Welcome to the California Cannabis Portal!
The California Cannabis Portal serves as a valuable resource and a one-stop shop for all things related to the state’s effort to regulate the commercial cannabis industry. Please make sure to check back on this website regularly as content is updated daily.
Content updates feature essential information related to the state’s commercial cannabis regulations and guidelines, the licensing application process, and important announcements from the state’s three cannabis licensing authorities and sister agencies. Links to each state agency’s cannabis information are listed towards the bottom of the home page under the “Collaborating State Agencies” section.
Latest News and Press Releases
Notice Regarding State Stay-At-Home Order Issued December 3, 2020
On Thursday, December 3, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a new Stay-at-Home Order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians and to continue facilitating a consistent approach across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order.
Cannabis Advisory Committee To Hold Virtual Meeting
SACRAMENTO – The Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) announced today that the Cannabis Advisory Committee will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.The agenda for the meeting can be found on to the Bureau’s website at the following link.
Bureau Of Cannabis Control Announces New API For License Search Data
SACRAMENTO – The Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) announced today the launch of a new Application Programming Interface (API). The API allows stakeholders to obtain license data that can be integrated into their own software. Users may use the API to.
Bureau Of Cannabis Control Announces Public University Research Grant Funding Recipients
SACRAMENTO – The Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) announced today that it has awarded $29,950,494 in public university research grant funding to universities across California. “The research conducted through these public university grants will provide.Welcome to the California Cannabis Portal! The California Cannabis Portal serves as a valuable resource and a one-stop shop for all things related to the state’s effort to regulate the
Allied Association Blog: Repetitive Motion Injuries and the Importance of Ergonomics in the Cannabis Industry
By Alex Hearding, Chief Risk Management Officer, National Cannabis Risk Management Association
Repetitive motion injuries, also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons caused by performing the same motion over and over again. Common repetitive motion injuries are carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013, repetitive motion injuries cases accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases.
These injuries can be mitigated or controlled through ergonomics. Ergonomics is defined as: “The scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.” Or more simply put: ‘Fitting the job to the person.’ The goal is to eliminate discomfort and risk of injury due to work. Ergonomics can prevent or reduce work-related MSDs and increase work efficiency.
Every industry and business has tasks that require repetitive motion, the cannabis industry and businesses are no exception. Cannabis operations have some motions and tasks that are similar to many industries, like lifting heavy objects, computer work, and standing for long periods of time. Cannabis operations also have some motions and tasks that are similar to other agricultural operations like pruning and harvesting.
But there is a task and motion in the cannabis industry that is uniquely its own: trimming. There are many different methods to marijuana trimming, including: pre-harvest trimming and pruning, wet trimming, dry trimming, and machine trimming. All trimming methods have the same goal: to manicure the flower (or bud) to its final product ready for the customer or patient. The process is a tedious one where the trimmer removes the leaves of the marijuana flower with scissors while leaving the calyx and resin (the good parts of the bud). The quality of smoke, vapor, and ultimately the consumer’s experience is affected by the quality of the trim job.
Traditionally, most marijuana trimming has been done seasonally around the harvest season. Most cannabis grown outdoors is harvested around October and it is common for cannabis farms to have ‘trim crews’ help them for a couple of months. As medical and adult-use laws expand, so do indoor and greenhouse operations. These operations are capable of ‘perpetual harvests’ meaning they can harvest more often; this has to do with the ability to control light and dark cycles. This means many operations can plan to harvest plants monthly, weekly, or daily if they choose. This has changed the demand for trimmers from largely seasonal you year-round demand, increasing the trimmers’ likelihood of repetitive motion injuries.
There is still a lot of confusion with workers in the industry about their rights. While many states have legalized marijuana, it is still federally illegal. Many workers do not know while it is federally illegal, they still have the same federal worker rights and protections every other U.S. worker has including the rights under the Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1972. Under this law, employers must provide a safe workplace, train employees in the hazards of the workplace, and inform the employees of the rights to report work-related injuries. Cannabis industry workers must also be covered by workers’ compensation if they become injured at work.
The lack of awareness about worker rights has likely led to the under-reporting of these injuries. As awareness of worker rights grows, the reporting workers’ compensation claims of these work-related MSD injuries will likely grow too. Pinnacol, Colorado’s largest workers compensation provider, reported that strains were the most common injury reported by cannabis workers in 2018. This should concern everyone in the industry. Cannabis businesses should heed the warning signs and keep their workers safe by developing their own internal ergonomic processes and practices for their operations.
California is in a unique position as when it comes to cannabis and ergonomics. California is the largest producer of cannabis and has more stringent ergonomic standards. If a California company has more than one employee report a repetitive motion injury, they are required to establish an ergonomic program to reduce repetitive motion injuries. These ergonomic programs require:
- A worksite evaluation
- Control of exposures which have caused the repetitive motion injury
- Training of employees
Additionally e mployers in California are required to have an effective written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), to comply with the California Code of Regulations, title 8, section 3203 . The IIPP must include procedures to identify and correct health and safety hazards in the workplace and provide effective training to all employees so they can perform work safely.
The cannabis industry is still immature and searching for best practices of operations. While many workers and operators in the industry understand the need for ergonomic standards the reality is that ergonomic standards still need to be defined. This has been the goal of the National Cannabis Risk Management Association (NCRMA) and Dr. Chris Hughes with Atlas Performance Technologies, LLC. They have developed four courses to educate the industry on ergonomics, including: Introduction to Cannabis Ergonomics, Lift Like a Pro, Prune Like a Pro, and Trim Like a Pro. These courses are available through the NCRM Academy and can be found online here: https://ncrma.net/ncrmacademy/ These courses are designed for entry level cannabis workers to inform them of their rights, the ergonomic hazards, proper hazard controls, and best practices to stay safe and increase productivity.
Alex Hearding has an educational and professional background as a water and soil scientist and safety professional. He has legally cultivated marijuana as a medical caregiver and as a facility manager in a licensed greenhouse. He has experience starting marijuana businesses including license application, facility design, construction, operational development, and management. He currently provides services including occupational safety & health services and training and risk management for the cannabis industry.
Committee Blog: California Social Consumption Leads the Way
by Debby Goldsberry, Magnolia Wellness
NCIA State Regulations Committee – Social Consumption Subcommittee Co-chair
It was January 28, 2020: It’s a full house at the Berkeley City Council meeting, with comprehensive changes to the city’s marijuana regulations on tonight’s agenda. The biggest issue, with supporters of both sides attending, is the vote to consider legalizing cannabis consumption at specially designated licensed dispensaries.
The proposal to allow smoking, vaporizing, and consumption of edible goods is supported on one side by a phalanx of marijuana advocates and dispensary operators, and on the other side, it’s the city Health Department and Berkeley’s famously NIMBY neighbors. This conflict runs deep; cannabis users want dignified, legal facilities where they can gather and use marijuana, and several dispensary neighbors and the health department want this idea squashed, full stop.
Fact is, people have long gathered together to share cannabis, as shown by an extensive recorded history of use. This spans from ancient Sumerians, who built huts and vaporized cannabis on burning coals inside, to underground marijuana smoke-ins in the 70s and 80s, to now, where cities are licensing legal cannabis consumption facilities for adults.
California is helping lead the United States consumption lounge movement. For example, California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) regulations (Section 5025) explicitly contemplate the possibility of consumption lounges, stating that “this section shall not be interpreted to prohibit cannabis consumption on the premises of a licensed retailer or licensed microbusiness authorized to engage in retail sales,” as long as they are locally licensed and approved.
Already, numerous California cities have created licenses for this, including Oakland , San Francisco , Emeryville, West Hollywood , Palm Springs, and Santa Rosa.
The state law also created Temporary Cannabis Event Licenses , where onsite consumption is allowed at festivals like the High Times Cannabis Cup and the Emerald Cup. Yes, with city or county and state permission, it is possible to throw your cannabis dream event, but there are a limited number of locations in only a handful of places that allow these uses (including my hometown, Oakland). This makes it hard to get these licenses, and the costly and complicated regulations are hard to meet once you have one. Anyone hosting a Temporary Cannabis Event can expect to interact closely with the BCC regulators, who will surely attend to ensure compliance.
Cannabis consumption facilities are nothing new in California. They have long existed, ever since Dennis Peron opened his first dispensary in San Francisco in the early-1990s. His famous location on Market Street was five stories high, literally, as each floor contained tables, couches, and chairs where patrons could hang out and consume cannabis. When the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 passed, collective dispensaries started opening across the state, despite federal illegality and the occasional raid because of it (Dennis was raided by the feds and forced to close in 1998).
I opened my first cannabis consumption lounge at Berkeley Patients Group in 1999, which was long before it was legal to do so. This was under the cover of tolerance provided by Proposition 215; after all, not even dispensaries were actually made legal by this groundbreaking initiative. That didn’t happen until the state legislature passed the aptly named SB 420 in [year], after which most cities grandfathered in their existing cannabis dispensaries. (Not all, though. Some municipalities used this transition as an excuse to ban dispensaries, or to close existing ones, during long periods of regulatory contemplation.) Berkeley allowed onsite consumption until the early 2010s, when the local regulatory processes changed. Hence, the City Council vote tonight to decide the fate of onsite consumption here once again.
Now, I own Magnolia Wellness dispensary in Oakland, where local regulations have allowed cannabis consumption at specifically licensed dispensaries since 2017. Magnolia’s Dab Bar and Vapor Lounge was the first legal consumption lounge in the East Bay. We have café style tables, a gorgeous full, copper top bar, glass dab rigs with e-nails, Vapexhale and Volcano vaporizers, and a variety of tasting events where people can try samples. Unfortunately, Oakland’s dispensary law only allows vaping, edibles, and topicals, limiting smoking to additionally permitted outdoor patios, none of which currently exist. (Full disclosure: I also co-own Hi Fidelity dispensary in Berkeley, too.)
San Francisco, on the other hand, has more than a dozen shops where cannabis smoking, vaping, and edibles consumption are all allowed. SPARC, one of the first lounges in the city, has tasteful tables and chairs right in the main dispensary, where volcano vaporizers can be used onsite. Vapor Room, a few blocks away, is a smaller neighborhood joint, with a handful of seats for people to sit and enjoy smoking or vaping. According to owner Martin Olive, it was a costly HVAC system, at a near six-figure expense, that allowed his facility to host its cannabis smoking patrons. Moe Greens, the latest licensed lounge to open in the city, took four long years to get licensed, but is now a beautiful facility, with cushy booths for smoking and a counter service dab bar with top-of-the-line e-nails and dab rigs for patrons to use.
West Hollywood is the biggest news on the California consumption lounge scene, as the city recently licensed 16 facilities for on-site consumption. Half of these facilities will allow retail sales and consumption, while the others are allowed to sell only single-use items, designed to be consumed café style, while patrons are on-site. This plan has been controversial, though, because in issuing these licenses, the city took permits away from several of the long-existing dispensaries, re-issuing them to new operators. The ensuing lawsuits and legal battles will surely play out through 2020.
There is another big problem in West Hollywood: the state law does not match up with their rather forward-looking ideas for cannabis cafes. For example, cannabis cannot be blended into café food and served on the spot, as the city imagined when creating this law; Cannabis can only be sold pre-packaged and tested, per BCC regulations. Furthermore, state-licensed cannabis businesses are not allowed to sell anything but cannabis products (and a shortlist of branded items like mugs, lighters, and pipes). In other words, they can’t sell non-infused foods or beverages like coffee, soda, or tea (or, since we are talking West Hollywood, kombucha and smoothies).
Until state law changes, the plan is stuck in limbo, with facilities looking for creative workarounds to allow food and beverage service.
So, despite the West Hollywood ordinance passing in late 2018, only one facility has opened there, and even this has hit roadblocks. In fact, they recently re-branded after only a short time in business, from Lowell’s Café to the Cannabis Café, after a regulatory crackdown hit the Lowell’s brand hard. It remains to be seen when the other 15 cannabis lounges will open there.
Back in Berkeley, staff from the Health, Planning, Police and Economic development offices joined forces with the Berkeley Cannabis Commission to present the City Council with a comprehensive plan to update the city’s cannabis ordinance. Diverging opinions meant that the agenda contained competing proposals on several of the ten proposed ordinance changes, with the Cannabis Commission leading efforts to create progressive changes, and the Health Commission stuck on the old trope, “we need more research.”
Elizabeth Greene, City of Berkeley Senior Planner, explained to Council that these proposals have been in development since 2017, with the goal of expanding the rules to protect the entire cannabis supply chain, from seed to sale. This includes development of two new license types, cannabis consumption lounges and non-retail dispensary licenses.
“State law allows for consumption lounges as part of a retail license, as these are the only facilities open to the public,” Greene says. “Currently, consumption lounges are not permitted in the City of Berkeley.” Her presentation made it clear that city staff recommended cannabis lounges be permitted, despite the worries of the Health Commission, whose representative commented that “legalization is new,” despite that cannabis sales have been regulated by the city for around 20 years.
Long time senior advocate, and ICANN dispensary owner, Sue Taylor spoke eloquently in support of the proposal to allow lounges. “Seniors need a place to learn about cannabis, how to use it and dosing, and you could do that in a vape lounge. I can’t go into their homes, but I can provide this education at a lounge,” says Taylor. “It’s not like a bar; at a bar, you just get sicker. A vape lounge helps people.”
Ultimately, the City Council agreed. By 11:30 PM, Mayor Jesse Arreguín called the vote, with the Council unanimously approving the entire proposal. Supporters filled the room with cheers, and long-time advocates like myself reflected on the fact that, yes, hard work and determination do pay off. Together, we may just end prohibition, once and for all — and have some fun, too.
Committee Blog: Interstate Cannabis Commerce Will Benefit Public Safety, Consumer Choice, and Patient Access (Part 2)
By Sean Donahoe, Founder and CEO, Sungrown Developments Inc.
Member of NCIA’s State Regulations Committee
In Northern California’s legendary cannabis growing region of Mendocino, the elected county sheriff was recently a competitor at a homebrew festival, jovially pouring samples of his “Pretty Sour Powerful Sider” (jokingly referring to the “Public Safety Power Shutoffs” recently implemented by the electricity utility PG&E to prevent wildfires.) While this relaxed scene of neighbors bonding in the wake of shared inconveniences was not exceptional in itself, here, Sheriff Allman was posing for selfies with licensed (but possibly a few unlicensed) cannabis cultivators sharing the liquid bounties of harvest for the benefit of a local nonprofit.
For nearly a decade, the elected officials and staff of Mendocino county have worked together to normalize the local cannabis farmers by providing a pathway for medical cannabis cultivation permits, long before the state established a licensing system. This public policy process brought once-outlaw cannabis growers into conformance with every regulation of modern life: from building code standards to streambed alteration regulations to the quantification of gross receipts for tax collection. Bringing regulators onto these farms has curtailed previous practices that may have threatened consumer safety: pesticide and other chemicals are now tracked and regulated, while every gram can now be tracked back to its very plot of origin (in case of a safety recall or other concerns post-harvest.) This has been unquestionably difficult for and disruptive to many heritage and small farmers, but it has also allowed in these regions for simple scenes of social bonding and neighbors trusting neighbors again, as participants in the illicit sector were normalized into first their local county’s community then into a system of state license and next (hopefully soon) into a web of regulated interstate commerce. The process of bringing every farm into the regulated supply chain is far from complete, of course, and there are still illicit operators producing for consumers in urban areas in the state and beyond.
Rather than dwell on the incomplete success of California’s ongoing efforts to bring order to the world’s largest cannabis marketplace, it is essential to focus on the quality of life benefits from every cannabis operation successfully brought over from the traditional market to the regulated sector. Each licensed operation makes for one more safe workplace, one more source for lab-tested products for consumers and patients, and one more farm abiding by environmental regulations while providing stable employment and economic sustainability in rural communities. Under the previous medical cannabis paradigm, while there was certainly an abundance of responsible operators, there was virtually zero guidance from the state on matters of workplace safety, manufacturing standards, or environmental compliance. We are now several years into a robust legislative and administrative rulemaking process that has established a (mostly) clear set of rules of the road for commercial cannabis activities. It has unquestionably been a bumpy road for many of the legacy farmers to comply with new regulatory standards, but we are nonetheless able to say that there are now thousands of well-regulated cannabis farms in California (and southern Oregon) eager to sell their clean and craft quality products in a hopeful system of interstate commerce.
Has every cannabis farm in California transitioned? Of course not, but neither have the illicit cannabis economies been entirely supplanted by adult-use cannabis retailers in Colorado and Washington. Sensible and sustainable cannabis policy reform is a process, not a simple flipping of a switch from “illegal” to “legal,” and Americans should be realistic about the progressive and iterative nature of this process. This process, like most evolutionary processes, has already experienced several inflection points, transformative moments that noticeably shifted public opinion or opened up new frontiers in policy reform. While the earlier era of medical cannabis state laws certainly created a base of public opinion and laws, it was questionably the passage of adult-use ballot measures in Colorado and Washington which brought onto the global stage and accelerated the awareness that adult consumers could buy cannabis in clean, responsible retail locations rather than furtive or even dangerous transactions in the illicit marketplace
Throughout this policy process, we have established that licensed retail options can be scaled without negatively affecting public safety and are highly efficient competitive enterprises, offering consumers ample product selection and low prices. In both Colorado and Washington states (but also in later states) we have seen imbalances for some time as market forces, regulatory factors and new cultivation capacity coming online have all helped to create price fluctuations, product shortages, and other supply disruptions. These disruptions were not unique to these early states and will likely continue in every market as new in-state regulated options come online in fits and starts (but when interstate commerce becomes possible we should expect significant price fluctuations unlike any seen to date.) During these fiscally trying periods, we have often seen cannabis operators attempt to cut corners on compliance to make ends meet, which can lead to compromised consumer safety and public safety. The goals of consumer availability and cost competitiveness should be foremost in the minds of policymakers crafting cannabis policy reform nationwide, most notably in the anticipated markets of the Northeast. As these next anticipated adult-use states are designing the framework of their retail and distribution systems, strong consideration should be taken on the potential benefits of quickly and effectively scaling their programs by incorporating interstate commerce as soon as (politically) possible.
The Interstate Commerce Conversation
As the serious policy conversations about compliant interstate cannabis commerce begin, it is helpful to study how in our proverbial laboratories of democracy we can see that decreasing retail friction and shifting consumers from the illicit marketplace benefits crime reduction efforts and improves overall public safety . We should also note that retail cannabis sales have continued to grow in Colorado and Washington, even after the initial novelty and the surge of tourism waned, while legal sales have supplanted illicit sales. These early-adopting states have created models that are addressing consumer demand as national interest in cannabis for wellness and adult-use purposes are soaring and the cultural normalizing continues to occur on a global scale. Interest is high, consumer demand is real, and evidence shows that our drug reform policies should be crafted to bring every cannabis consumer transaction into the regulated supply chain in order to fulfill the demand while benefiting from increases in public safety. Interstate commerce could provide not only safer products but also a greater variety of quality and highly competitive offerings. For medical patients and wellness-oriented consumers, interstate commerce may be the only viable means of access for certain formulated cannabis products or cultivars, especially in smaller state markets.
In addition to the above benefits, regulated interstate cannabis commerce system could provide a more robust and differentiated production and distribution network combined with the ability to rapidly scale retail sales and address insufficient cultivation capacity in new adult-use markets . Cannabis consumers are price sensitive and illicit market retail options continue to entice consumers in states with functional adult-use programs such as California (or Canada), where there is an insufficient amount of licensed retail options to address total consumer demand. With the beginning of adult-use sales in Illinois and larger adult-use states yet to come, it is frankly a bit difficult to envision how total consumer demand will be able to be fulfilled in any near term by relying on licensed cannabis cultivated in-state alone.
The Safe Vaping Discussion
While moving to allow interstate commerce will best position licensed operators to compete with the prices available to consumers in the illicit sector, moving towards a borderless system of production and distribution will also increase safety and access for patients and consumers. Most prominent is the recent nationwide discussion on vaping and vaping-related issues, where tainted products and resultant injuries have been found in the unregulated, illicit sector (or in a very few instances from licensed but arguably under-regulated sources.) Notably, NCIA’s Policy Council established a Safe Vaping Task Force to work on these issues and has released a more comprehensive document advocating for the expansion of a regulatory approach for the safe manufacturing and distribution of cannabis products, whether vape cartridges or otherwise.
The issue of vaping extends to broader issues of product safety including educational campaigns, quality assurance, and testing programs, supply chain integrity, track and trace, and other reporting systems, and (when all else fails) a capable and sophisticated product safety recall system and these are all necessary components of a well-regulated marketplace. These consumer safety programs have already been carefully designed and stress-tested in Colorado and California and the insights from these systems and those in other states should be incorporated into the crafting of interstate cannabis policy (which will require significant harmonization of Certificates of Analysis and testing standards, packaging and labeling standards, etc., again all of which will benefit patients and consumers by offering greater predictability and reliability of their preferred products.)
In various forums, we have begun to see state regulators liaise with each other and we hope to see more coordination in the future and potentially an earnestness in harmonizing standards where statutorily possible. This multi-state coordination on product safety standards would be accelerated as part of the regulatory coordination efforts that are likely necessary for interstate commerce and, again, consumers and patients will benefit from safer cannabis and cannabis products, and we see NCIA as the critical player in this coming national conversation. In conclusion, moving to a system of regulated interstate cannabis commerce will have tangible benefits for the general public, for consumers and patients and I encourage forward-thinking members of the industry to participate and help manifest a system of interstate cannabis commerce with NCIA, its Allied Associations and other industry groups.
After studying Russian affairs and working as a political consultant, Sean Donahoe co-founded the California Cannabis Industry Association. He served as its Deputy Director through 2014 when he transitioned to consulting for investors and operators, communicating with public stakeholders, serving on local government committees, and advising industry trade groups. He holds an MSc in Government from the London School of Economics and is CEO of Sungrown Developments Inc., an advisory firm and holding company in Oakland, California.
Member Blog: Cross-Pollination Poised to Prompt Litigation in Light of New USDA Hemp Rules
On October 29, 2019, the USDA released regulations establishing a domestic hemp production program, paving the way for hemp cultivation on an industrial scale in 2020. While the potential benefits of a robust hemp industry in California are exciting, large scale industrial hemp cultivation increases the risk of cross-pollination for hemp and cannabis growers, which may significantly impact the value of both crops.
Cannabis sativa, the plant used in both hemp and cannabis production, is a dioecious species, meaning that male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Cannabinoids , including THC and CBD, are more concentrated in the female flower than in the male flower. Therefore, cannabis or hemp growers who desire a crop with a high yield and potency of either THC or CBD will typically use feminized seeds or clones and will weed out male plants if they appear. Growers of industrial hemp produced for seed or for fiber, however, are not concerned with producing potent cannabinoids and therefore will generally grow both male and female plants.
Cross-pollination between female and male plants can cause problems, such as seed production, lower crop yields, and altered THC or CBD content of the flowers that are produced. This can devastate the value of crops grown for their THC or CBD content. Moreover, if hemp exceeds the 0.3% THC concentration threshold allowed under the federal regulations , it must be destroyed.
Unfortunately, cannabis pollination can occur over large distances depending on the concentration of plants and weather conditions. Industry experts recommend a minimum distance of ten miles between outdoor growing operations, but research shows it is possible for cannabis pollen to travel much further. Therefore, cross-pollination is possible even if a neighboring farm is miles away. This dynamic poses a huge problem to the young industry.
At this point, there are few regulations in California designed to prevent cross-pollination. Several counties enacted temporary moratoriums on the production of hemp, primarily based on the USDA’s inaction. In those counties, cross-pollination has not been a problem since cultivation was not allowed in the first place. Now that the USDA has issued regulations governing the hemp industry generally, counties will likely lift these temporary moratoriums. But since the USDA regulations are silent as to the distance between hemp and cannabis operations, cross-pollination will almost certainly occur and will likely result in litigation in the near future. Indeed, cross-pollination has already caused litigation in other states. For example, lawsuits related to cross-pollination have already commenced in Oregon. In Jack Hempcine LLC v. Leo Mulkey Inc., et. al. , a hemp grower alleges that cross-pollination by male plants on the property of several nearby growing operations raised the THC levels of the Plaintiff’s female plants, rendering his entire crop unmarketable. The grower who brought that action alleges damages exceeding $8,000,000 in lost crop value.
There are several legal theories available to growers seeking to recover damages caused by cross-pollination of their crop by a nearby hemp or cannabis operation, including negligence, trespass, nuisance, strict liability, and interference with prospective economic advantage. If your crop is or was negatively affected by cross-pollination or another grower alleged that you have damaged their crops via cross-pollination, you should contact counsel as soon as possible.
Ryan McGuire is an attorney at HK Cannabis Law, a practice group of Huguenin Kahn LLP, a full-service law firm representing clients throughout California and beyond. Ryan has years of experience litigating a broad range of legal actions, including personal injury, employment, contractual disputes, and construction defect claims. Ryan also has deep ties to California’s agricultural community, and has successfully represented growers, packers, and distributors. Ryan’s knowledge and experience are valuable assets for clients involved all aspects of cannabis production from seed to sale. Established to provide legal representation and counsel in the emerging field of cannabis law, HK Cannabis Law stands ready to serve clients at every stage of the cannabis business cycle, from business entity formation, real estate acquisition, land use, contracts, business transactions, regulatory compliance, licensing and permitting, enforcement defense and, should it ever be necessary, legal representation in both civil and criminal trials and appeals.
Committee Blog: Ending The Ban On Interstate Commerce (Part 1)
Oversupply and shortages, high prices and lack of choice for patients and consumers, illicit markets, tainted products, and the inability to access banking and capital all plague the burgeoning cannabis industry. While cannabis advocates and industry leaders are working on each of these problems, there is one solution that would ease the burden on all of them. Allowing for interstate trade between states with legal cannabis markets would improve each of these issues while supporting the individual solutions to each that the industry has been working on. This is the first post in a series that explores the benefits and barriers to setting up a legal framework for interstate trade, even before wholesale legalization at the federal level.
Since the beginning of legal, adult-use cannabis, when Colorado and Washington passed the first ballot measure allowing for adult-use, the industry was guided by the Cole Memo, which laid out the parameters for the federal government staying out of the states’ cannabis experiments. Among other things, the Cole memo stated that the DEA could crackdown on cannabis moving from states with well-regulated systems to states that do not allow cannabis. This statement has been interpreted conservatively to mean that no cannabis should cross state lines for any reason, ever, based on the fact that at the federal level, cannabis is still a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.
Today, there are 10 states which have legalized adult-use, another 19 which allow for medical use, and six more which allow the use of CBD products only. Many of these states share borders, and producer states could serve several nearby markets without ever entering a state that does not allow cannabis in any form. Furthermore, the Cole Memo, which was rescinded by Jeff Sessions in 2018, has not been replaced by any guidance whatsoever. This means that each U.S. Attorney’s office is free to set their own enforcement priorities around state-legal cannabis activities, and there is no official overriding policy at the DOJ on interstate trade between states with medical or adult use. Corresponding guidance from FinCEN, however, remains in effect and similarly discourages the transfer of cannabis between states.
Cannabis markets vary widely from state to state with regard to the underlying market dynamics and challenges that they face. Some states produce too much while other states experience shortages. Meanwhile, new states pass legislation or have voter initiatives that allow medical or adult-use every year without any infrastructure in place to supply that state’s demand. In each new legal market, the vast majority of demand had long been met through illicit market supply, and generally from outside of the state’s boundaries.
The artificial boundaries around cannabis markets have far-reaching impacts for local economies, patient access, illicit market activity, and social equity. Later posts in this series will take a deep dive into each of these issues, and in this post, we will look at how this has impacted states, the industry, and consumers so far.
- Washington State chose to take the strictest possible reading of the Cole Memo, and insist that not only must cannabis not cross state lines but also sources of funding must come from within the state. Combined with their high capitalization requirement for licenses, the result was a disaster from an equity standpoint: only wealthy and well-connected individuals in the state (which are overwhelmingly white males) were able to even attempt a license. This decision was based substantially on the fact that interstate trade was not allowed.
- In Oregon, which has an ideal growing climate and a long tradition of exporting cannabis (albeit in the illicit market), the artificial boundaries created by the ban on interstate trade lead to a massive oversupply for its small population, which crippled the industry and tanked many small businesses. Despite the fact that Oregonians consume more cannabis per capita than any state, their climate and culture have led to growing massive quantities of world-class cannabis that cannot reach patients and consumers, even in neighboring states that might have under-supply issues. The result is that hundreds of small, mom-and-pop shops and family farms have gone out of business, eradicating millions of dollars of local capital, and accelerating mass consolidation of the industry into the hands of a few foreign corporations. Meanwhile, in medical markets like Illinois and Michigan, patients have had sporadic access to quality cannabis-based medicines.
- When Nevada originally launched, due to the influence of local liquor distributors, it was almost impossible to get products to market, and the state’s dispensaries sold out on the first day of sales. After ironing out some of the kinks, sales are going strong, but the practice of growing thirsty plants indoors in the desert is of dubious value when the same plant can be grown with a fraction of the inputs in northern California and southern Oregon.
- California’s legal system is a perfect example of how over-regulation fuels illicit market activity. Because of the structure of their regulatory framework and high taxes, the state is served by only 800 licensed dispensaries, whose prices are double and triple those found on the illicit market for similar products. This has led to the emergence of thousands of “pop-up” or unlicensed dispensaries, selling untested products tax-free in a thriving illicit market. The booming illicit market in California has also led to massive wholesale markets of hardware, branded packaging, and flavoring and cutting agents (all technically legal) to supply the illegal operators with everything they need to look legitimate. This is a major contributing factor to the wide-spread vaping related illness cases popping up all over the country, as many illicit market operators purchase their supplies in downtown Los Angeles.
- The ban on interstate trade promises to continue to create new and novel problems as well. If New York, the 4 th most populous state in the union, legalized adult-use (which seems likely in the near future), and interstate trade were still banned, it would require a massive investment, on the order of billions of dollars, to create enough indoor and greenhouse grow facilities to supply the demand created by its 19 million inhabitants. The recent legalization of hemp under the last Farm Bill has created a number of legal dilemmas as well, as some individual states that do not recognize any difference between hemp and cannabis flower have seized products and arrested individuals taking hemp legally grown in one state to a market where it is legal to sell.
Some suggest that these issues will be sorted in local markets, and in each state individually this approach might seem to make sense. When you add these problems together, though, a much more elegant, efficient, and obvious solution emerges: let states that have always exported cannabis send it to states that have always imported it. A set of different and seemingly unconnected problems become each other’s solutions.
Historically, people across the country have consumed cannabis, and the vast majority of it was grown in a few locations that are particularly well-suited to the plant. It is highly likely that a fully-matured nationwide legal market (one which must account for not only interstate, but also international competition) will ultimately be best served by the same general market dynamics. The only question is: how long will we allow the artificial market boundaries around each state to decimate local capital, curb access for patients and consumers, encourage investments that are attractive short-term but disastrous long-term, and prop up the illegal markets that pose a public health risk?
Interstate trade between states that allow some form of legal cannabis would provide much-needed relief on a number of fronts for cannabis businesses, and could be structured in such a way to support social equity efforts. With a little guidance on enforcement and thoughtful programs and agreements between states, there is a path to legal interstate commerce even before cannabis is removed from the Controlled Substances Act. The state of Oregon has already passed legislation allowing for the export and import of cannabis products provided that the Federal Government allows it. This could be either through legislation such as the proposed Blumenauer/Widen State Cannabis Commerce Act, or though DOJ enforcement guidance (whether from the Attorney General or the relevant local U.S. Attorney’s). There are multiple paths that can lead to the end of banned interstate trade, and it seems increasingly inevitable that we will see legal cannabis trade across state borders in the near future. For most operators in the cannabis industry, and for all patients and consumers, this will be a good thing, and can’t come soon enough.
Gabriel Cross is a Founder and CEO at Odyssey Distribution, LLC, a distributor for locally-owned craft cannabis producers and processors in Oregon. Gabe worked in the sustainable building industry for a decade before starting Odyssey and brings his experience with sustainability and systems thinking to his work in the cannabis industry. Odyssey manages logistics, sales and marketing for boutique producers so they can focus on creating great craft cannabis products for the Oregon market.
Committee Blog: How NCIA’s Banking & Financial Services Committee Can Help You In 2020
As we begin the new year, the NCIA Banking and Financial Service Committee is joining the trend of starting something new for 2020. We are launching a blog series, the very words that you’re reading now, to help the cannabis industry when it comes to banking and payments. Here, you’ll find new content every month. Our goal is to give you actionable information based on current markets so that your business can grow and thrive throughout the year.
In Missouri , the state has issued 192 retail licenses, and 80 licenses for cultivation. To serve the industry, there are numerous banks and credit unions who are actively working with cannabis businesses to offer transparent banking options.
Utah will be issuing 14 retail licenses and 8 cultivation licenses, with businesses expected to start operating in March of this year. There is a financial institution in the state that is ready to bank the cannabis industry, helping your business with compliant financial services.
Finally, the committee has built relationships with additional financial institutions in California, giving even more options for cannabis businesses that need banking solutions. Whether your business is based in Missouri, Utah, California, or any other state with a legal cannabis market, NCIA’s Banking & Financial Services Committee can help provide information that may help you obtain banking services. Please get in touch with us if you need help, and we can make connections that could help.
Considering the changes to legislation in states across the country, as well as the impressive growth of the cannabis industry in recent years, we’d like to take this opportunity to welcome both newcomers and old-timers in this industry. Our community is vibrant and collaborative, with a focus on helping each other grow.
Unfortunately, there are always operators who try to work around the rules instead of following them. As a result, it’s important that we remind all our members about the dangers of breaking the laws or rules regarding cannabis banking and payments. We want to make sure that everyone knows the dangers that can be associated with the few transaction methods that are available to the industry.
Debit and credit card payments for cannabis are not allowed by the branded card networks. What does this mean? VISA and MasterCard do not want anyone paying, or receiving payment, for cannabis on their rails. While not technically illegal, circumventing their rules can lead to some dire consequences, including getting blacklisted and unable to get a merchant account in the future, even when cannabis becomes federally legal.
Instead of trying to work outside the system, focus on compliance and sustainability. How can you ensure that your business thrives for years to come? Build a solution that is legal now and will continue to operate legally as the federal laws expand. Work with banking and payment partners who understand your business and help it grow. Ensure that you only build partnerships with reliable, trustworthy institutions that improve your brand’s viability and performance.
As always, remember that NCIA’s Banking & Finance Committee is here to help you. Our goals are to educate and support operators in this industry across the country. If you’re worried that your banking or financial services solutions might not be fully trustworthy or compliant, don’t stay silent. Make full use of this committee by utilizing all our resources and connections to help your business thrive. Because when your business does well, the association continues to grow and improve, too.
In his role as Hypur’s Chief Revenue Officer, Tyler leverages his extensive experience in building brands, managing key relationships and strategic partnerships. Tyler has been at the forefront of Hypur’s expansion efforts for over five years and touches Financial Institutions, Government Officials, Regulatory Bodies and the State Legal Cannabis industry.
As a result, he possesses an intricate knowledge of the Banking and Regulatory climate, key industry influencers, industry dynamics, and market history. He has also become a key contact for media outlets, analytics companies, industry consultants and investment firms searching for reliable, accurate sources of industry information.
Tyler’s contacts and relationships in the US State Legal cannabis industry are unparalleled.
As a result of his influential value, he was selected to be Chairman of the National Cannabis Industry Association Banking and Financial Services Committee. He is also a member of the Forbes Business Development Council, frequently publishing articles about the banking and payment environment in the cannabis industry. Tyler founded and managed a large beverage company prior to joining the Hypur team and was a professional athlete in the New York Mets Organization.
Committee Blog: What The Recent Layoffs in the Cannabis Industry Mean
Many in our industry have heard about the recent layoffs announced by cannabis companies, including some of NCIA’s members, in the U.S. NCIA’s Human Resources Committee views the layoffs as an unfortunate but sometimes necessary part of business, and overall remain optimistic about the industry as a whole.
On the face of it, the recent headlines regarding cannabis industry layoffs appear grim. One of California’s best-known cannabis brands announced a reduction of 20% of its labor force. Another grower is reported to have had a similarly sized cut. Listening to the news coverage, one might have the impression that the industry as a whole is going through a massive negative upheaval. This could not be further from the truth.
At the same time, we have seen hiring trends in 2019 that are overwhelmingly positive. According to an article in Forbes earlier this year, the cannabis industry added almost 65,000 jobs in 2018, with a substantially greater amount expected for this year. Clearly, cannabis is a significant growth engine for employment across the U.S. Add in Illinois, Massachusetts, and other states legalizing cannabis for medical or adult-use, and the numbers continue to grow. The state of the cannabis industry is strong!
Since its founding nearly a decade ago, NCIA has dedicated itself to promoting the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry. During this time, the industry workforce has swelled to over 200,000 people, and new people are joining us daily from coast to coast. NCIA’s HR Committee, which is comprised of human resource practitioners devoted to bringing best practices to the cannabis industry, carefully monitors hiring trends and other people-related developments.
NCIA’s Human Resources Committee regrets any job losses for their impact on the lives of employees and their families. History has shown that layoffs often happen in high growth industries. These reductions in force occur when companies who have over-invested ahead of anticipated growth must adjust their labor counts to rapidly shifting business dynamics. While painful in the short term for employer and employee alike, this represents a chance for other companies to acquire top talent, and for that top talent to secure new and exciting opportunities.
NCIA’s HR Committee is unwavering in its faith that the cannabis industry will continue to grow as an economic force in this country for many decades to come, and that these short-term changes will make the industry better, stronger and more resilient in the long run.
There are many ways you can get involved and help. Attend NCIA’s national trade shows and regional networking events to get your foot in the door of our dynamic industry. Start a business. Educate yourself on the latest issues , and contact your congressperson. Whatever road you choose to take, we look forward to welcoming you as our partner on this amazing journey!
Be sure to check out these other resources from NCIA’s Human Resources Committee Members:
NCIA HR Committee Blog Posts
- The Hiring Process Checklist
- The Employee Onboarding Process
NCIA’s Cannabis Industry Voice Podcast Episodes:
- Why Professionals Want To Work In The Industry
- Recruiting For The Cannabis Industry
- Unique Challenges to Recruiting in the Cannabis Industry
Member Blog: The Economics Of Trespass Grows And The Legal Industry
by Jackee Riccio, Regional Field Director at the CROP Project
California’s cannabis economy has not generated the cash flow that regulators were anticipating. Current legal sales have topped $3 billion, but unregulated cannabis continues to dominate the market. This may not be surprising, as critics argue that the current licensing process — being lengthy, expensive, and with unpredictable outcomes — does not encourage cultivators to join the legal industry. What may be surprising is how much of that unregulated market is dominated by trespass grow operations on California’s public land. Forest Service Law enforcement & Investigations, and other government agencies, estimate that cannabis cultivated on public lands account for nearly 60% of the illicit market in California. And 98% of trespass grows in California are operated by international drug-trafficking organizations that leave a heavy environmental footprint, and a costly clean-up process for taxpayers. DTOs have wide distribution networks on the East Coast and throughout mid-west states. Many of those states do not yet have adult-use cannabis, creating no legal, safe avenue for cannabis users to purchase from.
So, would legalization federally help the trespass grow issue? Yes, and no. It would in the long term, but in the near term, consumers would likely still purchase what was readily available and inexpensive. Furthermore, without increased Forest Service presence on National Forests where the vast majority of trespass grows occur, they’d still have remote, unvisited landscapes to operate in. Trespass grows operating up-stream of a legal grow may still jeopardize the ability of that product to get to the legal market. In the words of Lindsay Robinson, Executive Director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, “Black market marijuana is potentially dangerous because traces of the toxic chemicals used at grow sites are often found in the plants,” she said. “If you have an illicit grow upstream from you, and you’re legal, that could end up tainting your product and prevent it from entering the market,” Robinson said.
There are thousands of trespass grows throughout nearly all of California’s National Forests. While recreation in National Forests has increased over the past decade, budget cuts have reduced Forest Service presence on the forests and the ability to properly patrol them. For example, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest is 2.2 million acres, and yet only 6 Forest Service Law Enforcement officers patrol its entirety. Reclamation of the sites is only one aspect of removing them from our public lands. To avoid playing trespass grow whack-a-mole, it’s critical that there is regular Forest Service presence to deter the activation of new sites, while reclamation teams clean-up the backlog of existing sites. This is one of the primary goals of the Cannabis Removal on Public Lands (CROP) Project, a nonprofit project of the Community Governance Partnership and the California Wilderness Coalition.
Before CROP, there was no bi-partisan effort or political will to remove trespass grows from the landscape. Two years of meetings, listening to communities and scientists, has led to CROP spearheading a state and national effort to secure state and federal resources to reclaim trespass grows on National Forests, increase Forest Service law enforcement and overall presence in National Forests, educate the public on the dangers of ingesting unregulated cannabis, and increasing criminal penalties for bringing neurotoxic pesticides onto public lands.
Jackee Riccio currently serves as the Regional Field Director for the CROP Project. Her fervor for the natural world has fueled her career as a wildlife biologist and archaeologist, backcountry horse packer, and finally as the co-founder and Executive Director of Cannabis for Conservation, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit. She graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Conservation, and a B.A. in Archaeology. She has worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and private organizations conducting wildlife research on endangered species including gray whales, desert tortoises, and Pacific fishers.
CROP is directed by an Advisory Board of interests that includes environmental organizations, state and federal agencies, local officials, tribes, scientists, and the legal cannabis industry. CROP is fighting on behalf of California’s wildlife, users of public lands, and downstream communities long plagued by trespass grows. To learn more about CROP, or how to contribute, please visit www.cropproject.org .
Member Blog: Changes in California Packaging Regulations are Coming – Are you Prepared?
Just when you thought you had a grasp on the tangled web of regulations governing California’s legal cannabis market, the packaging rules are changing again on January 1, 2020.
That’s right around the corner… so if you are a manufacturer, grower or producer, you need to pay attention or face consequences that could include product seizure, loss of revenues, and delays in getting compliant packaging on the shelves.
In a nutshell, current regulations in California allow that either the product must be in a child-resistant container, or it must be placed in a CR exit package.
New regulations, taking effect on January 1, mandate that all products must be in a certified child-resistant container. Moreover, edible products must be in a child-resistant re-sealable package.
While this will allow dispensaries to start offering interesting, branded shopping bags, it means that product packaging must be compliant and in place by the first of the year.
Accordingly, if your packaging currently does not meet the upcoming regulations, you are rapidly running out of time to replace it with new, compliant solutions.
Unfortunately, the fact is, it takes time to get new packaging designed, printed, shipped, fulfilled, and placed on shelves… Lots of time.
Let’s take a look at a typical timetable:
Getting your new packaging designed, revised, and approved. 2-4 weeks.
Sampling and Refinements
Once the design is complete, you’ll receive samples, which takes an average of 2 weeks.
Then, your team will analyze the packaging, and if necessary, the designers will make any refinements. 1 week.
Printing the packaging can take up to 8 weeks, depending on the supplier, season, and complexity of packaging.
A lot of printing these days is done overseas, where costs are lower. However, shipping times are much longer and can take 6-8 weeks to arrive. This includes loading and unloading, customs clearing, and ground transport.
Getting your products into your new packaging takes time. Allow 1-2 weeks for this task, depending on the quantity and complexity.
Transit to Distributors and Stores
Finally, you’ll need to get your product to distributors and stores. Count on at least 1 week for each.
If you add up the various steps – each critical to the process – you will see that your project can realistically take 20-26 weeks. That’s up to 6 months!
There are ways to trim this timetable, but inevitably, they start adding expense to the project. Accordingly, the best practice is to start the process at least 6 months before you need your packaging on the store shelves.
Granted, this schedule is for producing a premium packaging system. There are lower-cost solutions available, but these inevitably make your product look cheaper. This is especially important if you want to build an upscale brand and position your product as a luxury item.
The best advice is to contact a packaging professional as early in the process as possible and discuss your options, costs, and timetables.
Don’t start thinking about packaging a few weeks before a regulation change… get ahead of the game and start the process early to enjoy the most options, best results, and lowest costs.
CEO Kary Radestock
Kary Radestock, CEO, launched Hippo Premium Packaging in March 2016 offering an array of services to the cannabis market, including: Marketing Strategy, Brand Development, Social Media, Public Relations, Graphic and Web Design, and of course, Printing and Packaging. Radestock brings over 20 years of award-winning print and packaging expertise, and leads a team of the nation’s top brand builders, marketers and print production experts. Hippo works with businesses looking for a brand refresh or an entire brand development, and specializes in helping canna-business get their products to market in the most beautiful and affordable way possible. Radestock’s Creative Collective of talent and experts, allows her to offer world-class solutions to support the unique needs of the Cannabis Industry.
Member Blog: Helping Mary Jane Is Good For Business
by Kharla Vezzetti, Business Membership and Advertising Manager at California NORML
Who is the cannabis consumer to you?
In a vast industry with so many important contributors, the one group that we all have in common and eventually serve is the consumer. The cannabis consumer is our shared financial bottom line, the foundation of our industry, our end-all reason for being in business. The cannabis consumer is one huge group. While your company may see your target market as including a specific demographic, the totality of the cannabis consumer group spans ages, genders, and socio-economic groups more so than the average marketed “widget.” That said, there are needs and concerns that the average cannabis consumers share.
I Call Her Mary Jane.
While we all move forward in California ‘s post Prop 64 environment, our ongoing goals, as both businesses and organizations, need to be consumer-focused. Mary Jane’s needs, as an individual, must not be overlooked.
Mary needs to be healthy and free enough to drive herself to work. She needs to not fear being honest with her doctor, nor be submitted to a job-ending drug test. She needs to be able to afford and have access to her choice of medicine. She needs advocates and educators to monitor our legislators, answer her questions, and to fight for her rights as a cannabis consumer. She needs all of us to honor her importance as the foundation she is.
Why You Should Support Mary Jane’s Rights:
An Employed Consumer Base Is Essential For Product Sales.
Think about how you would attempt to sell cannabis to the unemployed. California, unlike 15 other states, still subjects employees to the risk of losing their jobs or being denied employment due to their cannabis usage, even when Mary has a doctor’s recommendation. Read more about the solution here.
Consumers Must Be Free To Discuss Cannabis With Their Doctors Without Repercussions.
Medical Cannabis users are a large portion of the industry’s market. Unfortunately, California pain patients, who wish to reduce their use of opioids with cannabis, currently risk losing their prescription medication if they get caught supplementing with cannabis. Read more about this discriminatory issue here.
Californians Love Driving—Many Must Drive.
Year after year, unscientific and discriminatory driving laws are proposed by state legislators. Just imagine Mary losing her license due to simply having THC in her bloodstream. She is now unable to get to work or to her doctor’s visits. Good thing for Mary, this scenario is being regularly averted by California NORML, while cannabis delivery rights have also been maintained across the state.
Contributing To Mary’s Rights Is Good For Your Branding.
Showing yourself as a company that cares about the consumer, their health, happiness and well-being, as well as exhibiting respect for their history, sets you apart in a California cannabis community which has such old, strong roots alongside so many new players.
Sane Laws And Regulations Benefit All.
In this fast-growing and adapting climate, we must have a say on proposed laws and regulations that affect our industry and those who depend on our success. Read more about Cal NORML’s recent accomplishments and current plans on behalf of Californians here.
It’s often said that California “leads the way” for the rest of the United States. While this hasn’t always been true, a state our size with a cannabis history so long and distinguished should continue to strive to be a positive trendsetter. Let’s keep Mary Jane at the forefront of our plans for success. She is more than an email analytic or a dollar sign. Mary and her needs spurned this modern movement with the passage of Prop 215. She should continue to be the inspiration, and a significant focus for the industry. When we take care of Mary, as our combined consumer, we all win.
Kharla Vezzetti volunteered in the 1990s as a both a signature gatherer as well as the Media Liaison for the Sonoma County chapter of Californian’s for Compassionate Use, working on what was to become Prop 215/The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, the first successful medical marijuana initiative in the country.
From 1996-1998, Vezzetti was the owner and operator of Natural Harvest, a wholesale distribution and retail vending business specializing in Sonoma County produced industrial hemp products.
In the years 1997-1999, She was the Advertising Manager fo r HempWorld: The International Hemp Journal and Hemp Pages: The Hemp Industry Source Book, both first of their kind publications.
In 1998, Vezzetti served as a member on the Board of Advisers for the Industrial Use of Hemp (Marijuana) Initiative
She excitedly joined the staff of California NORML in 2017, where she continues as the non-profit organization’s Business Membership and Advertising Manager. Additionally, she is a graphic designer, marketing advisor, and blogger based in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA.
Ten Reasons To Join Us At #CannaBizSummit In Ten Days
The 6th Annual Cannabis Business Summit & Expo begins in TEN DAYS ! So we’re bringing you TEN reasons why you should make plans to join us:
Your Registration Dollars are Put to Work
Most industry events are out to make a buck. But when you attend one of NCIA’s business events, the money you spend goes right back into advocacy for you, your business and the cannabis industry in general.
Conference Sessions Featuring Known Industry Leaders
#CannaBizSummit brings in known names in the trade that are experts in their fields. Hear from those who have experienced the same issues as you and know how to deal with them. We spend weeks creating the highest quality agendas, with carefully curated speakers and industry hot topics so that you may walk away from our events with not only a refreshing take on the cannabis market but actionable tips and tricks for your business.
SOLD OUT Expo Hall
NCIA events have the proven highest concentration of buyers and sellers of any other industry event, and exhibitors have been pre-qualified and are of the highest caliber. Network with your peers and explore the exhibit hall with more than 400+ exhibitors (all NCIA members) on our SOLD OUT expo floor ! . Whether you’re looking for business solutions, extraction, distillation, or grow equipment – you’ll find it on the expo floor.
Full Day Workshops
NCIA has gone above and beyond to create an inspiring three-day learning experience. Not only will you be able to hear from experts in a variety of fields during our core conference program, but you can enhance your experience with an intimate, classroom-like setting in one of our exclusive pre-conference workshops . Join us for Cannabis 101, Managing for Success, INCBA Regulatory Rounds, CannaVest Investor Forum or The HEMP Biz Conference.
Full Day and Half Day Tours
#CannaBizSummit tours offer a fun, interactive experience and a first-hand look at some of the most prominent cannabis businesses in northern California. Tours include the Santa Cruz, East Bay and Legion of Bloom full day tours, as well as a morning and afternoon half day tour of San Jose. Register soon – some of our tours are close to selling out!
Thought-Provoking Keynote Speakers
Don’t miss this lineup of heavy hitting industry pioneers as they take the stage to discuss everything from global expansion to athletics in these not-to-be missed opening sessions! We’ll be joined by Mike Lee, Executive Vice President & CFO from Canopy Growth Corporation, who will be sharing his unique outlook for the industry. Hear the Latest in Cannabis Research and The Impact on Athletes with Dr. Jefferey Chen, physician and researcher at The UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative. He’ll be joined by Anna Symonds (USA Rugby), Nate Jackson (NFL), Frank Shamrock (MMA, and Jim McAlpine (Creator of 420 Games) who will share their own experiences and benefits of using cannabis for recovery.
Additional Education on the Expo Floor in the Elevation Lounge
If you’re looking for more education outside of our conference program, the Elevation Lounge in booth #1642 is where to ﬁnd it. We have eleven, 20-minute educational sessions and the best part—they’re free to all attendees.
No Consumers – We’re All business Here
#CannaBizSummit is a serious place to do business. We’ve heard repeatedly that if you are serious about meeting people in the industry that can help take your business to the next level, #CannaBizSummit is where you want to be. Unlike other events we’re not focused on consumers, it’s all about business to business relationships here.
Networking with Other Cannabis Professionals
Join entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and policymakers to expand your influential industry network. Create meaningful connections with fellow cannabis peers.
Join thousands of industry professionals and friends at the Blues & Buds celebration featuring actor, musician and cannabis farmer, Jim Belushi and the Big Blu Soul Review! All are welcome, but you must RSVP to attend. Enjoy light appetizers, drinks and dancing with friends.
Register today and plan on gaining invaluable insights and best practices for both the novice and experienced cannabis business owner.
Partner Blog: Legal Education – The Cannabis Regulatory Rounds Presented by INCBA
The International Cannabis Bar Association (INCBA) is excited to present the fourth iteration of our in-person educational partnership with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit and Expo.
This year, INCBA is thrilled to showcase a full day set of educational sessions on July 22, 2019 in San Jose, California that sets the bar for legal education in the cannabis industry and offers 6.5+ credits of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) in select jurisdictions. Already renowned for presenting the highest-quality legal education in the legal cannabis, INCBA has continued to refine and enhance our in-person educational offerings, and we have something special in store for our attorneys at NCIA’s #CannaBizSummit this year.
Instead of focusing on substantive topic areas (like IP, finance, or real estate), we have decided to offer a special set of sessions focused on regulatory issues that face each business type that operates in this unique industry. Loosely based on license type, our educational sessions will focus on specific stops on the vertical stream of commerce, beginning with specific issues related to cultivators, moving through multi-state manufacturing and distribution, and then addressing to E-commerce. We will take a close look at the current bottleneck in many jurisdictions – testing laboratories – and at labor and workforce considerations that affect businesses across all the above license types. In short, we are giving you what you need to know to serve your clients in the cannabis industry no matter where their focus lies.
And, just to make sure you get those valuable nuggets of information, we have made sure that every panel features a regulator that can speak directly to the concerns that you must address when advising your client. INCBA has become known for featuring the top practitioners in the country on each of our panels, and now you get to watch them discuss their approach to regulation with the people in charge of enforcement.
In addition, INCBA is excited to present the most substantively and jurisdictionally diverse set of panels that we have ever featured. No more than two attorneys from any given state sit on a panel, which means that we will be covering topics that are relevant across state lines. And, because California’s regulatory system has come online this year, it serves as the perfect foil to compare and contrast differences in jurisdictions, failures and successes of regulatory structures, and the major pain points your clients face – no matter from what state they hail.
To make sure we end the day on the right note, and to ensure that you have the opportunity to create the lasting connections that will serve you throughout your practicing career, INCBA will be hosting one of our signature after-parties at the beautiful Mosaic Restaurant and Lounge at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown San Jose. After a long day of education, come to Mosaic to network with some of the best cannabis attorneys around. The party includes light bites and drinks, as well as Bocce ball and Giant Jenga. Find the panelists you enjoyed the most, see old friends, and make new ones to lay the foundation for a lifelong successful practice in this special industry.
As the first (and only) specialty bar association that exclusively serves the business needs of the cannabis industry globally, INCBA is the hub where cannabis industry lawyers come together to connect with each other, share information, and learn the tools necessary to further their clients’ interests in the legal cannabis industry. As Steve Shain of Hoban Law Group recently proclaimed – “It’s not whether you can afford to be here, it’s whether you can afford to not be here.”
Video: Member Spotlight – Anresco Laboratories
In this month’s video spotlight, learn about how Anresco Laboratories went from an analytical lab serving the baking industry to getting involved in cannabis testing in 2015. At Anresco, they now conduct metals testing, microbiology, chromatography, HPLC, and are heavily involved with cannabis advocacy efforts!
Member Blog: My Journey Through The Intersection of the LGBTQ Community and Cannabis Movement
By Erich Pearson, SPARC
NCIA Board and Founding Member
Reflecting on the decades-long fight to end prohibition of marijuana, one person comes to mind this month as we look at the similar and interconnected decades-long Gay Pride movement and what it means for the LGBTQ community today. One activist largely credited for legalizing medical cannabis in California is the original “cannabis influencer” Dennis Peron. We have much to be grateful for as we remember his legacy advocating for AIDS patients in California to have access to medical cannabis.
As for my role in both of these these important causes, I arrived in San Francisco in 2000 after graduating college in Indiana. I was happy to find San Francisco to be not only accepting of me as a gay man, but also accepting of me as someone interested in the cannabis movement. In the 1990s, there were a handful of medical cannabis dispensaries operating, un-permitted and un-regulated. It wasn’t until 2006 that Americans For Safe Access (ASA) , Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) along with a handful of local advocates led the charge to regulate dispensaries.
A few of the most vocal advocates were veterans from the political days of Dennis Peron . Dennis was not involved in the regulatory process of 2006. It was widely known that Dennis didn’t like regulations (he repeated this during the Prop 64 campaign years later). Dennis thought cannabis should be grown and sold freely, outside of an alcohol-type regulatory environment. He was right, but unrealistic – hence his waning interest in the politics of it.
Dennis did have a few friends who wanted to see cannabis regulated in San Francisco, and one was Wayne Justmann , a gay man that used to work the door at Dennis’ cannabis club at 1444 Market Street. Wayne is a friend of mine today, and we worked closely together to advocate for a dispensary program that respected the existing operators, despite their “inappropriate” locations in many cases. We ultimately won this battle, as San Francisco has a healthy respect for social pioneers.
San Francisco was also the first city to regulate on-site consumption. This was allowed in order to provide AIDS patients a safe place to medicate, outside of government housing. This has proven to be a successful program, with little public resistance even today as we permit more of these lounges, primarily designed for adult-use consumption.
I started a free compassion program in San Francisco in the early 2000’s at Maitri AIDS Hospice . We still deliver twice a month to patients there. This has been an incredibly successful program and a very rewarding experience for myself and the staff who carry it out.
Today, I don’t see a lot of synergies anymore between gay progress and cannabis progress despite its intertwined history, but we at SPARC honor that history with a t-shirt claiming victory: “Legalized Gay Pot.” Of course, the fight for fair treatment and equality for both cannabis and LGBTQ right is far from over, but in San Francisco, I’d say we’ve come a long way on both fronts. And as cannabis legalization sweep through other states across the country, we can see studies that show gay, lesbian and bisexual people being the highest level of consumers among other select demographics, showing that our communities continue to overlap.
In looking back on all of this history and progress, I am thankful for all of the advocates who put themselves forward to fight for cannabis AND LGBTQ rights – we wouldn’t be here without their hard work, dedication, and selflessness. I now look forward to a future where everyone, in every state, can access the cannabis plant and be treated with respect and fairness.
Photo By CannabisCamera.com
Erich Pearson is a recognized leader in the cannabis industry – a long-time advocate, legislative consultant, dispensary operator, cultivation expert, and NCIA board member.
A proponent of medical cannabis regulation, cultivation, and best practices since 2000, Erich served on the San Francisco District Attorney’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Group and consults on state and local medical cannabis policy and legislation.
Erich was instrumental in the passage of both San Francisco’s Medical Cannabis Dispensary Act and the law enforcement “lowest priority” resolution of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. As a result of Erich’s work he was appointed in 2007 by Supervisor David Campos to sit on San Francisco’s Medical Cannabis Working Group.
In 2010 Erich launched SPARC, a nonprofit medical cannabis dispensary providing safe, consistent and affordable medical cannabis to patients in San Francisco. SPARC provides high quality, lab-tested cannabis to qualified patients, and collaborates with local hospices, residential care facilities, and dispensaries to successfully supply medical marijuana at no cost to seriously ill patients.
How does SPARC do it? By growing cannabis more efficiently. Erich’s expertise is constructing and managing large indoor cultivation facilities. With a robust Research & Development team, Erich is meticulously focused on developing the optimal environmental recipe for high-yield cultivations using unique systems of lighting, ventilation and design.
SPARC is a Founding & Supporting Member of NCIA.
Erich holds a BS in Construction and Project Management from Purdue University.
Committee Blog: Social Justice in the Cannabis Industry – Your Answers Will Take Minutes, But The Impact Could Be Long-Lasting
By Rudy Schreier, MMLG
NCIA’s Marketing & Advertising Committee’s Social Justice Subcommittee
The cannabis industry is evolving at light speed. From nationwide legalization, to massive corporations developing green thumbs, cannabis culture is shifting daily. Exciting, yes, but this rapid cultural shift poses a threat to social justice by disregarding the harms caused by the war on drugs. Now, more than ever, the cannabis industry needs to come together and determine a course of action to ensure that social justice isn’t brushed aside.
Where should we start? And how can all of us in the industry handle something as daunting as social justice with the appropriate sensitivity? Let’s review some of the basics.
Cannabis has been aggressively policed since the mid-to-late twentieth century. Minorities from marginalized communities were disproportionately punished for cannabis crimes, contributing to the rise of mass incarceration. Those same communities punished for past involvement with cannabis face an extremely high barrier of entry in the newly legal industry. Many cities and states are adopting social equity programs to lower the barrier. For example, Los Angeles recently approved $10.5 million in funding over the next three years for its social equity program. Initiatives like Los Angeles’ are a step in the right direction; however, there’s still a lot more to be done.
While social justice in the cannabis industry is a new focus for some, others have been fighting for decades. Omar Figueroa , a cannabis lawyer and advocate located in Northern California, helped to convince the Sonoma County District Attorney to clear cannabis convictions and has defended numerous activists pro bono over the years. When asked how the cannabis industry should address social justice, Omar replied, “[We need to] provide grants and loans to address disparities in access to capital, continue to advocate against cannabis prohibition, and create a leadership institute to empower people directly affected by the war on cannabis.” Omar, like many other committed ‘canna-pros’, are constantly fighting for fair and equitable practices in our industry. With so much work to be done, it can be challenging figuring out where to start. This is where you come in.
As we build the new cannabis culture, we have the unique opportunity to do things differently, ethically, and better. NCIA’s Marketing & Advertising Committee’s Social Justice Subcommittee is developing an approach to social justice for the cannabis industry, and we need your help. Since we can’t tackle everything, we’re asking you to make your voice heard and help us navigate the difficult terrain ahead. Please take this 4-question survey about what social justice should mean in the cannabis industry. Your answers will take minutes, but the impact could be long-lasting. Feeling ambitious? Share this ‘gram-sized graphic’ in your own social channels to spread the ‘poll power’ far and wide!
Interested in learning more? NCIA’s Social Justice Subcommittee will be hosting a panel titled “Cannabis Reform Stops Short: Why We Can’t Let Social Justice Get Lost” at NCIA’s Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in San Jose on Tuesday, July 23, from 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM. Register for the conference today !
Take the social justice survey now!
Marketing and Advertising Committee: (MAC) of National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) — develops best practices in cannabis industry marketing /education, opening dialogues with media outlets that ban cannabis-related advertising.
Social Justice Subcommittee : An arm of the MAC committee, the aim is to ensure that social justice issues are positively addressed via cannabis reform. Team Members: MMLG, Cannawise, Canna Advisors, Annabis.
The Author: From operations and marketing, to office and project management, Rudy Schreier wears many hats for the Los Angeles-based licensing and compliance consultancy MMLG . Schreier co-founded the #StartsAtThePolls campaign, which utilized social media platforms to inform voters on how to register to vote, how to get to the polls, and pro-cannabis candidates running for the 2018 elections.
The Panel: Be sure to catch the Social Justice Subcommittee’s panel featuring Lisa Jordan (Canna Advisors), Omar Figueroa (Law Offices of Omar Figueroa), Shanita Penny (Minority Cannabis Business Association), and Felicia Carbajal (The Social Impact Center) at NCIA’s Cannabis Business Summit & Expo titled, “ Cannabis Reform Stops Short: Why We Can’t Let Social Justice Get Lost .”
VIDEO: Member Spotlight – Magnolia Wellness
In this month’s video spotlight, get to know Debby Goldsberry, Executive Director of Magnolia Wellness, and her team based in Oakland, California. Debby is a community leader who is active in the campaign to reform the California state cannabis laws and to protect patients’ rights. Learn more about how the team at Magnolia Wellness creates a healing environment for their patients, including the East Bay’s only vapor lounge and dab bar, and how they give back to the community through various social programs.
Be sure to join us in San Jose, California for NCIA’s 6th Annual Cannabis Business Summit & Expo on July 22-24, 2019!
Member Blog: Put Your Cannabis Products to the Test – How Companies Can Work Closely with Labs to Maximize Efficiency and Quality
By Dr. John Oram, CEO & Founder of NUG
Laboratory testing regulations for the cannabis industry have been consistently inconsistent, leaving companies struggling to adapt. In the early stages of California’s legal medical marijuana market, labs limited testing to potency, disregarding purity, which put patients at risk. When California legalized adult-use, regulators drastically and rapidly increased testing requirements and purity standards, leaving many producers struggling to adapt.
But despite the frustrations that may arise from convoluted cannabis testing requirements imposed in many states, it is essential that the growing adult-use and, of course, medical cannabis industries ensure that their products across the board are reliable, safe, and pure – free of contaminants such as heavy metals, mold, and synthetic pesticides – and that levels of THC and CBD are accurately labeled.
Companies can prepare for more stringent rules, while being confident in both the purity and potency of their products, by selecting a trustworthy lab to fit their needs, and by developing a lasting relationship with that lab. Once a brand has chosen a lab that they are comfortable with and whose results have proved to be credible, it’s important to stick with that lab rather than play the field.
The first step is to develop a thoughtful selection process to find a lab that best fits your company’s needs and goals. Take the time to meet with various lab teams and have in-depth conversations about their experience, equipment and technology, and operating strategies employed to test for product quality, purity, and safety. This is not the time to take shortcuts, nor should you base your lab choice solely on price and turnaround time. With regards to the latter, a great lab may need a week or more to thoroughly test a product and confirm its purity and potency. The lab is simply doing its due diligence to ensure a company can be fully confident in the products they put forth in the marketplace.
Once you’ve chosen a lab that will work best with and on behalf of your business, consistently stay in touch with the lab team. Build relationships with account representatives so they can fully understand your products, so you can understand the progress the lab is making throughout the testing process, and together be fully prepared to address any issues that may arise. For instance, if there is an expected delay, companies who have stayed in regular contact with their lab of choice can be ready to prevent problems relating to supply chain and inventory.
Fostering a strong relationship with a reputable, objective, third-party lab is another way for brands to distinguish themselves from the pack within the legal market, and to encourage consumers to forgo the illicit market and instead place their trust in high-quality, licensed products that have been properly tested. Companies can add test results to their product labels and their websites for full transparency.
By carefully selecting a lab and learning to seamlessly work together, brands can not only adapt to stricter testing requirements, but can potentially use the increased regulations to their advantage by establishing consumer confidence and by going above and beyond regulatory requirements.
Dr. John Oram, Ph.D., is CEO & Founder of NUG, an Oakland-based, vertically-integrated cannabis company with strong historical growth and performance. Founded in 2014, NUG continues to expand and diversify its portfolio, which includes world-class R&D, state-of-the-art cultivation, extraction, and distillation facilities, one of California’s largest wholesale cannabis distributors, and the new, unparalleled NUG retail store experience. Follow NUG on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram and YouTube .
VIDEO: Member Spotlight – Berkeley Patients Group
Get to know the team at Berkeley Patients Group, a founding member of NCIA, based in the Bay Area of California. Established in 1999, Berkeley Patients Group is the nation’s longest-running dispensary. Etienne Fontan and Sabrina Fendrick talk about the importance of establishing banking services for our industry, as well as other struggles related to federal prohibition. Etienne Fontan also currently serves on NCIA’s Board of Directors.
Member Blog: Cannabis Industry Banking Predictions In The U.S.
There is little doubt that lack of access to banking is one of the most immense challenges facing cannabis retailers. Legally-operating cannabis businesses are at a significant disadvantage, as well as the communities they operate in. Luckily, there are positive signs that a new day is quickly approaching and cannabis banking laws in the United States are about to go through a major change.
What’s Going on with Cannabis Banking Laws?
Recently and for the first time, the U.S. Congress held hearings on the all-cash nature of the cannabis business. The bill at the center of these monumental hearings: the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, originally introduced in 2006 and has been stuck in a holding pattern, as have similar bills, ever since.
The committee heard testimony from cannabis industry stakeholders, police departments, and banking executives. These witnesses painted a robust picture of the cannabis banking problem, from the danger it poses to communities in the form of increased risk of armed robbery, to the burden it places on legal dispensary owners who have to find alternative cash management solutions , to the lack of accountability cash creates from a tax perspective.
The bill has yet to come up for a vote. While there are elected officials who reject the concept outright, there is an ever growing coalition in both houses of Congress pushing for a cannabis industry banking solution. More than ever, it seems the U.S. could finally see a loosening on federal restrictions to banking legal cannabis business.
4 Reasons why the U.S. will Loosen Cannabis Banking Regulations Soon
There is more political will for the legal cannabis industry than ever before.
While one hearing is far from passing the law, it is a sign that times are changing. Ten states have legalized recreational cannabis and 33 more have some form of medical cannabis laws in place; this is a drastic increase in the last decade. Shockingly in a time of so much partisan rancor, 62% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. That is more than double the approval rating cannabis enjoyed in 2000 (31%).
The cannabis banking law being discussed is relatively innocuous. It does not legalize or reclassify cannabis at all, just allows banks to offer services to state-legal cannabis businesses. All in all, considering the strong support across party lines and the success of state industries, passing this law would be an easy win for Democrats, Republicans, and President Trump in a time when political wins are a rarity.
Current banking solutions are prohibitively expensive and states want to see their prosperous legal cannabis industry grow.
Credit unions and banks that currently offer cannabis industry banking charge prohibitively expensive fees, up to $2,000 a month for a simple business checking account. This is a problem for state elected officials.
Recreational and medicinal cannabis states seem, generally speaking, to enjoy the tax revenue they receive from this robust and rapidly growing industry. It is in the best interest of the state for legal cannabis businesses to thrive. If cannabis business owners can’t afford the currently available banking services, it hinders their ability to build upon their business. Even worse, these prohibitive fees keep dispensaries operating on an all cash basis, creating a much higher risk of robbery and violence in the community.
California’s behemoth market is drastically tipping the scales.
It is hard to overstate just how massive California’s legal cannabis market is. Expected to rake in over $50 billion by 2026, the influence this one state industry has is profound and its cash management problem will significantly magnify the problem.
The industry will continue to grow and mature, pushing out the gray market over time. As more cash comes flowing into the legal cannabis industry, it will begin to strain the cash supply and law enforcement to such a degree that action, more than it already is, will be imperative.
Money talks; state and federal governments want their tax revenue.
More than anything else, what will ultimately carry a cannabis banking law across the finish line is money. Cash-only businesses are fertile for tax fraud, simply pocket a little cash here and there and then never report it to the IRS. If there is one thing that can motivate an otherwise slow-moving government, it is tax revenue being left on the table. Allowing cannabis industry banking is a clear way to increases transparency and ensure the state and federal government get their share of the profits.
Access to banking will allow the rapidly growing cannabis industry to advance even faster. Will you be ready? Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news, industry trends, and best practices for running your cannabis dispensary!
Gary Cohen leads Cova’s charge into the legal cannabis space by guiding the vision, strategic development, ‘go to market’ plans and culture.
Before joining Cova, Gary was a principal in over a dozen tech start-ups in the mobile communications industry ranging from small VC funded companies to Fortune 100 firms, including Onavo, which was later acquired by Facebook. In those companies he led sales, marketing, business analytics and market expansions. He has also held a multitude of leadership roles with Verizon and AT&T.
Gary holds a degree in finance with a master’s in marketing from the University of Colorado.
Member Blog: The Explosive Growth of California Cannabis Licenses and What Comes Next
We’re more than one year into California’s legal cannabis industry and license growth continued on a fast-rising upward trajectory through the end of 2018. In fact, between November 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018, California issued a total of 6,855 new cannabis licenses according to the Cannabiz Media License Database as people worked extended hours to process the remaining temporary license applications.
To put that number into perspective, California had 4,085 active licenses as of October 31, 2018. During the next 61 days, the state more than doubled that number to 10,940 active licenses on December 31st. You can see the data visually in the chart below.
Majority of Licenses Granted Went to Cultivators
Of the 6,855 licenses granted in California during November and December 2018, 65% were issued to cultivators by the California Department of Agriculture.
Distributor licenses accounted for 14% of the licenses granted during that two month period, followed by manufacturer licenses at 12%, retailers/dispensaries at 3%, microbusinesses at 3%, delivery businesses at 3%, and testing labs at less than 1%.
Cultivators Continue Stacking Licenses
During the final two months of 2018, 45 license holders gained double digit licenses, which accounted for 24% (1,665) of the 6,855 new licenses issued. One reason for this is because cultivator licenses are skyrocketing as more growers secure multiple small licenses to create large cultivation facilities.
Between November and December 2018, five companies received 729 cultivator licenses, which equates to more than 16% of cultivator licenses granted during that time and nearly 11% of all licenses awarded during that time.
Those five companies are Coyote Hills Agricultural Enterprises (210 new licenses), White Light Farms (173 new licenses), BDZ, Inc. (134 new licenses), Iron Angel II, LLC (133 new licenses), and Busy Bee’s Organics (79 new licenses).
Distributor Licenses Saw the Most Growth in Late 2018
While new cultivator licenses grew by the largest quantity during November and December 2018, new distributor licenses saw the largest growth jump over the previous 10 months of the year.
The number of new distributor licenses issued in December and November 2018 was nearly double the amount granted in the previous 10 months. Manufacturer licenses issued increased by 188%, cultivator licenses by 178%, testing licenses by 68%, and retailer/dispensary licenses by 58%.
What’s Next for California’s Cannabis License Holders?
California has stopped issuing temporary cannabis licenses, and throughout 2019, many of the temporary licenses awarded during 2018 will expire. Each of these temporary licenses will need to become provisional and/or annual licenses in order for the license holders to stay active in California’s cannabis industry.
A few months in 2019 stand out as ones to watch because a large number of temporary licenses will expire. In March, 1,559 licenses will expire. In April, the number of expiring licenses jumps to 4,731, and in July, another 2,453 temporary licenses will expire. During other nine months of 2019, the number of licenses that will expire ranges from three licenses in October to 682 licenses in May.
Clearly, the story of cannabis licensing in California is far from over, and the Cannabiz Media team will be watching closely and tracking all of it in the Cannabiz Media License Database. Follow the link to see more data and insights related to license growth in California during the last two months of 2018 .
Ed Keating is a co-founder of Cannabiz Media and oversees our data research and government relations efforts. He has spent his whole career working with and advising information companies in the compliance space. Ed has overseen complex multijurisdictional product lines in the securities, corporate, UCC, safety, environmental and human resource markets and focuses on workflow products. Ed has spent the last twenty five years in the information industry. During that time he has worked for both startup and established information companies where he has led marketing, product management and sales organizations. These companies include Wolters Kluwer/Commerce Clearing House, CT Corporation, EDGAR Online and Business & Legal Reports. At Cannabiz Media Ed enjoys the challenge of working with regulators across the country as he and his team gather corporate, financial, and license information to track the people, products and businesses in the cannabis economy. Ed graduated from Hamilton College and received his MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. He has been active with the Software & Information Industry Association for his whole career and managed the Content Division for six years. He’s was recently a Trustee at the Country School in Madison CT and a Little League Coach for seven years.
Member Blog: Advice for Surviving and Thriving in the New Era of Legal Cannabis From Those Who Have Climbed The Mountain (Part 1)
Look to the past to see the future
The challenges facing companies pioneering a new industry where each state deals with its own issues are numerous. The importance of strategic business planning and the ability to predict future problems are essential to survival. Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have each dealt with their unique issues and challenges but there are also common problems that every cannabis business experiences: burdensome regulation, unfair taxation, and banking prohibition to name a few. Building your company and brand is dependent on your ability to maneuver your company through the obstacles that will arise in your state market while also planning for a future of legal interstate commerce through a change in federal policy. To place your company in a position to be successful, you should understand the past to predict the future.
Quick Summary of Cannabis History
The history of cannabis is long and distorted, however a few basic points of what brought us to the current state of federal prohibition and individual state markets should be noted for context.
Cannabis use as medicine dates back to 2700 BC in China, and has been used throughout history. In 1850, it was added to the U.S. Pharmacopeia. Prior to state and then Federal prohibition, cannabis was an elixir/tincture used in many common household cough/cold syrups and other medications for stomach-aches, asthma, depression, and many others. In the 1930s, cannabis was regulated as a drug in all states, and in 1937, the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act regulated it federally. Then in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act determined cannabis to be a Schedule 1 drug meaning it has no medical benefit and a high risk for abuse. From 1970 to 1996 the manufacture, use, or possession of cannabis was illegal in all fifty states.
In 1996, California became the first state to legalize the medical use of cannabis through Proposition 215. California was the first domino to fall and further background of the early days of California medical cannabis will be addressed in later blogs in this series focusing on California. Over the next twenty years, 37 states have joined California with medically legal cannabis, and nine states have passed and implemented legal “recreational” (now referred to as “adult use”) cannabis programs.
Oregon was the second state to pass medical cannabis in 1998 and that was the start of this author’s journey through the cannabis industry. Prior to 1998, Oregon had been a bastion of black market cannabis cultivation due to its climate and wide open spaces especially in rural southern and eastern Oregon. After 1998, the state “protections” offered by medical cannabis state law allowed the cultivation industry to flourish. However, as opposed to California the state was more focused on growing weed and selling it around the country rather than setting up a distribution system to the medical patients of Oregon. This led to some of the early challenges of the medical cannabis program in Oregon. At this time, the Oregon population was relatively small compared to the state’s cannabis production. Oregon was on its way to being one of the largest cannabis producers in the country. But because cannabis was so easily accessible there was little effort put into a healthy distribution system to Oregon patients. Most patients either grew for themselves or had a designated “grower” and that is where I started in the industry.
OREGON: FORMATION OF RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS
As a nurse who had self medicated with cannabis for ADHD, I began growing for patients because I wanted to provide others with access to the amazing health benefits of cannabis. This was the common way most patients accessed their cannabis. There were no dispensaries when the program started and patients who didn’t have a grower were relegated to barter trade types of acquisition. In 2005, the Oregon Legislature allowed growers to be reimbursed for the cost of production and in 2010, the first dispensaries began to pop up. However, it wasn’t until 2012 that legal retail entities were allowed. This lack of a retail access point for patients was one of the first impediments to the program and allowed states like Colorado and California to take the mantel on progress of a robust program of medical cannabis distribution.
In 2000, Colorado became the sixth state to allow medical cannabis with Amendment 20. Its medical program remained low key until 2010 when the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code was created, which provided for licensing of production and retail establishments. This change was a giant step to the progress of cannabis legalization.
Colorado followed the early model presented in California and began implementing licensed retail establishments for card carrying medical cannabis patients. Retails stores began to flourish and this laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Adult Use program. In 2012, Colorado became the first state to legalize what was originally referred to as recreational cannabis now called “Adult Use” cannabis, which allowed the sales of cannabis to all adults aged twenty-one and older and the boom began. Colorado’s medical program developed into a rapidly growing Adult Use system and with the new federal guidance of the Cole Memo in 2013 canna-businesses began growing rapidly.
COLORADO: SEED TO SALE TRACKING
The primary language of the Cole Memo highlights a “robust tracking system” of all products produced and sold. The Cole Memo did not provide protections for cannabis businesses but provided guidance that helped assure businesses of some safety from federal interference. With the advent and implementation of a tracking system we could now be assured of where products came from and be able to track them back to their origin.
COLORADO: LAB TESTING
Once tracking was in place, lab testing for the safety of the consumer came to the forefront of industry progress. This was one of the first problems Colorado realized it had with its blossoming industry. As opposed to Oregon which required all products sold through its immature dispensary system since 2012, Colorado had not required lab testing of all its products until 2016 after several large quarantines and destruction of unsafe contaminated products. Many Colorado producers struggled with new pesticide regulations and was an early sticking point to growth of the industry. Over the first years of Adult Use cannabis program, Colorado struggled with the infancy of a brand new industry and how to regulate it and consequently, businesses suffered.
Other early challenges that the first legal state dealt with were allowable dosages and changes to dosing, as well packaging changes and the look of products, specifically how or if the products were attractive or marketed to children. The obstacles of a new industry most directly affect the businesses and their bottom lines. These are important points to consider when strategizing your business model and planning for inevitable changes to regulations. The time spent preparing for a system that will change will go a long way to ensuring for success.
Now let’s talk about Washington.
Washington was the third state to approve medical cannabis but had problems with implementation due to legislative issues. As multiple pieces of legislation were offered, adopted, and repealed, the lack of clarity prevented the medical cannabis industry from launching. Washington passed its adult use cannabis program at the same time as Colorado in 2012. In Washington, the two major obstacles the industry faced were licensing issues and taxes. A previously existing strong medical program in Colorado allowed for a seamless transition to an adult use program, but that was not present in Washington and this added to difficulties with implementing an adult use program.
Because the industry was just getting off the ground, both states relied on their medical programs as a foundation to the adult use. However, Washington’s medical program was murky and disorganized which lead to complications, Washington also limited licenses and put unfair taxes on the industry. These two factors aided in keeping the black market as the primary driver of the industry, rather than pulling people or businesses into a controlled, tracked, and regulated system.
280E TAX CODE
This provides a nice segue to one of the challenges all cannabis business face: unfair taxes in the 280E tax code. Internal Revenue Code section 280E specifically denies a deduction or credit for any expense in a business consisting of trafficking in illegal drugs “prohibited by Federal law or the law of any State in which such trade or business is conducted” which translates to only “Cost of Goods Sold” as the only deductible expenses. This means administrative costs, executive salaries, marketing and advertising, banking fees, etc., are non-deductible expenses for any cannabis business and subjects them to much higher taxes as most normal business deductions are prohibited. This challenge is one all cannabis businesses deal with and must be factored into financial modeling.
While we are on the the subject of taxes and non-allowable deductions, banking is the other major challenge all cannabis businesses face. Due to federal policy around an illegal substance, FDIC insured institutions force canna-businesses to operate in all cash for fear of prosecution under racketeering and money laundering laws. There are a handful of financial institutions, credit unions, or state banks that offer “Enhanced Monitoring Accounts” for cannabis companies. However, they are highly priced and rare. The average cannabis bank account is likely to run $1,000.00 a month, just to have access to banking services, not including additional fees. This $12,000 a year budget line item, while not only expensive, is not a tax write-off per 280E tax code.
One can quickly see from just these two major hurdles or challenges to the industry, normal operations can be difficult. These obstacles are not to be taken lightly; they can be addressed but it must be factored into operating procedures, financial planning/budgeting, and strategic vision.
NOW BACK TO STATE SPECIFIC ISSUES
As Washington and Colorado dealt with its issues, Oregon voted to approve “Adult Use” cannabis in 2014. Using Colorado and Washington as a guide, Oregon implemented their system with more deliberation and vision based on what had been experienced in the first two states. But as was seen with the unique challenges in the first two states, Oregon encountered an entirely different set of problems. Oregon currently faces a massive oversupply problem which has affected all facets of business across the industry. In normal business and supply and demand economics, if an area is oversupplied, business move their products to where the demand is higher or the supply is lower. However, cannabis remains a federally illegal product and therefore interstate commerce remains illegal.
Oregon’s unique problem originated from two main issues:
- Oregon had already established itself as a cultivation mecca
- The regulatory authority decided against a cap on licenses
This lack of license caps has allowed the number of licensees to explode and thereby allowed the oversupply issue to occur and continue to grow. As stated, this is not a problem exclusive to cultivator/producers. Because of a 75% drop in value, cannabis attorneys, electricians, HVAC, security companies and other ancillary businesses are not getting paid. The oversupplied market and decreased revenue has reverberated across the industry and driven otherwise thriving companies into bankruptcy.
As you can see, each state deals with its unique challenges when implementing its Adult Use cannabis program, while we all deal with some issues that affect us all. The key to thriving… or surviving is to prepare your company to deal with the current challenges shared by us all and predict the challenges that your business will face in your state while preparation is taken for a national and international market.
James Schwartz RN, BSN, LNC, is an experienced medical legal consultant and CEO of CascadeHigh Organics with 20 years experience cultivating legal cannabis. James is a self-described organic minimalist cultivating in the most sustainable manner. James believes in clean cannabis and its use as a wellness drug. His Oregon licensed cultivation, Cascade High, has been featured in Dope Magazine and on the cover of Oregon Leaf’s Sustainability issue (March ‘18). James was featured as the Inaugural Stoner Owner by OR Leaf in Dec 2018. He has articles published by Dope Magazine about Cannabusiness and the Pharmaceutical Industry (May 2017), as well as a medical cannabis article in the Jan. 2019 Healthcare issue of OR Leaf. James is currently on the NCIA Cannabis Cultivation Committee and has presented Cannabis topics to multiple audiences at conferences including Cannabis Science Conference, PDX Hempfest, Cannabiz Convention, CBD Expo and Webinar series, Cannabis Collaborative Conference(CCC), Cannabis Nurse Conference, NCIA and educational industry mixers. His business, legal, medical, and agricultural knowledge provides a unique perspective on the industry. James has lobbied for Cannabis on both the national and state level with Oregon Cannabis Association and is a fierce advocate for the plant and all who use it.
Member Blog: Federal Authorities’ Current Position On Cannabis In 2019
Marijuana is anything but boring. And the politics of cannabis gets more and more interesting by the minute. On the tails of the 2018 Farm Bill signed into law, as we predicted, hemp-derived CBD leads as the most controversial subject in the pot trade. Politicians and lawmakers are divided. Federal government agencies, like state agencies, have separate and distinct enforcement and regulatory authority which lends itself to polar opposite view points.
U.S. Attorney General Nominee William Barr Takes A Favorable 360º Turn
In less than a month since the Act was signed into law, we have the nominated Attorney General William Barr taking a 360 from former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In Senate confirmation hearings just recently, newly appointed Attorney General William Barr stated that he would “not go after” marijuana businesses operating in states where cannabis is legal. Barr reasoned that companies relied on the Obama-era Cole Memo (which Jeff Sessions rescinded) that kept federal authorities at bay from criminal prosecutions under Federal law. We are all aware Federal law prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana. A new bill was introduced into Congress last Friday that would revive the relaxed Cole Memo enforcement guidelines.
USFDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb Announces CBD Product Sales Illegal
In stark contrast, USFDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a press release statement and didn’t mince words. Gottlieb expressly stated that introducing CBD/THC food products into interstate commerce is illegal “regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived” – as we predicted and discussed in previous blogs. Despite the FDA’s foreseeable regulatory posture, we continue to believe there remains the open question:
“Can you produce and sell CBD food products – marijuana or hemp-derived – so long as you do not tout its medicinal benefits? A question that has yet to be specifically addressed by lawmakers. Ironically, the states’ legalization of marijuana all began with medical marijuana because of its medicinal benefits as an alternative treatment.”
Commissioner Gottlieb’s FDA Statement does not answer this question.
Stay Tuned – We’re Staying On Top Of Cannabis Politics For You
An experienced corporate litigator having worked in both the private and government sectors, Attorney Robyn Ranke has taken a modern business approach to the cannabis industry and in working with cannabis business startups. Throughout her legal career, Robyn has represented a diverse base of business clientele in a variety of industries involving both complex and novel legal matters. Her diverse experience as a business litigator provides a valuable legal platform from which she is uniquely postured to address the regulatory hurdles, costly pitfalls, unique business transactions, and business litigation risks that confront California cannabis business owners today and into the future as state regulations continue to evolve.
Committee Blog: California Permanent Regs Roundup
As 2018 came to an end, the FINAL proposed text of the permanent regulations for California cannabis were submitted to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) by the three regulatory agencies – the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC). The cannabis regulations submitted to the OAL are currently undergoing a 30-day administrative review to ensure alignment with MAUCRSA and statutory requirements. These “final’ regulations shall become effective immediately upon approval/adoption which should be on/before January 16 th 2019.
What “final” means in this evolutionary process of California cannabis regulations is debatable, as there are already several Assembly and Senate bills queued up to be put through the legislative tango and all three of the regulatory agencies have indicated that there will be further clean-ups and clarifications of the “permanent” regulations. Although there will assuredly be changes ahead, this is a highlight reel of where California Cannabis stands now .
For those that dug into the October redrafts, much of the substantial changes that occurred in that version carried over into the final proposed text. Here we will highlight the top eight changes impacting cannabis businesses in California.
The Final Statement of Reasons from the BCC, which also included responses to pertinent comments received during the previous 15- and 45-day comment periods, is where some greater clarity about the regulatory changes and intents can be found. It is by spelunking into these deeper caverns of reasoning where the sweet ore of further clarity can sometimes be extracted.
Here are 8 highlights for anyone interested in California cannabis.
1. Ownership and Financially Interested Parties
In October we saw the expansion of the definition of ownership and financially interested parties that clearly sought to capture the identification of any and all warm bodies that stand to direct, control, or financially benefit from commercial cannabis. While there were some changes in sections §5003 and §5004 between the previous and current version, the scope and intent remained the same. One particularly vague line §5003.b.6.D “Any individual who assumes responsibility for the license.” was removed from the BCC’s definition of owner, this very line turned up over the in the CDPH’s update in §40102.a.4.D.
The Ownership and Financially Interested Parties disclosures dovetail into the White Labeling issues (See #2) in that “Brand Owners” that may be licensing IP to contract manufacturers have been impacted by the prohibition on non-licensees conducting commercial cannabis business with licensees. In the response to comments in the FSOR was this gem of insight, “In response to commenter’s questions, if a licensee includes as one of their owners a brand-owner, the licensee can produce the branded products because in this case the licensee is not engaged in commercial cannabis activity on behalf of an unlicensed person. Because the owner of the brand is an owner of the licensee, there is no unlicensed person involved.” Of course, before everyone runs off and adds brand-owners as owners of their contract manufacturing business, let’s take a moment to reflect on the value and critical importance of a well-drafted contract.
2. §5032 (b) The So-Called “White Label Prohibition”
- 5032.b shall go down in infamy as one of the more talked-about sections of the BCC’s regulations. This simple sentence, “Licensees shall not conduct commercial cannabis activities on behalf of, at the request of, or pursuant to a contract with any person that is not licensed under the Act,” brought with it a level of confusion and white-hot panic regarding the inferred white label prohibition contained therein. October’s version had more explanatory examples for the types of “on behalf of, at the request of, or pursuant to” activities that the BCC was talking about, such as, “procuring or purchasing cannabis goods from a licensed cultivator or licensed manufacturer. Manufacturing cannabis goods according to the specifications of a non-licensee, Packaging and labeling cannabis goods under a non-licensee’s brand or according to the specifications of a non-licensee, Distributing cannabis goods for a non-licensee.” This language was removed in the final version submitted to the OAL and is one of the examples of where the FSOR is enlightening.
From the BCC’s FSOR: “Initially, the Bureau determined that it was necessary to assist licensees with determining what types of activities may or may not be allowed under the Act and its implementing regulations. The initial proposed change identified certain transactions that would generally be considered commercial cannabis activities under the Act. However, the Bureau has determined that inclusion of the clarifying example transactions is causing more confusion. Accordingly, the Bureau has decided not to move forward with the proposed changes which identify examples of specific commercial cannabis transactions.” The definition of “commercial cannabis activities,” therefore, is an important one, and we can refresh ourselves on that one (Business and Professions Code §26001.k) “‘ Commercial cannabis activity’ includes the cultivation, possession, manufacture, distribution, processing, storing, laboratory testing, packaging, labeling, transportation, delivery or sale of cannabis and cannabis products as provided for in this division.”
This has been a hot, hot topic, and there have been some great analysis articles of this provision that dig further into solutions and scenarios related to this section. Get thee to Google and find out more!
3. Option to label THC/CBD post-final testing by Distributor
This was a big win for the industry! A substantial percentage of testing failures for “label claims” are due to products, previously required to be labeled with THC/CBD content prior to final testing (the one test that counts!) not falling within the 10% allowable variance threshold. It’s common knowledge that the science of cannabinoid testing is still getting dialed in, and the labs have some serious challenges in hitting the same tiny target twice. Especially when they are dealing with the vast array of cannabis product matrices, and an industry that it still learning about important things such as homogenization . The good news is, the CDPH now allows products to be labeled for THC/CBD content after that all-important final test, which should eliminate well-upwards of 50% of the product failures in California and ensure a steadier supply chain.
4. Regulation of Technology Platforms
The cannabis industry has always been a place of innovation and loophole-finding. These regulations are an attempt to close some of those loopholes that seem to have created a situation where unlicensed tech platforms were enjoying the privileges of licensed commercial cannabis without undergoing the slings and arrows of local/state licensure and regulation. Seeing themselves outside of the regulatory purview, certain business claimed that agencies such as the BCC had no dominion over their activities. Well, they may have wanted to wait until the ink dried on the final regs before making such an assertion, as now it seems the BCC has expanded its reach to embrace all kinds of advertising, facilitating, and delivery platforms.
5. Delivery to a Physical Address
This was (potentially) a huge win for patient access, however, it remains to be seen how this truly shakes out. When the BCC added the line that “a delivery employee may deliver to any jurisdiction within the State of California” it caused some serious outrage from municipalities that have banned commercial cannabis activity, the League of Cities, law enforcement, and others that saw this as a huge overstepping of the local authority ensured by Prop 64 and MAUCRSA. The LOC even launched a “wandering weed” campaign, in response to which it seems that a subsection that includes “a restriction on delivering cannabis goods to a school providing instruction in kindergarten or any grades 1 through 12, day care center, or youth center” was added to the regulations, for clarity. Whether the OAL will approve as is, and how this interacts with local bans, tax requirements, and law enforcement, and lawsuits… stay tuned! While the BPC (§26090.e & 26080.b) explicitly prohibits a local jurisdiction from preventing delivery, and transportation, of cannabis goods on public roads, it does not prevent localities that have banned commercial cannabis in their area from adopting ludicrous tax rates for deliveries that would in effect ban via taxation delivery in their area.
6. Sale of Non-Cannabis Goods (aka No Hemp)
While the seeming victory of the Farm Bill has folks leaping with joy for the future of hemp, statements from the FDA and other agencies have certainly rained on the parade of many a CBD vendor. Add to that the collections of California cannabis regulations that in effect eliminate hemp-derived CBD from cannabis dispensaries and products.
“In addition to cannabis goods, a licensed retailer may sell only cannabis accessories and any licensee’s branded merchandise.” (BCC §5407)
This limitation for retail (and retail delivery) is further clarified in the BCC’s FSOR in their responses to comments:
“Cannabis retailers are licensed to sell cannabis goods. The definition of cannabis within the Act explicitly excludes industrial hemp products. Industrial hemp is regulated by the California Industrial Hemp Program under the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act.”
“A retail license from the Bureau authorizes the retailer to sell cannabis goods and cannabis accessories. A retail license from the Bureau does not authorize licensees to sell items that are unrelated to cannabis.”
Combined with the retail prohibition on non-cannabis products, this trifecta from the CDPH extends that prohibition to manufacturers:
- “A manufacturer licensee shall only use cannabinoid concentrates and extracts that are manufactured or processed from cannabis obtained from a licensed cannabis cultivator.” (CDPH §40175.c)
- “Except for cannabis, cannabis concentrate, or terpenes, no product ingredient or component shall be used in the manufacture of an edible cannabis product unless that ingredient or component is permitted by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in food or food manufacturing, as specified in Everything Added to Food in the United States, or is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.” (CDPH §40305.a) iii. “Except for cannabis, cannabis concentrate, or terpenes, topical cannabis products shall only contain ingredients permitted for cosmetic manufacturing in accordance with Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 700, subpart B (section 700.11 et seq.) (Rev. March 2016), which is hereby incorporated by reference.” (CDPH §40306.a)
For now, it seems, non-cannabis derived CBD is DOA in CA.
7. Child Resistant Packaging (CRP) Requirement
Heads continue to spin (and cannabis business’ cash to hemorrhage) in response to the changes in the packaging requirements. As of July 1, 2018, all cannabis products were to be in child-resistant packaging, and retailers had converted back to the statutory requirement that all exit packaging was to be “opaque,” allowing them to use reusable totes and paper bags to satisfy this requirement. In the October regs, we saw a pivot that allowed for a seeming “grace period” for the child-resistant requirement to return to being able to be satisfied by the retail via CR exit bag. Some confusion remained as to whether products that were already IN child-resistant packaging would have to be put INSIDE of child-resistant packaging for the next year. The addition of the statement from the CDPH, “Until the date specified [1/1/20] the child-resistant package requirement [§26120] may be met through the use of a child-resistant exit package at retail sale.” (CDPH §40417.d) suggests that the significant ecological impact of CR packaging within CR packaging MAY be avoided, however, most legal counsel will probably be advising retail clients to use the CR exit bag to avoid potential liabilities. Viva Kafka!
In the CDPH’s Statement of Reasons, they said “ This is necessary to comply with the packaging requirements in Business and Professions Code section 26120 while providing licensees with time to comply with packaging requirements.” Compliant operators were left somewhat confused, as they had been required to comply with these packaging requirements since July!
8. OSHA Training for Everyone!
All three regulatory agencies added the following requirement for OSHA training:
“For an applicant with more than one employee , the applicant shall attest that the applicant employs, or will employ within one year of receiving a license, one supervisor and one employee who have successfully completed a Cal-OSHA 30-hour general industry outreach course offered by a training provider that is authorized by an OSHA Training Institute Education Center to provide the course.”
This will be an additional training requirement, on top of existing state and local training requirements for cannabis operators. And remember, all that training documentation must be kept, like all other records, for seven years!
As with everything in life, more will be revealed as we get deeper into 2019.
Juli Crockett is a member of the NCIA’s State Regulations Committee and is Director of Compliance at MMLG. Slides from Juli’s recent Workshop on this topic are available for download here . You can also watch the workshop video in its entirety on MMLG’s Facebook page .
Member Blog: Tax Court Decision for Harborside Health Center
by James Mann and Rachel Gillette, Attorneys at Greenspoon Marder LLP
The Tax Court’s recent decision in Harborside Health Center v. Commissioner is more bad news for the cannabis business community. The taxpayer, a prominent California dispensary, was assessed approximately an additional $30 million in tax by the IRS for the years 2007 to 2012, years in which Harborside had total revenue of approximately $102 million. Harborside lost, so it will have to pay that amount plus also pay another 20% of the tax owed in accuracy-related penalties – the Tax Court did not decide the penalty issue and left it for a later opinion. At this point, Harborside can either pay the tax (plus possibly penalties) or appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
GROUNDS OF THE DECISION
The court decided against Harborside on every single argument made by its counsel. Three of the issues are straightforward:
- The doctrine of res judicata didn’t apply, so the fact that a civil forfeiture case against Harborside had been dismissed with prejudice did not prevent the IRS from assessing a tax liability.
- The language in Section 280E of the Tax Code that deductions are disallowed to a trade or business that “consists of trafficking in controlled substances” applies to businesses that have more than the one activity of trafficking. Harborside argued that “consists of” means the business must ONLY be trafficking for the disallowance to apply, and the Tax Court rejected that interpretation.
- Harborside had only one trade or business so it could not deduct any expenses related to a separate trade or business. The taxpayer had argued it had multiple lines of business, but the opinion held that Harborside didn’t make significant profits from any of the other claimed lines of business so there was only one business.
MOST IMPORTANT CONSEQUENCE OF DECISION
The holding in the case that has the widest applicability to the cannabis community regards what Harborside may include in its cost of goods sold. The increase in tax owed by Harborside mostly comes from reclassifying expenses from cost of goods sold to ordinary business expenses and then denying deductions for those expenses under Tax Code Section 280E.
The taxpayer argued that the broader cost of goods sold rules under Code Section 263A applied in addition to the earlier (and narrower) definition of cost of goods sold under Section 471 However, the Tax Court endorsed the reasoning in IRS Chief Counsel Advice Memorandum 201504011 (2015) regarding the interaction of Section 263A and Section 471 with respect to cannabis-related cost of goods sold calculations. It is the IRS view that a clause of Section 263A prevents allocating indirect cannabis-related costs into cost of goods sold because the deduction for those costs would be denied under Section 280E.
Harborside contended that the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution compels using Section 263A rules in addition to the Section 471 cost of goods sold rules. The Tax Court was very dismissive of the argument, pointing out that “Section 471 wasn’t found unconstitutional during the many decades when it was the only means of calculating COGS [cost of goods sold], and it wouldn’t be unconstitutional now if Congress repealed Section 263A.”
It is also worth noting that the Tax Court held that Harborside was a reseller, not a producer, and that producers are subject to a different set of regulations under Section 471 that allow additional expenses to be included in cost of goods sold.
Harborside is important because it is the first Tax Court case to squarely address the interaction between Sections 263A and 471 in the context of a cannabis business. However, there are other courts that can hear federal tax cases besides the Tax Court, and there are other arguments that can be made besides the one made by taxpayer’s counsel (even in Tax Court). While the best option for relief for cannabis taxpayers is to change the law, even if the law is changed, there will still be years of audits under the current law, so the questions raised by the Harborside decision will continue to be litigated. For further discussion, please see our blog on our website.
James B. Mann is a partner with the Tax practice group of Greenspoon Marder LLP. Mr. Mann has over 25 years of experience serving as a trusted advisor to a broad range of stakeholders in the energy and financial services industries. He counsels clients on the new changes in the tax law, as well as cannabis tax issues and cannabis tax controversy proceedings. Mr. Mann has a law degree from Harvard Law School and an MBA from Columbia University.
Rachel Gillette is among the first attorneys in the nation to dedicate her practice to the cannabis industry. Since 2010, Ms. Gillette has helped marijuana/cannabis businesses with licensing and regulatory compliance, business law and transactions, contract drafting and review, tax litigation, corporate formation, and tax matters, including audit representation. She works with startups and entrepreneurs, investors, and ancillary industry businesses to help develop the cannabis innovation ecosystem, and is a zealous advocate for the industry.
Ms. Gillette regularly represents clients before the IRS’s Examinations, Appeals, and Collections Divisions, including marijuana businesses facing the challenges of IRS adjustments under 280E. She has successfully protested local, state and federal tax deficiencies on behalf of her clients, having prevented hundreds of thousands of dollars in incorrectly assessed taxes, interest, and penalties. She can assist individual and business taxpayers in 280E proposed assessments, offers in compromise, audit examinations, innocent spouse claims, sales, use, and employment tax matters, trust fund tax penalty assessments, penalty abatement’s, and levy releases.
For several years, Ms. Gillette was the executive director of the Colorado state chapter of NORML, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. She was a founding member of Women Grow and the National Cannabis Bar Association. She an advocate as well as an attorney, and is committed to helping change laws – and perceptions – relating to cannabis and ensuring state licensed and legal marijuana businesses are fairly taxed and regulated.
Ms. Gillette received her Juris Doctorate from the Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, Connecticut, where she served as Associate Editor of the Quinnipiac University Probate Law Journal. During law school, she interned with the New Haven Public Defender’s office, where she developed her commitment to advocacy for those facing the many challenges of the criminal justice system.
Allied Association Blog: Nevada County Cannabis Alliance Update
The Nevada County Cannabis Alliance is a trade association in California whose mission is to Advocate, Educate, and Connect. The Alliance advocates for reasonable local policies and a fair county ordinance. We believe in empowering community success through education, and connecting stakeholders with opportunities to participate and collaborate in the industry.
Nevada County has a renowned history of heritage cannabis cultivation that has played a crucial role in the community and economy over the past decades. Our community is well known for high quality, craft cannabis farming as well as for our unique quality of homesteading life. The Alliance seeks collaborations with organizations that value high quality, craft, California cannabis, grown by farmers with a unique history and story.
What issues are we working on?
- Completing the comprehensive Environmental Impact Report necessary prior to the final completion of our local cannabis ordinance.
- Providing essential education to the farmers throughout the regulatory transitions to assist with permitting and licensing.
- Developing relationships with distributors and partners to bring our farmers to market.
One challenge we face as a member based organization is maintaining and continuing to grow our membership numbers. The quintessential financial sustainability quagmire. Ever changing regulations and market uncertainty has caused reluctance from many small farmers. The Alliance works hard to reinvigorate and provide hope throughout the local cannabis community, but the reality is that there has been a decline in membership. Maintaining and continuing to grow our membership numbers, business sponsorships and financial stability is a constant need in order to continue working for a thriving cannabis industry for our region.
Another challenge is connecting our small- batch (10,000 sq ft farmers) into the supply chain with distributors who are interested in craft product.
What’s happening that’s important?
- Ensuring that permitted local farms have access to the market via various distribution channels.
- Decreasing barriers to entry for farmers within our local policy and ordinances. For example, local farmers are restricted to holding only 3 cultivation permits and local farmers also MUST have a permitted residence on the land to which they farm cannabis.
What advice or education do you have for others?
To counties that may still have complete cultivation bans, hang in there. Policy work is thankless, not pretty, and not why anyone began farming and living off of the land. Celebrate each and every small victory and step in the right direction, they truly add up. It is crucial for the greater community to support those that are willing to do the policy work and for there to be consistent representation with local officials. These relationships are everything, so continue to build bridges and nurture every community relationship. Nevada County worked its way out of a 2016 ban and we will be home to a thriving cannabis community and industry. It is important to organize and show strength in numbers.
Wrapping Up 2018 Cannabis Caucus Events, Introducing New 2019 Events!
October marked the last NCIA events of the year with Cannabis Caucus events in eight regions nationwide and an outstanding 2nd Annual California Cannabis Business Conference in Anaheim, California. As this year’s events comes to a close, we have so much to reflect on and exciting new events to announce!
During this quarter’s Cannabis Caucus events, more than 400 NCIA members, representing 250 member companies, totaling in more than 750 attendees turned out for our eight events nationwide. This means that although these events are growing increasingly popular, they are still small enough to make meaningful connections with other industry leaders in your region. Instead of just making small talk with someone in passing, you’ll get to to have real conversations with some of the most influential leaders in the industry. Year after year, we hear about people striking business partnerships, friendships and impactful connections at these events because they offer the time, space and opportunity to do so.
In the industry’s largest markets, Northern California, Southern California, and Colorado, more than 100 industry professionals turned out at each event. But, perhaps most impressive was the 75 plus attendance in the Midwest, maybe a harbinger of the positive momentum garnered by statewide reform initiatives in this year’s midterm elections!
Cannabis Caucus Highlights
A the Northeast event, attendees heard the latest news surrounding medical cannabis in Maine from State Sen. Eric Brakey (R-District 20), as well as Maine’s adult-use cannabis laws from David Boyer, Maine Political Director at Marijuana Policy Project.
The event in Northern California featured special guest speaker Heidi Mattos, a payroll tax specialist from the State of California Employment & Development Department, who shared critical insights into state payroll tax regulations. In Southern California, we heard a special presentation on “Understanding California Agricultural Labor Laws As It Relates to Cannabis Cultivators” from guest speaker Eduardo Blanco, Special legal Advisor from the CA Agricultural Labor Relations Board.
The Southwest event featured Ryan Black, Campaign Co-Chair for Anita Malik, Candidate for Arizona’s Congressional District 6, discussing federal cannabis reform. Lastly, in the Pacific Northwest, Lara Kaminsky, Executive Director of The Cannabis Alliance (an NCIA Allied Association), spoke about the latest developments in Washington state’s cannabis industry, including the current status of the edibles product ban.
What Makes NCIA Regional Events Unique
As the largest national trade association in the U.S. and the only organization representing more than 1,700 cannabis-related businesses at the national level, we have pretty deep connections. We know that 70 percent of the individuals who attend our regional events have executive level decision-making authority and 30 percent have heavy decision-making influence. All of this is to say that the caliber of the meaningful connections you will make have the potential to benefit your business in very real ways and quickly.
We also know that these boutique events are frequently attended by industry pioneers and dedicated policy reform advocates, the movers and shakers of the industry, who have helped support the movement for decades. Repeatedly, we hear from event attendees that these events are their favorite because of the quality of the event, the attendees and the sense of community and camaraderie they foster.
What’s Next? NCIA’s New 2019 Regional Event Series Announced
NCIA has just published the 2019 event calendar! Due to popular demand for even more regional networking opportunities nationwide, NCIA is launching two new regional event series in 2019: Industry Socials and Harvest Celebrations and refreshing our well-known Cannabis Caucus Series.
NCIA’s Industry Socials are about cultivating regional communities of industry professionals, so that they can connect and learn from each other. Cultivating community is the most effective way to strengthen our industry and your business. Touring five cities in the West Coast, East Coast and Heartland regions, NCIA’s Industry Socials are the premier opportunity for cannabis professionals to harness NCIA’s extensive national network by creating meaningful connections with each other and with NCIA staff in a relaxed cocktail setting. Join us to expand your network and cultivate our community! Tickets to Industry Socials are complimentary to NCIA members and only $25 to non-members. Registration opens for the West Coast Tour on November 27!
NCIA’s Harvest Celebrations will be hosted in five cities in October to honor the cannabis harvesting season and celebrate the continued growth of our industry! Proceeds from NCIA’s inaugural Harvest Celebration events will foster support for NCIA’s federal lobbying work on behalf of businesses serving the industry and the industry at-large.
In light of these new 2019 NCIA events, we also have exciting new sponsorship opportunities to offer! Download the 2019 Event Sponsorship Deck or contact us for more information. Consider this your opportunity to get your brand in front of thousands of new businesses in diverse regions nationwide.
Member Spotlight: RoseRyan
In this month’s member spotlight we caught up with Maureen Ryan of RoseRyan, a finance and accounting consulting firm based in Silicon Valley that officially launched its cannabis solution this April. Finance is the language of business, and her firm, since 1993, has helped hundreds of companies get their financial house in order, efficiently and effectively, so they can go further, faster. Passionate about women in business and excited for the racial equity that she sees in the cannabis field, Maureen believes her firm’s best practices and proven approach are a match for many emerging growth companies in our field. To learn more about finance fundamentals, tune into our conversation with her colleagues that we hosted on the NCIA podcast on June 12.
Cannabis Industry Sector:
Finance & Accounting for emerging growth companies and large enterprises
NCIA Sponsoring Member Since:
Tell me a bit about your background and why you launched your company?
My career at RoseRyan has mostly centered around the finance needs of fast-moving tech companies. That changed a couple of years ago after working with a cannabis biotech company and loving it. Around the same time, our consulting firm saw signs that recreational cannabis was headed for legalization in California, and it was then that we realized many cannabis companies of all sizes were going to need the kind of professional finance and accounting support that we offer.
Our focus on the high tech and life sciences markets here in Silicon Valley has put us in tune with the needs of companies that move rapidly and that need to work with government agencies to get their products market ready — much like the cannabis industry. We’ve responded with a specialized solution that will take cannabis companies further, faster.
What unique value does your company offer to the cannabis industry?
From working with fast-moving Silicon Valley companies for 25 years now, we’ve been able to apply our expertise and best practices to the cannabis market quickly and easily.
In addition, we know what investors want. Whether they are private equity or venture capital players, investors want a rational strategic plan, timely, reliable and accurate financials and a solid budgeting framework, just to name a few. Given the current cannabis environment with Canada, these expectations have become even more critical for companies to meet.
From working with over 275 life sciences companies through the years, we also know how to relate to government agencies, like the FDA. And from working with over 325 tech companies to date, we have experiences with helping companies scale fast, in a variety of business situations.
In a nutshell, we help cannabis companies get their financial house in order. Finance is the language of business, so companies absolutely need to get it right. No matter where they are in the business lifecycle — when starting up, growing at high velocity, tackling a tricky transaction or maturing as an ongoing enterprise—cannabis companies need to have their finance function tightly managed for ultimate success.
Our Cannabis Solution offers four levels of finance: 1) a rapid diagnostic review, 2) an outsourced CFO and accounting team to strategize and set up all the essential financial systems and processes, 3) partner referrals to build up or build out a trusted ecosystem, and 4) financial prep for potential merger and acquisition transactions.
Is cannabis that much different when it comes to finance and accounting?
Frankly, no. Let’s face it, when companies are starting out, their books are typically a mess, whether you’re talking about cannabis companies or companies in any other industry. Business leaders are typically not focused on their finance operations — they have so many other parts of the business to attend to, and we get that.
Many of the same business situations that happen to tech and life sciences companies are happening to those in the cannabis market. They’re dealing in the early stage with worries about survival and running on fumes, before they’re able to fundraise and determine their top investments for growth. When the business reaches velocity or even hypergrowth, they have careful decisions to make. Opportunities for a major transformation can spring up, like an IPO or a merger or acquisition. Every industry has their nuances, but many of the business situations that CFOs and accounting teams face are similar in nature.
Cannabis companies have a unique responsibility to shape this growing industry to be socially responsible and advocate for it to be treated fairly. How does your company help work toward that goal for the greater good of the cannabis industry?
We recognize that women and people of color are heavily involved in this industry, which we love. As a woman-owned business, we support and promote the further advancement of diversity. We also find that working with cannabis companies to professionalize their financial operations helps the entire industry, as it creates a stronger, leveled up playing field for their business interactions. A strong finance function is essential for cannabis companies to raise funds. It’s imperative for their valuation, should an IPO, merger or acquisition transaction arise in the future. Accurate financials and tight operations are a direct reflection on the experience of the management team and, to a larger extent, the industry as a whole.
What kind of challenges do you face in the industry and what solutions would you like to see?
If a cannabis company lacks best practices in their essential finance operations, they’re going to run into trouble when dealing with hypergrowth situations. It happens with founders in every field—they’re passionate about their businesses yet many struggle to keep the business running at today’s standards. This is a challenge for any cannabis company that has blinders on and only seeks advice from other cannabis companies or experts who focus on just one industry.
What’s needed is a crystal clear understanding of the critical aspects of a company’s finances, or strategic decisions will be off-base because they don’t have accurate data on hand. Cannabis companies also risk a slowdown if they’re missing a key partner at a critical time, such as valuation, tax, marketing or legal expertise.
We’d love to see cannabis companies absorb the best practices and talent from other explosive-growth industries that’s tailored to meet their exact needs. No need to pave a new trail when one exists already.
Why did you join NCIA? What’s the best part about being a member?
We joined NCIA to be part of the industry-leading association that is dedicated to the industry’s success. NCIA brings key players together, inspires community, shares best practices and keeps us up to date on the industry trends and news. We also like that NCIA is an active investor in cannabis companies. By being part of NCIA, we can stay informed and play a vital role in this burgeoning industry.
What’s it take to be successful in your business? In addition to the June podcast with NCIA on finance fundamentals with RoseRyan, you can check out the firm’s webinar for California-based businesses here: http://bit.ly/thepotthickens
Committee Blog: Progression in Packaging – Challenges & Opportunities for Cannabis Brands
Any visit to a licensed dispensary is proof of how far we’ve come with the packaging of legal cannabis. Sure, we still have plenty of standard glass jars, CR pouches, pop-tops and cans; but we also now see proprietary package structures, full branded lines commanding shelf space and packaging so beautiful it doubles as a merchandising tool. Just in the past several months, cannabis packaging design trends have been covered by mainstream media including The Dieline and Packaging Digest .
These are exciting times to say the least, but packaging and labeling remains at the crux of the serious challenges and opportunities that cannabis brands face today.
Keeping Up With Compliance
Here in California, the challenge of keeping up with compliance is beyond real. The race to meet state regs by July 1st were only met with a new set of checklists (literally) the following day. Added labels is the name of the game for any California supplier. This is a real problem for those brands who are trying to stand out with their packaging. Understandably, companies are hesitant to invest in their packaging when the regulations are still in flux. Those who are in this for the long haul need to be agile and forward thinking when it comes to packaging and labeling.
Branding… Because it Really Does Matter With limitations on how a brand can reach today’s cannasumer, packaging is a critical marketing tool. It’s the one guaranteed touchpoint we have, and just like in traditional retail environments, every second counts when trying to capture a shopper’s attention. While it’s tempting to go with the standard compliant packages, a lack of brand value will commoditize your product (and thus, the price point). Brands should ensure that their package is reflective of their unique position in the market. Whether it’s a regional play, a potency position or targeting the growing number of boomer consumers—your packaging should speak directly to who your target market is. Now is the time to create brand loyalists!
Taking a Note from Natural Products
All across retail industries, we are seeing a market demand for products that have a more “natural” approach. From clean ingredients to plant-based everything, it’s impossible to avoid this trend. As the OG natural product, cannabis brands have a real opportunity to take advantage of today’s more discerning shoppers. Tell your story, explain your growing practices, show us your social responsibility… It’s all part of the package, literally and figuratively.
A Need for Sustainable Solutions
To really take our natural story to the next level, we can all agree on the need for more sustainable options for packaging and labeling. It’s great to see some brands, companies, and organizations like W Vapes initiating recycling programs. But as an industry, we need to rally together to work on this issue. It’s definitely a challenge that NCIA’s Packaging and Labeling Committee discuss regularly.
An Optimistic Future for the Realists
For those cannabis brands who can be agile, patient and focused—there is a bright future ahead. Despite the challenges of cost and compliance, an effective package can pay for itself. And if other industries like food and beverage are integrating technologies beyond the QR code (think AR and VR), we’re just getting warmed up. As both in-store and retail experiences evolve, so will the opportunities for cannabis packaging. Form, function, technology and product development are bound to take packaging and labeling to exciting new heights.
Partner Blog: From Fashion Lifestyle to Cannabis – A Natural Move?
NCIA is giving away a limited number of tickets to the inaugural Hall of Flowers show happening next week in Santa Rosa. It’s shaping up to be one of the must-see B2B events in the cannabis space for premium brands and industry innovators, all thanks to the fashion and lifestyle industry vets running the show.
Hall of Flowers, set to take place September 17 and 18 at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds, is the brainchild of Dani Diamantstein, Rama Mayo, and Aaron Levant, three pioneers in the trade show space who have spent the past 15 years producing the most successful fashion and lifestyle trade shows in the world. It’s no surprise they meticulously understand what makes an experience like this worthwhile.
“There are a lot of brands that are flourishing and there are a lot of people focusing on the manufacturing and cultivation, while there are also people partnering with some in the fashion industry,” notes Diamantstein. “I see a lot of similarities between producing trade shows 10-15 years ago and right now within the cannabis space in terms of forging one on one personal relationships, cultivating trust, and exchanging new and creative ideas. This is the perfect time to launch this kind of show.”
The show will be open for two days of discovering, meeting, and tasting and industry pioneer and entrepreneur Gary Vee will be hosting a keynote on Monday end of day. The team has centered the show to be about the experience as a buyer, retailer, and distributor, and have brought together the best across branding, design, packaging innovation, and of course, product. This means some of the most in-demand brands within the cannabis industry will be on-site – over 80 of the leading CA licensed cannabis brands and 60% of CA’s licensed dispensaries are confirmed to attend.
“We’ve spent over 4 years producing this show, perfecting the logistics, regulations, and invite list so that our guests can show up and do what they do best,” says Diamantstein. “We want everyone to have a successful two days while also enjoying work.”
Visit this link and enter code ‘NCIA’ to confirm your complimentary ticket and attend as a guest of NCIA.
Follow @hall_of_flowers on Instagram for real time updates on confirmed brands and visit hallofflowers.com for additional information.
Committee Blog: California Regulations Public Comment Period Nears Close – Act Now!
Do you have views on the regulations that will govern California’s cannabis industry? If so, California’s window for the public to make comments on the proposed permanent industry regulations is about to draw to a close. But you don’t need to be an expert on arcane administrative procedure or even a lawyer to participate in the comment period. Keep reading to learn more about what is at stake and how to make sure your voice is heard.
Overview and Introduction to the Regulatory Process
On Friday, July 13, 2018, California’s three cannabis licensing agencies (the Bureau of Cannabis Control , or “BCC”; the Department of Food and Agriculture , or “CDFA”; and the Department of Public Health , or “CDPH”) released their much-anticipated proposed permanent regulations for cannabis businesses pursuant to the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act . This began the 45-day public comment period of the regular rule-making process. During this time, the public has a chance to review and comment on the proposed regulations, and the agencies must consider these comments and may make changes based on this feedback.
Below are links to the proposed regulations and the summary sheets released by the agencies:
Currently, cannabis businesses in California are operating under emergency regulations that were originally adopted in December 2017 and re-adopted (with a few changes) in June 2018. The emergency regulations will stay in effect until the regular rule-making process is complete and the final regulations have been formally adopted at the end of this year.
In addition to publishing the proposed regulations, the agencies also each published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Action (NPRM), which contains various information about the proposed rules such as a summary of existing law and who to contact with questions and comments. The agencies were also each required to publish an Initial Statement of Reasons (ISOR), which contains the agencies’ reasoning and basis behind why they crafted a rule the way they did.
You can find the agencies’ NPRMs and ISORs below:
Highlights from the Proposed Final Regulations
These regulations will have a number of impacts on how the cannabis industry operates in California. For example, new advertising regulations would go into effect; packaging and labeling requirements would change; certain edible products could contain up to 500mg THC per package (versus the current limit of 100mg THC per package); and outdoor licensees would be prohibited from using light deprivation.
Those are just a few of the key proposed changes. Please refer to the summary sheets published by the agencies, listed above, for a more comprehensive list.
What Makes an Effective Public Comment?
There are six standards in the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) that agencies including the BCC, CDPH and CDFA must follow when conducting rulemaking actions. They are:
- Authority – The agency must be permitted or obligated by law to craft a particular regulation. ( Gov. Code § 11349(b))
- Reference – The agency must refer to the provision of law that the agency is implementing or interpreting via the regulation. ( Gov. Code § 11349(e))
- Consistency – The regulation cannot be inconsistent with other laws and/or regulations, and needs to be harmonious with existing provisions of law. ( Gov. Code § 11349(d))
- Clarity – The regulation must be easily displayed or written so that it will be easily understood by the people affected. ( Gov. Code § 11349(c))
- Nonduplication – The regulation cannot serve the same purpose as another existing state or federal law or regulation. ( Gov. Code § 11349(f))
- Necessity – There must be substantial evidence in the record for needing the regulation in order to fulfil the purpose of the statute or other provision of law that the regulation implements or interprets. ( Gov. Code § 11349(a))
Since the BCC, CDFA and CDPH have to comply with the standards above, it’s a good idea to focus your comments around one or more of those specific areas, as opposed to just making a comment that you dislike a particular proposed regulation without giving any reason why. That way, it is more likely that the agency will respond to your comment by making an adjustment to the proposed regulation(s) in question.
How to Submit Your Comments
Comments on the proposed regulations can be submitted to the agencies by mail or email, or offered in-person at one of the agencies’ scheduled public hearings. Your comment must include the following: (1) the subject title of the proposed regulation; and (2) specific concerns regarding the proposed regulation, which the agencies deem most helpful if they identify the section number in question, discuss the issue, suggest changes to the text, and explain why any desired modifications address the issue.
Please note that all comments received during the public comment process become part of the official record which is public information. Thus, you may not want to include any confidential or identifying information in your comments.
All comments must be submitted to the respective agencies by 5:00pm on August 27, 2018 or provided at one of the scheduled public hearings. Below are the locations of the public hearings, which will take place throughout the state during the months of July and August. (This information is subject to change; please check for updates on the California Cannabis Portal .)
Bureau of Cannabis Control Hearing Dates and Locations
The first two BCC public hearings have passed. There will be a final public hearing on August 27, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814.
California Department of Public Health Hearing Dates and Locations
The first two CDPH public hearings have passed. There will be a final public hearing on August 27, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at 8400 Edes Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94621.
California Department of Food & Agriculture Hearing Dates and Locations
The first three CDFA public hearings have passed. There will be a final public hearing on August 28, 2018 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the California Department of Food & Agriculture Auditorium, 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814.
Some Final Words
Collaborate. Join with other groups, trade associations, brain trusts, friends. Have reading groups. Get together and consider problems and solutions from multiple points along the supply chain, so that the solutions you offer can be relevant, functional, and comprehensive. There are many smart people working on this right now, so if you don’t have the time to this by yourself, link up with a trusted group that is commenting in accordance with your interest. Comment letters signed on by many stakeholders are very powerful.
Most importantly, “Keep Calm and Carry On!” Even though operators may see major changes being contemplated in these regulations, these are NOT YET IN EFFECT. Operators still need to remain compliant with the EMERGENCY regulations that are currently in effect, until the final regulations – post comment period – are officially adopted. This draft can and will change, so folks shouldn’t be making major business decisions based on the draft, as elements may either fall away, shift, or be added. (Think about the 24-hour security guard requirement in the Readopted Emergency Regs – it came and went within a 5-day comment period.) There are items in this draft that are sure to receive a LOT of comments and suggestions, so keep calm and carry on following the emergency regulations during this comment period.
Finally, even for operators outside of California, this process is nevertheless important to watch as the path that California takes will impact how the rest of the country chooses to regulate the cannabis industry, and it is also important to participate in if you plan to expand into the Golden State.
NCIA’s member-led State Regulations Committee (SRC) examines and reviews the varying cannabis industry-specific statewide regulations and works to establish best practices or guidelines for states and municipalities to facilitate the development of regulations and compliance procedures.Allied Association Blog: Repetitive Motion Injuries and the Importance of Ergonomics in the Cannabis Industry By Alex Hearding, Chief Risk Management Officer, National Cannabis Risk Management ]]>