California edition / July 17, 2020
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1 MORE BROKE BURGHS MAKE WEED THEIR SAVIOR

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As reported previously, cities previously opposed to having the cannabis industry within their limits are experiencing quarantine-driven come-to-Jesus moments and putting weed commerce on the ballot. Let’s spotlight legal weed’s latest likely converts, Vacaville and Fullerton.
The Reporter/Fullerton Observer

  • This week Fullerton, an Orange County city staring down at least $9M in budget shortfall, voted to send a proposed cannabis taxation ordinance to its planning commission. In 2017 the city responded to the previous year’s state passage of Prop. 64 by banning REC locally.
  • On Tuesday, the City Council of Vacaville, a Solano County municipality of nearly 100,000, will decide whether to allow a ballot measure to impose a business tax on cannabis, this after voting to continue its ban last year. 
  • For all the backlog and disorder caused by lack of municipality buy-in, there’s at least wisdom born of sideline sittin’ and illicit market supportin’: “The evolution of cannabis policy within California has shown that tax rates must not be so overburdening that operators choose to remain in the illegal market,” wrote the authors of Vacaville’s cannabis report.

Quick Hit

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2 9TH DISTRICT REVERSES FED BUST IN HUMBOLDT

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Last Friday the federal court for the Ninth District upheld a decision preventing the federal government from prosecuting two Humboldt County growers, who were arrested back in 2012 while operating under California MED law.

This the first U.S. Appeals court ruling to prohibit federal cannabis prosecution under congressional restrictions.
SF Chronicle 

  • Anthony Pisarski and Sonny Moore were busted at their remote grow carrying guns, thousands in cash, and gold. The two also presented evidence that they grew marijuana for nearby nonprofit collectives.
  • The growers pled guilty in 2014, but budgetary and congressional delays slowed their prosecution. Their lawyer, Ronald Richards, says a request that the pleas be withdrawn will be made. 
  • “People are still going to prison for marijuana offenses, notwithstanding the fact that most states have medical marijuana laws and many states have legalized marijuana,” Richards says. “This ruling paves the way for others to challenge these prosecutions and not have the decision upset by an appellate court reweighing the evidence.”

Quick Hits

  1. Caliva Chairwoman Carol Bartz is an extremely open-minded woman who expected very big things from cannabis, as evidenced by this wide-ranging feature.
    Benzinga 
  2. Tightly regulated Hawaii has loosened up and will now allow edibles to be sold legally to its 30,798 registered medical cannabis patients.
    Big Island Now

3 280E LAWYER EXITS FIRM, STAYS WITH HARBORSIDE

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James Mann, until recently of Greenspoon Marder, told WeedWeek’s Hilary Corrigan that he left the firm about two weeks ago, assigning blame to the size of his old firm. Regardless, Mann will remain Harborside’s counsel in its supremely important 280E tax fight.
WeedWeek

  • The government’s eagerly anticipated Tax Court dispute response is expected to arrive in late August. There will be no indifferent outcome. “Win or lose, it would be really great for the cannabis industry to get some guidance,” Mann says.

Quick Hit

  1. The legal pot industry has a tech wish list, and at the top of it is to advertise on Facebook and Google the way regular businesses do.
    WeedWeek

4 MPP 2020: LEADING IN AN UPSIDE-DOWN WORLD

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WeedWeek editor Alex Halperin grabbed some time with Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Steve Hawkins. The Amnesty International and NAACP veteran discussed what it’s like to lead at a time when cannabis is becoming a social- justice issue. 
WeedWeek

  • “Every business in the country is being challenged more to think about race and structural racism,” Hawkins says. “The cannabis industry is no different. I hope we’ll see companies think about their structure and what’s possible internally.”

Quick Hit

  1. Got three-and-half hours for a Zoom chat on cannabis and race? Steve Hawkins convenes some fresh faces and untied tongues to address justice in the plant’s American past, present and future.
    Marijuana Policy Project 

5 SF EQUITY TRIO LET INTO THE GAME

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San Francisco nightlife figure Johnny “Love” Metheny is a local celebrity gaining industry access through social equity licenses. The newly lively program brought on a couple of other compelling stories, if not boldface names.
SF Weekly

  • Hong Kong-born Henry Chan came into cannabis as a cultivator in 2009. He owns the Weedhub delivery service and is working toward opening the CannaClub dispensary in December.
  • The final SF licensee is Damien Posey, whose FGW Haight consumption lounge project drew the night’s sole dissenting vote. Previously, Posey spent five years working as a case manager for United Playaz, a San Francisco youth violence prevention program. 
  • Alexis Bronson is Metheny’s business partner and the CEO of the dispensary, which would open on Lombard Street by year’s end.

6 NEW MERCH FACT SHEET SPARKS BACKLASH

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The Bureau of Cannabis Control’s latest fact sheet on brand merch is mostly recap, but Sections 5000 and 5041.1 of bureau regulations, which discuss the definition of “branded merchandise,” caused some unresolved confusion. 
Attorney Omar Figueroa

  • The passage in dispute: “A licensed retailer may sell their own branded merchandise to retail customers. Retailers are not authorized to sell the branded merchandise of other licensees.” 
  • The second line, specifically, confounded, in that it appears to contradict MAUCRSA.
  • The author consulted the bureau’s Final Book of Reasons and found no answer.

7 WORLDWIDE WEED: UNCOLONIZED

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Speaking between Portland and Mexico City, podcast hosts Mennlay Aggrey and Lauren Yoshiko share their understanding of Africa’s history with the ancient plant and how cannabis dispersed around the globe.

Under-documented, the history engaged here isn’t distorted by colonial perspectives and avoids erasing Indigenous and Black voices.
Broccoli

  • Where pre-colonial African farming is concerned, Aggrey points out that cannabis was initially farmed on the continent after arriving from South Asia. That epochal journey reaches back to prehistory. More recently, A.D. 1000 was a pivotal time of dispersal.
  • Historian Isaac Campos's book Home Grown is discussed as a resource in Mexico’s known narrative of this drug and textile crop.

Quick Hit

  1. Contract farming was an unusual arrangement not long ago. Today it's pretty common for landowners to obtain cultivation permits and then bring on veteran growers to handle the actual farming.
    MJ Biz Daily 

8 THIS TIME, HUMBOLDT GETS A TALKING TO

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A Humboldt County grand jury evaluated local cannabis administration, then issued a report critical of how big sums of money are handled, among other oversight problems.

Last month, fellow industry leader Santa Barbara County received a harsh administrative critique from its grand jury.
Times-Standard, Independent

  • The process of dealing with the sea of cash that is legal weed “lacks transparency and creates the perception of potential for fraud,” according to the report.

Quick Hit

  1. Since the federal Farm Bill of 2018, hemp-derived CBD has made a community of consumers, farmers and other business folk. Not just in California, but across America, hemp people are enjoying business opportunities. Nevertheless, the Golden State remains at a competitive disadvantage during a time when economic relief is needed more than ever. Hemp, this attorney says, is crying out for admission to the legal market.
    Green Entrepreneur 

9 MARY JANE COURSEWORK COMES TO LBCC

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The Long Beach Cannabis Collective has partnered with Long Beach City College to bring the school in among the few, the proud, the community colleges teaching courses on the marijuana industry.
Long Beach Business Journal

  • BelCosta Labs cofounder Nate Winokur helped develop the curriculum and, last year, developed with the college individual workshops on the different types of Long Beach licenses. “We decided to introduce something that, at its heart, would introduce different businesses and license types to each other,” Winokur said.

Quick Hit

  1. The challenge of Gen Z marketing is that the the kids really need to know that you care. But you cannot seem to be trying in excess to let them know it.
    Cannabis Industry Journal

10 FIVE POINT LAUNCHES CHEECH & CHONG DISPENSARIES

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Cheech & Chong are set to put cannabis in five different states now that the comedy heroes have inked a dispensary deal with Five Point Holdings.

Announced on June 30, the deal will put their shops in Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Illinois and California.
Celeb Stoner

  • Said Chong’s son and business manager Paris: “There are a handful of names and brands recognized by everyone around the world and the Cheech & Chong brand is one of them."

Quick Hit

  1. Journalist, comedian and cannabis scenester Ngaio Bealum has joined WeedWeek as our culture columnist. In his first piece, he asks, "What is weed culture?"