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June 30, 2020

Uxbridge cannabis microbusiness given final licensure for distribution

PHOTO/ZACHARY COMEAU Marijuana entreprenuers Kevin MacConnell (left) and Tim Phillips got their start in Colorado but are now operating a cannabis growing and manufacturing company in Uxbridge, which is Phillips's hometown.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission gave Blackstone Valley Naturals of Uxbridge, doing business as Yamna, the final greenlight to commence operations as soon as Friday, the commission announced on Monday.

Yamna is a licensed microbusiness. Cannabis microbusinesses in Massachusetts are co-located Tier 1 marijuana cultivators and/or product manufacturers limited to purchasing 2,000 pounds of cannabis from other marijuana establishments in a single year, according to the CCC. Microbusiness licensees are not allowed to have an ownership stake in any other marijuana establishments and a majority of its executives have to have been Massachusetts residents for at least one year prior to applying. 

Yamna received approval to cultivate and manufacture cannabis in February, according to Co-owner Kevin MacConnell, who owns the business with Tim Phillips, who originally hails from Uxbridge. The pair started their cannabis industry work in Colorado before beginning the licensing process in Massachusetts.

They plan to collaborate with Gibby’s Garden, another Uxbridge-based cannabis microbusiness, according to MacConnell.

“All of our product comes from our own cultivation, except for the one collaboration with Gibby’s Garden,” MacConnell said.

He said Yamna plans to have its products on dispensary shelves beginning next week. Among the products they plan to distribute are pre-packaged eighths and pre-rolled cannagars.

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July 4, 2020

A year ago, if the word "epidemic" appeared in the news, it mostly referred to the opioid epidemic. Opioids were involved in 46,802 American overdose deaths in 2018. The nexus between the opioid epidemic and cannabis is that legalization of recreational cannabis has been shown to reduce opioid deaths by about a third. The legalization of recreational cannabis by Colorado in 2014 and other states since then, has provided enough data for academic researchers to determine that the reduction in opioid deaths resulting from the legalization of recreational cannabis is very statistically significant. This evidence would tend to support legalization of recreational cannabis in those states that have not yet done so. At least, among those who can be influenced by peer-reviewed scholarly research results.

An interesting result from the research is that just legalizing medical cannabis does not result in a statistically significant reduction in opioid deaths. An explanation for this result may be seen in the typical media accounts of particularly heart-breaking opioid overdose deaths. Many of the news stories involve someone who years ago had a drug abuse problem, but who had apparently been drug-free for many years. This person's friends and relatives were very proud that the person had turned their life around and now had a good job and family. Then the person is found dead on the floor from an opioid overdose.

The reason that researchers found that, after accounting for all variables, opioid deaths are so much lower in jurisdictions with legal recreational cannabis, is that some people who might otherwise use opioids are using cannabis instead. No one has ever died directly from a cannabis overdose. For someone trying to conceal their drug use from the world, getting a prescription for state-legal medical cannabis could be problematic. This raises the question of why the person in the story did not use cannabis instead of opioids? Presumably, who ever sold the illegal opioids to the person could likely have provided the person with illegal cannabis as well. However, illegal cannabis may not be a substitute for opioids for someone trying to conceal their drug use. Illegal cannabis is generally sold as flower to be smoked. Because of the smell and factors such as reddening of the eyes, smoking is difficult to conceal from those people close to one. State-legal recreational cannabis is sold either as flower or in edible form. Edible cannabis use is as easy to conceal as opioids. Thus, legalization of recreational cannabis can reduce opioid deaths by about a third, but legalizing medical cannabis has no statistically significant reduction in opioid deaths.

That the legalization of recreational cannabis has been shown to significantly reduce opioid deaths could be a positive for cannabis stocks. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may ultimately turn out to be more important for cannabis stocks. One thing that cannabis and alcohol after prohibition have in common, is the macroeconomic impetus to legalization. It is not a coincidence that the repeal of the 18th Amendment, which ended prohibition, occurred at the depths of the great Depression in 1933. In 1933 governments at all levels were desperate for tax revenue and the unemployment rate was above 20%. Prior to the enactment of the Federal Income tax in 1913, excise taxes on alcohol provided had about 40% of total Federal revenue. As tax revenues plummeted during the depression, the case for legalization and taxation of alcoholic beverages became much stronger. Arguably, the legalization of casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1976 was also a response by a government quest for additional taxes and jobs in a depressed jurisdiction...."

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