Cheddar's weekly series CannaBiz tracks the latest trends and news in the expanding marijuana market. Cheddar's Brad Smith and Hope King explore how marijuana advocates are taking on the legality of the drug at the federal level, and how companies are capitalizing on this market in Canada.
Five plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the DEA and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It challenges the listing of marijuana as a schedule I drug, which classifies the drug as having no medical use and it cannot be legally prescribed. Jose Belen, U.S. Army combat veteran and one of the plaintiffs in this case, and attorney Joseph Bondy explain why they were inspired to fight for this cause.
"Cannabis for me has allowed me to feel emotion again--to just simply function," says Belen who has suffered from PTSD. "It's not a cure, but it's allowed me to find my smile again. For me Cannabis is life-saving."
Marijuana legislation in Canada is going to take a little longer than expected. The nation's health minister says the law will go into effect closer to August. Alan Brochstein, Founder of New Cannabis Ventures and 420 Invest, explains the market opportunity he sees in this emerging market.
"I think its actually a positive because right now there's not a lot of inventory out there," said Brochstein. "If we want this to be a really good transition these companies need to be built up."
This week a major Canadian insurance company announced plans to add medical marijuana coverage. Sun Life Financial will cover this type of treatment in group plans starting in March.
"The world is their oyster right now," says Brochstein about the market opportunity for Cannabis in Canada. "I wish we'd (United States) would move toward Canada, but slow progress is better than no progress."
Adam Spiker is executive director of the Southern California Coalition, which is an organization dedicated to helping organizations, advocacy groups, and businesses coalition build and understand the cannabis industry.
Spiker sits down with Alyssa Julya Smith in Los Angeles to talk about how to implement responsible policies in Los Angeles, the state of California, and at the federal level. He explains that the city of Los Angeles is the biggest cannabis market in the world, but has been slow to roll out licenses across the city.
Spiker also discusses the need for more resources to go through all the applications, both for distributors and cultivators who are trying to legally expand their business. Spiker also emphasizes that he believes the state will do everything in their power to protect business from the threat of federal regulations and roadblocks.