Monday, October 9, 2017

Fires Threaten California’s First Legal Pot Crop

Growers are already talking about christening various strains of the 2017 harvest with names like “campfire pot,” “hickory kush,” and “beef jerky.”

by John Geluardi
Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 2:52 PM

  • Photo courtesy of CalFire

As if there isn’t enough uncertainty right now for Northern California weed farmers, this week's fires are threatening the 2017 harvest. That is for those farmers who are lucky enough to have a harvest.

Fires are raging in 14 counties, according to the California Department of Forestry, and an estimated 1,500 residential and commercial structures have been destroyed. Since late Sunday night, 57,000 acres have burned and tens of thousands people have been evacuated. And that’s just the past few days. The National Interagency Fire Center claims a total of 3,692 Northern California fires have burned 411,742 acres in 2017.

While the scope of these life altering tragedies is still being calculated, cannabis farmers have begun to assess the toll on this year’s outdoor harvest and the outlook is grim.

On various cultivation websites, the state’s cannabis farmers are already decrying crops being tainted by the smell of smoke, which weed consumers across the county will readily be able to detect. California grows an estimated 13 million pounds of pot annually and four of every five pounds is shipped to other states. Growers, in an attempt to embrace the catastrophe, have be christening various strains of the 2017 harvest with names like “campfire pot,” “hickory kush,” and “beef jerky.”

In addition to unsavory odors, cannabis exposed to smoke and ash is more vulnerable to disease, which can result in high levels of molds, mildews, and fungus, creating potential health risks such as lung infections. Medical cannabis users with preexisting conditions such as lung or cardiovascular disease should be particularly careful about the condition of their cannabis.

Many farmers are now predicting that pot tainted by the scent of fire will lose value due to poor flavor and the uncertainty of the plant’s health, according Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Cannabis Association.

“Several of our members have lost farms and homes; these fires are going to have an impact on our community,” Allen said. “The growers who lost their crops will suffer catastrophic impacts. The overall marketplace in the state is robust and will likely see much more modest effect. A lot of cannabis will be tainted with smoke. It is pretty easy to identify smoky bud by the smell. It will lose a lot of value. Contaminated products may be able to be remediated in manufacturing process.”

The potential fire damage comes at a time when California’s Office of Cannabis Control is establishing tough new regulations for the new recreational and medical marijuana markets. All cannabis sold under the new legal framework will have to be tested for wholesomeness.

The question now looming over the new market is how much of the Northern California outdoor harvest will make it past the rigorous testing standards.

Monday, July 10, 2017

City of Alameda Allows Pot Businesses on Island

by Nate Sheidlower
Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 1:54 PM

For seven years, Alameda has held in place a city-wide ban on commercial cannabis businesses. But that is about to change.

In May 2010, the City Council enacted a prohibition on all medical-marijuana dispensaries or cannabis cultivation. But last week, the council voted 4-1 to draft a new ordinance to overturn the ban and allow cannabis businesses to open up shop on the island.

“At this point, many of us are or know someone with serious health issues and they’re not able to purchase [medicinal cannabis] here, they have to go to Oakland or San Francisco to talk to someone in person and be able to purchase,” said Mayor Trish Spencer at last Wednesday's meeting.

While the potential tax benefits for the city are high, the council, and the members of the public who spoke at the meeting, were more concerned with keeping the Alameda industry on the island.

Sharon Golden, founder of the Alameda Island Cannabis Community, spoke at the meeting about the need for direction as January approaches and state regulations will soon take effect.

“We’re here to make sure that our local residents are given the opportunity to open a business or have access to their medicine on the island,” Golden said.

It is not yet known how many or what types of businesses Alameda will permit, but talk of repealing the ban began nine months ago and is now coming to fruition. The council asked their staff to bring  a new ordinance to the council's first meeting in September.

The city manager said there would be a survey coming out soon to see how city residents feel about cannabis businesses, and there was talk of Alameda residents getting preference when it came time to issue business licenses.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

California Took a Big Step Closer to Regulating the Cannabis Industry

by Nate Sheidlower
Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 10:19 AM

It has happened: Last Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the bill that regulates legal cannabis in the state.

Known as the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), the bill consolidates the two laws that regulated legal cannabis to create one set of rules to cover both medicinal and adult use.

Yes, Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), legalized cannabis for recreational adult use when it was passed by the voters in November. And, yes, it outlined a regulatory structure for the adult-use market.

But there is another side to legal cannabis, one that’s been present and unregulated for much longer: the medical side.

In 2015, three state bills were enacted to create a regulatory system for medical cannabis. Together, they are known as the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA).

Both AUMA and MCRSA call for state regulations to be in place by 2018. This bill resolves any conflicts between the two.

There are many technical changes introduced by the bill, such as requiring that all products leave dispensaries in opaque packages, giving control over industrial hemp back to the Department of Food and Agriculture, and declaring that all legislation refer to the plant in question as cannabis instead of marijuana.

But there are also some significant updates that will affect any adult-use consumer or medicinal patient, the many state agencies that either regulate or interact with the cannabis industry, and the industry itself.

MAUCRSA takes into account some of the needs of the industry, like requiring the establishment of an office in Northern California to collect taxes and fees from the counties of Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino in cash.

Now, non-residents can apply for cannabis business licenses, delivery-only businesses can be licensed at the state level, and businesses can cater to both the medicinal and recreational markets.

“I think the biggest things we really got out of this new bill are we’re going to have the ability to co-locate these licenses, so there’ll really be one system, and you won’t have medical marijuana over here and then adult use over there,” explained Sean Luse, the chief operating officer of Berkeley Patients Group. “Also removing the mandatory distributor requirement is a big step in the right direction.”

The new bill includes one list of license types, and says that each license be marked to distinguish if it is for medicinal or adult use. That said, licensees are allowed to hold both a medicinal and adult-use permit, allowing businesses to service both markets. Medicinal patients will still receive state tax breaks at the register.

Additionally, MCRSA required everyone in the industry to go through licensed distributors to sell or buy cannabis.

“That would have added unnecessary costs and kept many players out of the market,” Luse said.

But MAUCRSA allows for vertical integration, or the ability for licensees to hold licenses in more than one category. This means businesses can self-distribute and not have to go through independent distributors, saving significant startup costs, but incurring others.

“Vertical integration is great for the small business when they start because they’ll have a tough time hiring other people to do all these different aspects for them,” said Nate Bradley, policy advocate and co-founder of the California Cannabis Industry Association. “Manufacturers shouldn’t have to go through an independent distributor to get their product to market, a lot of these guys are going to need to hustle their product themselves, so it gives them an opportunity to launch and to start a new business.”

Bradley also said that vertical integration is expensive. Holding multiple licenses requires multiple locations, and multiple compliance officers to ensure everything is copacetic. He said Colorado originally mandated vertical integration, but when they opened it up and allowed people to divest and focus on one business, most of the industry took that route.

And in general, starting a cannabis business requires a lot of capital. That’s why, by allowing for delivery-only licenses, the State is welcoming people to enter the industry without tons of investors or start-up funds.

“For someone who is trying to get into an industry such as cannabis, if you don’t have unlimited amounts of money or investors to buy the real estate, or a brick and mortar or the license, how do you get into the industry at an entry level,” said Nurit Raphael, founder of the Marin-based delivery service ONA life, and president of the Marin County Couriers Association.

Anyone applying for a business license must have a physical address to put on the application. But MAUCRSA allows delivery-only businesses to have a storefront that is not open to the public, decreasing start-up costs.

Raphael said her group worked with other delivery advocate groups throughout the state to spread awareness that delivery companies were not included in previously proposed legislation. She said there is still work to be done but this was a big step forward.

“It’s also really good for [patient] access, because those people who need it the most need to get deliveries,” Raphael said.

But this bill also covers the inside of personal vehicles.

Previously, it was an infraction to drive around with more than an ounce of cannabis. But this bill establishes an open container law similar to how driving with alcohol is regulated. Now, the weight limit is gone, but all cannabis must be in a sealed package or container, unless it’s in the trunk.

Driving while impaired by cannabis is still illegal, but unlike with alcohol, there is far less known about how cannabis impairs driving and how to measure that impairment. There is work underway to develop a THC-detecting breathalyzer that would measure the level of THC in someone’s breath. But even that does not say how impaired the person is, and there are still many other unanswered questions.

Under this new law, the California Highway Patrol must create a task force to study impaired driving and report back to the state by 2021 with their recommendations for best practices and protocols that address the issue.

That’s not the only 2021 deadline in this bill though. The California Department of Agriculture is now tasked with establishing a program for organic pot that conforms with state and federal organic food programs—that is, unless the federal National Organic Program does it first, of course.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

The 'Green Rush' Went Next Level at Last Week's Cannabis Business Summit and Expo in Oakland

by Nate Sheidlower
Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 6:18 PM

Hydroponics tables with marigolds belonging to Aessence Grows. - NATE SHEIDLOWER
  • Nate Sheidlower
  • Hydroponics tables with marigolds belonging to Aessence Grows.

The cannabis industry most people know consists of two people: the buyer and the seller. To a certain extent, that hasn’t changed. But, as the industry becomes legitimate through regulation and legalization, there is a lot more than just marijuana being bought and sold.

Last week, Oakland was host to the fourth annual National Cannabis Industry Association Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, and it’s 4,500 attendees. The grand ballroom at downtown’s Marriot City Center brimmed with almost 250 businesses, each posted up for two days to convince business owners and consumers that they can contribute to the rapidly expanding industry.

Child-proof packaging producers set up booths next to potency-testing lab companies, light manufactures, insurance agents, real-estate brokers, law firms, soil salesmen, and even point-of-sale and business-management software engineers. And there was very little actual cannabis on display or available.

In fact, all the samples that edibles companies gave out were non-infused, meaning they included zero THC or CBD. A demo of a hydroponic-growing tank sprayed water on the suspended roots of Marigolds, not pot plants. And even the industrial vacuum sealer demonstration included a bag of moss instead of bud.

“I’m from Humboldt, and we used to be a small group of businesses catering to the growers, everyone knew everyone,” explained Kelly Nicholson, the North America sales director of Autogrow, a company that’s been selling nutrient-dosing machines for agriculture for more than twenty years. “Now, there’s tons of new people — and I know maybe six booths.”

This is one of the many side effects of taking the cannabis industry out of the shadows and putting it in the hands of the government. Cova, for example, is a company that launched last week. They sell software to dispensaries so that they can ring up customers with a point-of-sale program on touch-screen tablets. Its parent company, iQmetrix, has its software powering 19,000 wireless retail locations.

Brendan Carroll explaining how the Yofumo curing box removes the mold, yeast, and bacteria from flowers. - NATE SHEIDLOWER
  • Nate Sheidlower
  • Brendan Carroll explaining how the Yofumo curing box removes the mold, yeast, and bacteria from flowers.

“Legalization and regulation are really legitimizing the industry, and that is attracting talent from other industries,” said Brandon Carroll, co-founder of Yofumo, a company that sells curing boxes for already-harvested cannabis.

Carroll’s product is an example of how Prop. 64 is expanding the scope of the cannabis industry. He and his business partner, Yofumo CEO Alfonso Campalans, both came from a background in financial-management software. The chief engineering officer, Alex Grey, built satellites before joining the company.

His actual product is a gun safe-sized box, which starts at $5,000 and can hold up to six pounds of cannabis for curing, or drying. The boxes remove all of the yeast, mold, and bacteria, leaving only the plant matter, cannabinoids, and terpenes. But he says it also creates a more aromatic marijuana flower: he opened a Harborside bag which he called “the control” and it smelled like good pot, but it was nothing too special. Then, he opened a jar of nugs that had been cured in the Yofumo box — they smelled like a fresh cherry blossom.

“Crazy, right?” he asked. “That’s cherry kush.”

Campalans first had the idea for the box some four years ago, when he saw a need in the industry: Everyone focused on the growing process, and no one was looking at how the cannabis is treated before it reaches the consumer. Work to design the boxes began two years later, and the company launched nationally this week, selling every machine they brought to the summit.

Evan Andrea stands next to the model of Bella Toka Grow Box he used to demo at the summit. - NATE SHEIDLOWER
  • Nate Sheidlower
  • Evan Andrea stands next to the model of Bella Toka Grow Box he used to demo at the summit.
Recognizing a void and working to fill it seemed to be a common theme for businesses at the conference. Mike Newton used to grow his own cannabis, to help with his back pain, until he realized six months of work only yielded him one month’s supply. He became determined to maximize yield, while at the same time making the growing process fluid and easy. Newton founded Bella Toka and began manufacturing the Grow Box last week, a tool that can hold up to seven plants and is designed for that very purpose.

Simply put, the grow box is two pots of soil stacked on top of each other with a screen in between, and a rack on top of the pots similar to a cage used with tomato plants. The screen removes the hassle that normally comes with growing marijuana of transferring the plant to a bigger pot for the flowering process.

“When it’s time to begin flowering, you just pull this out,” Newton’s business partner Evan Andrea explained as he removed the screen, allowing for the roots to extend down into more soil.

But even though many of the exhibits featured products that would interact with cannabis in some way, there was one company that had nothing to do with tangible pot.

Mentor Capital is a group that invests in cannabis businesses and works to help take them public. CEO Chet Billingsley founded the company in 1985. Before entering the cannabis world in mid-2013, he invested in cancer research and treatment companies.

“In the world of cancer, cannabis is a godsend,” Billingsley told the Express. He said by bringing his Wall Street background to the cannabis industry he feels he can do more good than previously.

But investing in cannabis businesses is a little bit different than other types of companies. Mentor Capital acquires an interest in larger, private cannabis companies, provides them with funding, and helps them prepare their accounting and board structure so that they can eventually be spun off as a stand-alone public company.

Cannabis companies could also remain with Mentor Capital, who asks for 5 percent of the company’s equity, which Billingsley said is about half what it costs to go public through other methods, such as a reverse merger.

He said now is the perfect time for smaller companies like his to get in to the industry, because it is not yet clear exactly how the federal government, under President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will act with regards to cannabis businesses.

“The big guys and the medium guys have got too much to lose,” he said.

Throughout the two-day summit, discussion of Trump was sporadic. Kayla Bertsch, a horticultural engineer for Solexx, a company that’s sold plastic greenhouse coverings for over two decades, said she feels “scared about the sustainability and the future of the industry” because of the current administration.

Indeed, a lot is unknown when it comes cannabis and Trump. But another president came to the NCIA summit last week, and he was not silent about his view of the future of the industry.

Former president of Mexico Vicente Fox delivering the keynote address at the NCIA summit. - COURTESY OF NCIA
  • Courtesy of NCIA
  • Former president of Mexico Vicente Fox delivering the keynote address at the NCIA summit.
Former president of Mexico Vicente Fox was the keynote speaker, introduced by NCIA executive director Aaron Smith as “the first world leader to address the cannabis industry.”

Throughout Fox’s 45-minute speech, he spoke about how much pain people in Mexico have experienced because of the war on drugs, and how legalization is the road to ending crime that causes this pain. He acknowledged the work it took to get the cannabis industry to where it is today, and the industry’s potential.

“You’ve been striving, you’ve been struggling to open things, to change laws, to change behavior, to change image and perception. You’re doing that every day, and you will keep on doing it.” Fox told the audience. “Each of you can start with a small business in California or Oregon or Colorado, but you’re dreaming to become global and you are going to.”

And a moment before Fox’s speech, during a press conference, indicated how far marijuana truly has come: A man stood up and questioned the president’s choice of language. “Why do you call cannabis a drug?” he asked. “It’s an herb, it has flowers, and there are many herbs that have been used in naturopathic healing for millennia that are not called drugs.”

“I’m also ignorant sometimes, as Trump,” Fox responded. “I’m going to call it a flower now, a plant, no problem.”

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

City of Richmond to Feds: We Won’t Help You Bust Our Residents for Pot

by Nate Sheidlower
Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 1:15 PM

Last night, Richmond City Council declared that it won’t use city resources to help the federal government apprehend people for marijuana.

The council adopted a resolution in solidarity with a state bill that would prohibit state and local agencies from assisting the feds in any efforts to bust individuals for marijuana offenses legal under state law (unless directed to do so by a court order). Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, an L.A.-based Democrat, introduced the bill in late February, and it passed the Assembly last Thursday by a vote of 41 to 32.

Richmond is the second East Bay city, after Oakland, to support this bill, and the third in the state, with the West Hollywood also sending in a letter of support. The California Growers Association also has a petition on its website in favor of the bill with more than 300 signatures.

Former President Barak Obama’s administration assured states that lawful marijuana would not be subject to harassment or arrest by the federal government. According to an Assembly analysis, A.B. 1578 was drafted because the Trump administration has swayed the other direction, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinting at a possible crackdown on cannabis offenders.

“Considering Proposition 64 just passed in California, and here in Richmond we have a cultivation tax on the books, I don’t think it makes sense for us to be supporting the federal government with our local resources to go after any of these actors,” Councilmember Melvin Willis, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said at the June 6 meeting.

While Californians legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and recreational adult use last November, cannabis remains on the federal controlled substances list, and is therefore illegal at the federal level. A.B. 1578 would not stop state or local agencies from assisting the feds to go after anyone operating outside of state law, i.e. those in possession of large amounts or cultivating, processing, or distributing without the proper license.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

City of Albany Expands Ban on Marijuana Businesses, Outdoor Growing

by Nate Sheidlower
Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The Albany City Council voted unanimously last night to add commercial recreational businesses and general outdoor cultivation — whether commercial or personal — to the city’s list of prohibited activities related to marijuana.

Medical marijuana dispensaries and commercial cultivation sites are already banned in Albany, since 2011, and now councilmembers have directed their staff to expand the ordinance.

Councilmembers debated whether the potential financial benefits from both local and state taxes outweighed the potential increase in crime, and the unknown effect that allowing marijuana business to operate within city limits would have on the community. They decided to continue with prohibition, and wait to see what happens in other cities in 2018, before deciding the best course for Albany.

This action by the Council is in stark contrast with Albany’s neighboring city of El Cerrito, which voted in April to instigate a public process to remove its city-wide ban on marijuana businesses after the passage of California Proposition 64 last November.

Under Prop. 64, each local municipality has the authority to set its own regulations with regards to marijuana consumption in public places, marijuana business operation and taxation, and home and commercial cultivation. Cities such as Albany have the power to completely shut out the legal marijuana industry, the only thing they can’t do is prohibit indoor home cultivation.

But no matter how much control each city wishes to have, they’ve only got until January 1 to get their laws on the books before the State starts issuing business licenses.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Prop. 64 Rolls Out New Ads, No on 64 Touts Unfavorable New Poll

by David Downs
Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 9:38 AM

The proponents of an initiative to legalize marijuana for adults in California are launching a series of online videos that will be appearing on television, as well.

Thursday, Yes on 64 uploaded “Common Sense,” featuring California’s former director of finance, Tom Campbell, appealing to extremely important swing voters. The video has not been made public as of this morning.


In the video, tinkling piano notes play, the suit-and-tie-wearing Campbell says, “As California’s former director of finance I assure you Proposition 64 is a smarter, safer, more fiscally sound approach to adult-use marijuana than what our state is currently doing.

“So, though I never tried marijuana and I don’t advocate others doing so, I’m voting Yes on 64 to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for adults 21 and over. 64 has strict safeguards for families and a billion dollars in new revenue for our state’s greatest needs. So vote yes on 64.”

The ad rollout comes amid a new poll showing Proposition 64’s support at just 51 percent, with a 3.7 percent margin of error. The No on 64 camp on Tuesday touted the results of the automated poll conducted October 13-15 via phone and online.

“Proposition 64 … is backed 51% to 40%. Unchanged from mid-and late-September,” Survey USA states.

“The survey was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on their home telephones (58% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephones in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (42% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on the screen of their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device. Polling ballot measures and citizen initiatives is an inexact science,” Survey USA states.
Among all polls, Survey USA polls have generally yielded results showing the least support for Proposition 64. However, the polling group is correct when it states: “In general, having nothing to do with California specifically and having nothing to do with 2016 uniquely, opposition to a ballot measure increases as Election Day approaches. Rarely does support for a ballot measure increase over time. As a result, the outcome of Prop 64 cannot be assured at this hour.”

No on 64 has promised to start airing their own video ad in the pivotal Los Angeles market, stating in Spanish that marijuana candy advertising would be coming to television “on shows children watch.”

“We can’t allow our children to be put at risk,” the ad states.

(In fact, federal communications law prohibits advertising banned drugs on broadcast television and radio. Station owners that do could lose their jobs and their station’s FCC licenses. Prop 64 also explicitly prohibits advertising to children.)

Last week, veteran campaign experts said they expected Proposition 64 to pass.

And in a press conference this week, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom stated: "We're working our tail off. ... If we’re able to continue where we are today, with this kind of a pace of energy, we’ll win.”

Also this week, Gallup reported 60 percent of Americans now support marijuana legalization.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Nurses Can Train on Marijuana This Friday in Lafayette

by David Downs
Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 9:16 AM

Mainstream medical practitioners and institutions are woefully behind the curve on cannabinoids.

But as adult-use legalization spreads, it also lifts the lingering stigma over mainstream medical uses for pot. Dramatic inroads are being made.

The Apothecarium launches a new physician outreach program with Mayor Jean Quan’s husband Dr. Floyd Huen this October.

And over in Lafayette Friday, nurses can get trained on cannabinoid medicine from two rock stars in the space: Alice O’Leary Randall, LPN, CT; and the East Bay's Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC.

Patients in many nursing homes and hospice care facilities are prohibited from using cannabis-based tinctures and oils. - STEPHEN LOEWINSOHN
  • Stephen Loewinsohn
  • Patients in many nursing homes and hospice care facilities are prohibited from using cannabis-based tinctures and oils.
Nurses who attend the Nurses Medical Cannabis Workshop: A Clinical Focus, obtain six contact hours per session, which may count toward continuing education requirements.

Experts say doctors and nurses are not currently trained on the endocannabinoid system, and lack basic information about the plant, its compounds, dosing and drug interactions, and indications. Yet about one in 20 California adults are estimated to have used cannabis for serious medical condition.

Theisen specializes in female seniors — some of the most cannabis-phobic patients around. Randall is a noted medical voice on cannabis, and former partner of Robert Randall, a celebrity federal medical marijuana patient.

The event is sponsored by United Patients Group and Green Health Consultants and is $225.

The California Board of Registered Nursing is listed as the provider for a total of six (6) CE Certified Contact Hours.

The duo also conducts the workshop Saturday in San Rafael.

[David Downs is the author of The Medical Marijuana Guidebook, America's most practical guide for patients and caregivers.]

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Marijuana and Election 2016: Grading the Candidates and Measures on Pot-Friendliness

by David Downs
Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 10:18 AM

The deadline to register to vote in California is eleven days out. Vote by mail packets are already hitting mailboxes statewide.

For folks hoping to end the drug war, there’s ample opportunity up and down the ballot to express the will of the people, whether it be: voting in local city council members and county supervisors who will decide if your town can have a medical dispensary — and eventually a recreational one; voting in state races to pick representatives who will defend and expand safe access at the state level, a well as shield the industry from rapacious special interests; to voting for Congress members and Senators who will decide if banking reform and tax reforms get a hearing in Congress, let alone a floor vote, or approval.

California's multi-billion cannabis industry hangs in the balance of the General Election. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • California's multi-billion cannabis industry hangs in the balance of the General Election.
The Drug Policy Forum of California, an influential online site, has released its General Election Voters Guide to Drug Policy Reform recently. The beefy Guide covers candidates and state measures, highlighting pro-reform votes in green, anti-reform votes in red, and neutral votes black.

Of note:

— The DPFCA Voter Guide is technically neutral on California legalization Prop. 64, but mostly endorses it, with fears about tickets for smoking in public, and taxes.

“Observers agree that a victory for legalization in California would be a powerful boost for marijuana reform both nationally and internationally. On the other hand, defeat would undoubtedly be interpreted as a major setback to legalization and likely invite a crackdown,” the DPFCA Guide states.

— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets a "neutral" vote, and so does Republican nominee Donald Trump. However, Trump’s second in command Mike Pence is totally anti-reform. Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, and Green party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein advocate full legalization of marijuana, and get the DPFCA’s green light.

— In the race for Sen. Boxer’s seat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County clinches a green light from reformers, while Attorney General Kamala Harris gets a "neutral" rating.

“More seriously, Harris failed to speak up against the federal crackdown on dispensaries in California, despite the fact that as former District Attorney of San Francisco she should have known that the city’s dispensaries were working well and the federal charges against them were bogus. … her lack of leadership in the state has been troubling.” 
— Over in the races for open Congressional seats, DPFCA highlights the die-hard prohibitionists who want to represent you in Congress, specifically calling for voters to send home in defeat: Doug LaMalfa (R- Redding/ N.E. Cal.); Jeff Denham (R-Modesto); Darrell Issa (R-Vista); Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield); Scott Jones (R-Sacramento Co.); Casey Lucas (R-Monterey); and Paul Chabot (R-San Bernardino).

Rep. La Malfa thinks pot should be considered as dangerous as heroin, and has said “any measure that would continue to keep it as a controlled substance I would support." 

All across inland and Southern California, voters can defeat recalcitrant Republicans — like in Rancho Cordova/Roseville where pro-reform Democrat Ami Bera is battling former Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who is "100% against" legalization. Pro-reform voters can make a difference in races in Monterey, Squaw Valley, California City, Palmdale, San Bernardino, Irvine, Orange County, and Oceanside.

— Also, there are about 50 local ballot measures related to cannabis.

Read the full Guide to see your local legislative races and ballot measures, as well.

And to those who say 'voting amounts to tacit support for a corrupt system', we reply, “Cool. So when the revolution starts, should we just send you an email or something?”

As Lt. Gov. Newsom told the cannabis industry this summer in Oakland, “Our actions matter. By doing nothing, you’ve done everything, by abdicating any responsibility for the world we’re living in.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown Licenses California’s Smallest Medical Pot Farmers

by David Downs
Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 12:02 PM

Gov. Jerry Brown provided a path to licensure for California’s smaller medical cannabis gardeners that want to sell their crop into the regulated commercial market.

"Dutch Crunch" medical marijuana
  • "Dutch Crunch" medical marijuana

The governor signed the so-called “cottage” licensing bill, A.B. 2516, on September 29, creating a Type 1C, or “specialty cottage,” state cultivator license.

A licensed cottage grower could have up to 2,500 square feet of total canopy size in a greenhouse; up to 25 mature plants outdoors; or 500 square feet indoors, on one premise.

Growers get the license from the state’s food and agriculture department, and the state license pairs with local licenses.

The cottage licensing law addresses new anxieties about industrial agriculture disrupting the economics of the otherwise unmechanized crop.

Local cottage licenses have yet to be crafted. Meanwhile, medical marijuana megafarms are being licensed and grandfathered in as fast as cash-thirsty cities can pass ordinances.

The rich cultivation cultures of the Bay Area’s urban center are facing the stresses of a fully legal, soon-to-be-regulated sector. San Francisco growers say lack of local licensing threatens to push them out. Oakland is mired in a potentially illegal equity permit program already diminishing its competitiveness.

Pot prices plummet under legalization, which erases the ‘risk premium’ on weed. Overproduction also drives out inefficient gardeners. The RAND Drug Policy Research Center estimates one gram of cannabis could fall from a black market high of $20 to about $2. You could grow all of California's annual supply on 1,100 acres, according to new estimates.

Several enacted and proposed laws and regulations aim to preserve small farmers who could command boutique pricing similar to vinters and brewers.

“As this industry moves forward, we need to make sure that all farmers, regardless of size, can come into compliance – that’s what success looks like,” stated Assemblymember Jim Wood, the bill’s sponsor.

In related news, cottage licensing supporter and director of the California Growers Association Hezekiah Allen told the Lost Coast Outpost he would not vote to legalize marijuana — unless it heralds a planet-wide return to pre-industrial agriculture.

"We need to fundamentally reconsider the way our farms and businesses relate to the natural world," he said.

California has a several billion-dollar medical cannabis industry, is the leading domestic supplier to the nation which spends tens of billions on cannabis annually, RAND finds. California currently makes about 20,000 marijuana-related arrests each year, resulting in several hundred million dollars in adjudication costs, according to state estimates.

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