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Fresno man charged after using orange grove to hide marijuana plants

2/14/20--A federal grand jury charged Diego Garcia Lua with illegally raising marijuana plants. According to court documents, Lua used his orange grove to hide the presence of over 6,300 marijuana plants. He was charged with "cultivating marijuana and maintaining a drug-involved premises." If convicted, Lua faces life in prison and over $10 million in fines. Read

LA County DA moves to dismiss 66,000 marijuana-related convictions

2/14/20--Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey has asked a judge to dismiss and seal the records of 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases as early as 1961, as well as, 3,700 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases. Lacey called it a marker of the sweeping change that can occur when government partners with technology leaders. Read

The Governor’s Cannabis‑Related Proposals

2/14/20--The Governor’s 2020‑21 budget includes various cannabis‑related proposals, including both budget trailer legislation and budget change proposals from multiple departments. To help the Legislature in its consideration of the Governor’s various proposals, this report: (1) provides some background on cannabis regulation and taxation in California, (2) describes the Governor’s proposals, and (3) provides recommendations on these proposals for legislative consideration. Read

California calls pot smoke, THC a risk to moms-to-be

A California panel voted Wednesday to declare marijuana smoke and the drug's high-producing chemical — THC — a risk to pregnant women and their developing fetuses and require warning labels for products legally sold in the nation's largest pot market. The decision by the little-known Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee will not take effect for a year, and it remains to be seen what impact it will have on the state's emerging marijuana industry. Read

Study: California medical marijuana programs attracted past users

12/5/19--Results from a prevention study in California conducted by the RAND Corporation, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, suggest that medical marijuana programs in that state attracted a substantial number of young people who already were heavy users of the drug. Read

Medical marijuana cards often sought by existing heavy users

12/4/19--According to new results published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, young adults who seek enrollment in state medical marijuana programs are often those who already use heavily rather than those with mental or physical issues that could be addressed by the drug. Read

California suspends hundreds of cannabis business licenses, Massachusetts issues quarantine on vapes

11/16/19--The California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) suspended hundreds of cannabis business licenses for businesses lagging in compliance with the state’s track-and-trace training requirements. Elsewhere, in Massachusetts, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) implemented a quarantine on “all vaporizer products” less than a week after a judge ruled to exclude medical cannabis vape products from Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-month ban on all vaping product sales. Read

Marijuana use among pregnant women continues to rise

11/5/19--Marijuana use by pregnant women appears to be on the rise. According to new data, more women are using cannabis while pregnant. A new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association says that marijuana is now the most commonly used illicit drug among pregnant women in the U.S. Data collected from 276,000 pregnant women in a Northern California study found that cannabis use nearly doubled from 2009 to 2017. Read

Investigators seize and destroy millions of marijuana plants found in California worth more than $1 billion

11/2/19--A search of Southern California cultivation sites last month turned up about 10 million marijuana plants worth more than $1 billion, which were destroyed by investigators, authorities in the Golden State said. The investigators uncovered the giant haul of weed in an Oct. 25 sweep of 11 fields in the Arvin area, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Read

Not hard to find illegal marijuana dispensaries in Chula Vista

11/2/19--Currently, there are no legal and permitted marijuana dispensaries in the City of Chula Vista. Despite Chula Vista Police attempts to crack down on illegally operated shops, it's still not hard to find another a few blocks away. The city is planning to issue licenses to approved businesses as early as next year, but admits the process for bringing licensed dispensaries online has been more difficult than they thought. Read

San Diego marijuana businesses among nearly 400 with suspended licenses

11/6/19--The California Bureau of Cannabis Control last week suspended the licenses of nearly 400 businesses — including nine in San Diego County — for failure to enroll in a system meant to keep tabs on the state's cannabis inventory. The suspensions, which went into effect Friday, represent roughly 16% of the licensed retailers, distributors and testing facilities in the state. Read

Los Angeles becomes home to first cannabis cafe In U.S.

10/2/19--The Lowell Cafe, located in West Hollywood, opened Tuesday (Oct. 1) in hopes of “breaking the stigma” around marijuana, and creating an environment where people can “comfortably consume and enjoy a fantastic meal,” said general manager Lily Estasnislao. Read

Here are the cannabis bills on California Governor Newsom’s desk

9/19/19--Last week, the California State Legislature made final decisions regarding several key cannabis bills that could have a significant impact on the world’s largest cannabis market. Governor Gavin Newsom has until October 13 to approve or veto the bills endorsed by the legislature. If he does not act on the bills, they will become law by default. Read

Berkeley City Council to vote on decriminalizing psychedelics

9/6/19--The Berkeley, California City Council will decide next week whether to advance a resolution to decriminalize psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca. The development comes two months after the body’s Public Safety Committee unanimously voted to send the measure to a separate commission focused on health. The full Council will either approve or reject that recommendation on Tuesday. Read

A whiff of the music festival future? Outside Lands sells cannabis for the first time

8/12/19--Outside Lands, the largest event in California, and the country, is the first to allow legal sales and consumption of cannabis. It is a preview of what may eventually become commonplace for other big gatherings such as Southern California’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (though no such permit has yet been requested) as marijuana rules solidify. Read

Cannabis workload called ‘overwhelming’ by Santa Barbara County leaders

7/16/19--The impact of the cannabis industry on Santa Barbara County is coming from a variety of directions, including a very heavy work load for the front line staff. Some are being slowed by the lack of a full and complete policy along with issues raised by residents, mainly near the operations. They have spoken out strongly about air quality, buffer zones from residential, and sensitive sites and other quality of life issues. Read

Illegal pot farm bust in Santa Cruz Mountains takes down nearly 10,000 marijuana plants

6/4/19--The latest illegal pot farm bust took down more than 9,700 marijuana plants in 11 non-permitted greenhouses managed by four full-time workers at Summit Road near Russell Ridge, a county spokesman said. It is considered one of the largest sting operations against illegal commercial grow-ops in recent county history, spokesman Jason Hoppin said. Read

Explosion leads to suspected drug lab, arrest in Goleta neighborhood

6/5/19--James F. Girona was arrested early Wednesday after an explosion — allegedly triggered by an illicit drug lab. According to Senior Deputy Jeremy Rogers of Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, during the initial assessment, it appeared Girona was likely operating a clandestine drug lab. Further investigation revealed Girona had been using volatile chemicals as part of a suspected butane honey oil extraction, when something went wrong, sparking the explosion. Read

Marijuana tax windfall fails to materialize in California – Pot Tax 101 for Pennsylvania?

5/10/19--A thriving underground marijuana market and slower than projected legal sales have caused California to slash the windfall of tax revenue it expected to reap after legalizing the drug. The state is now projecting weed taxes will amount to $288 million for the year that ends in June, and $359 million for the following year. That’s a reduction of $67 million and $156 million, respectively, from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s January budget forecast. Read

The unintended consequences of cannabis: Can avocado and marijuana growers peacefully coexist?

5/10/19--According to Scott Van Der Kar, an avocado grower in the Carpinteria foothills, avocado growers were “broadsided” by the news that the Oxnard-based pest control companies that treat their crops would no longer spray the insecticides that work best on avocados, for fear of contaminating cannabis crops with the slightest trace of residue and getting sued. The growers’ quandary has sent county officials scrambling to find a solution, and time is of the essence. Read

Police: Accused killer told cops that bong hits led to violent episode

5/9/19--Blood tests on Bryn Spejcher, who is accused of murdering Chad O’Melia, revealed the presence of marijuana. An examination of the burned plant material remaining in the bong she used and the five grams of marijuana collected revealed no drugs beyond THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Read

Marijuana grow discovered at Castro Valley fire site

5/7/19--The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office discovered a suspected illegal marijuana growing operation at the site of a home fire. Four people were arrested and booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, authorities said. Read 

Into the Weeds: Regulating pesticides in cannabis

4/25/19--Taken as a whole, California’s pesticide regulations for cannabis are considered by most industry watchers to be the strictest in the country. California has the advantage of a sophisticated Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) with significant expertise in toxicology and human-health risk assessment. In some cases, that expertise—paired with broad support for environmental regulation—has helped the state establish rules governing pesticide use that are stricter than those set by the U.S. EPA. Read

It was the largest cannabis farm in SLO County. Supervisors just voted to shut it down

4/13/19--CFAM Management Group, a large cannabis business in Nipomo, is being forced to shut down after the county Board of Supervisors stripped its permitting Tuesday, citing multiple code violations and saying it was intentionally thwarting regulations and would likely continue to operate in bad faith. Read

5th grader shares marijuana edibles with students, police say

4/12/19--According to Fresno Police and a parent, one 5th grade student brought cookies to school and shared them with about 5 classmates. Those cookies are believed to have been marijuana edibles. It isn't known how the student got the cookies or if he even knew what they were at this point. Read

Cannabis brand Dosist opens first shop, brings product to Coachella

4/12/19--One of Hollywood’s go-to cannabis brands Dosist opened its first-ever store Wednesday in Venice. But they're not the only ones going brick-and-mortar with weed; Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus recently began offering CBD assortments. Other up-and-coming  Los Angeles-based cannabis brands include DedCool Cannabis Chazsticks, a new line of vapes called Nuvata, and the Harry Styles-loved brand Higgs. Read

California cannabis firms struggle to make sense of new track-and-trace system, fanning fears over its expanded rollout

3/21/19--Many California marijuana business executives welcome the state’s newly mandated track-and-trace system as an opportunity to ensure industry transparency – but they worry the technology’s rollout could prove rocky. Industry officials report widespread confusion about how to operate Metrc, the software the state relies on to power the track-and-trace system. Read

California is awash in cannabis cash, which some use to bribe public officials

3/17/19--In the more than two years since California voters approved the licensed growing and sale of recreational marijuana, the state has had a half-dozen government corruption cases as black-market operators try to game the system, through bribery and other means. California is awash in marijuana cash from inside and out of the state, partly because marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law, so banks won’t accept cash from the businesses. Read

L.A. County sheriff’s deputy pleads guilty in brazen pot heist

3/4/19--Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Marc Antrim, who led a heist of more than a half ton of marijuana from a downtown warehouse, pleaded guilty to federal charges Monday. Antrim's admitted his role in the scheme during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, who is scheduled to sentence the deputy on June 3. Read

There’s still so much we need to learn about weed — and fast

2/11/19--Last month, UC Berkeley opened the Cannabis Research Center to start tackling some of the social and environmental unknowns about marijuana. The goal is to create a body of data to inform future policies, making marijuana safer for all. It's evident that more research is needed, and with the legalized marijuana industry growing nationwide, further research is needed soon. Read

Now for the hard part: Getting Californians to buy legal weed

1/2/19--California was the sixth state to introduce the sale of recreational marijuana, but the enormous size of the market led to predictions of soaring legal marijuana sales. Instead, sales fell. The easy part of legalization was persuading people to vote for it, industry analysts say. The hard part, now that it’s legal, is persuading people to stop buying from the black market. Read

Editorial | What’s next on horizon for legal marijuana

1/1/19--According to the Editorial Board of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the issues swirling around legal marijuana include taxation, licensing, distribution and delivery, the still-flourishing illegal market, the stark difference in how cities and counties throughout the state are regulating sales, environmental problems, testing, and establishing enforceable laws regarding operating vehicles while under the influence. Santa Cruz Sentinel did not support legalization. The reason is because despite the age declaration, younger people would have even more access to an intoxicant that is much more powerful and impairing than non-pot smokers probably realize. Read

Scientific quality of health-related articles in specialty marijuana and general newspapers in San Francisco

10/25/18--Recreational marijuana is being legalized in states across the USA, and the public relies on popular media for health information about the drug. An assessment was performed on the accuracy of reporting on health effects of marijuana use in GreenState, a specialty publication on marijuana published by the San Francisco Chronicle and the main newspaper using the Index of Scientific Quality for Health Related News Reports. Seventeen GreenState articles and four San Francisco Chronicle articles were identified for analysis. Read

Illegal marijuana dispensaries hide in plain sight in Chula Vista

10/26/18--Illegal marijuana dispensaries continue to pop up all over Chula Vista and the city is having a hard time keeping up and shutting them down. When operators are caught they are shut down and pay fines, but then move on to the next spot. The city is trying to get the problem under control with Measure Q on November's ballot, where voters will decide if shops can legally open up, or none will be allowed in the city; and either way, it will be strictly enforced. Read

California drops ‘bombs’ in updated draft of permanent rules for cannabis businesses

10/19/18--California’s proposed marijuana business regulations continue to evolve, this time in an updated draft of permanent industry rules released Friday by state officials. The proposed rules – from the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Food and Agriculture and Department of Public Health – touch on areas including marijuana delivery, packaging, and events. Regulators are slated to finalize the rules by early December, following input from the public. Read

Company builds cannabis campus in Needles to house quarter of a million marijuana plants

10/5/18--Just two hours from Las Vegas, Vertical Companies, a California company is building a cannabis campus that will have enough cultivation space for a quarter of a million marijuana plants. The facility is being built to help keep up with the continued demand for marijuana in the golden state. Read

2 charged with illegally operating pot delivery service

10/6/18--Fardin Esmaeili and his employee were both arrested and charged with operating an illegal marijuana delivery service in the city of San Diego, police said. The home was illegally being used as a marijuana delivery service called Leaf Life. A search of the home found a stash 50 pounds of high-grade marijuana, edibles, concentrated marijuana, and $3,500 cash. Read

3,200 marijuana plants seized in bust at two Conejo Valley residences

9/26/18--Thousand Oaks police recovered about 3,200 marijuana plants from an illegal growing operation based out of two Conejo Valley residences. The plants and other evidence was recovered from a residence in the 100 block of Maple Road and another in the 400 block of South Ventu Park Road. Read

Fresno’s half-baked marijuana plan makes perfect sense … for 1998

9/12/18--The draft regulations for commercial marijuana businesses unveiled by Fresno officials is outdated. Despite the fact that tens of thousands of Fresno residents are marijuana users, apparently the city is rolling out a half-baked plan that would allow up to 14 dispensaries as well as other cannabis businesses, two decades after the rest of the state. Read

Alhambra looks to ban recreational marijuana businesses

9/11/18--Alhambra is set to ban recreational marijuana businesses in the city – at least for now. The City Council unanimously gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would ban all land uses associated with recreational marijuana – cultivation, manufacture, distribution, retailers, and laboratory testing. In addition, the ordinance would prohibit delivery of recreational marijuana anywhere in the city but would allow for deliveries of marijuana for medical use to a patient’s primary caregiver in Alhambra. Read

Marijuana stinks. Here’s what California cities, businesses, and neighbors can do about it.

9/11/18--Marijuana odors have triggered lawsuits against marijuana companies, and they have also led residents to try to block commercial operations from coming to California where recreational marijuana is legal and, increasingly, big business. Cities can mandate odor-control systems for home growers, or as a condition for approval of marijuana-related business permits. However, some in the industry note that odor requirements aren’t yet universal, and that odor control is yet another element of the marijuana business in which regulators aren’t keeping pace with the spread of legalization. Read

Many California marijuana products failing safety tests

9/11/18--Nearly 20 percent of marijuana products in California have failed tests for potency and purity since the state started requiring the checks on July 1, a failure rate some in the industry say has more to do with unrealistic standards and technical glitches than protecting consumer safety. Read

Amid opioid crisis, researchers aim to put medical marijuana to test

9/3/18--Dr. Jeffrey Chen, director of the Cannabis Research Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles, is spearheading a cannabis initiative team at UCLA to conduct a high-quality clinical study of the painkilling properties of pot — and perhaps stem the opioid epidemic. Dr. Chen says this initiative will be one of the first, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in the world dedicated to the study of cannabis and pain. Before the study can begin, however, the researchers need approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with funding. Read

SF health director Garcia forced to resign over conflict-of-interest allegations

8/23/18--San Francisco Public Health Director Barbara Garcia’s abrupt resignation came after a months-long conflict-of-interest investigation into allegations that she had failed to disclose her wife’s income from an educational institution that had been awarded a million-dollar, sole-source contract with the health department, multiple sources have confirmed. Read

Marijuana growers stare down costly, burgeoning environmental regulations

8/28/18--Marijuana growers face a slew of requirements under California’s environmental regulations, with applicants spending tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to meet requirements, industry watchers reported. Yet, California cultivators aren’t the only ones bracing to deal with the financial load surrounding environmental rules. Growers in other states are experiencing it as well. Read

California cities with pot bans object to plan to allow deliveries statewide

8/13/18--California cities object to a proposed change in state regulations that they say would allow unchecked home marijuana deliveries in places that have banned local pot sales. The League of California Cities says the change would undermine local authority and potentially lure criminal activity. Read

22 arrested in cartel-targeting raids across Southern California; thousands of pounds of drugs seized

8/8/18--Law enforcement officials conducted a series of raids across Southern California on Wednesday morning that resulted in 22 arrests and disrupted a large-scale drug operation linked to the Sinaloa cartel after a years-long investigation. Read

Cypress Hill Rapper who opposed California legalization opens a marijuana store

8/12/18--On Wednesday, rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill and Prophets of Rage will celebrate the grand opening of his new “Dr. Greenthumb” recreational marijuana dispensary in southern California. It’s the latest stage in what’s been a significant evolution for the prominent cannabis-friendly musician, who less than two years ago declared himself opposed to the state’s marijuana legalization ballot measure that is making his new venture possible. Read

Illegal marijuana market still thrives in Los Angeles

7/5/18--California ushered in broad marijuana legalization nearly six month ago, but the illegal market still thrives. Nowhere is that more apparent than Los Angeles County. Hundreds of illegal pot shops operate, undercutting the fledgling legal market. The sheriff's department has created a specialized unit to target illegal dispensaries, and its members raid one shop each week, on average. At that pace, it would take many years to close all the existing illegal operations. Read

Here’s how California might enforce violations of marijuana business rules

7/3/18--For now, regulators say they plan to maintain a softer approach to enforcement instead of immediate crackdowns in which fines are levied on companies that don’t heed the law. The Bureau of Cannabis Control, which oversees retailers, distributors, testing labs, and microbusinesses, will likely run point on inspections and enforcement, although the DFA oversees growers and the DPH governs edibles makers and concentrate producers. The strongest enforcement actions will likely be reserved for repeat violators. Read

San Francisco one of few US cities with marijuana lounges

3/15/18--Only California permits marijuana smoking at marijuana retailers with specially designed lounges, but it also allows cities to ban those kids of shops. San Francisco is the only city in the state to fully embrace Amsterdam-like coffee shops, the iconic tourist stops in the Netherlands where people can buy and smoke marijuana in the same shop. Read

California is cracking down on referrals to unlicensed pot shops

3/8/18--California’s marijuana czar has warned a prominent cannabis referral company that invested heavily in legalization to stop pushing customers towards illegal pot shops. Two months after legal cannabis shops opened in California, the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control said it has contacted more than 900 businesses operating without proper licenses. It has alleged WeedMaps is directing customers to unlicensed pot purveyors, sending a cease-and-desist letter warning the business to stop. Read

Sessions targets immigration protections as states consider sanctuary policies ror marijuana

3/8/18--U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned California that the federal government would use all its legal powers to fight protections provided unauthorized immigrants, a day after suing the state over its sanctuary laws. Read

San Bruno passing on marijuana

6/29/18--San Bruno is passing on pot, as the City Council agreed to extend a temporary moratorium prohibiting cannabis companies to a permanent ban. Officials said while they recognize the rights of those who smoke marijuana, the public safety risks posed by allowing cannabis selling, manufacturing, cultivating or other commercial uses were too great. Read

Marijuana farmers sue the county

2/22/18--Marijuana farmers have undertaken a number of challenges to the recently enacted ban on cannabis cultivation, including lawsuits seeking to overturn the ban and challenges to the county’s refusal to produce a memorandum sent to all supervisors that was the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request. Read

California proposes zero tolerance policy for underage drivers on marijuana

2/22/18--A recently introduced piece of legislation in California's State Senate is targeting Golden State teenagers and young adults as a way to combat wider concerns about stoned drivers, despite a lack of accepted science or data supporting the bill. Senate Bill 1273 (SB1273), introduced by State Senator Jerry Hill, D - San Mateo, would create a zero tolerance policy for cannabis use by California drivers under the age of 21. The bill would give law enforcement officers the ability enforce a one year driver's license suspension for any minor who fails a roadside cannabis test, no matter when they last consumed the now-legal plant. Read

California initiates enforcement against approximately 500 unlicensed marijuana businesses

2/21/18--Less than two months after California’s legal cannabis industry launched on New Year’s Day, state officials are starting to target hundreds of marijuana companies that are operating illegally without a license. The state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has sent out about 500 cease-and-desist letters to companies that are doing business but haven’t begun the application process. Read

Still buying illegal weed in California? It may not be as clean as you think

2/2/18--In California, plenty of growers run legit, organic operations—but cannabis can be a dirty, dirty game. According to California Academy of Sciences curator Jack Dumbacher, it's a mess out there, and it costs taxpayers millions of dollars to clean up the sites. As cannabis use goes recreational in California, producers are facing a reckoning: They’ll either have to clean up their act, or get out of the legal market. Read

Victorville refuses to approve Chalice marijuana festival; faces lawsuit

6/28/18--The Victorville City Council refused to sign off on allowing cannabis consumption and sales at the Chalice California festival, set for July 13-15 at at the San Bernardino County fairgrounds. The decision came after a few dozen people spoke in support of the festival, citing the economic benefit Chalice brings to the community, its solid safety record, and an opportunity to help move newly legalized cannabis culture “out of the shadows.” Read

Once pot friendly N. California county bans marijuana

1/17/18--A previously pot friendly rural Northern California county has reversed course and banned commercial marijuana farms, paving the way for lawsuits from growers who previously received permits and paid taxes. A newly constituted Calaveras County board of supervisors last week voted 3-2 to ban marijuana, giving some 200 farmers with permits about three months to wind down operations. Read