National Coalition Formed to Protect Small-Scale Cannabis Growers

The National Craft Cannabis Coalition, comprised of state-level advocacy groups from Oregon, California, Washington, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts, was formed with the goal of promoting state and federal policies that support small-scale growers, starting with the SHIP Act introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA).

The SHIP (Small and Homestead Independent Producers) Act would allow craft growers to ship and sell weed directly to their consumers if and when marijuana is federally legalized. If passed, the bill would take effect once marijuana is removed from its current Schedule 1 status and once all criminal penalties are removed under federal law concerning marijuana.

“Too often, the federal government falls behind, and the gears of Congress work too slowly to keep up with the pace of a changing economy,” Representative Huffman said.

“Under my bill, folks in our state will be able to ship their products straight to consumers when the antiquated federal prohibition on cannabis is finally repealed. As large, commercial cannabis operations squeeze out local producers from the market, this legislation is critical for farmers to survive and expand their small businesses.”

Under the SHIP act, a qualifying cannabis grower would be anyone who cultivates:

  • One acre or less of 18 mature flowering marijuana plant canopy using outdoor cultivation
  • 22,000 square feet or less of marijuana plant canopy using greenhouse cultivation
  • 5,000 square feet or fewer of mature flowering marijuana plant canopy using indoor cultivation

Small and craft growers have lamented they don’t stand a chance in markets dominated by large multi-state operators capable of growing exponentially more canopy space for a fraction of the cost, especially when the final product has to be packaged and sold through third-party businesses. This results in a lot of large, vertically-integrated companies essentially pricing out the little guys who can’t afford to buy and operate their own dispensary, grow facility, and packaging facility.

“These producers operate on a much smaller scale than traditional agriculture with many cultivating less than an acre of total canopy,” said Amanda Meztler of F.A.R.M.S. Inc Oregon.

“With federal legalization on the horizon, it’s critical that craft cannabis producers organize across state lines to ensure that federal policy includes a level playing field for small and independent businesses.”

Thus, members of the NCCC have collectively proposed that the only way small growers can survive is if they are allowed to sell directly to their customers.

“The direct-to-consumer model is a necessary resource for any small-scale craft-producing community that is deeply tied to the land on which it creates — whether it produces wine, whiskey, cheese, beer, cannabis, or honey,” said Genine Coleman, Executive Director of Origins Council in a prepared statement.

“The legacy cannabis community that has worked so long in the shadows should have the opportunity to join the ranks of other artisan producers across the United States and enjoy the privilege of connecting personally with their adult customers.”

To date the NCCC represents over 1,000 small and independent commercial cannabis growers through their state-level organizations including Origins Council (CA), F.A.R.M.S. Inc (OR), Washington Sun & Craft Growers Association (WA), Vermont Growers Association (VT), Maine Craft Cannabis Association (ME), and Farm Bug Co-Op (MA).

The post National Coalition Formed to Protect Small-Scale Cannabis Growers appeared first on High Times.

Global cannabis sales will grow to $57B but depend on new markets

As prohibition lifts an ugly grasp on cannabis, the new market prospers. BDSA is an analytics firm that tracks the industry through an enormous point-of-sale network. A recent report by the firm suggests global cannabis sales will grow to $57 Billion by 2026. This author spoke with the Founder and CEO but also Andy Seeger […]

The post Global cannabis sales will grow to $57B but depend on new markets appeared first on Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana | News.

Seattle Mayor Introduces Bills to Enhance Equity in Cannabis Industry

People asked, and the voices have been heard about the push for a more equitable cannabis industry, and Seattle, Washington leaders are making change.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell introduced three new bills to the Seattle City Council that would encourage more diverse inclusion in the city’s cannabis industry, announced on August 9. The proposals were developed in partnership with Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda as well as a pool of cannabis industry stakeholders and employees.

The proposed bills would allow the city to take “tangible steps to improve fairness and opportunity” in the cannabis industry, as Washington begins to allocate social equity cannabis licenses across the state.

“For a thriving Seattle economy, every worker and business deserve[s] safety and the opportunity to learn, grow, and prosper,” Mayor Harrell said in a press release. “As the cannabis industry continues to develop, we must course correct and support the communities who too often have been left behind. Equity in this industry means safe working conditions and fair treatment for workers, store ownership that includes the communities most impacted by the war on drugs, and a commitment to fairness, innovation, and opportunity.”

The suite of bills would create a city-level social equity license, intended to reduce barriers toward opening cannabis stores for underrepresented communities and those most impacted by the War on Drugs. They would lay down the groundwork for future cannabis-related businesses, in collaboration with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, to also issue licenses through a social equity framework.

The legislation would require a 90-day retention of store workforce when ownership changes—similar to protections created for hotel workers in 2019. They would create a short-term cannabis advisory committee, selected in collaboration with City Council to collect input on cannabis equity and needs from workers, community members, and industry leaders. A needs assessment would be implemented to understand additional steps to make the industry more robust and sustainable for diverse communities.

The legislation would work in tandem with County and community efforts to further the work of expunging convictions for cannabis-related crimes prior to 2014. Finally, the legislation would develop a state and federal legislative agenda promoting cannabis equity, as well as safety improvements, capital investments, and access to banking services.

Mayor Harrell joined the Seattle City Council to call for the passage of the federal SAFE Banking Act to allow cannabis businesses to get access to banking.

“After years of [our] community asking for greater equity in the cannabis industry, this legislation represents an initial step in the right direction towards creating local equity applications, improving workforce standards, and focusing on safety for workers in the cannabis industry. Thank you, to the broad coalition led by cannabis industry workers and businesses who have been calling for reforms in this industry, and for not letting up. I look forward to continuing to work with you and the Mayor’s office to make these first policy steps impactful, and to building on this approach to create greater cannabis equity to address the harms caused by the war on drugs and past harmful policies.”

The legislation was also supported by union members from UFCW 3000. “This legislation is an important first step to gain vital protections for cannabis workers,” said Joe Mizrahi, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW 3000. “Essential cannabis workers in UFCW 3000 look forward to working with the Mayor’s office and City Council, with a broad coalition of community stakeholders, to build on this foundation in the years to come.”

The post Seattle Mayor Introduces Bills to Enhance Equity in Cannabis Industry appeared first on High Times.

The COVID Cannabis Bubble has Popped

In March 2020, when governments worldwide – even in so-called “liberal democracies” – put their citizens under house arrest, people started consuming many more substances, including cannabis. This boom was artificial, though. Fuelled by stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, and general fear and hopelessness about the future – the great cannabis boom of 2020 is now […]

The post The COVID Cannabis Bubble has Popped appeared first on Cannabis (Weed) – Knowledgebase.

Wildwood Flower Farm’s Sustainable High

Approximately four hours and twenty minutes northeast of Seattle in Washington’s Okanogan County, Melissa Beseda reflects on the successful conclusion of another cannabis cultivation season. After months of hard work as the plants grew and matured, she and Isaac Ekholm, her partner in life and business, have completed the harvest on the Wildwood Flower Farm and are now preparing for the impending arrival of their first child.

Ekholm began growing cannabis for his father who uses it medically to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis. His labor of love quickly became a passion for cultivating top-quality cannabis. After the passage of Washington’s recreational cannabis legislation in 2012, Ekholm applied for a license as a cannabis producer and processor and founded Wildwood Flower Farm in 2016.

After witnessing how cannabis could positively impact people’s lives, Beseda joined him on the farm the following year. Together, they’ve been sustainably growing cannabis on a 30,000-square-foot plot of land ever since, with a crew of lovable and loyal animals to share in the work.

Wildwood’s Melissa Beseda and Isaac Ekholm tend to their outdoor garden.

But since the coronavirus pandemic, the couple brought in two cannabis harvests without outside help, sharing the propagating, tending and harvesting duties throughout the season. Beseda says that she and Ekholm work well together and their interests and abilities complement each other nicely, all to the benefit of the operation. “His vision for the farm and ability to foresee opportunities and threats to the business have given this bootstrapped farm a competitive advantage,” she says. “His ability to focus on the overall strategy of the growing season while managing the intricacies and demands of the day-to-day operations is what has made us successful. He’s what keeps us on the rails.”

Beseda serves as the nurturer and sometimes taskmaster, working hard to care for everyone on the farm (including the animals), “while at the same time whipping them all into shape and ensuring it all runs smoothly,” she says.

The furry and feathered members of the family have their own duties on the farm. A flock of chickens and turkeys keeps the perimeter of the growing area free of bugs and weeds, and the ornery tom turkey keeps a watchful eye behind the garden, serving as the designated security guard. The farm’s two cats, Peggy and Squeakers, are pest management masters, protecting the cannabis plants from attack by voles and gophers.

“Since we had them, we haven’t lost one plant to rodents,” Beseda says, adding that even the herd of eight goats plays an important role on the sustainable farm when they’re moved to the growing area after harvest time to help prepare the land for the next season. “Goats are great for soil regeneration. Their hoofs aerate the soil, their foraging keeps the weeds under control and their manure goes into our compost, which will enrich the soil for years to come.”

Goats are part of the Wildwood Flower Farm family and help with soil regeneration and maintenance.

Working together, the team of humans and animals keeps busy through the growing season, tending the plants and nurturing them to harvest. In 2021, the couple cultivated several strains of cannabis including Jungle Cake, Sunshine Queen, Magenta Hash Plant and a South African landrace sativa that’s also serving as parent stock for breeding experiments on the farm. After harvest, they trim and bag the best cannabis flower to be sold under the Wildwood Flower Farm label, with the rest of the crop going to wholesalers and manufacturers to be packaged as flower or processed into oil.

Ekholm and Beseda say they have embraced sustainable and regenerative farming values, using only OMRI-rated pesticides that are gentle on the environment. They’re also enthusiastic for integrated pest management practices including the use of beneficial insects and predatory mites and are careful to enrich their farmland with compost and other natural amendments.

“We invest in the long-term health of the soil and our environment,” Beseda says. “We try to close the loop as much as we can with our inputs: All of our plant waste is composted and will amend the soil for the next crop. Every year the soil seems to get better and better.”

Taken together, these sustainable practices give the cannabis plants at Wildwood Flower Farm a nurturing home to grow and ripen. The extreme northern latitude—only about 50 miles from the Canadian border—means the growing season is compacted compared to other cannabis growing regions, but the long days during the growing season provide ideal conditions to fuel vegetative growth.

Strains from left: Sunshine #4, Sunshine #4, Magenta Hash Plant

“While we tend to have a short season up here in North Central Washington, our long summer days are hot, dry, and clear—the perfect environment for growing cannabis outdoors and in greenhouses,” he says. Ekholm and Beseda say they use these methods in concert with light deprivation techniques to ensure long-flowering cultivars finish in time. It’s difficult and time-consuming work, but it’s all part of the farm’s mission to “grow and share high quality, sustainably-grown flower with a commitment to our community, our future employees and the environment,” Beseda says.

Although cannabis is the primary commercial driver for the operation, Wildwood Flower Farm also grows other crops including alfalfa, elderberries, peppers and a few stone fruits. While growing these plants is largely in the experimental phase and the results are generally used for the farm or in their on-site home, Beseda says that they’re exploring ways to tap into a distribution chain that will allow them to make their other crops profitable, too.

“We love growing most types of plants and raising most types of animals,” Beseda says. “Seeing how things all come together on a small farm like ours has been very rewarding and always interesting. There’s a constant desire to see what inputs we can provide on our own and to find varieties of plants that thrive in the environment we live in.”

That environment, it seems, is also perfect for nurturing the family that serves as stewards of the land. Looking back at the past year, Beseda says her pregnancy and her baby developed in concert with the crops on the farm.

Melissa Beseda pregnant in cannabis field
Melissa Beseda, expecting her first born, works on the cannabis farm every day.

“My first trimester lined up with the bulk of our planning and prepping for the season,” she says. “The baby’s rapid growth in the second trimester coincided with the plants’ most rapid growth during the height of the summer, and the return of my energy helped us power through the light deprivation part of our season. The plants began slowing down and ripening up, just as I began slowing down during the third trimester and the baby began ripening up.”

This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.

The post Wildwood Flower Farm’s Sustainable High appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Washington Lawmakers Delete the Word ‘Marijuana’ from State Statutes

The word “marijuana” will be stricken from all legislation in the state of Washington under a bill recently passed by state lawmakers. The measure, House Bill 1210, will replace the term “marijuana” with the word “cannabis” in all state statutes after being signed into law by Democratic Governor Jay Inslee last month. 

Democratic state Representative Melanie Morgan, the sponsor of the legislation, told her colleagues in the House last year that the word “marijuana” has racial undertones that go back nearly a century.

“The term ‘marijuana’ itself is pejorative and racist,” Morgan said. “As recreational marijuana use became more popular, it was negatively associated with Mexican immigrants.”

“Even though it seems simple because it’s just one word, the reality is, we’re healing the wrongs that were committed against Black and Brown people around cannabis,” she added.

Racist Language in Legislation

Morgan said that the word’s racist connotation was initiated by Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which later became the Drug Enforcement Administration. Anslinger was an instrumental force in the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which began the U.S. prohibition of cannabis.

“It was … Anslinger that said, and I quote, ‘Marijuana is the most violent causing drug in the history of mankind. And most marijuana users are Negroes, Hispanic, Caribbean, and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz, and swing results from marijuana usage,’” Morgan said during a legislative hearing.

State Representative Emily Wicks said the bill can help change how conversations about cannabis are framed.

“Although we call it a technical fix, I think it does a lot to undo, or at least correct in some effort, some of the serious harms around this language,” Wicks said.

Joy Hollingsworth, who owns Hollingsworth Cannabis Company with her family, told KIRO television news that the word “marijuana” is an unwelcome term for many people in communities of color.

“It had been talked about for a long time in our community about how that word demonizes the cannabis plant,” said Hollingsworth, who learned about the negative association of the word from her mother.

“She was the one who educated us on the term and how it was derogatory, and we shouldn’t use it anymore,” Hollingsworth said. “We have a lot of people, especially in the Black community, that went to prison over cannabis for years, that were locked up, separated from their nuclear family, which is huge.”

Hollingsworth said that House Bill 1210 is a step in the right direction. But she would also like to see more action on social equity in cannabis from state lawmakers.

“We’ll take any win, right? But we don’t want to get caught up on the performative equity piece where we’re just talking about words and not actual legislation and policy,” Hollingsworth said.

One possibility would be to invest cannabis taxes in communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.

“We will feel like the industry has paid off when we see those funds get put into college scholarships,” Hollingsworth said. “Maybe a family wanted to buy a home, and they were from the Central District of Seattle, and they wanted to go back there because they were priced out. They could get a loan from those funds. Thinking about creative ways to make impactful scalable solutions in our community is what I’m looking for.” 

Cannabis Industry and Advocates Support Bill

House Bill 1210 was supported by state and national cannabis reform advocacy groups and industry representatives, including the Craft Cannabis Coalition (CCC), a Tacoma-based retail trade group.

“Our association is supportive of social equity in the cannabis industry and strongly recognize the harm the war on drugs caused,” CCC Executive Director Adán Espino Jr. told The Center Square in an email. “We do not feel as strongly about the term ‘marijuana’ as others seem to, but we do appreciate the transition to the term ‘cannabis’ as the industry continues to develop and professionalize. If the term ‘marijuana’ has fallen out of practice, that is just the reality of it.”

Tiffany Watkins, a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, said that Washington needs to make more substantive efforts at social equity in the cannabis industry.

“While it’s definitely time to steer permanently away from terms based in racism, replacing marijuana with cannabis is merely a drop in the ocean when it comes to correcting the wrong done by the war on drugs,” she said via email. “Much more attention needs to be brought to how a state with over 10 years of legal cannabis operations still has no social equity program in place to acknowledge the barriers to entry for its BIPOC [Black, indigenous, people of color] individuals.”

In 2020, the Washington legislature established the Washington Task Force on Social Equity in Cannabis to develop policies and recommendations to support social equity in the state’s cannabis industry. The panel is currently working on proposals to provide grants to social equity applicants to help fund the launch and licensing of new cannabis businesses. House Bill 1210 goes into effect in June.

The post Washington Lawmakers Delete the Word ‘Marijuana’ from State Statutes appeared first on High Times.

Are Cannabis Sales Slipping?

Are cannabis sales across North America slipping? There is a prevailing theory that the government’s COVID lockdowns led to increased cannabis use. Some expect lower sales now that life is more or less returning to normal. People are going back to work, back outside, meeting their friends. Yet, the causal connection isn’t so evident. After […]

The post Are Cannabis Sales Slipping? appeared first on Cannabis News, Lifestyle – Headlines, Videos & Cooking.

Warrants Issued For Two Teens in Fatal Washington Dispensary Shooting

Warrants are out in Washington for a pair of teenaged boys allegedly involved in an armed robbery of a cannabis dispensary in the state that left an employee dead, as well as a number of other armed robberies in the area.

The Chronicle newspaper reports that Montrell Hatfield, 16, and Marshon Jones, 15, “are wanted in connection with a fatal shooting at a Tacoma marijuana dispensary and at least 10 armed robberies at pot shops in Pierce and King counties.”

On March 19, an employee at World of Weed in Tacoma, later identified as 29-year-old Jordan Brown, was fatally shot in the neck.

The Chronicle, citing court documents, reported that, during the incident, “Hatfield fought with an employee behind the cash register and Jones fatally shot the employee in the neck.”

“After ordering everybody to get on the ground, Hatfield allegedly fired a warning shot into the ceiling and approached the manager and other employees. He handed them garbage bags and ordered them to put all the money inside,” the newspaper reported. “Brown tossed the garbage bag back at Hatfield, put his hands in the air and stepped backward, records say. Hatfield and Brown then began fighting on the ground, according to witnesses and surveillance footage. Jones allegedly broke up the fight by shooting Brown in the neck. As the teens ran for the door, Jones told Hatfield ‘Don’t worry about them,’ records say.”

Prosecutors in Pierce County, Washington “have charged Hatfield with first-degree murder and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm,” while “Jones has also been charged.” A “third man who acted as their lookout while they robbed the stores at gunpoint has not been identified,” according to The Chronicle.

The newspaper said that prosecutors “expect to file charges against the teens in the future for four marijuana dispensary robberies in Tacoma and one in Pierce County,” and that the teens are also “suspected in five similar robberies in King County.”

On the same day as the fatal robbery, Hatfield and Jones allegedly robbed a dispensary in Seattle, and tried unsuccessfully to rob another in Tacoma.

Armed robberies of cannabis dispensaries have risen at an alarming rate in Washington, which made history when it legalized recreational pot use for adults via a ballot initiative in 2012. Last week, citing data from the in-state trade group the Craft Cannabis Coalition, the Seattle Times reported that “there have been around 67 armed robberies so far in 2022,” up from 34 and 27 in 2021 and 2020 respectively.

The trend has prompted lawmakers and other officials in Washington to sound the alarm over the vulnerability of cannabis establishments, which typically have large amounts of cash on hand. Earlier this month, state treasurer Mike Pellicciotti traveled to Washington, D.C. to urge passage of the Secured and Fair Enforcement Banking (SAFE) Act, which would allow banks to provide financial services to cannabis businesses––something the federal prohibition on pot currently precludes them from doing.

“You rob the places where the cash is,” Pellicciotti said, as quoted by local television station KING5. “These robberies are tragic. But these robberies are also preventable.”

Last month, Republican state Sen. Jim Honeyford introduced a bill that would have added an extra year to the prison sentence of anyone convicted of first or second degree robbery of a cannabis shop, the same penalty that’s reserved for individuals who rob a pharmacy.

“When people would ask the infamous bank robber Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, Sutton simply replied, ‘Because that’s where the money is.’ Well, that’s why people rob marijuana retailers,” Honeyford said at the time. “Due to federal banking rules, these businesses are almost entirely cash-only operations, making them a target for robberies and a magnet for criminals.”

The post Warrants Issued For Two Teens in Fatal Washington Dispensary Shooting appeared first on High Times.

Are States Redlining Cannabis Dispensaries?

“Urban decay” in America speaks a universal language, a vernacular seen and heard in movies, political ads and in real life. It sounds like this: Broken windows, vacant buildings, graffiti-covered walls and doors. Ne’er do-wells loitering outside liquor stores and pornography merchants (less visible in the online era but still a part of this classic trope). But thanks to cannabis legalization, struggling areas in America have another feature: legal cannabis dispensaries. The higher concentration of dispensaries in America’s lower income areas may be due to the destructive practice of “redlining.”

According to recent research out of Washington state and published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, along with other elements “polite society” may deem unsavory, cannabis dispensaries also tend to coalesce in lower-income areas, which in turn—since race so often correlates with class—also tend to be less white. 

The wealthier, whiter areas, by contrast, tend to limit or ban cannabis businesses outright. This in turn fuels a vicious cycle: Because cannabis dispensaries are lumped in with the pawn shops and liquor stores of Skid Row, cannabis dispensaries acquire an unsavory reputation—and then they’re shunted towards seedier parts of town in cities that newly legalize. 

This all adds up to a sort of post-legalization redlining—a phenomenon several scholars as well as activists are noticing. 

Though this new research was conducted in Washington, previous studies also found that adult-use cannabis stores “are more likely to concentrate in economically disadvantaged areas.” Similar situations are seen across the country. When a city council or county planning department determines the local “green zone”—the area of the city declared open for cannabis businesses—that area tends to be an industrial or low-income area. 

“Most cannabis green zones are in low-income areas, and it’s been causing problems for both the residents and cannabis businesses,” said Amber E. Senter, an Oakland, California-based cannabis entrepreneur and social-equity activist who co-founded Supernova Women, which advocates for BIPOC participation in the legal cannabis industry (and was not involved with the study). 

Keep in mind how cannabis legalization was pitched to policymakers and the public after decades of cannabis-centered drug war overpolicing and incarceration. The fact that these cannabis businesses are more often than not owned by white investors and entrepreneurs who are extracting revenue that once went to “traditional market” sellers from Black and Brown communities only further highlights what’s yet another shortcoming in marijuana legalization’s social-justice mission.

In the study, researchers from the University of Washington and the Oregon Public Health Division surveyed 10,009 people aged 18 to 25 living in Washington state. Surveys were collected from 2015 to 2019. Respondents were asked to report their cannabis use, whether cannabis was easy to access, and whether cannabis was deemed “acceptable” in their community. 

Respondents’ “neighborhood disadvantage,” a metric derived from “five US census variables,” was also assessed. And “neighborhood disadvantage” tended to indicate weekly or daily cannabis use as well as “greater perceived acceptability of cannabis use.” People who lived within one kilometer “of at least one cannabis retail outlet lived in census tracts with greater neighborhood disadvantage,” the researchers found.

Study authors noted it wasn’t immediately clear if people in low-income areas smoked cannabis because that’s where the cannabis was, or if coping with the stresses of living a disadvantaged, over-policed area meant more cannabis use. 

Authors did not respond to emails seeking comment on the redlining of cannabis dispensaries. However, “If similar findings continue to emerge,” they wrote in their study, “this may suggest that states should seek to limit the geographic availability of retail outlets in order to prevent population-wide increases in cannabis use and related harms.”

Cannabis Redlining Explained

What does de-facto cannabis redlining look like in action? New York State offers an example. The state legalized adult-use cannabis last year, but communities had until Dec. 31, 2021, to decide whether to ban dispensaries and consumption lounges. (In a departure from other states, cities and towns could not ban cultivation.) And according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, about half of the state did pass bans.

Where was cannabis banned? In Westchester County, a wealthy suburb immediately north of New York City and the second-wealthiest county in the state after Manhattan, most cities chose to ban. In St. Lawrence County, the second poorest (ahead of the Bronx), most cities, towns and villages have opted in.

New York is only the most recent example. In New Jersey, about 70 percent of the state “completely opted out of the recreational cannabis industry,” the New Jersey Herald reported last summer. Those 98 municipalities that did allow dispensaries—“mostly in South Jersey and Central Jersey,” according to the paper, with working-class and industrial areas in Newark allowed, but not the tonier suburbs of New York City—limited them to “one particular redevelopment area or zone.”

In New Jersey, at least some areas opted out because they felt the process was moving too quickly, or that they didn’t get enough guidance from the state. But some others associated cannabis with “quality-of-life” issues, like the fear of the Skid Rows described above. 

As Michael Soriano, the mayor of Parsippany-Troy Hills said, redlining (or marijuana zoning), his community “fits what our residents would allow and what our infrastructure had to offer.” And as a cannabis business consultant told the paper, the towns that opted in had lower median incomes and were eager to supplant their budgets with cannabis tax revenue.

There is nothing inherently seedy about a weed store, in the same way there is nothing inherently seedy about a store that sells liquor. Think of a high-end wine shop. Now think of a neon-lit storefront offering plastic bottles of cheap vodka from behind bullet-proof glass. They’re both in the same line of work; they both have a license from the same state regulator. 

The same is true with cannabis. Yet Americans and American policymakers think differently. Until they do, cannabis stores are victims of a policy that, regardless of intent, falls into the same patterns of behavior of cannabis prohibition. 

The post Are States Redlining Cannabis Dispensaries? appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Washington Wants Harsher Penalties for Dispensary Robbers

A proposal in Washington to impose harsher penalties for robbing cannabis retailers was approved by lawmakers in the state Senate last week. 

The legislation, Senate Bill 5927, would tack on a year to the prison sentence of an individual convicted of first or second degree robbery of a cannabis shop—which, as local television station KING 5 noted, is “the same sentence that is given to someone who robs a pharmacy.”

The sponsor of the bill, Republican state Senator Jim Honeyford, invoked a notorious 20th century American bank robber to convey the urgency behind the proposal.

“When people would ask the infamous bank robber Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, Sutton simply replied, ‘Because that’s where the money is.’ Well, that’s why people rob marijuana retailers,” Honeyford said, as quoted by KING 5. “Due to federal banking rules, these businesses are almost entirely cash-only operations, making them a target for robberies and a magnet for criminals.

“The number of robberies of cannabis stores is on the rise, and this bill would make improvements for not just the benefit of the retailers themselves, but for the public safety of the community as a whole,” Honeyford added.

The bill has now been referred to the state House for further debate.

According to a summary of the bill, cannabis retailers in Washington “have been suffering from an increasing number of, often violent, thefts which are frequently committed by retail crime rings,” a spike in theft that leads to “increased cost to the businesses and lost tax revenues for the state.”

“This bill is one prong in a multi-prong approach needed to combat retail theft and protect public safety. The bill provides a deterrent to would-be criminals and a tool for prosecutors in seeking convictions for this type of crime. Often, this type of crime does not get reported on by the media,” the bill summary reads. “This crime is a big problem, and everyone in the industry is worried about the chance that they could be the next victim. This bill represents one piece of a robust legislative strategy to deal with this issue. This is a cash business which makes retailers an attractive target for crime.”

The summary says there have been more than 35 robberies at cannabis retailers since New Year’s Day.

A spokesperson for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board told KING 5 that it “has been working to communicate safety guidelines with business owners,” including the following: “hire armed security guards, make frequent cash deposits so there isn’t much cash available in shops, post signs in businesses explaining that staff don’t have access to much cash, clearly communicate safety guidelines with staff so they know what to do in the event of a robbery.”

Honeyford’s bill says that the board’s “chief enforcement officer must regularly consult with the Washington state patrol to provide details of attempts or incidents of robbery in the first or second degree of a retail outlet and to discuss any evidence that indicates a pattern of, or coordinated effort by, a criminal enterprise.”

The bill isn’t the only change to Washington’s cannabis industry currently under consideration by the state legislature. Legislation currently before the state House would aim to “increase social equity and racial diversity in the cannabis trade,” according to the Seattle Times.

The bill would build on the recommendations of a task force to increase cannabis business ownership among people of color, creating “38 new retail and 25 new producer and processor licenses each year through 2029” while requiring “that these and any other new cannabis licenses may only be awarded to so-called social equity applicants until 2030, after which, 50 percent of licenses must be awarded to such applicants,” the newspaper reported.

The post Washington Wants Harsher Penalties for Dispensary Robbers appeared first on High Times.