News Nuggets – July 2017

Bay Area

California State Senate Approves Drugged Driving Task Force

On June 15, the California State Senate approved a handful of measures to better regulate drivers who drive under the influence. Led by Assemblymember Tom Lackey, who worked as a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer for almost 30 years, this bill will allow both state and local agencies to agree on the best ways to regulate drivers for the presence of cannabis, as well as illegal drugs and prescription drugs that may impair their driving ability. “As someone who spent 28 years with the CHP, I know how dangerous an impaired driver can be,” Lackey stated. “To deal with a problem as complex as drugged driving, we need a coordinated response based on strong science and best practices. This CHP-led taskforce will make sure that happens.” The bill was one of many that were passed, totaling $183 billion in spending. This particular bill alone was approved for $3 billion, which will help fund educational driving programs for both citizens and law enforcement.

Oakland Launches New Medical Cannabis Permit Applications to Promote Equity

In late-May, the city of Oakland approved a new medical cannabis license application that will to include more diverse cannabis business owners. The application process is now open to those who desire to work in cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, delivery, distribution, testing or transportation within the city (dispensaries are excluded until later this year). “We are committed to combating the disparities that have plagued the cannabis industry in the past,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Scaaf. “With the launch of this innovative permitting program, Oakland is creating an equal playing field in the medical cannabis arena and removing barriers for those who have been wronged by past practices.” The new application is the result of local analysis, which revealed that 77 percent of arrests in Oakland were of African Americans in 2015, with 15 percent of arrests being people who were Latino and white arrests at only four percent. Half of all permits will be awarded to approved “equity” applicants who meet the city’s determined requirements.

Colorado

 

IRS Fights to Keep Cannabis Companies from Claiming Tax Deductions

The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS)is currently looking at seed-to-sale systems in Colorado designed to track of finance and inventory which helps to prove if cannabis businesses are engaging in illegal activity and therefore not eligible to claim tax deductions. According to The Denver Post, at least six businesses in Colorado have been targeted so far. Those affected are claiming that this is a display of illegal overreach of the IRS’ power, since seed-to-sale systems have nothing to do with taxes. “Running a cannabis businesses under the conflicting federal and state laws is very complex, which is why we are seeing such tight tax enforcement,” stated Micah Tapman, Managing Director of Canopy Boulder, a venture fund and business accelerator for cannabis companies. “While a tax audit isn’t ideal for any business, it is something that every business needs to prepare for. It is particularly challenging for cannabis-related business to pay taxes, which leads some owners to take compromising steps to reduce their tax burden, which creates additional areas for the IRS to review and challenge. Until tax law is changed or cannabis is federally legalized, I do not foresee this changing.”

Colorado Hemp Law Will Protect Farmers

Gov. John Hickenlooper recently signed Senate Bill 117, a ruling that will allow people with water rights to allow their water to be used for growing industrial hemp. This new ruling even protects them if their water is stored in a federal facility. “Senator Coram [author of the bill] understands the opportunities of industrial hemp and is very adamant about giving it back to the farmer, to the people of the United States of America,” explained cannabis activist Jason Lauve. “This water bill sets a cornerstone for hemp while standing strong on Tenth Amendment foundations.” This bill will provide security and reassurance to farmers who are willing to grow hemp in Colorado. Because hemp has been criminalized in the past alongside cannabis despite having no psychoactive qualities, people have been reluctant to move forward with hemp grown for industrial purposes. Thanks to this new Colorado law, they can make a living and contribute to hemp production without fearing legal repercussions.

Los Angeles

California State Senate Approves Drugged Driving Task Force

On June 15, the California State Senate approved a handful of measures aimed at regulating drivers who drive under the influence of drugs. Led by Assemblymember Tom Lackey, who worked as a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer for almost 30 years, this bill will allow both state and local agencies to agree on the best ways to test drivers for the presence of cannabis, as well as illegal drugs and prescription drugs that may impair their driving. “As someone who spent 28 years with the CHP, I know how dangerous an impaired driver can be,” Lackey stated. “To deal with a problem as complex as drugged driving, we need a coordinated response based on strong science and best practices. This CHP-led taskforce will make sure that happens.” The bill was one of many that were passed, totaling $183 billion in spending. This particular bill alone was approved for $3 billion, which will help fund educational driving programs for both citizens and officers, and also help law enforcement purchase new equipment in preparation for recreational legalization in January 2018.

Pomona City Council Considers Allowing Recreational Cannabis Businesses

Recently the Pomona City Council heard from several cannabis experts to weigh the pros and cons of allowing licensed recreational cannabis businesses. Real estate agents, attorneys and other speakers were invited to plead their cases to the council which sought to learn more about how locals perceive cannabis. “City staff is seeking direction from City Council on key questions related to marijuana-related commercial activities, both medical and non-medical (i.e., recreational), as well as regulation on personal cultivation, and the smoking of marijuana in public places,” the City Council meeting agenda stated. Councilmembers suggested scheduling a joint meeting with the Planning Commission to develop some sort of plan for cannabis businesses. The city could either let the statewide regulations take effect, ban all businesses or adopt its own taxes and land use regulations. Pomona and other California cities are working to come up with a solution for recreational cannabis sales by January 1, 2018.

Bakersfield

Woodlake Considers Cannabis Businesses at Public Hearing

The Woodlake City Council took on the task of addressing commercial cannabis businesses at a public hearing on June 12. It’s the first city in Tulare County to consider allowing commercial cannabis. Director of Community Development Jason Waters gave a presentation on a potential cannabis tax measure. Some residents expressed how crime would be reduced by allowing cannabis sales. “The banning of alcohol led to a criminal enterprise of people wanting to consume alcohol,” resident Ted Miller said at the public hearing. “Marijuana is legal, now and you are not going to be able to kick it out of Woodlake.” Recently the city council gave city staff authorization to begin the process of drafting a cannabis tax measure. In a May 24 Facebook post, the city of Woodlake asked citizens if they would approve of a cannabis measure allowing recreational dispensaries or commercial cultivation, and most responses were positive.

Kern County Sheriffs Department Under Federal Scrutiny for Cannabis Conspiracy

Deputies Derrick Penney and Logan August both pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges that involved selling cannabis that was confiscated from illegal cultivation operation. The scandal has gripped the attention of the Bakersfield media. On May 30, Lt. Bill Starr, Penney’s and August’s supervisor, was arrested for his alleged ties to the conspiracy as well. “I made a horrible decision,” August confessed in a recent YouTube statement. “It was nobody else’s fault. Nobody influenced me to do it. I made that decision based on Satan playing games with me and making me feel like I was prideful and unable to go to family members for help.” Former police officers August and Penney could now be looking through the bars from the other side of a prison cell. They both face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for August 7 in federal court.

San Luis Obispo County Cannabis Regulations Head to Planning Commission

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors held a third meeting on June 20 to discuss the latest draft of an ordinance that would establish limits on commercial cannabis cultivation and set up a framework of regulations for the county. Title 22 of the San Luis Obispo County Code was amended to remove prohibitions on certain areas of the county. Cultivating cannabis in California Valley would continue to be prohibited. The ordinance would set the maximum number of cultivation permits at 100. Third District Supervisor Adam Hill opposed the cultivation cap at the third hearing saying, “I don’t want to see us saying who’s going to win and lose based on arbitrary numbers.” Supervisors Lynn Compton and John Peschong supported the cultivation caps. The county has not yet, however, come to a decision about whether to allow both recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries.

Michigan

New Committee Recommends Medical Cannabis Regulations in Clinton Township

Updates to Michigan’s medical cannabis legislation has sparked officials in Clinton Township to consider how regulated medical cannabis could affect the city. The issue was discussed by the Clinton Township Board of Trustees on May 30. The discussion was sparked after Supervisor Bob Cannon wrote a letter, urging city officials to consider the positive effects that could come from regulating medical cannabis. “It’s something that we have to address, and no matter which direction we head, we are going to face both praise and criticism,” Cannon said. Clinton Township will move forward in creating a committee to consider regulating medical cannabis operations within the city, with Treasurer Paul Gieleghem sharing that he understood the importance of making this consideration. “I think it’s a good idea to get ahead of the curve, to not pre-judge what we’re going to be doing and what recommendations we can come up with.” Gieleghem said.

Marshall City Council Approves Medical Cannabis Businesses

The city of Marshall became the first city in Calhoun County to approve some types of medical cannabis businesses. The Marshall City Council voted unanimously on June 5 to approve Ordinance #2017-05, which now allows for cannabis cultivation, transportation, processing and laboratory testing facilities. Dispensaries, unfortunately, will continue to be prohibited. At the meeting, Councilmember Brent Williams encouraged his fellow members to act fast. “If all the trending is accurate, recreational use of marijuana will be approved by the voters in the state,” Williams said. “So it really doesn’t matter what my personal opinion is. What matters is how do we as local government accommodate with the wishes of the people in our state?” City rules require all applicants to have a city manager-approved security plan. Cannabis-related businesses must include a 6,000-foot buffer in between each other. City council also voted to remove a proposed provision that required businesses to stay 1,500 feet away from schools.

San Diego

Cannabis Industry Volunteers Clean Up Trash from Encinitas Beach

Over Memorial Day weekend, 150 professionals from the legal cannabis industry gathered together to clean up trash on the beach in Encinitas. Volunteers came from everywhere from Los Angeles to Orange County to participate in the event and lend a hand to the effort. BudTrader, a local cannabis company that hosted the cleanup, was proud of the accomplishments that volunteers made that day. “The representative from 1-800-GOT-JUNK estimated that the trash we collected was between 400 to 500 pounds,” BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin stated. “Now, I’m not a mathematician, so I’m going to estimate on the low end and say that the BudTrader.com Beach Cleanup removed approximately 420 pounds of trash.” Volunteers removed garbage from beaches and waterways in Encinitas and Moonlight Beach during the four-hour event. The effort also helped clean up the unwarranted negative, lazy stigma that is occasionally attributed to cannabis consumers.

Veterans Suffering from PTSD Receive Free Cannabis

San Diego-based Torrey Holistics partnered with Weed for Warriors to help provide free medical cannabis for veterans who struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dozens gathered at the dispensary on June 15 to support the veterans. “With the help of organizations like Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance,” Weed for Warriors stated on its website, “Weed for Warriors Project is able to provide Veterans with medical marijuana information, a safe place to fellowship with other veterans and safe access to free medicine with proof of service/current medical recommendation.” Profits were directed toward free or discounted cannabis for veterans who furnished proof of service. The event helped send a big thanks to those who have served our nation. “The cannabis industry is extremely generous, and it’s just a matter of fact of giving them a platform to do it,” Weed for Warriors founder Sean Kiernan said.

Washington

Spokane County Lifts Moratorium on Outdoor Cannabis

Spokane County commissioners lifted a moratorium on outdoor cannabis cultivation, after frustration was expressed by the Cannabis Farmers Council and other local organizations. All new outdoor cannabis gardens will now require a conditional use permit and a public hearing process. “The Board declares an emergency and in so doing does adopt an Interim Zoning Ordinance, which would allow for production of marijuana in unincorporated Spokane County to an indoor/outdoor facility consistent with the licensing requirements of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board,” the Board of County Commissioners stated. Zoning restrictions were also added, including a ban on new operations in rural five-acre lots and in urban reserve lands. The new zoning restrictions don’t apply to existing farms and businesses. The moratorium was initially imposed because of local complaints about the cannabis odor.

Legal Cannabis Has Led to Fewer Traffic Stops in Washington

Cannabis legalization leads to fewer traffic stops by the Washington State Patrol, according to a new analysis conducted by research team at Stanford University and its Open Policing Project. Over 130 million state patrol stops across 31 states between 2011 and 2015 were analyzed. Overall, 8,624,032 traffic stops occurred in Washington during that time. “Several states have recently legalized the use of recreational marijuana. We have detailed data in two of these states: Colorado and Washington,” Stanford researchers stated in their findings. “After marijuana use was legalized, Colorado and Washington saw dramatic drops in search rates. That’s because many searches are drug-related. Take away marijuana as a crime and searches go down.” Racial disparities in traffic stops still exist, researchers also noted, with a persistent gap between the number of white and minority driver arrests. Traffics stops that result in a search have decreased in Washington, which could combat unnecessary police brutality against minorities and others.

Oregon

Industrial Hemp Bill Heads to Oregon Governor’s Desk for Signature

Industrial hemp could soon be used to make medical cannabis products in Oregon. Senate Bill 1015 would allow industrial hemp cultivators to pass along their product to cannabis processors if both are registered with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The bill passed the House with a vote of 45-0 on June 12. Having already passed the Senate, the bill has been sent to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk where it is expected to be signed into law. “There are now 177 licensed industrial hemp growers in our state who are excited to jump into the 2017 growing season,” said Rep. Carl Wilson. “The continued growth of this industry has the potential to bring good-paying jobs and new economic development to communities around the state, and particularly those in our rural communities. Industrial hemp can be used for a variety of different purposes, including creating fiber, seed and oil products, as well as providing positive medicinal benefits through the presences of non-psychoactive cannabinoid compounds.”

Oregon Businesses Attend Cannabis Association National Lobby Days in Washington, D.C.

Over 30 cannabis business professionals from across Oregon attended the Third Annual National Lobby Days in Washington, D.C. last month. The purpose of their visit was to lobby to protect their state’s rights and fair access to banking services, among other goals. This year, the group also focused on hemp and expanding veteran’s access to medical cannabis and hemp. Amy Margolis, Hunter Neubauer and many other cannabis business professionals attended the event. The Oregon Cannabis Association (OCA) plans to attend over 40 lobbying events and briefings in order to make the biggest impact on lawmakers. “As more states come online, the lack of banking and unfair tax treatment of these businesses becomes even more apparent,” stated Hunter Neubauer, member of OCA. “We need change now and that’s what we plan to tell Congress.”

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