Insurance for Cannabis Businesses is Becoming More Available As Legalization Spreads

Federal law keeps the cannabis industry from flourishing. Aside from a lack of banking, cannabis businesses are also prohibited from being fully insured, thus making them extremely vulnerable. In California, however, the last year-and-a-half has seen a wave of insurance providers writing coverage for the industry. At the end of last month, Golden Bear Insurance Co. was approved to lower existing insurance rates, bolster coverage options, and expand the types of business they will cover.

“We’re moving in a positive direction,” Commissioner Jones told High Times in an interview. “It demonstrates that there’s a market for this coverage and that it’s necessary.”

Golden Bear also now provides equipment breakdown coverage. So, if there’s a loss of inventory and income caused by the failure of refrigeration, manufacturing, or other equipment necessary for processing and maintaining cannabis and its products, Golden Bear will likely provide coverage.

“The insurance covers the equipment that’s integral to the business’ operations.”

Last November, the Stockton-based company became the first commercial insurer to offer protections for the California cannabis industry. The other type coverage plans offered are general liability, products insurance, and property coverage. These plans extent to cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers. Some policies will even cover crime.

Cannabis law in California requires businesses to have commercial general liability coverage of at least $2 million, with insurance of up to $1 million for each loss. The state’s legislation also requires a $5,000 surety bond that is to be addressed to the state of California.

“Since Golden Bear came into the market, we’ve approved five other insurers offering various kinds of coverage,” Jones says. “For example, the other week we approved a filing for Atlas Insurance for workers compensation. Earlier in the year we approved several companies offering surety bonds.”

Lloyd’s of London Providing Coverage in Canada

On the heels of Golden Bear making their coverage more available, Lloyds of London, the UK-based insurance marketplace, announced they’d provide coverage for Canada’s legal industry.

“It is anticipated that the legalization of cannabis-related activities [in Canada] will give rise to new opportunities for insurers considering writing related risks,” Lloyd’s said to its underwriters in a statement.

Along with announcing coverage in Canada, Lloyd’s also issued a warning to its underwriters. “In view of the proximity of the USA to Canada and the potential to write cross-border exposures, it is important that managing agents ensure that any cannabis risks have Canadian risk location only.”

In 2015, Lloyd’s of London instructed underwriters not to open or renew existing accounts with cannabis companies in the United States until the plant is federally legal. Pulling out of the American market was said to have left thousands of cannabis business owners seeking new insurers for their crops, buildings and inventory. To this day, there’s a major gap in crop insurance available to the industry.

Lloyd’s of London doesn’t actually provide coverage, however. It operates an insurance marketplace similar to a stock or commodities exchange. Lloyd’s works with “syndicates” that underwrite coverage, and those syndicates transact with London-based brokers who deal with companies around the world that provide insurance to businesses; some of which offer coverage to cannabusinesses.

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Canada’s Aurora Cannabis Aims to List on U.S. Stock Exchange Next Month

Canada’s federal adult-use cannabis law hasn’t even gone into effect yet. But already the year has been a huge one for the country’s cannabis companies. Cannabis legalization doesn’t just mean access to a previously prohibited retail space; it also means access to financial instruments and stock exchanges. Furthermore, federal legalization means Canadian cannabis companies can go public not only on domestic exchanges, but on U.S. exchanges as well. The Canadian cannabis companies Tilray and Canopy Growth Corp. have both listed on U.S. exchanges. And, this week, Canadian cannabis giant Aurora Cannabis announced its plans to join the ranks of major companies listing on a major U.S. exchange.

Aurora Cannabis Seeks Out U.S. Investors With Plans for October Listing

In an interview with the Financial Post on Tuesday, Aurora Cannabis CCO Cam Battley said the company aims to establish a U.S. listing of its shares in October. Battley didn’t specify on which exchange, Nasdaq or the NYSE, Aurora plans to list. Shares of the company currently trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).

Whichever U.S. exchange Aurora chooses, the move is clearly designed to attract U.S. investors to the company. Aurora recently made a series of high-profile acquisitions, and is looking to raise capital for new operations. More information on the company’s specific listing strategy will likely be forthcoming after Aurora releases its Q3 earnings.

News of Aurora’s U.S. Exchange Listing Broke Trading on Robinhood App

News of Aurora Cannabis’ plans to list on a U.S. exchange in October sparked a surge of buy orders for ACBFF, an over-the-counter market ticker through which U.S. investors can buy Canadian stock on the TSX. Order volume was so high, in fact, that the popular fee-free trading app Robinhood had to suspend any new buying of Aurora Cannabis today, Business Insider reports.

Robinhood hasn’t said much about the suspension, except that buy orders exceeded the capacity of execution venues to complete them. In other words, orders to buy ACBFF broke Robinhood, on which Aurora is the sixteenth most popular stock. According to Robinhood’s website, over 81,000 investors hold Aurora shares with the brokerage. Other major cannabis companies, including Tilray, are also on Robinhood. But only Aurora is experiencing issues with trade volume.

Possible Coca-Cola Partnership Bumps Aurora Stock Price

Financial regulators also temporarily suspended trading of Aurora shares on the TSX this week. The brief hold came as the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada investigated reports of a possible partnership between Coca-Cola and Aurora. The talks reportedly addressed the possibility of launching a CBD-infused beverage.

Aurora acknowledges holding “exploratory discussions” with Coca-Cola. But the company says there’s no agreement or arrangement of any kind with the beverage company. Still, news that there could be sent Aurora’s stock’s skyward on Monday with a 20 percent price bump. Over the past year, Aurora’s share value has increased more than 300 percent.

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New Report Says Concentrates are the Fast Growing Favorite Among Consumers

Marijuana concentrates are the fastest growing product category in the cannabis industry, according to data released by Arcview Market Research on Tuesday. Projections for legal cannabis sales in the United States were produced in conjunction with BDS Analytics and are contained in the report “Concentrates: The Hottest Product Category in Cannabis.”

According to the data from Arcview, consumer sales of cannabis concentrates will grow by 49 percent in the second half of 2018, reaching a total of $2.9 billion. The research firm expects concentrates to be the second most popular cannabis product category with consumers after marijuana flower.

Dr. Markus Roggen, the vice president for extraction at OutCo Labs near San Diego, California, told High Times via email that the variety of concentrates available offer many new alternatives for cannabis consumers.

“Concentrates are the obvious future of cannabis because they allow for novel products such as oils, sauce, live rosin, tinctures, edibles, and topicals, which new consumers are more comfortable with than flower, as [it] removes the classic ‘stoner’ image from cannabis consumption,” said Roggen.

Legalization Leads to Innovation

Roggen noted that many firms are committing resources to further innovation in the production of cannabis concentrates.

“The entire industry has been investing heavily in research to develop the next generation of products,” said Roggen. “Here at OutCo our focus has been on high-terpene extracts, specifically, vape oil that maintains and represents the full-spectrum, pure cannabis plant as closely as possible.”

Troy Dayton is the CEO of the Arcview Group, the parent company of Arcview Market Research. He said in a release that sales of cannabis oils, vape cartridges, wax, shatter, and similar products continue to gain popularity with American consumers.

“As the cannabis industry matures, we’ll likely see new product categories catch fire with consumers,” said Dayton. “Concentrates are the first category to do that, but it’s just the beginning of a revolution in how cannabis is consumed now that it’s becoming legal around the world.”

Cannabis concentrates are expected to make up 27 percent of total sales of cannabis products in 2018. That is up from just 10 percent of sales only four years ago. More than half of the sales from the concentrates product category are expected to come from pre-filled vaporizer cartridges. Arcview predicts that vape cartridges will continue to be the dominant product in the category for at least the next five years.

By 2022, sales of cannabis concentrates are expected to reach a total of $8.4 billion in annual sales, nearly equaling the $8.5 billion is estimated sales of marijuana flower that year.

Vape Cartridges Offer Convenience

Vape cartridges offer consumers an option for consuming cannabis that can be clean, convenient, discreet, and simple to use. Tom Adams is the managing director of industry intelligence for BDS Analytics, a cannabis consumer research firm based in Boulder, Colorado. He said that concentrates continue the evolution of cannabis culture that has been going on for millennia.

“Technology is revolutionizing a product category that began as hand-rubbed hash in the Middle East centuries ago,” Adams said. “We believe the growth of the concentrate market will continue as the cannabis industry evolves and consumers look toward new and innovative delivery methods that fit their lifestyles.”

Adams told Bloomberg that many consumers see vape pens as a better option for consuming cannabis.

“Walking down the street and smoking a big, fat joint is not very discreet,” Adams said. “Taking a quiet hit on a vape pen is very discreet.”

Despite the explosive growth of cannabis concentrates, Adams believes that given a more liberal regulatory environment, sales would be even higher.

“It would be happening quicker, except there are so many limitations on it,” said Adams. “Lots of medical states allow flower only.”

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Packaging Design for Cannabis Products: How to Build Trust and Gain Customers

To sell more cannabis products, you must build trust with your customers. Design Shack Magazine explains: “Trust is a key component of user loyalty, and a reason why people come to your company or brand.”

If you don’t get your package design right, people might simply ignore your cannabis products.But building trust is a big challenge for new medical cannabis businesses. That’s where good design can help:“While a lot of trust comes from past performance and a brand’s track-record, it also comes from the design. How a website, poster or package looks can impact how users feel about it and whether they take the leap from casual looker to brand loyalist.”

For a cannabis health supplement business, the product packaging design is one of the most important ways to reassure consumers and build trust.

When a prospective customer first sees your product, they see the packaging before they can touch or see the product. Good product packaging can raise concerns or instill comfort and confidence in a potential buyer.

If you don’t get your package design right, people might simply ignore your cannabis products.

So, let’s take a look at what your business can do to create great product packaging designs that will win over the skeptics and gain customers.

Include the Right Content On Product Packaging

Designing packaging that inspires trust starts with including the right content.

Start by telling people exactly what’s inside your packaging. For example, specify what your product is (CBD Extract Oil vs. Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil Caplets), how much of it there is, a production lot number and a potency level.

Include any qualifiers that may reassure your customers – such as “Organic,” “Non-GMO” or “CO2-Extracted.”

Image courtesy of Kannabia Seed Company

Communicate this information in clean, concise language that shows you have nothing to hide. And, speaking of not hiding – include contact information for your business. Many businesses bury their contact info on their websites and packaging. Don’t do that.

People trust businesses that are transparent and easy to reach. Customers want to know that if they have a question or something goes awry with an order that they can get help.

Including your web address, support email and phone number is a powerful way to reassure clients that your business is legitimate and trustworthy.

And, no packaging is complete without branding elements to help customers identify who your business is and what you’re about. This should include your company’s logo, identifying brand colors and any other small visual elements your brand may use.

Finally, make sure to follow the FDA guidelines for dietary supplement labels.

Your content checklist for product packaging

  • Include the essential details
    • What’s inside?
    • How much?
    • What’s the potency and dosage?
    • When does it expire?
    • What’s the lot number?
  • Include reassuring qualifiers that your audience will value
    • Organic, CO2-Extracted, Full Spectrum, Contains Less Than 0.3% THC, etc.
  • Include your company’s contact info
    • Web Address
    • Customer Support Email
    • Customer Support Phone number
  • Include your visual branding elements
    • Logo
    • Tagline
    • Brand Colors
    • Small branded graphic elements

Keep the Packaging Design Simple

Clean, simple design is reassuring and inspires trust.

Image courtesy of Receptra Naturals

That’s because simple design makes it easy for customers to find what they need or want to know.

It’s easy to miss information in a cluttered design – and people know this.

People naturally mistrust the dense chunks of text at the bottom of many advertisements and product packages. On the other hand, clean, easy-to-read fonts and plenty of white space ensure that your audience can read your product packaging and find the information they want quickly without too much trouble.

With fewer words and graphics competing for attention, the important stuff naturally stands out. And, a simple design also sends the message that there are no hidden loopholes or secrets that may work against your customers.

Keep the Design Of Your Product Packaging Professional

It doesn’t matter how great your product is if your business comes across as unprofessional. And, for medical cannabis businesses, the bar for establishing professionalism is even higher than for most companies.

Keep these tips in mind to communicate professionalism and reliability.

Image courtesy of Sagely Naturals

Make sure your packaging is error-free

Mistakes don’t look professional. How many times have you wondered how an error could have passed through so many hands unnoticed that it made it onto the final version?

Consumers notice errors in your packaging design. They see typos and often, discover incorrect or misleading information. Errors make customers think that your business is incompetent. Or worse – they might think that your business is deliberately misleading them. Make sure you proof-read everything before your packaging goes to production.

Showcase Your Cannabis Products Well Against Competitors

People buying your cannabis products will have other options. Don’t ignore your competition and be sure to understand how other dietary supplements and medicine is packaged.

Want to build trust by encouraging consumers to group your CBD products with other trusted medical brands? Follow these tips:

  • Provide a list of ingredients and instructions for safe dosing and usage. People expect this from reputable medicinal brands. Your product packaging should dothis too. And, remember to follow the FDA’s labeling requirements for dietary supplements.
  • Incorporate a safety seal into your packaging design. You’ll notice that most medicines, vitamins, and supplements have a safety seal to protect the contents. Whether you opt for a shrink-wrapped seal over the lid or a foil seal under the cap, adding a safety seal shows that your product has not been tampered with and implies that it’s safe to use.

Incorporating these elements will create a mental link between your product and other trusted medicinal products.

Be authentic to your cannabis brand

Last, but not least, your packaging design must align with your brand. When consumers sense a disconnect between the brand identity they’ve come to identify with your business and the packaging design for your products, it creates discomfort.

Image courtesy of Direct Cannabis Network

But packaging that is in line with (or expands upon) the brand identity consumers have come to know will create comfort and trust.

Kevin Keating at PKG Brand Design explains:

Your brand’s packaging design must reflect your company’s story, product, and values. If your packaging claims a “simple” snack product with dozens of ingredients, consumers are going to be left with a disingenuous feeling about your products and company. By ensuring that your messaging, design, and visual impact is in line with your company and your consumer’s preferences, you can build instant trust.

So, ensure that your packaging design is consistent with your existing visual identity. This includes the name of your business or cannabis product, your cannabis business logo, website, and marketing design.

A united and cohesive visual brand presence looks professional and helps to build familiarity – which is key to developing trust. Ultimately, many people judge products based solely on the product packaging. That’s why it’s essential to make sure your product packaging sends the right message.

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What Do The Colors of Marijuana Mean?

Part of the magic of marijuana is the infinite variety of traits that can be exhibited by one species of plant. Cannabis plants can be tall and lanky or short and bushy depending on their genetic heritage. Marijuana can express myriad flavors to tempt the tastebuds and aromas to excite the nose. Cannabis leaves and flowers can also vary in hue, offering a full palette of marijuana colors to please the eye.

Colorful Marijuana

As young plants grow, most strains of cannabis are primarily green. Many shades of green are represented—from light lime-colored hues to greens so dark they are tinged with purple. As plants flower and begin to reach maturity, more colors can appear or become more pronounced in both leaves and buds. Several different factors can influence marijuana colors, including temperature, nutrient levels, the acidity or alkalinity of the soil or other growing medium, and the quality of the light. All of these variables can impact the expression and ratio of natural pigments produced by the plant, creating the different colors of marijuana.

The Colors Of Marijuana

Greens

Green is the predominant color of most flowering plants including cannabis because of the presence of chlorophyll, the pigment that absorbs sunlight (except the green wavelengths) to power the process of photosynthesis. Through photosynthesis, plants combine carbon dioxide and water to create sugars that fuel all biological functions. Often, plant tissues will have so much chlorophyll that its green color masks the presence of other pigments. But as summer turns to autumn, lower temperatures inhibit chlorophyll production, allowing the other pigments to emerge and produce colorful marijuana. A similar phenomenon can be observed in deciduous trees as their leaves change color and fall.

Cannabis strains that retain green as the dominant bud color include Green Crack, Green Haze, and Green Goblin.

Blues, Purples, Reds, and Pinks

Cannabis flowers that are purplish to shades of blue are generally high in a group of chemicals known as anthocyanins. More than 500 anthocyanins have been identified, with colors that can range from red to purple to blue depending on pH. Anthocyanins can produce colorful marijuana although they are generally not abundant in young plants but are produced as plants mature. They belong to the class of substances known as flavonoids and have antioxidant properties. Fruits and vegetables high in anthocyanins include blueberries, açaí, raspberries, blackberries, eggplant, and purple cabbage.

Purple strains of cannabis are very popular, including Granddaddy Purple, Purple Haze and Purple Urkle. Some strains such as Black Diesel and Vietnamese Black can be so high in anthocyanins that they are nearly ebony. Marijuana strains with blue-tinged buds include Blueberry, Blue Dream, and Blue Cheese. Red and pink varieties are relatively rare and include Red Poison, Red Dragon, Pink Panther, and others. Reddish leaves or buds can also be caused by a deficiency of phosphorous, an element vital to plant physiology.

Oranges and Yellows

Carotenoids are another group of pigments that can influence the colors of marijuana. They are created by plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria. Beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are among the more than 750 carotenoids have been identified. Some carotenoids in the diet, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin can be converted by the body into Vitamin A. Carotenoids are important for eye health and provide protection against blue light and macular degeneration. Carotenoids produce the yellow, orange, and red hues that are found in many plants including carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and tomatoes. Plants grown in alkaline soils with a pH of 5.0 or less can have a greater abundance of carotenoids.

Many flavonoids are also yellow and can influence the colors of marijuana. Nitrogen deficiencies during growth can also cause cannabis leaves and buds to appear yellowish.

Strains with orange or yellow flowers include Orange Bud, Lemon Kush, Grapefruit, Nectarine, and Olive Oyl. Many varieties of cannabis will have orange or red pistils, or hairs as they are commonly known.

White

Buds that have been grown and harvested to their maximum potential can be so covered with trichomes that they appear white or frosty. Trichomes are packed with cannabinoids and terpenes so these flowers can be quite potent. White Widow and White Rhino are two strains with a propensity to become encrusted with trichomes.

Marijuana Colors And Potency

Colorful marijuana can be attractive or even visually stunning, but other than white buds glistening with shiny trichomes, hue is usually not a reliable indicator of potency. But if you are consuming your bud orally in tinctures, oils, edibles, or capsules, you may be getting the nutritional benefits of carotenoids, anthocyanins, and other flavonoids. Anthocyanins have shown some activity at CB1 and CB2 receptor sites and may have a synergistic, or entourage, effect in conjunction with cannabinoids and terpenes.

But even if they don’t get you higher, different marijuana colors can add aesthetic appeal and a sense of adventure to your next bud purchase. Which color of the rainbow will you choose next?

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New Jersey Lawmakers Draft New and Improved Marijuana Legalization Bill

New Jersey could be moving toward a viable legalization bill. This week, local media sources received a copy of a new legalization measure that lawmakers think has a very good chance of passing. If the legislation is approved, New Jersey could soon implement some of the nation’s most progressive cannabis laws.

New Jersey’s New Legalization Bill

The foundation of the new bill is making it legal for adults 21 and older to purchase, possess, and consume small amounts of cannabis. Additionally, the bill explicitly calls for the creation of a robust commercial market.

This foundation is much like other states where weed is legal. But New Jersey’s newest bill also includes a number of features that could make legalization in the state relatively unique. Here are some highlights:

  • Low taxes: The new legalization bill calls for retail taxes around 10 percent. As pointed out by local news sources, this would be among the lowest in the nation. Previous iterations of a legalization bill called for taxes in the neighborhood of 15 to 25 percent.
  • Retail dispensaries: In many adult-use states, there have been awkward periods where it’s legal to possess and consume weed, but nowhere to legally buy it. But New Jersey’s bill is different. This one calls for a quick implementation of a retail market.
  • Smoking lounges: The new law would allow for special consumption areas. Essentially, a cannabis business could apply to have a consumption space separate from the dispensary portion of the business. Such businesses would need state and local approval.
  • Home delivery: The new bill calls for the creation of a home delivery system. This would allow a customer to purchase recreational cannabis and have their product delivered directly to their home.

Conscious Approach to Issuing Licenses

Along with the regulations stated above, the new bill calls for a relatively careful approach to issuing licenses to marijuana businesses. In particular, the bill sets aside a certain percentage of licenses for business owners from demographic groups that are often underserved and otherwise marginalized.

For starters, the bill stipulates that 25 percent of all business licenses be set aside for minority, women, and veteran applicants.

Similarly, the bill wants 10 percent of all licenses to be “micro-licenses.” These special licenses would go to small businesses. These business could operate like any other weed business, just at a smaller scale. These licenses would reportedly make it easier for small businesses to enter the market.

Additionally, the bill would favor applicants from “impact zones.” The new bill defines these zones as places that have a relatively high percentage of unemployment.

Expungement is Already in the Works

Finally, the state is continuing to explore ways for people to expunge older marijuana charges from their records. This idea has been pending for a while, though. And lawmakers confirmed to local sources that they are still working on a system for making expungements available.

If cannabis becomes legal in New Jersey, tons of people would have a criminal record for something that’s no longer a crime. To address this, lawmakers proposed letting people expunge cannabis crimes from their records.

Timeline for Legalization

New Jersey lawmakers are in the middle of a back-and-forth process on the legalization front. In June, Senator Nicholas Scutari introduced a legalization bill. This most recent measure sets out a number of changes to the legislation he brought forward.

It is unclear when this legalization bill will go into effect, as it’s not certain that it will actually pass. So far, lawmakers appear optimistic.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he hopes to see lawmakers vote on the bill as early as October. If that happens, and if the bill passes, it would likely take around a year before a full-scale retail system would be up and running.

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Canadian Cannabis Company Tilray to Export Products to United States

Tilray, a Canadian cannabis company, has received permission from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to export a medical marijuana drug to the United States for a clinical trial, the company announced Tuesday. The medication will be studied at the University of California San Diego to determine its usefulness treating essential tremor, a neurological disorder affecting millions of Americans.

Dr. Fatta Nahab, a neurologist and associate professor of neurosciences at the UCSD medical school, said receiving approval to import the drug from the Food and Drug Administration and DEA took months.

THC and CBD

The drug Tilray will export is a capsule with a formulation containing both THC and CBD. The medication will be studied at the UCSD Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research for its effect on essential tremor, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary movements of the body.

“This is an oral capsule formulation that has actual plant in it,” Nahab said. “It’s a purified, medical-grade formulation, and to my knowledge, that’s never been imported from Canada before.”

Nahab said that the quality of the medicine, which is derived directly from cannabis plants, makes it a good candidate for clinical research.

“We’ve got a set dosing, fixed, highly consistent, and so it’s really going to help us advance the field much more,” said Nahab.

Dr. Catherine Jacobson, Tilray’s director of clinical research in California, said importing a cannabis drug is an important milestone in furthering study into the medicinal applications of the plant.

“It’s quite significant,” she said.

Nahab said in a press release that researchers hoped their work would garner data needed to set parameters for the use of medical cannabis.

“It’s exciting to advance our work in this area by conducting a first-of-its kind trial of purified medicinal cannabis for a common neurological disorder like essential tremor,” said Nahab. “Until now patients have been on their own to figure out the efficacy, safety, and dosing of cannabinoids. This trial should help answer many of these critical questions.”

‘No Good Treatment’ for Neurological Disorder

Jacobson said that researchers thus far have been unable to find a medication that successfully controls involuntary body movement.

“There is no good treatment for essential tremor,” Jacobson said. “The ultimate goal, what we want to know, is we want to understand whether cannabinoids might be a good treatment.”

Jacobson added that there is “good scientific rationale” to study cannabis as a treatment for essential tremor because of strong anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness at improving the quality of life for patients.

The clinical study of 16 adult patients diagnosed with essential tremor will begin in 2019 and is expected to last one year. The clinical trial is supported by Tilray and the International Essential Tremor Foundation and is part of a larger effort to determine “how to target therapies for specific symptoms,” Jacobson said.

Tilray Stock Jumps

After the announcement that the company had received permission to export the drug to the United State, shares in Tilray, based in Nanaimo, B.C., were up sharply in trading on Tuesday. The company’s stock, which only began trading after an IPO at $17 per share in July, was hovering around $150 Tuesday afternoon, up nearly 25 percent from the previous day.

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A2LA Partners With ATACH

Last week, the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) and the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH) announced a new partnership agreement. This partnership is the first of its kind where a laboratory accreditation body and a cannabis trade organization work together under an MOU.

According to the press release, the two organizations hope to promote “foundational standards for quality control testing and regulatory guidelines that promote product safety.” Both organizations will advocate for the adoption of industry standards they deem appropriate for recreational and medical cannabis as well as hemp testing in the United States.

Michael Bronstein, executive director of ATACH, says there is an urgent need for open-source consensus standards and standard test methods for cannabis testing. “In an industry that lacks standard test methods and where testing is such a crucial part of the regulatory landscape, the need for open-source consensus standards is especially significant,” says Bronstein. “The development and adoption of standard test methods for cannabis testing is essential in ensuring consistency between laboratories, encouraging uniformity in state testing regulation, and providing a safe and consistent product to consumers.”

The press release also states that A2LA and ATACH seek to “develop regulation and adopt industry standards with goals of advancing and professionalizing the industry.”

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Tobacco vs. Weed: The Differences, Pros, and Cons

Weed and tobacco have long been considered sisters of smoke. Yet, time and significant increases in science and policy show differences between weed vs tobacco. According to a census conducted by the CDC in 2016, 37.8 million Americans over age 18 like to light up a cigarette. But compared to another census focused on marijuana, 19.8 million Americans over age 12 consume weed. Even still, as access to recreational and medicinal weed becomes more widespread, more and more Americans view weed as less harmful than tobacco. This acceptance of pot-use stands amidst a growing understanding of the effects of nicotine and tobacco on the body. But in the showdown of tobacco vs weed, Americans are making it clearer which contender may win the hearts and lungs of its fans.

Weed vs Tobacco: The Body Battleground

The heart and lungs stand as a battleground for weed and tobacco. Compared to its whacky cousin, tobacco seems to hold higher risks for the body. In fact, smoking tobacco may permanently damage DNA. As if that weren’t enough to kick the nicotine habit, smoking tobacco may cause the development of lung cancer. Yet weed, lacking the carcinogens linked with nicotine in tobacco smoke, may not. As of 2005, tobacco smoking has been associated with over 400,000 deaths yearly in the US. Compare tobacco vs weed, and it seems weed only produces smoke-induced cellular damage.

So while weed may still hurt your lungs, the methods of consumption are much more diverse. Instead of restricting yourself to just smoking flowers, try out vaping, edibles, topicals, pills—all likely to take less of a toll on the lung and other bodily functions. Furthermore, smoking weed may enhance the functionality and capacity of the lung because air flow rate increases with weed smokers who hold in their smoke.

But when it comes down to the heart of it, smoking weed and tobacco may share similarities. Each has a responsibility for raising your heart rate, which could make the body more susceptible to a heart attack. Even still, as science grows to learn more about weed and tobacco, we learn benefits of weed for the cardiovascular system, even reducing the risk of heart disease.

Weed for Health and Wellness

Still, the modern era shows the health benefits of marijuana. And because of the many ways you can consume it, smoking may not have to put your lungs or heart at risk. In fact, marijuana can help to alleviate pain and symptoms of many conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis, PTSD, and cancer. It can reverse tobacco-caused ischemia. To top it off, weed trumps tobacco by helping people other mental illnesses, such as eating or gambling disorders, bipolar disorder, and addiction itself. In fact, smoking weed may help reduce tobacco addiction! Less addictive as a drug itself than tobacco, weed has even received attention as a possible treatment for opioid addiction, a grueling problem affecting many Americans.

As more people embrace weed in the choice between tobacco vs weed, they also turn to healthier options like vaping. In doing so, they enable themselves to kick the cancer stick habit.

Tobacco Vs Weed: The Legal Upper Hand

Still, the federal law prohibits the consumption of marijuana while tobacco stays legal. This difference has made weed’s importance and potential harder to define until recent years. Before the current era of recreational and medicinal weed, its value was hearsay not backed by science. For that reason, marijuana still raises issues for many people to purchase than tobacco. In areas where the herb hasn’t been decriminalized, a person may not have an option in weed vs tobacco.

Still, while lawmakers are trying to work to at least decriminalize weed, tobacco sits on shelves at every convenience store and gas station. And even if somewhere weed can be purchased legally, you sacrifice some major civil rights. But hey, no matter what state you smoke tobacco or weed, your landlord may regulate you even more than the government.

Investments in Weed and Tobacco

Recently, investments in the cannabis market have exploded. Even analysts for Wall street see the US cannabis market reaching at least $47 billion within the next decade. Even tobacco companies notice the appeal of the cannabis market. As trends change, companies like Philip Morris noticed a 16% decrease plunge in their shares. So, jumping on the bandwagon, Philip Morris has bought patents for marijuana plants. And the investment is a clear sign of the positive potential in the future of weed.

The Budding Best

Though weed may not be legal everywhere you can pick up cigarettes, its benefits seem to far outweigh tobacco’s. Though each present their own issues for the body, weed clearly pushes out its competitor with its potential health benefits as scientific knowledge grows. Even still, if you smoke weed, you likely may also enjoy tobacco, according to a study. And if trying to quit smoking tobacco, likely you may feel pulled back into the habit if you enjoy cannabis. In the end, choosing between weed vs tobacco may end with you as a user of both.

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Louisiana Lifts Limit on Number of Medical Marijuana Patients Doctors May Treat

Louisiana legalized medical cannabis in 2015, and since, legislative changes, revisions and other modifications have slowed the law’s rollout. But this November, medical cannabis sales will likely begin throughout the state. The problem, however, is how few patients will have access to a doctor who can provide the recommendation they’ll need to enter one of those dispensaries. As of today, Louisiana has just 31 physicians licensed to recommend medical cannabis treatments.

Recognizing the shortfall, Louisiana’s Board of Medical Examiners have taken a major step to make it easier for doctors to issue those recommendations. During a meeting in New Orleans today, the board voted to lift the patient-limit cap it had placed on licensed doctors.

Louisiana Lifts Follow-Up Requirements and Patient Cap on Recommending Physicians

Prior to today’s 8-1 vote, the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners had set a limit on the number of medical cannabis patients a recommending physician could take on. The cap was set at 100 patients in 2016. If it were still in effect, it’s likely Louisiana’s medical cannabis program would only be able to serve 4,000 patients at most by November. A much smaller number than the 100,000 patients expected to enroll in the program, officials say.

Recently, however, lawmakers recognized the need to lift the patient cap. And the need has become even more pressing with so few physicians enrolling in the program. The state also added more qualifying conditions earlier this summer, which will likely draw more patients to seek medical cannabis recommendations.

So the vote to remove the patient cap is an important one. And it completely removes any limit or restriction on the number of medical cannabis patients a physician can work with. But that wasn’t the only access barrier the board voted to eliminate today. In a much closer 5-4 vote, the board also eliminated follow-up requirements for patients and their doctors. Previously, patients had to see their doctor after 90-days of treatment in order to be eligible for a renewal.

Medical Cannabis Groups Plan Campaign to Educate Louisiana Doctors About Cannabis

Removing the patient cap is only part of the equation, however. The other part is bringing more doctors into the field. But Louisiana’s young medical cannabis program doesn’t seem to have caught on with doctors yet. Just 48 have even applied. 

As a result, many rural residents have no local access to a medical cannabis recommendation. To address the issue, Louisiana’s medical cannabis industry is taking the lead. GB Sciences is working on outreach and education programs to encourage more participation among Louisiana doctors.

The Louisiana State University AgCenter, which offers students industry-focused programs, is partnering with GB and the State Board of Medical Examiners to schedule informational meetings with doctors’ groups to create online resources.

In the meantime, lawmakers, physicians, and the industry are celebrating the board’s vote to remove the patient cap and follow-up requirements. Dr. Les Johnson, a board member, described it as “an historic moment for our state.”

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