Texas may be on the path to recreational marijuana


As every Texas resident is aware of, marijuana is illegal to possess, use, sell or produce in the state of Texas.

However, Texas just issued the first ever medical marijuana license to “Cansortium Texas” which will allow this company to sell, grow and process medical marijuana. The marijuana will be sold to patients with a specific, rare form of epilepsy.

This development could easily lead to a rapid growth of legal medical marijuana in the state of Texas. The path to recreational marijuana has seemingly always begun with the legalization of medical marijuana, just as Texas is doing.

States like Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington and a handful of others legalized the use and selling of medical marijuana, then eventually legalized the recreational use of marijuana. It starts with one or two licenses being administered to people or companies, much like in Texas, then it grows into even more people and companies receive licenses.

Then after a number of years pass, there seems to be a pattern among some states that have legalized medicinal marijuana that the legalization of recreational marijuana is sure to follow soon after.

Colorado has been a benchmark for marijuana legalization in the United States. After legalizing medicinal marijuana in 2000, the state legalized recreational use and sale of marijuana in 2014.

Oregon and California have followed in similar footsteps to Colorado with the legalization of medicinal marijuana, followed shortly by the legalization of recreational use of marijuana.

Because Texas is now following in the footsteps of these other states by legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana, this could eventually lead to the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in the state of Texas. It may take a significant number of years for it to be legalized recreationally, but the chances of it being legalized recreationally has a higher chance now than seemingly ever before.

The eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Since they all started with medicinal use, this is why it almost seems as if Texas is going to follow in the footsteps of these states. Texas has taken the first step by legalizing it medicinally.

Texas is a state that many thought would never see marijuana be legal in any sense of the word. But times have changed, and it if history is any indicator Texas may become a marijuana-friendly state after all.

Featured illustration by Max Raign



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Las Vegas officials waiting for Denver to act on pot lounges – Nation/World


Officials with authority over the Las Vegas Strip have decided to wait until the city of Denver approves the nation’s first marijuana club before they discuss licensing and regulating pot lounges in Sin City

The Associated Press

FILE – In this July 1, 2017 file photo, a man shops for marijuana at The Source dispensary in Las Vegas. Recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada on Saturday. Officials with authority over the Las Vegas Strip have decided to wait until the city of Denver approves the nation’s first marijuana club before they discuss licensing and regulating pot lounges in Sin City. Commissioners in Nevada’s Clark County on Tuesday, Sept. 19, decided they will wait for Denver to act. There’s been heavy demand for pot from Vegas tourists. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

FILE- In this July 1, 2017, file photo, people line up at the NuLeaf marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas. Officials with authority over the Las Vegas Strip have decided to wait until the city of Denver approves the nation's first marijuana club before they discuss licensing and regulating pot lounges in Sin City. Commissioners in Nevada's Clark County on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, decided they will wait for Denver to act. There's been heavy demand for pot from Vegas tourists. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

The Associated Press

FILE- In this July 1, 2017, file photo, people line up at the NuLeaf marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas. Officials with authority over the Las Vegas Strip have decided to wait until the city of Denver approves the nation’s first marijuana club before they discuss licensing and regulating pot lounges in Sin City. Commissioners in Nevada’s Clark County on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, decided they will wait for Denver to act. There’s been heavy demand for pot from Vegas tourists. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Officials with authority over the Las Vegas Strip on Tuesday decided to wait until the city of Denver approves the nation’s first marijuana club before they further discuss licensing and regulating pot lounges in Sin City.

Nevada launched legal sales of recreational pot on July 1, and there’s been heavy demand from tourists. But the law only allows it to be used in private homes, leaving visitors without a place to legally smoke the drug.

The initial discussion among commissioners in Nevada’s Clark County came after attorneys for the Legislature recently concluded that nothing in state law prohibits local governments from allowing the lounges. The commissioners at first said they wanted an opinion on the issue from the district attorney’s office, but as the discussion continued, they concluded they would rather wait.

“I don’t know if we need to be first or not, I don’t see any reason why we have to be the first, but we certainly have to be right,” commissioner James Gibson said during the public meeting. “…We have to make sure that when we do our part, we’re entirely consistent, we’re thorough in the way we’ve done it (and) we don’t make for ourselves a mess that it would take years to get out of.”

Denver allowed businesses to submit applications to open marijuana clubs in late August, but it hasn’t received any so far. The slow start was anticipated as the application is extensive, including a requirement that businesses get support from community groups.

Several companies still are exploring the idea and trying to line up the necessary support from community groups. At least one group called Denver Vape and Play hopes to file an application this fall with the city and released a Facebook video last week promoting their plans for a “vape bar” facility.

Adults in Nevada 21 years and older have been able to legally buy recreational marijuana since July 1. Public consumption is prohibited, including at Las Vegas’ world-famous casinos, bars, restaurants, parks, concerts and on U.S. property, from national forests to federally subsidized housing.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican former federal judge, initially opposed legalization of recreational marijuana voters approved last November but said he accepted the will of the people and pushed an early-sale program that began in July instead of waiting six months later as scheduled to expedite collection of revenue from state pot taxes.

Sandoval said he’s worried legalization of pot lounges might invite more federal scrutiny of Nevada’s pot sales — an issue that commissioners also addressed during Tuesday’s meeting.

Andrew Jolley, president of the Nevada Dispensary Association and a store owner, told The Associated Press after the meeting that a county advisory panel intends to present commissioners a plan involving a pilot project for a few lounges. He said the project would help better understand the “dos and don’ts and pitfalls” of operating the facilities.

“What I heard from the commission today is that they are open to the idea in concept, but they are not ready to move forward today,” Jolley said. “My reading of the situation is that they are looking for more concrete and specific ideas to discus and to debate when formulating their decision.

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Associated Press writer Kathleen Foody in Denver contributed to this report.

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO



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Las Vegas officials waiting for Denver to act on pot lounges


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Officials with authority over the Las Vegas Strip on Tuesday decided to wait until the city of Denver approves the nation’s first marijuana club before they further discuss licensing and regulating pot lounges in Sin City.

Nevada launched legal sales of recreational pot on July 1, and there’s been heavy demand from tourists. But the law only allows it to be used in private homes, leaving visitors without a place to legally smoke the drug.

The initial discussion among commissioners in Nevada’s Clark County came after attorneys for the Legislature recently concluded that nothing in state law prohibits local governments from allowing the lounges. The commissioners at first said they wanted an opinion on the issue from the district attorney’s office, but as the discussion continued, they concluded they would rather wait.

“I don’t know if we need to be first or not, I don’t see any reason why we have to be the first, but we certainly have to be right,” commissioner James Gibson said during the public meeting. “…We have to make sure that when we do our part, we’re entirely consistent, we’re thorough in the way we’ve done it (and) we don’t make for ourselves a mess that it would take years to get out of.”

Denver allowed businesses to submit applications to open marijuana clubs in late August, but it hasn’t received any so far. The slow start was anticipated as the application is extensive, including a requirement that businesses get support from community groups.

Several companies still are exploring the idea and trying to line up the necessary support from community groups. At least one group called Denver Vape and Play hopes to file an application this fall with the city and released a Facebook video last week promoting their plans for a “vape bar” facility.

Adults in Nevada 21 years and older have been able to legally buy recreational marijuana since July 1. Public consumption is prohibited, including at Las Vegas’ world-famous casinos, bars, restaurants, parks, concerts and on U.S. property, from national forests to federally subsidized housing.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican former federal judge, initially opposed legalization of recreational marijuana voters approved last November but said he accepted the will of the people and pushed an early-sale program that began in July instead of waiting six months later as scheduled to expedite collection of revenue from state pot taxes.

Sandoval said he’s worried legalization of pot lounges might invite more federal scrutiny of Nevada’s pot sales — an issue that commissioners also addressed during Tuesday’s meeting.

Andrew Jolley, president of the Nevada Dispensary Association and a store owner, told The Associated Press after the meeting that a county advisory panel intends to present commissioners a plan involving a pilot project for a few lounges. He said the project would help better understand the “dos and don’ts and pitfalls” of operating the facilities.

“What I heard from the commission today is that they are open to the idea in concept, but they are not ready to move forward today,” Jolley said. “My reading of the situation is that they are looking for more concrete and specific ideas to discus and to debate when formulating their decision.

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Associated Press writer Kathleen Foody in Denver contributed to this report.

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO

Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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Battenfeld: ‘Puff bus’ eyes route to Massachusetts


A Colorado company is eyeing Massachusetts to operate “mobile cannabis lounges” where customers hitch a ride on a party bus and smoke or vape weed to their hearts’ content as the bus tours local dispensaries, hotels and bars.

The “puff bus” is already in operation in Denver but the owners of the company, called “Loopr,” say they are looking to expand to other states, including California, Nevada and Massachusetts, in 2018.

Loopr is already advertising for Boston on a popular weed website called potguide.com.

“The ultimate social cannabis experience is launching summer 2018 in time for the start of recreational sales!” the ad proclaims.

Loopr’s website says the company “is preparing for operations in California, Massachusetts or wherever else the American people choose to end prohibition.”

Loopr founder and CEO Bryan Spatz said the company is currently lobbying officials in Los Angeles and Las Vegas to approve the service but hopes to begin working on bringing Loopr to Massachusetts sometime after recreational pot sales become legal in July 2018.

“Because Massachusetts is on a less aggressive schedule to launch recreational sales, we are not as far along in our planning there,” Spatz said in an email to the Herald.

“I intend to begin reaching out to state and local officials to discuss our model and make sure we can bring the same safe, reliable transportation service that doubles as mobile cannabis lounges to Massachusetts as we have in Denver now and hopefully LA & LV in early 2018,” he said.

Loopr’s website proclaims: “Besides using the biggest, baddest party buses loaded full of custom features for the ultimate cannabis experience, Loopr offers a unique network with curated routes that is fun, affordable and convenient for your transportation needs … Aboard the bus, Loopr offers the opportunity to consume cannabis any way you choose in an ultra-comfortable multimedia environment with curated music videos and laser light shows stimulating the senses.”

Pot experts say there’s a good chance the state Cannabis Control Commission would allow Loopr to operate, because current state law allows people to bring their own alcohol onto limos and party buses.

If pot is treated as equivalent to alcohol, then Loopr buses would be legal.

But it’s also possible that local cities and towns such as Boston may have to approve of the rolling cannabis buses, if they are treated as social clubs.

In Denver, Loopr has been a success so far. Riders use the Loopr app to buy one-day, three-day or monthly passes and get high inside the bus, which is equipped with free Wi-Fi, big-screen TVs and food and beverages. The bus is also available for private parties.

Customers cannot buy weed on the bus but the mobile lounge comes equipped with pot paraphernalia like “custom made bongs, dab rigs with e-nails and a four-person hookah-style vaporizer,” according to the Loopr website. The driver of the bus is separated from the action by a partition.

The bus makes a loop around the city, stopping at popular dispensaries, restaurants, sports bars and other tourist destinations while riders get on and off where they want.



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Home pot delivery coming to Nevada, says Segerblom


Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Published 5:35 p.m. PT Sept. 18, 2017

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The tour of Mynt was a part of the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Know Your City series.
Mark Robison/RGJ

State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, predicted Monday on Nevada Newsmakers that Nevada will soon have home delivery of recreational marijuana.

Segerblom, who helped guide regulations of Nevada’s medical and recreational marijuana industries through the Legislature, said home deliveries will begin soon after the state enacts permanent regulations next year.

“It’s a done deal,” Segerblom said. “We’re doing it right now for medical (marijuana). It works perfect.

“The police like it,” Segerblom said from a Clark County perspective. “Obviously, you have to verify who is getting it but it is no different than someone going to a store, showing an ID and buying it.”

More: Marijuana and beer festival coming to Reno

More: Sandoval: ‘From the beginning’ I worried about Feds cracking down on recreational marijuana

Home delivery make sense for Nevada since homes are currently the only legal places where recreational marijuana can be legally consumed in Nevada, according to state laws.

“It’s workable,” Segerblom said.

Segerblom said he also disagrees with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s stance that legal pot lounges — where tourists and locals could go to consume marijuana — are a bad idea. Sandoval said the lounges could invite unwanted federal scrutiny to Nevada’s recreational marijuana industry.

Segerblom said having public places to consume marijuana should lessen federal attention, “because the flip side is what is happening now. We are selling $1 million a day in marijuana to tourists and no one knows where they are using it. The reality is, (tourists) are going back to their hotel room, back to the casino and back to the place we don’t want them. That, to me, would bring federal attention.”

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Nevada resorts and casinos can have no part in the state’s legal recreational marijuana long as marijuana consumption and possession is viewed as a felony by federal authorities, state gaming regulators have said.

A recent opinion from Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau said state law does not bar counties or municipalities from allowing marijuana lounges.

“The reality is that is we are inviting 40 million tourists a year to come here and buy it,” Segerblom said about recreational marijuana. “We have $70 million in our (state general fund) budget just from the 10-percent excise tax, which basically is equivalent to $1 million a day in marijuana sales for the next two years.

“So let’s just figure out how people can use it publicly by making sure that No. 1, people who use it are 21 and older; and secondly, they don’t use it then go out and get in their car and drive home,” he said.

Segerblom also praised Sandoval for the work he did with the taxation of recreational marijuana and the help he gave the industry to quickly get up and running.

“So we can all have our own opinions,” Segerblom said. “But to me the best thing would be to have a place where you can legitimately go and everyone can see. They buy it over here. They go over there and use it. It is in public and it is all kosher.”

The current structure of legal-pot-but-nowhere-to-smoke-it is hypocritical, Segerblom said.

“Do we at least tell people, ‘Come to Nevada, buy our marijuana — which we are doing — and here is where you can use it?'” Segerblom said. “Or do we say, ‘Come to Nevada, buy our pot and the truth is, you can’t use it anywhere. Plus, you can’t take it back home with you.’

“That to me, is the hypocrisy of the way we are doing things,” Segerblom said.

Segerblom said he is not a lonely voice pushing for marijuana lounges.

“The fact is, local law enforcement, at least here in Clark County, wants the pot lounges. They want places where people can use it. The casinos want it because they want places where people can use it. So this is not something where I am the only one talking about it. Everybody is talking about it.”

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Marapharm Ventures Inc. Announces That the First Plants Are Being Grown in the Las Vegas, Nevada Facility


KELOWNA, British Columbia, September 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ —

Marapharm Ventures Inc. (“Marapharm” or the “Company”) (CSE: MDM.CN) (FSE: 2M0) (OTCQB: MRPHF) is growing plants at it’s facility in Las Vegas. The seeds have “popped” and photos are available at http://www.marapharm.com.

“The plants become ‘moms’ and cuttings are taken which become production plants. There are several thousand resultant cuttings from a mom over the lifetime of the plant. Marapharm’s plants will be transported to larger buildings on site once construction is completed and will produce up to 4 harvests per year. The average wholesale prices in Las Vegas for cannabis are $2800 per pound. One plant in the Marapharm facility will yield up to $175 based on current market conditions. Cannabis sales are predicted to hit $30 billion in the United States by 2021 and Marapharm is positioned to be an industry leader in Las Vegas!” Linda Sampson, Marapharm CEO.

Construction of Marapharm’s buildings in Las Vegas is progressing and they have begun the genetic selection process. Marapharm’s commitment to excellence begins with selecting the highest quality plant genetics.

Varieties have been selected that are well known in the cannabis culture for their award winning history and legendary names. These genetics are sourced from the best breeders in the industry and 41 potential mothers have been germinated from legendary cannabis companies such as DNA Genetics, Barney’s Farm, Elemental Seeds and Rare Dankness. The final variety selection will be based on similar criteria used by High Times to select Cannabis Cup winning strains. Marapharm will use test results, visual appeal, smell, and alignment with internal cultivation protocols. Strains include award winners such as Kosher Kush, White Widow and Blue Cheese.

ABOUT MARAPHARM VENTURES INC.

http://www.marapharm.com

Marapharm is a publicly traded company primarily investing in the medical and recreational cannabis space, with corporate operations based in British Columbia, Canada. Since 2016 they have rapidly expanded their footprint to include production locations in the key North American states of Washington, Nevada, and California. They actively seek expansion opportunities worldwide.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

http://www.marapharm.com or Linda Sampson, CEO 778-583-4476 email [email protected]

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marapharm

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/marapharm

STOCK EXCHANGES:

Marapharm trades in Canada, ticker symbol MDM on the CSE, in the United States, ticker symbol MRPHF on the OTCQB, and in Europe, ticker symbol 2Mo on the FSE. Marapharm also trades on other recognized platforms in Europe including Stuttgart, Tradegate, L & S, Quotnx, Dusseldorf, Munich, and Berlin.

Neither the CSE, the FSE nor the OTCQB® has approved nor disapproved the contents of this press release. Neither the CSE, the FSE nor the OTCQB® accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

FORWARD – LOOKING STATEMENTS:

Certain statements contained in this news release constitute forward looking statements. The use of any of the words “anticipate”, “continue”, “estimate”, “expect”, ‘may”, “will”, “project”, “should”, ‘believe”, and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumption but no assurance can be given that these expectations will prove to be correct and the forward-looking statements included in this news release should not be unduly relied upon.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

http://www.marapharm.com or Linda Sampson, CEO +1-778-583-4476 email [email protected]

SOURCE Marapharm Ventures Inc.



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UC Berkeley’s first female chancellor


As California prepares for a cannabis business boom, Oakland’s Salwa Ibrahim shows off the industry’s potential—and what obstacles lie ahead.

By Nicholas Boer

Published:


As California prepares for a cannabis business boom, Oakland’s Salwa Ibrahim shows off the industry’s potential—and what obstacles lie ahead.


When she began remodeling her business, one of the first things Salwa Ibrahim got rid of was the bulletproof glass. It was a relic of a rougher era of the cannabis industry and this stretch of West Grand Avenue in Oakland; she’s proud to have played a role in the progress of both. The glass once separated the founder of Blüm Oakland—the medical marijuana dispensary that she started in 2012—from the customers waiting in line to purchase bar-coded packets of marijuana flowers. Ostensibly, the products are for medicinal purposes only, since selling cannabis for recreational use won’t be legal in California until January 2018. While one of the “bud tenders” asks a patient—they are never referred to as customers—if she’d like to apply rewards points to her purchase, Ibrahim takes out a couple of packets from labeled drawers and opens them to compare their fragrances.


“This is where our industry parallels wine,” she says, before sniffing deeply from a bag of Private Reserve OG, which has a lemon verbena scent, then Presidential Cheese, which emits an earthy funk.


Aside from the 50 varieties of flowers available for purchase, the dispensary also stocks cannabis-infused gummies, cotton candy, lollipops, butter, chocolate, and an array of topical creams and even bath soaks. Dressed in a sleek black top and jeans, with silver hoops in her ears, the fresh-faced Ibrahim could easily pass for a Napa tasting-room pourer. But as she strolls through the Blüm complex—made up of a retail store, an inventory room, grow rooms, offices, and laboratories—it’s clear the 33-year-old Walnut Creek native and mother of one is much more than a ganja connoisseur: She is one of the rising leaders of the cannabis industry.



A Booming Industry 


Every corner of Blüm hums with activity. In a processing room, employees sort and package a variety of smokable, “vapable,” edible, and topical products. In the extraction lab, employee Patrick Jones—dressed in a T-shirt that shows off his heavily tattooed arms—monitors a wall of ovens cooking up a potent concentrate that looks like peanut brittle without the nuts. In another room, a UC Berkeley–trained chemist carefully uses a still to further refine concentrated resin into an oil. 


It is a good time to get involved in the cannabis business. According to research firm New Frontier Data, the industry already brings in nearly $3 billion in California and is expected to more than double that amount to $6.5 billion by 2020. One engine expected to push this explosive growth? Proposition 64, approved by voters last November, which legalized recreational use of marijuana.  


For consumers, this means that you’ll no longer have to consult a doctor and pay for a medical marijuana card to buy cannabis products. And it should mean a larger market for the dozens of dispensaries and delivery services scattered across the East Bay.  It also could mean rough sailing for resellers. Not only is marijuana still illegal under federal law, a host of logistical issues—including how to handle cash-only transactions, how to collect taxes, and how to navigate municipal zoning regulations—may complicate matters further.

As recent events in Nevada show, a simple oversight in state law can result in chaos for businesses and consumers. On July 1, the state started allowing recreational sales of marijuana. Customers descended like locusts on the dispensaries, including Blüm’s four locations in Nevada, clearing shelves within days. Meanwhile, the new law restricted distributors from transporting cannabis products until they applied for a special license, preventing stores from quickly resupplying. But Ibrahim doesn’t believe California will face a similar crisis. In fact, she openly wonders if the state will see a boost in the cannabis market at all. “I feel like California has always had a quasi-legal environment to begin with, it being so easy to get a medical card,” she says.


“There is a little debate over whether 2018 is going to be a huge spike in business or not.”


Either way, Blüm will have to complete binders of paperwork—a familiar routine for Ibrahim, after a decade in the cannabis business—to apply for a new retail license to sell for recreational use. Meanwhile, Ibrahim is busy expanding the company: She plans to open a new dispensary in San Leandro this winter. And if there is a bump in demand, the Oakland branch is ready. Once the lines at the main counter or the vape bar get too long, customers can head straight to a pair of tall vending machines that offer a huge variety of edibles and fresh buds, which are purchased from a touch screen. Payment, like at the counter, is cash only.


“We can’t expand much more here, so this was a pretty good solution for us,” says Ibrahim, tapping the screen to select a cannabis-infused chocolate bar. 


New Faces


The burgeoning market has attracted many like Ibrahim, who were neophytes to the cannabis industry before the recent push to legalize. Ibrahim was introduced to the business while working on a project in 2008 to rebuild the Fox Theater in Oakland. “I did a lot of fundraising that required us to go into the neighborhood. At the time, there were many rogue dispensaries around the theater,” she says.  Rather than hamper the Fox Theater project, these illicit businesses became instrumental to its success, donating thousands of dollars to the cause. Shortly after the theater was rebuilt, Ibrahim was offered a job as an executive assistant at Oaksterdam University, the Oakland-based, cannabis-focused college founded by Richard Lee. Intrigued, she accepted the position. Curiosity quickly turned into a passion for the business. She ventured out on her own a few years later, founding Blüm. Since 2012, her five dispensaries have grossed revenues totaling more than $40 million, and they are on track this year to gross $30 million. Ibrahim’s success has won her admiration from the industry. One of her fans is Bill Koziol, the executive director of two local dispensaries—Telegraph Health Center in Oakland and Green Remedy in Richmond.


“The industry has a reputation of having renegade, drug-dealer roots,” says Koziol, who recently partnered with Ibrahim and her husband, Martin Kaufman, on an (ultimately unsuccessful) effort to open a dispensary in Marin County. In contrast, he found Ibrahim’s business savvy and integrity refreshing. She is an “all-star,” says Koziol, helping provide the industry a sense of legitimacy. 



A Lingering Stigma


Still, the cannabis industry hasn’t completely shaken off its reputation as a criminal enterprise. Ibrahim is keenly aware of just how far the industry has come—and how much further it still has to go. She lent her support to the previous decriminalization push in 2010 (Proposition 19, which was rejected by the voters) as well as Prop 64. And she was reminded of marijuana’s tenuous legal status in 2012, when federal authorities raided Oaksterdam University. Though she doesn’t consider the new law perfect, Ibrahim thinks it’s a step in the right direction, and she is optimistic about the future, after watching the cannabis industry bloom with little push back from residents in Colorado and Washington, which both legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.


Others are more skeptical. City officials across the East Bay are scrambling to balance issues of public safety and zoning with the fact that a resounding majority of the region’s population voted for Prop 64. Even some cannabis users are worried about how it will all play out. Karen, a medical marijuana patient and Walnut Creek resident who did not want her last name printed because she is currently looking for a new job, says that even though she voted for Prop 64, she wonders if wider legalization will make marijuana too freely available. “My concern is with minors getting weed,” says the 56-year-old former teacher, who sometimes uses cannabis-infused chocolate-covered coffee beans and other products to quell her anxiety. Not all residents share her concern, however. Thelma Bronet, who also lives in Walnut Creek, believes it’s a nonissue.

“I have [teenage] grandchildren. I said, ‘When you grow up, you can make your own decisions,’ ” says Bronet, who uses medical marijuana for chronic pain. “I think it’s much safer than some of the other things kids are doing.” Nevertheless, Walnut Creek Police Chief Tom Chaplin warned at a city council meeting before the election that increased usage among minors is one of the potential consequences of Prop 64. Another one is the risk of increased road accidents. (Colorado reported an uptick in marijuana-related traffic deaths after legalization.) The council issued a symbolic vote formally opposing Prop 64 before the election. But once the proposition passed—with the support of 61 percent of the city’s voters—Walnut Creek officials moved forward, trying to figure out how to safely regulate it. Currently, the new law lets local governments decide whether to allow retail outlets and outdoor cultivation. So far, San Ramon and Danville have banned dispensaries as well as delivery services within their city limits, while Walnut Creek recently placed a 22-month moratorium on dispensaries and outdoor cultivation. Meanwhile, Concord, Orinda, Martinez, and Pleasanton have restricted or banned outdoor cultivation.


In contrast, other cities have embraced legalization—or at least are warming up to it. As of July 21, more than 80 people have applied for cannabis business permits in Oakland; a little further inland, Livermore is considering opening its doors to a medical marijuana store—more than two years after the city raided and shuttered its only dispensary.

But even if cities are inclined to further regulate within their borders, it’s nearly impossible to keep marijuana out. For example, on the other side of the Bay, cannabis businesses have clustered just outside the border of San Mateo County, which has banned dispensaries. A similar situation could happen in the East Bay. And that’s before addressing the wishes of the public, who may want fewer regulations and be willing to take their business to nearby communities that are more accepting of cannabis ventures. 


The Court of Public Opinion


That’s the situation facing Walnut Creek, says Mayor Rich Carlston. A recent survey found that 60 percent of its residents believe businesses like Blüm should be allowed to operate within the city. While most agree that smoking pot should not be allowed in public (the city council voted in June to extend its existing smoking ban to include weed), 64 percent are fine with their neighbors growing weed outdoors. “I tend to be more of a conservative person,” admits Carlston. “[But] my personal feelings are somewhat irrelevant to what I need to do as a public servant at this point. The issue is how do we implement Proposition 64 in Walnut Creek, and how can we best provide for public safety?”

Some of the loudest proponents for more lax regulations have been members of the Rossmoor Medical Marijuana Club in Walnut Creek, which counts more than 700 members in the gated senior community.


Renée Lee, cofounder and president of the club, opposes many of the restrictions being considered—and in some cases, enacted—by local 

governments, including limits on how many marijuana plants you can own and bans on outdoor cultivation. (Prop 64 permits Californians to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use but allows cities to regulate further cultivation.)


“The thing about growing indoors is that it’s dangerous, and you have to have lights, a ventilation system, and the room dedicated to it,” says Lee. A number of Rossmoor residents have their own marijuana plants, she adds. Carlston is wary, however, arguing that such steps may cause unanticipated problems. What if, for example, towering outdoor cannabis plants attract thieves to once-safe neighborhoods? And would the fact that the cannabis industry is largely a cash-only business lead to a rash of crime? (Ibrahim notes that Blüm’s extensive use of security cameras and guards outside her Oakland shop has lowered the crime rate in the area. Since opening in 2012, she says managers have never had to call the police.)


In addition, while a majority of the city voted for legalization, surveys and public meetings show many are split on how marijuana should be regulated, setting up conflicts between 420-friendly homes and more conservative neighbors. “As a simple illustration, if you’re in a condo complex on the top floor and someone downstairs is smoking—that could have an impact, especially if you have small kids,” says Carlston. The law allows apartment building owners to ban cannabis on their property, but condo associations would have to address the issue through their homeowner associations, potentially pitting neighbor against neighbor. Chaplin hopes to establish a working relationship with any cannabis businesses that come to town. He points to how the police department partners with downtown bars to ensure public safety. “I think that open dialogue is necessary,” says Chaplin. Cities are already seeking ways to reap the tax revenue benefits of marijuana, including a proposal in Oakland that would require businesses to turn over 25 percent of their profits. Another suggestion involves levying a special recreational marijuana surcharge on every purchase of a cannabis product. Cities that allow retail sale and outdoor cultivation of plants can also apply for a share of the tax revenue collected by the state, in the form of grants for law enforcement, fire protection, and other local programs addressing public health and safety. Nothing is straightforward, however. The League of California Cities warns that cities taxing cannabis operations will have to figure out what to do with the cash collected, since not all banks will accept deposits from the federally banned business. Indeed, states like Colorado are still struggling to come up with solutions to this problem. But for cities like Oakland and Berkeley, which already have dispensaries, and Alameda, Concord, and Livermore, which are considering lifting their bans on dispensaries, the potential windfall from marijuana sales may be too tempting to ignore.


Bringing It Home


For many residents, the desire for a dispensary is simpler: They want a local option to shop for cannabis products. Karen, who gets her coffee beans and other edibles delivered to her door, doesn’t see a problem with a marijuana store in Walnut Creek; she thinks it would be no different from having another wine bar in town. “It’s already here; there are two dispensaries that deliver. Banning them would be like closing the barn door after the cows are out,” she says. Ibrahim hopes that Walnut Creek doesn’t follow the lead of neighbors like Danville and San Ramon, which have banned cannabis sales for both recreational and medical purposes. She says she would “love it more than anything” to someday open a Blüm in the city where she grew up. “It would be really nice to bring access to my hometown,” says Ibrahim. “I think if done properly, it could serve the needs of the East Bay in a way that Walnut Creek could be proud of.” blumoak.com.


Burning Questions


With the passage of Proposition 64 last November, recreational use of marijuana in California is now legal. But what does the law say exactly? Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s allowed—and what isn’t.


The basics: Adults over the age of 21 are allowed to obtain, possess, and gift to another adult up to one ounce of marijuana and eight grams of concentrated cannabis. But don’t think you can start puffing away anywhere you like. Public use is prohibited, and property owners as well as employers can forbid tenants and employees, respectively, from possessing or consuming marijuana products.


Rules on growing: The law allows cultivation of up to six marijuana plants per household. However, cities have a lot of leeway under the law to regulate where you can grow your plants and how secure your residence must be.


Limits on selling: Cities can ban both medical and recreational dispensaries. So far, Danville and San Ramon have voted to prohibit dispensaries, while Walnut Creek has enacted a 22-month moratorium on the issue. 


Delivering the goods: Medical marijuana delivery services are extremely popular, but it is unclear if Prop 64 will permit recreational deliveries. Before the election last year, a superior court judge in Sacramento ruled that the proposition would allow home deliveries only if a product was purchased at a brick-and-mortar store, but many in the industry dispute that interpretation.


Getting legal: California will begin issuing business licenses for recreational marijuana sellers in January. Until then, only medicinal marijuana can be sold and purchased. —Casey Cantrell


Got Bud


With Several cannabis businesses in the East Bay and more popping up every day, it can be difficult to figure out which ones are worth your patronage. For example, Which marijuana brand offers better products? Are the prices reasonable at that dispensary? Is this delivery service reliable? 


One solution: Weedmaps, a website and mobile app that serves as the Yelp for the marijuana industry. The free app compiles businesses and services based on your location, and includes information about menus, prices and deals, hours, photos, and other details. It also provides a score out of five stars based on user reviews. 

Available on iTunes and Google Play, weedmaps.com. —C.C.



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Marijuana in Idaho: Elko County bans dispensaries outside cities | Southern Idaho Local News


ELKO, Nev. — Marijuana may be legal in Nevada, but don’t expect dispensaries to join casinos among Jackpot’s illegal-in-Idaho tourist draws.

A majority of voters in Elko County, as in most of the state’s more Republican counties, voted against the legalization initiative that passed with 54 percent of the statewide vote last November. And county commissioners decided in early September to ban marijuana dispensaries outside of the county’s four incorporated cities.

“The incorporated cities can have a dispensary, but Elko County was awarded two licenses by the state and Elko County voted not to utilize those two in rural areas,” Commissioner Cliff Elkund told the Times-News. “The incorporated cities, that’s their decision.”

State law limits Elko and other counties with fewer than 55,000 people to two dispensaries each. Jackpot is not incorporated; the county’s four incorporated cities are Elko, Carlin, West Wendover and Wells. West Wendover, near the border with pot-unfriendly Utah, is attempting to approve an ordinance to allow a dispensary.

The other cities haven’t made any decisions yet, Elkund said. The closest of those cities to the Idaho border, Wells, is about an hour and 45 minutes’ drive from Twin Falls but an hour-and a half closer than Huntington, Ore., the nearest place where recreational marijuana is currently sold legally. Twin Falls County has not yet seen a noticeable increase in marijuana arrests due to the change in Nevada’s law, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Lori Stewart said.

And even those cities won’t have recreational dispensaries until November 2018 at the earliest, said Stephanie Klapstein, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Taxation, which is in charge of the licensing. Until then, the closest recreational dispensaries in Nevada are the ones in the Reno area.

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“The way the ballot initiative was written, only existing medical marijuana establishments can apply for recreational licenses for the first 18 months of the program,” she said. “There are currently no medical marijuana dispensaries in Elko County, so no one there is eligible to apply for a recreational store license until that 18-month mark.”

The ban on rural dispensaries passed 3-2. According to the Elko Daily Free Press, Zack Wood of Jackpot showed up at the meeting with a petition signed by about 60 residents who wanted recreational marijuana establishments in the border town.

“There is no money coming into that town,” Wood told commissioners, adding that it might create jobs and bring funding for community development. “We want this … Think about all the money that we can bring in.”



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Pot at poker tables? N.J. looks to boost coffers


New Jersey reaped billions from slot machines and blackjack tables in the decades before casino fever jumped state lines. With Atlantic City’s gambling heyday now past, politicians in the Garden State are aiming to grab marijuana’s riches while neighbors again play catch-up.

Democrat Phil Murphy, with a 25 percentage-point lead in New Jersey’s race for governor, has vowed to legalize recreational pot statewide, and has support from key lawmakers likely to win re-election in November. His Republican challenger, Kim Guadagno, has said she favors decriminalizing the drug, even after serving almost eight years as lieutenant to term-limited Gov. Chris Christie, who condemns casual marijuana use and calls its profits “blood money.”

Beyond the political will and public opinion favoring legalization, New Jersey has a financial incentive to beat New York and Pennsylvania for access to a legalized market where North American consumers spent $6.7 billion in 2016. Its pension system is the least-funded among states, and annual payments are increasing pressure on its budget. New Jersey’s key indicators will trail the nation’s significantly through 2026, with slowing population and job growth, according to a July report by Rutgers University’s Economic Advisory Service.

“It’s the next opportunity for what I see as an employment boom in New Jersey,” said Democratic State Sen. Nick Scutari, whose pot legalization bill had hearings in June, with the understanding that it would be fine-tuned before any voting early next year. Another proposal, by Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, would ask voters to permit pot just in Atlantic City.

Marijuana is outlawed federally, and in New Jersey possession is punishable by a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. More than two dozen states, though, including New Jersey and soon in Arkansas, allow consumption for medical purposes, and recreational use is law in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.

In August, Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced a bill to legalize the drug nationally, even as the Trump administration remains opposed and his Republican Party controls Congress.

The New Jersey Libertarian Party last year issued a statement on April 20 — international “Weed Day” — declaring that in legalized states, predictions about higher crime and the spread of more powerful drugs haven’t panned out. State chapter leaders of the NAACP and the Latino Action Network told lawmakers in Trenton that minority users are disproportionately penalized, with lives derailed by convictions for what often were youthful indiscretions. Legal experts, including a county prosecutor, testified that enforcement funding would be better spent on public safety.

Fifty-nine percent of New Jerseyans support possession for adult personal use, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of 1,121 registered voters surveyed Sept. 7-12. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The state’s sentiment on pot legalization is similar to the 61 percent of Americans who backed it in a CBS News poll conducted in April. Two years earlier, 51 percent supported it. In 1979, eight years after then-President Richard Nixon declared illicit drugs to be “public enemy No. 1,” just 27 percent favored it.

Murphy, running for governor after serving as U.S. ambassador to Germany and a Goldman Sachs executive in Hong Kong and Frankfurt, told a town hall crowd in Lambertville in February that he was “all in to legalize marijuana” on justice merits alone. The financial boost, he said, was a sweetener.

“God knows we need every penny we can find,” Murphy said. “That’s $300 million to $500 million we don’t have at the moment that we could use.”

New Jersey used to count on Atlantic City for instant cash during the decades it was the nation’s second-largest gambling market behind Las Vegas. Casino revenue peaked in 2006, though, and slid for the next 10 years as gambling came to New York and Pennsylvania, forcing New Jersey to shed five of 12 casinos and 11,000 jobs. Last year, the state tax take was $237 million, just 57 percent of the best year’s payout.

New Jersey lawmakers saw a way to undo that damage and then some on a tour of Colorado growers and retailers last year, when that state collected $157 million in taxes on pot sales.

“Colorado went from 40th in job growth to No. 4,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat from West Deptford who was on the trip. “It’s becoming one of the youngest states in the nation — they have a growth explosion because people are moving there.”

In Pennsylvania, marijuana-related prosperity like that is years off, says Democratic State Rep. Edward Gainey of Pittsburgh. He sponsored the medical-use bill signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in April 2016, more than three years after New Jersey dispensaries started supplying the drug to patients.

“It’s too soon for businesses and lobbyists to come in” to advocate for another major marijuana law change, Gainey said. “Decriminalization would be one step before legalization.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat in a state with a divided legislature, in January proposed decriminalizing marijuana possession, though he remains opposed to legalizing recreational use. State Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan who has unsuccessfully pitched a recreational bill three times, said any progress New Jersey makes is likely to push New York.

“It’s not a structural ‘How-the-hell-would-you-do-it?’ legislation,” Krueger said. “The public is ahead of the political comfort level here.”

In New Jersey, lawmakers and lobbyists said the goal is to have legislation signed within the first 100 days of what they presume will be a Democratic administration. Sales would start about a year later, with particular focus on what other states are doing.

“It’s about the importance of having the right-size market, so you don’t grow so big that you can’t serve the community you seek,” said Scott Rudder, a former Republican state assemblyman who is president of the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association, a trade group. “We saw that with the downsizing of the casino industry. Whatever the blueprint turns out to be in New Jersey, it has to be something that can provide a stable economy from a jobs-, tax base- and revenue-planning perspective.”

SundayMonday Business on 09/17/2017

Print Headline: Pot at poker tables? N.J. looks to boost coffers



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Will Las Vegas Be ‘Amsterdam on Steroids’? Door Opens for Pot Lounges


What happens in Vegas will still stay in Vegas — but perhaps no longer behind closed doors, at least when it comes to pot.

Earlier this week, Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau gave the green light for marijuana to be permitted in public places, as long as patrons are of legal age. Citing a lack of state law, the bureau said cities and counties could create their own ordinances governing marijuana consumption in businesses.

Pro-marijuana advocates hailed it as a logical next step for the state, which was the most recent to legalize recreational weed. Nevada started allowing adults 21 and older to buy it on July 1, but like the other four states where it’s legal, restricts its use to private residences.

That’s posed a particular challenge for Nevada, where the economy is highly dependent on visitors who stay in hotels and play in casinos.

State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, a dogged champion of marijuana legalization, sees the opinion from the state legal body as an opportunity to turn Sin City into “Amsterdam on steroids.”

“We’re inviting 40 million people to come here and buy marijuana, but then we turn around and say there’s no place to use it,” Segerblom said of the annual influx of tourists who go to Las Vegas.

“I think Vegas is perfect for this,” he added. “That’s what we do. We regulate vices.”

Related: Nevada Marijuana Dispensaries Are Already Running Low on Pot

The bureau issued its opinion in a letter on Sunday to Segerblom, who had requested clarification on Nevada law after a measure earlier this year that would have legalized so-called pot lounges died in the state legislature.

Segerblom said pot lounges could be standalone venues with dispensaries, similar to the coffee shops in Amsterdam that sell edibles.




Image: Russell Diercks smokes marijuana inside of Frankie Sports Bar and Grill in Olympia

A man uses a pipe to smoke marijuana.