Month: May 2020

Too Many Veterans Are Still Being Forced Into the Illegal Market

Monday was Memorial Day, when the United States takes a day to remember members of our armed forces that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Unfortunately, our nation doesn’t do enough for veterans and their families. Too often, supporting our troops is just a slogan, and our government doesn’t put in place the services and policies to adequately address the needs of those that signed up to protect us. From their pay to their healthcare, we need to do better for those currently in the military and those that have moved back into the private sector. Cannabis policy is certainly no exception and it’s past time that our veterans be allowed to utilize cannabis without fear. Unfortunately, Uncle Sam is pushing too many veterans into the illegal, underground market.

Politico reports:

Even as marijuana legalization continues to expand across the country (33 states have some form of legal marijuana on their books and well-known former politicians have becomes spokesmen for the cannabis industry), many of the nation’s 18.2 million veterans occupy an uncomfortable limbo between rapidly liberalizing cultural attitudes and an unbending federal standard that hasn’t changed since the 1970s. Veterans looking for alternatives to addictive and dangerous opioids and other pharmaceuticals are effectively prevented from using marijuana, by price, policy and quite often the ongoing stigma that marijuana still carries.

***

Veterans are also a group in crisis. A 2012 report by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that up to 22 veterans were dying by suicide daily. While the VA has since lowered that statistic, some veterans’ advocacy groups say that number is probably much higher—closer to 50 a day—when opioid overdoses and despair over opioid addiction are taken into account.

The VA and lawmakers “need to understand how important cannabis is to veterans,” says Patrick Seifert, a Marine Corps veteran who founded the Twenty22Many advocacy group in Olympia, Washington. “There’s no demographic that benefits more from cannabis.”

With evidence showing that medical cannabis access helping opioid patients decrease their use of addictive narcotics and a reduction in opioid prescriptions overall, it is time that the federal government do right by our veterans and allow medicinal cannabis as a part of their healthcare. They’ve given too much to be forced to buy from the unregulated, illegal market or to take more addictive and lethal drugs. Let’s not pay lip service to supporting the military. Allowing cannabis use won’t fix all of the problems facing our service members and veterans, but it’s a start.

A friendly reminder that Kind Leaf provides a 15% discount to all registered Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patients and a 10% discount to all veterans. Order online or come on into the store and peruse the biggest and best inventory in the Great Northwest.

Med Men Debacle Illustrates the Value of Supporting Craft Cannabis Boutiques

Splashy corporate mergers and big stock deals make for great headlines, but for those with a lot of experience in the cannabis industry, we know that the so-called “Green Rush” has been much more hype than substance when it comes to long-term success. Quality products and solid business practices that build strong relationships with top-notch companies and local communities go much further than a shaky foundation built upon public relations and marketing. Politico’s expose of Med Men illustrates the benefit of supporting craft cannabis boutiques like Pendleton’s Kind Leaf instead of multinational corporations that are only about the bottom dollar.

From Politico’s “Lavish Parties, Greedy Pols and Panic Rooms: How the ‘Apple of Pot’ Collapsed:

In October of 2018, MedMen announced a deal to purchase PharmaCann, an Illinois-based retailer with operations in several states, for nearly $700 million in stock. It was to be the largest-ever cannabis acquisition in the U.S., and the move played well with investors.

But by the end of the year, the spending and the bravado began to catch up with Bierman. In the second half 2018 alone, MedMen lost more than $130 million according to its disclosures.

In November, two MedMen subsidiaries were hit with a class-action lawsuit in a Los Angeles court alleging labor law violations. At the time, a MedMen spokesman told Marijuana Business Daily, “We offer competitive compensation and strive to cultivate a thriving work environment.” The case remains ongoing.

***

In April, cannabis sales in Florida set a record. Yet in the first week of May, in the latest sign of corporate distress, MedMen shuttered five of its eight retail locations in the state, a move it is describing as temporary. In contrast to the company’s ballyhooed store openings, the closures came abruptly and without explanation.

While companies like Kind Leaf don’t make international headlines, they chug along, doing what they do best: providing top-shelf cannabis and products while helping build up their local community and burgeoning industry. By supplying the biggest selection of strains and instituting programs that uplift local families and the city of Pendleton, Kind Leaf has become an example for others to follow. Sustained success over time and doing good deeds are simply good business practices that can help any company weather any storm. As members of the cannabis community, let’s seek out and support craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf over the Apple-of-Cannabis wannabees looking to cash in big for their executives and shareholders.

75246602_970831779958711_8016427437166428160_n

Oregon Cannabis Sales Up 60% During Coronavirus Pandemic

Oregon cannabis sales are stronger than ever. Many thought that the record-breaking first quarter sales might just be the result of consumers stocking up before businesses were ordered to close, but sales have flourished during the coronavirus pandemic. State fiscal analysts expect the industry to expect a bit of a decline, along with every other business sector as the state recovers from the economic consequences of the COVID-19 health crisis, but I think that these experts may be missing something.

From the Oregon Department of Administrative Services Economic Forecast:

Marijuana sales during the pandemic have been quite strong. The dollar amount of recreational sales since March 1st are up 60 percent relative to a year ago. These increases are not only related to the stockpiling consumers did after the sheltering in place policies were enacted, but have continued through April and early May.

Interestingly, the share of home delivery sales has more than doubled in recent months but remains just 1.4 percent of all sales. Consumers still prefer to shop in store.

Some of the increases in sales of usable marijuana are in part due to rising prices, but underlying demand is up as well. The increase in sales for other marijuana products, like concentrates, edibles and the like, are due to significant gains in consumer demand as prices are flat or down.

All told, marijuana available resources are revised higher by $9 million in 2019-21 due to recent sales. Expectations are that some of these increases are due to temporary factors like the one-time household recovery rebates, expanded unemployment insurance benefits, and the shelter in place style policies. As the impact of these programs fade in the months ahead, and bars and restaurants reopen to a larger degree, marijuana sales are expected to mellow.

Over the extended forecast horizon, marijuana sales are reduced approximately five percent relative to the previous forecast due to the lower economic outlook. A relatively smaller population indicates fewer potential customers and lower total personal income than previously assumed indicates less consumer demand, all things being equal.

What could the state experts (who have continually been too conservative with their projections) be missing that could allow cannabis sales to buck the downward economic trajectory expected to hinder all of Oregon? Two things: tourists and the fact that cannabis can replace other products that people buy. It’s hard to predict how many travellers will visit Oregon and state analysts have underestimated the number of tourists shopping at regulated cannabis stores.

While Americans will take fewer vacations during an economic recession or depression, Oregon could remain a sought out vacation spot as the state is relatively inexpensive compared to traveling to California and other more expensive locales. Additionally, with fewer people, including tourists, feeling comfortable packing into restaurants, bars, breweries, and wineries, cannabis dispensaries could be more of a go-to stop for those visiting the Beaver State.

Finally, cannabis has been shown to decrease both alcohol sales and the use of prescription drugs. As more and more people start realizing that cannabis is a safer choice than most other substances, with fewer side effects (including hangovers), folks’ limited dollars could continue to flow into the cannabis industry, to the detriment of Big Alcohol and Big Pharma. Will the state experts be right or wrong, only time will tell, but Oregon’s analysts initially projected that the state would only bring in $40 million per year in cannabis tax revenue and the state more than doubled that amount last year and may just triple it in 2020.

While you are deciding on where to spend your hard-earned dollars, there is no better place than Kind Leaf for your cannabis needs. Kind Leaf offers pick-up, walk-in, and curbside delivery through Leafly online orders. And if you want to come into the store and peruse the best selection in the Great Northwest, you can count on Kind Leaf for great products, a knowledgeable staff, and top-notch safety precautions.

Canadian Study Examining if Cannabis Combats the Coronavirus

It can be extremely difficult following all of the news regarding cannabis or the coronavirus. Both impact many aspects of our lives and news breaks literally every day on a number of fronts. It only took a matter of time before the two subjects converged.

On the heels of a couple of Israeli studies looking into whether cannabis can help combat the coronavirus, a Canadian study has issued some early promising findings about the ability of high-CBD extracts to help prevent and treat COVID-19. The study hasn’t been peer-reviewed and more studies certainly need to be done, so no one should consider it as gospel, but early results appear to be encouraging as CTV reported:

Researchers at the University of Lethbridge say while clinical trials still need to be done, data they’ve been collecting over the past four years shows promise that some cannabis extracts may help in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Olga and Igor Kovalchuk have been working with cannabis since 2015, using varieties from around the world to create new hybrids and develop extracts that demonstrate certain therapeutic properties.

***

The Kovalchuks say, based on the preliminary data and pending further investigations, anti-inflammatory high-CBD cannabis extracts can modulate the levels of the receptors in highly relevant tissues, such as the mouth, lungs and intestinal cells.

The preliminary study states that:

 While our most effective extracts require further large-scale validation, our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19. The extracts of our most successful and novel high CBD C. sativa lines, pending further investigation, may become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy. They can be used to develop easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products for both clinical and at-home use. Such products ought to be tested for their potential to decrease viral entry via the oral mucosa. Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.

Of course, one should follow medical advice that doesn’t come from a health professional, so no one should think that they can just smoke cannabis, high-CBD or otherwise, and believe that they will be 100% safe from the coronavirus. However, it is nice to have some positive news about preventing or treating COVID-19, even if more research needs to be done. Fingers crossed that we find good medicines, whether from cannabis or anywhere else.

Oregon Attorney General Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging Cannabis Banking Access

It is rather incredible that cannabis businesses keep breaking sales records (two months in a row in Oregon!) with so many regulatory obstacles put in their way. Local, state, and federal laws and rules stifle cannabis entrepreneurs unlike any other industry, yet the hardworking folks keep the Mary Jane train chugging along.

The lack of access to normal banking services is one of the most burdensome prohibitions, hindering not only cannabis businesses, but also everyone that they conduct business with, from their landlord to their insurance company to their attorney. Additionally, forcing businesses to be cash only is a danger to our communities.

Thankfully, common sense banking reform could be on the horizon with the U.S. House passing a coronavirus relief bill that includes the SAFE cannabis banking act. In addition to a majority of federal representatives supporting cannabis banking access, a supermajority of state attorneys general are urging Uncle Sam pass the SAFE Act. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum joins 33 other AGs, forming a formidable bipartisan alliance. Marijuana Moment reported:

First, the public safety threat of operating on a largely cash-only basis has been exacerbated amid the crisis. Second, large cash transactions “places law enforcement, tax regulators, consumers, and patients at heightened risk of exposure to the virus.” Third, access to financial institutions would make it easier to collect tax revenue from marijuana sales, which is particularly needed to offset economic shortfalls due to the health crisis.

“The current predicament of a rapidly expanding national marketplace without access to the national banking systems has resulted in an untenable situation,” the officials wrote. “We stress that current legislative models are available to fix this situation.”

***

The letter goes on to say that passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act as part of coronavirus relief legislation would not represent an endorsement of cannabis legalization by Congress. “Rather, it reflects a recognition of the realities on the ground and an embrace of our federalist system of government that is flexible enough to accommodate divergent state approaches,” they said.

As usual for the cannabis community, passing the SAFE Act won’t be easy as passage in the Senate faces many hurdles. However, the progress that we’ve made among politicans and top law enforcement officers across the nation and political spectrum, bode well for the future of the movement and industry.

You can read the entire letter from the 34 attorneys general here.

Oregon Breaks Monthly Cannabis Sales Records Two Months in a Row

The coronavirus pandemic has caused havoc across the globe, overwhelming healthcare systems and social service programs while decimating economies. Our society hasn’t experienced a similar disruption since World War II and we haven’t seen a reduction in economic activity like this since the Great Depression. Here in Oregon, the unemployment rate has surged to over 14% and Governor Kate Brown has ordered all agencies to prepare for budget cuts of 17% across the board. One bright spot for the economy: cannabis.

Oregon’s cannabis industry had its best first quarter of sales through the first three months of 2020, but it was unknown if robust commerce would continue during the COVID-19 pandemic or whether the first three months were buoyed by folks just stocking up. Well, the evidence is in and the first two months of quarantine living in the Beaver State led to new sales records.

The Willamette Week reported on the record breaking sales in March:

Sales data from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission show Oregonians bought $84.5 million worth of cannabis products in March—the most in a single month since the state legalized recreational use in 2015. The previous record, set in July 2019, was just shy of $80 million.

The March number is a 37 percent increase from this time last year. Sales per retailer averaged out to $135,000, a 30 percent jump.

Flower accounted for more than half of total sales, while concentrates and extracts made up the second-highest market share.

KGW covered April’s sales that surpassed the recording breaking numbers from just a month earlier:

There is one bright spot in the economy: marijuana sales.

In April, Oregon saw $89 million in legal marijuana sales. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission reports marijuana sales were up 45% in April, compared to last year, making April 2020 the largest month on record for the state.

Proponents believe the coronavirus pandemic could be the catalyst for other states and the federal government to legalize marijuana because it would bring tax revenue, create jobs and give the economy a much-needed shot in the arm.

There is a lot of work left to be done, but it is rather remarkable how far the Oregon cannabis industry has come since voters passed the Measure 91 legalization law with over 56% of the vote. Hamstrung by a rare-for-Oregon sales tax, a lack of banking services, unfair federal taxation, and the coronavirus pandemic, enterprising entrepreneurs and hard-working budtenders, farmers, processors, and other industry employees, have created a business sector that the cannabis community can be proud of.

With 69% of Oregon voters understanding that legalization has been a success, the future is bright for the Beaver State’s cannabis industry. By supporting craft cannabis boutique’s like Kind Leaf, you are providing a boos to our local economy and helping build one of the few flourishing business sectors in the state.

 

Kind Leaf’s Director of Operations on Celebstoner’s List of 1,200+ Prominent Women in Cannabis

Top lists are always going to be controversial and will ultimately leave off deserving folks, whether you are naming the top basketball, baseball, and football players of all time, ranking presidents, or listing top cannabis law reform advocates. Unfortunately, deserving women tend to get left off of cannabis lists, whether

In response to a recent list of top “Cannabis Influencers” (I must admit that I dislike the term “influencer”) that left off way too many women, Celebstoner’s Steve Bloom created a list named “500 Women That Should Be Recognized for Their Achievements in Cannabis.” Well, that list has kept adding more and more women and now names over 1,200 deserving ladies. Even with a list this size, there are still more women who should be acknowledged and I contacted Steve to nominate a couple and then he responded back that they’ve been added and he added yet another Oregonian!

Kind Leaf’s Director of Operations, Erin Purchase, is deservedly on the list. Erin has made an amazing transition from a personal parent advocate to an industry leader, as she has helped Kind Leaf become Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique and one of the top dispensaries in the state. If you haven’t made it to Kind Leaf yet, it is worth the trek. The drive from Portland to Pendleton is beautiful, the store is much more spacious than what you’ll find in urban areas, and their selection of around 170 strains is top notch.

Erin, aligned with everything that Kind Leaf stands for, puts the well-being of the community over profits. Coming from a medical advocacy background, she has helped Kind Leaf be a statewide leader on public safety, whether it’s concerns about vape cartridges, transparency regarding ingredients, or protecting all of us during the Coronavirus pandemic.

I commend Erin for her work in the cannabis industry and I’m happy to give her the praise that she deserves, along with many other Oregonians Steve Bloom acknowledges including federal patient Elvy Musika, who has been a prophet of the movement and has been an advocate for about as long as I’ve been alive. Thank you, Steve, for giving Erin, Elvy, and many other women the acknowledgement they deserve, and most importantly, a sincere thanks to the many, many women that have sacrificed so much for this movement. Together, we shall soon all be truly equal and free.

69% of Oregonians Believe that Cannabis Legalization Has Been Successful

Cannabis legalization laws certainly aren’t perfect. There are a lot of improvements that need to be made at local, state, and federal levels to better help patients in need and small businesses. However, there are a lot of successes to be proud of as well, especially around criminal justice penalties and the fact that cannabis retail sales, illegal everywhere just a decade ago, have now been deemed essential during a global pandemic crisis.

There are fewer arrests, jobs are being created and revenue has been generated for important social services, yet Reefer Madness prohibitionists want to turn back the clock and scream about how the sky has fallen in legal cannabis states. Thankfully, we have the facts on our side, and the voters. As Marijuana Moment reported, YouGov polled over 32,000 voters in legal states and a whopping 69% of Oregonians believe that legalization has been a success:

They were given five options: “Success only, more of a success than a failure, more of a failure than a success, failure only or don’t know.”

Here’s a breakdown of percentages of people in legal states who said the policy has been a success compared to a failure:

Colorado (71-17 percent)

Oregon (69-20 percent)

Massachusetts (67-15 percent)

Washington (65-18 percent)

Nevada (64-17 percent)

California (59-20 percent)

Illinois (59-17 percent)

Michigan (56-20 percent)

Maine (47-20 percent)

Too often, the cannabis community is still treated as second class citizens in many aspects of our lives, from child custody battles to employment rights. Entrepreneurs are still fighting for access to regular banking services (which could pass soon) and sensible taxation policies (further away, but needed ASAP). As we continue to mainstream cannabis legalization and advocate for equality, we should always note that the voters that know the best, those that live in legal cannabis states, understand that legalization is a much better policy than prohibition.

 

As Oregon Reopens,Count on Kind Leaf. Coming Soon: Curbside Window!

Oregon, like many states across the nation, is starting the process of opening more businesses back up after closing down non-essential businesses to stymie the spread of the coronavirus. The Beaver State has done relatively well flattening the curve and a vast majority of counties applied to reopen their local economies with proper guidelines that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As of the timing of this blog, 28 counties have received approval from Governor Kate Brown to move into Phase 1 of reopening businesses tomorrow, May 15th. Umatilla, home county for Pendleton’s Kind Leaf is one of those counties.

As The Oregonian reported counties must have met various standards for Phase 1 approval:

Benchmarks counties must meet include declining levels of COVID-19 hospital admissions over a 14-day period; minimum levels of testing and contact tracing capacity; adequate hospital surge capacity, quarantine facilities and personal protection equipment; and finalized sector guidelines from the state to communicate to individual businesses.

Under Phase 1, depending upon the business, Oregon is mandating 6 feet social distancing requirements, occupancy limits, masks worn by employees, customer logs, etc. As always, you can always count on Kind Leaf to put the safety of their community before maximizing profits, and Umatilla County entering Phase 1 doesn’t change that at all. However, hours will be returning to normal on Friday, May 15th, from 8am to 10pm.

Before this pandemic, Kind Leaf prided itself on being Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique, with the best selection, and a knowledgeable staff. During this health crisis, the quality of products and service hasn’t changed, but the Kind Leaf family has been determined to keep everyone, employees, vendors, customers, and everyone’s loved ones, as safe as possible, installing partitions and enacting many safety guidelines.

73268240_975008896232150_5573607183465054208_n

Coming soon, Kind Leaf is taking safety precautions and efficiency innovations to a new level with a curbside window. You will still be able to order for curbside pickup (order online through Leafly), or come into the store (with safety precautions), but you will also have the option of going up to the curbside window. As the state opens up, it’ll be time to celebrate each and every positive step responsibly. There’s no better place to secure top-notch cannabis and cannabis products than at Kind Leaf. Now, more than ever, #BeKind.

Kind Leaf Curbside Window

Coming soon!

Get ready for a new form of pick-up at Kind Leaf – our friends at Metcalf Painting & Contracting came through and helped us make the conversion –

Now instead of having to come all the way inside for your pick-up order you can experiencing maximum #socialdistancing while picking up your preorder – this is modified curbside pickup!

#BeKind

Kind Leaf
1733 SW Court Ave
Pendleton, Oregon
(541) 612-8588
Online ordering via Leafly

Cannabis Banking Access a Part of U.S. House Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

The coronavirus pandemic has placed a strain on the United States economy that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression. Unemployment has skyrocketed, and even as businesses start opening back up, there’s no guarantee that customers are going to have the money to shop like they used to or are going to be willing to risk COVID-19 infection by venturing into public spaces as much. Cannabis businesses, deemed essential in legal states across the nation, have been doing good sales numbers, but the many arbitrary obstacles that have stifled the industry remain.

One of the major issues, banking access, could be addressed in the next coronavirus stimulus bill, as Marijuana Moment reports:

House leadership unveiled a coronavirus relief bill on Tuesday that includes provisions to protect banks that service marijuana businesses from being penalized by federal regulators.

Advocates, stakeholders and lawmakers have been pushing for some form of cannabis reform to be inserted into COVID-19 legislation. And this round, they were successful, with the language of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act making the cut.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), chief sponsor of the standalone bill that is being included in the new broad package, previously raised the issue in a Democratic Caucus meeting and said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) supported it.

With national politics being what is is today, there’s no telling if the cannabis banking language will remain in the legislation, or if another coronavirus relief bill will even get passed, but this is a good step in the right direction for the cannabis industry. The lack of ordinary banking services impacts not only cannabis businesses like Kind Leaf, but all of their vendors and employees.

The extra fees and costs then ultimately increase the prices that patients and customers pay. Please contact your representative and then spread the word and have your friends and family do the same. Whether you support cannabis businesses or not, everyone should support their access to ordinary banking services to improve community safety and the ability to pay taxes efficiently.