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German Government announces

Today in Germany federal ministers from the nation’s government held a press conference in which they announced components for what will serve as the ‘first phase’ of adult-use cannabis legalization in the European Union’s most populous country.

“In a first step, cultivation in non-profit associations and private cultivation should be made possible nationwide. In a second step, the sale in specialist shops will be implemented as a scientifically designed, regionally limited and time-limited model project. In the model project, the effects of a commercial supply chain on health and youth protection as well as the black market can be scientifically examined in more detail.” Government officials stated in a press release after today’s press conference.

According to details offered up during the press conference, a video of which is embedded at the end of this article, there will be a possession limit of up to 25 grams of cannabis and a cultivation limit of a maximum of three plants. The legal age will be set at 18.

“Cannabis is a common stimulant. It is often offered and used illegally in Germany. This is often a health hazard. Adolescents in particular are impaired in their social and cognitive development by cannabis. Despite this, more and more young people are using the drug. The black market goods are often contaminated and create additional health hazards. We can no longer accept this. That’s why we dare the controlled sale of cannabis to adults within clear limits and push back the black market, flanked by preventive measures for young people. Health protection is the priority. The previous cannabis policy has failed. Now we have to break new ground.” said German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach about cannabis policy in Germany.

“The previous restrictive handling of cannabis in Germany has failed. Banning cannabis criminalizes countless people, pushing them into criminal structures and tying up immense resources from law enforcement agencies. It’s time for a new approach that allows more personal responsibility, pushes back the black market and relieves the police and public prosecutor’s offices. We trust people more – without downplaying the dangers that can emanate from cannabis consumption.” added German Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann.

Another key component of the legalization plan’s first phase, which will serve as the foundation for adult-use cannabis access for many consumers in Germany, will be noncommercial associations or clubs. Membership will be capped at 500 consumers per club.

“Membership fees cover the cost price, staggered according to the quantity supplied ( possibly with a basic flat rate and an additional amount per gram supplied). The number of members per association is limited to a maximum of 500 with a minimum age of 18 years and domicile or habitual abode in Germany. The number of associations can be limited by population density.” today’s press release stated.

“The use of cannabis is a social reality. Decades of prohibition policies have turned a blind eye to this and, above all, caused problems: at the expense of our children and young people, the health of consumers and the law enforcement authorities. Now we are creating a coherent and pragmatic cannabis policy from a single source, from cultivation to consumption. Nobody should have to buy from dealers without knowing what they are getting. Through controlled cultivation and distribution within the framework of cannabis clubs, we strengthen youth and health protection. And: We cut the ground for organized crime, which does not even shy away from selling it to children. With a regional model project, we are also exploring the possibilities of a commercial supply chain.” said Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir.

The second phase of the legalization plan announced today, which the Minister of Agriculture touched on in his comments, will involve the launch of regional adult-use commerce pilot projects, somewhat similar to what is in place in Basel, Switzerland. Although, what will likely be implemented in Germany will presumably be on a much larger scale. The following details were released today regarding pilot projects:

  • The project duration is 5 years from the established supply chain.
  • There is a spatial restriction to delivery points and adult residents of certain districts/cities in several federal states (opt-in approach).
  • Within the framework of the law, approval of the sale of edibles is being examined in compliance with strict youth and health protection regulations.

A third phase for legalization, which appeared to only be lightly alluded to today, is the push for nationwide adult-use sales. Leading up to today’s press conference Germany’s Health Minister indicated via comments to the media that the push for nationwide sales is not over. Rather, more time will be needed to lobby the European Union which appears to be willing to allow possession, home cultivation, noncommercial clubs, and regional pilot programs yet is still not willing to approve national sales. Thankfully, German lawmakers are not giving up, albeit moving forward on other legalization components pertaining to personal freedom in the meantime.

“The cornerstones of the 2-pillar model (“ C lub A nbau & Regional -Modell/ CARe ”) have been developed by the Federal Ministry of Health as the leader, as well as the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Foreign Office in accordance with the technical responsibilities. The EU and international law limits were taken into account. On the basis of the key issues paper, the federal government will now present a draft law at short notice.” government officials stated in today’s press release.

“The federal departments are working on all parts of the project within the scope of their respective responsibilities under the overall leadership of the BMG. Both pillars are incorporated into concrete draft laws, with the working draft for pillar 1 being presented in April 2023, followed by the draft law for pillar 2. The results of the scientific report already commissioned on the effects of the legalization of recreational cannabis on health and youth protection in other countries are taken into account for both pillars.” the press release also stated.

“At the same time, the Federal Government is continuing its efforts (particularly through the missions abroad) to promote its approaches to its European partners and is also examining the extent to which a sufficient number of EU Member States can initiate the initiative in order to comply with the relevant EU legal framework in the medium term to be made more flexible and developed further.” the press release concluded.

International Cannabis Conference – Written by Johnny Green on April 12, 2023. Posted in Policy.

German Government Announces Plans For Permitting Adult-Use Home Cultivation Read More »

Indigenous producer takes title partnership for BC Cannabis Summit

The B.C. Cannabis Summit returns to Kelowna for a second year

The B.C. Craft Farmers Co-op has announced that All Nations Mestiyexw will be the title partner at the 2023 B.C. Cannabis Summit in Kelowna.

All Nations is an Indigenous-led cannabis producer that weaves traditional Indigenous practices with innovative cultivation methods.

“At All Nations, we focus on strengthening the connection to Indigenous communities. We strive to make a positive socioeconomic impact with Indigenous communities, always encouraging and inspiring Indigenous participation in this industry,” said All Nations CEO Darwin Douglas. “Our model is recognized by Indigenous communities across the country. It speaks to where Indigenous communities are in their quest for economic sovereignty and their desire to build prosperity – seeking business opportunities within their Nation and on their traditional territories. All Nations is about producing great cannabis, creating hope for communities, bringing the Indigenous people into this industry and creating a future that’s sustainable and creating positive societal impact.”

The three-day summit will be packed with vendors, prizes, and guest speakers including Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth and Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson.

Tickets are limited and can be purchased online.

The summit will be held at the Eldorado Resort April 21-23.

READ MORE: A dope 4/20 in Kelowna with the B.C. Cannabis Summit

Indigenous producer takes title partnership for B.C. Cannabis Summit Read More »

Cannabis Industry acknowledged by Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the need for the government to “catch up” with the cannabis industry’s concerns around issues like high taxation in a recent public event.

In a town hall meeting on March 16 in Newfoundland and Labrador, Trudeau responded to comments from Taylor Giovannini, the owner of local cannabis producer and retailer Oceanic Releaf

Giovannini shared her concerns with the challenges businesses like hers face due to issues like high taxes and reluctant banks. 

The cannabis industry has been calling for reforms to the federal excise tax rate for years now, arguing it ends up taking as much as 30 percent or more of their revenue. For fiscal year 2018-2019, the first year of legalization, the CRA assessed $71,922,000 for cannabis duty on dried/fresh cannabis flower and $19,534,000 for cannabis extracts, including edible/ingestible cannabis oil, for a total of $91,563,000. 

“Now “that we’ve got the public health and safety stuff out of the way, or on the way, I think you’re absolutely right we should absolutely take a closer look at ‘okay, what do we do then to make sure that this is a beneficial industry’?”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

For fiscal year 2019-2020, the CRA assessed $229,697,000 for cannabis duty on dried/fresh cannabis flower and $25,743,000 for cannabis extracts, including edible/ingestible cannabis oil, and $1,182,000 for cannabis edibles, for a total of $256,622,000. 

Many cannabis companies in Canada have long found it difficult to find and keep a bank or other lending institution, or even to maintain an account, with one producer recently even filing a lawsuit against several Canadian banks

Giovanni told Saltwire that the first cannabis retail store she opened “almost collapsed” when the Bank of Montreal cancelled their business account.

Challenges faced by cannabis businesses in Canada trying to get and keep relationships with lending institutions are well known, with many banks unwilling to do business with what they see as an uncertain industry. 

Some have turned to smaller lending institutions like credit unions, some of which have leaned into the gap left by larger banks.

Giovanni’s question for Trudeau was asking when the new cannabis industry will see relief on some of these issues, especially in light of the federal legislative review of the Cannabis Act.

In his response, Trudeau first brought up the government’s historical public-health focussed messaging around legaization, but noted that now that the legal system is established, the government has a need to take a look at ensuring those businesses who “stepped up” in this new industry can survive. 

“We didn’t legalize so that there would be growth in jobs and opportunity, we legalized out of a public health concern,” Trudeau told the crowd. “The current situation was not keeping Canadians safe, it was giving kids too-easy access to cannabis. It was fuelling the black market that then turned around and fuelled all sorts of other illegal activities, and we made the decision on a health basis. If we had gone into this saying ‘okay let’s design a burgeoning new industry that we can create success’, we might have made some different choices, but we looked at it from a public health and safety standard.

“Now that we’ve got the public health and safety stuff out of the way, or on the way, I think you’re absolutely right that we should absolutely take a much closer look at ‘okay, what do we do then to make sure that this is a beneficial industry?’

“You can say ‘well it’s a drug’, but boy are we ever proud of our wineries across Canada, are we ever proud of our microbreweries…these are consumption choices… People are evolving, and I can understand that the people who stepped up into the industry in its infancy are being part of the growing pains. And we will try and make sure that we’re capturing your concerns as we look at renewal of the Act, which we knew we were going to need to do.

“There is a little more clarity about how the industry is evolving, and it’s easy to say ten years from now, fifty years from now, it will be great. Right now you’re in the industry, you have payroll you’re trying to make, you’re trying to support people. We want to try and get there for you as well. But this was done not because we were going to create jobs with it—although we knew that would happen. It was done out of a public health and justice approach. But hopefully we’re going to be able to catch up and be supportive of the real positive industry that it has become.”

The Cannabis Act review panel has been engaging with numerous cannabis industry stakeholders, patient groups, and others across Canada since the full panel was announced in late 2022. The group is tasked with then compiling a report for the government based on that feedback, which will be presented in the House of Commons likely in early 2024. 

In addition, as part of Budget 2022, the federal government noted that as the legal cannabis industry in Canada grows, there are opportunities for the federal government to “streamline, strengthen, and adapt the cannabis excise duty framework specifically, and other excise duty regimes under the Excise Act, 2001 accordingly.” That work is being conducted, in part, by ISED—Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada—a federal agency that focuses on increasing Canada’s share of global trade.

| Staff

Trudeau says it’s time for government to “catch up” and support cannabis industry Read More »

Buying cannabis seeds and clones

As Canadians prepare for the 2023 cannabis growing season, home growers are beginning to get more options for finding cannabis clones and seeds. 

In New Brunswick, the provincial retailer Cannabis New Brunswick (CNB) started selling clones this February in coordination with two local cannabis growers. 

New Brunswickers who want to buy up to four cannabis clones at a time can order in-store at one of a dozen different CNB stores around the province and pick them up about a week later

Currently, the province offers six different cultivars from two local growers, ECO Canadian Organic in Ruxton and Hidden Harvest in Moncton.

ECO Canadian Organic first began selling clones from their farmgate store in April 2022, and Hidden Harvest recently began selling clones from their own newly-acquired farmgate licence for their cannabis nursery at 555 Edinburgh Dr.

Cannabis NB was also selling cannabis clones at a recent event they hosted in February called Cannabis East.

ECO Canadian says their clone sales have been a welcome addition to their farmgate sales, with more than 1,000 plants sold in 2022.

Kevin Clark, the QAP at Eco Canadian Organic, says the provincial regulator first approached them in the fall of 2022 about their plans to offer clones online. 

“CNB has been an excellent partner, understanding that the product is a living organism and requires a specific environment for the plant to maintain its health throughout the distribution chain,” explains Clark, adding that ECO delivers the products directly to the stores on a weekly basis. 

“Working with CNB has been an educational experience for both parties as we are developing a pilot program not seen before at the retail level, and we are excited about how CNB is taking a proactive approach in contacting other LPs to join in the sale and distribution of clones.”

Emilie Dow, a Communications Specialist with Cannabis NB, says the province has sold more than 200 clones so far. Clones are $25 each. New Brunswick allows residents to grow up to four cannabis plants at home. (editor’s note: This article has been corrected to correct the price of clones.)

“We’re excited about the program, and initial feedback has been positive,” Dow tells StratCann via email. “It’s very new, but we hope to expand it in the future once we’ve had a chance to properly assess customer interest.” 

Rob Wilson, the owner of Hidden Harvest, says selling clones through Cannabis NB helps add to the viability of his business, as does his newly-acquired farmgate licence that allows him to sell clones directly to consumers from his facility in Moncton. This makes Hidden Harvest the second farmgate store in New Brunswick offering clones after ECO Canadian Organic. 

Although the majority of Hidden Harvest’s business is B2B sales of clones to other commercial growers, every little bit helps.

“The way we look at it, our bread and butter is still the professional market,” says Wilson. “We don’t sell the same product to the professional side as the consumer side, so we look at the farmgate as a different way to bring in some income. But even if we can capture even just a tiny part of the home grow market, I think it can work for us.”

Cannabis clones and seeds across Canada

New Brunswick isn’t the only province that has offered clones to home growers. In the past few years, a few growers and nurseries have offered short-lived pop-ups for clone sales without much fanfare or success. In Newfoundland and Labrador, cannabis producer and retailer Atlantic Canada started selling clones in their own stores in 2022

In BC, cannabis chain Seed and Stone began selling clones at a few of their stores in March. The cannabis starts are available through a partnership with Herbal Dispatch, which provides them through BC’s direct delivery program. Clones are being sold in-store for $40 each. 

Vikram Sachdeva, the founder of Seed and Stone, says they hope to expand their offerings to not only cannabis seeds and clones, but everything a home grower will need. 

“Providing these services to our customers is really important. We want to become a one-stop shop where we will offer pots, soil, nutrients, and also be educating our budtenders on educating the customers on how to grow these plants”.

Home growers seeking seeds can also find an increasing variety in nearly every province other than Manitoba and Quebec, which both still don’t allow their residents to grow their own cannabis.

In New Brunswick, ECO Canadian made waves recently by announcing a deal with Greenhouse Seed Co to offer the company’s unique genetics in Canada. New Brunswick currently lists about a dozen seed varieties from a handful of Canadian companies. 

Home growers in BC have a handful of cannabis seed varieties to choose from, and several private retailers list seeds online in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Ontario currently appears to offer residents the most cannabis seed options with over 30 varieties available

New Brunswick currently lists a handful of seeds, as does Cannabis NL in Newfoundland and Labrador. PEI, which initially offered cannabis clone sales via direct delivery, also offers residents a handful of cannabis seeds to choose from. 

Home growers in Yukon also have options for legal cannabis seeds, as do those in the Northwest Territories.

| David Brown

Feature image via Cannabis NB

 

Buying cannabis seeds and clones in Canada in 2023 Read More »

Cannabis businesses rally behind banking lawsuit

The Canadian cannabis industry is reacting to a recent lawsuit filed against several Canadian lending institutions.

Following the announcement of the lawsuit on February 10, people operating different businesses within the Canadian cannabis industry have been sharing their own frustrations about working with banks in Canada.

The biggest challengesays Paul Hakimi, owner of The Hash Guild, a micro processor in Ontariois not only being refused by banks, but also being accepted only to have the rug pulled out from under them sometime later. 

“When we first started The Hash Guild in 2019, the banks, and RBC in particular, were very supportive in setting up our accounts,” explains Hakimi. “Now in 2023, with all of our federal licensing as well as overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, banks have withdrawn their support and even closed our accounts.”

Although he has been able to find other banks willing to work with his business, he says they tend to charge very high rates for cannabis businesses. 

“Other financial institutions are now charging exorbitant rates to licensed producers while black market producers are finding ways to grow with these same institutions. As a federally licensed producer, our hands are tied with the banks. It is our hope that the government, which created this industry five years ago, will step in and mandate that the discrimination against our market stops.”

John Karroll, CEO of Trichome Consulting Services Inc., which has assisted different cannabis businesses through the licensing process, says he’s seen these same challenges arise again and again for new cannabis companies trying to find a bank to work with. 

Karroll says his company has helped more than 200 companies through the commercial licensing process and estimates that around 60% have run into challenges finding or keeping a bank account. 

“This issue is significant and widespread across Canada. It impacts many legally registered cannabis companies, from retail to micro & standard licenses, and creates financial hardship for these companies. In addition, the majority of companies that are in the application process with Health Canada are also victims to this banking issue, as they cannot open accounts if they state openly to the bank they are in the cannabis industry”.  

“These companies are spending thousands of dollars to be part of this industry and meet all regulatory requirements, municipal, provincial and federal,” he adds. “They are compliant and go through the stringent licensing requirements. Yet they have to process these operational funds through personal bank accounts or other companies that are not listed as cannabis operations.”

Karroll says he suspects some of the challenges could be related to banks and other lending institutions that also do business in places like the United States, where cannabis remains federally illegal. 

However, Joshua Reynolds, President of CapitalNow Cannabis, a small financing company focused exclusively on small-to-medium-sized licensed operators in the Canadian cannabis sector, tells StratCann he thinks this may often be an easy excuse some banks use when they simply don’t want to work with cannabis companies.

“I think they have conveniently been able to blame those rules, but I don’t think they would jump into it. I think they see it as too risky still, that it’s not mature enough. I think they would be concerned about the business acumen, and a few other things.”   

Highlighting how widespread the issue is, following the announcement of the class action lawsuit against Desjardins Federation, National Bank, Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal, TD Bank, Royal Bank (RBC), and CIBC, numerous cannabis companies also left comments online mirroring similar experiences across Canada. Here are just a few:

February 22, 2023 | Staff | Business, Cannabis News, Government

Cannabis businesses rally behind banking lawsuit Read More »

Few if any harms associated with moderate cannabis use and lung function

Researchers in Australia say they have found no consistent association between cannabis use and measures of lung function. 

A recent study published in the medical journal Respiratory Medicine looked at whether cigarette smoking or cannabis use and co-use with tobacco are associated with changes in lung function in a population sample of young adults.

Although researchers found evidence suggesting impairments in lung function associated with cigarette smoking, it found few if any harms associated with relatively low levels of cannabis use.

It also found that the co-use of tobacco and cannabis appears to have no additional risk to lung function than those associated with only tobacco use.

The data is from a cohort study of cigarette smoking, cannabis use, and co-use at 21 and 30 years of age and lung function. Subjects were several thousands of now-adult children of pregnant women who were recruited into the cohort study over the period of 1981 to 1983 in Australia.

“Our findings regarding cannabis use are suggestive of few if any harms associated with relatively low levels of cannabis use evident in a young adult sample. The combined (co-use) of tobacco smoking and cannabis use does not appear to be associated with harms that are greater than the use of tobacco smoking alone.”

While cigarette smoking was associated with reduced airflow in the lungs, researchers found no consistent association between cannabis use and measures of lung function, even after years of use.

Researchers specifically wanted to look at any possible increased risk with the co-use of cannabis and tobacco, something that has not as of yet been studied in depth.

Although they found no increased risk to lung airflow related to co-use of cannabis with tobacco, or of stand-alone cannabis use, researchers still noted other health concerns with cannabis use.

Lung function was assessed by a trained interviewer at the two different follow-up stages, 21 and 30 years of age. The interviewers were trained by a clinician who was an investigator in the study, using a spirometer to measure lung airflow.

At the 21 and 30 year data collections, respondents were asked how many cigarettes they smoked in the past week and how often they had used cannabis in the last month.

At 30 years, respondents were also asked whether they had used cannabis in the last 12 months and how much cannabis they generally used on the days they were consuming it. 

Cigarette smoking at 21 or 30 years was associated with a reduction in airflow from the lungs. In contrast, researchers found that cannabis use at 21 or 30 years was not significantly associated with reduced lung function and that those who co-used cannabis and tobacco had the same reduced lung function as tobacco-only smokers. Those who only smoked cannabis and not tobacco had similar lung function as those who didn’t use cannabis or tobacco. 

With tobacco users who were still smoking at the age of thirty, the negative impacts on lung function were increased, while those who continued to use cannabis did not have such associated negative effects. 

Researchers also noted that those who used cannabis, even those who also smoked tobacco, used it with less frequency and in less volume than they did tobacco. It also noted that those who were smoking tobacco by 21 years of age but had quit by 30 had better lung function than those who continued to smoke tobacco. 

In acknowledging possible limitations, researchers note that the bronchodilator effects of cannabis on the lungs could have contributed to the strength of respiration recorded via spirometry, and that the study only covers two specific age demographics over a nine-year period. It also references past studies that have suggested that heavy lifetime use of cannabis impacts lung function.

| Staff | Cannabis News


Read other cannabis news stories

Few if any harms associated with moderate cannabis use and lung function Read More »

medical cannabis products

In recent years, there have been several studies and surveys – most of them anecdotal — suggesting that cannabis reduces the need for opioid pain medication. A large new study takes that research a step further, finding direct evidence that chronic pain patients, including those on high doses, significantly reduced their opioid use once they started using medical cannabis.

Researchers with the New York State Department of Health and University of Albany School of Public Health followed over 8,100 patients on long-term opioid therapy (LOT) after they began using medical cannabis. All of the patients had been on opioids for at least 120 days, including some on relatively high daily doses of 90 or more morphine milligram equivalents (MME).

Researchers found that average daily doses declined significantly over time, especially for patients on high opioid doses. After eight months of using medical cannabis (MC), patients taking over 90 MME saw their daily doses fall by nearly 70 percent, compared to a 29% reduction in those getting 50 to 90 MME and a 15% reduction in those on 50 MME or less.

“This cohort study found that receiving MC for longer was associated with opioid dosage reductions. The reductions were larger among individuals who were prescribed higher dosages of opioids at baseline. These findings contribute robust evidence for clinicians regarding the potential benefits of MC in reducing the opioid burden for patients receiving LOT and possibly reduce their risk for overdose,” researchers reported in JAMA Network Open.

The study has some weaknesses. Researchers did not track the pain levels of patients or the types of pain conditions they suffered from. Also unknown is the dose or types of cannabis products they consumed.   

Although the study was conducted at a time when patients nationwide were losing access to opioids or having their doses reduced, researchers say it is “highly unlikely” that impacted their findings because the dosage decline for their patients didn’t begin until they started consuming cannabis.  

Marijuana advocates cheered the study findings.  

“The relationship between cannabis and opioid use is among of the best-documented aspects of marijuana policy,” Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML, said in a statement. “In short, the science demonstrates that marijuana is a relatively safe and effective pain reliever — and that patients with legal access to it consistently reduce their use of prescription opioid medications.” 

A similar study of over 500 chronic pain patients being treated at medical cannabis clinics found a significant decline in their pain levels. And 85% of patients reported they either reduced or stopped using opioids.

  By Pat Anson, PNN Editor

 

Medical Cannabis Reduced Opioid Use in High Dose Patients Read More »

Cannabis Mitigates Symptoms in Patients with Treatment-Resistant Post-Traumatic Stress

Tel Aviv, Israel: The use of cannabis prior to bedtime is associated with improved sleep in patients with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress (PTS), according to data published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry

Israeli researchers evaluated cannabis use in a cohort of 14 subjects with combat-related traumatic stress. Subjects had previously tried various conventional treatments without success. All of the patients were naïve to cannabis prior to enrolling in the study. Study participants consumed cannabis in the evenings in an outpatient setting for a period of at least six-months. 

Investigators reported: “After treatment with cannabis, total sleep score, subjective sleep quality, and sleep duration significantly improved. … Total PTSD symptom score and its subdomains (intrusiveness, avoidance, and alertness) showed [also] improvement.” By contrast, cannabis treatment was not associated with reducing patients’ frequency of nightmares. 

None of the patients reported any side-effects from cannabis, nor did any elect to cease using cannabis prior to the end of the study period. 

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first published study examining long-term cannabis efficacy in chronic combat treatment-resistant PTSD patients,” authors concluded. “The study’s findings show an overall improvement in sleep quality and duration, as well as a decrease in PTSD symptoms. … Future research should clarify the long-term effects of cannabis on different groups of patients suffering from PTSD.”

Israelis suffering from post-traumatic stress have been legally able to access cannabis since 2014. Currently, about 10 percent of all Israelis authorized to access medical cannabis use it to treat symptoms of PTS. 

Other studies have similarly reported improvements in sleep duration and in insomnia in patients with and without PTS. The enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization has also been correlated with a decrease in the sale of over-the-counter sleep aid medications.

Full text of the study, “Medical cannabis treatment for treatment-resistant combat PTSD,” appears in Frontiers in Psychiatry. Additional information on cannabis and post-traumatic stress is available from NORML’s publication, Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids. Additional information on cannabis and insomnia is available from NORML.

Study: Cannabis Mitigates Symptoms in Patients with Treatment-Resistant Post-Traumatic Stress Read More »

Lawsuit alleges banks in Canada are discriminating against cannabis industry

The lawsuit—brought by Groupe SGF, a group of cannabis legal advisors and consultants—is suing on behalf of Gabriel Bélanger, the founder of Origami Extraction, a micro processor in Quebec. The suit names the Desjardins Federation, National Bank, Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal, TD Bank, Royal Bank (RBC), and CIBC. 

The class action includes all individuals or corporations that, directly or indirectly, do business with any of the defendant banks and who have been involved in the legal cannabis industry since October 17th, 2018.

Maxime Guérin, a lawyer with Groupe SGF who is representing the case, says the issue of banks treating legal cannabis businesses unfairly has been damaging to the development of the legal industry. 

“For far too long, Canadian banks have treated the cannabis industry like pariahs, as if it was still completely illegal,” says Guérin. “By doing so, they are depriving the Canadian—but especially the local—economy of developing a promising market.”

“It was necessary, almost 5 years after legalization and discussions between the industry and the banks, that we took this step. Enough is enough, the legal cannabis industry and its players are 100% legal and should not be treated as criminals anymore, especially in a corporate environment such as a bank.”

The lawsuit contends that these lending institutions have taken “reprehensible and discriminatory actions” towards numerous individuals and businesses who have been operating within Canada’s legal, regulated cannabis market.

This class action covers anyone that has a relation with legal cannabis. It covers anyone that is directly or indirectly part of the industry, either it be the bud tender in Ontario, the LP in Saskatchewan, or the hydroponic shop in Québec that sells fertilizers.”
Maxime Guérin, a lawyer with Groupe SGF

The lawsuit contends that prior to October 18, 2018, the legal medical cannabis industry still faced numerous challenges to accessing banks, but options remained available. This changed, it continues, after cannabis was fully legalized in 2018, though with no clear policy and many banks often refusing to open bank accounts, supply loans, or do any kind of business with some cannabis business owners while continuing to do business with others.

In the instance of Gabriel Bélanger, the micro processor who is pursuing this issue, he opened a bank account registered to his own cannabis consulting agency in 2020 with the National Bank of Canada.

Then, in 2022, after Bélanger incorporated his company Origami Extraction Inc, he received a letter from National Bank telling him that the account of Origami Extraction would be closed on October 11, 2022. Bélanger contends he only discovered his accounts had been closed when he checked his bank account. 

Over time, Bélanger then says he was also refused by Desjardins and CIBC, and not provided a clear explanation of why. 

Then, on December 2, 2022, the lawsuit says a National Bank account manager told Bélanger that his two bank accounts, as well as any linked credit cards, were closed simply because the businesses were connected to the cannabis industry. 

Bélanger was initially able to open a bank account with the Royal Bank of Canada between October and November 2022, but was then informed in December that the accounts were closed due to an “internal policy”.

Bélanger says he also attempted to open an account with Desjardins in 2020 connected to another cannabis company in Quebec but was refused.

This inability to secure permanent banking caused Bélanger undue hardship, contends the lawsuit, and forced him to use his personal account for business, further putting himself at financial risk. With his micro processing licence, he says he has a minimum annual turnover rate of one million dollars, highlighting the challenge of operating this kind of business without a bank account. 

The lawsuit seeks compensation not only for Bélanger, but any others who have had similar experiences in Canada, says Guérin.

“This class action covers anyone that has a relation with legal cannabis. It covers anyone that is directly or indirectly part of the industry, either it be the budtender in Ontario, the LP in Saskatchewan or the hydroponic shop in Québec that sells fertilizers.” 


More information on the class action can be found here

Many cannabis companies in Canada have long found it difficult to find and keep a bank or other lending institution, or even to maintain an account

Challenges with cannabis businesses in Canada getting and keeping relationships with lending institutions are well known, with many banks unwilling to do business with what they see as an uncertain industry. 

Some have turned to smaller lending institutions like credit unions, some of which have leaned into the gap left by larger banks.

| David Brown | Business, Cannabis News

Lawsuit alleges banks in Canada are discriminating against cannabis industry Read More »

Smoking Cannabis Not Associated With Impaired Lung Functioning
Smoking cannabis was not associated with impaired lung functioning for young adults in a new longitudinal study published in Respiratory Medicine. In contrast to another recent study suggesting that smoking cannabis is more likely to cause emphysema than smoking tobacco, researchers in this study found that smoking cannabis alone was not tied to reduced airflow or impaired lung functioning. Still limitations in both studies suggest that we still don’t have a clear picture of smoked cannabis’ effect on our lungs.
 
This new study, from researchers at University of Queensland in Australia, examined whether chronic cannabis smoking was associated with damaging effects on the lungs of young adults, specifically. “Cannabis use is increasingly legalized and use is becoming normalized.” Lead author Professor Jake Najman explains. “In this context, understanding more about the harms associated with long-term cannabis use is important.”
 
To investigate this, researchers followed a cohort of 1173 young adults from age 21 to age 30, testing their lung function using a spirometry assessment at the beginning and end of the 9 year period. Spirometry tests are commonly used to help diagnose lung conditions, like asthma and COPD, by measuring the amount of air someone can breathe out in one forced breath. This is done with a device called a spirometer, which has a mouthpiece the patient can breathe into.
 
Researchers also tracked whether the members of the cohort smoked cannabis, tobacco, both or nothing over the 9 years. This was done using questionnaires at age 21 and 30, when the lung function tests were performed. Afterwards researchers analyzed the data to see whether cannabis smoking over 9 years had reduced lung function.
 

The results showed the expected association between tobacco smokers and reduced airflow. Those who smoked cigarettes alone, or cigarettes with cannabis, had reductions in their airflow over the 9 year period. Cannabis did not add to these reductions, over and above what was already found for tobacco only smokers. But perhaps surprisingly, in light of the recent findings on cannabis and emphysema, smoking cannabis alone did not reduce airflow or seem to impact lung functioning. Even after 9 years of use, cannabis smoke exposure did not seem to impact the lungs.

The authors concluded that “cannabis does not appear to be related to lung function, even after years of use.” They also concluded that using cannabis with tobacco doesn’t seem to add any additional risk to the lungs, beyond the harms already associated with smoking tobacco.

This is in stark contrast to the recent study in the journal Radiology suggesting smoking cannabis is more likely to cause emphysema than tobacco. In that study, chest CT scans revealed higher levels of emphysema in smokers who used cannabis and tobacco together, than those who used tobacco only. It’s important to note, however, that the Radiology study was limited by the fact that it did not look at any smokers who used cannabis alone. Thus the results suggesting higher rates of emphysema should be understood as relevant to the use of cannabis and tobacco together – not necessarily cannabis alone. There may be combinatory effects from mixing these two substances that aren’t present with either one alone. This doesn’t mean we can rule out cannabis as a potential cause of emphysema, but it does mean we need more research to confirm that these results hold for those using cannabis only.

In contrast, the Respiratory Medicine study did study cannabis-only smokers, and found no differences in lung functioning from the non-smoking control group.

The study in Radiology also used a relatively small sample size of only 146 patients, which can be compared to the 1173 respondents in the study that found no effects on lung function from smoking cannabis. That said, it’s important to note some other differences between these two studies that could partly explain their seemingly conflicting results.

First, the study in Radiology was on mostly older individuals, who have had more time to damage their lungs. It’s very possible that cannabis users would show more noticeable damage after more years of smoking than the 9 year period studied here. This study does not rule that out, it just shows no evidence of harm in the first 9 years.

It’s also important to note that the study in Radiology used CT scans to diagnose lung problems, while the recent study in Respiratory Medicine used spirometry. Different tests can produce different results. And in fact, some researchers suggest that spirometry tests, in particular, can miss conditions like emphysema in their early stages. So it may simply be that the damage being done isn’t being picked up by this test – the way it might be with the CT scan.

Given these research limitations, the question is still open on whether smoking cannabis can cause lung impairment and damage the way that tobacco more clearly does. We need more studies looking at the impacts of heavy cannabis smoking alone, throughout someone’s lifespan, before we can really come to a strong scientific conclusion.

Forbes

Emily Earlenbaugh – Contributor
 
Emily covers cannabis’ intersection with science, culture, and wellness.
 

 

 

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