OREGON: OLCC Commission Takes Step to Continue Curbside Delivery

Begins Process to Ban Additives in Inhalable Cannabis Products

Commissioners Also Approve Marijuana Licensee Stipulated Settlements

 

OREGON:  At its regular monthly meeting on June 18, 2020, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission moved to extend the ability of licensed marijuana retailers to continue curbside delivery, and took the first step towards adopting rules that would ban non-cannabis additives from inhalable cannabis products.  Commissioners also approved six marijuana violation stipulated settlement agreements.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic the OLCC, in order to promote social distancing required under the Governor’s Executive Orders, approved a temporary rule allowing licensed marijuana retailers to make “curbside delivery” within the immediate vicinity of their licensed (premises) retail store. That temporary rule expires in September 2020 and cannot be extended with another temporary rule.

Because the duration of the pandemic remains unknown, measures aimed at accommodating social distancing requirements and minimizing person-to-person contact remain critical to protecting public health. The proposed rule provides licensed marijuana retailers flexibility in how they can deliver to consumers at their licensed premises.

In the fall of 2019, a number of Oregonians suffered from the outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury (VALI) linked in part to inhalable cannabis products.  As of March, 2020, Oregon had 23 reported cases of VALI, including two fatalities.  VALI has been tentatively linked to additives combined with cannabis oil.

Commission staff are attempting to address consumer product safety concerns by prohibiting all processed non-cannabis additives from being added to inhalable cannabis products. Non-cannabis vaping additives are used in cannabis vaping products for a variety of purposes, including dilution, flavor, and effects.  However, non-cannabis additives are not necessary to make a vape product work with vaping technology.

Although the additives may be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for ingestion, the same cannot be said for their inhalation. There is no regulatory body that evaluates the safety of these ingredients when inhaled, and additive makers do not disclose all of their ingredients due to trade secret concerns.

The Commission also ratified the following violation fines and suspensions based on stipulated settlements (detailed information on specific cases can be found here on the OLCC website):

  • MAHALO in Hillsboro will pay a fine of $3,795 OR serve a 23-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for one violation.

Licensee is: Mahalo, Inc.; Frankie Powell, President/Secretary/Director/Stockholder.

  • PLANE JANE DISPENSARY in Portland will serve a 30-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension OR pay a fine of $3,795 AND serve a seven-day suspension for one violation.

Licensees are: Plane Janes’ LLC; Patricia Wiegele, Member.

  • MYLES MYERS will pay a fine of $750 OR serve a 30-day marijuana worker permit suspension for one violation.

Marijuana Worker Permit #393L5E.

  • GREEN BOX in Portland will pay a fine of $2,640 OR serve a 16-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for two violations.

Licensees are: Green Box, LLC; Adrian Wayman, Member; Robert Wayman, Member.

  • PARADISE FOUND in Portland will pay a fine of $10,230 OR serve a 62-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for two violations.

Licensees are:  JIMO Holdings, LLC; Joseph Cohen, Member; Idan Magal, Member; Arman Daytian, Member/Manager.

  • WINDS OF CHANGE* will surrender its recreational marijuana producer license suspension for eight violations.

Licensees are:  Winds of Change, LLC; James McQuade, Member.

Washington: WSLCB Virtual Listen and Learn Forum: Rules Regarding Tier 1 Producer Licensing, Session #1

WASHINGTON: The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) is hosting two Listen and Learn forums about the current rules regarding marijuana producer licenses, specifically the consideration of revisions and new rule sections that would incrementally expand the plant canopy square footage allowed for licensed Tier 1 producers. This is the first of two planned sessions. Session #1 will cover WAC 314-55-075 Sections 1 through 5. Session #2 will focus on Sections 6 through 11. The full text of WAC 314-55-075 is provided here.

Please join us virtually on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. via WebEx in alignment with guidance and recommendations issued by the Governor’s office.

As you may recall, the Board began to consider revisions to existing producer license rules by initiating a formal rule inquiry on December 18, 2019. The Pre-proposal Statement of Inquiry filed by the Liquor and Cannabis Board may be found here.

The Board has received requests from medical marijuana patients and segments of the industry to increase the availability of Department of Health (DOH) compliant product in licensed retail stores. The Board has also learned that smaller producers are concerned about business sustainability based on canopy space restrictions. Recognizing this, the Board would like to explore the ways that it can support Tier 1 producer business viability. Revisions considered may also include clarifying and technical updates to existing rule within the scope of this topic.

An agenda is attached to help you prepare. Please come prepared to offer feedback and suggestions regarding this rule section.

If you wish to join us virtually, we’d like to offer the following reminders:

  • Virtual participation will be structured to allow one speaker at a time though the hand-raising feature on WebEx.
  • If you experience difficulty with audio or visual elements of virtual participation, please be patient.

Please remember that we are still in the developmental phase of rule-making, and there are not yet any proposed or final rules amendments. To help you prepare for this listen/learn/contribute forum, please review the guidance document prepared for this and future forums.

Questions? Contact Casey Schaufler at casey.schaufler@lcb.wa.gov

To join the WebEx meeting online:

https://watech.webex.com/watech/onstage/g.php?MTID=e1886460dce4a796b28a08402e1a194b6

To join the WebEx meeting via audio conference only:

Toll Free: 1-855-929-3239
Access Code: 133 082 7909

OLCC Commission Approves Marijuana Licensee Stipulated Settlements

OREGON: At its regular monthly meeting on May 28, 2020, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission approved four marijuana violation stipulated settlement agreements:

MANA FARMS * will pay a fine of $2,640 OR serve a 16-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension for two violations.

Licensee is: Mana Holdings, LLC; Gordon Massie, Member; WWM, LLC, Member; Morgan Whitford, Member; Shadow Ray Unltd, LLC, Member; Reuben Ray, Manager/Member; Joint Holdings, LLC, Member; Sean Carriger, Manager/Member.

TKO RESERVES* will pay a fine of $4,950 AND serve a 69 day recreational marijuana producer license suspension, OR pay a fine of $9,900 for two violations.

Licensees are: TKO Holdings, Inc.; Charlie Cassidy, Pres/Dir/Stkhldr; Joanne Beckett, Secretary; Tracy Bouchard, Treas/Dir/Stkhldr; Bruce Beckett, Director/Stkhldr.

TAP RELOOP* will pay a fine of $6,105 OR serve a 37-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension for two violations.

Licensees are: Tap-ReLoop, LLC, Co-Licensee; High Spirit Acres, LLC, Co-Licensee; Patrick Pooler, Member.

AJ’S NIRVANA FARM* will surrender its recreational marijuana producer licenseAND each licensee agrees to accept a letter of reprimand for two violations.

Licensees are: AJ’s Nirvana Farm, LLC; Michael Petrin, Member.

NECTAR in Portland will pay a fine of $3,465 OR serve a 21-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension for one violation.

Licensees are:  Nectar Markets, LLC; Nectar Holdings, Inc., Member; Jeremy Pratt, Pres/Dir/Stkhldr; Jeffrey Johnson, Vice President; Michael Olson, Sec/Treas.

NECTAR* will either serve a 79-day suspension OR pay a fine of $11,880 AND serve a seven-day recreational marijuana wholesaler license suspension for eight violations.

Licensees are:  Nectar Markets, LLC; Nectar Holdings, Inc., Member; Jeremy Pratt, Pres/Dir/Stkhldr; Jeffrey Johnson, Vice President; Michael Olson, Sec/Treas.

NECTAR/APPLEGATE VALLEY (AVO) (#A0F3)* will either pay a fine of $4,950 OR serve a 30-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension for three violations.

Licensees are:  Applegate Valley Organics, LLC; Nectar Holdings, Inc., Managing Member; Jeremy Pratt, Pres/Dir/Stkhldr; Jeffrey Johnson, Vice President; Michael Olson, Sec/Treas.

NECTAR/APPLEGATE VALLEY (AVO) (#E7E2)* will either pay a fine of $8,250 OR serve a 50-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension for five violations.

Licensees are:  Applegate Valley Organics, LLC; Nectar Holdings, Inc., Managing Member; Jeremy Pratt, Pres/Dir/Stkhldr; Jeffrey Johnson, Vice President; Michael Olson, Sec/Treas.

NECTAR/APPLEGATE VALLEY (AVO) (#7A3E)* will either pay a fine of $4,950 OR serve a 30-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension for three violations.

Licensees are:  Applegate Valley Organics, LLC; Nectar Holdings, Inc., Managing Member; Jeremy Pratt, Pres/Dir/Stkhldr; Jeffrey Johnson, Vice President; Michael Olson, Sec/Treas.

NECTAR/APPLEGATE VALLEY (AVO) (#3833)* will either pay a fine of $19,800 OR serve a 120-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension for four violations.

Licensees are:  Applegate Valley Organics, LLC; Nectar Holdings, Inc., Managing Member; Jeremy Pratt, Pres/Dir/Stkhldr; Jeffrey Johnson, Vice President; Michael Olson, Sec/Treas.

NECTAR/APPLEGATE VALLEY (AVO) (#8267)* will either pay a fine of $13,200 OR serve an 80-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension for four violations.

Licensees are: Applegate Valley Organics, LLC; Nectar Holdings, Inc., Managing Member; Jeremy Pratt, Pres/Dir/Stkhldr; Jeffrey Johnson, Vice President; Michael Olson, Sec/Treas.

Ohio Board of Pharmacy Awards Dispensary Certificate Of Operation In Wapakoneta

State_of_Ohio_Board_of_pharmacy_logo2C

OHIO:  The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy today awarded a Dispensary Certificate of Operation to Eagle Dispensaries, located at 502 N. Dixie Hwy., Wapakoneta.

Eagle DispensaryThe interactive map of Dispensaries with Certificates of Operation will be updated within the next 48 business hours.

How ‘Gentleman Farmer’ Mike West Became The Cannabis Industry’s First Man Of Science

By Brandon A. Dorfman
@BADorfman

“I got into the [cannabis] industry because I was trying to grow plants to save my life,” Mike West told me over the phone recently. A farmer, researcher, and entrepreneur, West has an encyclopedic knowledge of cannabis that’s matched only by his passion for helping people.

“Nothing that the government’s going to do is going to prevent sick patients, sick parents from producing medicine for their children,” he continued.

I had asked West if legalization and the subsequent corporatization under the ‘Big Cannabis’ model had taken away from the art of growing, a constant lament of many of the old-school folks from the black market days. An accomplished academician that also considers himself a “gentleman farmer,” West was hesitant to see the issue in anything but shades of grey.

“We’re seeing a ton of technological innovations,” he told me. “Twenty years ago, there was traditional hash, that was about it. Over the last 10 years, we’ve come out with a couple different types of solvents — alcohol, butane, propane…” From there, he rattled off several significant steps forward taken over the past two decades, benefits that can only come from a legalized industry as opposed to a black market.

“Patient access ends up improving, [and] the cost in a lot of the recreational states has significantly decreased,” he said, ultimately making his point.

And West isn’t wrong. Aside from some high-priced craft flower, the benefits of legalization, and, in turn, corporatization, have been enormous. They include price drops as high as 80 percent in some states, making it extremely hard for groups like the cartels to stay in business.

The benefits to a scientist like West are immeasurable.

“[Access] improves, not only to more economical flower but a broader range of herbal supplements and nutraceuticals,” West told me. “And as a scientist, it opens up the door for doing that research that could potentially lead to future pharmaceuticals.”

Newlyweeds Pam Dyer and Mike West

But as much as the scientist in him loves to hear the machines purr, as he told me, the gentleman farmer understands that cannabis, legal or not, has always been about people. As legalization efforts in states like Washington opened the door for business, and really for scientific progress, patient’s rights began to fall to the wayside in many ways.

“I’ve been, pleasantly surprised the way that legalization has had and America being that laboratory of democracy,” West told me, adding in one caveat. “I love to talk about and constantly joke about … two steps forward one step back with when legalization happened.”

His main gripe, though perhaps that’s too stubborn a word to use, has to do with legislative bills that strip patients of their rights to homegrown medical cannabis. As the old-school black market crowd might say, it’s the death of the art of growing — only instead of science winning out; it’s for-profit patient care.

“As part of some of the bills, they took away some patients rights,” explained West, discussing corporate creep in the growing legalization movement. “Now there’s lots of home growers that are exporting illegally. And those are the ones that are getting clamped down on and having lots of people’s houses get raided.”

Despite his years of entrepreneurship — or, perhaps, guided by them — West has always been a patient advocate first. And I could hear that in his voice as we spoke. Even in states where home grows are allowed, patients still run the risk of being harassed by law enforcement, a terrible situation for all involved.

As for my original question, though, had forward progress spelled death for the so-called art of growing cannabis?

Mike West is positive if he’s nothing else.

“It’s something,” he told me, “you got to take the good with the bad.”

“I love the science side of it…”

West first took an interest in cannabis sometime in the late 1990s. With an epileptic sister and other family members suffering from various ailments and illnesses he became what he referred to as a ‘cannabis refugee,’ traveling from Texas to Colorado — in his case not just looking for the plant, but looking to study the plant.

“I ended up seeing a research study looking at treating epilepsy with cannabis,” he told me, speaking of his earnest beginnings that would go on to launch a now 20-plus year career. “[I] tried to go to school to study cannabis, but they didn’t allow us to study cannabis at the time. So we ended up studying kind of a mix of molecular biochemistry and international law, and I ended up focusing on trying to research biofuels.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to studying cannabis, not much has changed today. At one point in our conversation, West mentioned a few universities are now teaching horticultural classes or showing students how to run analytical testing equipment for use in the cannabis industry. Due to federal law, none of them can offer hands-on experience with the plant.

For West, however, the hands-on experience came easy. Whether he was working at dispensaries or hydro shops in college, or even, as he told me, doing a small stint at a law firm helping medical growers become medical collectives, West was always learning.

Mike West Positive Nelson

“My passion — I more than anything consider myself a research scientist,” West said. “Obviously [I] can’t do that research science at universities, currently very few allow any cannabis research. The federal government makes university research hard.”

“I focused on trying to do as much research as I can in the private sector,” he said, reminding me of the path that most people with a science-focus have to take in this industry.

To-date, according to West, he’s built medical labs in around 13 or 14 states, hemp labs in six states, and recreational cannabis labs in four states. He’s currently working with a Canadian company that’s building labs in Kansas, outside of Vancouver, and outside of Toronto — not to mention the fact that they also have some operations going on over in Australia and Europe. Then there are the hemp labs in Oregon, Colorado, and Washington, and the teams he’s training in Kentucky too.

“I love the science side of it,” he told me in the most laid back voice possible.

Since those early days in Colorado as a ‘cannabis refugee,’ Mike West has established himself as one of the preeminent researchers in the cannabis industry. As a researcher, entrepreneur, author, and adviser to numerous companies in the medical, adult use cannabis, hemp farming, extraction, and products industries his bio reads like a crossbreed somewhere between Raphael Mechoulam and Jack Herer.

But he’s never lost his initial drive nor forgotten what turned him to cannabis in the first place.

“Having family members that were medical patients really got me interested in developing products,” West said as we continued our conversation. “Unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult to do that research under the same methodology that’s done with traditional pharmaceutical research.”

When he’s not helping to set up the next great laboratory or medical collective or hemp farm, Mike West is focusing on phytocannabinoids and working with patient-driven studies. Again though, the inability to do research at university labs makes the process difficult for West and the industry at-large.

So, he told me they use workarounds. A lot of that involves bringing university professors, doctors, naturopaths, or herbalist to him. For example, he told me, he’ll hold educational seminars, and bring these specialists into the dispensaries, saying to the patients hey if you have this medical condition these are the products that may or may not work better for you.

It’s a way to collect user surveys; to collect data.

“Being able to collect user surveys, you can start to make those correlations,” he said.

Beyond the issue of university research, West and I discussed the difficulty he and others like him have when it comes to finding an adequate product to use in testing. For those in the academy fortunate enough to work with cannabis, the quality is — well, it’s schwag.

“If you want to do research at the university, you have to get approved by the FDA, by the DEA by NIDA — the National Institute on Drug Abuse,” said West, explaining the harrowingly frustrating process. “NIDA contracts out their cultivation to currently one producer, [the] University of Mississippi and University Mississippi doesn’t have passionate cultivators.”

West told me how his team wanted to use the government schwag for a PTSD trial in Colorado. They obviously wanted to test the product to make sure that they were not providing anything dangerous to the patients first.

Under Colorado’s regulated market, the federal government’s cannabis didn’t pass the test for microbial contaminants.

“We’re seeing this weird juxtaposition where the black market or legal market or medical market is able to produce a higher quality product than the U.S. Government,” West lamented. “[It’s] nothing more than ignorance, in my opinion.”

He continued: “A lot of the universities are forced to take a hurry up and wait approach because they’re forced to wait for the federal government to hurry up and change the laws.”

“…teach them as much as we can.”

A few days or weeks before our conversation, Mike West was sitting in a classroom learning his trade. After 20-plus years in the industry, the one thing he’s learned is that he has much more to learn.

“That’s the real key to success in this industry is learning how to be as efficient as possible and as responsible as possible,” he told me towards the end of our conversation. “And if you can throw in a dash of big corporate social responsibility, ultimately, I think that a lot there’s a ton of opportunities in the cannabis industry for entrepreneurs.”

Which brought us to CANNAVAL, the first educational medical cannabis and hemp conference and expo in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The event, which will be hosted by former senator and now Agriculture Commissioner Positive T.A. Nelson, along with 420MEDIA in association with NT Media Productions looks to be one of the key gatherings of industry professionals this summer. And Mike West is scheduled to speak.

“We organized a tour of a couple of farms and retail shops and processing labs and testing labs so they can the see the steps in the political process that it goes from the time you plant the seed to the time that it goes to the retailer,” West told me, explaining how he first met then-Sen. Nelson. Without the agricultural commissioner, the Virgin Islands may very well not have medical cannabis today. The effort he put in towards helping that law pass was crucial.

“Nelson spent the last couple of years getting that law passed,” said West. “That opens up the Virgin Islands to start allowing the farmers to get licenses to do what they’ve been doing for decades.”

“We want to be able to make sure that the farmers start off on a good foot,” he continued.

Unlike other cannabis events, CANNAVAL is designed to educate and empower. It will give all those who attend, including companies and organizations an exclusive opportunity to network with government officials, entrepreneurs, medical and seasoned professionals in an open and welcoming environment that will cultivate and inspire.

And the guest list is top notch as well, including some of the cannabis industry’s biggest names such as Sierra Riddle. Dan Herer, Adam Dunn, Roz McCarthy, and, of course, Agricultural Commissioner Positive Nelson.

And Mike West.

“I think there’s a dance Friday, Saturday’s the conference, and then Sunday — what’s going to beat a networking day hanging out on the beach and enjoy some of that beautiful Caribbean sun,” West said, clearly excited to be a part of the event.

But for West, he’s going to do what he always does.

“We’re looking at trying to set up a conference,” said West, echoing what Positive Nelson told him. “To educate the consumers, educate potential business people in the Virgin Islands, teach them as much as we can.”

Cannacuisine Comes To The National Restaurant Association Show

ILLINOIS: Cooking with cannabis may be all the rage, but don’t expect infused food to be coming to your favorite bistro any time soon.   According to Robyn Griggs Lawrence, author of The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook—the definitive guide for the newly minted “cannacuisine” movement, cannabis cuisine has gone gourmet, but for now you are going to have to learn to create your favorite pot dishes at home.

Ms. Lawrence will lead a panel discussion on The Art and Science of Cooking with Cannabis” at the National Restaurant Association® NRA Show 2016 in Chicago on Tuesday, May 24, at 1:00 p.m. Joining Robyn will be culinary cannabis superstar The Herbal Chef” Chris Sayegh (www.theherbalchef.com) and Chicago native and cannabis cuisine pioneer Chef Herb Seidel (www.cookwithherb.com).

MJ News Network had the opportunity to ask Ms. Lawrence about her cannacuisine message to mainstream restauranteurs.

MJNN: Does your appearance at the NRA show signal that cannabis cuisine is going mainstream?

RGL: Yes, I believe it does. It shows that chefs from across the country—whether they are able to cook with cannabis yet or not—are preparing for a future in which they can freely explore cannabis as a culinary ingredient.

MJNN: Legal cannabis is the fastest growing industry in America. Will we soon start seeing a trend toward cannabis restaurants? Or will cannabis-infused food be strictly for the home chef? 

RGL: We will see cannabis restaurants down the road, but I predict it will be several years. Public consumption is a hotly debated subject, but for now, home cooking and private dinners are our only options.

MJNN:  What will your message be to the professional chefs and restauranteurs? 

RGL: Cannabis is a superfood and the hottest new ingredient to hit the culinary scene in ages. Chefs and foodies are discovering its remarkable taste profiles and health benefits, but education is key. Cooking with cannabis requires a keen understanding of its unique properties, so we will discuss how to select the finest organic cannabis in a largely unregulated marketplace and teach chefs how to unlock its many benefits while creating delicious gourmet cuisine.

 

How Close Is Too Close? Tacoma City Council Fine Tunes Cannabis Retail Policy

By Aaron Ball

WASHINGTON:  The Tacoma City council formed a study group this week to discuss how best to proceed with ending the moratorium on Legal Cannabis Retail stores within the city limits. 

After considering the testimony of Tacoma residents at the public hearing on April 26, 2016, Tacoma Planning and Development Services manager Brian Boudet presented a final recommendation for the city councils consideration.   The new recommendations are:

Cap on retail stores

  • Cap at 16 (the current state limit)

Buffers

  • 1,000 feet for schools and playgrounds
  • 100 feet for transit centers
  • 500 feet for other sensitive uses

Dispersion

  • 1,000 feet between stores city wide

Medical Endorsement

  • Required of all stores
  • Allowed based on State Standards.

 

Mayor Marilyn Strickland began the session by stating “There are two things we know for sure:  that is there is a strong demand for this product, whether it is recreational or medical, and that it is lucrative.”

The Mayor then went on to say that normally she would lean towards letting the market decide with out a cap, but considering there could be “up to 60 locations operating in the unregulated market” she felt the cap should remain with the option to lift it at anytime in the future.  Everyone was in agreement on capping the retail stores for the time being at 16 citing a need to maintain local control over the market as it develops.

Dispersion was the only issue to cause real debate and is also the issue that could have the most devastating effect on the stores that are waiting on this decision before they open their doors.  The Planning Commission originally recommended that there be no dispersion requirements on retail locations and the staff recommended 500 ft between stores downtown and 1000 ft for stores elsewhere in the city.

Mr. Boudet stated that the recommendation of 1000-ft being presented today was decided upon after considering mixed public opinion about the issue.  Three of the 5 stores that have licenses and locations are awaiting the city councils decision and will  have to find new locations if the dispersion rule were to be enacted.  The irony is that some of these locations were open and operating first under the laws and regulations for their industry at the time.  Council member Marty Campbell commented that “dispersion in retail, what I hear is government sponsored monopoly.” Councilman Campbell admitted that dispersion is a form of regulation used in many instances, but never in a  retail market.

Council member Robert Thom countered by comparing cannabis dispersion to liquor store dispersion saying “this isn’t a new concept.”  He reminded the council of the multitudes of citizens and business owners from the 6th district who requested dispersion rules two years ago.  Council member Joe Lonergan suggested that dispersion would be a viable way to make sure that new stores providing medical cannabis were located further out from major population hubs to better serve patients who had difficulty traveling into the city.

Mayor Strickland responded that many of the people who were worried about legal cannabis 2 years ago “aren’t coming around anymore.”  She suggested that after two years people have realized “it isn’t the big boogie man they thought it would be,” and these businesses “didn’t have  a detrimental effect on my neighborhood.”

Mayor Strickland went on to assure every one that the restrictions and caps will loosen and more businesses will allow to operate, but the priority for her is closing down the illegal stores operating within the city and maintain positive control in the market as it goes through those growing pains.

According to Front Runner Data, since the implementation of Initiative 502 the 9 recreational stores have seen a combined gross revenue of $31,444,926.98 and with an estimated 30 dispensaries being replaced by 7 more stores who knows how far much that can grow.

Mr. Boudet will take these comments and questions back to the Planning Committee and formulate the final draft for the first reading, scheduled May 3, 2016.

 

Spokane City Council Uninterested In Regulating Marijuana Industry Out Of Existence

WASHINGTON: There is no desire among a majority of Spokane city officials to further regulate the sale of marijuana downtown absent data showing it is a problem, City Council President Ben Stuckart said.

“I believe that this whole thing is based on fear, not truth or data,” Stuckart said, referring to Monday’s story that Mike Fagan and Downtown Spokane Partnership President Mark Richard were fielding concerns from religious leaders about pot stores opening in the downtown core.

Stuckart said he wanted to ensure legal marijuana businesses that Spokane would not entertain proposals to regulate them out of existence, including adding buffer zones to churches.

“I’m worried that the marijuana industry is going to get the wrong idea,” the city council president said.

Dr. Rick Freeman: The Big Eco Squeeze

By Dr. Rick Freeman, Exclusive to MJNewsNetwork.com 

COLORADO: The advent of the legal marijuana industry has spawned some scale-up effects. One obvious outcome is that inefficiencies have surfaced as significant liabilities.  Another is that farmers are getting squeezed and are, therefore, compelled to push their agro-ecosystems to maximum short-term productivity.   In this environment, risky and sometimes questionable practices emerge and often result in catastrophe.  The bad press around pesticide abuse is a case in point: in Colorado, this year, agencies have mandated large-scale recalls of edibles, while in Washington, private researchers have identified forbidden pesticides in a variety of products.

This pattern is likely to continue, given the current industry environment, with farmers facing the squeeze from all sides.  The current combination of regulatory structures, low energy prices and low profit margins for farmers almost guarantees a certain level of pesticide abuse, pushing farmers towards over-crowded growing conditions in environments devoid of natural checks on pests and pathogens.

In agricultural ecosystems, most of our pesticide problems follow from management practices that attract pests to vulnerable crops in the first place.  Farmers well know that a dense canopy of luscious, nitrogen-rich cannabis is a giant pest target.  Critters can move happily through the canopy, swinging on webbing, piercing and sucking and having a grand time.  To make matters worse, because these indoor agro-ecosystems are isolated from natural ecosystems, they have no contact with native natural defense systems.   Instead, farmers have to buy, preserve and apply pest-thwarting critters and microbes, which can rack up materials and labor costs.  In many cases – as in an infestation crisis – farmers will deem pesticides to be a more economic choice.

In Washington, the state’s tier system forces over-crowding by mandating area limitations based on canopy area, pushing growers to accommodate as many plants as they can possibly fit.   Under this system, farmers can grow up to 30,000 square feet in a Tier III operation, 10,000 for a T-II and 2,000 for a T-I.  That means that every square foot has premium value and must produce a maximum value.  To add to the fun, spatial limitations encourage  growers to use hydroponic systems – as containers and media are bulky – and hydro spawns pests.  With few other affordable options, pesticide use is an obvious outcome.  In contrast, Colorado marijuana growers are now able to stretch their limbs, since the state has lifted vertical integration provisions that forced most cultivators to grow on-site.  And, having learned from others’s mistakes, Oregon has avoided this pitfall from the beginning.

But, other forces continue to push farmers to crowd too many plants into confined spaces.  In Colorado, where real estate is expensive and square footage is dear, many producers still grow on-site because they are locked into investments from the days of mandated vertical integration.   What’s more, in all states, growers face a tough economic climate, wherein marijuana behaves like a fungible commodity and the price paid to farmers trends ever downward.  Enter cheap fuel, which means cheap electricity, and the compulsion to grow indoors is irresistible.  Equally important, growing indoors is a familiar mode for a large sector of the industry, and farmers do what has proven to work for them.  And, finally, to exasperate the situation, because of federal prohibition, farmers can’t borrow money and buy insurance to buffer their risks.  So, they contain losses with pesticides.

But.  We’re learning.  As consumers continue to step up and demand clean marijuana – and as ecologically-minded farmers emerge and voice their opinions – the political climate will change and regulatory change will follow.  Consumer health and healthy ecosystems are important issues these days, and in the case of marijuana, they are tightly linked.  We’ll live to enjoy clean legal pot.

MJBA Year in Review: 2015

By David Rheins

It is the week between Christmas and New Years, and the end of another whirlwind year for those of us on the front lines of legal cannabis.  Our fledgling industry has grown rapidly over its first two years: hundreds of new companies, thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions in new tax revenues have been created in “the fastest growing industry in America.” 

Team MJBA

Team MJBA

That growth has brought with it new challenges for business pioneers ballsy enough to be part of the first wave.  Financial concerns weigh heaviest, as lack of access to commercial capital is literally starving our industry and its players.  You can see it everywhere – retailers unable to stock sufficient inventory, producer/processors who can’t invest in the proper organization, branding or marketing.  Almost everyone in the industry wears too hats and juggles too many balls, all the result of lack of resources.

For too many canna-businesses, there is more opportunity than bandwidth; more projects than people. More regulations and machinations than most managers can keep up with, and so the result here in Washington State most of the businesses we touch are ending this year feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Profit remains elusive, and when it is generated, federal tax law makes it hard to keep. The so-called Green Rush is not yet minting many Pot Barons.

IFP presents at MJBA Denver

IFP presents at MJBA Denver

Banking. Taxation. Pesticides. Testing. Technology. Compliance. As the industry moves from start up to ramp up mode, the needs of MJBA members are evolving. To better serve those needs, MJBA is expanding and refining our member benefits for 2016.  Here is a bit of what we’ve got planned for the new year:

Information. Community. Opportunity.  The Marijuana Business Association will continue to deliver on our mission: to serve as the leading provider of reliable business intelligence, professional community, and credible opportunity for participants in legal cannabis.  Nominated again for the second year in a row as Dope Magazine’s Cannabis Association of the Year, we have enhanced the value of MJBA membership, while keeping our fees reasonable and our programs accessible. Business membership starts at just $250.

MJBA Women's Alliance Recruitment Poster by Michael Guttsen

MJBA Women’s Alliance Recruitment Poster by Michael Guttsen

MJBA Meetups: We will continue to host regular community-building MJBA Meetups in 2016 across Washington (Bellingham, Seattle, South Sound, Spokane) Oregon, Colorado and New York (we hosted more than 60 Meetups in 2015).  We are tweaking the format for MJBA Meetups in 2016 to provide more in-depth and specialized presentations, seminars and community networking.  MJBA Meetups in 2016 will be members-only events (members have guest privileges), with a small Meetup Fee: $10.  Limited Sponsorship and Vending opportunities are available, and essential for sustaining our grassroots networking efforts. Contact MJBA President Morgan for sponsorship opportunities: morgan@mjba.net.

TwiceBakedinWA speaks to an audience of cannabis entrepreneurs at Portland MJBA Meetup.

TwiceBakedinWA speaks to an audience of cannabis entrepreneurs at Portland MJBA Meetup.

MJBA/Front Runner Seminars:  The best in marketplace data and business intelligence, MJBA Professional Seminars begin with a deep dive into the numbers, courtesy our MJ Research partner Front Runner, powered by TetraTrak.  MJBA and Front Runner enhance the official marketplace data with business intelligence and original insights from industry leaders.  These insights are then disseminated via our MJBA Producer, Processor, Retailer and VIP Panels, featured presentations, and white papers.

Industry Thought Leaders Speak at MJBA/Front Runner Seminars

Industry Thought Leaders Speak at MJBA/Front Runner Seminars

The legal cannabis marketplace has evolved well beyond the bud, and today Edibles, Topicals, Concentrates and Oils represent the fastest-growing segments for Washington’s legal cannabis industry. Our first MJBA Professional Seminar of 2016, “Striking Oil: Concentrates, Edibles and Topicals,” will take place on January 21st, 1-6PM, at the Red Lion in Tacoma, WA, and focus on the non-flower cannabis segment.  Reserve your spot today: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/striking-oil-the-business-of-edibles-topicals-and-concentrates-tickets-20114229201?

Edibles, Topicals and Concentrates are fastest growing segments in WA

Edibles, Topicals and Concentrates are fastest growing segments in WA

MJBA/Canna-Ventures Marketing Course:  Brand building and marketing will be key for those companies looking to create differentiation in an increasingly commoditized marketplace.  MJBA has teamed up with CannaVentures to present a series of interactive branding workshops. The first one will take place on February 11th, 2016.  A limited number of canna-marketers will first complete an interactive tool, results from which will be used to create tailored materials for the brand workshop.

Marijuana Channel One: Our MJChannel One in YouTube s home to our original video content. Wink in Weed, TwicebakedinWA, HigherGroundTV, live MJ Events, canna-business interviews and more.  Subscribe FREE:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDF8neLZdOw&w=560&h=315]

In the coming days, we’ll be announcing some big news, so please stay tuned.  Here are some hints at what’s coming down the pike:

MJBA Women’s Alliance:  Featured in major press outlets like Newsweek, National Geographic, and Marijuana Ventures, The MJBA Women’s Alliance is spinning out as its own organization, with separate membership program and its own proprietary APP.  Stay tuned for details.

MJBA Women's Alliance  featured in Nat Geo

MJBA Women’s Alliance featured in Nat Geo

MJBA.net: We’re busy working on our new Member and Network portal, which will put key industry information, resources and contacts at your fingertip. Watch for our re-launch in Q1.