A legalization push in Montana • HEXO reports steep losses • & more…

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Montana’s legalization push is underway.

A group has formed to push for cannabis law reform in the state, which is among the least populous in the U.S. with ~1 million residents. Montana already has a medical cannabis program in place, but the new group, New Approach Montana, will push for adult use legalization in 2020.

The D.C.-based New Approach PAC has supported adult use legalization efforts in other states, starting with Oregon in 2014. The director of the PAC is Graham Boyd, formerly with the ACLU. (The first cannabis campaign named New Approach was in Washington state, which legalized in 2012, and it was led by Alison Holcomb of the state ACLU.)

The political director of New Approach Montana, Pepper Petersen, told local news outlet MTN News that he is also working with MPP. 

+    Mini-analysis: It’s increasingly common for companies, not advocacy organizations, to fund legalization efforts. Before there was much of a cannabis industry, major cannabis and drug policy reform orgs like MPP and DPA relied primarily on philanthropic funds to push for reform. Now that the industry is booming, companies are taking matters into their own hands, and often pushing for their own interests. In Florida, for example, and adult use campaign is backed primarily by MedMen. In Arizona, an adult use campaign is backed by Harvest Health & RecreationCuraleaf, and MedMen.

Review shows lacking evidence for cannabinoid therapy for mental health disorders. 

For a new study published in The Lancet this week, researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published between January 1, 1980, and April 30, 2018. Studies were included if they focused on cannabinoids as a treatment for depression, anxiety, ADD, Tourette syndrome, PTSD, or psychosis. 

Researchers found 82 studies that qualified for examination, and found that while there’s “very low quality evidence” that a pharmaceutical preparation of THC, containing CBD, or without, shows “small improvement” for some people with anxiety that have other conditions. Otherwise, “there remains insufficient evidence to provide guidance on the use of cannabinoids for treating mental disorders within a regulatory framework,” the research noted, calling for more “high-quality studies” that specifically focus on how cannabinoids could affect mental health disorders. 

“There is scarce evidence to suggest that cannabinoids improve depressive disorders and symptoms, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis,” the research concluded.

Purdue University gets first USDA grant to study organic hemp.

Purdue University researchers have been granted just shy of $1 million ($955,458) in funding to examine organic hemp cultivation. 

“This is a great opportunity to develop organic practices that can reduce the reliance on pesticides for all hemp growers, lead researcher Kevin Gibson said in a statement. “We also want to know how hemp might fit in rotation with other crops, how it might fit into a soil conservation system, and how cultivars and the timing of planting will affect growing success.”

HEXO reports steep losses in Q4 2019.

The news has been mostly bad for this Canadian cannabis company in recent weeks, and its latest earnings were no different. Early Tuesday morning, HEXO reported losses more than 3x its revenue in Q4 2019: C$57 million v C$15 million, respectively. 

The company also announced that cultivation at its facility in Niagara has been paused, and 200,000 sq. ft. of its Gatineau facility will pause as well. Last week, Cannabis Wire’s newsletter included the company’s announced cuts of more than 200 employees, including those in executive positions.

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