Cannabis Industry Daily News

GW Pharma aiming for FDA approval for CBD drug this year, again

British cannabis company GW Pharmaceuticals is hoping the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will sign off on its CBD-based epilepsy treatment, Epidiolex, as soon as this year.

According to The Washington Post, GW is hoping to get the green light from the FDA to classify Epidiolex as a prescription drug, despite the fact it’s derived from marijuana.

To that end, GW released results this week from a scientific study, which, the company argues, proves the drug is effective in treating patients with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a form of epilepsy.

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The study found that over a 14-week period, 44% of study participants saw a “significant reduction” in the number of seizures they suffered, the Post reported.

GW Pharmaceuticals has been trying to gain FDA approval for Epidiolex for over two years but has had no success thus far.

The company even organized two separate clinical trials in 2016 – one was released in March and another in September.

Both found that Epidiolex can be effective for epileptic children who suffer from Dravet Syndrome, another form of intractable epilepsy.

GW had hopes in early 2016 of starting widespread U.S. sales of Epidiolex by the end of 2017.

Though that didn’t come to fruition, the company is aiming to begin sales in the second half of 2018, according to the Post.

After the two trials results were released in 2016, GW Pharmaceuticals’ stock price soared.

The company is traded on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol GWPH.

California raids continue on unlicensed marijuana dispensaries

Law enforcement raids on California dispensaries are not completely a thing of the past, especially for those that continue to sell cannabis without obtaining state or local permits.

In recent days, at least three unlicensed dispensaries have been raided by local police in Santa Ana in Orange County and the town of Vista, which is halfway between L.A. and San Diego.

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In Santa Ana, city police raided two unlicensed dispensaries, the Orange County Register reported. And in Vista, the San Diego County sheriff’s office conducted the raids, according to the City News Service.

In the Santa Ana raids, the police focused on building code violations and apparently made no arrests. In the Vista case, four employees were arrested and booked.

There are also raids ongoing in other areas, specifically on illegal grows.

In Cal City on Jan. 18, local police raided an illegal cannabis cultivation operation, 23 ABC News reported.

That was the town’s 18th raid in six weeks, culminating in nine arrests and the seizure of three tons of cannabis.

The raids are another indication that while California’s regulated market is still being rolled out, there are certain to be plenty of operators that will push the boundaries.

Illegal dispensaries, in particular, have been an ongoing problem for state and local authorities in California for years.

Colorado retains Franwell’s Metrc as cannabis seed-to-sale tracking system

Colorado marijuana regulators have chosen to continue the contract with Metrc for the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.

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According to the Denver Post, Colorado’s Department of Revenue plans to add three years to its contract with Franwell, the Florida-based company that developed Metric.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Colorado has used Metrc since 2011.
  • The company created the first state vendor cannabis tracking system for Colorado’s medical marijuana market.
  • Metrc’s new contract will begin Nov. 1 at a cost of $213,000 for the first year and then $71,000 for each additional year.
  • So far, Colorado has paid Franwell almost $900,000 to use its system.
  • Massachusetts selected Metrc for its state seed-to-sale tracking system earlier this month.
  • Metrc is also the state traceability system in Alaska, California, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio and Oregon.

Alaska scrutinizing two cannabis testing labs

Two marijuana testing facilities in Alaska are being audited by a state agency amid concerns about discrepancies in potency-testing results between the sites.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Health Laboratory is conducting the audits of CannTest and Steep Hill Alaska.

Erika McConnell, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, recommended the audit in November after seeing “significant deviation” in the two labs’ potency-testing results of the same product.

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The Marijuana Control Board, which regulates Alaska’s legal marijuana industry, issued a public service announcement earlier this month about the testing inconsistencies.

McConnell said she expects the audits to be completed in a few weeks.

In other action, the Marijuana Control Board elected Mark Springer to serve as chair.

He replaces Peter Mlynarik, who resigned from the board earlier this month.

Springer has been seen as a swing vote on some of Alaska’s marijuana issues, including whether to allow onsite cannabis consumption at authorized retail stores. Work on that issue continues.

Mlynarik, who held the board’s public safety seat, has been replaced by North Slope Borough Police Chief Travis Welch. Welch must still be confirmed by the legislature.

Cary Carrigan of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association said he doesn’t know much about Welch but is concerned about the appointment of a “prohibitionist.”

– Associated Press

California marijuana grower Canndescent closes $10M raise to boost output

Canndescent, a major California cultivation company, has closed a $10 million Series B offering to finance the launch of new products and expand its production capacity by some eightfold.

The lead investors in the raise are Floret Ventures, a San Francisco-based consultancy and investment firm, and Altitude Investment Partners in New York.

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Santa Barbara-based Canndescent plans to open its second cultivation facility Thursday, a move that will quadruple the grower’s production space to 48,000 square feet, the company said in a news release.

The company, which opened a production facility in Desert Hot Springs in 2016, did not disclose the site of the new facility.

Canndescent anticipates opening a third facility later this year, which would bring its production space to more than 100,000 square feet, according to the release. It did not specify the site of that facility.

Nevada shuts down fourth marijuana testing lab

Citing a “zero-tolerance policy,” Nevada regulators have suspended the licenses of four of the state’s nine testing labs since July.

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The state’s Department of Taxation, which took over regulating the industry last summer, shut down the four labs for “not following proper procedures,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The agency most recently suspended the license of Las Vegas-based Digipath Labs on Jan. 19.

Suspensions previously were handed down to Las Vegas-based G3 Labs and RSR Analytical Laboratories as well as Certified Ag Lab in Sparks. RSR and Certified’s licenses have been reinstated.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Nevada law mandates that marijuana businesses test all products through an independent lab before selling to customers.
  • No licenses for retail stores, growers or processors have been suspended since the tax department began regulating the marijuana program.
  • Digipath said in statement that it plans to submit details to the tax department on how it will correct its operations to get its license back.
  • The company drew the ire of regulators last June when it sent an email promoting a third-party event that paired marijuana with food. After the event was canceled, Digipath avoided punishment by donating $50,000 to a medical study on substance abuse.

California cannabis farmers sue state over loophole allowing multiple licenses

By MJBizDaily Staff

The California Growers Association has filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture for allowing companies to own multiple licenses and operate major grows.

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According to The Mendocino Voice, the association has accused the department of allowing a regulatory loophole in which a company could “obtain and aggregate unlimited smaller cultivation licenses to operate a cultivation site larger than the legal limit.”

The issue of multiple licenses also was raised Jan. 12 when California regulators held a public forum for members of the growers association.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The department’s initial regulations included a 1-acre limit on cultivation operations.
  • The growers association asserts that Proposition 64 – the bill voters approved in 2016 – originally gave small- and medium-sized cultivators five years to set up operations before larger operators could begin growing.
  • The association has circulated a petition over the past two months calling for the 1-acre limit to be reinstated, according to The Mendocino Voice. The petition has received 3,200 signatures.
  • California’s cities and counties are allowed to set their own regulations on the size of grows. Mendocino County, for example, caps cultivation operations at 10,000 square feet under its current ordinance.

Medical cannabis laws led to 15% drop in alcohol sales, study shows

With the rise of medical marijuana in the United States, alcohol businesses have taken a hit.

And the two very well may be correlated, according to a new study.

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The findings, from researchers at two U.S. universities and one in Peru, found a 15% monthly drop in alcohol sales between 2006 and 2015 in states that have adopted MMJ, Forbes reported.

“The overall conclusion of the study is marijuana and alcohol are strong substitutes for each other,” Forbes reported.

If that’s true – as many in the cannabis industry already believe – then that could provide even more incentive for alcohol companies to elbow their way into the marijuana trade, as Constellation Brands has already done.

The study was performed by researchers from the University of Connecticut, Georgia State University and the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima.

Poll: 57% of Michigan voters back recreational marijuana legalization

With a statewide ballot measure in Michigan likely to go before voters in November, the campaign working on the initiative just got some good news.

According to a recent poll of Michigan voters, a solid 57% of them already support adult-use legalization, according to a survey commissioned by TV station Local 4 and the Detroit News.

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Only 37% of Michigan voters were against the idea, the poll found, with about 6% undecided.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted roughly 363,000 signatures in November 2017 to secure a spot on the upcoming general election ballot for its legalization question, far more than the 252,523 needed to make the ballot.

But that doesn’t mean the rec legalization campaign this year is going to be a cakewalk.

Plenty of opposition has already begun organizing, and a victory in Michigan will probably require millions of dollars in funding.

Industry group suggests standards for marijuana packaging, labeling

By MJBizDaily Staff

The National Association of Cannabis Businesses, a self-regulatory organization, is proposing marijuana industry standards for packaging and labeling.

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The announcement comes in the wake of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision earlier this month to tear up key protections for the recreational cannabis industry.

According to a news release, the standards are designed to “help NACB members protect consumers and demonstrate to regulators, financial institutions and the public that NACB members operate at the highest levels of ethics and responsibility.”

The proposed standards include:

  • Labeling that indicates the marijuana product’s origin, cultivator and processor.
  • Methods for listing all ingredients present in the product.
  • Warning statements about the health risks associated with cannabis consumption.
  • Inclusion of major food allergen warnings and information about marijuana edibles based on U.S. Food & Drug Administration specifications.
  • Addressing health and medical claims for cannabis products.
  • Child-resistant packaging.
  • Avoiding packaging and labeling that appeal to minors.

The standards are available for public review and comment on the NACB website until Feb. 21.

Compliance with NACB standards is required of the organization’s members.

NACB – a division of First American Holdings, a technology and business services company – is a for-profit company.

The organization is led by Andrew Kline, a former assistant U.S. Attorney and senior adviser to former Vice President Joseph Biden when he was a senator.

New Jersey governor seeks improvements in medical marijuana program

(This story has been updated from an earlier version.)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy promised during his campaign that he would legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

But first, the Democrat hopes to revive New Jersey’s medical cannabis program.

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Murphy signed an executive order Tuesday to study a program he says has existed “in name only.”

The governor said he’s asking regulators to focus on:

  • Expanding the medical marijuana program.
  • Proposing new regulations.
  • Repealing rules that hamper the market.

The program has 15,000 registered patients while similar-sized state markets have hundreds of thousands of enrollees. Michigan, for example, has 218,000 registered patients.

The state’s medical marijuana program was expected to generate $20 million-$22 million in sales in 2017, according to Marijuana Business Daily estimates.

New Jersey approved an MMJ program in 2010. The first dispensary began sales in 2012, but the state didn’t license its sixth MMJ outlet until July 2017.

During his campaign to replace Republican Gov. Chris Christie, Murphy said he would sign an adult-use cannabis bill as soon as his first 100 days in office. A bill is pending in the Democrat-led legislature.

Murphy was sworn in Jan. 16.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily

More Republicans are raking in money from cannabis industry

The cannabis industry is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaign finance accounts of lawmakers and political action committees.

But, for the first time, more of that money is going to Republicans than to Democrats, according to survey by the Center for Responsive Politics commissioned by USA Today.

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The biggest beneficiaries are states’ rights Congressional Republicans who are trying to stop the Trump administration from targeting marijuana businesses and whom the industry sees as its best allies while an administration hostile to cannabis is in power.

The biggest donors, according to USA Today, are industry groups with political action committees, such as Marijuana Policy Project, NORML and the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Those groups combined have donated about $327,000 to candidates over the past three Congressional election cycles, the newspaper reported.

By comparison, the National Beer Wholesalers Association donated about $1.5 million to candidates in the past years alone, USA Today reported.