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Cannabis Last Week

Episode 12: Caution — Criminal Cartels Cultivating Cannabis in California

Things are getting wild in the Emerald Triangle.




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HIGHLIGHTS: Pfizer Acquires Drug Co with Cannabis Focus + NJ Accepting Some License Applications

GOLDEN NUG: Mexican Cartels Growing Cannabis in California + MORE!

+ More?!? Ohio Senate Votes to Expand Medical Marijuana Program + Curaleaf Raises More Funds + MORE?!?

Hybrid News/Analysis Extract from 420+ Sources: Featuring all the developments this past week in the cannabis world on the federal level, state legalization/implementation, science/technology, business deals, international scene, social equity, celebrity cameos, and miscellaneous ridiculousness.

DISCLAIMER: All opinions are my own, and not those of my law firm Zuber Lawler. Even though I drop knowledge bombs, the show is NOT legal advice.


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Hello, my buds and welcomed the December 20th, 2021 episode of cannabis last week from global cannabis times hybrid news analysis extract from 420 sources each week. I’m your host Mera, John. Puru yup. Puns and our highlight stories this week, New Jersey starts accepting certain license applications and the drug giant Pfizer requires a company with some cannabinoid drugs and our golden nug story of the week.
Mexican cartels are growing marijuana in California. Not Mexico and wreaking havoc in a number of ways. Now, before I get down to business, I need to make my standard disclaimer, when I’m not fighting crime by night as a mass vigilante, I practice cannabis and or IP law at the law firms, Zuber Lawler. So any views that I express during this podcast are my own views and not those of my law firm.
For example, if I was to say that not reading spoilers for Spider-Man no way home while they wait to see what my sister might be, the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, that would be my own view. And not that it was Uber Lawler, which loves to spoil movies for its. All right. And also I got to say that this podcast is not legal advice, so don’t be a dumb ass and pretend that it is.
And there’s always, if you have any feedback, shoot me an email to and feel free to subscribe, to inflate my always delicate ego. All right.


Onto the news in our highlight stories. And I guess I could say that this perhaps is a little bit of home bias since I’m a resident of New Jersey.

On December 15th, it started accepting applications for certain types of licenses, specifically cultivation, processing, and laps. So they announced the cannabis regulatory commission that they’re over 500 accounts opened within hours of when they started. But I have to note that they were dropping substantive changes to the application.

Days before opening the application process up. So that is holding things up for certain applicants. And just a reminder that they’re going to start accepting applications for retail dispensary’s in March on March 15th, 2022, moving over to our other headline story Pfizer, the pharmaceutical drugs. Is announced plans to purchase arena pharmaceuticals for $6.7 billion.


So the interesting about arena is that as an investigational drug Alora NAB, which is an oral full agonist of the CB two receptor that they’re trying to treat symptoms such as for GI disorders and other drugs that they’re targeting to develop. That would treat immune inflammatory diseases using the CB receptors.

This is actually, you know, we should note not the first major move by a drug company and to the cannabis. We should mention the fact that jazz pharmaceuticals acquired GW pharmaceuticals in 2021. Uh, GW in case you don’t know, they make the FDA approved cannabinoid therapy, Epidiolex, Epidiolex Epidiolex.

One day I’ll actually find out how it’s supposed to be pronounced. And that’s a treatment for kids with seizures. And also Tilray in 2018, made a medical cannabis distribution arrangement with Navarro. So, um, this major drug companies starting to make their moves. Everyone’s curious to see where it goes.


In our golden nug story of the week, which is a fascinating, crazy, insane story.

Uh, Mexican cartels are growing weed in California. And they’re fighting there is violence. So let’s talk about why I think this is a very important story, right? So recently, you know, the safe banking act language was in the, you know, the national defense authorization act, the annual defense bill and people were saying, well, why does it belong in there?

Is it’s just some, you know, clever way throwing it in. Well, the fact of the matter is I think it actually, theoretically is a matter of national security. When you have gangs cartels from a, another country operating in California and remote regions where their forest, where it takes cops an hour to get to them.


And they are apparently using all sorts of nasty chemicals that are having awful environmental effects, killing, you know, rare animals there. And they’re also hyper violent. Apparently people go hiking in these areas to find work in the Emerald triangle, the super famous California section of forest, where, you know, weed’s been grown for years and years and then sold across the country.

And so the Mexican cartels people are, you know, disappearing and they’re starting to have headless bodies pop up. Right. We’re not talking about nearly headless. From Harry Potter here, we are talking about full headless bodies, like their drug cartel war south of the border. But apparently these cartels are like, why should we go to the trouble of having across the border with everything and getting all creative with our tunnels and our catapults.

Let’s just grow it right in California, because there’s no way to enforce there. They’re apparently understaffed. There are way too many grows as a law enforcement in the area. Can’t do anything so crazy story. And I just need to say. We need to realize, and I’ve done this now covering the news that California is battles, right?

It’s attempts to rein in the illicit market, which has been crazy on successful at this point is a national news story for the industry. It is one of the biggest stories in the industry because California is illegal market, which I think was, you know, billions and billions of dollars, $5 billion estimated in 2019, that’s grown and then that’s sold and it’s across the country.

Across the country. And so even into states that have legal markets. And so all of that elicit weed is undermining markets across the country. And that is why it is a major story. Moving on to federal news. We have reached the point. I mean, dare I say that cannabis in the country has jumped the shark where we have Republican law.

Like chewing out a democratic president in the letter because you know how much I love my letters. Everything’s accomplished by letters, chewing out president Biden for not moving on legalization. Quick enough, you have rep Joyce and rep young, the two chairs of the Republican congressional cannabis caucus, and they sent a letter to president Biden, vice president Harris criticizing their lack of action and continued silence on marijuana or.


And ask him to reschedule. And the interesting thing is, you know, since the president who was the most conservative of any of the candidates on the democratic side, you know, he didn’t make promises during the campaign in terms of decriminalization. And yet since they took office, neither he nor the vice president have spoken about their cannabis campaign pledges.

And in my favorite fact, I gave last year, The precedent has pardoned more turkeys, literally turkeys on Thanksgiving day festivities. Then he has pardoned prisoners and federal prisons with marijuana related convictions. That is not a joke. All right. Moving over to our weekly Chucky showrooms, watch Chuck Schumer, the most important man in the federal government about legalizing marijuana with that build that he proposed as Senate, majority leader, what’s he doing to advance his bill and legalization?

All right. He’s tweeting. He sent his weekly tweet calling for legalization, so I’m pretty sure that. Five more tweets and boom, federal legalization done. Sorry. Can’t contain my sarcasm with respect to that. And anymore got righteous fury. All right.


Moving over to state news. Uh, I mean, this was just a wonderful news week.

There’s so much stuff going on. When I see all this news, I just like lick my chops and say, oh, so much to share in this episode. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do. So in Ohio. Right. I’m going to do the Neil young song, right. More pot in Ohio. It’s like a protest song. You know, it was about Ken state. Now it’s protesting the fact that, you know, old structure is doing is tweeting.

Yeah. So a couple of lawmakers in Ohio, actually in the Senate, the state Senate passed by 26 to five. Uh, bill that would result in like the huge expansion of the Ohio medical marijuana program. Basically letting any doctor prescribe for any condition where they think medical marijuana could be a benefit prescribed that for patients.

And so it passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote clearly with, you know, Republican support. And now the question is, you know, what’s going to happen over in the house, you know, where certain state representatives have proposed their own full legalization bill, some Republicans and the head of the state house essentially laughed when he heard about the bill and talked about his chances of passing.
So obviously we’re always keeping an eye on Ohio and I still think, you know, playing Toker Domus that legalization in Ohio will happen in 2022. But by ballot. All right, moving over to New York or CERN to make some more progress. So this top cannabis regulator, there has been a flip-flopping if we’re going to borrow a term from, uh, I guess president Bush and Kerry’s campaign, right.

I don’t know why I came up with that, but anyways, the top regulator in New York predicted about a month ago that sales in the legal market would happen in 2023. Whichever one was not so happy about that. It takes so long to do though. Might end up being accurate. And one thing that’s keep in mind, and this is what’s going on politically with the governor’s race and the governor, the interim governor Hokule’a need to show some progress.

Well, not as much pressure on her anymore because their main competitor Latisha James dropped out, but still, uh, we want to make some progress on it. And so the top cannabis regulator released a kind of contradictory quote from her last one a month ago. And now it’s saying that. They think that sales could store it by late 20, 22, which would push the timeline up a bit.

So that would be good by comparison to what you previously said. And the other thing to keep in mind in New York news is that we want to track the municipality opt-outs. So the way that they’ll bill is structured is that municipalities have to opt out of having dispensary’s or onsite consumption by December 31st of this year, when they will not have regulations.

And so, you know, it’s like signing up to host these things. When you don’t know what’s in the regulations is like, you know, having someone hand you a joint, you don’t know what’s in it. Don’t know what it’s laced with and say, oh, sure. Yeah. I’ll take a hit. And you don’t know them very well either people handing that to you.

So. It’s going to be interesting to see more and more municipalities are opting out, depending on who you ask is, you know, multiple hundreds and at least say like 20 something percent of the municipalities in New York. So we shall see, I would expect that to increase because if they are remain, opted in that is permanent.

And so you can’t blame these places where if they opt out with the ability to opt back in, when the regulations are in. All right, moving over to Virginia. It’s just an interesting state here in terms of how they did it. Right? So they legalized when it was full control by Dems, in terms of the governor and the two state houses that is now flipped to the Republicans, the legalization structure was done such that decriminalization kicked in.

Now they accelerated that, but the adult use market isn’t supposed to launch sales until 2024. And so what happened now is the members of the Virginia is like joint commission on cannabis oversight. Decided to push up the sales when they would open legally, they weren’t able to push it up to 20, 22, but they push it up to 2023.

Because if you think about it, the fact of the matter is if everything’s decriminalized, but there are no adult use sales during this interim period, all for the illicit. Just racking it up. Scarface, Tony Montana is killing it in Virginia. If he’s not killing it in Northern California, like we discussed earlier.

So anyways, it remains to be seen how the new Republicans are going to approach like this recommendation from this Virginia commission, because the house speaker designate. As already, you know, criticized the state’s adult, use law and promise to quote unquote, fix it. All right. So I’ll look at least lawmakers they’re made like spike Lee and they did the right thing by pushing up the implementation of some decriminalization measures.

Like I discussed, you know, we’ll take what we could get moving over to Arizona. Arizona is going to be awarding 26, social equity, dispensary licenses. And so they open up applications. Yeah. Please take a guess as to how many people applied for those 26 social equity licenses. Remember we always go by prices, right rules.
So go under, don’t go over. Or you’re out. If you guessed 1,499, you would win by prices, right? Rules. Cause apparently around 1500 applications were filed for these 26 licenses. And you ask why, and here’s where it gets interesting. These licenses are valued at over $10 million because as soon as someone wins that.

They can sell them. There are no restrictions on how they’re sold. And so they are hyper, hyper valuable cause they could just be sold as soon as they are. Moving over to Montana and right before the launch of the adult use market, supposedly on January 1st, lawmakers approved rework cannabis rules. And so that at least is a large step in progress.


Moving over to business or green new deals. As I like to say it a super busy week in terms of the major MSOE multi-state operators and other large players like Pfizer Cura leaf, one of the largest companies in the U S cannabis world. As close as previously announced private placement of 8% senior secured notes that are due 2026 for aggregate gross proceeds of $425 million.

And the other news related to cure leaf. They also apparently signed an agreement with Southern Glazer’s wine and spirits, the largest distributor in the world of beverage outlet. So looking to make some moves in the beverage sector would appear moving over to acreage. So real estate lenders, AFC gamma, and Varitas and Realty trust teamed up and they’re lending a hundred million dollars to acreage with an option to lend a further $50 million moving over to waiter.

W a I T R, which is a example of a non-cannabis business, moving into the cannabis sector via M and a. So waiter is an online food ordering and delivery. And they signaled that they want to purchase cannabis point of sale provider Cova for a $90 million in cash and stock in cannabis, REIT news, moving over to innovative industrial properties.

This REIT said it acquired a portfolio of 27. Cannabis related real estate properties in Colorado and North Dakota and Pennsylvania by drop in 72 big ones, a lotta matter Moolah. As I like to say, though, I probably should have said that for purely because I was more Merimbula but Hey, you know, when it pops up.

So when I say it, sour works, moving over to canopy, talking about another of the largest cannabis companies in the world. It’s actually a little bit of pharmaceutical news. They’re in reverse. They are actually going to sell the German pharmaceutical unit C3 cannabinoid, compound, Koji. MBH, you know, I like my.

I like alliteration, puns and acronyms. So that was pretty sweet on the alliteration. So now canopy has unloaded this pharmaceutical company to another German entity, uh, at a loss. Apparently they’re going to get about 115 million Canadian, uh, when they had actually purchased it from for 342.9 million Canadian back in 2019.

All right. Now here’s an interesting one. Visa is cracking down on industry payments. So it’s a pretty common thing in the industry. We’re point of sale devices that are considered cashless, ATM’s ring up a certain amount, say it’s $65 and 62 of which is the purchase. And only the $3 goes in cash to the person’s, you know, account or whatever.

So this is apparently aware of this now, and they are not happy yet. So I would expect some change in the industry as a result of this. And moving over to bless house brands entered into a senior secured term loan agreement for up to a hundred million dollars with initial draw of 50 million. And last but not least in the world of business, this is something that, you know, I’m always really interested in biosynthesis and other means of producing cannabis without growing the plant or roar academy.

Another major cannabis company together with 22nd century group, Inc announced a three-way non-exclusive agreement to licensed biosynthesis intellectual property to Kronos group, which is interesting to me because I noticed in a golden nug story, a couple of weeks back that Kronos group released the first product with cannabinoids that did not come from the plant.

They were bio synthesized. So this is a further move into that segment of the industry by Kronos relating to. And so they’re going to try and advance research and development on biosynthesis of cannabinoids because it gives them the capability of manufacturing, more rare cannabinoids, like the CBGs and the CB ends of the world, and a pure fashion and not worry about mold or other things, or just the fact that they’re really, really rare in the plant.


Moving over to science and medical news. A small Swiss study found that CBD was not an issue for. That’s all I’m going to say. It’s a really small study. And two, we found out that there is a reduction in teen use of marijuana, a very, very stark reduction. It was found when studying 20, 20. But part of the question obviously is does this relate to the pandemic and the fact that the teenagers were cooped up in their houses with their parents all year, instead of socializing and.

Who knows what teenagers do. I mean, I guess not drugs and any capacity. So there’s a huge dip, which is interesting as legal markets expand, but perhaps it’s more related to the pandemic. And moving over to international news, Malta has legalized recreational cannabis. Some of the rules connect, the two it’s are that there are going to be cannabis clubs and possession would be decriminalized.

So that’s exciting because that is. Technically to some extent the first European country to legalize. However, let’s keep in mind. German is coming down the pipeline, hold mine. And my joint is what Germany is about to say whether it’s 85 million population to Multa. All right. And moving over Thailand actually also has taken steps towards legalization.

They have announced plans to remove the plants, flowers, and buds from the ban narcotics list. So that’s a major move in Thailand as well, which has had some interesting steps in that direction. And in Mexico, there is no news as in, there’s no news that the Senate passed the legalization bill. I was hopeful that they would finally pass before their session ended in December 15th.
So, oops, not going to happen there.


And I want to quickly cover a couple pieces of psychedelic news. So accomplice pathway is major company in the psychedelic space, had two developments this week. First compass owns a patent that relates to the use of synthetic silo side. For certain usage. And that patent is being challenged by other parties as not being a novel invention.

So this pattern is, you know, good defense from boxing out other companies from using certain things. And so other companies are challenging it and if they succeed, then it’s going to open up certain things on the psychedelic side. The other thing is that comp has pathways actually also announced positive results from this exploratory study of psilocybin therapy in conjunction with SRS are I use Sri’s or antidepressants.

So that’s an interesting bit of news and also on psychedelics Haven life, a company successfully exported psilocybin from Germany. Into the U S for research purposes, because the Jamaica apparently has legalized psilocybin, though. If you ask certain prominent Jamaicans, as a friend told me, like some judges, they have no idea and can’t believe that that’s going to last now


Moving over to miscellaneous news and Arizona.

I just want to say. That we have talking about like jumping the shark, the industry. We have also come full circle when it comes to education. Because while I used to joke, right when I was in college, that I minored in marijuana studies and I giggled like a moron. When I said that we have actually come full circle to the point where there are.

Having classes in it. So this is not the first time I’ve heard this, but this week, Arizona university of Arizona announced that as handing out college business certificates, unfortunately, you won’t get credit for them, but I think if that’s not happening other places, it will soon.


And in our celebrity cameo the week, Dwayne Wade apparently cares about marijuana or at least he cares about cross-promotion because you released those strain of flour.

At the same time, he released his memoir and they’re like all sorts of connections between the two. I guess we should care. I’m sorry. Duane was awesome. I’m just a little bit surprised about that. I guess every celebrity is in the industry and with that I’m signing off. And so I say, stay grassy, my buds, and I will see you next week.

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Cannaconvo with Peter Su of Green Check Verified

Cannabis Last Week with Jon Purow interviews Peter Su of Green Check Verified. Peter Su is a Senior Vice President with Green Check Verified, the top cannabis banking compliance software/consultancy in the space. A 20+ year veteran of the banking industry, Peter serves on the Banking & Financial Services committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association. He chairs the Banking and Financial Services Committee for the NYCCIA & HVCIA. He is an official member of the Rolling Stone Cannabis Culture Council. And, he is on the board of the Asian Cannabis Roundtable, serving as treasurer.

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