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🌿 Leaflet: New FDA Stance on CBD 🌿

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    Welcome back to our weekly newsletter, which outlines recent cannabis news you need to know about related to entrepreneurship, finance, legal, medicine, science, and technology.

    As December kicks off, a new FDA stance on CBD shoots down stocks and New Jersey shifts to focus on cannabis decriminalization. We also discuss the DEA’s 2020 marijuana cultivation plan and workers’ rights for the future Northeast legal cannabis industry.

    Be sure to join us at a CannaGather in your city, where we continue to network and explore the latest progress in our communities as the reach of cannabis increases. 

    Know someone who is just as cannacurious as you are? Be sure to share this newsletter to keep them in the loop!

    // CannaGather Calendar

    December 3 // Los Angeles, CA // CGLA December: Distribution & Manufacturing Decoded

    December 3 // Denver, CO // A Colorado Preview of MJBizCon with Chris Walsh

    December 17 // New York, NY // 2019: A Year in Review with State Senator Diane Savino & (depending on impeachment) Congressman Jerry Nadler

    // Entrepreneurship

    Workers’ Rights for the Northeast Legal Cannabis Industry

    The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union sent a letter this month to governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, urging the administrations to “prioritize labor peace agreements” when legalization is implemented across the region. The letter comes after the Regional Cannabis Regulation and Vaping Summit, where Northeast governors convened in early November to discuss legal cannabis programs for 2020, and the UFCW praised their commitment to “limit licensing, prioritize small businesses, and develop programs to help those with past convictions.”

    The major international union suggests an agreement that wouldn’t require unionization, but instead implement policies where workers agree to not strike or boycott, and companies to “remain neutral regarding unions and their representation of the workforce.” The goal of the union organization’s letter is to ensure that workers’ rights are part of the foundation of any legal cannabis market that takes form.

    What This Means and Why You Care: Cannabis entrepreneurs should stay up to date as new policies take form around the evolving legal cannabis market. Labor peace agreements would strengthen the voices of workers, create positive working environments, and help businesses employ top-quality talent.

    // Finance

    New FDA Stance on CBD Hurts Cannabis Stocks

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released updated guidance on CBD, warning that the cannabinoid can cause liver injury and other damage to the human body. The statement, which MKM analyst Bill Kirk calls “balloon-bursting language” for the cannabis market, sent stocks down. Kirk expects companies to “downplay CBD food/beverage importance to their strategies, while also legally challenging the FDA’s evolving stance.”

    “CBD has the potential to harm you, and harm can happen even before you become aware of it,” the FDA said. They site a lack of scientific evidence and conclude that CBD cannot be “generally recognized as safe among qualified experts for use in human and animal food.” U.S.-listed stocks of major Canadian companies with CBD ventures, including Cronos, Aurora Cannabis, Tilray, and Canopy Growth, fell after the news. U.S. companies were also down, with Charlotte’s Web and Curaleaf seeing their stocks slide.

    What This Means and Why You Care: The FDA’s stance on CBD (and cannabis more broadly) has major implications for the industry. Look out for new language from various government agencies, as these statements cause fluctuations in the market.

    // Legal

    New Jersey Governor Supports Cannabis Decriminalization

    This week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) said he will support the advancement of legislation to decriminalize cannabis possession (view his full statement here). The announcement comes after the NJ legislature failed to put together a legalization bill this year. The question of legalizing and regulating cannabis sales will now be asked to voters as a referendum on the 2020 ballot. In the meantime, Murphy believes a bill remove criminal penalties for possession is passable.

    “Decriminalization of adult-use marijuana cannot be our long-term solution, but we now must turn to it for critical short-term relief while we await a ballot measure on legalization next November,” he said. “Maintaining a status quo that sees roughly 600 individuals, disproportionately people of color, arrested in New Jersey every week for low-level drug offenses is wholly unacceptable.”

    One concern that surrounds decriminalization without a regulated market is that it could enhance the black market, and although the governor has acknowledged this possibility in the past, he says he will work to pass a decriminalization bill “as soon as possible.” Murphy was also present at the Regional Cannabis Regulation and Vaping Summit with other Northeast governors.

    What This Means and Why You Care: There was widespread disappointment after New Jersey legalization didn’t move forward in 2019, but the statement by Governor Murphy is another sign that leading politicians in the region are willing to take steps to alleviate damage caused by cannabis prohibition, alongside the creation of social equity-focused policy.

    // Medicine, Science, & Technology

    DEA’s 2020 Cannabis Cultivation Plan

    The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued their final plans to allow 3.2 million grams of cannabis to be cultivated in 2020 for research, representing a 30% increase from last year’s mark. The 2020 production quotas were initially put forward in September, preceding a public comment period for health professionals, state and federal officials, and the general public the weigh in (the cannabis quota did not change after this period).

    A demand for cannabis research has increased as more states move toward legalization, and the DEA says that the amount of cannabis researchers registered with the agency “has increased by more than 40%, from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019.” But a University of Mississippi farm is still the only federally authorized cultivation facility. Three years ago, the DEA said that it would start to approve additional manufacturers, but even after a lawsuit this summer (which was dismissed), none have been approved. Another concern is that current authorized research-grade cannabis has a low concentration of THC, creating a plant actually closer to hemp than most commercially available products.

    What This Means and Why You Care: The DEA’s 2020 quota for cannabis cultivation is a small step in the right direction, but until there is an expansion of approved cultivation facilities and an increased variety of research-grade cannabis, data from DEA-approved research will be insufficient.

    // Community

    Join Us! We’re All In This Together

    Here at CannaGather, we encourage everyone to get involved. Interested in joining us? We are always looking for:

    • Market Leaders in new locations
    • New team members in our existing locations (folks who want to help with sponsor sales or spreading the word to new attendees)
    • Sponsors for our events and newsletter

    You can email CannaGather founder Josh Weinstein at josh@cannagather.com for more info.

    Written by Justin Bernstein

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