W. Virginia Community College Offers Free Tuition to Students Who Pass Drug Test

If West Virginia students are interested in participating in a new program that allows them to attend community colleges for free, they’ll have to make sure they haven’t smoked any marijuana recently.

It was announced on Thursday that THC will be on a list of banned substances for participants in the program, funding for which was approved unanimously by the state Senate in February via Senate Bill 284.

“The motivation for the bill is to lift the education-attainment level for all West Virginians and give them a pathway to a brighter future,” said legislation sponsor and state Senate president Mitch Carmichael at the time of the bill’s passage. “From a state perspective, it helps us say to the world that our workforce is drug-free, trained, educated, and ready to go to work.”

A consultant who is working on the program announced that applicants will also be tested for opiates, oxycodone, hydrocodone, cocaine, amphetamines, and other substances. If a student is able to provide proof that they are consuming a drug for a medical purpose, they will be exempted from tests on the substance.  

The program will start in the fall of this year. Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the drug test will have to be administered within the first 60 days of the semester, and students will be responsible for paying for their own drug test at an authorized facility, at a tentative fee of $34. Officials said students could find providers through the free tuition program’s website.

The board’s vice chairperson was unable to provide a reason for marijuana being included on the program’s list of banned substances. Development of the drug test plan did not include a meeting for public comment, and there was no opportunity for the board to vote on the drug test requirement.

“We tried to model after WorkForce West Virginia,” said Program consultant Kathy Butler said the program was modeled after WorkForce West Virginia, a state-run jobs program. “We need to make sure that we’re consistent because, a lot of times, we serve the same clientele, the same students, and the same population.”

In West Virginia, lawmakers passed legislation legalizing medical marijuana in 2017. The program has taken time to get off the ground, but is now considering contracts for the system’s banking and financial services.

There is current political resistance to regulating recreational use cannabis, though a bill was introduced by House Democrats in January that would legalize adult use. Many have expressed interest in cannabis legalization based on potential benefits to state revenue. Projected earnings from such an industry would not only wipe out the state’s deficit and result in a $183 million surplus.

This year, the state has seen controversy emerge over the decriminalization of marijuana. A US district judge had to get involved when citizens of the 1,400-person town of Salem got a “Sensible Marijuana Ordinance” put on their June ballot. City officials removed the issue from voting consideration, saying that the Secretary of State had implied that it was likely illegal for municipalities to legislate on such issues. But in April, Judge Thomas S. Kleeh granted a temporary injunction to get the issue back on Salem’s ballot.

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Canadians May Be Able To Purchase Edibles and Topicals By December

Cannabis edible and topical products will be available to Canadian consumers by the middle of December, according to media reports. Rules to regulate the products are expected to be released by the federal health agency Health Canada on Friday and would go into effect on October 17, one year after Canada legalized cannabis with the passage of Bill C-45. Initial regulations only included provisions that allowed the sale of cannabis flower and oils.

Once the new regulations for cannabis edibles and topicals go into effect in October, manufacturers would be given 60 days to implement them before products go on sale in December.

Sources speaking with CTV News on the condition of anonymity revealed that the regulations are expected to limit the amount of THC in edible products to 10 milligrams per package. Edibles would also be subject to strict requirements to lessen their appeal to children, including limitations on the packaging and the shape of products. THC capsules are also expected to be allowed by the new regulations, which would limit the potency to 10 milligrams of THC per capsule and 1,000 milligrams THC per package.

Cannabis products will not be permitted to contain tobacco, nicotine, or added caffeine. Alcoholic beverages infused with cannabis will also not be allowed.

Cannabis packaging is expected to have requirements including child-resistant features and plain labels that do not advertise dessert or confectionary flavors. The use of logos and celebrity endorsements is also expected to be restricted, leading many cannabis industry insiders to maintain that branding and marketing products could be challenging.

Greg Boone, the CEO of cannabis firm Dosecann, said in a press release that his company has been looking forward to the release of the final regulations.

“That will get us into the full production of these edibles or value-added products,” he said. “And the goal is to build inventory to be able to satisfy the market that we believe exists across the country for these types of products.

Proposed Regulations Criticized

When the draft regulations were released in December of last year for public scrutiny, many cannabis consumers and businesses were critical of the proposed rules. Jessika Villano, the owner of Buddha Barn dispensary in Vancouver, was opposed to rules stipulating that no more than 10 milligrams of THC are allowed per edible serving and that each serving must be sold separately in child-resistant packaging. With some medical marijuana patients taking doses of 500 or even 1,000 milligrams of THC daily, Villano fears that the cost and all of the packaging will become overwhelming.

“I feel that Health Canada is creating an environmental nightmare,” Villano said.

Andrew Grieve, the CEO of cannabis edibles manufacturer Zenabis Global Inc., said that his company had plans to produce multi-serving packages in an effort to reduce packaging.

“We’ve been working really hard to reduce our packaging overall,” Grieve said. “We’ve been making progress on that point. From a corporate social responsibility standpoint, we think it is very important to reduce packaging wherever possible.”

Yannick Craigwell of edibles company Treatsandtreats said that he fears that the over-regulation of cannabis products will enable the illicit market to continue to survive.

“If there’s a need, people are going to fill that need. If there’s a financial reward for filling that need, that’s the whole premise of the black market,” Craigwell said.

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Sensi Vapes Founder Tara Jane Forrest On Sustainability and Diversity

2017 was a tough year for Tara Jane Forrest. She’d suffered a terrible accident that literally broke her back, resulting in a complete separation of the L4, L5 and S1 vertebrae in her lower back that also caused her to lose all feeling in her left leg. The only option on the table was major surgery, and with it the promise of painkillers.

“I had never undergone never had any major surgery of this nature before and was very scared of what I knew about pain management and the potential addiction to opioids,” begins Forrest. “Since I was already familiar with the medicinal use of cannabis I decided to use hemp derived CBD for pain management. It was the only legal option available to me in Georgia: 100% Hemp Derived CBD with 0% THC.”

Lo and behold, Forrest recovered from the procedure without having to rely on opioids, a fact which many could argue is a miracle in and of itself. She’d taken something else from the surgery, too, which was a swift kick of inspiration that would eventually form her company Sensi Luxury Vapes.

Courtesy of Sensi Vapes and Tara Jane Forrest

“During recovery, I purchased approximately five vaporizers from different companies due to the fact that each one either stopped working or was not working consistently,” continues Forrest. “I was in tremendous pain on the days that my vaporizer was not working, and it was at that time that the idea of Sensi Luxury Vapes was formed. I started to think of features that I would want a vape pen to have and how I could improve my own vape experience.”

This little nugget of inspiration inspired Forrest to dig in deep to the vape market. Her search—conducted over sixteen months with six months of intense product testing—yielded some interesting results. Many vape pen reviews were littered with negative comments about models that would fail in a variety of ways, for instance. From burnt out coils to acrid-tasting smoke, intermittent battery lives and beyond, it seemed as though consistency was key to Forrest’s vision.

“Our goal for Sensi Luxury Vapes was to bring a luxury vape pen to the market that was safe and reliable,” she adds. “We also wanted a strong customer centric team to ensure no issue went unresolved which seems to have been a common customer complaint with other vape companies.”

Born to Jamaican parents who relocated back to Kingston at an early age, Forrest’s journey as a businesswoman began long before her work with cannabis. She studied at Campion College in Kingston before relocating to Atlanta, GA to study Actuarial Science at Georgia State University. Forrest remained in Atlanta after completing her studies to begin a career as an actuary in the insurance industry.

The study of financial risk would prove to be an invaluable tool for Forrest. She funded Sensi from the ground up, a nearly unheard of feat especially as it pertains to women in the industry.

“As a female entrepreneur, embarking and executing my own business plan was scary to be honest,” confides Forrest. “Building a brand is not an overnight success.”

“The banking restrictions in the US as they pertain to cannabis related businesses makes obtaining funding through traditional means impossible,” explains Forrest. “Accessible investment capital is crucial in order to expand and bring diversity to this industry. I strongly believe that companies in the cannabis industry should be more inclusive in their marketing strategies to create more opportunities for women and people of color.”

Forrest understood all of the risks involved in starting a business. She knew, for instance, that Sensi may not turn a profit in the first three or even five years, but kept chasing her dream all the same. It didn’t stop her from turning to everyone she knew in an effort to crowdfund from the ground up.

“Securing loans from financial institutions, friends or family creates an external pressure which may cause you to launch prematurely in order to create a cash flow to pay those loans,” continues Forrest. “If possible, seek loans from friends and family first. It is always best to work within your own comfort zone and not to extend yourself financially if it puts your financial stability at risk.”

Forrest was successfully able to self-fund Sensi, and decided to make Sensi even better by enlisting the aid of an all-female team.

“I believe women have a silent struggle of always needing to prove our worth,” says Forrest. “My team constantly supports and motivates each other to be the best version of ourselves. Our communication is more open with fearless feedback. By not creating a hierarchy in the organization, everyone feels comfortable suggesting ideas to resolve issues. Everyone feels included and contributes to our success, and our customers benefit.”

The powerful all-female team is a rare unicorn in an industry traditionally dominated by white men. It’s a unicorn made even more powerful thanks to the fact that Sensi is devoted to sustainability. Their luxury vape pens come with a refillable tank, allowing users to customize their vape pens to their heart’s content.

Courtesy of Sensi Vapes and Tara Jane Forrest

Sensi’s also currently developing a reusable alternative pod in response to the wasteful Juul pods sweeping the market right now. “Very few companies are investing in product development for new vape technology for customers/consumers,” says Forrest. “The industry as a whole needs to be more sustainable from seed to sale.” She’s also developing a new line of ceramic tanks that are 510 thread compatible and use medical grade glass that’s designed to be programmable for microdosing.

“We want to see more options coming to market that support medicinal dosing and innovation that enhances the user experience whether by function or design,” adds Forrest.

Whether it’s creating products that are light years ahead of the market or by achieving success in a traditionally male dominated industry, Forrest has made it clear that passion is her guiding force. She’s a devout ally to many non-profits and spends her time volunteering at places like Chastain Horse Park with her favorite four legged friends. Forrest also donates a portion of Sensi’s funds towards a variety of nonprofit organizations. “It’s rewarding to give back to the community,” says Forrest proudly.

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Researchers Find Evidence of Ancient Cannabis Use in China

Researchers conducting an archaeological study of tombs in western China have found the earliest evidence of cannabis smoking so far discovered, according to a report on their work published on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. Analysis of braziers in the tombs revealed that cannabis plants with high levels of psychoactive compounds were being burned during ancient mortuary ceremonies.

The evidence suggests that cannabis was smoked as a part of religious or ritual ceremonies at least as early as 2,500 years ago. Other evidence has shown that cannabis was cultivated for fiber and grain in East Asia from 4,000 B.C. or earlier.

“There has been a long-standing debate over the origins of cannabis smoking, there are many speculative claims of ancient use,” Robert Stengle, a researcher from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and one of the study’s authors, told Newsweek. “However, this study provides the earliest unambiguous evidence for both elevated chemical production in the plant and also for the burning of the plant as a drug.”

Origins of Drug Use Difficult to Pinpoint

Analyzing the residue discovered in the braziers, researchers learned that cannabis with relatively high levels of THC had been burned in the ritual burners. Yimin Ying of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who is another author of the study, said that written records of ancient cannabis use are very limited.

“One of the long-standing research debates in Central Asian archaeology has been the origins of drug use, especially centering around ephedra and cannabis,” Yang said. “We were interested in knowing if these crops were popular in the Bronze and Early Iron Ages in western China. However, archaeologists and archaeobotanists have only found fragmentary evidence for these psychoactive plants and it is hard to judge how ancient people consumed them.”

Nicole Boivin, another author of the study from the Max Planck Institute, added that physical traces of the early use of psychoactive substances is also difficult to find.

“This kind of evidence is rare due to there being few opportunities for long-term preservation of the remains of activities involving drug use—which is very ephemeral, and doesn’t necessarily leave a lot in the way of physical evidence,” she said. “Furthermore, due to issues of preservation, finding such a nice clear signal is pretty unusual.”

Scientists Find ‘Needle in a Haystack’

Boivin said the discoveries made by the team were quite unexpected.

“I would say we were surprised [by the results] because finding evidence for ancient drug use is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack,” she said.

“The findings support the idea that cannabis plants were first used for their psychoactive compounds in the mountainous regions of eastern Central Asia, thereafter spreading to other regions of the world,” Boivin added.

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California Court Rules Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana Legal in Prison

We already know that inordinate amounts of people are in jail for small-time marijuana possession across the country — even in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, but are behind the times when it comes to the expungement of past criminal records.

Compounding this issue is the prisoners who are caught with cannabis when they are already in jail, an offense that can end up adding years to their sentence and hence, costing taxpayers a whole lot of money to keep non-violent offenders locked up.

California recently took a step in the right direction when it comes to guaranteeing incarcerated people’s rights in the middle of the cannabis legalization movement. Though it remains illegal to consume marijuana in prisons, the state’s 3rd District Court of Appeals decided that less than an ounce of marijuana was OK for imprisoned people to have in their possession — the same amount that all Californians are authorized to carry by law by 2016’s Proposition 64.

The case was brought to court when marijuana was found in the cells of five Sacramento County inmates. The state of California argued that allowing incarcerated individuals to possess cannabis would cause issues in maintaining control in the prison facilities.

A three-judge panel ruled to override the state’s concerns. Assistant public defender David Lynch said, “this ruling will prevent inmates from having years added to their sentences for simple possession, reducing overcrowding and saving $50,000 to 75,000 a year in unnecessary costs.”

“The voters made quite clear their intention to avoid spending state and county funds prosecuting possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, and quite clear that they did not want to see adults suffer criminal convictions for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana,” wrote Sacramento County assistant public defender Leonard Tauman in an email to a local ABC news affiliate.

However, prison authorities will still be able to penalize marijuana possession as a rules violation, and impose punishments of extra jail time or by taking away an incarcerated individuals’ privileges .

The role cannabis should play in prison is a global matter of interest. In March, a UK doctor spoke out about the importance of supplying cannabis to incarcerated individuals in the wake of a spate of deaths by ingestion of synthetic marijuana products like Spice. Synthetic marijuana is also an issue in United States jails. In Louisiana, a guard was discovered smuggling the stuff in sandwich and potato chip bags in the hope of distributing it to the incarcerated people of Richwood Correctional Center.

There has been ample debate over the issue of whether people in prison or jail should be able to consume marijuana, especially in cases of a medical need or religious conviction. On the front lines of this debate has been the Rastafarian community — last year, a South Carolina inmate sued the Department of Corrections over various violations of his Rasta faith, including the shaving off of his dreadlocks and the ban on smoking marijuana behind bars.

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Clearing Up the Haze Surrounding Cannabis Product Liability Risks

When a thriving cultivator purchased additional cannabis from a wholesale grower to meet the 5,000 pounds he was short, he was left holding the bag. A customer complained of a strong sulfur taste, and soon it was discovered that the wholesaler had applied the wrong pesticide concentration, rendering the cannabis unusable. The cultivator had to pull contaminated cannabis product from the shelves, a move that cost the company $3.5 million.

This story is not unique. When running short on product, cannabis businesses will often turn to other suppliers and partners to help them fulfill their orders. Unfortunately, improper vetting and a lack of understanding and compliance with state regulations and other requirements may lead to a loss of product integrity and costly product liabilities. Product liability can include more than just the cannabis itself, such as the equipment – vape cartridges, batteries, and lighters. This can quickly inflate the risk and, of course, the cost of a product liability claim. It is possible to transfer some of these cannabis risks to product liability insurance.

Top Three Product Liability Exposures Facing Cannabis Cultivators and Distributors

Three key areas of product liability exposure face cannabis business owners. It’s important to understand how each will affect your business.

  1. Product contamination.When cannabis is sold in an edible form, business owners could face claims of food poisoning or illness. If the product is smoked, there are exposures to contamination, product mislabeling or misrepresentation, and possible health hazard claims related to long-term exposure to potential contaminants.
  2. First party claims. Claims made in the event of an accident, injury or loss, whether caused by the business owner or someone else, will create another set of exposures, including manufacturing defects, failure to warn users on potential product usage hazards, improper labeling, or any product-related defect such as mold or odor.
  3. Third party claims. Cannabis business owners could be liable for claims stemming from the use of their cannabis product that result in a DUI, property damage, loss of wages, medical expenses and bodily injury.

It is possible to transfer some of these cannabis risks to product liability insurance. While there are multiple lines of product liability insurance, you’ll want to make sure you choose one designed specifically for the cannabis industry. These policies may provide coverage for the following exposures:

  • Product contamination
  • Bodily injury damages
  • Fines and penalties for non-compliance with state regulation
  • Bodily or property injury caused to others by product misuse, or by a third party
  • Manufacturing or product-related defects

While product liability insurance covers a number of cannabis risks, it doesn’t cover them all. Cannabis operations require a variety of coverage – property, crime, general liability, worker’s compensationand crop insurance. Insurance carriers will differ in definitions, policy exclusions and coverage language for each policy.

Because designated cannabis product liability and business operations coverage is fairly new and the marketplace features a wide range of options, make sure to work with a broker who understands the fine print of your policies, and your unique needs. The right broker can provide advice and loss control to help you reduce product liability exposures, make product and risk management recommendations that best mitigate your exposures to prevent loss, and ensure the proper coverage to address potential claims.

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Colorado Cannabis Tax Revenues Top $1 Billion

Tax revenues from Colorado’s cannabis industry have topped $1 billion since legalization, according to a new report released on Wednesday by Denver cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg. The report details and analyzes fees and taxes collected by the Colorado Department of Revenue since the beginning of legal sales of cannabis for adult use on January 1, 2014. Colorado voters legalized possession and sales of recreational marijuana with the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012.

Taxes and fees collected by the Department of Revenue totaled $1.02 billion at the end of April, according to data from the agency. The figure “does not include hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cannabis related taxes and fees collected by local governments,” the report notes.

Since 2014, more than $6.56 billion in regulated cannabis sales have taken place in the state, including more than $4.46 billion in sales for adult use and nearly $2.1 billion in medical marijuana purchases.

Cannabis Taxes Support Education

More than $283 million of cannabis tax revenue has been dedicated to K-12 education, with a majority of the funds used to build new schools. Amendment 64 directed the state legislature to enact a tax on wholesale transfers of cannabis for adult use and allocated the first $40 million collected each year to a program to fund school construction known as Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST).

In addition to supporting schools in Colorado, marijuana tax revenues have been used to fund cannabis research, substance abuse treatment and prevention efforts, affordable housing, mental health services, and other public health programs.

Funds are also used to cover the costs of regulating the industry, which accounts for a small fraction of cannabis tax revenues. A portion of marijuana tax revenues collected by the state is also shared with local governments.

Pot Taxes Help But Aren’t ‘Fiscal Panacea’

Brian Vicente, a co-author of Amendment 64 and founding partner of Vicente Sederberg, said in a press release that while they cannot be relied upon to solve all of a state’s fiscal woes, cannabis industry taxes are being used to improve Colorado.

“We were never under the illusion that legalization would be a fiscal panacea, but we knew it would have a substantial and positive impact,” Vicente said. “Funds are being used on everything from building schools to hiring school health professionals and paying for bullying prevention programs.”

Mason Tvert co-directed the Amendment 64 campaign and now serves as vice president of communications at VS Strategies, the public affairs consulting affiliate of Vicente Sederberg. He said that the majority of states that still prohibit commercial cannabis sales can take a lesson from Colorado’s experience.

“Generating tax revenue is not the only reason or even the best reason to regulate cannabis,” said Tvert. “But when those revenues start adding up to more than $1 billion, as they have in Colorado, it’s a pretty attractive bonus. It’s crazy to think how much money states are flushing down the toilet by keeping marijuana in an illegal market.”

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Three Ounce Possession of Marijuana Decriminalized in Cincinnati

You will soon be able to walk the streets of Cincinnati, marijuana in hand. After careful debate, the city council passed an ordinance on Wednesday that will make possession of marijuana legal up to three ounces.  

Many council members saw the measure as a compromise, but the majority felt the issue was too important to get hung up on individual conditions. “If we don’t do something now, we’ll never do anything,” said council person Wendell Young.

System changes will take effect in 30 days.

Council member Greg Landsman also expressed a sense of urgency for getting a city ordinance decriminalizing small scale possession on the books. “It is well past time to decriminalize marijuana,” he said. “For far too long, we have put people away for something I think should be legal.”

“The distinct smell of compromise is in the air over the great pot debate of 2019,” said Cincinatti news channel WLWT5. It’s true that there was much debate over the plan on the council. In particular, questions regarding age limits on the decriminalization measures and quantity of marijuana that would be decriminalized were of interest to the policy makers. (They eventually opted out of an age restriction on marijuana possession.) Some lawmakers pushed for allowances for public use of cannabis, but those concerns were ultimately overridden.

Before the measure passed, vice mayor Chris Smitherman initially said in the event council members could not reach an agreement, he would spearhead an attempt to get a decriminalization measure on the ballot for November elections. This week, he wavered on that promise and said that the ballot measure would not likely be possible before the November 2020 elections.

Council member Tamaya Dennard was one of the “no” votes on the ordinance, and not because she doesn’t believe in the legalization of cannabis. Rather, Dennard was not on board for any plan that did not provide immediate expungement of past low level cannabis-related offenses.

That concern is well-founded, based on the vast racial discrepancies that were uncovered by a study conducted by the city’s law department. Between January 2004 and May 2019, 16,817 marijuana-related arrests were made. Of this number, 86.2 percent of those arrested were Black. According to the latest US Census, Black people make up only 42.85 percent of the city’s population.

“These are alarming numbers when we start talking about creating a permanent underclass, said Smitherman, referring to the difficulties that such offenses on an individual’s record can cause in terms of finding employment.

Ohio passed House Bill 523 in 2016, which legalized medical marijuana. But establishing the licensing process provided unexpected delays, and the first dispensaries did not start opening their doors until early 2019.

Recently, a committee run through the state medical board considered expanding the program by four new health conditions, eventually deciding to reject the inclusion of depression and insomnia as qualifying conditions and recommend the addition of anxiety and autism. Those recommendations will now be considered by the medical board.
In March, the range of products that could be legally available for purchase by medical marijuana users expanded past the previous restriction to flower to include edibles, oils, tinctures, and corporal creams.

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6 Brands Who Are Giving Back To The LGBTQ Community This Pride Month

It’s that time of year again. The month-long period where large companies, banks, and politicians start selling products and apparel decorated with rainbow Pride flags, glitter, and slogans like “Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not” and “Yasss”.

Corporations love Pride Month. But it may (or may not) surprise you to learn that the vast majority of companies and organizations who sell Pride merch during June don’t actually do anything to help the community whose imagery and slang they’re all too happy to appropriate. Furthermore, many of them aren’t too keen on showing any support to the LGBTQ community at all during the rest of the year.

Still, Pride-themed merchandise is tempting to buy. Especially when said merchandise will also get you lifted and feeling great. So, we’ve put together a list of brands who are giving back to the LGBTQ community this Pride Month:

Courtesy of Mr. Moxey’s Mints

Mr. Moxey’s Mints

Mr. Moxey’s Mints is celebrating the month with a limited edition 2:1 CBD: THC mint dubbed Proud Peppermint Pride Pastilles. If you’re not sold on that amazing alliteration alone, it gets better. This company has partnered with LGBTQ-leaning organizations in each state where they have a presence, and are donating one dollar from every tin of mints sold to those organizations.

In California, the donations will go to the San Francisco LGBT Center; in Oregon, they have partnered with Q Center; and in Washington, they will support the organization Lifelong, specifically their Chicken Soup Brigade.

View this post on Instagram

We’ve partnered with LGBTQ-identifying artist and entrepreneur, @lettershoppe to create a piece of art that honors inclusivity and celebrates love. For the month of June, the Limited Edition Pride Pack will include her poster and will raise funds to directly benefit the LGBTQ community through our partnership with @glaad. 🌈

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Sometimes you just need a good, old-fashioned joint that you don’t have to roll yourself. Enter Lowell. This premium cannabis company not only offers pre-rolls in a beautifully constructed pack; they’ve partnered with GLAAD for Pride Month to support the LGBTQ community.

When you buy Lowell’s limited-edition Pride Pack of joints stuffed with The Pride Sativa, part of the proceeds will be donated to GLAAD to further their mission to support LGBTQ people. Further, the pack itself comes with a poster designed by LGBT-identified artist Dina Rodriguez.

Courtesy of Fruit Slabs

Fruit Slabs

This new edible is coming out for Pride Month…but it will be available year-round in California. The company Fruit Slabs teamed up with popular drag queen, longtime cannabis advocate, and former contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race Laganja Estranja to create a line of infused fruit strips called Pride Passion.

“I have always wanted to curate a delicious, healthy edible to my #BUDS,” Laganja Estranja explained. “More over, I’ve always wanted to give back to that very community by celebrating them and their accomplishments.  That’s why it’s important for the cannabis industry to recognize the LGBTQ+ community that built their very foundation, especially here in California with Proposition 215, and not just during pride season but year round.”

Fruit Slabs’ Pride Passion line comes in five delicious flavors and are vegan, gluten-free, and sans added sugar. A portion of the proceeds will go to LGBTQ safe houses in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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Hey hey, Velvet Swing lovers! We have something awesome for you. Now, the same amazing Velvet Swing formula that makes ladies have longer and stronger orgasms is available in single-serving packets. Small, discreet, and easy-to-carry to your next hot date! In Washington, check out @canna4lifellc, @buddys_goodiesandglass and @top_shelf_cannabis_bellingham – more stores to come soon!

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Velvet Swing

Who doesn’t love a good lubricant? And if there’s anything better than lube, it would have to be lube that’s infused with cannabis. Velvet Swing sells the world’s first water-soluble infused lubricant that boasts a perfect combination of THC, CBD, and terpenes. Best of all, this lube is safe to use with all sex toys.

Throughout the year, Velvet Swing sponsors the inclusive and comprehensive sex education organization Pan Eros, and have sponsored LGBTQ-leaning burlesque shows, including San Francisco’s “The Black Manifest” and the Washington-based “Getting Wild.” This month, they have also formed a partnership with the Seattle chain of cannabis dispensaries, Uncle Ike’s, to support local Pride events and activities.

Courtesy of Kiva Confections

Kiva Confections

Another edibles company on our list of brands who are giving back to the LGBTQ community this Pride Month is Kiva Confections. Best known for their infused chocolate, Kiva also offers gummies and mints—including their limited edition Tropical Punch Camino Gummies.

Kiva partnered with drag queens Peaches Christ, Heklina, and Laganja Estranja to create a line of gummies specifically for Pride—and for input on where to donate some of the proceeds. The artists chose The Harvey Milk Center for the Arts, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the GLBT Historical Society.

Courtesy of goodbrands

goodbrands with Blüm

Last, but definitely not least, we have goodbrands. For Pride Month, they joined forces with the dispensary Blüm to produce a #PassForPride and #BlümPROUDLY video series with an all-LGBTQ cast and team of photographers.

Additionally, both Blüm and goodbrands work throughout the year to promote diversity in their hiring practices. goodbrands is also launching an employee resource group initiative, which will uplift their LGBTQ-identifying employees, as well as employees of color, and employees who are parents. goodbrands is also involved in a few Pride events and activities in San Francisco and San Diego.

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European Cannabis Week Kicks Off First Year In London

Hold your hats and book your seats! The Limeys, no matter what they are doing on Brexit, are getting organized on the cannabis front. A unique coalition of “home-grown” as well as cross-European, American and Canadian industry insiders are already making travel plans for London during the last week of June.

Unlike Trump’s recent visit to the British capital, however, they are likely to meet nothing but enthusiasm if not a growing understanding in the British populace at large that the Great Green Cannabiz Has FINALLY Landed.

Now the question is getting the entire industry mainstreamed (just on the medical side).

On the CBD “recreational” discussion, the entire enchilada is still being formed and reformed. A high-end CBD “pop up” shop opened in a ritzy part of London in January while a more crunchy CBD restaurant in the seaside town of Brighton was shuttered right as it planned to open. Just another innocent victim in all the fuss about novel food still working its way through the entire British conversation (as it is elsewhere in Europe, including most recently Germany and Italy), certainly, but hopefully one of the last.

However, for that very reason, enthusiasm is already high as organizers continue to add events even three weeks out.

What Is On The Agenda?

Check the event website for details and scheduling. There is also a lot that is not on the official website, but has clearly been organized around it. That includes a patient advocacy and policy formation gathering on Thursday being organized by the United Patients Alliance and other events not on the “official” ECW list (or website) but clearly all with the goal of networking, interacting and gaining ground (such as the internationally organizing Cannabis Tech Society).

The first two days are reserved (at least during the day) for Cannabis Europa – the “other” major European cannabis business conference that got its start in 2018 in London. Earlier this year, the event was also held to a standing room only audience in France. Organized by two of the leading cannabis consultancies in the UK who are making a clear play towards both North America and Europe- Prohibition Partners, and Hanway Associates, the event is primed to bring together those in the international industry curious about changing times and opening opportunities not only in the UK but across Europe.

The rest of the week, events are spread out across the city (and are already selling out). Of note on Wednesday is an investors conference as well as an introduction to the growing ranks of British doctors (one hopes for the future of nascent doctor training programs everywhere across Europe, without borders), even if nascent at the moment, who are joining the medical cannabis crusade.

Thursday’s planned events also include a focus on connecting women in the industry to investors – particularly of the medical kind – and MedPayRx’s third pilot to market workshop (Unveiling The Digital Prescription). It will also include a ground-breaking seminar about cannabis certification for doctors at King’s College (long known for its critical studies about the supposed connection between cannabis and a host of nasty mental illnesses and conditions starting with schizophrenia).

There is also a round of private parties, events, industry soirees and more that are invite only. However, as with most cannabis industry events, showing up and tagging along is one of the best ways to network and meet people.

It will be a busy week, for sure.The entire cannabis debate is absolutely hitting in this space in the UK in a way that it has not in other places

Why Is This Significant?

The British are finally kicking off their version of “the industry.” That said, problems abound, including of the kind seen in places like Germany, with the added whiff of further disruptions thanks to a still-pending Brexit. On the healthcare discussion at least, it is hard to find a fan of the NHS in the ranks of average cannabis patients (who are still struggling to get their numbers over 100 for the entire country six months after Schedule II prescriptions were authorized). However, it is also equally hard to find anyone in the ranks of the chronically ill at least, who would welcome a more U.S. style approach to healthcare provision – even if they can avail themselves of private healthcare coverage. That is just 10% of the population.

The entire cannabis debate is absolutely hitting in this space in the UK in a way that it has not in other places (including Germany). This is, beyond Brexit discussions, in part a testament to the creakiness of the British system, although the German one at present also leaves a lot to be desired.

Nobody wants an “American” system. And the Canadians in the room are also dealing with the problem that so far, Canadian public health insurance does not cover medical cannabis either.

Like it or not, this is also a theme that colors cannabis politics in Europe as much as the industry does not know how to channel and harness it. The Green Vest movement is certainly alive and well in the UK. Nor should it be underestimated. And that resentment at the moment also is hitting some of the biggest industry players who are the only ones allowed market entry where it counts (the regulated ones including medical).

On the CBD front, despite assurances by activists as late as last year, and certainly overflowing enthusiasm about the potential of this market, novel food still applies.

Where the conversation will certainly get interesting is the ability to distribute through online pharmacies (unlike in Germany where this is still verboten– and for all drugs, not just cannabis). But even here, don’t look for the UK to become just another Amazon outlet. New rules, including GDPR, still affect the UK and will continue to do so no matter what happens in the fall. This has to do with what is called “trusted nation” status that affects regulatory issues including pharmaceuticals but also financials (which is why the idea of the UK sailing off entirely on its own or as an American subordinate state is also ludicrous).

Not to mention of course, that supply and demand has yet to be effectively linked anywhere in Europe.

Cannatech, beyond distribution platforms, will also become more of a focus in climate change conscious Europe.

And of course, with a focus in London, there will be a much greater opportunity for both the concentration of specialty equity and the industry itself (in English) that will impact issues across the continent.

In a nutshell, in other words, the week-long events in London (held in conjunction with an equally interesting gathering now coalescing in Berlin just the weekend before) is proof positive that not only is the European cannabis industry in the middle of another seismic year, but the British and German movements are connecting, coordinating, cooperating, and driving change both at home and elsewhere across the region.

Disclaimer: European Cannabis Holdings and Prohibition Partners are sponsors of MedPayRx and a business relationship exists between them.

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