Pot Bandwagon Arrives in DC

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While mainstream chroniclers of politics continue to marvel at the mere presence of D.C.'s Cannabis Caucus, an unprecedented number of bills with the words "marijuana" and "hemp" in them are emerging from both Sacramento and Washington D.C.

  • Sacramento's Assembly and Senate are looking at 58 cannabis-related bills. AB 37 would offset the federal 280E tax burden. AB 953 would let companies pay state and local taxes in cryptocurrency.
  • The previous week Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) presented The Marijuana Justice Act with Cannabis Caucus co-chair Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ro Kanna (D-CA). More far reaching than the House bill, Booker's proposed law would end federal prohibition and "repair the damage caused by reinvesting in those communities that have been most harmed by the War on Drugs."
  • In addition to four Senate co-sponsors who are running for President, Booker's bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
  • Also making waves in Congress is the Secure and Fair Enforcement of Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act). It would allow licensed cannabis businesses to legally engage with financial institutions. “Allowing tightly regulated marijuana businesses the ability to access the banking system will help reduce the threat of crime, robbery and assault in our communities and keep the cash out of cartels,” said sponsor Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo).

FDA Chief's Surprise Resignation Leaves Hemp's Status Up in the Air

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Weeks after telling the public that the federal Food and Drug Administration would hold an April meeting that would clarify the government's position on CBD, department head Dr. Scott Gottleib quit his post.

  • In December, the Farm Bill removed hemp and CBD from the Controlled Substances Act. Gottleib issued a statement days later that stifled further movement. Several members of Congress had pressured the doctor and venture capitalist to establish rules before Gottleib resigned in order to "spend more time with his family."
  • On Wednesday the USDA will hold a webinar that might help sort things out. Public comment will be both solicited and collected.

BCC to Let Loose
Cannabis Equity Funds,

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In an achingly long-awaited move, the Bureau of Cannabis Control announced that $10M will be available to qualifying city and county social equity programs. While the legal-weed social equity concept has swiftly traveled from its Oakland birthplace to Boston, application in its home state has been slow, harming the entrepreneurs it was supposed to benefit.

Applications are due by April 1.

  • In a March 1 press release, the state said eligible applicants who apply on time will receive a minimum grant of 100,000.
  • The funding will be awarded by June 30.


  1. Over the past 14 months, Los Angeles has granted approval to 178 retail and non-retail applicant. A new phase of L.A. REC licensing, Phase 3, is about to happen. Should the rules be amended in a way that brings greater transparency to the process?
  1. San Diego's new underage-use amendment takes aim at those who offer a consumption environment to those too young to legally have weed.
  2. Sued by the ACLU, the City of Fontana rolled back restrictions on its home growing laws.

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Building on Innovations
Founded by the Illicit Market

Photo by David Cristian on Unsplash

Flow Kana CEO Mark Steinmetz thinks California has an unheralded advantage toward becoming the planetary marijuana industry leader: "The unique ecosystem that prohibition created." The off-grid growers in the Cali hills, of whom Steinmetz speaks, created a sustainable lifestyle that includes progressive approaches to farming and ownership. Our non-conforming farmers drive 80% of the national market.

The year has thusfar been marked by crackdowns on the non-compliant. What about the pioneering principles of farming that we would miss if those grows become gone?

  • "It's unfortunate to see the same sort of mono-cropping, large-scale agriculture, where you're putting one strain -- like wheat and corn and soy -- and monocropping fields. That's happening in cannabis right now," Steinmetz said.
  • Flow Kana last month closed a $125M funding round, powered by Manhattan-based Gotham Green Partners.
  • Steinmetz speaks of a coming era of sustainability, not just for cannabis, but for all domestic agriculture. "We just have to find a way to organize it, operationalize it, streamline it, make it more efficient, and then find a way to take it to market," he said.
  • Meanwhile, a 2019 map shows that the low-hanging fruit of crackdown culture lay in some of the state's poorest neighborhoods.
  • And since pot shops never invented anything great, we might as well turn the lights off on 'em, right?

Like Water into Wine,
But with Weed and Science
(and Yeast)

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A UC Berkeley research team revealed yeast engineered to make cannabinoids from a sugar called galactose.

The Keasling Lab team synthesized naturally-occurring cannabinoids and cannabinoid analogues. The study produced a wide range of cannabinoids, many of which only occur in the marijuana plant in tiny amounts.

  • "The process of cannabinoid synthesis in this study involved inserting genes in yeast which encoded the enzymes to produce the cannabinoids." The simple sugar glactose is used to yield the cannabinoids and is more cost effective at cannabinoid extraction than farming the plant.
  • One team member said some of the lesser known cannabinoids may make excellent therapies. Another potential benefit is reducing the environmental impacts of mass cannabis production.
  • The university inked a licensing agreement with the fermentation company Demetrix.

We're Number One!
(In What We Pay for Pot)

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It's not even close. Cali is the single most expensive state in which to cop bud legally. You sorta knew it in your gut, but now Headset is offering numbers that bear out the visceral sense of overspending, and some more data.

  • The average item price in a legal California dispensary is $30.90. Nevada's price is $26.94, Colorado $23.95. and Washington state's is $15.33 per item. Prices tend to fall as state production improves, according to the report.
  • Despite its relatively high item price, Colorado has the most affordable flower. A gram in Colorado costs in $4.60. In Washington it's $4.90. Californians pay -- gulp -- $11.60 per gram. REC in the Golden State also costs approximately twice what the state's illicit market charges.
  • When REC arrived in 2018, grams made up 40 % of the market. By December, eighths made up the bulk of flower sold here. Ounces have doubled in popularity.


  1. Harvest is such a great word. Hard to imagine it as a bad thing? Tell that to San Francisco-based Harvest and Arizona-based Harvest, tweo who are facing off in court to see who keeps the name.
  1. Here is what the struggles of a mom-&-pop business -- special needs advocates -- looks like as it struggles with tax burdens caused by Section 280E.
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The NHL Lets Players Use THC. Where Does Your Favorite
Pro Sports League Stand?

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Where Do the Sports Leagues Stand on Pot here

  • The only North American sports leagues that don't ban cannabis use are the National Hockey League and Ice Cube's novelty-esque Big 3 basketball league. NHL alumni this week announced that it will partner with with Canopy Growth in studying the potential effects of cannabinioids on head injuries.
  • While Major League Baseball plays a kind of blind-eye game -- withholding weed from minor leaguers -- the NBA plays a more cosmopolitan version of it, winking and nudging when players obviously take part in the culture. Of failed drug tests, Commissioner Adam Silver says, "The team in the first instance isn’t even informed."
  • The NFL has a complete ban on cannabis, an issue that's certain to come up with its labor agreement is renegotiated in 2020. Players can wait the ban out. Or, like David Irving of the Dallas Cowboys, athletes can simply walk off into the sunset, smokin'.

You Have a Cold. Should
You Really Be Smoking?

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It's not as ridiculous as it sounds. Some people, especially MED patients who need weed, grapple with this issue all winter. One writer dove deep into the issue, armed with the belief that "Whenever the body doesn’t produce enough internal endocannabinoids, the immune system goes haywire."

There's not much surprise in the affirmative nature of the findings. But the details are pretty compelling.

  • With correct dosage, CBD -- an anti-inflamatory agent -- can reduce joint and muscle pain as well as improve breathing.
  • Research from the late 20th century indicates that intraveneously administered THC can ease artificially-induced coughing. So there's that.

Quick Hit

Reverend James Young Phan operates Southern California's Hundred Harmonies Church, a marijuana-based religion. Law enforcement raided Hundred Harmonies, confiscating more than $30,000 in cannabis. Are churches like this legitimate faith-based institutions, a significant factor in the state's tax shortfall, neither or both?
Amanda Chicago Lewis reports from the pews.

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