fbpx
Colorado Cannabis Delivery and Social Consumption Makes Big Moves

Colorado Cannabis Delivery and Social Consumption Makes Big Moves

Cannabis has been legal in Colorado since 2012. But it’s been hard to figure out where it’s safe to consume it.

Unless you owned a home or had a cool landlord, you would be at a loss trying to find a safe place to consume the cannabis you just bought. Since legalization, it has been illegal to consume cannabis in a public setting in Colorado. 

The only place that was legal to consume was a private residence. As mentioned before, if you’re renting and your landlord puts a “no cannabis” rule in the lease, you’re out of luck (as someone in that situation I can vouch for the inconvenience).

But finally, that’s all about the change.

House Bill 1230

Under this new bill, dispensaries will be able to apply for a tasting room license similar to the one used for breweries in this state, while businesses such as hotels, restaurants, music venues, art galleries and yoga studios can apply for private consumption licenses and limited cannabis sales.

Mobile cannabis lounges such as tour buses and limousines would also be licensed but could not sell cannabis. Social consumption businesses would have to apply for a license through the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, and would be exempt from the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, a state law that bans public indoor smoking.

“In expanding access to regulated spaces for adults to consume cannabis, we are taking the responsible approach to cannabis consumption in a safe environment,” says Senator Vicki Marble, one of the bill’s prime sponsors, in a statement about the bill. “HB 1230 protects the will of voters who asked for the freedom to choose marijuana as an alternative and to curb dealing and use in parks and on the street.”

Nothing is Final

There are still some hurdles before cannabis cafes can open in your town. Governor Jared Polis still needs to sign the bill into law, which appears to be pretty likely at this point.

However, even if Polis signs the bill, local governments would have to opt in to the new licensing program, and could modify it to ban certain forms of consumption, such as indoor smoking. And the City of Denver’s social marijuana consumption licensing program, which already has its own location qualifications and bans indoor smoking, would remain unaffected by new stipulations in the bill, unless Denver City Council or the mayoral administration decide to alter it.

Baby Steps are Still Steps

If there’s anything the members of the cannabis community have learned through the years, it is that cannabis regulation moves slow. While counties in Colorado will be able to begin the application process in January of 2020, should Polis sign the bill, counties can still make their own regulations.

It’s likely that many places will still ban indoor smoking even with the new law permitting this with the proper licensing. However a big driving force behind this bill specifically was the cannabis tourism industry in the state. With current laws, out-of-state visitors who legally purchase cannabis cannot consume it in hotels.

With House Bill 1230, hotels and other local businesses could gain additional tourism revenue by getting on board and applying for a public consumption license.

cannabis delivery in colorado could soon be legal

Dispensaries in Colorado could start using free delivery as a sell point if the new cannabis delivery bill passes.

Cannabis Delivery in Colorado

The day before the passing of House Bill 1230, House Bill 2019-1234 passed the state Senate with a vote of 20-14, and the state House with a vote of 38-27. The bill allows for “marijuana delivery permits” for licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and “transporters” to deliver their products to private residences once a day only.

Should the bill get the final signature from Polis, medical cannabis delivery would start in 2020, with recreational delivery following soon after in 2021. A $1 surcharge would be tacked on to each delivery made and would then be funneled back into local law enforcement for the sole purpose of administering local marijuana laws. 

Those licensed to make such deliveries would also be protected from criminal prosecution while on the job. Similarly to the other bill, local county governments and city councils could still restrict deliveries.

Proponents of cannabis delivery in Colorado site those medical patients that cannot make it to a dispensary due to immobility or other issues and a desire to eliminate the illegal delivery market currently operating in the state, while opponents worry that cannabis delivery could damage in-person dispensary sales and even open the opportunity for big players like Amazon to eventually take over.

Nevertheless it looks like a bright future lies ahead for cannabis consumption in Colorado, and it’s about time. For over 6 years cannabis consumers in the state have had to hide or find somewhere secluded enough that they wouldn’t get caught.

Hopefully these bills will get the final signature from Polis and we can begin to move forward into the next phase of legal cannabis in Colorado.

Oklahoma Hemp Bust (Update)

Oklahoma Hemp Bust (Update)

Four men were arrest during an Oklahoma hemp bust back in January. Now two men are finally free, with the other two with unsure futures.

The Real Dirt reported on a story back in January that involved a company transporting hemp through Oklahoma. The hemp was poorly stored, resulting in odor that could be smelled 2 miles down the road, by police.

What happened next cause quite some controversy in the new legal Oklahoma hemp industry.

The Original Oklahoma Hemp Bust

In early January Andrew Ross from Aurora, CO was providing security for the transport of several thousand pounds of what he claimed to be industrial hemp from Oklahoma to Colorado. Ross and the semi-truck he was assisting was pulled over in Pawhuska, Oklahoma after running a red light. 

The officer smelled what he claimed to be cannabis as he approached Ross’ van, at which point Ross told him that they were the security for the semi-truck transporting hemp. Ross was then instructed to open the semi-truck, revealing over 9,000 pounds of hemp or cannabis.

After conducting a field test, which tests for any amount of THC, the officer believed the plants to be cannabis and not hemp. However, legal hemp can have up to .3% THC. This led to a lengthy delay in the case as the local police had to send the plants to be lab-tested, which was additionally delayed by the government shutdown in January.

During this time, two of the four who were arrested — Ross, one other in the van and another two in the semi-truck were arrested in total — have remained in prison since they couldn’t afford bail. They most likely won’t be released until the conclusive results of the tests come back.

The Update

While four men were arrested back in January, only the two truck drivers who couldn’t afford bail have remained in prison, until about a month ago. In late March, all charges were dropped against the truck drivers Tadesse Deneke and Farah Warsame.

But for Andrew Ross and his partner that provided security for the transport, the legal battle is not over. While a local man from Tulsa actually offered to pay the bond for Deneke and Warsame to get them out of jail, setting them free, The DA is still pursuing charges aginst the security company.

Of the seized material that was tested, eight of the eleven tests conducted came back “hot”. In other words, the THC levels of the samples tested above the legal amount of .3%, with the hot samples testing between .38% and .5% THC. That is no longer considered legal hemp under federal law.

According the DA’s ongoing investigation, the security drivers for the truck may have had more knowledge about what they were transporting compared to the truck drivers. Implicating that they could have know they were transporting illegal hemp, and let the drivers, who had no experience with hemp, transport it anyway.

What Comes Next?

While the security guards are not being held in jail since they posted bail, their charges have still not been dropped. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison for transportation of illegal cannabis.

And this is case is still far from over. The next court appearance for the security guards is not until August 8th, 2019. The evidence is starting to point toward foul play. If the security guards knew they were transporting illegal material, they will be held responsible, along with the company that grew the hemp to begin with.

If it really is true that almost none of the hemp on the truck was .3%, then this is a case of someone trying to skirt the law, but not getting close enough to do it. This is a weeding out process, and people will try to take advantage of a new, infantile industry with little regulation or state oversight currently.

The Real Dirt will continue coverage of this case as it develops.

For the latest hemp and cannabis industry news, join The Real Dirt Facebook Group! Get exclusive content, discussion and more when you join.

Everything You Need to Know About Growing Hemp in Alabama (Pt. 2)

Everything You Need to Know About Growing Hemp in Alabama (Pt. 2)

At this point you’ve already decided whether or not you’re growing hemp from seed or clones. Now it’s time to get it planted.

Over 150 farms have already been approved to start growing hemp in Alabama. A lot of them are going to fail.

Why?

Because they’re going to treat hemp like any other row crop.

Planting and Caring for Hemp

In Alabama you should plant at the end of May through the first week ofJune with 2000 to 4000 plants per acre. It is best to sew directly into the ground, however many people find success by using automated plug planters. These planters allow you to plant clones and seeds in a root plug.

Bigger is not better. It’s best to grow plants that are under 5 feet tall and spaced appropriately where they still touch. Your hemp fields should look more like a corn or wheat field than your traditional ganja plant.

To put it simply: It’s all math.

Smaller plants are easier to harvest, easier grow, and don’t require staking. Larger plants require staking, more water, and more nutrition. If you have the land, it’s much better to plant more acres out than less plants. If you choose to grow large plants you will absolutely eat up all your profits and harvesting.

It’s easy to calculate the weight of a field. A foot-tall plant at a density of 2000 plants per acre will yield 2,000 to 4,000 pounds in acre. If you plant with a greater density of 4,000 plants per acre, you will be able to use mechanical harvesting techniques for easier collection. Bean pickers are already being used to harvest hemp throughout the country. You just need more plants per acre for it to be worth your while.

Best Hemp Practices

On a very small scale of 1 to 10 acres, it’s easy enough to plant your seeds or clones by hand. Anything bigger than that and you’ll either need a lot more hands or a mechanical planter.

Hemp clones and seeds require water to grow. They grow best in irrigated fields, however I have been to dozens of hemp fields throughout the country that don’t have irrigation and just rely on God‘s grace and the the rain.

Cross your fingers and it could work out great for you.

For guaranteed success, supplemental irrigation is essential. With any irrigation technique, hemp plants will suck up the water you give them. It is important for them to be in well-draining fields so they don’t get overwatered. You’ll also need to fertilize your fields.

That’s right Hemp requires fertilization. Smart farmers test the soil prior to planting and apply the appropriate supplements. Hemp mostly needs added nitrogen and calcium. You can apply this with all the traditional means from chickenshit to gypsum, ammonium nitrate to calcium nitrate.

Harvesting Your Hemp

growing hemp and harvesting hemp in Alabama

Harvest can be a confusing component of hemp cultivation.

You can begin harvesting your hemp for extraction as soon as your plants’ CBD levels have started to reach their peak. This occurs approximately 35 days after your initial flower set.

This translates to a harvest in mid September to late October. Since we are mostly harvesting hemp for its CBD component and not its THC component, we have a wider latitude for harvesting.

Lastly, it is smart to invest in at least one or two chemical analyses of the CBD. The best time for testing is between three and six weeks into flower. This will give you a gauge of your harvest times and periods for next year as well.

While it might seem relatively simple, nobody has ever grown hemp on the scale that the US is about to begin growing. There will be a lot of problems that farmers across the country will have to combat. In different states with different climates, different problems will arise for the growers there. But now that it is a legal industry with unlimited potential, and with the help from social media platforms and podcasts like The Real Dirt, the answers to these problems will be much easier to find than they are now.

Learn more about hemp in Alabama specifically on The Real Dirt Podcast. And join our Real Dirt Alabama Facebook Group for news exclusive to Alabama, grow tips and more.

Listen on iTunes

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Stitcher

Los Angeles cannabis permit problems

Los Angeles cannabis permit problems

California had the right idea when they legalized cannabis in 2017. But with incredible delays, lack of resources and a surplus of entrepreneurs hoping to make a name for themselves in the industry, the state and cities like Los Angeles are struggling.

Over four million people live in the city of Los Angeles. It’s no surprise then, that the inhabitants would try to work in the new legal system. But it hasn’t been as simple, or profitable, as originally projected.

California is the biggest state in the country, as well as the largest supplier of cannabis. When the state legalized, it virtually leveled the main supplier in the state; the private market.

Unprepared, Understaffed, Overwhelmed

While strict requirements, exorbitant application fees and an originally-one-man advisory board made the legal industry all but unattainable for smaller growers and farms in the state, the process was made much simpler for retailers. Medical retailers, that is.

In Los Angeles, priority was given to owners of retail medical dispensaries in the application process. Since they already had the location, the storefront and the brand, all that was needed was a transition to the new regulatory requirements for recreational cannabis.

Second in line for application review came those that legally supplied the medical cannabis to the dispensaries in Los Angeles. It makes sense because once the retail locations are transitioned to recreational, they can continue to use the same growers and suppliers, maintaining their business relationships in the new, legal industry, with minimal delay. At least, that’s how it went on paper.

In reality, the situation isn’t going so smoothly. In February of 2018, the city gave out about 180 temporary permits to allow medical dispensaries to operate recreationally. For the growers and suppliers, the same was to be done by April. Those temporary permits weren’t issued until the end of August.

This shouldn’t be surprising considering the total lack of manpower the Department of Cannabis Regulation had then and now. The directory board of the department started with just one member. Now, over a year since legalization, there are only 13 members on the board. Now imagine those 13 people handling every single application process for the hundreds of retailers, growers and processors.

The picture starts to become pretty clear. As if the city didn’t have enough on its plate, it also included a social equity program in its local laws, aimed at helping repair some of the damage done by the war on drugs.

Los Angeles Social Equity Program

This is where the state of California and the city of Los Angeles could have set a great precedent for new and current legal industries. The city established a social equity program that would give priority to those most negatively affected by the drug war prior to legalization.

People of color in the city were disproportionately arrested for small drug crimes involving cannabis compared to their white counterparts, despite statistical data showing no difference in cannabis use between the two groups. This group and other minority groups negatively impacted by the drug war were meant to be some of the first allowed into the new, legal industry.

Unfortunately that isn’t how it has worked out for Los Angeles. While the social equity program gave priority to these minority groups, the Department of Cannabis Regulation gave higher priority to already-established medical retailers, growers and processors. And with the — to put it mildly — severe lag of the application process, these groups still haven’t had one single approval.

Mind you these are people who do not currently have a business, and want to open one in the recreational market. Many leapt for storefront dispensary locations, despite the low availability. Los Angeles put a cap on how many storefronts can be opened in a neighborhood, in addition to strict requirements for location (e.g. can’t be near schools, other dispensaries, public parks), greatly limiting the options for would-be entrepreneurs.

When it comes to timeframes, the city hasn’t been shy on the issue either;

“Bringing cannabis above ground is an incredibly complex process, and L.A. is doing it on an unprecedented scale,” Alex Comisar, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said in a statement. “Our goal is to do this the right way, not the quick way or the easy way — and we’ve always been very clear about that.”

It’s a rough road ahead

Los Angeles is way behind schedule. It’s a fact. And the local government isn’t doing much to speed up the process. The Department of Cannabis Regulation currently sits at 13 members. Multiple additional position have been filed, but due to the slow city hiring process, anyone new has yet to be hired.

The head of the city council Herb Wesson insists that everything will basically sort itself out. Even with reports of many potential entrepreneurs leaving the city to open up shop elsewhere, Wesson isn’t fazed. “I have no time for folks that want to go somewhere else. Let ’em.”

Instead, as months have passed, industry groups and consultants have complained that many cannabis entrepreneurs are stuck paying steep prices for multiyear leases, after landlords hiked prices on eligible storefronts. 

“You had a lot of people who followed the city’s guidance and signed leases,” paying upwards of $10,000 a month in rent, said Larry Mondragon, vice president of zoning and entitlements for Craig Fry & Associates, a consulting firm helping cannabis businesses. “People are holding onto leases, paying exorbitant checks, not even knowing when they’re able to turn in applications to the city.”

Equity applicants are supposed to get a helping hand from the city through “business, licensing and compliance assistance.” But more than a year after recreational cannabis sales became legal, there are no city programs providing such aid.

So far, the only funding the city has approved for social equity is $250,000 for a fee deferral program. Department officials say they now are seeking more than $4 million for the program, hoping to roll out support services, such as business development training, no sooner than July.

Los Angeles needs to step up. California needs to step up. There are a lot of problems in the state with little to no solutions. Something needs to be done at the city level to change that. How, and even if that will be done, is still unknown.

Missouri Medical Marijuana Makes Moves

Missouri Medical Marijuana Makes Moves

Over 300 Missouri medical marijuana licenses will be distributed in the state in 2019. Is the state about to pop off?

As of February 7, 2019, more than $3 million medical marijuana license fees have been paid since the state began accepting pre-filed applications a month ago. Over 400 applications have been submitted to the Department of Health since then.

Among those applications, 226 were for dispensaries, 128 were for cultivation facilities and 64 forms for infused product manufacturing.

Missouri Medical Marijuana

Amendment 2 legalizes growing, manufacturing, selling and consuming marijuana and marijuana products for medicinal use at the state level. The state began accepting pre-filed applications in January 2019.

According to backers of Amendment 2, 192 dispensaries will be ready and operational for patients by 2020. The amendment sets up the following fee schedule:

  • Patient fees are $25 per year;
  • Dispensary fees are $6,000 initially, then $10,000 per year;
  • Cultivation fees are $10,000 initially, then $25,000 per year; and
  • Infused-products fees are $6,000 initially, then $10,000 per year.

The state will issue at least 61 licenses to cultivate marijuana, which works out to one cultivator license per 100,000 Missouri residents, according to the amendment. At least 82 licenses will be issued to makers of cannabis-infused products.

On Pace For A Scheduled Start

While patients will be able to begin the application process for their medical marijuana licenses starting June 4th, those who did not pre-file their business applications must wait until August 4th. After all applications are in, the state has until December 31, 2019 to approve the applications.

It is then assumed that the Missouri medical marijuana industry will be launching in January of 2020. The state governor is committed to the will of people and has given his word to allow the medical marijuana industry in the state to progress unhindered. The state is implementing a system similar to Oregon and Colorado’s medical marijuana programs, and it is moving fast just like Oklahoma’s current program.

The state’s speed of implementation is impressive, but citizens have noticed a serious flaw in an interpretation of the amendment.

Not All Is Well

The Missouri medical marijuana program is moving ahead as scheduled, but people have brought up an issue pertaining to the confidentiality of those applying to work in the industry. I.e. the state has not released any information regarding the identities of those applying.

A section in Amendment 2 requires DHSS to “maintain the confidentiality of reports or other information obtained from an applicant or licensee,” but backers of the Amendment are claiming that tis was not the intended meaning.

Backers of Amendment 2 have said that provision of the legal text is not meant to shield the identities of business-related medical marijuana license applicants from public disclosure. And a week ago, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sued state government over the issue, asking a judge to order DHSS to release copies of documents submitted with the pre-filed fees.

It looks like Missouri medical marijuana in on track. Sure it has hit some speed bumps, but so has every other state legalizing either medicinally or recreationally. Compared to other states, Missouri is ahead of the pack with its timeline.

It seems that the industry in Missouri will be getting off its feet in a year’s time, but it is definitely too soon to say whether the state can stick to their timeline once the applications start flooding in.

Legal Hemp or Illegal Cannabis?

Legal Hemp or Illegal Cannabis?

Legal hemp may have been included in the 2018 Farm Bill, but that hasn’t stopped some serious issues from arising since its passing.

Farmers everywhere rejoiced when legal hemp was signed into the Farm Bill at the end of 2018. But the bill has yet to actually take effect, and it could be another year before federal law surrounding hemp actually takes hold.

This delay hasn’t stopped many from jumping in head first to the hemp industry in an attempt to get ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, state governments aren’t as eager to jump in.

Oklahoma Hemp Bust

In early January Andrew Ross from Aurora, CO was transporting several thousand pounds of what he claimed to be industrial hemp to Oklahoma to Colorado. Ross’ semi-truck was pulled over in Pawhuska after running a red light. 

The officer smelled what he claimed to be cannabis as he approached Ross’ van, at which point Ross told him that they were the security for the semi-truck transporting hemp. Ross was then instructed to open the semi-truck, revealing over 20 bags of the green plant.

After conducting a field test, which tests for any amount of THC, the officer believed the plants to be cannabis and not hemp. However, legal hemp can have up to .3% THC. This has led to a lengthy delay in the case as the local police have had to send the plants to be lab-tested, which was additionally delayed by the recent government shutdown.

Unfortunately, during this time, two of the four who were arrested — Ross and one other in the van and another two in the semi-truck were arrested in total — have remained in prison since they couldn’t afford bail. They most likely won’t be released until the conclusive results of the tests come back.

Legal Hemp In Oklahoma

Industrial hemp was legal in Oklahoma before the Farm Bill was signed. This means that the hemp Ross claims to be transporting, is perfectly legal in the state. But that isn’t the problem here.

The issue is that law enforcement and government officials alike cannot confidently judge the difference between “legal hemp” and “illegal cannabis”. When field tests will always say cannabis if there is any trace of THC, no police officer can realistically judge a situation in which they smell what they think is cannabis, even if hemp smells exactly the same.

A similar issue has arose in Idaho, where there are no such hemp laws on the books, and the government is in no hurry to abide by the new Farm Bill.

Biggest Bust In History (?)

Law enforcement officials are saying it could be the biggest cannabis bust in state history. If it is cannabis that they found in the back of Dennis Palamarchuk’s semi-truck, that is.

During a routine highway semi-truck safety inspection, the conducting officer smelled strong odor of what they suspected to be cannabis. Much like Ross’ story, the truck statement claimed that the 31 bags in the truck all contained industrial hemp. However, since this happened in Idaho, where there are no laws on the books regarding hemp at the state level, it has caused more problems.

legal hemp bust in oklahoma and idaho

Over 6,000 pounds of hemp that supposedly tested positive for THC. The amount of THC has not been specified.
Photo courtesy of Idaho State Police

According to the Farm Bill, states that do not have hemp laws on the state level have two options. Propose a plan to the federal government for their own hemp laws that still stay within federal guidelines, or follow federal law on the state level. Idaho has neither submitted a plan nor assumed the laws put forth in the Farm Bill as of yet.

This means that whether or not Palamarchuk was transporting hemp or cannabis is irrelevant. In Idaho, both are currently still illegal. Thus, Dennis was arrested for trafficking, and as it stands, police have seized over 7,000 pounds of what they consider to be cannabis. While testing positively as hemp may help Dennis legally, it appears that there is little to be done for him in this situation.

What Happens Next?

These two separate but similar issues have highlighted serious problems in law enforcement’s ability to recognize and distinguish differences between now federally legal hemp, and illegal cannabis. Current technology does not allow police officers conducting a normal stop and search to confidently judge the results of a field test.

As laws change, state governments will have no choice but to follow federal law in some manner and allow transportation of industrial hemp. How the states will enforce this while keeping hemp separate from cannabis is yet to be seen. If these two busts are any sign of things to come, however, we have a long way to go.

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial
error

Like The Real Dirt? Please spread the word :)