Growing Your Cannabis Business in a Regulatory Firestorm

Until cannabis is legalized at the federal level, companies working with marijuana-based products will continue to face regulatory burdens that make conducting business rather difficult. Every week, I hear of a new hurdle for patients and companies, these roadblocks leave cannabis businesses at risk for regulatory action.

A strong business strategy for those producing, selling, promoting, and providing cannabis, whether it is recreational or medicinal, is to get involved with state legislators who are creating business guidelines. Far too often, companies wait until proposed rules are up for a vote to get involved. This leads not only to a significant amount of stress and last minute scrambling, but the fall out from burdensome regulations can kill cannabis businesses all together. If your company doesn’t have someone paying attention to your state’s legislative and administrative actions of cannabis regulation, you have a major problem.

It is important to protect your intellectual property, have properly executed contracts, put plans in place to protect patient data, and form a solid business plan. However, this means little if these contracts, agreements, and plans are not being reviewed by an attorney who understands the complexities of state regulatory actions and legislation on the horizon. Your business should be able to adapt to the ever evolving world of cannabis, and so should your legal counsel.

Is Kratom The New Marijuana?

While the war against opioids rages on, chronic pain patients are struggling to find a suitable alternative to manage their condition. As a chronic pain sufferer myself, I am always concerned about any action taken by state governments and the FDA to limit access to medication. 

Kratom is a tree from Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that have psychotropic effects. Two compounds in kratom leaves, mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxymitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing sedation, pleasure, and decreased pain, especially when users consume large amounts of the plant. The FDA has identified Kratom as an opioid like substance with similar properties, creating a wave of regulatory actions that impact both industry and patients.

Some states are banning Kratom by classifying it as a Schedule I controlled substance, like in Ohio. Unfortunately, it may be years or even decades before enough research is conducted to prove the medical benefits of Kratom for chronic pain. Ideally, the FDA would hear the patient voice about the potential clinical benefits and investigate further. Unfortunately, as we have seen with cannabis, this is not the case.

Actions to ban Kratom and limit research initiatives hurts patients. Congress passed major opioid legislation this week that was signed into law, again showing that our government knows we desperately need to do something about the opioid crisis in our country. Limiting access to alternatives like Marijuana and Kratom is counter productive. Instead, we should be actively researching the medicinal benefits to help pain patients. They do not deserve to suffer and have their medication taken from them.

Until the FDA recognizes the potential benefits, Kratom will end up in the same battle as marijuana.

Big Changes in Florida’s Medical Marijuana Industry

On Friday, Christian Bax submitted his resignation from the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, planning to leave by August 10th. Bax’s tenure was tumultuous, filled with litigation ranging from smoking marijuana to licensing issues. I often heard from patients that their wait for cards was excessively long, dispensaries were understocked, and many felt Bax was to blame. This change in leadership is great news. Deputy Director Courtney Coppola has been named the interim director. 

The agency is so bogged down in litigation that the state has allocated $13.3 million for legal fees, a new seed-to-sale tracking system, and new license application reviews. This should help expedite an already long and drawn out process, and law makers have taken note. Businesses interested in Medical Marijuana and those already in the application stages should start to see improvements within the next few months. 

The state announced it has enrolled over 100,000 patients in June, opening the door for four more licenses to grow and sell marijuana. However, the system is still imperfect leading to delays, issues with supplies at dispensaries, and the looming “smoking” litigation. 

In other news,  3 Boys Farms sells to CannaCure/Scythian. The Canadian company will buy 60% of the shares before the end of August, with an option to acquire the rest of the company by the end of the year. The marijuana industry on a global scale is extremely lucrative, and our firm is keeping tabs on the mergers and acquisitions occurring internationally.