Inside Cannabis - September 30th, 2019

Inside Cannabis (Sep 30th, 2019)

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1. An investigation into the contents of California THC vape cartridges has found hydrogen cyanide in black market products. As the vaping health crisis has now killed 13 people and sickened more than 800 people nationwide, NBC News commissioned testing lab CannaSafe to evaluate the contents of both legal and illegal vape cartridges sold in California. While none of the legal, dispensary-bought cartridges turned up any heavy metals, pesticides or the widely blamed Vitamin E acetate thickener, nearly all of the black market samples did, and several also tested positive for hydrogen cyanide. One bootleg brand called Dank Vapes has been linked to several cases in the Midwest, but other underground vape brands are suspected in the health scare. State-level health officials continue to react, as a total of nine states have either enacted vape bans or publicly declared that people should stop vaping. — NBC NEWS


2. Nearly 40 members of the House of Representatives flipped in favor of supporting cannabis banking. In the wake of last week’s landmark House vote to pass the SAFE Banking Act that would legalize cannabis banking, Marijuana Moment broke down which representatives voted for the bill, while having voted against similar legislation in the past. They found 37 representatives flipped from a "no" to a "yes," including 31 Republicans. That’s encouraging, but the bill still needs to pass the Senate to become law, and analysts give it only a 25 percent chance of passage. — MARIJUANA MOMENT 


3. America’s first "cannabis cafe" opens Tuesday in West Hollywood. Eater LA has a whole bunch of pictures from inside Lowell Cafe, which will open tomorrow as be the first combined marijuana consumption site and restaurant in the U.S. There are several regulatory complications at work; the cannabis cannot be infused into food on-site, and those who want to imbibe will be brought separate product by a separate server. Customers also will not be able to consume alcohol on the premises. Seven more these “consumption lounges” are approved to open in West Hollywood in 2020. — WEHOVILLE


4. Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s latest episode in his CNN series "Weed" aired Sunday and explored the CBD as a possible treatment for autism. Gupta toured the facilities for GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, the first FDA-approved cannabis drug used to treat epilepsy. That drug only uses the compound CBD, which doctors feel may have the potential to also treat social and cognitive functioning for autistic patients. Dr. Alexander Kolevzon, the clinical director of the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai, is not involved in the research Gupta highlighted but is cautiously optimistic. "CBD may be helpful for only a subset of people and it may benefit different people in different ways. The challenge is to figure out which patients are likely to respond, and which symptoms are most likely to improve," Kolevzon told CNN. The hour-long medical documentary series has released a new episode roughly once a year since 2013.  — CNN


5. The number of police seizures of cannabis has tripled in Hong Kong, and it’s mostly from U.S. and Canadian smugglers. The legalization of marijuana in Canada and much of the U.S. has had an unintended consequence in the region of Hong Kong, where law enforcement authorities have seized about $40 million U.S. dollars worth of cannabis this year. That’s slightly more than triple the amount they’d seized at this time last year, and officials say most of it is being air mailed in parcels from America and Canada. — BANGKOK POST


6. Lab tests have discovered THC in nearly 50 percent of CBD products, though none are labeled as having THC. Colorado chemistry lab Ellipse Analytics tested 250 of the country’s most popular CBD retail items, and found 46 percent did have significant amounts of the psychoactive marijuana ingredient THC. Legally, these products should only contain as much as 0.3 percent THC, but many states’ CBD markets have little or no regulatory oversight. — MERRY JANE


7. Weedmaps’ sudden reversal on listing illegal stores is seen as a sign of a Canadian IPO. The ‘Yelp for pot’ review site Weedmaps has long notoriously listed illegal, unlicensed dispensaries, but announced in early September that they would remove all illegal ads by the end of this year. Several industry sources tell MJ Biz Daily this is an indication they’re trying to curry favor with Canadian regulators  in hopes of being listed on the Canadian Stock Exchange. — MJ BIZ DAILY 


8. A coalition of cannabis businesses are opposing Arizona’s recreational marijuana initiative. While advocates continue to hash out the wording of Arizona’s proposed 2020 legalization ballot measure, a collective of small businesses called the Arizona Cannabis Chamber of Commerce has come out against the measure as written. They say the initiative, financially backed by multi-state dispensary chains Curaleaf and Harvest Enterprises, creates monopolies for existing cannabis corporations. — ARIZONA DAILY STAR


9. Pennsylvania is experiencing a "medical marijuana drought," according to dispensary owners. The drought apparently is felt in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where dispensary owners say they are rationing product because of high demand and short supply. Only ten cultivators are producing in the Keystone State, but they’re now serving 60 dispensaries statewide. — PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER 


10. Maine restaurants are losing their staff to the cannabis industry. Even though Maine’s recreational sales won’t kick in until spring of 2020, restaurant workers in the state are already jumping ship and going into the better-paying medical marijuana sector. Medical dispensaries are paying roughly $3 an hour higher on average, and kitchen staff can also qualify as “caretakers” preparing infused meals at much higher wages. — BANGOR DAILY NEWS  


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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