News Nuggets November 2016

governor-brown-signs-cottage-cannabis-farmers-billBay Area

Governor Brown Signs Cottage Cannabis Farmers Bill

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will create a new license type for medical cannabis cultivators. The Cottage Cannabis Farmers Bill, also known as AB-2516, will outline technical requirements for cannabis growers who operate farms that are 2,500 square feet or less for outdoor cultivation of 500 square feet or less for indoor cultivation on one premise. The bill was backed by Assemblymember Jim Wood, who shared his satisfaction of the Governor’s approval in a press release. “We are so proud to have fought for this legislation and thankful to Governor Brown for his signature,” he said. The new law will help ensure that small medical cannabis growers on the North Coast can comply with regulations as the local industry moves forward, giving accountability and predictability to all parties. “It’s just not fair to require the small farmers to adhere to the same standards as larger operations,” he went on. “Now the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) will be required to develop regulations for 2018 that address the unique characteristics of small farm practices.”

Cannabis Land Use Ordinance in Discussion for Sonoma County

An ordinance that outlines cannabis land use in Sonoma County is causing worry for county residents who grow cannabis for a living. County officials held a meeting in early October called the Cannabis Community Meeting in Santa Rosa. The meeting was held to discuss the proposed land use ordinance, which outlines cannabis cultivation zones and how large cannabis grows could be at each zone. While most of the county’s 24 land-use zones still permit the cultivation of up to six plants for personal use, two rural residential zones are only allowed to grow 25 plants for commercial use. In these zones, cultivators will only be permitted the “cottage” permit, which states that outdoor grows must take place on a minimum of two acres and indoor grows are permitted a maximum of 500 square feet. Cory Bohn has been a cannabis farmer for 15 years, and he shared his fears that these new land use laws would hurt his source of income. “Prohibition’s over but there’s still a lot of rules,” Bohn said in the meeting. “I want to be compliant but I have a family of five to support.” If the supervisors move to adopt the ordinance, it will be done so on December 13.


Kansas Attorney General Complains About Colorado Cannabis

Even though more states are continuing to legalize and Colorado has many safeguards in place to keep cannabis contained, Kansas is still complaining that the plant is coming across state borders. Attorney General Derek Schmidt claims that cannabis is still all over his state, and that issues with cannabis and levels of potency are on the rise. However, those in the industry think he is blowing things out of proportion. “The truth is marijuana exists in our society with or without legalization,” stated Jordan Person, Executive Director of Denver NORML. “By passing regulations in every state we reduce the possible diversion of unregulated products state to state.” Colorado will continue to perfect its process of regulating cannabis and trying to keep it within state lines, but there is little else it can do to prevent cannabis exiting the state. Not to mention that Colorado’s regulatory framework was approved by voters, and a complaint from the Kansas State Attorney General will do little to change the people’s voice.

Denver’s Auditor Wants More Cannabis Tax Transparency

The auditor for the city of Denver, Timothy O’Brien, claims that the Office of Marijuana Policy needs to be more transparent about how they spend their tax dollars. While he states that it is hard to deny that the money being generated from legal cannabis is a good thing, he claims that the cannabis industry could help its image by sharing exactly how every dollar is spent.

However, one of the issues with providing transparency is that the industry still struggles for bank access, making accurate accounting difficult. “In a cash industry that handles millions of dollars, I believe it is wrong to place the blame on the businesses,” explained Ann Toney, a cannabis legal consultant. “If these businesses had access to banks, they could present much more organized records.” As the industry makes strides and finds its footing, it is inevitable that more transparent reporting will follow once cannabis business owners are granted access to resources.

bellflower-passes-cannabis-ordinance-in-anticipation-of-prop-64Los Angeles

Signatures Are Approved For New Ordinance to Bring L.A. Cannabis Laws Up to Date

The United Cannabis Business Alliance (UCBA) and Citizens’ Coalition to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods gathered over 104,000 signatures from registered voters in support of getting the “Los Angeles Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act” on the ballot. The City Clerk validated the signatures in October, and now the ordinance will be on the March 2017 city ballot. The president of the UCBA, Jerred Kiloh, shared more insight into how the ordinance could benefit Los Angeles. “For so long, the city, its residents and the industry were living with unclear rules, no permitting system and ad hoc enforcement,” Kiloh said. “The ballot measure creates a framework for the city to regulate the cannabis industry. Our measure is inclusive, fair and will bring relief to neighborhoods that are oversaturated by illegal operators.” If passed, the ordinance will bring Los Angeles up to date with California’s latest cannabis laws.

Bellflower Passes Cannabis Ordinance in Anticipation of Prop. 64

If California’s Proposition 64 to legalize adult use of cannabis passes, then the city of Bellflower is prepared. Bellflower’s City Council voted 3-2 on October 10 to approve an ordinance that would regulate recreational cannabis in the city. The staff report from the city council meeting shared the council’s intentions behind passing the ordinance. “The City Council wishes to authorize limited cultivation, manufacture, dispensing, and delivery of marijuana and marijuana products in the city, subject to reasonable controls and regulations that will ensure marijuana-related activities do not pose a threat to the public health, safety or welfare, or pose a nuisance to the properties or persons.” The ordinance’s language aims to regulate cannabis and raise taxes for the city, which could generate up to $3.4 million annually. If voters do not pass Prop. 64 on November 8, then this new ordinance will be voided.


Cannabis is Decriminalized in East Lansing for Adults Ages 21 and Over

Adults ages 21 and over are now able to consume and possess cannabis on private property, thanks to a vote carried out by the city council in October. The ordinance passed with a 4-1 vote, and it amended its original ordinance. The ordinance originally permitted possession and consumption of cannabis by verified medical cannabis patients, and the text they added to decriminalize cannabis was, “. . . or is over the age of 21 and in possession of, using or transferring less than one (1) ounce of marijuana on private property; or is over the age of 21 and transporting less than one (1) ounce of marijuana.” The change also makes cannabis possession or consumption for people under 21 a civil infraction. This would lead to a maximum fine of $25 and required attendance of a substance abuse treatment or up to 45 days of community service. East Lansing is following in the footsteps of Lansing and Grand Rapids, both of which have already decriminalized cannabis consumption and possession.

Petition Drive Aims to Get Cannabis Legalization on 2018 Ballot

MILegalize announced its plan to get recreational cannabis legislation on the 2018 ballot. After turning in 354,000 signatures to qualify their initiative for the November 2016 ballot, the state determined the initiative did not gather enough qualified signatures to qualify. This setback is not going to stop the group from pushing forward for a win in 2018 though. A press release by the group shared that although they expect to find resolution from the court system, the group is going to continue pushing forward for the future in case that doesn’t happen. “We will continue to fight for the people of Michigan and are committed to ensuring the voters are finally heard,” said MI Legalize Board Member Debra Young, “We won’t quit until every adult has the legal right to freely use cannabis for medicine or personal reasons without harassment and fear of arrest.”


Oregon Court Rules Against Unlawful Package Seizure by Police

Back in 2012, an Oregon man named Max Barnthouse had Portland police officers show up as his door holding a package addressed to him. They had reportedly found the package as suspicious, had it examined by a drug sniffing dog, and went to Barnthouse’s home to inspect the contents of the package and to also search his residence. Barnthouse agreed to allow the officers to conduct their search, where they turned up cash and cannabis. The legal team who represented Barnthouse in this case claimed that this type of conduct by the police was considered to be unlawful search and seizure. According to a release by the Oregon Supreme Court, Barnthouse’s attorneys were correct. “ . . . the Court held, the police officers’ seizure of the package violated Article I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, and the trial court correctly suppressed the evidence discovered as a result of that seizure.” While the police confirmed that pulling packages that looked suspicious used to be a typical practice, they will be prohibited from doing so going forward.

Oregon Bans Cannabis Names Like “Girl Scout Cookies”

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) announced on October 1 that cannabis products are not allowed to use names that are connected to products marketed by or to children. This means that common strain names like Girl Scout Cookies, Candy Land, Skywalker, Jedi Kush, among many others, will be banned. This comes as a shock to many in the cannabis community, because strain names have been a part of the industry’s culture. However, the intentions behind the OLCC are valid, as they were created to protect children. A press release by the OLCC stated, “We owe it to the industry and all Oregonians to make sure the integrity and safeguards of this system are intact and to keep faith with the will of the voters when they approved Measure 91. We are working hard to balance market needs with public health and safety to provide a reasonable transition for this industry to move into compliance.”


Cannabis Possession Penalties Are Lowered in Memphis, Tennessee

The city council of Memphis, Tennessee has moved to lower penalties on cannabis possession. The ordinance allows Memphis Police Department the ability to charge someone who was under the possession of cannabis a lesser charge than what is outlined by the state of Tennessee. Currently in the state, a person who is possessing half an ounce or less of cannabis can face a misdemeanor charge, up to a year of incarceration, plus a maximum fine of $2,500. Memphis’ new law allows an officer to instead charge the accused with a $50 ticket from the city. In the ordinance’s text, the council outlined the reasoning for this change. “Whereas, the City Council does not support or encourage the use of marijuana or any other controlled substance but finds that, when an individual’s only offense is possession or casual exchange of marijuana for personal use, criminal penalties imposed by state law and resulting criminal records for such as offense are disproportionate to the severity of the offense . . .” As the second city in the state to adopt much lesser punishment, it will be interesting to see if this will continue to happen throughout other local governments in the state.


Cannabis Extract is Recognized as Medicine by UK

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of the United Kingdom made a decision to recognize cannabis oil that is high in CBD to be medicinal. A letter sent by the MHRA shared its decision with producers and distributors of CBD products. “The MHRA has now completed its review and has considered all information available to it relating to cannabidiol (CBD oil) and having taken into account all the scientific advice and evidence, it has come to an opinion that products containing cannabidiol will satisfy the second limb of the definition of a ‘medicinal product’ . . .” This decision was reached after the proof that CBD oil is able to aid in physiological functions through its ability to affect a immunological, metabolic or pharmacological action. The next step is for the government to make sure the CBD products are regulated accordingly to protect public health.

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