Category: Current Events

Rest in Peace Charlotte Figi, Your Strength Saved Lives and Changed the World

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all of our lives, causing immense pain and grief across our nation and globe. One thing that I have learned during this crisis is to better appreciate that there are people who live their entire lives in a constant state of emergency and those people need help, support, and hope.

I imagine that there can be no greater sense of despair than watching your child suffer. Unfortunately, this is an all-too common part of life for too many people. Hearts around the world were changed when they learned about the suffering of Charlotte Figi and her family because of Dravet syndrome. Cannabis extracts improved her life and the world was changed for the better. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, Charlotte passed away yesterday at just 13 years of age. May she rest in peace and power, forever. My heart goes out to her parents Matt and Paige, her family, and everyone mourning the loss of a special angel warrior.

Most people first learned about Charlotte’s plight from Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s special “Weed” and that mainstream attention changed the debate around medical cannabis and cannabis in general. Here’s an excerpt from the CNN piece “Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures“:

Today, Charlotte, 6, is thriving. Her seizures only happen two to three times per month, almost solely in her sleep. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle. She feeds herself and is talking more and more each day.
“I literally see Charlotte’s brain making connections that haven’t been made in years,” Matt said. “My thought now is, why were we the ones that had to go out and find this cure? This natural cure? How come a doctor didn’t know about this? How come they didn’t make me aware of this?”
The marijuana strain Charlotte and now 41 other patients use to ease painful symptoms of diseases such as epilepsy and cancer has been named after the little girl who is getting her life back one day at a time.
It’s called Charlotte’s Web.

In this life, we can only hope to impact as many lives that Charlotte did. The Charlotte’s Web strain was named after her and countless people will have their lives saved and improved thanks to her strength. While my heart aches for her family, I’m glad that we live in a world where brave people like Charlotte and her family stand up and change the world for the better.

Majority of Americans Agree that Cannabis is Essential

During the coronavirus pandemic, American residents and government officials have had to make important decisions on what services are deemed essential. For policymakers, they have had to weigh the pros and cons of keeping various industry sectors open and how some businesses could adapt to keep consumers, workers, and patients as safe as possible. Individuals have had to decide which food and supply trips are necessary, and what items can be skipped. Thankfully, Oregon decided that cannabis dispensaries are essential businesses that should stay open and a majority of Americans polled by YouGov agree, as reported by Marijuana Moment:

A majority of Americans believe that medical cannabis dispensaries should be kept open as “essential services” amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll.

The survey asked simply: “Do you believe medical marijuana dispensaries should or should not be considered essential services?”

Fifty-three percent said the cannabis providers should be regarded as essential, 26 percent said they shouldn’t and 21 percent said they didn’t know.

YouGove Poll

YouGov polled over 5,000 American adults, a rather large sample of people. It is rather remarkable how cannabis was illegal throughout the nation until California passed its landmark medical law in 1996 and now, during a global pandemic in 2020, dispensaries are considered essential businesses in legal states. It is great that the truth about cannabis has been winning hearts and minds across the nation, we must remain vigilant as Reefer Madness prohibitionists are lobbying government bodies to reverse the decision. The cannabis community just needs to keep sharing the truth about cannabis and remind our elected officials to follow the will of the people.

Kind Leaf has led the way on implementing sensible policies to keep its workers, customers, patients, and the community as safe as possible, even putting into place safe physical distancing policies before they were mandated. Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique has built upon its pioneering safety precautions, recently hiring Metcalf Painting and Contracting, a local contractor, to install “sneeze guards” to help protect everyone in the store. Cannabis is medicine and essential, a sincere thanks to the Kind Leaf crew, and everyone working to protect the health and safety of our people.

Kind Leaf’s message to its customers and patients:  

KIND LEAF is an essential business and open. We have implemented several measures to help keep our staff and the public safe during the pandemic.

PICK-UP and DELIVERY only – pick up orders can be placed on Leafly between the hours of 9am – 8pm. Pick-up/curb side/delivery begins at 10am. Deliveries cannot be made after 6pm, pick-up orders can be picked up until 8pm.

Only one customer in the lobby at a time. If someone is waiting to pick up their order please wait outside the front door until the receptionist is ready. Hand sanitizer is available inside the front door.

CURBSIDE PICK-UP!!! We can now meet you at your vehicle (have your ID and cash ready). NO MINORS CAN BE IN THE VEHICLE. All occupants of the vehicle must have valid identification. Call the receptionist and let them know you are at the store. Park in the front parking spots. 541-612-8588.

Online menu Ordering for pick-up and delivery:

https://www.leafly.com/dispensary-info/kind-leaf-pendleton

Senior citizens and those with technical problems can place an order via phone 541-612-8588. If the receptionist doesn’t answer please try again (phone lines are busy).

Thank you for choosing Kind Leaf.

73268240_975008896232150_5573607183465054208_n

Safety First: Kind Leaf Moves to Pickup and Delivery Only Due to Coronavirus

Kind Leaf is a true Oregon cannabis success story. Those in the know, understand the immense difficulties cannabis businesses face. The competition, burdensome regulations, egregious taxes, and lack of banking services put an immense amount of stress on cannabis retailers, more so than most other businesses. Through it all, Kind Leaf has been a true industry leader, putting the safety of the community first.

Now, Kind Leaf, the cannabis community, our nation, and the entire world face our biggest threat since World War II–the coronavirus (COVID-19). As usual, Kind Leaf is leading the way, putting people over profits. It was with the health of its staff, customers, our state, and nation in mind, that Kind Leaf made the tough, but right, decision to only provide pickup and delivery sales.

It is with a heavy heart that I post this.

A pandemic was never in our business plan, we are in unusual times, and it seems that everything that we know and find comfort in is being disrupted, the news comes by the minute.

COVID-19 is in our state, it is in our community and it is now affecting us all.

We are choosing to lead by example, and we are officially closing our doors to the general public as of tomorrow March 18, 2020 and moving to Leafly Pick up and home deliveries only. We have the goal of re-opening in four weeks on April, 18th 2020.m

You can come to Kind Leaf to pick up orders placed online, or you can have your order delivered to your home within city limits- must be a home address per state law.

Our intention is to protect the health and well-being of our staff and their families as well as the members of our community.

Stand with us and let’s all do our part to lower the curve, and bring this Pandemic to a close. Remember to practice social distancing, hand-washing and not sharing joints- so we can all get together and celebrate on 4/20/20

Thank you for supporting us from the beginning, we appreciate everyone we have met along the way. We hope to see you in again once this passes and the healing of our nation can begin.

With governments implementing more and more restrictions on people and businesses, it’s probably only a matter of time before dispensaries and retail stores are ordered to move to delivery and pickup services, but Kind Leaf deserves credit for being ahead of the curve. There could be a move soon to order the closure of cannabis stores completely, but we must mobilize to ensure that our community’s retailers are deemed essential businesses that can remain open, especially for the sake of medical patients. We will keep you posted on more important news.

The cannabis community can always trust Kind Leaf to have the health and safety of the public of heart. Please spread the word that folks can still enjoy the state’s greatest selection at Easter Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique, they just need to utilize online and pickup services. Safety first, out there. Be Kind to each other, it’s more important than ever before.

89706507_2500513763597819_5581523641415237632_o

New Jersey Supreme Court Protects Medical Cannabis Patients Employment

I know that it is hard to focus on much of anything other than the coronavirus these days, but one thing that the pandemic has brought to light is the importance of quality healthcare services. For many patients across the country, medical cannabis, recommended by their doctor, is a vital component of their healthcare. Unfortunately, most states still allow all kinds of discrimination against cannabis patients, including in the workforce. In a positive development, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that legal patients cannot be fired for utilizing medical cannabis outside their place of employment, as NJ.com reported:

As long as employees are not under the influence of the drug at work, the state Supreme Court said medical marijuana patients remain protected by the Law Against Discrimination, echoing an earlier appellate court decision.

While Tuesday’s case involved one former funeral home director who lost his job, the implications are broad.

“This protects hundreds, if not thousands of employees” who’ve faced the “stigma of marijuana,” said Jamison Mark, a lawyer for the former director. The ruling ensured that discrimination law and the state’s Compassionate Use Act were not at odds, he said.

This is a HUGE victory for New Jersey patients that should be replicated across the land. I would argue that most jobs, especially ones that don’t involve any dangerous activities, shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against anyone’s use of cannabis away from work, it is extremely important that patient rights be protected. Let’s work to make sure that the New Jersey Supreme Court’s sensible decision protecting medical cannabis patients’ employment rights gets replicated from coast to coast.

Coronavirus Hits the Cannabis Community: SXSW, Spannabis, and More

While it is important to not panic, it is hard to not be extremely concerned about the coronavirus and its impact on all of our daily lives. The wellbeing of people is the most important thing, of course, so any hit to any business sector or community must keep people’s lives, especially those most vulnerable, in mind above all else. I’m not too worried for myself, for instance, just taking extra precautions to ensure that I don’t potentially spread the virus to others, especially my friends with underlying conditions and my senior citizen parents that depend upon me. The cannabis community is certainly not immune and we must do our part to protect each other from this pandemic.

I know that cannabis businesses were early t to feel the brunt of the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s properly named, since many packaging materials and other products are sourced from China. Businesses have faced inventory issues and shipping delays. Now, cannabis events are starting to get cancelled or postponed. SXSW’s cancellation, the first time in the event’s 34-year history, is estimated to have more than a $350 million hit on the economy of Austin, Texas, with service industry employees especially feeling the loss. While not strictly a cannabis event, South by Southwest does include a cannabusiness track, a demonstration of the mainstream nature of the industry.

Barcelona’s Spannabis was just postponed as the Spanish government just announced a prohibition on all events over 1,000 people. I was fortunate to attend Spannabis last year and hope to see the event bounce back in force as it is an important cultural force in Europe. We’re likely going to see many more gatherings canceled and postponed, a real bummer for the community and industry members that have modeled their business, recreation, and networking culture around these events, but people must come before profits.

Kind Leaf, as usual, was a leader among the industry in helping lead the way against the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. We must be extra vigilant to protect our patient population. The pandemic isn’t just impacting the economics of the cannabis industry, but the cultural norms of the cannabis community.  Best not to share joints and other modalities of cannabis use. NORML and cannabis comedian and activist Ngaio Bealum have expressed on Twitter.

The cannabis community has some of the most kind, creative, and forward-thinking people in the world. Now is the time to band together to help protect our community and all communities and to support each other in every way that we can. Much love, everyone.

Spannabis’ announcement in full:

Spannabis

Featured Photo Credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Happy Birthday to Kind Leaf! Thank You for Three Great Years!

March 10 marks three years since the opening of Kind Leaf. What started as a dream and a hope, has evolved into Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique. With Oregon’s biggest and best selection and many products that are exclusive to Kind Leaf in Pendleton, there is no better place for some of the world’s best cannabis flower and products. Additionally, Kind Leaf stays stocked with non-cannabis items, making it a one-stop shop for tourists or those purchasing gifts for friends and family.

When shopping at Kind Leaf, customers know that they are supporting a local, Oregon-owned small business that gives back to the community. Kind Leaf shows that they care by sponsoring local neighborhood events, culminating in the Kind Tree program that benefits families in need of help providing a magical Christmas Day for their children. The cannabis boutique is also at the forefront of protecting the public, from ensuring that consumers are getting accurate information to helping prevent communicable viruses.

The cannabis industry is not for the faint of heart. The rules, regulations, and taxes are very burdensome and the profit margins slim, but if your heart is in the right place and you provide a quality product, you can achieve the American dream. Kind Leaf is a great example for other businesses to follow, as good work and good deeds can equal good business. Happy birthday, Kind Leaf, here’s to many, many more.

International Women’s Day: Cannabis Activist Edition

International Women’s Day was yesterday, so shout out to all of the women out there making the world a better place. Women don’t get the recognition that they deserve in a lot of aspects of life, and, unfortunately, cannabis activism is one of them. In honor of the day, I wanted to use my little voice to help acknowledge a handful of activists that I have gotten to know during my two-decades of activism.

Kind Leaf’s  Erin Purchase, is one example of a great activist that utilizes her position as director of operations of Eastern Oregon’s preeminent craft cannabis boutique to do good work in her local community and promote sensible regulations that work well for other small business owners and the public at large.

I’m obviously biased, but my wife Sarah Duff has been an unsung hero of the movement. She has been doing great work without much fanfare, going back to helping found the longest continuous running Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter west of the Mississippi (Mizzou!) to nearly gathering enough signatures single-handedly to place a decrim and medical measure on the Columbia, Missouri, ballot back in 2003 to helping gather the initial signatures that started the process to legalize cannabis in Oregon in 2014 to working with local growers to ensure that more than 100 patients receive free medicine every year for the past decade.  Props to our dear friend Amber Langston who helped lead the Columbia campaign to victory in 2004 and has been doing great work in activism across several states and even internationally ever since.

Back in 2007, I first met Debby Goldsberry, who has activist roots roots with the Godfather of the movement, Jack Herer. I was starstruck because she had accomplished so much in the movement. After getting to know her, I have come to understand her as someone who deeply cares about patients and the greater good. Debby helped educate the masses across the nation with great activists like Herer and others and co-founded Berkeley Patients Group in 1999, helping lead one of the nation’s pioneering and influential dispensaries for a decade. She has shared her knowledge in a book and now leads Magnolia Wellness and continues to advocate for sensible policies that can work for small businesses, patients, and the general public at large. There’s a reason High Times named her their 2011 “Activist of the Year.”

Elvy Musikka, a Eugene, Oregon, resident is one of the prophets of the movement. Elvy is one of the two remaining federal medical cannabis patients that receive medicine directly from the United States government. After her 1988 arrest, Elvy won the right to utilize cannabis due to her medicinal use treating her glaucoma. Elvy has traveled the world spreading the truth about cannabis. I’m honored to have gotten to know Elvy, even taking her to a Michael Franti and Spearhead concert in Eugene. She has a bubbly personality that is a joy to be around and she has done as much to educate people about medical cannabis as anyone. High Times named Musikka its activist of the year in 1992.

There are women doing amazing work in the cannabis activist community and industry without much fanfare. It is time that they get the recognition that they deserve. Debby Goldsberry and Elvy Musikka, both long-time pioneers, deserve to be recognized with activist legends Jack Herer and Dennis Person as two of the most important cannabis activists of all-time. Let’s lift up everyone doing good work in the cannabis community and in other important aspects of our lives, on International Women’s Day, and everyday.

Reform the 280e Tax Code: The Feds Should Stop Profiting off Illegal Cannabis

While the huge sales numbers in legal states make headlines, they don’t tell the real story about the cannabis industry. The macro numbers of gross profits and revenue demonstrate the potential of the industry, but hidden within record-breaking sales reports are the trials and tribulations facing small businesses and entrepreneurs. Regulatory hurdles and over taxation are extremely burdensome to the industry, but the biggest obstacle to unleashing the potential of the cannabis industry (save for prohibition) is the 280E IRS tax code that prohibits cannabis businesses from deducting normal business expenses from their federal taxes.

While giant corporations, especially multinational ones, may be able to weather their tax burden, mom and pops are surviving on very small profit margins after they pay their taxes. Rolling Stone reported on how the 280E tax code allows the United States federal government to reap billions of dollars because of cannabis’ illegality at the federal level:

Because of the discrepancy between state and federal law, legal marijuana businesses are often stuck paying twice as much as normal businesses – effective rates of up to 70 percent – in federal taxes. Exactly how much extra tax revenue makes it to the feds because of marijuana’s illegality is not entirely clear. But last December, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation responded to a request from Colorado Senator Cory Gardner with the projected additional amount that will be collected from legal cannabis businesses between 2018 and 2027 if the drug remains federally illegal: $5 billion.

***

The federal government’s legal weed windfall can be traced back to a little tax code provision called 280E, which says that anyone trafficking in Schedule I or Schedule II drugs cannot take deductions or receive credits on their taxes. It was written in the 1980s to prevent the Scarfaces of the world from writing off the cost of packaging for methamphetamine. But now that a majority of states have legalized the medical or recreational sale of marijuana, the 280E tax provision has become a key point of contention between the federal government and state-legal businesses.

So where did the Joint Committee on Taxation’s numbers come from? Several marijuana industry groups have done their own estimates of 280E’s impact, but the numbers that seem closest to what the JCT put out were developed by a Washington D.C. economic research firm hired by Tom Rodgers, a Native-American advocate and lobbyist. About 15 years ago, Rodgers was the whistleblower in the infamous Jack Abramoff case, helping authorities to uncover criminal lobbying and bribery activities that ultimately led to convictions for 21 people, including a congressman and two former Bush White House officials. These days, Rodgers has expanded his oeuvre to include some work on behalf of the cannabis industry. In 2016, in conjunction with a chain of Colorado marijuana dispensaries called the Green Solution, Rodgers commissioned the research firm to develop an analysis of 280E in the hopes of ultimately getting the provision repealed.

While we’ve seen cannabis legalization gain popularity, political support has also increased. We’ve seen Congress pass protections from federal arrest and prosecution for medical providers and the House has passed protections for adult-use businesses and banking services (but the Senate needs to catch up). Eventually, we’ll see some movement on the 280E tax code. Hopefully soon, Uncle Sam will stop profiting from keeping cannabis illegal and give the hard-working members of the cannabis industry, the same tax deductions that other businesses enjoy. If the cannabis community will make a point to support locally-owned cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf, that money will flow back into local communities, where that green can do the most good.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Tells Congress to Deal with Cannabis Banking Issues

As cannabis legalization has moved more mainstream, we have seen more and more progress at the federal level, but much-needed reforms are moving entirely too slowly, especially for those operating businesses that could use normal banking services and tax policies. With support across demographics, it can be extremely frustrating to the cannabis community and industry to see bills stalled, such as the SAFE Banking Act that managed to pass the House, but still awaits a Senate hearing. It appears that you can add Trump Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to the list of those growing irritated with Congress as he told congressional members how the lack of banking services is impacting the IRS, as The Hill reported:

“This creates significant problems for the IRS,” Mnuchin said at a hearing held by a House Appropriations subcommittee.

Many states have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. However, banks have been hesitant to serve marijuana businesses even in states that have legalized use of the drug because they want to avoid violating federal anti-money laundering and illicit finance laws. That has led to cash-only marijuana businesses.

Without taking a stance on how he thinks the federal-state conflict concerning marijuana should be resolved, Mnuchin urged Congress “to deal with this one way or another.”

As The Hill noted, Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo is an obstacle to passing sensible cannabis banking legislation in the Senate. Spread the word and make sure that he hears from plenty of people, especially his constituents.

 

 

 

Mexico Advances a Cannabis Legalization Bill

While we have made great progress legalizing cannabis state by state, the U.S. federal government continues to painfully lag behind the people, even with a majority of Americans supporting legalization. As we’ve seen more and more U.S. politicians including presidential candidates move towards supporting sensible cannabis legislation, we should seen an end to federal prohibition within the next decade. One thing that might speed up the process will be other countries joining Canada in legalizing cannabis.

As Marijuana Moment reports, Mexico is moving closer to joining our neighbor to the north, as the Mexican Senate has just advanced a legalization bill: to the Senate floor via a 26-7 Senate vote:

The proposal as introduced would allow adults 18 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. Individuals could grow up to 20 registered plants as long as the total yield doesn’t exceed 480 grams per year. Medical patients could apply to cultivate more than 20 plants, however.

Personal possession would be capped at 28 grams, but possession of up to 200 grams would be decriminalized.

***

The bill proposes a 12 percent tax on cannabis sales, with some revenue going toward a substance misuse treatment fund.

Very exciting for tourists and locals alike, public consumption would be allowed, except in designated spaces deemed to be 100% smoke-free. It is bad enough that the United States has let Canada reap economic benefits that should be going towards American citizens. Are we gonna let Mexico beat us to the punch as well? On the bright side, the enlightenment of our friendly nextdoor neighbors should spur our politicians to act sooner rather than later.