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News Nuggets – January 2019




Bay Area

City of Alameda Allows Dispensary Next Door to Martial Arts Studio

Alameda city officials removed a barrier to allow a dispensary to open next door to International Chi Institute, a martial arts studio, with students who are mostly under the age of 18. Fifty-three parents of the children who practice martial arts at the studio signed a petition to block the dispensary from opening. But despite their pleas, on Nov. 27, 2018, the Alameda City Council voted to eliminate all youth recreational and cultural establishments from the city’s definition of “youth center,” in order to allow storefront cannabis businesses to open nearby. “This report recommends an additional amendment to the city’s cannabis regulatory ordinance, modifying the definition of ‘Youth Centers,’ a sensitive use specified in the ordinance, to exclude certain uses, including martial arts/combat sports, cultural or similar education, and physical fitness activities, and to make other revisions to the scope of the definition,” a city council executive summary reads.

Martinez City Council Adds Greenhouses to Home Cultivation Rules

On Dec. 5, 2018, the Martinez City Council considered revisions to Ordinance 1411, a 2017 home cultivation ordinance, but the city council sent it back to city staff because it was too restrictive, even with the new revisions. The council asked the staff to modify the law to allow residents to grow cannabis in their backyard using greenhouses. “Based on direction from the Council,” the staff report reads, “staff is proposing a permanent personal cultivation ordinance. The purpose of the new ordinance would be to impose regulatory restrictions on the personal cultivation of cannabis pursuant to state law.” State law allows residents of any city to grow up to six cannabis plants in the privacy of their own home, and cities can only do so much to limit home cultivation. The city’s Planning Commission approved of the ordinance, but asked to require an outdoor accessory structure (greenhouse) to raise the plants and secure a foundation.


Marijuana Enforcement Division Announces Definition of Kief

Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) has issued a statement that defines “kief” in order to clear up any confusion regarding what the product is. According to the MED’s official statement, the definition of kief is, “the resinous crystal-like trichomes that are found on [medical or retail cannabis flower] and that are accumulated, resulting in a higher concentration of cannabinoid.” It’s naturally-occurring and is a light green and yellow, crystalline powder-like substance. The statement was issued in response to a request from Kady Cravens, compliance consultant at ACT Cannabis Compliance, who asked, “How is kief defined? Is it defined as raw [cannabis] plant material or is it defined as infused concentrate product being that it goes through processing to separate the kief from the whole plant?” The MED upholds a responsibility to continuously define, explain and create rules for cannabis situations that may be unclear. In addition to the new definition, the MED is requiring all kief to be tested for potency, effective Jan. 1.

Medical Cannabis Researchers Receives $2.7 Million From State

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) granted $2.7 million in funding for two therapeutic cannabis research studies. Both research studies were awarded the funding after scientific review of the applications was submitted for the grants. “Colorado Cannabis Research Consortium (C2RC): Research Program for the Management of Chronic Spine Pain and Reduction of Prescription Opioid Use” and “A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Efficacy and Safety Study of Cannabidiol (CBD) for the Treatment of Irritability in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” will both be conducted at The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. One study will look at cannabis as an alternative to opioids for chronic spine pain and the other will explore how CBD affects children on the autism spectrum as far as safety and effectiveness go. The statement issued by the CDPHE reads, “Both research studies are random controlled trials, the type of research considered to be the ‘gold standard’ in the scientific community.”

Los Angeles

Cannabis Business Organization Demands Crackdown of Illegal Dispensaries

In a letter dated Nov. 1, 2018, the United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA) asked City Attorney Mike Feuer to stop allowing illegal dispensaries to flourish, while law abiding dispensaries struggle to compete. “The UCBA is looking for answers and actions from City Attorney Feuer to ensure safety for workers and residents across the city and to protect the city’s much needed revenue,” UCBA Executive Director Ruben Honig said in a press release. “We are greatly concerned that illegal cannabis dispensaries continue to operate and proliferate in Los Angeles and urge him to crack down on rampant illegal cannabis operations.” The UCBA represents licensed medical cannabis dispensaries that are located in Los Angeles. Law enforcement occasionally cracks down on illegal dispensaries throughout the city, but hundreds more unlicensed dispensaries remain. In September 2018, the City Attorney’s office announced that 500 people working at 105 unlicensed dispensaries were charged.

Phase 2 Processing Eligibility Inspections Begin

The Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation issued a bulletin on Dec. 7, 2018, informing businesses that Phase 2 Priority Processing eligibility inspections have begun. In order to be eligible for Phase 2 Priority Processing, applicants must pass two inspections. “One is a DCR inspection to confirm that the applicant’s business premises is built out to substantially match its business premises diagram (i.e., the location and layout of entry points, interior doorways, rooms and walkways match the diagram) and that the business premises is sufficiently secured,” the bulletin reads. “The other is a Los Angeles Fire Department Cannabis Unit inspection to confirm that the applicant’s business premises and operations comply with the Los Angeles Fire Code.” The bulletin also included a Phase 2 Eligibility Inspection Checklist, which is a shortened and incomplete version of the tasks businesses can do to prepare accordingly and improve their chances of being eligible.


Grand Rapids Adopts Final Medical Cannabis Rules

On Dec. 4, the Grand Rapids City Commission approved amendments to Chapter 61 of Title V of its city code, establishing finalized regulations for medical cannabis growers, processors, provisioning centers and other businesses. The changes were made according to recommendations from  the city’s planning commission one month earlier. “The Planning Commission recommended approval of potential amendments to the Ordinance on November 8, 2018,” the city agenda reads. “The City Commission approved a first reading of these amendments on December 4, 2018. The vote for adoption by the City Commission will take place on December 18, 2018.” Officials approved land-use for medical cannabis businesses at 41 sites in industrial zones. Businesses must observe 1,000-foot buffers around schools, churches and playgrounds. The amendments also contain requirements for Safety Compliance Facilities and Secure Transporters. According to the city’s website, there are currently no businesses in the city that have received state licenses.

Holland Bans Recreational Cannabis Facilities

The Holland City Council unanimously voted on Dec. 5 to ban recreational cannabis businesses, just one day before protections on recreational cannabis took effect in Michigan, even though the businesses won’t be open anywhere in the state for at least one year. Holland Treasurer Vince Bush presented the first reading of the ban at a Board of Trustees meeting the next day. “Mr. Bush introduced and the Board held a first reading of an ordinance to prohibit recreational marijuana establishments and marijuana sale and consumption in public places,” the city’s agenda reads. The council also voted to add a new section to city code, adopting an emergency ordinance that includes revised punishments for cannabis-related offenses, violations, fees and penalties. The revisions reduce the penalty for possession of cannabis from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. Last November, city residents were split on the issue of recreational cannabis, with 49 percent voting in favor of Proposition 1 and 51 percent voting against it.


Report Indicates Oregon Needs Only One Regulatory Agency

According to draft regulations released by the Oregon Cannabis Commission, the state’s cannabis industry would be better regulated by one agency instead of three separate agencies. Currently, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Oregon Liquor and Control Commission and Department of Agriculture all compete to oversee cannabis operations. The draft report was first published by the Statesman Journal using a public records request on Nov. 19, 2018. Many analysts agreed with the report. “As it stands, marijuana is regulated by three agencies—the OHA, Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Oregon Department of Agriculture—whose powers and responsibilities extend far beyond pot into public health, alcohol and crop services. Having pot oversight under one roof makes more sense,” said Beau Whitney of New Frontier Data. The three agencies often overlap in their authority to oversee cannabis business activity, which may not make for the most efficient operations.

Compliance Sting Operation Yields Positive Results

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) issued a press release on Nov. 19, 2018, indicating that a recent undercover sting operation called “Operation Good Harvest” demonstrated that most dispensaries in the state are in compliance. Out of 354 inspections, 259 business licensees, or 73 percent, passed inspections. Alternatively, 95 licensees were found to have discrepancies, and 41 of those licensees have problems that may be serious enough to lead to the cancellation of their licenses. “The results of Operation Good Harvest are promising, but just as when we started minor decoy activity focusing on licensed retailers, producer licensees not in compliance need to improve to stay licensed and operational,” said OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks. Salem businesses performed the best with 83 percent in compliance with the OLCC. Portland area businesses did so-so with 68 percent in compliance. Eugene businesses struggled the most with a somewhat disappointing 44 percent compliance rate.

San Diego

Imperial Beach Sets Application Fee Deposit For Recreational Cannabis Dispensaries

On Dec. 5, 2018, the Imperial Beach City Council unanimously approved a recreational cannabis dispensary application fee deposit during its “public hearing to consider approval of Resolution No. 2018-7994 setting the regulatory safety permit cannabis outlet application processing fees pursuant to Imperial Beach Municipal Code Chapter 4.60,” according to the meeting agenda. The required deposit is set to the amount of $10,000. Applicants will be required to pay the city the total cost for processing permit applications. The city will begin accepting applications for a regulatory safety permit from Jan. 29 through May 4. Imperial Beach City Council will also determine the regulatory fees before any recreational cannabis dispensary can open. Applicants must also have a location that is at least 900 feet away from parks, schools and daycare centers. They will also need to prove that they have a thorough and approved security plan, $300,000 in liquid assets and at least one manager who has firsthand legal cannabis industry experience.

Solana Beach City Council Approves Cannabis Ballot Initiative

The Solana Beach City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 28, 2018 to send Ordinance 494 to the 2020 ballot, when residents will vote on allowing cannabis retailers, cultivation operations and delivery businesses. In addition, businesses would be able to operate as both an adult-use and medical dispensary. “Based on the validation of the petition format and content along with the signature verification, the City Clerk certified the petition as sufficient to qualify as an initiative petition for the ballot,” a Nov. 28 staff report reads. The signatures were collected by Joshua Clark and the Alliance For Safe Access. Signature gatherers collected 1,057, when only 860 signatures are needed to be approved. Previous attempts to allow medical cannabis businesses in the city, such as Proposition W in 2012, failed. But after the implementation of Proposition 64 across California, it would appear the bill stands a chance in 2020.


Richland Considers Lifting Cannabis Ban

Richland is one of the latest Washington towns to rethink its cannabis ban and take advantage of the “Green Rush.” The city’s current ban doesn’t allow cannabis to be sold, produced or processed in city limits. Richland Communications and Marketing Manager Hollie Logan provided CULTURE with a history of the situation up until now. “In 2014, the City of Richland, Washington passed an ordinance that prohibits marijuana-related land uses,” Logan explained. “On Nov. 7, 2018, a group of individuals under the name Legalize Richland submitted a petition containing signatures of Richland voters, supporting the sale of cannabis within city limits. On Nov. 21, 2018, the City Attorney confirmed the petition did not meet the requirements of state law to proceed for Richland City Council or registered voter consideration.” That’s not the end of the line for lifting the cannabis ban, however. At a Richland City Council meeting in early December, councilmembers agreed to place the topic on a future city council workshop agenda for continued discussion.

Social Media Platform Targets Prominent Washington Cannabis Influencer

While many cannabis influencers rely on the social media platforms to share photos of products, technically, promoting cannabis is banned on many platforms. Who gets banned and what type of content that gets them banned is seemingly random. One local influencer who recently had her account with 196,000 followers banned is Seattle’s Bess Byers, aka @imcannabess. Her Instagram profile was deactivated for the seventh time in November 2018. Prominent Los Angeles, California-based influencer Trippy.Treez, who had over 150,000 followers, had her account deactivated recently as well. “These tech companies think that they’ve got a monopoly on the playing field. But something better is going to come along,” Byers told CULTURE. “People don’t trust these companies for a reason. The more that I deal with this, the more that I think something has to come along that’s better. Something that encompasses everybody.” Until something better does come along, the cannabis industry will have to figure out ways to deal with the crushing deactivations.


World Health Organization Postpones Cannabis Rescheduling Recommendations

The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) delayed the release of recommendations on rescheduling cannabis on Dec. 7, 2018. The recommendations were expected to be unveiled on the same day at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs 61st reconvened session in Vienna, Austria. While recommendations on other substances like Tramadal were addressed, a WHO representative said the organization needs more time to evaluate how to proceed with cannabis, leaving cannabis advocates around the world shocked. “When the time came to release the findings on cannabis to the packed audience, all were stunned to watch, in person, the spokesperson for WHO announce that the outcome on cannabis was kept confidential, but did not announce any date for the release,” said a press statement from FAAAT think & do tank, an international drug policy advocacy group. While no new date has been provided yet, member states of WHO are expected to vote on rescheduling cannabis in March 2019.