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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Brendan Kennedy, the head of one of the world's largest cannabis investment firms, says he's mostly seeing recycled business plans but believes the industry's next phase of startup innovation will be around everyday products sold by mainstream retailers.

Thesis: Kennedy says that Cannabis 1.0 related directly to the flower, while Cannabis 2.0 was about beverages. He believes Cannabis 3.0, which is just beginning, will be in all sorts of consumables (shampoos, lotions, cookies, etc.) that will sit alongside more "traditional" versions at places like Walgreens and Target.

  • "Most major retailers will sell cannabinoid products, just as another sort of brand," he says. "There's an enormous amount of opportunity there for new companies."

Kennedy is the Seattle-based executive chairman of Privateer Holdings. He's also CEO of Tilray, the Canadian cannabis company whose stock has mellowed since its red-hot IPO.

What he's saying: Kennedy also was agnostic on the 2020 presidential election, even though most of the Democratic Party candidates support federal legalization, with the exception of Joe Biden.

  • Kennedy is more concerned with legalization ballot initiatives in upwards of 7 "deep red" states. He believes if those states go legal, then it will put pressure on their GOP senators.
  • He adds that some in his industry believe that President Trump may reverse his anti-legalization position before November 2020, in order to take that issue off the table, but Kennedy admits that may just be wishful thinking.

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Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

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The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

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The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

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COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

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Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.