(6) Pot Talk Arrested in Mexico’s Senate: What We Could Learn

Mexico’s citizens celebrate as Supreme Court declares ban on growing marijuana to be unconstitutional (2015). Photo credited to BBC.

Mexico’s original schedule for legalization hits serious setbacks as legislators miss the Supreme Court’s deadline to submit their final bill. On October 18, three days before the Supreme Court’s deadline, an optimistic Senate committee unveiled the final bill to the public ahead of schedule. But before the bill was actually submitted, legislators were apparently unable to agree on key aspects of the bill in time.

One reason could be the bill’s ground-breaking emphasis on greater licensing privileges for low-income individuals, small farmers, and indigenous groups. The idea behind the final bill was to strengthen vulnerable communities and bolster the country’s economy from the bottom up. Additionally, full-scale legalization could drastically reduce drug-related crimes and shrink revenue sources for cartels.

Ricardo Monreal Ávila, chairman of the Board of Policy Coordination, said in an interview with Excélsior that unprecedented pressure from groups including the United Commissions of Justice, Health and Legislative Studies have caused a “[traffic jam]” in the Senate.

[We are going to begin discussion with parliamentary coordinators and we are going to act with great responsibility, because this is not a ruling we want subjected to external pressure nor altered by outside interests.]

Ávila also emphasized that the Board of Policy Coordination is doing their best to “[shield [legislators] from any external interests or interests outside the Legislative Power.]” How effective these efforts will be are certain to be reflected in the next iteration of the bill. Meanwhile, as legislators debate the details of legalization, Mexico’s Supreme Court is drafting a declaration of general unconstitutionality. This would in effect allow home-grown cannabis in Mexico, but would not legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in the commercial market.

This highlights issues that the United States would consider during it’s own navigation through legalization legislation. First, large cannabis companies like MedMen are among the most influential lobbyists like MedMen (MMNFF) are pushing for legalization. The company started a campaign in Florida to push for legalization, collecting donations and rallying support in the state in the hopes of establishing a strong commercial foothold in the state’s cannabis market. But the time it takes to legalize is especially precious to big business investors in the United States: the company reported a 20% fall in stock following the release of their 2019 fourth quarter earnings. Still, there are those with pockets deep enough to measure a few thousand leagues: corporations like Kraft Heinz and magnates like Warren Buffett are joining the ranks as cannabis investors, and they are in it for the long-haul. Are their interests in federal legalization contingent on great expectations of nigh-exclusive commercial gain, or will they accept substantial licensing privileges for groups similar to those Mexico sought to support?

Mexico’s original bill fired up the nation over the prospect of a new chapter in their socioeconomic makeup. If the bill passes, it would establish a unique system for improving the quality of life for many marginalized citizens and serve as a template for other countries’ programs. But if outside interests will indeed jam legislators indefinitely, the Supreme Court’s declaration of unconstitutionality would give the U.S. insight into the plausibility of home-grown cannabis minus market and industry.

Post #5 Social Media Influencers could be the Best Way for Cannabis Businesses to Grow

Social media influencers are potentially the best way for marijuana businesses to get around advertising restrictions placed on the marijuana market. Advertising is an extremely difficult thing for marijuana businesses to do because of the advertising and marketing limitations imposed upon the cannabis industry. However, social media influencers do not have the same restrictions on them that marijuana businesses do.

Social media influencers are people hired by companies to engage with prospective customers via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other online platforms of social media. Influencers can provide ways for marijuana companies to advertise their products because the influencers have built up trust with their followers and thus can impact their purchasing decisions. Influencers are also able to broadcast company messages in places that the marijuana companies themselves cannot.

Natalie Cupps DiBlasi, co-founder of Laced, a strategic digital agency in California that specializes in cannabis marketing, told MJBizDaily,

“Cannabis brands cannot utilize social advertising currently – meaning no Facebook ads, no Instagram ads, no LinkedIn ads, no Pinterest ads, etc. The No. 1 way cannabis brands can get their message out there is through influencers.”

Although this is not the primary focus of this blog, it should also be noted that influencers should follow this guideline in order to limit the risk of getting their social media shut down. Though it may not be incredibly likely, some social media platforms such as Instagram, have shut down cannabis accounts on their platform.

In conclusion, cannabis businesses should definitely be looking into using social media influencers as a medium for them to advertise their marijuana business in a legal manner. However, they should try to ensure that the social media influencers are aware of the potential risks with posting cannabis related content on their profile, and the social media influencers themselves should also be aware of these risks and the ways they can limit the possibility of being penalized for posting cannabis related content.

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California Outlaws Smoking Marihuana on Tour Busses

Governor Newsom signed a bill that outlaws smoking marihuana on tour busses and in limousines, etc… because of safety concerns that drivers could potentially be affected by second-hand smoke.

The bill in favor of outlawing smoking marihuana on tour busses and in limousines, was proposed in response to another bill that intended to explicitly allow marihuana to be smoked in those types of vehicles; as long as no one under 21 was in the vehicle and the driver was sealed off from the smoking area. The bill outlawing the smoking of marihuana on tourist vehicles was signed by the governor just before this year’s October 13th deadline for enacting new bills.

Supporters of the bill argued that there was no way to effectively seal the driver off from the smoking area because most dividers in those types of vehicles could be opened and closed. Another argument was that marihuana has become more potent which creates a high risk of impairment from inhaling second-hand smoke.

Opponents of the bill argued that this will negatively impact the tourism industry. Business who have worked hard to establish and promote their cannabis tour businesses claim that this law will drive customers away. They claim that there has not been an incident with any cannabis tour drivers that would suggest that this type of law is needed. They also argue that Proposition 64 had overwhelming voter support in California and lawmakers should honor that support, instead of restricting its usage.

Some tour businesses, such as Green tours, should not have a problem with the new law. Green Tours operates its business out of a black, Mercedes-Benz van and already prohibits smoking cannabis in the van to prevent the driver from becoming under the influence. Other companies, such as Green Line, have always allowed smoking in the tour van because the driver’s compartment is separated from the cab.

Cannabis tour operators have already faced a variety of business challenges. They were unable to promote their services on established websites like Expedia or Trip Advisor. Most online forums are not very willing to promote advertisements for cannabis related businesses, even for tour companies who do not sell any cannabis or cannabis products. Tour operators have had to rely on word of mouth, distribution of pamphlets, or European based travel websites. They argue that this new law will only create more road blocks for the cannabis industry.

 

Death by Vape: Synthetic Marijuana or CBD?

A laboratory test commissioned by the Associated Press found that many popular vape oils advertised as containing only CBD, also contained traces of synthetic marijuana. A survey of law enforcement agencies across all 50 states proved that these same results were found by various local authorities. At least 128 out of more than 350 samples tested in government labs returned results with synthetic marijuana in products marketed as CBD. Nearly all of these hits were found in vape products, with 36 of the hits coming from a type of edible product like gummy bears or brownies. 

Synthetic marijuana is known to have severe adverse affects on its users, with very few legitimate distributors available. The substance makes its way into different markets through contamination or duplication. These corruptions have now made their way over to the CBD/hemp market – with many products labeled as containing 100% CBD, also being contaminated with synthetic marijuana. 

CBD, the acronym for Cannabidiol, is made from hemp. Hemp is a cannabis derived substance that has been said to reduce pain, calm anxiety, increase focus, and even prevent disease. CBD, unlike THC (another chemical found in cannabis), does not get its users high. The CBD/Hemp market is quickly rising in demand and popularity by the day. With that being said, synthetic marijuana has plunged itself into the CBD market for one major reason – it simply costs less. Synthetic marijuana can be found for as low as $25 per pound, where a pound of CBD costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. 

As of September 2019, officials counted at least 805 confirmed and probable cases of vaping-related injuries reported by 46 states. At least twelve deaths have been confirmed in ten states. Many of these, attributed to contamination of synthetic marijuana. 

Jay Jenkins was a freshman at The Citadel, a South Carolina military college when he tried a blueberry flavored CBD vape oil called “YOLO!”. Jenkins said:

“Immediately after trying the vape, things got hazy, then terrifying. The nerves in [my] mouth felt like they were multiplied by 10. Vivid images including a circle engulfed by darkness and filled with colorful triangles filled his mind before I drifted out of consciousness, and realized I could not move. I thought that I actually was already dead.”

After an emergency visit to the hospital, Jenkins suffered acute respiratory failure and fell into a coma – he was not released until the next day. A lab testing confirmed that the “YOLO!” cartridge contained a type of synthetic marijuana that had taken the lives of at least 11 in Europe. The same blueberry flavored CBD vape oil sickened at least 33 people in Utah. State and federal authorities could not identify who made “YOLO!”, which is a consequence of the weak handle on the regulation of the CBD/hemp market. 

It is the job of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, to stop the sale of contaminated products within the CBD/hemp market – however, they have not been very stringent in their attempts. It can be inferred that not much attention was put on the contamination of products within the CBD/hemp market, before the sudden spike in vape related deaths – many of which are due to synthetic marijuana contamination. Even after the spike, however, many of the DEA’s agents are still attacking opioids and other narcotics first. The DEA says it is focused on drugs responsible for killing thousands of Americans like fentanyl and methamphetamines. 

While this is understandable, it can be expected for more regulations to be placed on the CBD/hemp market, along with more monitoring of its production and distribution after the number of vape related deaths continues to grow. Without a clear handle being put on the safety of its users, the CBD/hemp market will likely experience a significant drop – especially with its vape related products.

Get high, get fired? It depends.

Prior to the legalization of marijuana by many states, a positive test for marijuana could result in immediate termination at many companies due to the illegality of the substance and zero-tolerance policies. Now, rapidly changing state regulations have complicated this issue. Can an employer discriminate against someone based on what legal substances they use outside of the workplace? What about the medical substances they use while at work? Is this covered by the American Disabilities Act (ADA)? These are the types of employment law questions arising in light of state legalization, and the answers vary depending on the state. Each state has its own policy and they differentiate between on-duty vs. off-duty use and between medical vs. recreational use.

Off-Duty Use

Medicinal

Fourteen states have passed regulations requiring that employers do not discriminate based on medical marijuana use. Those 14 states are Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.

Recreational

Two states, Maine and Nevada, have prohibited discrimination based on marijuana use outside of the workplace—period—whether that be recreational or medicinal.

On-Duty Use

Workplaces maintain the right to have a drug-free workplace. Because marijuana remains a federally illegal substance, it is currently not believed to be protected by the American-Disabilities Act. Thus, employers are free to terminate an employee based on their marijuana use at work, even if it is medicinal.

One major problem with this is the lack of testing for whether someone is currently impaired or not. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid within marijuana that makes someone feel “high.” This can remain in someone’s system for up to a week, making them test positive for marijuana. Thus, the difficulty lies in how employers can discern whether an employee is currently impaired due to marijuana use at the workplace, or whether the THC has remained in their system due to legal use outside of the workplace.

The Ripple Effects of The Vaping Crisis

Over the last month, news of a mysterious lung illness connected to vapor smoke products has dominated headlines. The majority of these illness’s have been linked to illegally manufactured Cannabis derivative vapor products, which has led to a cascade of negative effects within the industry.

Since the end of August, there have been multiple deaths and nearly 400 total reported cases of a mysterious lung disease, and each patient has one thing in common: consistent use of vapor products. While some of the patient’s attribute nicotine vaping to their illness, the majority of the cases can be linked to vapor products containing marijuana and specifically its psychoactive compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Not only has there been a human toll resulting from illness and death, there has been an economic toll that is further adding to the volatility of the cannabis financial market.

Before the vaping crisis began, the compounds used in vaping — cannabis wax and oils – comprised 20% of the legal marijuana market. This market share was enjoying continued growth due to the clean taste and lower aromatic properties of the vapor. Only one case of the mysterious lung disease has been connected to legal THC vapor, but state governments have been quick to issue broad warnings. California has advised all consumers so stop all use of THC vapor, as have multiple east coast states. These state advisor’s combined with media coverage of the crisis has caused multiple marijuana producers’ stocks to freefall over the last month.

Market juggernaut Aurora Cannabis has lost 30% of its stock value, while their competitor Cronos has lost 26%. Other companies have been downgraded by credit agency’s due to vaping related concerns. Many companies have devoted nearly all of their resources to the once growing vapor sub industry, but those plans could be put on the back burner. And these plans may be there to stay.

Without verification of what is causing the vaping crisis, the industry may be taking a long-term hit. There is almost zero research being done on the safety of marijuana vaporizer’s, and there is very little researching going into the vapor crisis. As broad advisory’s (and perhaps future bans) are issued by state health departments, the legal market may disappear. This in turn could leave the illegal market as the only way to obtain THC vapes. Being that nearly all of the mysterious lung illness’s have come from illegal vapor products, unintended consequences may arise from such an industry shutdown.

As with many of the issues within the cannabis industry, more research into the vaping crisis needs to be done. For the time being, the ripple effect the crisis has had on the industry continues to be felt and may not be close to being over.

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Cannabis and Exercise: An Unlikely Duo

Marijuana use and exercise are not activities regularly associated with each other, but preliminary research is indicating that this unlikely duo may be a a match made in athletic heaven.

Usually cannabis use is associated with being stuck to your couch while indulging in one’s favorite snack. Many early marijuana studies attributed its use to loss of motivation, loss of memory, and decreased motor function, but athletes around the United States are bucking that trend thanks to a subdivision of cannabis research referred to as “strain science.”

Strain science can best be described as the selective cross pollination of cannabis plants to produce strains with specific desired traits. In selectively breeding certain strains of marijuana, cultivators can design and create cannabis that produces certain physiological effects in people. Strain science is readily seen with recreational users who desire certain psychoactive effects when ingesting marijuana, but strain science has changed the way people exercise.

Different strains of marijuana have been known to have different effects on users. Depending on what the user desires, whether it be a range of effects from sleep to enhanced mood, there are certain strains with certain chemicals that work better than others. Those seeking exercise benefits would not want the same strain as someone seeking sleep, which makes the selection of strain important.

Early studies have shown that cannabis high in concentrations of Cannabidiol (CBD) may be best for those seeking exercise benefits. CBD is a broad name for over 100 compounds found in cannabis. Recent research indicates that CBD may cross various membranes within the body more readily than traditional anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen. Given their transmembrane capabilities, these compounds have been noted to reduce inflammation which can lead to faster recovery after injury. Because soreness from working out results from micro tears (essentially micro injuries) to muscle tissue, the link between CBD and improved recovery appears logical.

But it is not only recovery where athletes may feel the difference. A recent study found that those who consume marijuana containing the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) prior to working out tend to be more motivated to complete longer, more intense workouts. This may be attributed to the creation of a synthetic “runners high.”

Anandamide, one of the two cannabinoids your body produces naturally, is one of the underlying factors in the production of what athletes describe as the “runners high.” Researchers theorize that the cannabinoids in cannabis may also innervate the anandamide receptors in one’s body, leading to more motivation while exercising.

Although athletes around the country swear by marijuana’s concentration enhancement and body recovery capabilities, more research needs to be done. As more states legalize cannabis and cannabis by-products such as CBD, more athletes will have access to specific strains that can specifically target their exercise needs. As strain science – and cannabis research in general – continues to grow, the unlikely relationship between exercise and marijuana may one day find itself married to worldwide athletics.

Marijuana Door Dash to Your Home

Massachusett’s Cannabis Control Commission has just approved home delivery as a new way for consumers to purchase and receive recreational marijuana. 

Since the 2016 election, Massachusetts has rapidly accepted the use of recreational marijuana. The state started by allowing its citizens to legally carry up to 1 ounce on them and up to 10 ounces in their homes. And last year, the state finally granted recreational licenses for retailers. In the first two months, recreational shops made over $24 million in sales, and the state received about $4 million in tax revenue.

Needless to say, the marijuana industry is thriving, so the Commission has decided to take the next step and allow licensed retailers to deliver recreational marijuana. On top of its added convenience, marijuana delivery may promote privacy and safety. Although marijuana is legal, many consumers, particularly parents of underage children, want to purchase the drug privately. By scheduling a delivery, parents may privately purchase the drug without leaving their homes. This will also help prevent a consumer’s temptation to drive while under the influence.

Understandably, the Commission will tightly regulate the delivery program. First, the Commission will prohibit deliveries to consumers in university housing, hotels, and federally subsidized housing. And before placing an order, consumers will have to visit the marijuana retailer to verify their ages. During deliveries, drivers will have to carry vehicle and body cameras.

Marijuana is still primarily a cash business, so even with strict safety measures, many are still worried about increasing its scope of business. Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan, the only dissent vote for the new policy, believes this policy is premature:

“I think we need to stand up this industry, making sure the retail and cultivation and microbusinesses all get priority before we start to do home delivery and social consumption.”

Moreover, others are worried about the increased risk of robbery for delivery drivers carrying large amounts of marijuana and cash, even with the security cameras.

The new policy will likely take about two months to go into effect. So whether the safety concerns prove to be legitimate remains to be seen. But for now, it looks like it’s time to check the App Store and download the latest delivery apps.