Representative Blumenauer provides a great overview here on the current political climate regarding opioids and cannabis. The Trump Administration claims to be working on solutions for the opioid crisis but seems too blinded by the stigma of cannabis to consider it as a viable solution. Research increasingly shows cannabis is at least a partial solution for opioid addiction, but the federal government remains immovable on cannabis.

We have to keep pushing until the politicians get on board.

Things were not perfect for the cannabis industry under the Obama Administration and Eric Holder and the Cole Memo (to which Holder is referring above), but they certainly were better than Jeff Sessions’ odd and obsessive loathing of cannabis.

But instead of our getting all nostalgic, we just need to keep fighting. The populace and the numbers are on our side and we will win in the end. You agree, right?

Republican Senator Gardner makes a good point. The small amount of research the federal government has permitted has shown many ways cannabis is medically useful, yet barriers to research continue. Gardner is one of several senators who support the Marijuana Effective Drug Studies (MEDS) Act to remove barriers to cannabis research.

It would be helpful for everyone. It’s simple and it’s necessary. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to medicine and health.

California Cannabis hearings
Attend your local california cannabis hearings

One of the first questions clients usually ask our California cannabis lawyers is “where can I operate or expand my cannabis business?” That is because even though Californians voted for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (a/k/a AUMA or Prop 64) California counties and cities are free to enact their own restrictions on cannabis businesses operating within their jurisdiction.

If you’ve been reading our California Cannabis Countdown series you know that to get a California State cannabis license you first need a license from your local city or county. Further complicating things is that prior to enactment of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act of 2015 (MCRSA), many cannabis businesses were operating in an unregulated gray market or with tacit approval from their local government because few jurisdictions had their own medical cannabis ordinances and permitting processes in place. When the MCRSA and AUMA passed, most local jurisdictions created their own licensing processes so as to be able to receive a portion of California’s cannabis licensing fees and taxes.

Last week I spoke to the Marin County Bar Association on cannabis ordinances in Marin County and its municipalities. Except for Fairfax, the rest of Marin is generally not friendly towards medical cannabis. If you’re asking why I’m not talking about adult-use cannabis it’s because you’ve got to crawl before you can walk and Marin’s still figuring out how to crawl when it comes to cannabis. Both Marin County and its cities are still contemplating whether to allow medical cannabis; adult use cannabis is most likely quite some time away.

When a California city or county is trying to decide whether to allow cannabis businesses within their jurisdiction, the first thing they do is hold public hearings, with notice of the hearing made online or in the local paper. If your local government has a relevant listserv, I recommend you sign up as that’s the easiest way to stay informed. Our California cannabis attorneys regularly attend public hearings to advocate for our clients and for the cannabis industry and here is our top five list of what you should do if you would like to see your jurisdiction adopt reasonable/favorable cannabis regulations:

  1. Show up. You know the old saying about how 80% of life is showing up? Well, if you want your local jurisdiction to adopt reasonable cannabis regulations you need to show up to these hearings and voice your support – in large numbers.
  2. Be reasonable. Talk to your neighbors and local businesses. Maybe you’ll find out that a dispensary will be heavily opposed but the community is open to manufacturing, testing, and deliveries.
  3. Know your facts. Your local councilman or supervisor probably has a full-time job; most are volunteers with family obligations and work deadlines. They don’t have time to delve into the weeds (pun intended) of the cannabis industry. They want to be informed so let them know what they can expect in tax revenue. How about crime statistics in similar localities? What percentage of local residents voted for Prop 64? They probably don’t have this information so provide it to them. Help them so they can help you.
  4. Parking and traffic. Besides parking garage owners, no one likes a shortage of public parking. If you’re hoping your jurisdiction adopts a dispensary ordinance make sure you address parking and traffic.
  5. SHOW UP! I mention it twice because it’s that important. Time and time again, we’ve seen local legislators get cold feet because naysayers show up to public hearings in full force while proponents stay at home. You need to be there to balance the scales.

The California state agencies that will issue licenses (Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Food and Agriculture, and Department of Public Health) can only do so if your local jurisdiction allows it. Don’t take for granted that your local legislators will allow cannabis businesses in your town. Activism has been a hallmark of the cannabis industry for a long time and if you want to see cannabis businesses (either medical or adult-use) in your jurisdiction of choice, it could very well be up to you to help achieve that.

Cannabis for opiumDr. Oz is correct to describe the status of medical marijuana in this country as hypocrisy. The Trump administration claims to want to fix the opioid epidemic and yet they refuse to loosen their grip on cannabis laws even just enough to permit further research. One need not support full cannabis legalization to support scientific research on cannabis; one simply needs to respect the opinions of over half the citizens of the country and the scientific data that already exists.

So, does the federal government really want to exhaust all possibilities to try to solve the opioid epidemic? It sure doesn’t seem like it.

Cannabis lawUtah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch proves again that seeing value in cannabis regulation is not a partisan issue. As he points out, the federal government’s lack of support for states’ rights and cannabis regulation hangs the states out to dry and leaves cannabis users without proper information on safety, dosing, and quality. Instead, the federal government continues to carry out practices that are out of date and, as Hatch says, do more harm than good.

It’s time for the federal government to step out of the way and let the states lead.

D’Amato is right, of course, and he is not the first to say this. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cannot rid himself of his anti-pot prejudices even though his holding on to them directly contradicts his previously held position supporting states’ rights. Supporting states rights means you believe the states (not the federal government) should decide on things like cannabis legalization, whether you like those decisions or not.

D’Amato’s quote highlights how cannabis is not a partisan issue as he belongs to the same political party as does Sessions. Methinks one of these two politicians is a hypocrite when it comes to pot. Can you guess which one?

 

California Cannabis

Representative Rohrabacher couldn’t be more right. It is destructive to have a government allegedly striving to solve the opioid crisis and yet at every turn tries to deny the usefulness of medical marijuana in accomplishing this. More than half the states have legalized medical cannabis and many have decriminalized or legalized recreational cannabis and this demonstrates that the opinion of Americans is changing about cannabis. The people see its medicinal and economic value and are asking for change, yet the current administration has rejected the requests of the people and denied the science behind cannabis’ efficacy as medicine, and all because of paranoid propaganda.

Legalization is where we’re heading, whether our government likes it or not.

 

This week, Kevin Sabet, the leader of the anti-pot propaganda group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, stated the above regarding Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act (“MJA”). The MJA would both end federal cannabis prohibition and require the federal government to punish states that continue to arrest minorities for cannabis crimes at disproportionate rates by withholding money for jails, prisons, and other projects.

Does that sound like a remake of “big tobacco” to you? And how will this bill aid big canna in a way that other measures would not? Is the cannabis industry really headed toward a “big tobacco” model? Is commercialization inherently wrong, especially if it helps bring about legislation that requires expunging criminal records and removing criminal penalties? For a higly entertaining and insightful take on big canna, check out this YouTube video.