Tag: California

Delivery, Diversity Top Concerns at LA City Council Hearing

At 6:30 p.m. this past Wednesday night, Los Angeles City Hall council chambers were packed with cannabis business owners, activists, and community leaders, all looking to voice their opinions about how the city should regulate the coming adult-use cannabis industry.

‘California has voted for it. We have to regulate it.’

Herb Wesson, LA City Council President

“California has voted for it. We have to regulate it. And that’s what we’re attempting to do,” said City Council President Herb Wesson.

Los Angeles voters passed Measure M earlier this month, which gave the City Council oversight control of recreational cannabis. The measure also implemented a system of taxation for its sales, transportation, and cultivation. Now the hard work begins. LA must build a regulatory system from the ground up, creating rules on everything from consumer safety to enforcement practices.

For guidance, LA called officials from other states who have already been through the process. Both Rick Garza, director of the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, and Steve Marks, executive director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, told the Council that they modeled many aspects of their cannabis regulations on existing alcohol laws.

In Washington, law enforcement agents conduct regular bar visits to ensure that underage drinkers aren’t being served. The state adopted this requirement for cannabis businesses as well, with all retailers subject to a premises check at least three times a year, said Garza. As a result, they’re seeing a similar compliance rate at dispensaries as they do at alcohol establishments, at about 92 percent.

While Garza and Marks detailed their states’ approach to cannabis marketing and criminal background checks, the LA industry officials in attendance on Wednesday night seemed most concerned with two things: delivery and diversity.

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Delivery: Patients Demand It

Cannabis delivery has long been a confusion and contentious issue in Los Angeles. Making home cannabis delivery legal and accessible can be critically important for medical marijuana patients. Two of the city’s most popular services, SpeedWeed and Nestdrop, were forced to cease services within the city limits late last year, bowing to court injunctions initiated by the LA City Attorney. Although some delivery operations continue to do business within the city (either under the radar or by exploiting legal loopholes), the LA industry showed up in force to demand more legal opportunities for delivery services.

Sky Siegel, a member of the LA Cannabis Task Force, shared a personal anecdote at Wednesday’s meeting. After being hospitalized with a severe spinal injury, he  was immobilized, in need of cannabis, and unable to access the medicine he needed. Delivery services were his only option. Allowing cannabis delivery under new City regulations, he said, would help others in similar situations.

‘We allow delivery of alcohol in Washington. I’m not sure why we shouldn’t allow cannabis.’

Rick Garza, Director, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board

“I know there are many under-served communities in the Los Angeles area that would benefit from medicinal cannabis,” Siegel said, “and I would like that thought not to be an afterthought, but something that’s actually developed in league with both the cities and the legislative partners in the state,” he said.

While many spoke in favor of decriminalizing delivery, there were divergent views on whether that would be best accomplished through strategic regulations or simply by loosening the city’s regulatory grip.

“Many regulations besides zoning are determined at the state level,” said Zachary Pitts of Goddess Delivers, a medical cannabis delivery co-op that ships product throughout the state. Those city regulations, he said, end up “intervening too heavily, and might push jobs and taxes to other municipalities.”

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Delivery is legal in Oregon, but delivery services operate under structured, detailed regulations that require companies to track any product that’s removed from a dispensary without being sold. Delivery is outlawed in Washington state, due in large part to problems early on with illegal product being distributed in major cities like Seattle, Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board director Rick Garza explained. Now however, Garza is reconsidering this policy.

“We allow delivery of alcohol in Washington,” he said. “I’m not sure why we shouldn’t allow cannabis, especially when you put it in the context of medical patients.”

Access to Capital: Big Diversity Issue

In addition to delivery, many speakers stressed the importance of having LA’s cannabis industry reflect the diversity and demographics of the city. Tomer Grassiany, a member of the LA Cannabis Task Force, asked Garza and Marks if their states’ businesses reflected the communities in which they operated.

Not so much, they answered.

“I think the social justice and equity issues…[were areas] that I wish we had considered,” said Garza. “It became clear to us after we closed the door that many of the minority communities felt that they were not able to get into the system.”

‘Many of the minority communities felt they were not able to get into the system.’

Rick Garza, Washington LCB

Washington has no program to better incorporate women and minorities into the cannabis industry, said Garza. He stressed the need for Los Angeles to not follow his state’s lead in this regard. In Oregon, by contrast, Marks said state officials did extensive outreach to those groups and worked with the Minority Cannabis Business Association to try and diversify the ranks of the cannabis industry.

Both Garza and Marks emphasized that fairness in the cannabis industry has a lot to do with access: helping connect entrepreneurs with the education and financial resources they need to get their business up and running.

“That’s the biggest problem in this industry,” said Garza. Entrepreneurs “can’t go to a bank and get a loan.”

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Advice: Take Your Time

Garza and Marks warned Los Angeles council members to be patient when developing regulations. In Washington state, they spent about six months holding public forums and soliciting input from law enforcement, the cannabis industry, and the public before even starting to write cannabis regulations, said Garza. Those regulations then took another six months to actually complete.

“I would take the time you need, and I can share with you that it’s never going to be soon enough for the industry,” said Garza.

If Los Angeles sticks to the September 30, 2017, deadline outlined in Measure M, that only gives the city about six months total to settle on a course of action. City Council President Wesson argued, however, that Los Angeles has been gearing up for this process since early 2016.

“It’s almost a year that we’ve been having hearings, listening to the community, trying to adjust or take some of the recommendations that you make,” he said.

The LA City Council is now poised to establish a five-person Cannabis Licensing Commission, which will oversee the license and public hearing process, coordinate business inspections and audits, and work with the city to implement new regulations.


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’s Great Cannabis Unbanning

By every estimate, California produces and consumes significantly more marijuana than any other state in America. But in much of the state, the multibillion-dollar industry still behaves as an underground enterprise, operating as if it were still illegal—because, for now at least, it still is.

While the right of medical cannabis patients and adults 21 and over to possess and grow cannabis is now enshrined in state law, cities and counties wield retain significant close power control to regulate over how marijuana businesses are regulated locally. It’s authority they haven’t been shy to use: So far, 17 counties—about a third of the state—have banned or severely restricted either commercial cannabis cultivation, retail sales, or both, according to data recently compiled by the California Cannabis Industry Association.

Bans are also in effect in 204 cities, or 42 percent of California’s incorporated communities. In a very few extreme cases, some cities have gone as far as to outlaw or otherwise curtail all marijuana growing, including the six plants all adults are supposed to be allowed to grow at home for personal use under Proposition 64, the state’s successful legalization initiative.

But with commercial adult-use sales set to begin as early as Jan. 1, this trend toward outlawing cannabis is now reversing itself—quickly.

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Bans are steadily giving way to regulations. In areas where marijuana businesses are already permitted and licensed, local governments are beginning to relax strict rules, trim permit fees, and lower taxes in an effort to be more competitive than their neighbors.

“In the last six weeks, we’ve seen movement in areas we wouldn’t have expected.”

Hezekiah Allen, executive director, California Growers Association

As for home cultivation, cities are reconsidering all-out bans. The threat of a lawsuit compelled one Northern California town to relent on a proposed ban and allow residents to grow for personal use—just as Prop 64 has always said they could. (Other cities are mulling “inspection” and “permit fees” for home grows, though have yet to collect a dime.)

A look at local cannabis policies reveals the state’s “well-known cultural divide” between progressive coastal cities, conservative inland valleys, and libertarian-leaning foothills, said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, a state-level cultivators’ lobby.

Coastal regions tend to be most permissive, with the flatlands and foothills most restrictive. “But in the last six weeks,” Allen told Leafly News, “we’ve seen movement in areas we wouldn’t have expected.”

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Rural, agricultural counties—where (unfounded) fears of organized crime and (more reasonable) worries of environmental degradation once fueled blanket bans—are now moving quickly to assist commercial cannabis businesses, outpacing even some traditionally marijuana-producing counties. In other conservative areas, of the type that used to default to bans, lawmakers are holding off on such severe restrictions and exploring ways to make marijuana work.

In perhaps the biggest victory for regulated marijuana to date, voters in Los Angeles, where, four years ago, medical marijuana dispensaries were essentially outlawed by popular vote, the electorate this month voted nearly 3-to-1 to license and regulate marijuana businesses of all kinds.

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Why the mass shift? For one thing, most small communities in California don’t write their own laws. That job is passed on to private law firms contracted by cities and counties to act as outside government counsel. Until recently, when the question of marijuana arose, the law firms would reply by sending back a “boilerplate ban” for part-time city councilmembers and rural county supervisors to vote into law. Early last year, the League of California Cities, a local government association, encouraged its members to ban cultivation outright. Many small communities, unsure of what to do, took what seemed like sage advice and banned.

The league has since updated its views, acknowledging a range of workable approaches.

“It’s not bans anymore,” said Nate Bradley, policy director for the California Cannabis Industry Association.  “Now they’re saying, ‘How can we make this work? Write us an ordinance that works.’”

The best explanation for this phenomenon is the simplest and most predictable: money.

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California may have an economy larger than France, India, and Brazil (and nearly twice that of Russia), but most of the wealth is concentrated in a few select areas, like Silicon Valley and Hollywood. The state, by some estimates, also boasts the nation’s highest poverty rate. In those flatlands and foothills, jobs can be hard to come by.

“We always knew that revenue and job creation would be the carrot on the stick that brought hesitant municipalities to the table.”

Mickey Martin, legalization advocate

After watching cities and counties in Washington and Colorado balance their budgets, repave their streets, and construct enviable civic works projects with marijuana tax revenue, knee-jerk bans are giving way to new efforts to welcome weed. Dreams of cannabis riches are compelling cities to turn abandoned prisons and tire plants into marijuana factories. In one case, a since-abandoned plan to convert a shuttered factory into a cannabis operation would have created a rural California county’s biggest employer.

“We always knew that revenue and job creation would be the carrot on the stick that brought hesitant municipalities to the table,” said marijuana business consultant and longtime legalization activist Mickey Martin, who’s seen clients win licenses in heretofore hostile areas. “While the entire process can often make hardworking and righteous cannabis businesses feel like a cheap whore, at the end of the day, if it results in cannabis becoming more widely accepted, and less people going to jail for producing and selling weed, I will consider it a win.”

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The trend began in earnest last year, when desolate desert towns such as Desert Hot Springs turned to marijuana as a source of income.

“I can only imagine what we can do with the tax revenue,” Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott Matas told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re in need of parks, our roads are dilapidated. All around — our sidewalks, curbs, gutters.”

Even with sky-high taxes and fees—$25 a square foot for grow houses, for example—cannabis companies jumped on board.

Desert Hot Springs was able to propose such high tax rates because few other cities were so welcoming. Now, unless it adjusts, it may find itself moribund again, as marijuana companies flee to friendlier climes.

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Just like with any other business, “cities will have to compete,” said Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, an industry advocacy group.

How far things have come and—how much is still at stake—is evident in Calaveras County, a rural, sparsely populated stretch of foothills and giant Sequoias in Gold Country best known (if at all) for being the setting of a famous Mark Twain short story.

The foothills are Donald Trump territory; Calaveras, where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, is one link in a north-south chain of seven counties where conservative views rule. Voters here rejected Proposition 64, which legalized adult-use cannabis, while also rejecting a gun control measure and a proposed ban on the death penalty.

At the same time, Calaveras voters approved slapping a tax on marijuana cultivation. That tax could raise $10 million a year, a princely sum in a county where the median income is one-third below the state average. Given the chance to ban commercial marijuana cultivation marijuana in January, county supervisors balked at the very last second. The question will now be decided by voters in a special election in May.

“All we are asking for is good government,” said former Calaveras County Supervisor Thomas Tryon.

Tryon is a Libertarian who believes former President Barack Obama is a Marxist. Tryon also has designs on becoming a commercial cannabis farmer.

“Frankly,” he said, “a ban is not good governance at all.”


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.

Los Angeles Voters Approve Marijuana Licensing Measure M

LOS ANGELES, CA — Los Angeles city voters decided last week in favor of Measure M – a city council sponsored ballot measure to establish rules on how and where marijuana retailers may operate within the city limits.

Passage of the new ordinance paves the way for the repeal of Proposition D, which voters approved in 2013, that halted the expansion of medical marijuana businesses.

It also amends existing tax rates and imposes new ones on various marijuana-related activities, such as retail sales, delivery, and testing services.

Measure M was endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, the California Growers Association, and the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, among a coalition of other groups.

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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.

Investor Rush Follows California Town’s Cannabis Vote

After prohibiting medical marijuana for more than two decades, the Southern California town of La Mesa has recently become the site of an unexpected cannabis boom.

In November, the San Diego suburb passed a ballot initiative, Measure U, allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation centers, and manufacturing sites within city limits. In doing so, it lifted a ban that had been in place since the passage of California’s first statewide medical cannabis law in 1996. La Mesa (pop. 57,065) became the third city in San Diego County to welcome cannabis businesses. (Well, technically it tied for second—Lemon Grove, La Mesa’s neighbor to the south, also legalized dispensaries on Nov. 8.)

The scramble for dispensary storefronts has sparked tensions between cannabis speculators and some La Mesa residents.

The change unleashed a green rush, and the ensuing scramble has sparked tensions between cannabis speculators and some La Mesa residents.

Although California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, the state has never really regulated the plant. For decades, state lawmakers left it to local governments to set their own licensing regulations and zoning rules on grow sites and dispensaries.

Many cities chose simply to ban them, but those ordinances often backfired. Dispensaries simply operated without licenses, sapping law enforcement resources and giving local governments zero regulatory oversight—and no tax revenue.

But state law has since changed. In 2015, lawmakers in Sacramento passed the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) to set state standards for medical marijuana. Last November, voters approved Proposition 64, legalizing cannabis for adult use. The new systems mean California will have a fully regulated medical and adult-use cannabis market by 2018. Together with Measure U, the changes have turned the tables in La Mesa. Instead of being seen as a hostile host to cannabis, the city is now viewed as a premier investment opportunity.

It’s also become an unlikely flashpoint in the fight over the future of California cannabis.

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Real Estate Speculation Boom

Since the vote last November, real estate values in La Mesa have reportedly tripled as investors hustle to secure footholds in the city. At least 16 applicants are seeking medical marijuana licenses, and investors are arriving from as far away as Morocco.

The epicenter of this green rush is near Center Street, a small industrial loop on the city’s north side. The area currently has five properties with pending medical marijuana applications. Who are the would-be dispensary owners? Few outside of City Hall know. Measure U requires La Mesa town officials to keep the names of applicants confidential, for safety reasons.

At least 16 applicants are seeking medical marijuana licenses, and investors are arriving from as far away as Morocco.

Amid the frenzy to get into the new licensing scheme, it’s safe to assume that some would-be businesses are trying to push each other out. Measure U requires each licensed cannabis businesses to be at least 1,000 feet away from the nearest cannabis business, the idea being to avoid concentrating cannabis operations in certain neighborhoods. Yet some of the properties with pending applications are just down the street from one another, or even right next door. As soon as one applicant receives a license, that company’s location will likely disqualify nearby applicants.

A Walk Down Center Street

I visited Center Street recently to see how local businesses were handling the boom. The anticipation is palpable. According to business owners and city officials close to the process, some cannabis investors have put money in escrow accounts, with the intention of buying a property only if it secures a medical cannabis permit.

By and large, most business owners and customers I met on Center Street approached the controversy with amused curiosity. Permits will be doled out on a first-come, first-served basis. Only one or two of the properties will ever get approved due to the distance rule, but no one seemed worried about evictions or lost renters just yet.

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Linda McWilliams, owner of San Pasqual Winery, was working on a 2016 merlot when I walked into her warehouse. “Supposedly it’s going to happen,” she said, when asked if her property would become a dispensary or other medical marijuana business. “It hasn’t happened yet.” McWilliams, who rents the warehouse, had heard that the property owner was in talks with a medical marijuana investor who’s interested in purchasing the property.

A winery employee, Darrell Grant, was also nonchalant. “I’m used to change,” he said.

Because McWilliams still has a couple years left on the lease of her wine production center, she isn’t worried about relocating just yet. She isn’t sure who wants to buy the property, she said, or whether the sale will go through. She’s still paying rent to the same landlord.

She offered a sample of wine. “The rents are going to be so inflated that no one else will be able to be here,” she said. And the medical cannabis permits themselves could be so valuable, she joked, that “some of the neighbors were talking about getting [a conditional use permit for medical marijuana] and then not doing anything with it.” Presumably it’d give a bump to their property values, or be worth millions to a secondary license purchaser.

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Even the Tire Shop Guy is Making Deals

Up the street, the building currently occupied by Preston’s Tire and Wheel also has an application for a marijuana business. An employee at the front desk, who declined to give his full name, said he’d seen people measuring the distance between various properties in the neighborhood. In the technical terms of Measure U, this is called a “path of travel exhibit.”

‘Remember, 50% of people voted for Measure U,’ one business owner said. ‘That means 50% didn’t.’

Like McWilliams, the employee seemed unfazed that a cannabis shop could soon be moving in, possibly even replacing the auto shop at which he worked. “Having a bar would be way more detrimental” than cannabis stores, he said. “People don’t leave a dispensary at 3 a.m., shit-faced drunk.”

But not everyone is so subdued about the changes. While in La Mesa, I visited a specialty service business—the owner asked that I not use his name—where the address has a pending cannabis permit.

The owner said he had been in talks to sell his property to medical marijuana investors. But the deal fell through, and he estimates he lost around 20% of his customers in the ensuing controversy. “Please don’t mention me,” he said after I asked about Measure U. “It has already hurt my business enough.” His decades-old family company, he said, is still recovering from the fallout. “You’ve got to remember, 50% of people voted for [Measure U],” he explained. “That means 50% didn’t.”

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Unlicensed Dispensaries Already Exist

Dispensary licensing may be creating a stir in La Mesa’s north end, where many of the permit applications are concentrated. But across town you’ll find a thriving market of unlicensed dispensaries already in operation. Customers stream in and out of buildings festooned with green crosses and advertisements for cannabis products.

I asked a budtender if the dispensary was unlicensed. ‘They’re all unlicensed,’ he said.

It’s like this across San Diego County—and indeed, much of Southern California. Many smaller cities that adopted all-out bans on dispensaries, including El Cajon, Chula Vista and, until recently, La Mesa, have nonetheless become hot spots for unlicensed ones.

While in La Mesa, I visited some unlicensed dispensaries with a friend who’s a medical marijuana patient.

I approached one dispensary employee who was smoking a cigarette outside. I asked the man, who gave his name as Jeremy, whether he worked at an unlicensed dispensary.

“They’re all unlicensed,” he replied.

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Over time, the city has taken varying stances towards these dispensaries. At a public meeting in January, Carol Dick, the city’s community development director, said La Mesa would shift its focus to permitting legal dispensaries rather than shutting down illegal ones.

But then in February, city officials sent cease-and-desist letters to some unlicensed shops. “Some [of the dispensaries] are going to court,” Dick said. “They’re all in different stages of enforcement.”

Guy McWhirter, a City Council member who publicly opposed Measure U, said shutting down the shops hasn’t been easy. “Even though they’re illegal, we can’t just shut them down,” he told Leafly over the phone. “We have to give them due process.”

Courts haven’t seen these enforcement actions as high-priority changes, McWhirter said. And even when La Mesa does manage to shut down an unlicensed dispensary, he said, a new one just pops up elsewhere.

“It’s a waste of time,” he added. “We know they won’t be prosecuted.”

Bans Create a Black Market

Michael Cindrich, a San Diego lawyer who publicly supported Measure U, argues that legal dispensaries could help solve this problem. “By creating a legal market, the goal is to drive sales to legal, regulated locations,” he said. “Any time a city or county bans these activities, they are absolutely creating a black market problem.”

Once a dispensary has invested the time and money to become licensed, it has an incentive to help the city crack down on unlicensed dispensaries, Cindrich said. It’s a phenomenon seen in other California cities, like San Jose, that initially flirted with a dispensary ban but settled on a limited licensing scheme instead.

Measure U’s passage forced La Mesa’s mayor to implement a law he opposed.

When Measure U went on the ballot in La Mesa, both the current and former mayors came out against it. The official ballot argument against the measure, to which Mayor Mark Arapostathis added his name, reads: “Here we are again with the special interest marijuana lobby imposing on La Mesa’s limited budget for another vote!”

City voters had already rejected a 2014 bid to legalize medical marijuana businesses. A year later, La Mesa extended the ban to halt delivery services operating there. But in November 2016, Measure U passed by a 53–47 margin—putting the mayor in the unenviable position of enforcing a law he’d publicly opposed.

Arapostathis declined to be interviewed for this story. A spokesperson sent a brief statement via email. “Mayor Arapostathis publicly endorsed a position that opposed the passing of the Measure,” it read. “Now that it has passed, the City has no choice but to implement it.”

Can Unlicensed Dispensaries Get Licensed?

As applications for medical-marijuana permits flow in, one of the most hotly contested questions is whether the owners of existing, illegal dispensaries will be able to get medical marijuana licenses in La Mesa and step out of the regulatory shadows.

The city says no. La Mesa “will not accept or process an application for illegal dispensaries that are in operation,” according to the city’s official FAQ page on Measure U. But in the official ballot argument against the initiative, critics claimed that “nothing in Measure U prevents existing illegal marijuana shops from getting a permit.”

On this front, critics may be right. To apply for a license, the property owner and applicant both have to sign something called a “Statement of No Operation of Illegal Marijuana Dispensary.” But the statement only asks about the address for which the applicants are seeking a permit. That means unlicensed dispensaries could theoretically apply for a license simply by using a different address.

Jeremy, the dispensary employee, said some applicants were doing just that—although none of the dispensary owners I spoke with would confirm or deny it. When I spoke to Jeremy later, over the phone, he said his bosses would have to consult their lawyers before making a comment, citing an ongoing court case.


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.

Oakland Licensing Plan Builds in Diversity and Reparations

Oakland, Calif., paid big chunk of social-justice debt this week when its city council unanimously approved controversial reparations for blacks and Latinos affected by America’s War on Drugs.

‘Black folks built this city and we demand ownership in the industry,–as owners, not as workers.’

Carroll Fife, Oakland civic activist

Under a first-of-its-kind law originally approved last year, qualified minority applicants with majority ownership in medical cannabis businesses — nurseries, edibles kitchens, testing labs, distributors, dispensaries and others — will receive half of all licenses issued in Oakland, along with zero-interest loans subsidized by $3 million of the city’s cannabis tax revenue. “Black folks built this city and we demand ownership in the industry,” said activist Carroll Fife. “We do that as owners, not as workers.”

Oakland shocked the cannabis world when it approved the reparations in May 2016. The city became the first municipality to offer an institutionalized response to the disproportionate harms of cannabis prohibition—and the disproportionate opportunities that lie in prohibition’s end. Many had spoken out against the over-incarceration of people of color, and their under-representation among legal cannabis business owners. Oakland was the first city to do something about it.

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Regret and infighting followed the passage of that initial reparations program, though. Council members considered scrapping the requirement that 50 percent of permits be issued preferentially They haggled over the minimum length of residency requirements and added a sunset phase for permit preferences. Some issues were still be fixed during last Tuesday’s three-hour meeting, which drew more than 100 public speakers.

After a long night of debate and compromise, the city council finally approved a revised reparations plan.

The ordinances are designed to bring the city in compliance with state laws that will regulate the multibillion-dollar cannabis industry by 2018. Those laws stipulate that all cannabis businesses be licensed in the city in which they operate.

How will it all play out? Here’s a primer on Oakland’s preferential pot program.

What are reparations?

Reparations were conceived in 2015 to address concerns over racial inequity and tokenism in the cannabis industry, whose investors and owners are predominately white.

Oakland’s equity program created methods to help drug war victims enter the state’s legal medical cannabis market with protections that include majority ownership and appropriate responsibilities.

Although the law passed unanimously in May, many council members quickly regretted their votes as imperfections in the law became apparent. Eligibility time periods were extended and a loan program was added. The revised measure was approved unanimously, once again, on Tuesday in a midnight vote preceded by last-minute legislative sausage-making, Oakland’s equity program earmarks 50 percent of all cannabis business permits in the city for drug war victims; authorizes $3 million in zero-interest business loans to low-income blacks and Latinos; and a creates a system by which some applicants can speed the permitting process by donating office space.

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Beneficiaries

Preference will be given to blacks and Latinos arrested and convicted of cannabis-related crimes in Oakland within the past 20 years, and to residents of neighborhoods identified as having had significant numbers of cannabis arrests. Equity permit applicants are required to have lived in one or a combination of six designated neighborhoods for 10 of the past 20 years, and their current income must be below 80 percent of the city’s average median income. Even though some neighborhoods added before this week’s vote are gentrifying, all designated neighborhoods are predominantly black. By extending minimum residency requirements from 2 years to 10 years, the council clearly disfavors newer residents, many of whom are white.

Opposition

Critics of Oakland’s cannabis reparations plan say few people will meet those equity permit qualifications. They predict a crippling bottleneck created by the law’s stipulation that one equity permit must be issued for every general permit issued.

Collateral damage

Yes, it’s possible that some blacks and Latinos currently operating cannabis businesses in Oakland wouldn’t qualify for equity permits and could get caught in a permitting bottleneck.

What’s next

No start date for permitting has been announced, but Jan. 1, 2018, is the deadline by which businesses must have a local license or be operating in good standing with a city in order to continue operating under new state regulations. Oakland’s cannabis permits will be issued in two stages. In the first stage, half of all licenses will be reserved for equity applicants while an assistance program providing zero-interest business loans and technical help to equity applicants will begin raising $3 million in expected cannabis tax revenue. In stage two, after loan funds are raised, there won’t be any restrictions on licensees. City officials said approximately 130 businesses have been operating without a permit.

Drug-war math

In a city whose population is equally represented by three groups that use cannabis at roughly the same rates, 2015 statistics show disproportionate cannabis arrest rates for blacks (77 percent), Latinos (15 percent) and whites (4 percent). “The data shows that for over two decades, black and brown residents were arrested and incarcerated for drug offenses at disparately high rates, while largely white cannabis cultivators, manufacturers and distributors who were not operating entirely above board either, flourished under changing laws designed to accommodate the burgeoning industry,” said Darlene Flynn, director of the city’s newly created Department of Race and Equity.

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Fast-track options

People who are not eligible for an equity permit but want a general permit can speed the process by offering free rent or real estate to an equity applicant.

Is this constitutional?

Maybe there’s no cannabis arrest on your rap sheet. Maybe you live in one of Oakland’s affluent neighborhoods. Maybe you’re Filipino or Scandinavian. What can you do about Oakland’s reparations? You can file a lawsuit. Naresh Channaveerappa, an attorney who represents cannabis businesses, said he believes that preferential treatment is unconstitutional. “Anyone who is harmed by this preferential treatment has legal ground to challenge it,” he said.

What’s the state’s stance?

When cannabis is finally regulated in California in 2018, a cannabis business will need both a city permit and a state license before it can operate.  State law denies licenses to the cannabis convicts Oakland permits. But California’s recreational cannabis law, Proposition 64, the California Adult Use of Marijuana Act, includes a provision for record expungement. A spokeswoman for California’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation said state regulators will respond case by case and may deny licenses to people who have committed cannabis crimes. Last summer, Oakland’s City Council approved a resolution asking state legislators to expunge cannabis-related criminal records and to remove restrictions excluding people who’ve committed cannabis crimes from participating in the cannabis industry.

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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.

Los Angeles Sheriff Thinks Feds May Target Legal Cannabis

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The leader of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department expects federal drug agents will attempt to step up marijuana enforcement as California moves forward with legalization. But he believes there isn’t the manpower to conduct widespread raids on growers and businesses selling cannabis.

McDonnell said it’s likely there will be federal raids targeting the cannabis industry in California.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell also decried California legislation that would make the state a sanctuary for immigrants in the country illegally by limiting how much local law enforcement agencies can work with federal immigration authorities. McDonnell said doesn’t want his deputies acting as de facto immigration agents, but he believes the bill goes too far and would hamper cooperation on counterterrorism and gang initiatives.

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McDonnell said he expects legalization of recreational cannabis to bring additional challenges for his deputies, who patrol nearly 4,000 square miles in Southern California, from an increase in fatal traffic collisions to a rise in overdoses caused by brownies, gummies and other edibles that deliver uneven dosages of THC, the chemical compound that provides the high.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month that federal officials would try to adopt “reasonable policies” for enforcement of federal anti-cannabis laws. Sessions has said he is “definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana” and believes violence surrounds sales and use of the drug in the U.S. The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

McDonnell said it’s likely there will be federal raids targeting the cannabis industry in California.

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“To be able to set the tone, they may do that,” he said. “They have the right. It is against federal law.”

Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies have been preparing for the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, by studying crime rates in Colorado and Washington after cannabis was legalized there.

McDonnell said officials need to prepare for a potential “health crisis.”

“We’ve seen an increase of the number of kids, in particular, admitted to emergency rooms for ingestion of edibles that in a young kid could be fatal,” McDonnell said. “Somebody cuts a corner of a brownie, do they get the full ingestion of THC that was supposed to go into that whole plate of brownies or do they get nothing? There’s no control. There’s no quality control.”

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McDonnell said anticipates that legalization will also drive up crime and says there will be a heavy cost to just train more officers to be able to identify drugged drivers.

“We don’t have anything where it’s similar to getting a blood-alcohol content level, as we would do in the field now,” he said. “Without a definitive metric to be able to go to court with that — an index if you will — it’s going to be difficult to go to court and get the prosecutions the way we know get for alcohol.”

McDonnell, who has led the sheriff’s department since 2014, also criticized proposed sanctuary state legislation, known as Senate Bill 54, that he said will have unintended consequences. Still, he said, the department must maintain a strict policy over what information it shares with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

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“Our currency is public trust, and if we’re out there doing the job of immigration then we lose that,” McDonnell said. “It prohibits communications between local and federal law enforcement on a number of fronts, particularly focused on immigration issues.”

If immigration agents can’t access the county jail to arrest immigrants living in the country illegally who have committed serious crimes, they will instead be forced to make arrests at their homes or in public places, McDonnell said.

“They will not only take him, but potentially his family and anyone around who is potentially undocumented,” he said. “So we’re going to be pushing them into a position we’re all trying to avoid and again, eroding the trust of many of our communities.”

McDonnell also condemned a series of criminal justice reform measures aimed at ease overcrowding in state prisons that he attributed to a rise in violent crime in the county.


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.

LA Votes on Licenses Today, Raids Tomorrow. Confused?

There’s a lot of cannabis political action happening over the next 48 hours in Los Angeles. It’s a bit confusing, so we’re here to sort through it for you.

Today, voters in the City of Los Angeles are considering Proposition M. That’s a measure that would establish a citywide licensing system for cannabis dispensaries, and ultimately adult-use stores. Prop M would also give city officials the ability to shut down unlicensed cannabis operations using civil tools like daily monetary fines and power-and-water shutoffs, rather than resorting to police raids.

The City wants to license, then shut down. The County wants the opposite.

For more information on what Prop M would do, Leafly contributor Hayley Fox has a great explainer here.

There’s another measure on the ballot, Proposition N, which also has to do with cannabis. But ignore Prop N. The group that originally wrote Prop N has swung its support to Prop M, but it was too late to remove N from the ballot. So LA voters: Vote on M, ignore N.

Tomorrow, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a plan to immediately shut down all existing medical marijuana dispensaries in outlying county areas (but not those contained within the City of Los Angeles).

As Dennis Romero explained in yesterday’s LA Weekly, the Board of Supervisors is, like the City of Los Angeles, considering a licensing plan for cannabis businesses within its borders. But unlike the City, the County may raid them and shut them down first, and then offer licenses. Sort of a slate-wiping approach.

The County Board of Supervisors already voted on Feb. 7 to close all dispensaries. At that time the Supervisors asked the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to come up with a plan to physically shut them down. The Board indicated its willingness to spend up to $25 million to do so. Dispensaries have been banned in unincorporated Los Angeles County since 2011. The Feb. 7 vote merely extended that ban, with an extra vote to ask for enforcement.

So: Citizens within the City of Los Angeles are voting to offer a legal path now, with enforcement later. Los Angeles County Supervisors are voting to enforce now, and offer a legal path later.

If you’re wondering whether your local dispensary could be affected by either measure, here are maps of the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 11.32.44 AMCity of Los Angeles, in green.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 11.36.24 AMLos Angeles County. Areas shown in white are incorporated cities.


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.

If LA’s Prop M Passes Today, Here’s What Will Change

After years of convoluted regulations, sporadic enforcement and an often-adversarial relationship between the cannabis industry and the City of Los Angeles, LA’s marijuana businesses are poised to undergo comprehensive taxation and regulatory reform. Today, LA residents are voting on Proposition M, which would give the Los Angeles Mayor and City Council comprehensive oversight of commercial cannabis.

Prop M would finally establish cannabis regs in the city of Los Angeles.

Prop M also sets tax rates for marijuana sales, transportation, cultivation and more, which combined, are expected to generate tens of millions of dollars for Los Angeles next year, said Jared Kiloh, president of the cannabis industry group UCBA Trade Association. Formed in 2015 by 63 L.A. dispensaries, UCBA has spent the last six months working with L.A. City Council, cannabis industry leaders, government officials, as well as attorneys, to develop a game plan for marijuana regulation.

Although the trade organization initially wrote its own measure, Proposition N, the group has since thrown their support behind the City-sponsored Prop M. As voting opened today, there were no parties supporting the opposition. One of the cannabis industry’s main concerns, said Kiloh, was finding the sweet spot between taxing cannabis businesses without overtaxing them.

“If you push it too far, when will cost get so high that it will continue to be a benefit to be in the black market?” said Kiloh.

With all eyes on Los Angeles, here are four major things to know about Prop M and how it stands to change the cannabis industry not only within the City of LA, but coast to coast.

  1. LA may make more than $50 million in cannabis taxes next year. Proposition M implements new gross receipt taxes on every aspect of the Los Angeles cannabis industry. Starting with 1 percent taxes on cannabis transportation, testing and research, rates increase to 2 percent on manufacturing, cultivation and any other forms of commercialization. Medical cannabis sales will be subject to a 5 percent business tax and recreational cannabis will face a gross receipt tax of a whopping 10 percent. Prior to this measure, only medical marijuana sales were taxed and that was at a rate of 6 percent. In 2016, Los Angeles made more than $9 million from tax-paying dispensaries, said Kiloh, but under Proposition M, that revenue is expected to balloon to around $50 million in 2018. Taking into consideration that the cannabis industry remains a largely cash-based business, the new measure dictates that L.A.’s Office of Finance implement a method for businesses to be able to pay these taxes in cash.
  2. Break the rules? The city can pull the plug on violators. LA’s regulation of local dispensaries has often been erratic and unpredictable. This new measure attempts to better outline enforcement strategies and gives the LA City Council and City Attorney power to implement penalties for cannabis businesses that operate illegally. Any business running without the appropriate City-issued license or permit will be considered a public nuisance and may be hit with an injunction, restraining order or any other court judgment the City secures against these law-breakers. For every day a violation exists, the offending cannabis business will be charged $20,000, with each day counting as a new and separate offense. If the business is renting property, the landlord will also be charged up to $20,000 per day for the violation. In addition to fines, the new measure also gives City Council the authority to shut off the water and power of illegal operations.
  3. Current legal dispensaries will get first dibs on new licenses. As the city rolls out a new system of licensing, first in line will be the 135 dispensaries currently operating “legally” within the City under previously approved Proposition D. Passed in 2013 by L.A. voters, Prop D gave select tenured dispensaries (those that were up-and-running since 2007 or before) limited immunity to prosecution. These dispensaries will have 60 days to apply for a new permit once they’re made available under Proposition M. Up until this point, Prop D served as the main regulatory framework for dispensary operation, but if Prop M passes it will be repealed as of January 1, 2018.
  4. LA will become the largest cannabis market to regulate. While Proposition M implements a clearly defined tax structure and regulatory framework, there’s a lot still unknown about the rollout if it passes. Public hearings would be held throughout 2017 to solicit stakeholder input on everything from how to regulate cannabis transport, to how to determine appropriate advertising techniques and update police training procedures so they can effectively enforce laws against driving while stoned.

If Prop M passes, he L.A. City Council hopes to have a complete structure for regulation by Sept. 30 of this year. The City itself isn’t the only one anxious to put together a blueprint. The rest of the country will be watching Los Angeles as it becomes the biggest marijuana market in the U.S. to implement a regulatory system, said Kiloh.

“LA alone is larger than two Colorado [markets]; the whole state, twice,” he said.


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.

Wake and Bake in Los Angeles’ Members-Only Cannabis Café

The San Fernando Valley of California retains its edgy nostalgia with mellow pockets of dive bars and music studios. A new place, perfect for North Hollywood, has emerged as a means to escape the outside world and smoke cannabis freely while enjoying house amenities. It’s the spot where everybody knows your name, where you can have an afternoon with the boys smoking fatties or reading blogs puffing on your vape in peace. In an area people have smoked cannabis in their cars for over many years, this stoner Amsterdam-style cafe is a Zen hideaway to its members.

“Travelers just come in, they get everything they need, all in one place, and it’s just like an escape, a new Zen.”

Nicole, a Wake and Bake Café customer

Young, entrepreneurial owner Brian Wilson charges $10 for a day use membership at the cute red Wake and Bake cottage, which comes with free Wi-Fi, a fancy pour over cup of some good coffee, cable TV, and a comfortable place to smoke herb. “We needed something different than what was being displayed,” he said. “If you look at 99.999% of the other dispensaries, that’s not the cannabis culture. The stores look like places like you shouldn’t be, like really sketchy looking, really underground, and [they] don’t look presenting to the American people. We wanted to create something that best represents our culture.”

The Wake and Bake Club in Los Angeles, CaliforniaThe exterior of the Wake and Bake Breakfast Club in Los Angeles, California

Wake and Bake doesn’t deal in weight. Their counter only offers party size and pre-rolled joints with a small amount of flavors, some edibles, rolling papers, and small cans of Top Shelf by The Highest Cure. They carry pre-rolled Wake and Bake OG, their brand and strain, plus Blue Cookies, which Brian refers to as the “cappuccino of our bud.” Tobacco products are mainly nil. Organic juices are available. Long tables and chairs fill out the front room members-only lounge, which connects to a small cozy hallway seating area with chalkboard walls and TVs and leads to an outdoor patio seating area covered in green artificial grass rug.

The eighteen and over café has been serving a range of stoners. Explained Brian, “The oldest member I’ve had in here is about 48, and it’s from skateboarder to the professor, from doctor to magician, to architect to contractors, and maybe a couple law enforcement officers.”

Opened in fall 2016, Wake and Bake has 140 yearly members who have either the Gold Card for $50/month and $420/year, or the Black Card for $100/month and $650/year. Privileged amenities include guest passes, free pre-rolls, unlimited coffee and tea, discounts on merchandise, and tickets to house special events. A donation to the local North Hollywood YMCA is included, and Brian hopes to do more locally and integrate the business and its partnerships within the neighborhood. They have sold over 400 day use passes ($10), which is well worth it if you drink coffee seriously and are far from home and need a place to puff. Black Card membership even offers Snapchat Takeover access.

Sample offerings at the Wake and Bake Breakfast ClubSample offerings at the Wake and Bake Breakfast Club

It’s a higher standard than a dispensary experience, with no security guard and your own space.  No in and out policy, and because Wake and Bake is not competing with other collectives they absolutely encourage you to bring your own cannabis in and enjoy it. The intention is for the community, and even travelers who need a break, to have a place to go for the culture. Brian said some guys came in recently from Marina Del Rey, and of course, they didn’t want a monthly pass, but it was cool for them to stop in, get a day pass, coffee, and puff to check it out.

Nightly events like open mic, live painting, and happy hour are on the calendar all month. No pressure, no bad vibe, and who doesn’t like a spot to just be comfortable in and smoke some good bud? Outside on the patio, an individual named Rock and his two friends were streaming a video on a laptop. “We actually stopped by for the day,” he said. “We wanted somewhere to hang out, enjoy some coffee, some cannabis, and catch up on some live entertainment, and this is kind of a chill place to do it.” After the incessant rain in southern California lately, it was a lovely 75-degree day and the sun was finally out. They smoked blunts and liked having their own hangout to get high without being at home.

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Another patron named Nicole was at a table up in the front working on her laptop. She writes and has a monthly membership so she can smoke and have a quiet place to work. Originally from England, she recanted how places like this are widespread in Europe but hardly exist in the states. She loves the vibe, explaining, “It feels so homey. It’s special, like in England, how the pubs are based off welcoming and travel. Like, come in for the night. They make you feel like home, it’s like the public house. Travelers just come in, they get everything they need, all in one place, and it’s just like an escape, a new Zen.”

Wake and Bake certainly serves that purpose, and if franchised, Brian could spread that café culture across the country.


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 Is Producing Jobs, Revenue in States Where It’s Legal

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The states that have legalized recreational marijuana — a multibillion-dollar business — don’t want to hear the federal government talk about a crackdown. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she wants Oregonians left alone to “grow these jobs.”

In Oregon alone, that’s roughly 12,500 jobs, said economist Beau Whitney of Portland, adding that he is making a conservative estimate. Oregon’s attorney general said she would be duty-bound to fight to protect the state’s cannabis industry.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said his department is reviewing a Justice Department memo that gives states flexibility in passing cannabis laws and noted “it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.” White House spokesman Sean Spicer predicted stepped up enforcement.

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Underscoring how the cannabis industry is pushing job growth in Oregon, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates and licenses the state’s recreational marijuana industry, says it has over 12,640 applications for marijuana worker permits. It has also received 2,174 marijuana license applications, with over half coming from would-be producers and the rest mostly from those seeking to set up as retailers, processors, wholesalers and laboratories. It had activated 943 licenses by Tuesday.

Marijuana shops are prevalent in many Oregon cities. In the countryside, marijuana greenhouses are not uncommon.

“We now have a nascent, somewhat successful industry,” Brown said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press and a freelance journalist. “These are good paying jobs. It’s a pretty diverse business community.”

In January alone, recreational marijuana sales in Oregon were over $20 million, with medical marijuana generating about $2.8 million more, the OLCC said.

In Oregon, Washington state and Colorado, marijuana tax revenues totaled at least $335 million in either the last calendar year or the last fiscal year.

Whitney, who has been involved in several marijuana businesses and has advised state government, estimates that workers in the marijuana industry in Oregon earn a total of $315 million per year. That’s based on workers earning an average of $12 per hour. He noted that the wage scales vary widely, with harvesters earning less than processors and chemists. Their wages are pumped back into the local economies.

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If the Trump administration moves against legalized recreational cannabis, it would be going against its own objectives, Oregon’s governor said.

She noted that citizens in several states have voted to make cannabis legal. Oregon legalized recreational marijuana in a 2014 ballot measure.

“This administration very clearly wants to grow the economy and create jobs, and the other piece that they want is to have the states be the laboratories of democracy,” Brown said. “There is no better type of laboratory than the initiative process, and voters in Oregon and Washington and California and Alaska and Nevada, and there’s a few other states, have voted to legalize marijuana. On the West coast alone, that’s 49 million people.”

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Her message to Washington: “Let our people grow these jobs.”

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum indicated she would go to court to protect those jobs. Currently, the Cole Memorandum, which provides guidance for federal marijuana enforcement, restricts it to a few areas, including preventing distribution to minors and preventing marijuana from being transported from legal-cannabis states to other states. Under the Cole Memorandum, states where marijuana is legal have been largely been left alone.

“If the Cole memorandum is pulled, or replaced with other guidance, we would evaluate it immediately,” Rosenblum said in a recent interview with AP. “Possibly if we felt we had a basis, we would push back against that, because we have a burgeoning industry here, very successful so far with some bumps in the road … so that would be important for the attorney general to take a stand.”


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.