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Marijuana Dominated The 2016 Election

Marijuana Dominated The 2016 Election

This election season wasn’t normal for a lot of reasons and it seemed like the one thing the country could unanimously agree on was marijuana legalization. Of the nine states that had marijuana on the ballot, eight of them passed. Four states voted to legalize some form of medical use of marijuana and the other five states legalized marijuana for recreational use. In 1996 California legalized marijuana for medical use, 20 years later more than half the states have some form of legal marijuana. Advocates hope that this upward trend will push congress to address marijuana reform more proactively than they have in the past.

More from Time:

A total of 28 states have now legalized medical marijuana, up from 25 before voters went to the polls. North Dakota and Arkansas approved medical measures, but Florida, the first to pass a marijuana legalization measure this year, is the big kahuna among this cycle’s cohort. (Montana voters also approved a measure that would loosen restrictions on the state’s medical program; voters legalized in 2004.)

Though markets for medical marijuana are generally smaller, legalization in the third most populous state presents a big economic opportunity and tilts the scales in a part of the country that has been slower to accept marijuana. “If Florida passes, that’s going to be a huge, huge thing for the East Coast,” Bruce Barcott, author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America, said before the vote. “It’s a huge market.”

States will soon get to the business of setting up regulatory frameworks and preparing to issue licenses to cultivators and dispensaries over the next several years. Residents in some states will now be allowed to grow plants in their own homes and felons will have a chance to get their records expunged in others, if their previous crime is something that is no longer illegal. And as bureaucracies churn through change, money will come pouring in.

Adult Use Of Marijuana Act (AUMA): What Patients Need To Know

Adult Use Of Marijuana Act (AUMA): What Patients Need To Know

Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) put together this breakdown of Prop. 64 to address questions and concerns from patients, friends and family about the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Here at Potbox, we think this is one of the most articulate and informed write-ups we’ve seen on AUMA, so we’re sharing it with you today with their permission.

Why should we legalize now?

Today, we have a broken system that profits drug cartels, threatens the safety of children, harms our environment, and uses law enforcement resources on small, victimless crimes that disproportionally affect minorities.

As with all legislation, Prop. 64 is a work-in-progress and will need to be improved upon as we navigate and learn from this new regulation together. Prop. 215 is STILL being improved upon today, 20 years later.

While it may not be perfect, AUMA creates a safe, legal and regulated system that ends the failed war on marijuana. This initiative protects our patients, children, consumers, small business owners, workers and environment.

BPG along with Potbox supports Prop. 64 because it:

1. Advances social and criminal justice reform

criminal-justice-social-reform

Existing criminal penalties for marijuana offenses have been disproportionately enforced against people of color. AUMA eliminates or substantially reduces these penalties. Many existing misdemeanors and felonies will disappear from the books.

Reduces criminal justice penalties and makes them retroactive
✓ Past convictions for crimes reduced or eliminated by AUMA may be expunged from or reduced on a criminal record

Prevents youth in California from carrying a criminal record into adulthood
✓ All marijuana penalties will be charged as infractions, with no possibility of jail time

Funding for communities most impacted by the war on drugs
✓ The Community Reinvestment Fund will give $50 million annually to support economic development, job placement, and legal services in these communities

Allows persons harmed by drug war to enter the legal market
✓ A prior conviction for possession, possession for sale, sale, manufacturing, transportation, or cultivation of any controlled substance shall not be the sole basis for the denial of a license

2. Protects medical patients and home grows for all

medical-patients

AUMA builds on existing laws such as Prop. 215, to strengthen, not limit, medical marijuana protections. The biggest difference is that this measure will tax adult-use marijuana sales.

Medical patients are not required to pay sales tax

Secures right to home grow for all adults
✓ AUMA specifically prevents cities and counties from banning the cultivation of marijuana inside a home or within any enclosed structure
✓ Adults will be allowed to grow up to 6 plants

Protects parental rights and increases patient privacy
✓ The lawful conduct of a medical patient cannot, by itself, be used to restrict custodial or parental rights
✓ Requires cities and counties to identify patients using unique identifiers instead of names
✓ All patient databases are subject to the privacy protections of the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (the state equivalent of federal HIPAA laws)

Revenues will fund necessary research on marijuana
✓ $10 million to public universities in California for research on legalization
✓ $2 million to UCSD Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research

3. Protects California’s small businesses, farmers and workers

small-business-owners

Many small business owners are worried that Prop 64 will pave the way for “Big Marijuana” (similar to “Big Pharma”)–large corporations that gain a monopoly over the non-medical marijuana market. There are numerous protections against this:

Microbusiness licenses available
✓ Allows small businesses cultivating marijuana (in less than 10,000 sq. ft.) to provide services from seed to sale

Large cultivation licenses (over 22,000 sq. ft.) will not be issued for the first 5 years
✓ Allows small growers the opportunity to establish themselves in the legal market first

Licensees are prohibited from engaging in anti-competitive behavior
✓ Large cultivators are prohibited from vertically integrating
✓ Violators will be liable for monetary penalties

Specific legislation against monopolies
✓ State regulators will have the power to deny a license or license renewal to prevent the “creation or maintenance of unlawful monopoly power”

Protects workers
✓ A licensee may be disciplined—and risk losing their license—if the licensee violates any law that protects the health, safety or rights of workers
✓ Supports labor union organizing

4. Protects California’s environment and natural resources

california-environment

Illegal marijuana grows have had harmful impacts on ecosystems for years. The Bureau of Marijuana Control and the Departments of Food & Agriculture, Fish & Wildlife, and Pesticide Regulation will set statewide regulations to repair and preserve our environment.

Dedicated revenue (20%) to Environmental Restoration and Protection Account
✓ Environmental regulation, enforcement and restoration to rectify decades of environmental harm caused by illegal marijuana grows

State agencies must consider environmental impact before issuing licenses
✓ Businesses must comply with water quality and flow, natural resource protection, application of pesticides, land conversion, and riparian habitat protection

5. Protects the public health of all Californians

public-health-safety

Prop 64 imposes the strictest-ever regulations governing labeling, packaging and testing of non-medical marijuana products, to protect both children and consumers.

Restrictions on marketing to youth
✓ Prohibits marijuana businesses, marketing, and advertising near schools and youth centers

Strict labeling, packaging and testing requirements
✓ Packaging: Must be re-sealable and child-resistant. Cannot be attractive to young children
✓ Labeling: As detailed as any food product, including safe “portion” sizes and a warning if nuts of other known allergens are used
✓ Testing: All marijuana will be independently tested to comply with state standards for consumer safety prior to being sold

6. The time to end prohibition is NOW

blog_015

We simply cannot wait any longer for perfection. Too many individuals, families, and communities are still being torn apart by the failed war on marijuana.

Vote YES on 64, California!

For more information, please visit www.Yeson64.org.

This post originally appeared on BPG’s blog and was syndicated with permission.

Farmers Have ‘Growing’ Concerns With AUMA

Farmers Have ‘Growing’ Concerns With AUMA

As a small batch cannabis farmer, I have read over the text of California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), and come to the conclusion that, while not by any means a perfect statue, it represents the best path forward for cannabis cultivators, the cannabis industry at large and the general public. Given that the default alternative is to continue the failed ‘War on Drugs,’ AUMA moves the cause of legalization to an unprecedented level of awareness, and provides a deep framework from which California can further hone its public policies on the use of cannabis.

With the impending passage of AUMA, many are concerned with the looming threat of Big Cannabis — i.e., major pharmaceutical or tobacco companies muscling in to grab the lion’s share of this multi-billion dollar industry. The concerns run the gamut of what will this do to pricing and strain variety, to what impact will this have on the environment, or the independent cannabis farms that helped grow this industry (pun intended).

A century of prohibition at both the state and federal level gave birth to California’s long and proud history of small- to medium-sized cannabis farms. Three important characteristics emerged from this prohibition that have had a deep impact on California’s cannabis industry:

  1. It kept farm sizes small, which minimized their impact on the environment (and also kept them hidden from the law).
  2. Smaller harvests allowed growers to perfect organic cultivation methods and focus on quality vs. quantity. Similar to wine-making, small-batch, artisanal cannabis became an art form, and elevated cannabis from a dirty street-corner drug to a more mainstream, sophisticated lifestyle choice.
  3. As growers sought to perfect their strains and leave their mark on the cannabis culture, they created a glorious biodiversity of strains in one of the largest, most robust — and completely unsanctioned — distributed research projects known to man.

Would AUMA wipe all of that away? Will AUMA bring “Monsanto weed”? Fortunately, no. AUMA has a number of provisions that prevent larger corporate entities from muscling out the existing players.

One of the most important provisions is crop size!

Under AUMA, the largest allowable crop size would be one acre of canopy — or roughly 150 to 300 plants. Estimating an average yield of of 2-4 lbs per plant, the maximum amount of cannabis that could be legally grown on that acre ranges from 300 lbs to 1,200 lbs of dried flowers.

Using current wholesale prices of $1,400 per lb., that means the maximum amount of revenue generated by that acre would be approximately $420,000 to $1,680,000 — hardly the stuff of mega corporate greed. And when you consider that a huge chunk of those dollars will earmarked for wages, benefits and supplies, and another giant chunk will be given to local, state, and federal governments in the form of licensing fees and taxes, there doesn’t seem to be much financial incentive for Big Cannabis.

Of course this begs the question: “What about large corporations just buying up many smaller farms?” Here again, AUMA, which was written with the input of many actors from all levels of the state’s cannabis community, works to prevent this from happening by restricting the number of licenses one person or corporate entity can hold.

Though AUMA does need some cleaning up, it is sure to be transformed through the process of its implementation. By providing clear limits on farm size and corporate structure of potential ownership, AUMA steers the California cannabis industry in the right direction, providing protections for smaller farms like my own. It also preserves the culture that we growers have worked so hard to create, while protecting the environment and preventing premium artisanal cannabis from becoming another commodity product.

On the down-side, AUMA imposes new hardships on cannabis farmers that we never had previously — in the form of high taxes — which may cause some fair-weather farmers to oppose AUMA in November. This would be a mistake, in my opinion, as the cost for not enacting AUMA now will be much higher in the long run. At the end of the day, I see the new fees as just another cost of doing business, and I am pleased that the new regulations will prevent plummeting prices due to massive cannabis conglomerates flooding the wholesale market with cheap flowers.

If you enjoy premium, artisanal cannabis grown in small batches and don’t want to see Big Cannabis swoop in and turn it into another commodity product, then please join us in voting ‘Yea’ for AUMA in November. And if you don’t partake in cannabis, please consider voting for AUMA anyway, as the legislation will have tremendous fiscal benefits for all Californians.

If you’d like to learn more about AUMA, an organization called Yes On 64! has put together a website with more information.

Let’s do this, California!

A Win for Cannabis in the U.S. Senate

A Win for Cannabis in the U.S. Senate

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to allow banks to provide services to medical and recreational marijuana companies.

Since cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 substance according to the federal government, cannabis businesses must rely on a cash-only business. Safety and operational issues arise from this common obstacle faced by many in the marijuana industry.

This vote will approve an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill. The previous bill, which was a standalone bill directed at addressing the banking issue, did not have the support needed to move forward.

More from Business Insider.

 

“We’ve seen this all before,” Jeff Foster, a co-founder of JANE, a payment-processing firm for marijuana retailers, told Business Insider. “I hope that some progress is being made. But certainly what happened yesterday [the Senate’s vote] was by no means a watershed moment.”

This isn’t the first time the federal government has tried to give banks the green light to work with marijuana businesses.

In February 2014, President Obama announced – with the backing of the Treasury Department and the Justice Department – that the federal government would not prosecute banks that dealt with money from legal marijuana dispensaries.

Sacramento Tries Again to Increase Cannabis Tax

Sacramento Tries Again to Increase Cannabis Tax

In a recent election Sacramento tried to fund city youth services by taxing cannabis sales, but their failure at the ballot box doesn’t mean they’re stopping – they’re proposing a new revised plan.

The recent ballot measure, Measure Y, was nearly 1 percentage point away from passing. The three city council member proposing the bill believe it was not a failure, but a victory because it showed a very close margin. The measure needed a two-thirds vote to pass and they scored 65 percent of the votes cast.

The new proposal is set to be discussed at the Budget and Audit Committee in July and from there it will be debated by the full council sometime in August.

More from The Sacramento Bee.

Eric Guerra, who is backing the idea along with Jay Schenirer and Rick Jennings, said the strong voter support was justification for reviving the idea.

“I don’t call that failing,” he said of the poll numbers. “That to me says there is a strong call from the city to address the issues of youth.”

Unlike Measure Y, which locked funds into kids’ programs in perpetuity, the revised plan would only make it a recommendation and call for the council to make an annual determination on where the funds go. While taxes would be accounted for in a new City of Sacramento Children’s Fund, the council would be able to move them to other areas of the general fund on an annual basis during the budget process if it determined a greater need elsewhere.

The Future of Atlantic City: Pot

The Future of Atlantic City: Pot

In an effort to revitalize Atlantic City, a New Jersey lawmaker believes that marijuana is the winning ticket.

For years Atlantic city has been home to casinos, nightclubs, and resorts. The democratic Assemblyman, Reed Gusciora will introduce this new bill and leaving it up to the voters. This bill, Promoting Opportunities for Tomorrow or POT, aims at legalizing recreational use of cannabis products for persons over the age of 21.

More from CNBC:

It would put the question on a statewide general election ballot asking whether to permit the commercial growth, sale, possession, consumption, and taxation of marijuana within the boundaries of Atlantic City by those 21 and older.

Here’s a buzz kill: The pot would be taxed at 20 percent of its market price. But City Council President Marty Small says promoting drug use is not the way to balance the city’s books.

Gary Johnson Pauses Cannabis Use for Presidential Pursuit

Gary Johnson Pauses Cannabis Use for Presidential Pursuit

The libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson said in a recent interview that he will be taking a break from using cannabis while he runs his campaign for president.

Johnson has been very outspoken about his medical use of marijuana and his stance on legalization. Johnson said he has taken a seven-week leave from cannabis and hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol in over 29 years.

“I haven’t had a drink of alcohol in 29 years because of rock climbing and the notion of being the best that you can be, and in that same vein I’ve stopped using marijuana of any kind,” Johnson said in an interview.

More from USA Today.

His longtime support for legalizing marijuana could help him appeal to Democratic-leaning Millennial voters who were drawn to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders but are less enthused about supporting Clinton. Johnson was the highest-ranking U.S. politician to back legalization until Sanders did so.

“I think it’s a litmus test for having a brain, myself,” Johnson says, saying there is “an unbelievable disconnect” between public support and politicians’ caution on the issue.

 

Michigan: Marijuana Group Sues to get on Ballot

Michigan: Marijuana Group Sues to get on Ballot

Michigan citizens are wondering why it should cost $2-3 million to get a question on their ballot. This citizen-led group is protesting the a 180 day rule on signature collection.

These activists spent close to 11 months and $1 million gathering signatures in an effort to get a marijuana-related question on their November ballot. This lawsuit will challenge the decision by the state to end the MI Legalize effort by claiming the signatures are not valid and are considered “stale” as they believe they are order than 180 days.

More from Detroit Free Press.

“We have a litany of state and constitutional claims,” said Lansing attorney Jeffrey Hank, who chaired the MI Legalize group and filed the lawsuit, along with lawyer Thomas LaVigne of Grosse Pointe Park.

“This isn’t just about marijuana. We’re trying to preserve the right of grassroots groups to get a question on the ballot,” Hank said.