The Wink In Weed: Why You Should Join Me At CCC PDX

By David Rheins

2018 will be a crucial year for the legal cannabis industry.  Five years after the first adult-use marijuana marketplaces opened in Colorado and Washington, our industry has grown large and gone mainstream.  Big and getting bigger, with the opening of the California and Nevada markets, Oregon is now part of a contiguous legal West Coast spanning from Canada to Mexico. CannaFest Destiny has never seemed more apparent, and competition never more fierce.

Legal cannabis production has never been higher, while wholesale prices have never been lower.  The harsh reality for an industry that is hyper-competitive, overtaxed and over-regulated, is that for most licensees profit margins have never been tighter.  Many mom and pops have already sold out, and many more are on that fence.  Add to this the recent saber rattling of drug-warrior-turned-Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, and it is easy to see that for many in the industry, 2018 has begun as a time of great uncertainty and anxiety.

CCCPDX issues an industry call to action

CCCPDX issues an industry call to action

As I wrote in my “Open Letter to Jeff Sessions,”  now is the time for industry leaders, businesses and supporters to stand united.  We must show that not only has our legal industry become a vital engine of reform and economic activity —  generating hundreds of millions in new tax revenues — but we have reinvigorated communities across the country by creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

The industry has arrived at a critical juncture in its evolution, and Oregon is on the front lines of the fight for an independent legal industry.  As the Cannabis Collaborative Conference’s Mary Lou Burton puts it, “The CCC has grown up with the industry in Oregon.  Now three years into full legalization, we no longer need to offer cannabis 101 education.  Now we are focused on education geared towards successfully and profitably operating in the current environment. ”

Differentiate: The commercialization and mainstreaming of the legal cannabis industry has put enormous pressure on licensees , who must focus on building brand equity and establishing effective marketing practices that will allow them to stand out from the competition.  I’m delighted to be moderating the marketing panel discussion at CCC this year, where along with canna-brand experts Stephen Gold, The Daily Leaf; Sean Lucas, NUG Digital Marketing; and Ryan Michael, KindTyme, we will discuss the top branding and marketing trends  that every canna-marketer must know. 

Activate: Congressman Earl Blumenauer will once again deliver a keynote speech at the conference. “This is a call to action.” he said in response to the Sessions announcement. “It’s time for anyone who cares about cannabis to mobilize to defend state marijuana laws.”

Burton added, “come together with fellow law abiding and tax paying professionals in the Cannabis Industry and unite!  CCC 4.0 provides the perfect opportunity to ban together and show the media and the world that we will not back down.”

REGISTER TODAY and receive $50 off (promo code: CCC50)

MMJ International Holdings Pursuing Legal FDA Cannabis Medicine Approval

NEW YORK: MMJ International Holdings announced that its affiliate, MMJ Bioscience, has finalized a partnership agreement with Terra Life Science group, a private Canadian based pharmaceutical manufacturer, to produce cannabis medicines for the groups FDA approved studies.

Last weeks announcement by Attorney General Sessions on the recision of the Cole Memorandum positions MMJ International Holdings as one of the only privately help companies pursuing the legal regulatory guidelines designated by the federal government for approval of a cannabis medicine.

Tim Moynahan, MMJ BioSciences chairman stated, ”The seasoned leadership team at MMJ BioSciences understands and executes its progressive development strategy in a legal, regulatory and fiscally responsible manner. Our company’s success is the result of our focus on identifying patient medical needs and addressing these patients needs by developing FDA approved medicines from the cannabis plant.”

Tim Moynahan added, ”We are excited to be a partner with Terra Life Sciences. This agreement enables MMJ BioScience with a significant product development capability. We anticipate a number of important synergies between the two companies that will be addressing patients needs with MMJ BioScience’s U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) multiple sclerosis study beginning soon.”

Dr. Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MMJ BioScience’s principal investigator is a Professor of Neurology at the State University of New York at Buffalo who serves as Executive Director of the New York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium. Dr. Weinstock-Guttman will oversee the FDA approved study exploring the potential therapeutic applications of cannabinoids for progressive multiple sclerosis patients.

In late 2017 MMJ BioScience had submitted an application with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of a new pharmaceutical drug. As a result of FDA application and Terra Life Sciences partnership, MMJ Bioscience now will offer excellence in cannabinoid medicine manufacturing that solves dosing issues by utilizing various delivery systems such as softgel pills, liquids, topical sprays and liposomes, with capabilities for quick release, sustained release and targeted release of cannabinoid medicines. Unlike other cannabis-type medicines, MMJ BioScience’s medicine is plant derived. When approval is received from the FDA the new medicine would be on sale across America as an approved drug.

MMJ BioScience’s expected approval by the FDA for its new medicine would have a major impact on the state to state federally illegal cannabis industry. In addition to Attorney General Sessions recent recision of the Cole Memorandum the FDA had also issued several cease and desist letters to firms that are marketing unapproved cannabinoid products. Whereas non-pharmaceutical companies cannot export their products across state lines, MMJ BioScience would be able to sell its medicine in pharmacies once prescribed by physicians.

Open Letter To Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Editorial by David Rheins, Founder/Executive Director of the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) and publisher of the MJ News Network.

 

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

Speaking on behalf of the tens of thousands of legal cannabis businesses, and the more than 150,000 workers employed in the legal cannabis industry, we ask you to rethink your decision to rescind the Cole Memorandum.  Cannabis Prohibition has been a costly-disaster — for the country at large, and to millions of Americans who have been arrested, imprisoned, lost jobs and scholarships, all for the use or possession of small amounts of a plant.  We ask that you end this failed policy, and join the majority of Americans on both sides of the political spectrum who recognize is time to move beyond the failed policies of America’s War on Drugs.

In the five years since the voters of Colorado and Washington voted in adult-use cannabis, we have witnessed the birth of a responsible, professional industry that serves millions of adult customers in a safe and compliant manner.  Working effectively with state regulators, the legal cannabis industry is growing responsibly, and building the foundations of a scaleable, profitable industry — one that is already generating hundreds of millions in new state tax revenues, creating jobs and economic vitality in once-depressed communities.

The legal cannabis industry is led by socially-responsible business leaders who share your concern about the opioid crisis.  Under legalization, cannabis products are carefully inspected, tested, packaged and sold under strict State supervision.   Licensed retail establishments are required to maintain rigorous security and compliance technology, and customers are carded, oftentimes twice, to ensure no illegal sales to minors happens.

Our legal industry — which represents the fastest growing segment of our economy — operates at a severe disadvantages.  As a result of being considered a Schedule 1 drug, legal state businesses are unable to secure loans or commercial credit, are banned from working with many banks, and pay penalizing fees, surcharges and taxes.

In the past five years, the legal cannabis industry has been encouraged by the support of enlightened politicians from both parties who seek to move beyond prohibition. We thank folks like Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, along with Senator Cory Booker, Senator Rand Paul and backers of the CARERS Act for their fine work.  It is a start, but there is much work to be done to unravel the hairball of failed policy that 80 years of prohibition has woven.  

Attorney General Sessions, please rethink your decision and join us — we seek a partner in the Federal Government, not an adversary — as together we work to redefine a post-prohibition America.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

David Rheins

 

NORML Responds: White House Threatens To Crack Down On Legal Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Trump administration will step up enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana. “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said, and added that the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”

The Department of Justice is lead by Jeff Sessions, a renowned ardent marijuana prohibitionist.

“If the Trump administration goes through with a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana they will be taking billions of dollars away from state sanctioned businesses and putting that money back into the hands of drug cartels. This action will lead to swift backlash from the 71% of Americans that think marijuana policy should be dictated by the states and is a foolish and reckless direction to take our country. Sad.” said Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML.

The Press Secretary’s comments are similar to those made by Sen. Sessions during his vetting process when he made clear that any use of marijuana remains against federal law and that “it is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

“Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions both hold views that are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws regarding marijuana in over half of the states in this country,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director of NORML. “The fact that President Trump would allow his Attorney General to pursue a path that is so politically unpopular and contrary to will of numerous states is absurd.”

Ultimately, patients and others in legal jurisdictions will only truly be safe from federal prosecution when and if members of Congress elect to amend federal marijuana laws in a manner that comports with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status. Congressional passage of HR 975, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ which NORML supports and/or re-authorization of the Rohrabacher-Farr (now to be introduced as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer) amendment would be steps in the right direction to protect patients and others in legal states from undue federal interference.

If federal politicians were truly listening to the will of the electorate, they would move forward to enact these changes, which are strongly in line with voters’ sentiments. According to national polling data released today, 71 percent of voters — including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans — say that they “oppose the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.”

In short, undermining voters’ wishes and state laws in this regard not only defies common sense, it is also bad politics — particularly for an administration that is defining itself as populist in nature.

For more information, please contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at justin@norml.org

NORML Responds To Jeff Sessions Being Confirmed As Attorney General

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Despite historic opposition to a nominee for Attorney General, today Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL) has been confirmed to assume the role of our nation’s top law enforcement official.

“Jeff Sessions’ views are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws regarding marijuana in over half of the states in this country. Our elected officials, now more than ever, know that marijuana policy is at the forefront of the minds of American voters and that we are willing and able to mobilize for it,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML, “We will never stop fighting for further marijuana reforms at the state level and much needed federal policy changes. With Americans throughout the country organizing and taking action, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.”

Senator Sessions is a militant opponent of any efforts to reform marijuana policy who once notoriously remarked that the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s.

In fact, he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements including: “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,” and ” cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

 

Marijuana Advocates Tell Senators #JustSayNoToSessions

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Yesterday, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and its supporters organized a “Day of Action” to mobilize opposition to the appointment of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General.

“Senator Sessions’ views are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with laws throughout a majority of states,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “We must demand that Senators on the Judiciary Committee ask this nominee whether he intends to respect the will of the voters in these states and whether he truly believes that no ‘good people’ have ever smoked pot. If he truly believes such outdated Reefer Madness rhetoric, then he should not be the next Attorney General.”

Participants from over the country flooded their Senators phone lines to demand that if Senator Sessions refuses to agree to respect state marijuana laws, members of the Senate should refuse to confirm him as Attorney General. The effort was promoted online with the hashtag #JustSayNoToSessions.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Sen. Sessions will possess the power to roll back decades of hard-fought gains. He will have the authority to challenge the medical marijuana programs that now operate in 29 states and the adult use legalization laws that have been approved in eight states.

MPP Statement Regarding the Nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Marijuana Policy Project released the following statement Friday in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to nominate Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as attorney general.

Statement from MPP Director of Communications Mason Tvert:

“President-elect Trump has said on multiple occasions that he respects states’ right to establish their own marijuana policies. We would expect appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president to stick to the president’s position on this subject. It would certainly be controversial if Sen. Sessions completely defied the president who appointed him.

“The vast majority of Americans agree with President-elect Trump’s position that marijuana policy should largely be left to the states. A huge majority of voters share Trumps support for legal access to medical marijuana, and a steadily growing majority believes marijuana should be legal for adults. We remain hopeful that the incoming administration will refrain from interfering in state laws that were adopted by voters or their elected representatives in order to control marijuana and improve the health and safety of their communities. 

“There is a large and growing sentiment in Congress and among the American public that our federal government should not be wasting tax dollars enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws. We hope Sen. Sessions or whoever is confirmed as our next attorney general will use federal law enforcement resources to protect our country’s citizens, not to defy the laws those citizens have adopted.”