California edition / August 07, 2020
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1 SLO SUPERVISOR ADAM HILL DEAD

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San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill died Thursday in a suspected suicide. In March, Hill attempted to take his life the same day FBI agents raided his office. The SLO investigation was far from stand-alone.

Hill was praised as a caring and effective local politician. Full disclosure: Adam Hill was an opinion page columnist at the college newspaper I edited. We were not close.
KSBY/SLO Tribune

  • In March, Cal Coast reported: "For more than five years, multiple credible sources have reported corruption surrounding Hill, several developers and a group of marijuana businessmen. This includes allegations of pay-to-play, harassment and threats."

Quick Hits

  1. There are now more people working in the state's legal cannabis industry than there are computer progammers in the Golden State —50 percent more than last year.
    San Jose Metro
  2. For a long and winding look at how cannabis investors sought to capitalize on our public heath disaster, click here. Juanita and Dawn Ramos have a story to tell, along with the receipts and the spreadsheets for 6 million N95 masks.
    ProPublica
  3. For some, hashmaking is meditative and transformational, more than just a way to make a living. This week, culture columnist Ngaio Bealum introduces you to The Dank Dutchess
    WeedWeek
  4. Submit your paperwork to get that Mexican MED license while you can. The money that's to be made down south shall not be funny.
    Canna Law Blog
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2 DEA TO BCC: NAME 3 ILLICT THC OIL PLAYERS

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The ongoing story of the Drug Enforcement Administration's probe into three cannabis companies took a turn this week when a new court filing by the agency clarified that unlawful traffic of THC oil from Mexico is at the heart of its investigation.
Marijuana Moment

  • Last week the Bureau of Cannabis Control submitted a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California stating it opted not to comply with federal subpoenas because the agency had not properly explained the need for the requested information.
  • In the latest brief, the agency wrote, "Specifically, the DEA told the BCC that it was looking into the possible importation/transportation of a controlled substance from Mexico by specific licensees."

Quick Hits

  1. By a vote of 4-1, on Monday the West Hollywood City Council agreed to give licenses to the city's four original dispensaries. The quartet had secured enough signatures to get their issue on the Nov. 3 ballot.
    WeHoville

3 JUDGE QUESTIONS TOWNS’ STANDING IN STATE DELIVERY CASE

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The League of California Cities' much-watched lawsuit against the state for permitting local deliveries saw an initial setback Thursday as Fresno Superior Court Judge Rosemary McGuire questioned whether some in the suit can bring legal action, as they lack local ordinances in that conflict with the state law.
Associated Press

  • At the heart of the conflict, localities are claiming authority to ban non-MED businesses under 2016's REC legalization. The Bureau of Cannabis Control points to the law's business and professions code, which holds that local entities "shall not prevent delivery of cannabis or cannabis products on public roads" by licensed operators.
  • The plaintiffs are Beverly Hills, Agoura Hills, Angels Camp, Arcadia, Atwater, Ceres, Clovis, Covina, Dixon and Downey. Also participating are McFarland, Newman, Oakdale, Palmdale, Patterson, Riverbank, San Pablo, Sonora, Tehachapi, Temecula, Tracy, Turlock and Vacaville as well as Riverside and Santa Cruz Counties.
  • Don't expect a resolution anytime soon.
    WeedWeek

Quick Hits

  1. Florida's had 50,000 new MED sign-ups since March. For legal weed, even mature markets are spiking. Will the pandemic boom continue to explode for the illicit market, or is cannabis cannabilization on the horizon? 
    Politico
  2. Advance the co-working concept and improve diversity? Why, former investment immigration lawyer James Shih feels up for the task.
    OC Register

4 A $164M TRAINWRECK CALLED GENIUS FUND

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Ari Stiegler and Gabriel Borden were Venice guys in their 20s, connected to millions and eager to implement a model based on MedMen and Caliva. Then their Russian investor turned up dead.

Within two years their Genius Fund ended up exactly like MedMen, humiliated and down many millions in Culver City. 
dot.LA  

  • Genius Fund was known as a private equity company, but actually behaved like a family office for their high-wealth investor in the Moscow suburbs, "or a conglomerate that rolled up into one parent entity."
  • "Not one person at the top knew what they were doing," an unnamed Genius employee said. Cannabis has seen this kind of fecal storm before, but never with so many Russian accents.

Quick Hits

  1. Internet CBD searches outpace those of Kardashians. At the same time, hemp-product associations with charlatanism is a legitimate threat. Here's how to recover and store up some trust
    MG Retailer
  2. Lakers legend and entrepreneur Magic Johnson says he's impressed with Garrett Greller, founder of Uncle Bud's Hemp & CBD. So now they have a deal.
    Times of CBD
  3. There's no replacement for industry experience, but in a pinch you won't do better than consuming the insights and observations of Ophelia Chong and Mara Gordon
    Benzinga/Muse

6 FOR AN EASY SOCIAL-JUSTICE WIN, END ASSET FORFEITURE

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Civil asset forfeiture is a funding mechanism that undermines justice, corrupts and militarizes law enforcement, and worsens racial and economic inequalities. Designed to punish "kingpins," seizures in this state actually amounted only to $8,542 per bust, according to one study.

You can still oppose the illicit market and want this mechanism gone.
Filter

  • Birthed in the 1980s, asset forfeiture allegedly was invented as a crime-fighting tool designed to strip financial assets from drug-trafficking organizations. At the federal level, law enforcement can take property from the accused without having to convict or even charge. 
  • Last year, in updating the Institute for Justice report Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture, Seattle University economist Brian D. Kelly said "equitable sharing" increases didn't cut crime or drug use. That same report said that only 13 percent of those whose who've had their property seized are charged with a crime. 

Quick Hit

  1. Figures from politics and regulation join a range of entrepreneurs for a discussion of the "over-arching theme" that is, "Embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a Canna Business Culture."
    Cannabis LAB

7 HALF DON’T VOTE, HALF DON’T SMOKE; HOPE THEY’RE THE SAME

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Putting aside that Vice President Joe Biden embracing weed between now and November would be an all-time unforced error and a wet dream for the White House's present occupant, it does indeed suck that so few American political candidates of note are offering progressive cannabis positions.

Hilary Corrigan looks at who's to be held accountable in November.
WeedWeek

  • NORML has asked both the Biden and Trump campaigns to address legalization. Less symbolically, NORML has launched Smoke the Vote, a database of information on candidates’ positions and other cannabis-related information.
  • Of note also is the HeadCount Cannabis Voter Project's new one-stop tool for voting, registration status, finding poll locations and requesting absentee ballots.


Quick Hits

  1. Vegas behemoth Planet 13 was among the top four performers as American pot stocks leapt 27% in July.
    New Cannabis Ventures
  2. On July 29 came a proposed settlement between Nevada regulators and 17 cannabis businesses overlooked when licenses were given out in 2018. The deal would shuffle licenses statewide.
    Cannabis Dispensary

8 SPOTLIGHT ON A COUNTY REC PLAN FAILURE

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Wednesday, after a San Diego County Supervisors' REC proposal, leadership of San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods told board members to say strong in opposition, that any easing of restrictions in unincorporated areas "streamlines a process for ex-cons to set up a pot store." 

The citizen added that he had watched a a recent 60 Minutes segment showing that "virtually nothing is working." Guess how that San Diego proposal fared.
Patch

  • Supervisor Nathan Fletcher's plan called for zoning ordinances that would bring in cultivation and retail. Fletcher's permitting proposal also included a taxation system and a social-equity component.
  • The motion died without receiving a second. Fletcher called his fellow board members out of touch. 
  • San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods' Scott Chipman said, "we need a complete reeducation program on [the danger of legal] marijuana."

Quick Hit

  1. You insure cannabis businesses and see your retailer clientele grow and prosper. But the impacts of the pandemic on cannabis and insurance are more complex than any sales sheet can tell.
    Insurance Journal
  2. State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has a bill that makes a matter of public health out of the need to end mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders. 
    The Blacklist.xyz

9 HUMBOLDT HAS SOCIAL EQUITY. NOW, WHERE’S THE DOUGH?

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Humboldt County has been awarded $3.7M in social-equity funding, and impatience over how and when it's to be spent is rising

The answer to both issues lies in an undertaking called Project Trellis, a support program for Humboldt's cannabis industry.
Lost Coast Outpost

  • Of the $3.7M the BCC awarded the county, about $1.3M came in April's initial round of funding, which went to overhead. The remaining $2.4M is set to arrive later, slowed by COVID-19.  
  • Humboldt County decided to hire someone to strictly oversee Project Trellis and the Cannabis Equity Program. Presently, applicants have been vetted and interviews scheduled. 

Quick Hit

  1. Last month the Social Equity Owners & Workers Association dropped its suit against Los Angeles and the city agreed to changes to its program. Hundreds remain in line for licenses, so where's the payoff?
    Cannabis Now

10 STORCH REHAB MAKES WEED PART OF THE CURE

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Music Producer Scott Storch (David Becker/Getty Images)

Scott Storch gets credit for production in some of  the aughts' most monster rap tracks. Then he became infamously addicted to coke. In 2020, the super-producer is reinventing his persona with Heaven, rehab with a cannabis component.
Okayplayer

  • Storch said on Instagram, "I spent 8 years addicted to drugs and was able to get sober and rebuild my life. . Now it’s my turn to help save lives with my cannabis for healing rehab."

Quick Hits

  1. Here are Joe Rogan and Post Malone yammering for three-and-a-half hours while on psilocybin.
    Merry Jane
  2. Sunday marks the end of what's known in Deadhead circles as The Days Between, marking the nine days from Jerry Garcia's birthdate to his death. The name, of course, comes from a song.
    Celeb Stoner