California Looks to Unite Cannabis Laws

California Cannabis Regulations Cannabis Now

The Golden State is looking to bring its medical and recreational cannabis programs in line with each other.

California Gov. Jerry Brown stepped in to shepherd passage of the state’s historic medical cannabis laws in 2015. Now he’s stepping up to unify medical and recreational cannabis regulations before both markets compete in 2018.

In case you’ve been wondering where Brown stands on policy that will determine the future of an industry worth more than $5 billion, the governor dropped a 79-page trailer bill proposal last week. Some things quickly jumped out:

● Brown wants to eliminate a third-party distribution model requirement favored by the Teamsters union, law enforcement and alcohol interests.

● Brown wants to let businesses grow and sell cannabis, a vertical-integration scenario that critics fear will breed monopolies.

● Brown wants to delay wine-like appellations of origin for cannabis.

● Brown wants the state to stop issuing California Medical Marijuana Identification Cards.

Those proposals, along with prioritizing environmental protections and other nuts and bolts, will require two-thirds of the Legislature’s approval. Brown said consolidating functions of state’s 2015 medical cannabis laws and the 2016 voter initiative that legalized recreational use will save $25 million, just shy of half of the $52 million the governor budgeted to regulate California’s recreational cannabis market in 2018.

“Implementing the current medical and recreational cannabis statutes separately will result in duplicative costs,” Brown’s budget says.

Lori Ajax, head of the state’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, said Brown’s trailer bill proposal “harmonizes the many elements of the two main statutes governing medicinal and adult-use cannabis, while preserving the integrity and separation of those industries.”

Critics say the distribution model required by Prop. 64 — in which independent middlemen distribute products from growers and manufacturers to testing labs and retail outlets, while also acting as tax collectors — will raise prices and push consumers to the illegal market when recreational sales start in early 2018. the remainder of this article can be found at:

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HAYLEY FOX…March 31, 2017

California Leads Nation in Legal Marijuana Sales

More than a quarter of all legal cannabis in North America is sold right here in California, despite much stricter laws than Colorado or Washington...Tue Mar 28th, 2017 3:12pm

Literally anyone age 21 or over can buy marijuana in Colorado and Washington, and this has been well-known for years. California, despite the passage of Prop. 64 legalizing recreational cannabis use, still weeds out most buyers by requiring they have a Medical Marijuana ID card. That requirement will remain in place for at least the rest of 2017.

Even with the additional bureaucratic burden of requiring a medical card, California still sells a lot more legal marijuana than the far more permissive states of Washington and Colorado. According to cannabis market research firm the Arcview Group, California makes up more than one-fourth of all legal marijuana sales in the 50 U.S. states plus Canada combined.

“California accounted for 27 percent of the 2016 legal market in North America,” Arcview Group notes in its recently released State of Legal Marijuana Markets report. “Colorado represented 20 percent and Washington represented 11 percent.” 


Keep in mind that those figures cover just 2016 — a period primarily before California had approved recreational marijuana. Colorado and Washington had been puffing the stuff with virtually no adult restrictions all year.

The report, which also includes Canadian cannabis sales, estimates that legal cannabis is now a $6.7 billion annual industry in North America. That’s up 34 percent from the previous year’s estimate of just over $5 billion.

The other side of Eden: Commercial marijuana takes root in Steinbeck country


John Steinbeck’s quintessential California novel “East of Eden,” about pain and poverty in an agricultural paradise, cast this setting in near biblical tones, depicting it as a place of mystical breeze and light, “full of sun and loveliness” and warm like “the lap of a beloved mother.”

He wrote “the top soil lay deep and fertile” and “the whole valley floor, and the foothills too, would be carpeted with lupins and poppies.” Here, Steinbeck called the fields of lettuce “green gold,” and to this day, the productive valley – between the Gabilan Mountains to the east and the Santa Lucias to the west – is known as “the Salad Bowl of the World.”

But it has seen challenging times. In the 1980s, producers of cut flowers erected cavernous greenhouses south of Salinas. Heated and cooled by abundant sunshine and ocean breezes, these buildings created the perfect micro-climate for growing lilies, tulips, delphiniums and orchids. Then global competition, particularly from Latin America, decimated the market. The downturn, occurring over the past two decades, left tracts of vacant, collapsing structures and helped to push the recent unemployment rate to more than 11 percent, well above the state’s 5.1 percent average.

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 STEPHEN PAULSEN….March 15, 2017

Sessions Says Obama Marijuana Memo Is ‘Valid’

March 15th, 2017 by Tom Angell

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is indicating that he might keep Obama-era marijuana enforcement guidelines in place, perhaps with some modifications.

“The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,” he said in a question-and-answer session with reporters on Wednesday following a speech in Richmond, Virginia.

That memo, adopted in 2013, lays out guidelines for how states can avoid federal interference with their marijuana laws.

Sessions added that he “may have some different ideas myself in addition to that” but indicated that the federal government would not be able to enforce its remaining marijuana prohibition laws across the board in states with legalization.

“Essentially we’re not able to go into a state and pick up the work that the police and sheriffs have been doing for decades,” he said.

The attorney general also addressed medical cannabis, suggesting that it “has been hyped, maybe too much.”

“It’s possible that some dosages can be constructed in a way that might be beneficial,” he said. “But if you ever just smoke marijuana for example where you have no idea how much THC you’re getting it’s probably not a good way to administer a medicinal amount. So, forgive me if I’m a bit dubious about that.”

In the speech before taking questions from reporters, Sessions acknowledged that marijuana isn’t as harmful as heroin, something that Justice Department officials have been reluctant to do in the past:

“I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use.  But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable.  I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store.  And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.  Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

During his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in January, Sessions called the Obama-era Cole memo “valuable” but suggested that he thought its provisions might not have been enforced strictly enough under the prior administration.

In a radio interview last week, he admitted that “it’s not possible for the federal government, of course, to take over everything the local police used to do in a state that’s legalized it.”

As a Republican senator representing Alabama, Sessions was long one of Congress’s most ardent proponent of the war on drugs. Last year, he said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Medical pot group gives California ‘B+’ on access report card By Todd R. Hansen

FAIRFIELD — California, one of the original eight states to legalize medical cannabis use, received a “B+” in the 2017 annual report by Americans for Safe Access.

Overall, the organization said there is still a lot of work to do, as none of the 44 states that allow medical marijuana use received an “A” grade. However, the number of states receiving a “B” or higher went from 11 to 19.

“Medical cannabis laws are moving in a positive direction, but only a handful of the 44 medical cannabis states are truly meeting the needs of patients, and there are still six states where cannabis remains completely illegal for patients,” Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, said in a statement released with the annual report.


The grades are based on a formula that reviews the rights of patients, legal constraints and overall accessibility to medical cannabis. California also received a “B+” grade in 2016, the first year the report came out. Americans for Safe Access was formed in 2002.

“In short, we’re seeing a lot of progress, but the fight is far from over. As of 2017, no state cannabis laws are within the ‘A’ range,” Sherer said in the statement. “Only a small minority of states currently include ASA’s criteria of protections and rights that we believe all patients should be afforded under the law.”

The report is not broken down by regions or counties within a state. Solano County has limited access as Vallejo is the only city in the county where medical marijuana can be legally accessed. The city has 10 retail dispensaries.

California’s highest grading (97) came in the categories of “Access” and “Functionality,” while its lowest grading (59) was given for “Product Safety,” the report states.

The poor grade does not mean the marijuana is not safe, according to a written response to a question by the Daily Republic. Instead, Americans for Safe Access said California was docked points on several regulatory fronts.



California explores energy impacts of cannabis cultivation

The strain that California’s legalized cannabis industry could place on the state’s power grid came into focus on Tuesday, as marijuana cultivators, energy regulators and utility companies huddled to begin hashing out how to square the state’s clean energy goals with the surge in electricity usage expected to accompany recreational pot.

The California Public Utilities Commission hosted a pair of panel discussions that brought together cannabis and energy industry professionals from California, Oregon, Washington State and Colorado — all of which have moved to legalize recreational marijuana in recent years — to share information and experiences about energy usage and conservation in growing marijuana in their respective states.


PUC President Michael Picker said California lacks “deep data” surrounding how the state’s electrical and water infrastructure might be impacted by the expected spike in marijuana cultivation when recreational pot becomes legal next year.

But he said he expects the PUC to consider “distinct set of (electricity) rates for cannabis to help ensure that electricity consumption in the sector supports our greenhouse gas reduction goals and energy efficiency goals.”

Indoor marijuana cultivation is an energy intensive process that relies on powerful lights, heating and cooling systems, ventilation and other processes to control the growing climate and ensure a more bountiful harvest. As much as 40 percent of new demand on Denver’s power grid has been attributed to cannabis cultivation since Colorado legalized pot in 2012, Picker said.