Tags Posts tagged with "California"


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This past Friday, the Bureau of Marijuana Control, the regulatory body overseeing California’s cannabis industry, released a set of proposed regulations for the lab testing market. The regulations are somewhat comprehensive, covering sampling, licensing, pesticide testing, microbiological contaminants, residual solvents, water activity and much more.

Formerly named the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation under the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs, the Bureau of Marijuana Control is tasked with overseeing the development, implementation, and enforcement of the regulations for the state’s cannabis industry. In their statement of reasons for the lab testing regulations, the bureau says they are designed with public health and safety at top of mind. At first glance, much of these laboratory rules seem loosely modeled off of Colorado and Oregon’s already implemented testing regulations.

The regulations lay out requirements for testing cannabis products prior to bringing them to market. That includes testing for residual solvents and processing chemicals, microbiological contaminants, mycotoxins, foreign materials, heavy metals, pesticides, homogeneity as well as potency in quantifying cannabinoids.

The microbiological impurities section lays out some testing requirements designed to prevent food-borne illness. Labs are required to test for E. coli, Salmonella and multiple species of the pathogenic Aspergillus. If a lab detects any of those contaminants, that batch of cannabis or cannabis products would then fail the test and could not be sold to consumers. A lab must report all of that information on a certificate of analysis, according to the text of the regulations.

The proposed regulations stipulate requirements for sampling, including requiring labs to develop sampling plans with standard operating procedures (SOPs) and requiring a lab-approved sampler to follow chain-of-custody protocols. The rules also propose requiring SOPs for analytical methodology. That includes some method development parameters like the list of analytes and applicable matrices. It also says all testing methods need to be validated and labs need to incorporate guidelines from the FDA’s Bacterial Analytical Manual, the U.S. Pharmacopeia and AOAC’s Official Methods of Analysis for Contaminant Testing, or other scientifically valid testing methodology.

Labs will be required to be ISO 17025-accredited in order to perform routine cannabis testing. Laboratories also need to participate in proficiency testing (PT) program “provided by an ISO 17043 accredited proficiency test provider.” If a laboratory fails to participate in the PT program or fails to pass to receive a passing grade, that lab may be subject to disciplinary action against the lab’s license. Labs need to have corrective action plans in place if they fail to get a passing grade for any portion of the PT program.

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Along with declining prices and impending government regulation, much of the conversation amongst northern California’s outdoor marijuana farmers this past fall was troubled by sexual assault and human trafficking.

This past September, just as outsiders were undertaking the yearly journey to the Emerald Triangle in search of the seasonal, well-paid, all-cash work of harvesting and trimming that year’s crop—“trimmigrant” season, as it’s commonly identified as—the Bay Area-based Center for Investigative Reporting issued a troubling warning:

Trimmigrants, lured by a laid-back environment and the potential to make $200 or more per day, were encountering a widespread sexual violence.

For a long period of time, there have been stories of women being raped or attacked while working on remote marijuana grow sites on isolated hilltops, which is a great distance away from any kind of law enforcement—with the perpetrators rarely meeting justice of any kind. These stories, in reference to the Reveal investigation, were true. “I’m just so tired,” Maryann Hayes Mariani, a coordinator for the North Coast Rape Crisis Team, told reporter Shoshana Walter, “of pretending like it’s not happening here.”

A married couple Amber and Casey O’Neill who farm organic produce as well as dispensary-grade marijuana on a ridgetop plot in Mendocino County they call Happy Day Farms. Like almost everyone else he knows, Casey read and discussed CIR’s report with a mixture of sadness, disgust—and resignation.

The marijuana industry has more than a few dark secrets, and this—abuse of the seasonal workers—is one of them.

“There’s a lot more bad shit happening than there should be,” O’Neill told Leafly News. One reason why is because “we’ve been totally unable to self-regulate,” he added. “We’ve done a terrible job of it ourselves. We’ve not been able to have hard conversations about land use and worker treatment.”

However, with marijuana being legal in California for all adults 21 and over, and with the state preparing for a retail cannabis market worth $10 billion, lawmakers in Sacramento are beginning to force the conversation.

Starting on the 1st of January 2018, farmers like the O’Neills who want to get involved in the regulated market must have a license provided by the state. Under a new proposal speeding through the state Assembly—introduced by Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) in response to CIR’s report—all license-holders would need to put at least one employee through a 30-hour-long, state-approved, sexual harassment and workplace-safety training course.

The bill, AB 1700, is backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers, a major national labor union with designs on the legal marijuana industry. UFCW currently organizes workers in retail cannabis shops, most of which are located in the state’s overpopulated coastal cities, yet organized labor has yet to make inroads with the rural outdoor farm community.

Just how big the problem is, and what to do about it, depends on who you ask—and how honest they’re willing to be.

“It’s like spousal abuse,” Casey O’Neill told Leafly News. “People are generally uncomfortable talking about it—and the ones doing it are definitely not talking about it.”

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California is making a powerful effort to gain control of its unruly medical marijuana industry. State regulators released a draft of new regulations this past Friday which is intended to force order on the loosely organized marketplace which was created more than twenty years ago.

The proposal would set the first comprehensive rules and regulations for growing, testing, transporting and selling medical marijuana in the state that is home to 1 in 8 Americans.

This past year registered voters agreed to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults in 2018. The state is faced with the challenging task of trying to govern a vast, emerging cannabis industry with a calculated value of $7 billion.

Similar rules and regulations are currently being created for the recreational marijuana industry. Yet still there are some differences, and a bill in the Legislature backed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown seeks to square the recreational pot law with the rules for medical marijuana.

Hezekiah Allen, president of the California Growers Association, an industry group, called the draft rules “a major step toward a well-regulated cannabis industry.”

However, he added in a statement that “there is still a lot of uncertainty as the Legislature works to better balance” the various proposals.

For medical marijuana users in California, the proposed rules will have no immediate impression. The draft of rules and regulations that are being developed is expected to take months to review and improve. They do not go into effect until Jan. 1 when recreational marijuana use also becomes legal.

The Bureau of Marijuana Control said in a statement that it’s attempting to establish a “coherent regulatory framework for an established industry that has not been comprehensively regulated by the state.”

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Lawmakers in California have taken a page from laws establishing sanctuary cities for immigrants to create a bill aimed at protecting marijuana from a federal restriction. Similar to laws defending undocumented immigrants, the recently introduced Assembly Bill 1578 would bar cooperation by police in the state with federal authorities seeking to bust marijuana growers and sellers operating legally under California law.

The proposed legislation would prohibit state and local agencies from using local money, facilities, or personnel to assist a federal agency to “investigate, detain, report, or arrest” any person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical marijuana activity that is authorized by law in the State of California, and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”

Authorities in California would also be restricted from responding to requests by federal authorities for the personal information of anyone issued state licenses for a marijuana operation. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D), the lead sponsor of the bill, said the measure would protect “one of the greatest businesses” in California amid fears of a crackdown by the Trump administration.

Dale Gieringer, state coordinator of California NORML said, “This is the equivalent of noncooperation on deportation and environmental laws, part of the larger California resistance to federal intrusion.” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association stated, “It really is quite offensive. Legislators want to direct law enforcement how they want us to work.”

The first state to make medical marijuana legal was California, and last year it passed a referendum making recreational marijuana legal as well. Currently, medical marijuana use is legal in 28 states and the nation’s capital. Recreational use is legal in eight states and Washington, D.C. States are now girding for a fight with the feds. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. White House press secretary Sean Spicer has warned of “greater enforcement” on recreational marijuana use. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last year that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

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What will local dispensaries do with the cash once they can sell marijuana legally to any adult? Businesses are going to have to hide it because most of the major banks won’t accept it. In spite of the passing of Proposition 64 the sale of marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so it is mostly a cash-only business.

Concerned about the financial future of California’s growing marijuana industry, state treasurer John Chiang and the 16-member Cannabis Banking Working Group recently met at Oakland City Hall to hear testimony about the industry’s obstacles and find a solution to the state and federal conflict.

Chiang stated, “We hope to find some field within this deep forest where people can have a sense of what the rules and standards are, so they can decide how much risk they want to take on, what practices they choose to engage in.”

Joe DeVries, assistant to Oakland’s city administrator said an all-cash economy is not only dangerous, but stunts the growth of the cannabis industry and is inefficient, causing city governments to lose tax revenue. He said, “This is the only industry that is begging to pay taxes, the only industry that is begging to be regulated. The safer it becomes, the safer for consumers and the better for governments.”

To pay taxes, DeVries stated, “people are coming in with backpacks full of cash. This is not only unsafe but it takes time to count. We have to hire additional staff to sit and count the money. That is what cities will have to deal with” if the state doesn’t make the pot business as legitimate as other industries.

It’s not an entirely new challenge. For years, medical marijuana dispensaries and growers have been forced to use cash to pay their employees, rent, utility bills, taxes, and other expenses putting themselves at great danger. The concern will be magnified once licenses are issued for recreational sales in 2018. California’s marijuana industry is anticipated to bring in an estimated $1 billion in new tax revenue, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Larry Thacker, CEO of Caliva, San Jose’s largest dispensary said, “We can’t take credit cards. We can’t get access to capital. We can’t get credit lines. We can’t normalize our banking relationships. Every bank we talk to doesn’t want to talk to us. I implore you to help us come up with a solution that dramatically lowers the risk to our business.”

Debby Goldsberry of Magnolia Wellness, an Oakland-based medical marijuana dispensary recently said, “I have been kicked out of our finest banks, such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Our local credit union kicked us out.”

Growers face similar problems. Grower Kaiya Bercow, CEO of a Santa Cruz-based farm, which is paid for its product by dispensaries entirely in cash, said, “Banking is a nightmare. We do currently have bank accounts, but the vast majority of our finances are handled in cash. Numerous local and national banks have closed our accounts once they discover we are a cannabis company and are ‘high risk.’ “

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San Diego became the first major urban area in the state to prepare for the recreational marijuana sales allowed under Prop. 64, the cannabis legalization ballot measure approved by voters in November, as reported by The San Diego Union Tribune. It is legal for all adults 21 and over in California to consume, grow, and possess cannabis, but the only places where it can be bought legally are existing medical marijuana dispensaries. Retail pot stores may open as early as January 1, 2018. Cities and counties need to allow dispensaries, and state legislators need to create statewide guidelines for recreational cannabis farming, sales, and testing.

January 1st as the first day of sales is now looking vague, as some state legislators have called for a delay in order to have more time to create guidelines. However, as San Diego’s City Council proved, less than two months is plenty of time to get it done. All 15 of San Diego’s current licensed medical cannabis dispensaries will be allowed to sell recreational marijuana as well, once the state proposals come through, the newspaper reported. Any future dispensaries will also be able to sell to all consumers over the age of 21.

Later this year, the council will deliberate legalizing commercial cannabis farming, distribution, and lab testing. Police had recommended that all of the above be banned “based on concerns about crime and other potential problems.” The basis for those worries was judged and believed to be weak. Particularly weak, considering 62% of San Diego voters approved Prop. 64, and the city could rake in almost $30 million per year in tax revenue. San Diego is the first major city in California to prepare for sales of recreational marijuana, which means the city is ahead of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento in getting ready for pot’s legal future.

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California farms, sells, and consumes billions of dollars worth of cannabis. For more than ten years, medicinal cannabis cardholders have been able to purchase marijuana over the counter in licensed dispensaries, who remit taxes to the state and federal governments. Still, figuring out how to do the same with recreational cannabis retail stores, something four other states have figured out, is turning out to be too complicated for the world’s seventh largest economy.

When a big majority of California voters were in favor of Prop. 64 and legalized recreational cannabis use and growing for adults 21 and over, they also set a date for when retail sales would be able to start, January 1, 2018. Sometime in between that day and Election Day, lawmakers would have to come up with a set of rules. That’s the same time frame legislators in Colorado had to set up the nation’s first legal sale. However, according to legislators in California, including those for whom cannabis is supposed to be a problem, it just is not enough time.

“Being blunt, there is no way the state of California can meet all of the deadlines before we go live on January 1, 2018,” state Senator Mike McGuire told the Sacramento Bee. “We are building the regulatory system for a multibillion dollar industry from scratch.” Even if Colorado, then Washington, then Oregon, and then Alaska had not provided California with a model to follow, the state in 2015 passed regulations for medicinal cannabis. Prop. 64 was specifically modeled after the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in fall 2015. Legislators like McGuire, who represents a cannabis-growing region, and yet opposed Prop. 64, were on the hook for finalizing a host of details before licenses to grow, transport, test, and sell medical marijuana were issued.

And in over a year, they haven’t gotten around to that so they can’t possibly be expected to figure it out in less than a year. This heel-dragging is being seen all across the United States. Legislators in Massachusetts want to set back the start of recreational cannabis sales thereby as much as two years. It is common as lawmakers really have no incentive to delay.

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Co-founder of Vapium, a Canadian marijuana vape-maker states, “If you have a passion, any passion, we need advocates and allies. If you’re a baker, we need bakers. If you’re a lawyer, we need lawyers. Anyone who has empathy for people who need weed, and is driven, is welcome in the marijuana industry. There’s still so much opportunity.” The cannabis industry seems like it’s ready to take off. In 2016, the legal weed market in North America Generated $6.7 billion, up 30% from 2015, Arcview Market Research announced.

Washington DC has passed laws allowing medical cannabis use. Recreational marijuana is currently legal, and has been decriminalized in 13 states. In total, more than 20% of adult Americans have access to marijuana, both recreationally and medically.

Harun was manufacturing robotic toys before she thought about marijuana as a business. She was living in Hong Kong in 2012 and she gained passion when her partner, Vapium co-founder Michael Trzecieski, an engineer, was called into a factory they worked with to assist on an e-cigarette fix. He suggested they switch their business model from toys to e-cigs. “But we’re anti-tobacco. Canadians have had a medical marijuana program since the 1990s. I grew up knowing adults who smoked weed. It’s medically recommended for 200 conditions, and it could help a lot of people who are popping pills right now,” Harun stated.

Harun thinks the developing acceptance of marijuana as therapy makes it even easier to get into the industry. She recommends that anyone who is interested think about applying an existent passion to the developing marijuana market. Harun stated, “Think of a problem you want to solve and the people who suffer from it, even something simple like stress, or menstrual pain, and consider how cannabis could be or is being used to address it.”

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California was already known as a major cannabis producer well before it legalized recreational marijuana in November. The state’s marijuana crop is not only the most profitable product in the nation’s biggest agricultural state, it is much farther ahead of the next most popular crop, according to the Orange County Register. California’s mild climate made Central Valley the breadbasket of the world at one time and provided the United States with fruits and vegetables that grew in very few other places. However, the biggest crop in California’s assorted bounty is currently marijuana.

The Orange County Register places the value of California’s marijuana crop above the top five best agricultural goods combined using data from the State Department of Food and Agriculture: Marijuana at $23.3 billion, Milk at $6.28 billion, Almonds at $5.33 billion, Grapes at $4.95 billion, Cattle/Calves at $3.39 billion, and Lettuce at $2.25 billion. The figure of $23.3 billion for the marijuana crop is almost three times what Arcview Market Research predicted that California’s legal market would be after legalization of recreational marijuana.

According to the California Protected Area Database, the total area of protected land in California is 49 million acres, which is a large amount for the most populous state in the country. This includes 1.3 million acres of state park land and more than 20 million acres of national forest.

California marijuana producers are clearly growing billions of dollars worth of pot in these areas that are not being accounted for by the state’s legal market. However, with most of the marijuana on the U.S. market coming from California, as Alternet pointed out, the phenomenon of growing on protected land won’t stop until people in states like New York and Florida can grow their own.

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In case you missed it this New Years the citizens and tourists got a wonderful welcome when they looked up at Mount Lee in HollyWood, or should we say “HOLLYWEED!” The Iconic Hollywood sign was given a hilarious, yet impactful redesign given that the state of California now has recreational marijuana after a November 8th vote in favor of the law change by its illustrious citizens.

A Vandal, scratch that, a HERO, climbed Mount Lee under the cover of night to change the landmark with some tarps and huge balls to signal that 2017 marks the occasion of “HOLLYWEED.”
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The captured security footage recorded at 3 a.m. Sunday displayed a “lone individual” scaling up the mountain, climbing the sign’s ladders and hanging tarpaulins over the O’s to switch them to E’s, said Sgt. Guy Juneau of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Security Services division.

It could have been a New Year’s Eve prank, Juneau said, or the work of “a thrill seeker.”

The surveillance footage displays a person dressed in an all black outfit, along with tactical-style gear. One of the tarpaulins was decorated with a peace sign, and another with a heart. Because the sign was not damaged, the prank will be investigated as misdemeanor trespassing. The police have currently no suspects.

Some Angelenos joked that the alteration reflected California’s recent vote to legalize recreational marijuana. The New Year’s Day change is far from the first time the Hollywood sign has been edited by artists and pranksters.

The sign was built back in 1923 as an advertisement for a housing development, originally read “Hollywoodland.” Mother Nature became the sign’s first editor, knocking out the H in a violent storm way back in 1949. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce restored the letter but removed the “land” the same year.

On New Year’s Day of 1976, the sign became “HOLLYWeeD” for the first time — this was due to the works of Cal State Northridge student Daniel Finegood, who climbed Mount Lee with $50 worth of curtains. The alteration was his project for an art class assignment on working with scale. Needless to say, he earned an A!

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