Legal Archives - Green Market Report

AvatarTeri BuhlApril 1, 2020
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20min1900

 Authored by:  Teri Buhl

Canadian cannabis company CEOs have been making big pay packages over the last few years coinciding with net losses. But, they have not been disclosing details required by Canadian law about who they employ to come up with the pay formulas and how much these consultants are paid.

A review of Canadian public filings by Cannabis Law Report has found at least three publicly traded companies who have failed to be transparent in telling shareholders how much they were actually paying their executives.

It appears that some packages could be described as “over-compensation” and were/are making some individuals very wealthy.

Compensation consultants are often required by boards of publicly traded companies to enable an independent outside party to come up with a realistic approach to how the CEO and also key management are compensated thus stopping companies using internal resources to pull any old figure or package out of thin air.

Cannabis operations that have grown quickly into large companies: Aurora, Aphria, and Canopy Growth follow these rules and have disclosed how they paid their consultants like Hugessen Consulting, Mercer (Canada) Limited, or Global Governance Advisors Inc.

According to a recent review undertaken by Cannabis Law Report, a compensation consultant gig in Canada can run up to a staggering $150,000 CAD on the high end.

THE GREEN ORGANIC DUTCHMAN

 

 

 

CLR has learned that a Canadian grower with an investment from Aurora has ignored the rules.

Ontario-based The Green Organic Dutchman, run by Csaba Reider, was in full self-promotion mode throughout 2018 & 2019 with a number of TV appearances and public events touting Aurora as a backer of the company.

 

 

But in the first week of September 2019 Aurora sold out of its whole TGOD position of around 10 percent for a 15% discount.

The Green Organic Dutchman ($TGOD) said in their publicly filed year-end 2019 financials that the company had a net loss of $195.75 million for the year. At the same time, it was announced the company’s president, Csaba Reider, was being replaced. Reider had been with the company since May 2017. The cannabis market balked on social media when they saw Reider was the lucky recipient of a 24-month exit package valued at near $2 million CAD.

Company filings from May show Reider earned an annual salary of $284,965 CAD in 2018, on top of options awarded valued at $909,590 CAD.

His total compensation for 2018 was $1,205,055 CAD while the young company continued to post net losses.

In 2019 Reider’s employment contract went up to $300,000 CAD, plus an award of 550,000 options, and a monthly commuting allowance of $1,500 CAD.

 

His severance package if terminated without cause was worth 24-months’ worth of salary, bonus, and benefits. That severance package was valued at $1,779,453 CAD, as of December 2018 according to public filings.

But the valuation took into account a $2.50 share price at the end of 2018 so shareholders don’t know the real value of the large exit package in 2019.

CLR has seen Canadian cannabis companies’ Management Information Circular always detail the previous year’s numbers, so Reider’s 2019 exit pay details won’t make it into the circular until the next MIC, coming due in April 2020.

Basically, in 2019, The Green Organic Dutchman paid millions more to just ‘key management’ than they made in revenue for the year. TGOD’s gross revenue was $11.16 million (CAD) and its net revenue was $10.96 million for the year.

The company’s Key Management compensation was valued at $13,691,000 CAD according to 2019 filings for the “Management Discussion and Analysis.”

Cannabis Law Report discovered that The Green Organic Dutchman has not as yet disclosed how much the company paid the compensation consultant that came up with Reider and his team’s packages.

According to a review of public filings by Cannabis Law Report. Green Organic Dutchman management told shareholders they had hired Compensation Governance Partners but left out the financial part of how much they had hired them for.

The consultant was also very generous in comparing TGOD companies with $3 billion or less in revenue, like a large pharmaceutical company (AKORN) and larger cannabis companies like Aurora and Canopy Growth, to justify the excessive executive salary packages.

Canadian regulation Form 51-102F6 (SEE BELOW) for Executive Compensation requires companies to disclose if they paid a compensation consultant, who that consultant is, and how much the consultant is paid over the past two years.  The rule has been in effect since 2011.

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VIVO

 

 

Comp Consultants Jump Executives Pay

In 2017 Vivo Cannabis, hired a compensation consultant to help them get a boost to compensation and entice on board a CEO with experience in a public company.

Barry Fishman

The new CEO Barry Fishman’s base salary was $275,000 CAD with 1,250,000 shares granted in stock options (exercised at $.86 CAD) and 1,175,000 shares as a bonus.

In January 2018 Vivo’s stock traded at just above $3 US dollars. The Chairman of the board’s pay doubled also.

 

In an April 2018, Management Information Circular Vivo mentions that Hugessen Consulting has been hired by the company but a review by Cannabis Law Report could not find any compensation consulting fee disclosures amongst public filings and documents.

 

Fishman has also been criticized for significantly overpaying for a Canadian farm called Canna Farms. Today the stock ($VVCIF) trades on the OTC Markets at $.14 US dollars. The company was previously named ABCann Global.

 

ORGANIGRAM

Cannabis Law Report’s investigations also reveal that Organigram’s CEO pay more than doubled from 2017 to 2018.

In their MIC from 2018, they explicitly stated that they had engaged with third-party consultants to assist with compensation. A review by Cannabis Law Report of 2018 and 2019 filings couldn’t find who these  consultants were and how much they were paid for their work.

CEO Greg Engel’s 2017 base salary plus bonus was $177,329 CAD. In 2018 it jumped to $387,957 CAD which doesn’t include the stock option and equity incentives he also received.

The stock ($OGI) traded in a range of $3 to $5.70 in 2018 with a high of $8.44 in mid-2019. It currently trades below $2 US Dollars.

 

Interestingly, on Organigram’s most recent MIC filed in February 2020, they have now put in the disclosure that named the consultants they used in 2018 and 2019 along with the amounts paid to the consultants.

The consultants named were HugessenBromelin, and Accompass (now Gallagher).

A week after the publication of this story Organigram finally responded to the disclosure change. Vice President Helen Martin told CLR, “As OGI graduated from the TSX Venture Exchange on August 22nd, 2019, it was only required to make the referenced disclosure in its Management Information Circular filed on February 3, 2020.”

Organigram also listed on the NASDAQ in May 2019, which has its own set of SEC rules regarding compensation consultant fees.

SEC Item 407(e)(3)(iii) of Regulation S-K, requires issuers to disclose “any role of compensation consultants in determining or recommending the amount or form of executive and director compensation” along with fees paid.

Organigram’s Martin argued that NASDAQ will “usually follow” the rules of the foreign exchange the company first list on. The company first listed on the TSX Venture exchange which is basically the wild west of exchanges with minimal reporting requirements.

It appears that it has taken Organigram two years to inform shareholders of the hiring of external consultants for management employment packages after uplisting rules forced the disclosure.

None of the companies in this story responded for comment as of the original press time. This story has been updated with Organigram’s response as of April 1 2020.

 

 

I’m a professional financial investigative journalist who has written for the Greenwich Time, Hearst CT Newspapers, Forbes Magazine, Fortune.com, The Atlantic.com, New York Magazine, New York Post, Trader Monthly, Housingwire, ML-Implode, The Business Insider, Long Island Business News, Dealbreaker, New York Observer, Bitcoin Magazine, DealFlow Media, SIRF.org and more. For the last five years I have been a contributing reporter for Market Nexus Media who publishes a financial trade publication called Growth Capital Investor.

I earned my breaking/investigative news chops reporting during the financial crisis in 2008 for the Sunday edition of the New York Post. I was one of the first to report on the missteps at IndyMac that lead to government investigations and lawsuits against the banks founders. Caught hedge funds like Carrington Capital abusing investors without disclosing conflicts of interest with senior RMBS bond holders; they were sued by Wilbur Ross for Civil RICO. I exposed Bear Stearns misleading their own investors and monoline insurers on the quality of the loans in their mortgage-backed securities, which led to a fraud lawsuit against JP Morgan/Bear Stearns and the $13 billion settlement with the DOJ in 2013. Since 2010 multiple Wall Street firms, that my reporting warned about first, have been [JP Morgan, SpongeTech, Security Savings Bank, SAC Capital, Palm Beach Capital Management, New Stream Capital, NIR Group/Cory Ribotsky, Bear Stearns RMBS Traders, Mike Perry IndyMac CEO, Steven Muehler and the Nanocap MarketPlace, Barry Honig and The Frost Group] investigated or charged for financial violations by the FBI/SEC/State AG or shut down by bank regulators.

The Huffington Post named me the number three most dangerous financial journalist for being willing to challenge the establishment and inform readers best. I’m working on trade-marking “Smashmouth Journalism”

Read More About Teri’s Work At: https://www.teribuhl.com/about/


Sean HockingSean HockingMarch 31, 2020
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8min3730

Authored By: Patrick McKnight.

 

Businesses are on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak. Employers must attempt to balance public health concerns, compliance with emergency government orders, employee safety, consumer demand, and financial reality. Many states are enacting restrictions on business activity or even forcing “non-essential” companies to close or transition to a work-from-home policy.

When the crisis began it was not at all clear how the medical marijuana industry would fare. Recent developments suggest the industry has not only escaped closure, but many states have relaxed existing restrictions to encourage greater patient access while containing the spread of the virus.

The United States medical marijuana market is estimated to reach nearly $8 billion in sales in 2020 with annual growth of around 17%. 33 states currently have some type of medical marijuana program with an estimated 3 million total patients across the country. The industry employs 240,000 people.

The onset of the COVID-19 outbreak presents a new arena of legal uncertainty for a rapidly expanding industry known to inhabit a constant state of flux. The Pennsylvania medical marijuana industry reached $500 million in total sales over just its first two years of existence. The Keystone State currently has about 150,000 medical marijuana patients. The New Jersey medical marijuana industry has likewise demonstrated remarkable growth following recent expansions of eligibility.

Mid-Atlantic States Respond to COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is hitting the Mid-Atlantic states harder than many other areas. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been among the most aggressive in enacting emergency measures to slow the spread of the virus. Many of these executive orders restrict the ability of “non-essential” businesses to operate for the duration of the ongoing emergency.

The ambiguity over which businesses are “essential” or “life-sustaining” has generated confusion amongst business leaders and warranted multiple clarifications from officials. Most states have policies in place allowing businesses to apply for waivers. New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey also enacted statewide shelter in place orders. Pennsylvania currently has a shelter in place order across 22 counties.

On March 19, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced all “non-life-sustaining businesses” would be ordered to close physical locations. New York announced similar restrictions on March 20, 2020. On March 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 107 forcing all “non-essential” retail businesses to close.

Is Medical Marijuana an Essential Business?

Nearly every state with a medical marijuana program has determined the industry should continue operating as an essential business. Under this designation, medical marijuana dispensaries are basically treated like pharmacies providing essential healthcare products.

Not only have states refrained from shutting down businesses engaged in the production and sale of medical marijuana, but many states have also relaxed existing restrictions.

Government promotion of social distancing may be making it easier for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Pennsylvania. On March 20, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the temporary suspension of several important restrictions. For the first time, patients and caregivers may pick up medical marijuana at the curb outside of dispensaries. Other loosened regulations in Pennsylvania include:

  • Waiver of limits on how much medical marijuana may be purchased.
  • Elimination of background checks for caregivers.
  • Relaxed restrictions on the number of patients per caregiver.
  • Allowing remote consultations for the renewal of medical marijuana cards.

“In the midst of COVID-19, we need to ensure medical marijuana patients have access to medication,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a press release. “Medical marijuana grower/processors and dispensaries are considered life-sustaining businesses under the Governor’s order for nonlife-sustaining businesses to close. We want to be sure cardholders in the medical marijuana program can receive medication for one of 23 serious medical conditions during this difficult time.”

New Jersey also relaxed restrictions on medical marijuana establishments, known as Alternative Treatment Centers (“ATCs”). New Jersey is allowing curbside pickup and reducing fees for caregivers from $100 to $20. On March 24, 2020, the New Jersey Department of Health’s Division of Medical Marijuana released guidance on how ATCs may hire employees during the emergency period. The guidance relaxes restrictions on background checks for “provisional” employees. New Jersey has about 73,000 medical marijuana patients and generated an estimated $100 million in sales in 2019.

The New York Department of Health considers all medical marijuana companies to be “essential businesses” and implemented similar steps to ensure access during the outbreak. Regulations on home-delivery are temporarily relaxed and sales are now permitted at the door of dispensaries.

Like several other states, Connecticut defines “essential businesses” in terms of guidance from the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The Agency has a list of 16 critical infrastructure sectors. Notwithstanding federal law, Connecticut created an exception from this guidance by placing medical marijuana within the healthcare sector.

Some states are placing additional restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries as part of their response to COVID-19. Maryland announced rules requiring dispensaries to limit over the counter interactions. The federal Small Business Administration is prohibited from offering disaster relief loans to any cannabis business.

Conclusion

The initial demand for medical marijuana during the COVID-19 outbreak was reported as very strong. Industry analysts estimate demand increased 20% nationwide in mid-March, 2020. Dispensaries in Pennsylvania and New Jersey reported long lines as patients added medical marijuana to their emergency shopping lists. Available data suggests this preliminary spike in demand was followed by a steep, sudden decline.

The long-term legal ramifications of the COVID-19 outbreak are difficult to predict. As the unprecedented public health emergency continues to spread across North America, the medical marijuana industry should continue to monitor the developing legal implications.

 

Patrick McKnight is an Associate in the Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP Litigation

Practice Group and member of their COVID-19 Task Force. He can be reached at pmcknight@klehr.com.


Sean HockingSean HockingMarch 30, 2020
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4min1160

Guest post by Hanson Bridgett

On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay at home order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians and to establish a consistent approach across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order went into effect on Thursday, March 19, 2020, and is in place until further notice.

The order identifies certain services as essential, including food, prescriptions, and healthcare. These services can continue despite the stay at home order. Because cannabis is an essential medicine for many residents, the Governor clarified his order on March 22, 2020, by declaring that cannabis retailers are an essential business and workers supporting cannabis retail and dietary supplement retail are an essential worker force. In conjunction with the Governor’s declaration, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) have issued advisories stating that licensees may continue to operate at this time so long as their operations comply with local rules and regulations.

Any licensee that continues to operate must adopt social distancing and anti-congregating measures and must follow the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease at all times.

Further, the CDPH’ s advisory states that to continue to ensure the integrity of products, it is important that employees handling cannabis or cannabis products continue to follow good manufacturing practices (GMPs), as required by regulation. GMPs include safe handling practices to prevent contamination, such as washing hands and work surfaces, wearing clean outer clothing, and any precautions necessary to prevent allergen cross-contact or other contamination. CDPH encourages posting the poster below in cannabis manufacturing facilities to highlight these essential routine tasks:

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/
MCSB/CDPH%20Document%20Library/COVID-19CannabisProductSafety.pdf

There are no requirements to notify CDPH if one of your employees is subject to quarantine or tests positive for COVID-19. However, CDPH requests that licensees do what they can to limit exposure to other employees, and follow all social distancing and safety instructions provided by your local and state public health departments.

The analysis in this article is limited to current local or state laws and regulations as they relate to the cannabis industry. Readers should note that there is a divergence between Federal law and California’s laws regarding the legality of the production, distribution and sale of cannabis. This article does not address the applicability of Federal law in this area and should not be considered legal advice.

 


Sean HockingSean HockingMarch 30, 2020
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11min2330

Authored By: Arundati Dandapani

According to Vividata’s National Cannabis Consumer Study, 70% of consumers are not sure they know the difference between THC and CBD. Moreover, quality remains the top criterion in selecting a cannabis product for purchase. How are companies setting the standards for quality and how are we researching consumers to understand their experiences with cannabis products accurately and ethically? This post explores the manufacturing and research standards to consider when conducting research studies with cannabis.

Product Quality in Manufacturing

At an HIV Community Cannabis Education event held in Toronto, a cannabis company proudly declared their company had not had a single product recall to date. Product recall happens when a product is defective, damaged or does not meet the customer’s expectations causing the product to be called off the shelf. This “zero recall” standard, the team said, was attributed to the fact that their cannabis product standards with regard to food safety and health was high and involved documentation of over 100 pages.

High product quality relies on a true understanding of the entire supply chain, from seed to sale with sanitized processes and quality checks including the creation of well-detailed preventative control plans that are in place to avoid instances of hazards like contamination or other public safety risks. These are the responsibility of the manufacturer.

Setting Standards for Cannabis Research Studies 

When companies, individuals or groups conduct or commission research of any kind on cannabis product one or more of its various forms (edibles, topicals, beverages, etc.) among human subjects, legal knowledge of the laws outlined the Cannabis Act should be distributed to all participants ahead of time. In fact, it is encouraged that respondents are tested on their knowledge of cannabis to ensure they understand the ins and outs of the product they are being researched for or with.

Respondent experience must be central to the research exercise. With cannabis, every user has a different experience, but the law that applies to everyone is the same. This is also why it’s so challenging to create standards that accommodate for the medical as well as the recreational standards in the conduct of consumer research around cannabis. The guidelines below detail some prime facets to consider in order to maintain high quality control standards in the cannabis research space:

o  Compliance with the Cannabis Act and the MRIA Code of Conduct including referencing the guidelines listed in the Pharmaceutical Research section.

Respondent checks: Age gates are in place to ensure compliance, and if underaged, then medical licenses must be checked.

Product testing: The products have been through rigourous checks and audits by Health Canada and display the legal seal.

Technology powered research: Virtual clinical trials and other accelerated technologies that mix the potential of new technologies with cannabis to create research insights quickly and more accurately, are being classified as Cannabis 3.0, triggering new innovations and improved data quality through better user experiences.

o   Medical conditions: A panel of doctors must be present at the time of any product research to ensure no adverse effects lessen or damage the health of participants.

24-hour follow up: All respondents must be followed up with after a period of 24 hours to see that no negative consequences have occurred since the research.

An individualized approach to research must be adopted when the product is being tested for consumers. With cannabis research studies, companies might appear to follow different standards of benchmarking product quality, making it difficult for customers to judge products without trying them. While the medical legal market has been commercially legal since 2013, the adult-use or recreational market only became legal in October 2018, with the complete legalization of all product forms happening in October 2019.

Some industry insiders and veteran consumers will argue that legal market cannabis has fallen short on expectations with price-point, being 62% more expensive than black market cannabis according to Statistics Canada. Canada’s largest syndicated study of cannabis consumers reveals that price remains a top barrier to legal cannabis consumption.

As legal cannabis is still new in Canada, DIY methods and products are rampant. The gatekeepers of standards are constantly challenged when the market draws a false line between efficiency and quality. For individualized products, standards are new and developing, even as the industry is fast-moving and dependent on an intuitive honour code across the supply chain for effective quality control. An example that best demonstrates the need for quality control is around the lack of information about what cannabis is made of, what its effects and health benefits (where applicable) might be, and how to understand consistency, potency, and dosage in consuming (or trading) medically and recreationally.

Instituting Dialogue and Collaboration

There are differences in standards and best practices between micro-cultivation and commercial growing according to the NACPT Pharma College that advocates for quality and accredited expertise at every point in the supply chain. One of the goals with an industry as fast-moving as cannabis (disproportionate to the pace of information flow) should be to bring both Health Canada and the licensed producers (LPs) in ongoing communication with one another, and this can happen best through an association that works to protect the industry.

Some companies are proud of not having had a single product recall since their setup. This is owed to the intensive process and documentation in place, popularly dubbed “GXP” encompassing the gamut of standards including GMP, GPP, GACP and other international manufacturing and production standards. Others have faced the wrath of their consumers, media, and everyone in their supply chain networks for not complying with Health Canada’s standards and the Cannabis Act. Cannabis brands still have a long way to go as consumers understand the full legal market ecosystem.

Modelling the Future of Cannabis Studies with Care

Cannabis companies have a relatively empty legal canvas to fill, when compared with other industries, and the category’s future success will draw from the gold standards of ancillary industries including (and not limited to) technology, logistics, transportation, data analytics and market intelligence, packaging, and the media among others. A large proportion of new users’ information is gained from the media, posing an important responsibility for online outlets and websites to be posting the most accurate and well-researched cannabis insights for consumers.

 


Arundati Dandapani is Chief Editor of MRIA-ARIM, Canada’s foremost association for marketing research and intelligence professionals, and Founder of Generation1.ca, a cross-sectoral resource for Canada’s newest residents. A well-published researcher and insights storyteller, she advises businesses and non-profits across a range of industries, was named a 2020 AAPOR Burns Bud Roper Fellow and has earned industry honours like the 2020 QRCA Young Professionals Grant, and the Inaugural GRIT Future List Award in 2019. 

Originally published By: https://mria-arim.ca/Blogs/8863343


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtMarch 25, 2020
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10min9220

In these trying times, it’s always good to have an excellent lawyer on your side. A strong contract goes a long way towards protecting your interests and if you find yourself in a dispute, you certainly want someone who understands your business and can work with cannabis companies.

Green Market Report compiled this list with assistance from the Cannabis Law Report. We separated the list into two categories: cannabis only legal firms and large cannabis divisions within larger firms. We put them in alphabetical order and there is no ranking.

Also, no free legal advice was given to get on this list nor did anyone pay to be included.

Cannabis Only

Clark Howell (California) – “Women-owned and steered, we know what it’s like to chart your own course.” Led by attorney’s  Ariel Clark and Nicole Howell, this firm handles corporate, regulatory, supply chain, commercial real estate, hemp & hemp products, and emerging medicines. They work with start-ups, brands & operators, investors, and ancillary service providers. The group also publishes the Green Frontier Bulletin.

Green Light Law Group (Oregon) – Green Light Law Group is a Portland-based firm focused on providing legal solutions to the cannabis industry. We service our clients’ needs in Oregon, Washington, California, New York, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Florida and Texas.  The company’s attorneys have extensive experience and in-depth operational knowledge of the marijuana and hemp industries. Green Light is positioned to provide legal services and counseling for new entrepreneurs, financiers, and established companies.

Hoban Law (Colorado) – Hoban Law Group is the first U.S. based law firm to expand its cannabis industry services across the globe with attorneys in the European Union, Latin America, and beyond. With these resources, HLG builds out client portfolios within the global cannabis economy. As a global Cannabusiness Leader since 2009, HLG has been providing professional services to the cannabis industry, which is comprised of the international hemp and regulated marijuana marketplace. The company’s attorneys are experts in marijuana law, hemp law, and corporate cannabis law.

McAllister Garfield (Colorado) – McAllister Garfield, P.C. is a full-service law firm that pioneers legal strategies and services for the marijuana industry. Beginning with the very first marijuana businesses that emerged in 2009, the firm has represented hundreds of medical and recreational dispensaries, grows, infused-product manufacturers, and testing laboratories. The company currently represents some of the leading marijuana companies in Colorado and nationwide and represents a large number of ancillary and related businesses; including, lenders, investors, landlords, social media companies, trim companies, consultants, vendors, inventors, and packaging companies.

Vicente Sederberg LLP (Colorado) – Vicente Sederberg is not just a law firm that decided to jump into the cannabis space. It is solely a cannabis law firm and has been at the leading edge of cannabis law and policy since the inception of the regulated cannabis industry. VS was founded in 2010 and was just a handful of employees working out of a tiny office suite in Denver. Today, the firm has more than 100 full-time employees, including more than 40 attorneys, working out of offices in Boston, Denver, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, and New York. The company also maintains strategic relationships with a number of leading firms around the U.S. and across the globe that specialize in areas of the law that are critical to cannabis clients. VS offers a full suite of services for all types of plant-touching marijuana and hemp businesses (cultivators, retailers, extractors, product manufacturers, distributors, and testing labs), ancillary businesses, investors, trade associations, and governmental bodies.

Key Cannabis Focus

Fox Rothschild has grown to a 950-lawyer national law firm with 27 offices. Fox Rothschild’s Cannabis Litigation team has vast experience advising and representing highly regulated businesses within the constantly evolving matrix of federal, state and local compliance laws. It represents both public and privately-held cannabis companies and industry investors in bet-the-company litigation, governmental proceedings, and appeals. The firm’s crosscutting capabilities also support cannabis industry clients in investor and shareholder disputes, securities litigation, corporate mismanagement claims, patent, trademark and copyright litigation, zoning challenges and licensing disputes.

Greenspoon Marder – Among the first national law firms to establish a dedicated Cannabis Practice Group,  Greenspoon Marder is at the forefront of this exciting and rapidly growing industry. The firm’s team helps cultivators, retailers, product manufacturers, distributors, and testing facilities, as well as ancillary industry businesses and investors. With over 30 attorneys focused on cannabis, medical marijuana and hemp sectors, the company’s Cannabis Practice advises clients from early formation through an exit. We take a creative and proactive approach to the practice of law, enabling our clients to take advantage of the emerging legal developments and industry trends.

Harris Bricken – Since 2010, this firm has been helping businesses navigate rapidly evolving cannabis regulation and policy. The cannabis lawyers in California, Oregon and Washington help cannabis businesses with their corporate legal matters involving company formation and structuring, transactional agreements, IP, corporate governance, taxation, licensing, and the acquisition and leasing of real property. For those beyond their jurisdictions, they offer comprehensive advice and analyses of current industry developments on their blog, Canna Law Blog. The firm has nearly a decade of multi-state experience in the nation’s fastest-growing medical and recreational cannabis markets.

Rose Law Group – The cannabis industry team at Rose Law Group pc has been providing comprehensive legal advice, direction and assistance to individuals and companies in the cannabis industry in regards to Title 9, Chapter 17, of the Arizona Department of Health Services Medical Marijuana Program and A.R.S. § 36-2801. The firm has industry-specific knowledge and experience in every aspect of the legal, administrative, regulatory and business issues facing those in the medical and adult-use cannabis industries.

Up & Coming

Duane Morris – Duane Morris attorneys represent businesses and individuals at every level of the cannabis supply chain. Our clients include state-licensed adult-use marijuana, medical marijuana, and hemp cultivators, processors, distributors and dispensaries, whether vertically integrated or operating as standalone businesses, as well as investors in those businesses. The firm also represents the full range of business vendors that supply their products and services to the cannabis industry, such as raw materials, technology, advertising, social media, consumption products, and security companies.

Hiller PC – Hiller is best known for its federal cannabis lawsuit team – co-counsel Michael Hiller, Lauren Rudick, Joseph Bondy, and David Holland who filed a complaint in September 2017 to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York with regards to twelve-year-old Alexis Bortell. The lawyers – who are all members of the New York Cannabis Bar Association – are working on the case pro bono in hopes of winning a watershed decision descheduling marijuana under federal law. The case was dismissed but then reinstated in May 2019.


AvatarHeather AllmanMarch 25, 2020
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15min1450

AUTHOR: HEATHER ALLMAN

ON THE BURNER— Interview with Arman Zeytounyan, CEO and Co-Founder of EcoWaste in California

The “Beast” in this scenario is cannabis sustainability, and the distinct lack thereof. The market for change is wide open, and here’s the perspective of one man and the vision of one California company who is getting an edge in the sustainability market due to the cannabis waste removal and compliance services they offer.

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS:

EcoWaste ensures compliance every step of the way for the security of your cannabis license. EcoWaste provides an exceptional, reliable and proven cannabis waste disposal.

EcoWaste believes there’s a better way to conduct cannabis waste management, combining the right knowledge and provide a solution that is effective and embraces the regulations.

EcoWaste was founded by Avo Gasparian and Arman Zeytounyan in 2016. It started as a organic, or green, waste disposal service for the food and construction industry. During these early stages EcoWaste began testing our process and setting up a durable infrastructure.

—  — —  — —

CANNABIS LAW REPORT: Why did you get into this particular business?

ARMAN ZWYTOUNYAN: “Before starting EcoWaste, I was already a part of a specialized waste company. My business partner started BioWaste in 2011, which performs solely medical/biohazard waste management disposal service.

In early 2018, we began to receive inquiries for cannabis waste. At that point, we reached out to some friends in the industry to learn more. After doing some research on the cannabis compliance regulations, we concluded that cannabis waste is a service that we are perfectly suited to manage for the industry.”

—  — —  — —

CLR: Is EcoWaste and recycling a component that is required in the California cannabis regulatory framework?

AZ: “The cannabis regulations in California don’t require a cannabis business to use our service or to recycle the waste they generate. They do, however, require that the waste is handled in a way that decreases the possibility of under the table actions.”

—  — —  — —

CLR: Do you think it should be a required component of any states medical cannabis regulatory framework?

AZ:Absolutely. Biases aside, the biggest value a company like ours provides is compliance. Having a third party correctly dispose of cannabis waste greatly decreases the opportunity involved in illicit activities. Recycling itself is a good habit for anyone to get into of course. That being said, cannabis is a green waste and there’s a lot of potential for re-purposing the material. The challenge is the volume needed to see real results isn’t there yet since California is still majorly a black market.

Surely, part of the issue with it being labeled “green waste” is that licensees don’t yet know how to execute proper recycling or consumer renewability of a Schedule I-tainted product. “

—  — —  — —

CLR: What one thing you do in your line of work that you feel is the very most important, that makes the most impact? Why?

AZ:Easily it’s the compliance service we provide. When you’re a part of an industry that’s so new, it’s important to focus on the long term.”

Just because something isn’t being enforced or otherwise emphasized today doesn’t mean the hammer won’t fall tomorrow.”

AZ: “Many people overlook the value waste management has to offer, but that’s not the wisest approach. Our compliance value comes in when a cannabis business owner’s integrity is questioned. Are they doing anything illegal with their products? Well, by taking advantage of our compliance service owners are able to confidently prove they are not engaging in anything illicit.” 

—  — —  — —

CLR: I know you are currently only in California; however, what are your plans for the future of cannabis recycling & sustainability? Or what would you like the future of cannabis sustainability to look like?

AZ:Geographical expansion is something we are certainly working towards. But as of now, we’re really excited about working with other sustainability-focused brands to co-create products that are biodegradable and can be put back into the supply chain, although it’s not as simple as many would think.”

 —  — —  — —

CLR: Give me examples of one easy renewability solution for (a) companies? one easy renewability solution for (b) dispensaries?

AZ: Currently it doesn’t exist. Our waste exports have been put on hold and recycling companies are not doing well right now. A dispensary will typically generate plastics and glass, but most recycling companies that have the infrastructure to do something with them won’t accept it because it’s cannabis waste. Small “mom and pop” operations might be interested in the plastics but recycling glass from the cannabis industry is extremely challenging.”

—  — —  — —

CLR: Is there one easy renewability solution for (c) end user consumers?

AZ: The most practical approach a consumer of cannabis can participate in is by returning their packaging to the dispensaries and letting the dispensaries include that with their waste programs. Most of the licensees that we work with are in the process of forming a workable solution for the end user aspect that fits within the state compliance guidelines.” 

—  — —  — —

CLR: What do you see for the future of cannabis sustainability and cannabis nationwide?

AZ: “I have hopes for cannabis sustainability. It may be very biased of me but there’s certainly potential for the cannabis industry to play a big role in biodegradable products. Naturally, hemp will be a big piece of that but cannabis waste consumers typically favor sustainability which ultimately means companies will have to find solutions that appeal to that.” 

“70% of our licensees inquire about cannabis waste sustainability and cannabis waste recycling.”

—  — —  — —

CLR: What one piece advise have you along the way that you wish you someone had told you when you first started out?

AZ:Hm, picking one piece is the hard part! But I would say be fast but patient. If something isn’t working out, scrap it, re-adjust, re-apply and repeat. At the same time being patient while you continue that process, but I mean real patience. We’re talking about years of patience not months.

—  — —  — —

CLR: Your view of current cannabis sustainability (or lack thereof) in 10 words or less?

AZ:Not enough volume yet to yield real long term results. – Got 10 exactly : )”

—  — —  — —

CLR: What advice can you offer to those individuals interested in starting a business similar to yours in any state?

AZ: “Be prepared to get your hands dirty. Anybody that thinks their above doing “their level’ in waste management is set to fail. Trucks break down, clients get confused, rain causes delays, employees get sick, and so on. As a logistics company you have to do whatever needs to be done to provide the client exceptional service.”

—  — —  — —

CLR: If in a vertically integrated program are you for or against state government compliant of renewability and cannabis waste?

AZ:Against. I believe cannabis companies should be required to follow certain procedures to maintain safe practices and responsible procedures however requiring recycling would be disastrous for business owners. Sustainability does not have stability. Waste is a very broad category and there are thousands of ways to be sustainable. But so far there isn’t a one size fits all.

There are different approaches for different situations, waste sub types, geographical areas, and so on. Thus, requiring companies to recycle will only put business owners in a position to not be in compliance. Sustainability is about education, testing, and patience.

Although we can offer limited solutions at a corporate level, many dispensary licensees haven’t yet figured out how to properly execute a compliant and successful end-user recycling program.”

—  — —  — —

CLR: What advice can you offer to the states as a whole concerning cannabis sustainability and the importance of utilizing it to the fullest extent, even to the point of state-governed compliance?

AZ: “Education. People need to understand how the waste world really works. It’s really confusing and contradicting. There are so many different waste processes and they each yield different results. I think it is vitally important that we continue doing research and testing and finding ways to make it interesting for consumers to pay attention to.”

“We do have several licensees telling us they get more and more patient requests for on-site recycling options and availability; that’s a great thing.” 

AZ: “We are also looking into the possibility of offering group education so that our existing licensed clients, the state’s cannabis employers, can learn more about cannabis waste renewability options and state-compliant rendering.” 

—  — —  — —

DOWNLOAD

Use this checklist to ensure any cannabis business remains compliant with the State of California.

California Cannabis Waste Compliance rules via EcoWaste:

  1. Do not sell, transfer, donate, or give away any cannabis waste.
  2. Dispose cannabis waste only in a secured waste receptacle specifically designated for cannabis waste.
  3. Keep cannabis waste in secured designated waste location on licensed premises until it can be collected.
  4. Make cannabis goods into cannabis waste by rendering the goods unusable and unrecognizable at minimum by removing any packaging.
  5. Record date and time the cannabis goods were rendered into cannabis waste.
  6. After collection obtain a manifest from hauler that indicates the date and time of each collection and confirmation of disposal at the solid waste or composting facility.
  7. Maintain records all activity related to the generation and disposal of the cannabis waste.
  8. These regulations are subject to change at any time per the State of California Code of Regulations and the Bureau of Cannabis Control.
  9. *Note if you are using our cannabis waste disposal services we provide the following for your business and records secured waste receptacles, date, time, and weight of cannabis waste when collected (via manifest), date, time, and weight when cannabis waste is either disposed of at a solid waste or composting facility (via manifest).

StaffStaffMarch 24, 2020
dea-medical-marijuana-1280x640.jpg

3min2030

Late last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Justice announced action to further expand opportunities for scientific and medical research on marijuana in the United States.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was filed for public inspection on March 20.  The proposed rule was then published in the Federal Register on Monday, March 23.  The new approach will expand opportunities for marijuana growers who seek to grow marijuana for research purposes and outline the agency’s proposed process for administering the new program, consistent with applicable law.

“The Drug Enforcement Administration continues to support additional research into marijuana and its components, and we believe registering more growers will advance the scientific and medical research already being conducted,” said DEA Acting Administrator Dhillon.  “DEA is making progress to register additional marijuana growers for federally authorized research, and will continue to work with other relevant federal agencies to expedite the necessary next steps.”

This proposed rule will result in additional registered growers and a larger, more diverse variety of marijuana available for research. The new regulations will enable DEA to evaluate each of the 37 pending applications to grow marijuana for research under the applicable legal standard and conform the overall program to relevant laws.

The release of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is the latest and most significant action taken to expand the number of registered marijuana growers in the United States and underscores the federal government’s support for scientific and medical research with marijuana and its chemical constituents.

Since the beginning of this Administration, there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of active researchers registered with DEA to conduct research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, and marijuana derivatives – from 377 in January 2017 to 595 in March 2020. At present, more researchers are registered to conduct research on marijuana, marijuana extracts, and marijuana derivatives than on any other schedule I substance in the United States. More than 70 percent of DEA’s total schedule I research registrant population is registered to conduct research on these substances.  To accommodate this growth in research, DEA has increased the annual production quota for marijuana by 575 percent – from 472 kilograms in 2017 to 3,200 kilograms in 2020.


AvatarHeather AllmanMarch 16, 2020
Ceramic-Water-Pipe-Mug-8oz-Coffee-Pot_media-1_480x480_1_1024x1024-1-150x150-1.jpg

14min1130

What do you think about doing first thing when you open your eyes in the morning?

  • Wakeup: Drinking a wake up cup of morning coffee?
  • Rollout: Having a little cannabis bake-up morning? 

Or like myself and many cannabis consumers, are you thinking about a “wake and bake”-themed morning which combines your love of the two C’s: coffee and cannabis. It means to consume coffee for the waking up while simultaneously “baking,” or using cannabis for balancing your mind and body before you start the day — and it has evolved into an improving, strengthening, and vital part of my morning ritual. However, should it be?

The Matter of Context and Science

If we look at the science of how caffeinated coffee and cannabis work in your brain, there is not only one answer as to whether cannabis + coffee = a healthy mix. It is, and conversely, it isn’t. 

Caffeine and cannabinoids have several opposing effects on the body’s physical and mental states. Low doses of caffeine most likely do not affect CBD, but some of its anti-inflammatory and sedation effects may be diminished.  

Conversely, high intake of caffeine can intensify memory impairment because of interactions in the brain at the adenosine receptors where brain signaling, or transmission, occurs.

Since it is a stimulant that is weakly inhibited by THC and CBD, one might expect the caffeine to overpower and dominate the cannabinoids; however, the interaction of your morning wake and bake ingredients is actually not so simple nor straightforward. 

While caffeine activates the sympathetic nervous system intrinsic to our body’s stress-response, THC mitigates or quells many of the effects of human stress. So the brain is confused by opposing signals from the caffeine and the THC. 

Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine have profound impact on sleep amount and the quality of your sleep, such as sleep disturbances or dysfunction of sleep rhythms. 

Caffeine also “amplifies memory impairment caused by THC. And this effect may be specific to short-term memory,” according to Project CBD. They continue:

“In cases where cannabis is used to ease trauma, caffeine drinkers may end up benefiting by combining the herb or its components with a cup of Joe. But this might not be the case with a stressed employee who drinks coffee to get through the day. A few preliminary studies have shown that drinking coffee occasionally or frequently had the same effect: both amplified THC’s ability to temporarily weaken memory.”

On the other hand, mild or low doses of  THC have mild sedative effects that manifest as a decrease in sleep onset, or going to sleep earlier, and on early onset of REM sleep. Plus THC has been shown to increase total sleep time and slow wave sleep.

In high doses,  THC can have hallucinatory action in a dream state in addition to decreased REM sleep. Again early sleep onset, or going to bed earlier and increase in total sleep time, has been documented.

Like caffeine, low doses of THC can temporarily excite memory function and productivity, while high doses of both caffeine and THC slow down or inhibit neural synapses and neurotransmission in the hippocampus and frontal cortex — where some of the main memory centers that we discussed earlier are concentrated.

Coffee or caffeine and cannabis have equally addictive properties in addition to memory impairment. In fact, cannabis abstinence shows fewer withdrawal symptoms than caffeine abstinence!

The Matter of Context and Perception

In his straightforward Cannabis Discourse, Jacob Levine reminds us that this nation is 100% copacetic with »using, »overusing, and »repeatedly using legal, regulated substances, such as the societally-acceptable coffee, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and sugar. 

The problem, rather, lies in the context of cannabis use:

“We need to rethink our perception of drugs and substances in general. We humans have always used drugs and will use drugs well into the foreseeable future, whether for medical, recreational, or spiritual purposes. The main issue we have with drugs is not the drugs in and of themselves, but the context of their uses.”

Our own preconceived thoughts concerning “drugs” and how we view drugs within our culture and in the role of national healthcare is skewed. We must make the individual context shift discussed for ourselves, first and foremost. Only then can we help shift the collective national mindset of “drugs” to a more productive context and beneficial public discussion.

Consider Levine’s stark examples:

(1)-Having a 10mg edible before going to sleep every night is not the same as smoking weed every day and neglecting one’s children.

(2)-Getting drunk at a wedding and having a blast without causing harm to oneself or others is not the same as getting drunk on a Tuesday morning and driving to work drunk.

(3)-Getting morphine at a hospital as an analgesic for one’s broken bones is not the same as recreationally shooting up morphine with dirty needles.

“If we try to look outside the scope of our preconceived ideas about drugs’ physiological and societal effects, and instead scrutinize the context of where and how drugs can be used, we can begin to have a rational discussion which exists outside of the infamous binary split of whether we should or should not use drugs.”

Let’s rewind. In his book High Society by Mike Jay, the discovery of how to crystallize a pure chemical substance free from contaminants transformed the scientific community,  particularly in Germany where they further advanced into an industrial science market that supplied new plant-derived compounds to masses of pharmaceutical companies. 

Then in 1820, caffeine was isolated from coffee and in 1860, the coca leaves would yield the most powerful and lucrative stimulant to date in the form of cocaine.

In 1886, CocaCola was introduced to the United States and was a mixture of coca (cocaine), sugar, and another mild stimulant, the West African kola nut.

Although it was marketed to the masses as a temperance beverage, one of the movement’s leaders filled a lawsuit in 1911 charging that caffeine in CocaCola was dangerously addictive. After much litigation, the company cut the caffeine in half. 

But cocaine, or coca, swept across the U.S. as it was promised by the Parke-Davis Company to “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent,” as reported by Joanna Bourke in her paper on Enjoying the high life—drugs in history and culture.

In the U.S., we successfully shifted our cocaine conversation and context with the drug and food ingredient quickly falling out of favor with the public long before the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

In Cannabis Discourse, Levine discusses the dramatic marijuana U.S. context shift that must occur for legalization and normalization progress. He notes that this necessary shift involves three distinct goals:

  • “To encourage a rational and logical approach to formulating future drug policies by providing an entire spectrum of today’s views surrounding marijuana.”
  • “To encourage rational thinking in a world where extremely polarized and reactionary views are clouding our judgment.”
  • “To make you think, rather than convince you of personal opinions.”

Subsequently, the future political and scientific cannabis discussion, must facilitate an overall mutual shift to a new context that consists of the de-stigmatized acknowledgement of cannabis as medicine, objective analysis of beneficial therapeutic cannabis use, and independent research on and availability of quality cannabis, to name only a few. 

You can DOWNLOAD your own free copy of Jacob Levine’s  comprehensive and concise book Cannabis Discourse here.

In the meantime, maybe think about your wake and bake ritual a bit more thoroughly before tomorrow morning. 

Pause for a moment. Read this article again. Consider the amount of caffeine you will be ingesting with your cannabis and what outcome you want from the day and or night that follows your simultaneous wake and bake consumption. 

References

¹Mike Jay, High Society. Published, 2010.

²Jacob Levine, Cannabis Discourse, 2018.


AvatarHeather AllmanMarch 9, 2020
Screenshot_20200309-151029_Photos-150x150-1.jpg

14min1140

Author: Heather Allman

 

ON THE BURNER— Interview with Adam Benjamin, CEO and Founder of MEDIFARM Party, Ltd.

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Facilities located in Queensland, Australia on The Sunshine Coast
  • MEDIFARM has formed an exclusive partnership with TIKUN OLAM, a first and foremost supplier of medical cannabis in Israel, a brand globally recognised as the pioneer of modern medical cannabis throughout the cannabis community. 

Adam Benjamin, CEO  and Founder of MEDIFARM, Australia 

In 2015, Adam Benjamin founded MEDIFARM, he says, to bring  cannabinoid medical research from Israel, education and global patient treatment options to assist Australian doctors to help their patients with cannabinoid treatments.

Benjamin holds both a Bachelors degree in Science and a Masters degree in International Commerce from the University of NSW. Throughout his life, he says he has  maintained a strong personal interest in medicine and many of his family members are specialist physicians.

According to Benjamin, he is particularly interested in the “commercial aspects of the possibilities of a novel treatment improving patient health so drastically as cannabis does.”

When we first spoke, Benjamin and the Medifarm team was fresh from winning the inaugural Australian Medical Cannabis 2019 Cultivator of the Year Award. Medifarm was also a finalist for Manufacturing and Export in the 2019 Gold Coast Business Awards. 

On a day in the fall of 2019, I caught up  with him as he strolled through one the many MEDIFARM Australian Made cannabis greenhouses. Adam and I had a productive hour-long conversation via WhatsApp, starting with the basics. 

CANNABIS LAW REPORT: What prompted your decision to locate MEDIFARM on the Sunshine Coast of Australia?

ADAM BENJAMIN: It’s where good agriculture meets good healthcare.

CLR: What gives MEDIFARM the edge over your fellow Australian medical cannabis licensees?

AB: We have over 15 years of advanced international Intellectual Property, and we believe we have unique medical cannabis plant strains that have been clinically proven by our Israeli partners at Tikun Olam to lead the world in their medical applications.

CLR: Of which current MEDIFARM achievements are you most proud?

AB: Our innovation and commitment. MEDIFARM is Australia’s first licenced medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing company. We are in an exclusive Oceana partnership with the global pioneers in medical cannabis, TIKUN OLAM based in Israel.

CLR: In summing up your MEDIFARM mission, what would you like to emphasize?

AB: MEDIFARM specialises in plant to patient care, exercises high standards of pharmacovigilance, delivers its best medical cannabis products for patient treatments, and most importantly prioritizes patient duty of care.

CLR: In your experience, what specific benefits and strengths have you seen from using the vertically integrated business model at MEDIFARM?

AB: I see great strength in it, growth in the national cannabis sector, accountability, and complete value of custody from seed to sale.

CLR: What are your first TWO thoughts when thinking of Australia’s current medical cannabis market?

AB: There is without doubt need for more access to medical cannabis and the Australian market needs to innovate.

CLR: The SERVICES sector dominate the Australian market over financing, manufacturing, Agriculture, and trade. But 57% of country’s exports are generated from  the Agriculture and Mining economic sectors. Would you consider MEDIFARM to be in the Services economic sector as much as you are in the Agriculture sector?

AB: Absolutely. We are in multiple Services here at Medifarm:  Grower/Farmer, Geneticist, product development, healthcare, problem solving and conflict resolution with our plants and with people, and patient service, or our highly prioritized duty of care.

MEDIFARM’s primary priorities are both quality cannabis agricultural production through  what we believe to be our high standards of pharmacovigilance and also we need to think about  increased patient service through improved access and care.

PHARMACOVIGILANCE: phar·ma·co·vig·i·lance

/ˌfärməkōˈvijələns/

noun meaning the practice of monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they have been licensed for use, especially in order to identify and evaluate previously unreported adverse reactions.

CLR: According to Marijuana Business Daily in September 2019 titled Global Cannabis: Australia: “Business opportunities exist in cultivation, import/export and the ancillary sector—but not retail, because medical cannabis is sold in pharmacies.”

How does Australia’s dynamic globalization and mixed market free economy give MEDIFARM an advantage in having your business headquartered in Australia? 

AB: Regulation by national, centralized TGA, governance. Regulators include the office of drug control and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Licenses over medical cultivation and production, research and Manufacturing are governed by these Australian government bodies. Cultivation licenses are driven by demand in Australia, so currently there is no cap on the number of permits that can be issued by the Office of Drug Control.

We Australian Growers have scaled up production since mid 2019 and our domestic industry is expected to meet demand with some local with some exported product.

CLR: What is the MEDIFARM advantage concerning inhaled vaporized medical cannabis products?

AB: Our strict “Value of Custody” embedded in our seed to sale, plant to patient, vertically integrated company applies to all aspects of our business model: breeding, growing, developing, analyzing, producing, supplying, training, educating, consulting, and researching. This process would be thoroughly finalized before any medical cannabis product is sold over the counter to a member of the Australian public.

CLR: How do you at MEDIFARM successfully maintain focus and execution of world class pharmacovigilance in your daily production of therapeutic medical cannabis prescriptions and sales?

AB: We care very much about, not only our wonderful Australian environment and people, but also about our final medical cannabis product that the patient purchases. We have a vested interest in our plant medicine succeeding for qualified patients who have the medical condition for which we carefully craft and cultivate our cannabis.

We cultivate and manufacture our medical cannabis oils in Australia in strict accordance with TGA Order No. 93 for pharmacovigilance. Our products must be prescribed by an authorized Medical Specialist or general practitioner.

SPECIFICS:

MEDIFARM-AUSTRALIAN MEDIA:

LAWS:

  • Special Access Scheme >

2893, Special Access Scheme Category B

  • Explanatory Statement >

Therapeutic Goods Order No. 93 (Standard for Medicinal … – Federal Register of Legislation

  • Text >

Therapeutic Goods Order No. 93 (Standard for Medicinal Cannabis – Federal Register of Legislation

  • DOWNLOAD >

TGO 93

Therapeutic Goods (Standard for Medicinal Cannabis) (TGO 93) Order 2017

Conforming with Therapeutic Goods (Standard for Medicinal Cannabis) (TGO 93) Order

Reported by Heather Allman for Cannabis Law Report


AvatarHeather AllmanMarch 9, 2020
Screenshot_20200309-151029_Photos-150x150-1.jpg

14min1250

Author: Heather Allman

 

ON THE BURNER— Interview with Adam Benjamin, Founding Director of MEDIFARM Party, Ltd.

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Facilities located in Queensland, Australia on The Sunshine Coast
  • MEDIFARM has formed an exclusive partnership with TIKUN OLAM, a first and foremost supplier of medical cannabis in Israel, a brand globally recognised as the pioneer of modern medical cannabis throughout the cannabis community. 

Adam Benjamin, CEO  and Founder of MEDIFARM, Australia 

In 2015, Adam Benjamin founded MEDIFARM, he says, to bring  cannabinoid medical research from Israel, education and global patient treatment options to assist Australian doctors to help their patients with cannabinoid treatments.

Benjamin holds both a Bachelors degree in Science and a Masters degree in International Commerce from the University of NSW. Throughout his life, he says he has  maintained a strong personal interest in medicine and many of his family members are specialist physicians.

According to Benjamin, he is particularly interested in the “commercial aspects of the possibilities of a novel treatment improving patient health so drastically as cannabis does.”

When we first spoke, Benjamin and the Medifarm team was fresh from winning the inaugural Australian Medical Cannabis 2019 Cultivator of the Year Award. Medifarm was also a finalist for Manufacturing and Export in the 2019 Gold Coast Business Awards. 

On a day in the fall of 2019, I caught up  with him as he strolled through one the many MEDIFARM Australian Made cannabis greenhouses. Adam and I had a productive hour-long conversation via WhatsApp, starting with the basics. 

CANNABIS LAW REPORT: What prompted your decision to locate MEDIFARM on the Sunshine Coast of Australia?

ADAM BENJAMIN: It’s where good agriculture meets good healthcare.

CLR: What gives MEDIFARM the edge over your fellow Australian medical cannabis licensees?

AB: We have over 15 years of advanced international Intellectual Property, and we believe we have unique medical cannabis plant strains that have been clinically proven by our Israeli partners at Tikun Olam to lead the world in their medical applications.

CLR: Of which current MEDIFARM achievements are you most proud?

AB: Our innovation and commitment. MEDIFARM is Australia’s first licenced medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing company. We are in an exclusive Oceana partnership with the global pioneers in medical cannabis, TIKUN OLAM based in Israel.

CLR: In summing up your MEDIFARM mission, what would you like to emphasize?

AB: MEDIFARM specialises in plant to patient care, exercises high standards of pharmacovigilance, delivers its best medical cannabis products for patient treatments, and most importantly prioritizes patient duty of care.

CLR: In your experience, what specific benefits and strengths have you seen from using the vertically integrated business model at MEDIFARM?

AB: I see great strength in it, growth in the national cannabis sector, accountability, and complete value of custody from seed to sale.

CLR: What are your first TWO thoughts when thinking of Australia’s current medical cannabis market?

AB: There is without doubt need for more access to medical cannabis and the Australian market needs to innovate.

CLR: The SERVICES sector dominate the Australian market over financing, manufacturing, Agriculture, and trade. But 57% of country’s exports are generated from  the Agriculture and Mining economic sectors. Would you consider MEDIFARM to be in the Services economic sector as much as you are in the Agriculture sector?

AB: Absolutely. We are in multiple Services here at Medifarm:  Grower/Farmer, Geneticist, product development, healthcare, problem solving and conflict resolution with our plants and with people, and patient service, or our highly prioritized duty of care.

MEDIFARM’s primary priorities are both quality cannabis agricultural production through  what we believe to be our high standards of pharmacovigilance and also we need to think about  increased patient service through improved access and care.

PHARMACOVIGILANCE: phar·ma·co·vig·i·lance

/ˌfärməkōˈvijələns/

noun meaning the practice of monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they have been licensed for use, especially in order to identify and evaluate previously unreported adverse reactions.

CLR: According to Marijuana Business Daily in September 2019 titled Global Cannabis: Australia: “Business opportunities exist in cultivation, import/export and the ancillary sector—but not retail, because medical cannabis is sold in pharmacies.”

How does Australia’s dynamic globalization and mixed market free economy give MEDIFARM an advantage in having your business headquartered in Australia? 

AB: Regulation by national, centralized TGA, governance. Regulators include the office of drug control and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Licenses over medical cultivation and production, research and Manufacturing are governed by these Australian government bodies. Cultivation licenses are driven by demand in Australia, so currently there is no cap on the number of permits that can be issued by the Office of Drug Control.

We Australian Growers have scaled up production since mid 2019 and our domestic industry is expected to meet demand with some local with some exported product.

CLR: What is the MEDIFARM advantage concerning inhaled vaporized medical cannabis products?

AB: Our strict “Value of Custody” embedded in our seed to sale, plant to patient, vertically integrated company applies to all aspects of our business model: breeding, growing, developing, analyzing, producing, supplying, training, educating, consulting, and researching. This process would be thoroughly finalized before any medical cannabis product is sold over the counter to a member of the Australian public.

CLR: How do you at MEDIFARM successfully maintain focus and execution of world class pharmacovigilance in your daily production of therapeutic medical cannabis prescriptions and sales?

AB: We care very much about, not only our wonderful Australian environment and people, but also about our final medical cannabis product that the patient purchases. We have a vested interest in our plant medicine succeeding for qualified patients who have the medical condition for which we carefully craft and cultivate our cannabis.

We cultivate and manufacture our medical cannabis oils in Australia in strict accordance with TGA Order No. 93 for pharmacovigilance. Our products must be prescribed by an authorized Medical Specialist or general practitioner.

SPECIFICS:

MEDIFARM-AUSTRALIAN MEDIA:

LAWS:

  • Special Access Scheme >

2893, Special Access Scheme Category B

  • Explanatory Statement >

Therapeutic Goods Order No. 93 (Standard for Medicinal … – Federal Register of Legislation

  • Text >

Therapeutic Goods Order No. 93 (Standard for Medicinal Cannabis – Federal Register of Legislation

  • DOWNLOAD >

TGO 93

Therapeutic Goods (Standard for Medicinal Cannabis) (TGO 93) Order 2017

Conforming with Therapeutic Goods (Standard for Medicinal Cannabis) (TGO 93) Order

Reported by Heather Allman for Cannabis Law Report



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