Cannabis Ambassador-At-Large: Marching For Freedom In Legal Seattle

By Jake The Professor

Spring has finally arrived in Seattle, and the locals are beginning to come out from their winter roosts.  The Cinco de Mayo Weekend was the unofficial kick off of the summer season, with lots of local festivities, including the Seattle Cannabis Freedom March — very important to many of us in the cannabis community. 

Melissa Hysom, longtime medical cannabis activist and organizer of the Cannabis Freedom March, works tirelessly to organize this yearly iconic event. Activists from across the country travel to the Emerald City each year to march in support of cannabis legalization.

Many people in the cannabis industry aren't aware of the real struggles of how we got to where we are today.

Many people in the cannabis industry aren’t aware of the real struggles of how we got to where we are today.

Outsiders may look at ‘legal’ Seattle wonder why we are still marching. Many aren’t aware of the real struggles that continue today.  I was pleased to have been asked to speak at this year’s event — and had the pleasure of following my very good friends and mentors, Vivian McPeak and John Davis.

I wasn’t nervous, as I speak to smaller groups each day at Diego Pellicer, as part of my role as greeter and spokesperson for the popular cannabis shop in Seattle and as  I lead Seattle Cannabis tour groups with Leila Ali, Tour Director at Kush Tours.

2018 Seattle Cannabis Freedom March Lineup

2018 Seattle Cannabis Freedom March Lineup

People from all over the world come to Jake the Professor to learn about cannabis. I make a point to tell my audience about the medicinal uses for cannabis, and relish the opportunity to demystify some myths they might have about cannabis.

I ask visitors to return to their state and tell their friends about what the hippie in Seattle taught them about Cannabis. 

jake from behind

The Cannabis Freedom March is much the same, but bigger, and more dramatic. This yearly march was lead by some of the youngest activists in our community –Seattle Hempfest Volunteer, Morgan Davis and her friend Alyssa carried the traditional Freedom March banner.  Morgan is the daughter of longtime activist and entrepreneur John Davis, and truly represents the future of our movement and our community.

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As I took the podium, I wanted my message to be simple and close to my heart.  I spoke about the need for unity in our industry. We sometimes forget that we all share the same struggles. Many of us do the exact same job as our competitors.  Our companies share similar ambitions, goals and visions for a legal, profitable future. With all that shared positivity, there really isn’t any need or space to speak negative about our competition.

This industry is growing at a much faster rate than when John Davis and I began Northwest Patient Resource Center (NWPRC) in 2011. Back then, as it is now, we learned the necessity of working together and not working against one another.  Now is a very sensitive time, we all need to come together as an industry with a unified message. We must stand for quality — quality products prepared by quality individuals.

Jake the Professor Weekend Unlimited-1As entrepreneurs we are driven to create the best products with integrity, with a sense of sustainability and accomplishment. Negative output about our competitors only distract us from being our best. The market will weed (no pun intended) out the companies and individuals who do not adhere to these principles.

I closed my speech by recognizing my mentors: Vivian McPeak, a good friend and Director of Seattle Hempfest, and John Davis — two better friends you could not find. I thanked them for championing my career, and helping me along the way.  

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I implored my audience not to spend time pointing out the problems of competitors.  The market will seek its own level. Those that offer less than what the market demands will go out of business naturally. They won’t need help from us to bring them down. They are already working hard at that. 

Perhaps the next time we find a crappy product or lousy gram of weed, we don’t write a three page review on Leafly of Facebook. Just scroll up!  You should be too busy creating your own dreams, anyway.  

Just be kind. Play nice with one another. All of us in the cannabis industry share the same struggles: struggles with LCB, struggles with partners, even struggles with employees. This business isn’t for everyone. Some companies will learn this in due time. 

Be patient. ‘Scroll up’ if you don’t like something, and ‘like and share’ if you do.  It brings out your best and puts you back on top! 

The Wink In Weed: Marijuana Goes Prime Time

By David Rheins

WASHINGTON: This is the year that marijuana goes mainstream.  Mass media is learning to love marijuana in a big way.  You can’t attend a cannabis event in Seattle, or Denver, or Portland these days without bumping into a documentary film crew or budding filmmaker shopping a cannabis concept.

CableTV has been crazy about cannabis since Showtime debuted its seminal stoner series Weeds in 2005, earning the channel’s highest ratings. Similar successes followed for weed-themed “documentaries” from CNBC, VICE, and CNN.  And then Sanjay Gupta opened the flood gates when he reversed his longtime opposition to medical marijuana and called for its immediate rescheduling. That pronouncement by the face of corporate medicine — CNN’s chief medical correspondent was once President Obama’s pick for Surgeon General — had a massive impact on national consciousness.

Today, it is common to see national magazines talking about cannabis.  And not just Rolling Stone, but old school journals like Time, Newsweek, and National Geographic have devoted entire issues to our beloved plant.  This is the golden age of marijuana, and cannabis types are polishing their acts and going Hollywood. High Times editor Rick Cusick recently joined up with Whoopi Goldberg in a commercial effort to create a pot-infused PMS products.  Top professional athletes like former NBA All-Star “Uncle Spliffy” Cliff Robinson are joining longtime stoner celebrities Tommy Chong and Willie Nelson in creating their own line of legal cannabis products.

Uncle Spliffy Cliff Robinson at MJBA Portland

Uncle Spliffy Cliff Robinson at MJBA Portland

At the April meetup of the Marijuana Business Association in Portland last week, Cliff Robinson told the assembled group of professionals that he had received a huge amount of interest from both media and investors alike since his keynote speech at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference in February.  The topic of sports cannabis and the power of sports celebrities will move the marijuana discussion even further into mainstream consciousness. Designer marijuana for athletes is attracting media attention from Spain, Germany, Italy and from around the globe, Uncle Spliffy’s Marc Belsher told MJNN. “Sports Cannabis is an international phenomenon,” he said.

Team Uncle Spliffy at MJBA Portland

Team Uncle Spliffy

Following Team Uncle Spliffy on stage in Portland was Kerri Accardi, a New York filmmaker whose AK Ventures is making history with a prime time television series, “Hmm Did You Know.”  Designed to educate mass America on the healing benefits of medical marijuana, “Medical Cannabis: The Healing Power Of Knowledge” will be a half-hour news magazine series featuring prominent voices from the cannabis industry, including Nurse Heather Manus, activist/entrepreneur John Davis and Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, along with product placement and sponsorship messages. Initial markets will include Seattle, San Francisco, Miami and Denver, with new markets expected to be released shortly.

“We created the series to inform and educate mainstream TV viewers on cannabis, cannabis healing, and the emerging cannabis industry as a whole,” Accardi told MJNN. “We will featured various topics and interviews with patients and industry notables, topical discussions, politics, investigative journalism, health and sports medicine. We are creating herstory.”

AK Ventures Kerri Accardi takes medical cannabis prime time.

AK Ventures Kerri Accardi takes medical cannabis prime time.

 

 

NCIA Lobby Days 2015 Recap

by Bethany Moore, NCIA Development Officer

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: While the cannabis industry and movement has grown at a phenomenal rate this last year, the body that governs our federal laws is notorious for moving at a glacial pace. Between the House of Representatives and the Senate, the future of our country is determined by the votes of more than 500 individuals representing the wishes of their constituents. This is why every year, the National Cannabis Industry Association descends upon Capitol Hill with dozens of our members to meet with these offices to explain the unfair burdens we’re facing, and how we’d like them to fix them.

 NCIA Lobby Days

The contingent of NCIA members participating in the cannabis industry’s Annual Lobby Days grows bigger and bigger each year. This year, NCIA hosted an educational Policy Symposium to kick off the Lobby Days. NCIA director of government relations, Michael Correia, provided training and insider tips for effective lobbying and navigating the House and Senate offices.

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The crowd lit up with smiles when Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton representing the District of Columbia entered the room, and spoke to us about her continued support for our issues, and the great need for the work we are doing to change marijuana laws. Attendees also enjoyed a fireside chat between Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, where they dug deep into the many layers of taxation policy and messaging cannabis industry issues on Capitol Hill.

Around 80 NCIA members gathered into small pre-organized groups, armed with folders containing talking points and one-pagers on our issues, and a whole lot of enthusiasm. Members split off and navigated around the Senate and House buildings, headed to meetings with Congressional offices and their staffers to describe the challenges they face due to the country’s outdated federal laws first hand.

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John Davis, owner of Northwest Patient Resource Center in Seattle, and vice-chair of NCIA’s board of directors, attended Lobby Days for his third consecutive year. “I really appreciated being able to talk to people that are on the front lines along with my business on the 280E tax provision. I am already knowledgeable on the subject but the NCIA Policy Symposium did not disappoint on the details.”

Also from Washington state, Eden Labs owner AC Braddock joined us for her third year of lobbying with NCIA. “In two days we got into over 100 offices and the difference in reception from last year was significant. Legislators were interested in what we had to say, our opinions on different legislation initiatives, and how 280E and banking restrictions were genuinely hindering legal businesses.” said Braddock. “This work has restored my faith in our government processes. It is truly empowering to be heard and sought after as a source of advice.”

On the second day, NCIA kicked off the formal lobbying with a press conference in front of the Capitol. We were joined by several of our industry-friendly allies in Congress. Several pieces of legislation were introduced in the weeks surrounding the Lobby Days event, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015,” which effectively gets the Federal government out of the business of the states, thus allowing each state to determine its own destiny with regard to a regulated cannabis industry. During the NCIA press conference in D.C., Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Denny Heck (D-WA) re-introduced “The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015” (H.R. 2076), which resolves the banking crisis facing cannabis businesses. This bill would provide a safe haven for banks to offer services to cannabis-related businesses without fear of risk of breaking money laundering laws.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also introduced “The Small Business Tax Equity Act” (H.R. 1855 andS. 987) in both the House and Senate. The companion legislation would create an exception to Section 280E allowing state-compliant cannabis businesses to take normal business expense deductions like any other legal business. Rep. Blumenauer has introduced a similar bill in the House before, but this is the first time such legislation has been proposed in the Senate.

Even earlier this year in February, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced a comprehensive solution that would address the banking crisis, the 280E fiasco, and other problematic federal cannabis policies. The “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act” (H.R. 1013) would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act altogether, and allow states to set and enforce their own marijuana policies without federal interference, thus giving each state the freedom to choose its own approach to cannabis, and also removing the many unintended consequences of the current conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.

These bills, though introduced in their respective bodies of government, await being debated and passed through their initial committees before moving to the floor for a full vote.

“While full legalization may not happen for a while, the industry should not have punitive rules in states where is it legal,” noted Braddock. “It is up to our legislators to make the laws viable and effective, and it is up to us to help them understand what that looks like. That is why it is so important to get in front of them.”

The meetings were phenomenal. Starting the dialog with your elected officials opens up a relationship with them and more importantly their legislative aids. My contact list has become quite impressive since I joined NCIA.” said Davis. “This is a big part of why my organization is active in NCIA. Change is needed at the federal level as well as in state and localities. This is our chance to be effective in advancing the changes that are needed to make our industry work.”

National Cannabis Industry Association, a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade organization, would not be able to accomplish this work were it not for the active dedication, passion, and professionalism of its membership. With nearly 900 member businesses across the country, approximately 10% of our membership was represented in Washington D.C. this year, visiting more than half of the 535 total Congressional offices. Our goal next year? Visit with all 535…

 

Cannabis Freedom March In Seattle Is Saturday May 9th

WASHINGTON: Medical marijuana is undergoing a sea change in Washington State after Governor Inslee signed SB 5052 into law, officially putting the state’s unregulated mmj dispensary system under the oversight of the LCB (Liquor and Cannabis Board) and integrating it into the I-502 recreational marijuana regulatory scheme.

Hundreds of cannabis activists and community supporters are expected to gather in Seattle this Saturday for the Cannabis Freedom March to raise awareness for Patient Rights and to demand Global Legalization of Cannabis. The March will begin on Saturday, May 9th at 11 AM at Volunteer Park and wind up at Westlake at 7PM.  A bevy of local activists and cannabis industry leaders are scheduled to speak including Solstice’s Alex Cooley, Washington Bud Company’s Shawn DeNae, MJBA Women’s Alliance’s Morgan, CCSE’s John Davis, Hempfest’s Vivian McPeak, Tim Pate, Delta 9’s Stephanie Heart, and HIA’s Joy Beckerman.

 

Hmm..Did You Know Shifts Perceptions With Rich Media Cannabis Portal

WASHINGTON: Marijuana marketing is coming of age now that legalization is growing both the need and the branding budgets of the cannabis industry’s first crop of pot products.

Cannabis media too is evolving – moving beyond the stereotypical High Times and Cheech & Chong 1970’s sensibility into the modern era of integrated digital marketing.   Meeting the growing need for reliable information — about the laws, the culture, the science and the new cannabis brands —  New York filmmaker Kerri Accardi and her 420MEDIA agency are rolling out a new platform called “Hmm did you know?”

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In an exclusive interview with MJ News Network, Accardi explains that HDYK will be a visually-inspired rich media web destination designed to serve as a comprehensive source of information, education, and entertainment about cannabis and hemp.   “We are creating an online platform featuring professionally-produced series, commercials, digital media, and integrated marketing. HDYK is a place to see faces of the cannabis industry.”

Accardi came to the industry first as an activist, pursuing a passionate drive to raise the awareness of medical marijuana.  Through project work with several leading dispensaries and an assignment shooting last summer’s Seattle Hempfest,  she developed strong personal connections with pioneers and industry leaders, many of whom have agreed to participate in HDYK, including Hempfest’s Vivian McPeak, CCSE’s John Davis and MJBA’s David Rheins.

“The idea manifested when my Aunt Kathy was sick and I was trying to convince my family that cannabis was medicine,” the Staten Island native told MJNN. “There was no where for to me to show them other than scattered websites that were far and few between.  Grateful and beyond humbled I’m now aligned with pioneers and industry leaders to share education and information on a global level through visual entertainment and media.”

The multi-media platform will focus initial content offerings in five key channels: Healing, Science, Business, Hemp and Organic Growing, with an emphasis on programming that shifts public perceptions shaped by years of propaganda. “HDYK will shift consciousness and change the way people perceive our miracle plant, ” she said. “It will give the industry a place to share their products and information while providing the knowledge to those seeking.”

Advertising opportunities begin as low as $1000, and scale all the way up  $50K primary sponsorship packages.

For more information about getting involved with Hmm Did You Know? Email info@420MEDIA.us; or call (425) 420-0585

‘It Gives What We Do Legitimacy’: Medical Pot Sellers Push For Regulation

WASHINGTON: KUOW’S Ross Reynolds talks with John Davis, owner of the Northwest Patient Resource Center, about why we wants medical marijuana to be regulated by the state. Davis is also executive director of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics, a cannabis industry group.

CCSE Hosts Banking, Taxes & 280E Industry Panel On July 24th

WASHINGTON: Federal tax code 280E is the single largest hurdle for any entrepreneur attempting to create a sustainable Cannabis business. Although the sale of marijuana is legal in several states, it remains illegal under federal law, and Revenue Code 280E bans most deductions and tax credits given to businesses selling Schedule I and II controlled substances, which includes marijuana.Under current tax law, Section 280E allows marijuana businesses to deduct only their cost of goods sold  all other normal and ordinary business expenses are rejected by the IRS, including marketing, training, transportation, etc. So where does this leave you, as a legitimate business owner? Is it possible to succeed under these restrictions? The answer is yes, but it requires education and creativity.

The Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics (CCSE), a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, will be hosting a panel discussion on financial issues affecting the Washington cannabis industry on Thursday, July 24th from 5:30pm – 7:30pm, followed by a one-hour mixer.  The panel will be held at the Armory Loft #3, inside the Center House at the Seattle Center.The panel includes some of the brightest minds tackling the 280E issue today in order to help you succeed and gain the knowledge required to overcome this daunting obstacle in the Cannabis industry. The discussion will focus on 280e and inventory accounting, best practices for managing the finances of a cannabis business, as well as access to banking. It will be sure to be a very interesting and lively discussion!Members of the panel include:

Dean Guske, CPA

Dean has over 26 years experience in the areas of taxation, accounting, and business consultation.  In addition, he has become the leading expert in Washington state regarding the proper filing of tax returns for the cannabis industry.  He regularly speaks to CPAs and industry leaders regarding IRC 280e and its impact on federal tax returns.

John Davis
John is the CEO of Northwest Patient Resource Center, serves as the Executive Director of the CCSE, and is also on the Board of Directors of both Seattle Hempfest and the National Cannabis Industry Association.  John is a longtime entrepreneur and drug policy activist.

Carmella Houston
Carmella is the Vice President of Business Services at Salal Credit Union, which is currently beta testing with licensed I-502 businesses in Western Washington.  Carmella started the Business Banking division at Salal CU three years ago.  Carmella has more than 20 years of banking experience including: regulatory oversight, commercial real estate lending, construction and business lending.

Todd Arkley, CPA (moderator)
Todd started Arkley Accounting Group in order to focus on small businesses and the cannabis industry.  He has over 13 years experience in private industry, in roles ranging from controller to CFO.  His current clients include both medical and 502-licensed businesses, as well as ancillary businesses supporting the cannabis industry.  Todd currently serves as Treasurer on the CCSE Board of Directors.

Marijuana Banking: Secretive But Poised To Grow

WASHINGTON: Many marijuana business owners say they have bank accounts, but aren’t completely forthright with their bankers about the nature of their businesses. They claim to be in “consulting” or “medical research.”  And they know they could lose those bank accounts suddenly, at any time, since federal law prohibits banks from holding any funds associated with illegal drugs.

Now in the wake of Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in Washington state, some banks and credit unions may be ready to officially open accounts for marijuana businesses. Numerica, a Spokane Valley-based credit union, has announced it will accept state-licensed businesses as clients.

Seattle attorney Robert McVay with the Canna Law Group said there are more to come.

“Small banks, especially the community banks, are certainly looking into it if only because it’s a new industry and whoever takes that first plunge, whoever takes the risk, is going to get lots and lots and lots of business,” McVay said. “We’re working with a couple financial institutions here in the state that are likely going to do this.”

Seattle Hempfest Enters New Era

WASHINGTON: Seattle’s 22nd Annual Hempfest is scheduled to begin Friday, August 16, 2013, in Myrtle Edwards park near Belltown. And times have changed. Initiative 502 has legalized recreational marijuana in Washington, but Hempfest founders say as long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, their festival will still matter. [Read more…]

Festive Crowd Gathers to Celebrate 10th Anniversary of Olympia Hempfest

WASHINGTON: Mellow was the mood as the dedicated followers of cannabis converged onto Heritage Park — a modest chunk of field in the shadows of the gilded dome of the Washington State Capital building — for the first day of the 10th Anniversary of  Olympia Hempfest.

There will be many cannabis celebrations happening this summer, but it is important to remember that Olympia Hempfest was the first such event when it debuted a decade ago.  These days, however, Olympia Hempfest is overshadowed by Seattle Hempfest — an hour north and three weeks away. While the Seattle festival expects to attract upwards of 100,000 attendees, a mere 2,500 will stop by Heritage Park this weekend. [Read more…]