Posts in los angeles cannabis law
Cannabis Legalization Linked to Substantial Drop in California Suicide Rates: Study
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Calvin Hughes 
May 31, 2019

Civilized.life

California's legalization of medical marijuana in 1996 was followed by a drastic reduction in the state's suicide rate, according to researchers at the University of California Irvine.

"In particular, for all suicides, our results demonstrate that California's 1996 intervention led to an average reduction of 398.9 suicides per year and a cumulative reduction of approximately 3,191 suicides during 1997–2004," reads the recently published study. "Similarly, legalization led to a reduction in gun suicides of 208 per year on average and a cumulative reduction of approximately 1,668 fewer gun suicides during 1997–2004."

Their data was sourced from state suicide records spanning the years between 1970 and 2004. While reduced suicide rates were seen across the board, the decrease in gun-related suicides appears to be the most related to medical marijuana legalization. Researchers said it was not certain why medical marijuana seems to have such an impact on gun-related suicides, but suggested it may have to do with marijuana as a means of fighting depression and anxiety.

"If marijuana alleviates the acute stress associated with these disorders, we expect suicide risk to decrease following legalization of medical marijuana," the authors wrote. "The evidence for this is mixed, however."

Some researchers argue that the study's key finding has less to do with cannabis itself and more to do with America's gun laws. According to the Gun Control Act of 1968, people who use cannabis or any other federally prohibited substance are banned from owning guns. That means California's drop in gun-related suicides could actually stem from the fact that medical marijuana patients have less access to firearms, say the study authors.

Protecting gun rights for medical marijuana patients has been fiercely debated as medical marijuana legalization has continued to spreads across the country. And while many have argued that patients should be able to access both medical marijuana and keep their Second Amendment right to own a firearm, the reduction of gun-related suicides may be one unintended benefit of the ban.

10 ProTips Before You Start Your Legal CannaBiz Venture
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Author: Joseph Chicas | Cannabis Expert | Cannabis Advising Partners

After several years consulting in the cannabis industry and now as the Executive Director of Cannabis Advising Partners, below are some gold nuggets, some ProTips, I offer for those of you looking to start your own CannaBiz venture.

1.   Start with Your Why– Yes, I know its sounds cliché, but this point cant be understated. Do some intense soul searching, mediate on your goals, speak with your close friends and family, and dig deep to arrive at your WHY. Getting into the cannabis industry is no joke. Its highly competitive and capital intensive. It will require you to dig deep to be successful in the long-term. Being clear about your reason to be in the industry and having that reason (AKA Your Why) be sincere and authentic, is a great foundation for early success. Find your why and use it as your daily motivation. 

2.    Realize that Fortune Favors the Bold After drilling down on your WHY, realize there are inherent risks in launching your venture. Constantly changing regulations, high tax rates, inflated costs of business (i.e. real estate price hikes) all make cannabis a risky investment.

For this reason, many entrepreneurs and investors are on the sidelines. But this shouldn’t stop you. Early adopters who carve out a niche in the industry are seeing solid early returns. For instance, our clients are obtaining licenses to operate and choosing to put them on the market to be sold. We are consistently seeing 10 x returns within one year.

Obtaining your cannabis license is a low risk high reward proposition. But with cannabis prohibition slowing losing its grip, more and more licensing opportunities will occur and the space will get more saturated and competitive. Avoid the rush to the floodgates by being an early adopter, capture early market share and get ahead of the “green rush”

3.   Avoid the Red Ocean– red oceans exist where sharks are feeding on their prey. This analogous to whats happening in the cannabis industry. Despite being at the early stages, cannabis is still a highly competitive industry. Some spaces are already extremely competitive and saturated. Evaluate the cannabis landscape and see what gaps, or blue ocean, exists out there. Catch up on cannabis news, sign up for cannabis blogs, and consult with experts as soon as possible.

4.    Clarify Your Roadmap & Go – when you commit to starting your venture, go through a series of exercises to drill down on your vision and plan. Vision board, use design thinking, plan a strategic planning retreat, whatever it takes. Consulting with an industry expert is also highly suggested to get insider perspective and informed advice. Discuss your ideas with trusted and selected friends and colleagues that can give you their honest take. Narrow down your ideas and weigh the costs and benefits of each. Speak with prospective partners and co-founders. After you’ve exhausted these efforts, make a decision and GO!

5.    Have Your End Goal In Mind – failing to plan is planning to miss the green rush. Is this a short or long-term investment? How do you define success? Are you interested in vertical integration? What is your exit strategy? Once you can answer these and answer other related questions, reverse engineer and map out all critical strategies and tasks needed to achieve your end goal.

6.     Licensing is Key – Whatever avenue you choose, you will most likely need a commercial cannabis license to operate. Like any industry, cannabis licensing stretches across many verticals: retail, manufacturing, cultivation, distribution, testing, and delivery. Licensing in California is a two-fold process: obtain local authorization and then apply for a state license. Sounds straightforward, but the application itself is quite complex. Consult experts on this and don’t take short-cuts or take it all on your own.Cities are looking for applicants that know what they’re doing and the application is how you will get measured. Failed applications can result from incomplete documents, inaccurate materials, cookie cutter documents, technical oversights, language not aligned with local and state law etc. Missteps will lead to serious delays in getting your application approved. Avoid being penny wise and pound foolish.

7. Get Your Finances In Order - make no mistake, it takes a sizeable investment to get into the cannabis industry. Application and consulting fees will cost you around $100,000 and startup operational costs will cost a few hundred thousand, minimum.You will also need reserves while you strive toward positive cash flow. Additionally, city’s issue licenses for applicants that are fiscally strong and sustainable. They want to see roughly $500,000 + in your bank or in assets. If you don’t have that, find an investor or partner who does, and share your piece of the pie. There is plenty opportunity to go around.

8. Real Estate is an X Factor - to obtain a commercial cannabis license, you will need to secure properly zoned property. You can buy or lease real estate. The city and state will need to know you have permission to conduct cannabis activity at your site. Cannabis property rates are sky rocketing by the day while cannabis zoning laws can be unclear. Look out for deals that may drain your cash flow and hurt your bottom line. Contingency deals are advisable. Consult with experts to help you negotiate your terms and ensure your property fits the city’s zoning requirements.

9. Build Your Dream Team - anticipate your growth and prepare to build your dream team. Bootstrap as much as possible until growing your team is necessary.Attend trade shows, local cannabis meetups, and network on LinkedIn to find like-minded and like-spirited individuals in the space. Find technically sound people with values and mission alignment. And if you need more advanced help, seek out a cannabis hiring firm and pay them to do the heavy lifting of screening potential candidates that fit your dream team goals.

10. Course Correct, Pivot, Stay Agile and Stay Hungry - the road ahead is exciting, yet filled with highs and lows. Your plan will sometimes be met with resistance, doubt, may not be feasible or may be the wrong move. Be brave and course correct. Pivot when needed. Speed matters here so be agile. Celebrate small wins and stay humble, yet ferociously hungry.


Thousands of cannabis licenses are set to expire in California. 'Some of them won’t be able to survive.'

Amy DiPierro, Palm Springs Desert SunPublished 4:19 p.m. PT March 20, 2019 | Updated 4:57 p.m. PT March 20, 2019

The clock is ticking for thousands of legal cannabis licenses set to expire over the coming months.

More than 10,000 licenses are due to lapse over the next six months, according to a Desert Sun analysis of state licensing data downloaded March 14. The anticipated expirations complicate the efforts of legal cannabis companies to follow the letter of state law, which requires all businesses touching the marijuana plant to have a valid license. Without a license, operators face a choice to either close their doors or slip into the black market.

California regulators awarded thousands of temporary licenses in 2018, each lasting 120 days plus additional 90-day extensions.

To transition the industry to a permanent licensing system, state rules prohibit the renewal of the temporary licenses in 2019. But the operators of cannabis companies that have opened for business with temporary licenses worry their current paperwork will expire before state regulators award them annual licenses.

The number of active and inactive cannabis licenses fluctuates each day, as state agencies award new licenses and existing licenses expire.  

An analysis of cannabis licensing data from the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) also found:

  • The number of temporary licenses awarded by the CDFA and the BCC, minus the expired licenses, spiked in the final months of 2018 before the agencies had to stop awarding temporary licenses under state rules.

  • Many licenses awarded by the CDFA and the CDPH, which oversees the manufacturers of products like edibles and tinctures, will start to expire before the bulk of licenses awarded by the BCC, which regulates retailers, distributors and laboratories.

  • More than 6,000 licenses awarded by the CDFA, which regulates cultivators, are due to expire in the six months ending Sept. 14 if they do not receive replacement licenses, the most expirations of the three agencies.

  • As of March 20, the three agencies had awarded a total of 124 annual licenses, a figure dwarfed by thousands of temporary licenses expected to expire.

Lawmakers have already created one avenue to tide over temporary licensees: A non-renewable provisional license meant to bridge the gap between temporary and annual licenses, which agencies can issue through Jan. 1.

A statement from CDPH said the agency "is working diligently to process license applications before the temporary license expires," adding that applicants can speed up the review process by responding to questions quickly. 

The expirations are a less pressing concern at the Bureau of Cannabis Control, where most temporary licenses won't start expiring until June. The agency plans to issue provisional licenses to qualifying temporary licensees and annual licenses to companies that don't have a temporary license, said Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for the Bureau.

California lawmakers are also contemplating an additional fix, SB-67, which would extend all temporary license expiration dates until the end of 2019 and allow regulators to issue provisional licenses through July 1, 2020. The bill, which has garnered support from cannabis growers and industry groups, was last amended March 4.

Coachella Valley cannabis insiders said they have been keeping in touch with the three state licensing authorities in the hopes of getting annual licenses before their temporary ones run out, but most are hopeful that SB-67 will reform the rules so that companies trying to stay compliant aren’t forced out of the legal business.

Jeff Homolya examines marijuana plants at Canndescent in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., where he works as the Cultivation Manager, March 7, 2018. (Photo: Zoe Meyers/The Desert Sun)

Canndescent, a 200-person company that grows, manufactures and distributes cannabis in Desert Hot Springs, has reassigned an employee from her usual job to have her focus on licensing, said Tom DiGiovanni, the company’s chief financial officer. Canndescent has 13 licenses in California, and it needs to convert all of them to annual licenses, he said, so staying in contact with regulators and sending them additional information as requested is a full-time job.  

DiGiovanni said he’s optimistic that lawmakers will devise a stopgap measure to extend temporary licenses. But Canndescent could face serious pipeline problems if not, he added. If one of Canndescent’s cultivation licenses lapses, the growers can’t simply transfer the crop to another Canndescent license that’s still valid under state rules. And Canndescent could face a shrinking list of customers if the retailers that buy its products lose their temporary licenses.

“Some of them won’t be able to survive. They won’t come back,” DiGiovanni said. “That supports the illegal market, so it doesn’t do anybody good.”

Canndescent has capital reserves to fall back on, but tapping into those funds “would not be ideal by any stretch of the imagination,” DiGiovanni said, because it would divert money away from investing in the company's growth. Canndescent's leaders aim to quadruple annual revenue and hit $40 million in 2019, he said.

Rod McClelland trims marijuana at Canndescent in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., March 7, 2018. (Photo: Zoe Meyers/The Desert Sun)

Licensing deadlines are also approaching for another big player, MedMen, which operates in five states. MedMen’s manufacturing license in Desert Hot Springs, for example, will expire on April 8. The expiration date won’t interfere with MedMen operations, since the facility is still under construction, according to Daniel Yi, the company’s senior vice president of corporate communications.

Yi said MedMen employees are in the process of applying for annual licenses. He said he doesn’t foresee that the company’s retail licenses, which won't expire until July and August, will be interrupted by licensing hiccups either.

“We’re trying to legalize cannabis,” Yi said. “I hope nobody thought it was going to be simple.”

In this Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, file photo pedestrians walk past one of the MedMen marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. (Photo: Richard Vogel, AP file)

But for smaller operations, the uncertainty is hard to stomach. James Montoya, the owner of GGMP Veterans Corporation, a startup in Desert Hot Springs that only has one cultivation license, hasn’t harvested its first crop. The company's temporary license expires March 27, so Montoya has been calling state regulators regularly to ask if his annual license is ready. He first submitted paperwork for the license in September.

“It’s like you finished high school, you turned everything in, you took your finals, but no one can tell you when you’re going to graduate,” he said. “A half a year later and we’re still in the same place where we began.”

Montoya is worried that if he doesn’t get an annual license before the temporary one lapses, he’ll be forced to lay off his four employees and lose thousands of dollars.

Still, Brent Buhrman, the president of the Coachella Valley Cannabis Alliance Network, a trade group, said the consensus among his organization's members is decidedly chill.

“Where you would think there’d be a level of concern, it’s more of a wait-and-see attitude,” he said. “I can’t see the state letting this entire thing get this far and then basically implode on itself.”

Buhrman said he and his staff haven’t fielded a phone call from so much as one concerned member.

Laurie Holcomb, the founder of BlackStar Industrial Properties, is developing a 620,000-square-foot campus in Desert Hot Springs for growing, manufacturing and distributing cannabis. So far, BlackStar has tenants in the process of moving into their spaces, but none of the tenants will be open for another 6 to 8 weeks.

Holcomb said she thinks regulators will grant provisional licenses to businesses that have applied for an annual license but haven’t been awarded one yet.

“From our viewpoint, it’s been a fair process,” she said.

But Holcomb sees a bigger issue on the horizon. If the state doesn’t start issuing more annual licenses to cultivators, where will manufacturers and retailers get their weed?  

“There’s going to be a supply and demand problem,” she said.

Amy DiPierro covers real estate and business at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. Reach her at amy.dipierro@desertsun.com or 760-218-2359.

Summary of Major Changes of the Recently Amended Article 4 of Chapter X City of Los Angeles Ordinance

The most significant updates to Article 4 include a revised definition of “Undue Concentration” to increase the number of the number of cannabis businesses and define ownership concentration.  In addition, a tiered system of “Social Equity Applicants” was permitted to allow for economically disadvantaged persons to apply for cannabis licenses.

  • The definition of undue concentration was updated to allow for additional business licenses according to population density and applicable zoning laws.  This includes:

    • One Store Front Retail (Type 10 license) for every 10,000 residents.

    • One Microbusiness (Type 12 license) for every 7,500 residents.  A Microbusiness is an entity that engages in cultivation on less than 10,000 square feet.

    • One square foot (1 sq. ft.) of cultivation space for every 350 square feet of zoned land.

    • One license to manufacturer (Type7) for every 7,500 residents.

    • Existing dispensaries (EMMD) and processors (as defined under Section 104.08) are not subject to this new rule.

    • Additional rules, including calendar days, for how applications are submitted, accepted, processed, approved and denied was also clarified. Some limits pertaining to zoning (i.e. M1-M3, MR1, MR2), as well as limits on the number of licenses (i.e. 1 cultivation license per every 2,500 square feet of cultivation space) were also delineated.

    • The Undue Concentration provisions may be waived if the City Council believes doing so would serve “public convenience or necessity.”

  • Ownership & Percentages was also updated to clarify and limit the number of individuals that may own cannabis businesses

    • A person may own or have a maximum 20% profit share in up to three Storefront retail (Type 10) or Delivery (Type 9) businesses. 

  • Three types of Social Equity Applications (Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, each which must be approved by DCR), were introduced:

    • Tier 1 applicants are reserved for those with low income AND a prior California Cannabis Arrest or Conviction; OR Low income and a minimum of 5 years California residency. 

      • Restrictions, including a minimum ownership requirement (51%), as well as benefits including expedited renewal processing, fee deferrals are also detailed.

    • A “Tier 2 Social Equity Applicant” was also defined to include anyone with a Low Income & 5 years' residency or 10 years residency and no less than a 33.3% ownership.

    • A “Tier 3 Social Equity Applicant” was also defined to essentially include those entities that support Tier 1 & Tier 2 applicants and regulates the price per square foot of property, in certain instances.

  • Finally, this ordinance also requires a completed financial statement for the “most recently completed fiscal year” for any cannabis businesses applying for a renewal license.


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