Newsletter #009 "The Politics of Pot"
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World’s First Marijuana-Funded College Scholarship Is Here

by Brad Tuttle from TIME

Talk about higher education

In this week’s election in Pueblo County, Colo., voters were asked to weigh in on a number of proposals. With the exception of two issues, according to the Pueblo Chieftain, “all of them have something to do with marijuana.”

On one question, voters approved a 5% excise tax on marijuana growers, which is expected to raise $3.5 million annually by 2020. Half of that money will pay for scholarships for local students who attend either of the county’s two public colleges. In other words, proceeds from marijuana sales will be used to fund college scholarships. That’s never happened before, and it’s a concept that probably would have been laughed off as a total joke just a few years ago.

“This is the first time you have marijuana tax money being used directly for scholarships, and that’s pretty remarkable,” the Denver Post summed up.

County planners say that perhaps 400 students will be awarded $1,000 each year thanks to pot-tax scholarships, but the exact payout and number of recipients will vary based on the number of applications.

Best college education image
It’s worth noting that while this is the first pot money to be used for scholarships, it’s hardly the only way marijuana taxes are supporting education. One of the arguments to make recreational marijuana legal in the first place is that sales would be heavily taxed—and the taxes would help fund children’s educations. For instance, during the first five months of 2015, Colorado took in $13.6 million in pot taxes that are directly earmarked for school construction projects, and analysts predict $30 million to $40 million by year’s end.

Slack Channel: #co-legalization


Cannabis is Coming to Salinas

by Natalie Jacewicz from The Californian

Andy Easton does not strike one as an alarmist. He has a benign smile that he powders liberally on coffee shop employees like patrons sprinkling sugar.

Other than NPR, which Easton calls "the most pompous, arrogant station," little seems to ruffle the feathers of a man who's been in the orchid business for 30 years. But his business, New Horizon Orchids, recently lost greenhouse space he's used for years. Easton points to marijuana to explain the greenhouse's quick turnover.

Now he wonders how legalizing the plant's cultivation in Salinas may alter agriculture.

"My crystal ball is real cloudy," he said.

The future grew a little less murky in the Salinas City Council workshop on Nov. 9. A council subcommittee ended the 8-year-old moratorium on cannabis and approved a pilot program allowing three dispensaries for medical marijuana in Salinas as well as limited indoor cultivation.

City Attorney Chris Callihan will lead the effort to design potential models for the plant's introduction. How the marijuana will be grown during the pilot and afterwards presents environmental tradeoffs.

Chris Carrigan, director of the State Water Resources Control Board Office of Enforcement, issued a report last year that "marijuana cultivation operations on private and public lands cause enormous harm."

In absence of regulations and targeted enforcement, some marijuana growers illegally divert water toward their farms, depriving wildlife and the public, according to the report. Pesticides used on the plants, and even waste from makeshift toilets, flow into nearby water. The report features photos of illegally cleared land and eroded forest floors.

Aaron Johnson argues that marijuana growing need not look this way. Johnson, of L+G, LLP Attorneys at Law, represents marijuana growers interested in growing in Salinas. He advocated for indoor growing in regulated warehouses to introduce marijuana cultivation.

In addition to avoiding the hazards listed in Carrigan's report, regulated indoor growing tackles another common marijuana issue — the smell.

Indoor growing allows "air scrubbing," or purifying the air through a series of filters. Carbon filters, whose molecular shape allow bountiful surface area for other chemicals to bind, absorb odorous particles from the air. Once molecules have parked in all of the carbon's receptive sites, the filter is replaced.

"You could stand outside and not realize they're growing cannabis inside," said Johnson.

But indoor growing has its downsides, according to Sam Rashkin, an economic development consultant in Monterey County, namely its "very high carbon footprint." Marijuana requires a lot of light, and in indoor settings, that glow comes artificially. Growers may leave lights on for 12-24 hours per day. Evan Mills, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, pegged annual energy expenditures for indoor marijuana growth at 6 billion dollars in 2011.

Johnson claimed that indoor growing can become more efficient, but that the market will likely eventually dictate large scale growing in greenhouses, which provide natural light during the day.

And Salinas has no shortage of greenhouses — traditionally, at least.

When Easton's greenhouse owner began plans to sell before retirement, Easton said he expected the greenhouse would take a couple of years to sell. Not so.

"In one month, there were six people interested," Easton said.

Laws prohibited growing marijuana commercially in Salinas, so none of the prospective buyers identified themselves as marijuana growers, but Easton said he could easily tell that most of the purchasers wanted to grow the plant. He said instead of the typical suit and tie ensemble, these buyers wore T-shirts, claimed to grow essential oils, and offered to buy the greenhouse in cash.

Early movers were buying up greenhouses in a gamble on future legalization, according to Easton. He said that buying and retrofitting a greenhouse is far easier than meeting the regulations to build one from scratch, a process that can take at least two years.

"I consider these the smart people," he said.

Salinas already boasts Floricultura Pacific, the most technologically innovative greenhouse in the country by the estimates of its general manager, Don Howell.

"You could say we're the fanciest greenhouse in the U.S.," he said, as greenhouse computers scanned and sorted orchids cultured from tissue in a lab.

Marijuana growers may want to emulate such a technologically savvy model. Companies like California-based Forever Flowering Greenhouses already offer blackout tarps and ventilation systems that can help marijuana growers control light exposure and humidity in greenhouses.

But even in places where growing marijuana in greenhouses has been legal for a long time, not all greenhouse owners want to sell. Tom Perlite owns four greenhouses in San Francisco and seven in San Mateo County. When a prospective marijuana grower approached Perlite to rent space in his San Francisco greenhouses, Perlite turned him down. He was not eager to engage in the increased lighting and security required to grow marijuana.

"I'm wondering what they're going to do with the marijuana growers," he said of Salinas. "The way it is now, there's no regulation."

John Phillips, the supervisor of District 2 in Monterey County, seconds the need for regulation. He said the area should develop its own laws before the state does, but that the region has traditionally moved slowly relative to neighboring areas.

"Until our moratorium was passed, Monterey County was one of the few counties in the state without an ordinance either regulating or prohibiting marijuana cultivation and processing," Phillips said.

Salinas councilmember Jyl Lutes said that for now, the pilot will include indoor warehouses and greenhouses.

With regulation, citizens predicted Salinas holds great potential for marijuana growing.

"We're in the farming mecca of the world," one man said at the subcommittee workshop. "We have everything to make the finest cannabis in the world."

Contact the author at

Slack Channel: #ca-salinas


Where to buy medical marijuana? How will it be taxed?

by Erin E.A. Ross from The Californian

By far the most controversial part of Salinas City Council’s preliminary subcommittee meeting on medical marijuana on Monday came when taxation was discussed. Aaron Johnson of the Coastal Growers’ Association proposed an initial tax of 5 percent; council member Jyl Lutes then suggested a tax of 12-15 percent.

As Lutes made her suggestions, a few voices interrupted with cries of “Based on what?” and “Says who?”

Lutes stands by her suggestion of 12-15 percent, she later told The Californian.

“We’re looking at a wide range of taxation – I’ve seen it up to 25 percent.” She laughed, acknowledging that number could be considered high. “I think we’re going to look at a rate of between 12-15 percent.”

In response to Johnson’s suggestion of 5 percent, Lutes said, “Five percent isn’t going to cover the costs. We’re going to need more police presence, and other expenses. If we’re having this in town, we may as well get the benefit, too. The city needs every source of revenue it can get.”

Johnson is concerned that high taxes could hurt the fledgling cannabis businesses.

“I would like cannabis businesses to have the opportunity to succeed,” Johnson said, citing the high costs of security and improvements in the first few years. “All sales will be reported, so why not get an analysis of how the business is succeeding before taxing to the point that the business can’t get off the ground?”

Lutes is steadfast against the lower tax.

“It’s one of the only reasons I would support this. It’s got to be a benefit to the residents of Salinas.”

Taxation can be an appealing source of revenue for counties and cities. In 2014, bankrupt San Bernadino considered taxing dispensaries as a way to meet its budget gap.

The same year, Santa Cruz County voters passed Measure K, which implemented a tax of no more than 10 percent on medical cannabis dispensaries. The proceeds, which the city estimates will total $900,000 annually, will be deposited in the County General Fund.

Although taxing medicinal cannabis may be an effective means of raising money, Michael Boyd thinks it might not be legal. Boyd is suing the city of Santa Cruz, claiming that a tax on medicinal cannabis businesses violates his constitutional rights.

“Medical marijuana is for medicinal purposes,” said Boyd. “Medicine, like food, is not subject to taxation.”

Boyd alleges that by taxing marijuana dispensaries, the city is blocking his access to medicine. Although the tax is not a sales tax, Boyd said he believes the dispensaries pass along the increased cost to customers.

Boyd’s suit, initially filed in 2014, has been remanded to federal courts.

Location, location, location

Although Johnson and Lutes disagree on taxation, there is one thing they do agree on: Wherever cannabis is grown, it won’t be near where people live.

“Cannabis cultivators want to be good neighbors,” Johnson told The Californian two weeks ago.

In nearby Gonzales, a cannabis cultivation company is applying for a permit to grow in the agricultural park on the outskirts of town. Although the agricultural park is surrounded by fields on three sides, a residential neighborhood is a few blocks away.

One Gonzales resident voiced concerns about the operation. Roman Barba, who lives nearby, said she believes the farm would smell and lead to an increase in crime.

Johnson, it so happens, lives in the same neighborhood. He says the farm “couldn’t ask for a better location in terms of minimizing conflict.”

The farm, he says, is far away from the neighborhood and no one should be able to smell it. Johnson also dismissed concerns that the farm in Gonzales will increase area crime.

“I believe that’s an unsubstantiated fear.”

Cannabis cultivators hire security, said Johnson, who added he believes crime often goes down because of the security in the area.

In Salinas, both Lutes and Johnson hope to locate growing operations in the industrial warehouse districts of the city. But wherever they allow cultivation, someone will be unhappy with it.

“Every area’s going to be problematic,” Lutes acknowledged. “So we’re approaching this very carefully, we want to work with everyone. We’re going to be very, very careful about this.”

Slack Channel: #ca-salinas


The Santa Cruz Mountains for Sustainable Cannabis Medicine (SCM2) along with the San Lorenzo Valley News Network (SLVNews) will host a public forum in Ben Lomond on the evening of Wednesday, November 18th.

Eric Hammer and Kim Sammet two of the 13 appointees to the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee(C4) will address the committee’s progress and solicit input..

Other prominent local experts and advocates will be present as well..

The purpose of the event is threefold:

* Share with the community an update on the current status of Federal, State and especially County policies and rules governing the use, cultivation and processing of cannabis.  

* Gather input from the public on specific concerns regarding cultivation in their neighborhoods, access to medicine, and best practices to protect the environment

* Increase awareness and involvement among cannabis consumers and producers to promote and advocate for responsible, compassionate practices

The tentative agenda looks like this:

1. Report on the Status of the C4

2. Neighborhood Concerns

3. New State Law

4. Next Steps (Local, State)

We would appreciate your participation and assistance to help make this event as useful and productive as possible.  We welcome appropriate individuals and organizations to set up tables or displays and be in attendance and we need partners, underwriters and promotional sponsorships. Please contact me (Jim Coffis) by email text or phone (831-345-9643) to discuss how you can help.    

We will be finalizing the agenda in the coming weeks and welcome your suggestions.

Thanks for your consideration.

Slack Channel: #team-events



Welcome to The Emerald Cup!

Thank you for your interest in competing in the 12th annual Emerald Cup!

This event was started as a friendly competition to highlight the hard work of outdoor, organic cannabis farmers. It has always been and will always be about celebrating the passion of California's best cultivators, breeders, and makers of concentrates, edibles, and topicals.

As many of you know, The Emerald Cup has grown exponentially – since 2004! – in large part due to the increasing number of sun-grown, organic entries we have received each year. We’re always humbled to see the outpouring of interest from across the state of California to compete in The Emerald Cup: last year, 900 entries were submitted!

The Emerald Cup gets bigger and, we hope, provides better service to our community each year, and we’re excited about a number of changes for 2015. These include a much larger 215 area, new competition categories for solventless concentrates (icewater hash, rosin, and dry sieve), new competition categories for CBD flower entries (split by CBD:THC ratio) and terpene testing and awards. Another change from past years: we are now requiring a $250 fee (for your VIP Weekend ticket) to accompany each entry (i.e. donation to Healing Harvest Farms).

We know this is a big shift from the past 11 years, and we want to be fully transparent with you, our contestants, and explain exactly why we made this change. We want to assure you up front that our intention is not to profit from these fees, but simply to cover the costs associated with running a huge competition, including lab testing for all entries.

Every entry will receive a full spectrum of tests (microbiological, pesticide, residual solvent, and cannabinoids/terpenes, as applicable) from SC Labs. The microbiological, pesticide, and residual solvent testing is, to us, a minimum requirement to protect health and safety, and we’re including the terpene testing to recognize the critical role they play in how we interact with cannabis (The Emerald Cup will give its first award for Best Terpenes this year).

For the safety of our judges, lab tests will be completed before any medicine is actually judged – and any entry that fails microbiological, pesticide, or residual solvent testing will be disqualified prior to judging. In the past, many entries have been dropped off at the last minute, which puts a lot of pressure on SC Labs, drop-off locations, drivers, judges, and other staff to ensure a quick turnaround and confirm that everything is done as safely as possible. We’re doing the best we can to avoid that crush, but with drop-off locations across the state, the competition remains an exciting challenge to bring to fruition.

We want to host The Emerald Cup for years to come, and we will always strive to operate this competition and the entire event with the highest level of integrity. We know that many of you will have opinions about the changes we are making this year, and we want to hear from you to learn how we might further improve things in the future. Please send comments to and know that we will consider your input as we craft next year’s event. We truly appreciate your continuing interest and participation in The Emerald Cup, and we value your patience as all of us navigate the realities of coming together for the world’s largest and longest-running, outdoor, organic, medical cannabis competition. It’s going to be a great year!

See you in Santa Rosa in December!

Tim Blake

Slack Channel: #team-events



This contest is brought to you by Leafly, the world's cannabis information resource, and Smoke Cartel, an online retailer and head shop made up of a close-knit team of glass lovers dedicated to making sure you get the best possible smoking gear.

Have you ever wished you could design your own glass piece? Here’s your chance! Leafly and Smoke Cartel are teaming up to give you the opportunity to create your own line of smokeable glassware. The winner will receive three prototypes of their design. Better yet, the winning design will be added to the Smoke Cartel online store and available for purchase by you and all your friends!

How to Enter
Create your own glass piece using the “Build Your Own Glass” tool to design and submit your entry. (We've included some tips and descriptions below the tool to help guide you.)

Contest Details
Design submissions close on Monday, November 23rd.
Leafly and Smoke Cartel will narrow the designs down to the top 10 finalists who will be announced Wednesday, November 25th.
Vote for your favorite design out of the top 10. Voting closes Sunday, December 1st.
The winning design will be announced Thursday, December 3rd.
One Grand Prize Winner will receive:

3 prototypes of your design
A $300 Smoke Cartel Gift Card
A Leafly Prize Pack w/strain shirt, sunglasses, stickers, and more
One 2nd Place Winner will receive:

A $200 Smoke Cartel Gift Card
A Leafly Prize Pack w/strain shirt, sunglasses, stickers, and more
One 3rd Place Winner will receive:

A $100 Smoke Cartel Gift Card
A Leafly Prize Pack w/strain shirt, sunglasses, stickers, and more

Slack Channel: #contests


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