Viridis Chief Operations Officer and Founder Todd W. Welch sent an email on June 17 with a statement addressing the company’s values and recent information that has come to light regarding the CRA.
“These CRA allegations against Viridis are from last August and continue to be baseless, meritless and totally detached from science, facts and data,” said the statement. “We intend to defend our business against these false claims during the court process and show the vindictive and retaliatory nature of the CRA’s actions which are clearly designed to cause maximum disruption and damage.”
“Court-ordered proficiency test results that Viridis is in possession of, which the CRA had been withholding, will directly contradict these findings, and we’re confident the truth will prevail when all facts come to light,” the statement continued. “We hope these legal proceedings will pave the way for more transparency, accountability, and reforms at the CRA. Our hope is that the CRA can one day fulfill its true mission of promoting patient and product safety instead of unfairly targeting Michigan businesses trying to grow, compete and create jobs.”
The email also shared that nearly all of the company’s customers have returned, with an added 63 new customers. The company supports testing for approximately 62% of the state’s flower.
The CRA (formerly called the MRA, or Marijuana Regulatory Agency, as of April 2022) issued a recall for products tested by Viridis Laboratories and Viridis North in November 2021, with claims that Viridis products contained “inaccurate and/or reliable results,” for products analyzed within the range of August 10 and November 16, 2021. This resulted in the recall of an estimated $229 million in product value.
The MRA claimed that Viridis’ methods of testing were “unreliable” and “inaccurate,” which Viridis responded to by filing a Court of Claims lawsuit against the MRA on November 23.
By December 3, the court ruled that the CRA must release half of the accused products, which were tested by Viridis North, LLC. Viridis Attorney Kevin Blair praised the court decision, even if “the entire recall was completely without merit.” “This ill-advised recall has caused irreparable harm not only to Viridis but to growers, retailers and consumers throughout the state. The MRA needs to be held fully accountable for violating state law, ignoring the advice of respected national experts and causing mass disruption to the Michigan cannabis industry,” he said in a press release.
Months later in February 2022, more news came forward regarding the CRA’s conduct. Judge Thomas Cameron released a court opinion that “the issuance of the recall against the Bay City facility was, on the Court’s review of the record, arbitrary and without basis.”
Shortly after this, it was revealed that CRA had instructed its agents not to seize illegal cannabis found at CRA-licensed facilities. New evidence from CRA depositions shared troubling truths about the inner workings of the MRA when it comes to following its own policies.
In March, Senator Aric Nesbitt questioned the CRA and its management. “I think it was poorly communicated to your licensees and it didn’t seem like you had thought through the impact on the wider marketplace before acting on the recall, and I thought it was very poorly done and very clumsy in the implementation of the recall,” Nesbitt said at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Licensing and Regulatory Affairs/Insurance and Financial Services.
Most recently in May, the CRA filed formal complaints about the accuracy of Viridis’s THC test results. According to Viridis CEO Greg Michaud, described that allegations from the CRA “continue to be baseless, meritless and totally detached from science, facts and data.”
Furthermore, Michaud shared that the CRA’s Inter-Laboratory Proficiency Test, which was obtained via a court order, reveals some shocking finds about other lab testing facilities in Michigan. The test results are not yet public, but Welch’s email suggests that more news will be announced soon.
Adults who use cannabis daily do not perceive smoking as harmful, study finds
Questions abound about what impact legalization will have on adult and youth health.
A new study led by Dr. Renee Goodwin, Professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH), shows that increased cigarette use is one possibility. While cigarette use has been declining for decades in the U.S., a new study finds that adults who use cannabis daily do not perceive smoking a pack a day as being as harmful as those who do not use cannabis in the U.S. In the context of recent findings that perception of risk plays a key role in predicting substance use, and that perception of risk associated with cannabis use has declined steadily along with legalization, these findings were somewhat of a surprise.
The researchers used data from adults age 18 and older in the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a representative survey of U.S. individuals. Participants’ responses to a question asking how much people risk harming themselves physically and in other ways by smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day were compared between those who use cannabis daily and those who did not use cannabis in the past year. Sixty-two percent of adults who use cannabis daily perceived pack a day cigarette use to be of “great” risk to health, compared with 73% of those who did not use cannabis in the past year.
“Tobacco control has done a tremendous job in public education on the physical health risks associated with tobacco use, and cigarette smoking in particular, over the past several decades,” says Goodwin, also an adjunct professor at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. Her prior work shows that cigarette use, however, is much more common among those who use cannabis and findings suggesting that cannabis legalization may lead to increases in cannabis use and cannabis-cigarette co-use among adults.
Dr. Goodwin discussed her work, and in particular that of Canadian colleagues, at a recent public hearing for a law that would ban cannabis packaging that appeals to children in New York’s Suffolk County. Findings from recent studies in Canada, where cannabis is legal on a federal level, show increases in adult cannabis use but as of the most recent study in 2022, no significant increases in cannabis use among adolescents.
“The data suggests that plain packaging is one measure that can maximize the safe and effective rollout of cannabis legalization that ensures and protects the health, safety and wellbeing of all members of our community,” Goodwin said. “Prohibiting product packaging that mimics foods and candies that are traditionally marketed to children may reduce potential unintended harms to the most vulnerable members of our community via accidental ingestion/poisonings, which have exploded in number in recent years in the U.S., and child and adolescent intentional use of these products.”
Goodwin, R.D., et al. (2022) Everything old is new again: Creating and maintaining a population-level ‘shared reality’ of health risks associated with cigarette use toward both reducing the prevalence and eliminating disparities in cigarette use among all Americans. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntac177.
Chris Webber Launches New Strains With ‘Players Only’
NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber announced the launch of his cannabis brand Players Only with his business partner, Lavetta Willis—and he’s bringing several familiar faces along for the ride including Quavo, Raekwon, Royce da 5’9″, Matt Barnes, and Jason Williams.
The new all-star brand was first announced on August 11. Players Only will feature an array of strains, cannabis oil cartridges, pre-rolls, vapes, as well as sport recovery and performance products. Players Only will also roll out branded apparel and footwear.
Last March, TerrAscend secured exclusive retail rights for Players Only products in Michigan through the acquisition of Gage Growth Corp, securing the way for the brand to drop.
“Players Only is more than a cannabis brand—it’s a lifestyle brand,” Webber said. “We truly have a unique opportunity to change the narrative around cannabis, empower rising entrepreneurs and set a new standard in this growing industry. We’re thrilled to launch our versatile offerings and begin the process of creating meaningful economic change in communities across Michigan. Shout out to TerrAscend and Gage—our Michigan family. Much love to Cookies and Berner, let’s go!”
In October of last year, Webber unveiled a cannabis facility in Detroit complete with a cultivation facility, dispensary, and private consumption lounge. The 180,000 square foot Players Only facility was named the Webber Wellness Compound.
The first strains to roll out include C4, Time Out, and G.O.A.T.’s Milk, as well as Non-Laters and Whipped Cherries. Later on, the brand will roll out additional strains including Blueberry Hotcakes and Ray Jackson’s Black Sox within weeks. While C4 can give off a hashy, Afghani-like appeal, G.O.A.T.’s Milk leans more sativa with a balanced amount of THC and CBD, according to reviewers. Whipped Cherries, on the other hand, tastes exactly how you’d expect it to.
“We have been working with legacy cultivators and operators seeking to establish their place in the regulated market for quite some time,” said Lavetta Willis, co-founder and President of Players Only. “The opportunity to incorporate legacy strains and expertise into the Players Only platform and menu furthers our goal of uplifting black entrepreneurs who have been building brands and intellectual properties for decades.”
The brand also announced a partnership with Raekwon from Wu-Tang Clan to launch Compliments of the Chef and his partnership with Citizen Grown. Another collaboration involves Hassim Robinson and Winner’s Circle Genetics, to bring the PB&J strain as well as Quavo’s BIRKINZ to Michigan’s cannabis market. Detroit’s legacy brand “Lil Stupid” will also launch for the first time in the adult-use market while Detroit’s own Royce da 5’9″ will roll-out his “Heaven” brand as part of an NFT. Webber’s former Sacramento Kings teammate Jason Williams will also unveil the White Chocolate strain.
Webber recently appointed Matt Barnes, former NBA star and teammate, as Chief Collaborations Officer while launching “The Smoke” with his partner and co-host, Stephen Jackson. The offering’s name is a nod to Barnes’ and Jackson’s award-winning SHOWTIME series, “All The Smoke.”
The “All the Smoke” podcast features “the brash and unapologetic NBA champions, delivers authentic, unfiltered perspective on the most polarizing topics in and around the game of basketball, including culture, social justice, politics, music and more.”
Episodes of “All the Smoke” drop each Thursday.
The launch of the brand will kick off with a limited edition brand collaboration with the Players Only x Packwoods 2.5-gram Blunt, which will be available in select stores. Learn more at the Players Only website.
Cancer sufferer who put cannabis in her food to ease pain fined
Heather Kennedy, aged 60, who has stage four lung cancer, admitted possessing the drug with intent to supply it and being concerned in the supply of it to her husband and son between December 26, 2020 and March 16, 2021.
Mold Crown Court heard she hadn’t realised that supplying it to members of her family was illegal. A judge gave her a six-month community order.Prosecutor Alexandra Carrier said police conducted a search of Kennedy’s home in Cae Mawr in Llandudno on March 25 last year. The defendant was there with her granddaughter.
Ms Carrier said Kennedy told an officer: “I’ve got cannabis. I’m not going to lie.”Police found snap bags with “Bob Marley” logos in a bag down the side of a sofa. The search continued and the officers discovered cannabis worth a total of £370, along with £205 in cash and two mobile phones.Kennedy told police she had Stage 4 lung cancer and had taken cannabis oil, which became too expensive.
She took cannabis in her food instead, the court heard. She also supplied it to her husband and a son but did not realise she was committing a crime by doing so to members of her family.Sarah Yates, defending, said her client is ill and had been “vulnerable to an extent” but regrets her actions.
She has lost her good name and this is “possibly a lesson well-learned”, she said.Ms Yates added: “It’s safe to say I don’t think we will see her back before this court again.”The judge Her Honour Nicola Saffman noted that, when cannabis oil became prohibitively expensive, the defendant put cannabis in her food to ease the pain from her lung cancer.
But in being in possession of a Class B drug and in supplying members of her family, she had broken the law.She said Kennedy had not realised she had committed her offences and had done so out of “sheer naivety”. She added: “You are a lady of previous positive good character.”She imposed the community order, fined her a nominal sum of £10 and ordered the destruction of the drugs and forfeiture of the cash, which will go towards North Wales Police’s fight against drugs crime.
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