A local government in Estonia has approved using a flag with an image of a cannabis leaf as its symbol after an online poll overwhelmingly voted for it.
The name of the region, Kanepi, in southeastern Estonia, is derived from "kanep", the Estonian word for cannabis that their ancestors grew and processed into cloth, oil and ropes more than 150 years ago.
The need for a new flag came about after several different local government areas merged into the larger Kanepi.
An open online poll in January collected more than 12,000 votes for the cannabis symbol, despite the population of the rural district and village of Kanepi being less than 5000.
Nine members of the council then voted for the flag with eight against.
Kanepi council member Arno Kakk, who voted against the new symbol, told Reuters after the vote on Tuesday: "I must say that I am not for the fact that we will be marching under this kind of a flag."
Council chairman Kaido Koiv, who supported adopting the leaf, said the process "was very democratic", despite questions raised over the numbers involved in the online poll, and saw no reason to reject the symbol.
Drugs are illegal to sell in Estonia. Possession and use of small quantities of cannabis for personal use is a misdemeanour punishable with a fine.
An elderly couple has invested $1000 of life savings in medicinal cannabis to secure future finances for their 20 great grandchildren.
Ned and Kura Tibble, both 83, each bought 500 $1 shares in licensed cannabis grower Hikurangi Enterprises through Waiapu Investments on Sunday.
They planned to divvy up the shares and transfer them to their great-grandchildrens names.
The Tibbles were two of 550 locals in the poor East Coast region who have collectively invested more than $1 million in the company preparing to produce medicinal cannabis.
The minimum amount locals could invest was $50. Their daughter Rewa Stewart bought 2500 shares. She would give her seven grandchildren 100 shares each when they turned 21, she said.
Hikurangi holds a Ministry of Health licence to grow low-THC cannabis for research and development purposes. It has a 5000-plant harvest on private land in Ruatoria, near Gisborne.
Using cannabis for any reason, including as medicine, is illegal in New Zealand but this is being debated by Parliament. The health committee heard submissions on proposed legislation to legalise medicinal cannabis use and production last week.
Ned Tibble said he and his wife knew Hikurangi was a risky investment but they were confident medicinal cannabis would be legalised and they would see a return.
"We believe in it. When you invest I anything I believe it's risky. This is the last roll of the dice for us, we're 83-years-old."
Their son read them the investment information provided by Hikurangi before they invested, he said.
If medicinal cannabis was not legalised, or Hikurangi was not issued a licence to produce it, the shareholders' investment would be put towards Hikurangi's other health-focused businesses instead, the investment memorandum said.
It forecasts Hikurangi's cannabis growing subsidiary to post a profit of more than $5.7m in four years, paying a 16 cent dividend per share.
Hikurangi managing director Manu Caddie said a large number of investors were grandparents and great-grandparents investing for their mokopuna.
The company visited several East Coast towns to educate locals wanting to invest about the company's plan and the political situation it is bound by.
It made it very clear that investment was risky, Caddie said.
Hikurangi's public crowdfunding campaign on PledgeMe to raise another $1m would open at 7pm on Tuesday.
Caddie hopes to raise another $4m from instiutional investors and be granted another $3 to $4m by the Government should medicinal cannabis be legalised.
The company has talked about the benefit it could bring to the poor region as an employer. If legalisation allowed for export, it claims it could hire more than 100 more local people in one year and make $1 billion in three years.
It planned to use shareholder money to build a production facility in the region, Caddie said.
Tibble said his region needed an industry like medicinal cannabis production to survive.
Other industries that previously promised employment in the region had failed, he said.
"All we want is for employment for our people. They need it badly. If this is the way to do it, we're all for it."
The health committee is due to publish a report on submissions on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill on July 30, before it is read for the second time in Parliament.
Investors in a company aiming to become New Zealand’s first medical cannabis producer last night broke the equity crowdfunding platform, PledgeMe just before the offer opened.
Ruatorea’s Waiapu Investments had planned to open their campaign to invest in Hikurangi Cannabis Company last night but ten minutes before the campaign opened to the public the PledgeMe servers were overloaded and crashed. It took a team of PledgeMe technicians two hours to recover the site and the offer page will open instead tonight (Wednesday 9 May) at 7pm.
"The support that we’ve had from all over New Zealand over the last six months has been massive" says Waiapu Investments director, Panapa Ehau. "We have a passionate crowd who believe in us and the level of support last night was literally overwhelming. Everybody was frustrated by the crash and we are humbled by the support for our vision of creating a new industry - from seed to sale - that works to transform our people, our land and the health and wellbeing of people everywhere."
Over one million dollars has already been raised by Waiapu Investments from a roadshow through East Coast communities over the past week.
"Giving our whanau and local supporters the first opportunity to invest in us was a crucial part of our plans. The success of Hikurangi Cannabis will be owned and shared amongst our community."
Investors purchased shares in Waiapu Investments Limited, an investment vehicle that will invest the money raised into Hikurangi Cannabis. Up to $2 million raised through the crowdfunding process will be used to build a high tech pharmaceuticals processing facility and plant growing operations in Ruatorea and to carry out phase one clinical trials for a New Zealand made medical cannabis product. Hikurangi Cannabis has applied for a Medical Cannabis Cultivation Licence from the Ministry of Health, and the investment from Waiapu Investments will be made once that licence has been granted.
PledgeMe co-founder and CEO Anna Guenther acknowledged the crash was unacceptable.
"This was a fail, and we're really sorry for the confusion and frustration it caused. We recently upgraded to Amazon Web Services - a secure cloud services platform, offering compute power, database storage, content delivery - designed to stop server issues from occurring on large campaigns. After two issue-less million dollar campaigns, we thought scaling servers wouldn't be a problem. We were wrong. We have well and truly learnt that medical cannabis is more exciting than organic unbaked goods and craft breweries. Three of our team have sorted the issue, and we'll be ready for 7pm tonight."
Once the campaign has met its maximum goal, interested investors can join the waiting list for future capital raises here: pldg.me/hikurangi
How to buy shares:
To ensure you have the best chance of getting the shares you want we recommend doing the following BEFORE 7pm Wednesday 9th May:
Once you have completed all of this you will receive an email confirming you are registered as an investor with PledgeMe.
At 7pm Wednesday 9th May you can login into PledgeMe and search for the Waiapu Investments offer. When you go to that page there will be a box on the righthand side of the page.
You enter the amount you want to invest and press the 'Pledge' button.
From there you will be taken to a page that asks you if you wish to pay by Direct Transfer (internet/phone/physical bank transfer) or by Debit/Credit Card. Enter your preference in here. Even if you choose Bank Transfer, you will need a debit/credit card as a placeholder. This is a requirement of the PledgeMe system. Please contact Waiapu Investments at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have issues with this requirement.
Over the past week, families in isolated East Coast communities have invested over one million dollars in a new regional investment fund established by charitable company Hikurangi Enterprises.
"If the government is looking for local skin in the game before offering support to provincial economic development initiatives, then hopefully this level of support demonstrates that local commitment" said Waiapu Investments managing director Panapa Ehau.
"We have been blown away with the hundreds of people, young and old, from Potaka to Gisborne who have put their own money into something we hope will benefit the whole region."
More than 550 people have so far committed $1,035,000 to purchase shares in Waiapu Investments Limited. The first investment for the company is intended to be Hikurangi Cannabis Company, a Ruatoria-based medical cannabis venture established by Mr Ehau and others.
Interest from around the country and overseas is high with more than three thousand people waiting for a chance to buy shares when the offer opens online at 7pm Tuesday on the PledgeMe crowdfunding website.
"It feels so special to have more than a million invested by our local people" said Mr Ehau. Sixty precent of the funds were raised in five rural village meetings before the roadshow got to Gisborne yesterday.
The funds contributed will enable the building an extraction lab, processing facility and state of the art glasshouses to be built at Ruatoria as soon as a licence is issued by the Ministry of Health.
"We are also talking to larger investors who are interested in coming into Waiapu Investments so that as much ownership as possible can be kept local." said Mr Ehau. "The more ownership residing in Waiapu Investments, the greater leverage we will have when negotiating with institutional investors, but the window won’t stay open very long."
Mr Ehau said people and entities with more than fifty thousand dollars to invest should contact him as soon as possible to discuss the opportunities.
A separate process of selecting an institutional investor to partner in the cannabis company with four to ten million dollars has been started by Auckland investment brokers Northington Partners.
The Hikurangi Cannabis opportunity has already attracted interest from a number of potential investors with significant agribusiness experience including companies from Asia and North America.
"Our preference is to find a New Zealand partner but we will also be looking at who can help us grow quickly into key export markets, support us to produce affordable medicines and build a global pharmacueticals brand in an industry that is already booming in Europe and North America."
Organisers of a regional investment roadshow have been humbled by the high level of support at the first three community meetings.
More than 140 investors have committed more than $300,000 to Waiapu Investments Ltd at meetings in Te Araroa, Tikitikiti and Ruatoria.
Waiapu Investments managing director Panapa Ehau said this was the first local company to be crowd-funded by local investors.
“We intend to invest in the first publicly-offered medical cannabis venture in New Zealand and for many of the whanau participating, it is the first time they have purchased shares in a company,” he said.
Mr Ehau is confident more than a million dollars will be raised by Sunday afternoon, with the final roadshow meeting at Waikirikiri School.
“While there are no guarantees and this is a risky investment in a new company in a new industry, that by law is not even allowed to exist yet, we take the responsibility extremely seriously.”
There has been a wide range of investments, from the minimum $50 to $100,000.
The PledgeMe process can raise up to $2 million and any shares not sold here will be offered to the rest of New Zealand on Tuesday evening.
“With nearly 3500 people indicating their interest in over 15 million shares, we’re confident it is going to be oversubscribed,” said Mr Ehau.
Hikurangi Cannabis Company this week presented to the Health Select Committee on the Misuse of Drugs Act (Medical Cannabis) Bill before Parliament, alongside medical experts, patients and other industry representatives.
The submission from the East Coast was well received by the committee, with National Party MP for Waimakariri Matt Doocey describing it as “professional and well balanced.”
The select committee must report back to Parliament by July and the new legislation establishing a domestic industry is expected to be passed before the end of the year.
The cannabis community is reeling after some of the biggest cannabis-focused channels on YouTube have been terminated for violating community guidelines- this includes Pot Tv, UrbanRemo, Mr canucks grow, and many others.
That’s thousands of videos, hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and millions of views- all gone in an instant!
Why were these cannabis-related YouTube channels terminated?
It appears the decision was made solely because their content revolved around cannabis, and now, according to Dr. Autoflower: "3 out of the top 5 cannabis channels in Canada have now been destroyed."
YouTube’s anti-cannabis spree has content creators questioning if this infringes on their freedom of speech- some cannabis activists are even comparing the termination of their channels to book burning, and while that may seem like a stretch at first, it is not very far off when you consider the educational value that many of these channels had, and how many have been doing this for years- to the point that their work could act as a historical record of the cannabis activism.
Although YouTube is a private company and can do what it wants, it’s heartbreaking for the cannabis content creators who have been affected by this. YouTube’s appeal system is can be difficult to wade through, and as we’ve seen in the past with the 2017 “Adpocalypse”, the company isn’t famous for being forthcoming with the details- quite the opposite, in fact.
Cannabis activists have started accusing Big Business of trying to rewrite cannabis history.
YouTube’s Community Guidelines: 3 strikes, you’re out
According to Youtube: "Community Guidelines strikes are issued when our reviewers are notified of a violation of the Community Guidelines. This includes but is not limited to videos that contain nudity or sexual content, violent or graphic content, harmful or dangerous content, hateful content, threats, spam, misleading metadata, or scams."
While these strikes don’t last forever (they expire after 3 months), if you get 3 strikes within that 3 month period, your account will be terminated.
Many of the affected channels have reported similar issues on social media, saying that they received multiple strikes within days and were terminated.
Dr. Autoflower confirmed this approach and says it started earlier this year and suggests it’s YouTube’s way of getting rid of content they don’t approve of.
How can the channels fight back?
This has left many creators looking at their options and wondering if YouTube is even worth it anymore. Some are considering legal action to get their channels and videos reinstated, and others have been creating new channels or reverting to their backup ones. Some creators are considering leaving the site altogether for the greener pastures of cannabis-focused spaces like The Weed Tube or heading to Vimeo, DTube, or Steemit.
Matt Mernagh, best-selling author of The Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook, said on Twitter: "This is a full-on assault of cannabis creators by @YouTube"
YouTube has certainly fallen a long way from where it used to be as a home for creators. Now, it has become increasingly sanitized in an attempt to appeal to marketers and advertisers, turning into an environment where creators can live in perpetual fear of getting content strikes which can then lead to getting their entire channel removed. Considering that many successful YouTubers make their living off the platform, that is a terrifying prospect.
Where else can cannabis content creators go?
It feels like the entire cannabis community on YouTube has been put on notice, but YouTube is so big, if creators go anywhere else, they risk a precipitous drop in audience since YouTube is one of the biggest sites on the internet.
One thing that these account terminations emphasize is how important it is to backup your videos and not rely on it being up on YouTube or social media as your account can be terminated at any time and all of your work can be lost forever since we are at the whims of these huge tech monopolies, like Youtube (which is owned by Google) that know almost everything about us and have no legal obligation to let us even use their services since we get it all for “free”.
List of terminated channels so far…
According to multiple sources, terminated channels include UrbanRemo, Mr canucks grow, Hemp Remedies, Pigeons420, and Greenboxbrown, Mr. Grow It, Haenap OG-Kush 2.0, Drew Grows, and Envy MYcloset Grow.
Also at risk is the School of Hard Nugs and Freddie “Da Weed King” Pritchard, the host of the One Man Smoke Show, who has also received his first content strike in 11 years, which means Freddie’s ability to livestream on YouTube has been revoked for 90 days.