California – Taxes and More

Seller’s Market

While you’ve been able to light up legally since November 2016 (not just anywhere, though; for more on that, keep reading), you haven’t been able to saunter into a shop and buy the stuff over the counter for expressly recreational (officially called “adult-use”) purposes. To sell pot and its products legally, retailers need to have a license issued by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (formerly known as the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation) as well as permission from local authorities to operate. Alex Traverso, the bureau’s chief of communications, says his department “won’t know until the time comes” how many applicants there’ll be by New Year’s Day (although a 2016 California Department of Food and Agriculture survey found 2,718 companies interested in seeking licenses in L.A. County). The state is also prepping temporary licenses, good for four months, to go to existing dispensaries that can prove they’re in compliance with local regulations. In the city of Los Angeles, applications from existing medical marijuana dispensaries will get priority, provided they’re submitted within 60 days of when licenses become available (the city hasn’t yet determined when it will start issuing them). And, under proposed guidelines released in September, cannabis delivery will be available.

Corner Shop

As for what types of stores you can expect to see, Josh Drayton, the communications and outreach director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, says to think more boutique and less neon-and-bong head shop. “The consumer has changed,” he notes, “and modern brick-and-mortar dispensaries are turning into well-organized showrooms and lounges. My marker has always been, ‘Would I bring my mother into this space?’ ”

Adult Use Vs. Medical

In June 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making regulations the same for recreational and medical marijuana. But distinctions between the two will remain. Beginning with cultivation, cannabis will be slapped with either an A for adult-use or an M for medical use, and all businesses involved in the cannabis industry will receive an A license or an M license; retailers have the option of being dual licensees. People with a medical card should hang onto it because medical marijuana will still be available to patients 18 and older. Plus, says Jolene Forman, a staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance , some strains and some shops will continue to cater specifically to patients’ needs. “That will ultimately be really good for medical patients because it preserves strains that are meant to alleviate symptoms,” she notes. “For instance, for the most part you’re probably not going to see a lot of topical remedies in the A category, but topical remedies for muscle spasms or chronic pain are common.”


Whether your purchases are to ease pain or boost pleasure, they’re likely to be in cash for the near term: Since the federal government deems pot illegal, banks have been loath to provide cannabis-related operations credit. Recreational users in L.A. will pay a 15 percent state excise tax as well as a 9.5 percent county sales tax. Some areas will charge an additional business tax, and there are taxes associated with growing, distributing, and selling, too. (Patients with a valid medical card will be exempt from sales tax. ) Economists estimate that those fees could bring $1 billion in revenue to the state, and according to City Controller Ron Galperin, L.A. could bring in at least $50 million in tax revenue next year.

After the government takes a piece of that cash to cover its costs, the money will be spread around, including:

• $2 million to the UC San Diego Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research

• $3 million a year for five years to the California Highway Patrol to establish DUI protocols

• $10 million every year until 2028 to a California public university for legalization-related research

• $10 million in 2018 to areas disproportionately affected by criminalization. The figure will grow by $10 million a year and remain at $50 million in 2022 and beyond

Of any remaining funds, 60 percent will go toward drug education, treatment, and prevention for youth; 20 percent will be distributed to state and local law enforcement; and 20 percent will be put toward cleaning up environmental damage caused by pre-regulation grow operations.

Fines and Penalties

As of November 9, 2016, the fine for driving with an open cannabis “container” (what defines a container is anybody’s guess) is up to $250. In September 2017, Governor Brown took it a step further by signing a bill that specifies a $70 fine for smoking or consuming marijuana while driving. And those people you see vaping on the sidewalk? They are indeed breaking the law. Smoking in public carries a $100 fine that jumps to $250 for smoking in places where tobacco is banned (think: restaurants and offices, in front of certain buildings). Selling weed without a license or having more than the allowable amount of cannabis carries a penalty of $500, six months in jail, or both. Finally anyone caught selling to a minor faces three to seven years.

Recreational Cannabis qualifies for the 2016 ballot In Nevada

Nevada’s top election official has confirmed that an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana will be on the ballot for the 2016 election. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol turned in more than 200,000 signatures in support of the initiative, which far exceeded the 102,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

Secretary of State Ross Miller certified that the coalition had indeed submitted more than enough signatures before the November 12th deadline, thus forcing Nevada’s 2015 legislature to consider the issue or automatically put it on the 2016 ballot for the general election.

This means that, best case scenario, Nevada state legislature may legalize recreational cannabis as early as end of session 2015. Worst case scenario, the initiative will be automatically placed on the 2016 ballot where, presumably, the hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who support recreational legalization (or just recognize its touristy benefits) can vote in support during the general election.

Sounds like it’s time to start planning a trip to Vegas!

photo credit (resized): Curtis Gregory Perry via photopin cc

Cairo, Illinois – MMJnews Update

Cairo may become the home of one of Illinois’ 22 medical marijuana grow operations.

Area 51 Growers, based in New Athens, Ill. and Sikeston, Mo., has reached an agreement with the city to install a $4 million medical marijuana cultivation facility on 10 acres of municipally-owned land. The company will lease the land from the city for 5 percent of its earnings, and put another 5 percent into a non-profit company that will fund community programs like drug treatment centers, food banks, school supply drives and high school dropout prevention.

A minimum of 40 percent of employees will be from Cairo and the company estimates it will have a yearly economic impact of $3 to $9 million on the community.

Roger Allen from Area 51 Growers said Cairo’s location makes it a perfect place to grow marijuana.

“It’s further south than Richmond, Virginia,” Allen said “Any place that can produce cotton or rice, compared to the middle of the state of Illinois or the upper part of the state of Illinois, is just a better place to grow plants.”

Everything hinges on whether or not the state grants one of its 22 licenses to Area 51. Allen hopes to begin production in early 2015, but that depends on how long it takes the state of Illinois to grant the licenses.

“As soon as the applications are available we will have ours filled out, the deposits in and be waiting for our license to come through,” Allen said.

Security at the facility will be tight, according to Cairo mayor Tyrone Coleman.

“I have no reservations whatsoever. The security and the regulations and all of that is just totally awesome,” Coleman said. “It will be like Fort Knox.”

Every marijuana plant will have a microchip that will allow the company to track its whereabouts. A representatives from the Illinois Department of Agriculture will count and scan each plant to ensure each one is accounted for, according to Allen.

“In addition to that, we’re not allowed to dispose of any stems, seeds or roots until we’re given the go by the Illinois Department of Agriculture,” Allen said.

Allen compared the facility’s security to that of a medium-security prison.

For Roger Allen, medical marijuana is more of a personal quest than a financial decision.

“The ability to be able to work with product that has the ability to stop seizures was very crucial to me,” Allen said.

A grand mal seizure caused Allen’s infant daughter to die in his arms, but she was soon resuscitated by emergency medical technicians. Allen said it was difficult to get her seizures under control and she was later prescribed phenobarbital which led to some learning difficulties.

“Now it’s clearly understood that one dose of … cannabis extract stops seizures cold,” Allen said. “If we had the ability to use medical cannabis, she would not have gone through all of those complications brought on by phenobarbital.”

Allen has a 50,000 square foot facility in Sikeston where he is a setting up a plant that will manufacture locks and ammunition, and a small facility that will convert buses into tour buses.

Oregon November ballot pUpdate

Medical marijuana businessman Paul Stanford is giving up on his campaign to qualify two ballot measures for the November ballot that were aimed at giving adults broad rights to grow and possess marijuana.

Stanford announced on his Internet video show, Cannabis Common Sense, that it was clear he can’t gather the needed signatures by the July 3 petitioning deadline.

Although Stanford is ending his campaign, it appears highly likely that a marijuana legalization initiative sponsored by New Approach Oregon will qualify for the November ballot. Peter Zuckerman, a New Approach spokesman, said the campaign may turn in signatures to the secretary of state this week.

The New Approach measure has stricter limits on marijuana possession and is backed by several major out-of-state donors — including those who had also played a big role in helping pass Washington state’s 2012 initiative that legalized marijuana there.

Among the major donors is the family of the late Peter Lewis, a billionaire insurance magnate, and Drug Policy Action, a New York-based group critical of the nation’s war on drugs.

Stanford, who runs a chain of medical marijuana clinics, was unable to attract these donors when he had a marijuana legalization measure on the ballot in 2012 because they were concerned that it wouldn’t attract mainstream voter support. It wound up losing 53 percent to 47 percent.

This time around, the donors once again decided to bypass Stanford.

“I liked ours better,” Stanford said in his video, “but the big multimillionaire funders didn’t.”

In the video, posted Friday, Stanford said he had gathered about 50,000 signatures for each of the two measures. His proposed constitutional amendment, which needed 116,284 signatures, would have given adult Oregonians the right to possess marijuana.

A companion statutory measure, which needed 87,213 signatures, provided the framework for how marijuana could be grown, sold and taxed in the state.

Stanford’s measure would have allowed 21-and-older adults to possess up to a pound and a half of marijuana, while the New Approach measure would allow possession of up to one-half pound in a residence. Adults would be limited to possessing one ounce in public and would not be allowed to consume it in public.

Stanford’s group had been gathering signatures for several months, but it had sometimes had trouble paying canvassers on time. Earlier this month, some of the petitioners went on strike.

Jeff Mapes

North Carolina – Lawmaker files bill legalizing cannabis oil

There’s a movement led by mothers and fathers in North Carolina to get legislation passed that would legalize CBD oil — a strain of the marijuana plant believed to reduce seizures in epileptic children.

State Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret County) introduced legislation Tuesday afternoon hoping to do just that. The bill allows the use of hemp oil for patients who suffer from “intractable seizures.”

McElraft insists the “Hope 4 Haley and Friends” bill does not legalize medical marijuana, rather “this is only a medicine for these children so that they can develop motor skills.”

“I am adamantly opposed to marijuana, to the legalization of marijuana,” McElraft said. “This is a hemp oil bill that’s high in CBD, which is the healing part of the brain. But it’s very low on THC — less than 0.3 percent. You can drink a whole bottle of it and never get high.”

The bill will have to go through two committees before it goes up for a vote in the House. If it passes the Hours, it will go to the Senate and then Gov. Pat McCrory.

“I am so excited that hopefully we’re going to find something that will make their lives happy again and where these babies these children are able to get through a day without a seizure,” McElraft said.

Some families say they have been waiting years for this moment, and they are anxious, nervous and excited all at the same time. Moreover, because lawmakers weren’t moving fast enough, several of them have already moved out to Colorado where it’s legal.

The Carlins’ daughter has a severe form of epilepsy and none of her medications have been working, so they have been waiting and hoping for a lawmaker to take up their cause.

“The seizures are ripping apart her liver, her internals, and it’s just doing so much damage to her,” Steve Carlin said, adding that he is at his wits end.

Liz Gorman moved with her daughter to Colorado away from her husband in Raleigh after hearing about CBD oil through other families with epileptic children.

“It’s not fair to make her have to be separated from her father any more than we already do as part of his military career,” Gorman said.

Dylan Morley also moved out to Colorado Springs, but from Wilmington. He said, “I’d like to see the legislators really educated on the subject.”

The Gormans and the Morleys will also be paying close attention this week to McElraft’s bill. If passed, they said they might come back home.

For the Carlins, if the bill doesn’t pass, they plan on moving to Colorado.

“I can’t wait around any longer. Tomorrow can be her last, every day can be her last day. Every two weeks I’m reading about a kid with Dravet Syndrome, or LGS, dying,” Carlin said.

A family from Raleigh, is also in the process of moving to Colorado. George Dabaghi and his family are planning to leave July 1st, and said they can’t wait for lawmakers to decide. “Nothing’s worked on Michael. We’ve tried for six years. Today has been rough. He’s pretty much had five hundred seizures today alone.”

George Dabaghi said if the bill passes, his family will move back to North Carolina, because all of their friends, family, and support system is already here.

When we spoke to a few lawmakers about the bill, representatives like Jimmy Dixon from Duplin County said he would support it despite being against anything related to Marijuana, because he trusts Representative McElraft’s judgement. “I would give serious pause and consideration to those things she introduces” said Dixon.

Rep. Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg County) also introduced a broader medical marijuana bill last week that covers CBD oil as well.

Las Vegas council agrees to initial medical marijuana rules

By Joe Schoenmann
Wed, Jun 4, 2014

The complexity of regulating medical marijuana tongue-tied Las Vegas lawmakers as they slogged through 27 pages of proposed rules today.

When the City Council finished, this is what they did:

• They approved language in the law’s preamble that correlated medical marijuana dispensaries with “violent crime robberies, burglaries, traffic, noise, drug and gang activity, organized crime and … money laundering and firearms violations.” Lois Tarkanian, Stavros Anthony, Steve Ross and Mayor Carolyn Goodman agreed with that language.

• Limited medical pot dispensaries to the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. An attempt to extend those hours was voted down.

• Agreed to allow medical pot deliveries to the homes of those with Nevada medical marijuana card holders.

• Agreed that medical pot can be obtained in Nevada but outside of Las Vegas if the city’s business licensing chief determines there’s a shortage in Las Vegas.

• Voted to ban misleading, deceptive or false advertising.

• Voted to review medical pot licenses after the two years.

• Voted to lower required surety bonds from $500,000 to $250,000.

City staff said they will be holding public workshops in the next few weeks and that the city will likely begin accepting applications in July.

The council’s votes came two weeks after the council approved zoning rules for dispensaries, production and cultivation facilities. Only 12 dispensaries will be allowed in the city. There are no limits on cultivation or production facilities, but all medical pot businesses must be 1,000 feet from schools, 300 feet from parks and community centers, and 300 feet from places of worship.

Dispensaries will also be allowed on Fremont Street east of 8th Street and on Las Vegas Boulevard.

By state law, 66 medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in the state, including 40 in Clark County. Of those 40, Las Vegas gets 12, Henderson gets five, North Las Vegas gets four and Mesquite would get one.

Council members stressed that this is all new territory; they aren’t sure how these regulations will work in the long run. If they find it isn’t working, “then we go back,” said Councilman Ross. “If there’s too little or too much enforcement, we go back and change it.”

Other regulations outline annual license fees:

• Permit application fee, nonrefundable: $5,000.

• Cultivation facility: $20,000 for first 5,000 square feet; $10,000 for each additional 5,000 square feet.

• Edible marijuana products facility: $25,000.

• Dispensary: $75,000

• Testing lab: $10,000.

• Not for kids: Products can’t be made or packaged in ways that might attract minors (remember candy cigarettes?). Same goes for advertising.

• Advertising restricted largely to newspapers, magazines or other periodicals, as well as online media. No ads on vehicles, radio, video or via handbills.

• No product use within the facility.

• Round-the-clock surveillance with a live feed available to Metro Police. On-site security is required for cultivation facilities from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

• Tax reports, business plans, resumes, accounting plans and financial histories of each owner, in addition to copies of all contracts for consulting, management and leases required to obtain a special-use permit.

• The city can deny an application if it feels a business is “not in the best interest of the welfare, health or safety of the city.”

Before the votes, several people testified that license fees were so high that many well-intentioned, would-be owners were priced out of the market.

Councilman Bob Beers said many of the fees were set by state lawmakers, and the Legislature was the appropriate body to consider those issues.

The 27-page document finally passed after six hours of discussion.

Gov. Dayton Signs Medical Marijuana Bill Into Law

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota joined the ranks of 21 other states Thursday where marijuana is a legal medicine with a law that is one of the nation’s most restrictive.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton signed legislation that sets up a medical marijuana program with tight controls over qualifying conditions and the way it is administered. People won’t be able to smoke marijuana legally or access it in leaf form.

“I pray it will bring to the victims of ravaging illnesses the relief they are hoping for,” Dayton said in a written statement.

The compromise bill upset some medical marijuana advocates, who say many people who need relief won’t get it. But legislative backers say it is a positive first step that satisfied concerns of law enforcement and doctor groups. Dayton had said he wouldn’t get behind a bill that those two entities opposed.

Medical conditions eligible for the treatment include cancer, glaucoma and AIDS. A physician assistant or advanced-practice registered nurse would certify a patient suffered from a qualifying illness.

If all goes as planned, the drug will be available in pill, oil and vapor form in mid-2015. Two manufacturing facilities and eight dispensaries will be permitted statewide.

The law sets up a task force to assess the impact of medical cannabis.

Dayton signaled earlier this month that he would sign the bill, but waited as his staff tried to assemble bill sponsors and affected families for a formal ceremony. A ceremony could still occur at a later date.