Customers shop inside the 420 Central dispensary in Santa Ana on the first day to buy recreational marijuana in California on Jan. 1, 2018. Corona officials are considering allowing a maximum of 17 dispensaries, or stores, in the Riverside County city — one for every 10,000 residents. (File photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Nearly two years after banning industrial, medical and retail marijuana cannabis operations within Pico Rivera, City Council members have put the legalization of such businesses back on the table.
The reason is money.
“There’s potential revenue of $700,000 a year for the city,” Councilman Andrew Lara said during a study session at the Aug. 31 council meeting. “That would put that industry into the top third of tax revenue producers. It’s hard not to think of that tax revenue.”
In addition, back when Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in California, was on the ballot in 2016, Pico Rivera voters approved it by a 53%-47% margin, Lara said.
Jackie McGowan, a long-time supporter of cannabis reform, is running as a replacement candidate if current California Governor Gavin Newsom is recalled.
California Governor Gavin Newsom faces off September 14 in a pivotal recall race as the state’s future hangs in the balance. Forty-six contenders appear on the ballot including Democratic challenger Jackie McGowan—who vows to make reforming California’s cannabis industry a priority including lowering taxes and restrictions.
McGowan is running against contenders such as conservative radio host Larry Elder and Republican Caitlyn Jenner. Living in Napa, she sees what she calls an “existential crisis” in the cannabis industry, announcing her bid last July. Voters have until today, September 7 to mail-in a request for a ballot, or until September 14 in-person.
On day one, if elected, McGowan said she will sign a trio of executive orders: eliminating the cannabis cultivation tax, reducing the cannabis excise tax to 10 percent and declaring cannabis an agricultural product.
“Those three issues are paramount to offering the cannabis industry immediate relief so they can survive and begin to compete with the thriving illicit marketplace,” McGowan told High Times. “The legal market is hanging on by their fingernails and is absolutely in crisis and once I am elected, I can begin to offer them hope again.”
McGowan told the Sacramento Bee that in the beginning, she decided to run for governor because of California’s mismanagement of the cannabis industry, and since then she has since expanded her platform. High tax rates only embolden the black market, advocates say.
Medical marijuana retail licenses will be a hot commodity in Sioux Falls.
The Sioux Falls City Council Tuesday night signed off on a proposal coming from Mayor Paul TenHaken's office that will cap the number of retail stores that can operate in the city at five. And though councilors halved the $100,000 license fee that City Hall wanted, another late change allowing the sale of the licenses on the secondary market is expected to drive the value of a license up even hirer.
"The Sioux Falls City Council, by making a license worth $50,000 and transferrable, has just made dispensary licenses into liquor licenses," said Drew Duncan, a Sioux Falls attorney and lobbyist for clients in South Dakota's gambling and alcohol industry, via social media following the 7-1 vote.
TenHaken and supporters of his provision barring the transfer of dispensary licenses worry that allowing them to be sold on the secondary market will give them an artificial value, just like has happened with liquor licenses. But Councilor Janet Brekke and the rest of the Council decided without allowing a license to be owned outright, the city's medical marijuana rules would unduly restrict a cannabis retailer's ability to grow their business.
TenHaken's proposal underwent a series of other changes before earning final passage as well.
Since unveiling the proposal in August, the first-term mayor has taken criticism both publicly and behind the scenes for pushing for what pro-business and pro-cannabis advocates have characterized as a "de facto ban" on medical marijuana due to high cost of a license and zoning rules that make the majority of the city and its commercial districts off limits to marijuana retail.
A federal judge has blocked a Northern California county’s ban on trucks delivering water to Hmong cannabis farmers, saying it raises “serious questions” about racial discrimination and leaves the growers without a source of water for basic sanitation, vegetable gardens and livestock.
On Friday, Chief U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller issued a temporary injunction against Siskiyou County’s prohibition on trucked-in water deliveries to Hmong farmers growing marijuana in the Mount Shasta Vista subdivision in the Big Springs area north of Weed.
“Without an injunction, the plaintiffs and other members of the Shasta Vista Hmong community will likely go without water for their basic needs and will likely lose more plants and livestock,” she wrote. “Fires may burn more homes. People may be forced to leave their homes and land behind without compensation.
Over the last five years, hundreds of Hmong farmers have bought cheap land in the subdivision and erected hundreds of marijuana greenhouses on the lava-rock covered hillsides in violation of the county’s ban on commercial cannabis cultivation.
Authorities estimate there are 5,000 to 6,000 greenhouses growing pot in the Big Springs area, with as many as 4,000 to 8,000 people tending them, most of them Hmong and immigrants of Chinese descent.
Sonora, CA — A Mexican National convicted of operating an illegal marijuana grow in the Stanislaus National Forest will spend the next four and a half years in prison.
37-year-old Eleno Fernandez-Garcia of Michoacán, Mexico, was also ordered to pay $45,688 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service for the environmental damage that the toxic chemicals and cultivation operation had on public land, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.
In May Fernandez-Garcia pled guilty to conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute marijuana on the Stanislaus National Forest. The cultivation operation contained 9,654 marijuana plants and was located in the Basin Creek drainage in the forest in Tuolumne County. As reported here, Fernandez was found at the grow site holding pruning shears and was covered with marijuana debris. Three other individuals fled from the area.
Talbert detailed the significant damage to the environment including grazing cows, wildlife, endangered fish, and frogs. Additionally, investigative agents found the pesticide Weevelcide, a lethal restricted-use chemical; two types of rodenticides; 837 pounds of soluble fertilizer; 45.65 gallons of liquid fertilizer; and a dead raccoon. Also, besides chemicals and fertilizer, there was over 2,000 pounds of trash and irrigation tubing. Talbert also noted that nearly all of the native vegetation was cut down to make room for the marijuana plants, which were close to recreational activities, and Sugar Pine Springs, a natural spring used by two companies for bottled water.
Participating agencies involved in this investigation included the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) of the California Department of Justice, and the California Fish and Wildlife.
Last Monday, a panel of state officials approved ballot language for recreational cannabis legalization in the state of Ohio, clearing the way for backers to begin collecting signatures for the initiative. According to reports, the ballot language for this initiative is similar to a bill introduced by state Reps. Casey Weinstein and Terrence Upchurch to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.
I have written previously about the most obvious impact of cannabis legalization in Ohio: hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue. But tax revenue isn’t the only likely impact of recreational cannabis legalization.
First, many hope that legalization of recreational cannabis will reduce the size of Ohio’s black market in cannabis sales. While other states have not seen a precipitous decline in black market activity and may have even seen increases in black market cannabis sales, Colorado did see a large decrease in cannabis-related crime after legalization of recreational use and sales.
If Ohio’s marijuana-related arrest rate falls as much as Colorado’s does in the time period after recreational legalization, Ohio could be making 18,000 less marijuana-related crimes per year after legalization.
An exception to this rule was arrests for driving under the influence, which actually increased after legalization. The positive news, though, is that cannabis-related traffic fatalities were flat over this time period, suggesting that it may have been an increase in training to detect cannabis influence that drove this change, not an increase in actual frequency of driving under the influence of cannabis.
YONCALLA, Ore. — A large-scale criminal marijuana grow operating under the guise of a legal hemp operation has been shut down by law enforcement in Douglas County, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
According to a release from the DCSO, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team (DINT) executed a search warrant in the 1000-block of Scotts Valley Road Wednesday, September 1, 2021. The warrant stemmed from an investigation into a large-scale black-market marijuana grow operation.
Law enforcement became aware of the operation on tips from concerned citizens.
When law enforcement arrived approximately 30-50 workers began fleeing the location on foot. An individual identified as “the manager” of the operation, 44-year-old Jose Francisco Figueroa-Aguilar of Modesto, California, was ultimately arrested and lodged at the Douglas County Jail on charges of Unlawful Possession and Unlawful Manufacture of Marijuana.
Deputies located multiple vehicles, tents, and two RVs concealed under greenhouses and in the timber. The property was also found to be littered with garbage, fertilizer, containers, and human waste; all of which were adjacent to Elk Creek.
The rollout of New York’s new cannabis policies has new life after the state legislature confirmed appointments to oversee the regulatory process last week, but the state is still months away from issuing licenses to retailers, growers and processors.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, or MRTA, passed in April. However, much of the rollout has been delayed because Governor Andrew Cuomo did not nominate officials to the newly created Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board.
“These are people that wrote the bill. They should’ve had these people in mind when they wrote those statutes,” said Troy Smit, Deputy Director of Empire State NORML.
Governor Kathy Hochul appointed two people to fill the top posts for cannabis regulation. Acting in a special summer session, the state senate quickly confirmed Christopher Alexander to be Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management. The move pleased many cannabis proponents, including those from the more progressive activist center given Alexander’s former work for the Drug Policy Alliance.
“He is the right person to live out the vision of the MRTA and make sure we have the social and economic equity in the New York State cannabis industry,” said Allan Gandelman, President of the New York Cannabis Processors and Growers Association.
Texas, one of the most conservative states in the U.S. seems to be moving one step forward and two steps back when it comes to civil liberties; in this case, marijuana and abortion.
On the one hand, the state is loosening its policies regarding cannabis, starting with changes to state law allowing more eligible patients to request a prescription for medical cannabis.
In addition, a Texas court declared unconstitutional a law prohibiting the smoking of hemp.( As originally seen on Benzinga by Franca Quarneti)
Despite these more progressive policies, a law banning abortion after six weeks went into effect statewide on Wednesday.
Social justice advocates in New Jersey are flocking together to hold a special, free expungement clinic at Doubletree by Hilton Penn Station Hotel in Newark.
The clinic will be held on Tuesday, September 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. Those who attend will get free support on how to expunge low-level cannabis convictions now that cannabis is legal in the state.
The event will be hosted by 420NJEvents, a Black-owned cannabis lifestyle brand, and sponsored by Brach Eichler LLC, Columbia Care, REEForm New Jersey, Apothecarium, and Minority Cannabis Academy. Those who have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs will now have a chance to seek justice. Pro-bono attorneys from Brach Eichler law firm will be onsite to help and answer questions.
New Jersey Steps Up
“We’re focused on educating minorities around cannabis as an avenue to create generational wealth, and break into an emerging industry ripe with opportunity and alternative medicine,” they explained via a press release. “We promise to remain true to the culture, true to ourselves and provide you with all the up-to-date information that’ll help you navigate the cannabis industry!”
One of the pro-bono attorneys who will be offering his services at the event explained in a press release why this event is valuable to communities of color in New Jersey. “Marijuana laws have often disproportionately impacted communities of color. As New Jersey looks to establish its recreational marijuana market, there must be a focus on righting the societal wrongs that the prohibition of cannabis has created. We need more individuals, particularly Black and brown people, to understand the law and their rights, what it means, and how it can help them,” said Charles X. Gormally, Co-Chair of the Cannabis Law Practice at Brach Eichler LLC.
Righting the wrongs of the War on Drugs is in full gear in Arizona. According to an August 30 press release, the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County granted 3,643 petitions for expungement of cannabis-related charges since the process started last month.
The court announced that following the passage of Proposition 207 in 2020, an average of 650 people per week are filing petitions with the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County to have felony cannabis-related convictions wiped off their records.
Before filing a petition for expungement, people should check with their respective court. In the event that the conviction was adjudicated in a justice or city court, that court should be contacted for more information. If the case was resolved in the Juvenile Department of Superior Court, there is a separate juvenile petition to expunge. Anybody who has been arrested but not charged will need to file a civil petition to expunge the record.
A fee is not charged for the petition to expunge the conviction.
An effort to legalize marijuana use and sales in Ohio has cleared another hurdle on the path to getting the proposal submitted to the Legislature.
The Ohio Ballot Board, a panel of legislative appointees led by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, voted Monday to approve the proposed statute from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol as a single issue.
The decision means the group can start gathering the nearly 133,000 valid signatures needed to submit the proposed state law to the Ohio Legislature, which will have four months to act. If it does not, the measure would be placed on the Ohio ballot.
The coalition wants to make it legal for adults 21 and older to buy and possess 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana and grow as many as six plants inside their homes.
If the proposal becomes law, medical marijuana dispensaries, processors and cultivators could seek licenses for recreational marijuana and have exclusive rights for two years.
One of Governor Hochul’s priorities for the executive session is to discuss nominees for the state's cannabis program.
The governor said this is a long overdue decision, and she would appoint nominees for the executive director and chair person, and they needed to be confirmed by the legislature.
“We lost five and a half months because there was not a decision to name an executive director or chair person, to get this going and get regulations in place.” Governor Hochul said.
Meanwhile, the City of Rensselaer leaders already have their eyes on a potential site for a growth facility. But they need more answers from the state first.
“I think it's good, if you're gonna do something that's positive, lets do it, lets get it out there - they've studied it long enough!” Rensselaer Mayor Michael Stammel said.
After a public hearing in July, the Watertown City Council voted to prohibit retail marijuana sales. However, councilman Leonard Spaziani said it’s not necessarily because they don’t want pot in their city, it’s because they want the people to decide.
“I'm going to vote no just so they can get their petition and put it on the ballot,” he said. “That's the American way.”
The same thing happened in the town of Geddes and in Camillus–where Town Supervisor Mary Anne Coogan said the town board opted out so the people can choose if they want to opt in.
“They're the ones that live here,” said Coogan. “They're the ones that have a voice.”
The idea behind opting out of retail marijuana sales and on-site consumption is it gives residents the opportunity to force the decision to a public vote.
German customs officers announced Tuesday they found a record 2.3 million cannabis seeds during cargo checks at Cologne/Bonn airport.
Airport workers discovered the seeds in four containers of 50 kilograms each on May 30, 2021. They were headed to Lithuania from the US, where cannabis is legal in various states.
The discovery could only be revealed on Tuesday because of ongoing investigations and operations after the seizure, Cologne's customs offices said.
The contraband cargo touched down at Cologne/Bonn airport in transit, en route from the US to Lithauania
During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Snoop Dogg said that sports leagues should stop testing players for marijuana use. The rapper, actor and cannabis activist said they should instead allow athletes to use cannabis for therapeutic purposes, as an alternative to opioids and other drugs. (PHOTO BY EMMA MCINTYRE/GETTY IMAGES)
The issue of cannabis use among athletes has been heavily discussed over the past few months, stemming from Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for cannabis use. Richardson, who had qualified for the events and was an exciting prospect for Team USA, had to drop out of the competition.
Snoop Dogg then suggested sports leagues should relax their cannabis policies, especially since athletes could develop opioid problems. “These athletes take these pills and they get addicted to these pills, and it still doesn’t give them the relief that they need as far as with the pain or whatever they’re going through,” Snoop Dogg argued.
“Through the CBD, through the THC, through the marijuana, through the cannabis, they’re able to find a relaxation and getting the medical treatment that they deserve — without having those later side effects — so I push for that in sports,” he added.
Cannabis use in sports has long attracted plenty of debate, especially in recent years as the drug has been legalized in more states across the U.S.
At its two bi-monthly meetings in August, the Hopewell Township Committee discussed COVID cases, food truck licenses, and the next phase of the cannabis ordinance.
As the COVID Delta variant continues to prolong the pandemic, Township Health Officer Dawn Marling explained at the August 2 meeting that Hopewell has seen a spike within its own residents. “We were doing about four cases a week during July, and I had five cases this past weekend, so that was a big uptick there. We are seeing cases among vaccinated residents, but again, given that a large number of our residents are vaccinated, that’s not unexpected,” Marling said.
Mayor Julie Blake explained that, even if residents are fully vaccinated, they are encouraged to continue to wear their masks to help stop the spread of the Delta variant. “I do want to remind them to use their best practices. Even I am having a hard time remembering to take a mask into public spaces. As you know, fully vaccinated or not, it’s really important. The CDC has been saying that we [may be] carriers of the virus even despite our vaccination status,” Blake said.
In a previous meeting, the Committee had discussed going back to in-person meetings in September. However, Marling advised that the pandemic is ever-evolving and could change within a month. “I think a lot can change by mid-September. Hopewell Valley isn’t considered one of the high transmission areas at the moment, but to have a crystal ball and say by the middle of September, it would be a wise decision to have a bunch of residents together in a meeting room, that could very well be something we need to pull back from,” she said.
On August 2, the Committee also discussed allowing licensed food trucks to operate within the Township without requiring a permit each time they “set-up shop.” The Committee considered, instead, a streamlined permitting process that would allow a food truck to come into the Township to different venues throughout the year under one annual license. Scott Miccio, an attorney for the Committee, presented the Robbinsville ordinance for the Committee to examine. “I turned to the Robbinsville ordinance [because] they had the scope, and the purpose of their ordinance, [which] I think is similar to what we might be trying to accomplish here in Hopewell,” Miccio said.
The decision to take an early-morning drive with cannabis debris clearly visible inside his vehicle turned out to be a bad one for a 20-year-old California man with a weed-sounding moniker.This past Saturday proved anything but relaxing for Kody Idica — just one letter shy of Indica, a cannabis variety long associated with sedating effects — when police stopped his vehicle at about 3:30 a.m. in Redwood Valley, Calif.
That find prompted a search of the vehicle, where the officer “found other evidence associated with the transportation and sale of illicit drugs.”
Recreational cannabis is legal in California, with adults 21 and older able to buy, possess and consume up to 28.5 grams of weed in their private residence or an establishment that has been licensed for consumption, FindLaw reports. The drug can not be consumed, whatever the method used, when a vehicle is in motion, adds Chambers Law Firm.
Under the Controlled Substance Act, first offenders for possessing cocaine could face imprisonment for as long as a year and a fine ranging from US$1,000 ($1,260) and US$100,000 ($126,000). Penalties increase with second or third convictions, according to McElfresh Law Inc.
Under the Controlled Substance Act, first offenders for possessing cocaine could face imprisonment for as long as a year and a fine ranging from US$1,000 ($1,260) and US$100,000 ($126,000)
When Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, it didn't have a playbook.
While the state worked out the early rules regarding sales and taxation, it didn't initially consider how years of marijuana criminalization had impacted historically marginalized communities, and whether those communities should get special access to opportunities in the cannabis industry. (As originally posted on Westword by HILAL BAHCETEPE)
But in the years that followed, other states that legalized recreational marijuana did consider those issues and built social equity provisions into their programs.
Colorado is now playing social equity catch-up. On October 1, Governor Jared Polis pardoned 2,732 past marijuana possession convictions. When he signed Senate Bill 111 earlier this year, he approved $4 million going to support social-equity marijuana entrepreneurs. And on April 20 — that unofficial stoner holiday – Mayor Michael Hancock signed into law Denver’s social equity program, which began accepting applications for licenses in June.
But has the state gone far enough? That was the focus of a discussion hosted by the Black Cannabis Equity Initiative (BCEI) on August 27, which involved dozens of industry experts, organizations, government officials and current social equity applicants.
Cannabis legalization efforts in Congress have been a series of hits and misses during the Joe Biden administration, even as Congress juggles more cannabis-related bills than ever before. There are currently 35 cannabis-related bills in Congress—26 in the House, nine in the Senate.
The foot-dragging on cannabis legalization wasn’t the plan when Biden got elected. Many industry stakeholders expected a slam dunk on legalization when he took office.
Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way... yet.
The Biden Hope
When the Biden administration took over in January 2021, there was the expectation that legalization efforts in Congress would accelerate. After all, Harris admitted to smoking cannabis during a radio interview in February 2019 (“It gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy in the world.”).
An article in Forbes magazine in August 2020 written by the president of an investment and operations firm in the legal cannabis industry, Kris Krane, appeared to double-down on Harris’s influence: “If elected Vice President, she is arguably reformers’ best hope of moving Joe Biden and the Democratic Party towards a position of full support for cannabis legalization.”