fbpx
California offers $100 million to rescue struggling legal marijuana industry

California offers $100 million to rescue struggling legal marijuana industry

California legal marijuana industry is getting $100 million from government for support

The California Legislature on Monday approved a $100-million plan to bolster California’s legal marijuana industry, which continues to struggle to compete with the large illicit pot market nearly five years after voters approved sales for recreational use.

Los Angeles will be the biggest beneficiary of the money, which was proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to be provided as grants to cities and counties to help cannabis businesses transition from provisional to regular licenses.

“California voters approved Proposition 64 five years ago and entrusted the Legislature with creating a legal, well-regulated cannabis market,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. “We have yet to reach that goal.”

Many legal marijuana growers, retailers and manufacturers have struggled to make the transition from a provisional, temporary license to a permanent one renewed on an annual basis — a process that requires a costly, complicated and time-consuming review of the negative environmental effects involved in a business and a plan for reducing those harms.

As a result, about 82% of the state’s cannabis licensees still held provisional licenses as of April, according to the governor’s office.

The funds, including $22 million earmarked for L.A., would help cities hire experts and staff to assist legal marijuana businesses in completing the environmental studies and transitioning the licenses to “help legitimate businesses succeed,” Ting said.

The grant program is endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who said in a letter to legislators that the money is “essential in supporting a well-regulated, equitable, and sustainable cannabis market.”

Separately, the governor wants to give legal marijuana businesses a six-month extension beyond a Jan. 1 deadline to transition from provisional licenses by complying with mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act. That extension, which faces opposition for delaying promised environmental safeguards, was not included in the state budget bill approved Monday and is still being negotiated with lawmakers.

The governor’s proposal to extend provisional licenses has drawn objections from a coalition of seven environmental groups including Sierra Club California, Defenders of Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy.

They said in a letter to Newsom that the proposal allowing the extension of provisional licenses and interim alternatives to CEQA rules goes against what voters were promised and is “wholly inadequate to protect local communities and the environment.”

 
Nevada Governor Signs Multiple Marijuana Reform Bills

Nevada Governor Signs Multiple Marijuana Reform Bills

nevada governor passed more cannabis reform bills last week

Carson City, NV: Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed multiple marijuana reform bills into law.

On Monday, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 341. The new law, which takes effect on October 1, 2021, provides regulations for the establishment of on-site “cannabis consumption lounges” for those ages 21 and older. Regulators must still determine the specific types of cannabis products that are “appropriate for consumption” in the facilities.

Alaska and Colorado have previously enacted legislation explicitly permitting social consumption sites for cannabis, and New York’s nascent adult-use law also regulates on-site facilities. Similar legislation is currently pending in California.

Late last week, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 400 into law. It amends the state’s traffic safety statutes so that the operation of a motor vehicle with trace amounts of either THC or its metabolite is no longer a per se violation of law. The new law takes effect on October 1, 2021.

Under the state’s existing traffic safety laws, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with low levels of either THC or the 11-hydroxy-THC metabolites in one’s blood or urine, even absent any further evidence of psychomotor impairment. The revised measure eliminates the application of those limits in certain circumstances.

NORML has consistently opposed the imposition of THC per se limits, opining that such thresholds are not evidence-based and that they may lead to the criminal prosecution of people who consumed cannabis several days previously but are no longer under its influence.

Also on Friday, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 158, which revises first-time penalties imposed upon minors who possess small quantities of cannabis. It reduces existing penalties — which include up to six-months in jail and a $1,000 fine — to community service. The measure also requires courts to automatically seal records for these offenses if the offender completes the term of their sentence. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2021.

Trump Clemency Recipient Says MORE Act Will Leave Many Prisoners Behind

Trump Clemency Recipient Says MORE Act Will Leave Many Prisoners Behind

MORE Act may not help cannabis convictions

Advocates are eager for a House vote on a recently reintroduced bill to federally legalize marijuana—but some others are sounding the alarm about provisions related to resentencing that might not help to repair the harms of the war on drugs in the way lawmakers are aiming for.

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances. But it also has a concerted focus on social equity, which includes providing for resentencing for people convicted over certain federal marijuana offenses.

To many advocates and legislators, there’s a necessity to couple legalization with equity. And that’s what the resentencing language, along with other provisions, is supposed to achieve. But in a letter to congressional lawmakers, a pro-reform individual who received clemency for a cannabis conviction from President Donald Trump warned that the bill, as written, would not have the impact that the sponsors intend.

Because the legislation gives significant deference to the courts to make decisions on resentencing petitions—but also declines to resolve cases where there are aggravating factors such as possession of a firearm or sums of money at the time of an arrest—relief could be out of reach for a large number of federal inmates, the letter states.

Craig Cesal, who is serving a sentence of supervised release after being granted clemency by Trump over a federal cannabis trafficking case, said in the letter that many people incarcerated for marijuana “would receive no relief from their conviction at all” under the MORE Act, and some would “continue to serve life sentences for conduct which would no longer be considered illegal.”

He pointed to three specific parts of the legalization legislation that could keep people incarcerated over marijuana based on the language.

First, it would give “discretion to the sentencing court as to whether the marijuana conviction or related conduct would be expunged.” The bill states that people would be eligible for expungement only if their case was non-violent, and courts have frequently disagreement about what constitutes a violent offense.

Second, it does not “provide relief for additional counts of conviction inextricably relying on the criminality of the marijuana offense.” For example, if a person who was convicted on a cannabis charge was in possession of a firearm that would’ve otherwise been lawful if marijuana wasn’t illegal, that could complicate resentencing processing.

Finally, those “whose offense involved five or more people, which is most marijuana offenses, would be specifically excepted from relief under the MORE Act,” Cesal said.

A spokesperson for the Judiciary Committee did not respond to Marijuana Moment’s requests for a reaction to Cesal’s concerns about the chairman’s bill.

Legal cannabis sales rose $17.5 billion during pandemic

Legal cannabis sales rose $17.5 billion during pandemic

cannabis sales rose over 17 billion dollars in 2020

Shortly after Nevada officials announced that licensed cannabis stores and medical dispensaries could reopen after lockdown, Nicolas MacLean said cars were lined up for five blocks waiting for curbside pickup.

Like many industries in Las Vegas, the cannabis industry used to rely on tourists for sales, but that changed when the pandemic hit, MacLean, who serves as the CEO of Las Vegas-based cannabis producer Aether Gardens, told The New York Times.

“Locals are very discerning – they want something they aren’t going to find on the black market,” MacLean said. “Especially when you are stuck at home.”

The year of 2020 saw extraordinarily strong sales of legal cannabis in the US, up 46% from 2019 to a record $17.5 billion (R245 billion), according to cannabinoid market research firm BDSA.

“I expect this will be the first year Nevada does over a billion in cannabis sales,” MacLean said. “And it happened on the back of what I think no one expected.”

In western Massachusetts, where recreational cannabis use is legal, Meg Sanders, CEO of Canna Provisions, said government restrictions and later social-distancing requirements forced her to radically change her sales strategy.

At first, only medical dispensaries were allowed to remain open, while recreational-use retailers were forced to close.

“To have liquor stores deemed essential and not adult-use cannabis – especially when the law passed in Massachusetts was about regulating cannabis like alcohol – was surprising and unfortunate,” Sanders told The Times.

As Canna Provisions was allowed to re-open, the shop’s particular boutique-style in-person shopping experience had to change in favour of over-the-phone preorders.

“Our county is an internet desert,” she explained.

Now when customers call, they speak with a salesperson who can answer their questions and walk them through the available topicals, edibles, and smokables – a method, she said, is “working” for business.

“In our Lee store, preorders have become almost 100 percent of our business, so we bought more handsets and hired more people to answer the phones, and our revenue is up,” she said.

Skittles Manufacturer Sues Cannabis Brands for Trademark Infringement

Skittles Manufacturer Sues Cannabis Brands for Trademark Infringement

Skittles is suing Zkittles cannabis brands

Skittles-maker Mars Wrigley has filed lawsuits against cannabis companies in Illinois, California, and Canada for trademark infringement.

New Jersey-based candy maker, Mars Wrigley, is suing cannabis companies in Illinois, California, and Canada to stop them from using its brand names and marketing for infused edibles, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, accuses the companies of infringing on the Starburst and Skittles candy brands, Ganjapreneur reports.

Mars Wrigley strongly condemns the use of popular candy brands in the marketing and sale of THC products, which is grossly deceptive and irresponsible. The use of Mars Wrigley’s brands in this manner is unauthorized, inappropriate and must cease, especially to protect children from mistakenly ingesting these unlawful THC products. – Mars Wrigley in a statement via the Sun-Times

The lawsuit names Terphogz and five companies that sell a cannabis strain and related products called Zkittlez, the report says. The unnamed defendants are “unknown” to  Mars Wrigley but they are accused of purchasing the goods in question to resell to Illinois customers.

The California lawsuit targets products called “Medicated Skittles,” “Life Savers Medicated Gummies,” and “Starburst Gummies” – marketed by GasBuds – which appear to mimic the packaging of the popular, non-cannabis, confections.

The legal actions are the latest against cannabis companies for trademark infringement of popular consumer products.

Atlanta, Georgia-based Edible Arrangements in September sued Chicago’s Green Thumb Industries for using their brand name in their Incredible product, according to the Sun-Times. Two months later, Ferrera Candy Co. sued California-based Tops Cannabis over its “Medicated Nerds Rope.”

Other lawsuits have brought over the “Woodstock” brand; the logo of a Massachusetts lumber company; the Citibank name, parodied as “Citidank;” the Tapatio hot sauce name and logo; the Gorilla Glue brand; and the logo of the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs, among others.

Mars Wrigley is seeking $2 million for each counterfeit trademark named in the California lawsuit, along with attorneys’ fees and costs in both cases.