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The Week in Cannabis: Pfizer, Visa, $730M+ in Financings, Malta, EU, Columbia Care, MedMen, Uruguay and More

Below is a recap of the main news related to the cannabis industry and markets for the week of December 13, 2021.


Pfizer Getting Into Cannabis

Visa vs. Cannabis Retailers

Malta’s Parliament Says Yes To Cannabis




Earnings And Dividends

THC In Blood, Saliva Poor Measures Of Cannabis Impairment

European Union: More THC Percentage Allowed In Industrial Hemp

Columbia Care Becomes First Company To Produce Vape Extract Products In The UK

Cannabis Company Becomes The First To Have THC, CBD Licenses In Uruguay

MedMen To Carry Iconic LA Cannabis Brand Jungle Boys

Top Stories Of The Week

Pfizer Getting Into Cannabis

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is entering the cannabis space via the $6.7 billion acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARNA). The two publicly-traded companies confirmed Monday that they have signed a definitive agreement under which Pfizer will acquire all outstanding shares of Arena for $100 per share in an all-cash transaction.

Pfizer expects to finance the transaction with existing cash on hand upon obtaining all necessary approvals. 

“The proposed acquisition of Arena complements our capabilities and expertise in Inflammation and Immunology, a Pfizer innovation engine developing potential therapies for patients with debilitating immuno-inflammatory diseases with a need for more effective treatment options,” stated Mike Gladstone, global president & general manager, Pfizer Inflammation and Immunology. “Utilizing Pfizer’s leading research and global development capabilities, we plan to accelerate the clinical development of etrasimod for patients with immuno-inflammatory diseases.” Etrasimod is Arena’s drug candidate for the treatment of immune-mediated and inflammatory diseases.

This is not the first time one of the largest pharmaceuticals companies in the world has obtained an interest in a cannabis-related company. Other big players with ties to the cannabis industry include Jazz Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: JAZZ), Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

Visa vs. Cannabis Retailers

The burgeoning recreational marijuana industry – illegal at the federal level yet legal for adults in some 18 U.S. states and DC – has faced multiple challenges throughout the years, mostly because of the Schedule 1 status of the cannabis plant.  

The biggest problem? Banking, of course. 

As in life, retailers have had to find a way to work around the system. Some cannabis merchants have begun using cashless ATMs to bypass limitations on the types of sales payment cards they can legally accept. 

Benzinga Cannabis’ content is now available in Spanish on El Planteo.

One of the largest payment processors in the world, Visa Inc. (NYSE: Vrecently issued a compliance memo to customers warning them that incorrectly coding point-of-sale transactions via cashless ATMs could be penalized or punished by unspecified enforcement procedure.

Visa’s memo from Dec. 2 obtained by Marijuana Moment revealed that the company is “aware of a scheme” in which retailers are utilizing cashless ATMs to avoid limitations on the types of sales for which payment cards are allowed to be used.

“Cashless ATMs are POS devices driven by payment applications that mimic standalone ATMs. However, no cash disbursements are made to cardholders,” the memo clarified. “Instead, the devices are used for purchase transactions, which are miscoded as ATM cash disbursements. Purchase amounts are often rounded up to create the appearance of a cash disbursement.”

Although the Visa directive does not specifically mention cannabis, it highlights that cashless ATMs (also called reverse ATMs) “are primarily marketed to merchant types that are unable to obtain payment services—whether due to the Visa Rules, the rules of other networks, or legal or regulatory prohibitions,” a category that covers marijuana businesses.

Malta’s Parliament Says Yes To Cannabis

Malta is poised to become the first country in Europe to legalize the cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal use.

The first country? What about the Netherlands?

While the Netherlands, and especially Amsterdam, is most commonly associated with cannabis consumption in Europe, marijuana possession and trade are technically illegal there although the Dutch government’s relaxed attitude is well-known.

Proposed Rules In Malta

Under Malta’s proposed bill, possession of up to 7g of cannabis, home cultivation of up to four plants and storing up to 50g of dried marijuana will be legally permitted for those aged 18 and above. Those found in possession of up to 28 grams, on the other hand, will be obliged to pay a €50-€100 fine but will not be subjected to a criminal record.

Owen Bonnici, the minister responsible for the program, told the Guardian that the Maltese government does not want to encourage the use of drugs, but that there’s no scientific proof that marijuana usage leads to abuse of more dangerous substances.

“There is a wave of understanding now that the hard-fist approach against cannabis users was disproportionate, unjust and it was rendering a lot of suffering to people who are leading exemplary lives,” Bonnici said. “But the fact that …

Full story available on

“There is a wave of understanding now that the hard-fist approach against cannabis users was disproportionate, unjust and it was rendering a lot of suffering to people who are leading exemplary lives,” Bonnici said. “But the fact that …

Full story available on

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