The legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois is only weeks away. Here are some FAQs for potential consumers.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? Many existing dispensaries have online menus of their products—those are often prices for medical customers, so slightly higher than the ballpark of what recreational users can expect. MOCA, the self-described “modern cannabis dispensary” in Logan Square, currently offers $15 pre-rolled 1 gram joints, or $35 for 5 half gram joints. Vape cartridges at MOCA run for $60, four cookies cost about $25, while 10 gummies cost $30.
A single gram of a cannabis flower at MedMar in Lakeview costs just under $20, according to their menu. Their pre-rolled 1 gram joints are also $20. Preloaded vape pens cost $30, but other varieties can cost twice that amount. The cost for a gram of concentrate hovers between about $55 and $65.
Products will also be subject to a 3% tax in the City of Chicago and a state tax that varies depending on the level of THC in the product. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is marijuana’s psychoactive component. If a product has a concentration of less than 35% THC, it will face a 10% tax. Cannabis-infused products with more than 35% THC will have a 20% tax, and marijuana with more than a 35% THC concentration will have a 25% tax.
On top of that, recreational users will also have to pay existing sales taxes “in the same manner as other general merchandise,” according to the state.
Abigail Williams, the marketing director at Dispensary 33 in Andersonville, says recreational customers will be able to walk in after showing an ID demonstrating they’re above 21 (they’ll have a state ID scanner) and make a purchase. “On Jan. 1 we’ll be doing a paging system like any busy restaurant . . . If there’s no wait, you can walk right in, browse, and make a purchase with one of our budtenders.” Products are visible in display cases.
Given that customers might not want to wait outside in the cold January weather, Williams says Dispensary 33 will have “coupons and deals for local businesses so they can go check out spaces nearby and kill time that way.”
HOW MUCH CAN YOU HAVE? Illinois residents can have up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrate, and no more than 30 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product.
Medical patients can have more under certain conditions, and can grow up to five plants in their home.
Non-Illinois residents, including tourists, can have 15 grams of cannabis flower, 2.5 grams of concentrate, and no more than 250 milligrams of THC in an infused product.
WHERE CAN YOU USE IT? Not in public places. State law bans consumption anywhere you can be observed by others in public and near other smoke-free spots. There aren’t current plans for on-site consumption in cafes or bars in Chicago, either.
This week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck said while balconies and backyards might be publicly viewable, the department recognizes that “poses no direct threat to public safety, and no resident should be arrested or ticketed solely for such a scenario.”
The city’s also changed its policy around impounding cars with marijuana inside—only those “unlawfully purchasing or selling cannabis using their vehicle” face impoundment.
People are prohibited from having an open container of cannabis in a vehicle, including passengers. Chicago police officers are being retrained on new policy.
Unlawful possession—including consuming in a prohibited place or having more than is legally allowed—will garner a $50 fine for the first offense and $100 for those that happen within 30 days after that.
WILL I GET IN TROUBLE AT WORK? That depends on your employer’s policy. As employment attorney Brian Paul pointed out in Crain’s recent forum series on cannabis, on Jan 1, “most Illinois employers will be prohibited from taking adverse employment actions, such as termination, suspension or discipline, for marijuana use—unless the employer can establish a good-faith belief the employee was under the influence of marijuana while at work.”
Because marijuana is still illegal federally, employers can enforce drug testing policies, including zero tolerance and drug-free workplaces if that policy is applied in a non-discriminatory fashion. Employees can also be prohibited from use, possession and impairment while in the workplace.
In a restless society whose insomniac citizens spend a reported $41 billion per year on sleep aids—and where tiredness or other consequences of an inability to rest costs $63 billion in “lost productivity,” a fuzzy metric but one with lots of alluring zeroes—something that does nothing but speed somnolence does something very big indeed.
Oddly enough, given Americans’ demonstrated inability and desperate desire to get some sleep, insomnia is not a specific qualifying condition for medicinal cannabis in any U.S. state with medical marijuana on the books. (Only in states where the law is broad—or “too lax,” as critics bemoan—such as California would sleeplessness qualify someone.)
Which is too bad, because consistent with the above hoary-but-true anecdote, in areas where recreational cannabis is available to adults 21 and over via legitimate commercial retail, sales of sleeping aids—some of which carry negative side effects, others of which just plain don’t work—plummeted, recently published research found.
Economics and psychology researchers at California Polytechnic State University and the University of New Mexico looked at sales of over-the-counter sleeping pills in select Colorado counties. They examined sales data before and after recreational cannabis sales began in that state in January 2014. In the years prior to legal pot sales, sales of sleep aids were steadily growing.
That stopped when legal cannabis entered the picture. Whenever a dispensary opened, though sales of all over-the-counter drugs stayed static, growth of sleep aid sales crashed, by 236%—and “this negative association grew with the size of the recreational cannabis market,” they reported in their research, published in the current issue of the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine.
Cannabis, they found, “appears to compete favorably” with over-the-counter sleep aids, particularly those containing the common antihistamines doxylamine and diphenhydramine (found in common name-brand, non-prescription medicines like Benadryl).
From this data, it’s not clear whether cannabis worked any better, but it seems clear that purchasers of over-the-counter sleep aids were ready to try a different option. As the researchers noted, about half of Americans report being unable to sleep to their satisfaction to some degree—and over-the-counter sleep aids just aren’t that great; 80% of OTC sleep-aid purchasers reported residual side effects—like drowsiness when they need to be alert, as well as the inability to concentrate or remember things.
But the findings also supplement earlier data demonstrating medical cannabis access leads to less prescription medication use—and that the old saw, popular among old-school cannabis heads, that “all cannabis use is medical” has some validity.
“For the first time, we show a statistically significant negative association between recreational access to cannabis and OTC sleep aid sales,” the researchers wrote, “suggesting that at least some recreational purchasers are using cannabis for therapeutic rather than recreational purposes.”
“Despite the current lack of extensive medical evidence,” they concluded, “the market evidence suggests that many consumers may be opting to use cannabis for treating their sleep disturbances.”
So why does weed put people to sleep, apparently? That wasn’t within the purview of the study—nor was the propensity for individuals to travel long distances to obtain cannabis rather than purchase OTC sleep aids closer to home. All of that will have to be sussed out with further research—but if all cannabis does to you or someone you know is put them off of their feet, they’re not alone, and they’re potentially looking at a way to disrupt an industry—and a malady—worth tens of billions of dollars.
Cannabis export from Israel has received the final government approval.
The Israeli cannabis industry has been stymied largely for quite a while, largely in part to U.S. President Trump asking the Prime Minister and defacto Minister of Health of Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu to halt the export of cannabis flower from Israel.
While no official explanation was provided, and rumors abound over what President Trump specifically leveraged with BiBi to halt exportation of cannabis, Israeli industry watchers opine that influential Israeli-American billionaire Miriam Adelson -who is a physician specializing in substance use disorder- is against cannabis legalization.
While it is questionable that the fate of an entire industry would rest on one powerful person’s opinion, it is not unfathomable. Regardless, exportation has been a non-starter in the tiny country causing a downturn in foreign investment.
Bureaucracy long ensnared the export issue. After the government allowed export, the execution of the approval got stuck, skeptically perhaps because of the two chaotic governmental elections which followed.
Currently Israel can technically export cannabis, but only after the domestic demand is met. Compounding the quagmire was not having enough medical cannabis available domestically for patients, let alone for export abroad. The sale and export of Israeli medical cannabis has frustrated local marijuana farmers, causing a harvest overflow. Subsequently, Israeli streets are currently flooded with otherwise unsellable herb. (Israel decriminalized adult use cannabis possession in April, of 2019.)
A white paper on Israel’s Medical Cannabis Innovation, published earlier this month, maps out the current industry and demonstrates the first time the government has officially endorsed the key players and validity of the medical cannabis sector.
Despite these recent steps forward, some feel that the export of Israeli grown cannabis will still not be an imminent driver of market growth, but that Israel’s medical, agricultural and scientific know-how will continue to be the legacy of the Israel Cannabis contribution.
To that point, while there is a moratorium on exports, research and development (R&D) in Israel continues to flourish and the country holds its position as an industry leader in cannabis science. Unsurprising, considering Israel has always led the way in cannabis R & D, beginning with Prof. Raphael Mechoulam and his partner Y. Gaoni’s discovery and isolation of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) molecules and his significant work in identifying the human body’s endocannabinoid system. Prof. Mechoulam, a pioneer in the field, also identified another active ingredient of the plant, cannabidiol (CBD).
Since then, Israel remains a leader. From the invention of Syqe, the world’s first metered-dosage medical marijuana inhaler, to its groundbreaking cancer research. These important breakthroughs are nearly impossible to replicate in the United States due to cannabis’ Schedule One classification as a restricted narcotic.
One company, Tress Capital, a US-based private equity fund, is betting big on Israel’s continued innovation. Remaining patiently undeterred by the pace of progress, Tress has been an investor in CannaTech, iCAN’s Tel-Aviv-based cannabis and technology focused conference, since its inception six years ago. In another vote of confidence in Israeli technical prowess, Tress recently invested in startup incubator, iCAN itself.
President of Tress Capital David Hess explains the impetus of his latest Israeli iCAN investment, exclusively to Sara Brittany Somerset for Forbes online.
“Tress investing in iCAN is a next step in a long-standing strategic relationship. The deal broadens our international exposure and has enabled collaboration on cross-border joint ventures to the benefit of portfolio companies, clients, and investors of both firms. Now more than ever, global market access equals competitive advantage – especially in the current market environment. In working together, our firms can provide investors with greater global intelligence and deal flow, and an unmatched one-stop access point for cannabis related companies to explore corporate development and global market opportunities,” said Hess.
While Tress is ramping up its Israeli investment strategy, and others place their bets on imminent exportation allowances, some Israeli cannabis industry insiders are hedging by pivoting to work in Africa and other regions.
Israeli cannabis company Tikun Olam, for example, created a USA subsidiary and licensed its cultivation technology to iaso for cultivation in Puerto Rico.
Israeli company Kanabo has sold to England-based Spinnaker, and is about to go public on the London Stock Exchange.
Laura Kam, President of Kam Global Strategies, a strategic communications company with many Israeli cannabis clients summizes on the current situation in Israel.
“There has been significant investment in cannabis farms and technology in Israel over the past several years with the view to export; but due to bureaucratic infighting and now, with a caretaker government that is unable to give the final regulatory nod to export its crops as flower, oil or in other forms, there is much angst within the Israeli cannabis ecosystem. Many have decided to invest their funds and technological know-how outside of the country, setting up farms in places like Malta and Uganda and investing in or founding cannabis companies around the world, from Poland to the United States to Australia and elsewhere.”
Israel is not out of the game by any means, but Kam believes that the inability to gain export rights has allowed other nations to catch-up in what should have been a slam-dunk for the startup nation.
It appears to be a shame that a country on the forefront of cannabis technology, research and innovation, is still unable to export domestically cultivated cannabis.
According to one attorney in Israel, the country’s restrictions on cannabis exportation is on the cusp of significant progress.
Adv. Hagit Weinstock, Founder and CEO of the Weinstock-Zehavi law firm, jumped on the cannabis legalization bandwagon in 2015, after an Israeli unregulated cultivator sought her legal advice on why he couldn’t seem to obtain a license. He was frustrated that no one in the government would advise him of the criteria, back when Israel had eight authorized growers.
Ms. Weinstock says that these chosen eight were the “round table of medical cannabis and wouldn’t want anyone interfering or competing with them,” until she represented their colleague’s claim. As a result, the farmer obtained his licensing criteria.
In Feb, 2017, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill regulating exports of locally grown cannabis. The bill’s author, MK Yoav Kisch, estimated these exports could bring the State of Israel more than $250 million annually. One month later, 40 farmers were awarded licenses.
Ms. Weinstock continued to fight on behalf of Israeli farmers, going as far as to align with the Industrialists Association to threaten to personally sue the Minister of Health for damages. Whether or not this was a publicity stunt, the catalyst for change, or completely unrelated, a week later the ministry published a set of instructions for exporters. (Ms. Weinstock’s fight is not entirely altruistic or patriotic, as she owns a cannabis company in Germany.)
Building on the momentum and representing their fight against the Ministry of Health all the way to the high court, to expedite the approval of exportation, Ms. Weinstock asserts that companies began receiving approval to start exporting in practice, as of last week.
Even if the moratorium on Israeli cannabis cultivation for export is officially lifted, not all Israeli cannabis companies are currently compliant under the complicated Good Manufacturing Practices certified for Europe (Eu-GMP). Therefore, once export is genuinely approved in praxis, it still must meet the additional logistical hurdles and stringent criteria for importation to Europe.
Ms. Weinstock and her representative assert that Israeli companies such as Panaxia, Breath of Life and Bazalet are Eu-GMP complaint and in the next step —the auditing process— for export to Germany. Others contradict this assement, assuring the audits must conclude before Eu-GMP certification is granted. Either way, the German audits will potentially take months before Israel’s cannabis is eventually dispersed outside its borders.
Marijuana is not only now legal in Washington, it is more popular than good ol’ carcinogenic, nicotine-spewing cigarettes. At least that’s true in Seattle, where weed edges out tobacco among people 18 and older, according to the research firm Nielsen.
Add the effects of legalization to all the big divides that separate Americans these days. While much of the country continues to arrest those who partake of marijuana, in the growing number of states that have legalized pot, the once dreaded drug has become just another vice that free people are allowed to choose if they are so inclined.
It is probably no surprise that the three cities in which citizens now pick a joint more often than a cancer stick are those hipster-loving soul mates: Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. Other parts of the country may judge us harshly, but do we care? Naw, we are too mellow for that, man. Stoned, baked and blissed out.
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For the last few years, products containing cannabidiol—the cannabis-derived compound commonly known as CBD—have proliferated, from vape pens to face creams, tinctures to dog treats.
But while CBD companies seem countless, a new one is likely to make a splash in the US market. On Tuesday, Canadian business news network BNN Bloomberg reported Canopy Growth—the world’s largest legal cannabis company, worth about $6.4 billion—quietly launched its new CBD brand, called First & Free. On its website, the brand is selling capsules and tinctures for prices ranging from $14.99 to $64.99 to customers in 31 US states, and says a cream will be coming soon. (Martha Stewart has also been tapped to consult on Canopy’s CBD-enhanced pet products.) A Canopy representative told BNN Bloomberg the site is in a testing phase and “early signs are positive.”
First & Free represents the Ontario, Canada-based producer’s first foray into the US market. In Canada, Canopy operates well-known cannabis brands and retailers including Tweed and Tokyo Smoke, and in November announced new cannabis-infused chocolates, beverages, and vapes—all newly legal categories for the Canadian market.
Because cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC by dry weight is still federally illegal in the US, hemp-derived CBD is something of a Trojan horse for Canadian producers who want to access the US market without breaking any laws. In January, Canopy announced a $100-150 million investment in a New York state “hemp industrial park” in a former vacuum-cleaner plant and then-CEO Bruce Linton said he expected to have CBD products on the US market by the end of 2019. (Canopy did not answer Quartz’s question about where the hemp for First & Free’s CBD is grown. The company only broke ground on the New York facility in late July.)
The analysts at Cowen and Company estimate that US hemp-derived CBD sales in 2018 were worth somewhere between $600 million and $2 billion. That’s a fraction of the legal US cannabis market—THC included—which analysts at New Frontier Data estimated was worth about $10.4 billion. Canopy is ready for that market too. In April, Canopy made a deal to buy the New York-based cannabis producer Acreage Holdings for $3.4 billion, contingent upon federal legalization in the US. In the meantime, they’ve got some CBD to sell.