High Times Medical Cannabis Cup in SF Is Cool, But It Ain't Amsterdam 

Plus transparency needed for Oakland growing-permit process, and caution for delivery dispensaries.

The Bay Area's roaring cannabis economy has a new yardstick: the first-ever High Times Medical Cannabis Cup on June 19 and 20 in San Francisco at Terra. The 35-year-old counterculture magazine has hosted its famed Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam every year for more than twenty years now, making it a global tourist attraction. Of course, buying a $60 ticket does not get you anything to smoke.

"You're not going to get cannabis in exchange for a ticket," says High Times West Coast editor David Bienenstock. "Voting is done by a small group of perhaps nine. We are going to supply a list of dispensary entries who won so patients can visit and try any entry they want."

Only patients with a doctor's recommendation for cannabis will be allowed to consume in an outdoor "Prop 215 Section" of the expo, but "medical professionals will be available on-site," High Times states.

Awards will go to the best indica, sativa, concentrate (hash), and edibles (brownies, etc.) during the Sunday night awards show, which costs $60 and comes with access to a two-day expo, assorted seminars, and merchandise. The Saturday night VIP Cup party, which has sold out, features killer rock band Eagles of Death Metal and local fave Lyrics Born. Panelists include Valerie Corral, Bill Panzer, Debby Goldsberry, Steve DeAngelo, Jorge Cervantes, DJ Short, Paul Armentano, and a lifetime achievement award for Dr. Lester Grinspoon.

Sunshine Needed in Farm Permitting

The Oakland City Council's impending decision to possibly permit and tax four large-scale medical cannabis farms has everyone wondering who will get a growing permit, worth potentially millions of dollars per year. If the council approves growing legislation this summer, the city is expected to issue a request for proposals, and potential growers would then compete for a coveted permit. Theoretically, permits would go to those growers deemed most capable and responsible of handling the historic charge, but it's never that simple.

Ideally, the decision will be based on the best available data, though little data currently exists. Local businessman Jeff Wilcox commissioned a private study of the economics of growing, which took most watchers by surprise. Now there's a backroom scramble to either support or refute Wilcox's data with independent research from UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. The Rand Corporation also is doing its own independent research on growing economics. The draft ordinance should be buttressed by solid, publicly available raw data on the inputs and outputs of such a regime.

All ordinance discussions also need to be scheduled, advertised, and open to public comment. So should the RFP process.

A Bumpy Road for The Canny Bus

As capitalism assimilates pot, delivery services are among the more exotic offspring. Bay Area medical cannabis dispensaries on wheels number in perhaps the dozens, and run the gamut from glorified drug dealers to state-registered, Prop 215-protected nonprofit collective The Green Cross in San Francisco. Neophytes like The Canny Bus sprout weekly, and as this once-black market turns white, its reputation is still spotty.

Richmond gunmen reportedly took $3,000 worth of marijuana and $1,000 in cash from a 33-year-old San Francisco State student — and purported mobile dispensary operator — when he delivered an order to a Richmond carport at midnight on Thursday, May 27. Green Cross' owner and veteran activist Kevin Reed is not surprised.

"People should be worried going to buy marijuana or having people over," said Reed, whose three-year-old delivery-only collective was robbed once in its early days.

Ever since US Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that the DEA would not be raiding locally tolerated medical marijuana dispensaries, "pop-up dispensaries" have blown up, the ten-year veteran said.

Here are three shopping tips: Read online reviews of a delivery dispensary; if they don't have any, like this greenhorn who got robbed, it's not a good sign. Ask for their business license number and look it up with the appropriate agency. See if they offer refunds; legitimate businesses do.

Seeds & Stems

The City of San Francisco will officially oppose a state bill that puts cancer patients in jail for growing pot if such patients live near a school. Assembly Bill 2650 steps on local land-use decisions and creates problems for patients, cultivators, and dispensaries protected under Prop 215, the Board of Supervisors resolved last week. According to insiders, the bill is a largely token "tough on crime/save the children" bill sponsored by Alamo Democrat Joan Buchanan, who is fighting for her assembly seat in a contested Fall race. By an 8-3 vote last week, the San Francisco supes approved a resolution opposing AB 2650. The bill is also opposed by Americans for Safe Access and other patient's rights groups, but supported by law enforcement groups. Mayor Gavin Newsom must now sign, veto, or allow the supes' resolution to take effect. Buchanan's bud bill goes to the California Senate this summer.

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