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A look at cannabis legislation in Countries around the World

Ever since Canada became the first major country to legalize marijuana for adults a year ago, other nations have been paying attention.

The small South American nation of Uruguay was the first to legalize marijuana for adults. New Zealand, Luxembourg and Mexico are among those that have looked to Canada for guidance or lessons, while Russia has chastised it for its “barefaced” flouting of international anti-drug treaties.

Here’s a look at how Canada’s experiment is playing out internationally and where the next attempts at legalization are coming:

United States

States continue to flout federal prohibition and legalize marijuana within their borders, arguing that the nation’s war on pot has drained law enforcement resources, had a disparate impact on minorities and failed to curb the drug’s popularity.

Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., have now legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use, with Michigan and Illinois the most recent of 11 states to OK recreational sales.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives, with significant bipartisan support, passed a bill that would grant legal marijuana businesses access to banking while sheltering financial institutions from prosecution for handling marijuana-linked money. That would clear up a serious headache for the industry. Many pot businesses have had to conduct sales and pay vendors or taxes in cash, making them robbery targets and also making it harder to detect theft, tax evasion and money laundering.

Advocates say the vote was a sign the U.S., long the world’s leading proponent of the drug war, is ready for comprehensive cannabis reform.

Luxembourg

The small nation of about 615,000 people has decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug, and since January it has allowed medical use. Now it is aiming to become the first country in Europe to legalize and regulate recreational sales to adults, a development that could lead to broader cannabis regulation in the European Union.

The government has announced that it intends to legalize sales, with Health Minister Etienne Schneider recently telling the Euronews television network that the country’s cannabis legislation will be “inspired by the Canadian model.” Officials estimate that it will take about two years before legal sales begin.

While Schneider said Luxembourg’s legalization won’t force the hand of other EU nations, he said he intended to speak with counterparts in Germany, France and Belgium, the countries that border Luxembourg, and encourage them to explore the possibility of regulating the drug. In the meantime, Schneider said, Luxembourg will respect their prohibitions by limiting sales to Luxembourg residents.

Mexico

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled last year that the government’s ban on the personal use of marijuana was unconstitutional, the culmination of a series of rulings against prohibition since 2015. That’s helped put Mexico on a path toward full legalization. Before he was even sworn in, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent emissaries to Canada to discuss its approach to cannabis.

Things are moving quickly now, with the ruling party’s Senate leader saying the chamber intends to vote on a new legalization measure by the end of this month, following dozens of forums in which politicians, advocates and voters have worked out what a regulated system might look like.

“The importance of Canada having regulated is that it broke the taboo on an international level in a way that Uruguay did not,” said Zara Snapp, a drug policy reform advocate in Mexico City. “For us, what it taught us is there is a path, and that path is possible without there being any apocalyptic sanctions from international bodies.”

That said, after severe drug-war violence, Mexico’s legalization is not likely to mirror Canada’s, where a few massive corporations have dominated production and more artisanal growers have largely been shut out. For example, lawmakers are considering giving greater licensing privileges to indigenous groups, she said.

“We need it to have a way bigger impact than just tax revenue or stock exchange values,” Snapp said. “The things that indicate success in other jurisdictions are not going to be the same indicators of success for us.”

New Zealand

New Zealand will hold a referendum next year on whether to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana — the first country to put legalization to a nationwide vote. Officials are still hammering out the exact language, but in a speech last month Justice Minister Andrew Little said the measure would include a minimum purchase and use age of 20; a ban on using the drug in public; limits on home growing, marketing and advertising; a public education program; and licensing requirements for the entire supply chain.

“The approach we are taking is that in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum, it will be necessary to have a regime that affords maximum control, so that the obvious risks can be minimized,” Little told a drug policy symposium last month.

Whether the vote will be binding is a matter of dispute. The three parties that make up New Zealand’s governing coalition have vowed to honor it, but legislation would be required to effect legalization, and the center-right party National has not made clear whether it will support the bill.

Advocates have expressed concern about social justice in New Zealand’s legalization efforts as well, suggesting that its model could strike a balance between Uruguay, where access to cannabis is tightly controlled at a small number of pharmacies, and the more commercial approach taken by some Canadian provinces and U.S. states.

Russia

Canada’s legalization hasn’t been uniformly well received. Russia’s representative to the international Commission on Narcotic Drugs lamented the “barefaced” and “blatant violation by Canada of its international obligations” under anti-drug treaties.

“There exists real danger that some other countries may follow the example set by Canada, which would lead to the erosion and even dismantling of the whole international legal foundation of our fight against narcotic drugs,” Mikhail Ulyanov said.

As recently as this month, Russia’s mission to the UN tweeted: ”#Legalization of narcotic drugs, including cannabis, for recreational purposes constitutes a grave violation of the international law.”

But Russia may have ulterior motives in criticizing Canada, given what many world leaders consider to be its own flouting of international law in annexing Crimea, among other issues.

“Russia has its reasons for trying to call out a country like Canada on its commitment to international rule of law,” said John Walsh, who monitors global drug policy with the advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America. “They delight in being able to say Canada is athwart its obligations. But I don’t think Russia’s bluster is going to keep other countries from moving forward.”

Cannabis drinkables are the new edibles: Where, when and how to get them

Why do consumers love drinkable cannabis? Let us count the ways. It's discreet, it requires no special equipment, it tastes good, and it's a familiar and safe delivery system. 

Weed-infused drinks make up one of the fastest-growing segments of the cannabis market. It's a sprawling category that includes tinctures to mix with cocktails; non-alcoholic alternatives to wine, beer, or champagne; wellness beverages that can lull you to sleep or take the place of aspirin or ibuprofen after a strenuous game of hoops or tennis; and sparkling sodas that are as appealing to millennials as they are to baby boomers who aren't comfortable lighting up.

Here are answers to some common questions about cannabis tonics.

Why Are There so Many Drinkables?

Bottoms up! Straddling the lines among intoxicating drinks, wellness shots, and liquid medicine, drinkable cannabis is taking off. According to BDS Analytics, which tracks cannabis trends, there were 88 beverage brands on the market in mid-2019; that's 19 more than during the same time period in 2018. In 2018, beverages made up 6% of the total edibles market in the United States. That percentage is rising steadily and BDS predicts that by 2022 canna-beverages, including THC and cannabidiol (CBD) products sold in dispensaries and non-THC drinks sold in supermarkets, drugstores, convenience stores, and the like could be a $1 billion market. 

A lot of familiar names are behind this boom. Mike Tyson has launched Dwiink, a line of CBD-enhanced water and fruit-flavored beverages whose name is a playful wink to his trademark lisp. Big booze distributors are investing heavily in weedy drinks: Heineken-owned Lagunitas offers Hi-Fi Hops, a pair of nonalcoholic, zero-calorie beverages that come in two dosages, 10 milligrams THC, or 5 milligrams each of THC and CBD per bottle. 

Constellation Brands, which owns Corona beer, Robert Mondavi wine, and Svedka vodka, is investing billions in Canopy Growth, a mega Canadian cannabis producer that's creating nonalcoholic cannabis-infused drinks. Molson Coors is partnering with Canada's Hydropothecary Corp. on a similar venture.

Meanwhile, the maker of Arizona Iced Tea has signed a licensing agreement with Dixie Brands to manufacture and distribute canna-drinks under the Arizona label.

Other companies are expanding into the drinks space, such as Weller, a manufacturer of functional snacks. The Boulder, Colorado, company in 2019 launched a line of CBD-infused sparkling water flavors it calls W+ and a CBD drink mix.  

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W+ is a line of fruit-flavored, BD-enriched sparkling water from Colorado-based Weller, a maker of functional snacks.

Why Did Cannabis Drinks Take so Long to Hit the Market?

Developing a beverage infused with CBD or THC is a lot more complicated than mixing gin with tonic. For one thing, cannabinoids are hydrophobic — meaning they repel water. Drop cannabinoids into water and they'll float to the surface rather than dispersing evenly.

It's taken cannabis chemists a lot of hit-or-miss experiments to overcome this hurdle. SōRSE, a Seattle-based beverage-tech company, is one of the innovators in the field, developing a method to convert cannabis oils into a water-soluble emulsion that has no cannabis taste or smell and that disperses uniformly throughout liquid. The technology is proprietary and Michael Flemmens, SōRSE's vice president of science, will say only that the company uses food-grade components that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as GRAS, or generally recognized as safe.

The company uses the ingredients to produce THC and CBD-infused products that include Happy Apple, a sparkling, cannabis-infused apple beverage; Utopia, fruit-flavored sparkling water with 10 to 100 milligrams of THC per 12-ounce bottle; and Vertus, an alcohol-free sparkling bubbly that's meant to be an alternative to sparkling wine or Champagne, and which comes in dosages of 50 or 100 milligrams of THC.

Will Drinkable Weed Trigger Paranoia?

Predictability is one of the advantages well-formulated THC-infused beverages have over edibles, said Niccolo Aieta, Ph.D., founder and Chief Technology Officer for Spherex, a Denver-based company that develops cannabis concentrates and whose products include Phyx, a sparkling water brand with microdoses of THC and CBD.

“Cannabis drinks are fast-acting, taking effect within minutes as opposed to several hours with edibles," he said. "That allows users to better control their experience and gives them an overall better experience.”  The Phyx website advises users that, on average, they'll feel the drink's effects in 10 minutes, with the buzz hanging around for about an hour. 

With 2.5 milligrams of CBD and 2.5 milligrams of THC, “Phyx is the equivalent of a nice glass of white wine,” Aieta said. “It's a slight elevation of your daily mood, good for unwinding, relaxing and socializing with friends. For people who are canna-curious, it's a great way to explore and experiment.” 

Flemmens strikes a similar note. “Our biggest seller is Happy Apple with 10 milligrams THC,” he said. “We suggest that inexperienced cannabis users try it on a Saturday night at home, not a Friday night at a party. Drink half the bottle, put it in the fridge and wait half an hour. If you like the experience, you have two choices. You can stay where you are or go for the rest of the bottle.”

The woman-owned and -operated Humboldt Apothecary takes an herbalist's approach to cannabis by formulating tinctures with medicinal herbs to work in concert with the full-spectrum cannabis. The blends of botanical ingredients with cannabinoids not only aid a more rapid onset, according to the company, but also help to achieve certain effects: a peppermint formula for relief of congestion, passionflower and lavender for sleeping, or gingko and rosemary for a brain boost. Humboldt Apothecary suggests using a couple of drops in a mocktail, much the way you might add bitters to a traditional cocktail. 

As for CBD drinks, Scott Van Rixel, CEO of Bhang, which makes a line that includes Wellness Beet Shots with 25 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD, thinks of these as wellness, not recreational, products.

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Humboldt Apothecary makes botanically infused tinctures using full-spectrum cannabis. Its Deep Sleep formula contains passionflower and lavender.

“They're making accessible the benefits of a plant that used to be a part of people's lives on a daily basis,” said Van Rixel, who noted those benefits include relaxation, better sleep, relief from irritability, or inflammation. Van Rixel suggested that consumers might want to think of CBD beverages the way they do energy drinks: Find the dose — a single shot in the morning or several throughout the day — that works best for them.

Where Can You Buy These Products?

That's complicated. Very complicated. Regulations are an ever-changing mess, with state and federal rules sometimes contradicting each other. The FDA published a statement that noted the agency is aware that products on the market are adding CBD to foods or labeling CBD as a dietary supplement. However, the agency advised that, “Under federal law, it is currently illegal to market CBD this way.”

Consumers can start with a product's website for “where to buy” info. Some drinks are being tested in one or two cannabis-friendly markets, such as Colorado or Washington, or in Canada, where cannabis is legal nationwide.  Dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal also are carrying an ever-expanding selection of beverages with THC and CBD. 

Many CBD drinks can be shipped to all 50 states. Thanks to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, some states allow beverages with hemp-derived CBD to be sold in groceries. For example,  Queen City Hemp CBD Seltzer, which was launched in 2017 and was the first CBD seltzer in the U.S., is sold at retailers in 26 states, including several conservative states such as Alabama, Texas, and Georgia. However, the sparkling beverage cannot be sold in cannabis-friendly California because of complex state regulations.

Queen City's founder, Nic Balzer, who's part of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, echoed the views of others in the canna-beverage biz when he said, “There are a lot of regulatory challenges and we're hopeful that the FDA will make a ruling soon that will clarify these laws.”

8 tips every home marijuana chef needs to know

Baking, cooking and mixing food and drink with cannabis extracts and concentrates is a fine art that can take a really long time to perfect. It’s science, after all.

With the right techniques, you can skate by even as a beginner. Use this list to make sure your knowledge is up to speed as a marijuana chef so you can avoid any crucial and potentially money-wasting mistakes.

Clean your cannabis

Some plants, especially outdoor plants, can be contaminated with dirt, bacteria and even bird poop. Avoid this first off by purchasing clean nuggets from a reliable source. Fix a bad situation by gently boiling the nuggets, since boiling water is not hot enough to mess with the cannabinoids that you’re targeting with any infusion.

Decarboxylate

The decarboxylation step converts the active ingredients into tissue-penetrating THC from THC-A in the raw plant. Skip this step and your edibles may hit you hours later in your liver, rather than in your mouth, stomach, esophagus, etc where they will work faster.

Strain with gloves

Do not press or strain with your bare hands. Not only is it unsanitary, you will get stoned. The sheer amount will definitely make you feel something. People say that’s not true, but it has happened to me a few times when breaking this essential rule. Plus, you can use a spatula to salvage the last drops of your brew from gloved fingers; you can’t do that with your bare hands, ew.

Use devices where possible

Devices can be helpful in that they do a lot of the tricky work for you. Temperature regulation, stirring and timing are all things you can screw up no matter how great of a chef you are. When I tried the Magical Butter, I realized that technology is about to run wild in the cannabis world.

Use a good saturation ratio

Try not to overpack any infusion with nugs; you need to have enough liquid to actually strain out. The less liquid you use, the harder it will be to recoup liquid filled with goodies. A good starter ratio is one g material per one oz. of medium, be it alcohol or glycerin.

Invest in a Sodastream

If you like mixing mocktails and cocktails with your creations, buying seltzer in cans and bottles is not only bad for the environment, it’s bad for your wallet. A Sodastream pays for itself in months and you will always have bubbles on hand.

Freezer is your friend

Save anything you don’t eat right away in the freezer, where its shelf life will be greatly increased. Even a bottle with a few drops of olive oil left can dress a salad when the time comes. Same goes for the brownie you smartly cut in half. Stash it in the freezer where it won’t start to go bad. Top it with ice cream another day!

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Save anything you don’t eat right away in the freezer, where its shelf life will be greatly increased / Photo: Roschetzky IstockPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Don’t go overboard with the heat

One reason you don’t see a lot of sautéed or deep-fried cannabis items is for the simple reason that direct heat like that in a pan or grill could burn off those party vibes and leave you with sleepy CBN. You can grill and fry things, but try to leave it to things that cook quickly, or add the cannabis after the fact.

Ovens are such a common application because of the steady and controlled heat. Staying under 350 F is the smart plan.

With these tips, you can now avoid most major ganja goofs. Now you can do your best while waiting to be able to purchase cannabis cooking aids in the store like we should have been able to get all along.

What can the end of alcohol prohibition teach cannabis entrepreneurs?

As the United States crawls slowly toward the end of the cannabis ban, the end of alcohol prohibition may provide a roadmap for entrepreneurs.

Nearly 100 years ago, Congress passed a law banning the sale and import of alcohol in the U.S. People who had been drinking all their lives didn't simply quit, as those pushing for the law had hoped. That led to a spike in organized crime, speakeasies and homemade liquor. Thirteen years later, Congress ended the failed experiment by repealing prohibition in 1933.

Cannabis and its byproducts have faced a much longer road. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a few states placed restrictions on the sale and use of cannabis products. After the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, cannabis became de facto illegal in the United States. Successive laws, such as mandatory sentencing requirements, reinforced that position.

Prohibition’s Clues For Cannabis

Americans’ relationship with marijuana has come a long way since the days of “reefer madness.” Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of Americans in late 2018 advocated for legalization, up from 16 percent in the 1990s and 32 percent in the 2000s. 

Several states now allow businesses to sell cannabis products legally. Federal legal reform could occur within the next few years, which means companies looking to get ahead of the cannabis craze need to know what to expect.

Still, as Oregon startups learned, cannabis products don’t sell themselves. The post-Prohibition 1930s showed that markets take time to adjust. Whether you’re already in the industry or plan on joining it, be sure to:

1. Prioritize Education

At the end of Prohibition, a generation of people who had been told alcohol was an illegal poison suddenly found themselves able to buy it at supermarkets. Some reacted recklessly, drinking too much and at inappropriate times, while others’ worries kept them from purchasing it at all.

Create a stable customer base by emphasizing education, even for non-psychoactive products. Hawke Media, a marketing agency that works with CBD brands, suggests appointing a chief education officer. This executive’s role should span marketing and product development, using content and packaging to describe the drug’s effects, how to consume it, when to take it and more.

Just as importantly, the chief education officer should ensure compliance with federal and state regulations that prohibit cannabis companies from making medical claims. Despite the fact that people use CBD and cannabis medicinally, there isn’t enough research available yet to sell them as solutions for particular conditions. Be cautious with your phrasings to stay on the right side of the law, especially as that law evolves. 

2. Skip Traditional Marketing Strategies

Even after Prohibition ended, most alcohol companies followed a semi-voluntary advertising ban until the 1990s. Long barred from advertising on television and radio, the internet gave alcohol companies a new form of media to explore. Shortly thereafter, Seagram opted to break the longstanding arrangement, and the rest of the industry followed along. 

Although a similar relaxing of restrictions may be coming for cannabis companies, entrepreneurs in the space shouldn’t count on traditional media. Because the drug is in a legal gray area, many digital and print platforms opt to avoid the controversy entirely. 

Bypass advertising bans by exploring alternative channels. Invest in tactics that promote positive word of mouth, such as influencer, email and social media marketing. Not only does getting your fans to do your marketing for you save money, but it means you don’t have to worry about where the line is with each media outlet. 

3. Welcome New Audiences

Young people may be the poster children for legalization, but Millennials aren’t the only ones interested in cannabis. Other market segments, including aging Boomers, are curious about whether cannabis derivatives like CBD can alleviate their aches and pains.

A recent Cision study that reviewed social media content about CBD suggested its audience may range from working professionals to cancer patients. More than 280,000 posts mentioned pain management, including joint pain, inflammation and chronic cancer-related pain. About 250,000 spoke to CBD’s effects on mental health issues like anxiety, depression and insomnia. 

By the end of Prohibition, campaigns against alcohol use had painted drinkers in a poor light. People who’d only been exposed to anti-alcohol content would not have believed safe, moderate drinking to be possible. Cannabis products face the same battle, so be ready to combat stigmas and embrace skeptics. 

Research, regulations and consumer sentiments move more quickly today than they did in the 1930s. When federal regulators finally give cannabis the green light, get ahead by applying these lessons from Prohibition's aftermath. 

5 reasons the marijuana black market won't go away

Cannabis has been anointed by Wall Street as one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet. After sales more than tripled worldwide between 2014 and 2018, Wall Street has forecast a roughly fivefold to 18-fold increase in global annual revenue by the time 2030 rolls around. This type of growth is impossible for Wall Street and investors to ignore, which is a big reason pot stocks have been all the rage.

But if you've been paying close attention to the industry, you're likely well aware that marijuana stocks have been nothing short of a buzzkill over the past six months and change. Many have seen their share price cut in half, or possibly worse, as a host of challenges have cropped up.

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Black market marijuana is here to stay

Worse yet, the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada, as well as in select U.S. states, hasn't stomped out black market cannabis, as initially expected. In California, the largest legal weed market in the world by annual sales, illicit marijuana sales are projected to outpace legal pot sales in 2019 by a significant margin: $8.7 billion to $3.1 billion. Meanwhile, analysts at Scotiabank estimated in early February that the black market would be responsible for 71% of total cannabis sales in Canada in 2019.

How are illicit producers bucking the push toward a legalized marijuana environment, you ask? The blame rests with the following five factors.

1. Supply issues in Canada

In our neighbor to the north, supply shortages have been a persistent problem since recreational weed sales began one year ago, with a trio of problems to blame.

First, regulatory agency Health Canada has been buried by cultivation, processing, and sales license applications. It entered the year with more than 800 applications on its desk, and despite implementing aggressive changes to the cultivation licensing process, it's going to take months, or perhaps more than a year, for the agency to work through its backlog. In the interim, cannabis growers are forced to wait to either grow or sell marijuana.

Secondly -- and I'll have more to say on this in a subsequent point -- certain Canadian provinces have been slow to give the green light to physical dispensary licenses. With few retail stores for consumers to shop at, illicit marijuana has filled the void.

And thirdly, pot growers have been slow to start and complete cultivation projects. All of these factors have allowed illicit weed producers to thrive.

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2. Tax issues in select U.S. states

In the United States, high tax rates have been effectively driving consumers to purchase black market marijuana.

California, for example, is taxing the daylights out of its pot buyers. In addition to passing along a state tax and local tax, buyers are paying a 15% excise tax, as well as a wholesale tax of $9.25 per ounce of dried cannabis flower, or $2.75 per ounce of cannabis leaves. Add this up, and it could work out to an aggregate tax rate of 45% on legal pot. And, mind you, this doesn't include additional costs such as the laboratory testing on weed grown in the Golden State, which is also being factored into the price that consumers pay.

Suffice it to say that legal cannabis simply can't complete with illicit producers on price. This is one of the reasons I firmly believe MedMen Enterprises (OTC:MMNFF) has struggled of late. To be fair, MedMen is losing a lot of money -- $178.4 million in net operating losses through nine months of fiscal 2019 -- and it recently terminated its acquisition of PharmaCann to seemingly conserve capital, so it has more than just one problem. But according to the company's third-quarter operating results and preliminary fourth-quarter review, MedMen's existing California locations delivered just 5% sequential growth in the third quarter and 10% sequential growth in the fourth quarter. That's not very impressive given how nascent the recreational industry is in the Golden State, and it speaks to the influence the black market has for the time being.

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3. A slow dispensary approval process throughout North America

Another clear problem that's allowed the black market to persist is the slow approval process for dispensary licenses in both Canada and select U.S. states.

In Canada, Quebec-based grower HEXO (NYSE:HEXO) announced during its fourth-quarter operational update that the slow pace of dispensary store openings has adversely impacted its sell-through rate. Despite recreational weed sales commencing last October, HEXO's home province of Quebec didn't even see its own dispensaries open seven days a week until May, primarily due to severe supply shortages. Furthermore, there are far too few locations open to provide adequate supply to Quebec's adult residents. Perhaps, then, it's no surprise that HEXO removed its 2020 sales guidance and reduced expectations for sequential fourth-quarter sales growth from "a doubling" to about 19%, at the midpoint. 

In the U.S., local regulators in California have been notoriously slow to approve dispensary store licenses. As of the midpoint of 2019, California had just one dispensary open per 61,000 adults aged 21 and over, which compares to one open dispensary per 5,567 adults aged 21 and over in neighbor state Oregon.

If the legal retail points aren't there, it becomes easy for consumers to turn to black market retailers.

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4. Jurisdiction problems in select U.S. states

Fourthly, the fact that legalized states have allowed municipalities to decide whether cannabis retail stores can open or not has also been a serious problem.

In Canada, the passage of the Cannabis Act made marijuana legal throughout the country, so this particular issue isn't of concern to our neighbor to the north. But in states like California and Colorado, statewide legalization looks more like Swiss cheese rather than a unified decision passed by voters.

In California, close to 80% of the 482 municipalities in the state have banned commercial marijuana activity. Although the Golden State's significantly higher population cities have given marijuana retail stores a green light, it's still left plenty of the state as sort of a no-go zone for pot. With such a large percentage of municipalities failing to OK licensed dispensaries, it's opened the door for the black market to flourish.

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5. Regulatory enforcement has been spotty

Last, but not least, regulatory enforcement designed to drive the black market out of business hasn't exactly been working. Based on data from the United Cannabis Business Association, via an audit that was recently turned into California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), 2,835 of the 3,757 listings of marijuana sellers in California on website WeedMaps were unlicensed. Although the state has promised to step up enforcement on illicit producers, it's yet to do so.

Enforcement has been a bit tougher in Canada, where CannTrust Holdings (NYSE:CTST) was recently taken to the woodshed. CannTrust announced in early July that it had been growing marijuana in five unlicensed grow rooms for a period of six months. This admission led regulatory agency Health Canada to suspend CannTrust's cultivation and sales licenses in mid-September. CannTrust also announced this past week that it would destroy roughly $58 million worth of plants and inventory from its illicit grow rooms in an effort to regain its licenses. With Health Canada making an example out of CannTrust, it's at least a step in the right direction toward tougher enforcement in our neighbor to the north.

Long story short, the black market isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

3 Reasons Aurora Cannabis Could Soar Before the End of 2019

Sure, Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) shares are down around 25% so far this year. And, yes, the stock is more than 60% off its highs set in the first quarter. But the growth prospects for the global cannabis industry still appear to be very good. Aurora remains a top candidate to prosper in this global market over the long run.

Being a marijuana sommelier is now a thing

CAMBRIDGE — At a candlelight dinner party on a Harvard Square patio one recent evening, each table setting included a plate, knife, fork — and a clear glass pipe and jars of marijuana.

After the two dozen well-dressed guests, who ranged from their early 20s to late 50s, seated themselves, John Maden stood and introduced himself as a cannabis “sommelier.” Over the next three hours, he directed the guests to smoke certain types of marijuana — with piney, citrusy, or earthy undertones — that he had picked to complement the five gourmet-chef-prepared courses.

UConn Launches Hemp Testing Lab in Response to Industry Need

In response to a rapidly expanding commercial hemp industry driven by interest in products with CBD oil, the University of Connecticut recently opened a laboratory where the plant can be tested for a variety of compounds.

As part of the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering’s Hemp Initiative, the UConn facility will support the efforts of growers, manufacturers, and researchers, and educate students interested in entering the field.

CBD is positively changing people’s perspectives on marijuana

A new survey found that older adults have made the most impressive changes towards marijuana, gravitating towards CBD as a natural way of treating different ailments.

While CBD may not have the same effect as THC, it’s certainly having a huge impact on the way people think about cannabis.

The study, which surveyed 2,000 Americans, was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of CBD brand HempFusion. A whopping 82% of participants said that their opinions on marijuana had evolved in recent years, while 46% said that CBD products, such as CBD oil, were primarily responsible for changing their perspectives on the drug.

The takeaway? America’s changing attitudes prove that many people are outgrowing the anti-drug propaganda that they learned in their youth and embracing medical and recreational marijuana.

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As a refresher, both CBD and THC are both derived from cannabis plants. But while THC is psychoactive (mind-altering), CBD is not, which is why many companies prefer to use it as their active ingredient in everything from beauty products to beverages.

“Once people realize two things, they’re much more open to trying CBD,” says Ashley Grace, chief marketing officer at HempFusion. “One – your own body makes cannabinoids as part of what’s called your Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Two – the US Department of Health patented the plant-based cannabinoids found in hemp as ‘antioxidants and neuroprotectants.’ Given this, clearly there might be some value in plant-based cannabinoids as a dietary supplement. And since they don’t get you high – why not give them a try?”

The survey, by way of New York Post, represents the opinions of a broad spectrum of different age groups, reflecting how varied CBD’s target audience is. Younger Americans, who’ve grown up with looser perspectives regarding marijuana laws (and the marijuana plant, in general), are mostly supportive of legal cannabis and are willing to try out new products. Older adults are the ones who have made the most impressive changes, gravitating towards the benefits of CBD as a natural way of treating different ailments.