Category: Current Events

The NFL Moves Closer to Ending Cannabis Suspensions

I’m still flying high after my Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years (which led to an eventful parade where someone smoked a joint on a horse, but I digress) and I’m ecstatic that the National Football League is moving towards a sensible cannabis policy that will stop suspending players for utilizing cannabis. There are many serious issues with the NFL, one being that traumatic brain injuries caused by the violent sport can lead to devastating effects for those that suffer those injuries, and tragically to innocent people harmed by those players as well. Also, addiction to painkillers can be a huge issue for players as their careers often depend upon their ability to perform through various injuries.

The evidence suggests that repeated traumatic brain injuries can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Sadly, CTE can lead to severe behavioral issues and dementia. Famously, former New England Patriots NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of murder and committed suicide while in prison, was found to have severe CTE and he was only 27 years of age.

The ability to utilize cannabis may benefit a lot of players who suffer from traumatic brain injuries and it will certainly be beneficial for them to have a less addictive and less deadly option to utilize over narcotics like OxyContin. Forbes reported on the potential agreement that will end suspensions for cannabis use:

National Football League players would no longer face the possibility of being suspended from games just for testing positive for marijuana under a proposed collective bargaining agreement approved by team owners and circulated to players on Thursday.

The new policy being floated for approval by the the NFL Players Association would also reduce the number of players subject to testing for cannabis and narrow the window when tests can be administered from the current four months to just two weeks at the start of training camp.

The three-page summary of key terms of the union deal also includes an increase in the threshold for positive THC metabolite tests from 35 to 150 nanograms.

There are some details and votes to be completed before this new cannabis suspension policy goes into effect, but it is great to see the NFL finally start advancing with the times. Love or hate sportsballs, leagues like the NFL play a huge part in American culture. While we advance legalization across the nation and word, improving our community’s stance with influential segments of our society is a part of our battle for freedom and equality.

Medical Cannabis Worker Protection Bill Filed in California

The cannabis community has come a long way in recent years, especially when it comes to passing medical patient protections and reducing criminal penalties. We’ve also implemented sales programs that have created thousands of jobs and generated millions upon millions of new revenue dollars.

There is still a lot of work left to accomplish, one being the need to protect cannabis users from discrimination for utilizing cannabis on their own free time, in ways that doesn’t disrupt their job performance in any way. A California legislator has taken the first step towards protecting worker rights for the cannabis community by introducing a bill that prohibits workplace discrimination of medical cannabis patients, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) is taking a first step at addressing the issue. He introduced legislation Friday that would require employers in both the public and private sectors to accommodate workers and job applicants who use marijuana for medical purposes, which was legalized in California in 1996.

“To be discriminated against by your employer because of the type of medicine you use is both inhumane and wrong,” Bonta said. “Medical cannabis, as recommended by a doctor, should be given a similar reasonable accommodation as all prescription drugs.”

Bonta’s bill would not apply to “safety-sensitive” workers required by federal law to be drug free, including airline pilots, police officers and truck drivers, nor would it cover employers with federal contractors who are required to maintain drug-free workplaces.

According to the LA Times, Bonta pointed out that 16 other states, including Arizona, New York and Illinois, have already adopted worker protections similar to his proposal. After passing protections for medical cannabis patients, legal states, including my home state of Oregon, need to implement policies protecting all workers from losing their jobs over cannabis, when utilizing the substance doesn’t hinder their workplace performance whatsoever. Step by step, let’s keep improving our states’ laws and policies, until we are all truly equal and free.

Featured Photo Credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Sneak Peak of American Hemp Farmer: Adventures and Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade

Investigative journalist and best-selling author turned hemp farmer Doug Fine is one of the most important voices in the cannabis and hemp communities today. And yes, full disclosure, Doug is a personal friend of mine, but I’ve seen the man talk the talk and walk the walk. Literally. He wears hemp from head to toe while discussing cannabis and hemp in ways that garners the praise of true believers like Willie Nelson (who wrote a blurb for Fine’s book Hemp Bound) to legislators that have joined the revolution to grandmothers in Middle America that just discovered how CBD tinctures and salves help their arthritis pain.

Bringing his journalism chops honed writing for the Washington Post, New York Times, and NPR to his firsthand accounts of moving his family towards sustainability in Farewell, My Subaru and depictions of the cannabis and hemp industries in Too High to Fail and Hemp Bound, Fine travels the globe promoting the future of cannabis and hemp in ways that appeal to the masses. With American Hemp Farmer: Adventures and Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade, Doug Fine brings an insight and comedic twist that only he can to entertaining tales that are informative to those in the know and persuasive to those that might be on the fence about the need to promote the cannabis hemp plant.

With detailed stories of hemp farming and advocacy in Oregon, Colorado, Vermont, New Mexico, and Colville Tribal Land in Washington State, Fine paints a beautiful picture of using land, resources, knowledge and people-power, to grow something great, not only for the hemp farmers, but for our planet at large. With information that will certainly appeal to those in the cannabis hemp trade, Fine goes above and beyond in his storytelling, helping place the plant and the industry in the proper light for our movement towards sustainability and prosperity. American Hemp Farmer goes on sale on April 28, 2020. You can learn more about Doug at www.dougfine.com.

The American Bar Association Passes Resolutions Supporting Cannabis Banking Rights

No matter your stance on legalization, everyone that wants safe neighborhoods should support legal banking services for state-regulated cannabis businesses. The lack of access to banking services severely hinders the ability of entrepreneurs to conduct business, pay taxes, and expand operations. Along with the despicable 280e IRS tax code, access to normal banking services is a top policy change needed to allow the cannabis industry to thrive. As with most issues, banking reform is needed most by small craft cannabis boutique’s like Kind Leaf, which don’t have the deep pockets of multinational corporations.

Thankfully, we are seeing great momentum for normal banking services for the cannabis industry. The SAFE Banking Act has passed the House of Representatives, awaiting some movement in the Senate. As Marijuana Moment reports, the American Bar Association added its voice to the cause:

The group’s House of Delegates voted in favor of proposals endorsing pending federal legislation to protect banks that service cannabis businesses and calling for a clarification of rules to ensure that lawyers will not be penalized for representing clients in cases concerning state-legal marijuana activity.

Under the banking resolution, ABA “urges Congress to enact legislation to clarify and ensure that it shall not constitute a federal crime for banking and financial institutions to provide services to businesses and individuals, including attorneys, who receive compensation from the sale of state-legalized cannabis or who provide services to cannabis-related legitimate business acting in accordance with state, territorial, and tribal laws.”

ABA added that “such legislation should clarify that the proceeds from a transaction involving activities of a legitimate cannabis-related business or service provider shall not be considered proceeds from an unlawful activity solely because the transaction involves proceeds from a legitimate cannabis-related business or service provider, or because the transaction involves proceeds from legitimate cannabis-related activities.”

It is great to see some allies coming around to help out the cannabis community. Let’s keep the pressure up and momentum going. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is currently the Senate Banking Committee Chair that will determine the fate of the SAFE Act. Please contact him and let him know that you support banking services for cannabis businesses and spread the word.

Oregon Creates More Cannabis Jobs While California Suffers Losses

Legalizing and regulating cannabis has many economic and societal benefits as bringing cannabis out of the illegal market creates jobs, generates revenue and decreases harmful arrests, prosecutions, and jailings. It isn’t all happy unicorns and rainbows for the burgeoning industry however as overregulation and over taxation still hinder hard-working entrepreneurs’ ability to fully unleash the potential of the market, especially the federal 280e tax code that prevents the deduction of normal business expenses. The dastardly 280e tax code hits retailers the hardest, especially small businesses, so please support craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf as much as you can.

Cannabis commerce has been implemented in several ways and it is difficult to get all of the details correct, especially while cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Some states have limited licenses while others, namely Oregon, initially set up system with relatively low barriers to entry, to bring in as many people into the regulated market as possible.

Opening up the cannabis industry to as many licensees as possible has been great for consumers, bringing prices down, but the competition has made making profits difficult. Oregon regulators eventually started limiting cultivating licenses, but with so many actors already in the market, the Beaver State still has low cannabis prices.

While Oregon certainly hasn’t gotten everything right, I think that it is safe to say that the state has done a better job than California. Oregon’s Southern Neighbor, unfortunately has been too slow to issue licenses and taxes definitely too damn high. As Jefferson Public Radio reports, the two states’ different methods have led to job markets going in the opposite direction as the Oregon cannabis industry continues to grow while California’s cannabis jobs actually decreased:

Although recreational marijuana has been legal in Oregon for about six years, the industry continues to see job growth. Meanwhile, California’s marijuana job numbers decreased in 2019.

That’s according to a new report by Leafly, a Seattle-based cannabis publication and phone app, which recorded a 20 percent increase in marijuana industry jobs in Oregon last year.

Leafly uses state data and market sizes to estimate the number of full-time equivalent jobs in the legal marijuana industry — including farmers, trimmers, and botanists, as well as administrative staff. It doesn’t include workers who primarily work with hemp or CBD products.

Oregon, with 18,200 industry jobs, experienced a 20% increase while California, with 39,800 jobs, suffered 8,000 job losses. Leafly’s report pointed to local California regulations, especially with 2/3 of localities banning retail businesses as the culprit. Also, compared to Oregon’s maximum 20% tax rate, California’s cannabis taxes, which can range between 45% to 80% depending on your product and locality, is just too damn high.

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Cannabis Couples, Get Your Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts at Kind Leaf

If you’re like me, you are a last-minute shopper for gifts of all kinds, and Valentine’s Day is no different. We are only getting busier and busier these days and just because us last-minute wait to purchase our gifts, it doesn’t mean that we care any less than those that plan ahead. In fact, if your significant other(s) or loved ones are members of the cannabis community, you can really show them how much you care by stopping into Kind Leaf, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique. If a road trip to Pendleton’s flagship dispensary isn’t in the cards, then there are certainly many other fine cannabis retail outlets in the Beaver State, but I urge you to find another locally-owned small business to support.

When you support Kind Leaf, you know that you are supporting a mom-and-pop shop that gives back to the local community, from supporting Pendleton’s growth and local economy by sponsoring neighborhood events and causes to giving Christmas gifts to the children of families that can use a helping hand thru their amazing Kind Tree program. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economies and it is extremely beneficial to our cities, counties, and the great state of Oregon when you make purchases from stores that keep that money in state. We don’t benefit nearly as much when our hard-earned dollars are being sent to banks across state lines, and especially out of the country.

Kind Leaf has around 170 strains to choose select from. These strains are cultivated at the top farms in Oregon and unlike other West Coast states, you actually get to smell the flowers when making your decision. There are many specials going on at Kind Leaf and Oregon medical patients always get a discount, on top of being tax exempt. Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Valentines Day Sales Kind Leaf

More of this: Los Angeles Expunges 66,000 Cannabis Convictions in Just One Day

The cannabis legalization movement is sweeping across the nation state by state and has become a mainstream national issue as well. Legalizing and regulating cannabis ends harmful arrests, creates jobs and generates revenue for state coffers. However, after ending criminal penalties there is a lot of work to be done for both businesses and the cannabis communities. One thing desperately needed for so many people is the expungement of old criminal offenses.

Thankfully, many places are moving forward with expungement laws and policies. Los Angeles County is the latest locality to expunge old cannabis convictions as Leafly reports:

Los Angeles County district attorney Jackie Lacey announced Thursday the filing of a motion to expunge 66,000 marijuana convictions dating back to 1961—including 62,000 felony convictions and 4,000 misdemeanors. A superior court judge signed the order Tuesday.

According to reports, Lacey’s motion removes felonies from the records of 22,000 people. About 15,000 individuals now no longer have a criminal record at all. Cannabis convictions can alter life trajectories—narrowing education, housing, and employment options for decades after something as little as getting busted for a joint.

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L.A. County cannabis prohibition took a notorious toll on minority communities located there. While cannabis use rates are roughly similar across racial and ethnic groups, drug enforcement focused on high-drug crime minority neighborhoods, resulting in arrest disparities. Los Angeles County is 44.6% Latino, 48.7% white, and 11% Black. Lacey’s motion affects 53,000 people, 32% Black, 45% Latino and 20% are white.

Even in places that have passed expungement laws, like Oregon, the process is too complicated, cumbersome and expensive for many. Providing for expungement is a better policy than not allowing it, but we really need to pass automatic expungement laws to eliminate barriers to clearing this old, unfair convictions. Kudos to L.A. County DA Jackie Lacy and others that are helping fix the ills created by the harmful and failed War on Cannabis.

 

Smell the 168 Amazing Cannabis Strains at Kind Leaf in Beautiful Pendleton, Oregon

It is common knowledge that Oregon is a cannabis consumers paradise with some of the best strains and products with the lowest prices in the world. As a proud Oregonian, I’ll stand up for Oregon cannabis any day of the week and twice on Saturday at 4:20. I’ve been to many dispensaries in several states and a few coffeeshops around the world, and can honestly state that the best cannabis and selection that I’ve seen is at Kind Leaf in Pendleton, Oregon. It is tough to top the nearly 170 strains (168 today!) that they place on the shelves from the best cannabis farmers across the Beaver State.

While Washington State and California can claim great cannabis as well, you aren’t allowed to smell any of the cannabis available for purchase at their retails stores. The Willamette Week reported on how Oregon is the only state on the West Coast that allows consumers to fully smell the cannabis available at our retail outlets:

Head north or south of Oregon’s borders, and the consumer experience is far more limited. In California and Washington, state law dictates that cannabis flower must be sold in pre-packaged increments—meaning whatever you buy has already been measured and sealed, sometimes weeks beforehand.

Some California and Washington dispensaries have locked jars containing a bud or two for review, but those quickly dry out and lose their scent.

The ability to smell before you buy isn’t just a regulatory quirk: In cannabis, fragrance—or lack thereof—can indicate freshness, flavor and, if you know your terpenes, effects.

My good friend, Ngaio Bealum, an amazing activist and cannabis comedian, wrote about the plight of California connoisseurs in Leafly:

How can I find a bargain if I can’t smell the weed? How do I know if that top-shelf, $70-a-freaking-eighth bud is worth me working 10 hours at federal minimum wage, if I don’t know what it smells like?

A farmers market will let you taste a cherry or two before you buy it. The fancy Cigar Shop will let you twirl umpteen different Maduro blends under your nose until you find the one you want. But I can’t stick my nose in a bag of weed? It’s almost Unamerican.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. I’m old enough to remember when “bag appeal” was a prime selling point. Some traditions are too important to let go of.

Please, regulators. Please. Look into your hearts, and bring back the deli-style cannabis club.

Cannabis regulations in Oregon still need some work, of course. For instance, we don’t have legal, regulated cannabis cafes and a lot needs to be done to help out small craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf and other mom-and-pops, but we have one bragging right on our West Coast cannabis community members–we get to smell what our talented farmers are growing.

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Just Say NO to Trump’s Budget Plan to Cut Medical Cannabis Patient Protections

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal sent shockwaves through the cannabis community yesterday as his administration’s plan would eliminate protections for medical cannabis patients. Under current federal policy, the William Barr’s Department of Justice is prohibited from using any funds from prosecuting, arresting, and jailing medical cannabis patients and their providers who are following their state’s laws.

This is a surprising move by the Trump Administration as he is going back on a campaign promise and protecting state medical cannabis patients and programs has been a largely bipartisan endeavor over the last few year, thanks to the supermajority support medical use enjoys among Americans. Rarely do politicians want to go against the wish of 85% of voters.

As Marijuana Moment reported, this isn’t the first time that Trump has called for an end to the policy and thankfully, Congress has ignored previous attempts to gut the protections, following the will of the people:

President Trump proposed ending an existing policy that protects state medical marijuana programs from Justice Department interference as part of his fiscal year 2021 budget plan released on Monday.

The rider, which has been renewed in appropriations legislation every year since 2014, stipulates the the Justice Department can’t use its funds to prevent states or territories “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

This isn’t the first time that an administration has requested that the rider be stricken. Trump’s last two budgets omitted the medical cannabis protections language, and President Obama similarly asked for the policy to be removed. In all cases, Congress has ignored those requests and renewed the protections in spending bills.

While there is a great chance that Congress won’t listen to Donald Trump on his proposal to end federal protections for state-legal medical cannabis patients, his administration’s budget plan is a reminder that we must remain vigilant. The gains that we have made can be taken away at any time. It is rather remarkable that anyone in government would have the notion to authorize the arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of medical patients legally using cannabis under their state’s law.

The fact that this cruel and ill-advised policy would make its way into the 2020 budget plan of the President of the United States demonstrates how there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve true equality for the cannabis community. The good news is that the people, and the truth are on our side, so we just have to keep working hard to support the right public officials and spread the truth about cannabis.

Featured Photo Credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

 

Cannabis Legalization Moves More Mainstream as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Endorses

Cannabis legalization is a mainstream policy that has been garnering more and more support across the nation and all demographics. While a strong majority of support legalization, there is still a lot of work to do, especially across the Midwest, America’s Heartland, as it’s known. Illinois ending prohibition at the first of the year was a big development, as its impact will be felt in neighboring states. We’ve already seen a big impact from the Land of Lincoln, coupled with hardworking Missouri advocates, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch just endorsed cannabis legalization:

With Missouri’s new medical marijuana law just now sprouting, efforts are already underway to join the growing list of states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The issue at this point is less about the pros and cons of such a change than about its inevitability. America is increasingly rejecting a prohibition that, in the shadow of legalized alcohol and tobacco, never made sense.

 

Missouri might as well do it sooner rather than later, if only to end the trouble and expense of enforcing pot laws that seem destined to eventually be off the books.

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America’s pot prohibition is headed for the history books, to stand alongside the short-lived alcohol prohibition of a century ago. It’s no longer a matter of if, but when. Which means Missouri might as well get on board now.

A sincere thanks to Missourians for a New Approach for leading this important effort in Mid-America. Adding more states is a huge key to passing much-needed federal reforms. Let’s all do our part to spread the word to our friends and families to help our fellow cannabis community members in the Show-Me State.