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As Vape Panic Widens, Industry Holds its Own

Kevin Freyer/ Getty Images

Americans who had never even conceptualized vaporizing cannabis now have in mind vaping as a a source of deadly lung disease. All at once a cannabis tragedy, a P.R. crisis, and a call to regulate, the past month has been one like no other, legal weed or otherwise.

Erring on the side of caution is the order of this season for cannabis businesses as researchers attempt to discern what's causing the vaping-related illness which has killed at least 12 and sickened hundreds.
Los Angeles Times

  • Citing the outbreak's unknown factors and the uncertainty of the exact cause, acting Public Health Director Dr. Charity Dean, said, “We are seeing something that we have not seen before."
  • Dr. Charity Dean, California's acting public health director, said, “We are seeing something that we have not seen before."
  • The volume of journalism devoted to vaping over the past few weeks feels unprecedented. Leading the way in this week’s crisis — business as much as health — coverage, Leafly followed a vape pen. Or, they gave it a really solid effort, but got hung up along the way. "Along its journey each vape cartridge—also known as a cart—may pick up lead (the toxic heavy metal), pesticides, unsafe additives like vitamin E oil, and the residual solvent butane. Each of these ingredients can cause lung injury. As many as 50 million of these tainted carts may currently be circulating in the United States.” No way is that last sentence true.
  • Through the week, uncertainty has surrounded each prounouncement of causes, with vitamin E leading at the week’s start, and cyanide coming up fast on Friday. Vape sales have fallen, and the overall impact seems mixed

Quick Hit

  1. Expungement Week is closing, and if you don't think this is among contemporary pot's most important weeks you've probably never done time for holding that thing so many now make a living pushing legally.
    Off the Record


D.C. Banking Win Has West Coast Roots

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

News of the SAFE Banking Act's passage in the U.S. House was a cause for celebration. The roots of the win, however, lie in local heroes who lobbied on behalf of the bill in states like California, Nevada, and Oregon.
Cannabis Wire

  • Individual counties and groups like the Rural County Representatives of California were active up through the vote. Sean Quincey, Humboldt County's Deputy County Administrative Officer said his county focused on the STATES Act as well as the SAFE Banking Act.
  • Linsey Dale, an Imperial County spokesperson, said Imperial plans to urge Congress and federal regulators to come up with rules legalizing hemp-derived CBD.
  • Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) were among the SAFE celebrants in Congress who tweeted victoriously after the winning vote.

Quick Hit

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For Capitol Weed, 2019 Is Win Some, Lose Some 

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

Calling the year a mixed legislative bag, chief lobbyist of the California Cannabis Industry Association Amy Jenkins pointed to social equity funding go-aheads and the defeat of AB 1530, which overturned local delivery restrictions, as major legislative wins.
MJBiz Daily

  • California did not reach goals in industry tax relief or more broad business licensing. Perhaps most disappointing, cannabis banking legislation was yanked at the last pre-vote moment
  • "I would be more disappointed except for the fact that we do have commitments from the (Newsom) administration to continue to work through these issues that CCIA deems to be very significant priorities for the industry,” Jenkins said. Six passed bills await the Governor’s signature, including SB 1529, a requirement that vaping devices display quarter-inch stickers denoting certified status.

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Palm Springs Challengers,
United in Tax Opposition 

Courtesy of the New York Public Library

The Coachella Valley Cannabis Action Network hosted a forum on legal weed policy for Palm Springs City Council candidates. Two years after Palm Springs voted to allow REC businesses, the evening yielded enough forceful critiques to indicate one point of agreement: Taxes are too high.

The candidates only disagreed on who is being victimized more egregiously. 
Desert Sun

  • Retired businessman Les Young said MED and not “the fun stuff” is being disproportiately used by seniors and the ill and that consumer taxes should reflect that.
  • Young is one of three candidates to propose tax reductions for cultivation, manufacturing and sales. Mayor Pro Tem Geoff Kors was the sole defender of present policies. Kors said lowering taxes could lead to "a race to the bottom."

Quick Hit

  1. The long-awated opening of Lowell Cafe is just days away. On Monday, we’ll have Chef Andrea Drummer as a guest on our podcast. The interview is quite savory and should hold you through


Ask Not for Whom the 
Water Boards' Tweet Tolls

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

The California Water Boards' tweeted that illegal growers in receipt of their letters should respond “by using our Cannabis Compliance Response Portal.”  The 270 growers suspected of farming illegally are not in a good place.
MJ Business Daily

  • The letter indicates that the recipient is under suspicion then adds, “However, there is no record of any person associated with this property having enrolled in the State Water Board’s Cannabis Cultivation Program.” 
  • Sent to at least 270 properties in Trinity, Humboldt, and Menocino Counties, the letters warn that the alleged free market practictioners could face fines or lose any existing state cannabis cultivation permits.


SD Suburb Votes to 
Let Black Go Legit

The east side San Diego suburb of La Mesa is only eight percent black. So not many are likely to complain about how it refers to its illicit market. What does preoccupy locals and watchers from all over around the state is that the new laws of La Mesa — which will open the doors for now-illicit dispensaries — might just foreshadow the future of progressive cannabis policy. 
NBC San Diego

  • Law enforcement reportedly shut down 26 illegal dispensaries in the suburb last year. Presently 17 dispensary owners have applied for licenses, and all could be approved in an effort to kill the local illegal dispensary market. 
  • A number of earlier applicants are likely to be leapfrogged. “It could be the Wild Wild West here in La Mesa,” said Scott McDerrmott, owner of the San Diego State-adjacent town’s sole dispensary, to the surprise of no one.


SB 34 Should Offer Tax Relief to MED Non-Profits

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

In permitting cannabis to be taxed, Prop. 64 hurt MED consumers and the non-profit cannabis clubs that supported them. Senator Scott Weiner has a bill that would eliminate taxes for those who distribute marijuana compassionately. Patients would be the ultimate beneficiaries.
KCBS Radio

  • Weiner introduced the bill last year, but Gov. Brown didn’t sign it. Gov. Newsom has until October 13 to do so.

Quick Hit

  1. On Tuesday in Hollywood, Veterans Cannabis Group founder Aaron Augustis, Weed for Warriors Project founder Sean Kiernan, and Operation E.V.A.C. founder Ryan Miller joined State Treasurer Fiona Ma and Weedmaps Chief Operating Officer Steven Jung to discuss both the benefits of MED and the barriers to accessing.


Farflung Couple 
Farmed in Siskyou

Should you ever doubt that people from all over Earth travel to Northern California for the purpose of growing weed, consider the story of two arrivals from Minnesota who were busted way up in Siskyou County for their illegal grow: Cheng Vang and Yia Xiong.

  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife searched properties in the Klamath River Country Estates area associated with Vang and Xiong and found nearly 300 marijuana plants.
  • The plants were, of course, destroyed. The couple was given three years probation and prohibited from growing cannabis.


John Legend Now Offers More than Music to Make You Sleepy

David Livingston / Getty Images

Super-famous singer John Legend has partnered with San Mateo’s CBD company  PLUS . Legend didn’t say that their aim is to offer “a consistent and precisely-dosed gummy using high-quality extracts,” but the PLUS CEO did.
Black Enterprise

  • PLUS is also partnering with global sleep company Casper Sleep Inc. (“Casper”) to introduce its melatonin- and CBD-infused SLEEP product.  A Casper spokesperson said the company is “exploring new ways to improve sleep.”


NE Homegrow Letter
Turns South Park Fodder

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Comedy Central series South Park has been having fun at the expense of MedMen all year. The time South Park adapts a real-world, Northeast U.S. anti-home grow storyline from earlier in the year. That story involved Columbia Care, Etain, PharmaCann, The Botanist, Acreage NY, Vireo Health and MedMen to mock the Culver City-based company and deepen its own Tegrity Farms storyline.

MedMen reportedly has seven percent of the state’s market share, so limited tears here for those cats. 
Marijuana Moment

  • "When you grow your own pot, you’re taking weed out of my children’s mouths,” says perennial scene-stealing character Stan Marsh. And in this single line, a fictional character distilled the overarching mindset of competitive pot in 2019.

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