blog

Germany & Greece

Germany & Greece

Medical cannabis legalization continues to sweep the world. Let’s take a look at some major movements in Germany and Greece this week.

Germany

In March 2017, Germany became the largest federally legal medical marijuana market in the world and they also have a great medical insurance program where every German citizen is mandated to have health coverage (through a private company), and some of their insurance firms are covering medical marijuana in their plans which makes medical cannabis accessible to the country’s 70 million insured people.

Three large insurance firms – Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse, Barmer, and Techniker Krankenkasse – told the Rheinische Post that they approved MMJ reimbursement applications for about two-thirds of all applicants in 2017. The medical demand for marijuana in 2017 was up to approximately 13,000 applicants granted reimbursements by the end of the year, a significant increase since the beginning of the program in March 2017, at which time there were only 1,000 applicants.

Germany is not able to produce cannabis domestically yet, and are currently relying on importing the medication, mostly from Canada and the Netherlands. They are planning to start cultivation in 2019. According to the Associated Press, the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) is currently working to establish an agency to sift through private business bids to grow MMJ for their patients.

The agency will be working on and regulating the current importing of medical marijuana from Canada and the Netherlands and will oversee the cultivation, storage and subsequent distribution to pharmacies across Germany. The agency is also expected to invite bids from European Union companies to carry out cultivation domestically as soon as 2019, when they are able to start cultivating their own cannabis products.

“Cannabis is not a panacea,” emphasizes the Federal Government Drugs Commissioner, Marlene Mortler (CSU). She nevertheless rates the high number of applications as positive: “The increasing number of permits shows how important it was to launch this law last year.”

Currently, doctors and physicians are able to prescribe medical cannabis for specific illnesses and symptoms, including chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and decreased appetite or nausea resulting from cancer treatments. Medical cannabis is only sold in pharmacies and patients are not legally able to grow or cultivate their own marijuana right now, though that may change in the future. At the moment, this is in place because there is no way to regulate personal cultivation and ensure that the product is medical-grade and able to treat diseases and difficult symptoms.

Greece

One of Greece’s deputy ministers said last week that the country’s parliament is expected to approve the medical use of cannabis in the coming weeks, and added that the change would likely attract investors and major cannabis companies to the small country. There are Greek, Israeli and Canadian companies already showing an interest in possibly investing in the cannabis market in Greece and estimates put the number of investing dollars at approximately 1.5-2 billion euros (USD $1.8-2.4b).

“In a few weeks’ time, an amendment will be brought to parliament to define the legislative framework for the cultivation and manufacturing of pharmaceutical products based on medical cannabis, which will open the way for Greek and foreign investments,” deputy agricultural development minister Yannis Tsironis told AFP.

In 2017, the Greek government authorized the import of several pharmaceutical products based on medical marijuana, as well as hemp cultivation for industrial purposes for the first time and this is showing great promise.

On Friday, January 12, 2018, the very first Greek cannabis expo, Athens Cannabis Expo 2018, debuted at the Coastal Zone Olympic Complex in Faliro, which was the site of the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. The expo is to raise awareness about the medicinal and industrial uses of the marijuana plant. More than 100 businesses from both Greece and around the world exhibited, all who specialize in the use of cannabis in both the medical industry and others.

Many Greek lawmakers were in attendance, including Alternate Agriculture Development Minister Yiannis Tsironis and Economy and Development Secretary General Efstratios Zafiris.

Humanity Granted License to Manufacture Cannabis Concentrates

Humanity Granted License to Manufacture Cannabis Concentrates

In another exciting move for Humanity Medicine, we, along with Allegiance Wellness Center Inc. and Vista Prime Management, LLC, have been granted a license to manufacture cannabis concentrates using “non-volatile extraction.” Cannabis concentrates can be used in vaporizers and even in edible or drinkable cannabis products.

The standard more volatile method of extraction uses chemicals such as butane and is much more regulated since unsafe butane extraction has been known to cause explosions in illegal labs. This extraction method is regulated by the California Department of Public Health.

The new license was granted by the City of San Diego who is only planning to issue up to 40 such permits to operate marijuana production facilities. Over 60 businesses have applied for a permit and each one is required to go through a rigorous and extensive review by the City of San Diego’s Development Services Department.

The City Council also voted to “grandfather in” non-retail cannabis-related businesses who already held a valid business tax certificate prior to January 31, 2017 for two additional years, which had been conducting business in a “quasi-legal” atmosphere, which occurred before the city learned and began implementing ways to regulate the cannabis supply chain. A small number of cannabis businesses are included in this grace period.

Unfortunately, some cannabis businesses may be required to shut down or potentially relocate if they are not able to get one of the 40 new licenses to manufacture cannabis concentrates before the grace period ends.

We are starting off 2018 with some great news! Cheers to a wonderful year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Humanity’s home state of California is celebrating the new year by being the latest state in the United States to fully legalize cannabis!

On Monday, January 1, recreational use of marijuana becomes legal here in the beautiful state of California. As The Telegraph says, “California will become the sixth state – and by far the most populous – to legalize and tax sales of recreational cannabis, completing a shift along the US west coast, with Massachusetts and Maine on track to change their laws on pot in 2018.”

California has over 40 million residents, which brings up the average, making 1 in 5 Americans living in a state which allows smoking and ingesting marijuana. With this size population, California is also the world’s sixth-largest economy.

In the United States, banking for marijuana businesses is still a huge issue, given the federal laws and the fact that recreational cannabis is only legal in a few states. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned people about investing in cannabis companies, as some have been shown to be a scam. Proper research is required to make sure your investments are in good hands.

However, no one can debate the fact that the marijuana industry is very quickly becoming of North America’s fastest-growing industries, especially watching the success Canada is having right now. Marijuana farms, dispensaries, and supply chains are growing and employing thousands of people and that number continues to grow. Even universities are recognizing the changes and have started incorporating courses on marijuana cultivation, legal regulations, and business.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, cannabis-related companies are already employing more than 100,000 workers, including up to 27,000 involved in cultivation, 52,000 in dispensaries and 66,000 in ancillary industries. Just like other industries, the marijuana world needs accountants, truck drivers, cashiers, and other positions.

Cannabis Boom

According to Business Insider, one report from the cannabis industry research firm BDS Analytics estimates that the sales of cannabis will hit $3.7 billion in 2018 alone and predict that the number will increase to $5.1 billion in 2019 as more dispensaries come online and more people continue to get easier and better access to cannabis. As a comparison, beer sales in California hit $5 billion for the first time in 2017, according to industry research group IBIS World.

Legal marijuana sales are predicted to hit $9.7 billion in the states where recreational marijuana is legal, excluding California (not legal until 1/1/2018), and Canada in 2017 alone, says BDS. That number is expected to hit $24.5 billion in sales by 2021, despite continued federal prohibition. This shows how big of an impact California alone will have on this total.

As the recreational use goes into effect on January 1, be patient! A few of the largest cities in California, including LA and San Francisco, are still working to pass regulations and have missed the January 1 date, but will soon be available. This simply means that some dispensaries may not have their recreational-use licenses on Monday but are in the process of getting them.

With California being so large, it is somewhat expected to see these kinds of snags in the regulatory side, but it is on track and happening.

Prices may also be rising. According to Green State, the price of an eighth-ounce of marijuana — now around $54 including tax — will increase to approximately $65, though local municipalities may levy different fees. Part of this rise is due to the state applying an excise tax on recreational-use marijuana sales. If you are using marijuana for medicinal purposes and are a registered patient, this should not affect you. Californian officials are hopeful that ease of procurement and legality will keep people from going to the unregulated black market for their needs.

Nonetheless, all dispensaries need to get licensed and be ready to sell as quickly as possible. Being able to legally and easily get marijuana is the only way this will work for everyone.

“If there are only 10 regulated dispensaries in the East Bay and I live 45 minutes from one of them, I’m going to call my dealer or my unregulated delivery service like I’ve done for the last five years,” Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, told Bloomberg, “What we need to do in California right now is ensure that every Californian that wants to consume cannabis can buy it at an affordable price, conveniently, from a licensed retailer,” Allen added.

Happy Holidays! A Look Back.

Happy Holidays! A Look Back.

2017 has been a year of major changes in the fight to legalize medical and even recreational-use marijuana. From U.S. politicians trying to stop it, to major new players in the game. With the newest evidence that marijuana use could help quell the countrywide opioid crisis and now twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia currently having laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form, plus more states have decriminalized marijuana possession.

Around the world, the effects of cannabis are being felt everywhere. More countries than ever before are either decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana at least for medicinal use. While 2017 has been a great step forward for legalization, 2018 is also looking up!

Here is a look at the status of cannabis around the world right now.

Peru is the most recent to join the ranks with legalizing it in November. On Thursday, November 16, the president of Peru signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana across the country, allowing possession, sale, and transport of cannabis for medical purposes, though it’s still illegal to cultivate the plant.

India, like the United States, allows each state to create and enforce their own laws regarding marijuana legalization, which some states have taken advantage of, though it is illegal at the federal level still. Right now, it is legal or least tolerated in Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and the North-Eastern states, and decriminalized in Gujarat.

Some countries, such as Australia, Greece, Croatia, Israel, Poland, Mexico, Finland, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Macedonia and Italy, have strictly-regulated medicinal marijuana use legalized, while other countries like Jamaica, Uruguay, and the Netherlands have much more relaxed laws regarding cultivation and use for both medicinal and recreational use.

Chile is the Latin-American country with the highest rate of per-capita marijuana use, but public consumption and production remain illegal – for now. Chilean Congress is debating a bill that would make it legal to grow up to six plants in a private home for “medical, recreational, or spiritual reasons.”  Germany has legalized medicinal use, and in a positive process, they consider the use of recreational cannabis to be self-harm and not a crime.

Spain and South Africa allow private consumption but no public use or sale as of yet, and a single neighborhood in Copenhagen, known as the “green light district” allows it as well. Columbia and Brazil have both legalized it for medicinal uses as well, and Columbia has some private cultivation laws, as well.

In Australia, they have made cannabis legal for medicinal and scientific purposes and decriminalized for personal use in the Northern Territory, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory. Other regions vary.

In many countries, even medicinal use of cannabis is still considered illegal, but the use of it is either decriminalized or the laws are unenforced for marijuana specifically. This includes: Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Laos, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Myanmar, Nepal, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, Vietnam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The world continues its march toward full legalization and continues to find new and better ways to use medical cannabis to help people!

Medicinal Cannabis to Be Available via Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada!

Medicinal Cannabis to Be Available via Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada!

In what is being called a “groundbreaking deal for the medical marijuana industry,” Canadians may soon be able to purchase both leaf and oil medical cannabis through the largest pharmacy chain in Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart.

Aphria is a global leader in medical cannabis, committed to producing high-quality, safe, and pure pharmaceutical-grade cannabis in Canada and the USA. They say they are ‘powered by sunlight’ and all of their plants are 100% greenhouse grown using natural sunlight. Aphria goes above industry standards and regulations to ensure patients get consistent, safe, and effective medicinal products, and have a Patient Care Team to assist patients every step of the way, staying with patients well after the initial contact to provide guidance, information, and support throughout their experience.

Aphria’s stock ticker is APH on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE), one of the world’s largest stock exchanges. It is currently the ninth largest exchange in the world by market capitalization and was established in October 1861 and as of March 30, 2017, has 2,207 listings and a market cap of $2.2841 trillion. APH is currently sitting at CA$14.28.

“Pharmacies should and need to be part of treating patients with medical cannabis. This is a good beginning,” said Vic Neufeld said on a conference call with analysts after the stock market closed Monday, December 4, as reported by Marijuana Business Daily. “There are thousands of doctors sitting on the sideline,” Neufeld said. “The patient population could really explode once you have an organization that has the integrity and the discipline that a pharmacist brings to the table. “Jointly with the doctor relationships they have, it is very powerful and meaningful.”

Aphria was founded in 2011 in Ontario, Canada and expanded into the United States in June 2017. Their President and CEO is Victor Neufeld, 63-year-old CPA, CA, and MBA. Prior to Aphria, Neufeld served as the President and CEO of Jamieson Laboratories Ltd. until June 2014. He also was as a Partner at Ernst & Young LLP. He has 15 years of experience as a Chartered Accountant and Partner with Ernst & Young and 21 years leading Jamieson. His areas of expertise include financial accounting and management.

Aphria is set to be named the “preferred” supplier to Shoppers Drug Mart as part of a five-year deal with the chain.

Shoppers Drug Mart is the largest pharmacy chain in Canada and has over 1200 physical locations and a significant online presence. They are owned by Loblaw Companies Limited, a Canadian food, and pharmacy retailer that encompasses 1,000 corporate and franchise supermarkets that operates under 22 regional and market segment banners. They trade as L on the TSE with a current stock price of CA$68.18, almost 200,000 employees, and is headquartered in Brampton, Canada. Loblaw is noted as the first big corporation in Canada to cover the cost of medical marijuana for their employees.

Once Health Canada approves Shoppers Drug Mart to become an online medical marijuana retailer, the deal may be exactly what Canada’s medical marijuana industry needs to grow faster. The numbers of patient registrants have seen slowing quarterly growth since late 2016, which just recorded its 200,000th patient in June of this year.

In the second quarter of this year, over 30,000 patients enrolled in the program, which marked three years in a row of quarter-over-quarter growth and 168% increase from the year before. Medical marijuana is far more widely available in Canada than the United States, as it is regulated at the federal level. They have 58 licensed marijuana producers, who are able to raise capital and scale up in a way American producers are not yet able to.

Under the new deal, Aphria would ship medical marijuana in bulk from a production facility in Leamington to Shoppers Drug Mart distribution center that already handles distribution for their online pharmacy. Shoppers Drug Mart would then send the medication directly to patients. Neufeld is hopeful that the product will eventually be available in-store at physical pharmacies, which is currently not allowed by Canada’s regulations.

Shoppers Drug Mart has said they are not planning to get into cultivation of medical marijuana crops and Aphria has agreed not to do business with any other national pharmacy groups in exchange for being the “preferred” supplier.

Specific financial terms are undisclosed at this time.

Aspen High Summit

Aspen High Summit

Jim Lewi, a music industry veteran of both Red Light Management and Goldstar Management, created Aspen Live in 1996, which has grown and gone on to become the premier think-tank for music and live entertainment. They hosted their 22nd annual conference this year at Limelight Lodge in Aspen, Colorado just this past week, from December 6 – 9. Aspen Live has long been considered the “Sun Valley Conference for the music industry” and has truly become one of the most fun and tightly-knit conference, chock full of gatherings, fun events, and a finely curated curriculum.

After his immense success with Aspen Live over the last 22 years, Lewi has launched Aspen High, a brand new cannabis conference in the same location, which is one of the first states in the U.S. to have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults. Lewi is partnering with Steve DeAngelo to bring this summit to life.

DeAngelo is a national cannabis leader, author, entrepreneur, and activist who founded Harborside Health Center, the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world, as well as is the President and co-founder of Arcview Group, an investor matchmaking firm to connect investor with the cannabis community. DeAngelo is also an ardent believer that cannabis is a medicine and should be used for wellness, not intoxication. He is a leader in the industry and teaches businesses how to enter the cannabis industry.

Lewi has said that he and DeAngelo created this new conference mainly for people in the medical and recreational cannabis business and hopes it helps prepare the country for the inevitable nationwide legalization of cannabis use.

“It’s hard for any company that does business, especially on an international or national level, to get involved with cannabis right now,” Lewi said. “It’s not like Live Nation can just start selling cannabis at their amphitheaters tomorrow. [sic] It’s already being consumed at their events and they’re not getting a piece of it,” Lewi said. “And I think that it’s certainly proven to be a lot safer in terms of fights and accidents and breakups than alcohol.”

Happening At the Summit

Aspen High Summit is an invitation-only event bringing together thought leaders and disruptors in the music and cannabis industries.

Aspen High is happening this Monday, December 11, and running for three full days. According to Billboard, there will be panels on “cannabis sales at music events, a panel on the influence of media featuring Voice Media CEO Scott Tobias along with Ricardo Baca, founder of the country’s first newspaper-backed marijuana news site The Cannabist and star of the 2015 documentary Rolling Papers. Also speaking is John Boyle with Insomniac, Tripp Keber with Dixie Elixirs, Nikki Lastreto with Swami Select and Andrew Kline with the National Association of Cannabis Businesses.”

Each day of the three-day summit starts at 12:30 pm with an optional on-mountain get together to go skiing and if you are not a skier, don’t worry! They thought of everything. Monday the event at the same time for non-skiers is a lunch at Justice Snow’s, Tuesday is snowmobiling at the T-Lazy 7 Ranch, and Wednesday is a cooking class. Panels start at 4 pm daily, with one from 4-5pm, the next is 5:10-6:10 pm, and the final is 6:20-7:20 pm and a group dinner each night at 8:30 at different locations.

The panels at the summit are:

  • Cannabis Sales, Consumption, & Music: The Future of Marijuana Onsite at Mainstream Events.
  • The Influence of Media in Music and Cannabis
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Investing in Cannabis: Strategy and Due Diligence
  • The Legal Landscape for Music and Cannabis
  • Brand or Die: The Intersection of Branding, Entertainment, and Cannabis
  • Canada: The investment landscape in the world’s (soon-to-be) largest adult-use market
  • Corporate v. Underground
  • Political Landscape of the Cannabis Industry

The Lift Canadian Cannabis Awards

The Lift Canadian Cannabis Awards

Thursday, November 30, 2017, was the fourth annual Lift Canadian Cannabis Awards in Toronto, Canada.

The Event

The Canadian Cannabis Awards (CCA) began in 2014 and truly celebrate and honor all aspects of the cannabis industry, bringing to light leadership, innovation, and excellence in the industry across all of Canada. They shine a spotlight on people, companies, ideas, and products that are innovating and changing the industry and moving it forward across the country.

Anyone can vote online through the CCA website for their favorites in a vast range of categories, such as voting for their favorite cannabis strains, products, growers, dispensaries, clinics, advertisements, and even people within the industry.

This year, Lift added a new beautiful tradition by hosting a gala with dinner and the awards ceremony, which was held at the gorgeous and historical Carlu Concert Hall in downtown Toronto, while also being live-streamed on the CCA website. The event was invite-only at first and then tickets were released to the public later.

Lift CEO Matei Olaru said of the event, “The CCAs have always been a point of pride for the industry, but this year is special. For the first time, we’ll be gathering the industry’s best to celebrate our shared success and shine a spotlight on Canadian cannabis. Our industry is filled with talented and hard-working professionals, and we’re excited to recognize their contributions while adding a little glamour to their year.”

Also for the first time, the Carlu Concert Hall allowed vaping inside with a very cool vape lounge, hosted by vaporizer e-retailer TVape in the Carlu’s Circle Room.

How Were Winners Chosen?

There are three classes of categories in the Canadian Cannabis Awards: those that are picked by public voters, those that are chosen via a committee of experts, and “special” categories. Each category has a different way of determining the winner.

Consumers were able to vote or rank their favorite products, social media influencers, companies, and more on the CCA website from September 1st through 30th in the following categories: Top LP, Cannabis Crusader, Top Social Media Account (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), Top Podcast, Top Advertisement, Top Testing Lab, Top Trimmer, Top Seed Company, Top Extraction Equipment, Top Nutrients Company, Top Lighting Company, Product of the Year, Best New Cannabis Product, Top LP Customer Service, Top LP Compassionate Pricing, Top LP Packaging, Top Portable Vaporizer, Top Desktop Vaporizer, Top Clinic (East and West), Top Cannabis Accessories Shop (East and West), Top Vape Lounge (East and West), Top Glassblower, Top Cannabis Chef, Top Hydroponic Retailer (East and West), and Top Home Growing Box, as well as all awards for dispensaries and dispensary products.

Product awards were also voter-driven, including both the licensed producer (LP ) and dispensary categories for: Top Indica Flower, Top Sativa Flower, Top Hybrid Flower, Top High THC Strain, Top High CBD Strain, Top High THC Oil, Top High CBD Oil, Top Blended/Value Variety, Top Edible, Top Oral Extract, Top Vaped or Smoked Extract.

For the first time in 2017, Lift introduced a new class of awards which were not voted on by consumers but were chosen by a committee of business and technical experts who have significant experience within the cannabis industry.

This first gathering of experts for the CCAs was made up of Alex Revich (Committee Chair), Jonathan Zaid, Marc Wayne, Jamie Shaw, Trina Fraser, Rosy Mondin, David Hyde, Antuanette Gomez, Aaron Salz, Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson, Mike Lickver, Dr. Natasha Ryz, Sarah Jasma, Jenna Valleriani, John Fowler, Dieter Macpherson, Dr. Shane Morris, Remo Colasanti and Adam Greenblatt.

The committee had to consider many aspects of each nominated company and also be careful not to have any conflicts of interest. Committee-driven categories include: Lifetime Achievement Award, Startup of the Year, Product of the Year, Deal of the Year, Innovation of the Year, Innovator of the Year, Top Non-profit, Most Progressive Public Office, Most Progressive Researcher, Top Effort Affecting Policy Change, Writer of the Year, Top Charitable Initiative, Campaign of the Year, Most Promising Licensed Producer.

Each of the four special award categories award winners is determined by Lift itself, though often considers the results of voter nominations, which ran from August 1-31st this year.

The special categories are:

  • Brand of the Year – This award considers the results of voter nominations, as well as nominees’ impact on the industry over the preceding 12 months through their innovative storytelling, consistently applied brand elements, and novel approach.
  • Celebrity Advocate – This is an honorary award and honors a prominent individual for his or her well-publicized cannabis activism and efforts to normalize the plant.
  • Top Lift Reviewer – Chosen based on the volume and quality of personal contributions to the Lift.co website.
  • Employer of the Year – Over 60 companies were nominated for Employer of the Year during the nomination process running Aug 1 – 31. An employee survey was then sent to each employer for their staff to fill out, which included numerous questions on the employee’s experience with the company. Based on the responses, average scores were calculated and an overall winner was selected. The next nine winners were also selected to make up the Top 10 Employers of the Year.

A Few of the Winners

Licensed producers were winning awards all night long, but the two biggest winners by far were MedReleaf and OrganiGram. MedReleaf picked up the Best High CBD Strain, Best CBD Oil, Top THC Flower, and won the much-coveted Top Licensed Producer award. OrganiGram won the award for Best Sativa Flower, Best Value Variety, and Best Licensed Producer Compassionate Pricing Program.

Adam Miron’s company, Hydropothecary, won the awards for Best New Product for their activated cannabis powder Decarb, as well as Top Licensed Producer Packaging, and teared up while accepting the former award while discussing his late father who was his very first customer.

Arizer Air easily won the award for Top Portable Vaporizer, and the top three in the running for Top Cannabis Chef were Cody Lindsay, Jeff the 420 Chef, and Chef Derek Butt, with Lindsay taking it home. Top Podcast was won by The Cannabis Show, beating out other fan favorites like Expert Joints and The P.A.C.E. Radio Show.

World-renowned pain specialist and medical cannabis researcher Dr. Mark Ware, director of clinical research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), took home the committee-driven Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other committee-chosen winners of major awards include Chuck Rifici, a Canadian entrepreneur, former CEO of Tweed Marijuana Inc, and former CFO of the Liberal Party of Canada, winner of the Innovator of the Year award, The Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids winning Top Nonprofit award, Arizer Solo as Product of the Year, Wheaton Income for Startup of the Year, Canopy Growth Corporation for Top Charitable Initiative, and Tweed Main Street as Innovation of the Year.

In the four Lift-chosen special categories, James E. Wagner Cultivation won Employer of the Year, Tokyo Smoke won Brand of the Year, Melissa Etheridge for Celebrity Advocate, and Michael Pasini won for Top Lift Reviewer.

See the full list of all winners here.

MassRoots Massive Problems

MassRoots Massive Problems

In October, the board of directors at MassRoots officially fired founder/CEO, Isaac Dietrich. MassRoots was founded in 2013 and is a Denver-based cannabis-focused technology and social media company and Dietrich has raised over $20 million in funding for it since its start. The firing occurred after he allegedly stole more than $250,000 from the business.

The board voted to remove Dietrich and then installed Vice President Scott Kveton as the new CEO while new company president, Amanda Ostrowitz, is out of the country traveling in Europe.

Ostrowitz was named President after Dietrich purchased her company, CannaRegs, for $12 million, which was hotly protested by the board as being too expensive.

New Vice President Scott Kveton was the Director of Business Development at Odava, a company that makes compliance and supply management software for marijuana businesses, which MassRoots purchased in July of this year.

Recently, MassRoots has been hemorrhaging money and seeing declining sales and revenue. Dietrich was on a mission to move from being seen as just a cannabis social media platform to a technology and compliance giant. Part of his firing was based on him being under suspicion of stock promotion. Though he denied it, a promoter who remained anonymous claimed he was offered and took money for a promotion.

Forbes reports that the board is not entirely happy with the firing of Dietrich. Once he learned of the upcoming vote for his removal, they are told Dietrich spoke with the individual shareholders to gain their support of him, and actually got a majority of the shareholders to vote for him to remain in place and remove the current board of directors.

No official account of the formal vote is available and there is a concern the vote did not take place, though no 8-K filing was done, which would have been necessary to remove the board. Nonetheless, the board did fire Dietrich, and the only way the shareholders would be able to reinstate him is to remove the board and vote him back in. It is being said that the shareholders are displeased that the board did not abide by their wishes.

Dietrich remains a member of the board of directors.

In the immediate wake of the firing, MassRoots’ (MSRT) over the counter stock took a dive from 44 cents per share to 29 cents per share, and at the time of this writing is currently at 21 cents per share.

Now, on November 14th, MassRoots filed a civil lawsuit against Dietrich in Denver District Court.

The lawsuit specifically alleges “Due to evidence of serious misconduct by Dietrich, which included illegal drug use at the workplace, improper sexual activities involving the workplace, and misappropriation and misuse of Company funds” and also says that when Marijuana Business Daily interviewed Dietrich for an article published on November 9, Dietrich made disparaging remarks which violate the nondisparagement agreement section of the official Separation Agreement. In the same interview, Dietrich made it clear he plans to call for a vote to remove or take over the MassRoots board of directors, which is in direct violation of the “standstill provisions” in the same Agreement.

MassRoots now claims that these breaches of the Separation Agreement caused “substantial damages, including those resulting from diminution in its market value.”

The suit asks for five claims of relief for breach of Separation Agreement, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, civil theft, and unjust enrichment.

Marijuana Business Daily reports that Dietrich has denied all claims and called the suit “frivolous” and that “he would proceed shortly with efforts to oust the other three board members.”

Cannabis Start-Up Competition at Boston University

Cannabis Start-Up Competition at Boston University

Boston University’s BUzz Lab held a Cannabis Start-Up Competition at the school’s Questrom School of Business this past Tuesday, November 14th.

175 people showed up to participate in the Shark-Tank-style competition, which was open to all Boston University students and alumni who had an interesting new idea or business venture in the burgeoning cannabis industry. The winners were awarded $10,000, a booth at the upcoming December Harvest Cup cannabis-industry event in Worcester, MA, and advisement from Green Lion Partners, a business strategy firm in Denver focused on early stage development in the regulated cannabis industry. GLP has worked with over a dozen successful cannabis startups, runs three of its own startups, and was founded by two Questrom alumni, Jeffrey Zucker and Mike Bologna.

Flyers and promotional materials for the competition state “Cannabis is the fastest growing industry in the US and is expanding all around the world. It’s rare to be in an industry where you know there are established customers even in markets that aren’t yet developed. Beyond the incredible opportunity though, there are millions of redacted patients that need better access to their redacted medicine and many people in jail for growing plants who don’t deserve to be there. For us, the bottom line is: people are consuming this herbal medicine everywhere, why not make it safe, regulated, and taxed. States like Colorado and Oregon are showing tremendous benefits a sustainable market framework can provide.”

They also clarify that the venture can be established and not created specifically for the competition. In the guidelines for the competition as a whole, BUzz Lab and GLP were clear that they were not looking for non-innovative vaporizers, band-aid solutions to any issues that will be solved with full legalization (such as bank solutions), and copies of companies or products that are already out in the market. They also touch on branding, warning startups to stay away from saturated cannabis leaf symbols and stereotypical “stoner” images in an effort to continue to move the perception of the cannabis industry forward in the world.

This competition was looking for “ancillary” cannabis companies, meaning they are not growing and producing cannabis itself, but are supportive and involved in the cannabis industry in other ways, such as software, research, tools, accessories, and other supporting elements within the industry.

People and companies selected to compete in the Cannabis Start-Up Competition were required to have the following materials ready for review and discussion, along with being able to discuss their impact on the industry, branding, investor opportunities, scalability ideas, and marketing plans.

  • A clear and concise one-page business summary
  • Pitch deck
  • Supplemental financial information
  • BUzz Lab Application
  • A  Social Component – “Policy reform and social responsibility are an important aspect of the cannabis industry. It’s imperative for new companies to have a plan for how they will integrate supporting the cause into their business models.”

The winner of the competition was the think tank–like Cannabis Center of Excellence, founded by Marion McNabb and Randy MacCaffrie. McNabb came up with the idea for CCoE while earning a doctorate at the BU School of Public Health, where she learned how to do research and then put it into practical application. She says, “We need to advance the research related to cannabis. We need to develop public health programs and train clinicians and study that over time.” Her company’s vision is to support Massachusetts to be the leader in designing, documenting, and scaling Cannabis industry best practices. This includes advocacy for cannabis research, networking events, and documenting best practices within the industry.

GLP founder and BU alum Jeffrey Zucker decided it was time to bring this type of competition to BU after adult-use recreational cannabis became legal in Massachusetts at the end of 2016. “I want BU to be on the forefront of cannabis education and show they realize it’s an industry that is coming,” he says.

Guidelines for the Recommendation of Cannabis for Medical Purposes

Guidelines for the Recommendation of Cannabis for Medical Purposes

Just this week in California, the State of California, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Medical Board of California released their “Guidelines for the Recommendation of Cannabis for Medical Purposes” and sent them out to hospitals and medical cannabis companies and dispensaries.

As a medicinal provider, Humanity has received their copy and we would like to go into some detail about the report so you understand it thoroughly.

The Medical Board of California begins with a preamble assuring physicians that they are not going after them, even if a complaint is received, just for recommending or prescribing cannabis to their patients. “The Board wants to assure physicians who choose to recommend cannabis for medical purposes to their patients as part of their regular practice of medicine, that they will not be subject to investigation or disciplinary action by the Board if they arrive at the decision to make this recommendation in accordance with accepted standards of medical responsibility.”

These new guidelines are a continuation and refinement of Proposition 215, passed on November 5, 1996, which became known as the Compassionate Use Act and was meant to ensure that very ill California resident  could have the right to obtain and use cannabis for serious diseases like cancer, AIDS, migraines, and other illnesses it can help with, and also stated that neither the patients nor the doctors would be “subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.”

As they say, this book of guidelines is not a mandated standard of care, they are simply guidelines and suggestions and can be different for individual patients.

What is the Medical Board of California?

According to their website, “The mission of the Medical Board of California is to protect health care consumers through the proper licensing and regulation of physicians and surgeons and certain allied healthcare professions and through the vigorous, objective enforcement of the Medical Practice Act, and to promote access to quality medical care through the Board’s licensing and regulatory functions.”

In practice, what does this mean? Through the MBC, you can check up on your doctor’s license and see their status with the Board and search through scanned, public-record documents relating to administrative actions taken by the Board against licensed and unlicensed individuals, including public letters of reprimand (posted for 10 years), citations (for 3 years), and suspensions and other enforcement actions.

You can also use their site to file a complaint against your physician, look up outpatient surgery requirements, and find any and all forms you may need relating to your healthcare.  

All in all, the MBC is the authority of healthcare professionals in California and are there to protect YOU as the patient through regulations and guidelines.

What do the new guidelines entail?

The new guidelines for the recommendation of cannabis for medical purposes covers the following:

  • Patient-physician relationship: Emphasizing the need to establish and document and appropriate and trusting relationship with patients.
  • Patient evaluations: Discusses what makes up an adequate full evaluation and how important it is to document it and reminds doctors that recommending cannabis as a medication without a thorough exam and medical reason constitutes unprofessional conduct.
  • Informed and shared decision making: Makes sure that doctors are sharing all risks and benefits of cannabis use with their patients and making the decision together.
  • Treatment agreements: Discussing the importance of written treatment plans with objectives, and being sure it is individualized to the patient. This includes any other planned treatments and the duration for cannabis use, no longer than 12 months.
  • Qualifying conditions: This states that recommending cannabis is at the discretion of the physician, but reminds them that there is a lack of evidence for the efficacy of it for some illnesses and diseases. It is highly recommended that in all cases of recommending cannabis use, that the doctor is basing the determination on clinical trials, medical literature and reports, and other physician’s experiences.
  • Ongoing monitoring and adapting treatment plans: Emphasizes the need for the physician to regularly and consistently assess the patient’s response to cannabis usage as treatment and its effect on the patient’s overall health, and revising the treatment plan as needed.
  • Consultations and referrals: This guideline reminds physicians that in some cases they may want to consult with or refer their patient to a specialist, especially in the case of one with substance abuse history or mental health disorders.
  • Medical records: Discusses the need for accurate record keeping of patient records and how every entry must be dated and signed, as well as lists the necessary information which should be in each patient’s records.
  • Physician conflicts of interest: Explains that it is illegal to recommend cannabis from a facility which the doctor or their family has any financial interest in, and explains it is a misdemeanor, considered ‘unprofessional conduct,’ and is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5000 fine. Physicians are also not allowed to have their offices located at a dispensary or cannabis cultivation center, and they cannot be a direct or indirect employee of them.

You can find the full guidelines here.