DEA Deschedules Epidiolex, Senators Urge SBA to Extend Economic Assistance to Cannabis Businesses: Week in Review

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This week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) descheduled GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, an anti-epileptic drug that contains cannabidiol (CBD). Elsewhere, a coalition of U.S. senators sent a letter to leadership asking that cannabis businesses qualify for loans and other federal relief programs in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Here, we’ve rounded up the 10 headlines you need to know before this week is over.

  • Federal: Global Cannabinoids, one of the largest retailers of American-grown hemp and CBD, has transitioned its operations to hand sanitizer production to address the supply shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has formed a new entity, Global Sanitizers, and its line of hand sanitizers is now being sold to big box retailers under the “Medically Minded” brand. Read more
  • Effective immediately, the DEA has descheduled GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, an anti-epileptic drug that contains CBD, in a move that may foreshadow a future of pharmaceutical drugs that contain the compound. Initially, following approval from the DEA in 2018, Epidiolex was listed under Schedule V. Read more
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of cannabis cultivators, dispensaries and industry suppliers, according to recent survey conducted by Cannabis Business Times at the end of March. More than half of participants (54%) responded “a great deal” or “a lot” when asked “How much of an impact has the COVID-19 outbreak had on your operation?” Read more
  • A coalition of U.S. senators sent a letter to leadership, asking that the Small Business Administration (SBA) extend economic assistance to the cannabis industry. Last month, President Trump instructed the SBA to allocate $50 billion to low-interest loans to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, but cannabis businesses were excluded from these relief efforts. Read more
  • Indiana University researchers have presented data that suggest cases of electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) are more prevalent in states that do not have adult-use dispensaries. The study was published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association on April 6 by researchers from Indiana University’s School of Medicine and O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Read more
  • Ohio: The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has issued new guidance that allows the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries to offer curbside pickup to their customers during the COVID-19 crisis. Under the new rules, retailers can conduct medical cannabis sales in their parking lots or on the sidewalks outside of their stores, so patients do not have to enter the dispensary or even leave their cars. Read more
  • Arizona: Smart and Safe Arizona—a campaign that aims to place a cannabis legalization imitative on the state’s November ballot—is one of four ballot initiative campaigns in the state that filed a petition to ask the Arizona Supreme Court to allow the campaigns to gather electronic signatures amid the COVID-19 crisis. The petition asks the court to allow Smart and Safe Arizona, Arizonans for Second Chances, Invest in Education, and Save Our Schools Arizona to collect signatures digitally through E-Qual, the state’s online signature collection platform. Read more
  • Colorado: Charlotte Figi, the young girl whose medical condition inspired the Stanley Brothers to develop the low-THC strain Charlotte’s Web, has died due to COVID-19 symptoms at the age of 13. “Charlotte is no longer suffering,” photographer Nichole Montanez wrote on behalf of the Figi family. “She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love.” Read more
  • Canada: In an April 6 statement, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) issued a statement to clarify that all legal businesses—including cannabis businesses—will be eligible for the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), which includes access to the Canada Emergency Business Account and the SME Loan and Guarantee Program. Last month, Canadian cannabis operators were outraged when Export Development Canada (EDC) and the BDC initially said that the industry would not qualify for business loans and other assistance aimed at boosting the economy during the COVID-19 crisis. Read more
  • Ontario’s cannabis retailers are allowed to reopen with delivery and in-store pickup services under an April 7 emergency order. This is welcome news for dispensaries that were told last week that they had been removed from the province’s list of essential businesses, which effectively shut the stores down until further notice. Read more
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