Cavedale Road is bumpy – steep, narrow, its asphalt broken like a jiggled jigsaw. Perhaps this is as it should be, given that it is the road to the top of the world.

“Welcome to the Top of the World,” says Doug Gardner, the owner of the property high in the Mayacamas just yards away from the Napa County line. There’s a five-bedroom cabin next door called Top of the World, though Gardner’s family sold that part of the property in 1981. But no one wants to live there full time – the road is too bumpy.

Gardner, a sturdy 38-year-old, works by himself inside the fenced cultivation site, which has an acre’s worth of planted cannabis in both fabric “Geopot” barrels and in-ground beds. About a third of this crop is just days away from harvest, and the air is redolent with a fresh tart smell. Gardner’s name is apt – but, as it turns out, this is his first crop. Even so it’s a bumper one, thanks in part to the abundant water supply that the ranch is blessed with.

Hooker Creek bubbles out of a mountain slope just on the other side his driveway, and trickles year-round to a pond on the property. That pond provides the entire water supply for the acre of plants. Gardner has installed a pump at the pond to bring the water back uphill to the cultivation site, and a system of pipes and drip irrigation hoses distribute the water.

Gardner has suffered from epilepsy his whole life, but at some point he found that cannabis – especially CBD-rich cannabis – was of invaluable help in managing the disorder. He labored through the process of getting a permit from Sonoma County starting four years ago, insisting that he was going to grow “medicinal cannabis.”

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One thing most people agree on: Federal marijuana legalization is coming.

It’s just a matter of when -- and how it will impact existing state markets, such as the one currently growing in Michigan.
With the inconsistent patchwork of state laws across the nation regarding medical and recreational marijuana, the implications of federal legalization, accompanied by new taxes, is creating some anxiety.
“Opening up interstate commerce would destroy Michigan’s cannabis industry and leave us with nothing but multi-state operators to purchase from,” said Rick Thompson, a Michigan cannabis pioneer and director of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Thompson said everyone he knows “stands in opposition to at least some of the” current version of the proposed federal legalization plan.
 
Some of the worry centers on marijuana surpluses in Canada and other states, like Oregon, where producers would benefit greatly from the ability to dump cheap product into the Michigan market, undercutting existing businesses along the way.
The topic of federal legalization was the focus of a panel discussion at the National Cannabis Industry Association Midwest conference at the TCF Center in Detroit on Wednesday. The National Cannabis Industry Association is a trade organization and lobbying group that is weighing in on efforts to end federal prohibition of marijuana.
In a draft of federal legalization legislation released in July by Democratic U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York; Corey Booker of New Jersey; and Ron Wyden of Oregon, entitled the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, there is a proposed 25% federal excise tax for marijuana in the fourth year after legalization. That’s on top of existing state taxes, currently at 16% for recreational marijuana in Michigan.
National Cannabis Industry Association Midwest deputy director of government relations Michelle Rutter Friberg, said that’s too much.
 
“This is on top of really onerous state and local taxes,” she said, adding that it’s unlikely those will be reduced in the wake of a new federal tax.
“The conversations that we’re having about that are: What are they trying to get out of this tax provision?,” Friberg said. “Are we just a cash cow? Are we to make up for a budget shortfall, or what are the goals that they have? Because we keep going back them and saying, ‘You cannot tax this high’; this is not going to have the intended outcome that you were trying to achieve.”
While Friberg said some businesses might view federal legalization as “the boogeyman that’s out there,” she’s never had an NCIA member company tell her they’re entirely against federal legalization.
One stated goal of federal legalization is to combat the black market, but new taxes could encourage the illicit market.
If significant new federal taxes are imposed, “the black market will have a party like you have never seen before,” Thompson said. “It was nearly impossible to eliminate illegal cannabis sales when there was no tax; it is impossible to eliminate unlicensed sales with a 10% tax rate; and if the tax climbs to 35% or higher, the regulated market will shrink rapidly as people return to their unlicensed cannabis sources forever.”
 
Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said another intent of the legislation he helped draft is to ensure big tobacco and liquor companies don’t “swoop in and take over,” but some feel that’s going to be difficult to avoid once federal legalization arrives.
“Definitely the bigger conglomerates do have the upper hand with legalization,” said Jack Owens, operations manager for Thumb Genetics, a 2,000-plant aquaponics grow facility in Lansing.
His family-owned company, which he runs with the help of his mother and father, is already competing with a growing number deep-pocketed, in-state corporate rivals able to harvest tens of thousands of plants at a time.
“You’ve got to hit a medium ground where the big conglomerates and the smaller companies work together; otherwise, it’s just going to be monopolized,” Owens said. “Once it happens, certain dispensaries and everybody can go over state lines -- and they still have a lot of gray areas to figure out -- but how quickly is that going to happen and what big companies are going to pretty much take over?
“Once that happens, you better be ready to partner up, or hopefully have enough quality product and enough clients that will support you to make it through.”
 
Michigan’s medical marijuana caregivers, who are allowed to grow up to 72 plants for five registered patients and themselves, are currently in the crosshairs of large businesses and lobbyists who want to see their ability to grow severely limited and increasingly regulated.
Michael Toles of Intentional Enterprises, a fledgling marijuana grow company that plans to open in Detroit where recreational marijuana licenses are currently on hold, supports nationwide legalization, but believes it will eventually lead to the end of loosely regulated, untested home recreational and caregiver grows.
 
“You think that’s going to last?” he asked? “It’s not tested and it’s not taxed.”
Thompson, of NORML, a supporter of Michigan’s current laws that allow caregiver and personal home grows, didn’t weigh in on whether he thinks they’ll go away, but anticipated what will happen if they do.
“Caregivers will fail to renew their registration, if federal laws are adopted, but they will not fail to continue to grow,” he said. “Eventually, government will have to realize that cannabis users will merely ignore laws that make no sense, disadvantage them or are created for the advantage of corporations, not citizens.”
 
The current draft of the federal legalization bill, which calls for an excise tax that increases to 25% after four years, not including state taxes, is unlikely to pass in it’s current form, according to Friberg.
“Do I think that this bill will come up this session? Honestly, yes, because it’s the leader’s bill,” she said. “Do I think this bill is going to pass this session? ... No, not right now -- but, you know, anything can change.”
A bright spot for marijuana at the federal level is related to cannabis banking reform, which is included with the likely-to-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2022. The addendum would protect banks from federal penalties if they work with cannabis companies. Currently, because marijuana is illegal federally, many large financial institutions are not offering services to the industry.
 
Toles believes the positive tradeoffs for businesses in a federally legalized environment outweighs any negative aspects.
“Because (of federal legalization), we’ll be able to expand to other markets,” Toles said. “We learn how to do it well so we can duplicate processes everywhere within the country.
“Obviously from a financial perspective, the larger, bigger Phillip Morris of the world ... is going to be part of it, but we’ll see.”
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When California legalized cannabis for adult use in 2016, many supporters acknowledged that the War on Drugs had disproportionately impacted communities of color around the state. It was, in fact, one of the selling points of Proposition 64, which went into effect more than a year later. 

On the belief that the ballot initiative didn’t go far enough, though, social equity programs started springing up across the state in recent years to give special privileges to Black, Brown and low-income people who had been arrested and thrown in jail for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses and thereby barred from taking part in the new industry. 

One survey, conducted in 2017 by Marijuana Business Daily, found that about 80 percent of the founders and owners of cannabis businesses at the time were White. 

Neither the city nor the county of San Diego has a social equity program on the books and officials for both say they’re working to create one. By their own admission, they’re late to the game. 

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering that other municipalities in California have tried and failed to correct the injustices they previously identified. In some places, social equity programs have been portrayed as harmful to the same people they were supposed to help. 

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The second of three teens charged in an apparent robbery attempt that turned deadly last winter in Middletown has admitted guilt.

Timathy Rhodus and Elliot Shepherd II, both 17 at the time of the crime, were each indicted in April for murder with gun specifications and other felonies for the Jan. 31 incident where a woman was killed at a Wilbraham Road residence. They are being tried as adults.
On Tuesday, Rhodus pleaded guilty to murder with a one-year gun specification in Butler County Common Pleas Court. The other charges, including felonious assault, were dismissed, according to court records.
 

Judge Dan Haughey set sentencing for Oct. 26. Rhodus faces a maximum of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 16 years.

In May, Shepherd pleaded guilty in Butler County Common Pleas Court to involuntary manslaughter with gun specification. He faces a maximum of 12 years in prison. Sentencing will not happen until after the co-defendants’ cases are completed, according to prosecutors.

A trial for the third adult suspect, Karlos Chase Philpot,18, is scheduled to begin Oct. 18. Philpot was indicted in February for murder, two counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of felonious assault and improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation.

Angela Combs, 41, was shot about 9 p.m. in an apartment in the 3100 block of Wilbraham Road by suspects who came to the door armed and apparently looking for payment of a debt, according to court documents. Combs was transported to Atrium Medical Center, where she died.

According to court documents, one of the 17-year-olds said he went to the residence armed with two other people to “get $60 that was owed to him for marijuana.”

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Two area businesswomen want to open a cannabis growing, manufacturing and retail distribution facility in a building that once housed a Roseland charter school, but some area residents say they object to that kind of business in their neighborhood. Old School Cannabis, which has applied for permission to operate at the site, will be considered by the Santa Rosa Planning Commission during a scheduled meeting Thursday afternoon.

The business’ owners say it could create as many as 50 jobs during peak production periods. Local residents would receive first consideration for any open positions and the business, itself, would attract a significant cross-section of patrons to the area.
 

“We want to ... uplift the community and build jobs and uplift the culture,” co-owner and operator Nayeli Rivera said.

Rivera said she is a first-generation immigrant whose parents moved to Sonoma County in the 1970s. She added that she grew up in Petaluma and now lives in Sebastopol.

“Being Mexican-American and being a business owner in the (Roseland) community, I think, is just a wonderful opportunity and I feel very excited and very humbled,” she said. “There’s not many Latinos in cannabis and especially not women.”

Her partner, Cede Hunter, is also from Northern California. Hunter’s father, Dennis, was a cannabis industry leader in Santa Rosa, according to a biography in the company’s permit application.

Located at 100 Sebastopol Road, the former school building is bordered by industrial facilities to its north and south. Residential neighborhoods are on its other two sides.

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The Las Cruces city council voted to pay the state back $400,000 that was going to go to a new hemp manufacturing company.

The city planned to invest $150,000 of its own funding in addition to $400,000 that the New Mexico Economic Development Department gave the city for 420 Valley, LLC.

The city's decision to retract the money was due to the fact that 420 valley was unable to meet its hiring goals.

"They we’re going to provide up to 55 jobs at a certain income level by 2023, December 31st," said Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima. "And then there was also another stipulation that they would have at least 18 jobs by December 31st of 2020 and we don’t believe that they’re going to fulfill that.”

“We started reaching out to people for the hiring process, getting it lined up, but we didn’t have anybody that was fully committed to come work for us," said Rick Morales the co-owner of 420 Valley.

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At a public meeting on Saturday, Princeton Cannabis Task Force Chair and Councilmember Eve Niedergang GS ’85 said the “consensus” reached by the 24-member task force is “overwhelmingly that the benefits of having a dispensary in town outweighed the bad points.”

The meeting, held in Hinds Plaza, drew around 25 residents. Several members of the Cannabis Task Force — a group that includes council members, non-profit leaders, and business and citizen representatives — listened and tried to address locals’ objections to the prospect of allowing marijuana dispensaries to operate in the town.

Many of the objections raised were centered on the health effects of cannabis use and the potential impact on children.

“There is cannabis in Princeton, and there will be both legal and illegal cannabis in Princeton, so that’s not the issue before the task force,” said Niedergang, who has chaired the task force since its founding in March, after New Jersey voted to legalize cannabis in a November 2020 referendum.

In Princeton, 78 percent of residents voted for legalization, according to Niedergang. In August, Princeton “opted out” of the New Jersey blanket regulations on marijuana after a state-imposed six-month window to decide on regulations, temporarily banning marijuana businesses.

Not opting out would have allowed any segment of the cannabis industry — cultivation, manufacturing, wholesaling, distribution, retail, and delivery — to operate in the town. Niedergang explained that the temporary ban was enacted to give the task force time to proceed slowly and deliberately on the issue and provide sufficient opportunity for public input.

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Michigan’s hemp industry could get up to $100 million in federal funds to help it compete globally under a proposal pushed by a nationwide growers association.

The state is one of four with emerging hemp industries targeted by the National Hemp Association, along with Oregon, New York and Florida. The funding would be for developing a “regional super site” in each state to aid in the industry’s growth, said Geoff Whaling, the association’s chair.

Hemp is a cannabis plant with a very low percentage of THC, the psychoactive element of marijuana. Developing the industry could benefit Michigan environmentally and economically, Whaling said. The plant has many uses, but the state’s auto industry is what makes it a target for development.

“The biggest potential use for hemp today, outside of food, is the automotive industry,” Whaling said. “That’s why we’ve called for $100 million of that money to be allocated specifically to Michigan.”

For example BMW is planning to reduce its carbon footprint by using hemp bioplastics, a renewable resource, in production, Whaling said. The growth of electric vehicles means more opportunities because hemp rope is lightweight and can hold an electric charge like copper.

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Sometimes this job feels more like political analysis than stock market prognosticating. The reason? Marijuana stocks are intrinsically tied to politics. After all, until prohibitions against cannabis are lifted the world over, pot stocks won’t reach their full potential.

Which brings us to a tantalizing new prospect.

I’ve been writing about marijuana stocks for years now, and I’ve cooked up a number of ways federal U.S. marijuana legalization could get it done. From Congressional maneuvers, to presidential executive orders, to ballot initiatives, to Supreme Court interdictions, it’s safe to say that I’ve thought a lot about how U.S. pot legalization could happen—and happen fast.

After all, many of the pot stocks I routinely write about would skyrocket in value in the event of marijuana legalization in the U.S.

Which brings me to what I want to focus on now: the flagging Democratic Party approval ratings.

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After the FBI seized Joseph Ruiz’s life savings during a raid on a safe deposit box business in Beverly Hills, the unemployed chef went to court to retrieve his $57,000. A judge ordered the government to tell Ruiz why it was trying to confiscate the money.It came from drug trafficking, an FBI agent responded in court papers. Ruiz’s income was too low for him to have that much money, and his side business selling bongs made from liquor bottles suggested he was an unlicensed pot dealer, the agent wrote.

The FBI also said a dog had smelled unspecified drugs on Ruiz’s cash.The FBI was wrong. When Ruiz produced records showing the source of his money was legitimate, the government dropped its false accusation and returned his money.

Ruiz is one of roughly 800 people whose money and valuables the FBI seized from safe deposit boxes they rented at the U.S. Private Vaults store in a strip mall on Olympic Boulevard.Federal agents had suspected for years that criminals were stashing loot there, and they assert that’s exactly what they found. The government is trying to confiscate $86 million in cash and a stockpile of jewelry, rare coins and precious metals taken from about half of the boxes.But six months after the raid, the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles have produced no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the vast majority of box holders whose belongings the government is trying to keep.

About 300 of the box holders are contesting the attempted confiscation. Ruiz and 65 others have filed court claims saying the dragnet forfeiture operation is unconstitutional.“It was a complete violation of my privacy,” Ruiz said. “They tried to discredit my character.”

Prosecutors, so far, have outlined past criminal convictions or pending charges against 11 box holders to justify the forfeitures. But in several other cases, court records show, the government’s rationale for claiming that the money and property it seized was tied to crime is no stronger than it was against Ruiz. Federal agents say the use of rubber bands and other ordinary methods of storing cash were indications of drug trafficking or money laundering.

They also cite dogs’ alerting to the scent of narcotics on most of the cash as key evidence. But the government says it deposited all of the money it seized in a bank, making it impossible to test which drugs may have come into contact with which bills and how long ago.

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Jack Dwyer pursued a dream of getting back to the land by moving in 1972 to an idyllic, tree-studded parcel in Oregon with a creek running through it. “We were going to grow our own food. We were going to live righteously. We were going to grow organic,” Dwyer said. Over the decades that followed, he and his family did just that. But now, Deer Creek has run dry after several illegal marijuana grows cropped up in the neighborhood last spring, stealing water from both the stream and nearby aquifers and throwing Dwyer’s future in doubt. (Photo By: Shaun Hall/Grants Pass Daily Courier via AP)

From dusty towns to forests in the U.S. West, illegal marijuana growers are taking water in uncontrolled amounts when there often isn’t enough to go around for even licensed users. Conflicts about water have long existed, but illegal marijuana farms — which proliferate despite legalization in many Western states — are adding strain during a severe drought.
In California, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, there are still more illegal cannabis farms than licensed ones, according to the Cannabis Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Because peak water demand for cannabis occurs in the dry season, when streamflow is at its lowest levels, even small diversions can dry streams and harm aquatic plants and animals,” a study from the center said.
Some jurisdictions are fighting back. California’s Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors in May banned trucks carrying 100 gallons or more of water from using roads leading to arid tracts where some 2,000 illegal marijuana grows were purportedly using millions of gallons of water daily.
The illegal grows are “depleting precious groundwater and surface water resources” and jeopardizing agricultural, recreational and residential water use, the county ordinance says.
In Oregon, the number of illegal grows appears to have increased recently as the Pacific Northwest endured its driest spring since 1924.
 
Many are operating under the guise of being hemp farms, legalized nationally under the 2018 Farm Bill, said Mark Pettinger, spokesman for the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission. Under the law, hemp’s maximum THC content — the compound that gives cannabis its high — must be no greater than 0.3%. Fibers of the hemp plant are used in making rope, clothing, paper and other products.
Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel believes there are hundreds of illegal grows in his southern Oregon county alone, many financed by overseas money. He believes the financiers expect to lose a few grows but the sheer number of them means many will last until the marijuana is harvested and sold on the black market outside Oregon.
None of the new sites has been licensed to grow recreational marijuana, Pettinger said. Regulators, confronted in 2019 by a backlog of license applications and a glut of regulated marijuana, stopped processing new applications until January 2022.
The illegal grows have had “catastrophic” consequences for natural water resources, Daniel said. Several creeks have dried up far earlier than normal and the water table — the underground boundary between water-saturated soil and unsaturated soil — is dropping.
“It’s just blatant theft of water,” Daniel said.
Last month, Daniel and his deputies, reinforced by other law enforcement officers, destroyed 72,000 marijuana plants growing in 400 cheaply built greenhouses, known as hoop houses.
The water for those plants came through a makeshift, illicit system of pumps and hoses from the nearby Illinois River, which belongs to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, created by Congress to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values.
Daniel said another illegal grow that had 200,000 plants was drawing water from Deer Creek using pumps and pipes. He called it “one of the most blatant and ugly things I’ve seen.”
 
“They had actually dug holes into the ground so deep that Deer Creek had dried up ... and they were down into the water table,” the sheriff said.
Dwyer has a water right to Deer Creek, near the community of Selma, that allows him to grow crops. The creek can run dry late in the year sometimes, but Dwyer has never seen it this dry, much less this early in the year.
The stream bed is now an avenue of rocks bordered by brush and trees.
Over the decades, Dwyer created an infrastructure of buried water pipe, a dozen spigots and an irrigation system connected to the creek to grow vegetables and to protect his home against wildfires. He uses an old well for household water, but it’s unclear how long that will last.
“I just don’t know what I will do if I don’t have water,” the 75-year-old retired middle school teacher said.
Marijuana has been grown for decades in southern Oregon, but the recent explosion of huge illegal grows has shocked residents.
The Illinois Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, where Dwyer lives, held two town halls about the issue recently. Water theft was the main concern, said Christopher Hall, the conservation district’s community organizer.
“The people of the Illinois Valley are experiencing an existential threat for the first time in local history,” Hall said.
In the high desert of central Oregon, illegal marijuana growers are also tapping the water supply that’s already so stressed that many farmers, including those who produce 60% of the world’s carrot-seed supply, face a water shortage this year.
 
On Sept. 2, Deschutes County authorities raided a 30-acre property in Alfalfa, just east of Bend. It had 49 greenhouses containing almost 10,000 marijuana plants and featured a complex watering system with several 15,000- to 20,000-gallon cisterns. Neighbors told detectives the illegal grow has forced them to drill a new well, Sheriff Shane Nelson said.
The Bend area has experienced a population boom, putting more demands on the water supply. The illegal grows are making things worse.
In La Pine, south of Bend, Rodger Jincks watched a crew drill a new well on his property. The first sign that his existing well was failing came when the pressure dropped as he watered his tiny front lawn. Driller Shane Harris estimated the water table is dropping 6 inches per year.
Sheriff’s deputies last November raided an illegal grow a block away that had 500 marijuana plants.
Jincks’ neighbor, Jim Hooper, worries that his well might fail next. He resents the illegal grows and their uncontrolled used of water.
“With the illegals, there’s no tracking of it,” Hooper said. “They’re just stealing the water from the rest of us, which is causing us to spend thousands of dollars to drill new wells deeper.”
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Utah-based music producer Weldon Angelos was on his way to becoming a rising star in the hip-hop industry.

By the time he was 23, he had already worked with titans of rap such as Snoop Dogg and Nas, as well as former associates of Tupac Shakur. In the process of getting ready to stabilize himself with a lucrative contract with a major recording studio, he was arrested after selling $300 of marijuana to an undercover police informant on three separate occasions in 2002. (Photo Courtesy of Weldon Angelos)

It was believed by the jury at his trial that Angelos was carrying a firearm during the transactions, subjecting him to a different section of the federal code which called for a mandatory sentence for the music maker, who had no prior criminal record, of 55 years. He could have faced more than 105 years behind bars if all the stacking charges had stuck.

The punishment seemed so glaringly unfair and unfitting to the crime that even the judge who sentenced Angelos, Paul Cassell, offered an unprecedented suggestion to him as he completed the trial.

“He actually called on the president for a pardon, as he was sentencing me,” Angelos recalls to ABC4 “He called on [George W.] Bush, the president who appointed him to commute my sentence because he had no choice but to impose it and he certainly did not want to impose a 55-year sentence.”

Thirteen years later, Angelos emerged from prison after a prolonged effort that involved a group of influential American voices from incredibly diverse backgrounds. Believe it or not, folks like Utah Senator Mike Lee, former Senator Orrin Hatch, Cassell, the judge in the case, as well as entertainers like Snoop Dogg and Alicia Keys, all agreed on one thing: Angelos did not deserve to lose more than five decades of his life due to a first-time marijuana offense.

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Many New Yorkers think it is high-time for marijuana sales to start up, but some towns and villages are still grappling with this decision.

Council members in Colonie, a town in the Capital Region, have voted to ban marijuana consumption sites within their district. Marijuana consumption sites are smoking lounges, cannabis cafes and other businesses that allow for cannabis to be consumed on premises.

Melissa Jeffers, a Colonie town councilwoman, says this vote mainly boiled down to concern that people might smoke at one of these consumption sites and then drive home.  

“Without having appropriate mechanisms to test an individual's level, like with drinking while driving we have breathalyzers, we just don't have that technology,” Jeffers explained. “And it's a lot of pressure to put on our law enforcement.”

Local government officials have until Dec. 31 to decide if they want consumption sites or recreational marijuana retail stores within their town limits.

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Now that recreational use of cannabis is legal in New York, what happens to the records of individuals convicted of marijuana related charges?

With the passing of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in March, marijuana-related convictions that are no longer criminalize in New York will be automatically expunged.

However, the caveat is that legislation allows the New York State Office of Court Administration up two years to expunge the records.

This is New York State Senator Jeremy Cooney, who represents New York’s 56th Senate District is hosting an expungement clinic on Saturday in Rochester to give folks an opportunity to speak with legal experts for free about their case and how they can expedite the process.

“They can give applicants the best advice on how to position themselves, how to be honest with employers, and a realistic time table in removing the offense off their record,” said Cooney.

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Sonoma County cannabis growers and their allies gathered by the dozens Friday outside the Board of Supervisors’ office in Santa Rosa to denounce the county’s handling of commercial cannabis regulation and taxation, calling it overly burdensome and costly.

Taxes levied by the county are excessive, growers say, and a slow, convoluted local permitting process has hampered the expansion of their industry since California voters legalized adult-use recreational marijuana in 2016.

Growers have bristled at pushback from residents who do not want cannabis farms nearby and are calling on county officials to loosen regulations and allow more commercial cannabis operations across a wider span of territory outside cities.

Without major changes, growers will be chased off or forced back into the black market, they say.

“They’re overburdening us with unachievable regulations,” said David Drips, a co-owner of cannabis farm Petaluma Hill Farms and co-organizer of Friday’s protest, which drew about 80 people.

Tensions have mounted between farmers and neighbors over safety, water use and other impacts on neighborhoods. The county has agreed to study those impacts in an lengthy environmental report advanced by supervisors in May and likely to take at least a year to complete.

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Industrial hemp could soon contain a higher level of active substances, and getting a license to grow medical cannabis will become much easier if an amendment approved by Czech Parliament is signed into law.The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech Parliament, again approved an amendment aimed at improving the availability of medical marijuana and enabling electronic prescriptions. The lower house rejected a Senate proposal to maintain the current level of THC in the definition of industrial hemp and rejected the Senate’s tougher version of certification requirements.

Industrial hemp is cannabis intended for making a variety of products such as cloth, biofuel, and animal feed. It can also be used for some medical preparations.
The original version of the bill will now be submitted to President Miloš Zeman for his signature. If he approves the amendment, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022The approved amendment would more than triple the amount of THC in industrial hemp to 1 percent.
According to some senators, increasing the THC content would contravene the international drug convention and would also affect criminal law concerning possession of a classified substance. For this reason, the Senate wanted to maintain the THC content limit for technical hemp to 0.3 percent. However, deputies in the lower house disagreed with the Senate.
The Czech Pirate party was one of the main supporters of the amendment in the lower house.
“This is a package of pragmatic measures, free from dogmatism and stereotyping, which are unfortunately still fundamental obstacles for Czech policy in the field of addictive behavior,” Pirate Deputy Tomáš Vymazal, who supported the proposal, stated on the party website.
He said that growers will not have to worry about criminalization due to nice weather and other growing conditions, as the THC level in the final product cannot be predicted in advance.
“Farmers growing varieties of industrial hemp from the common European catalog will not have to prove the THC content of hemp plants – they will only submit a certificate of origin,” Pirate Deputy Tomáš Vymazal stated on the party website.

The daft of the amendment sent to the president also states that hemp extracts and tinctures containing up to 1 percent THC will not be regarded as an addictive substance.

“All cannabis extracts that have a THC content of up to 1 percent by weight and which at the same time do not have narcotic effects will be completely exempted from the substance abuse regime,” Vymazal stated.

“This means that, for example, an ointment made from a non-narcotic variety of cannabis will no longer be an addictive substance, although it contains THC and although the original cannabis plant may have exceeded 1 percent THC. Due to the dilution of the active substances during the production of the ointment, an extract is created, which will not be an addictive substance in the sense of the law,” he added.

The main change in the amendment is that private entities will be able to grow cannabis plants for medicinal use, produce medicinal substances from them, and distribute them under the same conditions as any other controlled substance.

Medicinal cannabis is used, for example, for chronic pain for that other medicines cannot help. It is prescribed by specialized doctors for people with multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS.

The Health Ministry previously said it hopes this change will increase competition and reduce the price of medicinal products containing cannabis, which are 90 percent covered by public health insurance. Currently, the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) buys the needed volume of cannabis from a selected supplier on the basis of a tender.

Vymazal said that due to more suppliers, a wider range of medical cannabis, with different dosage levels, would become available for patients.
The Senate also unsuccessfully pushed for medical cannabis growers to be required to have a certificate of good manufacturing practice for medicinal substances under the Medicines Act, which is issued by SÚKL. Under the lower house version, a declaration of compliance with the conditions of good cultivation practice would be sufficient.

“Due to financially and administratively more accessible licenses, even normal entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to participate in the production of cannabis for medical use,” Vymazal said.

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Efforts to help Black and brown people succeed as cannabis entrepreneurs are not working — despite efforts in weed-legal states to encourage diversity in ownership and management.

Why it matters: People of color have been disproportionately targeted by the "war on drugs," so, as the pot industry expands, cities and states have tried to make social justice a priority in granting licenses.

But people in underrepresented groups often lack access to the capital they need to go up against "big marijuana."They also lack the family-and-friends connections that give others a boost.

Driving the news: In July, three Democratic senators (Cory Booker, Chuck Schumer and Ron Wyden) released a discussion draft of legislation to remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances — a move meant "to end the decades of harm inflicted on communities of color."

Comments have poured in on the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which would:

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New Jersey courts have either dismissed or vacated an estimated 362,000 marijuana cases since July 1, according to data provided by the state Judiciary and reported by NJ.com

The actions come just months after the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order providing for the automatic dismissal and expungement of certain marijuana offenses from people’s records. Democratic Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation into law in 2019 facilitating a process for the review and vacation of the criminal records of those previously convicted of low-level marijuana offenses. Governor Murphy signed separate into law this year legislation legalizing adult-use marijuana possession and sales.

As many as an additional 150,000 New Jersey residents could also be eligible to have their marijuana-related records automatically expunged by the courts, said MaryAnn Spoto, a spokeswoman for the Judiciary. People with marijuana cases that are not automatically expunged can file a motion for review with the court.

New Jersey is one of several states in recent months to automatically review and vacate marijuana-specific criminal records. In Illinois, officials have moved to expunge an estimated 500,000 marijuana-related records, and in California officials have cleared nearly 200,000 records.

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New Jersey’s cannabis regulators on Tuesday moved to streamline the licensing of new weed businesses and approved another marijuana grow site — but it did not announce the recipients of some two dozen businesses that have sat in limbo for nearly two years.

The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission met on Tuesday evening to approve the transfer of an existing medical marijuana license, a new marijuana grow site and a system to help it process applications for new cannabis businesses.
All signal the state is gearing up for legal cannabis sales.
The commission unveiled its initial rules to guide the legal weed industry last month. That set the clock ticking down to launch sales to those 21 and older — according to the law, they must start within six months of the commission adopting its regulations.
But the commission gave no word on the 2019 request for applications to operate new medical marijuana facilities. Some 150 entities saw a review of applications paused in late 2019 due to a lawsuit. But a court ruled earlier this year that the commission could resume its evaluation and award those 24 licenses.
So far, the commission has not issued any of the new licenses. Jeff Brown, the commission’s executive director, has said licenses will come soon, but regulators have not given a date by when they will announce the new licenses.
“It is not lost on us that everyone is eager to get to that moving forward, as are we,” Dianna Houenou, the commission’s chair, said during the meeting. She said the commission was working quickly to score them, but emphasized the need to “double” and “triple” check each.
Still, frustration dominated the meeting.
Travis Ally, an applicant from that licensing round, said the commission should not consider expanding cultivation for existing medical marijuana companies while so many are awaiting those licenses.
“It’s borderline absurd at this point,” he said of the delay.
Edmund DeVeaux, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, criticized the wait, too, saying it would harm small and minority-owned businesses that have poured money into the application process without seeing any returns.
“They are waiting for much anticipated inclusion in the industry that had shut them out for so long and now may see a delay in that process, which is exactly what we did not want to happen. They cannot afford to keep waiting and neither can the state,” he said in a statement. “This delay was highly inconvenient but understandable before. Now, it is totally unacceptable and the state needs to take action immediately.”
Several others criticized the commission throughout the meeting. David Feder implored the commission to shed light on the delays.
“If they’re not going to be releasing them, at least address what the hold up is,” he said.
Despite the opposition, the commission did approve a second marijuana cultivation site in Lafayette for Harmony Foundation of New Jersey, which currently grows and dispenses medical cannabis in Secaucus. The company also has planned to open two additional dispensaries in Hoboken and Jersey City, which could draw customers from New York.
Increasing the supply of marijuana in the state not only helps authorized medical patients to access cannabis, but also gets the industry closer to the legal weed sales start date in February 2022. Currently licensed medical companies can sell to those 21 and older once they pay fees and prove they have enough marijuana to support not only the 114,000 patients in the state, but a recreational market, too.
The commission also voted to transfer ownership of Garden State Dispensary to Ayr Wellness, a company with dispensaries in several states, including Pennsylvania, Nevada and Massachusetts.
Garden State was one of the original six alternative treatment centers licensed in New Jersey. It has three dispensaries in Woodbridge, Eatontown and Union Township.
And finally, the commission voted to begin using NIC Licensing, a technology platform for government entities to process business license applications. Brown said the state has been using it for other licensing needs since 2009.
“This existing state resource will enable us, the commission, to begin accepting license applications sooner than it otherwise would be able to,” he said.
The commission did not say when it would begin to accept licenses for applications, but the cannabis legalization law says it must open open a process within 30 days of adopting its initial rules and regulations. That deadline comes this Saturday, Sept. 18.
A spokeswoman for the commission did not immediately return an email seeking clarification on the deadline to accept new applications.
 
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Throughout the centuries, humans have depicted facets of everyday life into our artistic expressions. Snapshots of popular opinion at the time of creation can be gleaned from the penny plays and murals of old.A good barometer on public opinion can be gauged in the various forms of media available to us in today’s world. Just as the evolution of technology has dramatically improved the viewing experience, content has shifted over time to align with current public opinion on topics. While there is not unanimous support for cannabis legalization, representation in mainstream media has gained traction with the overall purpose of educating the public on the positive effects of cannabis use. Even in an area where reporting on cannabis legalization is occurring, biases occur that affect the overall impact of the article.

The timeline for overall public opinion on cannabis legalization can find its early days in Richard Nixon’s successful “War on Drugs.” This campaign regulated cannabis as a Schedule I drug and was so effective in its terror tactics that by 1989, 64% of Americans viewed drug abuse as the nation’s number one problem after climbing from a measly 2-6%.

Over the last three decades, there was a significant change in attitude towards cannabis due to various interlocking factors. After juxtaposition to modern calamities, the risk of cannabis was reassessed. Large-scale public skepticism of pain killers after opioid epidemics ravaged communities across the nation, potential financial opportunities afforded through the cannabis business, and the potential for many other unknown medical benefits of medicinal cannabis have all contributed to the legalization of cannabis.

As with many other topics of heated discussion, misinformation abounds on all sides of the argument; within the cannabis industry, in particular, heavy emphasis has been placed on education to counter opposition to legalization.

In a 2019 study entitled, “How and why have attitudes about cannabis legalization changed so much? ” Felson et al. conducted the first comprehensive and empirically-based study to determine why the public opinion on cannabis legalization was changing and how. Their findings revealed that the American public opinion had enveloped more liberal views noticeably due to “a decrease in religious affiliation, a decline in punitiveness, and a shift in media framing.”

While there seems to be general support for legalizing cannabis in public opinion, this is not the case everywhere. In traditional media sources, such as news stations and newspapers, cannabis representation in media that is not nationwide can determine a territory’s overall attitude towards legalization.

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