Tag: California

California’s Calaveras County On Verge of Banning Cannabis Farms

In California’s historic Gold Rush country, financially-suffering Calaveras County made a sizable wager on the Green Rush in the spring of 2016. It paid off handsomely. By welcoming and licensing medical cannabis growers, the county collected millions in dollars in taxes and fees from the locally regulated industry.

Calaveras County pocketed $3.7 million in cannabis permit fees in 2016, and $5m in cultivation taxes.

But now Calaveras, population 45,000, is having second thoughts. In a fiery Board of Supervisors meeting that stretched over two days Tuesday and Wednesday, angry citizens and conservative supervisors argued for a ban on commercial cultivation–while farmers and their supporters pushed back, wondering why the county’s warm welcome has suddenly turned cold.

Fiery cannabis opponents and outraged cannabis farmers packed the chambers and two spillover rooms, debating a proposed moved that could end one of the county’s few strong sources of revenue. Calaveras County pocketed $3.7 million in cannabis permit fees in 2016, and another $5 million in cultivation taxes in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

After two days of public vitriol, eccentric outbursts and, ultimately, confusion and paralysis, on Wednesday the Board abruptly postponed a decision in the great Calaveras County cannabis clash.

Licensed cannabis farmers Joan and Bill Wilson sport buttons supporting supervisor Jack Garamendi, the target of a recall for his support of a taxed, regulated cannabis industry.

The showdown, perhaps California’s most volatile example of local government anxiety over whether to accept and regulate cannabis businesses or to drive them off, will continue when the board meets less than a week from now, on Oct. 24.

If anyone needs to understand the passions simmering in Calaveras, the appearance Tuesday of Holly Johnson – the singing cannabis farmer – was all it took.

Seven hours into the first-day debate, Johnson strode to the podium with her guitar. She unleashed a protest chorus at supervisors wanting to ban her farm:

“So let me grow my ganja where it’s sunny

And I’ll keep on paying taxes and making money

I’m not going to go tearing down my garden, honey

‘Ain’t going to be treated that way”

Some supervisors decided they wouldn’t be treated that way, either. Seconds into Johnson’s three-minute concert, two anti-cannabis supervisors, Dennis Mills and Clyde Clapp, stormed out of the board room.

Seconds into one citizen’s pro-farmer song, two anti-cannabis supervisors, Dennis Mills and Clyde Clapp, stormed out of the board room.

Jack Garamendi, a supervisor who has been targeted by a recall drive over his support for maintaining Calaveras’ licensing and regulation of cannabis growers, lit into his colleagues when they returned.

“We don’t have a prohibition on singing,” Garamendi said. “We’re better than that. We need to let people express themselves and petition their government.”

Clapp rose to face one side of the audience – the people sporting “BAN” buttons – and shouted: “Sign the recall!”

A cannabis ban supporter brought her Old Glory hoodie to warm a chair.

Standing With Jack

The other side of the chamber wore buttons that said, “I stand with JACK.” They pleaded with supervisors to not cut off a lucrative revenue stream in cannabis taxes, particularly in a county that has lost nearly all other industries. The region’s gold mines, lumber mills, and cement factory all shuttered years ago.

Calaveras was also severely impacted by a scorching 2015 wildfire that destroyed 860 houses. Many of the charred lots soon bloomed with cannabis gardens as a means of economic recovery.

Back then, the county Board of Supervisors were more amenable to cannabis farmers. They approved rules permitting property owners up to a half-acre of commercial marijuana cultivation and up to 10,000 square feet of indoor growing in limited industrial zones.

More than 700 people applied for permits and paid $5,000 each in county fees, which funded new police and code enforcement officers. In 2016, 68 percent of county voters approved Measure C, which sweetened county coffers with a $2 per square foot tax on outdoor grown cannabis and $5 per square foot on indoor.

‘This will end in poverty and despair.’

Joan Wilson, a farmer who grows 3,000 square feet of cannabis on a county-licensed 20-acre parcel, came out to warn supervisors about the economic suicide of a “bait and switch” vote to bar commercial cannabis cultivation.

“The result of banning commerce that has already been allowed to operate would be devastating…ending in poverty and despair,” she said.

Don’t be swayed by ‘stoner karaoke,’ Bill McManus said. Ban the farms now.

Bill McManus, head of the Calaveras Committee to Ban Commercial Cultivation, said neither tax revenue stream nor any boardroom “stoner karaoke” should deter supervisors from getting rid of cannabis farms.

McManus said the county’s cannabis experiment drew permitted guerrilla growers, criminal elements, environmental destruction and a shredding of the social fabric. “What the county has now is pure 100 percent chaos,” McManus said.

McManus’ social fabric claim carried more than a bit of hyperbole. But documents from county planning staff and the sheriff’s office showed that the county experienced a big influx of out-of-town cannabis growers after the 2015 fire and, again, when the county began accepting permits. So clearly a lot of newcomers have moved into the rural county, including many who arrived after the June 2016 application deadline had passed.

Sheriff: Legal Growers Reduce Illegal Grows

Calavaras County Sheriff Rick DiBasilio warned that illegal cannabis cultivation would continue to thrive no matter how the supervisors voted. Without cannabis taxes, he said, his department would lack the manpower to go after criminal growers.

“If this goes back to a black market completely, I think we’re going to see more grows in the hills,” DiBasilio said. “I’m not advocating one way or another. I’m just stating facts: The illegal growers are not going away.”

‘I’m not advocating one way or another. I’m just stating facts: The illegal growers are not going away.’

Rick DiBasilio, Calveras County Sheriff

Since Jan. 1, the sheriff said his department – including a nine-member cannabis compliance team funded by money from fees on county permitted growers – has eradicated 52,000 cannabis plants from growers operating without county permits.

During that time, officers also seized $118,000 in cash, 225 pounds of processed cannabis, and 24 guns while making 50 arrests. In contrast, DiBasillo said he has had few problems with the county’s licensed cannabis farmers.

He said many of those licensed growers act as “eyes and ears” for sheriff’s investigators seeking to crack down on illegal cultivation and related environmental crimes, including siphoning water from sensitive streams and illegal dumping of toxins and pesticides.

The county, with three code enforcement officers funded by cannabis fees, filed abatement notices against 159 unpermitted gardens and issued 224 citations, seeking fines of $551,000.

Even under the best of financial circumstances, with the county using money from permitted cultivation to fund police and abatement programs, DiBasilio said it would take “three or four years” to drive illegal cultivation from the county’s secluded wooded landscape.

“Holy cow, we have had legal alcohol for years,” the sheriff said, “and there are still bootleggers.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

‘SLEEP’ Might Just Be the Scariest Cannabis Experience in the World

Haunted houses, creepy corn mazes where things pop out when you least expect them … the season for getting scared in the dark is upon us. Are these intentional horror experiences better or worse with cannabis? One extreme Los Angeles-based haunt thinks they’re better, and is trying high horror out for the first time this Halloween.

Cannabis produces this dissociative state that makes free association more likely to happen. You’re actively producing your own narrative out of your paranoia.

Ash Newton, performer in SLEEP

Heretic House/The Parallel, purveyors of boutique, exclusive, full-contact horror experiences, have decided to play up paranoia and dread with their first 420-friendly haunt, SLEEP. The projects are all visions of husband-and-wife team Adrian Marcato and Jessica Murder (not their real names), and to call their performances ‘haunted houses’ is something of an understatement as well as a misnomer—what Heretic House does is different.

Year-round, they creep up with elusive horror simulations, open to only a handful of guests per show. Guests must apply to attend, submit full medical evaluations in advance, and sign waivers if selected. Many of these shows take place in LA, where Marcato and Murder live, but they frequently stage shows across the US and in Europe. Some of them are particularly aggressive, with guests being dragged around in the dark by masked actors who zip them into body bags, dump prodigious amounts of fake blood over their heads, or snip away at their clothes with scissors. Yet it isn’t all senseless terror; in each production, a story is told.

RELATED STORY

Why Does Cannabis Cause Paranoia in Some But Helps Anxiety in Others?

The first show I ever attended was called HEX, and it explored the uncomfortable nature of sleep paralysis. I was checked in to what was I was told would be a sleep study, before being tucked into bed on a damp mattress with my wrists duct taped together. I soon encountered demons who thrashed me about, whispered threats in my ears, and wheeled my around on a gurney while shrieking, “Don’t you want to wake up?” A second one, ISO & DREAD, poked at claustrophobia, forcing me into increasingly smaller spaces. Shows I haven’t attended include a series of events taking place in a remote cabin in the woods, just like all your favorite horror movies.

SLEEP is one of the first cannabis-friendly haunts in existence. Per the website, it is “an extreme horror experience that will challenge you psychologically.” Though not as physically aggressive as other shows such as HEX, SLEEP will place its victims inside an immersive, waking nightmare. Guests will be bound, held down, or guided throughout the hour-long experience, while simultaneously forced to watch a series of disturbing vignettes that swirl around them. In between these vignettes, guests will be moved to other rooms, where they have the option to consume cannabis in multiple forms, which may include flowers, edibles, and wax. (Guests may decline at any point if they so choose, and can stop the simulation at any time by calling a safe word, which will be written on their arms in case they forget.)

RELATED STORY

Cannabis and Dreams: Halting Long-Term Use Can Lead to One Strange Side Effect

“We’re using monsters and other creepy elements, but it’s more based on paranoia because sometimes when people smoke, that’s what gets enhanced,” Marcato said. “So we play up the paranoia a lot with heavy visuals. You can tie someone that’s high to a chair, and make them see this creepy thing in front of them that escapes behind them, and then they have to wonder when it will attack them. There’s a lot of psychological dread that we try to plant inside the guests—moments where you’re alone in the dark, where you’re seeing things, or where you’re held down.”

Murder is the one who came up with the idea for SLEEP. Originally, she had wanted to start or invest in a dispensary, and while that has yet to manifest, she later had the idea of combining the horror theater she and Marcato were already producing with cannabis. The couple visited a cannabis festival in Northern California and found the community welcoming to their ideas.

RELATED STORY

Infographic: Here’s How Many Stoners Have Died in Horror Movies

Though they plan to expand in 2018 after California’s recreational cannabis laws have gone into effect, the 2017 show will only take place on October 30 and 31, and not everyone who applies will be admitted. All guests must be 21 or older, must possess a medical marijuana card, and must undergo a screening process, during which they discuss their medical and psychological history as well as the frequency with which they use cannabis. They must also come with a friend, who will safely drive them home after it’s over. A nurse is present throughout the entire show, the guest will be monitored at all times, and none of the actors will be high or ever come into contact with the cannabis.

Marcato said safety is important to them, and he’s not interested in replicating this experience with alcohol, saying that he’s worked security at horror theme parks that allowed drinking, and found himself having to break up fights among drunk guests. High guests are, as one might expect, a lot more chill.

RELATED STORY

8 Ways to Counteract a Too-Intense Cannabis High

So far, SLEEP’s beta tests are working well, with participants citing an enhanced (terrifying) experience after consuming cannabis. Ash Newton, a performer in the show and a creative partner at Drencrom, an upcoming collaborative series of performances, said he thinks it’s possible the scariest moments of the show will be when the participant is alone.

“[Cannabis] produces this dissociative state that makes free association more likely to happen. You’re actively producing your own narrative out of your paranoia,” Newton said.

This ties into what one of my friends said: her mind wanders, and she creates backstories for the monsters in the haunts. What stories would a guest come up with, if left “alone” in a dark room?

Marcato predicts we’ll see more cannabis-friendly haunts and psychedelic Halloween attractions in the future. After all, people are already going to haunts and horror movies high, even though these venues may not explicitly allow it. “People are probably going to see ‘It’ high tonight,” he said.

RELATED STORY

The ‘It’ Movie: Is It Worth the High?


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Undercover Agents Arrest San Diego Cannabis Delivery Drivers

San Diego area cannabis-delivery services went on lockdown this week following a law enforcement sting on local delivery operations that put at least six drivers behind bars.

The sting took place during the night of Thursday, Oct. 12, in Santee, a 16-square-mile city in San Diego County. Authorities seized 12.76 pounds of cannabis and arrested six drivers, each from a different delivery operation, according to a statement from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

RELATED STORY

San Diego Sets Sights on Illegal Delivery Services

To nab the delivery drivers, deputies posed as patients and, through an unidentified website, placed orders for marijuana to be delivered to the Carlton Oaks Country Club. When the unsuspecting drivers showed up with the products, they were arrested and charged with misdemeanors for violating Santee’s municipal code.

“We were very surprised that the county chose to go after delivery this hard first.”

Elizabeth Wilhelm, San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance

Commercial cannabis activity of any kind is currently illegal in San Diego County—a fact not disputed by the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance, an association that advocates for standalone delivery services. But the manner in which sheriffs’ conducted the operation, the group’s president told Leafly, has already caused issues for businesses and patients seeking safe access to medicine.

“We’re recommending to everyone in San Diego right now … to not accept new patients while these sting operations are going on,” Elizabeth Wilhelm said. As for customers, she added, “they’re not going to have as much access. It’s going to be greatly, greatly diminished.”

Wilhelm claims that undercover officers in the sting entrapped the delivery drivers, garnering their trust by providing all the documentation needed for a legal medical marijuana delivery, such as including a valid California ID and a doctor’s recommendation for cannabis. The amounts ordered by the decoy customers were paltry, she said, and all the orders were consistent with reasonable, personal use.

RELATED STORY

Cities Swap SWAT-Style Dispensary Raids for Softer Approach

In a statement, she noted that delivery services fill a niche in neighborhoods that decide not to allow storefront medical cannabis sales.

“We understand that not every community needs or wants dispensaries, or other cannabis activities, but every community has medical marijuana patients who deserve safe and private access at their homes or businesses,” the statement said.

Wilhelm also said she was surprised to see officials targeting delivery operations rather than storefront dispensaries themselves. San Diego County has “really let illegal dispensaries proliferate,” she said. While the delivery drivers were arrested with relatively small amounts of cannabis, nearby dispensaries—also prohibited by law—often operate unimpeded, selling to hundreds of patients per day.

RELATED STORY

California Is Still Arresting Too Many People of Color for Cannabis

“We were very surprised that the county chose to go after delivery this hard first,” Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm contested the sheriff’s department’s characterization of the sting, alleging that seven, not six, drivers were arrested and that one person reported having their car impounded. Sheriff’s Department officials, however, said that no vehicles were impounded and, contrary to some media reports, no phones were confiscated.

Prior to the sting, the Santee Station in San Diego County had received complaints related to the sale marijuana products, according to a statement from the sheriff’s department. Over the six months preceding the undercover operation, the department said, the area had seen a “noticeable increase in violent crime associated with the sales of marijuana,” including carjackings, shootings, and robberies.

RELATED STORY

Does Closing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Increase Crime? Study Says Yes

“If we don’t have illegal deliveries and sales sites in Santee and Lakeside then they can’t be robbed,” Capt. Hank Turner told Leafly via email. “Robbery is up substantially in San Diego County this year. This is one strategy out of half a dozen we are using.”

Wilhelm, of the delivery alliance, called that explanation “the craziest thing” she had ever heard. “I’ve never received a phone call from a delivery operator saying they had been carjacked,” she said, “nor have I received a call from anyone about being involved in a robbery.”

“Santee is known for its known opioid and methamphetamine epidemic. It’s been known for that for over 30 years,” Wilhelm said. Instead of targeting medical marijuana patients who are desperate for safe access to cannabis, the San Diego sheriffs should be funneling their resources towards fighting pharmaceutical and heroin use in East San Diego County cities like Santee.

RELATED STORY

How Cannabis Could Turn the Opioid Epidemic Around

While law enforcement often claims a connection between cannabis operation and violent crime, the relationship is a complicated one. Skeptics note that cannabis businesses generally don’t have access to banking services and thus handle considerable amounts of cash—which in itself can be alluring to criminals. And a recent study out of USC and UC Irvine business schools found that closing dispensaries correlated with an increase in crime.

This sting was the first time law enforcement conducted an operation of this kind in Santee and was intended to curb illegal marijuana deliveries in the area, Turner said. And though such stings may be unfamiliar in Santee, they’ve been used by law enforcement to target illegal marijuana operations elsewhere. Last year in Seattle, for example, police orchestrated a string of stings in which they ordered cannabis delivered to a motel room. At the time, critics noted that the punishments affected primarily low-level drivers, not the illegal delivery services themselves.

RELATED STORY

Special Report: Can L.A.’s Outlaw Delivery Services Survive Long Enough to Become Legal?

A few years earlier, in California’s Santa Clara County, nearly two dozen people were arrested on felony charges for illegally delivering marijuana, and a narcotics task force seized more than 25 pounds of cannabis products.

Turner would not comment on which delivery companies were targeted or what services were used to place the orders. Wilhelm, for her part, believes that information is being withheld in part because the department plans to continue the stings going forward.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Wine Country Fires Hit Northern California Pot Industry Hard

The wildfires raging through Northern California’s Wine Country these past weeks have killed at least 41 people, left dozens missing, and thousands burned out of their homes. They have also put a significant hurt on the region’s namesake wine industry, and its up-and-coming country cousin, the weed business.

As of this week, more than 5,000 structures had gone up in flames, including whole neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 about an hour north of San Francisco. Tens of thousands of people endured mandatory evacuations as smoke turned skies grey as far south as San Jose.

Vineyards and wineries along the Silverado Trail in Napa County and the Highway 12 corridor between Santa Rosa and Sonoma in Sonoma County have been destroyed or damaged. Wine Country towns like Kenwood and Glen Ellen have been hard hit.

Major tourist hotels like the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country and the Fountaingrove Inn in Santa Rosa have burned. At least one Silverado Trail winery, Signorello Estates, appears to have been destroyed, while damage reports are pending on others. Similarly, Sonoma County wineries including Chateau St. Jean, Kenwood, Kunde and B.R. Cohn, were endangered Tuesday.

It looks like a bombing run,” winemaker Joe Nielsen told the San Francisco Chronicle as he viewed what was left of Donelan Family Wines. “Just chimneys and burnt out cars and cooked trees.&rdquo

The Wine Country devastation will have an impact not only on tourism, but also on the price of some fine reds. While  75% of the region’s grapes have already been picked, premium merlot and cabernet sauvignon crops are mostly still on the vines. The number of wineries burned or threatened could cause shortages of these prized grapes for years, since California produces about 85% of American wine, and Napa and Sonoma counties produce the bulk of its premium wines.

The same temperature Mediterranean climate that makes the area so suitable for grape growing makes it ideal for pot farming, too, and Sonoma County’s estimated 3,000 to 9,000 marijuana growers have been hard-hit, as well. While damage reports for the wine industry will take a while, pot people are already reporting losses in the tens of millions of dollars.

The marijuana harvest begins a bit later than the grape harvest, and when the fires reared up, thousands and thousands of outdoor marijuana plants were still in the ground. Now, some of those fields are little more than ash, including in neighboring Mendocino County, where the Redwood Valley fire  is burning up pot crops, too.

This is shaping up to be “the worst year on record for California’s growers,” California Growers’ Association head Hezekiah Allen told SFGate last week, adding that at least two dozen members had lost their entire farms.

“This is going to leave a deep scar,” he said. “I had one conversation today where the family was in tears, saying, ‘We don’t know how we’re going to make it to January, let alone next planting season.”

Sonoma County Growers Alliance chair Tawnie Logan reported significant losses among her membership

“We have a lot of people who have lost their farms in the last 36 hours, and their homes,” she said last week, citing a $2 million greenhouse crop that went up in smoke on the first night of the fires. “There’s no way for them to recover the millions in anticipated revenue they just lost,” she said. “It’s gone. It’s ashes.”

The San Francisco dispensary SPARC reported that while it had suffered “some pretty substantial damage” at its farm in Glen Ellen, it was preparing Tuesday to try to salvage some of its crop. The Sonoma County Cannabis Company also was also hit hard—and working frantically to avoid a total wipe-out.

“There are no words right now to describe the loss, the heart break and the trauma that our beloved home and community is going through,” the company posted to its Instagram account. “We are trying to save what we can.”

While the losses could put a dent in the county’s multi-hundred million dollar pot industry, consumers are unlikely to notice any impact. The state already grows so much marijuana that downward pressures are already keeping prices low, and even the losses incurred in this week’s fires aren’t going to shake the market.

But unlike the wine industry, marijuana growers are unlikely to be able to obtain insurance to replace lost crops and facilities. Those pot farmers who took losses are going to be feeling the pain for a good while.


This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.

Tags: , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Crowdfunding Site Cancels Aid to California Wildfire Victims—Because Cannabis

With the most devastating wildfire in California history laying waste to its members’ homes and livelihoods, the California Growers Association responded in the way most crises are handled in 2017: crowdfunding.

As of Tuesday morning, 41 people have perished in the fires, which have burned more than 101,000 acres and destroyed 6,700 homes and businesses at an estimated cost of more than $3 billion. Multiple fires are still burning in Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma counties—the very heart of California’s wine and cannabis region—and 88 people are still missing in Sonoma County alone, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported.

Allen began receiving messages from would-be donors. They’d had their donations canceled and their monies returned.

The California Growers Association, the main lobby representing cannabis growers in Sacramento, estimates that as many as 300 marijuana farms have been affected in some way by the deadly fires still burning near Santa Rosa, about 60 miles north of San Francisco. Some have seen entire crops tainted with toxic smoke and ash, while others have lost both their harvests and their homes to the flames.

The fires came at the worst imaginable time: at the height of the fall harvest, in a year when many growers had exhausted their savings or taken on investment to obtain costly county permits ahead of statewide legalization. And unlike other farmers in the region, cannabis growers generally don’t qualify for crop insurance.

RELATED STORY

Devastating Photos Show Wildfire’s Toll on a California Cannabis Farm

Within days, Hezekiah Allen, CGA’s founder and executive director, had set up a campaign on the San Francisco-based crowdfunding website YouCaring to collect donations to help the farmers recover. By Monday, about 50 people had pitched in more than $10,000 to the “CalGrowers Wildlife Relief Fund,” 100 percent of which—after processing fees, at least—would be sent directly to “cannabis growers who lost farms in wildfires.”

But just as the campaign eclipsed the five-figure mark, Allen began receiving messages from would-be donors. They’d had their donations canceled and their monies returned. A message from YouCaring “via WePay,” the company that processes the crowdfunding platform’s payments, popped up in Allen’s inbox. “We apologize,” it read, but the campaign had violated WePay’s terms of service. Pending payments were canceled and all donations returned.

The reason? Marijuana.

“We forgot that we can’t use all the tools at society’s disposal, because we’re sort of second-class.”

Hezekiah Allen, CGA founder & executive director

“Current U.S. federal law prohibits the purchase and sale of cannabis and cannabis extracts,” said the email sent to Allen, which he shared with Leafly News. “Subsequently, WePay is unable to process payments connected to the production, sale, or consumption of cannabis, even in situations where such activities would be permitted under state law.”

Allen’s efforts to patiently explain that the fundraiser had nothing to do with buying or selling drugs went unheeded. “My reply was, ‘Hey, we are not doing any of these things,’” he said Monday, adding that he’d been unable to reach anyone at the company via phone to talk directly.

He’s since set up another crowdfunding campaign through the service Nationbuilder—and has begun explaining to the cannabis community why they’ll need to submit their donations all over again on a different site.

RELATED STORY

Keep Tabs on California Wildfires with SF Chron’s Live Map

A spokesperson for YouCaring confirmed that the decision to reject payments and end the campaign was WePay’s. WePay did not respond to multiple requests for comment sent via a direct Twitter message, a public tweet, and an email sent through the company’s website.

Founded in 2008 following the frustration of collecting cash to cover a bachelor party and currently led by a millennial CEO, WePay says it processes billions of dollars annually for crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and online business platforms including Constant Contact.

It’s not the first time the site has shut down a charitable fundraising effort over questionable “violations.” In 2014, WePay canceled a sex worker’s campaign to raise money to pay for emergency medical bills on the grounds that the sex worker’s campaign had a “connection to pornographic items.”

RELATED STORY

How to Help Those Affected by California Wildfires

Rejection by third-party payment processors is a familiar story in the marijuana industry. Many recreational and medical-marijuana dispensaries cannot accept credit card payments because of restrictions applied by merchant services companies, who, fearful of the federal Justice Department, opt not to handle money for marijuana transactions.

But to abruptly end a crowdfunding effort in the midst of a dire emergency? Somehow that feels different.

Reached for comment on Monday evening, Allen sounded more exhausted than angry.

“We’re gonna be fine—we’ve got a solution,” he said, describing the replacement plan to collect cash via a nonprofit 501(c)3 fund, donations to which would be processed via Paypal, which has no such prohibitions. “We forgot that we can’t use all the tools at society’s disposal, because we’re sort of second-class.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

In California, Feinstein Challenger De León Seen as a Cannabis Progressive

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the iron lady of California politics and perhaps the Golden State’s fiercest drug warrior, is facing a re-election challenge from a leading state lawmaker who has a 100 percent rating from cannabis advocates for his votes on marijuana reform issues.

‘Cannabis is not his issue, but he has voted the right way.’

Dale Gieringer, California Director of NORML

Yet California Senate leader Kevin de León, a Democrat from Los Angeles who is challenging Feinstein from the left, isn’t seen as a leader on cannabis policy. If anything, some advocates say, his strength is simply that he doesn’t get in the way of state legislation promoting a regulated marijuana industry.

“Cannabis is not his issue, but he has voted the right way,” said Dale Gieringer, California director for the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML). “His record is certainly better than Dianne Feinstein’s.”

Feinstein, a fellow Democrat, former San Francisco mayor and California’s senator since 1992, has opposed nearly all forms of drug reform, from medical marijuana in the 1990s to California’s voter-approved adult use measure, Proposition 64, in 2016. She has also cast votes in recent years against Rohrabacher-Farr, the recurring budget amendment that prevents federal authorities from prosecuting state-permitted medical marijuana businesses and patients.

RELATED STORY

The Dianne Feinstein Mystery: Why Is She California’s Last Prohibitionist?

So cannabis advocates appeared pleased—if not necessarily wildly excited—that de León stepped up to challenge the 84-year-old Feinstein from the left in California’s open primary in 2018. Feinstein recently announced she would seek a 6th Senate term.

“I’ve heard him speak a couple of times. He is really dynamic and impressive,” Gieringer said of de León.

Don Duncan, a cannabis business consultant and former California director for Americans for Safe Access, applauded the state senate leader’s campaign announcement. Duncan was skeptical of de Leon’s chances, though.

“I definitely will vote for him, but I think he will lose,” Duncan said. “I think Dianne Feinstein is out of touch with the values of California. She has never been a big supporter of cannabis as medicine. There is just a huge disconnect and it’s time for new guard.”

RELATED STORY

California Is Still Arresting Too Many People of Color for Cannabis

De León’s Voting Record

During last year’s campaign for Proposition 64, de León stayed on the sidelines. Unlike Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who openly embraced the initiative, de León kept company with most establishment Democrats who kept a low profile on legalization.

“I’m not there yet” on adult-use legalization, de León said at a press briefing late in last year’s campaign season. “I don’t know if I’m behind the times in comparison to other folks, but I still have my concerns. I have yet to make a final determination where I will stand as an individual citizen on this issue.”

He expressed worries over high THC content in many marijuana strains currently sold in California dispensaries, as well as the existence of gummy bears and edibles that he warned could appeal to children.

But in the Legislature, de León earned a perfect scorecard from the Drug Policy Forum of California for votes on cannabis issues in the 2015-16 legislative session.

RELATED STORY

Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Northern California, Fall 2017

Cannabis Supporter, If Not a Leader

He voted in favor of a bill to create a “specialty cottage” license for small craft cannabis producers. He backed legislation to end discrimination against medical marijuana patients waiting for organ transplants. He supported three bills in omnibus legislation to regulate—and effectively legitimize—state-licensed medical marijuana businesses.

He also voted in favor of bills that regulated commercial cannabis transportation, reformed asset forfeiture laws, and ended penalties for paying state taxes in cash—the latter a must for many marijuana businesses deprived of banking services.

Despite de León’s votes, marijuana reform “has never been on the front burner of what he has done in the legislature,” said Sacramento political consultant Steve Maviglio, who has represented clients seeking to enter California’s regulated cannabis industry.

Maviglio said he wouldn’t be surprised if de León does make an issue of Feinstein’s opposition to cannabis liberalization “to put another arrow in his quiver to show that she is out of touch with the people.”

Maviglio says he doubts that Feinstein is vulnerable solely because of her cannabis position—despite California voters’ 57-43 percent approval of Proposition 64.

Her stubborn attitude, though, does add to the perception of a Senator increasingly out of alignment with the voters she represents.

RELATED STORY

Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Southern California, Fall 2017

Feinstein’s Trump Remarks Open the Door

For his part, de León’s first political arrow was aimed at Feinstein over her conciliatory remarks about President Donald Trump at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club on Aug. 29. Feinstein said of Trump: “I just hope he has the ability to learn and change. And if he does, he can be a good president.” The crowd booed.

De León pounced. He blasted Feinstein, a famous Democratic centrist, for remarks that appeared “complicit,” he said, in Trump’s “reckless behavior.”

In his recent campaign announcement, de León declared: “We now stand at the front lines of a historic struggle for the very soul of America, against a president without one.”

He also released a video that credits his upbringing by his mother, a single parent and Mexican immigrant who toiled for years as a maid. De León vowed to fight for universal health care, increased educational opportunities, environmental protection and respect for diversity and civil rights.

RELATED STORY

Keep Tabs on California Wildfires with SF Chron’s Live Map

Others Ready to Jump In

De León may be the first of many challengers to Feinstein from within her own party. Also reportedly pondering a run against Feinstein is billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, and political pundits say other challengers could emerge as well.

Yet Maviglio, a Feinstein supporter, says the senator will be extremely difficult to beat – particularly in California’s open primarily, in which a Democratic challenger would have to finish ahead of the leading Republican to earn a runoff in November.

Despite de León’s standing as president pro tem of the California Senate, Maviglio says he has little name recognition outside his Los Angeles legislative district.

“Nobody knows who he is,” Maviglio said. “He had 30,000 people vote for him [in his district] in the last election and he is facing someone who has been in statewide office for a generation. That’s a huge challenge, an awesome challenge.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Keep Tabs on California Wildfires with SF Chron’s Live Map

A week after deadly wildfires began to spread through Northern California’s dry hills, North Bay officials said this week that the effort to contain the flames finally has gained some traction.

“Conditions have drastically changed from just 24 hours ago, and that is definitely a very good sign,” Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire protection, told ABC News on Sunday. “It’s probably a sign we’ve turned a corner on the fires.”

“A week ago this started as a nightmare,” added Napa County Supervisor Belia Ramos, “and the day we dreamed of has arrived.”

One of the best tools we’ve come across to keep tabs on the ongoing fires is the San Francisco Chronicle’s interactive map, which shows how the blazes have spread over the past week, destroying property and hurting nearby air quality.

(Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle)

Since they first began, the so-called Wine Country fires have become some of the most devastating in California history. They’ve killed at least 41 people, spurred the evacuation of more than 40,000 others, and destroyed upward of 5,700 structures. In Santa Rosa, a city in Sonoma County, even the local fire station went up in smoke.

RELATED STORY

Devastating Photos Show Wildfire’s Toll on a California Cannabis Farm

The region’s cannabis cultivators have been among those hit hardest. Unlike other farmers in the area, cannabis growers generally don’t have access to crop insurance. Some lost entire crops just as the plants became ready to harvest. Industry leaders have estimated that damages could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Drone footage posted by Facebook user Phillip Ung shows some of the damage to the region.

We’ve also put together a list of ways to help those impacted by the fire.

RELATED STORY

How to Help Those Affected by California Wildfires


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

How to Help Those Affected by California Wildfires

The fires ripping through California’s North Bay region have become some of the most destructive in state history. Authorities say the blazes have now killed at least 27 people, destroyed 3,500 structures, and displaced thousands of residents and their pets.

Firefighters are currently battling at least 22 ongoing fires across more than 265 square miles, according to Cal Fire, and gusty weather expected for Thursday means the situation could grow even worse.

Among those hit hardest by the fires are hundreds of cannabis growers, many of whom have lost entire crops and, in some cases, their homes. Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, estimates that damages to crops and property could total hundreds of millions of dollars, calling it the “worst year on record” for crop loss. And unlike most other California farmers, cannabis growers generally don’t have access to crop insurance.

Wildfire burned through part of a Sonoma County medical cannabis grow managed by the San Francisco dispensary SPARC. (Photo courtesy of Erich Pearson, SPARC)

While the numbers are overwhelming, there are plenty of ways to make a positive difference. At the bottom of this article is a list of ways to help, either through volunteering or donations. Some aid efforts target the cannabis community specifically, but most are aimed at helping rebuild the region as a whole.

RELATED STORY

California Wildfires Threaten Thousands of Cannabis Farms

Cannabis-Specific Relief

CalGrowers Wildfire Relief Fund

The CalGrowers Wildfire Relief Fund, launched by California Growers Association Executive Director Hezekiah Allen, pledges that “100% of donations will be used for fire disaster relief and recovery.”

Other Crowdfunding

A number of GoFundMe campaigns have been launched by North Bay residents and friends to help buoy the region’s cannabis growers, including Farmers Helping Farmers and Cannafam/NorCal Fire Victims.

Please post other recovery efforts in the comments section at the bottom of this article!

RELATED STORY

Devastating Photos Show Wildfire’s Toll on a California Cannabis Farm

General Relief

Monetary Donations

For those wanting to give to more traditional aid organizations, both the United Way and the Red Cross are accepting donations. (You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a one-time $10 donation.)

RELATED STORY

How the Emerald Triangle Became America’s Cannabis Epicenter

Volunteering

For those who’d prefer to give their time, the Red Cross has a volunteer sign-in sheet posted here. In Sonoma County, would-be volunteers can call 707-573-3399.

The Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit leadership has reportedly also been called in to help with aid efforts. The group’s website will let you donate or register to volunteer.

Dropping off Donations

Many shelters reportedly already have sufficient supplies, so monetary donations may be best. But for those interested in dropping off items (or for affected individuals in need), a number of local websites have posted a list of relevant sites. Consult relief pages at the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, or NBC Bay Area for more information.

RELATED STORY

In Photos: California Wildfire Endangers Cannabis Crops

Evacuation Centers

The map below has at least a partial list of evacuation centers that have been set up to accommodate people displaced by the fire. The San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, and NBC Bay Area each have more extensive lists that include a number of animal shelters across the North Bay.

Some hotels are offering special rates to help fire evacuees. A list of participating hotels is available through the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau.

More Information

If you’re on the lookout for current conditions, the Press Democrat has a live map of fires (and road closures) in Sonoma and Napa counties. Another map, at the bottom of KQED’s fire coverage, shows National Weather Service fire weather warnings in addition to the fires themselves.

RELATED STORY

California Asks Major Insurance Carriers to Cover Cannabis Industry

Can’t Help? Don’t Hinder!

If you’re unable to help, at least avoid getting in the way of responders. Authorities are asking people not to call emergency services unless they see active, unattended flames or are reporting a life-threatening situation. Drivers should also stay off the roads, if possible, to avoid blocking or slowing emergency vehicles or evacuees.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

California Wildfires Threaten Thousands of Cannabis Farms

A cluster of California wildfires north of San Francisco have so far devoured more than 70,000 acres and killed at least 11 people, according to official reports. And though the infernos have come to be known as the “Wine Country fires,” they stand to destroy tens of millions of dollars’ worth of cannabis gardens on the outskirts of the state’s famed Emerald Triangle.

It’s one of the most devastating series of fires in recent California history, and Gov. Jerry Brown has already declared a state of emergency in affected counties. Numerous growers have been affected by mandatory evacuation orders, and some farms have already been destroyed.

“A 40 acre grow could see a loss of $32M in product.”

Prof. John Torrens, Syracuse University

Citing county surveys, David Downs of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that there could be anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 cannabis gardens in Sonoma County alone. “County revenue from cannabis are unknown,” the paper says, “but likely total in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said that responders—at least 20 agencies are pitching in—are still scrambling to contain the fires. A curfew has been imposed in Santa Rosa, and Sonoma authorities are urging residents to stay out of areas that have been evacuated. Mobile phone service has also been affected.

RELATED STORY

How the Emerald Triangle Became America’s Cannabis Epicenter

Fires have also affected residents and businesses in Napa, Mendocino, and Yuba counties, according to local reports. Dozens have been injured, and more than 1,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed. Officials are asking individuals to report missing persons to the appropriate authorities. An emergency hotline is available at 1-707-565-3856.

The wildfires are expected to do tens of millions of dollars in damage to cannabis crops. “We have a lot of people who have lost their farms in the last 36 hours, and their homes,” Tawnie Logan, chair of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance, told the Chronicle, adding that she knows of a $2 million Santa Rosa crop that was reduced to ash on Sunday night.

John Torrens, a professor of entrepreneurial practice at Syracuse University, noted that the fires comes just as much of the cannabis was nearing harvest.

RELATED STORY

The Future of California Cannabis Depends on Rain

“October is the official end to the outdoor growing season. While many harvests may be underway, a considerable number of growers are in the pre- and early stages of their harvest,” he said in an email. “Some grows are as large as 40 acres. With average price per pound of cannabis being $1,000, an acre of marijuana can yield as much as $800,000 (compared to $644 for corn, $400 for soybeans and $232 for wheat). A 40 acre grow could see a loss of $32M in product.”

Unlike the numerous wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties, cannabis growers don’t have access to conventional business insurance. So-called surplus-lines insurers do offer limited coverage, but costs far exceed more mainstream plans.

RELATED STORY

California Unveils Temporary Licenses to Allow Early 2018 Retail Sales

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said last month that state officials are “very aggressively” working to persuade major commercial insurance companies to work with state-legal cannabis businesses. “We actually have one admitted commercial carrier that has filed a commercial product in California,” he said, though coverage will likely come too late to help farmers affected by the Wine Country fires.

Sonoma County officials have announced they’ll provide further updates on Tuesday evening.

Not the First Time

Facing prolonged drought, Northern California has been hit hard by fires in recent years. Around this time last year, a fire that began south of San Jose tore through cannabis gardens, destroying some crops and covering others in a layer of ash.

RELATED STORY

In Photos: California Wildfire Endangers Cannabis Crops


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cannabis Legalization Sends Sacramento Warehouse Prices Skyrocketing

Though regulated sales aren’t set to begin until January, adult-use legalization in California is already making waves in cities across the state as entrepreneurs gear up to grab a piece of the green rush. In Sacramento, warehouse rents are ballooning as would-be operators seek places to set up shop.

Warehouses and light-industrial buildings are selling for nearly twice the usual asking prices, the Sacramento Bee reports, Rents have climbed even more drastically, with costs rising in some industrial areas to four to five times the norm.

RELATED STORY

Will ‘Microbusiness’ Licenses Let Craft Cannabis Flourish in California?

What’s fueling the frenzy? For one thing, certainty. Sacramento is one of the few major cities in the state that has adopted cannabis-cultivating ordinances and made it clear that the adult-use cannabis industry is welcome.

Now, as people scramble to nab legal locations to begin cultivation, that sought-after space carries a premium. According to the Bee, spaces that were renting for $0.50 per square foot in the city’s industrial area now are renting for as much as $2.50 per square foot. Making things more difficult for would-be renters, some landlords are refusing to lease space to cannabis growers.

RELATED STORY

How California Cannabis Growing Laws Will Impact the Emerald Triangle

Michael Luca, an industrial real estate broker with CBRE in Sacramento said that the disruption in prices could create pressure on existing tenants in the city by driving market rates upward.

“The cannabis industry in the Sacramento market has been disruptive to the traditional industrial market,” Luca told the SacBee. “It could turn out to be a benefit to the market and drive rates higher, but it is upending and causing confusion for traditional industrial occupiers – small businesses that employ a reasonable number of people.” Those businesses include construction firms, landscaping outfits, and others. As of July, more than a hundred businesses were already seeking special permits from the city to run indoor cannabis growing operations. City officials believe that the number should rise to around 200 by the turn of the year.

RELATED STORY

Cannabis Legalization Boosts Property Values, Study Says

Sacramento is far from the only place in the country that has seen real estate prices increase as a result of cannabis legalization. Beyond industry rents, even housing costs have gone up in some locations. In Denver, for example, a recent study by the University of Wisconsin found that single family residences within 0.1 miles of retail cannabis establishments saw an 8.4% increase in value, compared to residences located just a little further away—between 0.1 miles and 0.25 miles—from a store.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.