California’s Permanent Cannabis Rules Released
On July 13, three state agencies, the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Public Health, Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch and Department of Food and Agriculture, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing released proposed permanent rules on cannabis businesses under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. The rules will eventually govern how cannabis is regulated in California. “The emergency rulemaking process provided an opportunity to evaluate how the rules were working for businesses throughout the supply chain,” Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief Lori Ajax said in a statement. “The regulations we now propose include changes that make it easier for businesses to operate and strengthen public health and safety policies.” Officials also reminded cannabis business owners that no additional temporary licenses will be available after Dec. 31, and no additional 90-day extensions will be granted after Jan. 1, 2019.
Antioch Approves Retail Cannabis Stores
Antioch City Council voted 3-2 in favor of Ordinance No. 2143-C-S on June 26 to allow for two retail cannabis storefront locations, as well as manufacturing and testing facilities. It modifies zones in Antioch’s zoning map, allowing cannabis businesses in industrial areas of town. A 600-foot buffer applies around schools, parks and homes. “Thanks to medical marijuana I’m not getting hooked on it,” Antioch resident Burt Weinstein said at the meeting, referring to how cannabis helps his arthritis and now he doesn’t need opioids. Mayor Sean Wright and Councilmember Lori Ogorchock opposed the bill. Councilmember Tony Tiscareno, however noted that the majority of Antioch voters approved Prop. 64 back in 2016. Critics of the ordinance cited figures that indicate a rise in criminal activity in other areas that allow cannabis business such as San Francisco. The ordinance took effect on July 26.
Retail Sales of Cannabis to Begin in Longmont
On July 2, the Longmont Marijuana Authority announced the names of four businesses whose applications were approved to operate cannabis dispensaries in the city of Longmont. On Oct. 10, 2017, the Longmont City Council ruled to approve retail cannabis sales. Interested business owners submitted their applications by Nov. 29 and the Longmont City Council made a decision on March 29, 2018 of Public Health and Environment and resulted in a lengthy, but reliable process. “Although the licensing process set up by the city was time-consuming and challenging, in the end it produced four highly qualified businesses,” said Rigo Leal, public information officer for the city of Longmont. “It was a worthwhile process from the city’s perspective, and from the applicant’s perspective too. They all agreed that the high standards demanded by the city were well worth the effort. That bodes well for the future of these businesses in Longmont.” The Green Solution, Medicine Man, Terrapin Care Station and Yuma Way were given 60 days to accept or deny their approvals.
State Welcomes New Director of Marijuana Coordination
Gov. John Hickenlooper announced on July 5 that Dominique Mendiola is the new Director of Marijuana Coordination. Mendiola has replaced Mark Bolton. Mendiola has vast experience in cannabis regulation and policy, serving as the Deputy Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division since 2014. Gov. Hickenlooper welcomed Mendiola to the team in a press release. “We are excited to welcome Dominque to the team. I look forward to her guidance as new issues emerge that require our attention,” Gov. Hickenlooper stated. Mendiola is clear in her priorities, which she graciously shared with CULTURE. One of her goals is to ensure Colorado maintains the most effective approach to cannabis regulation. “With Colorado being the first in the nation to regulate adult-use marijuana, coordination is key to ensuring we maintain an effective approach to regulation. In this role, there’s opportunity to enhance and expand on our national and international coordination,” she said. “Working closely with other states and countries allows us to identify best practices (e.g. packaging, labeling, and testing), learn from the experience of others, and proactively get ahead of issues others may be facing.” Mendiola also plans to continue strengthening the legal cannabis market in order to continue the displacement of the black market.
Chalice California Sues Bureau of Cannabis Control
Filed on June 19, the Chalice California is suing Chief Lori Ajax and the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), who they say unlawfully denied a permit for a three-day festival originally scheduled for July 13-15 in Victorville. “We must take a stand that cannabis culture and business brings value to cities,” Chalice California’s complaint read. “We are a huge stimulus in the economy. We bring over [$30] million to the areas [that] we throw events [in]. As a culture we should not grace anti-cannabis areas with the positive impact that our events bring. We have a history of creating and maintaining a safe atmosphere and we will continue to provide this culture with a safe place to be who you are without fear of arrest or discrimination for being a cannabis consumer.” Chalice California claims that the BCC could have granted them a permit even though Victorville officials voted on July 3 to deny the event a local permit, because the fairgrounds are under sovereign rights regardless of what the city of Victorville decided.
New Qualifying Conditions Added to Michigan’s Medical Cannabis Program
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Shelly Edgerton gave final approval on July 9 to the following 11 new qualifying conditions for access to medical cannabis: Arthritis, autism, chronic pain, colitis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, tourette syndrome and ulcerative colitis. “With the changes in state law to include marihuana-infused products, and the advancement of marihuana research, and upon the recommendation of the panel members, I’ve added these eleven conditions to the approved list,” Edgerton said. “I’d like to thank the members of the review panel for their hard work in discussing these petitions and making their recommendations.” The approval follows a recommendation from Medical Marihuana Review Panel members. Edgerton did deny several other conditions, however, including anxiety, panic attacks, diabetes and schizophrenia. The 11 new qualifying conditions became effective immediately.
LARA Offers 30-Day Grace Period to Comply with Statewide Monitoring
Businesses will have 30 days, beginning on the date they receive their first state operating license, to comply with Michigan’s statewide cannabis monitoring system. Emergency Rule 20 was issued by The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on July 17. After 30 days, any product that isn’t entered into the monitoring system under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act will be banned from sale. “Emergency Rule 20 allows for a transition period of 30 calendar days during which marihuana product can be entered into the statewide monitoring system to ensure statewide tracking,” the announcement states. “These 30 days begin on the day a state operating license is issued to a licensee for the first time (the only exception is for additional licenses issued to the same license holder for a stacked license after a first license has already been issued).” Michigan medical cannabis is tracked each step of the way, from seed-to-sale.
Oregon Health Authority Admits Flaws in Medical Cannabis Program
Due to rising complaints, Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen ordered the internal review of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). On July 12, the health authority released the internal review indicating that there are major problems in the current system. According to the report, there were over 20,000 medical cannabis cultivation sites, but only 58 inspections were completed in 2017. Other problems were also noted. “Potentially erroneous reporting coupled with low reporting compliance makes it difficult to accurately track how much product is in the medical system,” the report read. “This limits OMMP’s ability to successfully identify and address potential diversion.” The report also mentioned the problems undermine OMMP’s ability to calculate how much cannabis is in the medical system and limits OMMP’s capability to address various issues. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel commended Allen for launching the investigation.
Klamath Falls Recreational Cannabis Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot
Klamath Falls could soon regulate recreational cannabis, after securing enough votes to qualify a ballot measure that, if passed, would remove the city’s current ban on recreational cannabis. The “Klamath Strong” campaign was able to gather 1,864 signatures to approve Initiative Petition 2018-1-24-NB. The group was required to gather at least 1,784 valid signatures before July 16. “Vote YES in November to allow recreational cannabis businesses in the city of Klamath Falls,” Klamath Strong states on its website. “Overturning the ban, and welcoming [the] new industry, creates jobs, and generates funds for our schools, law enforcement, and drug and alcohol treatment programs. Continuing the current ban prevents the important tracking, testing, taxing and regulating of the recreational marijuana in our city.” This gives city voters the opportunity to overturn the current ban in place, potentially creating jobs and tax revenue for the area.
Chula Vista Residents to Vote on Cannabis Tax
On Tuesday, July 24, the Chula Vista City Council voted 4-1 in favor of placing a cannabis tax measure on the November ballot. Resolution No. 2018-128 was amended, calling for a special election on Nov. 6. If passed, cultivation companies will be charged a $5-25 per square foot of space, and all other businesses will be taxed at five to 15 percent. “It’s really important for the city of Chula Vista to control our own destiny,” Mayor Mary Casillas-Salas said at the meeting. “We were facing an initiative that was supported by outside forces that would have put something on the ballot that would have most likely passed . . . We’d have the problems of the dispensaries without the revenues coming in to balance out the problems that come with that.” The tax measure is a general tax, which requires a simple majority of support in order to be passed.
Symbolic Hemp House Being Built in Bellingham
A three-story house is being built using hemp products in Bellingham. The house, called the Highland Hemp House, will function as a home and demonstrate that hemp construction works well, in addition to being sustainable and environmentally-friendly. Pam Bosch, former educator and current hemp activist, is the owner. “I’m building the Highland Hemp House to demonstrate that using hemp and lime for a wall system is the best and ‘greenest’ way to build,” Bosch explained to CULTURE. “Using agricultural waste and lime (that takes 80 percent less energy than cement to process) this method of building revives pre-modern building conventions to help heal postmodern climate conditions. By inviting people to visit, field study, document and share the experience, I hope to initiate change.” The Highland Hemp House has earned praise from many locals, including Bellingham City Council president and Washington State Senate candidate, Pinky Vargas. “Bravo to the Highland Hemp House! Hemp’s strength and versatility is an opportunity to bring more sustainable elements into our home building. It’s also great for our soil, easy to grow and is a great crop for farmers,” Vargas told CULTURE.
Treasurer Duane Davidson Calls for Cannabis Banking Solution
On June 7, The STATES Act (S.3032 and H.R.6043) was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The act would allow state cannabis laws to take precedence over federal restrictions. If passed, that would mean cannabis businesses in Washington State would have access to regular banking. The act has some surprising allies, including Washington Treasurer Duane Davidson, who encouraged Washington State’s congressional delegation to support the bill. “Personally I voted against the initiative that allowed legal recreational marijuana in Washington—but we live in a democracy and Washington’s voters solidly backed legalization. We need public policy that can deal with this reality,” Davidson explained. “This is really a safety issue. A drop in all-cash transactions will greatly increase safety for all those involved in the legal cannabis industry. It will also make tax fraud less likely and tax collection and compliance easier.” Currently, cannabis businesses in Washington rely on a small number of credit unions to bank with them, which they do based on their own discretion.
New Jersey Doubles Number of Dispensaries
According to a July 16 announcement, officials from the New Jersey Department of Health will begin accepting applications for six more dispensaries. The state has recently dealt with cannabis shortages due to the cap on businesses. “We look forward to the opening of six new dispensaries so we can ensure that all qualifying patients who want access to medicinal marijuana can have it,” Gov. Phil Murphy stated. “Due to the steps that Commissioner Elnahal and I have taken since January, we have seen the addition of 10,000 new patients. Accordingly, we have to expand the number of businesses who are growing product and serving patients.” It’s the first step towards addressing the shortage problems seen in New Jersey. No provisions for equity applicants will be added, however. Winning business applications are scheduled to be announced on Nov. 1.