December 4, 2016

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.

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.


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

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.

OMBC Program: Ed Rosenthal, OLCC Chair, Business Basics, Tommy Chong and More!


The Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC) returns to Ashland on November 19th at an important time for the cannabis industry, as there have been many changes to the state’s medical and adult use laws. The OMBC will have those in the industry, or thinking of joining the industry, prepared for whatever cannabis business license they choose, while providing a fun, engaging event that will allow for tremendous networking opportunities. You can check out the OMBC’s schedule here.

Full disclosure, I help organize the conference and its content, so I may be biased, but I, and everyone at the OMBC, take the job very seriously. We understand that we are asking many small farmers and business owners to part with their hard-earned cash, so we want to make sure that they get their money’s worth. We are activists first and foremost and we want to see mom-and-pops thrive and patients getting safe access to their medicine. The OMBC is an informational event, but it also is a venue for advocates to organize, share ideas, and work towards protecting and improving Oregon’s marijuana laws.

The OMBC kicks off with the Guru of Ganja, Ed Rosenthal, a longtime cannabis expert and activist who always speaks his mind. Not all of us will necessarily agree with all of the political positions of Mr. Rosenthal, but you have to respect the man’s passion and knowledge. Growers should really take advantage of the opportunity to pick the brain of such a legendary cannabis cultivator. The Guru of Ganja will be followed by Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) Chair Rob Patridge, the man leading the regulatory body given the huge task of starting the state’s licensed and regulated commercial cannabis system. If you want to know why the OLCC has made some of their decisions or share your perspective about the state’s regulations, the OMBC is the place to do it.

After the two opening speakers, the OMBC will delve into the basics of licensing, reporting, tracking, testing, labeling, and packaging; basically everything folks will need to know to be a medical or recreational cannabis entrepreneur in the Beaver State. Each panel will feature experts and attorneys, providing attendees the chance to get some answers to their burning questions. There are some important elections on the November ballot, as cities and counties across the state will determine whether they ban cannabis businesses, so it is only fitting that the OMBC include a panel that focuses on local regulations.

The cannabis community will be in for a treat at the conclusion of the conference when the one-and-only Tommy Chong will be on hand with Celebstoner’s Steve Bloom for an exclusive celebrity interview covering his life and career. Saturday night, OMBC attendees will be able to network and unwind with an exclusive concert performance by hip-hop legend Del the Funky Homosapien.

With so many changes to Oregon’s marijuana laws, tickets will go fast. Get your tickets before early bird pricing end November 2nd. 

The OMBC Program:

OMBC Ashland Schedule


Don’t Miss Cannabis Comic and Activist Ngaio Bealum at the ICBC!


Cannabis comic extraordinaire Ngaio Bealum has brought his unique brand of comedy to cannabis events and clubs around the country, including emceeing the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, California. Ngaio will be joining us in Vancouver for the ICBC on October 13th and 14th, and he will help keep the event both informative and engaging.

If you have seen Ngaio’s comedy act before, or you’ve checked him out on Doug Benson’s Getting Doug with High, then you know the man has weed jokes for days. Ngaio has opened up for Weird Al and the great Dave Chappelle, and always has the audience laughing and having a great time. You don’t even have to be a cannabis user to enjoy Mr. Bealum’s comedy…but it does help.

If you’ve been to the ICBC before, then you know that Ngaio can think quickly on his feet and be very helpful with follow-up questions and commentary as he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from years of activism and immersion within the California cannabis community. Ngaio has been an activist for a couple of decades, is a former editor of West Coast Cannabis magazine and has contributed articles for Alternet and the Guardian. Today, Bealum writes a marijuana advice column for the Sacramento News and Review and contributes to Freedom Leaf Magazine.

Ngaio wrote about his support  for California’s Proposition 64, expressing his support for small farmers, but recognizing the need to end criminal penalties, in Freedom Leaf Magazine:

As for big corporations taking over the cannabis industry, Prop 64 ensures that small-scale “boutique” grows have a spot in the marketplace. It may help to think of the new connoisseur paradigm the same way we think about beer. Sure, mass-market brands like Budweiser and Coors have a big share of the market, but where I live, we all drink local micro-brews. Craft cannabis is an emerging market niche, and growers with skill (and a good marketing plan) should have no trouble finding buyers, especially with the explosion in demand that legalization may bring.

Prop 64 is just a step. If it passes, it doesn’t mean that pot activism is over. There’s plenty more to do. We still need to get people out of jail, and there are folks awaiting trial on marijuana charges right now that could probably get them dropped if AUMA passes, such as long-time canna-activist Todd McCormick, who in August had his cultivation case delayed until after the election because prosecutors didn’t want to spend time and money prosecuting him if weed is going to be legal anyway. Freeing cannabis captives should be reason enough to vote for Prop 64.

The International Cannabis Business Conference is coming to Vancouver, British Columbia, at a great time as Canadian medical laws just changed and the nation is poised to help lead the global fight to end cannabis prohibition for all adults under Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party. The ICBC is bringing together top lawyers, experts and entrepreneurs to discuss all things cannabis business and Ngaio Bealum will be there to help keep the whole operation educational and fun. Get your tickets for the ICBC today and check out Ngaio whenever you can, listen to his podcast on Cannabis Radio, and keep tabs on him via his Facebook and Twitter pages.

This blog was originally posted by International Cannabis Business Conference and reblogged here with special permission.

Attorney Kirk Tousaw Talks About Canadian Cannabis Policy and ICBC

Kirk Tousaw ICBC

For members of the cannabis community, great attorneys can be your best friend. Effective attorneys can keep you out of prison, help you jump over regulatory hurdles and move reform efforts forward. I was fortunate to speak with one of the top cannabis lawyers in Canada, Kirk Tousaw, just head of his upcoming presentation at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Vancouver, British Columbia, on October 13-14.

Anthony Johnson: Kirk, thanks for taking the time to talk with me, can you describe your current legal practice?

Kirk Tousaw: I represent many cannabis industry participants, including an excess of 50 medical cannabis dispensaries Canada and applicants to the licensed producer program. I also defend people charged with cannabis offenses and engage in strategic litigation designed to improve Canadian cannabis law.

 AJ: Can you describe an example of this strategic litigation?
KT: Yes, I was co-counsel with a team that sued the federal government to allow patients to cultivate medical cannabis for themselves under the Constitution of Canada. The court found that Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedom guaranteed a reasonable access to cannabis, and that the ban on personal cultivation was arbitrary and caused harm, thus personal cultivation couldn’t be prohibited.
AJ: What’s your history with the cannabis movement?
KT: I’ve been an advocate for legalizing cannabis since my teens. I moved to Vancouver in 2002 and obtained a Masters in Law writing about cannabis policy. When I began practicing law, I was fortunate to work with John Conroy and we won a case in 2009 called R v. Beren that changed the medical cannabis system for the better. Public attitudes evolved as government thinking has evolved. Until recently, we had a conservative government, so it has been an uphill battle for the movement. My hope is that future advocacy occurs outside the courtroom so no one goes to jail.
AJ: What are your some of your concerns about how the federal government will proceed with legalization?
KT: Over regulation is always a fear, particularly in a new industry. However, I have great hope for the industry, regardless of the initial regulatory rollout. The system on day one won’t be the policy we have down the line. The hurdles, hiccups and problems will become to be known and we’ll move in a more positive direction. My advocacy is designed to have the government understand that it sin’t creating a new industry, but is instead bringing an existing industry into the light. Those that have built the industry need to be a part of the new system. I’m hopeful that the government understands that overregulation won’t achieve its goals, especially of eliminating the black market, if existing legacy producers and distributors can’t participate or regulations are too expensive. I’m hopeful government is receptive to the message and doesn’t miss a great opportunity for our country.
AJ: What advice will you give attendees of the International Cannabis Business Conference and those in the cannabis industry, or thinking of joining?
KT: I think right now, the most important thing is to be advocating for the laws that we want to see implemented, both in Ottawa for the federal policy as well as the provincial, municipal and tribal governments as all levels will shape the industry. It might be a time for some caution in terms of getting involved, to not move too quickly. Some may have moved too quickly under the old system and as a resulte, some are struggling because of burdensome overregulation. Caution and advocacy would be my two pieces of advice.
AJ: Thanks so much, Kirk, looking forward to seeing you in Vancouver.
KT: Thank you.
You can learn more about Kirk Tousaw from his website and by following him on Twitter. Learn from Mr. Tousaw and other entrepreneurs, activists and experts at the International Cannabis Business Conference on October 13-14 in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Get your tickets now.
This blog was originally published at International Cannabis Business Conference’s website. Reposted here with special permission.

Join NCIA at the ICBC and in Its Efforts to Improve Cannabis Laws


The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) has been at the forefront of cannabis law reform since its inception in 2010. NCIA works for sensible cannabis laws for for cannabis businesses while also supporting efforts to improve criminal law as well. With more than 1,000 members, NCIA has forged a powerful coalition that lobbies in Washington, D.C., and helps the cannabis industry stay informed and have a voice across the nation. NCIA’s Aaron Smith will even be traveling across the border to help keep  cannabis industry participants informed at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference.

Since United States Senator Chuck Grassley needlessly obstructs cannabis legislation, including the bipartisan CARERS Act, NCIA took the senator to task:

More than 80 percent of Americans believe patients should have legal access to medical marijuana. Sen. Grassley could be helping patients in need, supporting legitimate small businesses, and respecting the overwhelming will of the voters,” said Aaron Smith, executive director and co-founder of NCIA. “Instead, he plays obstructionist again, refusing to even have a conversation about a bill that has the support of Republicans and Democrats alike.

“Sen. Grassley may be stuck in the past, but the rest of us are not. It’s time for him to do his job and hold real hearings on real legislation that could make a real difference for patients and providers across the country.”

In addition to the Carers Act, Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act also sits bottled up in Sen. Grassley’s Judiciary Committee, despite a recent national AP poll showing that 61% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis.

When the Drug Enforcement Administration laughably decided to keep cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance with no medical value, Smith, shot back at the prohibitionist agency, “DEA’s decision flies in the face of objective science and overwhelming public opinion. The reality is that half of U.S. states have already passed effective laws allowing patients legal access to medical cannabis, and it is changing lives.

On our way to federally legalizing medical cannabis and ending cannabis prohibition altogether, it is imperative that Congress fix cannabis banking and tax policy. The denial of banking services poses dangers to the community as it makes cannabis businesses prime targets for robbery while also encouraging money laundering. The 280E tax provision that disallows normal business deductions for cannabis retailers also encourages dishonesty and makes it extremely hard for businesses to operate, especially mom-and-pop operations. NCIA is helping lead the way on these imperative sensible reforms in Congress.

NCIA Director Aaron Smith will be travelling up north of the border to discuss cannabis policy at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, on October 13-14. Canada has recently changed instituted several new medical reforms, including allowing home cultivation and is moving towards legalizing for all adult. When asked about the movement in Canada towards legalization, Smith stated, “Smart cannabis entrepreneurs and investors all over the world are keeping a close eye on Canada. In many ways, Canada’s national marijuana policy is already ahead of the U.S. Once adult-use becomes legal and regulated in Canada, the market size there has the potential to even rival California’s behemoth cannabis market.”

As the cannabis industry has moved mainstream across the nation and the world, it has been imperative that businesses have had an effective voice advocating for sound industry regulations; NCIA has been that voice. If you are in the cannabis industry or thinking of entering, then you should join the NCIA as a member and director Aaron Smith at the ICBC in beautiful, cannabis-friendly Vancouver, Canada.

Attorney Robert Laurie Talks Prohibition and Regulation Ahead of the ICBC


When you are in the cannabis industry, have been arrested for a cannabis offense, or contemplating a cannabis business, it is great to have a good lawyer on your side. Lawyers are often at the heart of the cannabis law reform movement and Robert W.E. Laurie of AD LUCEM LAW CORPORATION is no exception. Practicing out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Laurie has worked in big-name firms in London and the United States. The Canadian cannabis community is lucky to have him on their side. I got to talk for a few minutes with Mr. Laurie ahead of his upcoming presentation at the International Cannabis Business Conference, about cannabis prohibition, where the industry is headed and the advice he gives to those in the industry. Laurie had just finished speaking with Wally Oppal, Q.C., the former Attorney General of British Columbia as part of the Canadian Institute’s Canadian Cannabis Business Week in Vancouver.

Anthony Johnson: Robert, how did the discussion go with the former attorney general?

Robert Laurie: We had a really good discussion. We talked about the history of cannabis prohibition and its roots in the anti-immigration sentiment at the time and how the discrimination against immigrants morphed into the culture wars of the 1960s under Richard Nixon. Even after all of the progress that we’ve made, there are still too many harmful consequences of cannabis prohibition, even in a progressive city like Vancouver. Smelling like cannabis can still get you targeted by law enforcement.

AJ: It sounds like Canada’s cannabis prohibition followed the United States, starting with racism and then transforming into a culture war.

RL: The United States started the international “Drug War,” but Canada followed suit. Unfortunately, international law has been an excuse to perpetuate prohibition instead of progressing legalization. The U.S. is very influential today, even as we move towards legalization in Canada. For instance, some of the regulations in place in Colorado, have been implemented here in a different manner, but they won’t necessarily work. Vancouver has significant urban density, so arbitrary barriers around dispensaries don’t fit.

Now, we have to ask ourselves, “What does legalization and regulation actually look like?” Is it a regulatory policy or an elimination strategy? We shall see.

Even regulations, while a step forward, impose barriers that can continue the black market. Black market dealers just adapt when regulations are too restrictive. Unnecessary and complicated regulations hurt those that want to do the right thing. Such participants, with good intentions and practices, are unable to compete with the black market because of overregulation and the cost of legitimacy. Crazy taxes and huge regulations will only push people into the black market rather than into transparent market participation. In a way, the black market keeps government overreach in check.

AJ: It seems like most government officials have an inclination to overregulate cannabis, I’m guessing that you agree?

Admitting that prohibition is a mistake forces the government to admit their part in the negligence and harm to their citizens caused by prohibition. We still have people incarcerated for simple possession. Where is their justice while everyone floods to this new market?

Clearly prohibition has been a failure, but government officials feel like they can’t say that, so they use red herrings like “youth harm, fire risks, health issues, mould problems and black market profiteering” to continue to restrict cannabis. We need regulations that fit the situation. Cannabis is a plant that is relatively benign and safe, so really the question is, “If we are allowed to have Starbucks on every corner, can’t we have dispensaries treated, at the very least, the same as alcohol?”

He adds: “Cannabis can save the planet, whereas alcohol and tobacco will kill you, especially if used as directed. So why regulate cannabis like alcohol or tobacco? To do so is nonsensical and irresponsible.”

Even regulating like alcohol doesn’t fit because alcohol is much more lethal than cannabis, a plant.

Even though it looks like cannabis is being legalized, it is still an unsatisfactory situation for patients and recreational users alike. Crossing borders with cannabis, even for medical patients isn’t allowed, so we still have work to do. Unfortunately, police are too often involved with developing regulations. Why are we trusting people that have been on the wrong side of history for 90 years? It’s would be like having a redneck, bigot, small town sheriff in charge of the “gay legalization” process.

AJ: What are your hopes for the cannabis industry in Canada?

I hope there are sensible regulations by provinces, but municipalities are going to take or assume power to mold regulations for their constituents. While the rules are being written, civil disobedience is making real change. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ghandi showed that nonviolent civil disobedience can bring about significant change.

Most dispensaries and growers are engaging in civil disobedience by their daily actions and chosen professions. More and more dispensaries are opening up, especially across British Columbia, even though it is technically illegal, but there really aren’t the resources to try and shut them down when there are more serious issues. Vancouver really started the safe injection sites and the federal government tried to shut it down, but the city said, “Sorry, we have bigger fish to fry.” It’s the same with cannabis.

I hope that the federal government learns from its mistakes. The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) was designed to benefit the federal government, but under the Constitution of Canada, cannabis as an industry should be regulated under the jurisdiction of the provinces. On other grounds, however, the MMPR was declared incompatible with the Constitution of Canada after a challenge by several great attorneys, including Kirk I. Tousaw and John W. Conroy, Q.C. The government was given 6 months to set up a legitimate system.
In turn, the government set the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). The ACMPR is trying to be a hybrid system, trying to reconcile personal growing with exclusive growing and dispensing by Licensed Producers (LP’s). Big players, unfortunately are seeking to consolidate the market. The ACMPR is really just a bandaid trying to stop the bleeding of the money.
I want to see barriers to entry low and patients given true equality. Barriers to entry can be several million dollars with overregulation, which is ridiculous. There should be opportunities for the mom-and-pops.
Even patients have to pay too much for a prescription and most drugs are subsidized by the government, but cannabis isn’t treated the same.
The federal government seems to do whatever it can to make it as difficult as possible, even for growing for yourself, starting with the fact that you can only get your seeds and clones from licensed producers. The new prohibition is going to be overregulation and may be a long time before we see true equality.
AJ: Describe your work in the Canadian cannabis industry today.
RL: I represent about 35% of the dispensaries in Vancouver, most with their administrative issues with the city, as well as cannabis clients up and down the island, across B.C. and even throughout Canada. After graduating from the University of Oxford, I spent about 6 months dealing with tobacco industry regulations and another 6 months working in the alcohol industry, so I bring my knowledge of regulatory systems to my cannabis clients.
AJ: What is some of the advice that you give to those thinking about entering the cannabis industry, like those you’ll be speaking to at the International Cannabis Business Conference?
RL: Be prepared to enter a connoisseur market. People will vote with their feet and their pocket book and you must understand that most cannabis consumers tend to be the connoisseurs of the connoisseurs.
Better to ask for forgiveness in Canada, than to ask for permission, otherwise you are going to miss the opportunity. The best years are yet to be written. Be prepared and attend as many conferences and talks as you can.
AJ: Thanks, Robert, I look forward to seeing you at the ICBC in beautiful Vancouver.
RL: Thank you, see you soon.
You can see Robert Laurie and other lawyers and experts from Canada and around the world at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 13-14. Get your tickets now before prices go up. 

LivWell’s Neal Levine Talks Politics, Activism, Big Marijuana and the ICBC


Neal Levine, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for LivWell Enlightened Health , has been through the trenches of cannabis activism and business, like very few have. Levine actually helped to oversee the grant from the Marijuana Policy Project for the very first campaign I was a part of, a local reform effort in Columbia, Missouri back in 2003. Neal’s impact has been felt in the political sphere in campaigns across the nation and he brings his policy knowledge and foresight to LivWell, a fully integrated medical and adult-use cannabis company in Colorado. Neal will be sharing his extensive knowledge with attendees at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Vancouver, British Columbia, this October, and I was very happy to catch up with him for a bit.

Anthony Johnson: You’ve had quite the career in the cannabis activist and business sectors over the years. How would you sum up your experience?
Neal Levine: “Thank you, Anthony! That’s quite the compliment coming from you.

I’ve had the good fortune to have worked on cannabis policy reform in more than 20 states over the course of almost 14 years. In that time I have either led or been part of the teams that passed many of our current cannabis laws, both legislatively and at the ballot. I shut down my political consulting business and started working with LivWell last July, and everything that I have done professionally up to this point has led me to this job. While we may be one of the larger cannabis companies out there, we are still very much a start-up. So I get to wear many hats, working on our federal and local government affairs, our community integration efforts, public relations, new business development, and whatever else happens to fall out of the sky on any particular day. I’ve never had this much fun at work, and it is honestly hard to stop working sometimes to find the time to take a breath.

I have also been fortunate enough to have several key mentors along the way, making up for my lack of formal political and business training. To now be able to count LivWell CEO John Lord and legal counsel Dean Heizer among the folks who have helped to mentor me on the business side is humbling. John and Dean have built multiple successful businesses, and now I get to work on this venture with them. Plus, I get to work directly with John’s son Mike on multiple projects, who is one of the brightest and most dedicated people that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I feel truly blessed. That probably sounds cheesy, but I don’t care. It’s true.”

AJ: How many retail locations and employees does LivWell have?

NL: “We currently have 14 retail locations and just shy of 600 employees. Isn’t that amazing?”

AJ: It is. So how do you respond to complaints that LivWell is an example of Big Marijuana that is hurting the industry?

NL: “You mean after I stop laughing?

Let me start by saying that there is no such thing as “Big Marijuana”, at least not yet. And folks in the cannabis policy reform movement and the industry who regurgitate that prohibitionist clap-trap are doing exactly what the prohibitionists want us to do. Everyone who is actually in the industry should understand that we are all hanging on by our fingertips. To quote Benjamin Franklin, ‘We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately’. Folks, we are all in this together.

But to specifically address your question, there really aren’t “mom-and-pops” out there going out of business because of us or companies similar to ours. Almost all businesses struggling in the legal and compliant cannabis industry today are struggling because of the cost of complying with state and local regulations and our effective federal tax burden of 80% or more (plus the never-ending stream of IRS audits that come with it). It is just a devastating one-two combination. Especially for smaller operators. It is almost impossible for cannabis companies to survive unless they are able to scale.

So as far as us “hurting” the industry, that’s just absurd. We have spent a lot of time and resources trying to advance the industry, and those efforts will continue. Also, we feel that one of the best things that we can do for the industry as a whole is to try and lead by example. We understand that our employees are our number one asset, and therefore all of our employees have full company paid health insurance and a 401K retirement plan that LivWell makes an annual 3% contribution to that does not require an employee match and vests instantly. Our entry level positions pay several dollars above the minimum wage, and we invest heavily in employee training to minimize turnover.

Between engaging politically and doing our best to run a solid company that the industry can be proud of, we feel that we are working hard to advance the industry every day. Of course, no one is perfect and we’re always striving to get better at what we do, including being as engaged as possible in all of the communities that we operate in. And that includes the cannabis community as a whole.”

AJ: What’s your advice for those attending the International Cannabis Business Conference and those entering the cannabis industry?

NL: “If you’re looking at opening a business in the states, be sure to get a good CPA, pay your taxes, and understand that the cannabis business is not license to print money. If you’re looking to be a passive investor, make sure you pick your teammates very carefully. Success is going to take a while. Go into this with eyes wide open, and you don’t have a true love of the plant, there are much easier ways to make money.”

AJ: What advice would you give to political advocates?

NL: “I strongly believe that we need to collectively focus our energy and resources on ending the scourge of IRS 280E enforcement against our industry. Many of my friends and compatriots in the cannabis legalization movement view this as an “industry” problem, when in fact aggressive enforcement of 280E is a cornerstone in the foundation of modern cannabis prohibition. And it has been for almost twenty years. Former Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey first outlined the strategy in a memo to President Bill Clinton in 1996 after the passage of Prop 215 in California. This enormous tax burden we struggle with isn’t an accident, man. There are forces at work that are doing this to us on purpose, and they are doing it because they want to see this movement fail.

The cannabis legalization movement gave birth to our industry, and we are inextricably linked forever. Like all good children, it will eventually be our responsibility to take care of our “parent”. But to continue with the analogy, we’re barely toddlers. We need to all work together to get the industry to the point where we are in position to fully fund the movement, and then we can all collectively end cannabis prohibition once and for all. But that cannot happen until state-compliant cannabis companies are no longer subjected to 280E enforcement. We are simply not in a position to replace the billionaire philanthropists that have historically funded the cannabis legalization movement. Yet.”

 AJ: How are you feeling about the marijuana reform measures on the 2016 ballot?

NL: “Honestly, I’m extremely nervous.  A lot of initiatives were placed on the ballot without the funding in place to run full-fledged campaigns, and many of these campaigns are fishing in the same small pond for funding. Also, several of these initiatives skipped the essential step of researching the electorate for viability before launching their campaigns, which is campaign 101 stuff. Another factor that makes me nervous (for a whole host of reasons) is Donald Trump. Who knows what this electorate is going to look like? This is the hardest electorate to read in my 18 years of working in politics.

With those caveats, I think the healthiest campaigns at the moment are in Maine, California, and Florida. Nevada, Arizona, and Massachusetts are more complicated. I don’t have much of a read on the other medical ones out there.

I am a former resident of Nevada and I have done a lot of work there, including leading the signature drive to qualify the current initiative for the ballot. So that one is personal. Sheldon Adelson, a multi-billionaire casino owner and top Republican campaign financier, has apparently pledged to put over $3 million into the “No” side. He also purchased the largest newspaper in the state, The Las Vegas Review Journal. The LVRJ had actually endorsed the legalization campaign the day that we launched the signature drive, and then almost immediately reversed their endorsement of the initiative after he bought it! In a close race, Adelson has the resources and political talent available to him to swing the election.

I will say that there is some amazing talent working on our side of the Nevada campaign, with the largest props reserved for Scot Rutledge and Joe Brezny. Anthony, you and I both know from experience how thankless campaign work can be. Joe specifically has done an enormous amount of work to launch this campaign and keep it alive through many trials and tribulations. So I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Joe Brezny for everything that he has done for cannabis policy reform in Nevada. Joe and Scot, if you are reading this, you are appreciated.”

AJ: Thanks, Neal. Looking forward to seeing you at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver next month.

NL: Thank you. I can’t wait to see you and everyone at the ICBC.

You can see Neal Levine discuss cannabis industry and politics, along with many other prominent entrepreneurs and advocates at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 13-14.

Brendan Kennedy on the ICBC, Marley Natural, Big Marijuana and More

Brendan Kennedy

Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Privateer Holdings, has made a big splash in the cannabis community over the last six years or so, bringing in capital and his business acumen to the industry. Through Privateer’s companies, Leafly, Tilray and Marley Natural, Kennedy has helped provide medical cannabis, as well as valuable information, to patients and consumers, created positive publicity for the industry and has helped expunge the criminal records of those convicted of marijuana offenses in the past. Despite some very good things, the prospect of “Big Marijuana” has been touted by both prohibitionists and even by some in the cannabis community as a negative for the cannabis legalization cause.

Kennedy, just ahead of his keynote at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver, Canada, October 13-14, candidly took on any and all questions, not afraid to tackle the elephant in the room and provide advice for those who could potentially be his competitors in the market someday.

Anthony Johnson: Let’s just address the elephant in the room right away, how do you respond to claims that you’re “Big Marijuana”, taking over small businesses or taking advantage of Jamaica?

Brendan Kennedy: I got into this industry six years ago because I saw the opportunity to attack prohibition from a different angle. Activists groups and political campaigners use the angles of activism and politics to attack prohibition, and many are doing great work that I admire and support. To me, business is also form of activism, and I wanted to see how we could attack prohibition from that angle by creating companies that would help bring the cannabis industry into the mainstream, convert the skeptics and ultimately usher in an end to prohibition by winning trust and confidence of policymakers by demonstrating that a responsible industry would be a better alternative to the status quo.

Large and small businesses can and should coexist in the industry. There’s a lot we can accomplish when we collaborate and combine our different strengths. A rising tide lifts all boats. There will be room for both big and small businesses as this industry grows.

In the case of Marley Natural and Jamaica, the Marley family came to us three years ago interested in the idea of a partnership. We saw the opportunity to work together and celebrate a great cultural icon like Bob Marley, to take his message of freedom and spread it around the world, to take his social justice message and apply that to the cause of ending prohibition around the globe. We created the Marley Natural brand through a lot of collaboration with the Marley family, so we want to do everything in a way that respects his family and the rich tradition of cannabis in Jamaica. We are giving back to Jamaica through Marley Natural’s philanthropic program Rise Up.

In general, Privateer does a lot of things that the industry and community love, including supporting clinical trials around the world via Tilray supplying cannabis and cannabis products to researchers internationally. The movement at large cheered when Leafly placed an ad in the New York Times. Many of those in the business understand that we also help other entrepreneurs raise capital. But we have been a target of some and that comes with the territory. It’s our job to address that skepticism, though, and I think we accomplish that through both our attitude toward the industry and our contributions.

AJ: Can you explain how the Rise Up Expungement Day and other socially-conscious efforts have come about?

BK: Social responsibility is really at the core of Marley Natural and so far our efforts have been focused on two general themes:

First, helping small farms and agriculture in Jamaica. We are funding various projects there and using our assets to educate and train small farmers in good agricultural practices. And second, helping people who have been harmed the most by prohibition, particularly minorities who have been disproportionately harmed by the drug war a, with events like Rise Up Expungement Day, where we help people clear their criminal record free of charge. We are working on other projects to help those harmed by the drug war as well and look forward to hosting many more Rise Up Expungement Days.

AJ: It would have been nice if a recent Vice article on Marley Natural would have mentioned some of the social justice aspects of the company.

BK: Yes, it certainly would have. I grew up as a progressive in San Francisco, and got involved with the cannabis industry to work toward more freedom and social justice. With Rise Up Expungement Day and other projects, I hope that our socially responsible work gets mentioned, one, so that people get word of these services and two, so that others in the industry can join us in making social responsibility an ongoing commitment that runs through everything we do.

AJ: When did you become a supporter of legalization?

BK: Growing up in the Bay Area and going to school in Berkeley, I’ve been a libertarian on social issues for as long as I can remember and have long supported legalization. I’ll be honest that I was really skeptical of medical cannabis at first, but I was still a supporter of legalization for social justice reasons. After travelling the world researching the industry, talking to patients and getting educated, I became a staunch believer in the medical benefits of cannabis about six years ago. If you listen to the stories of medical cannabis patients, you can’t deny that people are experiencing real relief that’s dramatically changed their quality of life. I try to highlight those personal testimonies from patients because if I had heard them sooner, I would have realized how wrong my earlier belief was.

AJ: A lot of people are looking forward to seeing you speak at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference and would certainly like to learn more on how entrepreneurs can prepare their businesses to be attractive to investors, any advice?

BK: I’ve done a lot of pitches in a lot of industries, and my initial advice is to tell a story. Show a vision, not just a product. Show a vision of the company, brand, or product and how it will change the industry. Also, pitch, pitch, pitch. Practice your pitch over and over again, so your pitch tells your story very well. Learn from hearing “no” from potential investors. Usually, you only want to hear the answer “yes,” but getting a “no” here and there can be very valuable, as you can learn from that experience. My favorite investors are the ones that told me “no” at one time, but I managed to turn them into a “yes.” Finally, just go and do it. Don’t tell investors what you are planning to do, show what you are doing. You can convince some people to invest because of their fear of missing out.

AJ: To Canadians, Tilray may be common knowledge, but to those in the States and elsewhere around the world, they may be less familiar, what would you like to convey about the company?

Tilray has invested heavily in Canada and we feel that we have built a brand that represents Canada well. We’re building a global brand. We are proud to have become the first company to legally export medical cannabis products from North America and import them into the EU, a huge milestone for the global cannabis movement. We have been very pleased to help promote scientific research around the world and are proud to be contributing to both the medical and commercial industries around the world.

AJ: What will attendees gain from your speech at the ICBC?

BK: I’m going to focus a lot on the global cause to end cannabis prohibition. There’s often a misconception that the end of the end of cannabis prohibition is a western United States phenomenon, but it is important that everyone understands that we are in the midst of a global paradigm shift. I’m excited that this event is in Vancouver as there are exciting developments in Canada, but there are also changes coming about in Jamaica, Colombia, Germany, Spain, Israel, and elsewhere. We are seeing countries around the world making progress and that is great for the legalization cause and entrepreneurs. I’m really looking forward to it.

AJ: Thanks Brendan, will see you soon.

BK: Thank you, looking forward to it.

See Brendan Kennedy and many other movers and shakers in the cannabis industry and movement at the International Cannabis Business Conference on October 13-14, in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Weed Tornado Strikes Southern Oregon!

wizard of oz

Ever since Oregon legalized cannabis, thanks to the wisdom of over 56% of the voters in 2014, the sky hasn’t fallen, but, admittedly a lot of strange things have happened. (But Oregon isn’t like Florida crazy, or anything!) And while “Keep Portland Weird” is a slogan, Southern Oregon has its fair share of eccentricities, such as Ashland’s lithia water fountains and Sugar Bob, the cannabis-munching deer in the Applegate Valley. And now, you can add a sighting of a weed tornado to the list. (But a weed tornado is much better than a sharknado, right?)

Siskiyou Sungrown cultivates two side-by-side cannabis plots in Southern Oregon, one for medical use under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, while the other is for the adult-use legalization system overseen by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (which will hopefully be renamed the Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission soon). Under both the medical and adult-use systems, farmers must report to the state, among other things, how many plants they are cultivating and it is a cannabis plant getting uprooted out of the blue must be accounted for.

“When an employee came to report that a tornado touched down on our medical plot and threw a 6′ x 6′ medical marijuana plant out of the ground, up into the air, over an 8′ fence, and 50′ south into our recreational grow, I surely didn’t believe him,” stated Michael Johnson, the Chief Operating Officer of Siskiyou Sungrown. “Until I checked the security camera footage and saw the weed tornado.”

You can see the security footage for yourself:

One of the best things about working in the cannabis movement is that I learn something new virtually every single day. Just when you think that you have seen it all, you witness your first weed tornado. I often advise advocates in other states about Oregon’s cannabis regime, what we’ve learned, and how they can hopefully learn from us. Next month, I’ll be discussing Oregon’s regulations in another country for the first time in Vancouver, Canada, at the International Cannabis Business Conference, and somehow I’ll have to work in how Southern Oregon growers had to account for a weed tornado in their monthly reporting to the state.


Check out Siskiyou Sungrown on their website and on Facebook

Canadian Cannabis Laws Are Changing Rapidly, ICBC Will Have the Latest

Canada Marijuana Flag

The cannabis community has been making great strides across the globe, and Canada is no different. In fact, the entire marijuana movement cheered and got another shot in the arm when the Liberal Party, with cannabis legalization as part of its platform, took over the Canadian government in a landslide. With Justin Trudeau leading the way, who unlike the next President of the United States, has used cannabis, the future is certainly bright for the Canadian cannabis community. However, with change comes obstacles and new regulations and Canadian cannabis laws are changing rapidly and the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) on October 13-14 in Vancouver, British Columbia, will have the latest.

From The New York Times:

Mr. Trudeau has promised to make recreational marijuana legal in Canada as soon as next year, bypassing the nation’s strict medical marijuana regulations. Under the latest rules for medical use, announced last week, patients must be registered, have a prescription and obtain their supplies only by mail from a government-licensed producer or by growing a limited amount privately.

Impatient to test the shifting political boundaries, entrepreneurs have opened hundreds of illicit dispensaries across Canada, selling products like organic marijuana buds and potent cannabis concentrates, while local governments and the police have tended to look the other way.

The marijuana boom they hope for has yet to materialize, though the Canadian government is now doing preliminary work on a measure to govern recreational use.

And as reported on August 11th, Health Canada announced new changes to the law, some good, such as allowing home cultivation, but some existing dispensaries are left in a “gray area.” Also, more changes are on the horizon:

Health Canada did say they are “committed to studying other models” of marijuana distribution so patients can have access, but they stopped short of endorsing any dispensary scenario for now. In that respect, Health Canada is regurgitating what the feds have already stated — let local law enforcement enforce the “laws.”

An interesting and rather cryptic message, Health Canada revealed that they are exploring other models such as pharmacy distribution. It’s no secret that Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, Shoppers Drug Mart, has been publicly and privately lobbying the government to be the retail option of choice.

The final part of today’s announcement was to let Canadians know that this is a temporary solution and shouldn’t be interpreted as the long-term plan for both medical and recreational marijuana in Canada. That announcement will still come next spring according to schedule.

The upcoming ICBC will help unpack the current status of Canadian regulations while also providing a preview of where the law is headed. Additionally, as always at the ICBC, there will be a strong focus on activism, so attendees will get some insight into how to protect the rights of patients as well as implement sound, fair business regulations for the burgeoning industry. Hope to see you there!