Lidl just experienced a grocery store chain being raided, and all because of CBD cookies.
In a rather amusing or shocking incident, depending on where you sit, the German police have raided a Lidl grocery store in Bavaria (known locally not only as Bayern but also somewhat accurately as the “Texas of Deutschland”) over some CBD cookies. Plus, it was reported they raided the establishment for another assorted, otherwise innocuous 20 products including “cannabis energy drinks” and “hash brownies.”
The incident, as reported in the München Abendzeitung (an evening newspaper of the digital kind), is a testament to how difficult the local cannabis market still is, even for big companies that decide to join the hemp parade.
Beyond the legal issues and technicalities, the humor in this story (not to mention the cautionary tale) is manifest. It is certainly a cannabis-scented grim fairy tale gone rather bad.
The “Texas of Germany” and Cannabinoids
To set the scene for those who have never experienced Bavaria in the flesh, this is a bucolic part of the world known for a few things that are also broadly popular elsewhere—football (albeit of the soccer kind) and beer (of the German variety).
And, of course, it’s also known for strange fashion ideas that lead to adult human beings being not the least bit self-conscious in walking down the street even at high noon in “traditional” German clothing. This attire is known as lederhosen or leather shorts (for gentleman) and Dirndls, a kitsch, Cinderella-Disney kind of outfit with lots of cleavage and poof as well as a lace up corset (for ladies). The locals do this even in months that are not October (known, of course, locally for Oktoberfest and internationally for Halloween).
Beyond the rather odd local fashions, there is certainly an aspect to Bavaria that is picturesque if not familiar elsewhere on the planet, minus a language that is tongue-twisting (just ask Mark Twain). Walt Disney certainly took a great deal of inspiration from this part of the world (as did Adolph Hitler).
Bavaria also has a few other characteristics. Rules here, particularly for Auslanders—read: even Germans not “from here” are strict to a degree that is teeth-numbing for those unaccustomed to the same.
As in all such bizarrely strict places on Earth to live, it is also a state with one of the highest numbers of cannabis patients in Germany, in part because the cops do not think twice about busting even patients for small amounts of weed (although post 2017 this has relaxed somewhat). It is no accident that Gunther Weiglein, the patient whose lawsuit changed the federal law here in 2017, is also from Bayern.
If there was to be a mainstream grocery store that might be raided by the fuzz over hemp cookies, it would probably be a place like Munich. And of course, the cops did not disappoint.
If this was a skit, it would be like German, cannabis-themed Monty Python. The only thing that is missing here is the dead parrot.
“Several articles have been secured,” according to police spokesman Stefan Sonntag after a Rosenheim branch of the grocery store was raided by the polizei. The items are currently being tested–even though the items are from a manufacturer who only produces THC-free products.
Lidl and Corporate Embarrassment
Here is the next disaster. Lidl, the fifth-largest retailer in the world, with annual sales in the multiple billions, decided to jump into the cannabis frenzy with a no-holds barred lack of caution that was rather shocking to anyone with any experience in the actual cannabis industry, certainly in Europe if not Germany.
Namely, as of this spring, brightly coloured inserts began arriving in households all over the country, delivered not via digital means but rather through post-boxes, proudly advertising CBD products on the front of their garishly adorned (and wrapped in plastic) mailers. Whoever was corporate counsel on this one was absolutely sleeping. A whole marketing department somewhere should probably lose their jobs.
Here is the first reason. For those unfamiliar with German law, CBD is still part of the German Narcotics Act. Namely, it may not be “advertised,” and certainly not to consumers via a grocery store mailer, delivered through the post. Major cannabis companies (starting with Tilray) have ended up on the wrong side of German law in court for less.
Here is the next bummer. The discounter signed an agreement with a start-up company, The Green Dealers, to deliver about 1.5 million CBD and THC-free articles to the company.
Of course, this should also come as no surprise in a country where the sellers of hemp tea have also been targeted routinely. So far, the rulings on this, even at the federal level, have not removed CBD from the Narcotics Act, but rather focused on the levels of THC in seized items. Beyond this of course, the start-up distributor sells products from a Czech-based manufacturer. If there were ever a test case in Germany to match the French decision last year (namely that imported CBD products, in this case, vapes from another part of the EU, when legally produced could not be banned from sale) this would be it.
It is hard to believe that this is not a set up if not fake news. However, this being Bavaria right now, if not Deutschland, it is also very easy to understand that it is not.
The Strange, Grey Area of the German Hemp Market
Here is where all of this gets weird in a country where (at least in Frankfurt in the adjoining state of Hesse albeit also home to the international banking set) local hemp shops advertise freely on the outside of street cars, and in a way semi familiar to Americans.
Here is the bottom-line reality. There is no real cannabis reform in Germany. The medical change that happened over the past four to five years has certainly begun to reset the conversation, but the huge and looming gaps between the haves and have-nots is already in the room. The young and innocent believe that cannabis reform might be a victory in the election, but this is largely a false hope—at least at the ballot box. German politics do not allow the kind of voter-driven, state referendums as seen in America.
The privately insured everywhere can gain access to the kind of cannabis they want. In places like Frankfurt, however, patients on public health insurance (90 percent of Germans) are facing doctors who are refusing to take more than two patients because of the regulatory requirements they face. This is also not uncommon in places like Bayern, where doctors are threatened by regular visits from the police as well.
Advertising is also in a strange place including social media issues familiar to anyone in the U.S. market—as is the ability of even licensed medical cannabis companies to achieve recurrent patient sales. The only “sure thing” here is actually dronabinol, the supposed “generic extract” that is currently being sold as an on-market drug for the benefit of both distributors and pharmacies.
The problem of safe access to cannabis products, of both the medical and “adult use” kind, starting with safety for not just patients and other customers but vendors is much in the news here as it is elsewhere.
Ziya Gaziyev, the CEO and co-founder of a Berlin-based online cannabis platform called HelloMary, which uses doctor trained artificial intelligence (AI), said, “The market has never been more direly in need of a safe, secure, digital platform to buy, sell and transact in legal cannabis products.”
That is, at least, a universal theme, no matter where you are in the world of international cannabis. Strange costumes notwithstanding.
Original Source: hightimes.com
Labat and Leaf Botanicals Relationship Ends in Tears; N Cape Cannabis Producer Pulls Out of Deal with JSE Company
Unresolvable issues around value and quality
Northern Cape organic cannabis grower Leaf Botanicals has pulled out of its share deal with JSE-listed Labat Africa and wants out. That’s emerged after Labat, which owns 80% of Leaf Botanicals, posted an announcement on SENS to its shareholders on 17 March 2022 that there was a “quality issue” behind the breakdown.
Both sides seemed equally unhappy with their year-long marriage, with Upington-based Leaf Botanicals pulling the plug because of financial disappointment, and Labat saying the flower was not good enough for its international customers. Labat has gone looking for production elsewhere, picking up 80% of Eastern Cape grow op, Sweetwaters for R10 m – for which it paid cash. Leaf Botanicals’ intentions going forward have not been made public.
The company said the “Leaf Botanicals acquisition was terminated due to Leaf Botanicals no longer wishing to pursue the transaction following the discovery that the product was not up to standard and the inability to find a suitable way forward. Following further discussions, the termination has been accepted by Labat.”
Van der Colff activated suspensive clause after sale value plummeted by 75%
Labat purchased 75% of Leaf Botanicals in May 2021 from award-winning farmer, Johannes van der Colff.
Labat paid R11,25 million for its equity in the SAHPRA-licensed facility and paid the Gog van der Colff Trust by way of 11 250 000 Labat shares, taking a bet that the Labat share price would go up. Well it didn’t. It is currently trading around 25c a share, which means the R11,25 m van der Colff was paid for giving up majority control of his operation is now worth a mere R2,8 m, 75% down on the value of the striking price.
Van der Colff’s got out the deal by activating a suspensive condition in the purchase agreement which allowed him to pull out if Labat was trading below R1.00/share for the 30 days before the first anniversary of the deal, which is imminent. The issuing of his Labat shares is to be cancelled and those shares delisted.
Labat has endured a rocky ride so far, prospects are looking up
Labat has had a rocky ride as the mover with first advantage in the South African cannabis space. It paid for many of its acquisitions with Labat shares valued at R1.00/share. With the price languishing below 30c/share, those who accepted shares in return for giving up equity in their own businesses, have taken a haircut of 75% of the value of their shares. Nonetheless Labat appears to have stabilized, and has again been out shopping.
Gauteng Signs Township Act into Law; Calls for Entrepreneurs to Pitch Proposals to Industrialize Cannabis
New Act aimed at empowering community trade
The Gauteng government has invited entrepreneurs to come forward with commercial proposals for the provincial cannabis industrialization programme. It published the invitation in the Government Gazette on 29 April 2022, the same day that Premier David Makhura ratified the Township Economic Development Act (TEDA), aimed at empowering townships and informal settlements.
Agriculture MEC Parks Tau, who is in charge of the province’s cannabis strategy says TEDA’s benefits include:
cutting red tape by introducing model standard bylaws,
providing targeted tax incentives to unlock capital formation and job-creating investments, and
providing targeted funding and targeted procurement whereby 40% of government procurement from the Gauteng provincial government comes from companies in the TEZs.
Tau: Vaal River Smart City will be SA’s first real cannabis hub
Writing in the Sunday Times on 1 May 2022, Tau said TEDA was “ a welcome legislation to unleash the potential of the township cannabis and hemp sectors that will be fully licensed in the full hemp value chain and acting as gateways for the industry. This will make Gauteng a “green gold” mecca, as announced by Makhura, with the establishment in the Vaal River Smart City area of the country’s first cannabis hub focusing on cultivation of cannabis primarily for medical use and application”.
Tau said the implementation of TEDA would be done in conjunction with the private sector and community organizations. “TEDA is a whole-of-society call to action to build better townships and informal settlements reeling from the negative effects of the Covid-19 health and economic pandemic, the July 2021 civil unrest and the complex spillovers from the Russia-Ukraine war” he wrote.
“Moreover, this requires the introduction of a solidarity economy through, for instance, a service delivery co-production for municipalities where enterprises and organisations such as stokvels and mutual benefit societies provide their own communities with goods, services and knowledge that meets the local community’s needs”.
Gauteng wants to form partnerships with private sector
The Gauteng Department of Economic Development and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are championing cannabis reform as part of the province’s goal to create jobs and boost the economy by processing hemp and cannabis at an industrial scale.
Companies interested in partnering with the provincial government must take into consideration in their application that their proposals must include:
details of funding mechanisms,
cannabis-driven carbon reduction,
rehabilitation of compromised mining land,
and the inclusion of communities as partners.
In return Gauteng says it will provide support for private sector partners by:
offering leases on state owned or controlled land;
providing rentals at special economic zones, industrial parks
subsidies at private facilities;
funding input and administrative costs
facilitating collaborations with other state organs, aimed at removing barriers on projects.
Antony Moloto is the man riding point on the project. His contact details are below:
Email enquiries: Anthony.Moloto@gauteng.gov.za
Queries: Mr Anthony Moloto
Phone: 011 240 2684/ 083 408 5493
Upload a completed form here with CV’s, BBBEE certificate /affidavit, tax clearance certificate and proof of CIPC registration as well as a proposal. Application inclusive of attached documents must be no longer than 20 pages. Please complete the checklist at the end of the application form.
Now Musk’s Bought Twitter, Could This End The Cannabis Social Media Ban?
By Bruce Barcott, First Published in Leafly on 25 April 2022
Does this spell the end of cannabis prohibition on social media platforms?
Elon Musk has been an outspoken opponent of prohibition. Now he owns Twitter.
What began as a fun what-if last week ended as a startling fait accompli this afternoon: Twitter has accepted Elon Musk’s $44 billion bid to buy the company.
In the cannabis world, that deal could have profound ramifications.
The Tesla founder has been famously outspoken about his belief in cannabis legalization. In late 2018, Musk lit up a joint on the Joe Rogan Experience, inhaled, and launched a million memes.
In the summer of 2020, Musk added his voice to the chorus of those working to free America’s cannabis prisoners.
“Selling weed literally went from major felony to essential business (open during pandemic) in much of America & yet many are still in prison,” he wrote. “Doesn’t make sense, isn’t right.”
Musk isn’t so much an advocate as an ally. He’s not the guy who’s bankrolling state legalization campaigns; he’s the uber-bro with massive cultural influence who says, loudly: Prohibition is stupid!
And now he owns Twitter. At a purchase price of $54.20 per share. Ahem.
Will that change things?
What needs changing?
Anyone who works in cannabis can tell you: Social media platforms do not play well with weed. The continued federal prohibition of marijuana makes the major platforms—Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok—extremely nervous. They often express that trepidation by blocking posts, enacting shadow bans, or deleting entire accounts.
It’s hard to find a cannabis company that hasn’t been blocked or banned from at least one social platform.
It’s hard to find a cannabis company that hasn’t been blocked or banned from at least one platform at one time or another.
Often the bans feel capricious. A post that seems utterly harmless can get flagged for violating a platform’s terms of service, while an edgier post can shine on with no trouble at all. ‘What did we do wrong? is an anguished cry that nearly every cannabis social media manager has shouted to the heavens.
These mysterious cannabis policies exist on a spectrum. On the far side of strictness sits TikTok, which allows no cannabis content whatsoever. Don’t even try. The Google-owned YouTube can be tricky, but it allows cannabis content within reason. Then there’s Instagram and Facebook, both owned by the parent company Meta. Because of the nature of the cannabis audience, Instagram is currently the most important and influential platform, and also the one that gives social media directors absolute fits when it comes to cannabis content.
Jungle Boys, one of the nation’s top cannabis brands, gave a wink to that situation earlier today:
Will Musk change Twitter’s cannabis rules?
The platform Musk just purchased has a reputation as being one of the most liberal in its treatment of cannabis. There’s upside and downside to that.
The upside is that Twitter is the best fit, culturally and temperamentally, with Musk himself. His public persona is much closer to that of the swashbuckling libertarian Jack Dorsey (Twitter’s founder) than to the aggressively flavorless Meta leader Mark Zuckerberg.
If anything, we should expect Twitter’s cannabis policies to relax even further under Elon Musk. Consider this tweet he put out upon the acceptance of his bid this afternoon:
Better gatekeeping, or an ugly free-for-all?
Musk’s championing of free speech could make Twitter the most 420-friendly platform—but it could also turn the entire Twitterverse into an ugly free-for-all of political propaganda, unchecked conspiracy theories, and hate speech.
One year from now Twitter could be the social platform most welcoming to cannabis companies and consumers. But will cannabis companies and consumers want to appear on Twitter one year from now?
It’s not just his company, it’s his voice
Beyond the changes he might enact at Twitter, Musk could change the environment for cannabis simply by virtue of his new role in the social media universe. After hearing about Musk’s bid over the weekend, I reached out to Arend Richard, the founder of WeedTube. Richard has been one of the leading advocates for social media freedom and fairness when it comes to cannabis. He founded WeedTube back in 2018 after finding himself blocked by YouTube for an innocuous cannabis post. Four years later the 420-friendly WeedTube is thriving, readying an ambitious new update to their app expected to launch later this summer.
“As a cannabis business owner and influencer, Twitter has been relatively easy to work with,” Richard told me. “But I want to get in touch with Elon, because we need him to help bring awareness to the situation with Meta” and their platforms.
Richard is currently gathering signatures on a petition demanding that Instagram reform its community guidelines “to treat all legally operating cannabis businesses equally.”
The heart of the grievance? Unequal enforcement, according to the petition:
“Instagram continues to suspend and delete the pages of licensed and legal cannabis companies for violation of their vague and outdated policy prohibiting “attempts by individuals, manufacturers and retailers to purchase, sell or trade” marijuana. This policy is not enforced equally, with large multi-state corporations being allowed to promote their products and locations, while smaller, independent operators lose access to their Instagram pages, which are essential marketing tools in 2022.”
Influence others by eating their lunch
Can Elon Musk demand a change in the policies of Instagram? Of course not. This is a situation where he could force a change, however, by simply opening his arms to cannabis companies and then gaining ground on Insta.
The Meta-owned giant has nearly ten times as many active monthly users as Twitter. Instagram is younger, hotter, and more hip. If a Musk-over of Twitter can change that perception and eat into that lead, Instagram could be forced to reconsider its stodgy and outdated cannabis policies. And that could lead to a change in the other Meta properties as well.
There are no guarantees, but it could work. Elon Musk alone couldn’t force GM and Ford to start making electric cars. The success of Tesla forced them to follow his lead or become obsolete. Let’s see what he can do with social media.
The post Now Musk’s Bought Twitter, Could This End The Cannabis Social Media Ban? appeared first on Cannabiz Africa.
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