News Nuggets – August 2019

Bay Area

Bureau of Cannabis Control Launches Campaign to Keep Cannabis Sales Legal

On June 21, the Bureau of Cannabis Control launched the “Get #weedwise” advertising campaign. The program is designed to discourage Californians from buying cannabis illegally. The bureau urges cannabis consumers in California to check the state’s online database to see if their current dispensary or delivery services are legal. Visitors can check if the dispensary or service legality by searching the database using the business’ address or license number. “The Bureau of Cannabis Control recently announced the launch of a statewide public information program, ‘Get #weedwise,’ encouraging consumers to only purchase cannabis from licensed businesses and warning unlicensed businesses to become licensed.” Illegal storefront shops continue to thrive in California because customers want to avoid paying taxes. The campaign will cost an estimated $1.7 million dollars to run over the next three years.

Concord Gathers Input for Recreational Cannabis Regulations

Ending on July 19, city officials gathered input from Concord residents on the option of allowing recreational cannabis cultivation, distribution and manufacturing companies in the city. Data was collected via a survey with 10 questions. “The City of Concord is now exploring additional updates to the Municipal Code to allow both medicinal and adult-use retail cannabis businesses in Concord,” the survey reads. Concord enacted a temporary ban on recreational cannabis businesses after Proposition 64 was approved, but leaders decided to allow deliveries and testing facilities, and the city already approved two medical cannabis manufacturers and two medical cannabis distributors. The issue is expected to reach the Planning Commission by fall, and the Concord City Council could vote on it as early as December 2019 or January 2020. As of mid-July, the survey has yielded 448 responses from residents.

Colorado

Colorado Cannabis Sales Continue to Grow

The Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR) details monthly and yearly sales for the state’s cannabis industry. After some ebb and flow in 2019 with low sales in the beginning of the year, the industry has reached its highest sales numbers yet. May 2019 has had the greatest totals in both medical and recreational sales so far since 2014, when recreational cannabis sales began. According to the Marijuana Sales Report from the Colorado DOR, sales from January to May in 2019 totaled $665.6 million. To compare, sales from January to May in 2018 totaled $612.8 million. Recreational sales totals alone in May amounted to a little over $143 million, which is about $7 million higher than in April. Trends have shown that since adult-use cannabis was introduced to the industry, recreational sales bring in a decent amount of money compared to medical transactions. As a whole, the numbers in Colorado’s cannabis industry have increased every year.

$14 Million in Cannabis Taxes Goes Toward Improving Denver Schools

Denver metro schools were granted $14 million to be split among them for building improvements, such as roof and boiler repairs and entire school construction. The money was raised by the Colorado State Board of Education for the Building Excellence school program. The $14 million comes directly from cannabis tax revenue, but more than $200 million was raised with money coming from other sectors. Jeremy Meyer from Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) Communication unit said, “The Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant program is funded through local matching dollars and revenue from the Colorado State Land Board, the Colorado Lottery and marijuana excise taxes.” Each school was directed to apply for their portion of the grant, and applications were reviewed and approved by the Capital Construction Assistance Fund. Each school district must match the funds donated to receive their grants. A news release from the CDE states, “The grants are intended to improve health, safety, security and technology in public schools.”

Los Angeles

Long Beach Moves to Incentivize Non-Retail Cannabis Businesses

Long Beach City Council unanimously voted on July 2 to explore ways of incentivizing non-dispensary cannabis businesses such as manufacturers and distributors. Councilmember Rex Richardson proposed the idea because the majority of cannabis tax revenue is coming from dispensaries and stores. Furthermore, in 2018, the city’s cannabis tax revenue was so low that it wasn’t enough to recover the cost of licensing, enforcement and other expenses. “This issue has been raised over the past few months,” Richardson said at the city council meeting. “The idea here is that this is a big issue. It’s not something we can simply place on the agenda and move forward; we’re going to need a number of levels of review.” The insurmountable cost of opening a manufacturing business is keeping a lot of businesspeople from even trying, according to comments from the public. The city council hopes that the new plan will encourage more people to open those types of businesses in Long Beach.

Michigan

Bay City’s First Medical Cannabis Provisioning Center Opens Doors

Skymint, the first medical cannabis provisioning center in Bay City, hosted its ribbon cutting ceremony on July 9. Skymint is owned by Green Peak Innovations, one of the largest licensed medical cannabis cultivators in the state of Michigan. “Skymint medical marijuana customers and employees personify blue sky thinkers who want only the best in life,” Green Peak Innovations CEO Jeff Radway stated. “Skymint is reimagining what the cannabis experience feels like. We are launching this industry-setting model right here in Michigan and plan to expand it nationally.” Bay City 7th Ward Commissioner Kerice Basmadjian and 3rd Ward City Commissioner Andrew Niedzinski attended the ceremony, supporting the new arrival. Green Peak Innovations plans on rolling out 30 retail locations in Michigan by the end of the year. The provisioning center’s high-end contemporary vibe raises the bar for other provisioning centers to follow.

Health Agency Gives Out Child-Proof Lockboxes for Cannabis

The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency recently launched its “Lock It Up” campaign and announced that it is offering free ammunition boxes that have been refashioned to safely store cannabis. The lockable boxes are 12 inches by 7 inches by 5 inches, and they are labeled with a green padlock design and a cannabis leaf. “We knew this was an important initiative in our communities with Branch, Hillsdale and St. Joseph community members, holding a total of 2,974 medical marijuana licenses. This does not take into account the number of people who use recreational marijuana, which could also be potentially accessible to kids and teens,” said Rebecca Burns from the Health Office. Little is known about the potential dangers cannabis may impose in the development of children’s brains, and health advocates believe that it’s better to be safe than sorry. The agency noted that edibles in particular are attractive to children, which could be a serious problem for parents.

Oregon

Oregon State University Unveils Global Hemp Innovation Center

The Global Hemp Innovation Center opened on June 13 at Oregon State University (OSU).  Before the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, OSU researchers were not able to legally study hemp—until now. “Our faculty are already recognized internationally as the go-to experts for hemp research,” Dean of College of Agricultural Sciences Alan Sams stated. “The launch of this center signifies our commitment to continue to build upon that established expertise and grow our impact across the state, the nation and globally.” Among the many hemp-related uses that will be explored, investigators will look at the vigor of hemp hearts as a source of protein and omega fatty acids, the benefits of hempcrete and the best cultivation practices. Both undergraduate and graduate OSU students will be conducting various hemp research projects at the center.

OLCC Dishes Out 12 Settlements for Various Violations

At least 12 license holders were put into check with various punishments after routine inspections by regulators. Members of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) issued 12 fines and/or license suspensions on June 20 due to compliance violations. “At its monthly meeting on June 20, 2019, the Commissioners of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission approved 12 marijuana violation stipulated settlement agreements and started the rulemaking process to include legislative statutory changes and rule changes to update marijuana program regulations,” the OLCC news release reads. Most settlements consisted of fines and short-term license suspensions, but a few licenses were revoked. The largest fine was for $8,745, and it was issued to West Coast Cannabis for four violations. Among the harshest punishments was a total surrender of the recreational retail cannabis licenses for Rose City Buds and Flowers as well as Columbia River Herbals of The Dalles.

San Diego

Canadian Cannabis Company Relocates to Carlsbad

Sunniva, a company based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, announced that it is relocating corporate functions to Carlsbad. In addition, the company announced it has appointed David Lyle, which became effective June 3, to serve as the chief financial officer for its operations based in Carlsbad. “This management change is consistent with our focused plans in California and we are confident that the leadership team we have assembled there will continue to deliver on our strategy,” Sunniva Chairman and CEO Anthony Holler stated in a press release. As part of his role, Lyle will help to ensure a smooth transition into the California cannabis market. Sunniva also is nearing completion of a 325,000-square-foot high technology greenhouse and an extraction facility that is currently operational. The company plans on selling its own premium products at its flagship dispensary, as well as other dispensaries throughout the state.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Offers Advice to Cultivators

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) posted friendly tips on July 18 for cannabis cultivators to do their part to protect wildlife. “We all have an obligation to be good stewards of the watershed,” said Sunshine Johnston, who owns Sunboldt Grown. “Farmers of all types can utilize the natural aspects of the surrounding ecosystem and let nature do the work for you. With this approach, native wildlife and plants can have a role on your farm while improving sustainability.” Some of the CDFW’s tips include providing bat and owl boxes to take advantage of natural insect and pest predators, utilizing companion planting, retaining natural vegetation for wildlife to eat and using better location selection practices. Inexperienced farmers usually forget to utilize natural predators instead of pesticides, and they often remove wild foliage, which forces wildlife to devour crops and creates unnecessary work.

Washington

Clark County Approves Cannabis Businesses in Unincorporated Areas

The Clark County Council voted 3-2 on July 2 to end its ban on cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas of the county. The ban has been in place since 2014. Title 40, Chapter 260, Section 115 of the Clark County Unified Development Code was amended to allow those types of businesses, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. Councilmembers addressed concerns from the community that allowing cannabis in the area could lead its residents down the slippery slope to addiction. “Not everybody in our community suffers from addiction and is susceptible to addiction, and different substances affect different people in different ways,” argued Councilmember Temple Lentz. Lentz added that the district she represents voted affirmatively on I-502, which is why she voted in favor of the amendment. There are currently three permits that have been issued for cannabis businesses in the area, but state-level licenses are currently on hold.

Washington Regulators Announce Traceability Workaround

After there was a software update for Washington’s traceability product Leaf Data Systems, problems and delays have cost licensees thousands of dollars, as manifests and business-to-business transfers weren’t working. The issues were supposed to be resolved on July 17, but the problems persisted. On July 18, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) issued a release announcing a temporary workaround after “ . . . work stoppage connected to lab results preventing manifests and transfers.” For the time being, the LCB asked companies to use a webform manifest to alleviate the slow progress. “All documentation to support your manifest and transfer must be maintained in your records,” the LCB reminded license holders in the release. Despite the new directions, some business operators in the state say that webform manifest does not solve the issue. A more permanent solution to the software issue is expected to be resolved soon.

National

Hawaii Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Cannabis

Hawaii Gov. David Ige vetoed two cannabis-related bills on July 9, but on the same day, he also approved House Bill 1383, which decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis. Those who are caught with three grams or less of cannabis will only receive a $130 fine, the equivalent of a driving ticket, instead of criminal charges, jail time and a hefty fine. “Beginning on January 11, 2020, this bill will make possession of three grams or less of marijuana punishable by a $130 fine. Under current law, possessing even a tiny amount of cannabis is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 and a possible life-altering criminal record,” said the Marijuana Policy Project. That makes Hawaii the 26th state to decriminalize cannabis, following a similar measure in North Dakota. The governor called the bill a “tough call” but eventually decided to let it go into effect.

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