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The Cannabis White House Insider
Who is the cannabis insider soon to be working within the white house?
Welcome to Four PM — a daily newsletter that provides cannabis industry news & insights from cannabis industry leaders.
Did you know that in 1976, an art student changed the Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed” after the passage of a state law decriminalizing cannabis?
In Today’s Issue 💬
→ The Cannabis White House Insider.
→ Canada Welcomes Cookies Cannabis.
→ Who’s Lobbying For Cannabis Legalization?
The Cannabis Insider Headed To The White House
President Joe Biden’s choice to head up federal drug policy has a strong history working with legal cannabis.
The cannabis industry may soon have a very influential ally working from within the White House.
Rahul Gupta, who is President Joe Biden’s nominee for the position as the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy worked as a consultant to Holistic Industries, a leading MSO for nine months in 2020.
Who is Dr. Rahul Gupta?
Dr. Gupta, the son of an Indian diplomat was born in India and grew up in Maryland and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
At age 21, he completed medical school at the University of Delhi, and he earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama-Birmingham and a global master’s of business administration degree from the London School of Business and Finance.
As the Chief Health Officer in West Virginia, he led the state’s opioid crisis response efforts and led a number of pioneering public health initiatives.
Dr. Gupta is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Leadership in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University and visiting faculty at TH Chan Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Gupta’s History With Cannabis
Rahul Gupta is no stranger to the cannabis industry.
During his time as West Virginia state health commissioner, he was responsible for overseeing the implementation of West Virginia’s medical cannabis program with great success.
Dr. Gupta has also gone on record publicly recognizing both the therapeutic and economic potential of cannabis reform in the United States.
Working With Holistic Industries
His work with Holistic largely centered on compliance, and seemingly with great success as Holistic secured 10 medical cannabis retail permits, as well as cultivation and processor permits in West Virginia.
According to the disclosure documents Gupta earned a total of $10,000 USD during his time working with Holistic Industries as a consultant.
“Dr. Gupta’s work for Holistic Industries involved consulting on regulatory compliance matters for prescribing medicinal cannabis in West Virginia where medical cannabis had already been legalized,” as per a White House spokesperson.
In this same disclosure document, Gupta made clear that he is not authorized to take any actions that would help his past clients for at least one year.
This would prevent him from making any recommendations on the subject of cannabis that would help Holistic until December 2021.
Gupta is yet to be confirmed by the Senate, and it remains unclear how this appointment would impact the cannabis industry.
There remains strong opposition to cannabis from republicans and it would be all too easy for them to highlight his conflict of interest should he make any recommendations that would serve to benefit his past clients.
In Biden’s bid to win the Whitehouse he made clear that he was interested in decriminalizing cannabis.
His choice for this position may just be the strongest signal we have seen to date that he intends to make good on this campaign promise.
Can Cookies Succeed In Canada?
Cookies are officially coming to Canada via an exclusive partnership with Gage Cannabis Co.
Cookies — arguably the most iconic cannabis brand in the world has announced its expansion plans into the Great North.
In addition to bringing their world-famous cannabis cultivars to the Canadian cannabis market, Canada will also be seeing the very first Cookies branded store in Toronto later this year.
The Business Model?
Gage will be working with Canadian producer NOYA Cannabis to launch Cookies products exclusively in Ontario, Canada, before expanding.
Under the deal, Gage will own 80% of this new Canadian company, with Cookies retaining the remainder and NOYA cannabis taking on the responsibility of producing Cookies products.
“The growth of the Canadian market creates more diverse and demanding consumers, and we’re excited to bring one of the best-known cannabis brands in the world to customers across Canada” Gage CEO Fabian Monaco
Founded in Hamilton, Ontario in 2014, Noya Cannabis received its cultivation license in 2017, and its sales license in 2018.
Noya Cannabis has positioned itself as a “premium white-label producer” where they cultivate cannabis and sell it under someone else’s brand name.
The Million Dollar Question? 💸
It was emphasized that Canadian cannabis consumers will soon be gaining access to the cannabis cultivars which have helped Cookies gain such an incredible reputation.
This raises a very interesting question…
How exactly have Cookies managed to complete this impossible task given that it remains illegal to bring cannabis across the Canadian border?
The answer likely lies in a “loophole” that allows Canadian license holders to declare cannabis genetics once they receive their license with full amnesty ie. Health Canada doesn’t inquire where these genetics came from.
Assuming Cookies have succeeded in getting their world-famous genetics across the Canadian border, this alone offers a significant competitive advantage in the Canadian cannabis market.
Additionally, Cookies already has a very large following in Canada — this accompanied by their exclusive genetics should be more than enough to enable them to succeed in Canada.
The Companies Lobbying For Cannabis Legalization
Which companies are actively lobbying the U.S government to legalize cannabis?
In 2012, there were a total of 3 groups lobbying for cannabis reform in the United States.
By 2020, this number has skyrocketed to some 169 groups — a clear sign of times are changing in America with an increased appetite for the legalization of cannabis.
This number shows no signs of slowing down with 169 groups currently lobbying for cannabis legalization in 2021. 👇👇
Who’s On This List?
One of the latest additions to this list is the world’s second most valuable company — Amazon who is valued at a staggering $1.81 trillion USD.
Amazon began lobbying for cannabis reform in the second quarter of 2021 — following their announcement earlier this year that they would be supporting the legalization of cannabis.
There’s no shortage of billion-dollar companies on this growing list of companies lobbying for cannabis reform with banking giants Morgan Stanley paying out $100,000 USD for cannabis baking reform in Q1 and Q2 of 2021.
Additionally, Altria — the tobacco giant that owns Philip Morris, who also owns a majority stake in Canadian cannabis producers Cronos Group is lobbying for cannabis reform in the U.S.
The Lone Wolf...
Last, but certainly not least is the 15th-richest person in the world, Charles Koch.
Charles Koch describes himself as a classical “liberal” and has formerly identified as a libertarian who has put his money where his mouth is in the form of committing $25 million USD of his $25 billion net worth to influence criminal justice reform and cannabis legalization in the U.S
“It should be the individual’s choice”
“[Prohibition] is counterproductive. It ruins people’s lives, creates conflict in society and is anti-progress. The whole thing never made sense to me.” Koch told Forbes.
Why This Is Important
In theory, having a majority of the population in favor of making changes would be enough to bring these changes into being, however, in reality, lobbying plays an essential role in this process.
A perfect example is Susan Platt who lobbies on behalf of Altria.
Having worked as President Biden's chief of staff from (1995-1997) during his time in the Senate, it stands to reason that her relationship with Mr.Biden provides her with the means to influence his perspective on these all-important policies significantly more than the average person.
With global cannabis sales estimated to reach $55-billion USD in 2026, there are now very clear financial incentives for the U.S government to update its outdated policies when it comes to cannabis such that U.S cannabis companies can capitalize on this opportunity.
As a result, I expect to see the number of companies lobbying for these changes continuously increasing until the U.S legalizes cannabis.
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