From Cannabis Killing 100% Cancer Cells To Snoop Dogg Microwaving His Blunts: Benzinga's Most-Read Marijuana Stories In 2022

Here goes another trying year for the cannabis industry. On the federal level, things happened (Biden’s pardons and marijuana research bill), but still, advocates contend they were not enough (no SAFE Banking Act, no legalization).

These events profoundly impacted the industry in a good, bad and frustrating way and set up the foundations for progress in 2023 but the stories that most resonated with our audience this year included personal success stories, medical breakthroughs, the moves and grooves of celebs and politicians as well as regulatory information.

Month by month, these are the most-read Benzinga cannabis stories in 2022:

January

From Christian Megachurch To Cannabis: The Minister Who Divorced The Pastor's Daughter And Started A Weed Company

Brendon Wilder and his wife Anna launched a new brand, Highest Intent, in Oklahoma City. The brand combines herbs, mushrooms, and cannabis into daily wellness products.

And there's a fascinating backstory.

Brendon and Anna, originally from Dallas, Texas met at a Christian megachurch.

“We had sold our lives to that church,” Brendon says.

“If you’ve seen the show ‘Righteous Gemstones,’ which is hilarious, then you can get an idea of the life that I was living,” Brendon reminisces. “I was traveling with a group called ‘The Power Team’ across America, breaking bricks and baseball bats and performing various ‘feats of strength’ for Christ.”

Brendon was also a full-time minister at his childhood church, which he had attended for 15 years.

“I had clung to religion and ‘God’ my whole chaotic life, but for the first time, a faint voice (my subconscious/intuition) finally became loud enough to hear… it was telling me that I needed to trade this controlling and manipulative place for freedom,” Brendon said.

February 

Mississippi's Main Power Supplier Refuses To Provide Electricity To Any And All Marijuana-Related Sites

After Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Mississippi, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a main supplier of electricity to the state’s northern region, announced that since it is a federally-owned utility company, it must adhere to federal drug laws. So, off with the lights.

How could they?

In a document obtained by the Daily Journal (and confirmed by the TVA), the federal agency states that “Given this important point, TVA will not direct any federal resources or funds to the cultivation and/or distribution of marijuana.” The statement was unclear if municipal companies that receive TVA power can serve electricity to legal cannabis facilities.

March 

Russia Releases Chilling Photo Of WNBA Player Brittney Griner: Questions To Ponder On Women's Day

A chilling booking photo of WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner holding up a piece of paper with her name on it was released by Russian authorities. It's not clear where she was when the photo was taken but Griner was arrested by Russian airport customs agents in February for allegedly having hash oil in her suitcase.

Questions Benzinga pondered on International Women’s Day: This practice of female WNBA athletes playing abroad begs a huge question: why do they do it? The WNBA’s playing season is only four months, which is not much time for players to hone, display and get paid for their skills.

In terms of the latter and perhaps the most glaring is that WNBA players make far, far, far (yes, the author said that three times) less money than their male counterparts. No surprise there but the salary gap is still jarring.

Another question: In that Brittney Griner has been playing basketball in Russia for the past seven years during the off-season from the Phoenix Mercury, why did Russia suddenly decide to arrest her now?

April 

Cannabis And Pancreatic Cancer: Botanical Drug Kills 100% Of Cancer Cells, Research On The Cell Model Reveals

Cannabotech (CNTC.TA), which is involved in the development of a botanical drug based on an extract of the Cyathus striatus fungus and a cannabinoid extract from the cannabis plant, reported that in experiments conducted on a cell model, the fungus extract eliminated 100% of pancreatic cancer cells relatively selectively and without damaging normal cells.

What Happened 

The fungus has been the subject of research to test its anti-cancer efficacy in prof. Fuad Fares' laboratory at the University of Haifa for about eight years. It was selected as the preferred candidate for the development of a drug for pancreatic and colon cancer after showing better anti-cancer results than a variety of other fungi tested. A few months earlier, Cannabotech received global and exclusive rights of use for patents created in Fares' research and began leading an accelerated process of developing a botanical drug as defined by the FDA.

May 

DEA Has Blown It Again' - MMJ Request Federal Court Action For Emergency Motion To Expedite

Megan Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates, attorneys representing MMJ International Holdings and MMJ BioPharma Cultivation et al, scheduled to execute on clinical trials in Huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis, filed a motion in federal court against the Drug Enforcement Administration, asking the federal court for "an emergency motion for irreparable damages."

The DEA gets involved: This motion will hopefully induce the DEA to respond promptly to MMJ's application to manufacture marijuana for research purposes according to the DEA's self-mandated timeline.

The attorneys will argue that "the DEA has blown it again " stated CEO Dr. Elio Mariani citing that the Drug Enforcement Agency is taking too long to issue a determination for its application for cultivation and research.

June

Why Bill Maher Thinks Republicans Are 'Gonna Steal The Issue' Of Marijuana Legalization From Democrats

“Real Time with Bill Maher" host discussed cannabis legalization with former Attorney General Eric Holder on the “Overtime” segment during which he made a provocative prediction.

Maher began with an audience-submitted question: “Why isn't Biden pushing for federal legalization of marijuana?” 

Holder replied: “I think it's probably something we ought to do given the fact that it is something that would have a great political benefit and also deals with the reality. You know people are using marijuana it's being legalized across states.”

Maher lamented: “Republicans are going to steal the issue, I think eventually. I mean someone like John Boehner works for a marijuana company now. I mean it could be one of those freedom issues, and of course, Republicans smoke lots of pot too.”

July 

Senators Booker, Warren, Sanders, And Others Urge Biden To Use His Power And Act On Cannabis Legalization

A group of six U.S. senators pushed the Biden administration to finally use its power and remove cannabis from the list of Schedule 1 substances under federal law. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-ORE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Edward J.Markey (D-MA) sent the urging letter asking the administration to “use its existing authority to (i) deschedule cannabis and (ii) issue pardons to all individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related offenses.”

In their letter to President Biden, AG Merrick Garland and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra the politicians also wrote, “The Administration’s failure to coordinate a timely review of its cannabis policy is harming thousands of Americans, slowing research, and depriving Americans of their ability to use marijuana for medical or other purposes. We ask that the Biden Administration act quickly to rectify this decade-long injustice harming individuals, especially Black and Brown communities.”

August 

Elon Musk Calls This Drug The 'Most Troubling': Is It Marijuana, LSD, Speed, Or Caffeine?

Elon Musk weighed in on the impact of different classes of psychoactive drugs.

The Tesla, Inc. TSLA CEO was reacting to a graphic shared by one of his Twitter followers which showed the results of a study conducted by NASA on the effect of various psychoactive substances on spiders.

The study evaluated the web pattern formed by spiders when fed marijuana, LSD, speed and caffeine. The results of the study published in 1995 showed that the ones given caffeine and LSD produced the most bizarre and incomplete patterns.

Musk chimed in with his view that the effect produced by caffeine was the most concerning.

September 

This Marijuana Stock Has Outperformed Amazon, Google, Facebook And Netflix

Investors who believed in the potential of U.S. cannabis operator TerrAscend TRSSF some five years ago surely enjoyed their solid gains in 2022.

TerrAscend has vertically integrated operations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan and California, in addition to licensed cultivation and processing activities in Maryland and licensed production in Canada. The company runs an award-winning chain of dispensary locations, known as The Apothecarium, as well as Gage and Cookies retail stores.

Go TerrAscend!

Over the last five years, TerrAscend’s stock outperformed some of the most popular stocks in the world, such as Amazon AMZN, Netflix NFLX, Meta Platforms Inc META (previously Facebook) and Alphabet GOOGL.

October

John Fetterman Vs. Dr. Oz: A Medical Professional Weighs In On Fetterman's Debate Performance And She's Fuming

Five months after Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s stroke, which nearly killed him, PA's Democratic nominee for the US Senate – the results of which will shift the balance in said Senate – went toe-to-toe with multimillionaire TV host Dr. Oz in their first and only debate. As predicted, they disagreed over just about everything including hot-button issues like abortion, the economy, cannabis, healthcare, crime and a certain former Republican president who hovers over numerous midterm electoral campaigns.

While all of the above was roundly discussed, analyzed and picked over after the debate, most media reports led with commentary about Fetterman’s “halting speech,” “lingering effects from his stroke,” and “Fetterman’s struggle to effectively communicate.” Some even called Fetterman’s auditory issues “heartbreaking.” 

Fetterman, by the way, addressed the issue right at the beginning. “Let’s also talk about the elephant in the room: I had a stroke,” he said in his opening remarks, adding “He’ll never let me forget that.” He was referring to the various occasions when Oz mocked and goaded Fetterman for refusing to debate, which Fetterman said he'd do after he fully recovered his speech.

November 

Snoop Dogg Microwaves His Blunts Before Smoking And For Good Reason, Here's Why

Snoop Dogg, our generation’s king of all things weed, never ceases to surprise. His latest blunt-smoking modus operandi involves putting a fully-rolled joint into the microwave for 11 seconds, which he says helps to “trap all the ingredients.”

Why you might be wondering? Let’s look at the science, which Snoop obviously did. 

You may have heard the word decarboxylation, which in organic chemistry speak means the removal of one or more carboxyl groups (a combination of two functional groups attached to a single carbon atom), from a molecule. In weed speak, this refers to the process of heating up cannabis to a specific temperature to activate the compounds in it. While it may sound like something to be done in a chemistry lab or at least with a special decarb machine (which exists by the way), you can also decarb your cannabis at home with the appliances in your kitchen, like the simple microwave. 

December

Paralyzed Dad With MS Replaces 75 Pills A Day With Cannabis And Gets Back On His Feet

“A healthy man wants a thousand things, a sick man only wants one,” goes the popular and very true saying.

Tony Paterson, 33, was admitted to the hospital for an eye quint operation. After undergoing an MRI scan in January 2011, he was diagnosed with MS. Like so many life scenarios, the horrible diagnosis came the day after he was hired for his dream job as a chef with Gleneagle hotel.

To make things worse, his condition was rapidly progressing and forcing Paterson to use a cane to walk and then a wheelchair. He went back to his parent’s home where they could take care of him, writes Nottingham Post.

"I couldn't work and I was on so many tablets and struggled with brain fog, confusion, memory issues, mobility issues, my bowels and bladder,” he said.

When his daughter Zevanna was born in 2014, he regained power and again began a search for other solutions. Lo and behold, he came upon an NHS research project examining the effect of medical marijuana, so he enrolled in the trial.

Paterson then ditched his other medications - all 75 pills - in favor of cannabis. After only 10 months, he was back on his feet and is now a regular cyclist. Together with his brother, Jordan, he owns and runs a removal company.

Photo: Benzinga edit with Thecomeupshow via Wikimedia Commons, National Cancer Institute on Unsplash,  TED Conference on Flickr, Shutterstock

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