Senate OKs Bill Changing Tax Structure Of Marijuana Law

WASHINGTON:  The Senate has passed a bill that removes the excise tax on producers and processors of recreational marijuana and instead imposes the tax only on retail sales.

Senate Bill 6062 passed on a 26-22 vote in the early morning hours of Friday and now heads to the House for consideration. Under the measure, the retail sales tax rate would be 37 percent.

A bulk of the tax would be distributed to the general fund, with the remainder going to an education fund. Of the amount going to the general fund, $6 million would be distributed to local governments.

 

USVI Senator “Positive” Nelson To Meet With Washington Marijuana Business Leaders April 14th @ Green Lion Farms

WASHINGTON: Senator Terrence “Positive” Nelson and a delegation of pro-pot politicians on a fact-finding mission from the U.S. Virgin Islands will be visiting Washington next week and meeting with Washington’s legal cannabis business community leaders, as part of the Senator’s efforts to legalize and implement a Medicinal Marijuana industry in the USVI.

While in Seattle, Senator Nelson will be the guest of honor at a “High Tea” event, presented and hosted at the SODO headquarters of Green Lion Farms, a licensed cannabis producer/processors,  and attended by leading members of Washington’s legal cannabis business community.

“The success of Washington’s Marijuana industry is very commendable and one to be imitated. Recognizing this, a delegation from the U.S. Virgin Islands will be making an exploratory trip, with the sole purpose of meeting with business owners/participants in the industry and government officials, to gather information and discuss the strategies that could assist the USVI in duplicating Washington’s success with the transition of legalizing and implementing this industry,” the Senator told MJ News Network.

The Marijuana Business Association (MJBA)  is a co-sponsor of the prestigious gathering, and MJBA CEO David Rheins has volunteered to act as emcee. High Tea takes place on Tuesday, April 14th, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM (PDT). Tickets are $150 and available via Eventbrite.

Washington Marijuana Grower Suggests New Businesses Start Small

WASHINGTON:  Vendors met at the Oregon Hemp Convention this weekend in Portland. They showed off premium seeds and special insurance policies for pot farms.

Washington reported $64 million in pot sales last year. But some growers at the convention said they’re struggling to stay in business.

There are a few things you should know about Washington marijuana grower Tina Cox. First, she knows agriculture. She used to grow potatoes in Eastern Washington. And second, she can’t smoke marijuana. Cox is allergic.   “Yeah, I can’t breathe or swallow. It’s kind of scary,” she says.

Cox says her first year of growing marijuana has been hard. She’s paid a lot of taxes. She’s worked with so-called master growers who had less experience than they claimed. And at one point she was watering 1,100 plants twice a day by hand.   “I lost horribly because I took on more than I could physically and financially handle,” said Cox.

Diego Pellicer Faces Subpoena, Other Problems In Marijuana Biz

WASHINGTON:  The Top 5 Things You Don’t Want to Say when introducing a new public company might be:

No. 5. We’ve received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney.

No. 4. We’ve only got one real paying customer.

No. 3. We’re not sure when we can actually collect any money from that customer.

No. 2. We’re lending money to keep that customer running.

No. 1. We’re not sure what the U.S. Attorney wants, but in the worst-case scenario, our officers could be imprisoned and our investors hosed.

Diego Pellicer Worldwide, the company that says it’s “developing the world’s first ‘premium’ marijuana brand,” acknowledged those issues last week deep in its first regulatory filing after merging into a public shell company.

Senators Ann Rivers, Jeanne-Kohl Wells Keynote “The Power of Politics” on Wednesday, March 25th in Seattle

WASHINGTON: The legal landscape for marijuana businesses in Washington is about to change radically as a result of new legislation under consideration in Olympia designed to bring the state’s unregulated MMJ system together with its nascent I-502 recreational pot industry. The authors of two leading marijuana bills are veteran women lawmakers – and to sell these changes through to the cannabusiness community – both will be featured speakers at “The Power of Politics,” a gathering of the important female cannabis executives. Organized by the MJBA Women’s Alliance, and sponsored by Eden Labs, Washington Bud Company and Cannabis Basics, the exclusive evening of information, inspiration and activation takes place on Wednesday, March 25th, 6PM at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle.

Republican Senator Ann Rivers, author of the market consolidating SB 5052, and Democratic Senator Jeanne-Kohl-Welles, author of SB 6083 calling for home grow for all adults 21+, will explore how Washington’s medical and recreational laws are changing, and how those changes will impact operators of the state’s cannabis businesses.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that women are poised to lead an industry,” mistress of ceremonies and Washington Bud Company founder Shawn DeNae told MJNN in an exclusive conversation.  “Blame it on the Age of Aquarius, on [Facebook COO]  Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In’ or the female nature of the plant we love! Now is the time the important foundation of legal cannabis is being planned and women are helping guide that conversation.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=210Y9i4uEWc&w=560&h=315]

Joining Senators Kohl-Welles and Rivers, will be Bellingham City Councilwoman Pinky Vargas, Mayor of Sultan Carolyn Eslick and Seattle City Councilwoman Jean Godden, along with the MJBA Women’s Alliance’s cadre of  business leaders, including Cannabis Basic’s founder Ah Warner – who helped to write the HABA bill, which would allow for the legal sale of  “topicals” — salves and lotions made with low-levels of THC, and Joy Beckerman, President at WA State Chapter of the Hemp Industries Association, a leading activist helping to legalize industrial hemp in the state.

“Direct communication with our lawmakers is vital and that is why the MJBA Women’s Alliance chose to have this event now,” DeNae explained. “ We do not have the luxury of decades to become part of each other’s circles of influence.  We need to know our lawmakers and they need to know the pioneering women, the entrepreneurial women and the legacy women of cannabis.  We must build trust so we can cross the bridge to legitimacy in every corner of politics beginning at the local level.”

MJBA Women’s Alliance’s “The Power of Politics” takes place on Wednesday, March 25th at 6PM at the Palace Ballroom in downtown Seattle. Tix are available online via EventBrite: 

IRS Deal Will Refund Fines To Denver Pot Shop That Pays Taxes In Cash

COLORADO:

The Internal Revenue Service has backed away from a policy that penalized an unbanked marijuana business in Denver for paying taxes in cash, but the federal agency will not say if the approach applies industry-wide.

In a settlement with Denver-based Allgreens, a medical-marijuana dispensary that challenged the agency over its policy, the IRS said it would abate future penalties and will refund about $25,000 of fines the business was forced to pay despite having paid its federal employment withholding on time.

IRS rules require businesses to pay employee withholding electronically or face a 10 percent penalty for cash payments. Although the IRS allows for an abeyance in certain circumstances, it disagreed with Allgreens’ position that an inability to get banking services forced it to pay in cash.

Pot Politics And The Power Of The Purse

Politics is the reflex of the business and industrial world.

Emma Goldman

By David Rheins

All of us working in the legal cannabis industry owe a great debt to the selfless sacrifice of the many political activists who came before us.  Generations have stood up, protested, gotten arrested and worse over these many decades in a struggle to end the federal prohibition of our beloved plant.  Without the efforts of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the grassroots efforts of groups like Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and Seattle Hempfest, there would be no legal marijuana industry – medical or recreational – in this country, and certainly no Marijuana Business Association (MJBA).

Today, a second phase of the marijuana reform movement is beginning – one propelled by the massive economic and social power of the fastest growing industry in the country, and driven by a new crop of canna-business leaders who are knitting together the fabric of post-prohibition America faster than anyone could have predicted.

The power of the purse magnified by the resonance of digital and social media is normalizing once verboten cannabis use in America. Pot Smoking Presidents, epileptic children and marijuana moms have all contributed to the process. Yesterday’s radical has adopted new rules and morphed into today’s business pioneer. Reflecting this change, NORML has unveiled a business partnership program, Seattle Hempfest has added its own business summit to this year’s venerated music and free speech festival, and even right-wing business magazine Forbes has launched a pot blog.

Prohibition was always political. Pot smokers were – and in many places remain – outlaws.  Yippie! founder Abbie Hoffman once declared that “Every time I smoke pot it is a revolutionary act.”

It wasn’t until the 1990s that medical cannabis and patient’s rights began carrying the heavy water for the reform movement.  Compassion for dying AIDS patients drove the establishment of those first California MMJ regulations, and today children with seizure disorders and soldiers with PTSD continue to sway public opinion.  With nearly half of the United States having some form of medical marijuana law on the books and poll after poll showing the majority of us favor the legalization of cannabis for medical use, it is clear that some sort of national tipping point has been surpassed.  Just last week, a bi-partisan effort from Senators Cory Booker, Rand Paul and Kirsten Gillibrand to reschedule cannabis at the federal level was introduced to Congress.

Still, MMJ patients represent only a fraction of the Americans who use cannabis, and our prisons and unemployment ranks are filled to overflowing with the economic victims of the failed “War on Drugs,” a disproportionate number of whom are black and brown.

Capitalizing on pot’s refurbished image, voter initiatives in four states have made the production and sale of recreational marijuana legal, and several more including massive California and lucrative Nevada are poised to join them in 2016. It doesn’t take a weatherman to know that Federal Prohibition has blown its course.   With $700 million dollars in cannabis sales in Colorado in 2014; another $100 million in sales to date in Washington – a new chapter in American society is being written, and anyone answering the call to become a participant in the new legal cannabis industry is both a pioneer and a revolutionary.

While here in Washington, laws are being hammered out that seek to bring the state’s unregulated medical marijuana system and I-502 recreational marijuana industry together, a larger war for the hearts and minds of the public at large is being waged in the great marketplace of ideas.  Once our drug laws have been rewritten, the long process of the normalization of cannabis and cannabis users into the fabric of the culture and society begins. Each of us involved in the industry serves as an ambassador and a representative of this brave new world, and as such we must comport ourselves with the highest professional standards.

At the MJBA, we believe that through the establishment of a legitimate, profitable regulated industry – one that generates living-wage jobs, ample tax revenues and renewed economic activity – we can reintegrate disenfranchised citizens back into the mainstream workforce and reinvigorate our local communities.

The Marijuana Business Association serves its membership – licensed producers, processors, retailers and the many professional service companies who support them – by providing the digital and physical environments where our emerging business community can gather to share information, network and explore opportunity.  Members rely upon the MJBA for:

  • Business Intelligence – MJBA’s extensive network of targeted web sites, e-letters, publications and MJ Research programs keep track of a dynamic marketplace
  • Community and Networking  – MJBA monthly meetups and our many professional education seminars, Vendor Fairs and Job Fairs across Washington, Colorado and Oregon, bring together the industry’s leading players
  • Commercial Opportunity  – MJBA members rely on member referrals, lead generation and affinity programs to grow their businesses

The MJBA Women’s Alliance provides a unique platform for industry thought leaders to convene around issues particular to women in cannabis.  Past event speakers have included activists LEAP’s Diane Wattles Goldstein, Ladybud’s Diane Fornbacher, SSDP’s Betty Aldworth, Washington Bud Company’s Shawn DeNae and Cannabis Basics’ Ah Warner.  On March 25th, MJBA Women’s Alliance will host, “The Power of Politics” – an evening of insights on how Washington cannabis laws are changing, who’s changing them, and how you can influence the outcome to benefit your business.

These are exciting times. Scary, uncertain, fluid times.  I would encourage you all as you face these unprecedented pressures to remain positive and focused on working collectively to find solutions that work for all of the community.  As Martin Luther King, Jr once taught us: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Homegrown, Gourmet Pot On The Rise In Mexico

MEXICO:  Once upon a time, Mexican marijuana was the gold standard for U.S. pot smokers. But in the new world of legal markets and gourmet weed, aficionados here are looking to the United States and Europe for the good stuff.

Instead of Acapulco Gold, Mexican smokers want strains like Liberty Haze and Moby Dick — either importing high-potency boutique pot from the United States, or growing it here in secret gardens that use techniques perfected abroad.

It’s a small but growing market in a country where marijuana is largely illegal, unlike the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington that have legalized recreational use, and others where medicinal pot is available.

A text message will bring a Mexico City dealer to the customer’s doorstep with a menu of high-end buds for sale at the swipe of a credit card through a smartphone reader. Hydroponic shops have sprung up that supply equipment to those who want to cultivate potent strains in sophisticated home-grown operations. Some even are setting up pot cooperatives to share costs like high electrical bills and swap what they grow with each other.

OLCC: Don’t Mix Medical And Recreational Rot

OREGON:  In one of its first messages to the Oregon Legislature, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission warned against allowing retail marijuana shops, expected to open in late 2016, to sell from the same locations from which medical marijuana is dispensed.

Medical marijuana in Oregon is unregulated until it reaches the dispensary. Growers do not need licenses the way dispensaries do, and their product is not tracked the way Measure 91 will require marijuana grown for recreational use to be tracked from seed to sale.

“Medical production by growers for cardholders, and ‘card stacking’ practices, produces an excess of product, not all of which is delivered to patients,” OLCC Chairman Rob Patridge wrote March 3 to leaders in the Oregon House and Senate. “There is debate about how much of the remainder of medical product is being shared with individuals and dispensaries, exported, lost, destroyed or simply sold illegally. The fact that there is a debate is evidence that the system cannot meet federal guidelines.”

Government authorities assume that some portion of the marijuana grown for medicinal purposes leaks onto the black market; for that reason, an unregulated system could not exist alongside a regulated system for recreational marijuana, said Tom Towslee, interim communications director for the OLCC recreational marijuana program. The Oregon Health Authority has jurisdiction over medical marijuana. Discussion at the state level already includes the possibility of bringing medical and recreational marijuana together under the OLCC, Towslee said.

Marijuana Grower In Southeastern Illinois Posts Jobs

ILLINOIS:  A medical marijuana cultivation center in southeastern Illinois has posted an employment application online and plans to participate in a job fair.

Barb Youngs of Ataraxia says the company initially will hire up to 30 employees to staff a planned 50,000-square-foot facility in Albion. It already has received more than 100 employment inquiries.

The company expects to provide training in Denver for some workers. Its website lists positions including growers, a trim technician and a supervisor of harvest quality. The job fair is scheduled April 1 at Frontier Community College in Fairfield.