Hey everyone, it’s time for the top five marijuana stories of the…month. I have not had an update in the last few weeks as I have been traveling quite a bit lately. I did a tour of legal marijuana dispensaries up the entire west coast up into Canada, including stores in San Diego, San Francisco, Victoria and Vancouver. I’ll have an update on that soon. I also was in New York last week for the Cannabis World Congress Business Expo at the Javits Center conducting interviews with some of the biggest players in the cannabis industry, along with some of the newbies.

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The CWCBExpo in New York takes place at the end of May at the Javits Center.
CWCBExpo – Javits Center, NYC

The CWCBExpo has really stepped it up. You should have seen the Canopy/Acreage Holdings booth, it was huge and focused on the new Hemp Industrial Park they are putting in Southern New York. You will see interviews being dripped onto our Facebook page, @NationalMJNews, and onto The National Marijuana News Youtube page too. I will let you know that I did see one big difference at the CWCB this year versus last year. Less politicians. The news that broke on day 2 of the expo, May 31st, concerning Illinois legalizing recreational marijuana stood in stark contrast to New York’s huge miss on cannabis this year. Let’s get started with Illinois.

Illinois Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

Governor J.B. Pritzker follows through on his promise to legalize marijuana for Illinois.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker

If you had asked me late last year if Illinois was going to pull off legalizing marijuana before New York or New Jersey, I probably would have said no. The enthusiasm in both east coast states seemed unstoppable at the time, but that shows you that it’s just not a done deal until it’s a done deal. They love weed in Chicago, I’ve spent a lot of time there. They voted in J.B. Pritzker as the governor during the midterm elections, a super pro-cannabis governor. So all the ingredients were there for it to happen, I just didn’t believe it was going to happen this fast. Illinois is the first state to have its legislature vote to legalize the commercial sale of adult-use marijuana instead of voters in the ballot box.

The bill is still waiting for Governor Pritzker’s signature, but that will happen soon and weed will be legal to consume by any adult starting on January 1st of next year. Who knows if they will have rules implemented for the commercial sale of cannabis by then, it can take states a while to figure that out. What I really love about Illinois’s marijuana bill is that it will immediately expunge nearly 800,000 records of the victims of prohibition. Solid job Illinois and I know they are happy in Chicago. It really begs the question; Why can’t New York and New Jersey figure this out? Before you know it, weed will be legal in Delaware too. They are getting close on a bill to legalize weed.

FDA Public Hearing on CBD

The FDA held its first public hearing on implementing CBD rules. The country’s love of all things hemp continues with ferocity. It’s legal nationally after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, but it still does not feel legal. Aurora Cannabis, one of the largest cannabis companies in the world, inked a deal with the UFC worth millions of dollars. Horse trainers and owners are giving so much CBD to their horses that their regulatory body, the USEF, updated their policies to include it on the list of performance enhancing drugs. Crazy. But, CBD companies are still having merchant service and banking problems, and it’s impossible to find a mainstream media outlet that will advertise hemp products. Go ahead and ask some of the major outlets like the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times and they will tell you that since it has not been ok’d in every state or every country, they still won’t work with industrial hemp companies.

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The true root cause of the reluctance by banks and publishers to work with hemp companies is the fact that the FDA has not implemented rules yet. You could think that they should have by now, especially considering the growth of the industry and projections that it could become a $20 billion industry soon. But, it is the federal government. It’s slow. They held the first public hearing for hemp and CBD products on Friday, May 31st. The same day Illinois legalized. Big weed news day. The FDA seems confused about all of the claims concerning the benefits of CBD. It’s a step in the right direction but we will have to see how close they are to creating oversight.

TSA Loosens Up a Little on Traveling with CBD

So, let’s not go too crazy about this. The TSA has just become a tiny bit more relaxed about flying with CBD. Don’t be packing suitcases full of CBD oil and thinking they are going to be ok with it. They did go from having a very rigid stance on traveling with CBD to updating their “What Can I Bring” page to explain that some forms of CBD are legal to travel with. We most likely have Epidiolex to thank, the first cannabis derived CBD drug for epilepsy to be approved by the FDA. The @AskTSA Twitter account did tell one follower recently, “Products that contain hemp-derived CBD oil or are FDA-approved are generally legal & can fly.”

Cannabis in Beer

Does putting weed in beer really make sense? I just don’t get the marijuana beer thing. I get that the alcohol industry is losing money from the legalization of cannabis. It is a healthier alternative than alcohol, at least millenials seem to thinks so. With our new cool Apple watches making us all aware of our unhealthiness, and in some instances even saving lives, and with so much to distract us with modern technology, drowning our sorrows just doesn’t seem to be as necessary anymore. Alcohol has this if you can’t beat them join them mentality. At the CWCBExpo the SONO1420 booth was offering fine distilled whiskeys and gins infused with CBD. I asked what inspired them to infuse their very tasty spirits with CBD and I got of a blank look followed by, “Because no one else is doing it?” Ok, I get that. But, for me alcohol and weed just don’t mix well. It will make you spin. If CBD is a wellness product, why put it in alcohol? Shouldn’t CBD be infused into healthy products? It’s not as if CBD is going to magically make something unhealthy…healthy. If you want CBD to work for you, then you have to adopt a healthier overall lifestyle along with adding CBD to your routine. Molson Coors and Constellation Brands have both bought in big to the cannabis industry. That’s fine, I always figured that would happen, but can’t we just keep weed and booze separate?

Argument for Marijuana Companies to be Categorized as Healthcare by Stock Exchanges

Sticking with that wellness concept. Did you hear that at this year’s Jefferies Healthcare Conference in New York, Canopy, Aurora and Hexo Corp. all presented? They spoke right next to some of the biggest drug makers in the world. You got to love their efficient logic. Go to the CWCB in NYC last week, might as well hit up the Jefferies Health Conference in New York this week. I think it’s great. It makes perfect sense because I am a firm believer that all cannabis consumption is medicinal and I believe that marijuana’s medical value is more profound than most people know, even the advocates. Once it becomes legal federally here in the United States, I think many cannabis stocks should be classified as healthcare by the exchanges. The future is certainly going to be interesting for the cannabis sector.

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That’s it for this week everyone. Keep your eyes open for more CWCB interviews and remember to follow our Youtube channel, The National Marijuana News, along with our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages @NationalMJNews. I hope everyone enjoys the weekend! Check out Christine Sclafani’s culture page too, @Culture.TNMNews, she’s great!