Cannabis and Alcohol Industries Cozy Up Through Cash

As the saying goes, money talks—and the large amount of money being invested by alcohol and cannabis companies in joint ventures speaks volumes about the direction the cannabis industry is taking.

This trend was underscored by the recent announcement that liquor giant Constellation Brands was investing $4 billion in Canada’s Canopy Growth Corp. This massive cash infusion follows a $190 million investment by Constellation Brands in Canopy Growth Corp. in 2017.

Such a major investment by Constellation Brands is a solid vote of confidence in the cannabis industry, and no doubt is driven by the cannabis market’s expanding legalization and explosive growth worldwide.

We should expect to see the alcohol and cannabis industries become increasingly more integrated to create a large recreational cannabis and alcohol conglomerate.

Neutralizing the Cannabis Threat

As the legal cannabis market continues to expand, consumption of cannabis is taking a large bite out of alcoholic beverages sales. Studies show that alcohol consumption has declined by an average 15% in states in which cannabis has become legal.

As Money reported, recent studies show that U.S. consumers now spend as much on legal marijuana as they do on alcohol. In Aspen Colorado, cannabis sales surpassed those of alcohol in 2017, with licensed cannabis vendors taking in $11.3 million, topping the $10.5 million rung up by liquor sales.

To counter the threat to their revenues, major alcoholic beverage distributors like Constellation Brands are investing in cannabis ventures and developing cannabis beverages. At the same time, cannabis companies are investing in alcohol companies as a ready-made path to acquire retail outlets.

Beer Brands Field Cannabis Beverages

One way in which alcohol companies are combatting the cannabis threat, while at the same time capitalizing on the cannabis opportunity, is to produce non-alcoholic cannabis beverages. Beer maker Heineken introduced a non-alcoholic cannabis beverage called Hi-Fi Hops in California under its Lagunitas brand in July.

Molson Coors Canada, meanwhile, announced a joint venture with The Hydropothecary Corp., a leading Canadian producer of medical cannabis, to develop a line of non-alcoholic cannabis beverages.

Molson Coors is among the beer makers that have cited cannabis consumption as a risk factor to their business in 10-K filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Blue Moon Brewing founder Keith Villa also has formed a new company called Ceria to produce THC-infused non-alcoholic craft beers. Villa has been working with cannabinoid research firm Ebbu to develop cannabis-infused beverages.

Province Brands in Toronto claims to have developed the first cannabis beer made exclusively using the marijuana plant, a beverage brewed without barley and using the stalks, roots, and stems of marijuana plants. Province also announced it was developing a new beer brewed from barley and infused with premium cannabis oil.

Liquor Stores Become Cannabis Outlets

With recreational cannabis becoming legal in Canada beginning October 17, Canadian cannabis producers are forging deals with alcohol distributors to acquire retail outlets. Aurora Cannabis in Alberta recently increased its previous $103.5 million investment in Alcanna, Canada’s largest liquor retailer, by another $34.5 million, upping its share of Alcanna from 19.9% to 25%, with an option to go to 40%. The agreement calls for Alcanna to open retail cannabis stores under the Aurora brand in provinces in which private retail is permitted.

Alcanna will build, own, and operate the new cannabis stores, which will carry a suite of brands from Licensed Producers, including Aurora’s MedReleaf and CanniMed products. According to Alcanna CEO James Burns, Alcanna will convert a number of its existing 230 liquor stores into cannabis retail outlets, as well as build new outlets, as it gains permission to operate cannabis outlets within Canadian provinces.

In a similar deal, Canadian cannabis producer Aphria signed an agreement with Great North Distributors, a Canadian subsidiary of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, to serve as the exclusive distributor for Aphria’s adult-use cannabis products throughout Canada. Aphria says the deal will give it 100% coverage of the cannabis retail market across Canada from the first day of legal adult-use marijuana sales.

Big Finance Enters Cannabis Fray

While Constellation Brands’ $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth is a huge event, of equal significance is the involvement of Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the deal, Marijuana Business Daily reports.

As the report notes, the transaction appears to be the first mega cannabis investment to involve major U.S. financial institutions and is a move that represents a “transformational moment” for the cannabis industry.

“Wall Street can no longer ignore the pace, the amount of money being raised and the growth underway in this industry,” said Scott Greiper, vice president at Viridian Capital Advisors in New York.

A dark cloud hovering over the cannabis industry is the illegality of cannabis in the U.S. on the federal level, which is preventing financiers from investing in U.S. cannabis ventures. But there are signs of change, including bills introduced to legalize cannabis nationally.

Constellation Brands CEO Rob Sands told The Wall Street Journal that legalization of marijuana at a national level in the United States was “highly likely, given what’s happened at the state level.”

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 


Cannabis Miracle Drug Breaks Through Legal Barriers

In what is being hailed as a landmark decision and historic first, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first drug with an active ingredient derived naturally from the cannabis plant. The FDA approved the drug, called Epidiolex, because it was proven to be effective in treating patients aged two and older who suffer from some rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

Developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex is derived from cannabidiol (CBD), a component of marijuana that does not cause intoxication. The ruling is historic because it removes a longstanding stigma associated with marijuana and opens the door for other cannabis drugs to gain approval.

Cannabis Gaining Respect

Besides spurring further research, the approval of Epidiolex should engender a more relaxed and open-minded attitude towards cannabis drugs. We recently discussed the shifting attitudes towards cannabis by politicians and the general public as seen in the warm welcome being received by new cannabis manufacturing plants being built.

“This approval is historic in that it allows us, as a pharmaceutical company, to talk about this product in the way that pharmaceutical companies normally talk about their drugs,” said GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover.

Despite a wealth of evidence that cannabis has significant medical benefits, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug that has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Thus, Epidiolex must be approved not only by the FDA, but by the DEA as well before it can be legally dispensed.

GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover sees no problem in the DEA reclassifying cannabis, pointing out that because the FDA’s approval is a determination of an accepted medical use, the DEA must recognize this, and Epidiolex will not remain classified as a Schedule 1 drug.

Hurdles Remain

The recognition that untapped curative powers reside in the cannabis plant is a big step forward in the mainstreaming of cannabis. However, there are still a considerable number of legal hurdles and institutionalized anti-cannabis sentiment that cannabis researchers must deal with.

As researcher Jacci Bainbridge reveals, she and other cannabis researchers are frustrated by the requirements imposed on them, including extra paperwork, committees, planning, and inspections—hurdles, she says, that researchers studying heroin don’t even have to face.

Even as the pendulum swings towards the acceptance of cannabis, the debate about the risks and benefits of cannabis is still being waged. There also are politicians and pundits who continue to demonize cannabis. Although Canada’s Senate voted to legalize cannabis, the bill was passed “over the objections of Conservative senators who remained resolutely opposed,” the Montreal Gazette reported.

Opponents will have an increasingly uphill battle as the medical benefits of cannabis continue to mount. As The Week reported, “The evidence suggests cannabis is a relatively safe drug that provides a host of medical benefits.”

Drug Source Should Not Be an Impediment

As GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover observed, the focus should be on the effectiveness of a drug rather than its origins, pointing out that there are very few medicines prescribed because of their origin as opposed to what they can do for a patient.

Although the FDA’a approval of Epidiolex is a historic milestone, said Gover, when it comes to physicians prescribing the drug, it’s about the efficacy and safety profile. Besides the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex, physicians will recognize the importance of positive studies that were published in The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, he noted.

What’s Next?

While cannabis has been found to provide relief for a good number of ailments, researchers have only scratched the surface in uncovering its potential uses. “It’s actually quite amazing how little we really know about something that has been used for thousands of years,” said Sachin Patel, a cannabis researcher at Vanderbilt University.

The FDA’s approval of Epidiolex has observers speculating as to what will be the next cannabis drug to win approval. GW Pharma says it is developing a number of potential new cannabis-derived drugs for epilepsy, glioblastoma, and schizophrenia.

Interestingly, Epidiolex is not the world’s first plant-derived cannabinoid prescription drug. That honor goes to another GW Pharma drug called Sativex, which has been approved for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis in numerous countries outside the United States.

According to outsiderclub.com, a former GW Pharma medical director has left the company and is now chief medical officer at a new cannabis drug company that is developing a drug that kills cancer cells.

As the cannabis barriers continue to fall, it seems as if it will only be a matter of time the full spectrum of medical benefits are able to be discovered. As the Outsider Club reported:

“Marijuana is the real deal. It’s here to stay. Legalization timelines are being compressed and expedited. And it’s created hundreds of billions in new wealth.”

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 

 


A Big Shift in Attitude Is Positive for Cannabis Industry

The winds of change are blowing across the country as politicians and the public turn from hostility to a more accepting and welcoming attitude towards cannabis. The removal of political roadblocks is good news for cannabis manufacturers, as the market seems to have reached a tipping point with more and more states legalizing cannabis and the worldwide market expanding.

The expansion of cannabis manufacturing is continuing at a rapid pace throughout the United States. We’ve reported on new factories cropping up in Florida, Nevada, and California, and now another new plant is set to open in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the second cannabis operation to open in that state.

Getting on the Cannabis Bandwagon

As the number of cannabis manufacturing plants increases, we are seeing a steady stream of stories about changes to state laws, new permits being issued to manufacturers, and comments from state officials and local populations about the positive impact the cannabis industry is having on their region.

This turnaround is significant because even medical cannabis has taken a hit from politicians who have conflated medical and recreational marijuana while demonizing cannabis to the public. The tone is changing as we hear positive statements from politicians like Cedar Rapids city manager Jeff Pomeranz, who had only praise for the new cannabis plant in his district.

“It’s twenty-one new jobs, manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, it will be good for the people of Iowa, and it makes sense for Iowa’s second-largest city to have a plant,” said Pomerantz.

The Cedar Rapids plant is being built by Iowa Relieve, a subsidiary of Acreage Holdings, one of the largest medical cannabis manufacturers, with cultivation, processing, and dispensary operations in 12 states. Like MedMen and other major cannabis manufacturers, Acreage Farms is expanding rapidly and has plans to set up operations in New York, Florida, and Maryland this year. The company also has plans to become a publicly traded company in Canada.

Citing the growing recognition of the benefits of medical cannabis, Acreage Farms observed that, “As cannabis becomes legal across the country, we’re witnessing a pivotal moment in medical research and treatment — the kind of shift that changes lives for millions.”

No Federal Crackdown  in Massachusetts

Another positive sign for the cannabis industry is U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling issuing a statement that his office essentially will not interfere with the public consumption of recreational cannibis, which became legal in Massachusetts as of July 1. Lelling said his office would limit its enforcement activity to out-of-state sales, sales to minors, and organized crime.

As Jason Williams reported, this is big news and signals a huge win for the cannabis industry. “Even staunch opponents like Lelling are bending to the awesome might of this growing juggernaut,” said Wiliams.

Hope is seen on the federal level as well. As The New York Times reported, President Trump recently said he would likely support a bill introduced by Senators Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren to leave it up to individual states to legalize marijuana. This view is in “stark contrast” to the tough stance Trump and his administration have taken towards cannabis previously, said the report.

This new bill comes on the heels of a bill introduced by Senator Charles Schumer in April that would decriminalize cannabis on a federal level.

The cannabis industry has been operating under a cloud because of a conflict between federal and state laws. As Inc. reported, if these statutes pass, there could finally be a resolution to the “odd reality” in which selling a joint could land you in jail under federal law and give you a paycheck under state law.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing management solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and business solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 


Cannabis Market Goes Ballistic

We knew the cannabis market was hot, but the latest studies show the cannabis industry skyrocketing beyond analysts’ previous expectations. Surprised that legalization and demand are expanding the cannabis market at such an accelerated pace, analysts are scrambling to revise their projections upward.

“While it seems every year means a new monstrous projection about the size of the cannabis market, this year’s projection is especially large,” cannibisnow.com reports.

The latest “State of Legal Marijuana Markets” report by Arcview Group and BDS Analytics, which cannibisnow.com considers the “gold standard of marijuana industry data research,” shows the global legal cannabis industry tripling over the next five years, reaching $32 billion by 2022.

Cowen & Co. sees even bigger growth, raising its estimate of the legal cannabis market by a whopping $25 billion and projecting the cannabis industry will hit $75 billion in sales by 2030. Cowen says that its previous forecast of a total cannabis market of $50 billion by 2026 is no longer valid because “new forecasts suggest that the market is already that size.”

Grand View Research’s recent study sees the global medical marijuana market reaching a value of $55.8 billion by 2025. Over the past few years, the number of companies operating in the cannabis market has increased exponentially, the study says, and the market is expected to expand significantly because of legalization in several countries and the high demand for medical and recreational cannabis.

Legalization Drives Expansion

Even these bullish forecasts pale in comparison with that of European investment bank Bryan, Garnier & Co., which sees the legal global cannabis market poised for growth of more than 1,000% over the next decade, reaching $140 billion by 2027.

Legalization seems to be creating its own momentum, the report says, citing the legalization of cannabis worldwide as the driver behind a “rapidly expanding industry.”

Similarly, Market News Updates reports that the international cannabis industry “continues to blaze red hot” based on the findings of the Brightfield Group, which sees the market growing at a compound annual growth rate of 60% each year and reaching more than $30 billion by 2021. As with other market analysts, the Brightfield Group sees deregulation and increased consumer interest as the driving factors.

Surprising Global Growth

Arcview VP David Abernathy said the most surprising thing contributing to the cannabis market’s accelerated growth this year was the rise of international markets. Arcview analyst Tom Adams agreed, arguing that Germany’s move to make cannabis flower available for medical use in pharmacies was the big news of 2017 from a worldwide perspective. “The tables have turned in favor of legalization across the world,” said Adams.

Grand View Research sees Europe eclipsing North America as the largest market for legal cannabis by the end of its forecast period, with a 55.6% share in 2025. Arcview voiced a similar view, noting that Europe, which has 739 million people and more than $1.5 trillion in healthcare spending, has the potential to be the largest medical cannabis market in the world. South America and Australia also are seen as large burgeoning markets.

As money.cnn.com reports, the game is about to get a lot bigger as more and more North American territories join the legal cannabis market. In California alone, the opening of recreational dispensaries in January boosted the pool of legal marijuana users from 17 million to 47 million.

Analysts see the North American cannabis market accelerating further in 2018 as legal markets begin taking off in Canada, Massachusetts, Florida, and Nevada, with Maine, Vermont, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and very likely New Jersey, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Arizona following suit.

Pot Tops Soda Pop

In sizing up the surging cannabis market, Bloomberg observes that sales of legal marijuana are projected to eclipse those of soda pop in 2030 based on Cowen & Co.’s projection that the U.S. legal cannabis industry will reach $75 billion in sales by 2030.

Comparing cannabis with other commodity markets, a case can be made for the cannabis market being larger than that of corn, cotton, wheat, and coffee based on UN data that valued the illegal cannabis market at more than $140 billion in 2003. The global market for coffee, which is one of the world’s most valuable commodities, is valued at about $100 billion per year.

Follow the Money

Another sign of the cannabis market’s surging value are the steeply climbing valuations of publicly traded cannabis companies like Canopy Growth Corporation, whose stock price has risen from $1 to $24, an increase of 2,081%, over the last two years. As Wealth Daily notes, marijuana is no longer an underground drug pedaled by criminals, rather “a viable industry that’s making investors an absolute fortune.”

As cannabis legalization becomes more widespread and cannabis production increases, the price of cannabis will continue to drop, which will continue to put pressure on manufacturers’ margins. Since 2015, the wholesale price of marijuana has fallen from around $2,100 per pound to $1,600 per pound.

For cannabis manufacturers, competition will intensify as investment dollars pour in and more producers enter the market, causing margins to shrink even further. Besides successful branding, manufacturers will look to gain competitive advantages by employing advanced cultivation technologies and cannabis management systems that streamline operations, control costs, and maximize efficiency.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 


MedMen Takes Cannabis Manufacturing to the Next Level

We have been following the industrialization of cannabis manufacturing as the cannabis industry expands rapidly into a booming multi-billion-dollar business. An indicator of where things are heading is the large-scale expansion of MedMen, which is multiplying its production capability by creating three ultra-modern cannabis manufacturing operations in Nevada, California, and New York.

MedMen launched the first of its new large-scale cannabis factories in April in Sparks, Nevada.  At the opening ceremony, MedMen CEO Adam Bierman described the plant as the most advanced cannabis facility in the world.

In May, MedMen began construction of a factory in Desert Springs, California, which is scheduled to open in 2019. A third factory will be built in Utica New York starting sometime this year.

The Desert Hot Springs and Utica facilities will duplicate the $15 million Nevada plant, which features a 26,000-square-foot greenhouse with a fully controlled environment and a 19,000-square-foot manufacturing wing. Each factory will be capable of producing 10,000 pounds of high-quality cannabis annually.

Raising the Bar with Agriscience

MedMen’s Nevada plant produces premium-grade cannabis products using the latest agronomic technology and sustainable techniques. The facility features state-of-the-art greenhouses manufactured in Holland, within which the company employs advanced growth methods while adhering to standards of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

The cannabis plants are raised in a closed-loop, completely controlled environment in which computers monitor the temperature, humidity, and light to which the plants are exposed. All water used in the growing and processing of cannabis plants is recycled, and no pesticides are used.

Contamination is kept to a minimum by requiring workers to don lab coats, scrubs, shoe slip-ons, and hair nets, and to immerse their hands in special scouring machines before entering the work environment.

Quality Control & Cloning

An advanced cultivation technique employed in the MedMen plant is a tissue culture lab that multiplies the cannabis plants through micro-propagation. Exceptional strains of cannabis plants are divided into multiple pieces to replicate them exactly and ensure consistency across all products.

After a plant is divided, its pieces are regrown in a growth chamber for 20-40 days before being transferred to an acclimatization/vegetation room. The plants are nurtured in a flowering room with a 25,000-plant capacity that makes the facility one of the largest cannabis manufacturing facilities in operation. Lighting is adjusted to suit different phases of the growing process.

Modernized Manufacturing

State-of-the-art machinery pervades the entire MedMen operation. The trim room features a floor-to-ceiling safe that stores up to 1,000 pounds of flower and huge grinding and rolling machines that crush the flower and pump out thousands of pre-rolls.

The extraction room houses a double-barreled extractor nicknamed “Mustang Sally” that compresses CO2 in the cannabis and produces crude terpenes.

The refining room has most of its equipment enclosed in glass so that staff can view all stages of the process of refining terpenes, CBDs, and other extracts.

The facility also includes an in-house laboratory to ensure consistency and plant optimization. Test samples are taken throughout the manufacturing process to determine whether all cannabinoids are being extracted from the plant material, whether the potency is in the target range, and whether all impurities have been removed.

The facility has two kitchens that produce chocolates and baked goods. Over time, MedMen plans to produce tinctures, lotions, edibles, and drinks under its own unique brand, similar to Costco’s Kirkland line.

Setting the Standard

MedMen says it is “writing the book on the modern cannabis industry, from how facilities are designed and constructed to setting the bar on quality and excellence.”

Besides creating world-class manufacturing facilities, the company is raising the bar on dispensaries as well. In April, MedMen opened a new flagship retail outlet on Fifth Avenue in New York City that mimics the look and feel of Apple stores. The elegantly designed shop is staffed by well-trained sales assistants and equipped with iPads for customers to browse and research products.

MedMed currently operates 12 cannabis outlets in California, Nevada, and New York, and plans to expand the number of dispensaries in Nevada from one to three. The company’s Sun Valley facility is used primarily as a research and development site to test different cultivation techniques and technology, such as LED lights.

As The Cannabis Trend Report 2018 notes, driven by a revolution in cannabis research and farming techniques, the marijuana industry in five years will look very different than it does today. MedMen is among the companies leading the way in developing the manufacturing techniques that will make the next generation of cannabis production a reality.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 

 


Cannabis Packaging Gets Sophisticated

As cannabis products and user tastes become more sophisticated,  cannabis package design is following suit. With exotic names and novel products now an integral part of cannabis manufacturers’ retail and marketing strategies, creative packaging has become a way for producers to distinguish their brands.

The packages seen in dispensaries today are a far cry from the plastic sandwich bags that were the common way of distributing marijuana in the days before cannabis became legalized. Legalization also has brought new laws that define what is required and what is disallowed in cannabis packaging.

Childproof Protection

Twenty-four states have introduced laws governing the packaging of cannabis products. While their guidelines may differ, a common factor across all the states’ laws is the requirement that cannabis packaging be tamper-proof and child-resistant. The laws also aim to prevent children from gaining access to cannabis products because of improper labeling and packaging.

The laws prohibit names and imagery on the packaging of cannabis products that would mislead children into thinking the products were intended for children. In Oregon, for example, the state’s Liquor and Control Commission (OLCC) ruled that “kid-friendly” names like “Girl Scout Cookies,” “Candyland,” “Cinderella 99,” and “Charlotte’s Web” were prohibited.

Double Standard

However, as Allie Beckett on marijuana.com points out, these naming prohibitions do not apply to alcohol, a more dangerous substance for which there are numerous childlike brand names on the market, such as “Hello Kitty.” The underlying aim of the cannabis naming laws, she suggests, could be to restrict cannabis producers from using the international trademarks of giant corporations like Disney.

Another requirement among seven states that have legalized cannabis (Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Oregon) is that cannabis packaging must be opaque, with the product unable to be seen until the container is opened. Here too, cannabis is being restricted in ways alcohol is not. Being able to see a cannabis bud’s color and texture is part of its allure, just as a liquor’s color is part of its attraction for consumers.

Creative New Designs

Despite the restrictions, innovative packaging designs are emerging as more top-tier professional package designers get involved. Award-winning designer Edward Kilduff has fielded the Pollen Gear line of cannabis containers that includes glass jars, plastic rectangles, and zipper pouches.

Kilduff said he came up with the idea for his line of marijuana packaging after he learned that many people were using his EVAK coffee container to store their marijuana. What people were looking for were containers that were airtight and childproof. He said he researched the cannabis package design space and found that “there were not any design guys who were creating solutions.”

Elegant and Artistic Designs

Another firm that has developed a distinctive styling for its cannabis brands is Canndescent, which has introduced packaging to match what it calls its “ultra-premium” product line. A guiding principle in the design was to create a clean look that would be less intimidating to new cannabis buyers and attractive enough to entice experienced connoisseurs.

Also taking an artistic approach to cannabis packaging is the 1964 Supply Co., which recruits world-renowned artists to visualize the company’s line of cannabis products that are crafted to provide “a selection of strains to suit every mood.”  The artists supply packaging imagery for products with colorful names like Train Wreck, Super Silver Haze, Blue Dream, and Strawberry Diesel.

Tuna-Style Cans Seal in Freshness

Another cannabis packaging trend that is gaining popularity is the tuna-style can. This type of packaging hermetically seals the cannabis product in nitrogen after removing the oxygen. Oxygen and light are enemies to preserving the freshness of cannabis, and oxidation will degrade the plant material and cause mold, yeast, and other potentially harmful bacteria to form.

Although the tuna-style method has been used in the food industry for many years, only recently have companies like West Coast Cure and N2 Packaging Systems begun to apply it to cannabis packaging. As N2 Packaging Systems CEO Scott Martin points out, preserving the freshness of cannabis in this manner is probably more of an asset to larger-scale producers that want to keep their product consistent as supply ramps up. That way, he noted, the consumer always experiences the product as fresh as the day it was packaged.

Environmentally Friendly Packaging

With marijuana being so closely associated with the social consciousness of the ‘60s, it is no surprise to see the green movement informing the packaging of cannabis. Reusable and biodegradable packaging is becoming more popular not only because of its environmental friendliness, but to save money as well.

Among the packaging companies providing eco-friendly cannabis packaging, Sun Grown Packaging boasts of being the first to file a patent for a recyclable, compostable, child-resistant cannabis package. A cannabis grower that exemplifies the concept of responsible farming is Lowell Herb Co., which has fully embraced the philosophy of organically grown cannabis and all-natural packaging materials.

As we can see, cannabis product packaging has taken a big leap beyond the rudimentary packaging of the counterculture days. As cannabis consumption and manufacturing continue to expand exponentially, we can expect to see a similar rise in the innovation and artistry that is transforming the packaging of cannabis products.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing management solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and business solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 


Innovation Pushes Cannabis Manufacturing to New Heights

Innovation within the cannabis industry is reaching new heights as more and more biotech and pharmaceutical companies enter the fray and the amount of cannabis research and development being conducted accelerates.

Cannabis R&D efforts are yielding creative new products and extraction techniques, as well as new methods of manufacturing aimed at making cannabis plant production easier, faster, and higher yielding.

Radical New Growth and Extraction Systems

Among the most noteworthy new manufacturing innovations are two systems developed by Iaso, called GrowBlox and PhytoX. These systems enable manufacturers to grow cannabis plants indoors at higher speed and without human assistance, and afterwards to extract the valuable ingredients from cannabis plants with greater efficiency and precision.

Traditional indoor growing methods require meticulous care and can take almost a full year to yield a successful crop. According to Iaso, GrowBlox can produce five cannabis harvests per year, which would make it the fastest marijuana propagation system on the market.

Along with GrowBlox, Iaso developed PhytoX as a way to optimize the cannabis extraction process for medical purposes. Touted by Iaso as the world’s first hydrodynamic extraction system, PhytoX freezes and pulverizes cannabis plants to maximize yields and increase potency, converting the entire plant into nano-emulsions that are then centrifuged and distilled.

Benefits of Wet Extraction

According to Iaso, PhytoX can perform extraction on wet or dry cannabis, making it capable of producing concentrate from freshly harvested plants. Extracting from wet cannabis plants retains ingredients that are lost in the dry extraction process. In addition, PhtoX’s use of water for extraction eliminates the needs for other solvents.

By speeding up and optimizing the cannabis growth and extraction process, GrowBlox and PhytoX have the potential to revolutionize the cannabis manufacturing industry. Iaso also produces cultures to optimize cannabis growth and is developing a new drug delivery system to be ready this year.

Better Drug Delivery Systems

A number of leading biotech firms are working to develop new ways to extract the active cannabis ingredients and deliver their medically beneficial effects in ingestible and topical forms. Lexaria Bioscience Corp. focuses its R&D on making cannabis medical compounds more absorbable and easily digestible. Lexaria’s process reduces the time of onset for edible cannabis to 15-20 minutes versus the usual 60-120 minutes, and increases absorption by five to 10 times, in addition to masking the bitter taste of cannabinoids without the need to add sugar.

Earth Science Tech, Inc. focuses its R&D on producing high-purity, high-quality cannabidiol (CBD) oil and infusing it in digestible products that provide medical benefits while not producing a psychoactive high. Earth Science Tech’s products include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, personal care products, homeopathies, and CBD oil delivered in capsules, tablets, soft gels, liquids, creams, sprays, and powders.

Cannabis Pain Relief Innovators

Several companies based in Colorado and California have established reputations for delivering high-quality cannabis products, including unique and effective methods of making cannabis ingestible for pain relief purposes.

Viola Extracts has become a leading producer of butane hash oil (BHO) products for the medical industry. Extracting the active ingredients of cannabis using butane produces pure and potent concentrates that are productized in a variety of forms and consistencies that include oil, shatter, wax, and live resins.

Another cannabis innovator is Foria, which has received a lot of media attention for its sensual cannabis products for women. For medical uses, Foria provides cannabis suppositories that offer relief from menstrual pain as well as back and hip discomfort. The suppositories provide rapid and long-lasting pain relief.

Colorado-based Binske infuses cannabis in a host of high-quality edible and topical products that can be used as an alternative to smoking. Its edibles include chocolate bars, fruit spreads, granola bars, olive oil, and tinctures of garlic, lemon, and chipotle. Its honey products are produced from local bees and can offer pain relief by being ingested in tea. Its topicals include bath salts, body lotion, and massage oils.

Another Colorado-based company providing quality medical cannabis products is Altitude Organic. Its line of edibles includes organic treats such as assorted fruit and brownie bars, as well as organic fruit gummy candies. It also sells an extra strength pain spray called Apothecanna.

All these standout ventures show how the legalization of cannabis, along with its many medical benefits, is causing an increasingly more diverse and sophisticated set of products to be developed, as well as inventive manufacturing techniques. Expect to see further innovation as more and more companies devote their attention to cannabis R&D and as legalized cannabis spreads to ever more states and territories.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing management solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and business solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 

 


New Bill to Legalize Cannabis Nationally Would Be a Game Changer

Legalizing cannabis in the United States nationally would have a dramatic and far-reaching effect on the cannabis industry, which has been living under the shadow of federal laws that make cannabis an illegal substance. It looks now that nationwide legalization could happen sooner than expected because of New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s introduction of a bill to decriminalize marijuana.

Said Schumer: “My thinking, as well as the general population’s views on the issue, has evolved, and so I believe there’s no better time than the present to get this done. It’s simply the right thing to do.”

State and Federal Laws at Odds

Although an increasing number of states have been making medical and recreational cannabis legal, the growth of the cannabis manufacturing industry has been inhibited by the Trump administration’s pledges to enforce federal restrictions.

Potential investors have been sitting on the sidelines because of fear that the federal government might take aggressive action to close down the recreational use of cannabis. The muddled legal climate also has prevented many banks from providing accounts to cannabis industry operators.

Under the new bill, these sanctions would be lifted and it would be left up to individual states how to regulate marijuana. The federal government’s role would be policing cannabis trafficking from states that have legalized the drug to those that have not, as well as regulating marijuana advertising to prevent children from being targeted.

Investment Floodgates Would Open

If Schumer’s bill becomes law, marijuana would be removed from the list of substances classified under the Controlled Substances Act. For the world of cannabis manufacturing, this could unleash a torrent of pent-up development dollars and energy.

Even under the current legal cloud, the cannabis industry is on track to become a $31 billion empire worldwide by the coming decade. In the United States, the cannabis manufacturing sector is projected to create 300,000 jobs by 2020.

National legalization of cannabis would inflate these numbers as a host of states now hesitant to legalize cannabis join the legalization ranks. As Forbes reported, numerous states are on the cusp of introducing legislation to make cannabis legal on a recreational or medicinal basis, including New Jersey, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Missouri, Virginia, and Ohio. If the federal barriers were removed, many more states would fall in line.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing management solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and business solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 


Cannabis Manufacturing: Scaling Up and Getting Industrial

As the cannabis industry continues to expand, cannabis production centers inevitably will follow the path of other major industries and become large-scale operations. The new Liberty Health Sciences venture in Florida gives us a sense of what we can expect to see over the next few years as more big businesses embrace cannabis manufacturing.

Medical marijuana became legal in Florida in 2016. In January, Liberty Health Sciences out of Toronto purchased 242 Cannabisa 387-acre parcel with 200,000 square feet of greenhouses and processing facilities in Florida’s Alachua County, near Gainesville, for about $30.5 million. The 242 Cannabis operation is a subsidiary of medical cannabis company 242 Cannabis Canada.  

After a retrofit, the operation is going to include a new 16,000-square-foot processing area in which the company will be able to extract and refine cannabis oils, including adding a kitchen to make edibles. The facility also will produce vaporizer products, some of which will include preloaded disposable pens, cartridges, and pods.

Ramping Up Cannabis Manufacturing

Called the Liberty 360-degree Innovation Campus, the facility at full capacity will employ about 150 workers, including chemists, biologists, horticulturists, and customer service representatives. Liberty aims to speed up the process of producing medical cannabis, as well as to bring to market a number of innovative new products.

The plan is to produce 27,000 pounds of medical cannabis per year, which would be a large spike vs. the yields being grown in other states. After the cannabis plants are grown, Liberty aims to produce most of its products in about eight weeks, which will increase its ability to put out products and generate revenues.

Innovative Products in the Works

To widen the appeal of medical marijuana, Liberty plans to produce softgels, transdermal applications, and beverages. Although each of these products has been the focus of development and marketing efforts of other cannabis distributors, they have not yet achieved the popularity of other medical cannabis products.

For more precise dosing, softgels could become a popular cannabis product in Florida and beyond, particularly for aging populations with a variety of illnesses. Softgels are known for bringing longer relief from pain and other ailments.

Transdermal (or topical) applications also are likely to become popular because they make medical cannabis easier to ingest without having to light up. Considering much of the aging population cannot smoke marijuana without health concerns, topical solutions could quickly become a popular means of ingestion.

Cannabis beverages offer similar benefits. While a number of cannabis beverages are now available, they have not yet become mainstream products.

What Lies Ahead for Cannabis Manufacturing in Florida and Beyond

Liberty Health is part of a new wave of big businesses that are industrializing cannabis production. A spokeswoman for Liberty Health Sciences said its current operation is valued at $327 million.

Last year, Liberty bought and took full ownership of another Alachua County medical cannabis operation, Chestnut Hill Tree Farm’s Medical Marijuana Treatment Center, for about $40 million.

Liberty’s dispensaries will be called Cannabis Education Centers, the company said, because the industry is new and patients need to be educated about what they are using as an alternative to traditional medicines.

Liberty Health Sciences opened its inaugural dispensary in The Villages, a retirement community, in January, and has plans to open five more outlets in Florida this year — in south Tampa, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, St. Petersburg, and Port St. Lucie.

Pundits have been predicting that the lucrative opportunity opened up by the legalization of cannabis would lure big business to embrace cannabis manufacturing. The international market for cannabis is projected to increase from $7.7 billion today to $31.4 billion by 2021, according to the Brightfield Group, a cannabismarket research firm. The U.S. currently accounts for 90 percent of global cannabis sales, but its share is expected to drop to 57 percent by 2021, in large part because of Canada’s plans to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing management solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and business solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry. 


Trends to Watch in The Cannabis Industry and Medical Cannabis Production

Cannabis Manufacturing

Growing cannabis as wells as production of cannabis extracts in industries is against the law in many countries. For that reason, many face prosecution if they engage in any of these activities. On the other hand, anyone trafficking marijuana within regions that do not allow it is liable to a jail term according to the laws of the land.

However, there is a shift from prohibition of production and growth of cannabis. As from the previous year, adults in four new states can now use marijuana for recreational purposes. Legal pot sales in North America hit almost $7 billion in the year 2016, and four other states legalized medical marijuana. Here are cannabis industry trends to watch this year.

Medical vs. Recreational

In the year 2017, the expectation is that U.S. medical and recreational markets will take a different direction, particularly in marketing and branding. In that case, you should expect recreational adult use of marijuana to assume the status of big alcohol while medical cannabis will take on a biotech posture to incline more on pharmaceutical.

Brand Emergence

The appetite to finance marijuana brands by investors will increase. As a result, the market for cannabis will grow faster. On the other hand, emergence of national brand leaders is likely as investors and growth of the industry set in the market. Looking back into the year 2016, we can see consolidation and brand emergence at a smaller scale. But this year, this will happen on a larger scale.

Consequently, it will avail both product and retail establishments in every market where cannabis is legal.

International Markets

Another trend to expect is the growth of the legal pot sector beyond the U.S. market. That is evident after an announcement by Germany’s health minister in the year 2016. As per the announcement, plans to legalize medical marijuana at the federal level this year are underway. In Canada, use of medical cannabis at the federal level is already in effect. Plans to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana in Canada in 2017 are also in the pipeline.

It is important to note that demand for cannabis in the U.S. is not as high as it is in Canada. That is clearly visible in the country’s public markets that exude serious investment in the marijuana market.

Industry Consolidation

Cannabis is illegal at the federal level, which attracts both legal and financial risks. For that reason, most state-legal pot businesses operate in small-scale. This venture proves a successful venture to some extent. However, the entry of serious investors in this sector will increase competition. As a result, small marijuana traders will merge with larger establishments.

Merging will cushion them from heavy losses and spur growth within the industry. Huge institutions are only awaiting federal approval to move into marijuana business full throttle.

Ancillary Business Boom

Cannabis relates to many other industries that do not interact with the plant directly. Hence, as the market share of this product increases, you should expect a surge in demand for ancillary. It is worth noting that the boom of ancillary business may overtake that of cannabis. Many are considering a venture into marijuana business, but do not have the capital investment which compliance demands.

Such individuals or entities now have opportunity to tap into the gains of the industry through ancillary. That is because many products and services relate to commercialization of cannabis.

Marijuana Banking

The growth of marijuana businesses in the year 2015 and 2016 is not doing much to give such enterprises access to traditional banking and financial services. As such, operations in the sector remain on a cash basis for those already in this line of business. That is not the best way of running such a business today. On the contrary, high-profile lawmakers are now pushing for a reform of federal banking guidelines to accommodate those in the marijuana sector.

There is a high probability that cannabis financial services will open up this year. Contact us now for more information.