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Marijuana advocates are suing the county over its voter-approved tax on marijuana, arguing the results are not legitimate. Specifically, the group is arguing that Measure AI proposed a tax that amounted to a special tax, not a general tax. For this reason, the measure required not just a simple majority, but a two-thirds majority approval.vote

When the measure passed by voters in November, it amounted to a tax of between 2.5 percent and 10 percent on the gross receipts of cannabis cultivators. It also imposed on all other marijuana businesses a flat-rate tax of $2,500 annually.

An advisory that was attached to this measure indicated that voters wished to have this money spent on county services. Specifically, this would include not just code enforcement on marijuana businesses, but also emergency medical services, fire and police services, repairs of roads and mental health services. This was a non-binding agreement, though, and county leaders technically can spend the funds on whatever they wish.  Continue reading

In Santa Ana, licensed marijuana dispensaries say their greatest nemesis isn’t a federal prosecutor or local police or even criminals seeking to rob their cash-based operations. Today, the greatest challenge they face at the moment are unsanctioned marijuana shops that dot the city. courthouse

These unlicensed, unregulated operations are snapping up black market business by selling the drug at a lower cost – made possible because those other shops aren’t following the stringent guidelines as expected by state regulators. They ignore city safety codes and guidelines, which means they can undercut licensed dispensaries on price. Licensed regulators have responded by suing a number of these operations.

You may recall back in 2014, Santa Ana city officials approved a city initiative called Measure BB. This gave the green light to about 20 medical marijuana dispensary licenses in the city, to be chosen via a lottery system. However, despite efforts to carefully regulate the legal marijuana system, the number of licensed dispensaries in the city soon became overwhelmed by the number of unlicensed shops.  Continue reading

University students in Iowa recently prevailed in a federal free speech lawsuit that affirms students’ rights, no matter what their political persuasion. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that two school administrators employed by Iowa State University violated the rights of two students who served as top administrators of the school’s local chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). university

The two students had plans in the works to print off a series of t-shirts that showed a marijuana leaf alongside the school’s mascot. School officials claimed that the production of such material would be a violation of the university’s trademark policy.

Students sued the school in federal court, arguing that the policy on the mascot trademark was a violation of students’ free speech rights. Last year, the judge issued a ruling agreeing with the students and prohibiting the school from stopping the students from making the shirts. The judge ruled that the school’s rejection of the t-shirts with NORML’s designs were discrimination because the decision was based on the fact that administrators disagreed with the students’ political point-of-view. Continue reading

California marijuana regulations – and specifically, what they should be – is the first order of business for the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. The state agency has now opened the doors for applications of stakeholders to weigh in as they craft the state rules that will govern the new legal market. marijuana

Wider medical marijuana laws passed by the state in 2015, plus the recreational legalization measure that was approved by voters in November require some type of regulatory framework put in place by the state agency. These provisions will ultimately cover the specifics of marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, sales and other market elements. But first, the agency wants input.

In the meantime, state lawmakers are busy working to hammer out a new law that would help to reconcile the various discrepancies between the medical marijuana law and the recreational marijuana law. The discrepancies currently are pitting labor unions against each other. Some of the differences involve things like who can move marijuana from farms and manufacturing plants to market. There are also numerous questions about whether marijuana businesses should be allowed to operate as a one-stop-shop. Continue reading

Measure M, a bill proposed by the City of Los Angeles that gives council the authority to regulate the local recreational and medical marijuana industries was overwhelmingly approved recently.marijuana bud

Measure M won over big in comparison to the votes garnered for another, Measure N, which was placed onto the ballot by a marijuana trade group that later swung its support behind the city’s proposal.

The bills were placed on the ballot in response to the November results in the state election that legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, beginning next year. Measure M gives the city the authority to repeal the current ban on medical marijuana dispensaries (Proposition D, passed in 2013), and replace it with updated rules that will regulate the varying kinds of marijuana businesses in Los Angeles. Additionally, the measure grants city leaders the power to enforce these rules, including imposition of fines, criminal penalties and loss of utilities like water and power for companies that flout city rules or try to operate unlicensed.  Continue reading

Although neither U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions or President Donald Trump have directly addressed the issue of cannabis legalization or the disconnect between federal and state laws, it does appear that the administration may likely follow the current status quo. That is, they will focus any efforts pertaining to marijuana toward attacking illegal drug cartels, rather than dispensaries or individuals who are operating legally under state law. This is the presumption, anyway, but rumors are still flying. police car

There was a blog recently that indicated White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a reporter that the administration would “unlikely” pursue action against states that have legalized the drug. However, when reached for confirmation of this comment, Spicer reportedly responded in an e-mail that he had “no clue where (that report) came from.”

There could be some insight provided in a recent report published by Capital Public Radio. In that piece, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones commented on a recent meeting he had with Sessions, where they reportedly discussed both marijuana and immigration. In that discussion, Jones said Sessions commented that he didn’t think the federal government would put much if any time or energy on marijuana use or low-level local and state crimes. However, he reportedly said he had not ruled out the possibility of federal prosecutors getting involved where there are larger-scale operations.  Continue reading

The majority of Americans now consider themselves to be “cannabis-friendly,” or at least much more tolerant of it use, whether recreational or medicinal. Sixty percent of people in the country now live in a state that has some form of legalized marijuana, and eight states – including California – plus Washington D.C. allow recreational use of the drug. And yet, in six of those eight states that allow recreational use, we still have tens of thousands of people who are serving time in state prisons for non-violent marijuana crimes.handcuff

We have a duty in states where marijuana has been legalized for recreation, to also press our leaders for justice reform for those who have been caught in the long-standing war on marijuana, a war that has very clearly failed. Here in California, we are one of just two states that have taken action on this issue. Oregon is the other.

The Drug Policy Alliance reported in 2015 that more than 6,000 people were serving time in California state prisons or jails for non-violent crimes that involved cultivation or distribution of marijuana. When Proposition 64 passed legalizing the drug for recreation, it came with the caveat that allowed those individuals to apply for early release or parole and also to have their records expunged. It’s not clear at this point how many have taken up this offer or realize that it even exists.  Continue reading

Most new businesses recognize that e-commerce has to play some type of role in their operation, and it’s often a critical one. Smartphones and computers are ever-present in everyday modern life. As of 2013, worldwide business-to-business e-commerce sales topped $1.2 trillion, and an estimated 40 percent of internet users purchase products via the web. These figures are expected to grow exponentially in the coming years, and many industries have downsized their brick-and-mortar operations in favor of e-commerce platforms (think Macy’s, Sears and Kmart). People want to click and buy.computer

Cannabis e-commerce, meanwhile, has yet to really take off here in the U.S., and for good reason. It’s true that e-commerce can help to optimize a buying experience by clearly putting the price, product, features and purchase in front of consumers so decisions can be fast and easy. However, the product sold by marijuana dispensaries – and the federal law surrounding that product – makes e-commerce a difficult if not impossible prospect, at least for the moment. This is true not just for companies selling the drug itself, but related items, such as pipes, storage containers, bongs, vaporizers and other supplies.

These legal items can often be found on Amazon and other big e-commerce platforms. Other items may include irrigation controls, piping and lights, fertilizers, hydroponics, harvesting and farming equipment and oil extraction supplies. Pretty much everything except the seeds or the plants themselves can be sold online. However, with the exemption of hemp products, marijuana and derivatives of marijuana are not able to be sold online without restriction. It’s important for recreational marijuana retailers to consult with skilled marijuana lawyers before taking their business to the web, to make sure their practices are above-board and in compliance with the law. Continue reading

A Colorado Springs resident lost his bid to recover the marijuana that was seized from him by police – even though he’d been acquitted of crimes related to that possession – because, as Colorado Supreme Court justices ruled: Doing so would require that police officers become distributors of marijuana. As such, they would be violating state law to do so. police

This precedent-setting ruling, which overturned the Colorado Court of Appeals, has the potential to influence sister courts in other states, and in the event there is conflict, the possibility that it will require input from the U.S. Supreme Court. The state-level appellate court had held that police officers were required to return marijuana to defendants who won their court cases alleging illegal possession.

But now, the Colorado Supreme Court justices say that to do so would require police to become complicit in violating the Controlled Substances Act.  Continue reading

For decades, prosecutors have been securing convictions against drunk drivers using the same tried-and-true means of evidence gathering: Roadside sobriety tests.police car

The officer has the driver stand on a single leg, walk a straight line, recite the alphabet (starting with G), conduct an eyeball analysis. If the driver doesn’t perform as well as they should, the officer will come to court to testify about why they believe the driver wasn’t fit to drive. Criminal defense lawyers have long challenged these tactics, but they have still proven generally useful in drunk driving cases.

However, marijuana defense lawyers are increasingly successful at arguing that such tests aren’t an adequate indicator of whether someone is too impaired by cannabis to drive. There is little to no science to show that these standardized measures are effective in testing the sobriety of someone believed to be high on weed as opposed to drunk on alcohol.  Continue reading