Epidiolex sales hit $188M • FreshDirect founder joins TerrAscend board • & more…


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GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex sales hit $188 million.

GW is the world’s oldest and largest pharmaceutical company solely focused on producing medicines derived from cannabis plants, which it grows in Britain. Its CBD-based product, Epidiolex, is the only FDA-approved medicine derived directly from cannabis plants.

The company reported its Q3 earnings last night, and its revenue grew significantly to $91 million, compared to $2.4 million in Q3 2018, while its net loss decreased to $13.8 million compared to $79.9 million in the same quarter last year.

On the Epidiolex front: more than 15,000 patients have obtained prescriptions to-date in the US (the product was approved by the FDA in June 2018). The company says that commercialization is underway in France and Germany, and GW expects word from UK officials by year’s end. The company is also seeking regulatory approval for the product’s use in the US among patients with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.

On the Sativex front: the company’s THC-CBD product is approved in several countries but not in the US, yet; the company has submitted a clinical plan to the FDA and received feedback.

+     Related: As Cannabis Wire recently reportedGW’s US subsidiary Greenwich Biosciences is lobbying in all 50 states and at the federal level. 

Columbia Care to acquire Colorado’s The Green Solution in $140 million deal.

The New York-based multistate operator announced its Q3 earnings yesterday and while its revenue grew slightly its losses grew more. The company’s revenue was $22.1 million, slightly more than double its $9.9 million in revenue for the same quarter last year; and its net loss was $19.9 million, nearly 4x higher than its net loss of $5.3 million in Q3 2018.

Just before announcing its earnings, the company announced it will acquire one of the biggest cannabis companies in Colorado, TGS, which has 21 shops open in addition to large cultivation and processing facilities, in a $140 million deal ($110 million stock). This acquisition, Columbia Care’s first major one, will require sign off from the DOJ and the FTC under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. (Other major deals are still awaiting approval, for example, Harvest-Verano and Cresco-Origin House.)

TerrAscend lowers revenue expectations, adds FreshDirect founder to its board.

TerrAscend chairman Jason Wild announced yesterday the company would withdraw its revenue guidance for the year, which was $141 million. “We thought our continued ability to execute would overcome slower than expected growth in the Canadian retail market,” he said. 

The company has also named the founder of FreshDirectJason Ackerman, as the executive chairman of its board. Also, the company’s president, Matthew Johnson, has left.

+     As Cannabis Wire reported last month, TerrAscend has been particularly active on the lobbying front, spending money to be heard in states like New Jersey, where the company holds a license, and Illinois, where it does not.

Another university research partnership for Pyxus.

The global agricultural company has announced that it will fund hemp research at the North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Specifically, the research will look at how fertilization affects hemp’s growth and cannabinoid content, including “CBD quantity and quality.”

In August, Pyxus also announced it would fund hemp research at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Small Johns Hopkins study shows low-THC cannabidiol products spark positive drug tests. 

Johns Hopkins researchers studied six people and found that using a low-THC vape could produce a positive urinalysis drug test (the kinds used by the criminal justice system and schools). The research was published this week in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Researchers found that two out of six people tested positive after vaping cannabis that had 0.39% THC once (0.09% above the United States federal definition of hemp). This could have broad implications for people who use CBD products, because the study suggests that these products contain enough THC to prompt a positive result. 

“People who use legal hemp products for medical intent rarely just use them once as we did in this study, and prior studies show that THC and its metabolites may accumulate with repeated use,” Tory Spindle, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center said. “What this means is that people need to be wary of single-dose or cumulative THC exposure and be aware that these now legal products may cause an unexpected positive result on a drug test.”

The results also suggest that pure CBD products don’t produce similar positive THC drug test results. Study participants were also given a CBD capsule, a CBD vape, and a placebo “mock” CBD pill. These urine results produced no positive reports. 

As researcher Ryan Vandrey pointed out, “These results suggest that pure CBD, used once by itself, will not cause a positive drug test.”

Researcher Spindle highlighted that it “does not take much THC exposure to trigger a positive test for some people.”

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