By Dalton Rosario

There is much buzz surrounding cannabis company CuraLeaf. Having received the largest stock offering of $400M in U.S. cannabis history, CuraLeaf is looking to open an additional eight dispensaries before year’s end, totaling their retail distribution to 41 locations in 10 states nationwide. By this time next year they are projecting to generate a revenue stream of $400M by opening an additional 30 dispensaries in 12 states.

At nearly 10 times the population size of Canada, CuraLeaf is positioned to become a titan of industry in the $50B U.S. cannabis sales market. Last month, October 29th, 2018 CuraLeaf went public (CURA.Canada) on Toronto’s Canadian Securities Exchange at $11.42 per share. Despite a steady decline in stock value since going public the market leveled at $7 a share today.

Although NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange are unwilling to invest in U.S. cannabis companies due to the ongoing volatility of federal prohibition, profitable trading throughout international markets will cause a catalyst of legalization. Since cannabis is federally illegal domestic banks hesitate to accept proceeds, forcing these profits to be stashed, and likely re-invested internationally in countries that facilitate the growth and expansion of pro-cannabis industries of commerce.    

By Dalton Rosario

This past Monday, November 26, 2018, New Jersey's joint hearing committee with the state Senate and Assembly passed Bill S2703; which advocates for the legalization of recreational cannabis for adult use and the expansion of their state sponsored medicinal cannabis program. This marked a momentous decision to send Bill S2703 to full Legislature on December 17, 2018. Although representing a firm step toward legalization, there is still contention between Governor Phil Murphy and State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) regarding agreement upon the statewide cannabis tax rate. 

Governor Murphy is looking for a 25% cannabis sales tax, which is comparatively high relative to State Senate President Sweeney's proposal of a 12% tax rate plus an added 2% for "municipalities willing to host cannabis businesses." This stark contrast is emphasized by Sweeney's line of reasoning that high cannabis sales taxes would continue to entice illegal channels of distribution, undermining legislative efforts for legalization. 

By Dalton Rosario

Vermont has become an avid supporter of industrial hemp production for CBD based derivates. Well known for its industrious roots in agriculture, it is a logical progression for native farmers of Vermont to venture into a budding commodity like hemp. The Green Mountain State bolsters some of the east coast’s most promising land for cultivation and local markets are increasing in hemp demand accordingly.  As cited by Stephanie Smith, Chief Policy Enforcement Officer from Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, “In 2017, 87 registered hemp farmers cultivated 550 acres of land, while in 2018 450 documented farmers cultivated over 3,000 acres of land.”

That represents a +400% increase in registered farmers from 2017-2018 and a 450% increase in lands cultivated for industrial hemp. The Northeast Corridor is booming with state support for pro-cannabis legislation. Providing a footprint for reformation on the east coast and paving the way for emerging markets like in the midwest to adopt meaningful policies for regulating commercial use of recreational cannabis.   

By Dalton Rosario

Progressive popular opinion advocating for recreational cannabis legislation is extending into New Jersey where there are currently 35,700 registered patients in their state sponsored medicinal cannabis program. Committees will be voting tomorrow Monday, November 26th for the expansion of their medical program along with legalization for recreational cannabis use for adults aged 21 and over as outlined in Bill S2703. The current momentum in the northeast supports popular opinion post midterm election in states like Michigan, Missouri and Utah which all voted in favor of cannabis legalization.

These markets represent central hubs in their respective regions, particularly in the emerging recreational market in the midwest, which collectively provides entry into parts of the country previously unsusceptible to cannabis legislation. South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Idaho currently have no legal access to cannabis, but time will tell how pressures of reformation from local investors and neighboring states will influence previously held beliefs of marijuana prohibition.

By Dalton Rosario

The Northeast Corridor has been making leaps and legislative strides in strengthening the anti-prohibition front on the east coast. All inclusive states sponsor comprehensive medicinal cannabis programs; and as of November 20, 2018 the first two recreational pot shops on the east coast have opened in Massachusetts. Neighboring state Connecticut’s Governor-elect Ned Lamont (D) has campaigned in support of pro-cannabis legalization for adult use as to prohibit “the black market controlling marijuana distribution,” and an overwhelming 59% of Connecticut voters polled favorably towards the benefits of recreational cannabis in their state. 

Communities are becoming outspoken in their demands for anti-prohibition. Legalization creates immediate revenue streams supported by legislative infrastructure for taxation and regulation that stimulates local economies and drives business from neighboring states. We are experiencing a revolution in reduced barriers to entry for businesses bringing cannabis-related products to market. The opportunity margin projected from legalization across neighboring states opens up channels for production, distribution and retail previously unimaginable. When asked about federal legalization for cannabis last Friday with CNBC, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb stated, “it’s happening at the state level, and I think inevitably that it’s going to happen at the federal level.” The tides of reformation are in our favor.

What is Kratom?

November 23, 2018

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By Dalton Rosario

Much controversy surrounds the medicinal properties of Kratom. What is known about this herbal supplement - native to Southeast Asia - is that once its leaves are crushed by way of chewing, mixed into a fine powder or brewed into tea, users experience a relief from muscle pains, an increase in energy and sociability and feelings of euphoria that combat depression and anxiety. In 2016 Kratom was the target of scrutiny by the DEA for speculative classification as a Schedule 1 Drug due to posing an imminent hazard to public safety. Despite this, Kratom is becoming more widely accepted to combat addiction to opioid medications, leading advocates to infer its potential in replacing prescription opioids all together. Typically taken as a pill, Kratom has two chemical compounds Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine which react with opioid receptors in our brain, acting as a stimulant in small doses and a sedative in large amounts.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as of 2017 the FDA has identified 44 deaths due to Kratom related overdosing. It is necessary to note that Kratom was not the only active substance discovered in these cases. Typically overdoses included traces of other over-the-counter medications, opioids and/or alcohol; causing the FDA to vilify its use in association with “serious side effects including respiratory depression, seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms.”

While it may be difficult to determine the detrimental relation Kratom has to dependency from misuse, what is known about this herb is it’s positive effects on users who practice moderation in their consumption of the plant. As we have seen in regard to the prohibition of cannabis, banning Kratom would certainly cause more harm than good to those who experience positive medicinal benefit from proper dosing. We should not penalize current patients by removing legal access to this supplement which increases their quality of life, but rather seek out greater understanding about this plant to better regulate, educate and administer its healthy use.   

By Dalton Rosario

In early November U.K. based GW Pharmaceuticals received approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for doctors to prescribe the cannabis-derived CBD medication Epidiolex in all 50 states. This is historic in that Epidiolex is the first cannabis-based drug to be approved by the FDA. This medication is used for patients two years and older to offset epileptic seizures for Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, two rare seizure disorders that affect children in their early years of development. As stated by FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, “The FDA will continue to support rigorous scientific research on the potential medical uses of marijuana-derived products and stand ready to work with product developers who are interested in bringing patients safe and effective, high quality products.” 

Listed by GW Pharmaceuticals at an average yearly price of $32,500 Epidiolex is aligned with other FDA-approved anti-epileptic drugs in terms of price point and will be launched with a patient support program to aid access to therapy through insurance plans which “help lower out-of-pocket costs or provide product at no cost for eligible patients.”

Now that Epidiolex has been approved by the FDA, doctors can lawfully prescribe the drug for “off-label” use in other conditions. This will surely play a pivotal role in paving the way for other CBD based medications, reducing their barriers to entry for FDA approval and opening the market for treatments of a myriad of other disorders that can benefit from the use of CBD oils.

By Dalton Rosario

As proudly promoted by J.B. Pritzker (D), governor-elect in Illinois, “We have an opportunity here in Illinois to bring $700 million in revenue to the state. To create jobs across the state production facilities, dispensaries and to reserve some of the licenses for people who have been most put upon and ill affected by the war on drugs.” This news comes well received following midterm  elections and ballot results which welcomed state legislative initiatives, positioning the midwest as the next major frontier for open market policies favoring pro-cannabis legalization. Taking assurance of this policy shift in Illinois a step further, Pritzker also declared plans to vacate arrest records for individuals currently facing jail-time for cannabis related charges, deeming it unjust given its legal status.    

A study by the University of Illinois’ Economic Policy Institute and Project for Middle Class Renewal compared statistics from Colorado’s usage and taxation of cannabis to determine that by year 2020, Illinois’ state economy will have earned over $500 million in taxable revenues from cannabis by implementing 24,000 jobs in the legal cannabis market; resulting in a decrease of law enforcement costs by $18 million per year. This analysis comes after Illinois State Senator Heather Steans and Illinois House of Representatives member Kelly Cassidy introduced Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 last March to legalize the sale of adult cannabis use and create the necessary regulatory and taxation framework to do so - allowing Illinois residents over the age of 21 to possess up to 28 grams of cannabis and to own 5 cannabis plants, while non-residents may possess up to 14 grams of cannabis. 

Illinois is leading the midwest as a prime example for states seeking to end cannabis prohibition in a manner which reflects the best practices from the likes of Washington, Colorado and California. With the proper infrastructure set in place, it is simply a matter of catching federal legislation up to pace with the next natural progression for legalization of recreational and medicinal cannabis nationwide.

By Dalton Rosario

At just an hour’s drive away from one other, Cultivate Holdings in Leicester, MA and New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton, MA are the first two retail cannabis shops to open its doors on the east coast. Taking two years since having been voted legal for recreational adult use in Massachusetts, today November 20, 2018 marks a historic turning point for the United States. With 63% of Americans in favor of cannabis legalization nationwide, our country now supports pro-cannabis state legislation from coast to coast. Recreational sales are estimated in the billions within the first two years alone, and a 20% combined state and local cannabis sales tax is projected to earn an additional $215M according to the Massachusetts Department of Health.

Prospective buyers simply need a state issued driver’s license verifying an age of 21 or over to purchase up to 28 grams per day. As to be expected with newly implemented distribution channels, increased demand from visitors in neighboring states combined with local traffic will most likely hike up prices in response to impending supply shortages, though pre-mature market volatility will surely level off as Massachusetts builds upon practices and policies proven effective from pioneer states like Colorado and Washington. Another victory for anti-prohibition and the year is not over yet.

By Dalton Rosario

The diversity of functions that Industrial Hemp can be used for are universal in application, limited only to the extent of our imaginations. It’s properties allow for the production of textiles, clothing fabrics, paper, plastic, biofuel, dietary supplements derived from hemp oils abundant in essential fatty acids, and a lighter, stronger more sustainable alternative to concrete - just to name a few. The DEA has been infamous for making it near impossible for cultivators to earn a license to produce industrial hemp despite its multifaceted utility and industrial economic benefits. But this is soon to change in Kentucky by year’s end if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has his way. Proposed in a provision to the 2018 Farm Bill, McConnell guarantees that the manufacturing of industrial hemp will be legalized in Kentucky justifiable by the implications of demand from international markets. “It has a lot of potential. As all of you already know, both in terms of food and medicine. But also car parts. I mean this is an extraordinary plant. So I am hopeful.” Remarked McConnell in a recent interview. 

States like Kentucky unapologetically embracing the applications of industrial hemp and its potential for agricultural developments are monumental for the U.S. entering the international cannabis market as an economic powerhouse distinct in our strides of ingenuity and innovation in this bustling global industry. Not only do affirmations like that from McConnell denote progress for the positive momentum of cannabis gaining mainstream approval in public forums; but this also allows for prime example of state-backed legislation providing viable means of taxation, regulation and commercialization for the agriculture, textile and manufacturing industries directly benefiting from the investment of industrial hemp and its derivates.