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Day: January 4, 2021

A Landmark Year For Cannabis: 2020 In Review

As we approach the year’s end, it’s time to reflect and predict. What a long strange trip it’s been. I think I can say that given that I’m entering my 13th year of focusing exclusively on the cannabis industry. They say this industry ages you in dog years.

It all began to go warp speed in December of 2009, when we prevailed on the groundbreaking Cannamart v. Centennial case in ColoradoFor the first time, a court enjoined a local government from shutting down a marijuana dispensary

This time last year when planning for 2020 I’d gathered market data, analyzed trends, and closely scrutinized industry behavior across the board. Given the Hoban Law Group’s positioning, it’s somewhat “easy” to accumulate perspective because of the vast cannabis industry network our firm services. We have an inside joke at HLG: we like to say we sit at the center of the pizza pie. 

We predicted 2020 would be a flat year in terms of revenue and growth at our firm.  Overall, this was going to be a time of regrouping for the cannabis industry – not a rebuild per se, but a retool. Our attorneys and advisors had discussed the same with many of our clients as they prepared for the year ahead.  

The time had come for cannabis industry operators to ensure a buttoned-down business plan, a focus on the fundamentals, and the requirement of wise corporate governance. There was a growing need for increased emphasis on business integrity and ethics, operational efficiencies, regulatory compliance, and production quality for any industrial hemp farm or cannabusiness to see success in 2020 and beyond.  It was no secret that raising capital investment would be tough, and more than likely we’d see an uptick in consolidation.

While that may have been somewhat accurate, no one could have foreseen what this year threw at us —- a pandemic, tremendous social unrest across the U.S and around the world, global economic decline, and a political divide so increasingly deep that most people cannot even see across it to begin to acknowledge, let alone understand, the other side. 

For some context, 2019 was not a cakewalk for the cannabis industry, either. We’d seen a tremendous movement toward the growth of an interconnected global cannabis economy and the nascent stages of an international supply chain.  

Cannabis stocks gained early in 2019, encouraging a false sense of continued growth. By late spring, we began to see major fractures in many of the Canadian funders and operators. Of course, cash began to wane. Then, regulatory troubles for several of these companies revealed even greater inadequacies surrounding their structure and function, leading to illegal marijuana production facilities and FDA warning letters surrounding CBD products.  These developments bogged down the entire sector. Cannabis stocks took a major hit, causing substantial leadership changes for many cannabis companies – CannTrust, Canopy Growth, etc. However, as we’ve explored, this is natural in an emerging industry

The supply chain servicing many of these companies was ineffective or nonexistent. We also saw the Vape Crisis, as vape-related health issues seem to be never-ending. 2019 brought unprecedented registered acres of hemp, but also diminishing reliable distribution outlets, increased regulatory uncertainty, and a corresponding glut in the hemp and hemp-derivative market. Overall, the year was a mixed bag. 

In retrospect, 2020 rolled out surprisingly well. In January, Illinois affected the legalization of marijuana. The state remains a very promising marketplace and set the table for many others that moved forward with commercial cannabis regulations of their own. That same month I traveled to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum — thanks in large part to Saul Kaye’s foundation and his annual CannaTech events series, as well as events sponsored by the European-based Consumer Choice Center. We discussed and debated how cannabis, and particularly industrial hemp, were consistent with the goals set forth during the 2020 Forum: think sustainability, carbon-capture in farming, plant-based economies, and the medicinal applications of cannabis. This was perhaps the largest world stage ever where cannabis was so prominently displayed. 

At the time, COVID-19 was just a blip on the radar. I returned from Switzerland on January 27, 2020, and witnessed hundreds of people wearing masks at the Zurich airport. I’d never seen this before outside of Southeast Asia; COVID was becoming real. Within weeks, international travel was restricted and I had to “retrieve” my daughter who was studying in the Netherlands after her academic program was abruptly shut down. Economic uncertainty loomed as lockdowns and stay-at-home mandates became the global norm.  

The cannabis industry has faced uncertainty before and has, by-and-large, continued to thrive despite all the challenges of this year. The demand from patients and adult-use cannabis consumers has risen to unprecedented levels during the pandemic. Sales have increased dramatically, and Colorado saw its largest cannabis revenue numbers on record

Cannabis was deemed an essential business in numerous jurisdictions around the United States and the world. Consider this — from gateway to essential in the relative blink of an eye. Cannabis was even touted as a viable therapeutic for COVID. By the summer, governments around the world began to view cannabis legalization and regulation as a tool for economic recovery. Many even speculated that cannabis may be recession proof, leading public policy makers, investors, and the like to pay even closer attention to the industry.       

It turns out that this has been a landmark year for the cannabis industry, if not the most successful ever. What does 2021 hold? For now, we’ll just have to pack it up and see what tomorrow brings. The future looks bright as we continue to move toward that light at the end of the tunnel.

Originally published here.

Liberal plastics ban penalizes even the environmentally responsible

“When we talk about the issue of plastics, we are really talking about poorly managed litter.”

In June 2019, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Canada would be banning certain single-use plastics. From his perspective, we needed to act to get these plastics out of the environment. On its face, wanting to get plastics out of the environment is a fairly noble goal.

A year later, the government announced its intention to use the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to give these bans legal muster. The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change explained that the government would be declaring Plastic Manufactured Items (PMI) to be toxic and added to Schedule 1 of CEPA. Only then would the government have the legal authority to ban single-use plastics. 

Let’s be clear about one thing. Exactly no one thinks plastic should end up in the environment. Every piece of litter that isn’t collected has its energy and value forever lost when it cannot be recovered and reclaimed and made into something else. 

Indeed, it is because of innovation that we now have ways to better reuse plastics than ever before.

Through recovery and chemical depolymerization, we can turn every piece of discarded plastic back into the same molecules it started from. These transformations aren’t hypothetical. They already exist across Canada. In Alberta, a processing plant takes 14,000+ plastic grain feed bags and recycles them into resin pellets. Those pellets can in turn be transformed into everything from bumpers to barbie dolls. Banning certain plastic items sidesteps those initiatives and denies the scientific innovations that make them possible.

While we can debate the merits or efficacy of bans, what we really should be doing is debating if using CEPA is appropriate. 

CEPA is a criminal law statute. It derives its legal authority from the section 91 of the Constitution, which assigns the right to punish criminal behavior and actions to the federal government. Plastic is not a criminal object. Quite the opposite in fact, it is essential for keeping our food safe and our front-line healthcare workers protected. It isn’t the plastic that is the problem – it’s the person who dumps their trash into the ravine, or the guy who throws his empty water bottle on the side of the highway who is the problem.  The criminal law is about regulating behavior. CEPA could criminalize littering, but it should not criminalize the litter itself. 

Take, for example, how we deal with water management. The behaviour of dumping waste into waterways is regulated (as it should be), but the waste itself is not criminalized. It’s backwards to criminalize the item, when it is the disposal of that item which is actually the problem.

Criminalizing the item, as opposed to the behavior, ignores that plastic is really only a problem when it is disposed of improperly by consumers, or when municipal waste management programs break down. Beyond that, plastic is often essential. It is essential to several parts of the economy to reducing food waste, and is essential to reducing emissions from the transportation sector. When we talk about the issue of plastics, we are really talking about poorly managed litter.

The federal government’s logic seems to be that if we ban certain items, people will stop littering. That certainly isn’t logical at all. The person who dumps their garbage into the ravine is going to do so regardless of whether or not they get plastic cutlery with their take-out order. While the environmental fate of different disposable receptacles varies, the behavior won’t be changed until there is an incentive for that individual to take proactive steps to recover that material.

Rather than using CEPA, which is the wrong act, used the wrong way, the federal government should instead look at the Save Our Seas Act in the US as a framework for what would be appropriate in Canada. The act – which has bipartisan approval – focuses on the core question of plastic waste, which is plastic collection and repurposing. The life-cycle approach to dealing with plastic waste is a far superior way of managing waste. This approach actually focuses on reducing plastic waste in our environment, as opposed to simply banning items and falsely declaring plastic toxic. 

David Clement is a columnist for the Western Standard and the North American Affairs Manager with the Consumer Choice Center

Originally published here.

Pentingnya Perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual Untuk Perbaikan Ekonomi

Pandemi COVID-19 yang masih terjadi hingga saat ini merupakan salah satu pandemi terbesar yang pernah dialami umat manusia, setidaknya dalam 100 tahun terakhir. Pandemi ini, yang melanda seluruh negara-negara di dunia, telah menimbulkan korban jiwa hingga lebih dari 1 juta jiwa di seluruh dunia, dan menginfeksi setidaknya lebih dari 70 juta penduduk dunia.

Dampak dari pandemi ini tidak hanya terjadi pada kesehatan publik, namun juga pada kegiatan ekonomi. Resesi dan penurunan pertumbuhan ekonomi terjadi di banyak negara. Hal ini disebabkan banyak sektor ekonomi, khususnya yang bergerak di bidang jasa seperti rumah makan dan perhotelan, tidak bisa beroperasi akibat dari berbagai restriksi yang diberlakukan oleh berbagai pemerintah sebagai upaya untuk menanggulangi dampak dan penyebaran dari virus Corona.

Selain itu, banyak konsumen yang memutuskan untuk menyimpan uangnya dan tidak melakukan konsumsi seperti tahun-tahun sebelumnya sebagai upaya untuk mempersiapkan dampak yang tidak menentu dari pandemi ini. Hal ini menyebabkan banyak kegiatan usaha di seluruh dunia terpaksa harus mengalami kebangkrutan dan menutup usahanya.
Dampak dari banyaknya berbagai usaha yang gulung tikar ini tentu juga menyebabkan peningkatan angka pengangguran yang luar biasa. Berbagai pekerja menemukan dirinya kehilangan pekerjaan karena tempat mereka bekerja terpaksa harus tutup karena pandemi ini.Tidak bisa dipungkiri, menyelesaikan pandemi COVID-19 merupakan tugas terbesar yang saat ini harus bisa kita lakukan untuk menyelamatkan banyak jiwa dan memulihkan kembali roda perekonomian. Di akhir tahun 2020 ini, akhirnya kita menemukan secercah harapan untuk melakukan hal tersebut, yakni melalui vaksin yang efektif, sudah berhasil ditemukan oleh beberapa perusahaan farmasi besar dunia.

Adanya vaksin ini merupakan hal yang sangat penting agar kita bisa menyelesaikan pandemi yang telah menginfeksi puluhan juta orang di seluruh dunia ini. Tanpa adanya vaksin, maka segala upaya yang dilakukan oleh berbagai pemerintah untk menanggulangi dampak persebaran virus Corona tentu tidak dapat optimal, dan bukan tidak mungkin justru akan membawa ekonomi ke jurang resesi dan krisis yang lebih dalam karena berbagai kegiatan usaha tidak bisa beroperasi.

Setelah vaksin berhasil ditemukan, tugas besar lain yang harus mampu kita lakukan adalah mendistribusikan vaksin tersebut kepada miliaran penduduk dunia. Bila aspek kesehatan sudah bisa kita atasi melalui imunitas, maka langkah penting selanjutnya yang harus kita lakukan adalah memulihkan kembali roda perekonomian untuk membuka jutaan lapangan kerja dan meningkatkan kesejahteraan.

Memulihkan ekonomi yang diporak-porandakan oleh pandemi COVID-19 tentu bukan sesuatu yang mudah. Kita harus dapat memaksimalkan seluruh potensi dan sumber daya ekonomi yang kita miliki untuk membangun kembali ekonomi kita, dan agar orang-orang yang menjadi korban kehancuran ekonomi akibat dari pandemi ini dapat kembali bekerja dan melakukan kegiatan sehari- hari seperti sedia kala.

Salah satu pilar yang sangat penting untuk memaksimalkan seluruh potensi dan sumber daya ekonomi yang kita miliki adalah perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual. Perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual merupakan aspek yang sangat penting untuk inovasi yang akan meningkatkan pertumbuhan ekonomi, yang merupakan hal yang tidak bisa dipisahkan dari pemulihan ekonomi.

Pandemi COVID-19 yang saat ini terjadi memberi kita pelajaran menganai pentingnya inovasi, terutama di bidang teknologi informasi. Berkat adanya berbagai inovasi di bidang teknologi informasi, seperti video call melalui internet misalnya, jutaan orang di seluruh dunia masih bisa melakukan pekerjaan dan kegiatan belajar mereka di tempat tinggal kita masing-masing. Dengan demikian, mereka tidak harus datang ke kantor atau sekolah dan membahayakan diri mereka denan bertemu banyak orang di ruangan tertutup (USA Today, 7/9/2020).

Perkembangan yang didorong oleh inovasi di bidang teknologi ini, di masa pandemi, bukan hanya telah membantu pekerjaan kita, namun juga membantu kita meluapkan kerinduan kita kepada keluarga, teman-teman, dan orang-orang yang kita kasihi. Jutaan orang di seluruh dunia tidak bisa bertemu dengan orang tua, saudara, dan sahabat-sahabat mereka secara personal karena pandemi ini. Berkomunikasi secara virtual dengan orang-orang yang kita kasihi tentu bukan cara komunikasi yang ideal. Namun, sedikit banyak, hal tersebut dapat membantu meluapkan kerinduan kita kepada mereka.

Perkembangan teknologi yang didorong oleh invoasi juga bukan merupakan hal yang akan berhenti dan melambat ketika pandemi ini berakhir. Inovasi ini justru menjadi fondasi dari pertumbuhan ekonomi di masa depan. Di Amerika Serikat misalnya, hal ini sudah dibuktikan melalui naiknya berbagai saham perusahaan-perusahaan teknologi besar seperti Amazon, Facebook, dan Google (Financial Times, 30/10/2020). Untuk itu, perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual, untuk mendukung riset dan pembangunan yang akan mendorong inovasi adalah sesuatu yang sangat penting (Ponsip.com, 8/9/2020).

Ekonomi dunia saat ini bertumpu pada inovasi dan kreativitas di bidang pengembangan berbagai teknologi yang terbarukan. Hal ini tentunya membuat teknologi memainkan peran yang sangat penting untuk mendorong pemulihan ekonomi yang telah hancur sebagai dampak dari pandemi ini. Hal ini diakui oleh Menteri Riset dan Teknologi Republik Indonesia, Bambang Brodjonegoro (Merdeka.com, 10/11/2020).

Sebagai penutup, perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual merupakan salah satu pilar terpenting untuk mendorong inovasi yang akan meningkatkan pertumbuhan ekonomi. Pentingnya perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual ini kian penting untuk mendorong inovasi agar ekonomi kita kembali pulih setelah porak-poranda oleh pandemi COVID-19.

Originally published here.

Happy Festivus, for the rest of us

In the tradition of Festivus, Canada’s consumers have grievances to air, mainly about disappointing government officials

With a different kind of holiday this year, we are all making alternative plans for our annual celebrations. Zoom calls and socially distant visits will be the norm. That said, a pandemic is no match for the seasonal celebration of my choice, Festivus. Festivus was invented in the 1960s by the father of Dan O’Keefe, a writer for the hit 1990s comedy show Seinfeld, and became an O’Keefe family tradition. In a Seinfeld episode of December 1997, the show’s chief curmudgeon, Frank Costanza, father of George, introduced the holiday to the world. (Frank Costanza was played by Jerry Stiller, who died in May, age 92.)

Celebrated every December 23rd by those who do observe, this strange holiday usually involves an unadorned aluminum pole (to emphasize its origins in anti-commercialism), a family dinner, feats of strength and the ever-important “Airing of Grievances,” in which, after Festivus dinner, each member of the family explains how all the others have disappointed them over the past year.

A countrywide Festivus dinner is not in the cards this year for our Canadian family. But Canada’s consumers do have grievances to air, mainly about disappointing government officials. In the immortal words of Frank Costanza, “We got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it.”

Federally, quite a few members of Parliament were particularly disappointing this year. Top of the list is federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, for his silly and misguided plastic ban, and his strange decision to label plastic products as “Schedule 1” toxins under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. All sorts of plastic products have kept us safe throughout the pandemic and they certainly aren’t toxic when properly disposed of. Banning items like plastic cutlery and takeout containers while we’re relying on them for our curbside pickups seems like the ultimate failure to read the room.

We got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it

Frank Costanza

Next up, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault disappointed Canadian consumers when his office announced it would be implementing a Netflix tax and adding new regulations for the spirits-raising streaming service. Most of us have been camped at home for upwards of nine months, relying on the wonders of Wi-Fi to get us by. “Disappointing” isn’t nearly strong enough to describe how irritating this decision is for consumers.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau rounds out the list of Liberal MPs with whom consumers have serious grievances to air. Speaking of air, and airlines, it was a shame he took more than eight months to defend consumers against airline companies that refused to comply with the law and provide their passengers with refunds for cancelled flights.

Now, consumer disappointment isn’t a partisan affair. All parties are guilty, and in fact every single member of Parliament once again disappointed Canadian consumers when they voted unanimously to continue to support supply management in agriculture. It is little short of scandalous that our MPs — every one of them — continue to defend a system that artificially inflates prices for consumers, even driving some Canadians below the poverty line, all to provide a selective benefit for well-connected farmers. Conservative MPs are especially guilty: they’re supposedly the party of free trade and open markets.

Many of our provincial representatives were disappointing, as well. The premier of P.E.I. made the boneheaded decision to close liquor stores at the start of the pandemic, though he did have the good sense to reverse himself. Ontario Premier Doug Ford made some great consumer decisions, like legalizing alcohol delivery from restaurants. Unfortunately, his winning streak for doing right by consumers ended when, after first allowing cannabis retail deliveries, he then reversed that decision in favour of keeping a government delivery monopoly.

And, of course, we couldn’t conclude Festivus without airing our disappointment with government officials who failed to live by the rules they set for the rest of us. Our federal health minister urged Canadians not to travel but then flew home numerous times to visit family and even got photographed maskless at Pearson Airport. MPP Sam Oosterhoff made the silly mistake of joining an unmasked indoor group selfie, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau crossed provincial boundaries to visit family at Easter after warning Canadians to avoid family gatherings. “Rules for thee, but not for me” is always a bad look if you want Canadians to take those rules seriously.

With our grievances aired, Canadian consumers wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager with the Consumer Choice Center.

Originally published here.

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