JOIN US APRIL 29: How to invest in the spread of US marijuana legalization

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Sign up for this exclusive webinar on April 29.

Cannabis legalization is sweeping the US.

In the November elections, five states voted to pass cannabis reform, bringing the tally of states with recreational marijuana to 15. Thirty-six states now have medical cannabis programs – meaning that a majority of Americans now have some form of access to marijuana, whether medically or recreationally.

A Democratic Senate, House, and White House is also the best possible outcome for the cannabis industry. Though cannabis reform is expected to continue mostly on the state level, a slew of cannabis-related bills in Congress have prompted cannabis companies and investors alike to eye the changing landscape as an opportunity.

On top of that, more states like New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are looking to legalize marijuana.

If you’re looking to invest, or just understand what all these changes mean for the economy and beyond, tune in to Insider’s exclusive webinar on April 29th at 1 PM EST.

We’ll be chatting with investors Emily Paxhia and Mitch Baruchowitz, both long-time players in the cannabis industry.

Paxhia is the co-founder and managing partner of Poseidon Asset Management, and Baruchowitz, managing partner at Merida Capital Holdings. Both firms landed top spots in Insider’s list of top investors in the cannabis space in 2020.

The two will talk about which companies are poised to win as legalization spreads across the US, which companies to invest in, and which ones to avoid.

You can sign up here if you’re an Insider subscriber.

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Healthcare Experts Debunk 11 CBD Myths

  • Integrative cannabis physician June Chin and biomedical researcher Chanda Macias debunk CBD myths.

  • They debunk the idea that CBD gets you high, and that CBD is addictive.

  • They also dive into how not all CBD products are the same and how to check the quality of products.

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

June Chin: “CBD gets you high.”

Chanda Macias: CBD doesn’t make us feel high. In fact, it can reduce the effects of feeling intoxicated.

“CBD is a scam.”

Chin: It’s been used as a marketing tool. So, we really have to be able to weed it out. [laughing]

Macias: No pun intended.

My name is Dr. Chanda Macias. I am the CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare. I’ve been working in the cannabis industry since 2011.

Chin: And I’m Dr. June Chin. I’ve been an integrative cannabis physician for over 15 years. I treat both children and adults. And today we will be debunking myths about CBD.

Chin: “CBD gets you high.”

Macias: A lot of people think that CBD gets you high. CBD doesn’t make us feel high, but it definitely makes us feel less anxious and more relaxed. So when people say they use it to fall asleep, I can understand why they feel that way.

Chin: CBD can be extracted from the cannabis plant, but it doesn’t have the same ability to create a high, or a state of euphoria, like marijuana or THC.

Macias: In fact, it can reduce the effects of feeling intoxicated.

Chin: “CBD works the same for everyone.”

Macias: CBD does not work the same for everyone. Everybody has a different system, physiologically. When we think about patients using CBD and considering things of, what’s the right dosage? You have to really consider how heavy you are, your tolerance levels, have you ever used it before? If you haven’t used it, how long your cell receptors will react to the presence of CBD. These are all the things we have to take in account.

Chin: And if you think about prescription medications or even supplements, that’s not the same reaction for everyone either. So CBD is going to be very, very different for each individual. Depending on our metabolism, our body’s own enzymes, some patients will find that it works right away. Some patients will find that it takes a few hours.

Macias: I think that when people use CBD over the counter they get a little confused, and their confusion might be because the product might be full-spectrum, the product might be an isolate, or even broad-spectrum. You’ll have some patients that are very, very sensitive about introducing their bodies to THC, period. Because during accumulative use of THC, you could have a positive drug test from an over-the-counter product. You always, when taking any new supplement or cannabinoid medicine, you have to be careful. And it’s nice to be able to talk to your doctor, or your pharmacist, or even the dispensary retail workers to see if there is any possible interaction.

“CBD doesn’t have side effects.”

Chin: So, CBD does have side effects. For some patients, it doesn’t intoxicate you, but it can be really relaxing and almost produce an uplifting effect. A small amount of patients will find that CBD makes them very sleepy. CBD does improve your REM sleep. Patients that take CBD find that they get a much more restorative night’s sleep, because THC can disrupt REM sleep, so patients will take THC to fall asleep faster, but if they concentrate on more CBD-dominant doses they might find much more restorative sleep. Sometimes patients will find that when they’re taking CBD they do have stomach upset. You know, that might change their bowels a little bit, but it’s usually due to the carrier oil that accompanies the CBD.

Macias: “CBD and marijuana are the same thing.”

Chin: CBD and marijuana are not the same thing. CBD, also called cannabidiol, and THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, are the most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. THC and CBD are both in marijuana and hemp. Marijuana contains much more THC, while hemp has a lot of CBD.

Macias: The main difference is I think preventative care versus active treatment using cannabis. And if I have a patient that is facing more pain, not preventative care, then definitely THC helps with that more than a CBD.

Chin: Absolutely. CBD provides that foundational anti-inflammatory component, so you’re getting to the root cause of the problem, especially with chronic pain. And THC is also very valuable, because it can help with acute muscle spasms, acute pain, nausea, appetite increase. So I think that the THC and the CBD work synergistically together, and we can’t stress that enough.

“CBD is illegal.”

Macias: So, I need to debunk the myth that CBD is illegal. In 2018, the farm bill passed the usage of hemp, where we extract CBD from. So the isolate and other cannabinoids extracted strictly from the hemp plant is perfectly legal today. So, what’s interesting about legal CBD is that the percentage of THC present has to be lower than 0.3% to remain legal and to be sold over the counter.

Chin: All in all, hemp and CBD oil are considered federally legal in all 50 states.

Macias: “All CBD products are safe.” I have to debunk that myth, because we know that CBD products are allowable on the regulated market, but they’re also available on the illicit market, which are not products that are required to have testing and the identification of their different ingredients.

Chin: The problem with CBD is that it’s not FDA regulated. So really anyone can come out with a product and put it on the internet to sell. CBD eye drops have not been tested. CBD aerosolized nebulizers have not been tested, or the nasal spray have not been tested. So it really is on the onus of the consumer and the patient to make sure that it is effective and reliable and third-party tested. It’s as simple as checking the label, looking for what’s called a COA, certificate of analysis, because that COA will tell you the quality of the CBD source. It will list all of the information that is key on telling you potency. Is there any bacteria or fungus? Or are there any solvents or heavy metals or pesticides that have been tested on the label? You want to make sure that that lab has been accredited, so it’s tested by an accredited lab. So unfortunately there’s a lot of homework that consumers and patients have to do to make sure that that CBD product is as good as what it says it does.

Macias: When you purchase CBD, make sure you purchase it from a credible resource. Like, if you’re in a pharmacy and they have it on their shelves, usually there was some type of vetting of the product, versus a gas station, you know, there might be a compromise in the quality of the product. “All CBD is the same.” I debunk that myth. All CBD is not the same. The molecular structure of CBD is the same, but quality control could definitely be different.

Chin: And it also depends on the formulation. Some of my patients that use CBD for anxiety or for panic attacks, and sometimes before that panic attack comes on, before you start spiraling, you need something to work within 30 seconds. And that’s when you would use an inhaled version of CBD, such as the vape cartridge or a flower. And some of my patients have terrible pain, spasm, and inflammation, and they need something that’ll work throughout the day. They can’t leave work or take a break to go outside and use something that’s inhaled, so they need something that’s long-lasting. And that’s when they would use a capsule or a tincture.

“CBD fixes everything.”

CBD is not a miracle pill, it is not the silver bullet, it is not a miracle elixir to all things, it cannot cure everything that moves.

Macias: I have to agree completely. CBD has its known benefits, and we embrace those, but if I lose my car keys, CBD’s not gonna find them for me. When you think about CBD, you definitely need to keep it within its realm. And I think that it definitely can lead the pathway to integrative health benefits, but I think common sense needs to come into play when we use CBD.

Chin: I don’t think CBD and cannabis cures Parkinson’s, but for my Parkinson’s patients, it decreases the tremors, it decreases the muscle spasm and pain, it increases appetite and gives my Parkinson’s patients better quality of life. So I think it’s a piece of the puzzle.

“CBD is addictive.”

CBD is not addictive, but I can see why social media says that CBD is addictive, because CBD is derived from the cannabis plant. And many a people associate it with marijuana and assumes that there’s a potential for addiction. On the contrary, the World Health Organization concluded that CBD is nonaddictive with no withdrawal symptoms. And I can say that as a clinician, patients that I treat that take CBD are not dependent on CBD.

Macias: Matter of fact, I’ve seen patients that have been battling addiction has actually used CBD to help them in their recovery.

Chin: Yes, because CBD and THC can help offset some of those withdrawal symptoms, and it can decrease pain, decreases that inflammation, that nausea feeling, perhaps when you’re weaning off medication. So I often use CBD and cannabis to help patients wean off opiates, benzos, and even sleep aids.

Macias: “CBD cures cancer.”

Chin: I always debunk that myth, but cannabis medicine can help you get through chemotherapy and radiation that much better. And if it helps you with your mood, if it helps you sleep better, if it decreases some of your pain and inflammation and revs up your appetite, or maybe it gives you a little bit of energy during the day so you can take a walk, all of these things will help your body fight the cancer that much better.

Macias: There are so many wonderful benefits of cannabis, and specifically CBD, in helping the symptoms of cancer, but we can’t say with 100% surety it reduces the densities in different tumor sizes without that research element being conducted properly.

Chin: So, to say directly “cannabis cures cancer” is a myth, but cannabis can help you fight the cancer.

Macias: “CBD is a scam.” I have to debunk this myth. CBD does have its inherent anti-inflammatory benefits. It has pain-relief benefits, especially for preventive care, insomnia, and anxiety. Patients use it for a lot of these reasons, and it has helped and changed thousands of lives.

Chin: I can see why social media would label CBD as a scam, because over the past couple of years, CBD’s been everywhere and it’s been touted as this miracle elixir. If you look at Epidiolex, which is an FDA-approved, plant-derived CBD medicine for seizures. But then you look at the beverage industry, like Budweiser developing CBD-infused beer. Or your neighborhood café. You can add a shot of CBD to your morning latte. And then you look at the beauty industry and CBD lipstick, or Sephora has CBD mascara for thicker and longer lashes. There are some CBD creams and balms and lotions that work well, but you have to look at if they have another added ingredient. Maybe it’s the menthol that’s in the product or the arnica that’s supplementing it and creating a decreased sense of inflammation and relief for your muscles and ligaments. It’s been used as a marketing tool. So, we really have to be able to weed it out. [laughing]

Macias: No pun intended.

Chin: “CBD won’t affect other medications.” That is not true. CBD may interact with certain medications and certain natural supplements. And if you take it in extremely large doses, it can actually elevate your liver enzymes. So, seizure medications, if you’re on blood thinners. Certain patients will find that if they take cannabis, elderly patients, that there could be a fall precaution. Maybe they’re taking too much THC and they’re a little bit dizzy or groggy.

Macias: And I think that’s why it’s so important that patients work where physicians, specifically those that are educated in the endocannabinoid system, so that they can help them on that path to wellness.

Chin: When patients come to see me asking about CBD or cannabis for their health or wellness, I take it into full context of their medical history. So I look at labs, I look at their medical history, I do a full physical exam to make sure that CBD and cannabis is something that they could integrate into their health and wellness. Now, the problem is you can’t always find a physician that is knowledgeable about cannabinoid medicine. Actually, it’s very, very rare. So what’s wonderful with Dr. Macias and her dispensaries is that regulated medical dispensaries tap into a knowledge base of physicians, plant scientists, cultivators, and researchers.

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Chuck Schumer calls 4/20 an ‘unofficial American holiday’ as he makes the case for marijuana legalization

chuck schumer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called 4/20 an “unofficial American holiday.”
  • The top Democrat made his case to “end the federal prohibition on marijuana.”
  • April 20 is usually a day weed users celebrate the recreational drug.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As weed users across the country celebrate April 20 on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer marked the occasion as an “unofficial American holiday” and made his case for marijuana legalization.

“Today is what you might call a very unofficial American holiday: 4/20,” the top Democrat said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “It’s as appropriate a time as any to take a hard look at our laws that have over-criminalized the use of marijuana and put it on par with heroin, LSD and other narcotics that bear little or no resemblance in their effects either on individuals or on society more broadly.”

Schumer described the disproportionate effect that drug laws have had on people of color over the past decades, prompting the need for a “comprehensive reform effort.”

Young men and women “have been arrested and jailed for even carrying a small amount of marijuana – a charge that often came with exorbitant penalties and a serious criminal record, from which they might never recover,” Schumer said. “It makes no sense and it’s time for a change.”

The New York Democrat said he soon plans to craft legislation that would “end the federal prohibition on marijuana” and “ensure restorative justice.”

Marijuana arrests make up more than half of all drug arrests in the United States, according to an analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union. The data showed that Black people are nearly four times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana.

Public support for cannabis reform has grown in recent years as several states have moved to end restrictions on the recreational drug. A Gallup poll in November revealed that a majority of Americans -68% – are in favor of legalization.

Thirty-six states have already legalized medical marijuana, and 16 states, along with Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. New York, Schumer’s home state, joined that list in March.

Schumer has previously made clear his intentions to act on federal marijuana legalization, even if President Joe Biden is reluctant to. Biden has yet to embrace the position.

“Hopefully the next time this unofficial holiday of 4/20 rolls around, our country will have made progress in addressing the massive over-criminalization of marijuana in a meaningful and comprehensive way,” Schumer said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Biden “supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states.”

On the federal level, Biden backs “decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records,” and “legalizing medical marijuana,” Psaki added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

New Mexico becomes 16th state to legalize marijuana, a rebuttal to America’s ‘failed war on drugs’

GettyImages 91997121
New Mexico has joined 15 other states and the District of Colombia in legalization the recreational use of marijuana, with retail sales to begin by April 2022.

  • Adults in New Mexico will soon be able to possess and grow marijuana.
  • The state legalized recreational use of cannabis this year, with retail sales to begin by April 2022.
  • “We’re going to start righting past wrongs of this country’s failed war on drugs,” Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Beginning this summer, New Mexicans 21 and older will be able to both possess and grow marijuana. The state on Monday became the latest to legalize the recreational use of cannabis – with retail sales to begin by early 2022.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who in March convened a special session of the legislature to reform the state’s drug laws, signed a legalization bill into law. She also put her signature on a companion bill that will give many with past marijuana convictions a clean record.

“We’re going to start righting past wrongs of this country’s failed war on drugs,” Lujan-Grisham said in a statement. “And we’re going to break new ground in an industry that may well transform New Mexico’s economic future for the better.”

One of the country’s most impoverished states, a legal cannabis industry could spawn a $318 million market and more than 11,000 jobs, according to an economic analysis trumpeted by the governor.

Although New Mexico’s political scene has long been dominated by Democrats, the state for years struggled to move forward with marijuana legalization, with reform efforts thwarted by more conservative members of the party. In 2020, however, several of those conservative Democrats lost primary races to more progressive challengers who went on to win in November, shifting the state Senate to the left.

While marijuana will become legal on June 29, New Mexico residents will, for a time, need to grow their own (under the new law, they are allowed up to six plants each). That’s because the state will first need to develop both a regulatory infrastructure and sufficient commercial supply before allowing retail sales, which could begin as late as April 2022.

The upside for marijuana consumers is that, unlike in California and some other states that have legalized cannabis, local governments will not be able to issue blanket prohibitions on sales within their jurisdiction, the Albuquerque Journal reported. And anyone whose past offense would now be legal, or would have resulted in a lower sentence, will have their criminal record automatically expunged, per the Las Cruces Sun News.

Although New Mexico is known for its libertarian streak, the state’s Republicans are displeased.

“Recreational marijuana is hardly a pressing issue,” the New Mexico GOP said in a statement on Monday, arguing that cannabis legalization “will lead to even more crime, underage use, and impaired driving.”

In fact, surveys have found that the rate of marijuana use by young people has either remained the same or declined in states that have legalized its recreational use. Studies have also failed to detect a clear connection between road safety and the legal status of cannabis. And researchers have found little to no impact on crime.

Sixteen states and the District of Colombia have now legalized recreational marijuana. Colorado, in 2012, was the first.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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4 free perks you can get after getting vaccinated, from doughnuts to free CDC card lamination and beer

covid-19 vaccine card
Covid-19 vaccine cards help you remember when to get your second shot.

  • Some companies are giving customers free rewards for getting vaccinated.
  • Krispy Kreme and Staples have publicly promised doughnuts and laminated CDC cards.
  • Smaller businesses, like dispensaries, are also giving away local perks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As more Americans become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, some companies are offering perks for customers who can prove they’ve been inoculated.

Some employers are also offering incentives for employees to get vaccinated, as Insider has covered. These perks, though, are available to anyone.

Read more: Is it a crime to give away leftover COVID shots? Doctors and other healthcare workers fear legal consequences as they wait for Justice Department guidance.

Krispy Kreme

krispy kreme doughnuts
Krispy Kreme doughnuts go into production at the opening of the store at Harrods in London, October, 3, 2003.

Krispy Kreme will give away a free glazed doughnut to anyone who comes in with a COVID-19 vaccination card through the end of 2021, the company announced Monday.

“Whatever little things brands can do to help make it past the pandemic are good things,” Chief Marketing Office Dave Skena told Insider in a phone call. There are no limits on the free doughnuts, so a vaccinated person could potentially go every day.

Staples

staples
A family leaves the Staples store in Broomfield, Colorado Aug. 17, 2011 as the back-to-school shopping season begins.

Staples is offering free lamination of vaccine cards around the country to help with safekeeping.

Cards can be laminated after the holder receives the second dose, for vaccines that require two doses, Staples told Insider. The offer is valid through May 1, an extension from the earlier April 3 date.

Sam Adams

Sam Adams created craft beer craze

Samuel Adams says it will buy a beer for the first 10,000 people to share evidence of their COVID-19 vaccine on social media beginning April 12. Then the company will send $7 through Cash App to buy a beer. The promotion is called #ShotsforSam.

Drop Technologies

amazon gift card

E-commerce company Drop is giving $50 credits to people who take a vaccine selfie with #DropCovid and tag @JoinDrop on Instagram. The credits can be redeemed for gift cards to Amazon, Uber, Door Dash, and Sephora.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Canopy Growth’s acquisition spree

Marijuana
Workers harvest a fresh crop of marijuana at the Loving Kindness Farms in Los Angeles.

Welcome to Insider Cannabis, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.

Happy Friday readers,

The news cycle slowed somewhat from last week’s madness, but one thing we’re expecting as New York and other states ramp up their cannabis markets – more deals.

On that front, this biggest M&A news in the industry this week was Canopy Growth’s purchase of Supreme Cannabis.

That deal, Canopy CEO David Klein told me, is all about pushing for profitability at home in Canada before stepping into the US.

But Klein thinks that step is coming soon, saying that federal “permissibility” (not legalization, for what it’s worth) is coming like a “freight train.”

What else?

Yeji and I will be covering everything you need to know about cannabis in New York. How the policies shake out, stocks to buy, people to know and watch, and who’s benefiting – and losing out – from how the industry develops.

If you want to talk, reach out to us.

– Jeremy (@jfberke) and Yeji (@jesse_yeji)

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

The CEO of Canopy Growth lays out 3 reasons his acquisition spree will help the world’s largest cannabis company dominate the lucrative US market

Canopy Growth is buying Supreme Cannabis in a $346 million mostly stock deal. Canopy’s CEO said the deal targets the premium end of the market and lays the groundwork for US expansion.

Analysts called the deal a positive for Canopy but not “transformational.”

Under-the-radar cannabis company Columbia Care could pop 200%, according to analysts

Analysts at the investment bank PI Financial say Columbia Care is their top pick in the sector. The analysts say the stock could pop more than 200% from the current price.

Columbia Care has a large presence in New York’s medical-marijuana market.

Cannabis startup Fyllo just raised $30 million as mainstream investors place more bets on tech

Fyllo is a cannabis-focused software company. The company just raised a $30 million Series B round.

Fyllo says it’s expanding into the mainstream – both in investors and clients.

The ultimate guide to US marijuana legalization: The key dates to know, and which stocks could benefit the most

New York’s governor signed legislation legalizing marijuana in late March. Democrats control the presidency and Congress.

This tracker explains state legalization timelines and which companies are best positioned for new markets.

Executive Moves

  • Cannabis edibles company Hervé announced on Monday that cannabis veteran Ryan Hunter would be joining the company as chief strategy officer.
  • Green Thumb Industries announced that investor Swati Mylavarapu would be joining the company’s board of directors.
  • Evan Augustine has been promoted to chief revenue officer at cannabis tech company Wurk.
  • Chirali Patel is joining the cannabis tech fund Digital Venture Partners as a managing partner and chief compliance officer.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Canopy Growth announced it was acquiring The Supreme Cannabis Company for approximately $346 million in cash and stock.
  • Florida cannabis giant Trulieve announced that it would be acquiring three dispensary locations from Pennsylvania cannabis company Anna Holdings in a $60 million cash and stock deal.
  • Organigram announced it had acquired Edibles & Infusions Corporation for $22 million.
  • Canadian cannabis company Golden Leaf Holdings acquired a majority stake in Fifth & Root, Inc, a US CBD company, for $1.68 million.
  • Mercer Park Brand Acquisition Corp. announced on Thursday it would be acquiring California cannabis company Glass House Group for $567 million.
  • Merida Capital Holdings and cannabis art company Califari are launching NFT cannabis strain trading cards.

Policy moves

  • Virginia passed adult-use cannabis on Wednesday. Starting from July 1, adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess, consume, and grow cannabis in the state. The bill does not yet allow for recreational sales, which are expected to launch in 2024.
  • Mexico lawmakers said on Thursday that they are considering yet another extension to hammer out the details of its adult-use bill.
  • Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in an interview with Politico that the Senate would act on marijuana legalization, with or without the White House.

Research and data

  • A new study from the National Institute of Justice finds that there is little evidence correlating a specific THC level with impaired driving, and standard field sobriety tests are not effective in determining marijuana intoxication.

Earnings roundup

  • Planet 13 released its Q4 results on Monday, reporting $20.1 million in revenue and a $2.9 million net loss.
  • Verano Holdings released its full year 2020 results on Thursday, reporting $355 million in revenue and $245 million in profit for the full year.
  • Kushco Holdings released its fiscal Q2 2021 results on Thursday, reporting $32.9 million in revenue and a $5 million net loss.

What we’re reading

Marijuana will be legal in Virginia on July 1, years earlier than planned (The Virginian-Pilot)

Is it possible to create an ethical psychedelics company? (VICE)

Delaware marijuana activists stage boycott of medical dispensaries that testified against legalization bill (Marijuana Moment)

Koch-backed group joins marijuana push after Zoom with Snoop Dogg (Politico)

Marijuana users work out even more than their nonsmoking counterparts, study suggests (Insider)

Ohio employers quietly grapple with workplace marijuana policies (Crain’s Cleveland)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Virginia General Assembly passes law allowing for legal possession of one ounce of Marijuana

Virginia state capitol
The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill on Wednesday allowing for the legal possession of up to one ounce of Marijuana.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax broke a 20-20 tie in the Virginia Senate, moving the legislation forward years earlier than anticipated.

The measure will go into effect on July 1, 2021. Virginia has become the 16th state to legalize recreational Marijuana, and the first southern state to do so.

Gov. Ralph Northam has signaled his willingness to sign the bill, and had moved it’s implementation date to July 1 instead of January 1, 2024, arguing that the state should not continue to criminalize Marijuana users.

Democratic Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn also applauded the bill.

“Today, with the Governor’s amendments, we will have made tremendous progress in ending the targeting of Black and brown Virginians through selective enforcement of marijuana prohibition by this summer,” she said in a statement.

Virginia residents 21 and older can legally possess, use and grow Marijuana from July 1 onwards, but the timeline for recreational dispensaries to receive licenses could take years.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Marijuana legalization is sweeping the US. See every state where cannabis is legal.

medical marijuana cbd hemp weed smoking joint leafly flowers cannabis cox 82
  • Marijuana is legal for adults in 15 states and Washington, D.C. Medical marijuana is legal in 36.
  • New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota voted to legalize recreational marijuana in November’s elections.
  • New York legalized recreational cannabis on March 31.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Marijuana legalization is spreading around the US.

Since 2012, 15 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. And 36 states have legalized medical marijuana – meaning that a majority of Americans have access to marijuana, whether medically or recreationally.

New York became the latest state to embrace cannabis when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing marijuana on March 31. His move came shortly after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation officially legalizing marijuana in his state.

New Jersey was one of four states, along with Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota, where voters backed legalizing recreational cannabis in November. Voters in Mississippi approved the creation of a medical cannabis program.

Virginia and New Mexico are also close to legalizing recreational cannabis.

Some states that passed medical or recreational legislation through ballot measures have yet to iron out the details. For that reason Insider does not include South Dakota or Mississippi in our tally of markets where the substance is legal. Both states have faced legislative opposition to rolling out their programs.

Though Canada legalized marijuana federally in 2018, the US has not followed suit, forcing states to chart their own courses. As it stands, marijuana is still considered an illegal Schedule I drug by the US federal government.

Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election and the Democratic party’s control of Congress could give marijuana a bigger boost in the US. In March, the SAFE Banking Act – a bill that would help cannabis businesses access banks – was reintroduced in both chambers of Congress.

Biden has said he would support federal decriminalization of the drug, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that marijuana reform will be a priority for the Senate this year.

All the states where marijuana is legal:

This article was first published in January 2018 and has been updated with new information about where cannabis is legal. It was updated on April 1 with New York’s legalization. Melia Russell contributed to an earlier version of this story.

Alaska

cannabis
A cannabis-testing laboratory in Santa Ana, California.

Adults 21 and over can light up in Alaska. In 2015, the northernmost US state made it legal for residents to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana — roughly a sandwich bag full — for recreational use. The first pot shop opened for business in 2016.

Alaska has pounced on the opportunity to make its recreational-pot shops a destination for tourists. More than 2 million people visit Alaska annually and spend $2 billion.

Arizona

Curaleaf
Nate McDonald, General Manager of Curaleaf NY operations, talks about medical marijuana plants.

Arizona in 2020 voted to legalize cannabis for all adults over the age of 21

The measure had support from almost 60% of Arizona voters, according to Decision Desk HQ. 

The ballot measure was backed by a number of cannabis giants, including Curaleaf, Cresco, and Harvest Enterprises. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services began accepting applications for adult-use licenses on January 19. Approvals were issued just three days later on January 22. Sales began immediately.

Arizona rolled out adult-use sales faster than any other state that voted to pass recreational cannabis in the November elections. Companies already operating in the state’s medical market had a first crack at recreational customers.

 

 

California

cannabis
A MedMen store in West Hollywood, California, on January 2, 2018.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. California became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal to use and carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana.

The law also permits adults 21 and over to buy up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrates, which are found in edibles, and grow no more than six marijuana plants per household.

Colorado

marijuana
A marijuana leaf.

In Colorado, there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. The state joined Washington in becoming the first two states to fully legalize the drug in 2012.

Residents and tourists over the age of 21 can buy up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrates. Some Colorado counties and cities have passed more restrictive laws.

Illinois

JB Pritzker
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Illinois lawmakers in June 2019 passed a bill that legalized the possession and commercial sale of marijuana in the state starting on January 1, 2020.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who made marijuana legalization a core component of his campaign for the governor’s office, signed the bill into law.

Illinois is the one of the few states to legalize marijuana sales through a state legislature, rather than a ballot initiative.

Maine

marijuana
Harvested cannabis plants at Hexo Corp.’s facilities in Gatineau, Quebec, on September 26, 2018.

A ballot initiative in 2016 gave Maine residents the right to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, more than double the limit in most other states.

Massachusetts

cannabis
Medicinal cannabis cigarettes on July 12, 2018, at a cultivation facility in Milford, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts was the first state on the East Coast to legalize marijuana after voters approved the measure in 2016. 

Marijuana dispensaries opened their doors to consumers in November 2018. Adults over the age of 21 can purchase up to 1 ounce of marijuana but cannot consume it in public.

Michigan

marijuana
The Far West Holistic Center dispensary on November 7, 2018, in Detroit.

Voters in Michigan passed Proposition 1 in 2018, making it the first state in the Midwest to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Adults can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and residents can grow up to 12 plants at home.

The law is more permissive than other states with legal marijuana: Most allow residents to possess only up to 1 ounce at a time.

Montana

Cannabis
A CPlant employee organizes a box of hemp for export at the company’s farm on the outskirts of Tala, Uruguay, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.

Montana in 2020 voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over

Montana residents are officially allowed to use marijuana as of January 1, 2021. A year later, the state will begin to open up applications for dispensaries. 

New Jersey

cannabis
A CPlant employee trims a hemp flower for export at the company’s farm on the outskirts of Tala, Uruguay, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.

New Jersey in 2020 voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older, opening a market that could near $1 billion.

In February, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legalization legislation, after months of back-and-forth arguments about criminal penalties for minors possessing marijuana and the proper way to set up a licensing framework for cannabis sales in the state, among other details. Sales of cannabis for adult use could start in the second half of this year, analysts at Cowen said.

New York

new york when is weed legal timeline
A man holds a sign at a pro-legalization rally outside of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office in Manhattan

After two failed attempts to legalize adult-use cannabis in New York, the state finally passed recreational marijuana on March 31, 2021.

Though New Yorkers are now able to possess and smoke cannabis legally in the state, sales aren’t expected to begin for at least a year.

Andrew Carter, an analyst at Stifel, said he expects recreational cannabis sales to begin in late 2022. Analysts from Cantor Fitzgerald and Stifel estimated that New York could become a $5 billion cannabis market by 2025.

Nevada

marijuana recreational dispensary las vegas nevada
The Essence cannabis dispensary on July 1, 2017, in Las Vegas.

Residents and tourists who are 21 and over can buy 1 ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates in Nevada.

There’s bad news if you want to grow your own bud, though. Nevada residents must live 25 miles outside the nearest dispensary to be eligible for a grower’s license.

Oregon

marijuana cannabis cost Canada United States
Oregon’s Finest medical-marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon, on April 8, 2014.

Oregon legalized marijuana in 2015, and sales in the state started October 1 of that year. 

South Dakota

Aurora Cannabis
A team member of Aurora Cannabis works in the grow room at Aurora Sky cannabis growing greenhouse in Alberta, Canada, in this 2018 handout image.

South Dakota in 2020 voted to legalize both medical and recreational cannabis, the first time a state has voted in favor of both at the same time.

State lawmakers have until April 2022 to create rules around cannabis, including regulations around dispensaries.  

Vermont

cannabis
Cannabis plants in a laboratory.

Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislature, rather than a ballot initiative, when Republic Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill into law in January 2018.

Adults in the Green Mountain State can carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow no more than two plants for recreational use. The law went into effect in July 2018. But it was limited in scope. It didn’t establish a legal market for the production and sale of the drug.

In 2020, the state legislature passed a bill that would allow for adult-use sales in the state. All localities must opt-in to allow for dispensaries, however. Sales are expected in 2022.

Washington

medical marijuana
A medical-marijuana plantation on March 21, 2017.

Marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Washington in 2012.

The state allows people to carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana, but they must use the drug for medicinal purposes to be eligible for a grower’s license.

Washington, DC

Capitol Hill sunset

Residents in the nation’s capital voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for adult use in November 2014.

The bill took effect in 2015, allowing people to possess 2 ounces or less of marijuana and “gift” up to an ounce, if neither money nor goods or services are exchanged.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Insider Cannabis: New York finally legalizes adult-use marijuana

marijuana cannabis
Employees tend to medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel.

Welcome to Insider Cannabis, our weekly newsletter where we’re bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom.

Sign up here to get it in your inbox every week.

Happy Friday readers,

What a week.

The big news was New York’s legalization of adult-use cannabis. The day after state lawmakers released an updated version of the MRTA over the weekend, New York’s legislature voted to pass the bill in both the State Assembly and Senate. Hours later, on Wednesday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation into law.

We’ve got you covered on all the different angles of this and how it’ll affect current operators. While stocks remained relatively unchanged the day the bill passed in New York’s legislature, they saw big gains after Cuomo signed the bill.

More regulations are expected to trickle in as the Office of Cannabis Management and a Cannabis Control Board begin to create a more detailed framework for recreational cannabis. But we’ve got you covered in the meantime with the key takeaways every investor should know.

Outside of the vacuum suck that was New York legalization, some companies announced deals to increase their presence in the US. Greenlane and KushCo announced they were merging in an all-stock deal while Verano Holdings announced an acquisition in Pennsylvania and Ayr Wellness closed a deal in Ohio.

Plus, check out my colleague Andrea Michelson’s story on delta-8 THC, a cannabis compound with a hazy legal status that’s growing in popularity. She explains what it is, and tried a latte loaded with the substance.

My canna buddy Jeremy will be back on Monday after a well-deserved vacation. We’ll have more news coming your way very soon. Let’s get to it.

– Yeji (@jesse_yeji)

Here’s what we wrote about this week:

Cannabis companies are giddy as people use their stimulus checks to stock up on marijuana

Cannabis companies are gearing up for a boost in sales as stimulus checks start hitting people’s bank accounts. Ben Kovler, Green Thumb Industries’ CEO, says “it’ll be as simple as people will buy more weed.”

A top Wall Street analyst lays out 5 cannabis stocks to buy now that could pop as New York legalizes marijuana

Pablo Zuanic, an analyst at the investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald, laid out five cannabis stocks earlier this month that would see a boost if New York lawmakers legalized cannabis for all adults.

3 New York cannabis companies told us they’re planning to ramp up cultivation and prepare for wholesale now that the state has legalized recreational marijuana

GTI, Columbia Care, Curaleaf told us they’re looking to ramp up cultivation to meet demand. They also say they’re generally happy with the law but are waiting as more regulations come to light in the coming months.

The key details every cannabis investor needs to know about New York marijuana legalization, including the stocks to buy now

New York’s new legal market is nuanced and complex. We’ve got you covered with the key takeaways investors should know, including which stocks to buy, deals to expect, and how taxation will look as sales begin.

New York cannabis legalization will give the state’s 10 existing operators a big leg up – and that could be good news for investors

New York’s adult-use law gives huge advantages to cannabis companies that already have a foothold in the state. The 10 operators in New York’s medical market will be able to transition into adult-use and be some of the few players to be vertically integrated.

Here are the prime acquisition targets and the types of deals you can expect as New York legalizes cannabis.

The vast majority of the 10 operators currently in New York are multistate operators with deep pockets. A select few, however, are either private or financially struggling. As newcomers look to enter New York, here are the kind of deals you can expect to see.

A timeline of when New Yorkers can smoke marijuana, grow it, and sell it legally

Some aspects of NY’s cannabis legalization bill take effect immediately, while others are delayed. Here’s what we know about what’s allowed now and when you can expect to be able to home grow and buy products in dispensaries.

Executive Moves

  • Cannabis data and analytics company New Frontier Data announced changes to its C-suite on Tuesday. Founder and former CEO Giadha A. DeCarcer will now be executive chair. Gary Allen, former COO, is now CEO.
  • Psychedelics company Cybin announced executive changes on Tuesday. Co-founder and former COO Paul Glavine will become chief growth officer, and co-founder and former SVP, Business Development John Kanakis will become chief business officer.

Deals, launches, and IPOs

  • Psychedelics company Wesana Health announced that it closed a C$16.1 million private placement to fund trials of psychedelic-assisted therapy to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI).
  • Greenlane and KushCo announced on Wednesday that they were merging in an all-stock deal in which KushCo will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Greenlane.
  • MSO Verano Holdings announced on Wednesday that it agreed to acquire The Healing Center in Pennsylvania, adding three Pittsburgh-based dispensaries.
  • Ayr Wellness announced that it closed on its acquisition of Ohio Medical Solutions, Inc. On Tuesday, the company closed the acquisition of medical marijuana company Parma Wellness Center.
  • Canopy Growth said on Thursday that it closed its acquisition of Ontario-based cannabis brand Ace Valley.

Policy moves

Earnings roundup

  • Harvest Health & Recreation released Q4 results, reporting $69.9 million in revenue and a $7.4 million net loss. The company guided to $380 million in revenue for 2021.
  • Clever Leaves Holdings released Q4 results, reporting $3.3 million in revenue and a net loss of $11.6 million. The company said it expects 2021 revenue of $17 million to $20 million.
  • Greenlane Holdings released its Q4 results, reporting $36.3 million in sales and a $10.9 million net loss.
  • Agrify released its Q4 results, reporting $4.4 million in revenue and a $13.1 million net loss.

What we’re reading

Investigation: Illegal cannabis operation looks for roots in Indigenous communities (High Country News)

Chicago-based marijuana giant part of federal pay-to-play investigation (Chicago Tribune)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here’s what marijuana actually does to your body and brain

woman smoking marijuana out of a pipe at home
  • 1 in 3 Americans now live in a state where adults can legally buy marijuana for recreational use.
  • New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota all legalized marijuana for over-21-year-olds. New York is on the verge of legalization and could soon become the 15th state to legalize weed for all adults.
  • Research has found cannabis can relieve pain, treat epilepsy, and improve people’s sex lives. Marijuana use has also been associated with short-term memory problems, a distorted sense of time, and decreased sperm counts.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Marijuana is legal for all adults in 14 states, but its federal designation as an illegal drug has made studying the substance difficult.

Vaping smoking

Marijuana’s official designation in the US as a Schedule 1 drug — something with “no currently accepted medical use” — means it has been pretty tough to study.

That remains the case, despite the fact that, at a state level, the drug is increasingly accessible for the general public.

As of Election Day 2020, when Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota gave the green light to marijuana use for adults, 1 in 3 Americans live in a state where they can legally buy cannabis.

New York will soon become the 15th state to legalize recreational cannabis. On March 28, New York state officials announced they introduced a bill to make the substance legal for all adults and would vote on the legislation as early as Tuesday.

Despite the limitations to scientists studying the drug, a growing body of research and numerous anecdotal reports have found links between cannabis and several health benefits, including pain relief and the potential to help with certain forms of epilepsy.

In addition, researchers say there are many other ways marijuana might affect health that they want to better understand — including a mysterious syndrome that appears to make marijuana users violently ill.

Along with several other recent studies, a massive report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2017 helps sum up exactly what we know — and what we don’t — about the science of weed.

Here’s what you should know about how marijuana affects the brain and body.

Marijuana use is linked to a rare syndrome that causes nausea and vomiting.

emergency room

Most recently, a March 2019 study looked at over 2,500 cannabis-related ER visits in Colorado. They found that stomach issues like nausea and vomiting were the main driver of the trips, even before psychiatric problems like intoxication and paranoia. 

In 2004, Australian doctors began looking into these stomach symptoms based on the experiences of a local woman who used to be able to smoke marijuana with no issue, and then seemingly out of nowhere began having adverse reactions that paralleled those in the 2019 study.

They gave her condition a name: cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS. The rare illness is still fairly new and understudied, but researchers believe it might affect a large population.

“CHS is certainly not very rare,” Andrew Monte, an associate professor of emergency medicine at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital who led the March study, previously told Business Insider. “We see it absolutely every week in our ER.”

Marijuana can make you feel good.

marijuana smoke colorado
In this April 19, 2014 file photo, partygoers dance and smoke pot on the first of two days at the annual 4/20 marijuana festival in Denver. The annual event is the first 4/20 marijuana celebration since retail marijuana stores began selling in Jan. 2014. A year after Colorado’s marijuana tax for schools came in far short of its goal, the fund is setting records and has accrued more money in the first five months in 2015 than it did for all of 2014.

One of weed’s active ingredients, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) interacts with the brain’s reward system, the part that has been primed to respond to things that make us feel good, like eating and sex.

When overexcited by drugs, the reward system creates feelings of euphoria. This is also why some studies have suggested that excessive marijuana use can be a problem for some people — the more often you trigger that euphoria, the less you may feel during other rewarding experiences.

In the short term, it can also make your heart race.

Marijuana

Within a few minutes of inhaling marijuana, your heart rate can increase by between 20 and 50 beats a minute. This can last anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The NASEM report found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the overall risk of a heart attack. The same report, however, also found some limited evidence that smoking could be a trigger for a heart attack.

Marijuana’s effects on the heart could be tied to effects on blood pressure, but the link needs more research.

marijuana weed pot cannabis smoke smoker

In August, a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology appeared to suggest that marijuana smokers face a threefold higher risk of dying from high blood pressure than people who have never smoked — but the study came with an important caveat: it defined a “marijuana user” as anyone who’d ever tried the drug.

Research suggests this is a poor assumption — and one that could have interfered with the study’s results. According to a recent survey, about 52% of Americans have tried cannabis at some point, yet only 14% used the drug at least once a month.

Other studies have also come to the opposite conclusion of the present study. According to the Mayo Clinic, using cannabis could result in decreased — not increased — blood pressure.

So while there’s probably a link between smoking marijuana and high blood pressure, there’s not enough research yet to say that one leads to the other.

Weed may also help relieve some types of pain.

medical marijuana
A worker tends to cannabis plants at a plantation near the northern Israeli city of Safed June 11, 2012.

Pot contains cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical that is not responsible for getting you high but is thought to be responsible for many of marijuana’s therapeutic effects. Those benefits can include pain relief or potential treatment for certain kinds of childhood epilepsy.

The new report also found conclusive or substantial evidence — the most definitive levels — that cannabis can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, which could have to do with both CBD and THC. Pain is also “by far the most common” reason people request medical marijuana, according to the report.

Pain relief could include the discomfort of arthritis.

Medical Pot

One of the ways scientists think marijuana may help with pain is by reducing inflammation, a component of illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis.

A preliminary 2005 study of 58 patients with RA, roughly half of whom were given a placebo and roughly half of whom were given a cannabis-based medicine called Sativex, found “statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest, quality of sleep” for patients on Sativex.

Other studies testing other cannabinoid products and inhaled marijuana have shown similar pain-relieving effects, according to the report.

Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease may also find some relief.

medicinal marijuana
A volunteer displays cannabis buds at the La Brea Collective medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California, March 18, 2014.

Some people with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis could also benefit from marijuana use, studies suggest.

A 2014 paper, for example, describes two studies of people with chronic Crohn’s. Half were given the drug and half got a placebo. That study showed a decrease in symptoms in 10 of 11 subjects using cannabis, compared with just four of 10 on the placebo. But when the researchers did a follow-up study using low-dose CBD, they saw no effect in the patients.

Researchers say that, for now, we need more research before we’ll know whether cannabis can help with these diseases.

Marijuana may also be helpful in controlling epileptic seizures.

Marijuana stock photo

In June 2018, the FDA approved a CBD medication called Epidiolex.

The drug can be prescribed to people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy. In fact, it is the first FDA-approved treatment option for Dravet syndrome.

In the clinical trial for the drug, common side effects included sleepiness, fatigue, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and insomnia.

But it can also mess with your sense of balance.

A man gestures during a demonstration in support of the legalization of marijuana outside the Supreme Court building in Mexico City, in this November 4, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/Files
File photo of a man gesturing during a demonstration in support of the legalization of marijuana outside the Supreme Court building in Mexico City

Marijuana may throw off your balance, as it influences activity in the cerebellum and basal ganglia, two brain areas that help regulate balance, coordination, reaction time, and posture.

And it can distort your sense of time.

woman and clock

Feeling as if time is sped up or slowed down is one of the most commonly reported effects of using marijuana. A 2012 paper sought to draw some solid conclusions from studies on those anecdotal reports, but it was unable to do so.

“Even though 70% of time estimation studies report overestimation, the findings of time production and time reproduction studies remain inconclusive,” the paper said.

In a 1998 study that used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to focus on the brains of volunteers on THC, the authors noted that many had altered blood flow to the cerebellum, which most likely plays a role in our sense of time.

Limitations on what sort of marijuana research is allowed make it particularly difficult to study this sort of effect.

Weed can also turn your eyes red.

Eye

Since weed makes blood vessels expand, it can give you red eyes.

And you’ll probably get the munchies.

mod pizza photos and review 5496

A case of the munchies is no figment of the imagination — both casual and heavy marijuana users tend to overeat when they smoke.

A recent study in mice suggested the possibility that marijuana may effectively flip a circuit in the brain that is normally responsible for quelling the appetite, triggering us to eat instead.

It all comes down to a special group of cells in the brain that are normally activated after we have eaten a big meal to tell us we’ve had enough. The psychoactive ingredient in weed appears to activate just one component of those appetite-suppressing cells, making us feel hungry rather than satisfied.

A 2014 study found that marijuana use had no effect on body weight, despite the munchies phenomenon commonly associated with use.

Some women have reported having more satisfying sex when using marijuana.

love couple kissing sex rain nyc

A small study of 373 women from of varying races, sexual orientations, and marital statuses found that people who said they used marijuana before sex tended to have a more pleasurable experience than those who did not use the substance.

Specifically, some women reported having more satisfying orgasms and an increase in their sex drive.

Researchers weren’t able to pinpoint why marijuana had this effect, but suggested it could be due to the substance’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety.

Marijuana may also interfere with how you form memories.

weed smoking

Marijuana can mess with your memory by changing the way your brain processes information, but scientists still aren’t sure exactly how this happens. Still, several studies suggest that weed interferes with short-term memory, and researchers tend to see more of these effects in inexperienced or infrequent users than in heavy, frequent users.

Unsurprisingly, these effects are most evident in the acute sense — immediately after use, when people are high.

According to the new NASEM report, there was limited evidence showing a connection between cannabis use and impaired academic achievement, something that has been shown to be especially true for people who begin smoking regularly during adolescence. (That has also been shown to increase the risk for problematic use.)

Importantly, in most cases, saying cannabis is connected to an increased risk doesn’t mean marijuana use caused that risk.

In some people, weed could increase the risk of depression.

Marijuana buds are seen at the "Oregon's Finest" medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola
Marijuana buds are seen at the “Oregon’s Finest” medical marijuana dispensary in Portland

Scientists can’t say for sure whether marijuana causes depression or depressed people are simply more likely to smoke. But one study from the Netherlands suggests that smoking weed could raise the risk of depression for young people who already have a special serotonin gene that could make them more vulnerable to depression.

Those findings are bolstered by the NASEM report, which found moderate evidence that cannabis use was linked to a small increased risk of depression.

And it may also increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.

marijuana weed pot cannabis joint smoke smoking smoker
A visitor smokes a marijuana cigarrette during the Expo Cannabis fair in Montevideo, Uruguay, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014. After state regulation of the production and sale of marijuana, Uruguay had its first cannabis expo with stands selling seeds, marijuana growing technology, conferences and cultivation techniques workshops.

The NASEM report also found substantial evidence of an increased risk among frequent marijuana users of developing schizophrenia — something that studies have shown is a particular concern for people at risk for schizophrenia in the first place.

Regular marijuana use may also be connected to an increased risk of social anxiety.

marijuana cannabis
Bob Leeds, co-owner of Sea of Green Farms, shows some of the marijuana he produces during a tour of his company’s facility in Seattle, Washington June 30, 2014.

Researchers think it’s possible that CBD might be a useful treatment for anxiety disorders, and that’s something that several institutions are currently trying to study.

The recent report suggested that evidence of a link between marijuana and an increased risk of most anxiety disorders was limited.

However, the authors wrote that there is moderate evidence that regular marijuana use is connected to an increased risk of social anxiety. As in other cases, it’s hard to know whether marijuana use causes that increase or people use marijuana because of an increased risk of social anxiety.

Marijuana use could also affect sperm count.

sperm and egg

A small study of 37 men found that those who used marijuana had decreased sperm counts than those who never used marijuana. The study did not specify the methods of marijuana consumption used.

Another study, however, found that marijuana increased sperm count in men. This study was larger and looked at 1,215 healthy young men. They found that men who currently or previously used marijuana had both higher sperm counts and higher sperm concentrations than men who never used the substance.

A person could need more sedation medication for surgery if they have a regular marijuana habit.

surgery

A small study in the May 2019 issue of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that people who reported smoking marijuana or eating edibles on a daily or weekly basis needed higher doses of medication for sedation.

The researchers found that people who used marijuana daily or weekly needed 14% more fentanyl, 19.6% more midazolam, and 220.5% more propofol (all medications that are used for sedation) for the full length of their procedures than their counterparts who didn’t use as much marijuana.

Researchers haven’t determined why this was the case, but they believe marijuana could potentially desensitize the body’s receptors that process sedatives.

It’s worth noting that marijuana has likely gotten stronger since the 1980s, and that its ratio of THC to CBD has changed as well.

Cannabis dispensary
A variety of medicinal marijuana buds in jars are pictured at Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group dispensary in West Hollywood, California U.S., October 18, 2016.

The THC content of marijuana across the US has tripled since 1995, according to a large recent study in which researchers reviewed close to 39,000 samples of cannabis. While THC levels hovered around 4%, on average, in 1995, they skyrocketed to roughly 12% in 2014.

Meanwhile, the CBD content in marijuana — the part that’s responsible for many of the drug’s therapeutic effects — has dropped, the researchers found, shifting the ratio of THC to CBD from 14:1 in 1995 to about 80:1 in 2014.

Still, tracking THC potency over time can be tricky. The older a weed sample gets, the more its THC appears to degrade. How it is stored matters too. These two barriers could be interfering somewhat with the metrics on pot’s potency.

Most importantly, regular weed use is linked with some specific brain changes – but scientists can’t say for sure whether one causes the other.

girl smoking marijuana weed

In a recent study, scientists used MRI brain scans to get a better picture of the brains of adults who have smoked weed at least four times a week for years.

Compared to people who rarely or never used the drug, the long-term users tended to have a smaller orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region critical for processing emotions and making decisions. But they also had stronger cross-brain connections, which scientists think smokers may develop to compensate.

Still, the study doesn’t show that smoking pot caused certain regions of the brain to shrink; other studies suggest that having a smaller orbitofrontal cortex in the first place could make someone more likely to start smoking.

Most researchers agree that the people most susceptible to brain changes are those who begin using marijuana regularly during adolescence.

FILE - In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass. U.S. health regulators are moving ahead with a plan to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers by restricting sales of most flavored products in convenience stores and online. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE – In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass. U.S. health regulators are moving ahead with a plan to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers by restricting sales of most flavored products in convenience stores and online. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

A small study of teenagers in Europe found that people who used marijuana had more gray matter in their brains, which can affect how humans mature over time.

The researchers noticed these brain-level changes in teens who had just one or two joints in their lifetimes.

Although researchers are unsure whether higher brain volume is bad for health, they do know brain volume naturally decreases during the aging process, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

An international meta-analysis of 23,317 young adults also found that marijuana use could increase risk for depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

“Although the causes of major depressive disorder are multifactorial and complex, this meta-analysis suggests that the cannabis exposure could be 1 factor contributing to depression in young adulthood,” the researchers wrote.

Marijuana use affects the lungs but doesn’t seem to increase the risk of lung cancer.

marijuana smoke smoking smoker weed pot
A woman smokes a marijuana joint during the “Marijuana March”on Ipanema beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 7, 2016. About 1,000 people gathered for the demonstration demanding the legalization of the production and sale of marijuana.

People who smoke marijuana regularly are more likely to experience chronic bronchitis, according to the report. There’s also evidence that stopping smoking relieves these symptoms.

Yet perhaps surprisingly, the report’s authors found moderate evidence that cannabis was not connected to any increased risk of the lung cancers or head and neck cancers associated with smoking cigarettes.

Other forms of marijuana consumption, like vaping or eating edibles, have not been linked to increased cancer risk like smoking has been linked.

“When you combust any plant, you’re creating significantly more carcinogens,” Dr. Jeffrey Chen, the director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, previously told INSIDER.

Some athletes think marijuana could be used in ways that might improve certain types of physical performance.

Snowboarder snowboarding at Copper Mountain Colorado
A snowboarder gets air on a jump at the Woodward at Cooper terrain park on the opening day at Copper Mountain ski area Friday, November 4th, 2011. This is the first year that the terrain park has ever opened for opening day.

Some athletes, especially in certain endurance and adventure sports, say marijuana use can boost their athletic performance. This may be because of anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving effects that make it easier to push through a long workout or recover from one.

At the same time, there are ways that marijuana could impair athletic performance, since it affects coordination and motivation, and dulls the body’s natural recovery process.

Without more research, it’s hard to know how marijuana affects athletic performance.

There’s evidence that marijuana use during pregnancy could have negative effects.

Pregnant woman

According to the new NASEM report, there’s substantial evidence showing a link between prenatal cannabis exposure — when a pregnant woman uses marijuana — and lower birth weight. There was limited evidence suggesting that using marijuana during pregnancy could cause complications and increase the risk that a baby would have to spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit.

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in September 2020 found that pregnant women who used marijuana had a higher risk of their children having ADHD and/or psychotic behaviors that have been linked to schizophrenia.

And an analysis, published in Nature Medicine in August 2020, linked cannabis use among pregnant women to autism in their children. The study, conducted in Ontario, Canada, involved data from 3,000 women who used cannabis during pregnancy. 

Still, pregnant and breastfeeding women have reported using the drug to relieve nausea, pain, and depression symptoms since traditional NSAID painkillers are not allowed during pregnancy.

Experts say they have little information about the potential health risks associated with this practice, so they urge mothers to abstain from marijuana consumption.

CBD pills could help people cut down on marijuana use or quit.

medical marijuana cbd hemp weed smoking joint leafly flowers cox 3

Cannabis use disorder is a diagnosis that describes dependence on cannabis, making it hard to consume less of, or none of, the drug.

But in a study published in July 2o2o, UK researchers found that using CBD pills could wean people off cannabis if they have been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder.

“Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating or rewarding effects and it shows potential for a treating several other medical disorders,” lead author Dr. Tom Freeman said.

There are still so many questions about how marijuana affects the body and brain that scientists say far more research is needed.

marijuana cannabis pot weed bud nug medical

Based on the available evidence and conversations with researchers, there are good reasons to think marijuana has potentially valuable medical uses. At the same time, we know that, as with any substance, not all use is risk-free.

More research is needed to figure out how to best treat the conditions that cannabis can help and how to minimize any risks associated with medical or recreational use.

Staci Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital, told Business Insider that marijuana research is essential in determining “how best we can use it, what are the safest ways, and what are the real risks.” 

Kevin Loria contributed to a previous version of this story.

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