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World News - May 2019




Analysts Say Brexit No Threat To Europe’s Booming Legal Cannabis Industry

With uncertainty looming overhead during the long drawn out Brexit, the referendum which the people passed in June of 2016 that removes the UK from the European Union, many industries have experienced a downturn.  Businesses are moving abroad, sterling is under immense pressure, and factories have begun stockpiling in an effort to pad themselves from potential supply chain issues.  Only a few sectors are proving to be impervious to speculation and Brexit fears, and one of them is legal cannabis.

The latest European Cannabis Report states that even a no-deal Brexit will not harm the sustained growth of the legal cannabis industry in the UK, or anywhere in Europe for that matter.  It goes on to say that “significant pressure to improve access to medical cannabis from Britain’s patient groups and political community” has led the UK Government to suggest it will align it’s medical cannabis laws with soon to come European regulations.  


Global Pharmaceutical Giant Teams Up With Canadian Marijuana Startup, Backed By Billionaire

Swiss based Novartis AG, one of the world’s largest multinational pharmaceutical companies as measured by both market capitalization and sales, has thrown its hat into the medical marijuana ring.  The health-care behemoth’s Sandoz Canada division is forming an alliance with Tilray, a pharmaceutical and cannabis company with roots in Canada and operations expanding globally into Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Portugal, and Latin America.  As if two global corporations were not enough, the entire endeavour is being backed by Paypal co-founder, early Facebook investor, venture capitalist, philanthropist, political activist, author, and billionaire, Peter Thiel.  Together they intend to develop new pot-based medications, distributing them to hospitals and pharmacies around the world.

This will be the second collaboration of this magnitude for Tilray’s parent firm, Privateer Holdings, whose investors include wealthy individuals, family offices, and institutions.  In January of 2018 they announced an agreement to become a medical marijuana supplier for Shoppers Drug Mart, a Canadian retail pharmacy chain.

   
Canadian Companies Look For Profitable Edge With Biosynthesis

The number of licensed producers and biotechnology firms making strides toward synthetic THC production has increased as Canadian companies seek to grow profits and yield.  “We do believe that cannabinoids will be created through biosynthesis, whether it’s yeast or sugar or other compounds, at scale and at an extremely low cost… And do expect to be investing in that space in the not too distant future” said Peter Aceto, chief executive of CannTrust Holdings Inc.  Canada is on the verge of legalizing a new round of cannabis products including edibles and topicals in the coming months, which is expected to grow the demand for THC exponentially.  

Biosynthesis is the act of synthesizing organic compounds within a living organism.  Kevin Chen, chief executive officer and co-founder of Hyasynth Bio, says it is similar to brewing beer, with the exception being that the yeast is genetically engineered.  Wikipedia describes it as ‘an emerging discipline that takes genetic engineering a step further by introducing artificially genetic material from raw materials into an organism’.  According to another biotechnology firm, AltaCorp, in biosynthesis lies the potential to produce large quantities of cannabinoids, consistently, with a high level of purity and precision, at roughly less than $1,000 per kilogram.  
The GMO pot race is on, with Hyasynth Bio aiming to establish its own facility and be able to sell products by the end of the year.  However, according to Chen, “There is a lot to be nailed down, and it will be an ongoing process of improvement.”  Biosynthesized THC, while not expected to replace plant-based extraction, is being touted as ‘an added tool in companies arsenals.’


Australia Celebrates First Crop Of Taxpayer-Funded Pot With Opening Of Medical Marijuana Greenhouse

The southeastern Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has opened its first medical marijuana greenhouse in Sydney, thanks to recently relaxed restrictions.  Cannabis grown by the NSW state government is slated for use by patients with severe conditions such as cancer and epilepsy.  No product is being sold at current, as the facility focuses on researching how to consistently grow plants with the same properties.  According to NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall “People, whether they’re cancer sufferers or suffering from epilepsy, can actually purchase the plants, or purchase the product, and it will be the same product and the same properties and composition each and every time.”  He adds that local police and detectives from the NSW drug squad are heavily involved with the project, their role to ensure “no criminals target the greenhouse”, or “sell the plants illegally.”


North Wales Police Boss Advocates for Legalization

Arfon Jones, North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, has taken a hard stance on marijuana, he wants it legalized.  Citing ‘figures’, Mr. Jones estimates that 90% of drug consumption, including cannabis, is recreational and causes no harm to others.  He argues that if cannabis was a legally controlled substance, such as tobacco, the illegal trade would vanish.

“The best way to reduce the role of organised crime in the supply of drugs is to put it in commercial hands so people don’t need to go to the illegal market,” stated Commissioner Jones.  He went on to say that recreational cannabis users “should be given some educational information and that would be the end of the matter”.  He proposes a licensing system similar to that in Canada, Uruguay, and parts of the USA, that would allow small amounts of marijuana for personal use as well as plants to be purchased from pharmacies and stores.



540 Kilos of Confiscated Marijuana Goes Missing in Argentina, Authorities Blame Rats

When Commissioner Emilio Portero took command of the police forces in Pilar, a city in the Buenos Aires province in Argentina, he received a full inventory of all department assets.  Of note was a stash of 6,000 kilos of previously seized marijuana.  Upon closer inspection it was discovered that the total weight was only 5,460 kilos, meaning 540 kilos of cannabis had somehow disappeared.

Immediately filing a complaint and launching an investigation Portero found himself shocked at the answer local officials provided; The marijuana had simply become “food for rats”.  All 540 kilos of it.  Portero, and others, with reasonable scepticism, consulted with experts on the matter.  “Professionals analyzed the case and explained that the rats could never have confused marijuana with any type of food”, he was told, “In the event that a large group had eaten the marijuana, many corpses should be found.”  Rat theory debunked, officials second idea was that the cannabis had dried up.  Again experts were consulted and it was determined that while that would account for some of the weight loss, it still did not explain 540 kilos worth.

Investigators are still concerned that the missing marijuana was stolen by police or officials, and so the case remains open, with two police chiefs and two officers having been asked to testify in May.

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