The Chino Realtor Had People
with Money Back in China

Courtesy of Getty Images

Federal law enforcement officials said Lin Li, 37, a Chino realtor used millions of dollars wired from China to fund a significant grow operation in seven San Bernardino County homes. Li’s elaborate plan had him creating shell companies and working up fake leases.

  • The realtor allegedly pulled off the project by purchasing houses through transactions made to hide the residence’s true owners. The homes were converted, then business commenced. With Li's arrest, the homes valued at a total of $5 million, will be forfeited to the government.
  • The 14-month investigation also resulted in the arrest of 42-year-old Ben Chen, the Alhambra man who managed the grow, and his assistant Jimmy Yu, a 44-year-old Pasadena man. All three were charged with possession, manufacture, and intent to distribute marijuana.
  • “As bizarre as this story seems, things like this are going to continue to happen as long as the marijuana industry remains in financial limbo,” observed David Ehrlich, COO of the secure payment system Zodaka.

We’re Almost Out of Weed
Have Too Much Weed
at the Same Time?

Ben White on Unsplash

Only a statewide rollout as zany as ours could be courting a REC shortage while growing too much weed. I've said it before, but California's legal weed rollout seems to work best as a how-NOT-to guide.

  • The math is simple. California-licensed farms can grow nine million pounds of bud. Meanwhile the the state licensed supply chain can only process two million. And with the (alleged--see below) arrival of the state's track-and-trace program, the illicit market can no longer function as a safety valve to offload excess product.
  • Vessel Logistics, a San Francisco-based cannabis distribution company, said in a report that California farmers "need to grow" as much as 50% less. Vessel president Daniel D’Ancona went on to say that pot prices could become depressed if past growing patterns continue.


  1. WeedWeek podcast favorite Sherbinski has made a splash in the world of luxury retail. He’s helping build Barney’s marijuana “store-within-a-store” and establishing his own tony retail operation. That’s quite a leap from when rapper B-Legit was growing Sherbs’ clout by shouting out his strain Gelato on rap songs.
  2. CuraLeaf had a huge week: It bought Nevada’s Cannabis Acres dispensaries for $70M and saw its stock jump after announcing that CVS will carry its CBD products.
  3. Toronto-based brand operator DionyMed bought a nearly-two-acre campus in Los Angeles. The deal with MMAC also includes a dispensary storefront, distribution facility and manufacturing hub, as well a direct-to-customer fulfillment center. DionyMed spent $19 million on the deal.
  4. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck, most widely known as a wine critic, is officially into marijuana, and he has a partnership with the agency Green Street to prove it.

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What Companies Will Fall Prey
to ‘Silent Killer’ CEQA?

Christa Poopo on Unsplash

Marijuana businesses currently have an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which can require a review of a business’ environmental impacts and how they can be mitigated. But the exemption ends in July.

Green Wise Consulting CEO Pamela Epstein, a cannabis law attorney, warns that the expense and and time-sucking nature of conforming to CEQA standards will cause businesses to be unprepared when mid-summer rolls around.

  • Because it wasn’t discussed during last year’s REC rollout, “It’s something that most people just sort of swept under the rug,” Epstein said. “CEQA is the silent killer: Nobody starts talking about it until it’s necessary, and when it’s necessary, it’s almost too late, from a planning perspective.”
  • CEQA has 18 impact areas to assess, ranging from aesthetics and water quality to agricultural resources and traffic. Epstein says the most important areas address transportation, traffic and greenhouse gas emissions. “Because the commercial cannabis industry is forcing and constraining a multibillion-dollar industry on California’s roadways,” according to Epstein, those areas will particular areas of concern for state regulators.

Track-and-Trace Advent
Bedeviled by Crude Communication

Courtesy of Getty Images

On the year’s second day, the state’s cannabis track-and-trace system, CCCT, went into effect. The launch couldn’t have been softer, as only 100 businesses had permanent licenses and were required to be part of the system. As more companies receive [are expected to come about CCCT, some of their leaders are reporting confusion about how to run the software that powers the system.

  • Growers and sellers are reportedly worried about CCCT mandated bar codes which potentially could cover government warnings and other product information found on packaging.
  • In the information vacuum, whispers are growing louder, particularly where doing business with companies not yet annually licensed and on CCCT is concerned. One Northern California retailer told Marijuana Business Daily that his POS software rep told him “not to transfer data and other information toMetrc (the software) until it’s clear whether annual licensees will be able to transact with temporary licensees.”


  1. By now, many know that Senate Bill 67 would avert the pending licensing catastrophe, allowing the plethora of companies with expiring temporary licenses to be reinstated through the following summer. But did you know how the licensing issue made its way to Sacramento?
  2. In its latest newsletter, the L.A. Cannabis Regulations Department announced its Phase 3 application makeover plans. Cannabis Regulations will begin processing 100 stores which “have been pre-verified as Tier 1 or Tier 2 social equity applicants" who have secured property and otherwise met qualification requirements.
  3. On Tuesday, the president of Mexico joined the political leaders of Switzerland and Columbia in publishing an op-ed that calls for governments to take control of the drug market.

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Note: It’s the Re-Mix
for ‘I Got 5 on it’
that’s a Mary Jane Classic

Courtesy of Getty Images

If the track doesn’t have “Forty Water” -- pictured above! -- Richie Rich and Shock G on it, then it’s not the right one.

WeedWeek California adores the old school, and that mean's there’s no list of influential pot songs that doesn’t include John Prine’s enduring “Illegal Smile.” But Complex’s compilation of influential Mary Jane jams is otherwise tight. “I Got 5 on It” tops all mentions.

  • As its featured position in the roll out for Jordan Peele’s “US” indicates, the 1995 Luniz spooky-sounding summer single has grown in esteem as the decades roll on. Upon its release, “I Got 5 on it” -- meaning to chip in five bucks on a dime bag -- peaked at 28 on the U.S. Singles chart.
  • Afroman's "Because I Got High" may have helped normalize cannabis, but it will never be a quality song.
  • Complex makes a point of reminding its young readership that "From Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway to Rihanna and Lady Gaga, the list of artists who have aided in promoting a healthy relationship with marijuana is expansive and ever-growing."

The Day LA’s
Most Famous Sign

Forty-nine minutes into last week's episode of The Boardroom podcast, surfboard designer and Hollywood Hills native Steve Brom recounts how he and his cadre of art friends converted their 55-feet high, world-famous neighborhood sign into a impossible-to-ignore symbol of coming marijuana liberation. The city opened their eyes to it on 1977’s first day.

  • Brom was 26 on New Year’s Eve in 1976. “It was a tough time for people who liked to smoke marijuana,” he says. The next day legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown reducing the penalty for marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor went into effect. “Still illegal,” he says. “It was a big deal.
  • To commemorate the change, they decided on altering the sign. A month of preparation helped them change the O’s into E’s by using two white and two black curtains, strategically arranged. “It was an idea that was just begging to happen,” Brom said.
  • The press covered the New Year’s makeover extensively. Brom’s mother reluctantly, he says, clipped the front-page L.A. Times photograph.


  1. Writing from Barcelona, where he’s hosting the ICBC conference, Ngaio Bealum reports that Cali weed is still popular in Spain, but he didn’t travel such a long way to smoke that stuff. SACRAMENTO NEWS & REVEW
  2. LA’s own Alex Halperin asked if Legal Weed Beat the Free Market?

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