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Patient Advocate since 1977.


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Commentary about Western Europe – by Ben Ward CEO of Maricann – on CNBC

Forget the US. Here’s where medical marijuana is really taking off

  • There is a global shift in cannabis towards Western Europe.
  • That’s where the action in medical marijuana is really heating up.
  • Investor’s focused solely on the U.S. are missing the huge potential overseas.
Benjamin Ward, CEO of Maricann Group Inc.
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David McNew | Getty Images

There’s a groundswell of support for cannabis legalisation in the United States, with 29 states, as well as Washington D.C. approved for medicinal cannabis, and eight for lifestyle use.

Things are farther ahead in Canada. Regulations for production and sales have been in place for over three years, and the federal government has introduced a timeline to full federal legalisation for lifestyle use in July 2018. Capacity in Canada for lifestyle alone is projected to reach “5 billion dollars per year to start,” according to a recent report from Deloitte.

Yet, while many investors focus on opportunities stemming from Canada’s upcoming legalization – plus the longer-term investment potential in what will likely be a growing number of American states – they are missing the global shift in cannabis towards Western Europe. That’s where the action is really heating up.

The population of the United States is approximately 325 million. There are 35 million living in Canada. But compare that to the European Union’s population of 510 million. Germany, with more than 80 million people alone, legalized medicinal cannabis in January of this year. Add that to Italy’s nascent existing medicinal cannabis program.

“European markets are increasingly important to the cannabis sector. Each has a well-funded medical system, residents who seek natural and complementary therapies, and a government-supported mandate to stop the rising tide of opiate addiction related to chronic pain treatment.”

These European markets are increasingly important to the cannabis sector. Each has a well-funded medical system, residents who seek natural and complementary therapies, and a government-supported mandate to stop the rising tide of opiate addiction related to chronic pain treatment.

Taken together, these and other European examples show that we’re seeing traditionally conservative attitudes shift as medicinal cannabis is legalized.

That also means investors in cannabis who focus solely on North America are missing the huge potential found across the Atlantic.

Those investors restricting their cannabis investments to this side of the ocean – and in the United States in particular – are left navigating an array of legislation on a state-by-state basis, prohibitive out-of-state investment regulations, and a prohibitive tax code. These investors miss the boat as they churn through such choppy water.

In Germany, cannabis will be produced by licenced producers and distributed to pharmacies like any other medication, with each prescription eligible for full reimbursement from health insurance.

In their patient-driven markets, Germans, Italians and other Europeans are demanding the alternative of cannabis over opiates.

In our view, people who think opiates are the only answer to pain relief have a similar mis-perception as people who still think medicinal cannabis is nothing more than smoking up with their doctor’s permission.

They are both wrong.

In short, medical cannabis is about personalized and effective medicine. It’s not about getting high.

The Europeans know that, as we do in North America.

As Germany moves smartly down this path of medicinal cannabis, the rest of Europe will soon follow. And to ignore 500 million people in a stable economy is a mistake.

We’re at the start of the global revolution. We all need to be looking to Europe next.

Commentary by Benjamin Ward, CEO of Maricann Group Inc., a vertically-integrated greenhouse producer and distributor of medical cannabis. Toronto, Canada-based Maricann is now building global teams in rapidly expanding European markets as well.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.

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INTERNATIONAL CANNABIS AND CANNABINOIDS INSTITUTE – Warning to European CBD Consumers

https://www.marijuanatimes.org/icci-offers-warning-to-european-cbd-consumers/

ICCI-CBD-warning
Image Courtesy of Bill Griffin

Oils with a high CBD (cannabidiol) content have enjoyed a rise in popularity in the European market lately. As long as the THC content is no higher than 0.2% in most (but sadly, not all) European member states, CBD oil is perfectly legal.

Consumers are more aware of the medicinal properties of CBD and its non-psychotropic effect when ingested or inhaled.

This surge in awareness and demand has created a large – and unregulated – industry. Thanks to Europe’s free market, consumers are able to buy from another EU state with ease.

In Prague, under the framework of Patient Focus Certification (PFC), the world’s first independent testing took place of the quality of cannabidiol (CBD) products available on the retail market and the composition of “cannabis oils” available in the European Union. The results were found to be worrisome and highlighted the need for independent certification of the quality of mass-produced products made from cannabis.

Essentially, consumers only have the label and claims from the producer to go on when buying their CBD products. There is no way for them to test and validate these claims on their own. It is even difficult for the producers to get their products tested, so where this information is coming from is open to discussion.

In cooperation with the first European laboratory with a PFC certification – working within the Department of Food Analysis and Nutrition of the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague (VŠCHT) – the International Institute for Cannabis and Cannabinoids (ICCI), also headquartered in Prague, assessed the quality of certain types of commercially available CBD oils on the European market.

Professor Jana Hajšlová, who led the testing, says, “For both categories, we are interested in the quality and authenticity of used oils and possible content of environmental contaminants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which accumulate in oils (for protecting the health of their consumers, maximum limits have been anchored in legislation. For “CBD oils”, we also examined the consistency of the determined contents of CBD with the producer’s stated values and the potential content of THC.” THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychotropic substance found in cannabis that gets you high.

Professor Hajšlová and her team tested 29 oils containing the non-psychotropic biologically active substance from cannabis – CBD – and 25 oils from cannabis seeds purchased on the EU market in the last quarter of 2016.

Tomáš Zábranský, Director of Research at ICCI, explained why the following aspects were selected in the assessment of edible cannabis-based foods, “Multi-core polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzopryrene, are classified as carcinogens and genotoxic mutagens of class IIa – according to the classification of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). That means they are substances whose carcinogenicity was proven experimentally on animals, even though not on people (otherwise being prevented for ethical reasons), they have nevertheless been proven by a multitude of epidemiological studies. This especially pertains to ill persons trying to utilize the beneficial effects of CBD, but polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are unquestionably hazardous, mainly upon long-term (chronic) reception.”

In other words, what some people are buying to make them better could well have a detrimental effect on their health.

Another unexpected outcome of taking uncertified CBD products could be that you consume more THC than you were expecting. This could be seen as a nice problem for some, but potentially dangerous if the consumer is working in a hazardous environment, or even just doing a school or shopping run.

Tomáš explains, “Another problem is the excessive content of THC in the blood after use of CBD oils. THC is another medicinally active substance from cannabis, but it is psychoactive as opposed to CBD. Even its relatively low quantities can cause changes in perception among more sensitive individuals, which could jeopardize their ability to drive or make decisions in general – especially if they are not aware of the possibility of their psyche being influenced by an external substance.”

There could be legal implications for the consumer, too. “Another problem for drivers may be testing positive for THC upon traffic stops, which could lead at least to losing one’s driver’s license. Generally speaking, any psychoactive substance in one’s body about which one has no idea is always a problem.”

The results of their analysis exceeded expectations of the deficiencies in the claims of the producers. This lead ICCI, along with the Department of Food Analysis and Nutrition, to issue a warning to European consumers about the risks of hazardous contaminations.

They discovered that, in terms of the content of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), only 9 out of 29 (31%) of tested CBD oils were satisfactory.

Cannabis oils (which are actually oils from cannabis seeds and not from the plant) enjoyed better success in this basic food safety criterion. In this category, 23 out of 25 tested sample products (92%) satisfied the legal limits of PAH in foods.

The quality analysis also uncovered a problem in the lack of awareness of customers on the composition of the given product. A full 60% of tested CBD oils did not have any mention of the THC level on the label. This is important as consumers need to know if they exceed the recommended or maximum dosage of THC. Otherwise, they could end up testing positive for a THC level higher than the limit of 2ng per ml of blood upon screening during a traffic stop or employment.

For a quarter of the tested oils, the risk is affiliated with the use of a recommended dose and another 10% evoke this risk upon using the maximum dosage stated on the packaging. Further, labels of 34% of CBD oils showed discrepancies between the true content of CBD, or sums of CBD and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and the content stated by the producer.

This means that CBD consumers could not only be just plain old ripped off, they could be taking substances detrimental to their health, hazardous to their safety and psychological well-being, and  they could be unwittingly breaking the law whilst driving or lose their job after a drug test.

With the European hemp industry growing so much in recent years, ICCI’s study and other independent testing of the quality of cannabis-based products designed for human consumption highlight the need to introduce and observe standards for safe production and distribution.

Having met many people working within the industry over the last few years, I get the impression they are not trying to pull the wool over the eyes of innocent consumers, but rather they lack the knowledge to setup and manage facilities involved in the production and distribution of cannabis-related products. Up until now, there was no way for them to gain this knowledge.

Therefore last year, ICCI licensed the PFC program from the nonprofit American patient organization ASA (Americans for Safe Access) for certification outside the USA and localized the certification criteria for use in the EU.

Pavel Kubů, CEO of ICC,I explains what will happen with the results of this testing, “We are contacting all producers of the tested edible cannabis-based food products, we will share with them the results and offer assistance in checking the safety and increasing the quality of their products. The list of those foods that satisfied limits in the PAH analysis will be available to all consumers on the PFC International website. Members of patient organizations associated in the international association (IMCPC) will be provided information through the association KOPAC regarding the quality of the oil that they use and find out whether it was amongst those tested, and if so, with what results.”


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THE TIDE IS CHANGIN’…..Poland’s Lower House Votes 440-2 in Favor of Legalizing Medical Marijuana

https://www.ganjapreneur.com/lawmakers-poland-vote-443-2-favor-legalizing-medical-cannabis/

Lawmakers in Poland’s Lower House of Parliament have cast 440 votes in favor of legalizing the use of medical cannabis, according to a Yahoo News report. Only two lawmakers voted against the move, with one other House lawmaker abstaining from the vote.

The law must pass through the Senate next — and then the President — before taking full effect, but Poland is the latest member of the European Union to demonstrate signs of moving towards a comprehensive medical cannabis program.

The proposed legislation would allow for doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients. The products in question would be made by pharmacies using imported materials. The bill would not allow patients to grow their own medicine and does nothing to legalize recreational access to the plant.

The bill was proposed last year by independent lawmaker Piotr Marzec-Liroy, a rapper-turned-politician who rose in popularity in 2015 on the back of the Kukiz’15 anti-establishment movement.

Polling data from January suggests that 78 percent of Polish citizens believe that access to cannabis should be legal.

Other countries in the EU who have made strides towards the implementation of cannabis medicine include Germany, where Canadian cannabis companies are already establishing business ties; the United Kingdom; the Czech Republic; Finland; the Netherlands; Portugal; Spain; and Ireland.

Last month, France’s new president Emmanuel Macron announced a plan to end prison sentences for cannabis consumers.


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German researchers find not one, not ten, not a hundred,…but over 140 clinic trials on cannabis and cannabinoids. – NORML

http://blog.norml.org/2017/06/04/review-identifies-140-controlled-clinical-trials-related-to-cannabis/

Scientists have conducted over 140 controlled clinical trials since 1975 assessing the safety and efficacy of whole-plant cannabis or specific cannabinoids, according to a new literature review published in the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences.

A pair of German researchers identified 140 clinical trials involving an estimated 8,000 participants. Of these, the largest body of literature focused on the use of cannabis or cannabinoids in the treatment of chronic or neuropathic pain. Authors identified 35 controlled studies, involving 2,046 subjects, assessing the use of marijuana or cannabinoids in pain management. In January, the National Academy of Sciences acknowledged that “conclusive or substantial evidence” exists for cannabis’ efficacy in patients suffering from chronic pain.

Cannabinoids have also been well studied as anti-emetic agents and as appetite stimulants. Researchers identified 43 trials evaluating marijuana or its components for these purposes, involving total 2,498 patients. They also identified an additional 14 trials examining the role of cannabis or cannabis-derived extracts in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Researchers also identified several additional trials evaluating the use of cannabis or cannabinoids for Crohn’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, epilepsy, and various other indications.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that new drugs typically gain FDA approval on the basis of one or two pivotal clinical trials.

Full text of the study, “Medicinal uses of marijuana and cannabinoids,” appears online here.


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CBE Top 100 list 2017 https://www.cannabisbusinessexecutive.com/2016/06/cannabis-business-executive-100-top-ancillary-businesses/?utm_source=CBE+Master+List&utm_campaign=04a6a9736f-2017+CBE+Ancillary+Business+list+Survey&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1f64189714-04a6a9736f-264218709

https://www.cannabisbusinessexecutive.com/2016/06/cannabis-business-executive-100-top-ancillary-businesses/?utm_source=CBE+Master+List&utm_campaign=04a6a9736f-2017+CBE+Ancillary+Business+list+Survey&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1f64189714-04a6a9736f-264218709

 


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Chris Driessen from ORGANA BRANDS — Celebrate commoditization and the birth of “Big Cannabis”

Celebrate commoditization and the birth of “Big Cannabis”

by Chris Driessen

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.


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Leafly Launches German-Language Edition

Leafly German

Leafly.de is a medical cannabis information resource and knowledge portal

BERLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Leafly, the world’s cannabis information resource, has arrived in Germany with the launch of www.Leafly.de, a German-language medical cannabis information resource and knowledge portal. The new German-language version of Leafly capitalizes on the expertise Leafly has cultivated over the past seven years as the world’s most visited cannabis website. As one of Leafly’s most prominent international ventures to date, Leafly.de formalizes Leafly’s commitment to providing reliable, accessible information about cannabis to people in Germany and around the world.

Leafly’s arrival in Germany was celebrated this week at a launch event in Berlin. Medical cannabis patients and representatives from the media joined Leafly’s editorial team to participate in a lively exchange on the topic of medical cannabis. Leafly’s inaugural German-language editorial team includes a range of healthcare experts, including science journalists, researchers, and a doctor. The launch of Leafly.de follows Leafly’s appearance at Berlin’s annual Hanfparade last year. Hanfparade is the largest pro-cannabis and hemp event in Germany that has taken place every year since 1997.

Leafly is the world’s leading cannabis website and mobile application, generating more than 12 million unique visits per month and more than 60 million page views. Approximately 70 percent of Leafly’s traffic comes from the United States and 30 percent originates from international destinations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. With the launch of Leafly.de, Leafly is now available in English, Spanish, French, and German.

Leafly.de initially will focus on several subject areas of immediate concern to medical cannabis patients and their healthcare providers. Visitors to the site can learn more about Germany’s recent medical cannabis reforms, how those changes affect them, and how they can become medical cannabis patients. News and analysis regarding medical cannabis laws and the supply of licensed cannabis-derived medicines will also be covered. In addition, Leafly.de will serve as a guide for doctors, pharmacists, and other medical professionals to learn more about the medical use of cannabis for conditions such as chronic pain.

Leafly.de taps into Leafly’s global coverage of cannabis science, medicine, and patient trends. Visitors will find the latest scientific research, patient surveys, and breaking news. The site also features a comprehensive cannabis dictionary featuring information from the anatomy of the cannabis plant to breaking policy news in Germany. The depth of Leafly’s expertise is why millions of people around the world visit Leafly every month for cannabis news and information.

Visit http://www.Leafly.de for more information.

About Leafly

As the world’s largest cannabis information resource, Leafly’s mission is to help patients and consumers make informed choices about cannabis and to empower cannabis businesses to attract and retain loyal customers through advertising and technology services. Learn more at http://www.leafly.com or download the five-star rated Leafly mobile app through Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

Original press release: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170512005681/en/Leafly-Launches-German-Language-Edition