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Inside Cannabis

Inside Cannabis (Jan 9th, 2018)

Where do cannabis businesses go when banks say no? In Colorado, one small credit union is solving the industry's massive cash problem by offering checking accounts expressly for the cannabis industry. The service is in direct violation of federal law, which prohibits entities with federal ties (i.e. banks) to do business with the industry. But the founder of the union has created "a sophisticated process to match deposits and withdrawals to marijuana transactions that are legal in the state" in order to keep the operation as above water as possible. – NYT

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The first week of 2018 saw a number of deals in Canada’s cannabis industry. This is the year recreational cannabis is set to be legalized across the nation in Canada, and those in the industry are gearing up with mergers and acquisitions, including a $55-million deal from Canada's largest cannabis operator, Aurora Cannabis, to buy a stake in The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. Aurora is also in the process of making deals with two other cannabis companies, CanniMed and Newstrike. – FINANCIAL POST

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Sessions' new cannabis policy makes prosecution for pot a game of luck. Because Sessions left the decision for how to prosecute cannabis users and cultivators up to state and local governments, who gets in trouble and who doesn't is a crapshoot. That, in turn, undermines the rule of law itself, which thrives on regularity, predictability, and treating situations and people alike. – BLOOMBERG

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Legalization is already hurting California's small farmers. In the wake of the recreational market, mom-and-pop growers are up against a confluence of factors pushing them out of the industry: federal prohibition increasingly backed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, conflicting state and local regulations, big business competition, black market competition and a tricky relationship to the law enforcement they need for protection.  – ROLLING STONE

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California officials pulled an anti-stoned driving ad after critics said it glorified and promoted cannabis use. The majority of the ad featured people talking about why they consume cannabis and closed with them saying they never drive while high, and “DUI doesn’t just mean booze.” Officials pulled the ad, which will be replaced with a different one produced last year that warns that smoking cannabis, unlike cigarettes, can result in charges for driving under the influence. – LEAFLY

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Sessions' move to crack down on cannabis could slow investment in the industry, but analysts doubt it will have a long-term impact. The initial announcement immediately spurred a cannabis stock sell-off, and large investors like banks and pension funds are likely to steer clear, but 420 Investor—a Houston-based firm that advises interested cannabis investors—says this opens the door for smaller investors who can handle the uncertainty. – MJ BIZ DAILY

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The cannabis industry is getting an academic makeover. Now that the industry is poised to be a big business, schools are taking it seriously. Northern Michigan University is the first to offer a dedicated four-year science of cannabis course, which already has 50 students. Another 500 students are looking to enroll. – THE TELEGRAPH

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Meet the cannabis industry innovators growing a billion dollar industry. Investor and entrepreneur Benjamin Bronfman, consultant Andrew Freedman, delivery service founder David Hua, and attorney Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho discuss overcoming obstacles, seizing opportunities, and rallying a community in the burgeoning industry. – FAST CO

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In the wake of the wildfires, Northern California growers are having a hard time getting back on their feet. The fires burned thousands of acres and nearly 6,000 structures in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, which are heavily populated with cannabis growers. At least 34 pot farms were destroyed in the fire, which swept through right before harvest and months before legalization took effect, and other crops were damaged by the smoke. Now, due to the legal gray area of cannabis, these growers are not eligible for federal aid or local fundraising funds. – PACIFIC STANDARD

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