It’s pretty amazing it is already mid-December, isn’t it folks? This is Todd Denkin with The National Marijuana News and I hope the holiday season has been wonderful to all of you so far. It’s is always a bit of a scramble at the end of the year while we try to tie up loose ends at work and get ready for either family coming to visit or traveling to family. The marijuana legalization movement is trying to squeeze in as much as it can here before the end of the year too. New Jersey really wants to try and get their bill for adult-use marijuana passed, hemp could be legalized nationally at any moment and Massachusetts is getting more dispensaries opened. Let’s start off this broadcast with hemp though.
So, The Farm Bill of 2018 which will finally legalize industrial hemp nationwide was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives this week. All that remains is the president’s signature. He has stated that he backs the bill, but there is a lot going on in his life these days so he has not signed it quite yet, but it could happen at any moment. The Hemp Farming Act is part of The Farm Bill and it will entirely remove industrial hemp as a scheduled substance. Farmers will be able to legally grow and sell hemp, and manufacturers will be able to make nearly any product they would like from hemp, including non-psychoactive CBD extracts for public consumption. To be clear, this is not legalizing marijuana. Hemp is a close cousin of marijuana that will likely become a much larger market than cannabis in time. Hemp has many meaningful and beneficial uses which includes being a source for clothing, paper, cardboard, rope, food and much more. Industrial hemp is very durable, people have even made homes and planes from it. It is not very often that a new commodity is introduced to our economy, we might even see a futures contract put together soon that will be available for trading on the CME. Read our article on TNMNews.com, “Hemp Farming Act, Hemp Futures, CBD Research and More with the Farm Bill of 2018.”
Altria Buys Almost Half of Cronos
Sticking with business for another moment. Big tobacco took a large step into the cannabis industry this week. The makers of Marlboro cigarettes, Altria, invested over $2 billion dollars into Canadian based Cronos Group, and now owns 45% of the fully integrated cannabis company. Cigarettes sales have been on a consistent decline for years now and the movement to legalize cannabis has not helped. Trends towards healthier living is the biggest cause of the decline in demand for tobacco products, and these cigarette makers likely need to get into the business of cannabis to have a chance at surviving over the long term. Altria is also planning on an investment into a large vape technology company, Juul Labs Inc, in response to the popularity of vape pens as an healthier alternative to smoking. Certain industries like alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals have too much of an overlap in their consumer base with cannabis for them to ignore the rising popularity in marijuana. You can read more about Altria’s investment into Cronos Group at TNMNews.com by searching for, “Marlboro Cigarettes: Altria Group Inc. Invests into Cronos Group Inc.”
Calvin Johnson’s Medical Marijuana License Rejected by Michigan
Here is an interesting story out of Michigan, whose voters legalized recreational marijuana during the midterm elections making Michigan the first Midwest state to legalize weed. The former hall-of-fame bound receiver for the Detroit Lions, Calvin Johnson, a.k.a. Megatron, is trying to get into the legal cannabis trade. He and his business partner, also a retired Lion, Rob Sims, own CRJJA Ventures. They have applied for licenses to participate in Michigan’s medical marijuana program, likely with aspirations of getting involved in the adult-use market once rules are implemented. However, their applications are being denied by the state Medical Marijuana Licensing Board due to speeding tickets and home building citations. One board member said that it showed a “disrespect for the law” as an explanation for the denials. One member also said, “I don’t think that’s the type of person we can rely on to successfully operate in the regulated market.” I guess they take the vetting process for licensing in Michigan very seriously and any level of celebrity will not be given a pass. You can read more about this story on TNMNews.com as well.
Maintaining Appropriate Protections For Legal Entry Act (HR 7275)
Moving on to some more cannabis regulation news. Marijuana reform’s good friend, Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, has introduced a new bill, Maintaining Appropriate Protections For Legal Entry Act or you can just call it the MAPLE Act. The introduction of the new bill is in response to the U.S Customs and Border Protection Agency’s hardline stance on Canadians involved in the cannabis industry coming into the U.S. We reported on this story a few months ago. After Canada began selling recreational marijuana on October 17th, the CBP wanted to make it clear that marijuana was still very illegal in the United States. They announced that anyone involved in the business of marijuana up in Canada may face a lifetime ban on traveling to the United States. They later relaxed the policy, but one individual on November 14th was issued a lifetime ban into the U.S. for just having invested into a licensed cannabis company in Canada. Representative Blumenauer plainly did not think they relaxed it enough. The new bill would make entry into the country permissible if the individual in question is involved in any business or act that is “lawful in the State, Indian Tribe, or foreign country in which the conduct occurred.” Hard to argue with that Earl.
Well that is it for this week folks. Check out many more great stories at TNMNews.com and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @NationalMJNews. Also check out The National Marijuana News Youtube channel. This is Todd Denkin with The National Marijuana News, I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!