Friday, October 21, 2016

Prop. 64 Rolls Out New Ads, No on 64 Touts Unfavorable New Poll

by David Downs
Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 9:38 AM

The proponents of an initiative to legalize marijuana for adults in California are launching a series of online videos that will be appearing on television, as well.

Thursday, Yes on 64 uploaded “Common Sense,” featuring California’s former director of finance, Tom Campbell, appealing to extremely important swing voters. The video has not been made public as of this morning.


In the video, tinkling piano notes play, the suit-and-tie-wearing Campbell says, “As California’s former director of finance I assure you Proposition 64 is a smarter, safer, more fiscally sound approach to adult-use marijuana than what our state is currently doing.

“So, though I never tried marijuana and I don’t advocate others doing so, I’m voting Yes on 64 to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for adults 21 and over. 64 has strict safeguards for families and a billion dollars in new revenue for our state’s greatest needs. So vote yes on 64.”

The ad rollout comes amid a new poll showing Proposition 64’s support at just 51 percent, with a 3.7 percent margin of error. The No on 64 camp on Tuesday touted the results of the automated poll conducted October 13-15 via phone and online.

“Proposition 64 … is backed 51% to 40%. Unchanged from mid-and late-September,” Survey USA states.

“The survey was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on their home telephones (58% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephones in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (42% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on the screen of their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device. Polling ballot measures and citizen initiatives is an inexact science,” Survey USA states.
Among all polls, Survey USA polls have generally yielded results showing the least support for Proposition 64. However, the polling group is correct when it states: “In general, having nothing to do with California specifically and having nothing to do with 2016 uniquely, opposition to a ballot measure increases as Election Day approaches. Rarely does support for a ballot measure increase over time. As a result, the outcome of Prop 64 cannot be assured at this hour.”

No on 64 has promised to start airing their own video ad in the pivotal Los Angeles market, stating in Spanish that marijuana candy advertising would be coming to television “on shows children watch.”

“We can’t allow our children to be put at risk,” the ad states.

(In fact, federal communications law prohibits advertising banned drugs on broadcast television and radio. Station owners that do could lose their jobs and their station’s FCC licenses. Prop 64 also explicitly prohibits advertising to children.)

Last week, veteran campaign experts said they expected Proposition 64 to pass.

And in a press conference this week, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom stated: "We're working our tail off. ... If we’re able to continue where we are today, with this kind of a pace of energy, we’ll win.”

Also this week, Gallup reported 60 percent of Americans now support marijuana legalization.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Nurses Can Train on Marijuana This Friday in Lafayette

by David Downs
Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 9:16 AM

Mainstream medical practitioners and institutions are woefully behind the curve on cannabinoids.

But as adult-use legalization spreads, it also lifts the lingering stigma over mainstream medical uses for pot. Dramatic inroads are being made.

The Apothecarium launches a new physician outreach program with Mayor Jean Quan’s husband Dr. Floyd Huen this October.

And over in Lafayette Friday, nurses can get trained on cannabinoid medicine from two rock stars in the space: Alice O’Leary Randall, LPN, CT; and the East Bay's Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC.

Patients in many nursing homes and hospice care facilities are prohibited from using cannabis-based tinctures and oils. - STEPHEN LOEWINSOHN
  • Stephen Loewinsohn
  • Patients in many nursing homes and hospice care facilities are prohibited from using cannabis-based tinctures and oils.
Nurses who attend the Nurses Medical Cannabis Workshop: A Clinical Focus, obtain six contact hours per session, which may count toward continuing education requirements.

Experts say doctors and nurses are not currently trained on the endocannabinoid system, and lack basic information about the plant, its compounds, dosing and drug interactions, and indications. Yet about one in 20 California adults are estimated to have used cannabis for serious medical condition.

Theisen specializes in female seniors — some of the most cannabis-phobic patients around. Randall is a noted medical voice on cannabis, and former partner of Robert Randall, a celebrity federal medical marijuana patient.

The event is sponsored by United Patients Group and Green Health Consultants and is $225.

The California Board of Registered Nursing is listed as the provider for a total of six (6) CE Certified Contact Hours.

The duo also conducts the workshop Saturday in San Rafael.

[David Downs is the author of The Medical Marijuana Guidebook, America's most practical guide for patients and caregivers.]

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Marijuana and Election 2016: Grading the Candidates and Measures on Pot-Friendliness

by David Downs
Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 10:18 AM

The deadline to register to vote in California is eleven days out. Vote by mail packets are already hitting mailboxes statewide.

For folks hoping to end the drug war, there’s ample opportunity up and down the ballot to express the will of the people, whether it be: voting in local city council members and county supervisors who will decide if your town can have a medical dispensary — and eventually a recreational one; voting in state races to pick representatives who will defend and expand safe access at the state level, a well as shield the industry from rapacious special interests; to voting for Congress members and Senators who will decide if banking reform and tax reforms get a hearing in Congress, let alone a floor vote, or approval.

California's multi-billion cannabis industry hangs in the balance of the General Election. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • California's multi-billion cannabis industry hangs in the balance of the General Election.
The Drug Policy Forum of California, an influential online site, has released its General Election Voters Guide to Drug Policy Reform recently. The beefy Guide covers candidates and state measures, highlighting pro-reform votes in green, anti-reform votes in red, and neutral votes black.

Of note:

— The DPFCA Voter Guide is technically neutral on California legalization Prop. 64, but mostly endorses it, with fears about tickets for smoking in public, and taxes.

“Observers agree that a victory for legalization in California would be a powerful boost for marijuana reform both nationally and internationally. On the other hand, defeat would undoubtedly be interpreted as a major setback to legalization and likely invite a crackdown,” the DPFCA Guide states.

— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets a "neutral" vote, and so does Republican nominee Donald Trump. However, Trump’s second in command Mike Pence is totally anti-reform. Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, and Green party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein advocate full legalization of marijuana, and get the DPFCA’s green light.

— In the race for Sen. Boxer’s seat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County clinches a green light from reformers, while Attorney General Kamala Harris gets a "neutral" rating.

“More seriously, Harris failed to speak up against the federal crackdown on dispensaries in California, despite the fact that as former District Attorney of San Francisco she should have known that the city’s dispensaries were working well and the federal charges against them were bogus. … her lack of leadership in the state has been troubling.” 
— Over in the races for open Congressional seats, DPFCA highlights the die-hard prohibitionists who want to represent you in Congress, specifically calling for voters to send home in defeat: Doug LaMalfa (R- Redding/ N.E. Cal.); Jeff Denham (R-Modesto); Darrell Issa (R-Vista); Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield); Scott Jones (R-Sacramento Co.); Casey Lucas (R-Monterey); and Paul Chabot (R-San Bernardino).

Rep. La Malfa thinks pot should be considered as dangerous as heroin, and has said “any measure that would continue to keep it as a controlled substance I would support." 

All across inland and Southern California, voters can defeat recalcitrant Republicans — like in Rancho Cordova/Roseville where pro-reform Democrat Ami Bera is battling former Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who is "100% against" legalization. Pro-reform voters can make a difference in races in Monterey, Squaw Valley, California City, Palmdale, San Bernardino, Irvine, Orange County, and Oceanside.

— Also, there are about 50 local ballot measures related to cannabis.

Read the full Guide to see your local legislative races and ballot measures, as well.

And to those who say 'voting amounts to tacit support for a corrupt system', we reply, “Cool. So when the revolution starts, should we just send you an email or something?”

As Lt. Gov. Newsom told the cannabis industry this summer in Oakland, “Our actions matter. By doing nothing, you’ve done everything, by abdicating any responsibility for the world we’re living in.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown Licenses California’s Smallest Medical Pot Farmers

by David Downs
Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 12:02 PM

Gov. Jerry Brown provided a path to licensure for California’s smaller medical cannabis gardeners that want to sell their crop into the regulated commercial market.

"Dutch Crunch" medical marijuana
  • "Dutch Crunch" medical marijuana

The governor signed the so-called “cottage” licensing bill, A.B. 2516, on September 29, creating a Type 1C, or “specialty cottage,” state cultivator license.

A licensed cottage grower could have up to 2,500 square feet of total canopy size in a greenhouse; up to 25 mature plants outdoors; or 500 square feet indoors, on one premise.

Growers get the license from the state’s food and agriculture department, and the state license pairs with local licenses.

The cottage licensing law addresses new anxieties about industrial agriculture disrupting the economics of the otherwise unmechanized crop.

Local cottage licenses have yet to be crafted. Meanwhile, medical marijuana megafarms are being licensed and grandfathered in as fast as cash-thirsty cities can pass ordinances.

The rich cultivation cultures of the Bay Area’s urban center are facing the stresses of a fully legal, soon-to-be-regulated sector. San Francisco growers say lack of local licensing threatens to push them out. Oakland is mired in a potentially illegal equity permit program already diminishing its competitiveness.

Pot prices plummet under legalization, which erases the ‘risk premium’ on weed. Overproduction also drives out inefficient gardeners. The RAND Drug Policy Research Center estimates one gram of cannabis could fall from a black market high of $20 to about $2. You could grow all of California's annual supply on 1,100 acres, according to new estimates.

Several enacted and proposed laws and regulations aim to preserve small farmers who could command boutique pricing similar to vinters and brewers.

“As this industry moves forward, we need to make sure that all farmers, regardless of size, can come into compliance – that’s what success looks like,” stated Assemblymember Jim Wood, the bill’s sponsor.

In related news, cottage licensing supporter and director of the California Growers Association Hezekiah Allen told the Lost Coast Outpost he would not vote to legalize marijuana — unless it heralds a planet-wide return to pre-industrial agriculture.

"We need to fundamentally reconsider the way our farms and businesses relate to the natural world," he said.

California has a several billion-dollar medical cannabis industry, is the leading domestic supplier to the nation which spends tens of billions on cannabis annually, RAND finds. California currently makes about 20,000 marijuana-related arrests each year, resulting in several hundred million dollars in adjudication costs, according to state estimates.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

California Medical Marijuana Extract Makers Get Historic Protections

by David Downs
Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 7:50 AM

California’s elite artisanal medical cannabis extract-makers will get the same legal shield as the patients and collectives they currently serve, under new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

More …

Thursday, September 29, 2016

#BlackLivesMatter In New Marijuana Legalization Video from #Yeson64

by David Downs
Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 11:51 AM

Marijuana is a leading driver of race-based police brutality in America, according to a new video released online this week from a group helping to legalize cannabis in California.

Hot off the heels of their incendiary Jay-Z video on mass incarceration, the Drug Policy Alliance has released “It’s Not Legal Yet: Why We Must Legalize Marijuana in California,” highlighting the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws against Blacks and Latinos.

Even though California decriminalized personal marijuana possession in 2010, Black and Latinos continue to get pot tickets at far higher rates than whites in California. They’re also overrepresented among California’s 25,000 or so annual arrests for things like selling pot or growing it. California had nearly 500,000 arrests for marijuana from 2006 to 2015.

The DPA notes:
Black people were nearly five times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana felonies. Latinos are 35 percent more likely than white people to be arrested for a marijuana offense: 45 percent more likely for a misdemeanor and 26 percent more likely for a felony. Further, marijuana infraction enforcement in Los Angeles and Fresno was nearly four times more severe for Black Californians and 1.5 times more severe for Latino Californians than whites.
“With gripping images and narration, this short film raises up the critical racial and social injustice issues at stake under marijuana legalization in California,” stated Lynne Lyman, California state director for Drug Policy Action. “It upholds Brave New Films’ tradition of making hard-hitting films on the most pressing issues in our communities.”

Monday, September 26, 2016

Amoeba Records Hits Big With Pot Shop Permit in Berkeley

by David Downs
Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 9:26 AM

Last October, we broke the news that cannabis might be helping to save the music industry. Amid the collapse of record sales and the rise of legal cannabis, musicians are launching marijuana brands. Also, the West Coast’s most famous record store, Amoeba Records, had opened a medical marijuana doctor’s office, and was applying for a coveted license to sell medical cannabis in Berkeley

Last week, those plans came to fruition: The Berkeley City Council agreed to grant the ailing record store a license to dispense medical cannabis from their Telegraph Ave. store. The store will be called BC3, for Berkeley Compassionate Care Collective, at 2465 Telegraph Ave.


“We. Got. The. Berkeley. Dispensary. Permit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A record store and a dispensary, who could have imagined this awesomeness?!?!?!?!?!?” wrote Amber Senter, Amoeba permit team member,  on Facebook.

It could be a minimum of several months before any Amoeba Records Dispensary sees its first customers. The records store’s conversion of its jazz room and exterior requires approvals from Berkeley’s Department of Planning and Development.

Berkeley council also approved another pot-shop dispensary, to be operated by the group behind San Francisco’s enormously successful, well-run, award-winning The Apothecarium. Berkeley’s The Apothecarium will be at 2578 Shattuck Ave.

These two new permits come after Council awarded a permit to its first Black, female, senior citizen pot shop owner Sue Taylor.

Competition was fierce for Taylor’s permit, and Council agreed to add two more permits after she won hers. Berkeley currently has three licensed, operational dispensaries: Berkeley Patients Group, CBCB, and BPCC. BPCC led a campaign to oppose any new permittees near its small, low-profile store on Telegraph Ave.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Plan Would Require City of Oakland To Be Part Owner of Any New Marijuana Business

by David Downs
Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 11:05 AM

Is the city of Oakland looking to profit off of the local marijuana business?

That's the plan, at least according to a new proposal put forward by Councilmembers Desley Brooks, Larry Reid, and Noel Gallo. They want to require any new Oakland pot company to make the city a partner — and direct revenue from the cannabis industry to elected officials’ special projects.

The idea, however, might run afoul of several laws — such as state medical-pot regulations that ban an entity from owning multiple cannabis licenses.

Specifically, Oakland would require new pot-shop owners to give the city 25 percent ownership stake in a business, plus one seat on a company’s board. Companies that don’t cut Oakland in would not get a permit and thus would not be allowed to operate under local or state law.

The proposal builds on Oakland’s Equity Permit Program, which sends convicted Drug War offenders to the front of the line for new canna-business permits. Residents of certain police beats would also be prioritized under the program.

Brooks’ pitch to take the city directly into the local pot biz will come up at next week’s Public Safety Committee meeting.

But Brooks’ plan might not be legal, according to state Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle on the matter. City revenue from owning pot businesses would flow directly to three city programs. “One of them, the Hispanic Engineers, Builders & Contractors of California, has no website or state records, and is run by a childhood friend of Gallo’s,” the Chronicle reports.

Read the city proposal to mandate part-ownership of local businesses below:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Watch: The Revolutionary Jay Z Video Op-Ed Against The Drug War

by David Downs
Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 7:22 AM

New York hip-hop mogul Jay Z’s latest hit isn’t a song — it’s an op-ed in the Grey Lady.

The New York Times opinion piece “The War on Drugs Is An Epic Fail” is an illustrated video narrated by the platinum-selling artist and highlighting pot prohibition and legalization's racial inequity. 

The video was produced with drug-law reformers Drug Policy Alliance — who held a Washington, D.C., meeting on racial equity in legal pot this week — as well as Revolve Impact. Viral videos and the internet more broadly are helping to drive support for pot prohibition's end to historic levels.

Illustrated by Molly Crabapple, the video promises to “educate millions of people about the devastation wrought on the African American community because of the drug war,” stated Asha Bandele, Senior Director for Grants, Partnerships and Special Projects at the Drug Policy Alliance. “That it is offered at a moment when policymakers are finally joining advocates in demanding an end to the architecture that actually incentivizes biased policing and police violence makes it especially timely,” said Bandele.

On Facebook she wrote: "The drug war has created or driven policies that incentivize extrajudical killing. It's one tool we can take out of their evilass box. Thank you #JayZ"

“As a resident of California, I am especially pleased that this video speaks directly to the heart of economic equity,” stated Dream Hampton of Revolve Impact.  She stated, “In November, Californians will have the opportunity to vote Yes on Prop 64, which is the most racial-justice-oriented marijuana legalization measure ever. It not only reduces and in many cases eliminates criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, but it’s retroactive, meaning people needlessly sitting in jail for small amounts of marijuana, can get out and have their records expunged. Plus, it drives hundreds of millions of dollars in direct funding and investments to communities most harmed by police and the criminal justice system,” Hampton stated.

On Thursday, the DPA briefed Congress on diversity in the cannabis industry, where less than one percent of the growing legalized market is owned and/or operated by individuals of color. Structural barriers in highly regulated pot markets block entry for people without large amounts of money, political connections, and a clean record.

Jay Z notes in his video that since 1970, blacks and other marginalized groups were targeted by the drug war, leading to unprecedented mass incarceration, marginalization and poverty. Today, one in ten black men will be imprisoned in their lifetimes.

“It is clear the historical enforcement of cannabis prohibition has been overwhelmingly against people of color, now we are seeing the systematic exclusion of people of color through the state procurement process for licensing cannabis operators," said Dr. Malik Burnett, a physician at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "It’s simply unequal treatment under the law by another name. Minority cannabis operators from around the country are coming together to discuss how we can stop this discrimination and use the cannabis industry to create equity, economic justice, and restore communities most impacted by the failed war on drugs," he said.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Major Donors Attack Pot Legalization Nationwide

by David Downs
Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 9:42 AM

Two major donations have come in to uphold pot prohibition in California and Arizona.

In Arizona, the makers of the deadly painkiller Fentanyl gave $500,000 to defeat that state's legalization effort, which is barely polling at 50 percent.

And today in California, the Los Angeles Times reports a millionaire from Pennsylvania has contributed $1.3 million to defeat Proposition 64, which would legalize adult use of cannabis in the Golden State.

Prop. 64 allows adults 21-and-over to carry an ounce of pot in public,  grow up to six plants, and keep the entire harvest.

A millionaire retiree on the other side of the country, Julie Schauer hopes to deny Californians with her donation to the No on 64 Committee. Schauer obtained the money from a family trust, the Times reports.

The national group opposing legalization, Project SAM, said not all of Schauer’s $1.3 million will be spent opposing pot user’s rights in California. Project SAM is fighting against legalization in a half-dozen states this year.

The L.A. Times reports anti-pot forces in California have raised a total of less than $300,000. Prop. 64 supporters have donated $6 million.

Prohibition supporters only need to raise a fraction of what proponents must take in, experts say. That’s because Prop. 64’s majority support is relatively soft. No on 64 has touted polls showing they can move support from 61 percent in favor to just 40 percent with only one ballot argument: kids and pot advertising.

A new poll released over the weekend found Prop. 64 polling at 71 percent support, but analysts note that support promises to erode as voters begin to hear arguments against the initiative.

Legalization opponents argue that taxing and regulating the plant will endanger youth and cause public health problems.

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