California edition / December 21, 2019
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1 HUGE LANDLORD FINES — ENFORCEMENT’S HOT DETERRENT

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PHOTO BY PATRICK HENDRY ON UNSPLASH

Two years ago, Sacramento popularized the municipal approach of assessing a fine against landlords and other property owners, associated with illicit grows. Today, the City of Malibu and Stanislaus and Placer Counties are levying $1,000-per-plant penalties as a way of warring against the traditional market. More than a dozen cities and counties statewide are exploring similar strategies or have begun implementing them.

On the other hand, property owners in Sactown are taking legal action against the city. Landlords claim the fines violate their constitutional rights and are excessive.
Capital Public Radio 

  • Back in 2014, before it was cool, Fresno County actually began the trend of fining landlords a grand for illegal plants discovered on their properties.
  • Sacramento isn’t merely a municipal fine groundbreaker, it’s also the harshest. The county penalizes  $1,000 a plant, every day. The city of Sacramento fines property owners $500 per plant. It also is taking its fine-ass show on the road, providing consulting services to the County in developing its ordinance. (“The per-day thing? Brilliant!” said the county.) Elk Grove and Long Beach are also learning at the feet of Sacramento’s fine leadership.
  • How about the unwitting landlords though? Unsurprsingly, many are claiming they knew nothing of their tenants grows. In the past year-and-a-half hundreds of property owners have challenged their penalties, which have amounted to $94M. They’ve also filed more than 50 legal actions.

Quick Hits

  1. As evidenced by most WeedWeek California readers’ ability to consume this content, describing the Golden State’s legal weed kick-off as a canary in a coal mine for the rest of North America isn’t wholly accurate. But, beyond the literal? Apt af.
    Chicago Tribune
  2. QR codes can now be used to verify whether a dealer is state sanctioned, On Thursday the Bureau of Cannabis Control announced a program through which participating dispensaries can have codes in their windows scanned by and linked to the bureau’s online license system.
    Associated Press
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2 LOWELL FARMS FACING LAWSUIT & MAJOR FINES

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In mid-March, the departments of Fish and Wildlife and Food and Ag seized 17,772  pre-rolls, 7,162 jars of flower and more than 1,400 pounds of bud from a San Luis Obispo County grow allegedly run by Lowell Herb Co. Now the CDFA is suing Lowell’s David Elias and Brett Vapnek for allegedly engaging in commercial cannabis activity without a license. 
Cal Coast News

  • Attorney General Xavier Beccera’s lawsuit alleges that from December of last year Lowell had been processing cannabis without a license. Lowell’s penalty could ultimately be more than $27,000 a day. 
  • The suit points to the much-discussed harm done to state-sanctioned weed by unlicensed grows.
  • Lowell Farms released a statement that said, in part, "We have never released a product to the market that has not been tested in a State-licensed testing facility.  All Lowell products are sourced and sold exclusively in California’s legal cannabis marketplace."

Quick Hit

  • In a chase that led to Highway 101, Santa Rosa Police failed to apprehend six black men who allegedly robbed a dispensary. Fleeing through Rohnert Park, the suspects left a trail of bud behind them.
    Patch

3 NEW TAX PLAN MAY CONSIDER POTENCY

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A new tax approaach based on the amounts of THC or CBD in products has been recommended by the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office. The plan would kill all present taxes, including consumer retail taxes. In their place would be a tiered system based on potency.
Associated Press

  • “As California’s regulated market struggles against a thriving illicit industry, we believe that comprehensive tax reform will incentivize consumers to purchase regulated cannabis products, ease administration and compliance, and increase and stabilize revenues for the state,” the California Cannabis Industry Association said in a statement.
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4 SECONDS COUNT IN L.A. EQUITY FLAP

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Back in September, minutes before the publicized 10 a.m. opening of Los Angeles’ Phase 3 licensing round, more than 800 applicants were waiting for entry to the Department of Cannabis Regulation’s system and a shot at 100 coveted licenses. Two applicants were inadvertently granted early access when their passwords were reset, resulting in calls for an audit and even a suspension of the process. 

The DCR now acknowledges that a dozen additional applicants were allowed in seconds before the scheduled launch.
L.A. Times

  • The city says that the early entrants have been “normalized” and treated as 10 a.m. arrivals, yet is conducting an audit regardless.
  • Though Los Angeles claims transparency, applicants have packed City Hall, demanding that all 8oo applications be vetted. A change in city regulations would be required for such vetting.

Quick Hit

  1. Yountville is set to get its first cannabis business, but that company might turn out to be something other than the expected dispensary. The town's debut enterprise might just end up a spa.
    Napa Valley Register

5 SINCE YOU COULDN’T MAKE THE EMERALD CUP…

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A veteran reviewer returned to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds last week, went walking up and down its aisles of grower booths, and sampled a lot of the best cannabis strains grown last season.

The veteran reviewer had little negative to say.
Cannabis Now

  • Singled out for superlatives are Humboldt Brand Cannabis Co. and Varsity Cannabis Co.’s Garlic Cocktail. (“We really loved the notes we got off the pairing of GMO and Mimosa.”) The Village’s Wedding Crasher #18 was “one of the absolute highlights for me this weekend.”
  • Humboldt’s Organic Medicinals was granted the Regenerative Cannabis Farm Award.

Quick Hit

  • Through 120 brief interviews, the Instagram series Destigmatized seeks to replace the disgrace that’s marked mainstream views of consumption with a focus on the plants benefits.
    Yahoo!
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6 POT TOURISTS SANS GUIDES CAN IMPACT E.R.S

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As part of its four-part look at the state of legal cannabis, San Diego public media took a look at the rise of ill-fated edibles trips that finish in hospitals.

These victims are tourists, on so many levels.
KPBS

  • Since legalization, according to the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, emergency room visits for "cannabis poisoning" have gone up by 35% in San Diego County, from 606 in 2016 to 820 in 2018. Across the state, visits have spiked by nearly 49% percent, to just under 8,000.

Quick Hit

  1. The marvelous website for the Jerry Garcia Cannabis Collection may be a lot lighter on THC deets than on Grateful Dead music, but we are hip to its partnership with Holistic Industries, which has a new, $20 million headquarters in Michigan. So, we’re expecting Uncle Jerry’s stuff to be top shelf.
    Jerry Garcia 2020/Grateful Web

7 BREAKING: MSOS AREN’T HUGE UNION FANS

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Unionization is trending almost as impressively as are massive landlord fines in the wide world of cannabis. They're the result of labor peace requirements that are becoming normalized. Such agreements can raise employee costs and reduce flexibility.
MJ Business Journal

  • Cannabis management and ownership understand that unions can assist in bringing in and retaining talent, as well as deliver lobbying clout.
  • Complaints with some of the largest MSOs in cannabis have been lodged in recent months with the federal National Labor Relations Board.

8 DECRIM TALK FROM TWO WOULD-BE L.A. D.A.S

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Former San Francisco prosecutor George Gascon and former defense attorney Rachel Rossi voiced their support for drug decriminalization in last week's first debate among candidates for Los Angeles District Attorney.
Marijuana Moment

  • Gascon helped author the 2014 statewide initiative that reduced penalties for low-level drug offenses. In the accompanying video, Gascon — who was part of a research group who traveled to decriminalization Mecca Portugal this spring — said the U.S. goal should be that of Portugal, but that “we have a long way to go.”
  • Rossi expressed her support as well adding that some prosecutors are circumventing Prop. 47, the reduced penalties initiative, by overcharging possession as an intent to distribute.

9 THE POOR AND HURTING AWAIT COMPASSIONATE CARE’S RETURN

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PHOTO BY ADITYA ROMANSA ON UNSPLASH

Starting in 1996, California's indigent and infirm could rely on the Compassionate Care Act for necessary medicine. In 2016, the arrival of REC — and its accompanying 38 percent tax rate — spelled the end of non-profits' ability to give away cannabis to those in need.

much-needed comeback for compassion care seems to be on the way.
Kaiser Health News

  • Now, “the prices at dispensaries are out of reach if you need daily medicine, and the taxes are about to go up again,” said PTSD sufferer Richard Manning. “So the black market is where a lot of veterans and low-income people turn.”
  • Signed in October by Gov. Newsom, SB-34 will remove the cultivation, retail and excise taxes on cannabis donated through compassionate care programs.
  • Groups that have donated cannabis in the past are uncertain whether the old networks can be brought back. “It’s a little bit hard to see right now,” according to Lindsey Friedman, who runs Jetty Extracts' Shelter Project, an Inglewood-based charitable cannabis enterprise. “It’s a weird, gray area,” Friedman said.

10 WHAT STRAIN GOES WITH CGI FELINE HUMANOIDS?

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Yesterday Cats premiered. In the olden times, pre-screening you might have grabbed whatever cannabis strain was available, making the quality of one's moviegoing a legit coin-flip.

In 2018, the state possesses sources expert enough at pairing weed to cinema that even if the flick is a dog one can have a spectacular time. Here's what some of the top dispensary owners suggests to make Andre Lloyd more clever.
LA Mag