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Correction: In last week's California newsletter we wrote: "Over the next two months, more than 1,600 eligible applicants will compete for 100 new retail permits from the City of Los Angeles." In fact, that window only remains until Tuesday, at 10 a.m. We regret the error.

1

Anti-Vape Backlash
Is the True Crisis

Getty Images

Six people have died and 450 people have been hospitalized. That's undeniably bad. What makes the current outbreak of lung-related sickness a crisis for readers of this newsletter is the potential hit to the legitimate cannabis industry.

While California has so far shown restraint in cracking down, fallout can come from all directions. Amazon has removed devices which can be made into counterfeit vapes.
Guardian/Cal Matters/Minnesota Public Radio

  • The ripple effect has already been felt among legislators in critical Eastern states.
  • Minnesota Public Radio's found a trove of products for making illicit market weed look legit, ranging "from packaging materials for the Exotic Carts brand of marijuana oil cartridges to bulk 'California compliant' stickers indicating the object to which the labels are affixed is legal under the state’s marijuana law." It's a big-ol' underground world out there. Amazon didn't respond to MPR's request for comments "on how it regulates these products or offer a reason for their removal."
  • WeedWeek has followed the vaping narrative since David Downs broke the story. Many of you first read about it here. As the shockwaves move across the country and back again, it's no time for Monday Morning Quarterbacking. But here's some anyway: If the pot press had been more consistent in labeling the crisis an illicit pen crisis — as Downs did — the traditional press's urge-to-panic would have been at least slowed.
  • As far as we're aware, only one of the deceased, in Oregon, is known to have shopped at a licensed dispensary.

Quick Hit

  1. Did you hear the story from not-so-long-ago about the county Planning and Building Department inspector who allegedly received over $100,000 for his promises to expedite permit approvals and was arrested and charged with bribery? No? Well, that California corruption tale and many many others are here, illustrating why the FBI is about to get busy with weed in politics.
    Candid Chronicle

2

That State Banking Bill Expected to Become Law? Oh, it's Dead.

Photo by Michael on Unsplash

In other profoundly shitty news, the roundly-supported bill that would have allowed participants in the cannabis industry to pay taxes, rent, and other expenses via state-run was uncermoniously moved to the legislature's "Inactive" file.

Previously, the bill's passage had appeared a lock.
Sacramento Business Journal

  • The legislation authored by Bob Hertzberg (D) died unexpectedly and without explanation. In a press release, the Van Nuys legislator said, “If we’re going to do this, we have to do it right.” The statement contained nary a mention of what went wrong.
  • Meanwhile, our largely cash and carry dispensaries seem to be among Cali criminals favorite targets.

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3

Rise and Shine: Illegal L.A.Dispensaries
Are In Decline

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

One need not be a livid libertarian in order to have found the rollout of California’s REC program highly unacceptable. And there's a school of quasi-paradoxical thought that insists state regulation is big enough a force to be the illcit market's prime driver.

But hey, good news: The number of illegal Los Angeles County dispensaries is for the first time in decline. That's not just a benchmark, it's a report of a win in a week when one was desperately needed.
Cannabis Wire

  • The news came on Sept. 5, in a county Public Health Department webcast. Will Nicholas, director of the department’s Center for Health Impact Evaluation, said that since January of last year the number of unlicensed shops has decreased while the number of licensed retailers is trending upward.
  • L.A. County's tipping-point announcement coincides with news that Governor Newsom might fine Weedmaps for its, er... loyal relationship with the unregulated market.

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4

Suit Calls Harvest's
Pasadena Application Dishonest

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

A federal lawsuit filed by Westlake Village-based Atrium alleges rival Harvest lied on its application for licensing in the Pasadena.

Atrium's central complaint is that while the application says Harvest is "100 percent" owned by Steve White, Harvest's CEO, in fact Harvest is a publicly-traded, Arizona-based company with 1,580 employees — information Atrium says wasn't part of Harvest's application.
Pasadena Now

  • "[D]espite claiming 100 percent ownership of Harvest, there was no disclosure submitted for Mr. White," reads the complaint. Also alleged is that other company officers were omitted from the document.
  • Both Harvest and the City of Pasadena are named in the suit, as Atrium charge's the city's officials of “unjustly favoring” Harvest's licensing effort and in the process harming Atrium, one of six finalists for the license.
  • Harvest had no comment other than that it will defend itself "vigorously."

5

Will Pot Bucks Fix Failing Monterey Census?

Monterey County, which has one of the state's hardest to count populations, could see $300,000 in cannabis tax revenue added to its census budget. This could remedy to a problem that has stymied Monterey County for ages.
Monterey Herald

  • If approved on Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, this funding would be added to an approved $402,000 from the state for next year's local census effort.
  • Board chairman John Phillips noted that the county’s population is rated as the state’s seventh hardest to count. It has the state’s highest percentage of non-citizens and many residents without reliable Internet access where the census will be almost entirely conducted for the first time. According to the Public Policy Institute, about 22% of Monterey residents are not citizens.

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6

Are Party Busses
Done in Cali?

Courtesy of Getty Images

On Thursday, legislation was sent to Governor Newsom that would ban the party busses that have boosted cannabis tourism.
L.A. Times

  • The bill was originally submitted as an aternative to legislation that would have allowed cannabis use in charter buses — as long as everyone aboard was over 21 and the driver compartment was shunted away from the smoking area.
  • Predictably, critics such as Kevin Sabet lauded the decsion as industry boosters decried it. The legislation “runs counter to the will of California voters when they overwhelmingly approved Proposition 64,” said Lindsey Robinson, Executive Director of the California Cannabis Industry Association.
  • The governor’s office isn't sharing his thoughts the future of party busses.

7

Facility Housing Grow
Owned by Congressman

Photo by Drew Taylor on Unsplash

An illegal pot grow in the Stanislaus County town of Turlock is property of an LLC jointly owned by former Republican Congressman Jeff Denham.
Modesto Bee

  • Five people were arrested and 4,000 plants were seized on Wednesday from a 50,000-square-foot building, which happens to be 75 feet from Denham Plastics. The two structures share a common gate.
  • Turlock attorney Michael Warda said Denham Plastics workers had no indication of any alleged illegal activity.

8

Even The Sagebrush State Is Prime for Suit

Photo by Robby McCullough on Unsplash

One need not be a purveyor of WeedWeek newsletters to know that cannabis corruption in politics is poised to be the biggest problem this side of vape pens. The feds have their ears open.

But Nevada? Who ever expected to hear The C-Word hurled at that perfectly conservative and moderate of weed markets.
Nevada Independent

  • The suit, filed by a group of companies denied licenses, against the state and a long list of companies which have and were denied licenses is "engaging in a cover-up of the rampant illegality and corruption that infected the license application process for the recreational Dispensaries.”
  • Specifically, the plainiffs say that the Nevada marijuana program's top executive was offered jobs by companies that were awarded licenses.
  • Following the lawsuit, the state tax department put a regulator on leave but did not comment further.

9

Berkeley's Oldest Dispensary Giving Away $1M

Photo by Vladimir Solomyani on Unsplash

To celebrate 20 years of continuous operation Berkeley Patients Group pledged to give a total of $1M to 10 non-profits over the next 10 years.
Press Release

  • “We’ve weathered countless storms to get to where we are today and are proud of what we’ve accomplished," said Étienne Fontán, co-founder and vice president of Berkeley Patients Group, "from winning a historic battle against the federal government, to being honored with the ‘Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition’ by US Congresswoman Barbara Lee.”
  • Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said Berkeley Patients Group is more an institution than a dispensary.

10

'Grandma's Garden' Book
Bridges a Critical Gap

California is rife with people who are excellent at talking about weed. But a communicator who's interested in talking to children about weed? Now that's an elusive voice.

Susan Soares, founder of Cannabis Awareness Research and Economics, is one of those voices. Her new publication What's Growing in Grandma's Gardeen? is an illustrated children's book that can't help but make adults better at The Talk.
SF Evergreen

  • “It’s not all magic and unicorns but it’s a pretty fabulous plant,” Soares says. “For most children, it would be better for them to wait until their brains are developed before they start consuming it. What’s Growing in Grandma’s Garden is a conversation starter, you can keep it light or get as deep into it as you want.”

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