News Nuggets – September 2017

Bay Area

Alameda County Initially Approves Expansion of Dispensaries and Cultivation Sites

On August 1, Alameda County Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve the first reading on amendments to Chapter 6.106 and 6.108 of Title 6 and Title 17 of the Alameda County General Ordinance Code. The changes would increase the number of medical cannabis dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county from three to five. It would allow for up to six cultivation sites, with two set aside as indoor facilities. “It would be a disservice to the electorate and constituency of this county to not have regulations in place,” Supervisor Nate Miley said at the planning meeting.  “. . . And I respect people who disagree with me.” After another reading, and if the ordinances are approved, the regulations will go into effect within 30 days. Currently only two dispensaries, We Are Hemp and Garden of Eden Medical Marijuana Clinic, exist in unincorporated Alameda County.

Vallejo Moves to Begin Issuing Dispensary Permits

A number of medical cannabis dispensaries in Vallejo have been in operation, but only with limited immunity. By a unanimous 5-0 vote on August 22, the Vallejo City Council approved the first reading of a resolution to amend Chapter 7.100 of the Vallejo Municipal Code. The amendment grants permits to the city’s 11 dispensaries that have already received an immunity letter from city hall. “After much discussion of the City Council Ad-Hoc Committee on Marijuana, it was determined that addressing modifications to the Vallejo Municipal Code on the topic of marijuana is best done in a phased approach,” the city website states. Regulatory permits woulb be granted in the first phase. Transferability, expansion, delivery and relocation would be addressed in the second phase. The supply chain, including cultivation, testing and manufacturing would be determined in the third phase. Another city council vote is required before the amendment can officially take effect.

Colorado

Trinidad Sued Over Cannabis Club Ban

Social consumption and the allowance of public smoking spaces is always big news for Denver and major metropolitan areas. But in Trinidad, social consumption is just as important. The owners of Feed Your Head Shop in Trinidad recently sued the city for shutting down a public space that they opened so that visitors would have a place to consume. They argued that because so much of the cannabis business in the state comes from tourism, it is important to have a safe space for tourists to consume cannabis. “All of these smoke lounges, they are not providing cannabis,” Kate Mullen, part owner of Feed Your Head Shop and one of the people behind the lawsuit, told CULTURE. She and her business partner, Laurie Lyon, were running 420 Smoke Lounge before it was shut down. “The closing of these businesses is a constitutional rights violation because they aren’t cannabis businesses. We didn’t provide it or sell it or give it away; we provided a venue to educate and inform the public and gave people a place to smoke.” Mullen and Lyon are hoping to either receive financial restitution, or to be able to operate their business again.

Northglenn Extends Business Hours

Northglenn is following in the footsteps of neighboring cities by extending its business hours for dispensaries. Dispensaries within city limits will now be able to stay open until 10 p.m. and are allowed to open an hour earlier at 8 a.m. This change began August 14, and so far Northglenn business owners are reporting good things. “We have our longest running store in Northglenn, where we have been part of all the changes by the state for over seven years,” stated Kyle Speidell, CEO of The Green Solution, a cannabis company that got its start in Northglenn. “The city has always been progressive with its marijuana laws and stayed at the forefront of access for its citizens.” Recently, Denver and Boulder both made the decision to let dispensaries stay open later as well. Northglenn officials felt it was taking a significant cut in sales because of the early closing time, and they now feel it will be able to bring in more tax revenue.

Los Angeles

Long Beach Adds Cannabis Dispensary Buffers Around Daycare Centers

A cleanup ordinance to protect children and to comply with state law is needed in Long Beach. On August 22, the Long Beach City Council requested that the city attorney draft an ordinance to add 600-foot buffer zones to keep medical cannabis dispensary locations away from daycare centers. “Daycare centers are clearly defined by state law, they’re licensed by the state,” Assistant City Manager Ajay Kolluri said. “They’re easily tracked on the state’s department of social services website. Recognizing daycare centers will also correct a deficiency in our local initiative, Measure MM, which recognized kindergartens as buffers but not pre-schools.” Measure MM, which ended the ban on medical cannabis dispensaries in Long Beach, neglected to include daycare center buffers. The proposal wouldn’t affect dispensaries that applied for licenses before January 1, 2018. If Long Beach decides to approve recreational cannabis sales, the city could set some of its own standards including the buffer zone sizes.

Huntington Beach City Council Bans Recreational Cannabis Businesses

Through a unanimous vote, the Huntington Beach City Council decided on August 21 to ban recreational cannabis businesses within city limits with a new zoning amendment. The council agreed that they would prefer to wait until they view the success and failures of neighboring cities that have chosen to allow recreational businesses first. “It’s prudent on us to see how the industry performs in other cities,” said Councilmember Erik Peterson. “I don’t see us as a laboratory.” Many members of the public were present to comment, and one mentioned that recreational cannabis could bring in extra revenue for the city. Another individual spoke on behalf of medical patients who could benefit from cannabis if it was more widely available. The amendment that the council approved also addressed the topic of cultivation, establishing that cultivating recreational cannabis outdoors in Huntington Beach is illegal, but limited indoor cultivation is allowed in private residences in an enclosed area.

Bakersfield

Twelve Apply for Dispensary Licenses in Grover Beach

On May 15, the Grover Beach City Council voted to allow medical cannabis businesses in the city including dispensaries, nurseries, manufacturing facilities and lab testing centers. The deadline for dispensary pre-permit applications was July 10. Applicants paid a one-time fee of $8,100, plus $750 for a Live Scan and background check. On August 3, it was announced that 12 applicants have applied for a permit, but in the end, only two will be chosen. “The adopted ordinance allows a maximum of two medical cannabis dispensaries,” City Manager Matthew Bronson wrote in a staff report. “In anticipation of high demand for the two dispensaries, the Council provided direction for staff to prepare criteria to select eligible applicants to proceed with submitting a Use Permit and Commercial Cannabis Permit applications.” The city posted a handy flowchart on its website to simplify the medical cannabis permit process.

Taft Begins Developing Cannabis Ordinance

The city of Taft is quickly moving closer toward regulating recreational cannabis. On August 1, an interactive study session on cannabis was provided by Jon Zimmerman, a consultant who was hired by the city to help the city council develop the ordinance. “Councilmember [Randy] Miller  mentioned that citizen input is needed on the cannabis issue in order for the Council to make [the]best decisions for the city,” according to the city council minutes. Mayor Dave Noerr strongly opposed allowing recreational cannabis, saying it will lead to the loss of “innocent lives.” On August 8, the city posted an 18-page draft of potential rules. The proposed rules mention that other cities are extending Proposition 64’s 600-foot buffer to 1,000 feet and are limiting businesses to industrial and commercial areas, suggesting the direction the city will take. The city held a public meeting on August 22 to hear public opinion.

Woodlake Will Vote on Cannabis Tax

Woodlake City Council voted 4-1 on July 24 to put a cannabis sales tax on the November 7 ballot with Ordinance 610. If passed, the ordinance would impose a $25 per-square-foot tax on cannabis businesses or 10 percent on gross receipts. Unfortunately, not all residents were enthusiastic. “At first I was on the fence, but the more I thought about it, that’s where my drug use started . . . and I was one of the lucky ones to get out of it . . . and I go to the store and see my friends who haven’t,” said Juan Lopez at the meeting. “What are we telling our kids? What kind of example will you be when we tell our kids that you voted for drugs?” The restrictions are steep, which would prohibit signage and require businesses to keep a registry of current employees. Businesses would also be required to install alarms, lighting and other security features. The city council also waived the first and second reading of the ordinance.

Michigan

Pro-Cannabis Billboards Pop Up Throughout Michigan

WeedMaps, which has been called “Yelp” for cannabis dispensaries, has begun launching “#weedfacts” on billboards across Michigan. The ads feature positive statistics about the effects of cannabis legalization. The company paid for 22 pro-cannabis billboards in the Lansing area, 12 in the Ann Arbor area and six in Detroit. Billboards included statistics such as, “Since legalizing marijuana in 2012, Colorado has had no increase in youth marijuana usage. Neither has Washington,” and “States that have legalized marijuana had 25% fewer opioid-related deaths.” As expected, many criticized that the advertisements were unnecessary, including Senator Andy Schor. “People in Michigan already know about medical marijuana, and anyone using medical marijuana has a card and should have no trouble finding a location to acquire it,” Schor said. The ads were released around the same time that two petitions to legalize recreational cannabis in Michigan were gaining traction last month.

Board Member Proposes Closing All Medical Cannabis Collectives

Donald Bailey, a board member of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Licensing Board, proposed the closure of all medical cannabis collectives in Michigan at an August 21 board meeting. Bailey is a former Michigan State Police sergeant. His proposal would force collectives to close by September 15 if they want to be eligible for Michigan’s new licensing system that is scheduled to begin on December 15. “Every dispensary that’s out there right now is open in violation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act,” Bailey said at the meeting. Bailey cited a 2013 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that labeled all existing collectives as operating illegally. Before the August 21 meeting, most patients assumed that existing collectives would remain operational until December. After shockwaves of outrage came from card-holding patients, the board decided to table the proposal until feedback from other state agencies has been considered.

Washington

State Politicians Debunk Sessions’ Cannabis Claims

In late July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, laying out concerns he had about the legalization of recreational cannabis. Some of these concerns included topics such as a correlation between violence and cannabis as well as an increase in youth cannabis consumption. However, most of the concerns Sessions wrote about currently have no data to back them up. In mid-August, Gov. Inslee and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson wrote a letter back to Sessions, detailing with data, how each of his claims was wrong. In the letter, Ferguson and Inslee also called out Sessions’ refusal to discuss cannabis legalization in-person. “We have twice requested an in-person meeting with you because we believe it will lead to better understanding than exchanging letters,” the letter reads. “If we can engage in a more direct dialogue, we might avoid this sort of miscommunication and make progress on the issues that are important to both of us.”

Washington Strengthens Cannabis Inventory System

In an attempt to prepare for Washington’s growing cannabis industry, the state of Washington is beefing up its inventory system. Back on May 31, Franwell’s METRC software was selected to replace BioTrackTHC, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s (LCB) current, but soon to be former, required traceability software. However, METRC dropped out before a contract was signed. According to LCB Communications Director Brian Smith, Leaf Data Systems by MJ Freeway “was a close second” and was soon selected by the LCB as the new choice for Washington’s traceability software. When asked about the reasons for the switch Smith told CULTURE, “The Board’s contract with the current traceability system provider expires in October 2017.” Smith stated. “The number of changes we would like to make to the existing system is beyond the scope of our existing contract. The LCB is taking this opportunity to ensure the State’s traceability system is positioned for future growth.” The full inventory software switch-over will be completed no later than October 31.

San Diego

San Marcos Extends Moratorium with Urgency Ordinance

No dispensaries or cultivation facilities will appear for at least another year in the city of San Marcos. On August 8, the San Marcos City Council voted to approve an emergency ordinance extending a moratorium on cannabis cultivation operations and dispensaries. The moratorium was extended through September 30, 2018. “This urgency ordinance shall take effect immediately upon the expiration of urgency Ordinance No. 2016-1434,” the ordinance reads. It extends “the moratorium on the establishment of marijuana dispensaries, the outdoor cultivation and processing of marijuana, the indoor cultivation and processing of marijuana . . . ” The new ordinance is an extension of Ordinance No. 2016-1433 and Ordinance No. 2016-1432, which are earlier emergency ordinances. The city council also approved amendments to city code that changes fence and wall requirements. The city first banned medical cannabis dispensaries in 2006. San Marcos also approved its ban on medical cannabis cultivation, delivery and sale on November 10, 2015.

Carlsbad Approves Effort to Legalize Commercial Cannabis Sales

A campaign received approval to begin gathering signatures in support of a vote on allowing recreational cannabis sales in Carlsbad. On August 10, City Attorney Celia Brewer and City Clerk Barbara Engleson signed the ballot title and summary, which was just before the August 11 deadline. Before advocates could begin collecting signatures, the Association of Cannabis Professionals, the organization that is sponsoring the initiative, was required to publish a notice of intent in a newspaper. “The Association consists of experienced, passionate activists who work tirelessly to end the black market cannabis trade in favor of a safe, accessible, legal cannabis industry in which the adult use of cannabis is taxed and regulated fairly as any other legitimate business,” the group stated. The initiative would legalize the sales, indoor cultivation, delivery and manufacturing of recreational cannabis. Under the proposed change, retailers and delivery drivers could operate between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The initiative must collect valid signatures from 15 percent of voters to qualify for special election or 10 percent for a regular election.

Oregon

Creswell Residents to Vote on Cannabis in November Despite Opposition

The Creswell City Council unanimously rejected an initiative to legalize cannabis businesses in the city on August 15, but despite the vote, the decision will ultimately be up to voters this November. Initiative Measure 2017-1 would impose a three percent tax on recreational cannabis businesses and allow retailers, processors and wholesalers in the city; however it would not allow producers. City Councilor Amy Knudsen pointed out that the city council cannot legally block the issue from the ballot. Now it is up to city residents to make the decision. “You are empowered to make the decision on the future of marijuana in Creswell,” Mayor Dave Stram said at the city council meeting. The initiative is being promoted by One Gro, a business that wants to open a dispensary in Creswell. Meanwhile, The Jobs & Freedom Committee was established in Creswell with the sole purpose of repealing the ban on cannabis businesses in the city. Creswell, the committee contends, could see thousands of dollars in tax revenue if it decides to lift the ban.

Native American Reservation Will Not Vote on Cannabis in General Election

On August 28, members of The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Board of Trustees refused to second a motion made by General Council Chairman Alan Crawford to put cannabis up for a vote at the November 14 general election. However, the Vice Chairman of the board, Jeremy Red Star Wolf, who introduced the motion, defended the medical properties of cannabis. “Marijuana has been scientifically proven to be a viable and safer alternative to dangerous pharmaceuticals for those suffering from diabetes, cancer, migraines and arthritis to name a few.” Jeremy Red Star Wolf told the East Oregonian. “Youth have the most at stake here, as abuse will always be a concern. Education is important for us to come to a rational majority.” The United States Department of Justice, under the Obama administration, stated in a memo that federal resources would not be used to enforce cannabis laws on tribal grounds, but not all tribes have chosen to take advantage.

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