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PepsiCo debuts hemp beverage

PepsiCo debuts hemp beverage

rockstar hemp beverage revealed by PepsiCo

PepsiCo has announced its first foray into the hemp beverage sector, although U.S. consumers will have to wait before they can try the product.

According to a report in the trade Just Drinks, the Purchase-headquartered company is rolling out Rockstar Energy + Hemp exclusively in Germany. The new product contains caffeine, guarana, taurine and hemp seed extract. PepsiCo stated that the final ingredient creates an “intense hemp taste.”

PepsiCo acquired Rockstar in March 2020 for $3.85 billion and the brand commands a 35% share of Germany’s energy drink market.

“With outstanding category growth of 58% compared to the previous year, hemp products are the trend of the year 2021 in the (fast moving consumer goods) sector,” PepsiCo said in a press statement. “With Energy + Hemp, Rockstar is now expanding its energy portfolio to include three varieties with the ingredient hemp seed extract.”

Hemp comes from the cannabis family, but does not include the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) psychoactive compound that creates the high sensation.

Although the 2018 Farm Bill updated federal policy to consider hemp as an agricultural product, there is no consensus among state laws regarding the sale of hemp-based consumables, which is why PepsiCo is not offering its new product in the U.S.

A surprising oasis for medical marijuana: Oklahoma

A surprising oasis for medical marijuana: Oklahoma

When you think of Oklahoma, marijuana is probably not a thing you associate with the state.

OKLAHOMA (NewsNation Now) — Drive about 40 miles northeast of Oklahoma City and you’ll land on Chip Baker’s hundred-acre farm.

At first glance, it looks like any plot in rural Oklahoma. Spacious fields studded with work sheds and tarped greenhouse tunnels. Roosters roam freely next door.

Throw open the barn door and the golden light doesn’t reveal amber waves of grain but a different kind of cash crop.

It’s a marijuana operation and it’s all “baker’s brand.”

“Tokelahoma, cushlahoma, weedlahoma [and] gongelahoma” Baker says are just a few of the brands he sells.

“I think Lester Grinspoon said it best when he said “I smoke marijuana every chance I get.” and it’s true! Every chance, I do! ” exclaimed Baker.

Baker has grown weed around the world since he was 13. From the woods of Georgia and the lakes of Switzerland to Colorado and California.

“I love California weed, I love California growers. But there’s a certain snobbiness and we’ve done it all,” said Baker. “But like Oklahoma it’s this newness, adventure, that’s partly why we’re here.”

The 48-year-old and his wife Jessica moved to Oklahoma a couple of years ago after 57 percent of statewide voters literally greenlit medicinal marijuana through state question 788.

David Lewis is a lifelong Oklahoman and coo of Stability Cannabis, one of the state’s largest indoor grow facilities.

“I think people underestimate how much of a culture shock this was. This was a state where you couldn’t buy wine in a grocery store, yet we passed medicinal marijuana,” explained Lewis. “Born and raised in Oklahoma, I never would have thought we’d have almost 400,000 patients consuming medical marijuana. It’s shocking.”

According to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, there are more than 380,000 Oklahomans with active medical marijuana cards, about 10 percent of the population. That’s more than any other state in the country and double that of New Mexico, which comes in second.

In a state whose politics are as red as its dirt, the numbers almost seem wrong.

“Oklahoma and Texas are the home of outlaw country, right? Just because people are conservative or work on the land, or fish or hunt as relaxation, or even go to church, doesn’t disbar them from using cannabis and enjoying it,” said Baker.

“What I would say is look around the congregation at your church, and that’s our customer base,” added Lewis.

They’re consumers who get to come out of the shadows like Taly Frantz-Holly.

“I’ve been on the black market, as far as cannabis, as a smoker and everything from the time I was 19,” said Frantz-Holly.

She suffers from PTSD and says certain prescription pills left her suicidal. She found relief in cannabis.

“I went from taking 8 pharmaceuticals—8 medicinal pills every day. And now I’m down to 2. I only have panic attacks once ever few weeks and I was having panic attacks every single day,” stated Frantz-Holly.

Frantz-Holly says, without a doubt, the plant saved her life. So enamored by its medicinal powers, she now grows it herself.

“I literally got drug charges when I was 21 for a joint. And did 30 days in county jail. For a joint! And now I’m picking up 75 marijuana plants to go home to my commercial grow,” said Frantz-Holly.

She’s not alone. There are 7,000 other commercial growers across the state. Baker says it’s never been easier or cheaper to break into the business.

“Oklahoma just made it so easy to get involved that the average and normal person could,” said Baker. “There just no boundaries here.”

The application fee for growers, processors, dispensaries and transporters is $2,500. For patients, it’s $100. $20 for disabled veterans. Baker says it took him 15 minutes to apply in other states? He’s waited two years.

 

“Well if you look back at the political cycles, Oklahoma is the reddest of the red states. And I think what that translated to in medical marijuana was a free market approach,” said Baker. “The government wanted the free market to settle out who the winners and losers would be, and as a result you saw very limited restrictions on getting into the market and a lot of people participated.”

And many doctors, especially during a pandemic, have signed off on cards for patients suffering from anxiety, depression and insomnia.

“Oh COVID was a boom to the industry! Turns out if you’re trapped at home I guess with your kids and your in laws, you might have to medicate a little bit more every now and then,” said Lewis.

“The other thing is people aren’t sharing cannabis as much because of COVID. So people have been having their own bowls and their own joints,” stated Baker.

Baker says industry-wide, the business grew 50 percent last year.

If you’re surprised by Oklahoma’s booming numbers, Baker says you shouldn’t be. People just haven’t been able to talk about it but singing it.

“Oklahoma has a cannabis history. The cross Canadian ragweed, the famous song from 20 years ago. Oklahoma boys roll their joints all wrong. Its famous! It’s been famous for years!” said Baker.

 

New York man smokes pot in front of two NYPD police officers in celebration of legal marijuana

New York man smokes pot in front of two NYPD police officers in celebration of legal marijuana

In The Big Apple, a man celebrated legal weed by smoking marijuana in front of two NYPD officers — all caught on camera.

“Happy quarantine!” the man greets the cops as he inhales and exhales.

New York adults over the age of 21 can now possess and use marijuana — even in public — under a legalization bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, though legal sales of recreational-use cannabis won’t start for an estimated 18 months until regulations are set.

Passed after several years of stalled efforts, the measure makes New York the 16th state in the nation to legalize adult use of the drug.

New York becomes the second-most populous state after California to legalize recreational marijuana.

Legalization backers hope the Empire State will add momentum and set an example with its efforts to redress the inequities of a system that has locked up people of color for marijuana offenses at disproportionate rates.

 

The legislation provides protections for cannabis users in the workplace, housing, family court, schools, colleges and universities, and sets a target of providing half of marijuana licenses to individuals from underrepresented communities. And police could no longer use the odor of cannabis as a reason for searching someone’s car for contraband.

New York will start automatically expunging some past marijuana-related convictions, and people won’t be arrested or prosecuted for possession of pot up to 3 ounces. A 2019 law already expunged many past convictions and reduced the penalty for possessing small amounts.

In a unique provision, New Yorkers 21 and over can now smoke cannabis in public, including on sidewalks.

Lax THC vape rules still allow toxins into your lungs

Lax THC vape rules still allow toxins into your lungs

THC vape toxins are still prevalent

In 2019 and 2020, vaping-associated lung injuries killed 68 people and injured 2,807 across the United States. As reported by Leafly and later confirmed by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those injuries and deaths were almost exclusively associated with unlicensed THC vape cartridges purchased from the illicit market.

 

At the heart of the health crisis was a relatively new vape cartridge additive known as vitamin E acetate. Unlicensed cartridge manufacturers were using the substance, a common ingredient in beard cream, to thicken the cartridge oil and boost profit margins.

After the poisonings, officials at the CDC said the number one thing state cannabis regulators could do to protect public health was ensure that “chemicals of concern” like vitamin E acetate did not enter the state-licensed THC vape cartridge supply.

As of early 2021, cannabis regulators have not done that.

 

A Leafly investigation into current and forthcoming regulations around THC vape cartridges in the 15 legal cannabis states reveals that more than a year after the vape lung (also known as EVALI or VAPI) crisis, a few states have banned vitamin E oil, but not a single state upgraded its THC vape cartridge testing requirements up to the standard currently required for all nicotine vape cartridges in Europe and Canada.

State cannabis regulators have generally done a great job of protecting the health of consumers by requiring tests for toxins like pesticides, residual solvents, heavy metals, mold, and bacteria. Manufacturers are also required to test and disclose the exact potency of every product on the label.

But sometime around late 2018, THC vape cartridges escaped the bounds of those safeguards. A new wave of novel cartridge oil additives, thickeners, thinners, diluents, and artificial flavors began flooding the market. The new additives were mostly limited to illicit-market vape carts, but a few seeped into the legal regulated market as well.

Those new additives included:

  • Vitamin E acetate, aka beard cream oil
  • Squalene, a shark liver oil substance
  • Thousands of food flavorings not approved for inhalation

What kept these toxins from flooding into the legal THC vape supply? Only the good conscience of many licensed vape cartridge manufacturers—and a bit of luck. Nothing in the regulatory system of any state would have prohibited most of the new wave of additives.

 

Even today, the existing patchwork of state rules—with their yawning safety gaps and a total absence of federal oversight—has experts throwing up their hands.

Vape chemistry and regulations expert David Heldreth Jr. stepped down as the Chief Science Officer of a vape flavoring company. “It’s painful,” he told Leafly. “It’s one of those things where the industry just popped up and grew so quickly, it’s really difficult to keep up with what people innovate.”

CannaCraft, California’s biggest vape maker, forbids non-cannabis ingredients in its products, citing a lack of safety data. But the only thing keeping the company from adding mystery flavorings is the integrity of company officials. Many in the industry are doing it right. Others have less scruples. Consumers have few ways to tell.

“I think we do a lot of things well, but there’s certainly room for improvement,” said Matthew Elmes, a molecular biologist and Director of Scientific Affairs for CannaCraft. “There are so many things that aren’t tested for, and we don’t know, as consumers, what’s going on there.”

Leafly’s comprehensive review of THC vape cartridge rules in the 15 legal cannabis states found loopholes where those chemicals can get in.

Jamaica faces marijuana shortage as farmers struggle

Jamaica faces marijuana shortage as farmers struggle

Jamaican cannabis industry struggles due to supply and demand

Jamaica is running low on ganja.

Heavy rains followed by an extended drought, an increase in local consumption and a drop in the number of marijuana farmers have caused a shortage in the island’s famed but largely illegal market that experts say is the worst they’ve seen.

“It’s a cultural embarrassment,” said Triston Thompson, chief opportunity explorer for Tacaya, a consulting and brokerage firm for the country’s nascent legal cannabis industry.

Jamaica, which foreigners have long associated with pot, reggae and Rastafarians, authorized a regulated medical marijuana industry and decriminalized small amounts of weed in 2015.

People caught with 2 ounces (56 grams) or less of cannabis are supposed to pay a small fine and face no arrest or criminal record. The island also allows individuals to cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke ganja for sacramental purposes.

But enforcement is spotty as many tourists and locals continue to buy marijuana on the street, where it has grown more scarce — and more expensive.

Heavy rains during last year’s hurricane season pummeled marijuana fields that were later scorched in the drought that followed, causing tens of thousands of dollars in losses, according to farmers who cultivate pot outside the legal system.

“It destroyed everything,” said Daneyel Bozra, who grows marijuana in the southwest part of Jamaica, in a historical village called Accompong founded by escaped 18th-century slaves known as Maroons.

Worsening the problem were strict COVID-19 measures, including a 6 p.m. curfew that meant farmers couldn’t tend to their fields at night as is routine, said Kenrick Wallace, 29, who cultivates 2 acres (nearly a hectare) in Accompong with the help of 20 other farmers.

He noted that a lack of roads forces many farmers to walk to reach their fields — and then to get water from wells and springs. Many were unable to do those chores at night due to the curfew.

Wallace estimated he lost more than $18,000 in recent months and cultivated only 300 pounds, compared with an average of 700 to 800 pounds the group normally produces.

Activists say they believe the pandemic and a loosening of Jamaica’s marijuana laws has led to an increase in local consumption that has contributed to the scarcity, even if the pandemic has put a dent in the arrival of ganja-seeking tourists.

“Last year was the worst year. … We’ve never had this amount of loss,” Thompson said. “It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica.”

Tourists, too, have taken note, placing posts on travel websites about difficulties finding the drug.

Read the Full Story from AP

Will 2021 be the year of cannabis delivery?

Will 2021 be the year of cannabis delivery?

Cannabis delivery could become more available in 2021

With more sales than any other year and demand for cannabis higher than ever, will 2021 be the year cannabis delivery becomes widespread?

2020 was a difficult year, as if that even needs to be said. But there was one thing that helped millions of Americans get through the year.

Cannabis.

That’s not an exaggeration either. Americans bought 67% more cannabis in 2020 than the year before to deal with the stress of COVID-19, record unemployment and peak division in the country.

However despite the huge increase in sales, only a handful of states offer delivery options for recreational cannabis consumers.

Cannabis Delivery

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, are all technically states that offer some form of delivery service for consumers.

Strict regulations and limitations however have made it so only a few of the states listed actually have a current, implemented delivery system. For example, Massachusetts has been dealing with resistance to their new delivery rules, with the cannabis dispensary association in the state going so far as to sue. Colorado, while passing a law allowing delivery in 2019, has yet to implement it for medical patients, while recreational consumers might have to wait until 2022 for access to the same service.

Other states in the list have only recently legalized medical or recreational cannabis with inclusions for delivery in their legislation. These states such as Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico and others, while passing legalization bills in 2020, have yet to begin sales of cannabis in general, meaning delivery also hasn’t begun.

The question that a lot of consumers are asking, especially after going through a year of the country’s worst pandemic since the early 1900s and bolstering cannabis sales like never before, is where the hell is the delivery option?

COVID and cannabis

The impact of COVID-19 on businesses across every industry in the country has been stark. Yet while thousands of businesses suffered and even closed down, cannabis businesses everywhere thrived. But almost every single sale was done in-person.

This doesn’t seem to fit the overarching narrative of the last year that social distancing and avoiding others is all but paramount. In this same time Drizly, an alcohol delivery app, became available in 26 states.

In other words, half the country can get alcohol delivered to their door, yet only a couple states allow those with legal access to cannabis to have it delivered. And that is all missed revenue. Bud.com, a delivery service that operates in Northern California, experienced a 500 percent increase in sales after lockdown orders in mid-March, according to Dean Arbit, the chief executive of the company.

So if there’s no shortage of evidence that cannabis delivery can be highly profitable, what are we, or more accurately, what are states waiting for?

Will 2021 be the year?

The events (and profits) of 2020 definitely have more states and cannabis businesses talking about delivery. With no end to social distancing and COVID restrictions in sight, we should expect cannabis sales to continue to grow through 2021, with demand for delivery options growing as well.

Similarly to legalization in general, no state has the same cannabis delivery laws. In other words, there is no single template for states to follow that has seen continued success. Like legalization, some states may be waiting to see another implement delivery successfully from the start, and copy them.

Other states have issues with the laws they already have, such as competition against brick and mortar stores in states that allow delivery straight from distribution centers.

There is little doubt the more states will legalize some form of cannabis delivery in 2021. To expect every state with recreational or medical cannabis to make it available however is a big ask. One that is highly unlikely to happen in just one year.

But if there is any way to describe the cannabis legalization movement, it’s unpredictable.

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