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Cannabis versus Cancer

Cannabis versus Cancer

As the legalization of medical marijuana becomes more common worldwide; medical cannabis is being prescribed by doctors and caretakers to help treat cancer. related side effects—either from the cancer itself or from treatments like chemotherapy. Countless scientific studies have shown that medical cannabis offers palliative care benefits, including appetite stimulation, pain relief and more.

But early research indicates that cannabinoids can do so much more. Data is showing that medical marijuana has antitumor effects and may one day be used as a cancer treatment, not just as a drug to ease symptoms of the disease. Well over 100 types of cannabinoids—the compounds within cannabis containing different properties and chemical profiles—have been identified to date, yet few have been studied for their specific effects. Medical marijuana’s proven palliative care benefits and the complexity of the drug indicate clinical studies are necessary to uncover the drug’s full potential.

In 2017 there were more than 1.6 million new cancer diagnoses in the United States, and by the year 2030, cancer cases are projected to increase by 50 percent worldwide compared to 2012 rates. Given these alarming statistics, new treatment options are now more important than ever. Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, targeted therapy and immunotherapy are the most common cancer treatments, but side effects are often severe, ranging from fatigue, hair loss, nausea, infection and more. Medical marijuana offers important relief to patients dealing with these unwanted effects, but what if we were able to offer the drug to patients as an alternative cancer therapy? We may be able to avoid or reduce the severe side effects of other treatments, while combatting the cancer and its symptoms.
We’re not there yet, but while the available data are limited, research that has been conducted around antitumor effects of cannabinoids so far shows great promise.

The International Journal of Oncology published a study last year, for example, indicating that cannabinoids successfully kill cancer cells, and the benefits increase when combined with chemotherapy. An early preclinical study we recently conducted also found that cancer cells derived from patient blood samples were differentially sensitive to the two main active compounds in cannabis—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).

A number of other laboratory and animal studies have been conducted in recent years on colon, breast and brain cancers. They indicate that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by blocking cell growth, causing cell death and blocking the development of blood vessels that tumors require to grow. We have yet to make the leap to study these promising effects on humans.

The current approach to medical marijuana research and treatment in the United States is limiting the potential for new discoveries in the cannabinoid field. The current impact of the U.S. market cannot be understated, as its responsible for 90 percent of all global cannabis sales. By 2021, the American share of the market is expected to drop to 57 percent as other countries like Israel and Canada adopt medical marijuana policies and more aggressively fund research.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug—a category for substances with high potential for abuse and no accepted medical purpose. This categorization has clearly impacted the scope of research in the United States

There is currently only one marijuana farm in the country currently approved for the cultivation and procurement of research-grade cannabis. The Drug Enforcement Administration previously restricted the total number of American research facility permits but relaxed these limitations in 2016. Even so, the attorney general has not approved permits for any of the additional 26 facilities that have applied.

Despite a growing number of states legalizing medical marijuana, federal restrictions mean that scientists are unable to conduct high-quality research required for FDA approval that would provide necessary clarity on the benefits of cannabinoids for medical practitioners and the patients they serve.

With millions of new cancer cases each year, clear disadvantages to mainstream treatment options, and positive indications from preclinical antitumor medical marijuana studies, the benefit of gathering additional data is clear. We must conduct large-scale research studies to gain a better understanding of medical marijuana’s capabilities beyond palliative care.

Cancer Patients Get Little Guidance From Doctors On Using Medical Marijuana

Cancer Patients Get Little Guidance From Doctors On Using Medical Marijuana

Even three queasy pregnancies didn’t prepare Kate Murphy for the nonstop nausea that often comes with chemotherapy.

In the early months of 2016, the Lexington, Mass., mother tried everything the doctors and nurses suggested. “But for the most part I felt nauseous 24/7,” she said.

Murphy, then 49 and fighting breast cancer, dropped 15 pounds from her already slim frame in just two months. Then, she remembered what a fellow cancer patient had advised while she was waiting for her first dose of chemo: “Make sure you get some medical marijuana.”

Scientific research, mostly in animals, supports the idea that cannabis can effectively treat the nausea of cancer therapy, in addition to some types of cancer-related pain, according to the National Cancer Institute’s cannabis information page.

And roughly a quarter of cancer patients use cannabis in Washington state, where both medical and recreational marijuana is legal, a study from September found.

In Massachusetts, medical marijuana has been legal for six years, but it’s still a challenge for cancer patients to get a state-issued medical marijuana ID card, or then figure out what kind of cannabis to use.

“I was flabbergasted that there was no real resource A, B and C, and ‘here’s how you do it,’ ” Murphy said. “What I liken it to is, ‘you need chemo, now go figure it out.’ ”
Like most patients, Murphy’s first step was to ask her oncologist. Murphy said she loved her doctor and care team at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, but they had no advice to offer on medical marijuana.

“They said ‘yes, you can look into it,’ ” she said. “But I felt sad because you’re so lost and you’re so sick and this is so not your area of expertise, that it was very upsetting to me to not get direction one way or the other.”

Only about 1 percent of Massachusetts’ 25,000 doctors are registered with the state and allowed to legally prescribe marijuana. And only a fraction of those know much about cancer care.

Last June, the Massachusetts Medical Society approved a new online curriculum for medical marijuana. Six months later, only 27 medical professionals have taken the section on cancer care and cannabis. Both the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center said they had no experts on staff to speak with us for this report.

Murphy eventually found her way to Dr. Jordan Tishler, who runs medical cannabis clinics in Cambridge and Brookline, called inhaleMD.

Tishler, a former emergency room physician and music producer, said he treats cannabis like any other therapy, meeting with new patients for an extended conversation and follow-ups. But some cannabis prescribers, he said, just want to sign the state paperwork and move on.

“By and large, physicians are simply saying, ‘yes, you can have it,’ and then stopping the conversation there,” he said.

Tischler explained that medical centers — particularly those that take federal funding — are in a tight spot because federal law still classifies cannabis as an illegal drug, despite its legalization for medical purposes, at a minimum, in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

“Most of those institutions are prohibited and/or afraid of the prohibitions from the federal government, so have opted not to pursue this within their domain,” Tischler said. He set up his private clinic so he could operate outside of those systems, though he said he receives referrals from all the major hospitals.

In early January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the nation’s U.S. attorneys to resume aggressively pursuing marijuana growers and distributors, even in states where marijuana has been legalized. It’s not clear yet what that will mean for Massachusetts’ medical marijuana system, but a few days later, Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said he cannot and will not rule out prosecuting state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

As it currently stands, authorized doctors like Tishler have to fill out an online form with the state, which the patient then submits with a $50 check to request a license. Tishler said the process used to take several weeks, but now the state usually issues a medical card within three or four days of receiving a request.

Then, the patient has to take that license to one of the state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries, which offer a wide array of products containing cannabis

New England Treatment Access, or NETA, whose Brookline dispensary is housed in an old bank building, sells 130 products. Garden Remedies, whose dispensary is in Newton about a block from a Whole Foods, sells 50 items, including bath bombs, lip balm and marijuana-infused honey they make themselves in their cultivation facility.

Murphy said she would have been overwhelmed by those choices if she hadn’t had a doctor like Tishler advising her on what to take. Tishler said he tells cancer patients, for example, that they should avoid using novelty items like bath bombs and creams. They may be fun, but they won’t help with nausea or pain, he says.

Murphy didn’t like the idea of edibles. She had young children at home and was anxious they might find a brownie too tempting to pass up.

Tishler warned his patients against getting advice on care either from the Internet — which he said is loaded with misinformation — or from the counter folks at the dispensaries, who are trained in their products but are not legally allowed to give out medical advice.

“They’re doing the best they can, but fundamentally, they’re salespeople,” he said. “Their level of training, I often say, is about the level of a Starbucks barista. So, I tell patients, ‘look, if you wouldn’t ask your coffee guy about your health, probably you shouldn’t ask these guys, either.’ ”

Dispensing Experimental Wisdom

Dr. Karen Munkacy, president and CEO of Garden Remedies, said her staff generally recommends that someone with nausea use a vape pen, to get a quick effect from the cannabis, and then, if they need something longer-lasting, take an edible.

“Inhalation medical marijuana works within a few minutes, and so, now their nausea and vomiting is under control,” she said. “If they want to get a good night’s sleep they’re going to need to get something that they ingest because it’s going to last longer. They won’t wake up vomiting in the middle of the night.”

Munkacy started her company after her own bout with chemo-induced nausea. She was treated for breast cancer a decade ago in New Jersey, where medical marijuana was illegal.

“It was months of feeling a thousand times worse than any flu I’ve ever had,” said Munkacy, who at the time was an anesthesiologist with a 2-year-old son. “Before [medical cannabis] became legal, people would have to choose between breaking the law and suffering terribly.”

Convinced that medical marijuana could help other people avoid her misery, Munkacy worked to help get legalized medical marijuana on the ballot in Massachusetts in 2012, and said she is now committed to educating patients who come to her dispensary.

“Our goal is that when patients leave, they’ve learned everything they need to know,” she said.

Cannabis is generally very safe, Tishler said, as long as patients buy their medical marijuana from a dispensary, because state requirements ensure a safe, consistent product. There is no lethal dose, and the worst side effect for most of his patients, he said, is an unwanted feeling of getting high when they’ve taken too much.

Marijuana may help combat substance abuse, mental health disorders

Marijuana may help combat substance abuse, mental health disorders

Contrary to research that suggests marijuana may act as a gateway drug, encouraging the use of other harmful substances, a new study indicates it may have the opposite effect.
[Medical marijuana spilling out of a bottle]
The new review suggests marijuana may help treat substance use disorders and some mental health conditions.
In the journal Clinical Psychology Review, researchers suggest marijuana use has the potential to help treat some individuals with substance use disorders, such as opioid addiction.

What is more, the review – led by Zach Walsh, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Canada – suggests using marijuana could help alleviate symptoms of some mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While marijuana, or cannabis, remains the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, with around 22.2 million users in the past month, it is becoming increasingly legalized for medical and/or recreational purposes.

In relation to the drug’s therapeutic potential, some studies have suggested marijuana can help treat pain, inflammation, epileptic seizures, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, many patients and advocates of medical marijuana claim the drug has the potential to treat mental health issues and substance use disorders, and the new study by Walsh and team suggests that, in some cases, these individuals may be right
Marijuana may be an effective ‘exit drug’
The researchers came to their conclusion after conducting a systematic review of 60 studies assessing the effects of either medical or non-medical marijuana on mental health and substance abuse.

The analysis revealed that medical marijuana shows potential for treating symptoms of PTSD, depression, and social anxiety.

However, for patients with psychotic disorders – such as bipolar disorder – the team found non-medical marijuana use may be problematic.

Additionally, the review indicates that medical marijuana use may help some individuals with substance use disorders by acting as a substitute.

“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” Walsh explains.

The evidence to date suggests that medical marijuana does not raise the risk of self-harm or harm to others, the researchers note, although they caution that acute marijuana intoxication and recent use of medical marijuana may affect short-term memory and other cognitive functions.

The team concludes that more research is required to further assess the effects of marijuana use on mental health and substance abuse. This is particularly important given the increase in marijuana legalization in the U.S., and in Canada, marijuana may be legalized as early as 2017.

“There is not currently a lot of clear guidance on how mental health professionals can best work with people who are using cannabis for medical purposes. With the end of prohibition, telling people to simply stop using may no longer be as feasible an option. Knowing how to consider cannabis in the treatment equation will become a necessity

What are the medical benefits of marijuana?

What are the medical benefits of marijuana?

Over the years, research has yielded results to suggest that marijuana may be of benefit in the treatment of some conditions. These are listed below.

Chronic pain
Last year, a large review from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine assessed more than 10,000 scientific studies on the medical benefits and adverse effects of marijuana.

One area that the report looked closely at was the use of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain. Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability, affecting more than 25 million adults in the U.S.

The review found that marijuana, or products containing cannabinoids — which are the active ingredients in marijuana, or other compounds that act on the same receptors in the brain as marijuana — are effective at relieving chronic pain.

Alcoholism and drug addiction
Another comprehensive review of evidence, published last year in the journal Clinical Psychology Review, revealed that using marijuana may help people with alcohol or opioid dependencies to fight their addictions.

But this finding may be contentious; the National Academies of Sciences review suggests that marijuana use actually drives increased risk for abusing, and becoming dependent on, other substances.

Also, the more that someone uses marijuana, the more likely they are to develop a problem with using marijuana. Individuals who began using the drug at a young age are also known to be at increased risk of developing a problem with marijuana use.
Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety
The review published in Clinical Psychology Review assessed all published scientific literature that investigated the use of marijuana to treat symptoms of mental illness.

a man feeling depressed
Evidence to date suggests that marijuana could help to treat some mental health conditions.
Its authors found some evidence supporting the use of marijuana to relieve depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

That being said, they caution that marijuana is not an appropriate treatment for some other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder and psychosis.

The review indicates that there is some evidence to suggest that marijuana might alleviate symptoms of social anxiety, but again, this is contradicted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine review, which instead found that regular users of marijuana may actually be at increased risk of social anxiety.

Cancer
Evidence suggests that oral cannabinoids are effective against nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and some small studies have found that smoked marijuana may also help to alleviate these symptoms.

Some studies on cancer cells suggest that cannabinoids may either slow down the growth of or kill some types of cancer. However, early studies that tested this hypothesis in humans revealed that although cannabinoids are a safe treatment, they are not effective at controlling or curing cancer.

Multiple sclerosis
The short-term use of oral cannabinoids may improve symptoms of spasticity among people with multiple sclerosis, but the positive effects have been found to be modest.

Epilepsy
Another study published in 2017 discovered that a marijuana compound called cannabidiol may be effective at easing seizures among children with Dravet syndrome, which is a rare form of epilepsy.

Dravet syndrome seizures are prolonged, repetitive, and potentially lethal. In fact, 1 in 5 children with Dravet syndrome do not reach the age of 20.

In the study, 120 children and teenagers with Dravet syndrome, all of whom were aged between 2 and 18, were randomly assigned to receive an oral cannabidiol solution or a placebo for 14 weeks, along with their usual medication.

MRI scans of the brain
Researchers indicates that marijuana could help to treat epilepsy.
The researchers found that the children who received the cannabidiol solution went from having around 12 seizures per month to an average of six seizures per month. Three children receiving cannabidiol did not experience any seizures at all.

Children who received the placebo also saw a reduction in seizures, but this was slight — their average number of seizures went down from 15 each month before the study to 14 seizures per month during the study.

The researchers say that this 39 percent reduction in seizure occurrence provides strong evidence that the compound can help people living with Dravet syndrome, and that their paper has the first rigorous scientific data to demonstrate this.

However, the study also found a high rate of side effects linked to cannabidiol. More than 9 in 10 of the children treated with cannabidiol experienced side effects — most commonly vomiting, fatigue, and fever.

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January was the biggest month yet for marijuana legalization, despite Trump’s new war on pot

January was the biggest month yet for marijuana legalization, despite Trump’s new war on pot

California opened the world’s biggest legal pot market, and Vermont’s state legislature became the first to legalize marijuana.
By German [email protected]@vox.com
January 2018 was the most important month yet for marijuana legalization.

Things looked rocky a few days into the month, when President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, rescinded an Obama-era memo that protected states that had legalized marijuana from federal interference. Because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, the federal government can still crack down on pot even in states where it’s legal under state law for recreational purposes.

But the announcement came and went with little sign that the Justice Department will actually do much in its new war on marijuana. The agency was unclear when reporters asked if the move will actually lead to more anti-marijuana prosecutions. And in the aftermath, federal prosecutors across the country released statements that were either vague or indicated that they won’t lead to a new wave of anti-marijuana crackdowns in places where pot is legal under state law.

Meanwhile, California at the beginning of the month opened the world’s biggest legal market for recreational marijuana — following voters’ decision in 2016 to legalize pot for recreational purposes and allow sales of the drug.

Then, after Sessions announced his new marijuana policy, Vermont legislators, with the support of Republican Gov. Phil Scott, legalized marijuana for recreational use. The law won’t allow sales — only possession and growing. But it’s a big move because Vermont is now the first state to have legalized marijuana through its legislature.

All of this adds up to a huge month for marijuana legalization. If even a federal threat over marijuana legalization didn’t stop Vermont’s legalization momentum or slow down California’s massive new legal pot market, what, if anything, will stop more states from going down the same path?

1) California opened the world’s biggest legal pot market
January 1 was perhaps the single biggest day for marijuana legalization yet. On that day, the country’s most populous state — and the world’s sixth-largest economy — officially launched an entirely new industry within its borders.

According to state estimates, more than 400 businesses were licensed as of January 1. Since then, and despite Sessions’s new marijuana policy, more cities — including Los Angeles, the most populous in California — began letting businesses sell cannabis for recreational use, adding dozens more approved licenses to the state’s total.

The growth is expected to continue. GreenWave Advisors, a cannabis financial analyst, estimated that California’s industry could be worth $5.1 billion in 2018. One report from researchers at the investment bank Cowen estimated that legalization in California alone would triple the size of the nation’s legal pot industry within a decade.

It may be easy to dismiss what California did because of the state’s previous medical marijuana system, in which just about anyone could stroll down to Venice Beach in Los Angeles, pay $40 or so for a medical marijuana card, and legally buy some cannabis.

But there is a vast difference in scale between Venice Beach’s local medical pot shops and the burgeoning multi-state marijuana industry that can arise from full legalization. The consequences will be not just economic, but political too.

The new big marijuana industry, just like any other for-profit industry, wants to grow. The obvious pathway to doing that is legalizing pot in the dozens of states where it remains illegal. With many more customers thanks to California’s decision alone, the industry will have more profits to carry out the political campaigning and lobbying it needs to achieve this.

This is, in fact, what legalization advocates have long expected: The marijuana industry will increasingly play more and more of a role in the drug policy reform movement as legalization spreads.

“On some level, we have always known that,” Ethan Nadelmann, former executive director of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance, previously told me. “And I think 2016 may be the last year in which drug policy reform organizations, driven primarily by concerns of civil liberties and civil rights and other good public policy motivations, will be able to significantly shape the legislation. And I assume that as the years progress, various industry forces will loom ever larger.”

The big problem with ballot initiatives is not a lack of public support. Based on surveys from Gallup and the Pew Research Center, at least 60 percent of US adults support legalization if asked in a yes-or-no poll about it. Even a poll conducted for the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which added nuance to the issue by asking people what their preference was between medical legalization, decriminalization, full legalization, and keeping current federal policy, found that 49 percent support full legalization — by far the biggest group of responders in the poll.

A chart tracking support for marijuana legalization.
Gallup
Instead, the problem has long been that ballot initiatives can cost a lot of money. Whenever I ask legal pot activists why, for example, it took so long to get medical marijuana — which now polls very well virtually everywhere — in Ohio and Florida, the response is usually that those states are very expensive to run ballot initiatives in (partly because they’re relatively large and populous).

Well, there’s now going to be a rapidly growing industry to cover those expenses. And that will likely lead to more victories in the ballot box and legislatures down the line.

2) The first state legislature legalized marijuana
On January 22, Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through its legislature. Until this point, all states had legalized through a voter-approved ballot initiative.

This is a big turning point for marijuana legalization. That politicians, who are typically risk-averse, now feel confident enough signing off on marijuana legalization suggests that the issue has broken through. Tom Angell, a legalization advocate, described it as “[a] major milestone that signals the maturation of cannabis into a mainstream political issue.”

There are some caveats to the state’s decision. For one, it only allows adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to two mature and four immature cannabis plants. Crucially, this means Vermont does not allow sales.

If you ask experts, perhaps that’s fine. They have long pointed out that there are many ways to legalize marijuana. The way many states are doing it — allowing big companies to come in and market the drug — carries its own risks. See: tobacco, alcohol, and opioid companies’ long histories of irresponsibly marketing their products to get as many people as possible consuming and even addicted, no matter the public health risks. So many experts prefer alternatives to commercialization, including allowing just growing.

In fact, experts pointed out that there are a full dozen possibilities for marijuana policy in a report to the Vermont legislature, spanning from increasing penalties on marijuana to allowing only growing to allowing only nonprofit sellers to commercialization to full repeal without any regulation. Many of the options short of commercialization would reduce the number of marijuana-related arrests — which are very racially skewed even though black and white people use pot at similar rates.

A chart of different options to legalize marijuana.
RAND Corporation
But for many legalization advocates, the end goal has always been allowing sales. That’s the way, as they see it, to kill off the black market for marijuana that’s helped fund violent criminal organizations around the world.

So Vermont’s decision isn’t a full victory for many advocates — and there still isn’t a state legislature that’s agreed to legalize cannabis sales.

There are some signs that this could change soon. New Jersey’s new Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, wants to fully legalize marijuana. And Vermont legislators are already discussing legalizing sales, although the state’s Republican governor seems resistant.

Regardless of where this all ends up, though, the short of it is that a state became the first this month to legalize marijuana through its legislature. That’s a big win for legal pot advocates no matter how it’s spun.

3) It’s not clear Trump and Sessions’s new war on pot will do anything
The one wrinkle in January’s big news for marijuana legalization was Trump’s Justice Department.

Earlier this month, Sessions announced that he was rescinding an Obama-era memo that effectively told states that they can move forward with marijuana legalization without the threat of federal interference. This guidance was big: Since federal law still prohibits marijuana for any use, the threat of federal interference is a potential threat to legalization. The Obama administration, though, said that the federal government would not interfere as long as states met certain criteria (such as not letting legal pot fall into kids’ hands), and federal enforcement of those criteria was fairly loose.

Sessions took back the Obama-era memo. In doing this, he did not order federal prosecutors to crack down on legal marijuana. Instead, he told them that they could use their own judgment based on “previously established prosecutorial principles” — allowing them to crack down on legal pot, but not requiring it.

The intention here was clear. Sessions has long been an opponent of legalization, previously claiming that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and arguing that the federal government should use its law enforcement apparatus to shut down legal pot operations.

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s, in fact, a very real danger,” he said as a senator in 2016.

The vagueness of Sessions’s new guidance, though, left it up to individual prosecutors to decide whether they will take action against legal pot states. By and large, federal prosecutors seem to have responded with a shrug.

US Attorney of the District of Colorado Bob Troyer indicated that nothing will change following Sessions’s announcement, saying in a statement that his office has “already been guided” by the principles laid out by Sessions. That doesn’t sound like the federal prosecutor in Colorado, the first state to allow legal pot sales, announcing a new policy.

US Attorney of the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling released perhaps the most alarming statement for legal pot advocates, but even he was vague — stating that he “cannot, however, provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution.” That sounds like someone keeping his options open, not a declaration of war in Massachusetts, where pot was legalized in 2016.

And, again, the Justice Department itself couldn’t answer whether the new policy will lead to more anti-marijuana prosecutions.

This uncertainty could still have had an impact, potentially leading to a chilling effect on new marijuana businesses as well as lawmakers and activists looking to legalize pot.

But based on what happened in Vermont and continued in California this month, that chilling effect remains theoretical. Legalization seems like it will continue chugging along — ringing in the biggest change to American drug policy in decades.

The U.S. legal marijuana industry is booming

The U.S. legal marijuana industry is booming

this is 2018 and MARIJUANA remains illegal in the United States.
But continued federal prohibition hasn’t stopped the marijuana industry from growing like a very profitable weed.

Despite what could be considered an unfriendly administration in Washington D.C., nine states and the District of Columbia now allow for recreational marijuana use and 30 allow for medical use. And more states are lining up to join the legalization wave. Pot has become big business in the U.S.

The emerging industry took in nearly $9 billion in sales in 2017, according to Tom Adams, managing director of BDS Analytics, which tracks the cannabis industry. Sales are equivalent to the entire snack bar industry, or to annual revenue from Pampers diapers.

That was before California opened its massive retail market in January. The addition of the Golden State is huge for the industry and Adams estimates that national marijuana sales will rise to $11 billion in 2018, and to $21 billion in 2021.

The industry has also been creating jobs and opportunities. There are 9,397 active licenses for marijuana businesses in the U.S., according to Ed Keating, chief data officer for Cannabiz Media, which tracks marijuana licenses. This includes cultivators, manufacturers, retailers, dispensaries, distributors, deliverers and test labs.

More than 100,000 people are working around the cannabis plant and that number’s going to grow, according to BDS Analytics. The industry employed 121,000 people in 2017. If marijuana continues its growth trajectory, the number of workers in that field could reach 292,000 by 2021, according to BDS Analytics.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a product in the form or oil or candy that’s used as a treatment for epilepsy or pain even though it faces a federal ban. The industry for CBD, derived from both hemp and marijuana, totaled $360 million last year, according to Sean Murphy, publisher of the Hemp Business Journal. He said it’s expected to grow to $1.1 billion by 2020 and $1.8 billion by 2022.

So what’s next?

The industry remains on shaky footing because of its precarious legal status, and the country’s top law enforcement official recently injected a healthy dose of uncertainty into recreational programs in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine.

Cannabis Makes Its Way Into the G-20 Summit

Cannabis Makes Its Way Into the G-20 Summit

The G-20 summit is currently taking place in Hamburg, Germany and marijuana has made its presence known.

Although some of the expected discussion topics include climate change, security and trade, we think medical marijuana will be a topic that takes center stage. 20% of the countries at the G-20 summit have legalized medical marijuana and it will be a topic that is nearly impossible to ignore. Every country is looking for ways to lower its debt level and marijuana is the answer.

Marijuana will not only create a new revenue stream but it will also significantly decrease expenses and allow countries to better allocate its resources.

World Leaders Climb Aboard The Marijuana Train

From Germany to Canada, Australia to Mexico, the benefits of marijuana are being recognized and this trend is just getting started.

2017 has been a year to remember and we are only halfway through it. One of most significant developments so far this year was Germany legalizing medical marijuana and we think this will have a major impact on its European counterparts.

Germany is the largest country (by population) in the European Union and it represents a massive opportunity for marijuana companies. Per the most recent United Nations estimates, the current population of Germany is more than 80.6 million, which is twice the size of California.

Germany is the Next Major Marijuana Market

Canadian licensed medical marijuana producers have benefited from the rapidly growing German medical marijuana market since it does not allow for domestic cultivation. Until state-supervised cannabis plantations are set up, the country will continue to rely solely on imported products.

Germany has now been writing formal prescriptions for medical marijuana since March and there are no signs of slowing down. We are excited about the German medical marijuana market and want to highlight three of the companies capitalizing on it.

Aurora Cannabis (ACB.V) (ACBFF) entered Germany’s medical marijuana market in May through the acquisition of Pedanios GmbH, which has been importing, exporting, and distributing medical cannabis into and within the European Union (EU) since December 2015.

Pedanios holds all required licenses and permits and is a federally licensed medical and narcotic wholesale and GMP inspected narcotic import business. The company wholesales medical marijuana to more than 750 pharmacies and offers the largest variety of products. When Germany’s new law came into effect in March, Pedanios’ monthly sales doubled and we expect Aurora to report strong numbers from this segment of its business.

Canopy Growth Corp (TWMJF) (WEED.TO) was one of the first Canadian licensed medical marijuana producers to enter Germany and the company has the largest and most significant global presence.

In 2016, Canopy Growth acquired MedCann GmbH Pharma and Nutraceuticals, a German-based pharmaceutical distributor that has placed Tweed-branded cannabis strains in German pharmacies. MedCann is federally licensed by the German Health Ministry to import, manufacture and distribute medical cannabis products.

We are favorable on Canopy Growth’s global presence and the company is also capitalizing on the medical marijuana markets in Australia and Chile.

Another Canadian licensed medical marijuana producer looking to take advantage of this market is Maricann Group Inc. (MARI.CN: CSE). In May, Maricann raised $42.5 million (CAD) from The Green Streaming Finance Company to fully fund the expansion of its Ebersbach Facility, which is expected to be completed this month. In return, Green Streaming has the right to purchase 20% of production at an all-in cost and 10% from expansion in Germany (from what they funded).

Nevada sold out of legal marijuana so quickly that the governor endorsed a ‘statement of emergency’

Nevada sold out of legal marijuana so quickly that the governor endorsed a ‘statement of emergency’

Less than two weeks after sales of recreational marijuana kicked off in Nevada, stores are running out of pot to sell, according to the state’s Department of Taxation.

On Friday, Gov. Brian Sandoval endorsed the department’s call for a “statement of emergency,” which would allow for more licensed distributors, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

Nearly 50 dispensaries in the state have licenses to sell marijuana for recreational use. Those sales got underway on July 1.

But those same retailers do not legally have the authority to restock their inventories.

Alcohol wholesalers have the exclusive rights to move marijuana from growers to retailers in Nevada, as part of a temporary court order that was extended in June by a Carson City district judge. The rule aims to “promote the goal of regulating marijuana similar to alcohol” — and protect liquor stores from losing business as the demand for recreational marijuana rises.

Nevada is the only state with legal marijuana that has such an arrangement.

As of Friday, the Department of Taxation had issued zero distribution licenses to alcohol wholesalers, because of incomplete applications and zoning issues, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

Dispensaries started selling the marijuana they had in stock on July 1. Several establishments told state officials they expected to run out in the coming days.

marijuana recreational dispensary las vegas nevada A customer paying for marijuana products at the dispensary. Ethan Miller/Getty

A statement of emergency could bring relief. The regulation would allow the department to issue distribution licenses to a larger pool of applicants, including those outside the alcohol business. The Nevada Tax Commission is expected to vote on the regulation on Thursday.

Stephanie Klapstein, a spokeswoman for the Department of Taxation, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that a collapsed marijuana market would have far-reaching consequences. A 15% tax on the cultivation of marijuana generates revenue that the state spends on public education.

“A halt in this market will lead to a hole in the state’s school budget,” Klapstein said.

Residents and tourists who are 21 and over can buy up to an ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates — but only while supplies last.

5 towns saved from ruin by the booming legal weed industry

5 towns saved from ruin by the booming legal weed industry

The legal marijuana industry brought in upwards of $4 billion in sales in 2016, according to a new report from the Marijuana Business Daily. And small-town America is riding the high.

In the eight US states where recreational marijuana is legal, the marijuana “green rush” has breathed new life into the rural communities that welcome it. Cultivation facilities, dispensaries, and infused products companies create jobs and tax revenue for the cities and states, which then supports public infrastructure and community efforts.

Here are five towns that came back from the brink thanks to legal weed.

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Residents of Sedgwick, Colorado, were in talks to disband the town when a medical marijuana dispensary opened for business.
Residents of Sedgwick, Colorado, were in talks to disband the town when a medical marijuana dispensary opened for business.
Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia Commons
Population: 150

A small town on the Colorado prairie saw its economy tumble in the early 2000s. The buildings were in disrepair. As one resident, a town clerk, put it, “It was turning into a ghost town.”

Local officials began having serious discussions about unincorporating Sedgwick when the town passed an ordinance to allow a medical marijuana dispensary to open in 2012. People traveled from across the state and from nearby Nevada, where marijuana had yet to be legalized, to buy their bud in Sedwick. The lone dispensary expanded into recreational sales.

Dilapidated buildings began renovations. A “4-20 friendly” bed and breakfast took the place of a former bank. The tax revenue generated from medical and recreational marijuana sales allowed the town to build a maintenance fund that pays for new street signs and equipment.

Adelanto, California, struggled to recover when its largest employer, an Air Force base, left town. Legal marijuana gave respectable jobs to people..
Adelanto, California, struggled to recover when its largest employer, an Air Force base, left town. Legal marijuana gave respectable jobs to people..
Damian Dovarganes/AP
Population: 33,000

A sleepy city located in San Bernardino County, Adelanto is what’s called “a drive-through town.” Few outsiders stay long. About 40% of the population lives below the poverty line.

In 2014, Adelanto was in debt for $2.4 million. A year later, the first industrial-scale marijuana cultivation site sprung up. That defecit is now half a million dollars, and the mayor tells LA Weekly he expects pot taxes to inject millions into the city coffers. The cost of land has also risen.

More commercial grow facilities have opened, giving blue-collar workers without college degrees the opportunity to make liveable wages. The tax revenue generated by marijuana cultivators is expected to pay for new housing, shops, and a concrete plant later in 2017.

Pueblo County, Colorado, home of one of the largest legal open-air marijuana farms in America, is sending students to college on the $425,000 in pot taxes it made.
Pueblo County, Colorado, home of one of the largest legal open-air marijuana farms in America, is sending students to college on the $425,000 in pot taxes it made.
Brennan Linsley/AP
Population: 161,000

Pueblo County, once an economic center of the state’s plains, has been struggling to recover from a collapsed steel industry. Its unemployment rate, at 7.2%, ranks among the highest in Colorado. But newcomers have migrated there in recent years, hoping to find work in weed.

Since the first dispensary opened in Pueblo County in 2014, cultivation facilities, infused products manufacturers, and over 100 retailers have created more than 1,300 jobs in the industry. In 2015, more than one-third of construction projects there were tied to marijuana.

The county’s economic recovery is ongoing. But county officials say the industry generates almost $4 million in annual tax revenue, which funds 4H and Future Farmers of America efforts, medical marijuana research at Colorado State University Pueblo, and a first-of-its-kind scholarship program that will send graduating high school seniors to local universities this fall.

Huntington, Oregon, sells legal marijuana to more customers than there are residents.
Huntington, Oregon, sells legal marijuana to more customers than there are residents.
Wikimedia Commons
Population: 435

Every year since 2000, a dusty Oregon border town has seen its population grow smaller. The cement factory moved away, and the dwindling residents of Huntington began to lose hope.

But where a convenience store and a car service station once stood, a pair of marijuana dispensaries are thriving. They serve as many as 600 customers a day, with many coming from Idaho, where marijuana is still illegal. (It is a federal crime to transport marijuana across state lines.) The lines can reach up to two and a half hours, so people visit the local restaurants to pass the time.

Huntington expects to rake in over $100,000 in pot taxes in 2017. The town’s mayor hopes to put the money toward repairing streets and hiring a full-time EMT and ambulance.

Trinidad, Colorado, went from ghost town to marijuana boom town.
Trinidad, Colorado, went from ghost town to marijuana boom town.
David Zalubowski/AP
Population: 8,200

In Trinidad, a former mining town located 11 miles north of the New Mexico border, vacant stores line the streets. Half of the city’s water pipes were installed more than a century ago.

The legal marijuana industry has fished the small town from the “abyss of nothingness,” according to one longtime resident. Sixteen dispensaries — including one located inside an old Pepsi factory — supply a steady stream of customers, many with out-of-state license plates.

In 2015, city officials began to transform the town using a portion of the $850,000 in annual tax revenue generated by medical and recreational marijuana sales. They replaced 140-year-old brick streets and the dilapidated water pipes. The town also bought a new fire engine.

In 2016, Trinidad more than doubled its pot tax revenues from the year prior.

Victoria Is Importing Medicinal Cannabis From Canada to Treat Epileptic Kids

Victoria Is Importing Medicinal Cannabis From Canada to Treat Epileptic Kids

A locally-grown supply won’t be ready in time.

Last month, VICE reported Victoria had harvested Australia’s first ever state-grown medicinal cannabis crop, which would be distributed to young epilepsy patients sometime this year. Today, the Victorian Government announced that while this local cannabis is being tested and prepared, it will distribute cannabidiol medication fast tracked from Canada to 29 critically ill children as a stopgap measure.

Through the import scheme, the Andrews Government hopes to keep its promise of delivering medicinal cannabis to the young patients in a timely fashion. While it estimates local supplies will be ready by the end of the year, the government’s media release acknowledges that, “For families with the most severely ill children, every day without this life-changing medicine is one day too long.”

“This is too important to wait. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to make sure those families in the greatest need can access this life-changing treatment for their kids as soon as possible,” Premier Daniel Andrews commented.

“This is the first time in Victoria kids with severe epilepsy will be able to legally access medicinal cannabis.”

A small amount of cannabidiol oral solution has been purchased from Canadian company Tilray, and it arrived in Melbourne late last week. Tilray is Canada’s leading supplier of medicinal cannabis products, describing itself as the country’s only “Good Manufacturing Practice”-certified purveyor of cannabis. Their website reveals that the company offers a pretty extensive range of products, sadly only available to Canadians.

The imported solution will benefit 29 Victorian children, who’ve been selected by a specialist panel. The children suffer from multiple daily seizures, and “are unable to participate in the normal day to day activities of a child.” It’s hoped that the cannabis medication will ease these symptoms. Other children with severe intractable epilepsy “will be eligible to access the locally grown and manufactured product when it becomes available in the coming months.”

The scheme may be a response to the federal government’s announcement that it will take measures to speed up the delivery process to supply more Australians with safe medicinal cannabis products from overseas. The federal Office of Drug Control estimates that within as few as eight weeks, Australians will be able to purchase from a surplus of imported medicinal cannabis from “approved international sources” until domestic suppliers catch up.

Wherever you are in Australia, it’s slowly getting easier to access medicinal weed.