Much like the bud on a beautiful cannabis plant, the number of bills going through the Florida legislature continues to grow. On Wednesday, March 5, 2014, HB 1039 had its first reading in the Florida House and is now in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee for review. Democratic Florida House Representative Randolph Bracy went all out with the introduction of this bill to fully re-legalize the use of marijuana for any purpose - with some strings attached. HB 1039 would allow the recreational use of marijuana for those over 21 years of age in Florida and would also re-legalize marijuana related accessories legal for sale such as pipes and bongs.
The bill is one of at least four in the Florida legislature, not including the initiative which is set to be on the ballot this November for voters to legalize cannabis use for medical purposes. This is quite a reversal when just last year such a bill would never see the light of day. That changed last year once state politicians saw the writing on the wall - and poll numbers showing Floridians overwhelmingly favor legalization of marijuana.
We have not heard from the Libertarian Party of Florida, however we suspect they will endorse one of the bills and Bracy's bill may be the closest to the libertarian position of respecting individual rights. The Libertarian Party's has a principle of holding "that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose."
Across the nation there are a growing number of bills in state legislatures weighing the same arguments - whether to legalize and to what extent they wish to legalize. The states of Washington and Colorado have legalized the plant's use for any purpose with certain conditions. And just this past Tuesday, right in President Barack Obama's backyard, Washington, D.C. decriminalized possession of marijuana. In New Hampshire, medical patients will likely soon be able to grow their own cannabis for treatment on their own property.
more - For now, though, Gideon Murray of the Aspen LEAF #$%$ center said he is enjoying what he called the best job he’s ever had.
His partners in the business, Cloud Shadowshot and Jesse Miller, approached Murray a couple of years ago with a proposition to get into the industry, “to which I quickly said no,” he said. But after some research, Murray grew intrigued.
“When I look at the margins financially, the profitability is exponential,” he said.
While still shopping for retail space, the other crucial part of LEAF’s operation is about to sprout in Rifle, where the partners and their investors in January purchased a building. They plan to tear it down, and in its place will be a two-story structure for a 2,000-plant grow operation that, if all goes as planned, will double or triple LEAF’s current yield, he said.
“I think a lot of people will be surprised at how savvy this industry is going to become very quickly,” Murray said. “We’re specifically trying to position ourselves for a price war in the future, in that if we can be as efficient growers as possible then we can compete on price.”
While there are myriad, time-consuming and expensive aspects to the cannabis business, the lure is the profitability of the plants. If grown indoors, Murray said the cost calculation he provided to his investors is $750 to grow a pound, which involves electricity, labor, nutrients and rent, among other considerations. In the medicinal market, the pound can be sold for around $2,000.
“In recreational, with the demand spiking as everyone knows, it’s closer to $3,000,” he said.
(CNN) -- It's been eight months since I last wrote about #$%$, apologizing for having not dug deeply into the beneficial effects of this plant and for writing articles dismissing its potential. I apologized for my own role in previously misleading people, and I feel very badly that people have suffered for too long, unable to obtain the legitimate medicine that may have helped them.
I have been reminded that a true and productive scientific journey involves a willingness to let go of established notions and get at the truth, even if it is uncomfortable and even it means having to say "sorry."
It is not easy to apologize and take your lumps, but this was never about me.
This scientific journey is about a growing number of patients who want the cannabis plant as a genuine medicine, not to get high.
It is about emerging science that not only shows and proves what marijuana can do for the body but provides better insights into the mechanisms of marijuana in the brain, helping us better understand a plant whose benefits have been documented for thousands of years. This journey is also about a Draconian system where politics override science and patients are caught in the middle.
Since our documentary "Weed" aired in August, I have continued to travel the world, investigating and asking tough questions about marijuana.
I have met with hundreds of patients, dozens of scientists and the curious majority who simply want a deeper understanding of this ancient plant. I have sat in labs and personally analyzed the molecules in marijuana that have such potential but are also a source of intense controversy. I have seen those molecules turned into medicine that has quelled epilepsy in a child and pain in a grown adult. I've seen it help a woman at the peak of her life to overcome the ravages of multiple sclerosis.
I am more convinced than ever that it is irresponsible to not provide the best care we can, care that often may involve marijuana.
I am not backing down on #$%$; I am doubling down.
I should add that, although I've taken some heat for my reporting on marijuana, it hasn't been as lonely a position as I expected. Legislators from several states have reached out to me, eager to inform their own positions and asking to show the documentary to their fellow lawmakers.
I've avoided any lobbying, but of course it is gratifying to know that people with influence are paying attention to the film. One place where lawmakers saw a long clip was Georgia, where the state House just passed a #$%$ bill by a vote of 171-4. Before the legislative session started, most people didn't think this bill had a chance.
More remarkable, many doctors and scientists, worried about being ostracized for even discussing the potential of marijuana, called me confidentially to share their own stories of the drug and the benefit it has provided to their patients. I will honor my promise not to name them, but I hope this next documentary will enable a more open discussion and advance science in the process.
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, defined as "the most dangerous" drugs "with no currently accepted medical use."
Neither of those statements has ever been factual. Even many of the most ardent critics of #$%$ don't agree with the Schedule I classification, knowing how it's impeded the ability to conduct needed research on the plant.
Even the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, seems to have softened her stance; she told me she believes we need to loosen restrictions for researchers.
Along the way, the public has become intensely engaged. Our collective society has paid closer attention to this issue than ever before, and with that increased education, support for #$%$ has only grown, including in some unexpected places.
Pete Carroll, the coach of the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks, said the National Football League should explore #$%$ if it helps players. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn't dismissed the idea, saying that if marijuana is reconsidered by the medical establishment, the league would treat it the same as any other medicine. Goodell also says the NFL is following the science that suggests marijuana may help recovery from concussions.
Recently, I had the chance to tell him that the United States already holds a patent on #$%$ for that very purpose. Patent No. 6630507: Cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke or trauma.
However, this particular issue still bothers me: How can the government deny the benefits of #$%$ even as it holds a patent for those very same benefits? Members of the Food and Drug Administration declined my repeated requests for an interview.
This past year, President Barack Obama told the New Yorker magazine, "I don't think (marijuana) is more dangerous than alcohol." And yet, as alcohol remains available to any adult, the president has not moved to remove marijuana from the list of the most tightly controlled substances in the country.
Since I started my reporting on this topic, I have mostly resisted temptation to inject a subjective moral equivalency into this discussion, such as pitting alcohol against marijuana or reminding you that cocaine and methamphetamine are actually more available than marijuana to patients, physicians and medical researchers: They are Schedule II drugs, with recognized medical uses. Or telling you that on average, a person dies every 19 minutes in this country from a legal prescription drug overdose, while it is virtually unheard-of to die from a marijuana overdose.
But, with a discussion like this, consistency does matter. Terms matter, too.
We are talking about a medicine, known scientifically as cannabis. In order for people to start thinking of this substance as a medicine, perhaps we should start calling it by its medical name, something that was suggested to me by #$%$ advocates pretty much everywhere I went this year.
I've tried to pull together these latest developments in our new documentary, "Cannabis Madness." Although the 1936 film "Reefer Madness" was propaganda made to advance an agenda with dramatic falsehoods and hyperbole, I hope you will find "Cannabis Madness" an accurate reflection of what is happening today, injected with the best current science.
You will meet families all across the country -- a stay-at-home mom from Ohio, a nurse practitioner from Florida, an insurance salesman from Alabama -- more than 100 families who have all left jobs, homes, friends and family behind and moved to Colorado to get the medicine that relieves their suffering.
As things stand now, many of these good people don't ever get to return home. Why? Because transporting their medicine, even if it is a non-psychoactive cannabis oil, could get them arrested for drug trafficking. And so they are stuck, cannabis refugees.
You will meet them, and if you're like me, you'll be heartbroken to hear their stories, but you'll also have a lump in your throat when you see the raw, true love these parents have for their sick children.
History books may one day draw a parallel between this chapter of #$%$ and the story of David and Goliath. Playing the role of David's slingshot, which ultimately brought Goliath to his knees, would be a 2-year-old girl named Vivian Wilson. She inspired her father to challenge the system in a spectacular way that caused a nation to stop for a moment and take note.
For months, we have filmed and followed the Wilson family with all of their trials and tribulations, and you will meet the whole family in the upcoming documentary.
I am a father myself, first and foremost. I don't want my children taking or being offered a psychoactive substance. As a neurosurgeon, I know that the developing brain is more susceptible to the most harmful effects of cannabis and that brain development continues well into our mid-20s.
I also worry that generations from now, my great-grandkids will find Internet headlines referring to me as the "pot doc." I do hope they will also read the rest of the story and understand the lives of the countless people who have suffered needlessly when a plant could have helped. I hope they know that I have dedicated my time to researching the medical literature, speaking to the scientists in person and piecing together a fact-based presentation meant to educate, not frighten.
I hope future generations won't consider me naive. Yes, I know there is a concern that many people out there will feign ailments just to get marijuana. But withholding legitimate treatment for the needy is a very unjust way of addressing that concern.
As a physician and reporter, I feel a deeper obligation to present the real stories, soundly supported with the science from all over the world.
When I first apologized for my previous marijuana reporting, I was thinking about the impact that reporting may have had on Charlotte Figi. She is a sweet little girl whose brain was locked in nearly nonstop seizure activity. Without success, she tried seven different medications, stringent diets and high-dose supplements. Modern medicine had nothing more to offer, which is why her parents turned to an ancient plant. As you know, it worked.
And, as you will see, she is one of so many patients out there, suffering from different ailments, who believe cannabis rescued them when nothing else did.
For conditions like Charlotte's, the American Epilepsy Society says that there are a million people for whom existing therapies do not control their seizures. The society recently said anecdotes about #$%$ "give reason for hope" and said it supports "well-controlled studies that will lead to a better understanding of the disease and the development of safe and effective treatments."
You should know that Charlotte continues to do well. When I saw her around the holidays, she ran over and gave me a hug. She looked me in the eyes, took me by the hand and led me all around to meet her friends. She is a delightful, happy and now healthy little girl.
I know the discussion around this topic will no doubt get heated. I have felt that heat. But I feel a greater responsibility than ever to make sure those heated discussions are also well-informed by science.
And, with that: I hope you get a chance to watch on March 11 at 10 p.m. Eastern.
OTTAWA - The Conservative government is seriously considering looser marijuana laws that would allow police to ticket anyone caught with small amounts of pot instead of laying charges, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday.
"We're not talking about decriminalization or legalization," MacKay said prior to the weekly Conservative caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.
"The Criminal Code would still be available to police, but we would look at options that would ... allow police to ticket those types of offences."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is open to such an approach, he added.
The justice minister has hinted in the past that such a move was under consideration. The country's police chiefs —as well as some Tory caucus members, MacKay says — have long called for ticketing people for pot possession instead of laying criminal charges.
But MacKay has also been among the Conservatives' fiercest critics of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's stance on the issue. Trudeau supports the legalization of marijuana, a position the Tories have mocked with gleeful abandon.
MacKay accused the Liberal leader of promoting drug use to elementary schoolchildren last fall after Trudeau answered a question about his marijuana policies from First Nations high school students in Sioux Valley, Man. There were elementary school kids in the audience at the time.
"Justin Trudeau's comments to elementary school children regarding the legalization of marijuana is not only bad policy, but is completely unacceptable and grossly inappropriate," MacKay said in a statement at the time.
"He's directly delivering a message to children now that recreational drug use is OK."
Trudeau responded by saying that marijuana was dangerous for young people, because their minds are still developing, but added he believes regulating pot will make it safer for children.
The Liberal leader called on MacKay to retract the comments, calling them "shameful."
Under the Criminal Code as it now stands, anyone convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana can be jailed for up to five years. First-time offenders can face fines of up to $1,000 or as much as six months in jail.
The Justice Department is looking into the issue and may present a draft bill that would reflect the change in policy, MacKay said. He made the announcement following a weekend meeting with Vancouver's police chief, who supports the approach.
Federal laws on marijuana possession could soon get a major facelift.
The Conservative government is looking at potentially changing policy to allow police officers to issue tickets to people caught with small amounts of marijuana, rather than lay charges.
This is distinct from decriminalization or legalization of marijuana.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay told reporters on Parliament Hill Wednesday morning he has tasked the justice department "with looking at and coming forward with what could be a draft legislation."
In contrast, MacKay's office said only yesterday it had "nothing new to add at this point" regarding possible changes to the laws on marijuana.
"As was stated previously, our government would look at the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police’s proposal to ticket small amounts of marijuana," he said in response to a CBC News query.
Today, MacKay said he met with over the weekend with Vancouver's police chief, who he said "seems to be very favourably inclined," as well as "a lot of police" he spoke with lately.
"So it is under serious consideration," MacKay said.
Canadian police chiefs support a ticketing system for pot possession, which they adopted as a resolution at a meeting in Winnipeg last August.
Currently, under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act of the Criminal Code of Canada, a person found guilty of possession of small amounts of marijuana can be jailed up to five years. A first-time offender could be fined up to $1,000 or face up to six months in jail.
news just out
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KTVI) – Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander approved Wednesday a petition to circulate in the state that would allow the production, sale, distribution, and consumption of marijuana and hemp products.
The petitions would amend Article I of the Missouri Constitution.
The official ballot title is, 2014-122, and will read as:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
allow the production, sale, distribution, and consumption of marijuana and hemp products by persons at least 21 years old;
permit the state to establish a tax and authorize regulations and licensing procedures for marijuana;
change criminal provisions for marijuana offenses and allow individuals who have certain marijuana-related offenses to apply to have the records relating to the offenses expunged; and
allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes?
State government expects $1 million in start-up costs and annual operating costs starting at $4.8 million, possibly offset by unknown savings in the criminal justice system. Legislative and agency actions will impact potential increased state revenue. The annual revenue increase could possibly exceed $217 million. The fiscal impact to local governments is unknown.
In order for the amendment could be placed on the November 4, 2014 ballot, the petition needs registered voters signatures equal to 8% of the total votes cast in the 2012 gubernatorial election, form six of he eight congressional districts.
Signatures must then be presented to the Secretary of State’s office by 5 pm on May 4, 2014.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Washington DC has taken another step towards legalizing marijuana. On Tuesday the District of Columbia approved a bill 10-1 to decriminalize small possessions of pot. Individuals aged 18 and older will only be fined $25 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana or basically the same as a parking ticket.
DC had the nation's highest rate arrest rate in the country for pot possession, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, and the burden was felt mostly by the African American population. Ninety-one percent of those arrested were black people and they were eight times more likely to be arrested than whites, even though pot usage is considered to be equal. DC expects to save millions as a result of the change for court costs. The ACLU estimated that DC spent $26.5 million enforcing the possession law.
The bill also removes penalties for marijuana accessories or paraphernalia and individuals can't be searched for marijuana suspicion. However, it is still a crime to smoke: publicly punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has said he supports the bill and it is expected to be signed quickly. It then goes to Congressional review for 60 days because it affects criminal sentencing.
As the cannabis plant is reintroduced to America, what’s more logical than corporate sponsorship of cannabis events? Wall Street is paying attention.
420 is now becoming the subject of festivals and concerts, especially in Colorado and Washington state, where medicinal marijuana is legal. Even in Texas, which hasn’t relaxed its marijuana laws, there are at least 10 events in Houston alone featuring the 420 moniker.
Mainstream companies aren’t quite ready to embrace illegal drugs just yet, but they are sampling the market. Red Bull reached out to “fine”marijuana grower Diego Pellicer as a potential sponsor for the 420 Fest in Colorado . . . Although it seems to be an oxymoron to pair an energy drink with the relaxing nature of cannabis. [HMJ met Diego Pellicer earlier, back in May of 2013).
Publicly-traded GrowLife (PHOT)is a co-sponsor of the 420Fest in Colorado. CEO Sterling Scott said, "Colorado is the place to be." He went on to say, "We are pleased to be able to support this cultural and musical event. It has the making of Woodstock for this generation." Colorado is also benefiting from tourists traveling to the state to celebrate the two day 420 festival.
Coincidentally, earlier this week, House Bill 1523 Respect State marijuana Laws Act was introduced in Congress, which essentially will allow states to set their own laws with regards to pot. It is one of several pending before Congress now. GrowLife supports HR 1523. Scott believes that as the laws move towards taxing and regulation of pot, more companies will jump into sponsorships.
In Miami, Nug Brand clothing is a sponsor for a 420 event. The company specializes in cannabis apparel and accessories. Cavigold Records is a sponsor of the HempFest in Seattle. Houston has several 420 events and sponsors of the 420 one Love Event include locally made DASH Vodka and Angels Envy Whiskey and FatCat Creamery.
According to US Government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA), almost half of pot smokers are in the sought after 18-25 year old demographic. Since this generation no longer watches television or reads magazines, 420 festivals may be the best new way to reach this crowd.
For reasons beyond my pay grade I can't embed a link to this post. I'd suggest "the street, marijuana & corporate sponsorship" in your search engine.
Next time you are searching for money for your cannabis festival, call on some of the big corporations in your area. Who knows?
A Madison Heights businessman is building a facility in Canada to grow government-controlled #$%$ that he hopes to turn into a $5 billion a year business that could spread to the U.S.
Bill Chaaban, CEO of Creative Edge Nutrition Inc. headquartered in Madison Heights, is working with that company’s Canadian subsidiary, CEN Biotech, to build a marijuana growing facility near Windsor in Lakeshore, Ont.
The company has gotten permission from the national Health Canada department to build its industrial growing facility. Once it is complete and Health Canada inspects it, Chaaban expects he will get permission to grow and sell marijuana for import and export with the roughly 30 countries worldwide that allow for medical or legal marijuana use.
He would not disclose how he raised the estimated $12 million it is costing to build the growing operation, saying only that he got the money from public and private sources.
Canadian law allows the use of #$%$ by registered patients and caregivers who are allowed to grow limited amounts of marijuana or purchase it from Health Canada. But, starting April 1, patients will have to buy marijuana from several pot growers licensed by Health Canada.
Chaaban is starting out with a 27,000-square-foot facility on 10.3 acres. He said he wants to eventually expand that facility to more than 1 million square feet on multiple floors and within five years grow 1.3 million pounds of pot annually.
“That would translate to $5 billion a year” in revenue, Chaaban said. “We anticipate a profit margin of 80 percent.”
Right now workers are installing cameras, fencing and other security features at the Lakeshore facility in anticipation of an inspection by Health Canada to get a permit to grow.
“We anticipate our license being issued in eight to 12 weeks,” Chaaban said. Pot production could begin within six months.
Chaaban said he is working with another Madison Heights company called RXNB Inc. that makes hydroponic equipment to grow cannabis.
The Michigan Legislature in December passed a bill that would allow pharmacies to dispense #$%$ should the federal government ever legalize it. The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, who is an M.D. The law would prohibit individuals from growing their own marijuana and only allow pot to be grown by producers licensed by the state Department of Community Health.
The bill would make marijuana a Schedule II drug, a highly restrictive classification that presently includes highly addictive drugs such as morphine, OxyContin, amphetamines, Percodan and Methadone.
Sen. Kahn refused to comment on issues related to his bill when his office was contacted.
Marijuana laws in the U.S. are slackening state by state, even though pot is prohibited under federal law. Two states – Washington and Colorado – have legalized pot, while about 20 others have decriminalized the substance or allowed it to be used for medical patients.
Tim Beck, a Detroit resident and co-founder of the Safer Michigan Coalition, was most recently involved in ballot measures in Michigan that decriminalized possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults on private property in Jackson, Lansing and Ferndale.
Beck was also involved in other measures to decriminalize or allow for #$%$ in other cities in Michigan over the past decade.
“Ultimately, I believe marijuana will be legalized in this country,” Beck said. “With Chaaban, his deal is only relevant to Canada, which will go to a full regulatory model. That could be the model we end up with in the U.S. if we get full legalization, but it will be a state-by-state thing.”
It will take about a decade before a majority of states in the U.S move to legalizing pot, Beck added.
Chaaban is more optimistic about pot being legalized in the U.S., estimating the federal government could move toward legalization for medical use within two years.
He sees his company doing up to $50 million a year in #$%$ sales in the U.S. if it is legalized nationwide.
Chaaban said he will be ready if that day comes and would grow marijuana in Michigan and look to build a growing facility in Detroit.
The Creative Edge Nutrition company that Chaaban heads sells nutritional supplements and is a public company that trades as a high-risk “over-the-counter”/Pink Sheet stock for about 7 cents as of Tuesday, according to Business Insider, a U.S. business and technology website.
An attorney, Chaaban said he has never used marijuana even though he is betting on profiting from its medical use.
“I never knew what a marijuana plant looked like until I went to Santa Cruz (Calif.) and saw one” recently, he said.
The D.C. Council on Tuesday approved legislation to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in the nation’s capital, joining 17 other states that have some form of decriminalization.
The bill adopted on a 10-1 vote will make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $25, yet preserves laws making the public smoking of marijuana a criminal offense.
An initial version of the bill would have also decriminalized public smoking of the drug but council members amended the legislation at the request of Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who were worried that it would lead to widespread use in public.
The bill reduces the criminal penalties for marijuana use — up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine — to a punishment of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
However, the bill’s chief sponsor, D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, worries that in its adopted form that racial disparities will persist among those arrested for smoking.
During Tuesday’s hearing on the bill, an amendment was also added that would give prosecutorial authority of any criminal marijuana cases to the D.C. Attorney General rather than letting the U.S. Attorney’s Office handle the cases.
look down the board
from article on Main Street today on FITX investment
NEW YORK (MainStreet) — In Canada, regulation changes on April 1 will allow licensed producers to grow medical marijuana on a commercial scale. That's a radical shift, moving from a sole provider system to one with multiple providers. As a result, patients will no longer be able to grow their own medicine, but the Health Canada-run program will have eight to ten approved providers to cultivate the goods.
"The story is big, because the patient population is likely to explode," said Alan Brochstein, founder of marijuana stock subscription service 420 Investor. "There have been impediments for patients to becoming eligible, primarily a ten-week wait-list under the old regime."
Health Canada conservatively estimates the Canadian market could be worth $1.3 billion by the end of 2014. Industry analysts see that number doubling by 2016 to $2.6 billion. Added with the growth of the U.S. market, forecasts suggest the North American cannabis market should top $5 billion-plus by 2016.
The authorized Canadian licensed producers under the "Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations" are as follows:
Bedrocan Canada Inc.
Canna Farms Ltd.
The Peace Naturals Project Inc.
ThunderBird Biomedical Inc.
Whistler Medical Marijuana Corp.
Reaping the Benefits of Fertile Ground
The investor can find a wealth of opportunity in this news.
The public company play is Creative Edge Nutrition (FITX), which controls subsidiary CEN Biotech, equipped with a super grow cannabis facility in Lakeshore Ontario (still seeking approval from Health Canada to grow and sell cannabis). CEN Biotech will have a funding and supplier agreement with GrowLife (PHOT), a company that supplies specialized equipment to cannabis growers and marijuana dispensaries. In January, GrowLife through its joint venture partner OGI invested in CEN Biotech's ten-acre cultivation plant, expected to produce up to 1.3 million pounds of medical marijuana annually, with $40 million in restricted stock.
"My intention is to grow enough cannabis to supply Canada and build an export market," said Bill Chaaban, CEO of Creative Edge Nutrition in Madison Heights, Mich.
Marijuana from this Canadian facility would be sold in Israel, Holland, Colombia and Uruguay.
"We are looking for five times the return on our investment from this partnership," GrowLife CEO Sterling Scott told MainStreet.
Another play to look for: CEN Biotech will use technology company Endexx (EDXC) for its seed-to-sale tracking software. Licensed producer Tweed is looking to go public through reverse merger. Also keep an eye on seed-to-shelf cannabis cultivator Tilray, a company in Nanaimo, British Columbia that is controlled by Privateer Holdings, a highly regarded cannabis-focused private equity fund.
Medical marijuana is currently legal in 20 U.S. states, with Colorado and Washington state recently decriminalizing recreational use. This trend is only accelerating.
Recent analysis on the American marijuana marketplace by ArcView Angel Investors forecasted that the five-year national market could grow to $10.2 billion amid rising demand and potentially new state markets.
Financiers in Canada are looking to capitalize on this expanded demand in the U.S. and growing ability in Canada by using their business acumen to help develop cannabis companies that already have technical expertise.
Harry Barr, financier and president and CEO of mining company Next Gen Metals (CSE:N), is looking to get in on the marijuana game up north.
"Recent legal changes have convinced us that this emerging, multi-billion dollar market would benefit from our expertise," Barr said. "A growing proportion of the medical community believe that medical marijuana and more specifically cannabinoids have the potential to help patients who are suffering from a variety of ailments and illnesses."
Drugs like Sativex, developed by GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) and expected to be instrumental in treating epilepsy, are part of an increasingly sophisticated and versatile medical marijuana market, according to Rick Doblin, the founder Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit research and educational organization working to develop psychedelics and marijuana into legal prescription drugs.
"I think Sativex will be a boon to pharmaceutics," said Doblin, who has also served on the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws since 1996. "The main advantage of Sativex for pharmaceutical companies is that it will be approved for insurance."
"Next Gen's vision is to be a leading provider of venture capital, management expertise, education and act as a facilitator for this important new industry," Barr said.
With financial and strategic backing, more lenient cultivation laws and expanded demand, the opportunity to count this Canadian growth as an investment win has arrived.
Several states are considering legalizing recreational marijuana, but in Colorado where recreational pot is now legal, Gov. John Hickenlooper thinks marijuana sales will bring in more than $600 million a year, with $134 million in taxes.
One small town, Garden City, Colo., is already seeing a windfall.
A four-by-five block, one-stoplight town, Garden City now knows something about cashing in on temptation. It's the only town in a county of 4,000 square miles where recreational pot sales are legal.
Erica Pilch owns Cloud 9 where the staff can barely keep up. Pilch said, "We get (customers) from all over everywhere. And most -- you know, there's people that travel two hours to come here. ... We are an island."
The city was started when Prohibition ended in 1933. Surrounding Weld County and its cities stayed dry, so a local entrepreneur incorporated the tiny town, issued liquor licenses, and Garden City enjoyed an 80-proof boom that lasted until the laws changed in the late 1960s.
And then, Colorado voters legalized pot for medical and later recreational use, but cities in Weld County opted out of allowing sales, except for Garden City, population about 300.
Brian Seifried, the town's part-time mayor, said, "One's decision to smoke marijuana or not is a very personal decision."
Asked for words of wisdom to those who are afraid of legalized marijuana, Seifried said, "It's wise to try new things. In order to move forward as a community, sometimes you need to make leaps of faith."
And the boom is back. Last year, taxes from pot poured $250,000 -- a third of the budget -- into city coffers from medicinal sales. Recreational marijuana sales this year will add a lot more.
With that extra cash, the city trimmed everyone's trees for free, and gives matching grants for everything, from painting fences to upgrading store fronts.
Seifried said, "It's great that the law was written in a way that each community can make their own decision."
CBS News' Barry Petersen remarked to Seifried, "Well, it's great for you because they said 'no' and you said 'yes'."
Seifried replied, "Absolutely. It definitely gives us a little bit of a niche we haven't had for a long time."
Down the street, owner John Rotherham is busy expanding Nature's Herbs and Wellness, with more room for a lot more plants, and that means he needs a lot more workers.
His employees already include his parents and cousins, who trim the marijuana buds for sale. He now has around 50 employees, and expects to double his workforce after he's finished expanding.
Pot is giving Garden City new highs, high employment, high tax revenue, and, as Barry Petersen reported, high hopes for even better times ahead.
A federal program that encouraged “exponential growth” in the production and sale of #$%$ in Canada has also led to homicides, violent home invasions and non-stop drug dealing in residential neighbourhoods, according to Health Canada documents and data made public for the first time.
Introduced in 2001, the government’s #$%$ Access Regulations [MMAR] have lately caused so much mayhem and fostered such massive increases in cannabis cultivation — especially in British Columbia, where two million marijuana plants were authorized last year — that the federal government is dumping the flawed program for a new scheme.
The replacement, Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations [MMPR], comes into effect on April 1. The MMPR is supposed to eliminate conditions that allowed for unsafe and essentially unfettered marijuana production in tens of thousands of private dwellings across the country.
The MMPR will require Canada’s 37,000 authorized #$%$ consumers to buy their weed from a small number of tightly regulated commercial grow operations, scattered across several provinces. Patients will no longer be allowed to cultivate their own marijuana or purchase it from their neighbours.
Not everyone is happy with the changes. Some #$%$ users are attempting to delay or avoid the MMPR scheme, by suing the Government of Canada. In one case, filed in federal court in Vancouver, five plaintiffs claim the MMPR will lead to severe cannabis shortages, and to higher prices, and that its provisions will violate their constitutional rights. The plaintiffs are seeking exemptions from the MMPR and an injunction preserving the MMAR.
“The old system had its problems, there’s no question about it,” says one #$%$ insider and advocate who helps prospective marijuana growers obtain federal permits. “But on April 1, there’s going to be a marijuana shortage, and there will be a significant percentage of the market that’s going to have to resort to other remedies and break the law in order to obtain medicine.” He spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals from Health Canada.
As of this week, Health Canada had licensed just eight commercial growers, capable of producing an estimated 31,000 kilograms of marijuana per year. Another 12 commercial growers will be licensed by the April 1 regime change, Health Canada predicts.
A department spokesman said Friday that “conditions are in place for adequate supply to emerge.” Health Canada had previously expressed confidence that the “fledgling licensed producer industry” will meet the demand for #$%$ come next month. As a precaution, according to court documents obtained by the National Post, Health Canada has stockpiled between 400 and 500 kilograms of marijuana from its own former supplier, Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems. It has also “approved import from the Netherlands of over 100 kilograms of dried marijuana” this year, to help avoid a supply shortage. Health Canada refused on Friday to reveal how much Dutch weed the government has imported to date, but says that some has arrived.
There were never any concerns about marijuana shortages under the MMAR program, far from it. But abuse was rampant. The old rules permitted up to four marijuana production licences in a single residence, be it an apartment, townhouse or detached home. That “could result in an average of 352 plants being grown in a single dwelling,” reads one Health Canada document, filed in federal court three weeks ago as part of the government’s MMPR defence.
The department estimates that more than three million #$%$ plants were cultivated in Canada last year, capable of producing up to 190,000 kilograms of pot. That works out to a staggering 17.7 grams of #$%$ for each authorized consumer per day, enough to roll 54 to 90 joints. Obviously, not all of that product was consumed by authorized users; some, if not most, would have been diverted to the black market.
On April 1, there’s going to be a marijuana shortage, and there will be a significant percentage of the market that’s going to have to resort to other remedies and break the law
“The MMAR [was] never intended to permit such widespread, large-scale production,” Health Canada’s former director of #$%$ regulatory reform, Jeannine Ritchot, said in a court affidavit filed on Feb. 7. “What was originally intended to provide legal access to dried marijuana for a relatively small number of seriously ill Canadians has grown exponentially.”
Close to 30,000 Canadians were authorized to grow pot last year, a five-fold increase from 2010, according to Health Canada data. Most of them live in B.C. The number of authorized users increased 470% over the same three-year period.
Other Health Canada documents predict the number of authorized users will continue to skyrocket under the new system, to some 308,000 consumers by 2024. The MMPR will simplify the process of obtaining #$%$ permits, by allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe the drug, in addition to doctors.
Despite the predicted increase in consumption, society as a whole will benefit from the new regime, Ms. Ritchot says in her affidavit. The large-scale commercial operators will offer better cannabis products, grown under safer, sanitary conditions. Their facilities will be professionally managed and secured, and will be regularly inspected. “Compliance and enforcement activities can be carried out to the benefit [sic] individual users and the general public,” notes Ms. Ritchot.
A large portion of the current "legal" marijuana output is fed into the black market says Health Canada.
She refers in her affidavit to “thousands of pieces of correspondence” including “unsolicited letters from homeowners” received by Health Canada over the years, which, she says, help demonstrate “the unintended consequences of the [MMAR].” Her affidavit notes that under the old MMAR system, residential cultivation caused “significant health and safety risks” such as “violence, including home invasion, theft and homicide; the presence of firearms; diversion to the illicit market; the presence of toxic chemicals; various risks to children.”
Ms. Ritchot quotes from more than a dozen letters, including this from a homeowner bothered by a #$%$ grower living next door: “He has become a very aggressive neighbour,” the letter-writer complained. “We live in constant fear of what he might do to us and our properties. Some of the neighbours had to install surveillance cameras on their houses because they are afraid of what [the licensed grower] and his ‘friends’ will do. We live in a very stressful environment.”
Another homeowner wrote to Health Canada about their new neighbours: “They started an indoor marijuana grow-op. This is no small operation. They are known cocaine and ecstasy dealers also. The RCMP busted them for a large quantity of marijuana and cash two years ago. They have never quit growing it because they got a doctor’s prescription for #$%$ and started growing twice as much while they were waiting to go to court….We have this drug factory in a normally great neighbourhood with kids and families.”
The affidavit also refers to correspondence from municipal officials. One letter Health Canada received from a B.C. district office described how “demands for electricity from exceedingly large marijuana grow operations, some licensed and some not, have caused power outages that have left legitimate businesses without the ability to function.”
Will the new system eliminate illicit production, and all the problems associated with it? Very unlikely. What is certain, however, is that consumption of government-approved marijuana will grow higher and higher.