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Pot’s platonic ideal goes from grower to consumer. On the black market, pot passes, variously, from grower to processor to wholesaler to dealer to consumer. California’s current quasi-legal medical marijuana market flows similarly — growers still walk into dispensaries peddling plants — but pays extra care and attention to testing and consumer-friendly goods and packaging. California’s new medical marijuana laws, influenced by labor unions, create a licensed and regulated system in which a new type of middleman must approve all pot products.

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Is pot the cherry on top for alcohol distributors?

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s new landmark medical cannabis laws create a new kind of private business that will play a central role regulating the state’s $1.3 billion pot industry: a licensed distribution scheme that appears to favor alcohol wholesalers.

By 2017, all cannabis authorized to be grown, processed and sold in California must pass inspection by licensed distributors that will charge fees for quality assurance, lab testing, and transportation by Teamster drivers.

Nearly 20 years into a heretofore unregulated medical cannabis market, California adopted a layer of bureaucracy that some growers and artisan producers say potentially threatens the integrity of their products and will certainly raise consumer prices. Continue reading


One of California’s new medical marijuana laws will allow the botanical drug to be marketed like wine beginning Jan. 1.

Landmark legislation bringing overdue order to a muddled market establishes the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, which will have the authority to establish wine-style geographic pedigrees for pot and make Humboldt Hash and Santa Cruz Sinsemilla as legitimate as Napa Valley Viognier and Paso Robles Pinot Noir. Continue reading

Envisioning a California Cannabis Conference

Substitute words like cannabis, growers, farms, greenhouses, concentrates and edibles for the alcohol references in strikethrough in this passage from the program for the 26th annual Envisioning California Conference that convened Friday in Sacramento:

California is an internationally recognized leader in the production of wine and beer. Increasingly, these industries have embraced a think-small ethos evident in a diverse range of micro breweries and artisanal wineries. Along the way, California has confronted a number of policy challenges in terms of land use, business models and regulation, trade, environmental impacts, and other issues. As a follow-up to the 2013 Food for Thought conference, this Envisioning conference will explore recent trends in brewing and winemaking in California, examine current policy implications, and consider possible future developments in the industry. It will also provide an opportunity to talk directly with California winemakers and brewers, to sample their products, and join a broader conversation about California’s liquid gold.

They called this year’s conference “California’s Liquid Gold: Brewing & Winemaking in the Golden State.” With two edits, we have my proposed theme for the 27th annual Envisioning California Conference — “California’s Gold: Cannabis in the Golden State” — hopefully convening in October 2016 .
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Vancouver Radio Ad for Illegal Dispensaries Stirs Canadian Health Agency

Two months after a Vancouver newspaper reported that multiple Canadian agencies passed the buck over a controversial radio advertisement promoting a chain of illegal cannabis dispensaries, Health Canada asserted its authority on the matter this month.

Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced Friday that she has directed Health Canada to monitor illegal cannabis advertising in print, online, on the radio and on television. Previously, Health Canada acted primarily upon complaints.

The announcement follows the warning Health Canada sent in June to Justin Wilcomes, the Vancouver radio host who in April began airing advertising Eden Medical Society, a chain of five unregulated cannabis dispensaries in British Columbia’s largest city. Continue reading

Denver Station Indefinitely Delays Cannabis TV Ads; Sacramento Dispensary Spot Flashback; Newsom Report Ad Curbs

Screen grab from a vape pen ad.

Citing “concerns about the lack of clarity around federal regulations that govern broadcast involving such ads,” the Denver affiliate of The E.W. Scripps Company, America’a 11th largest television station group, suspended plans to broadcast advertisements for two cannabis businesses.
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BOE OKs Cash Payments for Legal (and Illegal) Cannabis Taxes; Chairman Backs Eliot Ness Amnesty

Legitimate California medical cannabis dispensaries may now pay their state taxes in cash. The California State Board of Equalization welcomes cash tax payments from illegitimate sellers, too.

Separately, BOE Chairman Jerome E. Horton says he backs a bill for the 2016-2017 Legislative season that would offer amnesty to medical cannabis businesses that begin paying back taxes.
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