One of the most consistent problems persisting around the marijuana market nationwide is marijuana businesses not being able to open a bank account. Since federal law still deems marijuana an illicit substance, most banks choose not to work with cannabis businesses out of fear of federal interference and money laundering charges. This has caused big problems for the small businesses who are forced to take and secure massive amounts of cash daily, making them easy targets for theft. The small portion of banks who have been willing to work with the marijuana market are doing so in states with recreational marijuana programs as the regulations are much tighter than medical marijuana only states. Often small local banks or credit unions, these community entities are more likely to continue working with marijuana businesses as they want to keep their community safer and happier, while big banks will continue to deny and shut down any marijuana business acounts they can. In the coming year, it should come as no surprise if more cannabis related businesses manage to find access to banking services than ever before. At this point, local banks and credit unions simply want a way to ensure the safety of their community by seeing to it that large sums of cash simply don’t exist outside of a financial institution. The only way to put an end to the problem is for more financial institutions to stand up and finally say that enough is enough. In the state of Oregon, a first of its kind study determined that those same voters who wanted cannabis to be legalized in the first place really want to see cannabis businesses offered access to the banking industry just like any other legitimate business. American Banker reported on a survey from 2015 that was conducted by Marijuana Business Daily of 400 professionals in the cannabis industry – and the results were that only about 40% of them were able to obtain a bank account of any sort. As of March 2016, nationwide data suggested that there were only 301 banks (at the time) who were willing to deal with any cannabis related businesses.
Since the legalization of recreational marijuana by Colorado in 2012, the state has become a massive tourist attraction, but many visitors are finding it difficult to enjoy the legal buds when there is hardly anywhere legal to smoke. Joel Schneider wanted to join the marijuana industry and he found great success in opening the first hotel of it's kind, a Bud+Breakfast. Guest must be over 21 and rooms cost $299-$399 a night. With comfortable rooms, a stocked bar, chef catered meals, and special 420 happy hour events to keep guests entertained and happy, it's no wonder the Bud+Breakfast business model is doing so well. Now running 3 properties, Schneider's revenue averaged $110,000 a month last year. Soon he hopes to expand his business to other recreational states like California. At the time, Schneider was commuting from his home in New York and staying at a hotel in downtown Denver. "I find myself smoking in my bathroom. I find myself hiding with a towel under the door and the shower on," he said. Even though he was in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, "there was no place to smoke, and it wasn't fun." That's when he got the idea for opening a cannabis-friendly hotel, even though smoking isn't allowed in hotels. Schneider discovered that B&Bs are considered private property, which would give him more flexibility. "Now it was up to me to find the right private property," he said. "I get up at 4:20 it seems like every morning to get high," Schneider said. "I tell my guests, 'Come down in your underwear, probably there's going to be someone else sitting in their underwear, too, and you can just pass a joint with each other.' That's what I want, I want them to feel like they're home.
Most businesses in the marijuana industry require a large investment to get started, but with lots of hard work and a great idea anyone can succeed in a thriving market. Two retired women are proof of just that after they started their child-resistant cannabis container company and filled an important need in the Colorado cannabis community. With the marijuana industry still new and growing, regulations often change, meaning the businesses have to adapt quickly to remain in compliance with local law, and thats exactly what these ladies have done. When regulations prompted for child-resistant containers, they started their business, Higher Standard Packaging, and took the product a step further with food safe FDA approved containers made out of milk jugs. Higher Standard Packaging never hired any new employees outside of founders Ms. Baker and Ms. Diner, and their family-owned delivery vehicle has made it easy to keep costs low and profits high. “We thought consumers would want to store their edibles or medicines in containers that were F.D.A.-approved to store food in,” said Ms. Diner, “so we looked into making them from recycled plastic milk jugs.” They decided to start Higher Standard Packaging in the spring of that year, and since then, they have sold nearly seven million units of packaging to Colorado cannabis dispensaries and beyond. The initial set of products consisted of plain white canisters in different sizes with child-resistant caps, made by manufacturing partners in California. To find customers, they cold-called more than 100 businesses, mainly in the Denver area, and visited them with samples and price sheets. Within the first six months, the company began selling other items: tubes, child-resistant caps and more recently, child-resistant, single-serving barrier bags (made of heavy-duty plastic that requires scissors to open). But their mainstay remains plastic containers for flower — the term for dried marijuana that is ready to smoke.
The green rush of the North American marijuana industry is unlike any new market to exist. In just a few short years of limited legalization, the marijuana industry began bringing in billions in revenue, $6.7 billion in 2016 to be exact. Experts in marijuana market research expect the trend of rapid growth to continue at about 26% each year, meaning a $21.6 billion industry by 2021. The more the legal market expands the faster it will overcome black market sales, which at $46 billion are still a majority of total marijuana sales in North America. $46 billion makes up 87% of the total $53 billion spent on legal, medical, and illicit cannabis in North America last year. But illicit sales have actually dropped from 90% of total sales in 2015, meaning legal markets are slowly but surely converting black market buyers to legal users. The total marijuana market of $53 billion is more than Americans spend on both McDonalds and Starbucks, but at the moment most of it is going willingly untaxed and unregulated. The North American legal weed market posted $6.7 billion in revenue in 2016, up 30% from the year before. The illicit market generated 87% of total pot sales, down from 90% in 2015. "The enormous amount of existing, if illicit, consumer spending sets cannabis apart from most other major consumer-market investment opportunities throughout history," Dayton said in a statement. Unlike other fast-growing markets, which include organic foods, home video, and mobile, "the cannabis industry doesn't need to create demand for a new product or innovation — it just needs to move demand for an already widely-popular product into legal channels."
The National Academy of Sciences is not the first organization to request cannabis be reclassified down from a Schedule 1 drug and they probably wont be the last. Just last week, the academy published a report analyzing 10,000 scientific abstracts on medical marijuana use and came to almost 100 conclusions justifying the medical value of cannabis and cannabis products. The report called The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research finds that “cannabis has both therapeutic value and public health risks.” These papers underline the same theme being preached by marijuana advocates for years, loosen restrictions to allow cannabis research, then educate the public. Even the few available studies for medical marijuana have found great value in the drug as a treatment specifically for chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and symptoms of chemotherapy. The report entitled The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research went on to conclude that “cannabis has both therapeutic value and public health risks.” The report recommends more research and noted that the classification as a Schedule 1 drug impedes research and that researchers can't get the cannabis they need in order to address specific research needs. They suggest “political and non-political strategies to resolve regulatory barriers to cannabis research, an objective and evidence-based analysis of cannabis policy is necessary.” The committee found evidence to support therapeutic uses of cannabis to treat chronic pain in adults. For adults with multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms, they said there was substantial evidence that short-term use of certain oral cannabinoids improved symptoms. They also found that cannabinoids helped adults with chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting.
Due to marijuana's Schedule 1 classification it is extremely difficult to get approved for research on the drug, so in the meantime anecdotal evidence will have to be enough when patients are considering cannabis to treat their illness. In medical marijuana states, patients need a recommendation from their doctor to purchase marijuana, but doctors cannot write a prescription for a specific strain or cannabis product due to the gaps in research and policy. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of many conditions where current treatments just aren't enough to tame painful symptoms, leading many to search for other options like cannabis. While they wait for a license to research a Schedule 1 substance, the Integrative Neurophysiology Laboratory at Colorado State University is taking it upon themselves to survey MS patients and allow them to self report their findings with and without cannabis use. So far the submitted data is showing that 66% of respondents are currently using cannabis, and 78% of those cannabis users have lowered their dose of other medications or stopped taking the other medications due to marijuana. My lab's long-term goal is to determine whether cannabis can safely and effectively treat MS symptoms. But because of current federal regulations our lab can conduct only observational studies at this time. To conduct clinical trials with a Schedule 1 substance, investigators must have a special license, which my lab is in the process of applying for. At the moment, this means we study only people who are or are about to use cannabis and we do not provide cannabis to anyone for our studies.Our preliminary results indicate that people with MS using cannabis have greater physical activity levels, leg strength and walking speed, while also having less spasticity, fatigue and a lower perceived risk of falling. It is of note that these individuals are rarely using only cannabis to help control their symptoms. They are often using cannabis alongside traditional medications. The answers to these questions will provide guidelines for health care providers and people with MS on cannabis use. If these studies can demonstrate that cannabis effectively relieves and treats MS symptoms, they could help establish the medicinal value of cannabis. That could make a case for rescheduling cannabis, making it easier for physicians and researchers to establish cannabis' true benefits and risks.
The budding marijuana industry has had to deal with enough regulation and hardships, but this time one of the industry's vital startups was targeted with a malicious cyber attack that rippled throughout the legal marijuana market nationwide. MJ Freeway provides a POS system to track marijuana sales and inventory to over 1000 businesses. The Denver-based company was hacked last week damaging their production and backup servers which has significantly slowed down dispensaries allover the country, with some of them even having to close. While no patient/customer information was stolen, the damage is considered severe, and a slow recovery is expected. According to a video statement issued yesterday by MJ Freeway CEO Amy Poinsett, the attack took out both MJ Freeway’s production and backup servers, in what she described as an “unprecedented malicious attack.” While the damage from the attack was severe, Poinsett said “much is reparable.” With their sales systems down, dispensaries have spent the last week struggling to keep things flowing smoothly. One medical nonprofit, New England Treatment Access (NETA), notified clients in the days after the attack that sales would be slower than usual because staff would have to execute them manually. Other outlets, according to Marijuana Business Daily, were forced to close temporarily.
Indiana's Republican dominated legislature has repeatedly denied even a hearing of a medical marijuana bill, but a new voice is speaking up in hopes to change a state's old views. Last year the national American Legion asked congress to remove marijuana from the list of drugs with no medical purpose, and this last week Indiana's American Legion followed suite in voting to ask the Indiana legislature to reclassify marijuana and recognize the potential benefit in cannabis. Veterans are a large portion of patients who use medical marijuana and politicians listen to what the veterans have to say. A veteran of the Marine Corps and leading advocate for medical marijuana in Indiana, Jeff Staker, says cannabis can help patients avoid addictions to harmful painkillers like oxycontin. On Sunday, the Indiana American Legion approved a resolution supporting the national American Legion's position and calling on Indiana's legislature to "remove restrictions from marijuana and reclassify it in a category that, at a minimum, will recognize cannabis as a drug with potential medical value." “Politicians listen to veterans,” he said. Staker and others contend that marijuana can prevent wounded veterans from getting addicted to pain medication and can help combat-related mental health issues such as post traumatic stress disorder. "I said I want to challenge him to prove one thing and one thing only: that marijuana has no medical benefits whatsoever,” Staker said. “It’s been a month or a month and a half and I haven't heard back."
Medical marijuana will be in the spotlight at the sports medicine forum scheduled for Feb. 1 with the focus on whether or not marijuana can have a "proper place in professional sports." The event will be sponsored by Vapen CBD and Merry Jane with tickets available to the public for $65. The NFL will be directly addressed as well as research on cannabis and pain relief, concussion symptoms, and other injuries. Former NFL athletes attending the event include: Jim McMahon, Kyle Turley, and Nate Jackson. "It's time the discussion is brought to the national stage where it belongs," said Rory Mendoza, CEO of Cannabis in Professional Sports and organizer of the event. Inhaler manufacturer Vapen CBD and cannabis media and culture company Merry Jane will join forces with Doctors for Cannabis Research to sponsor the sports medicine forum scheduled from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 1 at Revention Music Center, 520 Texas Ave. Open to the public, tickets are available for $65.
The Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee was established in Colorado when voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. By the end of last year the committee recommended the research grants that have now been approved by the state of Colorado. 7 studies have been chosen to look at marijuana and public health and safety, with studies on the topics of: Duration of Marijuana Concentration in Breast Milk, The Adverse Effects of Edible Cannabis Products, The Cardiovascular Effects of Marijuana in At-Risk Patients, and Comparative Assessment of Driving Impairment on Occasional Versus Heavy Marijuana Users, and more. Officials are pushing for marijuana research in the state to fill the gaps still being enforced by federal prohibition. The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment announced the grants at the end of 2016. A total of $2.3 million will go to seven projects. The state already has approved $9 million in research over the past few years. “This research will be invaluable in Colorado and across the country,” Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer for the department, said in the statement. “The findings will inform our public education efforts and give people additional information they need to make decisions about marijuana use."
Within the next three months, New York patients will be able to have their medical marijuana delivered to them at home. Deliveries will be made first by Vireo Health, one of the 5 licensed growers, who operate dispensaries in Queens, White Plains, and Westchester County. Officials are doing their best to implement regulations to help patients, especially those that may not be able to leave their homes to purchase their medicine. Extra safety precautions will be taken for marijuana delivery drivers and vehicles. Patients will soon be able to sign up and see program details and pricing online at vireohealthny.com. “This is another step in the department’s implementation of the recommendations in the two-year report on New York’s medical marijuana program, in recognition of the fact that, in many cases, patients with serious health conditions cannot leave their homes and have difficulty accessing medical marijuana products,” the Health Department said in a statement “Home delivery will not only help us to improve upon current services, but also expand our reach to those patients who are unable to travel,” said Dr. Stephen Dahmer, Vireo Health’s chief medical officer. Certified marijuana patients or family members of patients can sign up for home delivery program updates by visiting vireohealthny.com.
Sports leagues, like federal organizations, have always been harsh on marijuana use and will go as far as suspending professional athletes for years from their craft and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. The Nevada Athletic Commission is having a hearing on Friday with plans to discuss cannabinoids and possibly exluding them from the list of Prohibited Substances and Methods. If the commission chooses to relax regulations on marijuana the changes wont take effect for another 3 months. Athletes should not be banned from a known non-addictive anti-inflammatory, especially when many of them are being prescribed addictive and harmful opiates to manage their pain brought on by the sport. Fighters testing positive for marijuana in Nevada have received some harsh sanctions in the past. Most notably, Nick Diaz was initially suspended five years and fined $165,000 after testing positive for marijuana following his bout with Anderson Silva at UFC 183 in Las Vegas. Diaz would later reach a settlement with the NAC reducing his suspension to 18 months and fine to $100,000. According to the agenda for the upcoming NAC hearing on Friday, the commission is going to discuss “the possible exclusion of cannabinoids from the list of Prohibited Substances and Methods.” TMZ Sports first reported the news on Tuesday.