January, 2018

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'Marijuana' or 'cannabis'? Supes decide

'Marijuana' or 'cannabis'? Supes decide

Tuesday’s Yolo County Board of Supervisors meeting saw a small step for county officials, but a giant leap for cannabis advocates everywhere.

It’s been over a year since Californians voted for legal adult use of cannabis, and Yolo County officials finally opted to officially refer to the plant as “cannabis” and not “marijuana,” a word the industry has tried to shake for decades.

The small difference took all of two minutes for supervisors to discuss, when District 2 Supervisor Don Saylor said he wasn’t sure of the difference, has been encouraged to call it “cannabis.” Likewise, the state uses that language on their documents.

County Counsel Phil Pogledich said staff simply rolled with the way other jurisdictions “framed their tax measures.” He said that of 21 different jurisdictions the county has studied up on, all 21 have included the M-word when speaking about cannabis on the tax ballot.

So what’s the actual difference between marijuana and cannabis? The meaning behind the words.

Both words — along with a slew of others that make writing about the plant very interesting — refer to the plant itself. Terms like “pot,” “weed,” “gonja,” “Mary Jane,” “dro,” “dope,” “dank,” “grass,” “hemp,” “hash,” “trees,” “puff,” “cush,” “devil’s weed,” “reefer,” “skunk,” “medicine,” “sticky-icky,” “chronic,” “bud” and “herb” make writing puns easy, but each word comes laced with a history and vernacular, some more pejorative than others.

“Marijuana” marks a throwback to the war-on-drugs era stapled to Ronald Reagan’s Presidency. Many believe prohibitionist officials then donned the Spanish word to suggest the plant was introduced by Mexican immigrants. That said, the word has been considered simultaneously misleading and racist. Other slang words for the plant may allude to a colorful history, but not the war on drugs.

The term “cannabis,” on the other hand, is the common handle for the plant on a scientific level.

Supervisors, most of whom were not privy to this idea, had no problems adding that suggestion to their motion. During that meeting, supervisors voted to move toward a cannabis tax measure that will appear on the June 5 ballot.

Pogledich said that “marijuana” may have been used on ballots as a voter recognition issue. Many Yoloans who were alive during the war on drugs, and would identify the plant with the term “marijuana.”

“I prefer to call it ‘sacrament,’” snarked District 3 Supervisor Matt Rexroad, referring to an illegal grower that operated in the Capay Valley for years under the guise of Rastafarianism.

The recommendation will do little to affect the county’s budget. In fact, a simple “control-F” search on digital documents should swap the words out in a manner of minutes.


In fact, Yolo County’s current policy has a clause that states that when the word “marijuana” is used, the document means “cannabis.”

“I’m OK with using cannabis,” said Jim Provenza of District 4. “Well, not using it, but using the term.”

Contact Hans Peter at 530-406-6238.

Source: 'Marijuana' or 'cannabis'? Supes decide

Federal prosecutor unlikely to pursue low-level marijuana crimes despite Sessions memo

Federal prosecutor unlikely to pursue low-level marijuana crimes despite Sessions memo

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions did away with the Obama-era, hands-off approach to recreational marijuana, he left the door open to a new federal crackdown on the drug.

He also left the discretion for any stepped-up enforcement in the laps of his local prosecutors.

In Western New York, where the recreational use of marijuana is still illegal, Sessions’ high-profile actions raised the question: Will there be changes in the type of marijuana cases prosecuted here?

Three weeks later, there are no dramatic signs of a crackdown on pot and, to the contrary, there’s an expectation that little will change.

Criminal defense lawyers say the biggest reason is U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr., a career prosecutor who, like his predecessor, has a long history of pursuing only the most serious marijuana cases.

“There’s a lot of legal and political uncertainty,” said Buffalo defense attorney Cheryl Meyers-Buth. “But I don’t expect much to change in terms of the number or type of marijuana prosecutions in our district.”

The speculation over possible changes in Kennedy’s handling of marijuana cases began earlier this month when Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, the Obama-era policy allowing federal prosecutors in states where the drug is legal to focus resources elsewhere even though marijuana was still illegal under federal law.

Sessions’ announcement also came as medical marijuana advocates fought to preserve another protection – a congressional amendment barring federal prosecutors from interfering in state-run medical marijuana programs such as the one in New York State. The amendment expires Feb. 8.

Kennedy, who was appointed by Sessions, not President Trump, said the attorney general’s action restores “the rule of law” and clarifies his office’s role in enforcing the laws Congress adopted.

“With his memo, the Attorney General is giving U.S. Attorneys local control to utilize familiar and long-established prosecutorial principles to determine how best to fulfill our ongoing obligation to deploy our finite resources to reduce violent crime in our community, stem the tide of the drug crisis and dismantle criminal gangs,” he said in a written statement to The Buffalo News.

In short, Kennedy added, “he is quite simply telling us to do our jobs.”

Kennedy’s statement is likely to be viewed as a message that his office will continue to focus on what his predecessor, William J. Hochul Jr., called the “worst of the worst.”

“The types of marijuana cases that have historically been prosecuted in Buffalo and Rochester have been high-volume, grow operation or interstate transport cases, or have some connection to violence,” said Timothy W. Hoover, a Buffalo attorney and vice president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Hoover doesn’t expect that to change, and neither does Herbert L. Greenman, a prominent Buffalo defense lawyer.

Greenman, who is currently representing a client in a high-quantity marijuana case, thinks Sessions’ actions are directed at states where pot is legal, not at states like New York where recreational use is still against the law.

And like Hoover, he doesn’t think Kennedy will change the type of marijuana cases he prosecutes.

“To me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Greenman said of Sessions’ decision to do away with the government’s hands-off approach in states where the drug is legal. “This is definitely a step in the opposite direction.”

Greenman believes government should “temper” its marijuana prosecutions, especially when they involve nonviolent offenders. But he also has serious doubts about legalization, particularly its health effects, and thinks the states that have legalized it have yet to even study those issues.

And yet, he also sees firsthand the prosecution of marijuana cases in Buffalo federal court and the penalties for possession of larger quantities, which are still severe.

“People are still going to jail,” Greenman said.

In 2013, during a speech to the American Bar Association, another attorney general, Eric Holder, offered a far different type of directive to his prosecutors.

Holder, eager to reduce the federal prison population and the disparities in how white and black defendants are treated by the criminal justice system, told his U.S. attorneys to focus less on low-level drug cases and more on violent, gang-related drug crimes.

At the time, Hochul said his office already had a long track record doing what Holder suggested – focusing on drug cases that involve violence, gangs or large-scale criminal organizations.

On the surface, Sessions’ repeal of the Cole memo would seem to suggest that a new, tougher approach to marijuana is on the horizon. But defense lawyers are skeptical, and one off the reasons is because of the local U.S. Attorney’s limited financial resources and ever-expanding agenda of new prosecutorial priorities.

‘They just don’t have the resources to make a difference,” said Buffalo defense attorney Paul G. Dell.

Dell recently represented a Buffalo woman who was caught up in a large-scale marijuana operation and is the type of nonviolent offender defense lawyers point to when asking for leniency.

His client, who was in custody because of her drug addiction, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to time served. U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo also ordered her into a drug treatment program.

Later, when asked about Sessions’ repeal of the Cole memo, Dell said, “I think it’s ridiculous and backwards, and runs contrary to all the science and research we know of.”

Not everyone is worried about the fallout from Sessions’ actions, and there is a growing pool of people who think the backlash, both from the public and Congress, could be strong enough to help the legalization movement.

“I don’t think anyone who uses marijuana is going to be concerned about his actions,” Joel A. Giambra, the former Erie County executive and current candidate for governor, said of Sessions.

Giambra, who was once a lobbyist for the marijuana industry and has made legalizing pot a focal point of his campaign, thinks the attorney general, a longtime opponent of marijuana, has “outlived his usefulness” and in the end may help the legalization cause.

“I think the movement is so strong, we’re at a point where Congress will realize this is an industry that needs to be cultivated, if you’ll excuse the pun,” he said.

Even Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a longtime opponent of legalization, is softening his stance against the recreational use of marijuana.

Cuomo included money to study the economic and social impact of legalization in his 2018 budget.

Source: Federal prosecutor unlikely to pursue low-level marijuana crimes despite Sessions memo

Idaho bill would allow use of cannabis-derived CBD oil

Idaho bill would allow use of cannabis-derived CBD oil


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BOISE — A recently introduced bill would allow residents to use oil extracted from cannabis plants as long as the product is prescribed by a licensed practitioner.

Under the proposed legislation, Idahoans seeking to use the oil for medical purposes for themselves or their minor children would have to apply to the Idaho Board of Pharmacy for a cannabidiol registration card.

Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD oil, comes from cannabis but contains little or no THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis.

“There’s a lot of medicinal qualities to CBD oil,” The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) told EastIdahoNews.com. “From epileptic seizures to fibromyalgia to chemotherapy, you know, nausea and pain from other issues. It is amazing.”

Moon was adamant people need to understand that CBD oil does not come from marijuana. She said CBD oil comes from hemp, which she claims is not the same as a marijuana plant.

“This is not marijuana and I don’t want it confused with marijuana,” Moon said. “This is a substance that is very natural. Obviously, it has medicinal purposes to it and it helps so many people with so many things.”

Moon’s definition isn’t exactly right though.

The DEA defines hemp and marijuana as different parts of the same cannabis plant. Hemp refers to the stalks and sterilized seeds of the plant that is used for making industrial rope, clothing, paper and other products. Marijuana is the flower, leaves and resin of the plant and is generally used for medicinal or recreational purposes as a drug.

The entire cannabis plant can be breed for higher or lower levels of THC and CBD, according to a study published in the American Journal of Botany.

Trey Willison a cannabis breeder originally from Idaho living in Eugene, Oregon said he breeds both THC rich and CBD rich cannabis plants. He explained under Oregon law hemp is any product derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant that only contains 0.3 percent THC before it’s harvested.

Willison told EastIdahoNews.com that other than the amount of TCH in the plants, “the only difference (between the cannabis used for hemp or marijuana) is what side of the fence it’s put on.”

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter vetoed legislation in 2015 that would have allowed children with severe forms of epilepsy to use CBD oil.

“My bill is very different (from the 2015 bill) in the fact that a doctor has to prescribe the CBD oil,” Moon explained. “At that point, when you see your physician he contacts the Board of Pharmacy and through the IT system at the Board of Pharmacy a card will be immediately printed in real time and sent back to the doctor.”

She said this would provide law enforcement with a way to know if the person with CBD oil is authorized to have it. Something the 2015 bill did not do.

Moon said she is confident her bill will be passed.

“I’ve already got 40 co-sponsors,” Moon said. “I expect to see that number go much higher than that. We’ve got 105 legislators in this capital and in two days I’ve already gotten 40.

Currently, 18 states allow use of “low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)” products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense.

The House Health and Welfare Committee introduced the bill Thursday. It must now pass a full hearing.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Source: Idaho bill would allow use of cannabis-derived CBD oil

Atlantic Beach officials debate allowing medical marijuana dispensaries

Atlantic Beach officials debate allowing medical marijuana dispensaries

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – The city of Atlantic Beach debated Saturday whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open up inside the town limits. 

This morning the Atlantic Beach City Commission held a community meeting at City Hall on whether they can be zoned to set up shop after amendment 2 passed in 2016, legalizing medical marijuana in Florida.

The clock is ticking for Atlantic Beach officials to zone medical marijuana in town and whether to allow it. The city has a temporary moratorium that expires in May.

Atlantic Beach residents packed inside City Hall trying to develop an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in Atlantic Beach.

The city is looking at how to zone the dispensaries. Currently, the proposal is 500 feet from schools, churches and other pharmacies.

News4Jax found support for dispensaries, including from Atlantic Beach resident Christine Adams, who doesn’t feel there should be any zoning restrictions.

“I’m not opposed to development of any kind as long as it’s consistent across the board, not anything singled out,” Adams said.

But residents such as Pam Robbins, who works with at-risk teenagers, expressed their concern. Robbins said she thinks opening dispensaries in Atlantic Beach is a bad move.

“(It’s) the beginning of the marijuana industry trying to legalize it statewide like Colorado, and if you look at Colorado and teenagers, what they’re dealing with because of pot, you don’t want that,” Robbins said. 

Former Atlantic Beach Mayor Mitch Reeves thinks the commission needs to stop debating zoning and debate whether or not they want dispensaries there at all.

“I think the real vote today is not where they’re going,” Reeves said. “This commission needs to decide do they want it. Yes or no. Then decide where they want them to go. The cart’s before the horse.”

The City Commission may need to pass an ordinance sooner than May. There’s concern that the state legislature could tweak medical marijuana laws by the end of their session in March that would shift change the amount of power local jurisdictions have over medical marijuana dispensaries. 

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.

Source: Atlantic Beach officials debate allowing medical marijuana dispensaries

Marijuana Is Less Harmful Than Sugar, New Survey Finds

Marijuana Is Less Harmful Than Sugar, New Survey Finds

Marijuana is among the fastest growing industries in North America, which is a big reason investors have pushed pot stock valuations considerably higher in recent years. A majority of marijuana stocks have gained 100%, 200%, or even more on a trailing-year basis.
One reason behind that excitement is the sales growth of legal weed. In the U.S., Marijuana Business Daily‘s newest report, “Marijuana Factbook 2017,” calls for sales growth of 45% this year, and 300% as an aggregate between 2016 and 2021. If these figures prove accurate, the U.S. market could be generating around $17 billion in annual sales by 2021. That’s certainly a convincing enough number to attract investors.

Image source: Getty Images.

The other part of the equation for investing bulls has been the steady shift in the way the public views marijuana. Four polls since April 2017 — CBS News, Quinnipiac University, Gallup, and Pew Research Center — have all demonstrated an overwhelming favorability toward legalizing cannabis. For Gallup, the 64% who favored legalizing recreational pot in Oct. 2017 was the highest percentage on record over the poll’s 48-year history. It’s also markedly higher than the 25% who favored legalization back in 1995, the year before medicinal cannabis was legalized in California.
Medical marijuana is even more strongly favored by the public. An August 2017 Quinnipiac survey found that 94% of respondents support legalizing cannabis for medicinal use, which compares to just 4% who opposed the idea.

This new marijuana survey reveals a shocking finding

You probably had a good idea that when given a choice of making cannabis legal or illegal, most folks would choose legal. But understanding how marijuana is viewed relative to other legal vices isn’t always as clear. A new survey from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal was meant to clear that up.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey asked 900 American adults across the country the following question:

If you had to choose just one, which of these four substances — alcohol, marijuana, sugar or tobacco — would you say is most harmful?

Mind you, marijuana is a Schedule I, and therefore illegal substance at the federal level, while alcohol and tobacco are regulated industries that can only be consumed by adults. Here were the responses:
  • Tobacco: 41%
  • Alcohol: 24%
  • Sugar: 21%
  • Marijuana: 9%

Image source: Getty Images.

As you might expect, tobacco led the way. In 1964, we learned from U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry that smoking tobacco was linked to a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease. It also is responsible for increasing the risk of developing a host of other cancer types and diseases. And as a reminder, cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S.
Alcohol at 24% shouldn’t be a surprise, either. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol was responsible for approximately 88,000 deaths a year between 2006 and 2010, with the average life lost being shortened by 30 years.
But the shock du jour is the 21% of Americans who chose sugar — a legal substance for all ages found in every convenience store — as being substantially more harmful than marijuana (21% vs. 9%). The long-term effects of sugar intake are still somewhat debated among researchers, as are the long-term impacts of cannabis use. Thus, to see such a marked difference in how the public views the two is really eye-opening and suggestive of just how much Americans’ views on pot have changed over the years.

Image source: Getty Images.

Let’s make that five surveys in favor of legalization since April 2017

Additionally, the survey asked the 900 respondents one more marijuana-related question:

If a law passed in your state that allowed adults to purchase small quantities of marijuana for their own personal use from regulated, state-licensed businesses would you:

  1. Actively support such a law;
  2. Be in favor but not actively support it;
  3. Be opposed to it but not actively try to have it overturned;
  4. Be opposed to such a law and actively work to overturn it?
A total of 31% and 29%, respectively, chose numbers one and two, with 24% and 14%, respectively, going with answers three and four. In other words, this study remains consistent with the previous four major polls that three out of five Americans wants to see marijuana legal.

Face the facts: Legalization isn’t happening under Jeff Sessions’ watch

Yet, in spite of these polls, the 29 states that have legalized medical cannabis, and the nine states that have legalized recreational weed (including Vermont, which just did so entirely through the legislative process), the U.S. pot industry has what might as well be zero chance of moving forward with Attorney General Jeff Sessions as the head of the Justice Department.

Image source: Getty Images.

Sessions has made it no secret how he really feels about cannabis. He’s been quoted as saying “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and has previously suggested that medical cannabis isn’t an appropriate substitute to fight the opioid crisis. But he made his intentions perfectly clear when, in May of last year, he sent letters to a handful of his congressional colleagues requesting the repeal of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment (also known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment). This Amendment is what protects medical marijuana businesses from federal prosecution, as it disallows the Justice Department from using federal dollars to go after medical weed companies.
Though Sessions has thus far been unsuccessful in his attempts to keep this Amendment out of future spending bills, he has been able to rescind the Cole memo as of earlier this month. The Cole memo described a loose set of rules that states would follow in order to keep the federal government in a hands-off stance. This included ensuring that cannabis grown in a legal state stayed within that state. It also meant keeping adolescents away from pot. Its removal opens the door for state prosecutors to use their discretion and potentially bring charges against cannabis businesses.

If you want to invest in marijuana, look north

Despite overwhelming support in the states, it’s Canada that looks to lead the way for the world, and investors, when it comes to legalization.
In April 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a bill designed to legalize weed for adults by July 2018. Though it faced opposition and questions, those obstacles have mostly been overcome. Progressives are firmly in charge of Canada’s parliament, negating concerns of the more conservative opposition, and a recently arranged tax-sharing deal between the federal government and provinces paves the way for regulations to be in place by this coming summer. When fully ramped up, the adult-use weed industry in Canada could generate $5 billion in annual sales.

Image source: Getty Images.

Investors considering Canadian marijuana stocks really have two choices. They can aim for a leader in market share, which has likely already seen a huge uptick in its share price, or they can opt for a more unproven name and hope everything works out.
Among the bigger names, MedReleaf (NASDAQOTH: MEDFF) is one to keep on the radar. Its pockets may not be as deep as those of some of its peers, but it’s been focusing on extracts and cannabis oils far more than its competition. These are higher-priced and higher-margin products, which means MedReleaf doesn’t have to sell nearly as much product to earn the same amount of profit.
Among smaller growers, OrganiGram Holdings (NASDAQOTH: OGRMF) is worth keeping an eye on. The company recently announced its intention to more than triple its annual production capacity to 65,000 kilograms of dried cannabus by more than doubling its grow capacity to 429,000 square feet. What makes OrganiGram unique is that its entire operation can be found at a single site (Moncton, New Brunswick), which helps keep costs down.
My suggestion remains that investors focus on Canada, not the U.S. market, until we see a marked change in U.S. federal law, or the position of Sessions from the Justice Department.
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Source: Marijuana Is Less Harmful Than Sugar, New Survey Finds

Utah Representatives: We don't support recreational marijuana — but stigma shouldn't stall …

Utah Representatives: We don't support recreational marijuana — but stigma shouldn't stall …

Red tape, bureaucratic hurdles and arbitrary roadblocks are pervasive in Washington, D.C. These obstacles not only result in irritation and inconvenience, but also have the capacity to cause great harm to the health and happiness of those suffering from painful disorders and diseases.

Barriers to medical-grade marijuana research may be resulting in the preventable and unnecessary pain of countless Americans. Many have sought to address this by legalizing medical marijuana at the state level.

We are now living in the midst of glaring inconsistency between state and federal law. While the majority of states have legalized the medical application of marijuana or its components, federal law still says that it is illegal. The difference between state and federal law needs to be responsibly addressed.

It is with this difference in mind that we join with other members of Congress from around the country and on both sides of the aisle to introduce the Marijuana Effective Drug Studies Act (MEDS Act), which Sen. Orrin Hatch has introduced in the Senate.

Make no mistake, we are not advocating for the recreational use of marijuana, nor are we calling for sweeping change that could endanger people and empower criminals.

We are calling for the facilitation of learning. We are calling for a reasoned and responsible environment where the best minds may be able to analyze and examine something about which we know very little.

The MEDS Act will allow researchers to more easily engage the Drug Enforcement Agency when registering their research. The act also takes into account the naturally changing nature of science and discovery.

Doctors today who operate in the nebulous area of medically prescribed marijuana do so without a firm foundation. Without proper medical research and scientific freedom, doctors are left with more questions than answers regarding marijuana. Patients deserve to have these questions answered.

How might marijuana best be administered? How do you measure dosage? Can claims based on anecdotal experiences be replicated in a scientific setting? What are the side effects? Might this have any impact on child development?

We can responsibly answer the questions that linger through research. If the claims of the medical marijuana advocates prove to be true, this legislation can bring relief to countless people afflicted with chronic and debilitating illnesses.

We have a long history of medical research in America. We have a system today that protects consumers from the snake oil peddlers and miracle elixir salesman of the 19th century. The MEDS Act attempts to clear the way for marijuana to be evaluated in the modern and thorough way.

Anyone taking an honest and thorough look at the potential of medical marijuana must be able to see through the stigma attached to the plant.

To stand in the way of scientific and medical research merely because the idea of marijuana is uncomfortable is a disservice to scientific study and an insult to the infirm.

Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart, Mia Love and John Curtis, all Republicans, represent Utah in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Source: Utah Representatives: We don't support recreational marijuana — but stigma shouldn't stall …

Better marijuana stock

Better marijuana stock

You would have won big-time had you owned either Aphria (NASDAQOTH:APHQF) or MedReleaf (NASDAQOTH:MEDFF) stocks last year. Aphria’s share price soared 163% in 2017, while MedReleaf jumped 148%. And both marijuana stocks are winners so far in 2018.

With Canada set to legalize recreational marijuana this summer, the stocks of the top marijuana growers in the country are sure to continue to attract a lot of attention from investors. But which of these is the better marijuana stock going into the rest of 2018? Here’s how Aphria and MedReleaf compare. 

Marijuana growing in greenhouse

Image source: Getty Images.

The case for Aphria

Aphria ranks as the third-largest Canadian marijuana stock in terms of market cap, with the company currently valued around $2.8 billion. For now, Aphria’s primary focus is on supplying the medical marijuana market in Canada.

That business is booming. Earlier this month, Aphria announced its second-quarter results. Revenue soared 39% year over year to $8.5 million (all quarterly results in Canadian currency). The company reported its ninth consecutive quarter of positive adjusted EBITDA from operations. Aphria’s net income totaled nearly $6.5 million — almost seven times higher than the prior-year period. 

There was one area of retreat for Aphria in late 2017, but it was a wise strategic move. Unlike several of its peers, Aphria opted to expand into the U.S. market last year. In May, the company made a strategic investment in DFMMJ Investment Ltd., which operated a leading medical cannabis supplier in Florida. However, Aphria announced on Dec. 11, 2017, that it would reduce its exposure to the U.S. market

The problem was that conducting significant business operations in violation of U.S. laws related to marijuana violates the Toronto Stock Exchange’s listing requirements. If Aphria continued with its U.S. operations, its stock could have potentially been delisted. The company’s management certainly didn’t want that to happen, and proceeded to quickly turn a 180 on plans to aggressively expand in the U.S.

Aphria still has an interest in pursuing opportunities outside of Canada, though. The company completed its first shipment of cannabis oil to Australia in October as part of its agreement to supply medical cannabis to Australian medical life science company Medlab. 

Of course, the big prize dangling in front of Aphria right now is the anticipated legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada. The company has increased its production capacity through multiple deals. Aphria now forecasts annual production capacity of 230,000 kg. This capacity puts the company in good position to benefit tremendously from what is expected to be huge demand for recreational marijuana in Canada.  

The case for MedReleaf

MedReleaf has a lot in common with Aphria. However, it’s a smaller company — at least in terms of market cap — with MedReleaf valued right now at $1.8 billion.

But while MedReleaf’s market cap is lower than Aphria’s, the company’s sales are higher. In November, MedReleaf reported second-quarter revenue of $9.8 million (all quarterly figures in Canadian currency). That was one of the few metrics where the company outperformed Aphria, though.

MedReleaf’s revenue actually dropped close to 9% year over year. This decline stemmed primarily from volume and price restrictions imposed by the Veterans Affairs Policy in Canada. MedReleaf also depends more heavily on dry cannabis sales than many of its peers, which is less profitable than cannabis oils and extracts. The good news, however, is that MedReleaf is rapidly growing its sales of these more profitable products.

The company has its eyes on markets outside of Canada as well, although MedReleaf has been steadfast in its policy to only operate in areas that don’t go against the Toronto Stock Exchange’s listing requirements. In August, MedReleaf completed its first international export to Brazil. That shipment, though, was for only one patient — a young child with a rare genetic disorder. The company’s Australia joint venture secured a license to supply medical marijuana for the Australia market in November. In addition, MedReleaf is participating in the next phase of the medical marijuana licensing process in Germany. 

MedReleaf’s production capacity as of December 2017 stood at 12,600 kg per year. However, the company is expanding its Bradford, Ontario, facility. With this expansion, MedReleaf’s capacity will increase to 35,000 kg per year.  

Better marijuana stock

If you’re a value investor, neither one of these marijuana stocks looks attractive. Aphria stock trades at 136 times sales, while MedReleaf’s price-to-sales ratio is nearly 56. But no marijuana stock is a good pick for a value investor.

Growth investors, on the other hand, have been and continue to be high (pardon the pun) on marijuana stocks. The best estimates of the recreational marijuana market in Canada range from $4.2 billion to $7.9 billion annually, although some think the actual market size could be significantly greater. The market caps of both companies could move much higher if they can capture a large chunk of that market.

In my view, the most important factor in deciding between Aphria and MedReleaf is the potential market share the companies could grab. I think that Aphria is in a better position, because it will have a much larger production capacity. Both of these marijuana growers could be enormously successful, but my opinion is that Aphria is the better stock right now. 

Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Source: Better marijuana stock

With US competition hurting its marijuana business, Mexico warms a little to legalization

With US competition hurting its marijuana business, Mexico warms a little to legalization

In the U.S., marijuana is legal in some form in a majority of states and will soon be permitted for recreational use in eight. Cannabis is already legally sold for recreational use in Uruguay and will be later this year in Canada. Several Latin American countries, including Chile, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia, have changed laws to make marijuana more available for either medical or recreational use.

Source: With US competition hurting its marijuana business, Mexico warms a little to legalization

Medical marijuana consulting firm opens in downtown Bay City

Medical marijuana consulting firm opens in downtown Bay City

BAY CITY, MI — Newly occupying the old PNC Bank building in downtown Bay City is a company built around helping businesses navigate the complicated medical marijuana industry that’s coming to Michigan.

Michigan Marijuana Licensing Experts LLC is headquartered in suite 201 of the building at 300 Center Ave., having recently relocated after forming as a consumer-data business in Pinconning.

Tera Lanczak, chief administrative officer, said the consulting firm was having a hard time recruiting staff at its old location and wanted a more centralized office to serve clients throughout Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties.

In describing the business, Lanczak said they “specialize in navigating through the process of licensure at the local and state levels for the (Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act).”

The firm has 25 employees and is looking to hire more, specifically those with backgrounds in marketing, graphic design, social media and security.

Recently, parent company KTC Industries bought half the building from Bay City businessman Art Dore and rents space to MMLE.

The firm currently services about 120 clients.

“The clients we service are interested in either investing, business development, or attaining one of five licenses,” Lanczak said. The five licenses under the MMFLA are secure transport, safety compliance facility, processing, growing, and provisioning.

MMLE also has a municipal side, advising and educating area governments on the state laws. To that end, they recruited a zoning expert, Tom Reif, who travels to municipalities to inform them on rules, regulations, and laws pertaining to the industry laws.

“We’ll often times have a township call us and say, ‘We’re really undecided on what to do. We don’t know what the right choice for our community is,'” Lanczak said. “Tom actually goes out and meets one-on-one with the township and zoning boards and helps them decide on proper zoning in order to achieve the look and feel that they want for these facilities in their community.”

Case in point, such consultation occurred with Hampton Township, which has opted against provisioning licenses, also referred to as dispensaries, but is going ahead with the other four, like growing and transport. Hampton Township is one of more than 80 municipalities that has worked with MMLE.

In Bay City, the firm is working with five groups interested in obtaining provisioning licenses and 10 interested in manufacturing licenses, Lanczak said.

“The challenge is finding real estate that’s properly zoned and qualifies,” she said.  

Related: Bay City overturns Mayor’s medical marijuana veto

On Friday, Jan. 26, MMLE hosted its first networking event, drawing about 60 people. Speakers Jamie Lowell and Rick Thompson discussed such topics as how temporary licenses are awarded, tax policies, a rundown of legislation, and what implications come with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recently stated rescinding of the Cole Memorandum, which restricts federal marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized medical or recreational use.

“His actions seem to have created a response that’s very favorable,” said Lowell, an activist who co-founded Michigan’s first recognized medical marijuana dispensary. “Congress seems to want to shore up this issue and not leaving it hanging as it is. It has created a response that might actually get some clarification for us. It’s at least made it clear that he doesn’t have significant support to carry through on a lot of this stuff.

“Of course a lot of people are concerned, but as it’s settled,” Lowell continued, “we’ve learned the discretion of the (federal) prosecutors may be to not make this a priority.”

Source: Medical marijuana consulting firm opens in downtown Bay City

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Are you sure you want marijuana legalized?

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Are you sure you want marijuana legalized?

letter to the editor

What I don’t understand is why do so many of you potheads (if you want to be referred to as something else, please let me know) want marijuana legalized? I don’t understand it at all. Are you high?!

I personally have never been a ganja guerilla. I don’t think there has been a single time I have purchased Mary Jane. In the spirit of full disclosure, I willfully admit, only a smattering of times, have I had a few joints shared with me by veterans of the culture. Like other items, such as green bean casserole and hard noodles, it simply wasn’t my thing. So, one might assume I have no insight on this matter. One would be wrong. See, I know people.

Right now you get to be fairly safe reefer pirates. You still get to have the thrill of doing something illegal! Johnny Law is really not looking for you; they have much bigger problems burning away. You still get to hide in dark corners with other scofflaws and fiendishly toke away. You can band together in fuzzy solidarity and put it to The Man! You are brigands of the highest order! Why do you want to throw that away? Are your lives too exciting?

All my life – and that’s a hard 61 years – if someone wanted pot, they could get it. I have never heard a single of my cannabis comrades lament, “I can’t find any marijuana!” Anyone can get pot any time they want. Everyone knows someone that smokes and/or sells. I am not even in that lifestyle and I could name you multiple lawbreakers: lawyers; doctors; police; your boss at work. The hippies grew up, but they didn’t leave everything behind.

Why do you want pot legalized? Don’t you realize what the government will do to marijuana should they get their greedy little fingers on it? They will tax the hell out of it! Madmen will want riches for their commercial packaging and promotional expertise. There will be costly new special interest group wars wasting valuable time and money in the halls of justice. The price of puffing pleasure will skyrocket; what they did to tobacco will pale in comparison to what they will do to pot.

And let’s face it: even if pot becomes legal, you still will not be able to go on a cannabis cruise! Your place of employment will still fire you. Legality will only serve as a reason for more corporate intrusion into your private life. “If a co-worker’s eyes appear a little red contact your supervisor!” Plus, THC takes a relatively long time to leave your system, unlike alcohol.

You should remember and embrace the fact that right now you are outside the law: cool and hip, thumbing your nose at authority. Legalization will firmly ensconce you in the establishment. Nothing good can come of legalizing marijuana. Why on earth do you want it?

— Mr. Tu, Ohio

Source: LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Are you sure you want marijuana legalized?

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