City of Fallen Angels?

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So thousands of people in LA lost their jobs today. Super. I find it hard to believe that some in our community are celebrating this loss of access and return to 2007 levels of access in the nation’s second largest City.

Here is where Prop. D in LA gets a little crazy for me now that it has passed…

All existing medical marijuana businesses must immediately cease operation; except that any medical marijuana business that that does not violate any of the medical marijuana business restrictions described in Section 45.19.6.3, Limited Immunity, may continue to operate but only so long as subsections A through D and G through 0 of Section 45.19.6.3 remain valid, effective and operative.

And here is the definition of “medical marijuana business” just so you know who all must cease operations immediately….

(1) Any location where marijuana is cultivated, processed, distributed,
delivered, or given away to a qualified patient, a person with an identification card, or a primary caregiver.

(2) Any vehicle or other mode of transportation, stationary or mobile, which is
used to transport, distribute, deliver, or give away marijuana to a qualified patient, a person with an identification card, or a primary caregiver.

Yup…You got a pot grow that cares for more than 3 people? CLOSE. You got a delivery service? CLOSE. Not on the pre-ICO list? CLOSE. Edible kitchen? CLOSE.

But then peep this further…..

Then it says this:

Every medical marijuana business is prohibited that has one or more Managers who are also Managers at the same time of another medical marijuana business in the City;

So even your dispensary cannot have a pot grow in the City because technically a “medical marijuana business” is defined as a “location” meaning your grow facility is indeed a different business and you are now the manager of two businesses in the City…a NO-NO.

WTF? Chaos, baby…….

Freedom Over Fear

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Can our desire for freedom overcome our fears of oppression and failure?

Where weed is concerned our society is in the middle of a mid-life crisis. We are beginning to understand that the war on drugs has been a complete waste of time and we are ready to buy a motorcycle and head out on the open road for a little fun and adventure. It is painful to wake up and realize that we have spent so much time, energy, and of course money on taking people to jail for weed. It is difficult to comprehend how we even continue to allow for this bullshit one day longer.

Game over, drug warriors. People want their weed and they want it now. Quit bullshitting us ,and acting like dragging mostly poor people to jail for weed is some sort of moral crusade. Weed is awesome and people know it. Just let it go. It is over. You lost.

Weed legalization is happening, and if you have not noticed, it seems to be happening pretty fast. On Friday, the world’s oldest regional organization, The Organization of American States (OAS), which includes 35 member nations released a report that encouraged the legalization af marijuana. Boom…there you have it. This is not me spouting off about “Quit taking people to jail for weed.” This is a report from world leaders of 35 countries in our region who are fed up with the war on drugs and its over-reach into their societies. It is about time. Here is what the New York Times reported on it:

MEXICO CITY — A comprehensive report on drug policy in the Americas released Friday by a consortium of nations suggests that the legalization of marijuana, but not other illicit drugs, be considered among a range of ideas to reassess how the drug war is carried out.

The report, released by the Organization of American States walked a careful line in not recommending any single approach to the drug problem and encouraging “flexibility.”

Prompted by President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia at the Summit of the Americas last year to answer growing dissatisfaction and calls for new strategies in the drug war, the report’s 400 pages mainly summarize and distill previous research and debate on the subject.

Yet with all of the bold rhetoric we see in the press and in our discussions in our lives about ending the madness of weed prohibition, there is still an inherent fear by most in our community to approach the subject because of the 40 bullshit years of misinformation brainwashing people that weed was evil and only for losers. It is still more difficult than anticipated for people to find their courage when approaching the subject with their friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers who have bought into the drug war propaganda.

This must stop. We are right and they are wrong. No one who uses weed deserves to lose their job, their standing in the community, their kids, or repeatedly have their privacy disregarded because they like weed. That is ultimate hypocrisy and bullshit in a society plastered with drugs, and ads for drugs. Back up off the non-toxic mellow herbs and quit pretending weed is some evil shit. It is not. It is likely one of the greatest resources for humans on the planet.

Fly your weed freak flag loud and proud my friend. Your freedom is greater than your fear.

What has been astonishing though is not the fear from everyday people who casually use weed; but from those who are supposedly actively working to promote cannabis freedom. Some “reformers” and activists seem ready to negotiate away basic freedoms in fear of how society will perceive our love for weed and freedom. We are becoming our own worst enemy, as we see the gates of cannabis freedom opening. It is many of our own who are standing in our own way, holding the gates closed and clinging to their hopes of hanging on to this quasi-legal limited freedom meal ticket for just a while longer.

Just like the drug warriors who have abused their powers to lock up millions of our brothers and sisters for some weed will be held accountable for their actions, we will also hold those in our own court accountable for their treachery. It will all come out in the wash…the back-room deals will become front page news and those responsible for retarding our growth will have to answer for their deceit.

Those who are willing to surrender freedom because of fear are no friends or associates of mine. We are not even playing the same game. Walk tall if you want to walk next to me. I am walking towards freedom.

I understand that there will be limitations and that we will likely see incremental and measured steps towards real global legalization with weed NASCARs and everything; but I will be damned if it will be our own supposed allies who turn their back on us in order to make a buck or two are going to bend us over. We are better than that. Weed is better than that.

So when you hear this figurehead, or that community leader, spouting off about how we should compromise our freedom in fear of retaliation from the feds or public officials, just know that it is bullshit and they have likely cut a deal that sold you and your right to a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant down the river.

I see real freedom on the horizon, and I am not scared to do what it takes to get there. Blood and treasure are sure to be lost, but the ultimate goal of freedom will always outweigh the fear of oppression. Anyone who says otherwise is a coward and should not be trusted.

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#LEGALBYSUMMER

More IS Better

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A week from today, Los Angeles is set to vote on the future of medical marijuana in their City. There are 3 competing ballot measures to regulate the industry.

The first is Measure D. This is the MOST restrictive and MOST expensive measure. It limits the number of collectives to an arbitrary 135 that were listed in 2007 on the City’s illegal moratorium and Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) and raises the tax rate for weed by 20%.

It was crafted by the ultra-corrupt City Council who has recently voted to ban dispensaries altogether and was written by cannabis enemy LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. The LA Times has suggested that instead of opposing all three, that Measure D is the closest thing to accomplishing NO medical marijuana. Here is their quote on that:

It would be easy enough to urge a no vote on all three, and to call on the city to impose a full-scale ban instead. After all, The Times opposed Proposition 215 from the outset, partly because it was sloppily written and partly because it set up an inevitable conflict with the federal government, which continues to classify marijuana as illegal and dangerous….

Measure D will come the closest to accomplishing that goal, or at least will put us on the right road.

Most important, it would impose limits on the number of marijuana businesses in the city, allowing about 135 dispensaries to remain open — those that were operating and registered under city laws in 2007 and that sought to re-register in 2011.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-end-marijuana-measure-d-e-f-20130510,0,448078.story

So get that…the super conservative LA Times who thinks dispensaries should be outright BANNED, and the City Council, who also thinks dispensaries should be BANNED, agree that the closest thing to an outright ban they can get passed is Measure D, and they are supporting this effort to severely limit and cripple the local market.

The dumbfounding part is that people in our own industry are backing this play….Which brings me to Measure E.

Measure E was put forth by a coalition of UFCW, Americans for Safe Access, and the Greater Los Angeles Caregivers Alliance. It also limited the number of collectives the the 135 listed as pre-ICO/illegal moratorium, but did not raise the tax rate. When the City made the power move to put their initiative on the ballot, ASA, UFCW, and GLACA all folded their efforts to back the City’s in an unprecedented and puzzling move that can only be seen as protectionism at its finest. There is no other explanation for a group spending their hard earned money to gather signatures for an initiative only to abandon their own initiative in favor of a more expensive model.  It is simple collusion with City Hall at its finest.

The problem is that these folks are now in bed with those who have spent the last 5 years undermining their businesses and trying to get rid of them. Way to go.

Which brings us to Measure F, which to me is the no brainer of the choices on the ballot if you are for MORE ACCESS. Silly me….I thought that is what we were standing on the street corner fighting our asses off for all of these years.

Here is what the LA Times says about Measure F:

Measure F, by contrast, sets no limits. It includes some strong rules and protections — in some cases stronger than those in D. But the city simply can’t sustain an unlimited number of dispensaries. Supporters of F say there would be de facto limits as a result of the requirements about how close dispensaries could be to schools, parks and one another, and that the final number would be in the hundreds. But what guarantee is there? Certainly nothing in the law.

So when the conservative hacks at the LA Times state that Measure F is bad because it provides too much access, even though offering stronger protections, my liberal freedom-loving radar goes off and tells me to do the opposite of what these right wing zealots are pushing. I am seriously surprised that more of the activist and reform community leaders are not joining me in my support of Measure F. I am seriously disheartened that a large contingency of activist groups and community leaders would turn their back on MORE access. It is appalling.

Of course, there is the CANORML lack of position at all stating that people should vote on all three. Great…way to take a stand there. There is also the mudslinging position of dispensary operators who would be protected by Measure D in the press trying to paint their competition as outlaws and thugs. Here is what one dispensary operator told the LA Times:

Yami Bolanos, who runs PureLife Alternative Wellness Center, is backing Proposition D, which would shrink the number of pot shops to about 130. Only dispensaries like Bolanos’, which opened before the adoption of a failed 2007 city moratorium on new shops, would be allowed to continue operating.

At the City Hall rally and news conference, Bolanos accused some newer shops of catering to drug dealers by not requiring doctor’s prescriptions and selling more than 8 ounces of marijuana per visit to customers, more than twice what her store allows.

“Who needs 8 ounces, unless you’re going to break it up into dime bags and sell it in the street?” she said.

Apparently Yami has completely lost her mind and has taken the position of a prohibitionist. Who needs 8 ounces? People traveling long distances to access their medicine from places like Bakersfield with no access who may not want to come down every week, so they stock up. People who do juicing, or make edibles may use larger quantities. People who find a strain that works for them and want to stock up on it may buy 8 ounces. What business is it of yours anyways? When SB420 passed in 2003 state lawmakers, another scared and normally conservative group of humans, thought 8 ounces was a good number. Why is a dispensary operator supposedly on the side of patient access questioning patient need and rights in public like this?

Because of money and power basically. There is no other explanation.

But here is that basic rule of thumb for me on this….MORE IS BETTER.

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I will be damned if I have worked my ass off to defend access to cannabis over the years so that some wannabe good ol’ boys club can dictate the market to their own competitive advantage. That is just bullshit. When the defenders of Measure D try to paint the non-protected dispensaries as some sort of scofflaws and “people who just got here 10 minutes ago” it is easy to point out that for one, most of these places opened up right after the moratorium under the City’s own stupid hardship clause in 2008, meaning they have been open for the better part of 5 years; and two, most of the original dispensaries protected by Measure D have changed ownership or have been bought out by management groups.

The bottom line is that Measure D arbitrarily closes hundreds of dispensaries based on a bad law in an irrelevant time, and severely limits access. Measure F, on the other hand, does not attempt to close down the dispensaries operating pre-ICO, and even allows for new great operators to apply for a permit. As a person who has been shut out of the business for 5 years by the feds, I would not mind an opportunity to apply for a dispensary permit in LA down the road if I chose to. That my friends is called FREEDOM.

I have heard some conspiracy rumblings that some weirdos think that Measure F contains a “poison pill” for language in it stating it does not authorize the breaking of Federal law. This is a statement in response to the Pack v. Long Beach decision, and I personally included similar language in the initiative I wrote for Sac County. The fact that these are the straws folks are grasping at shows clearly that Measure F is the BEST OPTION for more access to cannabis and a more competitive and level playing field.

Measure D closes down hundreds of dispensaries. Measure F does not. This is not hard to figure out….

The folks backing Measure D are working to shut down their competition, whereas Measure F makes no attempt to shut down the proponents of Measure D, or anyone else for that matter who complies with reasonable restrictions.

I have even heard an activist who I respect greatly say “1,000 in Los Angeles is too many.” When I remind them that the City of Denver, Colorado has a population of about 600,000 people and they have 235 dispensaries who all do well and compete and have succeeded in driving prices for cannabis way down, and that Los Angeles is a city of 11 million people (18 million in the metro area) that by that rate Los Angeles should be able to sustain several thousand dispensaries and still manage to thrive, they have no immediate answer.

Yeah…Real life has played out and the sky did not fall, Chicken Little. So now what is your big excuse? Too many? You mean too much access?

We live in a world where free markets help increase competition and in turn, drive innovation and value. IMO. Measure F is the only measure that allows for our true American freedom principles to thrive and is the only real choice on the ballot for anyone who loves cannabis freedom.

I have a lot of friends who would do quite well if Measure D passes, but the ones who believe in themselves and believe in their business do not see legally handicapping the industry as the solution. In fact, it is the problem.

I have no idea which measure will pass, but I know as a community we should ALWAYS back the measure that provides for MORE access….MORE IS BETTER. Duh…

More Access. More Jobs. More Weed. Vote Yes on Measure F. Fuck the rest….

In Cannabis Markets Retail is King….For Now

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The evolution of the cannabis market is happening. What was once a clandestine industry based in people’s garage is now growing into a full-fledged cottage industry, complete with retail and wholesale elements, as well as charlatans and hucksters. As the industry develops, it is interesting to see where the power breaks down compared to other types of similar industries.

The development of any new and emerging industry is sure to be a difficult and trying one. Add to this equation the complexities of federal prohibition and state allowances, and what you get is a model somewhat turned on its head. What do I mean by this?

The legal climate for cannabis has focused primarily on the retail aspects, being dispensaries. A lot of attention has been given to the stores that sell weed rather than the organizations that produce weed and develop finished products. In most normal industries, manufacturing sets the pace. The retail model is an important vehicle in which goods are moved, but are by no means driving inovation and production like they do in the cannabis industry.

The current situation allows for retailers to maintain a lot of power because there are no major manufacturing conglomerates or production and distribution houses that have enough of a presence in the industry to dictate the market, like in other industries. There are very few major brands that can have the impact necessary for their supply to drive demand. Generally the retailer holds all of the power and can dictate the market more easily by using their position as a gatekeeper to include, or exclude, people from the market.

But this will not always be, if history has any relevance. As a more legal and upstanding market develops this power WILL shift. When major cannabis production companies are developed the world will change. In the world of supply and demand, the cannabis industry is lacking in the power of the supply side…for now. But as a legal cannabis market comes into focus you can be sure that there will be some game changing moves made on this side of the equation.

Large batch producers not constrained by prohibition and the risk of prison will be able to develop larger and more sustainable business models that will be able to produce enough cannabis to move the needle on demand. Normal business factors will begin to emerge, as the veil of prohibition is removed. It is clear that those who can effectively produce high quality cannabis products and market them effectively to the masses will gain more power. The way manufacturers and suppliers drive demand is through advertising, marketing and development of the brand. While there are extremely limited efforts of this happening now, none of these brands have the ability to really change the game the way say Sierra Nevada changed the beer game in the 90’s, or how low price quality offerings like Kia have changed the automobile market. But they will…

Retail shops will not dictate the market principles beyond prohibition. High quality cannabis products will. Why? Because that is generally how things work. We do not go to Best Buy because they have just any stereo or computer; we go there because we know they will have the brands we want at decent prices. But if Best Buy sold a bunch of off brand merchandise that nobody wanted, who would go there? No one…that is who.

Can you imagine if a liquor store was given as much power in deciding alcohol industry standards and product line development as cannabis retailers currently are? Can you imagine a world where we told booze retailers that they could only sell the booze they produced themselves? No…you can’t. You know why? Because that would be stupid…the same way the current cannabis market is pretty stupid in respect to other industry norms.

We are in a strange vortex for the weed market, as people are more willing to allow it to be legal, but there is still a huge mystery as to how it is to be produced, distributed, and sold. The knee-jerk reaction seems to be working to over control the industry and to make things more difficult than they need to be. This is not rocket science…it is business. We buy, sell and trade agricultural commodities and finished products all of the time. It is what our consumer society is known for, so it is only a matter of time before these false barriers are removed and the industry changes to a more “product” focused, rather than “store that sells product” focused industry.

So all of the big conglomerate weed stores should live it up while they can because the time is coming where you will just be another weed 7-Eleven in a sea of weed 7-Elevens. How long it will take for this evolution to happen is anyone’s guess, but you can be sure folks like myself and others are preparing for that day….and when it comes, just know that the abuses of power that we see now in the industry from overzealous retailers and their buyers will NOT be forgotten.