Author: Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a cannabis activist and prolific author from Oregon. Green was the High Times Freedom Fighter of the Month in May 2017 and appeared in the Netflix cannabis documentary 'Grass is Greener.'
driving driver car dui road duii intoxicated

Society Deserves A Sensible Approach To Cannabis Clubs And Driving

An area of concern for many members of society when it comes to cannabis reform, and understandably so, relates to cannabis and driving. After all, no reasonable person wants to have impaired people operating motor vehicles on public roadways. However, reasonable people also want to let science lead the way when it comes to determining impairment and crafting public policies that help mitigate impaired drivers on public roadways, and unfortunately, hard science is often not part of the public policy process.

Often replacing hard science and a rational approach for mitigating cannabis impairment on public roadways is outright political scare tactics, which is truly unfortunate. ‘There will be terror and bloodshed on the roadways’ is a common theme of cannabis opponents when any type of cannabis reform is being considered. The latest focus of such anti-cannabis PR efforts is cannabis clubs.

New Report Targets Cannabis Clubs

Days ago the Traffic Injury Research Foundation released a report titled, “Recreational Cannabis Consumption Spaces in Canada.” The report was published with support from the Canada Safety Council and DRIVE SOBER®. While some of the points made in the report’s press release are valid, many of them involved typical reefer madness talking points and communication strategies.

The report relied heavily on convoluting the nuanced differences between confirmed cannabis impairment at the time of an incident versus someone merely having cannabis in their system but no proven impairment, or someone having several substances in their system, or someone having so little cannabis in their system that impairment was likely nonexistent. For example, the report states, “more than 7% of drivers had ≥ 2 ng/mL, and 3.5% had ≥ 5 ng/mL.” To put those ng/mL limits into perspective, the Olympics’ cannabis testing threshold is 150 ng/mL.

“The report underscores that any proposal to move forward with the implementation of cannabis consumption spaces in the absence of effective and well-developed prevention strategies to protect the public from recognized harm is premature.” the report stated, which if you ask me, is merely a delay tactic to try to stop the spread of cannabis clubs. If so, there’s a really big flaw with that tactic – it ignores the fact that cannabis clubs are far from a new thing.

Cannabis Clubs In Canada

Regulated cannabis clubs may be a relatively new thing from a public policy standpoint, however, in the real world they have existed for decades, including in Canada. Underground cannabis clubs have existed for years, particularly in British Columbia, and the last time that I checked, the sky was still intact over B.C. Despite unregulated cannabis clubs being somewhat common in parts of B.C., it’s worth noting that the province does not lead Canada in drug-related DUIs.

According to government data from Canada, “Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest rate of drug-impaired driving (52 incidents per 100,000 population), followed by Prince Edward Island,” with New Brunswick (36) coming in next. By contrast, British Columbia had 32 incidents per 100,000 population. If increasing the number of cannabis clubs in a jurisdiction automatically made the roadways unsafe, then it would be reflected in the data. Yet, that is obviously not the case.

A Rational Approach

One thing that the report noted that was absolutely correct is that there is a need for ongoing public education regarding cannabis use and operating a motor vehicle while impaired. No responsible cannabis consumer advocates for impaired driving, and the same is true of responsible members of Canada’s emerging cannabis industry. Clearly, there is a common goal between responsible cannabis advocates and opponents alike in that we all want public roadways to be safe.

The friction between the two groups begins when prevention strategies and detection are discussed. Cannabis advocates want to rely on facts to educate the public, and not fear-mongering. Cannabis advocates want science to determine impairment and not arbitrary nanogram thresholds that do not take into account a person’s tolerance level, individual biology, and other situational factors.

Unfortunately, the topic of cannabis and driving is such a hot-button issue with cannabis opponents that it makes it very difficult to have a rational conversation about what an effective prevention strategy looks like. People have consumed cannabis in social settings for many years, albeit in a non-regulated fashion, and a vast majority of people take precautionary measures such as walking, taking public transportation, or arranging private transportation.

Cannabis clubs are merely the latest boogeyman punching bag for cannabis opponents. Concerns about impaired driving are valid, however, they should not be used to derail further implementation of cannabis clubs in Canada, or anywhere else for that matter.


united nations un flag logo

A 60+ Year Old International Cannabis Policy Agreement Serves No Useful Purpose In 2023

Last week the United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board issued a press release in which the international body expressed, “concern over the trend to legalize non-medical use of cannabis, which contravenes the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.”

In its 2022 Annual Report, the International Narcotics Control Board outlined the following, as also mentioned in last week’s press release:

  • notes that the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs classified cannabis as highly addictive and liable to abuse, and that any non-medical or non-scientific use of cannabis contravenes the Convention;
  • expresses concern that this trend among a small number of governments is leading to higher consumption, negative health effects and psychotic disorders;
  • finds the impact of legalizing cannabis on society difficult to measure because legislative models vary from country to country and data is still limited;
  • voices concern that many countries continue to have difficulties procuring enough controlled substances for medical treatment, including during emergency situations;
  • highlights that countries are confiscating a high number of non-scheduled chemicals and designer precursors used in illicit drug manufacture and is concerned about the global spread of these substances.

Coupled with the points listed above, the press release also provided various arguments and talking points to seemingly portray cannabis legalization in as negative a light as possible. The press release also seemed to ignore quite a bit of real-world context, so I figured I would provide some below.

1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs

One of the most popular talking points among cannabis opponents as legalization continues its march across the globe is that legalization violates the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. For many years opponents would point to the international agreement as ‘justification’ for preventing legalization efforts worldwide. After all, opponents benefit from the status quo, so it is not surprising that they will point to this particular agreement and leverage it to try to slow down the legalization process anywhere and everywhere.

Unfortunately for opponents, the legalization genie is already out of the bottle. Uruguay became the first country to pass a national adult-use legalization measure back in 2013. Canada followed suit in 2018. In late 2021, Malta also passed a national legalization measure. Germany is expected to see a governing coalition-backed legalization measure introduced in the near future, and that will likely result in a flood of other countries doing the same.

With all of that in mind, operatively speaking, the 1961 agreement is becoming more and more symbolic in nature with every passing year. If/when Germany passes an adult-use legalization measure and launches regulated sales, the relevance of the 1961 agreement will erode even further. That begs the question – why is it still around in 2023? The existence of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or not, the reality of the situation is that more countries are going to legalize cannabis for adult use, and no amount of United Nations PR is going to stop it.

Higher Consumption Rates

Another popular anti-cannabis talking point is that ‘consumption rates are increasing in places where cannabis is legal.’ This talking point is a scare tactic that doesn’t provide nearly enough context, presumably by design. For starters, assuming that consumption rates are truly increasing in all legal jurisdictions, cannabis consumption rates are also going up in places where cannabis is not legal, such as Japan, which opponents seem to always fail to point out.

Furthermore, data from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), which is one of the European Union’s decentralized agencies, demonstrates that the countries in Europe with the highest cannabis consumption rates are not those that have passed legalization measures. For young adults (age 15-34), which are often the focus of expressed ‘concerns’ from cannabis opponents, Czechia has the highest reported consumption rate (22.9%) for reported past-year use, followed by France (21.8%), Italy (20.9%), and Croatia (20.3%).

Malta is the only European country to have passed an adult-use cannabis legalization measure so far, and while it’s still very early in the legalization implementation process, the EMCDDA estimates that “around 4.3% of those aged 18-65 years reported having used cannabis during their lifetime” in Malta. That’s ‘at least once in a lifetime’ versus the ‘used in the last year’ measurement that was referenced in the preceding paragraph.

Being that the number is very low to begin with, increased access to cannabis may indeed result in more people consuming it in Malta in the coming years. Keep that statistic in mind when inevitably cannabis opponents start acting like the sky is about to fall over Malta. Even if the consumption rate doubled, it would still be less than 10%, which in the grand scheme of things is far from being on the high side of the consumption rate spectrum (no pun intended). All the while it is also worth noting that just because people may be consuming more cannabis, that in itself is not a bad thing.

Concerns Regarding Inputs

One line that particularly stood out to me in the press release at the heart of this article was, “…countries are confiscating a high number of non-scheduled chemicals and designer precursors used in illicit drug manufacture and is concerned about the global spread of these substances.” Isn’t this an argument for legalization?

In an unregulated market, there are essentially no rules outside of ‘do not get caught.’ Producers, transporters, and sellers in an unregulated market can add whatever they want to the cannabis during various phases of its life cycle and it often goes completely undetected. This is not to say that all unregulated cannabis is tainted, however, without proper testing there’s no way to know what is ‘clean’ and what is not.

Compare that to a regulated market in which certain substances are prohibited from being added to the cannabis life cycle, such as pesticides, herbicides, harmful nutrients, and “non-scheduled chemicals and designer precursors.” Lab testing and site reviews are mandatory in a regulated system to detect and prevent the use of such substances. If tainted cannabis is truly a concern of the UN then the UN should be promoting cannabis reform efforts around the globe instead of trying to hinder them with anti-cannabis propaganda.

united nations

bundestag berlin germany

Germany’s Health Minister Indicates That The EU Will Allow Legalization To Proceed

The push to legalize adult-use cannabis in Germany received a significant boost today, with reports surfacing that the nation’s health minister has received “very good feedback” from the European Commission regarding his plan to legalize cannabis for adult use in Germany and to launch regulated adult-use sales. Minister Karl Lauterbach reportedly stated that “in the next few weeks” his bill will be formally presented.

“We will soon present a proposal that works, that is, that conforms to European law,” Lauterbach stated according to NTV. Minister Lauterbach’s comments come after months of discussions with the European Union. Back in October 2022, Minister Lauterbach presented a legalization plan in Germany that included the following provisions:

  • Legal age of 18 years old
  • 20-30 gram possession limit
  • Regulated outlets
  • Prohibition on advertising
  • No cap on THC percentages
  • Cultivate up to 3 plants per adult household
  • Remove cannabis from Germany’s Narcotics Law

As part of his formal presentation to German lawmakers back in October, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach stated that prior to formally introducing his measure he would first seek approval from the European Union to proceed. Minister Lauterbach has indicated throughout the lobbying process that the goal and focus of his efforts are to improve public health in Germany via regulating adult-use cannabis.

That approach, Minister Lauterbach has consistently argued, is in line with EU treaties. His recent comments seem to indicate that the EU agrees, at least in principle. This is not the first time that Minister Lauterbach has hinted that his conversations with the EU are favorable, although his level of optimism certainly seems to be increasing.

Back in January, we reported on comments that Minister Lautberbach made regarding his lobbying efforts, indicating at the time that he was ‘certain’ that the European Union would grant its approval and that a formal introduction of the legalization measure would occur ‘in the first quarter of this year.’ Minister Lauterbach added, according to the reporting at that time, that he had ‘no reason to doubt this schedule.’

For those that are keeping track at home, the first quarter of this year is set to draw to a close in roughly two weeks. With that in mind, it appears that Minister Lauterbach is essentially right on schedule, albeit perhaps one week behind what he projected back in January. If Minister Lauterbach is indeed on schedule, I think it is safe to assume that the EU has afforded some type of indication that it will approve German legalization to proceed. The ramifications of that cannot be overstated, as it would likely open the floodgates to similar reform in other European nations as we have pointed out in prior reporting.

The real question at this point, in my opinion, is what has changed from what Minister Lauterbach presented back in October compared to what he is planning on presenting in “the next few weeks?” If we read between the lines a bit and take Minister Lauterbach’s reported comments at face value, he has received some type of feedback from the EU. Until the public knows exactly what that feedback involves, there’s always the possibility that Minister Lauterbach’s plan may have regressed to some degree in certain aspects.

Regardless of the EU’s feedback, Minister Lauterbach still has to convince lawmakers in Germany that his plan is sufficient. The EU can provide all of the feedback that it wants to, however, that will be balanced against domestic political demands from Germany’s current governing coalition.

As history has clearly demonstrated, many lawmakers in Germany will not entertain regressed legalization components. They also will not tolerate any footdragging. As the pressure continues to build on both sides of the equation and Minister Lauterbach is stuck in the middle like a political pinball, the eyes of the international cannabis community will continue to be focused squarely on Germany.

Will we see another leak prior to Minister Lauterbach’s formal presentation, and components of the legalization plan ‘magically’ evolve to be more favorable after enormous public outcry, such as what occurred back in October 2022? Only time will tell.


German Parliament

Cannabis Legalization Public Hearing Set For March 15th In Germany

An adult-use cannabis legalization measure is scheduled for a public hearing in Germany on March 15th at 14:45 (CET). According to the Budestag’s website (translated to English), “The hearing will be broadcast with a time delay on Thursday, March 16, 2023, from 11 a.m. on parliamentary television and on the Internet at”

The public hearing will be held by the Bundestag Health Committee, and the focus of the hearing will be, ‘a bill by the left-wing faction on the decriminalization of cannabis,’ as well as ‘a motion by the CDU/CSU, in which the parliamentary group advocates better patient care with medicinal cannabis.’

It is worth noting that the bill sponsored by the left-wing faction is separate from a legalization measure that is expected to be introduced this month by German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. According to documentation published by the Bundestag (translated to English), the left-wing faction’s measure (20/2579) states the following:

In their coalition agreement, SPD, BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN and FDP on the introduction of a controlled sale of cannabis to adults agreed for pleasure purposes. According to statements made by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach on May 4, 2022, the corresponding reform is to be implemented in the second to be worked out in the first half of 2022. However, due to substantive differences between the coalition parties with regard to the precise design of the structures for the legal production and sale of cannabis, it is to be feared that the legislative process will take longer. It lasts until he graduates criminalization of consumers. Of the more than 200,000 cannabis offenses per year, over 80 percent are consumption-related offenses. The legal and social consequences of criminalization for those affected are considerable. The annual financial expenditure for prosecution and enforcement resources is also in the range of one billion euros.

Essentially, what the measure is pushing for is an end to cannabis prohibition as it pertains to individuals, which is admirable. However, the measure is likely to be rejected by members of the governing coalition, with those members likely pointing to the looming measure from Germany’s Health Minister and stating that they want to wait.

Wednesday’s public hearing may not be as significant as some may think upon first consideration, however, it’s going to keep the pressure on lawmakers when it comes to the overall push for adult-use cannabis legalization in Germany.

The nation’s government will be forced by the public hearing to once again clearly state its position and goals regarding adult-use cannabis, and that, in turn, will let the citizens of Germany know that the issue is still important and that they can hopefully expect meaningful progress in the near future.


Essentia Pura CBD Hemp Products

Taking European CBD Products From Concept To Reality

The rise in the availability of cannabis products in many parts of the world is amazing from a consumer standpoint, and for suffering patients specifically, the boost in safe access is a tremendous blessing. More cannabis products are now legally available than ever before since the dawn of prohibition, and that is particularly true for CBD products.

Demand for CBD products is increasing around the globe. In fact, just the CBD skincare market alone is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars currently according to Verified Market Research. By 2028, that figure is expected to jump to over $3.7 billion.

Skincare products are not the only type of CBD product that consumers demand. Far from it, in fact. The beverages sector of the CBD industry is currently worth an estimated $4.52 billion and is expected to grow 25.6% CAGR according to Straits Research.

The CBD industry possesses tremendous profit potential, however, product development is much more difficult than many people think. Just because someone has a great idea for a type of CBD product does not mean that they possess the knowledge and resources to fully develop it.

Even if someone has such resources at their disposal, it may not make sense for them to manufacture products themselves, and instead, they should focus their time and energy on getting products to market and building brand recognition among consumers and patients. That is where white-label companies come in.

White-label companies help take CBD products from concept to reality, with Essentia Pura serving as one of the top white-label CBD companies on earth. I recently reached out to Nejc Rusjan, CEO & Co-Founder of Essentia Pura, to discuss white labeling, as well as his views on the larger cannabis conversation (my questions are in bold):

JG: What concerns should people have regarding CBD products (such as contamination)?

NR: CBD products are not yet regulated, neither by the FDA in the states nor by EFSA in the EU, so it is on us manufacturers to self-regulate to high standards and participate in novel foods applications.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers do this so there is no guarantee that the consumer is getting a product that contains the amount of CBD listed on the label or that the THC level is not within the legal limits. Additionally, some CBD products may contain contaminants such as heavy metals, and pesticides, which can occur during hemp cultivation or solvents that were used during the extraction process other than CO2 extraction.

Consumers should purchase CBD products from reputable sources and look for third-party lab testing results to ensure the product is safe, compliant, and contains the claimed amount of CBD.

JG: Why is it more advantageous for a cannabis company to use your white-label or custom formulation services instead of doing everything themselves?

NR: Using our white-label and custom formulation services firstly gives a company access to market-proven, proprietary formulated CBD products, with a market-leading cannabinoid ratio and secondly, it allows them to focus on their core competencies while still offering to their customers what we believe are the highest-quality CBD products.

By partnering with a white-label provider like Essentia Pura, the cannabis company can avoid the costs of establishing an extraction facility and avoid the risks associated with developing and manufacturing new products in-house. We handle everything from product development and manufacturing to packaging and labelling, allowing our customers to focus on marketing and distribution. We like to call ourselves a one-stop solution provider for white-label CBD business needs.

JG: What do you envision Europe’s cannabis industry looking like in five years?

NR: In the next five years, the European cannabis industry is expected to grow as more countries legalise cannabis for medical and recreational use. The industry will likely become more sophisticated, with more professional growers and manufacturers entering the market. The legally compliant full-spectrum hemp extracts will not be considered novel food.

Additionally, we may see more cross-border collaborations and partnerships as companies look to expand their reach across Europe. However, regulatory issues and cultural attitudes towards cannabis may continue to be a challenge in some countries, and it remains to be seen how these issues will be resolved in the coming years.

Essentia Pura

International Cannabis Business Conference Barcelona 2023

The Global Cannabis Industry’s Increasing Momentum Was On Full Display In Barcelona

The emerging legal international cannabis industry is stronger now than at any other time since the dawn of prohibition so many decades ago, and that was on full display last week in Barcelona where leading cannabis investors, entrepreneurs, activists, policymakers, and industry service providers from all over the planet gathered at the International Cannabis Business Conference on March 9th.

March in Barcelona has largely developed into the start of ‘cannabis event season’ for the international cannabis community in recent years, with the International Cannabis Business Conference partnering once again with Spannabis (held March 10th-12th) to put on the world’s largest cannabis super-event in 2023.

The two events combine for what is likely the closest thing in this world to an international cannabis community reunion, and it’s always heartwarming and inspiring to see old friends connecting (in addition to new friendships being created).

International Cannabis Business Conference Barcelona 2023

The International Cannabis Business Conference is Spain’s largest cannabis B2B event and this year’s installment came at a very crucial time for cannabis policy in Spain, as well as for cannabis policy at the continental level. Lawmakers and regulators in Spain are working harder than ever to pass meaningful legislation that will help Spain’s emerging cannabis industry reach its full potential. The same can also be said about many other parts of Europe right now.

With that in mind, it was tremendously beneficial to bring not only leaders from throughout Spain to one venue to network and discuss cannabis policy, but also leaders from other nations that are either working towards the same end goal as Spain or are farther along in the process and were able to impart their wisdom. Those leaders were able to network with each other and additionally were able to network with industry members, which is important for a multitude of reasons.

Cannabis policy reform is still a relatively new phenomenon at the international level and the global cannabis ecosystem is still largely a patchwork of laws, rules, and regulations, and that patchwork extends to efforts to reform and improve current public policies. The saying, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ is as applicable to global cannabis efforts as anything you will ever find, so seeing leaders from all sectors of society (law, government, industry, activism) networking with each other was very encouraging and uplifting.

The International Cannabis Business Conference’s next event will be in Berlin in June. Buy your tickets today before prices go up!

International Cannabis Business Conference Barcelona 2023

As is always the case, the curriculum at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Barcelona was packed with world-class speakers who are all global leaders in their particular fields. We will be publishing videos of the panel discussions on the event’s YouTube channel, so make sure to check them out in the near future.

Below is a small sampling of photos from some of the many insightful panel discussions that took place at the 2023 International Cannabis Business Conference Barcelona B2B event:

International Cannabis Business Conference Barcelona 2023

No International Cannabis Business Conference event would be complete without an epic after-party, and this year’s event in Barcelona was no exception.

Below is a sampling of pictures demonstrating the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality that makes the International Cannabis Business Conference’s events so special:

barcelona, Europe, Spain

court decision hearing gavel

Why Is The Czech Republic Punishing A Cannabis Educator?

The cannabis reform movement, as with any meaningful social movement, would not be possible without people spreading education. Cannabis educators are vital because without them there would be a vast knowledge void, and that knowledge void would be filled entirely by cannabis opponents as history has clearly demonstrated.

For several decades positive cannabis knowledge and information were suppressed by governments worldwide. Those that tried to spread the truth and facts were sometimes targeted. Unfortunately, that censorship continues to this day, including in countries that you may not have expected.

Robert Veverka is a journalist and director of the Czech-based cannabis magazine LegalizaceBack in October 2021, I published an article about Robert being targeted by the Czech government over his journalism, with the government accusing him of “inciting and promoting toxicomania.”

Legalizace is a bimonthly periodical focused on cannabis, as well as drug policy relating to human rights and environmental issues. Here in the United States where I live and conduct similar efforts, what Veverka did is well within the parameters of legal speech/expression. Legalizace clearly provides content that possesses significant scientific, political, and literary value.

“The prosecution, which is calculated, stigmatizing, borderline untruthful, and based on fallacious conjectures and limited interpretation by the police that the cultivation and processing of cannabis is automatically illegal or that any mention of cannabis automatically equates ‘inciting toxicomania’, comprises a dangerous precedent comparable to totalitarian repression and censorship.” Robert Veverka stated back in late 2021 regarding the initial indictment.

“I consider it my duty to fight not only for the right of Legalizace magazine to exist, but also for the rights of all print and electronic media who have ever dared mention the word ‘cannabis’ – or plan to do so in the future,” Robert Veverka went on to say at the time.

Unfortunately, the Czech Republic proceeded with the indictment and in November 2021 Veverka and his media outlet were found guilty of the allegations, and Veverka was given a one-year prison sentence contingent on a probationary period of two and a half years as well as a fine of 50,000 CZK by the district court in Bruntál following two court hearings.

“The judge mentioned that he is not competent to assess the benefits of the current legislation, the benefits of cannabis products in healthcare, or the negative effects of cannabis use, but that he must base his verdict on the existing legislation which is binding for all. He stated that according to his judgement, Legalizace magazine evidently and factually constituted the criminal offence of inciting and promoting toxicomania.” Veverka stated at the time of the November 2021 verdict in a press release.

“He did not take into account the legislative provisions allowing for cannabis to be handled legally in certain cases or the comprehensive and educational nature of the information published in the magazine. On the contrary, the judge expressed his doubts as to whether the individuals who granted interviews to the magazine were made aware of its content and overall message. Personally, I consider the verdict to be very biased and severely restrictive of the freedom of expression, the right to express political opinion, and the right to information,” Veverka also stated.

News broke this month that Veverka was sentenced by a Czech court for similar allegations, although it’s still unclear to me from afar if that is part of an appeal attempt to the previously cited charges, or if this is a separate, additional matter. Either way, one thing that I do know is that what Veverka is being subjected to is horrific and unfair, and the global cannabis community needs to rally around him.

Veverka must reportedly pay an administrative offense of €4.000 (as a defendant and a natural person) and €6.000 on behalf of his media outlet as part of the recent verdict. For anyone that is able to support Robert Veverka and contribute to his defense, bank details are below. If you are not able to contribute financially, please help spread the word on your social channels about his plight:

IBAN: CZ4320100000002900469065
Fio banka, as, V Celnici 1028/10, 117 21 Praha 1

czech republic

Raphael Mechoulam ICBC Berlin

The World Has Lost A Giant Of Cannabis Science – Tribute To Raphael Mechoulam

Some events are so monumental that people measure their lives by them. People remember where they were when humans landed on the moon. They remember where they were during the OJ Simpson high-speed chase, or when the Twin Towers fell.

I do not remember where I was when I first learned about international cannabis scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, however, I will forever remember where I was when I found out about his passing today.

The world has truly lost a science giant, and for us in the cannabis community, we have lost one of the greatest minds that we have ever had in our community.

In the early hours of today (Pacific Standard Time), one of Mechoulam’s colleagues at the Israel Institute of Technology, associate professor David (Dedi) Meiri, posted the following message on LinkedIn:

Dedi Meiri tribute to Raphael Mechoulam

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is widely recognized as one of the greatest scientists in the field of cannabis research that the world has ever known. Mechoulam began his cannabis research in the 1960s, and is often referred to as ‘the Godfather of cannabis research,’ and for good reason.

Mechoulam and his team were the first to ever isolate and synthesize tetrahydrocannabinol in human history. The same goes for cannabidiol, cannabigerol, cannabichromene, and various cannabinoid carboxylic acids.

Virtually all current cannabis research is essentially built on the efforts of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, whether people realize it or not. He is truly a legend and will be dearly missed. Below is Dr. Raphael Mechoulam providing the keynote address at the 2019 International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin. Enjoy:


Raphael Mechoulam

cannabis bud leaf plant

Spain To Quadruple Legal Medical Cannabis Production This Year

Late last month lawmakers in Spain considered a cannabis reform measure, and while the measure did not pass, Spain’s emerging legal cannabis industry will undergo a fairly substantial expansion this year regardless. The Spanish Medicines Agency recently notified the International Narcotics Control Board that it plans to (roughly) quadruple the amount of legal medical cannabis grown within its borders.

As verified by Público, Spain’s Ministry of Health “has forecast a production of 23.43 tons of medical cannabis in Spain this year.” As required by international agreements, Spain has to notify the International Narcotics Board of the United Nations every year regarding how much domestic medical cannabis it projects it will produce. This year’s notification from Spain is obviously a considerable increase compared to last year.

Why It’s Not Enough

For some historical context, consider that in 2019 and 2020 Spain reported to the International Narcotics Board that it would cultivate 500 kilos each year. That figure increased in 2021 to a reported 600 kilos. The following year in 2020 the figure grew exponentially to a reported 6,000 kilos. This year’s reported forecast of 23.43 tons compared to just two years ago highlights how fast Spain’s medical cannabis industry is expanding. And yet, it’s not enough. Not even close.

The boost in cannabis production in Spain will benefit exports and research, however, it’s not going to help Spain’s regulated domestic medical cannabis industry being that Spain doesn’t really have one, at least not compared to many other nations. As pointed out by Público, only two medical cannabis pharmaceutical products are authorized in Spain right now (Sativex and Epidiolex).

As such, most patients rely on the unregulated market to source their medical cannabis products, including from unregulated clubs that operate in a ‘grey area’ of the law. Spain doesn’t just need a boost in domestic medical cannabis production – it also needs to reform its laws to embrace and develop the domestic medical cannabis industry in a way that helps as many patients as possible.

A Boost For Reform Efforts

Increasing domestic medical cannabis production in Spain is generally a good thing. If it helps suffering patients abroad via direct access to medical cannabis, that is still beneficial, and if it contributes to groundbreaking research that helps suffering patients around the world, that is also beneficial. With that being said, clearly, there is still a lot more that can and should be done.

Fortunately, Spain is about to receive a boost for reform efforts via the world’s largest cannabis super-event that starts later this week. On March 9th policymakers, industry leaders, and cannabis advocates from all over the globe will descend on Barcelona, first for the International Cannabis Business Conference (March 9th), and then for Spannabis (March 10th-12th). A limited number of tickets are still available for both events.

The two events have once again teamed up to create an opportunity for thought leaders from around the world to discuss cannabis policy inside and outside of Spain. Whenever the world’s smartest cannabis brains get together amazing things happen, and this month in Barcelona will be no exception.


munich germany

Bavaria’s Health Minister Is Clearly Wrong About Cannabis

I have never traveled to Bavaria, or Europe for that matter. I plan on making my first trip later this year to attend the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin in June. While I am excited to explore many parts of Germany, one jurisdiction that I plan on steering clear of is Bavaria. That is born out of fear, perhaps an irrational fear, regarding the German state’s reported position on cannabis, as expressed in a recent legal opinion published by Bavaria’s Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU).

Obviously, there are many things that I know nothing about when it comes to Germany being that I have never traveled there, however, it is abundantly clear that Bavaria’s Health Minister despises all things cannabis. After all, various federal lawmakers in Germany are pursuing adult-use legalization as part of a governing coalition agreement and Minister Holetschek is leading the internal opposition against it.

Unfortunately for Minister Holetschek, the facts do not support his recently published ‘legal opinion,’ which I personally feel would be better described as a political hit job attempt. I have never traveled to Bavaria, but I have studied cannabis policy for multiple decades, have served on the front lines of cannabis activism for many years, and was at one point a scholarship law student. With that in mind, below are some of my thoughts and analysis regarding Minister Holetschek’s stated opinions (Minister Holetschek’s stated opinions are translated from German to English).

International And European Agreements

Many of Holetschek’s arguments seem to be based on a lack of evidence to the contrary and/or incomplete information, which are classic prohibitionist political communication tactics. Those strategies worked for a long time being that prohibition was the absolute law of the world for many years. Yet, we no longer operate in a world in which there are no examples of national-level legalization already in existence. According to Minister Holetschek, ‘above all’ the main reason why Germany should not pass an adult-use legalization measure is that it “violates international law and European law.”

“The UN drug control bodies rate a comprehensive cannabis legalization of the kind planned by the federal government in constant decision-making practice as a breach of the UN Convention on Drugs.” Minister Holetschek reportedly stated.

What Minister Holetschek fails to acknowledge in his assertion is that nothing meaningful has happened to Canada, which legalized cannabis for adult use in 2018, after Canada did quite literally what the Minister is selectively clutching his pearls about. Furthermore, the United States has allowed state-level legalization to proceed, which in itself puts the U.S. out of compliance to some degree, and nothing meaningful has happened to the U.S. federal government either. It is my understanding that both nations receive annual warnings from the UN about being out of compliance, but that is the extent of it.

It’s a safe bet that the same will prove to be true in Germany. Even if some international or continental feathers get ruffled by Germany proceeding with legalization, if history is a guide there will be nothing more than some sternly worded letters being received. Additionally, it’s absolutely worth noting that Germany’s Health Minister’s opinion regarding the EU-level component of treaties directly contradicts that of the Bavarian Health Minister, with German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach previously expressing that he was ‘certain’ that the European Union would allow Germany to proceed. People can form their own opinion, although I am going to personally rely on the opinion of the federal health minister on this one.

Protecting Youth

Minister Holetschek’s arguments regarding veiled ‘doomsday scenarios’ about youth consumption are particularly outdated.

“I cannot understand how the release of cannabis for ‘pleasure purposes’ for young people over the age of 18 should improve health and youth protection.” Minister Holetschek reportedly stated. That statement is like something straight out of the 1930s film Reefer Madness.

‘What about the children?’ is one of the most historically popular talking points used by cannabis prohibitionists. But unlike decades past, there are now many peer-reviewed studies regarding cannabis, and a growing body of pre and post-legalization public health data that can be easily acquired and examined, including data that pertains to youth consumption.

Per government data from the Oregon Health Authority, not only was there no spike in youth consumption following the launch of legal adult-use sales and outright possession legalization in 2015; youth consumption rates actually went down from 2012 to 2018 in Oregon. A broader study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University, which involved consumption survey data from over 800,000 respondents in states where cannabis sales were permitted, also found no spike in youth cannabis usage rates.

A study in 2021 conducted by researchers in Canada found ‘no significant differences’ in cannabis consumption rates before and after cannabis legalization in Canada. As of May 2022, data out of Uruguay also demonstrated no sustained changes in youth consumption rates post-legalization. If Minister Holetschek is truly worried about the youth in a post-legalized Germany, he can look at the available data and hopefully sleep better knowing that his fears are unfounded.

Public Health

“Let me be clear: I firmly oppose cannabis legalization because of the serious health risks of this drug.” Minister Holetschek reportedly stated. “Legalizing cannabis and insisting on prevention is like starting a fire and then calling the fire brigade. The Berlin traffic light coalition can’t be serious about that.”

Those statements by the minister operate on the false assumption that if cannabis is prohibited no one will consume it. To use the minister’s own wording, the fire was started a long time ago and burns at all times regardless of whether prohibition is in place or not. There is zero evidence in Germany or anywhere around the world that cannabis prohibition lowers consumption rates. From the pure consumption standpoint, the real major difference between legalization and prohibition is that people are consuming tested and regulated products in the former scenario, and consuming untested products in the latter scenario. Clearly, people consuming tested products is far superior for public health outcomes compared to forcing all consumers towards unregulated sources.

“Experiences from the USA and Canada show that the black market cannot be dried up with legalization. Rather, the black market continues to exist.” Minister Holetschek also reportedly stated.

Again, Minister Holetschek is only giving part of the overall picture via the previously cited comment. Make no mistake – the unregulated cannabis market will never be 100% diminished in Germany or anywhere else, just as unregulated tobacco products will never go away 100%, and a whole host of other times like fake Rolex watches, moonshine, and other illegal items that are bought and sold around the world every day to some degree will never go away 100%.

Right now, 100% of the adult-use market in Germany goes through unregulated sources given the fact that all adult-use sales are prohibited. Meanwhile, in Canada, a recent study concluded that during the period of 2019-2021, consumers moved from the unregulated market to the regulated market at an increasing rate year over year, with over half of Canadian consumers (55%) now reporting that they obtain their flower exclusively from regulated sources.

Not only does the transition to a regulated market benefit public health directly via the consumption of safer products, it also provides a tremendous boost to local economies and public coffers. As of a year ago, the legal cannabis industry in Canada had reportedly created over 150,000 jobs, generated over $15 billion in taxes and fees for governments of all levels, and contributed over $43.5 billion to the nation’s GDP since the start of legalization. Again, those estimates are from a year ago and obviously have only risen since then. Minister Holetschek can stick to his talking points, however, as you can clearly see the facts are not on his side and policymakers all over the world would benefit from disregarding his opinions when it comes to cannabis policy.

bavaria, Germany

europe flags european

March 2023 Is Set To Be A Historic Month For European Cannabis

The next 32 days on the European continent could prove to be one of the most historic stretches of time for cannabis public policy and the continent’s emerging legal cannabis industry. Starting tomorrow, Malta’s government will begin accepting applications for non-profit cannabis clubs.

It’s a major milestone not just for Malta, which is the only country in Europe to pass a national adult-use legalization measure, but it’s also a major milestone for the greater European industry being that Malta is the first nation in Europe to set up this kind of national adult-use licensing system. It will be very interesting to see how many applications Malta receives next month.

Malta is not the only nation set to experience a historic March 2023. As every global cannabis observer already knows, lawmakers in Germany have worked very hard to make good on their coalition agreement component relating to legalizing cannabis for adult use and implementing a regulated adult-use industry.

Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach made a formal presentation of a legalization plan back in October 2022 and has since lobbied the European Union for its permission to proceed with an official introduction of a legalization measure.

What some observers seem to have overlooked, or perhaps forgotten about, is that roughly a month ago Minister Lauterbach reportedly confirmed a timetable for a formal introduction of a legalization measure and indicated at the time that he had ‘no reason to doubt’ that a legalization measure would be introduced ‘in the first quarter of this year.’

With February drawing to a close that puts the German adult-use legalization bullseye squarely on the month of March. Whether or not Minister Lauterbach’s reported timeline proves to be accurate or not is something that time will have to determine, although, there have been no meaningful setbacks reported from what I can tell as of the posting of this article.

Additionally, cannabis enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, and industry service providers are set to flock to Barcelona, Spain in March as part of the world’s largest super-event collaboration. The International Cannabis Business Conference has once again partnered with Spannabis, Europe’s top cannabis expo, to form another super-event that is a must-attend for anyone that is serious about succeeding in the emerging cannabis industry.

The International Cannabis Business Conference will host Spain’s largest cannabis B2B event on March 9th at the L’Auditori de Cornellà, with the after-party being held at the Hotel Arts (Ritz-Carleton) Barcelona. Spannabis will follow on March 10-12th at Fira de Cornellà. The super-event is the first large cannabis conference collaboration of the year. Whenever thousands of cannabis supporters get together and network good things happen, and that will surely be the case in Barcelona next month.

Cannabis policy and industry in Europe are both at pivotal points, and being that a legal industry cannot come into existence without reform occurring first, the two are directly tied to each other. If Germany does witness the formal introduction of an adult-use legalization measure next month, it will likely set off a wave of similar political activity in other parts of Europe and that will be good news for the continent’s emerging industry.

The same goes for Malta’s cannabis club application rollout. If Malta can successfully gather, review, and approve non-profit cannabis club applications, it will have set up a bureaucratic blueprint for other nations to copy. It’s nuanced but very significant.

We will all have to wait and see what happens for cannabis in Europe in March while doing our best to temper our excitement and expectations.

Germany, malta, Spain

malta flag

Malta Home Affairs Ministry Is Reportedly ‘In Talks With A Main Bank’

A unique cannabis public policy and industry experiment is ramping up in Malta where non-profit adult-use cannabis clubs are expected in the near future. Starting next week, Malta’s government will begin accepting applications for non-profit adult-use cannabis clubs. The European nation became just the third country on earth to pass a national adult-use legalization measure in late 2021, with only Uruguay (2013) and Canada (2018) proceeding Malta. Non-profit cannabis clubs will serve as the backbone of Malta’s adult-use industry, and this week the nation’s Home Affairs Ministry reportedly entered into discussions with an unnamed ‘main bank’ that will be needed to help Malta’s emerging industry reach its full potential.

Access to the global banking system has proven to be difficult for certain entities in the public and private sector regarding cannabis commerce, although there are certainly examples of entities being able to successfully navigate the financial regulatory labyrinth in some instances. Still, getting consistent banking solutions pinned down is something that is a top priority for any emerging cannabis market, and Malta is no exception, so reports that there is progress on that front is encouraging.

A Somewhat Unique Model

Cannabis clubs are not a new phenomenon, so from afar, what is going on in Malta may not seem significant. After all, Uruguay and Canada both already permit cannabis clubs to operate in some fashion in certain jurisdictions. For that matter, Barcelona is home to hundreds of private cannabis clubs, albeit operating in a semi-grey area of the law. Yet, Malta is unique compared to those markets in that its entire cannabis commerce model will be based on licensed non-profit cannabis clubs. Home cultivation will be permitted, but the only way to legally purchase cannabis in Malta once clubs are implemented is via non-profit clubs.

It may seem nuanced, but as anyone that has paid attention to the ongoing cannabis banking saga will recognize this is a bit of a new wrinkle. Uruguay has experienced banking issues despite permitting non-profit cannabis clubs, but it also permits sales in pharmacies. That last component was the root of banking issues in Uruguay back in 2017. Major banks in Canada are the subject of a recent lawsuit due to alleged discrimination against cannabis companies. It will be interesting to see if Malta ever experiences the same hurdles given the fact that its legalization model is much more limited compared to Uruguay and Canada.

Helping Create The Blueprint

For many years I blogged about cannabis reform efforts in the United States, and many things have proven to be similar as I have transitioned to blogging about international reform efforts. Similar to different states in the U.S., within the international community there are clearly categories of nations when it comes to cannabis policy. Some are pro-cannabis, some are anti-cannabis, and some are seemingly indifferent. The pro-cannabis nations are doing what they can to get around international hurdles, and anti-cannabis nations are doing everything they can to cling to treaty provisions in an attempt to maintain the prohibition status quo wherever they can.

Due to international treaties, cannabis legalization cannot proceed unhindered in any nation. Even Uruguay and Canada had to consider international agreements and partnerships prior to legalizing, and even when they did proceed, they did so in defiance by some measures. In the Eastern Hemisphere things are proceeding differently. Leaders in nations like Malta and Germany are seeming to be getting more and more creative as they try to figure out a blueprint of sorts for what legalization may look like without violating agreements that extend beyond their borders. With that in mind, the banking discussions in Malta may not seem like a big deal, but if it can add to the previously mentioned metaphorical legalization blueprint in a meaningful way, it will indeed prove to be a very big deal.


International Cannabis Business Conference



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