World-famous Humboldt Cannabis Growers Apply for First-Ever County Permits
Although California legalized medical cannabis in 1996, medical cannabis growers in Humboldt County have been rather low-key about their businesses. On February 26, this changed as generations of growers were ecstatic as they were able to apply to legally grow cannabis without fear of prosecution. Up until now, Humboldt County’s laws on growing medical cannabis were rather restrictive: “It’s kind of validating things we’ve been chastised for years and years and years,” stated Brandy Siebuhr who’s been a grower in Humboldt County for 20 years. Under a recently approved ordinance that allows the commercial cultivation, distribution and manufacturing of cannabis, the county set up land use regulations and permitting guidelines for growers. This is the result of a year-long effort between county officials and cannabis advocates, according to Times Standard.
San Jose Discusses Changes to MMJ Program
On March 16, a public hearing was held at the San Jose City Hall to discuss possible changes to the city’s medical cannabis laws, according to FOX 2. So far, the city’s 16 collectives have been operating in accordance to a 2014 ordinance passed by the City Council, stating that they must cultivate outside of San Jose County bounds and have 1,000-foot buffer zones between schools, churches and other “safety zones.” However, in December council members got together to discuss creating a Division of Medical Marijuana Control among other things. The March 16 meeting was intended to hear what the public had to say about proposed changes to the city’s medical cannabis program. The feedback submitted by the public was scheduled to be presented to City Council on March 29, as this publication went to press.
Cannabis Clubs in Colorado Springs Have Eight Years to Phase Out
The Colorado Springs City Council voted 6-3 to continue to enact its ban on cannabis clubs. Initially the clubs were only going to be given five years to phase out but Councilman Tom Strand amended the original guidelines and the clubs will now have eight years, according to The Gazette. During this eight-year timeline, cannabis clubs are expected to pay to be licensed through the City Clerk’s Office like other cannabis and liquor establishments. In attempt to alter the council’s position on the matter 70 people attended the meeting to testify but came out unsuccessful. Many expressed concern for veterans who suffer from PTSD, asking councilmembers where these men will go to medicate safely and in good company. Councilman Keith King urged club owners to work to get an initiative on the ballot to try to save the clubs and the community created along with them.
Cannabis Tax Will Help Fund Education for Low Income Latinos in Pueblo
A new voter initiated excise cannabis tax in Pueblo is set to help low income Latinos go to college. The tax is expected to generate $700,000 in revenue and will fund a scholarship for Latino high school seniors planning on going to local community or state colleges, according to Fusion. Currently Latinos make up 43 percent of Pueblo County’s population, yet only 21 percent of Pueblo City’s residents have Bachelor’s Degrees. The fund is expected to grow by five percent in 2020 and will be able to match other local grants. Drug Policy Alliance Spokesman Art Way told Fusion that other cities in Colorado plan on making similar moves to promote public education and health. Last year Colorado’s cannabis industry collected $135 million in taxes, showing the economic boost a safe and regulated industry can bring to any state.
Moratorium Extended for Medical Cannabis in Apple Valley
A moratorium on Apple Valley’s medical cannabis collectives, manufacturers, cultivation and delivery was extended from 45 days to a little over 10 months, according to Daily Press. The Town Council initially voted on the moratorium in January to maintain control over its medical cannabis market in conjunction with the Medical Marijuana Regulations and Safety Act. The extension came after Mayor Barb Stanton visited a local collective and was surprised by the clientele, “ . . . they all were as old as I am or older. Every one of them . . . I was very, very surprised,” stated Stanton. Stanton went on to express her support for those in need of medical cannabis as therapy, revealing potential for the city to ease up on current regulations. Since 2008, the city prohibited medical cannabis collectives according to My California Cannabis.
First Licensed Collective in Orange County Unionizes Workers
South Coast Safe Access has become the first legally licensed medical cannabis collective in Orange County and is already getting off to a good start. The collective has signed a labor agreement with United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 324 (UFCW 324) that will help provide its 22 employees with a number of benefits. The contract with UFCW offers starting a minimum wage of $13.50 an hour, health benefits, paid vacation and pension, according to the Orange County Register. South Coast Safe Access started working with UFCW 324 after the Medical Marijuana Regulations and Safety Act (MMRSA) was approved by Governor Jerry Brown in October. MMRSA Senate Bill 643 requires collectives with 20 employees or more to sign a contract stating that they will not prevent employees from becoming unionized. UFCW 324 plans on working with other collectives in Orange County to help expand and professionalize the county’s medical cannabis market.
Group Hopes to Halt Dismantling of Detroit Cannabis Collectives
Citizens for Sensible Cannabis Reform introduced a referendum that could reverse zoning rules on collectives if approved to appear on election ballots in August, according to Mlive. Last month, Detroit opened a 30-day window to allow collectives to apply to legally be run in the city. Although this seemed like an effort for officials to ease up on collectives, those who applied for a license found it nearly impossible not to run into some kind of zoning problem. As reported by Mlive, the collectives learned that they are located too close to a number of zoning areas including a Drug Free Zone, child day care center and a church to name a few. The referendum is being reviewed by the City Elections Department to determine if all signatures are legitimate.
Protestors Vocalize Discontent Over Collective Raids
On March 13, 100 protesters stood outside of the Michigan State Police Gaylord station to address 10 collective raids that occurred during the previous week. The raids were conducted by Straits Area Narcotics Enforcement (S.A.N.E.) and resulted in two arrests. Of the 10 raids, nine were in Gaylord and one in Vanderbilt. “The businesses were operating within the spirit of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, and that the medical marijuana patients of Otsego county are being harassed,” protesters stated. Two collective owners from the Cannabis Stakeholders Group, Chad Morrow and Ben Horner, help organize the protests, and stated that it is the second time over the past several years that collectives in Gaylord have been raided, according to Up North Live. This has caused many patients in Gaylord to feel targeted by police.
Oregon Set to Become First State to Legalize Cannabis Business Banking
House Bill 4094 has been passed in Oregon, making it the first state to remove all criminal penalties for banks and credit unions that work with state-regulated cannabis businesses, according to Marijuana Politics. This will allow collectives to manage money more safely as most have been forced to keep their earnings in-store, causing concern for robbery. “I suspect the passage of HB-4094 will inspire other adult use and medical cannabis states to follow Oregon’s lead on solidifying banking reforms at the local level in the not too distant future,” stated Sam Chapman of New Economy Consulting who helped lead the lobbying effort for the bill. This bill was created by Oregon State Treasurer candidate Tobias Read and is currently awaiting approval from Governor Kate Brown.
“Clean Air Act” Forces Beloved Cannabis Café to Close
Portland’s World Famous Cannabis Café closed in early March after its owner Madeline Martinez received warnings from the Public Health Department following Oregon’s Clean Air Act, which came into effect on January 1. Martinez believes that the Health Department has violated her First Amendment right to “gather peacefully,” and plans to take the matter to legislature to fight it, as reported by Kion 6. The Cannabis Café had its last night of “Stoner Bingo” on March 7 with Martinez stating that it was “a little bitter sweet.” Now that the café is closed Martinez plans on lobbying for a change to the Clean Air Act in 2017 according to The Oregonian. She believes that cannabis cafes should be on the Act’s list of exemptions.
Oceanside Allows Cannabis Delivery Under Strict Guidelines
Although medical cannabis collectives are strictly prohibited in Oceanside, the City Council made a split decision on March 2 to allow delivery services. Delivery services interested in working with medical cannabis patients in Oceanside will have to apply for a city business license that must be approved by the city attorney and police chief, as well as provide the names of all drivers along with copies of their licenses and proof of insurance, according to The San Diego Tribune. Other restrictions include clean driving and criminal records for drivers and liability insurance policy of $1 million. These requirements are a far stretch to some concerned citizens as Oceanside resident David Newman stated, “A dispensary an hour away is not going to go out of its way to register every driver with the Oceanside Police Department, get a restrictive business license, carry a $1 million policy and be subject to background checks to deliver a $50 order.”
Buffer Zones Eased for Collectives in San Diego
The San Diego City Council voted on March 14 to measure the 1,000-foot buffer zone between “sensitive use” areas differently. Previously, the city would measure the distance between collectives and sensitive use areas—which include schools, churches and parks—in a straight line, through buildings and other geographic obstructions. Now the city will measure the zone in walking distance along streets or sidewalks, according to KPBS. Although this is a positive change, the city’s current restriction of only four collectives per district still stands in place. San Diego medical cannabis lawyer Kimberly Simms believes that this will still leave neighborhoods or districts with no reasonable locations for collectives to operate. However, it is still a small victory for collective owners and as Simms stated, “Those who are part of the regulated cannabis industry are happy with the small, incremental steps.”
Tacoma Planning Commission Refines the City’s Cannabis Regulations
Tacoma’s Planning Commission is clearing up its regulations concerning the production, retail and processing of medical cannabis, creating buffer zones and requiring access points to have state medical endorsements, merging retail and medical sales as implied in Washington’s current laws. According to Tacoma Weekly, the Planning commission proposed a 100-foot minimum buffer between access points and video game arcades, child care centers, public libraries, public transit centers and recreational centers. Access points are also required to be 300-feet away from other cannabis businesses, court houses and drug rehabilitation or detoxification centers. Other buffers include 1,000 feet away from schools and playgrounds. The city’s Planning Commission plans to hold a public meeting on these proposed regulations on April 19 with a first reading in City Council planned for April 26.
Changes Made to Cannabis Access Point Licensing System
With the passing of Senate Bill 5052 last year, medical cannabis access points in Washington are now required to apply for a retail license by June 1. Unfortunately, the state only plans on issuing 556 licenses, according to KVEW-TV. With the recent number of medical cannabis patients registered in Washington, the state needs roughly 1,200 access points to fulfill demands, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Washington. This limitation on licenses has access point owners worried that they may have to close. Steve Lee, owner of Green2Go Collective Garden stated that a retail license initially costed $1,000 but with limitations set by SB-5052, he would probably have to pay a quarter of a million dollars to obtain one from an already wealthy cannabis entrepreneur, as reported by KVEW-TV.
Vermont May be First State to Legalize Recreational Through Legislature
Vermont could be the first state to legalize recreational cannabis through legislation rather than voter initiative, according to The National Memo. A bill that was passed by the Senate after a year of review will allow adults 21 and over to enjoy recreational cannabis by 2018. During its year-long review, Senate determined limits on recreational cannabis use and determined that it would not permit personal cultivation or edible consumption. Aside from the restrictions set forth by the Senate, the bill will also impose a 25 percent tax on recreational cannabis that will go towards drug enforcement and drug education programs. While the bill has been approved by Senate, state Representatives are expected to review it before the legislative session ends in May. Cannabis advocates in the state believe that this will encourage other states to pass recreational laws through legislation as well.
Switzerland Hopes to Fight Cannabis Black Market with Legal Clubs
With cannabis reform in Europe slowly taking shape, Switzerland has revealed a plan to open four cannabis clubs in Geneva, Zurich, Bern and Basel. The clubs are pilot programs intended to help people with existing drug problems and are planned to allow 2,000 people to use cannabis therapy legally, according to RT. Although this seems like a legitimate approach on minimizing the cannabis black market in Switzerland, this topic has been under debate since 2014, with the Swiss People’s Party in Geneva opposing the movement because to them, cannabis is a “hard drug.” Currently an estimated 500,000 people illegally use cannabis in Switzerland. In 2013, the federal government decided to remove possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis from its list of criminal offenses and only fine 100 francs those convicted of possession.