January 2018

Eaze is moving into recreational marijuana delivery with $27 million in new funding

The cannabis industry has lit up in the last year, including weed delivery startup Eaze, which just raised $27 million in Series B financing and claims a 300 percent year-over-year increase in gross sales.

But the weed delivery startup has come under scrutiny recently for burning through at least $1 million in cash per month. In contrast, other software-based pot delivery startups like Meadow have played it lean, focusing more on improving the software and logistics.

Eaze has gone hard on marketing spend, using aggressive growth tactics and burning through the $24.5 million it had previously raised in VC cash.

New CEO of the company Jim Patterson, who took over the role in December 2017 explains his approach as just part of the Silicon Valley cycle to get ahead, “We are a tech startup…we’re investing in growth,” he told TechCrunch when asked about the high burn rate. “We’re investing the money now in what’s clearly going to be a very big market.”

Part of the pop in the pot delivery industry is due to tech finally meeting the needs of the medical marijuana community in the state of California, where Eaze operates. Eaze uses its proprietary software to help consumers with a medical marijuana license in the state buy pot from local dispensaries and then delivers those purchases to their door.

However, California is set to begin issuing licenses for the cultivation and selling of the plant for recreational use at the beginning of 2018, which will open up a whole new revenue stream for Eaze and others in the space.

Colorado, a state where recreational use of the drug has been legal for a couple of years now, is reportedly pulling in nearly $100 million in pot sales per month and the marijuana industry is slated to balloon to a $24 billion dollar business by 2025.

Eaze is making the bet on high growth now to cash in on a good piece of those profits later, telling TechCrunch this was the reason for the Series B raise.

We should note that its conceivable other larger tech companies in the delivery logistics space like Amazon could just as easily decide to get into the space, crushing little startups like Meadow and Eaze in the process.

Patterson admits that’s not a far-fetched scenario but doesn’t think it will happen. “If you’re doing anything in retail and not thinking about Amazon at this point you’re crazy,” he said. “But the reality is [weed delivery] is still complicated at the federal level.”

Medical marijuana is now legal in 29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Laws recently passed for Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota have yet to become effective. Recreational use is legal in eight states, though, as mentioned above, certain licensing provisions don’t take effect in California until the new year.

It may not be so complicated as more states adopt marijuana legalization for both medical and recreational use in the years ahead and Patterson doesn’t count out future competition from the Everything Store.

“But I do think we have a couple of years and hopefully Eaze will be a lot bigger by then and by then maybe it will be less scary than it would be now with only 80 employees,” he told TechCrunch.

Bailey Capital led the round, with participation from DCM Ventures, Kaya Ventures and FJ Labs.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com

adminEaze is moving into recreational marijuana delivery with $27 million in new funding
read more

133% leap in children admitted to ER for marijuana, study finds

(CNN)As attitudes about marijuana shift around the world, researchers are warning parents that it’s risky to keep it around children, especially those who are too young to know what it is.

The number of children who were admitted to emergency rooms forunintentional marijuana intoxication increased by 133% in France over an 11-year period, according to a new study.
Marijuana intoxication can occur when a child accidentally ingests a marijuana product or inhales marijuana smoke. Symptoms can vary based on the child’s age and size but often include sleepiness, difficulty breathing, seizures or even coma. Effects usually last six to 24 hours.
    Cannabis is illegal in France, but it has the highest rate of marijuana use in Europe, said Dr. Isabelle Claudet, lead author of the study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
    “And that means we are facing an increase in emergency admissions of marijuana intoxication and an increase in severe symptoms seen in children,” said Claudet, a pediatric emergency physician in Toulouse.
    She and other researchers analyzed the number of Frenchchildren under 6 admitted to pediatric emergency departments because of unintentional cannabis intoxication and the number of cannabis-related calls involving children to French poison control centers.
    From 2004 to 2014, 235 children were admitted to ERs with cannabis intoxication, and there was a 133% increase in the admissions rate for it. The number of calls to poison control centers related to cannabis exposure in children increased by 312% in the same period.
    What concerns Claudet the most is that the concentration of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has been increasing in cannabis products in France.
    “THC concentration in cannabis products has increased from 9% in 2004 to 20% in 2014,” she said. “I believe that’s why we’re facing more adverse effects in children.”
    Over the 11-year span, the severity of symptoms in children admitted to emergency departments because of marijuana intoxication also increased.
    Twenty times more severe cases were reported in 2014 compared with 2004, and and four times more severe cases were reported in 2014 compared with 2013. Of the 32 children reported to have gone into comas, 53% were admitted in 2014, and there were more cannabis-related admissions than any other type of pediatric emergency room admission.
    The main cannabis product circulating on the French market is hashish or cannabis resin, a solid and very concentrated form of cannabis extract, usually sold in the form of sticks or balls. Users break off pieces, roll them in tobacco papers and smoke them.
    Claudet believes the best way to decrease the number of pediatric marijuana intoxication cases in France is to decrease the concentration of THC in cannabis through regulation.
    “And we have to also warn consumers and parents that it could be very dangerous for children to eat such products,” she said. “Because usually, parents think it’s not very harmful because they’re smoking it, and it relaxes them. But if a child ingests one stick or ball, they can become comatose.”

    What about children in the US?

    Recreational marijuana is legal in eight US states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and D.C. Cannabis product trends in the United States are quite different from those in France, though high concentration of THC is still a concern, especially in edible products.
    “The results of this Pediatrics study also makes sense with what we’ve been seeing in Colorado. With the marijuana industry increasing, there’s a lot of new products, a lot of concentrated products, that people vape or ingest, like the edible products, that are high in THC,” said Dr. G. Sam Wang, a pediatric toxicologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.
    “And so we’ve been seeing a lot of kids who are more symptomatic and more intoxicated,” said Wang, who was not involved in the French research.
    Wang has conducted several studies of US trends in pediatric marijuana intoxication, as well as trends in Colorado.
    He found that in states where recreational or medical marijuana is legal, the number of pediatric marijuana intoxication cases reported to poison control centers increased by 30% each year from 2005 to 2011. Children in states where marijuana was legal had more severe symptoms and were more likely to be admitted to a critical care unit compared with those in states where marijuana was not legal.
    In his Colorado study, Wang found that in the two years leading up to when recreational marijuana became legally available for purchase in 2014 and the two years after, rates of marijuana exposure cases in children increased. On average each year, there was a 34% increase in calls to poison control centers about marijuana exposures in Colorado and a 19% increase across the US. Forty-eight percent of the cases in Colorado were attributed to the ingestion of an edible marijuana product.
    Wang said the higher number of cases in states where marijuana is legal can in part be attributed to the increased availability of marijuana products and the attractiveness of edible product labels, which often look like normal candy or cakes to a child.
    “Usually, kids get into things that become more available, and usually, that happens when it’s a household product, like those laundry detergent pods, which were attractive,” Wang said. “It’s kind of the same situation with marijuana, where we think in states with legal marijuana, probably more households have it in their home, especially the food or edible marijuana products with bright labels, that makes it easier for kids to get into them.”
    The US National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, says that it is concerned about the inadvertent ingestion of cannabis products by children in both the US and France but that more regulation could help provide a solution: “It is our contention that the frequency of these incidences can be mitigated by the imposition of stricter regulatory controls, such as more stringent and overt product labeling and by limiting such products to single serving sizes.”

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    Wang believes the key to ensuring the safety of children living around marijuana products is a combination of outreach and education. He tells parents to treat the marijuana like any other prescription or over-the-counter drug and keep it out of reach of children.
    “Parents need to understand that kids can actually get sick from this stuff,” he said.
    Several states with legal recreational marijuana, including Colorado, Oregon and Washington state, have also made child-resistant packaging a requirement for certain products.
    Wang thinks this is also a step in the right direction, especially as other states or countries may be looking to legalize marijuana.
    “They need to think about the unintended consequences of legalization, such as marijuana intoxication in children. So whether that’s education, packaging regulations, dose regulations,” he said. “Colorado had some of that in the beginning of legalization, but we also made mistakes. But I’m hoping that other places can learn from those mistakes and implement programs or rules at the outset.”

    Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

    admin133% leap in children admitted to ER for marijuana, study finds
    read more

    California rings in new year with broad legalization of marijuana

    Adults can grow up to six plants and possess an ounce of cannabis as about 90 businesses receive licenses to sell pot in most populous state

    The arrival of the new year in California brought with it broad legalization of marijuana, a much-anticipated change that comes two decades after the state was the first to allow pot for medical use.

    The USs most populous state joins a growing list of other states, and the nations capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.

    Pot is now legal in California for adults 21 and older, and individuals can grow up to six plants and possess as much as an ounce of the drug.

    But finding a retail outlet to buy non-medical pot in California wont be easy, at least initially. Only about 90 businesses received state licenses to open on New Years Day. They are concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.

    Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the many cities where recreational pot will not be available right away because local regulations were not approved in time to start issuing city licenses needed to get state permits. Meanwhile, Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside are among the communities that have adopted laws forbidding recreational marijuana sales.

    Just after midnight, some Californians were raising blunts instead of champagne glasses.

    Johnny Hernandez, a tattoo artist from Modesto, celebrated New Years Eve by smoking Happy New Year blunts with his cousins.

    This is something weve all been waiting for, he said. It is something that can help so many people and theres no reason why we should not be sharing that.

    Hernandez said he hoped the legalization of recreational marijuana would help alleviate the remaining stigma some still believe surrounds marijuana use.

    People might actually realize weed isnt bad. It helps a lot of people, he said.

    For those who worked for this day, the shift also offered joyful relief.

    Were thrilled, said Khalil Moutawakkil, founder of KindPeoples, which grows and sells weed in Santa Cruz. We can talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of the specific regulations, but at the end of the day its a giant step forward, and well have to work out the kinks as we go.

    The state banned loco-weed in 1913, according to a history by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the pot advocacy group known as NORML. The first attempt to undo that by voter initiative in 1972 failed, but three years later felony possession of less than an ounce was downgraded to a misdemeanor.

    In 1996, over the objections of law enforcement, President Clintons drug tsar and three former presidents, California voters approved marijuana for medicinal purposes. Twenty years later, voters approved legal recreational use and gave the state a year to write regulations for a legal market that would open in 2018.

    Today, 29 states have adopted medical marijuana laws. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, five more states have passed recreational marijuana laws, including Massachusetts, where retail sales are scheduled to begin in July.

    Even with other states as models, the next year is expected to be a bumpy one in California as more shops open and more stringent regulations take effect on the strains known as Sweet Skunk, Trainwreck and Russian Assassin.

    The California Police Chiefs Association, which opposed the 2016 ballot measure, remains concerned about stoned drivers, the risk to young people and the cost of policing the new rules in addition to an existing black market.

    Theres going to be a public health cost and a public safety cost enforcing these new laws and regulations, said Jonathan Feldman, a legislative advocate for the chiefs. It remains to be seen if this can balance itself out.

    At first, pot shops will be able to sell marijuana harvested without full regulatory controls. But eventually, the state will require extensive testing for potency, pesticides and other contaminants. A program to track all pot from seed to sale will be phased in, along with other protections such as childproof containers.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

    adminCalifornia rings in new year with broad legalization of marijuana
    read more

    Women Of Color Are Leading The Charge For Racial Justice In Legal Weed

    Nina Parks bought a VIP ticket for her first cannabis business conference in early 2015.

    “It was so expensive, I thought, I don’t even know how I’m going to pay for this,” she said, but she was new to the industry and hoped the meet-and-greet would offer networking opportunities with like-minded owners and operators in the growing medicinal market.

    “I walked into that room, and I saw Amber, and she was the only one who had weed and the only woman of color,” Parks said.

    Amber Senter, an entrepreneur and consultant in the business, was also the only woman of color on any of the conference’s panels, which delivered industry insight to an audience that seemed to have little personal or political investment in the plant and a lot more money to spend than those who did.

    “I was like, what is going on? Is this what the industry looks like? It’s just white men in suits!” Park recalls asking Senter. “Many, many, many white men in suits.”

    This was not a reflection of the industry as they knew it. Parks and Senter were based in California, which became the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana in 1996. In 2013, the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, in a document known as the Cole memo, limited federal intervention in state-level legalization. The “Green Rush” hurtled toward the Golden State, and it was mostly white and male.

    Roxane Pasibe/East Bay Express
    Andrea Unsworth, left, Amber Senter, Tsion Lencho and Nina Parks formed the nonprofit Supernova Women in 2015.

    Senter was consulting for cannabis businesses when she met Tsion Lencho, an attorney, at an industry event. They both worked to help prospective businesses navigate tax and regulatory structures, and they were troubled by the lack of inclusion and how gentrified the industry could become with full legalization.

    At the time, Parks, Lencho and entrepreneur Andrea Unsworth had tried to bring more of an activist focus to existing women’s cannabis industry groups. “We just saw that wasn’t going to happen, and we weren’t going to try to change that,” Unsworth said.

    The four women founded Supernova Women to fill the gap: a nonprofit organization by and for women of color in the emerging cannabis industry. The four women, each experts in their fields, work to lower barriers to entry for people of color in the emerging cannabis industry and advocate on their behalf in California’s rapidly expanding market.

    Supernova Women
    Supernova Women helps people prepare applications for permits and licenses in a changing regulatory environment.

    Unsworth, who has an MBA and was a cannabis entrepreneur when the group began, said she wanted to advocate for those who were very present in the gray-market industry ― women and people of color ― but who were largely missing from conversations about the policies that would shape it.   

    “We saw that there was more to be done than just networking,” Unsworth said. “We wanted the same women attending those events to come to city council meetings and have their stories told, not just in these women’s meetings.” 

    Around the same time Supernova Women formed in 2015, California cannabis policy went into overdrive, and legalization seemed inevitable.

    Lencho studied cannabis prohibition and policy in law school at Stanford. When she entered the field as an attorney providing guidance for cannabis businesses, she was surprised how little consideration was given to addressing the harms that had been caused by criminalization.

    “When you came to the business side of things, there was a complete dearth of conversation about inclusion, even though social and racial justice were at the forefront of the talking points around why you should legalize and why you should allow local jurisdictions to give permits,” Lencho said. “But no one was talking about providing permits for those who actually went to jail for cannabis.”

    In November 2016, California passed Proposition 64, which legalized recreational, or “adult use,” marijuana and included sweeping measures to address harm caused by its prohibition. Localities would establish their own rules for approving licenses to sell recreational cannabis beginning on Jan. 1, 2018.

    Lawmakers and advocates began to discuss what it might look like if legalization policies embraced restorative justice. How can communities of color, whose access to the networks and means required to start a business for cannabis had long been oppressed by the rules governing it, now benefit from what is projected to be the largest and most profitable market in the U.S.?

    Christina House/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
    Customers line up in West Hollywood as the legal sale of recreational marijuana begins in California.

    The existing industry was already “inclusive of a lot black and brown faces,” Unsworth said. “We knew that people were just going to run in here and buy up all the property and just take it over. If nothing else, we wanted to slow it down and make sure that these other considerations were on the table.”  

    Supernova Women, based in Oakland, attended city council meetings across the Bay Area to advise localities on how they might preserve and promote the diversity in the industry, address disparities and even implement legalization policies that consider the disproportionate effect of criminalization on people of color. 

    No one was talking about providing permits for those who actually went to jail for cannabis.” Tsion Lencho, attorney, Supernova Women co-founder

    In early 2017, Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks put forward a radical “equity permit” plan to address the harmful effects of prohibition on communities of color: When handing out permits, prioritize those who had been hit the hardest by marijuana criminalization.

    “When you look across this country, the people who are making money in respect to cannabis and recreational marijuana are white men,” Brooks told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “The people who have historically gone to jail for the same activity are predominantly African-American and Latino.”

    Prior to Jan. 1 and the implementation of Proposition 64, California state licensing policies prohibited anyone with a felony conviction for cannabis from starting a cannabis business, so any person previously in possession of a plant the state now considered legal was excluded from the legal market.

    Nationally, black people are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, even though the two groups consume cannabis at similar rates. In Oakland, 90 percent of cannabis arrests from 1995 to 2015 were people of color.

    Oakland’s newly created department of race and equity, led by Darlene Flynn, produced an equity analysis to see how outcomes for people of color might be improved by the kind of equitable cannabis policy Brooks had proposed.

    “We did outreach through the network of cannabis folks in the city of Oakland and sat with folks and asked them questions about what the barriers were and what it would take for them to overcome those barriers and to engage in the legalized cannabis market,” Flynn told HuffPost.

    Supernova Women provided expertise and stakeholder perspectives for Flynn’s equity analysis. The city finalized and adopted its equity permit program in May of 2016.  

    The program reserves half of medical and recreational marijuana business licenses for applicants who meet certain criteria: They must live in Oakland, make less than 80 percent of the area median income, and had either been convicted of a cannabis crime or live in an area of the city with disproportionately high marijuana arrests. 

    It also creates incentives for applicants who don’t meet those criteria to “incubate” equity applicants and provide capital and real estate for their businesses. Those who qualify receive no-interest loans from the city.  

    Supernova Women urged lawmakers in San Francisco to consider a similar program. Without equity language in place on Jan. 1, when cities could officially license adult-use cannabis businesses, the city might lose a chance to ensure that those who had been hurt by the racist criminalization of the plant were first in line to create wealth from it.

    Parks, who owns a delivery service in the city, introduced herself to Nicole Elliott, the first director of the city’s office of cannabis. She also created a working group with other operators in the area.

    “We sat down with every single one of the board members and their staff, and every day for almost three months,” to create the guidelines Parks said.

    City Supervisor Malia Cohen fiercely advocated for an equity program in San Francisco. When serving as acting mayor last September, Cohen halted approvals for new cannabis permits until steps were taken to ensure a more equitable process. She fought for and won continuances to set the city’s cannabis policy, urging her colleagues to consider the consequences of letting a privileged minority sail ahead.

    The city ultimately adopted Cohen’s proposed equity program, which goes a step further than Oakland’s by requiring existing businesses to reapply for licenses. Los Angeles has since adopted its own set of equity guidelines.

    “The programs are slightly different, but they all have the same basic themes,” Lencho said. “You can’t exclude people who have been formerly incarcerated, you can’t fail to provide certain technical assistance, financial assistance or real estate assistance to those people. And you have to figure out a system to prioritize those businesses getting into the market.”

    Reese Benton, a cannabis entrepreneur who owns a delivery service in San Francisco, said she’d thought about shutting down when she got a call from Malia Cohen’s office to advise on an equity program.

    “That’s when all the tables turned,” she said. “They told me, Oh, you cannot give up. You have to do this. You don’t know what you have. Let us help you. I thought, this is a dream, this is the answer I’ve been waiting for.” 

    Benton, whose father was incarcerated on drug-related charges, is reapplying for her permit through the equity program and meeting with investors who want to help expand her business.

    A post shared by Reese (@thestylistreeseb) on

    Tsion Lencho, Malia Cohen, and Reese Benton

    Women, and women of color specifically have led the charge in advocating for cannabis policy that allows for restorative justice and healing from the war on drugs.

    Outside of California, Ayanna Pressley, the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council, worked with the Minority Cannabis Business Association to develop a model equity bill. In 2017, Shaleen Title, a marijuana attorney and legalization activist, was appointed to lead the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

    Alison Heckard
    Shaleen Title, a 34-year-old Indian-American, was appointed to lead the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commision. 

    Despite their leadership in advocacy and policy, women of color are still largely absent from mainstream images of the cannabis industry, where say they experience casual sexism and blatant racism.

    “As a black woman attorney who was educated at Stanford twice, I am repeatedly having to prove to people that I know what I’m talking about. I recognize that I may be viewed as a unicorn, but it’s astounding that people aren’t used to women attorneys,” Lencho said.

    “What you see in the general business sector with regard to sexism is exacerbated by cannabis because it’s an ever-changing environment,” she added.

    Unsworth said the greatest challenge women of color face when entering the cannabis industry is lack of access to networks and capital. For some, these issues are closely related to the war on drugs.

    “It’s about who you know, just like any other industry. Whether it’s telecom or cannabis. If you want to be a big player, you have to know folks and you have to commit capital. And when every male in your family has been in jail at one point in their life, it’s very hard to build up capital,” she said.

    Remembering those women of color who have been left behind when their men have fallen is another aspect of the war on drugs that gets forgotten about. Andrea Unsworth, Supernova Women

    Nina Parks opened Mirage Medicinal after her brother, an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur, was arrested on a cannabis charge in 2014 and sentenced to a year at Riker’s Island in New York.

    “He had a vision for a delivery service and lifestyle brand called Mirage Medicinal. He had all the paperwork done,” she said. But under licensing laws at the time, his conviction would disqualify him from entering the legal market.

    “I didn’t want him to sit in jail thinking everything was lost,” Parks said.

    Parks procured the license for Mirage Medicinal in her name. Because of her brother’s previous conviction, they’ll be applying for a new license through San Francisco’s equity permit program this year.

    Other sisters, daughters and wives of men targeted by the war on drugs are among those prioritized to receive permits to sell legal cannabis this year.

    “Remembering those women of color who have been left behind when their men have fallen is another aspect of the war on drugs that gets left behind or forgotten about,” Unsworth said.

    Shanita Penny is the president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and the CEO and founder of Budding Solutions, a cannabis financial consulting firm. She described women’s outsized participation in industry activism as a “necessity.”

    “The movers and shakers in the industry and activist space are phenomenal women who broke down barriers in corporate America, politics and in every other aspect of life, out of necessity,” she said. “These women are mothers, partners, wives, sisters and daughters of the men killed and imprisoned and left with few options in life as the War on Drugs rages on. We don’t have the option of not actively pursuing restorative justice in addition to creating an equitable industry. ”  

    Ultimately, these minority business owners hope the industry will respect their claim to the plant they helped bring out of the darkness.

    “You are going to respect this plant. You’re not just going to come in here and grab on us. You’re going to respect what we have to bring to the table, and we’ve been doing this a really long time, and you’re not just going to come in here and grab it,” Unsworth said. “As women, we’re finally getting the chance to scream that as a group.”

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

    adminWomen Of Color Are Leading The Charge For Racial Justice In Legal Weed
    read more

    California’s marijuana-tracking system delayed

    California’s legal pot economy was supposed to operate under the umbrella of a vast computerized system to track marijuana from seed to storefronts, ensuring that plants are followed throughout the supply chain and don’t drift into the black market.

    But recreational cannabis sales began this week without the computer system in use for pot businesses.  Instead, they are being asked to document sales and transfers of pot manually, using paper invoices or shipping manifests. That raises the potential that an unknown amount of weed will continue slipping into the illicit market, as it has for years.

    For the moment, “you are looking at pieces of paper and self-reporting. A lot of these regulations are not being enforced right now,” said Jerred Kiloh, a Los Angeles dispensary owner who heads the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry group.

    The state Department of Food and Agriculture, which is overseeing the tracking system, said in a statement it was “implemented” Tuesday. However, it conceded that growers and sellers are not required to use it yet and training on how to input data will be necessary before it becomes mandatory, apparently later in the year.

    The slow rollout of the tracking system is just one sign of the daunting task facing the nation’s most populous state as it attempts to transform its long-standing medicinal and illegal marijuana markets into a multibillion-dollar regulated system. Not since the end of Prohibition in 1933 has such an expansive illegal economy been reshaped into a legal one.

    So far, it’s been an unsteady start.

    Business licenses issued to growers, distributors and sellers are temporary and will need to be redone or extended later this year. Much of the state is blacked out from recreational sales because of the scarcity of licenses and because some local governments banned commercial pot activity.

    “There are a lot of things inside the law that are transitional. I don’t think it’s as rigid as people want it to sound,” Kiloh said.

    Another risk is that some consumers might stay in the black market to avoid sticker shock from hefty taxes. And there are concerns that a new distribution system will fail to get cannabis to shelves once current stockpiles run out, possibly in weeks.

    Cathy Bliss at Mankind Cooperative in San Diego said the store did not have as much pot in stock as it would have liked.

    Charles Boldwyn, chief compliance officer of ShowGrow in Santa Ana, which opened to customers Monday, said the relatively small number of licenses issued so far could create a bottleneck, cutting off pot from stores selling it.

    “The biggest hurdle we see, right out of the gate, is that starting today our access to product is limited,” Boldwyn said.

    The tracking system is part of the state’s maze of rules and regulations intended to govern the emerging $7 billion pot economy, the nation’s largest. They range from where cannabis can be grown and smoked to environmental safeguards for streams near marijuana fields.

    According to state law, the tracking system will provide “data points for the different stages of commercial activity, including, but not limited to, cultivation, harvest, processing, distribution, inventory and sale.”

    It’s also intended to help the state keep track of taxes.

    According to the state, businesses holding annual licenses will be required use the tracking system, but those issued so far to growers and retailers have been temporary and they “are not required” to use the system.

    The expanded legal sales could offer a rich payoff for the state treasury. California expects to pull in $1 billion annually in taxes within several years.

    The move into an era of legalization was marked across the state Monday with ceremonial ribbon cuttings and door prizes at dispensaries.

    The path to legalization began in 2016 when voters approved Proposition 64, which opened the way for legal pot sales to adults. Medical marijuana has been legal in California for about two decades.

    With the 2016 vote, it became legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana, but it was not legal to sell it for recreational purposes until Monday.

    The state did not issue rules for the new marketplace until late last year, and cities and counties have struggled to fashion their own. Los Angeles and San Francisco are among those where recreational pot sales have been delayed.

    California joined a growing list of states, and the nation’s capital, where recreational marijuana is permitted, even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.

    Meanwhile, Los Angeles officials said they would begin accepting applications Wednesday from medical marijuana shops to expand their sales to recreational pot. Temporary city licenses could go out as soon as Monday, which would then clear the way for the state to issue licenses for recreational sales.

    Unlicensed medical marijuana shops in LA that continue to supply customers in the interim would technically be violating state law, but Los Angeles police won’t crack down on those operating in good faith, Assistant Chief Michel Moore said. He said police would focus on pot operations run by felons or that attract gang activity or violence.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

    adminCalifornia’s marijuana-tracking system delayed
    read more

    Netflix’s ‘Disjointed’ starring Kathy Bates is Rotten Tomatoes’ lowest-reviewed series of summer

    Netflix’s stoner comedy “Disjointed” was not lighting anyone’s fire this summer, according to critics. The newly released Netflix show became the lowest-reviewed series this summer on Rotten Tomatoes.

    The show stars Academy Award-winner Kathy Bates and follows her character who runs a medical marijuana dispenser. Netflix ordered 20 episodes and released 10 of them on Aug. 25.

    HAILEY BALDWIN NOT AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT HER FAITH

    Rotten Tomatoes created a list of the summer’s newest releases based on reviews. “Disjointed” received a low 13 percent approval rating. Other low contenders on the list include “Friends from College” and “Gypsy.”

    One of the summer’s big hits was Aziz Ansari’s Emmy Award-winning series “Master of None.” Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” was also well-recieved.

    ETHAN HAWKE PRAYED ON BEING A PRIEST, HOPED GOD DIDN’T WANT IT FOR HIM

    “Disjointed,” which was created by the “Big Bang Theory’s” Chuck Lorre, received abysmal reviews upon release with The New York Times calling it “a mess of a comedy that doesn’t feel as if it belongs anywhere.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

    adminNetflix’s ‘Disjointed’ starring Kathy Bates is Rotten Tomatoes’ lowest-reviewed series of summer
    read more

    Jeff Sessions to crack down on legalized marijuana, ending Obama-era policy

    Attorney general to end lenient enforcement of federal marijuana laws, days after new legalization measure took effect in California

    The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is rescinding an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country, creating new confusion about enforcement and use just three days after a new legalization law went into effect in California.

    Instead of the previous policy of lenient federal enforcement begun under former attorney general Eric Holder in 2013, Sessions new stance will instead let federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding federal law prohibiting it. Guidance issued on Thursday depicted the change as a return to the rule of law.

    It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission, Sessions said in a statement.

    Sessions plan drew immediate strong objection from the Republican senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

    Gardner said in a tweet that the justice department has trampled on the will of the voters in Colorado and other states. He said the action would contradict what Sessions had told him before the attorney general was confirmed and that he was prepared to take all steps necessary to fight the step including holding up the confirmation of justice department nominees.

    The move by Trumps attorney general is sure to add to confusion about whether its OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where the drug is legal. It comes just after shops opened in California, launching what is expected to become the worlds largest market for legal recreational marijuana.

    This instability will only push consumer dollars away from these state-sanctioned businesses and back into the hands of criminal elements. With nearly two-thirds of Americans, including an outright majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents supporting marijuana legalization, this is not just bad policy, but awful politics and the Trump administration should brace itself for the public backlash it will no doubt generate, said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

    Altieri also noted that the announcement throws the jobs of more than 150,000 Americans employed in the budding legal marijuana industry into limbo.

    For politicians who purport to believe in small government and states rights, this is a wildly incongruous move, said Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

    While Sessions has been mostly been carrying out a justice department agenda that follows Trumps top priorities on such issues as immigration and opioids, the changes to marijuana policy reflect his own long-held concerns. Trumps personal views on marijuana remain largely unknown.

    A
    A budtender assists a customer at the Higher Path medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

    Sessions,though,has assailed marijuana as comparable to heroin and has blamed it for spikes in violence, had been expected to ramp up enforcement. His personal crusade against the substance has been well documented throughout his political career, including his over a decade in the Senate. He once famously quipped that he admired the KKK until he found out they smoked marijuana.

    The Obama administration in 2013 announced it would not stand in the way of states that legalized marijuana, so long as officials acted to keep it from migrating to places where it remained outlawed and keep it out of the hands of criminal gangs and children. Sessions is rescinding that memo, written by the then deputy attorney general, James M Cole, which had cleared up some of the uncertainty about how the federal government would respond as states began allowing sales for recreational and medical purposes.

    The marijuana business has since become a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar industry that helps fund some government programs. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and Californias sales alone are projected to bring in $1bn annually in tax revenue within several years.

    Sessions and some law enforcement officials in states such as Colorado blame legalization for a number of problems, including drug traffickers who have taken advantage of lax marijuana laws to illegally grow and ship the drug across state lines, where it can sell for much more. The decision was a win for marijuana opponents who had been urging Sessions to take action.

    There is no more safe haven with regard to the federal government and marijuana, but its also the beginning of the story and not the end, said Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who was among several anti-marijuana advocates who met with Sessions last month. This is a victory. Its going to dry up a lot of the institutional investment that has gone toward marijuana in the last five years.

    Threats of a federal crackdown have united liberals who object to the human costs of a war on pot with conservatives who see it as a states rights issue. Some in law enforcement support a tougher approach, but a bipartisan group of senators in March urged Sessions to uphold existing marijuana policy. Others in Congress have been seeking ways to protect and promote legal pot businesses.

    Marijuana advocates quickly condemned Sessions move as a return to outdated drug-war policies that unduly affected minorities.

    It also cannot go unnoted that this policy will have a disproportionate and disastrous impact on people of color, McCurdy said.

    Although black people and white people use marijuana at similar rates, black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

    The War on Marijuana, like the War on Drugs, has failed by almost every measure with the exception of successfully destroying communities of color, McCurdy added. Todays decision furthers entrenches the country in racially biased, fiscally irresponsible, and morally wrong drug policy.

    Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

    adminJeff Sessions to crack down on legalized marijuana, ending Obama-era policy
    read more

    Marijuana-friendly states ask Congress to make banking legal for the weed industry

    Recreational marijuana might be having its moment, but that doesn’t mean that all the kinks are worked out. Because of laws that still classify it as an illicit substance on the federal level, the banking industry has yet to warm up to the burgeoning weed business for fear of criminal liability.

    To alleviate those fears, a bipartisan group of 18 attorneys general from states with recreational and medical marijuana wants to bring the industry’s financial side out of the shadows, and they’re asking Congress for help in a new letter:

    The grey market makes it more difficult to track revenues for taxation purposes, contributes to a public safety threat as cash intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity, and prevents proper tracking of large swaths of finances across the nation.

    To address these challenges, we are requesting legislation that would provide a safe harbor for depository institutions that provide a financial product or service to a covered business in a state that has implemented laws and regulations that ensure accountability in the marijuana industry such as the SAFE Banking Act (S. 1152 and H.R. 2215) or similar legislation.

    This would bring billions of dollars into the banking sector, and give law enforcement the ability to monitor these transactions.

    The weed industry still largely relies on cash — every dispensary has an ATM in the corner — but a few creative solutions exist. One, a company called CanPay, heralds itself as the “first legitimate debit payment solution for the cannabis industry,” offering consumers an app-based debit account linked to their regular banking accounts that circumvents the laws that discourage banks from working with marijuana retailers.

    In a statement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra cited the Trump administration’s increased pressure on states with legal marijuana as a significant obstacle to an industry that is already generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue across states that enacted legalization.

    “Congress has the power to protect a growing $6.7 billion industry and the public safety of our communities,” Becerra said in a statement today. “My team at the Department of Justice is committed to implementing and enforcing the law in California in a way that most effectively protects the health and safety of our people.”

    The industry was shaken recently by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind Obama-era Justice Department guidance around state and federal tension around the issue, informally known as the “Cole memo.” That guidance acknowledged that while marijuana remained illegal on the national level, federal prosecutors could deprioritize enforcement on the issue, leaving the states to handle legality for themselves.

    “There is still a lot we don’t know about what enforcement priorities the Justice Department will implement,” Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman said in a statement at the time. “I expect, however, that the federal government will continue to focus their enforcement efforts and resources on combatting the gray and black markets and diversion, and not target marijuana businesses who abide by our state’s laws.”

    While some state leaders aren’t nervous yet, the shift has made skittish some marijuana-focused businesses and states that are enjoying the tax benefits. Without protective legislation from Congress, a working relationship with the banking industry is out of reach and increased scrutiny from the Justice Department seems imminent.

    You can read the full letter, embedded below.

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com

    adminMarijuana-friendly states ask Congress to make banking legal for the weed industry
    read more

    Colorado sold a whole bunch of weed this year

    Weed
    Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    Colorado’s cannabis enthusiasts are celebrating after a milestone was announced on Monday.

    In the first 10 months of 2016, the state sold more than $1 billion of recreational and medical cannabis and cannabis-related products, according to data released by the state’s Department of Revenue. That is a monstrous amount of weed.

    The record number is up from 2015’s total annual marijuana revenue of $996 million.

    Industry attorney Vincente Sederberg told the Cannabistthat he believes sales will cross $1.3 billion in 2016.

    “We think well see $1.3 billion in sales revenue this year and so the economic impact of this industry if were using the same multiplier from the Marijuana Policy Groups recent report, which is totally reasonable it suddenly eclipses a $3 billion economic impact for 2016.

    While Colorado was the first state to legalize cannabis, it may soon lose its top spot in terms of revenue. California recently legalized marijuana for recreational use and is expected to make major profits once it sets up its retail shops. Florida also legalized cannabis for medical use and, according to Forbes, it’s projected to rake in $1.6 billion by 2020, thanks to its large population of seniors with chronic pain and illness.

    Welcome to the United States of Weed, our new cash crop.

    BONUS: Trump is president, but at least you can get high in four more states

    Read more: http://mashable.com/

    adminColorado sold a whole bunch of weed this year
    read more

    Former congressional aide charged with taking pot shop bribe in California

    A former California congressional aide promised to “make things happen” to keep an illegal Compton pot shop in business — for a price, prosecutors said Wednesday.

    Michael Kimbrew, 44, pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles federal court to attempted extortion and receiving a bribe.

    Kimbrew was working in the Compton field office for Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Los Angeles, in March 2015 when he approached a marijuana shop that was operating illegally and told an employee it would be shut down if he couldn’t reach a deal with the owners, according to the indictment.

    He then met with the owners of the unnamed shop at Compton City Hall, where Hahn had a district office. He told them he was working with state and federal agencies, including the FBI, and for $5,000 could “make things happen” to get the proper medical marijuana permits.

    In May 2015, Kimbrew met at City Hall with an FBI agent who was posing as the owners’ business partner, and said he worked for the federal government and oversaw all activities in the city.

    According to the indictment, in May 2015 Kimbrew went up to an employee of the marijuana shop and told the clerk that the store was in violation of the law and that it would be shut down unless the owners reached an agreement with him, LosCerritosNews.Net reported.

    The former aide then met with owners of the shop at Compton City Hall and claimed that he worked with the FBI and that he could “make things happen” by securing the proper permits for the store in exchange for $5,000.

    In exchange for the bribe, he promised not to send authorities to shut down the shop, would help it get the required permit to operate and wouldn’t notify the congresswoman, which he said would eliminate the possibility of her informing the FBI, according to authorities.

    An undercover FBI agent posing as a business partner with the shop met with Kimbrew, who reiterated his claims he could prevent a shutdown in exchange for $5,000, according to the indictment.

    The undercover agent later met with Kimbrew at a restaurant and handed him a menu with the cash inside, the indictment said. The aide allegedly pocketed the money.

    Hahn, who is now a Los Angeles County supervisor, was not named in the indictment and was unaware of her former staffer’s alleged wheeling and dealing until she was notified by a reporter Wednesday.

    “If these charges are true, Mr. Kimbrew abused his power as a representative of my office and violated both my trust and the trust of the public,” Hahn said in a statement.

    A public defender representing Kimbrew did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

    Kimbrew, of Carson, could face up to 18 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. He was freed on a $15,000 bond and trial was scheduled Sept. 26.

    The Associated Press contributed to this story.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/

    adminFormer congressional aide charged with taking pot shop bribe in California
    read more