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Week in Review: Pennsylvania flower sales, Oregon’s cannabis surplus & MassRoots’ big losses

Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis dispensaries get the OK to sell flower for vaping, Oregon’s marijuana glut is hurting the state’s smaller growers, and MassRoots reveals that its losses widened to $44 million in 2017.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Positive in Pennsylvania

The announcement that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana dispensaries can sell dry leaf and flower for vaping is good news for the industry’s bottom line, according to a Keystone State MMJ business owner who is trying to build her company.

Corinne Ogrodnik, the CEO and co-founder of Pittsburgh-based Maitri Medicinals, said the allowance of flower will bring more patients into the program and help grow a market that could become one of the nation’s largest.

“It will be a more affordable product because we won’t have to be utilizing the equipment to process the flower and leaf into concentrates,” she said. “It will also require less intensive packaging.”

Ogrodnik also is hopeful that being able to offer flower will help her business get off the ground.

The restraints on Pennsylvania’s MMJ business owners make it a capital-intensive process, including costs for:

  • Renovating properties
  • Security
  • Medical staff

“We were looking at a few years of lean times,” Ogrodnik said, “and (flower) is really going to enable us to fully implement our business plan with the anticipation of how the market is going to expand.”

Other medical marijuana markets that allow flower for vaping require the dry plant material to be offered in a prepackaged vaping device.

Ogrodnik said it’s unclear how Pennsylvania will regulate the sale and consumption of dry leaf and flower.

She hopes dispensaries will be able to sell whole flower, rather than prepackaged or preground plant matter, and patients are allowed to decide how they will vaporize it.

No matter how it plays out, Ogrodnik believes the program is moving in the right direction.

“It demonstrates that the Department of Health supports this program working, which then translates to the viability of our business,” she added.

 

Read the full article HERE.

John Boehner Joins Marijuana Firm Advisory Board, Says Views on Cannabis Have ‘Evolved’

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld also joined the Acreage Holdings board

Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday that he has joined the advisory board of a marijuana firm, saying that his “thinking on cannabis has evolved.”

In a joint statement with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who is also joining the Acreage Holdings board, Boehner said it was time for “serious considerations of a shift in federal marijuana policy.”

“While the Tenth Amendment has allowed much to occur at the state level, there are still many negative implications of the Federal policy to schedule cannabis as a Class 1 drug: most notably the lack of research, the ambiguity around financial services and the refusal of the VA to offer it as an alternative to the harmful opioids that are ravishing our communities,” the statement read.

Acreage, a New York City-based company that owns marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries in 11 U.S. states, said the addition of Boehner and Weld to the board will help shift the conversation on legalization “overnight.”

“These men have shaped the political course of our country for decades and now they will help shape the course of this nascent but ascendant industry,” Acreage CEO Kevin Murphy said in a news release.

The move marks a significant shift for the former congressman, who had previously said he was “unalterably opposed” to legalization. Boehner, a Republican, represented Ohio’s 8th congressional district from 1990 to 2015 and served as speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015.

Weld, on the other hand, said he has been in favor of medical marijuana since 1992 and supported the 2016 referendum that legalized recreational pot use in his home state. Weld, 72, was governor from 1991 to 1997.

Boehner, 69, told Bloomberg in an interview published Wednesday that his views on marijuana changed after seeing cannabis helped a friend cope with debilitating back pain.

He says he believes legalizing marijuana can be helpful to the nation’s veterans and as a way to help fight the U.S. opioid drug crisis. He wants to see federally funded research done and to allow Veterans Affairs to offer marijuana as a treatment option.

“We need to look no further than our nation’s 20 million veterans, 20 percent of whom, according to a 2017 American Legion survey, reportedly use cannabis to self-treat PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments,” Boehner said. “Yet the VA does not allow its doctors to recommend its usage. There are numerous other patient groups in America whose quality of life has been dramatically improved by the state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis.”

Read the full article HERE

Legal marijuana could soon be a bigger market than soda

By:  
  • Legal marijuana is set to hit $75 billion in sales by 2030, according to a note from analysts at the investment bank Cowen.
  • Weed is already putting pressure on alcohol sales. In states that have legalized marijuana, binge drinking rates are declining.
  • The market for marijuana could eventually eclipse soda sales.

Cannabis could soon become a bigger industry than soda, and it has already started putting pressure on alcohol sales.

If marijuana is made legal nationwide in the US by 2030, the legal weed industry could generate $75 billion in sales by that year, according to a new note from the investment bank Cowen.

Cowen’s cannabis sector analyst, Vivien Azer, revised her previous estimate up by $25 billion. Legal marijuana sales are already around $50 billion, Azer said in the note.

Soda consumption, on the other hand, is declining. Per capita consumption fell to a 31-year low in the US in 2016, Bloomberg reports, with $76.4 billion in sales in 2017.

Legal marijuana is already starting to impact alcohol sales as well.

In states that have legalized cannabis, binge-drinking rates have fallen 9% below the national average, and 11% below states that don’t allow the sale of recreational marijuana, according to the note. Adults in states with legal cannabis binge drink an average of 13% fewer times per month than those in states without legal recreational marijuana.

“This work builds on our prior assertions that cannabis acts as a substitute social lubricant for consumers,” Azer said in the note.

“As cannabis access expands, we expect further pressure on alcohol sales, given this notable divide in consumer consumption pattern,” she added.

The cannabis market is still far behind alcohol, however. Sales of alcohol hit $210 billion in 2017, according to the note.

 

Read the full article HERE

Philadelphia considers opening site for heroin users to shoot up safely

By JERICKA DUNCAN

PHILADELPHIA  In just six years, the number of deaths year from opioid overdoses in the U.S. has doubled to more than 42,000. The crisis spurred the surgeon general on Thursday to encourage more people to carry an antidote to reverse overdoses.

In Philadelphia, the nation’s fifth largest city, the opioid epidemic is so bad that city officials are now taking extreme measures to save lives. They want to give addicts a safe place to get high.

One 30-year-old woman who goes by Rachel has been getting high for the past 13 years.

“I’m actually trying to get a detox so I don’t want my habit to take control,” she said.

She’s a mother of two. But her desire to care for her kids, she says, isn’t strong enough to pull her from under a sheet of darkness and away from her body’s call for heroin.

Last year, 1,200 people died of a drug overdose in Philadelphia, a number that’s quadrupled in the past five years. To address that, Philadelphia is moving to become one of the first cities in the nation to allow safe injection sites, where people can go and shoot up heroin under the supervision of healthcare workers. It’s part of a new approach to tackle the opioid crisis by treating it as a public health issue.

The sites could end up in one neighborhood, known as Kensington, an area where you can see addicts sticking themselves with needles filled with drugs and living in encampments.

“In all the years I’ve been covering marginalized communities like this one here in Kensington, I’ve never seen anything close to this level of desperation,” said Christopher Moraff, a freelance journalist who has been covering the opioid epidemic.

At a public hearing that took place Wednesday night, those who opposed an injection site in their neighborhood explained why.

“When you say this is best for saving lives you’re not including our lives,” said one person. “You’re not thinking about me and what I experienced growing up and you’re not thinking about my children who will be exposed to this as long as we live.”

“We have a crisis here in Philadelphia,” said Dr. Tom Farley, Philadelphia Health Commissioner. “These facilities look sort of like a clinic. If they’re simply there to inject, they bring in their own drugs that they have bought on the street, they’re given sterile equipment and they inject at the site. If they were to overdose on site, there are medical staff on site who can revive them.”

 

Read the full article HERE

Poll: 44% Oppose Legalizing Marijuana In NJ; One In Four Would Try Or Use It

By Brandon Longo

GALLOWAY, N.J. (CBS) – A new Stockton University poll reveals that New Jerseyans are split when it comes to legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

The university polled 728 adults who live in New Jersey asking them where they stand on the issue.

Forty-nine percent of those polled said they support legalizing pot for recreational purposes.

Currently, medical marijuana is only legal in the Garden State.

According to the study, 44 percent oppose legalization, with roughly 5 percent unsure.

“These poll results suggest there is not a consensus in New Jersey on whether marijuana should be made legal,” said Michael W. Klein, interim executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton.

Stockton says 75 percent of those poll stated that they don’t currently use marijuana and would not do so even if it was legal.

But, roughly one in four participants (15 percent) said that although they do not use the drug, they would try it if it were legal.

Younger adults and men are more likely to support legalization, the study shows.

Sixty-four percent of respondents younger than age 50 support legalization, compared to 41 percent of age 50 and older. Among men, 56 percent support legalizing marijuana, while only 44 percent of women do.

Read the full article HERE

Pennsylvania medical marijuana businesses may soon sell flower for vaping

Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis board has recommended allowing the sale of flower for vaping.

All that stands in the way of MMJ flower sales is a go-ahead from the state’s secretary of health, according to Triblive.com.

Adding flower to the list of available products should boost the bottom line of Pennsylvania’s cannabis companies.

Flower is one of the most affordable and commonly purchased forms of cannabis.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The board voted 11-0 to allow “dry leaf or plant form for administration by vaporization.” One member abstained.
  • Pennsylvania’s MMJ businesses currently can sell only oil, pills, tinctures or concentrate for vaping as well as ointments.
  • As of April 6, more than 25,000 MMJ patients were signed up to purchase medical cannabis, and 914 doctors were registered to recommend medical cannabis.
  • The advisory board is also expected to vote on whether to add terminal illness and palliative care to the list of medical conditions that can be treated with MMJ.

Read the full article HERE

Pennsylvania Green Lights Medical Cannabis Program Expansion

There have been issues with launching the medical cannabis program in the state of Pennsylvania, including dispensaries experiencing a shortage of available product for patients. Despite this, the State Department of Health recently announced it would be accepting more applications for new dispensaries and growing operations in April of this year.

According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, 13 permits will be up for grabs for growers and processors, while 23 will be available for dispensaries. In addition to the permits for dispensaries and grow-ops, the expansion of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program will include issuing permits to ‘clinical registrants’ for medical schools and hospitals who are interested in doing tests and much-needed research on the plant medicine.

One of those schools will likely be Thomas Jefferson University, who say they want to become an “academic clinical research center”. In 2017, Thomas Jefferson University received a donation of $3 million from Australian philanthropists Barry and Joy Lambert. The University used this donation to found the Lambert Center for the Study of Medical Cannabis and Hemp.

“This could really put Pennsylvania into the forefront of this whole controversial and challenging area,” Dr. Charles Pollack, director of the Lambert Center, told NBC10 after the university received the donation.

There are several other schools that are eager to run clinical tests on cannabis, including the University of Pittsburgh.

“We believe that the research will be of great importance in determining the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis products in treating specific diseases,” the University of Pittsburgh said in a statement.

Even though the Keystone State’s medical cannabis program is relatively restricted in comparison to that of other states, it is the only one that has introduced research elements. Ohio and Florida have both discussed research components in their programs, but there has not been any laws on the books as of yet.

Read the full article HERE.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Expands Medical Marijuana Program

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced a long list of reforms Tuesday morning, including lowering fees for patients and caregivers, adding five approved medical conditions and proposing legislation to increase monthly product limit for patients.

A renaissance is coming to New Jersey’s long-embattled medical marijuana program.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced a long list of reforms Tuesday morning, including lowering fees for patients and caregivers, adding five approved medical conditions and proposing legislation to increase monthly product limit for patients.

Patients receiving hospice care would be eligible for an unlimited supply of cannabis.

“We are changing the restrictive culture of our medical marijuana program,” he said. “Some of these changes will take time, but we are committed to getting it done for all New Jersey residents who can be helped by access to medical marijuana.”

Effective immediately, patients suffering from anxiety, migraines, Tourette’s syndrome, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, and chronic visceral pain will be eligible for the pot program.

The registration fee is also being lowered from $200 to $100 as of Tuesday. Veterans and people 65 years and older will be eligible for a $20 discount.

The governor is also allowing doctors who prescribe marijuana not to appear on a public registry. Murphy says there was a sense that doctors who prescribed the drug faced a stigma.

Murphy’s decision comes roughly a decade after the state implemented its medical marijuana program, enacted under Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, but slowly implemented under Republican Chris Christie, who had a skeptical view of marijuana.

In January, Murphy signed an executive order calling on the New Jersey Department of Health to review the existing program. Almost exactly two months later, the department’s recommendations are now being implemented, Murphy said.

The announcement comes as the new governor pushes for legalized recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

“We will have a program that is compassionate, progressive and, at long last, meets the needs of patients,” he said. “We’re going to make it easier for patients.”

Murphy added that he would like to eventually see opioid addiction added to the growing list of approved conditions. He called cannabis “an offensive weapon” to the growing crisis.

Read the full article HERE.

How Jefferson Health birthed the nation’s first major marijuana research program

by Sam Wood

The medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania is about to enter unprecedented territory as it embarks on the nation’s first state-sanctioned research program.

 Medical schools will partner with marijuana companies. The med schools will design research studies. The companies, which will grow cannabis and sell it at their dispensaries, will enlist patients for the studies. The companies will collect patient data to be analyzed by the medical schools.

Unlike traditional drug studies, which provide experimental medicines at no cost, patients will buy the drug under investigation.

 “It’s not a normal pharmaceutical research structure by any means,” said Eric Hagarty, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Wolf. “The conflict with federal law is primarily the reason for that.”

The federal government considers all forms of marijuana to be illegal.

Backers say the program’s research arm is unique in the U.S. and could make the state a global hub for cannabis science. Philadelphia may host up to five academic centers investigating applications for the drug.

Enabling this to happen is a provision of the marijuana law many call the “Jefferson Amendment.”

Nicknamed after Philadelphia’s Jefferson Health system, which was instrumental in the law’s creation, the Jefferson Amendment is officially known as Chapter 20 of the state’s medical marijuana act. It allows as many as eight health systems to each pair with a private company. A health system, under the law, is defined as a medical school with an acute-care hospital.

 In language only a bureaucrat could love, the law calls the medical schools “Academic Clinical Research Centers” (ACRCs) and deems the marijuana companies “Clinical Registrants” (CRs).

“The whole goal is to bring research and sophistication to cannabis that doesn’t exist in the rest of the state or the country,” said James Connolly, a former vice president at drug maker Wyeth. Connolly will head Solterra Care, LLC, the CR affiliated with Jefferson. “It will put us on the map if Philadelphia has three, four or five research centers and brings some credibility to the industry.”

Drexel, Temple, and the University of Pennsylvania are each expected to participate as research centers. Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine is also angling to get in, though the school lacks a hospital on campus.

The state Department of Health will begin accepting applications on April 5.

 

 

Read the full article HERE