Wednesday, July 20, 2016

California’s Best Hash Venerated, Vaped at Chalice Awards

by David Downs
Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 11:07 AM

California’s best in hash, wax, rosin, oil and other medical marijuana extracts emerged from a crowded playing field to take top trophies at the “Chalice California” hash and water pipe festival last weekend.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Marijuana Laws On The Ballot in Seven States And Climbing This November Election

by David Downs
Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 10:16 AM

With interest in topics like “marijuana” and “cannabis” hitting all-time high levels according to Google Trends, nine states in the U.S. will vote on marijuana measures in the world’s most important general election Nov. 8, according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center

Medical marijuana: that'll be 7.5 percent sales tax, please. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • Medical marijuana: that'll be 7.5 percent sales tax, please.
Voters in California, Florida, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona, and Arkansas will definitely be casting a ballot to affect cannabis policy in their state. Voters in Missouri, Montana, and North Dakota have submitted signatures to place marijuana proposals on the ballot, while Oklahoma has cleared to circulate a last-minute measure.

In California, philanthropist/technologist Sean Parker has augmented his efforts to help cure cancer with another $1.25 million this month for Prop 64 — a coalition measure to legalize one ounce in public and six plants in private in the world’s seventh largest economy. Prop 64 added the endorsement of major cannabis rapper Smoke DZA, as well as the major union the UFCW in recent weeks.


In Florida, anti-medical marijuana attack ads funded by GOP super-funder Sheldon Adelson are taking aim at a proposal supported by a super-majority of voters there. Florida’s one percent denied its poorest citizens access to the safe analgesic last election.

In Nevada, Adelson bought the major newspaper Las Vegas Review-Journal and re-educated its editorial board to reverse their pro-legalization stance. The publisher took credit for reversing the publication’s position, and said the Adelson family was not involved.

In Massachusetts, activists have raised enough signatures and won state Supreme Court approval of their ballot language for the 'Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana' this month.

In Maine, legalization will be the first question on the ballot. Marijuana Policy Project director Rob Kampia told canna-business people in Oakland in June that Maine legalizers have both little opposition and little funding.

In Arizona, voters there are set to decide on graduating from medical regulations to adult-use, though police will still be able to conduct searches based on cannabis smell alone, the state's Supreme Court ruled this month.

And in Arkansas , Arkansans for Compassionate Care will take their proposal to the ballot box — part of the final push of medical cannabis into midwest and southern holdouts.

Ohio lawmakers already approved medical marijuana legalization this year rather than have the debate stink up the Republican Convention, Kampia said.

Cannabis is a losing issue for conservatives — whose old guard are adamantly anti-pot, while the party's future base widely supports legalization. This month, the GOP failed to add legalization to its party plank, while Democrats did.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Amoeba Records’ Pot Club Plan Gets A Second Spin

by David Downs
Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 11:40 AM

Global music brand Amoeba Records in Berkeley will get a replay of its bid to open a pot shop, thanks to a Berkeley City Council vote to add two more medical cannabis dispensaries last night.

Amoeba Berkeley
  • Amoeba Berkeley
The Telegraph Ave. music store and institution seems strongly positioned to obtain one of those two new permits. Berkeley lawmakers added the new permits during a consent calendar vote Tuesday night.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Drug War is ‘Root Cause’ of Police Shooting Epidemic, says Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee Gary Johnson

by David Downs
Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 8:09 AM

Former New Mexico Governor, and Libertarian Party nominee for president Gary Johnson added to the conversation after the Dallas Shootings in Friday.

A main reason for crumbling police-community relations is decades of enforcing what were ultimately racist drug laws designed in part to target minorities.



VIA US MARSHALLS ON FLICKR
  • via US Marshalls on Flickr

“The root is the war on drugs, I believe. Police knocking down doors, shooting first,” Johnson told reporters Friday in Washington, according to Politico. “If you are (black and) arrested in a drug-related crime, there is four times more likelihood of going to prison than if you are white. And shooting is part of the same phenomenon.”

Blacks are arrested for pot in America at several times the rate of whites, despite similar levels of use, the ACLU reports. Drug crime is the most common arrest in America and pot crime is the most common type of drug arrest. About 700,000 Americans will be arrested this year for pot. Four states and Washington DC have legalized cannabis, as well as Washington DC. The Black police chief there, Cathy Lanier, said in 2015 that “all those [pot] arrests do is make people hate us.”

“Marijuana smokers are not going to attack and kill a cop,” Lanier reportedly said. “They just want to get a bag of chips and relax. Alcohol is a much bigger problem.”

“We’re asking cops to do too much in this country,” said Dallas Police Chief David Brown Monday. “Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve,” Brown said, including mental health, drug addiction.

Pot laws have helped drive America’s incarceration epidemic to historic levels, where one in ten black men in their 30s are in prison.

“Seventy percent of the African American community is being raised by single women, let’s give it to the cops to solve that as well” said Chief Brown. “Policing was never meant to solve all those problems.”

“I just ask for other parts of our democracy along with the free press to help us,” Brown said. “To help us and not put that burden all on law enforcement.”

The Libertarian Party supports cannabis legalization and ending lengthy prison sentences for non-violent drug possession and use. For example, you can get up to 30 years prison for your first pot distribution offense in Louisiana.

“The focus on drugs needs to be as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue. It can be illegal but does it need to be criminal? Do you need to go to jail for drugs?” Johnson said. “I do believe that the root of the militarization, knocking on doors, is a drug war phenomenon.”

President Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs to target blacks and the anti-war-left, Harper’s reported in April. Nixon aide John Ehrlichman reportedly told journalist Dan Baum:

““You want to know what this was really all about? … We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Felony Marijuana Arrests Drop In California

by David Downs
Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 12:24 PM

Drug felony arrests plummeted in California in response to 2014’s voter-enacted Proposition 47 — which changed various state drug laws from felonies to misdemeanors, according to new data from the California Attorney General.

Felony arrests for drugs dropped by between 68.2 percent and 73.6 percent in California between 2014 and 2015, California NORML reported this week. Felony arrests for marijuana fell by a third — from 13,300 to 8,866.

The declines mark another historic milestone in America’s path toward ending a mass incarceration epidemic. The "land of free", which celebrated its independence this week, has 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its prisoners — the result of decades of prison-industrial complex-driven policy.

Police may be switching to misdemeanor drug charges instead of felony ones, though. Misdemeanor drug arrests nearly doubled from 92,469 in 2014 to 163,073 in 2015.

“The number of misdemeanor drug arrests has been slowly rising in California since a drop between 2010 and 2011,” reports California NORML, an advocacy group for cannabis consumers.

About 800 California children were arrested on felony marijuana charges in 2015 — down from over 2,000 kids several years ago.
  • About 800 California children were arrested on felony marijuana charges in 2015 — down from over 2,000 kids several years ago.
Amid a billion-dollar cannabis industry expansion, arrests for driving under the influence dropped slightly from 151,416 in 2014 to 137,677 in 2015, part of a downward trend.

Prop. 47 was widely opposed by the law enforcement industry including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Alameda County district attorney Nancy O'Malley, and the California Police Chiefs Association. But passed by a wide margin in a off-year election, driven by a conservative backlash to ballooning prison budgets. Prison spending has increased 15-fold since 1981. While California has built one college since 1980, it’s built 22 prisons.

Marijuana policy continues to evolve in the Golden State, which is now the 6th largest economy in the world, overtaking Brazil and France.

In 1996, Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana. In 2010’s, Sen Mark Leno led the legislature’s decriminalization of personal possession of pot.

In 2015, lawmakers regulated the medical cannabis trade.

This year, Californians have a chance to legalize personal cannabis use by adults 21 and over, and regulate the commercial trade — saving about $100 million in police costs, and generating about $1 billion in tax revenue.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

California Set for Historic Vote on Cannabis Legalization

by David Downs
Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 8:35 AM

Registered California voters will have a historic chance to end cannabis prohibition for the first time in more than 100 years in the Golden State.

Proponents of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act announced Tuesday evening that state officials had qualified the ballot initiative to appear in the November General Election.
This election, Californians can end 100 years of pot prohibition, which critics say has been a disasterous failure. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • This election, Californians can end 100 years of pot prohibition, which critics say has been a disasterous failure.
Initiative proponents succeeded in collecting more than the 365,880 valid petition signatures to place AUMA on the ballot . Using professional signature-gatherers paid for by wealthy individual donors and activist groups like the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, AUMA’s team collected more than 402,468 “projected” valid signatures, a threshold it crossed Tuesday.

Tomorrow the California Secretary of State will certify the initiative as qualified. The official Title and Summary of the initiative that voters will read states:

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law. Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry.

Imposes state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of sales price, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana. Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana to minors. Authorizes re-sentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.

Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Net reduced costs ranging from tens of millions of dollars to potentially exceeding $100 million annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Net additional state and local tax revenues potentially ranging from the high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually related to the production and sale of marijuana. Most of these funds would be required to be spent for specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention, and treatment. (15-0103.)
When regulated, California could collect an extra $1 billion dollars per year in taxes from its existing cannabis trade, state officials estimate.

AUMA allows all adults 21 and over to walk around legally with up to one ounce of flower or seven grams of cannabis extract, as well as grow up to six plants on their own.

About 20,000 Californians are arrested each year for pot, and tens of thousands more receive tickets for marijuana infractions — with minorities bearing the brunt of the enforcement. Scores remain locked up for non-violent marijuana-related offenses.

This election cycle, legalization again faces strong opposition from the drug war establishment, including cops, rehab clinics, democrat and republican politicians supported by drug war lobbies, and even some pot growers and  medical marijuana industry who fear decreased profits under legalization.

“This campaign will very be similar to that of Proposition 19. They have the money and we have the facts,” stated the opposition coalition, which has dubbed themselves 'They Got It Wrong Again'. “This new initiative will specifically allow felons convicted of dealing up to 20,000 heroin doses to receive marijuana licenses.”

That’s not true. State regulators can bar anyone from receiving a commercial cannabis license for a wide range of issues like past hard drug dealing.

Campaign organizers said in Oakland last week that both industry and citizens need to donate and work for legalization in California this year, or it will not happen.

Legalization polls in the mid-to-high 50s in California, just as it did in 2010 when Prop 19 failed due a lack of funding, voter apathy, and an opposition campaign that included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blanketing the airwaves in October with threats of a federal backlash.

To get involved with the Let’s Get It Right campaign, individuals can sign up for updates, as well as make unlimited personal contributions to the campaign committee to legalize cannabis in California.

“And the truth is that we simply cannot do this without you. You're going to push this through to the end,” AUMA’s proponents stated Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Congress Moves to Legalize Cannabis Banking, Research

by David Downs
Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 6:52 PM

America’s lawmakers continue to chip away at federal cannabis prohibition during this lame duck session of Congress.

Last week, Republican Congressmen Andy Harris from Maryland, Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer, Virginia Republican H. Morgan Griffith, and California Democrat Sam Farr introduced the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016, which would remove barriers to cannabis research. A group of bipartisan Senators plan to introduce a similar bill in the Senate.

us_capitol_building_at_night_jan_2006.jpg
Dr. Harris said cannabis prohibition is blocking needed research on treatments for epilepsy, cancer, and a host of other conditions. Rep. Harris had been one of the House's most prominent anti-marijuana voices.
“As a physician who has conducted NIH sponsored research, I can’t stress enough how critical this legislation is to the scientific community. Our drug policy was never intended to act as an impediment to conducting legitimate medical research. We need empirical scientific evidence to clearly determine whether marijuana has medicinal benefits and, if so, how it would be used most effectively. This legislation is crucial to that effort, because it removes the unnecessary administrative barriers that deter qualified researchers from rigorously studying medical marijuana.”
Like the vast majority of doctors, Rep. Harris received no cannabis training in medical school, and has apparently yet to read the thousands of research papers that empirically attest to the botanical's medical efficacy. In 2015, the American Medical Association admitted as much. Over 200 million Americans have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, yet federal policy blocks science.

That is “outrageous,” stated Congressman Blumenauer. “We owe it to patients and their families to allow for the research physicians need to understand marijuana’s benefits and risks and determine proper use and dosage. The federal government should get out of the way to allow for this long overdue research.”
 
“There are countless reports of marijuana’s medicinal benefits, but patients, doctors, pharmacists, and policymakers must have more to rely on than anecdotal evidence,” stated Congressman Griffith. “Removing the barriers that prevent further research on marijuana’s medicinal benefits and possible side effects is the right thing to do, plain and simple.”
 
“This bill is about helping people. As more states pass their own medical marijuana laws, it’s time for Congress to reexamine federal policy. This bill does just that by supporting research so policy decisions about the role of medical marijuana are based on science and facts instead of rhetoric,” stated Congressman Farr.

The Act would not change cannabis’ status atop the federal list of the world’s most dangerous drugs, rather it would cut red tape to marijuana research “a new, less cumbersome registration process specifically for marijuana, [would reduce] approval wait times, costly security measures, and additional, unnecessary layers of protocol review.”

The act also would make research cannabis easier to obtain and end the government’s monopoly over the nation’s supply of cannabis deemed OK for researchers.

Last week, a key Senate committee voted to allow legal cannabis businesses to use the national banking system. Prohibition blocks banks from taking canna-business deposits, forcing the industry to use cash and risk robbery.

“It makes no sense to have bags of cash, and it’s an invitation to organized crime, an invitation to theft, and invitation to tax evasion,” Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley reportedly said.

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to shield banks working with state-legal marijuana businesses. The vote was 16 – 14, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein opposed.

City of Richmond Approves Huge Expansion to Medical Cannabis Industry

by David Downs
Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 5:36 PM

The City of Richmond stands to reap millions of dollars each year after green-lighting a large expansion of licensed commercial medical cannabis activity this June.
A flyer for a Richmond cannabis industry event. - 7 STARS ON FACEBOOK
  • 7 Stars on Facebook
  • A flyer for a Richmond cannabis industry event.
The East Bay city became the latest jurisdiction to embrace state-level regulations by crafting local components that plug into the state’s multi-billion dollar industry, defying critics who said state-level regulations would damage medical marijuana.

Starting last Friday, Richmond will not cap permits for commercial cannabis gardens, as well as edibles kitchens. Richmond could collect a minimum of $1 million per year with a 5 percent sales tax on activity that would otherwise go un-taxed.

"We're going to be in full tax-collection mode," Mayor Tom Butt told the Mercury News. "We want the money."

Richmond has a $12 million budget deficit, and is now open for canna-business, with less red tape than nearby city Oakland, which also green-lit an industry expansion, but with onerous permitting rules.

By contrast, Berkeley or Emeryville does not permit licensed gardens or kitchens. At the back of the pack is Contra Costa County and Alameda County, which still ban most legal medical cannabis activity.

Richmond will use zoning rules to corral the cannabis industry into light industrial zones, and requires lengthy security and safety plan review by local officials.

All energy used by the Richmond cannabis industry must be 100 renewable to be eligible for a permit — a major environmental win.

Richmond’s handful of licensed dispensaries will also be able to apply for a second permit to grown their own supplies. 7 Stars Holistic Healing Center in Richmond held a Community Cannabis Expo on Thursday.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Major Pot Company Hit With Six Counts of Securities Fraud

by David Downs
Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Beware, the wolves of weed street are on the hunt.

Federal securities officials charged executives at the high-flying, publicly traded pot company Hemp Inc. (formerly Marijuana, Inc.) with six counts of securities fraud this week in Nevada.

Bruce Perlowin, of Las Vegas - SCREENGRAB
  • Screengrab
  • Bruce Perlowin, of Las Vegas
The SEC complaint is one of the biggest legal actions taken against an increasingly brazen and unchecked market in pot securities. Hemp Inc. / Marijuana Inc. CEO Bruce Hay Perlowin of Las Vegas faces securities fraud charges, along with Jed M. Perlowin, 55, of Parkland, Fla., and 64-year-old Barry Keith Epling, of Las Vegas for “a coordinated and fraudulent scheme to sell to public investors millions of unregistered and purportedly unrestricted Hemp securities that were, in fact, restricted.”

According to CourtHouseNews: “Essentially, the men gave hundreds of millions of unregistered Hemp shares to one another, and to their companies, to be sold into the market, the SEC says.”

A June 20 SEC complaint states: ”The defendants' scheme involved, among other things, the use of nominees, phony gifting of stock, bogus consulting agreements, and forged documentation, all of which were utilized to avoid registration requirements and sell Hemp securities.”

"This long-running and profitable scheme resulted in the sale of hundreds of millions of unregistered and purportedly unrestricted Hemp shares to public investors," the complaint states. "The execution of this scheme involved, among other things, purported gifts and consulting agreements that do not appear to have been bona fide and fraudulent statements made to commission-registered broker-dealers.”

“We understand your concern over the recent news about Bruce Perlowin and Hemp Inc. Our legal counsel, which represents Hemp Inc. and CEO, Bruce Perlowin, has instructed us not to comment on any pending litigation,” the company states.

Cannabis could generate $40 billion in economic activity in the U.S. by 2020, and investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into private investments, as well as public companies — the vast majority of which do not meet stringent accounting standards.

Investors lost $23.3 billion in pot stocks in 2014 according to according to data analyzed by Openfolio, VICE reports. Leading investment expert Troy Dayton has told me to avoid pot penny stocks, because “the incentives are screwed up. It becomes more profitable to sell stock than make a company.”


"During the relevant period, the majority of Ferris's revenue and all of Hobbes' revenue came from the sale of Hemp shares,” the complain states.

The complaint lists several companies related to the alleged fraud: including Hobbes Equities Inc., Diversified Investments LLC, Quantum Economic Protocols LLC.

Hemp Inc. shares crashed this week, down from a high of 20 cents to a new low of two cents today. The company has an alleged market capitalization of $6.57 million.
HEMP stock cratering. - BLOOMBERG
  • Bloomberg
  • HEMP stock cratering.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Major Cannabis Conference Brings Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to Oakland

by David Downs
Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 11:37 AM

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is supporting the leading cannabis legalization initiative, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and will keynote a national cannabis business conference planned for Oakland next week.

Newsom addresses the nation’s canna-business people Tuesday morning at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit & Expo. The trade association represents 1,000 member-business nationwide, and expects to draw 3,000 attendees to the three-day, business-to-business conference and trade show at the Marriott City Center at 1001 Broadway in Oakland June 20-22.
Gavin Newsom speaks during the 2013 launch of the ACLU's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • Gavin Newsom speaks during the 2013 launch of the ACLU's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana.
The legal cannabis industry is expected to generate $40 billion in economic activity by 2020.  Oakland continues to lead the global cannabis industry, and is working to vastly expand the scope of regulated medi-pot activity — licensing farms, kitchens, and distributors, as well as green-lighting up to eight new dispensaries per year. The Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission met last night to begin phase one of the new licensing roll-out.

Monday, NCIA workshops on running canna-business and branding coincide with tours of major dispensaries and labs including Harborside Health Center, CW Analytical, and Dark Heart Nursery. The conference offers continuing legal education for lawyers, and classes on sustainability. Five panel tracks explore trending topics like intellectual property, hash extraction, the emerging world of product liability, as well as increasing diversity. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf is scheduled to give closing remarks Wednesday.

Your Legalization Nation editor is scheduled to moderate a panel related to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act Wednesday, titled “Golden Opportunity: The Industry's Role in California Legalization.” According to state campaign donor records, the industry has by and large not helped pay to put legalization measures on the ballot.

The panel follows another legalization-themed conversation — “Putting It To a Vote: A Hard Look at Ballot Measures and Post-Election Predictions” on Tuesday.

Tickets to the conference start at $150 to dispensary owners and other industry insiders, go to $350 for expo-only general admission, and reach $795 for non-member full pass. Inclusion Scholarships are available.

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