County Cannabis Industry News

Quarterly Cannabis Workshop Set for Jan. 8

One of the three panelists at the Jan. 8 Quarterly Cannabis Workshop & Networking Event is Melissa Kulpers Blake, shareholder and co-chair of the Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Industry GroupBrownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP

The next Quarterly Cannabis Workshop and Networking Event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at Carr Winery, 414 N. Salsipuedes St., Santa Barbara. 

A panel of three women will discuss topics including: “The Social Entrepreneur;” “How Compliance Testing Legitimizes the Industry;” “Federal Cannabis Legislation, States Act, S3032, Safe Banking Act and Projections for 2020.” 

Panelists include activist and educator Felicia Carbajal of California Cannabis advocates, Melissa Kulpers Blake, shareholder and co-chair of the Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Industry GroupBrownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, and Shuli Shuman, owner and founder of True Science Laboratories. 

Presentations will be from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Networking will be from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. 

Prior to Jan. 7, advance registration is $15 online at https://app.clientpay.com/home/payment/#/paymentPage/42d1011a-e5fa-4a97-ab10-9e479311df95 and $20 at the door. Entry fee includes appetizers and drinks. 

Sponsors include the Law Firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, SB Verde, Santa Barbara County Cannabis Business Council, Delta Leaf and the 805 Cannabis Society.

For more information and sponsorship opportunities, contact Nikki Caravantes at ncaravantes@bhfs.com.

Posted Dec. 12, 2019.

House Panel Pushes Pot Bill for Big Vote

Despite all the hoopla over impeachment hearings in D.C., a congressional committee Nov. 20 approved a bill that would end federal prohibition of marijuana for the first time. 

In advance of a full House vote, the Judiciary Committee voted 24-10 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act

Even if the House OKs the bill, it is expected to have a rough go in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opposes to any marijuana measures. 

The measure is aimed at decriminalizing marijuana by removing it from the federal list of drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. It would establish a 5 percent sales tax on the cannabis industry to fund the process of expunging the records of people with pot convictions. 

The nation could do the same as some California counties that have expunged records of marijuana crimes and make for them to be resentenced or seek citizenship and federal public benefits, such as housing, if the measure become a federal law.  

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., introduced the bill. It was backed by other Democrats on the committee and Republicans such as California Rep. Tom McClintock and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Posted Nov. 20, 2019.

Farrar Named Glass House Group President

Graham Farrar has been named president of Glass House Group, a Southern California-based cannabis and hemp company. 

He’ll oversee the company’s business strategies, budgets and operations, and report to CEO Kyle Kazan. 

An original member of both Sonos and Software.com teams, and self-described “tech geek,” Farrar also has worked in emerging markets and technology.  

He founded Elite Garden, a soil enrichment company, then later worked on Glass House Farms, which now serves as Glass House Group’s cultivation and manufacturing arm. 

Farrar also headed up Glass House Group’s joint venture with Cadiz, the first company to enter into a joint venture with a cannabis and hemp company to be listed on NASDAC.  

And, he helped launch artist Bella Thorne’s cannabis and CBD brand Forbidden Flowers and Santa Barbara’s first adult-use retail location the Farmacy, which opened its doors with his expertise. 

 “A core focus of mine will be to leverage my experience in technology, data and analytics to drive operational efficiencies across Glass House Group, its brands and partnerships,” Farrar told the online publication Benzinga. “As proud ‘tech geek,’ I am also particularly excited to help drive our company forward as it continues exploring the incredible power of cannabinoids and we enter into a new, exciting era of the cannabis and hemp sectors.” 

County Panel Denies Bid to Halt Buellton Pot Farm

The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission unanimously voted Nov. 7 to turn down an appeal aimed at denying a farm land-use permit for Busy Bee Organics, a legal marijuana farm in Buellton. 

The appeal hearing started Oct. 30, but the commission continued it after a five-hour marathon. 

Cannabis farmers Sara Rotman and her husband Nate Diaz have operated Busy Bee Organics since 2015.  

Some of their 30 fellow farmers, neighbors and industry professionals joined the couple at the commission hearings in support of their agricultural practices and work with nearby residents.

“I’ve known Sara and Nate since they came here in 2014,” said Ray Amby, a conventional farmer and a neighbor to Busy Bee Organics, said in a press release. “We’ve been farming next to one another, our crops not more than feet apart, for five years with zero conflicts.”

After the Thursday hearing, Rotman said, “I’m deeply touched by the overwhelming support of the community at large, with so many fellow farmers, neighbors, friends, women business leaders, and local public officials who took the time to affirm the work that my husband and I invested into developing an exceptional organic cannabis farmland.”

 Rotman is CEO of Busy Bee Organics and co-chair of Good Farmers Great Neighbors, a collective of Santa Barbara County cannabis industry leaders who believe that marijuana farming is good for county jobs and the local economy.

Posted Nov. 8, 2019.

N. County Cannabis Farmers Release Videos

A coalition of legal cannabis farmers in North Santa Barbara County has released a series of videos to help underscore its members’ agricultural roots, commitment to science and pesticide-free farming, community support and economic vitality within the region, according to an Oct. 18 press release. 

Good Farmers Great Neighbors has been trying to counter critics who argue that cannabis should not be grown near other crops such as wine grapes.  

“We believe it is our responsibility to share our values and passion for sustainable farming, healthy living and community support with the public at large in Santa Barbara County,” said Sara Rotman, co-chair of Good Farmers Great Neighbors. “We embrace our neighbors and community-minded leaders engaged in building a better tomorrow for the people of Northern Santa Barbara County.” 

The videos encourage dialogue and learning by presenting the experiences of cannabis industry workers, Santa Ynez Valley produce farmers, area business owners and elected officials. Last month, the farmers group hosted the first in a series of community discussions on cannabis, wine and tourism in Buellton, which drew more than 100 people.  

The group hopes the videos released this week will demonstrate their work to collaborate with other farmers and businesses for the betterment of the county. The videos can be viewed here

“Our families have learned from the best in organic farming and we are now at the pinnacle of innovation producing ‘Best in Class’ cultivation and environmental standards that could help elevate all of agriculture in the county as a leader in the U.S. market, especially when cannabis related interstate commerce federal legislation passes next year,” said John De Friel, co-chair of the farmers group. 

Good Farmers Great Neighbors promotes the effort to dispel the myths surrounding cannabis and its production to help the industry grow.

Posted Oct. 18, 2019.

SBVerde Launches Free Area Cannabis Guide

SBVerde, a Santa Barbara-based website, this week announced the launch of the first Central Coast Cannabis Guide.

“Your Guide to Central Coast Cannabis” will be distributed for free to more than 170 locations throughout the region, SBVerde officials said, including: Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Goleta, Ventura, Camarillo, Oxnard, Santa Ynez, Lompoc, and Santa Maria.

Most of the distribution locations are hotels with a smattering of visitor centers and chambers of commerce.
“The guide covers important information for the new or newly returning cannabis consumer, as well as fun facts, which brands are locally grown brands, and of course, local adult-use dispensaries to make purchases,” SBVerde officials said. 
For more information, see https://www.sbverde.com/ or email hello@sbverde.com to request the guide.

Posted Oct. 14, 2019.

SBCC Chief Smokes ‘Leaf Learning,’ But Then Reconsiders

The head of Carpinteria-based KopSun LLC said over the weekend that the president of Santa Barbara City College would not allow two “Leaf Learning” classes to be taught at the Schott Campus as scheduled this month. 

“We received a call on Wednesday (Oct. 9) from Santa Barbara City College’s School of Extended Learning to learn that interim President/Superintendent Helen Benjamin pulled the plug on our Leaf Learning: “Basic CBD & Cannabis” courses without any warning or reason two days before the first class was scheduled,” KopSun CEO Tina Fanucchi-Frontado.

Fanucchi-Frontado made that statement in a Sunday email titled: “Don’t Let the Anti-Cannabis Bullies Scare You.” Two classes were scheduled to be presented Oct. 12 and 19 at the Schott Campus in Santa Barbara. 

“Needless to say, we are very disappointed,” she said. “We also apologize to those who were looking forward to learning about enhancing their health and searching for pain relief.” 

College officials could not be reached immediately for comment. KopSun has been presenting its free and well-attended Leaf Learning sessions at the Carpinteria Women’s Club since the beginning of the year. 

The sessions are taught by Kopsun’s executive team of Fanucchi-Frontado, Leigh-Anne Anderson and Amy Marie Orozco. Anderson said the Leaf Learning classes were rescheduled for the four Thursdays in February 2020.

She said after hearing the classes were dropped, KopSun wrote a letter to members of the college trustees who called for the classes to be back on the schedule.

“Cannabis basics” are covered in the sessions, such as THC vs. CBD, their various therapeutic properties, clearing the confusion of legality and availability, and learning what’s right for a particular person’s body. 

“You are probably very aware of a small but loud group of anti-cannabis bullies,” the KopSun CEO said. “We speculate they may have lodged the complaint effort. Our stance is that it’s cruel to deny this learning opportunity to people in pain. Our experience tells us many with arthritis, insomnia, and plenty of other disorders have been helped immensely by the cannabis plant and Leaf Learning sessions.” 

She said, “Plus, let’s not forget SBCC is a public institution and the subject matter is completely legal. Even before this injustice, we were full-speed ahead expanding our education footprint, heading north with new course facilitators and more classes.” 

KopSun also noted that its “Coffee with a Cannabis Farmer” is almost at capacity on Oct. 25. A waiting list for another event is available for January. For more information on that, email info@kopsun.com

For more updated information on this developing story, see https://santabarbarabusinessnews.com/business/kopsun-ceo-says-sbcc-chief-smokes-leaf-learning/

County Weed Tax Revenue Goes Higher

Pot tax revenue is growing strong in Santa Barbara County. 

In the 2018-19 fourth fiscal quarter ended June 30, cannabis tax revenue in the county increased 60 percent to $2.3 million compared to the two previous quarters, the Board of Supervisors was told Oct. 2. 

And, 154 county cannabis businesses submitted permit applications to the county as the end of the quarter. By that date, 11 land-use and two coastal development permits were issued. 

Thirty-six cannabis companies generated a total of $6.9 during the 2018-19 fiscal year. That’s $1.2 million more than expected, county officials said in a report to the board. 

Most of that revenue is used for illegal cannabis raids. The multi-departmental county Sheriff’s Cannabis Enforcement Team conducted 12 raids on illegal cannabis operations in the fourth quarter. 

The county report said the raids eradicated 471,000 plants valued at $118 million on the street. The raids reaped 50,000 pounds of processed pot worth some $50 million. 

The Planning and Development Department staff went to 99 odor-related complaints during the fourth quarter. Of the 31 enforcement cases, 17 were odor complaints. Many complaints were about buildings and cultivation that lacked permits. 

County officials reported six of the land-use permits and both coastal development permits issued were appealed prior to being granted. 

One appeal of a coastal development permit was denied by the county Planning Commission and later was heard by the Board of Supervisors meeting. That also was denied. 

By the end of the fourth quarter, 27 applications for conditional-use permits had been received. None had been issued.

Posted Oct. 3, 2019.

KopSun to Teach ‘Leaf Learning’ Through SBCC

KopSun LLC CEO Tina Fanucchi-Frontado teaches “Leaf Learning.”

In what may be the first legal college class of its kind in Santa Barbara, the Carpinteria-based company KopSun LLC will teach two separate sessions of its “Leaf Learning: Cannabis and CBD Basics” class from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 12 and 19. 

The class will be presented through Santa Barbara City College’s School of Extended Learning.  

KopSun has been presenting its free and well-attended Leaf Learning sessions at the Carpinteria Women’s Club since the beginning of the year.  

Taught by KopSun’s executive team of CEO Tina Fanucchi-Frontado, Leigh-Anne Anderson and Amy Marie Orozco, each session will cover cannabis basics, such as THC vs. CBD, their various therapeutic properties, clearing the confusion of legality and availability, and learning what’s right for a particular person’s body. 

“Attendees also will discover how to understand labels, dosing options, and methods of ingestion. We’ll talk about pricing and dispensaries, too,” Fanuchhi-Frontado said. “Each session is suited perfectly to those who have known cannabis for a long time or are curious newcomers.”

For more information, see www.KopSun.com, email info@KopSun.com, or call (805) 881-1218.

Published Sept. 27, 2019. 

Congress OKs Cannabis Bank Bill 321-103

A measure that would create federal safe harbor for banks to serve lawful cannabis businesses and associated companies was approved overwhelmingly by the U.S. House of Representatives on a 321-103 vote.

legislation that would pave the way for financial institutions and insurance companies to serve state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of federal reprisal.

The bill required a two-thirds majority vote to pass because it was filed under what is called “a suspension of the rules.” 

Now, the cannabis industry deals largely in cash transactions. 

Proponents received backing from Republicans by adding hemp provisions in the bill. Ninety-one Republicans voted for the bill.

Congressman Andy Barr, R-Kentucky, and SAFE Banking Act sponsor Representative Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, joined to add provisions requiring federal financial regulators to confirm the legality of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products, and issue guidance to financial institutions. 

Hemp businesses are struggling to access financial services, even though that cannabis product is legal federally with the passage of the Farm Bill of 2018. 

The House Financial Services Committee pushed forward the SAFE Banking Act earlier with a 45-15 vote. 

Meanwhile, Senate Banking Chairman Michael Crapo, R-Idaho, said he wants his committee to vote on a marijuana banking bill by the end of the year. 

Crapo said his office might draft its own bill instead of advancing the SAFE Act.

Posted Sept. 26, 2019.

Wine, Weed Industry Members Want to Boost Tourism

Cannabis grower John De Freil speaks at a Sept. 11 panel discussion on wine and weed in Buellton.

More than 100 people crowded into a room in Buellton Sept. 11 to hear a panel of mostly wine and cannabis industry members discuss how they can work together to help each other boost local tourism. 

Some of the panelists said something must be done to keep around visitors who pass through the area, stop briefly and then move on to Paso Robles to spend their tourism dollars. 

The consensus among the seven panelists was that Santa Barbara County must loosen its laws regarding what wineries and other hospitality businesses are permitted to do for their guests, much like what San Luis Obispo County allows. 

Panelist Steve Page from the wine industry said, “Santa Barbara County is anti-tourist.” 

However, the panelists said they want to change that and have the wine and cannabis industries cooperate much like they do in Sonoma County, where he two agricultural industries are boosting tourism. 

The Wednesday night meeting at Industrial Eats in Buellton was in stark contrast to a county Board of Supervisors marathon session in Santa Barbara earlier this year that brought out angry condemnation of the cannabis industry from North County wine grape growers.  

One claimed, “You can’t taste wine if you smell cannabis,” while another threatened to halt his million-dollar winery project in Santa Ynez. 

However, the Sept. 11 meeting presented a panel whose members generally agreed that both the wine and cannabis industries can benefit each other by peacefully co-existing and bringing in more tourism dollars. 

Panelist and wine maker Wes Hagen said it is important that wine and cannabis work together because that will allow children in the area to have jobs paying some $68,000 a year that will allow them to stay on the Central Coast rather than move away to find work. 

Hagen said views about cannabis and farming should be based on science and not just emotion that has colored the opinions of many marijuana opponents. 

Panelist and cannabis grower John De Freil said the meeting to discuss how the two industries can boost tourism was long overdue. 

He said within two decades cannabis will be so accepted that it will be sold in retail stores and not just dispensaries. 

Former Republican congressman Jeff Denham told the crowd Washington D.C. has not seen anything like the current attempts to tear down anti-marijuana laws. 

He predicted bipartisan overturning of anti-cannabis banking laws soon and federal legalization in the next two years.

Posted Sept. 11, 2019.

Cannabis September Calendar of events

Sept. 12, 3 p.m., Ribbon-cutting grand opening for Coastal Dispensary, 1019 Chapala St., Santa Barbara; the company also plans to have a grand-opening weekend from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept.13 through 15; see https://www.coastaldispensary.com/ 

Sept. 12, 6 to 9 p.m., Santa Barbara & SLO Cannabis Industry Mixer, Rancho Nipomo BBQ, 108 Cuyama Lane, Nipomo; see https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cross-pollination-slo-sb-cannabis-industry-networking-mixer-tickets-71154999519

UPDATE: Coastal Holds Grand Opening, Plus Weekend Events

Santa Barbara City Councilman Oscar Gutierrez chats with an employee at Coastal Dispensary during the store’s Sept. 12 grand opening.

A grand-opening, ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Sept. 12 at the long-awaited adult-use recreational cannabis Coastal Dispensary, 1019 Chapala St., Santa Barbara. 

General Manager Ryan Bishara said the opening was a long time coming, but he is happy with how it all came together. The company also plans to have a grand-opening weekend from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 13 through 15. 

For the grand opening, Santa Barbara City Council members Megan Harmon, whose district includes the Coastal Dispensary site, and Oscar Gutierrez helped out at the ribbon cutting.

Harmon said the dispensary’s opening is a “new chapter” in Santa Barbara business history. “It’s a new opportunity for the city,” she said.

Bishara said he was not sure how many people would attend the Thursday grand opening, but he was happy with the scores of folks who showed up to show support and buy products.

Weekend events, for guests who are 21 years old and older, will feature merchandise giveaways, discounts, specials, vendor promotions and food trucks.  

The new dispensary is 6,000 square foot of “state of the art retail” with an airy, high ceiling space in a building that used to house a staffing company in front and a dance studio in back. 

Bishara said the company already operates a facility on Santa Barbara’s Eastside with a total of some 50 employees there and in the new shop. The company plans to do more hiring including delivery drivers, dispatchers, “budtenders,” a receptionist and assistant store manager. 

Bishara said the new dispensary features a variety of products from Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Northern California. They will range from high-end, luxury products to more affordable wares as well, he said. 

Coastal Dispensary also plans to do business in Lompoc and San Luis Obispo as early as December. Other Southern California locations are in the planning stages. 

Coastal marketing chief Devon Wardlow said the company will include a “Coastal Cares Program” in which its employees participate in ongoing community volunteer programs and activities. 

For more information, see https://www.coastaldispensary.com/ 

Posted Sept. 9, 2019. Updated Sept. 12, 2019.

Agritourism, Wine & Cannabis to be Discussed Sept. 11

“Is a New Tourism Trend on the Horizon in Santa Barbara County?” is the topic of a 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 11 panel discussion among wine vintners and cannabis farmers at the Industrial Eats Grand Ballroom, 81 Industrial Way, Buellton. 

The panel is the first in a series put on by the “Our Together We Thrive Community Forum” to learn and understand best practices and strategies that will promote tourism and economic growth for both the wine and cannabis industries, said Sara Rotman, co-chair of the North County Farmers Guild and Good Farmers Great Neighbors. 

Good Farmers Great Neighbors along with North County Farmers Guild and local vintners will host the panel of experts on the wine and cannabis industry partnership. 

Good Farmers Great Neighbors, a collective of North County cannabis cultivators and advocates, is working with community residents and businesses to find ways to enhance Santa Barbara County’s agritourism.  

The county’s unique climate yields ideal conditions and terroir for both wine and cannabis cultivation, along with a variety of other crops, event organizers said.  

Using Sonoma County as an example, it is clear that the wine and cannabis industry can both thrive together and complement one another, they said. “Sonoma County is already doing it,” Rotman said. “We can do it here and we can do it better.” 

The Good Farmers Great Neighbors group believes cannabis farming is good for county jobs and the economy. 

The group says it promotes best practices for sustainable growing, a healthy community and environment, and “advocate for good neighbor community engagement to dispel myths surrounding cannabis and cannabis production to help the industry thrive.” 

“My husband and I love farming,” Rotman said. “The cannabis plant saved my life.” 

See https://goodfarmersgreatneighbors.com/events/together-we-thrive/ for more details.

Posted Sept. 5, 2019.

CARP Growers Fund School Drug Counselor Post

CARP Growers, a nonprofit cannabis farmers group in Carpinteria Valley, on Aug. 27 donated $63,000 for the next three years to pay for a full-time, on-campus drug counselor for Carpinteria Middle School students. 

Carpinteria Unified School District officials accepted the gift for the counselor position identified by district leaders as a top priority, according to a CARP news release. 

“This funding opportunity really highlights what CARP, as a nonprofit, was built to do,” said Kyle Hardy, treasurer for CARP Growers board and president of Cresco California, a cannabis company that operates a farm in Carpinteria Valley. “Our team in Carpinteria includes numerous parents of students at Carpinteria Middle School and schools throughout our school district. We support them and their families.” 

CARP, or Cannabis Association for Responsible Producers, pledged to fill the counselor’s position for three years for a total of $189,000. The school district will hire a counselor through the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, which specializes in youth programs and interventions for at-risk youth throughout Santa Barbara County.  

The nonprofit group sponsored college tours for high school students last year. Before the start of the 2019-2020 school year, it was determined that the middle school youth counselor was an unmet top priority for the school district. 

“Farmers in Carpinteria Valley have been the backbone of local nonprofits that provide many critical community services,” said Anthony Staal, CARP Growers board secretary. “Economically, things weren’t looking so hot for our flower growers, five or 10 years ago; so, to see this donation is a sure sign that a rising tide can lift all ships.” 

CARP Growers is comprised of 12 member farms. The news release said organization’s mission is to “foster a positive relationship with the community of Carpinteria by setting best practices among cannabis farmers.” 

To be a member, farmers must demonstrate they use vapor-phase odor-control systems, among other best practices, and commit to using membership dues to contribute to community causes. 

Posted Aug. 28, 2019. 

Week Includes ‘Historic’ Event, Weedmaps New Course, County Actions

Proprietor Graham Farrar, center, speaks to a cannabis fan at the Farmarcy’s grand opening on Aug. 24.

Several events during the past week might have very significant meaning to the Santa Barbara business sector. 

In reverse order, but perhaps with the most significant first, the Aug. 24 grand opening of the Farmacy Santa Barbara marijuana shop was called “historic” by some local cannabis group organizers. 

Touted as the city’s first, all-purpose, fully licensed, adult-use cannabis storefront, the Farmacy’s grand opening drew hundreds of cannabis fans who waited in a block-long line to get a glimpse of the shop at 128 W. Mission St. 

The wait to get was softened by the soulful music of singer, songwriter and musician David Segall and some soft drinks, snacks and ice cream that helped stifle the sunny heat. 

The grand opening came the day after organizers of Weedmaps indicated they would stop listing locations of illegal marijuana retailers alongside legal businesses by the end of the year. 

Weedmaps said Aug. 21 it will begin requiring a state license number for marijuana retail listings on its site. 

This means a great deal to legal pot sellers who have been battling to compete with illegal operations. Illicit pot shops are blamed for lower-than-expected tax revenue generation in California.  

Meanwhile, the sixth annual Mega Mixer on Aug. 22 at the Hotel Californian was attended by throngs of members and associates of South Coast chambers of commerce and other business groups in a show of perceived unity among them. 

Actually, the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region has been limping along for a while and is without a permanent chief. The Goleta Valley Chamber is still drawing away many members who might join the “region” chamber. 

The result is a very loose confederation of business groups that some observers say would be better off with a single regional chamber.  

That’s been an underlying current for many years, but one that gained more interest during the recession and the final years of Steve Cushman’s tenure as Santa Barbara chamber chief when that organization lost several hundred members. 

Noteworthy because of its absence, no cannabis industry businesses were represented at the Mega Mixer, while a couple dozen restaurants, wineries, breweries and the like gave away samples of their wares to attendees. 

And in local politics, the county Board of Supervisors on Aug. 20 denied an appeal from opponents of a Carpinteria Valley cannabis grower, but required pot farms to show how they will use odor-control earlier in the process while trying to obtain permits. 

Supervisors also banned cultivation on smaller, inland agriculutural zoned properties, put a lid on cultivation acreage, and sped up the permitting process. 

Also in the news, county Supervisor Das Williams, who has been heckled for taking $16,500 in campaign funds from the cannabis industry, will be challenged in the March 3 primary by school board member Lois Capps, daughter of Lois Capps, the area’s former Congress member.

Hundreds of business people attend the sixth annual Mega Mixer at the Hotel Californian on Aug. 22.

Posted Aug. 26, 2019. 

Farmacy SB Plans Grand Opening for Aug. 24

A grand opening is planned from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 24 at Santa Barbara’s first, all-purpose, fully licensed, adult-use cannabis storefront at 128 W. Mission St. 

The Farmacy Santa Barbara will open its doors to provide “a holistic and curated experience for adults, tailored to serve both curious newcomers and experienced cannabis consumers,” company officials said. 

The store is in the former home of The Video Shop near the corner of Mission and De La Vina streets, next to Derf’s Café and just a few blocks from the Santa Barbara Mission.  

Graham Farrar, company’s founder, Santa Barbara native and South Coast business owner of Glass House Farms, said he is committed to continually investing in the community and hiring local residents to provide personalized service to customers.  

He is an outspoken advocate for cannabis education and awareness and president of CARP Growers, an organization dedicated to encouraging sustainable cannabis farming practices. 

“Our team at The Farmacy Santa Barbara has deep roots in this community and we will be actively involved in our neighborhood,” Farrar said in a news release. “We’re committed to promoting safe and positive cannabis use, as well as sustainable practices both in our choice of products and environmentally focused community activity.” 

Inspired by a “Farm-over-Pharmacy” ethos and a belief that “what appears on shelves should begin in the earth,” the Farmacy will offer a curated range of products addressing a spectrum of health, wellness, beauty and recreational needs, Farrar said. 

Customers can try a selection of sustainably produced cannabis products, including many that are farmed and sourced locally. 

Experienced “budtenders” will aid customers’ experience and help direct them to products that will meet their interests, dosage levels, and goals. The company will offer local delivery by ordering online ordering at www.thefarmacysb.com beginning Sept.15. 
The grand opening will feature food from local vendors, live entertainment, tours of business and the chance to meet and speak with the company’s employees. 
See thefarmacysb.com or call (805) 880-1207 for more information.

Posted Aug. 16, 2019.

Panelists Vow to Fight Cannabis Vilification

Even though it may have been the first time women heavily involved in the Santa Barbara-area cannabis industry came together on the same panel, the three women who discussed their experiences Aug. 7 downplayed that, but instead addressed the importance and diversity of the industry at this point. 

The panelists spoke to a packed crowd of about 100 industry enthusiasts on the patio of the downtown Impact Hub. 

Autumn Shelton, chief financial officer of Autumn Brands in Carpinteria, called for industry members to fight the “lies and propaganda” put forth by cannabis detractors who believe nothing can be done about cannabis crop odors. 

She said her company is one of the founders of CARP Growers, which has successfully reduced odors that have many Carpinteria residents up in arms. However, the complaints persist, even though she said someday they will go away while other food crop odors will persist. 

Shelton admitted it has a been a much longer battle to get her company in full operation than the three months she thought it would take. She’s hoping for that to happen next year. 

Sara Rotman, founder and CEO of Bluebird 805 in Buellton, said the industry is challenged and “vilified” by its detractors because of a lack of information. She said the industry must “educate the uninformed.” 

Rotman said the cannabis industry is the most important since the start of the digital age. Its opposition eventually, she said, “will dissipate like a fart in the wind.” Detractors are vocal, but small in number, Rotman said. 

She praised the work of the North County Farmers Guild in making “good farmers and great neighbors” of the cannabis industry.  

Rotman, who also works as a strategist and chief creative officer at NEWCO Branding, said she came to embrace cannabis as a therapeutic aid when she came down with a debilitating disease, which she dealt with by using products made from that now-legal substance. 

Another panelist who overcame a debilitating malady with the aid of a cannabis product, said she used to decry marijuana’s use. “Canna-activist” and entrepreneur Magda Arroyo said she once chastised a family member and others for cannabis use. 

However, now she thanks her son for helping her see the therapeutic benefits of what is now legal throughout California and many other states. “I educated myself,” she said. 

She called on the audience to “step it up” in the battle to educate the rest of the community about the benefits of cannabis. Along with the other panelists, Arroyo said the industry will provide much-needed jobs and tax revenue. 

Arroyo, who works with Brown & Brown Insurance in Santa Barbara, also operates a “Cannabiz” Facebook page. 

Amy Steinfeld, managing partner of the Law Firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber and Schreck’s Santa Barbara office, the Aug. 7 event’s key sponsor, said her company is increasing its involvement in the cannabis industry. 

She said the firm has formed a Cannabis and Industrial Hemp industry group. Many of the firm’s team of nationally recognized practitioners have worked with clients on cannabis and industrial hemp-related issues for more than a decade.  

The team delivers comprehensive solutions for the full spectrum of clients in the space, both those directly touching the plant and those tangential to the industry or impacted by it. 

The group will be co-chaired by Melissa Kuipers Blake, a shareholder in the firm’s Government Relations Department, and Steinfeld, a shareholder in the Natural Resources Department. 

SB Verde, the 805 Cannabis Society, Delta Leaf Labs and Coastal Dispensary were among the other groups co-sponsoring the quarterly event.

Posted Aug. 8, 2019.

All-Woman Panel to Discuss Local Cannabis Industry

Three professional women heavily involved in the Santa Barbara County-area cannabis industry will be panelists at the third Quarterly Cannabis Industry Workshop and Mixer from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 7 at Impact Hub, 1117 State St. 

Panelist Sara Rotman is the founder and CEO of Bluebird 805 in North County, as well as strategist and chief creative officer at NEWCO Branding. She will be joined on the panel by Autumn Shelton, chief financial officer at Autumn Brands in Carpinteria, and Magda Arroyo with Brown & Brown Insurance in Santa Barbara. 

“I’m proud to be showcasing three inspirational women in the cannabis industry at our upcoming Canna Quarterly, Industry Workshop & Mixer,” said Amy Steinfeld, managing partner of the Law Firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber and Schreck’s Santa Barbara office, one of the event’s sponsors.   

“It’s increasingly important to support women and minorities in the industry in light of the recent decline in diversity due to lack of funding for small companies and the rapid movement of c-suite men into this industry,” Steinfeld said. “Diversity is important because women make most of the health and wellness decisions for their families and represent a growing consumer demographic for CBD and cannabis-infused skin care products.” 

Rotman, who was recently featured in Forbes Magazine, said she plans to discuss the industry’s economic opportunities for the county from outdoor cannabis growing and the nuances from North County vs. the South Coast. 

“It’s the perfect storm for growing in Santa Barbara County, what some call the Silicon Valley of cannabis,” she said. It is a tremendous economic boost to the economy, Rotman added. 

However, she said, there is a need to separate inaccuracies about cannabis from the fiction that opponents are saying. 

Shelton saidshe will discuss the frustration that she and many Carpinteria cannabis growers have gone through the past year and a half with all the state and local regulations and odor issues that come up. 

“We are trying to promote sustainable agriculture and it has been a much longer process than we imagined,” Shelton said. “We’re here to educate people.” She also said she will share some details about her brand. 

Arroyo said she plans to discuss social equity that will bring people into the workforce through the cannabis industry to provide jobs and aid the economy. She also said many misconceptions about the cannabis industry needed to be addressed. 

On the brighter side, Steinfeld said the industry appears to becoming more diversified. 

“At this month’s National Cannabis Industry Association conference, I was inspired by the diverse speakers and vocal presence of groups like, Women Grow and the Minority Cannabis Business Association,” she said. 

SB Verde, the 805 Cannabis Society and Coastal Dispensary are co-sponsoring the quarterly gathering. 

For more information, contact Nikki Caravantes or see https://app.clientpay.com/home/payment/#/paymentPage/42d1011a-e5fa-4a97-ab10-9e479311df95 

Posted Aug. 5, 2019.

County Restricts More Cannabis, But Kicks Some Issues For Later

While sending most issues back to the planning commission, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors July 16 pushed toward further restrictions on cannabis production in unincorporated areas. 

Under pubic pressure, supervisors cut cannabis cultivation to be equal to the acreage in applications received as of July 9.  

They also required odor-control measures to be met during business-license processing and pulled exemptions for those without stink mitigation after Sept. 2. They said civil action will be taken against pot cultivation operations where the odor is considered a “nuisance.” 

However, county officials said many of the issues to be decided regarding cannabis regulations are left for the planning commission to hash out in coming weeks or months. 

The total amount of proposed cannabis production in unincorporated is 1,510 acres in the county’s inland region. However, that might shift once the amount is firmly established, county staff said. Some news reports claim the county has the world’s largest legal pot farms. 

Earlier this month, the board banned cannabis cultivation on smaller lots zoned Agriculture 1.

Supervisors Must Return July 16 for More Marijuana Mulling

After a couple hundred public comments for and against cannabis during a 10-hour meeting, the county board of supervisors July 9 boosted restrictions on small plots of farm land, but must come back with more discussion on further changes to the laws they approved almost two years ago. 

However, even after that marathon in Santa Maria was cut short by a power outage, supervisors still must meet again July 16 to try to solve more cannabis problems related to controlling marijuana odors and where and how big pot farms should be. 

Pot proponents continue to maintain that their already heavily restricted industry creates many new jobs and greatly boosts county tax coffers. But opponents won’t back down from how the stink from legal marijuana farms hurts their businesses and personal health. 

On top of all this, the county continues to crack down on illegal pot operations and those that have uncertified permits. More than three dozen warrants have been served on almost two dozen sites where more than a million pot plants were confiscated throughout the county. 

Even with that enforcement, it is well known that many illegal operations in the Los Padres National Forest have for many years made marijuana the county’s biggest de facto cash crop. 

Since the 2016 voter-approved legalization or recreational marijuana, Santa Barbara County officials have tried to accommodate the new industry and that has made the region what some call a cannabis mecca.

SB County Supervisors Eye Cannabis Law Changes July 9

In the ongoing battle to fine tune local cannabis laws, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. July 9 in the Betteravia Government Administration Building, 511 E. Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria. 

After months of wrangling with cannabis opponents from both ends of the county, as well as rather damning media coverage by an out-of-town newspaper, supervisors will mull over changes to land-use rules and licensing ordinance. 

Planning Commission recommendations for changing the county land-use and development code and coastal zoning ordinance will be discussed by the supervisors, according to the board’s agenda. https://santabarbara.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4055270&GUID=E54396CF-91E8-4AA6-A873-2B824899420E&Options=&Search= 

To be discussed is an amendment to the cannabis code, which only covers unincorporated areas outside cities, that would boost the area where residents must be informed when commercial pot activities are proposed within a residential neighborhood or that require public roadway use around that zone. 

Supervisors will look at more regulation on commercial cannabis operations in areas zoned Agriculture 1, requiring a conditional-use permit on property less than 20 acres where only a land-use permit is required. 

Residents from Carpinteria to Santa Ynez have been howling at county supervisors all year to do something about the “skunk” smell around cannabis-growing areas. Some residents and businesses just want the county to cut back on cannabis permits. 

It has been suggested that cannabis cultivators prove how effective their odor-control systems are while applying for a business license. 

In what is expected to a long, contentious board meeting, South Coast residents can view it on http://sbcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?camera_id=4

Posted July 7, 2019.

State Lawmakers Scramble to Help Pot Growers Keep Licenses

Even though some provisional operating licenses issued last year expired in March and April, cannabis growers are hoping some recent legislative fixes in Sacramento will come to the rescue. 

However, some expired licenses in Santa Barbara County have prompted a number of growers to come to a halt, said a South Coast land-use attorney. According to published reports, thousands of licenses expired in April. 

After California voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, the state issued temporary permits so that start-up cannabis businesses could begin operation until permanent licenses could be issued. 

The state legislature let time run out and has been scrambling to fix laws that would allow the businesses to stay in operation, as if the California legal cannabis industry needed any more problems. 

For example, far lower than anticipated tax revenue has been generated so far from cannabis as law enforcement continues to crack down on illegal operations. Santa Ynez grape growers are up in arms along with Carpinteria avocado farmers and residents who say cannabis odors really stink. 

Included in the state’s new $218.2 billion spending plan, is a deal that would extend the state’s provisional licensing and change expiration from Jan. 1, 2020, to Jan. 1, 2025. Lawmakers passed the initial budget June 13. 

The budget bill makes it clearer on how marijuana companies can get licenses, which would let businesses apply for temporary licenses that can be renewed without obtaining a temporary one initially. 

The deal would give pot companies a two-year exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act, the environmental protection law. 

The legislation also sets up a fine structure for legal cannabis license holders who violate state laws regulating the industry. Fines range from up to $5,000 for license holders and up to $30,000 for each violation for non-license holders. 

Lawmakers are expected to finalize approval of the marijuana-related bills in the coming week. 

Posted June 15, 2019. 

County Says It’s Working on Cannabis Laws, Cracking Down on Illegal Activity

Dated May 31, Santa Barbara County government issued an open letter that explores the ongoing controversy over the burgeoning cannabis industry and attempts to crack down on illegal activity related to it. 

The letter said “government’s role is to balance numerous sides of a complex issue, not one side or the other, that ultimately will benefit the county long term.” 

After a testy meeting in January that pitted angry Carpinteria residents and Sana Ynez Valley grape growers against pro-cannabis industry members, county officials have been trying to revamp the ordinance dealing with the issues that have been mounting since Californians voted in 2016 to legalize marijuana. 

While some residents and business owners complain about the stink cannabis causes, pro-hemp and marijuana forces say their industry will provide many jobs and millions in tax revenue while touting the therapeutic effects of cannabis.  

“Developing a regulatory environment for a new industry takes time and requires patience,” the open letter said. “The County Board of Supervisors adopts policies and regulations through a robust public process open to all stakeholders – none more so than the cannabis ordinance with more than 30 public meetings with many hours of public comment.” 

County officials said they recognize “significant tensions “exist among residents, cannabis growers and some elements of other agricultural industries.” They said they are developing a regulatory environment to address odors, enforcement, compatible land uses and eliminating the illegal marijuana economy. 

Meanwhile, the county Planning Commission will hear an appeal by an anti-cannabis community group to a Carpinteria marijuana growing permit at 9 a.m. June 5 in the county Engineering Building, 123 E. Anapamu St.

“Every land use issue in Santa Barbara County is controversial, including greenhouses in Carpinteria for cut flowers in the 1990s,” the letter said. “Cannabis is a contentious topic and one that stirs strong emotions, feelings and opinions.” 

Since 2016, the letter said, the county has worked on regulations to reduce, if not eliminate, illegal grows and negative effects blamed om cannabis cultivation.  

“Since August 2018, 30 criminal enforcement actions resulted in removal of 832,649 live plants and confiscation or elimination of 31,706 pounds of dry and wet harvested plants, illegal products and delivery services,” county officials said. “In addition to criminal enforcement, the compliance team is actively pursuing civil and land-use violations to enforce health and safety concerns.” 

“Protecting neighborhoods has been at the forefront of discussions,” the letter said. “To that end, all permitted cannabis operators are required to meet strict development standards and conditional use permits are now required of cannabis operators in existing rural neighborhoods to help reduce further impacts. “ 

The letter said the county is trying to get higher wage jobs with benefits for cannabis industry employees, and trying to create “a new regulated ag industry within a county that is 96.5 percent agricultural and forest land, and 3.5 percent urban.” 

Oniracom Partners with County on Cannabis Program

The Santa Barbara-based, 18-year-old company Oniracom and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department have launched a digital and social media-based public education campaign called the Cannabis Education Program. 

The program uses science-based cannabis research to inform the Santa Barbara County community, according to Oniracom officials. 

The program uses popular digital mediums and includes a series of videos from the California Department of Public Health’s statewide campaign “Let’s Talk Cannabis.” 

 The county’s campaign includes a rap music video, conversations between parents and children and “up-to-date information from credible sources about the dangers of using cannabis for youth, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, Oniracom officials said. 

“Our vision is that this campaign will create space for teens to have conversations about cannabis with trusted adults and for soon-to-be moms or new moms to discuss the impacts of cannabis use with their healthcare providers,” said Van Do-Reynoso, director for the county Public Health Department.  

The public education campaign will run through September and is expected to reach thousands of residents countywide. To learn more, see www.LetsTalkCannabisSBC.org 

Oniracom uses social media and other methods to support musician Jack Johnson, Sony, Disney, Universal, Warner, Sonos, Deckers, the Santa Barbara Bowl and a host of startups and nonprofits. 

Posted May 31, 2019.

FDIC Chief Says Cannabis Cash Faces Uncertain Future

A federal banking official told a Santa Barbara crowd May 16 that she’s unsure if legislation will pass the U.S. Senate aimed at allowing financial institutions to handle funds deposited by cannabis industry-related businesses. 

Kathy Moe, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., FDIC, director in San Francisco, spoke to the annual South County UCSB Economic Forecast Summit crowd of several hundred at the Granda Theater. 

She noted while recreational and medical marijuana are illegal by federal law, since California illegalized cannabis in 2016 Golden State banks are in a quandary about what to do with all the cash the industry is raking in these days. 

Moe said it’s not easy for the FDIC to tell banks what to do about the current situation. She said they must determine the “level of risk before becoming a problem” in dealing with cannabis cash and monitor the situation. 

She said more than 1,000 California banks have filed “suspicious activity reports” with the FDIC this year, mostly about cannabis industry revenue. “They have to decide, ‘What’s normal for this bank?’” Moe said. 

She also noted that bank deposits are down a bit in her FDIC region, perhaps because more consumers use Venmo or Starbucks funds in their smartphones. Moe said consumers are relying less on brick-and-mortar banks. 

Peter Rupert, head of the UCSB Economic Forecast, told the crowd the global fiscal outlook “sucks” because the largest European economies have declining gross domestic products. 

He also said he has no idea when then the current second-longest U.S. economic expansion will last, “maybe until June.” But a recession is sure to follow, although exactly when, he said he “has no clue.”  

Rupert noted Santa Barbara County retail sales are dropping, but wages are rising. He also said deaths are increasing in the county, births are declining as Santa Barbara city population has grown by 5 percent since the previous recorded year. 

The economist also referenced the cannabis industry by noting marijuana grower make about $120,000 a year while dispensary workers get some $52,000. 

The 2019 economic summit report made an interesting observation that number of Santa Barbara breweries has increase 38 percent since last year. That comes as California breweries have jumped only 27 percent, while nationally they have increased 23 percent. 

The report said Santa brewery employees have increased almost 40 percent, but statewide and nationally only by around 16 percent. Santa Barbara is still wine country with wineries making up 87 percent beverage establishments while breweries are at just 9 percent. 

Another speaker at the summit, Neil Kashkari, who made a failed bid for California governor, said he had his doubts that the nation is a maximum employment as federal officials claim. 

Posted May 20, 2019

Marijuana Expo to Be Annual Event, Organizer Says

In what may be the first event of its kind in Santa Barbara, the all-day May 11 Medical Marijuana Conference at the Veterans Memorial Hall drew a variety of experts extolling the therapeutic benefits of what still is illegal under U.S. law. 

Event organizer Jacqueline Lopez said she plans to make it an annual conference and expo. 

Since Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, more public discussion of cannabis and its benefits has occurred, especially on the South Coast. 

At the May 11 event, which drew scores of attendees, experts such as Dr. Joe Golstrich who told the audience “raw cannabis” products can kill cancer cells. He said cannabis can be more effect in fighting cancer when used in conjunction with such substances as melatonin or vitamin C. 

Another keynote speaker, Uwe Blesching, canabidiol, or CBD, is effective in bringing down the national number of deaths related to overdoses of opioids.  

He said some 70,000 lives could be saved in one year with the alternative use of the cannabis product. Cannabis products are very effective in managing various types of pain, Blesching said. 

However, he said, the use of cannabis-based products has been greatly hampered by the so-called “war on drugs” and propaganda in the 1937 U.S.-sponsored movie “Reefer Madness.” 

During her workshop, Robbin Lynn echoed that sentiment as she discussed what consumers should know when buying cannabis products for their therapeutic benefits.  

She cautioned consumers to read packaging labels carefully and look for a certificate of analysis. She advised against using cannabis products made in China. 

Santa Barbara chef Matthew Vieth discussed how to cook tasty dishes with cannabis, noting that such food needs to be heated to 260 degrees to get the best health benefit. 

Other speakers included Liz Rogan, a Santa Barbara expert on how cannabis works with the human body, and Seth Matrisciano, who talked about preparing personal medical cannabis. 

The conference and expo also featured about a dozen vendors, including soon-to-open Coastal Dispensary, who discussed their products and services with passers-by.

Posted May 20, 2019. 

49th Earth Day Sees Green, Some Cannabis Businesses Strut Stuff

At the first Earth Day almost half a century ago, not many “green” companies could be found and certainly no cannabis-related enterprises.   

The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill greased the wheels for the nation’s annual Earth Day events and prompted Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council to stage this year’s April 26 to 28 festival at Alameda Park, which drew up to an estimated 36,000 people under mostly gloomy skies.   

About a dozen years ago, some Santa Barbara-area business observers still discounted the notion that green enterprises were serious commercial endeavors and that cannabis would remain an underground economy.   

However, most of that has changed and Earth 2019 was a showcase of ideas that are California trends that usually lead the nation. The latest trend stems from California voters’ 2016 approval of a referendum that legalize recreational marijuana.   

Earth Day food vendors sell products that contain locally grown and sustainably produced ingredients. Many of the foods are vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, organic, non-GMO, fair trade, paleo or GPC verified. Cannabis companies are required by the state to make products that are organic and toxin free. 

A new product was debuted at the festival: Crushtabs, “the healthiest toothpaste on Earth” from https://www.crushtabs.com/ Santa Barbara’s Be Well Labs. It’s a little bear-shaped product that can be chewed with tooth-brushing-like effects.

For the first time, Coastal Dispensary staffed a booth at Earth Day 2019, right next to four-year festival veteran AquaViable, which sells machines that make water from air.   

When it plans to open in July, Coastal Dispensary will sell a full line of cannabis products at its 1019 Chapala St. location.    

In the near future, Coastal plans to open shops in Lompoc, San Luis Obispo, Goleta, Pasadena, Riverside and Chula Vista.   

To some folks’ disappointment, local favorite Handlebar Coffee Roasters was supposed to join with Santa Barbara-based Sugar Mill Farms to offer samples of the region’s only homegrown cannabidiol, CBD-fueled, nitro cold brew beverage during this year’s Earth Day Festival.  

However, county health officials put the kybosh on that notion. It’s unclear when Handle Bar and Sugar Mill will be able to serve up their CBD brew. 

Sugar Mill Farms sells CBD-infused edibles that contain almost none of the marijuana active ingredient THC. The CBD in the coffee that wasn’t served is a non-psychotropic extract from U.S.-grown and processed hemp. One 12-ounce serving has 25 milligrams of CBD extract, which is said to be therapeutic.   

Ironically, it is legal to grow marijuana in California, but not hemp, which is raised in states such as Kentucky. Cannabis products are illegal under federal law, but legal in some form in within the boundaries of 33 states.  

Santa Monica-based Vital Hemp had a booth at Earth Day 2019 where the company touted its cannabis clothing and tinctures.   

Earth Day’s Green Car Show seems includes showcase more alternative fuel vehicles each year. It’s always a popular electric vehicle showcase. 

Medical Cannabis Confab Planned for May 4

The first Ojai MediCannaCon, or Medical Cannabis Conference, is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 4 at the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club, 441 E. Ojai Ave. 

The Ojai Herbal Symposium and Sespe Creek Collective are presenting the conference, which is intended for health professionals and members of the public who would like to be informed by the latest science on the subject of medical cannabis. 

Presenters include Dr. David Bearman, Dr. Margaret Peterson, James D. Adams and Registered Nurse Susan Marks.  

Topics include “Cannabis in Health and Disease,” “The Human Endocannabinoid System,” “Medical Uses of Full-Spectrum Cannabis,” “The Entourage Effect of Cannabis,” and “The Safe and Effective Cannabis Patient Experience.” 

Volunteers are needed to staff the event in exchange for admission, organizers said. 

Registration is $125 in advance until May 3 and $145 at the door. For more information, see https://ojaiherbal.org/event/medicannacon/ or call (805) 646-6281. 

49th Earth Day Sees Green, Some Cannabis Businesses Strut Stuff

At the first Earth Day almost half a century ago, not many “green” companies could be found and certainly no cannabis-related enterprises.   

The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill greased the wheels for the nation’s annual Earth Day events and prompted Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council to stage this year’s April 26 to 28 festival at Alameda Park, which drew up to an estimated 36,000 people under mostly gloomy skies.   

About a dozen years ago, some Santa Barbara-area business observers still discounted the notion that green enterprises were serious commercial endeavors and that cannabis would remain an underground economy.   

However, most of that has changed and Earth 2019 was a showcase of ideas that are California trends that usually lead the nation. The latest trend stems from California voters’ 2016 approval of a referendum that legalize recreational marijuana.   

Earth Day food vendors sell products that contain locally grown and sustainably produced ingredients. Many of the foods are vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, organic, non-GMO, fair trade, paleo or GPC verified. Cannabis companies are required by the state to make products that are organic and toxin free. 

A new product was debuted at the festival: Crushtabs, “the healthiest toothpaste on Earth” from https://www.crushtabs.com/ Santa Barbara’s Be Well Labs. It’s a little bear-shaped product that can be chewed with tooth-brushing-like effects.

For the first time, Coastal Dispensary staffed a booth at Earth Day 2019, right next to four-year festival veteran AquaViable, which sells machines that make water from air.   

When it plans to open in July, Coastal Dispensary will sell a full line of cannabis products at its 1019 Chapala St. location.    

In the near future, Coastal plans to open shops in Lompoc, San Luis Obispo, Goleta, Pasadena, Riverside and Chula Vista.   

To some folks’ disappointment, local favorite Handlebar Coffee Roasters was supposed to join with Santa Barbara-based Sugar Mill Farms to offer samples of the region’s only homegrown cannabidiol, CBD-fueled, nitro cold brew beverage during this year’s Earth Day Festival.  

However, county health officials put the kybosh on that notion. It’s unclear when Handle Bar and Sugar Mill will be able to serve up their CBD brew. 

Sugar Mill Farms sells CBD-infused edibles that contain almost none of the marijuana active ingredient THC. The CBD in the coffee that wasn’t served is a non-psychotropic extract from U.S.-grown and processed hemp. One 12-ounce serving has 25 milligrams of CBD extract, which is said to be therapeutic.   

Ironically, it is legal to grow marijuana in California, but not hemp, which is raised in states such as Kentucky. Cannabis products are illegal under federal law, but legal in some form in within the boundaries of 33 states.  

Santa Monica-based Vital Hemp had a booth at Earth Day 2019 where the company touted its cannabis clothing and tinctures.   

Earth Day’s Green Car Show seems includes showcase more alternative fuel vehicles each year. It’s always a popular electric vehicle showcase. 

Q2 Cannabis Quarterly Event SRO at IHub

With it becoming an $8 billion industry in the next several years, the cannabis industry is at the tipping point of coming onto its own as a legal industry, a Santa Barbara-based real estate consultant told a crowd of more than 100 on April 18. 

Collin Dvorak spoke at the Quarterly Cannabis Networking & Workshop Event at the downtown Impact Hub, which drew more than 100 members of the Santa Barbara-area cannabis industry. 

Dvorak is the founder and CEO of San Marcos Consulting, a cannabis operations and real estate firm. The law firm of Brownstein Farber Hyatt Schreck again sponsored the event as it did in January. 

“It’s not a matter of if, but when” cannabis will be legalized across the United States,” Dvorak told the standing-room-only crowd. Federal law still classifies it like heroin or cocaine.  

Cannabis is “the next Coca-Cola” and touted for many things like the next cure for cancer, he said. And, Santa Barbara is the perfect place for the entire cannabis industry, he said. 

Another speaker, Chelsea Sutula from the Sespe Creek Collective cannabis dispensary in Ojai, discussed the variety of cannabis products on the market today. She also talked about using the proper dosage when taking cannabis. 

And, Sutula said, there is a push to use more plant-based packaging for cannabis products so that less plastic and other non-biodegradable material goes into landfills. 

Some of the co-sponsors of the event included Santa Barbara-based Botanical Veterinary Products, which sells cannabis products for animals online, and BudBuddy, the Cannabis Nexus, which seeks to the “the Amazon” of the paraphernalia and CBD industry. 

Amy Steinfeld, attorney at Brownstein Farber Hyatt and Schreck, closed the gathering with a head-ups to industry members and proponents. She said a “very loud” group on anti-cannabis advocates is trying to take down the budding industry. 

She said proponents should stand their ground.

Posted April 18, 2009.

Carl’s Jr. Tests ‘Rocky Mountain High’ Cheese Burger

The formerly Carpinteria-based parent company of Carl’s Jr. announced April 18 that it will sell hamburgers in Denver on April 20 with CBD in the sauce.  

CKE, which include the Carl’s Jr. And Hardee’s brands, moved its headquarters from the South Coast to Tennessee several years ago. 

A company spokesperson told CNN Business the “Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight” is not a stunt, but a test of demand that is limited to one Carl’s Jr. in Denver on one day, for now. 

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have 3,800 locations in 44 states. Hardee’s operates mostly west of the Mississippi River. The burger chain is trying to attract younger customers with meatless burgers and other new products such as the CBD burger, CNN Business reported. 

CBD has little if any of the active ingredient in found marijuana, THC. CBD comes from hemp, which is largely grown in this country in Kentucky where tobacco was once cultivated. 

It is legal to grow marijuana in California, but not hemp. 

As in California, recreational marijuana as well as CBD are legal in Colorado. However, cannabis products are still outlawed by the federal government and other states such as Texas where CBD oil can be confiscated by police.

Posted April 18, 2009.

Lawsuit Aims to Nip Pot Deliveries in the Bud

No cities in Santa Barbara or Ventura counties are among the more than two dozen municipalities that have sued California cannabis regulators to prevent deliveries to towns that don’t want now-legal pot drop-offs.

After Californians approved a referendum in 2016 that made recreational marijuana sales legal, some retailers began plans to deliver in such towns as Santa Maria and Ventura, which have banned pot. 

The lawsuit was filed last week in Fresno County Superior Court by Santa Cruz County, the cities of Agoura Hills, Angels Camp, Arcadia, Atwater,
Beverly Hills, Ceres, Clovis, Covina, Dixon, Downey, McFarland, Newman, Oakdale, Palmdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Riverside, San Pablo, Sonora, Tehachapi, Temecula, Tracy, Turlock and Vacaville.

The suit pits the power of the state vs. local control. However, some civic leaders even in Santa Barbara have said local governments should follow “the will of the people” who voted for Prop. 64 to legalize pot sales. 

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control wrote the delivery rule, which went into effect in January. All cannabis deliveries must be done by employees of a licensed retailer and there are 311 state licenses to deliver marijuana. 

Police oppose the pot deliveries along with the California League of Cities. 

Cannabis supporters said deliveries are vital because the elderly and sick will have to find a way to travel to dispensaries that are not close to their homes.

Posted April 9, 2019.

Kop Sun LLC to Screen ‘Reefer Madness’ on 4/20

Carpinteria-based KopSun LLC will host a screening of the propaganda movie “Reefer Madness,” coupled with a short study of the film at 7 p.m. April 20, at The Alcazar Theatre, 4916 Carpinteria Ave.  

“Reefer Madness” was produced by the U.S. government in 1936 as a cautionary tale of the evils of marijuana and its inevitable addiction. It mixes scare tactics, lurid details and melodrama to tell the story of three drug dealers, who introduce marijuana to high schoolers.

Wild parties, jazz music and life-shattering events unfold.  
 
The one-hour, eight-minute film is not rated. Louis Gasnier directed it, and actors include Dorothy Short, Kenneth Craig and Lillian Miles. 

“Cannabis is a very misunderstood plant,” said Tina Fanucchi-Frontado, CEO of KopSun LLC, a cannabis health and wellness company. “We thought it would be interesting to look at a source of the misrepresentation.” 

She said the event should appeal to film buffs as well as the general public. 

Tickets are $15 and available at www.thealcazar.org. For questions, email info@kopsun.com.   

To view the film’s trailer, click here.  

No cannabis products will be sold at the event. Carpinteria is a smoke free city, and the Alcazar Theatre strongly enforces this ordinance.  

 KopSun supports the cannabis lifestyle with education, a curated product line and the KopSun Seal of Approval, its principals said.  For more information, visit www.KopSun.com, email info@KopSun.com, or call (805) 881-1218. 

Posted April 2, 2019

Report: CVS Plans to Add More CBD Products

The online publication Leafly posted several interesting reports this week regarding the CVS drug store chain and trends that show marijuana legalization is growing among the U.S. public – especially among Republicans – while Congress is awash with bills calling for some kind of end to pot prohibition. 

In California and seven other states, CVS already sells CBD products in the face of federal prohibition. However, CVS plans to add CBD products from Curaleaf soon, according to Leafly.  

CVS has five Santa Barbara-area stores. Curaleaf sells its products in licensed dispensaries in 11 states. 

By contrast, police recently raided two north Texas GM Tobacco stores and confiscated $50,000 in CBD products, but no arrests were made, Leafly reported. 

Leafly posted an Associated Press story based on a General Social Survey that found 54 percent of the nation’s Republicans favor pot legalization in some form, an increase from 45 percent three years ago, while 76 percent of Democrats have a similar view.  

Meanwhile, Congress is looking at six bills aimed at having the federal government stop the prohibition of cannabis products nationwide. 

To date, it appears only one of those bills has a hearing, but experts say this Congress is the most likely to move toward ending pot prohibition, even though many similar measures have been proposed in years past. 

To see the most recent Leafly posts, see newsletter@leafly.com

Posted March 25, 2019

Planning Panel Seeks Public Comment on Cannabis Law at April 3 Hearing

A 9 a.m. April 3 public comment session on proposed changes in the county cannabis ordinance will be held before the Planning Commission on the first floor of the Engineering Building, 123 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara. 

Proposed changes include banning commercial cannabis growing on small parcels of land zoned for farming in inland areas. 

After public comments are heard, county supervisors want the planning commissioners’ thoughts on possible ordinance amendments before deciding what to do about complaints from residents and other agricultural industry members who say the smell of cannabis ruins their lifestyle or business.

On Jan. 29, county supervisors heard from many Carpinteria residents and North County wine grape growers who said the smell of cannabis is ruining their neighborhoods and enterprises.

County officials might expand requirements for letting residents know when permit applications are filed by cannabis growers in neighborhoods in rural areas and near the coast. 

Planning staff will draft an ordinance for commissioners to consider at a later hearing. 

A week before the April 3 hearing, a staff report will be available on the Planning Commission website: http://sbcountyplanning.org/boards/pc/cpc.cf

Report: Temporary Licenses Might Soon Expire

The North Bay Business Journal this week reported that thousands of temporary California cannabis business licenses might expire before provisional annual licenses or extensions can be issued. 

“Ultimately, this will have a domino effect on the supply chain,” Josh Drayton of the California Cannabis Industry Association told the business journal. 

The journal also posted a photo of cannabis growing at Glass House Farms in Carpinteria. See https://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/northbay/sonomacounty/9367393-181/california-cannabis-business-regulation-supply?artslide=0 

Some 9,000 applications in December surprised regulators, such as those at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which issues permits to cannabis growers, the journal reported. 

“Towards mid to late 2018 there was a real rush of folks filling out their temporary applications and to get those in before January first of 2019,” which was the deadline to apply for temporary licenses, Drayton told the journal. 

It was reported that of the almost 5,000 cannabis licenses issued by the state, 1,806 of them could expire this month or next. 

However, the journal said lawmakers are rushing a bill to the governor that might solve the problem. 

Medical Cannabis Confab & Expo Set for May 11

The Santa Barbara Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo, “Science, Healing and Hope” is planned for 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 11 at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, 112 W. Cabrillo Blvd. 

Early bird registration ends March 27. Register online at https://www.sbindytickets.com/events/92249152/santa-barbara-medical-cannabis-conference-expo 

Keynote speakers include Uwe Blesching on “Breaking the Cycle of Opioid Addiction: Supplement Your Pain Management with Cannabis” and Dr. Joe Goldstrich on “How to Treat Cancer with Cannabis.”

Thie conference is for adults 18 and older. It includes sessions from expert speakers, question-and-answer sessions, a documentary presentation, book signings, exhibitors offering non-THC giveaways, music and food vendors.  

Organizers said the primary theme is the life-saving benefits of including cannabinoids and derivatives to heal many debilitating ailments. Case-studies will be presented on how to adopt a cannabis health care plan to help prevent and reverse chronic diseases including cancer, autoimmune diseases, debilitating pain, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, insomnia, inflammation, depression, anxiety and trauma. 

The day will feature seven workshops and a multimedia documentary presentation that will cover a range of topics including: 

• evidenced-based science of medical cannabis vs. pharmaceuticals; 
• CBD and medical cannabis types, derivatives and dosages for specific ailments; 
• growing organic medical cannabis and delivery methods;  
• and, how medical cannabis and CBD is used in treating cancer, chronic illness, debilitating pain, MS, Alzheimer’s, insomnia, inflammation, depression, anxiety and trauma. 

Workshops include: 

  • “Medical Cannabis and Your Health: From Improving Your Day to Saving Your Life,” by Stacy Shymansky; 
  • “Cannabis 101: The Plant, Your Body & How It All Works” by Liz Rogan; 
  • “How to Grow and Prepare Your Own Organic Medicinal Cannabis” by Seth Matrisciano; 
  • “Cannabis Kitchen: How to Make Your Own Delicious Infused Edibles” by Matthew Vieth; 
  • “Your Roadmap to Transition from Pharma to Cannabis Healing” by Registered Nurse Karen Mankins; 
  • “CBD: What Every Consumer Needs to Know for Maximum Therapeutic Benefit” by Robbin Lynn; 
  • “Medical Cannabis: Healing Mind, Body and Spirit” by Michael Scott; 
  • and, “How to Successfully Navigate Your Medical Cannabis Buying Experience” by Harry Rose. 

For more information, see https://cmcsb.org/

AP Pot Team Reports Prez Hopefuls Lean Toward Legalization

One of the oldest and most trusted news organizations has a “marijuana beat team.” 

The Associated Press has reporters not just covering the arrests and pot confiscations nationwide, but also reporting on the blooming legal industry in more and more states. Team member Michael R. Blood’s most recent report, with two other AP reporters, discussed the growing number of Democratic presidential candidates who support pot legalization. 

For example, the AP reported, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, a former criminal prosecutor, said legalization is a “smart” thing to do.  

In a radio interview, Harris said she smoked pot in college. She was a supporter of medical marijuana, but in 2010, when she was elected state attorney general, she opposed an initiative to legalize pot. 

Declared presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., says the war on drugs was a “war on people.” He has introduced a federal pot legalization bill. 

Presidential candidates in the Senate who have co-sponsored Booker’s bill include Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Harris. 

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., backs legalization and wants states to decide how to deal with marijuana. She hasn’t backed Booker’s bill. 

When Democrat Jay Inslee, governor of Washington state, entered the presidential race he said it’s “about time” to legalize pot. 

Former punk rocker congressman and presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke in Texas is in favor of national pot legalization.

Former President Barack Obama once said about smoking pot, “When I was a kid, I inhaled. Frequently. That was the point.” Contrast that with former President Bill Clinton who said he smoked it, but didn’t inhale. (It appears he still hasn’t exhaled.) 

On the fence is former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who was in office when his state legalized recreational pot use, even though he opposed it in 2012. 

While he said he accepted the voters’ will, Hickenlooper considers the system better than when the drug was illegal. He wants pot to no longer be a federal Schedule 1 controlled substance so it can be studied. 

For more from the AP marijuana team, see https://apnews.com/Marijuana 

Colleges Try to Keep Up With Demand for Pot-Trained Graduates

It used to that many college students spent a great deal of time studying cannabis, even though it was not on any curriculum. 

Times have changed. Since marijuana is legal for medical purposes in 33 states in this country and as a recreational drug in 10 others, a growing number of public and private educational institutions, are offering its study in some of their courses of study. 

According to a CBS Philly TV report in Philadelphia, with a contribution from the Associated Press, almost a dozen U.S. institutions are either offering majors, minors or some type of course related to the cannabis industry, even though marijuana still is federally illegal. However, last year’s federal farm bill widespread most legal hemp growing. 

While it’s difficult to estimate exactly how much revenue can be generated in a state from cannabis product sales, since much production still is done illegally, experts say about half a million good-paying jobs will need to be filled in the next few years in that industry. 

Many graduates will be trained to work as analysts in the growing number of labs needed to test cannabis. 

The UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative bills itself as one of the first academic programs in the world dedicated to the study of cannabis, according to its website. It has studied cannabis health risks as well as therapeutic values. 

The broadcast report from CBS Philly noted that a new four-year degree program is under way in medicinal plant chemistry at Northern Michigan University.  

The report also said, “Colorado State University offers a cannabis studies minor focusing on social, legal, political and health impacts. Ohio State University, Harvard, the University of Denver and Vanderbilt offer classes on marijuana policy and law.” 

CBS Philly said, “Stockton University in New Jersey began an interdisciplinary cannabis minor last fall and now has an academic partnership with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia that gives students the opportunity for internships and research work in medical marijuana and hemp.” 

The University of Connecticut is starting a cannabis horticulture program soon, and a similar program is being launched at Minot State University in North Dakota. 

This interesting because marijuana still is illegal in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, where schools appear to be ready to offer classes on pot when it is legalized in those three states.

Free ‘Leaf Learning’ Offered Feb. 27 in Carpinteria

Carpinteria-based Kop Sun LLC will present the company’s free monthly “Leaf Learning” session from 5 to 6 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Carpinteria Woman’s Club, 1059 Vallecito Road. 

The session will include a panel of industry experts such as Dr. Margaret Peterson, Dr. Connie McLaughlin-Miley , Liz Rogan and Autumn Shelton. 

The 60-minute presentation is a guide to the health and well-being applications of cannabis, Kop sun officials said. It will teach how and why cannabis works, the conditions and illnesses it helps remedy, along with dosing and legalities.  

Also to be discussed will be the difference between hemp and marijuana, the endocannabinoid system, how CBD and THC differ, dosing options and methods. 

To register, see https://www.eventbrite.com/e/leaf-learning-tickets-55940217697?aff=eivtefrnd#tickets 

Kop Sun founder Tina Fanucchi-Frontado is one of the women at the forefront of the cannabis movement in California. She is described as an unyielding proponent of cannabis. 

Fanucchi-Frontado lost her brother to AIDS in 1994, her mother to cancer in 2006 and her father in 2016. She was a lead caregiver in all three cases. 

When her father’s sleep and anti-anxiety medications were making him miserable, she started dosing him with medical marijuana edibles. She said relief came without all the sickening side effects of the pharmaceuticals. 

For more information, see www.KopSun.com, or email info@KopSun.com, or call (805) 881-1218. 

Supervisors Blasted by Anti-Cannabis Wine Grape Growers, Carpinterians

The first round in the “Weed vs. Wine” battle Jan. 29 ended without smelling like a rose before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

After hearing nasty public remarks all afternoon, the board basically told county staff to come back with more information, which could take months. 

However, the bruhahha did not just pit grapes and pot against each other. Many cannabis opponents who voiced their opinions were elderly residents of the Carpinteria Valley where they say pot growing has really raised a stink. Some Carpinteria residents worn clothes pins to protest the odor, which has been a sore point for months. 

Cannabis backers tried in vain to convince their foes that their product in it various forms has many medical and theraputic benefits, which California voters made legal for recreational use several years ago. 

But opponents said the odor gave them asthma, headaches and emotional stress. 

Carpinteria-area residents were joined by wine grape growers in telling the supervisors that cannabis odors are “toxic,” harmful to children and would ruin the wine-tasting experience. 

Pro-cannabis attendees at the meeting said they hoped something can be worked out so that growers can co-exist and odors can be contained. 

“How dare you,” one woman scolded the supervisors for allowing cannabis to be grown in Santa Barbara County while Ventura and other municipalities have banned it. 

She claimed only cannabis growers profit from the sale of their product, even though it raises needed tax revenue. She also claimed cannabis growers put money into the supervisors’ election campaign coffers.

A man who said he wants to build a multi-million-dollar winery in Santa Ynez said he is waiting for the county to amend its land-use policy on cannabis. 

“You will kill business if you can smell cannabis,” he said loudly. 

Public comments grew testy as five sheriff’s  deputies showed up in or near the hearing room where usually only one stands guard. 

At one point, a contractor told the supervisors how cannabis growing was bad for business around Carpinteria. Supervisor Das Williams, snapped, “You stole water from the Carpinteria Valley.” 

The contractor snapped back, “You’re a sell-out.” 

Before leaving the four-hour hearing early, Supervisor Peter Adam said he’s no fan of pot, but he respects the will of state voters who approved the marijuana referendum. 

Adam also said, “Anyone who thinks we’re going to get through all this today is delusional. No new hearing date has been set.

Wine vs. Weed’ Battle Brewing in Santa Ynez Valley

A “wine vs. weed” battle of sorts seems to be shaping up in the Santa Ynez Valley, a Santa Barbara attorney told about 100 cannabis business people Jan. 24 at the downtown Impact Hub. 

Brownstein Farber Hyatt Schreck attorney Amy Steinfeld said while many wine grape growers in the valley oppose the use of prime farmland for growing cannabis, she said she thinks “they will find synergy” in the coming year. 

Steinfeld was speaking to the Quarterly Cannabis Workshop and Networking Event. She also pointed out that Santa Barbara County has more cannabis licenses that another municipality in California, where recreational use of marijuana became legal in the state last year. 

But more than just pot growers attended the Thursday evening session. Others included: Drew Hunter who just started an online cannabis oil business this month: Paul Costello whose Mary Jane Services Network provides industry professional resources: Shuli Suman whose True Science Laboratories test marijuana; and Magda Arroyo from Brown & Brown Insurance. 

Steinfeld said those in the industry face a “patchwork of regulations” as well as different municipal reactions. For example, she said Carpinteria-area residents are reacting based on fear while Lompoc is embracing cannabis wholeheartedly. 

Valley grape growers and pot growers face a showdown Jan. 29 in front of the county Board of Supervisors over use of “hoop houses” used to grow cannabis and other crops. Vineyard owners say the hoops are unsightly and are bad for farmland. 

Meanwhile to the south, Ventura has completely banned cannabis production. She said it appears Ventura is waiting see what is happened in neighboring Santa Barbara where she sees the cannabis industry as a boon to future tourism growth. Santa Maia also banned commercial pot growing in 2015. 

Another Brownstein attorney, Dan Ackerman, discussed the need for cannabis businesses to register and protect their trade names since hundreds of cannabis applications have been filed in California. 

One of the key organizers of the Thursday event, SBVerde,  said more similar gatherings are planned this year to bring together the fastest-growing industry in the state. Organizers said the Central Coast is a perfect area for this since it’s great for growing most anything and it’s situated between the huge Los Angeles and Bay area markets. 

SBVerde is developing a printed business directory that will be distributed at more than 148 locations, primarily in hotels and car rental businesses, and include recreational dispensaries on the Central Coast and local brands. For more information, seehttps://www.sbverde.com/ 

Cannabis Sales, Taxes Not Meeting Expectations in California

Licensing for Cultivation
California launched legal recreational marijuana sales and began licensing all other industry businesses including cultivation for the first time on Jan. 1, 2018.

Permits for licensed cannabis cultivation have been issued throughout California over the last 11 months. To date, 5,871 outdoor and indoor permits have been issued and as of Dec. 1, 2018, 3,432 are currently active.

It is the large scale cultivation operations that have emerged in California this year, acquiring dozens of licenses for smaller growing sites which they can combine into a single cultivation area. While there have been nearly 6,000 permits issued to grow cannabis, the total number of unique growers is only 1,830.

Each small cultivation license enables a growing space of up to 10,000 square feet. But a grower can obtain an unlimited number of these licenses.

This is especially true in Santa Barbara County, where more licenses have been issued than anywhere else in California, and the ratio of licenses to unique growers is 10.8 to 1.

Legal Participation in Cannabis Cultivation is Seriously Low
A recent study estimated the number of total growers in California at 68,150 in 2017.1 Consequently, if 1,830 unique growers have applied for and received cultivation licenses in 2018, this represents a statewide grower participation rate into the legal regulated market of just 2.7 percent.

In other words, the black market where most of the growers remain is seriously thriving despite the ability to become legal.

Tax Revenues in 2018
In January of this year, Gov. Brown predicted annual tax revenues going to California at $643 million for the first year of legal cannabis production and retail sales. Taxes on cannabis pertain to both growing and retail sales of marijuana and derivative products.

However, during the first three quarters of 2018, total tax revenue collection has fallen short of expectations. At the current rate of tax receipts realized through September, it’s likely that just over half of the governor’s tax revenue goal for calendar 2018 will be realized.

Why? The lack of grower participation to date is the biggest reason, along with a scarcity of recreational use cannabis shops in California. So far, there are 416 storefronts that have been licensed to sell cannabis and derivative products for recreational use in California. Thirty five percent of these are located in the greater Los Angeles metro area. The Coachella Valley is number 2 with 32 stores in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Desert Hot Springs. San Francisco is third but with much fewer outlets.

Along Interstate 5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, adult-use shops are nearly nonexistent. There are no stores in Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Placer or Nevada Counties. And there are only a few shops operating along the Central Coast of California.

In general, there are not enough establishments that are now open to conveniently serve the state’s population and generate tax revenues for the state. Why? Local prohibitions on adult use marijuana stores are a principal reason. You can only buy legal cannabis products in legally sanctioned retail outlets if they are permitted in your city or county. Even though Proposition 64 was approved in 2016 by about 57 percent of the state’s electorate, most cities in California still refuse to permit marijuana businesses. About 84 percent of cities in the state have banned adult-use retailers, whether storefront or deliveries. Right now, only 77 cities in California allow recreational sales of cannabis.

Prices
And then there is the price. Regulation and taxation is having a large impact on consumer prices. Though the wholesale price for leaf and flowers has fallen precipitously in the last year, prices for retail cannabis products in stores have not.

New packaging and testing regulations went into effect on July 1, 2018 and this has created confusion for regulated store owners, reduced product and increased prices.

And according to industry sources, the unlicensed (or black) market sells cannabis products for lower prices. In August, a marketing survey found that one in five Californians bought marijuana from black market sources and were “highly likely” to purchase again due to cheaper priced products, greater selection, and no tax.2

According to PriceOfWeed.com, this week’s average price per ounce for high quality marijuana is $256.63. For medium quality, the price drops to $207.13.3

The State of California has the second highest tax rate on cannabis growing and sales in the country, behind the State of Washington. Together with city and county taxes, the gross tax rate of cannabis products can go as high as 45 percent in California.

There was a proposal in the state legislature, Assembly Bill 3157, that would have lowered the state’s excise tax imposed on purchasers of cannabis from 15 percent to 11 percent for about three years. It also would have suspended the cultivation tax until June 1, 2021. But it did not have the support of Democrats and unions.

Last Word
The first year for the industry has been bumpy as the regulatory issues become institutionalized and applied. Combined tax rates on cultivated product and on retail sales are comparatively high and compliance standards onerous. For this reason, most California growers remain in the unregulated market.

More regulations on packaging, product uniformity and testing and fewer retail storefronts throughout California (due to local city and county bans) are pushing final product prices to the upside. Consumers are still seeking out less costly products and the black market is still thriving.

California cannabis industry conditions are evolving and it’s likely that the environment for growers and retail sellers will improve, together with tax revenue collections for the state and for municipalities. But currently, the regulated market is struggling with grower licensing, retail product shortages due to testing delays and distribution issues, and higher product prices (than the black market). So as the first year of legal cannabis growing and sales sunsets on California, the industry is still in a state of flux.

__________

1 California Growers Association, “An Emerging Crisis: Barriers to Entry in California Cannabis,” February 19, 2018, page 6.

2 Investor’s Business Daily, https://www.investors.com/news/marijuana-stocks-california-cannabis-tax-revenue-q2/

Also see https://mjbizdaily.com/higher-prices-and-barer-shelves-california-cannabis-retailers-face-frustrated-customers/

3 For a sample size of 21,179 transactions. See the home page of http://www.priceofweed.com

Reprinted by permission

Mark Schniepp is head of the Goleta-based California Economic Forecast, an economic consulting firm that produces commentary and analysis on the U.S. and California economies. The firm specializes in economic forecasts and economic impact studies, and is available to make timely, compelling, informative and entertaining economic presentations to large or small groups.

Posted Dec. 10, 2018