I now buy legal cannabis by the ton. I negotiate the price of dried, ground marijuana as if it were just another commodity…because it is. Cannabis is simply an amazing agricultural commodity and precious raw material input– dropped into a not-so-complicated equation, designed to produce profit.
Just two years ago I was paying some $2,000 a pound for world class marijuana. Now that price has fallen by two thirds and I pay roughly $600 a pound. This is great news for our purchasing department, but not so much for our wholesale prices. Alas, this was inevitable, it’s simple economics. It makes market expansion all the more critical. If you are not growing, you’re dying, or soon will be. More money in the market invites more competition, which motivates us to innovate, scale and ultimately find efficiencies in our processes.. or be chewed up by the competition.
At Organa Brands, I oversee an entire house of brands that makes everything from cannabis vaporizers to THC tablets, edibles and dabs, and even energy drinks. I expect that before long, our CBD products — many of which have no THC — will be stocked on shelves at convenience stores, gas stations, Costco and Walmart.
Fortunately, that’s where my experience lies. Before entering the world of cannabis, I had spent years as a printer salesman, selling millions of dollars of commercial printers to clients throughout the Rocky Mountain region. The commercial printing business is cutthroat, as any office manager with a decent sized copy machine will attest. The hardware is sold for the narrowest of margins, or even below cost, while the emphasis is put on the consumable commodity, which is the ink.
Seem familiar? If not, what kind of cellphone do you have? You likely got the phone on the cheap or even free, as long as you signed up for the lengthy service contract. Guess where the money is made?
There are purists who shun the idea that if (when) marijuana goes mainstream, it is a disaster. They believe it’s a cave-in to big capital, big corporations, to profiteers and all things sacred of this undoubtedly magical plant. I couldn’t disagree more. If we are to unlock and share the medicinal and wellness properties of cannabis, why not champion the professional distribution of our favorite plant? Why not embrace enterprise resource planning software platforms, hi-tech manufacturing techniques, tighter inventory controls, agricultural efficiencies and crisp profit-and-loss statements?
The best homage we can make to this amazing plant is to produce the finest cannabis oil possible, to place it in attractive, finely-tuned packaging, that is both alluring to adult consumers and childproof, and offer it to consumers nationwide. The greatest contribution I can give to this industry and this amazing plant is to make sure it finds its way into as many lives as possible. We can scale our businesses larger, scrutinize costs and expenses, pour over financial reports and become the solid start-up that transforms into a legacy company that withstands the ups and down of the business world.
I believe we should celebrate national cannabis brands because we are able to incorporate up-and-coming products and place their innovative oils, edibles and medicines into our nationwide distribution network that reaches some 1,200 dispensaries in 10 states (and counting). We should support and encourage each other to become a tribe of companies, a community of cannabis enthusiasts that collectively have the market power of “Big Cannabis”. While that name scares many, it simply means that our industry has “made it.” It means we are here to stay, that we withstood the test of time and government prohibition. We have found a permanent home in the world economy.
When people criticize what they fear is the “homogenization” of marijuana, I can only laugh. Is there any better way to celebrate diversity of brands and up-and-coming entrepreneurial know-how than to offer a launch pad to those superior cannabis products? A launch pad that guarantees their product can be sold from Boston to Berlin, from San Francisco to Sydney?
It has been this same process of consolidation, which is a natural evolution in any maturing industry, that led the O.penVAPE team to look beyond vape pens and incorporate a whole new range of products, and a whole new range of possibilities. That’s why earlier this year we rebranded as Organa Brands — literally a house of brands.
For years, the company where I work was known for its O.penVAPE pens. We sold some 6 million of our cartridges and earned a strong customer following and loyalty with budtenders nationwide. Was that the result of some fortuitous “lucky break” or the natural result of dozens, then hundreds of employees working weekends, staying late and attempting to find a route to success in the highly competitive cannabis industry? I’ll let you answer that one, because I already know.
Our downtown Denver corporate office looks more like a tech startup in Silicon Valley than a mega cannabis conglomerate. We have trendy coffees that self-brew on demand, organic snacks and the requisite office pets and ping pong table. But don’t let the laid back atmosphere or tunes playing on the Sonos fool you. Our office is stocked with brilliant minds ready to go toe-to-toe with Big Tobacco, Big Alcohol and Big Pharma. We relish the opportunity to measure up against other, more mature industries. To do that we must first pass through the inevitable commoditization of our products, work with the compression of profit margins and weather the oncoming storm of consolidation.
I don’t make any medical or health claims about cannabis, but I know that a deep feeling of wellness and peace accompanies the cannabis products we produce. Every day, I receive letters of thanks. If this deep wellspring of consumer support leads to the nation’s first national chain of dispensaries, or million-acre cultivation facility, or a multinational consumer products cannabis company, I say we should all celebrate.
Solidarity for abandoned cannabis patients.
The well-known physician and chairman of the Cannabis Association as a medicine (ACM) Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen has made a moving decision. Although certain positive aspects could be felt in parts through the enacted cannabis-as-medicine law, there would be enough problems in the entire treatment area, which now led to a drastic measure. During the ACM Annual General Meeting in Frankfurt on May 12, 2017, the medical doctor, who has been advocating medical medicine for many years, declares his decision not to eat any food for the next one to two weeks as a result of solidarity with the many cannabis patients left alone.
Doctor Franjo Grotenhermen joins the hunger strike.
The drug policy speakers of the parties were informed before Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen of the warnings – an honorary man.
Picture the stereotypical pot smoker: young, dazed and confused. Marijuana has long been known for its psychoactive effects, which can include cognitive impairment. But new research published this week in Nature Medicine suggests the drug might affect older users very differently than young ones—at least in mice. Instead of impairing learning and memory as it does in young people, the drug appears to reverse age-related declines in the cognitive performance of elderly mice.
Researchers led by Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn in Germany gave low doses of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana’s main active ingredient, to young, mature and aged mice. As expected, young mice treated with THC performed slightly worse on behavioral tests of memory and learning. For example, after THC young mice took longer to learn where a safe platform was hidden in a water maze, and they had a harder time recognizing another mouse to which they had previously been exposed. Without the drug, mature and aged mice performed worse on the tests than young ones did. But after receiving THC the elderly animals’ performances improved to the point that they resembled those of young, untreated mice. “The effects were very robust, very profound,” Zimmer says.
Other experts praised the study but cautioned against extrapolating the findings to humans. “This well-designed set of experiments shows that chronic THC pretreatment appears to restore a significant level of diminished cognitive performance in older mice, while corroborating the opposite effect among young mice,” Susan Weiss, director of the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse who was not involved in the study, wrote in an e-mail. Nevertheless, she added, “While it would be tempting to presume the relevance of these findings [extends] to aging humans…further research will be critically needed.”
When the researchers examined the brains of the treated, elderly mice for an explanation, they noticed neurons in the hippocampus—a brain area critical for learning and memory—had sprouted more synaptic spines, the points of contact for communication between neurons. Even more striking, the gene expression pattern in the hippocampi of THC-treated aged mice was radically different from that of untreated elderly mice. “That is something we absolutely did not expect: the old animals [that received] THC looked most similar to the young, untreated control mice,” Zimmer says.
The findings raise the intriguing possibility THC and other “cannabinoids” might act as anti-aging molecules in the brain. Cannabinoids include dozens of biologically active compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. THC, the most highly studied type, is largely responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. The plant compounds mimic our brain’s own marijuanalike molecules, called endogenous cannabinoids, which activate specific receptors in the brain capable of modulating neural activity. “We know the endogenous cannabinoid system is very dynamic; it goes through changes over the lifespan,” says Ryan McLaughlin, a researcher who studies cannabis and stress at Washington State University and was not involved in the current work. Research has shown the cannabinoid system develops gradually during childhood, “and then it blows up in adolescence—you see increased activity of its enzymes and receptors,” McLaughlin says. “Then as we age, it’s on a steady decline.”
That decline in the endogenous cannabinoid system with age fits with previous work by Zimmer and others showing cannabinoid-associated molecules become more scant in the brains of aged animals. “The idea is that as animals grow old, similar to in humans, the activity of the endogenous cannabinoid system goes down—and that coincides with signs of aging in the brain,” Zimmer says. “So we thought, what if we stimulate the system by supplying [externally produced] cannabinoids?”
That idea does not seem so outlandish, considering the role of cannabinoids in maintaining the body’s natural balance, says Mark Ware, a clinical researcher at McGill University in Montreal who was not part of the study. “To anyone who studies the endocannabinoid system, the findings are not necessarily surprising because the system has homeostatic properties everywhere we look,” meaning its effects may vary depending on the situation. For example, a little marijuana may alleviate anxiety but too much can bring on paranoid delusions. Likewise, cannabis can spark an appetite in cancer patients but in other people may produce nausea. So the detrimental effects seen in young brains, in which cannabinoids are already plentiful, may turn out to be beneficial in older brains that have a dearth of them.
These chemicals also work to maintain order at the cellular level, McLaughlin says. “We know the endogenous cannabinoid system’s primary function is to try to preserve homeostasis within a given brain circuit. It works like an internal regulator; when there’s too much [neuronal] activity, cannabinoids suppress activity to prevent neurotoxicity.” Restoring that protection might help safeguard the brain against cellular stress that contributes to aging. “A critical takeaway of this study is that they used low doses,” Ware says, considering that different doses could have entirely different effects. It would be difficult if not impossible to translate the dose they used in mice to a human equivalent, “but it’s clear we’re not talking about vast amounts. We don’t know what would happen with higher doses.”
Researchers don’t know exactly how marijuana affects older adults, in part because they have been focused squarely on younger people, who are thought to be at greatest risk. “Because of the public health concern, research has had a very strong focus on marijuana’s effects in adolescence,” Ware says. But although young people make up the largest group of cannabis users, their rate of use has remained relatively stable over the past decade even as the drug has become increasingly available. Meanwhile, use among seniors has skyrocketed as the drug’s stigma has faded. A March study showed that in people aged 50 to 64, marijuana use increased nearly 60 percent between 2006 and 2013. And among adults over 65, the drug’s use jumped by 250 percent.
The researchers don’t suggest seniors should rush out and start using marijuana. “I don’t want to encourage anyone to use cannabis in any form based on this study,” Zimmer says.
Older adults looking to medical cannabis to relieve chronic pain and other ailments are concerned about its side effects, Ware says. “They want to know: Does this cause damage to my brain? Will it impair my memory? If this data holds up in humans…it may suggest that [THC] isn’t likely to have a negative impact if you’re using the right dose. Now the challenge is thrown down to clinical researchers to study that in people,” Ware says.
Zimmer and his colleagues plan to do just that. They have secured funding from the German government, and after clearing regulatory hurdles they will begin testing the effects of THC in elderly adults with mild cognitive impairments.
As part of a first series of unannounced inspections of seven licensed producers in March, Health Canada collected samples of plant leaves, dried cannabis and cannabis oil (if produced), as well as samples of any products suspected to contain pesticides the inspectors found on site.
On May 1 and 4, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency completed laboratory testing of plant leaves from the seven inspected sites. Five of the seven sites (RedeCan, 7 Acres, Tweed, Tilray and Broken Coast) showed no sign of contamination in the leaves that were tested. Of the remaining sites, both leaf samples at Hydropothecary tested positive for myclobutanil at low level concentrations of between 0.012 and 0.023 parts per million (ppm), and one leaf sample from plants at Peace Naturals tested positive for piperonyl butoxide at a low level concentration of 0.78 ppm. Myclobutanil is a pesticide that is not authorized for use in cannabis cultivation, while piperonyl butoxide is a synergist that is a substance that is combined with pesticides to increase their effectiveness. Piperonyl butoxide is considered an active ingredient in pesticides, and is not contained in any of the 17 pesticides authorized for use in cannabis cultivation. Testing of dried cannabis and cannabis oil samples taken from the seven licensed producers is ongoing; results are not yet available.
When it announced random testing, Health Canada was clear that it would not hesitate to take additional measures if warranted based on evidence. Today, Health Canada is announcing that it will require all licensed producers to conduct mandatory testing of all cannabis products destined for sale for the presence of unauthorized pesticides. Licensed producers already test cannabis products for microbial and chemical contaminants (such as mould, heavy metals, and bacterial and fungal contamination) as required by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. In addition, Health Canada will continue to carry out random testing of product samples collected during its regular and unannounced inspections of licensed producers to help ensure the safety of Canada’s medical cannabis supply.
Hydropothecary and Peace Naturals are working to determine through additional testing by independent laboratories which product lots may be affected, will communicate directly with clients who may have received affected product, and have indicated they will undertake voluntary recalls as necessary. Health Canada will keep the general public informed by publishing information in the recalls and safety alerts database. These companies are also undertaking an investigation and will implement any necessary corrective measures, which will be reviewed by Health Canada.
The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations are clear: only the 17 pesticides listed under the Pesticides Act (PCPA) for use on cannabis crops may be used at any point in cannabis production. There are no exceptions to these requirements, and no situations in which using a pesticide that is not authorized under the PCPA for cannabis cultivation would be acceptable.
In the coming weeks, Health Canada will provide guidance to licensed producers on how to implement mandatory testing, including reporting of test results to Health Canada. This requirement for mandatory testing for the presence of unauthorized pesticides will help ensure that Canadians can continue to have confidence in obtaining safe, quality-controlled medical cannabis from licensed producers.
Nine years after a Swiss referendum failed to gain public approval for cannabis legalisation, a campaign group has reignited the movement for reform.
Legalize It, a Zurich-based group, has launched a campaign to legally regulate cannabis across Switzerland. The objectives of the initiative, Legalize It describes, are three-fold: to allow adults the “freedom and right to consume cannabis”, to prevent those who seek cannabis from having to purchase from the “black market”, and to ensure increased investment into drug use prevention, related research, and social security. The funds for such investment, the group says, will be acquired from the taxation of cannabis sales, and savings on law enforcement expenditure.
The campaign comes in the form of a federal popular initiative, a legislative instrument by which Swiss citizens can suggest changes in the law. If the proposal garners 100,000 valid signatures from Swiss citizens, it will be put forward for debate by the Federal Council, the country’s highest executive authority, and the Federal Assembly, the highest legislative authority.
The cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis are outlawed in Switzerland in almost all cases, however punishment for minor possession is relatively light. Under the current law, an adult found to be in possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis will be fined 100 Swiss francs (£78), and will not be criminally prosecuted. In 2015, there were a total of 18,366 such fines across Switzerland.
Around three percent of adult Swiss residents use cannabis monthly, and almost 40 per cent of adults claim to have used it at least once in their life, according to Addiction Monitoring in Switzerland.
An attempt to legally regulate cannabis was resoundingly opposed by the public in a 2008 referendum, in which 63 per cent of voters opposed the measure. However, the public’s view on the subject has changed over the past decade, according to Nino Forrer, spokesperson for Legalise It.
“Many other countries have legalised or decriminalised cannabis in some form since 2008 and the results are good […] Based on this new data, the Swiss people will see more benefits than harms in legalising cannabis, I’m sure”, Forrer told TalkingDrugs.
“There has not been a massive rise in cannabis consumption among the youth [in places that have legalised cannabis], no surge in traffic accidents, no massive increased health costs. Instead, many jurisdictions have put the extra money from cannabis taxes into public healthcare, infrastructure, and schools in order to improve the standard of living for their people.”
For example, in 2016, the US state of Colorado collected over $150 million in cannabis sale taxes, of which around $50 million was directed to school projects. Similarly, Legalize Itclaims that taxing the drug could raise 100 million Swiss francs (£78 million) each year, based on their estimates of consumption rates.
Forrer believes that the success of foreign initiatives, such as that in Colorado, may be enough for the Swiss authorities and public to support Legalize It’s new campaign – but only if the message can be effectively be delivered.
“We have had very good responses so far! Many people in Switzerland were waiting for this initiative, so they are very happy that we have started it”, Forrer told us.
“Now, we will try to inform the public as much as possible in order to gather a strong activist base all over the country. Mass media affects our perception of cannabis to a large extent, so good press is needed in order to win over the minds of Swiss people”.
If this initiative proves successful, Switzerland could become the first country in Europe to introduce a legally regulated cannabis market.
Philip J. Cenedella IV
International Cannabis Consultant
Medical Marijuana Patient Advocate since 1977.
First and foremost, Phil is a patient advocate for 4 decades having grown up in New York during the Rockefeller Drug Law years, then establishing himself in San Diego during the push for legalization there in the’ 90s. Now he is situated in Germany during its historic transition into the leadership role of the European Cannabis industry.
Phil is uniquely qualified to help you establish your international business strategy having served as a Founding Board Member of the World Trade Center San Diego, a Lead Consultant for Deutsche Telekom, The California Trade and Investment Office, Deutsche Bank, IBM, San Diego Economic Development Board and many other entities. He puts his years of business development, sales and distribution expertise to work for you in a highly professional, ethical and effective manner.
40 Years Experience:
Phil was born in Buffalo on the shores of the US/Canadian border, spent most of his life in San Diego overlooking the US/Mexico border, and now is living in Europe with its open borders and the opening of its legal Cannabis industry.
As a C-level business development executive in the technology and construction sectors, and a Founding Board of Director for the World Trade Center San Diego and San Diego Software Council, Phil has facilitated and closed sales and strategic partnerships worldwide.
Phil has also been Lead Consultant for the California Trade and Investment Office in Germany and catalyst for the CAL-IT Investment Forum in London.
He has served as a consultant for IBM, George Clinton, Deutsche Telekom, iSeeTV, San Diego Convention Center, FINDLAW, Chaparral Computers and Networks, San Diego Economic Development Corporation, Deutsche Bank and many others in the Cannabis space (to remain confidential).
Phil is a USA citizen with an EU Work/Residence Permit. He has exactly 40 years of firsthand knowledge of all aspects of our Industry and is a C-level International business development specialist who is highly professional yet very easy to work with. He provides your firm with Strategic guidance and the ability to help you to increase your sales channels, distribution networks, and strategic partnerships.
1984, University of Dayton B.A. Psychology, Music minor-emphasis
Business Development 98%
International trade 98%
Cannabis Industry 420%
Who is Phil:
“Phil is an absolute professional. Flexible, hardworking and driven. His results were great and we highly recommend his services.” – BLF, NYC
“Phil has boundless enthusiasm and always applies 100% effort to all he does. Phil researched the US market for…. The USA became our best market by far, and I know that we would never have broken into that extremely tough market without Phil. His combination of broad based business knowledge, willingness to learn, team spirit and superb networking skills is very rare and extremely valuable. Always positive, he was a joy to work with. I thoroughly recommend him.” – GRB, UK
“Phil Cenedella has been my contact for several years and I have found him to be the consummate professional. He will always promptly return a call or provide me an answer to an inquiry. He is always “on-it” and truly treats a client as if they were part of his extended family. It’s very rare these days to find someone as dedicated to his business and his clients as Phil. Phil has all the characteristics of what I look for when I have occasion to be expanding my staff. He is honest to a fault, dedicated, sincere and is the paramount reason for my firm’s continuing…….” – DF ,USA
“Phil is the most personable, genuine, charismatic and effective business development manager I have had the pleasure to work with. He instills trust and confidence!”- JFL, EU
“Phil is family.” – George Clinton
Volunteer Positions: Founder, Dayton and La Jolla Human Trafficking Accords, Founder, St. Vincent de Paul Christmas Caroling and Limo Party, Volunteer, Americans for Safe Access, Advisor, City of Hope – Dubai Key accomplishments: Assisted with the freeing from prison a child victim of human trafficking serving life without parole, initiated Goldman Sachs’ divestment of a human-trafficking related publication, assisted advocates on the frontlines in Dubai, Ohio, California and elsewhere.