Inside Cannabis - July 30th, 2019

Inside Cannabis (Jul 30th, 2019)

CannTrust CEO Out $8 Million / Pot Reduces Pill Use / Harborside Hires Crisis Firm

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1. The fired CannTrust CEO has been stripped of $8.2 million in stock options. That figure is in Canadian dollars (the sum is $6 million in U.S. dollars), but disgraced and fired CannTrust CEO Peter Aceto has been stripped of his stock options after last week’s revelation that he knew the company was operating unlicensed grow facilities. Aceto had one of the gaudiest compensation packages in the Canadian marijuana industry, but his firing with cause means he’ll be stripped of his shares. That said, CannTrust shares are badly underwater and trading at just over $2, after soaring over $10 a share four months ago. — FINANCIAL POST

2. A new study has found that cannabis use reduces dependency on prescription pills and alcohol. The report from USA Today and their analytics arm LOCALiQ is only available via email, but Leafly jumped through the necessary hoops to obtain and summarize the data. The survey of 21 legal and medical states found that 49 percent of cannabis users reported reduced over-the-counter painkiller use, 52 percent said they’d reduced their prescription drug use, and 37 percent reported drinking less alcohol. Surprisingly, the report also found that baby boomers (ages 55-75) spent the most money on average at dispensaries. — LEAFLY

3. Harborside has brought in a crisis PR firm as its stock continues to tumble. Well-known California dispensary chain Harborside went public on the Canadian stock exchange on June 10, and has had a terrible run and currently trading at around half of its initial price. On Monday they put out a press release saying they were “pleased to announce” they’d retained Mattio Communications to handle communications with shareholders, which they were probably not pleased to announce at all. Harborside CEO Andrew Berman puts the lie to his own press release by admitting in it that “I share the frustration and disappointment at our share price performance,” and “I want to assure everyone that Harborside management is working diligently to execute on our strategic plan.” — YAHOO FINANCE

4. Dispensary mega-chain Cresco is rebranding as the more upscale “Sunnyside.” Yet another dispensary redesigns with the stated goal of looking like an “Apple Store,” but this one is one of the biggest chains in the U.S. With 56 storefront licenses in nine states, Cresco Labs is rebranding as Sunnyside, saying in a release that the new retail shops will make you “Think of a Whole Foods or Sephora … but for cannabis.” The reinvented company also put out a sixty-second commercial in which the word “cannabis” appears onscreen for a split-second, but otherwise resembles, well, an iPhone ad. — CHICAGO-SUN TIMES

5. Legal DACA immigrants are being denied entry into the U.S. for admitting marijuana use. A 26-year-old “dreamer” immigrant who’s married to a U.S. citizen returned to Mexico to fulfill green card requirements, and is now barred from re-entering America because he admitted to smoking pot. An immigration attorney notes that “It happens all the time.” — OC REGISTER

6. Idaho residents are flocking to a new dispensary at the Oregon border. Oregon dispensary Weedology opened Friday right at the Idaho-Oregon border, and hundreds of Idaho license plates were spotted in the parking lot. — IDAHO STATESMAN 

7. A Pennsylvania cultivator’s license has been revoked after plants “mysteriously disappeared.” One of 12 licensed growers in the Keystone State has shipped precisely no marijuana in two years of operation, and has lost its license because they can’t account for where it went. MJ BIZ DAILY

8. Corruption and sexual assault allegations have undone a prestigious university cannabis research center. The Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis at Thomas Jefferson University is in shambles after its founder had a sexual harassment scandal, its research shown to have corrupt influence, and a mass firing of staff. — PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER

9. A Florida ballot initiative for recreational marijuana is underway. An advocacy group has gathered enough petition signatures for a legal review of their ballot language, but they’re still about half a million signatures short of actually making the November 2020 ballot. — MARIJUANA MOMENT 

10. Canadian giant Aphria is opening a dispensary in Jamaica. The shop will be called Marigold Projects, and will do business at Peter Tosh Square. — BLOOMBERG

Joe Kukura has been the cannabis writer for SF Weekly since 2016, and his work has appeared in Thrillist, the Daily Dot, and NBC Bay Area. You can follow him on Twitter at @ExercisingDrunk.

Edited by: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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