August 21, 2017

Amber Iris Langston, Author at MARIJUANA POLITICS

Amber Iris Langston

Amber Langston, board member and deputy director of Show-Me Cannabis, is an outspoken advocate for social, economic and environmental justice. Ms. Langston served as the campaign manager for Columbia, Missouri’s two successful municipal cannabis initiatives in 2004 while studying rural sociology at the University of Missouri. Amber has served as an outreach director and international liaison for Students for Sensible Drug Policy in Washington, DC, as field support for Americans for Safe Access in Oakland, CA, and as media liaison for California’s Proposition 19 to tax and regulate cannabis in November 2010.

German Cannabis Supporters Join 2017 Hanfparade

Berlin

Despite a little cold and rainy weather, a great crowd turned out this year for the 21st annual Berlin Hanfparade (or “Hemp Parade”) last Saturday, August 12th.

According to Michael Knodt, writer for Marijuana.com and speaker at the April 2017 International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin, the turnout for this year’s event was brimming with enthusiasm for the future of cannabis in Germany:

“An estimated 2,000 participants joined the 2017 Hanfparade, proudly marching through the streets of Berlin under the motto “Breiter kommt weiter” (“The wider our range, the bigger our progress”). Even with attendance slightly down from last year’s event — the largest German legalization demonstration to date — the mood was electric and the event set a colorful, loud, and hopeful sign for the legalization of cannabis in an influential European nation.

“…Accompanied by booming basses of music, loud slogans, and many creative posters, the participants walked passed the Chancellery and the German Bundestag on their course toward the Federal Ministry of Health, where a small stopover took place. Directly in front of the seat of the outgoing German Drug Czar Marlene Mortler, the well-known youth judge Andreas Müller explained the dangerous context between cannabis prohibition, false prevention strategies and the steadily increasing number of cannabis offenders among the younger generation.

“…Onlookers had trouble escaping the contagiously positive mood radiating from the demonstration, many smiling faces could be seen in the surrounding trucks and cars. The legalization movement is becoming mainstream — the common goal of the end of prohibition and the release of cannabis has slowly become visible on the German capital’s horizon.”

There is certainly great momentum for sensible cannabis law reform in Germany as the economic powerhouse has seen its medical law liberalized as several cities have well-established political movements examining how they may be able to follow in the footsteps of Amsterdam and allow cannabis commerce among all adults. Not only is it great for Germany that cannabis legalization is on the horizon, but also for the rest of Europe as Germany’s influence reverberates well beyond its borders. It is certainly an exciting time for the cannabis community across the globe and we will undoubtedly see many  positive laws and policies enacted in the coming months and years.

So what will be the state of cannabis in Europe’s largest country over the next year? Leading cannabis experts agree, the best (and most rockin’) way to learn, is to join them at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin, Germany, April 12 & 13, 2018. Get your tickets for Berlin and Kauai now to lock in early bird prices!

Demand and Regulatory Bottleneck Temporarily Closes Hawaii Cannabis Dispensary

Maui Grown Therapies

I suspect there are smirks emerging as some people are reading this article. “Welcome to the cannabis industry,” they might say.

Just five short days following its opening days of sales, Hawaii medical cannabis dispensary Maui Grown Therapies ran out of cannabis – and the company seems a little pissed off.

From The Maui News:

“‘It’s unfortunate that an administrative hindrance of this magnitude prevents patients from getting the help they need,’ said Christopher Cole, Director of Product Management for Maui Grown Therapies. ‘We had planned to open with a full range of derivative products such as concentrates, oils, capsules and topical products, but at the eleventh hour we discovered that the State Labs Division had failed to certify a lab to conduct testing of manufactured products.’

“…’We could serve thousands of patients with the amount of manufactured product we currently have available for final compliance testing,’ Cole said. ‘Even though we were approved by the Department of Health on May 24th to manufacture cannabis products, the restrictions placed on the state’s only licensed lab have prevented us from offering these products to our patients — and it is entirely unclear to us when this will change.’”

Though Maui Grown Therapies is expressing a genuine frustration, unfortunately this is not something unusual to the cannabis industry. Indeed this type of chaotic volatility in the market is much more the norm than would be accepted as reasonable in other industries. Constant changing rules and onerous regulation is often based more as a fearful reaction to a plant long believed to be imminently harmful, than on science or market pragmatism.

Just last month, Nevada opened to legal cannabis sales for adults of 21. Two weeks later the State of Nevada released a Statement of Emergency owing to a shortage of regulated cannabis to stock the shelves of newly opened sales operations.

In Oregon last year, sudden drastic changes in regulatory requirements created a backlog of work for testing facilities, causing huge losses for producers and sellers. Despite the setbacks, the Oregon legalization system has created thousands of new jobs and generated tens of millions in new revenue, far outpacing initial government projections.

Colorado, the early pioneer in regulated cannabis commerce, hasn’t been immune to regulatory issues either. The state has clearly overcome bureaucratic hurdles to now surpass the $500 million dollar marijuana revenue milestone.

As more states come online with cannabis legalization, officials should look hard at the examples of other states which are already moving into the industry space. Nothing is perfect, but when good is the enemy of perfect in this industry, patients, consumers and businesses all get left behind. Despite setbacks and obstacles, the future remains very bright for the burgeoning cannabis industry.

Stay on top of the latest developments for cannabis regulations, policies, and entrepreneurship! Attend the International Cannabis Business Conference in Kauai, Hawaii on December 1-3rd, 2017. Get your early bird tickets today!

Cannabis Hits Shelves in Hawaii

This week scored a mark in history for medical cannabis patients in the Aloha State. Initial sales went into effect on Tuesday on Maui and Wednesday on Oahu at two of the state-licensed dispensaries on the island chain. Although eight dispensaries have been granted licenses by the state’s Department of Health, business owners had been unable to get their product to consumers. Until recently, the Health Department had not approved any testing labs as certified for cannabis quality control.

Maui Grown Therapies opened its doors on Tuesday in Kahului, following approved laboratory testing and a final onsite inspection on Monday. The dispensary has already registered about 300 of the approximate 4,000 patients on Maui, and began sales by appointment this week. Oahu’s first operating dispensary, Aloha Green, opened to public sales on Wednesday to a crowd of excited patients. There’s good news on the horizon for patients from the mainland as well; the state is scheduled to establish registration rules for out-of-state patients by start of 2018.

Hawaii Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler noted in a statement issued Wednesday:

“Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception. With legal guidance from Department of the Attorney General, the DOH team paved the way for this new industry in Hawai‘i and has set a new standard for dispensary programs other states can emulate.”

The statement also reminded patients of their own rules for individual legal compliance:

“Registered patients and their caregivers may purchase up to four ounces of medical cannabis during a 15 consecutive day period and purchase a maximum of eight ounces over a 30 consecutive day period. All use of medical cannabis must be on private property and may not be used in a car while on the road, at work, at the beach, on hiking trails, or in any other public space. It is illegal to use or possess medical cannabis on any federally owned property such as military installations and national parks. When bringing medical cannabis home after purchasing it from a dispensary, the medical cannabis must be in a sealed container and not visible to the public.”

Are you ready to see the state of cannabis in the State of Rainbows? Get your tickets now for the International Cannabis Business Summit on Kauai, Hawaii happening December 1-3, 2107!

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Endorses Cannabis Legalization

Marijuana buds

Just a couple of days ago, my colleague Anthony Johnson reported that for the second year in a row, the National Conference of State Legislatures has passed a resolution in support of fully removing cannabis from the list of Controlled Substances, essentially freeing the growing majority of states which have some form of legal cannabis, to provide consistent oversight and control of the US marijuana market.

Now, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) has put forth their own resolution related to cannabis. Specifically, the resolution calls for federal decriminalization, along with sealing of records for offenders whose actions would no longer be illicit, and addressing issues of youth access and cartel activities. The NHCSL cites the inherently racist roots of cannabis prohibition as a major influence in maintaining social inequality in Hispanic communities, and acknowledges the potential for elevating these communities under a legal system of regulation:

“…during the 1920’s and 1930’s, when it was first penalized in various states, cannabis use was portrayed as a cultural vice of Mexican immigrants to the United States, and racist and xenophobic politicians and government officials used cannabis prohibition specifically to target and criminalize Mexican-American culture and incarcerate Mexican-Americans and, therefore, the prohibition of cannabis is fundamentally rooted in discrimination against Hispanics.”

According to the NHCSL press release:

“‘Marijuana policy in this country has disproportionately targeted Latinos from the start. In fact, the term entered the national consciousness in 1937 when it was used by the federal government as part of an effort to discriminate against Latinos. Research shows that the benefits of legalizing cannabis range from taking advantage of its medicinal benefits, increasing tax revenues for health and education, to lowering crime while at the same time reducing disproportionate incarceration of minorities. NHCSL believes that our laws should focus on ending the current lawlessness of the black market and allow sound public policy based on scientific evidence to prevail on the issue of cannabis,’ NHCSL President and Pennsylvania State Representative Ángel Cruz said.”

“…Colorado State Representative Dan Pabón, the sponsor of the resolution, and who is also the Chair of NHCSL’s Task Force on Banking, Affordable Housing and Credit, said: ‘I am proud to stand with my fellow Latino legislators in taking a strong position in favor of common sense cannabis policy. In Colorado, we have successfully legalized cannabis and we have been able to reduce crime by 10.1%, increase revenues by more than $300 million that we dedicated to our schools, and have a new thriving industry that creates jobs. 29 states and the District of Columbia currently allow some form of legal cannabis because they recognize that it is one of the most effective ways of cracking down on the cartels and criminal activity fueled by the black market. Smart decriminalization and tough regulations also allow our youth to thrive instead of subjecting many of them to unfair and discriminatory treatment by law enforcement. This is a civil rights issue and we urge our fellow lawmakers to view it as such and act accordingly.’”

They say that a rising tide lifts all boats, and I believe no other political issue I have encountered in my life addresses that possibility more than the legalization of cannabis. Indeed, the side effects of the plant’s liberation is one of the primary reasons I have dedicated my life to changing the laws surrounding its use. Ending the egregious social injustice of cannabis criminality not only stands to benefit those who would be harmed by its illegal status, it also provides an opportunity for real entrepreneurship and job creation in communities most in need of an economic boost.

Kudos to the NHCSL for joining the fight! I look forward to more representatives from the Hispanic and other minority communities becoming part of the emerging cannabis market. If you are one of those individuals, I hope to see you at one of the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conferences, where businesses and individuals are coming together to create the future of the cannabis industry.

Events like the ICBC are so very important because they bring together experienced advocates and entrepreneurs together to network and learn from each other. With positive movement at the state, federal and global level, the momentum for cannabis legalization is only picking up steam.

Polish Medical Cannabis Patients Can Expect Relief by October

Weed Buds

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed into law last a month a measure which will allow the production and sale of medical cannabis to qualified patients. The Sejm – Poland’s lower governing legislative body – passed the bill earlier in the spring, earning a tremendous vote of support with 440 in favor to only 2 against. The progress of medical cannabis in Poland is just the latest example of how sensible marijuana law reforms are quickly advancing across the globe. With European powerhouse Germany leading the way medicinally and Canada recreationally, the global movement to end cannabis prohibition has a ton of momentum behind it, which is good news for patients, consumers, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens alike.

Poland’s new law seeks to create a system of manufacture and distribution of cannabis to patients with physician approval. While the original bill supported patients’ rights to produce their own medicine, the final version does not go as far. The measure ultimately signed by President Duda allows the Polish State to import raw cannabis materials and dispense the medicine through pharmacies, though current law does not allow for the state to cover the cost of cannabis as it does for other medicines. Patients can expect to see access to cannabis flowers, tinctures and other extracts.

Doctors will be allowed to prescribe various products of the plant for debilitating conditions, including things such as severe epilepsy, chronic pain and side effects from chemotherapy and cancer. However, the bill does not offer a specific set of conditions, allowing an openness to future therapies.

For now, the Polish government will be focusing on a public education campaign to bring awareness of the plant to its doctors, pharmacies and citizens.

One of the campaigns biggest proponents, MP Piotr Liroy-Marzec told Marijuana.com in an interview a few weeks ago:

“‘We sent [a to-do list]to the government to let them know what they need to prepare,’

“‘…The Polish Institute of Cannabis will be starting right now. Education on cannabis is what Poland needs, for the doctors, judges, and pharmacists.’”

The bill is expected to take effect in October.

Come discover the current state of cannabis in European markets next April 12-13, 2018 in Berlin, Germany, for the International Cannabis Business Conference! Want to know what else is happening on the international cannabis trade front even sooner? Join ICBC in Kauai, Hawaii, this December 1-3, 2017. Tickets are on sale now!

Patients in Hawaii Get One Step Closer to Legal Cannabis Access

Hawaii Sunset

Cannabis science, testing and analytics giant Steep Hill Laboratories announced earlier this week they have received the green light to begin cannabis testing operations in the State of Hawaii.

The movement couldn’t have come too soon for patients and dispensary operators. Hawaii’s medical cannabis program started in 2000. Dispensaries were not permitted until 2015 but rules required state-certified lab testing before product could start moving off the shelves. Without any labs officially recognized to do the work, no cannabis could meet the standard required for legal sales, leaving patients in a pickle.

From ABC News:

“‘This is a big milestone, and it couldn’t have come any sooner, because many people within the industry were getting frustrated and a little angry at the time it has taken to get to this point,’ said state Sen. Will Espero, a Democrat. ‘But now that we are here, hopefully the next phase in terms of sales will happen quickly and everything will go smoothly.'”

“Once the lab receives samples, it will take about four days to test and return products to dispensaries for sale, said Dana Ciccone, owner of Steep Hill Hawaii.

“Then the dispensary will undergo one final inspection by the Department of Health with the product present, department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said. That on-site inspection and accompanying paperwork could take 24 to 48 hours, she said.”

Hawaii, one of the few states to legalize medical cannabis dispensaries through its legislature, wisely offers reciprocity (starting next year) to medical marijuana patients from other states, demonstrating both compassion and smart business sense as tourism is such a huge economic engine for the state. Maui Times describes the current licensure situation for medical dispensaries:

“The new law allows for eight separate licenses to be obtained in the state. These licenses are island-specific: three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island, two on Maui and one on Kauai. There is no provision for dispensaries on Molokai or Lanai at this time. Each license allows for two grow facilities and two dispensary locations. These facilities and retail locations are subject to local zoning laws and must not be located near playgrounds, schools or public housing.”

As most states have experienced sales outpacing government projections,  without the extreme negative consequences wrongly predicted by prohibitionists, Hawaii legislators should quickly consider legislation legalizing cannabis for all adults. The future of the Hawaiian cannabis industry certainly looks bright and opportunities will only continue to increase.  The International Cannabis Business Conference this December 1-3 in Kauai, Hawaii, will certainly be an excellent chance to learn the latest developments and network with other professionals.

American Investors Look to European Markets

Berlin

Forward-thinking American business investors have had their eyes on the cannabis market for a few years now, looking critically at emerging laws and technologies in traditional places like Colorado, California, Oregon and British Columbia, among others. As the snowball of change has grown around the world, these initial entrepreneurs have started looking to meet the global demand of a product newly liberated from underground markets in other countries as well.

Last December, MarijuanaPolitics.com reported on the change in Germany’s medical cannabis law, which came on the heels of the International Cannabis Business Conference last April, suggesting that Germany would be the next big international cannabis market. And it looks like we were right.

A Cannatech News article published last week noted that several cannabis companies have advanced to the next stage of consideration for becoming licensed producers in the bubbling German medical cannabis market, five of them with Canadian ties. Those companies include Spektrum Cannabis, Maricann, Bedrocan, Aurora Cannabis and ABcann. While Canadian companies have gotten the leg up in Germany, due to favorable federal law, many of these Canadian businesses have American investors and American entrepreneurs are flocking to events like the ICBC in Berlin to find ways to enter the burgeoning European industry.

Benjamin Ward, CEO of Maricann Group Inc., makes a case for getting involved in the German cannabis market on CNBC:

“These European markets are increasingly important to the cannabis sector. Each has a well-funded medical system, residents who seek natural and complementary therapies, and a government-supported mandate to stop the rising tide of opiate addiction related to chronic pain treatment.

“…Those investors restricting their cannabis investments to this side of the ocean – and in the United States in particular – are left navigating an array of legislation on a state-by-state basis, prohibitive out-of-state investment regulations, and a prohibitive tax code. These investors miss the boat as they churn through such choppy water.

“As Germany moves smartly down this path of medicinal cannabis, the rest of Europe will soon follow. And to ignore 500 million people in a stable economy is a mistake.”

Don’t miss your chance to catch the latest developments and most current developments for the European cannabis markets April 12-13, 2018 at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin. Get your early bird tickets now! If you wanna join the international cannabis community in beautiful Hawaii in December, you should snag your ICBC Kauai early bird tickets as well.

Cory Booker Introduces Federal Legislation to Decriminalize Cannabis

Cory Booker

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), one of the country’s youngest United States Senators, and one of only two African-Americans serving in that capacity, introduced a bill in Congress yesterday which, if passed, would land Senator Booker a secure spot in the annals of history.

Booker calls the bill the “Marijuana Justice Act”, removing marijuana from the Schedule of Controlled Substances and allowing states to move forward with their own forms of regulated cannabis. Activists have been working well over a decade to pass in 2015 and since then annually re-pass the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which blocks federal funding for law enforcement against state-compliant businesses and individuals, so it’s hardly a new concept. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, support of states’ rights on the cannabis issue enjoys 73% approval across the country. Moreover, it is not the first bill to be introduced which would aim to de-schedule cannabis at the federal level, a legal maneuver that would essentially “decriminalize” cannabis production and possession.

However, Booker’s goal with this particular legislation remains distinct. Not only does the New Jersey Senator want to address the problems of a criminal and underground market, he also seeks to ameliorate damages done to people of color over the years by the United States’ twisted and extremely racist War on Drugs.

Booker release the following comment on Facebook after the announcement of his bill: “For decades, the failed War on Drugs has locked up millions of nonviolent drug offenders—especially for marijuana-related offenses—at an incredible cost of lost human potential, torn apart families and communities, and taxpayer dollars. The effects of the drug war have had a disproportionately devastating impact on Americans of color and the poor.”

If allowed to move forward, the proposed legislation would offer the opportunity for current cannabis offenders in federal prison to have their cases re-examined for re-sentencing or commutation, and allow expungement for persons who have already been released for their cannabis crimes. The bill would also allocate federal funds to be used toward a “community reinvestment fund” to support employment and rehabilitation services for individuals who were formerly incarcerated for cannabis.

Whether Congress steps in to address federal cannabis policy this legislative session or in the future, the industry won’t be stopped and it is important to be informed. The International Cannabis Business Conference is the best place to learn from experts and network with other professionals and advocates. The next ICBC is in Kauai, Hawaii, on December 1-3, 2017.

Photo credit: Jamelle Bouie

Cannabis Companies Need Capital to Compete

cannabis plant

In the new “Green Rush”, virtually everyone is a startup. And many of tomorrow’s biggest players in the marijuana market are currently looking for the right partner who will make for a successful business. There’s no shortage of people with skills and ideas in the newly legal cannabis world, and monetary investment in ganjapreneurs is rapidly picking up the pace. Whereas only a handful of private equity investment firms for cannabis existed five years ago, MJBiz Daily maintains a current catalog which now lists dozens of investment groups operating nationwide.

According to ArcView Market Research, revenues from the U.S. marijuana industry are expected to grow from $6.7 billion in 2016 to over $21 billion by 2021, a phenomenal increase of 30%. Troy Dayton, CEO of Arcview Group, reports that more than $100 million has been invested in cannabis-related startups since 2010.

In 2016, Steve Gormley, CEO of Seventh Point, told Business Insider how busy his investment company is keeping:

“While most of the money in the industry is still coming from family offices and people’s personal bank accounts, 18% of entrepreneurs who have started cannabis companies in the past year have landed funding from venture-capital and private-equity investors, according to the fact book.

“‘We’re getting more excitement than we can handle,’ Gormley continued. ‘I cut my teeth in the dot-com era. I lived through the housing bubble. This is something completely unto itself.'”

While this is certainly encouraging for those interested in cannabis business, the key to success will be education and keeping up with current changes in legislation and market performance. From the Huffington Post:

“There is money to be made in the marijuana industry, but individuals need to be very careful when considering these investments. Other than comparing it to alcohol prohibition, there is no real model to follow, or past performance to analyze. There is no one we can turn to that has been in the industry for decades and can pass their experience and knowledge onto us.”

So what can an individual do who is looking to become a serious player in the new market? Learn from current cannabis industry leaders about what is working best in established markets and how to avoid unseen pitfalls of this unique commercial enterprise. Come participate in the International Cannabis Business Conference this December 1st-4th at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Hawaii where attendees will learn all the latest about private equity, venture capital and angel investment in the cannabis industry.

ICBC Heads to Kauai in December as Hawaii Makes Progress on Cannabis

ICBC Kauai

In 2000, the State of Hawaii became the first US state to advance medical cannabis policies through their legislature, rather than a ballot initiative process. At the time, it was only the sixth state to have such laws, following the lead from Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The initial Hawaiian law allowed patients and their caregivers to grow their own plants but many patients were still left purchasing from the black market.

Then, in 2015, the state’s legislature passed into law Act 241, creating the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program, and opening a process to allow for state-licensed sales and regulatory oversight. The new law allowed for up to eight dispensary licenses across five islands, which would each include two dispensary and two cultivation sites.  Since then, two more iterations of the law have been approved, expanding the program and the number of qualifying ailments. One of the most important changes is the allowance of reciprocity with other medical cannabis states – meaning that any of the 1.2 million plus legal US cannabis patients from other states can purchase and use their medicine while on the islands.

That’s big news for an economy based almost entirely on tourism, with annual visitor numbers totaling nearly nine million. Other big-tourism locales are already beginning to make moves to integrate cannabis into their marketing of attractions. Denver has gained international recognition for their early adoption of legalization, competing with Los Angeles and Boston to become the country’s “Cannabis Capital”, and just this month Las Vegas has joined the fray. Meanwhile groups such as the Craft Cannabis Alliance in Oregon are already making moves to protect local niche producers in anticipation of competing in what will eventually be a national market.

Hawaii currently has eight licensed entities – three on Oahu, two licenses each of the islands of Hawaii and Maui, and one on Kauai. The first business is expected to open later this summer, and last month, the Hawaii Department of Health gave the go-ahead to two more production facilities in Oahu and Kauai. Green Aloha, Ltd hopes to have their dispensary operational by October in Kauai.

That’s good news for entrepreneurial patients who plan to attend the International Cannabis Business Conference on December 1, 2, and 3 at the Grand Hyatt Kauai! Attendees will learn the latest on Hawaii’s cannabis laws, along with all the latest info on changing cannabis policies and best practices. Plan your trip now, and get your early-bird tickets today!

Oregon’s Controversial Cannabis Testing Standards Are Leading the Country, Learn the Latest at the OMBC

Lab test

As cannabis (and medical cannabis) legalization moves further into the American mainstream, states coming online are looking to established protocols and best practices in the industry after which to model new regulations. As I speak with cannabis colleagues across the country, one question I hear repeatedly is, “What is Oregon doing with lab testing?” The Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC), in addition to updating attendees on all things related to the industry, is hosting a very timely “Oregon Testing Update” presentation this Friday, April 28th, to provide the latest on Oregon’s testing law, as the state is taking public comment until the 30th on new proposed rules.

Indeed, it appears the Beaver State has garnered a national reputation with our aggressive standards and approach to consumer safety. By comparison, California currently has no established state-regulated medical testing program, leaving little doubt that giant swaths of cannabis producers in that state would fail to meet Oregon’s standards. One recent study found 93% of cannabis samples in southern California failed lab tests for pesticides. However, by 2018, California will be required to have testing standards in place. California regulators are surely keeping a sharp eye on the evolution of Oregon’s laws.

In balancing consumer safety, with the needs of the burgeoning cannabis industry, Oregon is still trying to figure out what makes most sense in setting its own marijuana testing policy, and no political change is without controversy. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recently suggested a significant overhaul in cannabis testing rules in an attempt to address problems with the current set of procedures.

On the one hand, legislators are tasked with protecting public health and ensuring reasonable quality control. On the other hand, lawmakers must also be cautious of creating unreasonable burdens to businesses navigating the new terrain of a legal cannabis industry. Stakeholders on all sides of the issue are clamoring over the proposed changes.

One of the reasons compelling changes in testing rules has been industry reports of slow turnaround in laboratory testing, which has been particularly problematic for edibles. Some labs have faced a backlog of products to be tested, especially when lab regulations initially went into effect last October, which means foods, concentrates and flowers must sit on a shelf awaiting approval, sometimes for weeks. Obviously this was devastating for producers of foods that can expire in the short-term. But over the past few weeks, labs have adjusted to market demand, and the backlog appears to be much less of an issue, somewhat lessening the urgency to force the nascent industry into another set of regulatory changes. Still, it is clear that Oregon hasn’t quite figured out yet the right formula for balancing the needs of consumers and producers.

According to Keith Mansur of the Oregon Cannabis Connection, the OHA currently requires one-third of product be tested for contaminants, costing roughly $350-$400 a pop. While the OHA is reporting a failure rate of 26% for cannabis concentrate samples, some labs suggest the failure rate is somewhere between 50% and 70%. Suggested changes would lower the amount required to be tested to 20%, which is still substantially more than what is required for other agricultural food products.

Of course basing policy on food standards has its problems as well. Many pesticides which are safe for food consumption are unsafe when burned. One of those substances is a fungicide called Myclobutanil, sometimes sold as a product called “Eagle”, which is often applied to grapes and hops. It’s considered harmless to eat, but when it’s burned it produces hydrogen cyanide, which is extremely toxic to humans. A recent test of random medical cannabis samples from dispensaries in the San Francisco Bay area of California found one sample to have more than thirteen times the amount of Myclobutanil than would be allowed under Oregon law. But since no pesticide limits exist for Californians, rogue operators continue to poison both land and people without regard to public safety. What transpires in Oregon’s testing regulations in the coming months is likely to affect millions of people both inside and outside of the state.

With the OHA taking public comments on the proposed lab testing rule changes until the end of April,  it is a perfect time to attend the  Oregon Marijuana Business Conference in Eugene on April 28th. Laboratory testing is one of the primary topics to be covered this Thursday, and the crowd will be teeming with interested and knowledgeable parties from across the cannabis spectrum. The event is coming right up, so don’t wait to get your tickets! Come be part of the conversation and learn more about Oregon’s role in developing national pesticide testing standards! And, if you are free, you’ll want to party with Henry Rollins at the VIP party on Thursday, the 27th. 

Cannabis Taxes and You

marijuana on money

When it comes to running a legal cannabis business, there is perhaps no greater issue of concern than walking the tightrope of paying proper federal taxes for a substance that is federally illegal. Proper reporting and compliance are essential to making this new market viable and legitimate in the eyes of the public.

But taxes can be daunting even for a regular business person in an established industry. For cannabis, the regular rules do not apply. Primarily, this is due to a section of the federal tax code, Section 280E, which is the source of many migraines for entrepreneurs in the cannabis world.

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is focusing much of their energy in Washington, DC, to exclude cannabis businesses from this provision. NCIA explains the issue like so:

“Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code forbids businesses from deducting otherwise ordinary business expenses from gross income associated with the ‘trafficking’ of Schedule I or II substances, as defined by the Controlled Substances Act. The IRS has subsequently applied Section 280E to state-legal cannabis businesses, since cannabis is still a Schedule I substance.

“A throwback from the Reagan Administration, Section 280E originated from a 1981 court case in which a convicted cocaine trafficker asserted his right under federal tax law to deduct ordinary business expenses. In 1982, Congress created 280E to prevent other drug dealers from following suit. It states that no deductions should be allowed on any amount ‘in carrying on any trade or business if such trade or business consists of trafficking in controlled substances.’”

What does that mean for you? BE INFORMED AND GET INVOLVED! Those who survive in the brave new cannabis world will have to stay on top of evolving regulations and also maintain impeccable books. Advocates are working toward change at the national level, but how long change takes depends on the strength of the effort to affect policy. Just yesterday, Washington, DC lawmakers introduced several cannabis bills in both houses, including The Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap (RAMP) Act, which is being championed by two Oregonians, Representative Earl Blumenaur (D-OR) in the House, and Senator Tom Wyden (D-OR).

Navigating the IRS 280E limitations can be a daunting task; if not properly understood the risk of paying too much tax, or being audited, is high. Operating a parallel business to reclaim otherwise disallowed deductions is a tried and true way to handle the 280E limitations. Selecting the right Business Entity for your business is essential and by far the most effective way to mitigate your tax liability as well as keep your audit profile low.

Oregonians and other interested investors in Oregon’s cannabis future, will either sink or swim in the new marketplace. Ensure your spot in the future of the cannabis industry, and make certain to join the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference in Eugene this April 28th. Crucial topics will be covered, including “Taxes and Cannabis”, along with other indispensable components to a successful enterprise. Get your early bird tickets today!

Oregon Senate Aims to Protect Cannabis Consumers’ Privacy

Oregon Legislature

In response to recently mixed messages coming from Washington, DC regarding federal enforcement of cannabis prohibition, legislation inched forward in Salem recently which would protect privacy of information for non-medical cannabis users. Senate Bill 863 passed a major hurdle yesterday when it cleared the Senate floor, moving on to the House for consideration. The bill initiated as a proposal from the 10-member, bipartisan Joint Committee on Marijuana Regulation which has been overseeing Oregon’s marijuana laws, and has garnered sponsorship from both sides of the aisle.

According to the Associated Press, the bill would protect Oregon citizens’ privacy by prohibiting certain collection of data, but stops short for medical cannabis patients:

“The bill’s bipartisan sponsors want to put a stop to what’s become a common practice within Oregon’s budding pot industry, where legal retailers often stockpile the names, birthdates, addresses, driver’s license numbers and other private information of each recreational customer that walks through their doors. Such activity is either prohibited or discouraged in Alaska, Colorado and Washington state.

Should the proposal become law, pot retailers would have 30 days to destroy their recreational customers’ data– derived from the driver’s licenses, passports or military IDs that are used to verify patrons are at least 21– and would be banned from such record-keeping moving forward. Medical marijuana cardholders’ data would be excluded from the provisions.”

Unfortunately the bill will not extend the same protection to patients. Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for the Senate GOP caucus, explains it like so:

“‘When you’re a medical cardholder, you opt-in to your records being kept because you have a qualifying condition that requires higher limits and potencies and certain products … So, the bill went as far as it reasonably could to protect privacy,’ Lockwood said.”

In an extremely unusual political year, cannabis has clearly become the central issue for lawmakers fighting to maintain states’ rights against an uncertain administration in our nation’s capitol. Cannabis remains more popular than nearly every federal or state level politician in the country. The Oregon Legislature is spot on in making this protection of its citizens a priority. Though certainly imperfect, the bill appears to have legs, and is a step in the right direction.

Oregonians, and those from other states who would model our laws, will be watching closely to see what happens this legislative session in Salem. The laws and rules are always seemingly always changing and it can certainly be hard to keep up with the latest.

Stay up to date on all relevant legislation and join the largest gathering of cannabis entrepreneurs in the Beaver State at the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference in Eugene this April 28th, 2017! Not only are top industry professionals and experts presenting, but Henry Rollins is delivering the keynote address. Get your tickets by April 14th to save!

What Will the Oregon Police Report Mean for the Cannabis Industry?

OSP

The Oregonian’s Noelle Crombie recently obtained a report prepared by the Oregon State Police assessing the impacts of legal cannabis production and black market diversion. As Crobie notes in her piece, the OSP refused to release the report after multiple requests, but Ms. Crombie apparently would not be denied and she acquired a version of the report that may be refined.. Not surprisingly, the report doesn’t paint Oregon in the best light. But then again, when has law enforcement ever produced any type of documentation on cannabis that didn’t remind you of the kind of extreme finger-wagging you get from your crazy Aunt Myrtle about the “inappropriate” casual pants you wore to the family reunion?

To begin with, police are extremely worried that an underground market for cannabis exists. I call that a success. Not long ago, the police were only worried that cannabis itself exists. Finally, resources have been redirected to watch tracked market activity, rather than continuing the old game of Whack-a-Mole, where any presence of cannabis was tantamount to turning humans into evil, baby-eating zombies, and all persons in a half-mile radius were guilty of unforgivable crimes by association.

According to the report released last week, police are really worried about making sure cannabis is legal:

“The illicit exportation of cannabis must be stemmed as it undermines the spirit of the law and the integrity of the legal market. Crime, especially large scale underground trade, is difficult to measure and distorts economic data and, consequently, complicates governance over economic issues. Indeed, there are tangible negative socioeconomic effects from cannabis diversion, paramount among them is that as a form of illicit trade it steals economic power from the market, the government, and the citizens of Oregon, and furnishes it to criminals, thereby tarnishing state compliance efforts.”

To me, this sounds to me kind of like an old talking point for legalization generally.

Implementing sensible oversight and accountability of the market is exactly what needs to happen for legalization of both medical and adult-use cannabis to be effective. Of course, diversion to the criminal market is an issue of genuine concern. But the takeaway from this is not that nothing is working in Oregon, and the medical community is to blame, as Oregon State Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick(D) seems to suggest.

Legal marijuana brought in six times as much revenue as the state government initially predicted in 2016 and each dollar spent in the regulated system is money taken out of the criminal market. It’s important to remember that not long ago, all cannabis was sold in an illegal market, and it is foolish to believe those networks will instantaneously disappear.

Wrinkles clearly need to be ironed out in terms of effective policies for both the medical and recreational systems in Oregon. Let’s not panic and point fingers at patient providers, as seems to be the intimation of police and some lawmakers; instead, let’s learn as citizens what is happening and do what we can to find effective policy solutions that meet the needs of patients, growers, producers and citizens. Eliminating overburdensome regulations and fees is a much better policy than instituting regulatory and financial hurdles that create a new prohibition.

Thankfully, legalized cannabis is here to stay as Oregon voters strongly support legal marijuana.  We simply need to build upon our success and implement a system that brings more and more people into a regulated system that works for patients, compassionate providers, industry participants, and all Oregonians.

Come learn the latest about next steps for Oregon’s cannabis communities and policies at the state’s most important cannabis event, the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference on April 28, 2017, at the Valley River Inn in Eugene. Get your tickets today!

This story has been updated to reflect that that Noelle Crombie obtained the OSP report after initial requests were denied. 

Berlin ICBC Showcasing Advancements in Medical Science

Lab test

In just over a month, the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) is coming to Berlin this April 10-12, 2017, and bringing the best of global cannabis expertise with it!

The event is unlike any other, and will be an exclusive look into the most current and up-to-date happenings in Germany and Europe regarding cannabis policy, business, and perhaps most importantly, the science of medical cannabis.

The United States’ complete federal prohibition on marijuana has noticeably stymied the proliferation of quality cannabis research in the Western Hemisphere, state-approved investigations of the plant’s medical efficacy have been progressing for decades in many European countries.

The ICBC will be hosting an impressive list of medical professionals who have delved into the unique intersection of cannabis science and policy, and they are worth getting to know:

Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen, MD, founder and chairman of the German Association for Cannabis as Medicine (ACM), founder and executive director of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM) and chairman of the Medical Cannabis Declaration (MCD).

Dr. Pierre Debs, scientist with 25+ years academic research experience with genetic engineering, stem cell biology, somatic cell reprogramming and the endocannabinoid system.

Dr. Ingo Michels, MD, International Coordinator of the EU Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP) at the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt on Main, Germany, as well as former Head of the Drugs and Prison projects department of the German AIDS-Hilfe in Berlin, former Drug Commissioner of the Federal State of Bremen, Germany, and former Head of the Office of the Federal Drug Commissioner, Federal Ministry of Health in Berlin.

Dr. Jokūbas Žiburkus, PhD, neuroscientist with over 20 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, tenured Associate Professor at the University of Houston, and co-founder of CannTelligence,an educational and biotechnological innovation hub for cannabis industry-related projects.

Dr. Pavel Jeřábek, medical cannabis specialist and cannabis inspector for the Czech State Institute For Drug Control (SÚKL – State Agency for Medical Cannabis).

Dr. Pavel Kubů, MD, co-founder of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (formerly known as Konomed), board member of the Czech National Forum for eHealth and Business Development Manager at Intel Corporation.

Ognjen Brborovic, PhD, author in 20+ scientific papers published in peer reviewed journals, former vice-president of Croatian Public Health Society, and President of the Minister Committee on Medical Cannabis in Croatia.

Susan Audino, PhD, owner and operator of a consulting firm to service chemical and biological laboratories, an A2LA Lead Assessor and Instructor, a Board Member for the Center for Research on Environmental Medicine in Maryland, and chair of the first AOAC Cannabis Working Group.

Get your tickets now to see this amazing line-up! Prices go up on March 17th!