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New York based beverage giant, Constellation Brands, made headlines again this week when it reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to help with the sale of its U.S. wine portfolio.

Worth an estimated $40 billion, Constellation Brands hopes to raise $3 billion, in an effort to support its shift from wine and spirits, to craft beer and cannabis.

According to the report, while wine sales are still the majority of its business, Constellation is looking to sell off its less popular assets, some of which are Clos Du Bois, Arbor Mist, and Cooks. The higher end wines like Robert Mondavi are not being included in the deal.

In recent years, wine sales have slumped in the U.S., signaling a shift in preference by the younger generation. It is also clear that craft beer and cannabis are here to stay (Constellation Brands Invests Heavily in Cannabis Industry).

When reached for comment, a spokesman for Constellation brands made the following statement:

"While we don't comment on rumors/speculation, what I can say is consistent with what we said on our earnings call on Oct. 4. We continue to focus on driving growth organically, and through acquisition and innovation at the higher end of our wine and spirits portfolio, which has consistently grown 3-4 times the U.S. market rate.

We are also considering a variety of potential actions to optimize value at the low end of our portfolio, so we can direct our growth efforts and investment dollars more fully towards our focus brands."

Constellation Brands began as a small wine producer in New York in 1945, but found massive success after it acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Corona and Modelo from AB InBev in 2013. Imported beers have soared in popularity in recent years, which has bolstered the brands sales, as domestic beer and wine lose significant market share every quarter.

After its $3.8 billion dollar investment in Canopy Growth (38% stake), and now this divesting of its wine portfolio, it is clear that the family owned business intends on moving into the nascent marijuana industry at full speed.

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New Netflix Series "Murder Mountain" Is A Must Watch!

One of the newest shows added to Netflix this month, "Murder Mountain", takes a hard look at Humboldt county, California, the epicenter of cannabis cultivation in the United States.

When most people think of marijuana, they think of being stoned and getting the munchies, but in this 6 part mini-seres we learn that not all things cannabis are warm and fuzzy.

Since 1977, Humboldt County, a quiet, remote stretch of land in the heart of what is known as the "emerald triangle"(Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt counties), has consistently reported more missing people per capita than the entire state of California.

While there are simple explanations to some of these disappearances, the cold hard truth is that a large portion of them can be tied to the black market marijuana industry (which continues to flourish despite the legalization of recreational cannabis last January).

Why do so many people that work on cannabis grows in Humboldt go missing? It is hard to pinpoint the cause in each case, but over the years it has been proven that young kids will flock to the area in hopes of making big money on marijuana, only to find out the harsh reality of life on a grow. Long hours of hard labor, very little pay and the possibility of being subjected to violence and abuse.

With over 15,000 illegal grows and the black market booming, it is no surprise these workers, known as "trimmigrants", make the trek to the emerald triangle despite all the well known negative aspects of the work.

Murder Mountain focuses on one individual in particular, Garrett Rodriguez, who moved to Humboldt to work on a cannabis farm so he could afford to take over his family property in Mexico. Despite finding success in Humboldt, it wasn't long before Garrett's phone calls to his father stopped, leaving his family to wonder what had become of him.

Watch the trailer below!



Montanha Mortal (Murder Mountain) | Trailer da temporada 01 | Legendado (Brasil) [HD] www.youtube.com

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New York State Association of Counties Preps for Legal Pot

Yesterday morning, Steven Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties, appeared on the Capital Press Room with Susan Arbetter.

In response to Governor Cuomo's Address at the New York City Bar Association on Monday, Acquario weighed in on Cuomo's plan to legalize marijuana across the state.

While cannabis would provide counties with much needed resources for education and public assistance, executive director Acquario was not exactly "championing" this cause, due to the severity of the opioid epidemic that has taken over the lives of many New Yorkers.

Acquario said "this is a major shift in public policy and we have been combatting an opioid epidemic, it's confusing, it's a confusing issue to teenagers and families in New York." He goes on to say "to introduce marijuana policy during a drug crisis is confusing, there are a lot of issues surrounding the legalization of recreational marijuana, this issue needs to be engaged with local governments."

Another issue he raised concerns the use of the term "recreational" with cannabis. There is a lot of pushback using this word as it makes people fearful that impressionable children will be encouraged to use cannabis or try it for the first time, because it is now considered a "recreation."

According to Acquario, the largest area of concern is public health, specifically, the issues of teen access to cannabis, the regulation of the clean indoor air act, and coordination with Big Tobacco. "We are telling kids that it is not ok to smoke tobacco, but that it is ok to smoke marijuana?" He makes an interesting point here, one that definitely requires consideration before we unleash a multibillion dollar drug market on one of the most populous states in the country.

It is also important to get the tax structure right, Acquario references California, where there is a massive black market of marijuana, as a result of the state's failure to appropriately set tax rates on the sale of cannabis. It is important that Governor Cuomo learn from the mistakes of the other states that have legalized cannabis, New York is a huge state with enormous potential for revenue, which all hinges on our ability to get the program right from the beginning.

What is the counties role in all of this? Consumer protection and public health. the New York State Association of Counties has met with the Governor and voiced their concerns. It is now up to Governor Cuomo and his handpicked team to take New York to the forefront of the recreational cannabis market in the U.S.



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NJ Announces Approval of 6 More Medical Pot Dispensaries

Doubles Program

Despite having such a hard time moving forward with legalizing recreational cannabis, today the state announced the approval of six more medical marijuana dispensaries.

This move has doubled the size of the program and couldn't have come sooner! The second half of 2018 has been rough for medical marijuana patients in New Jersey, who have been hit with product shortages and lots of red tape which has significantly slowed down progress of the medical program.

According to a report by NJ.com, the following six locations will be open for business:

NETA NJ, LLC. - Phillipsburg, NJ

GTI New Jersey, LLC. - Paterson, NJ

Verano NJ, LLC - Rahway, NJ (grow), Elizabeth, NJ (dispensary)

Justice Grown - Ewing, NJ

MPX New Jersey - Galloway (cultivation), Atlantic City (dispensary)

Columbia Care New Jersey - Vineland

These 6 businesses were chosen out of a staggering 146 that applied during the august application period. Each business will still need further approval from the Department of Health before their status is finalized.

Included in the steps for final approval are background checks, approval from the municipality the business plans to operate in, as well as full compliance with all regulations adopted by the medical program in New Jersey.

"Six very strong applicants were selected, including minority-owned and women-owned businesses," Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said. "We will meet with them early next year to refine their timetable for growing product and opening their doors."

Elnahal continues "We are committed to an equitable expansion of supply to meet growing patient demand, and these new locations will reach patients that currently have to travel longer distances to obtain their therapy."

Hopefully, this is just the beginning for New Jersey. With a program that has added more than 20,000 new patients in the last year, it is imperative that a reliable supply chain be established. The question on a lot of people's minds, will Governor Phil Murphy make good on one of his biggest campaign promises by legalizing marijuana for adult use in the state?