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Cannabis news briefs: Congressional report calls for reclassification of marijuana, Tilray partners with Labatt, and former Coca-Cola exec joins CW Hemp

By Rick Schettino
Jan 08, 2019

According to a Congressional report released this week by Joint Economic Committee Democrats, marijuana sales will reach $11 billion in 2019 and could reach $23 billion by 2022. The report, entitled, “The National Cannabis Economy,” highlights the economic benefits of legalized cannabis at both state and national levels.

According to a press release, the report offers a “comprehensive snapshot of the eight states that have legalized the commercial sale of cannabis, as well as a table that shows the status of all states that have legalized cannabis in any form.”

Authors write, “As more states move to legalize cannabis, these numbers will only rise, potentially providing a new stream of revenue and jobs to local economies. But to realize these benefits, policymakers must address conflicts between state and federal regulations that impede the growth of the cannabis economy.”

“It’s time we legalize marijuana.” — The National Cannabis Economy Report

Sen. Martin Heinrich, Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee stated: “This conflict hurts small businesses and constrains the economic benefits of legal cannabis—an industry that is estimated to reach $11 billion in sales this year and $23 billion by 2022. But in order to realize the benefits, we must act on legislation such as the STATES Act to help these businesses thrive.”

As currently written, the STATES Act would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that its provisions no longer apply to individuals acting in accordance with state laws. The proposed measure has drawn support from the Trump administration and the cannabis industry alike.

[Canaccord Genuity analyst shifts focus from opportunity to execution for US cannabis stocks in 2019]

In the report, authors examine federal barriers that inhibit the growth of the cannabis industry, such as banking and taxes, while exploring the positive effects of cannabis legalization, such as social justice and increased tax revenue.

Shortly after the report was released, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams called on the federal government to reclassify marijuana. Adams said in a statement that medical marijuana, which is currently a Schedule I Substance according to the DEA, should be studied like any other pain relief drug. Adams called for reform of both health and criminal justice policies related to medical marijuana.


Source: Tilray

Tilray partners with Labatt and Novartis in push for global lead

Canadian licensed producer TIlray has announced a joint venture with Labatt Brewery (a division of world leader AB InBev) to complement its recent distribution deal with Canada's pharma giant Sandoz (a division of Swiss drug giant Novartis). The venture with Labatt will have Tilray and the beer-maker each contribute $50 million to create cannabis and CBD beverages for sale in Canada.

“It’s too early to know how big cannabinoid-based beverages will be but we think it’s a massive opportunity and it’s something we’re interested in investing aggressively in,” Tilray’s Chief Executive Officer Brendan Kennedy told Reuters last week. Tilray is also exploring opportunities to make acquisitions in 2019, both within and outside the cannabis space, Kennedy said.

AB InBev global brands include Budweiser and Stella Artois. The company is the fourth major liquor giant to partner with a Canadian marijuana producer.

Constellation Brands, whose brands include Corona, Modelo and Svedka Vodka, entered the pot industry more than a year ago via an ownership stake in a Canopy Growth Corp. Molson Coors came aboard in August by starting a joint venture with Hydropothecary Corp. to develop cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market. Meanwhile, Heineken-owned craft brewer Lagunitas has begun selling an "IPA-inspired" sparkling water infused with THC in California called Hi-Fi Hops.

Privateer Holdings has been the majority owner in Tilray since Canada’s medical marijuana rollout in 2015. Additionally, the company owns controlling takes in Marley Naturals, the leading LEAFLY information service, and the edible maker, GoodShip.

Earlier in 2019, Canada's Sandoz pharmaceutical arm said it would partner with Tilray on research for medical-grade marijuana products, and also add its Canadian distribution clout to support Tilray growth.  

[Marijuana stocks weekend investor roundup: Analysis of the week's most important events in the cannabis industry (January 5)]

Based upon the likely long-term fight for pole position between Tilray and Canopy, there will be considerable acquisitions, consolidation, and expansion in the year ahead.  Tilray, based in Nanaimo, British Columbia, has a market value of $6 billion even though it had revenue of less than $20 million in the first half of the year.

Former Coca-Cola exec joins Charlotte's Web

Former Coca-Cola exec Eugenio Mendez joined the Stanley Brothers team at Charlotte's Web in a newly-created growth position. Mendez served as Vice-President, Global Marketing of Water, Enhanced Water, and Sports Drinks – one of Coca-Cola’s fastest-growing categories.

Mendez led global strategy and marketing for the division which has annual sales of $12 billion. Mendez has already served in an advisory role to Charlotte’s Web for nearly two years. As the company’s Chief Growth Officer, he will lead their business development, marketing, and sales functions. Mendez will report to CWEB president Hess Moallem, who continues as CEO pending a search to replace him.

Across the globe

Isreal has become the third country to approve the export of marijuana. Israel’s Knesset Parliament has unanimously approved a measure allowing the export of medical marijuana joining both Canada and the Netherlands. The Israeli Cabinet must still approve the new law and is expected to do so. Read more here.

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Following in the footsteps of Uraguay and Canada, Mexico may soon legalize recreational marijuana. The interior minister of Mexico Olga Sanchez Cordero has submitted a bill to end the prohibition of marijuana and create a regulated market for the drug. The bill is likely to be passed within weeks, making Mexico only the third country in the world to legalize the cultivation and consumption of cannabis. Read more here.

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A spokesperson for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the dictator is in favor of medical marijuana and will sign any law legalizing it in his country. The President is “in favor of limited use of marijuana," Salvador Panelo told reporters in Malacañang. "Logically then he will support and sign any bill that would be consistent with his stand." Learn more here. In November, South Korea’s National Assembly voted to approve amendments in the central government’s stance on medical marijuana, making South Korea the first country in East Asia to legalize marijuana for medicinal reasons. Then in late December, the National Legislative Assembly in Thailand approved the use of medical marijuana.

[EXCLUSIVE: MILegalize’s Jamie Lowell speaks as more than 60 Michigan cities opt out of the marijuana industry]

A bill legalizing medical marijuana is currently wending its way through the Filipino legislature. Last September that country’s House of Representatives signed House Bill No. 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. The bill is now in its second reading in the House.

State-by-state

Oregon might be the first U.S. state to allow interstate cannabis commerce. Adam Smith executive director with industry advocacy group Craft Cannabis Alliance is working with Sen. Floyd Prozanski to craft export rules. Prozanski introduced a similar bill in 2017 which died before coming to a vote. Under the proposal, Oregon’s governor would be empowered to negotiate deals with other states where the drug is legal allowing wholesalers to sell marijuana and other cannabis-derived products to retailers in those states. More on that story here.

Oregon officials will be meeting mid-January to expand marijuana regulations to allow retailers to purchase, process and sell industrial hemp products, including CBD. Officials at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission hope to assist retailers in improving their profitability. OLLC writes, "The Commission forecasts that this will have a positive impact upon marijuana processors, as they will be able to purchase industrial hemp flower, concentrates or extracts at a lower price point than marijuana items."

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Michigan is looking at its first marijuana recall as the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has issued a voluntary recall of marijuana products which, according to LARA, were not lab tested before reaching retail shelves. Patients or caregivers who have purchased the affected products are being advised to return them to the point of purchase. UpNorthLive.com has issued a complete list of recalled marijuana products. According to LARA, the products were supplied to provisioning centers by Choice Labs, LLC in Jackson.

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New Jersey lawmakers are expected to meet with Gov. Phil Murphy behind closed doors later this week to discuss proposed recreational cannabis legislation. Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin are hoping to come to an agreement with the governor over sticking such as taxes and regulatory issues.

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In Missouri work is underway to implement Measure 2, a medical marijuana initiative passed in November. On Monday, the state will begin taking applications from dispensary, manufacturing and cultivation facilities. And state lawmakers have so far pre-filed 10 bills related to Marijuana during the off-session. Summaries of the proposed measures can be found here.

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[A closer look at Canada House Wellness Group and their million-dollar acquisition]

New Hampshire Representative Renny Cushing has proposed a comprehensive bill intended to legalize marijuana for those 21 and older, joining the ranks of neighboring states Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Under Cushing’s proposal, which references a recent marijuana commission study, residents would be legally allowed to possess up to an ounce of dried cannabis flower or 5 grams of concentrated cannabis. Growing of up to three mature and three immature marijuana plants would also be allowed. Cities and towns would have the option of opting out altogether or limiting cannabis operations in their jurisdiction. Sponsors of the bill include Senators John Reagan (R), and Martha Hennessy (D) and Republican representatives Carol McGuire, John O’Connor, and Jim Webb all of whom were part of the committee that commissioned the marijuana study. PotNetwork has more details on the proposal here.

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As many as 80 municipalities in Michigan are expected to ban marijuana businesses even before the Michigan Bureau of Marijuana Regulation writes the rules and regulations which will govern the industry. In accordance with the state Marihuana Act, the Bureau has until December 2019 to finalize regulations. More on that story here.

The 2018 cannabis review

New Frontier Data put together a brief look at cannabis over the past year, noting that over 30 countries have some form of legal cannabis, while 47 have used hemp for commercial or research purposes. The full chart can be seen below:


Source: New Frontier Data

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