Inside Cannabis - October 8th, 2019

Inside Cannabis (Oct 8th, 2019)

MedMen Terminates $682M Merger / Kamala Harris Weed Smear / Is Pot Kosher?

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1. MedMen has backed out of its $682 million acquisition of dispensary chain PharmaCann, and fired its CFO. The marriage of multistate dispensary operators MedMen and PharmaCan would have been the largest U.S. cannabis acquisition ever, but a Tuesday morning release indicates it's now off. Neither company acknowledged why they canceled the deal, but analysts have pointed to possible antitrust scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice. MedMen has a desired a foothold in the coming Illinois legal market, but PharmaCann will retain its five Chicagoland dispensaries, and is still apparently handing over certain unnamed licenses and “related assets” in exchange for whatever MedMen compensation it previously received. MedMen stock has plummeted, currently trading at about $1.50 on the Canadian exchange, and has lost 15 percent of its value today alone. — MJ BIZ DAILY

2. An official Republican National Committee Twitter account has tweeted a demonstrably false “weed” video claim about Democratic candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris. The GOP’s RNC Research Twitter account tweeted a video Tuesday morning that claimed: “After locking up thousands for marijuana-related offenses, Kamala Harris says weed brings good vibes.” A simple watch of the 15-second video shows she said nothing of the sort. Harris is with an entourage, encounters a storefront called Good Vibes, and asks what it is. “It’s like yoga,” says her Iowa Campaign Chair Deidre DeJear. “Or weed!” Harris quips back, clearly not saying what she’s accused of saying. — TOM ANGELL/TWITTER

3. The "big four" Canadian marijuana stocks have been hit hard in the third quarter. Aurora, Canopy, Cronos, and Tilray, lost a combined $14 billion during that quarter alone. Their shares have each lost 25 to 30 percent of their price value in the six weeks since the vaping lung illness crisis hit. Other driving factors could include their ongoing lack of profitability and the possibility of investor writedowns. — MOTLEY FOOL

4. Farmers ravaged by the Chinese tariffs are turning to growing hemp. Soybeans and corn are still the biggest cash crops for U.S. farmers, but the value of those commodities is being decimated by the ongoing tariff war with China. Hemp, meanwhile, was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill and is not exported to China, making it a great new growth crop that can yield as much as $60,000 per acre. There are risks, though, as the hemp must be destroyed if it tests at higher than 0.3 percent THC. Most states have legalized hemp growth, and Michigan farmers are currently harvesting their first-ever legal batch. — NY TIMES

5. Germany’s first medical marijuana startup has received a €7 million ($7.6 million) venture capital investment. Cultivator and distributor Demecan isn’t just Germany’s first cannabis startup, it’s Germany’s only cannabis startup (Larger companies Aurora Cannabis and Aphria are also licensed to operate in the country). Demecan received the cash infusion from E.U. venture firm btov Partners and an unnamed German family, and intends to spend the money to produce  2,400 kilograms (more than 5,000 pounds) of medical cannabis in the next four years. — TECHCRUNCH

6. Hand trimmers are being increasingly replaced by marijuana-trimming machines. Cannabis staffing firms acknowledge they are seeing far lower demand for trimmers, the classic old entry-level marijuana job, as more companies switch to automated trim robots that can pump out exponentially more trimmed bud. Consumers do notice the difference, though, and craft growers often switch back to humans because the machines produce uglier product with higher amounts of waste cannabis.— LEAFLY  

7. Roughly 80 more banks and credit unions started taking cannabis accounts in the third quarter. While the landmark SAFE Banking Act has passed the House and slow-crawls through the Senate, data from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) shows that 60 banks and 22 credit unions nationwide started taking cannabis business accounts in the last three months. There are now 715 financial institutions in the country that take marijuana bank accounts. — MARIJUANA MOMENT

8. Military veterans are increasingly finding work as marijuana security guards. The security guards at dispensaries are generally low-paid, but those guards who assist in hauling the crop or the cash make as much as $500 daily. They generally accompany a licensed distribution driver hauling product, or in the less-regulated field of delivering cash, deliver it themselves or provide an accompanying defense vehicle. — LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE 

9. A Washington, D.C. city sanitation worker is suing for the right to use medical marijuana after business hours. Some Washington, D.C. city employees are classified as having “safety-sensitive jobs” and therefore cannot use cannabis, even on their own time. One Department of Public Works employee is suing the city for that right, having been taken off the job despite a doctor’s valid prescription for cannabis. — NBC WASHINGTON

10. As Yom Kippur begins, the question of whether cannabis is kosher is up for discussion. Some rabbis feel the possibility of insects in flower renders weed non-kosher, others say it is kosher if used for medical purposes. Edibles and vape pen products are far likelier to contain non-kosher additives, and may not be as kosher. — WESTWORD

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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