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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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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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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420 with CNW – Why Legalizing Recreational Cannabis in New Jersey May Be a Game Changer

Medical cannabis has been legal in New Jersey since 2010. However, there are moves to expand the medical marijuana program and also decriminalize recreational pot in the state possibly by the end of this year or early next year. Industry watchers are suggesting that the legalization of recreational cannabis in New Jersey would be a game changer for the entire industry for a number of reasons.

First, the long history of cannabis prohibition in the state makes New Jersey one of the places with the largest number of people incarcerated for cannabis-related issues. New Jersey therefore has a big social wrong to address and the decriminalization of recreational cannabis could provide a template for the other states with similar issues to copy from.

This copying is likely to be similar to the way many states are copying the way California has regulated the home delivery of medical marijuana. “It has worked there, so there is no reason why it won’t work here” is a statement legislators and regulators are likely to use a lot when referring to the precedents set in New Jersey.

Secondly, New Jersey enforces some of the highest property rates in the U.S. This is likely to be factored into any legal regime designed to regulate the cannabis industry. The economic boom that could arise from the opportunities within the cannabis industry can encourage other states to borrow a leaf from New Jersey’s journey and trigger their own economic revival.

The third reason why New Jersey is likely to be a game changer for the cannabis industry is that it has the backing of the elected leaders of the community at different levels. For example, the governor, the senate president as well as the top honcho at the department of health are all eager to see cannabis legislation enacted as soon as possible.

This support for cannabis legislation is likely to produce a framework that will be a reference point for the other states which are also moving towards marijuana decriminalization.

The fourth reason is that New Jersey has a first-class healthcare system, world-class bio-tech and some of the top medical research institutions. These unique advantages mean that there will be no shortage of relevant research for product development or law reform. Consequently, New Jersey may be to the cannabis industry what Silicon Valley is to the tech industry.

The affluent population also makes it an exciting market for companies that wish to create products and test how the different market segments would respond to those innovations. Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) and NUGL Inc. (OTC: NUGL) can only dream of what their businesses would be like if all states had the characteristics of New Jersey.

For now, the country can only wait to see what sort of regulatory framework will be instituted when the cannabis bill is debated, modified and finally passed.

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420 with CNW – Louisiana Removes Cannabis Patient Cap on Doctors

The state of Louisiana voted to legalize medical cannabis in 2015. However, it has taken years for the laws to evolve and reach a level where patients can start accessing medical cannabis. This is now likely to happen in November of this year. The barrier on how many medical cannabis patients any doctor can handle has now been removed.

Under the 2016 law, doctors with a license to recommend medical cannabis to patients were restricted to a maximum of 100 patients at a time. That limitation was found to be impractical, even before the first medical cannabis dispensaries opened.

This is because only 48 doctors have submitted their applications to join the cannabis program, and just 37 of those have been cleared to write recommendations for patients who wish to use cannabis to treat their health conditions. Approximately 4,000 patients out of the anticipated 100,000 could access a doctor for a recommendation under that restriction.

The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners saw that bottleneck and voted overwhelmingly (eight to one) to allow qualifying doctors to take on as many patients as they can. This will hopefully reduce the wait lists for patents wishing to access medical cannabis.

Another sticking point that was voted on was the follow up requirement for both medical cannabis patients and doctors. Under the old law, patients were expected to see the doctor who gave them the medical cannabis recommendation every 90 days in order to renew that recommendation.

Patients felt that this requirement was too burdensome, since it would take a lot of time to schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Medical cannabis advocates also felt that the follow up requirement was unnecessary, since the doctor wasn’t responsible for prescribing or overseeing the medical cannabis patient’s treatment. Those visits every 90 days were therefore unnecessary.

The board of medical examiners voted to remove this restriction as well. However, it was a close vote, with five regulators voting in favor while four voted against the removal of that requirement.

However, the removal of those restrictions will not on its own make it easy for patients to get a recommendation for medical cannabis. This is because, as already indicated, the number of doctors signing up for the medical cannabis program is still woefully small.

Advocacy groups are planning to conduct awareness campaigns for doctors in order to address any concerns or information gaps preventing them from joining the medical cannabis program. The state board of medical examiners is supporting this plan, spearheaded by Louisiana State University. Firms like Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) and Sunniva Inc. (CSE: SNN) (OTCQX: SNNVF) must be wishing that all jurisdictions address cannabis issues as progressively as the state of Louisiana is doing.

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CannabisNewsBreaks – Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (REFG) Launches Banking and Financial Processing System

Cannabis-focused financial services company Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (OTC: REFG) this morning announced the launch of its banking and financial processing system, making its services available to the complete legal cannabis industry worldwide. State licensed marijuana establishments may sign up through the company’s website. The company’s advanced payment solution, Green, currently allows consumers to buy items using US currency and will soon allow Bitcoin. “As we’ve stated in previous announcements, we continue to believe our best-in-class security, regulatory compliance and pricing give us a huge competitive advantage,” Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions CEO Jeremy Roberts stated in the news release.

To view the full press release, visit http://cnw.fm/d9mZo

About Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions

Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions engages in providing end-to-end management, across multiple management systems, for medicinal marijuana operations. Many medicinal marijuana companies have experienced such rapid growth that they are finding it difficult to manage all aspects of their operation. In order to become a successful and compliant medicinal marijuana operation, effective management must depend on many different systems. REFG solves the fragmentation problem by identifying tools that are important to dispensaries, and customizing those tools specifically catered to the industry. The company strives to create awareness within the medicinal marijuana industry and to develop an environmentally friendly, economically sustainable business while increasing shareholder value. For more information, visit the company’s website at https://take.green/

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