In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said there should be “more competition” among growers who supply marijuana for federal research, though he said he thought the current applicant pool of 26 was too many.
“Can you clarify the position of the Justice Department regarding these applications?” Hatch asked the head of the DOJ.
“We have a marijuana research system working now. There is one supplier of the marijuana for that research. People have asked that there be multiple sources of the marijuana for medicinal research and have asked that it be approved. I believe there are now 26 applications for approval of suppliers who would provide marijuana for medicinal research. Each one of those has to be supervised by the DEA, and I have raised questions about how many and let’s be sure we’re doing this in the right way because it costs a lot of money to supervise these [indecipherable]. I think it would be healthy to have some more competition in the supply but I’m sure we don’t need 26 new suppliers.”
Sessions was representing the Justice Department during an oversight hearing. He has been asked to speak to the Trump administration about DOJ policies on drugs, crime, terrorism, immigration and other topics. The hearing is the Senate Judiciary Committee’s first opportunity to quiz Sessions since his confirmation hearing.
The hearing is still ongoing and this story will be updated.
Polly joined The Cannabist in December 2016 as a digital producer. She has been creating print, web and video content for a couple of decades. She returned to her home town of Denver in 2012 after living in eleven other cities in four countries, and…
Cannabis Industry Experts Share Advice on Successful Career Transitioning
“Can you give me any advice on how to transition to the Cannabis Industry?”
This is the question I get asked most.
Let me start by saying that opportunities in the cannabis Industry are vast and the numbers are enticing. Entrepreneur Magazinesays that 283,000 Cannabis Industry Jobs will be created by 2020 and New Frontier Data expects the Cannabis Industry to be a $24 Billion industry by that same year. Enticing indeed.
Reaching out to the real experts for advice.
I have been living in Denver, Colorado for more than 10 years and have been active in the cannabis space from the beginning. I have had the opportunity and honor to connect with hundreds of men and women and businesses proudly active in the cannabis space both directly and through my cannabis industry networking platform. To get the best answers to the question I contacted the experts I know and respect. This is what I found:
Openly embrace Cannabis Legalization.
You can’t walk between the raindrops of legal cannabis. Fully embrace it to friends, family, Facebook and all your networking platforms. If you want a piece of the multibillion dollar cannabis pie you are going to have to get wet.
Most likely the person standing between you and opportunity is a cannabis industry pioneer or works for one. Keep in mind that she or he risked money, reputation and jail time to get where they are now and their sacrifice and relentless advocacy gave us the opportunities we have now in this new industry. If they even smell a hint of apathy toward cannabis legalization you’re finished.
I tell these folks to start by going to a local dispensary. 99 times out of 100 they will find the dispensary staff to be nothing short of professional. They will be versed about their products, respect your level of knowledge and have the patience to educate you. Buy something and try it; know the product!
Recognize Cannabis Businesses as “for profit” endeavors.
Cannabis businesses are highly regulated, over taxed, wrought with excessive governmental fees and live under the yoke of constantly increasing compliance rules. Every business pays and every business pays the same. All this is happening as cannabis pricescontinue to fall.
Now more than ever cannabis business owners need production efficiency, loss prevention, branding, marketing, increased sales volume, cost reduction and more. Do you have the skills to help?
This recruiter uses the word “love”.
I also reached out to Robin Ann Morris who is the owner of Mary Jane Agency, Ohio’s first cannabis employment agency, to get her take on the question. Morris advises her clients to, “Take what you love doing and apply it to the cannabis industry. Everything you are doing now is going to have to be done in the cannabis industry.”
“Take what you love doing and apply it to the cannabis industry?” That’s maybe the best advice of all.
Author Bio:James Kaufman is the founder and editor of the Cannabis Associates Network. James holds a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder and currently resides in Denver, Colorado.
Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive cannabis compound touted for its medicinal promise — but marijuana- and hemp-derived extracts rich in CBD and low in intoxicating THC are facing a future yet to be determined.
The Cannabist’s special report “CBD, TBD” explores the issues with CBD — federal-state conflicts, national drug policy, pioneering research efforts and the paths toward the compound’s full legalization. This is the sixth installment in an ongoing series. Coming soon: A look at CBD’s path forward with hemp products.
This time next year, an investigational drug hailed as a breakthrough in the science of cannabidiol could be prescribed to children suffering from treatment-resistant epilepsy.
The prospect of its success, however, has caused some unease in the American hemp industry.
The company is expected to wrap up its New Drug Application to the FDA in the coming weeks; the federal agency could conduct its Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) inspection by June.
If the FDA were to give its blessing to that application, Epidiolex could be readied for commercial sale on the prescription drug market by this time next year, GW officials told The Cannabist.
Cannabis advocates and purveyors of hemp-derived, CBD-rich extracts fear FDA approval of Epidiolex could lead to a pharmaceutical commandeering of promising cannabis compounds.
The company and some prominent members of the medical community, however, trumpet the attempt to harness CBD’s potential and package it into a medicine that conveys the safety, consistency and clarity that FDA approval affords.
“I can’t tell you how happy I was to see those three letters (GMP) in relation to cannabidiol,” Dr. Amy R. Brooks-Kayal, chief of pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said earlier this year.
She was speaking in Denver at the annual meeting of the Teratology Society, which focuses on birth defects and pediatric health issues. During a symposium on Marijuana and Child Development, Brooks-Kayal spoke to the topic of cannabinoids for the treatment of pediatric epilepsy.
Some of those children would end up in the intensive care unit, Brooks-Kayal said.
Children’s Hospital Colorado does not prescribe or recommend medical cannabis products; however, Brooks-Kayal implores parents to let doctors know if they’ve given their child CBD or another form of medical cannabis — and to not stop the other medications cold-turkey.
GW’s efforts might not be the end-all, be-all solution for these hard-to-treat epilepsy conditions, but to have products put through rigorous testing, trials and regulations are steps in the right direction, Brooks-Kayal said.
GW expressed confidence that CBD is medicine and that the pharmaceutical approval was the appropriate path, despite the fact that extracts rich in the compound are already widely available in dispensaries — and online — in states that have legalized forms of medical cannabis.
“I think physicians, and I think patients, prefer to have a drug that’s been through that very stringent process,” said Steve Schultz, GW’s vice president of investor relations.
Accompanying the first-to-market designation, the hallmarks of the FDA approval process — potential for insurance coverage, directions on dosing, information about drug interactions, quality assurance, and other checks and balances — are important differentiators for GW as the company sets off to carve a niche for itself in cannabinoid drug development, Schultz said.
“You don’t ever get that kind of instruction with a dispensary-based product,” he said.
Some producers are cautiously optimistic, taking the proverbial wait-and-see approach, while others have begun taking precautions such as changing labels and branding to highlight their products as “whole plant hemp extracts” as opposed to “CBD oil.”
Executives at GB Sciences Inc., a Las Vegas firm aiming to develop and patent several pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoid therapies, have extensively evaluated the potential regulatory issues that Epidiolex could raise, said Andrea L. Small-Howard, the company’s chief science officer.
In the event Epidiolex is approved, Small-Howard anticipates the FDA pathway to widen for the creation and testing of novel CBD formulations. At the same time, it would significantly disrupt the market for CBD products sold in dispensaries or online under state-regulated cannabis regimes, she said.
“These (state marijuana) programs are already in violation of federal law, therefore, an Epidiolex approval may push the issue of who has jurisdiction over pharmaceuticals, when CBD becomes an FDA-approved pharmaceutical ingredient,” Small-Howard said.
Others argue that consumers should have access to CBD products outside of the prescription-drug realm.
Alternatively, siloing off CBD and other cannabinoids as pharmaceutical-only would limit the types of products available and result in them becoming more expensive, Stanley said.
There is still much to be learned about medical applications for CBD and other cannabinoids.
“It’s such a unique plant with unique abilities. I think we’re just scratching the surface on it,” said Gabriel Ettenson, general manager for Broomfield-based Elixinol, a manufacturer of CBD oils and hemp products.
Ettenson isn’t losing any sleep over GW and what may come from Epidiolex coming to market.
“There really isn’t any significant fear that I have about what may happen if GW gets approval,” he said.
Heike Newman, a senior regulatory manager at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, said she is curious as to what ripple effects may come from Epidiolex making it to market.
Such an approval could ultimately trigger a federal down-scheduling of CBD, reducing the barriers to research for Newman’s colleagues, she speculated. Research on cannabis has been hampered by its designation as a Schedule I controlled substance.
“I think they’re showing that CBD has actually a medicinal benefit, and I think that’s huge,” she said.
Epidiolex hurdles include potential expense
For all the excitement and consternation swirling around Epidiolex, the drug’s approval is not a slam dunk, said Ken Trbovich, an analyst for financial services firm Janney Montgomery Scott LLC who follows GW.
Patients in GW’s study already were taking various anti-epileptic drugs, including Onfi (clobazam), an effective treatment for Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, Trbovich said. And there’s a correlation between the plasma levels of clobazam and the effectiveness of the drug, he added.
“In other words, the higher the dose, the higher the response,” Trbovich wrote via email to The Cannabist. “There is a drug-drug interaction such that treating a patient with Epidiolex increases the plasma level of clobazam and its active metabolite.
“Thus, it is unclear how much of the treatment benefit resulted from the increased plasma levels of clobazam as opposed to the independent response to Epidiolex.”
Then, late last week, word came that Zogenix, an Emeryville, Calif.-based pharmaceutical firm’s non-CBD drug showed positive data in late-stage clinical trials of patients with Dravet. The announcement sent GW’s stock tumbling and created additional questions for Trbovich.
“The strength of this data should cause investors to reconsider the relative efficacy of Epidiolex and the implications this has for its commercial success in Dravet, LGS and other epilepsy indications,” he wrote in a Sept. 29 report to investors.
To this point, consensus estimates pegged Epidiolex as a $1 billion drug by 2021, Reuters has reported, citing forecasts from Thomson Reuters Cortellis.
Outside of the lab, GW is effectively “cooking with gas,” considering the prevalent industry of hemp-derived CBD extracts, he added.
“There is no other orphan drug, or orphan biologic, of which I am aware, that a patient has the option of going down to a vitamin store or local pharmacy and buying an over-the-counter alternative,” he said. “While GW (scientists) have been great pioneers in conducting the scientific research to prove CBD has some effect in well-controlled clinical studies, CBD oils are available in the overwhelming majority of states.”
Trbovich expects GW will charge a hefty price — some analysts have projected in the range of $35,000 to $50,000 per patient per year — for Epidiolex, resulting in insurers restricting the drug to those who have Dravet or Lennox Gastaut.
Even those who receive coverage, depending on the nature of their co-pays/co-insurance, may find the cost of Epidiolex to be too high and opt instead for CBD oil from a dispensary,” he said.
Schultz, in his interviews with The Cannabist, declined to provide an estimated cost for Epidiolex. He reiterated that GW expects the medicine will be covered by insurance — not an option for products sold online, in health stores or dispensaries.
Trbovich, as of his Aug. 8 research report, has a “sell” rating on GW.
A “David and Goliath” battle, or not so much?
Schultz also shakes off the notion that GW’s progress with cannabinoid drug development are a means to keep CBD under lock and key from the masses or to cash in on a plant that should be available to all.
“GW Pharmaceuticals is not Big Pharma,” he said.
GW (Nasdaq: GWPH) employs a staff of about 200, generates $10 million in annual revenue and has a market value of roughly $2.8 billion. Its stock closed at $114.54 on Thursday and has been trading in the range of $92.65 and $137.88 during the past year.
Comparatively, companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Roche each employ more than 90,000 people, bring in north of $50 billion in revenue each year and boast market caps with dollar values of the hundreds of billions.
GW may be a smaller player when sized up against the pharmaceutical giants, but it’s considered a behemoth by cannabis industry advocates who classify the juxtaposition as a “David and Goliath” battle.
GW is not trying to monopolize the market but rather aiming to ensure that patients can have access to medicine that is rigorously tested and approved, Schultz countered.
The state law changes are one part of a two-step process, Schultz said. The company would need to have Epidiolex rescheduled by the DEA — the company is hoping for a Schedule IV designation — and state rescheduling to ensure that patients have access for a prescription, he said.
“Where it requires legislative actions, we want to make sure we’re out in front of that and taking action as soon as possible,” he said, noting that the company is in a “mode of understanding” to learn about each state’s requirements and responding to those rules in advance of Epidiolex’s expected launch.
Schultz disputed claims that GW — with the might of the FDA at its side — would run the tables and stamp out sellers of CBD-rich oils. His firm, rather, aims to provide a compelling new addition to the market as a whole.
It’s ultimately up to the patients and the physicians to decide what works best for them, he said.
“Our objective, simply, is to make an FDA-approved medicine, purified CBD medicine available for patients who would be looking at an additional option,” he said. “Whatever is available at dispensaries is really not even an element of our consideration. Our goal is to just add to those options that are available.”
Alicia Wallace joined The Cannabist in July 2016, covering national marijuana policy and business. In her 14 years as a business news reporter, her coverage has spanned topics such as the economy, natural foods, airlines, biotech, retail,…
An adhesives firm and a cannabis business have agreed to patch up their differences and send the “gorilla” packing from dispensaries.
The Gorilla Glue Co. and GG Strains LLC reached a settlement in the trademark infringement case the Ohio-based glue maker brought against the Las Vegas-based developer of marijuana strains, court records show.
Under the settlement agreement, GG Strains and its licensees of the company’s numbered strains initially named Gorilla Glue #4 (additionally #1 and #5) will have to transition away from that name, any gorilla imagery and similarities to Gorilla Glue Co. trademarks by Sept. 19, 2018, according to documents filed in federal court for Ohio’s southern district.
GG Strains also will eventually have to shut down its gorillaglue4.com website and transfer that domain name to Gorilla Glue Co. by Jan. 1, 2020, according to the Sept. 21 court order.
Other terms of the agreement included the following:
The parties cannot disparage each others’ companies, services or actions
GG Strains has 12 months to cease using the word “Gorilla,” an image of a gorilla or the “Gorilla” trademarks.
In the nine-month period following Dec. 18, 2017, GG Strains can only use the Gorilla words, images or trademarks preceded by a different name and the phrase “formerly known as” or within a “History” page on GG Strains’ website.
GG Strains is required to disable the gorillaglue4.com website (can redirect it until Jan. 1, 2020, and explain the redirect for nine months following Sept. 19) and transfer website to Gorilla Glue Co., which will not activate or use it.
Assign interest in GG Strains’ registered “Gorilla Glue” trademarks to Gorilla Glue by Jan. 1, 2020.
Affiliated companies, dispensaries, cultivators and other partners have to stop using the word “gorilla,” or any Gorilla Glue Co. trademarks or imagery. Licensees of the strain have up to 90 days from Sept. 19, 2017, to stop using the gorilla word, images or trademarks. For 12 months after Sept. 19, 2017, GG Strains and only its licensing partners can use the prohibited words if preceded by a different name and the phrase “formerly known as.”
The settlement did not involve any monetary transactions between the firms, said Tom Hankinson, Gorilla Glue Co.’s attorney, and officials for GG Strains.
Gorilla Glue Co. and GG Strains reaching settlement terms was a “good thing,” Hankinson said Wednesday.
“I hope that other industry participants will respect these companies’ resolution of the matter,” he said. “I can’t comment specifically on Gorilla Glue’s future activities, but it has invested a great deal in the Gorilla Glue brand. It means a lot to the company and its stakeholders, and it would be a good bet that the company intends to protect its rights in that brand.”
GG Strains officials are in the throes of rebranding efforts and plan to contact partners, licensees and other industry members informing them of the settlement, the new names and some of the timetables outlined in the agreement, said Catherine Franklin, the company’s chief executive officer. The new names include: GG4 and/or Original Glue, GG5 and/or New Glue, and GG1 and/or Sister Glue, according to documents GG Strains provided to The Cannabist.
Ross Johnson, a founder of GG Strains, estimated the dispute and the ongoing rebranding efforts cost the firm $250,000.
“We’re going to survive; we’re going to overcome it,” Johnson told The Cannabist on Wednesday. “Is it a setback? Most definitely it is a setback. But it’s all behind us now, and it’s allowing us to move forward.”
The Sharonville, Ohio-based Gorilla Glue Co. filed the lawsuit against GG Strains in March, alleging trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition and cybersquatting.
By licensing and marketing products under the “confusingly similar” names of Gorilla Glue #4, Gorilla Glue #1 and Gorilla Glue, #5, GG Strains is trading on — and profiting from — the reputation and goodwill the Gorilla Glue Co. built during its 23 years of business, the firm alleged in the March 24 complaint.
Gorilla Glue Co.’s initial claims for relief included having GG Strains stop using the Gorilla Glue names, logos and imagery; deliver up for destruction any advertisements, signs, clothing or other materials containing the alleged infringing marks; disable the gorillaglue4.com website and transfer the domain to Gorilla Glue Co.; withdraw and cancel any applications or trademarks containing the words “Gorilla Glue”; and pay any and all profits arising from the alleged unlawful acts.
GG Strains officials denied the infringement claims, arguing that the two brands could coexist — akin to the Deltas (faucets and airlines) and Doves (soaps and chocolates) of the world. GG Strains executives and founders also said they started a rebranding effort to change the “Gorilla Glue” numbered strains to “GG4,” “GG1,” and “GG5.”
According to the strain company, the naming had originated from a reputed episode where the company’s founders and budtenders commented on the glue-like, sticky nature of the plant’s resinous trichomes.
Alicia Wallace joined The Cannabist in July 2016, covering national marijuana policy and business. In her 14 years as a business news reporter, her coverage has spanned topics such as the economy, natural foods, airlines, biotech, retail,…
The price of a pound of legal marijuana continues to plummet in 2017, according to a new report tracking the commodity’s U.S. spot price index.
Wholesale cannabis prices dropped 18.6 percent nationwide in the first half of 2017, with Colorado prices dropping by up to 40 percent compared to the first half of last year, according to Cannabis Benchmarks’ “2017 Mid-Year Wholesale Market Report.” Similar to commodities like gold and oil, the Denver-based independent price reporting agency tracks spot prices — the current value in the marketplace at which an asset can be bought or sold for immediate delivery.
Despite the overall decline, marijuana prices showed “remarkable” stability considering last year’s price volatility and recent political uncertainty, the analysts found. For the first six months of this year, there has only been a $150 difference between the low and high prices for legal cannabis nationally, compared to nearly $300 separating the lows and highs during the first half of 2016.
The U.S. Spot prices for wholesale cannabis opened the year at $1,532 a pound, up from the 2016 annual low of $1,386 per pound. However, based on 2015 and 2016 wholesale prices, the firm expects further price declines through November as seasonal fall harvest hits the market.
“We still do expect to see a seasonal price depression nationally that comes with the harvest,” report author Adam Koh told The Cannabist.
While drastic, the 40 percent decline in Colorado wholesale prices follows the national trend of lower prices in all five states with legal adult-use markets — despite the fact that demand remains strong in those states. Cannabis Benchmarks attributes the trend to a business boom that has increased competition for market share and customers, which in turn creates “more than adequate” production. Likewise, those businesses are, by necessity, becoming more efficient and cost-effective in their cultivation and manufacturing “in order to compete and stay afloat.”
The patchwork quilt of state-based marijuana regulations causes prices to vary wildly across borders. The highest average wholesale prices in the U.S. for legal cannabis during the first half of 2017 were in Alaska, at $4,190 per pound; the lowest were in Colorado at $1,280 per pound.
In Colorado, the country’s most mature market with three-plus years of adult-use sales, the price per pound of wholesale cannabis has dropped from a 2016 high of $1,994 to a 2017 six-month low of $1,181. Cannabis Benchmarks attributes declines in part to the state’s “liberal approach to licensing and production,” which has led to dramatic increases in the volume of marijuana grown and produced.
On the other hand, wholesale prices in Washington, another maturing market, have turned around from last year’s “figurative bargain basement,” according to the report. The state’s monthly spot index prices for the first half of this year averaged $1,387 per pound, a rise of about eight percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.
California’s fast-approaching legalization is causing significant uncertainty in pricing for the fourth quarter, Koh said.
“There appears to be a significant portion of the state’s cannabis commerce that won’t (be licensed), Koh said, “and there will be stiff competition for those operators working to comply with state laws.”
Nevada remains another conundrum for the firm’s spot-price indexing efforts. Adult-use sales kicked off on July 1, however the state’s “unique regulatory circumstances” created supply chain struggles that prevented any wholesale price increases during the first half of 2017, according to Cannabis Benchmarks.
• Documenting hip-hop’s influence on the cannabis scene: covering the counter-culture going mainstream over three decades.
• Getting embedded: Taking a First Amendment-protected ride to observe and document the illegal (and dangerous) sides of the American drug trade.
• Conservation, community and sustainability: The pillars of Oregon’s society are apparent in its cannabis cultivation.
• Pesticide issues and the need for growers to find common ground, together.
TOP MARIJUANA NEWS
Over 5% of all arrests in U.S. are for weed: In 2016 more people were arrested for marijuana possession than for all crimes the FBI classifies as violent, according to 2016 crime data released by the agency on Monday. Marijuana possession arrests edged up slightly in 2016, a year in which voters in four states approved recreational marijuana initiatives and voters in three others approved medical marijuana measures. These figures should be regarded as estimates, because not all law enforcement agencies provide detailed arrest information to the FBI. But they do show that the annual number of marijuana arrests is down from their peak in the mid-2000s and stands at levels last seen in the mid 1990s. Marijuana use, particularly among adults, rose during this time. –Report by The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham
Former NFL pros say CBD oil vital pain-management tool: After years of managing pain through the use of alcohol, nonprescription anti-inflammatory drugs and highly addictive opioids, some former football players are turning to cannabis — particularly hemp-derived CBD oil — for relief. Mostly through word-of-mouth exchanges, interest in marijuana and hemp products has increased as 29 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medicinal and, in some cases, recreational use. –Report by The Mercury News’ Elliot Almond
Only 15% of California’s cannabis growers can meet strict new standards, insider says: California consumers will soon have two choices in cannabis: clean, legal and pricey — or dirty, illicit and cheap. Think Whole Foods vs. El Chapo. The big difference will be the amount of pesticides in your weed. That’s because starting Jan. 2, when California’s vast legal marijuana market opens, all cannabis must be tested — and most chemicals will be banned. Much of California’s cannabis is tainted, including the “medicinal” stuff. But soon state-sanctioned weed may become the greenest in the nation. –Report by The Mercury News’ Lisa M. Krieger
Colorado cannabis safety regs limit edible shapes, enlarge potency labels: Out with the gummy bears, in with the squares … and circles, and triangles and diamonds. On Oct. 1, Colorado no longer will allow marijuana edibles shaped like humans, animals, fruits or cartoons — forms that could be confused with candy — and the state also will require more prominently displayed potency information on the labels of cannabis products. The new rules, which are more than a year in the making, are part of the ongoing evolution of Colorado’s pioneering foray into legalizing and regulating the sale of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. –Report by The Cannabist’s Alicia Wallace
Morgan Freeman’s honey-kissed baritone has sound-tracked dozens of documentaries and public announcements in the Oscar-winner’s long Hollywood career.
But the 80-year-old star’s tenure in the business probably failed to prep him for the Russian reaction that greeted a two-minute online video he recorded recently for a group hoping to keep alive concerns over Kremlin meddling in the 2016 Presidential election.
Freeman is being portrayed as a tool of the U.S. establishment trying to bring down Trump, and as a man suffering from a “Messianic complex” from movie roles playing God and the president of the United States.
A “#StopMorganLie” hashtag is circulating aimed at discrediting the actor.
In the controversial video’s opening, Freeman dramatically declares: “We have been attacked. We are at war.”
The Morgan Freeman video was put out this week by the Committee to Investigate Russia. Founded by Rob Reiner, the director of comedy classics such as “This is Spinal Tap” and “When Harry Met Sally,” the nonpartisan group is pushing for a more aggressive acknowledgment of the alleged Russian hack. Morgan’s video sets that tone, referring to President Vladimir Putin as an “a former KGB spy” who has “set his sights on his sworn enemy, the United States.”
Story continues below video
“We need our president to speak directly to us and to speak the truth,” Morgan urges. The clip currently has over 264,000 views.
But now the legendary American actor is a pariah in Russia, with Kremlin officials, Russian talking heads, and pro-Putin social media trolls ganging up to denounce Freeman. The all-hands-on-deck response suggests a concerted Russian effort to discredit the actor via social media.
Reiner’s group does boast significant names among its advisory board, including former National Intelligence director James Clapper and conservative never-Trump critic Charles Sykes. (But as ThinkProgress points out, the committee does not boast any actual Russian experts in its governing body).
The moviemaker told Variety this week the committee would be a “one-stop shop where people can come and be made aware” of “what the breaking news stories are today, the various investigations, what stages they are in, but also to the understand the history, and what the Soviet Union and now Russia has been trying to do for many, many years.”
Reiner added: “My concern is people don’t understand the gravity of what they were able to do.”
Russian government officials hit back immediately at the video this week, fixing their crosshairs specifically on Morgan.
Tass, the Russian news agency, published remarks from Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova arguing Freeman had been “roped in” to the Russia attack, and likening the video to when former Secretary of State Colin Powell unknowingly lied to the United Nations about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
“I believe this is another story about the end justifying the means. However, we will know who is behind this story sooner than we knew about the true contents of the infamous test tube,” Zakharova stated, an apparent reference to Powell’s 2003 United Nations presentation, in which he held up a vial of anthrax to support the claim that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled chemical weapons.
“Recently it became known that the Obama administration had been wiretapping Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort based on a secret court decision . . . The wiretapping activities continued after the election. Do you understand what Russia has to do with it? Right, the goal is to legitimize the post-election lawlessness.”
This week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also addressed the video, telling reporters Freeman’s comments “can hardly be taken seriously” and arguing the actor was “a victim of emotionally charged, self-exalted status,” according to Radio Free Europe. The official added that “many performing artists easily succumb to becoming victims of emotional strain with no real information about the real state of things.”
Russian media was more wild in its theorizing.
The BBC reported this week Freeman was a frequent topic on Russian television. One station – Rossiya 24 – quizzed a panel of psychiatrists about the actor’s motivations, and the medical professionals reportedly attributed “the performance to a Messianic complex resulting from playing God or the president in several films, not to mention ‘drug abuse.’”
Another TV personality said Freeman was sick from “overwork and marijuana use.” TV Centre claimed the clip was part of an “establishment campaign to oust Trump,” the BBC reported.
Pro-Russian Twitter trolls have also jumped in on the actor, wielding the somewhat awkward hashtag “#StopMorganLie.”
But as commentators have pointed out, the #StopMorganLie trolls seem to all be following the same script – trying to discredit the idea that the U.S. is a democratic nation.
“Freeman’s comments leveled at ‘Russia’s continuing attacks on our [US] democracy’ have created quite a stir on Twitter,” reported RT, the Russian funded news cable network. “People said that the ‘democracy’ statement is pure hypocrisy, as the US has been at war with and interfering in the affairs of many other states, such as Libya, Ukraine and Iraq.
It has left some experts like Rols Fredheim, an analyst at NATO’s Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga, wondering whether the anti-Freeman blowback was less of an organic reaction than a Kremlin scheme.
“It does look very highly coordinated, because you’re seeing something on multiple platforms at the same time communicating the same message,” Fredheim told Radio Free Europe this week.
“It’s more than just a teenager in the basement. It could be many teenagers in many basements. But it could also be something more sophisticated than that . . . the St. Petersburg troll factories, for instance. It could be an example of some kind of Russian troll-farm output.”
28 states in the United States, as well as many other countries around the world, have legalized medical marijuana – with some even legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Canada, under the Liberal Government, recently proposed a bill legalizing not only medical marijuana, but also recreational marijuana. There are many reasons why cannabis is a medicine worth legalizing.
The medical applications of cannabis are vast. Clinical studies have shown that the chemical compounds in cannabis – CBD and THC – effectively treat chronic pain and a significant number of other ailments. The largest-ever study on cannabis examined over 10,000 other studies and found cannabis to be an effective treatment for chronic pain suffers, and medication for many other health conditions. Cannabis can be an effective treatment option for those suffering from muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis, for nausea in those undergoing chemotherapy, for inflammation, arthritis, fibromyalgia, anxiety, stress, PTSD and more.
In addition to its ability to effectively treat pain and many other health conditions, medical marijuana has also been proven to lower incidents of opioid prescriptions and opioid-related deaths. Statistically, the states that have legalized medical marijuana, suffer from fewer incidents of opioid-related deaths. Another anticipated benefit of legalizing cannabis is that the profits to organized crime from the marijuana drug trade will be cut off and replaced with legitimate business and government profits.
However, while the above noted benefits of cannabis legalization are real, the present lack of regulation needs to be addressed. With marijuana anticipated to be legalized as of July 2018, current suppliers exist in a legal grey area and don’t necessarily feel pressure to meet Health Canada standards. This is evident in that ⅓ of Toronto dispensaries do not currently comply. Non-regulated cannabis could potentially contain everything from yeast and mold to bacteria typically found in sewage and the intestinal tracts of humans. In fact, a study of a popular dispensary in Toronto found that its marijuana contained 9 times the acceptable amount of yeasts and molds, as well as a large traces of the bacteria often found in sewage. Many our hopeful that legalization will address issues of regulation and quality control.
While cannabis has had a long, complicated history the benefits of its legalization cannot be denied. Once the Liberal government’s recently proposed bill passes, anticipated to legalize recreational marijuana use as of June 2018, it will be determined whether we will appropriately perceive cannabis in it’s full-potential, as a medicinal treatment option for a wide number of health issues and a much needed defence against the opioid epidemic.
Toronto Defence Lawyers practice in the area of drug offences, successfully defending countless drug offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, including cannabis related criminal offences. This infographic demonstrates the medicinal applications of cannabis and why it is, in fact, a medication worth legalizing.
More summer events and dispensary stops in Week 16 with RedHat Ralph….
This week includes serving Root Beer at the Oregon Brewers Festival, the Canna Closet Oregon launch, and The Summer Fair 2. Here is how I walked 22.6 miles from Sunday July 23 through Saturday, July 29.
Sunday, 7/23/17, 0.2 miles. Today it will get warm, so I will stay home, stay buzzed, watch pre-season football, and clean part of the house.
Monday, 7/24/17, 0.9 miles. It is expected to reach 90 or so today, so again I am staying home. Perhaps I will clean more of the house.
Tuesday, 7/25/17, 3.3 miles. Third day with expected warm temperatures, so I shall stay home again, right after I walk to my dentist’s office, visit the dental hygienist to receive my quarterly teeth cleaning, and wander back home. I also finish cleaning the house once Flo is up and out of bed.
Wednesday, 7/26/17, 2.8miles. Today I take the MAX Blue line train to Tom McCall Waterfront Park to volunteer at the Oregon Brewers Festival. I have done this every year since we moved to Portland and love serving Root Beer from Crater Lake Soda to folks at the Festival. The children and designated drivers appreciate that we have this available for them in a shaded tent with tables and (youth) chairs so that the children can color and draw. All of the proceeds from the sale of the carbonated beverages ($1 or a token per glass for those not a child and not a designated driver) goes to the Community Transitional School, which provides “at-risk children with a stable educational environment that promotes their academic and personal growth.”
Thursday, 7/27/17, 3.4 miles. Another wonderful day at Tom McCall Park, handing out Root Beer and Apple Ginger Soda to folks at the Oregon Brewers Festival.
Friday, 7/28/17, 7.9 miles. Today I am heading to the east side of town. I was too lazy to leave home in time to attend the Canna Closet OR Launch at the Jupiter Hotel on East Burnside. However, since it is Friday I take the MAX to the Rosa Parks stop and visit Satchel for another episode of 5-gram-Fridays. Today my nose tells me to pick up 5 grams of Cosmic Treehouse’s Purple Hindu Kush. From here I slowly wander south down Interstate Ave and visit Jeffery’s, a yet-to-be-opened new dispensary in the old Greensky Collective dispensary building. Nusheen Ava Bakhtiar is gracious and takes the time to show me around their new space while Sam continues to get the place ready. A short wander south brings me to The North Warehouse where I try to help folks get ready for tomorrow’s party. I spend a little time helping Katherine Self assemble a display rack for her farm’s merchandise. I discover that I am much older and out of shape than I thought when I attempt to help two gentlemen lay some sod in the outdoor consumption area; after laying a dozen or so pieces of sod I must take my leave. I wander the Eastbank Esplanade, cross the Steel Bridge, and wander south along the Willamette River before heading home.
Having fun at the Summer Fair!
Saturday 7/29/17, 4.1 miles. Today is The Summer Fair 2! I leave home in Beaverton at 7 and finally arrive at the North Warehouse at 9:30, but at least I had the good sense to stop at Coco Doughnuts downtown and arrive with a dozen assorted doughnuts for the crew. Stephanie Barnhart has graciously included my name in the list of Staff at the event, and has assigned me to perform “General Help” during the event. Most of my day has me checking names from “The List”. In other words, if you arrive and tell the ticket taker “my name is on ‘the list’”, the ticket taker sends you to me and I check “The List”. It is so good to be King (or at least to feel that you could wield King-like power). Of course, all of us volunteers also take time away from our assigned duties to experience the Fair itself. During different times of the day I visited with many of the vendors at their booths inside the warehouse before making my way to the outside area and visiting with each and every one of the vendors. You see, the outside area is the consumption area, and there is a lot of social consumption being achieved here today! I took the opportunity to try some dabbles, some THC-a isolate, and the REL Goliath vape pen. The dabbles are wonderful; I want to try them again. The THC-a isolate vaporized in my mouth tasting like a diet marshmallow puff; I will need to try it a few (hundred) more times before I can properly review it. The Goliath absolutely wowed me; finally I have found a vape pen that gives me a proper volume of vapor! Finally!
Man, I hate the Tear-Down time because it indicates that I must wait another year to participate in this; on the other hand I really enjoy it because you would be surprised at all the goodies we find discarded hither thither and yon. I found a few joints and a few containers of shatter in just one round. By the time I walked to the MAX station I had collected at least a week’s worth of odds and ends. This is so the life of a retired pot-head. I LOVE MY LIFE!