Happy Friday everyone, this is Todd Denkin with the National Marijuana News coming to you on September 9th, 2018. I hope the weekend is a lot of fun for all of you. We are here to discuss the nation’s marijuana news and spread awareness. So let’s get started! Today we are going to talk a lot of business but first let’s update you what has been happening with a new bill in the Senate, some of the legal problems for the state of Oregon and hemp.
Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act
Senator Bill Nelson, a democrat from Florida, and Senator Brian Schatz, a democrat from Hawaii, introduced the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act to the Senate on Wednesday. Should the bill pass it would allow our military veterans utilizing the VA healthcare system to use, possess and transport medical marijuana in accordance with the laws of states that have a legalized medical marijuana program. The bill would also infuse $15 million dollars into a study that would focus on the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain, the medical marijuana treatment programs in each state, veterans access to state legal medical cannabis and whether there is a reduction in opioid use by veterans in those states. The VA is regularly under fire for its casual attitude towards medical marijuana while our military veterans are suffering and represent 14% of the overall suicide rate in the U.S. despite only representing a small percentage of the population. Veterans regularly provide testimonies of the benefits they are experiencing from medical marijuana to treat chronic pain and PTSD.
Turning to some legal news, Oregon has been under a lot of scrutiny lately. In 1998 Oregon passed its medical marijuana bill which allowed medical marijuana patients to purchase up to 24 ounces of marijuana at a time and grow up to 6 mature plants. Then in 2015 the state legalized adult-use cannabis and approved many dispensary licenses which all resulted in a massive surplus or marijuana in Oregon. The huge supply and stiff competition has driven the price of weed way down to national lows. In some stores in Oregon an entire ounce of marijuana may only cost $50. (Anyone feel like moving?) However, Oregon has been reaching records in marijuana sales this year as well, which simply does not add up. The numbers were a red flag for people like Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy Williams. Taking a closer look at the books, Williams identified that more than a third of the marijuana sales for eight ounces or more was taking place in one of the least populated counties in Oregon, Multnomah County. Further research showed that the sales were isolated to just two particular stores in the county. The investigation culminated in the arrest of 6 people last week, the seizure of over 2 million dollars and over 11,000 marijuana plants plus a yacht. Supposedly the 6 arrested individuals had plans to transport the marijuana to Florida, Virginia and Texas to sell on the illegal market. And now, the worst part of it all is that Oregon medical marijuana patients can only buy up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. What a shame.
Hemp more profitable than tobacco?
Turning to some more positive news, the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, is set to be voted upon later this year. The republican Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has played a large role in getting the Hemp Farming Act this far and if it passes it would legalize hemp on the federal level. The current Farm Bill expires on September 30th. However, in 2014 the Omnibus Farm Bill was enacted permitting farmers to grow industrial hemp as a pilot program in conjunction with state agricultural departments and universities. Farmers around the country, in particular in Kentucky where they have always been fans of hemp and it grows very well, embraced the bill and hemp is being planted in record numbers. 40 states have legalized the production of industrial hemp and according to Vote Hemp, the top advocacy group for hemp farming, 23,343 acres of hemp were cultivated last year, more than twice as much as 2016. For many farmers hemp has replaced crops like soy, corn and tobacco. On the federal level, hemp is defined by having no more than .3% THC. Industrial hemp has many applications as fuel, fiber and a food source. Many analysts estimate that hemp will be a much larger market than the marijuana plant itself. There is nothing like good sound economic thinking, is there?
Turning now to more business oriented news, we have discussed big alcohol’s interest in the marijuana industry many times. The most notable move by alcohol to push its way into the cannabis industry is Constellations Brands massive purchase of Canopy Growth Corporation, the largest marijuana company in the world. Constellation now owns 38% of Canopy and has even recently introduced a beer flavored gummy to the market, yuk, called Sugarfina Corona Gummies. Molson Coors has also been making moves into the cannabis space as well, but what about the king of beer, Anheuser-Busch? They are the largest beer company in the world and yet they have stayed pretty quiet about how the legalization of marijuana has affected their business. In the second quarter BUD lost over 3% which is part of a nationwide drop in alcohol sales. They did recently create a new position at Budweiser though, a Chief Non-Alcoholic Beverage Officer. We will have to see if this is a move by Anheuser-Busch to enter into the cannabis infused beverage industry. Read more about beer, alcohol and weed in our article, “What Is Keeping Anheuser-Busch From Entering the Weed Industry?” on TNMNews.com.
Warning by SEC about investing in marijuana
Our last segment is also about the business of marijuana and investing. The SEC issued a warning this week to investors interested in marijuana stocks. The warning was specifically about looking out for unlicensed sellers. The heart of the issue is actually nothing new to the SEC, they are always warning investors to do their research before purchasing any equity. The enthusiasm towards cannabis stocks though is drawing their attention as many investors can easily get caught up in hype and worry about missing out. They warn to be wary of any sort of guaranteed returns, also to check if the SEC has ever suspended trading of a cannabis stock and that marijuana is still federally illegal. On Wednesday the SEC also stated that its Office of Investor Education and Advocacy “regularly” receives complaints about pot-related investments. While the cannabis industry is exciting and it’s not too often that we see a new agricultural commodity enter the market, you have to use common sense when investing in anything.
Well, that’s it for this week everyone. Again, I hope you have a great weekend and remember to checkout TNMNews.com, our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts @NationalMJNews too. I am Todd Denkin, with the National Marijuana News!