Interviews With Cannabis Executives, Investors, Celebrities & Policy Makers

03:07pm ET03/23/2023

Twitter has made a groundbreaking decision to allow ads for CBD and THC products on its platform, sparking conversations among cannabis industry insiders. This topic was discussed during the "Benzinga Live" show on Wednesday, featuring guests who will be speaking at the upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference.

In a first for the social media giant, Twitter executives Alexa Alianiello and Rohan Routroy will attend the conference in Miami Beach on April 11 and 12, marking the first time Twitter will be meeting with cannabis industry executives in a public forum.

Al Harrington, former NBA player and CEO of Viola, expressed excitement about the development. "We continue we breaking down barriers, man."

Harrington believes Twitter's decision is "a huge opportunity for all of us as cannabis brands," and anticipates other platforms will follow suit, much like how the sports world has slowly accepted cannabis use.

Actor and activist Montel Williams also weighed in on the matter.

Williams sees Twitter's decision as an opportunity to educate the masses about the benefits of cannabis. He said, "Twitter may now give us that opportunity to do that and not as veiled as it's been."

Williams urged the industry to use this opportunity to share the wealth of peer-reviewed research on cannabis, educating the public about its medicinal properties.

The actor also called on the industry to shift its focus from business-to-business (B2B) to business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships, emphasizing the need for greater consumer education. He expressed hope that the industry will use this newfound freedom on Twitter to sponsor educational segments and share valuable information with the public.

As the cannabis industry celebrates this landmark decision, it remains to be seen how other social media platforms and industries will respond to this shift.

The upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, featuring Twitter executives discussing cannabis advertising for the first time, is sure to generate even more buzz and conversation around this rapidly changing landscape.

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08:31pm ET03/22/2023

Twitter’s decision to allow ads for CBD and THC products on its platform was a hot topic during the "Benzinga Live" show on Wednesday, which featured guests who will be speaking at the upcoming Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference

Twitter execs Alexa Alianiello and Rohan Routroy will attend the conference, set to take place in Miami Beach on April 11 and 12, marking the first time Twitter will be meeting with cannabis industry executives.

Get your tickets today and enjoy a 35% discount with this TWITTER code! Hurry as the discount ends at midnight on Wednesday, March 22. Benzinga Capital Conference: Cannabis 

The Industry Responds To Twitter

Rob Sechrist, the president of Pelorus Equity Group, weighed in on the news and its impact on the industry. Sechrist praised Elon Musk for becoming an outlier in social media and forcing other platforms to reconsider their stance on controversial topics, namely cannabis advertisements. Sechrist noted that the biggest concern for the cannabis industry is not having access to the benefits of financial and banking services.

The discussion highlighted the challenges facing the cannabis industry and issues that need to be addressed by the federal government to ensure the industry can continue to grow. The CCC is an excellent opportunity to discuss these issues and to hear from industry experts on how they are navigating the landscape.

Twitter allowing cannabis advertising is a milestone for the industry, said Howard Shackter, chief communications officer at MeriMed.

The move is a catalyst, Shackter said, adding that MariMed Inc (OTC:MRMD) is evaluating its options for advertising spending with financial discipline. He noted that the cannabis industry is heavily dominated by retail investors who are unfortunately driven by headlines and that more institutional investors are needed in the space for longer-term investments.

Read also: As Twitter Moves Forward With Cannabis Advertising, Meta Really Should Get With The Program

Emily Paxhia, co-founder of Poseidon Investment Management, agreed that Twitter's recent move to embrace cannabis can be a valuable platform for weed companies to reach a broader audience.

She noted concerns around wholesale pricing and value-tiered products in the market, and the need for companies to be prudent about their balance sheet and not dilute shareholder value.

David Spreckman, executive VP of marketing at Verano Holdings Corp (OTC:VRNOF), likened Twitter’s adoption of marijuana ads to the early days of dispensaries, which were relegated to hidden locations, perpetuating stigmas and stereotypes.

With time and effort, dispensaries became fixtures on Main Street, contributing to the growth of the industry, he said.

Spreckman believes that Twitter's policy change will similarly contribute to the visibility and credibility of the cannabis industry, allowing companies to reach new audiences.

Gina Collins, CMO at Trulieve Cannabis Corp (OTC:TCNNF) said Twitter’s move came at the right time, as the industry is beginning to move towards a more traditional CPG/retail-based model, which emphasizes the importance of branding and customer focus.

Retired NBA star and CEO of ViolaBrands, Al Harrington, said Twitter being the first social media platform to allow cannabis advertising will change the perception of other platforms.

Montel Williams, TV host and cannabis advocate, says the industry has stagnated due to its focus on B2B instead of B2C and that educating the masses is key.

Williams added that every brand and grower should take the opportunity to educate the public on the efficacy of cannabis as a medication.

Simon Espinosa, CEO of En Viola, highlighted the importance of building a community in the cannabis industry. He said Twitter’s adoption is a small victory though it should be recognized and hopes that it will generate a domino effect on other platforms and create a less hostile environment for companies in the cannabis ecosystem.


Get more info HERE on how to buy your CCC tickets today and get a 35% discount. But hurry, the offer ends at midnight Wed. March 22. 

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12:45pm ET03/22/2023

TPCO Holding Corp. (NEO: GRAM.U) (OTCQX:GRAMF), which is doing business as The Parent Company, announced Wednesday the exclusive launch of Cruisers - a new cannabis brand.

Cruisers combines the existing brands of the California-based company - Fun Uncle and DELI - streamlining the products into a single consumer-centric destination. 

The news cannabis brand launches statewide in California on Wednesday, March 22nd, with prime availability in all Parent Company-owned retail locations. 

Providing high-quality distraction from the ordinary, Cruisers offers budget pricing for various cannabis products in all key categories, including best-selling distillate and live resin vapes, whole flower, gummies and preroll products, including the debut of Cruisers' new infused prerolls.

Infused prerolls will be available in the 1g single and the extremely popular 5-pk mini formats.

In addition, Cruisers' new vape products utilize the same unique formulas and flavors that made Fun Uncle the #1 selling value ($20-$30) vape in California, according to BDSA data. Additional products offered at the brand's launch include Cruisers' 1g Infused single prerolls featuring high-THC distillate and a kief coating in flavors like Blueberry Cookies, Strawberry Gelato and Maui Wowie.

"I am thrilled to announce the launch of Cruisers. Combining Fun Uncle and DELI, which are two of our most beloved and disruptive brands, Cruisers will continue to feature

high-quality products at a competitive value price point. In our retail locations, Cruisers will be the best-priced offering in every category it plays in," said Troy Datcher, CEO and chairman of the board at The Parent Company. "The new brand name was inspired by Fun Uncle "Cruisers" Vapes, which quickly became the #1 selling vape in the value segment. As we continue to prioritize building our portfolio of top-tier brands, we are committed to serving our customers' most essential needs through innovative and consistent brands."

Datcher was one of the speakers at last year's Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, which returns this April in Miami Beach.

To celebrate the launch of Cruisers, the Company will host "All Fun Fridays" in-store activations at Caliva San Jose, Varda Pasadena, Calma WeHo and Coastal Santa Barbara starting on Friday, March 24th.

Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference

The most successful cannabis business event in the world, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, returns to Miami for its 16th edition.
This is the place where DEALS GET DONE, where money is raised, M&A starts, and companies meet investors and key partners. Join us at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel in Florida on April 11-12. Don’t miss out.
Secure your tickets now. Prices will surge very soon.

Photo: Courtesy of TPCO Holding Corp.

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01:01pm ET03/19/2023

In light of the latest news regarding the DEA’s telehealth regulations and the closing of two renowned ketamine clinics with facilities in the U.S., Benzinga had the opportunity to interview Jay Godfrey, co-founder of the NYC-based ketamine-assisted therapy center Nushama

This is the second article of a three-part series, you can find the first story of the series here. 

When Benzinga asked whether Nushama is considering entering the telehealth space, Godfrey says the short answer is no. 

“The intermediate answer is: Research thus far has shown that the greatest efficacy and safety is achieved under medical supervision in-clinic. End of story,” he said.

Nushama's protocol works for in-clinic ketamine therapy. Offered for people with a variety of mood disorders, the most common causes that take people to the center are depression and anxiety. 

Further, the recent partnership with major psychedelics company Awakn Life Sciences (OTC:AWKNF) gives Nushama an NYC-exclusive license to the very successful KARE protocol designed for the treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) with which it has begun dosing the first patient last week.

Nushama’s viewpoint is that all of these indications are sourced from unresolved trauma, acting as symptoms of the condition. “Ultimately, what is different about this particular type of treatment and work, is that we are addressing the underlying issue and the underlying trauma,” Godfrey told Benzinga.

With 70% to 80% of patients showing significant improvement, what separates Nushama from many other clinics, says Godfrey, is that they offer integration. He added that the therapy component is a necessity. “Ten percent of it is related to the actual molecule, and 10% of it is the diagnosis. But the vast majority of what we do, that 80%, surrounds the preparation and integration,” Gofrey explained.

While at the moment Nushama does not get involved with people doing ketamine therapy either on their own recreationally or at home, Godfrey says that most people who go into the clinic have tried everything. 

“Not necessarily psychedelics, but have tried antidepressants or SSRIs, or anti-anxiety medications or benzodiazepines, they have tried therapy, and they are effectively treatment-resistant.”

A small subset of patients has gone to Costa Rica or Peru or Colombia and done ayahuasca, or to Jamaica and done psilocybin, yet they ultimately go to Nushama “because there is something unresolved.” 

This, for Godfrey, “underscores the absolute necessity and importance of proper preparation and integration, which they did not have when they went to these other places.”

Treatment-Resistant Diagnosis

All patients at Nushama have a diagnosis. Some are diagnosed with depression and are not treatment-resistant, yet many of them are effectively treatment resistant - meaning they have attempted two separate interventions with existing medications with no success.

“So the bar is pretty low for what is treatment-resistant,” Godfrey says, adding that the clinic founders share the belief that there needn’t be a wait until people are treatment-resistant. 

“That is a very sad commentary about our society if we have to wait for people to look into these treatments as a last resort. We don’t want them to get to the point where it is life or death before they come to see us. Maybe one day this will change and become preventive medicine, but for the time being everybody has a diagnosis.”

After Treatment, Continuing Care

Additionally, Godfrey says, they don’t want people to rely on ketamine (now), or on MDMA or psilocybin (whenever they come). “We want them to rely on themselves and take responsibility.”

That is why, after the 3-6 week ketamine treatment protocol is over, Nushama offers its members free community activities such as weekly integration circles or events involving holotropic breath, sound meditations or sound baths or ceremonies -"a lovely way for people to understand that they can get into their journeys, in that consciousness, without the meds,"- and for those in need, talk therapy

There are some people that do go back for one, or in some cases two or three boosters or refresher sessions. That usually takes place one to three months after the main treatment.

“But ultimately the idea is to take people and change the relationship to the underlying trauma,” Godfrey said. “So many people, whether it is after the sixth and they are done, or whether they need a couple more, our hope and the objective here is to shift them from a consciousness of blame – because something has happened to all of us - into a space of responsibility.”

Interestingly, Godfrey says that Nushama might recommend a patient not to continue with the treatment if it is somewhat made clear that those people are not working towards integrating the insights from their psychedelic journeys.

“We have a lot of demand, and so if somebody does not want to do the work, there is somebody waiting to take that spot. And psychedelics, including ketamine, are not a panacea. For those who come in with the expectations of a panacea or that they are going to go from treatment-resistant to Mahatma Gandhi, part of the preparatory process is really helping to manage those expectations,” Godfrey told Benzinga.

Now Read: Major Ketamine Clinics Chain Decides Not To Pursue Acquisition Deal

Photo: Benzinga edit with photo by Sonis Photography and Hananeko_Studio on Shutterstock and Nushama

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05:09pm ET03/18/2023

Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican Congresswoman from South Carolina, discussed her views on cannabis legalization in the United States and its potential impact on the global scene in an exclusive interview. Mace has been an advocate for cannabis reform, introducing a bill that, in her words, "treats cannabis just like alcohol."

When asked about the implications of cannabis legalization in America for the global scene, Mace expressed her belief that eventually, imports and exports of cannabis would become a reality, much like the alcohol industry.

See also: 5 Times Conservative U.S. Representative Nancy Mace Supported Cannabis Legalization

Addressing the economic aspect of cannabis production and its potential impact on the environment, Mace acknowledged the challenges of growing cannabis in the United States in warehouses with artificial lighting and its large environmental footprint. However, she pointed out that trade has been beneficial in many other industries and would likely benefit the cannabis industry as well. Mace stated, "Trade is good, right? When countries have better trade or greater trade, no matter the product or device or whatever it is you're manufacturing or making or producing, the world is also safer."

Rep. Mace will be a speaker at the most successful cannabis business event in the world, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference.

Returning to Miami for its 16th edition, this is the place where deals get done, where money is raised, M&A starts, and companies meet investors and key partners. Join us at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel in Florida on April 11-12. Don’t miss out.

Secure your tickets now. Prices will surge very soon.

Mace emphasized that prosperous economies around the world lead to less conflict and that she doesn't see cannabis trade as detrimental to the U.S. or other countries. She believes it would ultimately be "good for everybody."

When asked if America will continue to produce the best cannabis in the world, Mace responded with a patriotic "Team USA." However, she acknowledged the value of competition in markets, both internationally and domestically. Mace noted that competition makes "all products better, cheaper, more for every consumer."

Rep. Nancy Mace's stance on cannabis legalization and trade highlights her belief in the power of free markets and the potential for cannabis to become a thriving global industry, benefiting both the United States and other countries around the world.

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03:33pm ET03/17/2023

The struggle of professional athletes with opioid addiction is no secret, and many are now turning to cannabis as a potential alternative to painkillers. A few years ago, a cover piece for Playboy titled "8 Former NFL Players Share Their Thoughts on Cannabis" aimed to raise awareness and stimulate change. However, progress has been slow since then. That said, some pro sports leagues now allow athletes to use CBD for medicinal purposes.

Athletes for Care, a non-profit organization, focuses on helping ex-athletes overcome opioid addiction. Member Eben Britton, a former NFL offensive lineman, envisions a future where athletes have easy access to high-quality cannabis education and products. "Part of my vision with Athletes for Care was to create a channel for athletes to have premium access to high-quality cannabis education and products from medical professionals who can provide expert guidance based on each individual's unique needs," he said in an exclusive interview.

Current research suggests that CBD could be an effective treatment for substance addiction. A study from the Scripps Research Institute found that rats treated with CBD were less likely to relapse or exhibit stress-induced drug-seeking behavior than those who were not given CBD. Dr. Bonni Goldstein, a cannabis-focused medical doctor, explains that "cannabis breaks the cycle of pleasure and reward being programmed by opiates… It breaks the drug-seeking message."

Several former athletes have experienced the benefits of CBD first-hand, and they share their stories to encourage others to explore this natural solution. Ex-MMA fighter Bas Rutten, who used CBD oil to overcome an oxycontin addiction, said, "In 2016, I started using CBD from a company called Receptra Naturals to overcome a horrible addiction to painkillers. After having such amazing success staying off opioids with CBD, I decided to start using it every day. Since then, I've noticed I can train harder, it helps manage my chronic pain, I sleep much better, and it's great for calming down after a hard day of work."

Catch several pro-cannabis pro athletes at the most successful cannabis business event in the world, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference.

Returning to Miami for its 16th edition, this is the place where deals get done, where money is raised, M&A starts, and companies meet investors and key partners. Join us at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel in Florida on April 11-12. Don’t miss out.

Secure your tickets now. Prices will surge very soon.

Former NFL player Leonard Marshall, who was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 2013, advocates for CBD as a non-addictive alternative to painkillers and other opioids often used to treat chronic pain. Marshall recounts his journey with CBD, saying, "I began exploring the benefits of CBD and quickly discovered it had the potential to help my situation, so I decided to give it a try. I have now been using CBD for five years, and my life has become so fruitful and abundant as a result."

Riley Cote, a former hockey player, also credits CBD for improving his post-career life: "CBD has been instrumental in my post-hockey recovery regimen. It has helped me mitigate the collateral damage from the concussions I sustained during my career; it keeps my anxiety in check, I sleep better, and most of all, it provides me with a sense of general well-being."

By sharing their personal success stories with CBD, athletes like Rutten, Marshall, and Cote hope to inspire others to explore this natural solution for pain, inflammation, anxiety, and sleep problems. They believe that while CBD is not a "silver bullet 'cure-all'", it can certainly provide people with a better quality of life by helping to manage various health concerns.

As more athletes join the movement and share their experiences, the conversation around cannabis and CBD as viable alternatives to opioids is expected to gain momentum. By raising awareness and breaking the stigma associated with cannabis use, these athletes hope to make a lasting impact on the lives of countless individuals who are seeking healthier, non-addictive solutions to pain management and overall well-being.


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03:08pm ET03/17/2023

Via El Planteo

NBA legends Allen Iverson and Al Harrington joined forces last year to launch a line of cannabis products and merchandise under The Iverson Collection brand, in partnership with Viola Brands. Amid discussions about the new venture, the conversation shifted to Argentine basketball superstar, Manu Ginobili.

Iverson praised Ginobili, saying, “Manu was one of the greatest shooting guards to ever play the game.” He fondly recalled playing against Ginobili in the Olympics and expressed admiration for his incredible dedication and teamwork.

Harrington agreed, crediting Ginobili with introducing a "euro-style" to the NBA and highlighting his unwavering passion on the court.

But Iverson and Harrington aren't the only big names singing Ginobili's praises. NBA Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson also shared their admiration for the Argentine native during exclusive conversations.

Thomas enthusiastically proclaimed, “I love Manu,” before revealing a personal connection. Thomas' cousin, Willie Scott, played in Argentina and would often tell stories about Ginobili before he joined the NBA. Thomas and Scott shared a special bond with Ginobili, as they taught him a childhood basketball move that he later showcased in the NBA.

Magic Johnson celebrated Ginobili as “one of the most unstoppable offensive forces we’ve seen in the NBA.” Johnson credited Ginobili with inspiring more young Argentinians to take up basketball and helping to grow the sport in a country predominantly passionate about soccer.

Ginobili's impact on basketball goes beyond his remarkable NBA career. As Johnson observed, he opened doors for other Argentinian pros to make their way into the NBA. As a testament to his legacy, even Isiah Thomas had nothing but praise for the Argentine national team's performance at the 2002 World Basketball Championship, recognizing similarities with his own coaching style.

While Manu Ginobili's home country didn't clinch the championship that year, earning recognition from NBA legends like Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson is undoubtedly priceless.

Photo: Zereshk, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons // Edited by El Planteo

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