Berkeley California Fights the Black Market

Berkeley California Fights the Black Market

Berkeley is Tired of the Black Market

Thousands of people purchase cannabis regularly in California. Residents, tourists, and visitors contribute billions of dollars to California’s economy, but that is not enough for one city in particular. The city of Berkeley, California decided to take action against the cannabis black market.
Berkeley city officials decided the best way to compete is to cut taxes on marijuana in half. But it isn’t greed motivating the price cutting, it’s a fear of the black market. Since price is a main factor in why people choose unlicensed distributors, that is where they are going to make a stand.
Berkeley officials see that there is much more to be gained financially if they have better control over the marijuana market. But too many taxes put on cannabis may ruin the legal weed industry. So to combat that possibility they lowered the overall cost to consumers by giving them a tax break.

Marijuana is an Expensive Product

The cannabis industry is an expensive market to get into. Businesses spend thousands on overpriced licensing fees and almost everything is out of pocket. Marijuana is federally illegal as a schedule I drug, so banks won’t take the money. Current outrageous business expenses make it hard them to compete with the cannabis black market. The cannabis black market is a fierce competitor.
At the moment, Berkeley is the only city in California to try to directly take on the underground marijuana market. They feel that if left unchecked, underground distributors will continue to grow. So they chose to combat these distributors where it counts the most to people: in the wallet.
The city of Berkeley, CA did themselves a huge favor when they dropped cannabis taxes from 10% to 5%. The tax drop might be the edge they need to compete with underground cannabis. The black market doesn’t have the plethora of fees and costs associated with doing things the “right way”. But when people are caught in a black market operation that deals with federally illegal substances, the fines and arrests are nothing to scoff at.

For the Love of Raids

Despite state laws, the feds still randomly raid cannabis businesses. The feds also take the weed, money and anything else they see of value and destroy pretty much everything else. They also close down their businesses causing the owners more financial devastation.
In 2017 alone, Sacramento shut down hundreds of illegal operations. Within a 60-day-period the city issued $6.8 billion in fines. They collected $25,000 within days and continue to collect more.
When legitimate cannabis businesses shut down, the black market gets more opportunities to compete. If cannabis consumers don’t have a place to safely purchase weed then they’ll likely to get it from somewhere else.

What are your thoughts about Berkley’s choice to decreasing their city tax on Cannabis? Is it a good move or are they losing money by cutting taxes? Is the fight against the cannabis black market a losing battle? Let us know in the comment section below.

Featured image: GettyImages


Prop 64 Starts Rolling Recreationally

Prop 64 is getting recreational weed rolling.

Also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), Prop 64 passed with a wide, 57-43% margin in November 2016. There were nearly 8 million people who voted to legalize marijuana but there were still close to six million voters who liked the status quo. A big part of the broad support for legal weed may be from the deep history California has with the plant.
Cities like Mendocino, Orange County, Weed, and San Francisco all have a vibrant horticultural culture. They were also some of the heaviest hit by the AIDS epidemic. Reducing suffering for terminally ill patients was enough motivation for California to allow medical marijuana. This is part of the reason so many popular strains come from the sunshine state.
Granddaddy Purps, SFV OG and countless others have become internationally recognized, California based genetics. An entire region of northern California is known as the Emerald Triangle because of how prevalent weed is. But up until now, only medical cannabis has been legal in California. The new bill marks a new chapter in California’s cannabis legalization legacy.

Prop 64 Updates the California laws in a few ways.;oaded bong

The new law makes possession of up to one ounce of sticky icky or eight grams of concentrates legal. Every adult (21 and over) is also allowed to grow up to six plants each. And prior offenders can file to have their records changed to reflect the new standard. But they don’t stop there.
California has a prison population issue from the harsh mandatory minimums that the War on Drugs brought about. Prop 64 reduces penalties for most cannabis related crimes (like cultivation, transport and sale) from felonies to misdemeanors. But repeat or violent offenders can expect to get some of that prison guard love that made Alcatraz such an attractive destination.
Part of how they distinguish the happy hippie from the dangerous drug dealer is if they have a license. The plan is to have a full regulatory system in place for commercial/personal cultivation and sales by January 2018. Like other states, they will pay for the regulations (and then some) through taxes and fees.

What kind of taxes are we talking about?

Glad you asked! Prop 64 establishes a flat production tax of $9.25/ oz. of flower to start. That means that small operations will earn orders of magnitude less profit than their industrial counterparts. This helps attract investment but also puts huge financial pressure on small and even medium sized operations.
Another tax concession was a new tax on both medical and recreational sales. The state decided to implement a new 15% excise tax for retail sales. This new tax is scheduled to take effect in January of 2018 for both medical and recreational users. To make up for the new tax, California gave resident medical patients with ID an exemption. They don’t have to pay the current 7.25% sales tax. They made the exemption effective immediately which shows how much they care about their medical patients.
Industrial hemp also got some love with the bill. Effective Jan 2017, farmers have been allowed by the state to grow hemp in their fields. Hemp genetics are mostly comprised of several extremely low THC strains of cannabis. This means it can often be high in the non-psychoactive compound CBD. The decision of the DEA to make CBD a schedule 1 drug (and thereby prevent most hemp production) made this inclusion especially important.

Legalization means regulation, not anarchy.Say What

A lot of people confuse the word legalized with the word unregulated. Legalization means that every penny needs to be accounted for and every dot needs to be crossed because someone is watching. You can’t just roll up to a dispensary with a bag full of chronic and expect to walk away with a check. You can expect to get a night stick massage and a new pair of linked bracelets.
Illegal sale, transport, manufacture, cultivation or possession with intent to sell are all big no-no’s. You also can’s smoke or consume in any “public place”, on school grounds or have an open container while driving. Even having a spliff tucked into your beanie while mountain biking down a trail is can get you a DUI or misdemeanor.
If minors are caught in possession, they no longer have to fear imprisonment though. They will get to spend plenty of time in drug education and community service as long as weed is all they get hit for. But if anyone happens to be a three-time offender, they get special treatment that may be more in line with the federal guidelines.

Oh, and none of this applies of federal property.prop 64 no-no zone

The entire state of California (and the entire West Coast from Canada to Mexico to be honest) has started legalizing recreational cannabis. But federal law still Trumps state law most of the time. Anywhere that is considered federal property  is exempt from the new laws. This includes places like the post office, courthouses, parks and military posts. Get caught with weed there and it’s in federal prosecutors hands.
While individual states have taken measures to reduce penalties for cannabis consumption, they still maintain that is a federally illegal Schedule One substance. In any special cases that prosecutors feel justified in, they can choose to pursue federal charges and penalties. And with the new edict from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, federal prosecutors were ordered to seek the most severe punishments possible.
Federal charges are normally only brought forward in large cases where commercial distribution is suspected. This is normally in the hundreds of plants so small growers feel a modicum of safety. But recent political upheavals have shown that America is dominated by increasingly authoritarian and obnoxiously ignorant ideologies. This bill is a step in the right direction and gives Californian’s the opportunity to treat each other with compassion. But as great as this step is, don’t expect it to stop the federal ban hammer on its own. With all the documentation required to get a license, there will be no escape if Attorney General Sessions has his way.


California Passes Sanctuary Bill 1578

What happens now that California passed Bill 1578?

California has taken a major step in ending the War on Drugs. By passing Assembly Bill 1578, California has drawn a line in the sand. While the Justice Department attempts to put a whole new generation of Americans behind bars, California is doing the opposite.
The new legislation basically prevents local and state agencies from assisting federal agencies in prosecuting people that are following state marijuana laws. This despite demands by the Justice Department to renew draconian enforcement of racially biased laws. It’s kinda like California is giving Attorney General Jeff Sessions a big middle finger.
There will almost certainly be a challenge in the courts. ICE and other federal enforcement agencies rely on the ability to offload their work to or acquire intelligence from local agencies. Without those resources, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will have to work harder to destroy hard-working Americans lives.

Who is affected by the change?

Bill 1578 pretty much only people in California are affected right now. But that isn’t guaranteed for long. Depending on how the new law gets handled in the courts, more states may pass similar legislation. Just don’t expect police to go along quietly.
It is possible to challenge the law and get it removed but the likelyhood seems slim. Partly because of the overwhelming support for the measure and partly because of who it protects. City and State workers are already stretched thin and having to do the dirty work for a racially insensitive and politically toxic Justice Department is not something they are excited for.
The new law prohibits law enforcement from “using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person [and/or transfer them to federal authorities] for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by a law in the State of California.”

What does it mean for citizens?Bill 1578 protects businesses

This is one more way to keep people from going to prison. Without the assistance of local authorities, federal prosecutors have to collect their own evidence. It also prevents local and state agencies from having to spend resources on investigating law abiding citizens.
Up till now, business owners, medical patients and commercial growers have all had to watch their back. Federal prosecutors could swoop in and hammer people following the state rules. Even terminally ill patients could be hit with penalties so steep, they might as well have thrown away the key.
Officials warn that police may not be able to uncover wrongdoing as easily once Bill 1578 come online in January. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León responded to the warnings by saying “Our precious local law enforcement resources will be squandered if police are pulled from their duties to arrest otherwise law-abiding maids, busboys, labors, mothers, and fathers,”
He went on to emphasize the cost of not passing this bill. “Trust will be lost. Crimes will go unreported for fear of deportation. Criminals will remain free to victimize others.” Truer words have rarely been spoken.


Insurance Companies to Cover Weed in California

Insurance can be hard to get.

Most Americans know how hard it is to deal with insurance companies. The coverage is confusing and Americans pay more than most other countries for health insurance.But what a growing number of business owners are discovering is that insurance companies can refuse to cover a marijuana business.
Because insurance is tied to federal regulations and oversight, insurance companies are playing a game of hot potato. Nobody wants to be holding the policy when the federal government comes knocking. Most simply refuse to touch the cannabis industry on principal.
“Many insurance companies flat out do not have an appetite for any business related to cannabis,” said Brian Marblestone with the San Carlos brokerage firm Stratton Agency. But one person wants to change the insurance companies tune. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones recognizes the problem and has solutions.

What is Commissioner Jones’ plan?insurance companies tremble

Both consumers and business owners are at risk if there isn’t sufficient coverage. So Jones is holding a series of meetings aimed at educating major carriers. The end goal is to convince them to start insuring the multi billion-dollar cannabis industry.
Jones recognizes that there is a lot of ground to cover but hopes that the shift will happen soon. Regulators want all canna-businesses to carry at least $1 million of liability. They are even planning to deny licenses if the business doesn’t have insurance starting in January.
This is important because only some industries are required by the state to be insured. Banks and landlords can also demand insurance coverage where the state doesn’t. Jones is looking to normalize the requirements across the state so everyone can benefit.

Why demand Insurance Companies change?

Jones has been monitoring availability of insurance to the medical marijuana industry since 2011. During the last six years, he has noticed that cannabis businesses have been getting coverage almost exclusively from the surplus line market.
This includes carriers that are approved but not licensed by the state.  These carriers provide coverage for companies that have been turned down by major insurers. But surplus line policies tend to be more expensive and have stricter requirements than licensed carriers.
“I’m a big believer in competition,” Jones said. “Through competition we get better pricing, better quality and more choice in products.” Part of his plan to entice competition is to offer state support to major carriers entering the market.

Not everyone is on board yet.

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
“Insurance companies are conservative in nature,” said Ian Stewart, an attorney with the firm Wilson Elser in Los Angeles who specializes in cannabis law. “Before entering any new market, they want to have the law of large numbers on their side, meaning they are able to study the trends and loss ratios of the different classes of business in the industry. This way they establish pricing models to rate the business according to the risk while still remaining profitable.
That kind of information simply isn’t available yet so people have had to get creative. Many times, cannabis business owners secure insurance coverage from a willing carrier. The business owner then presents proof of that coverage to their landlord, who hand it off to their own insurance company. Hopefully the efforts by Jones and others will result in better insurance for cannabis businesses.

medica marijana

Sold: Starting a Medical Grow Business

Before starting a medical grow business, you need to do a ton of research.

Federal, state and local laws create a vast web of interconnecting rules that are unique to each medical grow (even if they are in the same city and industry). Navigating this miasma is both arduous and tedious by design but is also vital to remaining in business. The best place to start is with your states official rules.
You can’t simply put some seeds in backyard dirt or throw thousands of dollars around and expect to get anything competitive out of it. And this is a competition. The time, effort and skill needed to get a plant from seed to sale is a skill that can be developed over several years. A skilled hand can take a good strain and make it great while an unskilled grower can kill everything.

But it takes more than growing the dankest buds to survive.

Growing great herb is a prerequisite to a business based around growing weed. But equally important is the ability to manage costs and duplicate results. It doesn’t matter how much you can sell your product for. If it costs more to produce than what you get, it isn’t a viable business.
“Even if you get your costs under control, you still have to worry about duplication. If you can’t produce the same product every time, you have a problem.” Mike Boynton, the master grower for Oregon Imperial farms told me in an interview. “Changing anything in the environment from fan placement to light duration will change how your plants grow and therefore your bottom line.” The more people and the bigger the farm, the harder it is to control costs. If you can’t get it under control with 5 plants, you will never be able to with 5000.

The Marijuana industry is an especially challenging one.

Getting a business off the ground in the weed industry is a lot harder than most other industries. Cannabis is one of the oldest crops known to man and you can bet there are a lot of talented people out there trying to do it better and cheaper than you. Besides having to deal with the standard problems of location and competition, cannabis businesses are heavily regulated and lack traditional support infrastructure like banking services.
Marijuana businesses lack the ability to use banking services because it remains federally illegal. This is not to say that banks refuse drug money. SBC was fined $1.9 billion by the U. S. government for laundering cartel drug money in 2012. Yet the cannabis industry is forced to work on a cash basis regardless of how big the costs.

There are a variety of rules regarding how to grow legally.

With over half of the nation having legal weed in one form or another on a state level, there have been many ideas about what should be allowed. Each state has taken different measures to ensure a safe and effective cannabis industry. Some states require seed to sale tracking and vertical integration while others prohibit delivery or drive-thu services.
In addition to rules and regulations about where and how to provide services, there are also rules around what kind of equipment is needed in order to get a license. This further compounds the complexity with many states have a different set of rules for medical grows and recreational operations. As an example, Washington merged their medical grow and recreational grow rules for a single comprehensive program while Oregon kept them separate.

After all, growing weed isn’t cheap.

Even in places with ideal growing conditions like Northern Cali, Florida or Hawaii, plants still need water, nutrients and protection from pests/diseases. In areas where the weather is too dry or cold, growing indoors becomes a necessity. The cost of equipment pales in comparison to the cost of keeping the growing environment perfect.
In addition to lights; pumps, timers, fans, filters and air conditioners all use electricity. Keeping the juice flowing can be a challenge in itself. Grows with more than one room may even need to have a more powerful line run by the electric company to keep from blowing transformers. All of these little additions add up quickly and can quickly eat up all the potential profit.

A lawyer, an accountant and a lobbyist walk into a grow room.

If you plan to operate a successful company growing a federally illegal substance, you need to have some specific talent on your team. This team needs at least a lawyer, an accountant and a lobbyist to run interference while the head grower does their work. Without someone covering each area, the chance of getting blindsided is astronomical.


Find someone who specializes in canna-based business compliance and criminal cannabis defense. Ask others in your area who they recommend. Don’t forget to check online databases like,, to name a few.


Look for someone with experience in the industry. Overly “creative” accounting can get you in hot water so make sure you can trust them. In addition to searching online for local tax professionals, ask colleagues for referrals. Asking others in your area who they use and why is also a great way to narrow the search for the right accountant.


Look for someone with the time and energy to represent your cause. Their job is to keep an eye on local and statewide changes that pertain to your business. They are also there to help prevent others in the community from effectively banning your business or engaging in sneaky tactics to close you down. There are no lists/registries for this, gotta tap into that network to find the right person..

Head Gardener

Look for someone with botany experience. Many master gardeners hang out in local hydro stores or are at least known by them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be picky. This is the person who will dictate the initial and final quality of the product and choosing the wrong person can have dire consequences.

Skipping the support staff can have dire consequences.medical grow

Many states ban the operation of any marijuana based business (including a medical grow) within a certain radius of schools. But most states don’t ban schools from opening near a marijuana businesses. There is normally nothing explicitly stopping a preschool from opening next to a dispensary or grow location and putting you out of business.
A good team is the difference between closing up shop or staying open for years. It does you no good to spend millions of dollars on a medical grow business just to have a preschool open next door a week later and shut you down. Better to have the staff on hand to stay open and deal with the issue before it gets finalized than not.

You need to find just the right spot.

Besides schools randomly popping up, there is a lot to consider when starting a grow business. The first thing most growers work out is where they plan to grow. Most medical grows are done on a personal consumption scale. If the plan is to make it profitable, it takes a bit more consideration.
Because cannabis remains federally illegal, landlords are almost as hesitant as banks are to work with weed entrepreneurs. Even in the case of a medical grow, it can be almost impossible to get permission to start. In most cases, growers need to own the land/building they plan to operate in or receive written permission from the land owner before getting licensed.

Security is a major concern as well.

Each state has very specific rules on which types of security are needed for a medical grow to remain in compliance. States may require barriers like walls be erected around grow sites. They also might require closed circuit cameras linked to cloud backups but it depends.
Whole sectors of the economy have been dedicated to the outright eradication of cannabis for decades (I’m looking at you Big Prison, Pharma and Tobacco). As cannabis moves from illicit trade to regulated market, there is bound to be pushback from entrenched interests. Even a medical grow can face opposition from local religious or political groups that don’t like cannabis.

The market is growing.landrace 2

More and more people are getting in on the Green Rush and starting to grow cannabis. Like the Gold Rush that sparked westward expansion, the hype and obvious wealth being generated is causing a migration of talent and willpower. Fortunes are waiting to be made by talented and driven individuals willing to put in the work.
In the end, most of the states where weed has been legalized were ballot measures which means they were supported by voters. With the majority of the population clearly supporting cannabis reform, cannabis is primed to continue growing for years to come. Getting a good team will make every other part of the process easier.

Do you agree?

Or do you think I’m off my rocker? What advice would you give to someone just getting started? What do you wish you knew before starting a medical grow? Let us know in the comments down below. We would love to hear your take. And as always, thanks for reading.

cann history

A History of Medical Cannabis Part 2: Modern Cannabis

In Part 1 we talked about ancient cannabis and how it has been used throughout the ages.

Today we are going to talk about modern cannabis and how it moved from prominence as a medicine to a recreational drug. Yet medical cannabis is not relegated to the ancient past. Modern medicine uses the term marijuana instead of the ancient name: cannabis but it means the same thing.
The original name can be traced back to the Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides. He was a roman army doctor from around 40-90AD who traveled widely on campaigns throughout the Roman empire. He wrote the medical text that virtually all others were based on for over a thousand years and had a special entry for both male and female cannabis plants. It wasn’t until the 1930’s when the plant became known a marijuana in an effort to re-brand it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

By 1621, medical marijuana had made its way into the English Mental Health Book.

Cannabis was entered into one of the most popular medicinal textbooks from the era to treat depression. Because of the work of an Irish doctor working for a shipping company during the colonization of the new world, medical cannabis moved to the Americas.
Cannabis treatments were a staple of a professional doctors curriculum up through the industrial revolution.  Before Alaska and Hawaii were states, America had laws on the books that supported medical marijuana in all 48 states. Cannabis was not seen as a recreational drug, it was medicine with little risk of side effects.

But in 1936 all that changed.

Pressure was being placed on the U.S. by the international community to sign the International Treaty on Controlled Substances. While not directly listing cannabis as a controlled substance, the treaty forced all countries that signed to adopt similar drug policies. Propagandists later used the treaty to get cannabis banned across the developed world.
A very popular anti-marijuana campaign burned through the nation. Funded by the government and directed by the talented propagandist Larry Anslinger, “Reefer Madness” was a sensational tale about marijuana. It featured the plant ruining people’s lives through sex, insanity, and horrific acts of violence. Although Reefer Madness was a work of pure fiction,  it was accepted by a whole generation as fact with the tenacity of religious convictions. The influential power of the Reefer Madness propaganda laid the groundwork for Larry Anslinger to get cannabis banned.
Larry Anslinger was a potent propagandist that was able to convince the developed world to outright ban cannabis use, cultivation and distribution. He used a mixed media of propaganda to accomplish this. Anslinger was a master of using media and used the newspapers, radio and television to spread a web of half-truths and outright lies.
After spreading a racially motivated panic with the Reefer Madness propaganda, Anslinger convince the U.S. to pass the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Anslinger provided his political masters a new way to target their political opponents voting base. The politically motivated police force acted quickly on the new laws to target the poor.

The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act brought America Modern Cannabis.

On the day the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act was enacted (Oct. 2, 1937) the FBI and Denver Colorado police raided the Lexington Hotel. They arrested a man named Samuel R. Caldwell for selling modern cannabis. He was a 58 year-old unemployed laborer. Three days later, on Oct. 5, 1937 Caldwell became the first person convicted under U.S. federal law of distributing cannabis.
In 1942, cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopeia. When that happened, cannabis lost the last vestiges of medical legitimacy. Because of the International Treaty on Controlled Substances, most of the other countries in the developed world were forced to enact similar rules.

Over the next decades, criminalization of cannabis continued.

As more and more regulations were heaped on medical practitioners, they became unable to prescribe cannabis. Legal penalties increased massively with the Boggs Act of 1951. It established minimum prison sentences for simple possession of cannabis. Thanks in great part to Anslinger’s work, cannabis was classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance in 1970.
Schedule 1 substances are substances no medical benefit and high risk of abuse. The controlled Substances Act of 1970 Classified Marijuana as a having “No Accepted Medical Use”. After the passing of the Substances Act, medical practitioners were barred from prescribing modern cannabis for any medication, effectively removing the oldest known medicine from a whole generation of healers across the globe.
In 1971, the Shafer Commission was created by the U.S. president to determine the merit of criminalizing cannabis. The Shafer Commission was bi-partisan and overseen by congress. President Nixon himself ordered it to determine “if the personal use of marijuana should be criminalized.” The commission came back with an answer and Nixon ignored it because he didn’t like that they believed there was no reason to scale up action against users.
In 1971 president Nixon chose to aggressively pursue action against cannabis consumers by declaring the War on Drugs. Motivated by personal prejudice political corruption, he saw marijuana as a way to get at his political opponents. He even admitted at the time that his reasons for attacking cannabis users and increasing penalties was motivated by personal directives.

Nixon acknowledged his action was not based on empirical evidence.

He increased criminalization despite the commission he put together telling him officially and unequivocally that cannabis use should not be criminalized. Over the next two years, the Nixon built a force specifically designed to scale up violence against modern cannabis users.
The Department of Drug Enforcement (DEA) was established in 1973 by merging the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNND) and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) into a single agency. It comes as no surprise that the DEA continues to aggressively pursue cannabis consumers, producers and distributors to this day. They use every tool at their disposal regardless of legality or constitutionality to continue the criminalization of marijuana.
Things continued to go downhill for cannabis in the coming years. It wasn’t until 1976 that Robert Randall (who was afflicted by glaucoma) used the Common Law Doctrine of Necessity (US v. Randall) to defend himself against criminal charges of marijuana cultivation. In 1976, federal Judge James Washington made waves with his ruling. Judge Washington ruled that Randall’s use of modern cannabis constituted a ‘medical necessity’ and the case was thrown out.
Modern cannabis 2

The next milestone for modern cannabis crusaders came in the winter of 1991.

Modern cannabis took a step forward with the passing of medical marijuana reform in California. The first medical marijuana initiative was called Proposition P and was in San Francisco. It passed with an overwhelming 79% of the vote in November of 1991.
Proposition P called on the State of California and the California Medical Association to restore hemp medical to the list of available medicines in California, and to stop penalizing physicians for prescribing hemp for medical purposes. It only effected San Francisco but the cogs of bureaucracy had been activated. It would take another 5 years for legislation to go statewide.
Voters in California passed the first statewide medical marijuana initiative on November 5, 1996. Known as Proposition 215, it permitted patients and their primary caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for the treatment of AIDS, cancer, muscle spasms, migraines, and several other disorders. It also protected doctors from state sponsored punishment if they recommended marijuana to their patients.

The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly.

In September of 1998, the House of Representatives debated a resolution called H.J.Res. 117. They passed H.J.Res 117 at the same time Oregon, Washington and Alaska provided their medical marijuana programs. In H.J.Res. 117, Congress declared support for the existing federal drug approval process.
They decide not to reschedule marijuana despite the overwhelming evidence coming forth that it should be decriminalized. While cannabis is classified as having no medical benefit, the United States Department of Health and Human Services) currently holds a patent on medical cannabis.
Patent No. 6630507 covers the use of cannabinoids for treating a wide range of diseases and was submitted to the patent office in 1999. The Department of Health and Human Services was awarded the patent in 2003. Yet the Department of Health is not the only regulatory agency that has chosen to abandon science, compassion and reason.
Modern Cannabis

In 2002, the FDA decided how to use modern cannabis in a study.

They decided that shipping 300 pre-rolled joints to patients in metal canisters was the best way to judge modern cannabis. The material was frequently two or more years old upon receipt by patients and a close inspection of the contents of NIDA-supplied cannabis cigarettes revealed them to be a crude mixture of leaf with abundant stem and seeds.
The study concluded that “cannabis smoking, even of a crude, low-grade product, provides effective symptomatic relief of pain, muscle spasms, and intraocular pressure elevations…” and that “clinical cannabis patients are able to reduce or eliminate other prescription medicines and their accompanying side effects.” The FDA report was ignored by those in power and cannabis remained a schedule 1 controlled substance despite the undeniable evidence.
The DEA has still not reclassified cannabis. It remains a holistic herb used throughout time as a medicine that current U.S. legislators are violently opposed to. While international progress has been made with the UK rescheduling cannabis to Class B and the Netherlands also making great strides in medicinal research, the U.S. still struggles to come into the light. Use of scientific reasoning is about to get even harder for the U.S. government as President Trump decides who will take the reigns of power. Yet his choice of Jim O’Neill to head the FDA (who openly supports cannabis legalization) gives modern cannabis hope for the future. Only time will tell. Thanks for reading.
Featured image: shutterstock

weedr r

A Legal Retail Cannabis Market in California Could Offer Many Benefits

When it comes to cannabis legalization in the U.S., California is where it all began back in 1995 when they became the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal uses. The retail/recreational legalization of cannabis has been a hot topic in the state of California ever since. While there have been many initiatives over the years calling for the legalization of adult recreational cannabis, this November the citizens of the state will finally have the chance to make it happen.
If voters in the state pass Proposition 64 to legalize an adult retail market, it is estimated that the sales in the first year will exceed 1.6 billion dollars. According to research by The Arc View Group and New Frontier, the combination of retail and medical sales in the state would most likely exceed 6.5 billion dollars by 2020. In 2015 the state’s medical market brought in 2.8 billion dollars in revenue.
According to the Executive Vice President of Industry Analytics for New Frontier, “the adult use market in California will undoubtedly make California the new epicenter in cannabis.” While the legalization of cannabis for adult use in the state would benefit many individuals in California, as well as the state’s economy, it has other benefits to offer as well. California has a significant influence on drug laws in Mexico. It is thought by many, that if California legalizes a retail market, it will also encourage their neighbors to the South to do the same.
While this market could offer many benefits, it will not be implemented without having to overcome several hurdles many of which will have to do with cultivation and regulations. When medical marijuana was legalized in 1995 there was very little government oversight of the program. This lack of oversight and the lack of stringent regulations is said to have led to a significant amount of the legally cultivated product being diverted to the black market and sold illegally. This has led to the “gray cultivation market” making in excess of 9 billion dollars annually.
According to John Kagia, the Executive VP of New Frontier, the state will not only become an epicenter in terms of revenue, it will also become a leader in the innovation throughout the industry. Kagia, as well as other co-authors of the report, believe that Silicon Valley should play an essential role in providing intellectual and technical expertise as well as capital to help progress the industry further than ever before. Many people also feel that if a legal retail cannabis market is introduced in the state, that California will become an epicenter for cannabis research as well as a pioneer in developing organic cultivation standards.

Illegal Grow Ops in Humboldt Being Targeted for Environmental Harm

Illegal Grow Ops in Humboldt Being Targeted for Environmental Harm

We recently released an article about how marijuana arrests are still a significant thing in the state of California. Despite medical marijuana being legal since 1996 and a very lenient regulation system surrounding it, it is not stopping the state or the national forest service from spending money to crack down on marijuana grows. Humboldt County has long been known for the delectable cannabis grown on its land and still to this day it is estimated that over 25% of the local economy stems from marijuana.
USA Today recently rode along with a team hired to go air bound and locate illegal cannabis grows in the area, many of which are located deep inside unpopulated parts of national forests. Many of the illegal grows that they are targeting are causing detrimental harm to the environment through deforestation and dumping fertilizer rich waste into rivers. Unfortunately, the large amounts of unpopulated areas in Humboldt county is a mecca for cultivators.
Due to the very lax and highly unregulated “legal” market in the state, it is hard for law enforcement to truly be able to target illegal grows thus they are starting to utilize environmental laws rather than criminal laws surrounding cannabis to come down on these harmful operations. A lot of the operations that are found in violation of environmental laws are illegal operations with plans to distribute cannabis illegally out of state rather than legally to the California medical marijuana industry.
This is a downside to the fact that prohibition is still highly in effect across the nation. If the prohibition of cannabis were to be eradicated like it should be, people could simply grow at home and essentially over a short period of time it would force out the mass majority of the black market. If people did not have to grow in fear, chances are their methods of cultivation would leave little to no harmful footprint on the environment.
The majority of the grows being targeted in California currently are all about money and they have had a significant negative impact on small family farms that have been thriving in the area for decades which are passionate about the land as well as the art of cultivating high-quality medicine. The Humboldt County government would like to see any illegal growers currently in the area transition into the legal market, however, they know that not all of the cultivators on their land want to thus the continued efforts to flush them out before they do more damage to the environment.
images: usatoday

Thousands of Californians are Being Arrested for Cannabis Each Year

Despite the fact that Californians voted to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 and reduced the consequences of possessing small amounts of marijuana to be a minor nonarrestable infraction back in 2011, there have still been thousands of cannabis-related arrests made in the state in the past 10 years. According to a report released by the Drug Policy Alliance, there were almost a half million marijuana arrests made in the state in the past decade. In 2015 alone there were almost 9,000 felony arrests for cannabis.
In between 2006 and 2015, there were 465,873 cannabis-related arrests in the state including felony and misdemeanor charges. During this period of time, there were roughly 14,000 marijuana felony arrests made each year. Misdemeanor charges related to cannabis averaged at around 70,000 per year between 2006 and 2011 when a joint could land you a charge rather than a ticket. After the changes in 2011, cannabis related misdemeanor arrests dropped significantly to just over 20,000 and in 2015, this number dropped again to just over 17,000 which is something worth celebrating.
Unfortunately, when looking at the statistics surrounding who accounts for the majority of these arrests it is disheartening to see that minorities still make up the majority of the arrests despite the fact that individuals in the Caucasian, African-American, and Latino communities use and sell cannabis at about the same rates. According to the statistics in the report released by the DPA, African Americans are twice as likely to be arrested for a marijuana misdemeanor and 5 times more likely to be arrested for a felony charge than Caucasians. The report also showed that Latinos are 26% more likely to be arrested for a cannabis related felony charge than Caucasians.
Another statistic that is equally disheartening is the fact that as of 2015 individuals under the age of 18 accounted for two-thirds of the misdemeanor marijuana related arrests in the states. This is a substantial increase from 2011 when this demographic only accounted for one-third of misdemeanor marijuana arrests.
Californians are set to vote on retail cannabis legalization this November. If Proposition 64 passes, you can expect to see the number of misdemeanors and felony charges drop significantly as it would legalize many of the activities that individuals are still being arrested for today such as possessing cannabis concentrates, giving ganja to others, and cultivating a few plants for personal use.
Will it fix the racial disparities that are so widely evident throughout California as well as prohibition and legal states? Probably not unfortunately and this is why the war on drugs needs to be ended immediately. Until that happens cannabis will be just one more way they are trying to divide us all.
Image Credit Stock Photo/pow420