80% Of Vape Products Could Be Fakes

80% Of Vape Products Could Be Fakes

Original Article: Green Market Report: 80% Of Vape Products Could Be Fakes

[Canniseur: I don’t generally use vape pens because I don’t know exactly what’s in the cartridge. The ingredient label on the side can be fake. Perhaps solo sciences’ product is a way to help us know exactly what’s in those carts.]

In a time of designer bags, jewelry, shoes, and a slew of other consumer goods being knocked off, the cannabis industry has also fallen victim to counterfeit products.

Imagine going into what you believe is a legitimate cannabis dispensary or online shop and being sold what you think is a King Pen, Brass Knuckles, or Heavy Hitter vape, only to find that in comparison to what you’re inhaling, “you’re better chewing on lead paint”.

This is an occurrence more common than we think within the cannabis industry, according to Ashesh (Alex) Shah, CEO and co-founder of solo sciences the consumer-products intelligence company dedicated to preserving the integrity of the cannabis industry as a whole by protecting cannabis consumers from potentially harmful bogus products.

The Extent of Counterfeit Cannabis

Solo sciences dug into their own research and estimate that up to 80% of all packaged cannabis products appearing within the cannabis market, both illicit and legal, are counterfeit. This means that 8 in 10 times, cannabis consumers around the U.S. are consuming products that have not been distributed through licensed providers, manufacturers, distribution companies, and retailers. Most common cannabis products being knocked off are vape pens, trying to represent the big brands of that product category.

Just a Google Search away, people with less than honest intentions can access knock-off packaging from cannabis brand giants, to fill with low-quality oils, or in some cases, products that don’t contain any cannabis at all. With so many new consumers putting their trust in the hands of dispensaries and budtenders being sold counterfeit packaged cannabis products, Shah remarks that “It’s a perfect storm that could mean the end to the industry.”

A Tool to Protect Industry Integrity

“Major brands are being misrepresented,” says Shah, as licensed brands only legally do business with licensed retailers. To fix this, Shah, along with co-founder Kate Flannery, solo* is bringing to the cannabis industry technology yet unseen by the industry, and the anti-counterfeit solutions industry as a whole.

The world and the industry’s first cryptographically secure cannabis product authentication system, solo*CODE™ is the first-of-its-kind, closed-loop intelligent authentication system for cannabis products. The platform uses an app to decipher uniquely encoded labels that create a “digital fingerprint” that can only be used and decoded by the solo* app. What is produced is a product authenticity report that acts as a certification for cannabis brands, telling the consumer that the product is 100% authentic.

With 80% of products estimated to be counterfeit, the problem is mostly exacerbated by online retailers that get their materials mostly from China. Disposable counterfeit vape cartridges either comes pre-filled with mystery oil or is sent empty for the retailer to fill. Since there is no regulatory body overseeing what is going into these products, it could be low-grade oil, pesticide-ridden products, or even synthetic cannabinoids, which have proven to be fatal in some cases.

As the black market continues to thrive, unlicensed shops also add to the problem of pushing counterfeit packaged cannabis products. For instance, according to the Los Angeles Times, more than 200 illegal dispensaries operate in L.A. alone, which could be a conservative estimate.

“The world of cannabis is murky, unpredictable, and often not safe,” said Ashesh (Alex) Shah, CEO and founder of solo sciences in a company press release. “As brands and governments are struggling to fight the illicit market, we created solo* to solve that problem by creating transparency into what cannabis providers are actually selling to consumers. solo* is designed to keep people out of the dark when it comes to what they’re consuming and putting into their bodies, so they feel secure and knowledgeable about the products they’re purchasing.”

According to Flannery, the solo* app is about “putting the power into the hands of the consumer”, allowing the consumer themselves, not a budtender at a possibly unlicensed shop to tell them what products are authentic.

Data Experts Playing “Data Judo”

Solo sciences is not your average cannabis data company brought together to sling just another data set into the cannabis space. Shah is a former CIA Profiling Specialist on the Presidential Task Force holding 8 patents, while Flannery is a former consultant in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, working among the likes of Medtronic, Philips Healthcare, and Hospira/Pfizer. Filling out the team of 20 employees at solo sciences are former members of the CIA, DEA, and advanced professionals in the technology of detection. The development of solo*CODE involved “image processing containing the most complicated algorithms,” according to Shah. “This is beyond a QR code,” he adds.

Solo sciences came across the platform and its potential “accidentally, but it’s become the most important part of our product”, said Flannery to Green Market Report.

The solo* app couldn’t be easier to use for the consumer, and it not only empowers the consumer with information about the legitimacy of their product but also invites the consumer to provide feedback on their experience with their product.

How solo* Works

Through building widespread awareness among the cannabis community, consumers will recognize the solo* label on cannabis products, which will invite them to scan the code into their phone via the app. Information about the possible side effects (as reviewed by a doctor), THC:CBD ratio and other product attributes, package and dosage details, and producer information with the license number will appear to confirm a product’s legitimacy.

Following this authentication process, consumers are invited to provide feedback on their product after its use, prompted by a series of interactive questions that will ask the consumer their mood along with their level of energy, focus, and even their level of confidence. “This allows us to close the loop and provide intel to brands from the voice of the individual,” explains Shah.

Shah also explains that the emergence of solo* “puts the screws to brands to be transparent” in offering product information to this platform that will eventually make its way directly into the hands of the consumers. The platform allows for transparency upstream and downstream, something that Shah refers to as “data judo” to Green Market Report, by working with manufacturers to help ensure customer safety. “Consumers also have a level of expectation around technology when it comes to the data that’s available to them,” adds Flannery. “This helps everyone on all sides,” remarks Shah.

Spreading Authentication Across the Industry

In addition to publicly unveiling its cannabis authentication product, solo sciences also announced today that more than 1.2M units with the solo*CODE™ will start shipping in August through its partnership with Vertical Companies, a seed-to-sale multi-state operator.

“We’re proud to be a launch partner for solo*CODE™,” said J. Smoke Wallin Vertical Wellness CEO in solo science’s press release, “We demand the highest standards in terms of product safety and excellence. We want the distributors in our network to know that our brands and CBD products they’re selling in stores or online are the real things. Through the solo*CODE™, consumers can get a download of exactly what’s going into their bodies, in real-time through the mobile app. This builds trust and transparency and should be the industry standard across the industry.”

To date, solo* has partnered with 53 cannabis brands to join forces with the new cannabis authentication system. It’s expected to ship more than 9 million encoded units into the market over the next 12 to 24 months.

Original Article: Green Market Report: 80% Of Vape Products Could Be Fakes

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Initiates Coverage On Cannabis Industry

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Initiates Coverage On Cannabis Industry

Original Article: Green Market Report: Bank of America Merrill Lynch Initiates Coverage On Cannabis Industry

[Canniseur: For U.S. investors, this is the kind of news you’ll like. BAML cannabis coverage signals further normalization of the industry. There will be a lot of huge companies entering the marketplace over the next several years.]

It was a significant move for the financial industry and the cannabis industry when Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) released a 62-page report entitled “A cannabis world… and more people are living in it.”

The opening line “Cannabis has been vilified, but as governments re-assess economic, social, and medical benefits, we estimate a global $166bil industry is emerging from the shadows,” sets the overall tone of the highly informative and detailed report that covers a global financial current snapshot and future projections along with a high degree of cannabis education as a necessary accompaniment.

Green Market Report combed through this detailed report to find some poignant highlights brought forth by Bank of America Merrill Lynch in their analysis of the growing global cannabis market:

Global Current Worth and Future Worth

The report estimates the total addressable market (TAM) to be $166 billion, with $150 billion being housed in illicit markets. This is comparable to BDS’ estimate of the current legal market worth being $15 billion in 2019.

Global Cannabis Market Cap

With the top 4 cannabis companies in the world being Canadian Licensed Producers (LPs), the current global cannabis market cap is $150 billion across 150 companies worldwide.

Canadian Cannabis Stocks & Retail Value

BAML quotes Canada’s legalization process as “a choppy start”, with retail stores bringing in an average of $50 million per month between November 2018 and January 2019. They cite the lack of retail stores within Canadian provinces and cities as a challenge that is preventing further financial growth.

U.S. Cannabis is the Largest Global Market

The U.S. based publicly traded cannabis companies account for $25 billion in market cap – roughly 1/3 of the global sector’s value. In the U.S. 73% of all licenses are in 5 states.

Mergers, Acquisitions & Capital Raises

The report detailed that there had been an increase of 108% year over year in mergers and acquisitions for 2018. In 2018 there were 245/74 public/private transactions vs. 121/32 public/private transactions in 2017. There were 597 capital raises (an increase of 295% year over year) in 2018 vs 436 in 2017.

Potential for Canadian Investment in U.S. Companies

BAML makes a strong suggestion that Canadian companies invest in U.S. companies before the federal laws change, citing CBD as the first investment opportunity and “locking in” asset prices for companies that won’t be active until laws change as another way to take advantage of investing in U.S. companies.

Product and Brand Development as Key

In their projections, BAML offers that product and brand development will have the highest margin potential, with innovation being a key indicator. Specific brand and product development innovation indicators include products with increased bioavailability and those who have demonstrated onset/offset.

Areas Exposed to Market Risk

While all areas of cannabis are proving to have short-term results, BAML predicts that cultivation, extraction, distribution, and retail will have significant future challenges due to low market structure. Among the factors affecting this future, change is the improvement of the supply chain, predicting cannabis supply will surpass domestic consumption by 2021. This will result in “pricing pressure” and lower pricing and cultivation margins.

Within these areas of future risk, it’s predicted that extraction companies have a current advantage due to high demand in the near-term, but in the long-term do not offer a competitive advantage, unless they evolve into their own brand and product development. Distribution companies have a current advantage with brands that resonate with consumers, but due to low margin structure may not have a long-term advantage. Existing retailers have a profit advantage due to their scarcity, yet they too will become affected by the pricing pressure.

Cannabis as a “Disruptive Ingredient”

BAML calls cannabis a “disruptive ingredient” with a $600 billion potential in North America. The report expects that we’ll be seeing more of this disruptive ingredient in energy and sports drinks, pharmaceuticals, beverages and alcohol, and skin care. Globally, cannabis could potentially be a disruptive ingredient to the tune of $2.6 trillion.

CBD as Key to Increased Spending

Not surprisingly, BAML credits CBD spending as one of the largest sources of global growth, with $6.6 billion in global spending on CBD growing to $39.2 billion by 2032.

If anything, this report demonstrates a significant paradigm shift from cannabis once being the green villain, to now bringing green dollar signs to the eyes of the financial industry’s biggest giants.

 

Original Article: Green Market Report: Bank of America Merrill Lynch Initiates Coverage On Cannabis Industry

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