420 with CNW – South Carolina Legislators Introduce Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana

It seems South Carolina is next in line to act upon the growing popularity of marijuana across the U.S. Two legislators have tabled a bill that, if passed, would allow patients to start using medical marijuana.

The Compassionate Care Act is sponsored by Rep. Peter McCoy and Sen. Tom Davis. When unveiling the bill, Sen. Davis said that their interest in introducing that bill was to make it possible for patients and their doctors to decide whether medical marijuana can be helpful in promoting the health of the patient. Such a decision should not be left to politicians or law enforcement agencies, he added.

True to the conservative nature of South Carolina, the proposed bill comes with numerous restrictions to prevent the program from being abused by those who wish to consume recreational marijuana.

For example, physicians will constantly monitor how the patients they recommended are using medical marijuana.

The bill also limits the qualifying conditions for which one can obtain a medical cannabis card. Only patients with chronic conditions will be eligible to get medical marijuana cards if the bill is passed in its current form. This is unlike some other states where nearly everyone can apply and receive a medical marijuana license since the qualifying conditions are loosely defined.

Currently, about 72 percent of people in South Carolina support the legalization of medical cannabis. The sponsors of this bill are counting on that popular support to see the bill through the legislature.

However, it will not be smooth sailing for the proposed law. There is opposition from different sections of the community, such as law enforcement and some members of the medical profession.

The Chairman of South Carolina’s Medical Association, Dr. John Ropp, is one of those who are vehemently opposed to the legalization of medical marijuana. He says that cannabis has been prohibited for approximately 50 years and it remains a Schedule 1 substance. This means that there is insufficient scientific data regarding its efficacy as a medicine. He adds that cannabis can only be used as a medicine once peer-reviewed studies show that it has medicinal value.

That is the same argument that the FDA, DEA and other federal agencies have been pushing, and yet the current federal legal regime continues to make it hard for researchers to study the plant and obtain the needed scientific backing for its use as a medicine.

All the same, Sen. Davis and Rep. McCoy are pressing ahead with the bill, and if it doesn’t succeed then a ballot measure may be on the cards. The cannabis industry, including Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) and Marijuana Company of America, Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) hopes that consensus is quickly built so that the patients who badly need medical cannabis can access it legally within the state.

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420 with CNW – CARERS Act Seeks to Reform Federal Marijuana Law

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) together with other cosponsors have introduced a bill in Congress seeking to protect states that legalize medical marijuana from federal prosecution while making their own laws to regulate the medical marijuana industry.

The bipartisan bill will formalize the respect of the rights of states to pass laws and implement their own medical marijuana programs. Currently, only a Department of Justice spending rider passed by Congress prevents federal prosecutors from using taxpayer money to prosecute individuals who use cannabis for medical or recreational purposes in states where it is legal. That rider, at least hypothetically, doesn’t bar federal prosecutors from using resources from anywhere else to go after cannabis consumers.

The CARERS (Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States) Act wants to remove any doubt that doctors, patients and caregivers risk federal prosecution for doing what is legal in their states.

The bill should not be mistaken to be a clever way of legalizing medical marijuana across the country. Rather, it just clarifies that the states that legalize medical marijuana will not be exposing their residents to the possibility of prosecution by the feds on charges related to possessing or consuming a federally illegal substance.

That threat of prosecution is so real that some states have introduced bills seeking to protect medical cannabis patients’ records from access by federal authorities. Missouri is an example of such states where bills are being considered in this regard.

Furthermore, the CARERS Act will allow doctors treating veterans to prescribe medical cannabis for the conditions which can be eased or treated by the use of medical cannabis. The bill seeks to insulate the doctors and their patients from any legal issues arising from the use of medical cannabis.

The Act will also grant greater access to scientists who would like to conduct investigations into the uses of marijuana. Currently, it is very hard to obtain approval for research, let alone access to high-quality cannabis for such studies.

Congressman Cohen said in a statement he issued that there is bipartisan support for cannabis reform across the country, but the federal laws aren’t in tandem with the wishes of the people because the laws continue to regard people who prescribe or use cannabis as criminals. His bill will try to bridge the gap between what the people want and what the broken laws currently state.

Marijuana advocates have a lot of hope in the current Congress that has just started business. Their hope hinges on the fact that the House is dominated by Democrats who have a track record of being progressive on matters of marijuana law reform. Industry players like Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) and Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) hope that this bill will succeed in the House and the Senate, and that many others will follow.

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420 with CNW – Research Shows that Fewer Teens Consumed Cannabis in Washington after Legalization

Many opponents of cannabis legalization often argue that teens will use the substance once it is legalized. However, a recent study done in Washington State has found that such fears are unfounded.

The researchers carefully analyzed the data collected during the Washington Healthy Youth Surveys conducted in 2010-2012 and the data gathered during the 2014-2016 survey. The data clearly shows that the number of teens who reported that they use cannabis had declined.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in the state in 2012, so the researchers had a keen interest in comparing consumption rates before and after legalization.

The study found that marijuana use among eighth-graders dropped by nearly 3 percent from approximately 10 percent in the years just before legalization to approximately 7 percent in the data captured following legalization.

There was a drop of 2 percent among 10th graders since the rate stood at 20 percent in the data captured in the 2010-2012 surveys while the rate was 18 percent when those teens were surveyed in 2014-2016. There was no change in the percentage of 12th graders who consume cannabis.

However, the researchers were quick to point out that their findings do not in any way suggest that the drop in cannabis use among teens is entirely the result of legalization. They also added that their findings may not be an accurate indicator of what trend marijuana consumption among teens will take in the long-term.

The researchers suggested that more research needs to be done about the how the availability of cannabis in given neighborhoods affects the marijuana-use patterns of teens. Such research is necessary since what happens in the state capital may have little influence on what happens in particular neighborhoods.

The impact of advertising, packaging and the proximity of retail outlets should also be investigated to reveal how those factors influence the drug-use behavior of minors.

In the meantime, another study that was published shortly before the one on teenage cannabis use shows that the number of cannabis users in Washington State is almost twice what it was thought to be. This study makes the findings showing a lower prevalence of marijuana use among teens even more significant since it becomes clearer that legalization didn’t trigger a spike in the number of teens who can access and consume cannabis.

Cannabis industry participants like Net Element (NASDAQ: NETE) and Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) are glad that verifiable scientific studies are disproving those who want to discredit cannabis at every opportunity.

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420 with CNW – UN Committee Delays Release of Cannabis Scheduling Recommendations

The Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) of the World Health Organization (WHO) met in November to discuss whether the scheduling of marijuana should be revised from its current status as a Schedule 1 substance to another less restrictive category. In a surprise move, the expected release of their findings has been postponed to January instead of this month as had earlier been indicated.

The ECDD called for, and received input from various stakeholders regarding various aspects of cannabis, such as its medicinal value as well as evidence of abuse or overdose incidents. The response to this call was massive, as was the situation when the FDA asked for input on the same matter in October.

The WHO committee subsequently released a pre-review report which had some positive findings about cannabis, such as the observation that no evidence had been presented that any fatality had ever occurred due to a cannabis overdose. The pre-review also indicated that there was evidence to show that some ingredients in cannabis can improve sleep and reduce pain.

The findings in the pre-review prompted the agency to take their examination a notch higher with a critical review done on the findings gathered. The findings of that in-depth critical review would then be used by the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs to decide whether to revise the scheduling of cannabis or leave it in the category where it is currently listed.

It is the release of the recommendations made after the in-depth critical review that have been delayed until January next year.

The Expert Committee said more time was needed “for clearance reasons” before the recommendations are made public. This announcement poured cold water on the marijuana advocates’ spirits since they had expected a favorable recommendation on the basis of the findings stated in the pre-review.

Speculation is rife that the delay was motivated by political factors since a recommendation to reschedule cannabis would have imposed a lot of pressure on various authorities to adjust their stance on cannabis. Remember, the UN sets the agenda for many international policies and member states are expected to follow the suggestions made by the world body.

Whatever the true reason for the delay, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs will meet in March 2019 and vote on the scheduling of cannabis. So, a decision will still be made one way or the other, and it may be hard for the Commission to keep cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance yet pure CBD (cannabidiol) was removed from international scheduling so that access by patients isn’t restricted. CBD can be extracted from cannabis.

Industry players like Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) and Net Element (NASDAQ: NETE) eagerly await the decision made by the UN since such a decision will have a global impact on how the cannabis industry evolves.

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420 with CNW – Why Cannabis Capsules are Gaining Popularity

This year saw three Canadian cannabis companies introduce marijuana capsules on the market following the lead taken by Tilray last year. This year also saw UC San Diego get permission from the DEA to import marijuana capsules for a clinical trial. So, what’s the deal with capsules? Why are they suddenly becoming popular?

The first reason why capsules are a hit in the market is because physicians and consumers find them convenient when one doesn’t want to make mistakes when measuring the quantity to consume, especially patients taking marijuana as a way to alleviating their medical conditions. The medical cannabis dispensary can simply advise the patient to take two capsules a day, or whatever number may be deemed necessary for a specific patient. Those instructions will be easier to follow, consistently, since the process of deciding how much cannabis to take is easy.

Secondly, it is easy to transport the cannabis capsules in case one needs a supply close by. For example, you can simply count out the number of capsules you will need for the days when you are going to be away from home. This is different from having to carry an entire bottle of cannabis oil, for example, thereby exposing it to the risk of total loss in case it spills or degrades due to the unfavorable conditions in which you are carrying the product.

Additionally, cannabis capsules are useful for those people who find themselves in environments where it isn’t possible for them to consume cannabis in the most common ways, such as by smoking or vaping it. Such a person can just pop a capsule (or two or three) and get on with whatever he or she was doing, and none nearby will be the wiser.

Let’s face it, marijuana is still a divisive substance, regardless of what the law says in various jurisdictions. Consequently, consumers often face varying levels of stigmatization as they exercise the freedom granted by law to consume cannabis either for medical or recreational reasons. Once again, capsules can come to the rescue of the individuals who want to be discreet regarding their use of marijuana.

However, it isn’t all rosy for cannabis capsules just yet.

One shortcoming of cannabis capsules is that they cannot be standardized as yet since every individual requires a different quantity of marijuana in order to get the desired effects, whether it is feeling high or getting relief from the symptoms of a medical condition. It may therefore be expensive to ask for the contents of capsules to be customized for your needs, or you will have to make do with the estimated contents from mass-produced capsules.

The other question is: do you prepare the capsules yourself, or buy them from a manufacturer/retailer like MedReleaf Corp.? The source of the capsules is important because it will determine whether you are getting a consistent quality and quantity of cannabis that can trigger the desired effects. For now, buying from a licensed producer or dispensary seems a better route than going the DIY way.

As you can see from the discussion above, marijuana capsules look set to rise to higher levels over the years because of the many advantages that they bring. Industry insiders like Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) and Net Element (NASDAQ: NETE) welcome every innovation, such as capsules, which makes it easier for people to access the cannabis they need for different purposes.

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CannabisNewsWire (CNW) is an information service that provides (1) access to our news aggregation and syndication servers, (2) CannabisNewsBreaks that summarize corporate news and information, (3) enhanced press release services, (4) social media distribution and optimization services, and (5) a full array of corporate communication solutions. As a multifaceted financial news and content distribution company with an extensive team of contributing journalists and writers, CNW is uniquely positioned to best serve private and public companies that desire to reach a wide audience of investors, consumers, journalists and the general public. CNW has an ever-growing distribution network of more than 5,000 key syndication outlets across the country. By cutting through the overload of information in today’s market, CNW brings its clients unparalleled visibility, recognition and brand awareness. CNW is where news, content and information converge.

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420 with CNW – Highlights of the 2018 Las Vegas Marijuana Business Conference

The 2018 Marijuana Business Conference held in Las Vegas came to an end on Friday last week after drawing record numbers of attendees. Several key issues can be identified from what transpired in Las Vegas during the conference.

Approximately 30,000 people were at this marijuana business conference. They ranged from marijuana business owners, vendors of cannabis products and investors gathering information before they make a decision to put money into the industry.

Such a huge interest can only confirm that marijuana is arguably the fastest growing industry across the world. This conclusion is valid given the rate at which different states within the U.S. and across Europe are legalizing some form of cannabis.

One of the biggest things to watch in the coming year are the changes that will be made in the way cannabis is grown. These changes are needed in order to grow as much as possible while cutting the cost of bringing the product to the market.

Some of the “smart” growing systems that were showcased could track various grow conditions, such as temperature and moisture level. The system can trigger the affected condition to be adjusted in a small area, such as a single grow bench.

In this way, you can minimize the inputs going into the cultivation process while increasing productivity. Such technologies will be key in the process of reducing the cost of producing each kilo or pound of cannabis.

Another trend to watch in the coming year and beyond is the growth in the number of pot lounges in states or countries where recreational marijuana has been legalized.

Pot lounges will play an increasing role in the cannabis industry for a number of reasons. First, different jurisdictions will have varying laws regarding the public smoking or use of recreational cannabis. A pot lounge therefore provides a haven where marijuana consumers can indulge without any fear of breaking public consumption laws.

Secondly, pot lounges provide an opportunity to create a cannabis lifestyle among consumers. The facilities can be designed and fitted in innumerable ways based on the wishes of the proprietors. This will create brand differentiation and build customer loyalty. A clear example of this is Planet 13, the largest cannabis retail store in the world located in Las Vegas. The establishment is already causing a stir in the industry and other places will have to take their cue from the standard that it has set.

Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTC: MCOA), Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) and other industry players may have left this conference confident that the outlook is bright for the entire cannabis industry.

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420 with CNW – Colorado Jury Rejects RICO Act Claim Against Marijuana Company

A few days ago, we reported about a landmark case in Colorado that had the potential to set a precedent that could have huge implications for the cannabis industry across the US. In that lawsuit, a couple sued a marijuana grow facility for making the plaintiffs’ property “lose value” due to the smell coming from the indoor cultivation facility.

That case was the very first of its nature to reach a jury and the entire cannabis industry watched with bated breath to see what decision will be made once the hearings end and the jury retires to make its verdict.

The defendant had planned to use property rate valuations as proof that the claim was unfounded since the state kept collecting higher taxes from that neighbor’s property due to the property’s increase in value despite the presence of the indoor grow in the area.

The case was heard and the jury withdrew to consider the evidence and arrive at a decision. In less than half a day, the verdict was ready and the plaintiffs’ claim was dismissed.

It is unlikely that the couple will appeal the federal court’s decision in a higher court since they stand a minimal chance of succeeding after this decision.

Industry watchers and the legal fraternity have said that the Colorado decision may have poured water on any other individuals or groups that were planning to target cannabis companies using the anti-racketeering laws of the mafia era.

In fact, three other lawsuits of the same nature are still pending in Oregon, Massachusetts and California. It isn’t known how many other copycat lawsuits would have been filed if the events in Denver had gone against Parker Walton’s cannabis grow facility, but chances are high that opportunistic law firms would have egged on many property owners to file cases.

The jury’s verdict has therefore put a dampener on all those who were harboring thoughts of shifting their attack against the cannabis industry to another front.

However, the risk of lawsuits still remains since there is a mismatch between the laws in states where marijuana is legal and federal laws that regard cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance (no medical use but a high likelihood of being abused). It is also very expensive to defend against such lawsuits, and Walton may have ended up losing his business if the jury had ruled against him.

Other companies in the industry, such as Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTC: MCOA) and Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) may be celebrating the verdict from Denver, but other threats to the industry still remain.

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420 with CNW – New York Liquor Stores Offer Solution to Recreational Marijuana Sales

The state of New York is hammering out the details of the law which will legalize recreational cannabis in the jurisdiction. One of the issues that has come up for consideration is how that cannabis will be distributed and sold once legalization takes place.

Liquor stores have come together and proposed that they should be allowed to sell recreational marijuana throughout the state. This group advances several arguments in support of their proposal.

First, they say that liquor stores exist throughout the state. Consequently, fewer resources will be wasted in setting up a new distribution and retail network for recreational cannabis. The public can therefore access the product sooner after legalization.

Secondly, liquor stores are heavily regulated by the state. The regulatory and enforcement arms of the state government will therefore not be stretched once recreational cannabis is added to the products that can be sold in liquor stores.

Thirdly, the group argues that letting liquor stores sell marijuana would help to protect the jobs and revenues accruing from the sale of alcohol. Other states where recreational marijuana is legal have registered a drop in alcohol sales. Consequently, some employees have been let go and a number of liquor stores have also closed.

Allowing the liquor stores to sell recreational cannabis would therefore protect the existing jobs in this sector of the state economy while also bringing in the expected taxes and other revenues from the cannabis industry.

The group of liquor store operators has set up a website to gather support for their suggestion. The public is being urged to access pre-written letters which can be sent to the different legislators who will make the final decision about how recreational marijuana will be sourced, distributed, and sold to the public.

The letters show that the plan by the liquor stores provides a win-win scenario for all concerned. The public benefits by having easy access to facilities that have been in existence in their neighborhoods. Law enforcement wins by simply expanding their effort instead of overseeing an entirely new bureaucracy. The state further benefits by saving the tax dollars which would have gone to setting up and overseeing a new network of cannabis retailers.

Governor Cuomo started the ball rolling on recreational cannabis legalization when he asked the Department of Health to analyze whether or not legalization should be done. The resultant report showed that the drawbacks of legalizing recreational cannabis were fewer than the benefits which the state would register.

The law being drafted also seeks to compel public health insurance plans to cover medical cannabis so that people don’t have to pay out of pocket for such needed treatments. Such progressive policies are exactly what companies like Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTC: MCOA) and Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) would like to see throughout the country.

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CannabisNewsWire (CNW) is an information service that provides (1) access to our news aggregation and syndication servers, (2) CannabisNewsBreaks that summarize corporate news and information, (3) enhanced press release services, (4) social media distribution and optimization services, and (5) a full array of corporate communication solutions. As a multifaceted financial news and content distribution company with an extensive team of contributing journalists and writers, CNW is uniquely positioned to best serve private and public companies that desire to reach a wide audience of investors, consumers, journalists and the general public. CNW has an ever-growing distribution network of more than 5,000 key syndication outlets across the country. By cutting through the overload of information in today’s market, CNW brings its clients unparalleled visibility, recognition and brand awareness. CNW is where news, content and information converge.

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420 with CNW – A Peek Into Canopy Growth’s Cannabis Manufacturing Facility Just Before Legalization Day

Wednesday (October 17) marked the start of a new era in Canada after recreational cannabis became legal. Canadians waited for this day, but not as eagerly as Canopy Growth, one of the leading cannabis companies in the country.

The President and co-CEO of the firm, Mark Zekulin, said that they pulled all the stops, including using every kind of transportation available in Canada (except dog sleds) to ensure that cannabis supplies were distributed to all the retailers who had placed orders from around the country.

Zekulin added that the company had been preparing for legalization day for years. That statement cannot be conceived as bragging since the company has been operating for years when only medicinal marijuana was legal in Canada.

Those long years of preparation were also revealed when the co-CEO said that the manufacturing plant of the company also has an edibles division even if cannabis edibles are not yet legal in Canada. It is believed that edibles will be legalized after about a year from the date when recreational cannabis hit the retail stores.

The information above was shared as the co-CEO and the VP for Communications took a team from Cheddar TV Network around their Ontario-based manufacturing facility.

The cannabis facility is housed in a building that used to host a Hershey’s chocolate factory in the past. To honor that heritage, Canopy Growth plans to make chocolates with a twist; chocolate infused with marijuana.

Canopy Growth employs more than 800 people at its Ontario headquarters, and those hundreds of employees must have had long shifts scrambling to make October 17 a success despite the logistical challenges of moving so much cannabis within such a short time.

The “vault” at the manufacturing plant had about half a billion dollars’ worth of marijuana and marijuana products at the time the Cheddar Network team toured the facility. That stockpile is only expected to sit on the shelves for a few days before it is all distributed to retailers and medical cannabis dispensaries throughout Canada.

Analysts estimate that the demand for marijuana is likely to hit more than 610 tons yet the existing suppliers can only avail 210 tons of marijuana. It is no wonder that Canopy Growth had to send out an all-hands-on-deck call to its employees in order to hit the ground running on day one of legal recreational cannabis.

American marijuana companies like Marijuana Company of America (OTC: MCOA) and Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) can only watch from a distance hoping that it won’t be long before marijuana becomes legal at the federal level in the homeland.

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420 with CNW – 750 Kilograms of Marijuana Seized By CBP at Canadian Border

Customs and Border Protection officials have announced that they have seized more than 10 shipments of bulk mail from Canada that contained approximately 750 kilograms of marijuana.

The seizures started weeks ago when a tractor trailer carrying bulk mail was flagged for additional inspection at the Port Huron entry point in Michigan. A canine unit drew the attention of the border officials to specific packages in the trailer. Further inspection revealed concealed marijuana.

Other searches conducted during the subsequent weeks unearthed more cannabis destined for the U.S. and concealed in bulk mail packages. No arrests have so far been made over the seized cannabis. The affected trucks and their drivers (all of them Canadian) were released by the Customs and Border Protection agents.

The CBP statement on the matter revealed that this isn’t the first time that attempts are made to smuggle marijuana into the U.S. in bulk mail. They vowed to keep intercepting any marijuana consignments that people try to move across the border from Canada.

The seizures come when recreational marijuana is just days away from legalization in Canada. Investors in the Canadian cannabis industry are already under the threat of lifetime entry bans once the U.S. authorities discover their links to the cannabis industry.

It is still unclear how the legalization of adult use of marijuana up north will affect the volume of marijuana that people try to get into the U.S. where cannabis remains illegal federally. One can expect that as marijuana becomes more readily available in Canada, many more people who travel there may try to sneak it into the U.S. where it is still illegal in most states.

Non-citizens should be particularly careful about trying to carry marijuana into the U.S. because the Customs and Border Protection administration has confirmed that people could be handed lifetime entry bans once found to be consumers or investors in the cannabis industry.

Meanwhile, any illegal substances seized by the U.S. border authorities are kept until they are destroyed. The same fate awaits the 750 kg of cannabis intercepted at this Michigan entry point.

News of such seizures is welcome to companies like Marijuana Company of America (OTC: MCOA) and Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) who jump through all sorts of hoops to meet the strict regulations where they operate while illegal operators distort the market with their unregulated products. Tighter border controls augur well for the legal cannabis industry.

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