Not Dead Yet

What a fucking year. I would be lying if I did not say that 2016 thus far has kicked my lily-white ass up one side and down the other… but I promise you one thing- I am NOT DEAD YET.

It is going to take more than this to kill a soldier like me off, but there is no doubt that we all have a hell of a lot of work to do, as the world is changing before our eyes; and in the opinion of this bleeding-heart liberal, not for the better. But if there is one thing I can appreciate it is a good fight, so fuck you, Universe. Bring that shit. Let’s dance motherfucker.

It is funny how things can go from order to chaos in what seems like moments. How is it that one day it seems like everything is moving right a long according to plan and then out of nowhere a bus runs right over your hopes, dreams, and what seems like everything you have worked for? It is ugly out here these days, but luckily for this giant asshole I thrive in moments of ugly chaos. So here we go, and I can promise you… NOT DEAD YET.

I have faced several personal struggles this year, as I have worked to figure out who and what I need to be in this ever-changing landscape with the earth moving underneath my feet at a pace I can barely keep up with. A lot of pain I have brought upon myself, and we will talk about that one day soon. But for now, it is the bigger picture that has me panicked. My own struggles are insignificant in the scheme of things. My demons are small in comparison to those that seem to be swirling about these days threatening all of our very existence.

There is no doubting that the election this year was incredibly brutal. Just watching it all unfold made me sad to be a part of this society. How we have chosen to be led by an ass-clown who lies 80% of the time, who beat out yesterday’s news and an unfortunate choice for what probably should have been “the first woman President” is beyond me. Is this the best our Nation has to be considered for the most powerful position on earth? This is who we elected? Really? These were our choices? Fucked of fuckderer; and we chose fuckeder? Unfuckingbelievable.

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But alas, I must digress. The people have spoken; or whatever the fuck you call it when the majority of people say one thing, but the “Electoral College” of people says otherwise. The bottom line is that we are at a very dangerous point in our history as humans… and we have had some pretty fucked up and dangerous histories. The new Dark Ages is upon us. I do not know what to think any more, but I do know one thing. NOT DEAD YET!

As a cannabis activist, advocate, supporter, or provider, you should probably be pretty fucking worried right now. Why? Because you have a brutal prohibitionist prick nominated to lead the United States Justice Department, and the only thing saving your ass right now is a fairly weak worded memo that I assure you will be torn up and burned the day after Jeff Sessions is nominated Attorney General. Welcome to the show, bitches.

We are in the middle of trying to raise fund for the Parents 4 Pot Cannabis Community and POW Holiday Drive, and as I look to those who have helped us to bring a holiday to these families in need it is clear that things have seriously changed in the cannabis community. Over half of the major donors that made the last couple of years happen have either told me they have nothing to contribute this year, or they have contributed about 5% of what they did last year. It has been demoralizing to say the least, and to be honest… It makes me sort of sick to my stomach. Between the threat of a new aggressive enforcement administrator taking over the DEA, and a myriad of new regulatory costs and worries, it seems like a lot of the folks who have been incredibly generous in the past have decided to bury their money under the woodpile this year.

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The really funny part is that now more than ever is the time you should be contributing all you can to those affected by cannabis prohibition because if things play out the way they look like they might then you are going to need all of the good karma you can muster. It might be you and your family on the list next year… if there even is a list. Developing Parents 4 Pot as a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting for cannabis freedom for those with parents or children in prison for weed; those who have had to uproot their families to move where cannabis is for health reasons; and those who have lost their jobs, homes, children, standing in the community, and/or freedom because of cannabis has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It has also been very challenging.

I am lucky enough to have a Board of Directors willing to commit their time, energy, and often resources to making the organization work. For the love of the game we have been able to grow #P4P into something we can all be very proud of. We have been able to educate many, and support a lot of those who have been forgotten, as our “movement” based on this sacred plant has evolved into an “industry” populated by the good, the bad, and the ugly looking to hit it big on the next big thing.

I have fought for cannabis freedom the majority of my life now, and it has become my lifeblood. I have been incredibly lucky to bear witness firsthand to what has become the fastest growing industry in the world and also the most exciting political movement since the Civil Rights movement. But I have also seen the “next big thing” come and go more times than I can really stomach.

But I am still here, fuckers. NOT DEAD YET.

I have two weeks to make a Christmas miracle happen for 40 amazing families who have lost everything due to cannabis prohibition, and I will be damned if I am going to let them down. I will make the Parents 4 Pot Holiday Drive a success if I have to take hostages to get it done. I am not above anything at this point. I could give a fuck. We promised Christmas to 40 families in need, and one way or another we are going to deliver. Even if I have to put all of their gifts on my own credit card and extort everyone in this godforsaken industry that I have a pile of dirt on for every penny they have made from this beloved plant. #FUNNYNOTFUNNY

Yeah. It is like that. Sorry-Not-Sorry.

“Breathe, Mickey. It is going to be okay. I said BREATHE, motherfucker! Step back and realize that you are NOT DEAD YET. The Big Magnet in the Sky will make things right with the world and that things will work out.”

You just gotta believe, and I still do. I will not let the system get me down. I will continue to fight the good fight every day until they either lock the door behind be or cremate my phat-ass. It is what I do. It is who I am. #NOTDEADYET

So as I sit here with the reality that Donald Fucking Trump is going to be our Commander in Chief, and his posse of weed-hating fuckfaces will probably take our entire movement/industry (or whatever the fuck you want to call this deal we have going) back to Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No 1980’s bullshit, I have to wonder what tomorrow will bring. What is next? How can the humans fuck up our society any worse than we already have?

I am not sure; but what I am sure of is that if they can then they will.

Most days it seems like I live in an alternate universe and that this whole deal is a dreamish nightmare that I will awaken from at any moment. Yet every day I wake up and look myself in the mirror and say, “Fuck you. Fuck your hopes and dreams. Let’s go the fuck out here and try to change the world for the better… again.” I have to. I put one foot in front of the other, and regardless of the challenges we face, I move forward. It is all I know. It is who I have become.

That might seem like a dark reality, but have you looked around this motherfucker lately? Is it just me, or is there something very spooky happening out here as of late? Am I crazy?

I guess we all are a little crazy in one way or another; but lately it has seemed more difficult to be comfortable in my own aura. But again… NOT DEAD YET.

The holidays are upon us, and while it is supposed to be a “joyous” and “merry” time of the year, it is also incredibly stressful and draining for a lot of us. The world has always been fucked up, so it is not like this is a new phenomenon… but it is a new era of fucked up that none of us can be sure of what is to come.

Maybe I am over-reacting. Maybe Trump will be the greatest President we have ever had. Maybe cannabis will be truly legalized for everyone on earth. Maybe the rapture will happen and take all of the good people to live in heaven with the good Lord Jesus, or Muhammad, or Jah, or at least Johnny Cash… Or maybe we are entirely fucked in a way that we have even yet to imagine as a society.

Who the fuck knows? Who the fuck cares? When it is all said and done, does any of it really matter? Does our existence make a difference in the grand scheme of a Universe so massive and vast that none of us can even imagine, and a long and storied history that our lives are but a spec of? I am not sure that it does; and frankly, I don’t really give a shit.

I am going to continue to work towards making the world a better place and to be the best person I possibly can. I am going to continue to smoke, grow, and provide weed regardless of what the government says. I can be an outlaw or an entrepreneur, and be just as happy either way. I am pretty good at both. I have lived such a full and meaningful life in my first 42 years on this planet, that anything from here on is gravy. Not much they can do to me that has not been done already. I probably won’t laugh or love harder than I already have and I will likely continue to be a gigantic asshole with a tremendous heart. I will always be #FUCKMICKEY. No one can take that away from me.

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Many have tried and failed, and fuck each and everyone of them. Most of those who I have gone to battle with are miserable people not deserving of the air they breathe… there are plenty of those walking around for certain. Fuck ’em all. I got your “award” right here, pal. No you cocksuckers… Everyone does not get a fucking trophy.

How the fuck we came to this moment in history boggles one’s mind. But regardless, we are here…. we are NOT DEAD YET. Not even close, bitches.

None of us can know what tomorrow will bring, and yesterday is for suckers. All we can do is live for right now and do everything we can in this moment to ensure that what we leave behind for our children, families, friends, and fellow beings is more spectacular than what we found when we crawled out of our mother’s womb. Yup… What a long strange trip it has been, and will continue to be- at least until we die.

But you might have heard this before, but I am going to say it one more time just to make sure you caught it…. I am NOT DEAD YET.

Selah. Wooooooooooooosh!

A New Era of Activism and Resolve

It has been nearly a year and a half since I wrote a piece for this site. Why? Because the movement for cannabis freedom began to evolve more into an industry for commercial cannabis; and it became exhausting to try to focus weed activism on so many moving targets, as the hucksters and charlatans came from far an wide for their piece of the action. It is not that there was not a need for activism… It was just a little different.

I spent the last year plus writing more election focused pieces at the site ReformCa.org. It was a brutal year for politics, both in the aspects of who will govern our future in America and where the cannabis reform movement was moving. What we ended up with were several “victories” for adult use and medical cannabis across the nation, while electing a man for President that has made and appointment for Attorney General that could send us back to the days of severe prohibition of cannabis… and quickly.

I feel that it is time to fire back up the Weed Activist site to once again become a resource for activism and understanding to protect the gains we have made as a movement and industry, while continuing to fight for more progress. We cannot afford to allow the appointment of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to head the Justice Department to push us back into the dark ages of cannabis. It is unclear what his plans will be, but it is ominous to say the least. We must be vigilant and prepare for the fight of our lives.

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Just earlier this year in April, AG nominee Jeff Sessions said the following during a senate hearing on cannabis:

“Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions said during a Senate hearing in April. “We need grown ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger.”

This is the man that we now have calling the shots at the USDOJ. All signs point to a fairly easy confirmation for him, despite his racist and off-color remarks over the years. Those of us who work and play in the cannabis landscape must wake up and understand that this is a really big deal. If you do not understand, I can make it real simple for you. The only thing that has allowed for States to develop and regulate cannabis programs in lieu of Federal laws making it illegal are two MEMOS from the US Department of Justice stating that enforcement resources should not be used to interfere with cannabis programs in States with clear regulatory models in place. That is it… a couple of stupid memos.

As the head of the Justice Department, Sessions can walk in and simply tear up those memos on day one and launch a new war on cannabis providers, if he so chooses. Those who believe that he would not based on Donald Trump’s loosely framed statements while on the campaign trail that it should be left to the States simply do not understand the role of the Attorney General in the United States. The AG is not there to be a “Yes Man” for the President. They are an extremely independent agency that is there to enforce laws. Now the President can make suggestions and hope that the AG respects those wishes, but in no way is the Attorney General bound to do anything the President says. If Sessions wants to make our lives hell again he can do so with or without the blessing of Trump. That is your reality. So wish in one hand and shit in the other… but Sessions has made it clear that he despises marijuana and it is hard to see him running a Justice Department that simply looks the other way.

Many of the folks who jumped into the weed game after the dust settled and it was clear that enforcement was severely limited may be in for a rude awakening. All of those cultivation and sales records that you have diligently kept and submitted to the State or local government in the name of compliance are enough to get most an easy 10 year mandatory minimum sentence in a Federal Penitentiary. That is real talk. Look it up. It is not all fun and games anymore, is it?

Most of the new era of cannabis entrepreneurs and wannabe moguls have no idea what it is like to wake up every morning being sure that the DEA was going to kick your door in and drag you into jail to face a court system where you have no legal defense for cannabis… medical or not. The movement for cannabis freedom has pretty much died off in years past, and what we have seen more recently are complacent and over-confident stakeholders acting as if cannabis were completely legal because their state told them it was. Many have not even considered that a change in Administrations in Washington could severely change the industry that has evolved. They do not get the severity of the crimes they are committing and the real and present dangers that they face.

I have not forgotten. I will never forget. It is ingrained into who I am… Into who I will always be. I am an activist. I am here for the fight. I am here to defend the honor of cannabis, and nothing else. It is still just about a plant and some freedom for me.

I know what it is like to have the power of the Federal government unleashed on me, and to see my name in every major media news outlet across the world as a criminal wanted for cannabis. I remember what it was like to have DEA Special Agents follow me for two years, go through my entire life, and storm my home and businesses with armed federal agents looking to take away my freedom for a decade. That is the reality we all face as an extremely conservative and weed-hating Administration takes shape in our Nation’s Capitol. You can rest on your laurels and hope that it will be all good. I know better. I have seen this show before. Spoiler Alert…. A lot of people go to prison.

So it is time to revive WeedActivist.com and to keep the community informed and educated on what it is going to take to continue to win this fight… and just know that it IS going to be a fight. I am recommitting to my work as an activist and a freedom fighter. I plan on being proactive and not waiting for things to get worse before I get to work. Nope. The time is now and the fight is already upon us.

For those of you working in the cannabis industry who do not consider themselves to be OUTLAWS, here is a dose of reality for you. You are an outlaw and in the eyes of the Feds, you are a criminal that deserves to spend a decade behind bars for your weed business. Let that sit with you for a minute.

As you look across your garden of thousands of “state legal” plants, or you “state licensed dispensary” with documented sales of over 1,000 kg or more of cannabis, just know that you are a 10 year mandatory minimum waiting to happen. There is no way around that. If the USDOJ decides to begin prosecuting cannabis businesses again you have no defense. You are guilty and you are doing 10 years.

Mandatory means mandatory… There is no middle ground there. Google “Matthew Davies” if you don’t believe me. Text book case of a wannabe business mogul caught up in the game who thought that there was no way he could get a mandatory minimum for operating licensed cannabis businesses. No… You really can; and if Jeff Sessions has his way, you certainly will.

Try not to get it twisted. You can try to put lipstick on the pig if you want, but the reality is that we likely to have a real and meaningful fight on our hands. So I am gearing up for it. I am putting fresh batteries in the megaphone and sharpening my poster making skills. I am preparing for the worst, even if I want to hope for the best. You should too.

We all have a lot to lose. We have come too far to turn back now, and I for one am not going down without a fight. Weed Activist is back and we will be more active than ever, so stay tuned and I will see you on the front lines for the next battle for cannabis freedom. You can be sure of it.

Selah.

 

AB 266 Breakdown. The end of the cannabis industry as you know it.

I will be following this up with a more detailed response, but below is my initial breakdown of AB 266 being proposed by the legislature, and being supported by groups such as Americans for Safe Access, the Emerald growers Association, UFCW, and the California Cannabis Industry Association. This law will be the end of the industry as we know it and the provisional licensing requirement will ensure that all growers, producers, and manufacturers of cannabis will be completely fucked…. Enjoy. My comments are the bullet points in red….

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SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) The people of California enacted the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 to ensure that seriously ill Californians have access to cannabis for medical purposes. The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 urged the state and federal governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of medical cannabis to all patients in medical need of the drug.

(b) Federal enforcement authorities have recognized that in states that have authorized cannabis use and have enacted strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis, conduct in compliance with those regulatory and enforcement systems is less likely to threaten federal priorities, and, thus, less likely to require federal enforcement intervention (See: Memorandum For All United States Attorneys—Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement, by James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General, August 29, 2013).

(c) Greater certainty and minimum statewide standards are urgently needed regarding the obligations of medical cannabis facilities, and for the imposition and enforcement of regulations to prevent unlawful cultivation and the diversion of cannabis to nonmedical use.

(d) The purpose of this act is to establish for California a robust medical cannabis regulatory and enforcement system to ensure that conduct in compliance with California’s medical cannabis laws does not threaten the federal priorities as set forth in the James M. Cole memorandum, and, therefore, does not require federal enforcement intervention.

(e) The California Constitution grants cities and counties the authority to make and enforce, within their borders, “all local police, sanitary, and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with the general laws.” This inherent local police power includes broad authority to determine, for purposes of public health, safety, and welfare, the appropriate uses of land within the local jurisdiction’s borders. The police power, therefore, allows each city and county to determine whether or not a medical cannabis dispensary or other facility that makes medical cannabis available may operate within its borders. This authority has been upheld by City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Inc. (2013) 56 Cal.4th 729, and County of Los Angeles v. Hill (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 861. Nothing in this act shall diminish, erode, or modify that authority.

(f) If a city or county determines that a dispensary or other facility that makes medical cannabis available may operate within its borders, then there is a need for the state to license these dispensaries and other facilities for the purpose of adopting and enforcing protocols for security standards at dispensaries and in the transportation of medical cannabis, as well as health and safety standards to ensure patient safety. This licensing requirement is not intended in any way nor shall it be construed to preempt local ordinances, regulations, or enforcement actions regarding the sale and use of medical cannabis, including, but not limited to, security, signage, lighting, and inspections.

(g) Nothing in this act or Article 2 (commencing with Section 11357) or Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 11362.7) of Chapter 6 of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code is intended to preempt any local ordinance regulating or banning the cultivation, processing, manufacturing, testing, transportation, distribution, provision, donation, or sale of medical cannabis, or to otherwise prevent or limit a city, county, or city and county from adopting or enforcing a zoning ordinance or other law, ordinance, or regulation that bans or regulates the location, operation, or establishment of any individual or other person that cultivates, processes, possesses, stores, manufactures, tests, transports, distributes, provides, donates, or sells cannabis.

  • While local municipalities can ban alcohol, it is not clear if they can ban medicine. Can a town declare they do not want a pharmacy in town and force people to travel to get their prescribed medicines?

(h) Nothing in this act is intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale, or growth of cannabis in the workplace, or to affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of cannabis by employees, or otherwise complying with federal law.

  • This is a result of Ross vs. Raging Wire but I would beg to wonder why we are not including language to at least try and make it so patients were protected under CA law for using medical cannabis.

(i) Nothing in this act shall be construed to promote or facilitate the nonmedical, recreational possession, sale, or use of cannabis.

(j) Nothing in this act shall have a diminishing effect on the rights and protections granted to a patient or primary caregiver pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

SEC. 2.

Section 2220.05 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

 

2220.05.

(a) In order to ensure that its resources are maximized for the protection of the public, the Medical Board of California shall prioritize its investigative and prosecutorial resources to ensure that physicians and surgeons representing the greatest threat of harm are identified and disciplined expeditiously. Cases involving any of the following allegations shall be handled on a priority basis, as follows, with the highest priority being given to cases in the first paragraph:

(1) Gross negligence, incompetence, or repeated negligent acts that involve death or serious bodily injury to one or more patients, such that the physician and surgeon represents a danger to the public.

(2) Drug or alcohol abuse by a physician and surgeon involving death or serious bodily injury to a patient.

(3) Repeated acts of clearly excessive prescribing, furnishing, or administering of controlled substances, or repeated acts of prescribing, dispensing, or furnishing of controlled substances  substances, or recommending cannabis to patients for medical purposes  without a good faith prior examination of the patient and medical reason therefor. However, in no event shall a physician and surgeon prescribing, furnishing, or administering controlled substances for intractable pain consistent with lawful prescribing, OR CANNABIS WAS RECOMMENDED, including, but not limited to, Sections 725, 2241.5, and 2241.6 of this code and Sections 11159.2 and 124961 of the Health and Safety Code, be prosecuted for excessive prescribing, OR RECOMMENDING CANNABIS, and prompt review of the applicability of these provisions shall be made in any complaint that may implicate these provisions.

  • The “recommending of cannabis” should be included in the second half of this too anywhere it says “prescribing”

(4) Sexual misconduct with one or more patients during a course of treatment or an examination.

(5) Practicing medicine while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

(b) The board may by regulation prioritize cases involving an allegation of conduct that is not described in subdivision (a). Those cases prioritized by regulation shall not be assigned a priority equal to or higher than the priorities established in subdivision (a).

(c) The Medical Board of California shall indicate in its annual report mandated by Section 2312 the number of temporary restraining orders, interim suspension orders, and disciplinary actions that are taken in each priority category specified in subdivisions (a) and (b).

SEC. 3.

Section 2242 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

 

2242.

(a) Prescribing, dispensing, or furnishing dangerous drugs as defined in Section 4022 without an appropriate prior examination and a medical indication, constitutes unprofessional conduct. Prescribing or recommending medical cannabis to a patient for a medical purpose without an appropriate prior examination and a medical indication constitutes unprofessional conduct.

  • This is undoubtedly a slippery slope

(b) No licensee shall be found to have committed unprofessional conduct within the meaning of this section if, at the time the drugs were prescribed OR CANNABIS WAS RECOMMENDED, dispensed, or furnished, any of the following applies:

(1) The licensee was a designated physician and surgeon or podiatrist serving in the absence of the patient’s physician and surgeon or podiatrist, as the case may be, and if the drugs were prescribed, OR CANNABIS WAS RECOMMENDED, dispensed, or furnished only as necessary to maintain the patient until the return of his or her practitioner, but in any case no longer than 72 hours.

(2) The licensee transmitted the order for the drugs to a registered nurse or to a licensed vocational nurse in an inpatient facility, and if both of the following conditions exist:

(A) The practitioner had consulted with the registered nurse or licensed vocational nurse who had reviewed the patient’s records.

(B) The practitioner was designated as the practitioner to serve in the absence of the patient’s physician and surgeon or podiatrist, as the case may be.

(3) The licensee was a designated practitioner serving in the absence of the patient’s physician and surgeon or podiatrist, as the case may be, and was in possession of or had utilized the patient’s records and ordered the renewal of a medically indicated prescription for an amount not exceeding the original prescription in strength or amount or for more than one refill.

(4) The licensee was acting in accordance with Section 120582 of the Health and Safety Code.

SEC. 4.

Section 2264 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

 

2264.

(a)  The employing, directly or indirectly, the aiding, or the abetting of any unlicensed person or any suspended, revoked, or unlicensed practitioner to engage in the practice of medicine or any other mode of treating the sick or afflicted which requires a license to practice constitutes unprofessional conduct.

(b)  Employment by, or other agreement with, a mandatory commercial licensee acting pursuant to the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Control Act or a dispensary to provide recommendations for medical cannabis constitutes unprofessional conduct.

SEC. 5.

Article 25 (commencing with Section 2525) is added to Chapter 5 of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, to read:

 

Article  25. Recommending Medical Cannabis

2525.

 (a) It is unlawful for a physician and surgeon who recommends cannabis to a patient for a medical purpose to accept, solicit, or offer any form of remuneration from or to a facility issued a conditional license pursuant to Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 19300) of Division 8, if the physician and surgeon or his or her immediate family have a financial interest in that facility.

(b) For the purposes of this section, “financial interest” shall have the same meaning as in Section 650.01.

(c) A violation of this section shall be a misdemeanor.

2525.1.

 The Medical Board of California shall consult with the California Marijuana Research Program, known as the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, authorized pursuant to Section 11362.9 of the Health and Safety Code, on developing and adopting medical guidelines for the appropriate administration and use of medical cannabis.

  • So doctors will be issued guidelines from some college researchers instead of being able to use their own medical judgement? Weird….

2525.2.

 A physician and surgeon shall not recommend medical cannabis to a patient, unless that person is the patient’s attending physician, as defined by subdivision (a) of Section 11362.7 of the Health and Safety Code.

  • The term “patient’s attending physician” can be a quite dangerous term if misinterpreted by the courts. In the United States and Canada, an attending physician (also known as an attending, rendering doc, or staff physician) is a physician (M.D. or D.O.) who has completed residency and practices medicine in a clinic or hospital, in the specialty learned during residency.

SEC. 6.

Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 19300) is added to Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code, to read:

 

CHAPTER  3.5. Medical Cannabis

Article  1. Definitions

19300.

 For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(a) “Cannabinoid” means a chemical compound that is unique to and derived from cannabis, also known as phytocannabinoid.

(b) “Cannabis” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin, whether crude or purified, extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or resin. “Cannabis” 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. “Cannabis” also means marijuana as defined by Section 11018 of the Health and Safety Code as enacted by Chapter 1407 of the Statutes of 1972.

(c) “Cannabis concentrate” means manufactured cannabis that has undergone a process to concentrate the cannabinoid active ingredient, thereby increasing the product’s potency.

(d) “Certified testing laboratory” means a laboratory that is certified by the State Department of Public Health to perform random sample testing of medical cannabis pursuant to the certification standards for these facilities promulgated by the department.

  • It will be interesting to see how the DPH approaches this one. Gives a lot of power to a group that is about 50/50 on cannabis at best. Could result in some interesting certification protocols.

(e) “Commercial cannabis activity” means any cultivation, possession, manufacture, processing, storing, laboratory testing, labeling, transporting, distribution, or sale of cannabis or cannabis product, or any Internet platform that facilitates any of these functions for the purpose of selling medical cannabis or medical cannabis products to qualified patients or caregivers, except as set forth in Section 19316.

  • The term “selling” always gets a little tricky, especially when you consider the many get around terms that have been used in this industry over the years. I might use the term “retail distribution” or something.

(f) “Cultivation” means any activity involving the planting, growing, harvesting, drying, processing, or trimming of cannabis.

  • So you have “processing” here. That may need to be more clearly defined, as its broad interpretation could mean processing into finished goods, which is a whole different deal…. Especially when there are license limitations ahead.

(g) “Delivery” means the commercial transfer of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products from a dispensary to a primary caregiver or qualified patient, as defined in Section 11362.7 of the Health and Safety Code.

  • Only from a dispensary? That is odd considering it defines delivery service next.

(h) “Delivery service” means a person issued a state license by the State Department of Public Health pursuant to this chapter and a local license or permit, to deliver medical cannabis or medical cannabis products, up to an amount determined by the department, to patients, testing laboratories, or to events or locations where it will be used solely for promotional purposes. A delivery service shall not be required to obtain a transporter license.

  • Can a dispensary hold a Delivery Service license? Can a cultivator or product manufacturer? Like farm to table deals?

(i) “Director” means the director of the Office of Marijuana Regulation.

  • I am pretty sure I am going to get this job. (rolls eyes)

(j) “Dispensary” means a nonmobile, nonvehicular, non-Internet-based retail location that distributes medical cannabis or medical cannabis products and is owned and operated by a licensee for these activities pursuant to this chapter.

  • So how does this work? Currently most dispensaries are not “owned and operated” by any one. Does that mean the corporation would be the licensee? How are these “not-for-profit” entities going to decide ownership after there is no not-for-profit requirement? It still seems to me that there is a need for the word “retail” in here. I mean, technically aren’t cultivators and manufacturers “distributing” cannabis too, just wholesale?

(k) “Dispensing” means any activity involving the retail sale of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products from a dispensary.

  • Well there is the term retail….. at least it is in here somewhere.

(l) “Dried flower” means all dead medical cannabis that has been harvested, dried, cured, or otherwise processed.

  • Odd… so all stems, leaves, and other byproduct material are classified as flowers too. Good to know. Here we are with the processed again too. Super.

(m) “Edible cannabis product” means manufactured cannabis that is intended to be used, in whole or in part, for human consumption, including, but not limited to, chewing gum.

  • Interesting to call out the chewing gum. Consumption could include smoking or vaping products too, correct? Definitions for consumption include “used or ingested.” Would “ingestion or sublingual consumption” be better?

(n) “Fund” means the Medical Cannabis Regulation Fund established pursuant to Section 19361.

(o) “Identification program” means the universal identification certificate program for licensees.

(p) “Labor peace agreement” means an agreement between a licensee and a bona fide labor organization that, at a minimum, protects the state’s proprietary interests by prohibiting labor organizations and members from engaging in picketing, work stoppages, boycotts, and any other economic interference with the applicant’s business. This agreement means that the applicant has agreed not to disrupt efforts by the bona fide labor organization to communicate with, and attempt to organize and represent, the applicant’s employees. The agreement shall provide a bona fide labor organization access at reasonable times to areas in which the applicant’s employees work, for the purpose of meeting with employees to discuss their right to representation, employment rights under state law, and terms and conditions of employment. This type of agreement shall not mandate a particular method of election or certification of the bona fide labor organization.

  • It is easy to see that UFCW and their posterboy Gavin Newsome got their language inserted. At least this one doesn’t use the term “labor union currently active in the cannabis industry” to cement their place. LOL. I dig unions, but man…. It is tough to justify that type of all for us and our membership only attitude sometimes.

(q) “Licensed cultivation site” means a person that plants, grows, cultivates, harvests, dries, or processes medical cannabis, or that does all or any combination of those activities, and that is issued a state license pursuant to this chapter and a local license or permit.

  • Process again can get weird here. Surprised not to see the term “agriculture” in here since cultivation and propagation are definitely agricultural functions.

(r) “Licensed dispensing facility” means a person that provides medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, or devices for the use of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products, either individually or in any combination, that is issued a state license pursuant to this chapter and a local license or permit.

  • Again I believe there is a need to include the term retail in this definition even if mentioned above. Interesting to see a facility called a “person” too. Am I reading it right with the “or devices for the use of medical cannabis” meaning that all head shops would also be included? So a wholesaler doesn’t “provide” too?

(s) “Licensed manufacturer” means a person that conducts the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, or processing of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products, either directly or indirectly or by extraction processes, or independently by means of chemical synthesis or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis, and includes a location that packages or repackages medical cannabis or medical cannabis products or labeling or relabeling of its container, and that has been issued a state license pursuant to this part.

  • Propagation here would seem to be pointing to clones, but wouldn’t a licensed cultivator need to propagate too? If it is “and includes a location that packages or repackages medical cannabis…” wouldn’t that mean dispensaries would be excluded from packaging their own medicine? Everything has to be pre-packed or what?

(t) “Licensed transporter” means a person issued a state license by the Board of Equalization to transport medical cannabis or medical cannabis products above a limit determined by the board to and from facilities that have been issued a state license pursuant to this chapter.

  • Is a transporter license in addition to other licenses? I mean can a grower transport his own product? Or is a transporter license required in addition to your grower license? More fees?

(u) “Licensee” means a person issued a state license under this chapter to engage in commercial cannabis activity.

  • Having a license seems like a good idea if the terms are reasonable. They are not though.

(v) “Licensing authority” means the state agency responsible for granting and renewing state licenses and regulating the relevant licensees. For licensed cultivators, the licensing authority is the Division of Medical Cannabis Cultivation in the Department of Food and Agriculture. For dispensaries and transporters, the licensing authority is the State Board of Equalization. For licensed manufacturers and certified testing laboratories, the licensing authority is the Division of Medical Cannabis Manufacturing and Testing within the State Department of Public Health.

  • Cultivators being licensed by the Department of Food and Ag seems awesome… it could also be problematic though. The State BOE is probably viable for dispensaries and transporters. Where are the delivery services? And then licensed manufacturers get the Department of Public Health. Interesting…. Sort of wondering what that will end up looking like, and why manufacturing is more “medical” than medical cultivation and medicine dispensing.

(w) “Live plants” means living medical cannabis flowers and plants, including seeds, immature plants, and vegetative stage plants.

(x) “Manufactured cannabis” means raw cannabis that has undergone a process whereby the raw agricultural product has been transformed into a concentrate, an edible product, or a topical product.

  • Where are we at on suppositories? LOL. And what about chewing gum again?

(y) “Medical cannabis,” “medical cannabis product,” or “cannabis product” means a product containing cannabis, including, but not limited to, concentrates and extractions, intended to be sold for use by medical cannabis patients in California pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Proposition 215).

  • “Sold for use” seems like it could face legal challenges, as it refers to Prop 215 as well where there is no mention of “sold to” anything really. We should only look as far as the petty word games used to try and overturn Obamacare to know that lack of clear definitions and meaning can be fateful to any law. We definitely have legal challenges to happen on both the pro and anti-cannabis sides of the argument.

(z) “Nursery” means a licensee that produces only clones, immature plants, seeds, and other agricultural products used specifically for the planting, propagation, and cultivation of medical cannabis.

  • So who are the nurseries licensed by then?

(aa) “Office” means the Office of Marijuana Regulation.

  • I want an office…..

(ab) “Permit,” “local license,” or “local permit” means an official document granted by a local jurisdiction that authorizes a person to conduct commercial cannabis activity in the local jurisdiction.

  • This is where the provisional licensing requirements could make an issue for those who process and manufacture items currently, as it will take a lot of time and political process to get any “permits, local licenses, and/or local permits” for the entire production sector of the industry. Certainly having to have one by a deadline could make it nearly impossible to overcome.

(ac) “Person” means an individual, firm, partnership, joint venture, association, corporation, limited liability company, estate, trust, business trust, receiver, syndicate, or any other group or combination acting as a unit and includes the plural as well as the singular number.

  • Corporations are people my friend….

(ad) “State license ” or “license” means a state license issued pursuant to this chapter.

(ae) “Topical cannabis” means a manufactured product intended for external use.

(af) “Transport” means the commercial transfer of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products from the business location of one licensee to another licensee, for the purposes of conducting commercial cannabis activity authorized by licensees pursuant to this chapter.

Article  2. Administration

19301.

 This chapter shall be known, and may be cited, as the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Control Act.

19302.

There is hereby created within the office of the Governor, the Governor’s Office of Marijuana Regulation, under the supervision and control of the Director of the Office of Marijuana Regulation, who shall be appointed by the Governor. The Governor shall appoint the director at a salary to be fixed and determined by the director with the approval of the Director of Finance. The director shall serve in accordance with the State Civil Service Act (Part 2 (commencing with Section 18500) of Division 5 of Title 2 of the Government Code).

  • Put in a good word for me…. LOL. But who does get this job could be a major issue for sure.

(b) The director shall be the appointing power of all employees within the office, and all heads of divisions, bureaus, and other employees in the office shall be responsible to the director for the proper carrying out of the duties and responsibilities of their respective positions.

(c) In developing a regulatory framework pursuant to this chapter, the director shall consult with state agencies possessing expertise in licensure and enforcement, including, but not limited to, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Department of Consumer Affairs.

  • Does the fact that this is 6th state agency named so far worry anyone else?

(d) The office shall have overall executive authority and responsibility for implementation of all aspects of cannabis regulation pursuant to this chapter.

(e) The office shall coordinate and provide oversight of all activities described in this chapter. The office shall lead all state and local authorities regarding the tracking of medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, and licensees pursuant to this chapter. All departments and divisions specified in Section 19304 shall report directly to the office. Any information technology systems created to store and process data related to commercial cannabis licensing shall be integrated, and all licensing data shall be immediately available to each licensing authority and to the office.

  • Broad sweeping power in this office….

19303.

 The office shall maintain a registry of all permit holders and shall maintain a record of all state licenses and commercial cannabis activity of the permit holder throughout the length of licensure and for a minimum of seven years following the expiration of each license. The office shall make limited licensee information available to a licensee so that it may verify whether it is engaging in commercial cannabis activities with a properly licensed entity.

19304.

 (a) The following entities shall report to and be directly accountable to the office for their respective designated responsibilities within the regulatory and enforcement framework, as follows:

(1) The Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation, which is established within the State Board of Equalization, shall do all of the following:

(A) Be administered by a person who is appointed by the State Board of Equalization.

(B) Administer this chapter, as it pertains to commercial cannabis activity relating to dispensaries and transporters.

(2) The Division of Medical Cannabis Manufacturing and Testing, which is established within the State Department of Public Health, shall do all of the following:

(A) Be administered by a person who is appointed by the Governor.

(B) Administer this chapter, as it pertains to manufacturing, testing, and certification of testing laboratories for medical cannabis and medical cannabis products.

(3) The Division of Medical Cannabis Cultivation, which is established within the Department of Food and Agriculture, shall do all of the following:

(A) Be administered by a person who is appointed by the Governor.

(B) Administer this chapter as it pertains to cultivation of medical cannabis.

(4) The California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Natural Resources Agency shall coordinate and direct the following entities in the discharge of their designated regulatory responsibilities:

  • Here are the 7th and 8th agencies named….

(A) The State Water Resources Control Board shall promulgate regulations related to discharge into waterways, and diversion therefrom, resulting from cannabis cultivation.

(B) The Department of Fish and Wildlife shall promulgate regulations for the protection of any species affected by cultivation activity, and regulations for any cultivation-related development, including alteration of waterways.

  • 9th and 10th

(5) The Department of Justice shall conduct the following activities:

  • 11th agency…

(A) Perform criminal background checks of applicants for licensure.

(B) Develop uniform security standards for dispensaries and all phases of transport covered by this chapter.

(C) Provide supplemental enforcement on an as-needed basis at the request of the office.

19305.

 (a) The office and licensing authorities shall have the authority necessary for the implementation of this chapter, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

(1) Establishing rules or regulations necessary to carry out the purposes and intent of this chapter and to enable the office and licensing authorities to exercise the powers and perform the duties conferred by this chapter and in accordance with Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code. These rules and regulations shall not limit the authority of a city, county, or city and county specified in Article 3 (commencing with Section 19307), or specified in Section 7 of Article XI of the California Constitution, or any other law. For the performance of its duties, the office has the powers 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. The office shall review all regulations and guidance promulgated by licensing authorities in the administration of this chapter to ensure no duplication, overlap, or inconsistent regulations occur between licensing authorities.

  • The whole damn state is full of inconsistencies in the law, so good luck.

(2) Issuing state licenses to persons for the cultivation, manufacture, transportation, and sale of medical cannabis within the state.

(3) Setting application, licensing, and renewal fees for state licenses issued pursuant to this chapter.

(4) Establishing standards for commercial cannabis activity.

(5) Establishing procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension, denial, and revocation of state licenses.

(6) Imposing a penalty authorized by this chapter or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this chapter.

(7) Taking action with respect to an application for a state license in accordance with procedures established pursuant to this chapter.

(8) Overseeing the operation of the Medical Cannabis Regulation Fund, established pursuant to Section 19361.

(9) Consulting with other state or local agencies, departments, representatives of the medical cannabis community, or public or private entities for the purposes of establishing statewide standards and regulations.

(b) Protection of the public shall be the highest priority for the office and the licensing authorities in exercising the licensing, regulatory, and disciplinary functions pursuant to this chapter. Whenever the protection of the public is inconsistent with other interests sought to be promoted, the protection of the public shall be paramount.

  • The list above is a massive undertaking of this office which at this time just does not exist. Strange that this entirely new entity and “office” are going to be capable of implementing all of these tasks effectively. Or that the many interworking parts are going to play nicely together in order to make the program flow. All it takes is one agency stick in the mud to throw off the whole deal.

19306.

 (a) The office, by March 1, 2016, shall convene a task force, which shall advise the office on the development of standards pursuant to this chapter. The task force shall be responsible for recommending to the office the appropriate roles of each state entity as it pertains to this chapter, and shall recommend guidelines on communication and information sharing between state entities, and with local agencies, for implementation of this chapter. Notwithstanding Section 10231.5 of the Government Code, the task force shall submit a report on these standards, determinations, and guidelines for implementation of this chapter to the Legislature and state entities affected by this chapter by August 1, 2016. The report submitted to the Legislature shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

  • Tasks forces have always proven to be very productive. (rolls eyes)

(b) The task force shall be comprised of representatives of medical cannabis consumer advocates, environmental experts, public health experts, medical cannabis industry representatives, related regulatory authorities, labor, and law enforcement. The task force may also be comprised of representatives of the State Board of Equalization and Attorney General, and other state agencies, as deemed appropriate. The task force shall have a minimum of nine members, with one-third of the members appointed by the California State Assembly, one-third of the members appointed by the California State Senate, and one-third of the members appointed by the Governor. If there is an unequal divide between these three entities, the Governor shall make appointments for the difference.

  • Yes. I am certain the Assembly, the Senate, and the Governor will appoint folks who really have the interests of patients and providers in mind. Scary…

(c) Task force members shall serve on a voluntary basis and shall be responsible for costs associated with their participation in the task force. The licensing authorities shall not be responsible for travel costs incurred by task force members or otherwise compensating task force members for costs associated with their participation in the task force.

Article  3. Enforcement and Local Control

19307.

 (a) Each licensing authority shall work in conjunction with law enforcement agencies for the purposes of implementing, administering, and enforcing this chapter, and any regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter and taking appropriate action against licensees and others who fail to comply with this chapter or the regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter.

  • Always love law enforcement agencies to be involved. I thought we were talking civil matters though, right?

(b) The director and the persons employed by the licensing authorities for the administration and enforcement of this chapter are, for purposes of this chapter, peace officers in the enforcement of the penal provisions of this chapter, the regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter, and any other penal provisions of law prohibiting or regulating the cultivation, processing, storing, manufacturing, testing, transporting, or selling of medical cannabis. These persons may, while acting as peace officers, enforce any penal provisions of state law while in the course of their employment. GROSS

(c) The regulatory directors, persons employed by the licensing authorities for the administration and enforcement of this chapter, peace officers listed in Section 830.1 of the Penal Code, and officers listed in Section 830.6 of the Penal Code, while acting in the course and scope of their employment as peace officers, may, in enforcing this chapter, visit and inspect the premises of a licensee at any time during which the licensee is acting pursuant to the state license.

  • Any time…. Awesome.

(d) Peace officers of the Department of the California Highway Patrol, members of the University of California and California State University police departments, and peace officers of the Department of Parks and Recreation, as defined in subdivisions (a), (b), (c), and (f) of Section 830.2 of the Penal Code, may, in enforcing this chapter, visit and inspect the premises of a licensee at any time during which the licensee is acting pursuant to the state license.

  • Again with the “any time”

19308.

 (a) The office shall, in consultation with local governments, develop an enforcement framework that clarifies the enforcement roles of the state and local governments. Local agencies are authorized to enforce any state statutory or regulatory standard.

  • Any local cop with an axe to grind can enforce whatever the fuck he wants really….

(b) A state agency is not required by this section to enforce a city, county, city and county, or local law, ordinance, rule, or regulation regarding the site or operation of a facility or transporter issued a state license.

19309.

 (a) For facilities issued a state license that are located within the incorporated area of a city, the city shall have full power and authority to enforce this chapter and the rules, regulations, and standards promulgated by the office. The city shall further assume complete responsibility for any regulatory function relating to those licensees within the city limits that would otherwise be performed by the county or any county officer or employee, without liability, cost, or expense to the county.

  • City and County control powered by the state…. Interesting.

(b) For licensed facilities located within the unincorporated area of a county, the county shall have full power and authority to enforce this chapter and the rules, regulations, and standards promulgated by the office.

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this chapter to provide for the statewide regulation of the commercial cannabis activity and the enforcement of laws relating to commercial cannabis activities without preempting city, county, or city and county ordinances regulating or banning these activities. This chapter is an exercise of the police powers of the state for the protection of the safety, welfare, health, peace, and morals of the people of the state.

  • Bans are here to stay forever, cemented into the law.

(d) Nothing in this chapter, or any regulations promulgated thereunder, shall be deemed to limit the authority or remedies of a city, county, or city and county under any provision of law, including, but not limited to, Section 7 of Article XI of the California Constitution.

19310.

 (a) The director of a licensing authority or a district attorney, county counsel, city attorney, or city prosecutor may bring an action in the name of the people of the State of California to enjoin a violation or the threatened violation of any provision of this chapter, including, but not limited to, a licensee’s failure to correct objectionable conditions following notice or as a result of a rule promulgated pursuant to this chapter, and to assess and recover civil penalties in accordance with this chapter. The action shall be brought in the county in which the violation occurred or is threatened to occur. A proceeding for injunctive relief brought pursuant to this chapter shall conform to the requirements of Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 525) of Title 7 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

  • That is a lot of people who can bring actions against cannabis providers….

(b) A state or local agency shall immediately notify the office and the appropriate licensing authority of violations or arrests made for violations over which the licensing authority has jurisdiction that involve a licensee or licensed premises. Notice shall be given within 10 days of the violation or arrest. The office or licensing authority shall promptly investigate as to whether grounds exist for suspension or revocation of the state license.

(c) This chapter shall not be construed to limit a law enforcement agency’s ability to investigate unlawful activity in relation to a state license.

(d) Nothing in this chapter shall prevent a city or other local governing body from taking action as specified in Section 11362.83 of the Health and Safety Code.

(e) The office shall establish procedures to provide state and local law enforcement, upon their request, with 24-hour access to information to verify a state license, track transportation manifests, and track the inventories of facilities issued a state license. This record shall allow state and local law enforcement to verify a state license and provide summary information on licensees consisting of the name of the licensee, the date the license was issued, the status of the license, and the licensee’s mailing address.

19311.

 (a) Licensing authorities and any relevant local agency may examine the books and records of a licensee and may visit and inspect the premises of a licensee as the licensing authority or local agency deems necessary to perform their duties under this chapter or local ordinance.

  • So they can inspect at will with no cause or need for legal representation on behalf of the licensee.

(b) If the licensee or any employee of the licensee refuses, impedes, obstructs, or interferes with an inspection pursuant to this chapter or local ordinance, or if the licensee fails to maintain or provide the books and records required by this chapter, the license may be summarily suspended and the licensing authority shall commence proceedings for the revocation of the state license in accordance with this chapter.

(c) All cultivation and dispensing licensees shall be subject to an annual audit, as specified by the licensing authority, in order to ensure proper documentation is kept at each facility. The reasonable costs of the audit shall be paid for by the licensee.

  • Why not the other licensees, as well? Yearly audit that I have to pay “reasonable fees” for. Hmm

19312.

 (a) This chapter shall in no way supersede the provisions of Measure D, approved by the voters of the City of Los Angeles on the May 21, 2013, ballot for the city, which granted medical cannabis businesses and dispensaries qualified immunity consistent with the terms of the measure and local ordinances. Notwithstanding the provisions of this part, cannabis businesses and dispensaries subject to the provisions of Measure D and its qualified immunity shall continue to be subject to the ordinances and regulations of the City of Los Angeles.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to recognize the unique circumstances of the City of Los Angeles with respect to Measure D and associated rules related to commercial cannabis activity.

  • Why the LA situation is not subject to the same regulation as other cities is baffling. The union worked the shit out of this angle to protect their own. BTW… how is the Measure D deal working out? (rolls eyes)

19313.

 (a) The actions of a licensee or provisional licensee, its employees, and its agents, that are permitted pursuant to both a state license or provisional license and a license or permit issued by the local jurisdiction following the requirements of the applicable local ordinances, and that are conducted in accordance with the requirements of this chapter and regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter, are not unlawful under state law and shall not be an offense subject to arrest, prosecution, or other sanction under state law or be subject to a civil fine or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under state law.

(b) The actions of a person who, in good faith and upon investigation, allows his or her property to be used by a licensee or provisional licensee, its employees, and its agents, as permitted pursuant to both a state license and a license or permit issued by the local jurisdiction following the requirements of the applicable local ordinances, are not unlawful under state law and shall not be an offense subject to arrest, prosecution, or other sanction under state law, or be subject to a civil fine or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under state law.

(c) Conduct that is within the scope of a license issued pursuant to this chapter and permitted by local ordinance but not fully in compliance with this chapter shall be subject to the enforcement provisions of this chapter and shall not be subject to the penal provisions of state law generally prohibiting cannabis-related activity, unless and until the license is revoked.

(d) This section shall not be deemed to limit the authority or remedies of a city, county, or city and county under any provision of law, including, without limitation, Section 7 of Article XI of the California Constitution.

19314.

 (a) A person engaging in commercial cannabis activity and operating an unlicensed facility, building, structure, vehicle, mobile unit, or location in violation of this chapter shall be subject to civil penalties of up to twice the amount of the license fee for each violation, and the office, licensing authority, or court may order the destruction of medical cannabis associated with that violation. Each day of operation shall constitute a separate violation of this section. All civil penalties imposed and collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the Medical Cannabis Fines and Penalties Account established pursuant to Section 19361.

  • So if you are caught growing without a license you have to pay twice the licensing fee EVERY day. Seems legit.

(b) If an action for civil penalties is brought by the Attorney General, the penalty collected shall be deposited into the General Fund. If the action is brought by a district attorney or county counsel, the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered. If the action is brought by a city attorney or city prosecutor, the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the city in which the judgment was entered.

19315.

 (a) This chapter does not, nor do Article 2 (commencing with Section 11357) and Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 11362.7) of Chapter 6 of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, prevent a city, county, or city and county from doing any of the following:

(1) Adopting local ordinances inconsistent with this chapter that do the following:

(A) Regulate the location, operation, or establishment of a licensee or a person that cultivates, processes, possesses, stores, manufactures, tests, transports, distributes, or sells medical cannabis.

(B) Prohibit commercial cannabis activity within their jurisdiction.

(2) Providing for the administrative, civil, or criminal enforcement of the ordinances described in paragraph (1).

(3) Establishing a fee or tax for the operation of a licensee within its jurisdiction.

(4) Enacting and enforcing other laws or ordinances pursuant to the authority granted by Section 7 of Article XI of the California Constitution.

(b) Nothing in this chapter or in Article 2 (commencing with Section 11357) or Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 11362.7) of Chapter 6 of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, shall prevent a city, county, or city and county from adopting or enforcing a zoning ordinance or other law, ordinance, or regulation that bans or regulates the location, operation, or establishment of a licensee or other person that engages in commercial cannabis activity.

  • Good to know the league of cities got their way and that municipalities can make their own rules for everything.

Article  4. Licensure

19316.

 (a) This chapter shall not apply to, and shall have no diminishing effect on the protections granted to, a patient or a primary caregiver pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

(b) (1) A patient who cultivates, possesses, stores, manufactures, or transports cannabis exclusively for his or her personal medical use but who does not provide, donate, sell, or distribute cannabis to any other person is not, thereby, engaged in commercial cannabis activity and is, therefore, exempt from the licensure requirements of this chapter.

(2) A primary caregiver who cultivates, possesses, stores, manufactures, transports, donates, or provides cannabis exclusively for the personal medical purposes of no more than five specified qualified patients for whom he or she is the primary caregiver within the meaning of Section 11362.7 of the Health and Safety Code but who does not receive remuneration for these activities except for compensation in full compliance with subdivision (c) of Section 11362.765 of the Health and Safety Code is not engaged in commercial cannabis activity and is, therefore, exempt from the licensure requirements of this chapter.

  • So no more than 5 patients per caregiver. Where did this arbitrary number come from? Are other caregivers limited as such? What does this accomplish?

(c) Exemption from the license requirements of this chapter shall not limit or prevent a city, county, or city and county from regulating or banning the cultivation, storage, manufacture, transport, provision, or other activity by the exempt person, or impair the enforcement of that regulation or ban.

  • We get it… you can ban everything if you want.

19317.

 The state shall have the right and authority to conduct state licensure activities and to regulate commercial cannabis activity pursuant to this chapter. Local governments have the right and authority to grant permits and regulate commercial cannabis activity within their jurisdiction pursuant to local ordinances. In the exercise of these rights and powers, the state and each of its agencies, and all local agencies, are hereby deemed not to be engaged in activities requiring licensure under this chapter.

  • So any agencies…. Quagmire for sure.

19318.

 (a) Licensing authorities shall issue state licenses to qualified applicants engaging in commercial cannabis activity pursuant to this chapter. Beginning January 1, 2018, no person shall engage in commercial cannabis activity without possessing a state license and a local permit. For purposes of this section, “state license” includes a provisional license issued pursuant to Article 6 (commencing with Section 19330).

  • 2018? Bajeezus…. We should be knee deep in adult use regulations by then.

(b) Local permits shall be determined by local ordinances. Licensing authorities issuing state licenses shall have sole authority to revoke a state license. Local agencies issuing local permits shall have sole authority to revoke a local permit.

  • Double the permits. Double the fun.

(c) The issuance of a state license shall not, in and of itself, authorize the recipient to begin business operations. The state license shall certify, at a minimum, that the applicant has paid the state licensing fee, successfully passed a criminal background check, and met state residency requirements.

(d) Even if a state license has been granted pursuant to this chapter, a facility shall not operate in a local jurisdiction that prohibits the establishment of that type of business. A facility shall not commence activity under the authority of a state license until the applicant has obtained, in addition to the state license, a license or permit from the local jurisdiction in which he or she proposes to operate, following the requirements of the applicable local ordinances.

  • The dead horse being beaten here means you cannot operate where there is a ban. Yeah… We got that the last 19 times you said it.

(e) If a local government agency notifies the office or a licensing authority and provides evidence that a licensee or applicant within its jurisdiction is in violation of local ordinances relating to commercial cannabis activities, the licensing authority shall revoke the state license within 20 working days.

  • So if the locals get a stick up their ass you are fucked at the state too. Good to know.

(f) Revocation of either a state or local license shall terminate the ability of a medical cannabis business to operate within California.

19319.

 (a) On or before July 1, 2017, a licensing authority shall promulgate regulations for implementation and enforcement of this chapter, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

  • So before July 2017 (rolls eyes) they will have regulations figured out for the most part.

(1) A description of the various specific forms of commercial cannabis activity to be authorized by the various types of licenses.

(2) Procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension, denial, and revocation of a state license.

(3) Procedures for appeal of fines and the appeal of denial, suspension, or revocation of a state license.

(4) Application, licensing, and renewal forms and fees.

(5) Time periods, not to exceed 90 days, by which the licensing authority shall approve or deny an application for a state license. The failure of the licensing authority to act upon an application for licensure within the time prescribed shall not be deemed approval of the application.

(6) Qualifications for licensees.

(7) Security requirements, including, but not limited to, procedures for limiting access to facilities and for the screening of employees.

(8) Requirements to ensure that all licensees and certified testing laboratories conform with applicable standards equivalent to state statutory environmental, agricultural, consumer protection, and food and product safety requirements. These standards shall be in addition, and not limited, to any other state and local requirements.

  • Going to have to be a lot of work done to standardize labs before this is relevant.

(b) Each state license application approved by the respective licensing authority pursuant to this chapter is separate and distinct.

(c) A state license application approved by a licensing authority pursuant to this chapter shall be valid for a period not to exceed one year from the date of approval unless revoked or suspended earlier than that date pursuant to this chapter or the rules or regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter.

(d) Each licensing authority may adopt regulations for additional licenses for cannabis activity within its statutory jurisdiction pursuant to this chapter, as deemed necessary.

(e) Each state license application approved by a licensing authority shall be reported to the office within 24 hours of its approval.

(f) A licensing authority shall not issue a state license unless the applicant has met all of the requirements of this chapter.

(g) Each licensing authority shall adopt regulations as needed to implement the relevant licensing program within one year following the establishment of provisional licenses, pursuant to Section 19330. The regulations shall not limit the authority of a city, county, or city and county pursuant to Section 7 of Article XI of the California Constitution or any other law. The regulations shall do all of the following:

  • Provisional licensing is where things will get ugly for sure….

(1) Establish procedures for approval or denial of applications for state licensure for each and every aspect of commercial cannabis activity, including, but not limited to, cultivation, possession, manufacture, processing, storing, laboratory testing, labeling, transporting, distribution, and sale of cannabis.

(2) Establish applicant qualifications.

(3) Establish state licensee employee qualifications, including, but not limited to, training and screening requirements.

  • Wanna bet UFCW’s apprentice program is one of the training requirements?

(4) Establish state licensee security requirements, including, but not limited to, procedures to limit access to facilities and to prevent diversion of product to nonmedical use.

(5) Establish procedures and protocols for identifying, managing, and disposing of contaminated, adulterated, deteriorated, or excess product.

(6) Establish advertising, marketing, signage, and labeling requirements and restrictions.

(7) Establish procedures for the suspension, revocation, or surrender of a state license, and establishing related fines and penalties to be assessed against licensees for violations of this chapter.

  • All of this law, and virtually nothing is really spelled out and left up to bureaucrats to decide.

19320.

 (a) An applicant for a state license shall do all of the following:

(1) Pay the fee or fees required by this chapter for each state license for which an application is submitted.

(2) Register with the licensing authority on forms prescribed by the licensing authority. The forms shall contain sufficient information to identify the licensee, including all of the following:

(A) Name of the owner or owners of a proposed facility, including all persons or entities having an ownership interest other than a security interest, lien, or encumbrance on property that will be used by the applicant.

(B) The name, address, and date of birth of each principal officer and board member.

(C) The address and telephone number of the proposed facility.

(3) In the case of a dispensary, provide the name and address of each licensed cultivation site and licensed manufacturer from which the dispensary will acquire or obtain medical cannabis or medical cannabis products.

  • So how does a dispensary declare what licensed grower will provide cannabis if none are licensed before them?

(4) Provide a description, in writing, of the scope of business of the proposed facility.

(5) Provide evidence that the applicant and owner have been legal full-time residents of the state for not less than two years.

  • What other businesses require this type of residency threshold?

(6) Provide detailed operating procedures, in writing, for the proposed facility, which shall include, but not be limited to, procedures for facility and operational security, prevention of diversion, employee screening, storage of medical cannabis, personnel policies, and recordkeeping procedures.

(7) Submit the applicant’s fingerprint images as follows:

(A) For purposes of this paragraph, “applicant” means the owner or owners of a proposed facility, including all persons or entities having an ownership interest other than a security interest, lien, or encumbrance on property that will be used by the facility. If the owner is an entity, fingerprints shall be submitted for each person participating in the direction, control, or management of, or having a financial interest in, the proposed facility.

(B) The applicant shall electronically submit to the Department of Justice fingerprint images and related information required by the Department of Justice for the purpose of obtaining information as to the existence and content of a record of state or federal convictions and arrests, and information as to the existence and content of a record of state or federal convictions and arrests for which the Department of Justice establishes that the person is free on bail or on his or her own recognizance, pending trial or appeal.

(C) The Department of Justice shall provide a response to the licensing authority pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (p) of Section 11105 of the Penal Code.

(D) The licensing authority shall request from the Department of Justice subsequent notification service, as provided pursuant to Section 11105.2 of the Penal Code, for applicants.

(E) The Department of Justice shall charge the applicant a fee sufficient to cover the reasonable cost of processing the requests described in this paragraph.

(8) If applicable, provide documentation that the applicant will be in compliance with all local ordinances and regulations, including, but not limited to, an entity granted immunity under Measure D, approved by the voters of the City of Los Angeles at the May 21, 2013, general election.

(9) Provide evidence of the legal right to occupy and use an established location, including that, if the proposed facility is a cultivator or a dispensary, that the proposed facility is located beyond at least a 600-foot radius from a school, or, if applicable, an immunity from prosecution for that occupancy or use pursuant to Measure D, approved by the voters of the City of Los Angeles at the May 21, 2013, general election.

  • 600 ft and the feds still say 1000 ft. Way to go.

(10) Provide a statement, signed by the applicant under penalty of perjury, that the information provided is true.

(11) (A) For an applicant with 20 or more employees, provide a statement that the applicant will enter into, or demonstrate that it has already entered into, and abide by the terms of a labor peace agreement.

  • Forced unionization for businesses over 20 employees? Where else does this happen? Maybe an organization will limit who it hires to stay below this threshold? Good to know UFCW lobbying is this effective though.

(B) For the purposes of this paragraph, “employee” does not include a supervisor.

(C) For purposes of this paragraph, “supervisor” means an individual having authority, in the interest of the licensee, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees, or responsibility to direct them or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action, if, in connection with the foregoing, the exercise of that authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, but requires the use of independent judgment.

(12) Provide any other information required by the licensing authority.

(13) For an applicant seeking a cultivation license, provide a statement declaring the applicant is an “agricultural employer,” as defined in the Alatorre-Zenovich-Dunlap-Berman Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 (Part 3.5 (commencing with Section 1140) of Division 2 of the Labor Code), to the extent not prohibited by law.

(14) For an applicant seeking a cultivation or dispensary license, provide a notarized statement from the owner of real property or landlord where the cultivation or dispensing commercial medical cannabis activities will occur, as proof to demonstrate the landowner has acknowledged and consented to permit cultivation or dispensary activities to be conducted on the property by the tenant applicant.

(b) Each location and each discrete use of a single location shall require a separate state license. Each application for a state license is separate and distinct, and the licensing authority may charge a separate fee for each.

(c) For applicants seeking a state license to cultivate and manufacture, the application shall also include a detailed description of the operating procedures for all of the following, as applicable:

(1) Cultivation.

(2) Extraction and infusion methods.

(3) The transportation process.

(4) Inventory procedures.

(5) Quality control procedures.

19321.

 (a) Upon receipt of an application for licensure and the applicable fee, each licensing authority shall make a thorough investigation to determine whether the applicant and the premises for which a state license is applied qualify for the state license and whether this chapter has been complied with, and shall investigate all matters connected therewith that may affect the public welfare and morals.

(b) A licensing authority shall deny an application if either the applicant or the premises for which a state license is applied do not qualify for licensure under this chapter.

(c) A licensing authority may place reasonable conditions upon licensure if grounds exist for denial of the state license, and the licensing authority finds those grounds may be removed by the imposition of those conditions. However, the limitations set forth in paragraph (15) of subdivision (d) shall not be waived.

(d) Each licensing authority shall deny the application for licensure or renewal, or suspend or revoke a state license, if any of the following conditions apply:

(1) An entity making or authorizing in any manner or by any means a written or oral statement that is untrue or misleading and that is known, or that by exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue or misleading.

(2) Conduct that constitutes fraud.

(3) Conduct constituting gross negligence.

(4) Failure to comply with the provisions of this chapter or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this chapter.

(5) Conduct that constitutes grounds for denial of licensure pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 480) of Division 1.5.

(6) Local agencies have notified the licensing authority or the office and provided evidence that a licensee or applicant within its jurisdiction is in violation of local ordinances relating to medical cannabis activities.

(7) The applicant fails to meet the requirements of this chapter or any regulation adopted pursuant to this chapter or any applicable city, county, or city and county ordinance or regulation. If a local government adopts an ordinance or resolution authorizing medical cannabis to be cultivated, manufactured, stored, distributed, or sold within its jurisdiction, it shall submit to the office documentation detailing their renewal requirements.

(8) Granting or continuation of a state license would be contrary to the public welfare or morals.

(9) The applicant holding or seeking a state license has violated any law prohibiting conduct involving moral turpitude.

(10) The application has failed to state with sufficient specificity the jurisdiction and location at which the applicant proposes to establish operations.

(11) The applicant, or any of its officers, directors, or owners, is under 21 years of age.

(12) The applicant fails to provide notarized written proof that the owner of real property or landlord has acknowledged and consented to its tenant’s proposed cultivation or dispensing of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products.

(13) The applicant has failed to provide information requested.

(14) The applicant, or any of its officers, directors, or owners, has been convicted of a felony criminal conviction for drug trafficking involving a minor, felonies subject to enhancements Section 11370.4 or 11379.8 of the Health and Safety Code, a violent felony, as specified in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5 of the Penal Code, a serious felony as specified in subdivision (c) of Section 1192.7 of the Penal Code, a felony offense involving fraud or deceit, or any other felony that, in the licensing authority’s determination, would impair the applicant’s ability to appropriately operate as a state licensee. The licensing authority may, at its discretion, issue a state license to an applicant that has obtained a certificate of rehabilitation pursuant to Section 4852.13 of the Penal Code.

  • This is super unclear and leaves a lot of former “marijuana crimes” up to interpretation. I am pretty sure that I would be excluded from the industry because I was arrested and convicted for a crime of doing exactly what is being licensed here. That amazes me.

(15) The applicant, or any of its officers, directors, or owners, is a licensed physician making patient recommendations for medical cannabis.

(16) The applicant, or any of its officers, directors, or owners, has been sanctioned by a licensing authority, the office, or a city, county, or a city and county for unlicensed commercial medical cannabis activities or has had a license revoked under this chapter in the previous three years.

(17) The applicant, or any of its officers, directors, or owners, has been subject to fines or penalty for cultivation or production of a controlled substance on public or private lands pursuant to Section 12025 of the Fish and Game Code.

(18) The proposed commercial medical cannabis activity will violate any applicable local law or ordinance.

(19) The applicant has had 20 employees or more in the past year and failed to enter into a labor peace agreement.

  • (rolls eyes)

(20)  The applicant or the owner is unable to establish that he or she has been a resident of the state for not less than 2 years.

(e) Applicants shall be notified of a denied application in writing via personal service or mail addressed to the address of the applicant or licensee set forth in the application. The denial letter shall contain the detailed reasons for which the application was denied. The applicant shall have the right to appeal the denial and be given a hearing within 30 days of the appeal. On appeal, the decision shall be upheld unless the applicant demonstrates that the applicant is in fact eligible for licensure and the application is in compliance with this chapter.

19323.

 (a) Provided the applicant has not committed an act or crime constituting grounds for the denial of licensure under Section 19321, a licensing authority may issue a state license and send a proof of issuance to the applicant.

(b) A licensing authority shall, by regulation, prescribe conditions upon which a person whose state license has previously been denied, suspended, or revoked, may be issued a state license.

19324.

 The office may adopt regulations to limit the number of state licenses issued pursuant to this chapter upon a finding that the otherwise unrestricted issuance of state licenses is dangerous to the public health and safety.

  • So there will be a cap on the amount of licenses issued, similar to liquor licenses.

Article  5. Regulation of Medical Cannabis

19325.

 (a) Except as provided in Section 11362.5 of, and Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 11362.7) of Chapter 6 of Division 10 of, the Health and Safety Code, a person shall not sell medical cannabis to a patient or caregiver other than at a licensed dispensing facility or through delivery from a licensed dispensing facility.

  • So only a dispensary can deliver? Then what was the definition of delivery service meant to accomplish?

(b) Except as provided in Section 11362.5 of, and Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 11362.7) of Chapter 6 of Division 10 of, the Health and Safety Code, a person shall not grow medical cannabis other than at a licensed cultivation site.

(c) Except as provided in Section 11362.5 of, and Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 11362.7) of Chapter 6 of Division 10 of, the Health and Safety Code, a person other than a licensed manufacturer shall not manufacture medical cannabis or medical cannabis products.

(d) A person other than a licensed transporter shall not transport medical cannabis from one facility issued a state license to another.

(e) A licensed manufacturer may obtain medical cannabis from a licensed cultivator and may furnish medical cannabis products to a licensed dispensary.

(f) Medical cannabis and medical cannabis products shall be tested by a certified testing laboratory.

  • Should get interesting….

(g) For purposes of this section, “license” includes a provisional license issued pursuant to Section 19330.

  • Dun-dun-dun….

(h) This section shall become operative on July 1, 2017.

19326.

 (a) A licensee shall not cultivate, process, store, manufacture, transport, or sell medical cannabis in the state unless accurate records are kept at the licensed premises of the growing, processing, storing, manufacturing, transporting, or selling by the licensee.

(b) A licensee shall keep, at the licensed premises, accurate records of the specific commercial cannabis activity conducted by the licensee. The records shall include, at a minimum, all of the following for each batch of product:

(1) The name and address of the supplier.

(2) The dates on which the product was received.

(3) The amounts, form, and batch and lot number.

(4) The location of the cultivation site.

(5) The name of the employee who received the product.

(6) Records demonstrating compliance by the licensee with state and federal rules and regulations regarding reporting and taxation of income received.

(7) Receipts for all expenditures incurred by the licensee and banking records, if any, for all funds obtained or expended in the performance of any activity under the authority of the state license.

(c) Records shall be kept for a minimum of seven years.

(d) The office and an appropriate state or local agency may examine the books and records of a state licensee and may visit and inspect the premises of a state licensee, as the office or state or local agency deems necessary to perform its duties under this chapter.

(e) Books or records requested by the office or an appropriate state or local agency shall be provided by the licensee no later than five business days after the request is made.

(f) The office or a state or local agency may enter and inspect the premises of a facility issued a state license between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on any day that the facility is open, or at any reasonable time, to ensure compliance and enforcement of the provisions of this chapter or a local ordinance.

(g) If a licensee or an employee of a licensee refuses, impedes, obstructs, or interferes with an inspection pursuant to this section, the state license may be summarily suspended and the licensing authority shall directly commence proceedings for the revocation of the state license.

(h) If a licensee or an employee of a licensee fails to maintain or provide the books and records required pursuant to this section, the licensee shall be subject to a civil fine of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) per individual violation.

(i) All cultivation and dispensing licensees shall be subject to an annual audit, as specified by the licensing authority, in order to ensure proper documentation is kept at each site or facility. The reasonable costs of the audit shall be paid for by the licensee.

  • Gives a lot of power to regulators without any need for just cause…. And not to mention, forces people to incriminate themselves as long as weed is still federally illegal.

19327.

 (a) A licensee may only hold a state license in up to two separate license categories, as follows:

  • This is a real shit show. Why they would complicate matters in this way is beyond ridiculous.

(1) Type 1, 1A, and 5 licensees may apply for type 6A, 6B, 7A, and 7B licenses or type 10, 11, and 12 licenses.

(2) Type 6A, 6B, 7A, and 7B licensees may apply for type 1, 1A, and 5 licenses or type 10, 10D, 11, 11D, 12, and 12D licenses.

(3) Type 10, 11, and 12 licensees may apply for type 1, 1A, and 5 licenses or type 6A, 6B, 7A, and 7B licenses.

(4) Type 10D, 11D, and 12D licensees may apply for type 6A, 6B, 7A, and 7B licenses.

(b) Types 2, 2A, 3, 3A, 4, and 8 licensees shall not hold licenses in any other category.

(c) Type 9 licensees may apply only for one additional license from either the cultivation, manufacturing, or dispensing category.

(d) It is the intent of the Legislature to further develop which licensees may hold more than one license type.

  • Are you confused yet?

19328.

 Each licensing authority shall make recommendations to the Legislature pertaining to the establishment of an appeals and judicial review process for persons aggrieved by a final decision of the licensing authority.

19329.

 This chapter and Article 2 (commencing with Section 11357) and Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 11362.7) of Chapter 6 of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code do not require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale, or growth of cannabis in the workplace or affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of cannabis by employees, or prevent employers from complying with federal law.

Article  6. Provisional Licensing

19330.

 (a) Each licensing authority shall, as soon as practicable following January 1, 2016, allow a qualified applicant for licensure to apply for and receive a provisional license to engage in commercial cannabis activity so as to ensure an adequate supply of medical cannabis upon full implementation of this chapter.

  • Here is where the law will die. MOST local municipalities do not have regulations in place for production. It will take incredible political capital and desire to get these local laws passed, and most will either fail completely or take upwards of a year plus to accomplish. Have you ever seen thousands of growers dig up their money and try to bribe their local officials? This will be exciting. Considering most municipalities these days are actively trying to ban production, it blows my mind that somehow lawmakers believe anything will be “practicable” about this process.

(b) Each licensing authority shall establish appropriate fees not to exceed the reasonable regulatory costs to the licensing authority for the issuance of a provisional license under its jurisdiction.

(c) Each licensing authority shall, if the applicant meets all the requirements in this section, issue a provisional license to individuals and entities that the licensing authority determines were, during the three months prior to January 1, 2016, regularly cultivating, processing, manufacturing, transporting, or distributing medical cannabis collectively or cooperatively in full compliance with any applicable local ordinance, and to continue to do so until the licensee’s application for a state license has been approved or denied under this chapter, but no later than 90 days after the licensing authority begins accepting applications for regular state licenses. The licensing authority may consult with relevant local agencies in making a determination on whether a provisional license applicant is in compliance with applicable ordinances.

  • This is where the industry dies completely. NO ONE who grows or manufactures products are licensed or are in full compliance with any local ordinance, and none will be by this deadline. Sorry. You are all fucked. Thanks for playing. No more weed for anyone. Go home. The party is over. Here is where corruption will become king and everyone will be absolutely 100% fucked. This is your poison pill. Not sure what they don’t get about that, or how anyone in our industry does not see that and still supports this shit.

(d) To qualify for a provisional license, an applicant shall disclose to the appropriate licensing authority all of the following information in writing:

(1) The names, addresses, and dates of birth of each principal officer, owner, or board member.

(2) The common street address and assessor’s parcel number of the property at which the licensee conducts activity under the authority of the license.

(3) The common street address and assessor’s parcel number of the property at which cultivation activity was or is to be conducted.

(4) For the three months prior to January 1, 2016, the quantity of cannabis cultivated, processed, manufactured, tested, transported, or sold at a location, and the quantity expected to be cultivated, processed, manufactured, tested, transported, or sold from January 1, 2016, to July 1, 2016, inclusive. The licensee shall make its records of current activity, and activity for the three months prior to January 1, 2016, available to the licensing authority upon request.

  • Yeah. I know you didn’t even know our grow existed a few months ago, but we grew 200 pounds that we want to report to you. No big deal, right? We are good, right?

(5) For an applicant seeking a cultivation or dispensary license, a notarized statement from the owner of real property or landlord where the cultivation or dispensing of commercial cannabis activities will occur, as proof to demonstrate the landowner has acknowledged and consented to permit cultivation or dispensary activities to be conducted on the property by the tenant applicant.

(e) Upon receipt of the application materials and fee, if the applicant meets all the requirements of this section and if the applicant has not committed any act or crime constituting grounds for the denial of licensure, the licensing authority shall issue a provisional license and send a proof of issuance to the applicant.

(f) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a licensing authority shall not issue a provisional license to an individual or entity, or for a premises, against whom there are pending state or local administrative or judicial proceedings or actions initiated by a city, county, or city and county under an applicable local ordinance, or who has been determined through those proceedings to have violated a local ordinance related to cannabis activity, or that knowingly provides false or fraudulent information on an application for licensure.

(g) Entities that are provided immunity under Measure D, approved by the voters of the City of Los Angeles at the May 21, 2013, general election, shall be considered the equivalent of entities that are registered, permitted, or licensed as a medical cannabis business, dispensary, or other entity involved in providing medical cannabis to patients under a local ordinance and shall be considered in compliance with a local ordinance for the purposes of this section.

(h) A provisional licensee shall comply with all standards and requirements applicable to a licensee under this chapter, including, but not limited to, the production, recordkeeping, security, and transportation requirements and standards.

(i) Beginning July 1, 2017, all commercial cannabis activity shall be conducted between licensees of commercial cannabis activity. If the licensing authority has not promulgated its respective regulations by that date, the licensing authority shall provide an extension for all provisional licenses for applicants abiding by the provisions of this chapter.

Article  7. Licensed Cultivation Sites

19332.

 (a) The Division of Medical Cannabis Cultivation in the Department of Food and Agriculture shall promulgate regulations governing the licensing of cultivation sites. For purposes of this chapter, the Secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture shall declare medical cannabis to be an agricultural product. The department shall develop standards for the production and labeling of all edible medical cannabis products, standards for the use of pesticides and rodenticides in cultivation, and, in consultation with the State Department of Public Health, maximum tolerances for pesticides, rodenticides, and other foreign object residue in harvested cannabis.

  • So if cannabis is an agricultural product, what other types of ag products can be banned? Can a City tell you that you cannot grow green beans?

(b) The Department of Food and Agriculture shall have the authority necessary for the implementation of this chapter. Department regulations shall do all of the following:

(1) Provide that weighing or measuring devices used in connection with the sale or distribution of medical cannabis are required to meet standards analogous to Division 5 (commencing with Section 12001).

(2) Require that the application of pesticides or other pest control in connection with the indoor or outdoor cultivation of medical cannabis shall meet standards analogous to Division 6 (commencing with Section 11401) of the Food and Agricultural Code and its implementing regulations.

(3) Require that indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation by licensees is conducted in accordance with state and local laws and best practices related to land conversion, grading, electricity usage, water usage, agricultural discharges, and similar matters.

(c) State licenses to be issued by the Division of Medical Cannabis Cultivation are as follows:

(1) Type 1, or “specialty outdoor,” for outdoor cultivation of less than 5,000 square feet of total area on one property. Maximum of 50 mature plants on the property.

(2) Type 1A, or “specialty indoor,” for indoor cultivation of less than 5,000 square feet of total area on one property. Maximum of 50 mature plants on the property.

(3) Type 2, or “small outdoor,” for outdoor cultivation between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet of total area on one property. Maximum of 99 mature plants on the property.

(4) Type 2A, or “small indoor,” for indoor cultivation between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet of total area on one property. Maximum of 99 mature plants on the property.

(5) Type 3, or “medium outdoor,” for outdoor cultivation between 10,001 and 30,000 square feet of total area on one property. Maximum of 299 mature plants on the property. The Division of Medical Cannabis Cultivation shall limit the number of licenses allowed of this type.

(6) Type 3A, or “medium indoor,” for indoor cultivation between 10,001 and 30,000 square feet of total area on one property. Maximum of 299 mature plants on the property. The Division of Medical Cannabis Cultivation shall limit the number of licenses allowed of this type.

(7) Type 4, or “large outdoor,” for outdoor cultivation greater than 30,001 square feet of total area on one property. Maximum of 500 mature plants on the property. The Division of Medical Cannabis Cultivation shall limit the number of licenses allowed of this type.

(8) Type 5, or “nursery,” for cultivation of medical cannabis solely as a nursery. Type 5 licensees may transport live plants.

  • Who decided these arbitrary numbers? I am guessing “total area” does not mean plant canopy.

(d) All license fees collected by the division pursuant to this chapter shall be deposited into the Medical Cannabis Cultivation Fees Account, which is hereby established within the fund. All moneys within this account are available upon appropriation by the Legislature to the division solely for the purposes of fully funding and administering this chapter, including, but not limited to, the costs incurred by the division for its administrative expenses and costs and the costs of regulation.

(e) It is the intent of the Legislature to establish appropriate protocols for the collection of the specific location of cultivation sites.

Article  8. Licensed Dispensing Facilities

19334.

 (a) The State Board of Equalization shall promulgate regulations governing the licensing and regulation of wholesalers, dispensing facilities, and transporters. State enforcement shall be conducted in coordination with local authorities.

(b) State licenses to be issued by the State Board of Equalization are as follows:

(1) Type 9, or “wholesale,” for the storage of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products. Maximum storage shall be two pounds of dried flower or 200 individual units per medical cannabis product.

  • 2 pounds? I got that stored right now at the house.

(2) Type 10, or “small dispensary,” for dispensaries with 1-50 employees, including management.

(3) Type 10D, or “small dispensary-delivery,” for dispensaries with the same restrictions as Type 10; also allows for delivery.

(4) Type 11, or “medium dispensary,” for dispensaries with 51-100 employees, including management.

(5) Type 11D, or “medium dispensary-delivery,” for dispensaries with the same restrictions as Type 11; also allows for delivery.

(6) Type 12, or “large dispensary,” for dispensaries with 100 employees or more, including management.

(7) Type 12D, or “large dispensary-delivery,” for dispensaries with the same restrictions as Type 12; also allows for delivery.

(8) Type 13, or “transport,” for transporters of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products.

  • Such a weird breakdown…. Ugh.

Article  9. Licensed Transporters

19336.

 (a) A licensee authorized to transport, or transport and deliver, medical cannabis and medical cannabis products shall do so only as set forth in this chapter.

(b) Prior to transporting or delivering medical cannabis or medical cannabis products, a licensee authorized to transport or deliver medical cannabis or medical cannabis products shall do both of the following:

(1) Complete an electronic shipping manifest as prescribed by the licensing authority. All delivery shipping manifests shall not identify the qualified patient or primary caregiver by name or address.

(2) Securely transmit the manifest to the licensing authority and the licensee that will receive the medical cannabis product, as applicable.

(c) During transportation or delivery, the licensed transporter shall maintain a physical copy of the shipping manifest and make it available upon request to agents of the licensing authority, local law enforcement officers, or any other designated enforcement agency.

(d) The licensee receiving the shipment shall maintain each electronic shipping manifest and shall make it available upon request to agents of the licensing authority, local law enforcement officers, or any other designated enforcement agency.

(e) Upon receipt of the transported shipment, a licensee shall submit to the licensing agency a record verifying receipt of the shipment and the details of the shipment.

19337.

 (a) Transported and delivered medical cannabis or medical cannabis products shall be transported only in a storage compartment that is securely affixed to the interior of the transporting vehicle and that is not visible from outside the vehicle. This requirement shall only apply to licensees transporting medical cannabis or medical cannabis products with a total retail value of at least an amount equal to a statewide monetary threshold, which shall be adopted by regulation by the licensing authority after review by the task force and the office.

(b) A vehicle transporting medical cannabis or medical cannabis products shall travel only directly between licensed facilities, unless otherwise authorized under its license.

(c) All transport or delivery vehicles shall be staffed with a minimum of two employees. At least one employee shall remain with the vehicle at all times when the vehicle contains medical cannabis. This requirement shall only apply to licensees transporting medical cannabis or medical cannabis products with a total retail value of at least an amount equal to a statewide monetary threshold, which shall be adopted by regulation by the licensing authority after review by the task force and the office.

(d) Each transport or delivery team member shall possess documentation of licensing and a government-issued identification card at all times when transporting or delivering medical cannabis and shall produce it upon the request of agents of any regulatory authority or a law enforcement official.

  • And they just send OxyContin through the mail. Awesome.

19338.

 (a) The licensing authority shall develop a database containing the electronic shipping manifests, which shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(1) The quantity, or weight, and variety of products shipped.

(2) The estimated times of departure and arrival.

(3) The quantity, or weight, and variety of products received.

(4) The actual time of arrival.

(5) A categorization of the product.

(b) The database shall be designed to flag irregularities for a regulatory authority to investigate. An authorized enforcement authority may, at any time, inspect shipments and request documentation for current inventory.

19339.

 (a) This chapter shall not be construed to authorize or permit a licensee to transport or deliver, or cause to be transported or delivered, cannabis or cannabis products outside the state, unless authorized by federal law.

(b) A local jurisdiction shall not prevent transportation of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products on public roads by a licensee transporting medical cannabis or medical cannabis products that acts in compliance with this chapter and applicable local ordinances.

19340.

 (a) All mobile, vehicular, and Internet-based delivery services are prohibited except as authorized by this chapter.

(b) Upon approval of the licensing authority, a licensee authorized to provide delivery services shall abide by the following:

(1) The city, county, or city and county in which the premises of the licensee is located, and in which each delivery is made, must specifically permit delivery service by ordinance referring to this section.

(2) All employees delivering medical cannabis or medical cannabis products must carry a current license authorizing those services with them during deliveries, and must present that license upon request to state and local law enforcement, employees of regulatory authorities, and other state and local agencies enforcing this chapter.

(c) A city, county, or city and county shall have the authority to impose a tax, pursuant to Section 19355, on each delivery transaction completed by a licensee.

(d) Whenever a licensing authority has knowledge that a licensee has transported or delivered, or arranged or facilitated the transport or delivery of, medical cannabis or medical cannabis products in violation of this chapter, the licensing authority shall summarily suspend that facility’s license and shall without delay commence proceedings for the revocation of the license in accordance with this chapter.

(e) All license fees collected by the licensing authority pursuant to this chapter shall be deposited into the Medical Cannabis Retail Fees Account, which is hereby established within the fund. All moneys within the Medical Cannabis Retail Fees Account are available upon appropriation to the State Board of Equalization, solely for the purposes of fully funding and administering this chapter, including, but not limited to, the costs incurred by the board for its administrative expenses and costs and the costs of regulation.

  • So basically, fuck your delivery service…..

Article  10. Licensed Manufacturers and Certified Laboratories

19342.

 (a) The Division of Medical Cannabis Manufacturing and Testing within the State Department of Public Health shall promulgate regulations governing the licensing of cannabis manufacturers.

(b) Licenses to be issued by the division are as follows:

(1) Type 6A, or “small manufacturing level 1,” for manufacturing sites that use a maximum of XXX pounds of medical cannabis each year to produce medical cannabis products, using nonvolatile solvents.

(2) Type 6B, or “small manufacturing level 2,” for manufacturing sites that use a maximum of XXX pounds of medical cannabis each year to produce medical cannabis products, using volatile solvents.

(3) Type 7A, or “large manufacturing level 1,” for manufacturing sites that use a maximum of XXX pounds of medical cannabis each year to produce medical cannabis products, using nonvolatile solvents. The division shall limit the number of licenses of this type.

(4) Type 7B, or “large manufacturing level 2,” for manufacturing sites that use a maximum of XXX pounds of medical cannabis each year to produce medical cannabis products, using volatile solvents. The division shall limit the number of licenses of this type.

(5) Type 8, or “testing,” for testing of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products. Type 8 licensees shall have their facilities certified according to regulations set forth by the division.

(c) All license fees collected by the division pursuant to this chapter shall be deposited into the Medical Cannabis Manufacturing and Testing Fees Account, which is hereby established within the fund. All moneys within the Medical Cannabis Manufacturing and Testing Fees Account are available upon appropriation by the Legislature to the division, solely for the purposes of fully funding and administering this chapter, including, but not limited to, the costs incurred by the division for its administrative expenses and costs and the costs of regulation.

  • Super…. What is an XXX is anyone’s guess. Like I said… ZERO licenses for cultivation or manufacturing currently exist, so everyone is fucked come provisional licensing and there will be no weed for anyone to sell. Stupidest shit ever. Shame on those supporting this bullshit.

19343.

 (a) The State Department of Public Health shall promulgate standards for certification of testing laboratories to perform random sample testing of all medical cannabis products, including standards for onsite testing.

(b) Certification of testing laboratories shall be consistent with general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration activities, including sampling, using standard methods established by the International Organization for Standardization, specifically ISO/IEC 17020 and ISO/IEC 17025.

(c) These requirements shall apply to all entities, including third-party laboratories, engaged in the testing of medical cannabis pursuant to this chapter.

  • And none of them can still test food right, and their results all still vary by up to 40%. SHIT SHOW.

19344.

 (a) A laboratory certified by the department to perform random sample testing of medical cannabis products shall not acquire, process, possess, store, transfer, transport, or dispense medical cannabis for any purpose other than those authorized by Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 11362.7) of Chapter 6 of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code. All transfer or transportation shall be performed pursuant to a specified chain of custody protocol.

(b) A laboratory certified by the department to perform random sample testing of medical cannabis products shall not acquire, process, possess, store, transfer, transport, or dispense medical cannabis plants or medical cannabis products except through a patient, primary caregiver, or a facility issued a state license. All transfer or transportation shall be performed pursuant to a specified chain of custody protocol.

(c) The department shall develop procedures to ensure that testing of cannabis occurs prior to delivery to dispensaries or any other business, and specify how often licensees shall test cannabis, that the cost of testing shall be borne by the licensed cultivators, and requiring destruction of harvested batches whose testing samples indicate noncompliance with health and safety standards promulgated by the department, unless remedial measures can bring the cannabis into compliance with quality assurance standards as promulgated by the department.

(d) The department shall establish a certification fee, and laboratories shall pay a fee to be certified. Certification fees shall not exceed the reasonable regulatory cost of the certification activities.

(e) All certification fees collected by the department pursuant to this chapter shall be deposited into the Medical Cannabis Manufacturing and Testing Fees Account, which is hereby established within the fund.

  • So labs cannot test patient medicine. Only licensed medicine. Doesn’t say how much of the medicine is required to be tested. Should get interesting for sure.

19345.

 (a) The Division of Medical Cannabis Manufacturing and Testing within the State Department of Public Health shall promulgate the following standards:

(1) Health and safety standards applicable to all medical cannabis, and medical cannabis products, including maximum potency standards.

(2) Standards for licensed manufacturers of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products, including, but not limited to, edible products.

(b) At a minimum, the standards required by this section shall do all of the following:

(1) Prescribe sanitation standards analogous to the California Retail Food Code (Part 7 (commencing with Section 113700) of Division 104 of the Health and Safety Code) for food preparation, storage, handling, and sale of edible medical cannabis products. For purposes of this chapter, edible medical cannabis products are deemed to be unadulterated food products.

(2) Require that edible medical cannabis products produced, distributed, provided, donated, or sold by licensees shall be limited to nonpotentially hazardous food, as established by the State Department of Public Health pursuant to Section 114365.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

(3) Require that facilities in which edible medical cannabis products are prepared shall be constructed in accordance with applicable building standards, health and safety standards, and other state laws.

(4) Require that all edible medical cannabis products shall be packaged at the original point of preparation.

(c) No person shall engage in the manufacture, packing, or holding of processed food containing edible cannabis unless the person has a valid registration from the department pursuant to Section 110460 of the Health and Safety Code. Health and safety standards prescribed by this section or promulgated through regulation may be enforced by local environmental health departments.

  • Always nice to kick the edible folks around a little more than everyone else.

19346.

 (a) Prior to sale or distribution at a licensed dispensing facility, edible medical cannabis products shall be labeled and in a tamper-evident package. Labels and packages of edible medical cannabis products shall meet the following requirements:

(1) Edible medical cannabis packages and labels shall not be made to be attractive to children.

(2) All edible medical cannabis product labels shall include the following information, prominently displayed and in a clear and legible font:

(A) Manufacture date and source.

(B) The statement “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS” in bold print.

(C) The statement “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY.”

(D) The statement “THE INTOXICATING EFFECTS OF THIS PRODUCT MAY BE DELAYED BY UP TO TWO HOURS.”

(E) Net weight of medical cannabis in the package.

(F) A warning if nuts or other known allergens are used and the total weight, in ounces or grams, of medical cannabis in the package.

(G) List of pharmacologically active ingredients, including, but not limited to, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the THC amount in milligrams per serving, servings per package, and the THC amount in milligrams for the package total.

(H) Clear indication, in bold type, that the product contains medical cannabis.

(I) Identification of the source and date of cultivation and manufacture.

(J) The name and location of the licensed dispensing facility providing the product.

(K) The date of sale.

(L) Any other requirement set by the department.

(b) Only generic food names may be used to describe edible medical cannabis products.

  • So the whole edible game is changed. At least the edibles I produce already meet most of these requirements, unlike most of these sexy bitches out here. Welcome to the world of medical. There are  bunch of weird requirements here that are just overkill.

Article  11. Cannabis Employee Certification and Apprenticeship

19350.

 

  • AKA the UFCW owns you chapter….

 

 This article applies only to cultivation sites and dispensaries.

  • Why?

19351.

 The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement shall do all of the following:

(a) Maintain minimum standards for the competency and training of employees of a licensed cultivator or dispensary through a system of testing and certification.

(b) Maintain an advisory committee and panels as necessary to carry out its functions under this article. There shall be employer representation on the committee and panels.

(c) Adopt regulations as determined to be necessary to implement this article.

(d) Issue certification cards to employees certified pursuant to this article.

(e) Establish registration fees in an amount reasonably necessary to implement this article, not to exceed twenty-five dollars ($25) for the initial registration. There shall be no fee for annual renewal of registration. Fees collected for cultivation sites and dispensaries shall be placed into the Medical Cannabis Cultivation Fee Account and the Medical Cannabis Retail Fee Account, respectively.

19352.

 (a) By January 1, 2017, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement shall develop a certification program for cannabis employees. Commencing January 1, 2019, except as provided in subdivision (c), certification shall be required of all persons who perform work as cannabis employees.

(b) Individuals desiring to be certified shall submit an application for certification and examination.

(c) (1) Certification is not required for registered apprentices working as cannabis employees as part of a state-approved apprenticeship program. An apprentice who is within one year of completion of his or her term of apprenticeship shall be permitted to take the certification examination and, upon passing the examination, shall be certified immediately upon completion of the term of apprenticeship.

(2) Commencing January 1, 2019, an uncertified person may perform work for which certification is otherwise required in order to acquire the necessary on-the-job experience for certification provided that the person shall be under the direct supervision of a cannabis employee certified pursuant to this section who is responsible for supervising no more than one uncertified person.

(3) The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement may develop additional criteria governing this subdivision.

  • ROLLS EYES

19353.

 (a) The following shall constitute additional grounds for disciplinary proceedings, including suspension or revocation of the license issued pursuant to this chapter:

(1) The licensee willfully employs one or more uncertified persons to perform work as cannabis employees in violation of this article.

(2) The licensee willfully fails to provide adequate supervision of uncertified workers.

(3) The licensee willfully fails to provide adequate supervision of apprentices.

(b) The Labor Commissioner shall maintain a process for referring cases to the appropriate regulatory authority when it has been determined that a violation of this section has likely occurred. The Labor Commissioner shall have a memorandum of understanding with the regulatory authorities in furtherance of this section.

(c) Upon receipt of a referral by the Labor Commissioner alleging a violation under this section, the appropriate licensing authority shall open an investigation. Disciplinary action against the licensee shall be initiated within 60 days of the receipt of the referral. The licensing authority may initiate disciplinary action against a licensee upon his or her own investigation, the filing of a complaint, or a finding that results from a referral from the Labor Commissioner alleging a violation under this section. Failure of the employer or employee to provide evidence of certification or apprentice status shall create a rebuttable presumption of violation of this section.

(d) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2019.

  • By January 2019 no one will give a shit….

Article  12. Taxation

19355.

 The office and other state agencies may assist state taxation authorities in the development of uniform policies for the state taxation of state licensees.

  • Show me the money…. Want to see a fight? Watch this.

19356.

 (a) (1) In addition to any authority otherwise provided by law, the board of supervisors of a county may impose, by ordinance, a tax on the privilege of cultivating, dispensing, producing, processing, preparing, storing, providing, donating, selling, or distributing cannabis by a licensee operating pursuant to this chapter. The tax may be imposed for general governmental purposes or for purposes specified in the ordinance by the board of supervisors.

(2) The board of supervisors shall specify in the ordinance proposing the tax the activities subject to the tax, the applicable rate or rates, the method of apportionment, and the manner of collection of the tax. A tax imposed pursuant to this section is a tax and not a fee or special assessment, and the tax is not required to be apportioned on the basis of benefit to any person or property or be applied uniformly to all taxpayers or all real property.

(3) A tax imposed by a county pursuant to this section by a county may include a transactions and use tax imposed solely for cannabis or cannabis products, which shall otherwise conform to Part 1.6 (commencing with Section 7251) of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. Notwithstanding Section 7251.1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, the tax may be imposed at any rate specified by the board of supervisors, and the tax rate authorized by this section shall not be considered for purposes of the combined tax rate limitation established by that section.

(4) The tax authorized by this section may be imposed upon any or all of the activities set forth in paragraph (1), regardless of whether the activity is undertaken individually, collectively, or cooperatively, and regardless of whether the activity is for compensation or gratuitously, as determined by the board of supervisors.

(5) The board of supervisors shall specify whether the tax applies throughout the entire county or within the unincorporated area of the county.

(b) In addition to any other method of collection authorized by law, the board of supervisors may provide for the collection of the tax imposed pursuant to this section in the same manner, and subject to the same penalties and priority of lien, as other charges and taxes fixed and collected by the county.

(c) Any tax imposed pursuant to this section shall be subject to applicable voter approval requirements imposed by any other law.

(d) For purposes of this section, “cannabis” shall have the same meanings as the definition set forth in Section 19300.

(e) This section does not limit or prohibit the levy or collection or any other fee, charge, or tax, or any license or service fee or charge upon, or related to, the activities set forth in subdivision (a), as otherwise provided by law. This section shall not be construed as a limitation upon the taxing authority of any county as provided by other law.

Article  13. Funding

19360.

 Each licensing authority shall establish a scale of application, licensing, and renewal fees, based upon the cost of enforcing this chapter, as follows:

(a) Each licensing authority shall charge each licensee a licensure or renewal fee. The licensure or renewal fee shall be calculated to cover the costs of administering this chapter. The licensure fee may vary depending upon the varying costs associated with administering the various regulatory requirements of this chapter as they relate to the nature and scope of the different licensure activities, but shall not exceed the reasonable regulatory costs to the licensing authority.

(b) The total fees assessed pursuant to this chapter, including, but not limited to, provisional license fees set forth in Section 19330, shall be set at an amount that will fairly and proportionately generate sufficient total revenue to fully cover the total costs of administering this chapter.

  • Fees will vary across the state. Super.

19361.

 (a) The Medical Cannabis Regulation Fund is hereby established within the State Treasury. Notwithstanding Section 16305.7 of the Government Code, the fund shall include any interest and dividends earned on the moneys in the fund.

(b) Except as otherwise provided, all moneys collected pursuant to this chapter as a result of fines or penalties imposed under this chapter shall be deposited directly into the Medical Cannabis Fines and Penalties Account, which is hereby established within the fund, and shall be available, upon appropriation by the Legislature to the office, for the purposes of funding the enforcement grant program pursuant to subdivision (c).

(c) (1) The office shall establish a grant program to allocate moneys from the Medical Cannabis Fines and Penalties Account to state and local entities for the following purposes:

(A) To assist with medical cannabis regulation and the enforcement of this chapter and other state and local laws applicable to cannabis activities.

(B) For allocation to state and local agencies and law enforcement to remedy the environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation.

(2) The costs of the grant program under this subdivision shall, upon appropriation by the Legislature, be paid for with moneys in the Medical Cannabis Fines and Penalties Account.

(d) Funds for the establishment and support of the regulatory activities pursuant to this chapter may be advanced as a General Fund or special fund loan, and shall be repaid by the initial proceeds from fees collected pursuant to this chapter or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this chapter, by January 1, 2022.

  • Yes. Why earmark the funds for education or anything silly like that?

Article  14. Reporting

19363.

 On or before March 1 of each year, the director shall prepare and submit to the Legislature an annual report on the office’s activities and post the report on the office’s Internet Web site. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following information for the previous fiscal year:

(a) The amount of funds allocated and spent by the office and licensing authorities for medical cannabis licensing, enforcement, and administration.

(b) The number of state licenses issued, renewed, denied, suspended, and revoked, by state license category.

(c) The average time for processing state license applications, by state license category.

(d) The number and type of enforcement activities conducted by the licensing authorities and by local law enforcement agencies in conjunction with the licensing authorities or the office.

(e) The number, type, and amount of penalties, fines, and other disciplinary actions taken by the licensing authorities.

Article  15. Privacy

19365.

 (a) Information identifying the names of patients, their medical conditions, or the names of their primary caregivers received and contained in records kept by the office or licensing authorities for the purposes of administering this chapter are confidential and shall not be disclosed pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code), except as necessary for authorized employees of the State of California or any city, county, or city and county to perform official duties pursuant to this chapter, or a local ordinance.

(b) Nothing in this section precludes the following:

(1) Employees of any of the office or licensing authorities notifying state or local agencies about information submitted to the agency that the employee suspects is falsified or fraudulent.

(2) Notifications from any of the office or licensing authorities to state or local agencies about apparent violations of this chapter or applicable local ordinance.

(3) Verification of requests by state or local agencies to confirm licenses and certificates issued by the regulatory authorities or other state agency.

(4) Provision of information requested pursuant to a court order or subpoena issued by a court or an administrative agency or local governing body authorized by law to issue subpoenas.

(c) Information shall not be disclosed by any state or local agency beyond what is necessary to achieve the goals of a specific investigation, notification, or the parameters of a specific court order or subpoena.

SEC. 7.

Section 11362.775 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:

 

11362.775.

Qualified (a)  Subject to subdivision (b), qualified  patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients and persons with identification cards, who associate within the State of California in order to  collectively or cooperatively to  cultivate marijuana cannabis  for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions under Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, or 11570.

(b) This section shall remain in effect only until 180 days after the Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation within the State Board of Equalization posts a notice on its Internet Web site that the licensing authorities have commenced issuing provisional licenses pursuant to the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Control Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 19300) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code), and as of that date is repealed.

  • And SB 420 dies its slow death…..

SEC. 8.

Section 147.5 is added to the Labor Code, to read:

 

147.5.

 (a) By January 1, 2017, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health shall convene an advisory committee to evaluate whether there is a need to develop industry-specific regulations related to the activities of facilities issued a license pursuant to Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 19300) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code.

(b) By July 1, 2017, the advisory committee shall present to the board its findings and recommendations for consideration by the board. By July 1, 2017, the board shall render a decision regarding the adoption of industry-specific regulations pursuant to this section.

SEC. 9.

Section 3094 is added to the Labor Code, to read:

 

3094.

 The Division of Apprenticeship Standards shall investigate, approve, or reject applications for apprenticeship programs for employees of a licensee subject to Article 11 (commencing with Section 19350) of Chapter 3.5 of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code. The Division of Apprenticeship Standards shall adopt regulations necessary to implement and regulate the establishment of the apprenticeship programs described in this section.

  • I own a school in Massachusetts, and still think this is bullshit….

SEC. 10.

Section 2402.5 is added to the Vehicle Code, to read:

 

2402.5.

 The Department of the California Highway Patrol shall establish protocols to determine whether a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis, and shall develop protocols setting forth best practices to assist law enforcement agencies. The costs to the Department of the California Highway Patrol of implementing this subdivision shall, upon appropriation by the Legislature, be paid for with appropriations from moneys in the Fines and Penalties Account of the Medical Cannabis Regulation Fund.

  • Way to let the CHP determine their own standards. (rolls eyes)

SEC. 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.

SEC. 12.

 The Legislature finds and declares that Section 6 of this act, which adds Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 19300) to Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code, imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies within the meaning of Section 3 of Article I of the California Constitution. Pursuant to that constitutional provision, the Legislature makes the following findings to demonstrate the interest protected by this limitation and the need for protecting that interest:

It is necessary to maintain the confidentiality of patient and physician information provided to the regulatory authorities in order to protect the private medical information of patients who use medical cannabis and to preserve the essential confidentiality of the physician and patient relationship.

SEC. 13.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution for certain costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district because, in that regard, 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.

However, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains other costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.

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.

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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

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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

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But… But I thought we were all good?

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Complacency and arrogance will be the death of us.

I have been watching the cannabis industry march around high-fiving each other and acting like adult use legalization was inevitable for the last couple of years. I have done my best to sound the alarm that this thing was far from over, and that the wolves were in the hen house. A lot of my pointed and volatile critique of an industry with its cart in front of its horse has fallen on deaf ears; and that is fine.

The blowhards and wannabe moguls have continued to disregard the battle at hand in an effort to lay the groundwork for their “next big thing” approach to cannabis reform. Even long time reform advocates have turned the page before they were done reading, and many once vocal and great activists have hung up their protest signs and bullhorns for some great business opportunities or jobs. Many have completely forgotten that we are long from out of the woods; and that we have really only just begun to fight. Folks have chosen to roll over and take what is given to them, and there is very little housekeeping being done within the cannabis reform movement. Everyone is so busy glad-handing one another about how great things will be that any progress we see is being undermined by politicians and those who see weed as simply a means to an end of great fortune. It is pretty sad.

Across the nation we are beginning to see increased and unnecessary limitations and enforcement of the cannabis industry. While organizations and individuals hosted awards galas and parties to celebrate their pyrrhic victories, those who oppose cannabis, and those who love nothing more than cannabis money, have conspired to throttle the progress we have seen.

Look around you. A lot of the progression has become regression, and many state programs are under attack. You have the passage of SB 5052 in WA State that will completely decimate the medical cannabis program there. Passed by the legislature and awaiting the Governor’s inevitable signature, this bill will close all of the medical cannabis dispensaries in the state and force patients into the highly regulated industry established by I-502. It is a nightmare that many should have seen coming. Why? Because the authors of 502 put no real protections in place, and the medical cannabis program in the state was not clearly defined from the outset. Since there were no meaningful laws on the books that defined medical cannabis dispensaries and the many products that make up the industry, the entire thing was left to chance and not afforded any real legal protections.

ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION CALIFORNIA? We are virtually in the same boat, with the entire industry being one weird “collective or cooperative” with no real protections or definitions.

It is imperative that we ensure that the language put on the ballot for 2016 clearly defines the medical and adult use industries, their functions, the products they encompass, the standard business practices of the industry, and the individual rights of patients and weedheads. This is not a game to be left to chance or interpretation. This is reality. The language we put on the ballot must include clear and concise direction as to what protections we are afforded as a community.

You can also look at what is happening in Colorado for more insight as to areas we need to better define going forward. They are working to further limit the industry there and have begin to impose more and more restrictions on cannabis in the state program. Edible cannabis products have come greatly under attack in recent months, as the state pushed for regulations on the products potency and marketing. There is also the controversy of the newly imposed testing requirements that have proven to be anything but reliable. Do not forget the restrictions on licensed businesses participating in the Cannabis Cup too! And then of course there is the development of limitations for the state’s caregiver program and crack down on doctors that is more intense than what we have seen for pill mills that actually kill a lot of people. Awesome, right? When they said “Regulate Like Alcohol” they did not mean “exactly” like alcohol; or maybe not even sort of.

Rhode Island is also fighting the passage of a bill that would decimate the state’s successful caregiver program and force patients into the homogenous and cost prohibitive dispensary model to access their medicines. While there has been a lot of great success with the program, a couple of would be business moguls hired some lobbyists to highlight some isolated incidents and wrote legislation being proposed that would completely destroy the caregiver programs there. Progress….

Don’t forget Massachusetts, where the law was written so poorly in 2012 that it will be nearly THREE full years before any dispensary opens its doors to provide cannabis medicines to patients. Patients continue to demand access, but the state has largely bungled the process and retarded the program’s progress at every point. There is hope that the new administration of Charlie Baker will do a better job given recent statements, but it is a sad day when a Republican Governor of a largely liberal blue state of Massachusetts is more committed to their medical cannabis program than the former Democratic standard bearer Deval Patrick. Maybe his new job at Bain Capital influenced his willingness to botch the program and leave the good people of the Commonwealth suffering unnecessarily. Maybe Bain Capital will own all of the dispensaries in New England sooner than later. It would not surprise me at this point.

Oregon is having some growing pains in its coming program. Alaska continues to drag its feet and even raided their former TV news personality turned cannabis entrepreneur, Charlo Green. Arizona is trying to make it more difficult to get cannabis medicines. Maine hired Sheriffs to inspect their caregivers. Ohio has a battle on their hands, as groups set to try and make monopolies part of the state constitution and groups battle for funding. All across the country there seems to be solutions to what are hardly real problems which threaten cannabis freedom at its core, and could continue to confuse and confound what is legal and what is not. The dangers lie in the fact that one bad law from one state often becomes another bad law in another state, as lawmakers and regulators are generally lazy. The cannabis reform movement’s own lack of engagement in a lot of the programs and politics has resulted in knee-jerk reactions resulting in less freedom… not more.

To further complicate the mess, look at the big raid of a large cannabis lab in Southern California, The Werc Shop, last week as clear evidence of complacency and arrogance. So here is a third party lab that is supposed to be providing verification for cannabis products for safety and potency. While at the same time the lab is producing and selling its own cannabis products, and is in bed with other producers of cannabis products. So the people doing the testing of your product are directly competing with you in the cannabis marketplace. Add to that the sheer stupidity of operating in the not-so-liberal Pasadena and lurking in a building where your neighbors didn’t really know you, and you get the recipe for disaster that happened there. Realize that third party labs in California are really anything but, and that the labs themselves are operating in a quasi-legal environment also apparently as some strange “collective or cooperative” as required under CA law, and you can see the complexities of developing the legal framework of the industry here moving forward. What can we do to protect businesses deeply invested who believe they are doing the right thing, but really have no legal protections at all? How can we write a law here that encompasses the vast majority of our industry, while realizing the ultimate goal of ending prohibition and allowing adults access to high quality and affordable cannabis for whatever they please?

But there is no real sense of urgency in a lot of the cannabis circles these days. People are so caught up in their own little get rich quick schemes that they have disregarded the fight completely. People are ether so sure of themselves, or so fucking jaded, that they have allowed complacency to overtake their identities. Their false sense of hope and inevitability is dangerous and fails to understand reality. The battle is far from over…. In fact it has really just begun.

In a recent article by Bloomberg entitled “Marijuana Legalization Across U.S. May Hinge on 2016 California Vote”, we are clearly reminded that this thing is anything but in the bag. The words that go into the law we put on the ballot here matter. It will be a delicate balance of what we need and what will pass the voters. We cannot afford to fuck this one up. What is written here will define the industry for decades to come and should not be taken lightly. There are a lot of important issues to consider, including medical access, cannabis production methods, and public safety matters. To help move the conversation along I have developed a discussion page  at reformca.org which highlights a lot of the major points that I believe could use input as people begin to draft and submit their language for initiatives. I would encourage you to use this tool and to be a vocal participant in this process. Too much is at stake to not have our voices heard on this one.

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We have a lot of work to do. Coalitions and organizations are developing to take us on this wild ride through the election in 2016, and marijuana will be a hot button topic all across the United States. We must be prepared to stand up and be accounted for, or we should prepare for defeat and deception. Nothing is a given, and what we have seen is that some of our biggest enemies are within. There are no do-overs. We must find a way to rise up and meet the challenges of tomorrow today.

But don’t take my word for it….Look around:

“A state with so much influence and size is very important,” said Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a San Diego-based nonprofit group that opposes legalization. “We expect a long, drawn-out battle in California — and an expensive one.”

or this tidbit here….

“I don’t think it’s a slam dunk to pass,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican political consultant who worked for former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “There’s a lot of opposition to it. There will be a lot of concern about unintended consequences.”

Supporters will have the more difficult burden of persuading voters to change the law, while opponents can stir doubt and concern to secure ‘no’ votes, Stutzman said.

The game is ours to lose, but given some of the early fumbling I have seen, coupled with the losses we are experiencing in current programs, I am certainly concerned. Do not think this is over by a longshot. It is the fight of our lives and we need be prepared. While there is certainly momentum in the cannabis reform efforts, there is still the realization that we are one bad election away from losing all of the ground we have gained. Just yesterday NJ Governor and 2016 Presidential hopeful, Chris Christie stated that if elected he would shut down the industry and return pot to the dark ages…

If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) becomes president of the United States, he said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” Tuesday, he will “crack down” on those states that have ended prohibitions on marijuana.

When asked by Hewitt if he would enforce federal drug laws in those states that have legalized and regulated cannabis, Christie responded unequivocally.

“Absolutely,” Christie said. “I will crack down and not permit it.”

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So as you sit there planning your next “let’s give each other a reach around for how great we are and celebrate” event, just know that you are still at war. Assholes like Sheldon Adelson, who sunk Florida’s efforts to pass a medical marijuana law last year, are a couple of large donation checks away from sinking your battleship. Are we stupid to think that we have this thing in the bag? We don’t. Not even a little bit.

“But… But I thought we were all good?”

No, asshole. You are pretty fucking far from all good. You are looking down the barrel of a gun and you don’t even know it. You have let the shroud of complacency take over your existence,  and our enemy knows it. We are completely vulnerable.

We have to be ready to fight. Nothing will be perfect, but we must ensure that any efforts we make going forward are focused on cannabis freedom and a level playing field for all. Continuing to appease the opposition is obviously not working, and I for one am tired of being sold out by some of our own for their shot at the title. You can be certain that in the near future the industry and cannabis regulations we see will not be like tomatoes, so you can just stop that romanticism right now. What we need to do is understand WHAT WE NEED, and use our collective voices to ensure that at the minimum that is what we get. We can work on what we want from there.

Wake the fuck up and get off your ass already. Tomorrow is here today, and you are already two steps back. Time to get moving. No better time than the present.

Who CARERS Anyway?

Rand Paul introduces medical marijuana bill

I have heard a lot of excitement and commotion regarding the U.S. Senate’s introduction of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act. From some of the blind support being put forth by the cannabis community and the lobbying efforts by folks to encourage the enactment of this bill you would think that Congress was actually legalizing marijuana or something. But that is far from the fact.

On a macro level, sure… it sounds positive. Congress is going to reschedule cannabis and allow for states to set their own policies. Wooohooo! They are going to allow for banking and provide direct access at the Veterans Administration. Great, right? It is like a dream come true, you might think. But think again. The bill crafted here, while great for headlines, will likely do more harm than good in the long run; and will not really solve any of the problems facing the cannabis industry. The overall effects could range from very little, to actually destroying the fabric of the current cannabis landscape, as well as creating an environment that is much more restrictive and limiting than the programs we see now.

Let’s take a closer look at the CARERS Act and the smoke and mirrors it attempts to put forth.

Supporters of the bill claim that it will “allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies and eliminate federal prosecution of patients, providers, and businesses in states with medical marijuana programs.” The text inserted into the Controlled Substances Act is as follows:

Compliance With State Law.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this title relating to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State law relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, laboratory testing, or delivery of medical marihuana.

The obvious issue is that this change ONLY applies to “medical marihuana.” Being that four states and D.C. have enacted adult use legalization, the limiting reach of changing the CSA to not apply to persons acting in compliance with state law where medical is concerned shines a spotlight on the still very criminal nature of those operating in the non-medical side of the industry. So while this is definitely the highlight of the CARERS Act, it still leaves a lot to be desired as to where the industry and Country are headed in relation to marijuana.

As a person living in California, it is not very comforting either. California is over 10% of the Country and probably over 50% of the current cannabis industry. Yet no one here really knows who is and who is not “acting in compliance with state law.” Everyone is a collective or cooperative, no matter what they do in the industry. They keep attempting to pass bad laws that will further clarify the industry and establish regulations and licensing, but even those are not set to take place until 2017 at the earliest, even if they were to pass today. So to be clear, really the CARERS Act does not protect anyone in California and just the medical only people in Colorado and Washington; and don’t forget that the State of Washington is also trying to severely limit their medical only industry. So the people protected by this provision to the CSA is very limited.

You can even take it one step further and realize that there is no working definition in this Act or in Federal law for what “medical marihuana” actually is. So it gives added protections to people for something that does not exist. As we have seen from state to state, what is and what is not considered “medical” is a pretty wide range of issues. So what this clause is protecting is really anyone’s guess.

But let’s get to the nitty-gritty…. Rescheduling. I have heard cannabis advocates call for rescheduling a million times, and I just don’t get it. The CARERS Act reschedules cannabis from Schedule 1 to the incredibly restrictive Schedule 2. This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This topic came up at my Federal sentencing for providing cannabis edibles. Here is that exchange between the Honorable Judge Claudia Wilken and my attorney Tony Serra:

The judge’s next matter of inquiry focused on documents the defense had filed regarding efforts to change the scheduling of marijuana. It’s currently in schedule I, a category for drugs with a high potential for addiction and no established medical benefit. However, Serra related a recent experience in U.S. District Court in Fresno that spoke against this categorization – after filing a series of affidavits about marijuana’s medical efficacy, the government had been unable to round up any witnesses to counter the claim. “The U.S. Attorney couldn’t find one doctor who could say there’s no medical efficacy,” he announced with pride.

If marijuana were rescheduled, Serra speculated, it would reduce the federal government’s power to harass medical marijuana providers and subject them to civil and criminal litigation. “Schedule I will be dumped,” he said confidently.

It was a change, he noted, that could also be propelled by a shift in the White House. “We’re hopeful Obama will be elected and there will be real change,” Serra suggested. “This is an area that’s crying out for reform.”

Judge Wilken was smiling and nodding conspicuously by this time. She seemed won over, and appeared to have no concerns about Serra crossing the line of campaigning in the courtroom. She did, however, have one point of confusion: if marijuana was moved from schedule I to schedule II, wouldn’t there still be problems with access? “Schedule II drugs can’t be passed around,” she remarked.

Serra looked up at her, shooting her his most charming smile. “We’re going for schedule III,” he said with buoyancy.

So here is a Federal judge looking at sentencing me for cannabis crimes and even she realizes that Schedule 2 would be problematic for access. Why? Because Schedule 2 is reserved for drugs that “have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.” There are intense and cost prohibitive restrictions placed on manufacturing and dispensing these drugs, which include morphine and oxycodone. None of the state programs currently in place come anywhere near what is expected from companies that deal in Schedule 2 drugs. Therefore, when it is reclassified here state programs will need to conform to these restrictions to be validated, thus shutting down most all of the industry as we currently know it.

You will not be able to have it both ways. Right now cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug and the US Department of Justice has decided not to enforce the law in states that have enacted cannabis programs. It is not likely that once placed in the hands of the FDA through the rescheduling process that they will simply ignore that most people are not in compliance with Schedule 2 standards. You can also believe that manufacturers of schedule 2 drugs and the pharmacies that have to conform to rigid Schedule 2 standards will not sit idly by while another Schedule 2 drug, marijuana, is ignored and allowed to be produced and distributed under non Schedule 2 standards. No way. In fact, you can be sure they will want in on the deal and that they have the money and resources to meet Schedule 2 requirements. They will work hand in hand with the FDA and DEA to ensure that cannabis is treated as a Schedule 2 and that the same rules that apply to them apply to the entire industry.

Add to that the prescription requirements for a Schedule 2 drug, being that a patient must have a written prescription for it and the physician can not prescribe more that a 90 day supply. It will be interesting to see how rescheduling affects a doctor’s ability to recommend cannabis, and the current get a recommendation for a whole year for unlimited amounts of cannabis. Schedule 2 would in theory require for doctors to specify the amount used by the patient and not allow for them to access more than a 90 day supply based on that figure. Also, does anyone think that they are going to allow for you to grow your own or smoke a Schedule 2 drug. LOL. That is funny. I detal more of these questions in a former piece entitles “Is Rescheduling the Answer We Are Looking For?

Now rescheduling will allow for some research to be done, but even that research is strictly limited. It will not be like just any researcher will be able to decide to research cannabis for any reason they want to. Researching Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 drugs require special ordering protocols, and can only be accessed through strict DEA registrations. Placing cannabis in Schedule 2 will tie the hands of researchers and what you will likely see is a lot of people researching ways cannabis can harm people, or why it is more ineffective than certain alternatives available.

Rescheduling of any sort without adult use legalization is going to leave the industry very vulnerable. Schedule 2 will be absolute murder. Assigning the definition of a scheduled drug to a quasi-legal and tolerated environment will cause extreme confusion and put defined limitations in place that no one here is ready for. You can all but assume that 90% of what we believe to be medical in today’s market (grow your own, smoking, most edibles, etc.) will not fit into the neat and tidy categories that are expected from the drug schedules. It will create pay to play business structure that will ensure most cannot afford to pay, and those who can will make sure no one else is playing.

The the CARERS Act goes one step further and excludes Cannabidiol (CBD) from the definition of marihuana. Huh? It is obvious that the sponsors of this bill have drank the Stanley Brother’s kool-aid; but differentiating CBD from other cannabinoids will do nothing more than encourage more limiting CBD only legislation in states. Saying that CBD is not even part of the definition of cannabis is dangerous and unnecessary. It puts CBD on a pedestal, while at the same time demonizing THC. There is no evidence that CBD only medicines are effective alternatives for more than a very small sliver of the cannabis population. This bill attempts to make a special place for CBD with ZERO real studies done on its effectiveness or viability as a medicine. It attempts to quantify it with the same standards used for hemp, implying that the arbitrary less that .o3% of THC is somehow a figure of relevance. It is not. It is the evolution of one bad law into another bad law. It is stupid.

Creating a path for CBD hucksters to virtually go unregulated is a recipe for failure. It is a part of a law that is written to appease those who continue to push the CBD dream at the expense of THC and other cannabinoids. We already see a great deal of policy created allowing only for CBD, and differentiating it from THC in an effort to say “CBD is the medical part of marijuana and THC is evil.” It is an extension of the misinformation campaigns against marijuana that have fueled prohibition for decades. It is a bad idea, and this law cements it into Federal law as if it were a valid scientific fact. It stinks, and I am fairly appalled to see it in the CARERS Act at all.

Then there are the banking provisions. As a person who has been denied several bank accounts and had even more closed, I am all for new banking regulations for cannabis businesses. The current situation is absurd. Even a cannabis trade school that sells nothing more than books and classes is unable to get banking. Dispensaries and producers have to transport and store large quantities of cash. It is a safety nightmare, and it is surprising that there have not been more issues.

But the issues I see with how the CARERS Act goes about the banking issue is with the term “marijuana-related legitimate business.” The term “legitimate” already assumes that there are illegitimate businesses. Banks were already given the go ahead to do banking with “legitimate” cannabis businesses that did not violate the USDOJ’s eight enforcement triggers. The banks scoffed at the memo released, as it forced them to decide who is “legitimate” and who is not. That is not a risk they were willing to take in early 2013, and I don’t think they will be much more inclined to jump at this Act’s definition of what is legitimate. Maybe they will, but my guess would be that as long as the lines as to what is and is not legitimate are shifting banks will still choose to not risk their money on a maybe. It is just not worth it to them.

Then it goes into the research aspect…. it states:

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General, acting through the Drug Enforcement Administration, shall issue not less than 3 licenses under section 303 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 823) to manufacture marijuana and marijuana-derivatives for research approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

So those three manufacturers of marijuana are the ones you will have to order from, after your DEA registration for Schedule 2 drugs as discussed above. Then you can get into where these firms will get their seeds to grow their cannabis, and what the requirements will be for researchers to access the cannabis, if it is even worth studying. If the bill passed this year it is still a year from them issuing licenses and the companies have to develop their facilities and actually grow the cannabis. Then the researchers have to go through the application process and if they are awarded the right to research Schedule 2 cannabis then they might get it somewhere in 2018 or 2019. LOL. Even then, as pointed out above, they are most likely to study the harmful effects of cannabis or why other medical options are better. Because it is Schedule 2, it will make researching it difficult and not likely to be available to small research firms focused on its benefits. But maybe I am just cynical about the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Who knows?

The one saving grace may be the allowance of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend cannabis for those in states that allow for it. But even that will have special forms that doctors have to fill out, and which will likely be tracked to ensure the doctors are not too pot friendly. But it is hopeful that Veterans would have access to cannabis more easily, especially for its benefits where PTSD is concerned. These dudes have killed people for American freedom… can we get them a joint already?

The big reality is that I probably wasted my time and energy writing this entire article because the CARERS Act likely has ZERO chance of passing in our current do-nothing Congress. It is naive to think that lawmakers could come together on something as complex as this, but then again…. stranger things have happened. I just don’t see it. I think outright marijuana legalization would have a better shot at passing than this bill.

I am not a big fan of the Act. I understand people’s willingness to be excited over any legitimization of cannabis at the Federal level; but this bill will likely not help and could certainly hurt our efforts. I am not thrilled to have to oppose it, but nonetheless I do. Take it for what it is, not for what you want it to be.

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

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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.

What You Want and What you Need May Be Two Different Things

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The process for legalizing cannabis in many states for the 2016 election has begun, and it is shaping up to be quite the clusterfuck. Don’t get it twisted. This is going to be a long and difficult process. To be clear, I do not envy any of the groups who are throwing their hat in the ring to try and develop and get language on the ballot that we can all agree on. The reality is that will just never happen.

Just looking at the California landscape is enough to make you want to shoot yourself in the face… much less Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Maine, and maybe even Missouri. But there is no questioning that California is the biggest, and most difficult, piece of the puzzle. Why? Because the toothpaste is already out of the tube here in California and putting it back in anyway whatsoever is going to ruffle some feathers. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who make their living producing and distributing cannabis here in the Golden State. We are coming up on 20 years of medical cannabis infrastructure that has become an entrenched part of the landscape and political process here. No one is giving up what they have worked to build easily and there is real fear that bad language could topple most of the people working in the industry now, leaving a system in place that is neither fair or a workable solution.

The mistrust and infighting has already begun. It is only going to get louder and more pronounced as time goes on.

There is a group trying to develop a campaign module called Reform CA, comprised of Prop. 19 holdovers and those who believe they have some authority to speak on behalf of the industry in California because they have been standing around the longest. It is anything but an open and transparent process though, as even a well-known asshole like me has been left in the dark about what exactly they are up to. The idea is simple. They believe if they can show they have a coalition of major stakeholders on board they believe the big money funders will run the campaign through them. But this group is already fraught with major issues. They do not trust this other group ,and are aligned with this guy who is talking shit about that guy. It is the same old song and dance.

Add to that the fact that they were not even savvy enough to lock down their own domain names going in, as I personally own www.reformca.org and .info, and you can see how this might turn out to be another half-hearted ill-conceived plan of doing the same old thing and expecting different results. I plan on using the reform.org domain to set up an interactive site where people can come together to and share ideas as to what the language for California should be. Talk about a daunting task, but as painful and difficult as having this conversation is going to be, it is a necessary exercise in order to hopefully find language we can all live with.

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ReformCA.org will be developed into an ongoing dialogue concernng the upcoming legalization efforts in California

The Reform CA group held a conference in Oakland the other day that sort of summed up the whole deal for me. The egos and wannabe cannabis rockstars all gathered in a room to tout their theories on what we needed to do to be successful. They discussed how we were going to use different platforms to get the message out and how we could learn from the efforts in other states. It all seemed fair enough until the Keynote Speaker and former Proposition 215 operative Bill Zimmerman took the stage and basically told the entire crowd of over 100 stakeholders how their input did not really matter because the Drug Policy Alliance was running the show, and they should all just shut the fuck up and fall into place now before they got crushed in the process. Needless to say, that did not sit well with most of the people in the room who had dedicated varying portions of their lives to weed and California.

Now Bill Zimmerman told some people who confronted him that he was there speaking on DPA’s behalf, a claim which Drug Policy Alliance representatives adamantly denied when questioned about Zimmerman’s aggressive and inflammatory remarks. It is unclear whether that fact was a miscommunication on Zimmerman’s part, or an afterthought, given that his speech was widely rejected and seen as a lightning rod of criticism for the DPA effort.

I will be the first to say that I like Drug Policy Alliance, for better or worse. I think of all the groups at the table DPA is a quality organization with good leadership that tries to do the right thing. I dig Ethan Nadelmann, and most of the people who work for DPA. I also understand that, like Zimmerman was trying to convey, DPA has a lot of resources and ability to make the effort a reality and get a good law on the ballot for us to be successful. Where I depart from Bill Z is in the area of input and attempted consensus. After discussing the matter in brief with figureheads at DPA, I was assured that they would be soliciting input from the community that they had worked so closely with for over 20 years.

That being said, there was also real doubt by DPA that any real consensus could be found, as their initial input with respected members of the cannabis community had resulted in a wide array of input and ideas on how to best implement a law that ends prohibition and ensures an industry we all can live with. The fact is that there is never going to be language that meets the needs and desires of everyone involved in the weed game in California. It is too vast and too evolved to give everyone everything they want. It ain’t gonna happen.

The reality we all need to face is that we are not going to get a perfect law that is super-duper for everyone. What we must figure out is not what we WANT, but more so what we NEED. I would love to have a law where every adult in California could grow 100 plants and do whatever they want with their harvest with no taxes or need for a commercial licensing structure. But that is not a political reality, and no one putting up several million dollars for the campaign is going to get behind something that is a gamble at the ballot box. If we want to put a law like that on the ballot we better start putting all of our money in a hat and putting it on the ballot ourselves. I can tell you that is not going to happen. I have been in the industry working on fundraising and whatnot for a long time, and I can tell you that it is not going to work out. There is so much mistrust and deceit in the ranks of the cannabis movement that getting the folks who may collectively have the money to pull off such a feat on the same page is impossible. The last person to put his million dollars where his mouth was was Richard Lee, and everyone damn near crucified the guy for trying to make Prop. 19 law because they feared how it would affect their bottom line. Richard Lee has been noticeably absent from the 2016 process thus far.

People need to come down off of “Mount I am Always Right” and begin to look deeply at the politics and social norms that govern our society where cannabis is concerned. We must put aside our “my way or the highway” points of view and begin to understand that we are not going to get a perfect law. We must begin to decide what we NEED to continue to be successful and build a community of cannabis producers and providers, while realizing that we may have to concede some of what we WANT in an effort to do so.

How do we come up with characteristics of a law that creates a level and fair playing field for all, while still  preserving a lot of the industry that currently serves millions of cannabis users well? What can we live with? What is unacceptable? Where are areas we need to be progressive and forward thinking? And where are areas we might want to take a more conservative approach?

It is a difficult task for anyone to take on alone, and at the end of the day some people will be ultimately butthurt no matter what is decided upon. There are many different policy wonks and outlaws working on ways to fuck the football, and the discourse is sure to get ugly at times. But ugly is part of the process. Long and drawn out difficult discussions may seem tedious and unproductive, but they are actually where we normally make most of our progress. Sometimes it takes a pointed and volatile discussion to ensure everyone is heard. At times it will be contentious. People will get called names and there will be loaded questions to answer. But we must put it all on the table and get it out of our systems so that we may grow.

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I am on the edge of my seat as I watch it all develop. The show has just begun and there are already some interesting fireworks popping off between the reformers. I am preparing for the fight, and finding ways to make my voice be heard in the process. Obviously when you are thought of as the resident industry asshole it is difficult to get a seat at the table; but I know how I can influence the conversation and look forward to my role as a provider of information and direction. Whether anyone will listen to me is yet to be seen, but that has never stopped me from making my voice heard… and I would suggest others do the same. Stand up and be accounted for, or do not be surprised if you are run right over.

I do not subscribe to the type of blind allegiance Bill Zimmerman chose to spout off to the crowd the other day. It was short-sighted and disregarded the hard work and opinions of those who have been on the ground making the cannabis industry and movement a reality. I was pleased to hear that DPA disowned him and his hyperbolic bulshit and were committed to working with the community where that was possible.

The other assholes who think they are holding some power in this deal are just as big of pricks IMO… they just did not have the balls to project their rhetoric over a microphone in a room of advocates and stakeholders. It doesn’t mean they are any less guilty of undermining the process though. Whether it is DPA, MPP, NORML, ASA, or a loose coalition made up of weirdos from all of these groups and then some, there is a definite aura of cloak and dagger bullshit already beginning to happen. It is frustrating to say the least, but not surprising. I have been watching this pissing contest for decades now, and it is only more pronounced now that so much is at stake.

I will say that of all the powers at be at the table I am comfortable with Drug Policy Alliance for the most part, if they are sincere in their willingness to take input and craft language based on the realities on the ground in California. That being said, if they propose language that resembles the piece of shit they submitted to the California Secretary of State for consideration in 2014 that support will erode quickly. But hopefully given the victories in Oregon and Alaska coupled with the issues we have seen in Washington and Colorado, DPA will go back to the drawing board and come up with language that we all can live with. I am somewhat optimistic of that.

We, as a community, need to figure out what it s we NEED though. Not what we WANT or believe in our little self-centered worlds we deserve, but WHAT DO WE NEED? What are the basic rights and freedoms that this language should include to ensure we all have an opportunity to be a part of the future of the cannabis industry? What are possibilities and what are non-starters? What can we live with and what is entirely unacceptable?

Then we have to figure out how to mold that into a cohesive message that can influence those who will be writing the language on our behalf. As much as I appreciate and respect the suits and academics that make up most of the policy organizations, the reality is that not one of them has ever grown or sold an ounce of weed in their lives. They do not drive around with a trunk full of turkey bags making sure the crop gets to the end user. They have never made an edible or blasted a gram of wax. They just do not get what it takes to make up this vibrant community of outlaws an entrepreneurs. So it is up to us to get that message of what we NEED to those who will likely be putting forth the ballot initiative that will govern and define our industry for decades to come.

That is the challenge. So go look yourself in the mirror and have a long heart-to-heart conversation with yourself as to what you NEED, and fuck what you want. That is irrelevant for the most part, and not likely to do anything more than frustrate you in the end. Know going in that we will all be disappointed in one way or another, and hopefully, at the end of the day, we can find some sort of broad consensus for what will eventually become law in California, and the many other states working to make weed legal for adults to use for whatever they please. Know it will be a tough and contentious process, and that is okay. It is okay for us to agree to disagree on some points, as long as we can find some middle ground in areas of great importance.

I am not one to roll over and go quietly; but I also realize that I am one nobody in a sea of somebodies who has an opinion that is just that… an opinion. You can be sure you will hear that opinion repeatedly between now and election day 2016, but even I know that there are certain inevitabilities that I need to come to terms with and get over if this is all going to work out. I would suggest you also climb down off of your high horse and look at the situation through realistic, and not rose-colored, lenses.

The fight is sure to get ugly, and I am okay with that as long as at the end of the day we find a solution we can all live with. Selah.