OLCC Approves Recreational Marijuana License Stipulated Settlements

Receives updates on Portland’s Cannabis Equity program, Voter-approved ballot measures

OREGON:  At its regular monthly meeting on November 19, 2020, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission approved eight recreational marijuana license stipulated settlements. Additionally, the City of Portland’s Cannabis Policy Oversight Team (CPOT) provided the Commission with an update on the Portland Cannabis Program.

CPOT reviewed its efforts to make equity the center of all decision-making efforts related to cannabis regulation, including ensuring that patients should have access to cannabis for medicinal purposes. CPOT is also reworking its cannabis grant program to focus on distributed funding to BIPOC recipients.

OLCC staff provided assessments of how two ballot measures approved by Oregon voters earlier this month could impact the agency.

Measure 109, which establishes a program for the therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms directs the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to enter into an agreement with the OLCC to use the state’s Cannabis Tracking System (CTS) to prevent psilocybin diversion from therapy program. OLCC has initiated conversations with its CTS vendor the OLCC has deferred further action, until OHA currently busy with pandemic can begin implementing the program.

One provision of Measure 110 reclassifies some drug convictions which will impact the evaluation process of OLCC licensee and permitee applicants. Currently the OLCC rarely makes a license or permit decision based solely on drug convictions, but there are differences between the OLCC’s alcohol and recreational marijuana licensing and permitting criteria that will now be reconciled; this might require the OLCC to enter into rulemaking.

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):

LA MOTA (#28CC) in Portland will serve an 18-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension OR pay a fine of $2,970 fine for two violations.

Licensee is: La Mota, LLC, Co-Licensee; Aaron Mitchell, Member; Rosa Cazares, Co-Licensee.

VIBRANT HIGHS will surrender its marijuana processor license suspension for one violation.

Licensees are: OGX, LLC; Paul Luttrell, Member; Jonathan Showker, Member; Kathy Cook, Member.

 LA MOTA FRONT AVE in Portland will serve a nine-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension OR pay a fine of $1,485 fine for one violation.

Licensees are: La Mota Front Ave, LLC, Co-Licensee; Aaron Mitchell, Member; Rosa Cazares, Co-Licensee.

EVIO LABS MEDFORD in Medford will surrender its recreational marijuana laboratory license suspension for four violations.

Licensees are: Smith Scientific Industries, Inc.; Anthony Smith, President/Director/Stockholder; William Waldrop, Secretary/Director; EVIO, Inc., Stockholder; Lori Glauser, Director/Stockholder; William Waldrop, Director/Stockholder.

MR NICE GUY RETAIL in Corvallis will serve a 10-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension OR pay a fine of $3,630 fine for two violations.

Licensees are: MNG Holdings, LLC; Michael NG, Member; Patrick Martin, Member.

MR NICE GUY RETAIL in Salem will pay a fine of $280 for one recreational marijuana retailer license violation.

Licensees are: MNG Holdings, LLC; Michael NG, Member; Patrick Martin, Member.

NECTAR in Salem will serve a seven-day recreational marijuana retailer license suspension OR pay a fine of $1,155 fine for two violations.

Licensees are: Nectar Markets, LLC; Nectar Holdings, Inc., Member; Jeremy Pratt, President/Director/Stockholder; Jeffrey Johnson, Vice-President; Michael Olson, Secretary/Treasurer.

ALBION FARMS will serve an 18-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension OR pay a fine of $2,970 fine for two violations.

Licensees are: MediRec, LLC; Vandaly Industries, Inc., Member; Eric Buckner, President.

North Carolina Task Force For Racial Equity In Criminal Justice Makes Marijuana Recommendations

NORTH CAROLINA:  Attorney General Josh Stein announced that the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, convened by Gov. Roy Cooper and co-chaired by Justice Anita Earls and the attorney general, adopted recommendations related to marijuana today. Those include a recommendation to decriminalize marijuana possession in small amounts and to further study potential legalization of marijuana possession, cultivation, and sale.

“You cannot talk about improving racial equity in our criminal justice system without talking about marijuana,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “White and Black North Carolinians use marijuana at similar rates, yet Black people are disproportionately arrested and sentenced. Additionally, it is time for North Carolina to start having real conversations about a safe, measured, public health approach to potentially legalizing marijuana.”

“Data made available to the Task Force shows that 63 percent of the more than 10,000 convictions for simple possession of marijuana last year in North Carolina are people of color even though they are only 30 percent of the population and research documents that marijuana use is at roughly equal percentages among Black and white populations,” said Justice Anita Earls. “This recommendation is intended to help alleviate racial disparities in North Carolina’s criminal justice system.”

Marijuana In NC Today

Right now, possession of up to ½ ounce of marijuana is a class 3 misdemeanor, not subject to imprisonment but subject to a fine up to $200. In 2019, there were 31,287 charges and 8,520 convictions for this offense; 61 percent of those convicted were nonwhite.

Possession of more than ½ ounce up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana is a class 1 misdemeanor, subject to up to 45 days imprisonment and a $200 fine. In 2019, there were 3,422 charges and 1,909 convictions for this offense; 70 percent of those convicted were nonwhite.

Today’s recommendations:

  • The Task Force recommends legislation to decriminalize the possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana by making such possession a civil offense and expunge past convictions through an automatic process.
  • The Task Force further recommends that North Carolina convene a Task Force of stakeholders, free from conflict of interest, to study the pros and cons and options for legalization of possession, cultivation and/or sale, including government or not for profit monopoly options. The study should be guided by a public safety, public health, and racial equity framework.
  • Improve drug enforcement data collection and reporting by:
    • Requiring every law enforcement agency to participate fully in the NIBRS system
    • Requiring every law enforcement agency to publish drug enforcement data on its department website in easy searchable fashion, including number of arrests and citations by drug, quantity, race, gender, and reason for search. This may necessitate providing additional resources to law enforcement agencies, especially smaller agencies.
  • Deemphasize (or make the lowest drug law enforcement priority) felony drug possession arrests for trace quantities under .25 grams in non-ABC permitted locations.
  • Deemphasize (or make the lowest drug law enforcement priority) marijuana possession arrests in non-ABC permitted locations.
  • Prosecutors should immediately deprioritize marijuana-related prosecution in non-ABC permitted locations.

Task Force Next Steps

The Task Force will release its full recommendations in a report to Gov. Roy Cooper on Dec. 15, 2020. That date has been extended from Dec. 1 due to difficulty holding meetings and conducting work as a result of the pandemic. To view today’s public meeting, please visit the North Carolina Department of Justice’s YouTube channel. Information on previous recommendations and other Task Force action is available at https://ncdoj.gov/trec/.

WASHINGTON: WSLCB Schedules Social Equity Virtual Meetings

WASHINGTON: The Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) wants to hear from people in communities of color regarding experiences and concerns when it comes to working within the cannabis system.

Please join LCB Member Ollie Garrett and members of the LCB’s executive leadership for a virtual community meeting.

In order to gain a broad perspective that represents the feelings and experiences about the current cannabis system held by those from communities of color, the LCB has scheduled three virtual meetings.

During these meetings, you will be encouraged to share your thoughts, and the LCB will update you on the upcoming work of the Task Force. The LCB will also provide clarification of the roles of the LCB, the Social Equity Task Force, and the Legislature and Governor when it comes to the Social Equity Task Force.

This is your opportunity to:

  • Speak to the LCB about your experience trying to obtain a cannabis license.
  • Learn about the Social Equity Task Force and new cannabis retail licenses.

When and How

The LCB will host three separate virtual meetings, beginning Tuesday evening.

  • Tuesday, September 29, 2020  5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • Monday, October 5, 2020   1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Monday, October 12, 2020   1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Each meeting will cover the same information. It is only necessary to attend one session. Due to health and safety restrictions, these community events will be online only. Register for the meeting that you can attend by clicking the link below, entering the requested information and the password provided.

To learn more and register for any of the events go to lcb.wa.gov/socialequityevents

This Pack Of Weed Will Register You To Vote!

Introducing the Higher Ground Ballot Box

To celebrate National Voter Registration Week (Sept. 22nd – 28th), Higher Ground and Saints Joints has created The Ballot Box. The elegant voter pack contains a QR code that immediately registers voters, a mini version of the Bill of Rights, non-partisan information about voting and elections. It also includes five premium cannabis joints to help fire up voter activity in the democratic process.

“The Ballot Box is a new platform to spark engagement, and register new voters,” notes Higher Ground Editor-in-Chief Michael A. Stusser. “In addition to helping get out the vote in 2020, it will also put folks in a damn good mood till Election Day.”

Higher Ground TV has been using humorous viral videos and parodies to elevate the dialogue on cannabis culture, including Comedians in Cars Smoking Cannabis, and Profiles in Legal Cannabis. Their latest project is a joint effort with Saints Joints, an innovative marijuana company based in Seattle.

Saints Joints is one of the most successful cannabis brands in the country, collaborating with a variety of artists and musicians. Their hard-cased luxury boxes have highlighted artists such as the Bay Area’s Jeremy Fish in their Artist’s Series packs, a Tattoo Art Series featuring Jimbo Phillips , and a Limited Edition Pride Pack with proceeds benefiting Equal Rights organizations. Each specialty box is a limited edition similar to album covers, and creating a rock n’roll collect-‘em-all incentive.

“We see ourselves as leaders not only in the arena of legal cannabis, but as members of the mainstream community,” said Lawrence Perrigo, founder of Saints. “The collaboration with Higher Ground is our latest joint effort to raise awareness, and show how cannabis brands – and consumers – are doing more than getting high. We’re also highly engaged in the democratic process.”

Racial disparities in cannabis are also reflected in the current Black Lives Matter movement. “When we dreamed up this project, we never envisioned the incredible Black Lives Matter movement we are seeing,” notes Perrigo. “But as with so many issues, people of color are more negatively effected by the War on Drugs. Black people are four times more likely to be arrested for possession – even though whites and blacks use cannabis at the similar rates. People voting to make policy change in these areas is more important that ever.”

National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy. First observed in 2012, it has quickly gained momentum ever since. Nearly 3 million voters have registered to vote on the holiday to date. The holiday has been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and the National Association of Election Officials (The Election Center).

“We thought it was important to include the Bill of Rights in our Ballot Box,” said Stusser, “because these individual rights weren’t originally included in the Constitution. Like the legalization of marijuana, the people had to push the government to allow it.” The Bill of Rights, of course, includes the first 10 amendments in the Constitution, including freedom of speech, religion and the press, the right to assemble, States rights, and due process.

Thirty-three states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and another eleven, plus the District of Columbia, have authorized recreational sales and consumption for adults. Thomas Jefferson argued in 1787 for the right to be free from warrantless search and seizures: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” While the Father of the Declaration wasn’t speaking of cannabis legalization at the time, his words ring true for activists supporting the movement.

The Ballot Box includes a special QR code that directs to the Cannabis Voter Project – and immediately registers individuals to vote. Established in 2018 as an initiative from HeadCount, the nonprofit and non-partisan Cannabis Voter Project is focused on educating, registering and turning out voters. HeadCount has registered half a million voters since 2004 at concerts and events. The Ballot Box link includes an easy-to-use online registration page and news to keep voters informed on election deadlines and voting locations.

Higher Ground explores and celebrates the elevated aspects of getting high. Founded during a revolutionary time of economic and spiritual transformation in the legalization movement, the brand documents and chronicles this incredible era in our history, and advocates for the legalization of cannabis (along with civil rights, gay rights, and human rights), and embraces the end of – yet another – prohibition.

Members of the abolitionist press, Higher Ground combines advocacy journalism with a sense of humor to bring the cannabis culture to the masses.


For more information, contact michael@michaelstusser.com

Minority-Focused Cannabis Business Accelerator Accepts Its Inaugural Round Of Applicants

First participants made up exclusively of women, economic empowerment, and minority owned small businesses.

MASSACHUSETTS: Sira Naturals, a Massachusetts-based registered marijuana dispensary (RMD) group, has accepted the inaugural class of applicants into the Sira Accelerator program, its small-business accelerator designed to help entrepreneurs navigate and succeed within the emerging regulated cannabis industry.

From an initial response of more than 400 applicants, three groups were chosen based on the quality of the teams and viability of the products. The three companies include: Healing Tree Edibles, a women-owned producer of craft cannabis infused edibles and pet snacks based on Cape Cod; Hothouse Holyoke, an aspiring craft cannabis cultivator and product manufacturer based in the disproportionately impacted community of Holyoke; and 612 Studios, an Economic Empowerment applicant based in Boston that produces a women’s and couples’ cannabis infused product line.

“We looked at hundreds of inspiring and enthusiastic entrepreneurs during our application process, and these three successful applicants have demonstrated a vision and dedication to their work that is second to none,” said Michael Dundas, president and chief executive officer of Sira Naturals. “Sira Naturals is grateful to have the opportunity to share what we have learned throughout our journey as an organization, and to accelerate these small businesses to enormous success. Many of the other groups that applied showed tremendous potential and we hope to work with many of them in the future.”

“We are very excited about this opportunity and I can’t wait to start working,” said Leah Samura, one member of the husband and wife team that makes up 612 Studios. “As an Economic Empowerment applicant, the barriers to entry in the cannabis industry are extremely high. This program is so unique and valuable in how it can help our company make the transition to the regulated marketplace.”

“When we moved to Massachusetts we deliberately chose Holyoke as our new community,” said Audrey Park, co-founder of Hothouse Holyoke which has applied to the Cannabis Control Commission for Cultivation and Product Manufacturing licenses. “We believe that the cannabis industry has the economic potential to give back to disproportionately impacted communities and we want to be a part of this movement.”

“This is truly a historic moment in the cannabis industry,” said Michelle Bennett, founder of Healing Tree Edibles. “For a small business like mine, the Accelerator offers the potential to reach a much wider market than I could achieve on my own,” she said. Healing Tree currently manufactures cannabidiol-infused pet treats.

The goal of the program is to provide cannabis entrepreneurs an immediate path-forward in product development, slicing through barriers to entry, and accelerating them to profitability. The Sira Accelerator provides access to world-class lab technology, workspace, and executive mentorship. Additionally, each small-business receives an allotment of Sira Naturals-produced cannabinoid substrate, or cannabis oil, that is invaluable to product development, and often the most prohibitive hurdle for these small businesses to overcome.

 

Criminalized To Capitalized: Social Equity Pilot Program Seeks Aspiring Cannabis Business Owners With Past Cannabis Convictions

CALIFORNIA: Largely missing from California’s booming new legal cannabis industry are millions of potential cannabis entrepreneurs systematically criminalized by the war on drugs, according to Los Angeles management consulting firm Seira, which today announced a search for participants in its Pilot Program for Cannabis Social Equity.

Participants in this Pilot Program will receive mentorship, training, and access to business development resources, preparing each cannabis entrepreneur to begin the process of Los Angeles city licensure as early as August, 2018. Funding and licensure are among the most significant obstacles for entrepreneurs affected by cannabis criminalization, according to Seira founders Steven Vasquez and Simone Cimiluca-Radzins.

Survivors of systematic cannabis criminalization are invited to attend a seminar in Mid-City  Los Angeles on July 19, 2018, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, in order to learn if they may qualify for this Pilot Program. Seira is seeking applicants who reside in South Los Angeles, have experienced a cannabis-related criminal conviction, and are considered low-income.

As cannabis legalization sweeps the country and billions of dollars pour into marijuana business, people of color remain shut into prison and shut out of wealth. Black Americans are 3.5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for cannabis consumption, though the U.S. Census Bureau finds cannabis consumption rates are nearly identical across racial lines. Meanwhile, Black Americans own only about 1% of the nation’s thousands of legalized storefront marijuana dispensaries, according to a 2016 investigative report by Buzzfeed.

The disproportionate impact of cannabis criminalization on Los Angeles’s low-income and marginalized residents aroused the concern of the Los Angeles City Council, which passed a motion in June of 2017 directing the city to develop a Social Equity Program to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities and address disproportionate impacts of the war on drugs in those communities. Seira’s Social Equity Pilot Program, designed by entrepreneurs within and outside the cannabis industry, will achieve these goals by shepherding entrepreneurs through the entire process of launching their cannabis businesses.