News Nuggets – September 2018

Bay Area

Santa Clara County to Ban Cannabis Cultivation

On Aug. 14, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to draft a plan to permanently ban cultivation in unincorporated areas of the county. So far, the county leadership has responded to Proposition 64 with resistance towards cannabis businesses. Supervisors Ken Yeager and Dave Cortese cast their votes in favor of allowing cannabis cultivation. “It’s only going to get better by law enforcement,” Supervisor Cortese said, referring to a regulated market. “If we’re going to fund law enforcement, I think a good revenue source would be a commercial cannabis ordinance. Paw some of that money right back into [agricultural] preservation, paw some of that money right back into the enforcement activities to get rid of the criminals.” Cortese argued that the county is missing out on potentially millions in tax revenue by not allowing cannabis cultivation businesses.

Commission Votes to Protect Endangered Animal from Cannabis Operations

The California Fish and Game Commission voted on Aug. 23 to protect the endangered Humboldt marten under the California Endangered Species Act. Several factors threaten the mink-like animal, including the prevalence of cannabis cultivation operations in the area.  Experts estimate that less than 200 Humboldt martens survive in Del Norte, Humboldt and Siskiyou counties, and they once freely roamed Sonoma County. “Large?scale marijuana cultivation in remote forests throughout California has increased since the mid?1990s, coinciding with the passage of California laws legalizing certain uses of cannabis,” a commission memo read. “Cultivation can impact Humboldt martens through the clearing and fragmentation of forests and the application of pesticides, including highly toxic anticoagulant rodenticides.” Animal rights groups in Northern California are celebrating victory after hearing of the announcement. Humboldt martens were presumed extinct in 1996, but rebounded in the forests of Northern California.

Colorado

Traffic Fatalities Involving Cannabis-Impaired Drivers Decrease in Colorado

The number of fatal traffic accidents that involved drivers who were impaired by cannabis in Colorado fell by 33 percent last year, according to a new report published by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). In 2016, there were 52 fatal cannabis-involved accidents, while there were 35 related accidents last year. This drop in fatal accidents occurred despite the increase in the number of accidents that involved Colorado drivers with cannabis in their systems in 2017. The reason for this could be linked to the amount of time that cannabinoids can be detected in a driver’s system, even when they are no longer considered impaired. “The presence of a cannabinoid does not necessarily indicate recent use of marijuana or impairment,” the CDOT study read. Under Colorado law, a driver must have five nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol in a milliliter of blood in order for them to be declared too impaired to drive.

Industry Embraces Latest Pesticide Testing Requirements

Starting Aug. 1, all companies licensed to grow medical and recreational cannabis in Colorado are now subject to mandatory pesticide testing of their flower and trim, according to an industry-wide bulletin released by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. Licensees’ samples must comply with the updated testing requirements by providing enough product for three tests, as well as fees, which can range from $100-120 per sample. Each cannabis crop will be tested during every harvest. Many industry insiders feel that this is a small cost to ensure safety. “Clean medicine has always been the goal in this industry, and the more the government takes action the less people will be willing to cut corners,” said Shaun Vause, sales manager at Doctor’s Orders dispensary in Denver. “I feel this will ultimately lead to a better future where no one will worry about what can’t be seen with the naked eye.”

Los Angeles

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.

Michigan

Lawmakers Ask Governor to Extend License Deadline

Medical cannabis businesses in Michigan with temporary licenses have until Sept. 15 to obtain a state license, or they could be shut down. After the deadline, all medical cannabis, from seed-to-sale, must be handled by businesses with a new state license. At least 10 Michigan lawmakers have asked Gov. Rick Snyder to extend the deadline, because the Sept. 15 deadline would put many people out of business. “It is not acceptable to allow a bureaucratic delay to bankrupt law-abiding small businesses, to destroy jobs, and to deny epileptic children and disabled veterans access to the medicines they need,” several lawmakers wrote in a letter. The letter was signed by Sen. David Knezek, Rep. Jewell Jones, Rep. Frank Liberati, Rep. Robert Wittenberg, Rep. Patrick Green, Rep. Yousef Rabhi, Rep. Adam Zemke, Rep. Tom Cochran, Rep. David LaGrand and Rep. Martin Howrylak. Originally the deadline was set for June 15, but it was extended to Sept. 15.

Michigan Officials Approve Two Cannabis Testing Labs

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board approved licenses for two medical cannabis testing labs on Aug. 9. The two licenses were awarded to IRON Laboratories based in Walled Lake and Precision Safety Innovation Laboratories in Ann Arbor. “IRON Laboratories has made history again—officially receiving our Safety Compliance Facility licensure from the state of Michigan with a unanimous five panel yes vote from the board,” the company stated. In addition, six provisioning centers were also awarded licenses, with four located in Detroit and one processing facility in Chesaning. Up until now, without an approved testing lab, there was no legal way complete the supply chain. The latest move closes the loop for what will be Michigan’s new medical cannabis system. Businesses that haven’t secured a license by the Sept. 15 deadline could be shut down.

Oregon

Cannabis Producer Racketeering Case Dismissed 

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane dismissed racketeering charges on Aug. 17 against several Oregon residents. A group of plaintiffs accused their neighbors of growing cannabis near Lebanon in violation of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act. The act was originally designed for fighting organized crime. The group complained of a “persistent stench” that they found to be unsatisfactory. The group of defendants who were cleared include Mark Owenby, Michelle Page and several more of their family members. Judge McShane dismissed the charges “ . . . because those losses are derivative of their emotional distress and not a property interest recognized under Oregon law.” According to the defendants, the site hasn’t been operational since October 2017, but the plaintiffs claim otherwise. Unfortunately, the Oregon landowners will have another shot at refiling the case should they proceed.

OLCC Commission to Revoke Cannabis Wholesaler License

On Aug. 23, The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) rejected a settlement on a wholesaler, Wholesaler Black Market Distribution LLC, which is facing 10 OLCC violations, ultimately deciding that a suspension or fine would not suffice. “We want good compliant, law-abiding partners as OLCC marijuana licensees,” Paul Rosenbaum, Commission Chair of OLCC stated. “We know the cannabis industry is watching what we’re doing, and believe me, we’ve taken notice. We’re going to find a way to strengthen our action against rule breakers, using what we already have on the books, and if need be working with the legislature to tighten things up further.” Wholesaler Black Market Distribution LLC will lose its license. The commission hopes to send a message to other businesses about preventing cannabis from being diverted into the black market. Beginning on Aug. 24, the OLCC also reduced purchase limits from two ounces to one ounce to prevent illegal cannabis diversion.

San Diego

Encinitas Residents Will Vote on Cannabis in 2020

A local Encinitas bill, which aims to regulate cannabis sales and production, is delayed. The bill was entitled “An Ordinance of the City of Encinitas Authorizing Commercial Cannabis Activities Involving Retail Sales, Cultivation, Manufacturing, Cannabis Kitchens and Distribution, and Personal Use Cultivation, Subject To Certain Regulations and Restrictions.” The Encinitas City Council unanimously voted on Aug. 15 to put the bill before voters in 2020, instead of 2018. Due to missing the Aug. 10 deadline to submit measures for the ballot, the measure won’t be voted on during the midterm elections. Even though 65 percent of Encinitas residents voted in favor of Proposition 64, progress in the local community is slow. “We’re experiencing a change of culture. I don’t think it’s something we should force on one side or the other,” said Councilmember Tony Kranz, in support of the bill. Other cities in California have reportedly also delayed cannabis-related measures past Aug. 10 in order to prevent them from reaching the November ballot.

Study Indicates that Cannabinoids Remain in Breast Milk

According to a study published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics, cannabinoids remain in breast milk for up to six days after consuming cannabis. University of California, San Diego observed 50 women, and after 54 test samples were taken, and six days later, 63 percent of the women tested positive for cannabinoids. “Between 2014 and 2017, 50 breastfeeding women who reported marijuana use provided 54 breast milk samples to a research repository, Mommy’s Milk. Concentrations of ?-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (?9-THC), 11-hydroxy-?-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and cannabinol were measured by using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry electrospray ionization,” investigators wrote. The study’s findings led The American Academy of Pediatrics to issue a warning to mothers who consume cannabis. The findings contribute to the contentious ongoing debate of whether mothers’ cannabis consumption has an effect on breastfeeding babies.

Washington

Washington May Rewrite Packaging and Testing Rules

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) announced its intention to potentially revise rules regarding the packaging and testing of cannabis in Washington. Some of the topics that will be examined and potentially changed include lot and batch sizes, pesticide testing, heavy metal testing, THC serving limits and packaging requirements. The first step was writing an Issue Paper requesting approval from the LCB to file the first stage of rulemaking. The Issue Paper was published on Aug. 8 and laid the reasons for these changes. “These changes will seek to increase efficiencies in testing adult-use and compliant products, as well as increase the availability of compliant products or products of a similar nature and quality of testing,” the paper reads. The paper also explained that the LCB considered input from medical cannabis patients, as well as requests from the industry when creating these changes. These rules will be open for comment during this process.

Bellevue’s GRN Funds Provide Florida Cannabis Businesses with Banking

With cannabis becoming legal in states all over the country, but still prohibited at the federal level, one issue that is still plaguing cannabis business owners is banking. Luckily, in states like Washington, businesses have had time to assess these issues and come up with some solutions. One of these solutions is Bellevue-based GRN Funds. The company provides audits, valuations, license acquisition and raises capital for cannabis businesses in the U.S. Recently, GRN Funds announced that it will be assisting cannabis-related businesses in Florida with some of their financial needs. “We look forward to serving Florida’s cannabis banking needs. We plan on rolling out Florida banking services this month, and we are excited about the opportunity,” GRN Funds CEO Justin Costello told CULTURE in late August. It’s no mystery why GRN Funds is branching out into Florida’s medicinal cannabis market. BDS Analytics Arcview Market Research predicts a rise to $456 million in cannabis sales in Florida in 2018.

National

Northern Mariana Islands House and Senate Vote to Legalize Cannabis

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory located near the Philippines, may soon legalize cannabis. On Aug. 8, the territory’s House of Representatives voted 18-1 in approval of a bill that would legalize cannabis for adults ages 21 and older. “Therefore, the Legislature finds that it is in our best interest to move marijuana into a regulated and controlled market for responsible adult personal use,” the House of Representatives stated. The Senate approved the bill on Aug. 30, with two abstentions. Now, the revised version to the governor for approval. Should the bill pass, the Northern Mariana Islands will go straight from having no acceptable use of cannabis to recreational cannabis without first legalizing medical cannabis.

 

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