The “King of Weed”: For Cannabis Investors, the MORE Act Means More Profit

Kings Garden CEO Michael King, the self-described “King of Weed,” tells Jessica Stone why cannabis investors need federal decriminalization. Cannabis Capitalist editor Tom Carroll joins with his prediction on when we’ll see the MORE Act become law.

Why federal cannabis legalization may be months away: https://stansberryinvestor.com/media-article/336364

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Study: Persistent Cannabis Use Associated With Reduced Body Mass Index

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East Lansing, MI: The use of cannabis over time is inversely related to obesity, according to data published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

A team of Michigan State University researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis use and body mass index (BMI) over time in a nationally representative sample of 33,000 subjects.

Investigators reported that cannabis-using subgroups exhibited “appreciably attenuated BMI gain” over the trial period as compared to non-users and quitters, “with the largest attenuation seen in the ‘persistent use’ group.”

They concluded: “This new prospective study builds from anecdotes, pre-clinical studies and cross-sectional evidence on inverse associations linking cannabis use and obesity and shows an inverse cannabis–BMI increase association. Confirmatory studies with rigorous cannabis and BMI assays will be needed.”

Several prior population-based studies, such as those herehere, and here, have similarly reported an inverse relationship between cannabis use and obesity.

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Congress: Over 25 Percent Of House Members Sign On To Marijuana Banking Act

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Washington, DC: More than one-quarter of US House members have signed on to newly introduced legislation to facilitate greater access to banking for state-licensed cannabis operators.

The 2019 version of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act was introduced last Thursday and now has 113 co-sponsors — the most ever for a marijuana law reform bill.

Under federal law, banks and other financial institutions are discouraged from entering into relationships with marijuana-specific businesses. This has led to the industry operating on a largely ‘cash-only’ basis.

Last month, members of the US House, Consumer Protection and Financial Institution Subcommittee heard testimony in favor of federal banking reform. NORML submitted testimony to the Committee, opining: “In short, no industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions and it is self-evident that this industry, and those consumers that are served by it, will remain severely hampered without better access to credit and financing. Ultimately, Congress must amend federal policy so that these growing numbers of state-compliant businesses, and those millions of Americans who patronize them, are no longer subject to policies that needlessly place them in harm’s way.”

The SAFE Banking Act is one of several marijuana-related bills introduced in Congress in recent days. Other legislation includes The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019The Marijuana Justice ActThe Next Step Act, and The Marijuana Data Collection Act of 2019.

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Report: State-Licensed Marijuana Businesses Employ Over 200,000 Full-Time Workers

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Seattle, WA: The state-licensed cannabis industry gained over 64,000 new employees in 2018, and now employs over 200,000 full-time workers, according to data compiled by Whitney Economics and the online content provider Leafly.com.

The report, entitled Cannabis Jobs Count, identifies some 211,000 full-time jobs in the legal cannabis sector. This total increases to 296,000 jobs when ancillary employers are also included.

By comparison, 112,000 Americans are estimated to currently work in the textile industry, while only about 52,000 people are employed by the coal mining industry.

“[T]he legal cannabis industry remains a substantial and unrecognized engine of grassroots job creation,” authors concluded. “In fact, cannabis job growth is proceeding at double digit rates in many states despite being overtaxed locally and heavily penalized at the federal level.”

California (67,000 jobs) led the country in cannabis-related employment, followed by Washington (47,000 jobs), and Colorado (44,000 jobs).

Commenting on the findings, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “The federal government needs to deschedule marijuana to allow states to better and more fully benefit from the economic growth engine that is the legal marijuana industry. Further, state regulators need to ensure as this sector expands its economic benefits are shared by all, including and most especially by those who suffered most under the failed policy of criminal prohibition.”

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Studies: Cannabis Exposure Not Associated With Changes In Brain Morphology

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Philadelphia, PA: Cannabis exposure is not associated with significant changes in brain morphology in either older or younger subjects, according to a pair of newly published studies.

In the first study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine compared brain scans of occasional (one to two times per week) and frequent (more than three times per week) marijuana consumers versus nonusers. Subjects were between 14 and 22 years of age.

Investigators reported: “There were no significant differences by cannabis group in global or regional brain volumes, cortical thickness, or gray matter density, and no significant group by age interactions were found. Follow-up analyses indicated that values of structural neuroimaging measures by cannabis group were similar across regions, and any differences among groups were likely of a small magnitude.”

They concluded, “In sum, structural brain metrics were largely similar among adolescent and young adult cannabis users and non-users.”

The findings appear in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

In the second study, researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in 28 cannabis users over the age of 60 versus matched controls. Cannabis consuming participants, on average, had used marijuana weekly for 24 years.

Authors reported that long-term cannabis exposure “does not have a widespread impact on overall cortical volumes while controlling for age, despite over two decades of regular cannabis use on average. This is in contrast to the large, widespread effects of alcohol on cortical volumes that might be expected to negatively impact cognitive performance.” Researchers also reported “no significant differences between groups” with regard to cognitive performance.

They concluded: “The current study was able to explore cannabis use in a novel older adult population that has seen recent dramatic increases in cannabis use while controlling for likely confounding variables (e.g., alcohol use). The participants in this study were generally healthy and highly educated, and it is in this context that cannabis use showed limited effects on brain structural measures or cognitive performance.”

The findings appear in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

The studies’ conclusions are similar to those of prior trials finding no significant long-term changes in brain structure attributable to cannabis exposure.

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Study: Marijuana Liberalization Policies Not Associated With Significant Upticks In Youth Use

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Boston, MA: State laws liberalizing marijuana’s criminal status are not associated over the long-term with any significant uptick in youth use, according to data published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

A team of researchers from Boston College assessed marijuana use data in a cohort of 860,000 adolescents from 45 states over a period of 16 years (1999 to 2015).

They reported that states which enacted medical cannabis access laws experienced overall reductions in teen use compared to non-legal states, and that this decrease grew stronger over time. “We found that for every group of 100 adolescents, one fewer will be a current user of marijuana following the enactment of medical marijuana laws,” the study’s lead researcher said in a press release.

Investigators also reported that state laws decriminalizing marijuana penalties for recreational use did not experience “significant shifts in use for the sample as a whole,” though they acknowledged a minor uptick in self-reported use among whites and a small decline in consumption among Hispanics and those 14 years of age.

They added, “Neither policy was significantly associated with heavy marijuana use or the frequency of use, suggesting that heavy users may be impervious to such policy signals.”

Authors concluded, “[These] results assuage concerns over potential detrimental effects of more liberal marijuana policies on youth use.”

The findings are consistent with those of dozens of prior studies concluding that neither liberalizing marijuana penalties nor regulating retail cannabis access is typically associated with increases in young people’s use of cannabis or its availability.

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Study: Cannabis Use Associated With Metabolic Benefits

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Santander, Spain: Cannabis use is associated with sustained effects on weight and metabolism, including lower body mass index (BMI) and lower overall cholesterol levels, according to the results of a three-year longitudinal study published in The Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Spanish researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis and weight over a three-year period in a cohort of 510 subjects. Participants in the study were classified as either ‘continuers,’ ‘discontinuers,’ and ‘non-users.’

At the study’s initiation, cannabis users presented “lower weight, body mass index, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol compared to non-users,” investigators reported. Differences in weight, BMI, and LDL levels remained consistent over the three-years among those subjects who continued to consume cannabis. By contrast, those patients who discontinued using cannabis use over the course of the study “presented a higher increase in weight, body mass index, and triglyceride-high-density lipoprotein ratio than the ‘non-users’ and ‘continuers.'”

Authors concluded, “Thus, we may interpret that cannabis consumption has a protective effect on metabolism, which is reflected in clinical terms.”

The study’s results are consistent with a number of prior trials — such as those herehere, and here — finding that a history of marijuana use is associated with a lower prevalence of obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

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Patients Frequently Substitute Cannabis For Anti-Anxiety Drugs

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Halifax, Canada: Patients authorized to legally use medical cannabis frequently substitute it in place of benzodiazepines, according to a pair of new studies. Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety. According to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control, benzodiazepines were attributed to over 11,500 overdose deaths in 2017.

In the first study, Canadian researchers assessed the relationship between cannabis and benzodiazepines in a cohort of 146 patients enrolled in the nation’s medical marijuana access program. They reported that 30 percent of participants discontinued their use of anti-anxiety medications within two months of initiating cannabis therapy and that 45 percent did so by six months.

“Patients initiated on medical cannabis therapy showed significant benzodiazepine discontinuation rates after their first follow-up visit to their medical cannabis prescriber, and continued to show significant discontinuation rates thereafter,” authors concluded.

In the second study, investigators at the University of Michigan surveyed over 1,300 state-registered medical cannabis patients with regard to their use of opioids and benzodiazepines. They reported that 53 percent of respondents acknowledged substituting marijuana for opioids, and 22 percent did so for benzodiazepines.

The studies’ findings are consistent with numerous other papers — such as those hereherehere, and here— documenting patients’ use of cannabis in place of a variety of prescription drugs, particularly opioids and anti-anxiety medications.

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Study: Medical Cannabis Access Associated With Decreased Use Of Opioids

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Little Rock, AR: The enactment of medical cannabis access laws is associated with moderately lower levels of prescription opioid use, even after controlling for potentially confounding variables, according to datapublished in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

A team of investigators from the University of Arkansas assessed prescription drug use data in a nationally representative sample of nearly five million Americans for the years 2006 to 2014.

In a finding that is consistent with those of several other studies, authors concluded: “Medical marijuana legalization was associated with lower odds of opioid use, chronic opioid use, and high-risk opioid use when controlling for many state-level and patient-level factors. … These results suggest that MML (medical marijuana laws) could be one policy tool that may modestly decrease opioid use; chronic and high- risk opioid use in a landscape where pain management options are limited and opioid misuse and addiction are rising rapidly.”

Observational studies have similarly reported that medical cannabis access states possess lower rates of opioid-related use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality as compared to jurisdictions without operating medical marijuana programs.

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California: Regulators Finalize Rules Permitting Cannabis Home Deliveries

Sacramento, CA: State regulators gave final approval last week to regulations governing the commercial sale of cannabis, including rulespermitting its home delivery.

Under the plan, licensed businesses will be able to home deliver cannabis to adults — including those who reside in localities that have otherwise prohibited retail cannabis sales. An estimated 390 of the states 482 cities do not currently authorize retail cannabis operations.

The League of California Cities opposes the new home-delivery rules and some experts anticipate that the regulations could eventually lead to litigation between municipalities and state regulators.

The new rules take immediate effect.

 

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