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Friday, March 2, 2018

World News for March 2018 - by Kathy Hess

Canada the First to Offer Canna-Brews?
Canada - Cannabis is set to be a big business in Canada, and some alcoholic beverage companies are not looking to stop the emerging industry from possible draining their profits-rather their looking to merge the two and reef the benefits of cannabis infused beer.

Constellation Brands have been developing unique cannabis based beverages, they would be able to sell in markets all over the world, not just in Canada.  Bill Newlands, Constellation’s chief operating officer and president (who oversaw the nearly $200 million investment  Constellation made last fall in Canopy Growth Corp., one of Canada’s largest marijuana companies) told investors Wednesday at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York’s annual conference;

“This is very consistent with what our organization has done historically, which is to identify, meet and stay ahead of evolving consumer trends,” Newlands said, according to a transcript of the presentation obtained via Bloomberg.  “Our goal with this organization is to work collaboratively to both understand the cannabis business but also develop unique cannabis-based beverages that will be available around the world as legalities prove those to be an option,” he said.

 “Let me remind all of you, cannabis is going to be legal in Canada starting (this year), and we expect the beverages will be legal soon thereafter,” (2019) he said, according to the transcript. “And let’s keep in mind,” he added, “this is a big business.”

Rattling off the numbers of U.S. states that have legalized the medical use and/or the recreational use of marijuana, Newlands stated that by Constellation’s estimate, cannabis is a $50 billion business in America.

“That’s half the size of the beer business,” he said. “That’s pretty big business.”

Newlands was quick to give the caveat that Constellation has no intention of entering into the U.S. cannabis industry unless cannabis is legal “at all levels of government.”

Canopy Growth and Constellation have already proceeded with research-and-development work, The Canadian Press recently reported.

Grecians to Grow Ganja
Greece — The Grecian government says it’s accelerating plans to legalize the growth of medical marijuana, arguing that growing interest from investors could help efforts to pull the country out of years of financial crisis, not to mention bring other medicinal options to its aging citizens.

Legislation to legalize cannabis production was submitted to parliament mid February and is due to be voted on later in the month.

Greece allowed the use of medical cannabis products to its citizens last year, but currently needs to rely solely on imports until the legal framework for domestic growers was prepared. Greek officials are optimistic that production and processing could draw investments worth 1.5 billion euros (1.85 billion) over three years.

According to the draft legislation, growers must be age 21 or over, have no drug-related convictions, and have at least 1 acre of land available.

European Powerhouse Showing Early Signs of Change on Cannabis
Germany— The head of BDK, Andre Schulz, an organization representing criminal police in Germany, is calling for the consumption of cannabis to be decriminalized.

Germany has allowed some patients to get marijuana as a prescription medication since last March, but officials have stressed that doesn’t mean it will be legalized for non-medical purposes.

Schulz told the “Bild Daily” (local paper in Germany) that the group favors a “complete decriminalization of cannabis consumers.” Schulz also argued that the current system stigmatizes people and “allows criminal careers to start.” […]“the prohibition of cannabis was, viewed historically, arbitrary” and is “neither intelligent nor expedient.”

However, Schulz also said that marijuana must remain off-limits for drivers.

Cunctation of Cannabis in Canada
Canada- As recently as last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s was insisting it was on track for legalization in July.

But a new Senate timetable given to pass the legislation in mid February.  Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor conceded shortly afterward that it won’t be done by July.

Petitpas-Taylor echoed that provincial and territorial governments will need another 8 to 12 weeks following senate passage and royal assent to prepare for retail sales. That would put recreational sales starting in August at the soonest, but more than likely not until a month later.

Legalization of cannabis recreationally would make Canada the second country to have nationwide legalization, after Uruguay (July 2017).

Each province (sort of like states in the U.S.) in Canada is coming up with their provincial rules (age restrictions, purchase limits, ect.) for the sale of recreational pot.

Dank Depredation in Africa
Lesotho- The landlocked (entirely encircled by South Africa) country of Lesotho, where the use of cannabis dates back as far as the 16th Century, has become the first African country to permit the legal cultivation of cannabis – but the production of the drug has been restricted to two foreign-owned companies, while rural farmers and the wider population continue to be prohibited from harvesting their own.

A year ago, Lesotho's Ministry of Health granted a Prohibited Drug Operator license to  Pharmaceutical Development Company (PDC) Ltd to legally cultivate, supply, hold, import, and export cannabis. This made PDC (based in Lesotho's capital, Maseru) the first company in the entire African continent, to be permitted to legally produce the drug. Yet, just months later, PDC’s director resigned and was replaced by US-based businessman Michael Ogburn, and all of PDC’s shares were transferred to Corix Bioscience Inc., based out of Arizona.

According to the terms of the license, holders are permitted to "cultivate flowerings of the plant [...] for the purpose of smoking, vaporizing, extraction, edible, [...] and medicine production" across up to 20,000 square meters of land. The license-holder is permitted to "export, import and transit [cannabis] within, into and outside of Lesotho for medical use and/or scientific use and any other lawful use". This thereby allows Corix Bioscience Inc. to transport Lesotho-produced cannabis or cannabis-based substances to any jurisdiction in the world that allows the drug for recreational or medical purposes.
The provision of a cannabis license to PDC/Corix Bioscience Inc., and one to a South African botanical company Verve Dynamics, suggests that Lesotho has taken a ground-breaking step in African drug policy; rolling back prohibition and embracing a regulated approach to cannabis production. However, the reality for its citizens is markedly different.

Cannabis remains illegal for citizens to harvest, sell, and possess across the country, under Lesotho’s Drugs of Abuse Act 2008. Under section 9 of this Act, being convicted of harvesting a cannabis plant mandates a person to face either a minimum of five years in prison, or a fine of at least $1,664 US dollars. Section 81 of the Act allows any police officer to “without warrant … enter any place on or in which [cannabis is] growing” to destroy said plants.

The deprivation of Lesotho’s people from benefiting from a regulated production of this cash crop is particularly poignant given the country’s 57% poverty rate.

Cannabis continues to be a significant part of Lesotho’s agriculture and economy, albeit illegally, today. A 2007 UNODC report claimed that 70 per cent "of the cannabis entering South Africa was grown in Lesotho, where it is estimated to be the third largest source of income".

Despite the importance of cannabis for Lesotho’s economy, the government has yet to regulate the plant’s cultivation and supply – leaving rural farmers to risk criminalization and operate in the shadows to make a living. Despite the Lesotho government permitting two foreign companies to legally cultivate and export cannabis, the people of Lesotho still risk penalization for doing exactly the same thing.

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