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California opens new marijuana agency 5 years after legalization

California opens new marijuana agency 5 years after legalization

california department of cannabis control

Five years after California legalized recreational marijuana, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law aimed at simplifying how the state regulates the growing industry.

The new law creates a single Department of Cannabis Control, consolidating enforcement, licensing and environmental oversight that had fallen under three different departments.

Industry representatives praised the change, which Newsom first proposed in January 2020.

We “are excited to see the consolidation,” said Lindsay Robinson, the executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, representing over 400 licensed businesses across the state. “We see this as a big win for the industry.”

The Department of Cannabis Control will now take over responsibilities from the Bureau of Cannabis Control under the Department of Consumer Affairs, CalCannabis under the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch under the Department of Health.

Cannabis companies had often expressed difficulty navigating three different agencies with varying protocols and processes, according to Robinson.

“I think that having all of this housed under one agency is going to help with communication, it’s going to help with transparency and hopefully with process time for applications too,” Robinson said.

The department will also manage California’s track-and-trace system, following the movement of cannabis and cannabis products through the legal supply chain.

The Newsom administration wants to make it less likely someone will choose to operate in the illicit market, Christina Dempsey, the Acting Deputy Director for the DCC, told The Sacramento Bee by email.

Robinson called the licensing of California’s cannabis industry when voters approved recreational cannabis use in 2016 a “behemoth project” from the start.

Research finds cannabis terpenes as a promising for pain therapies

Research finds cannabis terpenes as a promising for pain therapies

managing pain with cannabis terpenes

When it comes to the medicinal and therapeutic properties of Cannabis sativa, an unsolved mystery is whether there exists an “entourage effect,” whereby the pain-relieving effects of the plant as a whole are greater than any of its individual parts. 

New research from the University of Arizona Health Sciences has found evidence that favors the entourage effect theory and positions Cannabis terpenes, the part of the plant that provides flavor and aroma, as a promising new target for pain therapies that would require lower doses and produce fewer side effects.

A lot of people are taking cannabis and cannabinoids for pain. We’re interested in the concept of the entourage effect, with the idea being that maybe we can boost the modest pain-relieving efficacy of THC and not boost the psychoactive side effects, so you could have a better therapeutic.”

– John Streicher, PhD, lead researcher, member of the UArizona Health Sciences Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center and associate professor of pharmacology at the College of Medicine – Tucson

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants and are the basic component in essential oils. The terpene linalool, for example, gives lavender its distinctive floral scent. In addition to terpenes, Cannabis sativa contains naturally occurring compounds known as cannabinoids, the most well-known of which are cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis.

Researchers found that Cannabis terpenes, when used by themselves, mimic the effects of cannabinoids, including a reduction in pain sensation. When combined with cannabinoids, the pain-relieving effects were amplified without an increase in negative side effects. The paper, “Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity,” was published in Scientific Reports.

Michigan Governor Signs Legislation to Regulate Delta-8 THC

Michigan Governor Signs Legislation to Regulate Delta-8 THC

michigan delta 8 law has been passed

MICHIGAN — Today Gov. Whitmer signed legislation that will regulate, and cover delta-8 THC derived starting October 11, 2021.

This bill will update definitions regarding cannabis plant products making sure all intoxicating substances will be safety-tested and tracked through the MRA’s statewide monitoring system Michigan Executive Office of the Governor.

“This package of bills continues to show Michigan is the model for the nation in regard to protecting its residents and making sure that those who consume marijuana products do so in a safe manner,” said Gov. Whitmer. “I am glad to see Michigan continuing to lead on the implementation and regulation of a safe, secure marijuana industry, which has already brought tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the state, as well as thousands of well-paying jobs.”

“The team at the MRA has always been committed to transparency and forward thinking and this was once again the case regarding delta-8,” said MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo. “We were proud to work with legislators and industry stakeholders to pro-actively address this issue and move an untested, unlicensed intoxicating synthetic product into our licensed and regulated system.”

“The voters of Michigan chose to legalize and regulate marijuana in the interests of justice and public health,” said Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor. “We know that banning these substances is not the best way to keep the public safe. But we also know that these psychoactive compounds are currently being sold with no public health standards to anyone, regardless of age. Instead of allowing these new hemp derivatives like Delta 8 to circumvent our world-class regulated system, this new law will apply the same rigorous testing and commercial standards that currently protect consumer safety in the legal marijuana marketplace.”

“I appreciate the support of Governor Whitmer and my legislative partner Representative Rabhi in helping Michigan take an important step in streamlining regulations for the safety of cannabis businesses and people around our state,” said Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Twp. “By mirroring Michigan’s existing liquor dram shop law and clearly defining the requirements for a proper injury lawsuit, we are bringing clarity to a previously murky area of our cannabis laws. I am extremely excited to see the Governor not only sign these bills, but also sign bills to protect Michigander’s from unregulated and untested Delta-8 hemp products. This legislation does the right thing by taking these products out of the unregulated marketplace and bringing them under the purview of a well-functioning Marijuana Regulatory Agency.”

$1.19 billion worth of marijuana seized in California bust

$1.19 billion worth of marijuana seized in California bust

california cannabis bust

Authorities in Southern California have seized more than 16 tons of marijuana worth an estimated $1.19 billion, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said Wednesday. The 10-day sting is the largest eradication of illegal marijuana cultivations in the history of the department. 

The operation, which began on June 8, resulted in 22 felony arrests, 109 misdemeanor arrests, and 19 arrests from water theft enforcement teams, officials said. More than 200 locations were served with search warrants. Nearly 375,000 marijuana plants and 33,480 pounds of harvested marijuana were seized, along with 65 vehicles, 180 animals and $28,000.

Officials say they believe international cartels are behind the illegal large-scale marijuana farms.

“We’re talking about the cartels,” Lancaster, California, Mayor Rex Parris said at a Wednesday press conference. “We are not talking about mom and pop people selling marijuana that they grew in their backyard. This is the cartels. We are very very close to driving down the freeway and seeing bodies hanging from the overpasses. That is what’s coming.” 

While California legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2018, illegal grows of the crop have been on the rise in the state. Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Narcotic Bureau identified over 500 illegal marijuana cultivations in 2021, increasing from the 150 identified in 2020, according to a June statement. Detectives found that the average size per cultivation at farms increased to 15 greenhouses, up from eight per farm in the year prior.

“What we want to do is send a clear and loud message to the cartels and anyone doing an illegal operation in the high desert: Your days are over and we’re coming for you,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the impacts of illegal marijuana cultivation by cartels include water theft, human trafficking, pollution and threats to safety and security.

“This illegal activity is impacting the quality of life for residents and businesses and if left unaddressed will have long lasting and devastating affects in the region,” Barger said.

 

She called on the district attorney to prosecute those arrested in the operation. Villanueva said that he will share the district attorney’s prosecution decision publicly once it’s made available.

“This is an issue that is plaguing, and will continue to plague, if we do not make it very uncomfortable and one way to make it uncomfortable is to prosecute,” Barger said.

Rhode Island Cannabis Legalization Bill Under Consideration

Rhode Island Cannabis Legalization Bill Under Consideration

rhode island cannabis legalization being considered by house

On Tuesday, the RI House of Representatives Committee on Finance examined legislation that would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults, with legislators and the public showing strong support for the bill and contemplating how it could be improved. The proposal in the House differs from the Senate’s recently passed, similar legislation in a number of key areas, including automatic expungement for past cannabis offenses and oversight and impact fees to be paid to municipalities where retail stores open.

“I try to take input from a lot of the stakeholders in the cannabis world,” said sponsoring representative Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence). “Patients, caregivers, cultivators, existing compassion centers and the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. I try to take everyone’s input and compromise the best piece of legislation that I can for a legal, adult-use, recreational cannabis program.”

 

The legislation, if approved in the House and signed into law, would legalize cannabis in the state, allowing possession up to one ounce by individuals over the age of 21. It also allows for home grow comparable to neighboring Massachusetts, with adults being able to grow up to 12 plants, with six active plants at any given time.

Fifteen recreational cannabis licenses would be made available if the legislation is approved, with five of those being designated for equity applicants. Three of the licenses would go to the state’s three existing compassion centers and seven new licenses would be up for grabs, with one of those slots set aside for a co-op business.

“We can work on the number of retail [licenses],” said Slater. “I’m open to adjusting that number. I think it’s important.”

“What I’ve found is that we have people, small businesses, our constituents, investing their money and there was no market for them,” he continued, speaking to the state’s expansion of medical marijuana access in recent years. “They got their licenses, they paid their fees, they did all the right things and I feel that we oversaturated the market and I don’t want to do that again.”

Last week, the RI Senate passed similar legislation, though Slater said his bill bears some significant differences.

The first, said Slater, is that past cannabis-related offenses, both misdemeanors and felonies, would be automatically expunged if the legislation is approved. The Senate bill also offers expungement for past cannabis offenses, though that bill lays out a process to apply for expungement. Further, Slater’s bill would not create a five-member cannabis control commission as in the Senate’s version, but would leave oversight to the state’s Department of Business Regulation.

“My bill leaves the regulation to DBR, which has been doing a good job to authorize and promulgate regulations to effectuate the legislation,” said Slater.

Missouri Medical Marijuana Sales Set Record in June

Missouri Medical Marijuana Sales Set Record in June

missouri medical marijuana sets new sales record

Missouri’s medical marijuana industry topped $70 million in cumulative sales, including nearly $16.4 million in June, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Eight months after the state’s first dispensary opened in October 2020, 126 dispensaries operate throughout the state. Those dispensaries, plus manufacturers, transporters, and laboratories, total 201 medical marijuana facilities in the state.

“This is essentially Missouri’s newest twenty-first century industry,” Alan Zagier, a representative from the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, said. “Now we’re really at the moment when rubber hits the road, and we’re really starting to see the results of all this hard work our members have put in.”

Zaiger said the industry contributes to a post-COVID economy.

“The benefit extends to not just cannabis patients but also to the workforce,” he said. “This is a real shot in the arm for lots of communities across the state. These are real, tangible jobs.”

A total of 375 facilities have been licensed to handle medical marijuana by DHSS.

“We’re not just talking about dispensaries in our urban centers in St. Louis and Kansas City, and even there in mid-Missouri,” Zaiger said. “We’re talking about dispensaries in places like Hayti and Caruthersville.”

Shangri-La Dispensaries is one of those facilities, with dispensaries in Columbia and Jefferson City.

“Business is phenomenal,” Michael Lafrieda, the Chief Operating Officer for Shangri-La, said. The dispensary sees “several hundred [customers] a day. On some of the longer holiday weekends, a couple thousand people.”

Lafrieda said his customers range in age from teens to eighties. Zaiger said that nearly 121,000 Missourians have been approved as medical marijuana patients, with many more applications.

“For the sake of comparison,” Zaiger said. “Illinois has about 12.6 million residents, so that’s more than double of Missouri. And even now, several years into their program, they currently only have 55 licensed retail outlets open, so that’s less than half of the number that we have open in less than a year’s time.”

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