By Dalton Rosario

As it stands Florida’s medical cannabis program provides little to no room for emerging businesses to gain a foothold in the Sunshine State’s $250M - $300M market valuation in 2018. This is due to 2017 legislation granting 10 initial medicinal cannabis licenses to lay the statewide infrastructure, from which four new licenses would be distributed for every additional 100,000 patients registered to the program. This has capped the Sunshine State to 14 medical licenses, creating a market demand of over $50M for prospective businesses to acquire an operating license from another organization. 

This has raised questions concerning state lawmakers unconstitutionally barring the natural free market forces of supply and demand. Since 2017, Florida’s medical cannabis program has increased from 56,537 registered patients to 159,107; and retail dispensaries have tripled from 24 locations to 78 statewide. Jeffrey Sharkey, Executive Director of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, speculates Florida will soon foster 800,000 to 1 million registered patients. Far from unreasonable given that by this time last year, Florida’s medicinal cannabis market had earned $40M compared to its projected peak of $300M by this year’s end. 

There is still much to be determined in the new year and Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services-elect, Nikki Fried who is an outspoken proponent for cannabis rights, will be playing an active role in endorsing the removal of legislative barriers to entry. 

By Dalton Rosario

The Lone Star State is revving up for 2019 legislation that would expand their statewide medical cannabis program by making it easier for patients to receive the medication they need. Texas’ legislature meets once every two years and with January marking their next session, much consideration has gone into the cannabis landscape as of late. For starters there is the 2018 Farm Bill and its provisions for industrial hemp cultivation and CBD legalization. Furthermore, lawmakers are adding qualifying conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana - such as PTSD, Parkinson’s and autism - contingent upon continued research gathered by universities and hospitals valuing the benefits of its implementation.

Currently doctors in Texas can only prescribe cannabis if their practice serves a quota of epilepsy patients - the predominant qualifying condition for medical marijuana as a last resort option if two prior forms of anti-seizure medications prove futile according to The Texas Compassionate Use Act of 2015. If all of these qualifiers are met, before a prescription can be written there must be a secondary doctor registered with Texas’ Department of Safety who co-signs the treatment regiment, verifying the prescription.

Given current trends and growing developments within the U.S. cannabis industry, these legislative loopholes create unreasonable hurdles for denying patients access to low THC, high CBD derivates compared to the ease of access found in other states across our country that have wholly embraced medicinal cannabis programs and their extensive legislative infrastructures.

By Dalton Rosario

This past Friday the Mexican Senate Foreign Relations Committee conducted a meeting in which Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, commented that Mexico will be reaching out to the international community for key insights into the federal implementation of their emerging cannabis market. First correspondents on their list are Canada, Uruguay and the U.S. (California, Colorado and Nevada). President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has expressed deep interest in Mexico’s involvement within the global cannabis industry and plans to outline an explicit agenda for federal legalization of recreational and medicinal cannabis use for adults.

This past November, Mexico’s Supreme Court stated it was unconstitutional for the federal government to prosecute adult cannabis consumption and home-grown cultivation. This was followed closely by legislation outlining the legalization and regulation of cannabis throughout the country. Mexican officials have already visited Canada in October to learn the best practices for developing the infrastructure of their nationwide implementation of federally legalized cannabis, ranging from sales tax revenues to business licensing registration.

By Dalton Rosario

Tomorrow New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) will detail his legislative agenda for 2019, including a proposal for legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults. Medicinal cannabis had already been legalized by Governor Cuomo in 2014 and this past July he passed a bill allowing doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to patients to treat acute pain and opioid abuse.  States notice as much as a 25% decrease in opioid related deaths after legalizing medical marijuana programs. New York currently serves 98,000 patients, with foreseeable increases as more qualifying conditions become treatable.

An ongoing topic of contention brings into question the deeper discussion of when legalized, how should New York’s projected cannabis tax revenues of $1.3B be invested into the city? A pool of lawmakers are advocating for tax revenues to fund the city’s subway system, but legislators have questioned the priority of public transit maintenance to rebuilding the very communities which have been most directly affected by cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs. As written by Melissa Moore, NY State Deputy Director of The Drug Policy Alliance in a recent editorial to the New York Daily News, “Marijuana revenues do need to be directed to marginalized communities, and the people first in line need to be the people who have been ravaged by over-policing and impacted by other insidious criminalization.” Whether for renovating the metro or granting restitutions, one thing is known for certain. City infrastructure and social programs can receive immediate funding when progressive industries that match market demands are not barred by legislation thats implementation denies lawful revenues to the state.

By Dalton Rosario 

Yesterday President Trump announced that former Chief of Staff John Kelly’s replacement will be Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney - Director of the Office of Management & Budget. Mulvaney has an extensive track record for supporting pro-cannabis legislation ranging from hemp legalization and cannabis rescheduling initiatives, to protecting state medicinal laws and preventing the Treasury Department from prosecuting banks that accept legal cannabis proceeds. 

The timing of such a promotion could not be more perfect. A vast coalition of over 200 civil, social and humanitarian rights organizations released a letter of intent for the 116th Congress beginning in January 2019 to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. This coalition includes groups such as the AARP, NAACP and the American Federation of Teachers and League of Women Voters. As outlined by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, legalized recreational and medicinal cannabis sales and tax revenues ought to be invested into communities that have been targeted by the war on drugs. Federal cannabis prohibition will be a pivotal campaign topic in the nearing 2020 presidential elections. And its repeal has already been supported on the peripherals by President Trump, who is vocally in favor of cannabis reformation and states’ autonomy to create, regulate and tax legalized cannabis.

By Dalton Rosario

With ongoing legalization efforts across the country, state lawmakers are promoting the  surplus of tax revenues generated from emerging cannabis markets as a viable solution for boosting insufficient state funded programs. As cited by New Frontier Data, a cannabis analytics firm, the U.S. is projected to generate $2.3B in medicinal and recreational cannabis tax revenues by year 2020. The real question is what will state governments do with all this money?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling for state legislation to legalize adult recreational cannabis use to dedicate its tax revenues for the sole purpose of helping the city, “address a looming pension crisis that will require nearly $1 billion in new annual retirement payments by 2023,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Although Mayor Emanuel will be leaving office next month, Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker (D) pledged during his campaign to end cannabis prohibition and intends to legalize recreational markets right away. As stated last month by a University of Illinois’ study, “legalizing cannabis in Illinois would create 24,000 jobs, generate more than $500M in tax revenue and infuse about $1B into the state economy overall by 2020.”    

By Dalton Rosario

After an overwhelmingly positive bi-partisan response in the Senate voting 87-13 in favor of the 2018 Farm Bill, its latest provision officially includes legalizing industrial hemp beginning in 2019. After months of reconciliation between the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, the bill will be passed to the House for final vote before year’s end. Upon approval the bill will then be sent to the executive office for President Trump to sign into law, to which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) commented, “I’d be happy to lend him [President Trump] my hemp pen for the occasion.”

Boosting America’s agricultural industry with the legalization of hemp and its multifaceted applications is a topic which has been well received by both sides of the aisle as Republicans and Democrats have collaborated for months to bring this provision to fruition. Moving forward into the new year, when this bi-partisan legislation is signed into law, industrial hemp will be regulated by the Department of Agriculture as opposed to current oversight by the Department of Justice. 

By Dalton Rosario

Last week Canadian based Aurora Cannabis Inc. closed a partnership agreement with  Mexican pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributer Farmacias Magistrales SA, after they had become Mexico’s first federally licensed importer of raw materials containing over 1% of THC. This distribution chain will begin in Canada, from which Aurora will supply Farmacias with THC and CBD derived oil products for Mexico’s medical market of roughly 130 million people. 

Once imported, Farmacias will have access to over 80,000 retail distribution channels, including 500 pharmacies and hospitals throughout the country. Farmacias will be paid in Aurora shares and a valuation based upon projected revenues from distribution of THC and CBD concentrates, with an added contingency plan of 25% cash payable dependent on milestone achievements throughout the upcoming year.     

By Dalton Rosario

The myriad of applications that the miracle plant hemp can be used for are as extensive in output as our imaginations allow for. The unique properties of industrial hemp can be manufactured into new innovative standards for healthier alternatives to the currently accepted methods for producing textiles, clothing fabrics, paper, plastic, biofuel, dietary supplements and a lighter, stronger more sustainable variation to concrete - hempcrete.

Hempcrete is a bio-composite from the hemp’s stalk mixed with water and lime. Easy as 1-2-3. Chemical reactions between these three components petrifies the hemp, turning the lime back into stone and voila!

Given that trees take decades to grow and hemp takes roughly 3 months, the immediate benefits are day and night in comparison. In fact according to the National Hemp Association, “one acre of hemp provides as much paper as 4.1 acres of trees.” But the benefits do not end there. The multitude of beneficial characteristics of hempcrete is that it is: fireproof, bug-resistant, non-toxic, mold resistant, durable, sustainable, uses no solvents, has high vapor permeability, carbon sequestration and provides all around great insulation for heat and humidity.

 

By Dalton Rosario

With the progressive strides in cannabis legalization as of late, it may come as a surprise that the World Health Organization (WHO) declined motions to reschedule cannabis as an illicit, dangerous drug with no medical benefits. The International Cannabis Policy Conference was hosted earlier this week at the United Nations Headquarters, where the WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence determined that more time would be needed to conduct a thorough review for cannabis rescheduling given that the provided catalogue of research highlighting its health benefits also shows indications of adverse side effects.

THC and CBD derivatives are commonly accepted for their improvements to overall wellness. Particularly for PTSD, chronic pain, nausea and sleep related deficiencies; however, lasting side effects of memory impairment and cognitive disorders related to prolonged use in individuals who are genetically pre-disposed to conditions like psychosis caused the WHO to appeal for more time before making a final determination.

Although representing a halt in the positive sloping momentum for the global cannabis market, this decision by the WHO should not be looked at as an outright failure for the movement towards international legalization. Rather it is a call of action for the continued worldwide mobilization of quantitative research conducted for the betterment of healthy cannabis use and the recognition of its holistic benefits for improving quality of Life.