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News Nuggets – February 2018




Bay Area


Mountain View City Council Allows Cannabis Deliveries

On Jan. 16, the Mountain View City Council voted 7-0 in favor of allowing cannabis deliveries. Cannabis delivery services were allowed to begin operating on Jan. 19. Mountain View is also one of the few cities in Santa Clara County to express interest in allowing cannabis retail businesses as well. “One of the arguments for allowing retail pot shops is that we can collect more revenues . . .” Councilperson Margaret Abe-Koga said, disagreeing about deliveries in the city until they figure out the tax situation first. “But we’re going to let this through without figuring out that piece. If we’re going to do this, we should do it right from the beginning.” The city council also enacted a 45-day moratorium on recreational cannabis sales, giving them more time to address local regulations.


Calaveras County Bans Cannabis Cultivation

Normally cannabis-friendly Calaveras County recently pulled a 180 degree turn and banned cannabis cultivation. The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Jan. 10 to ban all cannabis cultivation. Chapter 17.95 was rescinded and replaced with a new version of Chapter 17.95 “banning or regulating cannabis cultivation and related commercial activities.” Calaveras County’s some 200 permitted cultivators could have only three months to cease operations. Some are multigenerational. “We’re looking at turning the county on the fringe of being a poor county to an even poorer county,” said Bill Hand, a cultivation farmer in Calaveras County. “We make our money here legally. We spend money at the hardware store, grocery store and laundry store.” Four of the new board members’ campaigns hinged upon banning cannabis. Now, farmers in the area are considering qualifying a ballot measure to reverse the ban.


Colorado Uses Cannabis Revenue in Place of Big Tobacco Funding

Colorado received a huge settlement from tobacco companies in the mid-1990s, and the hundreds of millions of dollars have been funding statewide programs ever since. However, now that the money from the tobacco industry is finally dwindling, the state is turning to cannabis. “Tobacco master settlement revenues have been steadily declining for years, yet important health programs were dependent upon them,” Pat Steadman, former state senator, told CULTURE. Steadman worked on the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee and helped allocate cannabis funding. “Meanwhile, the new marijuana tax revenues have continued to grow, so the solution was readily apparent. By refinancing certain health programs with marijuana tax revenues, we stabilized the funding for all the tobacco settlement programs.” This appears to be yet another sign of the times that tobacco sales are on the way out, and cannabis tax revenue will now fund many major state programs.

Longmont Working to Remove Confidential Info from Business Applications

The city of Longmont is now allowing dispensaries to open within city limits. However, the licensing process hit a snag when license applications were publicly posted on Dec. 1, 2017, which contained confidential information. The city is claiming, however, that it was the fault of the applicants. “The applicants themselves were supposed to redact their marijuana business applications; specifically, they were required to submit two electronic versions, one redacted version and one un-redacted,” Shawn Lewis, assistant city manager of Longmont, told CULTURE. “Even though redacting was the responsibility of the applicants as required by the city’s application guidelines, city staff is now spending a great deal of time going through the applications and redacting them on behalf of the businesses that submitted them.” Regardless of where the fault lies, it is clear that there is interest from entrepreneurs, and once this obstacle is cleared, a local industry is likely to emerge.

Los Angeles

Pasadena City Council Votes to Draft Cannabis Initiative

On Jan. 22, the Pasadena City Council unanimously approved a motion to draft an initiative to regulate cannabis in time for the June 5 ballot. Last year, Pasadena officials passed Ordinance No. 7313, banning the sale or distribution of both recreational and medical cannabis. The original ordinance remains intact for now, but it may not for much longer. Councilperson Victor Gordo suggested that the council approve the ordinance with an option to modify the language. “That way, if the ordinance contains everything we want, we will have it ready,” stated Gordo. The city council also decided to draft a cannabis taxation ordinance, should cannabis sales be allowed in the future. Under any new ordinance, sales and distribution activities would be tightly regulated. By drafting its own ordinance, the city council could abate numerous ongoing cannabis referendums proposed by local voters.

Compton Rejects Two Cannabis Initiatives

Despite once being synonymous with high-grade cannabis during the ’90s, Compton has become an unfriendly place for cannabis consumers. On Jan. 23, Compton voters overwhelmingly rejected Measure C, 76 percent to 23 percent, and Measure I, 77 percent to 23 percent. Both competing measures would have set up similar cannabis sales and cultivation regulations. While Measure C would have imposed a 10 percent business tax, Measure I would have imposed a five percent business tax. Since both measures failed, Compton’s existing ban on cannabis businesses remains intact. Compton residents who spoke out at the Compton Senior Center about the issue argued that the community has “enough” cannabis activity going on already. The city is still home to one of the highest violent crime rates in Los Angeles County, although it’s debatable whether cannabis would have a positive or negative effect on crime.


Report Reveals Medical Cannabis Funds Spent on Law Enforcement in 2017

Law enforcement agencies across Michigan are utilizing excess medical cannabis revenue to fuel their operational efforts. Fifty-four of Michigan’s 83 counties received a total of $1.83 million in medical cannabis enforcement grants from the state in 2017, according to the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation’s FY 2017 report dated Dec. 19, 2017. It’s over twice the law enforcement funding that was collected in 2016. The revenue will go toward improvements on overtime pay, cultivation raids, vehicles, surveillance equipment, guns, tasers and tactical gear. Funding future raids, however, probably isn’t what Michigan cannabis proponents had in mind when they voted to legalize medical cannabis in 2008. The grant program was created three years ago and provides law enforcement agencies with funding proportionately based on the amount of patients and caregivers.


Bay City Overrides Mayor’s Medical Cannabis Veto

On Dec. 21, 2017, Bay City Mayor Kathleen Newsham vetoed Ordinance 2017-19, which would have allowed for medical cannabis facilities. However, on Jan. 2, The Bay City Commission voted 8-1 to override Newsham’s veto. The ordinance establishes Chapter 30, Medical Marihuana Facilities, into the city’s municipal code. “Section 30-503 was originally authored to reflect five licenses each for Growers (Class A, B and C), Processors, Secure Transporters, Provisioning Centers and Safety Compliance locations,” Mayor Kathleen Newsham’s veto read. “An amendment was made and approved to increase the numbers to 25 of each, and 50 provisioning centers. I feel that the original numbers were more fitting for our community size and after time, if needed, we can re-evaluate the numbers and change accordingly.” Despite the mayor’s concerns, the ordinance is still in place, and businesses can apply for a license after Jan. 3, according to City Manager Dana Muscott.


Oregon to Issues Hemp Cultivation Licenses

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) said on Jan. 5 that the approval process for hemp products under the OLCC’s licensed cannabis program has been finalized. The rules took effect on Dec. 28, 2017, and a new hemp section on the OLCC’s website was created. The new set of rules, established by Senate Bill 1015, “provides that industrial hemp grower may transfer industrial hemp, and that industrial hemp handler may transfer industrial hemp concentrates and extracts, to marijuana processor licensed by Oregon Liquor Control Commission under certain circumstances.” Hemp producers and processors, which fall under the Oregon Department of Agriculture, will need to obtain an Industrial Hemp Certificate. OLCC-licensed cannabis processors, on the other hand, will need to obtain an Industrial Hemp Endorsement. All forms can be found in the new hemp section on the OLCC’s website.


Portland City Council Urges Oregon U.S. Attorney to Stand Up to Jeff Sessions
Portland, arguably one of the most progressive cities in America, is urging the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon to resist the recent actions of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. On Jan. 4, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, ending America’s non-interference policy with state cannabis programs. On Jan. 9, the Portland City Council sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Billy Williams, demanding that he protect Oregon’s legal cannabis market. In the letter, the city council “strongly” opposed any action from the Department of Justice, which would continue the failed “War on Drugs,” adding that “It has especially failed communities of color disproportionately targeted and prosecuted for low-level drug offenses.” Williams said he’d continue his focus only on cannabis that’s headed illegally out of the state and criminal organizations. It’s currently unclear how the rescission of the Cole Memo will affect state cannabis programs.

San Diego

Medical Marijuana Inc. Celebrates its Largest Revenue Year

San Diego-based Medical Marijuana, Inc., along with its subsidiaries HempMeds® Mexico, HempMeds® Brazil and Kannaway®, announced on Jan. 8 that it recorded its largest-ever revenue year in the history of its operation. “We are excited to have surpassed our growth and revenue goals for this year. By breaking our annual sales record (pre-audit numbers) and investing into our future expansion efforts, we can provide our shareholders with an optimistic forecast for our future success,” stated Dr. Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana Inc.. “We expect to again set company-wide sales records in 2018 and are excited about the trends within the industry, including the growing acceptance of our products to a national and international audience.” Notably, HempMeds® Mexico President Raul Elizalde recently spoke out at the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence convention in Geneva, Switzerland, which may have helped the company grow to where it is today.


San Diego City Councilmember Targets Delivery Drivers

San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate is making it his own personal objective to crack down on illegal cannabis delivery drivers. Not only did Cate notify law enforcement, but he also threatened Weedmaps based on its comprehensive listings of delivery services. “Currently, Weedmaps serves as an online advertising platform for hundreds of marijuana delivery services in the city of San Diego,” Cate wrote. “A majority of these delivery services are considered illegal under the City Municipal Code. In an effort to ensure compliance with our city laws and the safe and legal access to marijuana, we respectfully request your voluntary compliance to cease the advertising of marijuana delivery services considered illegal under San Diego Municipal Code.” According to Cate, the majority of delivery services in San Diego are illegal because most delivery services in the area lack a Conditional Use Permit. Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, however, provides immunity from liability for companies like Weedmaps.


Cannabis Delivery May Soon be a Reality in Washington State

If mobility or transportation issues have been keeping you from enjoying all that Washington’s robust legal cannabis market has to offer, you may be in luck. In January, House Bill 2574 was introduced to the House Commerce & Gaming Committee by Rep. Shelley Kolba and a team of bipartisan local politicians. The bill’s aim is “permitting marijuana delivery to medical marijuana patients.” Rep. David Sawyer is the House Commerce & Gaming Committee Chair, and a co-sponsor of HB-2574. CULTURE reached out to Sawyer about his thoughts on the bill. “This bill is about ensuring patients have access to the medical products they need. Lawful and regulated home delivery service will help prevent the black market from taking advantage of patients with mobility challenges or other barriers to physically accessing a retail store.” Sawyer told CULTURE. “I look forward to moving this bill out of my committee with bipartisan support.”


New Cannabis Distribution Center to Open in Spokane

A Seattle-based company named düber Technologies Inc. announced last year that it would be opening up 15 cannabis distribution centers planned in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona. More recently, the company announced that it has chosen Spokane as one of the cities where it will open up a distribution hub, which is projected to bring 10 to 15 full-time jobs to the area. The company offers digital delivery services such as online ordering and digital signage, as well as other options. Among these services is also a unique delivery model, which CEO Glenn Ballman believes will help streamline how products are transferred from processors to dispensaries. “This expansion will allow us to serve our distribution and courier partners while continuing to expand our integrated, omnichannel, real-time platform to partners and consumers in key markets in the cannabis industry,” Ballman stated in a press release. The distribution facility is still in the planning phases, and a completion date has not yet been set.


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