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Independent coverage of a global industry 

• April 16, 2019 

In today's newsletter:


•  On Cannabis WireThe Marijuana Policy Project helped bring the US to the brink of legalization. Now what?

•  Newsletter-only post: NAACP tells Cannabis Wire what the organization cares about when it comes to legalization: “Policy positions that are not written in a manner that promotes diversity across the industry." 
 

•  Daily STAT: What do 5 years of legal cannabis sales in Colorado look like? $6.28B. 

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On Cannabis Wire:


The Marijuana Policy Project Helped Bring the US to the Brink of Legalization. Now What?

MPP’s new executive director talks equity, federal legalization, and the organization’s role in the booming, multibillion dollar global cannabis industry.


Cannabis Wire co-founder Alyson Martin had a one-on-one interview with Steve Hawkins, the executive director of Marijuana Policy Project to discuss the future of an organization that has been on the ground floor of cannabis legalization in the US since the 1990s. That was when California became the first state to allow a patient to grow cannabis for personal medical use, or to have a caregiver grow for them. The cannabis landscape in the US — and abroad — could not look any different today, with cannabis a booming, multibillion dollar industry, as well as a hot topic in Congress and among presidential candidates.

As we wrote in a newsletter last August, with Hawkins at the helm, MPP is charting a new course forward after a challenging period. Rob Kampia, MPP’s founder and longtime executive director, left his post as executive director in November 2017 to become director of strategic development, according to an MPP news release about the move at the time. In a December 2017 City Paper follow-up story about sexual harassment allegations against Kampia covered by the paper in 2010, which resurfaced amidst #MeToo discussions, Kampia told the alt-weekly that he was getting a “lateral promotion.” Days later, Kampia had fully departed from the organization.


Hawkins is the former president of Coalition for Public Safety, a criminal justice focused organization, former executive director of Amnesty International, and the former executive vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Cannabis Wire asked what is top of mind for Hawkins, and what role the organization will play as new groups and lobbyists surface, and as industry members increasingly take their needs into their own hands.

Alyson Martin, co-founder of Cannabis Wire: What's MPP's role in the national cannabis industry today, in 2019? How is it changing?

Steve Hawkins, executive director, MPP: We have five states in play right now. We're working on another five in 2020 and have our sights on another 5 in 2021. And our view is that if we get to the halfway point — where we have not only half the states in the country, we'll have 50 U.S. senators at least with the states that we're looking at, we'll have like 286 members of Congress, I think — at that point, the prohibition that exists, federally, gets called into question. I think then we have enough political momentum in Congress to actually take marijuana off of the Controlled Substances list and get it descheduled. I think it will take a little bit more of a chorus of state voices to add pressure. I'm a big believer that change doesn't come from Washington, it comes to Washington a lot of times.

Read this Q&A on Cannabis Wire.

Cannabis Wire in the news:


Founder Alyson Martin will be on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show today to talk about cannabis legalization efforts in New York and New Jersey. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spokesperson Tyrone Stevens told Cannabis Wire yesterday, "No update at the moment. Expect conversations will pick up in earnest next month." 

When pressed regarding specific timing, Stevens said that the "latter half of May makes sense though no guarantees we’ll have an update then."

When asked about legalization momentum, State Sen. Diane Savino, who is a key supporter of legalization, told Cannabis Wire: "I am not aware of any new activity," adding that she's shifting focus. "I am going to be working on the expansion of the medical program." That expansion bill is expected toward the end of April or early May, she said. 

Newsletter-only post:


On Monday, Cannabis Wire spoke with Hilary Shelton, Director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau of Public Policy, regarding an apparent rift among the organization’s state chapters.

Back in March, our newsletter noted that two chapter presidents appeared to espouse opposite stances on legalization:

In New Jersey, president Richard Smith wrote an op-ed in favor of a now defeated  bill, saying that while “one bill in one state will not abolish generations of inequality,” it marked an “historic first step.”

Meanwhile, Illinois chapter president Teresa Haley was quoted asking people to “stand up and say something” against legalization, which she referred to as “a form of modern-day slavery.”


In conversation with Cannabis Wire, Director Shelton said that he has been in conversation with the state conference presidents, including Haley, who has “made it clear that the Illinois NAACP units support reform,” but also “urge [for] a more comprehensive reform package that will address second chance reforms and expunge records of non-violent marijuana convictions made before the law was changed.” 

Members “are raising concerns about policy positions that are not written in a manner that promotes diversity across this new and expanding industry—including not only owners of legal distribution and sales centers, but also workers, contractors, and vendors," he said. 

"Our folks in Illinois are also concerned because [lawmakers] haven’t moved to ensure that people don’t go to jail and that those coming out of jail are able to access a place to live and get good jobs so that they can take care of themselves and their families. What we’ve seen is that tens of thousands of people are facing felony convictions for something that, in many states and the nation’s capital, is not illegal anymore . . . And, without expungement of records, they continue to pay a debt for something that others are profiting from. Our people in Illinois are simply calling for safeguards.”


— Julia Barajas
julia_barajas@cannabiswire.com

Daily STAT: 


What do 5 years of legal cannabis sales in Colorado look like? 

While there are spikes and valleys, the market has stabilized in the past two years, according to recent numbers released by the state's Dept. of Revenue.  


2014: $683,523,739
2015: $995,591,255
2016: $1,307,203,473
2017: $1,507,702,219
2018: $1,545,691,080
January-February 2019: $244,282,134

Latest research:


People who consume cannabis on a regular basis might require two times the sedatives to go under general anesthesia, researchers at Community Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado concluded in a study published yesterday in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

A few notes: the study involved only the examination of 250 records of patients who were having endoscopic procedures between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017.

When researchers compared people who reported smoking cannabis or consuming edible cannabis products every day or week, the regular cannabis consumers needed 14% more fentanyl, 20% more midazolam, and 220% more propofol for full sedation into unconsciousness.

“The findings of this study suggest that regular cannabis use has a significant effect on the amount of sedation required to perform an endoscopic procedure. To our knowledge, this is a previously unreported effect of cannabis, and the exact mechanism of the interaction is unknown,” the research concluded.

Daily quote:


Kansas hemp expands:

“The Commercial Industrial Hemp Program represents a significant step forward for our agricultural economy. It will provide another crop option for Kansas farmers in the coming years,” Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said yesterday. Kelly signed the Senate Substitute for House Bill 2167, which created the Commercial Industrial Hemp Program.


“I’m proud that Kansas is moving forward with this program and I look forward to working with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture and others to encourage growth in this new industry.” 

Industry moves:


• Horizons ETFs, which is behind the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF, the first cannabis-focused ETF, plans to this week launch the Horizons US Marijuana Index ETF, the first to focus on US companies directly involved with cannabis and/or hemp. Some of those include: Curaleaf Holdings, Cresco Labs, Charlotte’s Web Holdings, MedMen Enterprises, and more than a dozen others.

+ Fun history: there was almost another "first" cannabis ETF, the Emerging AgroSphere ETF. It was going to focus on medical cannabis companies, including GW Pharmaceuticals. But after much hullabaloo in 2017, it disappeared. 


• Aphria’s Q3 2019 revenue rose to C$73.6 million, up from C$10.3 in the same quarter last year. The company added to its board former Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb and David Hopkinson, global head of partnerships for Real Madrid Club de Futbol.

But from there the news isn’t great: the company had a significant loss of C$108 million and sold less cannabis than last quarter (down to 2,636 kg from 3,408 kg).

One significant factor in higher costs is the company’s assets in Latin America, which are expected to see lower margins and “higher than expected expenses.”

These assets were the target of a Quintessential Capital Management and Hindenburg Research report in December that called Aphria “a shell game.” The report suggested Aphria overpaid for the assets that were essentially shell companies through which insiders could receive money. An independent review determined the amount paid for the assets was “within an acceptable range, albeit near the top of the range of observable valuation metrics.”

Still, the fiasco led to the departure of CEO Vic Neufeld, and the company became the subject of a hostile takeover bid from Green Growth Brands. Both companies announced yesterday that the bid would be terminated more quickly than previously announced, and GGB will sell back its shares worth C$89 million. 


• In other earnings news, Organigram announced Q2 2019 revenue of C$26.9 million, a significant increase from C$3.4 million in the same quarter last year. But the company also saw a loss of C$6.4 million, while in the same quarter last year they saw earnings just over C$1 million.


• iAnthus has hired as chief marketing officer Neil Calvesbert, who previously held roles as CMO of Nicopure Labs (e-cigs), VP of global marketing for Monster Energy Beverages, and CEO of Fox Racing. (...lest anyone wonder what direction the company's branding could go in...)


Noted:

• Aurora Cannabis is lobbying Irish officials to allow the company to provide medical cannabis, as legislation to regulate medical cannabis sales is expected this summer, according to the Irish Times.


• Pax is nearing a >$400 million raise, at a $1.3 billion valuation, according to The Information. The company is expecting revenue this year to hit $113 million, and more than doubled their expected raise after significant investor interest.

Copyright © 2019 Cannabis Wire, All rights reserved.


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