June 24, 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.

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?


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!

Legalizing Cannabis Can Help Make America Great Again, Mr. President

medical marijuana strains

On Tuesday, February 28th, President Donald Trump gave his first address to the Houses of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, outlining his agenda for the next for years. Many agree the speech was by far the most eloquent and presidential the new head of state has sounded in public since taking office. Yet Trump’s words remain as ambiguous as ever, with obscure intentions and generalized commitments to action, leaving the drug policy community in a continued state of uncertainty.

However, if we accept Trumps’ rhetoric at face value, one interpretation leaves open the possibility that in fact, the President could weave cannabis legalization into this plans. While leaving out cannabis specifically, the President addressed “drugs” as an important policy issue three times in his speech:

“We’ve defended the borders of other nations while leaving our own borders wide open for anyone to cross, and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate….

“We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth, and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted….

“Fourth, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.”

On all three points, the President could achieve his policy goals by eliminating cannabis prohibition altogether. First, Trump’s extreme concern with border safety suggests he wants to lessen the power of foreign criminal cartels profiting from the illegal drug market. But as the last few years of policy experimentation have shown, the regulation of the cannabis market in the US has taken away profits from those cartels by allowing the transparency and oversight of a legally controlled industry. The consumer preference is clear: Americans want to buy home-grown cannabis and keep cannabis jobs in the country.

Second, the President references the problems of addiction, and the need for expanded treatment, especially for youth. While I disagree that “drugs are pouring into our country”, I wholeheartedly support a policy that favors treatment over incarceration in dealing with substance abuse issues for the simple reasons that treatment is cheaper, more effective and humane. And if the President is looking to curb overdose deaths from opiates specifically, then loosening cannabis laws is certainly the way to go.

Finally, President Trump has made reducing the cost of medicines a central part of his platform and promises to the American people. With so much scientific research emerging regarding the benefits of cannabis as a replacement for many more dangerous pharmaceuticals, one clearly sensible solution to the high cost of health care is allowing American citizens the freedom to grow their own alternative medicine.

The future remains unknown, but two things are for sure; first, the world is watching, as always, to see what policy direction the United States takes. Second, the world is planning to react based on those actions, and it is highly doubtful that other countries are going to scale back the progress being made on the cannabis front. Scientific understanding of the plant is increasing daily, and patients are finding relief from myriad maladies.

Serious cannabis entrepreneurs and advocates will want to keep an eye on US politics, but will need to stay on top of other emerging cannabis markets. If the United States doesn’t lead the way on legalized cannabis, then other countries, such as Germany, will be poised to take the lead and reap the economic and social benefits. Of course, the best way to be informed on where cannabis is going is to join the cadre of experts attending the International Cannabis Business Conference this April 10-12th, in Berlin, Germany!

This blog was originally published at www.internationalcbc.com and was reposted here with special permission. 

The Netherlands Moves Towards Improving Cannabis Cultivation Laws

Seemingly everyday (even when there might be some concerning news), cannabis policy is moving forward around the globe.

On Tuesday, the Dutch lower house of parliament voted to open up their cannabis laws. This follows on the heels of news that Dutch medical marijuana exports to Germany will increase.

The Netherlands, long known as a global leader on leniency in drug policy, cannabis policy and cannabis culture specifically, seems to be making motions to finally regulate production of cannabis. Though lenient policies have previously allowed sales and possession of small amounts of cannabis for decades, production and transportation has remained prohibited, forcing “coffee shops” which dispense the substance to rely on the illegal market, and risking criminal consequences in its acquisition.

However, hurdles remain before the proposed policy could become law. The Senate must still also vote in approval, and currently there is no majority party there or support for the new legislation. This weeks vote comes in advance of a national election on March 15th, putting seats and votes in swing. Yet many of the country’s leaders remain in opposition.

According to Bloomberg political feelings are mixed:

“With just three weeks to go until general elections, 77 of the 150 lower-chamber lawmakers supported a bill put forward by the Democrats ’66 party to introduce government regulation of cannabis cultivation. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals did not support the legislation in The Hague Tuesday, though Labor, their coalition partner, backed the measure, which will now go to the Dutch upper house.

“‘Soft drugs are part of Dutch society, but the current system doesn’t work, and this bill will fix that”, Vera Bergkamp, the D66 lawmaker who introduced the bill, said during an earlier debate in parliament in The Hague. Her proposal aims to regulate the production and supply of marijuana through a closed system to so-called coffee shops that sell the drugs to customers.

“…The Association of Dutch Municipalities strongly advocates regulation, as the authorities in many cities have become fed up with problems caused by those frequenting coffee shops. They’ve moved to restrict the number of outlets and have imposed strict rules to keep nuisance to a minimum for residents. Recent shootings at coffee shops in Amsterdam and fires in places where weed is grown illegally have added force to the argument for further government intervention.”

A concern for public safety and a desire to legitimize community-supported business are universal reasons to bring cannabis out of the criminal market. As politicians finally catch on to popular sentiment, more bills formally legitimizing the cannabis industry are being introduced and debated throughout Europe and the world.

One place for certain to learn where the Netherlands and other countries are moving in the opening of cannabis markets is the International Cannabis Business Conference. Come be part of the future of the global cannabis market on April 10-12 in Berlin, Germany!

This blog was originally posted at www.internationalcbc.com and has been republished here with special permission. 

Early Bird ICBC Ticket Pricing Ending February 1st!


The time has come again for the event of the season – The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) is San Francisco is just around the corner on February 17th!


This year, activist, musician, actor, and humanitarian Henry Rollins joins the line-up as ICBC’s Keynote Speaker, along with four-time NBA champion John Salley, who will perform a live celebrity interview onstage. John Salley will also attend the exclusive ICBC After Party at Pier 23 starting at 9 pm on February 17th – free for ICBC tickets holders only!

For those who purchase the ICBC all-inclusive ticket, you’ll have a chance to meet Henry Rollins and John Sally, along with California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and legendary cannabis crusader Tommy Chong, at a special VIP All-Star Reception on February 16th from 6-8 pm at the Hilton Union Square. Music will be provided by DJ Domino of the Hieroglyphics. Only about 20 tickets are left until the VIP event is sold out so you’ll wanna act fast!

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to be a part of the California cannabis industry’s networking event of the year! Experts and entrepreneurs from all angles of the cannabis community will be represented, from producers, wholesalers, and distributors to ancillary businesses, scientists and social change agents. We hope to see you there!


This blog was originally published at www.internationalcbc.com and has been reposted here with special permission. 

Some California Dispensaries Already Selling Recreational Marijuana

Girl Scout Cookies - Top 10 Marijuana Strains of 2016

Legalization of cannabis is one thing, but regulation is another.

Since the passage of Prop 64 in California this past election, ganjapreneurs have been busy touring the state and researching opportunities to start a new business in an exciting new market. Investors are chomping at the bit to find a the right algorithm of advisors, growers, marketers and the like to apply for and win licenses. Ensuring that one has access to the right minds, the right inputs, and the right networks will be essential to becoming a player in the cannabis world.

But for some, the market has been there all along, as have the consumers and the networks. The profits from a grey market are just as attractive as profits from a black market, and Californians are watching the process unfold, as the Cannifornian reported:

Of course, some dispensaries sold weed to just about anyone long before Prop. 64 passed. But the legalization law seems to have made these shady players even more brazen. A search on Weedmaps.com turned up many shops that now openly state they’ll sell everything from infused gummy candies to concentrated waxes after verifying only the buyer’s age, not his or her medical status.

“‘I think that they’ve gotten more emboldened,’ said James Wolak, captain of the Narcotics Bureau for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “People feel like now that it’s legal, anything goes. And that’s just not the case.'”

Legalizing cannabis means straddling the transition of strong and existing underground market structures to regulation, oversight, public influence and governmental interference. There is clearly tension between illegal operators and those willing to investment millions of dollars to be compliant.

While other states have taken the lead on changing legalization of cannabis from a medical system to a full adult-use market, California obviously has unique aspects which will affect the outcomes of the next few months. There will be regulatory challenges and obstacles, but those who can survive the hurdles will have the huge opportunity to participate in the world’s sixth largest economy. It will certainly be rewarded to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming rules that the California cannabis industry will have to abide by.

Want to know more and learn how you can navigate the largest cannabis market in the world? Come be a part of the conversation at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, for a one-day only event at the San Francisco Hilton Union Square on February 17th, 2017, where you will have the chance to ask questions of California’s Cannabis Czar firsthand. Early bird prices end on February 1st!

This blog was originally published at www.internationalcbc.com and has been reposted here with special permission.