Mexico Will Legalize The World’s Largest Legal Cannabis Market

Mexico Will Legalize The World’s Largest Legal Cannabis Market

The United States will soon be sandwiched between two nations with federally legalized marijuana. Just days before the Thanksgiving holiday, Mexico moved forward with legislation legalizing the cannabis plant for a variety of uses.

This comes on the heels of Canada’s historic legalization several years ago, which has created a viable international marketplace, channeling funds through the Canadian markets and effectively mobilizing the global cannabis industry.

When Canada legalized, the U.S. missed an opportunity to ensure that NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange would have a role in controlling the financial markets and dollars funneling into cannabis. This was expected since Jeff Sessions was in control of the Department of Justice (DOJ). We didn’t necessarily have a pro-cannabis Administration under Trump and certainly not under the leadership of Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, no friend to marijuana. Despite this, what are the implications for America doing business with partners directly to the north and south? 

At first, you might think none of this matters as the U.S. has legalized adult-use marijuana programs state-by-state. While this dispensary models still violates federal law, it has garnered bipartisan support from American politicians to prevent the DOJ from interfering with legal, state marijuana businesses. But the issue is much larger.

We’re talking about a global cannabis economy, with Mexico as the largest country in the world, by population, to legalize marijuana. Mexico will boast the biggest consumer market for cannabis products — with a population of more than 125 million people – representing an enormous leap forward for the developing international cannabis marketplace. 

A few steps remain to federally legalize marijuana in Mexico, but the bill has been approved by the Mexican Senate. The bill will establish a regulated cannabis market to allow those eighteen and older to purchase and possess up to 28 grams of marijuana. It also allows a personal cultivation provision for individuals to cultivate up to four plants for personal use. Some technical requirements still need to be hammered out before outright passage, including whether or not personal use cultivation needs to be tracked by the government. 

All this was supposed to happen earlier in 2020, as two years ago the Mexican Supreme Court struck down a marijuana ban as unconstitutional and required lawmakers to pass legalization measures

I travelled to Mexico this past February, pre-COVID, to consult with the Mexican Senate on the considerations for hemp and marijuana policy. The timeframe for moving the legislation forward was pushed back by the pandemic. With full passage of the bill now imminent, what can we expect? 

Mexico is not the first country with a narco or cartel trafficking history to pass cannabis legalization. It’s happened in numerous Latin America countries that made up part of the black market drug trade. This makes the cartel implications for federal marijuana legalization extraordinarily interesting.

Mexico seeks to regulate and legalize the plant, put strict controls on ownership and the supply chain in place, and to engage in domestic and, most importantly, international commerce surrounding marijuana. The dollars invested in this industry must comply with all forms of financial source verification —  theoretically mitigating the opportunity for organized crime to participate in this business.

Something that seems counterintuitive to Mexico’s legalization campaign is that hemp may or may not be included in its final version — as it may pose too much of a threat to existing Mexican industries. I’d argue that this is precisely why hemp is so important – its versatility and multitude of industrial uses go far beyond the singular focus of being cultivated for cannabinoid extraction.

Until late 2019, the Hoban Law Group had registered a number of cannabinoid CBD manufacturers’ products with COFEPRIS, Mexico’s FDA, when things were put on pause to finish up the legislation. If hemp is indeed excluded from the final bill, it would have ramifications for the cannabinoid and CBD industry in Mexico. 

Why would those other industries see industrial hemp as a threat? A significant sector of Mexico’s economy is the maquiladoras: local factories run by foreign companies, generally tapping into Mexico’s cheap labor and manufacturing goods for export. Some large maquiladoras have already begun utilizing hemp, including BMW and Levi’s, which have facilities in Mexico. Automotive and textile Industries are major players in the world, but industrial hemp would not displace them. It would complement the existing operations and provide farmers with a more versatile plant requiring less water.

Mexico has a well-documented history of cannabis usage, but will these consumers move their buying habits into a legal, commercial marketplace? The answer is likely yes — if there are medical marijuana distribution outlets selling products created through a regulated system. And will this system displace some of the large illicit cultivation operations across Mexico?

Mexico hopes to join other Latin American countries in becoming major forces in the global cannabis industry and to address the cultural and historically illicit implications of cartel and criminal activity surrounding the plant. How this will roll out and its effectiveness remains to be seen. 

Pair the skill set of Mexico’s farmers and agricultural industry with the country’s manufacturing capabilities and an international cannabis marketplace and the pieces could fall into a very favorable place for the nation’s economy and citizenry. 

For the now-sandwiched U.S., this will have major implications for American drug policy and cannabis reform moving forward — while perhaps generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the participants. Perhaps this will give U.S. policy makers the push they need to approve federal cannabis legalization, especially in the midst of a pandemic-induced, global economic downturn.

By Robert Hoban. This story first appeared at Forbes.com

Americans Across Party Lines, Regions Embrace Marijuana

Americans Across Party Lines, Regions Embrace Marijuana

Bill Stocker could be considered the archetype of a conservative voter: He’s a retired Marine and former police officer who voted for President Donald Trump. But he’s also among the majority of South Dakota voters who broadly legalized marijuana this month. 

Stocker, 61, said enforcing marijuana laws gets in the way of pursuing other drug crimes and called warnings about the ills of marijuana “a bunch of baloney” that even people in a Republican stronghold like South Dakota no longer believe.

South Dakota’s values of “personal responsibility and freedom” won out, said Stocker, who lives in Sioux Falls.

The 2020 election helped prove how broadly accepted marijuana has become throughout the United States, with measures to legalize recreational pot also breezing to victory in progressive New Jersey, moderate Arizona and conservative Montana. Fifteen states have now broadly legalized it, while 36 states allow medical marijuana. 

Voters in Mississippi overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana this month, giving the drug another foothold in the South. 

A Gallup Poll released Nov. 9 indicated that 68% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana — double the approval rate in 2003. That wide margin was evident in the election, with marijuana measures passing with strong bipartisan support.

In South Dakota and Montana — where Republicans swept to victory in the key races — recreational marijuana passed with at least 16 percentage points more support than Democratic President-elect Joe Biden received. South Dakota also approved medical pot, which outpolled Biden by 34 percentage points.

“We’ve waged a war against this plant for a century and by any reasonable metric, that war has been an abject failure,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which favors legalization. “All it’s done is incarcerate millions of Americans, it has perpetuated racism in this country, and perhaps the worst injustice of all is that it’s deprived us of medical marijuana research.”

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, hurting veterans who can’t be prescribed medical pot at Veterans Affairs clinics, he said.

They “come home with chronic pain and we’re pushing them to opioids,” Schweich said. “That’s crazy. That’s unpatriotic and it’s a disgrace.”

Support for legalization was around 25% in 1992 when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton tried to avoid answering questions about whether he had used marijuana before finally saying in a television interview that he had experimented with the drug, didn’t like it and “didn’t inhale.”

In early 2019, Kamala Harris — now the vice president-elect — was asked about her prior marijuana use during a radio interview and acknowledged: “I did inhale.”

Brendan Johnson, a former U.S. attorney in South Dakota who supported the state’s marijuana initiatives, said the campaign focused on the fact that in recent years 10% of arrests in the state were for marijuana, and most were small amounts.

“We have a real problem here where we have criminalized an entire generation of South Dakotans, and we’re paying a price,” Johnson said.

The owner of a chain of medical marijuana dispensaries in Billings, Montana, credited passage of the recreational marijuana initiative to a yearslong campaign by medical marijuana supporters to educate the public about the benefits of cannabis.

“There has been a considerable change in the political demographic because people are educated, because they know Aunt Margaret tried it for her cancer and she can eat,” said Richard Abromeit, owner of Montana Advanced Caregivers.

Advocates’ next goal is to get marijuana removed from a federal list of illegal drugs with no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. The listing prevents labs from researching potential medical remedies using marijuana.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told lawmakers last week that he would hold a vote in December on a bill that would decriminalize cannabis, create a process to expunge nonviolent pot convictions and remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act. It’s not clear if the bill could pass both chambers. 

The outcome of two runoff elections in Georgia could determine how the issue might fare in the Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has impeded its progress.

Other states are expected to consider marijuana legislation next year, which could put more pressure on Congress to act.

Supporters argue that the industry creates jobs and raises tax money to help prop up governments that are hurting because of business closures tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But some oppose broad legalization.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota argued that marijuana leads people to use other, more-addictive drugs, while law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Montana asserted that legal pot would lead to more drugged driving and other crimes, while exacerbating mental health issues.

The Gallup Poll says just under half of Republicans, people who identify as politically conservative and those who attend church on a weekly basis say they think marijuana should be legal.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon church, strongly opposed Arizona’s broad legalization measure despite supporting medical marijuana in Utah. 

Chris Nylen, 50, of Flagstaff, Arizona, is a Trump supporter who voted to legalize recreational marijuana. She said her feelings evolved after a CBD pill, made from hemp and prescribed by a veterinarian, eased her dog’s anxiety and arthritis. 

“I’m so old school,” she said. “I personally don’t have a desire for it, but (I’m) seeing the benefits for my dog.”

This story first appeared at Associated Press.

Associated Press reporters Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana; Steven Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona; and video journalist Haven Daley in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Israel to Legalize, Regulate Recreational Cannabis Market Within 9 Months

Israel to Legalize, Regulate Recreational Cannabis Market Within 9 Months

After receiving government approval, the bills will be rewritten into a new law under the supervision of Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh.

After four months in which the inter-ministerial committee for the regulation of Israel’s cannabis market had been convening every week, it published its conclusions on Thursday and handed them over to the Justice Ministry.Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn said that a legal memo will be drafted in the coming days for government approval, and that a bill could come to the Knesset floor for an initial reading even before the end of 2020, with the entire legislative process expected to take around nine months.

After receiving government approval, the bills will be rewritten into a new law under the supervision of Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, chairwoman of the Knesset’s Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Use.”I see great importance that these two bills [for decriminalization and legalization] be put forth as a single bill, which will be a responsible, holistic step for Israel without compromise. I am committed to leading, advancing and supervising the application of these recommendations for reform, while doing the preparations required in the memo on time,” Cotler-Wunsh said.In a special discussion on Thursday, Deputy Attorney-General Amit Merari presented the main conclusions of the extensive and in-depth staff work done by the committee and the experts who appeared before it on the subject of regulating cannabis.The recommendations were formulated after an in-depth study of the successes and failures in the implementation of cannabis legalization and decriminalization policies in the countries where the field was regulated.

FIRSTLY, anyone who was expecting to be able to smoke a legal joint will have to wait until some time near the final quarter of 2021, since there are still certain areas of both research and legislation which the various government offices need to prepare.

The committee said there is an essential need for detailed and thorough legislation concerning all possible aspects of the regulation, a lesson from the Colorado model, which had much less data to go on when the Rocky Mountain state chose to legalize cannabis in 2012.A significant and early budget will be dedicated for data tracking, enforcement, mental health treatment and addiction rehabilitation, in order to prepare the public for the move.A major emphasis in the policy will be put on preventing teen cannabis use and addiction, similar to the Canadian model.Establishment of a forfeiture fund from the tax profits on cannabis will be dedicated to social and community action.The new law is expected to go to a first reading in the Knesset within the next month, and clear the entire legislative process within nine months, according to Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn. In that time, the different offices will cooperate to regulate the market, each in their own department.After the process is complete, Israelis and tourists will be able to buy cannabis at special dispensaries, provided they are above the age of 21 and present a valid form of identification.

MERARI PRESENTED the reasons for the committee’s recommendations, saying the drug is very common in public use, there is no justification for its prohibition, and that its legal consequences currently outweigh its medical consequences.A majority of the committee members agreed that the advantages of cannabis legalization outweigh the disadvantages.The nine months will be used to answer some of the legislation’s many questions, and to prepare a network of data, so that the Health Ministry will be able to research and monitor the market in real time before it legally opens.The amount which will be allowed for possession of cannabis has still not been decided.Home growing will initially be illegal, but will be reconsidered once the market has been established.In the field of transportation, an emphasis will be placed on education regarding the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis, particularly when mixed with alcohol.However, many questions remain regarding the accuracy of THC breathalyzer tests used today, leading to this area to be possibly the largest loophole in need of fixing before legislation can pass.

PROF. ITAMAR GROTTO said after the announcement that there are three reasons they are satisfied with the recommendations. The first is the harm-reduction approach taken by the recommendations, which aim to work incrementally towards reducing the overall harm which comes from both cannabis criminalization and addiction.Secondly, the field of medical research into the long-term societal and health effects of cannabis would be greatly aided by legalization, Grotto said.Lastly, there is a need for better prevention and treatment methods, seeing as criminalization has not lowered the amount of users, despite being Israeli law since the country’s founding in 1948.Grotto also mentioned the need to separate the medical and recreational cannabis markets, saying they are still at the start of the journey on that aspect.

MK RAM SHEFA, who proposed the legalization bill which passed in a preliminary hearing in June, addressed the meeting via Zoom while in isolation, thanking the team for their hard work.”We can’t close our eyes to what is happening. Israel is a relative leader in cannabis consumption, and the market needs to be regulated,” Shefa said. “I say that also as the chairman of the Knesset’s Education Committee. I think we have a responsibility to address the problems of addiction, and the best way to deal with them is when your eyes are open.”I know we still have a few roadblocks ahead of us, and that the legislation will take many months, which will force us to find all kinds of solutions and compromises. But I am certain that with the wide consensus around this table, we can do it in a safe, responsible manner, that I think will succeed in freeing a lot of people of the stigma of feeling like criminals, for something that can and should be regulated,” he said.Shefa noted an urgency in the need to pass the legislation, most likely due to the looming specter of a possible dissolution of the Knesset for an election, which could complicate the chance for legalization if the bill has not yet passed in a first reading.”I’m here to push with full force, whether in isolation or not, for this legislation to be completed. We won’t let any party or MK – or anyone – stop us from leading a move that would help a lot of people in a responsible manner,” Shefa said.

LIKUD MK Sharren Haskel, who wrote the decriminalization bill, thanked Nissenkorn and the committee for their work, while also criticizing fellow Likud member and current UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan for his previous attempts at decriminalizing cannabis.”The recommendations which came out today are righting an injustice that was done during the previous cannabis committee led by [former public security minister Gilad] Erdan, where there was a majority for these recommendations to go through, but they were disregarded, and a completely different set of regulations passed,”

Haskel said.”These recommendations confirm what I and many in the public have already known for years: that the current policy has failed and we must change and repair it,” she added.Haskel seemed to echo Shefa’s urgency in the need to pass the bill during a time of election uncertainty, saying: “I promise the citizens of Israel that I will make a tremendous effort to cooperate and finish this legislation before the Knesset dissolves” – before being interrupted, and changing her remarks to reflect a vague optimism that the bill will likely pass.”We expect that within the final quarter of 2021, we will have completed the outline for the regulations,” Nissenkorn said. “The legislative outline can be approved very soon. Afterwards, there is the process of applying performance regulations, which we expect will be done by the last quarter of next year. We still need to discuss the intermediary period.” 

GROTTO SAID that there is no plan for changes in the reform to the medical cannabis market, though he added they will need to think of ways to differentiate between the amount of regulations placed on cannabis for recreational use and cannabis for medicinal use.However, Grotto added, the fact that Israel has already established regulations for the medicinal market, provides an infrastructure through which recreational cannabis can more easily be regulated.”We intend to release a legal memo to the public and hand it to the government for approval within the coming days. At the beginning of next month it can be sent to the Knesset along with the bills from MKs Shefa and Haskel to continue for a first reading in the Knesset plenum. Our goal is that within nine months, the first offices will have completed the important infrastructural work needed to combat addiction, to regulate the market and other processes.” When asked about issues which arose from Erdan’s 2018 cannabis reform (disproportionately high fines, criminalization still optional for possession, black market unaffected), Nissenkorn said a discussion would be had on the topic due to its complexity. However, Merari said no changes to the reform are planned to take place until new legislation passes.

MERETZ MK Tamar Zandberg, a long-time advocate and pioneer for cannabis legalization in Israel, congratulated Nissenkorn for “finally joining the 21st century and the list of ministers who promise legalization.”The direction is clear: Smoking cannabis in one’s spare time should not be a criminal offense – and soon will not be,” she said. “The legalization train has already left the station; it will soon become a reality. Congratulations to those who are struggling and joining.” Blue and White leader and alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said: “As I promised all along – today we bring an outline for responsible legalization that is adapted to the needs of the State of Israel.”He congratulated Nissenkorn, Shefa and Haskel for their achievements, adding that “We will lead the completion of the legislative process in the Knesset, and I look forward to the cooperation and substantive discussion of all parties in the political system. Too many civilians have suffered too long – it’s time to make amends.”

This story first appeared at The Jerusalem Post.

House Will Vote on Cannabis Legalization Bill in December

House Will Vote on Cannabis Legalization Bill in December

bill to remove federal penalties on marijuana and scrap some cannabis-related records will receive a vote on the House floor in December, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. In a letter to colleagues Monday, Hoyer outlined the legislative schedule for the lame-duck session in November and December.

“The House will vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses that have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for credit and loans, and accessing opportunities that make it possible to get ahead in our economy,” the letter read.Hoyer’s letter did not specify which week the vote will come up, but the House is scheduled to be in session Dec. 1-4 and Dec. 7-10.

What’s the background? The House was scheduled to vote on the bill in September, but someDemocrats in tight races worried that voters would not look kindly on a marijuana legalization votewhen a deal on coronavirus aid remained elusive. At the time, Hoyer promised the bill would still come up for a vote after the election.

Momentum is growing on marijuana policy. More than a third of Americans now live in states with full legalization, and a record 68 percent support federal cannabis legalization, according to Gallup. This past Election Day, five states passed medical or recreational legalization referendums — including staunchly conservative states such as Montana and South Dakota — bringing the total number of legal states up to 15.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that it‘s “past time to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.“

“With the success of all the cannabis ballot measures across the country last week, it’s more important than ever for Congress to catch up,” said Cannabis Caucus Co-chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), after Hoyer’s office announced the vote. “We’re going to continue building momentum so that Congress takes action to end the failed prohibition of cannabis before the year is out. Too much is at stake for communities of color.”

This story first appeared at Politico.com

PURA Targets Hemp Consumer Advocates To Capture $26 Billion Market

PURA Targets Hemp Consumer Advocates To Capture $26 Billion Market

Puration, Inc. has released an online multimedia presentation detailing the launch of their new lifestyle branded business initiative targeting the acquisition of hemp consumer advocates as participants in an innovative hemp-solution-development-ecosystem.

PURA is evolving from a CBD beverage company into a hemp lifestyle company. The company views the hemp market as being in its infancy. Little is understood in the market about hemp other than it being a source of CBD. And little is known about all the benefits of CBD.

The U.S. industrial hemp market is expected to reach a valuation of $26.6 billion by 2025. It was valued at $4.6 billion in 2019.  We believe the future value of industrial hemp is substantially larger than current analyst projections because the industrial potential of hemp is not pervasively understood.

PURA is introducing a business plan with the objective of raising awareness for the comprehensive potential of industrial hemp by developing multiple products that demonstrate that potential.

Their target market is the hemp consumer advocate that believes in the personal, environmental and economic benefits of hemp. The PURA customer considers their preference for hemp products over conventional alternatives as an expression of their identity – committed to naturally derived personal health products, and environmentally sustainable industrial solutions. Hemp is essential to the lifestyle of the hemp consumer advocate and the hemp consumer advocate is eager to convert others to the benefits of hemp.

PURA is introducing a platform to interact with hemp activist consumers – to hear and act on their ideas regarding hemp derived products from pharmaceuticals to an array of textile and construction solutions. Operationally, PURA is reorganizing its existing business concerns, contracts, and intellectual properties to parallel its reprioritization of efforts in conjunction with the new hemp lifestyle brand.

The lifestyle brand will be built around a hemp-solution-development-ecosystem that facilitates the interactive participation of consumers, engineers, designers, medical professionals, entrepreneurs and investors to conceive, pilot, validate and produce hemp solutions. 

The ecosystem will be founded on a physical property where participants can tangibly interact in the process to conceive, pilot, validate and produce hemp solutions. The hemp-solution-development-ecosystem lifestyle business plan is well beyond concept phase. PURA has acquired a 72-acre property form UC Asset LP (OTC: UCASU) as the foundation for the hemp-solution-development-ecosystem.  The property, in Farmersville, Texas is the inspiration for the hemp lifestyle brand name, “Farmersville Brands.”

PURA has established a hemp-solution-development-ecosystem partnership with PAO Group, Inc. (OTC PINK: PAOG) to participate in the co-development of hemp derived nutraceutical and pharmaceutical solutions. PURA has also established a hemp-solution-development-ecosystem partnership with Alkame Holdings, Inc. (OTC PINK: ALKM) to act as a dedicated copacker for hemp derived beverages, foods and oils.

More partnerships are in the works. A corporate name change is underway and new website is under construction.

In addition to the recent land purchase and new partnerships, PURA brings a host of historical momentum to the new hemp-solution-development-ecosystem business plan.  In January of this year PURA launched an acquisition campaign targeting CBD product acquisitions that could be enhanced with PURA’s patented technology. Those assets will be valuable in propelling the hemp-solution-development-ecosystem business strategy forward.

PURA owns a license to a U.S. Patented cannabis extraction process backed by extensive university medical research. The license, issued by NCM Biotech, is exclusive for beverages, edibles and cosmetics among other uses. NCM Biotech is focused on medical research and Puration has access to that research. See a recent research report on CBD extracts derived from NCM Biotech’s patented extraction process: Journal of Cannabis Research.

In the course of this year, the company has acquired a CBD confections business, a CBD pet products business and CBD sun care business.  Combined with its existing beverage industry product line, PURA’s combined horizontal market opportunity ranges across $2 trillion in market value.

PURA’s new hemp-solution-development-ecosystem business will maintain its existing beverage business.  PURA’s EVERx CBD Sports Water remains a leader in the sports nutrition market place accounting for the lion’s share of PURA’s $2.7 million in revenue reported last year in 2019.

As we near the conclusion of this presentation for all of you already familiar with PURA, yes, the one for one dividend of PAOG stock coming from the PAOG acquisition of PURA’s hemp cultivation operation is still on track to be issued soon.

PURA management looks forward to revealing additional specific details of the hemp-solution-development-ecosystem.  Look for announcements with more details on the existing and developing partnerships and the development of the Farmersville property.  Look for the launch of the new website that will include more information on how to become an early PURA participating hemp consumer advocate.  The company also plans to soon release more details on the plans to integrate an innovative investment strategy into the overall ecosystem solution.