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Inside Cannabis

Inside Cannabis (Mar 20th, 2018)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is asking House leaders to protect medical cannabis. Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy that prevented the federal government from deploying fund to crack down on cannabis businesses and consumers in states with legal policies. Now, 62 members of Congress are calling for the policy to be put back in place, and for the federal government to stay out of state-legal medical cannabis. – FORBES

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The financial crisis helped boost the cannabis industry. As Wall Street collapsed in 2008 and 2009, investment bankers like Derek Peterson began looking for lucrative opportunities in other industries. Discovering that dispensaries were bringing in sales of more than $4,000 per square foot, a rate higher than any U.S. retailer but Apple, and more than 12 times the average $325 per square foot among all companies in the sector, he decided he had to get involved. Now, powering the expansion of the cannabis industry ten years later are former Wall Street executives like Peterson that hail from such staid firms as BlackRock Inc, Goldman Sachs, and Prudential Financial, all of whom say that they might not have ever left traditional finance if not for the lingering damage of the 2008 crisis. – REUTERS

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There are still significant hurdles in marketing cannabis. Though widespread legalization means new opportunities are opening up for brands and sellers to market cannabis to a bigger audience, tech and advertising platforms are still closed for business. Facebook, Instagram and Google have all cracked down on allowing marijuana brands to run advertising, even in the states where weed is legal. That's forcing companies to ditch digital ads, go for in-store experiences, and building brand loyalty. – ADWEEK

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A study has found that Colorado cannabis workers are happy, but need better safety training. Occupational health researchers at Colorado State University completed a first-of-its-kind, peer-reviewed study that examines the demographics, physical environment and psychosocial aspects of working in the legal cannabis trade. The results found that workers were generally job-secure and valued safety. But, they also regularly consumed cannabis, expressed low concerns about workplace hazards and reported occupational injuries and exposures. – COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY

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Researchers have yet to figure out how to test cannabis for many contaminants. Conventional testing facilities have stayed away from cannabis due to federal prohibition, and an ad hoc industry of cannabis-specific testing labs has emerged. States often regulate testing labs in other settings, such as drinking water, but do not rigorously monitor the cannabis testing industry. That means testing labs in states with legal policies are not yet using uniform standards, and don't know yet how to test for things as potentially detrimental as E. coli. – WAPO

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Top alcohol companies are reportedly 'eyeing cannabis.' Torsten Kuenzlen, a former executive for The Coca-Cola Co. and Molson Coors, told Marijuana Business Daily that, in his opinion, legal cannabis has an obvious competitive advantage over alcohol products, and alcohol companies are checking out the burgeoning industry. "We know that virtually all alcohol companies are very carefully looking at the cannabis space and looking to partner in some shape or form," he said. – MJ BIZ DAILY

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In conservative Texas, cannabis entrepreneurs are prepping for a green rush. Cannabis is still illegal in Texas, but as the drug goes mainstream state by state, cannabis entrepreneur hopefuls are laying the groundwork for a time when the industry comes to the Lone Star State. But it's not easy. "Along with the typical challenges of any business, companies that work in the cannabis industry in Texas must navigate conflicting state and federal laws, risk backlash from banks and state agencies, and overcome the stigma of selling a product that some consider dangerous or taboo." – HOUSTON PUBLIC MEDIA

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Canada's former mining, oil and gas companies are striking gold with cannabis. In all, almost half of the country’s cannabis firms started out in the resource sector before converting to cannabis via reverse takeovers and spinoffs. But now there's concern that investor optimism is too high, and the "pile-on" effect will hurt the industry. – BLOOMBERG

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Gene Simmons of KISS fame has signed on as CEO (Chief Evangelist Officer) of a weed company. Simmons is known for being an anti-drug advocate, but has nonetheless signed on to helm the branding and merchandising of publicly traded Canadian cannabis company, Invictus. “Values and family are very important to me, and when I first connected with Dan at Invictus, I understood immediately that we enjoyed a shared passion for these key life foundations,” Simmons said. “Instead of launching straight into business, we talked about the things that matter the most.” – CALGARY SUN

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Early science indicates that secondhand cannabis smoke could be harmful. A researcher that studies the effects of secondhand tobacco smoke began testing cannabis smoke on rats. He found that secondhand smoke makes it harder for the rats' arteries to expand and allow a healthy flow of blood. With tobacco, this lasts about 30 minutes before the arteries recover their normal function. But if it happens over and over the arterial walls can become permanently damaged, and that damage can cause blood clots, heart attack or stroke. In rats, the same physiological effect occurs after inhaling secondhand smoke from cannabis, and the arteries take 90 minutes to recover compared to the 30 minutes with cigarette smoke. – NPR

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Humboldt County, the heart of California’s cannabis black market, is facing a reckoning with legalization. The massive industry, which has never been regulated, is being tamed by laws and taxation. Nowhere is this process upending a culture and economy more than here in Humboldt, where tens of thousands of people who have been breaking the law for years are being asked to hire accountants, tax lawyers and declare themselves to a government they have famously distrusted. Fewer than one in 10 of the county’s estimated 12,500 marijuana farmers are likely to make it in the legal trade. – WAPO

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Walmart and other national retailers may do business with a cannabis company. Denver-based American Cannabis Company, which produces ancillary products designed specifically for the cannabis industry, has struck a distribution deal with a handful of national retailers, including Walmart, Home Depot and Amazon. The distribution agreement will bring two cannabis cultivation products to the mainstream marketplace, a sign that big business is getting comfortable with weed. – FORBES

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A cannabis soda company wants to replace booze. California Dreamin’ is serving up an alcohol alternative that doesn't come with health issues or a hangover. Instead, the beverages give a "light, social high" from each bottle's 10 milligrams of THC, an industry-standard dose. “We want it to be a light, head high feel,” said co-founder Amy Ludlum. “We don’t want to give anyone couch lock. We want it to be social.” – TECHCRUNCH

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