California edition / May 02, 2020
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1 WHO DO YOU KNOW IN THE WEEDMAPS SUBPOENA?

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When reports that Orange County-based Weedmaps was under federal subpoena surfaced in March, the original documents supressed the identities of many California companies who had worked with the Yelp of weed. This week, Marijuana Business Daily obtained a copy of the subpoena.

Weedmaps’ relationships with the state's licensed and apparently illicit companies are a significant part of the investigation.
MJ Biz Daily

  • Industry attorneys say the subpoena's breadth makes gauging what the feds are looking for impossible. 
  • Company employees, officers and investors are identified in the document, almost 100 in total.
  • "The subpoena’s wide-ranging demand for information serves as a reminder that the U.S. Department of Justice will not allow the industry to operate unpoliced," writes John Schroyer.

Quick Hits

  1. Nearly two months have passed, and quarantine feels a bit like low-grade imprisonment. In fact, right now "may finally be cannabis’ moment to transform into a truly modern and mainstream industry."
    AdWeek
  2. If you don't think that police beating of a 14-year-old Rancho Cordova child isn't about pot, then you don't know about blunt culture. How many times have you seen an authority figure so enraged over a Swisher Sweet?
    The Guardian
  3. Throughout April, Johanna Silver showed folks how to grow at home, from her backyard in Berkeley. Silver's only growing half the legal limit, but the three she's  planting are Freakshow, Sweet Annie and Cherry Pie x Lemon Chem. Let's see how this plays out.
    Leafly
This week on the podcast
Nikki & Swami Farm the Living Soil

Swami Select founders Nikki Lastreto and Swami Chaitania met in San Francisco during the Summer of Love, coupled in 1980, and started their Mendocino County farm in 2003. The couple share their transition from globe-trotting seekers to practitioners of regenerative farming. 

  • Nikki and Swami have applied growing principles learned in their travels to India and Asia.
  • Nikki sold pot while working as a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle and KRON.
  • Swami Select is one of the few cannabis farms to commit to the regenerative farming, an agricultural approach geared toward restoring the earth.
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2 A COALITION, BORN FROM NECESSITY

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Historically in America it takes a crisis to propel integration. This could be one of those moments.

Under quarantine, delegations of racially diverse cannabis stakeholders have organized and started to make some noise, calling out their political representatives at the national and local levels. It's a development equal parts heartening and horrifying, a signifier of just how challenging circumstances are. 
Marijuana Moment/Associated Press

  1. On Monday, the Marijuana Justice Coalition insisted via letters to Congress that future COVID-19 stimulus packages include small-business loans to the cannabis sector as well as lending services through the Small Business Administration.
  2. In a letter dated April 23, the California State Conference of the NAACP, Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches and the Southern California Coalition warned Gov. Newsom that the coronavirus crisis's economic fallout will disproportionately hit women and communities ravaged by the War on Drugs. The letter requests a healthy tax cut.

This is what democracy looks like, you people.

Quick Hit

  1. Lake County is trying to figure out what to do with its $150,000 in social equity funding while Humboldt County decides about its $2.4M grant from a pool of funding from Sacramento. Even in the whitest parts of California, social equity isn't simple
    Record Bee/Humboldt Times Standard

3 ADAPTATION IS THE GAME’S NAME

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“Why would customers go back to waiting in lines in stores?" asks Socrates Rosenfeld, chief executive at Denver curbside pick-up orchestrator I Heart Jane. Over 100,000 users joined I Heart Jane over the quarantine's first week. Rosenfeld's is just one of many cannabis companies trying to adapt
Forbes

  • Emjay reports a move away from vaping products, with those products moving from second- to fourth-largest product category on the platform since California's stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, edibles have jumped 200%. 
  • Colorado and California have adjusted to new sales regulations multiple times. Colorado's 21-store chain The Green Solution closed and re-opened its sales floors, then started and then shut down curbside pick-up. Now the chain is steering customers to its website for delivery.

 

4 MEXICO TO TREAT POT AS AN ECONOMIC REMEDY

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For months we've known that Mexico's ruling party has been poised to enact a progressive cannabis policy allowing home growing and public consumption. Now, under Covid-19, pot is being regarded more as a fix for quarantine damage than a reform issue.
Benzinga

  • The newly established Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis would collect a 12% sales tax — with some revenue going toward a substance-misuse treatment fund — as well as to regulate the market and issue business licenses.
  • Mexico's proposed legalization bill would let citizens 18 and older possess and cultivate weed for personal use. Mexicans would be allowed to grow as many as 20 registered plants. 
  • Public consumption would be prohibited only in designated tobacco-free spaces.
  • In-person Senate meetings must be held before the legislation can be passed.

Quick Hit

  1. In Mt. Shasta, the Keep Cannabis Away from Kids coalition's campaign to curtail the legal weed industry lost momentum when Siskiyou County Clerk Laura Bynum rejected their signature submissions. Bynum said the group failed to supply the city with an affidavit in the required time frame.
    Mount Shasta Herald

5 DIVERGENCE IN NATIVE AMERICAN THC EXPERIENCE

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In the “tricky and unique" history of Native Americans' relationship with marijuana there's a history of elder prohibitions across the continent. But there's also the divergent history of First Nations usage. All of the unwieldy history traces to oppression at the government's hands.  
High Times

  • While most of the 573-some tribes of Indian Country officially oppose cannabis use, Native Americans are fighting for their cannabis rights in Ottawa and struggling through unprecedented conditions in Nevada.
    Cannabis Business Times
  • “Each tribe has their law and order code and it’s unique to their community, their tribe,” says Lauren Thom, enforcement director for Nevada's Inter-Tribal Marijuana Commission. At the start of quarantine, tribes within  Nevada declared a state of emergency, and the state's dispensaries closed. Now tribal weed business has recovered a semblance of normalcy and enforcement agencies are keeping tabs on their social distancing and other dispensary measures.

6 FTC CRACKING DOWN ON DODGY CBD CLAIMS

The Federal Trade Commission appears to be taking an increasingly tough stance on unsubstantiated CBD claims, as evidenced by its suit against Whole Leaf Organics. Falling by the wayside may be the softer touch of the warning letter.
Marijuana Moment

  • The FTC said the company claimed its Thrive nutritional supplement could treat or reduce the risk of cancer and contracting the novel coronavirus. This week Whole Leaf Organics' owner Marc Ching assented in a preliminary injunction hearing to an order barring Whole Leaf  from asserting products can treat COVID-19 or cancer. The agreement is not an admission of guilt; a hearing is set for January 2021.
  • Ching had previously received a Food and Drug Administration warning letter over his CBD product claims. But earlier this month former NFL player Kyle Turley published similarly unsubstantiated claims and merely received a letter asking that he cease.

Quick Hit

  1. We all know cannabis is now essential. This week, WeedWeek business columnist Dan Mitchell asked what that means.

7 VINTNERS SNUBBED IN SANTA BARBARA

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Legacy agriculture took one in the pants on Tuesday, when Santa Barbara's County Board of Supervisors approved a 50-acre cannabis field that will be situated at the Santa Rita Hills gateway. It will be the biggest operation yet for the bud-friendly county.
Santa Barbara Independent

  • In December, the Planning Commission turned down West Coast Farms LLC, saying the proposed area covered too much of the property and would cause unpleasant smells. Potential  “pesticide drift” onto the lucrative cannabis crop and conflicts with “legacy agriculture” were also cited as reasons for the denial. The reversal was led by Supervisor Steve Lavagnino. “We’re in a fiscal crisis,” Lavagnino says. “I don’t know where everybody thinks we’re going to pay for all these things we need to do in this county.”
  • West Coast Farms was the second project approved since quarantine. On March 17, Santa Barbara approved 22 acres of outdoor cannabis cultivation, on 62 acres at Busy Bee Organics, a half mile east of West Coast Farms.
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8 A NATION TURNS ITS SAFETY EYES TO US

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As we cross our fingers and hope to flatten the Covid-19 curve, other American states are experiencing new hot spots. This means California has an opportunity to serve as a model for how overall industry safety can be achieved and maintained.
Green Entrepreneur

  • Among the dispensaries doing it right is Santa Barbara's Coastal. An April visit to its flagship store showed proper distancing, PPEs and the “isolated quick pick-up” option — a window that has a self-contained and separate entrance. 
  • Central California's Autumn Brands reports implementing a number of new standard operating procedures, not the least of which are two full-time employees dedicated to sanitizing surfaces. Also, each employee must spend half an hour every day disinfecting their work area.

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9 MENDO CANNABIS ALLIANCE JOINS WITH ORIGINS COUNCIL

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The Mendocino Cannabis Alliance has partnered with the Origins Council, a California cannabis education, research and advocacy organization with a mind toward craft cannabis marketing and agritourism.
Redheaded Blackbelt

  • MCA and its regional partners will exchange information and resources with with the Origins Council, as well as collaborate on community-driven research initiatives.

Quick Hits

  1. Andrew DeAngelo writes that quarantine has made reform low priority: "We get shoved to the back burner. At the highest levels of state government, we cannot even get a meeting." 
    Benzinga
  2. Interest capturing and recycling wastewater is on the rise. As there are many ways to conserve, four operators offer their approaches to cutting water use.
    Cannabis Business Times

10 THAT’S RIGHT, HIGH TIMES SELLS WEED NOW

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After a few years of public missteps that would fell any operation in which the product doesn't sell itself,  High Times this week bought 13 dispensaries from Harvest Health. Many of them are not yet open. The move represents High Times' pivot away from media and event production.
SFist

  • In a deal as complex as a three-way NBA transaction, some of the Harvest dispensaries High Times is likely to own will come from Seattle's Have a Heart company, which Arizona-based Harvest Health bought last month. Not going to High Times are the S.F. Harvest dispensaries on Geary or near Mission. 
  • High Times was sold for $70M three years ago, but since then has fumbled its way through several Cannabis Cup iterations.
  • Says SFist, "The company’s attempt to IPO has been a comical disaster, and at this point is pretty much just a glorified GoFundMe effort that has no tradable shares nearly two years into the effort." Ouch.