California edition / April 25, 2020
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1 THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE

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Legal weed is in the middle of a neat trick, establishing permanence while its present form dies. 

If you're just tuning in, the industry's first crisis flirtation coincided with last year's capital crisis. Then, in the throes of that crunch, came the P.R. meltdown that was the 2019 vaping ordeal. Compromised, California legal weed now contends with a lockdown that has it "
on the brink of collapsing."
Sacramento Bee/BisNow 

  • After legal weed's initial sales spike and new recognition as an essential industry came the drab-yet-expensive workplace adaptations and deflating news of federal relief denial. The United Cannabis Business Association asked the state government to drop or extend license renewal deadlines. The answer was no.
  •  “You add in the economic conditions caused by [the coronavirus], and you’ve created an extinction event, regardless of whether sales go up or down,” says Amanda Ostrowitz, CEO of the regulatory data company CannaRegs.  

    Quick Hit

  1. Santa Barbara County is projected to have a shortfall of $3.6M at the fiscal year's end. Without tax revenues from the cannabis industry, that deficit would be $20M deeper.
    Coastal News
  2. This week in the adventures of Salinas grower Paul King in Florida, King files a lawsuit in Santa Barbara alleging that the guy he's accused of stiffing for $3M ruined his Northern California operation. Former NHL great Darius Kasparaitis manages to be involved. 
    The Real Deal
This week on the podcast
Swapcast Consummation with The Wondering Jews

In this episode, we reciprocate our podcast swap with Portland’s Wondering Jews. In our turn, Alex and Donny quiz the WoJews’ Roy and Josh on how they came to effortlessly blend Talmudic study and cannabis love. Plus: The Man Who Legalized Cannabis.

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3 DATA SAYS STIMULUS CHECKS BOUGHT MARY JANE

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The online marketplace Jane Technologies pulled post-stimulus check data from more than 1,300 dispensaries and found a 48% increase. Data from other sources show a spike in weed purchases on April 15. Why do ya think they call it essential?
Green Entrepreneur

  • Springbig reported a 63.31% sales increase on April 15. Flowhub reported its second-best sales of the year after March 18 — the peak of the COVID-19 stockpile. Colorado dispensary  Seed & Smith had a 49% increase on April 15. 
  •  "A normal day during this COVID pandemic is about $6,500 a day, which is actually lower than a normal day, because of the lack of tourism," says Robbie Wroblewski, Seed & Smith's director of community outreach. "But since the checks started dropping we have seen a huge jump, and it is all coming from the local community as opposed to tourists."

4 CHUCKING BAD WEED AIN’T CHEAP

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Ten percent of what you paid for that flower from a California delivery goes to  testing. And the most expensive part of that safety measure? Getting rid of bud that doesn't meet state standards, according to a study released Thursday. 
UC Davis

  • The state's low- or zero-tolerance standards for pesticide residues are the cause of most testing failures. Labs have reported variation in test results of up to 10% from the same sample.
  • “Testing itself is costly,” says study author Dan Sumner, a professor of agricultural economics at UC Davis. “But growers have to destroy the product that doesn’t pass the test, and that is where the biggest losses occur.”

5 L.A. TAKES BIG SOCIAL EQUITY SLICE, CONTENDS WITH SUIT

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09: Don Cannon protests on the steps of New York City Hall in support of the proposed Fairness and Equity Act, which would attempt to reform racially biased arrests in regards to marijuana possession in New York state on July 9, 2014 in New York City. New York State recently passed a new law allowing medical marijuana usage. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The state's Cannabis Equity Grant Program for Local Jurisdictions made available $30M in social-equity fundingSix million will go to the city of Los Angeles, which last year received $1.8M.

That's the good news for Los Angeles.

The city's Department of Cannabis Regulation's botched social-equity licensing rollout last fall was deemed “reasonable and appropriate” in an audit released last month. But that hasn't stopped a group called Social Equity Owners and Workers Association from suing the city
NBC Los Angeles/Los Angeles Times

  • The state's $30M in Local Jurisdiction funds are dispersed to provide verified applicants with workforce development and business development services, among other resources, and access to grants and loans. 
  • The department's beef with the entrepreneurs who would become Social Equity Owners and Workers arose in September, when hundreds rushed to submit applications. Only 100 licenses were available, and 14 of the 226 applicants vying to be first in line gained early access. The lawsuit says the early 14 gained a "significant advantage."

Quick Hit

  1. In a nation still intent on busting black users disproportinately — even in legal states — we have Shasta, Contra Costa, Humboldt and Alameda as our counties with the greatest racial disparities in pot arrests.  Here, too, is where I'm trying not to be arrested. 
    California Norml
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6 BLACKLIST THE DEBTORS?

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It's come to this. Among Cali's 1,000 distributors, a group of about 30 are sharing a list of companies who have fallen behind on their bills, and blacklisting them. And they're, like, heroes?

This is not your father's cannabis industry. It's way grosser.
MJ Biz Daily

  • The Cannabis Distribution Association is "trying to solve the ripple effects of unpaid bills" by gathering and pooling data on who's been late paying. Well, we're assuming they're just gathering and pooling — because kicking while these companies are down isn't viable under shelter-in-place directives.  

Quick Hit

  1. Creamed by Covid-19 and Nevada's accompanying restrictions, mammoth Las Vegas dispensary Planet 13 is pivoting to  delivery-only in Nevada. Plans for its California superstore remain in place, and by September the company will transition from a third-party delivery partner to in-house delivery.
    New Cannabis Ventures

7 ETHICAL WEED HITS MEXICO

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Independent growers in Mexico have a vision: No more gunfights in the street. No more neighborhoods and towns under siege. Now the wave is new seeds from The States and Europe and climate-controlled environments, all to make stronger, more refined products as well as oils and other derivatives. Most importantly, no violent middle men between growers and the marketplace. 

Welcome to
ethical weed in Mexico
Vice 

  • Cartel-free marijuana farming is happening in infamously violent Sinaloa. Romas are being planted by independent farmers, inside greenhouses as well as in homes.
  • These farms are in the minority and incentivized not to grow too big. “As long as you stay small and not too flashy you might avoid the vultures. But that’s a big if,” one farmer says. Most independent growers don't yet have the resources needed to grow great pot.

Quick Hits

  1. Mexico's Supreme Court ruled in favor cannabis legalization in 2018, setting fall 2019 as a deadline for legislative implementation. Earlier this year in Mexico City came a delay. Guess what happened this week.
    Marijuana Moment
  2. West Hollywood's Original Cannabis Cafe was the first licensed consumption venue. Now it's Los Angeles' first drive-through cafe.  
    LAist

8 2020: THE YEAR THE MUSHROOMS DIED

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The campaign to decriminalize psilocybin in California died, quietly and off camera, upon  missing this week's signature deadline. As with most crap developments in the foreseeable future, COVID-19 is to blame. 

The campaign initially sought to fully decriminalized magic mushrooms, but was amended to allow sale in licensed shops.
Filter

  • By Tuesday, the Decriminalize California-backed initiative needed to present 623,212 signatures from registered voters to get onto the November ballot. After shelter-in-place orders, campaign organizers asked the state for a deadline extension and permission to use digital tools as a means of collecting signatures.
  • In a Tuesday email to supporters the campaign wrote, “As of yet we have not received a single indication that the California government will allow for an extension or electronic signatures."
  • Decriminalize California plans to try again in 2022 and reportedly will resume gathering signatures once social distancing ends. 

Quick Hit

  1. Meanwhile, Hollister bought Alpha Minds in a stock deal, creating a "perfect foothold" for the company to get in on the paradoxically mushrooming medicinal market. 
    Benzinga
  2. While most heads focused on cannabis this week, a select few observed cannabis day and the first acid trip. The best-equipped travelers learned the history of LSD pioneer Albert Hofmann before booking their flights.
    Double Blind

9 INSIDE DION WAITERS’ EDIBLES EPISODE

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 22: Dion Waiters #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks in the first half against the Golden State Warriors in game three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 22, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The landscape of sports is bereft of news. Junkies are watching ancient hoops and baseball contests. Talking heads have come closer to talking about actual nothing than was ever possible. The Michael Jordan documentary is being doled out on a weekly basis.

Then, this week new Laker Dion Waiters — play stopped a week after his acquisition — opened up about depression and last year's mystery-enshrouded edibles episode. And, for a moment, we were sated.
The Players' Tribune

  • Waiters, 28, signed with Los Angeles on March 6. He had played three games with the Miami Heat this year before being traded and subsequently cut. The precipitating incident came on a November flight from Phoenix, when the high-scoring forward reacted badly to an ingested edible and had to be removed from the plane. 
  • In the Tribune, Waiters expressed regret and denied having a seizure during the incident. "The [Heat] can speak on it. For that b.s. to come out, it ain’t right. I made a mistake, but for someone to leak that, and for my family to hear it? Shit. It ain’t right," he writes.

10 MIKE DIRNT’S GREENEST DAYS ARE AHEAD

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 20: Bassist Mike Dirnt of Green Day performs onstage during the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on September 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Once could say a rock act that billed itself Green Day has always been in the marijuana racket. Now, bassist Mike Dirnt makes it official as an investor, brand ambassador and marketing expert for the Santa Cruz company Goldenseed.
Variety

  • The founding Green Day member's long-time fandom of the plant leapt to a higher level during his wife's battle with breast cancer. They used "little pot pills" to help his wife handle the effects of chemotherapy. "The difference was like night and day. There was light at the end of the tunnel," Dirnt says.