California edition / January 18, 2020
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1 UP NEXT: COMPLETE ADMINISTRATIVE REVAMP

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We’re only in mid-month January and 2020’s Golden State legal market narrative already has its throughline: This spring Gov. Gavin Newsom will reveal the details of the cannabis oversight revamp proposed last Friday and the healing shall begin.

What we know right now is that a new office will emerge, and that spring will bring specifics on two key tax changes. 
Cannabis Wire/Canna Law Blog

  • Gov. Newsom’s conversations with industry stakeholders have led him to consider broad tax reductions. Less obviously, but also certain to bring considerable impact: California will also be changing the point of collection for some taxes. Under the proposed plan, the first distributor in the chain would remit the cultivation tax, while retailers would be responsible for the excise tax.
  • The new office would consolidate the duties of the Bureau of Cannabis Control, California Department of Public Health, and California Department of Food and Agriculture by July of next year.

Quick Hits

  1. A recently closed $15M bridge round was supposed to “keep the lights on” at Eaze. Instead, the first cannabis company to draw funding from Big Tech is reportedly facing layoffs as it attempts a pivot.
    Tech Crunch

  2. The Western map spots where prohibition is less this week include Hawaii, where  decriminalization just kicked in, and Placerville, which has allowed three new retail operations.
    Marijuana Moment/Mountain Democrat

  3. San Francisco has implemented a new cannabis application portal. Anyone who has struggled through an unwieldy government site is begging their deities to bring such tech to their neck of the woods.
    GovTech
 

2 IS PASADENA AN ILLICIT MARKET SPONSOR?

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If Santa Barbara has, in the early running, established itself as a legal weed star, then Pasadena may have established itself as the REC dunce. The city that has sued itself is now being accused of promoting unsanctioned sales, via policy.
Pasadena Now

  • City ordinance dispensary distance restrictions have limited the number of dispensaries operating legally in Pasadena to one, Harvest. City regulations would otherwise allow for as many as one dispensary per Council district to open.
  • George Boyadjian, founder of unlicensed 420 College says,"The City of Pasadena and most of the jurisdictions in California are kind of continuing the war on drugs and it’s not necessarily color-based like it was before, now it’s more of a economic warfare towards people who can afford it and who can’t. So the rich boys, the millionaires, get to play this game of, of legal cannabis.”

Quick Hit

  1. At a Jan. 6 meeting of the San Francisco Cannabis Oversight Committee, a halt on business applications was recommended, until the glut can be managed.
    Bay Area Reporter

3 WILL SAC GIVE DRUG WAR VICTIMS 10 DISPENSARIES?

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In 2018, the City of Sacramento approved the creation of CORE, its Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity program. As none of the River City's 30 compliant dispensaries was owned by black women or men, CORE — economic incentives and training for communities disproportionately popped by Sactown cops for weed — seemed a necessity.

Now Sacramento may add 10 dispensaries as a means toward meaningful social equity.
Sacramento Bee

  • About 117 people have graduated from CORE and are eligible for waivers of thousands of dollars in fees. However, a present cap of 30 municipal dispensaries prevents them from using the reparative measure.
  • “We’re at a point not only where the city has to build trust with communities damaged by the War on Drugs, but we really have to be intentional about opening up this market,” Malaki Amen, executive director of the California Urban Partnership, told the City Council.
This week on the podcast
Weed & the Body at War, with Alice Moon
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4 POLS TO CANNA FRONT OFFICE: OUR NEW REVOLVING DOOR

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These days, eyebrows hardly raise when a local government official moves from oversight to developing the private sector of weed. Some see the revolving door dynamic as a sign that the cannabis sector is maturing.

If energy and health care have it, the dynamic just has to be worth emulating, right? Hiring ex-pols is a shortcut to success.
MJ Biz Daily

Quick Hit

  1. “Ubiquitous access to plant-based solutions for happiness”? Who wouldn’t be up for that? Caliva brings a new approach to L.A.’s 2.7M… um, plant-based solution aficionados.
    Green Market Report 

5 ONE COMPANY CONFRONTS A WORLD DUPED BY FAKE VAPES

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Via social media, the Cali vape company Platinum began receiving messages of complaint. "‘Hey, I bought this cartridge [and] it doesn’t taste right.' 'This isn’t a Platinum vape.' 'What are you guys doing?’”

Those messages were the start of the manufacturer and distributor's fight against fakes being distributed in Michigan.
Cannabis Business Times

  • Platinum EO George Sadler hired a couple of employees to check stores and turn them in to law enforcement. Reportedly, Sadler says bootleggers were making "hundreds of thousands of cartridges a month."

6 SAN DIEGO COUNCIL APPROVES BILLBOARD BAN

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The City of San Diego voted to ban cannabis billboards within 1,000 feet of public parks, day care centers, schools, playgrounds, youth centers and playgrounds. Activists would like to pursue advertising prohibitions in areas near libraries and churches, too.
La Jolla Light

  • A lawyer for the dispensary March and Ash suggested the city meet with constitutional law scholars as well as host a public forum to discuss future laws.

Quick Hit

  1. Does Mendocino County’s Board of Supervisors needs to revisit its "beached whale" of a cannabis ordinance?
    Ukiah Daily Journal

7 PACKER’S LONG-ANTICIPATED MEDIA RECKONING

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HANNAH SMITH

In the past, WeedWeek California has been accused of being too soft on embattled top L.A. regulator Cat Packer. We prefer to think of it as being patient. The job's uncomparaby huge, and she is pretty darn likeable.

As the Department of Cannabis Regulations list of foibles — real and imagined — piled up, we waited and waited and waited for Packer's local newpaper of record to recognize that her often blazing unpopularity was a legitimate thing.

This week, that finally happened, and Packer got the biographical once over that a figure of her stature merits.
Los Angeles Times

  • "Packer would face a furious and disappointed crowd of cannabis applicants and activists in the marble chambers of City Hall and tell them that she was disappointed too. That the city had ended up hurting hundreds of people who took financial risks as they tried to nab a limited number of licenses. That she routinely told other cities not to do what L.A. did."
  • The profile revisits the background that built this idealistic young leader, which makes her present-tense struggles all the harder to stomach.

8 DISPENSARY-FREE FRESNO MAY HAVE A DEAL, FINALLY

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Last Friday Fresno City Councilmembers Esmeralda Soria and Miguel Arias issued a press release announcing that they had agreed to terms that would finally allow California's largest municipality without legal dispensary service to begin taxing and regulating its very popular cannabis industry.
Fresno Bee

  • A compromise came once the proposed plan included new language allowing licenses to change hands annually, during the renewal process. Also at issue was surveillance footage restrictions.

Quick Hits

  1. This week Contra Costa County announced that it will instantly wipe out 3,264 cannabis convictions, all identified by Code for America.
    San Jose Mercury News

9 DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING ABOUT POT IN THE 2010S?

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Anyone who has survived the cannabis industry through the last decade, has learned a lesson or two, according to one Menocino grower.
Cannabis Now

  • "Once brands came into being, many of the big guys who drove the giant pick-ups and lived high on the hog pushed their way in, as if to prove they had it all wrapped up. Others showed up from all corners of the globe, ready to take on huge investments and be winners in the cannabis game. Enormous numbers were tossed around with ease."

10 SANTANA NOW MORE THAN JUST MUSICALLY DOPE

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As if having in the market a powerful 2019 album weren't legend-cementing enough, Carlos Santana has launched a cannabis partnership with Santa Rosa-based Left Coast Ventures.
Billboard

  • In time for the summer, Santana is expected to launch brands that reflect his heritage as well as "incorporat[e] his divine philosophies."