As more companies test the waters of the legal hemp and cannabis industries, “it is only inevitable” behemoths in alcohol, tobacco, and consumer goods will start to dominate market share, said Ricardo Baca, cannabis thought leader and founder of public relations firm Grasslands.
“In the same way that we have a strong microbrew market in the beer market, and boutique hotels compared to the big dogs, there will also be the best-of-the-best small cannabis and hemp brands,” said Baca, who also served as editor of The Denver Post’s The Cannabist. “But … these brands that have capital, have reach, they are going to take over market share. We are already seeing it in the U.S. and we are certainly seeing it in Canada.”
His comments came on the heels of news that CVS will start selling CBD products in hundreds of its stores nationwide as part of a deal with Curaleaf Holdings. CVS isn’t the first mainstream brand to embrace the burgeoning hemp and cannabis markets. DSW and Simon Malls now sell CBD products through deals with Green Growth Brands. And Corona-beer maker Constellation Brands ($STZ) and tobacco giant Altria ($MO), which owns Marlboro, have both made significant investments in Canadian cannabis companies.
One by one, varying states are legalizing marijuana to treat a variety of medical conditions, and some states are even legalizing it for recreational use. The cannabis industry is in its very beginnings. Still, there are exciting developments emerging in the field, and despite the marketplace’s freshman status, manufacturing and retail stakeholders are already developing a knack for creating and marketing cannabis products in ways that appeal to mainstream consumers.
The Nuts and Bolts of Cannabis
According to Chad Conner, professor at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, one reason that cannabindiol (CBD) products are creating such a stir is that they can affect positive health outcomes among a range of human physiological systems. A recent interview with the professor reveals that CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids that work with the human endocannabinoid neurotransmitter system.
For this reason, physicians have been able to successfully treat many conditions. They’ve found success in using CBDs to treat several illnesses, including:
Conner states that the amount of THC in a CBD product is what differentiates various strains of the compound. In other words, the THC content establishes the status of each strain.
Conner reassures that CBD hemp is a safe compound. With the exception of THC, all cannabinoids are non-intoxicating. Even at high doses, CBD is safe, although users may exhibit some minor side effects.
WITH MORE THAN 60% OF AMERICANS BACKING MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION AND SUPPORT GROWING IN D.C., THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY IS POISED TO EXPLODE.
As support for marijuana legalization grows across the United States, the cannabis industry is on the verge of a huge boom–and investing early could be the key to changing your financial future.
More than 61 percent of Americans support decriminalizing marijuana, according to a 2018 survey from the General Social Survey. That’s up from 57 percent just two years ago. And there’s growing support among politicians on both side of the aisle.
Cannabis is displayed at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary before the midnight start of recreational marijuana sales on June 30, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES
Thirty states have already legalized medical marijuana, and many of the remaining states will be voting on it in the next few months. Even major alcohol and tobacco companies have started investing in marijuana startups.
It is no longer a question of if marijuana will be legalized on the federal level, but rather when.
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a naturally occurring chemical compound called a cannabinoid found in cannabis. Unlike THC, there are no psychoactive effects from ingesting CBD, and the World Health Organization determined it “exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.” The sector of the burgeoning marijuana industry dedicated to CBD — often sold in the form of hemp extract oil — touts its myriad benefits for multiple maladies. However, the only FDA-approved CBD product is Epidiolex, which is used to treat a rare seizure disorder in children.
“The other CBD products currently being sold are not FDA approved and generally unregulated,” says Dr. Deepak D’Souza, staff psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. “These products are highly variable in their CBD content and it is therefore difficult to draw conclusions about their purported beneficial effects.”
The WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence acknowledged “preliminary evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions” besides seizures. The committee also found “no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
The 2018 edition of the General Social Survey is out, so I thought I’d browse through it and look for something interesting. How about this?
Overall, support for legalizing marijuana has gone up from 16 percent in the early 90s to 62 percent in 2018. No real surprise there. But the fastest growth has been in the Midwest. In 1991 only 12 percent of folks in the heartland wanted to legalize marijuana, the lowest rate in the country. In 2018 that jumped to 69 percent, the highest in the country.
Why the big jump in the past two years? It could be an artifact, but the GSS has a pretty big sample size, so it’s probably legit. In the last decade, support for legalizing marijuana has gone up 36 points in the Midwest. In every other region, the increase has been only 22-25 points. Something is going on.
Anaheim, CA—CBD, cannabidiol, hemp, phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, full-spectrum extract, CBD isolate—as WholeFoodspreviously reported, the debate over which forms to put into products, how to label it, what to say about it (and what not to say) at the retail level grows larger and louder as hemp-based products gain popularity, which seems to be happening at record speed. Just months after the passage of the Farm Bill, CBD is showing up in a wide range of products and retail outlets; the latest, just in time for Easter: Jelly Belly creator David Klein has a new line of CBD-infused jelly beans, according to a report in USA Today. And at Expo, of the 3,600 exhibiting companies, 120 classified themselves as having CBD ingredients on the official Expo website, while 117 listed all forms of hemp (although there is crossover there).
The CBD market is expected to rake in $16 Billion by 2025, according to a Forbesreport on a survey by investment bank Cowen & Co. With estimations like that, it’s no wonder pretty much everyone was clamoring to gain a better understanding of the CBD landscape at Expo West. Here, need-to-know information:
“Hemp prohibition is over!” That statement came from Jonathan Miller, general counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable and former Kentucky State Treasurer, speaking at a panel titled Legalized it! Or did we? at the Natural Products Hemp & CBD Summit. His words were met with cheers and applause. That said, it was acknowledged that there is still work to be done. “We now have clear bipartisan support in Congress. There is still a way to go, but we will get there.” He noted that there are resources to help get messages to those in Congress at HempSupporter.com.
Federal vs. State Regulations: Rend Al-Mondhiry of Amin Talati Upadhye helped clarify where things stand: The Farm Bill did legalize at the federal level, but states can have more stringent regulations—and many do. “Even trace amounts of THC,” she said, “could cause a product to be a controlled substance in those states.”
An overview of the “patchwork of state regulations” as presented by Al-Mondhiry:
ID, SD and NE consider CBD, including hemp-based CBD, to be illegal under state law
CA, ME, NC and TX have adopted the FDA position that hemp-based CBD can’t be a dietary supplement or food ingredient
OK, TN and other states allow CBD use only for certain medical conditions
NY required hemp-based CBD to be labeled and manufactured as a dietary supplement.
WY and KS have a 0% THC requirement
IN, UT and OR have labeling and packaging requirements (such as QR codes) that must be considered
Monday could be the day when the Legislature takes a historic vote to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use in New Jersey.
Or it could be the day when Democratic leaders concede defeat in convincing enough colleagues to get on board, setting the legalization effort back months and raising doubts about the fate of one of Gov. Phil Murphy’s central campaign promises.
The sweeping, 175-page bill would allow possession of small amounts of cannabis by adults over 21 and clear the records of those with marijuana-related convictions. It also would lay the framework for regulating and taxing a new billion-dollar industry.
But with Republicans largely unified against the measure and several rank-and-file Democrats opposed or wavering, it appears just as likely that legislative leaders scrap the vote for lack of support.
Lobbying effort underway
Which way it goes depends on how successful Murphy, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, all Democrats, are in enticing lawmakers to cast a “yes” vote.
They have plenty of inducements at their disposal, from appointments to money for lawmakers’ districts. But many legislators have firm beliefs on the topic of marijuana and may be difficult to sway.
Pennsylvanians over the age of 21 would be able to legally use recreational cannabis under a bill expected to be introduced soon in the Pennsylvania state Senate.
But the bill has a long way to go — and a lot of Republican opposition to overcome — before it can land on Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk.
Senators Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, and Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, announced the bill Monday in a memo to their colleagues, where they said that legalizing recreational cannabis would remedy the injustices of the War on Drugs and generate revenue for Pennsylvania’s communities and public schools.
“Cannabis is still widely available to purchase illegally, and yet we disproportionately arrest, prosecute, monitor, and incarcerate thousands of nonviolent Pennsylvanians who are poor and people of color,” the memo reads. “Cannabis prohibition is an immoral and expensive failure of public policy.”
They’ve introduced similar bills in the past with no luck. This time around, though, they’re operating in a different climate.
Wolf said last year that it was time for Pennsylvania to take a “serious look” at legalizing marijuana. The same month, public polls showed that 59 percent of Pennsylvanians support legalization — up from 22 percent in 2006.
Lt. Gov John Fetterman is currently conducting a statewide listening tour, where he’s stopping in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to hear people sound off on the issue. And there’s a legalization effort underway in the House, thanks to a bill introduced by Rep. Jake Wheatly, D-Allegheny.
Street said on Monday that the lawmakers made social justice, inclusion, and economic development their priorities in crafting the new bill. Here are three things to know about it.
Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs wants regulations changed so banks can work with legal marijuana companies. | Sun-Times file photo
Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs called Monday for changes to rules that prohibit banks from providing basic services to the legal cannabis industry like writing checks, depositing money and taking out loans.
Frerichs said “outdated” regulations have forced the Illinois medical marijuana industry to operate on a cash-only basis. The issue is among many complications faced by companies as the drug becomes legal in states across the country but not at the federal level. That means it remains illegal for banks to do business with the cannabis industry because marijuana is still considered an illegal controlled substance by the federal government.
“We have an industry that handles money hiding in the shadows because banking rules, which were established decades ago, have not kept up with changes in behavior and in law,” Frerichs said.
As a result, he said, the medical marijuana industry in Illinois — which had revenue of $136 million in 2018 — is ripe for theft, fraud and tax evasion. Illinois legalized the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions in 2015. This year, state lawmakers are also considering legislation supported by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to legalize adult use of recreational marijuana.
“As residents of this state, we needlessly invite risk to people and property as $136 million in cash is shuffled from place to place in duffel bags in the front seat — or trunk — of cars,” Frerichs said.
Tara Sue Sharp dotes over a skillet of mushrooms. She sips a cannabis oil-infused mocktail as she readies a meal for a small group of guests. Even though Sharpe has cooked these farm-to-table mushroom tostadas dozens of times before, she’s extra careful now as she adds the key ingredient: a tablespoon of homemade cannabis oil slowly drizzled over over the already-simmering vegetables.
As the force behind PotLoveDinners, based in Framingham, Sharp and her partner Jon Yvon are one of a growing number of entrepreneurs that have built pot-adjacent businesses in the wake of marijuana’s legalization in Massachusetts. Infused dinners in particular have made a splash in greater Boston, as local private chefs attract curious diners by pairing inspired dishes worthy of “Chef’s Table” with cannabis and serving them in a safe space.
“We drew inspiration from the love of the cannabis plant, changing the stigma around consumption, and cuddling up in bed watching ‘Bong Appetit,’ ” said Yvon.
Chefs use oils, butters, tinctures and terpenes to infuse dishes with (usually) low doses of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary active ingredient in cannabis, which makes users feel “stoned”), and/or CBD (a non-intoxicating cannabinoid) so diners can achieve their desired high throughout the multi-hour meals.
Pushing far beyond the cliched edible fare of weed brownies, local cannabis chefs put food first: a country pork terrine wrapped in speck, presented alongside bread and butter pickles and a medicated asparagus puree; or a Georges Bank scallop crudo topped with lacto-fermented red onion, lime juice, toasted pepitas and CBD tomato salt.