California edition / March 21, 2020
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1 COVID-19’S CANNABIS DIVIDEND

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American life lay on the brink of lockdown, yet business is lovely. Leave it to Mary Jane to find a perfectly ironic moment to prove herself essential.
Leafly

  • California has experienced April 20 and Black Friday-level sales.  
  • There are reports of REC customers gathering in lines outside of dispensaries and sometimes purchasing the full ounce limit. 
  • “I’m not surprised with the ban saying folks over 60 need to stay home. Now delivery is pretty important to them,” said Maisha Bahati of  CrystalNugs in Sacramento. “We’ll see how that goes as things go on. If that population is going to increase.”
    ABC 10 
  • In Nevada, social distance-y dispensary lines were the story, until Gov. Sisolak classified cannabis as essential.
    Twitter
  • As a demonstration of how Cali legal weed can hold two thoughts in mind at once, Select pushed its “Puff Puff, Don’t Pass” campaign while riding the Los Angeles delivery boom.
    TMZ

Quick Hits

  1. While you were disinfecting, major-league MSO Harvest Health and Recreation bought Have a Heart dispensaries, then announced the departure of its executive director.
    Cannabis Dispensary Mag
  2. Fantastically fast, Meadow has developed and published a set of industry health and safety protocols
    Meadow
  3. Like 2020 group yoga and happy hours, the March 31 Infused Products Virtual Conference will be online. Unlike good yoga and booze, it doesn't cost anything. The agenda is varied and relevant.
    California Industry Journal
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2 BAY AREA ASKS, WHAT’S ‘ESSENTIAL’?

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Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

From Santa Cruz to Contra Costa, this week our patchwork county-to-county weed governance struggled with the definition of essential. As of publication, Bay Area local governments had begun settling on a uniform definition of what it means to be an industry Californians cannot do with out.
San Francisco Chronicle/ABC NEWS

  • After a citywide Cornonvirus order classified dispensaries among nonessential businesses, Mayor London Breed changed the call, telling ABC that during the new economic uncertainty "it's important that we think about creative things we can do for the short term in order to get us all through this." 
  • But through the region the rules vary throughout the region. Santa Clara County is allowing dispensaries to stay open  “for medical purposes, not recreational,” while Santa Cruz insists that only delivery and pickup be allowed and customers be kept from gathering in shops.

3 BEYOND DISPENSARIES: ONLINE & DELIVERY

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Several standards above the norm. That's MJBiz's description of California sales between the first Monday of 2020 and March 9. The increase in REC sales on those Mondays was 71% higher than last year. 

Right now, forward-looking companies aren't reveling in the spike or new normal or whatever this is, they're thinking about the transition to online sales and delivery.
MJ Biz Daily

  • Part of the sales surge is pressure on Internet business that not every entrepreneurial enterprise is ready for. Smart store owners have assessed inventory daily, as part of either opting for order increases or the decision to play it cool and not get ahead of an evolving legal framework.
  • Drive-through commerce is a sleeper dispensary alternative. Harborside's Desert Hot Springs dispensary, of two drive-thru dispensaries in the state, saw exceptional traffic this week
  • Colorado Harvest CEO Tim Cullen spoke in opposition to haphazard delivery set-ups. “I want to see delivery rolled out with a thoughtful approach,” he said.

Quick Hit

  1. You knew that cancellation of of the April 20 celebration on San Francisco's Hippie Hill was coming. But when the official news broke, you felt a bit deflated anyway. 
    SF Weekly
This week on the podcast
The WeedWeek Playlists

4 DAN MITCHELL ON COVID-19

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WeedWeek's new business columnist Dan Mitchell has his maiden story on what's happening to retailers during this mind-bending time in cannabis history.
WeedWeek

  •  While the coronavirus was in Asia, it represented a threat to the supply side. Now that COVID-19 is a stateside disease, the threat is to supply: Will dispensaries have enough?

PRE-ORDER "THE CANNABIS DICTIONARY!

5 WEED & BOOZE, FRENEMIES FOR NOW

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Sometimes strange bedfellows, California pot and wine, beer and liquor are newly aligned in their need for safely getting product to a ravenous public.

Unlike weed, liquor sales are badly lagging. And while bars are closed — but not before Tower Cafe used toilet paper as a lure  — winemakers have been allowed to keep pouring those grapes. 
Sacramento Bee

  • To reduce travel, the Berkeley Patients Group dispensary began offering a 10% discount to customers who buy four eighths of flower or four vape extracts.
  • REC and MED can contribute to the state's economy because dispensaries have been deemed essential businesses. “The whole supply chain of cannabis needs to be deemed an essential business,” Jerred Kiloh, president of the United Cannabis Business Association, this week wrote in a letter to Gov. Newsom.

6 WHAT MIGHT CANNABIS EVENTS LOOK LIKE?

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As Alex Halperin points out on Monday's WeedWeek podcast, legal weed cannabis conventions and conferences are a 21st-century development that connect folks in the formerly underground industry like never before. We don't know when we'll next see them.

An unprecedented amount of life is uncertain. But almost surely, cannabis and weed-adjacent events will come back looking different. Here's what's not happening this year. 
Celeb Stoner

  • Barcelona's Spannabis would have played out this week and would have been the linking event for the eighth edition of the World Cannabis Conferences.
  • Michiganders may be wincing at the loss of today's Hash Bash, but in Southern Cali the April Hall of Flowers cancellation lingers in the mind of entrepreneur and hanger-on alike.
  • Never mind the possibilities dangled in front of canna-business, such as Outside Lands 2019 earnings.

7 HUMBOLDT GROWERS TAKE A STAND

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This week lurched onward and "shelter in place" grew into vernacular. Then, the
Humboldt Growers Alliance spoke up. The trade association's preemptive letter to growers promised programs and sought to shape approaches to a commercial challenge without precedent.  
Redheaded Blackbelt

  • The letter referenced San Francisco's decision days earlier to keep open its dispensaries. It also  referenced Sonoma County's Tuesday decision "designating cannabis businesses as a type of essential healthcare operation."
  • The programs would be "to ensure that we are bringing [growers] the most updated and verified information."
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8 DIRECTOR: TAKE DIGITAL NAMES FOR MEASURE

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 14: Kevin Smith attends the premiere week screening of SYFY's "Deadly Class", hosted by Kevin Smith, at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre on January 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Butterfield/Getty Images)

Activist and filmmaker Kevin Smith says he campaign to approve the California Cannabis Hemp Heritage Act — a ballot initiative that would aid the industry through licensing and tax revisions — ought to be allowed to use digital signatures.

Smith wondered whether state inaction might doom the campaign. "Being that we are in the middle of a pandemic and that it would be irresponsible to send people out to get signatures, will digital signatures be enough?”
Marijuana Moment

  • The initiative would cap excise taxes at 10 percent, eliminate MED taxes, and mandate that half of tax revenue to go toward developing the legal weed industry.
  • Leadership of California's movement to legalize psilocybin made a similar request, and the timing is even more fortuitous than you may think: Scientists have discovered that psilocybin — along with LSD — regularly produces antidepressants in rats

Quick Hit

  1. Earlier this month, El Cajon puts put a host ordinance in place. That means in this San Diego suburb weed is now just like alcohol in that party hosts and property owners can be held responsible for weed provided to minors.
    Union-Tribune

9 NBA SHUTS DOWN DRUG TESTING

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The NBA was already relaxing its attitude toward marijuana when COVID-19 forced the league to cancel its season. When Commissioner Adam Silver announced that testing for cannabis use would be "paused" through the postponed season, CBS approached man-about-cannabis and NBA veteran Al Harrington for his thoughts on the decision.
CBS Sports 

  • The forty-year-old Harrington expressed doubt that league officials postponed testing for reasons beneficial to the workforce. He said. "It would be insane to send testers into players' homes right now." Harrington did allow that the NBA can still become the first sports league to not test players for consumption.
  • Harrington added, "I'm in Day 5 at home with my kids with this quarantine. If I didn't have cannabis, I'd probably be hanging off my roof right now. You know what I'm saying?"

Quick Hit

  1. Listen as  KindPeoples owner Khalil Moutawakkil of Santa Cruz explains how social distancing has impacted business.
    WBUR

10 TWO BAD MCS BURN BLUNTS

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Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella

Schoolboy Q is among the greatest MCs alive and one of Cali's finest weed representatives. Before a stunning Los Angeles set, GGL Double Groovy News' Snoop Dogg shows off his fast-evolving interview style to elicit insights from the younger legend. 

On Double Groovy, the two get remarkably stoned and super candid and the stories flow and flow. The Mac Miller section is remarkable.
MERRY JANE

  • "What made you go to the gym, anyway?" Snoop asks the newly-fit Schoolboy Q. "Maann," answers the rapper, "I was on drugs!" He's holding a blunt in his hand.
  • Q is "raw as fuck" at Call of Duty.

Quick Hit

  1. Americans have a flickering history of finding replacements for absent sports. Because stoned minds often think alike, the present void has two choices for weed-based March Madness subs.  Leafly's Best Way to Get High tournament  focuses on how THC gets inside of you while WeedMaps' Strains Madness is more of a connoisseurs racket.