420 with CNW – UC San Diego Researchers to Study Effect of Cannabis on Essential Tremors

Researchers at the University College San Diego have announced their intention to investigate the effect of using cannabis extracts to treat or manage essential tremor.

The announcement came after the group of researchers (led by Dr. Fatta Nahab) got permission from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) to import capsules of CBD and THC from Tilray, a Canadian-based cannabis company. Tilray conducted an initial public offering (IPO) in the U.S.

The researchers opted to import the capsules since none are available from the sole source of cannabis for research purposes (University of Mississippi). Capsules were preferred for this study because of two main reasons.

The first reason is that it would be easy for the researchers to control how much cannabis the study subjects received. This isn’t easy to do if the subjects smoke or vape the product.

Secondly, capsules were thought to be more acceptable to the study subjects who may have had issues with being asked to smoke or vaporize the cannabis.

The researchers had to jump through numerous hoops in order to get approval for the importation of the cannabis. For example, they had to submit the designs of the study to the research review panel of California as well as explain that the selected ratio of 20:1 CBD and THC was tailored to minimize the high and possible addiction by the patients who consumed the products during the study. The regulatory hurdles faced by the researchers are well known to companies like Lexaria Bioscience Corp (CSE: LXX) (OTC:LXRP) and Phivida Holdings Inc. (CSE: VIDA) (OTC:PHVAF), who have the eagle eye of regulators on everything they do.

The research team hopes to enroll 16 to 20 essential tremor patients to participate in this study that is expected to begin early next year and run for a year or more.

It is hoped that the study will provide scientific evidence for the anecdotal claims that essential tremor patients improved when they consumed cannabis. The researchers want to discover how much cannabis is sufficient to produce the desired results without triggering any adverse effects.

Such a cure would be a major breakthrough, since there is no medication designed for managing or treating essential tremor (ET). Patients are given high blood pressure medication or epilepsy drugs to manage this neurological disorder. The results of such interventions vary widely.

About 10 million Americans suffer from ET, and the condition is often mistaken for Parkinson’s disease. The International Essential Tremor Foundation and Tilray have funded the research. Tilray insists it will not have any say in the outcome of the study.

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420 with CNW – Drama Characterizes Passing of Cannabis Bill by Congressional Committee

The Medical Cannabis Research Act was finally passed by the House Judiciary Committee of Congress. This was the first time in 50 years that a Republican-dominated congressional committee has passed any legal cannabis reform legislation.

Republic Mathew Gaetz and 40 other cosponsors set the momentum rolling for the Thursday vote, which paved the way for additional facilities to get licenses to grow research-grade cannabis.

Congressman Matt Gaetz said that the U.S. had for too long been trapped in a catch-22 situation in which cannabis laws couldn’t be revised due to the absence of sufficient scientific research, yet that needed research could not be conducted due to the existing legal restrictions. Gaetz said that this “logjam” would be untangled by the Act.

Committee chair Bob Goodlatte echoed similar sentiments in his statement on the matter. He said that, while differing opinions exist on the subject of marijuana, there was agreement that scientific information/research was needed to guide the debate.

The statement by Bob Goodlatte could explain why he changed from his opposition to approving any law legalizing any form of cannabis to supporting this Act, which will allow researchers to study the possible medical value of the substance.

The committee sitting did have its share of controversy, however.

Serious objections were mounted to clauses that barred anyone with a drugs-related conviction, whether a misdemeanor or felony conviction, from participating in the legal cannabis industry.

Human Rights Watch, the Drug Policy Alliance and other advocacy groups read statements denouncing those clauses that exclude citizens who have already served punishments for their infractions.

Their view is that ex-convicts should be helped to get employment rather than be hindered from becoming productive members of their communities.

Gaetz shocked committee members when he confessed that the language in question wasn’t in his original draft of the bill. However, he was prevailed upon by cannabis industry firms to include that wording in order to keep “riff-raff” from applying for a cannabis research or cultivation license! Companies like Earth Science Tech, Inc. (OTCQB: ETST) and Pacific Software, Inc. (OTC: PFSF) would certainly not be party to such an action since they believe in free and ethical enterprise.

Committee chairman Goodlatte promised to find a way to address the concerns about that “unacceptable” language/clause before the Act is forwarded to the entire house for a vote.

It is widely believed that the Senate will be an easier ground for the Act to navigate and obtain approval.

What is now left is to wait for the Act to be scheduled on the business of Congress. When will that happen? Your guess is as good as ours.

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420 with CNW – Ottawa Police Department Rejects Cannabis Roadside Test Kits

The police department in Ottawa, Canada, has rejected the roadside test kits which the federal government approved for catching drivers who are impaired by the consumption of marijuana.

DrugTest 5000, already in use in several states across the U.S., was introduced in Canada ahead of the October 17 date when recreational cannabis will be available across the country. The Ottawa P.D. cites a number of reasons for its stance.

First, the police say that the DrugTest 5000 kits are very expensive. Each unit reportedly costs $6,000. The regulations in place require the police to conduct a cannabis test as soon as a driver is suspected of being impaired. This means that every police patrol vehicle would have to be equipped with the test kit, an undertaking that would take a lot of money.

Secondly, the sample of saliva taken must be kept at a certain temperature in order to give reliable results once tested for THC. This is too much of a hassle for the police department to deal with on a daily basis.

More opposition to the test kits is resulting from the information filtering in from across the border in the U.S. Apparently, the devices have been successfully challenged in the courts of law for being unreliable, since so much is left to the subjective assessment of the officer selecting drivers to screen.

Some people have even said the cannabis test process is as effective as “tossing a coin” to determine whether someone was impaired due to the presence of marijuana in their blood.

Another fundamental question that needs to be answered is how much THC (tetrahydrocannabinoid) is sufficient to cause impairment. Experts seem to agree that it isn’t as clear cut as is the case with the blood alcohol level detected during a Breathalyzer test.

In light of the above, it seems that the Ottawa Police Department is onto something by rejecting these roadside test kits, which currently appear to be expensive gadgets whose results may not stand up to legal scrutiny.

The decision to train more drug recognition experts may be a smarter move by the Ottawa Police Department, since it provides a better way to identify and possibly prosecute those who will drive under the influence of marijuana. One is left wondering what the thoughts of companies like Choom Holdings Inc. (CSE: CHOO) (OTC: CHOOF) and Hiku Brands Co. Ltd (CSE: HIKU) (OTC: DJACF) may be on this matter.

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420 with CNW – Washington D.C. Sees Spike of Synthetic Marijuana Overdoses

It seems the synthetic marijuana overdoses that had the authorities in Washington, D.C worried in July have resurfaced after a lull. In one 24-hour period alone, first responders were called to assist dozens of people who exhibited severe signs of distress from K2 or Spice, a known synthetic form of cannabis.

Even more distressing is the fact that students witnessed some of the victims being helped on the street as the students were strolling about during their break. This was near Mundo Verde Bilingual Public School. The authorities responded by imposing restrictions on how far students could go during their break.

Some of the symptoms exhibited by the people overdosing on K2 are particularly worrying. The known chemicals from which K2 are made don’t usually cause users to bleed in the way that some of the D.C. victims have been seen to bleed.

One possible explanation for that bleeding may have been found after toxicological tests revealed that the synthetic marijuana was laced with the chemical brodifacoum. This is a substance that is used to make rat poison and other pesticides.

The chemical stops vitamin K from doing its work in the blood of the organisms that ingest it. Consequently, vital processes, such as blood clotting, will be affected, and bleeding will result.

The consumers, especially low-income people, don’t seem to be bothered by the risk of K2 and other synthetic forms of marijuana. To them, all that seems matters is that they get a high at an affordable cost.

Authorities say that they have been compelled to play cat and mouse games with the people who make or distribute these synthetic forms of marijuana. This is because the chemicals used are often permitted chemicals, except that the formulas used aren’t approved. Banning one chemical found to be harmful only spurs the makers of the product to switch to another unknown product.

Furthermore, distributors often escape regulatory scrutiny by labeling the synthetic marijuana as “not for human consumption”. The CDC, DEA and other agencies are therefore often chasing a ghost that is hard to pin down.

However, the authorities are now determined to hunt down and stamp out these dangerous products whose overdoses have reached crisis level and are spreading to various parts of the country.

The big question on many people’s minds is that if this is happening in Washington, D.C., where marijuana is legal, can something be done to make the legal product more affordable for those with limited means? You can bet your last dollar that Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTC: MCOA) and NUGL Inc. (OTC: NUGL) are praying that these products be wiped out so that the industry doesn’t get a bad reputation at this early stage.

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420 with CNW – Cannabis and Crypto

Cannabis firms have fought regulations and misconceptions for quite a long time as they have made attempts to inform the public on the medical benefits of the plant. In the recent couple of years, cannabis companies have started recording a surge in interest, as evidenced by their monthly record sales. Investors in Wall Street project that the industry will attain a valuation of $75 billion by the end of 2030.

Almost coincidentally, cryptos have also been enjoying a surge in popularity, with values of top cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum hitting record levels. Toward the end of 2017, the total market capitalization of the cryptocurrency industry hit $600 billion.

Apart from the growth prospects of the two industries, both experience legal uncertainty, high-risk environments and tighter government regulations. This makes cannabis and cryptos perfect partners.

How Blockchain is Facilitating Cannabis Trade

The blockchain technology that is the backbone of crypto transactions can help the cannabis industry to secure its exchange transactions. The cannabis trade has been criticized for channeling funds into the black market. With the blockchain, these worries can be put to rest and loopholes for fraud and funds leakages into the underworld sealed.

When this happens, both the crypto and cannabis industries can legitimize their activities in today’s dynamic modern economy. For instance, in the United States, only Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts have legalized marijuana for both recreation and medical use. The rest of the states have legalized the drug only for medical use.

Using cryptocurrency to facilitate transactions in the cannabis market is hugely important. This is because it widens the playing field and promotes inclusion to other groups all around the globe that previously were secluded from the trade. Since cannabis is still a Schedule I drug together with methamphetamine and heroin, players in this industry are barred from using bank accounts.

Any attempts by the banking system to facilitate cannabis payments could lead to dire legal consequences, including charges for money laundering. The exclusion of the banking system also renders the use of credit and debit cards impossible. Operations for cannabis businesses in the U.S. are cash-based.

Legitimizing the Cannabis Industry through Crypto

Cryptocurrency companies have come up to support trading activities and other development initiatives within the cannabis industry. One of the companies offering blockchain technology solutions customized for the cannabis industry is Pacific Software Inc. (OTC: PFSF). The company seeks to improve the compliance, transparency and efficiency of cannabis supply in states where it has been legalized.

Cannabis companies and traders who want to use the company’s Hyperledger blockchain applications are required to pay transaction fees, cash, loyalties and other forms of payment depending on the nature of the transactions.

GreenBox POS, LLC (OTC: GRBX) has also built customized payment solutions for different industries, including cannabis. The point of sale system is fully integrated, easy to use and intuitive.

By connecting buyers and sellers, crypto firms are creating a legitimate, centralized online meeting place where cannabis enthusiasts can share information and engage with one another. Usually, participants are rewarded with crypto coins that can be exchanged for goods and services or converted to fiat currency.

Any effort to boost accountability and transparency in the logistics and supply chain of cannabis is therefore welcome. The adoption of blockchain technology is yielding positive effects by fighting the social stigma around the sale and use of marijuana. As this positive ecosystem expands, buyers and sellers will feel safe, just like any other participants in a market platform.

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Canadian Cannabis Legalization Set to Transform the Industrial Hemp Industry

CannabisNewsWire Editorial Coverage: The legalization of cannabis in Canada is about to bring big changes not just for medical cannabis companies but for hemp growers as well.

  • The law legalizing recreational cannabis in Canada will come into force on October 17.
  • This will create new opportunities for hemp growers to produce the plant for CBD extraction.
  • Hemp growers will now be able to profit from all parts of the plant.
  • Cannabis companies are experimenting with growing techniques, expanding their businesses, and seeking supply agreements in preparation for the change.

Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTC: MCOA) (MCOA Profile), which grows industrial hemp in Canada, will now be able to sell leaves and flowers as well as other parts of its plants, and is preserving this year’s crop in preparation for the change. In the United States, Isodiol International, Inc. (OTC: ISOLF) is raising the profile of the industry through a celebrity partnership and the expansion of its retail chain. Aurora Cannabis, Inc. (OTC: ACBFF) has been acquiring financing to fund a program of expansions and takeovers, preparing the way to dominate the American market. Organigram Holdings, Inc. (OTC: OGRMF) and Emerald Health Therapeutics (OTC: EMHTF) have both set up a string of supply agreements, giving them quick access to the Canadian recreational market come October.

To view an infographic of this editorial, click here.

Transforming Canada’s Cannabis Industry

On October 17, cannabis will become legal in Canada. Under the provisions of the Cannabis Act, Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis for recreational as well as medical purposes. Careful licensing, together with clear rules around cultivation and processing, will ensure that a previously illegal industry becomes a well-regulated part of the legal economy. As Prime Minister Trudeau said when the law was passed, “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana — and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that.”

The Cannabis Act promises to be a great boon to the Canadian economy. Since 2014, the Canadian medical cannabis industry has grown to include over 100 licensed companies, many of which will be able to expand their sales and research under the new rules. In a year’s time, further rules will come into force that allow the sale of concentrates and edible cannabis products, creating a cannabis food and drink industry. But one of the biggest changes will take place within the industrial hemp industry.

Cannabis without the High

While the term “cannabis” is most often used to refer to plants with psychoactive effects, it actually covers a broader range of crops. One of the most historically prevalent varieties of cannabis is industrial hemp, a form of cannabis grown by companies such as the Marijuana Company of America (OTC: MCOA).

Industrial hemp is distinct from more controversial forms of cannabis — marijuana — in that it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient that gets users high, but rather it contains cannabidiol (CBD), which has recently grown in popularity due to its variety of medicinal benefits. Hemp was used for hundreds of years to produce fibers for cloth and rope and was widely grown in North America. But for most of the past century, it has been out of production thanks to broad-ranging anti-cannabis legislation.

The past few years have seen a resurgence for industrial hemp. Legislation created for the cultivation of medical marijuana has created the opportunity for companies such as MCOA to grow hemp in Canada. In the United States, the 2014 Farm Bill created legal space for trial crops of hemp. That bill’s 2018 successor appears set to make it entirely legal in the United States, allowing farmers to grow a highly profitable new crop.

The passing of the Cannabis Act will further improve the potential of hemp in Canada, as it will allow producers to extract cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabidiol is an active ingredient that’s commonly found in high concentrations in certain varieties of industrial hemp. It doesn’t have the psychoactive properties of THC but has been shown to have beneficial effects on health. As a result, it’s used in a growing variety of health and wellness products, including MCOA’s brand hempSMART.

Using the Whole Plant

Up until now, Canadian hemp producers have been limited in what they can do with the plant. The seeds could be extracted and used; fibers could be turned into textiles; and leftover elements known as hurds could be turned into either animal feed or construction materials. The use of leaves and flowers was specifically prohibited.

The Cannabis Act allows for a broader range of uses. Health Canada has proposed the introduction of new industrial hemp licenses to make this a reality. Under the proposed system, industrial hemp producers will be able to sell the whole plant or any of its parts to other licensed operators within the hemp industry. They could even process it themselves, extracting CBD oil as well as seeds, fibers and hurds.

It’s a change that will create a more efficient and profitable industry, as parts of the plant will no longer go to waste. And growing interest in CBD as a wellness ingredient could lead to a significant rise in income for hemp farmers. Companies such as MCOA, whose operations cover the whole industrial chain from hemp production to the sale of CBD products, will be able to build solid, sustainable supply chains that maximize profits at every step.

This is all before taking into account the possibility of agricultural subsidies. There is currently disagreement within Canada over whether cannabis growers will be eligible for subsidies under existing rules, but with the arrival of cannabis-based foods and beverages next year, lines will become increasingly blurry. MCOA and its joint venture partner, Global Hemp Group Inc., have received financial support from Canadian government agencies to research hemp cultivation. As the commercial landscape changes, hemp producers may soon find themselves eligible for even more government help.

Sowing the Seeds for a Growing Industry

MCOA’s growth in the Canadian hemp sector comes through its establishment of a high-yielding CBD hemp cultivation project in New Brunswick (NB). This collaboration with Global Hemp Group has revived hemp cultivation in the region 20 years after a previous effort failed.

The joint venture partners are in process of completion of the first phase of what is known as the Hemp Agro-Industrial Zone, or HAIZ. The aim of the HAIZ is to provide a steady supply of hemp by building a local industrial cluster, guaranteeing a market for farmers and leading to year-round jobs for others in the region. Through trial crops and careful measurement of the results, the project is providing valuable data on important issues such as pests, fertilizers and growth rates.

Recent developments at the site include the installation of drying equipment in preparation for processing. In the short term, this will allow the company to effectively store its current harvest until it can be sold and processed under the rules coming in October. In the longer term, it will increase its options for growing, processing and selling hemp. The joint venture partners are currently in the process of negotiating off-take agreements with extraction companies to sell the biomass produced during the October harvest in New Brunswick.

MCOA and its partners in New Brunswick have been finding ingenious ways to improve techniques impeded by decades outside the law. This year, the team in NB experimented with a modified bean harvester to strip leaves and flowers from the plants without picking up much straw. Based on the results, this technique is being extended to the entire 125-acre project.

Cannabis Cultivation Creates New Industry

In less than two decades, a whole new industry has grown up around the cultivation of hemp and other forms of cannabis. Even with restrictions still tight in much of the world, companies are finding ways to legally profit from these crops.

Isodiol International, Inc. (OTC: ISOLF) has become an important and active voice for the industry, employing former NFL player Marvin Washington as a director and spokesperson. The company has developed a variety of cannabis and CBD-derived products, tapping into the medical and vaping markets. Its KURE Corp subsidiary provides a strong retail front and has recently set its sights on further expansion through new and acquired shops.

A prominent player within the industry, Aurora Cannabis, Inc. (OTC: ACBFF) is making the most of a young market to rapidly expand its business. A $150 million loan from the Bank of Montreal is giving it a short-term financial boost to get ahead of the long-term game. It’s this sort of long-term thinking that has led the company to acquisitions such as the takeover of MedReleaf, increasing Aurora’s market share. Some commentators have compared this strategy with that of Amazon, focusing on market dominance as the route to profit.

Organigram Holdings, Inc. (OTC: OGRMF), a medical cannabis company, is preparing to expand into Canada’s recreational market in October. The company has established a number of agreements with other companies, most recently the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, to supply its products to stores. These agreements will ensure that the legal recreational market quickly grows from a principle to a reality.

Emerald Health Therapeutics (OTC: EMHTF) is also setting up supplier agreements to give it a place in the recreational starting lineup. Its partners include the Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation and Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation.

The Canadian cannabis industry is set to experience a transformation on October 17, one that will prepare companies to expand as laws change elsewhere in the world. From medical cannabis companies to hemp growers, many business enterprises are likely to profit from this change.

For more information on Marijuana Company of America, visit Marijuana Company of America, Inc. (OTC: MCOA)

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420 with CNW – Massachusetts Credit Union to Offer Banking Services to Cannabis Industry

The GFA Federal Credit Union has become the first financial institution to announce that it is opening its doors to recreational and medical cannabis businesses in Massachusetts.

The announcement, due to take effect on October 1, brings a huge sigh of relief to numerous legitimate cannabis businesses that have struggled to attain the same level of recognition as other kinds of legal businesses within the state.

GFA Credit Union revealed that it studied the legal and business sense of making its move for about a year and finally decided to open its doors to this young industry.

GFA’s CEO, Tina Sbrega, said that its decision was primarily motivated by public safety concerns regarding such huge amounts of cash being left on the street. Robberies, money laundering, tax evasion and other related crimes were likely to escalate as the industry, currently worth millions of dollars in the state of Massachusetts, was left to operate as a cash-based industry.

Her public safety concerns are echoed by law enforcement agencies who welcomed the decision to provide banking services to the cannabis industry.

To be fair, Tina Sbrega admitted that GFA stands to benefit by adding businesses in the marijuana industry to its clientele.

However, not all is rosy for the cannabis industry as yet.

Initially, GFA Federal Credit Union will only accept a limited number of cannabis businesses as clients. Those selected businesses must meet all the existing requirements for operating a recreational or medical cannabis establishment. For example, the businesses must be licensed and have a letter of approval from the local authority where that business is based.

This restriction on how many cannabis businesses will be allowed to become GFA clients will leave all the others in the cold, unless more financial institutions step up to the plate and absorb them.

Many financial institutions are likely to drag their feet on this issue since they are unsure about the likely legal complications that may come from dealing with players in an industry that is regarded as illegal at the federal level. However, it is hoped that more will eventually follow GFA’s lead in order to get their cut of the pie presented by the recreational and medical cannabis industry.

The second speed bump for cannabis businesses is that even those lucky few who are taken on as GFA Credit Union clients will not immediately have access to loans to finance their operations. The credit union says that it will consider starting loan disbursements next year.

GFA Federal Credit Union wants to use these initial months of taking on cannabis businesses as clients to study how this relationship pans out before expanding to the provision of loans.

As any optimist would put it, the step by GFA Federal Credit Union may be small, but it is a major trail-blazing step that is sure to change the relationship between cannabis businesses and financial institutions for the better. At the very least, it is a major piece of good news for companies like Green Hygienics Holdings Inc. (GRYN) and GreenBox POS, LLC (GRBX) that may sniff new opportunities for growth and expansion from this horizon that has been expanded by the events in Massachusetts.

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