Marijuana has been legal for more than five months, yet there’s still no cannabis industry set up in New York.
The governor and the legislative leaders still have to appoint the remaining members of the cannabis control board, which is a part of the newly formed Office of Cannabis Management.
The executive director of OCM, and the chairperson of the control board, have both been appointed and confirmed. But it’s unclear whether the remaining positions have been filled.
Here’s a breakdown of how the board works.
In comments submitted to Sens. Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden on “The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act,” the Cannabis Freedom Alliance applauded the proposed bill because it would accomplish “the overarching goal of legalizing the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and possession of marijuana products at the federal level.”
“The bill takes several important steps toward ending the criminalization of marijuana and the failed war on drugs,” said Adrian Moore, vice president of Reason Foundation, a member of the Cannabis Freedom Alliance’s steering committee. “We’re thankful the Cannabis Freedom Alliance and other groups have been given the opportunity to offer suggestions to improve this important bill.”
The Cannabis Freedom Alliance (CFA) praised elements of the bill’s criminal justice reforms but urged lawmakers to ensure there is more clarity on how agencies and courts should deal with expungements and individuals who are “currently detained for cannabis charges or convicted of such charges awaiting sentencing” because “forcing them to continue in the normal legal process and then later submit a motion for resentencing would be unjust.”
On hemp and farming, the CFA advised the senators to include “explicit statutory language designating raw cannabis as a full federal crop so that it is subject to similar rules and protections as other crops.”
The Cannabis Freedom Alliance also called on lawmakers to ensure any “marijuana product cultivated or manufactured in strict compliance with state regulatory frameworks be deemed acceptable by the FDA and other federal regulators to enter into interstate commerce…We recommend that the CAOA [The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity] expressly authorize the interstate trade of cannabis and cannabis products that already exist in the marketplace, including products in cultivation (to the extent not already covered by the CAOA’s transition provisions) and production, at the time of enactment of the CAOA, subject to existing state laws. The fundamental issue to be addressed is ensuring that state-lawful products that are already in the market can continue to be bought and sold, rather than deemed illegal immediately.”
Industry insiders are urging medical marijuana patients to raise objections after Missouri regulators told dispensaries this summer they couldn’t advertise cannabis sales.
In practice, the rule means companies aren’t allowed to spread the word on product discounts, including holiday specials, even though dispensaries are free to lower prices as they see fit.
The advertising restriction is an unconstitutional barrier to information for medical marijuana patients, business owners said in a full-page ad printed in September’s “The Evolution Magazine,” a cannabis-focused publication based and distributed in Missouri.
The ad asks readers to mail a prewritten postcard to Lyndall Fraker, director of the medical marijuana program, requesting that he rescind the rule because it “runs afoul of the department’s core mission.
“With more than 135 dispensaries now operating in Missouri, patients absolutely should be able to receive information about discounts, products, and events and should not be denied critical information,” the postcard said.
The storyline of the summer has been that House and Senate negotiators are close, closer — even very, very close — to having a deal on a medical marijuana program, for which Gov. Tate Reeves could call the Legislature into special session to pass.
But as summer slips toward fall, those mostly closed-door negotiations continue with scant details on the particulars or hang-ups, and… still no deal nor special session.
As the clock ticks, prospects for a special session before the January regular legislative session become less likely. And passage of a medical marijuana program during a busy regular session is far more politically arduous, perhaps even doubtful. Even current negotiations become endangered as time drags on — more chefs get in the kitchen, deals on particulars fall apart, the center cannot hold.
It would appear it’s time for lawmakers and Gov. Tate Reeves to fish or cut bait, as the saying goes, on a medical marijuana program to replace the one passed by voters but shot down by the state Supreme Court.
Getting busted for weed is no walk in the park. There’s the arrest, a slew of court dates, typically a conviction, and depending on the severity of the offense, a sentence that can come with prison time and hefty fines. Perpetuating the punishment is the difficulties one often experiences after getting out of the clink and back into productive society.
Companies can be cautious about hiring ex-cons and other people, who, on paper, appear to be questionable choices for an employee. However, one organization has taken a novel new approach to assist cannabis offenders in securing gainful employment: Help them find work on the legal side of weed.
A non-profit outfit out of Ohio called URC Grows recently banded together with Riviera Creek Holdings, which runs a bunch of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state to help those with cannabis convictions find jobs in the legal smoke sector. According to the program’s website, “URC Grows seeks to be different by providing an Ohio Department of Education Approved Certification, in three focused areas. We will also provide entrepreneurial development services and land for each entrepreneur to grow on, or employment in a URC operated grow facility.”
As many as 60% of ex-prisoners are unemployed one year after their release from prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. So, for some pot offenders, this program is both a hot ticket back to gainful employment and a chance to become a marijuana mogul. “This program will give them an opportunity to get back into the workforce,” Brian Kessler, chairman of Riviera Creek Holdings LLC, told The Business Journal.
“There were so many people that were jailed by this, and now that everyone is making money off something that they are already sitting in jail for, we want to give them an opportunity, everyone needs a second chance, and these are the things that they can do that were just natural to them that they will thrive in so why not give them this opportunity,” Dionne Dowdy, Executive Director of URC, told WFMJ.
Four appointments have been made to New York’s newly formed Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management under New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
SAVINO SAYS APPOINTEES SHOULD LEARN FROM OTHER STATES
Arrests on marijuana-related charges have fallen dramatically this summer in and around Virginia’s capital since a new law legalized possession of small amounts of pot and residents keeping a few cannabis plants, according to a newspaper report.
Twenty-five marijuana-related arrests occurred in Richmond and in Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico counties in the first seven weeks after the law took effect July 1, compared to 257 arrrests during the same period last year, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, citing local law enforcement data.
The law legalized possession by adults age 21 and over of up to 1 ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of four pot plants per household, among other decriminalization provisions. Selling marijuana remains illegal until the state lauches a regulated market in 2024 and issues licenses. A regulatory board will help carry out the details.
Marijuana enforcement hasn’t been a high priority for Richmond’s police department, during a time of high numbers of shootings and slayings, the newspaper reported.
ARAU (Bernama) - Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Unimap) has become the first public university in the country to conduct research on hemp (a member of the cannabis sativa plant) as an agricultural product with the potential of being economically developed in the future.
Its vice-chancellor, Professor Dr Zaliman Sauli said for that purpose, Unimap has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Kuala Lumpur-based company MyUS Hemphouse Sdn Bhd.
"Through the MoU, research and development can be carried out at UniMAP and focus will be given through Institut Agroteknologi Lestari (Insat) in Sungai Chuchuh, Padang Besar on an area of 0.8 hectares,” he said here, on Friday (Sept 10).
Zaliman signed the MoU on behalf of the university while while MyUS was represented by its chief executive officer Datuk Nellsen Young.
Unimap and MYUS will conduct research on hemp cultivation procedures and applications as well as focus on functional materials for agriculture especially organic farming to improve the country’s agricultural products.
The effort of using drones to spot illegal grows is supported by legal operators who can’t compete with illicit operations.
A dystopian reality of government-controlled drones hovering overhead is a reality for growers in Nevada County, California, but the effort to locate illegal operations is supported by local cannabis organizations such Nevada County Cannabis Alliance.
In many areas in California, growers have the challenge of competing with illicit operations amid an epic oversupply problem—driving some operators into the black market.
However, Nevada County officials aren’t playing anymore. According to officials, about one-third or 32 percent of cannabis-related complaints in the county couldn’t be locked gates, fences and other visual obstructions. County building director Craig Griesbach claims that two of those sites were linked to wildfires.
“One of the fire events happened during the Jones Fire of 2020, pulling air attack resources off the Jones Fire to address this concurrent threat to life and property,” Griesbach told The Union. “Cannabis-related violations, including generators that were not permitted on both sites, could have been verified with the use of (drone) technology and therefore mitigated before these fires started.”
A pilot program involving the use of drones to spot illegal cannabis grow operations is planned to kick off this spring in Nevada County, with the risk of wildfires as one of the justifications.
In response to a Georgia law allowing medical marijuana production and sales, Alpharetta plans to limit where dispensaries and facilities can operate in their city.
So far, no companies have applied to open dispensaries or production facilities in Alpharetta, but the city’s staff received an inquiry about potential marijuana business locations outside light industrial areas, Community Development Director Kathi Cook told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We want to follow approvals from the state,” Cook said. “When there’s new uses that come into the community, we have to make sure our code … keeps up with state regulations.”
The City Council is scheduled to consider the measure during its regular meeting on Sept. 27.
Cannabis breathalyzer company Hound Labs, Inc. has raised $20 million from a variety of cannabis investment groups. Investors in the company include Entourage Effect Capital (EEC), Intrinsic Capital, Benchmark, Icon Ventures, and Tuatara Capital. The company raised the funds in order to scale production of the HOUND MARIJUANA BREATHALYZER. Hound Labs says it has developed a patented and one-of-a-kind ultra-sensitive technology that is at the core of the company’s first commercial product.
“The groundbreaking breath testing technology created by Hound Labs provides a substantial competitive advantage to the Company,” said Dov Szapiro, Managing Partner at EEC. “The Hound Labs team has accomplished an impressive scientific achievement – precisely and consistently targeting one specific type of molecule out of the more than 3,500 different compounds found in breath. Not only are we excited about the immediate capabilities of the Hound breath technology to measure recent cannabis use, we are also excited about future applications that can detect pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 or biomarkers for disease by changing the targeted compound.”
Cannabis use testing has been notoriously difficult. Unlike alcohol use, which is relatively easy to measure with traditional breathalyzers, cannabis consumers often show positive results long after actually consuming the product making traditional methods unreliable. Hound Labs says its product has been designed to isolate recent cannabis use by specifically measuring THC1 (the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis). The company noted that the ability to determine when an employee used cannabis is critical now that most adults in the U.S. can legally use recreational cannabis outside of work hours. While Amazon made news recently by saying it wouldn’t test employees for cannabis use, it specifically carved out drivers from that statement.
Hound Labs claims to be the only ultra-sensitive cannabis testing solution that identifies recent use that correlates with the window of impairment, allowing employers to keep employees who might otherwise test positive via conventional cannabis tests of oral fluid, urine, and hair.
“In order to manage our supply chain and meet demand for inventory, we have been reaching out to employers on our Wait List to understand the volumes required for our commercial units in 2022,” stated Dr. Mike Lynn, CEO of Hound Labs. “The response has been incredible. We are negotiating multi-million-dollar contracts with companies from a variety of industries who want to secure HOUND MARIJUANA BREATHALYZERS ahead of our 1Q22 commercial launch.”
Rudolph Petersen faces up to 10 years in federal prison for allegedly taking the bribes.
One corrupt police officer in California who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes spun a web of lies and deception worthy of a Breaking Bad episode.
On September 7, Rudolph Petersen, 34, pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge for accepting at least $14,000 in cash from a drug trafficker in exchange for escorting massive shipments of pot and other drugs, and searching a police database to supply the trafficker information on suspected snitches, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Petersen, who served as a Montebello Police Department for about four years, solicited and received several large-sum cash bribes from an alleged gang member and drug trafficker, according to his plea agreement. Prosecutors say Petersen admitted to taking a total of $14,000 in cash bribes since 2018—mostly for transporting a U-Haul filled with weed and sniffing out people suspected of cooperating with other police.
Peterson was the guy on the inside, who had access to sensitive information about plea deals and the individuals involved.
Federal prosecutors say a drug trafficker, identified only as “co-schemer 2,” told Petersen he’d be placed “on his payroll” during a dinner in 2018, and gave him $500 through a middle man.
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.