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Have Job Losses 
Become Epidemic?

Getty Images

This week’s announcement of job cuts at distributor Flow Kana (a WeedWeek advertiser) sent shockwaves through Humboldt County. The layoffs came in the wake of similar bad news from Grupo Flor and Cannacraft days earlier. Tally up earlier highly-publicized pink slips, and what’s afoot more than qualifies as an unsexy industry trend.

Then on Friday MedMen announced layoffs of its own.
Press Release

In the wake of cutting his company’s workforce, Flow Kana CEO Michael Steinmetz called the industry’s current shedding of positions “an epidemic.” 
Sacramento Bee/Redheaded Blackbelt/ MJBiz

  • Predictably, Steinmetz blamed regulatory problems. However, he also suggested that the industry should adopt a tiered system, a la the beer biz. “With craft beer, a small producer pays a smaller tax,” he said. Presently, weed growers pay about $150 per pound in taxation “whether the pound is sold at $200 or $2,000.”
  • Beyond the illicit market’s appeals of low-cost and easy access, California businesses are hampered by scarcity. Only one licensed REC retailer exists for every 34,256 Californians 21 and older, according to a BDS Analytics/ArcView Market Research survey.
  • Flow Kana’s CEO also called for creating an easier path to go legit for non-compliant growers, since if they started paying taxes the state would be better off.


Cali Wants to Know
How Much You Consume

Photo by Grav on Unsplash

Researchers are trying to quantify the amount of cannabis that the average resident user consumes, each day. The goal is to determine more accurate safety levels for pesticides.
Capital Public Radio 

  • Pesticide levels in cannabis have been on the Department of Pesticide Regulation's radar since REC went legal in 2016. Unlike fruits and vegetables, no federal pesticide guidelines exist for cannabis. 
  • If California consumes significantly more cannabis than initially thought, the Pesticide Regulation department might reduce how much growers can use, spokesperson Charlotte Fadipe said.
  • Beginning in January, Department of Pesticide Regulation and Sacramento State researchers will set up tables at dispensaries and ask volunteers questions about their marijuana use. A $20 gift card will be offered for anonymously sharing their daily weed habits. (Some of you do similar sharing on social media for no tangible compensation at all.)

Quick Hit

  1. The slow tilt toward the majority of municipalities participating in REC is coming, town by town. First, San Luis Obispo joined Morro Bay and Grover Beach in permitting REC businesses. And it's not just coastal towns. Manteca in San Joaquin County might be in as well. Does that boost your optimism?
    The Cuestonian/Manteca Bulletin

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Golden State Hemp Must
Conform to Match Feds

Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash

In anticipation of the state submitting its hemp production plan to the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture, Gov. Newsom signed SB-153 last month, a stab at making California hemp law as restrictive as present federal policy. 

Unfortunately, on a few critical issues the conflict between existing federal policy and state law is significant enough that waiting for the USDA could be problematic.  
Canna Law Blog

  • In terms of hemp testing times, the USDA is requiring that samples be taken “within 15 days prior to the anticipated harvest.” Meanwhile, SB-153’s language calls for tests to happen “no more than 30 days before harvest.”  
  • General hemp testing has another conflict. The new California legislation only demands testing for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. Present USDA regulations are asking for “total THC“ tests. That’s “the molar sum” of delta-9 THC and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.
  • The USDA is operating under interim rules that will remain in place for about another year. 

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We publish three free newsletters: 1) WeedWeek by founder Alex Halperin, 2) WeedWeek California by Donnell Alexander and 3)WeedWeek Canada by Jesse Staniforth, as well as theWeedWeek Podcast and original reporting. The original WeedWeek newsletter has 11,000 subscribers.

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Can Co-Ops Succeed Where
Social Equity Has Struggled?

Photo by Allyson Weislogel on Unsplash

Last week Hood Incubator founder
Lanese Martin spoke on cannabis equity at the 2019 Reform conference in St. Louis. And where conversation might have become typically bogged down in the perceived failures of our state’s equity implementation, the talk took a turn when Emily Ramos, co-founder of the New York-based ¡High Mi Madre!’ enthusiastically endorsed worker co-operatives.

  • While producer co-ops and consumer co-ops have important distinctions, they share status as businesses where employees and workers own an equal part of the business, share in revenues or profits, and vote on how the business is run.
  • Of the glacial movement to embrace co-ops among cannabis entrepreneurs in her state, Martin observed, “It turns out that folks would rather be the CEO of a dollar than the co-owner of one thousand dollars.

Quick Hit

  1. Cali MCs such as Snoop Dogg and B-Real taught hip-hop how to make art out of selling weed. Now, hip hop is paying it forward with insights on the legit cannabiz.

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Kern County's Cannabis Oasis

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You can’t do REC business within the parts of Kern designated as county. In the city of Bakersfield cannabis is prohibited. But as our laws allow municipalities to make their own cannabis laws, tiny California City has invested in production, retail and delivery to become a vertically-integrated opportunity zone.

  • A town of just under 14,000 nestled between Sequoias National Park and Angeles National Forest, California City has approved 20 cannabis businesses since the spring.
  • “It’s not like we really wanted to be a marijuana hub. But just about every other industry gave us the big middle finger,” said Mayor Chuck McGuire.

Quick Hit

  1. A lawsuit has resulted from those 10M hemp plants destroyed by Kern County Sheriffs.  The basis for this litigation is a loophole in the 2014 Farm Bill covering “hot hemp.”
    Hemp Gazette


Disability Activist
Sues High Times 

Rena Wyman/Instagram

It’s been an eventful week for High Times. Two days after the legacy brand celebrated 50 influential women in legal cannabis, it and Cal Expo had a judgement claim filed against them by a Willows woman who last month settled her 2018 lawsuit over an injury she suffered at a 2017 Cannabis Cup event in Sacramento.

The litigant says what happened to her is part of a High Times pattern of neglect.

  • “I have waited over a year to have my medical bills paid, to have the damage repaired. I shouldn't have to wait for anymore cannabis cups to be handed out, or fancy dinners to be served” Rena Wyman said on her Instagram page. 
  • Wyman, who uses a wheelchair, posted a copy of the judgment claim's top page, dated November 14. She filed it to enforce payment of a settlement she says was reached at the end of September.
  • “It's genuinely a sad day when you have to expend the time, energy and money filing a motion for judgment to enforce a federal civil rights case against a company that touts multimillion-dollar revenues, and shouts their self inflated philanthropy from every rooftop."
  • In a Friday email to WeedWeek Wyman wrote that "hightimes has made no attempt to honor their obligations" and that "hightimes has a pattern of discrimination towards the disability community."
  • High Times executive chairman Adam Levin did not respond to a Friday evening request for comment.

Quick Hit

  1. Harborside will be the site of a pop-up for Beyond Brands’ Mood 33. The maker of infused tonics entered a distribution and merchandise deal with Caliva this summer. 
    The Cannabist/BevNet


STIIIZy's James Kim:
Warrior on Two Fronts

Getty Images

The cannabis industry is tough, but few entrepreneurs have had an experience as intense as that of STIIIZY CEO co-founder and managing director James Kim, who at 18 did an Iraq tour of duty with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

The L.A. native’s difficulties reassimilating into American society were smoothed by cannabis, which led him to build his lifestlye brand, which is part of the vertically-integrated  Shryne Group. And that’s only the beginning of Kim’s work on behalf of his brothers and sisters.
Green Entrepreneur 

  • Throughout the month STIIZY will send 20% of each camo battery sale to the non-profit  Battle Brothers Foundation, in support of its veterans disability programming.
  • Also in November, vets who go into retail stores that carry STIIIZY and show a veteran’s ID card (or DD214 documentation) will receive a limited-edition twill hat while supplies last. 
  • The name STIIIZY is based on the hip hop slang “steez.” Kim’s spin on the word was to replace its ‘e’s’ with three ‘I’s’, for: Inspire, Innovate and Influence. 


Vegas Dispensary Big Shots in Slander Suit

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

A lawsuit filed in Clark County, Nev. on November 4, alleges that the former owner of The Apothecary Shoppe embarked upon a campaign of jealous slander. The intention of the discourse, the suit states, was to financially harm the litigant.

Bringing the suit against Dr. Nick Spirtos is Essence founder Armen Yemenidjian, a one-time casino exec who is involved with three Nevada dispensaries.
Nevada Independent

  • Yemenidjian alleges that The Apothecary Shoppe Owner accused him of criminal activity to other people, at Gov. Steve Sisolak’s inaugural ball. His suit states that Assembly Speaker John Oceguera was among those present when the accusations were made. 
  • Dr. Spirtos spoke ill of Yemenidjian, “because [the latter] has proven to be one of the most successful businessmen in the legal cannabis business,” according to the complaint. “Rather than own his failures, Spirtos has resorted to smearing and spreading lies against others to harm their existing and future business opportunities.” Yemenidjian won eight dispensary licenses in 2018 and is with a company that was acquired by GTI for $290M.
  • Spirtos's lawyer did not immediately respond to the Nevada Independent's requests for comment.


The Most Expensive 
Edible in NBA History

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

A very unfunny thing happened to Dion Waiters on the way to…  well, not the Forum; no one’s playing NBA ball there presently. In fact, the cannabis enthusiast’s worst nightmare occurred on a Phoenix to L.A. flight when he experienced an edible kick in… and kick in and kick in... Until Waiters, a mercurial talent presently under contract with the Miami Heat, had to be removed from the plane.
Miami Herald

  • Waiters’ has been suspended for 10 games without pay and his future in Miami is in doubt. The suspension makes the noted scorer ineligible for a bonus worth more than $1M.
  • The incident illustrates just one of the difficulties resulting from American sports leagues having insufficient cannabis policies. This week, retired NBA champion Matt Barnes told WeedWeek he’s begun working with UCLA to improve sports league’s cannabis policies.


Not True that Legal Weeds Re-Up Is a Horror Series

Getty Images

Weeds, the ground-breaking Showtime series starring Mary-Louise Parker, is coming back, minus creator Jenji Kohan. This time the comedy will be executive-produced by Parker and be developed and produced by Starz and Lionsgate Television, respectively.

  • The series first aired in 2005, with 100 episodes dropping before its 2012 conclusion. The new iteration picks up with Parker’s family business adjusting to realities of the REC era. 

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