Steve Hawkins, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), discusses his hopes and predictions for upcoming cannabis policy in the United States. In particular, Hawkins believes that states should have the right to legalize cannabis in their own way without federal intrusion, as much more is possible at the state level. As well, Hawkins sees the legal cannabis industry as a fantastic way to create a large number of middle-class jobs - it's already on its way toward generating a million jobs for the economy. Because the war on drugs resulted in millions of cannabis convictions, expungements need to occur in similarly large numbers: "You don't make a dent with 25 thousand expungements. You make a dent with 750 thousand expungements."
Grover Norquist, Founder and President of Americans for Tax Reform, describes the inconsistencies of taxes imposed by the federal government. For Norquist, this is more than just a cannabis issue; this is an issue of federalism and states' rights: "You wouldn't want the federal government to go in and use federal tax policy to interfere with federalism on education policy." Norquist believes that when the STATES Act passes, it will help to solve the federalism question for tax policy and banking policy.
Dr. Ryan Vandrey, of Johns Hopkins University, joins us to discuss the best routes of administration for different conditions. For example, when treating chronic pain, oral administration is preferable, as it yields a more sustained drug effect. However, with a symptom like nausea, inhalation would likely be the preferred route of administration, as eating or drinking may aggravate the nausea. As well, Vandrey talks about the flawed methods of testing THC levels in blood: "If we take somebody who uses cannabis frequently and they don't use for 24 hours, they have as much THC in their blood as the person who's eating a 50-milligram edible and is highly impaired. So, blood THC levels are incredibly complicated. What you have is a high likelihood of erroneous assumptions based on blood THC levels."
For U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans, cannabis reform is a matter of both medical justice and criminal justice. Evans realized not only that cannabis can save patients' lives, but also that the war on drugs was undeniably a major reason for the massive prison population in Pennsylvania. Since then, Evans has developed a firm belief that we must seriously reevaluate the plant. He has learned that having meaningful conversations about reform and justice with people who come from diverse backgrounds is the first step in "ensuring that the communities that have been left out under our watch" will not get left out ever again.
Josh Hendrix, President of U.S. Hemp Roundtable, predicts that, in the next two to three years, hemp will finally begin to infiltrate the market. When that happens, there will be a race to efficiency on the agricultural side, which should lead to both consistent types of hemp as well as varieties of hemp - ultimately, this will create a commodity market. Because the rules of the 2018 Farm Bill have been unclear for farmers and manufacturers, Hendrix carefully explains the process: "You can't just go out and plant hemp. You can't find some seed in your barn that somebody left years ago and go out and plant it. Can't grow it in your backyard. If your state is participating in the Hemp Program, the USDA Hemp Program, they have to go get approved. Once they're approved, you will have to fill out a form, go through their licensing process, make sure that you actually have a farm – that you have a plan."
For U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist, medical cannabis is personal: years ago, his older sister died of brain cancer, and unfortunately, medical cannabis was not available in Florida that time. That experience has informed Crist's belief that everyone should have the right to use cannabis as a healer. Crist also notes that people throughout the U.S. are already on board regarding cannabis, and that his biggest priority is getting federal legislation up to speed with that same accepting attitude. Luckily, Crist is optimistic, as he has found cannabis reform to be a very bipartisan issue in Congress.
Dr. Ethan Russo, Research Director of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI), discusses ways to create a better, safer cannabis. Russo points out the dissonance that exists between public opinion and regulators - while 80-90% of the public already believes that cannabis is a medicine, the medical community must conduct clinical trials in order to prove that cannabis is a medicine. Russo also dismisses the idea that cannabis is an understudied substance: "Cannabis is actually very likely the most studied drug in the history of mankind, because there have been decades of research on it, mainly focused on its harms." Now, he says, we must collect the same amount of research on cannabis's therapeutic uses.
U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei joins us to discuss cannabis legislation and policy in Nevada, including banking. Amodei fervently believes that legal cannabis businesses should be able to deposit their earnings and use all of the financial tools that are available to other types of businesses - this is an issue of public safety as well as reducing the illicit market. The Safe Banking Act will most likely pass the House, according to Amodei, and, although the bill is not perfect, he thinks that it is worth fighting for. Amodei also supports the STATES Act, but is prioritizing banking for the time being.
Bruce Linton, former CEO of Canopy Growth, joins us on stage at the Cannabis Business Summit to discuss life after Canopy and what his goals are for the future. Linton also explains his decision to take Canopy public - ultimately, going public gave the corporation much more credibility. Besides Canopy Growth, Linton discusses the benefits of hemp production, the challenges faced by bankers, and the government's ideal role with regulated cannabis.
Lori Ajax, Chief of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, joins us to give a big picture update of what has been happening in California over the past 6 months. For example, as of late, it has been a priority to transfer those in the elicit market over to the legal market. Besides these recent developments, Ajax discusses the importance of engaging stakeholders and the community in terms of law-making and creating regulations - this is one of the most important lessons she has learned.
Kevin Murphy, CEO of Acreage Holdings, discusses with us his beginnings in the cannabis industry as well as the importance of medical cannabis, especially for children and veterans. Murphy notes that every successful business has had to ask for help along the way - after all, good partnerships lead to good economics. He also believes that the speed of the industry's growth and job creation will directly depend on when the STATES Act gets passed.
Catherine Sandvos, of the Office of Medicinal Cannabis in the Netherlands, joins us to discuss the history and current state of Dutch cannabis regulations. Sandvos is pleased that other countries seem to be setting up their own regulations and production processes, as it relieves the Netherlands of the responsibility to provide for all of Europe. As well, Sandvos notes that the international cannabis landscape used to be very separated by country, but that, now, countries are coming together to help one another and exchange information. With more and more countries contributing and taking the lead, the European regulatory landscape will only continue to exponentially mature and improve.