Can Government-approved Pot Beat Street Weed?

A key goal of legalizing recreational cannabis is squeezing out illegal suppliers. But how competitive will legal cannabis retail be against established black markets?

That’s a key question for federal and provincial politicians. Governments don’t like pot consumers funding organized crime.

That question may also interest investors. They’ve pushed up cannabis stock prices and created demand for four cannabis exchange-traded funds. Alcohol and tobacco companies have bought stakes in cannabis growers. Suppliers of hydroponic equipment and online retailing software could benefit too.

Price is the competitive element politicians mention most. In Colorado, cheap legal cannabis means black markets control only 20 percent of state sales. But in Washington state, where prices are higher, black markets capture 50 percent.

In Canada, governments agree cannabis prices must be competitive. They’ve suggested $10 per gram, including excise and sales taxes.

But Statistics Canada estimates market prices fell below $7.50 last year, and farther since then. Vancouver street prices reportedly are near $5. And street vendors don’t charge tax.

Read the full article at the National Post

Tillerson Says U.S. Must See Decline in Colombia’s Coca Output

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. expects Colombia to start reversing sharp increases in production of coca this year, pointedly declining to guarantee continued aid if those efforts fail.

Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant.

“Our expectation is that Colombia is going to make significant progress this year in reversing these trends and we want to support that reversal,” Tillerson said at a briefing in Bogota alongside President Juan Manuel Santos. “In the end, we need to see results.”

“One of the things that’s important about this relationship is because we are so close in terms of the bilateral partnership, is that we can speak very openly and very frankly about the things that are of concern to both of us,” Tillerson said.

“I don’t think that President Trump is referring to Colombia because Colombia is not laughing at the U.S.,” Santos said at the briefing. “On the contrary, we think we are working together on a problem and a challenge that needs cooperation from both countries.”

“There is no supply without demand and no demand without supply,” Santos said.

Continue Reading at Bloomberg

The Uncertain Future Of Arecanut Market

Konkodi Padmanabha, former president of Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd., said on Monday that arecanut growers need to think seriously about switching over to an alternative crop as arecanut is facing the threat of being banned.

He suggested that oil palm growers form a cooperative and create a brand for its products to capture the market.

G N Ratnakar, a leading oil palm grower from Chikkamagaluru district and a member of the government’s price fixation committee for oil palms, said now he gets an average monthly income of ₹40,000 from oil palms on his five-acre plot. Mr. Ratnakar said he also cultivated arecanut on 10 acres. He took up oil palm cultivation when the ban on gutka was looming large. He said farmers could no longer depend only on arecanut cultivation as the arecanut market is facing a number of threats.

Vasanth Bhat Todikana, an oil palm grower from near Sullia who switched to oil palm after his arecanut plantation was hit by yellow leaf disease, said region-specific cultivation technology was needed for growing oil palm.

Full article at The Hindu

California’s Race to the Top on Cannabis

In essence, San Francisco is resetting the clock on the War on Drugs, at least for cannabis. The city is expanding upon Proposition 64, the state law that went into effect this year that makes amnesty for weed-related crimes a condition for legalizing cannabis in California.

As incredibly progressive as that ordinance is, San Francisco is not alone in attempting to work racial equity into the new legalized cannabis landscape. Cities across California and other states are upping the racial equity quotient in various ways, in what looks like a race to the top for seeking true racially and economically inclusive outcomes. As city leaders scratch their heads over how to realize real racial equity in policymaking, the legalized weed experiment is acting as the test case and is already proving itself sticky enough that cities are almost competing to be the most weedfully woke.

It’s not just the historically uber-liberal Bay Area that’s embarking on this. Los Angeles also has a cannabis social equity program that prioritizes business permits for people with low incomes, who have lived in an area ravaged by the drug war, have criminal records (because of past weed prohibition), and who plan to hire at least half of their workforces from local residents. Both Oakland and L.A. are also prioritizing permits for people who don’t personally fall under this criteria but are willing to finance or lease space to applicants who do.

Despite the heavy regulation of the cannabis market at both the city and state level (and maybe the federal level if Senator Cory Booker has it his way), there has still been immense growth in revenue and profits in this field. According to the 2017 Cannabis Industry Annual Report, from New Frontier Data, “The legal cannabis market was worth an estimated $6.6 billion in 2016, and annual sales are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% to reach more than $24 billion by 2025.” And that’s only based on the states where weed is currently legal.

Read the full article at CityLab

Kava, The Drink Soothing The Stress of New York Millennials

It has been a mainstay in the South Pacific for thousands of years. Now, stressed-out millennial New Yorkers are kissing goodbye to alcohol and gulping down a mildly narcotic drink to ease the pain of long hours and bottleneck commutes.

Kava – a root ground to powder, mixed with water and then strained – might taste like muddy water, but it is the mood enhancer taking the edge off for those struggling to cope with hectic modern life.

Effects include a mild numbing of the tongue and lips, relaxation, and euphoria – feelings in short supply in New York.

“If any city needs to relax a little bit and calm down, slow down, it is New York,” said Mr. Harding Stowe, the 31-year-old owner of Brooklyn Kava in the neighborhood of Bushwick.

An initial kava boom in the West in the 1990s fuelled low-quality exports, which – combined with little understanding of the plant – led to health concerns and prohibitions in Europe. That led to a bust.

But while the United States Food and Drug Administration warned in 2002 of a “rare” potential risk of severe liver injury associated with kava-containing products, kava is now seeing another boom, and exports from Fiji alone more than doubled from 2012 to 2016.

Read the full article in The New Paper

Drug Overdose Deaths Rise in Netherlands Linked To Opiates

Between 2014 and 2016 the number of recorded deaths caused by a drug overdose nearly doubled, according to the National Drug Monitor by the Trimbos Institute and research and documentation center WODC, NOS reports.

In 2014 a total of 123 people died of a drug overdose in the Netherlands. In 2016 there were 235 registered overdose deaths. The researchers add that the increase may be partly attributable to improved registration. Just over half of 2016’s overdose deaths were accidental. The rest involved suicide, or an overdose as the result of psychiatric or behavioral problems, according to the researchers.

The researchers found that the use of ecstasy, amphetamine, and cocaine increased slightly between 2014 and 2016. Cannabis is still the most commonly used drug, though cannabis use did not increase in this period. Over 1 percent of Dutch adults smoke cannabis daily, and 6.6 percent have used the drug at least once.

NL Times NL

Psychedelics Stop Oppression? Magic Mushroom Compound Shown To Soften Authoritarian Views

A new experimental research program has provided the first evidence that psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, might decrease authoritarian views.

“Magic” mushrooms have become inextricably linked to the nature-loving, political counterculture that often seeks them out. But what if psilocybin was actually what led people to exhibit those traits, rather than the other way around?

Scientists from the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London conducted a study using seven participants with treatment-resistant depression, which refers to chronic depression that doesn’t respond to therapy or medication, or most likely a combination of the two.

The psilocybin group experienced a significant reduction in authoritarian leanings, with noticeable changes holding up even at the seven- to 12-month mark. The control group exhibited no such change. “These results suggest that psilocybin therapy may persistently decrease authoritarian attitudes post-treatment with psilocybin,” the team wrote in a new paper describing their research, which was published in the scientific journal Psychopharmacology.

There are substantial caveats to this study, the first being its sample size—seven people is an unusually small number for this sort of thing. Another is that it’s possible the reduction in depression the participants reported is what caused any ideological changes.

Newsweek

Cannabis will be a major food trend in 2018. Here’s why.

Spoiler alert for those attending the Winter Fancy Food Show today through Tuesday in San Francisco: There are no cannabis edibles on the trade-show floor. Cannabis cuisine is not the subject of any plenary panel.

In November, the Fancy Food Show’s parent, the Specialty Food Association (SPA), ranked cannabis number eight of the top-10 food trends to watch in 2018.

“As more states legalize recreational marijuana, the varieties of pot-enhanced food and beverage will increase,” the SPA’s Trendspotter Panel wrote last November. “Look out for continued interest and acceptance in a host of snacks, treats and beverages with a little something extra.”

Nielsen is vice president of trends and marketing at CCD Innovation, an Emeryville food, and beverage development agency. She’s attending the Fancy Food Show today through Tuesday at Moscone Center. As a member of the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotters — an expert panel comprised of marketers, journalists, and other tastemakers — she’ll roam the Fancy Food Show trade-show floor looking for new and innovative products. There are no cannabis edibles at this year’s Fancy Food Show, but the SPA’s Trendspotters won’t have to go far to find them.

There are five retail cannabis stores reachable via short walk, taxi or rideshare. And many of the edibles on sale in these stores look like they might have sneaked over from the show.

Read more at GreenState

Ayahuasca: The Hallucinogen That Blows Your Mind

The first thing you should know about drinking ayahuasca is that it’s going to make you puke your brains out. That’s usually the first thing that anyone who has ever taken it will tell you. But once you get past that, they say, you will experience a high so deep and emotionally enlightening that your outlook on the universe will change forever.

Ayahuasca comes from two words from the Quechua, a South American tribe based primarily in the Andes: “Aya,” meaning spirit, and “Huasca,” meaning vine or rope. The Quechua call it the “vine of the soul” or “creeping spirits of the dead.” When you drink ayahuasca tea, you see the kind of powerful hallucinations akin to what one would see on LSD. Those who have taken ayahuasca report experiencing out-of-body experiences, “spiritual flights,” and powerful hallucinations. In some cases, they swear they’ve even experienced telepathy.

While some researchers have suggested that ayahuasca could potentially be used to treat those struggling with PTSD or substance abuse, there’s not much evidence to support its therapeutic benefits. In fact, ayahuasca has also been shown to have adverse effects for those struggling with mental health issues, particularly if they’re undiagnosed, as it could potentially trigger psychosis. Following the death of 24-year-old New Zealand student Matthew Dawson-Clarke last year, ayahuasca retreats have also garnered their fair share of negative media attention.

Read more at Mens Health

Magic Mushrooms: Treating Depression Without Dulling Emotions

Treating depression can be challenging not only because some depression types are treatment-resistant, but also because existing therapies have a range of unwanted side effects.

A new study — which was carried out by researchers at Imperial College London (ICL) in the United Kingdom — suggests that magic mushrooms could treat depression while avoiding these side effects.

Participants felt ’emotionally reconnected’

In the first study, published in the journal Neuropharmacology, 20 people diagnosed with moderate to severe depression that conventional treatment had not alleviated participated in two dosing sessions with the magic mushroom compound.

“Based on the present results, we propose that psilocybin with psychological support is a treatment approach that potentially revives emotional responsiveness in depression, enabling patients to reconnect with their emotions.”

‘Mystical experience’ improves efficacy

The second paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, examined whether or not the quality of the psychedelic experience was linked with the success of the treatment.

The study revealed that the more strongly the participants felt this experience, the better was their mental health in the long-term.

Depressive symptoms subsided, and the mental benefits lasted for weeks after the treatment of participants who reported a strong mystical experience.

Read more at Medical News Today

Kush Bottles: Meet One of the Hottest Marijuana Stocks

Kush Bottles derives its revenue primarily from the sale of marijuana packaging and ancillary products like vaporizers, rather than the sale of marijuana. The company’s main customers are marijuana dispensaries and distributors, who purchase its products in bulk for retail sale. The company currently sells products in four major categories: bags, tubes, containers, and vaporizers.

According to commentary from a July 2017 presentation, Kush Bottles was selling more than one million pre-rolled tubes each month. The company has a patent on the child-resistant mechanism on its tubes, a potential point of differentiation in the marketplace, though there are currently several different types of child-resistant tubes competing for market share.

To expand its offerings and footprint, the company has completed three major acquisitions over its history.

1. Dank Bottles — Acquired on April 10, 2015, Dank Bottles was the exclusive distributor of Kush Bottles’ products in Colorado. Kush Bottles paid for the acquisition with $373,725 in cash and 3.5 million shares of stock.

2. CMP Wellness — Kush Bottles acquired CMP Wellness on May 1, 2017. CMP Wellness’ primary products are portable vaporizers, cartridges, and accessories. Kush Bottles paid for the acquisition with $2.3 million of cash and promissory notes, plus 7.8 million shares of restricted stock. The deal also included earn-outs of $1.9 million in cash and up to 4.74 million more shares of Kush Bottles to be paid out based on the company’s performance.

3. Roll-Uh-Bowl — On May 3, 2017, Kush Bottles acquired Roll-Uh-Bowl, which sells portable, silicone water pipes. Kush paid for the acquisition with $150,000 of cash and 200,000 shares of stock.

Continue Reading at The Motley Fool

The Plant Used To Make Cocaine Could Become The Next Superfood

Henry Ruiz rubs the small green leaves between the fingers of his right hand – and then looks out across the valley where one of the world’s most reviled crops is ruffled by a warm breeze.

“We have been caught up in the mistaken belief that we are part of the cocaine manufacture process when we are not,” he says. “We have our own natural plant, but the man has found another use for it and we have lost out as a result.”

The Colombian government’s determination to obliterate coca is not in doubt, particularly in the wake of US pressure to address the recent boom in cocaine production. Despite efforts to tackle the problem, there was an increase of 52 percent in coca growth from 2015 to 2016.

“Coca is very rich in nutrients,” says Ruiz. “It’s important to see how we can use it for other uses than cocaine. We can prepare organic liquid fertilizers, insecticides, and we can use it to make flour. We know the magical and beneficial properties of coca, and it’s about applying this to your family and communities. We are guardians of the coca leaf.”

Research by Harvard University scientists into the coca leaf’s beneficial properties, suggests that compared to 50 other Latin American vegetables, coca leaves are higher in protein, fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and riboflavin. In the summer of 2016, the Colombian government issued, for the first time ever, a permit in Cauca that allows the purchase, transport, and stocking of coca leaves, with the objective of industrializing the product.

Read more at The Essential Daily Briefing

Marijuana Sales Begin In San Francisco

Marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco have begun selling recreational pot for the first time, joining many other cities in California.

Six dispensaries confirmed Saturday that they’re selling recreational marijuana. They all received their state licenses to sell on Friday.

One of them, Apothecarium, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with local politicians and even offered a 20% discount for people who brought their mothers.

Sales began nearly a week ago in other parts of the state including West Hollywood, Santa Ana, San Diego and Berkeley.

Los Angeles Times

Cannabis Is Now Legal in California

California has now joined a number of states changing their approach to marijuana, which marks exciting times for national drug reform. If you’re over the age of 21, it is now legal to grow up to six plants and possess up to an ounce (!) on your person.

While the state’s residents have already been celebrating the news, tracking down a spot to purchase your recreational weed may prove a little difficult in these early days.

However, this may not indicate the end of drug dealers pedaling marijuana, as taxes are expected to raise the retail cost of the pot up to 70 percent higher than the street price. Nonetheless, It’s a very, very happy new year for Californians.

Papermag

Mike Tyson Is Building a 40-Acre California Weed Resort

Mike Tyson has been a boxer, an actor, a monologuist, and an animated detective, but now it looks like the former heavyweight champion wants to take a bite out of California’s new legal weed game.

According to the Blast, Tyson and two business partners—Robert Hickman and Jay Strommen—have plans to build a massive “cannabis resort” on 40 acres of desert land in California City. The trio broke ground on the property back in December and are getting things rolling now that California has officially legalized marijuana.

It seems like the rest of the Mojave Desert land, though, will earn Tyson Ranch its “resort” title. The Beast reports that there will be “premium ‘glamping’ campgrounds and cabins” for people to stay in, an amphitheater for live music, and a factory for marijuana edibles.

The resort’s land isn’t far from Edwards Air Force Base, and the Blast reports that the ranch will be staffed mostly by veterans and will be committed to helping those in the armed forces, as CBD, a marijuana compound that won’t get you high, has been used to treat PTSD.

Read more at Vice

State’s First Opium Poppy Crop Harvest Under Way In Riverina

Across six top-secret locations in the Riverina and Central West, a historic harvest is underway.

Over 400 hectares of the state’s first-ever opium poppy crop is being stripped and chemically analyzed. Cootamundra mixed-farmer David Forsyth sowed 24 hectares of the plant in June.

“The alkaloid content was 3.6 percent, we thought we might do four, but it was a terrible season; cold and after sowing it didn’t rain for four months.”

Poppy crops grown on fertile soils by the best growers in Tasmania typically yield three tonnes per hectare and assay more than 3 percent.

The venture could return an estimated $100 million to NSW in the next decade. However, the global oversupply of opiate material put great pressure on Tasmanian growers last year, and the lackluster performance of the crop in Victoria, who legalized it in 2014, has reportedly seen a number of farmers ditching it altogether. But Mr. Forsyth still believes it has potential.

“We’re increasing and will do 38 hectares next year, I’ve learned a lot and couldn’t have done it without the help of my wife Janelle, my son Brendan and his wife Ruby,” he said.

The Border Mail

These States Are Likely To Legalize Marijuana In 2018

After four of five statewide marijuana legalization ballot initiatives were approved by voters in 2016, no additional states ended cannabis prohibition in 2017 (though New Hampshire did decriminalize possession of the drug and West Virginia allowed its medical use).

If marijuana policy advocates’ plans come to fruition in the new year, 2018 will bring about the first legalization laws passed by lawmakers; to date, all eight states to end cannabis prohibition did it through voter initiatives.

Here’s a look at the states that are most likely to enact marijuana reforms in 2018:

• Vermont
• New Jersey
• Michigan
• Oklahoma
• Utah
• Missouri
• Virginia

While Vermont and New Jersey are seen as most likely to pass marijuana legalization bills through their legislatures in 2018, advocates are also working to build momentum for bills to end prohibition in a number of other states next year. Among those are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois and Rhode Island, any or all of which could potentially send legalization legislation to their governor’s desks in the coming months.

Forbes

Province of Ontario Demands To Halt Weed Store Placement

During a special meeting of council on Dec. 15 ahead of the presentation of the city’s 2018 operating budget, the mayor delivered a motion that requests the province back off on naming certain cities as potential homes for these LCBO-like, weed selling stores before the municipalities themselves have had the opportunity to consult with their residents and figure out proper zoning for these stores.

As the province has previously shared, the sale of the drug will be done through a storage system similar to and managed by, the LCBO. As of now, the province’s booze distributor is in the process of meeting with municipalities that have been identified to be future homes for these cannabis stores.

According to Mayor Henry, he met with officials from the LCBO, Municipal Affairs, and the Attorney General’s Office ahead of the regional council meeting on Dec. 13 to discuss the potential location, along with other questions the city has raised pertaining to the issue of legalization.

The Oshawa mayor has also previously raised concerns about the impacts on people’s health and wellbeing who live in apartments with shared ventilation systems, or how people smoking weed in their backyards will impact those around them who may choose not to smoke.

“There are far too many unanswered questions,” said Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki. “We need a lot of these questions that are asked in this motion to be answered before we can move forward.”

Read the full article at The Oshawa Express

7 Mind-bending Facts About Magic Mushrooms

Fungi have flourished on Earth for quite a while, possibly more than 2 billion years. They’ve evolved some impressive tricks during that time, including many that are either fascinating or frightening to humans — and sometimes a bit of both.

And then there are magic mushrooms, also known as “shrooms.” These fungi are famed for their psychedelic effects on people who ingest them, an ancient practice dating back to prehistoric “mushroom cults” and shamans who may have inspired Santa Claus. Yet even after centuries of experience, we are only now demystifying many of the magical — and medicinal — powers these mushrooms possess.

Psychedelic fungi fall into two general categories, each characterized by a distinct mix of mind-altering ingredients that make their mushrooms “magic.”

The largest, most common group produces hallucinogens called psilocybin and psilocin and features more than 180 species from every continent except Antarctica. These diverse fungi hail from roughly a dozen genera, but are often lumped together as “psilocybin mushrooms.” Most belong to the genus Psilocybe, including well-known species like P. cubensis (“gold top”) and P. semilanceata (“liberty cap”).

Read more at Mother Nature Network

With New Cannabis Cafes, You Can Smoke ‘Em Where You Bought ‘Em

Sometime soon in Massachusetts, you’ll be able to walk into a cafe, ask for a marijuana product, and consume it right there without heading home first.

The state agency responsible for regulating legalized marijuana approved a policy on Monday that will allow for such establishments, so-called “cannabis cafes,” to open — where one can buy a cannabis product and then legally consume it on the premises, just like buying a drink at a bar.

Like bartenders in restaurants in bars, marijuana servers must be trained properly. Such training will focus on helping them identify customers who are too intoxicated to be served more. The commission also agreed that businesses licensed to serve cannabis, should not be allowed to serve alcohol.

Cannabis proponents like Michael Latulippe are pleased with the prospect of on-premises cannabis businesses. Latulippe is a registered medical marijuana user and a member of the state’s Cannabis Advisory Board.

Public safety officials still have concerns. Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael is another member of the commission. He says its important regulations are put in place to prevent people from driving while under the influence of marijuana.

Read more at New England Public Radio