The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will reclassify marijuana as a “Schedule Two” drug on August 1, 2016, essentially legalizing medicinal cannabis in all 50 states with a doctor’s prescription, said a DEA lawyer with knowledge of the matter.
“Marijuana enforcement is a big drain on DEA resources,” he said was another reason for the change, noting that a majority of the American public favor the legalization of marijuana for medical use.
Medical cannabis, or medical marijuana, can refer to the use of cannabis and its cannabinoids to treat disease or improve symptoms; However, there is no single agreed upon definition, says Wikipedia. The use of cannabis as a medicine has not been rigorously scientifically tested, often due to production restrictions and other governmental regulations. There is limited evidence suggesting cannabis can be used to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, to improve appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and to treat chronic pain and muscle spasms. Its use for other medical applications, however, is insufficient for conclusions about safety or efficacy.
All across America, once-vibrant shopping malls are boarded up and decaying.
Traffic-driving anchors like Sears and JCPenney are shutting down stores, and mall owners are having a hard time finding retailers large enough to replace them. With a fresh wave of closures on the horizon, the problem is set to accelerate, according to retail and real estate analysts.
About 15% of U.S. malls will fail or be converted into non-retail space within the next 10 years, according to Green Street Advisors, a real estate and REIT analytics firm. That’s an increase from less than two years ago, when the firm predicted 10% of malls would fail or be converted.
“The risk of failure for a mall increases dramatically once you see anchor closures,” said Cedric Lachance, managing director of Green Street Advisors. “Their health is very important … and most of them are highly likely to continue closing stores.”
Within 15 to 20 years, retail consultant Howard Davidowitz expects as many as half of America’s shopping malls to fail. He predicts that only upscale shopping centers with anchors like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus will survive.
“Middle-level stores in middle-level malls are going to be extinct because they don’t make sense,” said Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, Inc., a retail consulting and investment banking firm. “That’s why we haven’t built a major enclosed mall since 2006.”
This building once housed a Macy’s, which closed in 2008 and has since remained untouched:
Of the roughly 1,000 malls in the U.S., about 400 cater to upper-income shoppers, he said. For those higher-end malls, business is improving, according to data from Green Street Advisors. It’s the lower-end malls that are being hit by store closures.
JCPenney, Macy’s, and Sears have all recently announced fresh rounds of closures and layoffs. JCPenney is closing 33 stores, Macy’s is closing five, and Sears is closing its flagship in Chicago — the latest of about 300 closures Sears has made since 2010.
As those retailers vacate their hulking, multi-story spaces, mall owners are aiming to replace them with movie theaters, restaurants, and discount retailers like TJ Maxx, Ross Stores, and Marshalls, analysts said.
But if a mall is hit by two or more anchor closures at once, it’s harder to stay afloat. That’s typically the beginning of a downward spiral leading to ultimate extinction, Lachance said.
Most struggling malls don’t go down without a long, drawn-out fight, however — the evidence of which exists in hundreds of communities across the country where vacant wings of various shopping centers are beginning to crumble and decay. States hit particularly badly include Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Illinois, according to Deadmalls.com, which tracks mall closures.
Here’s the interior of Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio, which has been closed since 2008:
“Malls will go broke, will go dark, will get closed — and it will take eight years for something to be redeveloped,” Davidowitz said.
Don Wood, the CEO of Federal Reality Investment Trust, has said the process of knocking down or converting a mall could take as long as two decades.
“It’s really going to be hard in the next 10 years to knock down that mall and rebuild it into something better because the economics just don’t work,” Wood said at a conference in June 2012, according to The Wall Street Journal. A failing mall in a non-affluent market “most likely will just stay there and get worse and worse over the next 20 years.”
What will eventually replace these ghost malls are community colleges, business offices, and health care facilities, according to Green Street Advisors.
Until then, many of these former shopping hubs will continue the gradual process of boarding up windows and turning out the lights, one store after another.
Pharmacy reimbursement rates challenged Rite Aid earnings in the latest quarter, Chairman and CEO John Standley said, in a statement.
Rite Aid shares slipped more than 1 percent Thursday after releasing its first-quarter results.
The drugstore chain reported adjusted quarterly earnings at 1 cent per share, below a Reuters estimate of 5 cents a share. Revenue rose 23 percent to $8.2 billion on a year-over-year basis, but came in below a forecast of $8.26 billion.
Standley said the chain wasn’t able to offset the rate pressure through drug purchasing efficiencies.
“While drug cost reductions will continue to be short of our expectations in the near term, we anticipate improvements over the second half of the fiscal year. As we work to meet this challenge, we remain focused on executing our highly successful sales initiatives like wellness+ with Plenti and the Wellness store program while also making strategic investments for growth and delivering a consistently outstanding customer experience,” he said in a statement.
Shares of Rite Aid jumped last week after a report said there are growing signs that the Federal Trade Commission will approve Walgreens’ $17 billion acquisition of Rite Aid. The two drugstores agreed to merge in February 2015.
Rite Aid said it expects to close deal with Walgreens Boots Alliance in the second half of this year.
Rite Aid’s stock has remained steady this year, dipping about 1 percent.
Each of the Big Three soft drink makers — Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper — has a significant presence in North Texas.
Plano is home to the Dr Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo’s snack division, Frito-Lay. Atlanta-based Coke has six facilities here, including distribution centers and a syrup plant.
The soft drink industry faces continued weakness in the sales of its main product — soda — due to concerns about calories, sugar and artificial sweeteners.
So each company is looking for other items, such as snacks and energy drinks, to bolster total sales.
The United States rig counts increased for the second straight week, which sent oil prices in the opposite direction, Friday. And this combination, compounded by the strong dollar, weighed on shares of BP p.l.c. (BP), which declined Friday by as much as 2.78% to a session low of $32.12.
The number of rigs operating in the U.S. fields rose to 328, compared to 325 from the previous week, according to Reuters, citing data compiled by oilfield services firm Baker Hughes Incorporated (BHI). Comparatively, this still marks a drastic decline of almost 50% from the same period a year ago when rig counts reached 635 rigs online. (See also: 3 Reasons Why U.S. Oil Imports Are Rising.)
The pullback in energy didn’t impede BP’s willingness to merge its Norwegian business with a subsidiary of Det Norske Oljeselskap ASA (DETNF). London-based BP said the $1.3 billion joint venture, called Aker BP, will be an all-stock deal that will help the combined company lower operating costs, Reuters reports. Aker will own 40% of the joint venture and will be the main shareholder, while BP will own 30%. Reuters noted that the remaining stake will be held by other shareholders. (See also: BP Strategizes Profits Amid Slumping Oil Prices.)