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SEC announces charges in multi million dollar cannabis fraud scheme.
This week, the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Guy S. Griffithe and Robert W. Russell, along with their three companies (Renewable, SMRB, and Green Acres Pharms LLC), “for an alleged scheme that defrauded investors who thought they were purchasing interests in a Washington-licensed recreational cannabis company out of approximately $4.85 million.”
It looks like Griffithe spent $1.8 million on things like “several luxury cars for himself and a yacht for Russell” and also “deposited approximately $1.7 million into Russell’s personal bank accounts.” Griffithe kept this up by paying some investors “in a Ponzi-like fashion using funds from other investors.”
SEC Enforcement Division Associate Director Melissa R. Hodgman said in a statement, “As alleged in our complaint, Griffithe and Russell exploited popular interest in the cannabis industry to obtain millions of dollars from investors who thought they were buying into a profitable business,” adding, “Instead, Griffithe and Russell deceived investors and used the money to enrich themselves.”
You can read the full SEC statement here.
+ And, in case you missed it, Cannabis Wire recently published an in-depth story about cannabis fraud.
Constellation’s expanding presence at Canopy Growth.
The new chair of Canopy’s board will be Judy Schmeling, who has been on Canopy’s board since 2018 and is also on the board of Constellation Brands. Jim Sabia is also joining Canopy’s board, and Sabia is currently the EVP and CMO of Constellation Brands. As a refresher, Canopy’s new CEO is David Klein, who was CFO of Constellation, which invested $4 billion into Canopy.
Consumer Brands Association forms CBD board.
Kellogg. Coca-Cola Company. PepsiCo, Inc. These companies are not only members of the CBA, but they serve on its board of directors. And now, the Association (formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association) has created a board to help form its “advocacy approach” when it comes to the “burgeoning market” of CBD. The Association “is calling for increased funding for scientific research into CBD and additional resources for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s enforcement and regulation of CBD in consumer products.”
Board members include:
• Mick Cornett, former Oklahoma City mayor
• Edward Davis, former commissioner, Boston Police Department
• Tom Galvin, executive director, Digital Citizens Alliance
• Karen Tandy, former administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
• Michael Taylor, former deputy commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Is cannabis bad for your heart?
Roughly 2 million American who have been diagnosed with some kind of cardiovascular disease currently consume, or have used, some form of cannabis, including smoking or vaping. As such, researchers conducted a review of “cardiovascular considerations related to marijuana use, pharmacological interactions, and future steps to provide clearer guidance regarding its cardiovascular safety.”
Researchers have several concerns. Because cannabinoids might interfere with specific enzymes, they could also interact with certain drugs prescribed to treat heart conditions, like statins, beta blockers, or warfarin.
One concern is over increased cannabis use, and that, over the years, cannabis has become much more potent in THC.
“Higher potency may translate into greater effects on the conduction system, the vasculature, and the muscle of the heart,” lead author DeFilippis said about their work. “It also highlights the need for real-world data given the variety of marijuana products and formulations available for purchase.”
Meanwhile, there’s little guidance available to physicians when it comes to tweaking prescriptions to counterbalance any interactions.
“Although we need more data, the evidence we do have indicates that marijuana use has been associated with coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, and more,” DeFilippis said.
“Therefore, asking patients about marijuana use may help in risk assessment. In addition, we know that marijuana use affects the metabolism of many common cardiac drugs. In order to make sure patients are getting therapeutic doses without untoward side effects, it is important for cardiologists to talk to their patients about marijuana use.”
The research was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
California cannabis regulators push mandatory window certificate for legal shops.
In December, we included in our newsletter that California regulators rolled out QR codes for verifying legal shops. Well, now these QR code certificates will be required both in cannabis shop windows and alongside delivery drivers.
The backstory: The state continues to expand enforcement efforts to quash the thriving illegal cannabis market. Building on the state site that allows a consumer to look up any license, CApotcheck.com, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) has given retailers a unique QR code that they can display to distinguish their shop from unlicensed ones. Consumers can scan the code to get up-to-date information about the license status and address.
The BCC wrote in the notice of proposed emergency regulations, released Thursday, which you can read in full here, “The Bureau’s current regulations require that licensees conspicuously display their license on the licensed premises. Despite this requirement and the existence of a statewide license search system, the Bureau has found that the data regarding death and illness due to vaping reveals that consumers continue purchasing cannabis goods from illegal businesses, which may lead to severe health consequences.”
They continued, “Often, illegal retail commercial cannabis businesses visibly resemble, or have names that sound similar to, legal cannabis businesses. If consumers are provided information that a cannabis business is legal, via the use of a posted QR Code certificate for instant verification as they are preparing to enter a business, they will be less likely to enter an illegal business.”
Cherokee Nation will study legal cannabis and hemp.
The tribal nation, which is the largest in the US, and is one of the top employers in northeast Oklahoma, has formed an Executive Work Group on Hemp, Cannabis and Related Opportunities. That group will craft recommendations by May 31.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement this week, “I believe there are opportunities for Cherokee Nation, our businesses and our citizens to benefit from this emerging industry. But, we need to move forward carefully and responsibly and in absolute strict adherence to the law in order to ensure success and sustainability.”