All posts by bccannabis

Michigan medical cannabis grower and patient with a passion for writing and learning about weed and its growing culture.

Coca-Cola and Aurora Consider Producing Marijuana Infused Drinks

This week another beverage giant, Coca-Cola, has shown interest in possibly partnering with Aurora Cannabis in order to develop various weed-infused beverages.  While nothing has been verified by either company, they have both made statements confirming that they are thinking about pursuing this business opportunity.  Even though no solid agreements were made, this didn’t stop Aurora’s stock prices from soaring today.  It saw an increase of 12% when the news of this partnership first broke.  Both companies have hinted that they will be producing beverages that are more focused on approving health then getting stoned.  CBD seems to be the main focus of Coca-Cola, at least for the time being.  They mentioned that the non-psychoactive compound is already being used in beverages across the world for health benefits and that they are monitoring this closely.  It is likely that they are focusing on this instead of THC infused drinks because recreational marijuana is not yet legal in Canada or the U.S.  There will also be a period of time after it is legalized next month where stores will not yet be operating.  So it makes sense to first focus heavily on the already existing medical marijuana industry.

If this partnership were to happen, it would be the first time a major non-alcoholic drink producer entered into the cannabis market.  This is shortly after the major $4 billion investment Constellation Brands made in Canopy Growth, Canada’s largest medical marijuana producer.  A lot of investments and partnerships are being considered as we come closer and closer to recreational marijuana in Canada.  Alcohol producer Molson-Coors had already announced earlier this year that they plan to produce cannabis-infused drinks with Hydropothecary.  I would be willing to bet there will be more partnerships made by companies that have no existing relationship with cannabis.  As long as a corporation has the existing infrastructure to easily produce a cannabis-related product or service, the possibility exists.  Coke would have to invest little to nothing into their existing bottling and distribution centers.  They would just need to source CBD or other cannabinoids and simply add it into the existing production process.

Cannabis infused drinks, if priced competitively, are extremely popular among cannabis consumers and patients.  It is a great way to consume cannabis without the harms of smoking or eating unhealthy infused sweets.  Most popular edibles that are produced have lots of fat and sugar.  The target market for these new types of drinks would be the more health-conscious consumer.  That is as long as Coca-Cola doesn’t decide to produce marijuana-infused drinks that are as bad for you as drinking coke.  I think it would be a much smarter move to create a drink with much less sugar and caffeine.  After all, they are planning on producing a beverage aimed at improving health.  If they are successful at accomplishing this, they may even be able to reduce the negative stigma associated with their popular brand name.

Both companies have made it clear that there is absolutely zero guarantee that this merger will happen despite the great opportunity.  Having an enormous corporation like Coca-Cola on Aurora’s team would put it in a better position to compete with Canopy Growth.  They also probably will be developing marijuana-infused beverages with the knowledge and expertise Constellation Brands brings to the table.  Both Coca-Cola and Aurora saw a rise in their stock value without any solid plans being announced.  Imagine what type of increase they would see if a merger is confirmed, or if Aurora was able to expand to the United States.  There is great opportunity ahead for Canada’s biggest medical marijuana producers.

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Should Marijuana be Classified as a Psychedelic/Hallucinogen

Classifying psychoactive drugs into different categories is usually a pretty straightforward process.  The consistently documented effects of a substance are compared to one of the three main drug categories: stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens.  Some drugs have many properties that make it possible for them to fit into more than one of these groups.  Determining how drugs affect the central nervous system is the key to differentiating between stimulants and depressants.  Stimulants are known for increasing the activity in the CNS, leading to feelings of energy and alertness.  Depressants do the opposite, while hallucinogens interact mostly with the chemical serotonin.  With drugs like alcohol or cocaine, it is extremely easy to figure out where to classify them.  That’s because alcohol will always slow users down mentally(reaction times) and physically when it comes to heart rate and breathing.  There aren’t different strains or types of alcohol or cocaine that allow users to have a different experience.  The only difference will lie in how potent those depressing or stimulating effects will be from batch to batch.  Cannabis is much more difficult to throw into one category.

Everyone has heard the phrase that drugs affect everyone differently.  This is true in a sense, but it’s also true that drugs have basic effects that will happen to the vast majority or all of its users.  For example, cannabis will make users feel very euphoric and more sensitive to sounds and taste.  I’ve never come across someone who has argued food doesn’t taste better while high.  The same goes for listening to music.  It just sounds so new and full of detail.  There are so many strains available now that users can customize their high by selecting a strain that was bred for a specific effect or medical condition.  This is the main reason why its difficult to categorize marijuana.  If someone were to get their hands on an extremely powerful indica such as Gorilla Cookie or Banana Kush, there would be no stimulant properties to be found.  If you manage to stay awake after using one of these strains, the strong feeling of relaxation will make it very tempting to just kick back.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, sativas can make people so alert and sensitive to their surroundings that paranoia kicks in.  However, no strain will ever cause visuals or make users see things that are not really there.

This doesn’t mean that high-grade cannabis can’t be too powerful or overwhelming to new users.  High doses of this new substance can cause distortions in time and cause some people to panic.  I don’t believe that this means it should be classified as a hallucinogen. That is because these type of effects will not continue after using the substance several times and they will not happen at all if the dosages are proper.  Another reason why it shouldn’t be classified with other psychedelic drugs is that cannabis will never take the user into the deep depths of their mind like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms do.  Even the most potent of edibles will not have you rethinking the meaning of life in the way a trip can.  The potential for a negative experience is also much higher when dealing with these stronger drugs.

I don’t believe weed should be placed in just one of these categories, it qualifies as both a stimulant and a depressant based on the strain and the user.  I know friends who say that weed makes them tired every time they try it, regardless of the strain or grower.  Then there are people who are obsessed with figuring out what their ideal strain is, and acquiring it regardless what the cost may be.  The stoner stereotype would make it seem that weed is a 100% depressant substance that destroys productivity.  At the same time, the successful stoners in our society have modeled that it can stimulate the best of our creativity.  Cannabis really is a one of a kind drug.

Researchers Look to Study Pot’s Pain Killing Properties

The long existing problem of opioid abuse and addiction is receiving a valuable response from a group of researchers at UCLA.  They’re determined to figure out the optimal combination of cannabinoids when it comes to treating pain.  Almost everyone knows someone who has been negatively affected by the opioid epidemic, and it’s encouraging to see this team prove/disprove this commonly substituted solution.  Pain patients have been sharing their success with making the switch to cannabis for years, but medical science has remained far behind.  Today, there are still many people that are unconvinced cannabis can provide relief similar to hard narcotics when it comes to severe or chronic pain.  This is much-needed scientific data that can lead to a serious change in opioid usage rates.  Opioid painkillers have been the go-to drug doctors have been prescribing for pain since the late 1800s.  No other options have really been considered as medically prescribed substitutes for all this time.

Natural alternatives such as cannabis or even the Kratom plant will clearly have far less negative side effects for pain patients.  Not to mention the excruciating physical withdrawal symptoms that can develop after short periods of use.  However, the real test is how effective they stand against the notorious synthetic drugs originating from the poppy plant.  The other limited sources of research available involving opioid use and cannabis have shown some positive results.  One 5 year-long study in the JAMA(Journal of the American Medical Association) pointed to the fact that states that have medical marijuana laws in effect saw 6% fewer opioid prescriptions among Medicaid patients than states without laws in effect.  6% is a significant number of prescriptions. However, the fact that the study was unable to determine whether the people in the medical marijuana states were making the switch over to marijuana led to some uncertainty.  It could be attributed to other factors outside of substituting it with cannabis although it’s unlikely.

This study will not be taking place until it is able to secure more funding along with approval from two major governmental agencies.  The DEA and FDA must both give the go-ahead allowing the university to study a schedule one substance.  This study is by no means guaranteed to happen.  It simply is the goal of the cannabis initiative team.  Those that have a financial incentive in marijuana will be prohibited from giving donations in order to establish an environment of “fair research”.  This could also become a hurdle for the researches, but it is a good policy by the university to help strengthen any future findings that they are able to make.  It would be beyond frustrating to see something so beneficial and promising to the cannabis industry stopped in its tracks by the government, although it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.  The constitutionality of marijuana’s schedule one status has been unsuccessfully challenged several times in court over the years despite it’s well known medical uses and safety profile.  So don’t be surprised if officials pull something similar in an effort to further delay federal legalization here in the U.S.

 

 

 

Michigan Considers Allowing Dispensaries to Start Home Deliveries

Patients in the state of Michigan with a registered caregiver have been taking advantage of home delivery since 2008.  Those who do not have a registered caregiver in the program and use provisioning centers as their point of access will likely have similar options soon.  This is great news because for many patients there simply aren’t any local dispensaries operating nearby.  Also, there are many cases where a patient is severely ill or suffers from a condition that affects their ability to drive.  The fact that caregivers can only supply up to five patients makes it hard for some people to find a grower who can supply them with a steady supply of high-quality medicine.  Along with that, some people benefit/prefer using marijuana in different ways outside of its raw form.  As a result, this sends many patients to dispensaries so that they can have a large selection of products to choose from.

If you live in Michigan or have looked at the local Weedmaps directory, it is obvious that delivery services have been operating for years.  These businesses are hiding in a grey area at best.  They can’t claim to be caregivers because they are servicing anybody with a valid medical marijuana license that contacts them.  While I’m sure a few have run into some legal trouble, the overall delivery market hasn’t been affected or slowed down.  These services are prevalent in metro Detroit and offer reasonable pricing despite their convenience.  Patients most likely wouldn’t see any major changes if deliveries become allowed, it would simply provide protection for brick and mortar stores to expand operations outside their store.  Unregulated delivery services will probably be cracked down on and be forced to apply for a commercial license or close.  This is no guarantee, just what I think is likely to happen considering the closing of all the dispensaries in Detroit lately.  By September 15th, all dispensaries who haven’t been awarded a commercial license must close their doors.  Unless there is an extension to that date, I think this will be applied to existing delivery services soon.  The state hasn’t been too friendly to the medical marijuana businesses that have been operating unregulated for years and I think that trend will continue.

The proposed rules would allow dispensaries to have only one staff member making deliveries at a time.  This driver can only make three consecutive stops before returning.  In addition, the GPS location of the driver must be tracked and logged by the dispensary. There is also a provision added to the proposal that mentions residents living in a city or township banning dispensaries would still be allowed to receive deliveries.  These “dry” communities have accomplished nothing but make medicine less accessible for patients.  At least residents will now have legal protection to acquire medicine without leaving their local area.  It seems that the state is headed in the right direction establishing permanent rules and providing protections for those looking to deliver medicine to patients.  However, I think it could go with a lot less regulation.  Making it so existing delivery services have to have a physical storefront and limiting the number of staff that can be conducting deliveries is just unnecessary.  Marijuana has been unregulated for years through prohibition and even up until last December when the state began accepting commercial licenses.  Those who took all the risks and were the pioneers in the industry are being flushed out by newcomers with lots of capital.  It would be nice to see some of the existing delivery services able to continue to build their business and reap some benefits for all the risks they have taken for their patients.

Calgary is Open to Idea of Public Consumption Areas for Marijuana

There seems to be one common similarity among the different states and countries that have moved to legalize marijuana.  Each law mentions the issue of public consumption and explains that it is still illegal.  Even though the punishment for consuming in public is minor in most jurisdictions, the only legal place the law allows consumption without penalty is your own private property.  If you look at any other recreational substance that is popular in our society, it’s clear that it is not a reasonable expectation for people to never consume marijuana outside of their own private property.  The local city council in Calgary is concerned with this issue and wants to address it before legalization even takes effect in Canada.

One of the issues that are brought up by opponents of public consumption areas is that there will be a rise in impaired driving rates in cities that allow these type of businesses to run.  The truth is that if lawmakers were truly that concerned about the dangers of impaired driving, alcohol wouldn’t be served at nearly every restaurant and corner store.  Alcohol has been proven through numerous studies to have a much larger impact on motor skills and leads to more aggressive driving behaviors then marijuana.  Not to mention drunk driving is responsible for more than 10,000 deaths a year   Anybody that has used both will tell you the same thing.  However, the availability of more dangerous substances for public consumption by itself doesn’t justify allowing these places to operate.  The fact that there are enormous amounts of people who visit/live in Calgary without owning any property means legally they can’t use marijuana at all.  Why make it legal in the first place if only property owners have the right to consume?  This essentially keeps prohibition in place for the rest of the local population.  People will of course not abide by these rules and smoke in public places regardless, so it’s only sensible they establish designated areas to help regulate where it is used.

Canada’s legalization measure not only banned public consumption of marijuana but it also prohibited its use in apartment buildings, condominiums, and hotels.  It seems counterintuitive that the country wanted to eliminate smoking in these locations but did not offer any alternative in order to make this law reasonable.  This is why the city council is taking matters into its own hands.  It is proposing that there be four separate locations that were selected in relation to their distance from schools and areas frequented by children.  All of these locations would be located in Ward 9 and within a relative proximity of one another.  Even though the public is most likely going to be in agreement and support the availability of cannabis clubs, the government wants to reach out and receive feedback before the 9th of September.  The committee will be holding a meeting on the 9th of October where the public can also make comments in person about the important issue.  Calgary should have a clear decision made by the time the new law goes into effect so consumers won’t have to worry about being prosecuted for consuming a legal product.

New California Bill Aims to Expunge or Reduce Past Pot Convictions

Legalizing marijuana has offered some great benefits to California and the other 8 states who have passed similar legislation.  Some of the main benefits that come to mind are tax revenue, reduction in crime, personal freedom, and job growth.  These are all improvements that will help to make the future a better place.  Like other states in the past, California lawmakers are trying to undo some of the enormous damage the war on drugs has had in the past.  The senate voted in a large majority to require prosecutors to expunge or reduce the punishments for people who were convicted of marijuana related crimes since 1975.  The Department of Justice would need to review all these cases and determine which ones are eligible for reevaluation.  Misdemeanors would be expunged in most cases while some felonies would be able to be downgraded to what is now considered a misdemeanor offense.  This bill has not yet become law; it must be signed/vetoed by Governor Brown or it will go into effect automatically in early September.

Currently Oregon, New Hampshire, Colorado and Maryland have made it easier for past offenders to have their records sealed.  While California wouldn’t be the first state to successfully expunge past marijuana records, other legal states have struggled to offer similar protections.  These bills have faced opposition from prosecutors and other lawmakers who argue that these people knowingly violated the law at the time and it’s a dangerous trend to apply new laws to old cases.  For example in 2014, the year recreational sales began in Colorado, a similar bill died in committee.  The opposition argued that many drug distributors had their charges lowered to low level felonies.  Their concern was that these serious convictions would have the possibility of being changed to misdemeanors.  Luckily later in 2017, a similar bill was passed that just targeted marijuana misdemeanors instead of felonies.  While it won’t have as much of an effect at reducing the damage of the drug war, it is still helpful for many people.

If California is successful at passing this bill, they will have done more than any other state when it comes to requiring judges to excuse past marijuana crimes.  This is likely due to this issue being mentioned in Amendment 64, the initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in the state.  There was no framework established in 2016 when the initiative passed that established how the Justice Department would enforce the changes.  This bill clarifies many of the uncertainties by establishing deadlines for the department and establishing that both misdemeanors and felony pot convictions must be reviewed for eligibility.  There are a total of 218,000 cases that have the possibility of being expunged or downgraded to misdemeanors in the state of California alone.  Imagine how large this number is if we included all Americans since 1975. All these people likely have faced issues when it comes to key parts of life.  Things like seeking great employment opportunities or getting federal loans or grants for education can be nearly impossible.  Regardless what the laws used to be, people convicted of non violent marijuana crimes were never criminals.

Michigan Medical Marijuana Businesses Threatened by Licensing Deadline

Across the great lakes state, cultivation facilities and dispensaries are facing a September 15th deadline to either be approved and licensed by the state or shut down operations.  Those who have gained approval from their local officials and have already submitted their applications to the state are extremely worried.  The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) began accepting applications in December of 2017, but the process to approve businesses is taking a very long time.  There have already been two previous deadlines set that were extended before the fast-approaching September 15 cutoff.  It seems that the government was not prepared to handle the overwhelming number of applications.

Currently,  only 16 applications were given approval out of the 637 submitted for one of the four license types: cultivation, retail, transportation, and processing.  Processing refers to businesses that will purchase cannabis from growers and create infused products or extracts like Rick Simpson oil.  There seems to be a small number of resources being devoted to inspecting and approving licenses.  Luckily, local officials are concerned for patients access to medicine and have been reaching out to Snyder asking for an extension.  It’s equally important to support the cannabis pioneers that have invested their life savings into provisioning centers in order to legally help patients find relief.  Now, dispensary employees are left to question if they will have their paycheck coming next month or if they will find themselves unemployed.  It is crucial that the state responds back quickly so these people aren’t forced to abandon their investments and careers in order to pursue other sources of income.

It almost seems like the officials enjoy causing problems among the medical cannabis community since they can no longer arrest those involved.  Why even set a deadline at all for these businesses to get approved?  Deny and approve the licenses as they come in and if they have been approved by their local city/township then they should be able to operate until they are given a response.  It’s bad enough they are picking and choosing which dispensaries can and can’t operate as they please. Shutting them down before they even get a chance to be evaluated because people created a random date is just wrong.  No other industry is facing the same level of regulations and hoops to jump through in order to legally operate.  It’s just another example of unnecessary government regulation.  The number of stores should be determined by the levels of supply and demand and as a result of certain companies gaining competitive advantages over one another.

There should be some regulation when it comes to advertising and locating next to schools, but not with arbitrary date setting.  These businesses would risk losing the chance to secure a license in the future if they operate past the September 15th deadline without being approved.  I can’t imagine the level of stress these owners are dealing with right now.  They only have two options if the deadline is not extended.  Either close temporarily and pray for a license while still paying overhead costs, or close permanently and exit the business.  Staying open and risking being raided/closed shouldn’t be considered a valid third option.  Criminal charges and no possibility of entering the industry would be the worst possible outcome for a successful marijuana entrepreneur.  The next coming weeks are going to be full of uncertainty until a solution is offered by the state.