The eyes of the cannabis industry continue to shift east, as Massachusetts opens its first recreational dispensaries. But a neighbor is trying to do something much bigger even without expanding beyond medical use.

I noted last week that the eyes of the cannabis industry would be moving East with markets like New York and New Jersey on the cusp of cannabis prohibition’s end.

Those will be great markets – but they’re officially playing catchup as of today.

That’s because Massachusetts shattered a glass ceiling this morning by becoming the first state on the Eastern Seaboard to sell recreational cannabis to adults legally.

A pair of dispensaries opened for business today.

The program is in need of a quick buildout to meet demand, but in time the potential market in the state will total between 6.3 million and 6.8 million adults.

The first customers of the respective stores will be a pair of veterans who were chosen ahead of time by the dispensary operators, according to the Boston Globe newspaper. That’s pretty smart, actually – there’s no downside to letting a couple of proud Americans who fought for their country be forever known as the state’s first customers.

It’s especially moving considering one of them is a recovering prescription opioid user who got addicted to them while treating PTSD, chronic pain, and a traumatic brain injury he incurred while serving in the U.S. Army, the Globe noted. He sounds similar to the veteran who convinced former speaker of the House John Boehner to change his tune and become an advocate for legal cannabis.

Hopefully, you saw our powerful video about that importance of cannabis as a highly effective treatment for PTSD.

The only down side for this customer is this: He’ll be paying full price, out of pocket well beyond today. U.S. insurance companies won’t defray the costs like they do for other types of medications, including the aforementioned opioid-based painkillers.

No U.S. state has followed Germany‘s model that has drawn rave reviews from international health researchers and cannabis company executives alike.

But that could change suddenly and not far down the road from America’s two newest dispensaries. It’s a development that will be a much bigger game-changer than Massachusetts going full legal.

You really need to know about this…

New York to Tap Insurance Companies for Cannabis Costs

A bill in the New York legislature aims to help foot the bill for its residents’ medical cannabis purchases.

The New York bill would require publicly funded health programs in the state to pay for medical cannabis. We’re talking about Medicaid (the state program), Child Health Plus, worker compensation, and EPIC, as well as the Essential Plan, which is largely funded by the public.

The bill would also allow state regulators to certify medical cannabis dispensaries as Medicaid providers for the sole purpose of dispensing cannabis.

Not only does it represent a significant acknowledgement by state authorities of the potential game-changing medicinal benefits of cannabis, it also marks the start of a lucrative trend. And it could well set up New York to be the key cannabis market – at the register and in policy – on the East Coast.

This could be a HUGE game changer for Congress (and for you). We just held a live event with former Speaker of the House John Boehner and the most powerful people in the cannabis world for one important reason… to help you make a fortune from America’s most controversial, misunderstood, and lucrative industry. If you missed seeing this historic event LIVE – and John Boehner’s SHOCKING prediction – click here for a special rebroadcast.

The bill would also allow state regulators to certify medical cannabis dispensaries as Medicaid providers for the sole purpose of dispensing cannabis.

Members of New York’s Senate have called it a primary goal to investigate alternatives to tackle devastating public health hazards like the chronic pain and addiction issues behind the opioid crisis.

As the credible research efforts stack up in a hurry, lawmakers see cannabis as a viable treatment.

For months, the state has also been expanding its list of qualifying conditions for its medical marijuana program. In its latest move in July, the New York State Department of Health updated its qualifying conditions list to include opioid replacement. That gives the issue additional attention and likely support as the opioid epidemic continues to grab headlines throughout the country.

Through mid-year, there were 62,256 certified patients in New York and 1,735 registered practitioners participating in the medical cannabis program.

And the Health Department will certainly need to update that count soon, as a lot more qualifying patients continue to enter the program.

That’s great news for cannabis investors jumping into the best stocks in the industry. There are already a number of large U.S. companies with significant operations in New York. MedMen Inc., for example, famously has a storefront on 5th Avenue, the heart of Manhattan’s shopping district, just a few blocks south of Time Square.

To consider the potential of this, look what happened in Germany since it opened up its medical cannabis program last year…

The German Connection Could Pave a Golden Path

About 18 months ago, a couple of the National Institute for Cannabis Investors’ top researchers ran into Michael Gorenstein, the wonder-CEO of Cronos Group, in Washington, D.C. The native New Yorker had spent most of the day fielding questions about just-announced recreational legalization plans in Canada. But that was not what was on his mind.

What Gorenstein was most interested in talking about was Germany. He had a lot more interest in the medical side of marijuana at the time, particularly in emerging overseas markets. It was for one big reason: insurance money.

In places like Germany and a growing list of others overseas, medical marijuana patients are reimbursed for up to 100% of their product purchases. That means a ton of revenue coming to suppliers from a single, reliable source.

Even then, Gorenstein saw the opportunity as the most exciting thing on the horizon. He’s not alone in spending so much time talking about foreign markets anymore.

Some of the biggest cannabis players on the market – firms like Canopy Growth Corp., Aurora Cannabis Inc., and Tilray Inc. – have been obtaining licenses in and scrambling to get a foothold as suppliers to Germany’s medical cannabis market.

The German medical market is one of the largest in the world. At this point, sales are completed entirely through the country’s potential pool of some 20,200 pharmacies. The kicker here is that 70 million German residents have the ability to search for a statutory health insurance plan that covers their medical marijuana needs.

Millions of new German cannabis customers will enter the market over the next couple of years.

In 2017, Germany imported 520 kilograms of medical cannabis from Canada alone. And Germany has to rely on imports to meet all of its medical cannabis needs at least until 2020, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

Canopy CEO Bruce Linton, who sat down with the Institute‘s Editorial Director Brian Shappell for an exclusive interview in Toronto recently, certainly sees the upside. Linton has said the German market made up about 10% of the firm’s overall sales in the previous quarter. And he thinks the medical market, worldwide, has the potential to eclipse other cannabis markets in years to come.

But insurance paying for a portion or all of medical cannabis patients’ costs in United States would be the biggest possible shoe to drop in the medical marijuana space. New York is trying to take the first step, but they’ll have company soon enough. I guarantee you that multiple other states are already looking into this, even if they won’t admit it on the record.

So, for now, Germany remains ahead of the curve. That is exactly why the best cannabis companies – and those investing in them – are learning from what’s happening over there.

New York officials (and those from other states) – not to mention the Institute – will be watching these fast-moving, yet underreported developments in the industry play out abroad – for now.

I’ll be back tomorrow to get into another exciting, rapid-paced segment of the cannabis industry: IPOs. It’s astounding just how much activity has taken off in 2018, with more on the way.

Thanks for being an important member of the National Institute for Cannabis Investors,

Greg Miller
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors

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