The WeedWeek California Pro newsletter

Every Thursday morning the newsletter delivers exclusive reporting and analysis about what’s happening in the California market and why it matters for your business.
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March 30 2022,

TOGETHER WITH

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SOMETHING NEW...

THE BIG IDEA

Hi all,

We’re excited to introduce the first issue of WeedWeek California Pro, the only publication for people who make money in the world’s largest cannabis market. 

In this new newsletter, I’ll deliver exclusive reporting and analysis every week. Subscribers will also have access to our new, interactive tax and licensing maps, powerful tools to help you better understand the Golden State’s $5B+ cannabiz. 

Check it all out with a two-week trial for just $1

And don’t worry, we’ll still publish the free WeedWeek newsletter on Fridays.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find it valuable.

Alex

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SHAKE UPS

LA SET TO OVERHAUL LICENSE PROCESS

LA’s Department of Cannabis Regulation held a webinar yesterday on forthcoming changes to the city’s cannabis ordinance.

Built on top of entrenched grey and illegal markets, the city known as the world’s largest market has struggled with a host of challenges since the California REC market opened in 2018.

  • Cat Packer, the department’s first executive director stepped down in early March. Her former deputy Michelle Garakian has the reins on an interim basis.

Largely in response to frustrated applicants, the city began an ordinance review process in September. Among other goals, the new draft ordinance aims to clarify and accelerate licensing, with an emphasis on ensuring a smoother process for social equity applicants.

Among its proposals:

  • A lottery, probably next year, would determine winners of the “phase 3, round 2” process for social equity applicants seeking retail licenses.
  • They no longer have to be holding the property to apply for a license, but the definition of who qualifies as a social equity applicant is narrower.
  • City cultivation licenses would be reserved for social equity applicants through January 1, 2025.
  • Emily Hackman, a license specialist with law firm Vicente Sederberg, said one big takeaway is DCR would have to meet codified deadlines for responding to applicants 

The new ordinance could be approved by city council as soon as April, but they will also have opportunities to modify and delay it. 

See the city’s presentation here.

BILL PROPOSES BIG YELLOW WARNING LABELS

State Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D – Sac.) is holding a virtual press conference today to support SB 1097, the Cannabis Right to Know Act. It would require cannabis products to carry big yellow warning labels.

If the bill passes:

  • One-third of packages would have to be covered with warnings about DUI, use during pregnancy and cannabis’ potential to contribute to mental health problems, especially when THC is consumed frequently or in high doses. 
  • One of the messages would say: “WARNING: Buy Legal! Illegally sold cannabis is more likely to contain unsafe additives or harmful contaminants such as mold or pesticides.”

The California Cannabis Industry Association opposes the bill.

In a March 25 letter to Sen. Richard Roth, (D-Inland Empire), chair of the Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development, CCIA executive director Lindsay Robinson argued the bill would:

  • Create additional regulatory burdens for an industry that has its share
  • Be redundant since products already have “significant and effective warning labels”
  • Lead to increased landfill waste and carbon emissions
  • Do nothing to reduce demand for illegal product

The bill’s supporters include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

  • California ER visits with cannabis as the primary cause have increased from 9,793 in 2016 to 14,999 in 2019.

Dr. Lynn Silver, a pediatrician and senior advisor to with Getting It Right From the Start, a program by of the non-profit Public Health Institute, which promotes public health and equity on cannabis policy called the labels a “very low cost intervention.” 

  • “I think it’s in the interests of the cannabis industry for consumers to have safer positive experiences and to avoid adverse experiences,” Silver said. 
  • She expressed optimism that the bill would pass. “We hope to have the support of the cannabis industry as well.”

EQUITY

SAN DIEGO CO. BEGINS LISTENING TOUR

San Diego County, the second most populous in the state, also has one of the lowest concentrations of dispensaries (See chart below). Now it’s seeking to develop an equity program and crack down on the illegal market. 

This week a company contracted by the county, Womxn’s Work Consulting kicked off a listening tour to discuss what equity could look like.

  • Aside from familiar equity issues, participants made intriguing, but unlikely suggestions like community cannabis gardens, farmers markets and government purchase quotas.  
  • Womxn’s Work is also conducting a community survey on what equity should look like and who should benefit. The responses will inform how the county shapes the program.
  • The listening tour continues Saturday at 10 a.m. You can tune in on Zoom

QUICK HITS

Politics:

Regulation:

Business:

Fun and interesting:

WEED DESERTS HO!

CHART OF THE WEEK

Our first chart of the week digs into WeedWeek‘s maps and state data to find the California counties with the fewest retail licenses per person, (storefront and non-storefront).

The graph takes us from Los Angeles County, where 328 active licenses amounts to just one per 30,000-ish people to Placer County which has one active license for its population of just over 400,000 people. It’s Golden State Patient Care, in Colfax, in case you’re hard up. 

  • To be included, a county had to have at least 1 pot shop and 100,000 people.

NOTABLES

Company Milestones:

Job Moves:

Upcoming:

Send your milestones to hello@weedweek.com

VAPE IT UP EDITION

WEEDWEEK HIGH SOCIETY

Collin Palmer, head of formulations at PAX with Chris Sayegh “The Herbal Chef,” and PAX COO Steven Jung smile for the camera at a tasting event for PAX’s new Live Rosin with Natural Diamonds vape pods.  Sayegh hosted the event at Nostalgia Bar & Lounge, his restaurant in Santa Monica. 

Pax
Photo by Kaitlin Parry @shootpeople_ , Courtesy of PAX

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June 23 2022,

TOGETHER WITH

THE BIG IDEA

Hi all,

Lots of fascinating stuff in today’s newsletter, let’s get to it:

  • Puffco patent suit heats up dab wars
  • Regulators respond to Cookies/Batman partnership

Enjoy,

Alex

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REGULATORS RESPOND TO COOKIES/BATMAN PARTNERSHIP

Last week I spoke to several lawyers about the partnership between the Cookies’ and DC Comics’ Batman properties. Several states prohibit cannabis marketing to kids, and while the lawyers agreed the deal carried some risk for the Cookies cannabis brand, they had varying opinions about how far out on a limb the company had put itself. (Cookies said that the cannabis company had nothing to do with the apparel company’s deal.) 

As a practical matter, decisions about these gray areas like these fall to state regulators. And in general, cases like these haven’t been a priority for regulators. Aside from Cookies, not many companies have pressed their luck. WeedWeek reached out to regulators in the dozen or so states where Cookies dispensaries operate, and while none commented specifically on the Cookies case, their responses help shed some light. Here are a few excerpts:

California:

  • The Department of Cannabis Control has not penalized anyone for marketing to kids. However, it has authority to cite an unlicensed person for violations of state cannabis law, including marketing to kids.

Colorado:

  • “Online merchandise without a clear nexus to Colorado licensees may be beyond Marijuana Enforcement Division jurisdiction. However, this would be evaluated.”
  • State law prohibits licensees from enlisting anyone to do anything it can’t.
  • The state has investigated at least one company for marketing to kids.

Montana:

  • “The Department of Revenue has no enforcement authority over apparel or other non-marijuana merchandise.”

Oklahoma:

  • Licensees can’t “engage in, circulate, or otherwise cause dissemination of advertising” that violates state law or Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority rules, including anything that depicts a cartoon or cartoon character or is designed to be especially appealing to children.” The agency has investigative authority.

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DOGWALKERS

Sac Bee publishes video of fatal shooting

The Sacramento Bee published exclusive footage of the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Soobleej Kaub Hawj during the evacuation of a June 2021 wildfire in far northern Siskiyou County. Hawj was apparently armed and the district attorney recently determined that the four officers who fired will not face criminal charges. Hawj was a member of the Hmong community whose illegal grows have been a source of contention. Members of the Hmong community say the opposition to their grows has largely been fueled by racism.

Retailers shift from state to local access

Non-profit newsroom Cal Matters looks at retailer Catalyst Cannabispush to open the first pot shops in tony SoCal beach towns like Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and El Segundo, each of which will have vote on welcoming dispensaries in November or March. Catalyst CEO and self-described “motherfucking hustler” Elliot Lewis is known for his video rants on social media.

QUICK HITS

Legislation:

Business:

Local:

Fun and interesting:

CHART OF THE WEEK

For the new and fascinating chart of the week, we’ll turn again to data put together by patent analytics company Dolcera, and published exclusively here (as far as I’m aware). As companies rush to stake their claims to cannabis IP, here are the corporate owners of the most U.S. patent filings. 

Leading the pack is Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which acquired GW Pharmaceuticals, the developer of Epidiolex, the FDA-approved CBD-pharmaceutical for severe pediatric epilepsy disorders. 

Next there’s Xyleco, a Massachusetts company turning biomass into useful products for “housing, clothing, food, medicine, energy” and other necessities. As far as I can tell, Canada’s Canopy Growth is the only company representing REC. Also on the list: Tobacco giant Altria, which has a stake in Canadian firm Cronos Group.

Courtesy: Dolcera (Dolcera.com)

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NOTABLES

Company milestones:

Job moves:

  • MWG Holdings, parent of retailer Perfect Union, named Tom Snyder CEO replacing Danyelle Bruno who took the job in November.

Upcoming:

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