The ‘Bis weekly news update – September 15 to 21, 2018

With cannabis legalization less than a month away we are finally getting closer to the time when pot articles don’t need to start with a reference to how close legalization is.

Until then, however, stay up-to-date with the latest cannabis news. This roundup has found some of the most interesting and noteworthy news of the week. Coke has made a deal to develop a cannabis drink, a US politician wants a clear weed at the border policy for Canadians and green companies are coming together to study how pot can help with insomnia.

The government wants studies on black market sales and online attitudes

Two tenders have been released by the government looking for studies into both the social media impact of cannabis legalization and black market cybercrime sales.

In a description of the work put out by the federal government they are looking for an agency to “estimate the number of transactions involving illicit cannabis trade in Canada, including the quantity/volume of cannabis sold on cryptomarkets to Canadian buyers and by Canadian vendors in 2017 and 2018.”

In another the fed are asking for researchers to use social media to understand attitudes towards legalization, driving after using cannabis, attitudes towards cannabis use and self-reported cannabis use behaviours.

The government is still accepting tender applications on both bids. They outline the exact nature of the studies they want conducted and in both cases ask for detailed statistical analysis of the issues.

Coke pens deal to make cannabis wellness beverage

Iconic soft-drink producer Coca-Cola Co. is reportedly engaged in talks with Aurora Cannabis Inc. to develop a drink unlike any other.

According to BNN Bloomberg, Coke is in “serious talks” with Aurora to produce a line of cannabis-infused beverages.

The sources said that the beverage company is interested in developing drinks that are infused with cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana plants. The deal is different than the previous cannabis-based beverages, as this will not focus on impairment rather than easing inflammation, pain and cramping.

Estimates vary, but the consumer CBD market is estimated to grow to US$2.1 billion by 2020, from $202 million in 2015, according to a recent report in the Hemp Business Journal.

“They’re pretty advanced down the path” of doing a deal, according to one BNN source.

“It’s going to be more of the ‘recovery drink’ category.”.

The sources declined to speak on-the-record with BNN Bloomberg as discussions between Aurora and Coca-Cola remain private.

US congressman wants answers on Homeland Security’s Cannabis border policy

One US congressman is seeking clarification for what will happen to Canadian members of the legal cannabis industry attempting to enter the US.

In a letter to US Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen Nielsen, congressman Luis Correa asks the DHS to develop “clear guidance concerning the entry… of foreign nationals with authorized work visas who are associated with the cannabis industry.”

Correa writes that his primary concern is that the DHS is “unnecessarily and disproportionally penalizing non-citizens who are engaged in lawful business activities.”

The letter comes after a report was released last week, in which a senior official overseeing US border operations told Politico that Canadians who smoke weed, work in the cannabis industry, or are investing in the sector, may risk a lifetime ban on travel to the US.

The report stated that the US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agency will continue to apply long-standing American federal laws and regulations that treat cannabis as a controlled substance, and will treat participants in the cannabis industry as drug traffickers, both of which are inadmissible into the country.

But given Canada’s close proximity and “close trading ties” with the US, “there is significant likelihood that some Canadian nationals travelling to the United States will be connected to the cannabis industry,” writes Correa. “Therefore, I believe that an immediate clarification of DHS’ admission policies is critical.

Correa “strongly urges” the DHS to clarify its policies and procedures at US ports of entry, “to help ensure transparency” of such processes.

Canadian cannabis company Cronos partners with Aleafia in insomnia study

Aleafia Health Inc. and Cronos Group Inc. have said they will be entering a joint medical cannabis study to improve the treatment of insomnia and daytime sleepiness.

The study will be led by physicians practicing within the Canabo Medical Clinic network, which is wholly owned by Aleafia.

According to a July 2017 report from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, entitled Drug Summary: Prescription Sedatives, 11.4% of adults aged 25 and older had used a prescription sedative in the past year. The study will aim to assist in the treatment of insomnia and the development of non-addictive, natural sleep aids.

“Aleafia is excited to participate in a study with Cronos Group, a company with a firm commitment to patient health. For far too long, the answer to a patient’s sleeping disorder or chronic pain has been a prescription and a bottle of pills,” said Aleafia Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Verbora. “There is mounting evidence of the risks of prescription sleeping aids including worsening mental health and increased risk of dementia. This study may in part point to medical cannabis as an alternative to harmful prescription drugs.”

“The negative health impacts of sleep disorders and their proper treatment must be more widely acknowledged and understood,” said Mike Gorenstein, CEO of Cronos Group. “Cronos Group is pleased to find a partner in Aleafia that shares our commitment to addressing this overlooked public health issue.”

Toronto transit driver barred from work while using prescribed CBD

A Toronto Transit Commission employee has told the CBC she has returned to using opioids because her employer told her she can’t use her prescribed cannabis and remain as a subway operator.

Ellaine Farrell, 59, has suffered from two herniated discs in her lower back and fibromyalgia, a condition that causes widespread pain. She said the TTC offered her other non-safety-sensitive positions if she wanted to stay on medicinal cannabis, but they would come with a big pay cut.

“I feel betrayed by my company, especially when there’s people making decisions on my life and they have never ever seen me face to face,” Farrell, a 26-year TTC employee, told CBC News.

“Even their doctor, who’s supposed to be doing all their decisions, has never seen me face to face and they’re going against my doctors? They’re going against a specialist? Really, honestly, it’s so wrong.

The TTC said an independent medical expert has advised the transit agency not to allow any employee in a safety-sensitive position, like Farrell, to use any form of cannabis because they could get intoxicated.

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