January 18, 2017

Anthony Johnson, Marijuana Politics Blogger and Editor

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.

The California Cannabis Market Is How Big?

Grape Crush Marijuana

A new figure has been making the rounds that has ganjapreneurs and cannabis investors on the west coast sitting up in their seat. The number is $23.3 billion, and it’s the latest economic estimate on just how much cannabis stands to be produced in California now that plant is coming out of the proverbial closet of prohibition.

Where did this number come from?

Last week, The Orange County Register deduced data sourced from California Department of Agriculture, Drug Enforcement Agency, Leafly.com, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and Priceofweed.com to estimate current marijuana market production and values. The paper came up with a huge figure – one which places marijuana at the top of the state’s crop production, and would account for more market activity than the next five agricultural commodities combined. (Milk, almonds, grapes, cattle, and lettuce in California account for $22.2 billion annually.)

Veteran drug policy expert Phillip Smith explains how the newspaper arrived at its conclusion, but suggests the number may be a little high:

“The newspaper extrapolated from seizures of pot plants, which have averaged more than two million a year in the state for the past five years, and, citing the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, used the common heuristic that seizures account for only 10 percent to 20 percent of drugs produced. That led it to an estimate of 13.2 million plants grown in the state in 2015 (with 2.6 million destroyed), based on the high-end 20 percent figure.

“It then assumed that each plant would produce one pound of pot at a market price of $1,765 a pound. Outdoor plans can produce much more than a pound, but indoor plants may only produce a few ounces, so the one-pound average figure is safely conservative.

“The $1,765 per pound farm gate price is probably optimistic, though, especially for outdoor grown marijuana, which fetches a lower price than indoor, and especially for large producers moving multi-dozen or—hundred pound loads.”

While the newest number estimating California’s entry into the legal adult cannabis market could be overstated, there is no doubt that marijuana is already the state’s biggest cash crop, and it’s only going to get bigger.

Find out more on February 17th at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Join industry pioneers, leaders, investors and entrepreneurs who are forging the path of this exciting new trade enterprise.

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

Don’t Miss Henry Rollins at the ICBC in San Francisco!

Henry Rollins
The upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in San Francisco, will once again display revolutionary, unique thinking by featuring a keynote address by entertainment guru and internationally-famed rockstar Henry Rollins. The informative conference will take place for one day only on Friday, February 17th, but attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with the Rollins and other conference speakers at a VIP event the evening of the 16th.

Rollins is an acclaimed American musician, actor, writer, and comedian. Rollins hosts a weekly broadcast on NPR affiliate KCRW in Los Angeles and is a regular contributor to LA Weekly and Rolling Stone Australia, and he follows on the heels of previous ICBC keynoters such as former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, author and blogging pioneer Andrew Sullivan and travel guru Rick Steves.

Rollins is a true pioneer of contemporary American culture and a long-time human rights advocate, and is not shy about his feelings on cannabis. Rollins is known in political spaces for extensive work he has done to support gay rights and gay  marriage, and for his efforts to help exonerate the “West Memphis Three”, a group of three young men from West Memphis who many believe were wrongly accused of murder. Rollins has also done work with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization.

Regarding cannabis, Rollins has been forthcoming. Henry attended the first High Times Cannabis Cup to be held in an adult-legal US state – it was 4/20 in Denver in 2014. While many “insiders” of the cannabis world have a lot of opinions about where we are going, Rollins’ ability to look at the external elements of the situation is obvious.

From Rollins’ Westword article about his Cannabis Cup experience:

Damn, that was a great day. We arrived at “The Cup” a little before the 1100 hrs. opening. The line stretched around the parking lot. Thanks to a media pass, I was one of the first ones in. I stood facing the doors, watching people stream past me. Mostly young, white and very excited. Lots of happy noise. People yelled “Happy 4-20, Henry!” at me as they poured into the massive Denver Mart for day two of this epic event. I read on CNN.com that “tens of thousands of visitors — by some estimates 80,000 — [have] come to Denver to mark 4-20 (April 20), a date that’s emerged as a holiday among those steeped in cannabis culture.

That’s a lot of people, but that’s missing the point. I don’t think there is a “cannabis culture,” any more than there is a “tobacco culture.” Cannabis consumption is not a fringe-element interest. Some might like to think it is, but that’s just prejudicial bullshit, intended to prolong the myth that only deviants and other undesirables seek out the weed.

“Henry Rollins is a name recognized through countless and widely-varied circles of artists, scholars, and political animals of many stripes,” says Alex Rogers, lead producer of the ICBC. “Henry has continued to push himself forward and to the brink physically, intellectually, emotionally, and in terms of social awareness over the past several decades. He is an out-of-the-box thinker who has been way ahead of his time on many social justice issues.”

The International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco will arm attendees with important knowledge about the California cannabis industry and business in general. Keynote speaker Henry Rollins provides industry participants with a fresh, outside-the-box voice from someone who has been outspoken and unafraid of taking calculated risks to make the world a more enriched place to be. Tickets are expected to sell out, so don’t wait to get yours!

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

Dutch to Increase Medical Marijuana Exports to Germany

Medical cannabis sphere
Dutch newspaper Telegraaf reported earlier this month that exportation of medical cannabis from the Netherlands is looking very likely to increase due primarily to increases in demand fueled by the burgeoning market for medical marijuana in Germany. The Netherlands currently exports medical cannabis to Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Finland and Germany for medical use, scientific research, and importation and exportation of cannabis resins.
The English language news website Dutch News reports:
The current export limit is 100 kilos but this will soon be increased 350 kilos and go up again to 700 kilos in 2019, the Telegraaf said.
Until now, the production of medical marijuana has cost more than is reaped in sales but the increase in exports will generate cash for the treasury, the Telegraaf said.
Medical marijuana is not an official medicine in the Netherlands and is not included in the basic health insurance policy.
Obviously the Dutch have long been known as a major international destination of cannabis liberty, with their quasi-legal and highly tolerant policies regarding the plant. Indeed the Netherlands has been growing cannabis for medical purposes since 2001 through its Cannabis Bureau agency.
In the United States there are five categories, or schedules, in which regulated drugs are placed. Those drugs which fall into the “Schedule I” category are considered to have absolutely no medical value and are absolutely forbidden. Cannabis, along with a few other substances such as heroin and LSD, fall into this group. Unsurprisingly the Dutch take a much easier approach, in which drugs fall into two basic categories “hard drugs” and “soft drugs”. Recognizing that scientific research always yields new information, their policy allows for exemptions to be granted to certain agencies to study substances in the “hard drugs” category.
The country’s Cannabis Bureau has received such an exemption and through this government agency, oversees five licensed brands in the Dutch market, which are then sold in pharmacies. Those brands are all produced through one company called Bedrocan, working under contract for the Dutch Ministry of Health.
There is no doubt that things are moving forward at a rapid pace in Europe on the medical cannabis front. As the United States and world progress toward a legal international cannabis market, it will be interesting to see how the more capitalist-leaning United States will compete on the market with more long-established government-run programs.
The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Berlin, Germany, on April 10-12, 2017, will be the best place to begin to answer those questions. Cannabis experts from around the globe will be in attendance and creating the future of the marijuana world. You won’t want to miss it!
This blog was originally posted at www.internationalcbc.com and has been reposted here with special permission. 

Will Denver Be Replaced as America’s Marijuana Capital?

Following Colorado’s brave leap into adult legalization in 2012, there is general agreement that Denver currently sits as the cannabis capital of the United States – and maybe the world. On the flip side, Northern California remains a stronghold of OG producers and activists in both licit and illicit markets, earning  The Emerald Triangle and the San Francisco Bay area a long-term international association with quality cannabis.
It’s hard to say which city may end up taking the crown, but with California and several other states coming online as the next big cannabis legalization state in the country, the fight is on to capture the title as the next new world cannabis capital. Los Angeles? Boston? Sacramento?
Adam Bierman is the founder of MedMen, a cannabis business consulting firm based in Los Angeles. Naturally, Adam predicts Los Angeles will emerge as the dominant global cannabis destination in a piece for CNBC
Los Angeles will emerge as the marijuana capital of the world. The financial industry has Wall Street, the tech industry has Silicon Valley, and the cannabis industry will soon have Los Angeles. No disrespect to Denver, but Los Angeles is about to come out of the shadows and steal the spotlight. 
By some estimates Los Angeles’s medical cannabis market is already worth close to $1 billion, larger than Colorado’s entire recreational market. Unfortunately, most of that business operates in the shadows today. But that is about to change. 
However, marijuana expert Troy Dayton CEO of The Arcview Group, a cannabis angel investment organization, argued in Masslive.com that the East Coast’s Boston could play a leading role as the next international cannabis destination. 
“Unlike other places where cannabis is legal, Boston is within driving distance of many of the most populous places in America,” Dayton said. ‘This will make Boston the cannabis capital of the world in short order. This cannabis tourism will drive significant revenue, tax dollars, and job growth which will make legalization very attractive to neighboring states.”
Still yet others see cannabis as another crop that should become normalized like other commodity products in the central valley region of California, which serves as the backbone of US agriculture both domestically and abroad From Reuters:
“The Sacramento region should be to cannabis what Detroit is to automobiles in terms of both a center of innovation as well as production,” said Daniel Conway, who left his job as chief of staff to Sacramento Mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson to become Truth Enterprises’ managing partner. “This region has the ability to be to cannabis what Sonoma and Napa are to wine.”
Centering some of that business in the Sacramento region would take advantage of the area’s proximity to farmland and agricultural processing facilities as well as such population hubs such as the San Francisco Bay Area and tourist destinations like Lake Tahoe and the Napa Valley….
So what will be the next big cannabis capital of the world? The debate is on! Come join the argument this February 17 at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, CA and find out! 
This blog was originally published at www.internationalcbc.com and has been reposted here with special permission.

California Cannabis Industry Must Be Prepared

California Flag
Business and cannabis experts agree, California is positioned to be the dominant world market for legal marijuana following the passage of Proposition 64 during the election this past November. While California has had some degree of legal cannabis since 1996, when it passed the country’s first medical cannabis law, Proposition 215, regulations have been varied and imperfect. Statewide standards have been virtually non-existent in the Golden State.
Though Colorado and Washington passed adult-use recreational marijuana measures four years ago in 2012, businesses in those states still struggle to keep up with the changing whims of overly-cautious politicians. As California moves adult use cannabis into a legal industry, the state will face many similar battles. Currently, some legislators there are pushing to ban billboard advertising on in-state highways.
According to Peter Hecht of The Sacramento Bee:
For months, westbound commuters on Highway 50 were greeted with a towering billboard of pot culture icon Tommy Chong pitching his Chong’s Choice marijuana products and directing motorists to a Sacramento dispensary, the Horizon Collective.
…[But] State lawmakers are considering legislation – Assembly Bill 64 – that would amend California’s recently passed Proposition 64 recreational marijuana initiative by imposing stricter rules for marijuana advertising.
Proposition 64, which allows adults 21 and over to possess an ounce of marijuana and creates a framework for recreational pot sales by Jan. 1, 2018, banned marijuana advertisements on interstate highways crossing the border into California. The new legislation would extend the ban to prohibit marijuana advertising along any stretch of interstate or state highway in California.
The uncertainty of a brand-new market, especially a market which comes with so many extreme positive and negative feelings, creates a large amount of unpredictability. People getting into the cannabis industry will need a strong business plan and a team of skilled and knowledgeable persons for any new cannabis enterprise. If you want to be part of the coalition of cannabis entrepreneurs working to understand these evolving laws and advocate for sensible regulations, you won’t want to miss the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, CA, on February 17th, 2017.
This blog was originally published at www.internationalcbc.com and has been reposted here with special permission.

Some Things to Know About Germany and Marijuana

Marijuana in Germany

With the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) making its first appearance in Berlin in April, it is good for attendees to get up-to-date on the latest cannabis developments in Germany. Like many places across the world, marijuana is moving more and more mainstream in Germany with some major political advancements. Also, like many places around the globe, positive change can come much slower than it should.

Thelocal.de delivers German news in English and ran the piece “Five things to know about weed in Germany” covering: who can smoke; when will it be legalized; how much can you possess; how widespread is marijuana use; and what about stoner culture. From www.thelocal.de:

Who can smoke?

In the country of 81 million people, about 650 patients had been legally granted permission to use medicinal cannabis products from pharmacies as of spring of 2016.

How much can you possess?

The amount that an individual can possess without being prosecuted varies across the 16 states. In capital city Berlin, the rules are much more liberal, with the possession limit being 15 grams in most cases. In many other states, the limit is six grams.

How widespread is marijuana use?

A Eurostat study for 2015 showed that more German young men smoke weed than young women with roughly 18 percent of men aged between 15 and 24 reporting using cannabis in 2012, compared to a little more than 10 percent of women in that age group.

Head on over to www.thelocal.de to read the entire post. 

As cannabis law reformers know, it is often two steps forward and one step back, but the most important thing is to keep making progress. With recent political progress in Berlin and Düsseldorf, Germany is poised to legalize cannabis in the near future, but it will take a lot of work on several fronts. We hope that the ICBC will help add to the momentum in Germany and the country will see an increase in the number of patients, the mainstreaming of cannabis use overall and soon, legal cannabis commerce among adults. The future of the German cannabis industry is very bright and advancements in the European Union powerhouse will only help our international fight to end cannabis prohibition.

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

Düsseldorf, Germany, Looks to Legalize Cannabis


Cannabis law reform can move at a very rapid pace once the momentum for legalization takes hold. While it can be extremely frustrating that such an obviously failed policy like cannabis prohibition can exist, it is very important for advocates to appreciate the relative speed of our progress and to capitalize on our gains. The recent advances in Germany are just the latest example of great success on the international stage, with theDüsseldorf City Council moving forward with plans to legalize as just the latest example.

Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international public broadcast company, reported on DW.com:

The Düsseldorf City Council has taken advice from experts on plans to legalize the sale of cannabis. It hopes to use scientific research to gain the approval it needs from the federal government.


Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg borough council applied last year to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices for a similar license, but the application was refused on the grounds that it was deemed to be in direct conflict with narcotics law.

Düsseldorf hopes to avoid the same fate by using a scientific study to clarify the effects of legalized cannabis. Should the study show that participants were not negatively affected by their ability to purchase the drug legally, the scheme would be rolled out to all adults.

It is very promising to see such advances in Germany, a world economic power with great influence in the European Union and beyond. With legalized medical cannabis and de facto decriminalization prevalent across the nation, several German localities are considering bold progressive policies that will help shape Germany’s federal policy.

As Deutsche Welle noted, representatives from other German cities, including Cologne and Münster attended the Düsseldorf cannabis policy meeting with experts, a sign that those locales are interested in implementing more sound marijuana policies. With Berlin moving forward with a plan to legalize cannabis coffee shops and Düsseldorf’s pilot proposal, it is clear that Germany will be a hotbed of progressive cannabis news in the months and years to come.

The upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Berlin will certainly delve into the latest developments in Germany and the EU. The ICBC is shaping up to be an extremely important international cannabis event that should not be missed by those in the industry or thinking of joining the cannabis industry in Germany or anywhere in the European Union. 

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

Major International Cannabis Business Deal Reached

Grape Crush Marijuana

There are signs that cannabis legalization is progressing at a rapid pace are abundant around the globe these days. From electoral victories to cultural milestones to the news that advocates are laying the groundwork for future political success stories all around us. Of course, cannabis legalization is also major economic news and the recent report of a major international  business deal is yet another signal of the global progress to end prohibition.

The Globe and Mail reported:

Canopy Growth Corp. of Smiths Falls, Ont., has an agreement to buy pharmaceutical distributor MedCann, which has placed the Canadian marijuana company’s Tweed-branded cannabis strains in German pharmacies.

The purchase – subject to approvals – will be made with Canopy shares, which on Friday closed at $10.60 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

At that value, the transaction would be worth about $7.2-million upon closing.

Canopy Growth, potentially a billion dollar cannabis company, obviously sees the benefit of acquiring a major German cannabis distributor. With Germany making major advancements in cannabis policy, especially in Berlin, Canopy Growth, like many industry observers, understands that Germany, an economic superpower, will be a huge market in the coming years. As Germany goes, the rest of the European Union will likely follow, only adding to the great momentum that we are seeing around the world.

The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Berlin on April 10-12, 2017, will be delving into the latest developments in Germany, Europe and the world. The ICBC is poised to be a very important event during an exciting time for the international cannabis movement. You can learn more about the upcoming ICBC at www.internationalcbc.com

This blog post was originally published by the International Cannabis Business Conference and has been reposted here with special permission.

European Union Parliament Hosts Medical Cannabis Conference


Support for medical cannabis has skyrocketed across the globe in recent years as poll after poll has revealed a supermajority of voters favoring medical marijuana. In yet another sign of the mainstream support of medical use, the European Parliament recently hosted the International Conference on Medical Cannabis in Brussels, Belgium. Prominent European doctors, researchers, advocates and politicians spoke at the conference, advocating for sensible cannabis laws to be implemented across the EU.

Leafly reported on the conference:

Lying on an adjusted hospital bed, Dr. Franjo Grotenhemen, chairman of the International Association for Cannabinoids in Medicine (IACM), gave an insightful update on recent developments in Germany. “The German government has prepared a bill,” he said. “It was forced by court decisions to do this. But as a political leader, you say: ‘I was not forced, I changed my mind.’ So the politicians changed their mind in all German parties, that patients should have access to cannabis products if they need them.”

Most speakers focused on patients needs and the incredible results seen with cannabis treatment, but some also brought up legalization’s economic benefits. Saul Kaye, an Israeli pharmacist and cannabis activist, painted a picture of how his country benefits from its medical cannabis program, the oldest in the world. “For regulators in the room,” he said, “it’s no longer a question of if, it’s now a question of how and when you do it. Every decision you make has an implication in the value chain that you can create. This is an industry that is exploding worldwide, an industry that will make a lot of money and that is the driver. What you need to consider is whether you want to be part of that new initiative or whether you want to block it.”


In his closing remarks, a German member of the European Parliament, Stefan Eck, took a clear and strong position. “For 5,000 years, cannabis has been used for medical purposes, and in my opinion it is now time to legalize cannabis for medical purposes in the EU as well. I believe that, as soon as possible, we should at least implement a Europe-wide legalization of cannabis for medical purposes. This is the minimum. And we should always keep in mind that the ban on cannabis is absolutely illogical as long as other substances, like nicotine and alcohol, are allowed. I would like to thank you for taking part in this important conference and close by saying unequivocally: Legalize it!”

It is great to see such progress across the globe, and we look forward to helping the momentum for the international movement when the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) heads to Berlin, Germany, April 10-12, 2017. With medical cannabis legal through German dispensaries, Berlin seeking to legalize cannabis coffeeshops and German politicians like Stefan Eck fighting for legalization, Germany is certainly helping lead the way in the European Union. If the EU legalizes medical cannabis across the board, then adult-use will follow suit. These are exciting times for the cannabis law reform movement, and while there will be some speed bumps along the way, our progress around the world shows that prohibition’s days are numbered.

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

Berlin Seeks to Legalize Cannabis Coffee Shops


Germany’s federal republic form of government allows for the country’s 16 different states to implement different laws so long as they don’t interfere with policies reserved for the federal government, such as foreign policy. Germany’s different states have different cannabis law, for instance, with some states decriminalizing up to 6 grams of cannabis, versus Berlin, which allows people to possess up to 15 grams. Berlin’s new progressive coalition government is now seeking to further liberalize the capital city’s marijuana policy by licensing cannabis coffee shops.

The Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain borough of Berlin voted to allow cannabis coffee shops back in 2013, but the plan wasn’t ultimately approved. This is the first time that the entire city of Berlin has moved forward with legalizing commercial cannabis sales. While Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health will have their say on the issue, it is important that Berlin is taking this step forward.

From Marijuana.com:

The new government has to prepare an application for the controlled cannabis delivery model and send it to the Federal Ministry of Health — the conservative ministry rejected the District of Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain application in 2015. However, in the time it takes for the document to be worked out, formulated and submitted, laws may change with the federal elections in 2017. The City Municipality of Bremen is a recent example of a city-state that pursued similar legislation. In April 2016, the new government of Bremen announced the decriminalization of up to three cannabis plants. They also relaxed the criteria for DUI rules and established their coffeeshop-pilot program.

If Bremen and Berlin decide to issue licenses for monitored cannabis shops, chances are there will be a limited number of state-controlled shops in Bremen and Berlin opening as soon as 2018 or 2019; their activities will be the subject of scientific studies. In addition, the new law on medical cannabis use is expected to lead to a rapid increase in patient enrollment starting in Spring 2017. If medical cultivation licenses for German companies are given out next year, Berlin and Bremen coffeeshops could receive legal, domestically grown medical-grade cannabis.

Berlin is a world economic power and the legalization of cannabis coffeeshops in the city would be a huge step forward for the international movement to end cannabis prohibition. Whether this particular coffee shop plan gets implemented, it is clear that Germany, led by its capital city, is moving towards ending prohibition. With medical cannabis already legalized, adult-use decriminalized, and Berlin’s coalition government seeking to legalize cannabis commerce, it is only a matter of time before Germany ends cannabis prohibition.

As Germany goes, the rest of the European Union will soon follow. I am certainly excited about learning about the latest developments in Germany and the rest of Europe at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Berlin on April 10-12, 2017, as it seems like the perfect time for cannabis entrepreneurs and law reform advocates to converge upon this burgeoning cannabis scene. City by city, state by state, country by country, we are making amazing progress around the globe and it certainly appears that Berlin, Germany, will be helping lead our global fight against the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition.

Featured photo by Bleppo.

After Another Successful OMBC, Organizers Prep for the Next ICBC in Berlin


The Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC) last weekend was another sold-out event that brought cannabis industry participants, and those thinking of joining, to beautiful Ashland to learn the latest about Oregon’s medical and adult use cannabis laws. An amazing VIP pre-party on Friday kicked off the the conference as the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites were excellent  hosts and Ed Rosenthal, the Guru of Ganja, and OMBC lead producer Alex Rogers shared a few words with party attendees. Compassionate Oregon hosted a great after-party following the VIP event and the OMBC staff and management were certainly very understanding of the celebratory mood of conference attendees.

Rosenthal, never one to mince words or sugar coat anything, kicked off the conference on Saturday morning with a keynote address that was both sobering about the potential challenges ahead, potentially from the incoming Donald Trump Administration, but also hopeful as he discussed that overcoming difficult times is nothing new to the cannabis community. The Guru of Ganja finished his address with a celebration of the cannabis plant and what it has done for himself and many others across the globe.

Rob Patridge, the Chair of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), ventured into the belly of the beast so to speak to discuss the OLCC’s regulations of the adult use commercial cannabis market. While no one is happy with all of the state’s regulations, many in the industry, at the OMBC and across the state, acknowledge that the OLCC has been relatively responsive to the needs of the industry. Chair Patridge took questions from the audience and two OLCC staffers, Amanda Borup and Danica Hibpshman, served on a couple of panels to provide the latest information for conference attendees. The OLCC contingent stressed that they want to help the cannabis industry to succeed and that questions can be directed to marijuana@oregon.gov.

All of the panels were filled with experts in various fields of the industry, as attendees learned about virtually every facet of the cannabis industry, including licensing; testing; packaging; labeling; employment law; intellectual property law; and new provisions in the law intended to help small farmers and those cultivating for patients. Steve Bloom’s interview with Tommy Chong capped off the conference as the cannabis cultural icon discussed politics, activism and his long career in music, comedy and the cannabis industry. OMBC attendees were then treated to an exclusive performance by hip-hop legend Del the Funky Homosapien, who once again rocked a packed Brickroom with his unique hip-hop style.

All of us working on the OMBC put in a ton of work and are proud to provide great information and networking opportunities for the amazing people in the cannabis industry. We are so excited to head to Europe for the first time as we organize the next International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Berlin on April 11-12, 2017. Germany has legalized medical cannabis and the economic powerhouse is poised to be a force in the international cannabis scene. We would like to thank everyone who helped with the OMBC, especially the vendors, speakers and attendees who make it all possible. If you are able, you should join us for a historic ICBC in Berlin as we continue the momentum behind our global fight for freedom for the cannabis community.

OMBC crowd
OMBC attendees learned the latest about Oregon’s cannabis laws.
OMBC vendors
Amazing vendors filled the expo rooms at the OMBC.
Del Brickroom 2016
Hip-hop legend Del the Funky Homosapien wowed OMBC attendees who packed Ashland’s Brickroom for an exclusive concert performance.

Purchase OMBC Tickets By Midnight Before Prices Go Up


The Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC) starts this Saturday, November 19th, with an information-filled program that will have the latest on Oregon’s medical and recreational cannabis systems. Ed Rosenthal, the Guru of Ganja, a long-time cultivation expert and activist will kick off the conference. Rosenthal, a no-holds barred advocate once made news in the Rogue Valley by successfully retrieving cannabis confiscated from him at the Medford airport, without an Oregon medical marijuana card and before legalization had passed. In full disclosure, I help organize the content for the OMBC and am proud of the curriculum that the event provides attendees.

For those able to spend Friday evening in beautiful Ashland, the OMBC is also hosting a VIP event  at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites’ Stardust Lounge, from 6pm to 8pm. Conference speakers, including Rosenthal, and local entrepreneurs, will be in attendance, making the VIP event a premier networking opportunity for those in the cannabis industry or thinking of joining.

The Organic Alcohol Company is sponsoring the VIP event that will feature hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. The Organic Alcohol Company, a local distillery committed to the environmental and economic health of the Rogue Valley, is a great partner for the OMBC and the entire Oregon cannabis community.

The OMBC returns to Ashland at a crucial time for the Oregon cannabis industry as medical and recreational growers, processors and retailers adjust to new regulations. Medical dispensaries won’t be allowed to sell to the general population on January 1st, so many in the industry are transitioning to the recreational system regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). The OMBC will have the latest information for those that want to get an OLCC license or want to remain strictly medical providers. Rob Patridge, Chair of the OLCC, will be speaking and answering questions, and a few other OLCC staffers will be on hand as well, giving attendees plenty of opportunities to have their concerns addressed by state regulators.

The OMBC will also feature panels with business people that have succeeded in both the medical and recreational systems, as they share tips of the trade. The one-and-only Tommy Chong will close the conference program with and illuminating celebrity interview by Celebstoner’s Steve Bloom. Tommy will dish on his life and career, from his early musical career to his time with Cheech Marin to serving prison time to launching his own line of cannabis. Following the conference, attendees will be treated to an exclusive concert with hip-hop legend Del the Funky Homosapien at the Brickroom.

Information about the Friday VIP event, Saturday’s conference and the Saturday-night after-party is available at the OMBC website. Tickets can be purchased online, at several local businesses or by phone at 541-864-0090. Tickets secured before Friday are $199, $299 if including the Friday VIP event. Starting Friday, prices go up to $249 and $349, so get your tickets now!

Chong’s Choices: Entertainer, Prisoner, Activist and Entrepreneur

Tommy Chong

The Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC) returns to Ashland, Oregon, with another informative networking event and this time cannabis icon Tommy Chong will be joining. OMBC attendees will get a chance to hear from the Guru of Ganja, Ed Rosenthal, and then learn the latest about Oregon’s medical and recreational cannabis laws from lawyers, business owners and the Chair of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Rob Patridge, who is overseeing the regulation of the adult cannabis commerce system. The conference will end with an celebrity interview with the one-and-only Tommy Chong.

Tommy Chong’s life and career very much mimics the recent history of the cannabis community. Launching in 1971, Cheech and Chong were major comedic stars as audiences around the globe laughed at, and with, a couple of lovable stoners. Like many in the cannabis community, Chong was arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned. Just as many have before him, Tommy regrouped after prison, continued a recurring stint on the hit TV show, That 70’s Show, and then went on to become a cannabis entrepreneur once again, culminating in the release of his own cannabis brand, Chong’s Choice.

In 2003, the federal government initiated Operation Pipe Dreams, a futile, wasteful effort that targeted the sellers of marijuana paraphernalia, mainly bongs, under federal a seldom-enforced law. The law enforcement effort cost taxpayers over $12 million and more than 2,000 officers were involved in a nationwide sting that ensnared Tommy’s family as undercover agents pressured his son, Paris, to ship bongs to a fake store in a Pittsburgh suburb, successfully getting him to break the company’s policy of avoiding shipping any bongs to states where federal law against cannabis paraphernalia was being enforced. In exchange for federal charges being dropped against his wife and son, Tommy plead guilty and was sentenced to 9 months in prison. Of the 55 people raided during Operation Pipe Dreams, Tommy Chong was the only one that was actually incarcerated.

Thirteen years after serving time as a Drug War political prisoner, Tommy Chong has now launched his own line of cannabis, Chong’s Choice. It is amazing to me, and a testament to how far that we’ve come as a political movement, that you can now plug in your zip code and find the closest Chong’s Choice retailer closest to you. At the OMBC, Tommy will share many valuable stories and lessons from his life and career and he is always so generous with his time as he appreciates his fans immensely. After the conference, he’ll even make an appearance at the after-party that features hip-hop legend Del the Funky Homosapien. The OMBC is this weekend, so get your tickets before the event sells out. It is always the right choice to get informed and learn from those like Tommy Chong that have helped pave the way and are still innovating today.

Micro-Canopy and Medical Expansion Will Help Small Oregon Farmers


Over-regulation and the influx of big money are two of the major issues facing Oregon and every state that legalizes cannabis commerce. While regulation is  a much preferred policy than prohibition, that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems to address. The costs of doing licences and local land use regulations are two major hurdles facing small Oregon cannabis farmers. The establishment of a micro-canopy license and the future canopy expansion for medical growers should help smaller Oregon cannabis farmers survive, and hopefully thrive, in a very competitive system. I’ll be helping cover these important aspects of Oregon’s marijuana licensing system at the upcoming Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC).

A tier one micro license costs $1,000 and allows for cultivation up to 625 square feet indoor of canopy or 2,500 sq. ft. for outdoor. The tier two micro license allows double the amount of canopy as the tier one and the license costs twice as much. The micro licenses are a bit more affordable than the regular producer licenses that cost $3,750 and $5750, comparatively. In addition to the cheaper licenses, the micro licenses don’t require a land use compatibility statement from the local government. While outright local bans prevent state licensure, other local regulations that could prevent larger marijuana farms won’t stop small farmers from getting their micro license.

The state is currently working on rules that will allow for an expansion of canopy size for recreational-market growers that continue to cultivate for medical patients. The details are still being ironed out, but it is possible that a tier one micro grower could get up to a 100% increase in cannabis canopy that will be allocated for medical patients, processors and dispensaries. Tier two micro growers will also get a boost on their canopy size, but it is likely to be less percentage-wise than the smaller, tier one growers. While the medical canopy must stay in the medical system, growers will be able to be reimbursed for costs from patients and may profit from sales at medical dispensaries.

While many great things have occurred due to legalization, there have been too many changes to the law that unfairly hurt small farmers and the medical system at large. Fortunately, there are some provisions in the law designed to help mom-and-pops and those that are compassionate enough to care for patients. More needs to be done, but the micro-canopy licenses and medical canopy expansions are great first steps. I look forward to discussing these first few steps, and our next steps to improve Oregon’s marijuana laws, at the OMBC in Ashland on November 19th.

OMBC to Cover Local Marijuana Regulations


“All politics is local” is a political cliche, but it is certainly true in Oregon cannabis politics. Regardless of how well a state legalization law is crafted, the devil is in the details when it comes time to open a cannabis business or even maintain a medical garden. The details of the local regulations governing your locality can be the determining factor whether your business or operation can be successful.

A state law, like Measure 91, can start with low barriers to entry, like the $1250 application fee initially passed by voters, but when the Oregon Legislature increases the cost near fourfold, a major barrier was made steeper. Throw in an additional local application fee and zoning regulations, and some major hurdles have been imposed.

If a locality imposes a ban on cannabis businesses altogether, then the ultimate barrier has been imposed. With the importance of these local regulations to the Oregon cannabis community apparent, the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC), will have a panel focusing on localities, staffed with experts and lawyers that can answer your important questions.

There are more than 100 local marijuana measures on the ballot this November in more than 50 communities, from imposing a 3% local tax on sales, to outright bans on businesses to limiting medical grows. I helped Sherwood advocates put out a radio ad calling for the defeat of their current ban on regulated businesses and the messaging can be utilized by all communities fighting against such bans.

Even progressive Portland has buried businesses with a multitude of duplicative regulations and may impose an additional city tax.  Medford is already levying fines on outdoor medical gardens and the voters will ultimately have the final say on limitations on gardens and  bans on businesses. Nearby Douglas County has put a ban up for a vote as well.The OMBC on November 19th will allow the cannabis community to sift through the electoral results and focus on next steps for entrepreneurs and advocates alike. Come join us at the OMBC as we help entrepreneurs and activists deal with the political fallout of the election, prepare for local and state regulations, and plan for how we can protect and improve Oregon’s cannabis laws.

Get your tickets before the early bird sale ends on November 2nd and save.