Reform CA vs. ReformCA.org: Let the Shit Show Begin

reformca.logo.44 VS.  Reform.Square

Sometimes things start out as a joke, and then become more serious as things unfold; but there is nothing funny about losing another election for cannabis freedom in California. Or even more so, getting stuck with a law that sucks because we let those who do not have the best interest of cannabis users and providers run amok with the process with zero checks and balances.

So let’s start by figuring out who and what “ReformCA” is… Late last year I began to hear about a group forming called Reform CA that was going to be organizing the effort for a 2016 initiative in the State of California. Being that I have spent the better part of my life fighting for cannabis freedom in California, I was somewhat surprised that I had no idea who the fuck these people were. So I went and checked out their fancy new website where, at the time, was listed a whole host of individuals and organizations that were supposedly involved. Literally damn near everyone was included, like there was some huge inclusive effort being put forth; but reality was anything but that really.

After further investigation, I found out that Reform California was a basic rebranding of the group called the “Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform“… the group that developed after the Prop. 19 loss who vowed to make a comeback after their poorly run campaign effort failed in 2010. If you go to their site and look at the “About” page their list of supporters has dwindled and they recently added a link to their Coalition page; but they do not list directly on their page who the fuck they are and why we should give a shit. If you read down to the bottom of the page you get this:

ReformCA is an initiative of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR), a registered 501(C)(4) non-profit organization based in Oakland. More information about CCPR is available at CannabisPolicyReform.org.

It always fascinates me when a group does not have the courage to directly list who they are on their page, but at least now they have this handy link to the CCPR page, which has listed a Board of Directors…. So here is the list of folks on the Board who are supposedly behind the ReformCA effort:

  • Dale Sky Jones- Oaksterdam/Prop 19
  • Alice Huffman- NAACP
  • Dale Gieringer- CANORML
  • Dan Rush- UFCW
  • Jeff Jones- Patient ID Center/Prop 19
  • David Bronner- Dr. Bronner’s
  • Antonio Gonzales- William C. Velasquez Institute
  • Richard Lee- Oaksterdam/Prop. 19
  • Jim O’Neil- Peter Thiel Consultant
  • Aaron Houston- Weedmaps
  • Stacia Costner- SSDP
  • Neil Franken- LEAP
  • Debby Goldsberry- UFCW?
  • Kristen Nevedal- Emerald Growers Association
  • Don Duncan- Americans for Safe Access
  • Joe Rogoway- Attorney
  • Graham Boyd- ACLU/Peter Lewis (Honorary Board Member)
  • Stephen Gutwillig- Drug Policy Alliance (Honorary Board Member

Sounds like an amazing effort, no? Well don’t let the smoke and mirrors fool you. I don’t think half of the people listed a Board Members even know they are on the Board, or at least do not seem to take active roles with the group. Have you heard about Reform CA, but kept wondering who the fuck was behind it really like the rest of us? Well… I am not even sure they know at this point. I am not even sure they know what their mission and objectives are. They just know that they feel if legalization efforts are going to happen in California that they deserve to lead the effort because apparently they have been standing around the longest or some shit.

Let’s be completely honest though… The list of people above is not really the group of folks who are putting forth the ReformCA effort. It is a handful of them that are really working on the project. The majority have not publicly announced their involvement or support for the Reform effort. But back to my story….

So after realizing that this group was developing and coronating themselves the legalization prom queen, I began to try and figure out who was what, and why I had not been invited to take part in the effort. Was it me? Probably. I can admit that my harsh criticism and forward thinking have rubbed many people the wrong way. Swing a dead cat around and you will likely hit a person who I have been critical of, or God forbid, made a funny meme about. Sue me. But I figured that even with my controversial reputation that I would at least get a courtesy heads up that this group was planning on leading the charge for legalization in CA, and wanted to be the point people for an effort that will certainly change my life forever. I can admit I was a little offended at first, as I believe I have paid my dues in this community and have certainly given a lot of myself to inspiring cannabis freedom.

So after a little digging it was brought to my attention that this group was primarily being put forth by CCPR, and being lead by Dale Sky Jones, Jeff Jones, and Richard Lee… the faces of Prop. 19. This sort of pissed me off, as I spent a lot of time, energy, and political capital fighting for Prop. 19 when EVERYONE else hated it and the folks who ran the campaign could not be bothered to fight their own fight. I was one of the most vocal advocates for the law, which I still believe for all of its issues would be better than where we are today; but I digress. I just found it funny, and mildly offensive, that a group headed up by folks whose honor I spent a hell of a lot of time defending could not be bothered to reach out to me about their plans. But that is cool… Like whatever, man.

RichardLee.1

After understanding that this ReformCA group was just a regurgitation of the CCPR group and others who I thought lost their fucking minds for deciding to pass on 2014 and who chose to ignore the momentum of 2012, which I wrote about in a piece entitled, “You gotta be shitting me….. 2016? Excuses Suck” I knew there was a problem. Further review of the situation enlightened me that this group was also being spearheaded by the likes of Dale Gieringer of CANORML, Don Duncan of ASA, and Dan Rush of UFCW, which explained why I was likely shunned in the deal. I have not been short on criticisms of these figureheads whose failed leadership has been disastrous in the cannabis community. Dale Gieringer continues to play political football in the community, and has been one of the least effective leaders I have ever met. This is a guy who refused to co-author my book Medical Marijuana 101 because I was “too big of a cheerleader for cannabis” in my writing. LOL.

Then you add in Don Duncan’s issues with ASA and their coalition of restriction partnered by Dan Rush of UFCW, and you understand that I have had a lot to say about the failures of these groups’ efforts. ASA and UFCW have continued to advocate for a more restrictive cannabis industry since partnering up in 2012 to try and push a medical initiative that they fabricated support for, which took the wind out of the sails of adult use legalization efforts across the State. Then they conspired to pass Measure D in LA, which put hundreds of dispensaries out of business, and was the most restrictive effort on the ballot. Don Duncan used his power with ASA to save his own dispensary, which he sold to a group once headed up by Montel Williams. UFCW twisted the arms of most GLACA members to become union shops, and in turn used their political muscle to give them a competitive advantage with Measure D. Americans for Safe Access and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union continue to use their political influences to support legislation in Sacramento that would only allow a select few to compete in the market, including language that cements the union’s place in the market. No one in their right mind or who has been paying attention for the last few years, believes that CANORML, ASA, or UFCW have their best interests in mind. It is obvious that they have all been bought or paid for by someone at this point.

Yes…. I have been, and will continue to be, a thorn in the side of anyone whose efforts support restrictions and compromise based on interests that have to do with money and nothing to do with cannabis freedom. I used to be a huge supporter of Americans for Safe Access, but their culture and mission obviously changed in recent years and I can not support a lot of what they are doing. I also like UFCW’s efforts in a lot of ways, but understand that they are a union and that at the end of the day they cannot really be trusted. They have an agenda, and that agenda is UFCW. While their political influence is certainly welcome, when it is influenced by the few and used to limit the industry more than it need be, I take issue. Sorry. Just trying to keep it real.

So here is where the story gets a little more amusing……

In November, for shits and giggles, I checked to see if this ReformCA effort had secured all of their domains. Low and behold, I found out that ReformCa.org and ReformCA.info were still available. So I bought them because I am a funny guy. I figured if a group was not sophisticated enough to secure their own domains then they certainly were not capable of running a campaign for cannabis legalization in a state the size of California. I parked the domains for a while, knowing soon enough someone would come looking for them.

Sure enough, three days before Christmas I get the following email, as well as a couple of panicked voice mails:

Howdy Mickey!

Hope this finds you well!  I understand you were kind enough to take ReformCA.org off the market in November, and I am circling around to find out what I need to do to get it into our wheelhouse.  CC’ing Brian, who helps with such things…
Are you living out east permanently now?  Trying to catch up, you are a busy guy!
Dale Sky Jones
Oaksterdam University
Executive Chancellor
Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform
Chairwoman

At this point I am giggling, because I am childish. Obviously someone realized what a huge fuck up this was, and then they realized it was an asshole like me who had control of their domains. Welcome to the show. All of the sudden they wanted to talk now. Still a little butthurt from the overt exclusion, I did not return the calls or email. Instead I began to think about ways to use their incompetence to learn a valuable lesson. I decided that instead of negotiate with folks who I had zero confidence in, that I would instead build my own informative website that was open an information portal to promote the discussion of the many aspects of what an initiative will need to be, as well as what initiatives are being proposed by the many different groups.

I then created the site ate ReformCA.org. It was modeled after MoveOn.org as an effort to set an example for how we should be approaching the issue of cannabis reform in California. The site was meant to promote an open dialogue among the community and have a safe space to share ideas on what we all want as a community for the industry to look like; as well as what we thought about the efforts being put forth. It also served the purpose of driving people crazy too; but that is just a bonus. I truly believe that before we get too far down the yellow brick road and hand over the industry to the highest bidder, we should really figure out what the fuck we want and what the fuck we need in a cannabis reform law. So the site was really more of a lead by example effort.

Reform.FB.cover.1

Currently I have a breakdown of the different aspects of cannabis legalization laws with an easy to register discussion section under each topic on our Discussion page. I also have four of the filed initiatives up with discussion portals for folks to review and discuss on our Initiatives page. While I am doing my best to put the site together, it is a side project so it is a work in progress. But it is a cool site that I hope will become the home for a lot of this discussion as the race for 2016 heats up.

So needless to say, my development of this page made the folks at ReformCA a little upset. I was contacted by one of their Board members who I am friends with, and asked to come speak to the group to discuss possible resolution. I agreed to come present to them at their Board meeting in May to discuss the website and their efforts.

So I shit you not….. I walk into Oaksterdam for the meeting and sitting around the table are Dale Sky Jones, Dale Gieringer, Richard Lee, Jeff Jones, Debby Goldsberry, and Jim Gonzales, who was noticeably absent from their Board listing on their site. On the phone was Don Duncan and Kristen Nevedal. Upon my entering Dale G. gets up and walks out. Don and Kristen immediately announce that they are hanging up the call. It is always nice to start a negotiation with almost half of the Board turning their back on the issue. I knew it was going to be my kind of meeting.

I began by presenting the Board with my 2016 Cannabis Adult Use Legalization Guide, a 15 page document spelling out my positions on what legalization efforts should look like in CA. The remaining members of the Board were very cordial, including Jim Gonzales who I had never met before. We had a robust discussion that went far over the 5 minute presentation I had planned. Dale and Debby engaged me in conversation about my opinions and experiences in the industry. We discussed the current madness that is shaping up for election season, and made nice for most of our discussion.

Then I stated the obvious…. “No one knows who the fuck you are.”

It seemed a little shocking I guess at first, but it was true. Everyone I had spoke with was confused as to who was putting the ReformCA efforts forward. Many in the cannabis movement/industry are highly skeptical of ReformCA and much of that hostility comes from having the same people being the spokespersons for their efforts who had previously failed. As discussed, the failure of Prop. 19 divided this community severely, and I still have arguments about it to this day. As I looked around the room, and got a clearer picture of what the group was up to, I began to feel uneasy. None of us can afford another failure in CA. None of us. But here we were trying to do the same thing and expecting different results. It seemed like insanity to me. Political and social suicide really. I would almost agree with Bill Zimmerman in his “shut the fuck up and let DPA do it” assertion rather than have these folks lead the charge again. I love Richard, Dale, and Jeff in their own rights for their work, but I think they need to pass the torch to people who are not so representative of days past and our failures as a community. Add to that the mistrust put forth by Dale G., Dan Rush, and Don Duncan and the whole deal seemed like a recipe for disaster.

I also asked them, “What exactly are you trying to do here?” This is where it got a little weird. They did not seem to have consensus really. I asked if they were developing their own language to file with the State, and got two different answers that were basically rectified with a “we can’t exactly say” sort of response. From the best I could figure out, they were hoping to work with DPA on drafting their language, and wanted to be the campaign committee for the effort. But admitedly, it was not super clear, even after asking a couple of times point blank,

The website discussion was humorous. I was honest and told them that it initially started out as a prank, but had evolved. I also told them I invested in developing the site because I believed it was a good model for the community moving forward. Jim looks right at me and asks, “So what do you want? Money?” I sort of laughed and told him that it was not about money. Dale Sky Jones told me how I was causing too much confusion and how they were holding some promotions until it was figured out. I told them to email me more about their efforts and that we could possibly find a workable solution to get them their domain back.

So a few days later I got this email with a subject line of “Thank you”:

Hi Mickey,

I wanted to thank you for coming to chat with us on Friday. Debby has forwarded your presentation to the entire board. We kept the official meeting going so we could also provide minutes of your presentation, and our chat to any board members not present or unable to stay (we often have folks drop off before the end of the 1.5 hour call as it occurs in the business day). We just completed the notes and will be sending those around as well.

I must say the presentation you provided was very helpful. I know we only agreed to a five min board presentation, but I personally wanted to dive deeper with you, and I appreciate you doing so as it gave us valuable insight and ideas.

I updated the Trippi team on Sat and asked to them to look into options. I have a meeting today about the website to discuss implementing the suggestions and improvements to outgoing communication you inspired. We are contemplating several different ways to do it, and also clarifying what roles we can play in making it happen.

As you can imagine it is always tricky getting this many groups to agree on what gets posted, as we are still traveling the state, learning more and gaining consensus, however the next two months will prove enlightening as we narrow the focus and get drafting.

In the meantime, we can certainly improve communication about who we are and what we are doing as we find ways to open it up for those who have not attended a meeting.

I hope to chat soon about the .org now that you’ve had time to think about what you feel is a fair price. We are a non-profit and struggle for donations like most do, however the board feels you should be compensated for your investment if you will simply turn it over. With that said, I thought I heard you (someone?) say $2,000. I do not want to haggle or start negotiating below $1,000 and cheapen the conversation. If 2k will convince you to turn the site over, I will approve it immediately so we can all move on and focus on what is at hand.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Dale Sky Jones
Executive Chancellor
Oaksterdam University
Chairwoman
Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform

I left the meeting that day feeling terrible, after giving Dale an insincere hug and shaking Richard Lee’s hand. I began to think more and more about the whole deal, and realized that we were doomed if this is what we were going with. It was a recipe for disaster. It made me sick to my stomach to think about, and I could not muster the strength to go through the bullshit we went through last time all over again because of pride and self-righteousness. There was just too much at stake to risk making the same mistake twice.

So I responded with this email:

Hey Dale et. al,

Thanks for letting me come in and discuss my ideas for 2016 with the group. I have spent the last week plus thinking about the experience and working to reconcile the many things we discussed. I have also spent more time on your other site reviewing your Board and its mission.

Yes. I was taken aback, but not surprised, that Dale Geiringer walked out, and Don and Kristen hung up the call before I could have a chance to speak; but I will take your word that it was more of a coincidence than hurt feelings based on past criticisms of mine. Such is life. It is tough being the messenger sometimes.

All that being said, I will be completely honest with you. I think the way your group is structured right now is an absolute recipe for disaster within the cannabis community, and likely even more so outside of the cannabis community. The figureheads and stakeholders you have lined up to lead the charge, in my opinion, are severely problematic.

For starters, you, Jeff, and Richard being the faces of the organization will be your downfall. You guys know that I defended the Prop 19 effort vigorously and often by my damn self. Most of your team could not be bothered to rise up and meet the many criticisms you and the initiative faced for whatever reason, leaving folks like me and Chris Conrad to take the heat and try to make people understand that for all of its flaws, Prop 19 would have been far better than what we had. I have been a vocal advocate for Richard and his willingness to put himself in the line of fire for the 19 effort. I have taken a lot of shit for that position over the years and still have many arguments to this day based on those positions. I do not regret that for a minute.

But the campaign was an absolute failure in the eyes of many, and sending out the same team to try and push a new initiative would be one of the most strategically bizarre moves ever conceived in politics. There is a reason the Republicans begged Mitt Romney not to run again. Because he is the face of losing and mistrust… and for better or worse, right or wrong, you, Richard, and Jeff are also the face of losing in the cannabis world. Your inability to combat the lies and misinformation in that campaign have festered for many years and have left A LOT of the community thinking you do not have their best interests in mind. That is no position to start a new campaign effort from.

Add in the likes of Dan Rush, Don Duncan, and Dale Geiringer, and what you have is a shit show. No one is going to follow those Generals into battle. It just isn’t going to happen. Sorry. They have spent too much time and energy lobbying for restrictions and working to undermine the movement for anyone to feel comfortable that they have our back on this effort. I will point you to the LA debacle with Proposition D as an example where UFCW and ASA worked together to restrict permitting and create an environment that made several hundred operating businesses and their clients criminals again. Dale G. also represents a lot of bad decision making by people who the community thought were supposed to have their backs. Having these elements on your team does nothing but elicit mistrust within the community.

You are also missing a lot of the new cannabis industry players in your mix, either by design, or because they simply want nothing to do with your old guard approach. I am not sure whose idea it was to comprise a group of people, who while they are supposed leaders due to their title and pedigree, are simply not. There are a lot of viable people working hard to make a difference in cannabis reform, and the most dynamic are nowhere to be found in your circle at this time.

I was going to solicit a bunch of questions in hopes that you could enlighten me as to why this was a good idea, but after doing some soul searching I will just say that I do not have confidence at all in the team you have assembled, and cannot support the effort as it stands. I can only hope that whoever decides to fund this thing moves in a different direction and forms a more solid coalition of people that I, and the rest of the community, can believe in. It is not personal by any means, but we also cannot rewrite history. We have all staked out our positions in the madness that is the California cannabis landscape. Unfortunately, many on your team have taken positions that directly contradict the principles of cannabis freedom; and more so some flat out lack ethics and morality and have already proven they will sell us out for a bag of silver.

So now that we have gotten past the niceties and concerns, let’s talk business…. As I stated in the meeting, I have no interest in money. I know how to make money if I need it. But at this point it is principle. I invested over $2k into getting the site reformca.org up and running, and have put a great deal of time and effort into the project. Why? To be a thorn in your side of course. No one called me or invited me to any meetings to discuss the effort, and that is fine. Who the fuck am I anyway? But what I saw happening is a group of entitled people coming together to coronate themselves prom queen in this effort, and I simply was not feeling it. I built reformca.org as an information portal where the community could come together to discuss the efforts being put forth and have an open and honest dialogue on the merits of these efforts. Your input the other day lets me know you do not really have those same interests, and are looking for more of a tunnel vision approach. Much to my surprise, I have faced more hurdles because people think I am you than you probably have by people thinking you were me. LOL. Just so you know, people have very real and meaningful concerns about your effort and many are not feeling it. At least that is what my initial feedback has produced. It is also very worrisome to me to think that a group who cannot even secure their own web domains would be in charge of any campaign for adult use cannabis legalization in California. Don’t you agree? I mean, if you cannot handle the small stuff, how can anyone trust you with the big stuff? You want me to put my future in the hands of people who are obviously incompetent and who admit they do not have the time, energy, or resources to roll this thing out right? No thanks.

But if you want the domain back, I will tell you what…. I will do it for $5k and then donate anything over the costs I have incurred back to whatever campaign effort forms down the road after it makes the ballot. This offer is good until June 1, and then the price will be $10k. If that sounds good let me know and I will forward you my bank account information and you can deposit it directly. I have been adimately clear in all of my communications that I have no issue taking hostages if need be to push the agenda of cannabis freedom. I hope this makes it clear that this is 100% true. I may not have a fancy group or title to stand behind, but I am more than willing to use whatever influence I have to make sure that this thing is done right and that the law we are left with represents the many, not the few. Your team does not impress me as having those same goals given their track records.

Thanks for your time and energy on this. I look forward to discussing mutual goals.

Regards,

Mickey Martin

Self-Appointed Leader of the Weed Movement

So here we are at an old fashioned Mexican standoff. June 1st has come and gone, so if they want their site back they can cough up $10k. Otherwise, fuck it. We can continue the charade and they can keep selling wolf tickets to their coronation dance. I will keep developing the information on my site in hopes of at least reaching some folks, and having a discussion on the legalization efforts we see going forward. I have nothing to lose. I am already an outcast from these circles of yes men and sellouts, as noted by half of them walking out before my presentation. So let’s not bullshit each other and pretend their s going to be some huge kumbaya moment, and the years of deception and failed politics will somehow just dissipate.

The coming months will be telling, and it is up to us as a community to decide if we want to continue down the path of failed leadership because of a warped sense of ownership of this industry by folks who have a great deal of baggage. Or do we want to demand new leadership and direction from people we can trust to represent the needs of the many, and not just the few? I think it is long time for change in the industry, and while I am not necessarily qualified to decide who and what are appropriate leadership and directions for everyone, I do know that continuing down the same path that has left us vulnerable for nearly two decades is not a viable option.

So there you have the tale of ReformCA vs. ReformCA.org. Funny not funny really; but we all knew it was going to be a fight, so is anyone really surprised? I didn’t think so. Selah.

2016 Cannabis Adult Use Legalization Guide

hemp_field_foto_vast_from_hempglobalsolutionscom

Cannabis Landscape Overview

What an interesting and exciting time for cannabis this is. With four states and D.C. legalizing cannabis for adult use and dozens of states working to implement medical cannabis programs, cannabis is becoming more widely accepted in our society. Every day new opportunities arise and new challenges are faced. As cannabis returns to the mainstream of society there are both external and internal forces at work to consider.

Colorado and Washington continue to face issues due to over-regulation and increased barriers in their programs. Challenges are to be expected, as we work out the details to ending prohibition; but many of the challenges we face were avoidable with more thorough and well-thought language written into these laws. We are beginning to see issues take hold in Oregon, as well, as they develop the parameters of the new adult use legalized industry there. These are the laboratories of democracy that face the uncertainty of what cannabis legalization should look like head on. What we have seen in the early stages of development in these states is an industry struggling to find itself, and its voice, in the community. Real life challenges, including the inability to establish banking, has left the cannabis industry frustrated and searching for answers. There has been an influx of capital in these states using their funding and influence to manipulate regulations and laws to suit their business needs. Some of the over-burdensome regulations in these states have made the playing field far from level.

Each of these programs has their own unique matters of concern to consider, as new laws are strategized and developed across the country for 2016. It is important to learn from avoidable missteps and create language that accomplishes the simple overall objective of creating a cannabis landscape where adults can grow, possess, and use cannabis freely without fear of arrest; and an industry that is fair that serves the interest of the consumer by providing high quality cannabis products at the greatest value. The potential global market for cannabis is immense and should not be left to chance. The laws being created now, and the programs that accompany them, will lay the groundwork for how cannabis is understood and accepted in our society. It is a great responsibility to ensure that what is put on the ballot is meaningful and accomplishes this objective. There is no room for error due to political showmanship and lack of camaraderie. It is time for the adults in the room to make the tough decisions for this industry moving forward that take into account the bigger picture, and which defend the rights and freedoms and cannabis users and cannabis providers.

In order to achieve a more perfect cannabis industry there is a need to find a unilateral consensus on major issues facing the reform community. There are no winners and losers in this process of developing laws, but it will require certain sacrifices and understanding from all major stakeholders. No one is going to get everything they want in any law that is written, and certainly there will be objections from both allies and opposition forces. But it is imperative that the laws being developed represent the interests of the many and not the few. It is important to consider the models being put forth currently, and create language that solves common problems and increases cannabis freedom.

What we are seeing both in medical and adult use markets across the country is a knee jerk reaction by prohibitionists fueled by exploitive media reporting working to undermine these programs and the evolving industry. Several medical programs are under attack, and there are many issues facing the programs we see in early development in states like Massachusetts and Illinois. There is a growing effort to limit medical cannabis laws to CBD only legislation in several states. There is a growing divide of interests within the cannabis community, as these issues continue to cloud the landscape. There is a great deal of uncertainty and fear by people who have dedicated their life to cannabis. Many of these people are rightfully concerned by the evolution of cannabis laws and regulations, as the extreme barriers to entry and unnecessary limitations have made it difficult for small operators to compete and thrive. There are also notable limitations on consumer rights that have created a tangled web of inconsistent implementation of cannabis laws.

It is natural for people to resist change. There will always be a certain population of the reform community who will romance the golden age of cannabis and who are resistant to inevitable change. I think we all have certain norms and expectations that are threatened by cannabis becoming another boring good that is bought and sold by people across the globe. Cannabis is a commodity. The industry that will develop around that commodity is only beginning to be seen. We are at a unique point in history that requires us to rise up and meet the incredible challenges that we face in order to create something special and lasting that we can all be proud of.

California is by far the biggest piece of the cannabis landscape to consider in the equation, making up over 10% of the nation’s population and which is a major producer of agricultural based commodities. California is the mecca of cannabis and is responsible for most of the innovations in the industry we have seen over the past decades. It is an amazing testament that Proposition 215 has withstood the test of time and that SB420 has enabled us to create such an incredible mosaic of cannabis producers and providers throughout the state. What makes the California cannabis market great is that there are so many people involved, and there is a level of cooperation and competition that are unmatched anywhere in the world. Because everyone in the State operates under the pretense of a ‘collective or cooperative,” it has opened up for interpretation for many unique and innovative business models to serve the sophisticated needs of today’s cannabis consumer. There are many who have questioned the validity of the California program, but there is no questioning the success of a program that serves over a million cannabis consumers every day with very little incident of harm; and which provides real economic impact to the communities where cannabis is tolerated and allowed. Yet there are still large areas of the state where cannabis is not tolerated and the broad interpretation of the law has posed continuing legal issues for patients and providers. There are virtually no protections anywhere in the state for those who cultivate cannabis or who produce cannabis finished products.

There is a well-established medical cannabis industry here that will need to be interpreted and considered in any initiative effort for the state. We clearly see in Washington State what could happen to a developed medical industry that lacks real definition and protection at the state level, as they work to shut down hundreds of dispensaries there. That is a very real scenario for California, and the issue most likely to affect buy in from the community on initiative language that is being considered. There are several laws also being considered in the State Legislature that could pass before the election in 2016. All of these factors have to be considered in writing adult use language, as the two issues are not separate by any means. That being said, many in the medical community will need to come to terms and reconsider the fact that anyone who grows, processes, transports, or sells cannabis is a “collective” which does not have clear definition, and which is interpreted very loosely across the medical cannabis spectrum. We can no longer look to the 2008 AG Guidelines as a responsible way of doing business. There must be a defined process for medical cannabis patients, caregivers, and providers to continue to have the same freedoms they have now, while also taking into account the norms of the medical and alternative medicines industries.

Add to that the many differing opinions on a variety of topics, from personal cultivation to regulating concentrates, and it is easy to see how difficult the development process might be. It is worth it though. We must rise to the occasion and have the difficult conversations to ensure the laws we see enacted in California, and across the nation and world, are reflective of the ethics and morality that we wish the movement and industries to be. We have an incredible opportunity ahead to create something that achieves cannabis freedom and is a model for ending prohibition around the world.

Extraordinary Challenges

There will be no shortage of battles, as the 2016 election cycle heats up. There will be extraordinary challenges faced both from within the cannabis community and from those who oppose cannabis. Nothing should be taken for granted, and whatever campaign forms to lead the charge should be prepared to fight for every vote. There is severe mistrust within the cannabis community, and many are rightfully skeptical. It is going to take a great deal of outreach and education to sell any effort to the community, and there is sure to be a great deal of criticism to overcome. The easiest way to resolve matters effectively and timely is to commit to 100% transparency in the development process and find a reputable team of ambassadors to educate the community on every aspect of the initiative being written. If there are strategic reasoning and evidence for certain controversial aspects of language being considered it is imperative to be ready to make that case publicly and in real time before the cannabis rumor mill spins out of control. While the industry continues to expand, it is still a relatively tight knit group of people who have vast communication networks. Social media and internet outlets enable for information to travel fast, and it is important to stay ahead of the game.

It would be unwise to take the cannabis vote for granted and to try and pass an initiative without consideration of the industry and movement at large. While cannabis users and supporters make up a fraction of the vote, know that all of those people have family and friends who look to them for their opinion on these matters. While it is impossible to make everyone happy, it would be a mistake to not at least give people the opportunity to express their opinion on matters; and to work to provide relevant information to overcome perceptions and disagreeable terms in the language. It is also important to keep an open mind to suggestion from real people who use and provide cannabis every day. While it is clear that the industry will change over time, it is important to ensure the language developed is as inclusive as possible of those who have dedicated their time, energy, and resources to cannabis.  At the same time it is not realistic to try and serve the direct interests of those who are already in business and who are “licensed.” There is no real licensing for the entire manufacturing and producing of cannabis industry in the state now, so propping up the retail sector would be unwise. The only way to ensure fairness is to create an industry that is fair for anyone to enter should they choose. It should limit the barriers to entry and provide groundwork for how the program is to be implemented, not leaving important details up to regulators and legislators to work out later.

It would also be unwise to underestimate external opposition, especially from law enforcement, public officials, and even Kevin Sabet’s minions. They understand the magnitude of a cannabis victory in California and will wage an aggressive campaign here to undermine the campaign for adult use legalization at any cost. It will take a meaningful public awareness campaign to combat their fear mongering and hyperbole. It is important to consider opposition argument when developing the language, but not to overestimate the power of these arguments in such a way that creates unnecessary burdens for cannabis users and providers. There are areas of the language that will be distorted and twisted regardless, and it is the responsibility of the campaign to overcome opposition with sound argument and education. We must learn from other efforts and also current events where the opposition will most likely make their stand, and be prepared to counteract those efforts accordingly. The opposition has access to media and political contacts that have to be considered in the development of any strategic planning for a successful campaign. This thing is no way in the bag, and we can be sure those who hate cannabis freedom will be out in full force working to scare the bejeezus out of the average voter. They will focus heavily on scaring parents, as that demographic is still difficult for us to overcome. We must be prepared to have the difficult conversation of why making criminals of cannabis users and providers has been a real disaster, and a huge financial burden. It will also be necessary to heavily lobby the conservative right with a message of freedom and personal responsibility.

While the challenges of the 2016 campaign season are just beginning to come into focus, the cannabis community needs to find areas of common ground in which to build consensus. The right hand must talk to the left, and there has to be real leadership that people can be confident in to advance the objectives of any campaign that develops. The campaign will require a high level of sophistication and messaging will be incredibly important. Finding highly qualified and likable people to undertake these difficult roles can be a real determining factor in the success or failure of this effort. The team compiled to speak on behalf of the campaign must be competent and capable of problem solving on their feet. It will be a fast paced atmosphere that requires incredible organization and communication skills to meet the challenges head on.

Realistic Objectives

It is a fine line between treated like tomatoes and secured like Fort Knox. Someone has to make the difficult decisions on language that will affect how cannabis is consumed, cultivated, processed, and distributed for decades to come. While there is varying consensus on any range of issues, from personal consumption matters like social clubs and possession limits to commercial regulatory schemes for the industry, the objective should be able to provide as much cannabis freedom as is reasonable; and create an industry where a level playing field will allow free market principles to decide success. It is a delicate balance, and obviously “realistic” can be a severely objective term. It is a huge responsibility to decide the parameters of ending cannabis prohibition. It would be smart to really consider a global cannabis market and what it would take for the industry to accommodate that market should Federal prohibition end tomorrow. Chances are the end is closer than we think.

Thinking small and leaving to much discretion to state agencies has been a mistake in both Colorado and Washington thus far, and it would seem Oregon is heading down a similar path. It would bode well to define clearly all of the aspects of the industry and to include clear direction as to how the industry is to operate and be governed. There must be a reasonable exchange of ideas on these matters, while maintaining a realistic outlook as to what can first and foremost win an election. Campaigns that lose are worthless. It is important to include sensible limitations that still provide enough freedom for the average cannabis user and home grower. There also has to be a clear path for the commercial industry that gives confidence to voters that the industry will be safe and a contributing part of society.

It would be a critical mistake to allow knee jerk responses to public criticism by opposition forces to influence the language. While we should not give our opponents reason to sound the alarms by including language that could be deemed irresponsible, we should also not cower to assumed politics and have faith that a powerful campaign message can overcome common criticism, as long as the language is reasonable. Figuring out what those reasonable objectives are is an incredible responsibility, and should not be taken lightly. Everyone must understand that there will be uncomfortable compromise, and we must stay focused on the big picture aspects of cannabis legalization. What we want and what we need are two different things, and many of us are going to have to accept aspects of the proposed law that we do not necessarily agree with. But with an open and transparent discussion, we can make the case openly and work to educate people who have an interest in cannabis freedom.

The Purpose of Adult Use Legalization Laws

What are we trying to accomplish? Mostly we want adults to be able to possess and use cannabis for spiritual, enjoyable, medical and any other use they see fit. We are working to end the stigma of cannabis prohibition and return cannabis to its rightful place in our society. We want to make cannabis boring again.

Any law created should create an industry that ultimately benefits the cannabis consumer, and which is open and transparent. We need not further cloud the landscape with overly burdensome restrictions aimed at providing false senses of security to those who oppose our efforts. The purpose of any adult use legalization law should be cannabis freedom. There will be inevitable limitations that will need to be included, but we must not jump the shark with overzealous details that limit fair play in an open and inclusive industry.

We want to remove all criminal penalties for cannabis from the books, and encourage the release of persons incarcerated for cannabis crimes. In doing so, we must consider where civil penalties may still exist for infractions of the law, including sales to children and unsavory business practice. We want to also ensure voters of public safety and responsibility.

It is imperative to consider the current Federal landscape of cannabis tolerance; and also create language that is timeless which can withstand the evolution of Federal laws in coming years. There is also a matter of revenues, which is the carrot on the horse for a lot of voters. It is important to define reasonable limitations on sin taxes for cannabis clearly in the language, and limit the industry’s long term responsibilities. Ultimately the goal for any adult use legalization law is to win the election come November 2016. Finding a path to victory that is fair and equitable for the most people should be the main objective.

A Level Playing Field for All

One of the biggest fears of those in the cannabis community is that they are going to be left out of the new industry because they will not be able to compete with big money interests. They worry that the new law will create a system that is too burdensome for them to be a part of due to heavy licensing fees and cumbersome regulation. There are also those pressing to make an exception of sorts for already established cannabis businesses to ensure some protection from larger interests. The only answer is a truly level playing field for all.

It is important to create a law that is fair and just. That includes creating a competitive industry model that rewards those who provide the highest quality goods and services at the best value for the end user. We must create a space for everyone who wants to be a part of the industry to exist, as long as they meet certain requirements. We must create an industry that is fair for both large and small business owners to compete. This is not an impossible task. We see a lot of small business models thriving in the beer and wine industries. In fact, the licensing set up for alcohol is a pretty good model for adult use cannabis, where licenses are provided for both large and small batch production and growing of raw materials. There is licensing for retail establishments, social establishments and events, as well as different scales of production based on batch size and products. It would not be a bad idea to consider a three tiered system like they do for alcohol as well, with your raw cannabis being treated like beer, solventless concentrates and products being treated like wine, and solvent-based and intensive production products being treated like hard liquor. I think we can all agree there is no shortage of liquor in our society, and that entering the alcoholic beverage industry is relatively easy for most to do, should they so choose. It is also an industry that allows for people to produce beer and wine for personal consumption, so it is easily relatable in that regard.

While I am not a fan of the “Regulate Like Alcohol” tag line for a campaign, I do think that the booze industry has a relatively level playing field, and that alcohol regulations in our society are very liberal. That is what I would like to see for cannabis too. I would like to see cannabis available as commonly as alcohol products, and it will take a level playing field for the industry to accomplish that. One can hope that the evolution of the cannabis industry will be more conscious that the alcohol industry has been over the years, but that will come from consumer demand. We must trust that free market principles will prevail in the industry long term. Quality and value will overcome supply and demand. Those who compete will be successful.

Defining the Entire Cannabis Continuum

One of the biggest mistakes we could make is not clearly defining all aspects of the cannabis continuum. Choosing to willingly leave out certain topics because they are deemed political liabilities is a poor strategy. We MUST include the entire industry into the language to assure that the industry includes all cannabis users and producers’ needs. It does not make sense to simply exclude parts of the industry that are more controversial because it is perceived to be more of a political risk. If we fail to include major sectors of the industry, such as BHO or edible production, we are possibly excluding those types of products from the cannabis marketplace; and simply creating another need for black market distribution to meet the demand for those types of products.

The definitions of the language are important; and their content, and more specifically that actual wording that defines what the many aspects of the cannabis industry are, should be examined closely for accuracy and clarity. These are the definitions that will guide the industry for decades to come, and it does not serve us well to simply cut and paste terms that are outdated or inaccurate from other erroneous legislation. Each term must be carefully considered and worded in a way that will promote cannabis freedom, and not leave room for misinterpretation.

Cannabis Rights and Freedoms

What rights and freedoms will this law grant? This is the million dollar question, and where many folks will stake their allegiance or opposition to the proposed law. What rights and freedoms come with the deal? How much weed can they possess? How much can they grow? These rights/limitations are crucial in the process. There are also the rights and freedoms of commercial entities that must be considered. It is a lot to deal with, but must be clearly spelled out in the language to ensure protections for cannabis users and providers. There are also medical cannabis protections that need to be maintained and protected.

The objective is to create language that promotes personal freedom of cannabis users, as well as creates a fair and inclusive industry to best serve the interests of the community. We should envision a long-term solution to current problems and anticipated issues as cannabis becomes a global market. Keeping people from getting arrested, losing their kids, losing jobs, and being discriminated against in society is the first goal; but we must also consider the long game and what this law will look like five, ten, and twenty years from now. The rights and freedoms granted here will likely be the foundation for cannabis reform for decades to come, so it is important to get it right.

Repealing Prohibition Laws

It is necessary to repeal the current laws that prohibit cannabis laws, and replace any laws that are to remain with civil penalties instead of criminal. We must look deeply at all areas of the law that cannabis prohibition has creeped into, including public housing limitations and use by people on probation and parolees. We must be sure to not miss any aspect of repealing these laws that have terrorized our communities for decades. We must ensure there is zero ability for unfair enforcement because we did not specify the repeal of prohibition laws enough. We must be thorough in this regard.

The Need for Clear Regulatory Framework

There have been many valuable lessons learned from laws both here in California and across the nation where cannabis implementation is concerned. There are understandable growing pains, and then there are matters that could have been easily solved by providing more detail in the law when it was written.

There has been a clear desire to over-regulate many aspects of the industry both by those who oppose cannabis, and often from those within our community. At times, we have been willing to compromise away our rights and best business practices to appease those who will never be convinced that cannabis is safe, enjoyable, and helpful. So when I refer to the “need for clear regulatory framework” I am not calling for a host of burdensome regulation. What I am suggesting is the need to clearly spell out the least burdensome options in the language and not leave the rules of the road for legislators or officials to decide. I believe if we want to model the industry after other industries that are relevant, such as agriculture or alcohol, then we should include those regulatory structures into the actual language to avoid possible confusion or misinterpretation by regulators.

There is no need for cannabis to face unfair regulatory scrutiny because of decades of misinformation of the drug war. We must lay out what the regulations are in the language to avoid an industry that is beholden to forces that oppose cannabis, or those who want to corner the market for personal gain.

Personal Possession, Cultivation, and Production

What is allowed by the average Joe? How much can they carry on them? Possess in their homes? Cultivate at their homes or on private property? What types of finished products can they produce for personal use? This is where you are going to find opposition from within if the law does not provide adequate freedoms to the average cannabis user. As stated previously, while the cannabis user is a small portion of the voting public, most everyone has a stoner friend or family member that they will ask for advice in voting on this law. It is important to grant enough rights for most people to be comfortable that they can grow or produce their own cannabis and products if they choose, while not making it so liberal as to allow opposition forces to frame it as a free for all with no boundaries.

So what are good limitations? With cultivation you are likely looking at plant numbers or canopy size. If I were doing plant numbers I would probably consider 20 plants to be reasonable per person, and if I were considering canopy I would think that 100 square feet may be suitable per individual. Then you have to consider how many individuals per residence or property. Can 5 people all grow at the same residence or facility? Where are the limits drawn?

How about possession? We have seen one ounce be allowed in other states. While an ounce is a good amount of weed, why is it a good metric for what people are allowed to possess? Do we have similar limitations on any other products in our society that we can think of? Why are we attempting to limit exactly how much cannabis a person can possess at any given time? What problem are we trying to solve here? Nobody blinks an eye when some old man goes to Costco and fills a cart with cheap vodka. Does it make sense to limit personal possession amounts for one reason or another? I have yet to hear a very good argument for the one ounce deal. It would seem an unnecessary aspect that for some reason has become a gold standard in adult use legalization. Is it time to shift that paradigm?

What about producing hash, edibles, topical products, and other applications at home or on private property for personal use? Should we limit the use of solvents for hash making at home, much the way people are not supposed to make hard alcohol? If we do, we should also make the penalties for doing so similar to those for illegally making hard liquor at home, and not a major crime. Anything that is disallowed by the language created will certainly still be a part of the illegal market, but it is important to also make the penalties reasonable for violations. Do we limit the amounts of certain products that can be created for personal use? There are limits on beer and wine production for a calendar year, but they are fairly liberal. Can we establish liberal baselines for these areas that allow plenty of freedom for those who cultivate and produce their own cannabis products that afford them protections in the law?

While big business and the perceived industry is sexy and all, it is important to remember that this effort is about making life better for the average cannabis user and affording them the rights and freedom to possess, grow, and create cannabis products for their personal use and consumption. Like most other available commodities, most will likely choose to be a part of the commercial marketplace; but having the right to possess and produce cannabis should be at the forefront of the discussion in creating any law.

Commercial Cultivation and Production

The most incredible part of the California cannabis landscape in its current evolution is that 99.99% of commercial production and cultivation is not licensed or regulated anywhere. It is an unspoken truth that lives in the gray area of the law. Everyone in California is a collective or cooperative, whether you are a retailer, a grower, or a producer of finished products. Even the labs are some weird hybrid of one of these unclear business models. This fact poses several challenges to licensing the industry as we know it.

How do we bring the production sector of the industry into compliance, while understanding that most still operate in mostly clandestine scenarios across the state? How can businesses that have been operating for many years apply for licensing that will not compromise their operations as they reveal themselves publicly? What risks are posed by doing so? Is there a need to rectify existing business models in the language; or do we consider the adult use industry a clean slate from which to build?

Who regulates the commercial production aspects of the industry? Does it make sense for the Department of Agriculture to oversee commercial cultivation? Or does an entity like ABC make more sense? Or do we want to create an entirely new entity to oversee the whole industry? Or does it make more sense to integrate the industry into one, or several, existing entities? We must also be aware of organized labor’s desires to penetrate the production and retail sectors of the industry and influence this aspect of the process. While their political influence can be helpful, we must not trade away commercial producers’ and their employees’ rights to choose to be a part of union activities or not.

Commercial cultivators and producers have been left out in the cold in this industry. They are afforded very little protections in an industry that has been influenced by limited permitting for retail outlets, making the retailers gatekeepers in many respects. What we must consider in the creating of this law is that commercial manufacturing and production will drive this industry in the future, just like it does every other industry on earth. Budweiser can live without your liquor store, but believe your liquor store must have Budweiser. The cannabis market will evolve, and both small and large producers of cannabis and cannabis products must be well represented and protected in the initiative language.

Retailers

Because retailers are really the only ones afforded any clear protections under the current medical cannabis system in California, there is a certain desire to protect those interests and investments. Some have suggested giving currently licensed medical establishments a two year head start, much like we saw in Colorado. That is not a viable solution, as the results there were that many sold their interests in these businesses, and a lot of the market was homogenized and limited. Now that the two years have passed there is an increase in businesses competing, and the result is better quality and lower prices for the consumer. We should not make the same mistake trying to protect the interests of those who have been lucky enough to be in an area of the state where cannabis is allowed and regulated. Those entities will already have an advantage in any local licensing matters if they have been good stewards of their communities.

What we should encourage in the law is an open cannabis market for adult use legalization that encourages cannabis products be dispensed at both specialty retailers and conventional retailers. I would like to see cannabis products integrated into every corner of society, and not place limitations on where it can be bought and sold to meet some idealistic quality we imagine people want to see. Retail outlets compete for customers through providing great service, quality products, and good values for their clients. People who want to be a part of the emerging industry should have to compete for customers just as if they were opening any other business. We should not limit too strictly where cannabis can be obtained and distributed if we truly want to lay the groundwork for a global cannabis market. Retail licensing, including bar type of establishments, would be well-served by the regulations we see for alcohol establishments. Booze is everywhere, and most people can get a license for retail outlets or bars if they choose to really pursue it.

Edibles

Cannabis foods, drinks, and ingestible products are the fastest growing sector of the cannabis industry. They are also one of the most controversial aspects, garnering a lot of unwarranted media attention due to hyperbolic reporting of isolated incidents in states where cannabis is legal for adults. They are one of the areas that those who oppose cannabis have chosen to take up arms against cannabis, playing on fears of accidental ingestion and psychosis. What is clear is that this is an area of the industry that needs clear definition and an area where any campaign better be prepared to do massive public education and awareness on.

When used responsibly there is no healthier method of ingestion for cannabis. Everyone can agree that people not smoking is a positive thing. But there is a lot of irrational fear about cannabis edible products that need to be examined, defined, and accounted for in the language for adult use legalization. How will these products be regulated and brought to market? What limitations regarding food production are required, and where does edible cannabis production differ from normal food production? How do we manage active ingredient levels to ensure public safety, while still allowing for creative and innovative product development?

Edibles are an important part of the discussion and the language included to define and control their use, production, and distribution should be carefully considered by those creating the language. There should not be a knee-jerk reaction to provide solutions to the trumped up problems the media and drug warriors have created. We are looking for sensible solutions to reasonable problems.

Concentrates

Concentrated cannabis products are growing in popularity, and are one of the areas where the industry is seeing massive innovation. From devices used to extract the cannabinoids, to a wide array of products to consume concentrated products, it is clear that the concentrated cannabis industry is the future. It would be an incredible misstep to leave these products and their methods of production out of the language because of feared blowback due to negative stories we have seen in the press related to explosions due to irresponsible production of BHO and other cannabis products. We can embrace that narrative and explain this is the very reason we must allow for and regulate any extraction that requires special equipment and facilities to produce. The home BHO lab is the new bathtub gin still, and where it has compromised public safety is clear testament to the need for properly regulated production. Just like we regulate the production of many products, including distilled liquor, we can create a space for the production of these products to exist.

Concentrated cannabis products are also the basis for many other finished cannabis products, so it is necessary to ensure they are available if we want an industry that includes a wide variety of product types. Ignoring their importance would be a fatal flaw, and would leave a lot of the current cannabis community and industry lacking real representation. The wise thing to do would be to address the matter head on, and create sensible and reasonable standards for their production.

Medical Use vs. Adult Use

It has been eighteen plus years since California passed Proposition 215 allowing for an affirmative defense for patients. It is hard to believe that this same law still governs most of the cannabis industry to this day. There is something to be said about how it has withstood the test of time. There are also a lot of people who rely on Proposition 215 and SB420 to protect their rights as a qualified patient. This is going to be a loud and vocal contingency that must be heard and respected. It is unclear how to protect the medical cannabis industry due to its lack of definition. We are seeing in Washington State now what can happen as a result of a state program lacking teeth as it is being folded into the adult use sector. How do we protect those who want to remain a medical patient and provider through language in the law without having to more clearly define what is and what is not considered a part of the medical industry? This is a very hard part of the riddle that those crafting this language must consider. They must also consider that there are several bills in the State Legislature that are being considered to reign in the medical cannabis industry. How can any initiative filed account for all of these aspects and possible conclusions; or should it?

Is it easy enough to simply state that, “This law shall not impose on any rights granted under Prop 215, SB420, and the California State Medical Cannabis Program?” Maybe… but it best be worded clearly to really protect those rights and avoid the issues we are seeing elsewhere.

Taxes and Revenue

What about the money? The money is what is going to entice a lot of voters who otherwise could care less about weed. The idea of making additional revenue off of potheads is an enticing. It is also an area where the industry can give away the farm for real, if not reeled in. It may also be good to declare what the funds are to be used for, so that the campaign can promote that “weed will help build schools and pave roads in your community.” That is an easy sell.

It would be smart to include caps on how much the industry can be taxed to make sure that we are not being unfairly targeted for funds because of cannabis being formerly illegal. In other words, let’s not be so happy that they are not beating us up and taking us to jail any more that we agree to give them all of our lunch money. Establishing tax rates that will provide a great deal of revenue, while still making cannabis affordable and limiting burdens on cannabis businesses, is an important function to consider when drafting language.

What about the kids?

A lot of the opposition arguments hinge on the threat to children posed by increased cannabis acceptance in or society. People play on the fears of parents who want the best for their children and they do so by making irrational arguments. We must be prepared to take the message that kids are far better protected by a regulated market, and that the real danger is creating massive amounts of criminals out of our youth for cannabis crimes. We must make them understand that cannabis is not as dangerous as they have been led to believe, and that it would benefit them to make cannabis just another boring thing that adults do like drinking or using tobacco. We cannot afford to concede this argument and give into these irrational fears about cannabis being extremely dangerous. Parents should only hope that their child experiments with cannabis in lieu of the many legal alternatives in their house at any given time, such as booze and pills. The kids will be fine. It is the parents we need to worry about and address accordingly.

Anticipating Opposition

The one thing we can be absolutely sure of in any initiative and campaign to legalize cannabis for adult use is strong opposition. We should not underestimate the opposition and we must anticipate their attacks and be ready to respond promptly. It is a fast paced world we live in where information, and too often misinformation, travel very quickly… especially in cannabis circles. A campaign to legalize weed in California (and any other state) must be prepared to take on the opposition and confront misinformation with sound argument and fact. We must not cower to those who would choose to see millions of our friends and neighbors locked up every year for cannabis. There is a portion of society that will never be on board with cannabis legalization, and that is okay. We only need 51% of people who vote in November 2016 to support us, and we will have to fight our asses off for every one of those votes.

Whoever is leading the strategic efforts of the campaign must view the issue from the oppositions’ perspective to understand their anticipated arguments; and have prepared counter arguments and messaging campaigns ready to launch. We know most of the common opposition arguments, and most are sad and pathetic attempts to live in the past. Our best bet is not to shy away from the argument, but make the arguments early and debunk them accordingly. We must embrace the opposition argument as possibly valid in the eyes of the common voter, and then clearly explain why it is invalid. It will take an organized and disciplined response team to navigate the many opposition arguments that will be formed between now and election day. It is imperative to find spokespeople who are respected and capable to deliver the campaign messaging.

The campaign should also consider and accommodate religious opposition. There are many arguments to be made as to why the current system and laws are inhumane by any religious standards; but it would bode well for us to create educational campaigns that target religious communities and make the case for ending cannabis prohibition on those terms.

The opposition from within the cannabis movement is also a major force to be reckoned with. As previously stated, the easiest way to overcome these factors is absolute transparency, and taking the time to explain and inform people about the reasoning of things. We must be prepared to defend our positions in public and make room for people to disagree and find compromise. Nothing is going to make everyone completely happy, but there are certainly things that are livable and then there are areas where people will take hostages.

Wants vs. Needs

There are some in the cannabis community who have a difficult time distinguishing between wants and needs. This will be a challenge to any group putting forth potential language for the ballot. Unfortunately there are people who want it all and cannot see the line between their wants and the community’s need. While it is important to honor the wants of the many, when developing language it is important to decipher what is actually needed to make the law successful and workable, and which points are simply asking too much. Often, when writing initiative language, it is not what is included that matters as much as what is NOT included. While it is important to detail many parts of the industry to ensure the program is inclusive and complete, there are also areas that may be best left out of the language to avoid confusion or unnecessary political discourse.

It is imperative to make wise decisions as to what our actual needs are as a community and as an industry, and to make sure the language put forth includes ALL of those needs. We can then look at the wants and see what aspects of those may, or may not, be reasonable.

We must also be prepared to make the case as to why certain demands from stakeholders ARE wants and not needs. It is not enough to just say “no” and leave it at that. There must be well-thought arguments that counteract the inevitable criticisms of those who do not get what they want. If left to fester, those who feel slighted without explanation can work as a cancer within the community and erode trust in the effort. While that is bound to happen in some areas, the campaign must be prepared to answer these criticisms quickly, effectively, and publicly to limit the damage from such discourse.

The wants vs. needs aspect of the effort will require real and meaningful conversations and education to overcome the challenges posed by those who inevitably want it all, and who are willing to burn the effort to the ground if they do not get their way. While it is important to make smart decisions, it is just as important to back up those decisions with valid argument and strategic fact. It is not impossible to overcome those who want the moon, but ignoring this contingency would be a critical failure of any campaign effort.

Why You Should Listen To Me…..

I believe I have a unique position in the cannabis movement and industry. I have spent many years working to develop sound business models and regulatory framework for many sectors of the industry. My work as a provider of cannabis medicines predates most of the current industry, and I have maintained an active role in working to legitimize and help the world understand how cannabis can be produced and sold in a legal marketplace. I understand the challenges we face clearly, and have been on the front lines of this battle for a long time.

I have faced the wrath of the Federal government head on, as my businesses and home were raided by the DEA in September of 2007. Our battle with the Feds resulted in no jail time for me or my staff, as both law enforcement officials and a federal judge agreed that we were a model non-profit business providing safe cannabis medicines in a conflicted legal state. Through these battles, I developed a voice for activism and have been a vocal advocate for cannabis freedom at every chance.

I have also written thousands of articles on the cannabis reform movement, and have been unapologetic in my criticisms of many who are public figures within the cannabis industry. While my work has often created hard feelings between myself and major stakeholders in the movement, it has also created a respect level among my colleagues as a person willing to have the difficult conversation and tell the truth regardless of consequence. I am certainly not the most liked person in cannabis reform circles, but there are few who can challenge my commitment to cannabis freedom and my willingness to speak up on any number of issues we face as a community. I have never been here to make friends, but I do believe I have the respect of the majority of my peers.

While I have no interest in joining any campaign effort in an official capacity, you can be sure that I will be a vocal ally or opposition to any effort being put forth. Like it or not, I will offer my input and ideas in a public forum where all can understand and digest my position. There are certain sectors of the industry where I do hold influence, and I will use that influence to rally the troops in support and/or opposition to cannabis legalization efforts that arise.

It is important to understand my position. My goals are not personal, or influenced by my business and/or personal contacts. I just want cannabis freedom…plain and simple. I have no interests beyond creating a society where cannabis is a normal everyday boring commodity, and where people do not have to fear arrest or punishment for their choice to use or produce cannabis. The rest of the argument is invalid if freedom is still limited. I am not an idealistic fool who does not see the massive change we are undertaking with these efforts. I have no desire to romance the past or hang on to “the good old days.” I am fully aware that this will be a hard and difficult process. I hope to provide are realistic outlook for those who look to me for guidance.

While I certainly do not have enough power to make or break a campaign, I can definitely make life easier or more difficult. My choice is obviously to get behind an effort I can believe in and support; but I will make no qualms about taking an unfair and ill-thought effort to task if necessary. I offer my advice and input as a partner for social change, and I would hope that my opinion would be considered in the drafting of the language to be put on the ballot. I believe my insight and understanding of this movement and industry can be a valuable resource moving forward. The stakeholders developing initiatives and eventually a campaign would be well-served by my input. It is their choice to consider or not. I am offering my services and critical eye in hopes of being a useful part of the effort to legalize cannabis for adults in California. I have dedicated a lot of my life to this movement, and believe I can be a helpful asset in developing a law that is inclusive and fair for everyone. I can use my voice to help create understanding and to combat misinformation in the process. I am more than happy to be a voice of reason; and am committed to ensuring the effort put forth is one that we can all be proud of, and which creates a model cannabis industry that meets the needs of our society.

The election is ours to win or lose. I appreciate your time, and am available for more detailed explanations of my positions if necessary. I look forward to the development of cannabis laws that achieve the objectives of cannabis freedom.

THIS REPORT WAS PREPARED BY MICKEY MARTIN CONSULTING AS A RESOURCE TO BE PRESENTED TO MAJOR STAKEHOLDERS OF CANNABIS REFORM GROUPS IN CALIFORNIA AND ACROSS THE GLOBE.

This is a subject that we could have developed hundreds of pages on and we are happy to expand in details on any views expressed here. For more information contact mickey@mickeymartinconsulting.com. To join the discussion on cannabis reform in California visit www.reformca.org and let your voice be heard.

A downloadable PDF of the report is available here for distribution: 2016.CannabisLegalizationGuide.MMC.1.0

MICKEY.NATURAL.1

REFORMCA.org is the place for discussing legalization in CA for 2016

Reform.FB.cover.1

At this moment there are several groups working on efforts to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2016. The reality is that there is a lot to consider in these efforts as this law will govern cannabis users and the industry for decades to come. It is imperative that we get it right the first time and ensure that the law is fair and just.

What we must consider is that a lot of people charged with this effort do not have any real life experience in the cannabis industry in California. Most are attorneys and reform advocates who have never really bought or sold a pound of weed in their lives. They may not understand how the industry works, so it is up to us to inform them of our wants and needs in the language they are drafting.

To facilitate this conversation REFORMCA.org  has created a discussion page that YOU can be a part of. The site is user friendly, being able to sign in with social media or as a guest. It is currently separated into different categories of discussion that address the many issues facing our community, and the need to develop sound language that support these issues. It is important that we all take part in the conversation and allow those who are creating this law to hear us loud and clear. We need to find areas of broad consensus, and have a robust conversation in areas where there is real concern. Utilizing the www.REFORMCA.org site will help consolidate the conversation and create a positive space for the discussion. Your participation is valued and an important part of this process.

This interactive site is a useful tool, as it enables users to join in the discussion directly, as well as vote on conversations to bring them more prominence in the discussion. The site is a safe place for a vibrant conversation and is moderated regularly to ensure compliance and respect.

Social change efforts like this are difficult. In a state as large as California with so many different viewpoints and opinions, it is important for everyone to have their voice heard. Your input can help others to find their voice, and hopefully we can find a way to create an initiative that is positive for everyone. Together we can help those writing the language to understand the vast cannabis landscape that makes up California and create a law that serves us all well. A fair and level playing field is imperative and it is up to us to lay out our desires and needs clearly and effectively. A lively debate is important to stimulate the marketplace of ideas.

Be the change you want to see and lend your voice to the discussion. YOU do matter and REFORMCA.org is here to help you be a part of the solution.

WHAT IS REFORMCA.ORG?

ReformCA.org is an online resource dedicated to moving forward the conversation for the reform effort to legalize cannabis for adult use in California in 2016. As we speak lawyers and stakeholders are working on language that will define how cannabis is possessed, used, grown, processed, transported, distributed, and sold in our State for decades to come. It is imperative we get it right now to avoid issues in the future. For those of us who have spent years developing the cannabis movement and industry in California the words drafted in this initiative are not just important…they are vital to our future.

We must stand up and be accounted for in the process. Individuals and organizations from all over the State and from different sectors of the cannabis landscape have understandably different views and understandings of what it will take to create a legal cannabis industry that is fair, and which serves the cannabis user well. This site is aimed at creating a safe place for us to come together to express our ideas and opinions in hopes of finding areas of broad consensus. It is true that we will never all agree on everything, and none of us should go into the conversation expecting to be right on every point we make; but we must make a concerted effort to find reasonable solutions to difficult problems, Part of having a fair and open conversation is going in open-minded and not starting from a point where everyone else who disagrees with us is wrong. While the conversation is sure to get heated at times, as this is deeply important to so many of us, we MUST allow for everyone to feel safe in voicing their opinion. Please respect others in this debate.

There are many aspects to ending prohibition for us all to consider. The definition of cannabis freedom can take on many forms to many different people. At the end of the day, what all of us should hope to achieve in reforming cannabis laws in California and the world is an environment where people can use cannabis freely without fear of arrest, punishment, or loss of standing in the community. We should hope for an industry that is a level playing field where producers and retailers of cannabis can openly compete for the cannabis market without impossible barriers to entry that limit choice and innovation. The goal should always be a market that produces ample high quality cannabis at the greatest value to the consumer.

So how do we get there? What can we do to be a part of the solution? What must be in the initiative language to make this all possible? What must NOT be in the language? Where are areas we can find compromise; and what are the deal breakers for us?

My hope for ReformCA.org is that it is a place where we can put it all on the table, and influence those putting forth initiative efforts to consider our voices in the process. From those of us who grow cannabis; to those who process raw cannabis into amazing finished goods; to those who distribute cannabis products; to those who run cannabis stores; to those who operate auxiliary businesses; we all work together in an industry that should ultimately benefit the cannabis consumer and provide high quality cannabis products that are convenient, affordable, and safe.

Please take the time to be a part of this discussion, no matter what your role is with cannabis. Create an account and share with us your ideas, your wants, and your needs. As the language for these laws is developed and discussed we can use the ReformCA.org platform to organize and evolve the conversation. In the end, we hope that whatever language makes the ballot is one that has been vetted by our community and something we can all live with and prosper. Thank you for taking the time ad energy to be a part of the ReformCA.org community. We look forward to an incredible marketplace of ideas where we can share and learn about the efforts to end cannabis prohibition once and for all in California.

Fuck Your Weed Store

Steve DeAngelo, Harborside Health Center

California is a strange deal where medical cannabis is concerned. Proposition 215 is over 18 years old, and was an extraordinary law that spawned the modern cannabis revolution. It was simple and to the point, and allowed for the proliferation of the cannabis market we see today. It laid the foundation for people to not to be treated as criminals for their choice to use cannabis as a medicine.

In 2003 the Californian State Legislature begrudgingly passes SB420, which laid out some basic framework for how the medical cannabis program here works. It set some boundaries in place, some of which have been challenged and overturned in the CA Supreme Court.  This law established the current “collective” and “cooperative” loose framework that currently governs the entire billion dollar cannabis industry in the State. To make a long story short every cannabis business in California is classified as a cooperative or collective, all assumingly operating as not-for-profit businesses. It is nuts. I wrote more in depth about it in a piece entitled, “What the hell is a medical cannabis collective anyway?”

There is NO State licensing for any type of cannabis businesses. The ONLY licensing in the State are for cannabis dispensaries, and those are all licensed by local authority. The evolution of cannabis laws stems from a groundbreaking ordinance passed in the City of Oakland in 2005 that first regulated cannabis dispensaries, as the City was overrun with weed stores and felt the need to bring them under control. It was an interesting time as the industry took a very “every man for themselves” attitude and groups began to position themselves to be one of the lucky four out of dozens to receive the first licensing for a cannabis business in the state. Because dispensaries are retail businesses open to the public they garnered a lot of attention, and were the focal point of regulation by cities and towns looking to control the situation.

Cities and counties watched as Oakland licensed cannabis businesses. Shortly after liberal strongholds of San Francisco and Berkeley followed suit, passing regulatory ordinance for cannabis dispensaries that were operating in their town. At the same time you saw jurisdictions rushing to ban these types of businesses as they began to spring up around the state. In Los Angeles you saw the epitome of a shit show as hundreds of businesses opened up with no regulation; and the city still struggles to this day to find order in the chaos.

Dispensary laws have evolved throughout the state in many different ways, with regulations varying from municipality to municipality. There is no rhyme or reason to the laws and no uniformity of implementation.

But here is the real kicker…. there are NO real laws governing the production of cannabis and cannabis products. People who provide cannabis medicines to dispensaries have ZERO protections through licensing anywhere in the state. It is as if the cannabis is supposed to magically just appear.

Cannabis is a hot button topic, and most places have passed either dispensary regulations or prohibition laws out of necessity. They have not come willingly to the table on most occasions to address the issue. None have really had the courage to confront the issue of cannabis production. Some have tried and failed, like Oakland’s famed four huge grows program that is blamed for the Federal crackdown of 2011; and Mendocino’s attempt at a zip tie program that allowed for 99 plant collective gardens, which was also attacked by the Feds and shut down. But there is no license to grow weed, to make hash, or to produce edibles and other finished products anywhere in the state. Producers of medicine like myself are largely left to fend for ourselves. We are forced to operate under the radar and do our best to remain undetected in our communities. It is very much a don’t ask, don’t tell situation.

What has resulted is a lot of power given to the retail sector of the market….. the weed stores. They have become the gatekeepers in the industry and have gained a lot of political advantage due to their ability to be out in the open under the protection of their licensing. This has given them the ability to play kingmaker and use their power to control vast parts of the industry. They currently have this advantage due to an unlevel playing field that greatly favors their business model; but you can be sure it will not stay this way forever.

Think of your normal marketplace for any commodity. In the normal world retailers are usually just facilitators of goods. Very few dominant retailers control their markets. You have Best Buy in electronics. Staples in the office sector. Macy’s in the fashion sector. Wal-Mart is an obvious powerhouse. But in general, most retailers are regional outfits that serve certain communities and provide an outlet for desired goods. In most markets the companies that produce the goods hold a lot of power.

For instance… take booze. A liquor store cannot exist if it does not have Budweiser and Jack Daniels on the shelf. Sure… major retailers like BevMo can command better pricing through large volume purchasing, but for the most part in that industry producers of beer dominate the landscape. You never see a “Jim’s Liquor Store” Nascar. You see a Budweiser one. The companies who produce high demand products dictate the marketplace. Small batch producers of beer with less demand have to compete more rigorously for their place in the market, but the craft brew and small batch wine industries continues to explode, garnering more and more of the market from traditional behemoths like Anheuser-Busch. The point is that the average booze store does not have a hell of a lot of power.

Or could you imagine an electronics store without Sony products? Impossible. No Playstation? Please.

The development of world class products that consumers want is what drives the market. Innovation creates demand, and demand forces retailers to carry certain products. Every store that has electronics for sale has to offer Playstation, or they sacrifice a large base of potential customers. The larger the store the better the pricing they can get, which is where retailers can control the market. But believe Sony would get by without Best Buy, yet best Buy could never survive without Sony. The demand for their products is too high. People seek them out because they make great products. Have you played a PS4 lately? Holy shit that is a lot of fun.

The cannabis market in California is currently flipped upside down. Due to political necessity the dispensaries have been afforded with licensing and legitimacy. I know a lot of good people who operate dispensaries that understand how lucky they are. They have also risked a lot to get their businesses open and to maintain success in an extremely murky environment. There is no doubt that dispensaries have paved the way for medical cannabis in California through being on the front lines of an often heated debate. They have been the public face of this industry for a long time now, and often under the most scrutiny. But they also are the ONLY groups who have actual licensing to operate their cannabis business under clear regulatory framework.

Producers of medicine are forced to self-regulate and hope for the best. There is no real safety provided through having legal guidelines that govern a business. It is crazy if you actually sit back and think about it. With all the billions of dollars in weed grown, hash made, edibles produced, and don’t forget the lube, it is nuts to think this all happens under the undefined premise that we are all a bunch of collectives. This collective makes the weed. This collective produces finished products from the weed. This other collective distributes it to another collective that sells it. It is mind boggling. On most days I am not sure how we made it this far. It is both beautiful in its lack of definition and mind numbing all at the same time. But the bottom line is that the entire production sector has no licensing to legitimize their efforts.

So here is the rub…. A lot of the conversation being had about the upcoming ballot initiative being developed for 2016 is aimed at protecting the interests of people who have licensed businesses. These groups believe they deserve a two year window after legalization where only they can compete in the marketplace. They want to adopt the same principle that we saw happen in Colorado where only medical licensed businesses could operate for the first two years. You know how that worked out there? Recreational weed prices have stayed relatively inflated and most of these businesses who got the head start have sold out to the highest bidder and no longer even operate the businesses.

The distinctly unlevel playing field has done nothing to help the end user realize higher quality or better value. It has simply enabled a select few to manipulate the market and has given way to unsavory business practices where competitors work to undermine one another. It has been anything but a free market. Now that the two year mark was passed at the end of last year we will see more businesses compete for market share, and an increase supply will result in lower prices and higher quality offerings. It will be good for everyone who smokes weed.

If the influential dispensaries have their way, we will see a repeat of this mistake here in California. But because they are the only one’s who will be licensed, they will also attempt to control the production sector through increased vertical integration, while locking out many growers and manufacturers of cannabis products. It would be a swift kick in the nuts to people who have risked everything to provide high quality medicines through the collective scheme over the years with no real protection. It will give further advantage to the lucky few who happen to open in areas that have decided to allow for their use, while shunning those in less tolerant parts of the state. It will pigeonhole a lot of the industry into a very few pockets, and will create a more defined oligopoly than we see right now. It is unacceptable.

In all reality, fuck your weed store.

If you truly love cannabis and freedom the only obvious answer is a truly level playing field. No one deserves an advantage cemented into a law through barriers for others. Your advantage is that you have been operating in the marketplace for a number of years. You do not deserve special treatment. What you deserve is the right to exist and compete in an open and free market where you provide great products and services at a good value, and customers go to you because you are the best. Not because you are their only option due to restrictive licensing and permitting schemes.

You are not going to use your good fortune to lock us out of the market. Miss me on that shit. If you are so great then consumers will reward you with their business. But the days of the retailers having a stranglehold on this industry are coming to an end. People who produce great weed and desirable products will command their share of the market, and begin to dictate what supply and demand is. Your subpar weed for too much money will no longer even be on the menu. You will either have to step your game up or get trampled by better offerings at greater values. It is free market principles that will decide who succeeds and who fails.

It is funny to see those who have claimed to fight for prohibition for many years now begin to circle the wagons and lobby for prohibitive barriers in the process to protect their interests. What is even sadder is that they do not have the courage and confidence to believe they can be successful in a truly free market. But it is the only answer. We cannot continue to believe that further limitation will somehow protect our romantic views of what the industry should look like. What the industry should look like is yet to be determined, and strangling that process through delays and restrictions is not going to work.

I hope that the individuals crafting any language here in California or other states consider the realities, and do not cater to these well-funded interests from within our industry. Everyone deserves the right to compete for the exploding weed market. No one deserves the right to segment and control certain parts of the market just because they have been standing around the longest and happened to be at the right place at the right time.

What will benefit the cannabis user and create the real legalization principles we have all fought so diligently for is an absolute free market. At some point we must look beyond our small world and understand how large a global cannabis market is, and allow the industry to begin to meet those demands through innovation and competition. Anything less is just uncivilized.

Now is not the time for us to become the prohibitionists. I believe in myself and my products, and know I can compete with anyone. I am not scared of the future. I welcome it with open arms and you should too.

Losers Never Win… Legalization Is No Loser

Loser_by_mysticalpha

Election Day 2014 has come and gone. The people have spoken, and despite a somewhat frightening wave of Republican victories that speak more to the cowardly strategies of the Democrats than the strength of right wing positions, the weed vote went incredibly well…. again. Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia all voted to legalize cannabis for adult use rather handily. There was not even a very close result. Alaska won by 4 points- Oregon won by almost 9 points- AND DC WON BY ALMOST 39 POINTS. None of those are nail biters. Any politician in America would take those results in a heartbeat.

The funny-not-funny vote of the night was in Florida where Amendment 2 on MEDICAL marijuana failed to meet the 60% threshold needed to pass. To be fair 57.6% of the people did vote Yes, but in Florida it requires 60% to pass an Amendment, so the effort failed there by a lousy 2.4%. But I think there is a valuable lesson here…. medical cannabis is not necessarily the overwhelmingly popular issue it once was. Initial polling had support for medical marijuana in the state of Florida at nearly 90%… so what happened?

What happened was billionaire Sheldon Adelson put $5.5 million dollars into an effective campaign that told people they were being bullshitted. The narrative was that the law was not truthful and was littered with “loopholes.” The opposition campaign seized on the reality that even though there are still a lot of people who hate weed, there are even more who hate being lied to. They successfully portrayed the Amendment as a front for adult use and effectively demonized the thought of cannabis caregivers actually being drug dealers who would somehow be protected by this ruse. The message was certainly effective enough to stifle enough of the vote that it resulted in failure. Check out the ad below to see how the opposition chose to spin it:

Do you see what they did there? The argument was never against medical cannabis, or cannabis at all. It was to inform people they were being supposedly lied to. They framed the argument so that the average voter would take pause, and they banked that they could create enough doubt to keep the Amendment from passing with that strategy…. and they were right. “It isn’t what is seems.” That is where the political strategists who designed the No on 2 campaign hung their hat. On making voters feel like they were being duped. I do not believe that 42.4% of Florida believes that sick people should not have access to cannabis. I do think that many were willing to believe that the whole medical deal is a sham and that they should vote no to avoid being bullshitted.

loopholes.1

The irony of passing three adult use legalization initiatives, but failing to pass a medical marijuana amendment is too much to ignore. I have long said that it is time for us to move past the medical only debate and to shift our time, energy, and resources towards adult use, which would encompass medical cannabis and take away the never ending questions of “Who is sick enough to smoke pot?” and “Is this really medical, or am I being bullshitted?”

I have done a great deal of outreach in communities all over the United States, and even the most staunch supporters of cannabis have looked at me point blank and said, “But the whole medical deal is kind of bullshit, right?” I then go into my whole speech about preventive medicine and forcing people to maybe fudge an illness to avoid prison for growing plants; but I shouldn’t have to. The reality is that on some levels they are right. A lot of the activity the cannabis community dubs “medical’ just does not meet that standard in our society, and creates more questions than answers for a lot of people. I think this is what moved the needle in Florida, and what will continue to undermine medical only efforts going forward.

In states where we see new medical programs coming into place, what we see are super burdensome regulations and laws being put forth meant to “ensure this is only accessed by the truly sick and dying.” Limiting patients rights to cultivate, to have caregivers, and to have a free and competitive markets are all hallmarks of people wanting to make sure that they are not being bullshitted by these potheads. If they want medical they will get medical. How is that working out New Jersey? Exactly.

The reality is that people do not hate weed like they used to. What they hate is feeling like they are not having an honest conversation. I believe that our community continues to stretch the medical conversation too far. The results are twofold… 1) It creates a lot of doubt for people who have no skin in the game. Your average voter and citizen is not necessarily opposed to weed, but they do know they have never gone to the doctor at a Cypress Hill concert.; and 2) It does a huge disservice to those patients who do have serious illnesses for which cannabis can be beneficial, as they are lumped in with the perception that what the cannabis community is pushing as medical does not always meet that standard of medicine as defined by our  collective culture.

The lesson learned from last night’s election are simple… People are ready for legal weed.

onemarijuana.1

I believe that we could have put the nail in the coffin last night had the reform community and their financial sugar daddys had the courage to run an adult use legalization initiative here in California. The state has 10% of the nation’s population and is the leading producer of our nation’s agriculture crops. It is also the American stronghold for the wine industry, as its ideal growing climates are good for both grapes and weed. But the big money and local players decided to let it ride and wait for the sure thing in 2016. I have told them all they were fools, and the good people of Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia also called them fools last night. They will still try to sell you a bag of goods about “youth turnout” and “questionable support,” but I think our neighbors to the north in Oregon proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are just plain wrong. We could be celebrating today California, but instead we sit here being threatened by the USDOJ for not having a statewide regulatory model and watch as our own supposed supporters and their “lobbying efforts” work to shut down most of the industry as we know it. But don’t worry… it is only two more years until 2016.

Those could end up being a very long two years.

As marijuana continues to gain mainstream popularity and more focus is put on the industry, know that the lack of definition in California’s law will continue to haunt us. Empowered by a wave of conservative victories in the midterm, it would not be surprising to see the current administration make knee jerk concessions in an effort to negotiate with the Republican congress.

But who knows? Maybe even the conservatives are getting it now that the people want their weed… and at least the conservatives will have the balls to actually do something about it. How long is it before the right wing looks around and says, “Shit… Everyone seems to want their weed. Maybe we should just give it to them and champion that issue before 2016. Where is all that money going anyway?”

I would not be surprised at all to see another California crackdown in the near future. I think we shot ourselves in the foot by not seizing the moment and capitalizing of the momentum from our victories in CO and WA in 2012. We have left a lot to chance, and it would not be surprising to see the CA Legislature pass a much more restrictive adult use and medical regulatory model before the election in 2016 ever happens. In fact, I almost can guarantee it. It will be a “good enough” model that ensures very few can meet the burden of the barriers to entry, and it will be the death of the current cannabis landscape, as well as the hopes for anything of substance in 2016. Maybe I am wrong… Lord, I hope I am wrong. But I have seen these stars align before.

Who knows what the future holds? I do know that today I raise my bubbler to the great citizens of Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia for standing up for cannabis freedom and moving us that much closer to ending this thing. As a person who has worked a long and hard time on cannabis reform efforts it is inspiring to see us changing the hearts and minds of a Nation… one cannabis-loving state at a time if we have to. While I will never be able to wrap my head around what people who oppose cannabis are thinking, it is comforting to know that more and more of my neighbors and fellow citizens are getting it, and that we are that much closer to winning.

I celebrate the victories and I am sorry for the tens of thousands of people in Florida who are still criminals for their right to use cannabis. We mourn for those who desperately need access to cannabis as a medicine there who were counting Amendment 2 to pass. I do believe that the 57.6% of people voting yes is a powerful message, and it is hopeful that your lawmakers might listen.

Hopefully lawmakers everywhere will listen, and get on the right side of history sooner than later. Cannabis is a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant. There is no more boogie man here. People want their weed. Legalization is winning… Prohibition must end soon.

As a community we need to begin to ask ourselves what we really want and begin to ask for that. It makes no sense to limit ourselves any longer. What we want is weed… and we want you to quit taking us to fucking jail for it. Or taking our kids. Or making us lose our jobs. Or losing student loans. Or our standing in our community. We want a fair and level playing field for the industry where quality, innovation, and value rule the market… not politics. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can end this awkward dance with what is cannabis freedom and who qualifies for it.

Losers never win…. and only a real loser would look at the writing on the wall and not change strategy. Adult use legalization is no loser. Victory or Valhalla.

2014: Year of the KILLSHOT. How we finally end this thing.

History is a funny thing. It is hard to predict and happens in short rapid bursts.

killshot.1

But make no mistake….history is being made. As the news of Colorado’s first sales of weed to non-medical patient adults over 21 floods the airwaves, the walls of prohibition crumble. America is absorbing this slow-moving revolution. As people watch responsible adults purchase their weed at well-lit and clean facilities, their vision of the criminally shady element that cannabis has been portrayed as melts away. The sky has not fallen; and when the sky continues to not fall after being told by prohibitionists for decades that it would, Americans will wake up to the fact that they have been lied to.

People hate being lied to. That is why this thing ends this year.

doonesbury.1

The toothpaste is WAY out of the tube. There is no putting it back. It is over. We can work out the details of what it all looks like in real time, but the writing is on the wall. It is only a matter of time now before this is all a distant memory, and cannabis is returned to its rightful place in our society as a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant. But there is still a lot of work to make that happen in a way that is reasonable and fair. There is a lot to overcome in a short period of time, but I think we are up for the task.

Now is the time to go for the killshot. We should be applying every ounce of pressure we have to the neck of these drug warrior assholes. There is no looking back. It is time to storm the castle for the final time. This will end; and it will end very soon if we are effective in our strategic planning.

Do not listen to the voices that say “Be patient. Just wait.” There are reformers within our movement that would have you believe that we must wait and not create real tension. These folks would have you believe that “if we play our cards right we could see the end of prohibition in the next five years.”

Fuck those people. They are in on it.

They are PART OF THE PROBLEM. Nothing worse than a pathetically transparent effort of self-preservation through retarding growth by eroding people’s confidence. I am not trying to be mean, but I hope every person who makes their money “reforming cannabis laws” is out of a job this year. I hope we get the laws reformed, and those folks (like the DEA) can move on to greener pastures. That is what we are all fighting for, right? An END to prohibition?

In the now famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, penned by Martin Luther King Jr. at the height of the civil rights struggle, this is what he said about “waiting.”

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

For years now I too have heard the word “wait.” From lawmakers….from law enforcers…from probation officers….from people opposed to cannabis….and all too often from those who stood beside me.

I can wait no longer. I will not.

I am touched by the response we see happening in the press, as adult use legalization rolls out in Colorado (and soon to be Washington and Uruguay). The world has certainly changed from the days I stood on the street in Santa Cruz, CA gathering signatures for Prop. 215.  The long and tiring journey will eventually come to an end, and if I have anything to do with it that end will come quickly.

So what is the big plan? How do we do it? Well, I am glad you asked…..A strategy of direct action and a demand for accountability at all levels is a good place to begin.

I refer back to Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail when discussing the type of non-violent campaign we must orchestrate to end this thing. He wrote:

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.

After the determination that the injustices were very real and attempted negotiation, Dr. King began the difficult process of “self-purification” leading to direct action. He stated:

We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?”

The struggle of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s was an amazing effort that taught our communities and the world many valuable lessons. We can learn from the successes (and even some failures) of prior social movements where we can use our influence as citizens to create real change.

One of the most effective tools used were economic boycotts of goods and services that supported the unjust policies of segregation; and those same types of pressures could be used to end prohibition now. We need to identify the groups, organizations, businesses, and individuals who are propping up the drug war, and encourage our networks to not support them, or spend their money with them. If we can drive enough folks to quit doing business with companies that fund prohibition and support mass incarceration policies, we can force them to change their positions this taking pressures off lawmakers to make more reasonable policies for drugs in our society. Shit rolls uphill sometimes.

If we can create a platform of awareness, and a powerful enough social movement that begins to make a real dent, it becomes more difficult for them to continue these charades. We must also attack funding sources for law enforcement that are used to fund this bullshit war. Lawmakers want to talk about “fiscal responsibility?” How about the trillion dollars we have wasted arresting and imprisoning mostly poor people for petty drug crimes?

As citizens, we must organize campaigns at every level of politics to demand a change in how our law enforcement resources are spent. I do not mind having a robust law enforcement presence, but let them work on REAL crimes and REAL public safety issues. Quit pressuring good cops to arrest their neighbors on stupid weed charges to pad the arrest statistics to justify even more spending. Let good cops do a good job; and if they arrest a few million less people for stupid shit every year, but maybe catch an extra drunk driver, or investigate fraud, or track down actual violent criminals, that is great. We do not need less cops. We need the cops to be allowed to actually investigate and do their fucking jobs instead of feeling the need to rummage through some guys car because he smelled some weed.

Economic-based boycotts are something that we can do relatively easy through social media and word of mouth. They do not have to be massive to work either. Small local boycotts can be extremely effective too. Why would we give our money to people who support putting us in jail for our choice to use weed? I still do not eat Kellog’s cereal because they fired Michael Phelp’s after the infamous bong picture. There are a lot of companies that support prohibition because it is good business for them. Look at a company like Victoria’s Secret that uses mass incarceration as a source of cheap labor for their goods. Yup…we can boycott companies that use prison labor, which in turn pressures prison lobbies and privately owned prisons, who in turn have influence with lawmakers, who can end these policies once and for all.

But economic influences are only part of the story. It will also take hard work, sacrifice, and likely some real pain to end this deal. We will also need to accomplish major messaging points through civil disobedience and organized protest. Folks must be willing to put some time and energy into taking the killshot. We must go to the meetings. We must speak up loudly. We must organize WEED-INS. We MUST demand to be heard.  We cannot allow our opposition’s position to go unanswered anywhere….not in the media, at local meetings,  or in a conversation at the grocery store. WE MUST BE VIGILANT…….we like weed and we are good people.

Check out the movement happening in Philly right now as they Smokedown prohibition. These kids are doing it. Taking criminal charges and suffering real consequences for their right to burn and to call for an end to prohibiton. Amazing stuff:

 

It is also an election year and we can influence politics on many levels. We should make every effort to influence local. state, and national politics with our weed message. Be at the town hall meetings to ask the tough questions. Write a letter to the editor about how you do not think this candidate should not be elected because they still believe in mass incarceration and locking up our neighbors for weed. Gallup’s recent poll showed that 58% of our communities (at least) are in our corner. I imagine that number will increase rapidly once the world sees that a legal cannabis market is possible, and that the results will actually be a net positive.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are already discussing the issue:

booker.paul.1

Politicians listen to money, public safety, and opportunities for the communities they serve. Learning to tailor our message to influence politics is key. The cost of prohibition is an absolute failure. It is not hard to see how locking up 5x the people as the rest of the world is expensive and wasteful. As people see that public safety levels are either unaffected, or (gasp) more favorable after legalization takes hold in areas, the myths will be debunked and the real safety cost of prohibition black markets  will be exposed. Sorry…any time you take billions of dollars in illegal drug sales off of the streets and put them into regulated tax paying business structures your community will be safer. The more we can prove positive attributes and opportunities to communities with little risk to public safety, the easier it will be to get politicians to allow for, and even promote, cannabis in their communities.

Direct action campaigns at politicians events who are running for office is an easy way to create awareness and drive the conversation. It only takes one courageous person with a marker and a piece of cardboard to make a powerful impact at a campaign event, or local happening. Be that person….and bring a friend. And the next time bring another friend….Then get those friends together to write some letters. Get those friends to invite even more friends; and then take your group of friends to meet other groups of similar cause for larger action….and the walls will crumble action by action, and voice by voice.

This is going to happen. We must ride the wave and drive the conversation. It is the end of prohibition if we want it to be. Will you pull the trigger with me?

target.1

The Airing of the Grievances

A Fesitvus for the rest of us….one of my favorite traditions. Please review and take in my airing of the grievances for 2013. Feel free to add your own in the comment section….

FrankFestivusPole

THE AIRING OF THE GRIEVANCES:

1. Weed is still not totally legal. (Though two states, a country, several cities and a federal stand down was a hell of a year)

2. People are still going to jail for weed at alarming rates in many areas. This must stop. However we get there, I just want to get there.

3. People are still losing their kids for weed. This is pure madness by any civilized standard. We must put an end to cannabis abductions.

4. Parents are still having to worry about treating their sick children with safe and effective cannabis medicines. What kind of evil people would put parents of sick children through this?

5. Folks are still losing their job for weed. If it were not for weed most companies would not even piss test people. We should end prohibition and at the same time end having to give body fluid to people for employment.

6. People are still looking down their noses at cannabis users. We must continue to shift the paradigm through admitting we are good people that like weed. For too long it has just been the fringe willing to step up. You garage weed smokers need to be accounted for. We all know you get high, dummy.

7. Why the fuck are people still hungry?

8. Too many losers running around claiming to be experts in this fucking industry who do not know shit except how to steal other people’s work and talk suckers out of their money.

9. Meth torches…..

10. Weed is still not totally legal…..

A New Hope: Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014

calinugs.2

So here we are again. Trying to make weed legal in California. Who ever knew that it would be so difficult?

Well…I did. California is not your average state. This is a huge state with over 38 million people. Within the state there are several regional aspects that make the state almost like 10 states in one. There is the liberal Bay Area, the Sierra foothills, the agricultural Valley, the central coast, the emerald triangle, the republican stronghold of San Diego, and then of course the monster that is Los Angeles in all of its glory with Hollywood, Venice and Compton wrapped up into one.

To give you a little perspective…Colorado and Washington both have about 6-7 million people. That is the population of the WEST SIDE of LA. Not all of LA by any means…but just the West Side. So if we wanted to run an initiative on the West Side of LA, I think we could pull it off; but the entire state is a much bigger and more complex task. Which is why there are so many ideas of how to get this thing done.

Let me recap briefly the situation to give a little background. In October I wrote a piece called Welcome to the Hotel California where I spelled out some issues with two initiative efforts being put forth in Cali.

The first is Jack Herer’s CCHI campaign. This is an initiative I like for the most part, but that just does not realize the most important aspect of any effort when dealing with initiatives….electability. The group decided to keep the language that Jack left them, and make no adaptations based on the political realities from recent elections or shifts in our society and culture over the past few years. Their argument is that Jack was infallible and that like Moses, left the perfect documents behind even though he will not make it to the promised land. The problem is that the campaign is being ran unprofessionally, and is mired in chaos. I saw one of the campaign directors, Mikey Jolson, at the Emerald Cup this weekend and let’s just say that he seemed less than confident in his chances at this point. But when you disregard all advice  and throw caution to the wind, can one really be surprised when folks decide to not back their effort?

The second initiative is the MCLR, which is being put on by Dave Hodges, John Lee, Bob Bowerman, and the ever creepy Dege Coutee. That last name on there is enough to disqualify the effort for me, as I think that broad is a parasite. But beyond that, the effort is less than stellar and the language filed is super muddy. They are very proud of their “crowd sourcing” of the document, but this is where I saw the language have the most issues. Why? Because you cannot give everyone everything they want in this industry. What you end up with is 30 pages of garbage language that attempts to hang on to everyone’s pet project from yesterday. The initiative is cumbersome, and will not get the support of any real money players who can get it on the ballot.

Enter the THIRD initiative. PAY ATTENTION HERE. The Control, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana Act was written and filed by an attorney at Drug Policy Alliance in conjunction with Peter Lewis’ liaison Graham Boyd. This is an EXTREMELY restrictive model that is unacceptable to anyone who has worked in the cannabis industry for more than 10 minutes. The big issues are it allows for only 4 plants, sets super high tax rates, bans certain extraction methods, and gives a lot of power to law enforcement. It is basically prohibition light and a huge step backwards for California. I am not sure how anyone would think giving Cali residents less plants than Colorado residents would EVER fly. These folks have obviously never been up the hill. But here is the kicker….THEY HAVE THE MONEY, DUMBASS. I wrote Graham Boyd, who helps oversee Peter Lewis’ estate and asked him if they were putting money behind this effort. Here was his response:

Hi Mickey,

Thank you for your kind words about Peter.  It’s very hard to lose such a good friend and mentor

You’re right about the initiative.  We haven’t made any decisions about going forward with a campaign.  We’ll get the ballot title and summary, test viability, get input from stakeholders and a few other things before making a decision in February.  I would welcome your input.

Best,

Graham

So do you get it now? The two initiatives that are filed ARE NOT GOING TO GET THE SUPPORT OF DPA OR PETER LEWIS’ MONEY. They WILL NOT make the ballot without it. They are such poor efforts that DPA filed this piece of shit as an alternative, and what I hear Peter Lewis was directly involved in the development process before his unfortunate passing. It is a very real possibility that unless there is a better option on the table that the big money will push their shitty language onto the ballot. They see the writing on the wall and know that 2016 is a big risk with the pace things are evolving on the ground. Here is what Graham Boyd said about it in a recent news article:

“The main thing is growing public support. I think you can look at the list of 2016 states and argue that any of them could go in 2014,” Boyd said. “If the public is ready in 2014 and something happens before 2016 and that lift tails off, we may find ourselves saying we missed the wave.”

So make no mistake….they are looking very seriously at this effort and may push it forward regardless of cannabis community support.

Enter the Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014. This is language developed by proponent Ed Rosenthal, in conjunction with many influential California reform leaders. The core of it is based on the RCPA2012 effort, which is awesome. It adds a more comprehensive regulatory model, which is well-thought and extremely reasonable. It allows for 2600 indoor watts per individual to grow at home…and up to three individuals per household. That is an 8 lighter if you got two roommates. Or 100 sq. ft. per individual, or 300 sq. ft. outdoors if there are three adults. That is awesome for personal use levels. If folks want to cultivate more they can on agriculture zoned or commercial properties. It sets more than reasonable tax rates and includes all aspects of the industry to chip in. It also differentiates between medical non-taxed cannabis, and high-cbd medicines which will also not be taxed in the recreational market. The Act removes criminal penalties and deals with the industry in a civil infraction manner. The language is damn good. Even I was impressed with how well-thought it was. I probably would not have written it much different if I had done it myself.

So this effort is a hopeful alternative that DPA and Peter Lewis’ estate can put their funding behind that is conservative enough to actually pass, while still supporting the movement/industry’s norms and needs. The goal is to convince the big money players that this is the direction we want to go. Their development and filing of their own language shows that they will not be supporting the two that were previously filed; but there is still hope that they may decide to move on this language. Ed is a respected advocate for cannabis freedom and can generate support from the cannabis community. I will be putting any support I have behind this language. I would encourage the rest of the community to do the same.

The language is below for you to read for yourself. Digest it and take it in. I understand there are folks who have already dedicated time and energy into the two efforts being put forth. It is disappointing to realize that we may have been spinning our wheels. But I can assure you that this is our best option going forward.

I would encourage everyone to reach out the Ethan Nadelmann and Graham Boyd and encourage them to support the Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014. If they want to put millions into putting something on the ballot, this is by far the best language and the most capable option that is out right now.

Only time will tell, but you can either start kicking and screaming now, or do not be surprised if you wake up January 2015 limited to 4 lousy plants and a bunch of unnecessary red tape. The choice is ours. Squeaky wheels get oil up in this bitch….

CANNABIS POLICY REFORM ACT OF 2014

This initiative measure is submitted to the People of the State of California in accordance with provisions of Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution.

An initiative measure to add Chapter 6.7, entitled “Cannabis Policy Reform”, to Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code and adds Section 420 to, and to add Chapter 14.5 (commencing with Section 25400) to Division 9 of the Business and Professions Code, to amend Section 68152 of the Government Code, to amend Sections 11014.5, 11054, 11364.5, 11370, 11470, 11479, 11488, 11532, 11703, and 11705 of, to add Division 10.3 (commencing with Section 11720) to, and to repeal Sections 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11361, and 11485 of, the Health and Safety Code, to add Part 14.6 (commencing with Section 34001) to Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, to repeal Section 23222(b) and amend 40000.15 of the Vehicle Code, and to amend Section 18901.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to cannabis.

SECTION 1: Title

This Act shall be known and may be cited as the Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014.

 

SECTION 2: Findings and Declarations

The People of the State of California hereby find and declare all of the following:

(A) Existing marijuana laws have created a violent, criminal drug market.

(B) Millions of criminal justice and court resources are spent each year enforcing marijuana laws that could otherwise be spent on preventing violent crime.

(C) Existing marijuana laws have a disproportionate impact on African-American and Latino communities.

(D) Marijuana has been used medicinally to relieve pain and treat medical conditions by thousands of people in California for more than fifteen years.

(E) Regulating, controlling, and taxing marijuana like alcohol will save criminal justice resources, reduce violent crime, reduce racial disparities, and generate revenue for California.

(F) Industrial hemp isproduced in at least 30 nations to produce thousands of products including paper, textiles, food oils, automotive parts, and personal care products.

(G) Hundreds of millions of dollars of industrial hemp products are sold in the United States.

(H) California manufacturers of hemp products import tens of thousands of acres worth of hemp products from other parts of the world that could have been produced by California farmers.

 

SECTION 3: Purposes and Intents

The People of the State of California hereby declare that the intents and purposes of this Act are:

(A) To remove all existing civil and criminal penalties for adults 21 years of age or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use cannabis subject to the provisions of this act, without impacting existing laws proscribing dangerous activities while under the influence of cannabis, or certain conduct that exposes children to cannabis.

(B) To ensure that the proper regulatory apparatus for cannabis sale and cultivation is implemented.

(C) To prevent the distribution of marijuana to minors.

(D) To prevent revenues from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.

(E) To prevent the diversion of marijuana to states where it is not legal.

(F) To prevent state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of illegal drugs or other illegal activity.

(G) To prevent violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.

(H) To prevent drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use.

(I) To prevent the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands.

(J) To clarify and standardize regulations statewide regarding personal use and production, as well as the commercial manufacture and sale of cannabis and its derivatives.

(K) To raise tax revenues for California for education.

(L) Nothing in this act is intended to require any individual or entity to engage in any conduct that violates federal law or to exempt anyone from any requirement of federal law.

(M) To make cannabis available for scientific, medical, industrial, and research purposes.

 

SECTION 4: Definitions

Section 11018 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:

11018. “Marijuana” or “cannabis” mean all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin.  It does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.  It does not include industrial hemp as defined in Section 11018.5, except where the plant is cultivated or processed for purposes not expressly allowed by Division 24 (commencing with Section 8100) of the Food and Agriculture Code.

 

Section 11018.5 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

11018.5. “Industrial hemp” means a fiber or oilseed crop, or both, that is limited to non-psychoactive types of the plant Cannabis sativa L., and the seed produced therefrom, having no more than five-tenths of one percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops, and that is cultivated and processed exclusively for the purpose of producing the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, or any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, the flowering tops, fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.

 

SECTION 5: Repeal of Marijuana Prohibition

The following sections are herby repealed from the Health and Safety Code: Section 11054(d)(13), Section 11054(d)(20), Section 11357, Section 11358, Section 11359, Section 11360, Section 11361, and Section 11485. Section 23222(b) of the California Vehicle Code is hereby repealed. Cannabis related activities are hereby removed from the prohibitions contained within Health and Safety Code Sections 11014.5, 11364.5, 11364.7, 11365, 11366, 11366.5, 11379.6, 11470, 11488, 11488.5, 11570, 11703, 11705.

(b) Health and Safety Code Section 11361.5 is amended to include prior violations of Health and Safety Code Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11361, as well as cannabis related violations of Health and Safety Code Section 11365, 11366, 11366.5, 11379.6, and Vehicle Code Section 23222(b).

(c) Section 11421 is added to the Health and Safety Code to read:

11421. Except as provided herein, it is lawful, and not a crime, public offense, or cause for incarceration, for an adult to use, possess, share, cultivate, process, transport, distribute and sell to other adults, or otherwise engage in cannabis related activities. It is lawful and not a violation of California law to sell cannabis to a person 21 years of age or older. It is lawful and not a violation of California law for a person 21 years of age or older to smoke or consume cannabis in one’s home, in any privately owned property, or in public in a manner that does not endanger others. It is lawful for adults 21 years of age or older to cultivate cannabis. Cannabis may be cultivated on privately owned property with the consent of owner, resident, or tenant of such property.

 

SECTION 6: Cannabis Regulation

Sections 11422, 11423, 11424, 11425, 11426, 11427, and 11428 are added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

11422(a). The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) shall promulgate rules and regulations concerning the industrial, research, scientific, medical, and commercial cannabis regulatory regime.  The ABC shall have exclusive power, except as herein provided, to control, license, permit, or otherwise authorize the commercial and industrial cultivation, manufacturing, processing, testing, transportation, distribution and sale of cannabis and to collect license fees or taxes on account thereof.

(b) The ABC shall fully implement the regulatory regime created herein within 12 months from the passage of this Act. The commercial cultivation, processing, transportation, distribution, and sale of cannabis shall not be lawful until 12 months from the passage of the Act.[ER1]  All regulations promulgated and enforced by the ABC shall be unified, to the extent possible, with the California Alcoholic Beverages Control Act.  This includes, but is not limited to, age verification measures to ensure only adults aged 21 and over can purchase marijuana, an allowance of safe onsite consumption of cannabis at cannabis related businesses, environmental protections, and penalties for diversion to minors.

(c) The ABC shall have exclusive power to suspend or revoke any specific cannabis license if it shall determine for good cause that the granting or continuance of such license following analogous procedures as those used for alcohol and set forth herein. These regulations shall include appropriate controls on the licensed premises for commercial production, cultivation, processing, transportation and sale of cannabis.  This includes, but is not limited to, age verification measures to prevent the diversion of cannabis to minors, prohibitions on the use of firearms at cultivation, processing, or distribution facilities, and regulations concerning zoning, land use, locations, size, hours of operation, occupancy, protection of adjoining and nearby properties, and other environmental and public health controls. These regulations may not include bans, actual or de facto, of the conduct permitted by this Act.

(d) Any regulations created and enforced by the ABC shall not infringe on the individual rights set forth in this Act.  Any taxes, regulations, fines and fees imposed pursuant to this section shall not be imposed on adults, aged 21 and older, with personal amounts of cannabis.

 

“Personal amounts of cannabis” includes all cannabis produced from a personal garden, or three pounds of dried processed marijuana, whichever is greater.

 

(1)   An indoor personal garden using electric lights will be measured by the total wattage used by the lights in all phases of growth. The total watts used by the lights can be no more than 2600 per individual.

(2)   An outdoor personal gardens or greenhouses are permitted. Their total size can be no more than 100 square feet per individual.

(3)   Up to three individuals can maintain a personal garden located on a residential property. More than three individuals can maintain a personal garden collectively or cooperatively in an area zoned industrial or agricultural. A residence on this property does not preclude cultivation of such a garden.

(4)   The presence of persons younger than 18 years of age in a household does not make the cultivation unlawful nor shall it be used in any manner to diminish parental rights or justify the removal of a child from the home unless the child’s physical health and wellbeing is in actual imminent danger.

(5)   These size limitations do not apply to medical gardens.

 

(e) The California Department of Food and Agriculture shall be designated by the ABC Commissioner to oversee the commercial and industrial cultivation of cannabis.  These agencies shall work together to control commercial and industrial cannabis cultivation. The regulations promulgated pursuant to this subsection shall be consistent with the provisions of the Food and Agriculture Code related to the production of consumable plant crops and vineyards. This shall include provisions for the permitting, tracking and inspection of all cannabis that is cultivated for commercial or industrial purposes.

(f) The California Department of Public Health shall be designated by the ABC Commissioner to oversee the cultivation and distribution of medical cannabis pursuant to Section 11425. These agencies shall work together to regulate the cultivation and distribution of medical cannabis and the issuance and enforcement of the Class M license pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 420.1(m).

(g) The ABC shall consult with the California Environmental Protection Agency to create any rules necessary to protect the environment, including regulations limiting the use of pesticides, controlling water diversion, and preventing other forms of pollution generated by the commercial and industrial cultivation of cannabis.

11423(a). The ABC shall work with the California Board of Equalization and any other executive and legislative entities to develop a fee and taxation structure that can be implemented for cannabis in a manner similar to that of alcohol subject to the provisions of this Act.

11424(a). Local jurisdictions shall have the right to restrict personal gardens that are in visible from the street or other publicly accessible property. Counties and cities retain the ability to regulate land use, zoning, and nuisances of cannabis related activities in a manner consistent with this Act and subordinate to all State implementations of this Act. Local jurisdictions may not pass ordinances that restrict commercial cultivation in agricultural districts; neither may they ban access in their districts to medical cannabis by qualified medical cannabis patients.

All proposed regulations by local government agencies specific to marijuana businesses or proposed businesses otherwise within proper zoning and otherwise compliant with state and local law are subject to a referendum to be held at regular elections on any proposal to restrict cultivation, processing, or its sale for on-site or off-site use. The proposals are not enforceable until they have been approved by vote.

(b) This Act authorizes the State of California to prevent the diversion of marijuana to states where it is illegal and generally control the importation and exportation of cannabis through the provisions of 21 U.S.C. Section 873.

11425. This Act shall not adversely affect the individual and group rights and protections afforded by California Health and Safety Code Sections 11362.5 through 11362.83.  Schools, employers, and/or landlords may not discriminate against, nor penalize a person, solely for their status as a qualified patient or primary caregiver unless failing to do so would put the school, employer, or landlord in violation of federal law or cause it to lose a federal contract or funding.  A person may not be denied medical care, including organ transplants, on the basis of their status as a qualified patient.  A patient’s use of marijuana shall not constitute the use of an illicit substance.

11426(a). Except as authorized by law, every person under the age of 21 who possesses, cultivates, or transports, cannabis in a manner as defined by section 11422(d), is guilty of an infraction. (b) Except as authorized by law, every person 21 years of age or older who furnishes cannabis to a person under the age of 18 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.  Except as authorized by law, every person 21 years of age or older who furnishes cannabis to a person under the age of 21, but 18 years of age or older, shall be guilty of an infraction. Cannabis related conduct that contributes to the delinquency of a minor may also be punished by Penal Code section 272.

(c) It is an infraction to consume cannabis while operating a vehicle, boat, aircraft, upon a school or public bus, on school grounds other than at a college or university, in a children’s playground, on a public street or sidewalk, in any manner that endangers others.

(d) Driving while impaired by cannabis shall be punished by Vehicle Code Sections 23103, 23152(a), and 23153.  Impairment occurs when a person’s mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances. This is the sole standard to be used in determining driving under the influence allegations.

11427(a). Except as provided in Section 11427(c) the unlawful cultivation of cannabis shall be punished as a misdemeanor or an infraction.  Unlawful cultivation occurs when cannabis is grown on public or private lands without consent of the owner or government agency supervising that property or the unlicensed cultivation outside of the regulations promulgated pursuant to Sections 11422(a), 11422(b), 11422(c), 11422(e), 11422(f), 11422(g) and 11424(b). Nothing in this Act shall prevent prosecution under other statutes related to environmental protection.

(b) Except as provided in Section 11427(c), the unlawful sale of cannabis shall be punished as a misdemeanor or an infraction. The unlawful sale of cannabis occurs when cannabis is sold outside of the regulations promulgated pursuant to Sections 11423 and 11424(b).

(c) The following activities may be punished as either a misdemeanor or a felony:

(1) The sale of marijuana to children under the age of 16.

(2) The diversion of marijuana to states where it is not legal.

(3) Cannabis related activity that is being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of illegal drugs or other illegal activity.

(4) The use of violence, coercion, or duress in the unlawful cultivation or unlawful distribution of marijuana.

(5) Gross pollution or environmental destruction caused by the unlawful cultivation of marijuana.

(6) Cultivation on public land or on private property where prohibited by the owner.

11428(a). No public agency shall alter, amend, assess, condition, deny, limit, postpone, qualify, revoke, surcharge, or suspend any certificate, franchise, incident, interest, license, opportunity, permit, privilege, right or title of any person because of cannabis use or other conduct permitted by this Act.

SECTION 7

Sections 420, 420.1, 420.2, 420.3, 420.4, 420.5, 420.6, 420.7, 420.8, 420.9, 430, 430.1, and 430.2 are added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:

The regulation of commercial cannabis cultivation, processing, transportation, distribution, and sales shall fall under the purview of the ABC. The ABC shall issue licenses authorizing the cultivation, processing, transportation, distribution, and wholesale and retail sales of cannabis, cannabis seeds, and cannabis plants.

420.1. The classification of the licenses administered by the ABC is initially set as delineated herein.  The ABC, or the Legislature, may later modify these licenses in order to better effectuate the purposes of this Act. The ABC shall issue licenses to all qualifying applicants. Unless otherwise provided herein, a holder of any valid license may hold any of the other various licenses permitted herein, except they may hold a license for only one class in Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class D.

Commercial cultivators and processors involved in germination, cultivation, processing, packaging, conversion, extraction, and wholesale sales of cannabis to licensed manufacturing, processing, or cultivation facilities that produce only CBD-containing cannabis need not apply for a special license. Vendors of products containing only CBD also need not apply for a special license. Both these groups must register with the ABC and maintain regular business licenses. These businesses are subject to inspection for compliance by the ABC.

(a) A “Class A” license shall apply to outdoor commercial cannabis cultivators who cultivate 43,560 square feet (one acre) or more of plant canopy. This license shall authorize the germination, cultivation, processing, packaging, and wholesale sale of cannabis to a licensed manufacturing, processing, cultivation, or retail facility. A holder of this license may sell cannabis to any licensee holding a valid license authorized pursuant to this section and licensee may hold various classes of licenses.  All holders of this license must declare how the cannabis will be processed consistent with similar regulations enforced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Holders of this license must comply with all environmental rules and regulations pertaining to the cultivation of an agricultural crop produced for human consumption. Any processing occurring at the cultivation site may be subject to additional zoning requirements, and inspection by the local health department. The holder of a Class A license may not be issued more than one Class A license. This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(e) of the Health and Safety Code.

(b) A “Class B” license shall authorize the same privileges and restrictions as a Class A license, but shall apply to cultivators who are cultivating up to 21,780 square feet of plant canopy. The holder of a Class C License may not be issued more than three Class C licenses. This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(e) of the Health and Safety Code.

(c) A “Class C” license authorizes the same privileges and restrictions as a Class A license, but shall apply to cultivators who are cultivating up to 10,000 square feet of plant canopy. The holder of a Class C License may not be issued more than three Class C licenses. This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(e) of the Health and Safety Code.

(d) A “Class D” license authorizes the same privileges and restrictions as a Class A license.  This class of license shall apply to cultivators who use in excess of 2600 watts of light in their indoor garden or who process amounts of cannabis commensurate with that amount of plant canopy, or who cultivate in excess of 100 square feet of plant canopy outdoors or who process amounts of cannabis commensurate with that amount of plant canopy.  This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(e) of the Health and Safety Code.

Holders of this license shall be subject to additional regulations relevant to the indoor cultivation of cannabis.  A holder of this license must maintain the requisite electrical and plumbing permits as required by the city and/or county in which the indoor cultivation facility is located. This license may also be subject to controls related to electrical consumption and the disposal of waste associated with the cultivation facility. Outdoor cultivation is subject to relevant zoning laws.

(e) A “Class E” license authorizes the manufacturing and packaging of processed cannabis.  The ABC shall develop the rules, regulations, and procedures necessary for the inspection, tracking, and labeling of all licensed cannabis manufacturing facilities and the cannabis contained therein. This license may be issued for continuous use or for specific seasonal operations.  The California Department of Public Health or local health agency may be designated to enforce the provisions of this class of license.  The ABC shall create separate subclasses of the Class E license for the manufacturing of edibles and the manufacturing of extracts and concentrates.  The holders of this license may distribute cannabis to a licensed retail or wholesale entity.  All cannabis subject to the Class E license must be clearly labeled to show the following: compliance with the California Health and Safety Code for food packaged and labeled for human consumption, the THC and CBD (cannabidiol) content of the cannabis, and a warning that reads: “For Adult Consumption Only, Not For Children”.

(f) A “Class F” license authorizes the sale of cannabis for consumption on the premises where sold. The cultivation, production, processing, distributing, and manufacturing of cannabis is not subject to this class of license. This license shall be used for any establishment exclusively dedicated to adult cannabis use and sales as well as to any bona fide eating or drinking establishment seeking to permit cannabis consumption on premises. This license authorizes the on-premises retail sale of cannabis and on-premises consumption of cannabis indoors and/or outdoors. A city or county may mandate that air- cleaning equipment be used for premises seeking to permit indoor cannabis smoking in their jurisdiction.  The number of Class F licenses issued may be capped by the ABC pursuant to population density in a manner identical to similar caps as related to alcohol. The ABC shall promulgate regulations necessary for the tracking and inspection of all retail sales of cannabis.

(g) A “Class G” license authorizes the sale of cannabis only for off-premises consumption where sold. This shall include seeds, clones, and larger plants. The cultivation, production, processing, distributing, and manufacturing of cannabis is not subject to this class of license. This license shall be used for any establishment exclusively dedicated to adult cannabis use and sales as well as to any establishment not primarily dedicated to the sale of cannabis, such as convenience stores.

(h) A “Class H” license is a private club license that authorizes the same privileges and restrictions as Class C, Class D, Class E, and Class F licenses and applies to members and guests only, for production and consumption of cannabis only on the premises where sold.  The ABC may issue further regulations related to this class of license including a cap on the number of members that a private Class I club may have. It is subject to the same taxation regulations as other licenses.

(i) A “Class I” license is a license authorizing the scientific and medical research of cannabis. The cultivation, production, processing, conversion, extraction, testing and other related activities are subject to this research license. This license does not confer the right to transfer or sell consumable products containing THC except for use in specific research projects.

(j) A “Class J” license is a special event license is issued to event producers who do not qualify for a Class G license. It authorizes the sale of cannabis during an event to guests and attendees for on or off premises consumption. This license shall be used for farmers markets, festivals, parties, and other similar events.  This license only becomes valid when the license holder has obtained event insurance. Holders of Class J licenses will be subject to the same taxes as other retailers.

(k) A “Class K” license is a license authorizing the brokering of cannabis and cannabis-containing derivatives between the various classes of license holders.

(l) A “Class L” license is a license authorizing the testing and labeling of cannabis produced and distributed by other classes of license holders.

(m) A “Class M” license is a license authorizing medical cannabis dispensaries pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.5 through 11362.83. This license shall also be used for the commercial cultivation, processing, distribution, and sales of medical cannabis. This license shall be subject to the provisions of Section 11422(f) of the Health and Safety Code.

420.2 The ABC shall levy fees on the issuance of licenses pursuant to this Act in a manner designed reasonably to cover to costs of assuring compliance with the regulations to be issued.

420.3 The ABC shall issue and enforce regulations concerning commercial cultivation, manufacturing, distributing, transporting, testing, and selling of cannabis that provide for all of the following:

(a) Adequate security measures to protect against the unauthorized access or diversion of cannabis from the cultivator, processor, distributor, transporter, tester, manufacturer or seller in a manner not permitted by the Act. These regulations may include recordkeeping provisions to ensure transparency of finances and non-diversion into a criminal market.

(b) The holder of a Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, Class E, Class H, Class I, Class K and Class M Licenses must submit to an inspection and tracking system to ensure non-diversion and that all cannabis produced by the licensee that is sold is assessed pursuant to Part 14.6 (commencing with Section 34001) of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. The license holder must also provide a detailed crop security plan, along with satisfactory proof of the ability of the licensee to provide for that security.

(c) Holders of all Classes of licenses shall be subject to an inspection and tracking systems to ensure that cannabis is not sold by a licensee if that cannabis has not been manufactured subject to an assessment provided for in Part 14.6 (commencing with Section 34001) of Division 2 of the revenue and Taxation Code.

(d) The holder of any commercial license may be subject to regulations adopted by the ABC pursuant to this chapter.

(e) Punishments for violations in actions against licensees shall be in substantial accord with those applicable to the regulation of alcohol sales, including penalties for permitting persons under 21 years of age to purchase THC containing cannabis products and other appropriate regulatory provisions concerning such matters as the time of sale, deliveries, and signage. It is the intent of the people in enacting this act that the regulation of cannabis sales be consistent with the statutory guidance regarding alcohol sales in Chapter 16 (commencing with Section 25600) to the extent that consistency is feasible.

420.4. Beginning 60 days after the operative date of the regulations issued pursuant to this chapter, the ABC shall begin to enforce the provisions of this chapter.[ER2]

420.5(a). The ABC will appoint a Cannabis Appeals Board. The Cannabis Appeals Board, (the “Board”), shall exercise the powers as are vested in it by this chapter and may adopt such rules pertaining to appeals and other matters within its jurisdiction as may be required.

The Board and its duly authorized representatives in the performance of its duties under this chapter shall have the powers of a head of a department as set forth in Article 2 (commencing with Section 11180) of Chapter 2 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code. 26081. Any person aggrieved by a final decision of the ABC issuing, denying, suspending, revoking, or ordering any penalty assessment against a registration for the cultivation, manufacture, testing, transportation, storage, distribution, sale, purchase, or possession of cannabis may appeal to the board, which shall review the decision subject to the limitations that may be imposed by the Legislature.

(b) No decision of the ABC shall become effective during the period in which an appeal may be filed, and the filing of an appeal shall stay the effect of the decision until such time as a final order is made by the board.

(1) The review by the Board of a decision of the ABC shall be limited to whether:

(A) The ABC has proceeded without, or in excess of, its jurisdiction.

(B) The ABC has proceeded in the manner required by law.

(C) The decision is supported by the findings.

(D) The findings are supported by substantial evidence in the light of the whole record.

420.6. Each order of the Board on appeal from a decision of the ABC shall be in writing and shall be filed by delivering copies to the parties personally or in the manner prescribed by Section 1013 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Each order shall become final upon being filed as provided in this section, and there shall be no reconsideration or rehearing by the Board.

420.7(a). Any person affected by a final order of the Board, including the ABC, may apply only to the Supreme Court or to the Court of Appeal of the appellate district in which the proceeding arose, for a writ of review of the final order. The application for writ of review shall be made within 30 days after filing of the final order of the Board.

(b) No court of this state, except the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal to the extent specified in this article, shall have jurisdiction to review, affirm, reverse, correct, or annul any order, rule, or decision of the Department, or to suspend, stay, or delay the operation or execution of it or to restrain, enjoin, or interfere with the Department in the performance of its duties, but a writ of mandate shall lie from the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal in any proper case.

(c) No decision of the ABC that has been appealed to the Board and no final order of the Board shall become effective during the period in which application may be made for a writ of review, as provided in this section.

(d) The filing of a petition for, or the pendency of, a writ of review shall not of itself stay or suspend the operation of any order, rule, or decision of the Department, but the court before which the petition is filed may stay or suspend, in whole or in part, the operation of the order, rule, or decision of the ABC subject to review, upon the terms and conditions that it by order directs.

420.8.  The writ of review shall be made returnable at a time and place specified by court order and shall direct the board to certify the whole record of the ABC in the case to the court within the time specified. No new or additional evidence shall be introduced in the court, but the cause shall be heard on the whole record of the Department as certified to by the Board.

420.9(a). The review by the court shall not extend further than to determine, based on the whole record of the ABC as certified by the Board, whether:

(1) The ABC has proceeded without or in excess of its jurisdiction.

(2) The ABC has proceeded in the manner required by law.

(3) The ABC of the Department is supported by the findings.

(4) The findings in the ABC’s decision are supported by substantial evidence in the light of the whole record.

(5) There is relevant evidence which, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have been produced or which was improperly excluded at the hearing before the Department.

(b) Nothing in this article shall permit the court to hold a trial de novo, to take evidence, or to exercise its independent judgment on the evidence.

430. The Board, the ABC, and each party to the action or proceeding before the Board shall have the right to appear in the review proceeding. Following the hearing, the court shall enter judgment either affirming or reversing the decision of the ABC or the court may remand the case for further proceedings before or reconsideration by the ABC.

430.1. The provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure relating to writs of review shall, insofar as applicable, apply to proceedings in the courts as provided by this article. A copy of every pleading filed pursuant to this article shall be served on the Board, the ABC, and on each party who entered an appearance before the Board.

430.2. Whenever any matter is pending before the Board or a court of record involving a dispute between the ABC and a registrant, and the parties to the dispute agree upon a settlement or adjustment of it, the court shall, upon the stipulation by the parties that an agreement has been reached, remand the matter to the Department.

SECTION 8

Section 4. Part 14.6 (commencing with Section 34001) is added to Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, to read:

PART 14.6. CANNABIS TAXES

CHAPTER 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS AND DEFINITIONS

34001. It is the intent of the people in enacting this part to utilize any revenues generated from the commercial regulation of cannabis for the public benefit by enacting a tax on cannabis.

34002. This part shall be known and may be cited as the “Cannabis Tax Law.”

34003. Except where the context otherwise requires, the definitions set forth in Part 1 (commencing with Section 6001) govern the construction of this part.

34004. The Cannabis Tax may be imposed on all classes of license other than a Class I or Class M license.

 

CHAPTER 2. IMPOSITION OF TAX

34011(a). All businesses that sell cannabis related products shall be subject to a tax based on their gross sales of the THC related products. This tax is not a substitute for any other taxes. It will be collected in addition to any other taxes that apply, except as provided in Section 34011(b). There shall be a minimum of three sectors of cannabis production.

(1)   Cultivation and manicuring

(2)   Wholesale sales

(3)   Retail sales

In addition there may be a fourth sector: Processing into edibles, concentrates or other products for consumption. There may also be other sectors that have not yet developed but that may develop in the future.

The businesses from each sector shall pay the tax at the rate of six percent (6%) of gross receipts from sales of THC containing products whether produce or processed products.

 

Vertically integrated companies shall pay the tax on the “virtual sale” of the product as it transfers from one sector to another. Direct sales by farmers to the public will not be subject to a wholesale tax, but shall be subject only to the retail tax.

 

For the purpose of this section a farmer is defined as a business that derives more than seventy-five percent (75%) of gross cannabis income from cultivating cannabis.

 

 

For the purpose of this section a “virtual sale” is defined as a transfer from one sector to another. In each sector, the “value or cost” of each transfer will be determined as a percentage of the retail price and the customary industry mark-up policy. These taxes cannot be collected before the final product is sold.

 

(b)  Exemption for medicinal preparations.   Products licensed solely for medicinal use pursuant to Section 420.1(m) may be exempted from taxes under Section 34011(a) at the processing, wholesale, and retail levels upon the determination of the Department of Health.   This category shall include (1) products whose cannabinoid content exceeds 66% CBD (cannabidiol); (2) herbal balms, poultices and cosmetics formulated for external use only; and (3) other purely medicinal products designated by the Department of Health.  This exemption shall not apply to any product that is also licensed for non-medicinal use or is mainly used for non-medical purposes.

 

(c) Class L facilities shall be subject to a one percent (1%) tax based on the gross receipts received for their cannabis testing services. This tax is not a substitute for any other taxes.

 

(d) Cities or Counties shall be allowed to impose up to an additional five percent (5%) sales tax on retail sales of non-medicinal THC marijuana products. This tax will be configured with the regular sales tax. Patients requiring cannabis for the treatment of serious debilitating illnesses shall be exempt from all retail taxes on cannabis upon the approval of their primary care physician. The State Department of Health will oversee and issue identification for these patients.

 

(1)   Should a county impose a sales tax, it will share the revenue from the tax with the city in which the sale was made with the county receiving sixty percent (60%) and the city receiving forty percent (40%). Cities and towns within a county that imposes a special-marijuana sales tax would be precluded from adding additional taxes on the sale. This tax will be configured with the regular sales tax at the time of purchase but the full amount of the additional tax will be retained by the county and city.

 

(2)   Should there be no sales tax imposed by a county, cities within the county are permitted to impose a special-marijuana sales tax of five percent (5%). This tax will be configured with the regular sales tax at the time of purchase but the full amount of the additional tax will be retained by the city.

 

(e) Neither the county or city, nor state agencies may impose any cannabis-specific or cannabis business–specific taxes other than those specified in this initiative.

 

CHAPTER 3. COLLECTION AND ADMINISTRATION

34021. To the extent feasible or practicable, the provisions of Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 6451), Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 6701), Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6901), and Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 7051) of Part 1 shall govern returns and payments, determinations, collections of fees, overpayments and refunds, and administration under this part.

34022. The ABC shall enforce this part and may prescribe, adopt, and enforce rules and regulations relating to the administration and enforcement of this part. The ABC may prescribe the extent to which any ruling and regulation shall be applied without retroactive effect.

 

CHAPTER 4. DISPOSITION OF PROCEEDS AND ADJUSTMENT OF THE TAX

34031(a). 34031. Any amount due to the state under this part shall be paid in the form of a remittance payable to the State Board of Equalization.

The Cannabis Tax Fund is hereby created in the State Treasury. The Fund shall consist of all revenues deposited therein pursuant to this Part.

(b) Moneys in the Fund shall be appropriated as follows:

(1) Forty percent (40%) to the county government in which the funds were collected. If it was collected in a city, the county and the city will divide these funds equally.

(2) Thirty percent (30%) to the state’s General Fund.

(3) Twenty percent (20%) to education, divided as follows:

a)      Five percent (5%) to preschool education for student instruction.

b)      Five percent (5%) to primary school education for student instruction.

c)      Five percent (5%) to secondary school education for student instruction.

d)     Five percent (5%) to community colleges for student instruction.

 

(4) Five percent (5%) to research programs to:

(a) Evaluate the safety and efficacy of marijuana for medical and social purposes

(b) Assess and advance scientific methods for addressing drug abuse, driving and employment safety concerns

(c) Evaluate the impact and implementation of this act.

(5) Five percent (5%) to drug education, and drug abuse prevention and treatment programs.

SECTION 9

Section 18901.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

18901.3. (a) Subject to the limitations of subdivision (b), pursuant to Section 115(d)(1)(A) of Public Law 104-193 (21 U.S.C. Sec. 862a(d)(1)(A)), California opts out of the provisions of Section 115(a)(2) of Public Law 104-193 (21 U.S.C. Sec. 862a(a)(2)). A convicted drug felon shall be eligible to receive food stamps under this section.

SECTION 10

No reimbursement is required by this Act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this Act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

SECTION 11

The provisions of this Act are severable. If any provision of this Act or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

SECTION 12. The provisions of this Act shall become effective November 5, 2014.

 

The world has changed. Act like it already.

changetheworld.1

Yesterday the world of weed changed dramatically, no matter what the paranoid “sky is falling” stoners want to tell you.

The US Department of Justice and the nation’s top cop, Eric Holder, released a memo yesterday that allows for Colorado and Washington to move forward with their adult use cannabis programs without interference (and states with medical programs); as long as the programs do not cross certain boundaries and are well regulated. The announcement is a watershed moment in cannabis reform, no matter what your tin-foil hat conspiracy buddies want to tell you about it being a trap .

Sometimes the world changes. I cannot fathom how a person could read the memo released and come away feeling more paranoid than before. Here is the beginning of the memo for review, and we will get to the real ground breaking shit in the second half in a minute:

Office of the Deputy Attorney General
August 29, 2013MEMORANDUM FOR ALL UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS

FROM: James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement

In October 2009 and June 2011, the Department issued guidance to federal prosecutors concerning marijuana enforcement under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This memorandum updates that guidance in light of state ballot initiatives that legalize under state law the possession of small amounts of marijuana and provide for the regulation of marijuana production, processing, and sale.The guidance set forth herein applies to all federal enforcement activity, including civil enforcement and criminal investigations and prosecutions, concerning marijuana in all states.
(TRANSLATION: THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN AND WE HAVE UPDATED OUR MARCHING ORDERS. THE GUIDANCE IN THIS MEMO APPLIES TO ALL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY. THIS MEANS YOU!)As the Department noted in its previous guidance, Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels. The Department of Justice is committed to enforcement of the CSA consistent with those determinations. The Department is also committed to using its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats in the most effective, consistent, and rational way. In furtherance of those objectives, as several states enacted laws relating to the use of marijuana for medical purposes, the Department in recent years has focused its efforts on certain enforcement priorities that are particularly important to the federal government:

(Some have pointed to this statement as evidence that there is NO sweeping change happening. I beg to differ. I also beg to remind people that while there has been enforcement, there has also been a lot of weed sales tolerated over the past years too.)
  1. Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors; (Cool with that)
  2. Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels; (Cool with that)
  3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states; (Extra cool with that. Why? Because defining the difference in diversion from states where it is legal to those where it is not seemingly opens the door for interstate commerce from states where it is legal to other states where it is legal, no? Maybe wishful thinking, but I am an optimist.)
  4. Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity; (Cool with that. stay off the dope)
  5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana; (Cool with that, hate violence and guns.)
  6. Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use; (Cool with that. even WA states flawed DUI bill has not resulted in mass arrests…just Seattle PD handing out Doritos at Hempfest)
  7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and (Cool with that. If I gotta pay rent, so do you)
  8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property. (Cool with that. I was in Yosemite the other day burning fat joints and no one seemed to notice or care. The world has changed)

These priorities will continue to guide the Department’s enforcement of the CSA against marijuana-related conduct. Thus, this memorandum serves as guidance to Department attorneys and law enforcement to focus their enforcement resources and efforts, including prosecution, on persons or organizations whose conduct interferes with any one or more of these priorities, regardless of state law.

Now the big paranoid response to this is that “This is just like the Ogden memo and look how many people got fucked on that one.”

I love our movement’s Utopian rewriting of history on this one. If you listened to our side of the argument, everyone behaved like Saints after the first memo, and this completely out of left field attack was made on our peaceful Dudley-Do-Right community of non-profit weed caregivers. OH THE TRAGEDY!!!

But I was there. I remember the day the Ogden memo came out. I also recall that it inspired the Colorado legislature to develop and implement the program there that has been mostly successful and has allowed for more people to get in the game and make some money under a state sanctioned program than ever before.

I also recall that every jackass with a few thousand bucks of weed and a cash register opened a dispensary in areas with no regulation and when the local planning commission questioned them, or decided they did not want that use in their jurisdiction, they all decided to sue the city, tell the sheriff to eat a bowl of dicks, and disregarded public sentiment based on their belief that Attorney General Eric Holder had given them the right to do whatever they pleased.

I also remember every alternative weekly rag in the State of California filling up with ads of half-naked broads hovering over a smoking bong offering weed sacks for $25. I recall jackass dispensaries doing flier drops at high schools. I remember every weed grower doubling their garden size and pushing their weight to the max. I remember dispensaries setting up shop right next door to day cares and telling the day care operators that they just needed to deal with it.

But the enforcement that followed the Ogden memo had nothing to do with our behaviors. Nothing. It was all just a trap to arrest a very small percentage of the industry and to charge them with crimes so that we could pack the jails with unsuspecting dispensary operators who were complete and total angels. (rolls eyes)

Now do not get it twisted…..I am not supporting or defending the enforcement actions of this administration; but I am also not naive enough to think that our overzealous actions following the memo had zero to do with it all.

Shit rolls uphill before it rolls downhill. If we piss off enough local officials, law enforcement, and concerned citizens they are going to demand that something be done. When we take the position of a free-for-all race to the bottom, are we surprised when local and state officials demand the feds take enforcement actions?

Were there some cases brought where the people who were targeted did not deserve it? YES. Absolutely yes. That is the sad and unfortunate part of law enforcement. From reading the discovery in my case, I can tell you for certain that these dudes know a hell of a lot less than we think they do. It does not surprise me when a good dude like Chris Williams is caught up in the nightmare because law enforcement has no idea of who is who, or what is what, in this evolving landscape of limited weed enforcement.

Now we can choose to be skeptics and see this momentous shift in federal enforcement policy as “more of the same,” or as some have dubbed it “Ogden v.2.0.” That would be a huge mistake and here is why….it disregards the entire second half of the memo and the SWEEPING instructions it gives as to how to interact with state licensed programs. Check it out:

Outside of these enforcement priorities, the federal government has traditionally relied on states and local law enforcement agencies to address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws. For example, the Department of Justice has not historically devoted resources to prosecuting individuals whose conduct is limited to possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property. Instead, the Department has left such lower-level or localized activity to state and local authorities and has stepped in to enforce the CSA only when the use, possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana has threatened to cause one of the harms identified above.
(Here is the set up for the kicker. basic translation: We have already allowed states to enforce, or not enforce, the CSA at their discretion for possession and low level stuff)
(But peep this out. Here is where this memo departs from Ogden in a HUGE way.)
The enactment of state laws that endeavor to authorize marijuana production, distribution, and possession by establishing a regulatory scheme for these purposes affects this traditional joint federal-state approach to narcotics enforcement.(The world has changed) The Department’s guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests.(Since the world has changed, we are going to have to trust that states with these programs know what they are doing) A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice.(If the state has an effective program that is really working, we must respect it) Jurisdictions that have implemented systems that provide for regulation of marijuana activity must provide the necessary resources and demonstrate the willingness to enforce their laws and regulations in a manner that ensures they do not undermine federal enforcement priorities. (If the local and state authorities are doing their job and making sure their programs do not violate one of the 8 points above, then we should leave them alone)In jurisdictions that have enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form and that have also implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana, conduct in compliance with those laws and regulations is less likely to threaten the federal priorities set forth above.(If these states put their best foot forward in regulating these systems, we should leave them alone) Indeed, a robust system may affirmatively address those priorities by, for example, implementing effective measures to prevent diversion of marijuana outside of the regulated system and to other states, prohibiting access to marijuana by minors, and replacing an illicit marijuana trade that funds criminal enterprises with a tightly regulated market in which revenues are tracked and accounted for.(Further clarification….”If the program is working and not crossing our boundaries then we should leave them alone). In those circumstances, consistent with the traditional allocation of federal-state efforts in this area, enforcement of state law by state and local law enforcement and regulatory bodies should remain the primary means of addressing marijuana-related activity. (PAY ATTENTION HERE! STATE LAWS AND THEIR ENFORCEMENT SHOULD TAKE PRECEDENT!!!!) If state enforcement efforts are not sufficiently robust to protect against the harms set forth above, the federal government may seek to challenge the regulatory structure itself in addition to continuing to bring individual enforcement actions, including criminal prosecutions, focused on those harms. (Just as important….IF YOU FUCK UP AND DO NOT DO A GOOD JOB OF ENFORCING AND REGULATING YOUR SYSTEM WE WILL BE FORCED TO TAKE ACTION. I am guessing they are talking directly to us here my fellow Californians.)

The Department’s previous memoranda specifically addressed the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in states with laws authorizing marijuana cultivation and distribution for medical use. In those contexts, the Department advised that it likely was not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on seriously ill individuals, or on their individual caregivers. In doing so, the previous guidance drew a distinction between the seriously ill and their caregivers, on the one hand, and large-scale, for-profit commercial enterprises, on the other, and advised that the latter continued to be appropriate targets for federal enforcement and prosecution. In drawing this distinction, the Department relied on the common-sense judgment that the size of a marijuana operation was a reasonable proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the federal enforcement priorities set forth above. (BIG ONE HERE! We know we issued you a memo before about medical marijuana that may have given the impression that ONLY small users and sick people were not to be targeted. We sort of told you that if a place was big enough that they might be a good target….now read the NEXT paragraph where they say they were wrong!)

As explained above, however, both the existence of a strong and effective state regulatory system, and an operation’s compliance with such a system, may allay the threat that an operation’s size poses to federal enforcement interests.(This is fucking money right here. “However…we were wrong. If there is a strong regulatory system in place that the organization is in compliance with then the size of their operation should not matter. That is huge.) Accordingly, in exercising prosecutorial discretion, prosecutors should not consider the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone as a proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the Department’s enforcement priorities listed above.(You can no longer send letters and press forfeiture or criminal charges on people just because they are big and popular. The place has to actually violate one of the issues listed above. This is a shot across the bow of Northern District US Attorney Melinda Haag and I am sure Harborside and BPG are extremely thrilled.) Rather, prosecutors should continue to review marijuana cases on a case-by-case basis and weigh all available information and evidence, including, but not limited to, whether the operation is demonstrably in compliance with a strong and effective state regulatory system.(Instead of making some bullshit decision to prosecute based on size you must actually do some work and see if the group is in compliance or not with state law. That is a huge fucking victory.) A marijuana operation’s large scale or for-profit nature may be a relevant consideration for assessing the extent to which it undermines a particular federal enforcement priority. The primary question in all cases – and in all jurisdictions – should be whether the conduct at issue implicates one or more of the enforcement priorities listed above. (Your marching orders are listed above and your cases should only involve issues that violate one of the 8 reasonable principles listed above).

So when I hear the lunatic fringe of cannabis dismiss this memo based on their “once bitten-twice shy” view of the situation, I have to wonder if they are reading the same memo as I am. When I hear the “Don’t fall for it. It is a trap” bullshit floating around, I have to step back and wonder if some people will ever really allow the world to change.

Is there a reason to move forward with caution and to hold the administration’s feet to the fire? Yes. Of course.

Is there also a reason to celebrate this huge victory and be hopeful that the world has indeed changed in our favor? Do we benefit more by automatically rejecting this historic policy shift in hopes of being right that it is some big trap? Does it make sense that the USDOJ would put forth such a robust memorandum and waste the administration’s political capital, only to trap a few more unsuspecting weedheads in the depths of their bloated prison system? Really? I just do not see it like that…..

The infamous Ogden memo was released in Obama’s first year in office. it was watered down and weak, and it was unfortunately misinterpreted heavily by both people in our movement and industry, as well as law enforcement and prosecutors. It was a politically correct and wishy-washy declaration that left a lot to be desired. It was carefully worded to not give too much power to either side of the argument, and it resulted in some bad behavior and terrible enforcement.

But it also allowed for the industry to flourish in many ways too. There is no denying that. The Ogden memo changed the game then, which is why it was so disappointing to see the administration pull back on it and appease law enforcement and NIMBY politicians with bullshit enforcement aimed at limiting Ogden’s impact. But there would be no Colorado or Washington systems in place without the Ogden memo, so remember that too in your “the sky is falling” hyperbole.

Now let me explain the last paragraph of the new memo for those who choose to disregard the entire content of this directive to look for their cynical place in history. Here is the part of the memo that declares that the USDOJ is not allowing a free-for-all and will still support the prosecutors overall decisions:

As with the Department’s previous statements on this subject, this memorandum is intended solely as a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion. (This memo does not change the law because we cannot do that. It is meant to provide direction to our US Attorneys) This memorandum does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law, including federal laws relating to marijuana, regardless of state law.(We are not giving up our right to enforce Federal laws if we want to.) Neither the guidance herein nor any state or local law provides a legal defense to a violation of federal law, including any civil or criminal violation of the CSA.(This does not give away pour right to prosecute if we really want to. we can still hang your ass if you get out of line)Even in jurisdictions with strong and effective regulatory systems, evidence that particular conduct threatens federal priorities will subject that person or entity to federal enforcement action, based on the circumstances.(Even if you are in a state with a good program, but threaten our system based on the 8 points above, we will come and bust your ass.) This memorandum is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any matter civil or criminal.(This is a memo, and not a change in law. We cannot do that, so this memo is not evidence of guilt or innocence should we drag your ass to court.) It applies prospectively to the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in future cases and does not provide defendants or subjects of enforcement action with a basis for reconsideration of any pending civil action or criminal prosecution.(This memo is meant to direct US Attorneys to not prosecute most weed cases that are in compliance with state laws; but if we do, this is not a legally binding document that will get you off the hook. It is a suggestion to our staff.) Finally, nothing herein precludes investigation or prosecution, even in the absence of any one of the factors listed above, in particular circumstances where investigation and prosecution otherwise serves an important federal interest.(If one of our own decides to come after you, this document was not created for you to defend yourself with. If you fly across our radar, we can still come and fuck with you if we want.)

This is the paragraph that has everyone’s panties in a ruffle it would seem.

I do not get it. This is boilerplate “we reserve the right to do our job regardless of what this memo says” stuff. Of course they are going to make this qualification. They are not going to leave their people blowing  in the wind.

All of the flack they caught from the lack of this clarity in the Ogden memo has made them certainly clarify their position. I do not think we could expect them to say “this memo is now the law of the land and if our enforcement divisions or prosecutors charge you with a crime, just show them this memo as evidence that you are free to go.”

I understand that some people will not acknowledge change has happened until there is a 100% stand down and our brothers and sisters are all released from prison. I appreciate that vigilance; but it also fails to recognize the momentous progress we have made and the fact that the world IS CHANGING rapidly.

If we cannot get on board and act like the world is changing then who will? If we cannot understand the huge victory this memo was for our community and continue to move forward and make these changes real and lasting in our community, then who will?

The world has changed. Act like it.

Or run around acting like everyone is out to get us and that this is just some trap to take your weed garden again. I will choose to have my glass be half full on this one. Join me is a toast to cannabis freedom.

I am going to write Eric Holder a thank you card today. Positive reinforcement can only help.

Fear and Loathing in Medical Cannabis

steaman.others.1

 

I often wonder how we got here. I mean…I know how we got here from standing here for so long. But how did we really get down the rabbit hole into this incredibly complex interwoven jumblefuck of laws and policies we call medical cannabis?

….the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

Medical cannabis is wonderful. For those who use cannabis as a therapeutic agent solely, cannabis is a miracle. I know a lot of these folks…People who use cannabis sparingly to mitigate their symptoms to increase their quality of life. There are real cannabis healing miracles happening all over. Medical cannabis is amazing.

But is it enough?

Of course not. In fact, it can be quite debilitating. Sure….California, Colorado, and Washington have fairly robust and easy to access programs in place. But the programs we see developing in other states is incredibly burdensome, and to many, just not worth the hassle.

Why? Because the categorization of “medical” is the most restrictive category to all out legalization.

So in many states we see the “You want medical? We will give you medical” phenomena.

Look at New Jersey. After several years they finally opened a dispensary only to have it shut back down due to lack of medicine this summer just months after opening. Maine has a very limited program in place. with a very small portion of the population there signing up as patients, and they have had issues with pesticides because of the strict medical organic cultivation standards required there. Washington DC has a rigid program in place that only allows patients on their death bed access. Connecticut requires a licensed pharmacist risk their license to dispense there. Rhode Island finally has its first dispensary open after a four year struggle deciding what was medical enough. Massachusetts has vowed to implement a rigid program. Illinois has vowed to implement an even more rigid one.

Do you see a pattern here?

We are going backwards. Access is becoming more difficult…not easier. There is theoretically more of it, as more states come on line; but it is getting more difficult and less cost effective for people to even participate in. They are adding more and more limitations to programs and making it more difficult for patients in many ways, including making cannabis WAY more expensive. New Jersey’s dispensary was selling medicine for $600 an ounce? YIKES!

We continue to build barriers to entry into the system. Not just for people who need a million bucks just to get started in some states; but also just the average patient. What patient on SSI can afford $600 for an ounce? Or even $300 for that matter. It can be a lot.

Yet we continue to sell the medical angle almost exclusively. It is like our old fall back. It has worked, and we continue to double down.

Instead of saying, “I like weed, and I am a good person,” we are quick to point out how CBD is “not even psychoactive” and is a “miracle for everything that ails you.” It is like we are so scared of being lumped in as a pothead for our love of being high that we have decided that it is easier to say “See…I am not even trying to get high. I just really need my medicine (in huge amounts many times a day).”

Yeah. I need my medicine too…..it happens to be getting high.

Why do I have to be a bad guy because I like weed for more than just medical reasons? I have medical issues, but I certainly do not just use cannabis solely as a medicine. I smoke weed to make life more enjoyable.

I quit drinking over 5 years ago (best thing I ever did). Booze are not a good option for me. Weed is. I am not ashamed of that. I refuse to be.

Yet we still see a large majority of our time, energy, and resources being put towards promoting the restrictive classification of medical marijuana and only promoting its therapeutic uses, when the real argument is that we should end prohibition and stop the madness.

Change the dialogue and change the game….

If we begin to move away from demanding our medical rights, to insisting upon our right to use cannabis safely as an adult for whatever we see fit, we CAN get past this medical cannabis regulatory nightmare. We CAN make it happen. We can end mass incarceration.

Or we can continue to beg for the world’s strictest and most expensive regulatory models, and not be surprised when decent weed still costs $60 an eighth for another couple of decades. The choice is ours and ours alone.