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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Weed+Grub at the High Times Cannabis Cup

Like the biggest farmers’ market in the world, the Cannabis Cup has something for everyone. Podcasters Mike Glazer and Mary Jane Gibson a.k.a. Weed+Grub took the trip to San Bernardino to check it out.

On a cool and breezy Saturday morning at the recent High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, Weed+Grub rolled up to the Will Call window: “Hi, we’re Mike and Mary Jane!” A smiling gal handed us each a bright purple all-access pass with a taco on it. An all-access Taco Necklace? Things were off to an excellent start.

Weed+Grub

Mike puffed on a delicious live resin vape cartridge (Strawberry Lemonade, mmm) while Mary Jane chose a mellow half-gram preroll to start out the day with. We wandered around to get the lay of the land, and, more importantly, get snacks. Food vendors were busily feeding hungry stoners. Mary Jane opted for chicken tenders and fries, while Mike went with the cost-beneficial option of eating most of Mary Jane’s fries.

Weed+Grub

As we strolled through the Cup fairgrounds, weed vendors were fluffing buds, shining trophies and spinning prize wheels for giveaways. And happy Cup attendees were pulling out their best nugs, sitting down at picnic tables to roll and share joints with fellow cannasseurs. It was a great vibe.

One nifty product that immediately caught our attention as we wandered through the weed market was the Qubus. The brainchild of friends who met as engineering students, Qubus is a heavy-duty grinder, and an amazing statement piece. The innovative design includes a removable basket, a magnet-lock system and layers that you can mix and match for a custom color combo. This thing will look good on your coffee table.

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ART. FUNCTION. QUALITY.

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We dropped by the Team Elite Genetics booth to sniff jars of frosty flower and admire their collection of shining Cannabis Cups—which they added to the very next day at the awards show, taking home another bunch of wins for finest flower and best concentrates. Hell yes Elite—congratulations! We wanna come hang out with you guys! DM us anytime.

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Congrats to all of the winners of the High Times #CannabisCup SoCal! 🏆 If you haven’t seen them scroll check out our feed. The competition was fierce and there were so many amazing entries. Respect to all of the competitors. 👊 #hightimes #cupwinner

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It wouldn’t be a top cannabis event without one of the top dogs in the game representing: Moxie. We tried the new Dart pen, with its proprietary pod. Weed tech is tight. And Moxie has all the best flavors, from Strawberry Limeade to Blood Orange to Sour Apple Haze. Don’t they sound like the most delicious slurpees of all time?

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Dart Life. Pineapple Express 🍍 Liquid Moxie in the Gold Dart . . Where did Dart take you this weekend? . 📷 @liftedvisualz.jp #cannabisculture #cannabisdaily #cannabislifestyle #cannabissociety #girlswhosmoke #vapepen #vapenation #cannabisvape

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After visiting Super VIP and helping ourselves to CBD-infused cold brew from Buddha Beans Coffee, we got to judge a joint rolling competition along with High Times senior cultivation editor Danny Danko. Shout out to the winner Martin, who rolled the perfect fatty to beat out some pretty stiff competition—we smoked it with him as the clock hit 4:20!

Weed+Grub

Afterwards, Danko sat down with us to chat about what the Cannabis Cup means to him. He recalled his perfect smoking moment, when he sat down in a coffeeshop to smoke his first legal joint back in the ‘90s, before cannabis was legal anywhere in the US:

“I had like a real kind of genuine epiphany… I was sitting in a coffeeshop. I had just bought some weed, and it was morning. And I looked out the window and people are going by on their bicycles, and I looked across at the other tables and people were from all different countries, and there was a girl rolling her own spliff and reading the paper with a cup of coffee, and it all just felt so civilized and normal and special. And all these emotions flooded over me, and I genuinely had the feeling of, this is how it can be back home.”

“I love cannabis so much, and I just knew how much was wrong with the way we were treating it here [in the USA] and in so many other places. And then to be, to be in a place like [Amsterdam] and feel that way, and just know that it’s possible. It’s truly an honor to have been to any small part of that change, you know? And it still needs to keep going—a long way.”

Weed+Grub

Gave us chills, for real. Danko’s passion for the plant, awesome weed knowledge and his great sense of humor make him the most fun hang ever. After wiping our misty eyes, we headed over to the main stage with Danko, where we jumped up and down with Girl Talk in celebration of life, the leaf, and everything good.

We’re grateful to know so many wonderful people in the weed world, and we love doing what we do best—smoking, snacking, and cracking up. It was a fantastic weekend, and we look forward to many more. Thanks High Times!

Follow Weed+Grub for more of Mike and Mary Jane’s adventures in smoking, snacking and podcasting.

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Los Angeles Cannabis Businesses Urge Officials to Crack Down on Illicit Market

There is an ongoing battle in Los Angeles over the proliferation of illegal cannabis dispensaries, which many in the legal business community say is cutting sharply into their profits. Since illegal dispensaries don’t have to live up to the same guidelines and tax rates as regulated cannabis shops, they are able to provide marijuana to the consumer for a more affordable price. With the state’s marijuana revenue numbers clocking in much lower than had been anticipated, concerns are running high over the issue.

On Monday, cannabis entrepreneur group Southern California Coalition sent a letter to the city asking officials to get nastier with the illegal dispensaries. The communique counseled LA agencies to ramp up its raids on illegal dispensaries, and suggested that fining employees to discourage them from returning to their jobs could help to do the trick.

The letter also posited that if authorities seized cash and cannabis products on site at the businesses in question, it could prevent them from re-opening quickly. Other measures suggested included employing tax liens, and enlisting building inspectors to accompany officials on raids in order to close down any structurally unsound illegal dispensaries.

Should the city fail to take further action on the matter, the coalition says results could be disastrous for legal operators, who “cannot compete with illicit operators,” according to the letter.

One reason that the legal businesses are hurting in competition with the unlicensed shops are the taxes that the state government levies on cannabis. Policy makers have begun to respond to the industry’s concerns that such levies are too high. In January, a bill was introduced in the state assembly that would lower the excise tax from 11 to 15 percent.

One technique that the city has tried to combat illegal dispensaries has involved focusing on the fact that they are not beholden to the same strict testing processes as the rest of the industry. In April, a city attorney announced plans to sue the dispensary Kush Club 20. The lawsuit suggests that the business was selling cannabis good that had been found to be contaminated by paclobutrazol, a chemical used in the growing process to combat pests and regulate growth. The substance is not allowed for use with cannabis by California law.

The suit is demanding $20,000 a day from the business for every day that it operated without a license. Given the fact Kush Club 20 had been doing so for over a year at the time of the lawsuit’s announcement, that amounts to a considerable sum of money — certainly enough to give pause to other illegal dispensaries in the area. A TV news investigation found earlier this year that some 30 percent of unlicensed Los Angeles cannabis businesses were selling contaminated product.  

Concern over the operation of unlicensed dispensaries is understandable, but it is certainly worth noting that were it not for the efforts of “illegal” cannabis stores in California, we might be in a much different place when it comes to the worldwide marijuana legalization movement. Some regulation guidelines have even had the effect of shutting down the same kind of compassionate care organizations that pioneered easy and safe cannabis access for deserving patients.

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New Study Brings Skepticism to Idea That Legal Marijuana Reduces Opioid Deaths

In recent years, health professionals and policymakers have become increasingly interested in medical cannabis’s potential to reduce opioid use and prevent overdose deaths. Several states have already added opioid replacement provisions to their medical marijuana programs or approved opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition. At the same time, studies and surveys have seemed to suggest that states with legalized medical marijuana were seeing fewer opioid-related overdose deaths. But a new study, published yesterday, is complicating our understanding of whether legalization could be a potential solution to the opioid epidemic.

New Data Suggests Legal Weed isn’t Winning the Fight Against Opioids

In 2014, researchers found that states with legal medical cannabis access showed a trend of declining opioid overdose mortality rates over a period of about 10 years from 1999 to 2010. In medical marijuana states, patients were filling fewer opioid prescriptions. And fewer people were dying from opioid-related overdose deaths.

The study kicked off of wave of policy shifts approving medical cannabis as a treatment for opioid use disorder. More studies came out that seemed to corroborate the 2014 paper, showing how legal marijuana of any kind seemed to reduce opioid-related harm.

But a new study, published yesterday in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, says those gains are disappearing. The paper, titled “Association between medical cannabis laws and opioid overdose mortality has reversed over time,” points out a dramatic swing in the association between medical marijuana legalization and opioid overdose deaths.

Where once legal medical marijuana states had a 21 percent lower rate of opioid deaths than states without medical marijuana, those same states now have a 23 percent higher rate of opioid deaths than prohibition states. In other words, cannabis is losing the battle against opioids.

So the negative association between opioid deaths and legalized medical marijuana observed between 1999 and 2010 didn’t last. And from 2010 to 2017, it actually reversed. “What we found was that association between enacting a medical cannabis law and the rate of deaths from opioid overdose actually reversed over time,” said the study’s lead author, Chelsea Shover, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University.

Research Into Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis Should Continue

So why isn’t legal medical marijuana having the same effect on opioid death rates as it once did? Was it ever the real cause behind declining overdose rates? Researchers don’t yet have all the answers. But they have some hypotheses. Shover says the decrease in opioid-related deaths in medical marijuana states may have something to do with their average wealth. Patients in Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington may simply have been able to afford better access to addiction treatment and medications.

Then, there’s the view that medical cannabis use is still relatively uncommon, and therefore unable to really make an impact on the opioid epidemic. “We find it unlikely that medical cannabis—used by about 2.5 percent of the US population—has exerted large conflicting effects on opioid mortality,” the study’s authors wrote. “A more plausible interpretation is that this association is spurious.”

But just because claims about cannabis’s potential to fight the opioid epidemic should be met with skepticism, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t research how it could. “Research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis should continue,” the study says.

Indeed, that research is already too promising not to continue pursuing. It may be hard to show how marijuana laws are impacting opioid mortality rates. But cannabis-based medicines and therapies have already shown promise as effective treatments for addiction. One recent study, for example, found that cannabidiol (CBD) helps reduce cravings and abstinence anxiety in people struggling to overcome opioid and heroin use disorders.

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