Hi , welcome to this packed cannabis brief!
We discuss the global reckoning with the failures of prohibition, including cannabis rescheduling in the US, decriminalisation in the Czech Republic, and industry petitions to tweak regulations in Israel, Germany, Canada, the UK and Uruguay.
Australia has been the focus of new international trade agreements in the first month of 2024, as sector grows 60% year-on-year and domestic producers increase capacity.
The relationship of cannabis use with psychosis is being discredited by twin studies, systematic reviews and real-world data: correlation does not equate causation.
We hope you get many insights from this month’s cannabis brief!
1. Regulatory updates:
🇺🇸 In the United States, the HSS officially recommended making cannabis a Schedule III drug and removing it from most-restrictive Schedule I. The reclassification is being considered by the DEA and will be subject to public comment before approval that can take months.
- While no immediate effects on the States cannabis programs would ensue, the measure would likely allow businesses to deduct ordinary expenses from their federal taxes, open the door for further research, and ease access to financial markets.
- High-ranking Democrats in the Senate are asking Biden to go further and deschedule cannabis entirely, in a move that can boost support for them ahead of crucial election in November.
- A Majority of Americans support loosening federal restrictions, especially young voters. 58% of likely voters expressed support, while only 19% indicated opposition.
- Florida might vote on recreational legalisation on the November ballot, republican governor of Florida Ron DeSantis said, while Florida attorney-general opposes the vote.
- California dispensary chain sues state over draconian excise tax imposed not only on cannabis products but also on accessories and packaging sold together.
- FDA veterinary arm recommends hemp seed meal for hens at egg farms.
🇮🇱 In Israel, the Ministry of Economy has opened an investigation on price dumping by Canadian producers, selling in Israel at a cheaper price than they do in Canada, and might impose a tariff.
- Distressed Israeli companies claim that consignment sales, with payment rendered only for goods sold to patients, introduces unfair competition in the market as prices and domestic-grown sales took a hit. Canada does not allow any commercial imports to its territory.
- The conditions to access medical cannabis treatment have been eased: cannabis is no longer a last-resort drug, there is no need to first try out other treatments. However, doctors prescribing cannabis are furious as legal changes would only facilitate access for about 15% of patients.
🇩🇪 In Germany, opposition within the socialist party remains, but Health Minister is confident that cannabis law will be passed in February and implemented from April 1st.
- The Federal Joint Comittee has been tasked with reviewing medical cannabis access regulations which currently mandate case-by-case reimbursement approval.
- Future of hemp-derived cannabinoids is uncertain following committee recommendation to deal with HHC with a blanket ban, instead of individually banning substances.
🇨🇿 In the Czech Republic, self-cultivation and cannabis social clubs will be allowed according to a government document, but regulated sales have been dropped from the plans of regulation.
- The commercial model did not have the support of christian-democrat members of the government, pro-legalisation national drug coordinator claims.
- Industry stakeholders are still hopeful that overwhelming support for legalisation could force a fully legalised commercial model to be instated in the country.
🇳🇱 In the Netherlands, the Hague municipal council has passed a motion to participate in the legal supply chain cannabis trial.
- The national government allows districts from large cities to participate in the experiment, as is the case already with East Amsterdam, which will soon be amended into the legislation.
- Bulldog Coffeeshop, pioneer of the sector, wins intellectual property lawsuit against Redbull.
- Dutch ports becoming a global drug traffic hub, country risks becoming a narco-state, Amsterdam mayor says, as she signs a manifesto to seek alternatives to prohibition.
🇨🇦 In Canada, annual cannabis survey shows 73% of users claiming to get supplies from a licensed vendor, up from 37% in 2019.
- Inter-provincial recreational cannabis sales could be allowed, thanks to its inclusion in a Free Trade Agreement. Currently, provinces restrict shipping of products between them, and province-specific federal excise tax stamps pose a challenge to implement free trade.
- In Ontario, ownership cap will be increased from 75 up to 150 cannabis stores that can be operated by one company.
- Grocery giant Loblaws is lobbying Ontario government to allow sales in other types of stores.
🇬🇧 In the UK, CBD industry associations ask FSA to revise strict 10mg daily CBD intake limit which could deal a blow to the industry and expedite Novel Food Applications.
- A Peterborough family is campaigning for a change in NHS policy, after their request of medical cannabis for their epileptic son was met with the NHS offering brain surgery instead.
🇪🇸 In Spain, Health minister claims medical cannabis regulations will be submitted in ‘the next months’ following the restrictive recommendations of last term’s parliamentary commission.
- Barcelona city government plans to close hundreds of cannabis social clubs operating in the city for over a decade.
🇮🇹 In Italy, the decision on the suspended decree that prohibited sales of CBD oils has been postponed again, now to September 2024.
- 🇸🇲 The sovereign enclave of San Marino is looking to develop its cannabis cultivation seeking to supply the Italian market.
🇺🇾 In Uruguay, 42 companies are asking regulatory changes to fight export-led industry downturn by developing the domestic CBD and medical markets.
- A survey found that two-thirds of parliamentarians agree to regulate the market for all drugs. The majority of the Frente Amplio party supports the regulation, while other parties are divided.
🇹🇭 Government in Thailand is finally back tracking its adult-use legalisation, with Health Minister unveiling new law prohibiting sale of >0.2% cannabis apart from medical purposes. It remains uncertain to what degree this measure will become effective.
🇪🇺 European health quality authority EDQM published the new cannabis flower monograph including reference standards for flower and CBD, which will substitute national standards in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark from July 1st 2024.
🇦🇺 In Australia, 50% support a bill to legalise growing cannabis for personal use, particularly among younger Australians and Labor and Greens voters.
🇨🇭 In Switzerland, a recent survey in the Valais canton shows that 64% of residents support a pilot project for legal distribution of cannabis, while 50% support full legalisation.
🇩🇰 Danish authorities intend to shut drug market in Christiania, Copenhaguen in the next 6 months following concerns due to deadly shootings last year.
🇿🇦 South African health ministry proposes to amend the Medicines Act to exclude cannabis cultivated for private purposes from Schedule VI, effectively decriminalising.
🇮🇪 Irish government delays for 9 months the vote on a decriminalisation bill.
🇵🇦 Panama awards medicinal cultivation licenses to 7 companies, including Tilray.
🇲🇦 The Moroccan government spends $200,000 acquiring drones to control legal cultivation.
🇪🇨 Chaos in Ecuador shows drug-policy failure of leaving drugs to criminals.
Infographic of the month: CSC in Barcelona
2. Market and Company Updates:
🇦🇺 Pharmacy panel in Australia claims 60% increase in medical cannabis sales year-on-year in Australian community pharmacies, amounting to U$108M. Specialist dispensary pharmacies do not seem to be considered in the data, which sees Cannatrek as a market leader with 32% share, as the company signed a research MoU with a Japanese university.
- ECS Botanics revenues jumped 58% to U$4.8M in Q4 2023, as it expanded outdoor cultivation capacity and inked a 600kg yearly contract in the UK with Rokshaw (Curaleaf).
- ANTG completes expansion of its Brisbane facility with 1.5 extra tonnes of capacity and added capabilities for ethanol extraction and manufacturing of oils, vapes and pastilles.+
- Tasmanian Botanics begins cultivating in 4 out of 10 chambers of its expanded 1.1 hectare greenhouse.
- Althea expands range of softgels, produced by Colombian FoliuMed in Germany, to include balanced and high-THC ratios.
- Vitura Health includes nicotine vapes in its platform, as they are now a prescription product in Australia.
- Canadian LP Cronos ships first delivery to former subsidiary Vitura Health.
- Canadian CannMart signs agreement with Aura Therapeutics for multiple formats including concentrates.
- Breath Life Sciences launches B2B trading platform CanXChange, based on UK site.
🇵🇹 In Portugal, the army will manipulate cannabis compounds at the National Medicines Laboratory, after signing a contract to build clean rooms in its facilities.
- Avextra will invest $16M in the next 5 years in the development of cannabis medicines, ranging from clinical trials to medical devices and extraction methods.
- Canadian genetics supplier Klonetics partners with Curaleaf in the European market.
- SMC, an indoor LP from the northern Portuguese district of Braga, has obtained EU-GMP.
🇨🇦 In Canada, according to data from cannabis retail platform Hifyre, Decibel would be the leading Canadian producer with a 7% share, followed by Cronos with 5.6% and Motif Labs with 4.2%.
- Price compression makes value of sales falter in British Columbia, while volumes increase.
- Cronos claims its flower brand Spinach to have ranked first in Canada in 2023.
🇮🇱 New rules in Israel could make current patient population of 132,000 jump to 366,000 and sales double from $300M to $550M in 5 years, a new Euromonitor forecast claims.
- Syqe, a med-tech manufacturer of inhalers, has achieved EU-GMP of its facility in Israel.
- Intercure acquires Leon Pharm pharmacy chains for $2.2M.
🇨🇭 In Switzerland, the legal cannabis store in Lausanne sold 4.5 kg of cannabis in its first month. Buyers are typically between 35 and 40 years old and not involved in drug addiction programs. The project aims to monitor the black market and evaluate the impact on consumer behaviour.
- Another pilot project in Bern, Biel and Lucerne seeks to study whether regulated sales can curb tobacco consumption, which is very prevalent among Swiss cannabis users.
- Medicrops has acquired Toppharm pharmacy in Basel.
🇬🇧 In the UK, a survey published by Grow Pharma shows 73% of healthcare professionals in favour of prescribing cannabis on the NHS, but only 24% have previously treated cannabis patients.
- 4C Labs has launched BC brands Pure Sunfarms and Fraser Valley Weed Co.
- Kanabo opens walk-in pain clinic in London in collaboration with City Dock Pharmacy.
🇧🇷 In Brazil, ANVISA has granted Ease Labs a product authorisation for a product with a small quantity of THC, manufactured in Brazil from Avicanna’s full-spectrum API, a first one as the market has been dominated by isolated CBD.
- Pratti-Donaduzzi has been awarded a U$296,000 contract by the municipality of Limeira to supply CBD medicinal products.
🇵🇱 In Poland, indoor CBD producer Cannabisland has been awarded the first THC production license in the country for its facility in Lublin.
- Canopy’s Spectrum Therapeutics launches new 25% THC ‘krypton’ variety.
🇪🇸 In Spain, Ondara Directorship has renewed its GACP certification as it seeks to kickstart production thanks to a partnership with a Canadian company.
- CBD supplier The Beemine Lab announces 35% growth in 2023 with over €2M in sales.
🇺🇸 In the US, stocks of first mover dispensary chain ‘MedMen’ plummet to zero, after it reached a valuation of $3B in 2018, a move that has brought executives to resign and sell of Arizona and Nevada operations.
🇳🇱 Canadian LP Village Farms commences build-out of Dutch facility to supply the supply chain experiment, with production expected to commence Q4 2024.
🇦🇹 In Austria, German publicly traded company SynBiotic has acquired Bushdoctor, a hemp shop with 6 branches and 25 years of experience in the sector.
🇨🇴 In Colombia, Clever Leaves has obtained Australian GMP certification.
🇮🇹 In Italy, $865,000 of European funds were awarded to Udine hemp grower.
🇲🇽 In Mexico, indigenous Oaxaca farmers produce hemp for industrial use
3. Science updates
🌐 A 30-year study with over 4,000 twins founds lifetime cannabis use has limited effects on mental health, except for a small increase in drug use disorders (cannabis, tobacco, other drugs).
- A recent systematic review of cannabis use and psychosis found an association with subclinical psychotic states and earlier onset, but causal effects have not been addressed.
- Association between cannabis use and psychiatric conditions such as psychosis might not be a causal relationship: people prone to those conditions might be more likely to use cannabis.
- A review of CBD to treat psychiatric conditions found potential for certain conditions such as schizophrenia, substance use disorder and PTSD, thanks to the endocannabinoid system impacting neural activity patterns.
- A time-series analysis with healthcare data from Ontario found that non-medical cannabis legalisation was not associated with an increase in health service use for psychotic disorders.
🇺🇸 A New Jersey court has resolved dispute between Jazz Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals in favour of the former over patent infringement to produce a generic version of Epidiolex.
🇩🇪 A phase IIIb placebo-controlled clinical trial showed improvement on Tourette syndrome and other tic disorder after using a balanced THC:CBD Nabiximol, with more patients being fit to drive.
🇮🇪 Ireland’s Health Research Board finds evidence to support the use of cannabis for CINV and spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and promising evidence in other neurological conditions, but claims ‘no conclusive evidence’ exists for anxiety and pain.
🇩🇪 Real-world evidence on chronic depression has been published by Algea Care, suggesting a halving of symptoms following 6 weeks of treatment.
🇳🇱 In Arnherm, a placebo-controlled study has been launched on the effect of cannabis on sleep quality in Multiple Sclerosis patients.
🇦🇺 A clinical trial of a proprietary formulation of Neurotech International has been approved for paediatric patients with cerebral palsy.
🇹🇭 Thai hospital research found that 15% of chronic cancer pain patients were active cannabis users as well as 3.1% of noncancer pain patients.
🇨🇦 Real-world evidence from a patient registry in Quebec shows a statistically significant improvement in pain and other symptoms.
🇺🇸 A multiphase research project has been launched on cannabis smokability looking at cannabis flower’s moisture content, lightability, ash colour, smoothness and other qualities.
🇪🇺 European school survey data shows lowering use of tobacco among adolescents was linked to a decrease half as large on cannabis use.
🇺🇸 A study funded by Mars Petcare shows daily CBD dosing reducing stress in dogs during travel.