Tag: cannabis community

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

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

United States Government Collects Billions from Cannabis Businesses, Time to Treat them Fairly

The cannabis community and industry has made some great achievements in recent years, thanks to a ton of hard work by advocates and entrepreneurs. While those of us in the trenches can take pride in ending harmful arrests and helping generate revenue for our communities, it can be a bit frustrating when so many people think that political change is inevitable and that making a living in the cannabis industry is easy.

The truth of the matter is that we have improved our cannabis laws thanks to decades of hard work and sacrifices by a lot of people, many of whom haven’t lived to see the fruits of their labor. People that don’t know folks directly involved in the cannabis industry, are often under the impression that retailers, processors, and growers are just raking in big bucks; they have no idea the amount of work it takes to just stay afloat, let alone make a decent profit. Cannabis industry entrepreneurs are shattering the “lazy stoner” stereotypes by putting in long hours and sacrificing so much to forge their own American Dream.

Unfortunately, hard working business people are trying to earn a living with one hand tied behind their backs as they are often prevented from having access to ordinary banking services and they are taxed at an exorbitant rate thanks to the 280e IRS tax code as Quartz reported:

Although marijuana is illegal under federal law, cannabis businesses in the United States still pay federal taxes on gross income. They are not allowed any deductions or credits for business expenses, by law, which can mean an effective federal tax rate as high as 90%.

The US government collected an estimated $4.7 billion in taxes from cannabis companies in 2017 on nearly $13 billion in revenue. Unlike most American businesses, which pay electronically or by check, most of these marijuana firms are unbanked and were forced to pay their federal taxes in cash, something the IRS is still trying to get a handle on.

Change will eventually come, thanks to many people putting in a ton of work, but reforms really can’t come fast enough. A banking bill has a chance to pass Congress this year, but it’ll take the cannabis community and their supporters to step up and demand change. You can help by contacting your United States Senators. If you are an Idaho voter, please let Senator Mike Crapo know how much you support legalizing normal banking services for state-regulated cannabis businesses. People’s livelihoods literally depend upon it.

Congress Holds More Cannabis Bill Hearings

While federal reforms are taking entirely too long, it is still newsworthy and important that the United States Congress is holding hearings on important legislation. Each step at the federal level brings us closer to real change and today marked another important milestone for the cannabis community and industry.

As usual, Marijuana Moment was on top of another historic cannabis hearing:

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held the meeting to discuss six cannabis reform proposals, including two that would federally legalize marijuana. Most of the hearing involved lawmakers pressing witnesses from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on the obstacles to marijuana studies that those officials claim are needed before pursuing broader policy reform.

Conversation was more limited when it came to legalization bills such as Judiciary Chairman Jerrod Nadler’s (D-NY) Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which was approved by his panel last year. That said, formerly anti-reform Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) did lead a powerful discussion about the failures of prohibition and the need to deschedule cannabis.

Kennedy announced that panel leadership has agreed to hold a second hearing featuring the voices of people negatively impacted by marijuana prohibition, which he said “has failed.”

Portland Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer issued a press release praising the hearing:

Congressman Earl Blumenauer Applauds Energy and Commerce Committee for Holding Cannabis Policy Hearing

Washington, DC – Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, today released a statement applauding the Energy and Commerce Committee for holding its first cannabis related hearing.

“After years of working to advance cannabis reform in Congress, this critical hearing is an important milestone where another major congressional committee focused time and attention on our movement. I’m pleased Chairman Pallone and Health Subcommittee Chair Eshoo made this hearing a priority. It was important to hear a number of senior members of Congress affirming the change that is taking place at the state level and affirming the contradictions that are created by the federal government being out of step and out of touch.

The topics discussed today are all relevant to bringing our cannabis policy into the 21st century, including my bill to clear the barriers to cannabis research. The hearing also included our top priority, the MORE Act, legislation to decriminalize cannabis federally and address the consequences of the failed war on drugs. It’s past time for Congress to catch up to the American people. We need action, and today was an encouraging and important step forward in our blueprint for cannabis reform in this Congress”

Step by step, we are moving closer to legalizing banking access, reforming our tax code, and ending the failed war on the cannabis community. It is not only notable that important congressional hearings are being held, but also that we are swaying former prohibitionists like Joe Kennedy to get on the right side of history. While there is a lot more work to be done, it’s nice to see our elected officials starting to give cannabis law reform the attention and priority that it deserves.

We Need a Medical Cannabis Patients Bill of Rights

It is easy to see that our nation is moving towards a more sane cannabis policy, but it is still moving too slowly for millions of people. Yes, cannabis is legal for all adults in several states and a majority now allow medical, these laws primarily only protect law-abiding citizens from criminal punishment. Too many folks are still experiencing discrimination in the workplace or face the possibility of losing custody of the children because laws ending criminal penalties aren’t fully protecting those that utilize cannabis. Most importantly, we need to protect patients that use cannabis medicinally.

A medical cannabis patients bill of rights has been filed in Florida, and every state needs to adopt similar legislation, albeit we need even more protections. The Orlando Weekly reports:

The purpose of the legislation is to protect employees and job applicants from punishment for using medical marijuana, unless their job includes safety-sensitive job duties.

“We must do our part to ensure that their use of safe and effective medicine will not impede their right to work,” Berman stated in a press release regarding the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act.

The measures would require the employer to provide written notice within five days of a positive test result to give employees and job applicants a chance to explain their results. According to Berman, employers would still be able to enforce a zero-tolerance, drug-free workplace, as the legislation allows for termination of employees whose performance and safety are affected by the drug.

In addition to workplace issues, medical cannabis patients need protections for housing, child custody, and medical decisions. We have made great strides in ending the persecution, prosecution, and stigmatization of the cannabis community recently, but we still have a lot of work to do as fighting for liberty and equality doesn’t stop when states legalize the use of cannabis.

Feature photo credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

It’s Time for Cannabis Careers to Get the Respect that They Deserve

The media loves loves love reporting on the big sales and tax revenue numbers that legal cannabis businesses generate. They don’t do as good of a job demonstrating the full economic benefit that regulated cannabis commerce has brought to states across the nation, and outlets often can’t resist having some time of punny headline about “Smoking Sales Expectations” or “The Green Rush” and our society of large certainly doesn’t give the proper amount of respect to the cannabis community and the hardworking folks operating small businesses.

Most people have zero clue the amount of work that goes into making a living in the industry or that the lack of banking access and other regulatory headaches hinder the livelihood of workers throughout the industry, not just dispensaries, cultivators, and processors. Hopefully, that will change over time as people become more educated and cannabis moves more mainstream.

Writing for Green Entrepreneur, Grup Flor’s Gavin Kogan, makes some excellent points:

“Cannabis professional” not an oxymoron. There’s perhaps no other industry in modern history that is so multi-faceted, requiring some level of knowledge or expertise across so many different disciplines. After all, we are creating an entire industry from one end of the supply chain to the other, entirely from scratch. From the agricultural issues of cultivation to the engineering aspects of manufacturing to the legal and regulatory requirements surrounding local consumer shops, cannabis requires the business acumen so common in more traditional industries

According to ArcView Market Research, the cannabis industry will employ well over 400,000 people in the US by 2021. By conservative estimates, there are already 211,000 cannabis jobs across the United States now, of which 64,000 were added just in 2018. As more states legalize cannabis, employment needs and opportunities will grow exponentially.

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As parents, educators and business owners, let’s legitimize cannabis as a serious career path for those eager to learn and join such a dynamic industry. It’s time to put the stigma of the product behind us and appreciate the impact cannabis is, and will, have on our economy.

Slowly but surely, we are debunking so many myths about cannabis and people that utilize the plant, but that slow progress can be so frustrating. I often wonder if those working in the beer, wine, and liquor industries suffered similar stigmatization after federal alcohol prohibition was repealed or if changing the law across the land helped legitimize their career paths.

Recently, I attended a hearing of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the agency that regulates both alcohol and cannabis in the Beaver State. It is easy to see that cannabis is still considered second fiddle to alcohol, even though cannabis generates more tax revenue than beer and wine for the state by far. I was envious of the respect that OLCC Commissioners gave representatives of liquor distributors and small wineries and left motivated to help ensure that the cannabis community and industry achieves the respect and recognition that we deserve. Step by step, we’re gonna get there.

Just Say No to Higher Cannabis Taxes

Operating a licensed and regulated cannabis business is an extremely tough endeavor. After working towards drug policy reform for about 20 years before living in a state with legal cannabis commerce among all adults, I have received a crash course in the last four years about the ins and outs of running a cannabis business from clients, friends, and regulators. The truth of the matter is that profiting from legal cannabis sales is an extremely difficult task because of regulatory hurdles and tax burdens. The federal 280e tax code that prohibits cannabis entrepreneurs from deducting normal business expenses (rent, payroll, etc.) is the most damaging. High (I know, pun intended) taxes on cannabis are another serious barrier, making prices unaffordable for those with lower incomes, and encouraging people to shop on the illicit market.

California, already hurting businesses with a heavy tax burden, are raising taxes even further. The Golden States should reverse course, and other states should not follow suit, they should look to go in the opposite direction and keep taxes law to benefit local businesses and allow the regulated market to keep pace with the prices in the unregulated economy. The San Jose Spotlight reported on the tax hike:

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration “stunned and outraged” the business side of California’s cannabis market when it announced in November that taxes would go up in January, the California Cannabis Industry Association said in a statement.

The association said California adding more taxes, as the state’s nascent recreational cannabis market “spirals towards collapse” would “drive consumers to the illicit market at a time when illicit products are demonstrably putting people’s lives at risk.”

California collects a 15% excise tax from cannabis consumers and San Jose collects an additional 10%. Every transaction also includes a sales tax that is at least the 9.25% charged by the state on all consumer transactions and maybe more when cities and counties have their own sales taxes. Those rates will remain the same in 2020, but retailers will face a 12.5% bump in taxes and farmers will see an increase of more than 4%.

Like many consumers, the cannabis community is very price conscious. Further, cannabis consumers are comprised of many patients on limited incomes and with plenty of people that know how to acquire flower and other products through underground connections. Too heavy of a tax burden will disproportionately hurt sick and disabled patients and mom-and-pops, as the wealthy and multinational companies can easily handle price increases.

Keeping taxes low will better help everyday citizens and the small businesses that truly power and invest in our local communities and neighborhoods. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis and I’m pleased that they helped show the way, but let’s not follow the state’s example on taxes, unfortunately, as the Golden State is going completely in the wrong direction.

Last Minute Christmas Shop at Kind Leaf, the Cannabis Boutique that Gives Back

I’m not a huge gift giver. My Christmas gift to everyone is that they don’t have to buy me anything. Of course, a few loved ones will give me presents, so I will reciprocate, I’m not a monster. If you have members of the cannabis community on your list, I urge you to support small cannabis businesses like Kind Leaf. Mom and pop retailers give back to our local communities and profits aren’t shipped out of the state or to other countries. Kind Leaf, easter Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique, goes a step further with its Kind Tree program. This year, 23 families with 54 children will have great Christmases because of the kindness of Kind Leaf and their customers.

2019 Kind Leaf Kind Tree Gifts
The Kind Leaf team is delivering gifts to over 50 children from families in need this Christmas.

If you are in Pendleton, Oregon, or anywhere close enough for a rewarding road trip, Kind Leaf has many products that are exclusive to them in Pendleton. For cannabis flower and pre-rolls, those brands include: SoFresh Farms, 7 Points Oregon, Geek Farms, Fox Hollow Flora, Yerba Buena, Ideal Farms, Highland Provisions, Otto’s, and Gnome Grown. If you are looking for extracts, concentrates, or vape cartridges exclusive companies are: Happy Cabbage, Willamette Valley Alchemy, White Label, Dr. Jolly’s, Highland Provisions, Dab Society, Hood Oil, and Phantom Farms. Exclusive edible products are from Serra, Peak Chocolate, Highland Provisions, Legal Beverages, and starting in January, Grön.

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There are even some amazing non-cannabis items that make great gifts, many featuring local businesses. “Voting” with our hard-earned dollars is one way that we can help create the society that we want. If you want a local economy that benefits Oregonians, supporting Kind Leaf is one way to be a bit of the change that you want to see in this world.

Kind Leaf is closing at 6pm on Christmas Eve and is closed on Christmas Day to allow employees to enjoy the holiday with loved ones.

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Cannabis Community Must Rally to Pass Banking Bill in the U.S. Senate

Those thinking that the cannabis industry is a get-quick-rich plan are most likely to be severely disappointed. A long list of obstacles hinder cannabis businesses from over regulation to over taxation, at all levels of government. The lack of access to banking services is one major hurdle for hard working entrepreneurs that are foundational pioneers in the burgeoning industry. The lack of a bank account poses enough problems, but without the business loans and other programs available to other industries, growth is severely stifled.

Thanks to the diligence of advocates, we won a major victory by passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Act at the United States House this year, but unfortunately the much-needed banking bill faces a tough path in the Senate. Passage in the Senate will take a strong lobbying effort by the cannabis community after Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, while open to passing banking legislation, announced his opposition to the SAFE banking Act, as Marijuana Moment reported:

A powerful Senate committee chairman said on Wednesday the he opposes House-passed marijuana banking legislation and laid out potential changes he would like to see to the bill before he takes it up in his panel.

Among other amendments being floated for public feedback is a 2 percent THC potency limit on products in order for cannabis businesses to qualify to access financial services as well as blocking banking services for operators that sell high-potency vaping devices or edibles that could appeal to children.

“I remain firmly opposed to efforts to legalize marijuana on the federal level, and I am opposed to legalization in the State of Idaho,” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, said in a press release. “I also do not support the SAFE Banking Act that passed in the House of Representatives. I have significant concerns that the SAFE Banking Act does not address the high level potency of marijuana, marketing tactics to children, lack of research on marijuana’s effects, and the need to prevent bad actors and cartels from using the banks to disguise ill-gotten cash to launder money into the financial system. I welcome input from all interested parties on how to thoughtfully address these concerns.”

Regardless of one’s stance on cannabis legalization, everyone should support banking access for industry participants. The SAFE Banking Act will help businesses grow, creating more jobs and generating more revenue. Public safety and prompt tax payments will also improve if banking services are fully legalized. The lack of banking services hurts small and medium businesses the most and these mom-and-pops and craft cannabis boutiques need our support, both with our dollars and our political activism.

The future of the cannabis industry depends upon our community shopping with local companies and urging our elected officials, especially United States Senators, to treat the industry like any other business sector. It certainly seems like Idahoans need to contact Senator Crapo and it is imperative that we make our voices heard. We’ve come a long way, we just need to remain vigilant and keep making progress for the cannabis community step by step, piece by piece, law by law.