The first month of 2019 was a busy one for the cannabis industry. This year is filled with big promises and high aspirations for cannabis entrepreneurs and consumers all over the world, nowhere more so than in the United States. Here’s a recap of the top 5 stories in cannabis from this month:
MEDICAL MARIJUANA SALES BEGIN IN OHIO
A handful of medical marijuana dispensaries opened in Ohio, USA this month after much anticipation. Ohio is a Midwestern state with a Republican governor, known for being an important political swing state.
Ohio’s restrictions on medical marijuana are stringent at the moment. There are 21 identified conditions that warrant a medical marijuana card, and currently less than 10 of the 56 dispensaries with provisional licenses are operational. Sales are limited to flowers (no edibles or topicals) while processing facilities continue to be under review.
Still, getting a few dispensaries open is a major step in Ohio’s march towards legalization. The outlook is good for the full implementation of the state’s medical marijuana program as the year progresses.
BIG NAME IN SPORTS CULTURE INVESTS IN CANNABIS
Joe Montana, football Hall of Famer and former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has become the latest in a string of celebrities backing cannabis ventures.
Montana’s investments are in Caliva, a California based company. Caliva sells products derived from California cannabis. They focus on new edibles, beverages, and other products that highlight the quality of California cannabis.
Caliva’s goal is to be the top selling and most recognized cannabis brand in California, becoming a truly global powerhouse. Montana notes Caliva’s commitment to innovating new products that will combat the opioid crisis.
GREEN GROWTH ANGLES FOR APHRIA
Green Growth Brands is a North American pharmaceutical company that operates in both Canada and select parts of the United States. Green Growth has launched an uninvited bid to take over Aphria, a Canadian company that offers dried marijuana products and cannabis oil for medical marijuana.
This bid is the formalized launch of a proposal made in late 2018. Green Growth’s bid was not received warmly by Aphria, and is widely considered to be a blatantly hostile attempt at a takeover.
If Green Growth’s acquisition is successful, it will make the merger across American and Canadian borders in the cannabis industry. However, all signs point towards Aphria continuing to treat Green Growth’s proposal coldly until the bid improves or another suitor comes to play.
REJECTED SUPER BOWL AD GOES VIRAL
The Super Bowl is the single most watched televised event in the United States. Airing an ad during the Super Bowl is guaranteed to garner your company buzz and traction of some kind, though the response isn’t always positive.
Acreage Holdings, Inc hoped to be the first company to air a pro-cannabis ad during the Super Bowl this year, but CBS crossed the ad off the list after viewing an outline. The ad has since been posted online and quickly went viral.
Acreage Holdings’ ad focuses on those with conditions and hidden injuries for whom medical marijuana is life changing, including a child suffering from seizures and a veteran with combat injuries. Although Acreage’s ad won’t be aired during the Super Bowl itself, the company may well have gotten the better deal this way.
Now the ad has been seen by millions of people without the company paying full Super Bowl ad price, and with all the emotional attachment only a viral video can induce.
While Acreage’s original goal was to bring exposure to their cause by engaging with the societal monolith that is the Super Bowl, perhaps their ad’s rejection by the monolith will actually be the key to moving the campaign forward.
US ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE PENS SUPPORT FOR LAW ABIDING CANNABIS VENTURES
The most exciting and unexpected development this month may have been William Barr’s written declaration to not go after marijuana businesses that abide by state laws and regulations.
Barr is US President Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General (to replace Jeff Sessions). While Barr made a verbal pledge to leave state law-abiding marijuana ventures alone, his written follow up in response to questions from members of Congress make his support that much more powerful.
Barr is not outright supporting marijuana legalization, but his attitude is virtually 180 degrees from Sessions’. If Barr is confirmed as Attorney General his amiable position will be key to continued legalization efforts.
ISRAEL KENESET APPROVES MEDICAL CANNABIS EXPORT
Israel’s cabinet approved a law to allow exports of medical cannabis in a move expected to boost state revenues and the agriculture sector, and which frustrates critics who fear it could lead to more recreational use of the drug. The bill, backed last month by parliament, allows companies approved by the health regulator and police to export medical cannabis to countries that permit its use. Israeli media said exports could start in as little as nine months.
“I have supported the export of medical cannabis from Israel all along, and I welcome the government’s approval today,” said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. “The export of medical cannabis will give the State of Israel a huge advantage in connecting research and development with agriculture and the cannabis industry, it will bring significant foreign currency revenues into the state and will maximize the advantages that the State of Israel possesses throughout the production chain.”