most people with any knowledge on the plant had learned it from a direct source,” he says. “Somebody who had grown it ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • Governor of New Mexico Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession
    One month after policymakers failed to pass a bill legalizing marijuana in the state, New Mexico has signed into effect a law to decriminalize cannabis. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham authorized the legislation, which will reduce the punishment for possession of up to a half ounce of weed from up to 15 days in jail to a fee of $50. The Senate passed SB 323 in March by a vote of 30 to 8. The House took its time deliberating over some Judiciary Committee amendments, eventually approving the legislation mere hours before its session concluded. “New Mexico just took an important step forward toward more humane marijuana policies,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project told Forbes. “It will no longer brand cannabis consumers criminals or threaten them with jail time for simple possession. But it’s a shame that only one piece of the war on marijuana is ending in New Mexico this year.” “This bill ensures that until we do legalize, people will not have their lives destroyed by being criminalized and stigmatized for possessing marijuana for their personal use,” wrote Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico director Emily Kaltenbach in a press release. Subsequent marijuana offenses may still be punished with jail time under Senate Bill 323. The bill, which will go into effect on July 1, makes New Mexico the 24th state to take jail time off the menu for small time marijuana possession charges. Decriminalization is a step forward in the absence of farther-reaching legalization, but it has not been found to entirely correct racially biased policing. Studies in states across the country have found that post-decriminalization, Blacks and Latinos are still more likely to be arrested than white cannabis users, even given similar rates of use among racial populations. Regulation would have taken on a unique profile in New Mexico — the legalization bill that was passed by the House on March 8 before stalling in the Senate’s Finance Committee would have placed marijuana sales largely in state-run retail outlets. In most states that have legalized cannabis, private companies take on the role of marijuana vendor. Legalization, once the purview of Democrats in the state, has recently become a bi-partisan issue as more and more Republicans come to see marijuana regulation as an inevitable political outcome. The legalization measure that passed in the House was the product of negotiations between both sides of the aisle, a “compromised floor substitute,” as it was introduced by Democratic Representative Javier Martinez.   For ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • New Jersey Police Dogs No Longer Being Trained to Sniff Out Weed
    For cannabis consumers still living under prohibition, just the sight of a drug-sniffing dog is enough to send pulses pounding. But in New Jersey, that’s about to change. Fielding questions from lawmakers during an Assembly budget hearing, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal confirmed that police would no longer train K9 dogs to detect the smell of marijuana. The decision follows a national trend toward training police canines to ignore marijuana and focus on the detection of other substances. New Jersey Police Won’t Train New K9s to Detect Marijuana During Wednesday’s Assembly budget hearing, a New Jersey lawmaker asked Attorney General Grewal how cannabis legalization would impact police dogs. According to the AP, Grewal said that the currently pending measure to legalize cannabis for adult use prompted police departments to halt marijuana detection training. The absence of a clear majority supporting that measure, however, has delayed a decision until later this year. Lawmakers had originally scheduled a vote on the bill for April 1. But with Senate President Stephen Sweeney citing “substantial progress” on the plan, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy are continuing their push. With legalization still a strong possibility, police departments aren’t committing resources to train weed-sniffing dogs unless there’s a demand. “It’s possible to train dogs to detect marijuana in the future if needed,” Grewal told lawmakers.  For critics of the police’s use of drug-sniffing dogs, the policy shift is a welcome one. Since the late 1960s, dogs that sniff for drugs have faced controversy. Since dogs don’t know the law, they can and often do violate due process by conducting “searches” without a warrant. Furthermore, a 2011 Chicago Tribune exposé revealed how drug K9s pick up on and follow the biases and prejudices of their handlers. The fact is that drug dogs constantly get it wrong and trigger false alerts. This lack of reliability has led judges to throw out many cases due to inadmissible police-dog evidence. Others have ruled that drug-sniffing dogs violate individuals’ right to privacy. Police Will Reassign Weed-Sniffing Dogs to Schools and Jails An end to the training of dogs to detect marijuana odors is a welcome change from a cannabis reform perspective. But changes to K9 training protocols often raise concerns about what happens to police pooches when they exit service. As Grewal told lawmakers, it’s not possible to “un-train” a K9 that’s knows how to detect cannabis. But even if New Jersey legalizes an adult-use industry, state police will still have assignments for weed-sniffing dogs. Marijuana will ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • STATES Act, Which Protects Legal Cannabis Businesses, Reintroduced in Congress
    Lawmakers in the House and Senate reintroduced a bill on Thursday that would protect businesses and individuals complying with state cannabis laws from prosecution by the federal government. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and in the House by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oreg.) and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio). Warren and Gardner originally introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States, or STATES, Act in June 2018. If passed, the bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that it is no longer applicable to statutes “relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of” cannabis for activities that comply with state law. Blumenauer said in a statement from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws that Congress should heed changing public opinion and reform federal cannabis policy. “Forty-seven states have legalized some form of cannabis and the majority of Americans support its legalization. Our outdated laws have ruined lives, devastated communities, and wasted resources for critical medical treatment and research,” said Blumenauer. “The STATES Act is the next logical step in a comprehensive blueprint for more rational federal cannabis policy. It’s time for Congress to catch up with the rest of America are and fix a badly broken system.” Bill Supported by Cannabis Industry and Activists Steve Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, called on the president to endorse the bill if it succeeds in Congress. “This bipartisan legislation signals the eventual end of marijuana prohibition at the federal level,” he said in a press release. “It reflects the position held by a strong majority of Americans that states should be able to develop their own cannabis policies without interference from the federal government. It also reflects the position President Trump took on marijuana policy throughout his campaign, and we are hopeful that he will have the opportunity to sign it into law.” Hawkins noted that while full legalization at the federal level is the ultimate goal of cannabis reform, until then the states should be allowed to take the lead on policy. “While we look forward to the day when Congress is ready to enact more comprehensive reform, we fully embrace the states’ rights approach proposed by this bill,” Hawkins said. “Nearly every state in the nation has enacted reforms that roll back the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in one way or another. This legislation will ensure those laws are respected by and protected from the federal government.” Aaron Smith, the executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • Nevil Schoenmakers, The Original Seed Bank Founder, Passes Away
    We are sad to announce the loss of a legend, Nevil Shoenmakers. Celebrated for his innovative work in breeding and genetics, Nevil was known as the original king of cannabis. In his career, he set the early groundwork of modern cannabis genetics and was responsible for some of the most popular and lauded strains in history. We are working with Nevil’s family and friends on a larger feature to celebrate and highlight his life, achievements, and legacy. Stay tuned for updates. Rest in peace, Nevil. You will be deeply missed. February 2, 1956—March 30, 2019 The post Nevil Schoenmakers, The Original Seed Bank Founder, Passes Away appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • Montel Williams Settles Lawsuit Against CBD Oil Company
    Celebrity cannabis advocate Montel Williams announced on Wednesday that he has reached a settlement in a lawsuit against a company that allegedly used his name and likeness to sell CBD oil without permission. Under the terms of the settlement, Timothy Isaac of Arizona and various entities he owns or is associated with have agreed to refrain from ever using Williams’ name, image, or likeness in its advertising again. Williams has been an outspoken supporter of medical marijuana and will be a keynote speaker at next week’s Cannabis Science Conference in Baltimore. “We are very pleased that our clients Mr. Williams and Montel Williams Enterprises were able to amicably resolve this litigation with the named defendants,” lead attorney in the lawsuit Marc Rachman said in a press release. “It is always a challenge to determine who is behind false celebrity endorsements online, but we believe we were successful in ferreting out many of the parties that were involved in the unauthorized use of Mr. Williams’ name and likeness. ” Seniors and Vets Scammed Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Williams, told High Times that after the celebrity announced the launch of his cannabis brand Lenitiv in 2017, scammers began selling their products as if they were Williams’ merchandise or endorsed by him. Articles about his company published by outlets such as Forbes and ABC had been altered and republished online with links that directed to shady e-commerce sites. Once a customer decided to try the products purported to be endorsed by Williams, they would end up being scammed. “They would sign them up for trials and then lock them into expensive credit card rebilling arrangements where there was really no way to cancel,” Franks said of the defendants. The unauthorized charges caused overdraft fees for some consumers and led at least one to change bank accounts. Franks said that Lenitiv started getting complaints from consumers who thought they had purchased products from the company but instead got scammed. “It’s upsetting to hear from senior citizens or veterans or people who are sick who fell for this and got taken for a ride,” he said. “This was not a harmless money-making scheme. They were hurting real people.” Franks declined to reveal any financial terms of the deal, saying “that part of the settlement is confidential.” He did say, however, that any potential monetary compensation was far outweighed by the costs of the legal action. Profit, according to Franks, was never the goal for Williams. “I would call this an operation to take back his name in the cannabis space from ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • Colorado Governor Signs Bill Approving Medical Cannabis for Autism Treatment
    Flanked by a kid wearing a “420 Autism” tee, on Tuesday Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into effect House Bill 1028, which legalizes medical marijuana treatment for autism. “OK kids, that’s how we make a law,” he told the families and advocates who had gathered for the occasion. But in fact, the story of this bill was much more complex than Polis’ pen flourish. A similar bill passed both the House and Senate last year, but was rejected by then-Governor John Hickenlooper, who was not convinced that scientific data existed that backed up the legislation’s application to young people living with autism. “I haven’t found a pediatrician yet who thinks it’s a good idea to sign this bill,” Hickenlooper commented at the time, adding that certain autism groups’ silence on the bill “speaks volumes.” A study ordered by Hickenlooper on the effects of cannabis on childhood autism has not yet reached a conclusion, though it has put together a working group of parents and health care professionals to advise its process. Polis has been an opponent of Hickenlooper’s distrust for marijuana’s effect on autistic kids for some time, even running for the office on the platform that he would have signed the legislation into law. The fact of the matter is that many Colorado families were already treating their children’s condition with medical marijuana. And despite Hickenlooper’s professed ignorance, studies do exist to reinforce their beliefs that the drug can reduce many of the health condition’s more severe symptoms. In Israel and Chile, research turned up positive effects in many clinical study participants, and the U.S. Department of Defense is set to begin a major study on the topic starting in June. Many states have made allowances in existing medical marijuana regulation for patients with autism. In October, Rhode Island’s Department of Health okay’d the treatment, and last December in Iowa, the Board of Medicine has voted to add autism to the list of qualifying conditions for the medical cannabis program. Though the governor’s approval was all but guaranteed in the matter, that doesn’t mean that HB 1028 did not face challenges in its lawmaking process. Arguments over how kids would access cannabis recommendations stalled the bill at the end of January, having already gone through two House readings. After negotiation, the legislation passed the House unanimously on February 7. Central to the hold-up was the question of who was qualified to say that a child would benefit from medical marijuana treatment. Parents argued ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-03
  • Florida Lawmakers Considering Limit on THC in Smokable Medical Marijuana
    On March 21, smokable medical cannabis products finally became available in Florida dispensaries. But already, House lawmakers are proposing legislation to limit THC levels in those products. It’s a move that critics say undermines the recent repeal of the ban on smokable medical marijuana. THC limits, they argue, will simply force medical cannabis patients to purchase and smoke more cannabis. Florida House Committee Chair Proposes 10 Percent THC Cap for Flower On Wednesday, the Florida House will take up discussion of a bill  proposed by Health & Human Services Chair Ray Rodrigues that would limit THC levels in both smokable and ingestible medical cannabis products. The bill would also erect barriers for sick children, making it more difficult for minors to obtain full-strength medical cannabis products. Another provision would give the Florida Dept. of Health authority to fast-track any new rules addressing the state’s medical marijuana program. The specific caps would limit THC in smokable products to a level far below the industry standard for flower. A 10 percent THC cap would likely require cultivators to breed new, less potent strains. The proposed limits for edibles would be higher. A 35-day supply of medical cannabis edibles, for example, would have a 7,000 mg total cap. 200 mg per day is more than most patients—but not all—would require. Critics Say THC Limits Will Cause More Spending and More Smoking Two weeks ago, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislature’s repeal of the ban on smokable medical marijuana into law. Gov. DeSantis had himself pushed for the repeal of the smoking ban. But Rodrigues, who is a Republican, cited studies linking high-potency cannabis to psychosis and schizophrenia, as well as studies suggesting cannabis produces deleterious effects on developing brains, as reasons for his proposal. Yet studies on cannabis use and mental illness are far from conclusive. Often, researchers publicize preliminary results that have not been vetted or peer-reviewed. But since such studies fit a popular anti-legalization narrative, lawmakers often neglect taking a closer look at their actual findings. But whether or not Rep. Rodrigues’ concerns are well-founded, critics say a cap on THC won’t produce the desired effect. Ben Pollara, a legalization advocate and critic of the proposal, called it “a tax on patients.” The 10 percent limit, Pollara said Tuesday, will force patients to pay more “to buy more marijuana to achieve the same effect as if the caps were not in place.” Additionally, patients seeking to achieve the same effect with lower-potency flower will have to smoke more, negating one ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-03
  • CA Lawmakers to Vote on Bill to Extend Temporary Cannabis Cultivation Licenses
    The California Senate is scheduled to vote on Thursday on a bill that would extend temporary licenses for thousands of cannabis cultivators waiting for their permanent license applications to be approved. The measure, Senate Bill 67, was introduced by Democratic Sen. Mike McGuire in January and approved unanimously by a Senate committee the following month. Nearly 2,000 temporary cannabis cultivation licenses have already expired, with thousands more set to suffer the same fate in the coming months, according to Jacqueline McGowan, the Director of Local Licensing and Business Development at K Street Consulting in Sacramento. “SB 67 would extend temporary licenses for anyone that is regulated by the Department of Food and Agriculture,” McGowan said in a telephone interview with High Times. “The agency was inundated with a large amount of temporary license applications at the end of last year and they have been overwhelmed and unable to process those applications in a timely fashion.” McGowan said that is a dire situation for California’s legal cannabis industry and has described the potential calamity as an impending “extinction event.” “We have 3,996 licenses that are set to expire this month,” she said. “That’s almost half of the licenses that are currently active.” Joe Devlin, the Chief of Cannabis Policy and Enforcement for the City of Sacramento, told High Times that growers who choose to eschew the black market and accept the burdens of licensure deserve the protection that SB 67 will provide. “We want folks to operate within the legal framework and the transition of this existing industry, the industry that predates legalization, is a process,” Devlin said. “Legalization wasn’t an event that occurred on January 1, 2018, it was really the beginning of a process. When you do things that you’ve never done before like legalizing cannabis and setting up new permitting and licensing departments, there are always going to be unforeseen challenges.” “There are no winners if all these temporary licenses simply expire. It doesn’t do anybody any good,” he added. McGowan says that regulators at the CDFA faced a daunting task to approve thousands of cultivation licenses and doesn’t blame the agency for the delays. “The reasons are fair,” she said. “The regulations were in flux. We had five different sets of draft regulations that we went through in 2018. I can understand that the agencies were hesitant to process these applications in the midst of the regulations being in flux.” McGowan urged medical marijuana patients and recreational cannabis users who support a regulated industry to call their ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-03
  • Kraig Fox Named New President and CEO of High Times Holding Corporation
    High Times Holding Corporation is thrilled to announce that veteran media and entertainment executive Kraig Fox will take over as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer. In his new role, Fox will oversee the operations of the company, which includes Dope Magazine, Culture Magazine, Green Rush Daily, and the Cannabis Cup Festivals. Fox’s extensive career includes executive positions on the teams of Live Nation, Core Media, Guggenheim Partners, and Eldridge Industries. High Times’ former CEO, Adam Levin, who has served since 2017, will now move into the role of Executive Chairman. “Kraig’s operating and finance experience with public companies in the live entertainment, music and branding sectors makes him the ideal executive to take the High Times brand, our growing portfolio of assets and our business operations to the next level,” Levin said.  Fox is joining the High Times family during a phase of growth, with several high-profile acquisitions, and expansion into the sectors of music and Video-on-Demand. “I believe that High Times is the most valuable and recognizable global brand in the cannabis sector,” Fox said. “This is an exciting time for cannabis globally, and I’m thrilled to be at the helm of this portfolio of properties and brands as we continue to expand both organically and through acquisitions.” “As the leading ‘non-plant’ touching business in the industry, High Times is providing investors with an amazing opportunity to participate in the macro growth of cannabis. We plan on keeping our public offering open for a brief period as we conclude discussions with institutions and other major investors. Both the investor and cannabis communities recognize that High Times is uniquely positioned to empower the industry with positive long-term financial returns,” he continued.  Fox said that he was excited to join High Times—a 44-year-old institution dedicated to educating people about cannabis, empowering the visionaries who work in the industry, and inspiring those who wish to join. Recently, the iconic brand has embarked on raising capital through one of the largest Regulation A+ funding initiatives in cannabis history, already attracting more than 20,000 investors. The company is preparing for the public listing of its shares, which is expected later in 2019. “As our operations expand globally, Kraig will provide both the personnel leadership and operational strategy to bring positive returns to those financially invested in the High Times brand,” Levin said. “I couldn’t be more excited to have Kraig join us.” The post Kraig Fox Named New President and CEO of High Times Holding Corporation appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-03
  • FDA Schedules First Public Hearing on CBD in Food and Drinks
    The Food and Drug Administration is looking to update its take on CBD, the agency has declared. As part of the process, its first public hearing on the subject is set to take place on May 31. Those looking to weigh in on the future of the drug take note; the governmental agency has announced that it will be specifically looking for “scientific data and information about the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling, and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds.” The hearing will be held at the FDA’s White Oak campus in Silver Spring, Maryland, but comments may also be submitted electronically or via mail before July 2. Those interested in attending may do so in person or by signing into a webcast of the hearing. “While the availability of CBD products in particular has increased dramatically in recent years, open questions remain regarding the safety considerations raised by their widespread use,” stated the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a memo announcing the hearing. Gottlieb will be leaving the agency later this week, and has appointed Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy and Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy Lowell Schiller to chair the working group charged with taking on the agency’s policy towards cannabis products. In the communique, Gottlieb also pointed out the creation of a Q&A page on the FDA website for those seeking more information on the agency’s posture towards cannabis and cannabis-derived products. The FDA has sought public comment on CBD usage as far back as 2017. Last year, the government agency officially approved its first cannabis product, the strawberry-flavored CBD medicine Epidiolex meant for use by children with Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two forms of severe epilepsy. The current state of CBD is rather complex, given that it is already an ingredient in Epidiolex and being marketed in a plethora of food, drink, and corporeal products across the country, from Willie Nelson’s CBD infused line of coffee to the various wares that started being hawked by CVS stores in eight states back in March. In February, it was announced that Martha Stewart will partner with Canadian company Canopy Growth to sell CBD pet products up north. There has been legislative pressure on the FDA to determine cohesive federal guidelines regarding CBD. Meanwhile, states have been left to interpret certain regulations for themselves. In New York, health officials will ban its usage in food and drinks, advising restaurants that vend such products that they will be penalized for their ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-02
  • Arkansas Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana
    State lawmakers in Arkansas introduced a bill on Monday that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under the measure, House Bill 1972, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana would be considered a violation instead of crime and would be subject to a fine of not more than $200. Currently, possession of less than an ounce of cannabis is a Class A misdemeanor in Arkansas. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Charles Blake and Sen. Joyce Elliot and co-sponsored by Rep. Vivian Flowers, all Democrats. The bill does not change the law for possession of larger amounts of marijuana. Under current statute, possession of one to four ounces of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor, although with four or more prior convictions possession of that amount can be charged as a Class D felony. Possessing four ounces to 10 pounds of marijuana is a Class D felony and 10 to 25 pounds of weed is a Class C felony. Possession of 25 fo 100 pounds of marijuana is a Class B felony and possessing more than 100 pounds of pot is a Class A felony. Under HB 1972, possession of less than one ounce would not qualify as a previous marijuana conviction. HB 1972 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Medical Marijuana Coming to Arkansas This Month Although Arkansas voters approved an amendment legalizing medical marijuana in November 2016, patients still do not have legal access to cannabis in the state. Licenses have been issued to growers and cultivation has already begun and 32 dispensaries received licenses in February, with some expecting to open later this month. Alex Gray, an attorney for the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, told local media two weeks ago that he expects fewer than 10 dispensaries to open in April. “I anticipate it will be possible for patients to obtain their medicine by mid-April,” Gray said. “However, there is no guarantee that it will be convenient. You could have certain zones where there are no dispensaries up and running.” Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance and Administration, said in an email in March that only a fraction of the 32 licensed dispensaries will be opening soon. “We are in contact with several dispensaries,” Hardin said. “Based on these conversations, we anticipate a limited number of dispensaries (less than five) will be inspected in April. If the companies pass inspection, they may then open their doors for business. We aren’t necessarily confident the product will be available ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-02
  • Top Cannabis Attorney Olasker Eyes New Breed of Activists on the Horizon
    The next wave of attacks on cannabis companies is likely to shift from short raids to traditional activist campaigns focused on better governance. That’s according to Patricia Olasker, Partner at Toronto-based Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, which ranked number one in cannabis M&A advisory in 2018. In an interview, Ms. Olasker pointed out that short sellers have dominated cannabis headlines after eye-watering valuations drew the attention of hedge funds that bet against stocks. Indeed, the likes of Tilray and Aphria became targets of short sellers last year, with some investors criticizing them very publicly. The question now is how activism will evolve and what types of companies will find themselves in the crosshairs. Patricia Olasker CorpGov: To what degree has activism been a factor for listed cannabis companies and is it changing? Ms. Olasker:  We have already seen a lot of short-seller activism in the cannabis space. When valuations start to come down to more realistic levels, as stocks begin to trade on real valuations – like multiples of EBITDA – we may start to see more traditional activists focus on the sector. Is Nelson Peltz’s involvement with Aurora Cannabis a sign of things to come? CorpGov: How has valuation worked so far and are investors ready to look at earnings as a reason to own stocks? Ms. Olasker: Initially, valuations were based on a unique industry metric – “funded capacity” – and trading was largely driven by speculation. Companies are still pre-profitability at this stage. Investors are starting to look for revenue or EBITDA, but we’re still a long way from seeing it across the board. CorpGov: What kind of issues will the industry grapple with as companies evolve? Ms. Olasker: Governance is an issue. Some of these companies have gotten very big very fast before they had time to put proper governance practices in place. Boards have been populated by friends, and the CEOs are rock stars who may be hard to manage. CorpGov: Do you think boards are acting responsibly enough and if not, what are they doing wrong? Ms. Olasker: There are some public situations with boards not paying adequate attention to what management was doing. That is changing. CorpGov: You were personally involved in multiple large M&A deals last year. How does the cannabis M&A landscape look over the next year? Ms. Olasker:  Interestingly, the domestic M&A that we saw in 2017-18 is probably just about over. The first wave of M&A was driven by a need for capacity so there was a flurry ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-02
  • Ontario, Canada Cannabis Retailers Opening Today
    Cannabis retail shops began opening in the Canadian province of Ontario on Monday, although fewer than half of the shops licensed by the government were ready to start operating on the first day of sales. According to the provincial Alcohol and Gaming Commission, 10 retail stores have been given the approval to open on April 1. Until Monday, legal cannabis sales in Ontario were only available online through a government-run e-commerce store. Three retail cannabis outlets were authorized to open in Ottawa, two in Kingston, and one each in Toronto, Brampton, Burlington, London, and St. Catharines. Government officials had hoped to have 25 stores open on Monday, but many are still navigating the approval process. Regulators set an initial cap of only 25 retail licenses because of a shortage of cannabis from licensed producers that is stifling the growth of the industry legalized in Canada late last year. Hunny Gawri, the owner of the Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. in Toronto, told reporters that he got little sleep Sunday night in the rush to get the store stocked and ready to open on Monday morning. “We have a full house in here,” Gawri said. “It’s everything we could have asked for.” Despite product shortages facing some retailers in Canada, Gawri said that he received everything that he ordered. But he said “it’s hard to say” if he might sell out of some items. “It really comes down to how many people come through … we are hoping we have enough supply before the next delivery,” Gawri said. Customer Stephanie Shamoon arrived at the Hunny Pot at 10 p.m. Sunday night and was the second in line for the opening of the store, where she said it was much easier to shop than online. “You can come in right away, pick up what you want… you can smell it,” she said. Making History David Nguyen, the owner of RELM Cannabis Co. in Burlington, was excited to have one of few stores opening on Monday. “We’re all here to make history,” he said. “We have great educators to teach about products and we also have security to ensure that they’re checking IDs.” Gord Nichols lined up outside the store at 5:30 in the morning. “I just wanted to wait and see what the excitement is about,” he said. “It’s the end of prohibition.” Nichols added that he hoped that legalization would help lessen the stigma surrounding cannabis. “It’s going to be different to go and buy it and relax at home and not be afraid,” he ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-01
  • Texas Lawmakers Plan to Remove Hemp from List of Controlled Substances
    Amid a record-setting number of cannabis bill proposals being considered by the state’s lawmakers, Texas’ Department of State Health Services has announced that it will be removing hemp from its list of Schedule I drugs on Friday. Schedule I drugs are defined as substances with high potential for abuse and no medical use. Texas’ marijuana movement has accelerated this year, seeing a flurry of activity on fronts from hemp rescheduling to decriminalization bills. Last week, decriminalization proposal HB 63 made it out of the House’s Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. On Monday, six bills that take a look at lightening penalties for marijuana possession are due to receive a public hearing in House committees. Four other bills were also set to be considered on Monday that related to the regulation, licensing, and production of hemp products, and there is even a bill that is set for public hearing that relates to changing “marihuana” to “cannabis” when being referred to in state code. Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy has counted over 60 cannabis bills that have been introduced by the state’s lawmakers this year. Department of Health Services commissioner John Hellerstedt announced on Monday that he had made an amendment to the state’s list of controlled substances that will be published March 15, taking effect 21 days later. Rep. Tracy King’s House Bill 1325 that would authorize hemp production and hemp-based products is also being considered today in the Texan House. To some, the reclassification of hemp in the state comes as no surprise. In December, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller encouraged Congress to allow United States farmers to grow the product. His wish was granted with the passage of the new U.S. Farm Bill later that month, though the USDA has announced that it will not be finalizing guidelines of hemp production until 2020. “In today’s economy, our farmers need maximum flexibility to diversify their production and thrive,” wrote Miller at the time. “When our farmers do well, they can provide for their families, grow our rural communities and ensure we have the food, clothing and medicine we all need.” In February, Nasdaq accepted a Canadian company that plans to grow hemp in Texas to its exchange. Village Farms International is now listing on the Nasdaq exchange as VFF. Texan officials reclassifying hemp also changes things for entrepreneurs in the state’s developing CBD industry. “They’ve been operating in kind of a legal grey area,” Jax Finkel, executive director of Texas National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told Fox 7. “This ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-01
 
  • Back To Black: Why Consumers Are Staying Loyal To The Illicit Cannabis Market
    As people still go to jail for cannabis-related crimes, it’s a privilege to be able to carry a half-ounce bag of herb and not be doing anything illegal. But does this new freedom come with consequences? Most of California’s Proposition 215 supporters seem to believe so, particularly when it comes to high taxes inflating retail prices. It’s pushing people back to the illicit market—the underground commerce our government said would dissipate upon legalization—to procure their meds.  Although it seems agreeable for potheads on a budget, illicit cannabis is a splitting headache for the state. Jake Heraty, a student at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, had a liver transplant at only six-months-old and survived hepatoblastoma, a rare cancerous tumor that develops in the liver. Heraty uses cannabis to alleviate chronic pain resulting from his surgery. It’s extremely difficult for college students (or anyone not making $150,000 a year)  to survive in San Francisco, and Heraty can barely afford the medicinal marijuana he needs. “I don’t like purchasing from the streets,” Heraty tells High Times. “I’d prefer to go to a store and pick out just what I want. You know? But when you have to pay an extra 15 percent in taxes, there’s really no questions. I just can’t afford to throw down 20 extra dollars so the state can get their share of the cannabis market. That extra tax is my dinner.” Still, the state of California is making efforts to rid the streets of these affordable cannabis outlets. Last May, Governor Jerry Brown proposed to put $14 million into investigations towards illegal cannabis market activity. Brown’s proposal has been put into effect and a number of illicit market groups—from distributors to cultivators—have been raided. A job like this with only $14 million is simply absurd. Destroying the illicit cannabis market in California is a multi-billion dollar job. It’s going to take just as many years to destroy the illicit market as it will to create a well-oiled legal cannabis system. Inside the Illicit Market It isn’t just expensive for consumers to buy legal cannabis—it’s also expensive to own operate a legal business. Marco*, a Bay Area dealer, sips on a bottle of lean and puffs on a Backwood. He lounges back and recollects his illicit roots, comparing it to an art and drawing parallels between the OG weed community and family. “In the beginning, most people with any knowledge on the plant had learned it from a direct source,” he says. “Somebody who had grown it ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • Governor of New Mexico Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession
    One month after policymakers failed to pass a bill legalizing marijuana in the state, New Mexico has signed into effect a law to decriminalize cannabis. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham authorized the legislation, which will reduce the punishment for possession of up to a half ounce of weed from up to 15 days in jail to a fee of $50. The Senate passed SB 323 in March by a vote of 30 to 8. The House took its time deliberating over some Judiciary Committee amendments, eventually approving the legislation mere hours before its session concluded. “New Mexico just took an important step forward toward more humane marijuana policies,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project told Forbes. “It will no longer brand cannabis consumers criminals or threaten them with jail time for simple possession. But it’s a shame that only one piece of the war on marijuana is ending in New Mexico this year.” “This bill ensures that until we do legalize, people will not have their lives destroyed by being criminalized and stigmatized for possessing marijuana for their personal use,” wrote Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico director Emily Kaltenbach in a press release. Subsequent marijuana offenses may still be punished with jail time under Senate Bill 323. The bill, which will go into effect on July 1, makes New Mexico the 24th state to take jail time off the menu for small time marijuana possession charges. Decriminalization is a step forward in the absence of farther-reaching legalization, but it has not been found to entirely correct racially biased policing. Studies in states across the country have found that post-decriminalization, Blacks and Latinos are still more likely to be arrested than white cannabis users, even given similar rates of use among racial populations. Regulation would have taken on a unique profile in New Mexico — the legalization bill that was passed by the House on March 8 before stalling in the Senate’s Finance Committee would have placed marijuana sales largely in state-run retail outlets. In most states that have legalized cannabis, private companies take on the role of marijuana vendor. Legalization, once the purview of Democrats in the state, has recently become a bi-partisan issue as more and more Republicans come to see marijuana regulation as an inevitable political outcome. The legalization measure that passed in the House was the product of negotiations between both sides of the aisle, a “compromised floor substitute,” as it was introduced by Democratic Representative Javier Martinez.   For ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • New Jersey Police Dogs No Longer Being Trained to Sniff Out Weed
    For cannabis consumers still living under prohibition, just the sight of a drug-sniffing dog is enough to send pulses pounding. But in New Jersey, that’s about to change. Fielding questions from lawmakers during an Assembly budget hearing, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal confirmed that police would no longer train K9 dogs to detect the smell of marijuana. The decision follows a national trend toward training police canines to ignore marijuana and focus on the detection of other substances. New Jersey Police Won’t Train New K9s to Detect Marijuana During Wednesday’s Assembly budget hearing, a New Jersey lawmaker asked Attorney General Grewal how cannabis legalization would impact police dogs. According to the AP, Grewal said that the currently pending measure to legalize cannabis for adult use prompted police departments to halt marijuana detection training. The absence of a clear majority supporting that measure, however, has delayed a decision until later this year. Lawmakers had originally scheduled a vote on the bill for April 1. But with Senate President Stephen Sweeney citing “substantial progress” on the plan, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy are continuing their push. With legalization still a strong possibility, police departments aren’t committing resources to train weed-sniffing dogs unless there’s a demand. “It’s possible to train dogs to detect marijuana in the future if needed,” Grewal told lawmakers.  For critics of the police’s use of drug-sniffing dogs, the policy shift is a welcome one. Since the late 1960s, dogs that sniff for drugs have faced controversy. Since dogs don’t know the law, they can and often do violate due process by conducting “searches” without a warrant. Furthermore, a 2011 Chicago Tribune exposé revealed how drug K9s pick up on and follow the biases and prejudices of their handlers. The fact is that drug dogs constantly get it wrong and trigger false alerts. This lack of reliability has led judges to throw out many cases due to inadmissible police-dog evidence. Others have ruled that drug-sniffing dogs violate individuals’ right to privacy. Police Will Reassign Weed-Sniffing Dogs to Schools and Jails An end to the training of dogs to detect marijuana odors is a welcome change from a cannabis reform perspective. But changes to K9 training protocols often raise concerns about what happens to police pooches when they exit service. As Grewal told lawmakers, it’s not possible to “un-train” a K9 that’s knows how to detect cannabis. But even if New Jersey legalizes an adult-use industry, state police will still have assignments for weed-sniffing dogs. Marijuana will ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • STATES Act, Which Protects Legal Cannabis Businesses, Reintroduced in Congress
    Lawmakers in the House and Senate reintroduced a bill on Thursday that would protect businesses and individuals complying with state cannabis laws from prosecution by the federal government. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and in the House by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oreg.) and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio). Warren and Gardner originally introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States, or STATES, Act in June 2018. If passed, the bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that it is no longer applicable to statutes “relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of” cannabis for activities that comply with state law. Blumenauer said in a statement from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws that Congress should heed changing public opinion and reform federal cannabis policy. “Forty-seven states have legalized some form of cannabis and the majority of Americans support its legalization. Our outdated laws have ruined lives, devastated communities, and wasted resources for critical medical treatment and research,” said Blumenauer. “The STATES Act is the next logical step in a comprehensive blueprint for more rational federal cannabis policy. It’s time for Congress to catch up with the rest of America are and fix a badly broken system.” Bill Supported by Cannabis Industry and Activists Steve Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, called on the president to endorse the bill if it succeeds in Congress. “This bipartisan legislation signals the eventual end of marijuana prohibition at the federal level,” he said in a press release. “It reflects the position held by a strong majority of Americans that states should be able to develop their own cannabis policies without interference from the federal government. It also reflects the position President Trump took on marijuana policy throughout his campaign, and we are hopeful that he will have the opportunity to sign it into law.” Hawkins noted that while full legalization at the federal level is the ultimate goal of cannabis reform, until then the states should be allowed to take the lead on policy. “While we look forward to the day when Congress is ready to enact more comprehensive reform, we fully embrace the states’ rights approach proposed by this bill,” Hawkins said. “Nearly every state in the nation has enacted reforms that roll back the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in one way or another. This legislation will ensure those laws are respected by and protected from the federal government.” Aaron Smith, the executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • Nevil Schoenmakers, The Original Seed Bank Founder, Passes Away
    We are sad to announce the loss of a legend, Nevil Shoenmakers. Celebrated for his innovative work in breeding and genetics, Nevil was known as the original king of cannabis. In his career, he set the early groundwork of modern cannabis genetics and was responsible for some of the most popular and lauded strains in history. We are working with Nevil’s family and friends on a larger feature to celebrate and highlight his life, achievements, and legacy. Stay tuned for updates. Rest in peace, Nevil. You will be deeply missed. February 2, 1956—March 30, 2019 The post Nevil Schoenmakers, The Original Seed Bank Founder, Passes Away appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • Montel Williams Settles Lawsuit Against CBD Oil Company
    Celebrity cannabis advocate Montel Williams announced on Wednesday that he has reached a settlement in a lawsuit against a company that allegedly used his name and likeness to sell CBD oil without permission. Under the terms of the settlement, Timothy Isaac of Arizona and various entities he owns or is associated with have agreed to refrain from ever using Williams’ name, image, or likeness in its advertising again. Williams has been an outspoken supporter of medical marijuana and will be a keynote speaker at next week’s Cannabis Science Conference in Baltimore. “We are very pleased that our clients Mr. Williams and Montel Williams Enterprises were able to amicably resolve this litigation with the named defendants,” lead attorney in the lawsuit Marc Rachman said in a press release. “It is always a challenge to determine who is behind false celebrity endorsements online, but we believe we were successful in ferreting out many of the parties that were involved in the unauthorized use of Mr. Williams’ name and likeness. ” Seniors and Vets Scammed Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Williams, told High Times that after the celebrity announced the launch of his cannabis brand Lenitiv in 2017, scammers began selling their products as if they were Williams’ merchandise or endorsed by him. Articles about his company published by outlets such as Forbes and ABC had been altered and republished online with links that directed to shady e-commerce sites. Once a customer decided to try the products purported to be endorsed by Williams, they would end up being scammed. “They would sign them up for trials and then lock them into expensive credit card rebilling arrangements where there was really no way to cancel,” Franks said of the defendants. The unauthorized charges caused overdraft fees for some consumers and led at least one to change bank accounts. Franks said that Lenitiv started getting complaints from consumers who thought they had purchased products from the company but instead got scammed. “It’s upsetting to hear from senior citizens or veterans or people who are sick who fell for this and got taken for a ride,” he said. “This was not a harmless money-making scheme. They were hurting real people.” Franks declined to reveal any financial terms of the deal, saying “that part of the settlement is confidential.” He did say, however, that any potential monetary compensation was far outweighed by the costs of the legal action. Profit, according to Franks, was never the goal for Williams. “I would call this an operation to take back his name in the cannabis space from ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-04
  • Colorado Governor Signs Bill Approving Medical Cannabis for Autism Treatment
    Flanked by a kid wearing a “420 Autism” tee, on Tuesday Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into effect House Bill 1028, which legalizes medical marijuana treatment for autism. “OK kids, that’s how we make a law,” he told the families and advocates who had gathered for the occasion. But in fact, the story of this bill was much more complex than Polis’ pen flourish. A similar bill passed both the House and Senate last year, but was rejected by then-Governor John Hickenlooper, who was not convinced that scientific data existed that backed up the legislation’s application to young people living with autism. “I haven’t found a pediatrician yet who thinks it’s a good idea to sign this bill,” Hickenlooper commented at the time, adding that certain autism groups’ silence on the bill “speaks volumes.” A study ordered by Hickenlooper on the effects of cannabis on childhood autism has not yet reached a conclusion, though it has put together a working group of parents and health care professionals to advise its process. Polis has been an opponent of Hickenlooper’s distrust for marijuana’s effect on autistic kids for some time, even running for the office on the platform that he would have signed the legislation into law. The fact of the matter is that many Colorado families were already treating their children’s condition with medical marijuana. And despite Hickenlooper’s professed ignorance, studies do exist to reinforce their beliefs that the drug can reduce many of the health condition’s more severe symptoms. In Israel and Chile, research turned up positive effects in many clinical study participants, and the U.S. Department of Defense is set to begin a major study on the topic starting in June. Many states have made allowances in existing medical marijuana regulation for patients with autism. In October, Rhode Island’s Department of Health okay’d the treatment, and last December in Iowa, the Board of Medicine has voted to add autism to the list of qualifying conditions for the medical cannabis program. Though the governor’s approval was all but guaranteed in the matter, that doesn’t mean that HB 1028 did not face challenges in its lawmaking process. Arguments over how kids would access cannabis recommendations stalled the bill at the end of January, having already gone through two House readings. After negotiation, the legislation passed the House unanimously on February 7. Central to the hold-up was the question of who was qualified to say that a child would benefit from medical marijuana treatment. Parents argued ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-03
  • Florida Lawmakers Considering Limit on THC in Smokable Medical Marijuana
    On March 21, smokable medical cannabis products finally became available in Florida dispensaries. But already, House lawmakers are proposing legislation to limit THC levels in those products. It’s a move that critics say undermines the recent repeal of the ban on smokable medical marijuana. THC limits, they argue, will simply force medical cannabis patients to purchase and smoke more cannabis. Florida House Committee Chair Proposes 10 Percent THC Cap for Flower On Wednesday, the Florida House will take up discussion of a bill  proposed by Health & Human Services Chair Ray Rodrigues that would limit THC levels in both smokable and ingestible medical cannabis products. The bill would also erect barriers for sick children, making it more difficult for minors to obtain full-strength medical cannabis products. Another provision would give the Florida Dept. of Health authority to fast-track any new rules addressing the state’s medical marijuana program. The specific caps would limit THC in smokable products to a level far below the industry standard for flower. A 10 percent THC cap would likely require cultivators to breed new, less potent strains. The proposed limits for edibles would be higher. A 35-day supply of medical cannabis edibles, for example, would have a 7,000 mg total cap. 200 mg per day is more than most patients—but not all—would require. Critics Say THC Limits Will Cause More Spending and More Smoking Two weeks ago, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislature’s repeal of the ban on smokable medical marijuana into law. Gov. DeSantis had himself pushed for the repeal of the smoking ban. But Rodrigues, who is a Republican, cited studies linking high-potency cannabis to psychosis and schizophrenia, as well as studies suggesting cannabis produces deleterious effects on developing brains, as reasons for his proposal. Yet studies on cannabis use and mental illness are far from conclusive. Often, researchers publicize preliminary results that have not been vetted or peer-reviewed. But since such studies fit a popular anti-legalization narrative, lawmakers often neglect taking a closer look at their actual findings. But whether or not Rep. Rodrigues’ concerns are well-founded, critics say a cap on THC won’t produce the desired effect. Ben Pollara, a legalization advocate and critic of the proposal, called it “a tax on patients.” The 10 percent limit, Pollara said Tuesday, will force patients to pay more “to buy more marijuana to achieve the same effect as if the caps were not in place.” Additionally, patients seeking to achieve the same effect with lower-potency flower will have to smoke more, negating one ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-03
  • CA Lawmakers to Vote on Bill to Extend Temporary Cannabis Cultivation Licenses
    The California Senate is scheduled to vote on Thursday on a bill that would extend temporary licenses for thousands of cannabis cultivators waiting for their permanent license applications to be approved. The measure, Senate Bill 67, was introduced by Democratic Sen. Mike McGuire in January and approved unanimously by a Senate committee the following month. Nearly 2,000 temporary cannabis cultivation licenses have already expired, with thousands more set to suffer the same fate in the coming months, according to Jacqueline McGowan, the Director of Local Licensing and Business Development at K Street Consulting in Sacramento. “SB 67 would extend temporary licenses for anyone that is regulated by the Department of Food and Agriculture,” McGowan said in a telephone interview with High Times. “The agency was inundated with a large amount of temporary license applications at the end of last year and they have been overwhelmed and unable to process those applications in a timely fashion.” McGowan said that is a dire situation for California’s legal cannabis industry and has described the potential calamity as an impending “extinction event.” “We have 3,996 licenses that are set to expire this month,” she said. “That’s almost half of the licenses that are currently active.” Joe Devlin, the Chief of Cannabis Policy and Enforcement for the City of Sacramento, told High Times that growers who choose to eschew the black market and accept the burdens of licensure deserve the protection that SB 67 will provide. “We want folks to operate within the legal framework and the transition of this existing industry, the industry that predates legalization, is a process,” Devlin said. “Legalization wasn’t an event that occurred on January 1, 2018, it was really the beginning of a process. When you do things that you’ve never done before like legalizing cannabis and setting up new permitting and licensing departments, there are always going to be unforeseen challenges.” “There are no winners if all these temporary licenses simply expire. It doesn’t do anybody any good,” he added. McGowan says that regulators at the CDFA faced a daunting task to approve thousands of cultivation licenses and doesn’t blame the agency for the delays. “The reasons are fair,” she said. “The regulations were in flux. We had five different sets of draft regulations that we went through in 2018. I can understand that the agencies were hesitant to process these applications in the midst of the regulations being in flux.” McGowan urged medical marijuana patients and recreational cannabis users who support a regulated industry to call their ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-03
  • Kraig Fox Named New President and CEO of High Times Holding Corporation
    High Times Holding Corporation is thrilled to announce that veteran media and entertainment executive Kraig Fox will take over as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer. In his new role, Fox will oversee the operations of the company, which includes Dope Magazine, Culture Magazine, Green Rush Daily, and the Cannabis Cup Festivals. Fox’s extensive career includes executive positions on the teams of Live Nation, Core Media, Guggenheim Partners, and Eldridge Industries. High Times’ former CEO, Adam Levin, who has served since 2017, will now move into the role of Executive Chairman. “Kraig’s operating and finance experience with public companies in the live entertainment, music and branding sectors makes him the ideal executive to take the High Times brand, our growing portfolio of assets and our business operations to the next level,” Levin said.  Fox is joining the High Times family during a phase of growth, with several high-profile acquisitions, and expansion into the sectors of music and Video-on-Demand. “I believe that High Times is the most valuable and recognizable global brand in the cannabis sector,” Fox said. “This is an exciting time for cannabis globally, and I’m thrilled to be at the helm of this portfolio of properties and brands as we continue to expand both organically and through acquisitions.” “As the leading ‘non-plant’ touching business in the industry, High Times is providing investors with an amazing opportunity to participate in the macro growth of cannabis. We plan on keeping our public offering open for a brief period as we conclude discussions with institutions and other major investors. Both the investor and cannabis communities recognize that High Times is uniquely positioned to empower the industry with positive long-term financial returns,” he continued.  Fox said that he was excited to join High Times—a 44-year-old institution dedicated to educating people about cannabis, empowering the visionaries who work in the industry, and inspiring those who wish to join. Recently, the iconic brand has embarked on raising capital through one of the largest Regulation A+ funding initiatives in cannabis history, already attracting more than 20,000 investors. The company is preparing for the public listing of its shares, which is expected later in 2019. “As our operations expand globally, Kraig will provide both the personnel leadership and operational strategy to bring positive returns to those financially invested in the High Times brand,” Levin said. “I couldn’t be more excited to have Kraig join us.” The post Kraig Fox Named New President and CEO of High Times Holding Corporation appeared first on High Times. ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-03
  • FDA Schedules First Public Hearing on CBD in Food and Drinks
    The Food and Drug Administration is looking to update its take on CBD, the agency has declared. As part of the process, its first public hearing on the subject is set to take place on May 31. Those looking to weigh in on the future of the drug take note; the governmental agency has announced that it will be specifically looking for “scientific data and information about the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling, and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds.” The hearing will be held at the FDA’s White Oak campus in Silver Spring, Maryland, but comments may also be submitted electronically or via mail before July 2. Those interested in attending may do so in person or by signing into a webcast of the hearing. “While the availability of CBD products in particular has increased dramatically in recent years, open questions remain regarding the safety considerations raised by their widespread use,” stated the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a memo announcing the hearing. Gottlieb will be leaving the agency later this week, and has appointed Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy and Principal Associate Commissioner for Policy Lowell Schiller to chair the working group charged with taking on the agency’s policy towards cannabis products. In the communique, Gottlieb also pointed out the creation of a Q&A page on the FDA website for those seeking more information on the agency’s posture towards cannabis and cannabis-derived products. The FDA has sought public comment on CBD usage as far back as 2017. Last year, the government agency officially approved its first cannabis product, the strawberry-flavored CBD medicine Epidiolex meant for use by children with Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two forms of severe epilepsy. The current state of CBD is rather complex, given that it is already an ingredient in Epidiolex and being marketed in a plethora of food, drink, and corporeal products across the country, from Willie Nelson’s CBD infused line of coffee to the various wares that started being hawked by CVS stores in eight states back in March. In February, it was announced that Martha Stewart will partner with Canadian company Canopy Growth to sell CBD pet products up north. There has been legislative pressure on the FDA to determine cohesive federal guidelines regarding CBD. Meanwhile, states have been left to interpret certain regulations for themselves. In New York, health officials will ban its usage in food and drinks, advising restaurants that vend such products that they will be penalized for their ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-02
  • Arkansas Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana
    State lawmakers in Arkansas introduced a bill on Monday that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under the measure, House Bill 1972, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana would be considered a violation instead of crime and would be subject to a fine of not more than $200. Currently, possession of less than an ounce of cannabis is a Class A misdemeanor in Arkansas. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Charles Blake and Sen. Joyce Elliot and co-sponsored by Rep. Vivian Flowers, all Democrats. The bill does not change the law for possession of larger amounts of marijuana. Under current statute, possession of one to four ounces of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor, although with four or more prior convictions possession of that amount can be charged as a Class D felony. Possessing four ounces to 10 pounds of marijuana is a Class D felony and 10 to 25 pounds of weed is a Class C felony. Possession of 25 fo 100 pounds of marijuana is a Class B felony and possessing more than 100 pounds of pot is a Class A felony. Under HB 1972, possession of less than one ounce would not qualify as a previous marijuana conviction. HB 1972 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Medical Marijuana Coming to Arkansas This Month Although Arkansas voters approved an amendment legalizing medical marijuana in November 2016, patients still do not have legal access to cannabis in the state. Licenses have been issued to growers and cultivation has already begun and 32 dispensaries received licenses in February, with some expecting to open later this month. Alex Gray, an attorney for the Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association, told local media two weeks ago that he expects fewer than 10 dispensaries to open in April. “I anticipate it will be possible for patients to obtain their medicine by mid-April,” Gray said. “However, there is no guarantee that it will be convenient. You could have certain zones where there are no dispensaries up and running.” Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance and Administration, said in an email in March that only a fraction of the 32 licensed dispensaries will be opening soon. “We are in contact with several dispensaries,” Hardin said. “Based on these conversations, we anticipate a limited number of dispensaries (less than five) will be inspected in April. If the companies pass inspection, they may then open their doors for business. We aren’t necessarily confident the product will be available ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-02
  • Top Cannabis Attorney Olasker Eyes New Breed of Activists on the Horizon
    The next wave of attacks on cannabis companies is likely to shift from short raids to traditional activist campaigns focused on better governance. That’s according to Patricia Olasker, Partner at Toronto-based Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, which ranked number one in cannabis M&A advisory in 2018. In an interview, Ms. Olasker pointed out that short sellers have dominated cannabis headlines after eye-watering valuations drew the attention of hedge funds that bet against stocks. Indeed, the likes of Tilray and Aphria became targets of short sellers last year, with some investors criticizing them very publicly. The question now is how activism will evolve and what types of companies will find themselves in the crosshairs. Patricia Olasker CorpGov: To what degree has activism been a factor for listed cannabis companies and is it changing? Ms. Olasker:  We have already seen a lot of short-seller activism in the cannabis space. When valuations start to come down to more realistic levels, as stocks begin to trade on real valuations – like multiples of EBITDA – we may start to see more traditional activists focus on the sector. Is Nelson Peltz’s involvement with Aurora Cannabis a sign of things to come? CorpGov: How has valuation worked so far and are investors ready to look at earnings as a reason to own stocks? Ms. Olasker: Initially, valuations were based on a unique industry metric – “funded capacity” – and trading was largely driven by speculation. Companies are still pre-profitability at this stage. Investors are starting to look for revenue or EBITDA, but we’re still a long way from seeing it across the board. CorpGov: What kind of issues will the industry grapple with as companies evolve? Ms. Olasker: Governance is an issue. Some of these companies have gotten very big very fast before they had time to put proper governance practices in place. Boards have been populated by friends, and the CEOs are rock stars who may be hard to manage. CorpGov: Do you think boards are acting responsibly enough and if not, what are they doing wrong? Ms. Olasker: There are some public situations with boards not paying adequate attention to what management was doing. That is changing. CorpGov: You were personally involved in multiple large M&A deals last year. How does the cannabis M&A landscape look over the next year? Ms. Olasker:  Interestingly, the domestic M&A that we saw in 2017-18 is probably just about over. The first wave of M&A was driven by a need for capacity so there was a flurry ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-02
  • Ontario, Canada Cannabis Retailers Opening Today
    Cannabis retail shops began opening in the Canadian province of Ontario on Monday, although fewer than half of the shops licensed by the government were ready to start operating on the first day of sales. According to the provincial Alcohol and Gaming Commission, 10 retail stores have been given the approval to open on April 1. Until Monday, legal cannabis sales in Ontario were only available online through a government-run e-commerce store. Three retail cannabis outlets were authorized to open in Ottawa, two in Kingston, and one each in Toronto, Brampton, Burlington, London, and St. Catharines. Government officials had hoped to have 25 stores open on Monday, but many are still navigating the approval process. Regulators set an initial cap of only 25 retail licenses because of a shortage of cannabis from licensed producers that is stifling the growth of the industry legalized in Canada late last year. Hunny Gawri, the owner of the Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. in Toronto, told reporters that he got little sleep Sunday night in the rush to get the store stocked and ready to open on Monday morning. “We have a full house in here,” Gawri said. “It’s everything we could have asked for.” Despite product shortages facing some retailers in Canada, Gawri said that he received everything that he ordered. But he said “it’s hard to say” if he might sell out of some items. “It really comes down to how many people come through … we are hoping we have enough supply before the next delivery,” Gawri said. Customer Stephanie Shamoon arrived at the Hunny Pot at 10 p.m. Sunday night and was the second in line for the opening of the store, where she said it was much easier to shop than online. “You can come in right away, pick up what you want… you can smell it,” she said. Making History David Nguyen, the owner of RELM Cannabis Co. in Burlington, was excited to have one of few stores opening on Monday. “We’re all here to make history,” he said. “We have great educators to teach about products and we also have security to ensure that they’re checking IDs.” Gord Nichols lined up outside the store at 5:30 in the morning. “I just wanted to wait and see what the excitement is about,” he said. “It’s the end of prohibition.” Nichols added that he hoped that legalization would help lessen the stigma surrounding cannabis. “It’s going to be different to go and buy it and relax at home and not be afraid,” he ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-01
  • Texas Lawmakers Plan to Remove Hemp from List of Controlled Substances
    Amid a record-setting number of cannabis bill proposals being considered by the state’s lawmakers, Texas’ Department of State Health Services has announced that it will be removing hemp from its list of Schedule I drugs on Friday. Schedule I drugs are defined as substances with high potential for abuse and no medical use. Texas’ marijuana movement has accelerated this year, seeing a flurry of activity on fronts from hemp rescheduling to decriminalization bills. Last week, decriminalization proposal HB 63 made it out of the House’s Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. On Monday, six bills that take a look at lightening penalties for marijuana possession are due to receive a public hearing in House committees. Four other bills were also set to be considered on Monday that related to the regulation, licensing, and production of hemp products, and there is even a bill that is set for public hearing that relates to changing “marihuana” to “cannabis” when being referred to in state code. Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy has counted over 60 cannabis bills that have been introduced by the state’s lawmakers this year. Department of Health Services commissioner John Hellerstedt announced on Monday that he had made an amendment to the state’s list of controlled substances that will be published March 15, taking effect 21 days later. Rep. Tracy King’s House Bill 1325 that would authorize hemp production and hemp-based products is also being considered today in the Texan House. To some, the reclassification of hemp in the state comes as no surprise. In December, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller encouraged Congress to allow United States farmers to grow the product. His wish was granted with the passage of the new U.S. Farm Bill later that month, though the USDA has announced that it will not be finalizing guidelines of hemp production until 2020. “In today’s economy, our farmers need maximum flexibility to diversify their production and thrive,” wrote Miller at the time. “When our farmers do well, they can provide for their families, grow our rural communities and ensure we have the food, clothing and medicine we all need.” In February, Nasdaq accepted a Canadian company that plans to grow hemp in Texas to its exchange. Village Farms International is now listing on the Nasdaq exchange as VFF. Texan officials reclassifying hemp also changes things for entrepreneurs in the state’s developing CBD industry. “They’ve been operating in kind of a legal grey area,” Jax Finkel, executive director of Texas National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told Fox 7. “This ... read more
    Source: High TimesPublished on 2019-04-01