News Nuggets – January 2018

Bay Area

El Cerrito Sets Ground Rules for Recreational Cannabis

On Nov. 21, 2017,the El Cerrito City Council voted 4-1 to “approve an ordinance repealing and replacing Chapter 6.80 of the El Cerrito Municipal Code which would allow dispensaries in El Cerrito,” according to the meeting’s agenda. The draft ordinance would allow up to two dispensaries, pending the ownership of an Operating Permit. Each applicant must undergo a background check and provide a business and security plan. Dispensaries will only be allowed on a single street, San Pablo Avenue. A 600-foot buffer around parks and schools and a 1,000-foot buffer around other cannabis businesses will apply. “One of the primary principles which guided the creation of the draft ordinance was initial caution due to the unknown nature of recreational cannabis commerce,” the city’s analysis reads. The citizens of El Cerrito supported Proposition 64 at 70 percent, indicating approval for local dispensaries. The ordinance still must pass a second reading, and once passed, it could take effect within 30 days.


San Leandro Approves First Cannabis Manufacturing Facility

The San Leandro Board of Zoning Adjustments voted 4-0 on Dec. 7, 2017, to approve plans for the Florida-based Dispersa Labs to build a 7,745-square-foot manufacturing facility. “We’re a startup and very excited about the opportunity to go in [to that area],” said David Cookson, co-founder of Dispersa Labs. “We’re making a very technical product—it’s a very low impact use—and we think it’s an opportunity for us and the city of San Leandro to explore cannabis in the best possible way and advance the trade.” The San Leandro City Council approved a pilot program last July that allows for up to five cannabis manufacturers. Dispersa Labs is the only business to apply to manufacture cannabis products, as of mid-December. Dispersa Labs’ flagship product is a dry cannabis powder inhaler.


Local Credit Union Fights for Cannabis Banking

The Fourth Corner Credit Union has been trying for some time to open for business to provide the cannabis industry with a place to conduct banking. However, every time the credit unions tries to open, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City takes it to court. This time, the credit union revised its strategy, stating that it will start by working only with cannabis advocacy groups, rather than striving to work with businesses that touch the plant. “The industry needs specialized banking because the unique compliance requirements and the conflict between state and federal laws regarding cannabis create an unsafe, mostly cash industry,” Fourth Corner Credit Union’s Industry Relations Expert, Mark Goldfogel, told CULTURE. “This makes tax collection, diversion control and illicit activity significantly more difficult to regulate and enforce.” It remains to be seen whether the company’s scaled-down approach to a legal opening will hold up in court, but if it does, the industry will be one step closer to having cannabis banking access.

The Grow-Off Competition Awards Top Cultivators in Colorado

The Grow-Off is a local competition that pits 40 different cannabis cultivators against each other to see who can grow the best product. All the growers start off with the same genetics, and the contest determines who has the best potency, terpenes and yield after the cannabis is grown. “This was our biggest competition yet, with 73 medical growers entering from as far away as Steamboat Springs,” Jake Browne, Co-founder of The Grow-Off, told CULTURE. “The Clinic cleaned up with wins in terpenes and yield, and Verde Natural managed to hit 31 percent THC to win potency. The average team only got to 18 percent. With growers starting with a mystery strain and going from there, I think it’s the hardest cannabis competition in the world.” The competition stands out in terms of ethics, as there are no secret judging systems, and judges cannot buy booths in the competition. The only way to win is to have test results that come out on top.

Los Angeles

Baldwin Park Issues 10 Cannabis Business Permits

Thirty-two businesses applied for permits to cultivate, manufacture and distribute recreational and medical cannabis in Baldwin Park, and on Dec. 13, a total of 10 permits were awarded. The city council voted to amend Chapter 127, Medical and Adult Use Commercial Cannabis, of Title XI, Business Regulations to the City of Baldwin Park Municipal Code. “I want to thank all the applicants that are out there,” Mayor Pro Tem Ricardo Pacheco said. “You guys put a lot of heart and soul into this, a lot of investment and a lot of work.” In Baldwin Park, the sale of medical and recreational cannabis in retail stores is not permitted, but cultivation, manufacturing and distribution companies are allowed. On Dec. 18, Baldwin Park officials decided to issue Rukli, Inc. the city’s only distribution license, but some other applicants were unhappy because of the monopoly on transportation that the company would have.


Industrial Park to Become Medical Cannabis Epicenter

Harvest Park, an industrial park in development in Windsor Township, is on track to become an epicenter for medical cannabis cultivation, processing and testing. The township recently approved 10 Class A, 10 Class B and 100 Class C cultivation licenses. More licenses will include 10 for processing, three for secure transport and five for testing. The township is issuing a total of 138 medical cannabis licenses, making it the “largest medical marijuana development east of the Mississippi,” according to a press release. “We’ve worked with the township and gained approval for the local zoning and ordinances required to enable licensure for all levels of cultivation, processing, testing and secure transport,” stated Jeff Donahue, managing director of the industrial park. The 130-acre park is expected to be completed in several phases, and developers are in partnership with local utility companies in order to accommodate the needed power supply.

Comstock Township Opts Out of Medical Cannabis Sales

The Comstock Township Board of Trustees voted 5-2 on Dec. 4, 2017, to opt out of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP). Each Michigan municipality has the option of passing an ordinance to opt in or out of the MMMP. “I don’t think that people who want to invest in this industry are going to wait around,” said Trustee David Camburn, who voted against keeping medical cannabis businesses out of Comstock Township. “Nearby communities are opting in and will get their business.” Camburn also statted that he believes the township may be missing out on potential ancillary benefits such as tax revenue. Many Michigan cities have been reluctant to embrace medical cannabis due to the rapid release of the program’s emergency rules, which were released by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs merely weeks before the license application period began on December 15, 2017. The decision could be reversed in the future.


Local Company to Trade Cannabis for Opioids

Kaya Holdings Inc. announced on Nov. 28, 2017, that it would be launching an inventive campaign to allow consumers to trade their opioids for cannabis in order to do its part in fighting America’s deadly opioid epidemic. The program, Kaya Cares, will focus on those who are overly dependent on opioids. “Numerous studies have shown that states with legal marijuana programs have declining rates of opioid addiction, with some states reporting a decrease in deaths as high as 25 percent,” Craig Frank, CEO of Kaya Holdings Inc. stated. “We want to help people in the communities we serve, as well as demonstrate that cannabis companies can be part of the president’s solution to the crisis.” The company oversees three cannabis retail stores and has a fourth store on the way, serving medical patients and recreational cannabis consumers across Oregon.


Oregon Liquor Control Commission Weighs in on Cannabis Competitions

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) released Bulletin CE2017-16 on Nov. 27, 2017, which covers compliance requirements regarding cannabis competitions. “The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has been receiving an increase in questions regarding how licensees can enter into Cup Competitions and remain in compliance with recreational marijuana laws and rules,” the commission stated. “It is important that you understand the proper process for entering these competitions as well as what is—and is not—allowed.” Only licensed retailers can sell or gift cannabis to the public. “The only compliant way for Cup Competition samples to be provided to judges is for the items to be purchased at an OLCC Retailer location,” the bulletin reads in bold font. The traditional method of having judges sample top cannabis strains directly from competitors is not acceptable in Oregon if organizations want to stay compliant with the OLCC.

San Diego

CDFA Releases Cannabis Event Guidelines

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has released guidelines that regulate cannabis events at district agricultural associations. Organizers must provide notices of any prohibitions before events take place. Alcohol sales, samples and donations are prohibited, at events where cannabis is served. Cannabis smoking is not allowed where tobacco smoking is prohibited and buffer zones from schools, daycare centers and other prohibited areas will apply. The guidelines also direct the 22nd District Agricultural Association (DAA) to adopt a formal policy. “The board, through the Agriculture Committee, will work with staff to draft a policy specific to the 22nd DAA but following the guidance of CDFA,” stated CDFA Director Stephen Shewmaker. “We will invite public comment before bringing it to the board for a full vote. I expect this will happen after the first of year.”

Researchers Claim to Link Chronic Cannabis Consumption with Vomiting Syndrome

On Nov. 30, 2017, researchers from San Diego gathered to discuss Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), which is uncontrolled vomiting that purportedly affects a small percentage of cannabis consumers who consume heavy amounts of cannabis daily. CHS is characterized by vomiting and the impulse to take a hot shower. “What is ‘scromiting’?” asked Roneet Lev. M.D., of Scripps Mercy Hospital, E.R. “It’s a new term that is combining the word screaming and vomiting and really [is] the hallmark sign of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome, or CHS. In my daily work in the emergency department I see at least one patient a day with cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. Very frequently.”  Lev’s experience in the emergency room differs greatly from what other doctors say about chronic cannabis consumption. CHS was first reported by Australian researchers in 2004 and is considered a rare condition.


Northwest Cannabis Icon JoAnna McKee Passes Away

In early December 2017, it was announced that JoAnna McKee, the legendary “queen of Northwest cannabis” had passed away. McKee co-founded one of the first medical cannabis dispensaries in Washington State, the Green Cross Patient Co-Op in 1993, to help those suffering from HIV/AIDS. In 1995 she was victim to the first medical cannabis raid in the United States. McKee, along with other medical cannabis patients, drafted and filed a medical cannabis initiative in 1997. She was also involved in an integral part of a different bill, Initiative 692’s passage in 1998, which was one of the first statewide medical cannabis bills to pass into law. “She was a fearless leader when it came to cannabis and patients’ rights,” Officiator of the memorial service Dale Rogers told CULTURE. “She opened up all the doors with politicians, law enforcement and doctors for us to have this conversation.” McKee’s memorial service was held on Dec. 7 at All Pilgrims Christian Church in Capitol Hill.


Future Looking Grim for Washington State Hemp

Due to lack of funding, the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot program in Washington State may come to an end in 2018. “The reality is that somebody has to fund the program. When we originally passed the legislation, it was funded for one year at $150,000. If you look at that bill, which was SB-6206, [it] basically paid for the personnel to run the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot and some additional expenses,” Founder of the Washington chapter of the Hemp Industries Association, Joy Beckerman, told CULTURE. After these funds were allocated, there was a goal set that the program would become self-funded. “Most states do want programs to be self-funded by virtue of fees,” Beckerman continued. “So, the fees weren’t generated in order for them to fund [2018]’s program . . . ” Beckerman filed two sister bills, House Bill 1979 and Senate Bill 5732, which aim to keep the program funded. There is still a chance for either bill to pass.


Country of Georgia Decriminalizes Cannabis

On November 30, 2017, the Constitutional Court of Georgia announced its decision to decriminalize cannabis in the country. The move comes after citizen of the former Soviet Republic, Givi Shanidze, challenged Article 273 of the Criminal Court of Georgia, which prohibits cannabis possession without a medical prescription. Givi Shanidze vs. Georgian Parliament was backed by the political group Girchi. “According to the claimant, marijuana consumption may be used [medically and recreationally],” court documents read, translated from Georgian. “[It is] the right of a[ny] person to choose the appropriate form of relaxation, and the means to be protected by [that] right.” The Constitutional Court ultimately found Article 273 to be contrary to Article 16 of the Constitution. The court found that any person who lives in the country of Georgia has the right to the appropriate form of recreation, which includes cannabis, and that cannabis consumption does not create a public threat.

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