California edition / October 09, 2020
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1 WHAT’S THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THIS CROP, THESE FIRES?

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CHERRY VALLEY, CA - AUGUST 01: Hotshot firefighters hike to a location to cut fire lines to battle the Apple Fire (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

West Coast wildfires have killed plants hundreds of miles away from the actual conflagrations. The terrible forest blazes of 2017 were mild by comparison. In the face of heartbreaking grower narratives, the fate of this season's outdoor crop is being pondered up and down the supply chain.
SFist/CNN Business

  • "The fires out west will put a big dent in this year's cannabis crop, with ripple effects across the entire nation's market," tweeted The Global Cannabis Community Alliance
  • Focus has moved to cleaning the plants and prepping them to be harvested and tested. Smoke damage, contamination and smaller buds are among principal concerns.
  • Lew Feldman offers his insights on the effects of ash and smoke on grass.
    The Blacklist

Quick Hits

  1. Meanwhile, state, local and federal resources have teamed to eradicate 1.1 million unlicensed plants at 455 California grow sites  last year, because that's the best idea we can come up with?
    Associated Press
  2. The one-two punch of looting and wildfires has lain bare the dire need for a functional relationship with the insurance industry. 
    Politico
  3. "The State of the Beverage Alcohol Industry Investment in Cannabis and What to Expect in 2021" is one of three topics to be discussed at the Wine Industry Network's Oct. 28 Weed & Wine Symposium
    Wine Industry Advisor
  4. The dispensary experience can make copping bud feel as breezy as buying high-end fast food. But when is the last time Shake Shack left you with a side order of mixed feelings?
    Leafly
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2 THESE COLORS WON’T RUN (BUT NOW THEY’LL GET YOU BUZZED)

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If you've happened to follow recent variations on the once boring-as-foil Pabst Blue Ribbon, it wouldn't surprise you to know that last year's higher-potency Extra, lower-strength Easy and intentionally toothless Non-Alc took the brand one direction. Then, the 175-year-old company went a whole different way, launching PBR Hard Coffee and following with PBR Hard Tea and PBR Hard Cold Brew. These proved to be gateways to PBR Stronger Seltzer and, tar-heroin of novelty alcohol, cheap Anheuser Busch whiskey.

In this well-informed context, weed-infused PBR is not shocking.
Food and Wine

  • Wednesday's product announcement said each 12-ounce can will contain 5 milligrams of THC to go with 25 calories and just four grams of sugar per serving. The product's developer is a new cannabis-focused entity called Pabst Labs.
  • The product will be available for delivery in Sacramento, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Humboldt County.
    NPR

Quick Hit

  1. In this on-demand webinar, Aubrey Marcus explains his approach to using psychedelics as a bio-hack.
    Green Entrepreneur

3 ONCE MORE WITH FEELING: LA OPENS LICENSING, AGAIN

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On Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m., the City of Los Angeles will begin its next licensing round. Critics are sure to be watching closely as prospective deliverers, distributors, non-volatile manufacturers and testing labs queue up to get into what's thus far been a very brutal game.
WeedWeek

  • L.A.'s delivery application process is available only to verified social-equity applicants. In April a group named the Social Equity Owners & Workers Association charged the city's social-equity program with being "compromised by corporate greed and government corruption." The suit was dropped after the city doubled the number of equity applications available.
  • In a blog post, real estate broker Gary Mittin outlines specific disadvantages that keep equity candidates in limbo.
    City Watch LA

4 AN IDYLLIC MEXICO, ON THE CUSP OF LEGALIZATION

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Mexico's Senate is expected to have legalized cannabis nationally by the middle of December. International opportunities to exploit the plant's financial potential are pouring in, but for a nation ravaged by cartels the most significant facet of prohibition's end is otherwise.

"The first thing that will happen is that no Mexican will die or go to jail because of this plant," says entrepreneur Guillermo Nieto. "With that, everyone wins."
Reuters

  • The beginning of pot markets faces resistance from those concerned that regulations for MED and REC will favor big foreign corporations.
  • For now, independent business operators are planning family cannabis operations where the powerful Sinaloa cartel had dominated.

Quick Hits

  1. "Abuelita approved," Dulze gummies are the first Mexican-owned edibles brand and come in Horchata, Chili Watermelon, Margarita and Piña Colada flavors.
    Green Market Report
  2. Gringos, look alive: A fluency far deeper than that demanded by a guide to weed slang is being asked by the new Spanish-language alt-news site from weed-famous journo Javier Hasse.
    Green Entrepreneur

5 IN VENTURA COUNTY, A POLITICAL FLEX

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A Camarillo company that would benefit from sales and consulting on use of new climate-control technology has made 99% of the contributions behind a commercial production campaign in Ventura County.
VC Star

  • The political action committee Ventura County Citizens for Responsible Cannabis Cultivation has raised $1.7M for Measure O, an initiative that would allow up to 500 acres of greenhouse cultivation and 100 acres in nurseries in designated unincorporated areas. The patent company Glass Investments Projects is the heavy contributor.
  • "This is simply a business investment," said CEO Jeanette Lombardo.

Quick Hits

  1. Drug tests aren't looking for CBD, but does that even matter when companies are importing product that test for as much as four times the legal amount?
    Cannabis Now
  2. On this investing podcast episode, Marie Montmarquet, co-founder of MD Numbers, offers her take on social-equity fights and the difference between Northern and Southern California industry cultures.
    Seeking Alpha

6 RO CHOY MUST MASTER THE PIVOT IN EAZE: ACT TWO

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Late in 2019, Eaze was about to lay off 20% of its workforce and looked like the latest tech company that grew to0 fast. But then came a $40M investment round, a strategic turn toward vertical retail, and what this year's CEO Rogelio "Ro" Choy calls the company's "second act."
MG Retailer

  • Having gained kudos for its branding brio, Eaze will focus on private-label brands and controlling all the company’s operations as it transitions from tech company to plant-touching enterprise.
  • A Florida native with a Stanford MBA, Choy summed up the company's 2019 struggles to capital markets changing the consideration for what was considered successful. "It no longer had to do with scale, and it had everything to do with profitability.”

Quick Hit

  1. At Tuesday's debate, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said weed would be decriminalized under a Biden-Harris administration and stocks leapt
    Reuters

7 CANNA POLITICS IN THE AGE OF PANDEMONIUM

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GETTY IMAGES

Times are so trying in cannabis right now one dare not call them "hair-on-fire" moments, lest offense be caused. So why did everyone, consumer and producer alike, get so excited about those bills Gov. Newsom signed last week?

Not a game-changer in the lot.
East Bay Express

  • COVID-19 meant that almost nothing unrelated to homelessness, wildfires and pandemic was progressing in Sacramento. Conventional thought is to be glad the industry didn't earn a legislative goose egg.
  • That leaves the 2021 California legislative agenda, which will almost definitely feature tax relief. Other swift and meaningful adjustments remain dependent on change in D.C.

Quick Hits

  1. This fun graphic, based on a  Vangst survey collected from employers early in the pandemic, may reveal the direction of our year's final hiring season.
    Cannabis Business Times
  2. The National Diversity & Cannabis Inclusion Alliance has teamed with Southern California cultivator Blaqstar Farms to offer fall and winter courses  on cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distribution and compliance.
    NDICA

8 SUSPICIOUS CBD CONSUMER SETTLES WITH BHANG

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COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES

A settlement was announced Oct. 2 in the case of a Southern California man who says Toronto’s Bhang Corporation fraudulently represented the potency of its products' CBD content. Details of the suit were not made public.  
MJ Biz Daily

  • Charles Ballard alleged that over two years he had found Bhang chocolates to contain insufficient CBD. He says he had the products tested, and the amounts present were less than advertised.
  • The week prior to the Oct. 2 motion, a judge ruled that Ballard’s case centered "on alleged violations of California consumer-protection law and not on the FDA’s long-awaited rules on CBD."

Quick Hits

  1. Are illicit Humboldt growers moving to Mendocino because the latter county doesn't enforce its bud laws?
    Willits News
  2. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife just gave half a million dollars to Oregon's effort to decriminalize all drugs. 
    Marijuana Moment

9 PAIR SURVIVE ARDUOUS PASADENA RETAIL LICENSING PROCESS

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Back in June, the six top-scoring retail applicants for a Pasadena license were notified that they remained in the running for two dispensary slots. These were Sweet Flower, Atrium, MedMen, Harvest, Varda and Integral Associates Dena. 

After a litigious process that City Manager Steve Mermell called "challenging," Varda and Integral Associates Dena have earned dispensary license approvals.
Pasadena Now

  • A total of 128 applications were received. Both of the approved would operate on East Colorado Boulevard.
  • Various operators have filed lawsuits against Pasadena. 

Quick Hit

  1. Monterey has tapped $1M in funding made available by Prop. 64's passage to ramp up its cannabis education programming.
    Monterey Herald

10 THE ONE ABOUT THE REGGAE STAR WHO LIKED POT

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"Weed & Ting," from the August album release In Search of Lost Time, reveals that Mary Jane doesn't merely relax reggae star Protoje. It makes him dance in a sultry fashion. 

In this Celeb Stoner interview, the Wiz Khalifa associate manages to be both a reggae artist and a Wiz Khalifa associate without being completely pedantic about pot. Neat trick.

  • Born Oje Ken Ollivierre, Protoje isn't likely to be the next performer to get on the cannabis entrepreneur bandwagon. "Sometimes it doesn't feel right because people are still going to jail in Jamaica for it and getting their farms seized while legal dispensaries are being operated," he says.

Quick Hit

  1. Listen to Carlos Santana talk about growing up with cannabis poltices in Tijuana, his new cannabis brand, and why he'll always be a hippie.  
    Leafly's The Roll-Up