Marijuana News Roundup: Trump AG Nominee Sessions No Friend to Cannabis

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In what is generally viewed as a negative development for the legal marijuana market, President-elect Donald Trump has selected Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be the next Attorney General of the United States. Sessions is an outspoken critic of marijuana legalization who was reported as saying (jokingly) that the Ku Klux Klan was “OK” before he discovered that KKK members smoked marijuana. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this year, Sessions said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Perhaps the biggest threat to the cannabis industry is that Sessions (if confirmed) would reverse the Justice Department’s current policy of mostly turning a blind eye to enforcing federal drug laws in states where voters have approved medical or recreational use of marijuana products.

Efforts from the industry to remove marijuana from the Schedule I list of most dangerous drugs are also likely to fall on deaf ears if Sessions becomes the AG. And as long as marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, there are many avenues open to federal law enforcement officials to raise havoc in the industry, not the least of which is a chilling effect on new investment.

For more on what a Sessions appointment may mean, see this article in Weed News.

Marijuana Found Innocent of Being a “Gateway Drug”
Publishing the “most comprehensive” report ever compiled on the cause of addiction, research conducted by The University of British Columbia indicates that people suffering from drug dependency issues could benefit from marijuana use.

Particularly helpful for those suffering from alcohol and opioid addictions, the new study found marijuana use offers a realistic exit strategy for breaking the bonds of addiction, according to Zach Walsh at UBC.

Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication.

Drilling down on the available marijuana-related studies, researchers at UBC found:

In reviewing the limited evidence on medical cannabis, it appears that patients and others who have advocated for cannabis as a tool for harm reduction and mental health have some valid points.

Read more at Marijuana.com.

Where Marijuana Plants Flourish Under Energy-Saving LED Lights
Behind the covered windows of a nondescript two-story building near the Olympia Regional Airport, hundreds of marijuana plants were flowering recently in the purple haze of 40 LED lights.

It was part of a high-stakes experiment in energy conservation — an undertaking subsidized by the local electric company. With cannabis cultivation poised to become a big business in some parts of the country, power companies and government officials hope it will grow into a green industry.

The plants here, destined for sale in the form of dried flowers, joints or edible items, were just a few weeks from harvest and exuding the potent aroma of a stash room for the Grateful Dead. But the energy-efficient LED lights were the focus of attention.

“We wanted to find a way to save energy — that was important to us,” said Rodger Rutter, a retired airline pilot who started this indoor pot-farming business, Evergrow Northwest, after Washington State legalized recreational cannabis in 2012.

“We wanted to be able to offer the best product at the best price,” Mr. Rutter said, “and a big part of the cost is energy.”

As cannabis has increasingly gone legitimate — about two dozen states had already legalized it in some form before several others eased restrictions on Election Day — electric utilities have struggled to cope with the intensive energy demands of the proliferating industry.

Read more at The New York Times.

Cannabis Real Estate Company Gets NYSE Approval, but Wall Street Debut Delayed
The first cannabis company to land a listing on the New York Stock Exchange could go public early next week; however, a culmination of factors — including marijuana’s uncertain future on the federal level — appear to be giving investors some pause, an analyst says.

Innovative Industrial Properties, a San Diego-based real estate investment trust (REIT) for medical cannabis facilities, filed documents in October to raise $175 million by offering 8.75 million shares at $20 per share. At that price, the company would have a $201.7 million market value and would use part of its proceeds for a $30 million sale-leaseback transaction with PharmaCann, a New York-based medical cultivator and dispensary operator.

The company received approval from the NYSE to list its ticker “IIPR” and was initially expected to have its shares price and go public this week.

“Getting NYSE clearance means there’s at least one less hurdle for cannabis IPOs (initial public offerings) in the future,” said Matthew Kennedy, an analyst with Renaissance Capital, a Greenwich, Conn.-based manager of IPO-focused exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Read more at The Cannabist.

US Drinks Industry Ponders Effect of Cannabis Legalisation
This Thanksgiving, Californians may have been tempted to include an additional ingredient in their pumpkin pies. Marijuana was legalised in the US’s most populous state this month, reflecting a mellowing of social attitudes towards the drug.

Alongside the presidential election, five states voted on whether to legalise the recreational use of cannabis, with Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, voting in favour, along with California.

But one sector is watching the spread of legalisation with a degree of trepidation: the $200bn US alcohol industry. Though alcohol and weed might seem eminently compatible to some, a number of brewers fear cannabis as a competitive threat, with some industry groups going as far as contributing funds to anti-legalisation campaigns.

Boston Beer Company, the largest craft brewer in the US with brands that include Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard cider, said the widening legalisation of marijuana posed a risk to its sales.

“It is possible that legal marijuana usage could adversely impact the demand for the company’s products,” argued its regulatory filing in February. The Massachusetts-based brewer added: “We also believe that impacts the craft beer industry.”

In Massachusetts, the Beer Distributors’ PAC, an industry body, donated $25,000 this year to a campaign group fighting legalisation.

Read more at the Financial Times.